Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wee One Wednesday: The Sacrifice

A year ago, I wrote a blog post about the immeasurable love of a parent, sharing the truth of how God sent His son to die for us, for our sins:

He sent His own SON to die for us. 

He sacrificed His son to save my own. 
 
And then I went on to say that I, selfishly and sinfully, am not capable of making such a sacrifice. I would never be able to send my child head first into such fate, even if it were for the benefit of others. I would not be able to sacrifice my child.

Which leads me to today and the grief I have been experiencing lately, the tears readily and frequently falling, the deepest ache in the greatest depths of my soul now commonplace, every time I think of our impending adoption. 

Because here's the thing: 

For us to bring home our daughter, another mother has to lose hers first. 

This mother has to sacrifice her daughter--the one she created and loved with all her heart before she ever even laid eyes on her. This mother has to walk away from her beautiful baby, somehow actually walk away from her daughter, knowing she will never see her again. This mother has to live her life wondering what her daughter's laughter will sound like, whether she will prefer braids or buns, what she wants to be when she grows up, what she will enjoy doing on the weekends, who she will fall in love with, what she will look like on her wedding day, how many children she will have, what kind of woman she will became, what kind of career she will choose, what kind of life she will lead. This mother will sacrifice all of those things, all of those moments, all of those feelings, all of those memories. 

She will sacrifice her daughter.

I am not as brave nor as selfless as this mother. But here is what I hope and pray, with all my heart, that this mother knows: that she will always be our daughter's family. She will always be her mother. She will always be treasured within our family as the one who gave us our littlest Lu. She will be spoken of with all of our love and respect because it is the most beautiful, selfless act of God to be able to sacrifice a child in the hopes that she will have a better life. I hope and pray she knows that a mother's love is unconditional, it is not bound by blood nor birth nor name, and that I already love the daughter she brought into this world. And I hope she knows that we love her, too.  


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cheers to...Hump Day, So Long, November Edition

Hello and goodbye, November! Good Lord, you came and went quickly! I'm guessing it's because these last two, seasonal months of the year are chock-full of seasonal events, but man, I can't believe we're already kissing November goodbye. That being said, here's a recap of what some of our last two weeks have looked like. Things we've been saying CHEERS to: 

School feasting. This year, neither Banks' nor Raleigh's Thanksgiving celebrations at school included invitations for us ol' parents. However, Harrison did, and our little chief was SO excited to celebrate with mom and dad. :) 



Basketball. Winter sports are in full swing, with Banks starting basketball last week. His first game is this Saturday, and the kid is pumped...to get his jersey and find out his team name. Ha! And I am so excited that one of my sweet friends' son is on the same team. Win-win!
 
Compassion Experience. We took our lil' trio to an event called The Compassion Experience recently, which is an immersive event that allowed us to learn of the stories of children “suffering under the crippling weight of poverty.” We walked through the exhibit room by room (one depicting a tattered home, another a school house room, etc.) while listening, via iPhones equipped with headsets, to the stories of a child's life. Although the end goal of the exhibit was to elicit sponsorship for any of a number of children whose files were available for viewing, it was a really moving experience to get a very small glimpse into international poverty and the impact of faith. 


Thanksgiving with family. As we have done each of the 12 years since we've been married, my hub and I (and our kiddos, of course) feasted with both "sides" of the family for Thanksgiving. First, we ventured to Aiken, South Carolina, to my "in-laws'" home, where there were lots of cousin laughs and lots of grown-up laughs: 






Then, we ventured back home to the Mill, where my "side" of the family came up to visit, where there were lots of cousin laughs and lots of grown-up laughs: 






Black Friday shopping. We also continued the tradition of girls' Black Friday shopping Friday morning (which always includes my momma, grandma, aunt, and whoever else is still in town and able to join in the fun) followed by lunch, and then golfing for the guys that afternoon. 


I was also able to sneak in a tennis lesson and match with the best tennis player I know, my momma (and my tennis partner, V, and her hubby). :) 


Doubles. Oh, and speaking of tennis, V and I managed a win...our very last match of the season. :) We had the BEST time playing and will be playing regularly in a weekly tennis clinic so that we can be ready to take on our opponents next season. 


Noonday. One of my sweet friends and neighbors recently hosted a Noonday party, and we were all able to buy some GORGEOUS jewelry while supporting artisans from around the world. And because Noonday was originally founded as an adoption fundraiser, 10% of the party sales are given to an adoptive family of the host's choice. I was so, SO thankful that Lauren so kindly offered these funds for our fundraising efforts. Jewelry for a good cause with a side of girl time? Yes, please!


Clemson Tigers. My hub and I were able to sneak away for a day/night to one of our favorite places to cheer on our Tigers to a 56-7 victory over our rivals, the Gamecocks. We had so.much.fun. all day and night and now are hoping for a similar outcome when our Tigers head to the ACC Championship game in Orlando this weekend. And our kiddos had a blast hanging with several aunts and uncles, cousins, and Bammy and Digby in Columbia. A good weekend for all! Go Tigers!






Santa. We did something different for our Santa visit this year. My friend (hello again, V), is an incredibly talented photographer with a strong faith and huge heart. So. She partnered up with a local, adorable children's boutique and offered "Santa sessions," which allowed individual families to reserve a time slot where they would have an abundance of time with Santa, all the while having (gorgeous!) photo after photo taken by the one-and-only, Volree Photography. And then? She donated ALL proceeds to Haiti relief efforts. <3 And I cannot WAIT to get our photos back and see the Christmas magic! I snapped one quick shot of my trio on our way back to the car after we were done (and the dress Raleigh is wearing was MINE when I was a little girl! <3 )


Favorite Things Party. It is my MOST favorite party of the year! And it is tonight. Yahoo!!!

Tree hunt. Oh, Christmas tree, Christmas tree...where for art thou, Christmas tree? ;) We traveled to the same tree farm we visit each year to cut down our own tree. We just LOVE traipsing around the farm, in search of the perfect tree! Only this year...the perfect tree was nowhere to be found. :( There was a significantly smaller amount of trees available, and those that were tended to be small and sparse, due to the significant lack of rain this year. So. After venturing around for a bit, we decided that we would have to go elsewhere for our tree this year. :( And FOUR stops later, we finally found it. :) We promptly went home and decorated that bad boy and then drank our hot chocolate, of course



 

Cookies. My kitchen has been in overdrive lately and will continue the next few weeks. I have been cranking out all kinds of cookies in nearly every spare minute. Whew!

And that's all, folks! Well, all I have time to include for now that is - there are cookies to bake, outdoor decorations to hang, shopping to finish, gifts to wrap, Christmas cards to address, birthday parties to plan, laundry to finish, a certain elf's arrival to anticipate, kiddos and a hub to love on, etc. And that's just this week - ha! 

I hope that y'all, too, are enjoying these full, busy days. See you back soon for a fun, festive post!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Friendsgiving 2016

One of the things that has become abundantly clear throughout our adoption process is that we are surrounded by the most incredible, loving, supportive village. Therefore, it was a no-brainer to co-host our first annual Friendsgiving over the weekend, alongside one of our favorite families, as a way of saying thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the gift of your friendship. 


Y'all. 

It was SO fun!!!! We started planning awhile, opting to rent out an outdoor party space at our local Greenway and provide the (fried!) turkeys for our guests. My hub, along with both my oldest son and our co-host counterpart, spent Sunday morning frying up the six turkeys. My garage may still smell like cooking oil but those things were goooooooooood. 



We opted for simple but festive decor, decorating each of the eight picnic tables with butcher table and simple centerpieces (this also made for great coloring surfaces for the kids and easy clean-up ;), with the natural beauty of our surroundings providing the prettiest backdrop. 



We had plenty of outdoor sporting toys for the kids to play with as well as sidewalk chalk and a special coloring table (with the cutest little blank pumpkin-shaped books for the littlest guests to create their own stories). And once the sun went down, we whipped out flashlights and glowsticks for all (and served hot chocolate. Brrr!), so that the kids could still play and be seen by their parents while running around and having a ball. Meanwhile, we parents had plenty of time to eat, chat, and just enjoy each others' friendship.



As for the food, we (and by "we," I mean my co-host and dear friend, Jenna, who took the lead on the organization and supply demands) created an online sign-up so that each invited family could bring their signature dish--from apps to sides, from desserts to wine ;). You better believe the food and bev tables were well stocked. And the food was sooooo tasty! After a quick prayer of thanks, we dug in!




Finally, as a parting gift, we offered each family a cute little bag of homemade, white-chocolate dipped pecans.


Honestly, I had intentions of taking tons of pictures of the whole event--from the kids playing to the adults fellowship-ing ;) and everything else in between, but I was so busy having so much fun with so many well-loved friends that, frankly, I pretty much forgot. 

Regardless, we had such a wonderful time celebrating all things friendship and have already decided to make it an annual event. <3


I hope each of you have a beautiful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. I'll see you back here next week for a recap of the latest in our Lu life. <3 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Giving Thanks

The first thing I do every single morning, as my eyes slowly blink open to greet the day, is lie quietly, feeling the warm bed beneath me and the cozy covers around me, and immediately begin to pray--not a prayer of wants or needs or helps or please. A prayer of gratitude--thanking God for the many, many, MANY blessings of my life, those I do not deserve but those He has graciously bestowed upon me. Thank you, Jesus. I am not worthy.

As we welcome our day of Thanksgiving next week, I thought I would share some of the things I am so very thankful for, both big and small, both simple and deep. To God be the glory for all: 

My faith. My church. My pastor. My LifeGroup. The children's ministry. They mean everything to me.

My husband. How I adore my very best friend--who I am so lucky to walk through life with as we learn and grow and change together, challenge one another, support one another. 

My three biological children. Banks, Raleigh, and Harrison. They have given me my most precious gift -- being a momma. There are simply no words...

My chosen daughter, who we are waiting to pour into--all of our love and laughter and life. All of our family and friends and faith. We cannot wait to bring her home and into us.

My family. My BLOMPS. My Lutons. Family is family--which means family can be complicated and unexpected. Family can be easy. Family can be hard. But family is LIFE to me. Family is unconditional. Family is my world.

My friends. Old and new. New and old. My life is enriched by so many incredible people, from so many different chapters of my life, and I adore each and every one.

My home. I have heat and AC. I have furniture. I have walls and bookshelves that are covered in photos of my people. I have a stocked fridge and full pantry. I have clean, working water at my disposal. There are closets in my house with clothes for my family to wear. There are beds for us to sleep in and blankets to wrap up in. There are televisions for entertainment and a room devoted solely to playing. There is even an extra room that we fill with guests when they need it. We have an office for my husband to work in and a kitchen for me to cook bake in. We have a garage that holds two working vehicles, as well as bikes and scooters and strollers. Home is my haven.

My health and that of my family. And medicine when we need it. And doctors who are able to help us. And health insurance to help cover the costs.

Technology. Although I get approximately 2,567 texts a day from my sistas, I absolutely love that I have the chance to get approximately 2,567 texts a day from my sistas. And the ability to see photos of my nieces and nephews and friends. And the option to FaceTime with our grandparents and traveling Daddy.

My hobbies. Pure Barre. Blogging. Baking. Photo taking. Tennis. Reading. My "me time."

Nights on the couch with my hub. The kids go to bed and it's where we end our day together--television on, me asleep within 30 minutes. It is so comforting to know that it is waiting for me there at the end of the day.

Education. We chose where we live because we love the school system. There are not enough words of gratitude in this world for the amazing teachers who elect to spend their days teaching and loving my babies. What in the world we would EVER do without our teachers?!

Democracy. Being an American. I am so thankful to live in this country, surrounded by so many different people with so many different views and opinions. 

Coffee. I'm a momma of young children. No explanation needed. 

Wine (who am I kidding? Vodka). See reason above. 

My neighborhood. We hit the jackpot. To be surrounded by so many kind and wonderful and fun-loving and supportive friends--we are never leaving this place. 

Online grocery shopping, especially when the temperatures start to dip and/or the rain begins to fall.

Pandora. Jamming out to favorite tunes is the best mood lifter. And yes, that was me you passed by the other day who was dancing like my life depended on it and enjoying every minute (no steering-wheel-finger-tapping-mom-type-dancing happening in my car. No sirree, Bob. I throw DOWN when I drive). 

My husband's job. He provides for our family so I can stay home with our children. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful from the top of my head to the tips of my toes that he affords me this opportunity.

You. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy day to read my words here. Truly. Thank you.

Happy Weekend-Before-Thanksgiving, friends. And thank you God for my many, many blessings. 

Love to you all,

Linds 



Friday, November 11, 2016

Cheers to the Weekend, Hello November Edition

Hi friends! November has arrived with a bang and with it, all the busy-ness the holiday season brings! On that note, here's what we're saying CHEERS to lately:

Doubles matches. One of these reasons I've had less time to blog lately is because I've been hitting the courts with my girl, V, in our doubles tennis league. In fact, we've had two matches this week, and while we may not be bringing home the Ws, we are having so much fun together!

Flag football. Last night, we closed out our third flag football season. Banks continues to be passionate about all things football and is already PUMPED about playing tackle football (gulp. The ONE sport I always swore none of my children would play) next Fall. There's no rest for the weary, though, because as soon as his game ended last night he headed straight to the gym for basketball evaluations. Sheesh!


Clemson Tigers. We continue to cross our fingers and toes and eyes and hairs that our Tigers can continue pulling out the wins and make it to Tampa for the National Championship game. Come on Tigers! We'll be cheering loud and proud as we take on Pittsburgh in Tiger Town tomorrow!

Cookie orders. Despite our broken oven (yes, again), my kitchen has been buzzin' with cookie orders this week, in the form of a cheerleader set and a baby shower set. It'll keep on rockin', too, as I am now booked through the end of the year and already have a couple orders for January. Bringing our daughter home one cookie at a time, while we wait for the phone call that she is ready for us. <3



Healthy kiddos.  I took my boys to the pediatrician for Banks' 7-year well check yesterday (homeboy continues to be at the 99th + percentile for height. He'll be taller than his momma soon!). And while Banks is healthy as can be, he required two sets of hands to hold him down while getting his flu shot. Meanwhile, Harrison barely flinched. I'd say these two have *slightly* different personalities. 

Gymnastics. My Raleigh Jane is still loving gymnastics and was recently asked to move up to the next level of class, an advanced preschool class that will begin to prepare her for competitions. As long as she keeps loving it, we'll keep doing it. Although she has also informed me she wants to dance, play soccer, play basketball, and be "all the other players, too." 

Double date nights. My hub and I snuck out for a double date with some fun friends last weekend and had a blast, just the four of us. 

Democracy. I know the election didn't turn out the way many were hoping (and did turn out the way many were hoping). While I will refrain from political talk here, I will say that I felt privileged to cast my vote on Tuesday, with my little trio in tow. While the hour wait was a little *stressful* while trying to keep my little circus occupied, it was so nice that we ended up in line with friends, which allowed for both momma talk and kiddo hangout time. And what a tremendous gift to be able to expose my kiddos to the beauty that is democracy, which has everything to do with our Veterans. 

Happy Veterans Day to our heroes. Have a beautiful Fall weekend, and Go Tigers!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Confessions

I haven't written one of these in awhile. So. Here are a few confessions I need to get off of my chest: 
  • I still use paper versions of calendars, address books, journals, and to-do lists and have zero intention of switching to electronic versions. 
  • I feel all out of sorts when my house is not clean, tidy, and picked up. I am constantly clearing clutter and don't feel at ease until my house is clean. HOWEVER, my purse is a disaster. #hypocrite
  • My memory has declined with the addition of each new child. I am definitely not as smart as I once was. I am definitely not as smart as I...wait, did I say that already? ;)
  • One of the reasons I enjoy decorating cookies is because it is so meticulous and taps into my perfectionistic tendencies.
  • I miss having the time to regularly blog 2 to 3 times a week. Maybe again one day I will be able to make it a habit. 
  • I feel guilty when I spend money on myself. 
  • I would LOVE to cut gluten out of my life but already deeply dislike grocery shopping and meal planning and don't want to make it any more tedious than it already is. 
  • I despise going to the dentist (sorry dentist friends...including my ortho sister). Despise. I am overdue for an appointment, but my dental fear prevents me from going. My kids, on the other hand, go every six months. 
  • I still don't know who I will vote for next week. Although I do not vote down party lines, I know which party I feel comfortable supporting this election. However, morally, I don't know that I will be able to cast my vote for the person that represents that party. And sadly, that last line doesn't even give away which party I'm supporting this election.
  • I have FOMO when it comes to Christmas shopping - specifically, I fear missing out on the best deal for items I want to purchase; so I hold off, sometimes for so long that the items are sold out.
  • I need 8 hours of sleep to function well. I am almost ALWAYS asleep before 9:30 pm, weekend or not. 
  • I still eat the exact.same.thing. for breakfast and lunch every.single.day. (English muffin with peanut butter and honey; ham and cheese sandwich with white cheddar cheese puffs). And I have done this for YEARS.
 
And there you have it. Whew. I feel much better with all that out in the open. :) Have a great weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cheers to the Week, So Long, October Edition

Because I wasn't able to get my ducks in a row last Friday, here is what we've been saying CHEERS to over the last week or so as we bid October adieu...

All things Halloween. We capped off a busy but great month of October by enjoying a pre-festivities meal with friends and then, duh!, trick-or-treating. This year, Harrison was ADAMENT about being dragon (I have NO idea where he even got the idea!) and Banks insisted on being a werewolf and Raleigh, well, a princess is what she wanted to be. So. We threw our usual family-themed costumes out the window and let them go to town: 

 





Prior to Halloween, we made sure to check more items off our Fall bucket list, including riding on a horse-drawn hayride on our 'hood's "Creepy Crawl" to check out the decked out houses.


We also carved our pumpkin and made sure our house was festive, too:



Also, Banks' school had "Dress like a book character day." So, Banks became Charlotte and her web

 

And now, on to Thanksgiving! Whew!

Cookie orders. You guys are NOT going to believe this. Our oven broke again!!!! Ugggggghhhhh!!! It happened on Sunday evening and our hearts just sunk. The saga continues. Before it broke, I was able to complete a few cookie orders, including some volleyballs, spooky cookies, and breast cancer awareness ribbons:




Camping. My oldest two had such a fun time with great friends during a recent Daddy/kiddo campout at our Greenway. Meanwhile, Harrison and I stayed cozy at home. #mommadontcamp


Carrie. Seven girlfriends and I headed out for a night on the town last weekend, where we had some tasty sushi and bevs before heading to the Epicenter to see the one and only Carrie Underwood. She was phenomenal!!! It was an awesome, much-need girl-time night. <3


Doubles match. I had my first EVER doubles match last week (with our next scheduled for next week), and it was so much fun! 


Baby snuggles. Over the weekend, Raleigh and I traveled to Georgia so that we could meet our new nephew/cousin. Oh my heart. We had the best time! Raleigh got to play nonstop with her BFF, her sweet cousin Cameron. I got to get in soooo many baby snuggles with precious Brooks. And we all enjoyed just spending time together. 







Tigers. Go Clemson Tigers! This has been such a fun, nailbiting season! My hub and I are ready to pack our bags for Tampa if our Tigers can keep pulling out these Ws all season long. But. We are also ready for some non-heart-palpitating games. Sheesh!

And with that, we say so long, October, and CHEERS to November. Let's do this thang!