Back to Maine

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inked by Julia

This summer has been a summer of weddings for just about everyone I know. I attended four in the month of July and two of those were in Maine. Luckily, they were back-to-back weekends, which allowed me to spend some time in Portland with Michael’s lovely family. I tried my first Maine lobster, we climbed the observatory at sunset, visited the Portland Headlight, checked out L.L. Bean, and had so much fun in between. My parents attended one of the weddings, and when they came in for the weekend, Michael’s parents, brother, and I packed our day full of touristy fun. We had a blast showing them around town, and our favorite adventure was our lobster cruise. We learned how to bait, pull, and toss traps, while learning about other sea creatures. We even saw baby seals swimming in the bay. If you’re looking for a new area of the U.S. to explore, you should really consider checking out Maine. So much beauty, and so many fun things to do. Until next time, Maine!

Celebrating Easter

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inked by Lindsay

Having a little one made this Easter especially memorable. Ellie is just now realizing how fun toys can be, and I had a blast filling her Easter basket with little toys, pacifiers, and bunny ears. The whole family celebrated Christ’s resurrection together at church, and then we had a fabulous Whole 30-approved lunch (yep, we’re doing it again. You can read about our first experience here) at my parent’s house. Ellie hit the Easter basket jackpot at Gigi’s, where she modeled some new shades for our upcoming trip to the beach. ;)

Easter makes me more grateful than Thanksgiving. It’s a fresh reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, and adopting our daughter gave me a whole new perspective on our adoption into Christ’s family. Adoption isn’t an easy process– it takes a toll emotionally, physically, financially. It wasn’t an easy process for our Father, either. But the beauty born from adoption makes the process worth it, and I’m eternally grateful for the sacrifice that allowed me to be adopted into God’s family.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

 

Ten Thousand Reasons

bless the lordinked by Holly

As some of you may know, my sassy, bossy, active, sweet little mommy suddenly passed away last month.  Thank you so very much for texts, cards, flowers, meals and most of all, prayers. She is missed but I’m so thankful we will see her again!

Both of my parents have gone on to heaven.  And I must say, it’s a strange, lonely feeling. But I am not without a Father and He has shown up in so many ways in the past month.  I’d like to share just one.

My husband, my brother and I were riding together to the funeral home to make Mom’s arrangements.  We were talking, making plans, remembering.  The actual funeral service was on my mind, trying to think of mom’s favorites, verses or songs that were important to her.  I hadn’t even noticed the radio in the background but I realized the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman was playing. I opened my notes app and quickly wrote some of the lyrics just so I could remember that song and look it up again later to enjoy.

On Sunday, we had debated going to church.  The funeral wasn’t until Monday and I just wasn’t sure I was up to facing people yet.  But when I woke up that morning, I felt the need to be at church.  We arrived a little late and a few sweet friends left their seats to hug us when we walked in the service.  As soon as I took my seat, the worship band began the next song, “10,000 Reasons.”

Tears started flowing and I thanked my Heavenly Father for that special gift to me.  I leaned over and quickly shared, through tears, to Alissa, why that song was so special to me that day. Even after the song ended, I just couldn’t stop thinking of the way God had showed up and given me a special little gift.  The worship leader had no idea when he chose songs for the week, that God would use his decision to encourage me.

End of story.  Or so I thought.

The following Sunday, I didn’t go to church because I was home with a recuperating daughter.  The week after that, we went to church at Far Hills, where the other daughters attend and my son-in-law is a pastor on staff.  A few songs into the worship set, and the worship director led us in singing “10,000 Reasons.” This week, I’m feeling a little more stable and just smile through the entire song!  I’m sure a tear or two fell.  I look over, Steve and the girls knowingly smile at me.  It a beautiful reminder, yet again.

This past week, we went to Cleveland for a lovely bridal shower for Emily. On Sunday, we attended Parkside Church where my soon to be son-in-law, Danny, is on staff.  The music starts. “10,000 Reasons.”  The third church service since mom passed away.  The third worship leader to choose “10,000 Reasons. “ Tears are flowing.

It’s pretty obvious that I’m supposed to be listening, paying attention and heeding the words to this song.

The last verse strikes me every time.  My mom’s days here on earth have ended. I’m sad.  I cry.  But what God has asked me to do is very obvious.  He’s made it clear every time I go to church these days!  I’m to bless the Lord, oh my soul.  In the good, in the bad, in the painful.  It’s not always easy.  But it’s always right.  And it always takes the focus off this life and reminds me of what’s to come.  It’s a gift that changes everything.

So with hands outstretched, and some tears too, I’ll do my very best to bless the Lord and remember that I still have a Heavenly Father with me, and my earthly parents are with Him.

I’m Feelin 22

1383999_10152366145430550_1562158978_n 1390530_10153497954235425_208546760_n IMG_0166IMG_0373IMG_0387Happiest 22nd birthday, Emmy Kate! You make life so much sweeter. When I think of you, I think of a beautiful smile that lights up a room and the happiest, most bubbly personality. I also think of ice cream and all things Kate Spade, which speaks volumes. :) I can’t imagine life without any of my sisters. I remember Mom telling us to be nice to each other when we were young because someday we’d be more than sisters- we’d be best friends. That couldn’t be more true! Emmy, you are such an amazing sister and friend. It’s been a joy to watch you grow into the strong and loving woman you are. Snuggle those babies in the NICU today and be ready to party tonight!

My Daughter is a Mother

Ellieinked by Holly

My daughter became a mother four weeks ago.  I still wake up some mornings and slowly remember that I’m a grandmother!  Well, actually, I’m a Gigi.  Most people have nine months to prepare, have baby showers, and set up a nursery.  But not everyone–some do it a little differently. I like to think some do it even more wonderfully!

You see, for our family, it was more like a two month long pregnancy test.  We were hopeful but we weren’t positive it would be happening until they put that teeny tiny beautiful bundle of blessing into their car and brought her home.  And at that point, there was squealing and crying… not from the teeny tiny bundle but from the Gigi, Pops and all the excited aunties!  When we got the call that Chris and Lindsay were on their way home from the hospital, the first order of business included a trip to Target.  Formula, diapers and wipes needed to be purchased ASAP!  Oh and a bassinette! Gigi might have thrown in a few more baby items for good measure.  Auntie Alissa rushed to Carters for some teeny tiny sleepers for our teeny tiny blessing (have I mentioned she was teeny tiny?!).

We went to their house and anxiously awaited their arrival so we could meet our teeny tiny blessing for the first time!  Oh, she was amazing!.Perfection, really.  As they took her out of that seemingly giant car seat, there were more tears and hugs!

Next, I watched my daughter become a mother.  And just as my mother and mother-in-law taught me, I had the wonderful privilege of teaching my daughter.  I found myself saying things like “Always put her in tshirt.”  Why? Because my mother insisted a tshirt be on my babies.  It doesn’t matter if it’s winter or summer, make sure you put her in a tshirt.  And I said things like “My mother helped give all my babies their first bath, would you like me to help bathe her?”  And then I showed my son how to burp her.  And again, it was how my mother taught me to burp my babies.   I’ve also recalled all the ways Steve’s mother helped and the things I learned from her.  I vividly recall her standing in our apartment, showing my how to pat and sway and soothe our very fussy firstborn.  She had a magic touch with the fussy ones. Steve’s mother always told me that she didn’t allow her children to scream because screaming is for emergencies.  And so I taught my children that we do not scream unless blood is flowing or stranger danger or some other sort of impending doom.

There was plenty of advice given by the mothers.  Sometimes I chose to smile, say thank you and then ignore.  I’m sure the cycle will continue as I give advice and she smiles, thanks me and then chooses to do it a better way.  And that’s ok because my daughter has become a very good mother.1497700_10153740456020425_2099941909_n 1557510_10153740456180425_1720454061_n 1531913_10153740456430425_1402601763_nPhotos courtesy of Sara Corona

An Adoption Story

inked by Lindsay

It’d be a little narcissistic to think that anyone missed our blogging, so I’m not going to apologize for the hiatus, but I will explain why we haven’t posted in a few months. It’s a good reason, I promise. :)

Two months ago, Chris and I were contacted out of the blue about an opportunity to adopt a baby girl. We were initially shocked, but we knew this was orchestrated by God and we wanted to at least explore the opportunity. Long story short, we worked with an agency to start and finish our home study in a little over two weeks, and then we waited for the birth. When we got the call, we went to the hospital and met our precious baby and waited a little more. We brought her home on a Thursday afternoon and became her parents on the following Friday afternoon. We are completely and totally in love with her!

We laugh when we think about how little we knew and understood about adoption two months ago as compared to our understanding today. We had NO idea what we were getting into and the emotional rollercoaster that the following months would bring. I won’t go into many details about our sweet girl’s birth or time at the hospital, but I will say that it was the most exhilarating and life-changing week of my life. We never could have fully prepared for it, and we are still recovering from it.

Even though I didn’t give birth to our sweet baby, I feel like I gave birth, just without the physical ramifications. Our social worker said this is normal, and referred to it as an “emotional labor.” I really can’t describe it any better than that. The tirade of emotions we felt at the hospital and bringing our baby home have subsided, and now we’re processing the joy (and sleeplessness) of being new parents.

And let me tell you, this is what we were made for. As I rock our bright-eyed newborn in the wee hours of the morning, I am so overwhelmed with love and contentment. She is the absolute love of our lives.

I’ll back up a little further and tell you about how the adoption came about. Chris and I have dealt with infertility for the last year and a half. We started fertility treatments last summer, and after a failed attempt we were emotionally drained and frustrated. Our official diagnosis is unexplained infertility. I was downright angry. Angry at God, angry at my body, angry at every pregnant woman I saw, angry at the world. I felt overlooked and completely abandoned by God.

But oh my goodness, friends, our God is good. Only He could take the ugliness and deep pain of infertility and transform it into the most beautiful, redemptive story. Only He could took my angry, bitter heart and fill it with love, contentment, and joy.

In September, you might recall that we took a family trip to the beach. On our last day there, Chris and I took a long walk and talked about our hopes and dreams for family and if they’d ever be realized. We cried together about our frustration towards the failed fertility treatments and decided to start praying about adopting. We had always been interested in adopting since we first starting dating, but never imagined pursuing adoption so soon in our marriage.

Chris didn’t know this at the time, but as we prayed for guidance in whether or not to pursue adoption, I prayed specifically that God would open a completely unexpected door to adopt. After trying to get pregnant, I wasn’t sure that I had the emotional stamina to wait years to adopt, and I was praying for a miracle.

And God provided. Just one month later we received the call about our sweet girl. Two months later we had her in our arms. Simply miraculous– I’ve never witnessed such a blatant answer to prayer.

Last year was the hardest of my life. Each month was another reminder of our failed attempts to conceive. Another reminder of a God who overlooked me.

But God had other plans. He blessed us with the most perfect gift, and through the adoption of our precious daughter, my faith has been completely transformed. Our adoption journey has taught me so much about my adoption in Christ. God views me as an heir to His kingdom– He loves me as much as His son. I never comprehended this– in fact, I doubted His love for me. Our daughter has opened my eyes to God’s love for me and best of all, His love for our daughter. We have been redeemed.

Although the holidays have come and gone, I know the celebrations and weeks to follow are a painful time for so many, and friends, I completely relate to those who dread the family gatherings and can only dread another year of loss. I pray that you will experience God’s redemption and His unending love for His children. Even in our frustration, pain, and unfulfilled expectations, His love and His promises are true. Praise God– He is the Father to the fatherless!

Please join us in welcoming our new bundle of joy to the family– our best gift ever. :)IMG_1454

An Engagement Story

em and daninked by Lindsay

If you follow any of us on social media, you saw that we have some very exciting news…

Emily and Danny are engaged!!!

Unbeknownst to Emmy, the family has been in on the proposal plan for weeks. In fact, Danny even invited Chris and me to help pick out the ring at our favorite jewelry store in Columbus over a month ago.

Danny was able to pull off a complete surprise despite Emily being suspicious of a proposal. :)  He drove to Cedarville from Cleveland on Friday morning and surprised Emily while she was having coffee with an accomplice friend. He then popped the question before a picnic in the park. Julia happened to be hiding in the bushes to catch a few photos. :) photo(9)Emmy and Danny spent the rest of the weekend in engaged bliss! We celebrated with her friends from school on Friday evening and then had a little engagement party with Danny’s mom, sisters, and friends on Saturday night. My mom even ordered a mini wedding cake thanks to a hacked photo from Emily’s Pinterest board. :)friends friends 2    cake   cake cutting  boys     the ring   venueschillero

We are so thrilled for these two. Their love for each other is evident in all of their interactions. They are two of the sweetest, most fun-loving people I’ve ever met, and when they walk into a room they bring joy and laughter with them.

Just so you all know, I’ll be wearing a matchmaker tiara at the wedding. It will be bedazzled and might even light up.

Speaking of which, wedding planning is in full swing! The couple has a tentative wedding date set for July 2014. Say a prayer for Dad and his checkbook.

Congratulations, Emmy and Danny!