Taking off my mask and letting the grief ooze on out….

Sometimes the hard, and real, and raw need to be shared

Sometimes we need to pull back the mask and let the real coming oozing out

Sometimes we do it for us

Sometimes we do it for others

Sometimes it creates space for others to share – to feel

Sometimes it creates space for us process – to  heal

Sometimes it is just the right thing to do

Sometimes it is time

It is time

It is time to share my sadness. My grief. My loss

I have been holding on to it for weeks out of fear

Fear that sharing would leave me misunderstood

Fear that sharing would steal away from my precious Fin

Fear it would steal away from his story. His preciousness

If I shared how I was deeply grieving for the little boy we did not get (see Broken Hallelujah) then maybe you, they, everyone would question

Maybe you would question my love for Fin. My joy for Fin. My excitement over being HIS mom

But I decided to trust you

To trust that you would have the ability to offer me space for both

Space to both grief over what isn’t and joy for what is

I believe we have capacity for both

For both grief and joy

We prayed for months and months for a little boy and we longed for him to be our son with all of our hearts. God said no

That is not easy. It is painful. It is hard. It is ripping me up inside

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching work over the last few months

Why is this so hard?

What about this situation makes it so difficult for me?

A few days ago I realized this is my “loss”

This is my “thing”

This is the “thing I have hoped and longed for but it is not going to be fulfilled” thing

You see I have infertility

I had a full hysterectomy before age 30

But I did not grieve my infertility the way most women do

Infertility was not my “thing”

I questioned myself for years. Maybe I should have felt more? Grieved more? What is wrong with me that I did not weep and grieve the way most women with infertility do? Was I shut off emotionally? I had older women push back on me when I said “I was ok”, “fine”, and “it is no big deal to me”

But you see……when we found out we would never conceive, we already had two beautiful babies at home. Camden and Mia were already ours. We started our family through adoption. When we wanted children we chose adoption first.

I KNEW with every part of me that I was fulfilled. I never had to feel a baby kick inside of me to be satisfied.

So I never grieved infertility b/c I never felt like I longed for a child I would not have.

I had the children I longed for. If and when we longed for more children, adoption was a gift that we would gladly receive again.

I know that my story of infertility is so deeply different from most ladies I met and talked with. In fact, I often avoid talking about it altogether , because I don’t really relate and I never ever want to steal away from the pain, loss, grief, or any part of someone else’s story because my process was different.

A few weeks ago, when I was crying out to the Lord about why I am still longing for this other little boy  too…..please don’t misunderstand me…it is not “instead of” my other kids…it is “too”…I want Camden, Mia, Mallie, Dax, Fin, Mae, AND him….it hit me…this is my “loss”….this is my “thing”

This is the only time I have longed for and loved a child this deeply and them NOT become ours. (I cried out over Fin and Mae…and look what the Lord has done!!!!!!)

I have no expectation that this will be another “Mae and Fin” story where God will do some crazy stuff and make them ours like He did them.

I really feel like this is my “loss”

My “thing”

The thing I have to grieve

My “Broken Hallelujah”

The “thing” that will allow me to touch the grief many other women feel as they walk miscarriages, infertility, failed adoptions, and unmet desires to be married. Please hear me….I am not saying these things are the same or compare equally to one another….but they all come with paralyzing loss as women. They are the losses of a feminine heart.

So I am sad.

I find myself taken by waves of loss that are deafening

ALL the while I am OVERWHELMINGLY blessed and crazy FULL OF JOY for what is and what is to come.

I am certain the story God is writing will blow us away. I am expecting that. I am clinging to that.

But….

I am giving myself space for both. No sugar-coating. No tying it up in a bow. No pat answers or quotes for this one.

Just hope, joy, and blessing sitting up next to pain, loss, and sadness.

And I am OK with that….

If you feel inclined to share your “thing”…. your “loss”….your “grief”……your “broken hallelujah” I would be honored to hear.

We need to hold space for one another,

Tona

 

 

 

 

 

Yard Sale Madness and the Joy of Community

We are in full swing preparing for our mega yard sale with the Phipps (who are also adopting a precious princess from China) the sale has been coined  “The Ottiphipps Sale.” While it has been crazy and exhausting preparing over the last month, I am loving the picture of community being displayed in our midst. We have been blessed with generous donations and people sorting, loading, and lending us vehicles and trailers. We even had several families that were planning to have their own yard sale donate their items to us!!! We are in awe of His provision through junk…I mean treasures.

The details:

Yard Sale

We have a saying in our home “Many Hands Make Light Work”. If you would like to be one of our many hands and lighten our load by volunteering to help during the sale click here to sign up online.

It truly takes a village and we are so thankful for all those who have donated, sorted, dropped off, and helped us so far!

We have 5 storage PODs already and hope to fill a few more over the next 2 weeks. Please let us know if you would still like to donate.

At this point it is crunch time, so drop off donations are very much appreciated…but we can pick up larger items or schedule a pick up if you can not drop the items off.

Here are a few highlight pictures:

Sale

 

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Blessings,

Tona

How “Being Seen+Lavish Love=A Stroller”

A few weeks ago a nice, gently used, double stroller popped up for sale on a my facebook page. “Should I go ahead and buy it? It is only $75? But it is not really the colors I was hoping for. Maybe I should just wait? I have several months before I will need one. I have not even researched strollers in years. Is that a good price? I was really hoping for something neutral that would work for a boy and a girl…but maybe I should not be picky about colors. Maybe I should be happy with anything at a good price? But is this a good price? (hearing one of the kids call for my help from the other room) OK…I will wait.” Close computer. Move on.

Fast forward a week. At a local store. Walk by the baby section. The same stroller is sitting there shiny and new with a $199 price tag hanging from the handle. “Oh stink. I should have bought it when it was $75 and barley used. OK Lord….My fussy, color picky self, messed up. I should have bought it. Will you please provide another cost effective option? I will try my best to not be so picky about the color, but just for fun… can you maybe bless me with a simple gray or a nice light neutral green that will work for both a boy and a girl? Thank you for seeing me. I am trusting you know my heart and I will wait on you to provide” And I kept on walking.

At this point I should clarify all the above dialogue happened in MY HEAD…I do not talk to myself OUT LOUD!!!! =)

Fast forward to last week, while on vacation,  I got an email from a TOTAL STRANGER. We have a few friends in common but she found me via a liked tweet of a retweet of a friend that linked something that linked to something that led to a blog post where I mentioned having to prepare for the “are they twins question” about Fin and Mae for the rest of our lives.  Or stated another way….. she found me b/c God made a crazy GOD SIZED CONNECTION!!!

I will paraphrase but her email stated something to the effect of….

“My husband and I adopted a boy and girl several years ago from overseas. We have a STROLLER that I just had to have b/c it is SOOO FUN. It is called the “Boy Meets Girl Double Stroller by Valco”. It has been sitting in my basement and I have been waiting on God to show me the right family to GIFT it to. I know it seems crazy to reach out to a total stranger in a different state (she lives in GA) that I found online(via crazy God connecting) but I just KNOW you are suppose to have this stroller. Can we figure out a way to get it to you? Please don’t tell anyone who gave it to you. We just want you to have it. We love adoption and want to support you. Do you happen to need a stroller?”

UMMMM….insert my giddy ugly crying as I google “Boy Meets Girl Double Stroller” and see this gem…..

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and then I see that it is a Limited Edition stroller that costs $799. Yep $799.

OH MY STARS LORD!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS??? IS THIS FOR REAL???

Please don’t hear me say it is about the money. It is not. It is about BEING SEEN. BEING HEARD. BEING LOVED WITH LAVISH CRAZY GOD SIZED LOVE. And being blessed beyond my wildest dreams YET AGAIN!!!!!!

HE heard my measly plea of forgiveness over not buying a $75 stroller. HE saw my unnecessary guilt over being too picky about colors. HE KNOWS my heart. He KNOWS my desires….however silly they are. AND then HE BLEW ME AWAY with the CUTEST STINKING STROLLER that I DID NOT EVEN KNOW to ask for b/c I did not know it EXISTED!!!!!!!!!!

So guess what my in laws are doing right this minute in GA???

They are picking up my lovely Boy Meets Girl Blue and Pink Stroller from a dear lady who was a stranger last week and is now a dear friend!!! She is part of our God Story. Yet another bullet point in the long and growing list of His lavish grace and provision. This time in the form of a stroller.

I can’t wait to push those two cuties through the zoo, while singing praises to the God WHO SEES and HEARS!!!

T

 

 

 

Making Memories Without the Littles

My precious in laws treat us to a yearly vacation. We usually steal away to their time share in Orlando. Our days are filled with late mornings, slow days, multiple trips to the pools, outings to the local shops, and at least one day trip to the beach.

Today, Poppie treated the fellas to a day at LegoLand to celebrate Cam’s 14th and Dax’s 10th b-day. Dax said it was the best day of his life :).
Nana treated the girls to a shopping trip to the Vera Bradely Outlet. Tomorrow we plan to wade in the ocean at Cocoa Beach.

Sounds heavenly right? It is. This time together is much needed Sabbath rest. A break from the normal. Time to laugh, to lounge, to be together. A blessing beyond measure. We don’t take a moment of it for granted.

But today I am teary, heavy hearted, and raw. Part of our family is missing. We have two children that are not here. They are not in the family pictures. They. Are. Missing. Part of me is missing.

Stepping out of the mundane of normal life is like shinning a huge spot light on this painful truth. Making new memories without them is like pouring salt on a wound. Their absence is always a dull pain, but this week it is like a festering sore. Every dip in the pool and every crash of the salty water makes it sting even more.

I have noticed every toddler that walks by. Every mom and dad giggling with them, holding their hands, feeding them ice cream by the pool, and delighting in their presence. They remind me of the days we are missing. They take me to a new place of desperation where my heart literally feels like it is breaking inside my chest.

These days make me long for “our firsts” with Fin and Mae. Our first giggle. Our first family picture. Our first glimpse of their little toes. The first time they let us truly comfort them when their body melts into ours. Our first sleepless night when they are adjusting. Our first baths. Our first moments of time in the same room, inside the same walls, under the same roof…oh what a glorious day that will be.

But until that time, don’t mind me…you can just call me the “toddler stalker”

Waiting in hope,
Tona

Let’s Celebrate What the Church is Doing RIGHT

In light of all my posts yesterday….I wanted to give you a link to my dear friend Erin Kim’s follow up blog to “Where the church is getting foster care all wrong”…. the other side…the things the church is doing right. After all, the last thing that does any of us any good is only pointing out the things that need to be fixed. We must celebrate the victories. Honor those stepping into the mess without all the answers. Willing to figure it out as they go. Willing to stand in the gap. The church is asking the right questions. The church is getting their hands dirty. Conversations are happening. People are dialoguing. People are willing. People are praying. Let’s celebrate that.

http://packednlove.org/where-the-church-is-getting-fostercare-so-right/

Tona

Could Not Have Said it Better Myself – More on Foster Care

If you read my blog Another Perspective on Birth Families and Foster care

and felt something in you resonate…..then you have to read this:

http://packednlove.org/where-the-church-is-getting-fostercare-all-wrong/

It is written by my dear heart friend Erin Kim. It makes me jump up and down!

Tona

 

Another Perspective on Birth Families and Foster Care

I read a blog today on foster care. I decided not to link to it b/c I want to honor the author, but I need to speak. I need to write a different perspective. It has been burning in me far too long not to share.

For those who have posted or shared the link to “the other blog” I am about to tread into some waters, that might feel uncomfortable to you. You might not agree. That is OK. We can love one another and have a good profitable discussion right?

We are missing a huge piece of the foster care puzzle. Not all “these” kids are unwanted. They have families. They have parents. Yes they may have put their children in at risk situations. Yes they may have messed up deeply or again and again. Yes they may have even harmed their children.

But to make a blanket statement that the children would be nowhere without us, boasts of something that does not sit well with me. No offense or judgment to the author- I understand her heart and appreciate what she is doing…just asking us to raise our eyes a bit.

We need to be about holistic healing.

Bio family and all. We are not saving them. We need to be arms of love and compassion to the whole family. Hurting people hurt others. Where is our compassion for the hurting adults in the equation? Who, I bet, were hurting at risk children themselves.

I understand that in some situations children do not need to return to their bio families. But to ask “who really wants these kids” is a generalized statement that sensationalizes and moves us to “pity” them. I bet their broken-hearted families do. Even if they are too covered in shame, embarrassment, addiction, or fear to admit it. I bet they want them. Deep in their hearts they wish they were free to live and love and provide for their kids. But they aren’t.

We need to reframe our thinking. We need to think about the bigger picture. We need to lay down our stereotypes of what good parenting is. We need to lay down racial prejudices that get in the way of seeing birth families culture and different ways of living as something that can be celebrated rather than judged. Not all cultures parent the way white evangelical parents do and that does not mean they don’t want or love their kids. (Feels good to finally say that)

We need to SEE our foster and adopted children’s parents as human beings to be treated and talked about with dignity and grace. Compassion and truth. Love and humility. Understanding and empathy. Our children’s self-esteem, our reflection of the gospel, and very possibly a family’s need for healing depend on it.

Tona

Want to add this link written by a dear friend and adoptive and foster mom. It is worth your time to read:  Where the church is getting fostercare all wrong

Adding another post that calls us to grace and compassion: The Story of a Birthmother 

(One additional thought I promise this is not directed at one particular person or blog. This is in response to a larger mindset I have been feeling for half a decade. Phrases and words that tear down not build up. That wound not restore. Words that set it up “us as against them” and “us as the good guy rescuers vs them as the bad guys”. It is about HONOR. It was just time to speak.)

Delighting In Dirty Carpet No More

Years ago, when I started this blog, it was called “Delighting in Dirty Carpet”. I shared about the joys of adoption, mothering, hosting, all while embracing the mess that comes with a busy full life.  A life that is overflowing with sticky fingers, messy feet, animals, mounds of laundry, birthday parties, sleep overs, cook outs, friends passing through, and always always always a gaggle of rugrats kiddos.

Over the years I have learned the art of letting things go in order to embrace the people in my life. I have learned much to my dismay,  I really can survive without new counter tops and an updated kitchen. I really can let looming projects loom a really long time in order to be present in the moment with my kids. In a world (my world) of limited resources I can’t have it all. I can’t do it all. I have to choose. Something has to go.

While I love my home and am super grateful, I have not had everything the way I would dream. I have to daily practice contentment. Praise Him and be thankful for what I DO HAVE (my beautiful family) and not focus on what I don’t (a perfectly pulled together shiny clean home).  I am guessing I am not the only one in that boat.

People over things. That is my choice. EVERY TIME. If I have to choose. People will win.  For the sake of authenticity…please don’t misunderstand….I would rather NOT have to choose. I would rather have both 🙂

So having said all that…….drum roll please……I am excited to announce that I am no longer “Delighting in Dirty Carpet” I am “Celebrating Clean Carpet”. EEEEEKKKKKKKK. New, never walked on by dirty feet – carpet was laid in our house today. I am giddy excited. In fact I am a bit embarrassed by how over the moon I am.  I will admit I plopped myself  down right in the middle of the den floor and made “clean carpet angels” as soon as the carpet fellas were pulling out of the driveway….the kids were not very impressed with my wild display of enthusiasm.

As we are preparing to bring home another medically fragile princess I am beyond thrilled to know we have  C.L.E.A.N. floors.

Mamma will rest well tonight. Mae-  we are on our way sweet love and you have a lovely clean den floor waiting on you.

Celebrating,

Tona

On pain, stepping in,and thankfulness

You know those moments when life is hard. Really hard. But it is real. You know that the things that you are experiencing, feeling, and processing are chiseling out new places. New places in your heart. New places in your soul. New places in your life. And you know apart from those things you would not be who you are. You would not be THE YOU that found out you are stronger and more able that you ever thought. That found yourself on the other side of the hard closer to Him. The creator. The one that set all things in motion and sustains and hold them. When you are in the midst of the pain it is difficult to see the work. The refining that is happening. But for sure it is. For sure the wood, hay, and straw are being melted away leaving only the things that will last. The things that are refined.

What if some of those hard places are things you said YES to? Places you chose to step into. You could have stayed safely on the shore, but you stepped into the raging river. You entered in. Something deep in your soul wanted to, but you also knew that HE was whispering to you that life was found in the river. That real living happening in the middle of the currents, not safely camped on the shore. Somehow something deep in you just knew that embracing the pain and brokenness would somehow bring real healing. That seeing, acknowledging, and embracing the brokenness and struggle would set the platform for hope and healing. There in the pain is where our redeemer and reconciler does His most miraculous deep healing work. He is in those places. Showing Himself to be sufficient. Showing you that in Him you are able. You are an overcomer because He has overcome. And then you realize somewhere in the rushing water fear lost some of its grip on your heart.

It is difficult to be thankful for the hard. It is difficult to find joy in the pain. It is hard to embrace the pain and not lose yourself there and be swallowed up in despair.

But we keep our eyes set on HIM and THE HOPE that is set before us. Remembering that this time is but momentary. We are living for another place. Another time. A future hope and promise. Slowly our perspectives are reset. We open our hands up to embrace. We have room and space in our lives, homes, and hearts to commune with the weary, the broken, the outcast. Because we are counting this time but a moment.

And then the places that seemed scary before become places you celebrate because you know there is mysterious work there. And you find yourself willing to say YES again and again and again. And you do so with a thankful heart full of joy and hope, because you know in your “yes” there will be holy healing communing with Him. He has whispered. You were listening. You heard. You replied with “Yes Lord here I am send me.”

There is hope, joy, and thanksgiving in the raging river.

“May God bless you as you continue to discover His hidden miracles in your life.If you listen for His voice, look for His help, and long for His appearing, you will sense His presence in every battle, victory, sorrow, and joy”-Bruce Carroll

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tona