with full hands

In my current life stage . . . one full of dirty diapers and snotty noses and lots of hugs . . . I often need a perspective adjustment. When I look around me it is oh so often that my eyes get stuck on a sink full of dirty dishes and fail to keep the big picture in mind. I fail to remember that my children are eternal beings. When it feels like all I can do to keep them alive until Daddy gets home I am often stopped in my tracks by something small that refocuses my perspective. I Instagram these moments sometimes. . .not because YOU need to know but because something about writing it down and putting it out there forces me to let the moment sink in. Putting it out there holds me accountable to standing in truth. Moments like these. . .

IMG_0467

This is not a mess… It is evidence of a 2 year old imagination and life well lived. #itsallaboutperspective

IMG_3152

My sewing, the oldest’s crafting, a bowl of milk from cereal and the beginning of notes about a child we said yes to this morning but will be staying in another home. It might look a mess but this is the good stuff. #fostercare

IMG_3104

When I stumble upon scenes like this I have a choice. I can frown at the mess or I can smile at evidence of child’s play and creativity. I too often make the first choice but I am choosing the second today. #rockinggiraffedressup

photo

I am reading the above book. It holds nothing crazy new for me. . . but some really great reminders and is very encouraging. Really good perspective. Quite often in public I hear, “you’ve got your hands full!” And my sensitive heart can so often hear, “You’ve got some unruly kids and WHAT are you thinking taking them in public???” I am working on CHOOSING to hear, “you have your hands full of blessings.” Because it is true. My hands are overflowing. And while parenting is nothing if not humbling, I never want to be out of touch with the reality that this thing I am doing is such an honor.

“There is more to be said about a mother’s work than the fact that it is hard and that it is never done. There is beauty and brilliance and God-given dignity to a mother’s work.” Gloria Furman

October 24, 2014   Comments Off

The hard parts. . .

I have three kids. The other day I was writing our adoption profile and it felt just so wrong to only talk about my two children. Because I have three kids. My youngest daughter is woven into my heart.

I have written a few posts now about her future. . . but I just don’t want to publish them. So I am not. (novel concept huh?)

Anywhoo. . . this is what I want to tell you. I love this child. And her future is uncertain. But some things are certain. About some things I am sure. I am not promised a tomorrow with any of my children. I am just not. None of us are. Second. . . I am convinced that God is trustworthy. And parenting and loving and cherishing all of my children requires me to trust He who is trustworthy. Because there isn’t another option. This is the answer to all the questions. . . How can you open your heart to these kids? How do you not become attached (hint: you do)? Are you afraid to have your/your kid’s heartbroken? Heart break is guaranteed. My heart is broken for a little girl who stayed in our home for 24 hours this past weekend. My heart is broken for the parents of our SBG and the brokenness in their lives that keeps them from being able to raise this baby whom we love. But I am certain Jesus is big enough for broken hearts.

That aaaaand this:

IMG_3112

Jonathan and I semi regularly talk about our dreams for our kids. And I should clarify. . we are not talking Harvard or a MD or whatever. . . we dream about WHO we want our kids to be. About their character. Among many other things. . . we want our children to be compassionate. We certainly struggle with fears regarding our kids. . . how will all this affect them? How are they going to process heartache and what if other kids hurt them? But you know what I am more afraid of? I am afraid they won’t be affected. I am afraid of who they would become if they were sheltered from this. My kids are being exposed to brokenness in a way they can relate to. They are engaging the heartache of another child and learning to offer comfort. They are praying for children with real names and faces. And they are getting it. The are experiencing Jesus. They are learning to trust Him. They are learning what it looks like to serve and sacrifice for others. To live with less so other’s can have more. And I will end with the words of my daughter, “I want all the kids to come live with us.”

October 10, 2014   Comments Off

so this is foster care. . .

IMG_6116

IMG_6078

This weekend was good. and weird. and. . . .

We traded babysitting with friends. Dear friends who have had background checks so they can watch our sweet baby girl. There seems to be extra red tape in just about every area of life. Sometimes good red tape. Sometimes it’s just sticky. Anywhoo. . . we watched their kids Friday night and they watched ours Saturday. That arrangement is a wonderful thing my friends. Free babysitting and happy kids who spend the weekend with their friends.

On Saturday morning I got a call from our worker asking us if we would take a 3 year old girl who was placed in PPC (police protective custody). I hung up with her and Jonathan and I talked about it and called her back with our Yes. Another family had said yes right before us so she went to that home instead.

In the afternoon we went apple picking. Evie picks apples and hands them to Connor who walks around with apples in both fists eating his heart out. Jonathan filled our bag and I wore the baby and snapped a bunch of over-exposed pictures. Fruit picking is becoming a seasonal favorite for our family.

Saturday evening Jonathan and I went on a picnic date. It was fun and perfect and felt like when we were dating and couldn’t afford dinner in a restaurant. He asked me to share my dreams with him and we dreamed and talked and just were. It was pretty great.

Sunday morning was typical. Church and a meeting afterwards. Home for lunch and we received a call asking if we would take 2 brothers ages 2 and 4 who were in PPC. The once sentence story we received about them tore my heart out of my chest. I told my worker I would talk to Jonathan and call her back. My ever-wise husband had me look at the calendar and honestly answer the question “can you handle taking 5 kids under 4 to the commitments you have going on, plus whatever these boys might have” and as I thought through the logistics of maneuvering busy parking lots I knew what he was hinting at was right. I couldn’t safely care for all of them. So we said no. My worker said they might have to split them up because they couldn’t find a home and if so would we take one? Jonathan’s response (I LOVE this man) was “No. Do not split them. If you can’t find a home together for them call us back.”

Then another hour passed and our worker called me back. “It’s been quite the weekend” she said. She was calling this time about a 5 year old girl who needed placement overnight (they found a home for the boys). We said yes and she came a couple of hours later. And she is a sweet girl. Inquisitive and energetic. It’s scary sleeping in a new house and a strange bed. But she slept. And our home is full. And my heart? It is full. And heavy. And having a hard time maneuvering our new normal. A new normal that includes having a small moment in a child’s life. A normal that includes walking our bio kiddos through other children in our home and then gone maybe to never be seen by us again. Lots of thoughts swirling in my brain. I’ll share when I sort them out.

October 8, 2014   Comments Off

Van Winkle party of FIVE

We had been foster parents for 1 week when we got a call. Our worker called and I could almost feel her excitement for us over the phone. She said a 1 month old baby girl needed placement and her case looked likely for adoption, do we want her? She shared what she knew about her story and I sat down and tears filled my eyes. God’s hand in preparing our family for this child is so clear. I just. can’t. even.

I felt caught off guard. . we had only been foster parents for a week and we had been told again and again to not to expect a young baby and not to expect any potential adoptive placement to happen quickly. But here we were. So I called Jonathan with the information I had about her at the time and we decided to say Yes.

Two hours later she was here. Her case worker dropped her off with all her belongings (quite a bit for a 5 week old!) and a few minutes later left. I felt a little like when we left the hospital with our oldest. . . like shocked that it’s just us and this baby and apparently we had been deemed trustworthy enough to parent her. Our family gathered in the living room and oohed and ahhed over this perfect baby girl asleep in her car seat.

And our hearts swelled. And we have spent the last 7 weeks falling in love with her. Sweet Baby Girl (whom shall henceforth be SBG here) is by far my easiest baby. She sleeps through the night, is hardly ever fussy, and is just all around a joyous baby. She comes with a lot of appointments. . . and that part has been more trying. Three young kids in a doctor’s office waiting room for an hour is my idea of a good time- said no one ever. But watcha gonna do. I am getting better at managing those things which greatly diminishes the stress :)

Our bio kids are in love with her. Her name has become one of Connor’s most frequently spoken words. Evie wants to hold her and give her bottles and call her “my baby”. They went through typical new sibling addition transitional stuff. . . but otherwise are doing really well.

So all that to say. . .Van Winkle. . . party of FIVE!

IMG_6127

October 7, 2014   Comments Off

because God set’s the lonely in families

Our family’s journey to adoption started long before we were a family. I actually cannot remember when I knew my family wouldn’t be pieced together in the traditional way. Jonathan’s story is similar. We both feel drawn to the redemptive beauty of adoption.

Over the years our picture of what adoption would look like for our family has shifted and changed. If you asked me at any point in the past 15 years to describe what I would see in my future family, I would have at different points described children from many nations, ethnicity and backgrounds. The only constant was the presence of a child or children not born from my body. We have watched other families form through different avenues and soaked in their experiences. Without clarity we prayed and continued to walk forward.

Probably about 5 years ago I remember our Pastor talking about orphan care and he said something that was profound for me at the time. He said, “I don’t want to take away from adoption, it is a good thing. But at the point in which a child needs to be adopted, the church has failed that family and that child.” And my brain started spinning. Honestly, it took me the next couple of years to process that statement and be able to answer the question, “then what?” I started reading and asking different questions. I learned something that should have been right in front of my face the whole time- adoption is surrounded by incredible loss. Up until this time, I was pretty focused on the beauty and redemptive part of an adopted story, and pretty ignorant to the reality. Because friends, the truth is, we were created to live within families. And not just that, we were created to live within the family God placed us in. Anything short of that is covered in heartache. For a long time I felt immobilized by this reality. Overwhelmed. Over time, God prodded Jonathan and I to begin to seek our part. I love the quote, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe. So we took a step forward.

Foster care. At this point, we had been feeling pretty sure we were headed in the direction of a domestic adoption. We knew there were kids in our community falling through the cracks. We believe with our whole hearts that the BEST for any child is to grow up in their biological family if at all possible. We wanted to stand in the gap where we could and fight for families. We also knew, that in this world, sometimes things are just too broken and family cannot be preserved. We spent a year praying and waiting for our son to grow and when we felt ready at the beginning of this year, I made a phone call. We had decided to adopt through foster care and seek how we could serve within the system. We began a lengthy training process during which we decided to provide respite care, which is short-term care for kiddos whose foster parents need a break or are traveling, ect. We dove into the licensing process and are thrilled to be on the other side.

So there it is. A beginning. More to come.

August 27, 2014   Comments Off

some bits about my daughter

Oh my. Often. . . that is my response to my daughter’s antics. She is a little girl who knows her own mind. And I love it.

IMG_1642

Watching her grow up is a joy. Really. Big victories for her. She has been growing in courage, going to Super Church on Sunday mornings without tears. She is as quick to encourage others as I have ever seen. She is tender hearted and loves big. I am so very proud of her. There are other signs of growing up that I wish weren’t happening. Like helping herself to ‘snacks’ and ‘trying to make dinner’. These instances have resulted in 4 sticks of butter being fed to our dogs, a bag of soup I had defrosting on the counter landing open on the floor, and finding a random slice of cold pizza on the sofa after returning from putting her to bed. :)

Another non favorite. . . giving up naps. She is perhaps ready (I say that against my will- and ready or not I will be maintaining ‘quiet time’ at our house in the afternoon) but this week after 5 days of not napping. . . she did this late Saturday afternoon.

IMG_1722

The other night about an hour after her bedtime I was in our basement doing laundry and came upstairs to find her out of bed. While I was tucking her back in we had this gem of a conversation.

Me: Evie, why are you not sleeping?
Evie: Moooom (said with the tone of a teenager), Sleeping makes you grow big and strong, and I want to be little like Connor.
Me: I see.

She teaches me so much. A few weeks ago at bedtime we were reading the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. She asked a lot of detailed questions and therefore received more detailed answers which gave her a clearer picture than she has previously understood in regards to the cost of our sin. What it cost to restore our broken relationship with God. She was showing me how Jesus’ hands were nailed. . . and looked up at me and said, “Momma, I don’t want that to happen to me” (and for the sake of clarity, she was not scared. This was still a very age appropriate conversation). I have known this story for my entire living memory. I have heard sermons, read books, watched movies and generally encountered this moment in history more times that I could possibly count. But my sweet girl. . . she made it new again for me. This tiny shift in perspective, that His body beaten and bruised, torn apart, carried the cross they would nail Him to, and then as he took on the weight of my sin His own Father had to turn away from Him . . . should have been me. He paid my debt. She made me see with fresh eyes. And I am so thankful.

And because I never want to forget the days when, if given a choice in her foot ware for the day, she always chose boots.

IMG_1674

February 3, 2014   Comments Off

squirrel

I grew up in a bird feeding home. We had feeders in the trees off our deck which we would sit and watch from the kitchen table. I have many memories of Sunday morning breakfasts with us naming birds. We had a poster on the side of the fridge that had pictures of different finches and a small bird guide book. My brother and I rarely got along as children, but we did enjoy figuring out the identity of our bird friends together. I hope my children enjoy our feeders as we did.

If you feed birds, you feed squirrels as they steal from your birds. Squirrels scare birds. Birds fly away. You learn to despise squirrels. At least we did.

So we got a new feeder for Christmas. I had actually gotten the same one for my Mom for Mother’s Day last year and Evie loved it when we would visit so she got us the same one. Jonathan and Evie put it up last weekend.

IMG_1628

Then yesterday Evie yelled, “Mom, SQUIRREL!” Her yelling scared it away. . . but we sat and watched armed with my phone to document the stinker when it came back. And it did.

IMG_1644

IMG_1645

IMG_1646

IMG_1651

IMG_1649

IMG_1650

After documenting we pounded on the window and the squirrel left. He hasn’t been seen again. Maybe he got the message. . . but more likely we need to move the feeder higher.

I sent this video to my family over the holidays and we laughed . . . squirrel launcher

Judge us if you want. . .but being part of this family includes loving birds and hating squirrels.

January 21, 2014   Comments Off

on my birthday

Today I am 30. So some random thoughts on my birthday. . .

But it isn’t my birthday (and a landmark one at that) freaking me out. It’s my kids. They grow up SO FAST. Connor will be 1 in less than a month (whaaaat?). My baby no longer a baby. I was folding laundry last night and held up a set of Evie’s pajamas and they are so big. She is so big. Who told them they were allowed to grow up?  Seriously people, I want names.

I am not a big birthday kind of gal. My birthday’s right after Christmas and for some other reasons growing up and now. . . my birthday just never has seemed like a big deal. Everyone is still detoxing from the holidays and a little celebrated out. Including me. A few friends wanted me to have a party this year (because it is my 30th after all) but I’m just not the party type so I said no. I did go out with them for a girls night on Saturday. . . which was way better than a party. I am pretty sure I have done nothing like that since I have been a mom. No out with girl friends without kids or some sort of agenda. We ate good food and drank a glass of wine and laughed and shared things from our hearts. It was good for my soul. I am thankful for them. . . these women God has put into my life who are more family then friends.

Jonathan asked me the other night if I was happy. And I am. I am blessed to know deep and real joy. I am thankful.

January 13, 2014   Comments Off

hello again. . .

I haven’t blogged in a long time. Umm. . .duh. But seriously I haven’t blogged in a long time. This spring I began feeling a lot of stress related to blogging. Silly, I know. I had placed goals oriented to consistency in blogging on myself that just lead to stress and feelings of failure when I didn’t live up to them. But I wasn’t living up to them for good reasons so I quit blogging for a while. For those who noticed I stopped blogging and quit Facebook at the same time and were concerned, thanks for reaching out :) All is well! The Facebook thing was a totally unrelated decision, I didn’t all together quit the internet!

All that to say. . .I am going to start blogging again. . . but with no expectations. I might blog 4 times in a week and then not again for another month and I am giving myself permission for that to be okay. I really have missed this outlet and Jonathan misses the way it records our life’s happenings (since I don’t scrap book or anything, this is it!)

If you read this, thanks for caring and sticking around!

xoxo,

Michelle

November 2, 2012   2 Comments

star spangled

I hope you had a good holiday yesterday. We enjoyed the day with good friends swimming, eating, and fireworking (I am aware fireworking’s not a word). It was a really good day.

I was surprised how well Genevieve did with the poppers and sparklers. She LOVED fireworks.

*************************************************************

Today I am thankful for true freedom.

July 5, 2012   Comments Off