Isaiah 43: 18-19

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. "

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adoption and parenting: the narrow road.

It has been a long time since I have done a blog post. It is considerably overdue! The Lord often speaks to me and through me while writing. There is so much on my heart right now that I want to share some of it with all of you. As I grow and mature in my faith and relationship with Jesus, I am learning that He uses everything to mold us and shape us into his likeness. I am also learning how much I desperately need Him, every single day. I'll never forget the pastor from our old church always said we are a like a leaky bucket. We always need to come back to the Cross to fill back up.

Most of you know our adoption story, but I will give you a little bit of background if you aren't familiar with it. I have two siblings who were adopted internationally when I was in high school. During this time the Lord put the desire for adoption on my heart. Dan and I talked about adopting, even before we got married. When we faced infertility, we knew God wanted us to adopt. I always thought I would adopt a little boy or girl from Asia. Little did I know God had other plans and a few months after we said yes to adoption, we found ourselves saying yes to a beautiful brown eyed, brown skinned little baby girl who was about to be born.

When we filled out our adoption questionnaire, we said yes to any race or gender, but "no" to special needs. As we hadn't had any children yet, we did not feel equipped to take care of a special needs child. As Mia went through developmental stages, it became obvious that she was significantly delayed. We sought OT for her physical delays and enrolled her in BabyNet. Other than being behind in speech and physical milestones, she was a pretty happy baby/toddler. About the age of 2 1/2, she started having some behavioral issues. Mia also had trouble sleeping, and would be awake for hours and hours in the middle of the night. At the same time, I was pregnant with Micah. After Micah was born, Mia had extreme behavioral issues and we didn't know what was wrong with her. She was 3 and still had only a couple of words. We realized she was frustrated because she couldn't express herself and acted out physically and behaviorally.(Plus she wasn't sleeping well, which will make anyone crazy!)  My dad encouraged us to seek professional help, and we were able to get her in to Developmental Peds at MUSC. A godsend of an OT took one look at Mia and her behavior and asked me "Have you ever heard of sensory processing disorder?" I vaguely remembered hearing about it, but wasn't too familiar. She recommended the book "The Out of Sync Child" and our worlds turned upside down. I finally understood my daughter. This book described Mia to a T. She has a mixed form of SPD, where she is hyposensitive in some regards (no regard for body space, always sitting on top of us, craving physical touch) and hypersensitive in others (overwhelmed and shutting down in overstimulating situations such as birthday parties). This was almost exactly three years ago and she has improved tremendously, and our ability to understand and parent her has greatly improved as well. Instead of yelling at her for accidently kneeing me in the chin (poor body control and awareness) I can tell her to be careful of where her arms and legs are.

She is doing SO much better and is a different kid from 3 years ago, but some days are still extremely trying and painful. Mia is very behind in school and I worry about her future. She has difficulty making and maintaining friendships because other kids don't understand her and it is hard for her to relate socially. This morning Pastor Josh Walters gave an incredibly sermon on grief. If you have experience grief of any kind in your life, I would encourage you to go to Seacoast Church online and listen to this sermon. Grief can come in many forms, and it can be something like the loss of a goal or dream. With Mia, I grieve for all of the odds she has against her and knowing she will struggle to do all of the things that come so easily to other kids.  We went to a birthday party two weekends ago and Mia was so excited she talked about it all week. When we got there, she froze and hid behind me, refusing to participate in any of the activities. My heart broke a little knowing how hard it must have been for her. The other night we had another situation and after Dan and I talked, I started sobbing. I realized it was grief. The message this morning talked about the importance of going through the grief stages and being able to talk about them. Dan and I talked that night and I asked him, "Why us? Why did God choose us for this difficult job? I don't feel equipped." I am slowly learning that I don't have to equipped, because Jesus will fight for me. He desperately loves and adores Mia and He will give me the tools to love and parent Mia the way she needs. I will daily run to the cross and trust in HIS strength, not mine.

It is funny how God knows our hearts and speaks to us through situations and other people. This weekend Dan has been out of town and I was a little bit nervous to have the kids by myself all weekend because Mia doesn't listen as well to me. We have had the most amazing weekend and the kids have been an absolute delight. I have been intentional on spending time with Mia and she has just flourished and blossomed. Then the craziest thing happened yesterday. We went to lunch with some friends with work and Mia took a piece of chicken off of someone's plate. She lacks impulse control (part of her SPD) and makes poor decisions sometimes. She apologized but I was embarrassed and frustrated. We talked about it and she truly showed remorse. After lunch we went to Marshalls/Homegoods and I was looking in the clothing section. A lady who was also browsing turned to me and said "I have heard the way you are interacting with your kids and you are doing a really good job. It's not easy, but you are a great mom." I almost started crying. I realized later she actually worked there, but y'all, I'm pretty sure she was an angel. I felt such a peace after she spoke to me.

Some days I feel overwhelmed and frustrated, but I know Jesus has called us to love this little girl, fight for her, believe in her, and advocate for her when no one else will. There is a song our church has been doing lately called So Will I, and one of the last lines of the song is "He's the One who never leaves the one behind." I get goose bumps every time I hear it. As a church, we are called to fight for the least of these. If you know someone who is raising a special needs child, encourage them, support them. Ask what you can do to help them. We have an incredible small group who loves our family so well, and we are so grateful for them. They are patient, kind, forgiving and nonjudgmental, everything the church should be.  I mean, how could you not love this little face?



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Body Image

Ok just a warning, this post may not be for everyone. If you are female, I know that you struggle with body image and self-esteem, its just part of our nature. If you never have issues with it, well, tell me your secret!! Why do we struggle so much with body image? Especially women. I know men have a hard time with it too, just not in the same way.
 

 We are constantly bombarded with images of what we should like, how our hair, skin tone, makeup, butt, thighs, etc should look. Every time we go to the grocery store, magazine covers show us what beauty should look like. Well, what if we don't fit the mold? What if our eyelashes aren't long enough,our stomaches aren't toned enough, our legs arent bronzee enough? We end up feeling poorly about ourselves and wonder what we can do to improve ourselves.
KIM KARDASHIAN   photo | Kim Kardashian
RIHANNA photo | Rihanna


Trust me I am not surfing for comliments when I say this, but I have terrible self-esteem. Not everyone knows that about me; and in fact, when I told my friend Patty at work that i really had a hard time with it, she was surprised. I spent 10 years of my life in leotards and pink tights in an environment where every ounce of fat was scrutinized. During that time, I also auditioned for modeling agencies. I got a couple of shoots, but when I tried out for a big agency in Cleveland called Ford Models (at age 12) I was told that I wasn't quite tall enough for runway, and I wasn't quite thin enough for printwork, and size 6 was the absolute maximum ever accepted. Thus began the poor self-esteem. Then I tried cheerleading, which was probably not the best move for a girl who was already self-consious.  Most of my friends at the time happened to be very tiny with very small hips, and I was small with more pronounced hips, so I always felt inadequate next to my peers. Anyhow, we all have stories of how we developed a negative body image, so I won't elaborate too much further.
 (neither of these are me in case you are wondering lol) So, its very easy to see how girls can develop poor self-esteem and a negative body image. I know many of us think, well if I just lost those extra pounds, if I had better hair, if I have nicer teeth, then I would feel pretty. I recently read an article, I think it was in People, about "hot bodies over 40," and at first glance, I thought wow! I would love to look that good at 40, heck, I would love to look that good now!

Then I thought, what if JESUS came back when I turned 40. Would He say, "Great job, you have really kept your stomach toned." Or, "I am so proud of you, you've worked so hard to keep wrinkles away, your skin looks flawless!" Once I thought about that, I was so ashamed. If Christ returned in 15 years, I think he would probably say something more along the lines of "What have you done to love others? How have you shown them my love? What have you done with all I have given you?"


This really shifted my mindset. Sure, its nice to feel good about how you look, but I really needed this reminder:

"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Sam 16:7


Beauty comes from within!!! Have you ever met someone who may not be very attractive on the outside, but once you get to know them, you realize what a beautiful person they are? Lord, help me to become less like me and more like You!

"All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter:25

Our time on earth is so short, and instead of being obsessed with our PHYSICAL image, we should be concerned with our hearts. My person icon, Audrey Hepburn was a beautiful woman, but it was not her physical beauty that made a lasting impression. She did many humanitation works after her time in the movies, and although I don't know what her relationship with God was like, she made her life mean something beyond movies and fame.




So what should we do with our body image issues? I think if we shift our paradigms to focus on what the Lord sees as beautiful, our confidence in HIM and ourselves will change. I am by no means an expert in this, I am sorting through these body image issues just as you are! I also don't want you to think physdical health isn't important. Taking care of our bodies is a command from scripture. My husband would love me no matter what I looked like, but I don't think it would be right to wear baggy sweatpants everywhere, stop excerising and eat crappy food all the time. There just needs to be a balance!!! We are beautiful because God created us in HIS image, and He loves us just as we are.

I want my daughter to grow up with a healthy self-image as a girl and eventually as a woman, and know that her true beauty comes from within.

And now to end with an Audrey Hepburn quote ;)

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”





Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day and Mia's Dedication

What a beautiful day. Dan and I went to church together for the first time in probably 6 months. Don't worry, we still both go but Dan usually plays in the band so he leaves at the crack of dawn and I get up with Mia and play in the morning and then we go to the 11:15 service ;). Hey, I never claimed to be a morning person!  The sermon was dedicated to Mother's Day and was really good, as usual. It was also very bittersweet for me because although I am filled with immense joy at the notion that I can truly celebrate the wonderful gift of motherhood, there was also a tinge of sadness in the loss of a close relationship to my own mother. I don't really want to go into too much detail, but there will always be a bit of wistfulness in my heart. I know that God wants me to take that pain and turn it into motivation to be the best mother I can be and always put my child before myself. I love her so much and want to be a great, godly example to her. Only through Christ will I be able to!

We followed the sermon with a sweet baby dedication for Mia. There were 29 babies/children dedicated! What a blessing! I am priveleged to be charged with raising Mia in a godly home, and grateful to have friends and family who will surround us and encourage us in spiritual wisdom.  Dan and I went for a quiet lunch with Mia and reflected on the gift that she is to us!  For my none-facebook friends, here are some pictures of the dedication:








I am also extraordinarily grateful to Mia's birthmother. I can only imagine the emotions she must be going through today. I am thankful that I have a relationship with her, I received a Happy Mother's Day text from her this morning. We had a rocky start but I love that I can tell her how thankful I am to her and what an incredible woman she is for all the sacrifice she made. She gave us the greatest gift possible!

One quick word to all the motherless, and those who are waiting for their first child. Please don't give up hope! I know how painful this day is for you; I didn't even want to acknowledge Mother's Day last year, I couldnt let my heart go there. But know that God knows the desires of your heart, and if you are aching to hold that sweet little child, He knows and He will grant you the desires of your heart. It may not be in the way you planned or expected, but His way is SO much better then ours! Even as the heavens are higher the the earths, His ways are better then our ways. (Isaiah 55)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

gearing up for my first Mothers' Day

It feels so surreal that I am about to celebrate Mother's Day. I started receiving cards in the mail and thought, why on earth am I getting cards, my birthday isn't till July? I think for so long my heart ached on mother's day, its hard to accept the fact that I can in fact rejoice.  I am still humbled and amazed that we have a beautiful, sweet giggling 7 month old-and shes OUR daughter! A friend at work recently asked why our adoption went so smoothly when there are so many "horror" stories out there. I told that first, alot of people were praying for this little one, and also God chose to bestow favor on us. It was nothing that we did, we give the Lord all of the credit. God's love has been displayed through the gift of Mia. I am so so thankful for her and I fall more in love with her every day.

So what is Mia up to? She has become so so interactive. She loves to play with us and she's even discovered she can pull on the dogs ears and tails. They actually love it and think she's playing with them. (I'm pretty sure they think she's a puppy!) We are still working on getting her to sit up by herself but she is practically crawling, so I know the sitting will come soon. My best friend specializes in this kind of stuff and said the most important thing is social and emotional development and she is definitely passing that with flying colors!! She thinks everything (including mommy dancing) is hilarious, its so great.  I love giggling with her :). Anyhow I have so so much more to write and update, but just wanted to write a quick note!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Crazy Beautiful

Wow, it's been two months since I blogged, I cant believe it. I dont even know where to start...Life really has been crazy and beautiful at the same time.

We'll start with Mia's 6 month appointment. I was a little bit nervous because she wasn't sitting up or rolling over yet, but everyone assured me that it was no big deal and babies do things at different times. So when we got to the pediatricians office, she had a heel stick to check her hemaglobin and hematocrit. Well the hemaglobin (tells you how much iron is in your blood) was a little low, so the pediatrician seemed a little concerned. She started asking all sorts of questions about Mia's birthmother history to see if there was a reason it was low. And by low, I'm talking 10.5 (normal value 11-13). So we told her she wasn't really sitting up by herself. She loves her excersaucer but we usually put a little blanket behind her back to help her from falling backwards. The pediatrician said this was not normal and she should be sitting without support by six months. Then I asked her about the spots above Mia's eyes.

They are little white patches above her eyes that dont bother me at all but I was just double checking to make sure she doesnt have some kind of skin condition. Our pediatrician had absolutely no idea what they were, but seemed concerned that it was some kind of fungal infection and said to watch it closely and if it spreads that Mia will need a dermatology consult. We were like, oh gosh! I am a worrier by nature, so all of this had me a little overwhelmed. They drew a formal CBC to recheck Mia's hemaglobin and said they would call with results. Our pediatrician had us make an appointment for 1 month instead of 3 months away. Well, I went to work the next day and my co-workers/friends are pretty much all moms and they said our pediatrician was overreacting, especially about the "developmental delays." During the day I received a phone call from a nurse at the office who said Mia's formal CBC came back with a hemaglobin of 12 (which is completely normal!). Our evening secretary Joyce said that her son had the same spots above his eyebrows and that it was no big deal. So that made me feel so much better! But, they are kind of scaly looking so I will probably just pay close attention to make sure they don't spread or anything. (as if I don't already spend all day staring at my baby :) )

Then this Tuesday evening, Mia was on her playmat on her back and was sort of rolling to her side(she usually does that, especially when she is sleeping) and all of a sudden, she was on her bell with her arms propped up under her looking very proud. Dan and I were hilarious, we were crouched down congratulating her, sending text messages, etc. We were so excited!!



I really can't help but feel SOO blessed with this amazing, beautiful sweet little baby girl. She is so happy; when I get her from her crib in the morning she kicks her legs and squeals in delight. Is there really anything better then that? I fall more in love with her every day. She is soo snuggly and I love our morning naps/cuddle time.  This was her falling asleep on Daddy.


So some people have asked me what is happening with our birth mother contact. If you remember from a post a while back, we were somewhat strained because BM wanted alot more then we were able to give. Well I really prayed about the right thing to do and so I gave her several dates to meet for a visit. I knew God wanted us to open our hearts to her and what she needed and I felt really at peace about scheduling a visit. To our surprise, she canceled each visit. I don't really know why but I think she is probably starting to move on with her life. I am so happy to be able to send her pictures and updates (which is what we had initially wanted anyway but we were willing to do more if needed) so it really has all worked out. She (BM) loves hearing updates about Mia and receiving pictures. I created an email account just for her so I could send as many pictures as she wants. Its amazing how much my heart has changed toward her as well. To be honest, at first it was really hard to communicate with her because I was so emotionally drained and confused. Now, all I feel is gratitude and compassion toward her. She gave us the greatest gift she could and made an incredibly mature, self- sacrificing decision.

look at this little pumpkin!!
 My happy happy girl!

What else is new? Well, I was recently asked by the amazing Angie Rylands to be a part of the board of directors for Lifeline Children's Services! I am so humbled and excited for this opportunity. This adoption agency is currently in 8 states throughout the US. Services focus on international and domestic adoption, foster care, and orphan care (unadopted). I am so so excited because God has always given me a passion towards adoption and orphans and I just didn't know how to take the next step. Well God has brought Angie and I together in several different ways. We used to play french horn together in ECBCs orchestra, and by that I mean that she played beautifully and I pretended to play and chimed in on the easy parts lol. Angie and her husband Tom have recently adopted pretty incredible boys from China (click on her name above to read her story!) two Anyhow, this agency is morning to Charleston and Angie is serving as the state director. It is incredible to see how God has used her to propel this ministry.

That being said, I would like to tell you guys about a meeting we have THIS TUESDAY the 17th! It's from 6:30-8:30 and it is for everyone! We want to inspire Christians to answer the call to orphan care. Does this mean adoption? Maybe, but it also means supporting orphans, getting involved in foster care, and all kinds of things! I'm so excited about this meeting and I want you to be there!!


Please Join Journey Together Ministries as they welcome Lifeline Children’s Services to Charleston! Lifeline celebrates over 30 years of ministering to families and providing the hope of Christ to children in need.
Lifeline staff will be sharing their vision for Orphan care worldwide on April 17, 2012 at the Longpoint Rd. campus of Seacoast Church. You will hear about the history of Lifeline’s ministry and learn ways in which God may be calling you to serve his heart for the orphan.
This event is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m.
 


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 One last thing, all of Mia's Easter pics! She was soo tired when I took this because it was the end of the day, but I just loved celebrating Easter with her and I can't wait until she is old enough to understand what Jesus did for us!!








 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hair product review and house update

Hi guys! So I decided I wanted to start putting a little moisturizer in Mia's hair, but I wanted something natural and baby friendly. Some people have said to use baby oil, but I also heard that it can cause hair  follicles to get plugged and hair to break off, so for a while I was using baby lotion because her scalp was so dry. Now, her scalp dryness is pretty much gone, but her hair is so big and wild. Its absolutely beautiful, but she has such pretty curls, I want to be able to see them more. I will admit that I play with her hair all the time, and she loves it! But it also makes the curls less defined. So my friend at work recommended a product, and I took a chance and ordered it. Check out the results!!


Before:


After:


amazing right?


I just love this look! I ordered two products, one-a moisturizer for days I don't wash it, and the other one is a "curl definer". I put that in her hair right after a bath. It is so fun experimenting with her beautiful hair! If you are interested in the products, its at curls.biz. They have products for all ages and their target audience is multi-racial. It was started by a biracial woman who couldnt find any hair products that she loved, so she started her own. The baby products are all natural, so nothing harmful. i'm not sure about the other products, but I think they are all natural too. You will have to check the website to be sure.



So for our house update, we found a great house! We realized we either had to sacrifice in size or monthly rent, so we decided to pay a little more for a house that would fit our needs best. We are leased till next July, so hopefully by then we will figure out where we want to buy a house, because I am tired of renting! But this house is awesome, and actually bigger then what we are in right now. Dan will have plenty of room to work, and Mia will have plenty of room to grow!! We move next Thursday, March 1st, so after we move I will post some pics! yay thanks for your prayers, this house really is an answer to prayer.

Ok now for what you really want, cutie pictures!!
 

First walk without the infant carseat! she loved it!


I'm such a big girl, I'm eating solids!

Happy happy girl :)
 
I can almost sit up!

My favorite pic, this is what I came home to after work one night. Does it get any better then this?



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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Be careful what you wish for! And Mia's 4 month visit

Seriously, I can't help but hear Alanis Morrisette's song "isn't it ironic?" running through my head. What am I talking about? Well, let me just tell you. The day after I wrote the previous post on contentment, I checked my email and found out we are getting kicked out of our house!! Apparently the owners decided they want to move back in June 1st. They must love my decorating so much they realized they were missing out. ha! No, we really have no idea why they are moving back in. They live about 2 miles away in a much bigger house, so maybe they can't afford their house? So now we have to scramble to find a house that meets all of our needs AND is affordable. Since Dan works from home, he really needs a work space to effectively run his business. We also need a fenced in yard because of our dogs. Easier said then done! Ah, well now we are also realizing how good of a deal we were getting on rent too. So the moral of the story is- be careful what you wish for, you just might get it! We didn't really like the house we are in, so now we have to move..."A little too ironic, yeah I really do think!"

Today was Mia's 4 month old appointment. She actually turned 4 months last week, but they didn't have any openings. I was secretly worried about her not reaching certain milestones, but her doctor was very unconcerned, in fact, she said we should write a book on parenting! Lol I actually laughed out loud at that, because we really don't know what we are doing, we are just learning one step at a time. I think she meant that Mia is happy and healthy and pretty much doing all the things a 4 month old baby should do. Before the doctor came in to the exam room, I noticed Mia had some dryness on her arms. I thought, oh no! I don't want the pediatrician to think we aren't keeping her skin moisturized. I noticed a bottle of Cerave, which is the brand of lotion my friend at work uses for her kids ethnic skin. I told Dan to quickly bring me the bottle before the doctor came in so I could moisturize Mia. Halfway through slathering her with the slippery liquid, I realized I was covering her in soap! I'm like crap, now she's going to think I'm an even worse parent for putting liquid soap all over my kid's skin! I made Dan get me some wet paper towels so I could get the soap off of her skin before our doctor came in. Dan was just shaking his head at my ridiculousness. It was pretty funny. Then I got some dry paper towels so she wasn't soaking wet either. By the time the pediatrician finally did come in, everything was back to normal and I innocently pretended none of the previous fiasco hadn't happened. I did burst out laughing after she left the room and I realized what hilariousness had ensued.

Anyhow, Mia is happy and healthy and in the 75th percentile for weight and along a perfect growth curve. Our pediatrician commented on how lucky Mia was to have us for parents. I replied that actually, we were the lucky ones!! And now we are going to start her on solids! I'm excited!!

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