Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Created for Care

Tomorrow, thanks to a willing daddy, a helpful grandma (the twins) and a fun aunt (big sister) . . .I'll be heading to spend my weekend at the Created for Care retreat (child free! : ) ).

Created for care is a retreat inspired by adoptive moms for adoptive and foster care moms, mom-to-be and orphan advocates. It was created to provide a place of rest and refreshment for the adoptive and foster care communities amidst what is often an emotional, exhausting, and long! journey.

I'll be honest . .. when I first signed up for it last september, part of me wondered about it. I wondered if I should go with this long of a wait still ahead of us. I was going alone . . .and I wondered how that would go. Yet I really felt like it was important for the time and with God filling in the details, signed up.

Yet while we're being honest?

It's been a hard few weeks at our house. Mommy has been tired. Children have been stretching. Life's had a few curve balls. And our wait? That seems to be growing longer at times more often than growing shorter.

I love to look back to september and believe that God knew all of that.

He knew how much I'd need a weekend of rest. He knew I needed a perspective shift. He knew I needed to step away from me and closer to Him.

If there is one thing I have learned about this adoption journey?

It's that it is really easy for my world to become small. When there isn't much news, when there isn't much movement, and when life just seems hard, our natural inclination is to focus on waiting for that "something" new.

Like any waiting stage in life, it's easy to want to focus on that "someday."

Yet God has clearly said that "someday" is not now.

So what I love about the heart of Created to Care is that even while it's for the adoptive community, it is about bringing the heart of a mommy back to the Creator. It's remembering the bigger picture. . . .and while we do that, helping equip and strengthen momma's to mother our children where ever they may be today.

I've commented before that there are moments the reality of how long we still have to wait that totally catch me by surprise and take my breath away. That's true.

We started this process a year ago this past november fully thinking there was a chance we might welcome our child home this year.

But God.

Several have asked me lately and I'm preparing my heart to wait as much as another two years. I pray it's less but have to trust God to write this journey and that it will be right.

I'm seeing the wisdom in His timing, even when it's hard sometimes. I'm learning the stretching and at time, painful molding that waiting is and the beauty in finding my satisfaction in Him.


In BSF this year, we've been studying Acts.

One of the real truths that has been hammered home is that as we respond to God's call on our lives, we need to be prepared for tribulation and trial as satan attacks that call on our life.

I'd love to live a life that with every time I responded "yes" to God, the path was clear sailing and His favor was poured on to my life.

It's easy to ask for that, look for that and desire for that if I'm being honest.

But God's shown me how much that is a lie from satan . . .that I have believed it more often than I care to admit. Yet it isn't biblical.

His eternal reward is promised.

Yet a smooth life as a Christian? That is not.

The book of Acts is such a testimony of that.

As the apostles responded to God's call to spread the gospel, they encountered so much suffering, so many obstacles and seemingly setbacks.

Yet they did not question if they should continue. They did not ask if it was worthy it (they knew it was!).

I love the results.

Time and time again, because of the persecution, supposed setbacks and change of routes, God was glorified and the gospel was spread as a result.

People found Jesus as they saw a God who was bigger than circumstances.

God has shown me that I can not allow satan to discourage me with doubts about our journey or how it's going to work out. In fact, He's showing me that I need to take the offense and equip myself with His strength and His word.

That's a huge prayer of mine as this journey stretches out in front of us and that's definitely a prayer request of mine that I can be prepared to stand strong against the discouragement in our journey still ahead.

I want to continue to look up and out instead of in.

That is going to only get harder.

Yet as I've studied this in BSF, I have to admit, I've often thought about the slow downs that have happened within the Ethiopia adoption program and seen parallels.

At times, it seems like for every two steps forwards the program makes, there is one step back.
Children are waiting, momma's are hurting, and there seems to be this gap between the two.

None of it seems to makes sense.

Yet amidst it all?

Families are changing too.

Moms are being refined.

Children are growing and parameters are being changed so that more special needs children are finding families and more older children are finding families.

Families in the adoption process are praying for the Ethiopia program like I believe it's never been prayed for before.

Families are becoming advocates for other adoptive communities.

Families already paper ready are available for other waiting children that may need a home with simple modifications (well as simple as adoption paperwork ever is).

And dare I even say that even occasionally, birth families are being reunited as real life circumstances change?

Through it all, God's faithfulness is being shared with every trial, roadblock and extra days encountered.

His name is being spread and we learning He is enough.

It's easy to look at the apostle's journeys in Acts and so clearly see God moving amidst trials. I have to believe satan attacked them in the same ways. Yet they continued to respond to God's call on their lives regardless.

So that's my prayer for this weekend and in the months (or years!) ahead.

That despite the incredible women and friends I may encounter this weekend. . .

Regardless of the things I learn, speakers I hear or lessons taught. . .

That I can turn my eyes back to my Creator and find that rest in Him.

And call me crazy?

But I don't even think my kids will miss me while I'm gone. : )

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


To say that our girls were excited for the first good layer of snow around here to play in?

Might be an understatement!


Last week I got to go with Ava on a field trip to watch her bowl for the first time. It's so funny so watch a class of 4 and 5 year olds hang out in this way . .. and to see the sad reality that 90% of them could tie or beat me (although for the record, I don't use bumpers). : ) Not to mention watching them throw a bowling ball down a lane that is half as big as them.

Ready to go!
Let's just say there weren't any awards given for how fast the balls rolled down the lanes. But fun was had by all. : )
Not too shabby for beginning . . .

Saturday, January 14, 2012

my favorite 3

The other night, Ryan was working late. I had put the girls to bed and was relaxing downstairs. Ava had come down having troubles going to sleep and I'd given her permission to go read books in our bed as that will often relax her faster. The house was quiet (or so I thought).

All of a sudden, close to 30 - 40 minutes later, I heard a girl yell, "all done!" I was surprised but figured one of the twins hadn't been able to sleep, used the bathroom and need my help. As I headed upstairs and back to the bathroom, I glanced into our room and did a double take. A grinning Olivia smiled back at me, snuggled up next to Ava in our bed and reading books. Kate ran back there as soon as I was one helping her. I have no idea how long they had all been in there.

The three girls proceeded to lay in bed and quietly giggle in between Ava sweetly reading them books. It was one of those moments as a mom you can block out all those crazy and hairy moments that motherhood can often be (especially this time of year!). It was so fun just to listen to my girls enjoy their time together and thank God for the gift He's given me in them.
They were still awake in our bed when Ryan walked in the door much later that night. We finally kicked them out of our room to get ready for bed ourselves but because they had continued to love their time together so much, told them they could all have a sleep over in Ava's room if they settled down and went to sleep. When I finally went to check on them as I headed to bed, I found Olivia and Ava fast asleep in Ava's bed. Kate? Had walked herself back to her own room and her own bed. : )
Now if all moments in our house could be so sweet . . . : )

"Happy Birthday!"

The other day the girls were busy playing downstairs as I set off on a cleaning frenzy upstairs. I came down to get the sweeper and mentioned in passing what a mess our basement was. I went back to work upstairs and didn't think anything of it.

About 20+ so minutes later, Ava came bounding upstairs telling me they had a surprise for me and I had to close my eyes and come downstairs to see. As I came down the stairs, they were waiting for me like this and gleefully singing, "Happy Birthday!"
The surprise?

A spotless basement. Mommy was more than thrilled it didn't matter it wasn't my birthday!

Now if only I could figure out a way to keep this game fun . . .

Michigan - part 1

We headed up to Michigan to spend New Year's with my family. Ava has told me different times she would like to see my wedding dress. My sisters and I got talking and we all went back and put on our dresses to surprise our kids. It was pretty funny to see the older girls reactions to styles and how they've changed in a "few" years. : ) Auburn and Sophie put on old bridesmaid dresses from their mom's wedding to then.
Ava (wearing my veil) and Mommy
Then Auburn went and put on my mom's wedding dress. We won't make too many comments on how she thought her grandma's wedding dress . . .was cuter than her mom's. : )
Ava had a lot of fun with it all. : )
The next morning, we celebrated our family's christmas.

Alisa and her family
Our little family for now.
Amy & her fam
Gpa and Gma
All the grandkids - feel like these all were just babies. Does that make me old?
Reading the Christmas Story - can you tell my girls were excited to be with their cousins?
In each of our stockings, my mom had given us girls copies of some of my grandma's old recipes. Those will be special to have and make with my own kids.
Brynne gave Ava her own "manicure" kit. To say it has been loved and used seems like an understatement. . . .as Ava now tells me I have to pay "real money" to have her paint my nails.
Addy got Olivia a new play doh set!
It didn't take long for a nail salon to be set up. : )

Michigan - part 2

After waiting and waiting for some snow, the girls were thrilled to see some snow at my parents when we got there. It wasn't much but it was enough to get them down the hill. They suited up on afternoon quick to get some fun in - it was a good thing we did! A day later, it rained and all the snow was gone.

Can you tell Olivia was excited?!
3 girls bundled up and ready to go!
Olivia and Kate heading down the hill
My sisters and I all worked as waitresses at a local restaurant. It closed just this last weekend so we all headed in for one last meal at "The Family Buggy." I can't begin to count the number of meals our family ate there growing up between all of us girls working there (mom and dad used to joke they had to go eat there to see me between sports, working and homework). It was so packed with others coming in that we had to split up to eat.

The boys plus Olivia. She had a ball!
The rest of the girls
My girls get wired when with people they love. Add the hour time difference and my girls were up late far too many nights. Aunt Amy went in and snuggled and read books one night.
On New Year's Eve, a big group of us headed out to go ice skating. Last year when we went, Ava was not a fan. However, she was super excited to go this year and we decided to see how it would go.
Our little girl LOVED it. She was such a trooper, kept such a good attitude even when she slipped and by the end of the hour, even was skating little bits by herself without the walker (those things are great!!). She was so proud of herself and it was fun to watch.
Ava and Daddy after skating . ...
It was a super fun hour of skating . . .until in the last 5 minutes, my mom decided to go around one more time with Ava and Ryan. I was skating right in front of them watching and before I could say anything, another lady and her little girl bumped into my mom just right into the back of knee and totally threw her off balance. Long story short? My mom spent part of her new year's eve in the er and a fractured ankle. Thankfully she's doing well and healing.

Later that night we celebrated a couple big birthdays (literally, ha ha)

My brother-in-law, Ken, turned 40 this month.
And my Dad turned 60.
Cole bringing out the cake
Ava helping Grandpa blow it out
Every one else had to head home sunday and we were staying until monday. So Ava soaked in having Grandpa all to herself to play LOTS of horses, rodeo and farm.
Yet one of many late night snacks of cereal at Grandma's house.
The crutches were bothering my mom so they brought up a wheelchair from the basement just to help her move around the house a little better. Kate and Olivia thought it was great.
Ava and Grandma snuggling and reading books.
Doesn't this just look like trouble?

"Christmas" with Grandma-Great

Since we were heading up to michigan when the rest of Ryan's family was celebrating Christmas, we stopped by Ryan's Grandma's home to have our own little "Christmas." The girls enjoyed getting to eat pizza and cookies, opening presents, playing Uno and spending time with them. We miss them when they head back to Florida!

Grandma Great and Papa Mel
This is one way to make sure you don't miss a minute of "Little House on the Prairie!" : )

Our family christmas!

It was super fun to get to get to enjoy Christmas Day at home this year. While it felt so sad not to get to be with our own church family at all on christmas (we were worried Olivia and Ava were about to get strep too since Kate had just gotten sick the day before), we got to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the quiet at home.

The girls and Daddy singing "Away in the manger"
Singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.
Ready to open stockings!
Daddy had a present Ava picked out just for him in his stocking: a little ornament that said, "World's best Dad" : )
These two just make me smile: in case you didn't notice, they may have gotten some gum in their stocking (amazing what half a day on medicine can do - huh?!)
Ava had made a present and card for Ryan and I at preschool and insisted it stay under the tree until Christmas.
The beautiful christmas decoration she made for us!
Olivia and Kate got a toy washing machine
Ava was quite excited with her kitty shirt she got
And Ava got our other black friday buy: a leapster!
Me trying on my cozy new fleece from Ryan. Will LOVE this for winter trips to the gym.
We had one extra special present under the tree this year: a present for our baby. I love the words of this book and how it address the waiting and hoping for our child.
Daddy showing off a new sweater
Ava coloring from her new art pad
Waiting for christmas dinner: the family chose homemade calzones with PINK lemonade. Not too hard to please! : )
Ava checking out her leapster. Kate was a little intrigued. : )
Love these two.
Ava and Daddy made and put on a puppet (and Ariel) show for us. It was "Little Red Riding Hood." Fitting, don't you think?
Ready for Cheetos and a movie!