Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Story of Hope

Today we are celebrating three years as a family of seven. I still can't  tell our story without being brought to tears. What started as a simple longing to grow up and become a mom turned into a journey with years of heartbreak, endless questioning, hitting rock bottom, and then finally surrendering it all to God and ending up with a family we could never have imagined. 

I remember so clearly, as if it were yesterday, that in the months after each miscarriage I would spend time searching online for any glimmer of hope. 

Any

Tears would flow every time those Baby Center emails would come into my inbox telling me what size fruit the baby in my tummy now was. The problem was that I hadn't gotten a chance to update Baby Center that there was no longer a baby growing in my womb. 

I searched for anything that would help make sense of all that was going on in my body. I would "google" things to no end searching for stories that were similar...stories that would give me answers.

Anything, that would help make sense of it all. 

Anything.

What I found terrified me. It left me with more questions and gripped me with fear. The internet became a place of pain. There were so many stories...stories of pain. 

Then our lives took a dramatic turn. Two years ago I started sharing some of our stories and An Inviting Home began. 

Through it all I had one dream...to share this story.  

If it could give hope to one person on the other side of the screen, one person searching for answers, one person questioning everything that they had ever known...everything.

Today that dream comes true. 

This is a story of hope.



A giant thank you to our friend Ryan for helping us put this story on film.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me

A friend comes over to my house. 

Said friend looks around, sees the status of our home and then asks, do five children really live here? 

Immediately my heart sinks, I cringe on the inside. Because I know what they could be thinking..."my home doesn't look this clean!" (Please be sure to read to the end to get the full story.) And I hate to even think that they could feel bad about their home by entering mine because the truth is...well, we'll get to that.


From a quick glance our home usually is picked up and organized.

I've had friends comment before that my house must "always" be clean.


Ha! I can give you a detailed tour of all the things that need to be cleaned...couldn't we all? However, if we are talking about clutter, stuff lying around and kid's toys out in the open...it is true, things generally are picked up. The house gets messy but a day doesn't usually go by without "re-setting" the house for the next day. (In fact, I'll tell you how we get the kids to clean up in a few weeks.)

We have people over multiple days a week, as well as simply having a lot of people living here. That being the case our general rule is to pick things up each day so that we aren't tripping over things and everyone can hopefully find a place to sit. 


I'd like to say that it is a happy place to live. Full of lollipops, lemon drops and roses...can you see where I am going here? However, the truth is many times I feel just plain crazy. My personality is such that if there is a toy on the floor, I HAVE TO PICK IT UP. If I sit down on the couch and see a book under the other couch I will GRAB IT and put it back where it belongs. 

This is my brain. 

This is what I have to live with E-v-e-r-y. S-i-n-g-l-e. D-a-y.

In fact, many times I secretly wish that my home was a complete mess and that I could sit on the couch and read books and simply LEAVE THINGS BE. 

I dream of leaving things be.

Dream of it.

For so many years I've felt the damage from it all. I have a hard time relaxing. I have to be "doing" something. Things that are mismatched in my home drive me crazy. Chaos drives me batty. I long for order, simplicity and clean spaces. 

I hardly ever get to actually cleaning my house because I spend all of my time picking up the clutter and putting things back in their place.


Did I mention I have five children?

My house might be tidy but I feel as though I am going completely crazy in the process, can anyone relate?

Months ago I sat in tears in the presence of two women whom I highly respect and cherish. Both of these women are now grandmothers and I knew that we shared similar personality types. I simply said to them, "HELP ME?!?" how do I be a mom all while craving order and keeping chaos at bay?

They mentioned a few things from their experience... 

1) Less stuff
2) Leave the mess and get out of the house to go do things.
3) I do regret all of the time I spent cleaning and wish I would have stopped to enjoy the little moments more.

I soaked up what they said and have been thinking about it ever since. I'll be unpacking their thoughts more in the coming months.

Sharing this at:
Living Well Spending Less

Monday, January 12, 2015

On My Mind And In My Heart

Yesterday was a very special day. I've written a little bit about this day each year.

Yesterday I was sitting in a quiet room, in a town three hours from home. I had my laptop in front of me and my bible was sitting off to my left. My thoughts were gathered and my notes simply needed to be printed. 

I was sharing at a women's gathering that evening. I had been looking forward to this time together for months. A few days prior I found out that the event had sold out and nervousness set in.

Thankfully I convinced myself that they were coming because they heard that the food was going to be good. I was really looking forward to dinner that night...that is if my stomach can handle food and nerves all at the same time. I really look forward to events like these where we can gather as women and chat while having real life conversations (facebook has it's place...but will never replace real life conversations, I hope.)

I found myself wondering about who the speaker was and thinking, I wonder if she will be any good (oh the irony...)

I can still count on two hands how many times I've shared this story in public. I'm still pressing through feelings of inadequacy and “you can use someone else to do this God, can't you?” Yet it is the story of God's goodness and love that compels me to step out of my comfort zone and share what He has done in our lives with others.

Perhaps it is because I know that I am pretty normal and ordinary and that if God can transform my life he can transform another. Too many friends, loved ones, and complete strangers are in situations of despair, facing deep losses of loved ones, great disappointments, life threatening diagnosis, etc. I remember hitting rock bottom all too clearly and being in a place of darkness and hopelessness until I decided that the enemy WAS NOT going to win and that the only way out of this black hole was taking God for his word, that HE IS GOOD.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Last night I shared that story of hope.

The irony was that the event last night was in the same area where our miscarriages took place, where I hit rock bottom and where our daughter was born after a complete miracle. I was able to share with those dear friends and strangers that God has a plan...He 100% has a plan! Not only was it a special location to be at but the event also took place on, January 11th, which would have been Jr's (the first baby that we lost) ninth birthday.

I used to wonder every time January 11th rolled by what raising Jr. would have been like that year...what would it be like to have a child in the terrible twos stage or an energetic three year old

This is a picture of one of our sons...he turned nine this past October. 


He likes legos and playing chess and playing outside with his brothers and sisters.

There are three children with God who I CANNOT WAIT to meet some day. Oh my arms long to hold them!

But I no longer have to wonder what having a nine year old would be like.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Monthly Budget Breakdown ~ December 2014

In an effort to challenge my contentment meter and stay within a budget,
I have $50 per month to spend on Decor & DIY projects for around the house. 
On the first Tuesday of every month I'll show you how I spent it 

Here is the monthly breakdown for December...

Starting Balance = $149.47 (you can check out here to see what was spent in November.)
Income: December $50 + Starting Balance = $199.47 left to spend

This is definitely a record...at the beginning of December, I had almost TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in my home decor budget. I'm pretty proud of myself, I could actually afford to buy that rug from Target now if I wanted to! ;-) (And yet, the thought of having to clean one more thing keeps me from doing so.) Never in the history of this blog have I held on to that much money without finding something to spend it on in the process. 

While it is currently set aside safely in our bank account I have to say that a lot of behind the scenes things have been happening when it comes to the way I view decorations. Maybe it is because I am so OVER drowning in "stuff" or because things that a few years ago I just "had to have" I now find that I am dropping off at Goodwill. 

That whole..."but I NEEDED to have it"..."I just couldn't walk out of the store without it"...yeah, I am working through those feelings. I share all of that because prior to having a decor/diy budget I never would have thought twice about the things that I spent money on to make our home more comfortable, functional, and inviting. However, now I am much more aware of where I spend the money and making sure that the things that we find really important (like supporting friends who are caring for others in various parts of the world) is more a priority than what I hang on the wall. Things are shifting. I anticipate that in the coming months we will be chatting all about it. 

I did make one purchase in December. I purchased a sign from dear lillie. The total cost to purchase and print (at Staples) the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas sign was $14.12. I'm most excited about the part where I can store it in the frame all year round. A few days ago I switched the picture back to the map that was there before Christmas  and now this print is safely being stored behind it.

Beautiful & Functional! :-)


Final Breakdown...
Beginning Balance $199.47 - $14.12 (December purchases) = $185.35

Happy New Year! 
I'll be back next week with some more posts.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year In Review ~ Some Highlights of 2014

I'm really excited about the coming new year and all that it will bring! HoweverI also really enjoy looking back and remembering some special things that happened during this past year. Here are a few of the highlights...


We kicked off 2014 by revealing our guest bathroom remodel. This was a really fun space to organize as well as make an inviting space for guests. It was quite the transformation!
From a mom's perspective some of my favorite organizing projects this past year were our backpack hangers...


homework station...


and our give, save, spend jars for the kids.


Some really fun projects of the year were creating a guest book & plank feature wall in the entry and living room.


Personally I've learned that decorating isn't always about simply choosing what looks nice. In fact, one of my favorite posts this past year was sharing about the living room rug that I didn't keep.


This was the year of learning about essential oils and beginning to share various ways our family enjoys using them...like making lemon water, delicious!


It was a blessing to share with you some amazing adoption stories from some of our friends. Thank you Nate & Laura, Chris & Anna and Michael & Emily for sharing your stories with us! I also shared a little glimpse into what open adoption has been like for us and some thoughts on a conversation that happens a lot when I'm talking with others about adoption.


My only wish is that we could all sit down over coffee and chat about the highlights of your past year. Feel free to share some in the comment section, I would LOVE to hear what they were! As you look back and prepare to enter into this new year and new season may you truly know how treasured you are. Thank you friends for sharing this space on the web with me...it is a special place indeed!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From Our Family To Yours!

Merry Christmas 2014

P.S. Mommy got a remote for her camera for Christmas from daddy...game changer! Two takes and it was a wrap! Aaaand we may have also told the kids that all mom and dad wanted for Christmas was a family picture before presents could be opened. #nailedit ;-)

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Recent Visit To See Their Birth Mom

I was six years old and we were all gathered in the living room. My mom and dad were there along with my siblings. That is when it happened. Mom and dad told us that we were GOING TO DISNEY WORLD! To which the picture shows all of us kids piled on top of dad on the couch with sheer DELIGHT on our faces. 

This past Saturday we didn't tell the kids that we were going to Disney World, but we did tell them something else that right away brought me back to that childhood memory from when I was six.  

I sat them all down on the couch. Our two biological kiddos were there along with our three kiddos who we adopted. "I have a surprise!" I said. (Our kids LOVE surprises!) 

"We are going out to lunch today!"

Squeals & cheers ensued! (We try to make the whole eating out thing a treat...all five of them were thrilled.)

Then I told them, "It's also going to be really special because mommy _______ and grandma _______ are also going to be there!" 
There was cheering and squealing, hands in the air and some dancing going on! I kid you not.

I told them that they had half an hour to make some Christmas cards for their mom and grandma before we headed to see them. They darted for the dining room table, grabbed the paper, grabbed the markers and got to work. Even our two youngest joined in on making cards for them.

I've shared a little bit about how twice a year we get our kids together with their birth family. Once in the summer time and once around the holidays. It still feels like new and uncharted territory every time we get together, although it has been a couple years now that we have been doing this. As the kids get older I'm always wondering what our next gathering will look like. 

We had planned on meeting at a nice restaurant but then ended up needing to change the location at the last minute. So instead we met at a McDonalds. Thankfully there was a giant round table to fit all of us at. Presents had been brought for our three oldest kids so those were passed out first. That is when our youngest began to quietly shed tears because there wasn't a present for him. Perfect timing to suggest that we go order some happy meals with toys in them. The one time in my life I've actually been super grateful for those Happy Meal toys. "You'll get a present, buddy." His tears turned to a smile.

The kids ate their food, questions were asked about school, favorite subjects were talked about, etc. There was a giant tv on in the corner playing something about sea creatures. I tried to suggest to the kids that they stop watching the tv so that they could focus on this special time that they had with their family. That resulted in a short conversation about gym class and then ten seconds later they were captivated by the dolphins that were on the screen...kids.

They finished up their food and then we took some pictures of the kids with their family. They gave them hugs and we all said goodbye. It still amazes me seeing this story continue to unfold. Every time so far my conclusion is the same...these kids have SO MANY people who love them dearly.

open adoption visiting birth family

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