Tag Archives: Parenting

Catching Up

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Nathan’s 2014 Calendar – I love these calendars the kids make at school and will be so sad when the year comes that they are all too big to make them anymore.

I’d say it’s about time we do a little catching up.

No, I have not given up blogging.

No, I was not kidnapped by Aliens.

No, I did not move to the south of France to hide away from the world. Although some days, that is still on the table.

We have had a pretty challenging couple of months with some big losses in our family and my heart has been processing it all. Throw in a couple big holidays and a birthday and this unprepared lady just had no time to write or visit my favorite blogs.

I’ve missed you guys.

In early November, we received a call that my father-in-law, who had been battling cancer for last 10 years, was being moved to Hospice care with only a few days to a week before it would be his time. My husband immediately hopped on a plane to be by his dad’s side. Proving that he is absolutely the toughest guy I know, dad fought to live for another three weeks. I am so thankful my husband was able to spend most of that time by his dad’s side. After dad’s passing, our whole family flew out to say goodbye to grandpa. Well, goodbye for now anyway. We know he’s saving us a place at the best fishing hole around.

We stayed with our family in Indiana for a bittersweet but very blessed Thanksgiving.

While in Indiana, we were also able to squeeze in a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis…

Sara was off with her cousins so I only have boy pictures and boy did they have a great time! True to their nature, David loved the history and “fact” finding opportunities and Nathan was all hands on energy. We only lost him once. He knew where we were and was evading. Nearly every gray hair I have is his doing. Nearly. They aren’t all his fault but I’m still sending him the cumulative salon bill someday anyway.

It was hard to leave grandma Judy and the family, the big blue Victorian house, the crisp fall air, the falling leaves, the warm fire and the quiet time.

We love you grandpa and we will miss you everyday. Until we meet again.

After getting home from Indiana, there was not a moment to waste getting ready for Christmas. Christmas cards and letters, decorating, shopping, baking, teacher, neighbor and co-worker gifts, brunch, parties and even a Women’s Ministry event thrown in for good measure! Thankfully, my trusty staff was on hand to help – see picture below., way below.

Oh, and a Birthday to celebrate too!

Happy Birthday, Sara!! One year from now,  we’ll have a teenager. Actually, less than a year from NOW.  Gulp.

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We try very hard to keep her birthday separate from Christmas and just celebrate her. With all that had gone on and all of the “Christmas catch-up” I had to do, Sara was very gracious about having a simple, low-key celebration this year. Low-key was officially supposed to come next year as the last of the “big” parties is sixth grade; says the parental management team. With the exception of Sweet 16 of course.

Instead of a big party, we decided it would be just as much fun to take her and as many friends as I could safely fit in the van to Jump Street where they could trampoline themselves to their hearts content.

Fun. Did I say fun? Oh my will I have to tell you all about it some time. For now, I will just let you imagine a half an hour in a car with six 11-12 year old girls, too many cell phones, too much perfume, lip-gloss and nail polish (all of which were opened, sprayed, dripped and gooped in my car at least once) and far too many pre-teen hormones. They are fun in groups of three or less. Anymore than that and a pack mentality seems to set in. A half an hour EACH WAY. Did I mention that.

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We do have a special birthday tradition just for her that we never miss. Every year, on her birthday, we take her out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and give her all of her gifts from the family. It is always a special evening and she loves it.  This year’s coveted birthday items – crazy knee socks, floral combat boots and anything with a moustache print on it.

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Nope, I wasn’t kidding. Don’t ask me?? If it is safe, appropriate and makes her happy, I don’t question.

One day soon, I will do a series of posts on some of the kids’ past parties. We’ve had some fun ones! For now you can check out the two I have posted; David’s Duck Dynasty Bash and Nathan’s Despicable Me Party.

In other news, Noodles the Elf on the Shelf was back for the Christmas Season so there was much Elf Management to be done …

The Elf Management team wasn’t quite as creative as last year but we got the job done. Mostly. When you have a six year old who misses nothing and wakes up instantly hyper-focused on a mission to find the elf, it can be complicated if the elf has not in fact been moved because management was dragging into bed at 1am and … gasp … forgot. “Oh, no someone must have touched the elf” came in handy more than once.

And then, all too soon, it was Christmas …

I love Christmas. Everything about it. Next year, my goal is to have posts ready ahead of time so I don’t miss sharing this wonderful season with my blogging friends. Unless you are prepared in advance, It is just too hard to write and keep up with all of the “busy” while desperately trying maintain focus on what truly matters. Lesson learned.

Desperately busy. Which leads me to December 26th and hibernation. I am an extrovert who becomes an introvert for about two weeks a year; December 26th until the day the kids go back to school.  I’m done. Finished. Spent. Turtle in her introverted shell. I may stay in my PJs all day. I may watch movies with the kids all day. In my PJs. ALL DAY. For many days.

Needless to say, I am not a New Year’s party girl. Well, I’m not really a party girl at all (anymore – for any of my college friends who might be reading) unless it is a dinner party or a birthday party or there’s cake. You know what I mean.

New Year’s Day consisted of bike riding and a picnic out back oh, and we did share the week with one very special and adorable house guest “Buster” or “Sassy McNoodle” as we like to call him.

And New Year’s Eve?

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Well this is about as exciting as it gets around here folks! H.I.B.E.R.N.A.T.I.O.N. Only one kid made it to midnight. I’ll give you one guess. Yup. The youngest. Party animal – just look at that face.

JanuaryAnd so, here it is the middle of January and sadly, 2014 has not had an easy start. We just returned from Oklahoma after saying goodbye to Gary’s incredible cousin Mike who passed away just after the New Year. I will tell you about Mike sometime as I will tell you about dad. For now, I will just share this from a card that was sent to us by Gary’s uncle Chuck after dad’s passing …

My prayer for you is a little light in the midst of this darkness. “We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much better for having had something so great to lose.” – Leigh

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Indeed we are. And we are grateful to the God who loves and sustains us and we praise Him in all things. We trust in Him an look to Him for comfort even when we can’t find understanding.

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This one’s for you cousin Mike – Boomer Sooner!

Yes, it has been a difficult and busy few months for our family but we are moving forward and I am so glad you and I are finally catching up. Thank you for hanging in there with me and for your readership and friendship. A special welcome to the new visitors who have stopped by and the readers who have so graciously followed Welcome Company. I have a long list of recipes, ideas, plans for the Hacienda, stories to share and adventures to come.

I am looking forward to all that 2014 will bring.

I hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful holiday and got some time of your own to “hibernate” with those you love most. May 2014 be a year of blessing, adventure, friendship, family and fun. And may we be thankful to the God who loves us in all that may come.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Blessings my friends!

 

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When Did He Get So Big?

Guess what has happened around here in the last week?

Any guesses? Give up? Okay, I’ll tell you.

School started.

My kids went back to school.

MY KIDS WENT BACK TO SCHOOL!

I love my kids. You know that.

I love the first 3 1/2 weeks of summer.

And then, I LOVE it when my kids go back to school. Well, I mostly love it.

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But this year was a little different and I will admit, mommy had some added back to school anxiety. I always have a little back to school anxiety (especially with some of our unique challenges) but this year, my  youngest, my baby, started Kindergarten.

And it was hard.

For me.

Thankfully, not for him.

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When did he get so big?

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When did he become so independent?

He did not want to walk with me. He wanted to do it ALL. BY. HIMSELF.

I want him to be independent and I want him to hold my hand too.

Yes, that big expanse of grass between us in just one big metaphor. Incidentally, you’re not supposed to walk on the grass so we started Kindergarten by breaking the rules. See, he should have held my hand.

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But this boy was too big for that and he was all business! All of the friends and teachers we ran into welcomed him and I would say Nathan, tell them what grade you are in. After about the fourth time, he turned and looked at me and said …

“MOMMY, I tell you already … K – I – N -D – E – R – G – A – R – T – E – N ! !” If only I could express to you his far too grown up exasperation at my apparent inability to remember what grade he was in. It won’t be the last time I exasperate him, you can be sure of that.

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Eventually, we made it to the classroom, Nathan ten feet ahead of me, where he lined up and waited patiently to go in.

A big kid.

Yes, my child is 4x larger than every other Kindergartener on the planet but that isn’t really what I meant.

Mama doesn’t have a baby anymore, which he so often reminds me when I try to tell him he will always be my baby. “Mommy, I not a baby. I’m a big boy!”

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And so he is.

And then my big boy gave me a hug and marched independently into his classroom and got right down to business.

I have to tell you,  technically I should not have this picture. We parents should have stayed out of the classroom and given our children their space. Bless my son’s perceptive and gracious teacher who sensing our neediness, allowed us into the classroom for a few quick last goodbyes and hugs and a Kindergarten paparazzi of flashing cameras. Yes, we kindergarten parents are a sad lot – at least on the first day.

Thankfully, we are now through the first few days of school and all of my kids have settled in well.

And so have I.

I miss them but I know they are in good hands and are happily busy and learning and are no longer bored or fighting with each other or making me hide in my bathroom just to make a phone call.

My house is cleaner. And quieter.

And I can write again. Oh blog and blogging friends, how I have missed you!

And I am peaceful and happy to see them at the end of their day and hear all about everything they did.

Nathan LOVES Kindergarten and it has already been really good for him. Instead of his usual Three Stooges burp, he made a quiet burp the other day with his little fist to his mouth and said “mommy, my teacher show me how to burp quietly.” I have shown him how to burp quietly too, but sometimes you just need a little back up.

And they need a little independence.

 

 

My Boy is a Bear

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a ban on openly gay youth. Read the article by Miranda Leitsinger and Jason White of NBC News by clicking the link above.

Scouts is a huge part of our life. My boys are still very young so we are involved in Cub Scouts which is for first grade through fifth grade boys. At the end of fifth grade, Cub Scouts cross over and become Boy Scouts. We love the values and skills that Cub Scouts teaches as well as the friendships and fun it offers!

I was David’s Tiger Den leader when he was in the first grade and I am now the committee chair for our pack working to coordinate the dens, plan pack events and keep paperwork in order. It adds a bit to my already full plate but it is worth it. I love my boys and I love what they are learning through Scouts. I love Scouts.

I also make the cupcakes.

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Nathan isn’t officially a scout yet but he loves “Hub” Scouts and can’t wait until he becomes a “Tiger” in first grade.

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I can’t imagine someone telling him he couldn’t be a Scout because he was different or he wasn’t what they deem acceptable. His heart would be broken.

This post is not about debating morality or gay rights.

It is about compassion.

I am thankful and proud to be an American. I believe in the constitution and the principles this nation was founded on and am deeply blessed to enjoy the freedoms that we have in this country.

Those freedoms are for ALL. Whether we agree on everything or not. You can disagree with me. It is okay. Many people I love and respect will disagree. I will still love and respect them. My heart is led to err on the side of compassion and love. To welcome and walk along side my neighbor. Some details I will leave to God.

America needs Scouting! Boys need Scouting. We need to be reaching out and sharing the adventure, not pushing people away.

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David and some of his “Wolf” buddies.

Tico Perez, the BSA national commissioner summed it up well when he said “there were divisions about how to serve kids. If we have disagreement, if we have discomfort, we are going to talk through it. America needs Scouting. Our singular focus moving forward is serving more kids in Scouting, and we believe this resolution is going to do that.”

One parent had this to say “we’re very disappointed. I will compare it to a funeral.” His son expressed concern about being allowed to remain a Scout. “I hope I can continue,” he said. “It depends if my parents feel safe to let me stay.” I find that so unfortunate and very sad and I hope very much that he gets to continue on his journey as a Scout.

A boy scout who is gay is not a threat to my boys.

Allowing my boys to think they have a right to be exclusive or elitist or can turn their backs on people because of differences is the threat.

It is my job to teach my children what we believe and it is my job to teach them to walk in love.

It is my job to “show” others what I believe in the way that I act and live my life.

I will teach my children about a dream where people are judged by the “content of their character”. Remember that dream?

I will teach them to be compassionate, even in disagreement.

Every night at the dinner table we ask each of our kids “how did you show your Jesus today?”

How did you show love, compassion, humility, grace, mercy, hope?

How do we “show our Jesus” if we exclude, push away and turn our backs?

I think yesterday, the Scouts “showed their Jesus” and I may just start sportin’ one of those “I’m proud of my Cub Scout” stickers on the bumper of my ride.

Which is a mini-van. Oh yes, I am a Scout mom.

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And I make a mean cupcake.

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Last week, my boy became a Bear. He completed all of his achievements and graduated from the second grade rank of Wolf to the third grade rank of Bear.

Here are a few photos from our Advancement Ceremony …

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David receiving his recognition and awards from the Wolf Den leader, Eileen. I like to call her Ethel – take a look at my Scout Halloween Party post if you want to know why.

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Part of the Wolf badge ceremony. I sure wish I had a picture of the looks on their faces when they had to drink wolf’s blood. Well it was V-8 juice but I think it may have actually been more palatable to them had it been actual wolf’s blood. I truly thought it was coming back up with a few of them – which would have made the ceremony all the more exciting.

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Our Cub Master and our youngest Scouts, The Tigers, getting ready to become Wolves.

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Our Bear Den getting ready to move up to the rank of Webelo.

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We didn’t promise it would be without peril.

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I love that members of our local Boy Scout Troop conducted our ceremony. They help us out with a lot and it is good for the younger boys to interact with the older Scouts.

If you have a boy of scouting age, I hope you will consider Scouts. The boys can join anytime and will automatically be placed in the appropriate rank for their age. Don’t worry if your boy didn’t start as a Tiger, there is a place for him and he will transition in easily.

If you are interested in learning more about Scouting, please visit the BSA Website or contact your local Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop. There is also Venture Scouts which girls are welcome to participate in. I promise you, adventure, friendship and fun awaits!

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Look, my boy is a Bear and is beyond excited to leave soon for camp with his dad – who will be the Assistant Cub Master next year because his wife volunteered him.

Lucky for me, he’s a good sport and loves Scouts too.

Cub Scout Cub Mobile – Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

This past Saturday was the annual Pack 371 Cub Mobile.

Yes, once a year we strap our children into a wooden “go-cart” that is steered awkwardly with the feet, has very little maneuverability, a questionable braking system and is highly likely to be over-corrected and driven into a hay bale or worse, a cactus (yes, I know the singular is technically cacti but it just sounds so weird).

Thankfully, Cub Mobiles do not actually have engines, gravity does all the work; which is enough, believe me.

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Why would any sane parent do this? Because it’s FUN and the kids have a blast!

And Cub Scouts are tough and always up for adventure!

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So every spring, we block off a road, lay out a course, strap our young into a questionable vehicle, load them onto a ramp and let ’em hurl down the street.

Welcome to Cub Mobile 2013

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The Brewer Boys, ready to race!

In Lane 1, Nathan “Shark Attack” Brewer

and in Lane 2, David “Had to Wear my Cool Quad Helmet” Brewer

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But it sure does look cool.

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Nathan sizes up the competition …

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and he’s off. I think his dimpley smile could be seen from space.

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This was his first time racing and he laughed and squealed the whole way down.

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After they launch from the ramp, the boys race to the end (this is another set of brothers racing) of the “track” …

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where should they forget to brake, there is a self-sacrificing dad waiting to catch them.  This particular heroic dad just happens to belong to my kids. Somehow, he always seems to end up in this enviable position, having to catch a hurtling go-cart with a wide-eyed boy who has forgotten where the brake is.

While we do have a few scrapes, bumps and bruises, safety is first and the boys wear helmets, long pants and no flip-flops – in Arizona, you always have to specify NO FLIP-FLOPS when necessary – and the danger is pretty minimal. I was just joking about the “cacti”, those are strategically blocked by hay bales; although those boys seem to do their best to try and hit them.

Really, the greatest danger is to those poor dads who catch the cars at the bottom of the hill. They are rock stars!

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Next year though, we will be adding elbow pads to the list of safety equipment. I don’t have any pictures of David racing because his second run ended in dramatic fashion with a big crash and a pretty nasty scraped elbow. That was enough for him and he was done for the day. Hangin’ at the snack table was a much safer option.

Cub-Mobile-3Meanwhile, Nathan was bouncing himself silly in the bounce house when he wasn’t running up and down the track playing “first responder” at every crash. Giving the thumbs up signal to let us know the driver was okay. He cracks me up.

In the end, a good time was had by all and no Cub Scouts were harmed, well mine was but he’ll live and he has a great story to tell. And, just in case you’re wondering, we did not just close down a city street. Well we did but we had permits and official barriers, which did not stop a few angry neighborhood motorists from expressing their disdain at our great inconvenience to them. I’m guessing they won’t be buying any Cub Scout popcorn at our next fund-raiser.

All I can say to that is …

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and we’ll be back next year.

So, aside from a scraped elbow – incidentally, he would not allow me to put a band-aid on it this morning; he said it was fine and he didn’t need one. I, however, know the real reason – cool points with his buddies; boys, particularly 7 and 8 year old boys, are very impressed by all things scabby and gross. My son will be a hero today. Who am I to stand in the way of his glory with band aids and infection preventing precautions.

Anyway, as I was saying, aside from a few minor injuries,

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a couple of maintenance issues

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and a small zombie apocalypse,

Cub Mobile 2013 was a huge success and a whole lotta’ fun!

Thanks to all of the incredible Pack 371 parents who worked hard to make it a safe and awesome event for some pretty darn great kids; zombies included.

Pinewood Derby Prep, When a Block of Wood Becomes Something More

It is Pinewood Derby time around here. Consider this the Indy 500 of the Cub Scout world.  My middle guy and his dad have been working hard on his Pinewood Derby Car; taking a small rectangular block of wood and whittling (or sawing and Dremeling) it into a unique and hopefully fast race car.

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But truthfully, it doesn’t really matter how it looks, if it is fast or if it wins.

Because what they have really being doing, what it is really all about, is spending time together. Deepening their bond. Making memories. Teaching. Learning.

That is what really matters.

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What could possibly mean more to a little boy than to have his small hand engulfed in the hand of his daddy as he helps him guide the saw and shows him “how to do it”.

“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” – Abraham Lincoln

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When his father’s actions say …

You matter to me. Your interests matter to me. I am busy but I am not too busy for you.

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When his guidance and patience send the message …

I am here to do what you can’t but I will show you how to do what you can.

And trust you to do it.

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When his teaching shows that with a little teamwork, cooperation, and persistence a plain block of wood will become something amazing.

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When the gift of his time reminds his son …

You are part of a team. Loved. And your dad is on your side.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” John 5:19

Beauty from Ashes

As I continue along on this new adventure in Blogdom, I look forward to introducing you to my family, friends and the company that I keep. For today, I am feeling led to share with you the story of how my husband and I became parents. It is a story that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It is a story of how God is always good and always faithful; even when His timing is not our own. It is a story of how He makes Beauty from Ashes

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 

Being a mom is one of the greatest experiences of my life but the process of becoming a mom was one of the most painful; starting with multiple fertility treatments once the harsh reality had hit that becoming parents was not the “given” we thought it would or should be. After more than a year of tests, painful procedures that ultimately failed, disappointment and heartache we began to consider other options. You see, through all of that, God wept with us. He allowed us to experience it – all of it – because He knew that out of the ashes of infertility He would pull up a stronger couple more focused on Him, better prepared for what lie ahead. And so the ashes of infertility became something beautiful.

We began to think about adoption. I was working as the Program Coordinator for a Tutoring and Mentoring Program for school aged children in foster care, not a coincidence – nothing ever is. We began to think about fostering. We began to pray about fostering. Could we? Should we? God are you calling us to this? Is this your will for us? It turns out the answer was yes. It took about six months to receive our license and our first placement. A sister and brother, the siblings of two of the little girls in my program – Sara was 4 and David was just 20 months. Just like that, we were parents – foster parents but parents just the same. We were told from the beginning that there was a 99.9% chance that Sara and David would be with us forever and that we would be able to adopt them. And so the ashes of childlessness became something beautiful.

Sara in 2006 at age 4

Beautiful, yes. Easy, no. Neglect, abuse and trauma are not pretty nor is the aftermath. Attachment issues, loss and fear are not pretty. We were not prepared for the magnitude of ugly that our kids had experienced and it literally brought us to our knees. But when God says with Him all things are possible, I am here to tell you, He is not kidding. Also know, that there is no room for pride, arrogance, vanity, selfishness or judgement in God’s work and He will strip you of it so that you might be better prepared to walk with Him. How difficult that process is depends entirely upon us and our will to have our way; it was hardest for me but I had never felt God closer to me than He was during that time of refinement. The healing and growth that occurred in our home over the next year and a half was as much about Gary and I as it was about these two amazing children who had so much to teach us. And so the ashes of pride, anger and hurt became something beautiful.

David in 2006, not quite 2

This next part is still difficult for me to talk about (or write about for that matter). I can feel the unresolved hurt and anger well up in me as I struggle for the right words; as I do every time I tell this story. God and I are still working on this. I hope I can share this as He would want, with words that carry truth without bitterness.

About a year and a half after they had come to us Sara and David, along with their two older sisters were returned to their birth mother. The ideal is that foster parents provide a child with safety, stability and love in support of the system’s work to reunify them with their family. It is an honorable and wonderful thing to be a part of helping a family to heal and to be able to send a child home to a mom and or/dad who has gotten help and is ready to give them the home they need and deserve. The reality of the situation is our system is broken and overwhelmed. The process takes too long and burns through too many good people who are trying to do the right thing; foster parents and case workers alike.  The bottom line for us was a crippling loss, a huge pile of ashes and a God that was still at work.

A few months after Sara and David had gone, the phone rang. Gary and I had done a little bit of respite care which proved to be excruciating and brought us to the final conclusion that we would never foster again because it was just too painful.

But God had something else in mind  … “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

On the other end of that phone was God’s blessing. A blessing that would require our obedience and bare faith in answering His call to open our hearts to a new child, a five-week old methamphetamine exposed baby boy that we knew little else about. Once God moves in your heart, He moves big! It took only about 30 seconds of staring at each other (and a trip to Target to get an infant car seat and supplies) to know that our hearts could never say no to this little boy who “needed us” … as it turns out, it was actually us who needed him so very much. The true act of faith and obedience came in our willingness to trust God and to follow Him back to a place we swore we would never go again. And the ashes of grief and loss became something beautiful.

Nathan when he first came to us in 2007 at 5 weeks.

Fast forward a year and a half later, our sweet boy Nathan already a toddler with his adoption just weeks from being finalized, and the phone rings again.

Sara and David are coming back to us.

I can’t and won’t go into the details of what they went through, that is their story to tell when they are ready. What I will tell you is that the children that came home to us were mere shadows of the children who had left us. They were in terrible shape and were so traumatized that we were left devastated, overwhelmed and uncertain of where to even begin putting the pieces back together.

So we started in the only place we could, in the arms of the Father who loves us, had never left us and had just worked a miracle in our lives by putting our family back together. Beauty from Ashes.

The healing began and so did a multitude of diagnoses; RAD, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, DID … all big and scary, but NOTHING is bigger than God! And now here were are 3 and a half years later. All three children with finalized adoptions and birth certificates that say “last name Brewer”. With good days and bad days. More joy than pain. And an understanding that labels are just that, labels – they do not define who we are. Who we are is what God would label us, “Redeemed, Beloved, Mine”.

Our story is lengthy and complicated and painful and unbelievable but in the end it is a story of redemption and of the mountains that faith can move. It is a testimony of God’s great love, grace and mercy. No, the road has not been an easy one but God has been there every step of the way, increasing our faith and reliance on Him which truly has been one of the greatest blessings in all of this. I am not the person I was and I am humbled and overwhelmed that He chose us (the least likely – believe me) for this journey.

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I have been so blessed to watch Him make Beauty from Ashes right before my eyes. It was what He had planned all along. He will use our story, my children’s story, for His glory, for the good of others and for the advancement of His kingdom. We are truly “a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” He will use our story, our testimony to His greatness, to make Beauty from Ashes in the lives of others.

My “Miracle Family” at the baseball game together, just a few weeks ago.

Be encouraged. He is with you. He has never left you.