LIFE CELEBRATIONS

It’s mid afternoon!  If you know anything about me at all, you know it’s time for a piece of chocolate and a cup of coffee.  I must get my afternoon energy kicked into gear!  I have been reflecting all week about birthdays and celebrations.  This couple weeks in particular, our family has had a lot to celebrate which is why I am more likely to share what is on my heart.

We began Friday the 10th with my husband’s sister and her family with a trip to Hot Springs.  We don’t get to visit often as we live a few hours from each other, but when we do, our time is always special and our bonds are strong.  We went to the Mid-America Science Museum, a family favorite.  This is fun for the entire family from our youngest members to the oldest, we all love it there!  My brother-in-law makes it a point to do everything he can to spoil my kids.  He started off by getting each kiddo a gift at the museum souvenir store then when we decided to go full family competition at some bowling, he thought it would be a good idea to give in to the ever-strong calling of the vending machines.  My youngest kid’s eyes always light up when we pass by those things.  They are obsessed!   I have no doubt we completely cleaned out one of those toy capsule vending machines.  We left the bowling alley with one injury as the big kids (I’m including the men in that category) decided to compete with one of those power boxing machines.  Everyone had a blast but it got me thinking how funny life can be sometimes.  How you can have so many differences with someone and God will use the common things that you love like family and kids to unite you in a way that is indescribable.  That’s Danny and me.  We are as different as the big city girl who loves to shop vs. the deep woods of the country boy who you’ll find on a dirt track in the heat of summer….no thank you, give me some air conditioning please!  Air conditioning and the great outdoors….that’s a blog for another time!

Saturday we spent the day at my husband’s family reunion.  Uncle Joe and his wife Judy are always very diligent to get the family together for a feast and good times to be had.  I always enjoy going to these reunions.  Quite frankly I am very lucky to say that I truly enjoy my husband’s extended family.  His family is huge and I have a hard time, even after all these years keeping everyone straight with who goes to who.  But the genuine hugs and “I love you” and “come see us” are something that not only I love, but want my kids to experience how special these moments are.  Cousin Angela had everyone do their thumb print and name on a family tree.  What a great gift to give her parents.  And believe me, this is no small tree with a few thumb prints, it is filled!

That Sunday we enjoyed celebrating my husband’s birthday.  I have been blessed with an amazing husband who is my partner in life and ministry.  He is very giving of his time and energy to our family.  There is no doubt in my mind that I could not do what I’ve been called to do if it weren’t for his full support.  We are in this together!  We celebrated with his sister and her family.  I was determined to make his favorite desserts, Kandi’s Banana Pudding and Bourbon Pecan Pie.  I also, for an added bonus made my nephew Chase’s favorite dessert, Apple Fritters.  We swam, we laughed, we enjoyed the precious time of family surrounded by my in-laws and our two sweet grandbabies.  AND……my brother-in-law gave me a break from the grill and cooked the burgers to perfection.

The very next day it was my turn to celebrate (I told Chris very early in our relationship that if he ever forgot my birthday I’m sure that was cause for divorce being mine is the day after his.)  Amy (who works with me) started my day with a beautiful outfit, from……Cracker Barrel!  I kid you not!  This dress is precious!  Who knew Cracker Barrel had gone full out boutiquish!  I came home during lunch (Amy and I wanted some banana pudding) to a sweet bouquet of flowers by my daughter Mallory’s boyfriend (yes, he’s quite the suck-up and I am completely ok with that!)  That evening my husband prepared breakfast for dinner (because that’s our favorite!) and an evening sitting on my patio working on a project.  In the midst, my sweet friend Janet came to see me with a gift and we sat and got to catch up a little on life which led to crying, Kleenex and praying.  I mean, really, what more could a girl ask for?!

Thursday, I got to see the strength of love when a birth mom and birth father came to a court hearing and surrendered their rights (this was a special and unique case) and allow their little girl to be placed in the arms of a precious family.  When court was over the adopted couple’s oldest son asked “What did they decide?” (he was a little confused with the proceedings) and Amy told him “they decided yes!”  He was so happy!  He later confided in me just how nervous he was because he loved his new sister so much and just couldn’t think of losing her.  The greatest joy of this day for me was hearing the birth mother and birth father verbalize that they couldn’t go through with an abortion but they knew they weren’t in a position to bring another child into the home and how genuinely excited they were for this family and the baby.  The love and joy they showed for the adopted family overwhelmed me.  Choosing life is such a gift!

Friday celebrated our oldest son through adoption birthday.  Aiden is the sweetest young man.  He turned 12.  Time seems to slip by so quickly.  I have a hard time seeing him as a tween!  A tradition in our home is on your birthday you get a pancake breakfast made by dad and whatever you want for dinner.  Sometimes that means we pack up and go out to eat and other times that means I am in the kitchen cooking their favorite feast.  Aiden had his menu planned weeks in advance.  I think food is always on this boys mind.  Nevertheless, it was a total success!

But Friday also brought a celebration of my nephew Chase’s life.  A year ago on June 17th, Chase was in a horrible accident.  He was pinned between two tractors.  I remember getting the call as we were getting ready to go out to dinner to celebrate Aiden’s birthday.  I remember traveling 2 1/2 hours to the hospital where Chase was and meeting Kim and Danny there.  I remember very vividly being told they didn’t think he was going to make it and they couldn’t even believe he made it to the hospital alive.  As the doctor spoke to us and gave options, it was truly hard to take everything in.  We cried out to God and asked for a miracle.  Not just that He would save and sustain Chase’s life, but that His name would be magnified and that Chase’s life would be a living testimony to God’s grace.  The Lord saw fit to answer our prayers!  I am so thankful for a year later to be reminded of God’s sustaining grace and His power to deliver when we see no way!

Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day.  I have a daddy that made it a point to make me his own.  He adopted me and sealed my name with his.  I am so grateful!  He showed my brother and me what loving outside of yourself was all about.  I have a husband that loves his family sacrificially and has walked this journey of adoption with me in our marriage.  I know he had to be so thankful to spend his weekend and his special day with all his kids and grandbabies.

And finally yesterday we again celebrate someone’s special day.  Brandon turned 11!  Another little life we have been blessed with through adoption that brings a world of joy into our home and family.

In the event you are like “WOW” “they are busy!”  you are right!  We have so much to be thankful for.  God is so good to us.  That’s 9 celebrations in 14 days!

Life is so precious!  The people that God places into our lives our like valuable gems of great worth.  All this celebrating of life, be it adoption, birthdays, Father’s Day and miracles given by God makes me think of the blessings of everyday life.  I have witnessed great joy and celebrations through many birthdays, anniversaries, births, adoptions and miracles of life that God has given yet at the same time, I have observed heartache from those that walk through losing a loved one when it just doesn’t make sense.  I’ve seen families devastated by divorce.  I have seen time slip through my hands and opportunities missed to share just how special someone is or how important they are to God.  It is easy to go through the motions of life and take for granted what is placed right before you.  Let us be quick to remember the blessings of today and celebrate what God has truly blessed us with today, for we never know what tomorrow will bring.

This is the day the Lord has made
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” ~ Psalms 118:24

CHOOSING LIFE SAVED MORE THAN THE BABY’S……..

A Birth Mother’s Story

I’ll never forget the day I met her.  I received an urgent call into my office.  She had been at one of the local pregnancy resource centers and they had called me with a desperate plea to meet with her.  On the surface, her story wasn’t much different than what we see with women in unplanned pregnancies and crisis situations.  She was pregnant, alone, confused, troubled, depressed, hungry, lonely, had a lot of anxiety, and contemplating what she was going to do about her pregnancy.  She was a hot mess!  And I just wanted to love on her!  I was very happy to learn that she and I had an immediate connection……our love for a good latte’!   In my mind, much of life’s bonding can take place over a good cup of coffee and the distress of life can be handled over a dose of knee time before a loving caring Father.  My job was to simply listen to her, hear her and pray for her.  Why was she was considering abortion?  Why was life as she knew it in such a mess?  Hear her cry for how lonely she was!  Listen intently as to why she saw no light at the end of her tunnel! And……PRAY!  Pray without ceasing as she unleashed her filthy laundry basket of life!

How often do we miss what is really right before our eyes because we don’t listen, we don’t hear, we don’t pray with intention?!  I know I am very guilty of it!  Sometimes we get into the habit of just checking off our list and moving on to the next thing.  Even in ministry we can be anxious to complete our task and feel a sense of accomplishment without realizing we missed God in a big way.  I am so thankful that the Lord had my spirit quietened on this day.  I’m so thankful that on this day, this lady had my undivided attention and as I was listening and hearing and praying, God was at work!  On this day I celebrated as I sat and cried with this broken, lost, scared, and frightened lady as she came to the conclusion to choose life for her child!  She chose adoption!  You could see the relief that overcame within her as she now had a plan and someone to walk along with her!

What I didn’t fully understand up until that moment was she had a plan…..a dark secret……an end to her despair!  She wanted to give up on life, not just the baby’s, hers also!  But now she saw hope!  Now she had peace!  A hope and peace that only comes from God!

All of life’s answers didn’t come complete over that one (or two) cups(s) of coffee that day, but it was the beginning of a painfully beautiful journey that this birth mother would begin to conquer.  It was a day that a wonderful friendship ignited.  There were many valleys along the way that she struggled with, yet there were many celebrations and milestones of life!  I will never forget the day she had her sweet baby girl and placed her into the arms of her forever family and we all celebrated two lives that were saved that day.

This sweet friend of mine continued in her journey of hard times and many celebrations.  She has been able to pour into other women with similar struggles.  The Lord gave her to me as a special friend!  A friendship I deeply cherish.  I can’t think of her or see her without thanking the Lord for His grace in her life and allowing me on that special day to be available to LISTEN, HEAR AND PRAY!Saving One Life