Sunday, May 30, 2010

Good Grief

On this Memorial Day Weekend, I thought it timely to share this fantastic message about grief. In the past year friends have lost grandparents, spouses, parents, pets, homes, jobs, health. There is a lot in this life for us to grieve...

Good Grief by Vance Pitman

http://www.hopebaptistchurch.com/sermonserieslibrary
Scroll all the way to the bottom - last message on the page.

Definition of grief: Intense sadness and great sorrow that results from a loss (whether that be death of a dream, loss of a relationship or person in your life, loss of a job, loss of your health, loss of life as you knew it).


Four realities about grief:
1. Grief is inevitable
2. Grief is temporary
3. Grief has meaning
4. Grief is ultimately turned to joy

*Note - The pastor does talk about the labor pains of women and gives an example of his wife going through birth. Should this be a sensitive topic for you, you may not want to listen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Do The Next Thing

What do you do when you face a crisis?

Cry? Pray? Scream? Stress? Worry?


Elisabeth Elliot faced a crisis when her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed while they lived in a remote jungle village as missionaries. Elisabeth tells of wondering what she should do after getting the news. She had a 10-month-old baby to care for and a village of new believers. She was left without a husband, her baby without a dad and the villagers without a leader.

In Elisabeth's writings she references the following poem as something that guided her during a time of crisis. So whether it's unwanted waiting, moments of madness, deep despair, unexpected chaos, 
crazy days of motherhood,or life-changing crisis, we can all take guidance from the wise words of Do The Next Thing.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “Do the Next Thing.”
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.
Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.
Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be they demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

I've linked to an Elisabeth Elliott newsletter. It includes the Do The Next Thing poem as well as some of her thoughts on waiting...I thought it was worth the read.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pink

I cannot stop the flow of tears as I write this. In exactly two minutes my dear friend Meredith will begin pre-op for her surgery scheduled at 4 p.m. CST. As I mentioned in this post, my world has been bombarded with cancer lately.

Just 12 days ago Meredith was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2 1/2 hours she will undergo a double mastectomy.

I sit here typing while wearing a pink shirt (given to me by Meredith). There is pink all over Minneapolis today as we think of and pray for our friend.

I don't know why I haven't really cried until today, but now I do. Maybe because I'm sad that my friend has to face this trial. Maybe it's because she's already faced SO many trials.

Meredith endured years of infertility. Meredith's mom lost her battle to cancer with Meredith at her side. Meredith adopted her daughter Gracie. Went on to conceive Isaac (her miracle baby) through IVF. Meredith is now in the process of adopting their son Matty who came to them through foster care more than two years ago.

I've known Meredith as a friend for years, but God led me to work with her part-time for a season. What a blessing that was...because on my hard days during my years of waiting, the listening ear across the room from me was from someone who knew the pain I was enduring.

Meredith is the one who sobbed her eyes out in August of '08 when I told her I had finally conceived. Meredith is the one who was waiting for me at my home when Ryan and I returned from our ultrasound and discovered our baby had died.

Meredith is the person I called when I was going to meet our birth mom. She walked me through what to say, what not to say, and encouraged me as I began my adoption journey.

Meredith has loved me, prayed for me, supported me, and cheered me on.

So today I wear pink in honor of my friend who is courageously facing yet another trial. I am begging and pleading with God to rid her body of cancer TODAY. I am praying for a successful surgery. I am praying for her mind and emotions as she deals with a new body. I am praying for a recovery filled with encouragement and hope. I am praying that our BIG God would do more than we can ask or imagine.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Me Monday

Every Monday Mckmama features Not Me Monday on her blog. I'm not officially including myself in her link list, but I do have a few things to contribute so I thought I would post my own first-ever Not Me Monday.

Here goes:

It was not me who tried to put Samuel in Lauren's car seat.

It was not me who gave Lauren Samuel's sloppy joe. And she had it in her hand before I realized it.

It was not me who watched my son drink water from the inflatable pool - cup after cup after cup. And really didn't care. Although I did try to scoop out the dead bugs so he wouldn't drink those.

It was not me who slept on the couch one morning while Samuel watched a Praise Baby DVD. I was soooo tired.

It was not me who pouted all day Saturday that we couldn't celebrate my dad's birthday with my family because both kids were sick.

It was not me who made my son sit by me and watch Friday Night Lights on Friday. Simply because it's my all-time favorite show and it's on at 7 and Samuel doesn't go to bed until 7:30/8:00. But hey, it's football right?

It was not me who spilled breast milk on my shirt while I was pumping because I was dancing to "Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog" with Samuel.

Nope, not me!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Worthy of our praise

This morning we sang Hallelujah in our worship service. I CANNOT stop thinking about this song. Whenever I hear it, everything in me wants to drop to my knees in worship. Or jump to my feet and raise my hands high.

Here are the lyrics:
Hallelujah, hallelujah
You are worthy, of our praise (repeat)

Be high and lifted up
Be high and lifted up
Be high and lifted up, Jesus

It's You we glorify
It's You we're lifting high
Your name be glorified

As I listen - if I truly let the words sink in and wash over me - they are cleansing to my soul. The words wash out the selfishness in me. The anger. The fear. The sadness. The anxiety. The critical spirit. The self-centeredness. The doubt. The despair. Because these words are not about me. They're all about Him. And sometimes I needed to be reminded that life is not about me.

These words make me want to cry or scream or shout or weep or cheer. I want God's name to be glorified. I want to lift Him high....simply because He is worthy of our praise.

I found the following video of Hallelujah and it includes numerous verses that focus on praising, worshiping and bringing glory to God. I keep watching it over and over again.

Take a few minutes (right now if you can) and turn the music up. I mean UP. Forget everything around you and either get on your knees or jump to your feet. 

Because He is worthy friends. He is WORTHY.

Read

Hallelujah Lyrics

here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A day in the life

A (Fri)day in the life of a mom with two under two...

I showered and dressed with my daughter and son in the bathroom

I discovered a little too late that Lauren ate part of the library's Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?

I discovered a little too late that Samuel is more interested in eating the washable Crayola markers than coloring with them

I cleaned puke off of an Easter bunny because it's my son's favorite stuffed animal

I wiped countless runny noses

I changed four poopy diapers

I put a crib sheet on my head over and over again because it made my son laugh

I ate my lunch (leftover pancakes) at 1:30 while standing at the stove preparing our dinner

I was up from 2-3 a.m. with my daughter (trying to figure out why she was awake and crying)

I observed my son placing my nipple shields on his chest like he sees mommy doing (if you don't know what those are just skip to the next one)

I resigned to the fact that all four members of my family ate dinner at different times tonight over the course of one hour

I heard myself say, "Samuel don't eat _______ (chap stick, deodorant, shaving cream, lotion, marker, whatever that dried piece of food is on the floor)

All in a day's work...I don't love every moment, but I love my life and my blessings more than words can say.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do it now

Ryan and I are part of a small group of couples from our church that meet Tuesday nights. Right now we are discussing finances. 

Ryan shared this week about a friend of his who once told him, "I'll start giving (money) when I make more (money)."

Ryan's response? "No you won't. If you don't start giving now, chances are you never will."

A friend once told me that when she had kids she would start going to church so they could be in Sunday School. At the time I thought the same thing Ryan did, but I'm pretty sure I didn't say that. I should have said, "No you won't. If you're not committed to finding a church and going weekly now, chances are you never will."

Now that I have little ones, it is quite challenging to get everyone up and out the door on Sunday mornings. If Ryan and I hadn't made a commitment to be involved at church before we had children, it would be that much harder when kids are sick, parents are sleep-deprived and a morning at home is too tempting to resist.

Often newlyweds make financial decisions in their pre-kid years that prevent the wife from staying at home once they are blessed with babies (if this is what she would choose to do). They have two incomes so they spend, spend, spend: vacations, news cars, new homes, eating out, latest fashions....

While it would be easy to cast judgment, that is certainly not my intent.

What I want to say is this: Do It Now.

Whatever 'it' is for you.

If you hope to give money to a worthy cause someday, start giving now. Adopt a child through an organization like World Vision or find a local non-profit to give a donation to. Start small and you can still make a big impact.

If you hope to attend a church or get involved in a group at your current church, take steps toward making that happen now. Go online, ask some questions, talk with a neighbor or friend. Check out churches in your community.

If you want to be a stay-at-home mom someday, make wise choices now. Develop habits that teach you to limit your spending. Buy less house than you can afford. Purchase previously owned vehicles with low monthly payments and lower insurance. Pay down your debt. That one is worth repeating: pay down your debt.

These are three examples that came to mind, but there are so many more situations out there that this could apply to.

So whatever it is, do something. And do it now. 

You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birth moms and babies

Last week Jeremiah 29:11 took her little guy Thomas home from the hospital.

My friend K also took her baby home from the hospital.

Both have waited years to become a mom so it is quite fun to see pictures and read what is happening because of the miracle of adoption.

This week I am desperately praying for the two birth moms that helped make these dreams come true.

Having been through childbirth, I think of their bodies and all they are adjusting to after labor and delivery. Their milk comes in, their muscles are sore, the after-care and healing that needs to take place. The crazy hormones that come on so rapidly.

What I am praying is that as these physical changes happen with their body, they would remain steadfast in their decision to follow through with their adoption plan.

I am praying that they would sign the consent form and that God would give them peace about their decision.

While they lay in bed at night wondering about the baby they just gave birth to, I am praying God's presence would overwhelm them and their family would surround them to remind them they made the right decision. 

That's what I'm praying for these families, birth moms and babies. Oh Lord, hear our prayers. Bless these families. We praise you for these little miracles and we trust you for their futures.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cancer

Cancer.

I've been consumed by this word lately.

On May 7 a close friend got the news that her mom has breast cancer. I was there when she got the call from her parents. I saw the tears. I felt the pain. I listened to her as she processed.

On May 14 a dear friend got the call that told her the news she never wanted to hear: she has breast cancer.

This week another friend is waiting for the call that will tell her the results of her mammogram last week. Her husband is currently in remission from testicular cancer.

Another friend's husband has been fighting colon cancer since October.

My friend's dad lost his battle with cancer on May 2.

My dad has surgery a couple weeks ago to remove a number of cancerous spots on his skin.

Cancer is everywhere. And I hate it.

Tests. Results. Surgeons. Phone calls. Chemo. Radiation. Fear. Anxiety. Uncertainties.

This past week I received a number of e-mail updates from those fighting cancer and it seems this journey is filled with so many questions: How bad? How much? When? For how long?

There are a lot of questions, and not a lot of answers. The unknowns are overwhelming at times.

As I have been thinking about and praying for my friends, these words from Isaiah 43 keep coming to mind...

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

I am holding tightly to these promises for my friends and loved ones.

I am clinging to the knowledge that He is with them.

I am believing that God is working His good in these ugly situations.

I am trusting that He will bring beauty from the ashes that cancer leaves behind.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Silly Sam

Samuel is so full of life, energy and HUMOR! He always has us laughing with his crazy antics (even when he puts his grapes in his hair or climbs on the table at Dairy Queen). His facial expressions are so fun to see. He is our little man, our Silly Sam.






Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
It's been a long time since I've written you a letter. But tonight as I was driving home from our busy day, I knew I wanted to write what was on my heart. 

Today is Mother's Day and I couldn't be more proud to be your mama. For 19 months I've had the incredible privilege of being a mom and it's hard to put words to how I feel about that.

You are my son. You are my oldest and therefore you hold a very special place in my heart. You are my miracle man.

I don't ever want to forget these days with you, yet it seems they are going by so fast. Too fast. You are growing and changing and learning so quickly.

Today you said three new words: Aaron, Lauren, and Boat (when you saw Grandpa's pontoon). Every day I hear new words and it's music to my ears...unless you're repeating things I say like 'nasty' or 'oh, shoot.'

I love your tender heart Samuel. You have such a soft spot for your sister. You give her hugs and kisses. You love teddy bears, satin blankets and anything soft. You fold your hands when we pray and you try to close at least one eye (but you're so curious that I like to peak at you and watch you look at everyone else while we pray).

Yet you are SO full of energy and life. You do nothing halfheartedly. You play hard. Eat fast. Sleep long. You give whatever you're doing all you've got. And I pray that you will always do that.

Today was a very full day. We went to church. Ate lunch and napped at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Played outside. Went to the mall. And you loved every minute of it all. No matter where we are or what we're doing, it's as if you wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Tonight we read Night Night Prayers before bed. We rocked and I read. Then I held you and sang Jesus Loves You while you put your head on my shoulder. Then I prayed over you that the Lord would use your tender heart and amazing energy for His glory. That your identity would be found in Him alone. That truth would reign in your heart and mind. I thanked God for the awesome privilege of being your mom.

I won't ever forget that being your mom is a gift Samuel. That's why today I celebrate you my little man. A gift dropped out of heaven and into my life 19 months ago. Mother's Day is about moms and today I am so blessed and so grateful to be your mom.

I love you Samuel,
Mom

He settles the barren woman

Praying for you Ann, Marie, Kim, Melissa, Joanna, Rachel, Candice, Anonymous, Becky, Allison, Maria and along with you Jamila.

I am claiming this promise for each one of you:
He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. Psalm 113:9

May God protect your tender hearts and grant you small moments of joy today.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Prayer for Mother's Day?

Mother's Day is just four days away.

In my experience, this can be one of the absolutely hardest days of the year if your journey to motherhood has become more about pain, loss and waiting, than anticipation, excitement and celebration. You can read here what I wrote last year about Mother's Day.

It's for these days, weeks, months and seasons, that I am so thankful for the following promise:

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17  

This passage is loaded with truth, hope and encouragement. God is with me. God takes great delight in me. God can quiet my tender heart with his love. God rejoices over me with singing.

I got an e-mail from Sarah's Laughter offering prayer for anyone who would like it on Mother's Day. I thought it was such a great idea, that I'd like to do the same for any of my readers who are dreading Mother's Day. 

Would you like me to pray for you on Mother's Day? I would consider it a privilege to lift you up in prayer throughout the day. I'll be praying for God's grace to sustain you, His love to surround you, His presence to comfort you and His hope to encourage you.

Please leave your name in the comment section. If you would like to include any specific information beyond your name, feel free. And if you'd like to remain anonymous, that's just fine. God knows who I'm praying for and what your needs are.

While the world celebrates mother's on Sunday, know that God is delighting in you, singing over you and continuing to unfold His perfect plan for YOUR life....one beautiful day at a time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Join me in praying

Recently I started praying for my 'blogger friends' (who are waiting) while I'm in the shower. No idea why I chose that time of the day, but I did and it's working well. Maybe because distractions are at a minimum in the shower :) I go through their names and ask God to bring them babies...through pregnancy, adoption, or foster care - however He sees fit.

Would you please join me in praying for these sweet gals whom I've never met? They have followed my journey with Samuel and Lauren and have been a wonderful source of support and encouragement to me. They are all in the midst of God answering their prayers in BIG ways.

Jeremiah 29:11
She and her husband met with a birth mom tonight who has chosen them to be the adoptive parents for her baby. The birth mom is getting induced tomorrow.They will become parents overnight - I LOVE when God does that!!

Sew Infertile
Sew miscarried last July and just got a positive test result again this week. She has had a long road to motherhood, but has been so faithful in choosing to get her body healthy and pursuing natural methods of conception.

Stacey
Stacey is about half way through her 7th pregnancy after six miscarriages. I have so enjoyed learning and growing from Stacey and I am praising God for the little life growing inside of her.

Please join me in praying for these ladies, for their future families and for God to guide every step, every day of their pregnancy or adoption. It does my heart and soul good to see God answer these prayers.

Be encouraged friends: He is listening. He is active. He is moving mountains. All in His timing.


Loveable Lauren

These days Lauren is just so...loveable















If I could freeze time right now for Lauren I would. This is my FAVORITE stage...6-9 months. I don't think I knew with Samuel it was my favorite because I hadn't experienced anything else. I think babies start out hard, get easier and then get harder again for awhile.

I say that with all my 19 months of motherhood experience :)























Right now we are in the easy stage: no more swaddle, no more night wakings, 11 hours of sleep, two naps of 1 1/2-2 hours, 4 feedings a day, 3 meals of baby food, laughter, smiles, and all around contentment as long as she has something in her hand to suck on.






















Yes, in her hand is a baby shampoo bottle. Both kids loved sucking on those. It works and it makes her happy and it's sanitized. Gotta love cheap toys....


Lauren's big blue eyes continue to draw many comments from strangers. She got her first tooth on Monday. She can sit up great. She doesn't crawl yet and I'm hoping she won't for a couple more months (yeah, right).
 






















Lauren is a light in my life. My sweet baby girl. She is adored by her dad, her brother and a bundle of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

So loveable she is.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Federal Adoption Tax CREDIT

Thanks Michelle for your recent comment! It reminded me that I've been meaning to post something about the cost of adoption that I didn't understand until recently. 

In case you missed it, here is a run down of our adoption expenses (keep in mind this total is higher if you go through an agency to find a birth mom versus agreeing to adopt a baby through a family or friend): Adoption price tag

In that post I also include some links for loans, grants, etc.

The part that I want to point out is the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. The 2009 Tax Credit for adoption was $12,150. That is not a deduction friends, that is a credit. And credit is MONEY IN YOUR POCKET.

If you typically owe money for taxes, this credit would reduce what you pay. If you typically receive a tax rebate, your check will probably be higher than it has ever been before. 

I did not understand this until we did our taxes this year (even though Samuel was born in '08 since his Gotcha Day was in '09 it went on our 2009 taxes...as did Lauren's birth - crazy!).

The adoption credit was set to expire in December of this year, but the credit was extended with the new health care bill. Now it is set to expire at the end of 2011. The the current credit is $13,170. So NOW is the time to adopt if you are considering it! If you need to borrow money from a friend/family member or take out a loan to cover adoption expenses, please know that you will receive a tax credit to help pay back the money you borrowed.

I THINK I'm explaining this correctly from what I understand. If anyone has a better understanding or additional information, please share. I desperately hope that no one will rule out adoption because of the cost.