Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life.

As we near the day, one year ago, that we lost our precious Number 3, I am completely overwhelmed with so many emotions...

That day tragically welcomed me... initiated me... into a 'club' that no one ever wants to be  a part of.

Can I be honest?

I had spent years.... YEARS.... basking in the comfort of 'just knowing' that we had been through enough heartache, enough pain and disappointment, that God would spare us from that.

 Right?!

Of course He would.

We had met our max... had experienced more than our fair share of failed infertility treatments, month after month... year after year of 'trying', too many failed matches, quite a few frantic packing sessions and plan making and plane-ticket-buying only to end up empty handed...

and at the end of it all, at least I could take comfort in the fact that, because of our infertility.... because we simply couldn't get pregnant in the first place... that my Jesus would save us from that... the unmentionable.... that thing that no one talks about...

miscarriage....

and ultimately, the death of a baby.

Don't get me wrong, we have lost DOZENS of babies in our 8 years of marriage...

but every one of them is walking and talking and living today...

not with us...

but they are.

And that loss, though different, never leaves you alone, either....

I know each one by name. I knew and loved their mama's with all my heart. We planned for them... prepared our home and hearts for them. They will always be part of our 'extended' family...

but they're still there... somewhere.

And I think about each one of the every single day.

And then it happened...

A surprise pregnancy came with elation and amazement at the miracles He has done in our lives...

and then it was gone.

Our precious #3.

And our world was shattered.

It took months for me to work through what had happened....

How did God think we could handle this?!

How do you have sex for 8 years... TRY for so long... and then just 'happen' to get pregnant?!

How can God bless you in such an enormous, life changing way... and then rip it from your grasp so tragically?

I was so mad. At God. 

But then it happened again...

And here we are.... 1 year since we lost our #3, 24 weeks into my second pregnancy, and about 15 weeks away from meeting our newest son...


A boy!

I've spent the past couple of months trying to figure out what to write... how to write.

I remember 'those blogs'... I've read dozens of them;

infertility, adoption, loss... and a surprise pregnancy...

and all of a sudden, all of those things that bound us... the one's we had in common... the desperate emotions I felt that were so perfectly placed into sentences were replaced with belly pictures and comparisons of babies to fruit...

those things were gone. The pain of infertility? It was somehow gone.

So I stopped reading.

I won't do that here... I refuse.... but that explains my silence recently...

As miraculous and as exciting as this time in our lives is, our precious fruit-sized baby doesn't change the fact that infertility has defined me for so long.

I'm still infertile.

And I know that that's a tough one to swallow but friends, it's true....

A pregnancy can't erase the years and years of longing and dreaming and suffering and crying out to Jesus...

because those moments, that heartache, is responsible for who I am today.

Those times define major milestones in my faith and my relationship with my Jesus... with my husband. They collected and accumulated to make me the mom I am to our 2 miracles through adoption...

they will make me the mom I will be to our newest baby, too.

So here I am...

31 years old.... 8 years since we started trying to get pregnant... 2 adoptions in to the growth of our beautiful family... dozens of losses through adoption and 1 tragic loss of our first homegrown baby... 24 weeks into our second pregnancy... 15 weeks away from meeting our second son...

and I'm still infertile.

And I'm terrified.

I know how to do infertile....

I'm a pro.

Growing a baby? Remembering with every glance in the mirror at my growing belly and with every somersault and kick that this is what my heart desired... remembering that this is what I asked for, what I longed for...

finding comfort in the fulfillment of His promises...

and trying so desperately to trust...

that we won't lose this one, too.

My heart still aches for our precious #3... and my arms ache for our #4.

I'm wishing time away, friends...

counting down the days, minutes, and seconds until I can finally hold this sweet baby boy.

And as 'that day' one year ago closes in, I've spent so much time grasping for closure to the tragedy that we experienced just one year ago... trying to find purpose in the lowest low and now the highest high of God's plan for us... trying to answer those questions of 'how' and 'why'...

and it's only recently that I've discovered something;

I will never find 'purpose' in death.

And it's actually ok that Jesus chose this to be part of our story... it's painful and I wish he had chosen to let our sweet #3 stay... but it's ok.

God never promises life on Earth...

He DOES promise life in eternity.

John 3:16- For God so loved the world that he gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will NOT die but have eternal LIFE.

Our earthly bodies and minds will never be able to accept death... we're not supposed to... we're not built with the capacity to rationalize something as terrible and as painful as losing those we love; the ones Jesus put in our lives to strengthen and teach us and help us grow.

The purpose we can find is in life... even if that life flashed by in the blink of an eye.

Our only goal as parents is to raise our children to know Jesus... their creator... the writer of their stories... the author of the miracles that gave them to us...

and by doing that, Joey and I know that our family will one day be complete and whole in Heaven.

What greater gift can you give your family than life in eternity together and the hope that comes with knowing we'll never have to live apart?

The loss of our precious #3 will hurt every day until the day we are all together again...

but we will be together again. And that's the promise I've found in the loss of our baby... Jesus helped us fulfill our deepest desire as parents; to see our babies in eternity... whenever He's ready for us.

And that is the purpose I have found in the short, but oh-so-sweet life of our #3. That sweet baby is waiting for us, giving us purpose and comfort here in this life, allowing us to rest in the knowledge that someone is waiting for us... waiting to complete us.

And this baby... Our #4... our son?

Every wave and every kick reminds me that, while 'infertile' will always be a word that defines me... while loss still feels so close and raw... while fear and anxiety stand at the cusp of stealing my joy...

 new life is coming.

I'm learning how to do this thing called 'pregnant'... it's not easy. I'm learning that the miracles that create life inside of one and place it in her arms are full of as many unknowns and challenges as the miracles that create life inside one and place it in the arms of another.

Today I am grateful for the short life of our #3 and rest in knowing that he/she is safely waiting for me in the arms of Jesus...

and I'm grateful for the life inside of me that reminds me throughout each day that life is what we are promised...

Whether we find the fulfillment of that promise here on Earth...

or in eternity with him.









Thursday, July 17, 2014

The sweet little lady at the pharmacy.... and why I want to punch her in the face

We're pharmacy frequent shoppers...

it should be a club.

Between 2 asthmatics, one puking pregnant mama and whatever else pops up throughout the year, here's a typical phone call with our local pharmacy...

"Hey "insert name", it's Lindsay... can I get "rx name" filled for Hunter, please?"

"Hi Mrs. Smith! Sure! Give me 10 minutes!"

No last name needed... no birth dates... nothin.

And I'm ok with that! These kinds of phone calls make my life much easier ;-)

Our pharmacy is part of a large chain 'drug store' that you've probably heard of.... there's probably one less than 1.3 miles from your house, in fact... on every corner.

When I combine rx pick-ups and personal care/ necessities in one trip, I like to check out at the cosmetic counter...

those girls always have coupons.

Did you know that?!?! They do... always. 

Anyway, one woman has been working at our cosmetic counter for as long as we've lived here... 8+ years. She's slightly older... a gramma, maybe? She's tiny and looks so distinguished when she slips on her tiny glasses in order to read through her coupons. She has huge giveaway baskets every week that are chalk full of super-cute body care and perfume samples and every time you check out, she enters your name in the giveaway... I've filled out thousands but have never won. But I'm not bitter. At all. Her hair is gray and she wears it in a cute top knot... 

actually, I think she invented the top knot. Pretty sure.

She always chats with my babies when we're shopping... asks Hannah about school, does her best (along with the rest of the store) to distract Hunter from the fact that he's stuck in a shopping cart (it doesn't usually work), and chats with me about her 'usuals' or the small town gossip. She's sweet.

Until it's time to say 'bye-bye.'

Our newest thought is that Hunter has some form of speech apraxia... a disconnect between his brain and the muscles in his mouth. He follows directions perfectly (correction... he CAN follow directions perfectly... but sometimes chooses not to... like his mama... or daddy ;-)), his receptive language is strong, his understanding of his surroundings and the role he plays is flawless.... you can physically SEE him forming thoughts and words in his mind... but he can't say them.

Yet.

His hearing loss compounds things slightly and we're working so hard with lots of speech therapy and we're all beefing up our sign language skills... but he gets frustrated. We do, too. He wants something and can't tell us... he got hurt and can't tell us... he wants to play with you but can't tell you... 

He can bring you a book and you know he wants to read... he can sign 'water' and you know he's thirsty... but if you're in the car and can't see him or aren't looking at him at the time, his ways of communicating are minimum.

We see his frustration the most when we play with other kids his age...

he knows he's different.

And it's one of the hardest things we've ever had to watch.

Our determination is as strong as his... helping him find ways of communicating while his language slowly develops is our full-time priority on a daily basis.

Our cosmetic counter lady...

She always says 'bye-bye' to my kids... 

sweet, huh?

She waits for a response every.single.time. Hannah will politely say 'bye' and sometimes Hunter will wave... but that's not good enough for her...

She wants the words... and every.single.time she says "bye-bye" and he doesn't say it back, I can sense her judgement.

and yesterday, I wanted to punch her in the face.

"Isn't he 2 years old?"

"He is."

"Ooooh."

Sweet gray haired lady, meet my fist.

"I don't owe her an explanation... and if I were him, I wouldn't say 'bye-bye', either!"...

My first thoughts upon quickly leaving storming out of the store.

Judging... MY KID.

How dare you.

And then my sweet neighbor of 8 years passed away...

and we didn't know that she had been sick.

We've seen her plenty of times over the past year, walking her dog or gardening, and she had lost weight... she looked amazing! And I told her so each time I saw her...

"I see you out walking all the time... you look so wonderful! Your hard work is paying off!"

And then she died...

from cancer that she's been fighting for a year.

From a cancer that had slowly been wasting her away for a year.

She never told me...

And even though my 'judgements' felt helpful and encouraging at the time... now they sound inconsiderate and cruel.

She was dying.

And I told her she looked amazing.

Sheesh.

Judgements.

I won't tolerate judgements made on my children... and I'm not above punching you in the face (ok, figuratively), should you insult them.

But maybe I DO owe her an explanation...? 

"His speech is delayed a little but he's learning! Keep saying 'bye-bye' to him and one day soon, you'll get one back!"

A simple explanation.

I sure wish my precious neighbor had given me one... and I'm sure going to miss her :-(

I stopped in to see her sister yesterday evening...

"Why didn't she tell me?" I asked.

"She didn't want any special treatment." She said.

Would I have treated her differently, had I known? Maybe. Maybe not. But I would have understood...

And that is more valuable than anything.

Maybe I'll offer up an opportunity for understanding before I punch anyone in the face...

"Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!"
~ Luke 6:31


He's already the best big brother :-)




Thursday, July 3, 2014

#4

We found ourselves in a fog after losing our precious #3...

traveling through the shock of finding ourselves pregnant after EIGHT years off birth control... 4 years of infertility testing/ medication/ treatments/ charting/ timing, 6 IUI's, 2 beautiful adoptions, and accepting... no... loving the perfect plan of building our family through adoption.

The loss of our #3 left us in a shock unlike any other... the questions we had about the future of our family grew exponentially... counseling... depression... helping our tender 30 year old hearts heal... and helping one precious 5 year old heart heal, too...

Our once-dreaded due-date came and brought with it so much joy... reminders that we aren't alone, that #3 will never be forgotten, that our pain is not just our own... 

We had cake to bring what we are sure was a Heavenly celebration for our #3 down to Earth...

and then...


Our smart girl gives us goosebumps when she does that... remember this? And this?

So I knew.... on our precious 3's *should be* due-date... that something big was coming...

and then...

exactly 12 days later...


Our 'next baby' sure will have a birthday THIS YEAR.


Jesus told her heart... and this year it will be.

Our hearts will always ache for our precious #3... time will never heal that wound... and #4 will never take his or her place in our hearts...

and fear still threatens to creep in daily...

but we will forever be grateful that His mercies are new every morning...

and for the new place He has created for our newest baby-love...

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23



** It sounds counter-intuitive, but this was a difficult announcement to make... because I know how painful these announcements were to read not too long ago. There's still so much I don't understand... HOW do people get pregnant in the first place?! It's not as simple as having sex... I promise... we tried that for 8 years. WHY are we able to get pregnant all of a sudden? People don't get MORE fertile as they get older! Not even our doctors understand this. If you're reading this and you're who I was not too long ago, please know how much I understand. Please know how much I DON'T understand! And please stick around to help me as I work through the fear, unknowns, and learn how to do this new part of life... while still knowing how *infertile* I really still am! 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

2 Years Ago Today... Miracle #3; The Day He Stopped Breathing

There are very few days that stick out in my mind like today...

A day where, inevitably, at some point during the day, my heart will stop and my palms will start to sweat as my mind flashes back to a few short minutes that changed this day forever.

The day our son stopped breathing.


Recently home from the NICU... barely 5 pounds... freshly bathed...

And I didn't put him back on his heart monitor.

The day we almost lost him.

Our son... Our baby... Our fighter.

Today is a day I will never forget... would never wish to relive...

and will be forever grateful for.

The lessons learned... the memory that ends happily... the reminder to just keep breathing...

and thankfulness that he has just kept breathing.


I've been hanging Miracle #3 over your heads for weeks, I know... out of all 3 miracles, #3 has been the hardest for me to write. Maybe because it's so fresh. Maybe because it was traumatic.


Maybe because it happened on my clock.


Maybe because I thought I had moved on and really, I'm still hanging on.

One of the things that kept Hunter in the hospital for a full 10 weeks was his apnea. Most preemies struggle to remember to breath in their first few weeks and months of life. In the hospital, an alarm will sound when a baby stops breathing... nurses run, shaken baby syndrome is forgotten ;-), oxygen is administered, and baby remembers to breath again. If baby doesn't start breathing, it's ok... you're in the hospital!


Taking home a baby who forgets to breath is challenging. Hunter came home on caffeine... yep. It is what I said it is.... small doses of caffeine administered to him by mouth daily. The caffeine keeps his brain alert enough around the clock, to remind his body to breath. We also brought him home on an apnea monitor. A foam strap wraps around Hunter's chest and holds electrodes snug against his skin. The monitor sounds alarms for various changes in his breathing and heart rate patterns. Much like the one in the hospital, our portable apnea monitor will sound a very loud alarm if Hunter stops breathing for 20 seconds or more.



If and when the alarm sounds, we run to him... and by 'run' I mean RUN.... or pull over.... or stop in the middle of the road.... or drop the phone..... you get the point. When an alarm sounds, first we look at him... we check out his color; is he pink, purple or blue? We look at his chest; is it rising and falling? If he's blue or purple or not breathing, we stimulate him... shake him gently, tap the bottom of his foot, reposition him. If moving and stimulating him doesn't wake him up and doesn't stop the alarm so we know he has started breathing again, we call 911 and begin CPR.


It's as scary as it sounds.


In order for Joey and I to be allowed to take Hunter home from the hospital we both had to take a CPR class... and we took it twice. We had both been certified in the past but when you take the class knowing full well that what you're learning could one day help you save your child's life....well, you pay a little more attention.


Leaving the hospital, we were told that 'most' babies outgrow their apnea quickly and their monitor is only necessary for a few weeks at home.


Hunter is not 'most' babies.


Finding out if baby has outgrown his apnea is completely trial and error.... you stop their caffeine, which has a 3-5 day half-life. If there are no alarms after that 3-5 days it's safe to say that baby is old enough and mature enough to remember to breath on his/her own and the apnea monitor is no longer necessary. If alarms continue to sound after the caffeine's half-life, caffeine is started again and it's assumed that baby needs more time to grow.... and then you try again a few weeks later.

Keeping baby on his monitor is key to finding out if he has outgrown his apnea.... and I took it very seriously. Hunter was on his monitor 24/7 with the exception of when he took his bath. Awake, asleep, playing, in the car, being held... he was ALWAYS on his monitor.


We had hundreds of alarms in our first couple months home with Hunter. He slept in our room for a LONG time so he was within arms reach should his alarm sound. We used a special carseat called a Car Bed for quite a while so he was laying down in the car and not upright where his neck could fall on his chest and make breathing even more difficult for him than it already was.



He napped downstairs where I could see him at all times. Everyone who might even possibly be in a room alone with him at any time was given a mini lesson on the basics of CPR.... and the basics were posted on our fridge (and still are).




We were the ones you wanted to be around if you were going to stop breathing....




Miracle #3 has 4 drafts in my post list.... 4. As many times as I've written it out, I still can't get it right. And it's hard still, to get through it.



So... I think the best thing for me to do is to share with you the letter I wrote to Hunter in his private blog on June 29th, 2012...



The Day You Stopped Breathing



Hi Baby-Boy~

You stopped breathing today. Oh, you've done it before but today was different. Like, the turn purple, black rings around your eyes, start CPR and call 911 kind of stopped breathing.

I'll never forget today. Ever. And I pray that it will always remain the worst day of my life.

You were anxious today and more fussy than usual... I gave you a bath to calm you down. The problem with the bath is that you're amazingly calm and zen-like IN the bath but when the bath is over, all hell breaks loose.

Seriously.

I
 wrapped up your screaming, cold, angry self and plopped you in the swing so you could warm up and calm down. You hadn't had an apnea episode in 3 weeks so...

I didn't turn your monitor on.

I stripped the beds, started a load of laundry and thought to myself, "Finally... he's quite. I can get some stuff done."

And then I stopped. Something... someone told me to check on you. To hurry.


You were about 30 feet away from me in your swing... I turned around and looked at you...

Purple. Black rings around your eyes. Not moving.


Not breathing.










I started screaming. Loud screaming. Panicked screaming. Desperate screaming. Screaming your name.

I picked you up and I was rough... I wasn't gentle. I was desperate. I shook you... and was still screaming.



You didn't respond.


I remember thinking, "This is what a dead baby looks like."


I prayed. "God, PLEASE. PLEASE!"

He knew what I was asking.










Ms. Allison was there that day helping me with fussy you and active Big Sister. She had looked over from the kitchen and yelled, "he's purple!" She ran to us and I opened my mouth to tell her to call 911 ...



the smallest sound.



No moving... just sound.


I don't know how I heard it over my screaming.



I grabbed you and held you... tight.



It took about 10 seconds that felt like 10 hours for you to start crying... a strong cry. But you did it. I cried. I sobbed.


I handed you over to Ms. Allison..... you were safer with her.

I called your doctor. I told the receptionist to call your doctor... not the nurse, not his voicemail, THE DOCTOR. "Go get him yourself if you have to.... I need to talk to him RIGHT NOW." She paged him. He called me 2 minutes later.

We started your caffeine moments later and upped your dose I promised to keep you on your monitor.

I didn't have you on your monitor.

Me.



The thing is, Baby Boy.... 5 more seconds and I wouldn't have been able to wake you up.

But 5 seconds sooner than too-late God told me to check on you. He didn't push me or scream like  I did... He told me. Gently. And I listened.

Thank God I listened.

I know that I have to get past the blame game... Your Daddy, Ms. Allison, your doctor... everyone has told me I didn't do anything wrong but I did... I didn't put you on your monitor. That's just the truth. I knew better.



I'm working on that part.... but there's one thing I can't I can get past;











That... what happened to you... that's SIDS. Parents who finally have a chance to get things done, realize their baby has been quiet... too quiet... and it's too late.

5 second too late? A minute? An hour?

I know they ask those questions.


I read their blogs.


I've wondered so many times since bringing you home why EVERY baby can't come home with a monitor.


'Autopsy is inconclusive.'

'Reason for death unknown.'

"If I had only checked on him a few minutes earlier... would it have made a difference?"

"I never should have let him sleep that long."



I know those mamas and daddies ask themselves those questions...

I'm so thankful that I don't have to.

But my heart hurts for those mamas and daddies... because today could have ended so much differently than it did.



Baby-boy.... I've never met anyone quite like you. I've always believed that God is capable of performing miracles.... not just Bible miracles but today miracles. I know I've witnessed them... but never like this. Never like I have since God brought you to me. You're a miracle over and over again.... your life, your story, your growing testimony.... miracles.

You have wrecked me. In the most beautiful, scary, miraculous, terrifying way, you have wrecked me.

I refuse to worry about you, sweet boy because God has you so firmly held in His powerful grip that nothing can get to you.

He held you today and he'll continue holding you... just like He did today.

Just breathe, Baby-Boy... Please just breathe.

I love you more than life itself,

~Mama






Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mama Style; taking time for YOU!

This post is bound to spark some debate... And I'm ok with that! To each their own... An infertility/ adoption blogging mama trying her hand at a fashion post is sure to get interesting ;-) just be nice!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While I don't consider myself an extremely 'fashion-forward' girl, I do love a cute outfit and big jewelry with some edge... and so I'm super excited for my first Spring/Summer fashion post!

I have been honored over the past few months to get to know some amazingly beautiful and super fun Lifestyle bloggers through an online community in which they have graciously included me... I have loved every second of getting to know these ladies and I think their flare for all-things-style might be rubbing off on me a little ;-)

The incredibly talented Andi from My Beautiful Adventures came over recently and took some gorgeous photos of a few of the most amazing bloggers and myself as we put together some of our favorite Spring/Summer must-haves! 

The reason for my new-found interest in a Mama's fashion post;

... the stay at home Mama who blames her 'stay at home' status for her 'inability' to be cute....

It's not every mama... and every mama absolutely has a reason...

This mama gig is HARD... and it takes TIME!

But...  if that's you, blaming your kiddos for your sweatpants, pony-tail, and t-shirts every.single.day doesn't work anymore.

A few days a week? Sure. Most days? Ok. Every day? Nope.

Sorry... not sorry ;-)

It really all comes down to YOU... taking time for YOU and allowing your kiddos to see you do that once in a while! It's important... because YOU are important! 

Looking amazing is not most important... But YOU are, and for some of us, taking time for us is what makes us exude that confidence we want our kids to see!

Topping my list of absolute favorites for Spring/Summer are camo, geometric shapes, floral prints, and gold....

and the biggest thing of all...

WEARING WHAT YOU OWN!

Honestly;

I'm super cheap.

I'll splurge on food, wine, and underwear but that's about it...

Honestly;

It's completely possible to look cute and not allow it to take up your morning calendar and start your day off on the wrong foot...

Every woman needs to spend some time finding her easiest morning routine...

a routine that includes YOU... because that's who's missing from most busy family morning routines...

and that's not ok.

Here's my routine... It's not my every day routine and It won't work for everyone but someone asked so I'll share ;-)

* Shower at night~ Going to bed with wet hair isn't for everyone and isn't for every hair type, but for straight hair, I've found that sleeping on wet hair gives my hair SO much more volume the next morning! I wet my hair in the sink/bath first thing in the morning and tie it up with a towel while I do my make-up... and blow-drying 'wetted down hair' versus 'soaking wet shower hair' takes significantly less time!

* Make-up~ 5 minutes TOPS! On a normal day; Concealer, loose powder, blush, eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss.

That's it!

On a 'fancier' day I'll include foundation, eye liner, and more eye shadow than usual... 10 minutes TOPS!

* Hair~ When my make-up is done, my hair is fairly dry and you'll have amazing volume after it being in a towel on top of your head for 10-15 minutes! Some mousse and oil, blow dry, straighten... DONE! 15 minutes TOPS! Keeping my hair stuff in the half bath downstairs allows me to oversee the kids while they eat breakfast or get ready for school while I get ready.

And I'm done.

Now c'mon... a pony tail?! Every day?!

If your hair is tough or mornings are just too much, try a cute top-knot, braid, or headband... all super cute and can do wonders to just make you feel like YOU!

I wash my hair about 2-3 times a week, depending on what we have going on that week... on my 'off' days, dry shampoo is my LIFESAVER! A few sprays on day or 2-old hair, flip it over, blow dry and brush for a couple minutes and you're done!

* Fashion~ Spring and Summer are the easiest and most fun time of year to enjoy fun fashion! You can get away with a simple, cute sun dress and flip flops... capri pants, a simple top, and fun jewelry... or cute shorts, a colorful patterned shirt, and a few signature jewelry pieces! We all have every one of those items in our closets!

Andi took these photos this past Spring so while it may be too hot where you are for some of what I'm wearing, the main point is how simple yet classy and put together you can look with little effort, using what's in your closet, or by getting a few inexpensive basics for your wardrobe!

Every day fashion;

Camo pants: WalMart $13
Basic white slouchy 3/4 sleeve T: Target $8 (on sale)
Camo Flats: Target $6 (clearance section)


Jewelry:
I stick to just a few select places when it comes to jewelry... mainly because they offer HUGE coupons regularly and offer extra discounts on already-reduced jewelry! And remember to LAYER... colors and textures don't really matter anymore; layer layer layer!

Where to shop;

* Stein Mart is my favorite for jewelry... they ALWAYS have a coupon and ALWAYS offer extra discounts on their clearance jewelry! It's worth a trip in to peek once a month and I promise you'll come out with some amazing bling!

* Belk or other large department stores... Department stores often offer significant coupons monthly but also tend to offer HUGE extra discounts on their clearance jewelry, too! I have a big collection of designer jewelry and have paid as low as $0.01 for quite a bit of it due to these extra discounts!

Dressing up a casual outfit; 
No matter your age, never be afraid to browse through the junior section of ANY store! Dresses, shirts, and capris often fit MUCH better in a larger junior size than in women's sizes... I will never judge an 'older' woman looking through the junior aisles... just be sure your clothes FIT ;-)

Distressed Capri pants; Kohls $10 (on sale)
Patterned Top; Target $10 (on sale)
Navy Heels; Marshalls $20 (on sale)


That's it, Mamas! I would love to see more Mamas spend a little more time on themselves... make it a challenge; 2 days a week is a great start! I love that Hannah can see me with a healthy balance of 'casual' and 'confident'.... and that Joey can see me in that same balance!

NOW... for some REAL fashion expertise, head over to these ladies' blogs and see what they have to say... they're the pros and I LOVE following their trends!

Jaime from Sunflowers and Stilettos


Bri from Just Bri



Andi took all of the beautiful photos from my post and from Jaime and Bri's, too... be sure to follow My Beautiful Adventures... Andi is an amazing photographer, avid traveller, has an impecable sense of fashion, and has taught me so much about Chinese medicine... she's the whole package! 












Friday, June 20, 2014

URGENT; Baby Girl 'S' STILL Needs Her Family!

Hi friends~

If you've been around here long, you know what's about to happen... and you know what I'm going to ask of you... and I can't wait to see God work through all of you, once again on behalf of another of His most precious babies!

Please know that I am always extremely hesitant to share these precious faces with you until I have enough information to feel comfortable asking you for this kind of help... and asking many of you to pray about the future of your family.

The Cradle contacted me tonight and once again, asked for our help finding Baby Girl S's family; 
She has been listed for quite a while and quite a few families have fallen through for her... mostly because they were not completely understanding of her medical needs. Please understand that The Cradle takes their role as family-builder for these special little ones VERY seriously... the process may feel long, but it's completely necessary in order to find the very best for these precious babies. If you feel led to apply for Baby Girl S, PLEASE research her conditions! Click on the links below and educate yourself on her needs... keeping in mind that her greatest need is love and family.

Before we continue, I need to lay out a few 'ground-rules', so to speak;

* I am not representing this baby or this situation... I am simply doing what I can do direct anyone who's heart is pulled at this girl's story to the one's who are caring for her.

* The following is ALL of the information I have about this situation... any and all questions should be directed to specialneeds@cradle.org 

I'm so excited to share this sweet face with you and ask you to simply hit 'share' as many times as you can, share on your own blog, adoption groups, Pinterest, or Instagram, and mention to your friends and family to help us spread word of her story. She's complicated, yes but her waiting family is just as special as she is so let's share as much as we can to find them! If you're not in a place to adopt, you can help her immensely by sharing her story and by praying for her and her family.... and if you're her family, please know that you're being prayed for, too!

Baby Girl S's family is out there... they need their baby, and she desperately needs her family! Let's help them find each other :-) 

Are you ready?!




Baby S is a beautiful 3 month old Caucasian/Hispanic baby girl.

She has a diagnosis of open lip schizencephaly. Her bottle feeding

 skills were not strong enough for full feedings and she recently 

had a g-tube inserted. It's anticipated that Baby S will have 

impaired motor, cognitive and developmental functioning. Her

 future needs 

would include follow up with multiple medical specialists and earl

y intervention services to maximize her potential. Given Baby S's

 significant needs, she will do best with a family who is able to

 provide devoted one-on-one care throughout her lifetime. Baby 

Girl's First Family would like a semi-open relationship with 'S's 

Forever Family and prefer a couple. The applying couples MUST 

live in the Continental U.S. Please

 research open lip schizencephaly prior to application as it will 

ease any potential conversations with our special needs team.




The placement fee for Baby Girl S will be $3500 and the fees include interstate paperwork (if applicable). 

Basic Cradle FAQ's for applying individuals/couples;

* Must not have a current foster placement
* Must not have a current match or possible placement in place already
* Must not have a child within 9 months of the baby they are applying for
* It is preferred that one parent stays home for special needs placements
If you are interested in being considered for a Baby Girl 'S' and feel that you meet the above guidelines, please click the above links to familiarize yourself with her medical needs and if you're comfortable and confident, please complete our Pre-Application Form http://www.cradle.org/special-needs-pre-application in its entirety.

~ Lindsay

(If you're new to On Loan From Heaven, learn more about our family here!)




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Coming out of the forest...

Oh my, it's been a while.

So much has happened in the past couple months that it's hard to know where to start... 

but it'll be worth the wait while I work through it all ;-)

These last weeks and days have seemed to last forever.... I've found myself in a fog of holding my breath, waiting, and withdrawing.

And withdrawing while you're waiting and holding your breath just never makes things any easier.

I've learning something huge about myself recently...

about my faith...

or lack of faith.

My heart knows from experience that when things get tough, running into the arms of Jesus is the only way to keep yourself from drowning... from sinking into whatever trap of uncertainty, anxiety, depression, or flat-out hell that Satan is pulling you toward.

Jesus.

He saves... He's patient... He's all-knowing...

He PUT you RIGHT where you ARE!

Imagine...

You're headed into a deep, dark forest with hundreds of strangers.... never met them, don't know their story, and you don't really care to. ONE person organized the trip... the ONLY one who knows the safest, most secure, single-handedly successful way out of the forest...

he never promised to know the easiest or quickest way out...

just the safest.

He created the path... he's the only one who knows the way out.

Who do you follow? 

The strangers? The one's who rely on what they 'know' and what they 'sense' to get them home?!

No.

You follow the one who just knows.

Jesus.

You follow Him because HE created the path you're on... He's the only one who knows the safest, most secure, single-handedly successful way out of that forest that threatens to swallow you whole.

But then there's me...

I've learned that when I face a forest... a path of uncertainty and terror and unknowns...

I'd rather disappear... hide... than follow the one who knows the way.

I've lost so many precious things along the path that Jesus has perfectly designed for me... sometimes the risk of losing more preciousness just doesn't seem worth putting myself out there and trusting Him, as backwards as that sounds... and as many blessings as I KNOW wait for me on the other side.

Have you ever felt that way?!

In your desperate attempts to protect yourself and the preciousness you hold so close to you, you choose to try and do it all on your own...

forgetting the One who designed that path and how perfect it always ends up looking on the other side.

Following Jesus, as many unknowns and uncertainties that that entails... following Him always means rough waters ahead. It also means unknowns and uncertainties. It means believing and surrendering to the simple fact that you have no control over HOW you get out of that forest.... zero.

But disappearing... disappearing, withdrawing, isolating yourself makes the world feel somewhat safer. Sitting quietly in your cocoon, waiting out the unknowns and uncertainties somehow makes the other side seem closer...

but it's not.

The other side never gets closer, though at times it might feel safer, because there's no way out when you don't know where you're headed.

Following Jesus.

Unknowns, uncertainties, fear... they're there.

But the other side is, too.

Always.

I've learned that my cocoon, my 'safe place' is denial... avoidance... withdraw... 

and when the path turns to a scary place, it always seems easier at first to follow the crowd into more 'what ifs'...

than to face the inevitable unknowns that following Jesus requires for me to get to the other side.

At the end of this cryptic post that will make so much more sense soon...

I'm on the other side.

My forest is still close behind me... fear threatens to suck me back in at any moment, at the first sign of hardship that is sure to lie on the other side...

because even when we find ourselves on the other side...

hardship still awaits.

It's there so we never have a chance to rely on ourselves...

we must rely on Him...

even on the other side.

Even though I walk through the valley of deep darkness,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4



I'm excited to share more with you about my most recent forest adventure...

but first, a few fun things coming down the line;

* A special baby girl who needs our help finding her forever family
* My very first Mommy's Spring Fling Fashion post
* The outcome to our On Loan From Heaven CD giveaway!! (You can still enter here
* A Hunter update
* A fun announcement

Stick with me, friends... and no matter what forest you're stuck in, and no matter how much easier it seems to disappear and hide, follow the One who knows the way...

you'll never regret it...

and you'll soon find that the other side is closer than you think ;-)


~ Vince Antonucci






Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mother's Day is for First Mom's, too!

Mother's Day is just around the corner and if you're like me....

you've done nothing to prepare :-/

If your family has grown through adoption, I am begging you not to forget the First Mom's in your life.... not only does she deserve to be recognized on one of the most profoundly difficult days of the year for her... but your child NEEDS to see you acknowledge and love his/her First Mama, too!

I ran across this amazing offer today and feel that it gives us ZERO ROOM for excuses to skip or procrastinate on this Mother's Day!

1800FLOWERS is offering one dozen FREE roses and all you have to pay is tax and shipping, which for my 2 orders equalled only $14.99 each!!


Get these beautiful roses delivered to your mom/first mom/gramma's door on Friday and you're done...

do it, friends.

I mean it.

Now.

* Click HERE and it will take you to 1800flowers

* Add one dozen roses to your cart (without a vase)

* Choose FRIDAY shipping

* When you check out, create an account through v.me by VISA(You have to pay with a Visa) 

* Enter promo code FREEROSE 

* Pay $14.99 shipping for Friday 
delivery!


And let me know when you did it... I wanna know how many First Mama's are going to be blessed this Mother's Day!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Baby Girl V- SHE HAS A FAMILY!!!

I post these updates with shaking hands each and every time... and it never gets old.

It will never get old.

750,000 page views in 72 hours... over 5,000 Facebook 'shares'... and over 275 inquiries....

and....



Baby Girl V has found her forever family!

YOU helped Baby Girl V find her forever family!

And that... is simply amazing.

This family has not been announced yet but I promise you, when and if they are comfortable making themselves known, I promise I'll let you know! I know their hearts are full... I know their arms are full... and I know that they are full of thanks for everything you did to help them find their precious baby girl.

We will also get an update on Baby Boy K soon... very soon :-)

God is so good...

so so good!

And you, my friends.... you were God's hands and feet on behalf of some of his most precious creations. Thank you for allowing these babies to change your hearts... you have changed so many lives forever... and I'm assuming some of yours have been changed, too ;-)

"You shall receive blessings from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of your salvation!"
~ Psalm 24:5

If you're a family who inquired about Baby Girl V, please don't let this be the end of the adoption process for you... I know how this kind of news feels when there was even a glimmer of hope if your heart to be this sweet girl's mommy or daddy... and I know how hard it is to be so happy for her and so sad for you :-( I firmly believe that God doesn't change hearts only to put them right back where they started. Allow him to continue guiding you... continue learning... and know you're being prayed for as you continue to follow his plan for your family! Growing your family is worth the wait.... worth every single painful, exciting, long, and exhilarating second :-)


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If you or someone you know is in the process of adopting from China, has a log in dossier, and is open to special needs, please email me at OnLoanFromHeaven (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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If you or someone you know (agency or individual) is trying to make an adoption plan for a child with special needs and would like assistance, please email OnLoanFromHeaven (at) yahoo (dot) come to receive our pre-screening form! God has given us this platform and through it, we have found ourselves overwhelmed by the number of hearts for special needs adoption... we are happy to help in any way we can!

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If you haven't met the woman behind the title of our blog yet, be sure you do... her music belongs in your home and I would love nothing more than to bless her in the many ways you have blessed these babies! Plus... it's a great giveaway, too ;-)