Saturday, January 31, 2015

Best of Facebook: January 2015

1/15/15: Click here to see post on FB:

I was up until 12am last night making decorations for an upcoming baby shower. Brian asked if I was doing okay, if there was any sadness. I was able to genuinely say that I was so excited for this expectant mama and poured myself into serving her that I didn't have time to be sad! I love how God tells us to serve others, and if we really do, how much healing and comfort we recieve in return!

Ways we have served our pregnant friends in the past are coming over to help clean their house, bringing by nausea care packages, watch their other children on super sick days or doctor appts, bring them meals, create a painting or wall mural for their newborn, help with decorations or baby shower planning, etc.

When you, pregnant mama, are rejoicing in your pregnancy even the hardships, it makes it easier for me to rejoice with you. But when you complain, whine and become bitter about the body changes, pain or sickness you are experiencing due to your pregnancy, it begats bitterness in me. All I can think about is, "What I wouldn't give to experience life inside me, how I would take all these passing discomforts just for the chance."
Click here for blog post: Pregnant Mama, Know that I Sorrowfully Rejoice with You 

1/17/15: Click here to see post on FB:

This article perfectly addresses the attachment comment that we recieved 100 times while we were foster parents, "Oh, I could never be a foster parent! I would just get to attached!"

"By God’s grace, we will survive the grief of giving up our foster son. Though the pain will be great, we have the coping skills and resources to deal with the loss. But if he were to go without the love and attachment he needs at this point in his development, he couldn't simply catch up later in life. It’s crucial for his sake that we risk the pain of getting “too attached.”

Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). We want to lose our lives for the sake of our foster son—not only because he needs us to, but because Christ met our even more desperate need. Every dirty diaper, every nighttime feeding, every heart-wrenching visit with his birth parents, and every court date and call from his social worker remind us that we are losing our lives. We are giving our hearts away to this little boy we have no promise of keeping. Still, no matter the sacrifices we make, they pale compared to all that Christ sacrificed to save us." From article, read on:

This page just hit 1,000, which is crazy! Only 100 of those are people that we are personally know and are friends with on FB. This started as such a humble page for a tiny family blog, now it feels like an extention of our own family, a place for encouragement, gentle criticism, and overwhelming support as we walk this narrow road with lots of bumps, hurdles and trials.

I want to take this opportunity to make it clear that we are SO imperfect. We mess up daily. We are tempted and we sin. We sometimes overlook bad attitudes in our own hearts as we counsel our children on theirs. We struggle to daily lay ourselves on the altar (Rom 12:1), to sacrifice our own wants and desires for others inside and out of our family. We truly are "an imperfect family following the will of a perfect God!"

Thank you for your support and ongoing prayers! They mean the world to us and are greatly needed. It feels like the bigger our blog becomes the more we are stalked and tempted by the evil one, who is ready to pounce and devour (1Pet 5:8). We pray our faith is strengthened, our dross is refined, and our love for the Lord is greater this year than ever before! We pray that we may glorify God in all we say and do and continually be striving to point people, not to us, but to Jesus!

"This journey of adopting hurting kids is truly walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We get to extend love to little people with, sometimes, no love reciprocated back. We get to love unconditionally just as Jesus loved the crowd that shouted "crucify Him" with all His heart that He laid down His own life for them!

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." (Romans 8:15-17).

I love how He tells us not to fear! We know our adoption is secure and we are children and heirs of Christ. He gives us an amazing hope of glory if we suffer with Him. Don't fear the hurt and suffering adoption may bring, it is in this that we can glorify our Father in Heaven and later be glorified! We can adopt because we are adopted! We can love these children because we are SO loved!"
-by 5Kids6Months; re-posted from May 7th, 2014

We received a call from an adoption recruiter with Wendys' Wonderful Kids program with the Dave Thomas Foundation today. She said she had saw our old profile on and felt we were a match for some of the kids she was trying to place. She told us about several medically special needs children, one in particular, Brittany, she really wanted us to meet. She has several medically needy children and two sibling groups (one of 4 kids, the other of 3 kids) she is desperately trying to advocate for and find FL families for. (If you are interested in sibling groups or not fearful of medical needs and are a FL homestudy ready family then I will give you her email address).

We prayed long ago, before any child stepped in our home, that we would to be open and willing to take ANY child God called us for.

Well, "God, was that You?" Pray for Brittany as they send us her full child profile and we begin to pray God's will for our family.

(Follow-up to previous post): Well...Brittany's full child study is scary and overwhelming at first read. We read it to the kids and they all said, "Of course we should adopt her!"

I reminded them of some of the huge needs, like, "What about the fact that she may not live to see her 18th birthday due to aHUS? Or that she is completely bound to her wheelchair, being fed via G-tube? And will take away some of my attention to attend to her needs?"

All the children thought and agreed with Anthony's response, "Mom, what if we are her only chance at knowing what it is like to have a family? She has spent 8 years already in fostercare, if we don't say yes, then who will?"

Isaiah 6:8 is reeling through my head, "Here I am Lord, send me!"

Anyone want to remind me of all the stuff I post on this page about following Jesus and not fear?....

So 4 days ago we receive a call from Wendy's Wonderful Kids recruiter about a little girl named Brittany (info in previous post) and we began to pray that God would open our hearts toward her. Then tonight we attend our monthly foster/adoptive parent support group meeting and the speaker is from no other than Wendy's Wonderful Kids. Just as Brian and I were ready to chalk it up to a complete coincidence she plays this video.

Before the video was over both of us had a deep confirmation as if God Himself was reaching through to the bottom of our fearful hearts to say, "Out of all the families out there I chose YOUR family specifically for MY Brittany." Please watch and share this awesome 2 minute video because unadoptable IS unacceptable!

Today is a very special day! Not only are we celebrating this awesome man turning 39 but the kids that surround him worked hard and saved up over $60 to treat him to lunch at China Super Buffet AND buy him his favorite cake, Raspberry Elegance, from Publix!

This is so poignant to show not only the healing in their little hearts but the leaps and bounds they have made in empathy, compassion and the love that has grown for this man they call "daddy!"

You are awesome Brian and SO worth this and so much more! Love you and happy happy birthday to my favorite!

Showing our support for the Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption by buying free frosty keychains!

With great love, comes a greater risk of pain.

Our lives have been opened up for comments, criticism, ridicule, but mainly for great encouragement! We have once again announced to the world that we are willing to walk down a road of adoption. Maybe for one who is healthy, maybe one who is sick. Maybe for one who is advanced, maybe one who is delayed. Maybe for one, maybe five.

Sweet little old ladies say the funniest things when we break this news every year to our church, "So I hear you are thinking about adopting again?"
Me: "Yes ma'am, that is true."
"You are going to be like the little old woman who lived in a shoe she had so many kids she didn't know what to do." People listening in began to giggle.
Me: "Hopefully not the shoe part, but when I don't know what to do I must solely rely on God. That is where I want to stay."

All I have to offer God and this child is my willingness. I am not the perfect wife. I am not a fantastic mother. I am not a great teacher. I can't ever get to the bottom of my to-do list. I stumble and fail much. I am not thinking of adopting again because I think I can handle it. I am not necessarily even ready. I want to adopt again because Jesus does. See adoption is bigger than just us. Through our adoption story runs a scarlet thread. A thread knotting our hearts for adoption to the One who adopted our hearts.

By opening up the door to adoption, I am offering myself as a sacrifice to the One who sacrificed all to me. Emptying myself so I can be filled with His glory. I am simply saying, "Lord I am willing, if you choose, use me." So when my husband loves me fiercely, my children call me blessed and onlookers say, "you are amazing, how do you do it?" I can say, "It is not me, but the One who lives in me!"

Posted by Shannon

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pregnant Mama, Know That I Sorrowfully Rejoice With You!

"Lord, please give me the strength to rejoice and not cry," I whispered a silent prayer as I walked into a room filled with giddy smiles and pink balloons. Sweet little polka-dotted onesies were draped across the wall under large painted letters that spelt out this new blessing's name. The pain swelled deep within me like I had been punched in the gut. "Lord, please." I faked a smile, wishing desperately that my joy could be real. That I could truly be a Rom. 12:15 woman. A woman that thinks more of others happiness than her own sorrow. I held it together, ate hors d'oeuvres, complimented tiny pink gifts, skirted around the inevitable birthing conversations that I had never experienced and made it out without giving anyone a hint of the dark cloud that hung over me. When I finally made it back to my car that dark cloud burst into a pool of tears and loud sobs.


That word just drips sorrow. It is negative. Broken. Empty. Hopeless.

5 Years.

This month we say hello to our 5 year anniversary walking hand in hand with this awful word. We like the word "barren" better, but either way it means for 5 years God has shut my womb and we, as a couple, have not been able to conceive. We don't know whether our barreness is permanent or temporary, for only God knows.

I am not writing this so you can message me and tell me the story of your second, half-removed cousin's friend that got pregnant after 15 years of infertility. I am writing this for two reasons, one to scream from the rooftops that all you mamas currently walking through infertility, "I HEAR YOU! YOUR PAIN IS REAL! IT HURTS!" and second to help those of you not walking through it to maybe understand it just a little.

One thing I have learned while walking this dark and lonely road is that God does not promise us children (Anna is a barren woman in the bible that was never given the gift of pregnancy, click here). The same way He doesn't promise we will find a spouse (1 Cor. 7:8). Are these both good blessings? Absolutely. Are they promised in Scripture. No. Often in churches and communities well-meaning people ask these two questions with excitement. To the single, "so when are you going to get married?" and to the childless couple, "so when are you going to start having children?" Like I know when prince charming is going to come a knocking or when our egg and seed will finally combust into a tiny life. These questions are asked as if our completeness without these things is in question.

Our completeness is not found in our marriage or in our womb. Our completeness is found in Christ.
"For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been MADE COMPLETE, and He is the head over all rule and authority;" Colossians 2:9-10

We are complete in Christ. We don't need a husband to complete us, we are married to Christ. We don't need children to complete us, we are heirs with Christ, He will carry on His family name, we don't need to. Often not given the ideal gift of marriage or children we set up this little idol in our heart and we begin to worship this ideal rather that the One who designed it. It is difficult not to. Marriage and children are both good gifts. Blessings. They are good desires, but in our sinfulness we elevate them, are angry over not having them, envy others that do have them and sometimes will even sin to get them.  

In January 2010 Brian and I committed our family planning to God. We committed we would do NOTHING to prevent or promote pregnancy. We were acknowledging that God was in charge of our womb and we were going to trust Him. For five years since 2010 we have been open to any child God would give us.

God was faithful in our commitment and although He has not lifted our barreness He has given us the gift of fertility. We may be infertile in our bodies but God has given our hearts tremendous fertility through adoption!
"He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 113:9

When we yielded our womb to God we yielded all our rights to say that whatever He chose to do, we would trust and worship Him. He is in control to the opening and closing of our womb. We figured since we were graciously surrendering our will that He would perform His will which happened to look very similar to our will in the first place. The thing with God is that He is God and we are not. Sometimes His will is to not give us our heart desires and (you know what?) He is still good.

But my grief and pain are REAL.

But grief, pain and sorrow, these emotions, they don't know theology. They are real, raw, founded, yet separate from the real knowledge of the goodness of God. We must inform our emotions, teach them, train them. The longer I walk through this path of hurt, the more time I have had to inform my emotions that while a good cry is founded and allowed, bitterness, anger and malice towards others experiencing what I am not is NOT allowed. Grief, pain and sorrow are a soil that the weeds of bitterness and anger love to grow in! We must be on guard. When my mourning is stirred I must reject all thoughts of bitterness.

My hurt over my womb not opening doesn't leave me, I am stuck on this path until I am released to another. I will carry my grief just as those who have lost a loved one. I lost something on this path. I had to grieve the loss of my ideals and imagination of the little baby (or babies) that I expected to bear with my own body. I have laid to rest the image of two lines on a stick, the image of my belly growing big with life, the image of our newborn baby gasp for their first breath of air. Infertility is a loss no one can see but can consume many women just as loss of a living, breathing loved one can.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Think if someone lost their husband they may weep at a wedding, remembering the love they had and lost. They don't envy or hate your marriage they just are missing theirs. They sorrowfully rejoice with you. If someone lost their child just before that child's 7th birthday party, they may be greatly impacted with grief when attending your child's 7th birthday party. They don't wish your child the same outcome but the memories of a celebration never able to be celebrated will bring great mourning. They sorrowfully rejoice with you.

So please know, pregnant mama, that I am rejoicing with you!

(Picture Commentary: This picture is of a mural I painted for an amazing friend's nursery. We walked our first 1.5 years of infertility together, then she conceived a baby girl! I was so excited for her I spent 50+ hours in her house painting!)

I love feeling the life growing and kicking in your belly. I love witnessing the glow you carry with you. I love hearing you expectantly speak of that sweet baby inside you. I love celebrating this new life with you and being invited to your baby shower celebration. I love you. So I rejoice with you.

But please don't think any of my love changes if I cry (as I am crying now as I write this). Please don't be mad if I excuse myself from the room when the birthing stories that I have never experienced go on and on. Please don't be mad if I cry and am deeply pained when your belly is big and bursting full of the life mine has not ever seen. Please don't be mad if I weep at your baby shower, a celebration I have never been celebrated. Please know that I do rejoice with you, I sorrowfully rejoice!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I could shut myself up, refuse to touch another growing belly, refuse to attend any future baby showers and some how hope to keep myself from any pain or emotions that may be stirred up by these things. But know that you, pregnant mama, are more important to me than my pain. Showing you love, in the way God shows me love, means more to me than my grief. Rejoicing with you is chosen over my weeping, dear friend. I sorrowfully rejoice with you, at the great blessing you are receiving that I have lost.
"As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." James 5:10-11

God is still in control of my empty womb, no loss or grief can take away that comfort! God is good in all things.

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone