family fall 2016

family fall 2016

Friday, December 20, 2013

It is Advent: Come


 

We finally received our old barn door with the lyrics to "Invade" by Watermark and I'm in love. It will be hung in our front foyer as a reminder. The timing was divine. It is Advent: Jesus Come. Invade. I am walking through "The Greatest Gift" by Ann Voskamp over the 25 days of advent and highly recommend it for next year if you want. It is a short, daily breath to SLOW DOWN. This season and this life are not an emergency. Consider watching this video below to get a taste...

 
 

 

In the midst of Disney world, law school finals, new work projects, OB appointments and preparing for our son, Jude, Mabel's 6th birthday (1st party) tomorrow, hardware removal surgery on Monday for her, and Christmas on Wednesday.. I can whisper Jesus Come.

 

"Is my life about the heart of things? Is my Christmas?"- Voscamp.

 Is yours?

Friday, September 13, 2013

How to make a house a home

My best friend's parents sold their house this summer and I was really sad. Not because of the physical structure but because I had lived so much life there. Outside of my own homes, it was just as much HOME to me.

I went there almost every day of grade school to pick up or drop off for carpool

celebrated multiple birthday parties in their garage or porch





broke up with 2 different boyfriend's while sitting in their hallway and crying

 ate hundreds of hotdogs and slept over on many Friday nights after football games

 had my first kiss on New Year's Eve in the bushes behind their house :)

  had my first baby shower for my girls in their living room

 

 learned how to properly use my rear view mirrors so I wouldn't back into their rock wall

crawled in her parent's bed in elementary school in the middle of the night because I was home sick even though I was less than a mile away from my mom 
( Sorry about that Rhonda and Tim)

 had my bridal luncheon there




 attended my first group Bible study in their bonus room in 6th grade
 

 took my first picture with my future husband in their kitchen


 sun bathed on their roof too many times in middle and high school

 learned how to put my contacts in the right way in 7th grade in their bathroom

 Simply.. lived a lot of life in those 4 walls and was LOVED SO WELL 
and still am by this family

I don't write all of those things so you hear more about me. I say these things because The Friars made their four walls a HOME, not only to their own daughters but to hundreds of other kids. It was a safe place for us.

I am forever grateful to this family for celebrating me and being a witness to my life. Their example of how they used their home as more than a pretty house and as a tool to love me well makes me want to love other children in the same way. You never know what people will remember about how you used your earthly possessions and blessings well to bless others.

Thank you FRIARS! I MISS FRIAR'S WAY but know that physical house is not what makes your HOME.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Living a Life on Purpose

I was taught a discipline in the spring that has been so instrumental in my thoughts, words, and behaviors and wanted to share it to see if it will bless anyone else.

When I went back to my other full time job; I quickly got entangled in the mind lie that "the only thing I do is go to work, come home, cook, clean, wash clothes and dishes, bathe, do my best to love my new children and my husband, call my friends back that called me days ago, read the Bible when I can keep my eyes open, and sleep." Been there? Did you catch that ONLY word. NOT ENOUGH. NO SATISFACTION. NO CONTENTMENT. Or what about, "I am not good at any of my roles.. mom, wife, daughter, friend, employee, sister, daughter of the King? I can do them all half-hearted but none great so I might as well bow out now? Or it may come out more like screaming "I"M QUITTING IT ALL" on those not so good days.

A few months ago, I was introduced to the idea of making a "Life Rule". I hear rule and it doesn't freak me out because I tend to be a people pleaser but some of you are like "I'm out right there." Hang on.

The whole idea is that you look through how you are investing your time, money, thoughts on a day to day basis and you start writing it down. You don't make up new things because you are not doing enough. You very well may need to cut something out if you find yourself overcommiting. Who does that? ;) You write...

Every day I will.....

Every week I will....

Every month I will....

Every year I will....


Who will hold me accountable in this season?

And you fill it in with things like get a good night's rest, read to your kids, scrub your toilets, commit to dedication in your workplace, be faithful in your marriage, go on vacation, prepare meals, weekly corporate worship, drink 8 glasses of water/day, date night, load the dishwasher, go to lunch with your parents, iron that shirt you have ironed 45 other times, exercise, meal plan, pray, drive your kids to school, serve another, mow the grass, take a day of solitude, practice a sport, honor the Sabbath, help with homework, go to the grocery, meet with your small group, write a letter....


The point is not to have the longest list but to write what you are already doing in your every day and more importantly understanding that everything you write down is ON PURPOSE. YOU ARE LIVING A LIFE ON PURPOSE. My purpose is to bring GLORY to my creator. I can bring glory in every one of the actions above and that for sure is not doing NOTHING. The point of this is also not to be legalistic. It is not to beat yourself up if you don't uphold the rule. We already have enough expectations to add more. If it becomes that, another expectation, ditch it.

This is an incredible thing to do with a spouse, parent, friend, small group, etc... It really shows you where your priorities are and helps you to say "No" to things. We can say that? :)

It allows me to be more intentional about where I spend my time and effort. Some seasons, I have felt "full" of meaning and some I haven't.  It is not for me or you to judge what "actions" are meaningful to the Lord.  He only wants us to examine our hearts in what He has placed in front of us today. It may be severely malnourished babies in India or it may be making one more egg and washing one more dirty stain out of those baseball paints with a joyful heart that brings glory to your Creator.

Hang the list up where you can see it so on those days where you feel like "I DON'T DO ANYTHING" :), you can have a gentle reminder. And remember seasons change for a reason. Your list will change too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adoption


The Ghanaian court system recognized the girls as Millers on July 31, 2012. Prior to that; we read, trained, interviewed, cleaned, answered questions, organized, paid, prepared, fundraised, wrote our little hearts out, prayed, cried, and waited.. waited... and waited some more.

The girls did not "do" anything to make that day happen. Just like I didn't do anything to be adopted by Christ. We chose Portia and Mabel. God chose me. I remember airport homecomings because they strike something deep in my soul. I can't imagine the parties in Heaven when a child comes home; one they have waited maybe decades on to come home.
 
I did not become their "mommy" because a judge said we have the same name. Just as I do not recognize God as my father by receiving the "Christian" label. They know I am their mommy because I am here when they wake up, because I put food on the table, because I play tea parties and let them wear my "lip shine", because I read to them every night with their daddy, because I teach them new things, because I forgive them when they are messy sinners like me, because they see my unconditional love for them. I know my God as my Father when he teaches, encourages, guides, protects, leads, offers peace, and loves me unconditionally as I seek intentional time with Him.
 
Adoption does not take away the first five years of the girl's lives. And I don't want it to! There is SO much JOY and WONDER and RELATIONSHIP there. But there is also ABANDONMENT and HUNGER and GUARDING. My old self (my nature apart from Christ) creeps in way more often than I would like to admit. On the really messy days when we are wading thru old wounds with the girls, if I can just catch a glimpse of the cross; I remember the grace. the sacrifice. that was made on behalf of my old self. It helps to extend grace one more time to those sweet, broken, messy beautiful African princess.

ADOPTION IS HIS HEART. I SEE HIS HEART EVERY DAY. AND I'M THANKFUL.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Adoption Pearls

The girls have been home 3 months. It has been even more incredible than I ever imagined. I have started writing down some adoption pearls and maybe they are just parenting pearls in general since both came for the first time for us. This is by far not everything but they have been priorities for us over the past 3 months.They are in no particular order but maybe they will help another walking the journey..

1. Invest in your marriage. Make it a priority. Go on dates. Regularly.

2. Keep water bottles available at all times. Everyone in the home should be drinking at least half their body weight in ounces per day. Don't do cokes/ sugary fruit juice/ powerade/ or gatorades.

3. Let your friends do a meal train for you. It is one of the biggest blessings to be able to enjoy fellowship with your kids without having to cook for a while.

4. Limit screen time :TV/ computer to 30-60 min/ day or less with a family movie night 1x/ week. Movie night is the highlight of our girl's week especially with me being back to work now. Don't let them use your cell phones/ I-pads to play games, etc at least at first. This will teach them important social skills and to engage with others around them.

5. Eat 3 meals/ 2 snacks/ day. Protein every time. Limit carbs, simple sugars. This will keep blood sugars from being on a roller coaster all day and impacts behavior, emotions, and energy levels.

6. Prepare them with a schedule before it happens as best as you can. Life happens and they have to learn flexibility but they do so much better with honesty and if you just let them know exactly what was going to happen. This was crucial with Mabel's surgery for both girls.

7. Give positive reinforcement. Both of my girls were starved for attention when they came. Not because they didn't come from wonderful homes but this was the first time they had experienced regular one on one time. It was very important for us to make an extra effort to give attention to positive behaviors so the negative ones didn't suck all of the attention away. Kids are smart. If they realize more attention is being given over a poor behavior, they will act out to receive attention in one way or another.

8. Observe the Sabbath. Pull away from your daily routine once a week. 52 times a year and be together doing something you love. "Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."- Mark 2:27

9. Bend down to listen. Get on their level. (Psalm 166:2)  Please remember eye contact is shameful in some cultures so teaching this may take awhile. Be patient!

10. Consistent bed-time routine. This is crucial! Kids should be getting 9+ hours/ night. Try to turn down all lights (lamps only if possible) 1-2 hours before bed. Try to follow circadian rhythms of going to bed and waking up with sun. We didn't use to have alarm clocks. NO screens in bed rooms. Go to bathroom before bed.

11. Acknowledge their past. Life started before they were yours, even if it was just 9 months in the womb. I could write a whole lot about this. But, when you acknowledge past, you extend grace more freely. You understand lying, withdrawal, and manipulative behaviors much easier.

12. Simplify. Slow down. Life is not an emergency.

13. Say yes when you can.

14. Protect your attachment. One of the hardest things for us to do was ask our closest friends and family (even grandparents at first) to not hold our girls... yes to not hold their first grandbabies. But it was SO important for their attachment to us (especially me as their only "mommy"). They came from a very maternal society as most are and in the first few weeks- months, they would have gone home with any woman giving them affection. If we disciplined them, they would run to the next woman for comfort and it was very important to set those boundaries up front. We want them to fully bond with others, especially our parents but it was so important to establish roles as consistent parents.

15. Read to them every day. They are sponges.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Little Easters

Mabel had her surgery on Ash Wednesday this year. A little bit of the old in her died that day. We began the journey of Lent.. the trail to the tree with Jesus. Just like His, her bones were shattered that day. Thankfully, we knew some kind of new life and resurrection was on the other side of it all. Today her cast came off. And just like a butterfly peeking out of it's cocoon for the first time in spring; she was ALIVE. You could not contain her smile and her laughter and her dancing. It wasn't because she can now walk normally like so many of us. Her old wounds are there just as Jesus continues to bear the wounds of the crucifixion in His resurrected body.  Her leg is even shorter than it was before and her left foot no longer touches the ground but she knows something is different, something is new. In a few years, we will start the lengthening process but for now; we had to address the deep root issue, the angle of her hip. Mabel trusts us now in a way she never could before. We haven't had an emotional melt-down in almost 4 weeks
 (these were happening daily at first and have slowly tapered off).
This is not to say that we won't ever have one again but Mabel now knows we aren't going anywhere.
 
 
 
As I laid in the hospital bed literally on top of her so she could sleep, as I wade thru the sting of mental illness with one of my dearest, and as we gasp for air with our closest friends as they lose their earthly father to the cancer buried deep in his bones; "the cross is looming, the sadness of loss and the stench of death keep me from the joy and excitement of what is to come." TODAY, I REJOICE AND DANCE that her cast is removed and her body is healing and for the LIFE that is growing inside my dear friend whose father in law is leaving them and "I'm convinced that in the others whatever it is will be BEAUTIFUL, but there is still more dying left to do before I can get there."
 (quotes from Jim Branch)
 
 
"Just about any time we are surprised with new possibilities for life and healing in the midst of brokeness and decay, there is a litte Easter that gives us a glimpse of the resurecction power of God's love made manifest in the crucified and risen Jesus."- Trevor Hudson

Today, we celebrate a little Easter in our Mabel girl.
 
To feel life and death, joy and despair all in the same season is a mystery. They mystery of Easter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My name is..

.. "Who told you that you were naked?
 Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
- Genesis 3: 11
 
Who told you that you were naked (not enough, fearful, anxious, abandoned, boring, any other name we choose to live out of that He did not give to us). Because I for sure did not tell you that?- GOD
 
On Sunday night, I was challenged to write on a name tag the name I most live out of. The one that drives my emotions, decisions, and behaviors. The Lord kept whispering... WHO gave you that name because I for sure did not call you that.We nailed them to the cross over time and then we were to write our new "name", the one given to us in Eden... our Beloved name on the new tag.


 
My new tag is still lying blank in Genesis 3.  I am on the trail to the tree in this Lenten season. My old name needs to be crucified daily really. I am lying in the tomb. I long for a new name.
To LIVE out of a place of freedom and belovedness.
 
What is the name you live out of? Did He give it to you or did the world ?
 
I can see it just over the horizon... Ressurection is coming. New names are coming!!
 
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
- II Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Encourage the Saints

 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
- Mark 10:29-31
 
 
In this next week, I encourage you to make a list of those you know/ support who have left home or siblings or parents, or children for HIM and the GOSPEL and post it and their pictures if you have them somewhere in your house where you will see it often. Call or send them a note or email to encourage them and let them know you are remembering them. They could be in the next town or across the ocean. Pray for them to receive a hundred times what they left to go serve. It can be very lonely at times. Please pray for them a home, siblings, parents, and children in the faith where they are serving. Simply for people to do life with them there. Pray for strength and endurance in persecution and for HOPE in the eternal life to come.
 
To anyone who is reading this who has left home and everything they know; my heart is filled with gratitude for you. Because we know that the "gospel must first be preached to all nations"
 - Mark 13: 10 before He comes back for us.