Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Some December highlights to begin this post...

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

As we entered the Christmas season and I worked with our school's enrichment classes, I was priviledged to share with them some of the eternal truths set forth by the birth of one small baby in the most unlikely of places. The children's enthusiasm and their curiosity blessed me as we reconnected with these precious events. We have heard the story so many times, that sometimes in our worldliness, certainly not purposely, but often mistakenly, we overlook pieces simply because we know it so well.

One of our school principal's said it eloquently when he said, "It just doesn't make sense and perhaps that makes it all that much more special." Our journey of faith begins in that very stable, a barn. A stinky, messy barn... where greatness came into the world. And as I shared with the students, it was not for one of was for ALL of us.

So, this day...I wish you a Merry Christmas. A blessed, joyful day of celebrating the birth of our Savior. I pray you know Him and if by chance you don't, or you have a loved one who does not, leave me a message with your email. I will respond back to you privately.

All I really want for Christmas is for others to know Him and be freed by His love and grace. I am a child of the Almighty and thankful each and everyday for the mercies He showers upon His flock.

Blessings to you ~ and a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things!

I wish that time was everlasting and I could get here more often to post, but alas, time slips away and I find that our dear friend Face*book has sneakily stolen my mojo for blogging. Well, that and parenting and being a good wife and working and food shopping and activities...and doctor appointments and cleaning and planning and...oh, you know you are so there! :)

There is a huge blessing my lack of time. God has bestowed upon us many to love and much to do. So in this post, I will attempt to share some really great links and update you on our lil' family.

First things first...some friends, Lisa, Diana and Stefanie have combined their amazing pool of efforts (what a super talented trio of mamas this is!)for an awe-inspiring fundraiser to bless some fantastic organizations for causes near and dear to our hearts. Please, please visit their blogs often to be part of the Fill Their Stockings event.
Fill Their Stockings

Secondly, I am a huge fan of Wild Olive Tees. If you have never visited, you really must! One of my online friends is gearing up to bring home "Little 9" and
"Little 10"! Wild Olive is famous for designing precious tees to help benefit families becoming families :) They are committed to sharing scripture that conveniently enough, you can wear! This link will allow you to visit Love them Home to assist with Amie's fundraiser or you can link from her page to the Wild Olive site.

Third...yes, there is a third! Just ordered some new hair bling for my cutie pies and want to send a shout out to Kimberley, who is an awesome friend and a magnificent business woman! Sophia Jane Boutique is a great place to visit!

On the home front, the girls are keeping us on our toes. I struggle with the reality of how that time thing is working against us and growing them up before our very eyes!

Kindergarten happens to be one of Hannah's favorite things. When she isn't doing her newest love...HOMEWORK!... She is loving dance class and gymnastics. She has been a faithful member of the sidelines for all of Emily's activities, so it is fun to watch her emerge and find her own voice and passion.

Em has morphed into our music-ista! I think I very well may hear her flute in my sleep. Though she is ready to begin her second basketball season, her true loves come in the forms of singing, dancing and flouting :) As she sashays onto the court, we definitely have to remind her to keep her eye on the ball!

Me? I am blessed to be a mama first and foremost, I have a job I love, a Bible Study that helps me to smooth out all those rough edges, I am reading the Bible in a year, which is exhilarating (if you ever considered doing this...please, don't is lifechanging!) I have been a Bible believing Christian all my life, but it is amazing how disciplining oneself to read and study His Word everyday has monumental impact. We are so fortunate to have good friends and family to love on us. My nephew will graduate from University of Maryland this spring. We got to see him march in the marching band a few weeks back. It was, of course, the coldest, rainiest day of the season, but it could not dampen my spirits when a guard permitted me down to the band entrance so I could snap this great pic of our Andrew!

As I glance around, house not decorated yet, laundry waiting to be folded, stray mail askew on the counter and dishes needing to be cleaned, I count my blessings for the beautiful ways my life is filled with joy. I am humbled by the magnitude of what this month holds for us. I pray for you an Advent season filled with miraculous surprises and sweet treasures.

Hoping to be back soon... :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get Out Your Mustard Seed!

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

Emily loving on sweet Joshua James

Blessings to all of you who are praying for beautiful Joshua James...thank you! I wanted to provide a bit of an update. The short version is that Joshua is eating like a champion, completely loving his mommy and daddy and keeping them up at night. They have many doctor's appointments and much of their instruction will be "watch and wait". I am continuing to leave the details to the One who knows them all. But, please continue to pray and hold this precious family up.

Gerry and I have an easy, loving relationship. We were chatting today and another co-worker mentioned in those moments when the roller coaster dips deep into the bends and turns, we question our my faith enough? Quite honestly, I think BECAUSE our faith is so deep, we know that God is capable of that which we cannot understand or comprehend.

I thought of the mustard seed my dad brought me when I was a little girl. He had gone to a Christian men's retreat and when he returned home, he handed to me a small package. Inside, was a lovely little necklace, a bubble with a tiny seed inside and inscribed with the words, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed..."

Our faith is so much bigger than that mustard seed, but how comforting that if we have even that little bit of faith, mountains can be moved! I am anticipating the great things God is going to do in Joshua's life...get out your mustard seeds people and keep those prayers lifted high!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Joshua James

We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.” ~ Author unknown

I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I knew our friendship was forever, but I do remember vividly a phone call that forever changed our story.

We were deep in the throes of preparing to travel for Hannah. We knew that there was potential for Rob to travel alone, so we prayed mightily for God to do something different. Gerry had been my dear friend for several years. She is a confidante, a sister in Christ and a sweet treasure to my days.

One evening, our phone rang and after careful consideration, Jim and Gerry felt God's calling to help our little family. With Gerry's blessing, Jim readied to travel to China, with my husband, a man he had met only once.

We knew immediately there would never be any way we could repay the debt of Jim embracing this journey and, at times, challenge.


Gerry and Jim and their children and spouses and grandchildren are family to us.

So,I am asking you to please pray. Pray for sweet Joshua James, Gerry and Jim's newest family member :)

Joshua James was born September 13 at 8 pounds 15 ounces. His beginning to his precious life has been a bit bumpy...God knows the details. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for doctors, nurses and medical practitioners who will see this beautiful boy during these early days of his life. Please pray for Brie and Josh, Joshua's parents (Gerry and Jim's daughter and son-in-law), pray for Gerry and Jim and Josh's parents, Tammy and Paul. Pray for aunts and uncles and cousins. As moms and dads go, even though this is their first child, Brie and Josh are rock stars...Brie had a very long labor and has leaned heavily on the Lord's strength to heal and transition beautifully into her role as mommy. Josh, a strong man of God, is taking excellent care of his wife and son...

Joshua James is loved beyond measure...Brie has given me permission to post this petition because she wants her amazing son covered in as much prayer as possible.

Please join me in adding Joshua James to your prayer journals, prayer ministries and personal prayers. He is a strong, beautiful child of the Almighty and we rejoice in his arrival! We adore you, sweet boy!

Update: Joshua James is home from the hospital!
Prayers for a seamless transition.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Locks of Love - Love those Locks

Picture snapped by Kate at Max & Mimi Photography this summer

Redheads, I have learned, have an interesting existence. Rarely do we head to the grocery store, a restaurant or a walk around the neighborhood without the telltale comment, "Oooh, I love your hair." Emily has learned to navigate these comments sometimes even ducking away from well meaning hands, anxious to touch her little head. She has learned to thank people graciously for their compliments, and she has learned how to answer probing questions with great integrity.

Her hair is somewhat of a trademark, a vital piece of what makes her "Em".

So many women, mature in years, approach Emily with a certain smile, wistful look or memory knocking heavily at the door of their heart. They carefully extend themselves to her, reaching for the fiery tresses and gently caress her soft locks reclaiming a piece of themselves, now lost in the white mass that has replaced their own crimson coiffe. For just a moment, they are nine or twelve or twenty two or even thirty five...and Em has learned to grant them this joy.

Perhaps, that is why the decision to cut her hair was difficult for her. She knew without doubt that she wanted to send her hair to Locks of Love in hopes of blessing a child suffering, however, when faced with the cape and the chair, she declined the first try, "I am just not ready." Perhaps, Like Samson, she felt her strength would be compromised lacking the length she became used to. I, too, struggled with the permanency of a shorter do. What if we missed it? How would we get that thick hair into a ponytail??? It seems like such a silly thing to be concerned with.

And it was. God's greatest lessons often come in the small things, the things we think are important or the unknown we fail to trust Him in. Emily learned a really great lesson as she stepped away from the scissors the first time and then prayed for the "right time". She woke one morning a few weeks later, "Today is it!"

This summer on the beach - BEFORE

In the chair!

Because her hair was SO long, and SO thick, they formed two ponytails

The new do coming to life...

The final product!

Emily sent a total of 13 and some inches to Locks of Love. They were able send both ponytails. I love that she made the committment to do this and I loved some of the valuable lessons she has learned during these three long years of growing it! We are crazy about her new shorter hairstyle and I will be honest, mornings are a whole lot happier now! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

˜Twas the night before kindergarten and as they prepared,
kids were excited and a little bit scared.
They tossed and they turned about in their beds,
while visions of school supplies danced in their heads.
Erasers and crayons and pencils galore
were stuffed in their backpacks and set by the door.
Outfits were hung in closets with care,
knowing that kindergarten soon would be there.
In the morning it came school starts today!
Would the teacher be nice? Would they still get to play?
Faces were washed, and teeth were brushed white;
Kids posed for pictures with eyes sparkling bright.

Parents packed snacks and kids hopped in cars
As if they were boarding a spaceship to Mars.
Some kids brought blankets or their favorite stuffed bear;
in hopes they could nap like they did in day care.
Their parents exclaimed: You're big kids, "WOW!"
Let us hold your bears and blankies for now.
The parents were worried their children would cry
if they left them at school with just a good-bye.
So they told their darlings, "If you want, we can stay
and make sure that everything will be A-okay"
The teacher then greeted each one with a smile,
and invited the students to stay for a while.
The room was all filled with toys, books, and maps,
but where were the beds for midmorning naps?
They colored and painted and played Simon Says,
then tumbled and skipped and stood on their heads.
They sang silly songs from beginning to end.
Within just a minute, each kid had a friend.
The children were happy. They loved Miss Sunrise
It was she who was in for a giant surprise.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear
but sad moms and dads who were holding back tears!
Their noses “ so sniffly!" Their eyes “ red and wet!"
This was the saddest good-bye Miss Sunrise had seen yet!
She gathered the grown-ups on the magical rug,
then sent them away after one final hug.
The children all waved from the door of the school.
"Don't cry, Mom and Dad; kindergarten is cool!"
~Natasha Wing

And so it goes...tomorrow our baby goes to kindergarten! God bless you Hannah, Mommy, Daddy and Emily love you so much!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Not a vacation...

But a great place to visit ~ We are Grafted In is a wonderful resource for truths about life and about adoption. One of our posts is featured there now, feel free to visit and show some love :) Just click here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sakes alive...she is FIVE!

Happy Birthday Hannah Leigh.

Hannah had a great year at school this year. She had the same teacher that Emily had when she was four. This was so comforting to me. She is a lovely lady. Her heart is most definitely poised to honor each and every child in her classroom.

When it came time for Hannah's conference earlier this year, I was excited to hear about how she was doing. Her teacher smiled and informed me how wonderfully Hannah was doing, she was a good friend, very sweet, sings a lot, participates and has all of her developmental goals in place. But she added admittedly that at the beginning, she found Hannah "hard to read". Hannah can be quiet, contemplative and even aloof. If you don't know her, chances are you don't see how captivating she can be.

Mrs. H offered, "When I stopped expecting her to be something she is not, that is when we got to know each other." I feel like there was an enormous amount of wisdom in her statement. I am thankful she didn't keep hoping for Hannah to be something different than she is. Hannah is a little girl who takes her time to trust...but once she does, she does it with her whole heart. Hannah is a great sport. She takes disappointment with grace and dignity. She will sit through hours of her sister's activities without complaining or whining. She is honest...sometimes too honest ;) She has an amazing laugh and will try just about anything...I love her spirit of adventure! Hannah LOVES to shop! And she is an unbelievable prayer warrior...not a day goes by that I am not humbled by this precious child.

Hannah, we love you sweetheart, every beautiful part of you. You have always been a beautiful flower...blooming, blossoming, growing...ever changing to allow the sunshine in and to allow your roots to grow. We grow because of you.

Hannah with her sweet friend, Emma and her brother, Matthew and with Nan and Em

As she graduated from preschool last week, I kept wondering how she ever got so big. She chose her own outfit for the day. She selected special earrings and a special necklace. I watched as she carried herself with grace, walking to the front of the room to receive her diploma. Her teacher held her hands and said beautiful things about our little girl. Afterwards, some of her teachers tearily waved goodbye, remembering the "wait" and calling after us that she couldn't possibly be that old already. But, she is. And it is in those moments, those big, milestone moments, that I am overwhelmed by the reality of Hannah. I am thankful to one very special woman, who graciously afforded us the blessing of seeing Hannah grow into the girl God wants her to be. I look forward to all of these miraculous moments with joy and anticipation...happy fifth birthday Hannah! You are Mommy's sweet little ladybug and I adore you!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

And then, she was nine...

Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness.
-- Henri Frederic Amiel

Nine years ago, I had just begun labor. I was excited...electrically excited. Having lost Emily's twin early in the pregnancy, I just knew that she was going to be wildly wonderful and a survivor. What I did not bargain for was the way she would radically change absolutely everything. Emily entered this world on May 16th. A bundle of sheer joy with a cap of red hair and a smile she tried out at about five weeks old, Emily stole our hearts readily. She has been God's biggest miracle in our life.

It is no small thing that Emily is here. After the miscarriage of her twin, I was scheduled for a procedure to remove any scar tissue and make my uterus a kinder, happier place. We had no reason to believe there was any life remaining. However, the doctor requested an ultrasound to ensure the procedure was necessary. Part way through the ultrasound, the technician left the room and returned with a radiologist. The wand moved far enough for us to see the strong beating heart...we had lost one child, but God had spared the other. Thank you God!

Emily bound into this world with great joy. I don't think she has stopped smiling since then! Emily is obedient, almost to a fault. She believes in justice and desperately desires for justice to prevail. She is not at all afraid to share the love of Christ with others and she believes the best in people. Loyal and loving is how I would describe her. She adores her friends, and still has trouble naviagting some of the finer nuances of relationships. She gets completely intimidated if she feels something she has done may hurt a friend.

My very favorite Emily story happened when she was five. For Christmas, Emily asked to get her daddy a cross. I honored her request and got him a rather rustic cross. As a contractor, I knew he needed something that could withstand the dust, dirt and roughness he subjects his belongings to. He opened the gift and raved about it, but never wore it. About three months later, she asked him innocently why he never wore his beautiful cross.

His response,
"I am certainly not worthy to wear a cross."
Her response,
"That is exactly the point, dad! None of us are worthy..."

Not only was her daddy saved during this conversation, but his own spiritual journey began and it continues today.

Emily is a huge cheerleader. She lives out God's command to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who mourn. She loves the stage and gets a tremendous amount of joy from singing and dancing. Her favorite Bible story is Noah's Ark and she has many favorite scriptures, which she can recite easily. She and her dear, dear friend, Gabrielle have disciplined themselves to read and study the Bible. This past April we looked on as both girls achieved an Award in Excellence for completing their Awana books and also achieving a perfect completion on their Gold assignments. Of all of Emily's accomplishments, this, by far resonates loudly as the one I pray remains with her always...God's truths are eternal.

Em's funny bone is bigger than she is. She loves a good joke. We call her cute way of saying things her "emmyisms"...she has a ton of them! Before bed, every night Emily loves to snuggle, play a game and do her devotions. She does her homework without us asking and asks hard questions that we can't always answer. There are places in her life where she struggles, but she has always been willing to work hard to get where she needs to go. I remember when she could not figure out riding a, we can't catch her.

Soon, we will cut those long red locks and donate them to Locks*of*Love. Part of me can't wait...part of me wishes I could bottle her just as she is.

Em has made me see things in myself that I don't want to see. She keeps me humbled and accountable. I love that. With Chrohn's, the doctor advised me my pregnancy with Emily would either kill me or cure me...personally, I think Emily saved me. She is a gift that I desired my whole life and God was gracious enough to grant me the desires of my heart.

Today, her ninth birthday, I give thanks to a great big God who gave me a precious red haired little girl to love....Em, you are my sunshine, now and always.

Happy Birthday Emily Grace!! We love you!!

Friday, April 1, 2011


We are HUGE fans of the movie Tangled.

But I have to be honest, the night we saw it in the theater, Rob and I both had a reaction to it. Not the giggly, happy one. No. It was a sadness...a reality and I now know it was God preparing us for something important.

We are in the midst of celebrating four wonderful years with sweet Hannah. Last week we celebrated the day Hannah became formally, fully, no-looking-back, no worries, forever our family member. An extension of us, Hannah is here through the great providence of a God who knew this was where she belonged and she was the child to grow our little family. Those first six months were not easy, they were rich with joy and blessedness, but they were not easy. Hannah struggled to accept an older sister who she perceived to threaten her. She rebuffed Emily's advances for love and many times rejected her,leaving Emily confused and disappointed. In hindsight, I am able to see more clearly how this impacted our family and all of our relationships. The girls would need to grow into one another and Rob and I would be left to navigate some pretty bumpy terrain to ensure we honored both of our children and validated the deep well of emotions stirring about our home.

Needless to say, our growing pains were just that, opportunities for growth...for ALL of us. God answered so many questions during that time and honored ME, the mommy, the imperfect, undeserving mommy of these two amazing children with a heart able to love to depths I did not know existed. Our ability to love unconditionally was paramount to successfully nurturing these precious little people into familial health that might not otherwise have been. Rob and I stood united, despite the years of waiting and preparing, our true journey began the day our family expanded. Even the hard days, when tears outnumbered smiles and impatience gave way to loads of imperfect responses, God showed up, assuring us that the answers to our questions would always be enveloped in His Word and His promises. He has always been near, guiding and marking our steps, that in our obedience, fruit would be seen in our family unit.

More times than not, I forget that Hannah was adopted into our family. Barring the occasional crooked glance or inappropriate grocery line question, we are a normal, loving family. I know each curve and crease of Hannah's face just the same as I know her sister's. I feel her pain deeper, stronger, more intensely than she would like me to. Her contagious, infectious laugh comes straight from her belly, welling up loudly; I would know her laugh anywhere. Her little thumbnails have ridges and her skin becomes ashy if we do not moisturize it. She is bold and courageous and sometimes, she is scared, abandoning the survival skills she has worked so hard to protect.

Tangled. Somewhere in the midst of knowing all these things about Hannah, there is a truth that cannot be changed. My children's stories are different. Emily cringes at the real life answers that are shared with Hannah when she dares to ask the hard questions. Emily knows my knowledge of her differs from my knowledge of her sister. And so, when the movie came out on DVD, and two little people begged and pleaded to add it to their collection, I was torn. I liked the movie, but there was a reservation in my heart about exposing Hannah, yet again, to a storyline about a child being raised by anyone other than birthparents. (Annie, Despicable Me, etc.) Yet, we have always trusted that Hannah is just part of our family and we will handle the hard things as they come...I don't want to plant seeds that accentuate the vast expanse of their differences. So, yes...Flinn and Rapunzel live with us now.

For our first viewing at home, we were munching snacks and dancing around the family room, when Hannah became very quiet, sat in my lap and hugged me as tight as her little body can muster. With just a glance, she whispered, "I don't want to go back to China, ever." At the tender age of four, Hannah had connected the dots well enough to know Rapunzel went back to the parents who had birthed her. I knew God had instinctively given me a heart to prepare for this. Based on our initial feelings, we had prayed and readied for this. Though I thought it may come much later, I was rather shocked at her intuitiveness and quite honestly, it changes my prayer life regarding Hannah. Not all children deal the same, not all adoptions look the same, not a one of us will experience our situation in the same way. I share this here, in transparency and love, because there are truths in adoption that are real. But, joyfully God has prepared us for these moments. If we sustain our children in His truth, there is no subject matter too difficult for Him.

I am so thankful she does not view me as Mother Gothall ;) quite the opposite, Hannah wants to know that this is forever. And so, I assure her, as long as there is breath in my body, she is my daughter. Even if the Lord would choose to take me home, she remains my daughter. I love her and cherish her in the way that God designed parents to love their children. Her daddy feels exactly the same way. We learned that unconditional spirit from the Master himself, and though we'd never profess perfection, we know His plan is perfect.

Our conversations may be tangled as we weave our way through difficult discussions, but they smooth out seamlessly when we commit our children to Him, remembering He trusted us. Ultimately, both of our children are HIS, loaned to us for such a short time. I pray that I serve BOTH of our children well in that all too short time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On being chosen...

I don't believe in coincidences.

I believe that God's hand rests steadily on all things.

For most of my life, I have dreamed of writing...I don't necessarily have a specific vision for it. It could be as simple as an article or as extensive as a book. Regardless of the location of text, I just know that words fall freely from my stream of consciousness. Joining with others through written word has always been a joy. Through our family blog, I have had the gift of reciprocity about profound and intimate subjects like adoption, parenting and faith. There have been times I am rendered "stuck" with nothing to write about, God will most times reveal something powerful meant for sharing.

I had been praying about throwing my hat in the ring for a chance at a scholarship opportunity that Lysa Terkurst is offering for She Speaks 2011. But in true Heather fashion, I thought of the many reasons I should not and kept moving. Who will take care of the children? What if I have no gift for writing? What if the timing of the conference conflicts with family vacation? What if I am chosen and every uber talented woman there views me with disdain? What if our bank account does not agree with my decision to go to a conference?

And then came one of the many nudges God gives me everyday.
It's not about YOU, Heather!
Huh? What? Ohhh, right.

I thought about the reality of being "chosen". We were chosen before we even knew it. We have been chosen to do His work, pen His devotionals, encourage friends and peers to more closely abide with Him, share our stories to His glory, get on our knees in accordance to His will. Nothing in this walk has been about my excuses, reasons or fears. They exist, but they do not define His call on my life. Being chosen...whether I am the happy recipient of a wonderful scholarship to sharpen my skills and meet new friends... or not, I am still chosen to share Him with the world. My task remains the same.

So, if I am to be chosen for a scholarship to attend this conference, I should let God decide. Sydney Smith, an English clergyman once said, "Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable." It would sadden me to wake up and realize God's nudge had gone unattended to, or that my little hat filled with worry, caused me to allow an opportunity slip quietly away. If this is God's timing, I don't want to miss His blessing.

I could share the details of our life enumerating the reasons why this scholarship is critical to my attendance. God knows the details. It will be His choice and as much as I love reading each and every story to be shared, they are all worthy and all poignant. I have never been very good at competitive activities. I find myself cheering on each special lady destined for written and spoken greatness in His name.

So, here I am, hat in hand, trusting His perfect plan; wondering, is this the year He has planned for me to attend this spectacular life changing event?

I cannot say for sure, but I know I will not be left inconsolable with regret.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

She Speaks is one of many ministries enveloped in the wonderful Proverbs 31 ministries. The conference is designed to equip women with the necessary tools and skills to share our faith boldly. God placed Proverbs 31 in my life almost three years ago when a dear friend invited me to her home for Bible Study. What a sweet invitation and what fruit has been found from this ministry in my life.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Celebrations Abound!

When February blew in this year, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of celebrating we have to do! Isn't that a beautiful thing?

Rob had a birthday. I met Rob at 32 years of age and married him a year later. We celebrate ten years of marriage this year. These years have been quite an adventure for us. We are both grateful, almost to tears, at the way God has transformed our marriage, our parenting, our life. Financially, we always struggle. I used to be sad to say that. Now, as I see the way those struggles have grown us, united us and forced us to make really difficult decisions, I am grateful for them. I am thankful for a husband that has endorsed our choice to be a family first and everything else second. It has not been an easy road, but continues to be a worthwhile one. I am thankful for a husband who works hard, not only is he in the business of manual labor, but he NEEDS to be customer focused. Sometimes for this shy guy, that presents it's challenges, but as his wife, I like seeing him stretch and grow. He stepped waaaayyyy out of his box this winter to assist a dear friend in coaching basketball for Emily's team. I am proud of him. His relationship with Emily has deepened tremendously. Watching him love on those kids and try to learn something he knows nothing about really blesses me. The kids on the team made him cards for his birthday...I watched him open each one. There is nothing quite so humbling or precious as the heart of a grown man evolving right before you.

I think the biggest celebration for me, is the milestone of 50 happily married years for my parents. I adore my parents. Adore! They raised us well. They made mistakes, I am sure they did, but I cannot, for the life of me, think of them. My aunt asked my mother what she loves about my father - his undying faith, his work ethic and the way he has always "taken care of everything". My father said that he loves my mother's unbridled compassion. If you knew their story, it would seem unlikely they'd be as warm, compassionate and selfless as they are, but God truly had a plan there and I am so grateful my brother and I were part of it. Mark and I hosted an intimate dinner party to celebrate with them. I had originally desired a huge splashy party with all their friends and relatives...God's plan to honor them looked different, and I am so thankful. We all enjoyed the tender closeness of our immediate felt like home. My parents were overflowing with gratitude and we could not have wanted for more. Happy Anniversary, Mommy and Daddy, we love you so much!

And February 1 brings the anniversary of the day we heard the words, "We have your referral. Your daughter is from Jiangxi Province and her name is Xiao Wei Feng." I saw her face for the very first time and knew without a shadow of a doubt she was meant to be part of our family. Hannah has taught me about love in ways I never dreamt. I am wildly protective of Hannah, while also being able to see her in her rawest form and accept and appreciate every little nuance that makes her Hannah. Hannah is lovely, from her adorable little gap in her smile to her dimples that melt even the hardest of hearts; but it is her soul that intrigues me. Her perfect olive skin may captivate my eyes but her depth, breadth and complexity inspire me and make me a better mother than I ever imagined being. She and Emily fight, but that same passion that makes them competitive, makes them fiercely devoted to one another. Hannah lends her sister strength and tenacity, while Emily softens the rough places and teaches her younger counterpart about grace and mercy.

Nothing can ever prepare us for the sheer joy of motherhood. It is as close a glimpse of heaven as I can imagine. SO today, I am thankful for the man who helped me become a mother and his life that we celebrate, for the mother and father who raised me to be who I am, and their fifty loving, faithful years together and for the daughters who continue to bless, stretch, refine and keep me accountable. God blessed me when he allowed me to carry one below my heart and carry the other within it...both ARE the very heart of me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This was a post I placed on the Titus 2 in Action blog, but felt convicted to place it here too. Enjoy. :)

I like the daily chores of housekeeping. Please, folks do not lob scores of angry rotten tomatoes at me with this confession or call and ask me to be at your home in ten minutes. The truth is, I enjoy serving my family. One of my favorite scriptures,

"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

came to my attention early in my domestic life and it has stuck. However, over the years, the expectations would change several times. As my responsibilities increased, I would find myself aggitated and condemning when I could not scratch off each item on my "to do" list in a certain amount of time. Each change and transition has presented it's own challenges.

This week, the challenges seemed huge as the appliances revolted rendering our family can-opener-less, hot water heater-less AND washer-less. I found myself praying...praying for the provision to be able to replace our modern conveniences, praying for forgiveness for counting so dearly on the things of the world and praying for a miracle that would help me complete my chores in a timely fashion.

My husband graciously researched hot water heaters and he was able to get us one that would fill the void. He installed it himself into the wee hours of our normal Friday Night Family night. Thankful, I was able to take a hot shower less than three hours after it was installed. Having missioned in places where no hot water exists, it is a daily thanksgiving I offer up to the Lord each and every time I step into the shower, "Thank you Lord, for hot water." Prayers answered.

When the washing machine began hissing, whirring and stomping clear across the laundry room the next day, it was not a happy moment. Faced with the prospect of yet another heavy bill, my husband and I looked at each other tenuously. We prayed...we prayed for a soution other than a new washing machine. January for a contractor is never pretty. Though we are grateful for work, January always tends to be slower with smaller jobs and slower payment on finished jobs post Christmas reverie. I had to figure out how to get the laundry done outside our sunny, yellow laundry room. The Lord provided yet another opportunity to be thankful and praise His name for the long time we had enjoyed this washing machine and the convenience it brings to our lives.

After we prayed, we visited an appliance dealer to find our replacement washer. We agreed that if the current washer could not be fixed, we would find a way to finance the new one. In obedience, my husband checked the internet for potential problems with this washing machine. Praise God for Rob's discernment, he located a small part that breaks off the machines and ordered a new one readily. The new one was installed and the washer is working great! Praise!

I would have been anxious to buy new, releasing the old one, but also potentially releasing the Lord's will for this situation. Even in our housekeeping, God is alive and working. I was humbled not only by God's quick response but also by my own short sightedness in trusting that God is capable of far more than I can imagine. We are assured in Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

"And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever." Phillipians 4:19
Though this verse speaks to God's promise to fulfill the needs of the Phillipians, the promise here is that God will supply “all” the needs of the Philippians, not just some of them. Whether our need is temporal or spiritual, God will meet it.
When the glory is given to Him; when we trust His promises and seek Him first, the Lord will not allow us to remain in want. No detail is too small, even the daily rigor of housekeeping is not too small for our Lord.

May God provide perfect provision for you in all things.
Be encouraged and blessed.


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