Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks After Thanksgiving

How was your Thanksgiving? I hope your Holiday was filled with family, friends, thankfulness, rest, and food! I know ours was! We spent lots of time with out of town family, had a family photo shoot (I can't WAIT to see our pictures... I'll share them soon!), cooked lots of food, ate lots of food, and stayed as far away from Black Friday shopping as we could! We actually have found the same, if not better deals in the last day than we would have had we gotten up at 3am.

Though our Thanksgiving was restful and fun, I found myself feeling much like I did throughout all of the Holidays before we brought Hannah home; do you know what I mean? If so, then I'm so sorry and I'm right there with you.

Holidays are so joyous and fun but they bring with them a feeling of emptiness and longing when you're waiting for a child. I also know firsthand that the feelings are the same when you've lost someone you love; the Holidays are so hard!

I remember the Thanksgiving and Christmas before we brought Hannah home. We were right in the middle of infertility treatments and our 'test' day always seemed to fall annoyingly close to those Holidays. This was tough because we were so hopeful that we would get our BFP (big fat positive) in time to share our exciting news with our families when we were all together. In reality, we always ended up needing to push aside our broken hearts and spirits in order to appear happy and excited about the Holidays... all I really wanted to do after getting BFN after BFN was crawl into bed until next month when we would do it all over again. Are you famliar with the cycle I'm talking about? I'm sorry, friend.

The shower is my place of refuge and it's where Jesus and I have our best talks. I remember crying every night when I took my shower. It's cheesy but I always felt relief when I got out, knowing that my tears and grief had been washed away. The pain took longer to go away but eventually it became so dull that I was ready to move forward and look to the next round of whatever phase of infertility treatments we were going through. The pessimist in me knew that I would be seeking the refuge of my shower the next month, too but sometimes it's nice to have some hope to hold on to.

I don't think it matters if you're waiting for your first, second, or tenth child... the Holidays make it more difficult. Though ours are always full and rich (especially now with Hannah), I can't stop myself from envisioning the rest of our family and wanting so badly for them to be here with us. Patience is hard enough to come by and the Holiday's don't help. I've never been good at memorizing verses but for some reason, Psalm 37:7 has been echoing through my head this week...

"Be still in the Lord and wait patiently for Him..."

What does it mean to you to be still in the Lord? I think it's different for everyone. For me, this verse challenges me to stop the voices in my head (that's how Satan gets to me) and to take time out of every day to sit in the quiet and really listen for what God needs to tell me. I don't hear Him every day but when I do, His words do carry me through until He speaks again.

The rest of this verse is what has shaken me to my core this week. I will share more when the time is right, because I feel that our experiences are learning opportunities and they have the ability to make you stronger or shatter you; only you can decide what you will allow them to do to you. Right now, I am desperately fighting the part of me that wants to choose to shatter... and I have learned that that is OK; for a little while.

Have you ever been on a missions trip and experienced the power and the closeness to Jesus that comes after sacrificing and serving Him and Him only? It has always disappointed me how that 'high' gradually wears off when you return home. I don't want the same thing to happen this Thanksgiving and Holiday season. I have so much to be grateful for and it seems that the list gets longer and longer each year... for THAT, I am truly thankful!

Please pray for us this week... and I will be lifting you up, as well :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Lesson in Thankfulness; From my 2 year old to me

I got an email yesterday morning saying that our meetup group needed a few more items in order to complete donations of 10 Thanksgiving meals for families this year. I happened to have a lot of the items in my pantry so I loaded Hannah in the car and we went to drop it off.

On the way to the drop-off house, I explained to Hannah that we had some extra food and we were taking it to kids who needed food to eat for Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that Hannah just turned 2... however, she surprises us every day with how much she knows that we don't give her credit for.

After I explained where we were going, she was quiet for a few minutes. After about 2 minutes she took her pacifier out of her mouth and said, "Mommy? Kids hungry?"

I cried. It may seem like a small, insignificant question but you must know that I never said the word "hungry" to her. Her own compassionate, caring nature came up with that word on her own and she was so sad for those kids.

God speaks to me daily through my daughter. She never ceases to amaze me... and God never fails to teach me valuable lessons through her.

We may have our Christmas decorations up and our gifts wrapped but we have not forgotten the meaning behind Thanksgiving.... We have so much to be thankful for! This year, I am thankful (among so many things) for my precious daughter who reminds me daily, no matter the time of year, how blessed I am.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Have you heard of

Meetup has been the best way for us to meet people (besides church, of course)! When you sign up on, you create your profile and then, using your zipcode, search for groups to join. In our zip code, you can join book clubs, stay at home moms groups, singles groups, adoption groups, Bible studies... anything you can think of and if you can't find what you're looking for, it's easy to start a group.

Hannah and I have met so many wonderful people through our stay at home moms meetup group! We have met other adoptive families, people from our church that we hadn't met before, famlies that we now call close friends, and it keeps us busy every day of the week! Most groups have a small yearly fee (ours is only $10) that helps the organizers keep the site up and keep events on the calendar. Our group dues fund socials, pizza parties, moms nights out, etc. It truly was our saving grace when we moved to a new city and knew absolutely no one!

Anyway, I just thought I would pass on this great site to you... I hope you find a fun group!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Yes, Christmas has come early in our house this year! You must understand, this is a first for us. We are usually the family who begins thinking about Christmas after Thanksgiving (or a few days before Christmas). This year has been different for so many reasons.

First of all, last weekend my mom, hannah, and I took a last minute girls weekend trip to some outlets that are a few hours away. We made such a huge dent in our Christmas shopping that it just jump-started something in me this week. We've been on a Christmas kick since then!

Second, Hannah is really starting to understand the concept of Christmas this year and it is so exciting! She started understanding 'birthdays' a few months ago so we've started with discussions about Jesus' birthday and she's impressed us from there with her understanding of all things Christmas.

Third, have you heard of The Elf on the Shelf? The EOAS craze started a couple years ago and my mom got us one before the stores ran out. The concept is simple and so much fun! Before Christmas, the kids read the Elf book and name him (Hannah named her Elf Kazaar last night.... she cracks us up!). Every morning the kids wake up and have to find the Elf who, while the kids were sleeping, reported to Santa on how they behaved that day. Since the Elf was travelling all night, he is in a different location every morning when the kids get up. So basically, it's a fun morning activity to get the day started, helps everyone get excited for Christmas and want to be on their best behavior, and is a family tradition everyone looks forward to year after year. We are trying it out with Hannah this year to see how she grasps the concept. We read the book last night and named our Elf but Kazaar didn't have a chance to report to Santa last night.... he slept with Hannah :-) She hasn't let him leave her side all morning... we'll keep working on it!

So!! The lights are up outside, the garland is strung on the stairs, the tree is decorated, and yes... the gifts are WRAPPED!!!

Disclaimer that may make me sound like a hypocrite (and that's ok with me on this one); I STILL think it's WAY too early for Christmas music!

Even though we are looking ahead and getting so excited for Christmas and for celebrating Jesus' birth, we can't forget about Thanksgiving and all that we have to be thankful for! We have SO MUCH to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pour Into Me

I belong to an amazing women's Bible study that meets weekly. I have never been a part of something that is designed strictly for women and I can't believe what I've been missing. The simple privilege of spending 2 hours a week with women in all walks of life, yet who are all going through the same motions of balancing being a woman, a wife, a mom, and a friend pours so much life into my heart that I never knew I needed.
Last week, our challenge as moms was to find and memorize one verse that we can pray over our child/ children on a daily basis. Every child is different so we would be exposed to many new verses as each woman at our table shared the one that the Lord placed on her heart. I'll be brutally honest; at  first I thought this was a crazy idea. I don't have time to just sit and pray nonetheless spend who knows how long picking out ONE verse from the Bible! But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I don't pray for my baby.... then who will? I should consider it an honor to pray for her! So, I ate my humble pie and set out to find a verse.

My 'life verse' has always been Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

I searched and searched for a verse that I could pray over Hannah and I finally decided to share my life verse with her. I pray for Hannah's future daily; that she would come to know the love of the Lord at an early age, that she would find peace and comfort in His Word on a daily basis, that she will always understand that the Lord has promised her so much and no matter how tough life circumstances get, He has her best interest at heart. These are things I struggle to remind myself of every day and I have started asking the Lord to deeply root trust in Him in Hannah's heart now so as she gets older, she will always know the peace that comes in trusting God's plan for her life.

You don't have to have a child in order to choose a verse to pray over them. All you need is a desire for children; God already knows who they are and He can begin a work in the plan for their lives as He continues to mold and shape their existence in yours. Choose one. Pray for your child/ children daily. Do not, for even a second, doubt the power that a Mom's prayer can have over her child's future... it's an honor and a privilege that God has entrusted us as temporary guardians of His precious children.

I was amazed this morning by the verses other moms deemed as their child's verse. If you don't have one for your child already, here are some of the one's that stood out to me!

1 Timothy 4:12
" Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."

Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Psalm 5:12
"For surely, Oh Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your shield."

So... Did you pick a verse?  I'd love to know!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken-Broccoli-Rice Casserole

My Mother-in-law came to visit this weeknd and we had a great time! She is a FABULOUS Southern cook so I asked her to give me some much-needed lessons. Her Chicken Casserole has been my favorite dish since my husband and I started dating and though it is simple to make, it is delicious to eat! (Though, everything tastes better when someone else makes it. Do you have that problem?)

Chicken-Broccoli-Rice Casserole

1- box of long grain wild rice
10 oz.- frozen broccoli
8 oz.- cheese whiz (I substitute grated cheese)
1- can Cream of Chicken soup
3 cups- shredded cooked chicken (I buy a Rotisserie chicken and shred it)
8 oz- water chesnuts


1- box of Pepperidge Farm Dressing
1- stick melted butter

* Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
* Cook wild rice according to package directions
* Add other ingredients, including cooked shredded chicken
* Place all ingredients in a 9x13 greased dish.
*Top with dressing tossed in melted butter
* Bake @350 degrees for 30 minutes


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The "A" Word...

Did you vote today? I hope so!

I felt so honored and proud as I walked out of my voting location. The beauty in living in our country is that we DO have the freedom to think, feel, and believe whatever we want... but sometimes that freedom comes at a high price. My passion has always belonged to youth; babies, toddlers, teens, and beyond (because we all know some adults who haven't grown up yet :-)).  My heart throughout the election this year has been focused on the women who have been entrusted with the decision to give or take life from the child that they carry. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion surrounding the dreaded 'a' word; abortion. (I don't understand why we can't be more comfortable with that word when it is such a huge issue in our nation.... so let's call it what it is.)

No matter your personal opinion, I feel strongly that I can speak for anyone and everyone who has experienced any aspect of the adoption process; being adopted, having adopted a child, knowing someone who is/ has adopted, or walking through the process with any of the above. Experience with adoption changes one's views of so many things. It changes someones view of a birth-parent; those precious, selfless people who choose to give their child a life beyond that which they may be able to give at the time. It changes someones view of what it means to be a parent, what it means to love and it causes someone to think beyond the moment and focus on the purpose that God has in a life,,, any life.

As I got in my car after voting this morning, I stopped to pray for everyone who would be voting throughout the day. I prayed for what they would vote for. I did not pray that they would vote the way I did but I did pray that they would consider the value of a life, even one. A pregnant woman has 3 choices; become a parent, end the pregnancy, or place the child for adoption. As an adoptive parent and one who is going through the process again, I know that every life that is taken through abortion takes away one more opportunity for someone like me to become a mom... and let me tell you, those opportunities can be hard to come by as it is.

I hope you'll watch this video. The purpose for Gianna's life is undeniable.. and I can't stand to think of how drastically different her parents lives would be if the supposed plan for her life had been accomplished.

And no matter what you believe, please vote today :-)

Gianna Jessen from LMF CAM on Vimeo.