He is enough.

 

Bath toys and diapers and blankets…oh my!

That is me just sitting here on the floor in my living room, looking around and listing the land mines that are littered about.

Two weeks ago we welcomed into our hearts and home three little loves. Our home went from a huge farm house, just me and my sweet husband, to a giggling home full of diapers and love. We are the “right now” parents to the three amigos. Three loves two and under. And our lives will never be the same.

Now that we are past the first week of adjustments I feel I can truthfully say that we are doing wonderfully. If you saw us in the first week however, man, am I sorry. Both Chris and I were walking zombies…the three amigos were full of every emotion…and all five of us were trying to figure it out. Moving forward we recognize it will be a never ending phase of figuring it out, but we now have a good base. We trust each other.

One of the most interesting and challenging parts of being a foster parent is learning about your toddler. This handsome and funny two year old is now my responsibility. And instead of having two years to learn who he is, what he likes and dislikes, where his insecurities lie, or how I can best love him, we have a twenty minute car ride to our house. Praise Jesus for the grace he gives us as parents!

There are many many unknowns in Foster care, but this I do know, Jesus gives enough. There is nothing that I can do in my own power. When I try to work within my own power I fail miserably. But Jesus. He knows. He gives. He is enough.

Nothing could have prepared me for this stage of life. No training classes, or advice from others, or endless books I read. There is no way I could have known how many doctors we would need to see, or how much laundry I would do, or how truly tired we would be. So I am thankful for the promise of 2 Corinthians 12:9,  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” He is enough.

We will never know how long a child will stay in our home, but this we do know, while they are here they are to be loved 100%. Not because I have 100% to give at all times (seriously, the physical touch is about to be the death of me!), but because we are called and commanded. And because in my weakness…He is enough.

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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.

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!

6 Successful Poshmark Tips

I have been apart of the Poshmark community for a year now and many have asked me how I continue to be successful not just at purchasing great items and outfits for over half the cost, but also making a profit. Poshmark has easily become a second income that provides us extra date night money, cash to pay off debt, or spending money for vacation. It helps you declutter, upgrade your wardrobe, or simply find a steal of a deal on that pair of shoes you need for your sisters wedding. Regardless of your motive I have 6 Poshmark tips to help you jumpstart your closet into making sales.

 

#1) Take fantastic photos.

The cover photo is the first thing a browser sees. There may be hundreds of size 7 red pumps, you want yours to be the one that stands out. Start by using natural lighting. Find the room in your home that has the best natural light and use that as your photo and staging area. By using natural lighting you will be most accurately showing the color, texture, and style. Another tip when it comes to photos is styling. Let’s say your item is a blue dress. You could style the dress hanging up with a jacket and necklace, or laying flat with a pair of shoes and handbag laying next to it. Styling helps others see beyond the one piece into what their outfit could look like by buying your one piece. (bonus points if your “styling pieces” are also listed in your closet)

 

#2) Price Accurately

Having accurate pricing is vital. If your item is priced too high potential customers will avoid it and look for the same or similar item at a cheaper price. If an item is priced too low they will automatically assume it has a major flaw and will also avoid the item. It is easy to come up with an accurate price by first remembering or looking up (google for the win) what it cost new. From there you can search your item on Poshmark and see what others are selling the item for and make your price there. Remember when you want to notify others of a “dropped price” you must do so in 10% or more increments so this may play into how you initially price your item.

 

#3) Clearly describe item

As clearly as possible describe your item. Instead of saying “Blue Dress. Good condition”, you could expand and say “Darling Blue A-Line dress from J.Crew. Hidden zipper in back and cute pleats along the front. Cotton/Polyester blend. Worn in office with a jacket or cardigan. Good used condition, just some minor wash wear under the arms, barely noticeable”. You want to make sure their eye is drawn to the details once they click on your listing. And once they purchase the item you want to make sure you are shipping exactly what they believed they were buying. This will help you get better ratings and also a better seller’s reputation. Never, ever, lie and try to make a product sound better than it is, not only is it dishonest but Poshmark could easily band you for misrepresenting your listing.

 

#4) Interact with potential buyers

A key to success is not only being kind in your responses but being prompt. If someone asks you a question about your listing make sure to respond as soon as physically possible. Sometimes I am asked a question that I cannot get to right away such as, “Can you take an additional photo of the hem?”. Even though it will be several hours before I am home to take the additional photos, I will still respond in a timely matter to let them know I see them, “Hi @sarah921, I’m sorry but I’m at work right now. I will get you those extra photos as soon as I get home! :)”. Sometimes you can even engage in potential buyers before they even ask a question. If I see someone has liked more than 2-3 items I can comment on one and ask if they would like me to bundle up some listings to save them money, ie, “Hey girl, @shopaholic43, I see you have liked 4 different items of mine. I would love to bundle those up and give you a great discount! Let me know if you’re interested!”. Staying engaged is important when you have an online community such as Poshmark.

 

#5) Share Share Share Share…

Many people forget about “Self Shares”. A self share is when you literally share your listing with your followers. This helps your listing be among the first that pop up when users are searching for a specific item. Personally, I self share all of my items twice a day and then periodically throughout the day I will share items I believe to be “top sellers”. You should also share others listings. You can do this by finding people you follow and sharing their closet, or just from your home feed just start sharing away. Poshmark is a community that relies on each other for sales. So people whom you share will share back. Likewise, make sure if someone shares from your closet you make every effort to share back.

 

#6) Be quick to ship

One sure fire way to get good reviews and in turn more sales is to be quick to ship your sold items. It is as easy as getting free priority boxes or envelopes from the USPS, printing your shipping label, packaging it up, and dropping it at the post office! I use tissue paper, ribbon, and hand written thank you notes to package up my sales. That way it feels like Christmas being delivered to your door!

Remember, like anything worth having, making sales on Poshmark requires your time. For me, for the first few months that I was getting established, I deleted all games and some social media from my phone. Any time I was in a time wasting situation I would turn “sharing” on Poshmark into a game. In my first three months I made 80 sales and almost a year later have over 300. If you put the time into it you can have some fun spending cash and meet some fun people. If you’re just looking to update your wardrobe I have found everything from a bridesmaid dress, to swimwear, to henna, and some darn cute wedges for my upcoming vacation. Whatever you’re looking for, buying or selling, I highly recommend downloading Poshmark.

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