Dying Grace

Not along after our Warner was born and then went to be with the Lord, John posted this to Facebook:

“My pastor always says God only gives dying grace on dying days, that is so true. We mourn but not as those with no hope. Today I met my son, today my son met Jesus. All in all a good day.”

Those words still give me chills. Every word he typed was incredibly raw in the moments following Warner’s death. I think those words bring such an emotion out of me because they couldn’t be truer. The Lord really did walk so close the days leading up in preparing our hearts and through Warner’s death and afterwards.

This past weekend we’ve been working on one of the adoption papers that I have intentionally put off as long as I could. The medical and special needs form declaring what needs we are comfortable to adopt. It’s a very strange situation to be presented with a checklist knowing that each box represents children waiting for families. No child was given a checklist of the needs they wanted to inherit or to decide to become an orphan. So, to be on the other end and make decisions that seem so unfair is a very draining process.

I spent a lot of the weekend heavy with the weight of a few conditions that we felt we could check “yes” on but trying to make sure that was the correct decision. We decided to table it for now and pray for the right leading. We are still praying, discussing, and researching. And, that’s when the Lord has really begun to work on my own heart and remind me of that dying grace.

Our pastor this weekend shared from Philippians 3 and went on to close out his sermon talking about this idea of dying grace. How grace is transformative and the Lord makes grace what it needs to be when it needs to be it. And, not a moment before. He’s there in the trenches and doesn’t abandon us when we need Him. When we share His sufferings, we get to know the power of His resurrection.

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” -Philippians‬ ‭3:10-11‬

We are still praying and trusting that the Lord already knows our child’s needs. And, no matter how simple or complex, that same dying grace that held us together during Warner’s life will hold us together as we navigate a treatment plan for our child. It really is quite an amazing grace

{If you would like to financially support our adoption, you can do so here: paypal.me/jenlynnphillips}

{If you would like to follow our adoption journey on Facebook, you can do so here: Facebook.com/PhillipsIndiaAdoption}

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Our Adoption FAQ’s

Where? We are adopting from India! Our agency works all over the country with many different orphanages in many different states. So, we won’t know exactly where in the country until we’re matched with our child.

What agency? America World Adoption Agency. This wasn’t an easy decision. But, after a whole lot of prayer and then a whole lot of confirmation from the Lord, this is the agency He had for us.

Who? We will be adopting a boy or a girl that has a medical need. That’s such a broad thing to say. The needs range and we’ll get to more specifics of what we’re comfortable adopting later down the process. But, in general, God has done such a work in our lives. Our child didn’t get the option of checking a box on whether they would be born with a medical condition or not. So, why should we be able to turn our backs on a situation that may be a little different? We will work more with our caseworker and pediatrician down the road on what needs we are best equipped to care for in our family.

How old? Likely younger than Jed. We definitely want to keep with birth order with the girls. We’re a little more lax about Jed’s birth order. But, generally, in the past, India has liked to retain birth order. So, likely, that’s how it’ll work out and we’re great with that!

When? India seems to be showing shorter wait times after changing some regulations last year. The general timeline that’s still given is 18-24mos. My prayer is home by the beginning of next summer or even sooner. I would love to have next summer with the girls home from school and all four kids home to work on bonding.

Why India? India has always been in the back of our minds whenever we’ve talked about adopting one day. Honestly, I can’t even fully explain why other than the Lord and now I believe our child is there. We prayed through some other options. But, India still had our hearts. And, once we discovered they only adopt a child with medical needs (under the age of 5) to foreigners and that they liked to retain birth order, it just felt like an exact fit to what we were feeling led by God to do. And, after more research we discovered that India has more orphans than any other country in the world. Over 30 million orphans in India alone.

How’re you paying for it all? Good question. I don’t know. Haha! This is a HUGE step of faith for me and one that I know God has been crystal clear on for us to take. Looking on paper, it doesn’t add up to be able to afford a $35,000 adoption. But, all I know is that God called us to it and He will provide. In the meantime, we are praying a whole lot and doing all we can. John is taking on side projects (video, web, and graphics), we’re selling some things from around the house, I’m cranking out as many sewing/embroidery/crafting projects as I can to sell, and we’ll be doing some fundraisers {Check out our first one here: https://www.bonfirefunds.com/phillips-india-adoption} So, in short, if God doesn’t pull through, we’re sunk. But, I’m {surprisingly and can only be Jesus} at peace because I know He will pull through.

Those are all of the common questions I can think of for now! Thank you all supporting us enough to want to know more!

10 Things While My Baby Daddy was Gone for a Week

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John was out of town for five nights this past week. The longest trip since Jed has been born. I get it that other Mama’s have husbands gone much longer than me. And, let me just say, I’d rather give into the back-in-style-high-waisted Mom shorts rather than have him gone more. So, since I’m drinking ALL the coffee and still trying to recover, I only have energy for a brief top ten synopsis of my five nights alone with a 4 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old.

10) Leaving the airport, I totally thought I had it all figured out. “Oh, I got this.” YOU SO DUMB. One of them is asleep! You pacified the 4 year old with a sip of soda to stop the wailing of Daddy leaving! (You should buy more soda to try that trick again later) They’re strapped in the car seats, so they can’t go anywhere! It’s sweet to think that you’ve already got made…

9) By the time I get home, I had the big kids play outside. There were pooped panties. It was gross. I thought it was my worst poop situation of the week. I was wrong.

8) A {very} newly potty trained 3 year old can poop on the floor of her bedroom and use her feces to paint her wall in the time it takes for me to eat a fast lunch. Yes. Feces painted on the wall. If I could go back in time, I’d either potty train a year ago or just never.

7) Sometimes you ugly cry with a roll of paper towels in your hand, multiple disinfecting items at your feet, poop surrounding you, and drawings on the wall with poop that must resemble early caveman drawings. The 4 year old might say “Oh. Mommy’s crying.” But, not long after go back to general mayhem. The tears might get stronger.

6) You might think poop on the walls could be the only possible thing to induce tears that day. Well, you would be sorely wrong. In the time it takes to send a few text messages, the 3 year old can flush 5 brand new head wraps down the toilet. Miraculously, the cheapest toilet at Lowe’s won’t clog. It’s like the toilet knew John was gone and decided to cut the house some slack.

5) The second ugly cry of the day will cause the children to realize that, in fact, they have broken me. The 3 year old will sweetly say, “Oh, Mommy, don’t cry”. But, the 4 year old will turn on her, complete with actual finger pointing “You made Mommy cry! You flushed the bows!” Both of their Little personalities in crisis mode. Bless.

4) Chipotle is crazy crowded at 12:30pm on a Thursday when it’s your final day to care for the brood. But, thankfully, Angus Jack is not by 1pm. But, as soon as everyone gets settled and the baby finally sleeps, everyone will have to put the circus in the bathroom because the newly potty trained one has to go potty NOW. Instead of “Hold it because otherwise the food will get cold”, I wanted to avoid a bullet point number 8 in a public place, and traipsed to the bathroom.

3) Sometimes, two middle aged women will just stare at me while I take my three kids by myself to lunch at Mama Fu’s. They got a tad bit snarky with “Oh. You’ve got your hands full”. But, I was too tired to respond with my normal “Yes. Full of good things!” And, instead of giving the snark back, I smiled. I should’ve gotten some free edamame for that restraint. Or, maybe my prize was eating out for half of the meals while John was gone because WHO CAN DEAL WITH MEAL PREP IN CRISIS MODE?

2) Trying to take my first pictures for What I Wore while the photog husband is gone and the Littles run amuck? Awkward selfies.

1) I survived! And, more than survived, I actually thrived. These kids are the ones I’ve longed for since I was a kid myself. While I definitely love the fact that John and I parent as a team, I’m glad to know that Jesus will give me exactly what I need when I need it for these Littles

Six Months

Six months ago, my water had broken and it was time to welcome Little Man. It was the first {full term} time that I was in tears and not sure if I could do it. Anxiety, sadness, and fear threatened to choke the joy I didn’t even know was coming.

What if I didn’t bond with him over a fear of losing him, too? What if something does happen and we lose him? Will I keep checking the clock for the 45 minute marker after he’s born? What if each contraction pain reminds me of the last time I dealt with labor pains? 

Those were some of the questions plus many more that I had during Jed’s pregnancy. And, they all seemed to rush over my mind at 2am on a Tuesday morning. How would I walk back into a delivery room when I know what it’s like to walk out of one without your baby?

A friend came over to watch the girls and I bet she’s never seen such an unsure mother walking out the door to head to the hospital. Especially for a mother that’s birthed three before that night. But, we did what we could and snapped an awkward picture of myself before heading to the hospital. One of the very few pictures I even have to document our rainbow baby’s pregnancy.

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It was cold outside, but not too cold. The 20 minute drive to our chosen hospital was a bit surreal and then we were at the emergency room entrance {after hours entrance for L&D}. After a few contractions and some paperwork in triage, we were up to the room that I had feared for nine months. The room that held the ushering in of new life and our family’s next phase.

My admitting nurse would be off her shift very soon, but not before I cried all of the tears. Bless her soul, she seemed fairly new at her job and unsure how to handle a Mama that wasn’t decided if she could birth this baby without a broken heart. But, time marched on, as it always does, and the superstar nurse that would all but deliver our Jedidiah arrived.

She calmed me each time Jed’s heart rate dropped, which was quite a few times {and, the first time for this Mama to experience it at any of my births}. She explained and smiled and encouraged. She didn’t seem at all thrown by my obvious discomfort. And, discomfort of the body, any labor nurse is familiar. But, a discomfort deep down and beyond any explanation, takes a person placed by the Lord to be able to walk with a stranger.

I flipped through “Jed’s Birth Book” as I called it and read the Scriptures. God gave us many verses in our time with Him and God used others to give us even more. I spent the last couple of weeks before Jed’s birthday hand-making each page that I would flip through while he was about to enter a hurting family.

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John and I prayed over that room, those nurses, the doctor, and our baby. I would stop during a contraction and John would pick right up and continue praying. I’m not sure I’ve ever begged God for peace like I did that day. And, He brought it. Everything seemed to shift and we knew we had limited time until our lives would change forever. Again.

Four hours later, things got intense. Sweet nurse perfectly placed stays calm and declares that it’s time to have a baby. There was no time to wait for a doctor. Lots of nurses screaming for anyone that could come in and help. A heartbeat barely detected on a monitor, oxygen masks flying on, and lots of hard pushing. Everyone begins to look worried and I had a flash of “it’s happening again”. But, God is good and brings a deep peace that only He can. Doctor runs in just on time, and Jed is out. Sunny side up and out at an angle. But, out.

Is he okay?!” There was nothing else to scream.

Then, Little Man peed everywhere and everyone laughed. But, me.

Is. he. o.kay.?

Then, baby cries…what every Mom looks for to know that her baby is okay. Screams and cries and all is well with the world.

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I have never been so bonded so fast after having one of my babies. By the grace of God and the answer to many prayers, Jedidiah John was born to a Mama that was deeply in love with him. In the moments following his birth, he brought joy into a family that had been full of intense sorrow.

There may have never been a more scared Mama that entered that hospital room. But, there may have never been a more deeply grateful Mama that left that room.

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For the last six months, Jed has given everyone in our family a renewed sense of God’s faithfulness. God was good in the really bad. And, He’s been good in the really good. I rarely set Jed down and I don’t care how anyone {outside of our little family} feels about it. Jedidiah is one of our gifts of joy in the sorrow. He won’t always want to snuggle and while he does, I’m not putting that baby out of my arms.

And, what’s even better? While I snuggle him, his Daddy and sisters come in even closer. We all want a part of the gift that is Jed and for a few moments every day, it’s as though the world isn’t broken. God has taken the time to bring some beauty from ashes, this side of Heaven. And, we’ll spend the next six months continuing to marvel at how every single good gift is from Him.

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Birds

IMG_9999Okay, I’m always trying to make some kind of special moment with the kids. Before I became a parent, I was the best parent. Like, I was AWESOME. My kids never talked back. They went to sleep promptly at their bedtime. We played educational games. We never watched TV. And, we only ever ate the healthiest of food.

Imaginary kids are so easy.

Now that we all see where I’m headed with this post, I shall give you the latest and greatest of my “precious moments” parenting….

Apparently this is like bird birthing season because we have two nests at our house right now and I see another at the neighbors. Well, the one in the backyard was conveniently built on top of the fireplace exhaust (is that even what it’s called? BEATS ME. I’m from Florida). But, whatever it is, it gets hot when the fireplace is on. So, to avoid accidental scrambled eggs, we’ve been diligent to make sure that loose-hands-Charlotte isn’t allowed near the fireplace switch.
OKAY, TRUTH POLICE! Charlotte flipped the switch on once. But, John {believes} he caught it pretty quick.

Each time we’ve gone in the backyard, we check on the nest. It has been my “I’m rocking this parenting thing. I’m all, check out this nature. Check out life. Let’s observe and learn and cherish this together“.

Why do I think these things?

The girls have been super into it. {okay, okay, other than the very initial discovery and we tried to lift Ella up to look at the nest and she screamed as those we were lifting her up into her demise}.

IMG_0094Several days ago, the eggs hatched. We’ve loved checking on them every day and seeing their little balls of fluff hanging out in their nest. Then, it happened…

So, the girls asked to play in the backyard. Since Jed has been born, they’ve gone out to play in our fenced in backyard on their own. I open the window and they can come in and out the door {okay, okay, not a million times and I may say things like “IN. or. OUT.?!”}. But, it’s been a good little set up lately while I nurse Jed or get dinner ready. So, I’m nursing Jed and looking out the windows at them while they play. Ella whizzes by and swings the door open…
{panting heavily} “MOM!! The bird was flying and walking and hopping and…. The bird fell. We hit the bird

WHAT?!

I immediately stop feeding Jed (yeah, he was thrilled). I lay him on the ground (again, thrilled) and go running outside. At this point, Charlotte runs up. I ask them to take me to the bird. Way on the other end of the yard, I approach a bird on the ground with its wings flailed out and…

UNDERNEATH A TENNIS RACKET

Like a little bird prison. I immediately yell tell Charlotte to remove the tennis racket. I notice the bird is still breathing just fine and just staring around. I start frantically answering for the story.

IMG_0153I start to surmise that the bird was minding its own business, fell, and Charlotte put it in bird prison. I then begin to grasp that the bird prison was an effort to catch the bird and they began to say they wanted to hold it.
Well, I’m panicking now.

HAVE WE PARALYZED THIS BIRD?!

What is my logical next step? Call John. You know, because he’s totally sympathetic to the needs of me and this bird.
His responses were things like:

“Ohmygosh, first thing is to have the kids wash their hands so they don’t get bird germs.”

“It’s just a bird. If it dies, it dies”

Next thing I know, I’m screaming talking at the girls to go inside and wash their hands (because of bird germs?). And, don’t touch Jed. Then, I kept John on the phone while I knelt down by the bird to try and figure out how I can scoop it up to get it back in the nest.

I get down next to it and start to whisper sweet nothings while trying to gather my nerve. Turns out, the bird was a liar and wanted nothing to do with our family moments anymore. Guys, that bird done hopped up and flew away while squawking for backup. Next thing I know, birds are squawking from trees and everyone has been alerted to kill me. The second that bird jumped up I screamed the name of Jesus twice. Cue John bursting out laughing

“Are you screaming for Jesus to help you with the bird??”

Uhhhhh, YES, I am. It is telling its Mama bird to come peck my eyes out.

I realized that it was one of the baby birds and it was obviously just now learning to fly. Just the day before, the birds were in the nest and now all of them were out of the nest. I realized that the girls had nothing to do with the bird falling. They were trying to use the tennis racket to hold the bird and analyze it closer. They were somehow gentle with the racket and no injury to the bird. But, I mean, here’s the deal, if something insane (rather than precious) is gonna go down, it’s gonna go down with us.

Excuse me, I’ve gotta go see if it’s time to put the front porch birds into bird prison yet…

{Linking up with A Little R&R Wednesdays!}

Home

The idea of home has intrigued me so much lately.

Home town.

Home state.

Home church.

Home is where the heart is.

This earth is not our home.

So much seems to center around this idea of home, whether we realize it or not. What is home? How does one get home sick and what does that even mean? Why do we even care about the idea of home when we’re told that this earth is not our real home?

Last month we loaded up the car with all of the babies and all of the things to survive a week of vacation as a family. I haven’t been “home” to Orlando in a year and a half, so I had really been looking forward to getting back. A 17 hour drive {not including stops} was quite a task to take on with a just-turned-4-months-old-that-day, a 3 year old and a 4 year old, but we can do it! Especially to stop in Georgia, which will always be a “home” to us because it has our son’s final resting place.

I’ve dreamt of getting a picture of Jed as a baby next to his brothers resting place. Every time I think of it, I cry. Brothers. Grace. Mercy.

Well, we all got on the road a little later than expected. Ella woke up and had a poop accident. Yeah, what is it with our family and poop on road trips?! So, we hung out a little later to see if she was a fluke or a real illness. I also had a minor mental breakdown because we hadn’t started the world’s longest drive yet and I had a potentially sick kid.

Once we realized that Ella hadn’t needed the bathroom again and I pulled myself together, we loaded the car and left.

“OKAY. We can soooo do this”

There were even talks of “Let’s just drive this whole thing. We’ll take shifts and we’ll be there by tomorrow morning”

Well, because it’s us, we stopped approximately 37 times to get a mere 2 hours away from home (which we squeezed into four). Ella had to keep going to the bathroom. Each visit was a little more suspect than the last. BUT, she didn’t have any accidents and we kept stopping in time. No one else was sick, so maybe we should just keep going. I really debated turning around when we were only 2 hours out, but we’re already packed.

We can make it. 

Except, we can’t.

We get to Tupelo, MS, which is 6.5 hours away from our home. Or known to our family that day as 10.5 hours away. We stopped for dinner. And, when I pulled Jed out, I noticed that his eye was oozing a whole bunch of green. I thought it looked a little off, but now it was a whole lot of green.

I had another minor mental breakdown.

Therefore, let’s just stop here for the night because things are going crazy. Let’s get some sleep and we’ll hit it hard tomorrow. We all finally fall asleep.

Around 2:30am, John and I both wake up because the beds were horrible. Baaahhhh. After some whispered conversation, we decide that we’re both pretty wide awake. Let’s transfer the crew to the car and book it to Orlando. Ella wakes up from us shuffling around.

Bathroom trip.

Ugh. Okay, it’ll be fine. Let’s just get Jed up. I’ll nurse him and we’ll go. 

I get Jed.

His eye is now completely crusted over with green and swollen. Lovely.

Cue another mental breakdown. (Third one in 24 hours if you’re keeping track. Let’s also remember postpartum hormones. Yeah, I know. I feel sorry for me, too)

While I nurse Jed, John and I try to look up pediatric walk-in places in Orlando. We found a few, but then look at each other and realize, what the heck are we doing? We’ve got two out of three kids sick. And, coming from the last time we ignored the writing on the wall, we should probably just get home while we’re ahead.

So, we headed home. Like, Arkansas home.

I cried half of the drive. But, each time I cried, it was about time to stop for another poop trip for Ella.

We were so close to seeing Warner. But, so far.

We were so close to vacation. But, so far.

We were so close for me to get home for a bit. But, so far.

We’re not sure when we may be able to try again. We’ve tossed around the idea of just Jed and I going to Atlanta for a short trip to see his brother. The thought that Jed hasn’t been to see him yet really hurts my heart.

We’ve also tossed around the idea of going to Orlando this Fall. Whether I’m being a negative Nellie or a realist, I’m unsure. But, I just doubt that it will logistically work out. And, once we hit the Fall, it’ll be two years since I’ve been “home”. Like, Florida home.

Why is there such a pull to visit home? I’ve struggled with that since our failed attempt. But, I think the Lord has finally connected the pieces to the puzzle in my mind.

Our earthly home (whether it be a place, a town, a church or whatever) is one of the closest depictions we can get to the feeling of Heaven one day. A place to feel known, secure, loved, comfortable, renewed, and at peace. A place where you can take a deep breath.

Obviously, I feel “at home” with our little family. And, wherever they are is where I want to be. But, I don’t doubt that one day, when they’re off and married with their own families, the thought of coming home will be a gift that they treasure. At least, I can only hope that we will create a home where they feel safe and loved.

But, for me, today I sit and long for Heaven. If I don’t get to touch the ground of two of my earthly homes today, I can’t help but picture how much greater it will be to enter into paradise one day. No more botched road trips. No more graves to visit. No more missed friends and family. One day…