Thursday, April 9, 2015

His Heart, His Hands, His Voice

Sometimes God asks you to do things - things you want to do, things that will stretch you, things that seem  IMPOSSIBLE!

A little over a month ago God stretch our faith and our family into a family of 4. Miss Yezme came to live with us. A sweet little 5 year old she blended into our lives with no problems, she is so well behaved, polite, sleeps good, eats good, loves to do crafts, and loves the movie Frozen!

We knew from the beginning that Y had a baby brother coming in late March/ early April and told our agency over and over we would only take her but not the baby we have a 6 month old - our agency liked this plan because they felt Y needed to be focused on and would thrive in an environment where she would get one-on-one time and attention.

Baby Nikolas arrived into the world on April 1 and our well laden plans were blasted to pieces - Daniel and I really like to have a plan. We were informed that the kids had to be placed together and either we took baby N or Y had to be moved... We both knew deep down there was no way we could move Y she was thriving in our home and had endured so much tauma in the past 6 months but how on earth could we take on a newborn with Taelyn and quite franly we didn't want to. Taelyn had started sleeping through the nights and is such an easy baby we love spending time with her and with Y it was totally manageable. There was nothing about having a newborn, 6 month old and 5 year old that seemed remotely doable but we have a God who makes the impossible, possible. So we agreed to take baby N into our home.

Thankfully we had the weekend to prepare but Monday afternoon we brought our new tiny little bundle home. Things have actually gone smoothly. He is only a week old and I know things can change (I am PRAYING so very very very very hard that they don't) he has been sleeping 3-4 hour stretches, eats good and doesn't make much noise unless he is hungry or getting changed. Y loves her little brother and has been a HUGE help she loves to feed him and hold him which is very nice! Taelyn is pretty oblivious except she really cant figure out what is going on when I am holding a bottle and don't give it to her.

I have been very aware in the past how powerful prayers are and once again I am reminded how blessed beyond measure we are to have a praying family and church family. Daniel and I have wonderful parents and siblings who have always been there to help us and share in the journey. We also have AMAZING church family and friends - they have supported us in so so many ways and we are forever grateful for how they are helping change these kids lives.

When I was walking last weekend stewing about the changes to come I heard this song and it really spoke to my heart and gave me a calm that it may not be easy but God can and He will provide.

He said come,
Anyone who wants must deny himself,
Take up his cross, follow me
No matter the cost
Be my heart, my hands, my voice

How are we living for Christ
How are we living for Christ
Following him we will sacrifice
But are we willing to die

God gives the strength that it takes
And he knows the price that you pay
The life you’ve been called to, will not be in vain
So don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid

When you are shackled in chains
Imprisoned for sharing his name
If you should suffer for righteousness sake
Don’t be afraid don’t be afraid

Whoever wants to save his life will lose it
Whoever wants to save his life will lose it
Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it
Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it

Selah "Be His Heart, His Hands, His Voice"

 little baby legs kicking... so so tiny
 love all his dark hair
 happy happy baby girl...
 easter basket pictures a few days late... toys are still interesting after you have played with them for 3 days
 baking a chocolate cake... she is such a helper!
 both girls love to be outside if the sun ever shines again we will be spending lots of time our there - just need to find a double stroller now!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable

I'm runnin' back to Your promises one more time
Lord, that's all I can hold onto
I've got to say this has taken me by surprise
But nothing surprises You
Before a heartache can ever touch my life
It has to go through Your hands
And even though I keep askin' why
No matter what, I'm gonna love You
No matter what, I'm gonna need You
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not, I'll trust You
No matter what
No matter what
When I'm stuck in this nothingness by myself
I'm just sitting in silence
There's no way I can make it without Your help
I won't even try it
I know You have Your reasons for everything
So I will keep believin'
Whatever I might be feelin', that You are my hope
And You'll be my strength

Read more: Kerrie Roberts - No Matter What Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It seems that when I am struggling the words to songs always are God's way of getting my attention and giving me courage and strength. This past Saturday we spent the afternoon with "lil" Z. Oh how I have missed him he transitioned to his grandparents in June and we spent the day with him in late July but hadn't seen him since. We had a busy fall so it was ok but it seemed like once Taelyn was born I missed him more than ever - maybe it was just the reminder of what it was like to be a mom and he is the lil guy that first made me a mom.

Back in December we were supposed to spend the afternoon with him but the day before our visit his grandma text me and said that he was sick and wouldn't be able to come and I was heartbroken - I missed him soo much and I wanted him to meet Taelyn so badly. In early January I checked in with his grandma and asked her if we would be able to have him visit in late January and she said that we would have to see - they had a court date coming up and she wasn't sure it would work because it looked like he may be transitioning home to his mom and dad.

To be very honest this filled be with a lot of fear but over the next few days God challenged me to examine my heart and sadly I admit that compassion for Zanders birth parents was missing and I had very selfish thoughts. God reminded me that Zanders mom worked really hard to be able to get him back and that I instead of letting my fears rule my heart I needed to let compassion rule my heart. 

Saturday was a wonderful day... Z was bouncing in his grandmas car when we pulled into the parking lot, he came running to give us hugs and show us his 'paper bite" on his finger... we introduced him and his grandma to Taelyn and they both got some smiles. As we were driving home Daniel and I could hardly believe how far he had come in a few short months - his vocabulary has grown tremendously and he has gotten so tall. He kept showing Taelyn his "paper bite" and when she fussed he would shush her and it was so so precious. It worked out for all our family to come and visit him and we had some very special times and had quite a few laughs.

As the afternoon wore on he became a lil more attached to us again and kept hanging on my legs and giving me hugs - I wanted to just sit in a corner and weep and run away with him because I knew that this was probably the last time I would see my Zander and I couldn't stand the thought of it. I knew I had to be strong because he would see my tears and ask me what was wrong.

A little after 5 we met with Nana and Papa and gave him our final hugs. As we drove away I saw him throwing a fit in the back seat of the car and I really wanted to throw one myself and tell God that it wasn't fair - why did He ask me to love this little boy and then give him back, how did He expect me to go through this process again and again, did He really think my heart could handle the pain?

I am so thankful God knows my heart and knows how to heal the pain that it feels. I know that He will comfort me and carry me when the days feel pretty bleak. I know that He will give me strength to open my home and heart to more children and he will give me the courage to face more "goodbye's" not knowing what tomorrow holds but knowing that God holds all our tomorrows.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

8 Months Later

8 months later our life has not slowed down at all... I haven't blogged during our journey with 'lil' Z partly because I have not had much spare time but also because it is very difficult for me to not share too much information --- so for everyone's sake I just decided it was easier to take a break.

Here is a brief update timeline

October - choas, went from zero to 60 in apporximately 2 hours. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out daycare, early childhood, and how to accomodate a 3 year old to our already busy life

November - Z started Early Childhood in Eureka and quickly began picking up words and putting 2-3 word phrases together. Kristin my amazing sister-in-law also agreed to babysit him 3 days a week while I work. What an angel and blessing she has been.

December - Insanity... The holidays are busy without kids add in a 3 year old and you have insanity. We missed out on a couple of extended family Christmas's because Z got the flu but we were able to enjoy Christmas with both of our families and Z was very very spoiled.

January - Daniel and I went to Hawaii with Mom & Dad Stoller and Jill for 10 days. Z was left in the very wonderful hands of a family in Goodfield. We enjoyed our time away but came back to the news that Z's paternal grandparents were interested in him coming and living with them.

February - Working with Family Core, Z's parents and grandparents we decided that it would be best that Z not transition to his grandparents until the end of the school year.

March - We began weekend visits to Z's grandma and grandpas which started out a little rough in the beginning but very quickly Z began to get excited to go to Nana and Grandpa's and spent a week there during his spring break. Daniel and I were also very excited to find out that we were expecting a little miracle of our own in October. God's timing is SOOO very perfect!

April - Daniel started out the month with double hernia surgery which laid him up for a while but with it being spring he was back to work in no time at all. Z has been loving the warmer weather and spends as much time outside as possible. Last weekend we went up to a small waterpart with Mom & Dad Stoller, Derek & Kristin, and Jill. Z loved the water park and became quite brave jumping off the sides and going completely under the water.

So here we are now... It has been a crazy 8 months but we have grown soo much and I am so beyond thankful for the time that Z has been in our home. As June gets closer my heart gets heavier and heavier with the thought of Z leaving. I have a complete peace that he is going where he needs to be going. I trust his grandparents and have witnessed the love they have for him and I have no doubt he will be loved and well cared for -  it really is a blessing and comfort to my heart. Even with the immense peace I feel my heart still aches for the changes that I know are coming... My life has changed so much in 8 months, I am very indpendant so a small part of me is looking forward to being able to go for morning runs again... run to the store whenever I need to... not constantly worry about having a babysitter lined up... sleeping past 6:30 once in a while.. but there are soo many more things that I will miss... evening snuggling, new words and phrases, watching a movie 5 times in a row, little hand prints all over my windows from watching for the cho cho trains ( I will never see or hear a train again without thinking of my lil Z bug)... I know that in a few short months I will have another little bug to care for and I am so very very thankful that God heart my plea and answered it by giving me this precious baby to look forward to and help me through the changes.

I have had a pretty good pregnancy so far - I have my days but for the most part I have been feeling about 75% which is much better than many others. I have been battling headaches and migraines which really isn't anything new to me except I am limited to Tylenol which does not help much at all. My Dr. very kindly ordered a special pain killer that is safe for me to take but it makes me feel sick and doesn't always get rid of the headache but it works well enough and I am thankful for it.

Just this morning I woke up with a massive migraine, moving my head was so extremely painful that I just laid there until I head Z come out of his room and he crawled into bed with me and cuddled up... I told him that mom had an ouchy head and he leaned over and gave me a big kiss said 'i love you' and started to rub my back...

I will miss these times very much come June but for now I am so thankful that God brought this lil guy into our lives, he has changed us and I will never be the same. He made me a mom and I love him with all my heart he will always be my first baby... People have been asking me if I would rather have a boy or girl and really I don't care at all I will be happy with either one. Usually I say Girl because I think it would be really fun to have a girl with the twins only being a year older but deep down I think I want a girl more because Z is my lil guy and while I know I have plenty of room in my heart for 2 lil guys its hard to imagine having a lil guy besides Z living in our house, sleeping in his room, playing with his toys... someday I know it will happen but right now a girl seems like a good change...

As you can tell from my few previous posts songs often speak to me and this song is no different...

When a broken heart heals, it beats that much stronger
it loves that much deeper, it learns to forgive.
With every tear it closer to mending
and the scars are just marks of a fighter that didn't just lay down and die when he could not feel. 

in His strength alone,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Week Ago

A week ago we welcomed 'lil' Z into our home. Last Thursday around 4 I got a call from our Licensing Worker and she needed a home for a 3 year old boy - an hour and 15 mins later we were headed home with the lil guy in tow.... I say lil but really that is far from the truth... 'lil' Z  weighs in at 46 lbs and is as tall as most 6 or 7 year olds...

I can honestly say that our week has gone fairly smooth - we have had our moments or hours when Daniel and I just looked at each other wondering what we have gotten ourselves into... I am sure there will be many more of those times to come but for the time being the house is quiet and 'lil' Z is tucked into bed snoring away. The first couple nights we were extremely spoiled - he slept all night but now he seems to think that 1:00 am is a great time to wake up and wonder around the house... I don't really mind getting up and cuddling him back to sleep its the getting up at 4:30 am to stay that is a little more difficult to handle :-) 

The past week would not have gone as smoothly as it has without our families, we have been sooo humbled by the love that our families have already poured into 'lil' Z's life. I never doubted that our family would love any child that came into our home but it is amazing how God works in hearts and continues to stretch us to love just a little bit more. It's like my mom said... it's impossible not to love him when you ache for where he came from and you want to fix it for him and keep him from getting hurt again.

It seems like we have already come so far in just a week I really can not wait to look back over the weeks and see each area that 'lil' Z has improved and grown. He is delayed in his speech but he seems to add a couple words each day.. Today he kept going to the garage door and saying  "bye, bye, daddy"... this may seem normal to most but for 'lil' Z it is a huge improvement... First... he says 'daddy' and second... he loves his daddy and his daddy gets him all wound up and laughing - less than a week ago when i left the room he would cry out scared to be left with Daniel and wouldn't even hardly let him hold him. 

I think I may have posted lyrics to this song before because I really love it but tonight when I was driving home from the doctor the words just jumped out at me and become so much more real.

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty 
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

We have been so blessed by our friends and family, we can not thank you enough for your love and support. Thank you for lifting us up in prayer in the past and please continue to do so in the future as we know that there will be difficult times ahead. I will try to update my blog as much as possible but believe me adding a 3 year old to your home keeps you moving and there always seems like there are a million things to do when things are finally quiet.

have a blessed evening.
Daniel, Larissa, and 'lil' Z

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I have all these plans....

I've got all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold
And I don't know why,
I got a front row seat
To the longest wait
And I just can't see
Past the things I pray

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don't look around
Any place I'm in
Grows strangely dim

The above lyrics really echo the thoughts that have been going through my head in the past few weeks. I knew when we answered God's call to become foster parents that it would be life changing, that it would stretch me and grow me in many, many ways... However, I did not expect that to happen before we actually had kids enter our home. Since October we have been playing the waiting game... waiting for our background checks... waiting for home visits... waiting for our license to be processed... and now waiting for a placement call... YES, OUR LICENSE OFFICIALLY ARRIVED!!!! 
One of my biggest struggles has always been patience... I am not a patient person. Just ask my parents, siblings, and husband.... I like things NOW! 
God has a different plan...
He knows that I need to learn the art of patience...
Patience in change, Patience in marriage, Patience in parenting, Patience with the Foster System....

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."
Col 1:12

I pray that as we wait I can learn to be patient with JOY and ALWAYS give thanks to the Father. That in the wait God can refine my heart to reflect His love - not only to the children that enter our home, but to those I work with, live with, and come into contact with daily. The song lyrics below always rekindle the fire in my heart to serve those who don't know or have not recognized redemption in Jesus saving blood. This song refers to little children but God has clearly reminded me that whether we are 4 years old or 80 years old we are all little children in His eyes.

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved
Boys become kings, girls will be queens

Wrapped in Your majesty 
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

May God Bless you this week as you journey on towards the Kingdom.
Thank you all for your prayers and support we feel and appreciate them very much!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Around or Through

When facing the fires of life have you ever thought if you are going through the fire or if God has provided a way around the fire?

I am currently in a Beth Moore bible study on the book of Daniel. When I began this study I never dreamt it would become so real to me. Daniel fascinates me, I have often prayed for a purpose and discipline like Daniel had when he was faced with trials and everyday life. Each week I am confronted by the Word of God and how I am living in a culture that seems to be filled with a mentality very similar to the Babylon Daniel lived it. How do I respond to a society that has a focus on staying young, looking beautiful, and being smart and successful? Is my focus on me… or is it on God and the mission field he has laid out before me?

A couple weeks ago our bible study lesson was on the fiery furnace… A couple weeks ago I was in the midst of a personal battle (or fire if you will). God had closed the door for me to work part time at the bank and I was very upset by this. I had a lot of concerns and quite frankly this was not what I had planned nor was it what I wanted – notice it was not what Larissa planned or what Larissa wanted – BUT… what was God’s plan and what did God want? I spent a lot of time asking God to remove my desires and to change my attitude and surrender my will to His. At bible study Thursday evening I shared my struggles with these special women who I have come to love so dearly, they encouraged me and prayed for discernment and faith to trust God – as we worked through the outline for the study it was all about going through the fiery furnace. When you are faced with a fiery trial there are 3 scenarios’ that can take place:

1.      God will take you around the fire – and your faith will be built

2.     God will take you through the fire - and your faith will be refined

3.     God will lead you home through the fire – and your faith will be made perfect when you enter Heaven’s Gates.

This lesson really convicted me about my attitude as I faced the ‘fire’ I was currently going through. It encouraged me to focus on trusting God and letting Him remove the bonds that held me and not to ‘smell like smoke’ (be bitter, resentful, unhappy, and angry) when I came through the fire.

Not even two weeks later God answered my prayers in a very mighty way. He opened a door I never dreamt would be opened – it hadn’t even entered my mind actually…. For years I had prayed off and on that God would open a door for me to work at a local flower shop – Floral Designs. I am not quite sure why I wanted to work there soo bad except it is owned by two women I love and respect very much and one of my best friends works there… I don’t have much experience arranging flowers but I love home d├ęcor and planning weddings so why wouldn’t it be a great job! I can never doubt that God knows the desires of my heart – without any warning God opened the perfect door for an opportunity to work at Floral Designs (part time)… I am very excited for this new opportunity and I am looking forward to working with friends and awesome spiritual examples.  I have been at Floral Designs for just over a week and I absolutely love it and often I am still amazing at how God provides and answers my prayers.

So…back to the question that I asked earlier in this loonngg post (I apologize) did I go through the fire or did God take me around the fire??? I am not sure… but I do know that my faith was built and I do believe that it was refined as I learned to trust God and lay my own desires and plans before His feet and simply allow Him to lead my way…

In foster care news – we are still waiting for our background checks to come through and we are finishing up some final paper work… Last week we met with our licensing working and she said that she has been receiving more and more finalized back ground checks back everyday so she felt that is wouldn’t be long.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where are We

You may notice that I have posted a number of posts on the same day. Basically I am playing catch up. Often when I am at work my mind will be whirling, trying to process everything we have learned, what needs to be done, and on and on. Many times I will open a word doc and just jot down thoughts to help relieve my whirling mind, but it seems I rarely have time to post them.
So rather than have a book of an entry I broke it up so that it isn’t quite as overwhelming.

I have been asked quite a bit lately where we are at in the process – here’s where we are:

- Week 7 of Pride classes; we missed a couple weeks early on so we have 2 classes this week and next and our final class will be October 2nd.
- Our background check has been submitted
- Our agency application will be complete next week after Daniel has his physical

We have a meeting scheduled with our licensing worker to submit our application and plan our home inspection. There are a few things I know we need to add to bring our house up to code but they are minor so I think that will go rather smoothly. Additionally we have begun planning to do some work on our basement to make it warm and welcoming for our kiddos. I have been brainstorming on how to organize our house, making lists of what we need to get, and trying to figure out my schedule at work. I am really looking forward to completely our classes and submitting our application and really focusing on making our home ready for kids.

I have already learned so much on this journey and while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, God has provided strength and courage to move forward. Last night when I was driving home the lyrics to a song touched me.
            Show me how to love the unlovable
            Show me how to reach the unreachable
            Help me now to do the impossible

            I want to finally set it free
            So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
            Help me now to give what You gave to me
            Forgiveness, Forgiveness

            Forgiveness ~ By: Matthew West

While these lyrics focus on forgiving others, I feel like these words can pertain to so much more. I know that the lives we are going to come into contact with are a complete wreck. These children may at first seem unreachable, their parents may be unlovable, and it may all seem impossible but with God’s help I can give these hurting souls (parents and children) what Christ gave to me – LOVE and SALVATION!