Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bearing Fruit In The Midst of Loss

How do we continue to bear fruit, while navigating the painful path of loss?

This is a tricky dynamic to say the least.

Because even in our hurt and our pain we are still called to spread good and speak life and share joy. Galatians 5:22-23 is for all people, not just those untouched by deep heartache.

We are allowed to grieve, but we are still called to plant and diligently tend to God's kingdom.

This question is one that Hope Mommies has been working through over the last few weeks on their blog series,"Bear Much Fruit."

Today I am sharing a few thoughts on this idea as it relates to gentleness, learning from Jesus and his tender response to the woman highlighted in John 8.

Click here to read my guest post. 

To read through previous posts in this series, click here.

Make it a great day!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Turning Pillows Of Stone Into Pillars Of Praise

I was reading a well known story from Genesis 28 recently, the story of Jacob and Esau and Rebekah and Isaac and y'all, a few things hit me between the eyes like never before.

I love when God does that. When He presents us with a story or scripture we've heard a hundred times and gives us fresh eyes and an open heart to receive new hope-filled promises.

So Jacob. . .

Jacob had angered his brother, Esau, who was now planning vengeance. Jacob's mother, Rebekah, urges him to run and hide and live with her brother, Jacob's uncle, for a while until Esau can cool his jets and chill out. And once Esau is chilled? Rebekah will send for Jacob and all will reunite and live happily ever after.

How is that for a reader's digest version?

So Jacob starts to run towards Haran, the town where his uncle lives.

Genesis 28:10-11 of The Message says it like this. . . "Jacob left Beersheba and went to Haran. He came to a certain place and camped for the night since the sun had set. He took one of the stones there, set it under his head and lay down to sleep."

Can we read between the lines for a second?

Jacob is on the run, on the move, and all he knows is that his brother is after his life. So I imagine all the emotions are filling Jacob's head and heart. He finally makes it to this desolate land, decides to call it a night, and all he has to lay his head on is a pillow made of stone. 

Desolate land. 

Pillow made of stone.

Ok. . .  is this verse talking about Jacob or Brittnie? (Remember, we are reading between the lines.) Because I have been there a time or two. And I would imagine that I am not the only one who has fallen into what feels like a desolate land, a desperate situation, and all you have to rest your head is a slab of rock. And just as Jacob went to bed desperate, there have been many times I have gone to bed desperate, too.

But then the coolest thing happens, friends.

While Jacob is snoozing on a hard-as-nails-stone, God gifts him with a dream.

As he sleeps, Jacob has a vision of angels ascending and descending a stairway to the heavens and God, there with the angels, begins to speak promises over his life.

Verse 13-15 describes the dream and this is what God has to say. . . "I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I'm giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they'll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I'll stay with you, I'll protect you wherever you go, and I'll bring you back to this very ground. I'll stick with you until I've done everything I've promised you."

Que all the tears because are you kidding me?

Jacob wakes realizing that while he had gone to sleep lonely and afraid, GOD was right there, with him in this desperation and well, he had just not been aware of it.

Jacob then took that pillow of stone and turned it into a pillar of worship.

He turned his struggle into a sacrifice of praise.

He took the hard parts of his story (literally and figuratively) and handed them to God as a gift. 

We can do this too, friends.

It's not easy. And God doesn't always grant us grand visions as He did Jacob. But we too can turn our pillar of stone into a pillar of praise.

We can take that thing that is breaking our heart or breaking us down and lift it back to the heavens with hope-filled expectation. And we can do so with sincere eagerness that the God that comforted Jacob in Genesis chapter 28 still comforts us today.


. . .

What's your pillow of stone?

How can you offer it back up to God as praise?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Snippets Of Summer, Part 2

As many of you know, our summer took a turn from blissfully peaceful to majorly stress-filled. We jumped on the crazy train, and in some ways, the train has not landed in the station. The last six weeks or so have not been my favorite. I was ready for August to arrive, but now I am more than ready for fall to arrive.

Brandon struggled though his third round of kidney stones for the summer, and house drama continues. As a result, my funk has come and gone and come and gone, and I certainly have not been the best version of myself.

But, instead of harping on all of that, how about I share some snippets of summer, some of the good from the last few weeks?

. . .

We set Clara on the tricycle for the first time. She was a little unsure but seemed to enjoy holding on while we pushed/pulled her around the driveway.

Daddy and Ms. Camille coloring . . . An activity Camille could do all day, every day. And when daddy colors with her? The. Best. Brandon always lays on a pillow when he plays with the girls on the floor. Please note Camille needed her own pillow, too.

"Fun Friday" play-date with Molly. . . These two . . . cutest ever.

She's ready for a swim!

The Saturday after Brandon's surgery we ventured out of the house for a little carousel riding, shopping, and pizza eating. I was going stir crazy at home, the funk was weighing me down, so Brandon said "let's go!" I truly had no idea where we were headed, and didn't even ask. This outing was good for the soul. 

This summer has also brought about some new fears in this girl . . . fear of the dark, fear of thunder (which she calls "under"), and sometimes, fear of the rain. So, when we are able, we dress the part and go play and splash in the rain to help up the fun and lessen the anxiety. 

Playing daddy's ukulele. . . 

While Camille has developed new fears, she has also developed a new love . . . grocery shopping. This girl is the best little helper/shopper. Seriously, she will push the cart all over the store. We are still working on the concept of keeping your head up so that you can, you know, see where you are going. Details, details. We may or may not have knocked over a few displays.

She also loves to help pass the items to the checker. The checkers always get a kick out of this, although the people in line behind us don't always get a kick out of this. :-)

Sister hugs. . . 

Yes, child. This is what happens to your diaper when you insist on getting in the pool fully clothed.

 Clara takes the BEST selfies. . .

We celebrated Brandon's birthday earlier this month. Little did he know he would come home to a princess birthday party. A princess party is what you get when Camille is in charge. Complete with a Doc McStuffins singing card. Because of course. Daddy was thrilled to wear his tiara. 

Lounging. . . 

I went to wake Clara up one morning and saw this scene. Shirt half off. Glider cushion in her bed. Must have been a wild night. 

Sleeping angels . . .

Camille likes to get super close to the camera and talk to me. "Mommy! You see me? I awake!!!!" 

How's your summer? Anyone else itching for fall?

Click here to read Snippets of Summer, Part 1

Monday, August 15, 2016

Honoring A Life by Honoring A Life

A few months ago I felt the ache kicking in. I was missing my son. A lot. And specifically grieving over the fact that I will never have a face to watch grow and mature as our days roll on.

There is so much joy in watching my children develop. How their baby faces turn into toddler faces that turn into big kid faces. I get that blessed opportunity with my girls, but not with my son.

So I decided I needed a face.

A real face.

A living and breathing little boy who I can watch age over the years.

Then it hit me.

Why not find a little boy to sponsor who shares Chance's birthday, year and all? Another little boy, born on that same day in April 2015. Why not find a little boy who needs a little extra help in this life to develop and grow and flourish within his own family? Why not honor another woman's son and in doing so, honoring my own? Why not provide our family with an extra layer of healing, while simultaneously offering a bit of healing to a family across the world? Why not channel our pain into something good and hope-filled?

So we did . . . Meet G!

I knew he was the one the minute I came across his profile. Just look at those beautiful eyes. Those eyes spoke to me and I knew we had found our boy.

We are excited to watch G age year after year, and correspond with him via letters and emails.

Also, how fun will it be to send birthday packages to him every April 4th? I can just imagine all the things Camille will want to pick out for her "brother in Af-ica," as she likes to say.

Thrilled to watch God move and heal and change stories from sadness to hope, both here in our home and across the globe.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Share Your Story Saturday . . . Guest Post

I am honored to share a bit of Chance's story over at the Hope Mommies blog today.

Hope Mommies™ is a 501(c)3 non-profit Christian organization who sole purpose is to come alongside moms and families who have experienced infant loss, bringing comfort, encouragement, companionship, and hope as they continue to walk this side of eternity without their beloved son or daughter.

Click here to check out my guest post. 

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Day We Found Caroline's Cart

I took the girls grocery shopping the other day and was beyond thrilled to see this . . .


Insert Hallelujah Chorus.

To read more about the story behind Caroline's Cart, click here.

While Clara does not require a wheelchair, grocery shopping, or any shopping for that matter, was becoming quite difficult.

She is now too big for the traditional front basket, tries to stand up and climb over the side if I put her in the main basket, and is not mentally capable of following me around on foot. This combination typically resulted in me carrying her through the store with one arm, pushing the cart with the other arm, and constantly dialoguing with Camille to please stay next to mommy and follow along.

Which usually resulted in a smile as I passed other shoppers, but tears on the inside because goodness my girl is heavy and I wish there was a better way.

I basically jumped for joy when I saw a Caroline's Cart in our local store. Literal tears and exclamations and immediately deemed it one of the greatest days of summer.

Clara was loving it!

Little sister was loving it, too. 

Thank you, local Kroger, for caring enough about the special needs community to request a Caroline's Cart for your store. You are spreading love and joy and making an ongoing task, like grocery shopping, monumentally easier for families like us. 

Customer loyalty? You better believe it. 

To find a store near you that has a Caroline's Cart, click here

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Night-Night Paci

Last Friday afternoon, Camille said "Night-Night" to her beloved pacifiers. She did it with a smile and the first three days were a breeze. She never once asked for them and did not seem phased in the slightest bit. 

I know what you're thinking. So that's it? She just happily threw them away without a care in the world?

Yes, and no.

The day before I had purchased a large doll house for dirt cheap off a local mom's site, thinking I would just surprise Camille with it for fun. Friday afternoon we picked up Clara from school, then headed to pick up the dollhouse from the sellers. Camille saw us loading it into the back of the car so naturally, as we were driving away she exclaimed, "Mama, a dollhouse for me?? I play it at home??"

And then it hit me. I am using this doll house as paci-elimination motivation.

"Well, this is a big girl dollhouse! If you are ready to be a big girl and play with a big girl dollhouse, then you will need to say bye-bye to your pacis and throw them away when we get home. If you're not ready to say bye-bye to your pacis, that is okay! The dollhouse can just stay in the garage until you're ready."

"Mama I ready, I ready! Bye-Bye paci!"

So yes, I bribed her. And it seemed to work. #momoftheyear

But, you might notice I said the first three days went well.

Well, now things are not going well.

Think LOTS of crying at bedtime and several middle of the night wakings. Last night she was up from 2-4:30am crying and "scared." She does the same thing at bedtime now, too. She cries saying she is scared and the process to get her to fall asleep is quite complicated.

We are a bit stumped as this girl has never had issues going to bed or sleeping well. She has ALWAYS been eager to get in her bed and loves "night-night" time.

We are praying this is just a phase and adjustment period, and that things will settle down quickly.

Anyone have any tips to share? How long will the crazy last? Please share your wisdom in the comments. . . cause this mama of a paci-less toddler is tired.
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