Are Children a Blessing or a Burden?

Some days are better than others in our household.

There are days when my children are amazingly obedient, kind, respectful, and pleasant to be around! Those are the days when I think I’ve got this mothering thing down and start thinking about baby number 4 already (not really… I’m not that crazy)! And then there are days when my children throw all manners out the window and seriously act like they have been raised by cave men… clawing at each other, beating each other over the head with sticks, and speaking in loud screeching sounds that don’t even remotely sound like English.

Then there are the days that I am an especially great mother… kind, respectful, and pleasant to be around. And…. there are also the days when I beat myself over the head with a stick and make strange screeching sounds into my pillow at night while I contemplate how I can convince Drew to become a stay at home dad so I can escape the madness! (I’m just kidding, by the way!) =)

But in all seriousness, not every day around here is a perfect day (although most are really pretty good!). But at the end of each and every day, no matter how the day went, I am incredibly thankful to have the blessing of my children and if I could ever rewrite my life story I would never, ever, ever write them out of it. I absolutely {love}  being a mom!

In this era, though, this is not necessarily the norm. In fact, an article published in Time Magazine in August 2013 entitled “The Childfree Life” states that the current birth rate in the U.S. is the lowest it has ever been and that more and more people are choosing to opt out of having children.

Notice the title of the article: “The Childfree Life: When Having it All Means Not Having Children“. An article here claims that the author used the term “childfree” instead of “childless” because “the most educated, highest IQ non-mothers by choice now say, “Childlessness is for someone who wants a child but doesn’t have one. It’s a lack. I’m not lacking anything.””

We live in a world where children are most often viewed as a {burden} rather than a {blessing}. And parents who chose to have more than two of these “burdens” are considered to be especially foolish, unwise, and totally irresponsible.

Even as Christians, we often take on the same view as the secular world around us. We don’t value children. The world tells us that no children or less children are better because it allows you to be more free to pursue your dreams and your passions, have {more} fun with your significant other and friends, less to worry about, less responsibility, and overall more {joy} in life. Our own experiences seem to validate the fact that children {are} sometimes inconvenient, irritating, annoying, embarrassing, expensive, and just down right a. lot. of. work.

I’m not saying that sometimes our children are not these things. Nor am I saying that children are perfect little angels all the time who will be incredibly easy to care for and require no amount of sacrifice on a parents’ part. But when the world tries to paint a picture of something it deems good or bad, a warning bell should go off in the mind of a Christian and we can most assuredly come to the conclusion that it is exactly the opposite.

This girl brings SO much joy into our lives.

The Bible tells us that:

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a {reward} from him.
Psalm 127:3

Since the Bible teaches us that children are a {blessing} and not a burden, it is our job to adjust our thinking to align with what the Scripture says, not to reinterpret Scripture to match what the world says.

Isaiah and Eloise with their cousin, Novalee. Three blessings!

So, how can we start viewing our children as blessings?

First of all, we need to stop viewing our children with an earthly perspective. Most everyone would agree that children often times cost {lots} of money, embarrass us in front of others, get sick at the most inconvenient times, don’t allow us to get as much done as WE want to, make messes that we spend the whole day picking up, whine, disobey, make poor choices, and often take so much physical and mental energy that we feel we have nothing left at the end of the day. Raising kids is not for the faint of heart!

But, to help us understand the blessing of children we need to develop an eternal, spiritual perspective.  God {says} children are a blessing, so they {are}! They advance His kingdom. They are like arrows in the hand of a warrior (Psalm 127:4-5), which we need in spiritual battle against the enemy. They force us to grow up and develop character, to learn patience and selflessness. Children cause us to get over ourselves and learn the blessing of self-sacrifice. And, as any parent knows, children are a blessing because of the sheer joy and delight they bring into a home! I think my kids are the cutest, smartest, most entertaining, and most fun kids on the planet and I could just eat them up! Drew and I video tape or take a picture of almost every cute moment and treasure every sweet and tender one. Our kids have brought unending joy and happiness into our home and I know many other parents feel the same (on most days!).

As Christians, we have the responsibility of raising up a future generation of adults who love and serve the Lord. What an incredible, huge, and daunting task. And yet what could be of more eternal value?!

If I didn’t have Isaiah who would paint my toes while I’m pregnant?!?!
“The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing; but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings.” 

This is not a post trying to guilt people into having children or into having more children. The decision about whether or not to have children and/or how many to have (or adopt) is between you, God, and your spouse! And I also realize that many out there desperately want to have children and cannot.

I simply want to encourage those of us who do have children to view them as blessings instead of burdens. Being a parent has it’s good days and it’s bad days. Not every day will you be over the top, enthusiastically thankful for the little creatures who are driving you bonkers that day. And that’s ok. That’s part of life and no matter how hard we try we can’t make every day a perfect day (because we are sinners and we are raising kids who are sinners!).

But, whether you have one child or ten, praise God for the blessing of your children and ask Him for the grace and patience to view them as the blessings they are, even when the days get rough. Ask Him to help you see the {JOY} in raising children! It’s an awesome job!

The world sees children as a burden but God sees them as a blessing to help share the burdens of life!

 

My little “superhero” helping me with the dishes last night. So thankful for him.
Advertisements

30 Weeks and a 3 Hour Glucose Test

Thirty weeks already! Can’t believe that Baby Hutcheson #3 will be here in less than 3 months!

Ok, so some of you know that pretty much this whole pregnancy I’ve been worried about getting gestational diabetes. Why, you ask? Well mainly because this pregnancy I’ve just been craving sweets like none other and, as a result, eating a lot more sweets than I normally do. In my mind eating more sugar = gestational diabetes. I know that’s not actually how it works, but in my mind it seemed to make sense!

Gestational diabetes is actually the result of an increased level of hormones made in the placenta of a pregnant woman. These hormones interfere with the ability of insulin to manage sugar (glucose). As the placenta grows larger during pregnancy, it produces more and more hormones which increase the insulin resistance of the body. Usually the mother’s pancreas is able to produce more insulin to overcome the resistance but sometimes the pancreas can’t keep up and sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes. Although gestational diabetes, once diagnosed, can be {controlled} by limiting the mother’s intake of sugar and carbs, it is not directly {caused} by consuming too much sugar.

Even though my fundal height, baby’s measurements, and my weight gain are all measuring right on track or even a little behind, I still convinced myself I had GD. And even though I knew there was nothing I could do to control whether or not I was going to get gestational diabetes I was still just positive I WOULD get it! (Crazy pregnancy hormones mess with your mind!) =)

Well, two weeks ago I went in to take my 1 hour glucose test. Aside from the fact that the drink they make you take is a disgusting, syrupy (is that a word?), sugary, orange bottle of grossness, all went well for the test. Except for the fact that a few days later I received a call saying I had failed the test! Only by a few points but I had still exceeded my doctor’s cutoff levels meaning I had to go in the following week to take the 3 hour glucose test. By this point, I was pretty much 100% positive that my 3 hour test would confirm that I did indeed have gestational diabetes!

I never had to take the 3 our glucose test with Isaiah because I passed the 1 hour. And I hope I never have to take it again! It was terrible!! I had to fast for 12 hours beforehand, drink a drink that had {twice} the amount of sugar in it as the drink for the 1 hour test, and get my blood drawn 4 times over a three hour period! Because I had fasted for 12 hours beforehand, when I drank that sugary drink, my body went into shock and I started sweating and almost threw up and passed out! It was quite a long 3 hours of waiting in the doctors office trying not to vomit (because then I would have had to start all over again!) or pass out!

Thankfully I made it through with the help of my computer which I used to distract myself on the internet while I waited. When I got home and finally ate something my body went crazy again and I got so hot I had to open up the door of the house to get cold air in (my family was bundling up in their snow suits – it’s the middle of January for pete’s sake!), I felt so sick to my stomach, and I took a two hour nap! I was weak and sick to my stomach for 2 days afterwards. I had no idea your blood sugar levels could affect your body like that!

A few days later I received the call the all my levels were perfectly normal and that actually my blood sugar had dropped below the normal levels during the testing, which is probably why I was so hot and shaky and almost passed out. Anyways, my body is processing glucose just fine! No gestational diabetes for me!

I’m glad I got a positive report back but I could have done without that 3 hour test. How about you? Have any of you ever done the 3 hour test? Was it as bad as my experience?

30 Weeks!

Guest Post Over at Surviving Toddlerhood!

Last week I had the honor of posting a few guest posts over on my friend Rebekah’s blog Surviving Toddlerhood.

I wrote about my experience breastfeeding Isaiah and then later inducing lactation to breastfeed Eloise.

Take a minute to check out my posts and then read on to see more of Rebekah’s blog!


How to Get Your Kids To Stop Getting Up So Early: A Review of the Sleep Buddy

Isaiah has always been a boy who required a lot of sleep! As a baby he would sleep 13+ hours at night as well as several hours of naps during the day! Much of his great sleep habits we attribute to the sleep training we did when he was little, but much of it is just plain his personality and his personal sleep requirements.

When he was between 1 year and 2 years old he was sleeping in until 9 or 10 am (after a bed time of 8!) and we {really} enjoyed that! But all good things must come to an end, right? Soon after Isaiah turned two he started waking up around 6:30 am. He was still taking a two hour nap during the day and getting about 10 1/2 hours of sleep during the night so he was getting enough sleep for his age, it was just a shock to us as we were so spoiled by his late rising habits for so long!
I don’t know about you but I am NOT a morning person…. and 6:30 was just too early for me. I know, I know… lots of you would be {overjoyed}if you were able to sleep in until 6:30 every morning! But just bear with me and try to imagine my misery. 😉
I started looking into different methods to get Isaiah to stay in bed a little longer, even if he was awake. My goal was to allow him to wake up at whatever time he wanted BUT to stay in bed and not come to wake ME up until a certain time.
I did a lot of research (for those of you who know me, you know I am an {excessive} researcher and don’t buy anything until I’ve spent numerous hours looking into it!). =)
I finally decided to purchase the Sleep Buddy.
Here’s how the sleep buddy works:
Step #1: Order your sleep buddy and anxiously await for it to arrive in the mail! It comes wrapped like a present which makes it fun for your child to receive and open!!
Step #2: Read your child the story “A Bedtime Surprise” that’s included with the sleep buddy and explain to them how the light works. When their sleep buddy light is ON they must stay in bed. When the light goes OFF they are free to get up! Show them the rewards chart that also comes with the light and let them know that every time they wait to get out of bed until the light has gone off, they may put a sticker on their chart. When they fill up each row on the chart they may receive some type of reward.
Step #3: Program the buddy light to the times you want your child to stay put in bed. The light allows you to program a time for one nap as well as night time sleep. Set the light up in a place that’s easy for your child to see from their bed. That’s it, you’re ready to go!
PROS:
  • The concept is easy for young kids to understand. It can be used with kids as young as 1 1/2! Eloise definitely understands the concept although we don’t yet use one with her because she doesn’t get out of bed on her own in the morning yet. When doing my research I came across a lot of clocks. And while they were cute, Isaiah was just too little to be able to grasp the concept of a clock, even if did change colors to signal wake up time. Another light I considered was the Kid’Sleep Light but I thought it complicated things more than necessary by having the light either be on the bunny that was awake or the bunny that was asleep. I like the simplicity of the Buddy Light – on = stay in bed, off = get up.
  • It’s small and can sit almost anywhere in the bedroom and be visible to the child (i.e. you can place it up high if you have a child who you think may play with it and reset it during the night). Another light I considered was the OK! to Wake Owl which is a stuffed owl that the child keeps in bed with them. It glows soft yellow at night and then turns green when it’s time to wake up. Several reviews on the owl said that the eyes of the owl don’t light up, therefore causing a very creepy looking thing that was actually scaring their children in the middle of the night! Lol! Also, people commented that their children were opening up the back of the owl and messing with the settings. Overall not a good choice for us and I’m glad I didn’t go with it.
  • I think having the Sleep Buddy not only taught Isaiah to stay in bed longer but also helped him start sleeping in later too. Before he had the Sleep Buddy, as soon as he became somewhat conscious in the morning he would jump out of bed. Toddlers lack much sense of time so he probably thought he had possibly slept half the day away and he had better see what everyone else was up to (little did he know we were all still sleeping!). Once he got used to the buddy light, he learned to just roll over and look at his buddy light when he started to rouse in the morning. If the light was still on he felt secure knowing that it was still night time and he wasn’t missing out on anything and thus he could doze in and out of sleep for a few more hours or minutes.
  • The Buddy Light is easy to program and all the buttons to program it are located on the bottom of the light with a cover over them. Some lights I researched had their buttons visible on the front of the light and that just seemed like too much of a temptation for little hands to press the buttons and change the settings!
  • Not only does the Sleep Buddy help our children know when to get OUT of bed but it also helps them know when it’s time to GO to bed. We have our light set to come on every night at 7:30 p.m. This is a good signal to the kids to start getting ready for bed and that it’s soon bed time. If the light gets unplugged for some reason Isaiah will tell me, “But, it’s not bed time, Mom. My Buddy Light’s not on!” It’s a good sleep association for them.

 

CONS:
  • The light only comes in blue and glows faintly blue all night long. After I bought the sleep buddy I learned that blue light actually inhibits the body’s production of melatonin (the hormone our bodies naturally produce to help regulate our sleep cycles)! Crazy, huh? The light never had any impact on Isaiah’s sleep but once I moved Isaiah and Eloise into the same room together and she could see the buddy light at night, I think it had a slight impact on her not sleeping as well. Kinda contradicts the point of the light, hey? =) We just moved the light so it’s visible to Isaiah but not directly to her and she’s been fine. So, it may depend on your child how the blue light may affect them.
  • The Sleep Buddy does have a very, very short internal battery but if it gets unplugged for more than a few minutes you have to reset everything. As you can imagine, in a child’s room, the light has a tendency to get unplugged by accident fairly often. It’s not been a huge deal but something to consider.

 

SUMMARY:
Overall, we’ve been extremely happy with our Sleep Buddy! It took Isaiah a few days to catch on but once he realized that he could put a sticker on his chart every time he stayed in bed until his light went off, he quickly learned what we wanted him to do. We now have his light set for 7:30 a.m. and he rarely gets out of his bed before then, even if he’s been awake for a while. And Eloise waits for the sleep buddy to go off too before she starts making much noise in her bed or trying to climb out. Even though she can’t see the light directly she can still see a soft glow from it.
The Sleep Buddy definitely helps us get more sleep in the morning! It also helps me plan the start of my day better. I know that my kids won’t be up until 7:30 and it’s nice to have that consistency! I would highly recommend the Sleep Buddy if you are longing for the same thing! We’ve had our Sleep Buddy for a little over a year now and still use it every day.
Here’s a little video of Isaiah from a few mornings ago. You can see him laying in bed, awake, and waiting for his light to go off. When it goes off he simply grabs all his stuff and hops out of bed. Simple as that!

Worry Doesn’t Equal Love

“Worry weighs a person down…”
Proverbs 12:25

 

If worrying about your children means you love them more, then I guess I don’t love my children very much.

There’s a silent competition in the mothering circle today called, “Who Loves Their Child More?” and the way to win is by worrying. I try not to worry about my kids as much as possible so I guess I am not in the running for winning the competition.

The more you worry about your child, the more you protect them. And more protection is always better, right?

Don’t allow your child to attend a drop off birthday party because they may hurt themselves in the supervised bouncy house. And if you’re not there every time they get hurt you are not being a good mother. Letting your kids ride the rides at the carnival, play on the playground by themselves, play with toy swords, spend the night at a friends house, sleep on the top bunk, or suck on a pacifier that dropped on the floor {heaven forbid!}, are all really bad ideas, right? Because if you allow your kids to experience these things they may, at some point, find themselves in some danger and a mother should be constantly worrying and making sure her kids are out of harms way. At least that’s what society teaches us.

You’d be surprised at how many parents really seem to believe there’s a correlation between how much you worry about your children and how much you love them.

 

I agree that there are many terrible possibilities that can happen to a child. And of course, as mothers, we don’t want to see harm come to our children. We {should}, as parents, protect our children from some things. If I take my kids to the Grand Canyon, you’d better believe I’m going to hold them back from the edge. That is NOT a situation where I would let them learn about heights by experience! If I know that one of Isaiah’s friends has a contagious, serous illness, then I’m not going to allow him to go over and play. Since Eloise has a dairy intolerance I’m not going to let her have a bowl of regular ice cream no matter how much she whines. I know the consequences that will come from it and she’ll be more miserable than she feels now being denied it! We need to guide and direct and train our children. We are older and wiser and can understand things more clearly than their little minds can. But we can’t control every situation our kids find themselves in. So why waste your time worrying about the situations you can’t control and let your worry cause your kids to miss out on fun learning experiences that help them grow as individuals or just plain have {fun}?

Isaiah loves an adrenaline rush. Anything that is especially dangerous is especially appealing in his eyes! He loves to build up tall stacks of pillows and jump off of them onto any surface, hard  or soft. He loves to climb up on anything and everything and see how high he can get. He loves the rides at the carnival – the faster the better! As a result he’s a boy who, you guessed it, gets lots of boo boos. But he’s also a smart kid because he’s learned so much from what he attempts to do. We don’t allow activities that are extremely dangerous to his well being but we also try not to limit his freedom to explore the world in a healthy way that teaches him to respect safety as he learns about the consequences of his actions on his own.

I’m not going to forbid my kids from going to school or daycare, a birthday party, a sleep over, or the carnival for fear of what they may experience there. I’m not going to forbid them from exploring the world around them because they may get a skinned up knee or a cut on their forehead.

When both of my kids were little I allowed them to briefly touch hot objects. Why? So that they could learn to respect the word “hot”. When Isaiah was about a year he kept wanting to grab my curling iron while I was doing my hair. After a few weeks of telling him it was hot and not to touch it but him still trying to grab for it, I had an idea. One day I allowed him to briefly touch it while I repeated the word “hot.” He got a little blister on his finger. He cried. But you know what? He learned to respect hot things and he never grabbed for my curling iron again. I’d rather him have a little blister on his finger than one day grab the iron with his entire hand while I wasn’t looking. Both of my kids learned in this way that hot things hurt. It was better for them to learn by experience than for me to just tell them.

As parents, we care about our kids, we love them, and we want the best for them. And, if you’re like me, you want to teach and grow and mold them into godly young men and women who are confident in themselves and who contribute positively to society. This is hard to do if you’re a “helicopter parent” and never allow your kids to experience the world without your protective hand.

I refuse to torture myself with what-ifs. And I won’t fill my children with unecessary fear about life. Of course both Drew and I do our best to keep our children safe and healthy, but we also want them to lead normal lives and discover a few “hard lessons” on their own.

As a Christian, I have even less reason to worry. In fact, God tells me {not} to worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matt 6:25-2

Parenting should never be a competition. Most of us love our children as much as is humanly possible. We may worry about them in differing degrees but that doesn’t make anyone a better or worse parent.There is a time to worry about our kids but lets not let our worry lead to control of every aspect of their lives. Do your best as a mother, take a deep breath, and trust God with the rest! He loves our kids even more than we do!

Is Baby Hutcheson #3 a Boy or a Girl?

Well, the day has come! I’m 28 weeks and officially in the third trimester. Wow, time is just flying by!

As the day of delivery draws nearer, we find ourselves wondering more and more if Baby Hutcheson #3 is a boy or a girl! We are choosing not to find out, but that doesn’t stop us from looking up all the old wives tales about gender!

I thought it’d be fun to list a few of them and see how I measure up! 

Chinese Gender Chart
The Chinese Gender Chart is based on how old the mother is at conception and the month that she conceived. Although it sounds silly, it claims to have an accuracy rate of over 90%! And it was right with Isaiah! Mine this time says boy.  BOY

Clumsy vs. Graceful
If the pregnant woman is graceful throughout her pregnancy, she’s having a girl. If she becomes clumsy, she’s having a boy. I’ve definitely been more clumsy this pregnancy, dropping things and running into things like crazy!  BOY

Dad’s Weight Gain
If the dad gains weight while you are pregnant, it’s a girl. If he doesn’t gain weight, you’re having a boy. Hehe, this one makes me laugh. Drew has definitely packed on some pounds! Can someone please tell him that I’m NOT shrinking his pants!?!?  GIRL

Morning Sickness
If you had a smooth pregnancy with no morning sickness, it’s a boy. If you were sick or felt really nauseous during your pregnancy, count on a girl. I’ve been so sick this time, thrown up more times than I can count, and still on Zofran at 28 weeks (although not every day now!). GIRL

Cravings
Yearning for sweet things, especially citrus, means you’re having a girl. On the flip-side, a hankering for salty, sour or protein-rich foods could mean a boy. Definitely craving the sweets this time around. GIRL

Low or High?
If the mother is carrying low or narrow, it’s a boy; high and wide means a girl. Similarly, gaining weight in the hips and thighs means a girl, while extra weight in the front means a boy. Carrying low but not as low as I did with Isaiah. Maybe BOY?

Heart Rate
Some swear that if the baby’s heart rate is over 140, it’s a girl. Is the heart rate under 140? It’s a boy according to this old wives’ tale. This baby’s heart rate has always been in the 150-170 range every time I’ve been checked. GIRL

Mom’s Beauty
Basically you are having a girl if your beauty disappears during pregnancy. It is said that the girl “steals” the mother’s beauty. If you think that pregnancy has never made you look more beautiful, a little boy it is. Haha, I can’t really answer this one. Inclusive

Baby Names
It is said that when you can only think of specific names for a boy or a girl, you will have that particular baby. Drew and I have firmly decided on our boys name but still haven’t come up with a girls name we feel 100% sure about. BOY


TOTAL
BOY: 4
GIRL: 4
INCONCLUSIVE: 1

So, it looks like the gender predictions aren’t helping me much but they’re still fun to think about. Can’t wait until Spring when we will find out (and get to meet the sweet babe!). 

28 weeks!
And, as a fun comparison, me at 28 weeks with Isaiah!

When Life Gives You Lemons – Our 2013 Year in Review

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the {glory} of his name!
Tell the world how {glorious} he is.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!”
Psalm 66:1-3

When life gives you lemons you …. make lemonade, right? 2013 has been a lemonade making kinda year for us!

The first half of the year was good! We were able to obtain legal guardianship of our daughter, Eloise, we enjoyed our last few months in Uganda, and we moved back to the States in late May where we were able to see friends and family we hadn’t seen in over a year.

Our transition back to the States went so smoothly! We spent our first few weeks in Florida visiting Drew’s friends and family and then made the drive up to Michigan to spend some time with my family. The kids adjusted well to life back in America and our plans seemed to be moving right along.

When we returned from Uganda we had plans for Drew to attend grad school at Harvard in Cambridge. He had job interviews lined up, he made a trip to Boston to go to interviews and check things out, we were looking at places to live, and he had already enrolled in classes. We were planning to move to the Boston area in August and things seemed to be going just as we had planned.

In late July life started to throw us some curve balls. We found out that because of the specific degree program that Drew was going into, he would be unable to take out loans for his first year of school. Having spent most of our savings on Eloise’s adoption, we knew this meant that our income was going to have to fully cover the {high} cost of living in the Boston area as well as the {high} cost of attending Harvard! No matter which way we tried, we could not make things work out to do this. Finally, in August, just before school was to start, God firmly shut the door on that opportunity in our lives and started leading us in a different direction.

Now we were left wondering what in the world God had for us? Everything we had thought about, dreamt about and were looking forward to had been taken away and we had to find out what our next steps should be. We began to really struggle with believing that God’s hand was in this and that it would all work out for His glory.

Drew began to look for temporary work in Michigan while we tried to sort things out. He got a few minimum wage jobs while we continued to pray and see what God wanted for us.

In September, we made the decision to stay in Michigan and Drew began the process of being hired on as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He had been interested in this position for quite some time but kept putting it off because his desire was to return to school for his masters and this position with Edward Jones was a career position, not something he could do for a few years and then go back to school. However, it was a position he was highly interested in, as he was planning to go back to school for finance and business anyways. After much prayer, we felt like this was the direction God was leading us in.

Drew began completing each step of the Edward Jones hiring process… a lengthy process! In the mean time we lived on his minimum wage jobs and finances became extremely tight.

We struggled with God and wondered why He was bringing us through this. So much disappointment, unmet expectations, and discouraging things happened during this time. All of the plans {we} had for our life came crashing down and we both started to become bitter. We had just come out of an incredible year in Uganda where we both grew closer to each other and to God than we ever had before. We saw Him working in amazing and powerful ways. And now…. it seemed like He had abandoned us. We were walking in darkness and we couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

We began crying out to the Lord and asking Him to give us the faith to keep trusting in Him even when everything seemed to be going wrong. Drew kept advancing in the hiring process with Edward Jones but each step was so detailed and took so much time to complete and we began doubting that it would ever really happen.

In October we came to a breaking point. We were literally living dollar to dollar and one day a check we had written out to someone several months ago was finally cashed and we were left with very little money in our bank account. No cash, no savings, no stocks. We had spent most of our savings on Eloise’s adoption, supplementing our support while living in Uganda, and trying to live on the minimum wage job Drew currently had. We felt like we had reached the bottom.

The good thing about being at the bottom is that you have nowhere to go but {up}! God did not abandon us during this time and we had the support of friends and family who wrapped their arms around us and blessed us with their love and support. We began clinging to God’s word like never before.

Psalm 66 became one of our favorite chapters and these verses are seared in our hearts:

You have tested us, O God;
You have purified us like silver.
You captured us in your net
And laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
Then you put a leader over us.
{We went through fire and flood,
But you brought us to a place of great abundance.}
Psalm 66: 10-12

We knew that, just like the Israelites in Egypt, this was a time of great testing that God was bringing us through. We wanted to come out on the other side having grown stronger because of it. We began trying to focus on our blessings. We have a wonderful house to live in that is spacious and has cheap rent, we have a sweet new baby on the way, we were able to finalize Eloise’s adoption in October and she legally became our daughter, we have wonderful friends and family, and we have a great marriage that can weather any storm! We began to see how God was using these trials in our life to make us into better people and we refocused our attitudes. We also began to look forward to the “place of great abundance” God would bring us to, whether that be financially, physically, or spiritually. We began learning to trust Him with whatever would come our way.

On December 26th, Drew completed the final step in the hiring process with Edward Jones. After that was over, we breathed a sigh of relief that he had finished all of the steps and ….. we waited to hear if he would get hired on.

Five days (felt like five years!) later we heard back. Drew had passed! Just today, after three months in the hiring process, we learned that Drew is finally being hired on as a financial advisor with Edward Jones! We are so excited about where this will take our family and we look forward to seeing what God does in and through us as we serve Him with this next step in our lives.

Over these next few months, as Drew takes several exams, attends several training seminars, and begins building a client base, we will find out where this new job will move our family. Most likely we’ll still be in the West Michigan area but we’re not exactly sure where his office will be. We look forward to finding out and getting settled so that we can begin putting down roots. We are looking forward to having the income necessary to support our family and to bless others on top of that just as we have been blessed!

I started this blog a few months ago mainly for myself. I want to remember all that we have gone through and all that we will go through. I want to be able to look back and see how my kids have grown and remember the fun family memories we have made together. But most of all I want to be able to look back and see how God used {every} situation in our lives to work together for good to bring HIM {glory}! And while it’s mainly just for me, I hope that I can in some way encourage you as well.

So here’s to 2014! It may be another lemonade making kind of year, but that’s ok, because we’re making the best lemonade we can for God’s GLORY!

But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
Or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
Psalm 66: 19-20