Category Archives: Life

Mom Confessions and Updates

Mom Confessions

I haven’t blogged any real life confessions in a few weeks! I have had things to share, but we went on a vacation 2 weeks ago and had no wifi! So even though I had things I would have shared, I couldn’t…and can I confess that having a few weeks off felt good.

I love blogging, I love sharing my heart here and working out the nitty gritty of my faith, but when I start to feel the pressure to write, to have a certain number of posts in a week…it starts to lose its appeal.

Taking a break was good for me, necessary really and while I will continue to write, I am trying to lower the expectations I have for myself here.

Things have been a blur since coming back to the “real world.” We were scheduled to be greeters at church the Sunday morning after our return. Note to self, if you are randomly scheduled to greet the day after a vacation…switch with someone.

We were up until almost 1am unpacking and when the alarm went off I groaned…and I am a morning person! Karlena was the worst…crying that she was just SOOO tired! I felt her pain. But we were there, not with bells on…but we were there. The sermon was on baptism and so good..so there was a good reason we needed to be there besides greeting! 🙂

Last week flew by. I really don’t know what we did even. Why is it that you need a vacation from life after a vacation? We had a busy work week scheduled and I think we all struggled to maintain at full speed right out of the gate! Who does our scheduling anyways? A crazy person?!

Oh wait, that is me. :/

This week is VBS week.

VBS

I LOVE LOVE VBS week. Really it is a blast. I am helping lead the singing/dancing again this year and it is the highlight of my summer! It is the one time that I can laugh and dance and be goofy and I don’t feel people are judging me. And if they are I don’t even care because VBS just rocks so much!

I just unpacked my suitcase yesterday. I am honestly surprised that I did it this soon. But it was time, and I couldn’t find a second pair of clean socks to wear to VBS so it was necessary that I search for them in my bag. Isn’t unpacking after vacation the worst?

The Fruit Truck came to town last Friday and we purchased 40lbs of bing cherries. Yes we are nuts but oh were they delicious!! We also bought this cherry pitter.

Cherry Pitter

It was $22 and a splurge but oh how worth it! We set up an assembly line and had 20lbs pitted and frozen in no time!

This weekend the kids asked if they could do an experiment. Karlena grabbed a container and just wanted to add food coloring to water. Then Elijah joined in and wanted to make “goo”…he thought the ingredients were water, Elmer’s glue and “white powder”…I could have searched for a recipe but I was too tired…so we just let them dump and pour.

The result was not what they were hoping for and it made a mess everywhere.

Experiments

Karlena dripped green slops all over the floor. I have yet to mop it. I am secretly hoping the dog does the job for me. I know, I know.

I have fed the kids fried eggs for dinner 3 nights in a row. It is late when we get home from VBS and the kids are usually starving and since it seems we NEVER have anything to eat…eggs are the easiest answer. Thank goodness they love eggs.

We spent the afternoon on Sunday with friends and came home with 2 packs of farm-fresh eggs. Karlena calls them “chicken eggs”…I am not sure what animal’s eggs she thinks we eat normally, but apparently farm-fresh = chicken eggs.

There may be more I could share, but I am tired…and out of words. 🙂 I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week and hopefully I will be back sometime soon!

Where Grace and Suffering Meet

Karlena 2Today is a special day as it would be Karlena’s 40th birthday. And I am pretty sure that her 40 and fabulous party in heaven isn’t anything like we would be having here.

But I miss her. And I wish that I was celebrating with her in person.

Today at church I am leading a song for worship team. (Please pray as you read this because it still TERRIFIES me.) Anyhoo….It is called At the Foot of the Cross.

I have listened to the song over a hundred times in the last 4 days and the words have sunk in deep, covering my soul with the reality that is the dance between suffering and grace.

The video I am attaching below is one where they show clips from the Passion movie. The scene where Jesus is being raised up on the cross and his beloved friends are at the foot of the cross watching.

I understand the pain they must have felt at that moment. Their friend and companion, their teacher and example was dying and they would never be the same again.

I imagine they must have wondered how any beauty could ever come from something so painful.

But it is at the foot of the cross, the very tool used for extreme suffering, that we find just that.

Beauty from ashes.

Hope in the midst of suffering.

Light in the darkness.

The cross is the very reason that the loss we all experience is not the end.

We have been given new life when we accept Jesus as our Savior. And that new life offers the promise that death is not the end. And while I would rather celebrate this special birthday with Karlena in person, I rejoice in the fact that one day we will be reunited.

And oh the party that will be.

I don’t know what burden you are carrying this morning.

Maybe it is the loss of a job, or a struggle in your marriage. Maybe your arms long for a baby of your own. Maybe you are carrying the weight of a sickness or the struggle with anxiety or depression.

Whatever it is, I encourage you to lay it down. If you have to physically do the act of setting it down, do that. Set it down at the foot of the cross.

We weren’t meant to carry it on our own. Jesus came to do the heavy lifting. But for some of us it means we have to first let go.

There is freedom found in trusting God with everything. We might not always understand the trials we face, but we can walk confidently knowing that He will make beauty out of all of it.

Happy Birthday Karlena. You are loved and missed but I rejoice today in your complete and total healing. Until the day we celebrate together…I love you friend!

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God Creates Us

Adoption Awareness

It is an honor to have my friend Kristin here today. She and I were both on the God-sized Dream Team together and she also is a writer at the GSD website! Kristin recently launched a new e-book called Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & Family. It is a beautiful story filled with God’s redemption and Kristin’s transparency. I am so excited that she has agreed to share a little of her story here today!

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“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

God surprised me over and over again in the best ways throughout Cate’s adoption process, but one of the biggest visible surprises was Cate herself. With an Iranian birth father, we expected her to have olive-toned skin.

Instead people debate whether she looks most like Greg or me. We both have blue eyes; she has gorgeous brown eyes that soak up details. She’s always had defined eyes, which seem to have come from her birth father who we’ve never met. Cate tans well and has always had dark hair. It’s lightened some in recent years, making it closer to her birth mom’s hair color.

When people comment on how she looks like me, I pause for a moment because I want to tell them her story, our story. We may not share DNA, but I’m raising a mini-me who was meant to be my daughter.

The similarities go beyond looks. Cate and I are both stereotypical first-borns. She is stubborn, tells detailed stories, likes crafts, loves her friends, wants to have a plan, and has perfectionist tendencies – just like me.

And yet she’s not like me, especially as a child. She’s not afraid of most new things, speaking in front of people doesn’t scare her, she laughs easily, and she wants to play sports. I’m more adventurous as an adult than I ever was as a kid. She makes me proud the way she faces life.

I welcome the similarities because I didn’t expect them with adoption. Maybe it’s our common dark brown hair that prompts people to say she looks like me. Perhaps it’s the skin tone. But it could be the way she responds like me. She likes to make her friends cards, especially when they’re sad or sick. She likes to help me in the kitchen. She likes to take (and plan!) road trips. And each night before she goes to bed, she asks me what we’re doing the next day.

Sometimes I catch myself scolding her for behavior that’s just like mine. Ouch. I see my weaknesses in her and cringe, not because she disappoints me but because I disappoint myself and I know she’s watching. We both get cranky when we’re tired and have been known to break when our plans break.

I watch her live and laugh and write and play and imagine and worry and ponder and plan. And I know that even in my imperfect perfectionist-leaning mothering ways, this girl is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

God knew when I cried out to him to become pregnant that we would have this story. God knew he was going to make us a family through adoption – through THIS adoption. God knew her brown eyes because he created them. He created every single one of her eye lashes and every hair on her head. He knew how she would laugh and that her stories would be long. He knew how we would fit together.

She’s taught me nurture trumps nature because biologically speaking she wasn’t created within me. But I know without a doubt she was created to be my daughter. I understand her. I yearned for her. I learn from her every day. Her story is my story because through it God rescued my heart. (<====Click to Tweet)

His works are indeed wonderful.

Kristin Hill Taylor

Kristin Hill Taylor tells about the two adoption processes that followed a hard season of infertility in “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family,” which is available at Amazon. She believes in taking road trips, living in community, and seeking God as the author of every story – many of which she shares at www.kristinhilltaylor.com. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her college sweetheart husband and their two kids.

Saying Goodbye

Birch Tree 2

I have always said that I believe that God brought us to this house.

During the transition time that Dominic was living in MN and we were still back in SD, we made several trips to Marshall to look at homes. Our Realtor (and now neighbor) 🙂 was patient with us and showed us a bunch of homes.

We weren’t sure when we were going to be moving so it was hard. We would see and fall in love with a home and then it would be sold. This went on for 5 months. We finally came to a point that we knew we needed to take that leap of faith and put our SD home on the market and just see what would happen.

It sold in 4 days after 1 showing with a 45 day closing time.

Oh and I we had just had a new baby a few months before. It was a crazy time. And we needed to find a home fast.

I saw a house online that I loved and sent Dominic on a late night, last minute trip to see it. It already had an offer on it but there was a possibility to make a counter offer. While he was there Molly asked if she could show him 1 more house.

A home that had been on the market for a long time, and the sellers were motivated. So Dominic went to see it and I remember the call he made me that night on his way back to his rental. He just knew it was “the” one.

He was giddy and I was too, we made an appointment to go and see it as a family that following Saturday. My parents came along and we even looked at a couple other houses. But we knew that house was the house God put in our path.

I sometimes forget, but really we are all so grateful for the gift that house has been to our family. We don’t deserve it and yet we recognize the blessing it is for us.

One of the first things that I fell in love with when we drove down the drive was the beautiful birch tree in the front yard.

In the mornings when I would get up and have my quiet time I would sit in the front living room and the birch was my view. It has inspired a couple of different blog posts, most recently where I wrote about how God was peeling away some of those layers that had been holding me in bondage.

Birch 4

That tree and I have a history in just 3 short years. It has been a powerful and beautiful representation of God’s work in my life.

We had a tough and very cold winter last year. We started noticing that a large part of that old birch wasn’t healthy. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. But a few days ago our neighbor had a tree service company over and we stopped to talk to him.

Brian and his wife attend our church and we knew if anyone would be helping us with our tree issues, it would be them.

Birch Tree 6

He was over again today and confirmed that our tree was at least 2/3 dead. He could take down 2 of the 3 main trunks, but the reality was it wasn’t going to get better and we would likely just have to call him back out again next year.

So at lunch today we made the decision to have that tree removed.

I cried a little on the inside.

I know, I know it is just a tree, but it has been a part of our family the entire time we have been here. It is hard to make changes some times isn’t it?

I ran outside and took a bunch of pictures. I am just a little sad that it was so grey and dreary for her last photos, but I knew the front landscape of our home would drastically change and I wanted to document it.

Birch Tree 1

And so we went back to work and when I got Gabriel from school we came home to this….

Birch Tree 5

Amazing difference isn’t it?

I do like how you can see the entire home now, but I am going to miss my early morning views…

Birch Tree 4

Now all that remains is this stump. We decided not to remove it at this point (I didn’t want to deal with the large landscaping issue we would have with a hole there right now) so for now this will be our reminder.

Our views will constantly be changing. I am coming to appreciate the changes even when I don’t like it. I am hoping that I am able to see the view in a new light…different but not bad, and a new opportunity to see in a way I haven’t before.

I am grateful that an old, dying birch tree can continue to teach me so much about life. May I always be seeking to recognize the beauty that is around me.

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