Double Digits Strike Again

Dear Jaden,

It’s hard to comprehend that your 10th birthday happened nearly two months ago. I can’t believe that you have hit the double digit club. You’re the second in this family to make it in the club. What’s this Mama to do? You guys are growing up way too quickly for my liking.

But, I have to admit that I love watching you grow. You have grown so much this year. You have not only gotten taller, but your relationship with the Lord has gotten stronger. I see you trusting Him to get you through tough situations. We have been through quite a few this year. You, my dear, have handled them with such grace and strength. That makes me so proud.

You’ve stepped up and stepped in so many times when your younger siblings have needed you to be their second Mama. Thank you for always being willing to show grace and love. It means more to us than you will ever know. It comes so natural to you. I love your sweet spirit.

Because of the things you have endured this year, when your birthday came around, I really wanted to make your birthday special. I planned a celebration that put you front and center. My goal was accomplished as you became the princess of your skating party. You and your friends skated the afternoon away. Skating, pizza, and a princess cake made the afternoon perfect.

It was so nice to relax and watch you laugh and play skating games with your friends. It was nice just taking a break and having fun even if it was just for a few hours. I love it when you can just be a kid with all the responsibilities lifted off your shoulders. Although I caught you still helping out a time or two, I could tell you were having a blast.

Thank you for celebrating your 10th birthday with all of us. You are so strong and beautiful inside and out. You know who brings you strength. Keep relying on the one above and everything will fall into place. Stay sweet baby girl. Stay sweet!! We all love you. Keep being you! Don’t ever change. Stay strong and be who God has made you to be.
Happy Birthday!!

Love Always,

Mommy ♡

Jaden’s birthday interview:

How old are you? 10

What is your favorite food? Alta’s potato soup

What do you hope you never have to eat again? broccoli, bananas, and tomatoes

What is your favorite thing to do? play with my kittens

What is your favorite animal? kittens

What makes you happy? playing with my friends

What is the best memory from when you were 9? finding a sand dollar

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 10? learn how to jump with horses

What would you like to be when you grow up? a pottery designer

What is your favorite song? Carol of the Bells

Where is your favorite place to eat? The Cruise Ship

What is your favorite book? American Girl Doll Books

Where would you like to go on vacation? Clearwater Beach

What would you like the world to know? About Jesus

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

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Happy Birthday Little One

Dear Little One,

It’s hard to believe you are already celebrating a year! These past 8 months have went by so quickly. Although we didn’t hold you your first four months, we have cherished every single minute that we have had with you.

Every moment with you is a gift from God. He is the only reason we have been fortunate enough to hold you these last 8 months. He is the only reason that we rest easy each day. We don’t know the plans He has for you, but we do know His plans are perfect. And, we trust Him. He’s faithful and able.

Your precious smile and belly laugh are greatly sought after. You are one of the sweetest babies around. You brighten up the room with those big blue eyes. Watching you grow has been delightful. And, boy have you grown! You aren’t so little anymore. You went from not being able to sit up to crawling and now walking in just a few short months. You are truly a miracle!

Turning one is a huge deal for you! We do not take all the milestones you have met lightly. Those milestones we clearly accept as a true blessing from the Lord. Although all of the details can’t be shared, we can’t hide our unconditional love for you. Our love for you will never fade. It will only grow stronger as each day is celebrated.

The Lord has helped you overcome so much your first year of life. We are so grateful. Joy has been present as we have watched you overcome many hurdles that were placed in front of you. You still have a few more hurdles to jump, but you are most definitely a fighter. You will persevere.

Stay strong sweet boy. No matter what this world throws at you, always remember that our Savior is greater than this world. He will continue to take care of you! We love you sweet baby! We love you!

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

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Happy 7th Birthday to a Sweet Boy! 

Dear James,

Are you really seven already? How did that happen so quickly? You are one of the sweetest, kindest seven year olds I know. Your kisses are the best. Your hugs are just as good. And, your smile brightens up a room.

You are our analytical thinker. That’s why at 7, every last detail of your adult life is already planned out. You haven’t left God out of the equation. So, I’m okay with you being a goal setter even if you are already talking about who God wants you to marry! I pray she doesn’t break your heart sweet boy.

You put tears in my eyes each Sunday night as I watch you kneel at the altar and pray. Your prayers are genuine, heartfelt prayers. So, keep them coming, buddy. Keep them coming! God answers prayers. We all could learn a lot from your humbleness.

As you know, on your big day, we bounced away at the bounce house in town. Seeing you smile as you jumped meant the world to your mama. I love it when you are happy.

After you became completely worn out, we headed to Pawpaw and Mawmaw’s for a birthday party. Having more than a couple brothers and sisters means the guest list has built in RSVPs. We decided a low key birthday party was what we all needed, and it was perfect.

After your gifts had been opened and the candles had been blown out, we ended your special day at the lake with Neannie and Pawpaw Ken. Thank you for allowing us to spend time with you on you’re 7th birthday. You are one of a kind! We praise the Lord for saving your life seven years ago because we would be lost without you. Keep on shining for Jesus.

Love Always,
Mommy

James’s birthday interview:

How old are you? 7

What is your favorite food? ice cream

What do you hope you never have to eat again? guacamole

What is your favorite thing to do? playing legos

What is your favorite animal? white tiger

What makes you happy? seeing all of the colors in the sunset

What is the best memory from when you were 6? Going to Dollywood with Sadie

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 7? get Christmas presents

What would you like to be when you grow up? a preacher and a zookeeper

What is your favorite song? This Little Light of Mine

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? Charlotte’s Web

Where would you like to go on vacation? Disney World

What would you like the world to know? If you go to Pluto, do not take off your helmet because your face will turn into ice.

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…

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Happy 2nd Birthday to our Sweet Boy

Dear Jayce,

Happy 2nd birthday little man! It is hard to believe two years have passed since you graduated from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. You have persevered these past two years despite the many complications that came along with your birth. You are pretty much perfect if you ask me! God is so good!


I fall in love with your sweet little grin more and more each day. It’s hard to describe the unconditional love your mama has for you. But, I’ll just say, I don’t know what I would do without you. You brighten up each and every day. God knew that you would make each day worth living.


We had a blast at the zoo on your big day. We all loved listening to you jabber as you approached each animal. The newness of life was all around you.


I know you enjoyed seeing all of the sights and wonders, but I could tell you loved the playground just as much. Seeing you so happy and having so much fun with your brothers and sisters made your birthday even more special.


I hope you have a great year being two! Don’t ever stop being Mama’s little boy. I know you are going to continue to grow a little more each year, but you won’t ever be too big to holler, “Mama!” I love hearing that simple word many times throughout each day. More importantly, I love you precious boy! I love you!!

Psalm 145:19 – He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.

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When Trials become a Blessing

I listened to the song “Blessings” time and time and time again after Jayce’s premature birth and my hysterectomy. For nearly a year, I cried so many tears that it would be impossible to count them all. But, God never lost count.

He turned my tears into faith. He created a trust that helped me understand that the trial I was facing was going to be His mercy in disguise.  I had faith that one of my greatest disappointments that was causing so much aching was the revealing of a new plan that God would put before me. That faith and His mercy were finally revealed when Jayce was nearly 4 months shy of being 2 years old.

God’s love showed up on January 27, 2016. It was on that snow covered Wednesday evening that the most precious, frail, congested, dehydrated, severely underweight 4 month old baby boy was delivered to our side door by the director of our foster care agency. The sweetest little boy who was wearing newborn clothes and who was most likely experiencing withdrawal symptoms was placed in my arms.

Just a few seconds after I first held his tiny little body, he quickly began screaming from hunger pains. As his formula was being prepared, nothing I did consoled him. It was that very minute that I realized A.J. wasn’t just small and sick, but he wasn’t a typically developing 4 month old baby. And those shrill, raspy, inconsolable cries did not end for the next four days. Despite the hard battles he faced, he was perfect. Despite the neglect he had endured, he was a fighter.

We all fell in love with him the moment we saw his precious little face. It didn’t take but a few moments to understand that we were ready to do anything God asked us to in order to help him begin to thrive. Nothing that he was going through was his fault. Nothing.

God knew what A.J. needed. I trusted Him to get us through whatever was thrown our way. And, He trusted our family to nurse A.J. back to health. He trusted us to clothe him, feed him, and most importantly love him. What an honor to be used by the great Physician.

During those first few weeks, we watched A.J. gain weight literally right before our eyes. We could just see the pounds being packed on. Really! It was amazing and all God. He gained almost 4 pounds during the first 2 weeks! And, we watched him grow longer and longer. The newborn and 0-3 month clothing were put away almost as quickly as they were gotten out of storage.

                    

We not only got to watch him get bigger, but we also got to watch him learn how to trust. It took several days and hours of working with him, but he finally realized that hugs and kisses are normal. He learned not to straighten his back and pull to the right side each time we picked him up. I absolutely melted the first time he rested his head on my chest and fell asleep without a fight. At that moment, he finally accepted my love. He finally understood what it meant for someone to meet his every need right away.

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What a humbling, challenging, yet rewarding experience those first few weeks were. As the days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into nearly two years, God reminded us over and over and over again that A.J. belongs to Him.

Through the process, we all had to take deep breaths and understand that God knows all things. Early on, we had to become content with whatever He decided. We had to let go and let God. We realized how blessed we were no matter the outcome.  

Deep down we all know how hard it would have been if we ever had to say goodbye, but we trusted the Lord to do what is best for our precious little guy. He’s the only one who knows what he needs! He’s the only one who knows where he belongs. 

  

  

  

  

We are glad that God is in control of such life changing decisions. We could have never made such an important decision for our little guy or our family.

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Our sweet boy has been loved more than words can express for the past 21 months, and today God changed A.J.’s last name! Today he was adopted!! 💟

Longsuffering always brings forth great blessings. God is good through it all. And, some of our greatest blessings do come through our most difficult trials. Don’t ever let your faith waiver. Trust the Lord with all your heart! He will show you great and mighty things! He will make the impossible possible by giving you the desires of your heart! 

After Jayce’s birth, it felt like my chances of adding more children to our family had ended. It felt impossible. My womb was gone and adoption felt so expensive for an already large family. I felt so unworthy. But, God said, “I’m not finished with you yet. It’s not about your worth. It’s about mine. My ways are not your ways. My ways are better!” And, in His timing, He sent us a sweet baby boy who needed a family to love him and care for him. Each time I look at our son, I am reminded of what a miracle worker God truly is. 

Ephesians 3:20King James Version (KJV)

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

(The above verse was shown to me by a friend when our family was anticipating whether or not an adoption request from a birthmom in our jail ministry was going to happen. I later realized that it was the same verse that was on the devotion that I read to the birthmom the first night I met her. That devotion was written for September 15th, which is our precious A.J.’s birthday. God knew what He was doing. He sent us the possibility of adopting a baby girl four months before he sent us A.J., so we would know that He was the one who brought us our son. His plans are best. Even when I had no idea that our son – the one God meant for us- had just been born when I was reading that devotion to the birthmom, God had all of the details worked out. God IS Able!)

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Saying Goodbye

It happened. A little piece of my heart left last night.  Last night, we had to say goodbye. We had to say goodbye to a little girl who stole our hearts not so long ago. A little girl who we love more than you can ever imagine. I pray she always felt our love. The journey wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t her fault! I can’t elaborate, but my heart broke for her after first meeting her.

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We had no choice but to let her go. Her needs are too great for our large family.  We just couldn’t give her all the attention she needs. She deserves lots of attention! She deserves to be held 24 hours per day. That’s how it became clear that she wouldn’t be with us forever.  But! That doesn’t lessen our love for her. It makes it stronger. It makes us swallow our pride for her best interest. It keeps us humble.

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She is God’s child. He will provide for her. He will take care of her. I’m standing strong on that promise. We know He loves her more than we could ever love her. We know He has a great plan for her.  A great purpose…

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It was still difficult to say goodbye. God asks us to do hard things sometimes. But, no matter what, we have to obey God. Even when we don’t understand or see the big picture, we still have to follow God. His ways are always perfect. His ways lead to great blessings. I know He has a life full of blessings planned for the little girl who called me mommy for nearly three months.

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It still feels like she is my little girl. It still feels like I am her mommy. She will always be one of my own. But, going into foster care, we understood that things are not always going to be permanent. Forever was never mentioned. As much as I would have loved to be her mommy forever, that clearly wasn’t God’s perfect plan for her life or ours. We had to let go of her hand.  We had to let go sooner than we thought. We had to let go so she can prosper.

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So we said goodbye for now. Even though we have said goodbye, God is still holding her hand. Please pray for our sweet girl.  A few of you knew her name. If you aren’t one of the few, just pray for our little “Bug.” That was added after her first name almost every time we called for her. She needs prayer. She needs healing. This Mama does, too. God never said serving Him would be easy. All He asks us to do is trust Him. Just trust Him! And learn to breathe along the way.

He is close to the broken hearted. I worry about her heart more than ours. Our kids miss her and have been praying for her, but they understand it was for her best. They have seen their mama shed lots of tears since she left. I’m not afraid to let them see me cry. It just makes us stronger. It makes us lean on each other and the Lord more. Being foster parents has widened our eyes to those hurting in the world. There are more hurting than not. If you feel led by the Lord to reach out and help those around you, don’t ask questions, just follow God’s lead. Let Him guide the way. Things might not always turn out the way you wish, but one day it will all make sense. Great things can happen even in a short amount of time. Our little girl learned how to pray and her favorite song is Jesus Loves Me.  She always asked to read her new Bible each night. I sent her Bible with her, and I pray she gets ahold of God’s love for her.

We followed God’s lead and said yes to a broken little girl, but for now, we have to say, “See you in the morning, sweet girl. See you in the morning.” We don’t know which morning that might be, but we will never forget those words. She would yell them from her bedroom every. single. night. And those are the words she said right before the car door shut. I do pray there will be a morning when we can see her again – if it’s in God’s plan. Hug your kids a little tighter today, and savor each and every moment…a lesson God continues to teach me time and time again…

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Happy Birthday to our Oldest! 

Dear Jacob,

I’m so far behind. And, I’m sorry. Our lives have changed quite a bit over the past 4 months, but I just wanted you to know that I didn’t forget about writing your birthday letter.  I just haven’t had time.

Thank you for being so patient and caring. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for sharing your time with kids who need to be taught how to love and what love actually is. You were sort of thrown into this all at once – we all were. But, you have made me proud. You have came around. You have learned how to love unconditionally, and it has been beautiful to watch you grow into a young man who displays the biblical meaning of love. I’ve watched you love without the thought of return.

Despite the fact that you completely understand that your siblings in foster care could leave at any given moment, you have put aside your feelings and emotions and learned how to love and care for total strangers as if they have always been your brother and sister. Thank you.

Now, on to your big day! As you know, we went back and forth as to what you wanted to do to celebrate. And, at the last minute, you decided to go to Just Jump! I didn’t experience all of the excitement because I stayed home and prepared for your party plus there was not one empty seat left in the van. However, I could tell that you guys were having a blast because thankfully your daddy kept sending videos and pictures.

I’m really happy you got to go! But, I’m even more thrilled that your daddy took you and 10 of your friends all by himself in order to make your day special. That’s just the kind of dad he is – always willing to do whatever is needed to get the task at hand completed. And, he always does it with a smile. I hope you’re taking notes buddy! You have been blessed with an awesome Daddy.

After returning home, you guys feasted on hamburgers with all the sides. The cookie cake you picked out was delicious. What a great choice. Did you know I have a weak spot for chocolate chips? Lastly you opened your presents!

All in all you had a great day. You actually got to have a celebration that focused just on you. For several years, you have shared a birthday party with several of your siblings. But not this year. I’m glad you were the center of attention for a change.

Being the oldest is not always easy. You have a lot of responsibilities around here. Please know that your willingness to help out doesn’t go unnoticed. We are all so grateful.

Our family wouldn’t be the same without you. Your servant’s heart will never fail you as long as you stay focused on the Lord. Through the good times and the hard times, I’ve watched you rely on the Lord. I know you will continue to do great things as you serve your Savior. I love you sweet boy! I love you!!

(Thank you for talking me into riding a roller coaster with you not long after your birthday! It was a lot of fun. I hope you didn’t mind me screaming in your ear and squeezing your hand to death. 😜)

Love Always,
Mommy

Jacob’s birthday interview:

How old are you? 12

What is your favorite food? crab legs

What do you hope you never have to eat again? ice cream

What is your favorite thing to do? play at Just Jump

What is your favorite animal? Husky

What makes you happy? when we go fun places as a family

What is the best memory from when you were 11? getting a four wheeler from Pawpaw David

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 12? finish my jeep with Pawpaw

What would you like to be when you grow up? a park ranger

What is your favorite song? I’ll Fly Away

Where is your favorite place to eat? Red Lobster

What is your favorite book? The Adventures of Arty Anderson

Where would you like to go on vacation? camping so I can go kayaking

What would you like the world to know? Just jump is awesome!
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 

 

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