Wednesday, February 10, 2016

adoption story: cole and amy

Adoption is often full of surprises. When Cole and Amy started with Christian Adoption Consultants last February, they didn't know how God would write their story. By the end of May, their home study was written. Then, just four months later, they were matched with an expectant mother. Their first unexpected surprise was the love they developed for her.

When we began the process we thought we wanted a completely closed adoption, but as we got into the process we were amazed to see our hearts change and open up to the beautiful woman who chose life and adoption for our son. Now that he is part of our family, we are praying for her daily, and hoping that she chooses to reach out to us as we send her updates. It is amazing how God changed our hearts as we trusted Him in this process. 

Their second surprise? Something as simple as their sons' birthdate that came with incredible meaning to their family.

Elijah was born on world prematurity day. After losing our first baby early in the pregnancy, Brayden was born 12 weeks early (at just 1 pound, 6 ounces) because I was in heart failure. I was a healthy, fit 23 year old before I became pregnant so this was a complete shock. Brayden had a 3 month NICU stay and I spent the first 2 days of his life on a ventilator. Then, almost 3 years later, on the day meant to recognize premature babies, Elijah was born a perfect, HEALTHY, beautiful newborn. It felt like God was confirming to us that He had seen us through the struggles of Brayden's birth and was blessing us with this precious healthy baby. 

We never dreamed we would be so blessed as to have this experience!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

adoption story: dan and leanne

One of my joys as an adoption consultant is telling adoption stories. There are dozens of them filling these pages; stories of God setting the lonely in families, stories of His faithfulness, and stories of families coming together. Today LeAnne, an adoptive mama, tells their story...

Our good Lord has blessed our family with many children; all but one of those He called home to Himself after a few short weeks.  

Our journey to adopt has also not been easy.  After a year and a half with a local adoption agency, we began to think that perhaps it was time to heal from all the losses, the grief, and to let go of our hopes and desires for another child.  But then a friend suggested we widen our search beyond our home state, and another friend encouraged us to connect with Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants. Susan connected us to several quality adoption agencies around the country, and through one of them we were chosen to be adoptive parents!  We now look at all of the trials and challenges as the "birth pangs" that came before the amazing gift of our new little daughter.  

Our four year old loves to sing "My cup is full and running over" and she adds verses about our baby.  And when we hold her, when we see her sweet smile light up her face, when we hear our four year old laugh with delight from her core over the gift of her sister...  Indeed, our cup is full and running over!

Beautiful photos by THOR*tography

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

in their own words: jami nato on oils

Today my sweet friend Jami Nato is sharing more about her experience with essential oils. She's the one that got me started and believing for the first time oils wasn't just crazy talk. You've heard me share a bit of our story here, but Jami is an oily pro (she'll roll her eyes when she reads this but it's true). Here's her story of how she got started, how she uses them with her family, and how the oils surprised her.

I remember first delving into the world of essential oils and I will be honest, I tried them on my husband first as a sacrificial lamb for the rest of us. "These are completely safe. Don't be a baby!" I chided, hoping he wouldn't keel over. And he didn't! His wellness actually improved, and I noticed it with myself as well. I started learning them for me, as a hobby, because I'm a nerd who loves holistic wellness and always love trying natural things first before heading to other remedies. 

As I learned what worked for me, and how I preferred to use them, I began to get more confident and started using them on the kiddos. I think it's important to put your oxygen mask on first before your try and put it on others. As I assessed our on going needs, it seemed like we needed help in the areas of focus and attention for our special needs 7 year old, and sleep help for the baby (of course!), and general wellness help with tummy troubles or respiratory support as those yucky seasons arrived. If you want more detailed info using oils on kiddos, check this link. 

And I guess what happened here was that they worked. I almost couldn't believe it, even though I love holistic ideas…it just seemed like such a trend and I'm, well, kind of a skeptic. It built my confidence in the products for a couple of reasons: 

1) They just kept working and I felt so empowered as a mother. Instead of watching and waiting when an issue arose, I had a whole new toolbox to help! I was no longer powerless. I at least could try a few things and research what might work here and there. It opened my eyes to a whole new world. Self care is health care! What a perspective shift. 

2) I was confident this product was the highest quality. Did I mention I'm a researcher and a skeptic? Ha! I looked into the company. What makes them different? Oh.My.Word. They own their own farms, they try to work them with animals as much as they can so as to not get truck exhaust on the delicate plants. They test soil daily. They have stringent guidelines for the oils they produce and then have them tested by a third party. The people who distill plants are trained for 5 years before they can do it themselves.   They have an open farm policy: you can go visit and see them work anytime.  It was things like this over and over. I learned that essential oils that you can pull off the shelves are highly unregulated, doctored up with carrier oils, and still labeled 100% pure, organic, and therapeutic! Not so with Young Living! They are in charge of the taking the seeds from the strongest plants the year before, planting, farming, distilling, bottling and shipping! They call this process Seed to Seal and there is nothing like from any other essential oils company on the planet. 

3) It turned into an accidental business for me. I hated MLM's and called them pyramid schemes while making fun of anyone who engaged in network marketing. And then, I had a business because I kept sharing about them. I couldn't stop sharing this good thing I found. I would share whether I got paid or not, but I happened to get paychecks. It turned out to be a game changer in my life. I found my giftings and passions and the oils business funded dreams God put in my heart years ago that I thought were impossible because of funding. It also gave me a window into the companies altruistic heart, their generosity towards their employees and communities where their farms are. They build schools, partner with companies that provide opportunity and hire those in the community to farm. It's an incredible company and an incredible opportunity. I am now able to fund adoptions, support missionaries, sponsor children, and chase dreams because of the business side. 

All that to say, essential oils are the real deal. They aren't "snake oils" as my husband first made fun of me when my kit arrived in the mail. We still call them that and laugh about it often, but we know what they mean to our family and how they've really changed our lives. 

Sleepy time roller DIY (15ml roller bottle): 
10 drops lavender and the rest filled with fractionated coconut oil 
Roll on the babies feet before bed! 
These are a few fave sleepy time oils: Cedarwood, Rutavala, White Angelica
I also like: Vetiver, Dream Catcher, and good ol' lavender  
Make a blend that suits your nose. Experiment with what works for you! 
From Jami's Oil Collective (one of the best oily Instagrams out there!)

Jami Nato is a blogger and working on her first book, a marriage memoir (if she can ever finish it!). She is wife and mother to 4, as well as an oily entrepreneur who loves margaritas, bergamot, and naps. 

For more info on essential oils (and if you want to try them yourself), check out this post. Follow the link at the end of the post and if you order this month, the Premium Starter Kit is 10% off!

Annnnd, if you're in the KC area, we're gathering with some of our favorite local ladies for an Oil Bar. Come for drinks and hear stories of how we use our oils in our daily lives. We'll also have Zyto Scans available! Message me if you want more info!

Friday, January 29, 2016

adoption story: ryan and kelly

When I met Ryan and Kelly for the first time in a busy coffee shop, I was immediately struck by their hearts for adoption, their strong faith, and their unwavering commitment to follow God's call for their family. I especially loved watching as they faithfully prayed for every expectant mama they heard about. Today Kelly shares the story of their adoption, their family, and God's faithfulness.

When we felt God calling us to adopt in the summer of 2013, some friends of ours were adopting through Christian Adoption Consultants. After our research, we felt that it would somehow be less expensive to pursue adoption with a local adoption agency. We finished our home study in about 4 months and then waited. And waited. And waited. We did not hear anything from the agency. Not a single word. We would check in with them about once a month to ask if our profile was being seen or if they were currently working with any expectant mothers. After roughly a year of our monthly check-ins, we were ever so kindly told that it would most likely take a very long time or a miracle for our family to be matched with one of their expectant mothers. We are a slightly older couple with three biological children and most of their expectant mothers were choosing young childless couples.  The agency in no way deceived us or gave us false hope; we just didn't realize the limited amount of expectant mothers that the agency would be working with.

After talking with our friends who had signed up with CAC now a year before, we decided to meet with Susan face to face so we could get a grasp on what their organization was all about. We shared our hearts for adoption over some coffee and we realized we were so sad that we did not choose to work with CAC from the beginning. Once we had the facts, we soon realized that using a local adoption agency was in no way less expensive than working with CAC. Because our home study was current, there was really nothing for us to wait on and we began receiving situations to consider the very next night after signing up with CAC. What a difference from hearing nothing from the agency to having expectant parents and an unborn baby to pray for!

We received information about many expectant mothers during our time of waiting to be matched. We felt so honored to be able to be made aware of these situations and to pray for these women and their unborn babies. Such a privilege! We were presented to many expectant mothers and we were matched with an expectant couple after about 3 months with CAC. That couple ultimately decided to parent this little girl. We were heartbroken, of course, but we love the fact that the little girl was prayed for so fervently before she was born and we will continue to pray for her and her parents.  

We decided to start seeing situations again fairly soon after our failed match. We were made aware of many situations. Some we asked to be presented to and some we did not, but we prayed for them all. We heard several no's during this second time of waiting.  Not knowing what God is doing in our lives behind the scenes is always so hard, but we continued to pray for these women and babies, knowing that was our role for now in this world of adoption. And Susan was always there to remind us that God is in control when we were in the trenches.

We were matched again about 3 months later, this time with a little boy. We were able to build a wonderful relationship with the expectant mom and her family over the course of the pregnancy. We were thrilled when she asked us to be in the delivery room with her. After sitting in a hotel room for 2 weeks after false contractions, our little Griffin Jude made his appearance on our 16th wedding anniversary.  We spent the next two days in the hospital with the birth mother and built such a special bond with her.

It's so awesome to see how God has written this story in our lives. He really has been in every single detail. We don't feel that our time with the local agency was wasted time, as it was all part of God's plan to bring us together with Griffin. But if you are having any doubts at all about signing up with CAC, please take our advice and just do it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

in their own words: baby booties and answered prayers

You've heard Tadd and Andrea's story. How their "rainbow baby" came to them. This week they celebrate their daughter being theirs for five months and Andrea shared this story of Clara's little baby shoes, shoes they had long before five months ago...

5 months old! This girl has stolen my heart 1000%. She is the answer to many many many prayers. 

When Tadd and I first got married, we bought a pair of baby booties, and faithfully prayed over them every night, for a precious child of our own. Tragedy struck multiple times. One loss, then another. Two sweet babies in Heaven. 

Our hearts began to grow weary in our pursuit to fulfill our God given desires for a family of our own. But we continued to faithfully pray over those baby booties. 6 years into our marriage, tragedy struck yet again, with the loss of our Cameron Lee. 

My heart began to give up. When we got home from the hospital...home without our sweet boy... Tadd pulled out the baby booties we had so faithfully prayed over all those years. My heart was too weary, and I told him to put them away. That we must have misunderstood God's calling on our lives to be parents. 

But Tadd's determination just grew stronger, and there in our room, as he held those tiny little baby booties, he called out to God and rebuked Satan from destroying our lives. He prayed and cried over those precious booties. Then he handed them to me, and simply said "whatever it takes...don't give up on your dreams. Whatever it takes...I won't let you give up." 

Here, my proof of the power of prayer. Here is testament that God still creates beauty from ashes. If ever you've had doubts of the faithfulness of our loving Savior...look into the eyes of this precious child, knowing full well that He makes all things beautiful...IN HIS TIME.

Monday, January 25, 2016

whatever is true

I don't know about you, but I love hearing stories of hard times and triumph. Full of redemption and glory and happy endings. We like to revel in the stories after the hard stuff has been wrapped up in a neat package with a pretty bow. 

This is not one of those posts.

Instead, this will be one from the trenches. In the midst of the hard stuff before I'm on the other side or knowing how the story will turn out.

In the thick of all of this, if I'm honest, there is simply pure exhaustion. Often in the midst of crisis and tragedy life has to go on: you have to show up to work, drive the kids to school, put dinner on the table. Life isn't empathic when it comes to stopping for things to "get better; " it just keeps going. And the simple longevity of a hard space can lend to feelings of isolation, fear, and pain.

It's a dangerous place for a heart. And perfect soil for these feelings to settle in and begin to grow. To begin to believe the lies that I am alone, that this will never end, and even that God is distant. I can't get away (even for a moment) that my reality right now is just plain difficult.

But there is a truer reality. It's more real than my feelings. More real than even the circumstances I'm walking through. And when I get lost and overwhelmed with what is around me, I can rest on this: nothing happens to me outside of God's sweet love and care for me. 

Putting my experiences and feelings through this filter changes everything. I've been literally living in Romans 8 recently. It's one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible, full of who God is and who He says I am. How He is constantly close and that nothing can separate me from His undying love.

The essence of anxiety is failing to trust God's care for us. Not believing that everything that happens to us is for our good and His glory. Paul admonished us to think on "whatever is true" in Philippians as a direct response when anxiety creeps into our lives and into our hearts. When I believe the gospel, that God is always for me and nothing that happens to me is outside of his sovereign control and perfect love, I can rest. 

So, here I am, smack in the middle of a hard and exhausting space. But I know the end of the story. I know the reality truer than even what I can see around me. 

He has promised to someday make all the sad things untrue. And this makes all the difference.

Friday, January 22, 2016

adoption story: matt and kristin

As an adoption consultant, my favorite part of my job is watching a family be created.

Adoption had always been on Matt and Kristin's heart. And when they decided to grow their family through adoption, they called Christian Adoption Consultants. 

Their home study was ready in April and I began sending them possible situations that might be a good fit. After receiving a few over several months, they were presented to an expectant mama who wanted to make an adoption plan for her baby. It had been just three months and they were chosen, with a baby arriving in December!

The next few months were full of baby preparations and developing a relationship with their expectant mother. They were able to meet with her once and made plans to go to a doctors office with her again in November. 

And in circumstances that only God could have planned, when Kristin was in town visiting in November, their sweet son decided to make an early surprise appearance. Kristin was able to see his birth and help welcome him into the world.

Congrats Matt and Kristin. It's been a joy to watch your journey to parenthood!

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