Monday, October 1, 2012

Reinventing Myself

There has been a couple of times in my life that I've had to change who I am.  The summer I met Ryan was one of these times.  God changed my heart and my goals that summer.  Six years later, He's changing me again.  He's asking that I take a good look at my priorities, my goals, and my ideas of success.

It's been about 2 months since I quit my job.  To say that it has been an adjustment being at home full-time would be a huge understatement.  Watching Layla all day is hard.  I have more respect for my stay-at-home mom friends than I ever had before.  The kicker is that Layla is great kid.  She's easy.  She's almost always in a good mood and she plays by herself pretty well.  She's not a picky eater and is pretty easily entertained.  All this to say: I have it good.  I love hanging out with her and seeing her learning new stuff all the time.

There's a lot of really fabulous perks to staying at home.  It's not all fun and games though.  I've been sick a lot lately (more info on this TBA in a couple of weeks.) There are days when Ryan gets home from work and dinner isn't cooked and I'm wanting to beat my head against the wall because our apartment looks like a I haven't cleaned it in weeks and I swear that I vacuumed and picked up the whole place less than an hour ago.  Let's be honest: I don't clean the floors because Maddox has knocked something over or shed too much.  I clean the floors because Layla dumped an entire box of rice and/or Goldfish on the floor and tried to eat/crunch them up into tiny pieces.

Every day is similar to the days before.  Wake up when Layla decides to wake up; make and eat breakfast; play and go for a walk; decide it's naptime; take nap while she naps; wake up when she wakes up; make and eat lunch; play; decide it's naptime; clean up while Layla naps; attempt to make dinner.

Some days we go places.  Some days I take two naps.  Some days I turn on Dinosaur Train (only a select few people will even know what this is.)  Some days I go to bed wondering what it is that I've done all day.

The brutal truth is that these days don't feel like much of a success to me most of the time.  I'm not used to measuring how well I'm doing by how many times I didn't raise my voice at Layla and how much time I spent actually playing with her and showing her love vs letting her watch TV.  Up until 2 months ago I knew how well I was doing by my school grades and how many cases I could get through at work.  Success was tangible and my hard work always paid off quickly.  These days I'm not even sure what success looks like for me.

The weird thing is that this whole thing reminds me a lot of my personal walk with God.  It's so easy for me to base my identity and success as a Christian on how much I'm doing.  When all the stuff that I'm doing gets taken away and I no longer have all my "works" to remind me who I am, I have nothing left but Christ as my identity.  So I'm reinventing myself.  I'll be the first to admit that I honestly have no idea what I'm doing as a stay-at-home mom and I have a TON of learning to do.  But I'm trying to take it one day at a time and find little victories throughout the day.  Obviously, ANY advice is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


It's pretty sad when you can't remember the last time you wrote a post.....

Life has been, well, changing.  Layla is 13 months old. I'm officially a stay-at-home-mom.  Ryan is working in charleston. Tomorrow is the start of moving weekend for the rest of us as our apartment is finally ready. I'm officially a USC grad. A couple of other stuff has been going on as well but I won't share about that for a bit longer.....

One thing I can say through all of this change is that Ryan and I are beyond certain that God is moving us to Charleston for a reason and we are super pumped to finally be getting there this weekend. I'm also beyond excited to have my own home again, even if it is a two bedroom apartment. Living with other people is HARD. It's like having roommates again... Except with a one year old thrown in for extra craziness. :) Layla has seemed pretty oblivious to it all. Lucky her....

Regardless, I'll be so happy to get my sweet pup back home. I've seriously been missing Maddox  this last month at home. I know Layla and I could use the company during the day. On a side note: hooray for Kit for informing me that Kiawa is a dog-friendly leash free beach. I will most likely be spending my Monday afternoon there with my favorite people and furry friend.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The best laid plans......

of mice and men often go astray.......

Of if you don't like cryptic messages: We're moving to Charleston.

Shocker, I know.  We're still processing this ourselves.  We certainly didn't come up with the idea on our own.  Last Thursday Ryan was informed that he's being "indefinately" assigned to work in Charleston.  I'm not really a fan of that word.  It means "we aren't really sure how long this is going to be, so just don't make any plans."  His time frame is most likely 6 months to a year.  That is 6 months to a year of traveling to and from Charleston 5 days a week.  That sounded pretty terrible to me.  Apparently, it sounded pretty terrible to Ryan too.  So he asked his boss man if he could work in Charleston permanently if we were to just move there.  Answer = yes. 

God has funny timing with things like this.  While this summer is absolutely hectic, He threw us this curve ball at the exact perfect time.  We will, in fact, be homeless after July 23rd.  Our current house sells that day, and we were planning on living with the in-laws for at least a month and a half until our new house would be finished.  Turns out we won't be buying that big beautiful new home after all.  The builder will sell it to some lucky couple who will benefit from my design prowess (jk of course).  I FINALLY finish school on August 2nd and I was going to be looking for a new job soon regardless of where I was living.  When Ryan told me that I could quit my job and be a (GASP) Stay at Home Mom for a couple of months at least, I kinda couldn't help but say ok.

We have a lot of details that we still haven't worked out.  We don't have a place to live. We don't know where we want to live.  We don't know when we're going to officially move down there.  We have no idea what church we're going to go to.  We have no idea who is going to step into our leadership roles in the ministries that we are involved in.  There are a LOT of unknowns, and for some reason we are ok with that.  Yes, it is a shocker when you walk into a two bedroom apartment and realize that instead of getting more stuff, you have to get rid of half your stuff.  But God is good even in the crazy. 

All we know is that He's given us an amazing peace about this whole thing, and we're all in this together; even the dog..... 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from the blog for a couple of weeks.  There are a LOT of changes going on in our house, and I really don't have a ton of extra time to write posts.  Layla will be a year old in less than a month and I want to spend as much time as I can focusing on her and Ryan in the itty bitty amount of spare time that I have.  We're hopefully only going to have about a month of crazy and I should be back with billions of updates in August. 

In the meantime, we would really love your prayers this month.  We're going to be logging a lot of travel/moving/studying/working hours and can only hope that we come out unscathed and still mentally stable on the other side.  Alas, it is better if we push through. :) 

See you in a month or so!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adoptable Tuesday (on Wednesday): Dakota!

Have you ever seen a picture of a child that just makes you want to smile back at him?  When I first saw Dakota's picture, that's that I did.  This kid has a terrific smile and some seriously kind eyes.  Any USC dad's out there? 

Meet Dakota W (Born 1998)n 1998
Dakota likes football so much that he wants to be the quarterback for the USC Gamecocks. He describes himself as an awesome, cool, and smart guy. Dakota’s favorite subject in school is Math but he also enjoys Reading. His favorite movies are Red Tails and Terminator 3. Dakota would like his future family to know that he wants to be loved and adored. He also wants his family to have a dog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

As of Lately

I haven't posted many updates on the new house lately.  Honestly, our current house has been for sale for 5+ months and we were beginning to think that maybe we weren't meant to move at all.  We started wrestling with what that reality meant for our family.  I started doubting if God really wanted us to have a larger family.  After all, we really don't have much room to put any other children in our current home. 

But of course, in His perfect timing, we got a bite.  Just as we were about to throw in the towel and say that it wasn't His plan for us, an offer came through.  As of Saturday morning, our house is under Contract!  If all goes well with the inspection, we'll be moving out on July 21st. 

This is how far along the new house is:
They've been taking their sweet time in building it because of our current house situation.  If we were unable to sell our house, then the builder would have to put this one on the market.  Now they don't, so they'll be speeding along.  Originally, we were told it would be done in July.  They are still saying that an end of July closing date is realistic.  We'll see.....
The house has been sided (mostly) and the inside has been sheetrocked.  Cabinets, painting and base molding are next.  Then flooring will go in along with countertops. 
This is the view from the dining room into the den.  My favorite thing about this house is how open everything is, while still keeping rooms seperate.
This is the view into the kitchen.  That random wall will be an island.
The rest of the weekend, Layla and I hung out at home.  We kept the dogs for the weekend, and needless to say, Layla was sooo glad to have Maddox home.
Layla bought Ryan a rocket for Father's Day.  We scooped up a friend's little boy from down the street and shot rockets after dinner on Sunday.  Yes, we are nerds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


My home church decided to take on a diaper drive for TFI last month.  I'm proud to say that we collected over 3000 diapers and a TON of wipes.  I love how the body of Christ is stepping up and taking responsibility for helping the fatherless in our area. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adoptable Tuesday: Shiquasha!

Well Ryan and I just got back in the country, so I'm a bit late when it comes to our featured child in foster care this week.  My apologies!

Father, these kids are YOUR kids. They were created perfect and beautiful, in your image. Work as only you can: Give them homes and give them love.  Heal their wounds and bind their hearts.  Give them a miracle.....

Meet Shiquasha!

Described as intelligent, talented and funny, Shiquasha is pondering becoming a singer or a dancer. Her favorite school subjects include Image Editing and Chemistry and she enjoys Chinese food. Shiquasha’s ideal forever family would only consist of a mother and a puppy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adoptable Tuesdays: Diamond!

Father, these kids are YOUR kids. They were created perfect and beautiful, in your image. Work as only you can: Give them homes and give them love.  Heal their wounds and bind their hearts.  Give them a miracle.....

This week's featured child in foster care is Diamond! 

Diamond says she is smart, beautiful, intelligent, and well behaved. She loves to dance, shop, and hang out with friends. Diamond’s favorite class at school is Math, her favorite food is ice cream, and her colors of choice are blue and white. Diamond is dreaming of an adoptive family who will love her.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Make a Difference Mondays

So today I'm posting over here:

The Forgotten Initiative Blog: Make a Difference Mondays

Go check it out and see what God is doing through The Forgotten Initiative in our local community!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Not?

God is good.  God is sooooo good.

Can we talk about how super pumped I am that I've gotten to talk to multiple people in the last couple of days about whether they should foster/adopt?  Some of them are just curious, but some are seriously feeling the tug of God on their hearts.  Regardless of how far along they are in wrestling through it, I'm ecstatic to see people genuinely thinking about what it would look like in their life.

With that said, I've heard a ton of questions and concerns about how fostering/adopting a child would change everything (both good and bad).  Let's be honest for a minute..... Raising a kid is hard work.  Adopting or fostering a kid is hard work.  There are times when I think about how much easier and simpler my life was before I had a kid.  But it is SO worth it!  Anybody who has ever had a child of their own knows how rewarding and amazing being a parent is.  Adoption and fostering are no different.

Granted, not everyone is meant to be a foster or adoptive parent, but I don't want that to be your excuse.  Let's put aside the reasons why you SHOULDN'T adopt or foster a child that needs a loving home and then ask God to make the decision for us.

Reasons to Not Adopt or Foster a Child:
  1. I don't have/make enough money.
  2. I'm Single.
  3. My house isn't big enough.
  4. They might harm or be bad influences to my biological children.
  5. I'm done parenting.  My kids are grown up.
  6. I'm too old.
  7. I'm too young.
  8. We're trying to have biological children.
  9. We'll adopt after we have kids of our own.
  10. They have too many problems.
  11. It takes FOREVER.
  12. I need to get my life in order first.
Am I missing any? 

I'm just going to throw out there that we qualified for #'s 1,3,7,8,9,10,11,and 12 on that list.  God provided beautifully, just as He always promises that He will. 

I'm so glad that He didn't look at me when I was lost and forsaken and needing love and make a list of  reasons why He couldn't adopt me as His daughter.  Put your list away for a moment and ask; really ask Him why you shouldn't. 

Little Bits and Pieces

Lots and lots of stuff has been going on lately!  You already knew that of course....  Now that I don't have to think about school every night....or at all really.... I get to think about so many other things!

Like GRADUATION (whoot whoot!) 

And making sure my daughter doesn't fling food across my kitchen (I gave up on salvaging her clothes after she eats.)

And this A-MAZ-ING Frappucino maker Ryan got me for Mother's Day.

And Cheesin' it up for pictures (gosh I love pictures.....)

And prepping to share the truth with some awesome guys at St. Jacob's Lutheran Church in Chapin on Sunday night!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Adoptable Tuesdays: Jay!

Father, these kids are YOUR kids. They were created perfect and beautiful, in your image. Work as only you can: Give them homes and give them love.  Heal their wounds and bind their hearts.  Give them a miracle......

I'm starting my first (and probably only) weekly themed blog post.  I'm happy to say that each Tuesday I will spend some time helping you get to know some of the foster children in South Carolina that are currently available for adoption.  Every week a different child will be featured.  The children listed have requested that DSS reach out and advertise for a family for them.  We've graciously been given permission from the South Carolina Heart Gallery to help in the hunt.  With that said, let's start off with some Stats for South Carolina's foster system.

There are 4854 children in foster care in SC
Children spend an average of 17 months in foster care
There are 3637 foster families licensed in SC
There are 688 foster children legally available for adoption
978 foster children are not legally adoptable
532 foster children were adopted in 2010 (71% were adopted by their foster parents)
Only 2/3 of foster children live in foster homes, the rest live in group care (Orphanages) and institutional settings.
Now you know.......

This week we're featuring Jay!

Jay’s enthusiasm for Science and Biology at school should help him reach his goal of becoming a pediatric nurse. For fun he enjoys playing basketball, baseball, and football. Jay’s favorite food is spaghetti, his favorite movie is The Green Hornet, and his favorite color is red. Jay dreams of joining a family that would provide him with a mom who can cook, a sports-minded dad, and an older brother or sister. He would also like to live in a house with a pool!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Allowing Myself to Grieve, Finally

God has been opening up some wounds lately that I've never really dealt with.  There are two pretty good sized holes in my heart that never healed over.  Most of the time, I just skim over that part of our lives.  It was too painful to dwell on.  The facts are the same though, no matter how much I wish it never happened. 
We have had three children. 
We only have one now. 

I read this post and thought I would share.  It's less for you to read, and more for myself....

"I don’t know what caused her life to end here, but I do know she is in better hands. I know someday I will meet her, this child taught from the beginning by the most perfect parent; a child who has truly never breathed a moment outside His presence."
Read the whole post here:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes Crap Happens.....

I really enjoy writing and I love that I can use this blog to write about whatever I feel like.  The past two weeks have been kinda ridiculous, though, and writing has had to take a back seat to more important things. Prioritizing is key when your life is nutso like mine.  Priorities have been:
1. God
2. Husband
3. Child
4. School
5. Promises/other responsibilities
6. Blog

Sorry......but my relationship with the first three is pretty important.

Another reason I haven't posted a ton of awesome stuff lately is, well, life threw some crap at me.  Sometimes crap happens........

After all was said and done and I finally finished school/bridal/batchelorette parties/house selling madness, I apparently stressed myself out so much that I ended up in the ER monday night because of a migraine.  A couple of pain shots and a CT Scan later, and I was snoozing away in a cloud of drowsiness.  Tuesday morning proved to be just as crazy when Layla jumped off her changing table and busted her mouth open.  I don't even want to talk about how scary it was to look at her crying with blood streaming out of her mouth and all over her hands.  Turns out, the doc said we would have been in his office the next day regardless because she had an ear infection and thrush on her tongue. 

I seriously contemplated staying home from work and just hiding in my house today......

Monday, April 30, 2012

We've Hit the Big Time!

Sorry the blog has been quiet this past week.  Life got crazy.  It's normally crazy, but this time it got REALLY CRAZY.   YAY EXAMS!

Something super cool happened today though:  My adoption/foster care/TFI advocate story got featured on LifeSong for Orphans Blog.  I find this flattering and yet kind of funny at the same time.  I really don't think our story is that amazing or out there.  We're just regular people that God has given a passion for orphans to.  Its really awesome to see how the stuff that I see as normal has touched people's lives.  Anyways, head on over and read our story at:

Just for fun, I thought I'd share this little picture of heaven with you all. Snoring away.....

Friday, April 20, 2012

To My Daughter

My little Layla Bean,

You're turning 9 months old on Sunday.  Where has the time gone?  It seems like just yesterday that you were trying to roll over by yourself and sit up without toppling over.  Now, you can cover the length of the room in 2 seconds flat.  You can pull goldfish out of a container and eat them all by yourself.  You push a walker and laugh at Diego for the short period of time that Daddy lets you watch TV.  Your constant babble and dorky laugh fill the quietness of our house.  Just the other day, you snuck into one of the bathrooms and decided that the toilet lid was a drum for you to beat on.  You're sassy, loud, and love to be the center of attention.  You've never met a stranger in your life.

I love that you've picked up some of our crazy antics and facial expressions.  Sometimes, I think you have my smile.  We aren't always the best parents, but we try our hardest to make sure you're happy and know that you're loved.  I hope that we're setting a good example for you to follow.  I hope you're able to see how much your dad and I love one another.  I pray that you'll always know how much you mean to us by the time we spend with you and not the gifts we give. 

One day you'll grow up to be a beautiful woman, but for now you're my little Layla Bean with an infectious laugh and a daredevil streak.  Always remember that you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God himself, and you are just right for our family.

We love you.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Am I Advocating For?

The answer is pretty simple, really.  I'm advocating for healing and understanding; for kids whose lives are crumbling beneath them to find love in Jesus and his followers. 

Recently I decided to tackle the task of bringing an organization from Illinois to little old South Carolina so that these broken hearted kids in our own backyard could be shown a Savior who loves them deeply.  The Forgotten Initiative is a group of regular people who knew God was telling them that feeling sorry for these children wasn't enough. 

As the South Carolina Advocate for TFI, I've already gotten to see how a helping hand and a little love can bring the life back into the lives of some of our overwhelmed social workers.  Just knowing that there are people who care about them and are praying for the work they are doing can mean the world to someone.  I was devastated when a social worker told me that she was glad that not everyone thought they were terrible people and simply out to break up families. 

I wasn't sure whether to celebrate or cry on the day that three young teenagers walked into an emergency shelter after school and were literally ecstatic to show me the new shoes they were given to wear to school the next day. 

I was in shock when I heard that case workers have to bring children into the agency and bathe them because they are covered in filth.  Then to make matters worse, they have to put them back in their dirty clothes because they don't have any clean clothes to give them.

I saw how priveledged my life has always been when I heard that many teenagers in foster care have to drop out of school during their senior years in high school because they have turned 18 and are suddenly on their own with no idea how to make a resume, set up a budget, buy a car, get a bank account, fill out the FAFSA or apply for college. 

Is this America?  Does this happen in our neighborhoods?  Does this happen to our childrens' friends whose parents were killed in a car accident or were caught up in some shooting?  Are there people out there that let their boyfriends stick pushpins in their babies and claim they didn't know?  Are their kids who are born to parents that are just kids themselves? 

We can't sit idly by and let children suffer for the sins of their fathers.  We can't punish a little girl whose father was abusive to her.  We can't expect an 18 year old boy with no place to live and no food on his table to wake up every morning to go to high school.  We have to show them love.  They need a Savior and a God who is bigger than their circumstances, but they need us to show them that God.  Healing can come for these little ones, but we have to be willing to let God use our hands and feet to bring it to them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Rise of a Home

While we are plugging along with the rest of our lives, something fascinating is happening.  Every day a crew of workers head over to this place:

Ryan loves the building process, so we drop by on our way home from dinner and take in what has been going up on this plot of land.  It is a constant physical reminder to me of the spiritual fact that a home doesn't just appear out of thin air.  You have to BUILD a home.  There are millions of tiny pieces that go into a home. Each one important. Each one with a purpose.

Since this last picture, shingles have gone on and electical wiring has been run.  Next up with be installing the windows and doors that are currently sitting in the garage. 

I love our new house, but there is one room in particular that I keep finding myself in over and over again.  This room.  This second story medium sized bedroom.  This place that will someday house two twin beds on either side of that window.  This space that will hold squeels and laughter, crying and screaming.  This will be the room where two little boys who need a place to rest their heads will find a pillow just for them.  This is my favorite room of all.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bantu Knots and the Best Website EVER

Today is a good day.  I just stumbled upon Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care.  Today is a really good day. 

Layla's curls have definately gotten more manageable over the last couple of weeks.  I changed it up quite a bit and decided that I just wasn't doing it right.

So now I rely on a couple of awesome products to help me, since I really don't know what I'm doing :)
1. Just for Me 2-in-1 Conditioning Detangler
2. Wide tooth comb
3. Just for Me Curl Smoother Creme
4. A shampoo that I can't remember the name of right this second....
5. Plastic Hair Elastics

Her hair is not as tangled as it used to be and has grown A LOT in the past few months.  I've had to start putting it up in sections because it is too short to hang flat, but too long to not look ridiculous.  I'm kicking myself because I don't have a picture of how I normally put it up. 

Regardless, I found this AMAZING website on how to take care of "chocolate" hair.  She even tells you how to cornrow and put beads in their hair.  PTL!  What I'm really psyched about is the Bantu Knots hair style.  The tutorial is here .  Let's just hope Layla will sit still long enough for me to pull it off!

No worries, I'll upload some pics as soon as I am able.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids on Race

First off, I'm sorry for the prolonged silence.  I've had some MAJOR school projects due lately and, to be honest, I've been living my thought life in Panem killing people and protecting my husband in the Hunger Games.  Needless to say, I haven't have much to say that wouldn't make me look like a freak. :)

I was parusing my blogfeed this AM and found this post.  If you're unsure of the importance of talking to your kids about race, and don't think you're actions say your biased, please read this post and watch the short documentary by CNN.  Its quite eye opening to say the least.

Rage Against the Minivan: Kids on Race (a CNN Study)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coffee Colored

Layla is the color of coffee with a hint of caramel and cream.  In certain lights, you can see a slight deep red tone in her skin. Her eyes are so black, that many times they appear to be whatever color surrounds her.  She is always playing with the soft ringlets that sit on her head.  She is the perfect combination of hispanic and and african american.  She's stunning. 

There are moments when we are out eating or shopping that people will stop us and tell us how gorgeous she is.  Some strangers have a knowing look, as they take in the sight of our family and smile.  Some smile at us with searching eyes; confused and questioning without actually saying anything that might give them away.  Sadly, there are still people who look absolutely appalled by us.  We aren't typical.  We aren't all the same color.  We aren't safe.  What I see as beautiful can sometimes leave people outraged and uncomfortable.  There isn't much of a middle ground.

The sad truth is that we grow up in a society that conditions us to be ashamed of interracial anything.  I remember briefly "dating" a bi-racial boy when I was in middle school (Let's be honest, no one actually dates in middle school.)  I remember to this day the conversation that I had with my family about it.  It stung knowing that I had accidentally broken some unspoken rule.  Years later I outright lied to a lot of people and claimed that it never happened.  I was embarrassed by the fact that I had ever even considered liking someone of another color. 

Fast forward 10 years.  God overcame my ignorance.  God gave me a precious baby girl that would break apart every barrier that we'd built.  She is perfect and her very existence has destroyed our family's masked racism.  Now, I'm gripped by the fear that my beautiful Layla, with her coffee colored skin, wild hair, and infectious smile might one day fall in love with a boy whose parents don't approve of her.  What will I tell her then?  Will the love that we instill in her in our home protect her from the outside world?  No.  But I'm constantly praying that the love of our Father will always be enough to convince her she's beautiful and wonderfully made.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Afternoon to Ourselves

Today I got to spend a lot of time with Layla.  I love my little booger so much, but its not every day that I get to just hang out with her by myself and not be working on something for school.  It was perfect outside, so we spent an hour or so just hanging out in the front yard playing with toys.  I took a couple of pictures to help me remember the day.  Layla is crawling all over the place and she spends a lot of time getting into mischief and attempting to walk.  She love being outside, minus the pollen.