Monday, September 21, 2015

Books for Wildwood/Harper's 2nd Birthday

I can't believe it's been well over a year since my last post. So much has happened, most notably, the birth of our rainbow baby boy, Jedidiah Paul on June 3rd, 2015. We are so so blessed to have this sweet baby in our family and are loving every minute. We are also still desiring to adopt a child, and are trusting in God's perfect timing to fulfill the desire He placed in our hearts.

In honor of Harper's 2nd birthday in heaven, we had an Usborne book party to benefit Wildwood elementary school in Baton Rouge. This is a school that our church has adopted, and while I am not able to help out there in the ways I would like, with having 2 little ones to care for, donating books was a way we could hopefully bless the teachers and students in a tangible way.

We received wish lists from 3 teachers at the school, and when I added up the dollar value of those books, it came to almost $1,000. It was a big number. I wasn't sure if we would be able to raise that much money. It's not something we had ever done in the past, but we prayed and were trusting God to answer this prayer. He did. And more. We had to go back to the teachers and ask them to pick out more books! Today, we delivered them to the school, as a family, with one missing, as she always is.
Delivering books! Mrs. Hoke was our contact person at the school, and it was so nice to meet her!

49 items (many of which were multi-book sets) worth $1,279!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who donated, bought books for their own family, and prayed that we could do this! We are truly overwhelmed  by your generosity and love for our sweet Harper!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sole Hope Shoe Party

I had been thinking about what to do to celebrate Harper's first birthday for months. I wanted to do something, but had no idea what. Have a birthday party? Do something just the 3 of us? Then, I saw a blog post on Facebook about a Sole Hope shoe party, and thought that would be a great way to honor Harper, but to also give back. So, I ordered a party kit, and invited some friends. Not everyone could come, of course, but we ended up being a group of 8, and cut 40 pairs of shoes! We really had a great time just sitting around the table with busy hands, and talking. We all got to know each other better, and love on some Ugandan children from afar. 

Shoe patterns, old jeans for the outer part of the shoe, quilting cotton for the inners, and plastic folders for the heel supports

Pinking shears are not my favorite thing to cut with!

Each pair of shoes gets pinned together, and 5 pairs get put in each bag.

Sole Hope asks for a $10 donation for each pair of shoes, in order to pay the shoe makers in Uganda a fair wage.

The finished products, ready to go in the mail.

We cut out Toddler size 8 shoes, they were sent to Sole Hope's North Carolina office, and will be sent to Uganda from there. The shoes will help protect children from in and around Jinja from jiggers, sand fleas that burrow into their feet, lay eggs, and can make the kids incapable of walking, because of the pain. Sole Hope does foot washing clinics to remove the jiggers, and then provides the kids with a pair of shoes to help prevent re-infection. They also educate the Ugandan people on how to keep the jiggers out of their homes and schools. 

You can read more about Sole Hope here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

365 days

(I started this post on June 22, but was just not ready or able to finish it, until today).

It's been one year since we received the worst news of our lives. And we survived. Our faith, our marriage, our lives have been tested in a way that we never could have imagined. My life now is not where I planned it would be 366 days ago, but I am trusting that God's plans are better than anything I could ever dream of. He's proved that before, with the amazing husband He blessed me with, and I know He will show me again.

As a bereaved parent who learned their child was gone before any signs of labor, and before her due date, it has been hard to know what day should be "the day" to remember. I know Harper went to heaven sometime on June 22. It occurred to me yesterday that that was her "heaven day". As painful as it is to be here without her, what a JOY to know that the first time she opened her eyes, it was in heaven. She never knew pain, or sickness, or heartache, hunger, cold, or loneliness. She is so, so blessed, and I am so happy to be her mama.
In my head, I refer to June 23 as the day of waiting. The day I was induced, the day we were at the hospital, waiting for my body to birth hers. I'm still not entirely sure how to think of June 24. Her death certificate, her grave marker, and my medical records all have this date as her date of death. I have a hard time seeing it like that. No, there was no earthly life left in her body, but I know her spirit lives on, and that I will see her again. The 24th is special because it was the day her daddy could see her, the day we could hold her in our arms, and kiss her, and touch her fingers and toes and face. August 10 was her due date, so that date is difficult as well. I think of how old she should be based on that date, of what she would be doing. One of my dear friends has a son who was born 2 days after her due date, and although it is sometimes painful for a passing second, it is mostly comforting to be around him, and to see what he is up to. He will always have a special place in my heart.

This year has been a struggle, but also a year of growth, and of surrender. I recently had an a-ha moment while reading the book, Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. It is a collection of some of her newsletters, and the first part is called, "Faith for the Unexplained". The last letter in this section is a letter that she wrote to friends who had lost their baby. Elliot writes that, " gives you a share in Christ's suffering. To me this is one of the deepest but most comforting of all the mysteries of suffering. Not only does He enter into our grief in the fullest of understanding, suffer with us and for us, but in the very depths of sorrow He allows us, in His mercy, to enter into His..." Her words have really been a turning point for my grief. It is no longer a "poor me" thing, but an I am blessed to be allowed to experience a tiny, tiny piece of the suffering of Christ. This had made such a big difference!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

Suffering often jars us out of our comatose lives...Suffering reminds us this life is short, and this earth is not our home...His glory will be revealed, and those who have suffered most will be the most overjoyed - Jennie Allen

Amen to that. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice, and for allowing me to experience suffering. May you always be glorified through it.

Balloon release at the cemetery, 6/22/14

Monday, April 14, 2014


I've been struggling with "finding my voice" in real life. To share my story, contribute to a conversation, to say much of anything. I will humbly admit that the enemy has had me firmly in his grip, whispering in my ear constantly. You're not good enough, no one cares what you have to say, you don't have anything meaningful to contribute, just be quiet. I've been able to speak from behind the computer screen, but not in real life. Until yesterday.

We have been going through a sermon series at church, titled Transformation. It has gone along with many of us going through Financial Peace University as well. As we progressed through this series, we were asked to share our own stories of transformation - how the sermon series and FPU were impacting us. Still, I kept quiet. Fortunately, my husband did not. He saw that we had something worth saying and shared it. Our pastor and friend asked if we would like to speak on it yesterday. At first, it was just going to be about FPU and foster care/adoption. Then it morphed into speaking about Harper as well. Hans asked us if we would be willing to tell what led us to where we are now. Instant panic. I told Steve I would just stand there, and he could do the talking.

But then I realized that I had to do it. I needed to tell this story and to face that fear of speaking. The level of anxiety that comes with speaking in public, is for me, higher than anything else I can think of. Heart palpitations, and the inability to calm myself, despite prayer, trying to focus on something else, nothing works. I did pray, a lot, that God would give me the strength to do this, and that He would be glorified through our story, and I believe that those prayers were answered. Thank you to everyone who was there yesterday and thanked us for sharing our story, and for everyone who wasn't there and saw the video on facebook and commented or thanked us in person for sharing.

As far as our foster care certification goes, we have completed our classes, turned in all of our paperwork, been fingerprinted, and had our home safety inspection. We will have one more interview in our home at the beginning of May, and hopefully certification will be official shortly after that. When we initially started down this path, we thought that we would only take children that were younger than Joey, for many reasons. God has told us differently. He had been "nudging" me for a while about being open to older kids, but I was nervous to bring it up with Steve. When I finally did, he said he had been feeling the same nudge. I will be honest, I am terrified of how to handle having a child that is older than the one I have now, especially a teenager. But the teenagers are probably the age group that needs a home the most. Very few people want to foster them, much less adopt them. They have too much baggage, are too difficult. I don't know what the Lord has for us as far as children. If they will come to us as babies or toddlers, or as school aged or middle school aged, or high school age. But I do know that I trust Him, and He will help us to love any child that comes into our home the best that we can.

Another aspect of foster care that we have been struggling with is how many are we willing to foster. We have a five bedroom home, so we have three bedrooms available. We put the crib up in one of them, so we could accept a baby, and the other two rooms have regular beds. We would not be able to take any more than three, due to the size of the bedrooms (each foster child must have 75sq ft of space, and if a room is to be shared, there must be an additional 55sq ft of space), and the cars we currently have. My initial thought was that we could take one or two, at the most, and keep one of the bedrooms available for guests (my parents come to visit a couple times a year, and my sister comes once a year, too). Is that the way God would want us to use the house He provided for us? To hold back one room for ourselves? I am struggling with that one. A lot. My flesh says it's ridiculous to not have a bed readily available for our out-of-town family. Most of the time, more like all of the time, my flesh is wrong. Of course, all of this is hypothetical, because at least one of the children would have to be old enough to ride in the front seat of our cars, and one would have to be young enough to still be in a crib. There is just so much to think about, and I am probably thinking too much, as usual.

One of the sermons during our Transformation series was about hospitality and home idolatry. My favorite line from the sermon was, "We've turned our homes into a sanctuary from the world instead of a sanctuary for the world". Wow. So much to think about and challenge myself on. You can read more about that sermon here. This was super long, so if you read until the end, you get a gold star!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Chapter

Before losing our sweet Harper, we thought our family would be complete with her arrival. Neither of us had any desire, at that time, to have any more children. When we lost her, we started talking about more children almost right away. There is no way that any other child would replace her, but we knew that our desire was for Joey to have siblings this side of heaven, and believe that was what God promised us as well.

We would talk about adoption on and off, but never really took any steps to find out more about it, until February. We attended a webinar with a local adoption agency, and found out the very basics about international and private domestic adoption. It was a lot to think about, and neither of us seemed to be very gung ho about the idea. The cost and the uncertainty of paying expenses for a birth mother that could change her mind at any time did not sit well with us for some reason. We may have a change of heart, or God may direct us down this path later, but right now, it's not where He is leading us.

A couple of weeks after the webinar, I called DSS, and inquired about adoption. There was an orientation coming up in the first week of March, so we decided to check it out. Our fabulous next door neighbors kept Joey for us, and off we went.

We went into it thinking we were only interested in adoption. When we walked out of the orientation, I was nervous to tell Steve what I thought. I said, "You tell me what you think". I was so relieved to hear that we both felt the same way. We both wanted to become foster parents, hopeful that it would lead to adoption. I don't think this is something that either of us had ever thought of, or thought that we could handle. The thought of having a child in your home for a year, or even two, and then having to say goodbye was so sad. I didn't think I would be able to go through that. But then we realized, we weren't giving God a whole lot of credit. He has carried us through the most difficult trial that we could ever imagine. And we are still standing. Loving another child and having to possibly say goodbye to that child will be difficult, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Philippians 4:13

We had our first MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) class yesterday, and received our huge packet of paperwork to complete and documents needed. I am a little overwhelmed with all of the things that have to be done in a short amount of time, but have already completed a significant portion of the paperwork. There is so much to think about and accomplish in a short amount of time, but we are trusting in God to continue to lead us and help us to know what choices to make. We are excited to possibly add to our family in this way, and even if we don't, we will be blessed to serve in a way that we never would have considered. Please keep us in prayer as we start this new chapter in our lives!

Monday, March 10, 2014


7 months old. If Harper had been born on her due date (which I know would have been highly unlikely), she would be 7 months old today. What would she be like? Would she be a good napper (unlike her brother)? Would she sleep through the night occasionally? Would I still be nursing her? (I only nursed Joey for a few months, my body did not cooperate). Would she be trying to do the one-legged army crawl like her brother yet? Would she have any hair? Would she be eating solids? Would she have any teeth?

I wish I could know the answer to even one of these questions. Instead, I am working on her memory box. A place to put her "things" - ultrasound pictures, hospital bracelets, and sympathy cards. I didn't save the positive pregnancy test. There are almost no pictures of me when I was pregnant with her. I didn't keep a journal of all the "firsts" of her life. And I so wish I had. If I had only known that those are all I would ever have...

I remain hopeful that we will someday be blessed with more children this side of heaven. However, my body is not cooperating. I've had quite a few troubling immune system issues, and my body is just not working right. I finally went to a new primary care doctor, and she ordered lots of blood work. 20 tubes of it, to be exact. I go back for results on March 20th. Although I don't want there to be something "wrong", it would be a relief to find an explanation for all the weirdness.

In trying to move forward (not on - I will not ever "get over" losing my child), I am learning how to sew. My next door neighbor, who has also become a dear friend, is an experienced sewer, and has graciously offered to sew with me and teach me. We are having our first sewing session for Harper's Legacy on Wednesday, and I'm so excited to be able to serve the baby loss community in my hometown from afar. Steve and I were so blessed by Threads of Love here in Baton Rouge, and I hope that the blankets, gowns, hats, and memory envelopes can bring some small comfort to families who are going through this awful trial.

God is also leading us down a path that we would never have imagined going down. More on that in another post, because it deserves its own.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Just a couple of pictures

that hurt my heart.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

(Also, if the person who put a little balloon at Harper's grave is reading this, thank you. So much. It was so sweet to know that someone had been there besides us.)