Saturday, February 27, 2016

Adoption Story: Bryan and Lindsay

The road to their daughter was an unanticipated hard one. Bryan and Lindsay had two boys and felt like a little girl would complete their family. During their time with Christian Adoption Consultants, they only presented to a handful of situations that felt right. Hope was dwindling as they went to renew their home study and their hearts changed from, "we assume this will happen" to "this will open happen by God's grace." 

But hearts grew weary. Time wore on. And one Monday night they were ready to text me that they were giving up hope that it would ever happen for them. But always, always they had just enough hope that when they heard God's call to adopt, they heard right. And if they heard right, they knew He would be faithful to complete their family. They just didn't know when.

Tuesday, the very day after they had that text ready to send to me, I called them about an expectant mother looking for a family. She was anticipating delivering her baby that Friday via schedule c-section. And she was having a girl.

On Wednesday a birth mother states away viewed their profile that told their story. They were able to talk with her on the phone that night. And on Thursday they were on a plane to meet her face to face and be there in time for the birth.

Monday they almost gave up on adoption. And Friday they added a daughter to their family.

Within days God brought to pass all they had been dreaming and hoping and praying for. After all of the months waiting, in a whirlwind of a week a family of four became a family of five. And looking back over their journey, Bryan and Lindsay can confidently say God knew what he was doing all along bringing this beautiful girl into their family.

Photo credit Laura Case

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Adoption Story: Jared and Jeanna

When we had our photographer take pictures we knew that we wanted one of Elaina on a suitcase to represent the journey we have taken to bring her into our family.  It is actually Jared's suitcase from when he was little, which makes it even more special (his name is on it if you look closely by the handle).  

Jared and Jeanna started with Christian Adoption Consultants last March. They were home study ready in June and within just a few weeks were presented to an expectant mom. That's where their story took a bit of a unique turn. She decided on another adoptive family, but her friend, also considering adoption, thought Jared and Jeanna were exactly the kind of parents she was looking for to raise her daughter. As the story unfolded, it turns out God knew all along how this little girl would come to be theirs. 

Jared and I both feel that God truly played out our adoption from how unique our match situation was to guiding us through the process.  Just when we would start to fear something could go wrong or even when we got the news that there was a medical condition with Elaina's heart and they wouldn't know specifics until she was born, God would show us that he was in control.  We would simply say, "Let it go and let God." 

From the beginning Jared and I felt blessed as we didn't have the typical wait like a lot of couples do. We presented to one expectant mom and it turns out...she didn't choose us but her friend "A", who was considering adopting did! We will never forget the phone call in June from Susan saying she had a unique situation for us. We were excited but at the same time fearful that it would be a situation we couldn't handle. We always said we did not want a long match but this little girl would not be born until November. There was a reason for that long match as we got to visit with the birth mom weekly and built a beautiful relationship with her that we now cherish. Thanksgiving was a true blessing this year as we held our daughter in our hands and thanked God for the beautiful journey he took us on to put her there.  As it turns out from the month we signed with Christian Adoption Consultants and Susan to when Elaina was born it was 9 months, exactly. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Adoption and a Valentine's Surprise

Cody and Breanna recently began their adoption journey and I've loved walking with them. Just yesterday I was on the phone with Breanna and we were both in near tears thinking about God's goodness in allowing families to partner with him to extend His love through adoption to both babies and their mamas.

This week on their blog, Cody shared his search for the perfect Valentine's gift for Breanna, their adoption, and how God surprised him with his amazing provision and care. I'm excited for them to share their story here as well...

...We have shared the story that began us down the road to adoption. We have shared information about the process of adoption. We have shared ways to partner with us through buying shirts, prayer, direct donations and other support that will help us move closer to bringing home a baby.

Today, I (Cody) am happy to share a moment that will forever be a fond memory of mine. A story that would not have happened if we had not accepted the call to adopt. A story…well…you just have to hear.

Cue flashback.

Two weeks ago I saw this image on my wife’s newsfeed:

It clearly caught her eye, but we are saving money. She looked, smiled, and scrolled on. I don’t know what she saw when these bracelets crossed her screen, but I know what I saw.

I saw a cuff with an arrow and heart on it. Where others may think Cupid, all I could think was Psalm 127:4, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” I thought about the arrow God was already shaping for us, but is not yet ours. The arrow God would bring us in His timing. The arrow that has already stolen our hearts and we haven’t even met yet. I thought about my bride being able to look at her wrist and be reminded God was shaping this arrow and would be faithful to bring it to us.

I thought…Valentine’s Gift!

We have been saving every penny, but I still had hoped to surprise Breanna with a little gift. This would be perfect. Especially if I could just buy one part of the stack. So I called first to see if they would sell just one part of this stack. I talked to a super sweet person who informed me they don’t, you have to purchase the whole stack.

But don’t worry, it gets worse.

She then proceeded to tell me they were sold out. That if she had one she would sell me hers, but she didn’t even get one. She recommended I try a store and then we hung up.

Bummer. But…it gets worse.

The next day I thought I’d swing by a Rustic Cuff store to find out if they had one and find out how much it cost. For those familiar with Rustic Cuff, you are now laughing because you don’t “swing by” Rustic Cuff stores. You carve out an hour to wait outside in a line to get into a store and then you don’t leave empty handed because you actually got in! After driving by the old location to find out that place was closed, I headed to another location close to a meeting I had downtown. I stood outside in line for 20 minutes before I had to give up. I had a meeting to get to, so I left without even gracing the door. But this would be the perfect gift…so I wouldn’t give up.

It gets worse.

The next day I decided to arrive at a store when it opened. So 5 minutes before it opened I pulled in to see 50 people waiting for the doors to open. Again, I couldn’t afford to wait that long. So I drove away. Decided I would go back to Cherry Street and see if I could get in and get this perfect valentines gift.

On the way I am getting real with God. “This isn’t how this is supposed to go!” I tell Him. I had it all planned and just knew it would be perfect. Doesn’t God want me to make my wife smile with a gift that reminds us of Him? Shouldn’t it be easy to buy a bracelet? It’s not like we are asking for a kid! That’s a different prayer…this one should be no big deal. I was frustrated. My timing, my gift, my plan…all falling through. And my expectations of my next stop were minuscule to say the least. 

So I arrive and I get in the door just before the security guard starts making people wait outside. WIN!

I bob and weave through shoppers looking for the cuff. Man on a mission. A mission that seemed to be failing. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Confused I headed to the front desk to ask for help when I spotted it. That perfect gift to remind us of God’s timing and provision. And it was in a box marked “Display Only”. So inserting the question to the worker between other customers, I asked where those cuffs were. Her answer, “Online only."

It gets worse.

I pull up their website thinking no big deal. Except I was quickly reminded it was SOLD OUT! And I saw the price for the first time. Both things disheartening. But I was hopeful…and perhaps now entering that mindset of a “I am man and refuse to go down without a fight because I want my girl to swoon.”

So I did the only thing I could do. I asked the woman if I could buy the display. She frowned and told me they couldn’t sell those, but said she would ask just in case they could make an exception. I then watched her walk over to the woman in charge of this store to get confirmation. I saw the woman’s head shake no, make eye contact with me, and then go back to work.

Mission. Failed.

As the original lady came back to inform me they couldn’t do it, the other woman startled us by stepping in and said, “Let me ask the woman in charge. We aren’t supposed to sell these, but I don’t know. Maybe she will let us.”

It gets better.

I stood on the wall and prayed. How ridiculous! I am asking God to let me buy a bracelet. But at the moment, it was bigger than a bracelet. IT was about God caring for the little things like Breanna’s smile and a reminder to have on her wrist that our arrow is coming. I just knew the beauty in the meaning of  this bracelet and wanted to share that with my bride. So I prayed for favor. For a gift. For a surprise. And I got one.

She came back and said I could buy it! The owner of the company told her if she “deemed me worthy” then I could have it. She told me “For whatever reason I just looked at you and thought…he needs this.”

It gets better.

I had hand her the cash I had been setting aside since Christmas. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. And overwhelmed with the conviction to share why this mattered so much. To let these ladies know they were now part of a story much bigger than a cuff. I asked if I could share with her why this was such a big deal to me. I told her why the cuff caught my eye. The crazy journey to end up in this room. The meaning associated with that arrow. And I was stopped mid-sentence.

The woman put the cash I had given her back in my hand.

She said she would not take my money.

It gets better.

She went on to tell me her husband was adopted. That if his mother had not chosen life, she would not have her family. If he had not had someone to adopt him, she would not have him. She said she would be praying for us every step of the way and said, “God is going to give you that baby.”

And then the first woman I had spoken to leaned over to inform me every one of her nieces and nephews are adopted. She affirmed the beauty of adoption and how thankful she is that it happens.

And there I stood.

With my plans and my timing and my frustrations and my money all in my pocket because God had a better plan. Not only did I walk away with money I had saved for a gift that would now go into the adoption fund, I walked away having seen our adoption support family grow by a store full of people who witnessed God’s provision and timing. I walked away reaffirmed that the God who takes us through crazy frustrating times so we can get a free gift would also deliver to us a child He has already set aside for us. My God is faithful in little…and will be faithful in much. And somewhat like the Grinch, it was not my heart, but my faith that grew that day.

One day we will go (and wait in line) and walk inside that store to introduce a precious baby to a room full of women who prayed for that child. And for all the waiting, and questioning, and praying, and “it gets worse” struggles of doing what we know God has called us to do...we will be able to hold a child, surrounded by a community of friends and family and tell that precious baby, “it gets better."

- Cody 

To hear more of Cody and Breanna's journey, you can follow their blog, Baby Brumley #3. Maybe if you follow along you'll read about they day they walk back into that store with baby #3...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adoption Story: Daniel and Andrea

It would be easy to think that Daniel and Andrea had all the cards stacked against them. With Andrea's Cystic Fibrosis and moving often in their young marriage because of Daniel's job in the Air Force, this couple was used to facing challenges. After several years of struggling with infertility, Daniel and Andrea knew that adoption was how God wanted to grow their family. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants and continued to pray that God would be faithful to their little family like He always had been in the past. And that's when the miracles started happening. It would be just six months later that their daughter would be in their arms. I'll let Andrea tell you their amazing story...

I can't believe that I'm sitting here writing out our adoption story. It's so surreal! All those months of reading everyone else's stories and seeing their pictures...I started to feel like it may never be us. I'll start at the beginning of me and my husband Daniel's love story. We met as teens at youth group and were friends for many years, keeping in contact through each of us moving across the country from each other. I honestly never thought we'd see each other again, but that's the beauty in God's pre-written stories for our lives. We rarely see the outcome coming until it hits! We got married at 22 with so many hopes and dreams for our future together. Our first few years of marriage were difficult due to the Air Force moving us 5 times in 3 years, all the while hoping and praying for a miracle baby from God

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis and it was a miracle for me just to live past my teens, let alone been able to get married and try for a child. I have almost died 3 times in my life, but always knew God must have had plans for me to still be here! After 3 years of trying and no success, we sought out a fertility doctor and started the monotonous testing and procedures. Physically and emotionally it took such a toll on my body, but I kept praying to have the chance to be a Mama. Sometimes the hardest things to understand in life is why things don't go according to OUR desires. I desired a biological child. So did my husband, because in his own words "if something ever happens to you, I want a piece of you left on this earth." After 3 rounds of IUI's we finally got to see what so many take for granted: those 2 pink lines! Words cannot explain our happiness that after years of prayers and hard work, it had paid off! But not long into the pregnancy, I miscarried two days before my husband was to deploy for 3 months. Those 3 months apart were the hardest months of my life! Not only were we grieving our loss, but we were having to grieve it alone. 

A few weeks into his deployment, we decided God had shut the door for conceiving biologically and adoption was where God was leading us. TWO DAYS after Daniel posted our GoFundMe page, I had a friend contact me because her husband is a local artist in my home town and he just so happened to want to do a fundraiser for an adopting couple! In that moment, after feeling like we were swimming against the stream for so many years, I finally felt at peace that we were exactly where God wanted us. The fundraiser went great! It's amazing to feel love and support from not only friends and family, but strangers! We were home study approved in June and as the months went by, I tried to stay as busy as I could, but I felt myself getting discouraged. We presented to 11 birth mom's, and each "no" hurt worse than the pone before. 

From day one of our adoption process I prayed 3 things: 1) please Lord cover our baby with protection and healing 2) Let us have our baby by Christmas (it was when I was due with our baby) and 3) once we are matched, no back outs. Let me tell you, God not only answered one of those, he answered all 3. The first week of November we got a situation of a birth mom due in a few weeks. I know this may sound silly, but after we prayed over it and decided while there were some definite risks, we would present, this one felt COMPLETELY different than all the previous 10 we presented to. I felt this instant connection to this child and I went into our nursery, got on my knees, grabbed the crib and started begging God that this one be it. I prayed so fervently for days just repeating myself over and over to God, giving him my fears and asking him to wrap this child in his arms and keep her safe. The day before our 4 year anniversary I got the call! I was in shock that I heard the word "yes" finally! We did a conference call with the birth mom and planned to meet for lunch the next week. 

God truly opened my eyes to the fact that each one of these birth mom’s are his children too. Most of them are in bad positions in life, hurting and going through things we can’t even fathom. It’s so easy to judge and think it selfish of a woman who would do drugs/drink/smoke during pregnancy, but it takes a selfless person to know their baby deserves a better life than what they can provide and to choose to give that child to someone else to raise. God taught me so much through all of this, but mostly he taught me that maybe through adoption, we can reach people we never would have had to opportunity to reach otherwise. Like our child’s birth mom for instance. The first time that we spoke to her on the phone, she started crying and that made it seem so much more real. She was a real person who was hurting. I pray every day for God to show me how to be loving and caring to her the way that Christ would be.

When we started this, I was so opposed to having an open adoption. In fact, a few times that is one thing that kept me from wanting to present. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. But I felt God changing my heart as time went on and I realized that we aren’t supposed to be comfortable in life, God calls us to be uncomfortable. Most of us want a life that we can have total control over and a life that doesn’t involve suffering, but if we have that, when would we run and seek out God? Romans 8:28 says “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to his purpose.” But “all things” doesn’t just refer to happy days. They include the tough and lonely ones, the ones full of big questions. 

The morning we were supposed to meet for lunch we got a call that she was in labor and we rushed to the hospital to meet our miracle! When we got there, the social worker met up with us as we waited in the waiting room to go meet our daughter. She asked "So, have you picked a name yet?" I replied "yes, but does she have a name she likes?" I'll never forget the response: "Yes, she likes the name Ava." I started bawling, overwhelmed with the sense that God cared enough to give me a sign of just how planned this all was! Ava was the name we had chosen months before if we were blessed with a daughter. I had asked God from day one of starting the adoption process for a sign that this is what he wanted for us. There was my sign! He orchestrated every single perfectly messy detail to get us to this exact moment. He's a good, good father! We walked into the birth mom's room and saw our Ava for the first time. It was the most emotionally raw moment of our lives! Holding this teeny 5 pound 2 ounce beautiful baby girl made every tear shed, every "why God?" every lonely sleepless night so worth it. I feel that God used these last few years to mold us into who he needed us to be.

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!

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