Monday, March 28, 2016

The Hope of Easter

Happy Easter to all!  It seems like each year Easter means a little something different to me in my life.  Of course, it will ALWAYS be about Jesus and my salvation because of Him, but this year, the specific meaning to my life seems a little different.  I have had to learn more and more over the past couple of years that trusting in my plans was NEVER going to work.  As a person who likes to be in control, this has not been an easy road for me.  I would like to say that as I have become stronger in my faith that I have been able to have peace about everything and just trust that God has my plans mapped out and I can ride along without questioning.  This is a skill I have not yet mastered...but I am getting there!

As I sat in church yesterday morning, our associate pastor was giving the sermon because our pastor was home with his wife who will likely go home to be with her Lord soon.  Just thinking about the strength they have all had through this brought me to tears, as he read a post from them about their peace with the situation.  It's an incredible faith that can praise God an glorify him through a time like this.  So overwhelming to me to hear this as I think about things in my life that I worry about.  WHY oh WHY do I worry???  If He can raise Jesus from the dead, then is there anything in my life that He cannot handle?  I seriously doubt it.  He tells us from that very resurrection day to not worry, and to have peace, why is it so hard to do that?  I can tell you from my experience that far better things have come into and out of my life when I trust in His plan instead of mine.  I can't figure out why it's so hard to trust with all of my heart when I know in my head that His plan always outdoes mine!

In the sermon this morning, he said, "Peace is resting in God's sovereignty"....Resting....doesn't that sound great?  I think that for years I have run myself ragged with trying to be in control when all He wanted was for me to rest, and trust, and to give me amazing peace.  In the past year or two, life has been turned upside down, but amazingly I have more peace in my life that ever before.  Logically, that makes no sense at all.  But, when I look at my faith, it makes total sense.  I have FINALLY learned how to give things up, and how to truly have peace, and how to really rest with Him, and as much as I thought I would hate giving up that control, it truly is freeing.  I feel so much lighter, I laugh more, I love more, and I smile more.  AMAZING.  I believe that is what He so longs for us to have and to understand.  He doesn't want to give us rules to follow, or tell us who/how to act or be.  He wants to give us such amazing freedom in Him, and when you accept it, it really is peace.  It doesn't mean that all will go as you think it should, or that you won't have crappy days, or that you won't yell at your kids when you should have been calm and loving....but it means that even with all of that, you have peace in your mind, you have joy in your heart, and you have love in your house.

Easter to me is such a time of great hope.  Hope for new beginnings, and hope that no matter what is happening now, there is a plan.  Do you think that God didn't know the third day was coming?  He obviously could have stopped Good Friday from ever existing...but he didn't.  He knew the plan.  He always knows the plan and always wants what is best for us.  I'm so thankful that He is better at knowing what is best for us so that I can have hope for the future.  Since I have learned to let Him have my worries (most of the time), I am able to have peace and trust in the plan that He has for me.  I believe that He knows and wants what is best for me, and I am going to choose every day to trust, have peace, and be joyful.  There is hope, always.  It is okay to believe that things even though sometimes things are hard, they are still good and that everything that happens is shaping me to make the best of what is coming in the future.

Life is good.  His plan is amazing.  There is hope, always

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What a trip!!

I wanted to go ahead and get some of these pictures shared before I forgot what everything was!  It was such an amazing trip, just far to short.  There was so much to see, that I really needed at least a week to be there (so maybe next time...)  I have to say, I loved so many things about Holland, and the thing I love the most is that most people were not in such a hurry to get everything done.  Things are more relaxed for sure, and I love that there are more bikes than cars, which just makes everything seem so much more peaceful.  I absolutely loved it.  I spent the day Friday on a bike (for the first time in about 20 years!) and a boat, touring Amsterdam!!  It was so beautiful.  The buildings were so beautiful to look at, and everywhere I looked, I needed to take a picture....well, except maybe in the red light district....there I just kind of rode by with my mouth gaping open!!
I can't believe I rode a bike again!!

 At least 15 miles in one day on a bike!!

The canals were even more peaceful than the streets.  Floating along for a couple of hours to see the city, I got to see so much of the city!

With just 1 day in the city, there was no time to actually go IN the museum, but luckily it was just as beautiful outside!

I thought it was really ironic that the Amsterdam official flag has a XXX on it....

This was a "nurse home", where nurses would live while working

After spending Friday in Amsterdam, we went back to Utrecht, and got to see the city very quickly on Saturday before we had to head to Brussels!  It was enough time to see even more beautiful things (and some really cute kids!!)

This was totally the best part of the trip!!  Getting to spend time with these two was so great.  Hearing them say my name....priceless!!!

For some reason, this picture just seems to show everything that I loved in the short time I was there.  The bike, the green, and just the relaxing peaceful feeling

This church was so beautiful and reminded me of the church that I grew up in.  Many of the same lines and feeling.  There was something about it that just made me so overwhelmed in there.  I had tears in my eyes by the time I walked out.  It was gorgeous

This building is part of the University at Utrecht

LOVE him

When people ask me why I wanted to become a surrogate....THIS is why...families are made, love is shared

And of course, I got to try McDonalds while I was there!  Had an interesting sandwhich that was very typical Dutch, I'm told.  a McCroquet...interesting to be sure!

These pictures hardly sum up what a great trip it was!  I have hundreds of pictures, and just had to pick some of the best ones!  Oh are the BEST ones!!

If only you could hear the laughter that went along with this picture!

I swear I could eat up those cheeks!!!

Blowing bubbles on the porch!!

I had lots of good packing help before I left!

Truly blessed to be able to be in their lives!!!  I can't wait to get to see them (well, and their parents) again!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Here I am....

So, here I am....two days before I take my very last test for school.  Just a little over a week until I walk across the stage for graduation.  Probably a month or so before I take my boards and can finally say that I'm a Nurse Practitioner.  Truthfully, I never thought I would be here.  When I started, I hoped that I would finish, but I never really thought I would.  Along the way I've had alot of set backs, and a 2 year program has taken me close to I am....and I've learned so much more than school stuff through the past few years.

I've learned that if you want something bad enough, you will make it happen.  I'm not sure where  I have found the time, or the energy to study and take tests and do clinical, but I know each day I would do it.

I've learned that unless you have people willing to stand beside you and sometimes behind you pushing you past that roadblock and on to your next step, you will never make it.  Having family and friends believing in you when you don't believe in yourself is so so important.

I've learned that I will never know it all.  I would like to, but I can't, and I need to accept that I won't be perfect, and that sometimes that's okay.

I've learned that it's vital to take time out to breathe....and have fun....and make sure that you are still LIVING, because after all, what's the point of any of it if you aren't having fun?

I've learned to love myself for who I am....and this is pretty huge for me.  My whole life I've wished this or that was different.  I've finally, after 36 years, accepted things like my curly hair, my turned up nose, and my maybe not as thin as it should be body.  I actually kind of like when I smile and I can see the fine lines around my eyes, it means that I've smiled enough for them to be there.  I've learned that I am good enough....just the way I am is good enough....I don't have anything to prove, I'm not competing with anyone (well, maybe myself!), and that I just need to be me, and be happy in my own skin.

I've learned that life is messy, but life is amazing.  I've been so busy for so many years that I know I've missed things.  I've put things to the side that shouldn't have been, and I hope to make up for that now that things will settle a little.  I don't want to ever make people think that I have it all together, I want people to know that the mess is okay, it's what makes us who we are.

I think the most important thing I've learned is that none of this comes without pushing through fear and following in faith.  Even through all of the craziness, I've been able to feel at peace.  Even though things may not be as I planned, I know that God knows His plan, and I can trust.  I truly feel at peace with my life, which is not something I've been able to say much throughout my life.  I know some things need to change, and I'm working on that, but I also know that He has my back, and wow....that's amazing.

School has taught me tons about medications, treatment plans, insurance coverage, and lab tests....but life during school has taught me the most valuable lessons, and I am forever thankful for the opportunity to be able to have this journey.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I've had it all wrong....

This little card has been stuck to my bulletin board at my desk for a few years now.  I spend alot of time at my desk, so I look at it often.  I looked at it while we were going through the adoption, and it did help me a little to think that I was strong, and that I could handle what I was being given.  I think still that I am a strong woman, and I am proud of that.  I will fight for what I believe is right, and for what I believe I should be doing.   

For years I thought that strength came from being brought up to be a strong woman.  And, in some ways it comes from that, but I think that in so many other ways it doesn't.  Don't get me wrong, I was brought up BY a strong woman to BE a strong woman, and I am thankful and proud of that.  I was taught at a pretty early age that just because I was a girl didn't me I shouldn't know how to change a tire or handle a drill, and I can't tell you how very thankful I am for those kinds of skills.  It comes in handy ALOT!!  I actually had one of our neighbor girls say to me yesterday (as I was breaking glass out of an old window to get it out of the frame), "shouldn't this be a man's job?"  I laughed a little and had to ask her why??  She said because of the tools and stuff and because I was wearing some work gloves...seriously never dawned on me that it should be a man's job!!

All that being said....let me get back to the point of this blog post.  I had a revelation while in church this past week.  The sermon was about discerning God's voice in all of the distractions of life.  This is something that I have been working on for the past couple of months.  Mainly I've been working on trying to not be so "busy" all of the time when I'm with the kids.  When they want to play, I say yes.  When they want me to snuggle with them on the couch, I say yes.  When they want to eat lunch from QT in the driveway and then jump on the trampoline, I say yes.  I'm so much more relaxed, and they are happier, and it just makes life better all around.  So, I was thinking about being less "busy" when it comes to God and listening to Him.  Do I say "yes" when He asks me to do something?  As I was pondering this, I really started to think about this quote that is not only on my bulletin board, but also on the top of this blog, and pretty ingrained in me.  Am I really strong enough for this life?  Let me tell, that answer is for sure NO!!!! There is no way that the strength I have has anything to do with me!!

Life happens, that is for sure.  Are we strong enough for it?  No way.  But, we are lucky enough to have a God that WANTS us to get our strength from HIM.  We are given this life so that we might get outside of ourselves and realize that we have this wonderful God and that we don't have to do all of this alone.  WOW....I mean, seriously...WOW....I don't have to do this on my own....I'm truly still trying to let that sink in.  I have said before that everything happens for a reason, and most of the time you can't see that reason until you are on the other side.  But, sometimes, you get a glimpse when you are in the middle of the can see what He's trying to show you and teach you.  And, if you're really lucky,  you actually learn it!!!

So, I'll be taking down my little card from my bulletin board.  Maybe this should go up instead:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What a slacker

Wow, what a slacker I've been with getting blog posts up here!!  I wish I could say it's because I've been off on some beach somewhere getting a great tan and sipping margaritas....but alas, that is not the case.  I think I've been reluctant to do a new post because life is not what I ever expected it to be right now, and I just don't really know what to say about it.  I'm not one to air everything to the public and put all my personal business out there, but for those of you that are close, you know what I'm talking about.

Our family has had some pretty huge and unexpected changes over the last several months.  Things that I guess somehow I wasn't shocked by but was shocked by all at the same time.  To say it's been hard doesn't begin to explain it.  Our life has been rocked.  Mine, the kids, everyone.  We are trying to adjust to a new normal here, and it's not been an easy task, especially with the holidays here.  I say all of this never to get sympathy, or to try to make everyone guess what is going on.  I say this so that maybe I can share a little about what I've learned.

It's so interesting to me to look back over my life and how I've grown as a person, mother, daughter, etc.  I really can see how much I've changed when I look at hard situations like this, and I can only attribute it to one thing.  I've grown in my faith.  I think that 2 years ago when we were at Christmas putting the "Waiting for us in Russia" adoption ornament on the tree while wondering what was going to happen with adoptions in Russia, I was still struggling ALOT with trusting God and His plan that He had for us.  We all know that it is hard when things are hard to sit back and trust that He's got this.  As soon as we heard that we couldn't adopt from Russia anymore, I was immediately looking into other options and trying to figure out what to do next.  What I should have been doing is sitting quietly and listening to what He wanted me to do next.  Sure would have saved me alot of work and worry!!!  Ironically, that ornament isn't hanging on our tree this year, but I do look at it almost every day.  For me, it's a reminder that while we thought our little girl was in Russia, that was just a detour for us to get to the child He really had planned for us. 

Fast forward to now, and Lainey could not be more of a part of our family, and just fits like I carried her myself.  Seeing her is truly a reminder of God's faithfulness to us, and reminds me that when I follow His plan, it always works.  I'm in a time of my life where that is very difficult to see again.  I think we all find ourselves here more than once in our lives.  I'm trying to listen, but it's so so hard with so many voices from so many places that are giving advice.  I truly truly appreciate the family and friends in my life who are standing next to me now through all of this, and don't think I would be surviving without them.  BUT, I also need to remind myself to sit and be quiet and listen to what God wants me to do, who He wants me to be, what path He wants me to take. 

I don't know what the future will hold, but I know that one day I will look back with more wisdom and be able to see how I have grown through struggle.  I will look back and see that I did the best I could do in the situation, and I trusted Him in each step knowing that His plan was in place.  I will still pray EVERY day for the situation to resolve, because I know in my heart that it can.  I will look back at my life and see the amazing things that I have been able to make it through and know that He has given me the strength to make it through this and be the mom that I need to be and the strong woman that He made me.  I will learn to trust more, I will know myself better, and I will come out even stronger. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

One year ago....

I think I've been writing this post in my head for at least a month now.  I have so many thoughts and emotions swirling around right now, and I'm honestly still in shock that our sweet girl has been with us for a year!!  When we met her in the hotel lobby, it was awkward, and I truly didn't know whether to cry, smile, pass out, or what!!  She was more than overwhelmed and just kind of zoned.
She really just didn't know what to do.  She wasn't unhappy, she didn't cry like many other kids did, but I think she was just trying to shut it all out.  We would get smiles, but I can look back now and know they weren't real smiles.  Luckily we know what those real smiles look like now.  She started giving us these cute little shoulder shrugs with the smiles, and I think that she likely did that in the orphanage to be super cute and get what she wanted!!  Cute, but not genuine yet....
Things over this past year have been full of ups and downs, and Lainey has adjusted amazingly well.  It's truly been incredible to watch her come out of her "zone" and really become the little girl that was in there.  Her smiles are real, her laughter is beautiful, and she loves like crazy!!!  She is such a happy little girl, and we are so blessed to have her join our family.

Before dedication on 10/19
Just looking at her, you can see the light in her eyes, the shine in her hair, and the fact that she has grown 4 inches since coming home last year.  So much of this can be attributed to eating well and getting good care.  But, the smiles and hugs and happiness I can only attribute to her knowing EVERY day that her family loves her, and that she has us EVERY day to hug her and take care of her. 
Crazy love for her big brothers!! 

There is truly something miraculous that happens when a child joins their family.  A child that was untrusting, and likely assumed that everyone would leave them learns to trust, learns to love, learns that she is safe, learns that she is loved, learns what a family means.

We were able to dedicate her at church yesterday, the day before her year anniversary of joining our family, and that was very overwhelming for me.  I will admit and say that right now our family does have some challenges that we are going through, and we have some problems for sure.  But, one thing is for sure, all three of our children are such an amazing blessing to us.  We know that we were chosen to be parents to these kids, no matter how they came to us, and we don't take that lightly.  It's such a huge responsibility to raise these little (or not so little anymore!) people and many days it overwhelms you, and most days I wonder if I'm doing the right things, saying the right things, and spending my time working on the right things. 

Saying we have been blessed truly doesn't seem to cover it.  Our entire family has changed.  This little girl who was essentially alone now has a mama, dada, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.  She has been welcomed with open arms, and we are very thankful for that.  There has been so much support for us, and couldn't have gotten here without that!!!

Happy Gotcha Day to our sweet Lainey!!!  Can't wait to celebrate this day every year, and celebrate the day that our lives changed again!!

We had a great dedication day/gotcha day cookout with family and friends!  And Minnie Mouse cake makes everything better!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Total Fail....

Well, I hate to admit that I've failed at something, but I have to do it....I totally failed at the "have a picture for every moment, document every step, and make sure you kid has a detailed picture account of everything they have ever done" kind of thing. fail....bummer....

This all comes from this past week.  The kids and I made the VERY long treck down to Florida to have vacation for a week.  This was not a normal vacation for me, this was one where I actually got to relax, WHAT???!!  relax on a vacation?  I know, I was surprised too!  We rented a house with a pool, and really didn't do a whole lot else!  We hit the beach twice and did some bowling and putt putt, but that was it.  And, you know was glorious!!!!  It was Lainey's first trip (I assume) to the beach, so I know I should have gotten at least 100 pictures....but I got just these....
Lainey's first steps on the beach!

"Mom...we're staring at the sun!"

You know what I got instead?  I got to sit on the beach while Lainey exfoliated my legs with a sand massage, and I got to see Noah's dimples as he was riding waves in from the water, and I got to see Gavin with a bucket trying to catch fish.  We watched the tiny clams dig into the sand, we watched the birds, and we built some sandcastles.  All that I would have missed if I was trying to get those ever so important pictures!!

The kids spent most of their time in the pool so you would think I would have gotten lots of pics of that too....but again, I didn't!!  I got to relax by the pool and read and watch the kids play together without fighting, and I got to play many games of monkey in the middle, and watch Gavin throwing Lainey in the water.  We had popsicles in the hot tub, and played until our eyes were hurting from the chlorine.  I got a couple of pics....but the memories are so much better!!

We did other things and I did snap a few pictures, but mostly we just had FUN TOGETHER.  No, my kids will not have a book of pictures about the trip to the beach.  But, they had so much fun, and it was amazing to spend fun time with them without having to worry about anything or try to keep up with the other moms who were placing their perfectly matching family pictures on the beach up on FB....I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that!!  I just have realized that while I'm trying to get this "image" of this perfect family, I'm missing out on my perfect family.  My kids are awesome and fun and hilarious...and they are growing up way too fast.  One day they won't want to be thrown in the pool, and have movie night with popcorn and icecream, or snuggle next to me on the couch when they are worn out from swimming...and I think that day will come way too soon!!
She may or may not have been eating the sand...

So awesome to have gotten to meet up with another adoptive family!


Yeah!!  Popsicles for breakfast!
Just a few others I managed to they are awesome....
Had to share this creepy one...Lainey took a while to go to sleep the first couple of nights.  No crying or anything, just hanging out...creepily....

So, yes, I failed in the Pinterest-y world we live in...but the kids told me so many times that this was the "best vacation ever!", which means I guess I wasn't really a failure!  I need to remember now that even though we aren't on vacation, I need to enjoy them now, before they are too cool to hang out with me!!