Monday, September 29, 2014

Miss Lynnox Lee

This precious bundle arrived on September 18th and made my best friend a mommy after years of struggling with infertility:

I didn't know you could love baby you've never met so much, but you totally can. I sobbed when I heard she had officially arrived safely and continue to get butterflies every time Tienna texts me a picture or an update. She is such an answered prayer and I am so happy for two of our very best friends and the joy they are finally getting to experience. And now I need to stop before I turn into a weepy mess again!

But I mean, seriously. If only there was a way I could reach through the screen and snatch this little doll baby up. I wish I could share how stunning her newborn pictures are but I better wait until her mama posts them first.

Lynnox, we love you and can't wait to meet you! I thought I was LONG past the baby fever days but you proved me wrong.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bigger Plans

I'm about to type out a post that I really wish I wasn't typing out. But God has been nudging me to journal my thoughts and here goes.

I received a text on Friday that the girls were being removed from our home and placed with a biological relative. Two hours later, they were gone. Just like that. Gone forever. As you can imagine, many tears were shed that day and many days since. Of course we always knew this was a possibility going into foster care, but we were still caught so off guard. Every caseworker from every agency involved in this case have all said this was looking like it was going to be a very long-term placement. Anywhere from a year to forever. The permanency goal had already been changed to unrelated adoption. And yet here we are.

I won't share the details, but the environment that they were sent back to is not good. I do believe that reunifying families is absolutely what's best if the kids will be raised in a healthy, safe, and loving home. But sadly this doesn't appear to be the case and my heart hurts for them.

I've been doing a lot of processing and I would say that my grief can be divided into two categories. The first one is kind of selfish. It's the part that didn't want to let them go. The part that just misses the heck out of them and is heartbroken that I'll never see their sweet faces again.  The other part of my grief that I've struggled the most with is thinking about their future and how they're feeling. They had come so far with their trust and abandonment issues and had attached to us like our own children. They called us Mommy & Daddy & Sissy & Bubba and fit into our family perfectly. They struggled with huge anxiety and were always worried that we were going to leave them. And I can't help but think that from their 3-year old perspective, that's exactly what we did. My biggest prayer is that they know just how much they are valued. That they understand that they are loved tremendously and are wanted so very much. And that even when people fail them, they still recognize that God never will.

It's awful how fast Satan starts creeping into your thoughts when something like this happens. He whispers things like, all of this has been pointless. And, there's no hope for these girls now. And, just think of all the 'I told you so's' people are going to be thinking...the same people who are probably glad that they are gone. I wanted to be pissed off at CPS and the judge and their biological family and pretty much the entire world. I wanted to grumble and complain and SCREAM about how broken the system is. I wanted to climb under the covers and sob over what felt like a huge injustice. But I am refusing to let the anger take root in my heart and turn into bitterness and resentment. I know that we serve a just God even when we can't make sense of a situation. I want to try my best to honor Him through all of this and to channel my emotions in a healthy way. And I don't want any of this heartache to overshadow our time with them or the purpose in this all.

And every single day they were in our lives had purpose. Our goal going into this was to be obedient to what we felt God leading us to do. Whether our job was to adopt them into our family forever or if it was just to take care of their basic needs for a short period of time, we wanted to be willing. We're not always meant to understand why God opens some doors and shuts others. Maybe He led us to this to turn our focus outward and to help our children expand their worldviews and to plant seeds of compassion. Maybe to help bring awareness to a huge need. Or maybe just to welcome these children into our home, meet their momentary needs, and then say goodbye and faithfully pray for them every day going forward. I'm willing to bet they didn't have many prayers sent up on their behalf before all of this, but now there is a small community rooting for them. We'll never know the full impact or big picture or if they'll even remember us, but even if our role was just to simply bathe them...and take them to the doctor...and read them books...and play beauty shop...and sing to them...and show them love and affection and what it feels like to be held and wanted and chosen, then that is more than enough and we are thankful we had the opportunity.

God has taught and grown me so much during this process. Every day of this journey has been hard and stressful and exhausting, I'm not going to lie. I have never felt as vulnerable or unqualified but I have also never relied on Him more. It revealed so many of my shortcomings and where my character needs work (and there are a LOT of areas if it isn't already obvious). But the joy of knowing them and serving them far outweighed the hard work. They brought us so many smiles and great memories and our hearts grew bigger knowing them. They taught us that our purpose on this earth is bigger than our little bubble that we were living in and that God's work always brings reward (even when you don't feel like you are doing God's work very well!). He has blessed us richly through this experience.

As I've been processing everything over the last week, God has provided such comfort through a bible study I'm in. We have been studying the story of Moses' birth. When Moses was born, Pharaoh had ordered all Hebrew boys to be murdered. But God protected him. His parents were able to hide him before carefully placing him in a basket in the Nile. After 3 months, his mom had to let her baby go and have faith that God's plan was bigger. I can certainly identify with that. Moses' future looked bleak but he defied all the odds and went on to do great things. As our girls go back to what feels like a hopeless environment, I am so thankful for the reminder that our circumstances don't define us or our future and that with God anything really is possible. There is always hope and He has much bigger plans for our lives than we could ever even dream up.

A lot of people have asked about how Harrison and Harper are doing.  We were very intentional about reminding them along this journey that we didn't know how long the girls would be with us and that we were just taking care of them for as long as God needed us to. I told them that their other family misses and loves them so much and has been waiting patiently for their turn to have these sweet girls in their life. They understood that and haven't had many questions at all. They gave them one last hug and kiss, helped buckle them in their car seats, and told them to have lots of fun and that they'd miss them and always remember them. They mention the girls a few times throughout the day when they think of something that reminds them of them or something funny that they used to do or say but they haven't cried a single tear. As a sweet friend pointed out, God protected their hearts just as we have faith He's protecting the twins' hearts as well. 

Thank you to all of our friends and family who have called or come by to offer hugs and encouragement and who are joining us in prayer for these girls. It means a lot that they were special to you, too.
thankful for good friends with listening ears...and comfort food :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wrapping Up Summer

Basically, the same thing I say every time I get on here to post something. Things are crazy and busy and time is flying by faster than I can document. But I want to preserve as many of these memories as I can for our blog books so here is a very picture-heavy post with a bunch of randomness in an effort to catch this space up on our life lately.


This kid. I've never loved a boy as much as him and yet I've never battled more with anybody in my life. Here he is, happily eating a piece of toast with butter after a 30-minute argument and fit over the fact that he didn't want butter on his toast, even though he originally asked for butter on his toast. He was very mad that I wouldn't magically make the butter disappear or drop everything and make him more toast with no butter. Crying-and-throwing-a-tantrum mad. But alas, I stuck to my guns and what do ya know?? Once he took a bite he decided that he did, in fact, like butter again after all. He even asked for seconds. I had to take this picture to send to his dad. This is so our Harrison. Love him to pieces even when he's being difficult!


This was their last day of VBS. They were told to dress weird, and dress weird they did. They were so excited to pick out their outfits and I must say, they did a great job! 

So...I learned to never trust Harrison to be around a radio unsupervised. I ran in to drop off something at my mom's. We weren't staying so I didn't get the kids out of the van. We had a loaner van at the time and it had XM Radio in it. Harrison apparently didn't like the station I had it on and took it upon himself to unbuckle out of his car seat and change this:


 Yep, that would be the fully uncensored "Move Bitch" by Ludacris. He was all, "Mom! I put it on the 10's station! I found a funny song!" And all 4 of them were singing "Get out tha way, get out tha way, get out tha way" in their best thug voices for days. They thought it was hilarious. I did not. lol. Thankfully they didn't pick up on the "move bitch" part, because oh my gosh.


The kids accidentally broke a big sand shovel in half and were not satisfied with my "it's just a cheap plastic shovel and can't be glued back together" answer, so they took it upon themselves to do this:


They wasted every single one of our bandaids and made a huge mess, but hey, gotta give them props for their resourcefulness.


Here are a few pics from Harper's tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy:

Feeling pretty good thanks to the "happy juice"
So thankful for a tear-free goodbye
 It was definitely not a tear-free recovery though. She was in so much pain when she first woke up that they had to give her morphine in her IV. But that knocked her out and they wanted her to be awake and drinking, so from then on out it was oral tylenol and ibuprofen, which she fought with all her might. And she has a lot of might. They had to keep her in the hospital longer than we were expecting but eventually she finally accepted a popcicle. And then I talked her into taking a little walk down to the gift shop to get her mobile. Poor baby felt so awful.

Snuggling with the Hello Kitty that Aunt Ashley had delivered to her room.

Speaking of Aunt Ashley, we owe her big time. She jumped through all of the hoops (and there are a ton of them) to get certified as a babysitter so we wouldn't have to send the girls to a respite home while we were at the hospital. She also took off work to come up here. So thankful for her love and support. She genuinely loves our kids...all 4 of them.



This is what happens to Harper's pretty curls when she plays beauty shop and brushes out her hair:

"Mom, do I look so beautiful?" (You absolutely do, Baby Girl.)

I feel like I spend 90% of my day constantly picking up my house. I don't know why I feel so stressed when it's messy and cluttered but I'm definitely working on getting over that and letting go of some of that control. Because it can be spotless and then 5 minutes later this is what it looks like:


I needed to run some errands and took Harrison with me while the girls were napping at home with Rick. I treasure one-on-one time with my kiddos. It is always so special. He asked to go on a date to Panera Bread and I happily obliged.



Hamilton had a super fun science-themed birthday party. The kids got to dress up and participate in several science experiments and LOVED it. This family is so dear to us.

Clearly you can see the cake was very tasty

Harrison went to a Serving Camp where he learned some practical ways to serve and love others. He made this popsicle family and told everybody he likes to serve his mommy, daddy, and 3 sisters.  He is always so excited to tell everybody that we are a foster family and that it is a way to love and serve God and his people. I wish everybody viewed it that way. His kindness and child-like faith is so refreshing and encouraging.



I am constantly finding little treasures in my washer and/or dryer. This time it was a tube of toothpaste. Awesome. The kids apparently find joy in stashing random things in their hampers.



I looked out the window and saw Harrison about to climb on this "obstacle course" he made. Super safe, right?! He figured out how to unscrew and unhook the latches and then hooked everything back up all wonky. He had to show me how to unhook everything because I seriously couldn't figure it out. Not a proud moment for me. His brain and my brain are definitely not wired the same.


Our church had a parent dedication recently for parents with children ages 0-5. Our pastor prayed over us and we promised to raise and disciple our kids with Jesus at the core of our family.

Rick introducing our family as Harrison and I tried not to vomit from stage fright.
Meanwhile, Harper entertained the audience while we were being prayed over. She was dancing and twirling and so very clearly does NOT have the same stage fright.


These next pictures are just a glimpse into our daily lives. 

Harper helping Daddy build the girls' new beds

"Mom, I drew this just for you!"

she sat in this and asked me to send a picture to her Daddy since they have a long-standing inside joke about sharks.

Kids eat for $1 here on Tuesdays. The twins still call it the "horse place". One day they will learn their animals. Ha!

always some dress up going on

trip to the library
This picture sums up this whole post. These 5 people bring me so much joy.

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