Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Give~Away

With the changing seasons upon us, I was reminded of all the changes we've gone through during our time of waiting.  My hubby and I have seen a change in our relationship, friendship's, and the way we view life all because of of this precious thing we call Time.  It's hard to keep looking straight ahead, towards the goal, when after one visit to the doctor's clinic or adoption office, your track changes and your headed in a new direction.  One thing that has remain consistent in our lives is our faith and our family.  While our faith has many struggles and we work at maintaing our walk, it has helped to know there is a bigger picture for our lives than what we just see now.  And while our family members struggle to understand our "storyline," they are always there loving us and wishing us the very best.

So, in honor of fall, faith and family, we are giving away two set's of beautifully handmade crocheted pot holders made by my Mother-n-law.  To enter, all you have to do is:

  1. Be our friend on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaitingForBabyStories
  2. Share our Waiting For Baby Stories blog on your Facebook Page: http://waitingforbabystoriesblog.blogspot.com/
  3. Comment below or on our Facebook page that you shared it!
Winner's Will Be Announced October 1st!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Devotion on Courage~by Brett


When I hear the word courage my mind immediately goes to people in my life who I’ve seen go through difficult times and come through the other side better, wiser, and full of life. I look at people who have faced abuse, cancer, or a myriad of difficulties that nobody would wish for and ask myself how they were able to get through that season. I believe that the answer is courage.
One of the most widely known examples from Scripture on courage is the story of Joshua who takes over leading the Israelites after Moses dies. In this story, the LORD passes the baton from Moses to Joshua and as He commissions Joshua with this new mission, He commands him to be bold and courageous. (Joshua 1:1-18)

The context of the book of Joshua is that Moses has died and the LORD comes to Joshua and says, “Hey, by the way, your leader, Moses, is dead and now I’m going to need you to step up and lead my people – the Israelites – into the land that I’ve promised them”. At this point, I think it’s important to note that Joshua has never done this before. He’s been learning how to be a leader under Moses but now his mentor and leader is dead. I can only imagine the feelings and thoughts running through Joshua at this point: 
“Am I ready for this?”
“I have no idea what I’m doing!”
It’s at this point that the LORD speaks to Joshua something that will hopefully rectify all of his hesitations, fears, and premonitions.
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” 
(Joshua 1:5) 

It is shortly after this that Joshua gets commanded, multiple times, to “be strong and courageous”. Interestingly, the command to either “be bold and courageous” and “do nor fear” or “do not be afraid” is one of the most repeated commands throughout Scripture.

There’s a clear principle that can be drawn from these commands.
Each time that command is given, God always follows it up with “I will be with you”. In the Joshua example, the LORD tells Joshua to be bold and courageous four times in the first chapter alone. Notice that every time the command is given, there’s a promise attached (v.5-6, 7, 9, 18). Sometimes it looks like “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and other times it’s a promise of success or prosperity in accomplishing the mission.

Here’s where it gets real for you and me: We are all called by God to be bold and courageous in the mission and journey He’s laid before us.
Even when we feel unqualified, scared, or confused about the mission we’re on, it’s up to us to understand our role in the mission. One of my mentors always brings me back to this point: there’s God’s part, my part, and their part. I can rest assured that God has got His end covered because He’s God. I can’t worry, control, or do anything about what other people in my life choose to do. All I can do, and should focus on, is my part. In the Joshua example, Joshua simply had to do his part, which was to be the leader and trust in the promises of God. Of course he didn’t have all the answers and of course there were moments of turmoil along the way, but if you read the rest of the book of Joshua, you see the LORD do incredible things through Joshua because of his extreme trust and faith in the LORD.

In my very limited life experience of 26 years, I’ve come to understand courage isn’t always about being the first man fighting on the front lines of the battle. While I think there are definitely seasons of life where we need to be that courageous, I think there’s another way we can understand courage. Courage sometimes looks more like trusting God so much that we’re ok with not having the answers and therefore we rest in Him and His promises instead of our abilities, talents, and laboring. It takes courage to trust God during situations we can’t understand, can’t control, can’t explain, and can’t see what the end result will be. This is where I believe courage manifests into deeper faith as well. Oswald Chambers says it beautifully: “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time”.
No matter what season of life you’re in and no matter what the difficulty looks like - emotional, physical, or spiritual - know that God is good and has not and will not ever change. He has set the course of your life on a path for His glory and whether we understand all the implications of that or not isn’t the point. The point is to learn to lean on and praise Him in the low days and to express gratitude and humility in the days where we’re on top of the world.

Courage is a narrow road that helps us follow and know God better. Don’t worry if you stumble and fall, because if you’re human you probably will. It’s not where you start but how you finish that matters; so finish well. Winston Churchill once said that “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”. 

So wherever you’re at today, know that we can be bold and courageous because we know that He who commands us is faithful and His promises are true and forever. Don’t stand on what you feel…stand firm on what you know to be true. Trust in the promises of God and Scripture and be courageous enough to know that seasons come and seasons go, but in all things God remains the same.

Written by Brett Ricley

Brett is a husband, father, disciple of Jesus, and a disciple maker in full time campus ministry for Impact Campus Ministries in Salt Lake City, UT. Brett writes about faith and campus ministry on his blog: Living to Display the Gospel.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Update on Nate and Tiffany

To write an update to our “Waiting for Baby” story is a little overwhelming as so much has happened in the last year for us.  When I last wrote, (see our story here: http://waitingforbabystoriesblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/nate-and-tiffanys-story.html) we had been trying for several months to get pregnant with number three. What I had no idea was what was to come in the next year of our lives. Last summer, after a trip to the emergency room and some follow up diagnostics, I was diagnosed with an “endometrioma” or a bleeding cyst on one of my ovaries that required surgery. After the surgery, my OB/Gyn told us that she had to remove the whole ovary and tube because it was so diseased. We knew that this might be a possibility but the reality was very harsh for a mama that has a deep desire for more kids! Recovery was hard emotionally and physically but I was assured by my doctor that this may in fact increase my fertility as getting the diseased ovary out allows the other one to work better.
Within three months I had a positive pregnancy test and was overwhelmed with joy and feeling incredibly blessed. I wept at God’s faithfulness that night and wrote down the verse from 1 Samuel 1:27, “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him”. I had pleaded with God for this baby and He had been faithful to bless me with it. I quickly started planning ways to tell our family and names and all of those motherly things that flood your heart and life when you find out that you are pregnant. I immediately contacted my OB and was scheduled for some blood tests as well. Within a day or two, it became clear that something was wrong and blood tests confirmed within the week that my levels were in fact falling instead of rising and I was losing my baby. My “blessing baby”, my answer to prayer, my testament to God’s faithfulness was gone. That was September 26, 2012. While the physical and emotional healing took some time, it was the spiritual healing that was the hardest. I had in my head that God and I had a deal; since I had so much trouble getting pregnant, He would NEVER ask me to endure a miscarriage, right?! I thought that He knows what we can handle!? Surely He knows that I can’t handle this! While I never doubted His love, His sovereignty, His plan, I didn't understand it at all. I couldn't even sit in church without crying and one Sunday, during a special communion service, I had to leave and sit in the car, weeping and praying for God to help me understand. My OB was actually a huge blessing to me, as a Christian woman and doctor she called me shortly after the blood tests and prayed with me. She sees this all the time as a doctor and knows all the science behind things like this but she reached out to pray for my spiritual healing.
It was several months before I was ready to start trying again for a baby and again, with each passing month of negative tests, I was discouraged. In February I had another negative pregnancy test and prayed for contentment. I truly felt it too! I was content with the role that God gave me as wife to a wonderful, faithful husband and mother to two, healthy, rambunctious boys. I was done with being obsessed with becoming pregnant and was ready to settle in to real life again, not the life that I had planned out in my head. Within a couple of weeks, I was pregnant. It sounds so cliché but contentment truly came before the desires I had in my heart were fulfilled. We are now 30 weeks along and anxiously awaiting Baby’s arrival in late October! We don’t know what we are having and are excitedly dreaming about whether we will have a little brother or little sister to love. God is still faithful and while I still don’t understand everything, I could not handle life alone, without the comfort and support of knowing a loving God and His grace and mercy.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Clothe the Foster

Enkel Apparel is a new project my husband-Nick and I are involved with.  It's a clothing company that we are helping launch.  While Enkel is in the "start up" phase, the goal, once fully funded, will be the "buy-one give-one" model.  The t-shirt or item you purchase, will also buy a child in foster care a garment of their choosing.  This is an incredible tool for young people to have, especially when they find themselves at the mercy of donations.  

Please check out Enkel Apparel's website, scroll down and watch the video, scroll down more for future merchandise at: http://www.enkelapparel.com/

In the video, you will hear a story about a young man who was placed in foster care with only the clothes on his back and flip flops on his feet. My husband Nick and I helped co-parent him for the last two years.  This was our first experience as a couple with the foster care system and it broke our hearts to see how broken the system is for our hometown kids.  This is our way of trying to make a difference.  

If you would like to help us make a difference, here are a couple ways YOU can help:

*Watch the video

*Like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/EnkelApparel

*Give towards this project, please visit the Gofundme site at: 

*Spread the word!!!  The more people know, the more kids we can reach!!!!

Merchandise will be available Spring/Summer 2014

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rebuilt From the Ground Up~Alaina's Story

     Hey, y’all! My name is Alaina Mayes and I blog over at http://unashamedgrowth.com/.  Kassandra graciously asked me to share a little bit of my story and where we are in the process of expanding our family. I hope you guys enjoy my visit and are encouraged in your journey!

Let me catch you up on the happenings of the last few years. My husband and I have been married three and years. We wanted to begin our family within the second year of our marriage but were diagnosed as infertile due to my endometriosis. I had a laparoscopy and a hysteroscopy to remove scar tissue then we proceed with IUI treatments. Nothing worked. And, the five month time span between diagnosis and our last IUI had to be the hardest and darkest months I’ve ever experienced. Although my husband and I are both Christians and have been since we were young children, I’d never experienced anything that made me truly and seriously question God.

         Thomas, my husband, and I decided that we would take a year off of trying and really give it our all in 2013. A couple of months shy of 2012, I was hit hard with the concept of adoption. I was taken by it. I fell in love with out this Earthly adoption process mirrored so greatly the spiritual adoption that occurs when we give our lives to Christ. When we were first diagnosed a friend asked me if we would be interested in adopting and I quickly shut down the conversation. I wanted children of my “own”. Isn’t it funny how God can insert our feet into our mouths when we declare our plans and what we want?

         He did just that. This past January we began our journey through adoption. Since then we’ve had two failed private adoptions and an agency switch. And, just recently God has placed a love for foster care deep within my heart.

         That is just a brief physical history.

         Over the last two and a half years The Lord has taken a wrecking ball to my spiritual life. He has completely destroyed the shallow beliefs, cutesy memorized scriptures, and “supposed to’s” that I’d grown so accustomed and comfortable with. He has rebuilt me. He has laid a new foundation that is made up of a crazy love for a God who is filled with grace and love. I’d not known this God before. I knew of God – I didn’t know HIM. I’d a few favorite scriptures committed to memory but didn’t really know in full what they meant and how great they spoke of God. I knew nothing of the power of the scriptures and how they could comfort, teach faith, and encourage. I found God in these last years and have desired to remain face to face with Him moment by moment.

         Right now, I am emotionally and spiritually being remade into what I know God designed me to be. We are at a crossroads with our adoption – we are dedicated to an agency but am unsure if we’ll be led to accept a private adoption or if we’ll decide to foster. For the first time EVER in life, I am completely alright with hanging in the balance. I’m not a hanging in the balance kinda gal. I’m a hit the ground running-physical calendar-lets schedule it out NOW kinda girl. So, God has done a great work on me. And, I am forever grateful.

         I’m not sure when we will welcome a little one into our home – I’m actually terrified of this private adoption. Could I take yet another failed attempt at having a child? This wait has been trying and exhausting and at times I feel as if I want to quit. I don’t know how God will bless us but even with all of the question marks and penciled dates in the calendar, I do know that I have never appreciated such hardship and heartbreak in my life. Without these past couple of years, I would have never clung to God or gotten to know and love Him the way that I have. I’m not ashamed nor do I have bitterness about my circumstances because they’ve humbled me and brought me before the throne of grace with a brokenness that left me malleable for God’s use.

         I’m not sure where you find yourself today. If you’re broken, tired, frustrated, envious, or have given in to the dark place you find yourself in. I’ve felt overlooked by God, completely and utterly forgotten about. But, I promise you God cares. He sees you and He is concerned about you. He is a good Father – He sees our future and who He created us to be yet understands that we have to be grown and matured in order to be ready for the great things he has in store for us. That maturation process is rarely ever easy or quick. He promises to never leave us; He says that He goes before us, and that His love will endure through it all.

God is strong enough to carry us through the most difficult situations, big enough to protect us from the scariest situations, tender enough to quiet us with His love, gracious enough to forgive our ever misstep and distrust of even Him. We just have to have faith and believe that His word is true.

I pray that God soften your hearts and that you allow yourself to be redesigned. I pray that you position yourself to learn His character and embrace His goodness and truth.  I pray you get to experience Him in a way that you never have before and that you learn to see His glory and grace in every situation you find yourself in. I pray that you get to know Him and willingly bow at His feet. 

He is so good and is waiting for you with His arms wide open.

… here’s to a God worthy of glory and honor. To a God who empties us of ourselves only to fill us with a love for His people and a hope that keeps us persevering to a victorious end. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Your Story Matters

When I saw the above picture, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a haunting sadness that left a smile upon my face.  So many stories have come across our path, some unbelievably sad and some with incredibly happy endings.  When we started this blog, we wanted it to be a platform for people to share their stories of the different ways their family came to be.  Whether through the natural of just being a woman and man coming together to produce life, the gift of adoption, the brilliance of medically induced pregnancies, or the countless other ways families come to be.  We also wanted this blog to be a place of celebration and peace and most of all, a place where people came to know they weren't alone.

It sometimes feels like this enormous responsibility.  It's sometimes a burden we gladly bear. especially when a story or prayer request comes along our path.  We have been heartbroken over the stories of children who've never had the chance to meet the mother and father who love them so, devastated alongside parents who find out that they have to wait just a little longer to bring their lovey home from overseas, and then overjoyed with happiness when the little one we've all been waiting join us in this life.  

These stories are of the most importance.  

They show the world the depths of which a parents love can be, just how much the human spirit can endure, and lastly, they show the condition of our hearts when we open ourselves to sharing life and all it's ups and downs with another person. Which is why, we will be showcasing updated stories from some of our "guest bloggers."  So many of you have inquired about specific stories or asked for up dates on a particular situation.  We will also be posting small devotions for those of you who need or want some encouragement while your writing your chapter.

If you are interested in sharing your story, writing a devotion, or sending some love and light to a particular family featured on the Waiting for Baby Stories blog, please email us at: waitingforbabystories@gmail.com  We would love to post your words and pass on your messages! 

Make sure to like our Facebook page for up to date posts, give-a-way notices, and other little blips of love:  https://www.facebook.com/WaitingForBabyStories