27 July 2012


 On a summer Tuesday we draw pictures for a boy in Uganda.  
We draw clouds and sky and grass.

We pick a verse and put it on construction paper.

We choose stickers and write a letter.  We tell him we are praying for him and his family.  We are grateful to reply to his note, and throw in some extras for fun.  Junior's most recent letter to us... he wrote without the help of a translator!  Its the first letter of the kind with no one else transcribing his words.  We are seeing this boy grow.  And we marvel that we get to be a part of it.

So as we write, we do it together.  Babies put crayon to paper, while the rest of us do our part. (And shortly thereafter, crayons to mouth, naturally).

We are blessed to be a part of Junior's life.  We celebrate when we get a letter.  I get teary-eyed when we get a new picture.  This is one of the most marvelous ways to remind our family that we are blessed... and that we can be a blessing to others ... and in turn, we are blessed even more.  Over and over!

If you don't already, would you consider sponsoring a child?  We sponsor through Compassion International. Click here to check it out. 

22 July 2012

four boys.

Just thought I'd post a couple pictures that I adore of our kiddos and balloons. You can probably figure this out, the first one was taken on Walker's birthday and the second one was taken on Wilson's birthday.  I've learned even in that short span of time (less than a month between those two birthdays), to stress less about having all eight eyes on the camera.  So when we all look back on those pictures of the tops of heads instead of faces we remember laughter instead of momma screaming "look at me, look at me, look at me, keep your eyes on my camera, would you just look... etc, etc."  And really, laughing memories are much better.  Slow and steady, we'll win this race.

18 July 2012


for real? 

My first born is NINE.  Oh Willy-Bills!  Before you came along I was a teacher.  And now I am a mom.  The way I identify myself totally changed once you came in my world!  Crazy, huh?

You know the day before you were born I was anxious to meet you.  So anxious, in fact, that I brewed up some Raspberry Tea and added a shot of Castor Oil to it.  Supposedly those things can make a momma have a baby faster.  And I don't know if it was my magic mix or if somehow your tiny-self decided it was time; but the next night I held you in my arms.  I know that it was really God's perfect timing.

And, by the way,  I still can't believe that all you have to do is give birth and the hospital people let you bring that baby home with you.

But we did bring you home, didn't we?  And since you are the first born, each year is a new first for us.  Your dad and I have never ever been parents to a nine year old before.  So we'll be learning right along with you... as always.

Wilson, 8 was really a big year for you.  You know that right?  I couldn't get over how well you connected with your classmates this year.  It was so fun to listen in on the conversations in your classroom on the Fridays when I came to help out.  When one of your classmates came to our church and ran over and said, "Hi Wilson's mom!  You know Wilson is like the smartest kid in 3rd grade?"  I will always remember that.  Its something I call 'treasure' and son, you've given me a lot of it.

Speaking of church, the last time I was volunteering I watched you sit and chat with one of the boys sitting in your row.  Just having a full-blown-8-year-old-boy conversation.  I just loved it.  We had pegged you a bit as being "the quiet, shy one."  But this year, you've kinda taught us to be careful about how we peg.  

Now you want to play football!  I am so excited for you to try this out again.  Although, I am not sure that we should count your just-barely-three-year-old football experience as actual football experience.  It was hilarious to watch those videos the other night.  At first I laughed so hard that tears came in my eyes, and then the tears stayed because I am a mom.  And there is such a teeny-tiny-line between laughing tears and sorrow tears.  Because babies grow up.  And fast.

And you hate it a little when I get all teary & mushy.  You've been around for so much of my teary & mushy, and your sensitive heart always tries to encourage or make a joke.  I love that sensitive heart of yours.  God has carefully crafted you in such a way that makes you a fantastic big brother.  Even with the giant changes in our family this year and your big-brother-responsibilities growing in BIG ways, you've managed to do your best.  You've adapted to sharing a room again, and you've found ways to play with Walker more often... even if you would really rather be reading! You make the babies giggle so easily.  I am proud of you.  So proud.

I know NINE is going to be fantastic.  It will probably go too fast.  So let's try our best to really take it one day at a time.  I know God has BIG plans for you this year, I am honored to get to be a part of it all with you!

11 July 2012

five days

We knew for sure for five days.  But deep down, I’m pretty certain I knew before that pregnancy test.  And I couldn’t believe it.  I inwardly giggled at the commissary as I bought diapers, dog food and a pregnancy test.  I almost took a picture on instagram to record the moment.  If you are in my inner circle then you might know that I think I’m pregnant a few times a year, regardless of seemingly insurmountable circumstances.  The $1 pregnancy tests at the commissary have been an inexpensive way to disprove my pregnancy-related-thoughts.  Somehow, I thought this time might be different.

I never wait until the time is up to look at a pregnancy test.  I’m too impatient.  So when the control line was the only one to appear - some ugly lies started yammering in my brain - “You are so stupid, like God would really allow you to be pregnant right now.  Seriously?  You thought He would?”  - but another voice started up almost immediately, “That is NOT what THIS is about.   God called you to this moment whether this test says you are pregnant or not, You are His and He loves you…” and I kid you not, the faintest of faint lines began to appear.  I picked up the test and held it close, I scoured my memory, never before had these $1 pregnancy tests shown even a glimmer of a 2nd line.  I was pregnant! 
Brad had to work late.  I intended on waiting until the next morning to even take the test, but again with the impatience.  So when he came home at 11:30 or midnight or who knows what time, I was still awake.  Wide-eyed.  I ran downstairs and he looked puzzled, I blurted out, “I can’t sleep” and he noticed I was holding something in my hands and he asked, “You’re pregnant?”  And he wore the biggest smile because he knew the answer.  And there wasn’t any stress or concern, just a smile and then a big hug; followed by “Number Five!”  

We weren’t sure what the caseworker would think.  We weren’t sure really what anyone would think.  Brad was working his crazy-schedule-week so we hadn’t even really discussed when we’d tell anyone.  We were giddy and shocked and giddy.  I wasn’t so shocked that we would eventually have 5 kids as I was shocked that I was pregnant again.  I kinda thought we would just adopt again.  I wondered about my much-older-than-the-last-time body.  And thought I should try NOT to gain 60 + pounds this time.  We knew we had a court date scheduled for mid-August so maybe we could just wait until the adoption was finalized before letting the cat out of the bag.  That would give us plenty of time to settle in to the idea of a maxed-out mini-van; and figure out how to reply to the sure-to-come comments like, “you know how that happens right?”  I worried that Wilson and Walker might never have their own bedrooms again, Brad assured me that this was a first-world-problem, and I laughed because he was right.

We savored our secret.  I think we were both much more excited than either one of us really expected.  It felt irresponsible and brave all at the same time.  FIVE kids!  We knew God would provide for us.  That was never an issue.  

We found out on Tuesday with that $1 test.  We bought some fancier, more expensive tests on Thursday and, of course, one confirmed it.  It was a twin pack, so I had an extra left over. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.  Five days.  Not even five full days.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling sick.  Headache and nausea.  And some bleeding.  I was convinced it was nothing, it would go away.  I have this weird response to nausea, I eat.  I know it goes back to my post-Africa-stomach-issues; so I made myself eat breakfast and drink some coffee.  Brad was worried.  I told him I was OK.  I felt awful.  I went to lie down.  I don’t even know exactly what happened that morning.  The bleeding didn’t stop.  The headache got worse, my breakfast came back.  I remember thinking my body was fighting for this pregnancy.  I remember trying to talk my body into fighting hard.  Brad drove me to the ER.  I got sick on the way.  I thought about a story about an ectopic pregnancy and asked Brad if he was my “ICE contact” in my phone.  I wasn’t sure my legs would carry me in when he pulled to the door.  I just wanted it to all be better.  

I walked in to the ER and told them what was happening, “I think I am having a miscarriage.”  Of course, the words will barely come out through the tears.  I feel weak and silly and mad at my body.  “I have a bad headache, and I can’t keep anything down.”  She asks me how far along I am, “I think I am 4-5 weeks, I haven’t seen my PCM yet and didn’t know what to do so I came here; I didn’t have a doctor to call.”  She takes my card and I go sit down.  I think to myself that maybe my running shorts weren’t a good choice.  Brad texts me to let me know he is waiting in the parking lot for a bit. 
I feel a little like everyone in the waiting room is wondering what is wrong with this crying lady.  I tell myself no one in the ER really cares.  

When I get called back, I get hooked up to a bp cuff, and heart rate monitor.  I’m in a private ob-gyn room off the main ER bay.  I get to change into a gown and sit on a bed.  I’m relieved a little bit about the running shorts.  The doc comes in shortly, I tell him my LMP date.  I tell him I just had a physical on the 20th, I tell him I took a pregnancy test on the 26th.  He decides to give me an IV, run bloodwork, do a pelvic exam and an ultrasound.  He also gave me some Tylenol. My headache continues but the nausea subsides.  Brad texts some people from church.  He asks me if I want anyone to sit with me.  I don’t.  He would be the only one I would want there, but I want him with the boys.  And since we are still foster-to-adopt parents of our babies, we can’t just call a friend to watch them, it would have to be a state-approved caregiver.  That stresses me out to think about.  I want Brad with them.  

I don’t feel alone though.  I know I am not alone.  Whenever the nurse leaves my little room, I close my eyes, and let the hot tears well up.  I tell my Savior that I know I am not alone.  I trust Him to carry us through this.  Brad and I texted back and forth the whole time, my favorite text from him said, “God is good, we just gotta trust Him.” 

Finally the doctor comes in and says it’s a “threatened abortion.”  I hate that word.  I know it also means miscarriage.  He tells me there’s a 50/50 chance of this pregnancy continuing.  He tells me that the body will do this if there is a problem with the pregnancy, it will take care of it.  Or something.  I don’t remember exactly.  He said the ultrasound was inconclusive and that I needed to get my hCG checked on Monday.

Everything in me hoped this would be one of those “close calls.” I sent an email to my praying girlfriends, although I had no idea how to ask them to pray.  Our parents and siblings all knew and were praying too.  We did our best to explain things to Wilson and Walker…even though I know they were still both confused about it all.   I think Brad knew early on how this would end.  He didn’t rush me to the same conclusion.  Even after the bleeding continued he didn’t make me feel silly for hoping maybe just maybe.  I think I am pretty good about realizing how awesome my husband is, but oh my, does he shine during tough times.  My words would really be lacking if I tried to elaborate on how well he cared for me, for all of us, during these days.

I spent much of the day Monday googling about “threatened abortions at week 5”.  I’m not proud of it, I was just hoping to find something to make it ok.  I found out late Monday that my hCG went down.  Brad was at work.  The babies were sleeping.  Wilson and Walker were watching TV.  I just laid on the bed and sobbed.  I knew there were people that wanted to know what we found out, but I couldn’t bring myself to call or text any of them.  I thought there was going to be a miracle.  I cried some more.  I told God how awful all of this felt.  I told Him that I didn’t feel like telling anyone.   I just wanted to lie there and close my eyes and wake up with it all over… like a nightmare you wake up from.  I know people were praying even in these moments because I was protected from accusations cropping up in my mind.  I felt sorrow, but I didn’t feel guilt.

A week later and I still do not know the first thing about how to process this.  I cannot believe how incredibly painful this is.  We only knew for 5 days.  And I will carry this loss all of my days.  In many ways, I feel God spared me some pain, like if we had seen a heartbeat, or ultrasound pictures, if we had made our ‘big announcement;’ while at the same time I feel that we missed out on so much because this pregnancy only lasted a few short days.  We’ve been left with nothing to show for it.  Those stupid digital pregnancy tests just show a blank screen after a day instead of the word “pregnant.”  And I’m mad about it.  And the tears come so easy.  And my heart feels so broken.  And I have four beautiful boys that bring so much joy to my day, but there is still an ache for a baby I will never hold; that I never even got to feel the weight of.  And it is a heavy burden.  There is a word that keeps rising in me, as I muddle through fleeting pregnancy hormones, the word is cruel – to still ‘feel pregnant’ when there is no baby growing, I can’t think of a better word for it.  I know my God is not cruel, but I am reminded again that this world is.  And this is not my home. 

I feel a little tossed about.  But I am certain that the anchor holds.  And while, technically there is nothing tangible to show for this pain, I will hold tightly to the memory of the night we found out… that priceless, indescribable look on Brad’s face.  I will treasure the reminders of God’s faithfulness in that ER room as the tears fell slow.  I have the emails and texts from friends & family that reassured me of their prayers and God’s goodness.  The sweet hopefulness of a biggest brother, that thought maybe this would be a girl, and that middle brother that asked me just yesterday, “if the doctors were sure this was a miscarriage.”  I didn’t expect them to be excited too.  God has shown me again how big their little hearts are.  

So my heart hurts.  But my faith grows.  I know He has good things in store for us.  I don’t doubt it.  I don’t know how, where, or when, but I don’t doubt it.  I know He comforts carefully and faithfully.  He led me to this anchor verse to tie me down and hold me safe, if you get a chance you should read the verses surrounding it to, 

“We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19a