Monday, April 29, 2013

30's Recap and Other Ramblings.

I can't explain why I am struggling with turning 40 tomorrow but I am. My hubby and friends don't get it. It's just a number, its just another birthday, it doesn't really mean anything, you look great...on and on. Its not that I don't appreciate their trying to make me feel better, I guess I just have to deal with it in my own time.

I remember turning 30 like it was yesterday and it didn't even phase me. My friends and I spent the evening at a British pub eating bangers and mash and the like and devouring chocolate cake with purple icing. I also know it was an early night because B and I were flying out first thing the next day for the U.K.
It was the best birthday present! I left the UK in 1993 when I was 20 and had longed to return ever since. My best friend, Jo had visited me twice so I was ecstatic to be going to see her. We spent two weeks tripping around Lincoln and London visiting friends, family and doing the whole tourist thing. It was amazing. I didn't want to come home. Despite the weather I love the UK and pray for the day we can move there to live.

I never could have been prepared for what I would face getting off that plane only 5 short weeks later.

Mom had been sick since Jan 2000 and even though she never caught a break with the cancer she was a fighter. In early January 2003 she was hospitalized with complications from shingles and more tests revealed the cancer was spreading. They wanted to send her to the infectious disease control docs. She wasn't sure what to do and convinced them to discharge her with a promise she would come back Monday morning for readmission and more testing. I went over Monday morning and she said she wasn't going to go. She decided she was done with all of it. She was tired and wanted to live out the rest of her life without being poked and prodded. I will never forget sitting across from her, she looked straight at me and started bawling. I don't want to die, she said. What do you say to that? I was broken enough at the thought. Yet, just 5 too short months later on June 26th 2003 at 10:45am we sat around her bed and watched as she breathed her last and went on to meet Jesus. It was as precious as it was devastating. We all took turns privately with her to say good bye and when it was my turn I held her hand to my face for a long time willing myself to never forget how it felt. I was astounded at how quickly the color drained from her body and she turned cold. As I made my way home that afternoon, I was numb. How on earth would I live my life without my mother? BUT GOD...
He is bigger than death and I found my feet.

Just two short years later God said GO and we went, to Florida. I never thought in a million years we would move away from Oklahoma but on June 26th 2005 we made the two day trip that would change our lives forever.

We were there less than a year when I knew this was only a stepping stone to where we were really supposed to go but a lot of growth had to happen first and it did. Being stripped of everything and everyone familiar will force you into the arms of God like nothing else and it did. I immersed myself in Him because He was all I had to hold onto. He was all I knew. Brian was away in Texas training for the first 10 weeks we lived there so I was winging it everyday. But, we found a church, I got a job at Starbucks, we settled into a routine and life was good. Until...

Our good friends, the Daigle's told us about a job opening in their church in NC and life kind of unraveled a little. Even though we were settled, had bought a house etc. I felt restless. And more importantly, I felt there was so much we were missing. And I don't mean materially. Adoption had begun tugging at my heart again but we had been so busy trying to keep up with the Jones'es, I didn't think there was any way we would ever be able to afford it. That is until our good friend Betsy sent us this video

After watching this we knew our answer. We started the program the following week at a local church and once again our life took a new turn. 

I am not going to bore you with all the details of our move but just a few short weeks after finishing Financial Peace, again the weekend of June 26th, we moved to NC. 

There have been a lot of ups and downs since moving here but I believe this is where God has us for the long haul. We have friends here that feel like family and I couldn't imagine taking even one step of this adoption without them. 

I think I have experienced every emotion known to man just with all the milestones with my boys that I didn't expect. They all turned double digits, teenagers and then I had my oldest graduate, turn 18 and get his licence all in the same 2 months. That was rough. And not too long ago he also flew the coop. There is no preparing a mother's heart for that, I've said it before and I'll say it again. The woman who writes a self-help book about navigating those uncharted waters successfully will make a fortune. But then again, that is why a book like that will never come to be. Those kind of emotions can't be written about because they are so personal to the individual and we will all handle it differently. My kids are precious to me and they have taught me just as much as I hope I have taught them. The biggest lesson I ever could have learned was how to humble myself to them and apologize when I get it wrong so they never think I think I've got it all together and am perfect. There is a lot of wisdom in that and I'm so thankful to God I learned it. 

I think the 10 year period between my 30's and 40's were some of the best years of my life thus far. Maybe that is part of why I am so sad/worried/scared etc to turn 40. I know I've had the best experiences and growth with my kids, my hubby, and most of all my relationship with God. I've grown and changed in ways I never thought I could. Maybe thats it! Allow me to be vulnerable for a moment. Maybe, I feel like how could it get any better, or what else could there be? Or my life is half over. Or less. God forbid. I won't lie, watching my mom die so young put the fear of God in me, and not in a good way. Maybe that is why I am so obsessed with age. Sometimes you just have to talk it out. I warned you there would be rambling. 

So, there it is. My 30's are officially over in less than an hour and a half or if you wanna get really technical tomorrow at about 1pm since that is when I was born. 
And the truth is, I have a choice. To whine and complain about what I can't change or to embrace it, to own it. To have confidence in Jesus that the next 10 years will be even more amazing than these last 10. To know that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. To wear my 40's with pride, not thinking life is half over but that things are just starting to get good and there is so much more to come. And of course no one knows for we aren't promised tomorrow but I am promised that my God loves me and has called me according to His purpose. I pray these next 10 years will be filled with more of his glory. I pray that I will do everything as unto Him and I pray that I will keep my heart and my hand fully opened before Him so no matter what He asks me to do I can do unafraid because He is the ROCK on which I stand! Join me?


Since it is my birthday, I am expecting a comment. Thanks! :0)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Looking back and why sometimes its necessary.

No one who is constantly looking back can ever move forward. And even if they are moving, they will constantly be stumbling over things because their focus is off. We are told several times in the bible to not look back, to forget what lies behind and press on for the mark of the high calling. The truth is there really is no point in looking back, in pouring over all the pains and mistakes of the past. The wrongs done to us or the wrongs we have done. The reality is there is nothing we can do to change any of it so why go there. Believe me, I've "gone" there many times and the only thing that happens when I camp out is more misery over what happened that can't be changed.

So, why the title? I believe there are times when looking back is not only necessary but could be life saving, or at least sanity saving.
But this looking back involves not all the wrongs that can't be un-wronged but all the amazing things God has done for us. All the ways He has taken us out of the pit, the ways He saved us. I have times when I get in such a funk, my mood is so blah and I am so down I don't want to pray or even read my bible. And it may take me a minute or a day but eventually I will start to look back and see where He has brought me from.
Just take this adoption as a small example. At one point we were drowning and there was no life raft coming our way, BUT GOD. Less than one month later, not only were we no longer drowning but we were already on the shore. He took what seemed hopeless and breathed His life into it.
And as I reflect during these times I will go back much farther, back to the mess I was in when I met my hubby and how He used Brian (unbeknownst to him) to save me from myself. And I can't help but praise Him and thank Him and be so grateful that before I know it, the funk and the blah are gone.

So, I encourage you to look back during the hard times. Not to wallow in the misery of all the things you can't change but instead to remind yourself where God has taken you from. To remember how good He is all the time. He isn't just good when things are going your way. He is good all the time.

Psalm 105

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.

Isaiah 12:4-6

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
    and proclaim that his name is exalted.
 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
    let this be known to all the world.
 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.

Psalm 9:1-2

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Everyone needs a Debra.

I have a friend, yes I know, shocking!

Her name is Debra. She is amazing. Debra is one of the few people I can be around and be totally myself without worrying she is secretly judging me. I know that she loves and supports me unconditionally. I feel the same way. Heres a little bit of history.

Debra was one of the first people I met when I moved to NC almost 5 years ago. We met at 5:15 in the morning on the door step of Starbucks. She had way too much energy and talked too loud and too much for that early in the morning. Needless to say she gave me a run for my money. HA!
Debra was easy to get a long with and as co-workers we became fast friends. We were so alike in the way we managed and worked like a well oiled machine, in fact we often joked that other employees only got in our way.

I remember the first time I got brave and asked her if she ever went to church, to which she replied, not like I should. So, I invited her. It would be 6 weeks before she would finally run out of excuses and actually show up and when she did it was touch and go for awhile. You see Debra was raised in the Catholic church, so it was pretty scary to her the way we did church. But I think the more she attended our small group and she and I talked about things, the more comfortable she got. Before too long I no longer had to remind her about church, it was just assumed she would be there and I could tell she was loving it.

I will never forget the conversation in my car one day while out shopping. I had never sat her down and had the "do you wanna say the sinner's prayer" talk. I just figured it would happen when it happened. Anyway, we were sitting outside of Old Navy chatting about the previous Sunday's message and she was asking questions I was doing my best to answer. Then she mentioned she had recited the prayer to herself that our pastor had asked everyone to pray. I almost missed what she said. It took me a couple of seconds. Then I said, Debra "you've given your heart to Jesus?" And she said "well yes I have", it was really cool. It was cool mainly because she wasn't just repeating a prayer, she had sat in church for a long time and had really learned what it meant to be a Christ follower and had made a conscious decision that that was what she wanted for her life and her future. I was so honored I was part of it.

Debra has made me want to be a better person. She always inspired me in the work place. Here was this woman who wasn't even a christian (at the time) who was so wonderful towards people. So gracious and loving, so kind and generous with her words and encouragement. And there I was, a christian who was so opposite of that. In the end I think we inspired each other. Our friendship has only gotten stronger and we think of each other like sisters.

I write all of this because this past weekend I celebrated with her at her baby shower. Debra and her hubby Salon are expecting twin girls in July. Their first babies. Debra has never wanted to be anything else but a wife and mom and even though both came a little later than she expected she is rocking it out. I had the privilege of walking with her through meeting, dating and marrying Salon ( I got to be her Matron of Honor) and now to be part of this season is more incredible than I ever thought possible. Debra is going to be an amazing mother and I can't wait to spoil those girls rotten!

Deb and the cute shower cake.

The cute way we thanked everyone for coming.
Poem courtesy of Joanna. 
Looking on while Laura matches baby socks
Presenting all the matched baby socks. 

Me looking on while Deb fishes for cotton balls, that was a very unique game.
Laurie, Rochelle and I hosted Deb's shower. It was so fun. 

Laurie and I posing before it all began. 
I heart you Deb!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

A Reminder about the Birds.

This was (kind of) my view this morning as I sat praying and reading my bible. I say kind of, because I didn't have a camera/phone to take a pic so I took this one from Google. 
We got our visas yesterday and I was giddy. Then Kristen (agency chick) called and I started asking all kinds of questions (like I do) and before I knew she was telling me how "gotcha day" will go down. WOW! It was surreal. Things have been going so smoothly that I get afraid. I think because we had so much heartache for so long as we walked this road, the fact that things are going so well causes fear to rise up in me. Stupid, I know. Last night as I went to bed I found myself struggling with all these negative thoughts. Then this morning I was the first one up (such is the life with teens in the house) so I went in our daughter's room and began hanging up the new clothes we just got her. My head was spinning with so many different thoughts. As I looked at her picture my heart ached for just a brief moment. I love her so much, there aren't even words. How its possible is only because of the love Jesus has for me. 

So, back to the birds. I sat on the floor in her room and began to pray. As I looked out of her window I watched as these birds danced in the sky. There was nothing uniform about their flying. It was as if they were having a party in the sky. As if they were celebrating the sun and warmth of the day after all the rain and cold of this past week. I watched. I smiled and before I knew it I was weeping. I heard my Father's still small voice. I take care of the birds and they do nothing for me...I will take care of you. I repented for my fear and my doubt. I whispered words of thankfulness and praise. 
Go and read Matt 6:25 through the end of the chapter. Its so beautiful. Its such a precious reminder that we all need. 
Now, when you are tempted to worry remember the birds. 


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Countdown to 40 and a Picture Walk Down Memory Lane


In 26 days. 

So many say its only a number. Thats easy to say when you're only 25. I remember I couldn't wait to be 25. I'm not sure why, maybe it sounded older to me and I thought people would treat me differently (is that a word?). Then before I knew it I was 30 and the only thing that bothered me about turning 30 was a little weight gain I had to work harder to get off. 
I spent my 30th b-day in England partying with my hubby and bestie for 2 weeks only to come home and bury my mom less than 2 months later. 
These past 10 years have been the most amazing whirlwind of moving here, there and everywhere. God has been up to some pretty fabulous things and I've had the privilege of connecting with lots of new people. Some came and went, and some came and have stayed. Not to mention all the wonderful in person/online adoption friends I've made. I pray those people never go away. With Jenna Grace coming home, I'll need them now more than ever. 
I've spent this past week scanning lots of old photos and thought it would be fun to post a little walk down memory lane in honor of the impending 40th. Hope you enjoy!
The newest newborn pic I have

Me and my Grammy (mom's mom). I am the first grandchild. 

Me and my momma. I still miss her everyday.

Me and Papa (mom's dad) I guess he's trying to make me cool. It didn't work. 

I think this pic is out of order. Still, I am clearly trying to figure out what this is. Knowing my mom, she made the cake herself. 

My mom would always tell me how much I loved being in my johnny jumper. 

My sister had just been born. I am 2 weeks shy of being 2 years older. 

Strong man, I have pics of all three of my kids in this exact pose. 

Me and my friend Christopher. I have several pics of the two of us all the way through elementary school. I wish I could figure out where he is now.

Christmas time.

This is an interesting picture. Look closely, can you see what I am "helping" him do?

Three! There's Christopher again.

Big gap between pics. Not sure how old I am here. I do know we are still in Canada though. 

I LOVED the movie Annie. That is my sister in the front row with the afro. 

The cabbage patch doll my mom made for me. She made and sold several of these. She was so creative and economical. 

When my sister and I were little my mom would tell us bedtime stories starring two bears named Humphrey and Bogart. I had no knowledge that he was actually a famous actor. I just know I loved the stories mom would tell and that Christmas my Aunt drew pics for my sis and I. Here is Humphrey. I still have this print. 

Third Grade.

Fourth Grade

Children's Christmas Choir. I loved every minute being part of this. 

6th Grade

Paul Woodcock (my youth leader dude) baptizing me. I think I was 14. We were in England now. 

My sis and I. I think I was 15. I remember this day. I'd had a track meet all day and run several races. I was exhausted and came home to my mom making us get dressed for a photo shoot. 

Age 15. Summer time. I was in Tulsa, OK visiting all my extended family alone. 

Barely 20 and a brand new Jared. Now 19 years himself. 

Brian and I, newlyweds and Jared just 2. 

BIG GAP! Here we are Nov. '12. 

Love my boys! Can't wait for this pic next year to include my girl. 
Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane. 

Here's a mini adoption update. Our visa approval should arrive tomorrow and we are compiling our "to take" list for China. Also, we will get one more update on our girl before we travel. We are submitting a list of questions at the end of April. Stay tuned, its about to get even more exciting.