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My Sob Story

I just celebrated my birthday this week. 

Is it just me or does anyone else get extra feely around their birthday? Every year, it happens. I usually have a post around my birthday. Remember this one? 

This post isn't going to be polished. It isn't maybe even going to clever, but it is something that has been brewing in me for all of the month of November. 

I shared my story this month at an event. It was my first speaking engagement since bringing Eden home. 

I talked with many of the men and women afterwards and throughout the years of sharing my story about a hard diagnosis, I have found one thing to be very true. 

We all have a sob story. 

You know the story line in your life that breaks your heart? The line that screams your life is unfair and everyone else has the upper hand or  that somehow your story feels less than. 

We all have a sob story we could tell, but I want a God story. 

I want a story that when it is told it is beyond little me. 

I want a story that shows even in the midst of heartbreak, death, and brokenness, God stepped in. 

I want a story that shows even in disappointment, He can change the script. 

I write these words and they seem so easy, but in truthfulness? I could have missed my own God story. 

Sometimes I wanted nothing to do with the story He was writing for me and everything about the kingdom I was building for myself. Sometimes I wanted to fit in more than stand out. Sometimes I wanted to chase after the American dream and what others my age were doing and experiencing instead of experiencing the God story He wrote for me. 

I don't know what you are going through tonight, but I guarantee if we sat together, we could share some tears about some hard things. We could share some sob stories, but what if we gave them to Him? 

Can we trust Him to turn them into God stories? 

It doesn't mean the circumstances still won't break our hearts, but we will live knowing it touched His heart so deeply, that He took it and rewrote the story for our good. 

Curious to know, what is your God story? 

Here is a glimpse at mine: 

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You did it. You changed my wild sobs into whirling dancing; you ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song. I can’t keep quiet about you, my God. I can’t thank you enough.
— Psalms 30:11-12, The Message

 

 

 

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The Last Mile

We started this journey 3.5 years ago, when my shakey hands submitted our Adoption Application to our agency. 

I was excited. I was terrified. I was thrilled. I was scared. 

All the feelings you get, when you are about to become a mom. 

We named this blog "Miles to Eden" because it was to document every mile of our journey to our daughter across the sea. When I first saw a picture of her with her little hands holding up a peace sign, I knew she had such spunk. She rarely smiled in pictures but she was always doing something silly. 

She was only 35 pounds when she came home. We carried her around every where. She was so little. The receptionist at the hotel we were living in for that whole month asked us if she could walk genuinely concerned because we carried her every where - and she loved it. 

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Now her long legs reach far across my body but I still pick her up because I never got to do that for almost 6 years. 

We took our last mile for Eden's citizenship which means we can post pictures to social media without being private or even posting to my blog that reached all the way back to her foster parents at one point. I hope they visit here again so they can see pictures of the most beautiful girl in the world who is filled with wonder, beauty, + the perfect amount of sweet\sassy. 

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She has brought so much joy in our lives. She has done so much in these almost two years home. She's grown in heart + feet. She's become more relaxed thanks to her daddy + tackled some goals like mommy. She's known in school as creative + bright. She loves going to Blue Orchid to eat her weight in Thai food + her biggest treat is to get a Thai Ice Tea. 

I was laying in bed last night after a good, but exhausting day in D.C. 

What if we never took that first step? 

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I would have missed out on the best thing that could have ever happened to me... to us. 

People ask me all the time, if we will have other children, and I don't know what's in the cards for me + Ike, but I do know this truth: she has made me the happiest mama + our life is filled with joy because of Eden calling us 'mom' + 'dad'. 

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This last mile was extra sweet because she was with us. 

And she will be forever. 

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Mismatched Community

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Mismatched Community

We have had five best friends move away from us this year. 

It's been a year of transition and when my best friend Hannah told me that her and (Ike's best friend) Travis were moving to Michigan, I almost hid in her box labeled Christmas Decorations to be the gift that keeps on giving every year. 

Change is hard. Transitions are messy. I have found that both are sacred ground. 

 

Hannah & I at our annual Fourth of July party that we put on together every year. 

Hannah & I at our annual Fourth of July party that we put on together every year. 

I want to pretend I live a life like Monica, Rachel, & Phoebe and come home to my people everynight. I guess for me I love the thought of coming home at the end of the day to my closest friends, living & creating life together, but my life looks nothing like a Friends episode. 

In fact, it is quite the opposite right now in this season of my life. Most of my best friends are scattered all across the USA and now many are moving to other countries. The only good thing I have concluded out of this expansion is now we can travel to new places and have a place to stay. ;) 

I don't know about you, but most days I crave the T.V. inspired Friends community but in reality our community isn't patterned after the TV show where we are all the same age, same values or beliefs, same way of living, or heck even the same zipcode. 

Our community is often times mismatched. 

A big part of our community, mentoring & loving these amazingly wild high schoolers <3 

A big part of our community, mentoring & loving these amazingly wild high schoolers <3 

I have girlfriends in all different ages of life: some becoming empty nesters, some raising teens, some in the toddler\school-age kids, and some who are entering baby world. I have some who are not married yet or some who are married and have decided to not have children. I have some who are going through a divorce, others who are celebrating 20 years of marriage.  My community is a myraid of pieces all looking for a place to be, a place to belong, and if I am honest, some don't look like they go together like I see so many others communities do. 

Traveling to see friends in the ATL airport

Traveling to see friends in the ATL airport

This year I have struggled with the word community because I felt like I was losing a big part of mine. 

Tonight I got a phone call from Hannah. She is moved in & telling me all about the new country roads she drives, the boxes that have been left untouched, & our big plans for family vacation next year together. She tells me things like God has a plan, you are gonna be okay, & I miss you. Things I really needed to hear and it's in that moment I realize how lucky I am to have this mismatched community. A community speckled around the world calling me, emailing me, or texting me. It is like what I tell my daughter: Eden, do you know that there are people all over the world that love you? How many people can say that? 

This next season for me is going to be different. It is going to be new. Change is here. So, I am gonna put myself out there again and remember how special it is to have this mismatched community I once thought didn't fit all too well. 

My mismatched community looks like: 

  • meeting intentionally with friends in the same town at the coffee shop because our lives rarely intersect in real life
  • Snail mailing goodies to friends overseas 
  • bringing cookies to our widowed neighbor 
  • Going to the farmers market every Saturday and the vendors know your order\name
  • mentoring college\high school age girls 
  • driving cross country to see an old friend and pick up where you left off 
  • online communities where you meet new friends who have the same interests
  • Texting friends in all fifty states (pretty much)
  • visiting the local Kroger and knowing the barista's name at the front lobby Starbucks
  • Calling your family 
  • signing up for a gym class to meet new people
  • going to a friend's house to watch and dissect the bachelor
  • having a bible study with friends from different churches 
  • taking a new class on something you want to learn
  • getting a swim membership and meeting new moms

Community is a buzzword we all desire, but it takes time and being brave. My hope is to be brave this year in changes. Who knows maybe later this year I will be singing I'll be there for you and finding that community is what you make of it & creating community is one of the best decisions you can do - mismatched or not. 

 Until then I will keep showing up in airports and texting late at night to friends who changed me and who I am thankful I get to love - near or far. 

 

 

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4 Months Home

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4 Months Home

Sometimes I stop during my day and think, 

Did we really get on a plane during Storm Jonas (the last flight out of DC before it shut down for the weekend), travel 10,000+ miles to go a city we had never been, trust in people we had never met to bring us our daughter, and live with her in this foreign city for a month? 

Then the other part of me shouts:

YES, WE DID. 

We did all that & our lives are forever changed in the best way possible. 

It's been four months since we brought Eden home. Four months of transitions, first moments, and learning all about mommyhood with a cute six year old. She has brought us so much joy, laughter, and so many memories to our new family of four. (Russ counts, yall.) 

I have lived long enough to know that most things don't last forever and we are all just in a temporary season moving from one to another. Seasons change but with each season is a strength and a trial. I want to remember every little thing Eden is into right now - things that drive me crazy and the things that make me melt (which happens quite frequently). Here is what we know about Eden girl for the four months she has been home with us. 

Eden's Favorites: 

WHAT'S SHE'S EATING

  • Spaghetti
  • Raisin Bran
  • Sticky Rice
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • French Toast
  • Chicken
  •  Jasmine Rice

Restaurants: Thai 99, Panda Express, Chipotle & Mr. Goodys

Dislikes: cheese, potates

WHAT'S SHE's DRINKINg

  •  Sprite
  •  Water
  • chocolate milk
  • apple juice

Dislikes: Orange Juice

What's She's listening to: 

  • King of my Heart by Bethel
  •  Barbie Soundtrack
  • Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin
  •  The Little Mermaid Soundtrack (#1 FAVORITE)
  • Held by Casting Crowns 
  •  Frozen Soundtrack
  •  The VBS soundtrack (Ocean Commotion) 
  • Shake it Off by T.Swift 

What's she's Watching:

  • The Little Mermaid (#1 favorite!) 
  • Snow White
  • Barbie: The Secret Door
  • Frozen 
  • Jake, the Pirate
  • Sophia the First

What's She playing With 

  • Barbies
  • Molly, her American Girl doll 
  • ANY craft she can make\get her hands on 
  • Paints everyday 
  • Has a dance break every midafternoon usually on the front lawn while the neighbors watch on (she likes an audience). 
  • Dress Up (every day a new princess, fairy, or mermaid

Favorite Things

  • COLOR: Pink & Yellow
  • ANIMAL: Unicorn & Elephant
  • Obsessions: Princesses, Mermaids, Crowns\Tiaras, Dresses, & Finding Treasure 
  • Books: God loves you little Lamb, Lottie Paris, Mermaid Stories, Bear Snores On

Cute Little Phrases:

  • "Mom, why you do that?" 
  • "Huh? I can't hear you." 
  • "I love me some home." (Everytime we pull in the driveway)
  • "I don't think so." 
  • "You and me are gonna be together forever, right mom?" 
  • "This is gonna be really, really special."
  • "Close your eyes." **when she gives you anything from a present to a Kleenex.**
  • Eden LOVES (Prounced LUUVVV) __________. 
  • "Oh, that's my favorite." 
  • "Can I have me some ______. (Equivalent to: May I have ____) 
  • I love you as big as Thailand. (Or Germany or The Sky)
  • "YOU THE BEST." (Anytime she gets her way...aka... candy, staying up later than usual.) 

Still: 

  • sleeps in mom & dad's bed

  • scared of the dark 
  • dresses up everyday as a princess\mermaid\fairy 
  • wears lipstick before going out the door 
  • wants to find a pair of high heels in her size 

Words to Describe E: 

  • Leader
  • Story Teller
  • Miss Personality: extrovert
  • Performer 
  • Smart
  • Funny 
  • Articulate 
  • Generous
  • Loving  
  • Cuddler
  • Energetic 
  • Affirming 
  • Caring
  • Sensitive 
  • Loyal 

Started to: 

  • Go to Children's Church 
  • Swim! 
  • Beginning stages of reading
  • write\say her English & Thai numbers 1-100

Edenisms 

  • Skips wherever she is going (check out my IG video for a cute example) 
  • Sings 24\7
  • friends mean THE WORLD to her
  • loves headphones in her ears while dancing
  • is the girlest of girly girls yet hates wearing shoes

Four months ago, our lives changed so drastically from having no kids in our home to now a home of a family of four. Here's to four months and forever to go. 

 

Eden Wendland, we love you more than you will ever know. 

Xoxo, Mommy 

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Books on Books on Books: Part 1

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Books on Books on Books: Part 1

We are half way through the year. eeeeekkkk. 

How did that happen? 

2016 has been a whirlwind in the best possible way. You know I did bring home my daughter

These books - who have been my constant companions this year -  have been delicious. Please keep in mind that I did have a 24 hour flight (one way) and devoured many books during travel to Eden. Here are the ones I've snacked on so far this year. Ahhh, so good. 


Since finishing The Nightingale (soooo good!) my obsession with WWII plots & love stories has not slowed down and this summer I want some good old fashion escape reading. So, I do what every millennial does when looking for answers....ask on Facebook. Here is what my friends recommended and I have to say, it looks like a good summer coming up

My Summer Reading List:: 

  • Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  • See Me by Nicholas Sparks

  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

  • The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Derr

Thanks to my Alyssa, Bre, Kendra, & Michele for the suggestions. :) 

What is on your 2016 reading list? Any ones I should pick up? 

 

Happy Reading! 

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Less Screens, More Greens Summer Challenge

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Less Screens, More Greens Summer Challenge

Less Screens, More Greens Summer Challenge

Do you smell that lemony spritz  that is in the air? 

Beyonce isn't the only one bringing out the lemonade this summer - this mama is. 

Our first summer with my daughter home brings excitement and the endless possibilities we can create for our family time together. This spring I have been praying over our first summer home with Eden. Since I am a high school teacher, my summer days will be spent with my daughter and I want to savor every minute of this time together.

I only get to do 6 years old one time, ya'll. I only get to do our first summer together - once. 

I don't know about you but I don't want my child(ren) to grow up thinking "checking social media" is a healthy morning routine. I don't want to teach her my phone is more important that the people in front of me. PLEASE, GOD, DON'T LET ME.  Subtly showing her by my own choices that somehow looking at pictures is better than living life right here where we are. 

 I made a challenge for myself and our family this summer: LESS SCREENS, MORE GREENS.  

The requirements? 

  • Make a list of activities you want to complete with your family this summer that are outside or helpful to the community. 
  • Limit screen time to 30 minutes a day. You can adjust to what fits well for your child or home, but we are striving to do only 30 minutes. 
  • Take pictures of the activities and document your adventures to prove life is better lived OFF screen. 

That's it. Come on, you know you want to try it. 

Helpful APPS: Quality Time - an app to help you monitor how much time you spend on social media sites or app usuages. 

OUR LESS SCREENS, MORE GREENS SUMMER CHALLENGE LIST: 

  • Go to the beach 

  • Collect Seashells 

  • Take a walk on the boardwalk 

  • Build a sandcastle 

  • Go to North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro

  • Catch fireflies in mason jars at night

  • Shop local at the Farmer's Market every Saturday

  • Eat at food trucks Thursday

  • Read a great lit classic in the hammock  

  • Go on a picnic in the park 

  • Go biking on Black Water Creek Trail 

  • Get a swim membership 

  • Write a song with music and lyrics

  • Go camping (as much as possible) 

  • Take a hike 

  • Build a telescope to see the stars

  • Read our summer reading list 

  • Host friends over with a bonfire

  • Have Eden and her friends meet Elsa

  • Sign up for a class to take together 

  • Camp in our backyard

  • Go on a date with Isaac (just the two of us!) 

  • Plant a rose bush in our front yard

  • Plant a tree in the front yard

  • Wash the car in the driveway 

  • Make homemade cookies for a neighborhood family

  • Go horseback riding

  • Take care of our garden 

  • Go the the library once a week for new books and attend their reading days. 

  • Finish teaching Eden to read.

  • GO TWO DAYS WITHOUT A PHONE (MOMMY!)
  • Have a lemonade stand

  • Do a service project for the community (Eden's choice)

  • Visit family 

  • Go to Lynchburg Splash Park 

  • Volunteer at the Lynchburg Humane Society 

  • Write a short story (Eden & mommy)

  • Read about each fifty states and what makes them unique.

(Ask Eden which one she would maybe want to live in one day and pray she says California)

  • Make a movie

  • Visit the poetry house of Anne Spencer

  • Visit Monticello 

  • Read up on my favorite authors and their upbringings (Mommy)

  • Write a summer pen pal

  • Make homemade Popsicles

  • Visit a farm (cOMPLETED mAY 22ND, 2016)

  • Pick strawberries from Yoder's farm. 

  • Make homemade strawberry jam. 

  • Leave room in the day for creativity  

 ________________________________

We did our first on the list by visiting our friend's farm. Let me just say now I have goat fever. Is that a thing? I am going to make it a thing. 

First one off the list: Visiting a farm. 

It was so fun, maybe we will do it twice. :) 

Okay, who is with me? Comment below. 

Or tell me fun things to do in our area? Let me hear youuu. 

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Behind the Name:: Eden Hazel

We began the process for finalizing our adoption in Virginia. Our home visits started last week.  Thunderous applause.

It will take all year. Chirp. Chirp.

I have been in this race long enough to know that I have to celebrate the small steps because they always lead us to our final destination no matter the size.

We are preparing for all her information to be changed to be Americanized and there is a part of that change that makes me sad sometimes for Eden. Adoption isn't always black and white. It isn't always the airport pictures or homecomings. There is loss and a loss of Thai culture that I can't relive in my living room. No matter how hard I try.

Sometimes I hate that part.

A friend said to me, "Just like Eden was planned for you. You were planned for Eden." He saw our needs and knew the solution.

I have to believe then, our location is for Eden too.

And now in the upcoming months and late in this year, they will ask me to write a name on her citizenship.

A name. What is really in a name?

I believe a name can chase after you and label you. I believe there is power in names.

I believe in the name of Jesus that it can make right every wrong. I believe it can break every chain, just like the song says.

So with this belief in the power of names, how was I to name my first child?

e d e n - a place of delight

I remember one night praying for our future children after a hard day at the doctor's office and reading this verse found in Isaiah...

The LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her barren places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden.
— Isaiah 51:3

I knew instantly that if I would ever be privileged to be called mother, my first daughter would be named Eden. 

 

One day after receiving her progress report, a friend came up to me and said, "She is going to be a delight for you, Libby." 

I later found out Eden means just that: a place of delight. She has been that and so much more. Her personality and every little inch of our girl is a place of pure delight and pleasure.

 

h a z e l - healing; God sees me

Eden is named after my great-grandmother, Hazel Leora, a woman who was known all throughout our community as LOVE. When Isaac and I were trying to conceive back in 2012, I read this blog post and it brought me to tears because just when I think I am"just using" a family name, it also has such a powerful meaning. Read this post: 

https://timandbrookecollier.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/hazel-behind-the-name/

Behind her name is a name I want to chase her forever: delightful healing

That is what she has been to this mommy's heart. That is what she has done to daddy's soul.

She has brought us so much delightful healing and proved to us that God saw her & God saw us.

I pray for her soul that when life throws questions and maybe we won't find answers, she will be found whole....healed.

Okay, Eden Hazel, show the world, who you are.... a place of delightful healing.

-Eden's Mommy

 

 

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I Needed You

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I Needed You

Hey little one, I needed you badly

When the years spun by and bad news twirled in like a tornado and life felt reckless- then came you. I needed you. 

I needed you in the night to remind me when darkness comes, it is a time to get close, not apart. That sometimes the happiest moments will be hugs and whispers in the dark. You taught me that darkness isn't an evil companion, but just a welcoming to write our own music to light our path in the dark. For it is in midnight hours, when real melodies are made. 

I needed you in the day to show me the magic of the world - the pink flowers, green grass, and the Disney moment of the mailman coming to deliver good news. I never knew his name until I met you. You brought me good news with you just being you. You showed me He is still sovereign over my story and my pain. I needed you. 

They tell me all the time how lucky you are that you got me and daddy, but daddy and I know... we needed you more. When I grieved the lost of babies and dreams of day's gone by, you came and brought magic & wonder, I needed you. 

I needed you to remind me how good God is, how kind, how wise. I'm not one to believe He brought the bad, but if the bad brought me to you. I would live through it 100x again just to have you because darling, I needed you. 

 

I needed you to remind me of innocence and how to hope in the world and in people. To remember this is a good place to be. 

I needed you to show me how to be silly again and to not take myself so seriously like the day we took 100 selfies with silly faces and wild smiles. I'm telling you, It's a good picture because darling, you are in it with me and I needed you right beside me. 

I needed you to remind me that life isn't cruel or God didn't bring me here to hurt me, but to give gifts better than I could ever imagine and sometimes the best things that happen aren't planned but our life's beautiful surprises. I needed you.

I needed you in my little world to expand me to the best version of myself.  You showed me that my life was not collapsing but falling together in the way it was meant to be - with you, me, and daddy. - because darling, I needed you. 

I needed you to remind me how to slow down and find the beauty in simple days and slow mornings. Something your mama isn't used to. 

I needed you to remind me to let go of hurt and hold on to good because when I look at you my life has the clearest purpose: daddy, me and you. 

I needed you to show me what truly matters in life - not the six-figure salary or dream body I make up in my head - but just to know we could live in a cottage or a castle and still be happy because we have each other. You. Me. Daddy. That's all that matters. 

I need you. You need me. 

But, lets never forget we will need Him desperately. 

Someday I won't be able to meet every need but I hope to show you where to go, who to call, and maybe I am crazy enough to think that my earthy love can show you a glimpse of His. Just like your love has showed me a new side to Him.

When the years pass and you hear people say, "you needed me"... let me pull you in.... 

.... Come, get close on my lap and let me whisper in your ears, Darling, I needed you. Your love set me free.

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To my Daughter's Foster Mom::

My husband and I just adopted our beautiful six year old daughter internationally. She was placed in foster care at 3 weeks old until the approval of her adoption. Nothing I could ever give or say could repay her foster parents for the love they gave my daughter while she waited for six years for her forever home. My words will always fall short, but I pray all foster moms\dads know the importance of their job & role in a child's life. This post is dedicated to two of the world's best people (Por Kian & Mae Eiat) and to all the foster moms and dads in our world. Your work does not go unnoticed & your love will live through these children for all eternity. All my love & gratitude!

To My Daughter's Foster Mom, 

I know you will probably never read these words nor will they ever touch your ears to know my heart, but I want to tell you that the day we met I will never forget or be the same.  You showed me the broken hallelujah of loving someone with all your heart even if that love meant only for a moment but I am telling you, you loving my daughter may have just been a season, but she will carry that love for eternity. 

When she trusts me, I know it was because of your trusting hand that held her during those years of waiting and hard transitions. 

When she loves me, I know it was because she was first loved by you. 

When she asks me to hold her during the night and her little cheek pressed against mine, I know it was because your strong arms held her in her darkest times and those cheeks were kissed a million times before my lips ever touched them. 

When she lets her daddy play with her with no reservation, I know it was because she knew the love of a good man & was safe in your home. 

When she tells me how much I love her, I know it was because you told her about me even though we never met, but you gave her the hope of a loving forever mommy. 

When she speaks her opinions and tells us "I'm so smart", I know it's because she had a mommy believing in her way before this mommy ever could.

When she tells me she has two mommies, there will never be jealously or competition, because you showed me the depth and beauty to share the title mommy with someone. 

When she sings loudly for all to hear and puts on a performance like Lucille Ball, I know it was because you fostered her independence and creativity and let her be her. 

When she tells me stories about the rice fields of Buriram or school house in the village, I know it was because you showed her the beauty and goodness of the country she comes from.

When you told me, "she will make her village proud" and she "was the most beloved girl in the whole village", I know it was because she was loved the moment she was placed in your arms at 3 weeks old when the weight of the world was on her shoulders. 

When she cries in my arms and lets me in when she feels scared or unsure, I know it was because she was loved like she deserved - the only kind of love worth receiving, the unconditional kind.

When you wonder if your time together meant something or if the pain of her absence captures you in the years to come, may you always know: You may have only loved her for a moment, but your love will be with her all the days of her life.  

When the teachers asks about Eden's heritage and homeland, Eden and I will tell them about a woman who changed our life and who taught Eden's mommy that loving someone -no matter the amount of time or convenience - is always worth the risk, always worth the pain. 

When we fly back home to Thailand in the years to come when questions come and answers need to be found, we cannot  wait to embrace you to tell you: Your love covered a multitude of sins. You proved to us that love really does conquer all. 

We owe you a million thanks, but for now, we pray we can love her like you did, and will spend our life trying to give her the love she deserves.

Here's to you. Here's to love. 

 

Eden's Mommy

 

 

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Staying in Your Own Lane ||

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Staying in Your Own Lane ||

I am currently reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. I do not know how I missed this book in my search for new books last year, but here I am sneaking in late to the party after all the confetti has fallen from the overpriced confetti cannon. Hello, everyone. 

Photo by Libby Wendland

Photo by Libby Wendland

The premise of the book is about learning to live in small moments in a fast moving world (hence the cover). This small living is called "simply Tuesday". There are many great quotes in the book like, 

But Tuesday teaches me that part of living well in ordinary time is letting this day be good. Letting this day be a gift. Letting this day be filled with plenty. And if it all goes wrong and my work turns to dust? This is my kind reminder that outcomes are beyond the scope of my job description.
— Emily P Freeman

Or the time she quotes Os (can I call him Os?) and drops the mic. 

It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—and this is not learned in five minutes.
— Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

The one part of the book that I can't shake is the part where she talks about a time she went to an indoor water park and was watching tons of lifeguards. She tells it this way, 

The most compelling thing about these lifeguards to me was the fact... they were responsibly for only 8 feet and anyone who swam within them. They paced their assigned distance back and forth at the edge of the pool, eyes never leaving the water...Their job wasn’t to watch the whole pool, only their assigned area.
— Emily P Free, Simply Tuesday, pg 89

I signed up for a race one time. Ahem, one time.

 I was in 3rd grade and signed up to run the Hershey Track meet in Charles City, Iowa. I was going to be the next Marion Jones (before we knew about the drug problem) so I signed up for the 100 Meter Dash. When I went to the line, they told us to make sure we stayed in our laneThe next thing I knew the gun went off and I shot out of the blocks (okay, there were no blocks, but for cinematic effect) and collided with another girl that left us both on the track with skinned knees, disqualified efforts, and a tear-fest that lasted two weeks. 

What happened? 

I got out of my lane and ran into hers.  

That was one of my first and last track meets.

(Well, there was that one time in 8th grade I won the 800 meters and Ike thought we would be a super star track couple. Sorry for the disappointment in life, Ike). 

I thought of that story after reading Emily's words about the lifeguards staying faithful in their assigned lot. 

Sometimes I get out of my lane.

I try to do things that I was never meant to do or be someone who I really am not. 

I try to take on all the world's problems and soon become disappointed that things aren't changing. Kindness isn't winning. 

I try to be everything to everyone & give the less presentable parts of me to my family. 

I start trying to be a jack of all trades and soon become a master of none. 

But, then she came along...

Photo by Libby Wendland

Photo by Libby Wendland

I know my lane. I know my assignment. 

My lane is to... 

  • Invest in my marriage & care deeply for it. Fight for its perpetual health. 
  • Be present to Eden and her needs. Mother the way she deserves. 
  • Love my (immediate and extended) family. 
  • Care for my home and the environment I cultivate for my little family. 
  • Cherish my friends. Find and keep my home team. 
  • Put my heart into my work and students. Mentor and sharpen them to be world changers and kindness seekers. "His kindness leads me to repentance." 
  • Share community with my church and give my talents to its health and helpfulness. 
  • Love our youth group hard and be there for them when needed to give wisdom and encouragement. 
  • Be an active member in our community. 
  • Take time for my own wellness (mental, spiritual, & physical) 
  • Become friends with our neighbors and learn what it means to be an actual good neighbor. 
  • Be present to people and show genuine kindness. 
  • Write words that inspire, encourage, and equip. 

What if I worked on these seemingly "small" things in my life instead of looking at someone else's lane and stop trying to do a ministry that was not mine to take? I wonder if we all stayed in our lane, the power of consistency and care in our small, little worlds, how much of an effect that would have in our own large world. Do things that set you on fire and soon maybe this world of ours will be aglow. 

Here is some homework for youmake a list of your lane. Find out what it is you were made to do and do it well. 

Don't try to bake if you are allergic to flour. 

Put down the mic if you got a little Kanye in you. 

Don't think you can do it all because you weren't made to do it all, but you were made to do your assignment. 

It's easy to think someone else's assignment is more important or more glamorous, but He gives the purpose and heck, bring your own glam squad. 

He doesn't ask us for perfection, but He does ask us for our faithfulness.  He isn't going to be asking us if we did someone else's job, but He will ask if we did ours and did we do it faithfully? All we have to do is stay in our own lane. 

I don't know about you, but I just sighed a loud sigh of relief. 

 

 

 

 

Libby

Eden's Mommy

 

 

 

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When Spring Comes ||

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When Spring Comes ||

It's dark outside. The lights flicker lightly in my living room as her freshly read Dr. Seuss book stares at me in the faint light. 

She is sleeping in my bed with her daddy. Her arm swung around him like a twisted pull and peel licorice. They both are out like the light above them sleeping peacefully and here I stand looking over them with a smile that makes hot tears run down from my exhausted eyes. She is home. 

I tiptoe in the dark to look at her face - the face I had been praying for for almost five years. She's finally homeWe travelled around the world to get her. We didn't sleep for nights due to excitement and fear. We prepared her room and bought every coloring book in the Target aisle because they told us she loved to color (turns out coloring books aren't her thing). 

I have kissed her lips too many times to count and told her she better get used to it because mama's lips aren't going anywhere. Stuck like glue, baby. 

She's home.

Did we think our daughter would actually be here after the years of waiting? People told me spring would come, but sometimes when winter is long, you forget the promise of daisies. Yet, my forgetfulness does not derail His faithfulness.  

When I look back on the winter season of my life, I do not see the cold, but I see a loving Father preparing a daughter's heart, a new mommy learning to pray and give her daughter to the Lord daily, a new daddy taking the lead and fighting for his family. I see an army of people gathering together to lift our family in prayer and for my heart to heal and learn the power and beauty of the church. I see a mommy and daddy who will go to the ends of the world for their daughter and bring her to a family. I see lonely nights that lead to moments of clarity about who He was in these new places I found myself in and I found out the cold couldn't hurt me because I was with Him following His plan. 

 

Those winter months only prepared me to be grateful for the sun that shines in this new season and shows me He was in control at all times and even in my weakness & forgetfulness, He was found faithful. 

 

Now every daisy I pick, I know it was from years of preparation of His doings. So here's to picking daisies and realizing He is God even over the winter seasons. 

 

all my love, 

Libby

Eden's Mommy

 

 

 

 

 

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Kid Friendly & Affordable Things to do in Bangkok

All photos by my talented husband, Isaac Wendland (@isaacwendland)

All photos by my talented husband, Isaac Wendland (@isaacwendland)

My husband and I were able to stay close to 3 weeks in two different parts of Thailand (southern and eastern regions). We spent majority of our time in Bangkok at the Pantip Suites. We enjoyed our stay there immensely and little Miss charmed all the workers and we were at the pool two times a day with no hesitation. Also, their Pad Thai at the Pantip Restaurant was the best we found in Ike's search. Eden approved, too. 

Dusit Zoo Hippo taken by Ike

Dusit Zoo Hippo taken by Ike

While we were there bonding as a family with one active little six year old, it was our quest to find the best kid places that Bangkok had to offer for our family. Ones that did not hurt our budget and that Eden truly enjoyed. We went to some that we did not find as enjoyable that did miss our list. For example, we spent a day at the Dusit Zoo but went on the hottest day we were there and we were all hot and exhausted. Eden loved the animals but the heat kind of took the animal ecstasy away. I would say to go though, but it did not make the list here due to Eden's response. The list I am going to form is based on our opinions of overall great for the price, the environment, and Eden's favorites. Some on the list, we went to more than once due to Eden's love. 

I hope this list helps those looking for kid friendly things to do in Thailand or for my adoptive friends who will be in country and can try them out for themselves. 

Kid Friendly & Affordable Things to do in Bangkok, Thailand

Funarium

Website: http://www.funarium.co.th/

Price: 250 -320 baht depending on size of child

By far, Eden's favorite place to go and we went a total of three times! She loved the different activities - roller skating in the morning, biking & scooters in the afternoon, & the art room upstairs where she made her own decorative sand candle. They have a theater stage where she performed "Let it Go" and a rock climbing wall she climbed to ring the bell. It is great for parents too as many workers are helpful in watching the kids and they even have a place for massages for parents (sadly, we didn't do that!) They have a fully equipped snack shop with great food and very kind workers. We spent three afternoons here and Eden loved each one. 

Note: They have a small play area for infant & toddlers as well. 

Snow Town

Website: http://snowtown.in.th/

Price: 250 - 320 Baht depending on size of child

Eden4.JPG

There is no question that my daughter loves snow (Thanks, Queen Elsa!) So when all she could talk about for days was snow and the fact that she has never seen any before, my husband tried to find a place for her to experience snow firsthand. He found Snow Town. Eden was in snow heaven! They have a place for the kids to sled, go inside igloos, and Eden's personal favorite - dress up like a princess and take your pictures for free! The only downside? They didn't play the Frozen Soundtrack and Eden was wondering if they had any taste in music. 

Imaginia Playland

Website: http://www.imaginiaplayland.com/en

Price: 100-200 baht

Imaginia is the place where kids meet technology with play. We colored a car on the IPad while it transformed a concrete car before our eyes, we made our own mix tape while starring at a picture of Ice Cube, & built an elephant out of odd shaped building blocks. They also have a playground, a big slide (Eden's favorite), and a giant net she climbed to walk on (sorry for my lack of words!) 

But, our families favorite area? Transform into an Animal Center. 

The place where you take a silly photo and the computer puts it on the big screen for all the people to see. We spent probably 30 minutes laughing and transforming into animals for our own enjoyment. Eden loved seeing her picture on the big screen. 

Siam Ocean World 

Website: http://www.sealifebangkok.com/

Price: WORTH IT! 

My favorite thing we did while in Bangkok was go to the Siam Ocean World. It was worth every penny we spent! We watched sharks being fed, penguins dancing, & the best part? It was inside where the temperature was kind. ;) Anyone who has been to Thailand understands the heat and humidity. 

We ate lunch at a small cafe and Eden experienced her first coke because a girl's gotta live a little. Eden was amazed at all the different types of fish and "Ohhh & AWWW!" over each one. Ike and I still talk about this day and always say, "This place was our favorite memory!" 

Hope this makes you want to visit Thailand and experience some amazing things that they have to offer for kids and families alike. I know I am missing many so if you have been in Bangkok and want to add more to the list, comment below. :)

 

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My Loudest Hallelujah :: The Day We Met Eden

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My Loudest Hallelujah :: The Day We Met Eden

For the first time (in a long time) I do not have the words to describe meeting Eden. One day I plan to gather my thoughts and try, but right now all I can do is sing. Yes, sing. The only words that come to me are songs of praise. I walked down the aisle to this song to marry Isaac and it is the first song that came into my heart when seeing these pictures.

How will I ever be able to thank Him enough for her? I don't know if my praise will ever be enough, but I am going to try.

 She is the answer to a million prayers and now is my loudest hallelujah. 

So, friends, here are the pictures of when we met for the first time with the lyrics to the song To God Be The Glory by the beloved Andrae  Crouch. 

_________________________________________________________________________________

How can I say thanks for all the things you have done for me?
Things so undeserved Yet you gave to prove your love for me.

 

And the voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude
All that I am and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the glory
To God be the glory
To God be the glory

For the things He has done. 

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Dear Eden ::: The night before we meet you

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Dear Eden ::: The night before we meet you

Monday, January 25th || Evening || 7:50 p.m. 

My Dear Eden, 

We are here, just hours away from seeing you for the first time.

Joy comes in the morning to me and that joy will always be you

Many people have asked me how I am feeling or what I am most excited about. There are so many things, but the one thing I keep thinking about is you. 

I can't wait to know you - what makes you happy, that spunky little personality they all talk about. I wonder if you love the water like your mama or can't sit still like your daddy. 

I wonder what that little, big heart of yours is feeling. I want to know everything about you.

We explored the city today, Eden. I have never loved a city more. Its filled with good people who smile so humbly, so sweetly. You come from "the land of smiles" and today we experienced that and understand the depths of what that means. 

One day I hope you look back on all I have documented and see that every path lead me to you, Eden. Every. single. one. 

It's magic, really. How God looked all over the world and brought us togetherIt's better than any fairy tale I could read to you or pen. And it's ours. Beautifully, remarkably, ours. 

Tonight I lay down and all I want you to know is...

No matter how scared or nervous you may be tomorrow or how you present yourself (or excited like the social worker told us), we will love you

No matter the darkness, you will endure through life, we will walk it with you

No matter if you steal a carton of eggs from the neighbors like your mama did , we will deal with it and let you know no matter what, you will always be ours - loved and wanted. 

And in the moments, when you succeed and make mama & daddy so proud. We will stand cheering the loudest and always be in your corner saying, "that one there, she is ours, and she is the best thing that ever happened to us." 

Because Eden, you are & you will always be - the best He gave us. You aren't a second thought or a plan B. 

You will always be our true north and when the winds blow & storms of life come (and I promise they will), I hope you always come home to me. 

So I can whisper in your ear, 

"This one here, she is mine, forever loved by me." 

See you in the morning, Eden, 

I love you, 

Mommy

What I am Listening to: 

Good, Good Father by HouseFires II 

Oh, I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone

You're a Good, Good Father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Oh, and I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching
For answers only you provide
Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You're a Good, Good Father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Cause you are perfect in all of your ways

What I am Reading: 

Romans 8, the Message \\ Daily Light 

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” - the spirit of adoption - God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18–21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming glory times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

22–25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

26–28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

29–30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

31–39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced (adopted) us.


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Adopt Shoppe Auction for Miles to Eden {{AUCTION GUIDELINES}}

Hey everyone! 

Tonight Kate from Adopt Shoppe has so graciously joined the Eden party and we will be auctioning off these beautiful Adopt Shoppe necklaces. Here is all the information you will need to join us. 

Auction Guidelines

  • Auction opens Sunday, January 10th at 7:00 pm EST on @liblo21 Instagram. 
  • To bid on a necklace, leave your PayPal email address & your bid amount in comment section. 
  • Bid in whole dollar increments only & you must tag the person you outbid .
  • Must outbid by $1.00 at least. 
  • Auction closes Monday, January 11th at 7:00 pm EST. 
  • Winners will be contacted by me (Libby) tomorrow night and will given 24 hours to pay. Please note: if not paid by the 24 hours, the second highest bid will win the necklace. 

Thank you all for your support & love as we go and get our girl. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave so in the comment section or email me at elwendland@aol.com

May the odds be ever in your favor. :) 

 

Libby

Eden's Mommy

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When you just want to be normal

I live in a city whose nickname is "Hill City". 

There are seven hills, in fact. Seven giant hills rolling from side to side as if trying to compete with San Fransisco. Not only is it hilly, but on top of the hills, we are surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Photo by my talented husband, Isaac (@isaacwendland) 

Photo by my talented husband, Isaac (@isaacwendland) 

Since moving out east, mountains & the culture it brings have thoroughly intrigued me. I have read more Appalachian literature than what is normal. Franklin County was wild, ya'll. 

Since I was born and raised in the flatlands of Iowa, I am always amazed He brought us here -    to this city on a hill. 

I was reading Matthew 5 the other day and it talks about a city on a hill saying,  

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

Last week, I was doing errands around town when I started a conversation with a lady. The conversation led on to asking if I had children.

I replied, "Yes, I have a daughter, Eden. We are in the process of adopting her from Thailand." 

The woman shocked but kindly said, "Oh, a baby girl. How wonderful! What is her age?" 

"Six since Christmas day." I said proudly. 

Silence filled the air. 

I realized then that this is the beginning of standing out. 

I walked into the house after the conservation with the woman defeated and wanting our life to just "be normal". 

"Why can't we just be normal?" I asked my husband clearly caught off-guard by my question. 

"I just sometimes want to be like everyone else and not have to explain every detail because our story is so different than most. Can't adopting a beautiful six year old, be normal?"

"Maybe there's a reason He makes us stand out, Libby." Ike nonchalantly says as if he didn't drop the biggest truth bomb I've heard all week. 

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just dream of being "normal". The kind of life where I can sit at baby showers and no one looks at me awkwardly and thinks, "Is she okay?" The kind of life where my child and me walk down the street and no one wonders why a white American woman mothers a brown Thai child. We just fit into this world and go about our business. 

But, then I read Matthew 5 and I wonder, have you put me on this hill for a reason, Lord? 

My hill is infertility. It was a hard climb, but I'm here - on top - with my light post dug into the ground as if to say, I'm not going anywhere. It has made my story take different turns and it has made me a different kind of woman. It changed my story and for that I will be forever grateful. 

I wouldn't want to be normal now because I got her. A sweet, six year old girl who calls me "mom" on a homemade video. We won't match skin colors and she won't have my freckles speckled across her nose, but she will have my heart - my whole beating heart.  

We are different. We aren't your "normal family." We are two 27 years old raising a six year old. We all have different eye colors and I promise you Eden will look better at the beach with her beautiful skin than her mom will any day. #pastey 

I am not looking to be normal, I am looking to be His. 

And maybe I'm here - on this city on a hill - to not just be different but make a difference. Just maybe I am here to show people a new kind of story, a story where a God comes in and takes the pen & I stop writing my American Dream novel & He writes His glory in redeeming red. Just maybe it is to showcase Emmanuel - God with us - in a world whose eyes want to forget to see a very present God. And maybe we were made to stand out to show people, loving is so much bigger, wider, and deeper than any skin color, race, or bloodline. Love makes a family

So, what is your hill today, friend? You struggling with something - anxiety, depression, infertility? Are you a single mom or dad? Divorced and broken? 

I am not saying that any of those terrible things are His doings, but what I am saying is maybe you should climb that hill, stick a light in it, and tell people a new kind of story. 

A story that says, "I don't know how a 27 year old white woman got so lucky to be her mama, but I did, and I am going to tell the whole world the miracle that is my Eden."

So, I am standing on this hill with my little flickering light, and praying He receives some glory for a new kind of storyline.  

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When Hope called

Eugene, Oregon. 

I love that city. It might be my favorite city in the whole world this week.

(Charleston, do not worry, we know the truth.)

I knew when my phone would ring & it said the location -  Eugene, Oregon -  It would be the call that changed everything. 

Do you ever wait for something for so long & wonder if it will really happen? I knew someday we would get Eden, but after all these months of waiting, sometimes it seemed to far to reach like it wasn't in my grasp. 

Then the phone call came. 

I was high on medicine to help with my strep throat & used two full boxes of Kleenexes before it rang. 

I didn't make sense on the phone as I was half-asleep from the meds, but then I heard: 

"Libby, I have really good news. IT'S HERE! IT'S HERE!"

"What?! When did it get approved?"

_______________________________________________________________________________

Have you ever had to live in hope for awhile? 

The kind of hope that sees even when the world has gone completely dark. 

A hope that keeps telling you to keep going even though disappointments keep fedexing themselves up to your door step and needing your own blood's signature. 

hope. 

It's not flashy, it's small. It whispers like a small child taking your hand saying, "This is not the end." 

Most of the time hope is not loud but dim like a candlelit room covered in darkness. Many don't desire the dark, but if they only knew hope is seen most visible in the night.

Ike & I were sitting in our childhood church. Each Sunday night for as long as I remember, it is known as a night of testimonies. My father's church still believes that healing can take place in speaking broken moments to new and familiar faces. I wonder if the world will ever understand the power of story. The healing of prose & the spoken word. Forever I will tell my story because it was the art of story that healed me. 

 My dad asked if I would share something before the service. I was scared to speak because I'm a different person now. I wonder if I will ever be able to speak of all He has done without fear of crying. I wonder if I will ever get over the amount the vulnerability it takes to share our story because death and resurrection had both called my name this year. I've seen the power of His healing touch, but I also remember my own weakness & pain. I have been branded for life and I will always hold death and resurrection in both of my hands. 

So, I did what any good daughter would do. I started talking. 

"I'm thankful for hope", I said in my cracked voice. 

"When disappointments come, it can be hard to keep hope alive. I am thankful my sister told me once, 'We do not know the 1,000 of things God is doing for us right now in our present moment. He is moving in ways we cannot know. Praise Him now. Get your hopes up now. He is doing more than you could ever dare to dream or believe." 

I cried like a fool in front of the congregation. I cried because I knew the depth and strength it takes to hold on to that kind of hope. Sometimes hope is all we have. It flickers in complete darkness whispering, this is not the end. 

I had a small flicker of hope when in October I heard we might have the possibility of being approved in the month of November to go and get Eden. It was stated over the phone & I didn't want to tell anyone. I wanted to hold onto it myself because what if it never came true? what if I had to explain to others that once again we were disappointed? 

It is so hard to get your hopes up, when you have been fed bad news for a couple of years. Fear becomes the appetite and it craves isolation. I decided then I was going to remain quiet about the possible news of approval in November. I must admit, I have a hard time letting the church be the church.  Pride makes me feel scared to let others hold me up from time to time. 

I don't know what happened but one day hope found me & it made me hungry for something new. I decided to start an e-mail newsletter for Eden. I was going to ask people who loved Eden to pray about anything I felt God wanting me to pray for her. I was going to let the church be the church for me. They would be strong enough if disappointments came and strong enough to celebrate our good news. 

We started it with 150 people that soon moved to 200 + people who received her cutesy pictures & random stories that her mama tells. The end of each e-mail were a list of prayer requests to pray for Eden girl. Hope let me share

This week on November 18th (my birthday), the Thai government will be getting together to approve court dates for adoptive families. Once we get this approval, we can fly to Thailand to get our girl. We are supposed to get this call between November - February. We are praying they will approve ours on this date. We would appreciate your prayers during this time.
— Eden Fangirl E-mail Edition #2

 

The e-mails I received back from people were from all over saying: we are praying for your girl, Libby. 

Fear started moving out. Hope started shipping it's audacious boxes to my house and filled each room with new thoughts & dreams. It could really happen. We might have her by spring. 

One e-mail would say. "I have a great feeling about this appointment coming up!" H O P E. 

The next would say, "God is with you. Who can be against you?" H O P E

I was sent songs - so many songs - that would flood our house with  H O P E.

Hope - it is a brave act. It is a holy discipline. Fear can move it out, but the only way I know to invite hope back in is to trust this isn't the end.  
He has something up His sleeve. He doesn't end His stories with ashes. 
If it is bad now... this must be the climax of the story. Every author knows the resolution comes after the climax. It is what makes a good story. My story isn't finished. 
__________________________________________________________________
Hope called my name that week & soon it called my number. 

We got the call & it showed me how small I know  the character of who He is. 

We were told during the phone call that the adoption was approved on November 4th but found soon after there had been a mistake about the approval date. 

What is the actual date then?  November 18th. My 27th birthday. 

And just like that He whispers again, "I have this, Mama." 

I am reminded darkness is not sown for us, light is. 

If it is dark outside right now, friend, start playing with matches.

Start a spark. It isn't over. This is not the end of your story. 

Give hope a chance to change the story's ending. 

I am here if you need me. 

Lets get our hopes up together. 

 

 

/// If you want to join the EDEN FANGIRL E-MAIL CLUB, please leave your e-mail in the comments section.  E-mails are sent every two weeks on Sunday night or whenever Eden's mama sends it. Disclaimer:: She is extremely pretty & might make you gasp\AWWWE. ////

 

 

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OutofSortsBook synchroblog

Previously featured:: Be Brave Series && Girls Using Their Own Strengths

http://www.kbirkeland.com/2015/09/be-brave-series-glory-days-by-libby/

http://girlsusingtheirstrengths.com/glory-days/

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Not Pregnant. 

The small words blared from the pregnancy test as if they were the latest headlines blasting through Times Square.

This was it. I was done. For more than two years of tediously checking to see if I was pregnant and yet again the news came as if to provoke me in my trying: not pregnant.

I decided then that I wanted to skip the “The Baby Making Years”.

You remember don’t you? The years when all your friends become pregnant and think of really darling ways to post their announcements of their upcoming blessing. The years when your social media is covered with sweet little chubby cheeks and monthly baby updates.

I was ready to click the skip button and move into my retirement years.

I believed those were my glory days.

Those were the days Rhianna would sing over me “Shine Bright Like a Diamond” and I would be ready to rock.

I speak so openly about my infertility diagnosis because at one time I couldn’t speak about it. The hurt was too deep. I was mortified to let anyone know of the deep shame I was carrying with infertility. Everyone around me kept talking about their blessings from God and I wondered, “Did I do something to miss the blessing?”

I used to believe that damaging mindset.

If I do ______________, God will do _____________.

I dominated that formula. I was “good” & God was good. We made this great team. But, when God didn’t give me what I wanted I didn’t know how to rub the genie bottle harder or pray louder, or live better. My formula crashed & I was left with just God.

And in my darkest moments, I had to ask myself, “Was He enough for me?”

Dear friend, can I tell you that when you come to your greatest disappointment in life that it could be the avenue to your divine appointment?

It was for me and I would relive every hellish day over again just to find Him.

No formulas, no religion, just Jesus.

One of the bravest thing we can ever do is trust Him with our greatest disappointments. It is brave to give Him your heart when all the pieces have been shattered, but I have learned you have to touch the broken pieces to be made whole again.

I have seen that if God would have met my every expectation, He could never surpass them.

I woke this morning – still in Baby Making Years – and you know what I know now?

I’m in my glory days.

I have seen that sometimes disappointment come to showcase the glory of our good Father.

He has been found through no formula or rubbing the genie bottle of religion, but through a broken heart & shattered dreams. His glory came with a crown of thorns.

I see a perfect picture hanging proudly of my daughter, Eden, on our living room wall. There in the dim light, you see her smile as she holds a picture of me and her daddy the first time she “met” us at four years old. That’s my Eden – my daughter who introduced me to Jesus during my years of waiting for her arrival.

He was planning something for me better than I could have ever imagined. Eden proves to me that no story ends in ashes with a good Father like mine.

Yet will we be brave enough to hand over the pen of our story and say,

“Okay, God, you can have this _________, now show your glory.

 

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27

I drove by a large, paint-chipped sign on the high way.

Its haunting, red lettering looked as if it was shouting at me while I drove my little Honda with my hot coffee in hand.

“DON’T LOOK BACK. YOU’LL MISS WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU.”

Don't look back. 

It's an anthem we all hear. 

The world shouts: 

Leave those people behind that will not help you, who have hurt you…”


”Forget the past. Move forward.

And I am flying down the interstate as if to say: Take that, world. I'm moving ahead.

Yet, I can't help but keep looking back in my rear-view mirror while glimpses of my past flicker in front of me like an old horror film, my parents told me not to watch.

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I turned 27 yesterday. 

For the first time in my life I finally feel my age.

My smile deeper from many late nights with girlfriends & laughter that leaves deep imprints on the face and soul.

My voice not as scared to speak because I found it and am not willing to let it go. 

Welcome, 27, & thank you for these great, many years.

My life is beautiful. 

What a ride it took to get here in this moment with you, 27. I've been on a journey. I've seen some things now. I'm still learning about myself and who I really am --- like how for the first time in my life I like red onions on my salad. I am living proof people can change their ways. Yet, I am still the young girl who once believed the world was her oyster.

Here I sit in my Honda moving forward with my coffee in hand. The coffee that I finally know how to order after all these years at Starbucks wondering if I had commitment issues or decision making problems. I finally found my favorite blend. Thank you, 27, because at 22, I was still wondering if I would ever find my coffee soul mate or keep running off with Chai Tea during the weekends. I am so glad we found each other.

I want to move forward. I do. I have big plans. I am not just creating a savings account for my trip to Bali with Isaac during our retirement years, but I want to create a life. A life that is not about who I know or how much I have, but how I made people feel around me. A life centered around wholeness. A life that lost itself in loving the rich, the in-betweeners, + the poor. A life that seeks to find my own voice + speak it bravely untainted by others. A life that learns the art of loving one man all the days of my life + the joy of creating a life together. A life that shows my daughter what it means to be a strong, kind, independent woman in a world where it seems, women are just told to become a  pretty face + not a brilliant mind filled with ideas + passions.  A life that honors the legacy that has been passed down to me from the generations of the great love I come from.

Oh, I have plans, 27. I do.

But, for some reason I can't help but keep looking back at my rear-view mirror, remembering my previous years. I pull out my past like an old, worn friend wanting to have a late night chat about our scars + triumphs. As I pull, memories race through my mind - the ones I wish never happened, the remarks that sting, or the times where I failed. They pop out like ghosts on Halloween night searching to scare me in my own discovery. But, then I look in my rear-view mirror once again + the past speaks kinder now:

Remember the mountains we have crossed?

Remember the wild places. The unexpected turns + paths we took together? The places that showed beauty - a new beauty- you would have never known or understood had the wild places not brought you.

Remember the years that brought you here: the mistakes, the unpredicted loopholes, the monsters that turned out to be just trees + the friends you found yourself in those mountains with. The friends that taught you the redeeming song you now sing.

Remember the past. Live in it awhile. Let it marinate the blood that flows through your veins. You know why? 

You made it through.

The scars you wear are a badge to say to the world:

This is my story + I fought recklessly for it.

You reached the tops of some mountains with bloody knees + a new famous limp, but you conquered it. You were stronger than you ever dared to believe.

Look back and see the mountains you crossed. The fear that was smaller than the bravery infested in your bones

I pull the car over + I look back a good, long while. I am not afraid of looking back or looking ahead any more. This is my story. I've gained strength + wisdom in secret places.  It's filled with adventure + a character who grew. All the turns brought me here. 

The past is not to be a voice that haunts, but rather the script we all read and shout:

Look at the mountains we have crossed.

Here's to you, 27. Look how far we've come.

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She Called Me Mom by Libby

She opened our gift with such timidity.

Her little hands & crooked smile paved the way into the gallon size Ziploc bag that is required by our agency's standards.  

My eyes watched her every move through the computer screen and when her little brown eyes saw our picture - she smiled.

The social worker spoke in Thai to ask her, "who is that?"

And with a smile and tender eyes, she said, "My mom."

My mom.

Mom.

When I say that word, an image flashes into your mind.

Maybe it's a beautiful image - an image of magic like the picnic she took you on in 4th grade.

Maybe it's a painful image - an image of fighting and loud screams.

Maybe it's the memory of seeing your child for the first time & the euphoric moment of knowing, he is mine. 

Maybe it's an image of loss - if only you could talk to her again.

Or maybe it's an image of procedures & doctor's appointments and moments that seem like the word mother drifts further and further from you. 

Maybe it's months of prayers & tears or months of hopes & dreams. 

Mother

I know mothering will be hard. There will be tantrums and hurt feelings. Sleepless nights & worried prayers. 

Yet, I will never forget how I got that title - Mommy.

The journey to my Eden- what a ride. 

But, I got here...

She called me Mama.

And I wonder- what will she feel like when she hears the word Mother years down the road?

Will she think of loss, abandonment, or  pain?

Possibly. 

But, I pray she thinks of me. I pray she remembers magic, silliness, &  kind words to daddy. I pray she remembers a million kisses and bedtime stories & many hugs. I pray when the word "mother" comes up - there will be light in her eyes and scars bandaged good with my love. 

Now when I hear the word mother, I see my Eden. My heart explodes at the thought of on my 27th year of life, I get to receive the title of an active mama. The year, Daddy, Eden, & I will be together. The year of mothering

She called me mom.

I've been labeled many things in my twenty-seven years of life,

Then she walks in and all else fades because she calls me mom.

 

Eden's Mommy

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