July 22, 2014

she stood in the gap.

Last weekend, Dr. Laure stood before our church congregation and shared her beautiful testimony. She shared how her youngest son was born just five days after her beloved husband passed away from cancer nearly two years ago. She shared how difficult it was to nurse this precious child...to look at him and ache deeply knowing that he would never know the love of a father.


She shared how God spoke to her in the midst of her grief. She shared how He lovingly reminded her that there were many, many children just outside her door that would never know the love of a parent. She shared how He pressed upon her heart to go and be love to these children.

She transparently shared how she was frustrated with God. How could He ask this of her? She had just lost the love of her life and she was left to raise six children alone. And, He was now asking her to go out and love even more children.

He gave her a verse to cling to --

"I command you -- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." {Joshua 1: 9}

And, she obeyed.

She has poured out her life in love to hundreds of orphaned children in her home country of DR Congo. She has visited them in illness and cared for them when they are hurting. She has fed them. She has held them and prayed fervently for them. She has taken them into her home.

She has modeled Christ's selfless love for them.


It hasn't been easy and she isn't perfect. Yet, through every hardship, she has leaned into our mighty and faithful God. She has taught me what it means to trust and find joy in all circumstances.

I have watched Christ work through her to heal the heart of our little girl. She took her into her home last June and loved her as her own. Sylvie's brokenness ran deep from suffering extreme loss in her short life. Yet, slowly, I witnessed God's healing hand at work in her life.



How could I ever thank my friend for this selfless love? How could I ever thank her for standing in the gap for my momma arms aching to hold my daughter? How could I ever thank her for giving her love and affection and teaching our daughter laughter and joy?

How could I ever begin to thank her for boarding a plane for the very first time, with two days notice, headed to the United States to carry our daughter home? How could I ever thank her for preparing Sylvie's heart for our family? I don't think it is possible. Words fail to properly express the gratitude we have for this incredible sister in Christ. We know we would not have our Sylvie here today without Laure's response to step out and serve in love.


My prayer is that I will not remain unchanged from witnessing this selfless love. I pray that I too will be a vessel for Christ's love to pour out and for His light to shine in the darkness.


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 
{Isaiah 6:8}



July 18, 2014

a beautiful gift.

One more homecoming post because I just can't help myself. :)

Our ridiculously talented friend {who created this amazing video for us last year for Pure Charity}, offered to film our airport homecoming. I could not be more grateful. What a beautiful capture of an incredible day!!


{Random tip: I advise against having a microphone on when you are nervous/anxious/excited. You may forget all about it and say "holy cow" entirely too many times. I'm just saying, it's a possibility}.

Click HERE for the video. And be prepared to cry, or maybe that's just me...

Thank you, Zach, for this incredible gift!!!

July 16, 2014

week one.

The moment he saw his long-awaited little sister for the first time.

Wow. What a week! My head is still spinning from being blown away by God's faithfulness to our family.

The fact that Dr. Laure was able to bring our daughter home and help with the first few days of transition is just a blessing beyond what any words could describe. She helped Sylvie feel safe and know that this is her new home. She left yesterday morning and I was prepared for a major meltdown but it didn't happen.

In fact, yesterday was a sweet, sweet day. I know we were being covered in prayer and I absolutely felt them. We experienced so many moments that were just beautiful and holy. Dancing together in the kitchen when the song "beautiful things" came on... eating cake together to celebrate the birthdays we spent apart... snuggled up with both of her brothers and her sister and daddy and I in Nate's bed for bedtime stories...

I have so much to share from this past week but I only have a few brief moments while Sylvie and Charlotte are both napping and the boys are down at the pond fishing with Nana. So, I will just say this: life is busy.

It's busier than I ever remember it. Busier than it was with newborn twins.

Yet, slowly, moment by moment, we are starting to find a rhythm and have little glimpses each day that we will make it through this season and find our new normal. Sylvie is adjusting so much better than I had anticipated. The boys are doing so well with all of the changes. Ben is so, so sweet and patient with her. Nathan is having a harder time - he is craving more of my attention and affection. At the end of the day, I am completely worn out from pouring into these four little ones all day. I want them all to feel loved and safe and secure. Yet, I know that I can entrust them all to Jesus. He will protect and shepherd their hearts. I do not need to do this alone. He is right here beside me.

We are being loved on so well by our community. We are well fed and errands are being taken care of. The blessing of a meal prepared and delivered each evening is beyond words. I have no time to even think about food preparation so this seemingly simple act of cooking for our family is just an immense gift right now.

I have so many memories and photos to share from our first week together. Everything is a first and things are new and exciting {and sometimes new and scary} for Sylvie. It's been such a joy watching this new world unfold before her eyes.

One of my close friends who has walked this long road with us step by step was there at the airport last week taking photos. I had to share a few. What an incredible night this was. Surrounded by the very people who have been on their knees beside us praying our girl home. God was in that airport and everyone there witnessed His glory and His victory.

The boys were so excited and nervous. Everyone told me Nate was fidgeting with his hands the whole time he waited for us...

Dave and I met Laure and Sylvie at the gate and the rest of our family waited at the top of the escalators for us... 

This was the moment they first spotted us!






Friends and loved ones welcoming her home!

The adoption community is such a beautifully, tight-knit, encouraging and loving community ... friends that I've made during this journey have become some of my closest confidants. Only another adoptive momma can fully understand the heartaches and the joys. My dear friend, Suzanne, drove seven hours in a day to be here to welcome Sylvie home. I started bawling when I saw her. I still can't believe she made the trip just to give me a hug on this long-awaited day. Incredible!

I have never noticed this sign hanging in the airport before.
"No matter where you're from... You're home now."
Wow. 
 



Crazy family of SIX!!!!! 



She was so scared and overwhelmed after making the long journey home. 

It has been an absolute joy watching her personality emerge over this past week as she has started to feel comfortable and safe here. We are overwhelmed at the honor it is to have a front-row seat to God's redemptive and healing power at work. 

Thank you all for the prayers, words of support and encouragement and love. We are grateful beyond words!!!!



July 10, 2014

She is HOME!!!!


Jumping on very quickly while she is napping (and she fell asleep in my arms holding my hand... Magical...) to say thank you. Thank you for the outpouring of love for this precious child. I am humbled and honored to be given the gift of being her momma. I haven't had a chance to catch up on all of the texts, Facebook posts, phone calls and emails... (The virtual airport party on Facebook made me weep)! This has been the most incredible experience. Knowing that God is receiving every ounce of Glory for the miracle He performed to bring her home, is an answered prayer in itself.

I will share more soon ...



For now, this sweet video of our reunion. The births of my boys and Charlotte and this moment are the most emotional of my life. What a ride. I still can't believe this is real. 

Click Here for the news story and video. 


July 8, 2014

He is FAITHFUL.

My hands are trembling as they hover above my computer's keyboard. The words won't come. There simply are no words to describe the emotions I'm feeling today. The fact that I am typing this post is an absolute miracle orchestrated by a Mighty, Faithful, Merciful, Powerful and so very GOOD God.

Our daughter, SYLVIE {I can finally type her name!!!}, is COMING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!


God has carried us through every single moment over the past 602 days since we said "yes" to our precious daughter. Every, single one. The mountain top moments, the dark steps through the valley, the tears of joy and the gripping tears of despair... He has been right there.

He has whispered His promises over me, He has carried me when I was too worn and weary to lift my eyes, He has covered me and protected me. He has provided for my every need: every single dime spent on our adoption has come from His hand, He has surrounded us with a faith community of prayer warriors who have battled beside us for our daughter, He physically removed our girl from a place of darkness into a home filled with His love and His light. He moved me to get on a plane last August and visit our sweet one even when we thought the trip seemed untimely... now, looking back, I can see His hand and His beautiful timing.

I have clung to a truth on this journey: my God never authors pain. I believe this with every fiber of my being. It is the nature of who He is. For this reason, I will not ever say that the long journey was His perfect timing. I don't believe He wanted her away from my aching arms and heart for 602 long days. I will never believe that, no matter what theology is used to argue this point.

What I do believe is this: He will turn everything {everything!} for our good and His glory. He will use a dark, hard, intense spiritual battle keeping our family separated over two continents and He will transform the tears of sorrow into tears of complete and utter joy. He will give grace in abundance, He will move hearts to give in order to care for His precious children, He will use this war that satan meant for destruction and turn it into a love song for His beloved. He will do it in a way that causes us to shout His praises. As my dear friend, Rory, said today: "We have SEEN victory with our own eyes! Let us never forget that."

The fact that she is coming home is a miracle. An absolute miracle.

The fact that I wrote these words just four days before we heard the incredible news that my Sylvie-girl will be IN MY ARMS again, is a love song from my Abba Father.

The fact that we sang this song for the first time ever during worship on this past Sunday morning, is a reminder that He is in every detail.

The fact that He gave us this verse as His promise for this journey, makes me fall to my knees in awe.

Y'all, she isn't just coming home at some point in the near future. She will be home TOMORROW. She is getting on a plane as I type these words. Her foster momma was given permission to fly her home. If that doesn't shout God's goodness, I don't know what does. Her foster mom will stay with us for several days to help with the transition and immediate medical appointments. I am blown away by His ability to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.


The battle is not over yet. Hundreds of children and families still await this incredible day. I will continue to plead on their behalf and I ask that you continue to, as well. She is leaving behind many, many friends that need to be reunited with their mamas and daddies and brothers and sisters. I am praying that this is the beginning of the mountains crumbling into the sea!!!!

I cannot possibly express my deep, deep gratitude to every single prayer warrior reading these words. So many of you have prayed for our Sylvie alongside us. Your words of encouragement here on this blog, your cards in the mail, your texts, your emails, your flowers, your surprise dinners, your necklaces, your photos, your voicemails... you have carried us with each word and prayer and outpouring of love. I am forever grateful and would love to hug each and every one of you the next time our paths cross, whichever side of eternity that may be.

Oh, and, I promise to post a ridiculous amount of photos and videos. Don't worry one second about that. :-)

In the meantime, you can finally watch the video I made from our trip last summer... enjoy the overload of adorableness!!!!!





July 3, 2014

when hope feels lost...{He's right there}.

I woke up this morning and did the same thing I've done every day for as long as I can remember, I checked my email looking for word from the Embassy or from our daughter's foster mom in Congo. I always check my phone to see if any important news has come through from the other side of the globe while I slept {to be fair, sleep is a relative term since Charlotte was up off and on most of the night}.

This isn't healthy. Believe me, I know. I know I shouldn't check my phone before I even say a thank you to my Creator for this new day.  But, the thing is, when your child is waiting for you on another continent, you cannot stop praying for news and hoping against hope for positive updates. Since email is the source of those updates, I check over and over again all day long.

This morning, there was once again no news. Instead, a question came across from another waiting mama friend- she asked for advice on how I was able to cope and stay sane during this wait.

That simple question did it. It broke me.

I suddenly realized I wasn't staying sane. I wasn't keeping it together... instead, what I was doing was letting go of hope. Over the past week or so, I've let go of believing that the latest news could actually mean our daughter will come home sometime soon.

You see, about three weeks ago, we received some really good news and I was so hopeful, so sure, that this was finally it that I started planning logistics for her homecoming. And, then, nothing. No news. No updates. Just waiting... in silence.

So, I started giving up. I stopped praying as often and as boldly. I stopped believing that God could do this and that this could really be the time.

I didn't realize I had traveled down this road slowly inching my way toward despair until that question was asked this morning. I answered her honestly, I told her that I was starting to give up and let go of hope and that was the only way I could make it through the day. That was the only way I could walk into her room and not crumble. The only way I could manage to look at her clothes hanging in the closet or her bag packed or her photos on the wall without hitting something. Or wailing. Or weeping.

After letting all of this out, I realized I should go ahead and have a talk with Him. God knows my heart. He knows. So, I just stopped evading Him and finally admitted what I was doing. I asked forgiveness and asked Him to sustain me once again.

I then pulled out my prayer journal.


I read through the pages and cried out to Him. Why? Why, God? Why have you answered almost all of these requests {literally, it is astounding to see what He has done with the requests on those pages- not all answered in the way I thought they would be, but answered in a more incredible way than I had ever prayed for} but my daughter still waits???? Why are you ignoring this one? This is important, God. YOU asked us to walk this road. You brought her into our lives and our hearts. Why would You turn away now?

You can probably guess how my little rant ended. A gentle stirring in my heart.

Read the words again.  All of these prayers -- miraculous healings, babies coming home, healthy babies born, provision, safety -- answered. 

I stopped then and responded in gratitude. Praising Him for the bounty of goodness that I have witnessed.

Then, these verses were before me...

As for me, I look to the Lord for his help. I will wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me...For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord himself will be my light...the Lord will bring me out of darkness and into the light, and I will see his righteousness. {Micah 7: 7-9}

The Lord replied, "look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it." {Habakkuk 1:5}

Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. {Habakkuk 2:3}

And, then, as I opened my computer to type this post, my email contained a new post from a dear friend. Sarah wrote these words about how to keep walking forward when the road gets bumpy that ministered to my aching heart this morning.

The last words of her post could not have been more perfect. Tears fell as I read...

"Most of all, know that you are not alone. God is there to be your comfort and your Rock. He has set you on this road, however bumpy it may get. And He will not leave you. He will not leave your children.
He is FOR you. He is FOR adoption. He is FOR the orphan."
I am so thankful for reminders that He is near. He hasn't forgotten and He isn't giving up on me. I will keep knocking and asking and hoping. I will hold onto Him


June 30, 2014

farmhouse renovation. {guest bath}.

I have a giant pile of laundry to put away and a sleeping baby. The boys are outside "building a house for their friends" - I have no idea what that actually entails but Nathan has plans drawn out in his notebook and they came inside to get all of their tools. It's quiet, and I hate putting laundry away, so I think that it's time for another farmhouse renovation post instead. 

Let's check out the guest bath, okay?  {Just go with it... I already took the "after" pictures a while ago when it was clean, so, guest bath it is}! 

I love the way this little guest bath turned out. Similar to my long-time desire for a farmhouse sink, I've always wanted a claw foot tub in my home. We scored the original tub from the house and didn't hesitate about keeping it. Now, that green sink was another story.

Before...

I remember when I was about ten years-old, I thought the grown-up version of myself would absolutely have black and white checkered tiles somewhere in my house. I vaguely remember Daddy Warbucks' house from the movie, "Annie," having them {I'm not 100% sure on that and maybe I should google it but I'm just too lazy so we'll just go ahead and assume that he did}. Maybe that's where I came up with the idea. Regardless, I thought they were so fancy

Yeah. So, these tiles were ripped up and thrown out. When they're linoleum and covered in grime, they're actually not all that fancy, after all. 

Looks like we did score some toilet cleaner with that cabinet though. Nice. 


After replacing the tile floor, we added subway tiles on the wall and I painted an old cabinet that Dave had in our barn {he has the most random stuff in there, seriously} to use for the sink.


Walls painted...getting closer.


After...

Annndddd, drumroll please.

No, I'm kidding. It's just a bathroom...






Is it possible for a bathroom to be cozy? Because that's the word I'd use to describe this room. Clearly, I'm not big on official "design terms" if there is such a thing. So, I'm going with cozy. There is nothing better than a long soak in that tub in this cozy lil' space. Even if that only has only happened once and the boys ended up kicking me out so they could jump in the bubbles. Still, it's a good idea in theory.

Thanks for taking a tour, more to come soon. Have a great week, friends!