Friday, November 30, 2012

Here We Go


We got a call last week, the same day we caught wind that our license was back, for a respite (meaning he will only be with us for a short time) placement this weekend. And we said, "Uh, sure!"

We haven't even been matched with our Foster Care Worker yet, so this was unexpected. But like I've mentioned before, we have an amazing Case Worker who has walked with us through this, and she has assured us that she will be on the lookout for placements for us till we get matched. Does this all sound like a different language? I'm sorry, stay with me, friends :).

So today, 4yr old "A" will join our crew for a bit. I wish I give you every little detail, it's SO hard for me not to, but I can't. Just do me a favor and go squeeze your babies, because there is a whole lot of ugly going on out there and innocent children are stuck in the middle of it.

Grace, friends. It's all grace that we have the healthy families we do. I will never be able to say that enough.

Someday (soon) we will get that call for a "permanent" placement, but today and for the few days ahead, God is needing us to love on this little guy. And believe me, spoiling from the older sisters flows like wine in this house, so I think he will like it here :).

We would love your prayers as we walk through this first placement with the kiddos. Ideally, I'd love a smooth and easy transition into this journey, especially for the kids.

But just like motherhood in general, I don't think much of this journey is going to be real easy :).

It's one thing to say "we'll take all kids ages 0-5", it's a whole other thing to actually sit and listen to your caseworker tell you what that child is coming from, and what you'll be dealing with. It's hard for me to swallow because he knows what is happening, and he remembers what happened. The mother in me just wants to step in, scoop him up, and move him in. But I can't.

Deep breath in, long exhale out, right?

Again, go squeeze your kids...and your man. It's all grace.

So, here we go. We're going to get our feet wet in this whole journey He has laid out before us. We are ready, and we are super excited to embrace this little guy for the short time God has him with us.

Thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Many Do You Have?

How many do you want?

How many before you finally lock yourself and a bag of chocolate in your bedroom just to get some peace & quiet?? Oh, you don't do that? Yea, me neither.

Lately I have been peeking back at old posts from back in the day. I keep reading how I really thought we were done having children after Kinley and Raya. Oh how my plans are not His great plans...

Seriously, sometimes I look at him and still can't believe He gave us a boy :).

For real. I am in love with our crew, and am so thankful for the 6+ little loves to share this life with. It is incredible, it's rewarding, and it's a privilege. It's also totally exhausting, and draining, and humbling. And I'm pretty sure that the twitching in my right eye is from the craziness of the children.

But anyway.

I have always been a baby person, I just love them. Every time I pick up a newborn I think my ovaries fire off 100 eggs. I can't help it. It's involuntary, people.

And now, my heart is so pulled towards fostering and adoption - God is always changing things for His purpose. We have put bunk beds and an extra crib up, and we are clearing room for more. I never thought we'd have a family this size. NEVER. But here we are, getting ready for...well, anything.

On a sidenote, I think there should be a book called "What To Expect When You're Expecting The Unexpected". It can be the 2nd book of the series, yes?

So anyway, I'm just curious since I love hearing about other families. I would love to know if anyone is willing to share...
How many kids do you have?
Boys? Girls? Multiples?
Foster Care? Adoption?
How many do you want?

Is this to many questions? Sorry :).

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Official!

We had a fun Thanksgiving weekend. We put the tree up, and filled the house with Christmas decor and cinnamon candles...and got a great call from our case worker.

This is a picture of Kinley from last year by the tree (a tree that had clearly been vandalized by the children), it still cracks me up...

Because what is funnier than crazy curls and underwear in front of the Christmas tree?? :)

But anyway.

I'm so grateful for these people in my home...I just love long weekends and simple days with them. And we are soaking up our normal life before our new normal starts to take over, which could be any day now because we got our license back from the state!! We are officially Foster (to Adopt) Parents!

Woohoo! We made it! High fives all around!

He has been so faithful to us through this process, and kept confirming our steps even in the face of doubt. We are so, so thankful for His plan. We are excited, and nervous, and about 100 other emotions. We spent a lot of time talking about it with the older kids this weekend...they have so many questions now that we could take a child at any time.

For some reason it all seems so REAL now.

So we are preparing for the unknown, but trusting an all knowing God. And that gives me so much comfort and peace about the future. And by "future" I mean "near future" :).

We'd love any prayers as our family makes this transition to being on call at any moment, and as we (blindly)  prepare for what is to come.

Anyway, that's what we've been up to. Hope you all had such a great Thanksgiving weekend!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Of Him

I've never been one to jump in front of the camera. Especially as the years pass, and the babies come, and things change.

Besides, the odds of me having a baby on both hips, or yelling at a child who's giving bunny ears, or even sporting some throw-up down the back of my shirt are high. So yea, I don't come running when someone pulls out a camera.

Which is ironic, you know, since I'm a photographer.

But A few weeks back I decided to embark on some family pictures. Afterwards, I laughed on the phone with a friend as I looked at my editing software and said, "but my hair looks flat...and I don't love that sweater...and are those wrinkles by my eyes?? DO I HAVE CROWS FEET!?"

We giggled and cackled like girlfriends do. It's mostly jokes, but we all know those come from deep inside where our insecurities hide and our pride tries to cover them up. It comes from the fact that image is SO important to the world these days and perfect pictures are a must on every social networking site.

I have those bad self image moments like all women have...more than I'd like to admit or talk about, actually. Times when I pick at the woman He made me to be and I decide that I'm not good enough. I think I unknowingly take in a lot more of the world than I realize, and before I know it, I have expectations and doubts and views of myself that really aren't of Him.

So anyway, Ella came up to the table while I was playing with our pictures and said, "Oh my goodness! Mom, I love this picture of just you and I! Can I hang it in my room??"

And my heart melted.

My worldly concerns were busted by the spirit of a child who sees love instead of imperfections. Her face literally lit up when she saw it. I was reminded that she will try to build a positive self image while she watches me live out mine. I have to step up to the plate, it's one thing to tell her about true beauty, but it's another thing to live it out.

Because these little kids don't care how much I ran this week, or if my hair is curled, or even if I've showered. All they care about is that I'm here with them, even if I'm in my favorite sweatpants.

God always gets me in those moments...He uses these kiddos in my life to speak truth all the time.

I started to realize, that picture is more than just me and my oldest babe. It's bigger than my insignificant  insecurities and more important than my doubts. It's our life right now in this very moment.

It's me in this ever changing season of motherhood whether I like what I see or not.

In that picture is my families next generation and even generations of women that came before us who make us who we are.

There's the way my silhouette looks like my mom when I turn my head, and how my eyes are dark just like my Grandma Baker. There is the way Ella's features resemble mine when I was little and how our hair is the same exact texture. There are a million other teeny things in that picture that make up our history and our past...our makeup.

There is beauty.

And I'm not talking about outward appearance, but about the love that I know I felt in that moment when she belly laughed and showed those imperfect 3rd grade teeth. And the image of her safe and nestled right into her mama's arms, and how I felt like I wanted to sit there for hours and listen to everything happening in Ella's world.

There is grace in that picture. And there is so much to be thankful for.

A reminder of where I came from, and how myself nor anyone who knew me in my early years would've guessed I'd be a mother to many. How even in my rebellion God had a promise and a plan of redemption for me. How all my plans to be successful in a different way were foiled by the One who writes our story, and I was instead placed in a small town raising kids and living on love.

There is a mother and a daughter and a sister and a friend. A wife and an oldest child and two gals who love their mamas. There is a connection and a bond inside that picture that is far greater than anything I could pick apart on the outside.

There is a sweetheart, and a mother struggling to set the best example she can for her impressionable girl.

Look at her. Look at me. Look at us.

We're a handful. We've got good and bad issues. And we have a giant amount of love for each other that surpasses all my understanding. That's what that picture tells me now.

Pictures tell a tale, we need more of them together...even when my hair is in a knot and I have no makeup on. Because someday we'll want to look back together and laugh at this crazy season when I was in the trenches of mothering them.

They are my girls. I need them to know how wonderfully and fearfully they are made, and that starts with me.

Thankful for His definition of beauty, and thankful for His reminder that these little girls are always watching...always :).

Friday, November 16, 2012

4 Years Of Sweetness


You girls turn 4 today.

The ones who keep me so busy, the ones who ask me a million questions a day, and the ones who made me a mama to multiple multiples.

Life moves so quickly these days, I just want to turn back the pages and remember all the goodness you have brought to my life...

I blinked and here we are.

You're 4!

My baby girls, my biggest handful, my busiest kiddos. You both challenge me, inspire me, and push me to be a better mommy.

Thank you, loves. I need that push.

You are growing so fast, and I am enjoying my special time with you and your brother when the big girls are at school.

Just the other day I watched you follow each other around the park and do everything the other one was doing...and I had a mommy moment. (You know the ones, those sweet moments.) I watched you take each others hand and head for the slide and my heart couldn't have been more full. I just love you both so deeply.

You have a bond that surpasses most of the worlds understanding, yet you share a home with 2 other little girls that relate to that bond. That is a gift from Him.

I can see you growing every day, but you will always be my babies...

So today, let's throw balloons, eat ice cream for breakfast, and go pick out all the rainbow goodies for your "Over The Rainbow" birthday party. They say I go overboard with birthdays, but God went overboard when He gave us both of you.

Grace, that is what you two are.

Happy 4th Birthday my sweet baby girls. Love you so, so much!

Monday, November 12, 2012

"You're A Friend That Would Help Me Move A Body"

I know, you either are afraid of that title or you remember me mentioning it before. Please, stay with me :).

We had a great weekend. And by great I mean blessed, and refueling, and a deep breath of fresh but crazy air.

Jessica and her crew of 9 met up with us this past summer for the first time. We hung out and confirmed that we lived insanely similar lives, and a wonderful and hilarious friendship was born. Eric and I left that weekend changed. Those 3 days back in June played a giant role in our decision to move forward with our foster to adopt journey that we had talked about for so long. They truly were a voice we needed to hear.

A lot happened in the weeks following that weekend. As we embarked on this new chapter, their family was faced with tragedy. We kept in touch and cheered each other on the best we knew how as we both walked through different seasons.

Because that’s what friends do, right?

They made the drive this past weekend and stayed with us for a few days. We somehow fit all the kids (except 1) in our kids rooms and they giggled and talked until they couldn't keep their sweet eyes open anymore. Us adults sipped wine, played cards, and laughed hysterically till1am.

It was bliss. 

Our lives aren't the same as they were in July, but the same exact friendship was still there.

It was just a refreshing time.

Over a year ago I had the chance to listen to a speaker by the name of Brene Brown. She spoke so boldly and honestly about friendship and being vulnerable - a topic that had been heavy on my heart for quite some time.

I try to offer as much as I can to my girlfriends, and I'm trying my hardest to invest in the ladies that make my life richer. My days of hanging out at the last minute or having an uninterrupted chat on the phone have waved goodbye. 6 (and maybe more) kiddos consume most of my hours - it's crazy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Although I would like to shower without all the banging on the door. You know, at some point.

At that conference, Brene talked about how everyone needs those few friends that would help you "move a body".Even though it sounded strange at first...and illegal, I was intrigued as to where she was heading with this analogy. I knew immediately who those girls were in my life as her story and reasoning behind that statement unfolded. I felt like God used her to help clarify things that had been on my heart for quite some time, and I felt convicted that I often take those girls for granted while I try to figure out other friendships that are clearly off in a ditch somewhere.

Here is some of the story she told...

"A year or two ago, my good friend called and as soon as I said, “Hello!” she said, “You’re a friend who would move a body.”

I could tell by her voice that she was serious. I lowered my voice and asked, “What does that mean?”

She said that one of her sister’s close friends had called her sister and asked her to help her move her mom. Her mother, who was apparently only invited to visit once a year, struggled with alcoholism. When my sister’s friend came home from work, she was passed out drunk on the sofa. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the kids would be busting through the front door any minute. She called because she physically needed help moving her mother.

I let out a deep sigh and said, “Yes. You could definitely call me.”

Then she said one of the kindest things that anyone has ever said to me.  She explained,

“I’d call you because you would come right away. Give me a hug. Never look judgmental or disapproving or disgusted.

And then you’d say, ‘let’s do this.’

The next day when you saw my mom at the park or the soccer game, you’d be kind and respectful. And most of all, it would never cross my mind to say something to you like, ‘please don’t tell anyone.’ Because you don’t do that.”

I thought about that conversation for days.I thought about how lucky I am to have a couple “move-a-body” friends in my life. I thought about how crazy it is that most of us can steamroll over these friends while we work to win the approval and acceptance of people who really don’t matter in our lives – people whom we’d NEVER call when we were in real struggle."

I just love that story. And I was reminded this weekend to focus and nurture those friendships because they are the ones that are going to be standing next to you during the good, the mundane, and the crazy. Those are the girls that are in it for the long haul - even when they live miles away.

I need to tell those girls how much I love them and how important they are to me more often.

Friends are a gift, and I think that moms need true friendship like they need air. Real friends make you laugh, speak the truth, and encourage you – they’re not supposed to be pulling you down.There is no room in life for toxic friendships, they need to be cut out to make room for those who are encouraging you towards one thing…Him.

It's also a must to have friends where you know that you basically couldn’t say ANYTHING that would shock them. That is the best :).

Those few girls that “get you”, the ones that you laugh out loud with, and the ones that you know you can share your ugliness with? Those are the girls that make life better, richer, easier. Those are kindred spirits, gifts from Him.

Thankful for His perfect picture of friendship. And thankful for Jessica and her beautiful crew and all their reminders of God's sweet grace.

I thought there was so much truth in Brene's words, so I just had to share…again. Love those"move-a-body" gals in my life, praying that I am always that friend back to them.

Hope you all are having a great week!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Keep Praying, And Keep Preparing

Well, we're rounding out another week here. It's been a good one, full of activities and playing with the kids. The weather is so great right now, not too cold. It's just right. Does anyone else love the smell of the Fall/Winter air?? I absolutely love it! I also love hoodies on my sweeties...

Look at that one little curl sticking out there :).

I've been doing a little organizing around the house as well. I sort of went on a cleaning's like I'm nesting or something. The problem is, I don't know if I'll be nesting for a few weeks, or for a few months, or more. There is no due date this time around.

The other problem is that I really like a plan and control, so I'd prefer to know the exact time frame of this season. But He would prefer that I just listen and trust.

Keep praying, and  keep preparing....keep praying, and keep preparing...I can do this.

I've felt like I need to keep some kind of order around here because our case worker tends to drop by at a moments notice. As in I'm in my pj's, and the kitchen isn't cleaned up from breakfast yet, and then "surprise!" she's here!

We really do love her though. I feel this bond to her because she is such a big part of our new chapter, it's like she's family.

I keep praying for the kids that He's preparing for us and for the bio parents that we will be involved with. I'm asking for strength and compassion a midst a possible ugly situation. I'm praying for constant reminders of how it could be me, or anyone one of us standing in their shoes, its only by grace that its not.

It is ONLY grace that we live in this nice little community, with nice neighbors, and nice schools, and a nice little life. It is grace that we are healthy and thriving instead of chained to things that will ruin our lives. So as much as I want to be so angry at these parents, and believe me, I WILL BE at times, there is also just a lot of sadness when you realize a mothers life is so broken that she can't even take care of her child.

It's kind of like the saying, "There but for the grace of God, go I,"

Grace and redemption. That is what this is all about. That is really what life is all about.

If you can't tell already, my heart is still a tad raw from all of this. I find myself driving along and praying about life with tears running down my face. Which is either God working on my heart, total fear, or a hormonal imbalance. It's likely to be all three, people.

We just have so much.

I guess that's what has been really turning inside of me lately. We have been spending so much time learning and preparing to deal with a whole lot of brokenness, and it kind of makes you realize how put together your simple life really is.

We don't have crazy shopping sprees or extravagant vacations, but we have a whole lot of love and stability inside these walls...and that is really all that matters at the end of the day. So I've been trying to really question myself when I say we "need" something. Because really, we don't have a ton of needs, only wants. We are already rich in all the important areas.

He is showing me that we are full to the brim where it counts. This humble life is the dream. It's here for us to embrace, every crazy moment of it...

And so today I sit and look at that picture and think, "Yep, I think there's room for more."

We know we can't reach every child in our overflowing county. But even if He only let's us reach 1...rescue 1...embrace 1...give hope to 1 family, then it will be worth all the ups and downs of a broken system.

Praying, and preparing. That's all we can do right now :).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Have To Show You...

This is such a grainy picture straight from my phone, unfortunately I didn't have time to grab my actual camera and get pics of all the kiddos. But this is my first boy costume for Halloween so I MUST document it.

(Yes, we let the kids trick or treat.)

I don't think I even need to tell you how entertained I was by this.

Our little Police Officer...

Seriously, I laughed over this cute little costume all night!

Oh I love that kid, and all the boyish things that he brings to our family :).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Just Some Words

I told myself I'd be in bed 2 hours ago, but that never happens. The quiet house, the sleeping kiddos, and the fact that I can actually hold the remote, it all makes me want to sit and soak it in for a few hours.

I have stay-up-late-itis. It's a real condition.

(Not really)

We ran some errands today. I took the younger kids to the camera store and to the grocery. I actually got all my stuff to the checkout at the grocery and went to grab my wallet only to find out that I DIDN'T HAVE IT. Don't ya love when you do that??

I took the crew out for ice cream after school - I do it every couple months. I just show up and grab them before they hop on the bus and we go get some goodies. For a moment I feel like the "cool mom".

It's like my 15 minutes of fame.

I also bought a bag of bean bag filler today. And if you've ever done this too, you know where I'm going with this story. These are little pieces of out of control styrofoam, my friends. They hate me. Don't try will regret it. Just buy one that's already filled.

Trying to fill it yourself is unnatural and inhumane. Us normal folk weren't made to fill the bean bags. That needs to be left to the professionals.

So anyway, we spent the evening at home and stayed up a little past bedtime because the girlies don't have school tomorrow (conferences). I watched my recorded episodes of Nashville after bedtime, please don't judge me. I'm a little hooked on the show...and by hooked I mean ADDICTED.

I can't help it, Tami Taylor is back, ya'll!

Tomorrow we are going to soak up the cool but sunny weather and hopefully burn some energy off in the backyard.

I'm off to try and catch a decent nights sleep. This was a lot of rambling, wasn't it??

Till later!