Friday, September 26, 2014

adoption story: paul and katie

For some couples, adoption can be the only choice to become parents. Understandably, many go through the heartache of infertility and infertility treatments before coming to adoption as a way to grow their family. But for Paul and Katie, it was always their first choice. 


Paul and Katie started with Christian Adoption Consultants in January this year. Katie shared then, Adoption has been the “Plan A” approach for us even before we married!  This isn’t a second option for us; it’s one we had in mind from the start. We’ve been deliberate about adoption being the only option from day one and we’re excited about the prospect of our dreams coming true.  

By mid-March they had completed their home study, and just a month later, matched with a birth family. Over the spring and summer, Paul and Katie built a relationship with the expectant parents; swapping phone calls and even a weekend visit.  


While they were waiting for their sweet baby to arrive, Paul and Katie were diligent in making the most of their time. They read and researched. They prayed and prepared. They did all they could to plan for their little one, the adoption process, and the arrival of their daughter.


And then, at the beginning of September, all the praying and preparing came to fruition with the birth of their beautiful daughter. 

For Paul and Katie, adoption wasn't God's second best for their family. It was His perfect plan all along. They prayed and God powerfully answered.

Do you notice the scripture their daughter is is laying on? 1 Samuel 1:27: I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of him.


Can you tell this little girl has a talented photographer as a mommy? Visit Katie James Photography for more of her amazing work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

once upon a time...

This year Isabelle had a very specific idea about how she wanted to spend her birthday. Around here, birthday party themes are talked about all year and nearly prayed over. It's a big deal when you're nine.

Bella is a huge reader and decided she wanted a book-themed "Once Upon a Time" party. Awesome, I thought. I have no idea how to throw a party with books. Do I just pile up a punch of them together and read fairy tales to the guests for a few hours?


It turns out her idea was brilliant. Easy activities. Easy eats. And even easier decor.



Vintage inspired library card invites by PennyAnnDesigns on Etsy. I did the math: I spent an extra $2 to have someone create these for me vs. purchasing the materials and cussing out my printer for a few hours. Totally worth it.


Party favors included glasses (sunglasses I popped the lenses out of), pencil cases and pencils, and Scrabble tile place settings. If you're wondering how many Scrabble games I needed to pilfer from thrift stores to pull this off for all the guests the answer is three. If you're wondering how many thrift stores I needed to visit in order to pull this off the answer is more than three.


Isabelle even helped design her cake at the local grocery store bakery. This was a crap shoot since I couldn't find any good designs online without fondant and that cost less than a designer dress. God bless you, Mr. Bakery Manager for creating this for $20 bucks!



During the party, the girls created Mad Libs, played with Story Cubes, painted their own bookmarks, and did a book exchange. We made the book exchange a game where Jamy read the girls a story (in a funny voice and a fancy bow tie that Isabelle pretended to be embarrassed over). The girls sat in a circle and passed their wrapped book left or right when they heard two words we had chosen earlier. At the end of the story they each had a different book than they came with.




Food was super fun and easy to prep. Book sandwiches, Scrabble Cheez Its and "book worms" (gummy worms), and cheese stick pencils and pink cookie wafer erasers.

This year was especially fun to plan since Isabelle was such a huge part of coming up with ideas, decorating, and dreaming up her party. I love that it reflected Isabelle's passions and interests and was a sweet space for this mama and daughter to create together. 


In the end, the party was a breeze to put together and all the giggles from Bella and her friends created a ton of fun.

Happy Birthday, Bella. I can't wait to see what your ninth chapter holds!


Wanna see what we've come up with in the past? Check out Isabelle's Pancake and Pajamas Party and her Birthday Art Expo and Jackson's Pirate Paaaaarty.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

this girl is nine

Sometimes I don't even know how it happened. One moment I'm in awe of a little face bundled in hospital blankets and the next she's a gorgeous long legged girl that we're told often looks a lot like her mama.



Last night I put my eight year old to bed. And this morning woke up and another year was gone in a blink.

This girl.

Photo by brooke collier photography

Isabelle has spunk and sass. Just last night she made a sarcastic and witty statement that made me burst out laughing. (Not the complimentary mommy laugh at the made up joke to boost their self-esteem. A real belly laugh because of her quick wit and dry humor.) Don't get me wrong, there are days the sass is just. too. much. (Did I say she's only nine today? Because sometimes it feels more like nineteen...) But I love the bold leader she is becoming; passionate about justice and fiercely loyal to her friends.  

She reads ravenously, loves to ballet dance in the living room, and sings at the top of her lungs. She cooks with her daddy in the kitchen and does her hair next to me each morning while I do my makeup. She teases her brother, loves holding babies, and can't get enough time with her best friend, Jillian. She's perfectionistic and compassionate like her mama and courageous and creative like her Daddy. And watching her fall in love with her Maker is a whole other story; as she glimpses the truths of the gospel, the love of her Savior, and finding her identity as a daughter of the King.


Isabelle is in the awkward in between. No longer a little girl but far from being a woman or even a teenager. Longing for independence but still needing the reassurance of her parents close by. Asking about dangly earrings and lip gloss and still playing with her American Girl Dolls. Which leaves her mama in the awkward in between too. Still wanting to hold her hand in the parking lot but finding myself needing to let go more often. Letting go of control as she learns what it means to make mistakes and grow from them. Letting go of rescuing and letting her figure our relationships. Letting go of my baby as she becomes her own.

Happy Birthday, Bella. I'm proud of the little girl you're leaving behind and the young woman you're becoming.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

adoption story: jimmy and leah

Jimmy and Leah knew from the beginning that they wanted children, and they also knew God was calling them to adoption. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants in late February. While they dove into the home study process, I worked to create their profile. By the end of May, they were home study ready and eager for their profile to be shown to birth families.

They were shown to a handful of birth families and each time, for whatever reason, it wasn't meant to be. But the whole time, God was saving this family for one very special little boy.

Late last month, I sent Leah a possibility. A little boy, two and a half, in need of a family. His birth parents were unable to care for him and were making the difficult and courageous decision to make an adoption plan for him. They wanted him to have a life they couldn't provide for him and desired a family who could provide him with an abundance of love, time, and attention.

And Leah knew. Somehow she knew that he was meant to be in their home. That the love, time, and attention they felt they had were meant for for him.


Her heart was immediately stirred for this little guy in need of a forever family. And amazingly, Jimmy felt the same way.

They heard about this little boy on a Friday. And one week later, they were chosen to be his parents. And days later, they were on a plane to meet him. And just days after that?  


This sweet family of three were on the beach creating new memories together. The first of a lifetime of memories they'll make together...



Thursday, September 11, 2014

congratulations John and Alisha

I’m so glad the wait it over and I can now announce this precious girl’s birth on the blog!


God’s perfect timing shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but somehow it still does.

John and Alisha started with Christian Adoption Consultants last summer. Almost exactly 9 months later, they were matched with an expectant mother. Then, less than two weeks later, their daughter entered the world.


This sweet girl joined two amazing parents and one very proud and doting big sister.


Alisha shared in those days just after the birth, "This entire story has been written so uniquely... God is doing big things here!" 

Congrats, John and Alisha! I love when God's "big things" come in the tiniest packages.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

congratulations Jake and Ashley

Sometimes miracles happen what seem like almost overnight. Jake and Ashley began their adoption journey with Christian Adoption Consultants in May and began their home study process. Due to some unique circumstances and ultimately God's provision, they were matched with an expectant mama in August, before their home study was even complete. And before they knew it, just eight days later, they were in the delivery room when their son was born.


But the reality is, miracles never really happen overnight. God had been preparing these parents long before May for their son to join their family. To open their hearts to adoption. To prepare their home for an unexpected way to grow their family. He was paving the way this whole time for the miracle to unfold.


Jake and Ashley sat poised for the miracle they believed in, hoped for, and trusted God to do.


God took what the world calls a "one in a million" chance to become parents and created a family of three.

God took years of grief and overturned it all in a moment.

God took one couples' "yes" and turned it into a lifetime of memories for a family.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

remembering mattie

Two weeks ago, this brave little warrior met Jesus.


In those hours and days after Mattie passed, I was honored to come along side John and Tracie and invited to share in their grief. Walking with friends through life, especially in these moments, was horrible and beautiful all at once. Although many of these moments were personal and sacred, I can bring you in on the lessons John and Tracie taught me during this time.

Life is precious
Mattie was a miracle. From the moment he was born (and long before), God had tremendous purpose for his life. Born with special needs and needing constant support and care, by the world’s standards Mattie might be seen as a burden. But his family and those closest to him would tell you Mattie was anything but that. Without hesitation we can tell you that Mattie was a gift. His smile was infectious, his joy was contagious, and he spoke hope to those around him without ever using his voice. As Tracie shared at her son’s memorial service, it was clear that this mama knew from the beginning that her son was a miracle, knit together by the hands of God.

Family is to be cherished
The Loux family loves big. The fabric of their family is made of unconditional acceptance, welcoming the least of these, and lots of laughter. John and Tracie have an amazing ability to be intentional and purposeful about knowing each of their children’s hearts and calling each of them to their God-given identity. During the memorial service, I watched as John did this personally for each member of their family. Those were holy moments as he stood behind Mattie’s casket and spoke blessings as a husband and a father. He told each of them he was in it with them, he would wrestle with the hard stuff alongside them, and that he loved them uniquely and individually. You can read more of John’s words here. It's so worth it.


We are made to love and be loved.
Mattie’s older sister-in-law shared at his service that Mattie existed to love and be loved. Amy spoke eloquently of Mattie and the challenge his life brought to all of us to love boldly and accept love from others. Mattie was loved fiercely by his family who took continual joy from his life. And without speaking any words, Mattie could communicate his adoring love for those around him. For years, Mattie needed the help oftracheostomy to breathe. The Loux's claimed "Don't Forget to Breathe" as their mantra while Mattie was with them and fighting for breath. Mattie's sister, Isabelle shared, "All this time we thought we were teaching him how to breathe when really, he was teaching us." For his several short years on earth, Mattie gave us a picture of what true love and living really is. At Mattie's celebration service, pinwheels were everywhere to honor Mattie and the air he's breathing freely now.



Just weeks before Mattie was born and John and Tracie were anticipating him joining their family through adoption, she shared this on Facebook:
I could hold back love until it feels safe, but that’s not the way it works. He loved us before we loved Him, with no guarantee of love returned choosing to walk out the gospel through adoption. I will love now, no strings attached.
I stood with Tracie over her son’s casket and reminded her of these words. John and Tracie loved Mattie in a way that only the gospel can give grace and meaning to.

Words fail as we think of Mattie’s impact on the world around him, the adoption and life movement, and especially those closest to him. Though his heart was sick it was never weak. His life was short but his impact was lasting.

Mattie was little but his life was mighty.

These past days have been a testimony of Mattie’s impact on the world. Tracie told his story through her blog and social media and his life touched so many. People who never met Mattie knew his smile. Those who never had a chance to hold him came to honor him last Wednesday. There were children in wheelchairs, medical professionals who had cared for Mattie, and hundreds of others whose lives had been affected by this little boy who came to celebrate his life. At last count, the Facebook page created to remember him had reached over 52,000 people. If you search the hashtag #selfisundayformattie and you’ll see hundreds of posts to honor Mattie. Tracie started the hashtag encouraging families to capture and cherish the moments they are blessed to share together.

The reality is that Mattie's life was full of difficulty and struggle. I watched as John and Tracie agonized over his health and his care. But in her last note to her son, written on Mattie’s casket, Tracie said she would do it a million times over. Although parts of Mattie's life was filled with ache, it was also filled with immeasurable joy and love that far outweighed everything else.



Loux family, you taught us that all of life is precious, that family is to be honored and cherished, and that we are each made to love and be loved. Thank you for sharing your boy with the world.

We miss you, Mattie Sam. Your life continues to be a miracle.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

enjoy today, mama

It’s been more than insanity around here. Crazy town I call it.

So this week on the blog is catch up week.

In the midst of the chaos, the kids went back to school and I caught my breath again at how fast all of this is going.

Their childhood. Their growing up on me. Their grades and their shoe size.

They keep getting bigger and time keeps passing.


As they ran ahead of me into school when I dropped them off or the first day of second and third grade, I noticed their backpacks weren’t quite as massive on their bodies as I remembered. They looked bigger sitting at their desks. And they were more eager to begin their work and say goodbye.

2011/2014
Walking out of the school, I was reminded of Jen Hatmaker’s thoughts about our children growing up:

You will never have this day with your children again.
Tomorrow, they’ll be a little older than they were today.
This day is a gift.
Breathe and notice.
Smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention.
Relish the charms of the present.
Enjoy today, mama.
It will be over before you know it.


So I breathed deep, tried to etch memories in my mind and heart to hold onto, and looked forward to hearing about the playground, the homework, and the friendships over snacks after school later that day.


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