Wednesday, March 27


Earlier this year I posted this post about my words for the year. Words that I have committed to keep in the forefront of my thoughts. Words that will help me stay grounded and focused on what matter in my life this year. Each day.  My words this year are...
In December I prayed over my words. I asked God for direction and to show me the words that He would want me to use as my central point of gravity. These two words were the first words that came to mind and they stuck. The more I prayed the bigger they seemed to be.
Little did I know in December how much Grace+Time would be needed in my upcoming days and weeks. Since That post, we have moved out of our house, moved into my father-inlaw's house, remodeled our new house, planned a mission trip (still planning), moved into our new house, threw a birthday party and many many more things. All while trying to remain sane, grounded and focused.
What valuable words. What valuable actions.
I have learned Grace in new ways.
My time has been challenged, stretched and at times lost.
I am thankful for a God that sees us in every moment of everyday and lifts us up when ours heads and hands hang low.
When I chose my words for the year I knew I wanted to do something special that would remind me of them. I wanted something that I could see everyday that would remind me in those moments of weakness where Grace seems nonexistent and Time is fading.
I have a sweet friend who is an amazing and inspiring artist. I knew right away that I wanted her to create something beautiful for me that holds the words that are my focus for the year.
So I emailed Molly with Specs and Wings and told her my idea. I gave her full reign. All I knew was that I wanted something represent Grace, which in my head is a deer and a clock to represent time. This is what she came up with.

One of my favorite things about the painting are the pages from an old hymnal that lay behind the deer. These pages hold words from hymns that are focused on submitting to God and obedience along with His might to do it through us. 
What an amazing reminder. A reminder to sit at the feet of our Kings. To submit to Him and let him work through us. 

Molly thank you for creating such an amazing reminder for me. I will cherish it always. 

Wednesday, March 20

God Doesn't See Borders

A commonly asked Question that seems to be popping up more and more is this:

Why International Adoption when there are many children here in the U.S. who need to be taken care of? 
What makes it so special to adopt kids outside of the U.S. when we have kids that need adopting here?
Why are so many people so concerned about kids from other countries and not our own? Shouldn't we be focusing on our own problems?

I would like to take a stab at responding/answering this question as an adoptive parent. An International Adoptive parent at that. Sometimes these questions can come across offensive as an adoptive parent and a defense tends to rise up in us. My intention and my voice behind this response is not that of a defensive tone nor does it come from an offended heart. It comes with Love and understanding of questions such as these. Questions that need not be ignored or over looked. They are very valid and important questions.

First I don't think that adopting a child from another country makes it more "special". It makes it hard, more time consuming, expensive, and risky, but I wouldn't say "special". Adoption in and of it's self is a blessing and is very special. Regardless of geography.

I love what my husband recently said in response to one of these questions:
"The  reason families adopt beyond the U.S. borders can be for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons is need. In the U.S. at any given time there are roughly 500,000 children displaced from their home and within the foster care system. Of this 500,000 only roughly 80,000 - 100,000 are actually "adoptable". There are roughly 2 million families in the U.S. today looking to adopt a child within the U.S. This means that many families are on a waiting list. This also means that if you are a healthy and young child in the U.S. (and not part of a large sibling group) you will be adopted without delay."

In Ethiopia, where our daughter Emerson is from, there are approximately 5 Million orphans. According to U.S Inter-country Adoption webpage only 1732 were adopted into the U.S in 2011. This hardly makes a dent in the need. The statistics world wide for orphan care are overwhelming high.

I would certainly say that there's not anything more or less special about adoptions within or outside of the U.S. They are both important and necessary in order to "care for the orphans" that God commands us to care for. (See James 1:27 in the Bible) God did not command us to just care for the orphans where we live specifically but all orphans in need.

God does not see borders, He only sees children. With this command, He calls some to care for the orphans here in the U.S. and calls others to care for the orphans in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, China, Ukraine, Liberia, Brazil, Haiti etc.

However if you look closely there is a difference in the needs of children (orphans) outside of the U.S. vs. the ones within the borders of the U.S. In the third world you will find orphans dying everyday by the thousands from lack of basics needs that are met here in the U.S. by the government and/or foster programs.

  • Shelter
  • An Abundance of food
  • Access to free Medical Care
  • Clean Water
  • Education

And so on...
Children in the third world do not get these things.

I was recently reading a string of comments on a local news page on Facebook concerning International vs. Domestic adoption. I felt sad and drained after reading through some of the things people say about families who adopt internationally.  I came to the result that most people don't really know what they are talking about. People just need to be informed and educated and made aware. People need to understand the different needs and where exactly the needs are and how to meet those needs. And it's up to us adoptive parents to love and educate those that just don't know.

There are thousands of resources out there concerning adoptions both international and domestic. If you have questions on either I want to encourage you to look into it your self and find answers or helpful articles to understand each process.

Ultimately we all need to be praying about what our roll looks like in the relieving the world wide orphan and poverty crisis. Instead of pointing fingers and saying mean things to each other we need to love, encourage and help one another out. I was once asked "Why are you spending thousands to adopt from Ethiopia when there are orphans in your city's foster care program? Why not take care of your own first. "My response was simply "How many foster children do you have? How many children have you adopted?" For us, we felt called by God to adopt from Ethiopia. God calls some there, God calls some here and God calls some to both. God's ways are great.

God doesn't see borders, He sees children. And he is faithful in setting the lonely in homes. He cares for the orphans, He sees them in their distress and he deploys families from all races, economical positions and countries to care for them and to meet their needs. How is God calling you to play a roll in His story of redemption?
Click image above to be directed to a super cute adoption fundraiser. 

To My Younger Momma Self

I saw this post on a friends blog. It made me think about what I would tell MY younger momma self. Not that I am an old momma or anything but what would I tell ME in my early momma days?

I would tell myself to not worry about what other mommas think of my mothering skills. To not conform to "their ways" but stick to what I felt was right for my baby.

I would tell myself that it is perfectly fine to nap when your baby is napping. Laundry, dishes, sweeping and dusting. It will always be there and it will be there when you wake up, tackle it then. It is ok to take a break and catch some zzz's. (I may be a little too good at this napping thing now! Ha!)

I would tell my self to not feel judged if I wasn't doing the "Baby Wise" thing. That it is OK to be a rescuer mom. I was never the momma who could let my little ones "Cry it Out". Or the momma who had my babies on a strict eat and sleep cycle. My babies lived life with me and kinda functioned around my schedule and their own. Not what and how a book told me. I would nurse my babies when they cried. Even if it had only been 30 minutes. I didn't make them wait until the "next scheduled feeding time". I mean we all need a little drink or snack don't we? And those precious nursing days are gone too soon. I cried when my last one refused the boob.

I would tell myself to not sleep with my babies in my bed. I recognize that for some co-sleeping and a "family bed" is good for your family and it works for you. After Parker I quickly realized that it is not our thing and I regretted ever starting it. Parker was 2 before he slept alone and all night. Beckham slept in his own bed in his own room at 2 weeks and he survived and wasn't emotionally damaged or scared from sleeping alone. Actually he was the happiest and most rested baby I knew. He was able to get a good nights rest with out being smooshed and jabbed all night just like his well rested momma.

I would tell myself that if my baby is 2 months old and I want to give him rice cereal in a bottle and my friends scorn to just roll it off. Who cares really and who writes these baby books on how, what to feed your babies and when?

I would tell myself that it is fine to let my 2 yr old have a pacifier. Relax other mommas. He's not gonna get married and still suck a paci. He will only be 2 once and his paci will only be his whole world for a blink.

I would tell myself to let my boys be boys. Let them climb, let them fall, let them seek things that bring a challenge and an adventure. Its born in them. It's in their bones. Let them expand their little boy wings and experience things that thrill their imagination. Don't hover and over protect. Don't be that mom who wont let him try to slide from the tallest slide at the park. Boys are adventurous. Let them be.

I would tell myself that if the food/paci/sippy cup falls on the floor and they stick it back in their mouth they will not die. Germs strengthen their immune system right?

I would tell myself to ask for help. When days get rough and you just need a break its totally fine to call a friend and say "HEY!!! I am suffocating over here and I need help! Can you watch ____ for a couple of hours so I can rest/clean/run an errand?" Don't try to play the perfect-well put together-I have this under control-I don't need help momma roll. You will wear yourself out and burn yourself out. What are friends for anyway?! Don't feel guilty for leaving them for a couple of nights to get away from kid chaos to spend quality time with your hubby. Your marriage is first before parenting. As is your sanity. Trust me. Everyone will be happier if you take a little time for some personal TLC and R&R.

And to those young momma's who were blessed with being a momma the way I was, young and 19. I want to say...Don't let the other momma's who are older then you tell you that you are doing it wrong. Or make you feel like you are less of a momma. You are momma's just the same. 19 or 29. It doesn't matter. Neither of us have this parenting thing figured out. Rely on the Lord and your inner momma voice. I would tell myself this if I could go back in time.

I would tell myself to spend less time being stressed about have the picture perfect kids. I would tell myself to relax and quit trying to correct and disciple to mold them into fairytale babies/toddlers. They grow fast and those days which seem so horrible are gone really quick. As I type this I am sitting next to my first baby who will be 7 next week. Oh how I wish he could be 1 yr old for just one more day. Or be 2 weeks old snuggling on my chest at 4am for one more day. Savor it. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Those little moments go fast and you really do forget those tiny frustrations. It's a snap of time and gone far to fast.

Finally I would tell myself to snuggle more, play more, sing with them more, get in the dirt with them more, kiss them more, love them more, be more patient with them, embrace more of those sweet moments, go after their hearts more. Encourage them more, pray for them more. Have more grace. Don't sweat the small stuff. And even some of the big stuff. Have grace with yourself. Not one of us parents are perfect. Even the Dr.'s and professionals who write the big books. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Find rest in the Lord. Take care of yourself. Physically, emotionally and most of all Spiritually.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young." - Isaiah 40:11
One of my favorite scriptures for mothers like me who have young. The Lord gently leads you and cares for you. Let yourself be gently lead. Find your rest and encouragement in him. Let Him gently shepherd you in these early momma years.

2 Week old Parker and 19 yr old me. (Top)
4 Day old Beckham. We lost all of Beckham's baby pictures from the Hospital until he was 5 months old. Its devastating. I only have about 5 pics of him and this is one. 

Sunday, March 17

St. Patrick

Happy Saint Patricks Day!!

Annually people around the world celebrate this day, March 17th, as a day to honor and remember St. Patrick. We wear green (if you don't you will get pinched), make cute crafts, make green food, decorate with Leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold, and some enjoy green beer and see it as a day to have a great big party.
I learned in Perspectives last fall something very interesting regarding St. Patrick. I honestly didn't know anything about the man. Other than he was Irish (which he wasn't), people wear Green, get drunk off of Green Beer and theres a lot of talk about the little Leprechauns and the Luck of the Irish. What I learned was that St. Patrick (who wasn't actually a Saint;he was never canonized by the catholic church) was one of the Greatest Missionaries to ever live. 
Not only that but he was an early victim of Human Trafficking.
When St. Patrick was a teenager (some say 16) he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland and sold as a slave. He spent many years, following being sold, in isolation in a wilderness shepherding sheep for his master. During his time in isolation St. Patrick began praying and cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is said that Patrick would say 100 prayers by day and 100 by night while in isolation.

God spoke to Patrick in a dream when Patrick was in his early 20's. It is said that God told him to flee from his Master and head for a ship that was awaiting him. So Patrick fled and embarked on a 200 mile journey by foot toward the ship that would take him home. The ship was there, just as God had promised him. Patrick was able to go home. Once he was home, he enrolled in Seminary and became a pastor.

Many years later Patrick received a dream from the Lord again telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary. The Celtics that resided in Ireland were in desperate need of the Gospel. They were a drunk, barbaric and perverted group of people that the Roman Catholic church had viewed as hopeless. But God sent Patrick to plant church with in this people group.  I honestly didn't even know much about the Celtic people before taking this class. Listening to the stories about the morality of this people group left me speechless. Patrick was divinely called to these people. Patrick obeyed the call to go. He sold his possession and his inherited land and went to Ireland. The land where he was once enslaved.

Legend has it that Patrick used a Shamrock to teach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This is why a Shamrock is a symbol for St. Patrick's Day.  Techniques such of this helped Patrick relate to the Irish since a Shamrock was already viewed as sacred among the Pagans. After being accepted by the pagan Irish, Patrick would work to convert the leaders of the clans and other influential people. It is said that he would pray for the sick, he would cast out demons, preach the gospel and use a variety of musical and visual arts to help get people to place their faith in Christ. He would then baptize them and plant a simple church right there within that clan. He would train up a pastor and disciple them.

That night in class, hearing all of this for the first time, I sat back and just cried. There is so much more that was said that night in class. So much more to this that I don't know but I couldn't help but wonder..... How could I have never known any of this? Why was I never taught who this man was and why was I never taught what he did for the kingdom? How brave and heroic of him to go back to the place that once enslaved him and bring them the Gospel. And Ireland at this time was not the touristy Ireland we know. It was a dark and evil filled place in desperate need of Jesus. And Patrick was the one God called to reach this nation. A nation that God desperately wanted to restore. I learned that Patrick discipled nearly 1000 pastors and planted nearly 700 churches in his life time and he was the FIRST noted person in history to take a strong stand against slavery. He devoted his life until his death to this nation.

Before knowing any of this I was once one of the many Americans unaware of what exactly we are celebrating. I was unaware of what a great influence St. Patrick was in the movement of the Gospel. He brought Christianity to a dark place and time. God's heart beat for this nation and he used who we know as St. Patrick to make his Son, Jesus Christ known among the people there. 

Here's to one of the Greatest Missionaries to ever live. 

Monday, March 4