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The sweetest gift… {pregnancy after loss}

This morning I turned 39. Never ever did I expect to be expecting at 39. Never ever did I ever think we would have six children. Yet–this…THIS is the sweet gift of all.

We always dreamed of a big family. But to me, a big family in our culture meant 3 MAYBE 4 kids. But there are some things you just don’t plan when you put them in God’s hands. Even growing by adoption, as planned as that may seem–when you know in your heart and you are walking with Jesus–you just know the next steps for your family no matter how crazy or big or uncertain it may feel.

In August of 2009 we shared here–my first post ever–about the Lord calling us to grow to 4 through adoption. At the time, we thought, “Wow. We are completing our family in such a sweet, unexpected way.” What a journey it was bringing home our Isaac. At 8 months, he weighed less than all my newborns and when we picked him up at 1 year he was just 10 pounds. We were told he may never sit, walk and would certainly have many delays–yet therapy after therapy we saw God’s healing, miraculous hand and this past Fall I stood on the sidelines watching this child jump airborne over and over to stop goals for his soccer team and cheer his teammates on. We were prepared for anything, and received over and over the unexpected—such a sweet gift each milestone and achievement.

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I had no idea what I was missing as I had raised typical kids with the biggest challenge being something like dyslexia and had no idea how sweet the physical milestones would be after years of physical therapy…to find us where we are now.

Then we received an unexpected surprise a few years later that we were expecting. I’ll never forget the day I found out. We were hosting a precious teenager, and I raced to a baby store to buy Richard a gift to surprise him. I found it–a sweet simple frame with a bow with the words “Love at first sight”. I put a little note in it and took it to his office. Our hosted teenager was with me–but not able to speak or read English she just thought that delivery was a simple errand in our day. We set that frame on Richard’s dresser and for weeks I prayed about our sweet baby while focusing on the daily of caring for our 4 children and a precious teenager we were also praying for.

Then in September–I shared our news. Our loss. It was also unexpected…as losses always are–especially for our hearts. Traumatic is the only word that I can describe it best as we chose to try and let nature take it’s course after the heartbeat stopped. But unfortunately I still needed surgery, so it felt so drawn out…both the loss and the grief. I look back and read through some of those posts that follow, and oh my GRACIOUS…to see now what God was doing.

Then I never thought I’d say it–but our loss was a baby…a sweet angel…who led us to our next baby. Just one month after that September 2012 post on our loss–on October 18th we shared we had been matched with a baby boy. We didn’t have a completed home study. We had no plans to adopt again. But as I sat rocking in my chair one night I told Richard I was going to spend the time thinking of my loss praying for children who also had loss. I prayed for children who had lost their parents and I stumbled across a picture of my son–who was waiting on a “Special Focus” list–which meant he had been on a wait-list for so long and also had a special need that was considered immediate–and we didn’t even need a home study to be matched. We only had to complete one and our dossier within 6 months–which we did in just a few;) Seven months later we found ourselves HERE–in the airport returning home…just a couple months after our due date for our little one that I’m quite sure was on the cheering committee helping the process speed up a bit;)

Our loss helped me see loss differently for my boys. I knew how much they had lost…their birth families, their cultures, their birth countries, familiar language, caregivers who had watched over them like mothers in their orphanages…just so much. But I didn’t grasp their loss until I experienced loss too. Their tears at night took on deeper meaning. Instead of wanting to be immediately accepted as mommy and hugged back, I understood they needed time and I’d wait by their bedsides until they were ready to let another mommy love them. When they finally folded into me as mom, I knew healing was happening–and after our loss…it took my breath away in ways I hadn’t experienced in our adoptive parenting before until this personal journey of loss ourselves. I felt we had a different, deeper bond–and this loss…this precious angel that awaits us in heaven…had given us the sweetest gift–to both us and our boys…connecting deeper that I knew possible as I understood their hearts in a way there are no words for.

While I’d give anything in the world to have gotten to hold our baby girl–if asked to rewrite the script–I know that part where she goes to be with Jesus is one of the most beautiful, sacred, ordained parts. If asked to type it out–I’d do it with tears. And it’d be very, very slow and probably erased a few times and then rewritten. Because I know that’s part of His story for us. A part that I see NOW needed to be written. But she will always be longed for and I can’t wait to see Jesus and then race to twirl that little bug around!

God uses loss to write a more beautiful story, but it doesn’t mean He replaces or fills that loss. Some losses can never and will never and should never be filled or replaced. Yet that picture frame…remained. Empty–on Richard’s dresser. There were times I wanted to give it away. But I couldn’t. I felt the Lord had a newborn for us still…maybe adoption–certainly I was getting too old to have another. Good grief…how would one chase 5 kids and have another as she approached 40? More power to the Duggars–but that ain’t happening over here y’all.

I held onto that frame–and decided to keep it and pray that while God doesn’t replace loss–I prayed He would one day bring us a baby’s picture to put in it. That felt like a crazy prayer. Very few knew I was praying for that…and I didn’t expect the feelings and emotions when we found out we were expecting last Fall.

This has truly been one of the most holy, sacred pregnancies. In my 20’s and early 30’s I was very naive. I thought a pregnancy meant you had a baby. Since then, I’ve seen so much. I’ve sat beside more friends who had the holy privilege of holding their babies for a few hours before they sent them to be with Jesus and countless friends like me who had miscarriages.

Pregnancy after loss–and even after adoption–has take on holy ground. For the first trimester, each day was a praise. Each day I expected or thought, “What if today is the day?” This is something every mom goes through in her pregnancy after a loss. Each night when everything still seemed okay, I dropped to my knees and just thanked Him for another day. With every moment of sickness their was rejoicing. And now with flutters–and feeling baby kicks–even more rejoicing. Each day is such a gift–and I’m trying my best to just enjoy each day without worry–knowing that He is the author of our story…of our baby’s story…and He can be trusted no matter what.

I moved that frame on Richard’s bed beside mine…right after I filled it. Nothing had ever been there. Looking back I know He knew. He knew I did buy it for my baby girl…that one…and this one too. I had no idea. I’m thankful I didn’t at the time. And I’m so thankful for the story He has written between then and now. I’m thankful I clung close to Jesus during our loss…and followed His prompting to pray for children who had also experienced loss. I’m thankful how He used that to lead us to our son in China. I’m so thankful how He used our loss to lead us deeper to connecting to the hearts of our boys…and that He gave us several years to do that before writing more to our beautiful story. I’m thankful for the picture that sits in this frame and for that baby girl whose heart is still beating and little feet are kicking on this mom’s 39th birthday today. Truly–this is the sweetest gift.

So while I woke this morning to super heroes shouting…and I made my own birthday breakfast to have those super heroes ask for it. I scooted over in my robe and shared with my boys whose hearts are so tender and dear to me. I got to sit and write and remember His faithfulness and how beautifully He writes our stories today…and reflect on the sweetest gift of how He uses our loss to write beauty from ashes. Our baby in heaven is such a sweet part of our story–just as pivotal and important as the others…and that once grief as turned to the sweetest aroma of joy and future hope–something to really look forward to one day in heaven. I can’t believe the Lord gave me another baby—a picture to put in this frame…and the gift to know each day really is a miracle. Never will I take these gifts for granted…and I sit here today with a full, happy heart…thankful I asked Him to be the author of my story.

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May your days be sweet as you follow Him.

Love,

Andrea

 

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It’s a…

Oh what a sweet day!! And I’m so thankful that 2 of my precious friends helped me pull off sharing with the kids in such a sweet way! I love to have a moment documented–so to have these pictures (and also video) of the kids finding out what we are having…just so sweet!! Tammy came to grab pictures and Angie grabbed the video–and Angie put together the basket full of balloons for our reveal that I could never have pulled off with 5 kids at home, a hubby just getting in from out-of-town this morning and homeschool with kids always right here;). Such a fun morning!!!

Eyes all closed! Even Oreo is waiting patiently to know if it’s another prince and Laney will remain the only princess OR if she will share her role…

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Laney’s face!! PRICELESS JOY!

Oh happy day!!!!

This is me asking my girl if she’s just BESIDE HERSELF!

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If you only knew how badly this girl has wanted a SISTER!!! It can be really confusing or hard when your parents say yes to adoption–and then you think you can say you want a sister. I’ll NEVER forget sitting Laney down to talk with her after we saw her 4th brother’s picture. We had been in the process a year earlier to adopt a little girl from China when we had to put in on hold. In between I had gotten Lyme disease and then after getting well hosted a teenage princess from Ukraine…and Laney was still LONGING for a sister. Then we saw Zeke’s picture after our miscarriage–and we were in love. I’ll never forget showing HER his picture and asking for her blessing in adopting ANOTHER brother. She didn’t hesitate. She wasn’t sad. She just said he was amazing–and we needed to do anything and everything as fast as we could to bring him home.

She would have been happy again with a little brother…but I know in her heart—because she’s confessed…deep down she would love a sister but she’s happy with what God chooses. I’m over the moon that the Lord would give her a little sister and us another little girl. JOY overflowed as we shared what we are having this morning…

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We are so excited to add another princess to our team!!!

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SO thankful and praying for a sweet healthy little girl!!! The Young crew can’t wait to meet our next little princess!!

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With hearts that overflow today!!!

The Young Family!

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Merry Christmas…

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We are SO excited to share that the Young family is growing!!! (I told the boys to give their best Home Alone faces…and I think Zeke pulled that off well! HA!) We have waited to share this news when we were well into the 2nd trimester–and we are thrilled to share the Lord has showered us with blessings beyond our wildest imagination!!! I can’t believe I get to be a mommy to a wee-one AGAIN…and this timing is just beyond perfect!!! Truly God writes THE best stories!!!

We get to find out this week (WEDNESDAY!) whether we will be adding another boy to this crew…or just maybe Laney has a princess sidekick. The children are so excited and have been so prayerful about the health of the baby and can’t wait for May to get here!!

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There are seasons when we wonder if God hears our prayers…and then there are seasons like this–where He is shining down so brightly saying over and over He has heard our hearts and we just need to rest and trust Him for the story that HE wants to write! Oh my. I could have never imagined such a beautiful story. Not easy. But so worth it!!! And now…here I sit seeing His sweet grace and love poured out on our family. We are so thankful this holiday and feel we have received the sweetest gift ever!!!

With full hearts and sweet celebration…we wish you and yours a very sweet holiday together as a family!

Love you all!

Andrea

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And just like THAT…she’s 10! {And a sweet visit!}

Where oh where does time go?! December first is here! Which means…well, 1–it’s the most wonderful time of the year of course!! BUT–it also means my only girl has a birthday. No more SINGLE digits here for my princess as she turns 10!!! Oh my what JOY this little girl has brought into our lives the last 10 years!

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That’s our Laney loo on the left and her friend Elise Bolden on the right! Crazy that these two are STILL friends!

Oh Laney Loo we love you!! She’s our sweet princess…she’s always been so dainty and sweet…and some how stayed that way with FOUR brothers! Love exudes from this child’s heart and her love for Jesus overflows into our home. AND she’s super fun…can’t you tell…

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So thankful how the Lord has grown this girl for the last 10 years…and oh my–I wish I had 10 more years of her in my home but I’m afraid we have less than that as this determined kiddo is always working ahead. Had to include a picture of her with her best friend her cousin Emma…those two are so much like me and my sister…I just love the friendship they share. Happy 10th birthday to my girl…and I can’t wait to celebrate with you next weekend after the crazy of the Nutcracker comes to an end!

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AND…I just have to throw in as always any time we get a Princess Tetiana fix…LOOK who was at our farm this weekend?! She was QUITE the sport (as always!) and was just for taking a picture of Santa. Just in case you wondered…THIS is the real Santa;). Oh my WORD. He told the children the REAL meaning of Christmas–the most precious thing you have ever heard. He said he brings gifts just 1 day a year, but if you look to and follow Jesus you will soon see that He brings gifts EVERY day of the year!!

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Santa has grandchildren adopted from China and Africa…and his prayer over our family was a tear-jerker. I didn’t expect his sharing that way with the kids and oh my–when he asked to pray with them…I melted!

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And then of course it was fun with Tonya’s family—which always means sundaes! How much fun that 3 years later we are now extended family with this amazing family! No holiday is complete without time together!!!

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Then–Richard and the kids pulled out the decorations. Deep down I wanted to decorate;)–but I decided to just let them play with all the decorations for a few hours before I actually moved after all the turkey overload;)

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Okay…okay. So I finally moved and decorated–and I’m glad I did. And we are also really excited to share we will have a 2nd annual Worship Night on the Farm on December 19th!! So mark your calendars and save the date!!! We’d love to have you, your family and friends join us!

So that’s all in between homeschool craziness and momma is also really looking forward to another break;) I told you I’m not a natural homeschooler;) May you have blessed season soaking up the joy of Christmas and time with your family!

Blessings,

Andrea

 

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Created for Care’s First Marriage Retreat!

This past weekend was Created for Care’s FIRST marriage retreat!! We retreated on Berry College’s beautiful campus at the Winshape Retreat center that is mainly used for marriage retreats and intensives. We were thankful to have been led by one of Winshape Marriage’s very own–Matt and Nicole Turvey–who also recently adopted a little princess with special needs from China through Lifeline. Truly it was a sweet weekend–and I’m so thankful for the new friendships among couples that were formed there. How important it is to put our marriages first–ALWAYS…but especially during the demands of a growing family.

Friday night together. Worship. An amazing session. Then walking the grounds…just us.

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Saturday morning started some pretty hilarious group activities where we remained with our spouse but worked with other couples. It was obvious that we’d be using this experience later as team work with your spouse was required 100% of the time. We were split up in teams–and it was really cool to see how some of the teams instantly connected! Team #1…they were something else!

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Now…Team #3 (our team) wasn’t so shabby either;). Our couples worked out communication patiently and consistently to gel their spouse across some pretty crazy ropes course tasks. This top pic in the collage below makes me laugh because we had to get on the log rating ourselves on a scale of 10-0 on our risk taking and adventure when it comes to things like ropes courses. UM–Rico is a 10. I’m a zero;). Some how we work together–or I patiently trust he will come rescue me;)

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Then we learned our group was assigned to the PAMPER POLE. Yes–you might want your Pampers on for this one. You climb to the top of a telephone pole with your spouse—and then you jump 6 feet out to grab a really high trapeze. Only 5% of those who attempt actually grab the trapeze–but oh my gracious–you have no idea how high this really was!!! The real challenge was getting TWO on the pole and trusting the other spouse to help and not hurt the balance of the other. Unfortunately–Rico Suave was forced to do this one solo but trust me…I cheered for him;) Sorry guys–Momma Young couldn’t handle it. BUT…some of the couples in our group totally did…

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We had over 3 hours of CHILL with your spouse free time…and that was just GLORIOUS. When do you go to a retreat and you are forced to just REST. Shouldn’t that be included with all retreats?! Um. YES.

After glorious naps…while some rode bikes, fished or hiked…we had another session followed by an AMAZING time with Stephen and Beth Templeton. Beth has led sessions in the past at Created for Care and it was awesome to hear from a mom of 7 whose children are all grown. What wisdom and truth they poured into our hearts! After dinner together–we had bonfire fun and a weekend with Created for Care is never complete without photo prop fun:)

 

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We ended the weekend at Frost Chapel and a sweet, sweet time of worship and commissioning to just BE beside our spouses…to rest together, worship together, work it out together and grow together. Truly an amazing weekend!!!

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AND…we were even okay that this Auburn girl married to a UGA Georgia boy let our kids go to an Alabama game while we retreated with the most awesome aunt, uncle and Papa in history! They bought them LOTS of gear of their favorite team–and took our older boys to cheer on their team while Nana held down the farm carpooling Nutcracker craziness with the preschooler and kindergartner in tow;)

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Rested UP and ready for the crazy fun of Thanksgiving!! Who would have EVER thought that the weekend RIGHT before Thanksgiving was the best time for a retreat! Oh my…it was perfect timing for us and we are all rested and ready for baking ahead!!! I think I’m so rested that it’s going to take me a bit to convince myself to start decorating for Christmas after Thanksgiving…hahah!! I usually have everything up by now–but not this year!! I’m enjoying each holiday and season and day as it comes…and making life as simple as possible. Farm life I guess is rubbing off on me–and I like it:)

Blessings from our home to yours,

Andrea

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