Paradise at Paradisus

Hello everyone!

We're back.  FatherWinter and I just had an amazingly awesome trip in the beautiful Dominican Republic.  We spent 8 days and 7 nights celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary and the great things that God has done for us on this journey.  The setting was the beautiful Paradisus Palma Real. Hands down, it was an amazing trip!

View from the lobby stairs


We arrived on a Saturday morning and, after receiving our bracelets, were immediately directed to the one of the restaurants to enjoy the buffet while they prepared our room.
Our all access pass for the week

Happy Anniversary!


It's our anniversary!!!
How blessed we are to see this day.
There is such an amazing journey in it.  Such love.  Such raw and earnest emotion.
Our every day hasn't been perfect.  That's what makes us genuine.
We've had to climb mountains.  We did it together.
We've had to walk in the lowest valleys.  You held me in your arms while we sobbed in unison.
We've had to learn how to speak...and how to listen.  
We've had to open our hearts ...and embrace our minds.
But the beauty in our journey remains
Our path has three distinct imprints--Yours, Mine, and Our Father in Heaven
We have sojourned together and together we always will.
I bless God for you now and always.
I love you!!
Happy Anniversary and may we be blessed with many, many more.






Early in our marriage, someone close to me told me that marriage isn't work and that the people who say it is go into marriage with unrealistic expectations.  I was taken aback because I certainly felt (feel) like marriage was work, not draining or unsatisfying, but work nonetheless.  In the course of time from that conversation to this day, I can assure you marriage IS work.

My husband and I have been married three years today.  Sometimes it feels like quite a few more and that's not a bad thing.  It's amazing to think that three years ago we were just beginning our journey into marriage.  We both came in with expectations of what marriage was going to be.  We'd had countless conversations and even attended premarital counseling.  Well before there was a ring or anything of a ring, we were attending Marriage Ministry classes.  So, we (well I) went in with the expectation that we, who both love God so much, would naturally fall into a perfect rhythm.  Not so much lol.

In our marriage, we have worked together  to embrace two different individuals with different experiences into one flesh.  We two individuals each possessed something so real and so important to God's plan that He allowed us to marry and work together to fulfill His purpose through us.  That's pretty deep.  In some things, it seems quite easy.  In others, it take a little more finesse. But we have continued to love one another and move together with God's guidance in our marriage.

We've faced infertility, two failed adoption matches, a court battle to keep and ultimately adopt our daughter, and the uniqueness of a blended family.  Still, every day I find another reason to love my husband even when our life experiences seem surrounded in darkness.  It is because of that love and God's grace and mercy, that we've been blessed with some really amazing memories and journeys.  

We purchased our first home.  We've managed to put smiles on the faces of my in laws with acts of kindness, love, and appreciation.  We've taken amazing trips.  We have seen the blessing of our son as he grows into his purpose and takes on the adventures of life.  We've been blessed with our daughter when there were times I felt like Hannah in our fertility journey.  We have survived medical scares and times of frustration.  We've had each other's back in ways that would take too long to write about. We've also been imperfect with one another.  We've been weak with one another.  We've been emotional with one another.  But we have remained in love with one another.  We've continued to pray for one another.  We continue to pray for one another.  We love one another as God has loved us.

Three years ago, I walked down a carpeted aisle holding my father's hand staring at this man of God who was ready to vow to me and in front of God to love me with all of him.  I saw this man, my husband to be, and was ready to vow to love him and support him with all of me until God called me home.  I meant that thang (as my girlfriend likes to say).  [And] I always will.

Love you, sweetness.

-WinterMommy


I walked down the aisle to Chrisette Michele's Golden on our wedding day.  I have loved this song from the first moment I heard it and thought it more than appropriate for us.  These are the lyrics.


Take me back in the day when loving was pure
Love ain't going away, love is always secure
Life's not always perfect but love's always forever
Let's let true love connect lets try lasting together

I'm so ready to love, I'm so ready to promise my all
I'm so ready to give 'til the day that my life is no more
I'll be everything that this woman can possibly be
Cause I'm ready to be like the olden days when commitment was golden

Be the man of my dreams and get down on one knee, love
Say you'll be all I need and then ask me to marry you, my love
Lets take two golden bands and lets walk down the isle, love
I'll say I do and you'll say I do, make a golden commitment, oh

I'm so ready to love, I'm so ready to promise my all
and I'm so ready to give 'til the day that my life is no more
I'll be everything that this woman could possibly be, yes I will
Cause I'm ready to be like the olden days when commitment was golden


                                                       

Keep Calm...



We're stepping away from the blog world, but God willing, will return soon with some fun memories and adventures.  Talk to you soon!

An Awesome God...

I've been a bit quiet this week.  I wanted to immediately log on and share what's been going on in our world.  I also tempered myself knowing that there are still privacy concerns in all things.  So, I've been a bit close lipped.  I can say that recently a hearing was held with regard to the TPR appeal issued by a member of Honeybee's family.

Scriptures have been posted everywhere



The appeal process and our experience of it has been sometimes quite disconcerting and, at times, alarmingly frightening.  Still, we prayed.

We posted scripture, meditated on those Words, trusted God in His will and judgment, and prepared ourselves for whatever came our way.

The "whatever" that came our way was the judge ruling in favor of our petition to move forward with permanency and denying the appeal for termination of parental rights.  We are so thankful.  What this means now is we have to wait for a period of time while the opportunity for yet another appeal is provided.  If that appeal does not come (and we are actively praying it does not), we will be allowed to complete the paperwork that will finally allow our daughter's adoption to be finalized.  In a few months, we hope to be introducing a beautiful family portrait of all family members.

It's been a very long journey.  It is wonderful to be able to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. Ms. Care recently stopped by for a visit and told me it would be her last supervisory visit before we sign the appropriate paperwork.  Wow!  That kind of caught me off guard.  Ms. Care has been such an integral part of this journey from the very beginning.  She has seen us from the first day Honeybee was placed in our arms and loved in our hearts.  Now, we are approaching a time when the standard 30 day visits are no longer required, when calls asking for permission to take Honeybee out of the state won't be a necessity.  We're approaching a time where we can share family photos with my family out of the state over email without any hindrance.  I'm really looking forward to it.

BUT, I am also sobered thinking of her birth family.  The updates are still going to continue and nothing will ever change that.  But I know how it feels to want to know the other side of you, to know whom you look like, and what activities you share in common.  Honeybee will always know who she is and where she comes from, but I do wonder how she will feel about her story.

One things is more than certain.  I am so very thankful that God has seen fit for Honeybee to remain with us as her forever family and that we are allowed to love her and protect her as well as we are able.  I will continue to pray for all parties involved.  I know this is not an easy thing at all.

Our Honeybee remains happy at home.  For that, we are grateful.

-WinterMommy

Tonight's prayer



I've no idea what the future holds
Whether yay, or nay, or wait
But I trust sincerely in Your will
And that You will guide my Fate

Whatever decisions are made, dear Lord
Help me remain true
Help me not to put my trust in man
But remain steadfast in you

Remove my fears; Erase my doubts
Let nothing cause me strain
Protect my family circle
Protect us from all pain

As I lay my head to rest
Allow me to rest well
I know my Father You are in control
Any negativity in me please quell

Tonight my Father, guard my heart
Protect them as they lay
And no matter what happens keep me calm
For I know it will be okay.

Amen.



Comforting words and Dinosaur bones

This morning, our family received a wonderful blessing.  We went to our early morning service and heard such a great and comforting word.  The subject was "Trouble don't last always".  The preacher spoke on three biblical characters (the man with the unclean spirit, the woman with the issue of blood, and the ruler) who sough Jesus for their issue.  Each had been afflicted in some kind of way.  They could have wallowed in it, could have been depressed, could have refused to keep going, but each did something opposite of that.  They each sought God, they made themselves available, and they were each set free.  The preacher continued discussing how we do the "Woe is me" and "pity party", but it is when we put our faith in God and trust Him that we are truly sustained.  [AND] Even if we are not delivered from that issue in this life, we know that when we pass into eternal life that deliverance and freedom is assured.  Considering everything we've dealt with this past year that was certainly a blessing to me.

After the morning service was over and breakfast was shared, we went in the back for Sunday School. There I was blessed again.  I was talking to the teacher of our Young Adult class that morning and we somehow got on the discussion of how the world was experiencing its birth pangs as discussed in Matthew 24:7-8. (7"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8"But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.)  I shared with the teacher that I'd recently stumbled on the blog post of Derick Dillard, husband of Jill Duggar Dillard of 19 Kids and Counting fame.  Now, my disclaimer is I am not a follower of this blog.  I literally stumbled over it during another devotion search, but what he said was so powerful an interpretation of that scripture and its correlation to the birth pangs of a woman that I was happy for him that he got it on such a major level.

"From what I’ve learned in birth class (as well as from Jill, who is a student midwife) and from what I am witnessing right now with Jill, labor pains start sporadically and then become more consistent, longer lasting, and stronger the closer we get to the birth of our son. Again, it’s important to remember that we don’t know when he will be born, but we can definitely see the evidence that points to his imminent arrival, whenever that might be. This is the perfect picture of how “end times” events will play out." -Derick Dillard, Dillard Family Blog

Of course, I cut out preceding paragraphs for space, but wow.  That resonated with me when I read it.  I felt a lot of comfort from it and from re-reading the Scripture.  It was great discussing it this morning.  What happened next was moreso.  FatherWinter arrived in class and he and the teacher began having discussions about spiritual gifts, talents, and evangelism.  I joined in where appropriate, but found that I learning more from listening to their conversation.  The zeal of evangelism and the love of God were all of these two men.  They had a wonderful conversation such that the room felt warm with peace and the love of God.  I was suddenly interrupted by Honeybee needing to be changed.  So, I left the room to change her, but still filled with such awe for what I had witnessed.

After church and Sunday school were over, FatherWinter, Superbug, Honeybee, and I went to the museum to see the Spinosaurus exhibit.  As I am a huge history buff, I have been looking forward to this exhibit for quite some time.  Today was the last day for the exhibit, so we all went over to enjoy that.  I was more than a little impressed.

Spinosaurus

Sail bones
A future paleontologist? 


Imagine seeing that running down the street.
After viewing the Spinosaurus, we took the opportunity to view some pretty big prehistoric fish models and fossils.  Superbug was impressed at how several of the baby fish could still swallow whole if they desired.


After viewing the exhibits, we all sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine.  Superbug found a playmate and played in the museum's courtyard while FatherWinter, Honeybee, and I  watched and conversed.

We discussed going to walk along the Tidal Basin to see all of the historical sites and festivals, but there were so many people out that traffic was starting to back up.  It made sense for us to go home and visit another day that wasn't as popular.

We made the trek home with everyone falling asleep in the car, except FatherWinter who was driving.  Once home, we finally had an opportunity to get that lawn work done.

 Everything was going well before we realized we needed at least two more bags of mulch.  So the yard isn't looking too great at the moment.

But we have confidence, we'll finish it sometime this week.

There will be a lot of activities ongoing this week. We promise to try and keep you updated on them all.

In the meantime, please keep our family in your prayers.

-WinterMommy

Happy National Siblings Day!

So, I turned on the news this morning and was surprised to see Matt Lauer and Al Roker discussing National Siblings Day.  Last year, it kind of came and went without much fanfare.  I guess people are starting to get into it.

Far be it for me not to celebrate my own.  I'd very much like to celebrate my brother and sisters.  We have a unique story.  I didn't meet them until I was an adult in my 20s.  I didn't grow up with my father.  I had no idea where he was or what he looked like, but remembered being told that all I had to do was look in the mirror.  I did.  It didn't help.

When I became an adult, I searched and searched until one day, God (truly God) allowed all the pieces to connect and I was provided a phone number.  On the other end was a connection that has been like titanium ever sense.  I have met brother and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws, aunts and uncles.  It's always awesome to see the other side of you.  It's one of the reasons I wholeheartedly support Honeybee's right to learn who she is and where her genetic roots lie.  It's awful not knowing and I would never keep that from her.

That being said, allow me to introduce the other side of me...




Happy National Siblings Day!!!

-WinterMommy

The Easter Edition 2015


Yep, we are more than a little late for this post.  Things have been a bit hectic and we'll explain in a follow-on post.  In the mean time, please enjoy our Easter Edition of So Frequently Frazzled.
                                       

Maybe God is trying to tell me something

Have you ever been prayed for something so fervently for so long and then, when you didn't see it manifesting itself, you stopped praying for it?  Not because you didn't believe that God could do it, but because maybe you were just tired of seeing it not happening and figured it wasn't in God's will. [And] Just because you didn't ask or talk to God about it didn't mean the desire left you.

Well, I prayed quite some time ago that God make me over.  I asked Him to remove the things in my life and heart that weren't of Him.  I asked him to make me in His image.  Even in doing so, I acknowledged that the process could get messy, but I wanted it.  I truly yearned for it.  Then, one day, when I felt like I wasn't really seeing the progress I thought that I should see, I stopped praying for it. I didn't stop hoping for it, desiring it, but I stopped going to God about it.  I don't know why it didn't dawn on me that God is still well aware of the desires of my heart.

The past few months have been very trying.  I have found myself depending more and more on God and less and less on me.  That's a good thing, but it's hard.  My moment of transparency...it's one of the hardest things I'm learning in my life.  I have always had this pure acknowledgement that I am nothing without Christ and that I am worthy of nothing without Him.  But, in pure honesty, there were/are some areas in my life that are not what they should be.  One of those things is my blatant refusal to step out of my comfort zone.  What's wrong with that, you ask?  Well, I have purposely not done things that I believed were God's desire for my life.  Yep, I said it.  I'm not proud of it either.

Quite some time ago, I had the opportunity to make a career move with quite a sizable income increase.  It was during a time where I was approaching the end of one contract and needed another one immediately.  The interview went okay.  I honestly thought I could have done loads better.  I wasn't as confidant about this position as I asked questions and answered those thrown at me.  I walked away thinking I wouldn't be offered the position.  I was quite surprised when the opposite occurred and I was offered the position with quite a large increase.  BUT, it was something completely and totally out of my comfort zone.  It was something I thought I could possibly do, but something that I didn't really feel comfortable doing.  It would be a very steep learning curve. It was a lot of responsibility and put me in the front, in a managerial role.  I didn't want that.  I was and am much more comfortable in a supporting role.  I don't need my name in lights.  I don't even need you to know that I did it.  A simple thank you is sufficient.  Even without one, I'm good.  The fact that this position would be in front of everyone and good, bad, or indifferent I would be the go-to person bothered me a lot.  I talked to FatherWinter about it.  I prayed about it.  I felt like there was a reason I was there, but I was afraid and out of my comfort zone, and I turned the job down.  Ugh... if this was a test, I failed.

Still, God allowed me to find another job with a smaller increase but something that I was very comfortable in.  It was something I thrived in.  I did well, bought smiles to faces, and have enjoyed small luxuries like a shorter commute and the ability to be present for my son's school functions. These things are very important to me.  So, I was admittedly unprepared for recent developments.

Two days ago, I was asked if I would consider taking a position still within the company, but outside of the main office that would have me in a terrible commute at least part of my work week, would cause inconvenience for my family and I, and would take me completely and totally out of my comfort zone. I discussed with my family, thought about it, and quite frankly because of fear of comfort zones, I turned it down.  But even as I did so, something within me knew that wasn't the last I'd hear of it.

Fast forward to today.  This afternoon, I received an email from Honeybee's social worker regarding the upcoming TPR.  I talked to her on the phone regarding some information about our Honeybee's hearing and the frustrations that are still there and the fear that subtly exists as well.  I got off the phone feeling drained and in need of some kind of light.  I called a very good sister in Christ who helped to calm me down without even knowing all the dirty details (I so love her for respecting the privacy of Honeybee's case) and prayed for me.  After that conversation and the frustrations of the day,  I returned to my work space only to log on to my computer and read an email request to come to my supervisor's office when I was free.

There, I was informed of some major shake ups in the company that could possibly remove our entire office.  Because of the shakeup, employees would need to make adjustments to ensure they were able to be employed full-time.  I would need to reconsider my comfort zones...and the position.  Sigh....Good one, Father.

Funny.  This isn't the first time I've been invited to attend a position in this location and in this area.  I keep finding myself returning to it.  I feel like Jonah.  I don't want to.  Unlike Jonah, I don't feel like I'm being directed that way, but...aren't I if every other door is closing?






This morning I woke up with a lot of heaviness.  I didn't know why and I didn't like it.  My daily devotion email said:

"For those of you, My people, who are stressed because of your work load or circumstances, take a deep breath.  I tell you truthfully that everything is going to be all right.  No need to worry.  Take every opportunity to relax even it it is for a few minutes, and re-focus on knowing you have My Spirit to comfort you and lead you to peace and safety, says the Lord.  You are not alone.  Psalms 31: 3 For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me."

That read like some pretty sturdy guidance to me.  So, I've tried to proactively schedule some me time...some real me time.  Not me time like sitting in a restaurant reading or even scheduling a massage.  I plan on scheduling some time just for me to sit down in a quiet and beautiful setting and have an earnest talk to God.

Until I get to that place and space, I'll just continue to pray to God from wherever I am and ask Him what He wants me to do next.

Still, I make no qualms about it.  I am so outside of my comfort zone.  I don't like it.  But I do believe that what God has planned is better than anything I could ever plan for myself.  So, please continue to pray for me and my family.   It would certainly be appreciated.

-WinterMommy