Mike&Sarah

Tag Archive: baby

My Mother’s Daughter

“I am my mother’s daughter.”

20130221-104543.jpgThat thought ran through my mind as I stepped back from the clean, clear kitchen counter. For weeks it was missing under piles of mail, foster care paperwork, tax forms, calendars, stacks of bibs, mugs of coffee, iPhone chargers and other forms of clutter.

Two nights ago, in a fit of
dissatisfaction coupled with a longing for visual space, I attacked that counter with a vengeance, rearranging kitchen appliances, throwing out unneeded papers, sorting and saving important documents and assigning other “homes” to everything else. Then, after wiping the counter down with one final antibacterial cloth, I sighed deeply and enjoyed the clear space. It didn’t last long as Mike came home with the mail and unloaded the contents of his backpack and grocery bags on that counter. But for one hour I had that clear space.

Diligently I’ve kept an eye on that counter, cleaning, and sorting the items which end up on the clear surface. It’s only 10am, but twice today I’ve guarded and maintained that empty counter.

I remember the satisfaction my mom seemed to derive from a clean kitchen and clear counters. In fact, when we kids did dishes, part of the chore included unloading the drying rack before going to bed so that when Mom awoke to start breakfast for all of us she started with an empty kitchen. I understand that requirement a lot more now.

Somehow, with each member of the family we add, the house becomes a bit more difficult to maintain in pristine condition. When we had PIE + our puppy + two foster babies + people coming in to help my home seldom felt clean and organized. We had charts to keep track of feeding, napping and changing the three babies in the house, laundry piling up, and bulky toys for the kids throughout the living room. With only three rooms in the apartment, and two of those being bedrooms, our home felt even smaller.

That clear counter represents more to me than simply an empty space. It’s like an invitation to rest in the order, to think creatively, the breathe deeply.

Yesterday Mom sent a link about a stay at home mom who calls herself a “nap time abolitionist” and changes the world while her kids sleep. But even more than I loved the article, I loved that my mom sent the link to me. Perhaps she sent it as encouragement as I struggle to fulfill God’s call on my life, honor the way He made me, utilize my gifting and skills, maximize my time and love on the babies entrusted to me. I try to take advantage of nap times to help people take their next step towards fulfilling their Divine destiny even as I try to do that myself.

But this was modeled to me growing up by my mom. She served her family, looked for opportunities to grow her mind and use her strengths and develop new interests. She did all of this while raising four daughters, supporting her husband, crisscrossing the country as a Navy Wife (“The toughest job you’ll ever love!”), going back to college to earn her degree, and, later, caring for my dad through leukemia, chemotherapy and his heaven-going.

I’m so thankful for how she’s modeled stages in a woman’s life: motherhood, wife-hood, and widowhood. May I walk with grace like her, leaning into Jesus with each day, so that at the end of my life I can still say “I am my mother’s daughter.”

Restoration

It seems like God called us to live our life out loud, encouraging others from the circumstances and events that challenge us to love and trust Him more deeply.

Sarah shared our experience of God’s overwhelming grace through infertility, our miscarriage and adopting Phoebe at a Cru Campus Christmas conference in Baltimore before New Years Eve, and we were surprised by how our message of restoration resonated with the 1000 students and staff in the room.  Sarah talked about brokenness, living in “the now and the not yet,” and looking to Jesus as our ultimate healer.

RADIATE 2012 – Sarah Evers from Mid-Atlantic Cru on Vimeo.

Your prayers and giving enable us to tell people in New York City and around the world how Jesus restores and transforms lives. Thank you for your partnership.

Foster Family

fosterparentimageIt’s taken nearly a year to get to this point, but we can now announce, “We’re foster parents!”

This wasn’t an adventure I ever imagined or dreamed of.  In my mind, people who foster children are much more kind, compassionate, tender, gentle and caring than I am.  Not that these aren’t adjectives that describe me, but they certainly aren’t the first ones that come to mind when I think of myself (I think of strategic, dreamer, get-er-done-er, and communicator).  But God started a work in both Mike’s heart and mine after we moved to New York City two years ago.  Last year we took our first step towards fostering, and now we’re living it out.  It feels good to follow God in joyful obedience.

While we hope God will use foster care to build our family, we realize that the goal of the foster care system is reunification.  Our role is to provide a safe and loving place for a child while the family “gets better, healthier”.

Saturday night our first foster baby arrived, a 7 month old baby girl.  We love having her with us and she’s a cheery baby with a lot to say!

Thursday night our second foster baby arrived, a 6 month old baby boy.  We are quite taken with him and so honored to host him.  He, too, is a smiley babe.

Our Cutie PIE is doing well with her new friends.  She reaches out to play with the babies and seems to enjoy them.  Mike and I make sure we each get some good one on one time with her, too.

Yes, having three babies under the age of one AND a puppy makes life really full, and our small apartment is really full, too.  My sister spent the last two nights with us to help out, as we’re getting our systems down.  This isn’t a typical or normal placement situation in the foster system: we were given an exception to be able to care for these two additional babies, and while it is extra work, we felt like God clearly led us to take them both*.

Are we crazy?  Perhaps.  But following God sometimes means walking down unexpected pathways… and we trust our relentlessly affectionate God!  Amen!

 

*Legally we are not able to share case details.  Each child (and their family) deserves privacy and respect as they work towards reunification.  We will not post pictures of our foster babies, nor will we answer personal questions about them.  But we welcome your prayers for their health, safety and care, and the same for their families!

Adoption Day

It finally arrived. The only thing that stood in our way was Hurricane Sandy, but once power was restored to downtown New York City, we were able to reschedule the appointment that the Hurricane wiped out.

Good thing, too. The judge who finalized our adoption is retiring at the end of the year and if we weren’t able to get this very important date squeezed into her schedule in this calendar year, then we’d have to start all of our paperwork all over again in 2013.

That stress never materialized despite my efforts at freaking out. We took the 1 train and transferred to the 2 to make our way to the Surrogate Court on Chambers Street where we met up with our lawyer in the beautiful lobby and rode the elevator to the fifth floor. There we waited in an majestic court room flanked by two fireplaces designed by Tiffany & Co. The room also had a gorgeous, wood-carved viewing gallery on the second floor.

After a short wait while the Judge’s staff assembled, we were ushered into her private chambers, which was larger than our entire apartment and had a marble fireplace. It was a grand room to be called a “private chamber.” Sarah’s sister Carrie appeared just as we entered, so she slipped in with us to photo document the auspicious occasion. Thank you Carrie!

In between questions and statements from the Judge, we raised our right hands and swore to be Phoebe’s parents. It was a great way to kick off Thanksgiving.

As of the day before Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, November 21, 2012, Phoebe Irene Evers became legally, officially, as recognized by the State of New York, forever and ever OURS. Amen!

With humility we gratefully thank her birthmother for her courage, endurance and bravery.  She chose life and we are forever grateful and forever changed by that decision.

With joy we thank our family, friends, and community for celebrating and supporting us through the swift introduction to parenthood.  Our closets and bookshelves are bursting with your practical, tangible help and our nursery is a reminder of your love.

With deep thanksgiving we praise our God who gives every perfect gift and does all things well. Thank you Jesus for building our family in this redemptive way!

Conference PIE

“This is a new phase in my life in ministry,” I thought as I noticed the VP of Cru’s US Leadership Development walk by while chuckling at us.  I was in the middle of leading a feedback session with one of the City Directors for Here’s Life Inner City, affirming what I’d seen in his character, competency and capacity over the last six months of coaching his Action Learning Team, and offering ideas for further growth, development and stretch opportunities.

But what made this chuckle-worthy over other feedback sessions I’ve been part of was that I had PIE strapped to my chest and falling asleep in the Ergo carrier and I was wearing a dress and heels.

It’s been a busy month in family and ministry, stretching me when it comes to planning, preparation and walking in step with the Holy Spirit.

Seminar on Walking with God for a Lifetime

Last week I spoke twice at “Unmasked,” the south western PA/Jersey Cru student fall retreat, once in a seminar to equip students to walk with God for a lifetime and then later that day during their Women’s Night.  It was a tremendous time, the students were really receptive to God’s words on Hebrews 12:1-3 and fixing our eyes on Jesus, and the staff women pulled off one of the best overall programs I’ve been part of for a women’s night in 15+ years of campus ministry.  It was fantastic, gut-level honest, honoring to Jesus, and overflowing with mercy and grace.  It exemplified the kind of open, caring, passionate community that I long to be part of on a regular basis.

The next day I met Mike and Phoebe at the Newark airport where we flew to Orlando for the third module of SLI4 (Senior Leadership Initiative, Cycle 4), a 2-year intensive leadership development program designed by Cru to help senior ministry leaders from Cru’s ministries across the country (like The Military Ministry, Here’s Life Inner City, The Campus Ministry, Cru High School, Athletes in Action, The JESUS Film Project, and The Office of the President, among others) increase their capacity and competency while growing in Christ-like character.  I was a participant in SLI1, and Mike and I have helped lead aspects of SLI3 and SLI4.

Developing current leaders and helping people stretch to reach their potential is vital in the life of any organization.  According to a recent Fast Company article:

U.S. companies spent an estimated $67 billion on training in 2011. Some have been more creative about it than others. P&G CEO Bob McDonald, for instance, says he invites 150 leaders each year to a training center like West Point or the Center for Creative Leadership. General Electric spends about $1 billion annually on training through its corporate university in Crotonville, N.Y. PepsiCo enrolls its high-potential leaders in a program that includes a week at Wharton Business School and an immersion experience in an emerging market. General Mills has described one of its leadership courses as “a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga and dialogue.”

Cru’s intentional leadership development program for senior employees is one of the places where I (Sarah) feel like I’ve been able to make my best contribution to the Kingdom of God so far.  We haven’t spent $35million like Starbucks recently did to create a passionate experience to turn their employees into Starbucks evangelists, but our 2-year long program which meets every six months for a week of training, challenge, stretch experiences and spiritual input also includes bi-weekly one-on-one coaching with business leaders who are friends of the ministry.

Whether in her stroller, sitting on the floor or a new friend’s lap, or enjoying a nap in the Ergo, PIE attended a good bit of Cru’s Leadership Conference.  When she became more vocal, Mike and I took turns going for walks or finding a dark conference room where she could settle down for a snooze.

As I embrace my new role as PIE’s Mom, there are still opportunities to contribute to the mission and ministry I love so much.  Naturally I can’t dive into everything; a good bit of flexibility is required, especially as her needs change and as (we pray…) God adds to our family.

I’m motivated to help people take their next step in their faith journey to live out their God-given calling.  Sometimes that means taking a back-scenes approach by caring for PIE and our NYC apartment enabling Mike to offer his best and minister without distraction.  At other times it means taking a more visible role to reach out to people.  Finding that balance at each of PIE’s developmental stages is the goal, and my heart wants to be grateful for each day as I live out what God has for me… Even if it invites more chuckling.

 

NOTE: To prepare for the trip I read a ton of parenting blogs and asked lots of moms for tips on traveling with a baby.  One of the best tips: pack blue painters tape.

It serves some very practical uses like taping the hotel room curtains closed so sun light doesn’t stream into the room, securing toys to the seat-back in front of you on the plane to entertain your young one, taping shopping bags or light blankets to the car windows as a sun shield so the Sunshine State doesn’t blind your baby in the car, covering the sides of the pack-and-play or crib with towels to create a dark, cozy place for Baby to sleep, and it also becomes a great toy when rolled into big balls.

An Evers Nursery

Mike assured me that we needed to take steps of faith to move towards preparing our home for our Sweet Baby Girl, but I was hesitant.  What if the birth mother changed her mind?  Then I’d have this beautiful but empty room as a constant reminder of another painful loss.  But just like Mike was right about the faith risk to create a baby registry, he was also right about setting up a nursery.  And we had to hurry!  We met our birth mother on February 5, 2012, and she was due eight weeks later at the end of March.

I hurried to Pinterest to start searching for nursery ideas but quickly discovered that if I set up a pin board then everyone could see it, possibly creating curiosity in my friends and questions I wasn’t prepared to answer.  Our lawyers cautioned us to keep our news private until it was final, so creating a board was out.  And time was ticking away.

Unassembled crib (with attached play-aquarium) from my sister Chrissie. Waiting for assembly and a baby!

My sister Chrissie gave us her crib and cushy glider with ottoman (hooray!) so at least we had that.  My mom drove up with the crib her in car and it sat unassembled in our second bedroom.  The glider would come later when a family SUV was available for the drop off.  But I didn’t know what to do or what to get next.  I was in New York City without a car or a clue.

Cue the hero music, and enter Joe.  Joe is one of our church small group leaders and he has a knack for finding amazing items at estate sales, the Salvation Army, and even on the side of the road.  Joe offered to help out so he came over to take room measurements, listen to my ideas and offer a few of his own.  And then he was off on a treasure hunt in our great city.

Future diaper changing area

A week later I met Joe at the Salvation Army on 46th Street and he pointed out all the pieces he thought would fulfill my nursery wish list. With some vision and creativity, I knew he brought me to the right spot.  I agreed with him, and then went to arrange payment and delivery.  The good news: The Salvation Army couldn’t deliver the furniture for nearly two weeks, and the day they were in my neighborhood was the day my younger sister was moving out of our future nursery.  Perfect timing.  Simply perfect.

Remove glass hutch for future storage and window seat

(Thanks Lord!).  I gladly paid my money and nearly skipped out of the thrift store with Joe.

I bought the bottom half of a hutch (the top wasn’t available) which had metal trim, and a low china cabinet.  Joe would remove the glass hutch and repurpose that for himself, and I would end up with the bottom part with the storage and drawers.

Now for the paint color and fabrics!

Not a Peep bedding

I fell in love with a grey and yellow color scheme after looking at bedding at Land of Nod. It was pricier than many other stores, but through some sweet connections we were able to buy a few of the Not A Peep bedding pieces at a discount, which made Mike much happier, too.  It was back-ordered, so I had to do my best to color match using my computer screen (usually not a good idea). A trip to Home Depot in Midtown resulted in stacks of paint chips to try to find the best one.

Four fabrics from Mood and Ikea fabric curtains

Then Mike and I went to Mood (“Thank you Mood!”) to pick out some fabrics.  What a wonderful place I felt empowered and creative looking at all those beautiful and crazy fabrics, textures and patterns.  After returning home with tons of swatches, we finally settled on four fabrics for pillows, the seat cushion, and lining the top of the diaper changing area.  We re-used the grey curtains that I’d made with my MIL’s help and Ikea fabric when we lived in Orlando.  We ended up with a color scheme of grey and yellow with pops of purple.  I love it, and I think it will work with any gender should God give us more children (yes, please).

Months earlier I saw a show highlighting Sarah Richardson’s design for a nursery which knocked my socks off.  I can’t paint our apartment walls, nor can I put wallpaper on the ceiling (sigh!), but I loved her use of color and pattern, and that made me feel better about the variety of swatches we had for our nursery, plus the curtains and the fabric for the bedding.

By now we were getting much closer to the delivery and our sweet birth mother gave us regular updates after her doctor appointments.  Her doctor thought this Sweet Baby Girl would arrive early, so Mike and I packed up and left the City to be closer to the birth hospital. Good thing, too, because Sweet Baby Girl was born just three days after we left the City, and two weeks early!

Meantime, our church small group (co-led by “Can-Do” Joe) volunteered to finish our nursery while we were away!  My jaw was on the floor when two of the women approached me with the offer and asked for keys to our place.  Joe assembled the crib and painted the Salvation Army furniture the color I had chosen while the rest of the group hemmed my curtains, sewed pillows, purchased a mattress for the crib, made the seat cushion, received packages, unpacked boxes, and arranged and rearranged the room as more baby items were delivered.  They forwarded a few things to us (like the Moby wrap and Mike’s diaper bag), and had everything finished and arranged for our return.  Amen!  It certainly does take a village (or a small group) to create a nursery  They did such a fantastic job, and I’m humbled by their generosity.  I think it’s simply beautiful!

Sweet Baby Girl (P.I.E.) testing out her crib

First peek at the nursery

The old china cabinet is now a reading bench

Since our return we’ve added a few decorative details to the room, like a chandelier wall decal (on clearance at Babies-R-Us), some little round mirrors above the changing table (under $10 at Target for stick-on wall mirrors), and a funky Flensted mobile over the crib (a splurge from 2Modern).  When the glider arrived we had to rearrange the room, too, to accommodate more furniture.

Without the generosity of our church small group, and the kindness of so many friends and family to give us gifts, our nursery would not have come to together!  With a humble and grateful heart I thank the numerous dear people who have cheered us on to an unexpected parenthood.  Thank you.

Thank You

“Thank you.” It seems like such a little phrase, but it comes from my heart.  I’m so humbled by the kindness and generosity people have poured out on us to celebrate our Sweetie PIE’s arrival.

My family bent over backwards to help us settle in: Chrissie and her 5-year old daughter made room in their home for us and we all lived together while we waited for some of the legal paperwork to be approved so we could legally return to New York with PIE.  They were inconvenienced, but didn’t complain!  My other sisters came over to “ooh” and “ahh,” and they even watched PIE for a few hours so Mike and I could go out for lunch to celebrate our 4th anniversary.  My mom was a happy grandmother for the second time.

Mike’s parents drove out to meet PIE on her first day.  They stayed for several days and brought gifts and sweet love for their seventh grandchild.

Our NYC church small group assembled our nursery so that when we returned to the City with PIE we walked into a the joy of a completed nursery.  They painted furniture, assembled the crib, washed the linens, sewed pillows and seat cushions, and arranged gifts and furniture.  Our nursery is gorgeous (I hope to write about it soon)!  Thank you Best Fellowship Group Ever!

Dear friends provided us with a quick “baby moon” get away in the midst of so much secret running around for fingerprinting and legal paperwork.  How delightful to escape to the beach for a looong weekend together.

Many people sent gifts and cards and gift cards to celebrate PIE and settle us into our new life as a family of three.  PIE’s closet overflows with new and hand-me-down clothes and we are quickly going through containers of formula and boxes of diapers.  Everywhere I look I see your gifts: tangible expressions of love and excitement about our “insta-family.”

I’m so grateful for each kind word and encouragement, though I’m not up-to-date with my handwritten thank you notes yet.  No, I’m not simply “grateful,” but I’m also overwhelmed, appreciative and humbled.  Your generosity has left me in unexpected awe again… which is a great way to describe this year: unexpected.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

A Word from Her Daddy

written by Mike on February 15, 2012

Here I am writing my first blog. You may be wondering with the rest of the world, “What in the world possessed Mike to blog?!” No one has ever asked me to blog, nor do I think anyone could get me to blog till today. The one who has the unseen powers to get me here is my soon-to-be-born baby girl.

My baby girl is due the end of March. I did not know about her till 2 weeks ago. But God knew her before the creation of the world.

Sarah is much better at painting the picture for you on the ups and downs of our journey. I’ll leave that up to her to bring you along. It possesses a lot of miraculous turns and excitement. I’m only here to make a couple of things clear.

I want it to be clear to my baby girl that I wanted her and loved her before I ever met her. She is not born yet, but she is already mine. I cannot wait to meet her and anticipate her arrival. She is loved already by her daddy and mommy. Since we met her birth mother I cannot stop thinking about her and praying for her. Daddy was so excited that he bought her a tutu the day after the birth mom said she could be ours!

I want her to know that her birth mom loved her tremendously. She chose to give our baby girl life. She chose to give her up for adoption knowing she wasn’t in position to care well, for a lifetime, for this precious baby. She chose not to receive the unconditional love from a baby, but rather experience the pain of giving up her own flesh and blood.

I also want it to be clear that she is not replacing the child Sarah and I Iost thru our miscarriage in September. She is not a replacement, nor does she have the power to take away our grief. We still mourn over the death of our child and will never forget the life growing inside of Sarah. Our unborn baby will aways be a part of us and helps shape who we are today.

Some may say “See, this baby girl is the reason why you had a miscarriage.” I say “NO” to that! There will never be an acceptable reason for why my baby had to die. Could a parent ever accept a “here-you-go” reason for the death of their child? I can accept that death is part or our world as a result of sin entering into it. I accept that God has and does mourn with Sarah and I over the loss of our unborn baby. And I trust that God can redeem our loss and bring life out of death. That is what Christ did on the cross. Beauty can come out of death is what my faith promises.

Others may think, “We are so happy for you, but I’m sure you’d rather have your baby whom you lost.” Again, I say “NO” to that!  In my heart, and for always, I want them both. They are both my children.  I could never want one over the other. God is big enough to have brought both children into our homes. Stranger things have happened in this world. I am grateful that the Lord will fill our arms with a our little girl before our biological one was due. He is kind and merciful to do that though He did not have to give us our adopted baby girl to prove His mercy and kindness.

I want my baby girl to know that she has never been a second choice. She is loved and wanted simply because she is ours. Her mom and I always planned to adopt with hopes of having biological children. She is part of our first choice and we love her dearly. Her mom and dad have talked of summers at the beach and winters in the Big Apple.

I anticipate another wave of grief the end of April when our biological baby would have been due, even while holding our one-month old baby girl. I anticipate hilarious moments and fond memories of our girl in her tutu while remembering the one we lost. Embracing the ends of both spectrums of emotions simultaneously is the Christian life: living in the fallen world while holding on to faith in the One who gives life.

 To my baby girl who is due in 6 weeks, know that our home is already yours. Diapers are being bought, showers are being planned, and our budget is being refigured. We long for your arrival into the Evers home!

(Note:  Phoebe Irene Evers was born on Tuesday March 13, two weeks early.  She arrived just six weeks after we first heard of her, and we’re thrilled to finally hold her.)