Tuesday, February 17, 2015

One day at a time

One Day at a time...

Every New Year, Pat and I come up with a New Year's Resolution--an over arching goal that all the goals though the year will work towards.  The last couple years, I have focused on "Discipline" in different areas.  This year I hadn't yet figured out a goal but I think I finally have: "One day at a time."
I'm a planner and always like thinking 10 steps ahead.  My brain is always juggling many different plans and projects (planned and hopeful ones).  But right now with juggling work, kids, transitioning of new kids, household and more, My goal is to take things "one day at a time" and to just focus on what I have for the day in front of me.  I'll think about the future to plan but focus my energies on today.  I'm finally learning the lesson of Matthew 6:25-34 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Today in between work, errands, playtime and piano practicing we dropped off paperwork at our agency, picked up more paperwork, started filling it out and gathered documents to turn in.  We bought car seats for Brother and Sister and got them put together.  (I couldn't resist and bought one with a dark pink trim for Sister.  "Ewww--Pink!" said the boys.)  Bins of boy's clothes that have been stored have been sorted and separated into a donation pile.  We also got a draft of a visitation schedule from our social worker.  Weekly Saturday visits that will increase in length over the next month.  Tentative first sleepover visit will in about a month so we are making serious plans to start moving bedrooms around.  A busy, but fun, day.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Adoption Journey

We've always talked about adoption.  I've been interested in adoption since middle school and Pat and I have talked about it through the years and felt God would let us know if/when the time was right.  After Sarah died, we knew we were finished having biological children and while we wanted more kids in the family, we were concerned that we would be "replacing" her.  After time spent healing and a lot of talking we also realized a lesson that Sarah's story taught us--vulnerable kids are worth fighting for.  Initially when we went to the hospital when we found out there was a problem with Sarah's pregnancy, the first team of doctors encouraged us to "just go home" since Sarah wasn't "viable" and was so little.  Thanks to God, we later met nurses and doctors who helped us to fight to give her a chance.  We were her parents and, though the odds were against her and us, we felt we could do no less than to give her every chance we could.

Back to how that connects to this adoption journey.  I've always been interested in international adoption.  My interest was sparked when I learned in Middle School about how many girls in China were given up simply because they were girls.  I felt all children should be celebrated and be loved.  When Pat and I talked about adoption, he felt the same but always came back to the point that there are so many kids here in America who need families too.  After Sarah, we started to think about very vulnerable kids and how there are parents who struggle with either knowing how to provide/treat/care for their kids or struggle with bad choices and behaviors making kids (who are naturally vulnerable because of their dependency) more vulnerable because of the difficult life situations the parents lead them in.  We thought, we've fought for Sarah when she was very vulnerable, we can do it for another child.  We started to look into situations of hard-to-place (very vulnerable) kids and first read about international adoption of kids with medical issues.  (Did you know that many of the medical issues of international "hard to place" kids are an easy fix within the American healthcare system?)  But Pat kept coming back to the idea of "kids in our own backyard."

One afternoon I called Lutheran Social services to ask about the process for adopting out of foster care.  It seemed like it might fit where our hearts were going with local kids who were hard to place and were vulnerable.  As I talked on the phone with the young woman, asking questions, everything started to feel like it made sense.  I have no other way to explain other than it felt like the puzzle pieces just clicked together.  When I got off the phone, Pat was in the kitchen getting coffee, taking a break from work and I filled him in. He thought it sounded like a good fit also,

Adopting out of the foster care system sounded interesting to us for many reasons the main being that these are older kids who have been through a lot and need a family.  There are often sibling groups that are hard to place but desperately need to stay together since they are the only family they have left.  They need stability, safety, to understand unconditional love, and parents who will be advocates to help them overcome any challenges they face.  They need to know joy, and what it means to have fun with siblings, to know what it means to be part of a family-a team that sticks together and loves each other forever and ever, no matter what.  We felt like we could parent a child like this because we had already been advocates for Sarah when she was most in need--we parented her well while she was here and then we helped our boys work through grief after Sarah died.

We know that if God does in fact grow our family through this path, that it likely won't be easy.  But we've already walked a hard path with Sarah and, as sad as it was to say goodbye, there was also tremendous joy that came from knowing her as well as the joy we've found as a family after working through the grief together.  Hard doesn't mean wrong or bad.  Out of struggles come growth and joy. We look forward to growing our family and together finding joy as we work together to adjust, overcome past hurts and even just face the normal bumps of life together.

Here's the journey:

August 13: I dropped off our initial application today.  It is  the day before Sarah's birthday and I'm a bit emotional--thinking about what our family is missing and imagining what God may be creating us to be.  As I got in the car to bring it to the agency, this song  ("I turn to you" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI5i1qSg1mE) by Selah immediately came on the radio: When I was in the hospital before delivering Sarah I heard it for the first time and felt some peace that God was with us and that I could turn to Him.  When I called Pat to tell him to look up the song on youtube so he could hear it too he said he had just heard it for the first time too.  Coincidence?  =)  So as I drove to the agency and listened to it again, I was reminded that in all the twists and turns of life that we just need to turn to Him.  That doesn't mean He will "fix" life to match our picture but that He is with us through it all.  I have no idea what twists and turns lay ahead, but He IS with us and at every turn we CAN turn to our loving Heavenly Father who loves us.   

September: This month we started orientation classes with the agency we are working with.  The first class scared me...it was talking about all the difficulties you can face with kids from the foster care system and it scared me that perhaps this wasn't a good idea for us.  I know the kids will have "baggage" to deal with and we don't have rosy colored glasses on about the process of helping a child(ren) adjust to being in our family but the class seemed to share very difficult situations that had me concerned since we already have two little guys.  Pat said that the class showed him that there are kids who desperately need parents.  We trust that God will bring the right child or sibling pair into our family when the time is right.  

We also started the home study (not as scary as we thought it would be, and wow...did we get our house cleaned beforehand!)  This really is a "paper chase" as we've heard it described and we are busy gathering documents and filling in questionnaires.  

October: Gabe and Zach have been talking lately about wanting more siblings.  Gabe especially has been asking for more brothers or sisters and saying things like, "If I could have just one wish, it would be to have more kids in our family." We haven't said anything to the boys yet because we don't want to get their hopes us since this process could take a few years.  But perhaps we'll tell them sooner since they are asking for more kids.  I don't know.  The boys know about adoption since we have a number of friends who have adopted and the other day Gabe strung a couple thoughts together, "Mom, since you can't have anymore babies in your tummy, could we adopt?"  Then came a question I knew would come at come point, " Mom if God knows everything even before it happens, why did He put Sarah in your tummy if he knew she would die?"  I just answered that I don't know but that I know God loves all of us and that even though she died, I'm glad we got to know her for a short bit.  

November 1: We just got home from a weekend away with the boys.  While talking on our own, Pat and I talked through some of the questions on our questionnaire.  There were lots of questions asking about our relationship and reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses as individuals and as a couple.  It was really interesting to talk through these together.  In a few weeks, we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary so it was also interesting reflecting on the past ten years and thinking through how God has grown each of us individually and as a couple.  I love this guy and know that in ten more years, we will reflect back again and be amazed at where God has brought us.  We are almost done with the paperwork and hope to hand the rest in to our new social worker this week--we've been switched to someone else.  After that we'll have another home visit with the new worker (I will NOT clean as thoroughly as last time since it didn't really seem to matter) and then she will write a report from everything we turned in.  After that we will be "approved" and then will be in the waiting time to be "matched" with a child--which could take a long time because of our desire to be matched only with a child/children younger than Zach.  

November 11: Today I met with our new social worker and turned in the last of our paperwork.  I enjoyed talking with her and feel comfortable with her finishing up our process.  She said we should be approved in two weeks!!

November 24: It has been two weeks and our social worker sent us a list of questions as well as a document for an "Alternative Caregiver" in case we both die.  I don't know why we didn't get this form at the beginning of this process to think about who to ask so we are a bit frustrated.

December 16: We met with our social worker today for a last home visit.  We've exchanged a few more emails with questions for us to answer.  We had a good visit and she looked through our house, taking notes.  I've had a sore knee and am on crutches so it has been a bit difficult to clean the house for this visit but everyone, including the boys, pitched in and it got cleaned.  She looked around, asked us a few more questions and we turned in copies of car registration and insurance.  She said she has everything she needs and the 25+ page report on our family is done except for the few questions we discussed tonight.  She will finish it tomorrow and turn it into her supervisor.  We will be approved, pending the final form--we still haven't figured out the "Alternative Caregiver" form and this is weighing on us.  Assuming we can get this figured out and signed, we may be approved by Christmas.

December 19: This process feels like I did when we were hoping to get pregnant.  The waiting and excitement of the possibility of a new child to love.  I find myself already praying for these kids that "might be"--that God would bless our family with more kids, that He would bring the right personalities to our family to be siblings and friends to the boys and that the boys' hearts will be prepared for more little ones.  Perhaps this isn't meant to be and we trust that God knows best.  But we are hopeful and we feel that we've done our part and with our part done, the door is open for God to work as He'd like to.

December 31: Yesterday we got an email titled "Approved!" Our social worker said our home assessment/report is finalized, we are approved and she's ready to start looking for matches for us.  Appropriately to the paperwork process she sent a couple forms that we need to print and sign basically saying that we understand we've been approved.  =)

I read through the 25-page report on us and it was interesting to see how we are viewed as a family by the workers who visited us.  And we are excited to see what God does in our family in the coming years.  We realize we will likely wait a long time to be matched, but meanwhile our prayers are that God prepares our hearts to parent whatever personality and child(ren) he gives us, that God prepares the boys' hearts for changes/challenges/new experiences (they still don't know and we likely will only tell them when we are matched), and that God's hand of protection is over the child(ren) we will one day parent and that His presence is felt by them.  We are praying for the parents...praying for wise choices...praying for God's hand to be on the child(ren) so that they will know His love and presence with them even as they are going through a rough time.  Since we don't know if or when we will be matched with kids, I may be praying for a situation now or I am be praying for things to come.  But we know that God is outside of time so trust that my prayers are being heard.

January 5: I find myself praying for the parents of the child(ren) we hope to adopt.  I pray for them because I can't imagine the pain you have to be experiencing to be able to abuse your child.  Or the desperation you feel trying to hold life together and not be able to care for your child appropriately.  Or the pain you feel as your children are taken away.  I pray that whatever dark spot that they are in that led or will lead to their child(ren) being taken, that it would be a point in life where they also are able to find God and His love and grace.  I hope that it will be a part of their life story that will help shape them for the better in the long run.  Pat and I don't view adoption as us being these amazing superheros who rescue kids and we certainly don't ever want to talk bad about our kids' birth parents.  Our goal is to step in to parent where their birth parent couldn't--to care for, teach and help a child heal from past hurts.  Not to look down on their birth parents (not to act like what happened was ok either).  When our family is changed through adoption, the birth parents will also become part of our story and I believe that Pat and I will always pray for them.  

January 9: I have been going a bit crazy with organizing and cleaning out clutter from the house.  In the last week I haven't been able to sleep for 2 of the nights because I've been so focused on this.  I tell myself that its not that big of a deal and to relax but my brain won't turn off.  Perhaps I'm "nesting" since we've gotten approved?  I seriously hope not since we probably have a long wait...I've been praying that God will calm my brain since I'm completely comfortable with waiting a long time--I don't feel anxious to have more kids immediately.  But I AM anxious about the clutter in my house!  

January 19: Pat and I have been praying together for ALL of our kids.  We've felt a need to pray for the kids.  It feels a bit weird since we don't really know if we have future kids or what their situation is.  We don't really know what we're praying for exactly.  But we feel that we should be focused on praying, so we are.  

January 21: Today is the two-year anniversary of my mom dying.  I had a good long talk with my sister in Ireland this afternoon, while the boys watched lots of tv =).  I got off the phone just in time to leave for work for Wednesday night classes and as I was packing up my dinner and pulling on my coat, my phone beeped.  I checked my email in case it was about work but it was an email from our social worker with information about a brother and sister.  Its only been three weeks since we were approved!!  It was hard to stay focused through the night of working and when I got home I climbed right into bed and read the 10 page report.  The kids sound like a good fit. The only thing is that the little boy is a few months older than Zach and we had requested kids younger than Zach.  Pat and I read the report together, and his reaction was the same as mine: "They seem like they could be a good fit" 

January 22: I feel a bit like a deer in headlights.  Excited about the possibility of these kids, not sure what the next step is, wondering if I'm just excited because these are the first kids presented to us.  After talking with our social worker, she brought over a lot more paperwork for us to read and we read through all the reports and information together tonight.  Same conclusion: They seem like a good fit with our family but we're not sure about if it would cause trouble to break our "birth order" 

January 23: Back to not sleeping.  My brain is bouncing around.  After talking with my sister and one of our pastors, I decided to just pray and stop trying to think about all the what-ifs.  If God wants this, then he will bring peace to both of our hearts.  We'll meet with the social workers and foster mom and see if that brings clarity.  

February 3: We had a very, very good meeting with our social worker, the kids' social worker, their foster mom, and psychologist.  We had a long list of questions and felt we really got a good understanding of the kids' personalities and needs.  Talking at night, Pat said, "I can't imagine a better fit for our family" and I said, "But..." thinking there was more.  "But nothing," Pat said.  "Then why aren't you saying we should move forward?" I asked.  Because you didn't let me finish!" he said.  =) Next step is to set up meetings for us to meet the kids and then a second meeting for the kids to all meet.  

February 9: Its Monday and the plan is that on Saturday Pat and I will meet the kids. Then on Monday the kids will all meet--we plan to tell the boys at breakfast so they have a few hours to ask questions and process and then they can all meet.  Brother is anxious to find his "forever family" and is aware about how these visits work, so when we are introduced we do not want our first meeting to be where we are "lying" saying we are "family friends" or anything like that.  He will be told who we are and why we are meeting.  So we want to tell the boys so the news comes from us first and not from a little guy they are playing with.  I realized today that this week is the last week with life as we know it.  No, the kids won't move in with us right away after we meet--there is a long process, but once the boys know and paperwork is signed that we intend to adopt, then life will shift.  There will be kids to call and visit.  There will be house preparations to begin (pat's current home office will become the boys' room--"Boys Central"--and his office will move). And there will be paperwork again as we continue this process.  All wonderful things that I'm looking forward to.  But this week, I want to enjoy the days with the two boys and a calmer routine. 

February 13: This morning in the middle of getting ready for school, Gabe stopped and hugged me and said he missed Sarah.  This happens regularly so it wasn't out of the ordinary.  But then he said he wants more kids in our family.  I reminded him that I'm done having babies and he said he knew but then lit up and said, "If you ever adopt kids, could you get a kindergartner or first grader?  No, not a first grader.  I want to be the oldest." I asked why he wanted someone close to his age and he said it would be fun to have more kids to play with but he wants to be the oldest so he can help lead everyone and also be a big brother.  I take this (and other conversations he's had with us) that God is preparing his little heart.  We have been very careful to not talk about this process in front of the boys since we don't want them to get their hopes up and have to wait a long time or feel loss if a situation doesn't work out.  I am very excited to tell them this weekend though!   

February 14: As Pat and I prepared to get married ten years ago, we often said to each other, "I know we will fall in love more as the years go by, but right now I can't imagine being any more in love with you"  And of course there are moments in life where you do fall deeper in love--growing closer, experiences of kids being born, dealing with difficult situations, etc.  And today was another day where I fell deeper in love with Pat.  This morning we both were really nervous about meeting the kids (felt like a blind date!) and as we drove to meet them, we wondered what it would be like.  As we waited at the library for our social workers and the kids to arrive, a couple with two kids entered the building.  We recognized the kids from their pictures and ended up just smiling at the foster parents (possibly a bit awkwardly!) but since the social workers weren't there yet we didn't want to introduce ourselves.  Anyway, eventually we went to the children's section and were introduced to the kids and we began playing puppets with them.  I looked up after about half an hour and saw Pat being silly with the kids and with a big smile on his face and thought, "what a gift God gave me in him."  This is a day we will file away in our memories, along with the days of meeting our other three kids for the first time.  I am so incredibly happy to be traveling this path with Pat.  We've had some major bumps in the road, and will have more in the future, but our hands are clasped tightly together and our eyes are fixed on our Savior.  There is no better way to be traveling through life.  

February 15: Today we celebrated the boys' birthdays with a "friends party."  This was the last "life as they know it" moment and it felt so good to see them having fun, surrounded by such good friends.  After we got home we told them. Pat told them that for awhile we have felt like our family was too small (Gabe lit up with a huge smile) and that we were going to be adding a brother and sister to the family.  After we shared the kids' ages, Gabe was relieved to know that he was still the oldest but hoped that they weren't very funny because he's "the silly one in the family" to which both boys jumped up and started doing slapstick.  Later while tucking them each in, they both chatted a bit about it and had questions but overall excitement.  

February 16: All of us spent the afternoon with the kids again.  The kids mostly played side-by-side and didn't interact a whole lot but they also seemed fine with each other.  We met again at a library and played with puppets and read lots of books.  I kept thinking "broken   story meets broken story" and thinking of mosaic tiles.  I've always admired how some people can take mosaic tiles and piece them together into a beautiful picture.  Both of our families have experienced the brokenness that comes from shattering events and I look forward to seeing how God puts our pieces together to form a new picture.  

They will be told tonight by their foster parents that we will be their forever family.  We will sign paperwork tomorrow, start the process to get our foster license, buy some carseats and look forward to the next visit on the weekend.  This feels overwhelming and completely normal all at the same time.  We are very, very excited.    

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Remembering my mom

Two years ago we said goodbye to my mom.  She was a fighter until the end, lasting longer than the drs thought after life support machines were turned off.

When I was growing up, she was often sick but yet she still found ways to make special moments and memories with us.  I remember her making pinatas for our birthday parties, hosting end of summer parties for us and our friends.  She once read about how to make large animals out of wood, a chicken wire frame, and paper mache and we made some incredible things sculptures together: an 8 foot long alligator, a 5 foot tall dinosaur and a 5 foot tall mummy (that one was for a school project).  I remember the night she declared that we were having an ice-cream dinner and it was ok because the green mint ice-cream would count as the green veggies.  She built a tree house for us in the backyard.  It never was finished as she wanted, but she also had big dreams for it.  Every Christmas, she would make many different kinds of cookies to give away.  As I grew up and had a family, this is something we continued to do and as Christmas approached, I could count on many emails from Mom with new cookie recipe ideas.

Mom also had a quiet but strong faith.  I remember seeing her with her pink Bible sitting on the couch or in her room reading and marking it up.  She had so many bookmarks throughout her Bible of special passages that spoke to her that her Bible bulged thick.  I remember watching the transformation she went through when I was a teenager and she was becoming sicker and then living at Temple University Hospital waiting for a heart and kidney transplant.  My once shy mom now has a "fire" in her to share her faith with others.  I first saw this one day when she was at home before the transplants--I came downstairs and she was on the phone telling someone about Jesus.  Before this she has been very quiet and private about her faith...rarely even praying out loud at the dinner table.  When she got off the phone, I asked her what she was doing and she explained that her time may be short and that she realized that she needed to share with others what was important to her.  She went on to quietly but persistently tell others when she moved into the hospital.  Many who stayed there with her, spoke of her quiet, strong faith and how she brought comfort to them as she would lead the group in prayer before surgeries.  She also started a Bible study while there and continued to go back weekly for years after her transplants.  Watching her taught me that God can transform us and use us if we just let Him.

As I grew up and had a family, we became closer and I talked with her often.  She came and helped after each boy was born, offered suggestions and cooked meals for us.  We talked recipes, life issues, and kid stuff.  After Sarah died, Mom called regularly, asking direct questions about how we all were doing.  And a few months later, even as she was preparing to say goodbye, she continued to ask how we were doing. She always lit up when she was with the boys and clearly deeply loved them.

I'm grateful for the time we had together, to make memories and for me to learn so many things from her.  I'm grateful the boys knew her.  I'm grateful that she is in Heaven--healed and no longer dealing with all the health struggles.  Mostly, I'm grateful for the hope we live in of seeing her again.  The boys and I imagine that she's snuggling Sarah and reading books to her or playing hide and seek.  I like that picture.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014. Hello 2015.

On New Year's Eve, I've always liked to stay up until midnight.  It doesn't always happen, especially when the kids were little, but I like to try.  Perhaps its silly but I like to say goodbye to the past year, reflecting on the ups and downs, thinking about lessons learned and thank the year for what it has brought to my life.  And I like to welcome the new year that is full of dreams, possibilities, goals and events that only God knows will come.  The past few years have been difficult so it has been hard to be thankful for the outgoing year.  In 2012, having recently said goodbye to my daughter and preparing to say goodbye to my mother, I stayed up until midnight almost to "spite" 2012 (crazy, right? As if it were alive and could feel my anger!).  And as the ball dropped I begged God that the coming year would bring healing and good things.  Part of me hoped that coming years would just be filled with ALL good things since I felt I had met my quota of "bad" for awhile.  Of course that wasn't possible and as I've written in other posts, healing has been slow but it has come.  And I've learned how to better embrace the good and the bad together.

2013 was still pretty bumpy and emotional but as I look back over 2014, it has been a good calming year.  No, God didn't grant my prayer to give just good things, there are still many question marks for different areas in our lives, but many good things have happened and the healing He's given has continued.  

In the Spring I felt the last bits of the fog melt away. The fog had been both mental and physical--I just felt drained.  It had slowly been going away since Sarah's death but it was still there to a degree.  It felt good to realize the fog was gone and that I felt like myself again...a stronger, more confident version of me.  And I saw Pat and the boys letting go of some of their fog this past year too. We've enjoyed a lot of family time, some trips together and lots of laughter.  The last few months have been particularly busy and, as the year has wrapped up, I've enjoyed the past week home with the boys.  I had thought that we'd do lots of play dates or activities but in the end we've spent most of the time at home.  And it has been wonderful.  The slower pace has allowed for a few PJ days, lots of games, air guitar bands, movies, book reading, telling stories, building legos, fighting dragons, toy organizing, snuggles, drawing, staying up later and sleeping in,  

So, 2014, goodbye.  Thanks for being a calming year for me and for my family.  Thank you for the time spent with and memories made with friends and family.  Thank you for the dreams we've begun to dream again.  2015--You're filled with so much promise, growth, learning and events.  I want to embrace everything you have remembering that God is the one who has ordained the details and is the one who will lead us through it all.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014


October has been a busy month.  Early in September, at our weekly planning meeting, when Pat and I reviewed our calendars we saw that it would be a month filled with work commitments and family activities.  All good things and we were looking forward to the last weekend in October when we planned to go away as a family.  We just got back tonight and the boys are playing, winding down from a long car ride. This was the first time the boys stayed in a hotel since we've only camped with them or stayed in a cottage and it was fun to hear them as we packed.  Since they are used to helping set up the campsite, they kept asking what their chores would be when we got there.  And Gabe was concerned that we remember to bring the broom and dustpan so we could sweep out the room each morning...one of his favorite chores when camping.

We had a fun couple days visiting a train museum/display where there were lots of activities for the kids, swimming, watching movies, more swimming, touring a cavern and singing LOTS of songs.  I've loved the conversations we've had with them.  And I've loved the time Pat and I have had to read quietly and catch up on serious talks and silly talks too.  I kept trying to share some fact about myself that Pat didn't know yet.  But he already knew and I'm thankful for a husband (of almost 10 years...in a few weeks!) who knows me so well and loves me so well.  Early in our marriage, we learned from a couple who had been married 60 years, that love isn't a noun, its a verb.  We need to show love through our actions--just as Jesus did for us.  My heart is so happy when I am with these guys that God has put into my life.  Life really is an adventure with them...the best adventure of all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sarah's second birthday

The house is filled with the smells of a birthday cake made to remember Sarah's second birthday tomorrow. I wish the house was filled with Sarah's laughter instead.  On the way home from work today, I stopped to get flowers to bring to her grave tomorrow and started sobbing in the store.  Yes, sobbing.  I may not go back there for awhile...

Two years ago tonight we were fighting hard--I was on a second round of 24 hours of magnesium, hadn't slept in 48 hours and was gearing up for what turned out to be another sleepless night.  In the morning my Doctors said it was time to deliver, they were concerned there was an infection brewing and it was best to get Sarah out before she got sick.  I remember hearing her cry and the doctors saying saying she was as strong as she could be for her age and I felt a moment of hope.  We held onto that hope as the days went by.

Even as tears have been falling freely this past week, and likely will continue to this coming week, in the corner of my heart I feel some peace as I look at how God has healed us and held us together over the past couple years. Tonight was a calm night filled with piano lessons, bike rides, baths and games.  I think all four of us have been a bit emotional this week (the boys know this year that it is her birthday).  I'm reminding myself of all of God's promises and holding onto the fact that He doesn't leave us, that his grace has been unfolding in our lives over the past two years and it will continue to unfold in coming years...in ways I can't even imagine.

But tonight...my heart hurts and life just feels awful.

Please join us to remember Sarah's life by serving someone else this next week.  Let's open our eyes and look for people whose hope is fading.  There are so many all around us who are hurting and need to be reminded that their story isn't over, that God loves them.  As we reach out to those who are hurting we can help people to not feel alone and see a picture of God's grace in their life.

"The Glorious Unfolding" (Steven Curtis Chapman)


Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
We’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

We were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning

Of this glorious unfolding
We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise God has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfolding

Just watch and see (unfolding)
This is just the beginning of the beginning (unfolding)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finding grace in an unlikely place

In our house we've had our share of serious talks with the kids.  Especially over the past 18 months.  Today we had a grace conversation in the bathroom while oldest was getting ready for school.  

Hey buddy, you've been in here awhile...you ok?  

Yes, Mom.  I'm just brushing my teeth.  Can I have a hug?  Lots of hugs? 

Sure, what's up?  

Well, I've been doing lots of bad things and I just need forgiveness.

Buddy, we're just trying to teach you.  We love you.  And if we have forgotten to tell you, we do forgive you when you don't do what you're supposed to.  But guess what?  The Bible tells us that we are not good people who sometimes do bad things, does it?  

No, we are sinners.  What does that mean again?

It means that we think mostly of ourselves and want to be in charge and not let God be in charge.  And because we are sinners we can't do good without His grace, Him helping us.  And when we sin we can know that He forgives us too. Want to pray together?  

After we prayed, as we drove to school, we did a familiar morning routine, saying, "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Rejoice!"  Followed by a regular line in our house: Remember today that Mommy and Daddy love you forever and ever, no matter what. And Jesus does too

These moments that I have shared with each of my three kids, telling them about Jesus, are the ones I tuck away in my heart and memory to treasure forever.  These are the moments that really matter.