Monday, April 29, 2013

A Pirate Parrrrrrty

This year Jackson turned 6. We went with a pirate treasure party theme since he is all boy and swords and treasure hunts are right up his alley right now. 

Let me confess, I never thought I would be "one of those moms." You know the kind: the ones that plan extravagant parties that are color coordinated and themed. But when I told the baker at the local grocery store when ordering his cake what the color scheme was, I realized I had turned into "one of those." Although Jack's little pirate party was far from extravagant (and I refuse to embrace cheesy character themes with matching cups, plates, tablecloths, and balloons), I realized we had fun putting this party together.

I've decided to embrace my love for all things crafty AND my complete lack of skill at anything crafty. Insert Pinterest and other's extraordinary ideas and bam, somehow I can pull off something that turned out pretty piratey. 

About two weeks ago, I realized I was failing at motherhood when Jack's birthday snuck up on me and I hadn't even thought about his party, or gotten invites out. Jamy assured me I wasn't the worst mother and we created these. One huge mistake - I ordered the bottles online based completely on cuteness value rather than the realities of logistics. I had to send an apology email to the moms that they would need tweezers to pull the invite out. Luckily, mamas were gracious and by the sounds of it, boys had fun working to maneuver the invitation out. Win.

Decor was easy. Jackson's room has a nautical theme so we simply moved all of his room decor to the dining room. One of my favorite comments was when one of the moms realized this was probably not our normal decor to dine in. Nope, banners are usually not in the kitchen. (And yet again, banners were stapled to twine - because sewing is not a part of my skill set.)

Food was even more fun. Once I convinced Jamy that six year old boys wouldn't appreciate his gourmet cooking quite like adults do, we served fun finger foods. Cannon balls (olives) on little pirate swords, pirate gold (cheese), pirate coins (crackers), and pirate jewels (fruit cabobs). We had a cupcake cake made as a pirate island with Jack's Playmobile pirates as props.

During the party the boys painted treasure chests, had fun playing in the bounce castle, and having sword fights. The highlight was shooting "cannon ball" water balloons from the deck of the "ship" into hula hoops for points. At one point, a bad pirate came and stole the beautiful princess and the boys hurled cannon balls at them. (Jackson has a daddy and a big sister who are great sports.)

We also created a treasure hunt. The boys received clues leading them around inside and outside the house. There were coins to collect in their pirate pouches with each clue until they finally reached a treasure chest fully of goodies hidden in the swing set.  

The boys were adorable in their little mustaches, pirate hats, and eye patches. We were able to create an afternoon full of memories and lots of laughter. In the end, I'm thankful there were no eyes poked out with all the sword fighting.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Ride

Last weekend to celebrate Jackson's birthday, we packed up the kids and took them to Worlds of Fun, a local amusement park. We met up with the Kramps, friends who have become like family to us, and spent the night riding coasters, eating Cinnabon and kettle corn, and laughing at the kids having the time of their lives.

We raised our kids right, in terms of roller coasters anyway. They love them. Jackson cried when we realized he was half an inch away from riding a few of them. (We even put him in the tallest shoes I could find.)

Isabelle went straight for the big guns when she was five years old: her first roller coaster went upside down and backwards. She chose one of the biggest in the park to begin her coaster riding career. I held my breath and tentatively watched her face as she strapped in and waited for the ride to begin. She had a huge grin. She was holding on tight. Her daddy was beside her.

She was ready.

When I describe this past year and a half to others, I tell them it's felt a lot like riding a roller coaster. I wish the path to healing was a linear one; a straight shot to feeling whole and put together. But it's way more like a roller coaster than a smooth ride to the top of a summit. Lots of ups and downs. Stops and starts. Upside down and through tunnels. Flashes taking your picture for all the world to see when you least expect it.

But I can have the same confidence that Isabelle did. A five year old ignorance of what lays ahead but confident that my Father will keep me safe. A feeling of adventure as He leads me to do new and hard and wonderful things.

When Isabelle got off of her first roller coaster, she was thrilled. "Let's do it again, Daddy! I want to do it again!"

Will I ever want to walk this path to healing again? Not in a lot of ways. But I do love the confidence I have of my Heavenly Father beside me. Riding with the assurance that He is in control and keeping me safe.

Bar down. Arms up.  I'm ready for this ride with Him.

Monday, April 22, 2013

He's 6 Today

It's hard to believe you came into our world six years ago, Jackson.

It's been a big year for you, buddy. You broke your arm falling from the monkey bars. You started Kindergarten at Whitefield. You've begun reading with a vengeance. You've had to deal with chronic pain and shown how brave you are.

If I'm honest, there are things I miss about you being little.  
I miss your adorable toddler curls. I miss wearing you and nursing you and you falling asleep in my lap. I also miss your naps (a lot). But you still twirl your hair when you tell me a story or are tired. And you bury your head in my chest when you're scared or nervous. You still sleep with your "hippo." And you're still not too big to snuggle and kiss your mama.  

But there are things I'm loving about you growing up.
You've developed quite a sense of humor and love playing pranks on all of us. Your favorite joke is "Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide!" And it never gets old (for you). Your giggle is contagious. Right now you love sword fighting, Star Wars, break dancing, Mario Cart, and playing any kind of sport. You are constantly in motion and we have to slow you down to eat and wrestle you down to sleep. Some of my favorite times spent with you are snuggling up with you reading a book or going to Starbucks for a mommy/son date with hot chocolate and a card game.

And there are lots of ways you make me proud.
I'm proud of your sense of developing justice. You fiercely defend your sister even though you're the little brother.  You care for those around you and are loyal to a fault. You have a sensitive heart that can't quite handle some of the action scenes in Disney movies.  And you're beginning to understand what it means to really love Jesus.  I love to listen to you pray and get a glimpse of how you and Jesus talk together.  

I'm so proud to be your mama.

I love you, buddy. You'll always be my favorite boy.  

Happy birthday, Jack.  I'm so excited for what year six will hold for you...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Parting the Waters in the Night

I was chatting with a friend yesterday. A friend discouraged on the journey. Weary.  

You know the feeling. The one where you know God MUST be doing something because He is good and has called you to walk a certain road. But the one where God seems silent. Distant. Too far off to be with you in the junk you're going through. And one where it seems like rescue is a long time in coming.

I've been there. Heartbroken. Lonely. Tired.  On a long and hard journey. Calling out to God to save me and hearing only silence.

I've been reminded recently of the Israelites journey in the desert and their exodus from oppressive Egypt. They had just been released from hundreds of years of bondage and slavery. They even left with gold and jewels and clothing. God had performed dozens of miracles to get them to that point.

And then they reached the Red Sea.  

They encounter a massive road block. And their enemies are in hot pursuit. There's nowhere to turn. It seems all they can do is sit and wait for the inevitable to happen. To sit and wait for God's rescue.  

I've known that part of the story since I was little. Watching the flannelgraphs in Miss Marilyn's children's church. Moses lifts up his staff and God parts the Red Sea, saving the his people from the Egyptians and making the way.

But that's not exactly how it went.

The waters took all night to part. I had always assumed that it was immediate. That the Isrealites called on God and saw within minutes how the Lord would rescue them. But it took ALL NIGHT. In the grand scheme of things, this was only hours and they should be confident after just walking away from plundering their captors. But can you imagine how long that night must have been for them? They could see the Egyptian armies coming after them. The danger was real.

I recently heard a biblical scholar say that when God parted the Red Sea, he actually did it on the other side, where the Isrealites couldn't see what he was doing until the very last moment.

In the midst of all of this, Moses gives the people this word: "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today...The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." Exodus 14:13-14

From The Jesus Storybook Bible
I have been at the water's edge. At the place where God seems silent. Where he has faithfully led me and even done miracles to get me to that point. And then everything changes when I'm camping out at the edge of destruction. Where the night is long and God is quiet.

It's in these times that it just might be that he's doing something. God has been working through my night to part the waters. Bring healing. Do a miracle. Bring redemption. Answering my prayers.

And it's at these times when I'm at the water's edge that I need to believe the gospel. His timing is perfect. He is sufficient. He remains faithful. He knows what he's doing. I can trust.

The Lord will fight for me. He's been fighting all night.

He's moving the waters.  We just can't see it yet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring CAC Discount!

Christian Adoption Consultants is pleased to offer a spring discount! We will be offering 10% off all full service consulting packages and 20% off all consulting packages for those open to our Minority Adoption Program. (This discount does not apply to our Do It Yourself Program and may not be combined with any other discounts.) 

This sweet little one just joined Alan and Amanda this weekend through CAC!

This discount applies to all applications received today until April 26, 2013.

What is Christian Adoption Consultants?  Click here.

What does it mean to hire an adoption consultant?  Click here.

Want to get started?  Click here.

What if you have more questions?  Click here.

Today could be the first step you take on the journey towards adoption! 

Have friends who are thinking about adoption? Make sure you share this post! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Congratulations Alan and Amanda

Since the day I first met Amanda, she has always been confident that God was writing the story of their family.  

Alan and Amanda hold a dear place in my heart. They adopted their son, Creed through my consulting services just over a year ago.When Amanda called me over the holidays saying they were ready to pursue adoption again, I wasn't surprised. Their heart for their family and passion for adoption overflows into everything they do. And I was thrilled to work with them again!

Alan and Amanda signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants the end of February, completed their home study the next month, and DAYS later were matched with their birth family. Then, TWO days later their beautiful daughter was born!

Out of all the the texts I get during the week, these are always some of my favorites.

Congrats Alan and Amanda.You were right. God wrote your family a beautiful story.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Untweetable Updates

I'm starting to live life a little more publicly  Blogging and consulting will do that to you. This is to my introverted extended family's horror and my children's future chagrin.  

A common phrase around here is "That's not tweetable!" It's kind of like calling "base" when playing tag and claiming safety. Trust me, many things happen in our home that are untweetable but soooooo funny. (Those are called boundaries my friends. Although we all know from social media not everyone appreciates them in the same way...)

So there's this constant tension in our home. How do we share what's going on in a way that protects healthy boundaries and also share transparently what God is doing in our lives? And there's tension in my heart too. My pride gets in the way. My clients read this, I think. People who don't know our whole story will make judgments. They'll think I don't have it all together...    

The other day I read this:

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and
your faithfulness from the great congregation.
Psalm 40:9-10

And then God drops this one on me too:

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and all the wonders he has done.
He established a testimony...that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn, and arise to tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the words of God,
but keep his commandments.
Psalm 78:4-8

Well shoot. I was planning on keeping the latest "stuff" happening in our lives under the healthy boundaries category and move on. But those who know me could tell things were off. When you press into Jesus for simple things like continuing to breathe and live and shower I guess it shows... And really, if we don't share our stuff, no one will appreciate the crazy miracles happening right now in our family. In our hearts. In our living room.  It's good stuff.

Yes, other professionals and clients read my blog. Sure, people will judge me. And of course I don't have it all together. But these words from the Psalms change my perspective on what's important. God's image always wins over mine. (At least, that's the truth I need to train my heart in.)

So here's an update from the past 5 weeks of our lives. Maybe someday I'll unpack it a little more. There are so many things to share about God moving and working. Changing hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. Continuing to rid us of ourselves and fill us up with more of Him.

But for now, here's the abridged version:

Jamy left again.  That was hard.
God came close.  That was good.
We both worked on stuff.  That was intense.
Jamy came home.  That was a miracle.
And now we have continued work to do.

As I look at this list, I realize how hugely abridged it really is. There are a ton of stories of God's goodness, rescue, and faithfulness. And I know I'll begin to tell them...someday...

When I started blogging only a few short months ago, my very first post was about why I'm actually doing this (blogging that is).  And my last statement was this:

Because I’m really doing it for me and my family. To preserve memories. To remember the things that are really important. To preach the gospel to myself and actually write it out so I can hear it not just in my head but in my heart. So I can track the grace-filled mess God is creating right now. In my life.  

So continuing to tell our story, sharing our junk, and living transparently is our feeble attempt at telling the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will speak of His deliverance and salvation. We won't constrain our lips.  

We will tell the congregation of his steadfast love and faithfulness. Because this is all that matters.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Daddy Daughter Dance That Didn't Happen

All year I've been on the planning committee to create Whitefield's annual Daddy Daughter Dance this spring. We planned a Daddy Daughter Sock Hop; complete with poodle skirts, dinner at the local 50's diner, and hula hoop competitions.

Several weeks before the dance this past weekend, Jamy and I found out we would be out of town. Early on in our marriage, Jamy and I decided that the only thing that would come before our kids in our family was our marriage. When we had to make a decision between an intensive marriage conference that was out of town and the Daddy Daughter dance, the decision was clear (although incredibly hard).

This is THE quintessential event of the year if you are 7. So when Isabelle found out that Daddy wouldn't be taking her this year, there was devastation. Truth be told, there was devastation on all our parts. Jamy desperately wanted to take her. I wanted to see the results of a year of hard work. And of course Isabelle wanted to go to the Daddy Daughter Dance with her Daddy. 

This story seems headed for heartbreak. Luckily, it has a happy ending. When my brother found out about the situation, he offered to take Isabelle. This means Tim drove a total of 16 hours just to take his niece to the Daddy Daughter Dance (which Bella now affectionately calls her very own "Uncle Niece Dance"). He drove hundreds of miles, dressed up (purchased that great greaser jacket and glasses with the attached mustache), and spent the evening doing The Twist and The Handjive with his niece.  

Even writing about it now still makes tears well up in my eyes and my heart overflow with thanks at a brother and uncle who would sacrifice so much to take Isabelle to a dance.  

This weekend my brother sowed into my daughter and told her how important she is.

This weekend my brother sowed into my marriage and told us how valuable it is.

This weekend my brother showed me Jesus. (Even if Jesus was wearing a leather jacket and a fake 'stache.)

Thanks bro. You'll always be my favorite brother.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Do You Have What it Takes to Adopt?

Last week, I outlined 5 reasons NOT to adopt. If families are honest with themselves, they need to take a good look at that list to ensure they don't fit into any of those categories. Although families often have many motivations to adopt, I've found several that go much deeper than finding another child to fit in your family or purchasing a minivan.  

Having the right motivation going into adoption will propel a family to do the hard work of the adoption process. Here's a list of valid reasons to adopt:

To provide a forever family to a child
Adopting isn't just about getting a sweet little baby. It extends way past diapers and even past 18 years of childhood. Adopting is adding to someone to your family for a lifetime. This includes fully accepting and embracing a child, including their heritage and culture. Being a family means creating memories, passing on faith and traditions, teaching values, and offering unconditional love and acceptance.

You have the ability to care for a child in all ways
Adding to your family is not only a great opportunity and privilege, it's also a tremendous responsibility. Being a parent means you have the extra resources of finances, time, energy, space, and love. Having children is demanding and realistically evaluating your life to see if you have resources to spare is a critical part of becoming a parent.

You understand your own adoption
If you're a believer, you've been spiritually adopted. Our adoption as God's children through Christ is throughout scripture (John 1:12, Romans 8:14-16, Galatians 4:4-6). As families our role is to reflect the fatherhood of God. What better way than to open our homes to adoption the same way God did for us? Our homes and families can be an overflow of the goodness and grace we've received in our own lives. If you truly understand the gospel, adoption is as natural as your own sonship in the Kingdom.

To be an active part of the life movement
There's not a more profound statement you can make for being pro-life than adopting. In the United States, over 4,000 babies are aborted every day.  Birth mothers are faced with the agonizing choice of not being in a season to parent and feeling like they have no other choice than to abort their babies. But we can offer them a choice. Adoption offers hope, restoration, and redemption, not just for a child, but for everyone involved.

When adoption is more about the selfless love of a child and an extension of your faith, you know you're ready to jump in. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you're making an eternal impact on someone's life. 

Let's fill the world with minivans.

(As long as you have good reasons to get one.)
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