Thursday, May 19, 2016

Parenting and Life is NOT a 'Quick Fix'

Parenting is not some 'quick fix', 'new kid by Friday', 'Supernanny wraps it all into a neat little bow within the hour' kind of thing. I've often thought in the past that I must be a sore failure as a parent because my kids don't want to comply or act interested in something that interests me. I've learned that kids often are the first to raise their hand at church to help do something when asked by an adult, yet at home roll their eyes and 'huff and puff' when asked the same thing. That 'helpful and willing' kid that people see can be so disrespectful to mom or dad at home.

It's also interesting that as adults we too can be the same way. We lead kids at Sunday School in small groups with joy, patience and understanding, yet lose patience, yell and treat our own kids with disrespect. We treat 'difficult' or 'extra grace required' people we come into contact with with patience, yet 'bite the head off' of our spouse with one little misunderstanding or comment.

Maybe you, like me, often feel like a hypocrite because we've messed up or failed because we yell, scream or say things to our closest ones at home, yet act 'sweet as pie' at church or work. Maybe part of it is that we can 'let our guard down' at home, and just let the REAL emotions, fears, worries and feelings come out around those who we are the most vulnerable to. It's not an excuse to treat those we love badly, but I believe I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I'm not saying these things so we can pat ourselves on the back and be okay with our sins, but so that we can receive encouragement knowing that this life isn't easy, and we are not 'the only one' feeling this way. Most importantly we recognize that as Christ followers we are not meant to be perfect. If we hold ourselves to the 'perfect standard' we will always feel like a royal failure. Jesus gives us His grace DAILY. Maybe His plan is for us to always be in a place of feeling like 'we don't have it all together' so that we daily come to Him with hands of surrender saying 'LORD, I don't feel equipped or able to handle this', so that we make a declaration in a prayer of desperation that we NEED HIM.

 "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need."  --Hebrews 4:16

Aren't we supposed to be in a place of utter reliance and being in need of Him? Maybe God's plan was for me to be a parent (Whether it's one or nine kids) to teach me about grace, forgiveness, selflessness and trust. It doesn't feel 'peachy' a lot of the time, and I need to get rid of the 'quick fix parenting' or 'quick fix marriage' mindset. Life isn't a 'quick fix'. Life is a life long process of grace, patience, healing, forgiveness and trust, and it certainly isn't 'wrapped up into a pretty bow' by Friday. But, in the midst of the crazy I can truly know peace and joy, because I KNOW He holds me, and I do have a real hope. Not a 'blind hope', but a real hope in the provision, care, direction, leading and blessings from God when I walk in trust and obedience to His word.

"Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


I Need Thee Every Hour - Annie S. Hawks (1872)

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

Friday, May 6, 2016

4th Generation Adoption! Congratulations Michael & Beth

Our precious baby boy is a fourth-generation adoptee. It's amazing to me to think about how God has taken four separate stories and written them together into one big family book!

Since my husband, his father, and his grandmother were all adopted, we always planned to adopt one day in the future. Infertility took us by surprise, and we leaped into treatments enthusiastically. As time went by and the loss and disappointments built up, my enthusiasm lessened and my heart became more in tune with the idea of adopting sooner rather than later. We decided we didn't want to pursue the only option left to us on our treatment path. In my research, I learned about Christian Adoption Consultants from a friend and decided to call. I'm so glad Dawn answered! She answered all my questions,and I was happy to have a plan in mind

In the spring of 2015, some dear friends organized a puzzle fundraiser on our behalf. Because of that blessing, we were able to officially sign on with Christian Adoption Consultants and begin our home study. We were chosen by an expectant mother around 5 months later, and our son was born late in the year. Our sadness and longing for a child turned into the biggest joy we have ever experienced!

Yes, we had to wait. Yes, we experienced loss and heartbreak. No, the adoption process wasn't always easy. There were definitely bumps along the way. All of this was more than worth it! We can look back now and see how much our marriage and faith grew during the waiting. The entire journey helped to prepare us for our lives as parents. We will always be grateful for our son's first mother for choosing life and entrusting us with such a wonderful gift.  

I am still in awe when I look at our son. He is the best baby and full of love, sweetness, happiness, and we are even starting to see some silliness start to come out. I am so glad that my husband and his family showed me what adoption looked like, and I am thankful that God wrote our precious baby boy into the book of our family! 

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

If you have questions about adoption- let us help answer your questions and help you on your journey today! 813-360-7368 or email

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The blessing of a baby girl - Craig & Amity’s adoption stor

Craig and Amity signed on with us at Christian Adoption Consultants in March of 2015 after waiting more than three years to adopt with their agency. Without being able to adopt previously they got connected to us and were interested in having our support to evaluate potential adoption situations, have help with paperwork, and to have wider access to agencies. In just over 5 months they were matched through one of CAC’s recommended agencies with a birth mother who was already going into labor, and the next day their baby girl was in their arms! Amity shares their story:    

“Our adoption journey was long, but, looking back upon it, I can see the Lord’s hand bringing us together. We began looking into adoption in 2011, when Josie was 3 years old and we had been unable to conceive a second child. We felt strongly that we should spend our efforts and resources on adoption instead of pursuing infertility diagnoses and treatment.

We started getting documents together to update our home study, and looked for an agency. I felt overwhelmed by the options and unsure of how to choose. In mid-March I began to feel a tugging at my heart, a feeling that there was a baby on its way to our family, and that we needed to move faster. Then, while visiting with a friend who had adopted, I received a strong impression that we needed to move forward immediately to be ready when our baby arrived. We signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants the next day.

By the end of May our paperwork and profile were completed, and in June we had applied with eight different agencies recommended by our consultants (Dawn & Jason Wright). 

Each application included our adoption profile--a book with pictures and information about us: our hobbies, interests, community, hopes for the future, etc. In working with Christian Adoption Consultants, we would receive emails with potential adoption situations. Each would include the birth parent backgrounds, health history, known risks including drug and alcohol exposure, the due date, and adoption fees.

We would then let the agency know if we wanted to present our profile. This commitment meant that we would not present to anyone else while the birthmom decided, and if she chose us, we would be matched. In all, we presented our profile to 6 birthmothers with 5 different agencies between June 26-August 25. 

The continued commitment and waiting were much more stressful than I had anticipated. I knew that whatever child came to our family, the Lord would help us to love, care for and cherish.

On August 24, I emailed an inquiry to one of the agencies we had applied to and I received a call from them on Tuesday, August 25. I was informed that we had not been chosen from our recent presentation--BUT-- that our profile had been on her desk when she’d been talking to another mom, and she felt impressed to show it to her (“I hope that’s okay,” she’d said, since we hadn’t known). She said the baby was a girl, and due September 15, with an induction date set for the 8th, but that mom was already dilated to 3cm at 38 weeks.  I told her I would talk to Craig and get back to her, and she sent me the information she had on the situation by email. We agreed wholeheartedly to this baby, and sent an email that evening telling the agency to “officially” present our profile.

I got a reply the next morning that BH had gone into labor and that the baby had been born. So Josie and I flew to Salt Lake City on the red eye that night. After a morning nap I left Josie with my parents and arrived at the hospital around 1pm, just as BH had finished signing the relinquishment paperwork. I was not sure what to expect, but as I entered the hospital room, BH said hello, and “Do you want to hold her?” She handed me the smallest bundle of baby I had ever encountered and I fed and rocked her while BH worked on the vital statistics paperwork. The hour passed quickly. 

When the social worker needed to leave, I asked BH if she wanted me to stay longer, or come back later. She said, “I’m kind of tired. And this is the only time I will have to spend with her.”  We agreed to just meet at the agency on Friday after discharge from the hospital. I no longer had any worries about this tiny baby. BH so obviously loved her. 

Craig arrived the following morning, August 28. And we took Josie to the agency to pick up our new daughter, Alora. When BH arrived with Alora from the hospital, we spent a couple hours together at the agency. Before she flew home on the 31st, she gave us a scrapbook she had prepared for us and Alora that included ultrasounds and photos from her stay in Utah. It also had a couple of letters that answered many of the questions we didn’t feel like we could ask.

Our open adoption means that we send BH letters and photos through the agency once a month for the first year, then at least yearly until Alora turns 18. Since the adoption was finalized, we have communicated by email and skype. 

We are so blessed.  BH loved this baby, and her decision to adopt was motivated by that love. She had been in Utah since June and had received excellent support and counseling from the adoption agency.

Alora was small, but she is perfect, healthy and whole. By her 2 month checkup, Alora had doubled in size. She continues to delight and amaze us. We are all smitten.  As I reflect on our experience, I am humbled and grateful. She is happy and sleeps and eats well. She only cries when she is hurt, hungry or tired. She loves Josie and often laughs for her.”

Nothing thrills us more than seeing families come together through the amazing blessing and miracle of adoption. We would love to talk with you about your adoption journey, and how we may provide support and encouragement to you. With our services you receive professional and caring support all the way through the adoption process. You get someone who’s in your corner and someone you can always trust.

Give Dawn a call or email us for more information:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

8 years ago- Happy Adoption Day Joshua, Sarah, & Elizabeth!

8 years ago..... we stood up in court and said yes to being their family.  It seems like yesterday and yet a long time ago.  Even in the hardest moments of our family I would say yes again and again! 
Elizabeth is our always smiling songbird.  She loves to play with Legos with her huge imagination and play outside in the dirt making mud pies and all sorts of fun things.  She is "full on" all the time and it feels like she may have the capability to be in two places at once.  She loves to squeeze you tight with her bear hugs.  I love listening to her play and thinking of the amazing plans God has for her life! 
Adoption can be beautiful and joyful as well as hard and painful.  The past 8 years have proven that and although our lives here on Earth are not perfect it reminds me of the song My Story by Big Daddy Weave.  Their story will be beautifully written by God including details that are hard and wonderful all mingled together. 
Sarah loves studying fashion, painting her fingernails, and reading especially American Girl.  She loves leading worship and I truly believe God has and will continue to grow her gifts in this area.  She is almost as tall as I am, but I won't admit it yet.  This young lady is going to challenge the world and take it on.  She has a way of caring for those who don't have a voice and is quick to make friends with anyone. 
Sometimes the stories God writes are not the ones you expect.  They aren't easy for sure and your hearts get broken.  You feel like God must have made a mistake or He must just not really know your capabilities.  Questions come by the bucket load as you feel like nothing fits or it just isn't the way it is supposed to be.  But one thing remains- God is still God and He hasn't left His Throne.  So buckle up and lean into HIM!
This amazing young man is so compassionate.  He loves to play with his youngest siblings and wrestle all day (and I do mean all day) with his brothers.  He has a definite soft spot for others and is protective.  He doesn't say a whole lot, but when he does it matters to him.  He has developed a passion for running and has been inspired by Jesse Owens.  I can't wait to see what God does with him!
I know that I know that God will use all our stories together to show his Glory.  Even when it is hard to see in the moments of the everyday. 
We are more than blessed to call these three beautiful young people our children.  We are thrilled that our lives came together.  If you told me in the beginning that everything would be the way it is I wouldn't have believed you.   
Some people ask us if we always planned to have a large family.  I would say not really.  It just happened.  We said yes to foster care.  We said yes to adoption when the time came.  It was something we just leaned hard into God and said we will say yes- and let you take care of the outcome.  It was crazy hard because our human side gets caught up.  We want to plan it, but we can't.  Only God sees the ending and we are clueless. 
What makes it all work?  I am still clueless. 
There are many days I look at these smiles and think - how do we do this?
Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and whisper a prayer and ask God continually for help.  To say I want what you want God- please I am begging for you to show me, and Thank God for every day you get to spend with your children!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Adoption And Good Excuses

Meet Jon & Angel (our clients through Christian Adoption Consultants):  
This is their story of adoption and well meaning excuses.....

Adoption had been on our hearts for years, starting very early in our marriage.  However, we kind of set it aside as we had our 3 biological children.  When our youngest turned 3, God really started to prompt us again to start the adoption process.  However, we had excuse after excuse.  Good excuses we thought.  We told God that we would do it, BUT....once we had so much money in savings, and once Jon's job slowed down, etc, etc. etc.  We basically were putting God in a box setting such tight parameters around our adoption situation. 
But guess what?  I don't think God always works that way.  I think he often waits for us to take the first step purely out of faith, before He'll start opening doors.   One morning when I was sitting down doing my quiet time reading "Jesus Calling," by Sarah Young, God spoke to me loudly!  He told me that He gets it.  He understand that WE can't do it.  But...HE CAN!!!  He told me to go for it!  The next day we committed to starting our adoption journey.  Our first step was calling Dawn from Christian Adoption Consultants.
Dawn and Jason were and ARE amazing!!  We had no clue how the domestic adoption world worked.  We've spent months talking to friends who have been through the process, but what we quickly found out was that every situation was so different.  Dawn was there for me, patiently answering all of my 2000+ questions, making the hard journey so much smoother.  Not only was she informative, knowing all of the facts, but she was so understanding, helping calm my heart and nerves on numerous occasions.  They've been there.  They get it!!  What I loved most about them was their PROMPTNESS in replying to calls and emails.  It was almost immediately that they'd get back to me, which is huge for me.  They truly were a blessing to me and my family.
As I sit her typing, my sweet baby boy, Brady, is napping.  He's 7 months old already.  He's the HAPPIEST BABY EVER!!  He's known by everyone as being the baby who smiles ALL OF THE TIME!  He's doing "patty cake" and starting to crawl.  He is such a blessing to your entire family.  He is just AMAZING!!!  I often look at him in awe which makes me look UP to God in awe!!!  He orchestrated this all!!  What IF we continued to make excuses.  What if we STILL were trying to save up money and waiting for my husbands job to slow down?  I tremble to think of that.  
I promise you this.  If God is calling you to adopt, He won't leave you.  He'll be there not only next to you, but in front of you, opening doors, making it happen!  Trust in His promises!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Take that leap of faith!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Privilege of Homeschooling- Being Together

 First I am going to say this because unless you know me you may be thinking- well I happen to think public school is fine or I am public school teacher.  I AM NOT AGAINST YOU!  You do work that is beyond necessary it is the fabric of our society!  I pray for you and your students!  I am not anti public or private schools, but I am pro our homeschool. 

The above picture is one of the main reasons why we homeschool- I love that our family gets to spend so much time together!  We get to do math, hiking, reading, playing, outdoor exploring, chores, English, watching movies, spelling, Lego competitions, lessons of real life spending, saving, and giving, creative writing, history, and everything is all rolled into one. 

Now some argue that for this reason they couldn't do it.  I will be honest as it is not always easy of course.  There are times when we wear on each other or step on that last nerve.  We are not perfect and our home is not quiet.  However, we have memories galore good, hard, and everything in between. 

Relationships and facing the ups and downs together is not easy.  It would be great to escape and Jason and I have to guard our time together as well as individual time to get rest and retreat.  This includes date nights, Jason takes time to refill and so do I as well throughout the week. 
 I love that our routine can include a family day.  A day every week where we can all say no to staying at home and just go out and play.  We usually go to the theme park for the day- convenience and more cost efficient when you live very close to all the theme parks here.  Sometimes we go to a state park, play board games all day, or go shopping as a family.  Hopefully we will get started in doing some camping soon too (we got camping gear for Christmas). 
 We don't have to worry about what is being taught to our children.  We get to choose the curriculum, and divide the time between subjects the way we want.  We have the privilege of seeing our children grow and learn daily and be a part of that.  We run errands together and don't stress that they have appointments at different times.  We can school around that. 

HA!  We even homeschool year round because I happen to like staying inside some of those super hot days in the summer.  It also allows us to focus on different things at different times of the year.  Let's be honest- we have several learning struggles in our home from ADHD, dyslexia, auditory processing issues, sensory processing issues, and everything in between.  However, we can completely tailor everything we do to help our children as we school together. 
 I get to encourage my children in their learning throughout the day.  I get to see when and how they are making progress.  I also see the struggles up close.  It allows me to be "all in" and do my own research into how to help them and encourage them more. 
 We get to talk about world issues, community issues, and even our own family issues in real ways.  It does allow us to protect them from a lot as well, but not in the way most people think about.  It allows us to wait until their age is appropriate to share with them about things, but we do have real talks around the table about tough issues as well.  We are not here to completely shelter our children, but to prepare them for life through the lens of a relationship with Christ. 
 Let's be honest the field trips are great too! 
 It is something that started out as a necessity as our camp ministry life was so busy on weekends and summers we would practically never see our children.  Before we were married we talked that if it was at all possible one of us should stay home with our children.  It was a conscience decision that we both felt strongly about.  We wanted to spend time with our children and be there for them as our parents had done for us. 
Is it easy?  Does it all get done every day?  Is it perfect?  Do we always enjoy it?  The answers are a resounding no. 

Every time Jason and I speak about it though our hearts come back to the huge privilege we have.  The privilege of bonding as a family, doing projects together, teaching in and out of the "classroom", creating fun memories, and being able to be there for our children.  So even though it isn't perfect it is ours- together! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Daily Manna

 Exodus 35 talks about manna which was a (vs. 31) "It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey".  I was thinking in my mind as I read this passage a few things that really hit me. 
 The first thing is that it stated over and over that God heard their grumbling.  I thought- now that I can relate to!  I know what it means to have escaped the slavery of sin and yet I still grumble.  I may not like the way my child is behaving, or the fact that I didn't get something I wanted, or maybe I want my own heart to change quickly and I feel like I am at war within myself.

But in this passage it says God heard their grumbling.  He didn't condemn them or tell them to shut up.  He heard them and took action.  What a mighty God to think that He hears us even in our grumbling.  In our "sour" attitudes He still listens.  Even when we continue to sin God loves us where we are.

Side note:  Maybe he gave them a sweet bread so it would sweeten their attitudes ;). 
 They could gather only enough for the day.  No more and no less.  God provided their "daily" needs.  He didn't say gather enough for the year or for a month, but only a day.  If they did try to gather more- by morning it was filled with maggots.  Sounds yummy.  The only exception was the day before Sabbath they were to gather twice as much so that they didn't have to work on the Sabbath.

Another thing to note is that everyone had to same amount.  It was equal (vs.16-18) "This is what the Lord has commanded:'Everyone is to gather as much as they need.  Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'"  The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.  And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much and the one who gathered little did not have too little.  Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed."

It blows my mind that God created a specific bread for them to eat that "just appeared" every morning and then melted away when the noon sun came up.  It is crazy!

The other crazy part is that they ate this manna for 40 years!  Now we just got done fasting with our church family and I admit I grumbled sometimes to myself that would sure be great right now.  I wish I could.  Then I would try to refresh myself with prayer and asking God to be my everything.  To fill the "voids" I think I have in my life.

The Isrealites ate manna for 40 years!  Now it may have been great, but that is pretty ummm.....repetitive.  I know because of the other circumstances of not thinking they could take the promised land that they were kind of stuck in the desert for that time.  However it really was a time of refining.  Refining of the people God had chosen.  They had to learn to trust God with everything. 

So in this year of healing I am thinking of refining.  Refining who God wants me to be.  What is His desire for me?  It isn't something I can do, but rather something I can get only from Him daily.  I can't take it on myself, or try to do it all on my own because like the manna it is provided by Him and I can only do today what God has directed.  I can't create days, hours, or even seconds.....I can only live by His sweet provision for today and do my best.