Monday, February 27, 2017

Some Days are Just HARD.

Can I get real for a minute? Like, really real.

Today was an absolute BEATING. Like, I could actually go to bed at 8:29 as I'm sitting down to write this beating. Like, I ate two cupcakes after dinner and felt zero shame beating.

Short of my oldest son's surgery complications, today was one of the hardest days of parenting I've ever had. I won't bore you with all the details, but what you should know is that Brooks's allergies and asthma are basically just completely out of control right now with all the ickiness that has been kicked up by crazy weather changes. At 6:45 am this morning, we sat down to his first breathing treatment...couldn't even get my coffee in first. Today alone, he's had four rounds of Albuterol, two inhaled steroids, three doses of Zarbee's cough syrup, a dose of Zyrtec, a dose of Ibuprofen (that one was because he hit his head, though), took a bath and then was coated in essential oils, AND we have his humidifer going. On high. And he's STILL struggling and coughing up a storm, despite all those efforts. He STILL has gunk pouring out of his nose every second. And yes, we did see the doctor today in the middle of all that who assured me that all of this WAS helping him. 

Oh, and I also have two other children to keep alive under the age of 6. 

I'm telling you...this mom stuff is no joke. 

I've been fighting this helpless, scary, haunting voice most of the day that tells me this is too much for me to handle. All day, and with every breathing treatment we sat down to, I felt this nagging feeling that I am not enough for my son. I am not equipped to handle all of this need. You's his freaking LUNGS for goodness sake. It just feels so far above my pay grade, and handling it at home by myself is one of the scariest things I've ever had to do. The thought of managing this for the rest of his childhood...well, it just about undoes me. I've seriously just spent so much of today feeling completely helpless.

I try to only do this once or twice a year, but by 4:15 this afternoon, I just couldn't take much more, so I asked Blake to come home a little early and help me. He took the kids up to Five Below to spend their allowance money from last week, and I cranked up a podcast as I started dinner. I just so happened (or not, because GOD) to stumble upon the "Mom Struggling Well" episode with Kayla Craig. Kayla is a mom of four under six, two of which are adopted and have special needs, and she was such an encouragement to me tonight. 

Emily, the host of the podcast, asked Kayla how she manages the needs of such a large family and specifically the medical needs of these two adopted children. What she said was essentially this: Even when I feel like I can't manage it all, I know I can because JESUS CAN handle it all THROUGH ME. It reminded me so much of a line I heard once that said Jesus doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I reminded myself tonight that even when I'm drowning, even when I'm on my knees, we were CALLED to this. Not only to adoption, but we were called more specifically to the adoption of BROOKS. God ordained us to be his parents long ago, and we've got this, even when it's hard, because we have the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though my hands are shaky and I feel like I can't take one more punch, I can press on and keep fighting for my son because God made him for me and me for him. 

I wanted to put that thought out there tonight because I just felt like someone else might need to hear those words too. Whatever He has called you to, He will equip you for it. That doesn't mean it won't be scary and that doesn't mean you won't feel just means He's right there with you when you fall on your knees. Which, let's face it, is probably the best possible place we can be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Family Member Means New Family Pictures!

We are so thankful to Laurie Endsley Photography for shooting our family last weekend! What a gift she has! We will cherish these pictures forever! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Post-Adoption: 3 Months

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! I hope you are spreading the LOVE today to those around you! We celebrated a little bit last night, but it's our three-month mark as a family of five today, so let's talk about the littlest Ezell! This month, we fought some more respiratory concerns, rode the steroids roller coaster, and watched our baby blossom into a toddler. Here's what sweet Brooks has been up to!

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: We haven't had a well-check since last update, but according to our home scale, Brooks is now just over 20 pounds! Woohoo! We definitely noticed a BIG growth spurt this month. He began eating us out of house and home and slept nearly 14 hours at night several days in a row. I think he's also grown taller, but I really don't have a way to measure him at home. I would bet he's grown about an inch.  
ATTACHMENT: He is still doing very well on the attachment front, although this month, he was VERY clingy to me. Even little things like walking into the hallway for a moment if we were playing on the floor of his room would set him off. We call him a velcro baby...he's basically happiest on my hip. The problem is that he wants to be on my hip AND wants me moving and entertaining him all the time...that's no small feat, friends. He has continued to do well in our church nursery on Sundays.

SLEEPING: We had a few rough nights this month, probably due to the "velcro stage" of attachment that we are swimming through. Every once in a while, for no real reason, Brooks will wake up crying in the middle of the night and think it's morning. We will go up to comfort him, and he will throw an all out FIT when we tell him it's still "night night" time. He will motion for the door and beg to go downstairs to play. That's been hard to navigate because we want to comfort him, but we also want him to realize that 3am is not an acceptable wake-up time. Any advice anyone wants to offer would be greatly appreciated. ;) 

FOOD: Still no real issues is Brooks's best friend. Ha! The one thing we did notice this month with food is that Brooks no longer seems to really enjoy Asian food. We offered him his formerly beloved dumplings last week, and he sort of just pushed them around. He still loves all forms of rice and tolerates vegetables, but he has truly Americanized when it comes to food. His favorites this month were mashed potatoes, eggs, all fruits, french fries, anything sweet, buttered pasta, and chicken noodle soup. 

HEALTH: So, this is where we got a little sticky this month. We came down with round two of respiratory concerns, so our pediatrician busted out the big guns - steroids. We are now using steroids through the nebulizer twice a day when we have labored breathing and once a day when we don't as a preventative measure. We will continue this until our 18-month well visit in late March. I don't love it...or even like it...but it does seem to really help keep his breathing regulated, so we press on. 

RANDOM FACTS: So, let's are a few random things we discovered about our "Chewy" this month.

We're fairly certain he's left-handed. When given a utensil or a crayon or something to open, he defaults to using predominantly his left hand. I know it's early to show a preference...but this kid really seems to prefer his left hand. Blake is not so happy about that for sports purposes...ha!

His imitation game came on STRONG this month. He imitates Carter the most, and big brother finds it absolutely hilarious. He will do something silly, like fall down for no reason, and Brooks will follow suit. If I hear Carter yell "MOM!" from upstairs, it's basically a guarantee that I'll hear "MA!" from Brooks shortly thereafter. It's pretty awesome, I'll admit.

Gone are the days of "fearless" Brooks...he has developed quite a bit of nervousness about new situations and new places. The picture above is basically the ONLY time he let me put him down last week at our play group Valentine's Day Party at a jump place. He was just NOT having any part of different than he was just a few months ago! 

I think that's about it for this month! Here's hoping for a sickness-free month four! Have a great Valentine's Day, friends! 
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Stuck In My Head...

Ever since Jennie Allen's talk at IF this weekend about going SMALL instead of BIG with spreading God's truth, there's been a song stuck in my head by Francesca Battistelli called "He Knows My Name." I've really felt as if God has laid these two specific lines on my people-pleasing soul, and I wondered if these might be lines you need to hear today, too. 

The line says this: "I'm not living for applause. I'm already so adored."

I touched on this a little bit in Sunday's post, but here's why this is so powerful to me. My love language is words of affirmation, and I have a profound fear of rejection. True story - last week, I posted a picture on Facebook that didn't get but one "like" in the first twenty or so minutes it was up, and I felt myself battling this strange compulsion to take it down because it hadn't been popular. I actually logged on to my Facebook, was about to hit delete, and then this line came up in my head. I had to take a pause and ask myself why it mattered how many people "liked" my picture. Did I post this because I was seeking approval from my people? What was behind this strange need for affirmation from social media? And again, I heard this line. I'm NOT living for applause...or am I? I found myself stuck on this question. Why do I care so much about how many people think my kids are cute? Is that really what my worth is about?

And then another line came at me like a ton of bricks. It says this: "He calls me chosen, free, forgiven, wanted, child of the King." 

And that was my checkmate. 

He calls me WANTED. 
He calls me CHOSEN. 
He calls me DAUGHTER. 

That's the affirmation I need, not the affirmation of strangers on the internet. God has NEVER rejected me because he CHOSE me. I don't need to fear isolation because God WANTS me in His kingdom. He calls me by name and adores matter what my "platform" or Instagram following says.

I have nothing to prove.

I left that picture up. (In case you're on pins and needles, my picture eventually DID get about 50 likes...but that's beside the point. Ha!) What the world says about me or what my social media account says about me matters exactly NONE to the One who gives me my true identity.

I'm so thankful for the reminder Jennie Allen passed along at IF and the song that God has purposefully had stuck in my head ever since. I needed to hear it, and I need to remind myself daily that HE is the only one who knows my true heart...and he ADORES IT. 

And you know what? He adores YOURS, too.    
Monday, February 6, 2017

IF: Gathering 2017

I had the BEST and most refreshing weekend attending my church's IF: Gathering! The focus of the conference was the idea of getting back to the basics of the early church and examining how Jesus did life with his disciples. Pure and simple. There were so many nuggets of wisdom shared, but I wanted to take a morning to write down two things I walked away with that were just SO meant for me to hear...because I wonder if maybe, just maybe, you might need to hear them today, too. 


Jennie Allen started the conference off with a GUT PUNCH for me. Social media is such a huge part of everybody's lives in 2017, and there are so many amazing things that come from social media...BUT, it can get so easy to get caught up in building your platform there that your ACTUAL, REAL-LIFE, FACE-TO-FACE relationships suffer. I've found myself struggling with that paradox a lot these last few months because I've shared so much about adoption and Noonday that my "following" on Instagram and here on my blog has grown a lot. And if I'm being honest? It's pretty satisfying to see that a blog post got 1,000 views or a picture I posted got 97 likes or that I gained six new followers. Words of affirmation is my primary love language, and although actual "words" are not spoken, there is definitely affirmation felt there. The danger though, is that we begin to find our identity and our purpose in those numbers, and it becomes a slippery slope. I love how Jennie Allen asked everyone at IF why they love Jesus, and how she reminded us that it is PEOPLE who invest in our lives that bring us closer to Christ. It's not a blog or a book or an Instagram post that does's a person. It's a relationship. And oh my goodness, I needed that reminder. 

2) Don't Overthink It...Just Get On With It!

The weekend concluded with one of my absolute favorite teachers ever, Jo Saxton. (My church actually didn't broadcast her speech, but I watched it on the Live Stream.) Maybe it's her accent or her passion or something, I don't know, but I could seriously listen to her ALL DAY LONG. Anyway, the main message of her portion of the weekend was encouraging us to not let our fears and insecurities get in the way of community with others. I fall victim to this far more often that I'd like to admit. My house is usually in a state of what my husband calls "squalor." Picture Cheerios on the floor, band-aid wrappers on the counter, and sippy cups at every turn. It is FAR from Pinterest-worthy. It's not often (and not without A LOT of advance notice) that I open my home for a play date or dinner with friends, but I'm hoping to take some of the pressure off myself to keep the "perfect" house and just allow people into the mess. There's such freedom in letting the guard down and admitting that you don't have it all together. I once heard somebody say (maybe Jamie Ivey?) that the two most powerful words in the English language are, "Me too." What comfort and connection we find in others when we admit our faults and struggles. My marriage is not perfect, my house is (NEVER) perfect, and my parenting is sub-par more days than I'd like to admit...but God doesn't just call the qualified. He calls us ALL to community, even those who need to show up with our Cheerio-covered floors. This was exactly what I needed to hear this weekend.

If you didn't get a chance to attend or view the IF: Gathering this weekend, the live stream is up for just a few more hours today! Go HERE and take a few minutes for won't regret it! 
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