40 things i’ve learned on my journey to 40

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11:34pm, june 22, 2016. i’m listening to sara groves’ floodplain. i’m texting my friend shelly. “are you trying to cry?” she asks. “i don’t know what i’m trying to do,” i respond. “take it all in i guess-the happy and the sad.”  i’m turning 40 in a matter of moments.

i was born june 23, 1976. and now here it is.  yesterday i turned 40.  the women in the above photo, my mom and my sister, are not a part of my life. they haven’t been for a few years now. and it’s sad.

40 doesn’t look or feel like i thought it would. and i have learned a few things over the years.

in honor of turning 40, here are, in no particular order, 40 things i’ve learned as i’ve journeyed to 40.

  1. bodies of water are therapeutic-rivers, oceans, streams, lakes, ponds, mud puddles.
  2. bring butt wipes, air freshener, and magazines for the bathroom when you travel with friends. they will make fun of you at first, but then they’ll all thank you. and they’ll come to expect it.
  3. the church will step in when no one else will.
  4. it’s ok to stay up too late.
  5. you can face cancer with confidence when you know Jesus.
  6. proverbs 19:21 is true.image
  7. i thought having three kids was hard until i had six kids.
  8. i thought having six kids was hard until i had seven kids.
  9. i thought having seven kids was hard until i had nine kids.
  10. nine kids is a little crazy.
  11. when a friend calls for an after bedtime run to target or walmart or the grocery store, GO! there will be a day to catch up on sleep.
  12. your family of origin won’t always be your family. God will often use others to fill the traditional familial roles in your life when your family of origin can’t. see matthew 12:46-50
  13. it’s okay to be a bit out of shape.  i’m not saying i won’t take care of myself, but when i get to heaven the main concern won’t be whether or not i drank too much coke or ate too many french fries.
  14. it’s okay to get a tattoo.  more on that in another post.
  15. it’s okay if the house is a little messy.
  16. knowing you are doing exactly what God created you to do is awesome!
  17. when you pray for His will in your life-WATCH OUT!
  18. be careful of jumping on the oceans bandwagon. if you ask God to lead you where your trust is without borders, He might just do that.
  19. when someone offers help, take it. chances are they won’t offer again.
  20. when you’re so happy you could cry, go ahead and cry.
  21. when you’re so sad you could cry, go ahead and cry.
  22. if you’re feeling depressed, get help.
  23. if you’re not understanding things, seek counsel.
  24. parenting a teenager can be a lovely experience.  i only have one right now so my opinion might change. but right now, i love my 14 and a half year old girl.
  25. when your friend offers you a ride in her jeep, say yes!  and let your hair blow in the wind. and sing loud. and put your arms up like you’re riding a roller coaster.
  26. when you hold a baby, try really hard to take it all in.  they change so quickly and grow up so fast.
  27. God can redeem all of your mistakes. but you have to let Him.
  28. potty training-they probably won’t walk down the aisle on their wedding day wearing a diaper so it’s okay to relax and give it time.
  29. Jesus-surrendering my life to Him is the best thing i’ve ever done, the best thing i’ll ever do.
  30. if God is pulling your heart toward adoption, follow His leading. ask questions. get information.
    see romans 8:15
    romans 8:23
    galatians 4:5
    ephesians 1:5
  31. God will provide in really unexpected ways. be in awe. and say thank You.
  32. PTSD in children is no joke.
  33. take trips whenever you can. i don’t think anyone will ever regret traveling too much, but someone may regret not ever traveling.
  34. God will use all of your circumstances, good and bad, for your good and His glory.
  35. leave big tips at restaurants when and if you can.
  36. tell your friends and family what you like about them.
  37. compliment strangers.
  38. when you’re following God, and He asks you to do something that seems crazy, and most people don’t understand, and some people even tell you not to do it, do it anyway. He knows what He’s doing. trust Him.
  39. all you ever have to be is what He has made you
  40. God will give you more than you can handle, so you have to rely on Him.  in doing so, He will make you brave.
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merry Christmas 2013

we hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas eve and day celebration! if you’ve wandered here to see the videos we mentioned in our Christmas letter, you can find them up above when you click on the videos link.

if you are here because you check in every once in a while only to find out i haven’t updated recently, i’m glad you’re here for this update! Christmas took on a whole new meaning for our family this year as God has brought margee into our lives. the video about margee, up in the video link, josh and i first saw in august. it broke our hearts and we wondered what to do. for fear of scaring margee, we let it go. in october, we met her as she had recently become one of our 6th grader’s small group leaders. God clearly orchestrated for our paths to cross in a way we couldn’t deny. since the night we met, october 20th, we have been grafting margee into our family.

if you are here because you did a search somewhere on the internet for adoption or foster care or infertility, we are glad you are here. we are passionate about adoption and foster care and have been walking the infertility road for 10 1/2 years now.  we would love to answer any questions you may have or share more of our story with you. please don’t hesitate to contact us!

we are in awe of the story God has written for our lives and we are honored to share it with all of you.

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the day we met our children-seven years ago today

i think every year i’ll just repost what i wrote the day after our first meeting.  i keep searching for something meaningful and clever to say, but it’s not coming.  well, maybe this will be meaningful.

7 years ago we met for the first time, today it seems as if they’ve always been here, always been a part of our lives.  7 years ago, i had never heard their voices.  right now, they are playing outside and i can hear their giggles and their arguing.  the past 7 years have changed us all very much.  7 years ago today, the focus was very much on me, on me becoming a mom.  today, the focus is very much on them.  on what they need now and to become healthy, Christ-following adults.  7 years ago today, the kiddos were meeting us just as friends.  they had no idea we were going to be a part of their lives forever.

this morning, as i was doing amelia’s hair, i asked if anyone had any idea what happened 7 years ago today.  they had some goofy guesses.  when i told them it’s the day we met, wilbur yelled from the bathroom as he was brushing his teeth, “awe, it’s our anniversary!”  yeah buddy, it is.  it’s one of them.  our family has many.

7 years.  the day we met.

that day.
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Easter Sunday this year.
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6 years ago today

we met them.

we had waited almost three years for the answer to how we were going to be parents.

and this day, six years ago, we met our answer.  three answers actually.

here are the details for that day.

“and where was i before the day

that i first saw

your lovely face

now i see it everyday

and i know

that i am, i am

the luckiest”

ben folds

we went to meet our children yesterday. well, they aren’t officially ours yet, but we are really hoping and praying that they become our children. we drove to their foster home. it’s about an hour away from our home. and, it’s in the middle of nowhere. i am not complaining about that. i can’t. some people travel half way around the world to meet their children!

the ride down is hard to describe. josh attempted a couple of times to pray out loud for us, but the emotion of it was overwhelming to me. i didn’t want to show up at the door with puffy eyes and tear stained cheeks. i had been praying in my head. and i knew so many of you were praying too. thank you for that. we could feel it. the whole day felt covered.

so the drive was filled with much anticipation, but no expectation. we didn’t know what to expect. we had seen a picture of the children. but, it was a black and white photocopy, and the kids are biracial so it was hard to tell what they looked like.

we also had no idea how they’d react to us. we went just as people who are coming over to play for awhile, not as maybe ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. we were just josh and kirsten, wanting to get to know them a little and have fun.

when we got there and pulled in the driveway, josh said he could see little faces looking out the window. we smiled at each other and asked one another if we were ready to do this. we were. without a doubt. we made our way to the door and we could hear little voices waiting behind it. the tears started to come. the door opened and there they were. three little faces. well, at first we could only see two because the middle one was hiding behind foster mom. but, there they were. and they were gorgeous. they are just gorgeous.

they were shy at first, not wanting to say hi or talk to us at all. foster mom was really great, encouraged them to get some toys out to show us. that opened a window for us to begin to interact with them. within five minutes of being there, we were playing and giggling. we started taking some pictures and boy did they love being in front of the camera.

we were playing with a barnyard set. they were being silly pretending the rooster was a cow and that the sheep said moo. then they were saying the baby, who is a boy, was a girl. i asked them what i am and the oldest one, the girl, said i was a boy. we laughed. i asked her again. again she said i was a boy. i giggled and told her i was a girl. she said, “no, you a mother.” it didn’t really hit me then, but josh mentioned it on the way home and it blew me away.

we talked about toys they like, what they do at Sunday school, what shows and songs they like. we saw their bedroom. we looked at a photo album their foster mom had put together. various pictures of holidays and church activities and birthday parties. it was neat to get a glimpse into the past year of their life.

foster mom shared with me what foods they like, what their napping schedule is. when they go to bed, when they wake up. she told me how they do at the doctors and in the car. how she bathes them and cares for their skin and hair.

the talking and giggling and playing soon turned into hugs and kisses and sitting on laps. at one point the middle child sat on my lap for at least 20 minutes straight. i didn’t want him to feel like he had to stay there so i kept giving him opportunities to get up. but, he stayed. most of the time it just felt normal, but sometimes it would hit me, “i am holding you because you are going to be my son.”

we continued to take pictures. it was so much fun to see their eyes light up each time we pulled out the camera. we have some of the cutest pictures of them being silly with josh. again, it all seemed so normal, and then it would hit me, “i am taking pictures of them with josh because he is going to their dad.” it was amazing.

we were there for two hours. we could have stayed for ten. it seemed so surreal that i had to keep telling myself to drink it all in. this is what we had been waiting for for two and a half years. they were strangers yesterday when we arrived at 3pm, but as i held them and kissed them, it felt like i had known them forever. in the past i couldn’t picture our home with three little children living in it and now i can’t picture it without them here. it just fits, perfectly.

the plan is to go back next weekend. and in the meantime, we have bedrooms to set up, furniture to paint and rearrange, lots of kid and baby things to purchase. but most of all, i think we’ll spend time being thankful. it is astounding to us that out of all the people in the world, God would choose us to parent these children. they are a huge gift and we have a huge responsibility ahead of us. we are so excited. and you know what, no longer scared. God is so good, we are filled with anticipation for all that is to come. so much anticipation that i really had a hard time sleeping last night. i couldn’t get their faces out of my head. we are so blessed.

we are the luckiest.

the big…35

35 years old.  me.

oh.  my.  word!

how did this happen?

35 seems like the real deal.  35 seems like an adult age.  but i don’t quite yet feel like an adult.

about 15 or so years ago, i was babysitting for a family whose mom was around 35.  they had a house, three kids, and a mini~van.  and she seemed so grown~up to me.  now i have a house, three kids, and a mini~van, but i don’t think i seem that grown~up.

this day has been coming, for 35 years in fact, and i’ve been approaching it from two camps.  camp dread and camp bold.

camp dread locks me into regret.  i’m 35.  i’m out of shape.  i bite my nails(oh the shame that comes with typing that).  i don’t have enough patience with my children.  i don’t have enough patience with my husband.  i don’t love any of them really, really well.  i’m not the best friend i could be to my best friend.  i lack self~confidence.  i’m too introverted.  i don’t always follow through with what i say i’m going to do(hence being out of shape and biting my nails).  i have lots of unfinished projects.  i’m fairly unorganized.  i’m not as involved as i should be at church, at school. i spend too much time with people who hurt me with their words and inaction.  yes, inaction.  and i let their words and inaction take a toll on my mind, my heart, and my joy.  i don’t celebrate enough, my salvation and what God has called me to do on this earth.  i don’t spend enough time in the Word.  i don’t always practice what i preach(especially with my children).  Jesus isn’t always my everything.

camp bold gives me freedom.  it reminds me that i am a child of God,  the creator of the universe.  my Heavenly Father made me.  made me.  knows me, inside and out.  knows my camp dread, and encourages me to come over to His side.  camp bold helps me approach 35 boldly.  i can’t go back and change anything that has happened before today.  but, i can start today, to make change.

i’m learning to speak up.  i’m learning to put boundaries in place.  and to keep them there.  i’m learning i don’t have to do what makes everyone else happy.  i am learning to do what needs to be done for my family and myself.  i’m learning to celebrate who i am, who God made me to be.  i’m learning that i can try again to get in shape and to stop biting my nails.  i can try again to get organized.  i can be more involved at church and at school.  i’m learning that it’s okay to admit my faults, boldly, openly.  i’m learning to embrace more the need to let go of myself and my tendency toward selfishness, and to more fully embrace Christ and the way He selflessly lived, and died.

and i’m coming to the understanding that 35 is good.  that much has been accomplished in these past 35 years.  and that every day i am who He has made me to be.