Thursday, January 31, 2013

God Is Faithful!

Just wanted to pop in and give a huge PRAISE JESUS because God has met us where we are this week, and once again shown us how detailed His faithfulness is.

At the beginning of the week, I had a very discouraging, tear-filled conversation with our insurance agency when they told us how few of therapy visits Israel got per year. We were really hoping to add to his therapy sessions and not only do physical, but occupational and speech too. This conversation with our insurance basically said we couldn't do all three, and would have to choose what therapy would be a priority.

I called our pediatrician, saying "how do we choose?" when Israel needs so much help, but there is a limited number of therapy appointments he can get per year.

And God already had it planned out!

Our state Early Intervention Program, where we receive 2 PT visits per month, has graciously offered to do one visit per month of PT, Speech AND OT! This is a tremendous gift and we are so grateful that they are willing to stretch beyond what their books allow to meet Israel's needs. They truly care for us. I can't thank our EI team enough.

In other good news, I was accepted into graduate school to pursue my Masters in Social Work (I have a BSW). This has been a long-time dream for me, and when we got married Will promised that I would have my "turn" to do school and he has certainly encouraged me to be in this place now pursuing it. I am so thankful for Will and that he supports me in pursuing my masters. My desire is that with a MSW I can work in adoptions, write homestudies, or work with special needs families. I believe that I will work part-time while I have young kids, but I am anxious to get back into the work field and to continue using the gifts God has given me, while also being a mama.

With the thought of doing grad school (online, by the way) Will and I knew that we would put Israel in day care about 2-3 days a week. Our WONDERFUL EI program also has a day care offered to their clients- and Israel would get 2 free days per week! What a gift. Seriously, God is so gracious to us and today I am just seeing how detailed and specific He is in His care for me and my family.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Created for Care

This was my third year attending the Created for Care adoption retreat. I think each year it has taught me so much, but very different things. The first year, we were less than a year into the adoption process - so I was soaking up all of the information, but I was mostly just amazed that there were so many like-minded women who cared about Jesus and orphan care. The second year (last year), we were in-between trips and had just left our son in Ethiopia. C4C was a great refresher for me because I was surrounded by people who could identify with me in the season I was in. Also, I learned so much about the hard places that our kids come from and how important it is to create a safe, stable environment at home.

This year, we are pretty settled at home, but I have been very discouraged lately. I don't talk about Israel's special needs much online, because I don't feel it is appropriate for me to share his business and I don't really want everyone to know all that he is going through. For a while, though, I have just felt really overwhelmed and fearful. I have felt upset that the Lord would call me to this path, when I don't feel equipped. I have had a lot of negative feelings and emotions about the future and what God has in store for us, because I feel like I'm barely surviving as it is. A lot of what I have been scared of is completely unknown, so it doesn't even make sense for me to be so afraid when I'm just playing out scenarios in my head!

So, going into the weekend I really hoped for a time of refreshment and a renewed sense of my calling as a mom. Don't get me wrong- I wouldn't trade Israel for who he is for anything! I just get overwhelmed by all that he needs sometimes and wish that it would be easier, or that I would know what to do to help him.

One thing the Lord really pressed into me this weekend was that God didn't call me to this life, this season, because I am so equipped. I am not equipped. He called me to this because GOD is equipped. God has what I need to sustain me through this season, and to be the best parent possible. God chose me because I AM weak, and when I am weak, He is strong and He is glorified through my weakness. He gave me the opportunity to parent a special needs child because I get to take part in God's glory. I get to rejoice over small things that become big things. I get to rejoice in things that are miracles to us that may be simple milestones to others. He picked me for bigger blessings! I'm just not looking at them in the right way.

Of course, I learned a lot about adoption, sensory issues, being a mama, and other things at the retreat- but the main thing I walked away with was a sense of relief. I have been trying to parent in my own strength, and it is exhausting. I am so thankful for the weekend away and for the opportunity to be reminded of God's faithfulness to us.

My second favorite part of the weekend was the community of believers. I roomed with three precious women who have beautiful hearts. We had a beautiful prayer time with women from our adoption agency late Saturday night, and I was able to connect with women who are in various stages of the adoption process. I hugged the necks of women whose kids were at Hannah's Hope with my son, and had loved on him during their trips and taken pictures for us. I had dinner with one of my other special-needs Mama friends and we both had exciting moments where God gave us hope for our children. It was so special, and the trip would be worth it alone for the time to connect with these women who mean so much to me. It makes me tear up thinking about it because most of these people I would never get the chance to spend time with otherwise, yet they have been so influential in my faith and in my role as mama.

If you haven't ever been, I encourage you to go! There is a March retreat this year, and there will be retreats next year too (registration is in August!). It is worth the investment, my friends.

Makenzie and Hewan's Visit

Earlier this month, Will went to North Carolina for 10 days so my dear friend Makenzie and her daughter came to stay with us for a few days.  Makenize and I have been friends for a few years, but our friendship was strengthened when we spent a week in Ethiopia together last May! Our sweeties shared a bedroom at Hannah's Hope!


Makenzie is a true friend, because I gave her only a few days notice and a text "hey want to come stay with me for a few days... like next week?" and she was committed to it! Love her. Hewan was SO PRECIOUS!!! She has some amazing little tricks and is so funny, so sweet.





Israel and Hewan had a fun few days together. We decided to take a lot of pictures for their rehearsal dinner slideshow oneday ;). We can dream, right? Maybe arranged marriages will be cool again.



Love these kiddos together. Love Makenzie for being a great mama and friend. Thanks for coming to play!

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Saying Yes to Adoption"

I immediately recognized the title of the article because it bears the same name as my blog, yet this is written far more eloquently than anything I will ever create.

Noel Piper's post "Saying Yes to Adoption" has been floating around my facebook news feed. This post is a detailed look into the thought process behind their family's decision to adopt their daughter. If you have ever been in the place where you are trying to decide God's will regarding your family and adoption, or you and your spouse weren't on the same page, reading her post will probably be enlightening and informative. I mean, it is Noel Piper afterall.

So check out here post here. And now I should probably change my blog title because I would hate for someone to google her post and find this little blog instead- disappointment would be an understatement, ha!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Word of the Year

The month of January has been a bit of a reflecting season for me. I know lots of people have posted this weeks ago, but I really wanted to think about what word I wanted to claim for myself in this year- what I wanted the theme to be.

Finally, I settled on "GROWTH".

Growth... to grow as a mom, wife, and friend. To grow in my skill sets as a homemaker. To grow spiritually. To grow in my disciplines and self-control. To grow mentally and to challenge myself. To grow deeper and fuller in my knowledge of Christ and His grace.

John 15 is the passage that really led me to my word:
 

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

What's your word of the year?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Created for Care.... this weekend!!!!

I cannot say enough that I am EXCITED EXCITED EXCITED about going back to Created for Care this weekend. Created for Care is a "retreat" for women who are passionate about orphan care/adoption/foster care and is a beautiful gospel-filled, community-filled weekend. This is my third time going (yeah, spoiled!) and I'm looking forward to it so much! I have three fabulous roomies and I can't wait to spend time with them and all the other friends that I have grown to love and respect. Some I've never met in person!

But I have to admit something... I'm also a little intimidated! It's like going into summer camp in a way. It is a big reunion for some and it is also a little scary too. I am a closet introvert and actually pretty shy. I put on a brave face but I get all sweaty and nervous when I walk into a big room filled with 400 women who seem to know each other. So if you see me... say hey! I'm nervous too :)

It's the second time I've left Israel, and I must say that I'm not really nervous about it, ha! After two weeks of single parenting, I'm happy to pass the torch to my husband so he can have a weekend of quality time with Israel!

So... who's going to be there too? Leave a comment with your blog so I can memorize your faces, ha! :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

What I Owe to Dr. MLK, Jr.

As a privileged white woman, it is easy for me to just half-heartedly acknowledge today's holiday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day.

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."
-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963

But that would be a huge mistake. You see, I owe a lot to Dr. King too. Dr. King paved the way for my family to be who we are. Dr. King and his brave followers are the reason that I had diversity in my public schools, that my teachers and healthcare professionals and coworkers don't look like me. People who have shaped me, contributed to my environment, befriended me, etc... their rights were fought for and defended long ago by heroes who knew that injustice wasn't truth.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others."
-- Strength to Love (1963)

I really hope that if I had been alive in the Holocaust era, or during the Civil Rights movement, I would have stood up for the injustices of those who needed my help. But then again, there is still injustice today, and victims who need fighting for NOW- are we standing up for them? Are we honoring Dr. King and others who advocated for freedom and equality?  (Don't know what I mean? Think orphan crisis, child slavery, human trafficking, abortion.)

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."
-- "I Have a Dream" speech, August 28, 1963

 So Dr. King, and the brave advocates who endured hardships and trials and persecution... thank you. Thanks for paving the way so that I could be a white woman with a black son. Thank you for dreaming of a time when white and black children would hold hands and play together, be siblings together, be best friends or grow up to be spouses. Thank you for your courage.

My friends' daughters playing together at the park recently.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.
-- "I Have a Dream" speech, August 28, 1963

Source for Dr. King quotes found here

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Very Spoiled Weekend

This weekend I have been VERY spoiled. And I don't hate it.

Friday morning my parents called to see if I could meet them in Oxford (30 minutes drive for me, 1.5 hrs for them) to take me to lunch and shopping! Israel and I loaded up and we thoroughly enjoyed the veggie plate from Cracker Barrel (I can never decide on which sides to get, thus the veggie plate!). Afterwards, mom & dad got me some new clothes, which was so generous!

That evening Will, Israel and I drove to Gadsden to meet his parents for dinner (45 minute drive for us, hour drive for them) to do a truck switch-off because Will's dad graciously lent Will his awesome truck to drive to North Carolina for school. We had a delicious dinner and Israel loved seeing his other set of grandparents in the same day! And by some great miracle, Israel slept the whole drive home! He never falls asleep in the car seat. We ended the night with a Redbox movie at home, and still managed to get in bed early!

Saturday, we lounged, we took about an hour long family walk, and then we went on a DATE!!! Before Will even returned earlier this week from his trip, I asked our favorite babysitter/college student Elaina to watch Israel for us Saturday night. Israel loves people in general, but there are a few people that he REALLY LOVES, and Elaina is one of those. While Elaina and Israel played, Will and I had a fancy date night out courtesy of some generous gift cards! We had a four course dinner at Olive Garden (dont judge) and then did some shopping at baby Gap- all free for us thanks to the generosity of others.

Basically, this weekend has been a blessing because of our amazing support system. I can't express enough how amazing it is to have our parents close by during this season. It's also so reassuring to have people love us and love Israel so well. If we didn't have the eating out, shopping, etc but just had the knowledge of how loved and supported we are, we'd feel just as spoiled.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fifteen Days of Single Parenting

MY HUSBAND COMES HOME TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, maybe I should explain. Since January 1, my husband has been gone. First, to the Passion Conference with our college students. Then he came home for a brief less-than-48-hours but was quarantined with flu-like symptoms. Then he left for 10 days for school in North Carolina.

We made it, folks. God is good.

Let me say that the past fifteen days have been hard. Sanctifying. Exhausting. I definitely have a new appreciation for full-time single moms and those whose spouses are deployed!

I don't want to just be pitiful, because I know that Will had it rough too. He was sick, having to study all day, drive 10 hours each way, and was away from his family. This is definitely a season full of sacrifices but we are positive that it will pay off one day! I'm so proud of him for pursuing his education so he can be more equipped to serve our church.

I want to give a very special shout out to a few people who kept me sane: my girl Makenzie who drove from Nashville to stay with me for a few days, my in-laws who let me and Israel come stay for a few days (and who graciously helped me with Israel!), and my friend Brittany who let me have several play dates! Also a huge thanks to our friends the Talberts who hosted Will for so long and took care of him! I am so thankful for a fabulous support system.

And my reward for single parenting? A date night Saturday and the Created for Care conference in a week! Whoop whoop!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Shout Out: Abby & John!

Meet Abby and John!


We met each other in university choir -- Abby from Pennsylvania & John from Nova Scotia, Canada.  We were smitten.  And by God's grace, we knew our lives would be more usable as a team than as singles.  So we were married in 1999.  After some time in the workforce for Abby and some higher education for John, we moved to Canada.  All four of our boys were born there.  Four boys in five years.  Yes, we are very blessed.  Lots of diapers and sleepless nights back then, but that's all a blur now.


We spent nearly 10 years working in various lay capacities and full-time ministry opportunities, until God opened the doors for us to move to Pennsylvania and assume the role of senior pastor with a growing congregation.


God had placed adoption on our hearts within a year after our fourth son was born.  We began to research and pray about this possibility.  While still living in Canada, we decided to go ahead and start the process.  However, when it became clear that we would be moving to the States again, we decided to put the process on hold.  Now we are pursuing this calling again.  We are excited to see what God will do!  The next step is sending our dossier to Ethiopia.  Our boys are looking forward to a little sister!  And we are eager to share this adoption story with others, in order for them to catch a glimpse of God’s love & grace!

Our fundraisers:

Custom Pencil Portrait Raffle on our blog http://4onemore.weebly.com/1/post/2013/01/here-we-go-a-raffling.html- I’ve attached a picture “Bethany Kerr” showing her custom work.  Bethany is the artist. 



My etsy shop -- www.etsy.com/shop/4onemore  







We are an affiliate family at Once Was Lost -- oncewaslost.storenvy.com  -- mention our name in checkout, and we will receive 50% toward our adoption 
Once Was Lost was created by a Canadian family as they were trying to raise money for their own adoption and noticed a lack of adoption fundraising opportunities for Canadians. They knew that they wanted to help others raise support for their adoptions and after some brainstorming Once Was Lost was born.  They are currently helping Canadian and American families fundraise for their adoptions but have dreams of expanding in the future.

        Once Was Lost sells T-shirts, pillows, jewelry...

        **Every $25 spent in their store will feed a child for a week, plus support an adoption! **


  Check out their blog here: 4onemore.weebly.com/how-you-can-help.html


Are you interested in a blog shout out? Find out more information here

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fifteen Months!

Dear Israel,

Today you are fifteen months old! It seems like you just got so much bigger this month. You're so funny right now. You are so expressive and silly and have definite moods. You throw your head back smiling and squint when you are really proud of yourself and you have a definite lip pucker when you're upset. You keep us on our toes for sure!

This month we've seen a bit more disobedience, especially when it comes to taking off your glasses. Sometimes it seems like I am saying "Don't touch glasses!" over and over and over again. It is not my favorite part of parenting, but hopefully one day you will leave them alone because I think it is part of my sanctification process, ha! You will put your arm in the air next to your head and watch me until I see you and then slowly reach for the glasses to pull them down. It is a big game to you that I don't think is as funny as you think it is.

You are playing more with your toys and that is really fun. You got a lot of new toys for Christmas and you are trying new things with your hands. We've had a lot of play dates this month and it is really sweet to see you start to interact with others. Typically you are just an observer but you're starting to touch others and play a little too. Your friend Hewan came and stayed for a few days and after the second day you started to respond to her affection and even played with some toys together. We're hoping these play dates will do a lot of things for you, including motivate you developmentally!

You are eating like a champ, as usual, and have successfully mastered the sippy cup! I'm so proud of you! First the bottle, and now the cup- you are holding it and picking it up repeatedly to put in your mouth. It may not seem big but it is, darling, and we are so thankful for progress.

We started back to physical therapy this week after about a month's break and you did awesome! I think the break was good for you because you came back and had just a few tears for Miss Jill. You're bearing weight on your feet so much better and have such great core control now. I have high hopes that you will crawl and walk this year.

This month you were sick a lot. You had an ear infection and a cold and it was miserable! You were pitiful and there were many times I said "I don't know what to do!" which I'm afraid I've said quite a few times since your arrival into our lives. But this month, it seemed that I was at a loss on comforting you when you were sick and unhappy. Thankfully you seem to be better now! If we could just finish teething then I think we'd be just fine :).

We saw a lot of family this month due to the holidays and you were out of your routine a good bit. I still don't know what to do with your nap schedule because you are not consistent at all. Some days you are desperate for a nap by 8:30 am and then some days you don't want to nap at all. This month your dad was gone for a good bit due to a conference and classes in another state; I can tell that it really messed you up. You missed him so much!

Your favorite things right now are your Baby Einstein words dvd, your yellow toy with gears that you spin, drinking out of your sippy cup, being in your Johnny Jump Up (not jumping really- just spinning) and playing your piano at the same time, banging toys together, and singing/clapping.

Although you're not mobile, you are keeping me busy son! You are so fun and we just can't get over the fact that you are so precious and that you are OURS forever! We love you!

Love,
Mama
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