They Called Me Mommy.

“Um, Mommy, I love you.”

His little curly head was tucked right under my chin at 5:43 in the morning and I knew that morning snuggles would be my favorite. We had only met less than twelve hours ago but that little voice meant it when he called me mommy and told me that he loved me. I knew we would soon need to get ready for church, but for now we will be still.

Going into this placement we knew that our days were numbered, but that wasn’t going to stop us from showing them big love. We had J and J for 8 days. A short respite for their current foster family. Foster families use respite care for many different reasons. Sometimes foster kids are not allowed out of state/country for various reasons and the family has a trip planned. Often families use respite care to take an emotional break to allow them to continue on. We feel extremely blessed to be able to provide this little break for families in our area while loving little ones with big feelings.

 

One of our main goals in becoming Foster Parents is to make sure every child, regardless of how long or short they are in our home, feels loved and safe and celebrated. This week with a 5 and 4 year old meant lots of snuggles, farm outings, Jesus songs, and an (un)birthday party. What a blessing to love little people!

For 8 days, they called me mommy.

Daddy would read books and tuck them in. Mommy would rock and sing. We would pray. And they were safe. This was our beautiful life.

And now they are gone. Back to a loving foster family who also loves them. We will always be a part of this story God is writing for their lives, but for now we will do that with prayers from a distance.

If you’re interested in following along with our day to day journey follow us on instagram @forthesakeofbeautiful .

 

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Third Trimester.

Third Trimester.

It’s almost time.

Nesting tons.

Crying more.

 

We have three bedrooms (mostly) ready to receive children. The paperwork is nearing the end and sooner than we know it our big house is going to get a little fuller.

Buying our home was a dream that started before we moved back to Illinois, before we were married, and before my sweet husband even had the fuzzy start to facial hair. Growing up, Chris had said plenty of times how neat it would be if someday he bought the “grey block house” down the road and fixed it up to live in. Once we were married and looking for farm homes (first in Tennessee, then in Missouri, and most recently in Illinois), we would always compare the property to the land the Reynolds have lived on since the 1800’s. Little did we know just exactly how perfect is the timing of our God. The “grey block house” is a three story stone home that sits on the county line surrounded by cornfields and pasture. It has a large barn (that Chris’ great-grandpa and grandpa built in the 40s) and several other out buildings on the property. The grounds are covered with juicy strawberries, blueberry bushes, apple trees, grapes, and many other snacks to munch on while playing outside. The home was built in 1913 and has the original wood floors, corn stoves, and many original windows. It’s the kind of place you walk into and know it is full of life and stories. And it is all ours.

One of the best features of this beautiful place is the five upstairs bedrooms. When we started the process to become foster families one of our main prayers is that we would have the ability to keep siblings together while their parents work to get them back home. Many times siblings are split up because of a shortage of beds in any given foster home. We knew with five bedrooms we would have the space to keep larger sibling groups in tact! Praise the Lord! For the past month we have worked hard to maintain the integrity of this beautiful home while also getting it prepared to take on a new mission as a safe place for the hurting. And now, in our “third trimester” of foster care prep, our prayers are stronger than ever.

Both Chris and I have seen God work mighty miracles in providing for us over the last six months as we embarked on this journey to foster care. The prayer and tangible gifts have been such a blessing to our souls. It has been such a process and at times quite stressful and disheartening…but at those moments are when we feel the village supporting us. I can literally feel the presence of prayers surrounding us. Like a barrier between us and the worry/anxiety/fear/hurt that the enemy wants us to feel.

My spiritual gifts (both to give and receive) are gifts and words of encouragement. Man, how my cup is full! Furnishing three kids rooms (five beds total) is no easy task…yet we have seen God’s had in that as friends have come together to make sure our little ones are loved before they are even known. Support is such a key part of what makes foster care tick. I challenge you to find a way to support the foster care community in your community because without the support we have, I am sure we wouldn’t feel this peace.

For us, as it does most expecting parents, the third trimester brings on a ton of waiting. We still have a decent amount of running around to grab needed items and make sure our freezers are full. And there are a million check lists on our kitchen counters. But mostly, it just feels like waiting. I’ve decided that the waiting is beautiful. Because in the waiting I find quiet and in the quiet I find Jesus.

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Join us in prayer:

-For last minute details and purchases to be finished.

-For our hearts to be quieted and softened for the days ahead.

-For our children who are loved but not yet known by us, but loved and known by God.

-For the foster families in your community who may be overwhelmed, tired, or weary from the waiting.

Infertility Awareness 2017

This week begins our 4th year of unexplained infertility.

When we decided to “start” trying to get pregnant you could not have prepared me for what the past 36 months would be like. The buckets of tears I would cry after painful procedures and negative pregnancy tests. You could not have prepared me for how closely I would check labels on everything from mascara to ketchup. Or how many times I would have to quietly delete social media from my phone to stop from obsessing over others pregnancy announcements.

In the past 36 months I have gone from excited, to embarrassed, to outspoken. Excited at the thought of joining my best friends in the joys of motherhood, embarrassed that I seemed to be broken and unable to carry a baby, and now outspoken on the heartbreak that infertility brings. My life, and my heart is different. I am a different person.

I have panic attacks: Jesus redeems. I am weak to the point of inconsolability: Jesus is strong. My mind wants to live in the “what-ifs”: Jesus whispers truth. I mourn when my friends are joyful: Jesus gives grace. I am weary: Jesus gives rest.

My hope is not in my ability to carry a child in my womb. My hope is in the ability of Jesus to make me whole.

Month after month I read the story of the fiery furnace. Daniels friends were faced with the hardest choice of their lives and this was their response.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

But even if He does not.

He could. God could have swooped down and delivered those guys from the fire. He easily could have said, “wow guys, thanks so much for sticking up for me and not bowing to the idols”. But instead Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire and God got the glory.

He is good. So good. He is able to deliver me from my hurt. But even if he doesn’t, I will not give in to the devil’s lies about my ability to be a mother. Even if He does not, He will still receive glory. This is my prayer and my hope. That others would see my fight, my story, my hurt, and see God getting the glory.

This past week was Infertility Awareness week. I am thankful for the stories I have heard  this week from women and men, telling their stories and bathing each other in grace. If you know a woman or couple who is currently battling infertility, send them a card. Remind them they are loved and cherished. Because you never know when the dark moments come, and there could never be enough support.

sometimes you need a giant stuffed puppy to cuddle you better.

Preparing and Praying

Waiting. 

I am pretty sure there is no one in the history of the world who has said to themselves “Wow, waiting is so fun! I just love waiting!”. If you have ever been through the foster care or adoption process you know how this particular waiting feels. The emotions flow every time you meet with your DCFS agent, licensing worker, or attend a class. We are thankful for all of the screening and training, but we would also love to just have a child in our home.

On the flip side. It gives us time to pray and prepare. The most pressing realization during the wait is the sheer amount of things we have to have. Because, we realized, we aren’t just preparing for a newborn (although we are), but we are also preparing for a terrible two and a kindergartener. We know brothers and sisters and babies will enter our home without carseats or clothing or school supplies. So we work our hardest to be prepared. If I am being totally honest…I am a pretty terrible preparer. I stand in the camp of “just throw some things in the car and go”(anyone else in my camp?!). Thank you Jesus for pairing me with a over-planner planner! Chris makes lists and correctly labels things and keeps us on track. He makes me think through new ideas before I run with them. He is going to be the best daddy.

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As I sit here folding and labeling clothes, shoes, and hats I am reminded that it does not matter how much we prepare…there is so much unknown. We have no idea the amount of children who will be reunified with their family vs become ours forever. We have no idea the depth of hurt sweet babies will come to us with or the disabilities that will require endless doctors and therapy visits. This is when I remember the prayer. When I become overwhelmed with the unknown and the financial aspect and the lists that need checkmarks, I am learning to take a timeout and pray. God is so near in these moments. In this stage of our life. Even with all of the moving pieces and transitions and heartbreak we have been given an incredible gift. The gift of peace that passes all of our understanding.

So while we are in this season of praying and preparing: I also wanted to say thank you. All of the books and classes make it evidently clear that this foster care thing takes a village. Out of all of the things that we worry about, our village is not one of them. I know there are some of you who have specifically prayed for peace. Thank you. Thank you for loving our children before we even know them. And thank you for pouring your heart out to God on our behalf. We can feel it.

Now onto more preparing…

 

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Organized Chaos

 

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Anyone have a baby sock folding trick?

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Specifically Praying for the 3 year old who will wear this shirt. ❤

Finding Beauty in Vacation

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Extremely early in our marriage we made a choice to take vacation. To have periods of time without cares, technology, and alarm clocks. For the past four years we have honored this choice in large and small ways. We have gone on huge trips, and we have taken a backroad just because. Instead of grand dates for birthdays and holidays, we save that money and go on little adventures that find us vacationing in grand ways.

This Valentine’s Day we found ourselves in the Stars Hollow of Illinois…Bishop Hill. Bishop Hills, Illinois is a Swedish settlement with a rich history from the mid 1800s. Most of the buildings that were originally built (between 1840s and 1860s) are still in use today. It has a beautiful history and architecture. And the bustling population of 150 have done a wonderful job maintaining the beauty of this little village.

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We are a strong supporter of AirBnB and this trip did not disappoint. We stayed in a renovated 19th century farm cozy farmhouse. Josh and Carlee were fantastic hosts and we recommend anyone who wants a quiet getaway with all of the amenities of home…click here!  Vacation = Relaxing. And The Lilla Vita guest house was just that. Oversized chairs and couches, old records on the record player, and fresh smelling candles. It didn’t take long for us to be in true vacation mode.

The nice part about vacationing in small towns is with limited choices you do not have to waste time deciding what to do. There is only one spot for breakfast, two spots for lunch, and one spot for dinner. Between all of the wonderful country cooking is…shopping! So many handcrafted do-dads. Christopher and I loved exploring the sweet town and making memories together while lazily strolling down the brick paved roads.

We realize that many would not call a 24 hour getaway a “vacation”…however we choose to be optimistic. By leaving behind our phones (yes, which may mean getting a little lost on the way), quietly reading books on the porch, and dreaming up our next trip, we have our perfect vacation.

Whether you are a single explorer, adventurous couple, or a family with a travel bug…go out and do it. Don’t spend time planning every detail or making every reservation. The money will never all be there and the time will never be “just right”. But go! Explore. Even if it is just a day away. As we invite children into our home for short or long periods of time…one thing is for sure…they will all have the opportunity to experience the beauty of vacation.

bishophillBishop Hill has a “Lukes”!

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My Handsome Life Date.

Timeline…Foster Journey pt2

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We are so thankful for the response on my last post about Foster Care! Many of you have asked questions regarding our timeline in receiving a placement. For those who are curious, here is a super broad timeline of events for us in the next few months:

Step one: Background Checks, fingerprinting, physicals, lots and LOTS of paperwork.

Step two: Illinois PRIDE Classes. This is a 9 week class in which we will be receiving almost 30 hours of training. We are excited to start soaking in as much knowledge as possible about the children that will come into our care. Although these classes are long and the process is long we want to make sure we are doing as much as possible to glean knowledge and be the best parents we can be for Christ and for the kids.

Step three: Home inspection, Wait for license.

Step four: CHILDREN!

This whole process will put us somewhere in late spring. The big hang up would be the home inspection…only because we do not yet have a home (prayer point). Our licensing agent has been super kind and suggested we go ahead and start the process in faith that our future home will be perfect for our future children. And where most times they put the home inspection towards the front of the licensing process they are going to hold off and wait until we are able and ready.

Continue to pray with us through this process. And HUGE thank you to our friend and current Foster Parent Jihannah Hogge for taking this beautiful picture of us. We made little prayer cards to put on your fridge. If you would like one just send me your address and I’ll drop it in the mail!

Here we go…Foster Journey pt1

 

 

 

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Friends! We are so very excited to announce that we are on our way to becoming foster parents with the intent of adoption! After over a year of prayer and preparation we have submitted the paperwork to the state and had our first meeting with a licensing agent.

 

This is quite the process and we are just at the beginning but Chris and I believe so strongly in the Church’s role of caring for orphans, we want to raise awareness as we go along our own journey. I will be posting much more once we start our classes and get into the trenches! Please feel free to ask us any questions as we want to keep you informed.

 

And more than anything. Pray for us. Pray for our hearts. For the hearts of the children that will enter our home. For our social workers and judges and birth parents. There are so  many moving parts and people involved.

 

More than anything we want children to know the real love of Jesus Christ.