Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Infections and Celebrations


Well last Monday I got the worst eye infection I have ever had.  I had an ulcer on my eye and I'm not kidding when I say I would rather have a c-section that that eye infection again.  It was SO painful.  Thankfully I have a friend who is an eye doctor (he's actually Harper's Sunday School teacher) and he worked me in on Tuesday when I could barely function.  I could barely see much less drive but the little driving I did I had to wear my sunglasses over my glasses because light was my enemy.  Thankfully I got some miracle drops and I was basically fine by Saturday.  


Friday Harper got student of the week for her class in the school assembly so I got to surprise and be there to congratulate her! Then I went to Fayetteville for the day with Laurie and my friend Sharon. Once a year we try to meet up with Sharon and shop and have lunch.  It was cold and rainy and I had to wear my thick, crooked 9 year old glasses but we had a great time.  I didn't take one picture! 


Harper decided this year that she didn't want a party - she just wanted to spend time with her family and have a fun day with her best friend.  We are basically having a week long celebration.  She wanted to go swimming Saturday.  It was 36 outside but we have a great indoor water park so we went and had the best time.  And I did not have to get in a swim suit which was the best part! It's a shallow pool.  


Will Holden loved it.  Scott wore a swim suit so he could chase him around thank goodness.  


Harper was introduced to the wonder that is a Dairy Queen ice cream cake and she LOVED it.  I don't really like ice cream or birthday cake so I'm glad it wasn't a temptation. ha! 

Sunday we went to church and then sadly watched the Cowboys lose.  Scott is a big life long fan so we had hopes that this might be our year but it was not to be.  Being a Cowboys or a Razorback fan and especially both leads to a lot of disappointment. ha! 


Monday was Harper's birthday.  We were out of school for MLK day (which Harper has said over and over that it was "SO COOL" that she and MLK shared a day.  She has loved learning about him and learning especially about why racism is STUPID.  It's on the inside that counts is what she would tell you!) 

We had to take Will Holden to an appointment in the morning  (I'm so glad I forgot when I scheduled it that everyone was out of school.  Not.) Laurie brought Sarah Kate over and we had a baby sitter come stay with Will Holden so I could take the girls out for a fun day! 

First stop was lunch at Chuy's.  This was Harper's pick.  And a good one I might add.  



Harper wanted two things for her birthday - a fit bit and to get her ears pierced.  Scott ordered her a Garmin Jr and it's been so great.  He put a lot of tasks on it where she can earn points.  It's very motivating.  She has also been trying to get a ton of steps in each day.  

We went to Claire's so she could get her ears pierced.  I had originally settled on 10 as a good age but Sarah Kate had hers done this past summer and Harper said most of the girls in her class had their ears pierced.  And I just think maturity wise she was ready.  I love this picture of the girls holding hands.  SO sweet. 


They did them both at once so it was easy and quick and Harper didn't even flinch.  


Sarah Kate was proud of her! 


She picked little pearls and I think she looks so pretty.  And grown up.  WAAAAHHH.  I'm really not too sad.  I miss my baby Harper but I just think each age brings a new level of greatness.  Eight is a wonderful place.  They are still sweet and loving and haven't hit the pre-teen stage yet but they are independent and mature and just easy to be with.  

(Her sweatshirt is from Crazy 8.  I've had a ton of people ask on IG.  I got it last summer knowing she would be turning 8.  It was such a cute shirt to wear for her big day!) 


We got frozen yogurt and then went home and had spaghetti which is Harper's favorite meal.  

The fun continues later this week because both grandparents will be here Thursday to celebrate and then we are headed to Dallas with my parents to see my brother and his family.  

(And this is where I should confess if you are following me on IG that I quit Whole 30 last week during the painful eye infection.  I drank a big Sonic coke and didn't care. ha! I'm going to just start fresh next week after our weekend trip.  The thing with Whole 30 is to give yourself grace.  If you cheat  - you really need to start over on Day 1.  But it's okay.  You aren't a failure.  Just try try again!) 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Eight


Oh Harper Brown.

You came into this world in a dramatic way and there hasn't been a boring day since.  


You are kind with a heart that loves people, animals and Jesus more than anything.  

You are tender hearted and the most giving person I know.  


You are just JOY.  That's the word that comes to mind when I think of you.  You are always full of joy and you give me so much joy.  You are always smiling and you smile from the inside out.  


You are in the second grade and you love school.  You have the sweetest teacher which helps.  You have lots of friends.  You love going to gymnastics and church.  You love riding your bike.  You love reading and watching your iPad.  Liv and Maddie has been one of your favorite shows this year.  And Brady Bunch.  You LOVE to sing.  And you just love to laugh.  You are one of the funniest people I know.  


You love playing with your sister.  Ya'll have the sweetest friendship even though you can also fight like cats and dogs.  You are the BEST sister to Will Holden. And you are so much help.  It's almost like having a live in nanny because you love to help with him and you are always declaring how "adorable" he is.  You are just a born nurturer.  You love animals too.  You always say you want to be a doctor or a veterinarian when you grow up.  Or have a fro yo shop.  


You pray the sweetest, most amazing prayers that come from the bottom of your heart.  I just know that God has a big purpose with your life.  My prayer is that you will be passionate about His word and His people.  I pray you will always be kind and loving.  I pray that you will always be as joyful as you at eight years old.  You are a light that shines so bright.  

I love you more than you could possibly ever know.  It is an honor to be your mother.  

As I tell you most nights before you go to sleep - you are beautiful, you are smart and you are kind. And I'm so proud of you! 

Happy 8th birthday! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Fellowship - Jessica Nix



Today my guest is Jessica Nix.  She is one of my closest friends.  She is the mom of three, an adoptive mom, a foster mom, a full time working mom, a crazy crossfit addict and she's so much fun to be with.  The thing I love most about Jessica is she is probably one of the most giving people I know.  Anytime anyone in our group has a need - Jessica is the very first one to help.  Even though she works full time and has four kids in her home - she is the first to take a meal or volunteer her time or donate to help others.  She's the kind of person who gets up early to take hot chocolate to teachers who have to do carline in freezing temperatures.  Or who brings a diet coke to a new mom who can't get out.  She's just an amazing person.  She's answering my question today but she's also sharing about her journey with foster care! I know there are many of you out there who may be interested or may be starting that journey and Jessica is passionate about it.  I hope she will encourage you! She adopted their daughter through the foster care system and I was so honored to be there the day it was official.  Piper and Will Holden are in same class at church and we are already arranging that marriage! She's the cutest little girl ever! (And she has two sweet boys as well!)


Hey y’all heeeeey!!! So gal pal Kelly Stamps reached out to me on this and at first, I was all, I don’t have time for this and no one cares. But I sat on it a day or two and finally said ok. This is a chance for me to share my heart and what I’m passionate about and right now, there is a huge need for foster homes. Huge. So if I can share Piper’s story and help spread awareness, then this will serve its purpose. 

The need for foster homes is at all-time high for the state of Arkansas. More kids are coming into care faster than homes are being open. The Lord commanded us to look after the orphans and widows (James 1:27) - so where is the church? Why aren’t there more homes being open? Awareness is key and I don’t think that people are aware of the need. Just last month alone, there were a total of 5,080 kids in care and only 1,257 open homes in the whole state of Arkansas. For NWA, we have 508 of those kids and only 196 homes. There are just simply not enough homes for these kids…kids that don’t even ask to put “in the system”. Kids that don’t ask to be separated from their mom or dad or even siblings because families aren’t stepping up, the church isn’t stepping up….

I get that not a lot of homes could take on a sibling group of 5, but you could help with one. Start with one…

Piper’s story - Big Bill and I knew one day we’d adopt. We talked about it long before we were even married. We didn’t know how or when, but it was both in our hearts. Fast forward a whole lotta years later, we started down this path that was basically equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest at times. After having baby #2, we finally attended an informational meeting The Call  was hosting in our area. We were able to hear from current and past foster/adopt homes, DHS, and Call Volunteers on the process. We were also given the statistics for our area and state. After that meeting was over, I remember sitting in the parking lot of that church and crying. I am now aware of the need in our own backyard.

Piper was our 2nd placement. Our first placements were a sibling group of 2. I have never needed the Lord or my friends/family like I needed them when we first opened. We look back and laugh now about some of the crazy that happened those 5 months but at the time, there was a lot more crying than laughing. It was hard. After they left, we deceided we needed a break. We just started building our house and life is still happening with the boys. Well, praise God that He just doesn’t take a break on us whenever He feels like it. You see, DHS was supposed to switch us back in the system as Adopt only, we were foster to adopt when we had the sibling group. But they didn’t. They got busy, they forgot, whatever they meant to do, they didn’t. And that was a God thing. Because had they remember, we wouldn’t have Piper today. Since we were still listed as foster, I got the call about Piper on a Monday morning in August. It was a message from DHS about this healthy 9 month old baby girl. My good friend and fellow foster momma also got the call and she texted me, just in case DHS hadn’t gotten down to us yet on the list. I immediately call Big Bill and y’all, he was not on board. He was telling me everything I already knew, what about daycare? What about a bed? We have NOTHING for a baby…how would this work?  He was so hesitant. I said let me call daycare, we can figure out the rest…and by we, I mean the Lord – ha! Within 30 minutes, we had daycare lined out and a crib. You know if you just sit back to watch the Lord move, He will move. Deuteronomy 31:8 says  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” God had already lined all of this out before we even knew about Piper. 

Just like the days I gave birth to my boys, I won’t ever forget seeing Piper the first time. She was so tiny, very underweight, super happy. At the time we took placement of her, it was still a foster case. The next 6 months were the longest months of my life. Weekly supervised visits that sometimes no one showed up for, court hearings, staffings, and appointments filled our weeks as we waded thru the unknown waters. Early on in her case, biological mom was trying really, really hard to work the case plan so she can have her baby girl back. And y’all, I was just paralyzed with fear. We wanted mom to work the case plan, to get healthy and get better, but selfishly we wanted this baby. A few weeks after getting her, the Lord gave me a vision. It was the boys playing in the field at the new house and she was with them. They were older, but it was the three of them. That’s when I realized that God had a plan…Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you..” 


Fast forward to mid-January of this year, we had a very hard staffing with DHS and bio mom and dad that day. By now, DHS had changed the case plan to adoption and were planning on terminating parental rights. And y’all, I hurt. I hurt for the mom. Mom to mom, you don’t ever want to see someone fail. I just couldn’t grasp why she couldn’t pull herself together for the baby. I couldn’t grasp why she was choosing something bad over something good. That night, as I rocked Piper to sleep, my heart was so heavy. I just kept telling her that I am fighting for you and that’s when I heard the Lord whisper the same to me, I will fight for you, you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).

The Lord protected Piper from the beginning. She was a drug baby, born 8 weeks early. God literally had His hand protecting her inside her mother’s womb. There are SO MANY things that could and probably should be wrong with Piper. But there isn’t one.single.thing. 1 Peter 1:5

For us to adopt our Piper, two parents had to experience a loss. Adoption is a happy time, but don’t think we don’t think about mom and dad often. No matter the choices they made, we will be forever grateful for them. 




Foster care has really opened our eyes to what is happening in our sweet little Mayberry town. I pray that if any of you are interested in foster care and/or adopting thru foster care that this will speak to you. I can talk all day long about this and would love to talk more about it to those who are interested. Leave your email in the comments below and Kelly will get me your info. There are a few ways to help, if you don’t feel the need to foster to adopt. 
  • Support a family or friend who is. Pray for them. Bring them a meal. Send them a gift card for their favorite restaurant! Babysit for free so they can enjoy a kid free hour or two. Anyone can watch a foster child in the foster home for up to 8 hours. If it’s over 8 hours, look into becoming a FFSS.
  • Become a FFSS (foster family support system) FFSS are ones who can watch a foster child in THEIR home for up to 72 hours! This is a big help to families who may not have other Grandma/Grandpa/Aunt/Uncle close to help out. 
  • Become a CASA – court appointed special advocates. These peeps are the voices for children! They focus primarily on the child, not the foster parents or biological parents. They recommend what they see is the best interest for the child. They also help with purchasing gifts for Christmas and other things. Great organization. 
  • Most of all, just pray. Pray for these kids to feel safe, loved and wanted. Could y’all imagine being removed from all you’ve ever know, whether it was an ideal situation or not, and move in with a family that you didn’t even know? Heartbreaking. 


1.  What is your favorite Food? Pizza. Any day that ends in Y.

2.  What is your very favorite piece of clothing right now? (FASHION) I love all things fashion but if I had to narrow it down to at least a category, it’d be a good ol’ handbag :) Michael Kors is my go-to!

3.  Tell us about your Family? Billy, who I also refer to as Big Bill, and I have been married for over 13 years. We have 3 tiny humans, Parker is almost 9, Peyton - who also goes by Peyterbug or Boss, or sometimes he makes up names and requests you to call him those - is 6 and our newest little P, Piper coming in at 2. 




4.  What is the most important quality in your Friends? OR tell us something that a Friend has done for you that you can't forget.  Friends are high on my list, always have been, always will be. I mean, my bestie and I have been attached at the hip since Mrs. Woods’ 5th grade homeroom class. I still talk to several good friends of mine from back home. And the friends that we have made where we live now are indescribable. People who I know we can count on to pray, laugh, cry and literally talk about ANYTHING (trust me, you do not want to read our group texts!) are who I call in my circle. Having friends in the same season of life as we are in is a necessity.

5.  What's something you have learned recently in your Faith journey?  And/or share your favorite scripture right now and why or your favorite Bible Study or book you have read recently. 

 We simply would not have gotten thru our foster care journey to adoption without the Bible. One of my favorite sections is in Hebrews 11. My all-time favorite verse is Psalm 56:3 “what time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee” I have an old window with this verse in a vinyl print and I’ve hung pictures of our foster babies that we’ve had the privilege of having. We were afraid of foster care. We didn’t want to do it. So this verse is something I relied on heavily.

6.  What is your biggest Fear? Hmmm…I guess you could say having my blood drawn or anything else that has to do with blood. Makes me want to hurl.

7.  What are some of your Favorite things right now? We recently just built and moved into our new house, so junk hunting has been high on the list. Our boys are also very involved in football right now and I know NOTHING about football (gasp!) so I’m trying to pay attention to the positions and what not. I recently referred to Parker as a goalie during a scrimmage and he gave me a stern lecture on “there are no goalies in football mom”!! So I’m trying!

8.  What has been your biggest Failure? Cooking. Hands down. I hate it. My sister got me a dishtowel that says something like, “even the fire alarms cheer for me when I cook” I can make a good ol jug of sweet tea but that’s all I got.



9.  What do you do for Fun? I love, love, love working out. It is fun for me :) I’ve been an avid Cross Fitter for about 4 years now and ran a few years before that. I love to workout. I also love doing races, not necessarily running races, but fun obstacle ones. Warrior Dash, Sprint Triathlon, a few Cross Fit competitions, half marathon…I also love to shop. And now that we have a little girl, well, you can imagine the kind of trouble I get in.

10.  Tell me about what animals you have? (Furry things) We have 2 fur babies, Harley - an 11 year old teacup Chihuahua - and Captain Galaxy Spike - a 5 month old barn cat, even though we don’t have a barn. And I don’t really like cats. It’s a complicated relationship.

11.  What is your favorite FILM? (movie) The 8 year old in me says The Little Mermaid. The 34 year old in me says I don’t have time to watch movies, but I did love the Hunger Games movies and books and Twilight series. Ha!

12.  What is one Fact we might not know about you? I don’t eat salads. At all. Never have. And still to this day, if we are eating at Mazzio’s Pizza in Poteau, Oklahoma, my momma will ask me, “do you want the salad bar?” And I’m all “since when have I ever gotten the salad bar?” And we laugh. It’s like an inside joke now. Ha!