Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Best of Facebook: May 2016

5/1/2016: Click here to see video on FB:

We had an amazing surprise today! Make-A-Wish threw a huge surprise party to announce that they are sending Brittney and our whole family to Disney (and SeaWorld, NASA Space Center and Clearwater Marine Aquarium) for 7 days!!! We leave this week!!! :D

5/2/2016: Click here to see article on FB:

Newspaper article with a few pictures of our fun surprise. We are getting ready and packing!

Watch clips of Brittney's Make-A-Wish surprise party on this Fox News story.

It is always interesting (by interesting I mean embarrassing) watching ourselves speak and finding out what bits and pieces they show and what was edited out. One thing is for sure, Disney or no Disney we LOVE our Britt-girl to the moon and back!!!

Supposed to be packing but what is more important than feeling awesome in the place of dreams!?!
Dresses (from LittleDressUpShop.com) came in today and the girls couldn't wait to get them on! Doesn't Britt look like the prettiest Princess Tiana you have ever seen!?!
The boys were excited to dress up too so we threw some costumes together, can you guess who/what they are?
Disney here we come!!!

The kids first time on Splash mountain. Every row of this photo, from the scared protector, the duck and cover, the faces of terror and the carefree kiss as we take yet another plunge together, makes this my absolute favorite photo from yesterday!!! <3 my family <3 Happy Mother's Day :D

Mickey Mouse is Britt's favorite and yesterday this princess got to meet him!

Memory from 4 years ago yet a good reminder even for me!

With mother's day past us and all the cute pictures of perfect mommies with their smiling children beginning to become lower on our news feeds I wanted to share one of my favorite real mommy-hood photos.

I have been a mom for 4 years or 47 months or 204 weeks or 1,430 days or 34,320 hours or 2,059,200 seconds. When you do the math, that is a long race, one that once begins it never ends. Some mamas are well-trained, prepped and ready for this race, others are thrown in barefoot and out of shape. But we all take part in this race, some run steadfast and steady, some sprint then fall but get back up to sprint again, some transfer their baton over to a more desirable athlete to take their place and some just plain give up.

Us adoptive mamas, we have a big running career as we often have to run not only in our own places but in the places of other mamas that have handed their baton to us or given up in this race. Every child should have someone running on their behalf and even though we may not be athletes we can't bear to see a little one on the sidelines with no one running for them, so we, though we are tired, out of breath and calloused we say, "I will run for you too."

Take heart, be encouraged mamas, keep running!

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

The coolest thing that Give Kids The World and Disney partnered to do was give each Make-A-Wish family free photos at all 4 theme parks, not to mention a pass to get to the front of all the photo lines!

We got over 300 professional photos at Disney plus hundreds more on my own camera. Here are a few of our favorites from Disney!

In 29 years I have had what feels like a lifetime of adventure. Spent 14 years being shaped as a child and 15 years as a working woman. I have spent 11 of the most amazing years married to my best friend and 5 of the most challenging (yet most rewarding) learning and growing as a new mom. We have spent over 8 hard-working years paying off over $300,000 in debt to be able to live in the debt freedom we currently reside. Then 2 long years ago we left our cozy city life to embark on a crazy journey to become farmers and quickly grew to love the country space and the menagerie of animals it brought with it! I am happy to say I am blessed with a great and powerful God, an amazing and serving husband, 7 sweet, fun, and outgoing kids, a paid off and very full house, 7 beautiful, green acres and over 100 furry and feathered friends to love. I am very blessed!!! <3

"When I grew up in the orphanage it was Christians who came an built nicer buildings. Christians who bought us beds, clothing and provided money monthly for food. It was a Christian, who wrote a letter in a shoebox, who first told me I was loved. It was the Christians who met all my physical and material needs in that orphanage."
"But it was also Christians who neglected my biggest need. Children in orphanages don't need more money, nicer buildings or better clothes. I am not an orphan because I lost my home or provisions. I am an orphan because I lost my parents. I needed a mom and a dad. I needed a family. Christians treated all my temporary symptoms of need but never cured my longterm disease of being orphan. I am still an orphan."
-A quote by a 30yr old orphan who aged out of an orphanage where he lived his whole life, spoken at the CAFO Summit 2013, which God has put on the forefront of my mind this morning.

I am finally uploading vacation photos! Maybe I'll post them all on a couple blog posts soon! This was one of my favorites from Give Kids The World Village, they offered horse rides done by therapy horses twice weekly! So neat and Brittney really enjoyed it! :)

"How do you know when you are meant to adopt? You just have a peace about it, right?"

No, I throw up.
That sounds awful. I am a work in progress. I forget God's goodness, His faithfulness and His promises. People will often tell me that they are caring for a child that is difficult, is stretching them, and they are overwhelmed. "Shannon" they say, "I just don't have a peace about adopting this child." Now, I am not at all pretending to have the "peace of God" all figured out but from what I have experienced so far I have never felt "peace" in the ways I expected.

Let me give you a glimpse into my deep imperfection, my lack of faith and my, just plain, sinfulness.

We had been walking the path as foster parents for a year. We had been parenting (or more honestly, feeling like we were failing at parenting) five kids ages 6 weeks to 9 years old. We weren't aware at the time, but now we know that trauma kids are often times an emotional age MUCH younger than their biological age. On most days it felt like we were parenting five children (of emotional) ages 4 and under. See our 8 and 9 year olds couldn't bathe themselves, dress themselves, didn't know how to play, never had brushed their teeth, needed supervision for homework, meals, everything really, for their own safety and the safety of others.

Traveling this path for a year had made me weary. Weary of crying, weary of losing myself, weary of missing time with my husband, weary of parenting. And smack in the middle of my physical and emotional weariness came a decision. Our 1st sibling group of three were coming up for adoption and we were given first choice. "Do you want to proceed with adopting them?" We thought this moment would be magical.

This hurts to write but I didn't want to adopt them. I wanted my home back, my sanity back, my energy back, I wanted my life back. I had been suffering severe anxiety attacks, throwing up several times a week, not able to sleep. I told the Lord the long list of reasons I couldn't do it. I had no physical peace at all. And well-meaning Christian friends comforted me, "Shannon, don't do it unless there isn't a doubt in your mind these are supposed to be your kids. You have to have a peace about it." Ah, my way out. Lots of doubt. No peace.

But my hubby ever so gently calmed me and reminded me that the Lord doesn't make mistakes. When we started this journey we committed to the Lord that, although our hearts were for seeing birth families reunified, if a child did come up for adoption in our home we would trust that the Lord chose that child for us and we could follow through and adopt them. We would trust that the Lord is true in His promises, that the children He placed with us would be a blessing to us and He would faithfully give us the strength and grace we needed for each day.

My peace didn't come from inside my-imperfect-self but from choosing to trust in the Lord's perfect plan.

Adoption day came and so did the chaos, bickering, and our Mirabel who refused to get out of bed. "I don't want to go!" She screamed. After much coaxing (and a few bribes) she got in the pretty dress we bought her for court but came out with a pillow case over her head. With futile pleadings we drove an hour away to court with pillow-case head in the back and me quietly sobbing in the front. See both of us were mourning losing parts of our own lives as we knew them. That little girl who walked through such loss and turmoil had learned that she could trust no one but herself. Gaining parents, through adoption, would mean having to extend trust to something that had hurt and failed her in the past. And me, through this year of attempting to pour out love into these kids with no return on my investment, I was feeling empty. I was having to let go of possessions, needs, time, hobbies, desires so I could meet the needs of these little ones. I was mourning the loss of the ease of my old life, not realizing the abundance God was planning for me in this new phase of life!

As we pulled up to the courthouse I dried my tears and looked at my pillow-case covered girl. "Please take it off, I have something for you." As her red, puffy eyes were exposed I handed her a small box. Her eyes brightened as she saw a golden heart-shaped locket. Inside the locket was a picture of us on one side and a picture of her birth mom on the other. A tear quietly fell down her cheek. I knelt down beside her, "We knew this day would be hard on you. We wanted to get you something to show you that in no way are we replacing her. We want you to be free to love her. We are not wanting to take your history from you, we just love you and want to give you a future. It is okay to be sad about losing someone and happy about gaining a new family at the same time. That is what the word "bittersweet" signifies. We understand that today is bittersweet for you." She wiped the tears from her cheek and wrapped her tiny arms around my neck, "I love you, mommy."

Four years ago today we walked into that courtroom as broken people and walked out as a family. If I had made a decision based on my human feelings I would have made the biggest mistake of my life. I would have let these three awesome kids go. I wouldn't have let God use them to further shape my faith and trust in ways I could have never imagined. I am crying thinking about what amazing kids I almost missed out on. Through the peace of knowing God is good and trusting in Him and not my own feelings, I gained three blessings that day that have changed my life forever! If you haven't meet these kids, let me be the first to tell you that they are just freaking awesome.

Happy 4th Adoption Day my spunky, crazy-funny, helpful, happy, super-smart, energetic, hard-working, loving trio who I couldn't love more!!! <3

Posted by Shannon


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