Friday, June 25, 2010

"You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion"

Psalm 139:13-18 (New Living Translation)
"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me,[a] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

Every day I wake up thanking God for the blessings He has given me.  And yet, why me?  I don't deserve anything, much less these children that He has given me to raise up in the admonition of the Lord.  That is a HUGE that I'm afraid I fail at quite often.  Some days I feel like the ONLY time I am doing any good for these children is while we are all sleeping!
Yet He chose me anyway.  In willingness, He will give ability I suppose.  I get told all the time how well behaved my children are, and I don't say that to brag.  They are children after all...MY children!  They have a LOT going against them in that regard!!  And I don't feel like I have necessarily "raised them right".  But for the grace of God...
What I have tried to always do is make them aware of those around them.  When we go anywhere, people look at us.  Why wouldn't you?  We are a freak show to so many!  If I weren't me, I'd look and stare!  (Side note:  I have those little stick people on the back of my truck...10 of them so far...and quite frequently, I'll have someone who was behind me, speed up to go around me, only to slow down when they get to my window as they want to see who this crazy person is with all these kids!  I always hope that I am not what they expected.)
Back to my kiddos.  I have always stressed that there are many of us, so we need not get in other people's way.  At the grocery store, they have been trained to walk on one side of the aisle, behind my cart.  If you are 2-3 or younger, you ride in the cart.  When you turn 3-4, you are promoted to holding the side of the cart.  When you turn 5-6, then you are promoted again to walking behind me with the big kids.  (Samara was recently promoted and she is SO proud!)  I don't want my big family to ever be a bother.  I teach my children that nobody else should be able to hear their conversation in the store.  If you are talking to your brother, standing right next to you, I shouldn't be able to hear you.  We strive to stay out of the way of others and to be a blessing, not a bother.  Many times I will turn around to find one of my big boys not with us...they will have stopped to hold a door open for others...without me asking them to!  Those instances thrill my heart. 
Lest you start cussing me, we are ALWAYS in training!!  I don't know that there is ever a time that we go through the store without me having to say "Where are you supposed to be?" or "I shouldn't be able to hear you."  When we get in the checkout line, my kids unload the carts (yes, I said CARTS...plural!) and then reload the bags.  They help load the truck and then do all the unloading and putting away of the groceries.  They have become quite efficient with the process. 
So, we get through the grocery store without issue, almost always.  (And yes, I almost always take all 8 children with me to the store to do our bi-weekly shopping...can't train them if they aren't with you!)  But so what?  Does it really make a difference that your children are well behaved if they don't have eternal salvation?  Sure, it makes it a lot easier to take your kids places, but really?  All of that daily training is pointless if I forget the most important training of all...the indescribable love and salvation of our Heavenly Father. 
I have this verse posted in our school room: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."  3 John 1:4   Isn't that the truth?  But it doesn't just happen.  It is our responsibility as parents of the children God has given to us to TEACH "train up a child in the way he should go".  This was not an "if you feel like it, would you tell your kids a little bit about me?" is a COMMAND...whether you feel like it or not.  You love your kids more than anything, right?  Then shouldn't teaching them about Christ be at the very top of your to do list?  (I may start stepping on some toes here...please know that I am not just talking to you, but as I type these words, God is totally speaking to my own heart.)  Tell me what will be more important in eternity: that your child was the best softball player on the team, even though you had to miss church for most of his games, or that your child is walking in the truth?  Now, I'm not saying that you can't be a good Christian AND play sports...I just used that one as an example...I don't even personally know anyone who does this...I promise!  What I'm trying to say is that GOD should be at the top of our to do list.  (Or for my homeschooling friends, at the top of your curriculum list!) 
On June 13, 2010, we had Emma Claire dedicated at our church.  I needed to get it done as quickly as's a stupid little fear that I know is totally ridiculous, but I waited two weeks to have Jacob dedicated...he died the day before his dedication.  I also know that you don't HAVE to have your child dedicated in order for them to spend their eternity with the Savior.  Our dedications are just that...we as parents, and the church, are dedicating this child to the Lord, and promising to train them in the teaching of the Lord.  "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."  Ephesians 6:4
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."  Psalm 139:23-24

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"How happy are those who fear the Lord...

all who follow His ways!  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How happy you will be!  How rich your life?  Your life will be like a fruitful vine, flourishing within your home.  And look at all those children!!  There they sit around your table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees.  That is the Lord's reward for those who fear Him."  Psalm 128:1-4

I promised you details about Emma's "gotcha" day, so here we go.  But first, I want to give you a little background as to the court process when it involves DHS foster care and adoption.  When you adopt privately/through an agency, you are given a finalization date, you show up, and that's that.  Now, sometimes, depending upon the situation, you might have
been to the same judge when the birth parents relinquished. 

In DHS court, under normal circumstances, you have been going to court with/for your foster children for 6 months to 3 or 4 years.  You and the court go through a LOT together.  Even if you haven't had the child very long (much like Emma's case) or you are doing straight adoption, in most cases the judge has been involved in the child's life since they came into care.  These judges love to see these cases played out. 

In our case, not only had the judge been overseeing Emma's case for 10 months, but he was also the judge in Jacob's case.  Jacob was one of Judge Kirby's first cases when he moved to the juvenile court.  And for some reason, Jacob touched that courtroom and those who worked there.  I have no idea why, but they were all very fond of him. 

So, Thursday morning (very early for us) we all piled into Judge Kirby's courtroom at 9am.  It was just our immediate family's, but 18 people crowded in front of the bench looks like a bunch!  Judge Kirby made sure everyone felt welcome at the bench.  We chatted for a minute while waiting on one of the DHS workers.  (HaHa...such irony.)  And then Judge Kirby swore us all in...even the little kids!  Our attorney questioned us as to why we wanted to adopt Emma, was it in the best interest of her and our family, etc.  (All the while, she was beaming from ear to ear!)  At one point, she asked if Emma had attached to us since coming to live with us and then she laughed and said, "Well, I see that she has!"  It was very obvious in the courtroom that Emma was already a part of this family.  And then it was done.  The judge ordered it and congratulated us all. 

But then...he looked at me and said, "How have you been doing.  Are you doing okay?"  I told him that we were actually doing very well, but I appreciated his concern.  And he said, "Well, I pray for you...all of you (pointing to our entire family).  You are a special family to this courtroom."  I promised to keep him updated on our family and send pictures often.  (The judges LOVE pictures.)  When I send Judge Kirby pictures from the day, I think I will send him the story behind our Emma.  (Oh...did I mention that Judge Kirby goes to church where ChildSHARE offices out of?  Yeah, small world!)

We shook hands and walked out of the courtroom.  And she was ours.  Emma Claire Phillips.  God's promise had come to fruition.  God's faithfulness shown through in that courtroom.  And 10 minutes later, our attorney handed us the papers that make it all official...the adopton decree.  What a perfect end to such an
eloquently orchestrated promise that came from an awesome God!

And then we were off to the lake to celebrate!! 
"Oh Lord, you are a great and awesome God!  You always fulfill Your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and keep your commands."  Daniel 9:4

"Surely the Lord has done great things!  Don't be afraid, my people!  Be glad now and rejoice because the Lord has done great things!"  Joel 2:20b-21

"For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.  But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations."  Psalm 33:4, 10-11 

Remember that time when I wrote about this?  Well, I still have this can of formula sitting on my tv stand in my bedroom as a constant reminder of God and His promises. 

A year ago this week, I posted this picture:

 We found out on June 13, 2009, that we were indeed going to be adopting a baby girl!  God was granting me the desires of my heart.  Now, if you have been reading this blog very long, you already know that we did not end up adopting this baby at birth, as was planned. 

Today, June 13, 2010, we had this same baby, Emma Claire, dedicated at our church.  God's plans CANNOT be thwarted.  Even when everything around us looks as though it's going in a different direction than what we thought should happen, even then, God's plans CANNOT be thwarted. 

I cannot put into words the feelings that I have toward this baby that God has given to us.  I am not sure how it is when you finalize a private adoption, but when you finalize an adoption after having the child in your home as a foster placement, the relief, the joy, the connections, they don't just happen as you walk out of the courtroom.  There is this wall that you put up...maybe a better explanation would be a wall of layers.  With a foster child, the goal is reunification.  A child can be in your home for 3-4 years with a goal of reunification.  That's a long time.  That's a LOT of layers on your wall. 

I remember after Jacob's adoption was finalized, I thought all those walls had been torn down.  After all, we had known for 10 months that we would be adopting him.  His case was easy, nobody contesting anything, no worries.  But not until the Judge signed the papers did that final wall come down.  It was a wall I didn't even know existed.  He was all ours. 

That's what I am starting to feel with Emma.  She is ALL ours.  It's done.  The walls have come down.  I can now let myself love her completely. 

"You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!"  Psalm 139:5-6

Thursday, June 10, 2010


We are very blessed to announce (again) this addition to our family:

 Emma Claire PHILLIPS!!! 

I promise to tell you all the details....tomorrow!  I am beat as we spent the day celebrating at the lake.  It was such a wonderful day.  Thank you will never be enough for all the prayers and support!!!

Psalm 126

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!

We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
What joy!
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
 Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
 They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Just an FYI...

For those of you who have my blog listed on your blog, don't forget to change the address.

Also...because I like to know who my friends are, will you "click" to follow me just down to your right??  THANK YOU!!!

And because we all love pictures...

He found this underwear and thought it was a hat?  He needs more toys.

"Oh no you didn't!!!"

This is the little old black lady that lives at our house!

Cheesin' it up with daddy....whose name she can say by the way...but I'm not bitter.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Blog...go here...

Just in case you've been waiting for me here, I'm not here anymore...I'm there!  :)

On May 28, 2009...

(I realize I should have posted this on May 28, 2010, but I didn't.  So there.)

This is what I underlined in my Bible:

"My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.  When will you comfort me?  I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke, exhausted with the waiting.  But I cling to your principles and obey them.  How long must I wait?"  Psalm 119:82-84

The next day I wrote in my Bible "Esther called, 2009"  I received a phone call that day that would not only keep me on my toes for the summer of 2009, but it would lead our Emma Claire to our home for good.  The fruit of a promise God had given to me so many years before. 

Me and Esther June 2009

In 7 days, Emma Claire will officially be ours forever.  No more DHS.  No more waiting.  No more wondering.  June 10, 2010, will be a very exciting day for our family.  It will forever be a reminder of what a faithful and loving God we serve.  A God who hears our deepest desires...the very same God who placed those desires in us in the first place.  A God who cares so much about the details of our waiting.  A God who envelopes the prayers and praises of the people He has brought into our lives to pray right alongside us in this journey.  What a might God we serve!!!

I want to share something with you.  As you know (or maybe you don't), Emma was in a regular foster care from the beginning of October 2009 until she came to our home on March 18, 2010.  I can recall being in my bathtub so many times, praying for Emma's safety.  Praying that she was being loved and taken care of.  Praying that somehow, that first few days I spent with her would matter. 

We belong to a group called ChildSHARE.  It is a support group/recruitement for foster care.  I have learned SO much from this group.  They are a Christian group and are considered to be held to a higher standard of foster care than a regular foster home.  (This isn't being doesn't mean that if you are not a member, you are not a good home...not at all.  It just means the support they offer allows you to be better and they don't just accept anybody.)  Anyway, a couple of weeks after we got Emma, a friend of mine called and to make a very long, complicated story shorter, Emma was in another ChildSHARE foster home!  You cannot even imagine how that soothed my soul, knowing without a doubt that she had been loved and taken care of.  She had even been in the home of a friend of mine...we just didn't know!  This all came out when my friend was showing her daughter pictures of Emma from my facebook.  Her daughter started saying, "That's OUR's OUR Emma."  Come to find was!!!  She sent me a wonderful gift last of Emma when she was at their home, at about 6 months old.  There are no words.
See, God loves Emma even more than I do.  And while I may never know all the reasons Emma didn't come home from the hospital with us when I thought she should, God still loved Emma.  He prepared this foster home to be available to take her in for the time when she was away from us.  He put MY friends in her path, to love on her and take care of her.  He protected the mother/child relationship that began when Esther called me to take her baby.  He caused things to happen within DHS that can be explained in no words other than "miracle".  God did this.  God promised He would do this.  And He did it.  God's plans cannot be thwarted.  God cannot break a promise.  It's not in His nature.  He can't do it. 
"Thank you, Lord, for being exactly who You say You are...every single time."  AMEN!