Thursday, April 30, 2015

Basketball Bash

This is probably the last themed party that happens around our place. As the kids get bigger, I know my time is limited when I can scour Pinterest for cute ideas and pull off pirate parties, pancakes and pajamas, art expo, or book themed birthdays.

So when your boy is turning eight and into sports, a basketball bash is the perfect fit. This one has been the easiest by far. He got a basketball goal as a gift from us this year so we double dipped the gift and party.

I fell in love with these cute invites I found at SIMONEmadeit. Tickets to the party were delivered to classmates and friends.

My mom made this awesome scoreboard that we had printed as an engineer print on the cheap to hang in the dining room and outside. The boys each got a water bottle from the dollar store filled with bubble gum and a little basketball bracelet and bouncy ball.

The menu was simple. Popcorn, pigs in a blanket, mandarin oranges made to look like basketballs, and orange Gatorade. We had the cake specially made at the local grocery store from a pic I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately the dog got to some of the cupcakes before the boys did.

Of course most of the party was filled mostly with the boys playing basketball. Playing a game refed by Jamy, knockout, and even taking turns "dunking" (with the help of a daddy). The boys also loved watching a few videos by the Dunking Devils.

Jackson was in heaven. It was fun to watch him in his element with all his buddies. Now excuse me while I mourn that my baby is eight...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Adoption Story: Jerry and Gayla

Jerry and Gayla have been praying for children for years. Their hearts held a special place for adoption and knew pursuing adoption was the way God called them to grow their family. Last June they started with Christian Adoption Consultants and began their home study. By the end of July their home study and profile was complete. For the next several months, they prayed over possible situations with expectant families and continued to wait on God's timing. But no one anticipated just how their story would unfold. How one night would change everything.

On a Tuesday night in April, they heard about an expectant mom looking for an adoptive family for her son. She was due soon and Jerry and Gayla began reading though the details of the situation and praying through their decision. An update within hours came that this expectant mother was actually in labor and decisions would be made more quickly than they anticipated. Gayla and I talked late that night about presenting their profile to this brave mama and I promised I would be praying with them.

Gayla shares the rest of their story: There were definitely some unknowns and some fears as we looked this situation over and the fact that it was happening right then was so overwhelming! We just didn't know what to do and I almost tremble looking back on it all now how close we came to telling her we just didn't think we could do this. We kept pacing and praying .... For some reason every time we thought about texting [the caseworker] and telling her to count us out we just couldn't quite do it. In the middle of all this I got another text from the caseworker: "He's here! And he's very cute!" I told her we were still praying for direction and also praying for this little boy and his mama. I knelt to pray another time and just pled for direction! Immediately a song came to mind that we used to sing in school and I hadn't thought of in years: 
Bigger than all the shadows that fall across my path, God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see, Bigger than my confusions, bigger than anything, God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see. Bigger than all the giants of fear and unbelief, God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see, Bigger than all my hangups, bigger than anything, God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see.
That was our answer! There were so many questions, fears, confusions, hangups and tears but God was bigger! So at 11:30 that evening we texted the caseworker and told her we were going to throw our "yes" out there and let God choose if it was for us. We went to bed praying for that dear mama with a brand new baby. The next morning we received the call: "Congratulations! You have a son! He's beautiful and he looks just like you guys!" I was speechless and in tears! So I called Jerry and told him we had a little boy and everything went into high gear...

Thursday we flew to meet our son. As soon as our plane landed, we followed our caseworker to the hospital and without any time to think we were headed up to Brianna's room (the birth mother). Her mother was also there and was very supportive of her adoption plan. It was very evident they loved this sweet little boy so much, but they told us more than once that they just knew he would have a better life with us. They also shared that they loved us and so many things about us had been what they were hoping for in parents for this little guy. We spent an incredible time with them there in the hospital room. Then they gave us each one last hug and Jax one last squeeze and they turned and walked out the door. I will never forget all the emotions right then - tremendous relief that she was solid in her decision, but also realizing what an enormous loss she was experiencing! My mind has, the last day or so, turned so often to birth mama and grandma and I just can't help but wonder how they are coping and I wish we could thank them once again, give them another hug, and tell them all is well. Once Brianna was discharged we went right into signing all the papers to complete the adoption and then on the heels of that Jax was discharged and we were free to take him out into the big wide world! And the amazing thing was it had not even been 48 hours since we very first heard about him! He's very sweet and we already cannot imagine life without him. We feel so incredibly blessed and unworthy how everything worked out and went so smoothly for us. It was answers to all the prayers of all our friends and family. There are too many little details and answered prayers to even name them all here but it has been very obvious to us over and over again that truly God was the one writing this story and Jax was always meant to be ours... His dear birth mama and grandma will always hold a special place in our hearts and he will always know how much they loved him. 

Just this week Gayla sent me these sweet words:

So I've been really thinking on this whole adoption experience and as I hear the cry of those still in the wait, my heart truly hurts for them. It seems like there is just nothing to say that really answers the questions when one is in that situation. I heard so many times that when its the right child and the right situation the Lord would work it out. I believed that deep down in my heart because I know that He is truly the only one who can make these things come to pass, but still....when you're waiting and waiting and hearing no after no and the confusion is so dark at times, then it just plain feels like it WILL NEVER HAPPEN FOR US! But it did! And now EVERYTHING makes sense. I wanted to let you know once again how much we appreciate you and everything you have done for us - life is good over here! And this whole experience has strengthened my faith in the great big God we serve and in what He is able to do!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Daddy Daughter Masquerade Ball

For the past few years, I've helped lead putting together Whitefield's Annual Daddy Daughter Dance. If you happen to be a little girl, Pre-K through 8th grade, this is the social event of the year. In the past we've created a hoedown, a sock hop, and a beach ball. This year, I worked with my favorite committee and we put on a Masquerade Ball for Daddies and their daughters, complete with black and white attire with masks, a venue that looked like a castle on a lake, and hundreds of sparkling lights. We've heard it was the best one yet.

It's hard to say what's more enjoyable. Working all year with an amazing crew of other mothers and dear friends and seeing our ideas actually pan out or watching our girls with their daddies dance and giggle and enjoy each other all evening.

There were fires roaring in the fireplaces, the dance floor was always full, and everyone loved the magician we brought in (the girls loved his sub-par magic and the guys loved his sarcastic humor). High schoolers served hors d'oeuvres and sparkling juice on platters and the cream puffs were a favorite. Admittedly at some point during the night, you could find all of the mamas hosting the event on the sidelines of the dance floor weeping together watching our husbands dancing with our babies.

And this year will go down in history. The DJ's that almost didn't arrive, the magician's assistant who was asked to change out of a scary costume, and footage of some fathers and our headmaster dancing to Macarena that I'm sure can be used for blackmail later. And the end of the night has a story all it's own (more on that to come).

As always, I'm incredibly thankful to be a part of a school that works hard and plays hard together. This tribe of people that make up our little school have become like family to us. 

Here's to another night full of memories.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


This week is a personal celebration of sorts for me. This week I'm celebrating 100 babies that I've helped though adoption.

100 families I've walked with on their adoption journey.

100 families who added the joy of a little one.

100 babies who found their forever families.

Each of these faces represent an amazing story of how God worked to bring them home. Of God's perfect timing. Of God's sweet kindness. And of God's crazy miracles. If you ever want to read more of their stories, you can find almost all of them here. Grab a mug of something hot and some kleenex. I promise it will be worth your time.

It's been a joy to walk with each of these families. I've had the privilege to counsel them in hard times, cheer them on when they wanted to give up, cry with them when things were hard, pray with them for God to show up, and celebrate with them when those prayers were answered. I've been in hospital rooms with them, introduced them to their little ones, and spent countless hours encouraging them on the journey. 

Some of these sweet faces I see in church on Sunday mornings. Some of them I see at restaurants or shopping around town. Some I see yearly at "Family Reunions." And others I watch growing up over social media and pray I get to meet and hug them and their parents someday.

My families probably don't know that with each of them, I can remember exactly where I was the moment I had the privilege of telling them they were matched. Having the chance to tell someone they're going to be a mommy or a daddy are memories etched into my mind. When calls like these need to be made, I make them as soon as I'm able. I've been working in my dining room, playing with my kids on the playground, or on my way into the grocery store. My families have been in their office at work, vacationing in the Bahamas or Paris, and on their day to a pro hokey game. There's often astonishment at the other end of the line, laughter, and almost always tears.

I feel incredibly blessed that this is my job. As in, this is how I help put food on the table and send our kids to school and keep the utilities going in our home. But doing this? Having the opportunity to partner with families in kingdom work is truly amazing. 

Today I'm celebrating these 100 amazing little ones (some not so little anymore and many not pictured) and their families. And I'm eagerly anticipating the future and what it will hold working with 100 more...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Adoption Story: Ben and Dee

I had to make a work call on Christmas Eve last year. But admittedly, it was one I didn't mind making at all...

Ben and Dee had started with Christian Adoption Consultants just five weeks before then. The week before Christmas Ben and Dee decided to present to an expectant mother. A young woman looking for a family who could love her son and give him what she couldn't at this point in her life.

On December 23rd, Dee shared with me that she was hoping for a "Christmas Miracle" and hoping to hear they were chosen by this expectant mother. Less than 24 hours later, on Christmas Eve, I called Dee to let her know that they had been chosen. 

They had been chosen to parent this little one.

They had been chosen to be his mommy and daddy.

They had been chosen to be his forever family.

And Dee had her Christmas miracle.

For Christmas, they gave their daughter and extended family members the news that they would be parents for a second time.

Three months later, their son was born. Their miracle baby came home to this crowd at the airport welcoming him home. 

Photo credit Brooke Kelly Photography

Monday, April 13, 2015

Adoption Story: Ryan and Lisa

Ryan and Lisa started with Christian Adoption Consultants last summer. They had already been on the adoption journey for a while and had dealt with one adoption falling through. After this heartbreaking loss, Ryan and Lisa changed course and contacted me.

For six months, Ryan and Lisa heard about possible situations; expectant mothers looking to make adoption plans for their babies. Each one they pored and prayed over, wondering if this was the little one that God had for their family.

It wasn't until February that they heard about an expectant mother, due any day, that it seemed like all was lining up for their family. Thursday night they had a phone call with her and were chosen and on Friday morning, their son was born.

Admittedly the drive to another state to the hospital to meet their son was a long one. Exactly one year before they had made a similar drive, but had come home with empty arms. In God's sovereignty, this time, they wouldn't leave empty handed.

Several days later Ryan sent me this message:

We just want to thank you so much for everything you have done for us. We are so thankful that our prayers have been answered with Davis joining our family. I know we were getting impatient and wondering if this adoption thing would EVER happen for us. You (and everyone else) kept telling us that everything was leading to the baby that He has chosen for us. Everything did lead to Davis being our baby. One of the reasons she chose us was because we had a failed adoption. So, if we had not had that failed adoption then we would probably not have Davis...Lisa and I still look at each other and actually say out actually happened, we adopted a baby!...We feel great about our relationship with the birth family and feel blessed to be chosen by Him to take care of this awesome little boy!! Thanks again for everything!!

I'm so thankful this sweet little boy is in their family. It's amazing how God wrote their story and brought His exact plan after such tremendous loss. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Weekend Update

Time for the obligatory Easter mom blog post with family pictures and Easter baskets. But this year it includes a surgery on Good Friday, gardening, a meal shared with friends, and a soccer game. All the classic and traditional things Easter is made of...

Months after Isabelle's original wrist injury in January, we finally figured out that rather than a broken wrist, she did damage to her tendons that required surgery. So Friday morning we headed to Children's Mercy for an easy wrist repair surgery. (PS - I think when it's your own kiddo "easy," "routine," and "surgery" just don't quite go together no matter how true it is.)

Bella came through like a champ and we laid low all day Friday and Saturday recovering. While the girls watched a 19 Kids and Counting marathon (Michelle Duggar happens to be my mom hero), the boys started planting our garden.

The garden is a whole other story (or blog, or...issue). Jamy has wanted a garden for years. The problem is that neither of us has ever planted anything in our lives. (Actually, once in elementary school for Mother's Day I'm sure I gave my mom a planted geranium but I don't think that counts.) But Jamy was thrilled with the idea of harvesting his own fresh herbs and veggies for salsa. So when he talked about maybe putting a garden in our backyard last year we also paired that with the reality of needing to be good at things like weeding and watering and decided against it. Commitment to dirt in our yard with seeds just wasn't a high priority.  Enter buying a house complete with raised garden beds and scarecrow and now we have to be committed. So Jamy spent a good part of Saturday spending crazy amounts of money and time on seeds and seedlings we're praying someday turn into actual food...

Sunday was filled with church, scavenger hunts for Easter baskets, and an amazing lunch with our dearest friends. And then our crew went to our first Sporting KC game (Kansas City's pro soccer team). I honestly didn't know we were stepping into a stadium with it's own culture. The night was filled with singing, chanting, fireworks, confetti, and lots of screaming. It was the best professional game I've ever been to (and I know nothing about soccer).

Admittedly this Lenten season has been way more fast-paced and filled with busyness than usual. But this weekend and especially Easter was an incredible reminder of God breaking in to our brokenness to free us from everything. Instead of our weekend filled with quietness and reflection, it was filled with the hospital, chores outside, and time spent with each other: the stuff life is often made of. I'm thankful God met us there too.

Friday, April 3, 2015

It's Friday

Easter this year holds some new meaning for us. This time last year, Jamy was still gone. Easter Sunday was literally the first day we had all been together as a family since before Thanksgiving the year before.

I remember sitting in that reality on Good Friday a year ago today. God had just begun moving in huge ways. But there was still tremendous work to do. Unsure of the future, weary of the journey, and ready for God to do a miracle. the reality of Good Friday resonated with me in a new way. I needed Sunday to come in the most desperate way. 

And if we're honest, we've all been in that space. When we need hope like we need air to breath. When we need God to step in and heal the brokenness. When we need God to literally bring dead things to life.

It's the best worst day. Good Friday promises that God sent a Savior to step into our brokenness to redeem and rescue us.

When hope is lost.

When you are defeated.

When death wins.

God promises Sunday's comin'.

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