I love this season

I love this season
"For everything there is a season..." Eccl. 3:1

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reflections from April

Confession...I was clueless about what ALL being a Mommy entailed prior to being a Mommy... and I have a feeling that much of this is on-the-job-training.  I am learning that with the sweet moments come the unexpected and the challenging...but being a Mommy is not for the faint at heart.  Being a Mommy is one of the greatest joys of my life...yet one of the most exhausting tasks I have ever been assigned...thankfully, the Lord gives me renewed strength...continually!!! 

The past three days I have awakened to sweet cooing coming from Chaney's crib. I have always heard you know a baby is well rested when they wake up cooing and not fussy. Caleb rested plenty of 12 hour nights but never woke up cooing...I am convinced my little girl has the gift of gab already!

This week Caleb's been popping out new words like, "diaper" (pronounced...die-purr by Caleb), "trees," "love you"...aw...let me just stop there! "Love you?!" Next to Caleb speaking the name of Jesus and saying, "Amen," I love hearing him recipricate in an understandabale (at least to me), "I love you."

It's been probably since birth that someone told me he favored me, but at dinner last night a sweet woman I had never met said, "You look just like your Mommy." (LOVE IT!)

Last week's demonstrative loving gesture occured when Caleb initiated eskimo kissing me (rubbing his nose gently across mine)!

TMI paragraph that some may want to skip over, but is a very real part of motherhood: 

Wednesday's ridiculously gross moment occurred right after little Chaney filled her diaper. Caleb gave me a hug, wrapping himself around my leg as we began walking to change Chaney. Caleb shows me his hand...like he was wanting me to get something from him...(he has been pretending at times to give me things...and I thought he was pretending)...upon closer examination...he was not pretending...he had a tiny bit of what was filling Sissy's dirty diaper on his fingers! I noticed it was all over me, and her....what a blowout...not to mention...it was a double whammy as they did the double number on me by going simulateously.  That's what happens when you have two under two in diapers, I guess.  They really are in sync with one another...ha ha.  While we are talking diaper duty...my favorite public restroom diaper changing station is located in the back of my yukon, with my tailgate up....South Georgia style. 

The mystery I am still trying to solve happened around Easter. Someone left a couple of anonymous Easter baskets on our mailbox...I assumed it was Nona and Poppy Griner from across the street...so I brought the baskets in & we chowed down on the candy and enjoyed playing with the toys...we even took pictures and texted them to Nona & Poppy G. I didn't hear back from her, but when I came home the following day, there were two Easter baskets from Nona and Poppy Griner. I called a couple of people I guessed it could've been...nope. So...if you are reading...THANKS! I loved the Easter candy just as much as Caleb and your kind act was so very thoughtful. It's a blessing when people love on my kids.

I didn't have moon pies on my grocery list until recently.  Caleb, who really doesn't enjoy eating, very much, at all, LOVED the moon pies from the anonymous Easter basket! He ate the entire moon pie all at once! My friend told me last night at Wednesday night supper that moon pies are what they throw at Mardi Gras in Mobile! Hmmm. My babies were born in Mobile. Maybe birth mommy loved some moon pies during pregnancy? I wonder if the person who left the Easter basket intended to put a Mobile Moon Pie in the basket?

One of the highlights of my daily outings is seeing other moms of toddlers on their outings. It reminds me that I am not in this brief fun, exhausting season alone. I have learned a wave between mom of toddlers is like an encouraging..."keep up the good work, mommy of toddlers, you will perservere." I have even had a stranger mommy of preschoolers stop me in Walmart and encourage me with, "it gets easier."  I still ponder that comment...teenage years are right around the corner.

I love seeing my children smile at me, at their daddy, at one another, and others. They light up my life.

During this brief season of my life, I recall often that He has been faithful to fill our home with the tiny pitter patter of growing baby boy feet and the precious cooing of my baby girl.  May I be found faithful with the precious lives He's entrusted to me to mother.

"Every good and perfect gift comes from above."  James 1:17

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Heart Like His

When I picked up the book, "A Heart Like His" by Kay Arthur, I really thought I desired a heart like His.  But I am discovering that wanting a heart like His is not enough...it requires dying to self...which is a daily battle for me.

As I have been asking the Lord to give me a heart like His I have been faced with opportunities everyday to demonstrate attitudes & actions that would reflect Him to the world.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 ESV)

Loving others comes from abiding in Him in His love. Apart from Him, I want everyone around me to be courteous to ME, "to the mother with 2 small children." But I sense Him calling me to be courteous to THEIR needs. 

Why? As a recipient of grace, as I stand in awe of what He has done for me, wouldn't it be an appropriate display of my affection for God's gift to me to love on others to the glory of God? Jesus is the one, "who redeems your life from the pit,who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy." (Psalm 103:4 ESV). My deepest desire should be to know Him and to let His love be known.

"Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." (1 Samuel 12:24 ESV)

Today at a store, a man with a cane asked if he could go before me in a long line since he only had one item and his hip was hurting.  Honestly, my thoughts were selfish--it was just before lunch, we'd been out all morning, and my kids were fussy and I only had 4 items :) As you can see, I was not displaying His heart through my attitude.  While I did honor his request, I did it with the wrong heart attitude and begrudgingly. 

My guess is Christ would have seen the need before the man even asked Him if he could go ahead of Him. I must open my eyes to needs of those God's placed around me...not only in my home, at church, at the gym, but at the store.  I talk so much about loving God and others but I must begin make every moment count for Him. Redeem the times He has given me:
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time," (Ephesians 5:15, 16 ESV)

I love the Message translation of these verses:
"Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants." (Ephesians 5:11, 17 MSG)

Praying that as I fall more in love with Jesus, and abide in Him, my self- serving attitude will turn into the heart and mind of Christ.

JD Greear, in his book Gospel, shares, "The Greek word meno literally means "to make your home in." When we make our home in His love--feeling it, saturating ourselves with it, reflecting on it, standing in awe of it--spiritual fruit begins to spring up naturally from us like roses on a rosebush."

I love how He explains that. We don't grit our teeth a try to be better people, we fail, on our own. We must love Jesus and in abiding in Him, we become courteous. We live fruitful days to the glory of God. This is my desire. I don't want to waste my life on meaningless things. I want to know God and make Him known; there is no greater joy-- this is what we were created to do. It is our destiny-to glorify God--in the smallest ways! (Like letting people ahead of us or doing something courteous even when it is in inconvenient).

I invite you to pray for me and with me on this. Think if every believer fell in love with Christ and began to reflect Christ everywhere they went, what could happen for the cause of Christ. Christianity is not just lip service, that is not attractive. It is loving Jesus as He commands us,
"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31 ES

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The gift of sisterhood

You may have heard it said that everyone needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy in their life.  Today I was able to meet with some of my Barnabas friends for a few hours; I always walk away refreshed.  I probably talked way too much…but we all need sisters to listen and furthermore, to intercede for us.

I am grateful for sisters in Christ that I can do life alongside.  We meet monthly for a few hours in one another’s homes.  We share our hearts and ask for prayer.  Afterwards, we actutally spend time praying together aloud as the Lord leads.

This time is very real.  For that I am grateful.  I need real.  Why? 

Kay Arthur says,    “A healthy relationship is one that’s open.  Things are not buried, covered up, ignored, or denied, because when they are, decay sets in—putrefaction.”  

Women benefit from sisterhood.  Personally, I glean much from those around the circle.  Many are either in a similar season or have walked through the season of life I find myself in. 

My sisters and I talk about being a daughter of Christ, daughters, wives, mothers, etc.  We celebrate what God is doing, we believe God together, we listen, we share in confidence our struggles, we encourage with scripture, we pray together, and when our time together is up…I leave confident knowing my sisters are praying for me until we meet again the following month.

Thankful for you, Staff Wives!  Thankful for a Pastor’s Wife who carves out time to rally the troups and to be a Paul to us Timothys.  She walks beside us in our process of maturity in the faith.  I know she prays for me and for the others.  She is truly an encouragement to my faith as are the women around the circle.  I don’t take the blessing of having these times with my sisters lightly. 

If you are looking for a Paul or a Barnabas, maybe even a Timothy check out the new Sherwood’s women’s ministry LINK on the www.sherwoodbaptist.net website.  

1 Thes. 2:8 that the LINK ministry uses, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God buy also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”

I love sharing my life with my sisters in Christ at Sherwood, in this community, and around the globe.  We are in this together, may we be found faithful with the lives the Lord's given us. 
Every life counts, and God has a plan for not only my life, but for yours.  It's an exciting adventure and takes a daily dependance on Him.  I can not do this life in my own strength and grateful He has provided me with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, His Word, a direct line to Him through prayer, and friends who follow Christ. 
He has not left us to do life alone.  He lives.  He is our living hope..."Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to aLIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."  1 Peter 1:3 

To encourage any sweet sisters in Christ reading....Phil. 1:6 reminded me today, “I am sure of this, He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” HE WILL CARRY out the good work HE BEGAN in me...and in you...until the END...AMEN! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My favorite Christmas present

God began speaking to our hearts last year, readying us for another little one, calling us to adoption a second time, as a way to increase our family.  Sure, we could “’try” for more biological children, but His call was unmistakable.  What started as a small tug at my heart continued increasing until we knew it was time to step out in faith in pursuit of adopting another child.
I had thought about Sarah many times last year, Caleb’s birth mom.  I was so overwhelmed by her gift to us on numerous occasions as I held Caleb.  God kept bringing her to mind last year off and on, and I’d think about her and pray for her as well.  It got the point that one day I asked Garrett if he thought maybe Sarah was pregnant again.  We knew she’d planned on having her tubes tied, so it was doubtful.  But yet, I just couldn’t help but wonder….and I began nesting like crazy.  I was rearranging things, taking things from Caleb’s room and packing them into plastic boxes, labeling them into the preemie, newborn, 0-3 months…you get the picture.  I stored these things up in the attic, right on the edge, for quick, easy access.  I also put all the baby gear like the infant car seat, pac n play bassinet portion into the guest room closet.  I hung two items of baby clothing into the closet, one little Ralph Lauren girl’s outfit and the navy suit that Caleb wore the day we had parent/child dedication at church.  I kept finding myself cleaning out everything, and getting ready.  I even commented to many of my friends that I was nesting like crazy…which meant somewhere out there…a birth mommy had to be getting ready to give us the one of the greatest gifts we could ever receive. 
All this nesting, preparing for adoption, and thinking about Sarah led me to write an email.  I discussed it with Garrett and I got the green light.  So…I wrote an email to Sarah’s Aunt, who’d been the one who’d helped Sarah locate an adoptive family for Caleb.  The letter dated Oct. 17, 2011 basically said that if Sarah ever found herself considering placing another child for adoption that we’d be extremely interested in praying about being adoptive parents to her child.  My hope was that Sarah’s Aunt would see Sarah and relay that message to her.  About a month later, I received a reply from Sarah’s Aunt.  The reply wasn’t anything related to pregnancy but sort of an update on Sarah’s family and on her own family. 
About a month later, we attended an orientation meeting as prospective adoptive parents held by the Department of Family and Children’s Services.  Mid December, we had the DFCS come into our home for a home study.  We were to attend classes in January and then upon completion, enter the adoption process.
Dec. 20 was the 3rd anniversary of our precious infant son Gabe’s home going.  It’s always a bittersweet day for me personally.  The following day, Caleb and I met Garrett for lunch.   We were eating at El Maya when his cell phone rang with a 251 area code.  He shared the area code with me and I knew it was either someone affiliated with Pastor Ed’s church in Mobile or maybe, just maybe it was related to adoption.  Garrett chose to answer, a God thing, he doesn’t take many calls while we are having family meals, and said, “Hi, David.”  I knew immediately who was on the other line.  It was our lawyer from Mobile.  He had no reason to call.  Garrett was listening intently and I was picking up clues left and right.  We’d both stopped eating, and before he hung up, I was ready to pull all the preemie and infant clothes out of the attic, and get on the road to meet our new baby boy!  Sarah indeed was pregnant and was interested in placing her baby boy with us as adoptive parents.  Incredible!
We began packing, running to the bank, going to get fingerprinted, and making tons of calls associated with the logistics of an adoption.  We were not home study “updated” at this time.  The home study update can take up to 60 days!  But, with God, all things are possible. 
I will leave all the minor details out, but about 5:30 CST, we got a call that Sarah had the baby and it was a girl!  Incredible!  None of my baby boy clothes would work!  But, praise the Lord, I have plenty of pink now…God totally covered all those bases.  It’s been my experience that where He guides, He provides…always.
We met our precious, Chaney Elisabeth Grubbs on Dec. 22, 2011, the day after she was born.  It was wonderful and so déjàvu-like to be in the same hospital talking to Sarah and having the privilege of being parents to her precious child again.  She had intended to have her tubes tied and was unable to do so.  Bottom line, God had intended for us to be parents again, and for Caleb to have a biological sister to grow up with in this world.  Incredible.
God’s fingerprints have been all over this adoption. These days have been unbelievable.  It is awesome to see immediate connections between Caleb and Chaney.  He kissed her the first chance he had and continues to greet his sister with kisses almost every time he can.  I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for these two precious children who are only 16 months apart in age.  I am honored to be chosen as their mommy.
How you can pray:  We don’t know when we will come home…but when the process is finished…we will get to eventually…lol…but there is no firm date.  It’ll probably be another couple of weeks that we’ll be here.  We are renting an apartment during this time.  Family and friends have been gracious to come to stay with me as Garrett is working and unable to be here.  Each of these ladies has been such a blessing.  So many friends in Dothan have loved on us in different ways and it’s meant so much.
While learning how to do 2 kids verses one presents new challenges, what has been the most stressful  is being tired and still dealing with all of the things that we had to do for our home study and for all the legal part of it.  Pray for continued renewing of our strength.  It was hard with the family separated and the kids being sick either in Albany or when Chaney was hospitalized.  That stress has since been relieved.  Also not being with Daddy is hard.  I have much respect for those who don’t have Daddy around.
We weren’t planning for another private adoption, we were planning on a state adoption, so praying that the Lord continues to supply us with what we need when we need it.  Pray that the ICPC process (the process that keeps us in Alabama with baby Chaney until all the legals are completed between Alabama and Georgia) goes quickly.  Last time we adopted Caleb, we were here in Alabama for 3 weeks total, but he was hospitalized for 10 days of those 21. 
It’s been 25 days since we’ve been here, our home study was just completed, so I am hopeful and prayerful that we will be able to be home 11 days from Wednesday (which is when the home study and some paperwork that the lawyer needs from us that we just received Friday from them will arrive).  We all miss Daddy being part of our lives. 
Chaney will be 4 weeks old this coming Wednesday, Caleb just turned 17 months old this week and will officially be a toddler next month.
 It’s been a great adventure for sure; a God sized adventure and I am trusting that He will continue to bring us home in His perfect timing and will keep me in perfect peace until that day.  In the meantime, we covet your prayers.
We can’t wait to introduce Chaney to our Sherwood family, family, friends, and to our community!  Thanks for praying; it’s been felt.
“But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will rejoice I Your deliverance.  I’ll sing to the Lord because He’s treated me generously.” 
“….and run with ENDURANCE the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…” Heb. 12
“Now without faith it’s impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” Heb. 11:6
“Proclaim with me the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:3