2014 Recap: what a year it has been!

Last December at this time we were driving home from Virginia and maximizing the car time to goal plan for the coming year. We had hopes, dreams, and items to check-off our ‘to do’ list. We were ready and excited about the coming year!

I’m so thankful we didn’t know then what we were driving back to. We got home and almost immediately faced cancer (again). Suddenly our hopes and goals went out the window and each day felt like the best we could do was just get through it. And get through it we did, all by God’s grace.

Spring rolled around, the snow melted, the hair slowly grew back and we got the good news of ‘all clear’! After having had to postpone all adoption plans we were eager to get back to it and get all the updated approvals we needed. Summer came and it looked like we would be able to bring our boy home in September. We started hoping and dreaming and prepping for another son. Little did we know that by August we would lose our referral and be back to square one. Telling our kids the sad news was miserable. Their tears and ‘why’s’ echoed what we felt in our hearts, too. Why had we gone through so much and come so far to get stopped once again? Only God knows and again, it felt like the best we could do was just get through one day at a time.

Leaves fell and autumn emerged, both kids were in school full-time. My life did not look at all how I had pictured it back when we plotted out 2014 goals. So now what? We decided it would be best for me to get another job and try to embrace the season of life God had given us. Adoption was put on the shelf indefinitely as our agency made it clear that our odds were not good.

Back at the end of 2013 I had written in my journal that I was praying God would be glorified in our new year of 2014. What I meant was that I was hoping our adoption would speed through in record time and amazing ease, all to God’s credit. I certainly did not picture God receiving glory through our struggles! Glory came through victories!

Right? Right?!

Well, God is good and he was glorified in our 2014, struggles and all. He carried us through a really scary time of cancer. He strengthened our marriage as we sat side by side at chemo. He grew the character and faith in our children as they watched sickness and then health restored. He surrounded us with community, both old and new, that supported us, loved us, and prayed us through to clear scans.

God is good when we lost our referral and through tear-stained cheeks he gave us a sense of HIS peace. We had confidence that if God wanted that boy to join our family, then he would have made a way. For whatever reason that way was not made and God was glorified as we learned to trust him more. God was glorified when we broke the news to family and friends and they responded with love and not anger. God was glorified when our kids decided to still earnestly pray for sweet boy, knowing he would now not be their brother, but trusting God would give him a family to love.

God was glorified most this past year when through all our struggles we learned to trust him more, no matter the circumstances. I would like to hope 2015 would be an easier year in comparison. I am all too eager to say goodbye to 2014!! But, I also know that no matter what is in store for us this coming year, we will be okay because God is still God and his love endures forever.

You know what? I bet you had a crazy year, too. Maybe you faced struggles, transitions, health issues, loss, and unmet expectations. Maybe you are headed into a year of difficult circumstances and are wondering how you will make it through. I don’t have any grand words of wisdom, but I can say with confidence that God’s grace is sufficient and his love is enough to get you through each and every one of those days. He is most glorified in our lives not when when everything is picture perfect, but when we truly trust him in all things.

My hopes and dreams for 2015 are different than last year. My prayer is simply that I would trust God more and my hope is to love others with the lavish love God has given. (I can’t wait to love a certain little girl that currently lives half a world away!)

My prayer for you is that no matter how crazy and messy your year was or will be, that you would experience the never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love of Jesus. His love that would come to this messy earth to live among us and offer the greatest sacrifice to give us a HOPE.

One of the best moments of this past year happened on a muddy river bank, serving as a visual reminder that it doesn’t matter the mess we are standing in ~ God is glorified.

MissE made the decision to be baptized, professing her faith in Jesus as her Savior.

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Happy New Year! May you experience God’s love and faithfulness in 2015.

Worship

MissE wrote this worship song last week. It’s even better to hear her sing it. Her sweet little voice, loving Jesus. The song is up on our fridge now and whenever I look at it I praise Jesus, for his love, his grace, and the wonderful gift of family.

Note: she mastered the typical 7×11 style of today’s worship songs. 7 words, repeated 11 times :)

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Thankful Thursday: A little girl’s dream come true

I have wanted to take MissE to the American Girl Bistro for some time, but each time I picked a date something came up.

My sister called on Monday to say she was going with her girl and meeting our aunt there, but we already had plans and couldn’t make it.

As it turns out, the weather has been unpleasant here and our plans got cancelled. So, with a few minutes notice I loaded up the kids and took off for the mall.

Even Junior got his own lunch buddy doll, which he thought was really fun.

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The girls had a fun time reading ‘discussion questions’ back and forth.

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Then there was some shopping.

‘”Aunt Margaret, look how pretty this dress is! Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t my doll look beautiful in this dress!”

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There were some happy little girls that day.

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Junior was not neglected as the mall also has a Lego store.

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Junior was rewarded for enduring all the pink.

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Thanks to Aunt Margaret for making little girls’ dreams come true! We had a fun time!

 

Goodbye lockers!

Do you remember the locker room?

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Well, after a lot of hard work it no longer looks like this. Let’s talk about the hard work first. My mom and I spent an entire day peeling off wall paper. Let this be a lesson to all people. Do not use wallpaper. Just don’t. Then my dad filled in the countless holes in the wall (some from screws, some from my digging at the wallpaper with a knife). Next, James and a friend sanded the entire room. Let this be the next lesson for all people. Do not use textured paint. Just don’t. And if you feel that you absolutely love textured paint. Use it in one room, not the entire house. Okay, so after the walls were peeled, sanded, and prepped it was time to paint.

We found this lovely shade of purple in oops paint and there were two cans. Side note, when using two cans of oops paint, mix them together before painting to insure color consistency. Or if you want to be like us, don’t mix them and end up having to paint the walls three times. If you like painting, maybe this is your better option.

All kidding aside, after A LOT of hard work. The purple princess room is ready and being occupied!

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It is a little girl’s dream.

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I’m happy, she’s happy. On to the next room! Who wants to come help me paint? ;)

The teacher’s gift

Have you been anxiously waiting to hear what we gave the teacher for Christmas?

Well, yes, we went ahead and gave MissE’s teacher a bible for Christmas. Or should I say we got her La Santa Biblia.

I tried to soften the awkwardness with a coffee gift card that my dear friend, Karyn, helped me craft into a snow globe.

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Family Fun

We have been holiday ‘baking’ around the house. Last Sunday we were practically snowed in so I decided why not embrace the mess and make cut out cookies. I was only able to locate the star cookie cutter, but less is more in my opinion.

DSC_0875Frosting cookies is serious business

This was our first storm without paid snow removal service. Good thing we have MissE. She works for free, although occasionally stops to take a sledding break.

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On Wednesday we built the annual gingerbread houses. I tried my best not to take offense when MissE said, “I wish Finley were here, he is the best gingerbread house maker.” (he was her assistant for last year’s house making festivities).

DSC_0911 DSC_0927 DSC_0924This activity is really just an excuse to eat candy. A side benefit is that it makes our home smell yummy for as long as the houses stand.

I love being a mom

I really do. It is a tiring job for sure and I have the circles under my eyes to prove it. But, there are those moments that make it all feel so worth it, like I won the lottery of life.

A few favorite moments with MissE this past week include:

 

1. Watching her read chapter books and I mean speed-read, just like her momma. Her goal was to read a book a day. I think she made it through 4 books and then lost steam. Still, 4 chapter books in 4 days is a feat for a five year old. I can’t wait until she sees what we got her for Christmas. Ssshhhh. It’s the Felicity book series.

2. Taking her to the secret shop at school to buy Christmas gifts for all of us….all by herself.

She was so excited. She wrote out a list and I could tell she was really thinking through what each of us would like. She would randomly ask questions like, “Mom, what is your favorite coffee?”

Ah, she knows what I love!

I dropped her off at the ‘shop’ and picked her up with a bag full of wrapped gifts. She said, “Mom, I can’t wait until you open your gift. You will give me a big hug. I can’t wait until dad opens his present. He will love it so much he will jump out of his chair!”

I can’t wait to see what she bought us, either! I feel like a kid again, longing to shake the packages and see if I can peek in through the cracks.

3. Hearing what she wanted to give her teacher for Christmas. I asked MissE what she thought we should get her teacher for a gift. She said, “Mom, I never hear my teacher talk about Jesus. We should get her a bible. Maybe then she would know Jesus and talk about him.”

I explained to her about it being a public school and that there are rules about teachers talking about Jesus and how some students might not believe in Jesus. She thought about it a minute and responded, “Well, I still want to give my teacher a bible, because I want her to know that I do believe in Jesus.”

  ~ I’m not sure what to do here. Any tips? On one hand I absolutely love her resolution and pure faith. On the other hand we don’t know her teacher, I have been a seriously delinquent parent as far as school goes, and I don’t really want the reputation of being one of *those* families. Although, truly, we probably are *that* family.

4. Lastly, I picked up the book Heaven is for Real for kids from the library.

Heaven is for Real for Kids: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

MissE has been pouring over the pages. I wasn’t all that impressed with the book and was somewhat surprised when I realized she loved it. She has been talking about how she can’t wait to get to heaven to see God. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I look forward to heaven, too.

This is a good life we have here, but this is definitely not our best life.

Can I get an Amen?!

Home Study Update

There is just nothing like have an almost stranger visit your home to evaluate your cleanliness, safety, and fit as parents. We have a really great social worker and it still sent me into a bit of a panic mode.

I had let her know that considering we had just moved, our house was somewhat in chaos. She had said not to worry about it, but I still did my best to get the house clean and ready (besides the boxes and half-painted walls). By the time she knocked on the door I was feeling really good about our overall ‘appearance’.

Ha, I should have known.

MissE was the first to the door and proudly delivered to our beloved social worker a hand written note.

Photo: How to impress your social worker while updating your adoption home study: step 1 - Clean, clean, clean. Step 2 - Have your daughter greet her at the door with this note. Step 3 - embarrassingly insist that you indeed do NOT have lice, while watching said social worker visibly start scratching her head.

 

In case you have difficulty deciphering her last word, she also loudly declared it, “My mom has LICE!”

“Uhm, no. No, I don’t.”

“Yes, mom! I heard you say you have lice!”

Insert image of our social worker starting to scratch her head.

Turns out MissE had overheard me say that there was an out break of lice in her school which made me scratch my head, as if I had lice. She took it to mean that I did, indeed, have lice.

Oh well, we all got a good laugh. And, MissE redeemed herself by writing this note.

Photo: Step 4. Thank your daughter for following up with this sweet note.

Other than that, the visit went well and we can cross it off our list. We are praying mightily that God will do a miracle in the Honduras program and that we won’t have to update our homestudy for a third time.

We are also praying about adjusting our age request to 0-3 year old and specifically listing what special needs we would be open to considering. Pray that God would give us wisdom and discernment. We are ready and available and really desire that 2013 will be the year our family grows.

And PS our home is lice free. I promise!

Activity Director in Training

We had our first parent/teacher conferences at MissE’s new school. It came as no surprise to hear the teacher talk about the characteristics and qualities of our little girl. Academically she is a bit of an overachiever (like her mother). Socially she loves making friends.

The teacher commented, “MissE is a leader. She can get her classmates to do most anything. We had two minutes of free time and I turned around and MissE had organized almost the entire class to set up chairs and pretend they were at a movie theatre.

No surprise there.

We call my mom the Activity Director because whenever we are at the cabin she is always organizing the next game or activity. We started calling MissE the Activity Director in Training, because she also loves to boss organize.

MissE asked us on the way to conferences, “By the end of they year will they make me the teacher?’

Photo credits: Anna Silverthorn Photography

Psalm 139

MissE successfully memorized all of Psalm 139. We are so proud of her. She is so proud of herself. Her trophy is proudly displayed on the fireplace mantel and she points it out to every guest that stops over. I pray the verses remain embedded in her mind and heart.

PS – go ahead and say it. Her outfit is adorable. Thank you grandma!