Saturday, January 28, 2017

A new journey.

So, I've thought a lot about returning to this blog, but honestly, it hasn't felt right yet. Crazy that it's been three years since I last posted! Now that the kids are getting older, I've found myself wanting to protect their privacy. I still share some of our wondrous things on Instagram and a few on Facebook (I think Instagram is a much happier, more peaceful social media place in general, so I usually camp there for my public sharing), but majority of our details are saved sweetly within our family. And it feels right.

But... now, we have a new journey to share, and keeping it within our own family just isn't enough for such a big, exciting, scary, amazing story that God's writing.

So here goes:

We are, Lord willing, going to adopt a baby.




Bear with me through this; it's hard to write confidently about such an uncontrolled thing. Well, it's controlled, I guess, just not by us. I have a lump in my throat even as I type these words -- stating that we're adopting seems like such a big claim. What if we never get "picked?" Yet, God has without a doubt called us to take these steps. There's no other way you can frame it. God lead us to this. And we really trust, we believe, that He has a baby for us through adoption.




Eugene and I were faced with a very likely possibility of infertility issues early on in our marriage when I was diagnosed with endometriosis, had a surgical procedure for it, tried to conceive for a while unsuccessfully, conceived but resulted in a miscarriage, then had another bout of waiting until finally we were blessed with sweet "big sister." The point of sharing all that pretty private info is that through that entire time of wondering daily - sometimes, hourly - whether or not I could carry a sweet healthy baby in me, Eugene and I had an honest conversation about adoption. It was a simple one. (Those of you who know Eugene aren't shocked...man of few words when it comes to serious topics!) I asked him if he felt like we should consider adoption, especially given our struggles and odds of having a child biologically. He said he didn't really feel like that's what we should do. He asked me the same questions, and my answer was the same. We didn't have anything against adoption, but for some reason (aka God), neither of us felt like pursuing adoption was the right thing at that time for us.

We pressed on through what was probably the toughest time for me personally and for our marriage, and God knocked our socks off with His plan in His time: our sweet little girl was born. Two years, two months later, enter "little brother." This kid is silly, and sensitive, and so ridiculously sweet. And God again knows just what He's doing. Parenthood has refined us in ways we never knew we needed refining. I've watched Eugene grow into a complete leader of our family, a fun, solid, intentional father to our children, a sacrificing, hardworking husband for me. I've since willingly killed my career in Events, trading angry mothers-of-the-brides for giggling toddlers. Staying at home with them has been the hardest job I've ever done - dare I say, ever will do. Hard, not because my kids are tough, but because it highlights every ounce of selfishness, pride, and identity issues in me. I've grown so much. And my kids are awesome. Best job ever, seriously.



Fast forward to about six months ago... Eugene took a new job as an Athletic Director in a new area. We bought a huge house (that's a whole other God-story to tell.) We moved from our hometown, and started new with our family of four. But right after we bought our house, I suddenly - strangely - felt that adoption/fostering might be something we needed to consider. It seemed super weird to me because we were already talking about growing our family the "traditional" way soon, going for around three years of an age gap. Adoption wasn't on our radar at all, so to think of adoption was not my timing and not my idea.

A week or so later, after thinking about adoption/fostering constantly, I brought it up to Eugene. I told him that I had no clue why I couldn't shake thinking about it, but I asked that he would pray about it. He said, "sure." A few days later, I went to one of my Norwex demos (I sell Norwex which is basically cleaning products that only use water and microfiber with silver in it.) At my demo, I began to chat with the first guest to arrive. I don't normally chat much with guests because I'm busy setting up, but I did this time, and she told me she was a retired social worker from our county for foster and adoption. She still works as a social worker for a Christian private foster agency. Next guest enters, and it's a woman with her 18 month old foster child. She shared that she was planning on adopting him when he turned two. Now this might not feel like much to you, but to me it was huge. I felt like God was waving a massive banner in front of my face saying, "I'm working on something here. Follow along!"

A few days later, my mind was still spinning. I didn't know why this whole adoption/fostering thing kept pressing on me. It didn't make sense for our "plan," but it was really intriguing to me. And the more I thought about it, them more my heart began to ache for the idea that adoption might be in His plan for our family. The biggest moment of this story was when I went to take a shower. I was kind of at a breaking moment. Eugene hadn't really said much about it yet; he listened to me when I shared bits of my encounters and thoughts, but I didn't really feel like he was feeling like it was much more than interesting. I headed to shower, and through tears, I prayed honestly - almost desperately - in my confusion of what God wanted me to do with everything, "Lord, I'm willing, but if You want us to adopt, You need to have Eugene bring it up." I absolutely did not want to jump into such a massive family decision based solely on my hunch, but I also couldn't stop feeling like it was something we needed to pursue.

Eugene is amazing, and I know he would be on board with it if he felt I was called to it, but that wasn't enough for me. I wanted Him to be called too. I wanted him to feel it on his own, as strongly as I felt it on my own. So I got out of the shower, got dressed, wrapped my hair in a towel to dry and headed downstairs to plop next to Eugene who was watching TV on the couch. I kid you not, at that moment he looked at me - unprompted by me - and told me he thought we should adopt. (WHAT!?) My hair was still wet, and HE brought it up. Those of you who know him, know it is very out of character of him to bring up anything serious ever. He brought it up! I teared up and shared with him all about my prayer, and from that moment on, we've been trying to simply take the next step in this journey while praying we are walking in God's will. That's the only place we ever want to be.



God's done a bunch of other small crazy things to keep shouting at us, for which I'm so thankful. Eugene and I put on a random Doc McStuffins show for the kids to watch, and low and behold, Doc's parents are adopting a baby! (What?!) We meet a family at the pool in our new community, non-social Eugene starts chatting it up with the dad (what?!), and the dad soon shares that they have two biological kids, and adopted son, and a foster daughter who will likely be adopted soon. We walked away from the pool unsure of whether we should laugh or cry! Other moments like God working out a meeting with our only friends who have adopted who just so happen to be where Eugene was, willing to meet at that time,  and had a great experience using the only agency we had really researched at that point.



I think I'll keep some updates of our journey here, for my sake mainly, but also because I like to think that there are family, friends, maybe even strangers who might be intrigued to hear our story and see how it unfolds. I know I'm so anxious to see what God's going to do. I just have a feeling, it's something big and maybe even beautiful.

We are feeling quite the same way as we did when we first found out we were pregnant - giddy, excited, thankful, scared, slightly overwhelmed, and resting in our full hearts.



We've gotten quite a few questions from the few people we've told. So here's a quick rundown of the basics. We're using a private, local agency. We've completed the mounds of paperwork, had all the inspections, background checks, physicals, profiles, etc. We just finished the interview and home study, and our social worker will be working on inputting all our home study information into their system over the next few months. Our agency mainly does infant adoptions, so ours will be a domestic (Ohio), newborn, but we're leaving pretty much all the parameters open in terms of gender, race, drug use, incarceration, mental and physical background, etc. We could get a call regarding a birth mom at the hospital in labor, or we could be matched with a birth mom only a few months into her pregnancy. We have no idea what the timeline will look like - could be one call and a new child all in a day, or we could be on the wait list for over a year. God knows.



Pray with us, please? Pray for us to walk in God's will. Pray for birthparent(s) who are making quite possibly one of the most heroic decisions I can even comprehend. Pray for us to make wise decisions in this process. Pray for God to provide for the very large financial need we're facing. Pray for us to have opportunities to share God's love in lots of ways through all of this. Pray with thanks that God's at work and doing something big, and graciously allowing us to be a part of it all. Pray with us for a sweet little baby to grow our family in love.


We're so excited!

Ephesians 1:4-6 (English Standard Version)
...He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 

Ephesians 1:4-6 (The Message Version)

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Changes.

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The past three months have been growing months for me. Growing months, with growing pains. But at the same time, I’ve also had a calmness, hopefulness, and odd sort of peace through the whole process too. A ton has changed for my family in the last three months.

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Obviously, the biggest change has been adding little brother to our family. Big sister took that change the hardest. I’ll be honest, the first two weeks weren’t pretty at my house. She struggled to accept the fact that momma just couldn’t play with her and focus on her all day…in fact, momma was stuck on the couch one out of every three hours trying to nurse baby brother. That’s not an easy thing for a two-year-old to adjust to! However, after two weeks or so, she started to understand the routine and began to return to her joyful self. Since then, we’ve certainly had our fair share of tough days, but I’m happy to say that we have more good days than bad. ;) {It’s tough being a toddler, isn’t it?!}

IMG_2152{The kids with Eugene while he covered a HS volleyball match. Big sister is playing with a mini volleyball she was given.}

It wasn’t just our family that changed. Eugene took a new job at a new school and is now an Athletic Director and teaches a couple classes, instead of a full time teacher who coaches two sports. We really miss his old school {just 5 min from our house} and his friends there, but he truly enjoys his job now. He said for the first time, he looks forward to doing his job. He loves students and the school atmosphere, but he just didn’t love teaching. Now, he can still be around students and teachers, but with a sports focus; it’s perfect for him.

It’s a huge blessing to see him happy with his work, but it hasn’t come without sacrifices too. He was hired and started his job just a week or so before baby brother was born. He had a ton of catch-up work to do since he was hired so late, and instead of his plan {prior to this new job} of taking off 2-3 full weeks to stay home with me after the delivery, he no longer was able to do that. He only stayed home a couple days rather than a few weeks. Thankfully, he had some flexibility in his hours, which helped, but it was a much different circumstance than when we had big sister {it was the summer so he was off for a full month with us.} In addition, the AD job requires many evening hours, especially for Fall season which started right when little brother was born. It’s been a personal challenge for me to be supportive and encouraging to him as he works such long days, when I’m equally exhausted from lack of sleep and just the wearing nature of being on my own all day and night with a toddler and a newborn and trying to nurse. I’ve really been feeling God working on my selfish nature and also on my interactions and words towards Eugene. I’m trying to think over my words instead of just spilling them everywhere, encouraging him in action and words, and really trying to see his true intentions before my fatigued self assumes the negative. I won’t pretend that I’ve done well at this, but I’m aware of my incredible ineptness, and I’m trying to improve each day. It’s been a personal refining process for sure, and I’m thankful that his job change has challenged me to be a better wife. I will say, Eugene has been so kind to get home after 17 hours of working and go straight to the sink to wash dishes or immediately do a load of laundry or do bath time so I can have a break. He has been working so hard in the office and then coming home and working just as hard. He’s clearly put our family as his first priority – supporting us with his job, and doing his best to make us his focus when he isn’t working. I appreciate how hard he’s working at being a husband and father, and I wouldn’t want to walk through all this change with anyone else.

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Another huge change for us is that I am no longer a full-time Event Coordinator and Department Manager who splits time at the office and at home with a toddler. I recently walked through one of the hardest decisions in my life to actually to implement: I quit my job. Gah, even typing that stirs up some tears of sadness. We planned for me to become a stay-at-home mom when I was pregnant with big sister, well, actually way back when we first talked about getting married. We purposely bought a foreclosed {read: cheaper} house, focused hard on paying off debt, and made other decisions to set us up to be able to survive {barely} on one income. But once I told my employer I didn’t plan on coming back to work after having big sister, God led us a different direction with my job and the offer to work from home a few days a week. Two years later, with this pregnancy, we were pretty certain {unless God showed us a different way again} that I should leave my job once little brother was born. I know it’s what’s best for my family, but it didn’t make it any easier to actually do. I love my job and my employer. I would be happy doing that job until I retire, which I know is a rare thing. I love my coworkers. They’re my friends, and to leave them without a manager during the busy season just broke my heart. However, countering all those feelings was an even stronger feeling on certainty that for right now, in this phase of life, for my family, I need to be home with my children, 100% available to them, and focused on pouring into their lives. Now, just because I knew it was the right decision, didn’t mean it wasn’t a sacrifice to actually make it. It’s a scary thing to quit a job you love and one in which you’ve worked so hard. Selfishly, on the surface I wanted to keep working; however, I just knew deep down it was the best choice for me or my family right now for me to quit…even if it didn’t necessarily feel right every second along the way.

When I actually had my meeting to resign, God graciously confirmed my decision with very positive feedback and affirmation from my CEO and other coworkers. Despite others telling me it was a good choice, once the decision was final, I really struggled mentally with no longer working outside of being a mom. I’m a type A personality. I like having clear expectations, clear measurements for success, clear feedback, and comfortable finances. Also, {I don’t mean this to sound conceited}, but I like doing a job I’m good at. All of those things, they just don’t exist in the SAHM world. I don’t feel like I’m ever doing a good job as a mom. {I’m pretty sure most mom’s experience that feeling too.} I don’t have any clear measurements for success or feedback. My two-year-old can’t tell me I did a good job at the end of the day, and honestly, neither can my husband. I’m learning to try to find my affirmation from my relationship with Christ, but it’s a hard thing for me right now.

My friend gave me good advice of setting goals for the day, like to keep my cool and not lose my temper, prioritize my kids above my to-do list, teach them something new each day, etc. That has helped me stay motivated and focused. And honestly, I’m so busy and involved with two right now, I can’t even imagine working. I always said that I wanted to do my job well, and I would quit my job if I felt like I wasn’t doing my job in the office well or my job at home as a mom well. As humbling as it has been to experience this, I’m completely sure I cannot do both jobs well. Even doing one {being a mom} is a stretch! I’ve been both a working mom and a SAHM, and let me tell you, both are incredibly hard. I Right now, being a stay at home mom is the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s also the most important job I’ve ever done, so perhaps that’s why it seems so hard to me…I put lots of pressure on myself with the immense responsibility I feel for my kiddos.

It’s been a big change, but with the loss of my job, I’ve also added in other very positive things that I wasn’t able to fit in while working. We go to playgrounds, we play with friends, we go to a weekly Bible Study {BSF}, we hike at the park, we have coffee dates with family, I do a small group with church friends, etc. We stay very busy, but it’s a quality, focused busy, not just preoccupied busy, answering calls and emails while trying to keep little sister distracted. This new kind of busy makes my heart much happier.

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I miss work. I miss lots of things about work. But I’m truly happy with the change. I realize I’m so blessed to even have the opportunity to choose not to work. Financially, it’ll be tight, but I’d rather scrimp, live on little for a few years, and even dip into our savings if we have to. I’m okay with being poor. It’ll be a sacrifice for us, but one we’re happy to make. As cliché as it sounds, even if we’re poor financially, because we’re living how we want to and how we think God wants us to, in my eyes, that means we are pretty rich! I may take on a part-time job later on, but for now, this is where we are – Eugene working his tail off at a new school, and me working my tail off at home with the kids. I’m learning so much about myself and humbly seeing many areas in which I need to grow. We are adapting. We are maturing. We are showing each other grace through the sometimes painful process of change. And we are most certainly blessed.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Makeshift family pictures.

Okay, in case you were wondering, I’m still alive…despite my lack of presence on this blog. It’s a little time-consuming keeping up with a two-year-old and feeding an infant! I have a lot of pictures from the past two and a half months that I hope to post on here sometime soon. Maybe when my kids are 20 and 22 I’ll get around to posting them. ;)

Anyway, here’s some makeshift family pictures. As hard as it is to take a shower, squeeze into my too-small jeans, get the kids dressed/fed/groomed, and drive to a park before it’s time to feed little brother again – I pushed to get these pictures because I know I’ll want to see my little ones and our sweet family at this stage in life. Exhausting, but probably worth it.

I asked Eugene’s sister to take some pictures for me. Basically I posed us and told here where to put the focus dot, and then she’d snap it for us. It was more challenging than I expected to pose a picture that I’m supposed to be in –just kind of odd. I’m really appreciative to Rita {and Mark} for their willingness to tag along with us and help us out. Not surprisingly, I think I look gross in all these pictures, but I still think we got a few good ones of everyone else. {It’s really tough to adjust to the constantly changing body of pregnancy/post-pregnancy fluctuations. Not fun. I miss my volleyball days when my body was that of an athlete.} Okay, I’m off topic. Blame it on the lack of sleep. Enough rambling – here are the pictures.

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Life as a family of four sure has been different. It’s been a growing season for me especially. I’ll try to share more on that later too. I look at these pictures and see two complete miracles. I’m so humbled to see the pictures of us. It’s still surreal to me. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the idea that I’ve been gifted two sweet babies and a husband who loves us. Truly a gift.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Backyard photo session for little brother.

I captured a handful of photos of little brother in our backyard while he was napping. I’m pretty sure I’ll cherish these forever. I love this sweet little guy and his big sister too.

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That last pic. Oh my, love.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Pictures from the hospital.

I have a feeling most of my posts are going to be pretty much all pictures for a while. It’s much quicker to skip the writing part – plus sleep deprivation doesn’t go well with attempting to write anything coherent! Below are some pictures we took while in the hospital after the birth of little brother. Big sister absolutely loved getting to hold her brother.

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I love my little family of four. God is so good.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Baby brother’s birth.

I’m two weeks late on this, but Eugene & I are overflowing with joy to announce the birth of our son!

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His birth story is quite a bit different from his sister’s. Although, similar to his sister, he decided to come after I attended a Bible study. Guess the Spirit really moves my kiddos! ;)  I went to a Bible study at 7pm on Monday night. I was having some contractions, enough to where I decided to start timing them. During the Bible study they were anywhere from 10 to 20 min apart and starting to get more intense and regular. The whole day I was feeling a little weird. I told Eugene that I thought I felt off, and I even predicted that I’d have the baby on Tuesday because I worked a LONG and HOT outdoor event on Sunday. When I had big sister, she also came two days after a huge military event I coordinated.

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Like I said, during my Bible Study from 7-9pm, I was having semi-regular contractions…enough that I started to time them. I didn’t really think much of them because I had tons of contractions the last month or so of my pregnancy. It was just normal to have them off and on throughout the day. When I got home from Bible Study, I talked to Eugene a little about our days, then got ready for bed. We laid down around 10:30pm, read a chapter from Psalms together, prayed together, then turned off the light. Eugene usually falls asleep way faster than I do, so try to use that quiet time to have some personal prayer myself. I kid you not – I was praying to God, “I trust your timing, Lord, but if it’s your will, please let the baby come in the next day or two.” During that exact prayer, I felt a pop/small burst, and I knew my water had broken. I told Eugene and he jumped out of bed and began packing. {He isn’t one to pack bags ahead of time…luckily, I had already packed my bag and big sister’s bag.} I told Eugene I didn’t want to leave right away and I wanted time to make sure it was my water breaking. Last time, my water broke around 4pm, and I didn’t have the baby until almost 7am. I didn’t see the need to rush to the hospital just to hang out walking the halls again.

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Eugene’s mom came over to sleep at our house so we didn’t have to wake up big sister. {Thank you, Lori!} I got my stuff together, washed my hair, {yes, I wasn’t about to have greasy hair for 2 days in the hospital!}, and we headed in to the hospital about 30 minutes after my water initially broke.

When we got there, we checked in, and headed to triage. I answered 2,000 questions, and then they checked my progress. The nurses kept saying how difficult it was to tell because the baby was so incredibly low. Eventually they told me I was already at 6 cm and having regular contractions. This was going to be much quicker than the first time!

I asked for a nurse who was comfortable with a birth without pain medicine, and God gave me an absolutely amazing nurse. Complete blessing! Nicole, my nurse, got me on antibiotics {I tested positive for Group B Strep}, and then she kindly suggested a few tips to get the labor moving even quicker – rocking my hips on my birthing ball, moving to all fours on the bed, and relaxing my lower muscles with each contraction. She was helpful but not forceful or overbearing. I cannot praise her enough – she made my whole labor experience so much better than my first!

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My sister and Eugene were there to help me through the painful contractions. My sister played with my hair, got me water {I was ridiculously thirsty the whole time}, and massaged/put pressure on my back during the contractions. Eugene stood in front of me while I would lean all my weight on him and bear hug him with each contraction. He would talk me through them and let me know when the contraction was almost over by watching the monitor. That was really helpful for me to know when each one was almost over. I just remember saying how sleepy and tired I was. I seriously wanted to fall asleep while sitting on the birthing ball. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and I could hardly hold myself up {which is why I wanted to lean on Eugene.} Without Nicole, Eugene, and my sister, I couldn't have made it through the labor and delivery without pain medication or without keeping my sanity! ;)

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My water broke around 10:40pm, and little brother arrived a short 4 hours and 40 some minutes later. Waaay faster this time! It was intense. Very strong contractions, but thankfully I didn’t have back labor this time. That back labor and pitocin last time was AWFUL. I am so thankful that I didn’t experience either of those this time around.

This time around the doctor was already at the hospital, which is a good thing because I transition to being ready to push ridiculously fast. Once it was time to push, it only took 15 minutes or less to meet little brother. I think the labor was easier this time around, but delivery and after delivery was much more painful this time. Perhaps the epidural I got way too late last time actually kicked in ever so slightly to take the edge off of the after delivery part. This time, not so much…I’ll spare you details on that. ;)

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As painful and unpleasant as this delivery was, I had a great labor and delivery. Little brother was surprisingly extremely active through the whole labor so I never had to worry if he was okay. I made it through it as I wanted to, without an epidural. I had an awesome nurse and support, enough time to get a full dose of antibiotics in, and it went much faster this time…without pitocin or back labor! Seriously, God was all over every aspect of baby brother’s birth. Thank you, Lord!

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We are so in love with this little guy. What an absolute blessing he is.

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