Must Sees

You guys as always are crazy kind, loving, thoughtful and supportive.  Thank you for being so excited and thrilled for our friends the Carmans, Everett and us!!!!  We are all the luckiest to have these amazing little heart warriors in our lives.  Thank you for being in awe of Jesus right along side us too.  He really does write the best stories and deserves all the praise and glory.  Thank you for the kind comments, emails and for already helping us start to spread the word.  You will hear no less than 32 times about this fundraiser between now and Thursday, April 27th.  If you want to read about the party details again CLICK HERE.

Today I just wanted to share some of my current favorite Noonday items.  They recently released their spring line and I am soooooo excited to check it out in person at the party so a lot of these are new from their spring line.  I’ve been browsing today and wanted to share some of my faves.  If you cannot make the party in person, you can always order online HERE.  At checkout just double check that your ambassador is “Rebecca Daniels” and your hostess is “Laura Kelley” so the Carmans can receive 20% of your purchase for their adoption fund.

Let’s begin 🙂

I’m usually hard pressed to find earrings I just super super love.  I have very limited earrings, mostly which are from Noonday, but their spring line shocked me.  I picked out 7 different pairs I really really loved, one of which is already sold out.  Wah, wah!  I narrowed that list down to four to share with you.

Fringed Crescent Earrings; Peruvian Studs; Terrace Earrings; Metropolitan Earrings

 

Necklaces we’re up next.  Again, I try and limit my necklaces, but here I was again finding necklace after necklace I really loved.

Borderland Necklace; Chateau Necklace; Earthbound Necklace; Journey Necklace

Bracelets are always and forever my jam and I can never have too many of them.  Never.  Once again I found tons which need a home on my arm.

Damalie Bracelet; Ebb and Flow Bangles; Province Bracelets; Serawit Wrap Bracelet

Their bags are always hard to choose from.  Some of my favorite bags I personally own are Noonday bags.  The best designs!!!!  Here are two of my faves.  I’ve seen both in person and they are out of this world gorgeous.

La Bella Bag; Rustic Leather Tote

Noonday also has a crazy good sale going on right now.  Head over HERE to check it out.  I have personally purchased so many of these items for friends, family and myself.

And don’t forget right now Noonday has an added incentive for guests who spend $75 or more – they can get the Afloat Earrings and Matovou Bracelet for half-off.  If you’re interested in this offer just contact Rebecca at noonday.rebecca at gmail dot com and she’ll hook you up with the special.

Please continue to share this with all your people.  Mark your calendars and join us in person April 27th and bring a friend or order online HERE.  Such an extra special way for us to come along side the Carman family in their pursuit of their son along with other women and moms around the world.

Happy Thursday!

God’s “I still see you.”

The day we met Shuai will forever be etched in our minds.  I tried documenting every last detail because time can be tricky sometimes and make you forget.  I did not want to forget anything.  Shortly after meeting him and having a little time together in our hotel room we headed back to his home to see where he had lived, to meet his nannies, staff, doctors, nurses and friends.  I was so glad his home was so eager to let us come and show us around.  What a gift it was to see his home and to meet the people who loved and cared for our son so well while we could not be with him.

Shortly after arriving the director expressed he really wanted to introduce us to Everett’s best friend.  We first met their nannies and staff and saw their room.  After looking around a bit more, the director finally took us down to the cutest little classroom full of the sweetest little faces all of whom had special needs of some sort.  He then introduced us to Everett’s best friend and shared he too had a special little heart.  I looked into his sweet little eyes and could see the concern and questions churning.  They had been together for a very, very long time.  I have video of them together and the director asking Everett, who’s your best friend and him trotting over to his special bud and pointing to him.  Everett’s book they gave to us is full of the sweetest photos and several are of them together.

Shuai was very timid and quiet upon returning to his home.  He didn’t say much and he held tight to Josh not wanting to get down.  Our translator stepped in when his best bud started talking and pulling on Shuai’s leg…”Come down FuShuai, come down.”  Josh knelt down and he talked more, “Don’t go. Don’t go. Stay.”  “Don’t go to America.”  Harper turned around and sobbed into my chest.  I immediately burst into tears and snapped pictures of these two precious friends and really brothers together.  We all walked out of that classroom and knew this special little boy could not stay here…even though he was so loved…we knew this kid was a game changer, but what would our role in his life be.  In my head I had already started trying to figure out if we could fit another bed into our house 🙂  We talked about Everett’s best buddy our entire trip.  Josh Kelley quoted him often.  He consumed my heart and one day like a whisper God planted a family in my mind…The Carmans.

Josh and Brooke Carman are friends of ours who started the process to adopt a son last fall from Nicaragua.  They actually found the only agency in Tennessee who we’re piloting a program to Nicaragua which was suppose to begin in January of this year.  I had never even heard of this agency 🙂  They had their home study ready and had sent off immigration papers…all your normal adoption paperwork.  We have tried to really encourage them along the way because the adoption process can feel very lonely at times.  Upon arriving home I told myself I’d give them like 2 days and then I sent a text to Brooke asking how the process was going.  She shared how the program launch date had been backed up to possibly May or June and mentioned if they got to that point they we’re going to probably start looking in other directions.  I asked if they’d considered China and then specifically mentioned this amazing little boy we had been privileged to meet.  I sent pictures.  I told her if they we’re interested I would gladly help them track down his file since I had made some connections with their home during our trip.  And then she agreed.

I might sound like a semi pushy friend at this point, but I just had this feeling I really believe was Jesus and sometimes you have to act on those feelings.  I reached out to my main connection at their home who said she could in fact help track down his file.  I connected her with Brooke and then I moved out of the way.  I told myself I would not ask Brooke about it again.  I didn’t want to be THAT pushy friend.  6 days later I received the most amazing text pretty much in the history of amazing texts.  Brooke said they had finally tracked down his file and she had just confirmed through the pictures I sent and the pictures in the file that it was in fact him.  And guess what agency he was listed with??!?!?!  Theirs!!!!!  After talking to their agency they told Brooke his file was actually supposed to have been sent back to China 2 days prior, but because of a computer glitch his file along with one other little girl’s had remained.

I about died.  Like, seriously almost died.  What in the world?!?!?  I just wept and sat there thinking “God is seriously insanely good.”  This didn’t mean the Carmans we’re in yet, but it took a matter of hours before they we’re already prepping their Pre-Approval papers for China.  Brooke shared they’re desire to move through the doors God wanted them to and it obviously looked like he was flinging these doors wide open.  They got their pre-approval just 4 business days later and we celebrated like there was no tomorrow.  These are the days not many people understand unless you’ve been there, but a pre-approval from China means, “Come on!  Fill out those papers and come get your boy.”  They had been given the big green light from China to start the process for their son.  It’s a huge day indeed and we wanted to celebrate with them.  We broke homebound rules, bought balloons and champaign and pizza.  We baked cookies and made rice krispy treats.  This sweet little one deserved celebrating.  His family was officially on their way.

God continued to fling doors open and just wow both of our families.  He made our jaw drop almost daily with what seemed like every last detail of this little guy.  I might have purchased the cutest tees in all the lands for these best friends and brothers to sport once they are reunited.  In the midst of a very trying time for our family with all the questions surrounding Everett’s heart this felt like a giant “I still see you!” from Jesus Himself.  These two would have each other again.  Our son will be reunited with his best little friend…the one he has been with for so long.

This little boy has brought a new joy to our family and he’s not even home yet.  I shared with Brooke I don’t wake up every morning thinking about Everett’s heart now.  I usually wake up thinking about his buddy.  We are smothering this kid in prayer along with his family…his dad, mom and two sisters…who are waiting so anxiously and working so feverishly to get to him.  I’ve looked back over my China posts and thought, “WOW!  The Carmans are going to walk this same road, wait for their son in the same building and look through the same set of doors to see his face for the first time in person exactly like we did.”  And then I lose my mind at how God so carefully and uniquely and amazingly orchestrates His will in us…His goodness in us.  He has reminded me yet again that His ways are far better then I could ever dream or imagine.

When I told Josh Kelley his only word was “Wow.”  When I shared with our big kids they all cheered.  Harper said, “They are going to love him.”  Everett looks at his book almost every day and points out his best friend and says his name.  Our family has mad love for this boy and we are cheering the Carmans on and praying like crazy people for the time to be quickened.  We’re praying for a smooth remaining process, a healed little heart and we’re asking how we can help.

As with every adoption we’ve ever done I’m hosting a Noonday Collection party for the Carman’s adoption fund.  Adoption has enriched our family like I never dreamed and heart kiddos pull all our heart strings and Noonday is always and forever my jam so it was inevitable this party was A MUST!!!  So mark your calendars for what is sure to be the greatest Noonday party of all time…I might be setting the bar a tad high 🙂

Thursday April 27th. 

6-8pm.

Our house.

No joke, tell every last person you know.  Share until you’re blue in the face…whatever that means…don’t die or anything.  Make it a fun girls night and bring your friends.  I will feed your face and you can drink wine or water…Jesus’ preferences 🙂 and laugh and I’ll hug your neck and we canbuy amazing Noonday products all the while supporting women across the globe…here and there…and the Carman family.  20% of sales will go directly towards their adoption fund.  This is like a win/win/win.  Triple win.  Added bonus…Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  And think about birthday gifts and end-of-the-year teacher gifts and “Hey I like you!” gifts and maybe a little something for yourself.

If you can’t join us in person, no worries.  As always you can order online HERE.  Just double check when your checking out that “Rebecca Daniels” is your ambassador and “Laura Kelley” is your host.  Right now Noonday has an added incentive for guests who spend $75 or more – they can get the Afloat Earrings and Matovou Bracelet for half-off.  If you’re interested in this offer just contact Rebecca at noonday.rebecca at gmail dot com and she’ll hook you up with the special.

As always we sit in amazement of a God who cares about the details…who orchestrates things we never could imagine and then allows us to experience His undeserving goodness.  Let’s rally around the Carman family together and help in this small way.  We’re all just holding our breath for this sweet little heart warrior to get here and to reunite he and Everett.  It’s going to be so good!

Happy Wednesday!

Around Here + Must Have Cupcakes

So Everett is hanging close to home all the time in hopes of getting him well and then keeping him well enough for his procedure next week.  We’re home pretty much all day, every day unless we have a doctor’s appointment.  I’m feeling a tad stir crazy and have really been sticking it to my free Amazon Prime this month, but we’re really really praying this procedure will take place.

Strict orders have been given to wash hands, don’t kiss Everett, don’t get in his face and don’t touch his hands.  I thought about Amazon Priming an economy size bottle of hand sanitizer and Lysol.  There’s just far too many little people going out into the world and then coming back into our house.  Ahhhhh.  And I’m not even a germaphobe.

In the mean time we’re trying to make the most of it.  Shuai’s favorite activity mostly consists of sitting on our countertops.  It’s pretty much where he perches most of his day.  He likes to be near me and apparently I live in our kitchen.  #shocker  All our good parenting rules, tricks and tips have gone out the window with this kid.  Here he is eating pie at 9pm the other night.  Sigh.

He also snacks…a lot.  Not sure he’s eaten a complete meal at our table with us yet.  He usually hangs out some, wanders around and grazes on his food.  I keep a little plate of half eaten Everett food.  He hasn’t had any milk at all until we went to eat lunch with Harper on her birthday.  He saw her milk box and just HAD TO HAVE IT!!!  Then he slurped the whole thing down.  When I was telling my SIL who is Chinese, she told me milk boxes are treats in China.  She said she bets that’s why he was so into it.  Well, the next day I bought milk boxes.  5 kids and I’ve avoided buying milk boxes and now here we are.

My BIL who teaches Chinese told us about Mandarin Elmo on YouTube.  I downloaded the Kids YouTube app and it was the sweetest thing ever watching Everett watching Mandarin Elmo.  Like, I teared up.  His disposition changed.  He was just super happy.  Josh and I we’re talking about how comforting it must have been to understand what they we’re saying…to hear his native language like that.  Needless to say, I let him watch it any time he wants.

He loves to play with blocks and cars.  They are his favorite toys.  He loves stacking the blocks crazy high and then knocking them all over.  And he really likes when Amon sets up his race track.  Everett likes Amon a lot and Amon is such a good big brother.  They are good little playmates and as suspected, Amon loves having a new bath buddy.  They get out ALL THE TOYS and bathe away.

  

If you haven’t noticed, we basically live in our PJs.  I mean, when you don’t get out much, what’s the point.  Ha.  Bonus:  PJs are comfy and Everett never objects to some comfy clothes.  He does love to wear his shoes though…even just around the house.  They complete his look.

We’ve been trying to get some fresh air still.  We’ve walked down to our little park a couple of times.  One time it was on Amon’s birthday and funny story, but I thought Amon was in our community center bathroom turns out he was crashing a bridal shower and scored everyone cupcakes.  Hahahahaha.  It ended up being a friend from high school and she was crazy kind to share.

Sidenote:  On the subject of cupcakes…the cupcake I ate was a blueberry cupcake with blueberry butter cream.  I do not even like blueberries, but I dare say this might have been the best cupcake I’ve ever put in my mouth.  So I sent my friend a message and asked where the cupcakes came from.  Turns out another friend from high school, Kristen, has a side baking business The Secret Is In The Sass and made them.  LOCALS listen up…you know how I feel about my baked goods, these cupcakes were crazy legit.  The blueberry one consumed my mind for hours…I just kept thinking about it.  Hahahahaha.  This is my mind you guys.  Anyways, if you need some super, crazy delicious cupcakes head over HERE and place an order.  Seriously, order them!  End Sidenote.

So in conclusion… 1.  If you need us, we’ll be home.  2.  Please continue to pray with us for Everett’s heart and that he’s healthy enough for his heart cath next week.  And 3.  You need THESE cupcakes in your life.

Happy Tuesday.

10!!!!!!!!!!

Harper and Amon’s birthdays are just 4 days apart so at the end of March we party pretty hard.  Harper turned the big ten this year and again, I found myself saying, “What in the world has happened?!?!?!”  All our kids just keep growing and getting older and while it comes with new challenges I am totally digging who our kids are becoming.  Give me all the big kids all day long.

Harper is our first double digit.  Josh’s dad said at dinner the other night, he couldn’t talk about it…in 10 years she’d be twenty.  I mean, she’s 8 years from being a technical adult.  8 years will go by in a flash because 10 sure did.  We call Harper our sanity.  She is so go-with-the-flow and she is mother hen to ever single kid in our family even Hudson and Solomon who are so close to her age.  In China, it was really starting to bother Solomon how lots people were taking pictures of him.  At one point Harper told Josh and I how she could tell it was really bothering him.  We then watched as we traveled from place to place when someone approached Sol to take a photo, Harper would wrap her arm around his neck and push on past the people without even giving them a glance.  She was like his personally body guard.

Don’t get me wrong, she can fight hard with those brother’s too…crazy hard, but she loves harder.  She is absolutely smitten with Amon, Everett and our littlest.  They all get kisses and hugs before she leaves each morning and often she uses her own money to buy them treats at the store.  She has cried bucket loads over our littlest.  She sees her pain and sadness and longing for her biological parents and it crushes Harper’s heart.  Despite Harper wanting her to be her real sister, there is no one who wants our littlest to be reunified with her first family more than Harper Kelley.

Harper is fun and kind and creative.  She loves to draw and paint and color and create anything and everything.  Rainbow is still her favorite color…hence this year marked her 3rd rainbow birthday door.  She’s growing older and her likes are changing from dolls and Polly Pockets to clothes and music and her friends.  She ADORES her friends.  Want to speak her love language…just let her have a friend or cousin over and she will love you forever.  She Facetime’s weekly with her friend Zoe from church who she always sees Wednesday and Sundays 🙂 and gives my phone number out regularly.

She loves to learn and read.  She loves when her teachers give projects and she is crazy independent…maybe comes from the 1st born territory.  She’s a thinker and asks questions.  She likes to be in the know…which I sometimes term “nosey” 🙂  She loves to watch movies and go hiking and build with Legos.  Harper is always always always up for any kind of going and doing.  She loves sending and receiving mail which I madly love.  She writes letters all the time and is the kid who wrote a thank you post card to a friend of mine for a pie 🙂  She loves ALL things sweet forever and ever amen.  She’ll bake up cookies or cook pancakes any chance she gets.

She organized and yet not.  The only thing she asked for for her birthday was a planner and every few months we have to take a whole day to clean out her desk.  She keeps all the paper things.  She’s shockingly great at letting go though and can logically think through keeps, donates and trash.  In January she went through all her doll stuff and individually bagged each outfit with accessories and then said she was ready to donate them.  I died a little, but also LOVED that she was so thoughtful in bagging them all up and giving them away.  She still loves to play school with her brothers and they each have their own homework folder of their work in her desk drawer.

She sets an alarm each morning to get up.  She loves her sleep…she’s pretty much the only kid in our family who really knows how to sleep in.  She’s funny and silly and has the best laugh.  She knows she has a voice and she uses it often for justice and love and fighting and jokes and singing songs and for sharing her feelings and compliments.  She knows each person in our family so well and uses it to build them up.  The other morning I heard her compliment Josh on how green our grass was getting…filled his love tank right up.  Again, don’t get me wrong…she is far from perfect just like the rest of us.  She documents life on her camera ALL THE TIME so we got her a instax polaroid and she was head over heels.  It was a total surprise and she loved it!!!!  Harper is a whole lot of fun and love mixed together.

For her birthday she did not waiver for a moment.  She knew exactly what she wanted.  Rainbow waffles for breakfast and chocolate chip cookies to share with her classmates.  Everett and I HAD to eat lunch with her at school so she could show him off to all her friends.  She wanted to eat dinner at church since her birthday fell on a Wednesday.  We let her plan dinner the next night and she went with grilled hamburgers, chips and strawberries plus Funfetti cupcakes and mint chocolate chip ice-cream for dessert.

Since she was turning the big 10 Josh did an extra birthday activity with her and took her hiking on an overnight trail in Montgomery Bell Park.  Uncle Andy and her cousin Meiya joined them making it even more up Harper’s alley.  We heard all about it and apparently they had the best time.

For her family activity she chose the movies, so yesterday I took Harper, her friend Zoe, Hudson, Solomon and Amon all to see Boss Baby (soooooo funny & good) and then to eat lunch at Steak n Shake.  Milkshakes all around.  They had too much fun.

Oh Harper Kelley!!!  You are a good one indeed.  You made me a mama and have filled our lives to the brim with love and goodness.  You have a heart to watch out for.  You are a world changer.  You have got a fire burning and I cannot wait to see what all God has in store for you.  You are strong, brave and fierce and I could not love you one ounce more.

Happy 10th birthday!

Some Favorite Things

I haven’t done this in a while, but lately I’ve been noticing some new favorite things showing out in my life so I started a list and wanted to share them with you guys today.  The only affiliate links are the Amazon ones and I only recommend things I really and truthfully love and think are legit.  Oh, by the way, first off, Happy Friday.  I should have led with that 🙂  So excited for the weekend.  I’m currently trying not to wish time away so we can get to Everett’s heart cath quicker and I might be lining up fun things between now and then hoping the time will past faster.  Okay, I digress, so onto some favorites.

Fashionable’s Earring Bar:  I LOVE small, different earrings and usually have a hard time finding ones I really like.  Fashionable is an amazing company here in Nashville…a purchase with great purpose business.  I purchased several pairs of their earrings as gifts and finally broke down and got myself a pair when they we’re having a Thanksgiving sale.  Oh my!!!!  You guys, I love these earrings.  They are my favorite.  And now they have an earring bar where you can purchase single earring studs that are handmade, unique and have great purpose.  Totally check them out.

Missoula Silicone 4 Sizes Icing Bag Set:  A long time ago I had an amazing Wilson icing tube contraption thing and one sad sad day it broke.  For the longest time I’ve just been working with ziplock baggies which inevitably bust on me so I finally decided to order some reusable piping bags. I snagged a silicone set on Amazon and haven’t regretted it for a moment.  They are easy to use, store and wash.  I am sold!

Lovishly Miniature China Necklace:  Lovishly is another amazing purposeful company I have become quite smitten with.  I actually saw this necklace in person first on my SIL Becky when my niece Nia was born.  I was instantly in love.  It’s small and dainty and gorgeous.  Then I bought the same necklace for a dear friend to commemorate the unimaginable goodness God was doing in their family.  I now have a list of things I’ve got my eye on from this awesome company.

 

Listen and Learn First Chinese Words Book:  I received this book free from our Usborne Book fundraiser we did for Everett’s adoption.  The kids all really liked it already…hearing the Chinese words for everyday things, but then Everett got a hold of it and he LOVES it.  Right now I’m noticing how hearing mandarin is really comforting and soothing to him.  He loves to sit with this book, push the pictures and hear his native language.  I like this book so much I’ve already purchased it for a friend.

Garmin Forerunner 15:  I’ve had this watch for a while now and it is the best “sporty” watch I’ve owned.  When I started training for a 1/2 marathon last January I wanted to get a watch that was easy to use and wasn’t crazy expensive, but also had GPS to track runs, milage, times, etc.  It also has a timer, keeps up with your history and even your steps and is waterproof.  I pretty much never took it off over the past 15 months.  Bonus:  It was perfect for our “live at the wave pool” days of summer.  The other day my band broke and I have been like a lost sheep 🙂  I definitely need my watch to help me keep up.  I already ordered a replacement band because I need this watch back in my life asap.

 

Simple Seize the Day Planner:  In December I started looking for a new planner.  I’ve been an Erin Condren advocate for years now…like years!!!!!! but in December I started to feel the need for something simpler.  Something smaller and easier to throw in my purse.  I searched and searched and finally landed on MochiThings and found THE PLANNER I had been looking for.  It was smaller, simpler, thinner and had grid paper.  I love a good grid paper.  I will say you do have to fill the calendar out for yourself, but I actually loved doing that…it’s right up my brain’s alley.  I have really really really enjoyed this planner and already decided I will be purchasing it again for next year.

 

And last, but certainly not least Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix + Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Can Icing:  I pride myself on homemade baked goodies, love them in every sense of the word and truly believe baked goods can change the world.  Typically my kids ask for homemade things I love to make, but then Harper inevitably breaks the mold.  Every.Single.Time.  Any time she gets to pick the dessert choice 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be Pillsbury Funfetti Cupcakes topped with Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Icing.

Her birthday was Wednesday and of course this was her choice of celebratory dessert.  When she picks this I do 2 things: 1.  I’m elated because a box cake and a can of icing is my kind of time saver love.  2.  My mouth waters because this is absolutely the most amazing combination of box cake and canned icing that could possibly exist.  I mean, if you really think you can rival it, please lay it on me because I’ve yet to eat anything which comes close.  And let’s be real, the rainbow chip icing is what really sends this combo over the incredibly tasty edge.  I don’t know what those little chips actually are…I honestly don’t even care what those little chips actually are because all I know is they are heavenly in my mouth.  Harper picked the cupcake variety because she said they would last longer.  I ate 3 yesterday.  Your birthday cupcakes do not last longer when your mother is hiding behind the refrigerator every hour or so eating another one of your cupcakes.

Alright.  That’s it for some of my current favorite things.  If you have something you think I need to hear about please share!!!!!  I’d love to read about what you’re loving right now too.

Happy Friday.

5!!!!!!!!!!

Amon turned the massive 5 on Saturday and I’ve just decided to be in complete denial.  I mean, this kid will start kindergarten in the fall.  How can this even be happening?!?!?!  He is supposed to be tiny and the baby and I just don’t know how we’re all going to cope with our first heart warrior growing up.  He’s the kid who broke onto the scene out of no where with his broken little heart and God used him to restore our joy and help mend up our hearts as well.  I’ve never been sadder than when Mom died and 5 months later we met Amon.  God renewed our joy through this heart warrior and his amazing little story.  If only I could tell you the whole shebang…it’s simply unreal…maybe one day Amon will write a book.  Makes me want to cry buckets just thinking about it.

He is the funniest, quirkiest and most joyful kid.  He makes us cackle with laughter all the time and he loves bears and ninja fighting.  He’s been through the ringer for sure health wise, but this dude just keeps getting better and better.  God has done amazing work in his life with his hearing and his speech and his heart and his little mind.  He couldn’t hear…he couldn’t speak…his heart needed much repair and God met us at each fork in the road and made the way.  We we’re sure Amon had learning disabilities, but turns out he’s on track, colors just aren’t his strength and he isn’t one to want to be in the spotlight out in public.  I cannot cannot cannot wait to see what God has planned for him.

He loves all things related to music and listening to him sing his heart out in church melts me into a puddle.  He digs sweets and treats, will be any grown man’s best friend, loves baseball or ANY sport for that matter and has so many cat like tendencies it’s not even funny…but really it is.  One of our all time favorite Amon moments was after Josh Kelley installed a fan in our bedroom finding him swatting at the fan and light pulls exactly like a cat.  He’s pretty much the perfect cat ever.

He is the best snuggler around.  If you need some loven Amon is your man…added bonus he can fall asleep anywhere and has amazing hair.  His best friend is hands down his Big Daddy.  Early on when Amon didn’t speak and Big Daddy had yet to get his hearing aids they forged quite the bond and it just gets stronger and stronger as time goes on.  They make the perfect duo.  He is currently working hard on learning how to fish so he can fish with Big Daddy all the time.  Amon also has insatiable dance moves, still sleeps with the rattiest, smelliest blanket in town and loves a good, long, toy filled bath.

For his big day he slept in our back yard in a tent with Hudson and Solomon.  Instead of decorating his door we filled his tent with balloons.  He LOVES balloons…always has.  He paraded through our bedroom in the morning with his balloons in tow and announced, “Mom, it’s like my 100th birthday.”  He asked for donuts for breakfast and Chickfila for lunch.  Each time a birthday card arrived in the mail for him it was pretty much like he’d won the lottery.

Amon wanted to go to Monkey Joes for our family activity even though the majority of us new what a bad idea that was 🙂 but hey, on your birthday we let you make poor choices like Monkey Joes on a Saturday.  He asked for chocolate LionGuard cupcakes and Oreo ice-cream for dessert.  Thank you Amazon prime for having plastic LionGuard rings because my mind has been in a 112 other places.  He thought they we’re awesome.  And for dinner he requested pigs-in-a-blanket, strawberries, cheese, carrots, queso and chips.

 

Josh Kelley and myself still look at each other in shock and wonder because we get to be his parents.  He is simply wild, fantastic joy.  God knew just the son and brother our family needed.  God knew how much wonder and loveliness Amon would bring.  All the tears.  What a good, gracious and loving Father we serve.

Amon Kelley you are joy and it’s such an honor to be your mama.  You make everyday that much better and boy do you shine.  Happy 5th birthday!!!

Trusting Him To Make A Way

Just stopping in to say hi!  Spring break is officially over and the big kids headed back to school this morning.  Our weekend was semi-madness celebrating Amon’s 5th birthday…more on that later…and Everett heading back to the doctor Sunday and then onto the ER for about a 7 hour stay.  We had to go to the cardiologist yesterday morning and then last night they actually called and pushed back his procedure he was suppose to have tomorrow.  We are all bummed, but understand it is for his safety.  Dude has a funky cough and had everyone alarmed and anesthesia does not want to put him to sleep when he’s not at his best.  Now we just have to get rid of this funk so we can finally get down to business.

Right now I simply struggle with the unknown.  I am not a worrier, but I am a planner.  It is killing me to not know what is going to happen and how we are going to go about repairing his heart.  We knew his heart was special.  We knew his heart was complicated.  We knew his heart was in major need of repair.  I honestly thought it would be a hard road, but at least there would be some sort of path to follow.  Amon’s heart had a clear path, Everett’s does not.  What we’re learning is that sometimes there’s just not a path yet.

We’re all working on our patience and trusting God to make a way when a path is not clear.  We’re trying to move through each day with intentionality.  When I lay my head next to Shuai’s in his bed I look into those almond eyes and breath him in deep.  I cry a lot, but so much of those tears are of gratitude to our God who writes the most beautiful and mind blowing stories.  We’re taking it day-by-day and trying to just do the next right thing.  We’re comforting a grieving little boy who doesn’t feel his best.  He has started reverting back to some of his coping/grieving ways we saw when we first met him…not eating…we’re wondering if man can live on yogurt and chips alone 🙂 … running his hands under the water, sleeping a lot and attachment to his sippy cup.  This time around though he wants to be held all the time.  He is learning we are here for him and he’s coming to us for comfort instead of moving through his sadness solo and for that we are incredibly grateful.

So now we wait and trust and try and let go and look for all the joy.  God remains His good self and we’re tying to rest right there.  Thank you again for all the prayers and encouragement.  I’ve said it a 1000 times and I’ll probably say it a 1000 more, but we are so crazy grateful!!!!

Happy Tuesday.

So Much To Choose From

Things are super wonky in my head currently which makes me think through and question just about everything I think about posting in this space.  Life is a bit weird right now for lots and lots of reasons, but mainly the big ones consuming our minds are of course Everett’s heart, adjustment & bonding and our littlest.  I can feel the weight of all these big feelings every day and have found myself having to fight for joy…having to choose to see the light all around because it is very much there.  Our life isn’t desolate…it’s full of beauty and joy…sometimes I just have to be really deliberate in choosing to look for it and see it when circumstances weigh heavy on us.

I feel very out of whack on so many levels.  I don’t feel totally like my normal self.  I don’t do well with uncertainty and waiting and right now they both swirl wildly around Everett and our littlest.  I keep being reminded that God’s goodness is not circumstantial.  So in the darkness…in those moments that make you question everything…in those moments of complete uncertainty…in those moments when the miracle doesn’t happen…in those moments of desolation…He is still good.  When our troubles ebb and flow God’s goodness does not.  He is steady and dependable.  He does not waiver not for a moment.

We’re still waiting to hear and know and decide about Everett’s heart.  He’s having a procedure on Wednesday that will give the team more information they need before making big decisions.  Then Josh and I will be making big decisions from there.  I don’t like how I feel right now, but we are ready to get this ball rolling wherever it may roll.

It was funny being in China because I sort of forgot about our role as foster parents.  I let my MIL take it over and honestly didn’t think too much about it.  We Facetimed almost everyday with Amon and our littlest, but we were far removed from all the paperwork and scheduling and emails and visits and drop-ins and court dates and so on and so on.  We were flung back into our roles upon arriving home and our littlest is just struggling hard to figure out her place especially with Everett now home and him requiring so much of our attention.  Things are just hard for her right now and the emotions that come with a struggling, confused 3-year-old…well, you can imagine 🙂

Even when things are weird and wonky and hard God never ceases to amaze us.  Since arriving home just a mere 14 days ago I have been absolutely astounded by Jesus every single day…meeting us in the most creative, sweet, gracious and loving ways.  He seriously never ceases.  Even when the joy feels hard to choose there is always so much to choose from.  Always.

For us joy has looked like big kids who are embracing Everett like he’s always been here and with such compassion and empathy.  When Harper learned Everett’s procedure would be on her birthday the tears just streamed.  She was so looking forward to introducing him to all her friends at school when I brought treats for her birthday.  She was devastated to not be celebrating with Everett.  She decided to bump all celebrating until he’s home and he gave her some sweet loven’ when he saw how upset she was.  Nothing is quite like his little arms beckoning you to him.

The sky always speaks God’s goodness straight to my eyeballs and down into my soul.  One morning this week I didn’t even need groceries, but after our workout I made a beeline for Kroger to watch the sky.  I could see it from afar and it was just what my heart needed.  I sat there and prayed over Everett’s best friend we met in China…this little boy who has been with Everett for a long time and who stole our hearts while there.  I prayed over him and his forever family.  What an honor to love these children.  What a honor to serve a God who just blows us away with all the crazy stuff He does just so we can be apart of and experience His goodness…to feel His love through tiny little arms.  I’ll never understand it.  Truly I won’t.  It takes my breath away every single time.

His goodness has looked like a fun movie and popsicles from Aunt Jen when we have to cancel all plans and stay home because Everett simply cannot get sick before next Wednesday.  It’s been dinner delivered to our door on hard days when Everett is struggling and wants snuggles all the live long day.  It’s friends and family completely overlooking how long it’s been since I’ve showered and how filthy our house is.

It’s being able to text friends for the 10,000th time to ask for prayer again and it being met with encouraging replies and not one ounce of annoyance or contempt.  I don’t like that I am the person who currently always needs prayer.  It has taken my pride down a few notches to say the least which I ask God to do every day.  Why am I surprised when He agrees that my pride is a problem too 🙂

I found joy in a quick run to Target when I discovered our littlest and Harper had out grown ALL THEIR CLOTHES.  What a luxury it is to casually walk through a store and pick up some clothes for our kids.  And don’t even get me started on the luxury of grocery shopping.

I’ve found it in His word.  I really love Jesus, but while in this funk I have not wanted to read my Bible…especially since I’m currently in Exodus.  No offense Exodus, but, ummmmmm, we’ve just been together too long…it’s not you, it’s me.

I knew I had to do something to combat the darkness I was feeling so I pulled out my alphabet of who I am in Christ my friend Amber had shared.  I chose the first name from the Old Testament and found myself in Isaiah 61.  I’ve been on this Bible journaling journey for 2 1/2 years and for the first time I journaled a random chapter and it was exactly what I needed.

So I decided to stay in Isaiah a bit.  Here’s what I love about Bible journaling…it is so personal…it’s a relationship between me and God and doing what works for my heart at the time is a-okay.  There are no rules to this.  Isaiah is proving to be my water in the desert.  It’s giving life and speaking words I need to hear right this very moment.  Every day.  I haven’t abandoned Exodus…I’ll still come back to it, but I’m going to hang in Isaiah a little longer.

And we’ve seen God’s goodness and joy mostly in Everett.  With every child who joins our family God just humbles us before Him again.  We cannot get over them and why, oh why, God would think we’re good enough to be their mom and dad.  They’ve each come from different places and in all kinds of ways and with all kinds of stories, but each one so uniquely designed by their Father.

Everett is smart and sweet and cuddly and kind.  He understands so much and his favorite new saying is, “Mama, I need to tell you something.” which Amon says 5,000 times a day.  He is really adjusting so well.  I feel like we prepared for the absolute worst and this kid has just blown us away.  He is amazing…God is amazing.  Please continue to pray with us for his heart…it is crazy beautiful, but very broken.  We’re asking God for miracles and soaking up every moment with our boy.  His goodness is so evident in our son and joy spills out of this kid.  What a gem.  What a gift we’ve been given.