Thursday, December 3, 2015

Advent 2015

I can't believe December is here!!!  I always struggle with things at the first of each month because I don't look ahead on my calendar until it's time to flip it over.  If your birthday is on the first or I have a meeting, appointment, or basically anything scheduled there is a chance I'll miss it or at least be late! LOL!

So Advent.  The waiting for our Savior's birth.  I try to make time to be still and not let the hustle and bustle steal my joy.  I love If:Equip emails that get sent to my phone every morning.   I try to be intentional with my kids and focus on the giver and not the gifts.  I put effort into reigning myself in when I start getting wound a little too tight over not making every single second of every single day in December a magical winter wonderland.  All of this takes a lot of work!

I am not a hater of Pinterest.  I am not a hater of seeing what everyone else is doing this month on Facebook or Instagram.  This is where most (ok, all) of my crafty, fun inspiration comes from.  But during Christmas time, I know myself.  I want to do ALL the things. Then my focus becomes buying supplies, setting things up to look perfect, making fancy food, staying up into the wee hours putting glitter on stuff, apologizing to my husband for all the glitter, etc.  Then when something doesn't go well, gets broken, causes a huge argument, or just doesn't get the reaction I was hoping for I'm disappointed.

Insert solution.  Simplification. Here is what we're doing for advent.  It's a paper chain count down to Christmas with simple activities.  I didn't think of them.  I just printed, cut, and taped.  Eating sweets, spending time together, thinking of others, and having fun are all included so for me that's a win.  We have no special bible reading plan.  We're just reading through the bible we use for school.  Is it lazy? Perhaps.  Will all the activities be a hit? Certainly not.  But, it's given me some freedom from my self imposed chains of being "that mom".  I know moms like to talk about how we're not striving for "that mom" status anymore, but in my heart of hearts I still struggle with this.  Even in the age of #keepingitreal and #sorrynotsorry.  We only get so many years with our kids, and so many Christmases so when I think of that the pressure mounts.  With that truth in mind, I am praying for the peace and security to keep it simple. I don't want to waste my days being a crazy psychopath fighting people in Wal-mart for the last can of glitter spray.

If advent and family fun are in your wheel house go for it!  I know every mom doesn't lose her Christmas spirit while planning awesome things for their kids. Some people are organized and look ahead in their calendars!  I'm proud of you and you inspire me. I'm just not wired that way and being okay with that takes some effort.

Maybe with the race to make my kids have a great Christmas season under control I can focus on what really matters.  CHRIST came for US!  He dwelt among the ones who hung him on the cross.  Let that sink in.  His love is just too much.  What are your advent plans?  Does your family have a solid tradition you do every year or do you wing it as you go?  Tell me and I promise not to copy it and try and force it upon my family!

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Burt Family Bash 2015

Nov. 18th, 2014 Josh and I were in Ethiopia and the judge said, "Congratulations, you have a son!"  We passed court and Grayson was officially a Burt!

Holding Grayson at the Orphanage

Some families do a "Gotcha Day" celebration where they celebrate the day they brought their adopted child home.  For us, we decided to do this a little bit different.  For one, Grayson actually came home a month later on December 21st.  (The Ethiopian adoption process includes two trip; one to pass court with the Ethiopian government and another to get his visa from the US embassy). 
Grayson's first birthday was December 23rd.  Josh's birthday is on Christmas Eve, and then there was Christmas.  

With all of that in mind, we didn't want to lose this special day in the midst of all the other celebrations.  And He was technically ours in November, even though he was mine the minute I saw his face!!

We opted out of the "Gotcha Day" title as well.   Adoption is beautiful, but also sad.  We don't want Grayson to ever feel like he has to be happy about the fact he lost his first family.  Putting the focus on solely him may make him feel that pressure, or make our other kids feel not as important.  We wanted this day to be a day that we celebrate annually and the focus to be family unity and reflection on all the the Lord has done for us that year.  And so we named it Burt Family Bash!

We made Yemarina Yewotet Dabo (Ethiopian honey bread) for our Ethiopian dinner. Recipe here

Doro tibs , Mesir Wat, Tikel Gomen, Injera (from Meskerem in St. Louis)
We had a big Ethiopian meal and I cooked all of it but the injera!  The doro tibs (chicken) and tikel gomen (cabbage dish) were great!  The mesir wat (red lentils) was not the best so I didn't link a recipe.  If you have a recipe that you love please share it with me in the comments! The kids loved the honey bread best!

After dinner we headed to Bounce U for some fun!  We are all at great ages for a bounce house so that's what we chose, but if you wanted to celebrate your family (adoptive or not)  pick something you all would love!  I can't wait until they are all old enough to go to the indoor rock climbing place or play dodge ball at Sky Zone!  The possibilities are endless!

We ended the night with Dairy Queen Blizzards and an attempt to send up floating lanterns.  Blizzards yes.  Lanterns no.  The wind was not our friend and we didn't want to catch anyone's house on fire so that was a bust.  
Photo taken before the paper caught on fire and Josh had to stomp it out in the street!

We did get to pray and thank God for everything he's done for us this year.  We prayed for each child individually and for Grayson's birth mother. We prayed for our marriage and asked God to help us follow Him in the year to come.  It was a great way to end our celebration and remind all of us that our God is so good and faithful!

After the day was over my heart was so full.  This is not something only for adoptive families.  I would encourage anyone to pick a day (maybe in the summer when it's nicer out!) and celebrate.  Focus on loving each other well, just as you are.  Pray blessings over your kids.  Tell each other how you feel and praise God for all your gifts.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Humility is Always the Right Choice

The somberness that fills the air and the hushed tones in which people speak of "our world today" brings a stillness.  Initially there is fear and questions of, "What are we going to do?"  It's okay to be afraid... for a moment.  The sin only comes in when you live with the fear.  When you tuck yourself into bed at night with it.  When you let fear over-rule what God's word says.

                         "He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.'"
2 Kings 6:16

That's all we need to know.  Our emotions aren't trustworthy in times like this.

The internet does not need more opinions, so I will share one of my favorite posts on the refugee crisis and ISIS here .  My friend Lindsay draws beautiful parallels between Saul and Paul; ISIS and our once enemy souls that Christ purchased with His blood.  Go read it.  Like, right now!

Approach life with humility and take hold of this real truth; It's only by God's grace that I was born in the United States and not into poverty and war. Things get a lot more simple. Now we know what to do.

 Read the bible.  See what God's word says about the foreigner.

"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God." NASV
Lev. 19:34

Pray.  Let's fight our part of this war on our knees because the God of angel armies can do far more than any man made army ever could. I'm not saying force is not needed, but I'm not educated well enough to speak extensively to this.  Prayer is my battleground.

Love.  Love remains forever. Souls remain forever.  Invest your energy in these things instead of fear.  People who are not hateful are taught to hate by fear.  It's not of God.

 "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control." ESV
2 Tim. 1:7

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Reflection on Orphan Sunday

Both Orphan Sunday and National Adoption Day have passed this week.  These days have had my heart tangled up.  Happy, devastatingly sad, grateful, motivated, discouraged; and the list goes on. In an effort to make sense of it all I'm reviving the blog!

 This time last year I felt as if I couldn't get any lower.  We were matched with our son in May, but experienced delay after delay.  Trials came as we tried to make sure we had enough to cover travel expenses and additional fees.  Some fees we didn't even know to plan for, but that tends to happen when your adoption process approaches the three year mark...

Next came setbacks in our son's health.  He was "failing to thrive" all the while his family was also "failing to thrive" as we ached for him to come home.  We were told he was hospitalized and then released two weeks later. However, while in Ethiopia we learned he was actually hospitalized for three month.  Three months.  I thought he needed me, that I was the answer.  If only they would let me travel he would be okay.  But, that wasn't the case; he needed his father.  His heavenly father was there all the time.  Before the hospital, before we were matched, before his birth mother's belly swelled with new life; God had been there. And we got to see it; but not yet.

As so, if this wasn't enough to make a mother crazy, our case was delayed over an incorrect phone number.  Two little numbers had been transposed and so our case was unable to move forward with preliminary hearings, the last step before we could receive a court date and go meet our son.  This is where I found myself last Orphan Sunday.

My social media feeds filled to the brim advocating for children.  Posts of thanksgiving, calls to action, and beautiful pictures filled my spare moments. And as I scrolled and read I started to crack.  Slowly the pain would fill my chest and then one of my girls would need me and I'd shove the hurt down and move on.  Tears would well up as I absentmindedly folded laundry and wondered, "When, oh Lord, will you let this end.  What if he never comes home?  How will my family recover if this all falls apart?  God you have to give this little boy a family.  He deserves a family!"  By the end of the day I was so drained.  I cried hot, ugly tears.  My stomach churned as my chest heaved.  No breath left to breath.  The only thing to do was sit with God in the darkness and repeat, "Joy comes in the morning."

Those weeks right before we finally received our court date, were some of the darkest I've experienced.  And yet, here I am.  God and I have another faith story in our book.  He showed up.  My mind always knew He would, but my heart wavered (alot!).  It is so sweet when God allows us to look at our valley from the mountain top.

Because of last Orphan Sunday, I can face this one.  I have my tangible, living, breathing, running, playing testament that my God is faithful.  He sees me and every orphan.  He knows just what we need and what it takes to draw us near.  I may get frustrated that not everyone has a passion for orphan care. I'm angry that the statistics on Christians and foster children don't add up, but I know my God is faithful. I want to start ministries and adopt all the children, but I know my God is sovereign.  Past memories may make me sad, but if I follow the story to the end I have so many more reasons to be glad.

The brokenness of this world is enough to send you to your bed, paralyzed by the enormity of the work that needs to be done.  But through Christ we are all equipped to do every good work that He predestined for us before the beginning of time.  Don't be afraid of the pain. We can survive pain.  Be afraid of missing out on God's calling for your life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November Update....

Sorry this is so late, but then again, I'm always late so maybe this would be considered on time? Anyway, we are still holding steady at #7 on our adoption agency's wait list. During this season of Thanksgiving I am still struggling, but for today I'm choosing to be thankful.  It helps I got to go to a MOPS meeting this morning and have fellowship with so many sweet women! I am blessed by their hearts for the Lord and individual personalities.  I'm sure most of them don't even know God is using them to lift my spirits but he is!  He is so good to do that when most of the time I am an ungrateful mess.  Pity parties abound, but in His love for me he shows me I'm not alone. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Brother Got Hitched!

October 26, 2013 my brother Chuck married my new sister-in-law Kim! I only have a few pics since the girls and I were both in the wedding, but here you go! Kim looked beautiful and my brother is very happy.  He swears he didn't tear up when he saw her coming down the aisle, but I disagree : )  I'm thankful that Kim is "officially" part of our family!  Camy and Hadley LOVED being flower girls and Will looked so handsome in his little tux.  It was a great day!  I pray that God blessed their marriage and hopefully provides many more nieces and nephews for me, lol!  I love you both!

 The beautiful bride before the ceremony
True Love! 
The first dance 
 The beautiful couple
 These two have been through a lot together.  A very sweet moment
 The kids huddled up
 Pretty little flower girls!

 The kids danced the night away! Hadley would not hold still for a picture!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall is Upon Us!

This is our first Fall in Missouri so we are making new family traditions and finding some cool stuff to do! We went to Ekhart's Farm and picked apples, rode animals, few animals, rode rides, and played. We all had a great time! We even got to put our car on a ferry boat to get there! I'm happy to be making memories with our family here :)
The girls helping chop apples to make homemade applesauce from the tons of apples we picked!
This made the house smell so good!

Riding the Ferry over the Mississippi River!

Camy loves this giant squash!
My big girl picking apples
My world
Riding rides together 
Hadley riding the pony like a champ
Camy picked the camel
So pretty!
Team work
The ultimate tire swing!