Sunday, November 17, 2013

What A Difference A Month Makes!

I've had a lot of questions about our current adoption process so this seems like the easiest way to address them all. I've struggled with how much to share openly and decided that honesty is the best policy! There will always be parts of our children's stories that are private though.

Pumpkin Patch time!
4 weeks ago I was preparing for family to come visit us for our daughter's birthday. I was preparing to have a birthday party and mentally preparing myself to have a 2 year old. The birthday came and went with the party planned 2 days later. October 25th we got a phone call that will forever change our lives. We got a phone call about a tiny little boy sitting in a NICU alone in Florida. We had asked to be presented to this boy's birthmom when his due date was mid to late November, and then when we found out he was born on October 20th, almost 5 weeks early we still said "yes!" to being presented. It seemed to weird to know there was a child waiting for his family and we felt very strongly that this was our son. We even started making our "what if" plans for child care and travel. But the next day we found out another family was chosen. We grieved as we had before and moved on, still preparing for the birthday party. October 25th after enjoying an outing to the pumpkin patch with family I got THE call.
"The original family has decided they aren't able to continue and he still needs a family. Are you still interested?" Wow. We found out a little more information about this little guy, such as the fact that his birthmom had used illicit drugs during the pregnancy that hadn't previously been disclosed and he was going through withdrawals and he was considered to have "mild" microcephaly (small head size). We were told to expect him to be in the NICU for 4-5 weeks plus we would then have to wait out the state clearances. I did some quick research and we discussed it some more. Finally I went to my wonderful husband seeking answers. He told me the one sentence I needed to hear: "If we had been selected originally and then found out these things it wouldn't have changed our decision so why should it change it now?" See why I love him!? All we knew was this boy's birthmom had already terminated her rights and he was alone. So let the whirlwind begin!

2nd birthday!

We enjoyed the next day (Saturday) with family and celebrated The Little One's 2nd birthday while trying to let her know about her new baby brother. The next day we went to church where the only thing I remember was holding my baby girl tight with tears streaming down my face as we sang "10,000 reasons." I remember feeling like I had so many more reasons than 10,000 to be singing and yet I could not imagine being away from my sweet girl for 5 weeks. How could I do this? How could I sacrifice 5 weeks of the life of my 2 year old? It honestly seemed unimaginable. But our families and friends have come through to help make things good for her. And after worshiping with our church family my in-laws took me to the airport as they headed home. As they dropped me off and prayed for our journey my father-in-law simply said "the only way this can happen is from God!" And yes, that's so true. My God is the ultimate completer of my story!

Sometime around 10pm on October 27th I was able to meet and hold my son for the very first time and celebrate him turning 1 week old. Much of that night was a blur as I stayed in his room. One of the few
things I remember was that when I arrived they told me that was his worst day of withdrawal and his respiratory rate was 70-80 most of the day when normal is 30-60 for a newborn. But around 6am when that nurse was about to go off duty and remarked "his respiratory rate has been normal since you got here!" We are not meant to be alone. We are not meant to go through our struggles in life alone, especially when you start life so little! From that day on he started gaining weight and his withdrawal effects decreased. Even when the doctor told me the first time he talked to me that we would be there at least 4 weeks and maybe 5, I told him "you've got 3, that's all he's going to need."
I got to fly to meet our boy but my husband made the long trek in the car, just like he did when our daughter was born. He spent 18 hours driving and finally got to hold him on Oct 29th. But after 6 days he had to return home, back to work and back to our daughter. Over the next couple of weeks a couple of family members were able to come visit and love on our boy with me. And I was grateful for the love! We met other families who were also adopting babies and were also staying at the Ronald McDonald House and that was such a nice thing to have others to who understood what the journey was like.

I'll spare you all the day by day details, party because one day blurs into all the rest! But here we are 3 weeks from the day I first cried about leaving my daughter (henceforth to be know as "The Daughter"!) and the day I first met my son. He has been out of the hospital now for 3 days and is
doing great! When we were discharged he weighed just over 5 pounds, so we are hoping for a few ounces of gain tomorrow when we have a pediatrician appointment.
Tomorrow we will meet with The Son's birthmom one last time. For those of you who have never had an experience like that I can only tell you that there is no way to describe the emotions.  The day after that we are heading towards the state line, but can't actually leave the state until both the state of Florida and our home state approve us. And while a family member has offered us an awesome beach-front condo and I will thoroughly enjoy some time with my toes in the sand I pray that I won't have much time to get attached to it!

We don't know what the future holds for The Son (TS) but we know who holds our future! We know the difference that a life of love, attention, nurturing and good nutrition can make in the life of a child. And we pray that his life will be a testament over triumphing evil in life with good!

If you are reading this and considering adoption, please contact me at and let me help you begin your story! We have been blessed twice now through the services of Christian Adoption Consultants and I'm blessed to be able to work for them!

Lord, there are no words. There simply aren't. Everything is inadequate to describe our thankfulness, our blessings and our love. But we know that You have authored our story and look forward to the next several chapters. We ask You Lord to make our journey home a quick one so we can be united as one family. We ask You to give our son the healing he needs to completely conquer whatever medical issues may arise. And we ask You to give us the knowledge and understanding to be able to deal what whatever our future holds. Thank You!!!! Amen.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just Be a "Yes!"

Many of you reading this may not know that we are in the process of adopting again. We have completed our homestudy and are praying and waiting to be matched with the baby God has planned for our family. For the record, The Little One (TLO - I'm going to have to change her blog name soon, huh?) wants a baby brother and his name will be "Two".  ☺

I remember after we brought TLO home how so many people told me about how lucky I was to not have to got through labor or pregnancy (please don't ever say that to ANYONE!) and how nothing about what we'd gone through had felt easy or lucky. The only easy part was that our wait was short, but that didn't mean that our hearts were any less torn apart by the situation or that I didn't spend months thinking about a special woman so far away from me and how she must be feeling. But now we've spent the past few weeks requesting for our profile to be shown to various expectant mothers who are making their adoption plan. There is nothing easy about this process. I am heartbroken. My insides feel like they are being torn apart each time I read the story of an expectant mother. Finally Mark and I talked about it this week and said we are reading real life situations that most people in our circle of friends and family will never connect with. I told him that I wondered what it was like to be one of these women who have only had people say "yes" to them when they wanted sex or to sell them drugs or abuse them. What is it like to have your parents kick you out at 16 or for your parents to die of their drug addiction when you were a teenager? What is it like to have 4 kids by the time you're 20 and find yourself pregnant again and know no other life because it's the same thing your mom did? What is it like to be sexually abused by every male family member you knew and then to go on and continue to have men use you for sex instead of being truly loved? What is it like to have all of your kids taken away from you one by one by child protective services because you aren't able to take care of them because your parents couldn't take care of you? What is it like to...? What is it like?

I don't know what that's like. I don't know what any of those situations are like so it's not my place to judge them. I do know that it's my place to love them. I know that it's my place to be one more "yes" in their life by telling them we would love to be bound to you as family by adopting your child. We will pray for you and not abuse you. We will love you and not abuse you. We will love your child and provide a different life for them. We will break the cycle. We have said "yes" to several situations so far and have heard back "no".  And that's ok. Because I know that God has a plan for us, for a special woman, for a special child and for our family. 

Not every woman who makes an adoption plan for a child is in these circumstances, but they are each at a crucial point in their life. And the stories I read of these circumstances are the ones that make my "Yes!" even louder. The stories I read make the stress we feel from trying to make sure we have enough money saved to cover our adoption expenses seem ridiculous.

So I ask you today to pray for us as we wait for our "yes", but more importantly to pray for the women making the decision today to say "yes" to a life and trying to make the best decision they can for a child. 

Lord, I come to You with a broken heart. A heart not broken by my own circumstances because I know  You are using my circumstances to help others. My heart is broken by the stories of the lives I have been reading about. The stories of women trying to do the best thing they know to do for an unborn child. My heart hurts for the pain many of them have gone through in their lives and I long for them to be able to know peace and love and joy. Father, give them a peace that only You can. Allow them to know that they can be loved without abuse and find peace without a drug. Give them the wisdom they need to choose the parents and the life they want for their child. 
And Lord, selfishly I ask that You bless us with another child for our family. We pray each day for the birthmother of TLO and would love to have another extended family member to pray for with our children. But more importantly, please give us the strength and patience to wait for our "yes". You blessed us more than we could have imagined by bringing TLO into our lives and we can't thank You enough! But I will say it again...thank You!  Amen.

If YOU want to be the "yes" to one of these women through adoption, I can help you! Email me at and I can help you start your journey! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Feeling Your Presence

Lately The Little One (TLO) has been waking up screaming in the middle of the night at least a couple of nights a week. I'm assuming it's the start of nightmares but really have no idea. All I know is that the only thing that helps is to stand at her bedside with my hand on her back until she's asleep again. Sometimes it only takes a couple of minutes, other times it's 10. Unfortunately I'm short and her crib mattress is in the lowest setting. That means I can only reach her comfortably if she's up next to the edge. Sometimes I try to sneak out after a couple of minutes but inevitably the screaming starts back. I had no idea that just my touch, my presence mattered so much. I'm not patting her, I'm not talking to her, I'm not singing to her...just being present. 
One night as my back was hurting from stretching into her crib for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few minutes, I realized that I'm not much different than TLO. I realized how much I long for my Fathers presence too. Sometimes I don't need to hear His plan for me. I don't need to hear His comforting words. I just need to know He's near. Sometimes His nearness is reflected just through His words from centuries ago as I read my Bible. Sometimes I see His presence through the world around me - the rainbow after a storm, the butterfly that lands on my hand or the people in my life. And then there's the times when I've been in a dark place that the perfect song comes on the radio and I can feel His hand reaching out to comfort me. His hand, resting on my back...just being present. 

Matthew 28:20 "...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Thank You Father for always being near me. Thank You for the heavy hand on me when I need to feel you most. I may have times I feel alone and am screaming in a dark room but I know that You are right beside me. You will comfort me when I need it, give me space to grow on my own when I can and have placed others in my life to hold my hand when life is the hardest. Thank You for the honor of allowing me to be the one who gets to stretch into a crib and comfort my sweet child. Next time i will remind myself that I prayed for this! Amen. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

This Is My Prayer

The Little One (TLO) Is almost 21 months old. This is such a crazy time of learning and I'm so amazed at what her little spongy brain can absorb. But the truth is, this is also an educational time for Mommy. She's been full of lessons for me lately. So expect several posts in the next couple of weeks!

We pray at various times throughout the day as a family, but primarily it's at mealtime and bedtime. For a while now TLO has enjoyed saying the "Amen!" at the end of our prayers, but a few weeks ago I started letting her help me say the prayer. I say "Dear God, thank You for..." and she says something, I repeat "thank You for..." We do this a few times until things either start getting repeated or a little too ridiculous. My personal favorites from last week that she wanted to thank God for were toes, doors, jammies, spoon and rock. It's always funny to see what's on her mind during prayer time because that's what comes out - just saw cows? Thank You for cows! Really want my paci but mommy won't give it to me yet? Thank You for paci! Just tickled her toes? Thank You for toes!
But my favorite thing is that she prays while she's playing. She puts a plate and spoon on ottoman and then folds her hands and says "Dear God...(mumble, mumble), mumble)....amen!" This seriously happens at least 10 times a day! Or if we start to eat a meal and haven't prayed she reminds us to. Perhaps she is just living out 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and praying continually. 
I love that she has seen prayer modeled enough in her life to want to do it herself, but last week I started wondering about my own prayer life. I mean, I don't stop to pray 10 times a day! I pray with her at least twice a day, but those are intentional and childish for her benefit. What would happen in my life if I prayed 10 times  day? What would happen if I prayed intentionally on a deeper level? What would my life be like if I lived a 1 Thessalonians 5:17 life? Sure, she's seeing prayer modeled. But what kind of model am I being? Am I setting aside time to devote just to prayer? Am I mumbling my own way through a prayer, not offering God my true needs, desires and gratitude? Is that all God hears from me? Mumble, mumble, mumble? Is that all He hears when I want Him to hear me say:

 "Lord, You made such a sacrifice for me.  You did something for me that I really can't even fathom. I'm beyond grateful and yet so sorry.  I'm so sorry that I fail to meet your expectations ever day. I struggle daily with temptation. I struggle with my own agenda. But I am grateful in a way that I can't begin to express. I'm grateful for the struggles You help me overcome, for the trials You have helped me weather, for the strength you continue to bless me with. I am soooo grateful for this child You have blessed me with who through such a short life has already helped me grown in my faith and teaches me lessons daily when I should be doing that for her. And because it makes me smile every time TLO says it, I want to say it too...thank You for her toes! :) Amen. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Good Girl!

I have quickly learned that as a parent one of the best motivators for a toddler is praise. Pick up toys and put them I the box? Good girl! Use a fork to eat green beans? Good job! Try to dress yourself?  Good girl! Pee pee in the potty? What????? Oh my gosh! You're such a smart girl! Mommy loves you so much for using one less diaper today! Lol! ( ok, so maybe that was a little extreme, but pee pee in the potty gets TONS of praise!)But my favorite thing is that The Little One (TLO) has learned to praise herself when she does something good. I love hearing her pick up her toys and tell herself "good girl!" And now if I do something she deems worthy she tells me "good girl Mommy!" She may only be 20 months old, but it's nice to have her approval! :) 
But I have to wonder at what point it was in life that I stopped being able to tell myself I did a good job? At what point did I stop looking in the mirror and saying "pretty!"? When did I become so critical of myself that I couldn't recognize the beauty of Gods creation in me? 

So here I go. I'm taking a lesson from TLO. 

I am beautiful. I am pretty. I am good at many things. I am me. I am a beautiful creature created by a perfect God. I am made in His image and I will rejoice in that! 

Thank you Lord for the beauty in and around me. Thank You for the beautiful child who helps me understand your lessons. Thank You for remaining perfect and steadfast when satan tries to make me criticize myself. Please continue to help me recognize his attacks in my life and continue to grow in my strength. Amen.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

We fit, I Promise!

After reading this article Virginia Parents Outraged After Walmart Security Allegedly Suspected Father Of Kidnapping Biracial Daughters tonight I hate to confess that I have a fear of this happening. 99% of the time my daughter is just my daughter, but there is a small amount of time that I feel very vulnerable. Unfortunately, as my daughter approaches the terrible two's and starts throwing tantrums and yelling things inappropriately I'm afraid that amount of time may be increasing. Just this evening we were at WalMart walking through the clothing section. The Little One (TLO) wants to reach out and touch every piece of clothing, as most kids do. I've been repeating to her "don't touch" and now she says that when she knows she's not supposed to touch something (but usually touches it anyway!) So tonight as we're going through the store with TLO sitting in the cart I had told her "don't touch" and she started saying it over and over and over. As she repeated it she got louder and Louder and LOUDER!!!! Eventually she was slinging her arms and head back and forth yelling "DON'T TOUCH! DON'T TOUCH!" As I distracted her by quickly handing her a snack-trap filled with Cheese-Its I glanced around and noticed at least 5 different people looking at us. Don't get me wrong, if I heard a child yelling that I would be checking out what was going on too! But what if someone mistook the situation? Or what if it was my husband that this happened to?  Or then there's this situation White Grandfather Detained While Walking With Black Granddaughter: Scott Henson Cuffed By Texas Police  that makes me a little scared too. At this point, I have to admit that when we get attention when we're out and about I know that it's just because TLO draws people in. She will look at you, smile at you or tell you "hi!" until you pay attention to her. But there is the terribly self-conscious part of me that has always tried to avoid excess attention that feeds into fears of the situations mentioned about.

If you have a family like ours, how do you face these fears? Is this a ridiculous fear?  If your family isn't like ours, if you saw a family of mixed races what would your first instinct be?  Regardless of what your family is like, what do you do when your kids scream inappropriate things at the top of their lungs in WalMart???????? :)

Thank You Lord for getting me out of my comfort zone. Thank You for blessing me with a child who keeps me on my toes. Thank You for giving her the ability to verbalize her actions and needs, no matter how inappropriate they might be! Please help me to remember to nurture those actions and not stifle them. Amen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The Little One (TLO) and I recently spent a few days with my parents in Missouri and on the way back home we stopped at the mall. We stopped at the mall to return a dress and eat lunch at the food court. So we got our food at Chick-Fil-A and sat down at a table. As we usually do, we had some serious conversation while we the form of "I see you" through the clear lid of the fruit cup! :) When we almost done I saw someone walking towards us from Burger King.
My princess!!!!!
A sweet young lady handed TLO a Burger King crown and said she was so cute she should have a tiara! We both smiled at it and said "thank you" and I noticed her hesitating. Then she quietly said she was on a short break and could she sit and talk to me for a minute. It felt a little awkward but I could see she really needed to talk so I said "sure!" The relief on her face was immediate as she pulled a chair over to our table. She asked if TLO was adopted and I said "yes". "I thought so," she said. And then, I listened. I listened as she told me her story of being raised in, and eventually aging out, of the foster care system. I listened as she told me how she found herself moved from one family to the next, sometimes with as many as 6 families a year. I listened as she described the feelings of loneliness and wanting to belong to a family. I listened as she told me that every single foster family she had been placed with through the years was white (and she was black). I listened as she confessed to me that she grew up never feeling accepted because she was the wrong color to be in each of these families and just longing to fully be accepted. I listened to her story of heart break. I listened...and my own heart broke for her. And then I listened as she told me her story of redemption. She started going to college and had a professor who became a mentor, invited her to church, and helped her get on her feet. She is now working part-time and going to school full-time and has plans for her future. She shared with me that she has finally found a family that accepts her regardless of her color - her church. Yes! God is good!

That precious young lady gave me a lot to think about on my 3 hour drive home that day. I thought about the fact that I had just spent 5 days with my parents and what it would be like to not have a family to visit. I thought about the fact that not a single person in our entire family has ever questioned the fact that TLO would not be fully accepted into the family even though she is black. I thought and I cried while I drove. I cried from heartbreak over the story I had just heard and then I cried because she was a survivor! I cried because Satan tried to keep her down and make her feel alone and unwanted but God won out and let her know she is His child and she has a father so much bigger and better than any one she could have ever had here on Earth. 

No one deserves to feel unaccepted in this world. No one deserves to be alone in this world. With God, you don't have to be alone. 

I don't have any big insights today, just wanted to share.  Red and yellow, black and white...they are precious in His sight! 

Thank You Lord for accepting me just as I am!  Thank You for accepting me even though I'm overweight, short, have a big mole on my nose, scars on my body and look ridiculous when I run. Thank you for the blessing of a family - both my physical one and my church one. Thank You for planting people in our lives to help me when I've needed it and for the people you placed in the life of this young lady to offer redemption! Amen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Disney Travel with a Toddler

A blog post a little off from my normal topics, but I'm feeling informative! :)

We've had a long weekend trip planned to Florida for several months now. So I spent many hours pouring over blogs, reading about the experiences of other moms who took a toddler to Disney World. All this because so many people had told us that The Little One (TLO) was too little for Disney and she wouldn't get anything out of it. I read up on the ideal places to help a child get a nap during the day, things to take to the park, which park was best for a child her age, etc. And here's my conclusion after all my research : there is no right answer for anything! :) Since every child is so different, there is no right or wrong way to plan for your trip. So here's my breakdown of how we did it in the hopes it will help someone else. Since we've traveled quite a bit with TLO I've had a few friends ask me for tips, so I'm going to include those along the way. Hope they help just a little!

First, when packing for the trip, we knew we would be gone 5 days and that should be doable in just 2 checked suitcases. Thanks to my husband's elite status on American Airlines (yay!) we always get to check our suitcases for free, so it wasn't a concern about baggage fees so much as just having too much stuff to be able to handle. I try to keep our luggage as organized as possible to help my sanity level in the trip. This means clothes for me and TLO all go in once suitcase and dad's go in the other, along with my makeup and hair stuff and the extras. We had previously borrowed a carseat bag but decided to bite the bullet and buy our own for future use. We opted for the Britax Travel Bag because of it's size, straps and wheels. We prefer to gate check the car seat so there isn't a question of getting to our destination without a proper seat for TLO and to prevent any damage to her seat if it was checked (have you seen the way luggage is handled???) so the backpack straps and wheels were both major pluses for us. And I even felt like if I was traveling alone with TLO I could still handle the bag plus push her in the stroller. Here's the great thing about a carseat bag, it's like free storage space! I strapped a bag of diapers, blanket and sheet for TLO, her stuffed animals for bedtime and daddy's dress shoes all into the carseat. There's was plenty of room for more, but I would caution to make sure anything you put into a carseat bag is somehow attached to the carseat inside just in case a zipper comes open (or I guess you could fasten the zippers together too, but I didn't want to mess with that.)

The first night we were gone was just to get close to the airport because we live 1 1/2 hours from the airport and we had a 6am flight. Yes, 6am. When you travel on frequent flier miles you learn to be flexible. That night we were just in a regular hotel room, which can always be hairy with TLO. She's so used to sleeping in her own room that if she can see us at night she won't settle down and wakes up frequently. So our morning started at 3am when she woke up and refused to go back to sleep. And since I refuse to let my child be the one who wakes up everyone else around us at 3am, we all got up. And by the time we checked in at the airport, you couldn't tell that she'd had only a few hours of sleep (unlike the way mommy and daddy looked!)

But once we arrived at our resort the short night was forgotten (mostly because we all settled in for naps!) To ensure we ALL got good sleep the next few nights, we took advantage of the enormous bathroom and put TLO's pack n play in there. :) Don't judge. Thankfully the toilet was accessible from the living area and could be closed off from this part of the bathroom or we couldn't have done this. But this bathroom is bigger than her room at home so I didn't feel bad at all! (By the way, I had other people tell me they put the crib in a hotel closet in order to make this work - we do what we've got to do!)

We spent our first day spending time with my aunt and then doing some miscellaneous things around the area and headed to bed early in preparation for our day at Magic Kingdom. Of course the weather turned cool when we were there so if you're traveling in the spring be sure you pack blankets for the kiddos. I saw a lot of unprepared parents spend $$$$$ to buy extra layers for their kids. Also, if you plan to do naptime in a stroller, it's nice to have a blanket to put over their ears for sound muffling and also over the top of the stroller. Thankfully, TLO is usually ok with riding in her stroller. But every once in a while if she had been out of it and we knew she'd need out again soon we opted for Daddy's shoulders. I can't begin to tell you how much I love seeing this!

Sometimes carrying your princess is great...sometimes it's not! 

For us, taking our own stroller was a no-brainer because we wanted it in the airport and for other outings. I also wanted a stroller that I knew TLO would nap in and we would have plenty of storage in. We recently purchased the Graco IPO Stroller upon a recommendation from a friend. So glad we did! It's much more compact than our travel system stroller but still handles great, reclines and has a storage basket. I did purchase an add-on cup holder and stroller organizer. Whether you take your own stroller, arrange one from a rental service or rent one from the park, I highly recommend you do something to it to make it stand out from the mass of strollers. At each ride, restaurant, etc all strollers are left in a holding area and it's much easier if you can spot it easily and not have to go through all the rows. For us, the cup holder helped and we also left one of her blankets wrapped around a bar. Some people had ribbons, name tags, or other identifying features. I was amazed throughout the day that people don't try to "upgrade" and take someone else's stroller or take things out of other strollers, but as my husband pointed out, if you're going to pay the heft ticket price to get in, you can surely afford to not ruin someone else's day!

We did only 2 rides (yeah, I know, but we didn't care!), It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean. Both were great for TLO, she clapped, cheered and danced through most of It's a Small World and even "wheeeeee'd" through the small drop during the Pirates ride and had fun watching for the doggies. After lunch we made our way to the Hall of Presidents where a nap began for TLO. We had about a 20 minute wait in the lobby before the show and the quiet chamber music was perfect to set the mood. By the time the show was over we positioned her in the stroller like this and she didn't move for 2 1/2 hours!

My best tips for going to Disney with a toddler? Take disposable bibs, leak-proof cup, cup leash to strap to stroller, small camera (I left my precious DSLR at home to avoid the extra weight/hassle), Tylenol, blankets, a couple of ziplock bags for those "just-in-case" disasters, and change of clothes for your little one. We only visited the baby care center once since the rest of the diaper changes happened in bathrooms, but that place was nice! If you just need a quiet place for your little one to move around on their own, there was a small play area with less stimulation than the rest of the park, a room with high chairs to feeding time, a breast-feeding room, and my favorite the awesome padded changing tables. Go find the baby care center! We also went to the park with no expectations and no set plans. We arrived around 10:00am and left around 5:00pm. That was really the perfect amount of time. TLO was still able to get through dinner without being too weary and crashed hard at bedtime. The key is to leave BEFORE the child is over-tired. Believe me, there were many others on our train out of the park who probably hadn't napped and were way past their limit. Know your child's limits and just make it work. It is not worth ruining a fun day just to get in that one extra ride!

What would I do differently on another trip? That's tough, because we had a GREAT day at Magic Kingdom, but I wish we had gone to Downtown Disney the night before or the night after we went to the park. I also had thought so much about books/toys to keep TLO busy on the plane and make sure she had stuffed animals to sleeps with but totally forgot about things to keep her busy in our condo! Thankfully our condo had a stocked kitchen, which means we had cookie sheets and a cake pan plus some wooden spoons to play with. :) Other than that, the only thing I would change would be my stress level. I was constantly checking to make sure I had everything we needed and it took away a little of my enjoyment. Funny enough though, once we were at the park all my stress went away!

Thank You God for our safe travels. Thank You for the blessing of time as a family away from our normal activities. Thank You for blessing our lives with joy and laughter and relieving my stress when I needed it most! But most of all Lord, thank You for my family! Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Comfort and Healing

Before I became a mom I remember seeing snotty-nosed little kids running around and wondered why in the world their moms couldn't keep those runny noses under control. Yes, I judged. And I am so sorry moms of the world! The Little One (TLO) has had this never ending runny nose now for weeks. We've salined and suctioned (I cannot recommend the Graco Nasal Aspirator enough! so much better than the bulb syringe!), we humidified, we Vicks'd and we medicated. But the runny nose never stopped. We went to the doctor with bronchitis and started nebulizer treatments which cleared up the wheezing, but the runny nose never went away. Her wheezing stopped, her cough got better...and then came enlarged lymph nodes, bilateral ear infections and 102.8 fever.  And that was after mommy being sick for 5 days. Now that we're treating that I'm praying that we are all on the path to good health. But here's the thing that kills me even when she has pain and fever, I still get smiles like the one on the right.

I also have a secret...I secretly enjoy the hours of snuggles I get when she's sick.  Those hours of snuggles just remind me that I wouldn't trade this life for anything in the world. Those hours of snuggles remind me of how much I prayed for this. I know those snuggles provide comfort to The Little One, but I am convinced that those hours of snuggling provide healing too. Those hours of snuggles remind me that I will never stop worrying about her! I am her mom.

I am TLO's mom, but I am someone else's baby. Yes, I am the baby in my family and after hating being called "the baby" for so many years, I am happy to say it now. I am the baby. And I just found out my mommy is sick. And she's not sick in the way that a little antibiotic or a breathing treatment will fix. She's sick in the way that doesn't show to anyone else and in the way that no daughter ever wants to hear. My mom has breast cancer. My mom has cancer and I'm a nurse. I'm a nurse and can't do anything to help her. I know it's a small tumor. I know it's treatable. I know that God heals and gives knowledge and talents to human hands to do surgery and offer treatment. But I also know that she's my mom. If I thought I could snuggle with my mom and provide healing and comfort the way I do for TLO I would do it. She doesn't fit that well on my lap though and I'm pretty sure it doesn't work that way. So I'm asking for our Father to hold her in His arms instead and provide the healing and comfort. And I'm asking you to remember TLO's grandma in your prayers.   Next week we will meet with a doctor to start the treatment journey. I will do whatever I can to help her on this journey because she is my mom. And...I am her baby.

Thank You Jehova Rapha, the Lord who heals,  for helping my child while she's sick. Thank You for blessing me with the time to hold her closely this week. Thank You Lord for allowing the cancer inside my mom to be found early. But please provide Your comfort to our family as we figure out what happens next. Hold her in Your arms and provide the healing that only You can provide. Because she may be my mom, I may be her baby, but You are the Father to us all. Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Photo courtesy of Allison Harms Photography

Last week I was at lunch with my parents and The Little One (TLO) when a kind, well-meaning stranger approached us. This lady was clearing tables in the restaurant and stopped by our table and said to TLO, "well aren't you just beautiful!?" At this I smiled, then she went on to look at me and ask "did you get to pick her?" Um, er, what? I held my smile and said "God picked her for us before she was ever born." She said she would pick her just for those eyelashes she has and that we were blessed, I agreed and she moved on. And then I looked at my dad and I'm pretty sure my jaw was on the table as I said "What????? Who asks that?????" My parents assured me that I was tactful in my response and that she meant well. I am very used to questions about adoption at this point, as well as comments about how beautiful TLO is and how social she is (see my post of last year : Home and Hope)  but this one bothered me. All kinds of mean statements came to my head, so God must have been with me to help me control my tongue! I felt seriously conflicted by this short and simple conversation, much more than I should have been. Just the word "pick" brought up all sorts of images of eeny-meeny-miney-moe or the dreaded school-yard pick which always leaves one child standing alone and embarrassed at the end. Perhaps it hit to close to home because it made me think about being picked. You see, I was picked. I was chosen by God. But I wasn't chosen because of my beauty because I have been clouded in ugly sin. I have done ugly things and I have said ugly things. I wasn't chosen because of my physical features because I am overweight in a body that sometimes fails me. I have graying hair. I have physical scars. But I was chosen. I was adopted. I was made beautiful in God's sight.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:4-6
What a joy to know that God doesn't see my ugliness, my scars or my weight! I am holy and blameless! I am His daughter! There is a beautiful song by Gungor playing on Christian radio stations now (and is a favorite on my iPod!). The lyrics are very simple, repeating over and over throughout the song. In fact, there's not a lot else to the song other than a few lines, but are more words needed when these are so powerful?

"You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us"
God takes the lowest of the low, the dirtiest of the dirty and makes such beautiful things. God takes us, whether rich or poor, athletic or handicapped, fat or thin and makes something beautiful. God picked me. God picked you.
My lesson has been learned.

Thank You Father for picking me just as I was, just as I am every day. Thank You for choosing me in my ugliness and in my sin. Thank You for making me beautiful. Thank You for giving me the words I need to express Your love and Your hand in my life instead of allowing my own tongue to spew spiteful words. Thank You for adopting me and for choosing the sweet, beautiful child You have blessed my life with! Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Journey Continues

How is it possible that I have not blogged since October? So many times I think "I should blog about that" so how is possible that I never do?????? Oh yes, I have a 14 month old, that's how!  We have also battled a couple of rounds of illness in the family and traveled over 1500 miles through the holidays, so please accept the sweet pic above as a token of my apology!

Short summary of the last few months and then I have seriously have some new topics planned to write about soon!  It happened. The Little One (TLO) turned 1. *sniff, sniff*  We had a great birthday party with lots of family and friends. She LOVED her cake, can you tell? And then she got to be the cutest pumpkin ever for halloween.   It seems like every day she learns a new word. She only repeats the words when she wants to, of course. It seems at 3am when she wakes up to talk she can say anything she wants though!  Silly girl. But who am I to judge, I only do things when I want to too.

The past  year has been incredible. I didn't really understand what I was missing until we had this sweet bundle of joy in our lives. I also did not realize the utter destruction that a small child can accomplish! My dad noted that TLO can take everything out of her toy box and have a room destroyed faster than a tornado!  And what is with the puppy-type chewing? On a recent 1 hour drive, I got home to discover this: No, it's not the first and I'm sure it won't be the last. But surely a book can't taste good, right? She's working on those stupid molars (1 of 4 are through and the last 3 are painful for all of us!) So any molar teething suggestions will happily be accepted! I happen to think if you can destroy a hard book with only 9 teeth you must not need the rest! 

Too many changes are happening too fast at this point. Just. Too. Fast! I had truly planned to keep TLO turned rear-facing in her car seat until she was 2 which is the recommendation. But at 13 months I turned her forward for the aforementioned 1500 mile car trip. Bad mom? No, just a mom trying to keep sane on the trip and not kill my back anymore than necessary. Because in my other "bad mom" move I set up the iPad on a holder in the car so she could watch Elmo on the trip. She didn't get to watch it very much in the car, but when it was playing she was one happy little traveler!  
We are also in the process of taking down the baby gate and allowing more freedom in the house. To this point, she's been able to play in the living room, dining room, kitchen and entryway. The gate was up in the hallway leading to the laundry room, bedrooms and bathrooms. This was partly to keep her safe but also to give the cat a safe place to exist too. But the time has come that she can tear the gate down pretty quickly and she really needed to be able to get to her own room to play. So the solution was to put a cat door in our bedroom door to allow the cat an escape. I guess TLO understood the concept of a cat door...or else she wanted to give the real cat a little company? This is what I found when I went to put TLO to bed last night. Sweet girl!  I have some furniture to get strapped to the wall as well.  If you haven't secured your furniture, please read this to remember the consequences. It's not easy to read as a parent, but being a parent isn't easy, right? Love, Light, Laughter and Chocolate - One Mom's Journey  I would love to hear how much freedom you allow. Has your child always been allowed free reign? Are you a babygater or an openhouser?  I happen to think there's no right or wrong answer, just the answer that works for each family. 

Thank You Father for the safety you provided us during our travels, for the health you have restored us to and for the family we were able to visit. Thank You for blessing our lives this past 14 months! Please continue to keep us safe as we go through this next year, help me to grow in my walk with You, to develop more as a mother and to be a better wife. Please continue to help The Little One grow and learn and for me to know how best to help her do these things. Amen.