Little Steps Toward Revolution

Claiborne’s quick to say make small moves toward revolution, but then writes the stories that don’t feel so small at all.  I cried (no surprise really) joy-tears as I wrapped up chapter 6 – God’s economy.  Claiborne and his crew use the $20,000 they had acquired through winning a court case amplifying the voices of the homeless and from a generous re-gift to the poor to create a Jubilee on Wall Street.  They dropped thousands of dollars from balconies, littered the sidewalk with coins and handed out sidewalk chalk to play in the midst of blowing bubbles.  Their banners read “Stop terrorism.”  “Share.” “Love.”  “There is enough for everyone.” It took them months to plan.  It sounds so beautiful it made me cry.  And then it feels a little bit daunting – how do we move from this life we’re living to one that proclaims to ALL – “You are LOVED.  You are worth so much.  You are IMPORTANT.”

So I guess we start small.  Here are a few little ways we are starting – perhaps it will move to a project that can move hearts like Jubilee… or perhaps small is just exactly how it will work best for our family right now.

Serving Others:  Kids Aid is a program in Grand Junction that fills bags with food to send home with children to help feed them over the weekend.  In our community over 2300 children receive a bag EVERY WEEK.  Earlier this year, my mom friends and I were brainstorming ways we could help.  Sam and I have been involved with Kids Aid for many years, since one of our role model families the Berry’s started it almost 10 years ago.  Sam sits on the board and we used to fill and deliver bags at one of the local schools.  The act of filling bags is very kid friendly and since the time we filled them the Kids Aid project has grown exponentially – so we asked if we could organize a group of moms and young kids to serve by filling bags with food each month.  We’ve had such a beautiful response from families wanting to participate and we plan to move to once/week over the summer. Our kids get so excited to help others and our mama hearts break hearing that number: 2300 children need food EVERY WEEK in our community alone.

Trauma-Informed School Movement:  Following the second teen-suicide our community experienced this year – God took my learning focus from trauma informed parenting to trauma informed schools.  Since late January, my friend Nancy and I have facilitated discussions surrounding the Heather Forbes book, Help for Billy.  The response from the educators in the two high schools we spent time in has been overwhelmingly positive.  And our church community at First Pres jumped on board – helping to feed the teachers in both groups.  Food truly makes people feel loved.  In our final discussion yesterday, we listened as teachers shared what they want to take into the fall….  COMPASSION – what a critical word to add to our schools.  As we begin our planning and hope to get into more schools for the fall… I hold tightly to that word.   Compassionate schools – a trifecta of informed staff:  Trauma informed, Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Support.   We can get there!

Community Building:

Alpha:  One year ago the last thing I would have imagined doing was to be sitting with people who didn’t believe the same way I do and actually TALK to them about faith and God or listen to their perspectives on faith and God.  Sure – put me with some Christians and I’m your chatty girl, your listening heart.  But God has used Alpha to change my heart and open my mind and the door to hear where my dear friends come from.  In Alpha we watch introductory courses on the basics of Christianity and then we talk about it.  Questions, disagreements, other ideas are all welcome at the table.  Love is the main dish served….  and we eat together, talk to together and learn a whole lot about each other.  Our church leaders really encouraged my friend Derek and I to invite friends we already knew for our spring Alpha.  The real meaning of this community building became clear early in our Alpha group.  One of our friends received the heartbreaking news that his little brother died.   Walking through this loss is on-going.  We didn’t know this little brother – but we LOVE our friend.  And for this season we were there, in place and part of the journey because we chose to do something risky- to build community not based on being the same, but on a desire for authenticity and growth in friendship.   Being in this small group together means taking on each other’s sorrows and joys.  The early church was people living life together – trying to make the world a better place.  That’s what Alpha has turned into for me (and Sam too I think :))

Northridge:  Sam and I moved to our neighborhood that sits just north of the downtown area we lived for 10 years.  Northridge is a beautiful neighborhood known for it’s Christmas light spectaculars.  When we moved I though – YES – I want to raise my kids where people will know each other.  And yet – only a handful of neighbors stopped by in our first months of living here.  The more I read Claiborne – the more the desire for neighborhood grows in my heart.  So on May 5 Sam and I set up a table with chips and salsa.  We made tea and fruity water and had a cooler of popsicles set near the chairs on our lawn.  And we invited neighbors.  We had a few families show up we had at least met once before and met one new family in the community.  It was a short and sweet gathering – simple for sure – but it was a start.  We’re going to do another one in June!

God’s Economy:

Our next door neighbor’s foster four boys.  The youngest, a ten year old has a gentle sweet spirit. I don’t know his story, but it can’t be an easy one.  He has hit it off with the girls and when they see each other outside he will join them in bike riding or dirt digging.  Sunday night, my girls wanted so much to play with him, but we were in sort of a family funk.  I decided a pillow fight was more important so we proceeded to pillow fight in the living room.  As I looked outside I saw this 10 year old.   Sort of milling around our yard – hoping to see his buddies.  So I asked the girls if they wanted to invite him to pillow fight – in our front yard.  So that’s what we did (after he asked permission).  The giggles were priceless – the joy overflowing.   We followed the pillow fight with a walk around the neighborhood.  Needless to say – our family funk disappeared and our girls slept so soundly that night.  And our neighbor boy – we invited him into our family for the night… and he made our night richer with his presence.

An empty bedroom:  Well it’s not empty – it has a bed in it.  We have extended an invitation to a young woman in our community to come and chat about her need for a place to stay.  She has a seven month old baby boy.  And in an instant – the legal shift in our country regarding immigrants – turned her into a single-mom.  Her husband, who lived her legally, went to check on his documents that he was updating, but they had not arrived before the new immigration laws went into effect and therefore he was deported to his home country.  So now this woman, one semester short of her college degree and one income short of her bills and one parent short in her child’s precious life is trying to pick up the pieces.  We have SO MUCH.  So we are going to meet her next week.  This idea feels so much bigger than a little revolution – inviting strangers to share our house.  But it’s God’s house –  and they are His children – so we ask for His clear guidance on this one.  Join us in praying about it if you will!!!

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Prayer Change

Last week I wrestled with “am I doing this right?”  This following Jesus business.  I mean – I haven’t spent my weeks advocating in a run-down church to help find housing for the homeless – homeless moms and children specifically.  Moms and children should not be homeless – just saying.  And I definitely haven’t been traveling to one of the most destitute impoverished places in the world to see Jesus smiling from the eyes of lepers and the dying.  I did help a lady in the park walk her dog to the car.  In our two minutes together, she opened up about being lonely and hoping someone would be there, about how men have made life hard and about how grateful she was that I walked with her for two minutes.  Then she gave me a hug.    I also most definitely held and comforted small children and met many needs through the week, but when you know that an upcoming section heading in Irresistible Revolution reads “Finding your Calcutta,” it can be easy to doubt that what you’re doing is the best Christ had in mind.  Am I allowing His kingdom to show up here in my every day?  On Wednesday night, our Alpha class tackled the topic of “How do I resist Evil.”  (Alpha is an introductory course on Christianity designed for people coming from any place in life (no faith – different faith – what is my faith).  We talked a bit about doubt and somewhere in the night God did some work on my perspective.  If I’m going to read these inspiring stories and only use them to doubt myself – what good is that doing?  And I can most definitely answer that I am not Kingdom living when I spend too much time thinking about “NOT ENOUGH…”  I am sure there is always more…. but on Saturday I called in a PRAYER CHANGE!

I prayed that as I read I would be inspired.  I would use these stories to shape each day, my interactions with others, my hope for God’s light in the darkness.  And boy – did that prayer make things more interesting.  My Saturday journal is filled with ideas – I mean a lot of ideas – of how God might move in my life, in my family, in our schools and community.  It was actually quite overwhelming but in a different way.  I don’t know yet where to start.  Do we pursue fostering?  Do I sit down with the principal at R-5 and list out these ideas and wonder where he’ll take them?  Do I….

I signed up for a spiritual gifts course our church is offering and attended the first class last night.  A few weeks back I took the survey and found out that mercy is a spiritual gift…  it did not surprise me that it was my number one – what surprised me is that for my whole life I’ve pushed against the mercy that often pours into my heart (and sometimes at really awkward moments).  I’ve pushed those feelings down, stepped on them and hidden them from the world in MANY MANY situations – so the revelation that this heart pull is from God is life changing for me.  But I don’t really know what to do with it yet.  So I signed up for the class.  It was so inspiring in so many ways -but I think my two biggest take aways are:  1)  Maybe filling my head with “all of these ideas” are exactly what God wants to be doing with me… and maybe I don’t have to be the one to make them happen….  and now where do I take that??  and 2)  I sat in a “random” group with a retired teacher/administrator who now serves as a CASA (court appointed advocate for children who have been abused and are in the court system), an administrative assistant who is an advocate for healing in the addiction world (who also participated in Alpha this fall with us), a chiropractor who tried whole-heartedly to support our high school in the midst of the suicide epidemic this year and who felt disheartened by the response he DID NOT receive to his outreach (his children attend GJHS), an employee at Ariel (a foster care and child advocacy agency in our community), and a gal who runs immigration panels at our library as a way to create dialogue and empathy regarding our stories and what it feels like to be a “foreigner in a distant land.”

EVERY SINGLE story in that circle connects to at least one of the ideas placed on my heart.  Fostering and SAFE families, Alpha for moms who are either in process of trying to regain custody of their children or have regained custody but now need long term support,supporting undocumented immigrants who are losing their children to the system because undocumented parents get deported while their children who are citizens do not, continued work at GJHS regarding trauma and healing, supporting our friend whose brother lost his fight with addiction.  For homework for this class we are to read 1 Corinthians 12.  Verse 18 stood out this morning:  “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as he pleased.”  I don’t believe in random…. I still am not sure where my Calcutta is exactly – but I’m feeling so very inspired and I’m so excited to see what happens next!

 

No more field trips

In our discussion last week Amy and I basically came away with the same question:  How can we make our lives look like the gospel?  She is raising three small children and I have my two precious girls.  How do we take this call to action, the importance of parenting and modeling social justice and make it clear that we are NOT on “Jesus Field Trips” but that THIS – this call to live the way Jesus lived, to love and care for those he called us to care for (the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the hurting) the creating Kingdom here is HOW WE DO LIFE.

Shane Claiborn is inspirational in his writing – sharing his story of how a bunch of college kids teamed up with homeless mamas and their children to create real change.  He expresses his “dream of an ancient vision of a church like the one in Acts in which ‘there were no needy persons among them’ because everyone shared their possessions, not claiming anything as their own but ‘sharing everything they had.”

I can’t help but think about how I maybe felt that same pull, that same vision as a college kid.  And maybe how much easier it would have been then to jump on board – because I didn’t really own anything anyway.  But as a 36 year old with a whole lot more “stuff” acquired, and now two children in the mix – my heart is torn.  Can I really live this out?  And what does living Heaven on Earth look like when I’m used to field trips?

Little steps toward revolution

Claiborne’s quick to say make small moves toward revolution, but then writes the stories that don’t feel so small at all.  I cried (no surprise really) joy-tears as I wrapped up chapter 6 – God’s economy.  Claiborne and his crew use the $20,000 they had acquired through winning a court case amplifying the voices of the homeless and from a generous re-gift to the poor to create a Jubilee on Wall Street.  They dropped thousands of dollars from balconies, littered the sidewalk with coins and handed out sidewalk chalk to play in the midst of blowing bubbles.  Their banners read “Stop terrorism.”  “Share.” “Love.”  “There is enough for everyone.” It took them months to plan.  It sounds so beautiful it made me cry.  And then it feels a little bit daunting – how do we move from this life we’re living to one that proclaims to ALL – “You are LOVED.  You are worth so much.  You are IMPORTANT.”

So I guess we start small.  Here are a few little ways we are starting – perhaps it will move to a project that can move hearts like Jubilee… or perhaps small is just exactly how it will work best for our family right now.

Serving Others:  Kids Aid is a program in Grand Junction that fills bags with food to send home with children to help feed them over the weekend.  In our community over 2300 children receive a bag EVERY WEEK.  Earlier this year, my mom friends and I were brainstorming ways we could help.  Sam and I have been involved with Kids Aid for many years, since one of our role model families the Berry’s started it almost 10 years ago.  Sam sits on the board and we used to fill and deliver bags at one of the local schools.  The act of filling bags is very kid friendly and since the time we filled them the Kids Aid project has grown exponentially – so we asked if we could organize a group of moms and young kids to serve by filling bags with food each month.  We’ve had such a beautiful response from families wanting to participate and we plan to move to once/week over the summer. Our kids get so excited to help others and our mama hearts break hearing that number: 2300 children need food EVERY WEEK in our community alone.

Trauma-Informed School Movement:  Following the second teen-suicide our community experienced this year – God took my learning focus from trauma informed parenting to trauma informed schools.  Since late January, my friend Nancy and I have facilitated discussions surrounding the Heather Forbes book, Help for Billy.  The response from the educators in the two high schools we spent time in has been overwhelmingly positive.  And our church community at First Pres jumped on board – helping to feed the teachers in both groups.  Food truly makes people feel loved.  In our final discussion yesterday, we listened as teachers shared what they want to take into the fall….  COMPASSION – what a critical word to add to our schools.  As we begin our planning and hope to get into more schools for the fall… I hold tightly to that word.   Compassionate schools – a trifecta of informed staff:  Trauma informed, Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Support.   We can get there!

Community Building:

Alpha:  One year ago the last thing I would have imagined doing was to be sitting with people who didn’t believe the same way I do and actually TALK to them about faith and God or listen to their perspectives on faith and God.  Sure – put me with some Christians and I’m your chatty girl, your listening heart.  But God has used Alpha to change my heart and open my mind and the door to hear where my dear friends come from.  In Alpha we watch introductory courses on the basics of Christianity and then we talk about it.  Questions, disagreements, other ideas are all welcome at the table.  Love is the main dish served….  and we eat together, talk to together and learn a whole lot about each other.  Our church leaders really encouraged my friend Derek and I to invite friends we already knew for our spring Alpha.  The real meaning of this community building became clear early in our Alpha group.  One of our friends received the heartbreaking news that his little brother died.   Walking through this loss is on-going.  We didn’t know this little brother – but we LOVE our friend.  And for this season we were there, in place and part of the journey because we chose to do something risky- to build community not based on being the same, but on a desire for authenticity and growth in friendship.   Being in this small group together means taking on each other’s sorrows and joys.  The early church was people living life together – trying to make the world a better place.  That’s what Alpha has turned into for me (and Sam too I think :))

Northridge:  Sam and I moved to our neighborhood that sits just north of the downtown area we lived for 10 years.  Northridge is a beautiful neighborhood known for it’s Christmas light spectaculars.  When we moved I though – YES – I want to raise my kids where people will know each other.  And yet – only a handful of neighbors stopped by in our first months of living here.  The more I read Claiborne – the more the desire for neighborhood grows in my heart.  So on May 5 Sam and I set up a table with chips and salsa.  We made tea and fruity water and had a cooler of popsicles set near the chairs on our lawn.  And we invited neighbors.  We had a few families show up we had at least met once before and met one new family in the community.  It was a short and sweet gathering – simple for sure – but it was a start.  We’re going to do another one in June!

God’s Economy:

Our next door neighbor’s foster four boys.  The youngest, a ten year old has a gentle sweet spirit. I don’t know his story, but it can’t be an easy one.  He has hit it off with the girls and when they see each other outside he will join them in bike riding or dirt digging.  Sunday night, my girls wanted so much to play with him, but we were in sort of a family funk.  I decided a pillow fight was more important so we proceeded to pillow fight in the living room.  As I looked outside I saw this 10 year old.   Sort of milling around our yard – hoping to see his buddies.  So I asked the girls if they wanted to invite him to pillow fight – in our front yard.  So that’s what we did (after he asked permission).  The giggles were priceless – the joy overflowing.   We followed the pillow fight with a walk around the neighborhood.  Needless to say – our family funk disappeared and our girls slept so soundly that night.  And our neighbor boy – we invited him into our family for the night… and he made our night richer with his presence.

An empty bedroom:  Well it’s not empty – it has a bed in it.  We have extended an invitation to a young woman in our community to come and chat about her need for a place to stay.  She has a seven month old baby boy.  And in an instant – the legal shift in our country regarding immigrants – turned her into a single-mom.  Her husband, who lived her legally, went to check on his documents that he was updating, but they had not arrived before the new immigration laws went into effect and therefore he was deported to his home country.  So now this woman, one semester short of her college degree and one income short of her bills and one parent short in her child’s precious life is trying to pick up the pieces.  We have SO MUCH.  So we are going to meet her next week.  This idea feels so much bigger than a little revolution – inviting strangers to share our house.  But it’s God’s house –  and they are His children – so we ask for His clear guidance on this one.  Join us in praying about it if you will!!!

Celebrating 8 Great Years

Each year on our anniversary, I pull out our family calendar, spend time reminiscing about the year we spent together, and write out many of our memories on the matte of a framed picture from the year for Sam and I to hang in our room.   The interesting part of this year, was the amount that I had to write.  The days from this year have pretty much blurred together.  As I sat looking at each month, each day, each memory – I really couldn’t believe that our lives have changed so much in one short year.

June 23, 2013 – Sam and I spent Nella’s napping hours filling out an application for adoption.  An application that later that night we decided to put aside for awhile so we could find a house that would enable us to be a one income family.  July 23, we met with our pastor Tom – he prayed such an amazing prayer for our family – I wish I would have recorded it.  Good thing God did!  Aug 9, we closed on our new home – a real fixer upper not too far from our old home.  For the next month we spent weekends, week nights and spare time working on projects to make it more livable.   We moved in Aug. 24, the weekend after school started and Sam began working each week in Rangely.  Nella and I flew to Florida mid Sept. to spend time with my college girls – one of whom announced her pregnancy with her third baby. We mentioned how if we did a trip the following year she’d have to bring the little one – I said something like… “if we were able to adopt….”  Just one month later we received the call that a young woman had heard about our family and was considering contacting us about the potential to adopt her sweet baby. Nov. 11, K asked us to be her daughters family.  Dec. 11 Mia was born.  Within two weeks we celebrated Christmas and New Years.

And now it really gets blurry.  We replaced tile, we fixed a roof, I got out of the way and went to my parents farm, we visited friends in other towns with new babies, we celebrated births of little sisters and little brothers, we celebrated a long prayed for pregnancy and a fun surprise pregnancy for Sam’s brothers’ wives, we traveled for our adoption training, we took two kids swimming, parking, walking, hiking, I got stuck in the mud, I’ve been working hard to become the person I want to be in my counseling sessions, I quit teaching, I became a full time at home mom, I grabbed an opportunity to be a rep for Wildtree so I can feed my family yummy food and earn a little extra income, we’ve enjoyed gatherings with friends, with family.  We’ve “potty trained” a two year old and swimming lessoned them both.  We have extended our family – and worked to start a new normal – adding Mia’s birth family into our most important people.  We’ve set up play dates and most recently attempted camping with two small children.
We’ve felt so loved and worked to share that love with others.   What a beautiful blurry year.  I couldn’t imagine walking this road with anyone other than Sam.  You are my best friend and even though we haven’t slept in a few months…. I still want to date you.  I’ll keep trying to be the girl you want to date too… blurred memories and all.

P.S. After writing this I noticed that I wrote our memories vertically, but the picture for this year sits horizontal…. pretty much perfection!

More pics to come tomorrow… but for now… Happy 8th Anniversary My Love

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Dream Job

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When I graduated from college in 2003 there is no way I would have predicted the path I am currently traveling.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you even five years ago at the start of our journey to parenthood that  my hearts desire, my life calling wouldn’t be found in a public school classroom.  I always thought “I could do it all” and I probably could, but I know that I can’t do any of what I want to do well – to meet my own expectations –  when I am trying to “do it ALL.”

So for the last two and a half years Sam and I have been trying to figure out HOW to get me home – FULL TIME – with our children.  I am so thankful Sam is not only on board, but pushing this decision!  We have discovered I sort of have a loyalty issue.  It’s been really hard for me (even though it’s the decision I most want) to actually tell my boss I am not returning to my teaching job.

However, that is what I did about a week ago!  Scheduled to return from maternity leave on March 10 – Sam and I can’t imagine how our lives would look, feel and be if we readd the stress of teaching into the mix of our days.  I can’t imagine missing out on any more mornings with my precious two year old.  I don’t want to skip a beat with the sweet darling Mia who smiles so big when she sees my face.  And so, I am going to change professions.  I will still be a teacher – but I will be teaching very different subject matter to the most precious students I will ever be gifted to teach.

I couldn’t have told you in 2003 that my dream job would include days that blurr together, mornings that start at 4am, cleaning and recleaning and recleaning of a kitchen, laundry baskets that are NEVER empty, diapers and spit up, tantrums and toys that are never in “place.”  But I didn’t know.  I didn’t know how the squeeze from two little arms around my neck could make my heart swell, how calming the storm of a tantrum could move my whole being, how the smile of a two-month old at 3am could soften the frustration from no sleep, how playing in the mud could create a heart song I’d never heard, and how much I couldn’t imagine my life in any other way.  I am so grateful for the gift of motherhood.  It’s hard to be on 24/7.  It’s crazy and sometimes overwhelming to know the role I play in my sweet girls’ lives is the most important female role in their lives.  It’s a gift I cherish, and I want to be fully focused on this job – my unexpected dream job.  I am so grateful to all of the people who have helped me get here – and to the sacrifice my amazing husband is willing to make to give me this opportunity.  And most of all I am thankful for God’s amazing provision – in many different ways – through many different people and opportunities that will allow me this time with my children.

Now, I need to go clean the kitchen!

One month pics - Nella may or may not have tried to lay the picture she drew on her sisters face - good thing we were close by!

One month pics – Nella may or may not have tried to lay the picture she drew on her sisters face – good thing we were close by!

Nella's new wagon - a ride from GG and a whole lot of fun!  She loves to pull the wagon too!

Nella’s new wagon – a ride from GG and a whole lot of fun! She loves to pull the wagon too!

Tummy time for Mia and Nella

Tummy time for Mia and Nella

Precious hiker - this kid can run a mile on single track trail - what a champ!

Precious hiker – this kid can run a mile on single track trail – what a champ!

One of my friends told me she remembers when her goal became "wearing her eldest daughter out" - we are there!  Daily hikes, walks, runs are a MUST in this house!

One of my friends told me she remembers when her goal became “wearing her eldest daughter out” – we are there! Daily hikes, walks, runs are a MUST in this house!

Our new steps - wow thank you! - and Nella enjoying a library book in the January sun

Our new steps – wow thank you! – and Nella enjoying a library book in the January sun

Pop pop and cousin Lyam - before the devastating loss...

Pop pop and cousin Lyam – before the devastating Super Bowl loss..

Still fans... love those Broncos

Still fans… love those Broncos

Sister time

Sister time

Raising multiple children in CO looks like this sometimes - Mia with her buddy Laura Kate!  Mia preferred mommy's pack but at least I snapped a pic!

Raising multiple children in CO looks like this sometimes – Mia with her buddy Laura Kate! Mia preferred mommy’s pack but at least I snapped a pic!

Heart melter

Heart melter

Cheering for daddy at his hockey game - Nella is adamant that she "play soccer game or play hockey game" like her mom and dad!

Cheering for daddy at his hockey game – Nella is adamant that she “play soccer game or play hockey game” like her mom and dad!

2 months!  No face smothers this time around but a very cute "cheese" face instead

2 months! No face smothers this time around but a very cute “cheese” face instead

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

The "me time" shot from the infamous mud run - Nella still asks for her daddy's original song... "Mommy got stuck in the mud."

The “me time” shot from the infamous mud run – Nella still asks for her daddy’s original song… “Mommy got stuck in the mud.”

We play A LOT of "baby Nella" right now - here Grandmother is feeding baby Nella

We play A LOT of “baby Nella” right now – here Grandmother is feeding baby Nella

My full heart and full couch - LOVE this family

My full heart and full couch – LOVE this family

Play time!  A little insight into what having a buddy might look like!  Nella set books up all around Mia while Mia did tummy time

Play time! A little insight into what having a buddy might look like! Nella set books up all around Mia while Mia did tummy time

LOVE

LOVE

Mia Renee Lee: A Love Story Part 2

In 2011 Sam and I shared with you all the great love story God designed for our sweet Nella.  As 2013 closes and we welcome the new year, we also welcome a beautiful change in our family structure.  Three weeks ago, Sam and I sat in the waiting room of St. Mary’s hospital.  The waiting room was filled with family, but the thing is, most of the the family we waited with we had just met or were meeting for the first time.  And now, those same family members will be forever tied to Team Tilford.  Our lives forever grafted by one sweet child:  Mia Renee Lee Tilford

Hello world, I'm here.

Hello world, I’m here.

Wednesday, Dec. 11, Sam and I arrived at the hospital around 6am.  We met K and her stepmom at the hospital entrance, and walked to registration where K’s mom, brothers and good family friends waited in anticipation of a new life.  K invited us to spend the pre-surgery time with her, and early in the morning we watched one beautiful somersault from a baby unborn.  My good friend Kristel was the nurse on duty – loving K each step of the way.  We filled out Mia’s birth certificate together and spent the last hour before Mia’s birth loving on her birth mom.  At about 7:30 it was time for us to head to the waiting room, and time for K to meet sweet Mia.

At 10:30, K invited us to meet our daughter.  We entered the room cautiously, uncertain still of what our roles would be.  K’s confidence in her decision, her gift of love to Mia was evident, as she gently placed the newly born infant into my arms.  Little Mia opened her eyes for just a moment, my heart melted.   Sam took a turn then, loving his new daughter, thankful for the gift of inclusion at such an important time in this child’s life.  We then watched as her birth family members each took turns meeting sweet Mia, loving her, gazing at her sweet face.  It’s an amazing feeling to watch so many people who hours before we barely knew, walk into a room and love our daughter so deeply.

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Mommy and Mia.

Mommy and Mia.

Daddy cuddles

Daddy cuddles

Later in the day, Nella arrived at the hospital to meet her new little sister.  Sam had sent a picture to Dionne’s not long after we met Mia, and we heard that all Nella wanted to do was look at the picture.  Nella arrived excited, anticipating the new buddy she would get to love.  Like any two year old, the initial moments were beautiful and then quickly faded to find interest in other things – like long hallways open for the running.

GG saying hello

GG saying hello

Sister kisses

Sister kisses

Sam and I knew that K’s decision to place or to parent would have to be remade once she met the sweet child she’d been carrying for the last nine months.  For four days, Sam, K and I spent time building a relationship with one another and loving Mia in the hospital.   Each day brought with it new emotions.  I have never experienced anything so beautiful and so difficult at the same time.  I have found it hard to put into words exactly how the hospital stay felt – maybe because it was constantly changing and bringing new emotions to the table.  I can say that I could FEEL people praying, and even at the most emotional times God’s peace prevailed.

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Some of the unexpecteds:  I had no idea how much I would LOVE K.  Open adoption is powerful, but it’s not easy.   We want K and all of Mia’s birth family members to know that they matter SO much to us, and the hospital stay was our first opportunity to give Mia this gift of open hearted love.  I didn’t know how hard it would be to love a new baby and wait with uncertainty to see how God would use us in her life.   I didn’t know what it really meant to TRUST God with Mia’s life and our lives.  Between Wednesday and Saturday, we saw and felt God working.  Wednesday evening God revealed a beautiful connection between our daughter’s birth father’s family and our family – one none of us were expecting, but one that carries beautiful possibility for relationship building.  I didn’t know we would have fun: Thursday, we shared love for the Broncos with K and her family – Sam finding a link that would show us the game from the hospital room, Katy and James dropping off queso dip!  I didn’t know how much my heart would grow: Friday, K and I spent the majority of the day hanging out – a sister friendship developing.  A favorite moment was two moms bathing a sweet daughter – hand over hand – tiny body shivering, yet enveloped in mama love.  Saturday, we were rebels in the hallway – walking with Mia to heat up K’s heating pad – laughing about how “bad” we were.  And I didn’t know how joy and heart ache could coexist in the same moment so profoundly when we arrived at the really hard part.  We packed our bags and we all went home from the hospital.  After four days of together, our new lives were to begin.

Finally awake

Finally awake

As we prepared to take Mia to our car, K asked if she could carry her out.  I know we rocked some worlds with how we approached this journey – a team hanging out for four days, each person placing a tiny baby first, each person making selfless choices, each person living in a way that’s really hard for the world to understand.  People told us we were “amazing.”  To be really honest – we are not any more amazing than any other parent who chooses to do what is best for their children.

We are normal people who have chosen to listen to God’s call to “be open to being open!”  We most definitely had NO idea what that meant when we said yes to God’s call just a night before the “call.”  Thursday night, the second night in the hospital, I was spent – so ready to go home.  Friday morning I spent time with God.  He used Paul’s words in Ephesians to rejuvenate my spirit:  “God does immeasurably more than we can know or ask.”  And we are certain we saw just the tip of what was happening: From the nurse who had recently been exploring adoption asking tough questions but then taking the best care of us all, to the pastors who were so much more tied in than they could have imagined, to a God-only connection between us and a hurting birth family, to the author of The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption having a nephew in my English class, to our final background check arriving at Hope’s Promise exactly 12 hours before Mia was born, to the financial responsibilities for adoption being covered so quickly, to the MANY relationship connections discovered in one month, to a pediatrician telling us that the hospital staff just couldn’t wrap their minds around how what was happening could look the way it did, and to the many people we know were watching God made His presence known.  We are not amazing, but GOD most definitely is.  We are just grateful that we get to be a part of this beautiful LOVE story.

Pictures: (We will wait to get permission from K and the other respective family members before we post pictures of them)

Going home outfit, a Christmas gift from K, only made it for a couple of hours in the hospital but at least we took pictures!

Going home outfit, a Christmas gift from K, only made it for a couple of hours in the hospital but at least we took pictures!

Getting ready to get in the car seat

Getting ready to get in the car seat

snuggled in

snuggled in

walking down the hall way

walking down the hall way

Our greatest Christmas gift

Our greatest Christmas gift

meeting Great Grandmother MH and Aunt Mary A

meeting Great Grandmother MH and Aunt Mary A

Gentle "two fingers" - Nella is good at instructing us to touch Mia gently now!

Gentle “two fingers” – Nella is good at instructing us to touch Mia gently now!

Beauty

Beauty

First bath at home... sister is getting things ready

First bath at home… sister is getting things ready

Still not a fan of baths

Still not a fan of baths

1st outing:  a date with K and making Christmas decorations

1st outing: a date with K and making Christmas decorations

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Mommy and her girls

Mommy and her girls

Sisters in stripes

Sisters in stripes

Getting out is twice the work, but a MUST.  Nella helps do pretty much everything whether she is ready to or not... here is a dog walk!  She (and the dogs) did great!

Getting out is twice the work, but a MUST. Nella helps do pretty much everything whether she is ready to or not… here is a dog walk! She (and the dogs) did great!

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Our first Christmas as a family of 4

Our first Christmas as a family of 4

A Happy New Year hike!  May 2014 be filled with blessings for all and the ability to find beauty in the unexpected.

A Happy New Year hike! May 2014 be filled with blessings for all and the ability to find beauty in the unexpected.