Monday, August 11, 2014

To Everyone Who Has Followed our Adoption Journey


 i write and hit {publish}, fighting back the tears that have been on the verge for the past several months. this is a hard season for us,
a season we never saw coming,
a season we don't understand.
here's part of the story.

---------------------------------------

Sneaking a few moments of quiet during the usual loud of our summer schedule,
I sat my coffee down on the floral tablecloth.
I opened my Bible
but before I could even read the words, tears clouded my vision.

it wasn't supposed to end like this, Lord.

{it wasn't supposed to end like this}.

--------------

three years ago,
I met a beautiful toddler boy with deep, beautiful brown eyes.


in an instant, my heart loved him.
loved him like only a mother can.
we pleaded for, prayed for, and advocated for him over and over again.

through a variety of Divine circumstances,
about a year ago,
the door for adoption had finally opened for us,
and we were thrilled - thrilled! - 
to announce the Lord's leading in our life to 
defend the cause of the fatherless and bring Miles 
-a now 4-year-old -
home forever.

 The Lord clearly led in every step of the grueling international adoption process,
even using social media in amazing ways.
So many of you -
friends near and far -
surrounded us and championed our journey.

we felt your excitement as you donated money to provide shoes, books, and over 600 pairs of underwear to fly around the world to Miles' friends at his orphanage.

you {liked} and commented on my facebook and instagram statuses,
and told us time and time again that you were praying for us,
praying for Miles.

When we returned home from Uganda in mid-December,
our adoption journey became infinitely harder.

Most of you know that we, 
as a family,
have faced health crises after health crises,
month after month.

In January I was diagnosed with a heart condition, 
which, through the Lord's sovereignty,
would allow Matt to travel back to Uganda in March.

In April,
my heart condition returned,
causing serious chest pain, pressure, and fatigue.

The world of international adoption is complicated,
and international adoption laws change regularly.


The US enacted a new law that went into effect recently,
a law that changed the way Ugandan adoptions are processed.

This new law meant that after July 14, 2014,
essentially our Ugandan legal papework would be nullified.

With my heart condition,
it made international travel simply not safe or healthy for myself or our family.


So, with grieving hearts,
we recently passed this deadline of July 14,
knowing that our dream of Miles living under our roof
was different than the plan our Sovereign Lord has for us.

My finite, human heart cannot understand the journey the Lord has taken our family on,
but we trust in what we Cannot See to do that which we cannot do.

We hare making plans for Miles to receive some medical care he is in need of,
and he remains our son,
whether under our roof in Indiana 
or in the red dirt of beautiful Uganda.

I know that words are not enough,
but I will say it anyway.
Thank you.

Thank you for supporting this journey with us.
thank you to all of you who have bought a body butter or lip balm or body scrub -
every.single.penny has gone towards bringing Miles home.

Thank you for all the care and love and prayers you have given us over the past year.
thank you for all your encouraging posts and comments -
even through facebook and instagram I have felt surrounded by friends.

Mostly,
thank you for pleading the cause of the fatherless with us,
even when the end purpose is different than we ever saw coming.


he remains our son. even in Uganda.
he remains our son.


















Friday, July 11, 2014

Listen to Your Mother

In April,
I was honored to read as a part of Listen to Your Mother.
it truly gives motherhood a megaphone.

Here is my story.  
It's bittersweet to share this, 
as our journey with adoption has a different ending than we ever saw coming
{but that's a different blogpost}

but I was honored to share it along side of the other women sharing their hearts.
and, this really was my heart. 

here it is.
and, yikes, myself on video!!


the direct link for people that may want it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Screen-Free Summer, Week 1

happy happy happy summer, friends!
i am l-o-v-i-n-g summer.
seriously.
i feel like my deep-down inside self needed summer. the freedom of no more school. barefeet. skirts. coffee and my Bible outside in the mornings.
 hallelujah, summer.

----
We're trying to go screen-free with the kiddos this summer.
not because I have some major issue with electronics or tv.
Just because it's summer -they need to be OUTSIDE:
playing, creating, imagining.

Childhood Unplugged!

I think i'm rebelling a bit from the Eternal Winter we just had,
as well as how hard the past 6 months or so of our lives have been - 
we've kinda been in survival mode, and we need to get out of it. ;-)
and, our kiddos grow up way too fast.
they're 5 and 7, and I feel like our summers of "little" kids are nearing an end 
{reaching for Kleenex now!}
so I just want to enjoy every single summer sunshine moment.
minus screens!

so, i've been trying to plan fun things just to do a summer-o-fun.
i'm going to try to keep track, just for fun, of what we do.
 and, you  know, if I'm announcing our screen-free-ness to the blog-world, t
hen, ya know, we better do it. 

{and it may be just the grandparents that are interested in this stuff. sorry if it's completely boring. i know this screen-free stuff is different than my normal blogging voice!}


so, Screen-Free Summer,
week one
{June 1-7}:

{Monday}
This was our first real day of summer break.
holy summer break, batman.
I didn't realize how much the pressure of school was wearing on me until it was over.
although I love our hybrid school 
{home 3 days/week, at school 2 days/week}
the back-and-forth of it all wears me out.

so, the feeling of truly nothing to do was so, so, so nice.

we had sweet friends come over to play.
 their oldest son is about Grant's age,
and they're adorable together.



I happened to have the stuff to make sparkly glitter slime, 
and that was even more fun with friends.


the boys {who actually made blue slime} took it outside and threw it at each other,
because, ya know, that's what boys do. ;-) they even invented a brand new word for the slime!

here are the directions.  It really does feel like slime while you're mixing, but then it hardens into this rubbery blob.  it's not like playdough where you can keep squishing it - i'd say it's more the mixing that's the fun part. and, you know, throwing it at friends. ;-)

Monday afternoon we went to the library to sign up for the summer reading program.
I'm so, so, so excited about it this summer because it's the first summer that Grant can really, really read. like, a lot, by himself. and, if we're not watch TV, what better thing to do than read, right?

we sat and read in the library, 
and it was so fun to see this across the table from me as I read to Gracie.
I'm trying to get Grant to read an hour a day, and I'm trying to read to gracie the same.

Grant reads about 15-20 minutes in bed in the mornings before he leaves his room,
about 15 minutes around lunch time, 
and about a half an hour before bed.


whew. day 1, screen-free summer, down.

{Tuesday, June 3, Day 2:}

we had a gift card to my favorite breakfast place, Bob Evans, 
and because of some unique scheduling situations we decided to use it Tuesday morning!
gracie went like this.
i mean, seriously! cuteness.


after breakfast the kiddos and I went to Meijer (a grocery store for you non-midwest people)
 to pick up a few things.
we also let Grant pick out his mega-monster-crazy-big Lego surprise,
that if he reads an hour a day until school starts,
he'll earn.
he's way excited about it!


 then, since it was hot out, 
we came home and broke out our water toys!

the cuteness continues! i die.


this water table has served us well! we received it when the kiddos were both toddlers, 
and we still use it! 
Gracie uses it to give her dollies a bath, of course, and Grant uses it to fill up his guns and super-blasters.
  


their fave water activity is to throw the hose over the slide.



i made these sponge water balls.
directions here.



i used twine though (like bakers twine)
which was extremely better than the floss.
i couldn't get the floss to tie at all!
the sponge balls were fun, but the kids didn't play with them as much as I thought!
 I think if we had friends over and they were throwing them at each other more a la water balloons, they'd be a hit! and they're super cheap.

by about 3:30 in the afternoon on day two of this crazy summer goal i had I was exhausted! 
but, so, so happy to be playing and not screen-timing.

 {Wednesday, Screen Free Day 3:}

our sweet daughter grace abigail has been cyclically sick with extremely high fevers, leg pains, and nothing else since January. it took several rounds of sickness to start connecting the dots, but i started finally realizing that the same thing was happening over and over.

{poor girl is tired SO much!} 


so, wednesday we saw a specialist who's doing a ton of blood work on the poor girl.
she has to have blood work twice a week for the rest of the summer. 
poor thing!


she ended up with more-than-a-bit of candy from the hospital gift shop to try to help my momma guilt feel a bit better.


that night, we played this fun game with grandma!
so, so, so silly and fun.


stuff like
{crab walk backwards to the kitchen sink}
if you have an elementary aged-boy, he'd love it!
grandma was glad she lucked out and got out of crab-walking ones and just had to penguin walk. ;-)

{Thursday, Screen-Free Day 4:} 

we played at home in our jammies 
{the kids were playing SO NICELY all day! fort-building included!}
and then about 4 o'clock, I was TIRED.
tired, tired, tired.
and the hubs wasn't going to be home until late.

so, I did what I hadn't done since they were toddlers and I just needed them to be strapped in and quiet for a few moments:

we loaded up and hit the drive-thru for supper!
grant ate then entire cheeseburger and 8 chicken nuggets from wendy's.
grace at like 4 fries.
i got the new espresso latte frapuccino from Starbucks.
holy moly good!

we returned home to this.

whew.
and then ended the day by blowing bubbles on the porch,
which is always a good end to a summer day, right?





{Friday, Screen-Free Day 5:}

today was the first day that Grant didn't wake up and ask to watch a show 
which he usually had been doing in the morning.

it was national donut day!
so, we did our civic duty!



{Saturday, Screen-Free Day 6:}

We happened to find out that the small town near us had a parade,
so we went!
the kids, believe it or not, had never been before.
they didn't know they'd get candy thrown at them,
and were over-the-top excited.

it was a beautiful Saturday morning,
and it was just so nice to be out together
{Matt usually works on Saturday mornings},
and the kids got way-too-much candy.


I went to a tea at church Saturday afternoon,
and my amazing, can-build-anything husband built this water-fall frame {Bike Wash} for me from this idea I had shown him.



it goes over the sidewalk and sprays water down!
it is SO FUN.
the kids LOVED it, 
and it's crazy cheap. 
it, unfortunately, hasn't been warm enough to get it back out past the initial use, 
so we're all super excited for heat again.


-----------------------------


whew!
what a week!
we're having a blast,
and just loving summer.
i am LOVING the fact that we're screen-free.
now, Matt and I are still watching the one show we like {24},
and I'm watching my re-runs of Law & Order or whatever while I fold laundry or do dishes,
but I've limited my social media time to only when the kiddos are in bed.

it's nice to be a bit unplugged.
summer, unplugged!

we'll see how I feel about all of this screen-free busines in a couple of weeks.

 ---

a few ideas on my list for the next few weeks, if you want some inspiration for a screen-free, or screen-less-than-normal summer of your own. I know that these aren't like, rocket science, but I just want to do some small thing every day to have super fun with these precious kiddos of mine.



i'm starting to save my eggs now for this! and to crack them in a specific way on the top. I think it'll take several weeks of eggs to get enough for the kids to have enough paint to have fun for longer than a minute.


what are your plans for the summer? would you go screen-free? think i'm nuts? or brilliant? ;-) maybe a bit of both?


will post next week with Screen-Free Week 2 updates!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

When the Fear and Doubt Creep in

after I posted something on instagram (find me there @simplybeautiful100)
 -something about how we're dealing with a lot of medical issues at the moment, 
but I trust His ultimate purpose -

I had someone ask this:

I mean no offense by this at all, but how do you find it in your heart to trust so completely and with out doubt or fear? It's beautiful and inspiring, 
I just wish my heart would be as open and at peace as yours is..
 
And I want to say that Instagram and Facebook and even this blog are my highlight reels.
I post what I want to post, so you read what I want  you to read.  Not that what I post isn't true, but usually social media is the "ups" - not the massive amounts of laundry that I never do or the 4-year-old screaming on the floor or the amount of homeschool prep left or house to be cleaned.
 
{without doubt or fear?}
i could laugh. or cry.
if you only knew.
 
------
 
6 years ago
 
I laid on the white bed, the hospital gown covering me.
I tap-tap-tapped a text out on my old-style-flip-non-smart phone,
trying to calm my emotions and pass the time.
 
a friend called,
a dear, sweet, old friend.
 
I'm just so, so sorry, Anna.
she ended the conversation.
i'm so, so sorry,
tears coming for her and me,
we hung up.
 
they came to wheel me to the OR.
as we passed through the labor & delivery floor,
it was some special form of emotional torture to hear babies crying.
as I was headed for a d & c, a week after no heartbeat appeared on the ultrasound screen.

the physical pain of the procedure passed quickly, but the emotional pain lingered.
i hugged baby Grant, his toddler self patting my tears.
this third miscarriage was the hardest. we knew how fabulous children were and wanted more 
- so many more.

and I prayed. and prayed. and prayed.

and heard nothing.

I scoured my Bible for some sort of encouragement.

and heard nothing.


emotional drained,
i wondered where God was.

I LONGED to be one of those Christians filled with verses and belief and steadfastness.
i just wasn't.
 
 I doubted. 
I doubted my faith.
am I believing all the wrong thing?
is this actually going to help me?
is God actually listening?
 He doesn't care.

weeks passed.

the darkness of spiritual silence was closing in, threatening to suffocate my long-time faith.

God, where are you?

my heart cried out over and over.

that summer, 
I ran.
I ran harder and longer and faster than I've ever run before.
the pounding of the pavement became my therapy,
the music in my earbuds the song of my soul.
 
And after a few months of running hard and long -
besides being in the best shape of my life -
my spiritual life began to revive.
 
i realized that I was giving into my feelings.
feelings that God was silent, that God wasn't at work, that God had left me alone.
 
and though those feelings were legitimate, 
I chose to believe them rather than believe the truth of the Bible.
 
 ---------

One of the hardest and darkest times of my life,
losing a baby I named Josie Hope,
came a few years before I would walk through another very difficult season of medical diagnosis.
 
and those lessons I learned after the loss of Josie? 
i now had an opportunity to enact them.

and during the whole MS thing,
I chose to believe God when He says
{i am near the brokenhearted}
{be strong and courageous, for I am with you}
{Cast all your cares upon me, for I care for you}

 and now, in this season of one-thing-after-another -
even if some of it is small and not really earth-shattering, it's still 
{one.more.thing}

believe me,
i cry my overwhelmed tears.
i send friends texts, saying it's too much.
my heart cries out in the darkness of night,
i pray with all my heart as I lay next to a feverish baby,
and ultimately, I get myself together and choose to believe words like
i have loved you with an everlasting love.
i know the plans i have for you.
you will seek me and you will find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
call upon me and i will answer you.

so, that doubt and fear?
every day I wonder what the Lord is doing with our family.
so many medical issues in the past 4 months,
on top of trying to fly around the world to bring this beautiful boy,
{a boy we have held and loved and played soccer and taken swimming},
home.
 
of course I fear for the future.
if the past 4 months have been this hard what in the world will the next four bring?  What's really going on with Gracie? What's going on with my heart? will we all get better? Will we be able to take a vacation? I need the beach. ;-) Lord, get us better.  What will school look like next year?
 
but I stop myself.
be anxious for nothing. in everything, give thanks, and pray, 
and the peace of God will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.

so, how do I trust so completely?
 
i don't really feel like I do, 
but I try.  when the worry and the doubt creep in,
i stop looking at my circumstances,
and start looking at my Savior.

for He is Bigger.  

always.  
He is Always bigger.
even when I don't feel like it.
-------

{my ways are not your ways, declares the Lord, and neither my thoughts are your thoughts}