A Letter She’ll Never Read.

We’re not made for this, you and I. The nerves, the waiting, the walls closing in.
We sit and breathe deeply, wondering what our tomorrow holds. What the next months have for us.

You don’t notice me, but our lives have been knit close during this season.
Our stories on a collision course, driven together by a tiny sweet babe.
She was taken from your arms, but not given fully into mine.

So we wait. Together, you and I, but yet worlds apart.
I see you there, outside the court room with hands clenched tight.
She has your nose. I watched it crinkle as a smile erupted across her face this morning. She lay in her crib, babbling softly in the morning light.
I wish I could tell you how she slept soundly last night. That she’s growing, her cheeks filling in. Her frame rounding from sharp corners to soft lines. I’d tell you she carries such joy with her.
Everyone she meets is touched by her ways.
She’s resilient, a fighter. Her tiny shoulders carry strength and promise. She scoots around my kitchen with a determined strength that I pray characterizes her as she grows.
I see it in you too, in your strong fight.

Tonight I’ll hold her close.
I’ll pray hard over her and thank Him for how she blesses us. I’ll keep her in open hands.
Hold her loosely, but with a love that’s bold and complete.

I wonder, when I let her go…will it be your arms that hold her tight?
Another’s?
Will anyone?
I know this answer, as sure as the sun will rise again tomorrow.
I’ll find her there then, reaching toward it’s rays splashing over her crib.
The one that spoke that sun into existence…it’s His arms that will hold her tight.

 

Posted on in Foster Care, Motherhood, Orphan Care 3 Comments

An Update/Instagram Mash Up.

 

I’m back in the game! At least for now…I can’t say I have a good feeling I’ll be posting again regularly anytime soon. But it’s for good reason. I figure the best way to play catch up in this space of thoughts, feelings and memories is a pictorial catch up to document all the awesome.
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We’re now a family of 6. We were placed with a sweet, tiny little girl. When DSS called to see if we would receive another placement, we hadn’t anticipated growing our brood, but felt we were called to step up for this precious girl. She’s a month younger than our other baby boy, much smaller, but with a considerable amount of added spunk.

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Camped out by the front door, waiting for our new baby to be dropped off. This boy’s servant heartedness has blown me away. He’s never complained, is so attentive and gives so generously. I’m so thankful for the model of living foster care has allowed for our kids to experience as they grow. You can talk about concepts all day long, but there’s nothing like living them out as you go.

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It has been nothing but a blessing that we’ve somehow been able to take on surprise twins and really not feel like we’ve changed our lifestyle too radically. I’ve valued keeping “the norm” (which, really around this house is anything but normal…) for the older kids. For us this means homeschooling, lots of fun trips and going where the fun leads. If we’ve learned anything this year homeschooling wise is that it’s kinda awesome how it just fits our lifestyle. It feels harder to me to get Emme to school on time one day a week (and I often am not even the one to drive her) than it is to learn together as a family throughout the day.

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And we’re growing lots of little minds over here. In addition to one kindergartener learning to read and write, we have a budding preschooler set on learning her colors. We’ve got one 8 month old working on catching up a bit development wise (we’ve got 3 therapists a week coming in!) and one determined 7 month old who is almost crawling!

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One day I woke up and realized he was getting really crazy grown up. It’s ridiculous and totally bogus and I don’t like it. But it is really fun. He’s always seen himself as more my friend and one of the adults….now I’m starting to agree with him! Just a little. He loves all things rock and roll and has been making amazing progress with his guitar lessons. He’s thisclose to rocking his first solo.

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My little chickadee is really into friends these days. Thankfully she’s got some great ones. I love to see her laughing and playing and forming little friendships. She’s also loving having babies in the house. I’ll catch her singing to one, then turning and reading to another. Then she pulls out all of her baby dolls and has one big, blissed out baby fest. For convenience sake, she refers to our first foster placement as “baby” and our most recent placement as “more baby”. I’m down with that.

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“Baby” and “More Baby” at the beach for the first time! Sometimes it takes my breath away that we have the privilege of this time with the babies. Yes, it did take a stroller, a front pack, a cart and a basket to get through the grocery cart, but I have to say it…four kids is flat out fun. There’s something about a baby for each arm that just brings some joy to the soul. I love nothing more than the little moments, holding them and reading to the big kids. Or having them sit near us and doing school in the morning. Those are the times I think, “Lord. Thank you. Thank you for calling us to this. You’ve been sweet to us.”
I’m becoming passionate about foster care. Not the system. It’s broken and yuck. But I’m passionate about standing in the gap and being used where we are. I’m passionate about seeing my kids serve and love. Seeing our home become an embassy for Him. Praying over all the workers in and out of our home. Humbly softening my heart toward commenters at Target and sharing the need and why we are doing this.
This is our mission field.

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I heart running outside. Thankfully, my stroller is mighty and can kinda seat four. I can’t go super fast with the two sitting on the front, but really, I can’t go fast anyway. It’s enough to get out in the sunshine, break a sweat and eavesdrop on little conversations. Then sneak out later after the husband’s home to pound the pavement for real.

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This man. I came home from a little mama time to find him like this. A sleeping baby on his back, filling the new beds he’d built for our garden this year. We moved the chickens into the old beds, so we are hoping these new beds give us a bounty ‘o veggies.

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Middleton Plantation is just a little bit dreamy. This was Easter weekend. We went for their annual Egg Hunt and once again, left saying we’d never miss it! It was a perfect day with both sets of grandparents joining us.

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I turned 30. Gross. There really is something about 30 that makes it feel like such a huge deal. The 20s sound so cute and fun. There’s something about saying I’m 30 that makes me feel as though I should be super sophisticated and put together. But then, I remember that that’s no fun and I’m thankful for friends whonlove me just as I am! We celebrated all week in different ways and it certainly took the sting out of getting older. For the first time in my life I was actually surprised for my birthday too. A cooking class at Coastal Cupboard, one of my favorite things…with some of my favorite people. It doesn’t get much better!

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Everyone on the planet should read this book. Here’s why…aren’t you a little tired of reading a book that hits your heart, ignites your passion for something, but leaves you with no tangible ways to act? Am I right? Not so with this one. Each chapter finishes with action steps. Some are huge, like life changing huge. Others are small but bound to make an impact. I was sold when I read the cover. That’s my passion, y’all. Orphan care isn’t just adoption. While I love adoption and think it’s pretty much the most visible picture of Jesus there is, a lot of us aren’t called to adopt (Holla!). But we are all called to do something. Really. It’s in the Bible. (Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27 to name the first two I could reference) This book will equip us, the church. If you’re local and wanna join in on a little book club fun, let me know! It’s a book that begs to be discussed.

That’s all I’ve got.  I’m off to fold laundry. Have a good week friends! 

xo Hillary

Posted on in Family Time, Foster Care, Homeschooling, Motherhood, Orphan Care 2 Comments

Letting it Go or Letting it Grow?

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This whole motherhood business…does it feel like sanctification overdrive to anyone else?
It seems like whatever the Lord is teaching me in my “own” life comes out in my parenting.

Case in point? Self discipline. In my own life, it’s waking up early, treating my body right, watching my tongue.
In my parenting? Same song, different verse.

This phrase has been bumping around my brain recently, “It’s not just letting it go, it’s letting it grow.” You see, when I’m not disciplined in my parenting, I let little behavioral unpleasantries slip past me, due to laziness or distractedness. I’m learning that by doing this, I’m not just letting them go, I’m really letting them grow.
Like tending a garden, the tiny weeds that intrude good soil require care to carefully uproot them. If you let them go, they grow, soon developing woody stems and large roots that take considerably more effort to remove. They can also be disruptive and damaging as well. Particularly to the other desirable plants around them.

With my children, if I let little things go, they grow as well.
It starts with small things, demanding a certain cup when I’ve already filled another with a smoothie or finding much drama in not cleaning up when they’ve been asked. If I don’t step up to the plate and discuss my expectations to happily obey, but instead ignore or worse placate, the disobedience is allowed to grow. It becomes a scene in the grocery store parking lot. Or a hurtful word. Or a rough exchange with a sibling.

It’s the same plant, this sinful behavior. It was just a lot smaller and more manageable at breakfast when it whined over a sippy cup than at noon when it caused a ruckus blowout at the grocery store.
That sinful seed, if left to grow is not only difficult to uproot, but can take along the positive character traits we’ve worked on planting. Either strangling them as it’s grown or uprooting them alongside the bad.

I’m striving to be a mama that patiently and tenderly addresses itty bitty things at their root before they bloom into big stinking, festering (often public!) displays of behavioral unhealth.
I know this could be mistaken as harsh, coming down on every little thing. Truly, though, harshness comes when it’s been let go and left to grow. Gentleness comes from the watchful eye, taking the time to undo the small issues I see taking hold. Getting down on bended knee to examine what is growing in their little hearts.

Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

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

Do you see the self discipline theme? Geesh!
It’s everywhere…thanks Lord. I get it. Thank you for using my particular children and their individual needs for parenting to teach me and refine me where you desire.
I pray y’all have a good, sanctifying week as well!

 

 

Posted on in Family Time, Love Him, Motherhood 1 Comment

A Peek at our Week(s).

Motherhood and family life…the days are long but the weeks are short, right??
I’m linking up with Carissa today to share some randomness from our recent days to kick off the week.

1. This book. I so appreciated the suggestions from friends to read it. I love a book that I can just dive in to. The book is fictional, the main character a girl that’s spent her life in foster care. I loved the personal face that the book gave to attachment issues and also found the world of floral meanings just fascinating. I was back and forth between not wanting to put it down, yet not wanting it to end too soon!

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2. My baby is 5. Here’s a little wisdom I’ve got to share. When it’s your precious’s birthday, with only an hour to go before his much anticipated pirate party, don’t decide to give his beautiful wavy curls a quick trim. Especially if you’re off your A game. A few misguided snips and we ended up having to shave the whole mess off his head. I was traumatized, he thinks it looks awesome, and his sister keeps looking at him and proclaiming, “Brooks is a BOY!?”. I guess it was time. Here’s our party boy, new haircut and all, waiting for his treasure hunt to start.  20130203-145546.jpg

3. Wanna know what was so stinkin’ fun?! The Chosen conference. It’s kinda my once a year happy place. I love a church that goes all out to pluck women from their day to day and strongly remind them that they’re chosen, daughters of the king.
I loved sharing The Little Mist Shop with the ladies at the conference and sold so many more scripture bracelets than I ever imagined! I’m praying that all the women that chose a bracelet will be reminded of it’s scriptural meaning every time it catches their eye throughout the day. I love to think of women being encouraged and held accountable, while lookin’ pretty too! Keep an eye out for some coming changes to the shop. New designs and more, coming soon!

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4. RSV is sucktastic. Our sweet “Baby O” is sick and it’s just not right. Sure, the mask for his breathing treatments looks all cute with the animal design on it, but when his big beautiful eyes peek out from behind it, looking sick and sad, it’s just too much. 
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5. Have y’all figured out your Archetype? It’s really fun. I felt like a teenager again, filling out personality quizzes from my teeny bopper mags. Only this was far more legit, I’m quite sure. Below is my cutie 5 year old’s archetype. He loved it that he’s mostly athlete. That’s his thing these days. I loved it that he scored caregiver, I’ve seen that coming out in him recently. The king part? He’s acted like that since birth. 20130203-151135.jpg

6. So, Vine is crazy fun. It’s like Instagram, only for quick video clips. It’s a tiny bit weird and maybe the videos make me dizzy, but the kids love it. Y’all come find me. My boy posted a seriously cheesy, funny joke the other day that everyone needs in their life.

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7. So we love LOVE around here. To me, Valentine’s is a reminder of our call to love others as He’s loved us. We really enjoyed making Valentines for His Radio’s Hearts for Kids. Families are asked to make a Valentine for a child in the hospital to spread cheer and love. We found it was the perfect way to love others. Details can be found here if your sweet family would like to join in! But hurry, they’re due soon!

LOVE

8. Have a good week, gangsters. Let’s make it amazing.

xo Hillary

Posted on in Brooks, Family Time, Foster Care, Love Him, Love Others, Motherhood 1 Comment

She Does Justice

Hey there rad friends.

I’m guest posting over at She Does Justice today, which is total amazingness.
Since I’m not doing a super amazing job of posting regularly these days, I wanted to be sure to share that today!

So go on, check out Megan’s site. I may or may not be giving something away over there.

Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll never know if you don’t GO!

She Does Justice

I’ll see ya on the flip side.

xo Hillary

Posted on in Uncategorized 2 Comments

In Case You’re Wondering

So sometimes (read: always) when I walk around town with three young children, I get comments.
I really don’t fully understand this. Back when I was rolling only two deep, nobody thought anything. But three? Three makes people loose their minds in wonder and comments. Even when she’s not in her tutu!

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Just drink all that in for a minute.

I can leave the house and bet the farm that before we return, at least 4 well meaning strangers will comment on my hands and how they’re “full”. And I’ll get at least one, “Oh bless your heart”.
I’m cool with it, this isn’t meant to be one of those ranting and raving posts about public comments. But it more just intrigues me. What is it about three kids that draws attention? Is it like that for others?
Please talk to me. And I’d really like to hear from families that have more than three kids. Do y’all just give up on public appearances!? Can society even handle you? Or do you just keep your “full” hands at home, away from awkward interchanges with strangers?

We do get some other standard questions/comments as well. I figured I’d share them here, along with answers. Just for fun.

1. “How long will you have him?”
That’s the first question I’d ask, for sure. And it’s the one question I’d love to know the answer to. We have no idea. It’s up to the courts and this is a really interesting thing for me to work through, running on someone else’s schedule. They don’t even consult us, can you imagine??!! Rude.

2. “Why is he in foster care?”/ “Does he have parents?”/ “What happened to him?” / “Is it because of drugs?”
When we were placed with our little handsome, the second thing I wanted to know (after a ballpark of how long he’d be with us) was some background. We weren’t told anything.
And, as we’ve slowly pieced together information and gotten his back story, do you know what I’ve learned? It never really mattered in the first place. All I needed to know was that our little babe is precious and needed a home and love. We’ve been blessed with the ability to learn more of his story, but here’s the thing…it’s just that. His story. It’s not ours to share. (We’re not allowed to anyway).

3. “Is he up for adoption?”/ “Are you looking for someone to adopt him?”
Nope. He has a biological and a current family that loves him. As for his future, it’s up to the courts to decide. They don’t give us any sway. Again…rude.

4. “How are your kids doing with this?”
Our older children are doing really well actually. That was one thing we were very cautious to monitor. We talk often about our job as a foster family to provide a safe, loving home and family to a child in crisis, for as long as the Lord sees fit. We discuss trusting in Him and His timing. I’m constantly amazed at how utterly natural this whole shebang seems to them. No matter how awkward I can be at times.
As for our youngest, our little baby for now, he’s knocking our socks off. Happy, calm, full of joy. So far showing no signs of the oddness that seems to ooze from our gene pool rubbing off on him.

5. “Do you hope to adopt him?”
I mean, sometimes I have a hard time not stuttering over this one. Especially when a minute earlier I was feeling up all the apples in the produce section, filling up our little baggie and my brain was nothing but a gentle hum. It feels like someone just said, “what color underwear are you wearing?”.
The answer….we don’t hope anything at this point. We pray and trust.
And as for what we’d like? The Lord’s plan. Nothing more, nothing less.
As for deepest darkest wishes? Depends on the day.

6. “Why did you decide to start foster care?”
I wish I had a neat little concise answer. I talked about it some here. But you know who says it so well, it felt like my own heart poured out? This girl. (She’s talking about why she’s adopting, but our whys are the same.) It’s our thang. Honestly, like she said, I just can’t stand the thought of kids in orphanages. (or group homes in our case. Or being tossed around from foster home to foster home). Our family felt that, while we can’t do much, we can provide a safe, loving home for a child that needs it. For as long as they need it. Our home is nothing but a blessing and we want to use it as such. Not a haven, tucked away for just us, but as an embassy for Him to use as He sees fit. We just opened the door. The rest is His story.

7. “Why do your older children seem to never wear clothes?”/ “Do you know your son just dropped his pants and is urinating in public?”/ “Have you noticed your 2 year old seems to be using that baby carrier as a means to shop lift?”
We’re working on it. There’s just nothing else to say.

xo Hillary

 

 

Posted on in Family Time, Foster Care, Love Him, Love Others 10 Comments

Sole Hope

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As I was looking over photos from this past year, I realized I never took the opportunity to write about one of my favorite events.
On November 4th, Orphan Sunday, we came together with friends to host a Sole Hope shoe cutting party. And it was seriously amazing.
Our church is home to a missional community called Journey Together, whom we partnered with for this event. Their vision statement says it all:

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We felt that Sole Hope would provide our community a wonderful opportunity to serve.
Sole Hope aims to provide close toed shoes and sustainable employment to vulnerable areas in Africa.
I’m not usually one to shy away from words, but in this case I feel that watching Sole Hope’s videos will be the best way to share their reason and mission.
I will warn you that these videos may wreck your insides a bit. But that’s okay sometimes.

//Why Close Toed Shoes//

//How Sole Hope Helps//

After seeing those videos, we knew we had to get involved. Sole Hope makes it so easy for ordinary people like you and me to make a difference with their shoe cutting parties.
Friends and families gather together to trace, cut and assemble bundles of shoe making materials to be sent to shoe makers in Africa. It’s simple, easy and fun. Our group loved getting together to serve in a tangible way and loved seeing the difference we were making in one evening.

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We chose to have a special table for our littlest volunteers as shoe cutting requires precision. We wanted our youngest servant hearts to have something to do to contribute and feel as though they were part of the evening. At our children’s table we placed art supplies and encouraged our little ones to make cards to be given to children along with shoes.

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I know that we will be participating in a shoe cutting party again. It was such a sweet evening of service. Sole Hope’s vision of equipping ordinary individuals with a tangible opportunity to serve struck a chord in me. Our family loved learning and serving.

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We’ve talked about doing a girl’s night in the future and cutting shoes while we chat and snack. I’ve heard of people having shoe cutting parties for birthdays. I think a family service project night would be great too.
Whether you choose to rally your whole community or closest friends, you will be making a difference. And you won’t regret it.

xo Hillary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on in Family Time, Love Him, Orphan Care 1 Comment

Icing Worth Getting Older For.

My first baby is turning 5 soon and this has me all sorts of emotional. He’s into age and numbers. As in who’s older and what this new year will bring him in the tricks and skills department. He’s also been asking recently what I was like at his age. Was I as fast as him? Could I read already? What kind of parties did I have?

I’ve dusted the cobwebs from my memory as best as I could to answer his questions, but there was one thing I could tell him without any mental effort. I can taste every birthday memory. Every candle blown out, every Happy Birthday serenade, they all taste like chocolate peanut butter deliciousness.

Our family has a little secret for the best birthday cake around….it’s all in the icing.
Any chocolate cake will do….boxed, from scratch, cup or sheet. Whip that up then get to work on the main attraction. Peanut butter icing.

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The intimidating thing here is that there’s no set amounts of anything. It’s all skill in the taste department.
Start with roughly:
1 Cup peanut butter
3 Cups powdered sugar
A splash of milk
A few drops of vanilla

Whip that concoction up and continue adding peanut butter, sugar and milk until you’re satisfied with the consistency and flavor. You know the drill… too liquidy? More sugar. Too hard? More milk (a little goes a long way). Need more flavor? Peanut butter is always the answer.

Our family has been known to make way more than necessary and place a bowl of icing on the table with a communal spoon. It’s the only way to ensure you get a bit of icing on every last bite.

(I have this deep seated need to make everything as natural as possible. Here are my thoughts on this icing. I didn’t mess with the original for our last family birthday. It’s a treat. But. Organic powdered sugar is available. Natural peanut butter will work just fine. Milk? Organic low fat will be delish.)

As my babe rounds out his year as a 4 year old, I have a feeling I’ll be making this recipe again soon!

xo Hillary

 

 

Posted on in Brooks, Family Time, Recipes 2 Comments

Give 1 Save 1. Its GO Time.

I need to  introduce you to a family that’s pretty amazing. And it’s time we did a bit of rallying for them.

I’d like you to meet the Rylands Family. They have such a beautiful story and their hearts are just plain lovely.

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You can read more about them by clicking that photo above, but make sure you come back because I need to tell y’all how we can rally for the Rylands.

Tom and Angie have brought two boys home from China and are in the process of bringing home two more (Connor and Cooper). Angie (the brave mom of 5 BOYS) recently shared that her family is going to be featured on Give 1 Save 1 Asia’s fundraising site and I knew I had to share this opportunity to help.

The Give 1 Save 1 concept is so exciting and the kinda thing that makes me chug coffee and fist pump.
Each week a family, orphanage or other organization is featured on the site. Readers are asked to give $1. That’s all!
I mean, if you’re sitting there, bummed because you were ready to pony up and give more, by.all.means DO.
But really, $1 will make a difference. Especially if a lot of people give.

So here’s what we need to do. Go NOW to Give 1 Save 1 and donate a dollar.
(insert a Honey Boo Boo joke about dollas making you holla….If you want to). 

Once you’ve donated TELL OTHERS.
If you blog, pop one of their sweet buttons on your site.
If you instagram, snap a selfie in front of your computer and share the link to help.
Twitter friends, give a tweet or 10 to the cause.
Facebookers, it’s time for a status update with a Give 1 Save 1 link.
If you’re completely out of the social media ballgame, hop on your land line and make a few phone calls, I guess.

JUST.DO.SOMETHING. That means you, reader.

Feels good right?

Keep up with Angie and her sweet family and let’s make it rain.

xo Hillary

 

Posted on in Love Him, Love Others, Orphan Care Leave a comment

KHB Print Shop

I’ve got a little goodness to share with y’all today.
I want you to meet Kristin, from KHB Photography.

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She’s a mom, artist and she’s sold out for Jesus. She’s recently opened up a print shop on Etsy and her prints are just so lovely.

Kristin was sweet enough to send a few prints our way and they are just perfect for our family.

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I’ve told y’all before how we’re into kitchen dancing around here. It happens a lot already, but a reminder to cut loose is always good. Especially when it’s comes in the form of a sunny yellow print!

And my husband is bananas for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. This print from their lyrics made him smile big.

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It says, “Home is Wherever I’m with You”. Just excuse my photography, ok? Because Kristin couldn’t come all the way from Wisconsin to photograph her pics in my home, she left that to me.
She’s probably regretting that right about now, too. Moving on….

If you’re looking for a little sweetness to spice up your home, I highly recommend you check out her shop.
She has such a great variety of prints and she’s simply wonderful.
To make things even better, Kristin is offering a discount! Whoop!
Use code NEWYEAR13 to receive 10% off your entire purchase. No limit.
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Have a good day gangsters.

xo Hillary

 

 

 

Posted on in Uncategorized 1 Comment
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