Thursday, February 28, 2013

And we're live!

The new spring line of the Noonday Collection  has officially launched. 

And while most people will look at this beautiful pictures and see pretty colors and intricate details and unique designs, I look at them and see stories. 

I see a mom trying to make enough money to feed her children. 

I see a woman with HIV seeking to maintain her dignity and meet her medical needs. 

I see a man smiling from ear to ear in the fact that he can now, for the first time ever, afford to send his children to school. 

I see beautiful faces of every size, shape, age, and color all working to make the world a better place. 

And I see Jesus. 

More than the pretty products, I love the verse from which Noonday is named: 

"....when you satisfy the needs of the oppressed, your night will become like the noonday."
Isaiah 58:10

I hope you will take a minute today to check out the website. Look at the products, but more importantly, watch the beautiful story of Jalia and Daniel, two of our artisans who truly represent the heart of Noonday and our desire to help those in need. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Loving Lately

See this picture? Isn't she beautiful? She's one of our Noonday artisans in Rwanda. 
She's one of the many lives that have been changed through YOUR Noonday purchases.
And see what she's holding? Look closely. It's a note from me and my family, thanking her for her hard work and for being a part of it all. And the first time I saw it, it made my cry. It seemed to make Noonday even more real to me. I AM working to change the world for even one person. While I love the pretty accessories and the excuse to look cute that Noonday offers, I love these artisans so much more. And tomorrow the new spring line comes out with over seventy new pieces. That's over seventy ways that you can make a change in the life of someone else in this world. AND I LOVE IT. 

This week I'm also loving......

*Monday night, the Noonday ambassadors have a conference call with THE JEN HATMAKER. Ask me if I was excited. 

* A little girl I prayed for what seems like a long time recently celebrated her first birthday

*This week's Sevenly Cause

*This post on how to show love to a special need's family. 

*My friend Lindsy's new fundraising t-shirts

*Super excited about FINALLY seeing this movie. It's about time. 

*This post by Jami Nato on saying no. 

*This amazing post on serving our sisters. 

What are YOU loving this week? I'll be back tomorrow to share some of my favorite new Noonday pieces with you. Are you excited? Good. That makes two of us. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Married.... me. 

I'm messy. 
I leave my towel on the bathroom floor. 
I steal his hairbrush. 
I get sidetracked.....often.

It's taken me a long time to develop my skills in the kitchen and still have so much to learn. 
I get frustrated. 
I raise my voice. 
I say hurtful things. 

I'm selfish, stubborn, and don't always listen like I should. 

I get frustrated when things don't go as planned. 
I complain about my hair.....often. 
I am not always a ball of sunshine. 

And yet He's still here.
There's something to be said for that, folks. 

Want to know what I think it is? 

He loves Jesus way more than He loves me, and in return, I respect him immensely. 

And it works for us. 

Here's hoping that if you have a fella, he loves Jesus more than he loves you; 
I'm convinced it's the secret to a healthy, happy marriage....that and a shared love of all things Harry Potter.....or, as Libby calls him, 'Libby Baker's boyfriend'. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

There's a Hippie Hiding in Here

I totally think that in another life I could have been a hippie. Not so much a free love and puff puff hippie; more of a living on love, we are all beautiful kind of hippie. 

I am literally the happiest version of myself when I'm in Africa.
 Messy hair. 
Red feet (from the five layers of red dirt). 
Long skirt. 
Covered in babies and all kinds of happy. 

I am totally in my element there. 
I could stay forever and smile until my face hurts. 

Just thinking about Africa gives me butterflies in the pit of my stomach-- the good kind. 
And although I still have no official plans to hop on a plane anytime soon, I know it's coming. 
I can honestly say that I feel more at home there than I do here. 
My heart literally aches to go back.

There are very few times that I have been completely certain
 that I was doing exactly what God wants from me...Africa is one of those times. 

So until we meet again, Africa, know that I'll be missing you and longing for you and dreaming of you. 
Every. single. day. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Making Heart Day Special

So I wanted Valentine's Day to be special for Hollyn. 
Libby had a big school party to be excited about; Hollyn was stuck home with me. 

So, here's what we did: we painted. 

OK, so maybe I helped a little to get her started...

I mixed a little shaving cream and a little food coloring, and there you have it. 


Needless to say, my little girl is quite the artist. 
She giggled and laughed and painted and giggled and laughed and painted. 
I'd call that a successful morning. 

And Libby's school party was quite the hit. 

Here's hoping your weekend was wonderful. 
If you need me, I'll be stalking the sample; it's Noonday spring sample shipment week. 
Ask me if I'm excited. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Your Opportunity is Waiting

Earlier this month, I shared this post on the MercyFound blog, a great place for those interested in caring for God's children throughout the world. However, in case you missed it, I wanted to share it here as well. 

The past year was such an amazing adventure. 
God provided the means for me to travel to Africa not once but twice in 2012, 
once to Uganda in July and once to Malawi in October. 
And while these trips were full of memorable moments, the most memorable moment I had was when I held an orphan for the very first time. 

That sounds funny, I suppose. 
I have several friends who were adopted or have adopted, and I've hugged them and loved their little ones. 
But I'd never before help a child with no one to call her own. 

She was in an orphanage with all of her survival needs met, but she was still missing one very important necessity in this roller coaster called life: a family of her own. 

She looked up at me, and I stared into her beautiful brown eyes, stroked her dark, curly hair and prayed for her family to come for her soon. 

I was changed by that experience, 
and I can see her little face in my mind today like it's been carved there in stone. 

And while I believe God has a family for her, waiting somewhere to hold her tight and kiss her good night, I also believe that God wanted me to love on her in that place at that moment. 

Visiting orphans is life changing and important. 
We can't adopt them all, but we can go and show them the love of a family, even if it's only for a brief time. 

There are so many great opportunities to go and be the hands and feet of Christ to little ones waiting on families across the world. 

God may have called you to adopt domestically or internationally, and you may have your littles home with you at this very moment. 

Or maybe you're not sure WHAT God wants from you or how He wants to use you. 
Sometimes the answers come through taking action, from trying something new, or from stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Maybe you're looking for a opportunity to teach your children about the importance of serving others. 

Perhaps you are searching for a meaningful way to spend your summer.

Or He may be calling you to simply be an advocate, and I can tell you from personal experience that my voice for the orphans was turned up a notch after I went and held and saw for myself. 
It's as though people took my words and my heart more seriously once they knew that I'd been, 
and I came home with a much better understanding of the needs that weigh heavy on the hearts of orphans.

And while the opportunities to serve here at home are limitless, I want to share with you some opportunities to serve orphans around the world.

If you're feeling called to go, here are some great ways to do just that: 

Simply clink on the links above for more information. 

The opportunities are limitless. 
You will bless others and be blessed more than can know.  
And the little ones are waiting for someone just like you.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I am that mom who: 

-after eight years is still, constantly, every day, learning something new about myself, my kiddos, and my job as their mom. This whole motherhood thing is essentially largely about always moving forward, always evolving, always growing, and always changing--- hopefully for the better. Just when you think you've got this, they grow. They learn something new. They change. And you quickly realize, you don't got jack. 

-openly admits that motherhood is hard. At times, it's frustrating, it's overwhelming, and it's often lonely. Why lonely, you ask? Aren't there millions of mothers in the world going through essentially the same struggles, giving their all every day only to feel like they're still messing it up? Of course there are, but society and Donna Reed tell us not to talk about those things. And thus, we feel alone. 

-has been reminded time and time again that there is no way I could do this without my Jesus. On the days when it's just too much or I've had all the permanent marker incidents I can stand, He reminds me to be patient. Be still. Be brave. Keep on chugging. If He can love me after all the times I've failed Him with grace that is new every morning, the least I can do is work to forgive my kids after they cut their own hair, lock the cat in the play kitchen, color on everything we own, and leave sour milk sippy cups in my car. 

I am the mom that: 

- was an only child. Sibling rivalry is a foreign concept to me. Why can't we just all love each other and get along and share? I would give anything for a sister; can't you at least appreciate the one you have been blessed with? I mean, come on. LOVE YOUR SISTER ALREADY. Pleaseandthankyou. 

- still, after eight years, gets grossed out on a regular basis. 
Poopy diapers, wiping little booties, snot, boogers, and throw up. Oh my. 

- has just now realized that there are books on parenting. And I should read them. If I were going to get a job doing ANYTHING ELSE in this world, I'd learn everything I could about it. I might even have spent four (or more) years getting a degree to teach me to do just that. But become a mom and it's like, "No instructions. No past experience. No problem. You'll figure it out. Good luck. Here's hoping you and your kids make it out alive and without severe emotional damage". Parenting books (at least some of them) are helpful. I DO have things to learn. I AM a reader. I clearly DO NOT know everything. I WANT to be the best mom I can be for my girls. It just makes sense. 

- messes up. Often. I have regrets about how I handled situations, what my kids ate that day, and the time I spent doing dishes versus playing Go Fish. But I am getting better. I am doing my best. And I have truly mastered the art of asking for forgiveness. 

I am THAT know, the one who: 

- really wishes sometimes that my kids were more alike. If we're being honest here (which we are), my kids are total opposites in almost every way possible. This means that how we discipline one doesn't work for the other one. And that's hard. It's stressful. It's not fun. But we're getting there. 

- honestly thinks my kids are the most talented, beautiful, precious, funniest kids ever. My heart literally feels like it's going to burst in my chest sometimes when I look at them. 
And this is exactly how I think it should be.

-will leave the house looking like a total mess from head to toe, but you'd better believe my kids will be cute. WHY do we do this? Someone please explain it to me. 

-will shameless eat M and M's like it's my job, but my kids WILL eat their broccoli.
 It's the law in this here land. 


- has learned almost everything I know about love from my kids. They bring out the best in me. They helped me grow up. They changed me. They molded me. They shaped me. 

-will never ever for the life of me understand how something that is sometimes so challenging and so hard can also bring me such intense joy and such extreme happiness. 

-feels the utmost sense of responsibility to teach my kids to care for others, to think about the least of these, to love the seemingly unlovable, to do more than what society sees as acceptable. I want them to be givers, not takers. Selfless, not selfish. Helpers, not hurters. 

-knows I will miss this time in my life when Libby literally asks two hundred questions a day, thinks she has it all figured out, and has more ideas in her head than I can keep up with.

-realizes I will one day long for the sound of Hollyn singing to herself as she plays with My Little Ponies for the one hundredth time this week, crawling in my bed five out of seven nights a week at roughly two a.m., and crying simply because I had to leave to take a shower. 

- is working hard to see the beauty in the mess that often comes from being a mom and is having more fun trying than I ever thought possible.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this year's I AM THAT MOM series. I have truly enjoyed reading your stories, relating to your struggles, and sharing your joys.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Am That Mom: Dara

When I started thinking about what to write in this post, I sent a message to some of my friends and family and asked them to sum up what they thought of me as a mom in 1 word. Here are the responses I received: patient, creative, fun, encompassing love. These texts made me smile and these all are things that I really do strive to be. And feel like I fail miserably at sometimes. My little sassy girl turned 3 at the beginning of December and hit the terrible 3's in pretty full force. I kept reminding myself that she did the same thing when she turned 2 the year before. I kept telling myself that these phase would pass. I think we have weathered the worst of it. Caroline brings me more joy and happiness than I ever thought was possible. Her smile can melt my heart in a split second. Talking to her is like talking to a miniature me a lot of the time. It makes me realize I should really watch the words and tone of voice I choose to use. This sweet little girl can also drive me crazy! We hit a point at times where I have to yell at her to make her listen because nothing else works. I really hate yelling, but I hate when she disobeys even more.

I feel like I earned some merit badges of parenting this year. In the span of 3 months, we had a visit to the ER for stitches in her forehead on her 2nd day of school (see previous post), a day in the outpatient wing of the children's hospital (tonsils and adenoids out and tubes in her ears), and a weird infection that grew rapidly on her thumb over a few hours that resulted in a few visits to the doctor and had to be drained. I can't imagine what parents who have seriously ill children have to deal with. I know that we are lucky to only have to deal with this minor things.

To sum it up, I am that mom... *who rambles (see above!) *that used be so crafty and creative when I worked in a preschool program but has to force myself to do crafts with my kiddo *that wishes I could truly commit to being a runner (I finished 3 5K's and 1 5-mile run last year) but finds it hard to love running and even harder to find time (except super early in the am...and I am NOT a morning person) *who wonders how another little one will fit into our life someday (which we better work on since Caroline already tells everyone that she's having a sister!) *who constantly feels as though she's telling her kid to hurry up when I really need to learn how to slow down *that tries to find a good balance between actually living in the moment and taking pictures so I never forget this special memories *who plays the quiet game in the car sometimes since I just want to drive in silence after talking ALL day at work (I'm a speech language pathologist...) *that spends way too much on clothes and things for Caroline because she's just so much fun to buy things for *who struggles to remember who I used to be before I became a mom *who is so happy that we chose to move Caroline to a preschool at our church this year. I love hearing her talk about God and Jesus and asking to pray *that has a blog that I'm terrible at updating. Maybe I'll do better now that I have all this free time--just kidding! *who has loved reading the posts from other moms on McCall's blog and who treasures her other mommy friends. It's great knowing you're not alone out there and that someone else's child has also peed in the middle of the store, thrown a massive tantrum in the grocery store (the kind where you avoid all eye contact and ignore your screaming kid), colored with pen on something other than paper (such as their foot--solid black), had to be taken out of restaurant for a spanking/talking to....should I go on?? :-)

*To follow along in Dara's adventures as a mom, check out here blog here. *

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Am That Mom: Lindsy

I believe as moms we have more things in common than things that separate us. More experiences drawing us together than setting us apart. Our joys and struggles are not unique and I believe there is divine planning in that.

So here is my story. It won't look exactly like yours but I'm guessing you'll find a bit of your story in it too.

My husband William and I got married about seven years ago. When we got engaged neither of us wanted to have kids. (This will be comical later on. Just wait for it.) We learned in pre-marital counseling having kids is biblical. Hmmm... So we decided to adopt. Getting pregnant kinda freaked me out (still does for the record) and there were "too many" kids out there already.  Seriously - that was our thinking.

Our son was born in 2008 (surprise!) and shortly after we began the process of adopting from Ethiopia. We were told "the process" would take about twelve months. About six months in we found out we were pregnant again. (Surprise!) And yes, we know how that happens.


Enter nine month adoption break.

When our daughter was four weeks old we started the adoption process again. If you aren't familiar with international adoption, every single one of the bazillion forms you submit has an expiration date. Take a break? Re-do bazillion forms.

We updated all bazillion forms and the day before we planned to mail them, William was diagnosed with stage three melanoma.

Enter surgeries and cancer treatment and another nine month adoption break.

In March 2011 William was given a clean bill of health. We let out a long sigh of relief... Ahhhh.

Remember what I said earlier about the bazillion forms? Yeah, they expired again.

We updated everything again and mailed it off. Two and a half years into our adoption journey our bazillion forms finally landed in Ethiopia!

A few months later, Ethiopia deemed us unfit to parent. You can read about that here.

Enter heartbreak.

I wandered around the house in my pajamas all weekend. Thankfully, William remained steadfast and we pressed on. This time pursuing adoption from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Less than a month later we were matched with an adorable five-ish year old little boy. We planned to name him Malachi but never got that chance. He went home to live with his uncle and there is now one less orphan in the world. For that, we are thankful.

We went back on the list to wait for another little boy. (Circa February 2012.)

While we waited, God brought two little boys from five blocks away to live us. One of them is named Malachi. God is funny like that isn't He? Malachi and his brother came to us through an amazing program designed to keep kids out of the foster care system - Safe Families for Children. (Please check it out. It is wonderful!)

We learned early on in our placement with the boys that they might not be leaving anytime soon. In fact, it became apparent they would likely be going into foster care. Since we were not certified foster parents, that would have meant them being pulled from our house and moved into another.

Becoming foster parents was not on our radar. It's not something we ever would have considered. But God knew that. He re-wrote our adoption story to include the American orphan. I thought orphans in the US were far better off than orphans in places like Africa and India. I WAS WRONG. God knew we needed to see it for ourselves, in our own living room. So we became foster parents.

Then, we were matched with a four-ish year old little boy in the DRC. We were told his name was John but found out a couple months later his name is actually Moise, or Moses, not John. Did I mention our bio sons name is Moses? (If you're keeping score that's two Malachi's and two Moses'.)

Last October Malachi and his brother were placed in the custody of the state and we officially became their foster parents! The system may be broken, but God is sovereign.

About this time our two year old daughter Meadow started praying every night for her baby sister. I promptly explained she did not have a baby sister. There are boys as far as we can see - no sister in sight.

But she persisted.

Every night for almost a week she wanted to pray for her baby sister. Nothing we said could convince her otherwise. (Yes, we tried to talk our kid out of praying for something. We made Jesus proud.) William and I grew a little more freaked out each night and he made the next available appointment for the big snip surgery. For real.

This went on and off for most of the next month.

Then in November we learned Moise would not be our Moise. We learned his mother is alive and well and had no idea he was being adopted or intention to place him up for adoption. We praise God every day for His hand over Moise and that he was re-united with his birth family before something tragic happened. And by tragic I mean coming to live with us when his family wants to care for him.

After we lost our referral for Moise, we decided to take a break from international adoption. We were tired. Three years and nine months is a L.O.N.G. time to be on the emotional roller coaster that is adoption and frankly, I wanted off. We prayed two sweet boys home and had two sweet boys in our home. Seems good enough, right?

Shortly after deciding we needed a break a few folks contacted me suggesting certain agencies or waiting child lists. I kindly blew them off.

All but one.

One email from a stranger included information about a waiting baby girl, and I almost hit delete, but then I saw her name. Glory.

Do you see that name up there? Dead center?

Glory is the name we had chosen for our next little girl.

Oh. S%*#.

I responded with my schpeel.  We have been in the process for almost four years, lost two referrals in 2012, we are tired, blah, blah, blah.

But. I. couldn't. get. Glory. out. of. my. mind.

I decided to do what is anti my personality. To not pursue her. Instead, I prayed. Specifically I prayed if Glory is ours, the nice stranger woman would email ME. Not the other way around.

I thought surely she would be gone. Who has healthy waiting baby girls? Surely someone would step forward for her, right?

Nine days later, the nice stranger woman sent me a message. Glory was still waiting.

I went to William, explained my prayer and that it had been answered. We decided to pray some more.

Pursuing Glory would mean starting over financially. From the beginning. The very beginning. Like $20,000 ago.

In order to get to the point of pursuing Glory, we would need $11,000. So we prayed for God to give us a financial sign.

A few days later I sat down to add up our grants and savings. To our surprise it totaled $10,885. Pretty close to $11,000 right?

Then, as we were getting ready for bed I emptied my pockets to find two checks from friends who had come over that day to purchase some of our fundraising items.

The total including those checks?


So here we are. In God's story. Waiting for Glory while He shows us His. Never having dreamed we would be here. Knowing we would never have chosen here on our own but so thankful for where God has us. 

I don't know your story, but I pray you find peace in knowing that He is not a part of your story but you are a part of His.

*If you'd like to follow Lindsy in her adventures as a mom and on her journey to bring Glory to her forever home, you can find her here or via her button on my sidebar.*

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Am That Mom: Jessi


As I sit here, thinking about the prompt "I am that Mom", there are a hundred things that run through my mind: I am the mom who has chosen to stay home with my children. I am the mom who cloth diapers. I am the mom who sleep trains her kids. I am the mom who refuses to buy a single piece of kids' clothing brand new. I am the mom who makes all of my kids' baby food. I am the mom who has chosen to home school. I am the mom who put my children on a modified vaccine schedule.

And while I could write book-length blog posts on each one of those topics, that's not really who I am as a mom.

When it comes right down to it, when I get down to the nitty gritty of motherhood, I am the mom who relies entirely on the grace of Jesus Christ and seeks His glory alone. I am the mom who can do nothing apart from His strength and His mercy.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10

Let's face it, stay at home motherhood sucks sometimes. It's hard. It's exhausting. It's impossible.

There are days when things go almost perfect. The TV stays off except for the 2 shows my toddler is allowed to watch. He is engaged in his morning lessons. We paint a beautiful picture to hang on the fridge. He devours his healthy lunch. The baby naps right on schedule. And all of his diapers get washed. I get a shower and a nap (okay, those two never happen in the same day). Dinner prep is done by 5 and I actually have something in the oven before my husband walks in the door. Neither child is neglected or crying.

Those days are very rare.

Because truly, there are many more days that I spend too much time doing laundry. There are piles of toys in every room that haven't been put away in days. There is crayon on the wall. My toddler has dried ketchup on his face from the previous night's dinner, which, shouldn't really count as a dinner because it was almost entirely made up of "snack" food. I haven't put a bra on all day. And I can't remember if I brushed my teeth. My toddler goes through 4 pairs of underwear because he refuses to stop what he's doing long enough to tell me he needs to use the potty. There's poop on the floor because during naked time, my 2 month old wiggled his way off of his blanket. I'm rushing to get something, anything on the stove for dinner while one runs around eating chocolate and the other sits in his bouncy seat crying.

2013-01-16 12.28.34

And it's those days, actually it's all days, that I am incredibly thankful and grateful for the grace of God. Because, I am far from the mother I want to be for my children. But there is grace for me. I don't do the things for them that I want to. But there is grace for me. They don't receive the attention from me on a daily basis that they deserve. But there is grace for me.
Everything I do for my kids needs to be out of the strength of the Lord. And all the while trusting that He is using me to mold them and disciple them. I have no competence as a mother apart from God. By my own strength I am an absolute failure as a mom. I can strive and work as hard as I know how, and I will never be a perfect mother. On my own, I'll never be half the mother I wish to be. But that is okay, because it serves as a reminder that I need to be relying on Him, on His strength, on His provision, on His competence, on His grace.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5

It's all there. He's offered it all to us as His children. And I should be partaking of it all daily for the sake of my own children.

*Jessi blogs at this camera tells my story about her family, faith, thrift tips and everyday randomness. You can follow her on twitter and pinterest.*

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Am That Mom: Wynne

In case you're just now tuning in, we are entering week two of mom's from all over sharing their hearts, quirks, and all around thoughts on motherhood, as I am a firm believer in the idea that there is so much we can learn from each other. 

Here's what you might have missed last week: 
Monday- Heather
Tuesday- Audra
Wednesday- Shannon
Thursday- Amber
Friday- Ashley
Sunday- Ashley

And now onto today. This mom's story is really close to my heart, as I prayed for these babies to come home for months! She is one of the most inspiring people I know. She's also how I found out about Noonday! That alone is worth a big, fat THANK YOU, WYNNE!

My name is Wynne [I blog over at Gloriously Ruined] and this is my beautiful family!  My husband of 6+ years, Stephen and our two babes: Camp [1] and Asher [almost 1].  We've been home from Ethiopia about 3.5 months!  Yes, we went from 0-2 kids all at once!  and although they aren't biologically twins/or related, they basically are twins.  We are so so in love with them and I am LOVING the #momlife.  

all those cheesy things people said about "when you have kids" are true.  Even though I've never been much of a "baby person", I am with them.  I don't remember what my life was like before them.  I do hear them when they cry [most of the time].  and my motherly instincts have kicked in [despite not reading any parenting books besides adoption books]...

I remember the first few weeks of being their momma, I kept saying "man, this parenting thing is no joke!" and it IS no joke.  it's a full time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job.  but it's the aboslute best job I've ever had.  I remember when we were in the transition home in Addis, I looked at Camp and just simply said, "this is the BEST job".  and it is.  and that's saying a lot from me - I love to work!  I have had more jobs than maybe anyone you know, I've started businesses, gone to the conferences + bought the tshirt ;) ha.  but being a mom, although it's hard/stressful/exhausting/and reminds you of how selfish you actually the BEST thing.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  and I guess that's a good thing, since the # of kids my husband wants keeps going up....

like any mom, I am far from perfect.
I don't have it all together, and I don't even act like it [or at least I don't think I do]
being a new mom of not one, but TWO kiddos is sometimes challenging.
we always have stories to tell when daddy gets home...

like this week.

I am that mom that just realized today that her son's toenails were curling over and digging into his skin....

I am that mom that watched in slow motion her daughter do a front flip over my leg off the couch to retrieve her bottle.  [told ya the 2 kids thing was sometimes hard]

and I could really go on....

but I am also that mom...

that loves her kids fiercely
that tells them every single day how beautiful they are and how much I love them
that sings songs + kisses checks until they know the songs and their checks are raw
that takes them on walks, plays music with them, teaches them about jesus every day

and as for any new mom advice.....

I think something that's really helped me is not comparing myself to other moms, or not comparing my kids to their kids.

I had to do that before they came home, make up my mind I mean.  I knew that they wouldn't be "doing" the things "normal" american born and breed kids would be doing and I'm ok with that.  I'm committed to walking with them every step of the way.  but I didn't want to feel bad or defeated about it.  so I let it go - I don't read development emails/books, I don't even know where they are on the scale for their height/weight/etc.  and I've found so much freedom from that!

be you.
be the mom Jesus made YOU to be.
don't be someone else - He made you for YOUR kids.
isn't that awesome?

happy mothering, yall!

*Again, if you want to watch Wynne's precious kiddos grow and learn more about she's working to be a change in this world,  you can follow her story here. *

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Am That Mom: Ashley

Hi there!! I am Ashley, a Southern California mama of two littles working on bringing home our son or daughter from Ethiopia...

When McCall asked me to guest post during her "I'm That Mom" series, I was all over it. I am so excited to be here. McCall and I are both Ambassadors for Noonday Collection and so that means that our hearts basically beat for the same things: Jesus, being a voice for the oppressed, adoption, family, and fashion, baby. What I forgot to tell McCall when I signed up to post was that I have "helium hand." Yep, it's that hand that raises slowly to volunteer yourself no matter who is asking what. You need someone to pick up you kid from school? Helium hand. You need someone to be team rep for the t-ball team? Helium hand. You need someone to bake 500 cupcakes and deliver them across town at 5 AM? Okay, so maybe I don't volunteer for that one, but you get the idea. My point is, I am in a season of over-extension and poor McCall has had to wait for me to buckle down and get this post done, once and for all. So thank you, girl, for your grace and here I am. I'm going to get. this. post. done. Boom.

Motherhood. Okay. Where is God leading my heart on motherhood right now? This is actually an easy one for me this month. It's right here: Discipleship.

I was fortunate enough to attend a conference this month called MomHeart by Whole Heart Ministries. And it was life-giving. A breath of fresh air that gave me an entirely new and direly needed perspective on motherhood: this most important job God has given me to do. There are about ten posts I could write inspired by the information I took from this conference, but here is are the basics.

God has not left us uninformed on how to do the MOST important job he's given us to do. Often when we feel lost or stumped or exacerbated, we look for book and formulas and systems. But we have something eternally better--the Holy Spirit. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you ALL THINGS and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14: 26

We have the freedom and grace to parent by faith. What does this look like? It looks like partnering with God each day to discern our child's individual needs, personalties, and issues of the heart. Often we get caught up on undesirable behavior and want to squash and it squash it quick. But do we take time to really look at the issue of the heart?

For instance, and I'm gonna give it to you real here, I would say 90% of the times that my 3 year old displays undesirable behavior is when I am distracted as a parent. Like a good friend of mine put it: "Mommy is distracted and you aren't appreciating that... go sit in time out!" Man, this is convicting for me. So often, our kids just want our attention. Other times, they have needs... such as, "Is this child defiant or just hungry? Does he need time-out or simply a nap? Is he being rebellious or am I? Is this a battle I need to win because I need his heart to follow Christ in this situation, or am I simply being prideful and want him to obey my every word?"

There is a certain brand of hyper my son gets when he is flat-out exhausted. I like to call it the storm before the calm. I know a lot of parents that would see him in those moments and see it as defiance and recommend time-out or a spank... but this mama knows, "He's exhausted." Sometimes we feel like we are excusing poor behavior, and I'm sure there are times when we could, but other times you just know your baby! It's a mother's intuition.

Another thing that struck me is how often we react to undesirable behavior and think that our reaction is enough to teach what we expect. And this just isn't so. We need to intentionally teach them what we desire them to know. If we want them to speak with manners, we must show our babies manners. If we want them to be gracious, we must show them grace. If we want them to be Christ followers, they must see us as we follow Him.

Grace and truth are not mutually exclusive. You don't have to choose between love and wisdom. We can have both and we can give both to our children. The embodiment of both in one is Christ. And that is the greatest command and privilege of our jobs as mamas--to truly disciple our children to know and follow Jesus. How often do we wake up and see the dawning of a new day as a new opportunity to pour into our children? We have the opportunity to cooperate with the God of the universe to mold these precious little humans he has put in our care. We can set out to shape their hearts. And no one can do a better job at mothering the children God has given you then you---He created you to be their mama!!! And to raise them to bring Him glory. See what I'm talking about---this perspective makes me feel pumped to get up in the morning and be my kids' mommy.

Sally Clarkson posed a couple of questions to us: Do our children look at us and see a mama who's heart is on fire? Do they see a mama who is truly alive in a way they desire? Do we make our babies feel alive? Are we building a home that reflects a kingdom built for the Lord, or one built for this world? Hard questions... good questions to motivate us. I want my kids to remember me as truly alive... heart emblazoned for the Lord.

Now, not all days are good days. And we are sinful women and our kids are sinful kids and if we are not kind and forgiving of one another and doing this parenting thing in community, man, we are in for a lot of frustration. So let's always remember to give grace to one another and grace to ourselves. AND GRACE TO OUR KIDS. "You have given me the shield of Your salvation, And your right hand upholds me; And your GENTLENESS makes me great." Psalm 18:35

Sarah Mae spoke and shared that just like us, our babies are clay in the Potter's hands. We can do lots of things, but only God can mold a soul. Let's trust that God will finish the work He has begun in us and let's believe that He will finish the work He has begun in our children.  Through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we are perfect in the eyes of heaven. Let's live with the freedom  we have in Jesus... let's mother with grace, wisdom, and the Holy Spirit. Let's feed ourselves with truth daily so we have truth to pour out. Let's accept the grace given to us so we can pour out grace.

Thank you, McCall for inviting me over!!! I hope that wasn't too all over the place. Seriously, there was so much wisdom shared at this conference that it would take me weeks to share it all. I can not recommend MomHeart enough if you have the opportunity to attend. And in the meantime, you can visit the MomHeart blog, Sally's blog, and Sarah Mae, too. And I'm over at Love Makes a Family if you'd like to stop by and follow our adoption journey.