These are things I wish I had known- mostly the highlights of my struggles as a parent. None of which I have conquered or perfected. Some things I've learned- mostly the hard way. Some of these you will also have to learn the hard way- despite me mentioning them here.
Wow, you guys- what a wonderful weekend we have had! Our church hosted a bunch of teenagers for a Disciple Now weekend and our youth pastor and friend, Brandon, booked Shawn's old band, A Road Less Traveled (I guess they still have a FB page!), to play worship, as well as another great friend, Jason Bishop to speak. It was especially neat for me because it had been a few years since all of us had been able to get together like that.
It's hitting me now that sometimes you don't realize how sweet a season is until it is over. For over 10 years, Shawn pursued music with a few friends, and none of us would have guessed what God would do that little pocket of time. I'm not sure I'm the right one to write about this, really- because I was never actually in the band, but since Shawn and I started dating in high school, I sort of just stuck around, getting to watch from the sidelines- and I'm thankful for that unique vantage point.
It's not often that you get to live life with the same few people (who you aren't already related to) for almost a decade. And when I say "live life", I mean waking up next to your husband on a rumbling RV at 2 am to the sound of metal music blaring...because it's Kuhrt's turn to drive. I'll also never forget washing my hair at midnight in a Wal-Mart bathroom somewhere in Tennessee with one of my best friends and another "band wife", Shanna. :) I'll admit, there were times when it didn't feel like a "get to", but more like a "had to". Collectively, we went through college, silly part-time jobs, the rise and fall of MySpace, breakups, late-night practices where nothing really gets accomplished, music videos, band managers, tours, many, many miles and even each other's weddings. It didn't ever hit me that "big" life things were happening in the midst of the gigs, weekends away, and frivolous arguments about how the merch table looked. There were many years where the guys wondered if they were ever going to "make it". Now I think we all realize that they were already there.
Looking at everyone today- the guys, their wives and kids, other special friends who have influenced our faith in the past decade- I almost couldn't handle it. It was too overwhelming. I cried, because seeing their faces made me realize just what God has done for me- someone on the sidelines- through them all...it's still too amazing for me to grasp. I could never fully express what these people mean to me- because it has almost taken 5 or 6 years for me to really understand the role that each of them have played in my life. Because of them, my worship is deeper, my thankfulness is greater, and my gumption is stronger. I've seen prayer at work, forgiveness happen, and God show up when you least expect Him.
I am so proud of my friends. I hate that we aren't all huddled together in one physical location anymore. But as much as I would love that comfort, I am glad we are not. Because amazingly- and this is just simply Jesus and how He works- we are all doing new things. Things that God has planned for us. Life has definitely become more complicated. A large part of me just misses those simpler times- and I know I've got on my rose-colored glasses today- but our problems seem so much bigger now. We are no longer 19 and 20 year olds who enjoy going out for dinner at 11:30 (because now that hour of night is reserved for sleep or Netflix binges).
But in my heart, I know and can trust that where we are (albeit not together) is good. Why? Because God has proven Himself in every season of my life. Jason Bishop, the speaker for the weekend, and his wife, Caryn, started our first small group about 10 years ago when he realized we were a bunch of 20-somethings without much focus. The message that Jason spoke today was on facing our giants and preparing a way for those who will come after us. I know he had probably tailored it for the teenagers who had been at Disciple Now- but how fitting for someone like me to hear it today. (You can watch the whole message here, including worship by the band.)
This weekend I have felt a sense of displacement. It has been wonderful to spend time with people who have known me so well for so long- but constantly realizing we are all in a new place with different circumstances was heartbreaking. Truthfully, I didn't like all the life change we brought with us- the weight of careers, family, doing actual "adulting"- ugh. Can't we just go to IHOP after the show?
When I spoke to God about this- He reminded me to look for the good. Just as I am now able to see all the good He gave us in the ARLT years- there is a wealth of good NOW. There are wonderful careers blossoming, new relationships formed, several beautiful baby faces and more to come. By God's grace, we are all happily married, still pursing the Kingdom- and THAT is what matters- beyond our physical distance and new circumstances. God has clearly given us a new opportunity to have a sweet season of life- one where He does so much more than we realize.
I think that's what really hit me today- that I wasn't, in fact, ever on the sidelines. God was much more creative than I made Him out to be- orchestrating something completely amazing in each of us- through the music and the miles- at the same exact time. We were getting to live life together, and as God was using each of us for one focused purpose for that season, He was also preparing us individually for the next. I got all of the benefit- the life lessons, the deepening of my faith- without ever having any of the musical ability. :)
Thank you, friends, old and new- for being willing to go through it all with us. The stories that God weaves are truly the most beautiful. I see and appreciate all the good God is doing in you and how it blesses my life. Let's press on!
And if you're feeling really sentimental, or have no idea what I have been talking about, go watch their old videos. There is a lot more hair in that footage than there is now :).
Today is a day I should be doing so many other things. There are kids' Christmas parties, emails, last-minute Christmas gifts (thank God for those sweet teachers who wipe my kids' noses every day and love them so so well!)...
I've been needing to write an adoption update- and if I'm being honest- I've just been putting it off. I've made myself too busy with other things. But for some reason, in the middle of this chaotic day, I've decided to sit down and write. Why? Because as a counselor once told me, "Lissa, you have to start giving yourself time to FEEL your feelings". Ugh. It would be so much more convenient right now to just keep doing all the things and not really think about all those silly emotions. (sarcasm- can you tell I am a DOER by nature?)
However, I am excited to share where we are at in our adoption process right now. We have been logged in to China for 4 months now. Liv will turn 1 in just a couple of months, and that is a special date, not just because it will be her 2nd birthday (which is a miracle in and of itself), or that we will be welcoming a new niece into the world (my little sister, Layne, is pregnant!), but for another reason. When we sent in our paperwork to China, part of our request was that there be at least a 12 month age gap between Liv and our adopted daughter. It is very rare to see a referral of a child under 12 months in China. Because of the systems and processes there, most of the youngest children are around 18 months- 2 years when they are referred for adoption. So, because of our request, the older Liv gets, the more likely it will be that we get a referral.
Can I just pause for a minute and tell you how psycho I feel right now?!? Right now a 12 month gap between my two youngest girls seems like crazytown. Like an all-out circus with bits of popcorn kernels shoved all in the cracks. To be honest, this has been one of the biggest areas of attack for me. I know that Satan knows my love for control, and I am aware that I constantly fall into the delusion that I am in control at all. So in those moments of weakness- when I already feel totally unprepared to even parent the two kids that are at home- I panic. How will I ever parent 3 kids? I can't even get them to school on time, much less doctor's appointments! (I know you moms of 3+ are just chuckling to yourselves right now- go ahead, you deserve it!)
But then there is also all that ugly pride that hangs out in the background, like it should get free rent just because it's been there so long, taking up space in my heart. The illusion that all this blessing was all ME. That EVERYONE expects us to be this or that- that I CAN DO and MUST DO it all. Gross. Just makes me want to spit it out.
When you couple the I-can't-do-it panic with the but-I-have-to-be-the-best pride, you get a mom, wife, and child of God with a serious identity crisis.
And that has been me for the past few months. Mostly holding it together on the outside, while I wonder if we are just straight up insane on the inside. (Bless my sweet friends and family who are consistently patient with me!)
After we got our paperwork to China, I started working on a few grant applications. We have been amazed and in shock at how generous people have been so far. Friends, relatives, and even people we don't know have contributed to our fund. It has been one of the humbling ways God has not only proven Himself and His provision to me, but I know He is working on that old tenant, Pride, as well.
We totaled up the upcoming costs we have left- and I kid you not- it was still over $13,000.00. This is what it will take to get us to China and back. Some of the fees are simply incredible, and you would be amazed at what little portion of that our agency actually gets. Much of it is travel and other fees that we will be paying to the orphanage, government, etc.
Most recently, we got work that we were awarded a matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans. They are going to MATCH up to $3500.00! As soon as we got word, I immediately started brainstorming ideas for fun ways we could raise the $3500.00. We tossed around a few ideas, but after speaking with Lifesong, we found out that we were not to offer any services or products in return for the donations. To be honest, that was hard for me to deal with. As a DOER, I couldn't imagine asking people AGAIN to just straight up contribute to our adoption fund. It would be so much easier to just make something or give my services in exchange. Easier on my pride, that is. The longer I let it settle in, the longer I realized this was a pride issue! So, again, I got to have that I-trust-you conversation with God. And of course, He has been providing just like He said he would!
If you would like to contribute to the matching grant, just click on the "Donate" button! It is tax-deductible!
Additionally, we have decided to put all the income from my How To Work It workshop toward our adoption until enough funds are raised! This has been a dream project of mine for a while and it has been so cool to start working with the very first attendees this month! Check out more on the workshop HERE.
The truth is, He is good. He is faithful. He's made a way. I'm not supposed to be good enough, organized enough, strong enough. He knows our daughter in China. (It's very likely that she is alive and waiting for us NOW!) He knows our future struggles. BUT, I know what He's taken us through to get to this point, and have no choice (logistically or emotionally) but to trust Him with this.
So- for a short synopsis or what is to come:
Within the next few months (anywhere from March-October, we are estimating) we will get a call with a referral from our agency.
They will give us a file to review, and we will have an allotted amount of time to pray over the file, consult doctors and medical professionals, etc.
If we say YES, the paperwork will start back up! Hopefully, we will travel 10-12 weeks later.
It is crazy to think that this time next year our daughter could be home with us- and we could be a family of 5!
There is a large part of me that is ready to not be waiting. I can't wait to know that peace when my heart is not longing for something literally around the world and wondering in expectation if I should be more prepared, what that day will look like when we meet her, what the transition will look like, etc.
But isn't that what this season of Advent teaches us? Shouldn't I ponder all of these things in my heart, just as Mary did? I'm thankful that I don't have to know all the answers. Thankful for my Savior who has allowed us to be here, on this adoption journey. Thankful for Knox and Liv and the way they bless and refine us daily.
Thankful for all of you who have taken the time to listen to my crazy and pray for us, give to our fund and truly impact our family's legacy forever. Merry Christmas!
Do you guys have any questions about our adoption? I would love to answer them and am a pretty open book! Post them in the comments!
Our baby is growing up right before our eyes. I have to be thankful though- this new season- we were ready for it. Knox can be very shy, and he's a rule-follower like his mama, but over the past couple of years he has really loved going to pre-k and socializing with friends. So, when we dropped him off for his very first day at the "big school", I only had one little I-might-break-down moment.
He sat at his desk after taking pictures in from of the school, hanging up his backpack and greeting his teacher. I squatted down to say, "You are a man of God and Truett Knox Anglin. You are brave. You do not need to worry. God is close, you can talk to Him, and He will be with you all day". I barely got through the last sentence.
Knox, on the other hand just said, "I know", and waved goodbye with a smile. And we parents went out to breakfast- because holy free time batman. Liv and I came home to a quiet house and she walked around saying, "Bubba? Bubba?" for a while. I think we will get used to this. :)
Just a week or so ago Knox decided he was ready to ride his bike without those training wheels. It didn't take long and he was wiggling down the sidewalk, but staying up nonetheless. By the time I got my camera out, he had even perfected the smile as he whizzed by.
It's crazy to watch your kid grow. I really thought I would hate him getting older, but each new milestone has been amazing. I am consistently taught by my children and my selfless husband. I couldn't be more thankful for my friends at Knox's school who have made the transition so easy for us. I know that was ordained and no accident. I am starting to accept change more willingly in life because I know I'll need to depend on the Lord to do it.
After eating at one of our favorite local spots for dinner last night, we got home and it was already 30 min past bedtime. Despite the fact that the kids probably needed to be in bed, we all ended up on the front lawn- the sprinklers were running and that gorgeous golden light was perfect. I don't think Liv had ever really played with the sprinklers, so it was fun to see her explore that and I'm glad I got my "real" camera out to photograph an everyday moment with my kids.
I really am so thankful that this is our everyday. We are truly blessed!
I thought I'd share my camera settings for you guys who may be interested. I recently purchased a Nikkor 28-70 2.8 lens and I LOVE it. It's not as expensive as it's newer, fancier version, but it's perfect for what I need. I love my prime lenses, but I had a feeling I was missing out on some crucial moments while I spent time changing lenses. So, this lens was the perfect solution. I recently shot an entire wedding with JUST this lens. (Shawn was still working our "usual" lenses the whole time, though). So, I might be a little obsessed. :)
Nikon Df, Nikkor 28-70 2.8 lens, ISO 400
I shoot in RAW all the time, and had to bring up the exposure in Lightroom at least one stop, so I should have had a higher ISO to begin with- 800 or 1000 would have been a safe place to start, considering all the movement I was capturing and the setting sun.
I also used the VSCO Kodak Gold 100 for the color images and my own B&W Preset for Lightroom on all of these.
Photo info is below each image. :)
So what do you think? Did you like seeing my camera settings? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!
You turned one year old last week. I can hardly believe it. Though I feel like I should be mourning your baby-ness, I am too busy enjoying your sweet little toddler-ing self.
We had a little donut-themed birthday party for you, and it was pretty sweet (get it?!? Sorry, the Mom jokes will never end- just accept it now). You were precious, hardly fussed (if at all), and everyone enjoyed seeing and holding and playing with you. Friends showed up and family drove in- all for a party you will only remember through pictures- but what a special party, and special people who all love you very much. I am positive that all of the faces we saw that morning were the same people who prayed for your existence long before you were ever created.
So, we had a celebration! There was sugar. A lot of it-- and coffee, though you mostly stuck to the sugar.
Certainly not our best family photo, but we are all in it, and that is the main thing...
When it came time to blow the candle out, you didn't bother with any of that blowing stuff and proceeded to just smash that flame out with your hand. It's so typical of the way you like to do things. There was a slight pause as everyone waited to see if you'd cry...and then you just said, "Oooooooh..." with your lips puckered as you stared at the smoke. Haha. You surprise me so and I love your style.
Of course, big brother needed to "help" you unwrap all of your gifts and then decided which ones you should play with first. Among lots of other wonderful gifts, you received a custom-made "walker" (complete with tennis balls) and a handmade Princess Leia headband (you can thank your brother's Star Wars obsession and your Auntie's ingenuity for that). I'm not sure it gets better than that as far as 1st birthday gifts go. And this year, you have Halloween on lock.
Lately, I've nicknamed you "Velcro" because you've been quite....well...clingy to me. But honestly, I know I will miss it someday, so there is always a part of me that is thankful that you want me to hold you. I wished to be holding you for a long time, so it only seems right to be doing so- even if it's kind of all day long.
After the party wound down, I found you playing with a deflated balloon in the kitchen. I honestly think that was the most fun toy you played with all day. Of course! Haha. You make me laugh with your grunts and growls- the more excited you become, the more you start to sound like a tiny noise factory that just can't get all the sounds out fast enough.
You have impressed me so much, tiny girl. You started walking just days before your first birthday, and now you are getting around pretty quickly. You are determined, quick to smile, quick to cry, loud, sweet, and I think you have inherited your Daddy's resilience and generally happy demeanor. God knew just what we needed.
Liv Caroline, good times never seemed so good. We love you!
Time goes so fast. Last week I realized Liv was working on crawling and I had not yet photographed her even holding her head up. So, miraculously, everyone was in real clothing...and I took a few quick photos of the kids.
This girl...6 months old in just a few days. Her expressions always crack me up. They are just so full of life and excitement. I feel like she has such a fun-loving personality already.
Thank goodness for headbands. Just like her mommy, she doesn't have much hair. It's there, but you can hardly see it, haha- which has made me more adamant about getting something on her head.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed the bump on the top of Liv's head. It's something she was born with, called a hemangioma. Apparently, they are pretty common- especially in girls. It was tiny in size when she was born but has grown in size and height in the months since. Hemangiomas tend to shrink away on their own eventually (they usually start shrinking around 1 year of age). There are says we think it's shrinking, and days it looks like it's growing- which is crazy, because it can- it is literally a collection of extra blood vessels.
I really don't mind talking about it at all- sometimes it seems people are afraid to ask- in fact, it's been the funniest to see kids react to it. Knox calls it her "polka dot" or her birthmark. It's totally touchable, and yes, it will bleed just like any other part of skin if touched, but so far it has really been a non-issue.
Poor Knox. Already mildly annoyed at posing with his sister, who loves him oh-so-much.
This kid. If it were possible for me to love him more since having Liv, I do. On the hard days, he's been my helper, giver of hugs, forgiver of a distracted mommy, an excellent cartoon-watcher, and just so smart.
Goodness I love these babes. So different. So amazing to see life through their eyes- I hope I get to for the rest of my life!