{When Haiti and America Collide} Grafted In.

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Three years ago, when I met John Robert, I did not expect him to become anything more to me than a friend. I was impressed by his intelligence, analytical skills, and most importantly his heart. The heart he has for his country and for those serving to walk alongside his people is extraordinary. I think I assumed he’d be someone I’d see in Haiti during my visits, and someone I would stay in contact with through Facebook.

However, God had other plans for our relationship. The details are unique and completely God orchestrated. They may even seem bizarre to most, but today, three years later, I view him as a son. No, he’s not been adopted, but he has been grafted into our family. He attends family functions, checks-in daily, uses me as a sounding board when life is tough because his mom isn’t easily accessible since she’s still in Haiti. He always makes sure I’m ok, urges me to slow down and take time for myself, and shows genuine appreciation for our friendship daily!

I am grateful for his friendship and honored to be Mama H to him here in the States. I know his mom misses him, but am hopeful that she knows he’s well-loved while here in the US.

John Robert is a gift; one I didn’t expect or deserve.

 

For more details about JR, visit fundly!

Tell me: Do you have a son like JR?

{Foster Parenting} Affirmation Part I

In a recent post Reggie Joiner,  says parents are responsible to fight for their children’s heart. As parents, we make the rules, we expect our children to follow those rules, and we create routines to help shape their lives around these rules. However, at the end of the day, I want our daughter, or any child in our care, to see that we care about their heart more than the rules. We care about the way they see themselves in our eyes as well as in their own. My job as a mom is to fight for little momma’s heart.

One way I fight for her heart is by affirming her in love. Despite all the rules, I try to be intentional about showering her with love through affirmation. This, to me, helps quiet negative self-talk and peer talk. I first got the idea long before we had a kiddo from Priscilla Shirer.  She speaks life into her boys before she drops them off at school. I do the same for little momma. Here’s what I say everyday:

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And you know, I didn’t think she listened… But she does! I know because the other day when I sneezed and  pulled into school forgetting to finish the spill,  she said, “um… You forgot you are being shaped to be a woman of valor and poise”. That my friend is a parenting win. When you parent from hard places like J and I do, you don’t necessarily get a lot of positive feedback. But when you hear your child repeat the words you’ve been speaking over them, you know in your heart of hearts that you are doing the right thing!

Tell me: How do you speak life over your children?

2015 Whitney English Day Designer Enchancements.

I received my Whitney English Day Designer in the mail today and I’m thrilled!

This is the second year I’ve splurged on this planner and I can honestly say it’s the best planner I’ve ever owned.

This year, the planner got a minor face lift and the results are spectacular.

Here are a few revisions from last year planner that I think are worth mentioning:

Corner Protectors. Yes, my corners bent a bit this year, but I chalked it up to wear and tear! However, these protectors will help the Day Designer stay beautiful all year long.

A Pocket. This is something I actually missed after previously using the Erin Condren planner. However, in 2015, crisis averted! We’ve got a pocket.

The paper. The paper feels a little different aesthetically  and is white. I love this change.

Important Things + Victory List. This page is new to the 2015 designer and I am excited.

2016  Sheets. Now, if an appointment is scheduled during the next calendar year, I can jot it down without trying to remember to transfer from one calendar to the next. Brilliant!

Choose your design. Oh, and there are additional design options this year.

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If you don’t know about Whitney English, you should! Visit her  on Etsy and get a jump start on 2015. You won’t regret it!

A disclaimer: Whitney English doesn’t know who I am (sadly) and hasn’t endorsed this post!

Tell me: What’s your favorite planner?

{Minimalist Wanna Be} Reduce Waste.

I generate a lot of trash, use a lot of water, and that’s just to live like an average American. Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven states that Americans generate 4.6 pounds of waste per day, per person. That’s 251 million tons per year.

I want to be different. I want a life that operates on less. After talking to my friend Meagan about  about the simple ways we generate waste, I thought about the three ways I could reduce waste this week.

Here’s what I did:

  • Opted out of junk mail. The registration process was easy and our household will generate less trash as a result.
  • Stopped using ziploc bags. When I pack little momma’s lunch every day, I use two new ziploc bags. Now, I am using the containers that came with her lunch box (shocking, I know) and just clean them as needed (thank you jelly!).
  • Cut out a shower a week. While it may sound trivial to you, this is one of my greatest pleasures! From what I found online, a shower uses about 2.5 gallons per minute. This means a 10 minute shower uses around 25 gallons of water.

These changes, while simple, helped shine a light on other ways I generate waste. I have a long way to go, but it is my intention to be a better steward of resources available to me.

Tell me: Have you made small changes to reduce waste? If so, how?

 

{Foster Parenting} A Prayer for Birth Parents

I’ve been thinking a lot about the families that have children displaced from their home and/or fear that as a possible outcome. I feel the only way we can truly have compassion and work in partnership as foster parents with these individuals is to pray. As a result, I’m sharing my prayer with you… Because perhaps like me, you’ve struggled with finding the right words for days. Hope this helps someone along the way as it’s helped me!

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the mothers and fathers around the globe that gave birth to children when the odds were stacked against them. Thank you for giving them the heart to give life when an alternative would have seemed easier. Thank you for giving them a bond with their child, in the womb and today, no matter how far the distance.

Lord, I pray for those parents hurting because of their histories and the guilt the carry because of their life circumstance. I pray that you rid them from the bondage of sin and give them the ability to become white as snow! I ask that you move in their lives today and tomorrow giving them a peace that surpasses understanding. I pray that because of you they no longer view their history or decisions as curses or failures, but as opportunities to improve their lives. An opportunity to start fresh, a life sold out to you, free from sin, mistakes, and guilt! (Isaiah 1:18)

Father, I pray for those parents that do not have children in their home right now. I pray for their courage to discern the right move for their children. I pray that if reconciliation is the best, you facilitate a way for them to move past their history and into a bright future. I pray that if permanent placement outside of the birth home is the best solution, that you give the birth parents and their children a fresh start free of emotional baggage, feelings of failure, and lies. Thank you for giving these parents hearts to love their children enough to set them free. (2 Corinithians 5:17)

Thank you for giving foster and adoptive parents the option to help restore the lives of children. Thank you for placing these children in environments full of love and light. Thank you for giving birth families peace during times of uncertainty and transition. Thank you for giving them an understanding and for seeking YOU more and themselves less! Thank you for giving the children a peace that their parents love them and will continue to love them no matter the distance. Thank you for giving these children an opportunity to break generational cycles and to excel beyond their wildest dreams! (John 3:30)

I pray as these parents move towards healing and into a new season of life that you guide them, console them, and fill them up. I rebuke any spirit that tries to attach itself to them to keep them stagnant, confused, or fuels a spirit of manipulation. I pray that you guard their minds, their body and their spirits from behaviors that go against your kingdom and your will. Thank you for setting your children, no matter the age, on a course of freedom. Thank you for working in our hearts and our minds when our flesh desires to rebel. (Phillipians 4:7)

You are the God of the Universe. You are the healer of hearts. You are close to the broken hearted. You are Lord. At this time, I thank you for these families when they feel broken, confused, and frustrated. I thank you for the special annointing you are going to release upon them and pray for your continued guidance in their lives. In your heavenly name, Amen. (Psalm 34:18)

{When Haiti and America Collide} Fall Favorites.

This weekend was awesome because JR was home for Fall break. I’m grateful to be able to experience Fall with him. It is my favorite season and I love sharing it with others.

We went to Halloween Express, decorated pumpkins, and bet on the ponies at Keeneland. We had a blast!


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Halloween Express reminded JR a bit of  Haiti’s Carnaval (think Mardi Gras) because of the masks. He was impressed by the selection and taken back by the price tag of these seasonal items.

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Every year in our home, my friends from High School come over and decorate pumpkins! JR decorated his pumpkin in honor of his country.

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One of the things I treasure most about JR being in KY is the new friends I’ve been able to make. We spent the afternoon with Megan and Fiona (a classmate of JR’s) at Keeneland. Fiona and JR took in all the things… the good and the bad!

We had a wonderful weekend! I can’t wait until he’s home for his next visit!

For more details about JR, visit fundly!

{Foster Parenting} Helpful Reads.

Throughout our foster parenting journey, I’ve found reading incredibly helpful. It quiets my thoughts and gives me new perspectives on topics.

Here’s a list of my favorites:

  • Dave Thomas Foundation– The site has robust resources for families interested in adoption as well as some other really great facts.
  • Pam Parish– Her devotion and blog is really helpful for families seeking to stay grounded in faith as they grow through foster and adoption.
  • The Connected Child Great insight on how to push through barriers and connect with your child.
  • Jen Hatmaker– If you rifle through all of her other awesome topics, you’ll learn a lot from her international adoption journey.

These resources have helped me feel more prepared to conquer the uncharted waters of parenting and have also opened the window to other resources related to parenting in general.

Tell me: What’s your favorite resource for parenting?

{Minimalist Wanna Be} Capsule Wardrobe

Recently, I’ve found myself consumed with the minimalist movement. The idea that less is more goes far beyond economic rewards. It is a philosophical decision. Editing life and cutting back to leave margin for more relational value means a lot to me.

One way I’ve edited my life is by creating a capsule wardrobe. After many Pinterest pins, YouTube videos, and the blog Project 333,  I finally created my Capsule Wardrobe.

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In my closet today, you’ll find 45 items (no, it’s not 33, but I’m not necessarily focused on following the guidelines to a T). This includes: my uniform tops for work, UK gear for games, my capsule clothes and a couple of oversized sweatshirts for lazy days at home. I’ve edited my closet in order to free up space mentally from the “what to wear” dialogue. I’ve edited my wardrobe understanding that I’m not a fashion blogger and don’t have to have the latest trends (it’s not bad, it’s awesome! But… it’s not for me). I’ve edited my wardrobe and created a remix of outfits so I don’t look at my closet and think “I have nothing to wear” and then spend my financial resources on “one and done” items. I’ve edited my wardrobe so I can be, free.

 

Tell me: Have you ever thought about creating a capsule wardrobe?

{Foster Parenting} The Choice

Early this summer, Jason and I made the decision to become foster parents. We believe that all kiddos deserve love and need someone fighting for them. So, we took a leap.

We signed up to complete an eleven week certification at our local Cabinet for Health and Family Services. This course entailed surrendering our Saturday mornings, home visits, physicals, home studies, background checks, fingerprinting, and a lot of faith.

After eleven weeks of hard work, we were approved to become foster parents. We put in the work so we could extend hope to a child (or children someday) in need. Maybe you have the same desire, but are scared. Let me tell you, if we can do it, you can too!

Here are some facts that helped us make the choice:

  • There are over 7,800 kids from ages of birth to 21 who are living in out of home care in Kentucky.
  • Many have brothers and sisters who are also in need of care.
  • They represent all races and many ethnic groups.
  • Most have suffered some type of abuse/or neglect by their birth family.
  • Their needs may include medical problems, physical disabilities, developmental delays or behavioral and emotional disabilities.
  • Many infants who come into care have experienced prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol.
  • Most (75 percent) are able to return home when their birth families or relatives can provide appropriate care for them.
  • Many utilize programs that assist them in obtaining education and job skill training after high school graduation.
Tell me: Have you ever thought about foster parenting? If so, let me know. I’d love to help guide you through the process.

Life Turns.

I’ve been working through Donald Miller’s Life Plan and spent some time reflecting on the major life events. I took an inventory of both positive and negative life turns and was surprised.

I realized while going through these experiences, especially the ones I initially viewed as negative, I learned a lot about myself. God’s provision for my life was greater than the immediate. When it felt like the end, it was really just the beginning. In circumstances where life wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I was many times being spared from something much harder down the road.

After I wrote these life turns on paper and reflected on them, I realized this is why it’s so important to praise God during the storm. I realized I missed so much of the journey, because I was so focused on what I didn’t have or what I perceived as lost. Now, upon reflection, I’m reminded of his faithfulness to me, my family, and my support network. Perhaps the next time, I’ll remember God is worthy to be trusted and when it feels like despair, he is at work.

Tell me: Have you ever thought about your life turns and how they’ve impacted YOU?

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