Dexflex comfort ballet flats are my go to all time favorite shoes. I mean, like wear right out of the box shoes! I wear them out and then just go to Payless Shoe Source and buy a new pair. I even tried to find higher end ballet flats…. but none could compare with the comfort of these! Right now they have cute gold pairs too… perfect for spring!
Dr. Suess Day at school (which is usually on his birthday March 3rd) is doable when you have four kids in elementary school. Dr. Suess WEEK however…. is stressful and makes me feel like I need to hold a fundraiser or ask for sponsors or something. You should have seen the look on my face when Jack’s teacher said… “Hey, Monday is Wocket in my Pocket Day… so lots of Pockets!!!” What the heck??? I think I muttered something like… “okay, because pockets all over outfits are so easy to come by”
I’m pretty positive that Dairy gives me sinus infections. As much as I like drinking lattes or Brahms hot fudge sundaes whenever lately I’ve had several dairy things close together… bam! sinus infection!
That being said my new drink of choice at the ‘bucks…is a Iced Tall Decaf Americano with a splash of soy! (I know, soy is not ideal… but it’s the lesser of several evils. I may eventually do almond milk, but… for some reason it doesn’t carry the flavor as well as soy)
“Get that pervert out of our Christian school, he has no business being around or teaching our kids. He needs to be fired!” (and he almost was)
“We need to go wash our sheets that he slept on because we don’t want our family to get AIDS.”
“Dan, do not talk about your past with people here, because you and I both know the minute you do, your ministry here is over.”
“Don’t you wish he lusted after women? Wouldn’t you want that?”
“If we had known he would have ongoing struggles with same sex attraction we’d never have given you our blessing to get married. We wanted better for our daughter”
“You know he’ll never amount to anything important in the Southern Baptist Convention because of his past. There will be so many churches who will never have him on staff because of this.”
“It’s tough in a normal marriage with normal kids… I can’t imagine how hard your marriage is and add on to that having 6 adopted kids (so issues there).”
“I feel sorry for women in marriages like that (where one spouse struggles with SSA), I wouldn’t know what I would do if my husband didn’t love me”
“Dan, if you would just love Jesus more than you love yourself then you could stop being same sex attracted today.”
All of these statements were said to us or about us by well meaning believers… believers who I call friends and family. Thankfully God has surrounded us with a ton of amazing people who see through the lens of the Gospel and who have come along side of us and who speak life giving truth and grace over our lives and marriage. I do not share these so that you will feel sorry for us or be offended for us. Rather, I want to point out that, while these statements aren’t ones I’ll soon forget and they do hurt, I know that often they stem out of fear and a man centered view of life.
I wanted to take some time to blog about my marriage. Not to set anyone straight or to prove anything but just in hopes that it will encourage you where you’re at in life, especially when that life doesn’t look anything like you once thought it would.
I’ll never forget our first date when Dan shared with me about his recent departure from a life that involved having a boyfriend and an identity that was wrapped up in his sexual preferences. We both knew that neither of us were ready to pursue something serious at that time and I’m so glad that God gave us the next four years to cultivate a friendship that would be the bedrock of our marriage to come. I remember journaling one time during those 4 years… “while marriage might not be in our future it’s clear that God’s hand is obviously on this guys life and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.”
God was gracious and gave us chemistry together. But I will say over and over that it was our walk with God that ignited our hearts and pulled us together. Chemistry without a Greater Love is something that can fade and prove weak when it comes to weathering the storms and temptations life throws at us.
On our wedding day we went into marriage with eyes wide open and hopeful hearts. We didn’t know what would come our way by way of trials and temptations…. honestly, we didn’t fully know how the experience of intimacy would go. I think we just trusted that God was leading us into covenant and He was big enough to handle all of our fears and whatever marriage together would bring. Both of us had taken the time to pray and seek wisdom when it came to getting married and neither of us felt pressured into getting married to prove anything.
Now, like most marriages, I think we went into marriage with great optimism and hopeful that our sin struggles wouldn’t rear their poisoning heads. BUT of course marriage is fertile soil for conflict, selfishness and unmet expectations. Both of us have struggled with sexual temptations. I would be lying if I said that Dan’s same-sex attraction hasn’t impacted our marriage, because it has. But, so has several of my ingrained patterns of sin. Often sexual sin gets the spotlight while self righteousness or laziness or a host of other sins slips under the radar of others looking in. When left unchecked, oh how that can do great harm to a marriage as well. However, the problem is not when Sin is in a marriage but when a sinners heart is hardened to the Holy Spirit or lacks the belief that we have a Savior who wants us, in all our sin and shame, to run to Him. When we choose to identify with him because of being united with him, we begin to experience not the absence of struggle but joy giving freedom in the midst of it! As we continue to say yes to Christ, our yes to each other deepens and our covenant with Christ is the basis of our ongoing covenant with each other.
Everyday we have to choose each other, say yes to each other. Everyday we have to die to ourselves. Everyday we have to see marriage for what it truly is; a shadow, a temporary shadow of what is to come. You see, marriage isn’t ultimate. It’s not the end all. It’s not a mark of christian maturity. It’s not better than singleness and it’s not forever. It’s a daily outworking of a true and better picture that will one day be our eternal reality. It’s a catalyst for refining and accountability and togetherness. It is matrix for joy and pleasure! Dan and I find that when the focus is Christ in our marriage then those blessings abound. God transforms our natural desires for pleasure, for comfort, for ease, for a life that makes much of ourselves into desires that find pleasure in holiness and putting others before ourselves, that finds fulfilment in the struggle of living out a life that isn’t primarily about our needs and wants, that finds great comfort in trusting the sovereign creator of marriage and abundant joy when every aspect of our lives strive to make much of our Savior!
I didn’t marry the kind of man my parents prayed I would, I didn’t marry the kind of man I prayed to marry. Because I didn’t pray that I would marry a sinful man who would teach me what it looks like to fall on his face in repentance. I didn’t pray that I would marry a man who would be tempted in a way that would force him to battle shame and guilt with the truth of the gospel (where there is NO place for shame or guilt). I didn’t pray to marry someone who we feared if churches or schools would shun him if they knew his story of coming to faith and his ongoing struggle for purity and holiness. I didn’t pray to marry someone whose story and call to ministry would give me eyes to see the marginalized and outcast.
I’m so glad God didn’t give me exactly what I prayed for. He gave me so much more! The theme of loving the giver of all good things instead of idolizing the actual good things started with my marriage and has resounded again and again in grief, in parenting, in ministry and in so much of my day to day walk with Jesus.
I’m sure we will get plenty more of well meaning questions and concerns in the years to come. Hopefully, it’s not by our wisdom, or any system of sanctification we’ve found, or by our experience that we will respond. Rather, we will respond that it’s God’s wisdom, and sovereignty, and His power that we can stand and say that He was made strong in our weakness. He made beauty in the brokenness, His mighty hand lifted us out of darkness and into the light, He made sense of the confusion, He gave us an identity that is rooted in something far greater than any identity we could take on otherwise!
Now, I know that many reading this might be in marriages where your spouse.. or you isn’t finding your identity in Christ. That their/your sexual desires are running rampant and are causing great harm to your marriage. That everything in them/you says this marriage isn’t what you were made to feel/experience and that it feels more like a prison than a place of happiness. And please know that I don’t minimize the impact that same sex attraction or having a homosexual orientation has on a relationship. But I do know there is hope. And that hope is found in a body of believers who will point you to the only One who can change hearts and make sense of the brokenness. You need people in your lives who will not place shame and guilt upon you or your marriage and will speak the gospel into your life. You need a family who will be there when things fall apart or when plans go so painfully opposite from what you ever dreamed. If you don’t have that kind of church…. contact us through the Identify Network. We want to be here for you and point you towards His Gospel and His People!
HERE is the Full Series of my 2016 Goal Setting Posts. So far I’ve taken a look at hard things that God brought us through, What DID work, some of my favorite things about 2015 and exciting things ahead. Now I’m going to jump in a write about what did NOT work. These aren’t necessarily things that are bad that happened, or things I didn’t enjoy or I’m not glad I did… they are things that upon retrospect aren’t what’s best right now for our family or for me personally.
Wanting to have a back up plan: For the few few months of starting The Identify Network Dan and I were often combing job sites because we didn’t know how this was going to work. We felt like when we were doing that we were only one foot into this ministry that we were beginning. It left us spending energy we didn’t have on fearing that this wasn’t going to work out. It’s tough, we’ve had months that going into the month we had under two thousand dollars for everything! Rarely since starting has the finances made since on paper or go according to plan. God worked on our hearts and at some point even when jobs called us back for follow ups we said… no, we don’t need a net. If God wants this to go in a different direction then we will go in that direction but it won’t be because we were scared to walk down this path all the way it led.
Not having a menu plan: I think this was on my what didn’t work last year too. Maybe this year with the kids in school this might be a little more within my reach. Maybe. I think maybe having theme days might be more my speed. I am however so grateful for the meals that were provided to us once we brought Isla home! Such a blessing.
Weight watchers: I joined. I went every week for 3 months. I was encouraged. I loved it. I just didn’t DO it. So I couldn’t justify spending more money on it. Dan and I have very different eating habits that often sabotage each other. So we have to find something that works for us both. Generally something more paleo is more helpful for both of us.
Cleaning Cloths: Cloth Napkins work for us so I thought let’s get rid of paper towels all together and use cloths for cleaning and such too. I grabbed a big pack of yellow rags from Costco and we used them for probably 5 months. But they just aren’t for me. Once they get wet they get gross and too hard to keep what was on them separate… like, did this rag I’m using to wipe the table come into contact with raw meat during dinner prep? So I’m going back to Paper Towels and not feeling guilty about it.
Stress/Weight Gain/Hives… So I guess the last three things probably should just be grouped together. I’m going to blame the adoption process on this one though. Stress. My body has a freaky weird way of letting me know I’m stressed without me actually realizing I am. One morning I woke up and was covered in head to toe hives. I tried everything I knew to do, as hives were not a stranger to me back in my working days as a wedding photographer, but nothing was working. NOTHING. So I ended up in the E.R. and they gave me four medications that I tried the lesser of until I finally had to take the Steroids. That took care of it pretty much that day… but by day 3 of my 5 day script, I had to stop. I was turning into a crazy lady. But they didn’t come back thank goodness. Since then I’ve been doing things to help with the stress load I’m carrying, little by little. A few weeks ago Dan and I went to a 2 hour professional counseling session and it was SO GOOD! (I think EVERYONE should go to counseling! But we had just let life take over.
Being critical of my husbands purchases: You guys, adoption processes are notorious for making you want to control something, because you often feel so out of control about the adoption. I battle with wanting to be in charge and have things my way in our marriage already… but the past few months it was in super mode. Particularly in the area of making purchases. He’s a spender, I’m a saver. Both have it’s benefits and downfalls. Mine is that I nit pick everything he gets and can be so critical about it. I can justify my criticalness in the name of wanting to be wise, but really most often it robbed me of joys and blessings that God wanted for me. (and often I conveniently overlook all the areas he has made sacrifices). For example, He bought a set of CD’s at a Shane + Shane Concert we went to and I thought we had a few of them already and commented about that in a critical way. Turns out we didn’t, and those CD’s have been like water to my soul the past month. God knew I needed the word sung over me in a way that my heart would listen and respond. Another instance was before I brought Isla home, he went to Target and bought a few throw pillows and a foot ottoman. I felt like it was not essential in such a time of financial unknowns…and fear kept me from being excited about them. But guess what, I’ve used those things with every single one of Isla’s feedings and they have been more useful than a whole host of nursery stuff, like I’ve even told new moms to register for those things! When will I trust that I have a lavish God who is at work in even the things my husband buys instead of feeling like God’s provision is based on how cheap we can be.
Being cheap with God’s resources: I went to SC/NC to visit some mom friends and in both homes I was overwhelmed by the trust they have in a God who they are dependent upon to provide month to month. My friend Mandie Joy, She is a single mama who is raising two adopted girls from Uganda as well as being a foster mama to whomever God brings into her home. Her trust in a lavish God struck me hard and showed me how often I bring God down to the size of my essential needs and not trust Him with the desires and dreams of my heart as well as believing He is the One who places those very things in my heart! She moved into a bigger house because God was giving her more people that needed a home. She wasn’t worried about the higher rent… or when she was, she took it to Him, trusting that He will come through. This isn’t to say that wisdom and sacrifice isn’t needed in our day to day views on finances…it is. It is to say that God’s provision for me isn’t based on my frugality or to say it another way, that my sacrifice somehow earns His provision. So I want to dream in Big ways (which might be in small things) and trust a Big God with the finances of it.
Homeschooling: IF both my husband and I were a committed unschoolers then this year would have been a success. I probably lean that direction (it’s a beautiful philosophy of education) but I’m also married to a teacher who loves structure and systems and so we kind of balance each other out in this area. I don’t regret one moment of this past year of studying my children and watching them learn. I just know going forward a change is needed. I tried doing Five in a Row thinking it would be a good starting point… and for some reason it wasn’t. I wanted it to be. And I do think that if I weren’t struggling in so many areas when it comes to discipline and order and health and ministry admin then it would probably be a good fit. But for now… education is going to be an area that we outsource to our neighborhood public school. Maybe that will allow me to focus on these other areas and live to homeschool another day… and maybe this will be what works for us year by year.
Music Camp: Zoe LOVED it her first year!! And so this year we sent Zoe, Jack and Ezra to this week where they learn a whole musical and perform it at the end of the week. I want to say it worked for us. But honestly, It was a brutal week. It definitely wasn’t Jack’s cup of tea and even Zoe found the whole of it to be kind of overwhelming. That’s not a bad thing per se but looking back… I just don’t know we will do it again this coming year. It wasn’t as life giving for our kids as VBS was.
obviously ezra’s mohawk didn’t work…well not for mama! he loved it.
Not having Cable: Y’all we cut cable in order to cut our budget and it was fine and we didn’t miss it too much. But we found after 6 months we would end up renting shows or movies and that cost us about the same. We are movie/T.V. people I guess. Dan and I often unwind watching shows in the evening. So we turned it back on…. and Dan’s kind of a political junkie so going into election season, well… we wanted to have it. Shows we are Loving right now are Madame Secretary, Code Black, and Blue Bloods.
We are also letting our kids watch the last farewell season of American Idol. I could just hear them in a few years going “what’s american idol” and realizing they missed out on almost 2 decades of the making of a musical star each year. So we record it and we watch it on Friday nights.
Texting/Emailing to try to solve conflict: Doesn’t work unless it’s something like an office/work/communication type of situation and it can often make things worse. It’s frustrating because you can’t hear tone and you have something to read and re-read over and over thus making the hurt and confusion all the more lasting. As a writer I tend to want to try to explain myself through words and thus can forget that face to face when possible is always a better option.
Letting Gratitude Paralyze me:
This one I wanted to emphasize because it was a huge one that did NOT work this year…or in the several years past. And it HAS to change in the coming year! There was so much that others did for us that I wanted to show my thankfulness in a way that really let them know just how grateful we are. SO… that started a reaction in me that wanted my Thank you to be on par with their generosity. And if I felt like it was inferior or small compared to what they did I would feel like it wasn’t worthy and thus would put it off until I felt like it was. This led to delayed communication, confusion to the giver as they probably felt like it wasn’t worth our time to say anything, being overwhelmed because I didn’t get the right card, didn’t have the right penmanship, didn’t have anything to offer back as a blessing…. so it would just go undone because I wanted it perfect. See how distorted it gets??? But it’s something that I struggled with a lot. This even applies to how I feel about God’s generosity to me… as seen in some of my above confessions. It’s not understanding how grace works at all.
For 2016 I want others generosity to free me to live out this life God’s given to us. I want to humbly enjoy to the fullest when others bless us and let them know even if it’s just a short text or email that they are loved and appreciated!! To trust that God is a much better blesser and knows their heart and their own needs and will abundantly bless them through their obedience and provide joy for us all!!!
One of my favorite things (among many) about this time of year is the reflective nature of looking back and the excitement of looking forward. I’ve always wanted to be a goal setter and a planner… but my fly by the seat of my pants/spontaneous/ENFP personality always seemed to get the better of me and then all those grand goals and ideas would stay swirling in my head making me even more less likely to focus and do all the things I knew God had created me to do.
That was until I met Lara Casey and attended a Making Things Happen workshop. Since then I’ve been writing out my goals and dreams and fears and just really being intentional about what I want to see happen in my life and in the life of my family. Have I accomplished near what I would have hoped to, nope… but have I done things that I never would have had I not followed these steps…you bet I have! And trust me you don’t have to have read her book, gone to the workshop or have the power sheets… although they all are incredible tools. Just go check out her blog and follow along and do her steps in a notebook if you want to. I promise you, if you’re anything like me, your brain will thank you for it.
Here are my posts from 2014. 2013 and 2012 are written on moleskine notebooks! So come along with me. As Lara said… “Thinking these things don’t count…. you have to write them somewhere.”
Weekly documenting my children’s lives. I was a part of a group of DFW photographers who weekly captured their children with their Big cameras. Having a weekly goal was super helpful in making myself stay in the habit of having my big camera out and ready. It also gave me lots of opportunity to capture video and thus giving me clips to make into our Video -Highlights!! HERE is our spring one and I’m still working on the ones from this summer/fall. Here are a few favorite images from my year with the DLC!
Going to the Linger Conference in Dallas. It was wonderful. It’s so refreshing. I have to be careful to expect each year to be the same experience for my soul and thus setting myself up for disappointment if it’s different or if God’s wanting to do something I’m not prepared for. But this year it was wonderful. I went with a friend who is a foster mom here in fort worth. I met new friends. And just had a great time of refreshment. I’m so excited that this coming year I get to bring my husband with me! (and a few friends I’m working on talking into coming as well!)
Going to see my brother at his army base. Ya’ll bringing a carload of kids anywhere is exhausting. The idea of going somewhere is grand but once it comes time to get them ready, pack the car and make sure you have what you need for the day away… well, it’s a lot. BUT I’m SO glad we headed to Fort Hood and got to spend the day with Uncle Mikey and Aunt Jyssica!! The kids got to see vividly where Uncle Mikey was serving and what it looks like to live on an army base. (even if we did get pulled over by base police for having too many kids not in carseats in Mikey’s car…. it was just to go a few blocks) He’s deployed to South Korea so be praying for him and his awesome wife Jyssica as she’s here holding down the fort.
Bible Explosion and VBS! Because well, it’s like a ton of fun and a lot of Jesus! Both McKinney and Redeemer did a great job of loving my kids and showing them a big God worthy of our worship!
Visiting other moms. Ya’ll I’m a visual learner. I need hands on practice. So something I’ve found SO helpful is going to visit friends who are rocking this mom thing… well, rocking in the sense that they need a Big God to help them get through each day and they are showcasing His goodness even in the toughest of situations! I want to watch mamas like that and phone chats and texting are great, but I want to be in their homes, I want to talk on the couch over coffee, I want to know their kids in person! So with the blessing of an awesome husband, I got on an airplane and hopped in my car and made it possible to spend time with a few mamas like that this year. They make me a better mom and a better child of God!! Each of them are so different and have vastly different ways of parenting and living and those differences are so good for me to soak in and try out and incorporate into my life. I’m a gleaner when it comes to parenting wisdom… We glean from many places and then with Gods help Dan and I customize it for our family!
Being IN photos. Truth be known, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and not proud of that fact. 2 losses and 6 adoption processes have not been kind to my waistline. But I am loved right now for who I am… and I want to document my life for my children and to look back on and remember. So I got in the photos. I hope to do more self care this coming year but this last year… I cared for others a lot and I’m in the picture to remember those moments of joy!!
Being a guest podcaster. Can I just say I LOVE PODCASTING!!! When I have the time I really like to listen to episodes, I’m hoping to have more time this year to listen to more. But I LOVE speaking on them. It’s like having the most fun conversation with a good friend that’s being recorded. Check out the one I did for the Influence Network HERE and for my friend Tiffany over at A mom’s mission field HERE.
Fundraising. After bringing two kiddos home from Africa, I didn’t know if I had what it took to do a fundraising campaign again. It’s A LOT of work!!! But when we were matched and had time on our hands and fees in front of us, We knew it was something we could do and just trust that God would provide as He always had before (with or without our fundraising efforts… HE ALWAYS COMES THROUGH!!! Just wanted those of you who are in the thick of it to read that and don’t ever forget it!!) Well the Best of Baskets were a big hit again and through the 3 we did not only did we help bring Twila home from China but we completely paid for our adoption fees and traveling and living in another state for a whole month! God used so many people in and through that as well as people and churches there in Las Vegas and here in Fort Worth!!
For those of you in the thick of raising money, I’m working on putting together a pdf on tips I found helpful in fundraising and doing the best of baskets. I highly recommend Julie Gumm’s website as well.
Getting the girls hair braided. Dan took the girls to Ya-Ya’s African House of braids the day before I brought Isla home and they got their hair put into braids with curls on the ends. We had put off doing anything like this before because 1. I knew they would instantly look older and I didn’t want them to grow up so fast! and 2. the money. Hair care for these gals aint cheap, but natural hair care is also super time consuming and tear producing. So with bringing a baby home we thought this was one area that we could help in the adjustment! And it was tough on them at first… but these girls have LOVED their long hair and it’s been so easy!! We will probably get them done 2-3 times a year and then let them go natural in the summer time since they are in the pool so much! I love watching them have so much fun with their hair. It’s worth every penny!
Pouring out my heart to friends when my brain felt like mush. More times than I’d like to admit I’d have a friend over to visit and we’d be sitting on the couch or at a coffee shop and my brain would just feel like a pile of mush. I would start thinking I have nothing to chit chat about… heck, I can’t think of anything to really say that’s interesting except what’s truly going on in my heart right now, and that’s not always pretty and it’s also full of drama and things personal to me. So I just gave up trying to think up stuff to talk about and dove in and just shared my heart and struggles… And I’ve never regretted it. I felt vulnerable doing it… but they always left with me feeling like, at least they know the real me right now. messy, weak and needing so much of Jesus… and most often they were such a source of encouragement and hope to me!
Switching to Pink Salt: I just filled up all our shakers and containers of salt with Pink Himlayian salt and we haven’t looked back. It’s filled with so many great minerals and tastes great. It’s a small change… but one I feel good about.
Watching The West Wing… the whole series! This is probably Dan and My 3rd time through the whole series and every time we fall in love with the characters and the writing is so good. With it coming up on election year and the rumor that Netflix was taking it off it’s line up (they aren’t) we dove in and watched an episode or two every night… okay some nights it was like 3 episodes! I’m actually in mourning now that it’s over. There’s just nothing else out there that compares to it. And I mean what TV actor wasn’t on that show at some point. All of my favorites for sure!
Watching the old Star Wars Trilogy with the kidsI don’t remember when I watched them originally but watching them this time was so fun and seeing the kids love the story and characters was so awesome. We’ve had lots of light saber wars around here. They loved going to the theaters to see the last one! Although it was a little tricky when the yellow words started going up the screen and four little heads turned around for Daddy to read them to them out loud and we just had to tell them to turn around and that they would figure it out.
Taking holiday Photos WAY before the holiday. Because we didn’t know when Isla would be born and if we’d even be here for Trick or Treating, we had to start thinking costumes and such in September. Nesting energy really came in handy about then. So when I tried all their costumes on them to check fit and such, I took them outside and shot a few pictures of them together and I’m so glad I did. Come the actual day which I was able to be here for, I was able to be present and just go with them and have fun without the pressure of getting cute photos or them being picture perfect. It worked!! Having a trial run for Easter and Going Early to see Santa worked as well!
Listening to NPR. I learn so much from that radio station. I find that when they cover the news and talk of lands far away who are facing turmoil I can better understand and pray for friends of mine who are over there serving and sharing of the good news. When they have interviews and stories about people and things I never would have considered before and it makes me think! In a way it’s really taught me how to listen to people with perspectives I completely disagree with but yet I learn from them and come away from it seeing it at least from another perspective even if my belief/opinion stays the same. I feel like that’s so valuable.
Shopping at Trader Joes. I’m more of a costco girl when it comes to shopping and in the past haven’t really done much at Trader Joes… it felt like one more store to add. BUT this year changed that. I don’t know how they do it but they have hired the most incredible employees who not only don’t look down on my crew of kids… they celebrated them with smiles and conversations and suckers!! They also are always so helpful and last week I was in there and had the best conversation with a cashier and it came up that it was my birthday and before you know it she was handing me a huge bouquet of flowers…. I cried. So T.J., keep up this kindness and excellence and I’ll be a fan for life! If you’re doing Whole 30 HERE is a great video of 25 approved things from there.
Dan’s PhD. I know I said this last year too. But It is. I braced for year two because everyone said it’s a doozey and while it’s brought it’s challenges with it, it’s really been great. I love watching him flourish and learn and then come home and regurgitate so much of it back to me. I learn so much from him. His cohort has been so kind and supportive of us and isla’s adoption this year. DBU has been super about really everything involving classes and schedules. He’s got one more year of course work then a dissertation to write. Honey, I’m SO proud of you and I love that you’re getting to use the incredible mind and heart that God’s given you to not only impact the world around you but that you come home and use it to bless your wife and little ones. There’s no one else I’d rather be on this adventure with. We love you!
Depending on God and His faithfulness to meet all of our needs: Starting a non-profit has been challenging to say the least but it’s been so rewarding and fulfilling. I remember thinking… between our adoption needs and our living needs we are going to run out of resources and people are going to tire from us asking them to give. But then I remember that God has unlimited resources and He uses people in crazy awesome ways to bless us and provide for us. I could write a whole post on friends and families generosity to us!! One day I was thinking about how much the boys needed warmer pajamas and within that week a friend dropped off a bag FULL of boys PJ’s and underwear! We brought Isla home and knew our vehicle wouldn’t fit us all… we visited a car dealership and had a terrible experience there, and we really knew that going into year two of this ministry we preferred not to add a car payment to our monthly expenses at least not right now. So we prayed and we waited. Not only did a family in our church offer to switch us vehicles for a time but we had a friend call us on Christmas Eve and tell us that they were on the way to a dealership to get a new family car and they wanted to give us their 9 passenger Suburban!! We now can all fit in the car to go places!!! What a blessing and a confirmation that God hears us and sees us right where we are. It’s also very humbling… but I’ll save that aspect for another post coming up.
Favorite Blogs to read:Sayable and Cup of Jo and two longtime friends that are newer to blogging and I’m so proud of them for creating their space and pouring out to their readers: Cynthia Stuckey and Lisa Burns
Favorite Wine I’ve tried this year under $20:White: Simi sauvignon blanc & Villa Cerrina Chardonnay Pinot Grigio and Red: Canyon Road Merlot
Listened to over and over: Shane and Shane Psalms 2, Lauren Dagle, and of course… Adele! And this Spotify Mix I made.. “Hope for the Weary Heart.
Best New show on TV:Code Black. It’s SO good! Other favorites: Call the Midwife, Madame Secretary, Goldbergs, Fixer-Upper.
Favorite Phone Apps: Vsco Cam for photo edits, Two Dots for mindless activity, and Dubsmash for endless fun with the kids! And the GIF keyboard…. if a picture speaks a thousand words then a Gif is worth at least a few thousand!
Baby Baby:Baby Tights by June and January Oh my… these are so thick and will last forever! And the colors. Swoon!! I was gifted a Lily Jade Diaper Bag by Lily Jade Company because they so lovingly support adoptive mamas and do a give away once a month. I’ve been carrying it everywhere and holding back on a review until I saw how it weathered the use… and so far, I’m sold!! I love it, it’s been so useful and high quality. I’m hard on diaper bags. And I’m pretty sure I’ve met my match with this one. (I’m hard on my camera bags too… so if you are too then Kelly Moore Camera Bags are by far the best I’ve ever had!!)
This post is going to be a reflection on the theme I chose at the beginning of this year and how that’s worked itself out in the past 12 months. I wish this was going to be an upbeat fun post… and those are coming next week as I take on Goal setting for 2016 (following Lara Casey’s Make it Happen Process). They will include the best of moments and my favorites of this past year as well as what worked and didn’t and my big dreams for 2016.
I’ve so enjoyed looking forward and getting excited at all that is ahead. But I’m just going to start off with the hard post and the post that’s weighing so heavy on my heart. Some might think me crazy for writing publicly about these things, and maybe I am. But if you’re a writer then you get when you just have words inside that must come out and in being written actually help you process and heal. So read along, pray for me as I continue to process and heal, know that through all of this a very good God sustained in amazing ways and that I wouldn’t trade any of it for a year that was smooth sailing but had little growth.
I am more than ready to say goodbye to 2015! I am. I’m ready to have this year be something to look back on instead of going through. It was not an awful year, in fact it was an epic year. It was also a hard year Maybe my mistake was having my year’s theme be DO HARD THINGS! what was I thinking?? I’ll tell you what I was thinking.. I was thinking like work out more or brush the kids teeth religiously or get up earlier…that kind of hard. But that’s not what the Lord was thinking. I think His focus was more on the hard things my heart would come to encounter, knowing I would need Him to change me and mold me in a way I never have had to before.
Here are some of the life changing Hard Things that 2015 brought our way.
When my brother lived with us: In February my brother, who is 18 years younger than I am, moved in with us for a short time. We knew it probably wouldn’t last long but we knew it was a moment in time with him that we might never get again. It was so good and it was so hard. I loved having my brother doing life with us, watching us do life as a family with lots of littles, my kids viewed him as a human jungle gym and constantly wanted his attention. There are things that I know he was dealing with and things he needed to deal with and wasn’t. No matter how hard we wanted him to care about taking responsibility for work, phone, bills, plans… he just wasn’t there yet. It was hard to be his sister but having to act like his mom. I battled resenting that. But with him always there I couldn’t stay mad at him and his needs were constantly there in front of me reminding me that Jesus loved him far more than we did, far more than our parents did, far more than even Tony knew. I prayed so much for him in those weeks and still do. In a matter of weeks he found another place to call home for a time. But we laugh now because God crosses our paths with him in the craziest of ways these days. I love that kid. And I’m so glad God put him into our family.
When Felicia went crazy: A year and a half we moved onto a street that quickly brought us relationships with our neighbors and their kids. One neighbor, Felicia we met on day one as she asked for money and cigarettes. We didn’t give her that but we did welcome her and her kids into our home on almost a daily basis going forward. I asked her one day to tell me the stories about her many tattoos and she told me many chapters worth of hurt and heartache and loss and mistakes made. We helped them get stuff for back to school, halloween and Christmas. I baked her son’s birthday cake when she didn’t. Again, it was probably one of the most frustrating relationships I’ve ever had because she took and took and took and I continually had to give the idea of her changing or becoming responsible back to God. I wanted to give without the hook of her having to change as a payment or condition. I am tearing up just having to type this out because watching someone who truly did become my friend turn to drugs and slowly go out of her mind and lose her kids who had become friends with my children, was one of the most heart wrenching things to watch and be involved in. Being for her and also for her kids and knowing that advocating for them both meant putting them all in situations that would tear apart their family and yet be the only way to provide opportunity for help and healing. They got evicted and aren’t our neighbors anymore. Her children are in foster homes. I see her on a rare occasion when she really needs something. She’s in denial about her need and she is moving on. I will miss her and her kiddos so much. I worry about them but know that it’s out of my hands and that again, Jesus loves them and knows exactly what is going on with each of them. But much like my friend April in Raleigh, I wonder if in the friendship who needed who the most. Because as hard as it was, I’m a different person because of her.
When my husband quit teaching high school and started a non-profit ministry: Not that Making Things Happen was the reason Dan decided to pursue what God has laid on our hearts for over a decade now, but as his wife it made me his biggest cheerleader and co-founder!! We have wanted to do this years before but we knew it was risky and that there would be rejection as well as so many unknowns as far as provision went…especially when you have 5 kids and are in the middle of an adoption process! But you know it’s something God wants you to do when He won’t leave you alone about it and He almost throws you into it. We knew now was the time. We knew we were ready… and in the areas we weren’t ready He would be there for us and He would sustain us. If you want to know more about this ministry check out our website HERE. But, in a nutshell we started The Identify Network as a ministry to come alongside of churches to help equip them to counsel, communicate and love those within their families who struggle with Same sex attraction or gender identity issues, and how to love those outside of their church walls who are in the LGBT community.
Yep, not a subject that’s easy or fun or popular to talk about in any arena. We’ve lost LGBT friends who think we are wrong and harmful for our views on biblical sexuality and we’ve lost relationships with believing family who think our story is an embarrassment and that our ministry dirties grace because we emphasize love. It’s messy…it’s easier to put up walls instead of having hard conversations…. but it’s SO full of hope!! In the six months we’ve been a network we’ve met with and talked to countless people who want that hope and want to navigate this subject in a way that makes it about people to be loved and not issues to be won. It’s been hard…. but it’s been so so good!
When we got matched with Isla’s birth mom months before she was due: This was our first adoption where we had to wait for our baby to be born. I never knew how nerve wracking and emotional that wait is before then. We had time so I wrote her and poured my heart out to her about our family, about our hearts desire in adopting another child with down syndrome, about our love for our children’s birthparents…. I didn’t expect her to write back and equally pour out her heart to me about her own desires and fears and hopes and dreams for the little girl growing within her. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the family she wrote about and her rich heritage. I didn’t expect her words to be written in such a way that I felt like I knew her and could feel her hearts cry and the hurt and love she had so abundantly. I didn’t expect for my heart to be torn into two knowing I would be heartbroken if she kept her baby but I almost wanted her to more than to give her to us…and I told her that! I knew that’s how powerful her love for this child was. But I also trusted that a mothers love like that could look towards the future and make difficult choices that were what was best despite crushing pain in the present.
Thus began our relationship that would cultivate into something far more beautiful and far more difficult than I could ever imagine as we met and bonded over OUR daughter in a Las Vegas Hospital. Her and her husband became fast friends with Dan and I, we clicked. The four of us advocated for this little girl in a way that made the NICU staff scratch their heads and ask questions about how this worked? This wasn’t the way they typically saw the adoptive couples interact. This was so awkwardly beautiful. The hard part was that we all loved Isla, we all wanted her, we all wished we could hold her and bond with her… us for the purpose of bonding and beginning to attach and them for the purpose of beginning to let go. But due to Isla’s medical issues, neither of us could do that so we just loved each other more and talked and filled in more of both of our stories that had started months earlier.
That first week of knowing them and my new daughter in person was beyond wonderful and insanely heartbreaking at the same time. I cried so much… I’m crying now just writing about it. We are still navigating what loving and healing between us all looks like right now. I know once time has healed and with it colored the sorrow and what if’s with joy and acceptance, then doing this the hard way… making room in our hearts for each other will be one of life’s sweetest gifts!
When I lost the support and approval of my parents: Losing Asher over seven years ago I was immersed in a process that couldn’t help but to change me and I embraced the grief with all I had… because in doing so I not only felt closer to my son but I found healing there. With loss of relationship with my parents and close family friends that I’ve experienced for over a year now… I have done everything but embrace the process. I’ve fought, resisted, raged, cried, tried to figure it out or a way out, defended and explained till I’m blue in the face, I’ve let it color my world with despair and confusion. How could God lead us through so much “hard” and us find Him to be so good in it, only to have what felt “good” turn out to be our biggest source of opposition and discouragement? How can those who I’ve been so proud to be apart of be so quick to part with us?
I love my family, I love my faith, I love my denomination. I have even come to love a life often viewed with much controversy….due to adoption, social justice issues, ministry and a walking out of our faith that goes beyond the church bubble many of us have grown up in. I just somehow have to find a way to embrace the difficulty, rejection, and misunderstandings that will undoubtedly come without letting it break my heart and crush my spirit. Because honestly, right now… I feel broken and crushed. Yes, there is joy… but I’m ready for healing to come. I’m tired of having an overarching feeling of sadness…and the tiredness that brings with it. If I’m honest, I don’t know really even what to do. I want to put up walls and boundaries because my heart is always hoping and wishing and begging for things to not be the way they are and I’m tired of getting hurt and rejected over and over. I’m tired of having to defend or wanting to prove that God’s at work in the life of my husband and in the hearts of my kids. I know that the Jesus told us that people would reject us, hurt us, and misunderstand us….When we started our ministry I expected that, I was just looking a different direction for those attacks to come. He spoke plenty about family and His calling colliding…I just couldn’t imagine it would collide with MY family. I want a relationship with them so badly and I want their approval probably even more but right now I can’t have it and live out the life Dan and I feel like we are supposed to live.
I can’t change Dan’s testimony and ongoing struggle… I can’t change the challenges that having 6 adopted kids brings with it…. I can’t change the theology we cling to… But I do know that we can boast in our weaknesses, we can try to honor God as we succeed and fail often in raising lots of littles…. I do know that if I’m going to err it’s going to be on the side of God’s grace towards us….and as much as I want to keep these words, this life of mine, private and inside a journal by my bed or the walls of my home, that’s not what I feel like God’s asked of me.
But this I do know, I walked through the storm of losing a child and look back at the person I used to be before that journey and don’t wish to ever go back to who I once was. I’m more than ready for the kind good hands of the Refiner to bring about change in me, to emerge refined and molded and thankful to be beyond the confusing and painful days of grief and into a time of redemption and trust in the One who understands situations like this, even if I never do.
When we had to explain difficult things to our little ones: I mean, pick one of the situations above… any of them, they all have impacted our children. Our kids are home with us every day all day…. they are very observant…. and they ask a kabillion questions a day! So we get the crazy questions… the funny ones… and the very hard to answer ones.
Explaining that their neighbor friends wouldn’t be coming over to play anymore and yet their mommy was still coming over on occasion was heart wrenching. My kids cried. I cried telling them. But I was able to tell them about a God who is everywhere at the same time… that He was going to be their friends mommy and daddy until He brought them a new one! Explaining why Tony left all of the sudden and wasn’t coming back… that was hard. But again, to tell them that God loved their uncle more than they did (which they love LOVE uncle tony) they got that!! Explaining why Daddy wasn’t a teacher anymore…. well, they loved that… explaining what we would be doing instead, interesting but a great way to point to the provision and care of God. And How important the Church is!! Explaining why grandparents aren’t around and why they aren’t a part of their lives…. that’s hard. But living in a home where conflict and differences abound, they are starting to understand why we need Jesus to forgive others and the beauty of grace and mercy needed in our own lives. Explaining why mommy and daddy needed to be in Las Vegas for so long and that Isla had a birth family who loved her… and the many conversations that inspires about the many birth families of all of theirs we love and the ones we wish we knew so we could love them by name… That’s always hard. But Oh, I hope they never tire of the picture we are able to paint for them as we tell them of mommy and daddy’s adoption by God through Jesus and the price He paid to make us His own children!
When I had to come to the realization that I’m not in a place to homeschool right now: I’ve always wanted to homeschool my kids. I remember talking to Dan about it far before we started talking about marriage or even kids. I was homeschooled and loved it. I love the culture of homeschool, I love the opportunity homeschooling provides, I love the many options out there for homeschooling curriculum. But right now…. with where we are in life and ministry and family, I’m not in a place where I can homeschool them and have our family thrive in a way we want us to. My failures as a wife and mom are many and when I look at my desires and hopes and dreams for my family and home, I can’t homeschool and reach for those goals at the same time. At least not right now.
Dan and I have talked about this for some time now as we intentionally parent and discuss how we are raising each of them. And I think adding Isla when we did in many ways was a confirmation in the direction we were praying towards. I still battle not feeling like a failure in this area….and I truly do think that this is something that will allow me to teach them another day. I know that there is a many areas that I’ve neglected the past 7 years that are crucial to being the kind of mom I want to be to them. I hope this will give me the time and opportunity to pursue those areas with intention. God has given us this incredible ministry and as we start off I know it will require more of me than I would have to give if I had education on my plate as well. I wouldn’t trade a bit of the past 7 years with them every day for anything… and I can’t wait to see what adventures lay ahead with them. But for right now… for the next 5 months, the Chappell kids will be going to the public elementary school down the road from where we live. I want to sob my head off and dance a jig all at the same time. Ah, the emotions of motherhood. Ya’ll it’s HARD! But GOOD!!!
So that’s my Do Hard Things List. I feel like it’s a saga of sadness in some ways but I know that in the years to come they will also be stories of struggle that were life defining and are things we wouldn’t go back and change even if we could. I hope you not only know how to pray more for our family but also see your own struggles and imperfections in a new light and feel the hope and goodness of a sustaining God in all of it. I learned when I started blogging as I navigated a journey of grief followed by incredible joy and healing that although it’s not all pretty and easy to write about it’s all part of the good story that a Good Author is writing and that we can keep turning the pages knowing that the end is worth living out each chapter…. no matter how hard it may be.
Now… off to pick a new theme for 2016. I think I’ll go with something like…. rest a lot, or rejoice… or something not involving the word Hard! 😉
Check back next week for a series of posts all about my favorites and highlights of 2015 as well as the hopes and dreams for the year ahead!
I’ve been wanting to teach one of these in my home for some time now and I think January would be the perfect time to do so! (Not to mention this would be a great practical and fun Christmas gift to give or get!!) So DFW friends, come and spend a few hours with me and let’s talk about how to focus on what really matters most in 2016 through the simple tool of the camera on our phones.
It’s going to be simple and sweet and straight to the point. So basically if you want to be a better photographer and you find that right now what you use most is your phone! Our phones are always with us, they are there when the moment happens, they are there when the unexpected appears… they are there in the so let’s use them to the best of our ability!
We will be covering these topics and more:
getting a good exposure
finding the light
composition and color
documenting the details
being in the moment and capturing it
simplifying the editing process
organizing and printing your photos
navigating social media
instagram as micro-blogging
your life : it’s worth remembering
And the total cost is going to be just $35 per person!! (10 person maximum per class… as to keep the class personal and have time for questions and hands on training)
So there’s a lot to cover and we will have a blast doing so. Come with your phones… a notebook and pen and a readiness to try new things and see the world around you a little differently.
I’m going to have two classes…. One in the morning and one in the evening because I know we all have different schedules. We live close to downtown Fort worth.
Morning Course will be Wednesday January 20th from 9-11:30 a.m.
Evening Course will be Thursday January 21st from 6-8:30 p.m.
BOTH CLASSES ARE FULL!!!! I’m hopeful that I will do more of these. So if you want to be added to a cancelation list or a next class heads up list, then shoot me an email at Caseylynn_78@yahoo.com
Happy 7th Birthday to a girl who embodies the meaning of her name – Life – so well and so beautifully!
You are the best big sister to a group of siblings who already look to you for leadership and example.
I love your tender heart for all things relationship oriented (which you would say, “wait.. what’s oriented mean?”) that’s because you are a learner and love challenges like understanding new words, anything athletic, and of course fashion! You don’t like changes… such as new foods, new schedules or moving… but if it involves meeting new friends, you’re all in! You have wrapped your head around hard truths about people but even more around big truths about God. I love how His truth is important to you and pray it will always be so.
I want to say sorry for taking this long to get this drawing done and uploaded but I’m so deliriously happy soaking up these days of new baby grace. Oh, that we would everyday give ourselves and others the grace and understanding that seems to flow lavishly when a new baby is around. I think that would change our worlds!!
So without further ado……
Also I have THREE Noonday Adoption Bracelets to giveaway that were donated by my friends Annette Hickman and Debbie Lanford! Noonday is an awesome company that supports orphans and adoption!
Those Names are Lindsay Hostetter and Caroline Paul and Brett Seay!!! I’ll get those sent out to you asap.
And the Winner of the Fort Worth Stir Crazy Bakery Drawing is Sarah Tarleton!!
THANK YOU each and every single one of your for your love and support and prayers for us! You make much of a wonderful God and may His work through you bless thousands of people in the process!
Please know you are welcome in our home and we would love for you to come meet Isla if you are local and if you’re not we hope if you’re ever in the DFW area you’ll let us know!!
And new baby in the house or not I hope you take these words to heart and apply them daily!!
I was in Las Vegas when these two had their birthdays two weeks ago. I hated to miss it but Dan’s parents did an epic job of celebrating them! They went to the lake…twice! And had cookie cake (a chappell tradition that my kids love).
Jack is 6! Something about him turning 6 still amazes me. He is growing up, he’s getting past the full throttle dare devil defy both authority and gravity stage. He’s thinking more, taking on responsibility, and glimpses of the man he will become are starting to appear. He listens and retains better than any of my children yet you wouldn’t think he’s paying a lick of attention… but he is. He says the funniest things using vocabulary Dan and I use and sometimes we are proud and sometimes we are reminded that we have little ones we are constantly making impressions on even when we aren’t aware of it.
Ezra is 5! He looks like he’s 7 because he’s HUGE and growing like a weed. He can eat 3-4 hotdogs at a time and is always going back for seconds. He still says “I wuv you mama” which reminds me that he’s still little. He is so much like Zoe but introverted, he loves to learn and follows instructions beautifully. He likes to draw, transformers, watch movies, and play with Abel. He is discovering his strength and it’s hard not to laugh when the gentle giant has had enough and overpowers his siblings with ease.
As much as they exhaust me and make me wonder if I’ll ever own anything glass or nice again, they amaze me and keep me humble and pressing into raising men who are defined by Christ and His attributes!
Heart: We JUST got the word that they are NOT going to do a heart cath on her!! The cardiologist team have done multiple heart echoes and it keeps looking better and her heart is performing great! She still has the holes that will need surgery to be fixed here in TX probably when she’s a few month older. But GET THIS….. the Dr.’s are actually reconsidering her diagnosis of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome!! Meaning they think she might NOT even have HLHS!! Her heart is forming an apex and growing! This mama believes with all my heart that THIS is a result of your prayers on her behalf!!
Brain: She had a Brain scan and she has a partial Corpus Callosum… which they had thought she didn’t have one at all (that’s the part that connects the two sides of the brain)
Tummy: They are waiting for her stomach to finish draining and once that happens as well as proof that her intestines work (Pray for Poop!) Then they will start her on Pedialyte and then on to formula! They are telling us that it will take another 2 weeks for her to be ready to start learning how to eat by mouth…. it might. But she might be ready sooner!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
-Pray for Isla’s recovery and healing. Pray that Isla can come to Texas soon! But that while we are here pray that we would be a light for Christ to the nurses and doctors at Sunrise medical center in Children’s Hospital.
-Pray for provision. This extended stay in Vegas isn’t a surprise to God. If you’d like to help in this area… let me know!!
* * Ya’ll…yes, you who are in neck deep to what you know God’s asking you to do. When you’re stepping out on faith, the enemy doesn’t like it. SO washer and dryers will break, Cars will die, Kids will get sick, You will feel like an inconvenience to others, Your family will think you’re crazy… yes, even the good Christian people in your life will wonder if you have lost your mind or at the very least are being wise. BUT HE’s GOT THIS!!! Don’t sweat a car part when He’s led you THIS far and His faithfulness has proven unwavering at each and every turn. Just trust and obey!! (okay, I’ll stop preaching now)
-Pray for us as we are a family split up between NV & TX. The kids and I are doing great but we miss Daddy and can’t bear to think about not seeing him for another two weeks! Dan feels the same… but he’s advocating and loving on our little girl and knocking out school and work while he’s there! (isn’t God good that as scary as starting a new ministry is that Dan would be able to be there during this time and work from wherever he is!)
* * Even though we may have many prayer requests we are overjoyed at this new blessing in our life and we welcome the difficulty that comes with celebrating her life and choosing to say yes to her! There has not been one moment where we regret or look back and wonder if we heard wrong or made the wrong choice. She is ours and we know God has great purposes for her in our family and in our church and in our city! Thank you for loving her so much already!!
Do I have fears? You bet I do. And right towards the end of any adoption they multiply like crazy! But I remember having them right before each and every adoption. Each day the Lord says quietly to my heart “Do you trust me? I’m big enough for you and for her every need. Have I let you down in the past? Could I shut this down if it wasn’t in my plan? Do you believe me when I say my strength is made perfect by your weakness? Why do you fight weakness so hard my child? My strength is good… rest in it, trust in it, take joy in it.”
I thought I wasn’t going to do the third basket I had planned because I honestly didn’t know if I was going to have the time to do it. But we found out we have some additional agency costs and traveling/food costs! Every step of the way God has gone before us and He will orchestrate this trip however long it is… and it might be a long time (14-40 days… who knows? Isla determines all that! So we will wait for her and give her all the time she needs to heal!) since she had surgery right away. When we’ve seen God work the way He did in all of our adoptions before this one, How can I doubt His faithfulness?
SO…. my third and final Best of Basket it is. I’m SO excited about this one, I mean… what’s not to love??
I think this is PERFECT TIMING for this collection of goodies!! I estimate that it will land on your front porch the second week in November, just in time for the holiday cooking to begin! I LOVE the holiday season! I love the family recipes, I love the gatherings, I love the celebrating of traditions or the making of new traditions, I love it all! And what makes the holiday season even more magical…. A new BABY!! So I’m really excited for this year’s grateful/advent season to begin!
Here’s the info:
All you have to do to is enter your name into a drawing for this basket when you make a donation of $5 towards the Chappell Family. For every $5 we will put your name on the list…. so, $10 we will put your name on twice… $25 five times… and so forth. ON Nov 5th I will do a videotaped recording of the random choosing of one of the entries and will announce it on the blog and contact you through email or facebook. I will then pack up all the goodies and send it your way to enjoy!!!
You can also get extra entries by sharing on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter after you’ve donated. Just comment on this post and let me know where you shared so I can count them!! (otherwise I won’t know you shared!!)
It’s easy as pie… oh my speaking of pie… Everyone who donates gets the recipe to a coconut chess pie that is to DIE FOR!
*”Basket” is not included in collection *If you’d like to be entered without donating send me an email to caseylynn_78@Yahoo.com *Donations are not tax deductible… IF You’d rather give a tax deductible gift directly to a non-profit that will go directly towards agency fees then GO HERE!!
Let’s kick off this fabulous collection with the BEST and most essential thing a baker could ask for and that’s a KITCHEN AID MIXER. We got one as a wedding gift and it has been used countless times and keeps on keeping on. So you get one! Includes a flat beater attachment, coated dough hook, wire whip! And….. YOU GET TO PICK THE COLOR you want!! I have loved my matte finish black because it goes with everything and looks super sleek!
Also something I got for a wedding gift was Williams-sonoma’s Melamine mixing bowl set. These are lightweight, dishwasher safe, LAST forever and they don’t stain…and are pretty much kid proof, pretty much! You want these for the baking season ahead I promise! I’ve never been without Williams-Sonoma’s Spatulas and Spoonulas either. I’ve had to replace a few of these but I always go right back and get more… because they are the Best!
Next up is an appliance that I didn’t have until last year… and I honestly don’t know how I lived without it this long. I use it for EVERYTHING. It was super helpful in making Abel’s homemade formula, it scrambles the best eggs, and makes homemade salad dressings a breeze to create. You can use it for so many things. This emulsion blender is the bomb!!
And while it kinda falls more into the cooking category more than baking… although you can certainly bake it in. I can’t live without my cast iron skillet! In the past few years I’ve actually replaced all my non-stick cookware with either stainless steel or cast iron. And it’s so nice knowing that I’m caring for my families health by using pans that I know aren’t covered with anything that might could harm them. So… you’re getting a cast iron skillet!! (and some steel scrubbers which I’ve found to be perfect for cleaning stainless steel pans and cast iron!)
I adore this Eat sign that you might think I found at a flea market… nope, world market for the win! Having kids boys in the house I have almost given up hanging things on the wall thats breakable. These metal signs… they are little boy proof! and it’s a great and simple way to add decor. So I’m including it for your kitchen. (I know ya’ll are NOT looking at the sign but are thinking about how in the world are you going to convince your husbands that you HAVE to have this backsplash for your kitchen… I know you are! I wish I could claim it as mine… but it’s my friend Waverlee’s awesome kitchen!)
I know it’s easy to hop online to find a recipe… but I personally believe that the BEST recipes are the ones that are found in books… church cookbooks…recipe boxes… Those are tried and true and usually are wonderful! So I picked my two favorite recipe books that to me are much more than just collection of recipes… they are family treasures. Sprouted Kitchen has been a food blog I’ve read for years! The photos inspire me and her stories add meaning to each recipe. THIS SOUP is my recipe of hers. Kinfolk Table represents the best of what Kinfolk Magazine has to offer as they celebrate small gatherings. The stories in this book transport you to far away lands… nooks of big cities… and in backyards all over. These cookbooks are ones you truly want to curl up on the couch with and read through.
And when you are curled up on the couch with these fabulous collection of recipes… then if you’re anything like me you’ll want a mug of coffee (Thanks to my friend Heather, I’ve fallen in love with this new creamer flavor, Spiced Latte!) I hate stirring my coffee with a big ol’ spoon or a butter knife, so having lil’ coffee stirring spoons are something that’s so nice to have around! I’m including a set of 4 from World Market with this basket. you’ll loooovvveeee them!!! (and they make great stocking stuffers… so go grab some for friends and family)
These little knives get used ALL the time. They are bright and easy to find (in my one kitchen drawer!!) and with them being different colors it’s easy to keep them separated if I’m cutting meat and other stuff or I”m needing to not cross-contaminate food groups. I love these knives!!!
These Cloth Napkins might just be my favorite thing in this whole basket!! I LOVE them! I grew up with cloth napkins. My mom was smart and knew that a family of 11 would go through far too many paper towels and paper napkins… so she made cloth napkins and we used them over and over. You’re getting this fabulous set of 8 black and white striped cloth napkins. I adore black and white striped anything… so I know these will add a classic pop to any tablescape!
Also… Meet my Best friend during the holiday season. Hello Mulling Spices!! I get a bottle EVERY YEAR this time of year from Williams-Sonoma. I actually don’t use it to make mulling cider. Every day I sprinkle some in a pot with water and sometimes some vanilla or orange peels and let it simmer away smelling up the house in the most delightful way!
My Mother-in-law gives me the BEST christmas presents! This past year she gave me these adorable measuring cups! I almost didn’t want to use them they were so cute. But I used them… and these have withstood tons of use, hundreds of rounds in the dishwasher, Abel using them as toys, and even have been sneaked outside to help fill a moat in a castle a time or two. And they look JUST as new as when I got them. So These are built to last. The Measuring spoons are a bit more classic and clean cut but I find I like a more easy to clean spoon for measuring.
I have a little love obsession with cute dish towels. Maybe it’s that it brightens up and adds instant decor to the kitchen. They make me happy!! I love the ones at World Market! So you’re getting THIS one and THIS one!
If you’ve never grated real nutmeg vs. buying store bought… then you’re missing out. So I’m giving you a bottle of nutmegs and a grater! I promise you’ll thank me for it.
These last few things are the things that while they are little… they add just the right touch! First, these mason jar salt and pepper shakers… And I filled them with pepper and Himalayan pink salt which is so good for you and provides so many important minerals our bodies need. Adams Vanilla. You might just be a Texan when any other vanilla just won’t do. I put this stuff in everything. It’s the secret ingredient to my Rice Krispie treats… and I often will put some in a pan of water with some orange peels or cinnamon sticks and let it simmer to smell up the house! Parchment paper… from bacon to cookies, it’s essential and life changing!
This little guy may be the tiniest thing in my kitchen drawer but when I’m baking… I’m so thankful I have it. Gone are the days of big ol’ knife marks in the top of cakes or brownies! And it’s super cute and doesn’t take up much space in your silverware drawer but is always right there when you need it.
One of my friends… who married a guy I grew up with in Alaska, Just launched a sign business on etsy and I LOVE her signs. I want the Grace and Gratitude one SO BAD! So… I asked her if I could gift the winner with a $25 gift card to her shop and she was so excited to do so! So… You’ll have an awesome sign to hang for all your thanksgiving (and year round) reminders that we are so so blessed!
And for all you Fort Worth locals…. We have a Stir Crazy Baked Goods gift card to give away!! I’ll pick a FW family who enters who I think would benefit from a morning spent at this fine bakery (which is just 3 blocks from my house!!) *to make this easy on me… you have to have a FW address.
And the winner of this basket will get to pick one incredible adoptive/foster mom to receive this gift: It’s from Anthropologie and it’s the cutest recipe box (and I’ve included a few of my very favorite tried and true recipes already). And also they will get one of my favorite tea towels (see I told you I had a thing for dish towels.) It’s from Mary and Martha and not only can you use it in the kitchen you can also stretch it over a canvas and hang on the wall! I think it’s awesome either way! To me cooking/baking is a part of so many memories of home… in some ways it makes a house a home! They are the memories kids will take with them forever and so with fostering and adopting I think meals and time spent preparing food and serving our families can be maybe some of the most important work we do. Some of the kids who are in foster care maybe have never even celebrated a birthday the way they are meant to be celebrated… I can’t think of anything better to give a foster/adoptive mama than the tools to help celebrate her little ones!
So, There it is My ALL TIME FAVORITE Collection of Baking Goodies!!! If you love baking and making holiday tables one to remember for your family then please give of what you’ve been given and know that you gift will go directly towards the adoption of Isla Olivia Rose…. and know we are SO grateful for you!
Here’s the info:
All you have to do to is enter your name into a drawing for this basket when you make a donation of $5 towards the Chappell Family. For every $5 we will put your name on the list…. so, $10 we will put your name on twice… $25 five times… and so forth. On Nov 5th I will do a videotaped recording of the random choosing of one of the entries and will announce it on the blog and contact you through email or facebook. I will then pack up all the goodies and send it your way to enjoy!!!
You can also get extra entries by sharing on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter after you’ve donated. Just comment on this post and let me know where you shared so I can count them!! (otherwise I won’t know you shared!!)
IF You’d rather give a tax deductible gift directly to a non-profit that will go directly towards agency fees then GO HERE!!
It’s easy as pie… oh my speaking of pie… Everyone who donates gets the recipe to a coconut chess pie that is to DIE FOR!
We are now T-Minus 3 weeks!! As of yesterday She’s FULL TERM!
I’m doing everything I can to settle down and WAIT WELL. For a few days we thought she was coming early due to her heart rhythm “not having much variance”… but then after an overnight stay her heart beat got “happy” again and she’s doing great and growing leaps and bounds just inches from her birth mom’s heart and 1200 miles from mine.
I wanted to update you on her health and what we are anticipating once she’s born and when we get there.
First…. her heart looks fine and so other than praising God for that we are praying that she handles labor and delivery in general well. Her birthmom is wanting to have a VBAC and I would love that for her, having had a C-section myself and knowing that healing can take longer.
Secondly, she has what’s called Agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC). This is a rare birth defect (congenital disorder) in which there is a complete or partial absence of the corpus callosum. It occurs when the corpus callosum, the band of white matter connecting the two hemispheres in the brain, fails to develop normally, typically during pregnancy. This is more of a wait and see type of thing. Many people with ACC are asymptomatic and are walking around probably not even aware they are missing that part of their brain. But others might have delays, such as those common already with down syndrome…delayed speech, development issues, and working to “re-wire” the brain to communicate without that band of connection. And the most severe would be to watch for seizures… which could present at birth but also hold off until she’s a little older. And I’m guessing then she would go on anti-seizure medicine.
And Lastly, she has what looks to be a Duodenal Atresia. This will be the thing that probably is most crucial to address and will probably keep her in the NICU for a few weeks. The duodenum is the first portion of small intestine after the stomach. When part of the bowel fails to develop normally in the fetus, a blockage of the duodenum can occur, otherwise known as an atresia or bowel obstruction. About 1/3 of infants born with duodenal atresia will also have Down Syndrome. Newborns with duodenal atresia will need an operation in order to fix the intestinal atresia. The goal of this surgery is to remove the bowel obstruction and allow the digestive tract to be functional. She will have to be fed via IV until her digestive system can handle feedings… which could take a few days to a few weeks.
That’s when we will be praying for her muscle tone to be such that she will eat like a champ! Abel was a slow learner and didn’t start eating well until about a week after he was born. But apart from some texture issues.. he’s a great eater now!
But most importantly… God can heal any of those things before she’s born or give her great recovery afterwards… or He can be made much of by the longer stay in the hospital! We will just cry out to Him for healing and trust Him to write a story that will be better than we ever hoped no matter the twists and turns along the way.
Will you join me in praying for Isla? I want to pray believing that He can heal and work wonders in her life!
Also… the thought of leaving my kiddos for maybe a month or more makes me want to cry and throw up and throw a fit. But I have to trust that God is at work even in their lives for their good in this. I have incredible brothers and sisters and my in-laws hang the moon and I love my church family! So I know that they will be in wonderful hands when we are gone. And with Southwest Airlines having great airfares… I bet if it gets to be too much I could fly home and see them and turn around and go back. It has been a difficult time of not having my parents in my life this past year due to their fears concerning our life choices with family and ministry. Having a new baby coming has only made that grief weigh all the more heavy on my heart. Something about expecting a baby makes you want your mom more. But I know that God is again, at work in the hard difficult places to bring about a greater joy than had there not been sorrow in the first place. He can restore the years that the enemy is seeking to devour. I’m resting in that. And if you are struggling with loved ones and broken hearts… I hope you will rest in that too. THIS Spotify Channel has been on repeat every day around here! Listen… and know that Grace WINS every time!
Now… Here is our financial situation. Ya’ll… last year I never would have imagined that we would be starting a ministry from scratch AND adopting a special needs baby in another state at the SAME TIME! But God’s timing is rarely our own… so I’m going to trust He’s got this!
We are using Catholic Charities of Nevada as our custody agency during our finalization period and we will finalize the adoption in Nevada. (this wasn’t going to be the case until this week when our lawyers advised us to take this route due to ICPC concerns) This means one extra agency fee. Thankfully domestic special needs adoptions aren’t super expensive but they do require people who are trained and licensed to make an adoption happen.
We have two pressing financial needs right now:
1. Is the remaining agency custody fees, legal finalization fees, flights to and from Las Vegas, extended stay in Nevada, car rental, and accompanying travel expenses. (we are also looking into options such as ronald mcdonald house which is about 30 minutes away or churches nearby having people who would lend cars and such)
2. A vehicle that will hold all of us Chappells. We’ve been a one car family for all of our marriage and it works for us… but we kinda need to fit all of us in it. The kids asked the other day when we were driving somewhere “where will isla sit when she gets home?” And we looked at each other and said in full belief “that’s for God to provide!” Ya’ll HE will. And maybe that’s through YOU! We can get about $2000 for this van which has served us so well… but we would LOVE to give it to a family/ministry who needs a vehicle!
We are humbled by your support and ask you to pray and give towards this final step in bringing our baby girl home. This feels like crazy timing… but we have felt that before and trust that God is the author of this little life and in looking back we can see His hands faithfully working for His Glory in 1,000 different ways.