Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When God Says "Not Yet"

So this week is National Infertility Awareness week.  Who knew?  Not to make light of it, but man, there is a week (or month) for everything these days!  Nearly every illness, every disorder, every issue or problem has a day/week/month set aside to make people aware of it.  So this is the week to make people aware of the problem of infertility.

Infertility is rough, y'all.  When you desperately want to be a mom, or dad, and it's just not happening for you, it's not an easy place to be.  While all of your friends and family are years-deep into that stage of life, an you have yet to experience even a second of it, it is really disheartening.  And sadly, so many couples go through it completely alone. 

If that's you, I'm so sorry!  There's nothing I can say that you probably haven't already heard, and no words (of mine) that will truly give you comfort.  Waiting is hard. It stinks. It hurts.

You know what though, this problem that our family went through turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of mine and Kevin's life.  God has a way of using things that we think of as problems and turning them into something beautiful, all for His glory.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose for them.  
Romans 8:28

Girls especially often dream of being a Mommy one day.  In fact, Kevin puts Kate to bed each night and he always asks her "Kate, what is the most important thing?", and she'll tell him "To love Jesus."  Then he says "And if you love Jesus, then what can you do?".  She answers with "Anything I want!"  Sometimes she'll say she wants to be a soldier, or a doctor, or a teacher but most often, I hear her say she wants to be a mommy.  That makes my mommy-heart pretty happy!  (I especially love it when she says she wants to be a teacher AND a mommy.  That's right kid, you can do both!)

If you're like me, I've always known that I wanted to be a parent, so it wasn't a matter of IF, it was a matter of WHEN.  It is definitely a test of your faith and trust when the WHEN doesn't happen on your time table. 

When I was a little kid, or a teenager, or even a young adult, I would have never imagined the path my husband and I would take to become parents.  And now, I'm so thankful for how God led our family to this place.  Adoption isn't in every family's future, but it was exactly where God led us.  He knew when he created them that Kate and Karsten would be our children. And yet again, His plans are way better than anything I'd envisioned. 

So if you're stuck in the infertility stage of your life, if you're desiring to be a parent, but the answers to your prayers so far have been "Not yet," just hang on, and trust that God loves you and wants the best for you.  It might not be when you planned, how you planned or even what you planned ... but it might be so much better!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

You Can't Have It All ... Can You?

A few years ago at work, a large group of women read the book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook.  The premise of the book is that women need to "lean in" and be proactive to achieve leadership roles in their careers, rather than backing down from those roles.  The book was great, and I recommend it to anyone, but especially to any of you who are working moms.  Sheryl addressed that one phrase that all working moms probably cringe when they hear- you can have it all!

Sheryl Sandberg: No one can have it all. That language is the worst thing that’s happened to the women’s movement. You know, no one even bothers to apply it to men. It’s really pressure on women. I think what happens to women is we compare ourselves at home to the women who are work-at-home mothers and we fall short. Compared to them, I fall short every day. And then you can compare yourself at work to some women but mostly men who have no other responsibilities, really. They go home whenever they want. And you can feel bad there, too.
So we can spend all our time feeling terrible about how we’re lousy workers and lousy mothers. And, by the way, I do this a lot. All of us do. Or we can start realizing that we can be great mothers. The data on this is super clear: you can be a very successful parent with a great relationship with thriving children and have a full-time job. And you can be a great worker and a great colleague at work but not be there for 12 hours a day in person. And I think we have to let ourselves do that.

Ah - you know!  That is totally me.  If I feel like I'm giving enough time to one thing in my life, I feel like I'm not giving enough time to another.  A few weeks ago, Kate was begging me to take her to school in the morning, which is typically something that Kevin does.  At the time, I just couldn't swing it because work was so busy and that would make me an hour and a half late.  I felt awful because I was letting my kid down, and I really wanted to be the one to drop her off sometimes and see her skip (or run!) into school.  But I couldn't.  And sometimes that part just really stinks. Working-mommy guilt is real!

But the guilt is not just for our families.  It's for our careers, for our friendships, and for our other activities.

I think we tell ourselves that we can have it all to make us feel better about the guilt.  Here are just a few of the complaints I was giving to myself:
I don't have enough time for ...
I wish I could commit more time to ...
I wish I was able to ...
I hope I can...

And as I started thinking about those complaints, I recognized that they had one big thing in common: "I".  They were all about my time, my wants, my dreams, and my desires, all in the pursuit of "having it all".  And as I was praying and asking for help fitting everything in, this is what hit me:

God didn't create you so you could have it all, He created you so He could be your all.

We weren't made for US.  We were made for God, and we were made to glorify Him.  In Isaiah 43:7 we are told "Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my Glory. It is I who created them."

While it is true that God loves us, He didn't create us to live in a big house, have lots of friends, enjoy trips to the beach, and to just have a good life.  That's not why he made us!  He told us why He made us - to bring HIM glory.

We get so caught up in LIFE, and in the me's and the my's, we forget about our purpose for being here, which is to bring Him glory.  And by bringing glory to Him by loving Him, serving Him, and sharing Him, I'll experience more joy than I ever would have been able to create on my own.

Kevin used to teach our youth, and he always explained that to glorify God simply means to make God look good.  That's it.

So at home, at work, at Kate's soccer practice, at church, when I'm out to eat with friends, when I'm waiting to pick up my dry cleaning, when I'm grocery shopping, or when I'm driving down the road, I'll keep in mind that my focus is to make God look good.  My attitude, my conversation, and my actions are a representation of who I am and whose I am.

And I'll mess up. Constantly.  But I know that Jesus has already paid the price for those mess ups, and when I ask for forgiveness and help, He will give it. 

And you know, even though I wasn't created to "have it all" in the Americanized definition of the phrase, I really DO actually "have it all" in the gospelized definition of the phrase.  In Him, I have everything that I have ever wanted or needed.  Through Jesus, I have it all.  He is my all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Karsten - 18 Months

Another milestone for this little one. 18 months! (Technically, this was back on April 6th.) I can't even believe it. So here is what she is up to...

I've always felt like Karsten was my tiny little girl, and then in the last few weeks I think she hit a growth spurt and just took off!  She's still wearing Size 3 diapers, but only until we run out of the pack we are on.  We're about to move up to Size 4's!  She's wearing 18-24 month clothes and can wear some 2T, thought it's still a little big on her.  She is in a size 5 shoe.

We went to the doctor for her 18 month well check and she is in the 77th percentile for height and 66th percentile for weight.

Karsten is a talker, for sure.  She can say more words than I can even type, and is stringing them together into phrases.  My favorites are:

"Hey baby!"

"Lion Guard!" or "Mickey Mouse", as she points to the TV.  And then if you pick up the remote, she starts saying "That one!!"

If you ask her where something is, she will put out her hands, palms facing up and say "Ohnt know!" (i.e. - I don't know)

Anytime we are in the car, she yells over and over and over (and over) "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!"

She LOVES to listen Rockin' Robin by Jackson Five.  You can sing the song to you and she'll insert the "tweets" when applicable. 

The Frozen obsession has already started.  When I put the girls in the bath tub at night, Karsten immediately starts saying "Elsa! Anna! Olaf!" and pointing at the rubber bath toys.  She also has a toy microphone that she will walk around the house with, while singing "Goooo!!!", which is her version of "Let It Go".

If you ask her what her name is, she will proudly tell you "Kate!".  She also knows how to spell Kate.

She can count to 10, and can say many of the numbers between 11-20, but she's just kind of iffy on that.

She knows some of the ABC's, but again, she'll just say random mumbled letters. "G...R...S...M!!!"

Our church has doors that lock with a screwdriver (they are the industrial kind of doors like at a school).  We are obviously often the very last people to leave church, because Karsten has figured out how to lock the door.  We will be standing in the foyer, and Karsten will decide that it is time to leave. So she'll walk over to where we keep the screwdriver, get it out, walk over to the door, and try to stick it in the slot.  She'll play with it for a minute and then go put the screwdriver back up and look at us like "All ready!"  Funny girl!

A few nights ago, we were all playing outside in the driveway.  Karsten was about 1/2 way down the driveway, and Kate was at one end riding her bicycle.  Kate asked me to race, so she and I got beside each other and I said "On your mark. Get set. Go!" and off we went. I looked up to see Karsten (who had a HUGE head start on us), running as fast as she could go.  When she got to the end of the driveway, she threw her hands up in the air and started yelling "I won! I won! I won!!".

She is still tender-hearted and gets her feelings hurt SO easily.  A simple no will put her into tears, and if you discipline her, she sticks out that bottom lip and lowers her head into the funniest pout.

She is SUPER attached to her stuffed bunny.

We stopped giving her a bottle during the day around the one-year mark, but I've continued giving her a bottle at night. She is most likely our last baby, and I just haven't been ready to give it up. I made a promise to myself to stop it by 18 months... and that's what I did.  On the night she turned 18 months (April 6th) she got her last bottle, and that's been it.  She has asked for it a few times but I've easily distracted her and it's been fine. I guess I really can put up the bottles now.

I really love our nighttime routine together.  She and I will read a Bible story and rock, and then she'll put down the book and tell me "Pray!". A few nights ago she said the sweetest prayer ever:
"Dear God. Tank you. Jesus. Amen."

There's nothing better.

We are SO very thankful that this sweet girl is a part of our family.  It's only been 18 months but it feels like she's been a part of our family forever.  Her personality keeps coming out, and I can't wait to see her explore the world even more. She loves her big sister, she loves her mama and she loves her daddy.  And without a doubt, we love her too!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter 2016

Today is the celebration of the greatest day in history.  It's Easter, y'all.

You know - most people celebrate a person's life.  And while Jesus' life was pretty special, it's His DEATH and then RESURRECTION that we really celebrate.  I'm so thankful that He took my place on that cross to pay the debt for my sins.  No greater gift.  

My parents came up for the day.  Davis was out of town so Kristi came on over too, and we all went to church together.  I taught our 3 year olds through 1st graders, and while I missed being able to worship with my family, today was an extra-special day to get to teach our kids about Jesus!

After lunch at Fatz (because the restaurant that we TRIED to go to was closed), we all went back to our house to see if the Easter bunny had come.  He did not disappoint. 

New swimsuits, sunglasses, water bottles, note pads, bubbles and of course some candy (or yogurt packs)!   We did a little indoor easter egg hunting, and then stepped outside to take a few quick pictures. 

Our family sure has grown in the past few years.  Our girls have gotten so big, not to mention that we have TWO of them.  I sure do love our family and thank God for them daily.  Here's what our Easter has looked like the past few years: 

Happy, happy Easter! 

He is Risen!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy (or Sad) Feet?

Kate had her very first (ever!) soccer game last week.  Unfortunately, her first soccer practice got rained out so they only had ONE practice before games started.  And only one kid on our whole team had ever played soccer before. AND, the first team we played against were all 5 year olds who had played together last year.  Needless to say, the game didn't go so well and Kate was not impressed.  This picture does a pretty great job of describing her first soccer game...

See the cute kid in pink?  See the ball?  Yep - that is pretty much how it went.

I will say, the first 20 minutes or so was warm-up and practice. THIS part, Kate loved.

And then it was game-time.  Time to huddle up and strategize.

We had 8 kids on our team, and they played 4v4 on a pretty small field.  For a competitive person, it was painful to watch.  One of our kids cried the whole time she was on the field.  One ran around trying to pick it up. Kate kept running off of the field to get a sip of water, or to "rest" or asking for a snack. 

She touched the ball a handful of times, but mostly just ran around.  At this point, none of our kids really get the concept of soccer, except that you don't touch the ball with your hands. (Well, we do have that one kid that doesn't get that part yet either...)

This may be the one time Kate really had the ball! What you don't see is that when the other 7 kids swarmed her, she stopped, put her hands up and then turned around and walked off of the field.  I asked her what happened and she said "They stepped on my toes!"

I sure do love this kid.  She may not know much about soccer.  Shoot - she may not ever even like sports at all.  But that's okay.  One thing that she is great at is making friends.  I hope that never changes!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hello! (SUYL)

Call me tired, or call me lazy.  Either way, the blog has been a bit on the back burner lately and I've let it go more than I ever intended.  I've decided that THIS week is going to be the week for me to catch up.  At least I think it is.  I hope it is!  Regardless, I'm going to try.  Ha!

One of the very first blogs that I ever started reading was Kelly's Korner.  She just re-started one of her blogging series so I figured this was as good of a time as any to recommit to blogging regularly. So, I'm joining up with her on the "Show Us Your Life" series, which first starts off with introducing yourself and your family.  Here goes...

I'm Kelley.  I'm a 29+2 year old CPA and I've been blogging for five years now, which is just crazy for me to think about.  My husband, Kevin, is a pastor and he and I have been married since August 2007.  I first started this blog back in 2011 when we started our adoption journey with Bethany Christian Services.

Our daughter Kate was born in August 2011 and a few years later we adopted again and brought Karsten home.  Kate is our outgoing, strong willed, independent, spunky girly-girl.  Karsten is more reserved and a mamas girl!  As any parent would say, our life is definitely a bit crazier than it was before kids, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  God has greatly blessed our family with these two girls! (You can read more about their adoptions here: Adoption #1 and here Adoption #2)

I'm a Clemson alumni (Go Tigers!) and a definite southern girl, who could eat Mexican food and drink sweet tea every day.  We live in upstate SC with our two golden labradors, Max and Cooper.

If you have followed me for any amount of time, you'll know that I blog mostly about my family and my faith.  I'm so very thankful for the grace of Jesus, and can't help but share it.

I hope you'll join me, and I can't wait to meet new friends along the way!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun

Winter is such a hard time of year when you've got little kids.  Right?  Right.  The sun goes down at 5pm and it is freezing outside, so you're forced to stay inside ALL THE TIME.  Cabin fever is real, y'all.

Earlier this week, the sun (and warmth) finally came out!!  And you better believe we took advantage of it.

A little sunshine, a little chalk - these two were good to go!

Karsten LOVES to color.  She is happiest with a marker in her hand, so when she saw all of the chalk, she let out the happiest shrieks and kept yelling "Colors! Colors!"

And Kate was pretty thrilled too.  She is our little artist, and drew about 15 colorful hearts all over our sidewalk.  

 What better way to lead you to our front door than a pathway of happy hearts?

We are so thankful for this sunny, warm, spring day in March and look forward to more to come!

Mwah!  Welcome spring!  We hope you are here to stay.


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