Friday, August 28, 2015

A Dream

This post is by Andrew...


A dream...
God gave Elaina and I a dream a long time ago. A house full of kids. Life. Noise. Family. A dream.
For years we tried to conceive. It was not to be. Doctors said it was "unexplained infertility." When they said those words all I could hear was Seinfeld saying "That wasn't the tube or the circle." There has to be a reason, an explanation, a cause, a purpose... You see, we have this dream.
We never had peace about pursing IUI, IVF, etc... We were moved to adopt. As we wavered, friends and strangers would appear and bring us back to adoption. It was inescapable. I felt like I'd end up in the belly of a fish if I turned away from it one more time. As we submitted to it, we had peace. It was our reason, our explanation, our cause, our purpose... You see, we have this dream.
I love the Fall. The colors. The cool mornings and crisp afternoons. The clothes. The college football. The last few rounds of golf. It was in the Fall that we took our first steps of obedience. It was in the Fall that we took our first glimpse of our children's photo. It was in the Fall that we found hope and a path forward. We gathered info, filled out forms, scheduled training... We planned and calculated. You see, we have this dream.
Fall became Winter and training was done. Winter bowed to Spring and home studies were conducted. Finally Summer arrived and we were approved. We were a licensed adoptive home in the State of Arkansas. We met our children's adoption specialist the same day. We questioned her and devoured every detail she gave about the children. Morsels of hope. Food for longing hearts. You see, we have this dream.
About a month later we met our children. Another month passed and they spent their first night in our home. A house full of kids. Life. Noise. Family. A dream.
Another month has now passed and we find ourselves in a place we never thought we be. Disrupted. It's the system's way of saying a failed placement. Our children simply are not ready to function in a non-institutional environment. Our love and effort were not enough. The last month has been challenging but full of good. A blessing. A gift. A dream.
The process of accepting that we could not safely proceed is the hardest thing Elaina and I have ever had to do. We love our children too much to continue on the trajectory we were on. We had to find a safe way to land. We love them and always will. We will be here for them for the rest of their lives. We simply cannot be their mother and father. Yesterday DHS checked the kids out of school and drove them away. Away from us. We've gone from nervousness and fear to brokenness. We hurt for our children. We long for them. We know they're full of fear. They're searching for answers just like we are. We mourn.
To quote the fictional Moonlight Graham, "It was like coming THIS CLOSE to your dreams... then watch them brush past you like strangers in a crowd."
So. Here we are. Looking for a reason. An explanation. A cause. A purpose. How can we function? How can we proceed? You see, we have this dream.
Our hope and our peace is from the Lord and in the Lord. We know He is our source and the source for our children. Our lives are His. Our plans are His. Our dream is His.
Today is His day, and He is good to us all.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Our First Family Road Trip

Before the children ever moved in we planned a road trip for the first weekend they were all home.

We were going to Oklahoma City to visit with Jill and Alex and to do some back to school shopping at the outlet mall during tax free weekend.

All week we wondered if we would be able to make the trip or if it would be too much.

Thursday morning rolled around and it seemed to be one thing after another.

Andrew looked at me and said, "We can't do this."

I completely agreed but oh how I didn't want to.

He had to be in OKC on Friday for work.

Even if we didn't join him, he was going.

It's not what this momma wanted.

We told a few of the kids we weren't going.

They were heartbroken.

And then Andrew and I decided, wise or not, we were doing this.



We had a family meeting and just broke it down for the kids.

Andrew told them he had to be there regardless and they could join him or not join him.  It was their decision.

He told them if they couldn't get along in the van he would turn it around and come home.

We were determined to have a great weekend together.

So Thursday afternoon, several hours after we had planned to leave, all ten of us loaded up in Big Blue for a 5.5 hour drive to OKC.

And we made it.

A mini vacation is exactly what we needed.

Our kids stayed off of social media and didn't talk to boyfriends/girlfriends all weekend.

We simply spent time together as a family.

Sure there was an occasional argument and the occasional frustration, but show me a family who doesn't experience that.

Our children got to meet Aunt Jill, Uncle Alex, Amelia, and Sydney.

It makes my heart swell with joy to see my kids playing with their cousins.



I've missed these two girls.




We could not have been more thankful for Jill & Alex's hospitality.  It's no small feat hosting ten loud people for a few days.  They took good care of us and loved on us well.



They even helped us do back to school shopping.



We got home late Sunday evening.  

We were exhausted.

I was thankful.

I was thankful for a weekend together, time with our family, and for the sweet memories we made.

I was thankful we decided to go for it even when everything in us told us to just stay home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Parenting

Yesterday was a first for our family.  Dad had to go to work and I was left home to take care of our children without his help.

The morning went smooth.

Around lunch time Satan wormed his way into our home and things took a turn for the worse. It was a rough afternoon. 

We all let ourselves get easily frustrated with one another.

After yesterday, I was scared to face today.  

Another day home without dad.  

I woke up feeling sick.  

I had an orthodontist appointment which meant Dad was home with us for the first part of the morning.  Who knew an orthodontist appointment could mean relaxing alone time?

When it came time for him to go to work I cried.  I felt myself getting angry with him for leaving us.  I wanted him to stay home and help me.

He held me and prayed over me and for our day.

Having children has brought both of us closer to God.  We cannot do this without Him.

I am thankful to have a godly husband/father leading our family.  He is strong when I'm falling apart.

And I try to be strong when he is falling apart.  We are a team and we are in this together...all ten of of us.

Today has been a good day.  We've had a few bumps but we have gotten past them together.  My children are speaking kindly to one another even when I know they are frustrated with each other.  I can't even begin to tell you how much good that does this momma's heart.

We are learning to show our love to one another in ways other than just saying I love you.  In ways that matter...how we speak to one another and how we act toward one another.

There are so many of you, some that we don't personally know , who are praying for us constantly.  We cannot say thank you enough.  We need you to carry us through the rough spots.  There are moments when we simply don't have the words to pray, but we know you are standing in the gap and carrying us through with your prayers.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Parenting is hard.  It's overwhelming and it's stressful.  It's exhausting and frustrating.

But it's also a dream come true.  It's a blessing and the best job I've ever had.  It's beautiful and it's right.

Children are a gift from the Lord.  
(Psalm 127:3)

 Our quiver is full.
(Psalm 127:5)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Four Days In

Friday was moving day.

All ten of us are home for good.

We've made it through the first few days.

We are learning to be a family.

We have moments where we are really good at being a family.

And we have moments where, quite frankly, we stink at being a family.

We are ten individuals learning to be together 24/7.

We are learning to speak with kindness.

Even when we don't feel like it.

We are learning to put others before ourselves.

We are being reminded constantly that we cannot do this without our Heavenly Father.

He called us to this journey and He will see us through.

But Satan is working double time to steal our joy and tear us apart.

We refuse to let him win.

We refuse to give up.

When he tells me I can't do this that I'm done, sometimes I start to believe him.

But then I remember that I can do this because I'm not doing this alone.

God is with me.

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Saturday was a particularly hard day for me.

It's wasn't really anything that happened that day.

I was simply feeling the weight of everything.

The girls and I attended a baby shower and then spent the afternoon swim suit shopping.

There was some drama there, but no more than should be expected when six girls are shopping for swim suits.

By the time we made it home I was exhausted and an emotional wreck.

I went straight to the bedroom and just let the flood gates open.

I couldn't pull myself together for dinner or even bedtime.

I cried for probably two hours straight.

And I'm talking full on ugly cry.

I'm married to an amazing man who is strong when I am not.

He took care of dinner and bedtime.

He is the best daddy.

Just like I knew he would be.

At one point, one of our sweet daughters came into my room with a vase a flowers and a note saying I was the best mom ever and they had a fun time shopping.

It broke me.

There I was feeling like a failure as a parent and this beautiful girl still loved me.

The kids like to play a game where we share about where we saw Jesus in our day.

I saw Jesus in my daughter in that moment.

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So see...we have our ups and we have our downs.

As do all families.

We just do it with more people than most.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Perfect Chaos

Friday evening for the first time all ten of us were together.

We loaded up into the van and headed home.

They were all so excited.

"How much longer?" was only asked a few hundred times.

When we finally pulled into our drive way they could not get out of the car fast enough.

We showed them all of the downstairs and then we began to show them their bedrooms for the first time.

The excitement remained at an all time high from the first door until the last.

They seem to all love their room and the special touches we added to make it their own.

After the grand tour it was time for our first meal together as a family.

Several of the kids wanted to help me prepare it.

Lots of hands in the kitchen.

It took twice as long to make dinner.

The mess was ten times bigger.

But it was sweet memories together.

Memories that I wouldn't trade for anything.

We watched a movie together after dinner and then tried to settle down for bed.

Sleep...there wasn't a lot of that.

We were all just a bit excited.

They went to bed late and woke up early.

It felt almost like having 8 newborns in the house.


Saturday was a big day.

Our sweet friends Jennifer and Jennifer hosted a beautiful shower for us.





It was a chance to meet family and friends.

What a blessing it was to see our children meet their grandparents,aunts, uncles, cousins, and new friends for the first time.

Sunday morning we got up and went to church as a family.  I think this might have been my favorite part of the weekend.  All ten of us sitting together taking the entire row worshiping our Creator.

A sweet friend made us all matching shirts.  As soon as we opened them on Saturday the children wanted all of us to wear them on Sunday.

And so we were THAT family Sunday morning in our matching shirts.






There may have been some eye rolling from dad, but he's a good sport.  He loves these kids with his whole heart.

 I love that about him.

I remember a time when he said he didn't care if we ever had kids.  I don't think he feels that way anymore. :)

Sunday night was one of the hardest things we've had to do.  We had to say goodbye to 7 of our 8 children one more time. (One moved in on Friday.  It was what is best for her)  Our hearts broke as we drove away.

We are all counting down the days until Friday when everyone can be home for good.

The weekend wasn't perfect.

I would be lying if I said there were no hard moments.

I would be lying if I say it wasn't a chaotic weekend.

It was very chaotic and very new.

Yet it felt normal and like it is the way life has always been.

God has brought our children home.

Now we will do our best with His help to raise them to love Him with all their hearts.




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Our Painting & Technology Date

Our three youngest daughters returned from camp this past Thursday.  They were gone for two weeks but it felt more like two months.  I didn't realize just how much I missed them until I saw them Thursday evening.  

We took the two youngest girls out for a date.  I have enjoyed each and every date with them, but I have to admit this was my favorite meal and activity.

We went to Pottery Worx, one of those places where you pick a piece of pottery to paint.  

Our Dancer chose a cat for herself and a dog for dad.  He took his dog painting seriously.



I painted a plate and our other sweet daughter painted an owl.

It was so much fun.  We are looking forward to picking them up soon and seeing our finished products.

We ate at a place called Stoby's afterwards.  Andrew claims it is famous for its cheese dip.  I had never heard of it or their cheese dip, but let me tell you it was GOOD!!

After our date we were able to spend time with seven of the eight kids.

We told them they were going to Skype with family and they could not have been more excited about it.

Most of Andrew's family were together for PB's birthday party so we skyped with them.  They got to "meet" our kids for the first time.  

It was special.

I stood behind the ipad and just cried for a minute.  

I have never been more thankful for technology.

A few of them Face Timed with my parents too.

Our kids are so excited about family - and they don't mean just Andrew and me.  They mean aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins.

We start overnight visits soon.

We talk to at least some of the kids every day.  They call us and they call often.

We love it.

They ask every time they call when they can come spend the night.

They are so ready.

We are too.

We are working like crazy to get bedrooms set up for them.

We just keep telling them soon.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Weekend Fun!

Oh what a weekend!

We had a fun filled weekend and none of it had anything to do with the holiday.

Andrew and I pretty much just ignored the fact that it was July 4th.

It wasn't intentional.  It just happened that way.

Thursday evening the most exciting thing of my blog life happened.

I met my best blog friend for the first time.

Not only did I meet her, but she and her husband stayed at our house for a couple of nights.


I found Miranda's blog several years ago through a link up Kelly  (Kelly's Korner) hosted.  We immediately hit off and became "fake" friends as my husband calls it.  Ha!  She and I just seemed to have so much in common and it wasn't long before we were texting and hanging out via technology.

She was visiting Arkansas over the long weekend and it worked out where she and her hubby could stay with us for a few days.

We had so much fun.

I dare say our husbands hit it off great!  48 hours of golf talk.  

Andrew and I are sad they don't live closer so we could hang out more often.

Friday we were telling her about the van we planned to buy.  One thing led to another and before we knew it this happened...


We are now the proud owners of a Nissan NV.  

Plenty of room for us and our eight kiddos!

As we drove it home that afternoon Andrew and I would just look at each other and laugh.

That thing is huge!

Our youngest son has nicknamed it Big Blue.

Seems fitting.

Saturday morning we had to say goodbye to Miranda & Shelby.  :(

Andrew and I then spent the day with two of our boys.

We picked up our oldest son that morning and went to the driving range.  I'm not expert but I think he did a great job and will be out there playing before long. 

We picked up two of the girls and our youngest son for lunch.  

I love watching them interact with one another.

After lunch we took the two girls and our oldest son back home so that we could have an afternoon date with our youngest son.

Bowling and ice cream were on the agenda.



Sunday afternoon we were able to spend some time with our middle son after church.  

We had lunch and then went to a park to play.  He and Andrew threw a football around while I sat and watched.



Sunday on the way home I told Andrew I felt like I was going to be in a constant state of exhaustion for the rest of my life.

I love dating our kids, but the constant driving is exhausting.

I cannot wait to have them home so we can be with all of them all the time.

I cannot wait for them to meet all their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I cannot wait until I can share their pictures with you.