Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mom of Three {an adoption post for #ThreeWordWednesday}

I used to think I wanted my kids close in age, but I realized a long time ago I’m in control of the timing and growth of our family. In fact, I had to lay down my desire to adopt a third time because I wasn’t sure it was going to happen and I struggled to separate what I wanted from what God was calling us to do.

{I talk about learning about waiting on God and laying down that desire in my ebook, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family,” which is available on Amazon and needs to be updated now that God grew our family again. But through Friday, Oct. 2, "Peace in the Process" is on sale for 99 cents, if you want the full back story of how we got here and what God taught me along the way. And feel free to tweet about the deal.}

But guess what? God’s timing has been perfect ... of course!

I have an 8-year-old girl who is in third grade and a kindergartner boy who turns 6 in less than two months. And, let me tell you, they adore their baby sister. They literally have argued over who is going to hold her or sit next to her in the van. (We currently have a week-to-week rotation of who is in the middle of the minivan next to Rachel and who has to settle for the back seat.)

Cate is a feeding champion – and I’m working on convincing her that she would excel at changing diapers too. Ben likes to be near her and has found his way downstairs into her room a few times in the middle of the night when he hears her crying for her next bottle. This boy was meant to be a middle child. With the initials BLT, he’s perfectly sandwiched between two girls.

For this momma of three, having two in school and a baby at home is a whole different world than last time I had a baby – and a toddler who was 2 1/2. Sure, Rachel and I have had some slow days at home settling in together, but our lives have continued with Greg working and the big kids playing soccer. Beyond logistics, God has me prepared to be a mom again. My perspective is different and I’m more confident. I bring more than eight years of motherhood experiences with me. I know more about what matters and what doesn’t.

Before Rachel was born, I was ready – not ready like my house was perfect and my life completely under control, but ready like my heart knew what God had done. I was in place I could truly rejoice in his faithfulness.

The hardest part (so far) of being a mom of three is the waking up in the middle of the night. Y’all, we’ve been sleeping (mostly) through the night for many years. But knowing God prepared us and designed this for us in his time makes me appreciate the middle-of-the-night snuggles with my girl more than I did with the other two as newborns.

(Don’t let me totally fool you though, I will rejoice when she sleeps through the night too.)

I’m grateful to be a mom of three for many reasons, but I’m especially because I believe this is what God planned for me. {Tweet that.} Yes, I had doubts this third time would happen, and I was going to be okay with that because my life already overflowed with blessings. But I’m grateful I indeed heard God right years ago about the third child, even if my timing was totally out of sync with God’s.

I shared other parts of Rachel's adoption story here ...


Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Six Things I Learned in September

If you follow me at all on social media or we hang out in real life, then you probably know Team Taylor became five this month. How's it going you may want to ask? The simple answer: It's going well. Rachel fits in our family. God continues to show us how he makes beauty from ashes through adoption.

But, obviously, I'm not usually one for short answers. I've told some stories already about Rachel, her birth, her adoption, and our family, and I will tell more. Fun note: Today was her due date, but we've gotten to have her nine days already!

For now, let's wrap up some randomness from September before yet another 2015 month escapes me. And, yes, beginning with the baby-related items ...

1. People really like baby pictures and stories. 

Okay, well, maybe this isn't news. But as soon I started posting picture of newborn Rachel and sharing more about our adoption story on Facebook, people started giving my posts thumbs up.

If you didn't know we're adopting a baby girl who was born Sept. 19, catch up here:

2. Hallmark had a fabulous baby book with adoption option pages.

Cate and Ben have baby books in binders that include pages from a regular baby book and additional pages I printed and made to tell their adoption story. They're like scrapbooks meet baby books. Rachel's is going to be more of the same but with a different starting point because Hallmark has a great baby book with optional pages and room for other homemade ones to be added.

{That's not even an affiliate link. I really just like this baby book.}

3. I can have bulk groceries delivered to my front porch.

Okay, I know about {and love to use!} Amazon's Prime Pantry, which has some groceries, and ePantry, which sells household products, but Boxed is new to me. It's like a mail-order version of Costco. And there's an app.

My first order included Gatorade, Mandarin oranges in snack-sized cups, paper plates, allergy medicine and contact solution. But next time it's going to include fruit snacks, chips, noodles, and all sorts of other things I'm currently stocked up on.

Did I mention a bulk purchase of paper plates?! Exactly 170 paper places, to be precise. Hello, perfect timing, as I cuddle my newborn.

You can join in the fun! Use 28SI6 at check out and you'll save $15 on your first order PLUS GET FREE SHIPPING. Now, there's always free shipping for orders totaling at least $75.

4. Making my son's bunk beds into a tent earned me cool mom points and helped him sleep later!

Ben is the epitome of a morning person. He wakes up ready to go and isn't usually quiet about that. A few weeks ago, we were in the process of taking some down curtains and putting up blinds instead. Like many household projects, it took longer than expected because the lady at the store told us to get the wrong width of blinds based on my window measurements.

During the week, it didn't matter if his window wasn't covered because he has to get up for school. But one Saturday I was hoping to sleep in. And by "sleep in," I mean I hoped not to wake up until the 7 o'clock hour.

So I darkened his bunk beds with a tent. And it worked.

Now that his blinds are up, the tent is still up. Because, hello, I'm a cool mom who still wants to sleep in.

5. Losing teeth is a weird process.

Well, okay, really, I don't deal with the actual losing of teeth. Cate lost her 10th tooth this month. After losing nine teeth is in 16 months {starting the month after she turned 5}, she hadn't lost one in 23 months. Crazy.

{I'm not really a numbers person, but I like when numbers tell stories.}

Meanwhile, Ben is two months from turning 6 and doesn't have a loose tooth.

6. A Precept Upon Precept study is perfect for a girl who has always liked school supplies. 

Hello, colored pens! I joined a Bible study this month at a big church that's nearby. It's not where we regularly attend, but I have several friends there and have been wanting to do a study with them. We're doing "Covenant: Knowing God's Covenants" by Percept Ministries International.

We're just a couple lessons in, but so far so good!

Tell me about your September. Are y'all glad it's fall?

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman for my favorite monthly recaps. Read other Things I Learned posts ::

{2013} JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
{2014} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune
{2015} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly. August.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through any of them, I'll receive a small portion of the sale. But I only recommend products I really do love and buying through my link doesn't change the price for you and sometimes, like the Boxed promo code, actually helps you.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Opening up about open adoption

Adoption always reminds me how God is in the details. Like our two other adoptions, I’ve seen it as we prepared for Rachel to be born since meeting birth mom Stacy in May. And I saw it on Sept. 19 – when our family became five. And not just because we wore matching shirts.

My favorite nurse from Ben’s birth in 2009 was there. She took my all-time favorite hospital photo then and almost six years later remembered our story. We chatted throughout the day. She celebrated adoption while being sensitive to the delicate balance of grief and joy.

Stacy is a private person so instead of being right by her bedside, we were just outside the labor and delivery room door. We could hear the last moments of delivery, when our girl entered the world. The birth dad stepped out to hug us and then we were invited in to meet Rachel. I touched her and photographed her while the pediatrician examined her and the nurse weighed her.

Then that favorite delivery nurse of mine handed me Rachel wrapped like a burrito. And I handed her my iPhone with the camera ready to go. She snapped pictures of Greg and I meeting Rachel. And then she kept snapping pictures as I handed Rachel to Stacy to hold and then as the four of us gathered around a baby girl we all loved.

We ended up spending about 90 minutes with Stacy after Rachel’s birth. We took turns holding her and chatted about our other kids – my two who became part of our family through other adoption processes in 2007 and 2009 and her two who aren’t yet 2 and 3 years old. These moments were open adoption at its finest.

I’ll also remember those moments – and they’re part of the story I’m excited to share with Rachel one day. I even have pictures to show her.

{Please notice Stacy’s hand on the left of the picture above. I have others with all four of us –  adoptive parents and birth parents side by side – and some of Stacy holding Rachel that are beautiful additions to the baby book and our family’s story.}

We visited with Stacy later that evening as she recovered in another room and then again the next day when we met with our attorney and social worker before we went our separate ways.

I know open adoption seems scary and awkward, but when it’s the situation God designed the ways of this world don’t apply. Having been involved in three adoption processes, I know each relationship and scenario looks different. Regardless, being able to know my children’s birth moms is a unique and valued part of their stories.

Likewise, each adoption is different. Adoption is born of heartache, and sometimes that means knowing birth parents isn’t possible. Other times, an open adoption isn’t desirable for perfectly understandable reasons. Open adoption is just what our family knows, but even then other families may have other degrees of openness. Adoption is never a one-size-fits-all experience.

Stacy and I may have gone to different homes Sunday afternoon, but our lives are forever intertwined. I’ll send pictures and there may be visits. I’m not entirely sure what our relationship will look like from here, but Stacy will forever be part of our family’s story.

I'm linking up with the lovely Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On Saying Yes {a guest post}

I've been asking my husband to write a post about our Guatemala trip. I know, you've heard my stories and perspective, but I wanted him to share too. And then when he did, I cried and wanted to go back. We're grateful for our Guatemala experience and how it's changed our family. And I'm excited you get a chance to hear more about that from Greg. 

How many of us actually like the idea of a God who calls us to submit our whole lives to Him? Isn’t that radical? Isn’t Him asking that of us crazy?

And how many of us Christians actually submit our will to His on a daily basis? I know I haven’t, not really, at least not on a daily basis.

Yet I do see examples in the lives of my friends and family – people submitted to the Lord and daily taking up their cross and following Him. These people are ministering to those around them, meeting physical and spiritual needs, and taking Jesus’s love into this dark and dying world even when it seems crazy to do so.

Last fall, I clearly felt the call of the Holy Spirit to look into this Guatemala mission trip with Bethel Ministries. I couldn’t escape the thought that God was calling us to this experience at this time. And despite so many failures in the past to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, this time I said yes.

As Christians, we follow a God who loves to shake things up and turn our world upside down. He called Gideon while he was threshing wheat in hiding, He called Moses while shepherding in Midian, and He called Elisha while plowing in the field.

If you are serving a God who never humbles you, never disrupts your world, and never calls you to do things outside your comfort zone, you are probably serving your idea of God, not the Lord of the universe. When He calls you, don’t expect Him to ask for anything less than your whole heart.

The cool thing about how He works is He doesn’t ask us to use our willpower to change our hearts or give us a long list of things to do in order to get an “A” at being a Christian. He simply asks us to be obedient and submit to Him when He calls. He asks us to say yes when our selfish flesh would say no. And as we submit one choice at a time, He then changes our heart and transforms our mind, spirit and attitude. He is the one doing the work, all we have to do is say yes. {Tweet that.}

The powerful thing about what the Lord did through our team in Guatemala is that He took us and transformed us for His purposes that week. For the nine adults and four children who answered the call, we left our normal selfish selves in the USA and became a unified team with one purpose of serving the Guatemalan families we met.

So as our team got together to go to Guatemala, you may have looked at us from the outside and said that we looked like a bunch of imperfect people, not really suited to do real ministry. And you’d be right. But the truth is He had a specific plan for us to meet with families and children in Guatemala and bring glory to His name. The families we met with didn’t ask us about what sins we were struggling with or how many times we had let God down. They simply saw the love of God in the food that we brought, the wheelchairs we distributed, and the houses that we built.

And through that, God changed not only the families we served in Guatemala, but He changed us. My daughter, Cate, experienced poverty on a level that she had never seen before. Yet she also experienced the joy of the Lord in a new way, as she played with and smiled with those children who trusted God despite their circumstances.

She experienced what it was like to say yes to God, and the radical, crazy, amazing love of Jesus became a little more real to her that week. The day before we came home, she talked with Kristin and I about baptism and what that meant. We prayed with her and sensed that she felt God was calling her to submit to Him and that she wanted to say yes. I had the privilege of baptizing her at our home church with our family and friends a few weeks later. She felt the call of God, and said yes. And I am so thankful that she did.

Our trip to Guatemala reminded me in a new and fresh way that Jesus is the only source of contentment and joy. No matter what our circumstances, we can take joy in knowing Him, and remembering that this life is fleeting and eternity awaits. Nothing else matters when we are confronted by His relentless grace. {Tweet that.} I am so looking forward to what He has planned next.

Read my other Guatemala-related posts here :: 


Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Finding joy even when life changes

Way back at the beginning of the year, many bloggers chose one word to be their focus for the year, like a resolution. Mine has been JOY.

It’s a tiny word, but it’s a mighty word. God has used it to teach me and encourage me this year. Who knew three letters strung together could change my perspective?

I love this quote about joy from Kay Warren:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

Joy can change my perspective because joy is a choice. While circumstances change, the foundation of joy that only God can give doesn’t waiver, even when life's seasons change. {And speaking of changes ... our baby Rachel Elizabeth was born Saturday, Sept. 19! I'm excited to share more of her sweet adoption story soon. Stay tuned!}

I know this #choosingJOY idea isn't new to many my blog readers, but I'm excited to share more about it at Circles of Faith today. I'd love for you to join me there

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Team Taylor welcomes Rachel!

My husband and I were wearing matching Team Taylor T-shirts the day our daughter was born. And we didn’t even plan it.

Well, we planned to wear the Team Taylor shirts because we were going to be part of some Hazel Day festivities and they advertise Greg’s business. Our kids were even wearing theirs too. The shirts were actually left over from a 5K race Greg’s law practice helped sponsor a couple years ago.

And, yes, clearly I feel the need to continue to explain why we were matching when Rachel Elizabeth was born on Sept. 19. I explained to people at the hospital. And then I explained on social media.

At first I thought it was a dorky coincidence. But then I saw the beauty in the detail.

Team Taylor. 

We’re so grateful our family grew by one this past weekend. The actual adoption proceedings are underway, but our girl is in our house and already dearly loved.

After having an ultrasound and being monitored for a while Friday afternoon, birth mom Stacy and the doctor made a plan for her to be induced early Wednesday morning. Although she had been sick that morning with a stomach bug, Stacy was disappointed she was sent home Friday after talk of a possible induction because she was ready.

Apparently Rachel was ready too.

Stacy called me Saturday morning at 7:59 a.m. to tell me she was having regular contractions and needed to go to the hospital. Greg and I – along with Cate and Ben – had just pulled into his office driveway in Hazel, a little town just south of Murray. Our family – along with many other Taylors were going to be the grand marshals in the parade – and then we were going to host an activity at his new office.

Turns out, that’s what the other Taylors did.

We hung out at the hospital in matching shirts and greeted our daughter just after she was born at 1:09 p.m. She was 7 pounds 3 ounces and 19 inches.

This adoption is open like our other two, but each experience has been different. We’ve brought home three babies as newborn – two from our local hospital. But each time God shows me something new as he orchestrates these unique bonds between our family, our children, and their birth moms.

I’m going to share more about that, but I’m going to have to spread out these stories or you’re going to be here all day reading!

I stayed at the hospital Saturday night with Rachel and then she was discharged at 25 hours old. Although the kids had met her at the hospital, coming home and having my family of five under the same roof was exactly where I wanted to be – dorky matching shirts included.

Just last week, I wrote about how Team Taylor isn't going to win any tennis titles. But, hey, we have matching shirts!

If you're new here, I change the birth moms' names when I share stories because some details are meant to be private. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, September 18, 2015

Live Love Lead {a review}

I had “Live Love Lead” by Hillsong Church’s Brian Houston sitting near me recently and my husband commented that it didn’t look like the kind of book I’d usually read. It’s funny he said that, but I sort of thought the same thing when I signed up to get a copy but was intrigued anyway. Houston – who is the founder and senior pastor at Hillsong Church – uses stories from his own life and commentary on the Bible to encourage readers.

All of the chapters begin with lyrics from Hillsong’s music. Houston discusses topics such as leadership, grace, shame, freedom, forgiveness, identity, compassion, and community. Certain sections of the book were more relevant to my life than others, although I was especially encouraged to embrace where God has me – the people, the trials, the celebrations, the opportunities. My personality, gifts, and location are a unique combination that God will use.

“Faithfulness means holding on to your purpose and trusting in God’s goodness in the midst of all the peaks, celebrations, and mountaintops, as well as the trials, temptations, and tragedies that life throws at you. This is how you grow, grounded in grace.”
{Brian Houston in “Live Love Lead”}

Sometimes life is overwhelming. I’ve also thought of being overwhelmed as a negative place to be. But while reading “Live Love Lead,” I started to think about as a place that humbles us and drives us to Jesus. God does give us more than we can handle alone because he wants us to rely on him with grace as our foundation.

“The abundant life Jesus came to bring us frees us from the confines of culture, competition, and comparison. We can be generous, inclusive, and grace filled, enjoying the fulfillment of our purpose as we love others just as he loved us. When we live out of the free, unmerited favor of God, we discover his grace is all-encompassing and all-sufficient.”
{From “Live Love Lead”}

Sure, it wasn’t the kind of book I’d usually read – whatever that means, really – but I’m glad I picked up “Live Love Lead.” I read some sections more than once and skimmed over others. I thought some of the thoughts were redundant and the book could have been shorter than its 272-pages, but in there were plenty of gems of truth.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: How do people experience the best life that God intends for them? The answer lies in understanding that the Christian life is an adventure, and that they only have to follow the greatest Guide who ever walked the path of life – Jesus. In this straightforward book, Brian Houston shows readers the way to live fully, love completely, and lead boldly – the hallmarks of Jesus' time on earth.

Hardback. 272 pages. Published on Sept. 15, 2015 by FaithWords.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Brian Houston is the founder and senior pastor of Hillsong Church. With global campuses around the world, including New York and Los Angeles, Hillsong has a combined weekly attendance of more than 90,000. Houston hosts one of the fastest-growing daily international broadcasts in the world. He is also executive director for Hillsong Music, one of the world’s largest producers of Christian music. He and his wife Bobbie have three grown children and live in Sydney, Australia and Orange County, California.

FaithWords/Hachette Book Group gave me a free copy of “Live Love Lead” in exchange for a review, but these opinions are mine.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."