Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sunny Days

We hit the four week mark today of having Miss M in our home.  I'm not sure if M has learned anything, but I have to say God has used this experience to humble me down to the ground.  Maybe I needed a lot of humbling or something, because God has taught me so many lessons the last month and I have pretty much realized that I am weak and human and have nothing to offer on my own.  When even an ounce of pride sneaks up, God is swift to remind me of my humanity and sinfulness.  I don't love perfectly.  I lose my temper sometimes.  I doubt God and have anxiety attacks and fear.  I am reminded of how weak my body is by this pregnancy.  I get stomach bugs.  I need the gospel daily.  The gospel is not just for lost people. 

Whew.  It kind of feels good though... to feel like I'm learning and remembering how much I need God.  And today I was reminded of how it's not even about me or my sanctification.  It's about redemption and declaring the gospel.  I am thankful that God still chooses to use us despite our weak, sinful natures.  I am really a useless vessel that can only be used or have something to offer when Christ is in me.  God is so gracious.

So, we had a shower for my little sis this past weekend.  She raked in tons of good stuff and little baby "E" is going to be set :)  I am so excited that Lyla will have 3 girl cousins that are the same age.  I'm sure we have lots of giggles, and tears, and drama headed our way!  Here is a picture I love of our bellies from the shower.

Ariel 35 wks, Amber 32 wks

Three sisters who will have three daughters the same age :)

We are also moving Emerson to a big boy bed this weekend, so I will keep you posted on how that goes.  Emerson has been a sleepyhead lately, sleeping until past 7 every morning and taking 2.5-3 hour naps every afternoon.  I am convinced it is a grace of God who knows I need rest.. lol.  I will try to do a post on Emerson soon, including a video of him singing if he lets me catch a good one, because this is one of his adorable new pastimes. 

This sunny day makes me have the itch for spring.  I am thinking I need to take down my remaining winter decorations since it feels like spring outside.  Oh, and next weekend, Caleb and I have a "weekend away" even though we are staying in Fayetteville for it.  Caleb's mom is going to watch the kids while we stay in a hotel and eat out and go to the movies, etc.  Feeling like I deserve a break makes it that much sweeter! 

Friday, January 25, 2013


Friends, we have survived three weeks with "miss M".  I am going to try to not make this whole post about foster care since that's all I've written about lately.  It's harder to find time to blog with 2, because now my free moments are spent packing lunches, or resting, or in prayer, because I've learned I cannot do this on my own! 

We have mostly really great days.  Days where we just feel like a family and have fun and can see how rewarding foster care is, or can see progress in miss M's life.  And then we have some rough days.  Days where miss M is up a lot in the night and I can't fall back asleep, so after lying awake 2 hours I just cry in bed and Caleb pats my back.  I've had one or two nights where I feel like I am having an anxiety attack in bed, feeling overwhelmed and overcome with stress and fear.  Fear about whether this will get better before Lyla comes.  Can I really handle two sleepless children?  I don't handle lack of sleep well. 

So, I came to a conclusion.  I cannot do this on my own.  I need God to give me strength.  And also, I realized that foster care (and motherhood in general) is very, very sanctifying.  I am reminded of my weakness and sinfulness and need of a Savior.  Being refined is not fun.  My sin being brought to the surface before my face is hard.  Trying to grow in those areas and not give in to my anger or fear or doubt is hard.  But it's worth it, right?  That's what I keep telling myself.  This trying experience will sanctify me and make me more like Christ, I hope.  I imagine I will be much slower to anger 10 years from now than I am now.  Hopefully my faith will be stronger too and I won't doubt God's sovereignty and goodwill for my life.  Each day I need God's help.  We don't doubt this is God's will for us right now.  Yes, I know it affects Emerson.  But I trust that God will accomplish his purposes through this experience in Emerson's heart and life.  My biggest praise right now has been how well Emerson has done with it.  God is good. 

In other news, I will be 32 weeks pregnant on Sunday.  I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I admit this pregnancy has been harder than the last and it has been difficult for me to have a good attitude at times.  I'm starting to think she is going to be a big girl... The next 8 weeks couldn't go fast enough :)  At the same time, I know it will be an adjustment to have a newborn again once she comes.  I am sad to give up naptime, which is sacred to me.  It keeps me sane.  God was faithful to give me the energy and joy I needed when Emerson was an infant, so I trust He will do it again. 

Our near future holds a Razorback game, a baby "sprinkle", friends visiting, a 2nd birthday party for Emerson, Easter, Lyla, et cetera. So I will try to update regularly.   Thanks for reading friends.  Sorry if this post sounded a little negative.. I just want to document what I'm really feeling and experiencing at this point in our journey.  I must say we do have a lot of good and just a little bad sometimes.  Overall, we have had a good experience doing foster care and feel blessed that God wants to use fallen parents like us to care for the fatherless.  Have a blessed weekend!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Foster Care, 10 Days In

Let me just start by saying that we got attached a lot faster than we thought we would!  God has definitely heard our prayer to help us love her like our own.  We have reached a "new normal" I believe.  And ten days in, we already catch ourselves thinking about what adoption would be like, even though the goal for the case is still reunification with mom.  Now I pray that we will trust God's Sovereign hand in accomplishing his purpose for this one's life.  I need to trust Him and not what I think is best.

Even Emerson cried for her the other day when we dropped her off for her visit.  And before his nap yesterday, he gave her a giant hug resting his head on her shoulder.  Lord help us when she goes back home.  Emerson will definitely miss having another kid around to play with.  And she tolerates him pretty well too :)

The encouraging moment of the week was when we were reading to her from the Jesus Storybook Bible and she recognized the next story, which was about Abraham's "sacrifice" of Isaac, not the most well-known Bible story for kids in my opinion.  Apparently, someone along the way has taught her some Bible stories and she retained them better than that person thought she would, I'm sure.  Even if she is only here for 5 months, this is an opportunity to lay a foundation of the gospel.  How encouraging to know that even a 6 year old is soaking up so much of what we teach, even if we think it's going in one ear and out the other. 

Yes, we've had some rough moments, battling hair, homework, or immediate obedience, but most struggles have been common 6 year old struggles.   I do feel like God has been gracious to us with our first experience as foster parents.  I do think it is a refining and sanctifying experience and is rough at times.  He makes me new.  But I have felt like God has been guiding our steps and has given us hope at the end of each day.  Several passages of scripture have re-surfaced and encouraged me over the last ten days.  And I must say that my husband has been phenomenal.  He does great with her, of course, but he has been wonderful at picking up on my cues when I am stressed or need a break, too.  He allows me a break when needed and is just such a loving, serving man.  I am so thankful we are in this together.  And I feel like God has been gracious in that I have joy each morning... my heart feels full.  Joy in the morning and hope at night.  I pray it continues. 

 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.   2 Corinthians 5:14-15  

I pray the Lord would let me be compelled by love to no longer live for myself but for Him.  And to not think any of this is about me or what I want, but about making Him known, even if my will doesn't happen.  Thanks for reading friends. Your prayers are still coveted :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Foster Care Update

I am giving a "brief" foster care update, because you poor friends text me ask how it's going and if I don't respond immediately, then I don't respond at all... Oops!  I will try to give you an update without too many details.

So far, things are going as well as we could hope!  The little girl we have is chipper and fairly happy go lucky most of the time.  She and Emerson get along great (praise the Lord!) and we have all adjusted pretty smoothly so far.  I know there is a "honeymoon period" though, so hopefully things will continue to go smoothly as time passes.  I do have to say that there have already been several instances where I felt like God was with me helping me and I just felt his grace and compassion as this is a stretching experience.  Your prayers have definitely been felt. 

I am definitely glad we took a  grade school kid so I could still have one-on-one time with Emerson during the day, because my attention is definitely divided when both kids are home.  Emerson has been a champ though and I think he actually likes when she is here.  He has taken on the "pesky younger brother role" very quickly to our surprise!

I tried to learn to do cornrows the other day, which ended up being the hardest day we've had since she's been here.  There were tears from both of us.  But we survived.  However, it probably needs to be braided every 1-2 weeks and I am NOT proficient.  And it is a battle to do it.  I dread when it needs to be done again. 

She has a visit with her mom today and I've heard foster kids can have really bad days on visit days.  This morning wasn't awful, it was just a little bit like pulling teeth to get her to get ready.  I keep praying for her while she's at school today that she can stay focused and behave well even though she probably has other things on her mind.  She seemed to have mixed feelings about visits this morning.  How sad it is for a young child to only see her mother 1-2 hours a week.  It's just not natural, not how God designed it. 

Our prayer is also that we can love her like we love our biological kids.  Even if she is only here a short time, it will be most beneficial to her if we love her that way.  Here are some encouraging verses I've been praying the last few weeks:

"But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us."   1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

"For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory."   1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

If you want here are a few things you can pray for: 
1.  That things will continue to go smoothly, that God will give us wisdom in parenting her, even right as issues arise, and also that she will continue to be receptive to our discipline and authority.
2.  That God will continue helping us to love her rightly and see her through his eyes.  That she will see His love through us.
3.  That God's will will be done for this case and that she can know how to sort through all her mixed feelings that no 6 year old should ever have to experience. 
4.  That our pregnancy will continue to go smoothly and there will not be too much added stress or exhaustion that negatively affects it.  That I carry Lyla full term and she is healthy and that we don't feel stretched too thin with having 3 kids. 

Thanks so so much friends!! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Merry Little Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas break this year and enjoyed time with both sides of the family.  Emerson is at such a fun age and I loved seeing Christmas through his eyes.  I don't regret how our Christmas focus turned out, trying to focus on Jesus' birthday, yet enjoying cultural traditions as well.

Christmas day was spent at my parents' house and it is a family with an increasing amount of cousins.  This year there were 3 cousins (plus my 3 younger siblings) and next year we will add two more!  Christmas with little ones is so much fun :)  Santa visited on Christmas eve and Emerson was a little more interactive with him. 


Emerson had the worst bedhead of his life on Christmas morning.

Enjoying his big present from us/Santa.
Even though we only gave Emerson 3 Christmas presents, he somehow still seemed to rake in the gifts.  So he has spent this week going from one present to another entertaining himself.  Somehow I don't have any pictures with my sweet niece, Callie, but I was basically the baby whisperer with her because she fell asleep in my arms like three times.  I just hope I have the same magic touch with Lyla :)   Or maybe Callie can teach Lyla her mad sleeping skills.

I don't have any pictures from our Christmas in KC because I need to get them from my father-in-law.  But we had a great time there and enjoyed time with our sweet niece Nolah, who is 6 months now and growing and learning so much.  Maybe I will post some of those pictures once I get them soon. 

We welcomed the New Year via sleep, though we do look forward to one day staying up until midnight again.  Maybe once we are empty nesters.  We are excited about 2013 and pray that God will be glorified in our hearts and minds and through our lives.  We didn't set very specific resolutions, but I guess have some sort of vision of how we want to live and grow this year.  Happy New Year, friends! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Name for Little Miss

I am 28 weeks pregnant now (hello third trimester!) and we have decided upon a name for little miss.  Drum roll please... She will be named Lyla Brooke.  We have liked Lyla for awhile now and it has remained at the top of the list for months, while other names moved up and down depending on the day.  The meaning is: one born at night, or resembling a lily.  Brooke is my middle name :)

In other pregnancy news, I had an appointment this morning and all is well.  I measure normally and the heart rate is good (about 148 bpm).  She was head down at our appointment today, which I was happy about.  I admit that this pregnancy is less comfortable and easy as the last one.  I feel huge and cannot believe I have 3 months left, but according to my doctor today my weight gain is about the same as the last pregnancy.  Basically, I have to push through it and be thankful that Lyla is healthy.

I feel her move several times a day.  She was crazy active during the second trimester, but I think she is either calming down or getting more squished in there, because her movements have not been quite so violent.  Emerson loves baby sissy "Wiwah" and gives her kisses and hugs and talks to her and is basically really sweet to her.  I hope and believe he will always be this kind of big brother. 

After being around my two nieces over Christmas, I am very excited to have a sweet baby girl and am also getting more excited to have two kids.  I just feel very blessed. 

In foster care news, we  are taking a placement tomorrow.   This will probably be a long term placement.  I don't think I can share very much except that she is a 7 year old girl.  Please say a prayer for us as I still get nervous when we get placements (we've had 2 short term so far).  Pray that we all adjust to one another well and that Caleb and I will have wisdom in parenting her and that we will see her through God's eyes and love her like He does.  Pray that His name will be glorified in our lives and in her life.  I appreciate it, friends.