Tuesday, December 29, 2015

He's Not Coming

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It's a really strange thing to think about someone else the same way that you think about your own children.

To sift through Christmas pajamas at Target looking for his size.

To assemble a bed for him to sleep in and wonder if he'll roll off.

To try to convince him to eat "just one more nugget!" before going to play on the plastic tubes 'o communicable disease.

To notice every accessory that is stamped with the characters that he loves most and wonder just how tacky it would look to have paw patrol socks + shoes on in the same outing.

It feels weird, you know?

I've tried to explain it to my husband as like a weird mom nurturing thing. (I have such poor vocabulary with things like this.)  I'm like a mama bear, I gestated, nursed, and now hustle around the needs of two littles. With news that we would be grafting in a third, my mind sprang right into action. I wanted to love on him the same way that I've loved on my others. Let's do this thing. I knew that there would be challenges with adding a third but I also knew that his maker loved him infinitely and that I was willing to muddle through it. We started prepping.

We've seen every house on zillow 100 times. We've taken off work to have first and second viewings, meet the inspection guy, and show our poor sweet real estate lady how to turn the flashlight on on her iphone so that we could look around in dark corners. We've prepared as if we were actually having another baby. My two year old asks about him and wonders when he will come over. She is excited when we strap his carseat in and tell her that he's spending the evening with us. We were ready to do whatever it took.

But he's not coming.

Obviously, I can't spell it all out for the world wide web but the tide of the circumstances that brought him into our lives has turned. Things are not playing out the way that we were absolutely sure that they would. The situation is completely out of the realm of our control. We have no say in what happens, and we have no choice but to watch from a distance and pray. We see the Lord's provision now in not allowing the homes to go through. We understand now why it never worked out (to my mom-stinct frustration) for him to officially move in.

Since Ellie was born, I've prayed this prayer over her life:

That she would see past the mirage of what SEEMS to be happening in the world around her and hold fast to what is actually true. That her identity would only ever be found in Christ. That when things all around her seemed confusing, that she would stop looking around and look. up. I've realized that praying those words over her even as a baby have prepared me for the way that I would need them in this season.

God is good, and he isn't the source of sin and brokenness. However, he allows hardship for the ones he loves that we would look past our surroundings and desperately call on Him.

As far as being a woman goes, I'm typically pretty unemotional. As in, I usually cry once a quarter at an especially touching suburu commercial. It's taken me weeks of thinking and processing to even be able to put into words what I'm feeling.

Sad. Relieved? Exhausted. Guilty for feeling relieved? Anxious. Stressed?

Obviously, we have barely stuck our big toe into the ocean that is the world of foster care and adoption.  And our big toe got burned and I'm busily wrapping it in ACE bandages while Mason is standing on the diving board ready to jump in again one day. He told me that feeling sad is okay but that just feeling sad is not enough of a reason to not give love to kids that desperately need it. Not immediately, but in a few years he feels very confident in leading our family back down that path. He's such a rock.

So, dear friends and family, that is our update. I'm sorry that it's so heavy. I've been wishing away the heaviness (and freezing cold temps) of this season but it is what it is. I'm clinging to hope that doesn't change. I'm confident our Creator sees and hears and has a purpose in all of these things. Please pray with me for this special boy as he continues down the path of transition. 

****** I was going to postpone this portion for the day that I could post a picture of our happy family of 5, but since that day is not coming, I want to make SURE that I express GRATITUDE.

To our friends who have sent extra sippy cups, meals, and giftcards to help meet the needs of this little guy, thank you. You have loved us well.

To our family that has weighed down our car with Christmas gifts and new clothes for this little guy, thank you.

To the people that we don't know that have given and prayed, your gifts are a blessing. We know that you will receive eternal rewards for them.

To my very special friends that bought us a carseat for this child on the day that we found out he was coming, thank you. We are blessed by you.

To the prayer warriors, thank you for interceding on our behalf.

What a perfect picture of the love of Christ you all have been.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Is He Coming or Is He Not?

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This is what I've been asking myself a lot lately.

We're waiting to hear news about a little boy that we might possibly (probably?) will adopt. Updates come in a "one step forward, two steps back" type of way.

I've started wondering, "Well... Is he coming or is he not?"

We feel excited, nervous, we have anticipation. But then we feel tired and unsure. We're anxious. We feel like it could be anytime but then again, maybe it could be a long time from now.

This roller coaster along with a few other high stressors are making me feel a little bit like BLAHHHHH. MERRY FREAKING CHRISTMAS OKAY?!?!

We found out last week that the house we were set to close on in mid-January had pretty much every problem a house can have so we've terminated that contract. (Oh really? You didn't know that your oven burners, outlets, and air conditioner didn't work? So weird!)

Also, my baby is getting like 100 new teeth which means you know, that he doesn't ever ever sleep.

We feel weary and tired, yet by His provision; hopeful

I always feel some hyper-spiritualized pressure to FEEL something at Christmas. Like I should be skipping around in elf shoes singing carols. Instead I'm using my Christian-ese to (nicely) curse the winter for dry crackled skin. I don't feel jolly. I feel cold.  Mostly I'm just sitting around wondering...

Well. Is he coming or is he not? 

I've been praying a lot for peace in this season and that my faith in the sovereign God that sees would keep growing. This is starting to happen and with every passing day I'm feeling a little more hopeful and a little less like the grinch. I've tried to "zoom out" and see our situation as a part in God's larger plan that we can't see the details of. Then it struck me, ironically the question that I've been asking IS Christmas.

Hundreds of thousands of other people were asking that same question way before the baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes and put into a feeding trough. I think about Elizabeth and Zechariah a lot. Faithfully living their lives even when those around them seemed to be choosing other things over the God of their forefathers. To top it off, Elizabeth was childless and I just know she wondered...

Is he coming or is he not? 

We've been promised a redeemer but there's no sign of him. We're being faithful but we're not seeing fruit. God, what are you doing? 

There were probably the same emotions that I listed- anxiety, anticipation, wondering if this thing was really going to happen or not...

Today, as Christians living more than 2000 years after the physical, bodily life of Christ, we don't wonder if he will come.

He already came.  And we KNOW that he will come again. 

This is the hope that we HAVE to cling to. If we don't we will give in to feeling helpless and whiny. We aren't helpless and we aren't like those who don't have hope. We don't WONDER. We KNOW.

HE ALREADY CAME. This is Christmas.

Our feelings of anticipation and anxiety and being a little bit nervous are RIGHT ON. We don't have to be sugar plum fairies. We can let ourselves feel the weight of wondering. Then, we can ease into the thrill of the fact that HE DID COME.

Our worry is now our assurance. Our fatigue is now our joy. Our burden has been lifted, we don't carry it anymore. We sing songs of joy wholeheartedly and smile in relief at candlelight services as we watch one small light fill up an entire room of faces that have placed their hope in his earthly arrival, death, resurrection and promise to come again one day.

He was and is faithful.

He is the rock that we stand on. He will keep his word. He will come again. We know this. We KNOW. We don't wonder. I need this to be tattooed on my forehead.

Ultimately, our adoption story is in the Lord's hands. We definitely are still having moments of "what is even happening right now??" but we are choosing to REST and we KNOW that HE IS FAITHFUL no matter the outcome.

This is Christmas. That God kept his word and came to comfort, reassure, love, and challenge his people. He showed us firmly and finally that he does see and know us. He isn't surprised by our struggle, he came to join us in it.

Merry [freaking] Christmas, yall. 🎁😘

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not a Revelation About Dedication

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In case you missed the picture of my beautifully stuffy-sweatered children this weekend, here's an update:

We dedicated Cash (also known as "$$" for shorthand) to the Lord at church on Sunday.

Since $$ has a new routine of *ahem* clearing out his bowels at 5 AM, I had plenty of extra time on Sunday to consider baby dedication. I thought about times in the Bible that a baby was dedicated, and I was reminded of Samuel.

So, here I am, innocently trying to just read about Samuel getting dedicated at the buttcrack of dawn and then be done and zone out on some Daniel Tiger. But geez, the Lord had other things to say.

Here's the first chapter of Samuel in an extreme nutshell:

Hannah wants a baby really bad. She's tired of waiting and sad and crying. She has to share her husband with a tacky other wife who is making fun of her infertility. Husband is nice and tries to help with good words. DOESN'T CUT IT. She has hit the point of NEEDING a baby and cannot be comforted. She cries so hard that the priest thinks she drunk. (I'm sure she thought "if only...")

What is striking to me is that "The Lord HAD KEPT HER FROM HAVING CHILDREN" (1.6). It was the Lord's fault! He saw that she was DISTRAUGHT and that she was dealing with a catty close relative and HE hadn't given her children.

So then later on, she cries and prays some more and "pours out her heart" to the Lord, and promises to give her son back to the Lord if he would bless her with one, and badabing... she gets pregnant.


I have been feeling a lot of the same frustrations. It feels like the Lords timing is not our timing. We are prayerfully searching for a house and even made an offer on one last week (we got outbid), so that we can provide for the new child that we are trying to adopt.

I have to admit, my prayers have turned a little bit snarky.

"Lord... I mean... whatever... we're sitting here, trying to DO YOUR WILL and ADOPT A CHILD but I mean... you're the one closing doors here... so whatever, but let me remind you of how you've commanded us to care for orphans and that THIS IS PURE RELIGION but you probably know that because you wrote that... and let me remind you that WERE TRYING TO DO A GOOD THING HERE."


And then both of my kids contracted ear infections and needed to whine their way through several days which is so nice for team morale.

So bring it back to Sunday morning. It was like a lightbulb moment. MY TIMING IS NOT THE LORD'S TIMING EVEN WHEN IM TRYING TO DO A GOOD THING. There's a reason.

Here's the rest of Hannah's story. (Again, in readers digest form.)

She had that baby. She dedicated him to the Lord. The Lord made her supa-fertile afterward and she had 3 other sons and 2 daughters. 1 Samuel 2:  Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. (v.21) He grew "taller and in favor with the Lord and people." (v.26) He served the Lord, and as he grew, the Lord was with him.

She writes a poem in 1 Samuel 2 about how the Lord reverses a lot of the things we see. Weak are strong, the infertile are fertile, the mighty are broken, etc...

And then Samuel led Israel into the time of Saul and then David which led to the lineage of baby Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. So. Maybe the Lord's timing was better for Samuel's life.

Maybe the Lord's timing is better for my life.

Maybe the Lord's timing is better for your life.

Hannah remained steadfast in her faith and confident in God's plan. (Stole that from the footnotes... thanks for the nugget Bible scholars.)

And after all of that, I didn't get any revelation about dedication, but I am choosing to trust the Lord's timing and copy the words and faithfulness of Hannah.

**As an update, we do plan to transition T into our home soon. Yes. 3 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment. We feel like it's time to bring him in, with or without a house. Please pray for all of our space-sharing hearts. Especially the little ones. Thank you friends. 

^ baby dedication cuties

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Problem With WWJD

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This post was born in the Chick Fil A drive thru line.

The grandma-esque lady driving the ride in front of mine puffed on her cigarette and dropped it haphazardly on the ground.

I watched her and thought "wow... that's kind of rude." And then, I kid you not, my mind went like this:
"but.... WWJD?!?"

If you didn't grow up in the 90's then let me help you. WWJD = What Would Jesus Do. One's level of spirituality could be easily measured by the number of colored WWJD inscribed bracelets worn all the way up the arm. Bonus points for the rainbow edition. (Exhale. That's before rainbow had a different connotation.)

So back to Chick Fil A.

What Would Jesus Do? 

My kids were asleep, so I had time to think about it. Would he

A. Put the car in park. Go pick up the cigarette, put it in the trash bin, come back, hug the lady, give her a holy kiss, a back massage, and then offer to buy her chicken sandwich?

B. Ignore it because HE DIDN'T COME TO JUDGE?!?

C. Slide out the side of the car, sneakily pick it up, hold it until she drove away, THEN throw it away so that his good deed could be done in secret?

D. Not overanalyze a stupid cigarette.

E. Not even be at CFA because his body is a temple?

Something else? Possibly tell a cryptic story about a man with a field and a basket of chicken nuggets that only those with "ears to hear" would understand?

I don't know. 

I've been a Christian for a 100 years (minus a few) and I just don't know. It's a silly thought, and I was prepared to be like Elsa and LET IT GO but then I came home and read an article a fellow Christian friend had posted on facebook.

Why did I even do that?

It was an argument by a Christian for other Christians to not support a particular Christian ministry. I kind of -ISH agreed with some of her points but I didn't think any of them were as hard and fast as how she presented them. And then I thought, "here we go again... what is the right answer here? WWJD?!"

Tis the culture to pick a pet thing and pull scripture to support it and feel really passionately about it and feel like YOU ARE RIGHT and then have a long facebook debate about it. Its so tricky though, when other believers that we love and respect feel differently about that thing. It can be so divisive.

YETTTT.... there is also a place for healthy disagreement and open and respectful conversation.

For me, this is where I have to go back to the hard and fast basics of my faith. The non-negotiables. Think through what those are. Then think about other things that I feel very strongly about but aren't necessarily a pillar of my faith. THEN think about things like the cigarette that's just burning away on the asphalt at Chick Fil A. Not a big deal. I don't know what Jesus would do. It's probably good to think though it, but it's not worth lighting a torch and storming the Marlboro Man's house.

Let's try to fight for what's really really important. Let's go back to what Jesus ACTUALLY said. Let's read our Bible instead of endless facebook posts. (But thanks for reading mine.) It's probably maybe possibly WJWD.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Doing Hard Things

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I’ll spare you the details of my junior high track and field glory days. I can summarize the jist of the self-inflicted punishment (WHY did we think running for hours would be fun?), in the phrase that I repeated over and over as I puffed around the track: “slow and steady wins the race!” I use the word “win” verrrrrrrry loosely in these terms. As in, I ran the whole last lap of the mile by myself at the first track meet. Have mercy.

Fast forward to now. I’m 4 months postpartum of back to back babies and vaguely remember a blessed thing called sleep. I’ve started to run again because, well, I’ll take a 30 minute break any way that I can get it and taking that Neuro class in college has forever ruined me with being obsessed with doing things that are good for my brain. (By the way- exercise is SUPER for your brain.)

So, here I am, painfully, slowly, gaspingly, panting around my neighborhood trying to focus on my pre-baby jeans. Day after day, at the end of the “run” (and by “run” I mean mostly WALK) I keep coming up on this big annoying hill that leads back into my apartment complex and this is where I normally slow my pace to “leisurely stroll” while willing my face to return to a color that isn’t a shade of fire engine red. Except the other day, I thought “come on now mama… DO SOMETHING HARD… RUN THIS HILL GIRL!” And I did it. And then I passed out and (almost) died.

As silly as it sounds, that phrase stuck with me when I opened the door and walked back into real life of constant rocking and burping and butt wiping. I am so super obsessed with my kids. (Follow me on Instagram if you need proof). But sometimes, the days get long… I get tired of unloading the dishwasher, and I’d rather mindlessly scroll some social media instead of engaging my toddler in another round of the “B, B, C’s.” But its like the holy spirit won’t let me forget the charge.

Do something hard mama!

Choose to joyfully serve your family. Choose to stare at your beautiful children and their perfect long eyelashes and their little eyes that watch every single thing you do instead of scrolling your phone. Do something hard. Engage them. Remember to intentionally pray with and for them.

I could have stopped there. What a fantastic challenge. But then we got a phonecall.

Through a series of events, there was a little boy who needed a home. And a mama who would stop and look at his eyelashes and watch his little eyes take in the world. He needed a dad who would take him “huntin’” (don’t even get him started on his perceived need for a knife at the tender age of 3 in order to hunt small game), and who would teach him how to show love and respect.

So here we are somewhere in the process of adopting a little guy. We don’t have any details. But we covet your prayers. Seriously. Please pray with us.

I know that this seems like a very hard thing. I already have two tiny needy people that depend on me around the clock. Adding a third will be very, very, very, hard. But then there’s the voice reminding me that hard is not bad.

Do something hard, mama.

Doing hard things reminds us that our strength is not our own. It reminds us that when we are fearful and unsure, He is faithful.

Obviously, most people won’t be getting life-changing phone calls today, but we are all charged to do hard things. Lets rise up to our challenge and draw our strength from Him.

There’s so much more I could write and so many more lessons I’ve already learned… I guess those posts are forthcoming. For now, here is how you can pray with us:

- Pray that the Lord would provide a bigger place for us to live. We currently have two bedrooms and the baby sleeps a few feet away from my face. It’s not going to work for my sleep-deprived lifestyle to have another roommate.

- Pray that our new guy would continue bonding with our other children during their play times.

- Pray that we would have wisdom and endurance to meet each challenge with grace as it comes.

Thank you, friends!

P.S. Don’t make fun of me if you see me running. In fact… never mention it… we shall never speak of my pace in public. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Best Years

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Temporary Joys

My days start with morning breathed diaper changes for 2 babies, followed by the endless cycle of nursing sessions, the preparation of food that will be thrown on the floor by my toddler, and the cleaning up of said food. When my best friend Daniel Tiger holds everyone's attention long enough for me to sprint to the restroom, I come back with my toothbrush and practice oral hygiene in the kitchen so that I can confirm from my station that the baby's eyes will not be poked out by the time I spit and rinse. 

Big woop, right? Pretty much everyone I interact with on social media is living the same life. We lament together over things that have been peed on, and I laugh out loud visualizing their kids embarrassing them at the grocery store. Also- I LOVE seeing picture of my friends kids so yall need to keep on posting, ya heard? 

On day one of flying solo with two under two my husband told me to just survive until five. That quickly became my motto in those early weeks when the tempo picked up and I was feeling overwhelmed by everyone's simultaneous need to USE THE BATHROOM all at once. I just needed to keep everyone fed and in a somewhat fresh diaper until backup arrived at 5 PM. 

Then I realized that I was made to do more than just survive. My days should be filled with more than time killers until daddy could get home and relieve me. I wanted to be present with my babies and soak them up. 

Something else my husband said on his first day back at work after number 2: 

"Who knows Hayley? This could be this first day of the best years of your life." 

How did he know? Lately, I've been trying (imperfectly, of course) to be completely present with my babies. To not wish away challenging days but to lean into scripture and pray even harder for  my kids. (Especially the big one- Lord help us! ) I kiss them and linger a little longer in the rocking chair with them because I know these days are going fast and one day I'll have to take her to school and we all know what a mascara covered wreck I'm going to be.... right before I skip happily to morning coffee with friends. 

I think, as people, but as mamas especially with lots of little eyes watching, we have to be careful where we get our fuel. On our (rare) breaks, do we run to mindless phone scrolling or to the  word of God that gives life? Facebook culture is exhausting and honestly just makes me funky most of the time. 

I've been challenging myself and others to seek first His Kingdom. To put down our phones and play on the floor with our toddlers. To sniff our newborn's head and praise the Lord for such new life. I'm not a super Christian. I don't have long passages memorized and I don't attend 5 AM Bible studies. (Yall are crazy!) But I want to keep striving towards godliness in the season that I'm in right now full of bodily fluids, Minnie Mouse, and endless loads of laundry. I'm writing to remind myself: soak up these gifts and be thankful. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On doing a good job

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Tonight I made a solo all by myself trip to walmart for cookies because I do a lot of food sharing around here and sometimes everyone just needs to eat some cookies not covered in someone else's slobber.

As I was checking out, my ears perked up at the sound of a little baby cry. I'm like one of those dogs that hears things no one else hears. (Is that a specific breed? I obviously know nothing about wildlife.) I looked behind me and saw a sweet mama who looked like she had had some high stress today. She was desperately shushing the baby. I told her about how I have babies coming out my ears at home. Really, I just have two little blessings but sometimes it feels like 10. I told her she was doing a good job and that she was a GOOD MAMA.

She started crying and telling me about how the baby's daddy had gone to the ER today and the baby hadn't had a nap and yes he looks just like his daddy with that red hair. I told her I couldn't imagine if something happened to my baby's daddy... who also happens to be my husband... and that I was really sorry about her boyfriend? husband? (Trying desperately not to say something that would make her day worse right now...) Yes. Husband. He's going to be okay. Just a long day.

I told her again that she was doing a really good job. And to hang in there. And then I hugged her in the middle of wal-mart and the cashier thought we were together and started ringing her up and I said "oh no... we don't know each other..." Read: I'm not actually buying her groceries right now.

When I walked away I started thinking about how often we just need someone to acknowledge that what we're doing is hard and that we're doing a good job.

We're all desperately fighting to defend and protect what we think is the very most important thing. Sometimes that comes out in hateful social media debate, or insensitively saying stupid things while trying to fight for what we love.

Lets just stop and tell each other "good job" sometimes. Work is hard. Babies are hard. Life is incredibly beautiful and OH MY GOSH so draining sometimes. Give yourself grace, mama. You are doing a really good job. Your babies love you so much. They cling to YOUR legs and want YOU to carry them out to the car. Even though sometimes your toddler is a little pudgy and it wouldn't hurt her to walk off those daily cheese sticks while you ALSO carry an infant carseat. (Maybe that's just me though... ) They think YOU are hilarious, and that YOU do all the voices in all the books the best.

Tonight, I'm choosing to sit back, eat a cookie(s), and remember how much fun I had with my sidekicks today. We all need to remember to give and receive a little more grace sometimes. Also, if you see a mama with a tiny infant, ALWAYS comment on how cute that baby's hair is. They will eat. that. up. Speaking from experience here.