Friday, August 28, 2015

Say It Isn't So!

                                                                    Seven, say what?!?   
 
   It's been five years since we started talking about having another biological baby. We prayed for this baby almost everyday. When Sam was six months old, we knew that God was calling our family into the opportunity to adopt. We delightfully followed. And since then we have welcomed three sweet girls into our home. A blessing it has been, indeed. God has ushered such beauty into our lives through the gift of our children. Its a treasure we hold close. And an opportunity we are honored to be a part of as we journey this life together.

                                                            4D of baby at 13.5 weeks

2D at 13.5 weeks

Many of our close friends and family knew of our desire to have one more biological child. Of course, they were beyond excited (and still shocked) when we told them. I thought I'd share a few of the hilarious questions after learning about this baby. Here are our top 10 favorites: 

1. What? You are kidding right? Was Mike surprised? 
- Nope, not kidding. And Mike was not surprised. In fact, he was there when the conception took place. Thankfully for you, I'll spare you the details. 

2. Do you know how this happens? Was this planned?
- Yes, we are both well aware. No, we hadn't been drinking. Okay, maybe one glass of wine with dinner. I can't remember. And yes, this baby was planned and prayed for throughout the last five years as we also prayed for our girls (and our children at home). 

3. Are you a glutton for punishment? Seven kids? 
- Being a parent is tough. It changes us from the inside out no matter how many you have. It is both brutal and beautiful all in one moment some days. But we really believe our children are miracles. And we feel blessed to be parents again. A glutton for punishment? Crazy? There may have been days here and there that I've questioned the same. Okay, maybe more than I'd like to admit. But those tough days, those days that I question if I have it all together? That's when God whispers His truth, "when you are weak, I am strong". Thats when I have the privilege of leaning into his promises and trusting that I can't do it all. But through Him, we can can do all things to His glory. The joy, this treasure, is ours to cherish. 

4. When are you EVER going to be done (building your family)?
- The funny (maybe not haha funny) thing about our relationship with God is that He is full of surprises. Just when I think I'm in control, He shows me otherwise. When we got married, we envisioned four children. But God continues to stretch our heart. We just had to say "Yes" to the journey. With each child, our hearts have grown to accommodate the love it takes day in and day out. So though we have our plans in our mind today, we also we trust God to provide whatever opportunities arise. To take our love without borders. 

5. Seven, oh my goodness. I mean, I can barely parent two. 
- Luckily, dear friends, you don't have to raise them. Breathe. We get that opportunity. See #3. 

6. No, really, how are you going to raise seven children?
- Thankfully, I have an amazing husband. He serves his family well and we have always come first. We are a great team. And I trust in the power of a small village to help us. I realize now, more than ever, the importance of relying on friends and family to not only physically help when they can, but to also pray us through being parents. This last year, God has shown us the importance of the people we surround ourselves with each day. Choose wisely. Be discerning. Though the decisions are ultimately in our hands, our community greatly influences direction. And when we rely and trust this group, this village, God blesses it. When two or more are gathered in His name, He is there. So He is in this place. Our home. And yours. Yes, in each moment. When we allow Him into our mess, our hardest places, we don't miss the opportunity for a loving community. God provides each need. He brings people into your life that say, Me too. 

7. Wow, okay. So seven? 
- Deep breath. Families come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Friends and family, its a beautiful thing. We are all called to different avenues in different seasons. Big families operate much the same ways that smaller families do. Yes, there are sacrifices. We all make them. Yes, we are often tired. We all are. This art of parenting is spiritual. Its holy teaching. But the reward is so great when we follow the plan He lays out for us. I think maybe He didn't reveal our family plan ahead of time because I may have been terrified too. But then again, I also wouldn't have anticipated the joy of these babies I get to love everyday either. 

8. What are you going to do when they are teenagers?
- For the love, one day at a time. We are going to do the same thing that we are doing right now. We are going to trust that if God called us to it, that He will walk us through it too. He is good. He is faithful. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it! 

9. Boy or girl?
- We don't know yet and we haven't decided if we are going to find out or not before birth. Its something we'll keep praying about. It may be fun to be surprised. But I don't like surprises when there is great anticipation. I like to be prepared. Educated. Informed. Controlled. Ahhhh, I don't know. Mike wants to find out. He says its a surprise either way. There are pros and cons to each and really, either decision will bring us great happiness. 

10. When are you due? 
- We are due Feb 22, 2016. 

11. Bonus question: Are you shooting for a reality show? 
- No, no, no. I don't even watch reality TV let alone want to be in one. Unless it was on HGTV or the travel channel, then I'd possibly consider it. For several million dollars, I'd think about it. But would probably still say no. 

   Our family and friends have been genuinely thrilled! And especially now that we are 14.5 weeks and my belly is growing. Baby looks great and I'm starting to feel better. I haven't been to any appointments yet besides having ultrasounds (thanks to my wonderful husband). 

14 week photo with our tribe

We have really appreciated the prayers and the support! We'd love it if you joined us in prayer for this little one. We have prenatal testing next week and are, of course, praying for "normal" results. I'm now in the 35 and older category - formally known as a "geriatric pregnancy" (I mean seriously, who made up that term? Most likely a single man :)) - but for sensitive hormonal sake, the not much better term is "advanced maternal age". {shake my head} I suppose it needs to be labeled something. Why no mention of my geriatric FOB, I have no idea. But I digress. What it means is that I will get poked and prodded next week to make sure baby and I are healthy because my eggs have been aging. Then anxiously anticipate the results. And pray for the best. Will you join me in praying? 

                                                         Thank you, Jesus, for this 7th baby!

   Lord, thank you for life! Thank you for the joy of this miracle growing inside of me. Thank you for our children and our family. We are so excited to get to be parents to this precious baby. Please continue to guide our hearts as parents. Help us to be patient, kind and loving. Direct us in the way you wish us to go. Show us how to live fully. We give you the glory for your blessings! Amen. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our 10 Year Vow Renewal Video





Happy 10 years to us! I've been at a loss for words lately, but this video speaks volumes (to me anyway) about so much of our life journey together. I wasn't expecting tears but as I started the walk down the isle, it was as if moments of time flashed before my eyes. I was overcome with emotion.

Best. Friends. Joy. Crazy. Family. Beauty. Raw. Hard. Redemption. Messy. Real. Love. Us.

A big thank you to all of our family and friends for supporting our marriage and directing our path by your examples of love and wisdom. And so many thanks to our close friends who live out a healthy marriage each day. Its encouraging, inspiring and refreshing. Thank you for your prayers. It takes a village. Thank you to our moms who came to watch our babies so that we could get some much needed time away - just the two of us. It was a real blessing. And we are very grateful for this time together.

Cheers to many more!

Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeBJDD20qhI&feature=youtu.be

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Thank you Letter at 6 Months Home


Girls are 6 month Post Placement with our social worker

The girls have now been home for 6 months and we have all flourished with grace and love from so many friends, family and complete strangers. God has wrapped His mighty arms around our family and given us abundant joy and hope. We are so excited to see how He continues to use our family and change us all from the inside out. 

Thank you to our moms who have flown out to be with us multiple times to offer us a little rest and relaxation while they get some cuddle time in with the kids. Thank you for doing dishes, making meals, bringing new toys and showering our kids with love. You have been a great blessing to us over and over again. 

Thank you to our dads for visiting and playing. For calling in the right moments just to say Hi. Thank you for going to parades, community days and fun at the park. The kids love the time together and enjoy your presence in our lives. 

Thank you to our big kids who have accepted their new sisters with open arms. Thank you for being so loving each day, for modeling great behavior and for gently showing your sisters how to attach to a family environment. Mama and Daddy are so proud of you. Each one of you are compassionate, kind,  warm hearted and tender. You have been flexible and understanding. Full of peace. Joyful. I'm so honored to get to watch you gracefully teach us how to accept, 



We love American food

Thank you to our bible study group who has listened to us process our time in Ethiopia. Being in Africa for one month in July has dramatically altered the way we see this world. The people and culture in Ethiopia are absolutely beautiful - something I hope to experience as often as possible. It would be an understatement to say that it has a challenge at times to acclimate back into an American way of life. We are grateful for our Journey Group who has been a community willing to let us process the emotions of adoption and the blessing of our family.  

Thank you to the many strangers who have lent a helping hand, offered kind comments and even paid for our dinner. Thank you to those who have offered prayer and asked if there was anything they could do to help. Thank you to the many mamas who didn't judge us when our girls got upset as we passed the food isle without eating or when we went out to eat and they cried when it was time to leave. Thank you for understanding that kids get tired and Thank you for your kindness offering help, blessing over our meal and showing appreciation for our family. 

Who me?

Thank you to our friends who have blessed us with sweet grace. We have shown up late, missed e-mails, didn't reply to texts and forgotten birthdays. We have had to bow out of events, been super late to church and at times seemed to be MIA. Yet, your love for our family continues as we pour into our children's needs. Thank you for the gifts, early morning runs, coffee breaks, babysitting and groceries. We appreciate the beautiful words of wisdom and mercy when we needed it the most. 

Sharing Food

Thank you to our girls who have allowed us to be part of their story. For trusting us to witness some huge breakthroughs and milestones. Thank you for joining us in prayer and for the blessings you bring each day. 



Thank you for the laughter and the smiles. We are so grateful that you are home with us!

Precious :)