There’s no wrong choice

Our AdoptionWeston and I celebrated 6 years of marriage by spending a weekend away in San Antonio. The last time we discussed adoption we decided it best to table it until we had bought a house and moved in.

By the time of our anniversary we had done both (even if we’re not totally unpacked). We spent an evening discussing it and talking about our fears and the excitement of growing our family via adoption. We talked different types of adoption and landed on international.

So this week, I’ve started spreadsheets on spreadsheets. Adoption Agencies. Countries. Fundraising strategies, grants, loans.

In all this there’s so many choices. And so many questions. How do you choose a country? How do you choose an agency? What makes them uniquely different? This country isn’t a part of the Hague Convention but does adoptions all the time with good agencies, is it still a good idea? One child? Siblings? What level of special needs do we feel like we can handle?

All these decisions and questions to answer brought a sense of anxiety to me. What if we get it wrong? Is there a wrong and right choice? As we’ve been talking about it this week, Wes said we should start praying about all of it together. Sure, it fills both of our prayers often. It’s something I pray about while I pray with Fitz before naps and bed time. A simple way to bring our one year old in to this process.

But it feels like it’s boiling down to this: God is stirring in us a passion for a country. A peace for a specific agency. I wrote about this when we were talking about moving back to Tyler – how our pastor in Buda said only God can give you peace because it’s a fruit of the Spirit. I rest in that often when making decisions. And there’s really no wrong choice. Neither of us is going to be upset if we don’t go with adopting from the country of our first choice. In the end there’s all these children who need families, who need to know the love of Christ, the Gospel. And in that, I don’t think you can make a wrong choice.

On those “I Can’t Even” Days

Yesterday was a total “I can’t even” day. Now, the words in that form never came out of my mouth, but by the end of dinner with Weston, Fitz, Weston’s mom and sister, and our niece Avery, I definitely said, “I’m done”.

Fitz has started in on that super clingy stage. Yesterday and the day before we had to get out of the duplex for our landlord to show it. Which means I needed to make it at least somewhat presentable. Between Fitz destroying everything behind me as I cleaned and him wanting to be held while I cleaned, it was tough to say the least. And it ended with me sighing and saying, “oh well. Good enough”. And of course we’re trying to move. So I’m trying to pack boxes one handed while I hold a screaming toddler. Or trying to pack things that he wants to take out the moment they go back into the box. And trying to carry boxes over a crying child who is standing in our narrow hallway to the car.

Yesterday we were out of the house from 10-7p. You moms feel me when I say, sheesh. We even have another house to go to, which we did while I tried to get him to nap. He took a 20 minute nap. My introverted self needs more than that amount of down time to take on the second half of the day.

We met up with Weston’s mom and sister, and our niece at the zoo for the afternoon which was so great. I truly love them and hanging out with them. But I didn’t get my recharge time and then I had to be “on” for the next 6 hours. And then Fitz fought getting back into his stroller for the first time ever. Usually it’s just the car seat… almost every time.

Then Fitz had a blow out at dinner where he screamed the entire time I changed his diaper in the trunk of the car. And it took a million wipes and he got up multiple times. He had poop in his mouth, on his hands, on his legs, on his back, and in his hair. I smelled like poop. This obviously could’ve been worse had he then peed everywhere. So I’ll count that as a grace of God.

But on days like that I am thankful that God reminds me to stop and pray at all first off. And I try to sit and determine why I’m so frustrated.

I pray God shows me the sin in my heart and confess it. Part of it is selfishness. I deserve downtime. I deserve quiet and rest. I deserve to get everything done I want to get done. My impatience. The lack of thankfulness that I get to even stay home with Fitz when that’s really what I want to do.

I pray and ask God to soften my heart to Fitz’s needs. I know the stage five clinger is a stage, but I also want to meet Fitz where he’s at. Does he need some extra reassurance I’m not going to leave him? Ok. I can do this.

I praise God for the gift of Fitz. The gift of getting to stay home and raise him.  The gift he is even alive and here. I think God for the joy he brings and that he even still wants to be held and loved on by mom.

I thank God for the gift of breaks. In the form of 20 minute naps. Car rides. The zoo with grandmas and aunts where he’s mostly content to be in his stroller. Early bed times. Husbands/dads who will put him in the car seat when I’m at that “I can’t even” point, and drive him home and put him to bed.

I thank God for Weston. That he lets me text him and say this day blows. And I need a heck of a lot of prayer right now. And he just says he’s sorry and says he’ll pray. He’s listening and not trying to fix it from work. That he comes and checks on me when I’m in the shower before he even gets home with Fitz from dinner. He makes sure I’m ok.

I pray that tomorrow is better. For the both of us.

I praise God for and pray to God for a continual understanding of the Gospel in everyday life.  I can have patience with Fitz because Jesus had the utmost patience with me. I can forgive Fitz for “ruining” my day because it’s small and insignificant and Christ has forgiven me of everything small and large. I can run to Jesus in these times because he’s my source of joy, of patience, of kindness, of love.

 

She Reads Truth Bible Review

I’m a sucker for Bibles and have more Bibles than I care to admit.

Today, after looking at it online over and over, I picked up a She Reads Truth Bible. When you see it on sale 40% off at Lifeway, it’s pretty easy to talk yourself into buying yet another study bible.

I went with the cheapest one: the hardback (not linen covered). It’s a beautiful gray.

Overview:

This is a CSB (Christian Standard) version Bible. This is a new/updated version associated with the HCSB. It’s at a 6th grade reading level (versus ESV is at an 11th grade reading level, or so says Eric Mason who helped out with the CSB). It’s easy to read, but still very accurate.

It’s a women’s study Bible. It has little devotionals throughout by the women who do She Reads Truth. Each devotional has references to associated Scripture, including the Scripture it’s directly associated to in that book of the Bible. These are a page long.

At the beginning of each book there is a pretty lettered picture of a key verse from that book. There is also an overview of the book with explanations, the edge of the page is colored based on the genre of the book, and then there’s a reading plan. It has the book broken down in one column and then further understanding passages in a second column.

They give you wide wide margins on the side of each page for writing (or doodling if that’s your thing).

Pros:

  • This is a gorgeous Bible. Which is why I bought it.
  • The study notes aren’t overwhelming. This isn’t a commentary study bible, but has study helps.
  • They use color well throughout the Bible.
  • They interweave the Old Testament and New Testament for a better understanding of how all of Scripture is intertwined.
  • The CSB is awesome. I’ve really enjoyed reading and studying in it.
  • It has two ribbons for marking.

Cons:

  • I’m a texture person and the outside of this bible (again I bought the hardback) is horrible feeling to me.
  • The pages are also weird feeling and I slightly cringe every time I flip a page. I’m not sure if this is actually the pages, or leftover from touching the outside of the Bible. Update:  This feeling went away with use – it may have just been the outside texture on my fingers.
  • The pages are SUPER thin. Like, see through to the writing on the other side thin. You also feel like with every page turn it’s going to rip all the way up the page. Update: I’ve been using micron pens in this Bible like I do others and while you can see it through the pages, the bleed isn’t all that bad. Still readable
  • There are no cross references for study. I’m a HUGE cross reference user so this really bothers me.
  • There’s not much spacing between the lines of the scripture for Inductive Bible Study, but they do make up for this with the added space in the margins.

This is my first look review. I’m not a She Reads Truth Bible study-er, but have done one of their studies. While I don’t usually like super women-centric things, I appreciate what they’re doing with encouraging women to study just the Bible instead of focusing on so many helps or even topical study of some womanly problem. I know there’s a place for those things, but I love getting back to the foundations of Scripture.

Update: I’m still loving this Bible. I’m loving the CSB and the extra wide margins available in the SRT Bible. I’m using the Bible reading plan in the back of it to go through the Bible this year with an emphasis on adoption/orphans/those in need. 

We bought a house

For the past few months we’ve been looking at houses. We started with our budget significantly lower than what we ended up paying, but were never seeing houses we liked or had what we wanted.

Our wish list stayed basically the same as it did when we bought our Bryan house:

  • at least 3 bedrooms
  • at least 2 bathrooms
  • a living area + a playroom area of some sort

Weston’s hobbies take up a lot of space and I really didn’t want a bedroom being devoted to his stuff if we only have a 3 bedroom house. Then, once we have another kid we’re figuring out what on earth we’re going to do with his computer, guitars, amps, etc.

We ended up with a house with 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths. It has a giant addition with a bathroom that’s a perfect playroom/TV room. It’s on the opposite side of the house with a door so we can even have people over with kids and have them all in one area. They built it as a master master bedroom (the original master is good sized already), and it has a walk-in closet. The closet is now Weston’s “office”. It’ll hold all his guitar stuff, his desk, and all his board games safely tucked away where no Fitz can get to it.

This house is dated, so we’ve replaced all the floors and painted ourselves. Our list of to-dos seems to be never ending over the rest of time, but hopefully it’s our forever home — or at least a while home — so we have the time to do all this stuff.

It’s been so fun watching Fitz explore the house and walk around, looking out the windows. It’s been fun to watch it go from super dated to “will it ever look move-in ready?” to “yes, we can live here now.

We’re excited that it has the space to host things. To have childcare and a place for the adults. A dining room large enough for our table we bought for our last house where we can sit 8-10 people. A backyard where Fitz can run around.

So, now. Now we pack. Weston has to finish painting and installing the quarter round. We move stuff. We clean the duplex and clean the last bit of dusty areas in the new house. This is not the fun part, but I have to keep reminding myself we’re almost done.

Fitz turned 1

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Fitz turned one on February 5th. This has been the fastest and hardest year of my life. It didn’t help that on top of bringing a baby into this world we added a job search of 8 months, a move, and Fitz getting salmonella.

I learned I’m most selfish with my desire for sleep, and my desire to not have to share my guacamole/avocado with a baby. Also, I want to drink my coffee while it’s still hot the first time.

Every few days throughout this entire year I’d ask Weston, “Can you believe Fitz is ____ months old?”. He’s always say, “Yes, yes I can.” Maybe it’s a mom thing. Having grown him inside of me for 9 months and then spending every single day with him. Watching him discover foods, and our dogs, and the world around him. It went from what’s within reach of his little arms on the floor, to what’s within reach of him sitting up, to crawling for anything he can see, to now standing and being able to get stuff off the table if it’s close enough. His world keeps getting bigger and it’s truly a joy to watch.

We went to the Linger Conference this past weekend (you should go), and I was spending all of the beginning of 2017 pumping so that he’d have milk while I was away and Weston’s parents watched him. I was talking to a friend about how much I was dreading having to pump the entire time I was away and she motivated me to wean him. Just be done. My one recommendation is maybe don’t wean as your kid turns 1. It’s far more emotional than I thought it would be. I was already sad he was turning 1, in unbelief he wasn’t my little baby anymore, and then you add an end to something you’ve done every single day for the past year. Multiple times a day. My mornings no longer start with snuggling my little boy while he nurses. They  no longer end with me cradling him in my arms while he nurses before bed. But we did it. We made it and I really am happy to be done. And it has allowed Weston to come in more and bond with Fitz in those minor ways. He can make him breakfast (or any meal for that matter). We’ve transferred the bed time routine to Weston so he can have the last cuddles of the day.

We made it a whole year.

Fitz, you are one of our greatest joys.

The Faithfulness of God

If you know us or you’ve been reading this blog, you know we lived in Tyler, moved to College Station, and recently moved back to Tyler.

You know we both worked for an Engineering firm while in school the second time until August of last year.  That we chose to move to College Station and bought a house that a whirlwind of things worked together to get us this house we really couldn’t afford at it’s true appraised value. I was laid off last July and Weston was told he probably wouldn’t have a job come this past January. I took a part time job at the place I worked in college making $9 an hour when I was making $26. It was a huge blow to my pride, my pride in my degrees, my intelligence.

You’d know how important community was to us, and how we weren’t finding it in College Station. While we loved living closer to both our families, College Station was tough. We’d visit Tyler and feel a huge pull back to Tyler. Weston quit that job he had and took a Business Development position with another firm. You’ve heard the story of how miserable and stressed out he was and that he quit in November. We loved Tyler, but felt a little like we couldn’t go back because we willingly chose to leave. Maybe it was partly pride – like we had moved on to bigger and better things, and now we were trying to go back.

In December Weston had a job offer from a company in Tyler, but turned it down. Too little money, maybe a bit of pride since he had been making more for the past few years.

We moved in with my parents for 5 months. When Fitz was born we were on our last couple thousand dollars. We had Fitz. We closed on our house and made money. Money that has allowed us to be self sustaining for the past 6 months and still have money for a down payment in the future. Weston looked for jobs over and over. He’d get to the last round with major companies people die to work for, but then he wouldn’t have this one random thing they were looking for. A company sent him a stinking gift basket and offered to be reference if he applied to other jobs at that company. Who does that?

We came back to Tyler for a friend’s baby shower and spent time talking to some other friends. They told us to pray and fast over the decision of where we were to live after we told them how much we love Tyler and miss it. And we did. And that Sunday at church, it was as if God was talking to us himself with something the pastor said in his sermon.

We took that leap of faith and decided to move back to Tyler. Without a job. Without actual prospects. But with friends praying for us and passing along Weston’s resume to everyone they knew. And so in June we moved.

We took a few weeks to get situated. Fitz got salmonella poisoning. The community we have here came around us. Bringing us food or snacks at the hospital, asking how he’s doing, praying for us, for Fitz. And then Fitz was out of the hospital. Weston had another week or two of job searching. Applying. Getting frustrated and finally telling the truth about his frustration and hopelessness feeling to people. And through community, some part time work was thrown his way. Stuff we determined could keep us mostly afloat until he found something full time. Shortly later, an interview. And then a second interview. And then a job offer.

And here we are. Realistically – 6 weeks or so after he started looking for a job here in Tyler, he’s employed. God has provided. Throughout everything over the past year and a half, I’ve seen God’s grace and His hand on us.

Moving from Tyler before that office closed. Setting it up for him to have the job at the company he was miserable at. It got us away quickly when he was told he might not have a job come January. Allowing us to get a house for a steal and being able to sell it for profit a year later. Allowing us to move in with one of our parents while he continued to look for a job. The encouragement from community we hadn’t been officially a part of for over a year. Encouragement from a church we were calling a temporary home while in Austin. Friends who continually prayed for us throughout this season and did everything they could to help Weston get a job. God providing Weston work and then a job once we got to Tyler.

God has set in place all these things to bring us back here. It has stretched us. It has grown us. Living in College Station grew me in ways I didn’t want to be grown, but were good. I’ve learned patience. I’ve learned to rely on God and not my own budgeting skills, my own intelligence, Weston’s intelligence, Weston’s abilities. God is faithful. God is the provider of all good things.

Provision

I expect God to do everything in my time. I expect(ed) God to give Weston a job immediately when we moved to Tyler. Because we believe like this is where God wanted us or it wasn’t where God didn’t want us, I then expected out of the obedience we gave to be immediately rewarded.

I expected nothing to go wrong with our move. I expected us to not be out any extra money even though I knew we were missing things we’d need to buy, like trash cans, shower curtains, light bulbs. In some way, shape, or form, I even expected the move to be a smooth transition for Fitz. I expected him to not have any problems sleeping in a new place, not in our room, in a crib instead of a pack-n-play.

As if obedience means no problems. No worries.

I want Weston to have a job because I know he wants to provide for our family. And I hate seeing us dip into our savings over and over again. Honestly, we’re doing fine and could be fine for probably the rest of the year. The hard part is remembering in February we were on our last month of money, we sold our house, and now it’s replenished. I don’t like being at that place.

We have everything we need and then some. I find myself growing impatient and have to remember that God says we don’t need to worry. That he’ll provide for us. That all good gifts come from Him. Sometimes I like to think that we’re doing fine because I’m such a good budgeter and saver and planner. But before we even got into this season God was providing for us for this season. We have no car payments even though we bought a car in October. We got a refund from our escrow account on our house. Then we sold our house. Then we got another refund for taxes on our house. With Fitz we got a refund from prepaying throughout my pregnancy to my first OB. Selling our house allowed us to put all the money we needed toward the medical bills.

I have to remember that God has been a complete Provider for us during this season. That even when I think we are doing the providing and taking care of ourselves, the gifts, the provisions have come from Him. At no point has he left us hanging. At no point has He not been faithful. That my impatience is unwarranted because this entire time He’s been taking care of us.