Friday, March 29, 2013

We'd like you to meet...

...our new daughter!

Isn't she just the best?  She really, really is.

I owe you all an update and it's coming, but I need to allow things to settle in my mind and heart before I can sort through what to share.  There are some things I know we will just treasure privately because they are too holy to share.  But you know me - there will be no shortage of details once I get it all sorted out!

For now, all you need to know is that God is good and that He has knit our little family together with perfection and attention to detail.  Not one thing was left undone, not one thing was left wanting.  We are grateful.  We are humbled.  We are joyful.  We are a family of FOUR!

Thanks for checking in.  I promise I'll give you some details soon.  But for now, feast your eyes on the cuteness of our girl.  Many, MANY more pictures to come!

With much love,
the Kautzi Family
Eric, Kelsey, Lila and FAITH

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Things are happening!

When I was pregnant with Lila, I had a conversation with my friend and doula, Genny about how she would know when it was time for us to go to the hospital.  She said that most women say the same phrase right before they hit the peak of labor, and when she hears that phrase that means it’s time to go.

What’s the magic phrase?

I can’t do this anymore.

I remember that moment vividly during Lila’s labor.  It was 7:00am and I was perched on the couch in our living room in the only position that felt comfortable and I had been laboring since the evening before.  I thought I couldn’t do it anymore and I said so.  If you remember the story, you’ll remember that I actually could do it some more – eight hours some more.  My firstborn tumbled into this world at 3:28pm December 16, 2009.

Three years later, here we are: anticipating our next girl.  No swollen ankles this time and a totally different kind of labor.

I woke up Saturday feeling discouraged.  It had been over 100 days since we had first learned about our girl and over two months since we had heard anything from her birth family to give us any insight into what they were thinking.  It was getting too hard.  I felt like I was running out of grace for the wait and I knew that it would likely be at least another 6 days before we heard anything.  I didn’t think I could make it another 6 days.  I cried and prayed:

I can’t do this anymore.

It turns out I was running out of grace for the wait, but not because God sold me short - because the wait was over.  An hour after I cried my "peak of labor" prayer, I checked my email and read the most beautiful and unexpected words:
“{Faith’s Birth Mom} is planning on being in town and would like to meet you.”  It went on to say that Faith’s birth mom had been making preparations for Faith to transition to our care and that she would like to begin having visits with us over the course of the next few weeks.

I read and re-read the email not daring to believe what I thought it was saying.  She wants to meet us. This is happening!

Less than two hours later – before we’d even had a chance to respond to the first email -  another email appeared in my inbox, subject line: Even Newer Developments – IMPORTANT!

This is where it gets crazy.

Faith’s birth mom had called and indicated that she would like us to come pick Faith up sometime before March 31st preferably TUESDAY.  This was Saturday, so in THREE DAYS.  Oh yeah, and they live 7 hours away.

We went from overjoyed and shocked to thrilled and panicked!  Three hours earlier we didn’t even know if Faith’s birth parents were still considering adoption and now they wanted us to pick her up in three days!  We were going to be a family of four in three days!  Lila was going to be a big sister in 3 days!  We were going to have a six-month-old in our house in THREE DAYS! "AAAAAHHHHHH!" said my brain!

The Husband was cracking me up.  We got the second email in the midst of lunch and when I read it aloud, he got up from the table and immediately went into Faith’s room and started banging on the crib, readjusting the mattress. 

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I called to him, laughing.

“I don’t know!  You told me to readjust the bed!” 

The Husband’s reaction was to jump into action, my reaction was to cry into my Dr. Pepper, making really awkward noises that prompted Lila to ask “Mommy, why are you making that sound?”  Don’t worry, Sweetie, Mommy’s brain is just exploding.

I felt like I had zip-lined from the pit of despair to the top of the glowing mountain and my emotions weren’t quite sure how they were supposed to respond.  We both just walked around in shaky trances the rest of the day occasionally saying things like, “This is happening” and “we’re getting a baby!” and "what do we need to do?"

There were several things that had to fall into place for things to move forward.  And once again, I’m not going to get into specifics because I want to protect Faith’s birth family.  I will say that most of the things that needed to fall into place involved offices and businesses that typically aren’t open on the weekend so we were going to have to wait until Monday morning before we knew when we would leave. 

I occupied myself by scrambling to find a substitute for my class on Wednesday, writing up sub plans, and trying to get Faith's room into a state that said more "Welcome home!" than "We didn't know if you were coming or not!"  The Husband continued to bang on furniture and tackle the to-do list we had been casually making for the last three months – always wondering if we would actually need to do the things on it in the end.

I guess I’ll skip forward and say that it is currently 6:51pm on Monday March 25, 2013 and I am typing this as we drive to the town where we will meet our little girl tomorrow. 

In the last 24 hours alone, God has been putting together a complicated puzzle in the most miraculous way and all we can say is what we’ve been saying all day:

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!

P.S. These posts will be coming about a day late so I actually wrote this yesterday.  I'll write one about today's adventures and post it tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Um guys...

Things are happening...

Friday, March 22, 2013

some thoughts on adoption

Six days. Six. Six days.

I may be freaking out a little bit.

We are wrapping up the last few must-dos.  We bought a new crib mattress (Lila had pretty much destroyed hers with her crib acrobatics - it was a hand-me-down so it was already a little worn), ordered the rug for Faith's room, I have been arranging and re-arranging the furniture and I'm having a very small shower tomorrow.  (We're calling it a Faith Shower - because of her name (duh) and because I felt like part of choosing faith over fear and stepping out onto the waters was putting some action behind my hope.)

I have been thinking so much about Faith's birth parents these last few days.  I weep when I imagine her birth mom holding her, trying to memorize her face and fingers, counting down the last of her days with her baby girl.  I grieve when I think about how hard this will be for Faith - how confusing and traumatizing it will be to be ripped from everything she knows.  Everything will smell strange, look strange - even the language will sound strange to her.  She won't have a single familiar face.  Imagine how terrifying that would be for a little baby.  It's heartbreaking to think about.

This may sound strange to you if you are not familiar with adoption or maybe even if you are, but I really wrestle with the idea that we are not Faith's best option.  How can I say that we are her best option when joining our family necessitates a severe trauma in her young life?  I can't.

The best case scenario for Faith's health and well-being would be for her birth family to be able to give her the support and care she needs.  Could they?  I don't know.  And it's not for me to make that call.  Only her birth parents can decide if they can give her what she needs.  There is an ever-growing part of me that hopes - for Faith's sake - that they decide they can (even as I hope - for my sake - that they decide they can't).  I really, truly believe that it would be best for her to stay with them if they can give her what she needs.

It is so strange to reconcile that belief with my longing to have her as my daughter.  The only way I can do that is to remind myself that I don't get to choose if she is placed for adoption, but I do get to choose to adopt her if she is.  If she is going to be placed for adoption, I think we are a wonderful fit for her.  We will love her with all of our hearts and we will do everything we can to give her a happy, healthy life.  I am giddy at the thought of having her as our girl.

And yet in the next moment, I grieve all over again for the losses in her little baby life and the losses her birth family will experience.  It is no small wonder that I am losing my ever-lovin' mind with these things swimming circles in my brain!

Here's where I've landed in all of this: adoption was not in God's original plan.  In God's original plan (and I'm talking the Garden of Eden plan), parents and children would not be separated from one another whether by choice or lack of resources or illness or death.  Families would remain intact.  Mamas would be able to conceive without difficulty.  Adoption is not God's first choice.  But it is his beautiful response to the already broken world.  It's his way of restoring families.

Hear me: I'm NOT saying that adoption is a lesser choice in this world.  Adoption is tied for my favorite choice for building a family!  I'm saying that I do not believe that God's idea of a perfect world - a perfect forever happiness - would include mommies being unable or unwilling to care for their children and children separated from their parents.  It would not include moms giving birth to their children in stressful or unsafe environments.  I would not include a family longing for children and unable to have them.  In fact, in God's perfect world, the word longing would not even exist!  There would be no need for such a word that suggests that you do not have what you desperately want or need!

I'm also saying that God, in all his grace and mercy has seen our pain and brokenness and through his magnificent creativity provided a way for everyone's needs to be met: the Mama without the resources to care for her child, the child in need of a family, the parents who long for sons and daughters. I'm saying God is good and brilliant and merciful and loving because he always finds a way to right the wrongs.

I'm saying it's wrong that my hoped-for daughter will have to lose everything in order to gain a family.  And I'm saying it's wrong that her birth family won't get to see her lovely life blossom and bloom.

But I'm saying I'm grateful that we get to be a part of a big story.  That we get to be a part of God's great plan to make wrong things right.  I'm saying I'm overjoyed that our longing to have more children can complimentarily meet the needs of another family.  I'm saying that I'm in awe of how God could take a Chinese family and an American family and make them irrevocably one - united over the love of and devotion to one sweet and perfect little girl with a beautiful name and a bonus chromosome.

T-minus 6 days and counting...

P.S. This post from Under the Sycamore (maybe my favorite blog) wrestles with a similar view of adoption and the orphan crisis.  It's worth a read.  Be warned: you might cry and you might feel moved to change your perspective or even take a step toward something big.  If you do, call me.  I want to talk to you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

That reckless ocean

Today marks a week until we find out if Faith will be our daughter.  I would be lying if I said that I am feeling calm.  As we ate dinner together tonight, I said to the Husband, "I just wish I knew what I was preparing for - a daughter or disappointment!"

I can't go more than a minute without thinking about Faith.  I try to imagine her in our house.  I try to imagine her in our lives. But the second I picture her crawling across my living room, the thought crawls across my consciousness: She might never be in this house.  She might never be ours.  

I wish I could put into words the strangeness of this season of waiting and wondering.

I feel like I have been having the same conversation with the Lord for three straight months:

Me: Shepherd, I'm scared.  You know me, I don't operate well in the unknown.  You made me a cautious planner.  This is hard for me.
The Lord: I know, Little Lamb, I know.  In your weakness I am strong.  Trust me.  I will increase your faith.  I will be enough for you.

I know that.  I know it deep in the core of my soul.  If I didn't know it, then there's no way we'd be where we are today at this strange fork in the road.  Only an act of God would cause such recklessness in a life such as mine.

I know that He will be enough and that he will meet my needs.  But the truth is, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that March 28th will slip away and we will have an empty room with an empty crib and we will feel struck down in discouragement.  I'm afraid I won't have the faith to begin again if Faith is not to be our daughter.

At the same time, I'm afraid that all will go as we hope and that I will be holding my new daughter and thinking, "I don't know what I'm doing!"  I'm afraid that Lila will have a hard time and that Faith will be traumatized by so many changes for such a little babe.

I find myself in a panic that, after three months of waiting, we aren't ready!  We haven't prepared enough!  And I work myself into a frenzy trying to figure out what I need to add to my to-do list in the next seven days.  But how can we prepare when we don't know what March 28th will bring?

I am afraid because I do not know what to expect.  I am afraid because everything everything is out of my control.  And if you know me even a little bit, you know I like control.

Last weekend, I was given the gift of attending a women's retreat in Minnesota.  I felt a little distracted all weekend, unable to focus.  On the last day, as we were all reflecting on what we wanted to take away with us from the weekend, I bowed my head and prayed - begging God to speak to me and help me to see or hear what He most wanted me to know.

As I prayed, an image came to my mind.  I saw myself walking cautiously along a shore line of the ocean.  The water was lapping up against my feet, but when the tide rose more than a few inches I would veer closer in to shore.  At one point as I walked, I glanced warily out toward the vastness of the ocean and when I did I heard a voice echo over the deep: Come.

Fun fact about me: I'm terrified of the ocean.  I try to pretend to be all fascinated and awed by it, because that's how you're supposed to feel about the ocean, but really I am just scared of it.  I like to watch it from a safe distance.  I'm cool with walking along the shore and letting it lap my feet, but if a rogue wave creeps any farther up my leg than mid-calf a sense of panic rises unbidden in my throat.  The vastness of it, the power and relentless motion of the waves - it's too big for me, too uncontrollable. 

When I shared the image of me walking along the shore and the invitation I felt the Lord was extending to me to come out into the ocean, a friend told me I should look up the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United.  I love Hillsong United, so I downloaded the entire album and I've been listening to it on repeat.  The words are perfect for where I am trying to keep my heart in these last seven days of my old life (because let's be honest, my life will not be the same either way once we have seen what March 28th has for us).

Have a listen - it's quite long, but it's hauntingly beautiful and worth the time:

The words to the song reminded of another disciple being beckoned out onto the waves.  The Lord comes to the disciples across the sea as their small boat is struggling with a raging storm, and in their fear, their already dire situation is compounded by the fact that there seems to be a ghost approaching them, walking on the water.   Jesus senses their fear and says, "Don't be afraid.  It's me."  And Peter, ever the reckless adventurer says, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you  - walking on the water."

And Jesus says Come and Peter does, but after only a few steps all he can see is the wild waters and he begins to sink.
Immediately, Jesus reaches out and grabs him. "You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?"

"You have so little faith" seems like a rebuke, but I don't imagine the tone of Jesus' voice communicated disappointment, but rather sympathy.  Which is why I love the way the Message translates it: "Faint-heart, what got into you?"  Faint-heart - as though it's a term of endearment.  The Good Shepherd knows intimately the hearts of his sheep.  He understands our fears and small-mindedness and he sympathizes with our lack of perspective.

"You have so little faith."  There's that word again.  The name of our hoped-for daughter.  Oh! I am so faint of heart sometimes!  I teeter on the shore, the saltwater licking my toes.  I want to run the other way, away from that reckless ocean, back to the safety of the shore.  But I hear his voice.  I know that he is saying to me, "Come.  Let go of the shore.  Join me on the waters.  See that I am trustworthy.  Even in your little faith I will be there to catch you when you begin to sink."  My whole being trembles in fear, but I can't resist the voice of my Shepherd.  I hear his voice and I can't help but follow.  And even though my boldness lasts only a few steps before my fears threaten to swallow me, the Lord has always been quick to take hold of me and remind me that he is trustworthy.

Today marks one week until we will know whether Faith will be our daughter.  And today, March 21st, also happens to be World Down's Syndrome Day - chosen in celebration of the third copy of 21st chromosome that gives someone Down's syndrome.  So will you take this opportunity to celebrate the beautiful creations around the world who - like you and I - are perfectly and wonderfully made?  No defect in design - just beautiful, intentional, perfect creations.

And will you pray:
- for our own little hoped-for daughter and her sweet little extra chromosome?
- that her birth parents are feeling the comfort of our Good Shepherd and clarity about what is best for their daughter?
- that Faith is feeling safe and secure and that her best future is being laid out for her?
- for us as we live these last few days (eeeeeeekkk!) of our countdown to the unknown?

Here is what I am praying for myself - the words from that beautiful song:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

T-minus 7 days and counting...

Monday, March 11, 2013

On forgetting and remembering

"So, any news about Baby Faith?"

I get this question daily - multiple times daily.  And I love and hate it.  I love it because it means our sweet friends and family are hoping with us, anticipating, praying for and thinking about our Sweet One.  But I hate it because my answer is always the same: not yet.

This is what we anticipated, what we prepared ourselves for.  We didn't expect to hear anything until the end of March.  And I'm sure that - had the situation been such that we might have heard something each day - I would be a complete and utter ball of anxiety.  So, the fact that we weren't expecting to hear something has made it easier as we wait.  But that doesn't mean it's been easy.

The last news we heard was at the end of January at which point we were told to mark March 28th in our calendars.   Which meant that we would have two months to putter and plan and nest and anticipate all the while battling the fearful reality that, as they say, "It's not over till it's over."  It is a strange thing to be planning for a child who is not even ours yet.  Which is to say, HOPE is a strange thing.

I made it through February with Hope as my sweet companion.  But as the end of February rolled around, marking both a month of waiting and a month left to wait, my friend Hope seemed to slip away into the shadows of What If and Worry more and more often.  The Wednesday of our wait turned out to be the hardest part.

I guess what I mean to say is that the first month of waiting allowed us to be excited and to plan for a baby daughter and a sister for Lila without actually having to take any risks.  But when February snowed its way into March - March, that month that had hovered for so long in the dim and misty future - suddenly we were faced with decisions to make.

Do we have a baby shower?
Do we buy the rug we have been saving for?
Do we set up the crib?
Do we buy a double stroller?
Do we turn in our time off at work?

Each decision was a choice between self-preservation and recklessness; fear and faith.  In other words, do we act with the "assurance that what we hope for will actually happen?" or do we play it safe and wait it out?

Each decision brought to light my lack of faith and each time I heard the Lord say, This isn't about fear.  This is about faith.  Am I trustworthy?  Do you trust me?

I realized that each decision was a choice to either say, "If I don't protect my heart from the possibility of being hurt, no one else will"  or "I trust God to carry me no matter the outcome.  I trust that he has led us here and that he will either fulfill my hopes or repair my broken heart."

Do you ever read through the Old Testament and want to scream at God's people for doing the same thing over and over again?  Last month, the devotional I follow took us through Chronicles and I have just been banging my head against the wall as king after king does "what is evil in the Lord's sight."  Then there's a king who gets things turned around, the Lord forgives and restores his people to their inheritance and then WHAM! another king takes power who forgets who he is and whose people he is leading and everything goes to you-know-where again.  And from my perspective I wanna tap King Whoever on the shoulder and say sarcastically, "Is that workin' for ya?"  God's people forget who they are and what's been done for them time and again.  And looking at their stories all summed up it's plain to see where they went wrong, but they just seem to forget.

And for those of you who have followed our story over the last two years or even the last two months, I want to apologize in advance for the headache you might have from banging your head against the wall when I say this: I forgot, too.

You may have noticed by the tone of my last post or the fact that I finished our 28 Days of Lila three days into March that February was hardly a walk in the park.  February was a battle.  It was a literal battle at times with my sweet girl who is stretching her will and exercising some new muscles (manipulation, coercion, defiance and all out insanity to name a few), but mostly what I mean is I believe I have been in the midst of a spiritual battle.  And I think it has everything to do with Faith and faith.  

Why do I think that?  Because I started to notice that every time something would be difficult, my first and honest thought would be, "How am I going to do this when Faith is here?" or "If I can't handle this, why do I think I can handle adding another child - and one with special needs!"  I started to doubt God's hand in my life.  I forgot what he has done for us.  Already.  

I forgot how God led us to adopt in the first place.
I forgot how clearly God told the Husband that our child is in Ethiopia.
I forgot how he provided each dollar we needed in just the right time.

I forgot how, just five days before a baby girl would surprise her parents (both with her early arrival and her extra chromosome), the Husband and I had a conversation that marked a turning point in our adoption path.
I forgot.
I forgot how we felt a rush of peace and permission to begin our home study for our Chinese adoption when we heard that the wait for Ethiopia had doubled again.
I forgot that just weeks into paperwork - on December 12, 2012 - we received an email that would change our lives.
I forgot about how everything just fell into place - how we were swept up in the current of Faith's adoption.
I forgot.
How could I forget how our friends and family pledged over $12,000 to our One of One Hundred project after just one email was sent?

But I did.

With each temper-tantrum, each time the thermometer registered a fever, each nit-picky argument with the Husband, I forgot a little more.

Two feet of snow and a power outage fogged my memory.

A terrifying low-blood sugar incident for my diabetic husband made me tremble in forgetful fear.

An insensitive comment left on this little ole blog clouded the Truth and old lies snuck in creating a sort of Truth Amnesia.

I was angry and scared and tired and restless and just...floundering in my forgetfulness.

And the worst thing about forgetfulness is that you start to live as though you aren't a part of a bigger story.  You begin to think that it's all up to you and that you can do it by yourself and that you know the best way and you carry the fear and guilt that if you can't make it happen then it will be all your fault.  Or at least I do.

But then I heard that Voice.  Remember, Little Lamb.

So I did.  I allowed our Good Shepherd to flood my memory with his faithfulness.  I am replacing my fears with His words.

I am remembering that the snow brought extra days at home with the Husband and that we were blessed to stay at my in-law's house while our house was without power.  

I am remembering that diabetes does not control our lives or decide how long I have a husband.  Our lives are in His hands.

I am remembering that my value and worth does not come from what other people think of me, but from the Name that I carry - Christ the Lord - which allows all condemnation to slip away.

I am remembering that He who has called us is faithful.  And I am remembering that it is no small thing that the little girl whose room I am preparing - for whom we pray and hope beyond hope will be our daughter - carries the name, Faith.  

And each time I want to get carried away on a river of fear and worry, I hear that Voice calmly reminding me, No, Little Lamb.  That's not what this is about.  Remember.  This is about Faith - the certainty of things hoped for - not the fear of what might or might not be!

So, any news about Baby Faith?

Not yet.  But we are hopeful.  We believe that we are a part of a big story that - no matter the outcome - will bring glory to the King.  And we trust that our hearts are safe in his hands.  He hems us in before and behind.

I'm going to go order that double stroller.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A message for moms

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
I came across this verse the other day and it was as if my spirit groaned in relief.  I think it must be a verse written just for moms.  It isn't just a promise that the Lord is caring for my children, but also a promise for how he cares for me.  He gently leads those that have young.  He gently leads mothers.  

In those few words the Lord seems to say to me, Kelsey, mamas have unique needs and I can be trusted to meet them.  I will take care of your children and I will be gentle with you.

Sometimes the weight of my responsibility as a mother is too heavy a load.  I am so painfully aware of how often I screw things up and how very vulnerable my Little Lamb is.  I feel so ill-equipped most of the time.  I'm not perfect and never will be.  I am constantly confronted with situations for which I don't have a ready response.  I often lose my cool.  And even when I keep it together and do my very best, sometimes it's still not enough and Lila gets hurt or makes a poor choice and our relationship is damaged.

It's hard enough to swim upstream against my sinful nature and make wise choices and love sacrificially every day.  But add in snow days, power outages, stomach bugs, temper-tantrums and the stressful unknowns of adopting a child with special needs and this mama has a hard time coping!

I talked to my best friend the other day and cried about how discouraged I was feeling in my parenting and how my stress was compounded because I was so anxious to create a peaceful home to welcome Faith into.  I told her that I had felt under attack in the spiritual sense and was especially battle-weary.  She empathized with me and put words to some of my grief: "I worry that my mistakes will keep my kids from knowing God."

When I write it out, it seems so silly.  Because who do we think we are?  Why do we, as moms, think that our lives are powerful enough to keep our kids away from the ferocious love of their Heavenly Father?  But it still is a fear that haunts me.

At the risk of sounding over-spiritual or melodramatic, I believe I - and my motherhood - have been under attack.  And while it has peaked recently (I think due to the big changes in our family), I'd be lying if I said this was a new problem.  I've been fighting this battle for four years now and I'm worn out.  

Four years ago this month, I found out I was pregnant with Lila.  And that's when it all began.  From the moment a woman becomes pregnant, she is vulnerable to an absurd onslaught of judgement.  

From her own mind: Do I drink too many Dr. Peppers?  Do I exercise enough?  Am I taking the right pre-natal vitamins?  Should I get an epidural?  How long should I nurse?  Should I spank my kids?  Should I home school them?  Should I stay home or should I work? What if I can't do this?  How will I know what to do?

From opinions of others: She shouldn't be eating that deli meat - didn't she read What to Expect When You're Expecting?!  I can't believe she's not co-sleeping!  I can't believe she IS co-sleeping!  I would never have my baby in a hospital!  She's crazy to do a home birth!  How can she give her baby formula!  I can't believe she's still nursing!  She's such a push-over.  She's too hard on her kids. (By the way, did you notice how many of these are contradicting statements?  If I've learned one thing in the three years I've been a mom, it's that no matter how hard you try, someone is always going to find something about your parenting choices to object to.)

From the Enemy: You aren't good enough.  You can't be trusted to make good choices for your kids.  You're screwing them up.  You can't do this.  You are selfish.  Who do you think you are? Your kids are going to hate you.  You yelled at them and now they won't believe you love them.  You messed up too big.  It's hopeless.  

With such harsh accusations and attacks coming at us every day, it's a wonder we moms ever feel capable and confident enough to spread peanut butter on bread much less make decisions about potty training and preschool!
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
What a comfort to read those words!  I imagine our Jesus picking my Lila-girl up in his arms and her head resting on his chest - close to his heart.  And then I imagine him offering his arm to me, to lead me gently beside still waters and into green pastures and out of darkness and into the light. 

Moms, let me just say, if the Lord our God - who is perfect and good, holy and mighty - says that he will treat us gently, then why do we not treat each other and ourselves the same way?

That's not to say that we don't have responsibilities to lead and train our children well.  It's just to remind us that God is not overwhelmed by our ineptitude even if we are.  He will carry our children close to his heart whether or not we excel as parents.  And what's more, we too will be gently led by our Good Shepherd.

So I have been carrying these words in my heart.  I have been reminding myself that God chose ME to be Lila's mom and I hope He has chosen me to be Faith's mom as well.  And if He thinks that I'm the best option for them, then I can trust my instincts for my kids.  And anyone who disagrees with my parenting choices can take it up with Him.

All I can do is my best and He is trustworthy to fill in the gaps.  So I will be gentle with myself, because the Lord, my Shepherd is gentle with me.  And I will be gentle with the moms in my life, because I want to be just like my Shepherd.

I made this little 5X7 print as a reminder for myself.  I want to offer it as a free printable for you mamas out there.  You can right-click the image to save and print it for yourself.  

P.S. Here's another post along similar lines.  Let's be kind to our kids, to ourselves and to one another, moms.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 28

You are Lila.

The best one.
The only one.
You are my sunshine (my only sunshine).
You are the best in the west.
You are my best girl.
You are my favorite thing.

God made you perfectly unique.  Your wit and your will.  Your creativity and curiosity.  Your passion and perceptiveness.  Your intelligence and imagination.  Your energy and expressiveness.  Your sweetness and sass.  Your you-ness.

It's you that makes me love you.  I love you just the way you are.  You are a masterpiece.  You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  You are mine.  I love you.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 27

Your laugh.

Yesterday you woke up in a funk.  Within five minutes you were already three minutes into a temper tantrum that lasted 45 minutes.  Your mommy is not a morning person so this was not a good start for us.  Do you want to know how we turned the corner?  A tickle fest.  I set the timer and we tickled each other for five minutes and after that everything seemed better.

Your laugh healed me and I think being tickled released some tension and got those endorphins a-flowin' for both of us.

I love your laugh.