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Reflections from an adoption momma…

Reflections from this adoption momma today. Adoption has changed me far more than I ever imagined…maybe just as much as the lives of my children. Adoption has changed the way I see both my biological and adopted children–and it has changed the way I value, connect, cherish, discipline and parent all of them. Adoption has divinely ruined me as I have watched the orphan spirit dissolve and be replaced with the spirit of sonship…not all at once but bit by bit…and not just for my children but for me as well. Adoption has taught me that I have more to risk by remaining comfortable than taking risks and opening my hands to whatever the Lord wills for our family. Adoption has erased my logical decision making about college and retirement plans and helped me to live out that family really matters most and the belief that God will meet all of our needs according to His riches and glory. Adoption is a painful, beautiful, refining, redeeming, healing process-not just for my children but for all of us that step foot (willing or unwilling) on this path none of us might have chosen in a perfect world. I’m learning through adoption how much we really all need each other and how for every scrape–He has much more than a bandaid…He has healing in His hands. I can’t imagine my world without adoption–and I’m so blessed to be a mom through it.

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Hope for the Hopeless {Keeping Your Eyes Up…}

In a world filled with so much heartbreak, sin and disappointment…THIS…

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

The news.

Today.

Everything around us–sometimes–appears…broken.

Isaiah 40: 31…”but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Really?

Because with the news just today–I feel faint.

A precious Godly couple in Cobb County–whose lives were taken because of…who knows the heart of the one who thought this was an option to sustain him.  Grandparents. Parents. Friends. So much taken for petty change. Their lives were worth so much more. Yet–their children grieve and even say words of forgiveness in just hours of the terrible news.

I see pictures of thousands of orphaned children–and I take a deep breath. Oh my soul. I believe Jeremiah 29:11 is for me–but can I really trust it is for them too? For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

So much feels broken.

I rock my babies–some brought to me through adoption…with layers of things for us to work through. Some days it feels like it might take a lifetime to heal. Maybe it will.

I hop on Facebook to see fellow adoption moms fighting with one another. Yet they were given the call to be healers of the brokenhearted.

I remember back to our own adoption–and a family member of mine with a different calling maybe stirring up hurt on one of my adoption threads saying we (and our friends) shouldn’t be adopting internationally as their were so many waiting children in America. Yet He had led and spoken to our hearts and our response was to follow…HIM.

I drive just 25 miles South and it feels like I’m in Africa again…the poverty just miles away. Fear as I stop at the red-light and I’m met with stares for being in the wrong part of town in a van. I just needed gas. But maybe I’m needed here.

EYES UP.

Do not look to the right or the left. Listen to the Lord. In this world you will face many trials…you will see overwhelming sin. BUT–wait upon the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The daughter…speaks forgiveness because Christ has overcome…even the greatest loss she will experience this side of heaven. The mom carrying burdens offers herself as a living sacrifice as she holds up her plate and just keeps her eyes on Jesus…loving with the strength He has given her and trusting HIM to be the healer. The moms and friends on social media–seeing hurtful words–choose to love anyway and keep their eyes on Jesus rather than becoming involved or choosing sides and becoming distracted…because looking to the right or left will do that. The mom closes her ears to the world and what the world thinks she should do–because she’s keeping her eyes up…and listening to Jesus and following Him. The girl at the red-light–she listens to that call…and even if she isn’t called to go right now in her life–she looks for who is and she sends and supports. HE IS WORKING AMONG THE SIN, THE PAIN, THE HEARTBREAK and THE BROKEN.

Galations 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

1 Peter:6-9 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

John 16:33” I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

And among all that–God’s light SHINES through.

Through Leighanne…I have found a friend on a blog across the country…who inspired her sister to adopt a little girl with Down’s Syndrome. You can’t help but giggle at Leighanne’s top Five. I follow her on Instagram and that little precious one inspires me. And she doesn’t even know it. God SHINES THROUGH.

I watch my precious friend Jennifer Armbruster–a fellow adoption and foster mom–fall in love with birth moms through foster care and love them as big as she does their children. She takes risks in the middle of the brokenness…she gives up much. God SHINES THROUGH.

I read my dear friend Lauren’s words who knows the pain of loss–yet she keeps taking risks and loving outside of herself. God SHINES THROUGH.

I met the Hensley’s through social media and Created for Care…and connected them to Wiphan…and now they sell their home and move their entire family to Zambia to work with Wiphan…with a house full of kids trailing behind them as they go. Sure malaria and other risks will be there waiting. But so will Jesus. God SHINES THROUGH.

I get an invitation from my old roommate to hear about a vision the Lord has given them after they moved to inner city Atlanta. Aside from working full-time for Navigators, they will start a school in the 5th most dangerous neighborhood in the country with the hopes that Peace Prep and the children who attend it will transform this neighborhood in the name of Jesus. God SHINES THROUGH.

 John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

So today. I find myself where I should be…

On my knees for a broken world–but with my EYES UP…

Waiting.

Trusting.

Ready.

Ready to take the next step…whatever it might be.

Despite the tribulation–hopeful…because He always overcomes.

Hand in hand with my brothers and sisters in Christ not giving up–but ready to run…and worship…to shake my tambourine because I know and believe He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. HE WILL ALWAYS SHINE THROUGH THE DARKNESS. Even for that…He has a perfect plan. 

So rise up.

Look up.

He is there…He is moving.

Fill us Lord Jesus with your sweet power and Spirit. Move in us. Use us for Your glory and Your kingdom come…as on earth as it is in heaven.

I love this poem “Anyway” by Mother Teresa. Because He will shine ANYWAY…being His light bearers–may we do the same.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

 

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The Desires of a Mother’s Heart

38–going on 39.

Spring cleaning last year just after we moved, he took bins of baby clothes to the Salvation Army. While some consider this a stamp of moving on to the next beautiful phase of motherhood, I did not. Instead I just thought after 10 years of motherhood, if we grow again baby clothes fashions have changed–we can use the clearing out for now–but the desires of this mother’s heart…and even my husband’s father’s heart…are to enjoy the next phase while keeping our hands completely open for more.

There are visions and experiences the Lord has given me…that haunt me–in such a holy way.

Five years ago, a few days after I held my son in Ethiopia I visited one of the first government orphanages he was in. There are two children in Bethzatha that I know the Lord spoke to me as I met them. One had been there 4 years and another 3 years. They were both handicapped and just lay there—day in and day out–being turned to keep bed sores at bay. I walked in the room and tried to sing Jesus Loves Me to them–but my voice cracked and I broke down in tears. The staff worker in the room came over and told me not to be sad and I just asked her, “Do they know they are loved? Do they know how much He loves them?”

She reassured me that they do–but do they??? I couldn’t stop asking myself that then…and now.

When you don’t know something–it can’t wreck your heart. But when you see her. And you know she’s real. When you have been given a mother’s heart. It isn’t within me to say, “I’m done. We’re good.”

But there’s more.

Because I’ve been given this beautiful thing called a mother’s heart. I have a different calling–to love His children. The children who already sleep in my home are His. But there’s more…and every little child–needs a mother’s heart to love them.

Healing is in His hands–and so often our hands are to be His. Help me Lord Jesus to open my hands to whatever you have for our family. Help us to trust you–not looking to the left or to the right…but simply UP…trusting the plans you have written for us.

Today we are studying about homeschool and weather. How you can be still–and observe what’s happening around you to understand and know what might happen next…so we are prepared. From the clouds, to the sky to even a caterpillar’s markings–all of these can foretell seasons and weather…so we are prepared. But you have to be still to know…to really know.

In Matthew 16 Jesus begins the chapter talking about how they tell the weather by looking at the sky–but some times we miss the clearest guidance of all. I love how He ends this chapter…

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”

Lord help us to simply follow you…at all costs. You are good. We know that. We can trust you. And if it be your will for us to die to some of the comforts of this world so others may know and experience your love in deeper ways–may thy will be done. Help us to be still–to look for you…as the meteorologist looks to the clouds and slows down to carefully predict what the weather is doing…may we also slow down and look to you…to see what you might be doing and how you might be leading. We trust you Lord for your hand in our lives. Let us not look to the left or right or worry how family or friends might judge us–but rather live completely for you alone.

I wait with anticipation to see how the desires of this mother’s heart will line up with the desires of His heart. Trusting He is transforming our desires to line up with His good, pleasing and perfect will!

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

 

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Give Us Eyes to See…

Lately…as I watch these loves…{and chase the loves…and scratch my head at all the laundry these loves bring…and everything else that comes with lots and lots of loves like these…}

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I can’t help but think—we aren’t done.

Growing…I mean.

I know most would scratch their heads at our even saying that…BUT. This. Children. Parenting. No matter how hard it can be…it’s our heart.

There are hard days. Homeschooling these little bugs–and most nights we crash. BUT. I know the numbers.

I know the numbers of precious ones in foster care. I know the numbers of ones waiting across the world. And at the same time…I hear those voices too…{no not real voices–don’t close me out just yet;}

You know the other practical…reasonable…ones.

How would you afford college?

I can barely take care of my three and myself…I don’t know why you’d want more than five.

You can only do so much, and your hands are full.

Laundry. Can you imagine doing just the laundry for more…

When would you rest? That’s just not for me.

Really. That dialogue can go on and on. But here’s the thing. God’s ways are not our ways. And the way the world thinks…might be absolutely opposite of how we think once we have been transformed by Him.

Romans 12:2 (ESV Translation) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

1 Corinthians 2:15-16 (Living Translation) “But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who can’t understand him at all. How could he? For certainly he has never been one to know the Lord’s thoughts, or to discuss them with him, or to move the hands of God by prayer. But, strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ.”

As I was typing those “world” responses up there–I had this clear thought come to my mind. Go back and say them as if you were saying them to someone who had God with him/her–God going before him/her…and if God is before her–you might as well say that to God if He is the one leading…

How would you afford this with God?

How would  you want to love more with God?

You can only do so much with God?

Aren’t your hands full God?

God–with so many who may never know family…their’s laundry God. Please–consider the laundry.

God when would you rest. When would she rest with you God?

Sounds pretty silly to ask these questions to someone who has God with them doesn’t it?

Do we really live and believe as if God is with those He is calling?

Do we really live and believe as if God is really WITH us?

If God is who He says He is…If God really is God…then why in the world would we spend our lives focusing more on the things of this world than providing for the most basic needs of so many without when He has given us plenty? For the sake of laundry…or what we think we can handle? Because it’s not about US handling anything–but more about what His power can do through us. He will always give us more than we we can handle when we trust Him so His power is made great and seen clearly in our weakness.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So with that…and with our longings…and with our prayers…I’m certain. We are not done. I don’t know what He has for us–or when or how. But it’s wonderful and freeing to be in a place where you don’t have to know…and you are just waiting on Him with your spouse and family with open arms. We have started praying together for whatever…for whenever and however…and I love being on this journey with them. Because His ways are far better than ours.

And just so I remember later–here are some of the sweet moments of our January…

God has been SO GOOD to let us continue to have a sweet relationship with Tetiana and her family! How hosting changed our lives! How precious are these pics…

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Not a day goes by that I’m not in AWE of all that God has done!

How IS she doing you ask?? You wouldn’t BELIEVE what a ROCK star this girl is! She is doing amazing in school! She loves attending CRU events and is part of a sweet small group. She is thriving with  her parents…and their dogs…she loves her dogs! God is SO GOOD!

And we rang in the new year with friends from our new church (we’ve been going to a small church this past year that is so sweet and so about community–hard to find in our bigger area)…and our sweet friends grabbed these pics of our fam as we rang in the new year…

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I had this GREAT idea to start a book club in the Fall..and this is our January meeting. Um. We don’t read books. Because we keep it real. None of us really have time to read books. And we just want to do life together. So…we are a group of foster and adoption moms…who make up a really cook UnBook Club. This is truly my most favorite club I’ve ever been in. We do nothing but laugh and listen to each other…and it’s fabulous.

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I’m far from a perfect mom and certainly NOT a helicopter parent. In fact, Parker and Frank decided to take the limbs off the Christmas tree with goat hoof trimmers. UM. Not good. See Frank’s middle finger there? Stitches. Praise God the finger didn’t come completely off. SO THANKFUL.

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The little boys sported their first bow ties…I think I need to make a lot of these. How precious are these?

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They are pretty cute without the boy ties too:)

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My mommy moment of January happened one morning during my coffee when this one pulled at my scarf and asked me if I’d hold him like he was a baby. Oh love. When you meet your son at 2 1/2…why yes–I missed this…and you did too…so yes–I’ll hold you all morning just like this. He stayed here forever. And I wanted a picture to remember it.

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And homeschooling…getting back in our groove in January. Let it be known that we take field trips EVERY week…and I just hope they are learning on these trips–because I need them!! Last week we did a little of this…

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And finally..this past week the most AWESOME birth mom ever was in town. I haven’t shared to much about our Holly…but God brought Holly into our life 5 years ago when she was expecting. What happened…was beautiful. And we got the chance to tell our story this week–documented into a little short film that we will share at Created for Care this February and March. We adore this girl to the moon and back…

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Now she is one of my dearest friends in this world and I’m so thankful I get to walk it with her.

And LAST BUT NOT LEAST. I trade in my mini-van this week. NO MORE MINI-VAN! Instead…we have room…for…

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MORE!

My first 12 seater baby!! The kids have NEVER had a new car in their lifetime because we got our first van 10 years ago!! So…it was time!! We figure with this–we will be set for the next 10 years too;) At least we have room for our 5 kids to each have a friend!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Stay well. We are down with strep over here:(

xoxo!

Andrea

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Here lately…

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Here lately? We’ve just been piling on layers to keep WARM because no one here (except Richard) does the cold:) The Christmas has all been put away (that took a few weeks…and the wreaths on the fence–I confess–still haven’t come down!)

IMG_6087Donkey Ho-te is still trying to get the chicken wire off the goats house because he wants to bite them. Ole Donkey is a biter and really wants to bite just about anything within reach. (Working on that.)

The kids get up every morning and layer up to the feed the animals. And…the LOVE IT!! In between homeschool lessons we play outside and with the animals–and it’s truly been our best school year yet…much of it I think has to do with just moving out here and being forced to really slow down.

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We are getting rid of our old faithful mini-van this week of 10..yes TEN years…and we are getting a bran new…no not a Suburban or anything normal families drive…a…PASSENGER VAN!! With 5 kids that are social bugs–there are many days when each little one has a friend over. Getting everyone home is impossible…even if it’s just another family that also a big family–so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a 12 seater:) FUN!! In other news I’ll also be getting lots of exercise as I’m guessing I’ll be parking at the end of every store because I’ll take up two spaces:).

I’ve been busy planning with my 2 sidekicks Christy Elphick and Angie Carley our next Created for Care. It’s just 4 weeks away and planning events in between homeschooling and being a wife and mommy…it’s truly a miracle it all falls into place. Thankful it’s nothing of me, and it’s HIM working out the details!! For the most part I spend all my days with this being one of my view…

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And I’m so thankful for where we are and for this sweet slice of peace. Hopefully it will be much bigger than just a slice;). If you would have told me 10 years ago–Andrea…you are going to move to a farm and homeschool–it would have given me a good laugh!! I’m praying about starting a co-op next year so we can simply do this with more families right where we are…and do simple together.

I really need to blog more often just so I can go back and remember our crazy…or maybe not so crazy after all:)

Hope you all are staying warm and enjoying this winter season. I say hurry up spring!! We are ready to bring home about 20 more chickens but we aren’t going to bring home more animals until the winter passes!! I really sound like Little House on the Prairie now don’t I;)?!

Blessings!

Andrea

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