Monday, November 30, 2015

7 Things I Learned in November

I'm going to spare you my rant about how November got away from my completely. Team Taylor did lots of fun things, some of which I allude to here and others I'm still hoping to blog about. I'm getting over a cold and gradually getting into the Christmas spirit.

But first, let me share seven things, in no particular order, that I learned this month ... 

1. Forehead thermometers aren’t accurate for babies younger than 6 months.

Well, here I am with my third child, and I thought she had a fever. Maybe she did. But maybe it wasn’t really 100.5 because forehead thermometers aren’t accurate when said baby is only 6 weeks old. She had been congested, so I took her in to get checked out. She was fine and I felt a little like a brand-new mom.

2. “Chasing Life” isn’t going beyond two seasons.

I’d never heard of this show, which has apparently been on ABC Family, but binge-watched the first season a couple months ago. I was so excited when Netflix emailed me to tell me the second season was available. (Netflix knows me, y’all.) I watched those 13 episodes like I had nothing else to do and then Google told me the show had been canceled. Yes, I was Googling to find out when season three was coming on so I could set my DVR accordingly. Bummer.

(My new Netflix addiction is "Hawaii Five-0.")

3. Cate spent the first 2-plus months of school sitting on a dictionary.

I know you’re thinking, “What? Why?” because that’s what I thought when we were in the McDonald’s drive-thru and she made a comment about getting used to sitting on hard surfaces. Um, why child? Turns out her desk is too tall, but when it’s lowered to the next level, it’s too short. After telling me about how the dictionary solves the height issue, she told me she sometimes tries to sneak a seat in her friend’s chair because he sits on a desk chair cushion.

I ordered her the same desk chair cushion – although in a different color – from Amazon right there in the McDonald’s drive-thru. In other mom confessions, that was the second time I had been in the McDonald’s drive-thru THAT DAY. The first time was that morning for a large Diet Dr Pepper for myself. The second time was that evening for a large Coke for my best friend.

4. A Thanksgiving road trip to Buffalo, NY doesn’t necessarily mean snow.

People thought we were crazy for going, but we wanted to visit my sister and her family, so we went anyway. Two of the days we spent there were in the 50s. Okay, so the other one was in the mid-30s, but there was no snow.

Of course, there were no babies either. My sister is almost 37 weeks pregnant with twins, and I was not-so-secretly hoping she’d go into labor while we were there. She didn’t. But I was glad to hang out with her , her husband, and her almost-2-year-old son.

(More on our trip coming later this week.)

5. Liane Moriarty is my kind of author.

I read “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” this summer while sitting by the pool. This month I read “The Husband’s Secret” and “What Alice Forgot” then started “Big Little Lies” on our way home Sunday. I like the way the stories are told using various characters who are somehow intertwined. There’s a mystery element of what’s going to happen next or be revealed from the past that keeps me turning the pages.

6. Six or seven hours is a decent night’s sleep.

Y’all know the hardest thing about a newborn for me is the interrupted sleep. I prefer 8 or 9 hours every night. Honestly, Rachel has been a trooper from the beginning – waking up once or twice in the middle of the night to eat and then going back to sleep. Well, when we were in Buffalo, she slept 6.5 hours one night and then 7 hours the next night. THAT’S LIKE ALL NIGHT IN NEWBORN SPEAK. Last night, she managed six straight hours during her first night back in her own bed. I’ll take it … and be hoping for even longer stretches!

7. I can eat buffalo wings with one hand while feeding a baby.

It's true. I had my doubts, but I managed. And then my brother-in-law Zac informed me I was just perfecting my wing-eating technique because he prefers using one hand so the other stays clean. Yes, we ate wings while in Buffalo. Seemed appropriate.

How was your November?

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman, like I do at the end of every month. 

{2013} JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
{2014} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

On saying "I'm happy for you ..." and meaning it {a review & giveaway}

I don’t have a Pinterest account for several reasons, one of which is it makes me hold too tightly to unrealistic expectations. I love social media and the way it connects people. But it’s easy to browse through Facebook posts, Instagram snapshots, and pins and start comparing my own insides – my dreams, my thoughts, my plans, my expectations – to someone else’s outside – their family photos, their vacation spots, their home d├ęcor, and their fairytale.

I know everything that happens in my head, but I’m only seeing a glimpse of what’s actually happening in their lives. I’ve stayed on social media because the good totally outweighs the bad for me, but while reading “I’m Happy For You (Sort Of … Not Really)” by Kay Wills Wyma I found myself wanting to approach my News Feed – and life – in a different way.

I want to say “I’m happy for you …” and mean it more often. {Tweet that.} I want to trade comparison for compassion.

“‘I’m happy for you’ (if you mean it) breathes life into tense and uncomfortable situations. Being preoccupied with how we measure up personally leads to either pride or humiliation, whereas choosing to focus on and congratulate the other person lifts us both up.”
{Kay Wyma on page 24}

In “I’m Happy for You (Sort Of … Not Really),” Wyma shares real-life stories that made me chuckle – because I get them – and inspired me to think about my reactions and expectations. The pages are full of practical advice and encouragement to find contentment in a world that presses us to compare, although I admittedly skimmed over some sections that weren’t relevant to my life or personality.

I remember when I longed to be a mom. Pregnancy announcements would send me into tears – and that was before I even had a Facebook account.

I remember when I decided I wanted to publish our family’s adoption story, which is also part of my faith story, and the internet was full with so many new books and projects that made me wonder if mine mattered.

I remember when I thought I needed to care about every cause I saw posted on Facebook, making me wonder where I could best serve.

But God’s been doing a work to teach me he’s created me with the gifts and interests I have. It doesn’t matter I don’t like to bake. I have my priorities and preferences – and those aren’t always going to look like my friends’ choices.

God is doing a work here – in me – and that doesn’t always translate in a snapshot on Instagram. Even so, I want to celebrate what God is doing here – and what He’s doing elsewhere. I want to live with compassion and let go of comparison.

“Being able to say ‘I’m happy for you’ is not merely about celebrating someone else but about escaping the prison of dissatisfaction built by the bars of self-centered thinking. As we deliberately pursue compassion rather than comparison, we find our lives enlarged. Contentment isn’t something yet to be found out there; it’s right here with us, ready to be enjoyed.”
{Kay Wyma on page 206}

ABOUT THE BOOK :: In her relatable style, Kay Wyma confronts the comparison epidemic raging in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our social-media feeds, offering remedies along the way. “I’m Happy For You (Sort Of … Not Really)” explores the troubling effects of living in an excessively competitive culture — and reveals simple yet effective ways to escape the comparison trap. Paperback, 240 pages. Published by WaterBrook Press (May 5, 2015).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Kay Wills Wyma is a blogger, mother of five, and the author of “Cleaning House” through which she has appeared on “The TODAY Show,” CNN, “The New York Times,” Focus on the Family, and more. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, she held positions at the White House, the Staubach Company, and Bank of America. Kay lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Jon, and their family. Keep up with her at on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

GIVEAWAY :: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a copy of this book, thanks to FlyBy Promotions / Propeller Consulting. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents through Monday, Dec. 7. A winner will be selected randomly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to Propeller Consulting / FlyBy Promotions for providing a copy of this book for me to review in exchange for a review and another copy for one of you! If you have won a prize from Propeller / FlyBy in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving."

I had multiple ideas for a post this week, but, honestly, all the thoughts aren't coming out into words. But these verses? They're speaking right to me and I hope they do you too.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ben is 6!

Photo by Courtney French

Dear Ben,

I may say this every year for the rest of your life, but I can’t believe you’re 6!

I’ve known for a long time you were meant to be a middle child. You’re part entertainer and part nurturer. And, boy, do you love your baby sister! One afternoon recently Rachel was fussing. She was just restless. You propped her up on her Boppy pillow and got in her face. Your laughing and talking soothed her … and you even got a sweet baby smile back!

(You love your big sister too – usually you just have different ways of expressing that.)

Before you were born, Aunt Cassie taught 2-year-old Cate to say, “My brother is sandwich.” Cate had no idea why we all thought it was funny, but Aunt Cassie liked that your initials were going to be BLT. Just like a sandwich.

Now you are a boy sandwich between two brown-eyed girls. And that’s where you belong.

You’re funny and brave. You’re always thinking and moving and ready to run. You make friends with anyone and always want to know what’s coming next. You’re tender-hearted and loud. You like building with Legos, playing soccer, learning to read, and asking questions. Your weekly allergy shots don’t faze you. Lately you’ve had the sweetest prayers to share about our family, school, and your friends.

Honestly, your personality has challenged me to get out of my orderly comfort zone. But, you know, discovering how to live outside the lines is good for me. You’re good for me, sweet boy. And you’re good for the world around you.

Keep loving and living loudly – and I know God is going to use your mightily. (Just don’t forget to listen to your parents too.)

Happy birthday, Benjamin!

Read excerpts from my ebook, "Peace in the Process," about Ben’s birththe second adoption process, and how mothering two was so hard in the beginning. I shared last week at Circles of Faith about my Thanksgiving baby

If you want to read more about how infertility to lead us to adoption and built my faith, be sure to take advantage of my ebook sale, which continues through tomorrow. It's just 99 cents through Nov. 24. 

Look back with me on Ben’s life :: Ben is 1Two Years of BenCelebrating Three Years of BenBen is 4! For Ben, who is 5 & loves loudly

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rachel @ 2 months

Various people have asked what I think about being a mom to three. Short answer: We feel like Rachel has been a part of our family longer than she actually has.

It’s been almost six years since I had a baby, and, honestly, it’s easier this time. I don’t mean all the days or all the moments are easy. But my last baby was harder – in part to his personality and because I also had a 2 1/2-year-old girl. Now I have an 8 1/2-year-old girl and a boy who turns 6 in a few days. They go to school and they can be helpful when they’re home. Rachel is a calm baby who is happy to go wherever.

And I’m not who I was eight or six or even two years ago. I’m grateful this was God’s plan, even when I tried to rush the plan.

{More on my plans and how God’s plans are better in my ebook, “Peace in the Process,” which is ON SALE RIGHT NOW! Just 99 cents through Nov. 23!}

Have I told you they argued so much about who would sit next to Rachel in the mini van that we had to come up with a plan? Rachel was just days old when I decided we’d switch weekly – on Sundays before church. Thing is, at this point Rachel still spends much of her riding time sleeping.

Anyway, that’s the kind of problem I’ll take as a mom of three!

Moving on to the update on the youngest one …

Officially two months yesterday, Rachel is wearing size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothes. She’s 10 pounds 9 ounces (30th percentile) and 22 1/2 inches (50th percentile). She eats 3 to 4 ounces every 3 to 4 hours. She’s been waking up once in the middle of the night – the last couple nights she’s gone down around 10 p.m. and then eaten around 3 a.m. and then again at 6:30 a.m. Of course, that could change tomorrow.

Basically, we can see her growing before our eyes.

We also see her play with her hair when she’s going to sleep and swat at toys while sitting in her bouncy seat or laying on the play mat. She’s been more expressive lately – and we’re especially enjoying her grins!

I can’t imagine how my big kids will argue over sitting near her when she actually can interact. Being a mom of three may drastically change!

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

His View :: ESV Men's Devotional Bible

In full disclosure, sometimes buying gifts for my husband is hard. This fact frustrates me because he’s my favorite human and gift giving is my love language. (Well, one of them, you know, depending on the circumstances.) With that said, I actually already have his Christmas present for this year and I’m determined to keep it a secret.

Maybe you’re like me and have a hard time finding a gift for your man. If that’s the case, Greg is here to share his thoughts on the new "ESV Men’s Devotional Bible." AND read on because we’re giving one a way. Maybe you could gift it to that hard-to-buy-for man in your life.

(And, no, the free copy of this Bible we received from FlyBy Promotions/Propeller Consulting in exchange for this review is NOT his Christmas gift.)

"ESV Men's Devotional Bible" offers a convenient daily devotion for men who want to have a consistent quiet time. The devotions are broken into 365 days with a short commentary on the scripture reading. I really enjoyed the insights of the various authors who contributed. The devotions are tailored to be relevant to men in our generation, and address many of the challenges which American men face. The authors provide solid insight into Biblical application on issues ranging from pornography to our identity as children of God, and practically every topic in between.

For anyone new to Bible study, there are some helpful summaries at the beginning of each book that orient the reader to the place, time and context of the Scripture. These are good reminders even for people who have read the Bible through many times, and provide firm ground for the new believer.

Normally I prefer the NIV translation, but I liked reading this ESV Bible, which will be a good resource for my own study. If you are a man who would like to read through the Bible in a year, this would be a good place to start. I am glad to have this Bible to add to my library, and look forward to reading through this Bible in the years to come.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: With 365 theologically rich and gospel-centered devotions drawn directly from the Bible, this all-new resource was created under the editorial oversight of Dr. Sam Storms with contributions from more than fifty Christian leaders. Introductions orient men to each book of the Bible, exploring its unique contribution to a man's walk with God.

Hard cover. Published by Crossway (Oct. 30, 2015). Retails for $34.99, although it’s been cheaper on Amazon.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER :: The purpose of Crossway has been, from its founding as a not-for-profit ministry in 1938, to publish gospel-centered, Bible-centered content that will honor our Savior and serve his Church. They seek to help people understand the massive implications of the gospel and the truth of God's Word, for all of life, for all eternity, and for the glory of God.

Follow Crossway on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY :: And there's a copy for one of you! Use the Rafflecopter widget below for entries. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. A winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to Propeller Consulting/FlyBy Promotions for providing Greg with a copy of this Bible to review as well as the additional Bible for one of you! If you have won a prize from Propeller/FlyBy in the last 30 days or have won this same book from another blog, you’re not eligible to win.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

My Thanksgiving Baby

Ben’s birth story is an excerpt from “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family,” which is available on Amazon and tells about the hard season of infertility that led to two adoption processes and the days since. And, more recently, we’ve welcomed a third child into our family and are in the process of adopting Rachel, who was born in September 2015. In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, “Peace in the Process” is on sale for 99 cents through Nov. 24.

On Saturday, November 21, 2009, my sister-in-law Angela asked me what my perfect timing would be for Ben to be born. Leigh, my son’s birth mom, had been on bed rest because he’d threatened to come early, so we were glad he was still inside growing at 38-plus weeks. I answered Angela’s question honestly: Sunday or Monday.

Well, Monday started with me going with Leigh to a check-up appointment. We learned she was 5-6 centimeters dilated. Given that she had initially dilated two months earlier, we were happy to be just eight days from his due date. Our doctor friend was confident he’d deliver our son soon and wanted Leigh to get ready for delivery.

Turns out, he was right.

After Leigh and I made necessary arrangements, we met at the hospital a little later that day.

Benjamin Lucas was born November 23, 2009, three blocks from our house. His sister, who was almost 31 months old, was thrilled to welcome him into our family. Once again God knew the desires of our heart and fulfilled them in his time. He showed us his faithfulness in such a tangible way. This time it came into the world at 2:56 p.m. the Monday before Thanksgiving, weighing 7 pound 10 ounces and with a head full of dark hair. ...

Six years ago, Ben’s first outing was on Thanksgiving to my in-law’s house, where the turkey was 2.75 times my boy’s weight. After being unsure if I would become a momma, having a second child in a way only God could orchestrate makes me especially thankful. He’ll forever be my Thanksgiving baby – which is quite appropriate, really.

Join me today at Circles of Faith, where I’m sharing the rest of this excerpt about my Thanksgiving baby. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

a beautiful exchange {guest post & giveaway}

One of my favorite things about the internet is connecting with people who share interests. And y'all know adoption is a favorite topic around here. Megan Nilsen sent me a copy of her book, which is an adoption story, but, really, it's a story of saying yes to God. I've enjoyed reading it often with my own latest adoption story in my arms. 

I'm excited to welcome Megan to my online home so she can share a piece of her story. And stay with us until the end because she's going to share her book with TWO OF YOU! 

Before starting the adoption process, we decided to interview families we knew who had adopted.

Perhaps many of you did the same. After all, we figured these families had walked the road already and may have some wisdom to share. Boy did they! Adoptive families are some of the absolute coolest.

Nearly without fail, every conversation we had could be boiled down to one main theme. Time and again we heard these words ...

“Adoption is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but it’s absolutely the best.”

And each time, I would walk away from the conversation or hang up the phone and think, “Really? Is that what we want? Hard?? I mean, we totally want to follow God’s call ... Yes, we want the best! But do we really want the possible hard that comes with it? It all seems so — risky.”

For a long time, the idea remained just that. An idea.

The notion of adoption comfortably took a back seat as the daily regimen of school choir concerts, dance recitals and soccer games filled our days with our older two. The idea sifted through my mind every so often like sand in an hourglass. My mental to-do/prayer list (they often overlap) read as follows:

* Don’t forget to buy milk.
* Figure out the name of that cool paint color from the Pottery Barn catalog.
* Please be with Uncle So-and-So who is battling cancer.
* Email the teacher to ask about the field trip tomorrow.
* Also, God — if you’re calling us to adopt, just remember our hearts are “open.” And if
you do want us to adopt, could you please write it in the sky or something? That
would be helpful. Thanks.

God didn’t exactly write it in the sky, but he wrote the call on our hearts. As they days ticked by, we couldn’t get the drum beat of these thoughts out of our head. Like a catchy lyric turning over and over in my mind, this idea of adoption, that it might possibly be for us, kept knocking at the door of our hearts and wouldn’t abate.

Four years have passed now since we brought our two youngest home from Ethiopia at the tender ages of eight and five. And I am among the ranks of those saying those exact words to others — Adoption has been by far the hardest thing, but it unequivocally the best.

Lest you be deceived into thinking this story had a fairy-tale ending, I can assure you the transition home was nothing short of “other-worldly” for the lot of us. Grief loomed large over our home for quite a while, manifesting in all sorts of tantrums and tears. And not only from the kids! I must confess, my own heart wrestled to embrace the new family dynamics as well.

In the months that followed, I began a journey of my own — a journey that has rearranged everything I thought I knew about life and love. So much so, I often wondered if life would ever return to “normal.”

Thankfully, God exchanged my short-sighted plan for a new, exponentially more beautiful normal — one drafted by His own hand.

Sometimes I imagine attachment in adoption like a tree. A tree that needs time and tender care to sprout and grow. A tree that brings with it the gift of new life. This “adoption” tree has ushered me into perspectives of the Kingdom I don’t think I would have experienced otherwise. The fruit it bears brings us more joy, growth and continuous beauty than we ever dreamed possible.

God’s tender love and mercy drew us to this tree. To eat of its fruit opens our eyes to a bit of heaven on earth. While this journey of adoption has brought me to the end of myself, it has also ushered me to the foot of the cross.

That is a gift for which I am forever grateful. It truly is, a beautiful exchange!

Megan Nilsen is the mother of four children — two biological, two adopted, and by all accounts the most beautiful kids in the world (at least according to their unbiased mother). She is married to her college sweetheart. Together, they believe the local church is the hope of the world. When she’s not coordinating crazy carpool schedules, she rejuvenates as part of the teaching team for her church’s weekly Bible study. Megan passionately pursues writing as a way to process God’s ever-active work in the world. She gets the biggest rush out of connecting with people and swapping stories of the heart. She and her family live in Colorado. You can find her blogging about it all with two of her dearest friends at

And now for the giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter widget below for multiple ways to enter to win one of the two copies of "A Beautiful Exchange." The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Two winners will be randomly selected on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, November 13, 2015

OPEN HEAVEN / River Wild {a review & giveaway}

I like different kinds of music for different moments in life. I have my favorite road trip songs and know which songs will help improve my mood. There are songs that take me back to moments I want to remember and the ones that remind of my people I love.

Hillsong’s newest worship album “OPEN HEAVEN / River Wild” released last month. For me, it’s good music to play while I’m working on other things. I had it playing on my laptop when I was writing blog posts, scheduling social media, and responding to emails recently. I liked it for that because truth filled the silences but I wasn’t distracted from what I was doing.

I enjoy live music, so that’s another reason I enjoyed this worship album, which the Hillsong Worship and UNITED teams recorded in July at the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia. It’s the 24th annual live worship album by Hillsong.

The opening track – “O Praise The Name” – may be my favorite.

“… O praise the Name of the Lord our God / O praise His Name forevermore / For endless days we will sing Your praise / Oh Lord, oh Lord our God / He shall return in robes of white / The blazing sun shall pierce the night / And I will rise among the saints / My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face …”

I also really like track 10, “In God We Trust.” It’s an anthem packed with promises about the One in whom we believe and praising who He is and what’s he doing.

… Now in God we trust / In His Name we hope I know / God will not be shaken / God is here with us / He’s already won I know / God will not be shaken / You’ll finish what You’ve begun / Forever strong in Your love / Your Name is sure / And You will fight for us / Our hope forever secure / In You alone …”

GIVEAWAY :: Capitol Christian Music Group sent me two copies of this CD – one to review and one for you. But the songs are imported to my iTunes account, so I’m going to giveaway both copies! Admittedly, one has been opened and put in my laptop (once!), but it’s like new and can be enjoyed by someone else.

Use the Rafflecopter below for multiple entries. TWO WINNERS will be randomly chosen on Friday, Nov. 20. {And if you don’t win or just can’t wait, you can order the album on iTunes or Amazon.}

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Capital Christian Music Group gave me a CD to review and another one to giveaway, but these opinions are my own. This post also contains Amazon affiliate links.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Not Unto Death {a guest post for #ThreeWordWednesday}

I have a treat for you today. I want you to meet my friend Britta LaFont, who encourages well while teaching scripture. She regularly links up with #ThreeWordWednesday and we are in an online blogging group together. And today she's here to share a story with you. 

When the phone rang, I thought it was my parents, calling to wish Joshie Boy a happy seventh birthday. Our little family was gathered around the table, laughing and soaking up this golden moment. We were at the end of a long, hard health season for my husband.

It was Momma on the other end of the line and I could tell she had been crying. She had surgery two weeks before, a hernia repair, and they removed some fatty tissue from the area. When Momma had her post-operative checkup, what was supposed to be a routine appointment suddenly turned very serious.

The tissue sample came back as cancer, with undifferentiated cells. The experts in the lab couldn’t tell what kind of cancer from the sample, but it turned out to be very advanced ovarian.

The moment she called was surreal. I rose from the table and wandered into my bedroom, settling on the floor of my quiet walk-in-closet. The party sounds were muffled. The wooden kitchen table was a long way off. The news seemed impossible: she … a non-smoker, non-drinker, with no "female" cancers in her medical history?

Not long afterward, during my devotional time, I ran across the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. As I read it, I felt peace fall on me. Remember the one? When Lazarus was sick, and things looked bleak, Mary and Martha called for Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:3-4, KJV).

Not unto death. Those words encouraged me and, when I shared them with Mom, she told me that passage had been warming her heart too.

One morning a few weeks later, as I talked with the kids about Mom’s cancer, I told them they were very important in this process, because we needed their prayers. Then we opened the Bible for our scheduled daily reading and turned to the story in Luke 5:17-26.

A paralytic man was brought to Jesus by his friends, but the crowd around Jesus was so great, that they had to lower him down through the roof of the house. They were so sure that Jesus could help him, and they loved him so much, that nothing could stop them from bringing their friend to Jesus for healing. We felt an immediate connection with this story.

I was amazed – I had not previewed the bible lesson. We reread the verses and inserted my mom's name throughout the passage. It was a powerful moment. We brought her to Jesus. And we felt comforted that He would heal her too, just like the man in the story, so that in the end, it could be said about all of us that “amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen extraordinary things today’” (Luke 5:26).

A little more than four years later, my mother and father volunteer every Tuesday at the hospital where she was treated for stage 3C ovarian cancer. Daddy pushes wheelchairs and Momma prays with people. She gardens, travels, cooks for the sick, and recently started a women’s ministry at her small church. We are all thankful her sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. {Tweet that.}

Britta LaFont is a sojourner. She was a military kid and is a military wife. She lives in the hot, hot desert of Arizona far, far away from her New Orleans family. She gratefully homeschools two of her most favorite people on the planet: 12-year-old Gracie and 10-year-old Josh. Britta and her husband Scott recently celebrated their 21st Anniversary and foresee a happy ending to this military life in the very near future. Britta writes about how loving God and loving people are helping her learn to love life at Britta Lafont ~ Walking in Love.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Count it ALL joy {even while waiting & in trials}

Kayla Slack and I met at an adoptive moms retreat Hope That Binds hosted earlier this year. I understood her story because I’d been there too. We connected that day and have gotten together several times since. We talk adoption often and I’ve been so excited to pray for and be a small part of her journey to motherhood. 

She’s sharing about waiting and choosing joy in her post today, but I have to let you know in on a God moment. On Oct. 26, the day she wrote this post, Kayla and her husband, Casey, were matched with a birth mom. THE SAME DAY. After she emailed me this post about waiting and choosing joy, God revealed some of his plan for her family. The texts that followed included many exclamation points, but the basic news is Kayla and Casey Slack are going to welcome a baby boy into their family in February. 

While celebrating with them, continue to pray for them and the brave birth mom in Texas as they all navigate the emotions and process that is adoption. Coming alongside families like the Slacks is just one way you can celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month. 

We were led to adoption this time about a year ago because of our struggle with infertility. We both had always known we would adopt, but we figured it would be later on down the road. I was on fertility medicine that literally made me go crazy, so we felt led to stop pursuing fertility treatment at that time.

I wanted to pursue adoption as soon as we made the choice to start … like right then, that same day. I tend to set a timeline, make plans, work hard to see that it happens and have control over it, and then I am crazy upset when it fails. This was October 2014 and we decided to wait until January 2015 to begin our process. We printed applications, met with others who were adopting or had adopted to gather info, and prayed.

In attempt to control the timing I got more upset because my timeline was not working out. In January, God led my heart to wait until March and I obeyed but felt like that was years away! March came, and guess what? We waited a little more. I felt like God said to wait six more months. I counted up six months and thought, "Oh, September? Nah, God does not want me to wait until then. August. August sounds better."

Coming closer to that time, we got our documents gathered and had our home study visit. Guess what? We became active in SEPTEMBER with Faithful Adoption Consultants. Praise the Lord that His will and his plans are higher and better and they always work out no matter how hard we attempt to make ours work.

This waiting process has been so hard but so amazing. I am learning there is always purpose in waiting. The sanctification that comes along in waiting for something your heart longs for is tremendous. Praise God he does not leave us where we are! He draws us so close to Him and makes us more like Him!

Many of you know the infertility struggle well. The heart aching, longing, crying, begging, screaming, bitterness, and jealousy you have to fight through to find happy words and a smile when others get what you beg the Lord for constantly. It was one of the hardest times of my life. I wanted to be kind, sweet, and joyful for others.

Waiting for me in our adoption process has been hard, yet beautiful. I am supposed to count it all joy when trials come (James 1:2). I am to rejoice. I have been begging God to be excited and so happy first when someone gets something I want because it is a time to celebrate! I am also learning that it is okay to be sad. I used to think that it was wrong if I was sad and happy at the same time. I am learning to choose those joyful feelings over the sad ones, but I know now that I am going to feel those together sometimes.

God is showing me that He is my true treasure. I do not know why I tend to forget this so much! He is what I long for. If I get nothing else in this life, I should be content with the Lord alone. He is really all I need. He is my peace. And even in my toughest and darkest days He will give me peace. I don't think I ever really understood hope either until I have waited for a baby. Some days I have cried so hard and told my husband I feel like I have no hope and that this is never going to happen. (For those of you who do not know me, I am VERY emotional and my emotions are strong!)

I am learning to look past those feelings and know truth despite what I am feeling. We really do have hope. All of us do. My husband keeps telling me, "Babe, it is okay. We are going to get a baby." But you know what? Even if we don't get a baby, it is okay too because we have hope. Our hope is in the Lord. My hope is not in growing our family although sometimes I have allowed it to be.

I praise God because he has made my heart to find joy in life being created, even if that life was not meant to live with me. And, yeah, waiting is hard, but I know the longer I wait the more the Lord is going to teach me and the more I am going to be like Him. So I will wait – and I will be joyful, and sad sometimes. I will continue to cry because that is what I do, but I will also hold onto hope.

Kayla Slack has been married for almost three years and has longed to share parenthood with her husband Casey. She's a registered nurse, lover of animals and babies, friend to the elderly, and one of three girls (including her twin sister!). She lives in Murray, KY. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Choose the Joy

Mary Carver from Giving Up on Perfect is one of my favorite writer friends from the internet. She edited my ebook, writes about some of my favorite things (choosing joy, letting go of perfection, television shows, and bacon ...), and is one of the people I hope to hang out with in real life one day. Until then, Mary is here sharing about choosing the joy one fall day and inviting you to be part of her book's launch team! 

When you buy your kids matching jack o’lantern shirts, there’s an expiration date on appropriate photo-taking opportunities. I mean, sure, they can wear them after Halloween, but it’s a little lame. And making them wear them on the same day and posting all the pictures I snapped on Facebook? Just doesn’t make since once we hit November.

So last week, just a couple days before those shirts were as irrelevant as the VCR sitting in my garage, I put them on my daughters and told them we were going outside.

We grabbed a couple of the pumpkins off the front porch and headed out to the soggy, leaf-covered back yard. I cheered and bribed and begged until I had at least one shot of both girls smiling at the same time. Then I gave up and let them run around like chickens for a while.

[Side note: I don’t know that they literally ran around like chickens. Maybe monkeys? Or just kids giddy to be outside after being indoors most the day. Whatever, they went a little nuts.]

As they ran from tree to fence to tree and back, slipping on hills and sliding on leaves, they couldn’t stop grinning. I could hear, “Freedom” by George Michael playing in my head as I realized that these poor babies really had been cooped up for too long. (Our backyard was overrun by mosquitos and spiders this summer, so for a while it was go to the park or stay inside. In hindsight, not my best mom move. #liveandlearn)

ANYWAY. They played while I watched and snapped a few dozen more pictures. My 8-year-old decided to create a nest for the birds and nothing I could say convinced her that was unnecessary. Meanwhile, my almost-2-year-old discovered how fun it was to roll pumpkins down the hill at the back of the yard.

After a while I said, “Okay, it’s time to go inside. I need to cook dinner!”

I’m sure, if you’ve ever met a child, you can imagine how well that was received. The NOOOOOOs came fast and furious, with a little bit of negotiating from my oldest for good measure. As she ran through her objections and recommended revisions to my plan, she finally landed on a good one. She said: “But, Mom! We’re CHOOSING JOY out here! Don’t you want to take more pictures of us CHOOSING JOY?!”

Well played, child. I see a debate team in your future.

See, my daughter knows that my first book is coming out in a couple months – and she knows the focus is all about finding joy. And, most importantly to her argument, she knows I’ve been working hard to really take the lessons to heart and intentionally choose joy in my day-do-day life.

So that afternoon, as the sun continued to set and we got colder and dinner got later, I decided to choose the joy. I decided to choose my girls and to choose the moment and to choose the joy.

And I decided to make use of that frozen pizza I had bought for nights exactly like that one.

I’m not always good at recognizing the opportunity for joy in my life. Sometimes it takes the heart – and, let’s be honest, the mouth – of a child to make me stop running through my to-do list and start running toward my kids as they laugh in a pile of leaves.

Is it hard for you to choose joy? When was the last time you did?

If you’d like more inspiration to choose the joy, you can find it in "Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts." And if you’d like to help spread the word about the book, I’d love for you to apply for the Choose Joy Launch Team! Click here to apply.

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God's grace. Mary writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at her blog, She is also a regular contributor to several other websites, including (in)courage, a women's website from Dayspring. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, November 2, 2015

{God-sized Dreams} Thankfulness for the hard days

More than two years ago, we were in what we thought would be our family’s third adoption process. But I hesitate to call it a process because we weren’t getting anywhere and hadn't been for quite some time. We met closed doors even though we believed we were pursuing God’s will for our family.

We ended up laying down our desires because my husband Greg and I each had peace that was right – at least until God told us otherwise. ...

So we let go.

And we lived.

And then about 18 months later, God surprised us. He renewed the desire to adopt in a fresh way. He guided conversations between Greg and I. We asked for prayer because we believed God was moving in a new way. ...

Thankfully, the hard days were a just season. {Tweet that.}

Isaiah 43:19 offers so much hope when the days are dreary:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I’m thankful God was working in my life even when that season didn’t look like I envisioned. I’m thankful God made himself known even when we made the hard decision to stop pursuing adoption. I’m thankful he once again knew the desire of my heart and made is a reality in his time – which was better than my time anyway. And I’m thankful God didn’t leave me stranded in the wasteland.

Join me at God-sized Dreams to continue reading this post.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."