Saturday, June 21, 2014

Better Late than Never

It's hard to believe, but we've got a

Second Grader


First Grader


And Preschooler in this house now!


Owen received an Outstanding Attendance Award (he only missed one day of school) and Hannah was awarded Perfect Attendance for not missing a single day.  Maddie is so ready to go to school and can hardly wait for September.

Hannah receiving her Perfect Attendance from her (awesome!) teacher, Mrs. Brown




Owen was so psyched to get his award that he ran up to the stage.  He is the blur in the middle.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Testify

Life is made of a series of adventures, I believe.


And as one adventure is wrapping up I feel the need to make it known.

To testify.

To God's faithfulness. 

June 13th we turned in our keys, our access to the Gateway Woods Campus, and officially were not Houseparents anymore.

There were multiple feelings that I fluctuated between throughout the day.

But the one that I kept coming back to, that brought tears to my eyes...

Gratefulness.

Even that word seems inadequate. 

But I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness to me.  To us.

You guys, the past 5 and half years have been a bit stressful.  Exhausting.  And there were times when we wanted answers and all there seemed to be was silence.

But God was there the whole time.

If my post back in January was any indication, I was in a serious valley.  Mentally, physically, even, dare I admit it...spiritually?

But in those dark nights when I would lay awake in bed, I could hear it being whispered to my soul:

Hold on.


God's still in it.  In the middle of what looks like a mess.  God is still working.

And I don't totally know why the last 6 months have played out like they have.

Losing over 75% of our house to water damage.  Months of job searching with no leads.  Dark fingers of depression that threatened to take hold.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.

Like I said, I don't know the whole story, the whole reason.  But I know The One who does.

And He has promised to work out His Plan for the good for those who love Him.  Not our plan, and not always for what we think is good.

But for His Plan and for His Good.  Which, ultimately, is our good.

And when I think of all that.  I don't know why God has placed us now in this spot.  A 75% new home.  A job for Paul that puts him directly across the street from where our kids are attending school.  A reprieve from the valley walking.

But I do know that it does not stop with me.  God does not bless us so that we can keep it to ourselves.

We are given so that we can then give.

I am still exploring what that looks like for us now in this new adventure and season.

And while I am searching, I just what to give props where it is due.


Ya'll God is faithful.  If you are sitting and doubting.  Just ask.  It may not look how you want it to, but God will deliver.

Because He loves.  He is love.  And He wants it all to work out for the good in your life,
too.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lifesong Mission Moment

journey
Adoption is a journey. 

Like any journey, it's appropriate to think ahead, to plan and to prepare for what is come. Along the way we'll realize that it isn't all what we may have thought or expected. There are unplanned events and struggles, along with unexpected joys and surprises.

Join us as we walk down a few different paths of the adoption journey and discuss some key resources as you look ahead in preparation of bringing a child into your forever family.

Many of you may have already walked this journey. Some of seen friends or close family struggle through the path. Maybe you are just starting to "pack your bag" for your first adoption. No matter the traveler or the progress, here are a few helpful tidbits for anyone who is considering adoption (for the first, second or third time!).

3 Ways to Prepare for the Journey...
  1. Pray. Fast. Read. Most importantly, seek God's direction and plan for your family. Spend significant time praying, fasting and reading His Word together for guidance, wisdom and peace. God does not call everyone to adopt, but He may be calling your family to be involved in caring for the orphan in some way. Sit and listen to the Father, He will prepare your feet for the path He has for you (Psalm 18:33).
  2. Educate Yourself (With Trusted Materials). With some of the best Christian material on adoption, Empowered to Connect provides books, videos, trainings and other resources to help foster and adoptive families parent children from hard places. Prepare and receive realistic expectations ahead of time by reading books like The Connected Child or attending an Empowered to Connect Conference.  See resources & upcoming Empowered to Connect Conferences >>
  3. Take a Pre-Adoption Assessment. Striving to make the adoption process less complicated and overwhelming, our friends at Loving Shepherd Ministries have helped guide over 6,000 couples in their early stages of adoption. Through their Adoption Assessment Form, their staff gives your family adoption options you are eligible to pursue, along with lists of agencies, home study providers in your area and more! Best yet, they offer this as a free service to prospective adoptive families. Learn more & fill out their Adoption Assessment Form today >>
There is wisdom in preparation, but don't forget to keep in mind that we have a Father who knows the beginning and the end. An Almighty God who is writing and arranging your family's story behind the scenes. When things don't make sense, wait on Him. His way is always best!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One more farewell

She's been around awhile.

A month shy of 2 years to be exact.

She was trying to escape the demons, the past that haunted her.  I think it took the first year for her just to get a glimpse of the sunshine, to realize there was something better than where she was at.  To discover that you can't just hide the past, sometimes you have to face it head on to defeat it.

But now, as she is on the brink of returning home for good, I am so very thankful for the changes we have seen in her.

The biggest change?  She knows Jesus.  And well, the rest of the changes follow, right?

She's not perfect.  But then none of us are.

We all still have our struggles, our sins, that try to pull us back under.  But if we have Jesus, we have hope.

Having someone live with you for 2 years, you can't help but feel like they are part of your family.

And having spent 1/8 of her life with us, I think she may feel like a part of ours, too.

But she's headed to her home with her family.  I know there are going to be tough times, but I also know that she has learned new skills, learned new behaviors, learned new ways to cope.

My prayer for her (and every kid who has left our home in the past) is that she will not forget what she has learned here.  Most of all that Jesus loves her, has died for her, and no matter what sort of mess she's gotten into, Jesus will always take her back (amazing grace!)


We love you, "Daughter,"  and although you have to move on, a bit of you remains with us.  We are praying for you and cheering for you as you begin the rest of your life.


And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are a partaker with me of grace... Philippians 1:6+7

*Pictures used with permission


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

May Lookback

Yeah, yeah, we are well into June.  But I say it's never too late for a little reminiscing.  May was pretty full with packing and finalizing things for our departure from Gateway.  Looking at life on the outside of houseparenting is seeming a bit daunting, but we press on (I see a future post coming on that one!)  Saying goodbye to the space we called home for over 3 years (the longest Paul and I have lived in one place in our 12 years of marriage.)

May was full, but good.

This summer is bound to be different from any summer we have lived so far.  Anxious and excited as we stand on the brink of it!


Paul and I got away for a much anticipated weekend to celebrate birthdays - a Red's game for him and an IKEA trip for me!  We got the cheapest seats and got to sit at the very tip top in the extreme corner.  Got a great view of the river as well.

The cheap hot dogs we waited 30 minutes in line for.  Worth it.


Love finding these little notes laying around.

Gateway Woods School play.  Had to raid the candy jar after the performance.

Let's pose for a Mother's Day picture...or not.

Took in a Tin Caps game - Owen and Hannah got free tickets from a reading program through school.


LOVING the new park in Leo




And.  The Move.  We are officially in our "new" home.  The play room - the one room that was not affected by the Flood of January 2014.