Our Family of Four

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It’s official – we are now a family of four. Isaiah5

Isaiah is now 10 weeks old and is now legally ours. Today his Mama gave us the greatest gift anyone could ever give. I truly can’t express how grateful we are to her. And how grateful we are FOR her as well.

On Sunday, we made the 2.5 hour trek out east to visit her for the first time since he was born. I’ve spoken with her periodically on the phone in these 10 weeks, but this was our first reunion. We were nervous, knowing that she could still change her mind. I mean look at those beautiful dark eyes… those precious, chubby cheeks… his sweet cuddly demeanor… I think everyone wishes they could take him home with them.

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You think you know what love is? Love is sacrificing. Love is taking a risk. And I don’t mean being careless and naive about who you love and how much you love them. I mean being so self-less that you give up your deepest desires for the good of that person.

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People have asked us, “How could a birthmom give her baby up?”

My answer: I have no idea.

100_7910I can’t speak for other birthmoms, but Isaiah’s mom loves him more than life itself. Her decision to place him with us is for reasons that are personal and for which we deeply admire her. She is a beautiful, wise, compassionate, strong, determined woman, and we are so thankful to have her in our lives. It’s crazy to say, but I never thought I would be so comfortable sharing the name “Mom” with her. Somehow, it just comes out naturally… in fact, I feel so honored that she is the one that gave me that title.
This is love: Not that we loved Isaiah (that was easy!), but that SHE loved him. And gave over her right to be his Mom, so that we could love him as our own.

Sound familiar at all to some of you?

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is 1 John, and so much of it resonates with the adoption journey. Here is 1 John 4:10…

“This is love: Not that we loved God, but that HE loved us, and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Friends, we are so very blessed by this cuddly bundle of chub. I just can’t stop kissing his soft baby-jowls. Can’t stop making ridiculous noises just to see his smile. Isaiah has 3 parents that would move heaven and earth for him. And a sister that sure would do her thang too.

 

 First Love

He gave you his first kicks,

First cry, first sigh,

Cuddled up in your warm arms

Settled into his first sleep.

No matter where you go or what you do

Remember you chose us, but he chose you

You’re his first love.

You gave him his first breath,

First sight, First kiss,

Touched your nose to his nose,

Told him how you’d miss him.

No matter where you go or what you do

Remember you chose us, but he chose you

You’re his first love.

You gave us his first smile,

First words, first steps.

Every day of his life

We will never forget this.

No matter where you go or what you do

Remember you chose us, but he chose you

You’re his first love.

We see you in his sweet smile,

Tough guy, won’t cry.

Breaks out in a shy grin,

Studies life with wise eyes.

No matter where you go or what you do

Remember you chose us, but he chose you

You’re his first love.

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And the Winners Are…

Well, so much for trying to eat healthfully now that life should be a little less demanding.

If Tyler, Elise, and I each ate 1 burger a day and then 1 hot dog a day once those were depleted, we’d be eating them till September.

If we each ate 1 piece of cake a day we’d be eating cake until September as well.

But who wants stale cake?

Party at the Werner’s!

Except… I’m really quite excited to not be planning anything for a while, so we’ll just have to gorge ourselves on cake and save the rest frozen for a Welcome-Home-Baby Party later.

Anyway, you’re probably all scanning this to see who won the Raffle and not really reading anyways, so I will cut to the chase. The winners of the Raffle Drawings were….

US!!!

In spite of a turn-out that was a little less than we had hoped for (ergo the surplus of food and resulting imminent weight-gain), people were extremely generous. We still have about $4,000 to go, but compared to $20,0000, that’s a much more manageable amount to finance if we have to. I really can’t believe the gifts we’ve been given. We have been so incredibly blessed by our family and friends, and even strangers. We truly can’t describe the burden that has been lifted and replaced with a…. poncho? parka? snuggie? of support. (You pick the season and imagery. I gave up after 5 minutes of trying to come up with something serious.)

What I mean is that not only are we relieved, we are also overcome by the encouragement and love people have shown us and our future-baby. I can’t wait to be able to hang this in our baby’s room:

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Alright, I’m done with the sappy stuff, here are the real winners of the Raffle:

Essential Oils from Healing Reign: Britta D.

Crafy Momma Designs Pallet Sign:  Sarah J.

Crafty Momma Designs Pallet Box:  Danielle T.

Scentsy Warmer: Lily S.

Villa and Londyn Romper:  Darlene H.

Piano Lessons with Jen Barr:  Mandy B.

Target Gift Card:  Aaron and Jen J.

Old Orchard Juice Package:  Sabina W.

Tyler’s Table:  Jen T.

Amanda Mae Designs Photo Session: Des and Adam S.

iPad Air 2:  Cindy W.

2 Nights at the J.W. Marriott:  Michaellyn and Brian H.

THANK YOU to all who donated and to all who helped us with the dinner! And please check out these businesses who donated prizes for our Raffle:

Sabina Williams from Villa and Londyn Baby Apparel

Vicki Goethals from Healing Reign

Jen Barr from Jen’s Piano Studio

Old Orchard and my friend Dana from Marketing

Lacey Key from Crafty Momma Designs

Mandy Bowerman from Amanda Mae Designs

Laura Hess from Scentsy Fragrence

The J.W. Marriott 

 

Raffle Closing Soon! Drawing on Saturday

Last Chance! Our Fundraising dinner is tomorrow, and the Raffle is closing to online submissions at 12:00 noon on Saturday. Check out all the prizes!

(Not pictured are 2 months of weekly piano lessons with Jen Barr [$10 donation] and a Scentsy Wax Warmer Gift Set from Laura Hess [$5 donation])

To donate and enter the raffle just Click on the image below and leave a message with your donation stating which prize you’d like. 

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We would love to have you come grill out with us, but attendance is not required to win. It’s from 5-6:30 Open-House Style (come-whenever-leave-whenever). We have Gluten Free and Vegan options as well!

I’m seriously considering breaking into those essential oils right now… I could use a little “Stress Relief” and “Tranquility”!

Though I’m not sure why I’m stressing when we bought enough food for 200 people for less than $400. And that includes tablecloths/decorations/plastic-ware. And we have plenty of people helping, so we should be all set.

I think my 2 biggest fears are (1) that no one will be able to come and (2) that we will have TOO much help and people will be bored.

Oh wait, make that 3: that we should probably make some kind of short thank-you speech and I will get all choked up before I can even get a word out.

But then I think about the real focus of this dinner: our baby.

Our baby who may very well be kicking around in his mama’s womb right now. Our baby who is very-much loved by this woman who is making such a difficult choice for her child. Our baby that will only be ours because so many people have contributed to help make it possible for us to bring this little person home someday.

We finally had the chance to put our names in for a baby this week. The baby is due in October, and while chances are slim that we would be chosen on our first opportunity, my heart goes out to this baby and its mama and to the couple it who will be its parents.

Thank you all again so much for your support – both financially and emotionally. Please continue to pray for our family, our baby, and for their birth-parents.

And we hope to see you at the grill-out! 6950 Peace Church, Middleville, MI 49333

Goosebumps

Coincidences happen all the time.

My husband and my brother have the same birthday.

Both of my grandmas were named “Marge.”

My mom decided to name me “Cheyenne” when she was only 9 years old, not knowing that my last name would be the exact same letters: Cheney.

Thanks, Mom.

Sometimes coincidences give more meaning to your life. Like when my mom had to have her first colonoscopy and found out that her nurse home-schooled her kids too. We heard about it for the next 12 hours after her surgery. That common bond really put her at ease.

Or maybe it was the drugs. Either way, apparently this coincidence made her first colonoscopy a very meaningful experience.

And then there are coincidences like this:

Remember my post last week about the results of our Garage Sale? I talked about how God has given meaning to our heartache of infertility by giving us a “new song” of praise that it led us to this path of adopting. I spoke of Psalm 40:

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a New Song in my mouth – a hymn of praise to our God.”

An hour after publishing this post, we were singing these very words in church. Literally a New Song to us – I later discovered our Worship Pastor actually wrote the song.

Talk about coincidence.

I need to start carrying a purse just so I have tissues on me. Good grief. Thank goodness we had already “greeted each other.” Boy would they have been in for a surprise when they shook my tear-coated hand.

I’m not kidding, next week I WILL have tissues on me. Because if that wasn’t enough, this week I sat down next to Tyler in the row and opened up the bulletin to discover that the sermon was titled “Adopted.”

Crazy, because I had just finished placing announcements about our Fundraising Dinner in everyone’s mailboxes at the church.

Fundraising dinner announcement

And guess who was preaching? Our Worship Pastor.

Darn it, I should have known. He has it out for me, I think.

Except that he had no idea I was going to hand out invitations to our dinner. Nor do I think he even knew about our dinner. It’s a pretty big church – we really don’t know him or his wife at all.

At the climax of the sermon, he shared his story of how his “foster” sister became his sister. From a name that represented a life of mistreatment and indifference…

… to a new name that represents her new life in a family whose love for her knows no limits.

I tried to not look at him as his emotion broke his otherwise seamless presentation. Seeing his emotion made holding back tears too hard. But his family was sitting, sniffling in the row right in front of us. Good grief… it was no use.

Following his story, he proclaimed that as Christians, we have been adopted by God. It is our identity. And as such, we are called to a life of hospitality to children who aren’t necessarily born to us- whether that be through adopting a child ourselves or through supporting adoptive families.

Meanwhile, people all around us held our picture in their hands, with an invitation to help us bring our baby home.

*whew* (holding back tears again)

Did you get goosebumps?

Some coincidences are more than a weird accident.

Sometimes… God acts on our behalf before we’ve even asked.

The Final Count / A New Song

I think back to where God has taken us since our struggle with infertility. I felt so broken them. And so weak for my inability to persevere with faith in God’s goodness. I knew He would give us a child one way or another eventually, but didn’t understand why He was making it so difficult. People would say things like “It will happen when you’re ready” and “God’s just preparing you to be an even better parent.”

It was crushing to hear those things actually.

When we finally got pregnant I was so excited. Yet, my heart was weighed down with guilt because it was at a time when my doubts were the greatest. I knew there were others struggling with infertility whose faith was much deeper than my own. Couples who were much more deserving and had been waiting even longer than we had.

For the first few months of my pregnancy, I wrestled with this, “Why did we have to wait so long? Why  did God answer our prayers when I was at my weakest? Was it because He gave up on me?

These answers have come since then:

Because God’s timing for our daughter’s life to begin was not all about ME. Much of our future in this world hinges on timing, and Elise’s birth has a purpose too.

Because Christians must endure hardship just like the rest of the world. How else can we be relevant to a hurting world that doesn’t know Jesus? It gives us an opportunity to stand by someone else when they face the same struggles and to remind them that God cares, even when the answer to our prayers seem so far off.

Because God wanted to teach me – who always wants to be perfect and please everyone – that I can’t earn His favor. He loves me just.as.I.am. While I was broken and worn out on faith, He stepped in and showed me Grace.

Let me repeat that: While I was BROKEN and WORN OUT on faith, HE stepped in and showed me GRACE.

And finally, because God was preparing us for our next child. We never would have considered adoption before because of the cost. But once we were met with so many obstacles to conceive, we began feeling God calling us to adopt. And ever since deciding to start the process, we have been overwhelmed with our growing, synchronized excitement for adopting our second baby.

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Our garage sale was these past three days, and I’ve been a little emotional, to say the least.

Friends and family running over to drop off baked goods before a vacation.

Strangers coming to the sale and just slipping us $10 and $20 bills without even giving us a chance to properly thank them.

So many people telling us to “keep the change.”

One woman even coming to share her story and introduce us to her newborn baby… that SHE just adopted.

Lots of encouragement from adoptive and foster parents as well as adoptees.

And so, so many donations of money, garage/bake sale items, and time.

On our own, we would have had our sale on our dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Instead, our father-in-law opened his house in town up to us for the community-wide garage sales in our home town.

On our own, we would have sold a few books, my pre-pregnancy clothes, and a some odds-and-ends home decorations that I don’t know how to decorate with. Instead, OVER 30 people donated items for us to sell.

On our own, I would have had to take a whole week of vacation time to prepare. And taken anti-anxiety medication. Because of a dear friend and our father in law, most everything was sorted and priced by the time I came to help set up on Wednesday.

On our own, we would have sold 3 types of cookies. Because of 12 different people, we had zucchini bread, apple pies, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, muffins, dog treats, peanut brittle, and *drum roll please* 12.types.of.cookies!!!

On our own we would have been lucky to raise $200. But because of our family, friends, and community, we raised…

Are you sitting down?

Are your tissues ready?

Might as well forget tissues. Grab a sponge.

$5,079

Bringing our Adoption Fund up to $10,614.Fundraising Thermometer

God has taken us from brokenness to the most overwhelming joy and gratefulness. We thankful for our hardship, because it has put a “new song” in our hearts. These last 3 days we were met with gifts and encouragement every time we turned around. We have never felt more loved and can’t wait to share news of this baby with the many people who are helping us bring our next child home.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, an hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and revere and put their trust in the Lord.

Many O Lord,  my God, are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us no one can recount to you.

Were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare…

I cannot conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

Psalm 40:1-3, 5, 10

Why My Car Smells Like Hobby Lobby

When we first were considering doing a garage sale I thought, “My father-in-law lives right in town, maybe he will get more traffic than we would out here in the country. On a dirt road.”

I thought, “Last year I sold almost $200 in 2 days at my friend’s subdivision garage sale… every little bit helps.”

I thought, “We have so much we don’t really need” as I started a pile of clothing, DVD’s, books, 2 of the 3 necklaces I own, and home decor that haven’t been used in ages, but was met with protests of, “It’s perfectly good _____ and we might want it someday,” by my husband.

I did NOT think people would start bringing us totes and car-fulls of donated items.

I did NOT think my father-in-law would buy the contents of an abandoned storage unit from an auction.

I did NOT think my parents would have 3 trailers-full of donations for our sale.

I did NOT think a friend would actually.donate. her CAR!!!

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I did NOT think our aunt would donate a gorgeous 7-piece bedroom set.

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I did NOT think people would bake us 15 different types of cookies; an assortment of pies, breads, and cupcakes; and 60 jars of barbecue sauce.

I did NOT think joining the “Lake Odessa Garage Sale” group would result in 3,000 people wanting to buy our stuff.

Ok, that last one was an exaggeration, but only slightly!

 

So here we go! My car smells like Hobby Lobby because it’s full of silk flowers and vases that my coworker brought to me yesterday. And when I say  full, I truly mean FULL. She had even more, but I didn’t have room for it all. She seemed so disappointed…

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wpid-img_20150602_052131932.jpgWell, we have $15,000 left to raise and I think with everything that everyone has donated, we should be able cut that down by more than $200.

Holey Moley, people. Our baby is so very loved already. Thank you… 

I think I’ll just not bother wearing eye make-up for the next few days.

First News of a Birthmom

It’s been a long two-and-a-half weeks since getting approved to adopt. On average, our agency has 3 birth-moms a month looking for a families for their babies. Probability was not high we would have received news of a birth-mom before now, but with adoption you never know.

So of course I’ve been as attached to my phone as a 6th grade girl.

I was counting this week out and getting ready to jump in the shower after digging in the dirt (aka assisting my father-in-law with converting the whole front of our house into lovely flower beds. And by “assisting”, I mean my father-in-law probably did 95% of the work.)

*hangs head in shame*

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And then my phone ding-ed.

It was an email from our adoption worker about a birth-mom due in September.

And guess what else?

Twins!

*faint*

 Twins… a lot to consider. When we were first asked about our openness to adopting twins we said, “Sure, bring it on.” But the reality is that twins AND a 2 year old AND working full-time just sounds a bit overwhelming. Elise still needs so much attention, and both of us being occupied with a baby may not be a very easy transition for her.

But on the other hand, who gets to choose what’s easy? 

Also weighing-in on our decision are the preferences this birth-mom is looking for: Monthly visits, more if possible; a stay-at-home-mom situation; and a family that doesn’t yet have a child. None of these “preferences” are set in stone; birth parents will read all about us and our preferences for openness and make an informed decision.

 

We have until June to give our official answer, but surprisingly we both haven’t felt any “nudge” like these could be our babies. It’s especially surprising to me, because I’m usually the idealistic, rescuer type who would be open to taking any baby. Without a doubt though, there is some couple ready and excited about these babies and we still pray for a beautiful future for them.

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Meanwhile, we are revving-up for our garage sale that’s happening June 4-6. We have TONS of stuff that has been donated to us:

Clothing in all sizes

Furniture

Lamps

A Car

Yes, seriously, A CAR. I posted on facebook asking if anyone wanted to donate their “yacht, car, or house” for our sale – totally in jest. And then one of our good friends texted me saying they just bought a new car and wanted to donate their old one anyway. I just can’t believe you people… ❤

We will also have baked goods – basically every-flavor-cookie imaginable as well as some pies, barbecue sauce, vegan energy balls… the list keeps growing!

I realized today that Lakewood’s last day is June 4, so I hope to draw some people to the bake sale since the sale is adjacent to the school parking lot. So if your kids go to West El, come stop by for some Last-Day-of-School Treats!

Hope to have more news soon of other birth-moms looking for families, but for now we’ll keep busy while we wait!