Finding Peace in the Process {Guest Post}

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I didn’t dream of being a mom. I just assumed I would eventually have kids.

A people-pleasing, first-born child, I was a good student who went to college and never changed my major. I interned and worked as a news reporter – just as my print journalism degree would have me do. I married my college boyfriend and we started our life together. I went through life as I assumed lives were supposed to be lived.

Then one day in December 2004, I realized the birth control pills I was taking regularly were preventing God from having his way with my family. Like every stereotypical young, American couple, we decided we were “ready” to have a baby. My husband Greg was already ready and was just waiting – quite patiently, I might add – for me to want a family.

My time table was a good one. I had the sequence of events figured out and inked on the calendar.  But nothing was going according to plan.

But, really, all that control I was scared to death to give up is like a big pile of lemons. Sometimes it looks pretty, but it’s often sour. Life was giving me lemons, and I struggled to make lemonade.

Nearly two years went by and for various reasons we were still childless. Yes, I cried out to God when friends announced pregnancies: “I told you I was ready!” There they were, sipping on their lemonade while I stared at the pile of lemons I was just making bigger.

The waiting made me weary. The medicine that helped me ovulate made me cranky. The whole season put a strain on my marriage.

I just wanted to have a baby.

That was the next step in life, in my plan.

But it wasn’t the next step in my life as God saw it. It’s a long story, one I tell in my new ebook, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.” But I did eventually become a mom, never expecting adoption to be our story.

But it’s a story I tell over and over again because it’s the one that changed me. It’s the journey on which I learned to do something with those lemons. It’s when I learned how to make lemonade.

Adoption built my faith and gave me a family. And surrendering to God was refreshing, like drinking that lemonade made directly from that large, intrusive pile of lemons.

On my journey to motherhood, I learned what the peace that passes all understanding really means and how God really does work together all things for his good. I have a testimony of God’s faithfulness – something I wouldn’t trade for getting my own way when I thought I knew what was best.

Peace in the Process

Kristin Hill Taylor tells about becoming and being a mom after the hard season of infertility in “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family,” which is available at Amazon. She believes in taking road trips, living in community, and seeking God as the author of every story – many of which she shares at www.kristinhilltaylor.com. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her college sweetheart husband and their two kids.

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On Getting More Sleep – and More Lemonade

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Saturday was Annalyn’s birthday party. I scheduled it for 4:00, so I had plenty of time to get the house cleaned up and decorated without stressing out.

Or so I thought.

Given the chaos of this year I knew I wasn’t up for an elaborate party. My plans were lower than low-key, and all I really had on my list was clean the house, make a cake and put chili in the crock pot. We’d bought the tackiest set of birthday paper goods that Walmart had (in other words, a seven-year-old’s first pick), and my only real decoration was a matching paper banner that came with the plates and napkins.

But despite her regular schedule having fallen pretty well into place over the past month, Adrienne decided that Saturday was the day she’d skip her morning nap. I tried two separate times to put her down and she was having no part of it. And yet, as I lamented to my mom, she also wasn’t filing the stack of paperwork on top of the piano or pushing our newly repaired vacuum cleaner around the house.

Babies.

She did take an afternoon nap and I did manage to get the house presentable and the food prepared, all before four. By the time the party (and the Royals game, because apparently post-season baseball stops for no man or no party) was winding down, my baby girl was beyond tired. She was pulling on her ears and rubbing her eyes and making it known that She Was Done.

So I took her and a warm bottle to the nursery, where she informed me that ain’t nobody got time for milk. I looked at the still-full bottle as I put her in her crib and said, “See you in a few hours, then.”

I knew that she’d be awake and hungry – or at least lonely – at some point in the night. The time when she slept all night was short-lived and this has been a more established part of her routine as the morning nap. So I wasn’t surprised when she began crying around 11:30 . . . when I was attempting to go to bed.

Mark warmed up that rejected bottle from bedtime, but though that normally does the trick and our late-night visits are nice and brief, she stayed worked up. For the next several hours. Since Mark is gone at work every weeknight, he takes night duty on the weekends. But that night’s uncharacteristic refusal to sleep meant he asked my advice a couple times. Which was fine since I can’t really sleep through her crying anyway.

Are you surprised to hear that Sunday morning was rough? Yeah. Especially after Annalyn decided to get up 45 minutes EARLY. Still, I knew – just knew! – if I could make it through church and lunch, the paradise that is Sunday afternoon naptime would be waiting for me.

Except not.

Because I made it through church. And lunch. And then put both of the girls in their beds. Adrienne hadn’t napped at church and she was still short several hours from the night before, so I just knew – just knew! – that she’d take a good, long nap.

Nope.

She cried for half an hour, then slept for about 45 minutes. Now we’re sitting in the semi-dark living room watching the Disney Channel. Semi-dark because my head is pounding and we’re out of ibuprofen.

Sigh.

All I can think about is that saying, “Sleep begets sleep.” Obviously. Well, by obviously I mean that the opposite is clearly true. Because LACK OF SLEEP is begetting a whole heck of a lack of sleep over here.

I think the same is true about a positive outlook.

Sometimes – like on a Sunday afternoon when I JUST WANT A NAP – the last thing I want to do is look on the bright side of things. I want to complain and gripe and wallow and whine. I want to blame and yell and point and pout. But if I can summon up the tiniest bit of hope, just a glimmer of something that feels a bit like joy, it gets the ball rolling. You know?

It doesn’t always work, I know. Some days are more than sleep deprivation or stubbed toes or parking tickets. Sometimes you can’t dig deep enough to find that glimmer. I get that. But sometimes . . . sometimes it just takes one nice word, one laugh at a dumb joke, one smile.

And then just like babies and their sleep, hope begets hope. Joy begets joy. Lemonade? You got it – more lemonade.

So as we start this week, perhaps a little tired or even grouchy because Mondays never cooperate, I wish you a little bit of lemonade, a little bit of hope. Enough to get the ball rolling the right direction, enough to beget enough lemonade for the week.

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Rejoice!

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This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Have a great day, friends!

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Seasons, Phases & Orange Lemonade

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It was December, and I was in the car. One more Christmas song came on the radio, this one with a choir singing backup. And that’s when it happened. I couldn’t breathe and my chest physically hurt. Before I could even figure out what on earth was wrong, tears were leaking out of my eyes.

Don’t worry. I wasn’t having a heart attack. I was just sad.

Since we moved to our church, I’ve gotten used to an all praise band, all the time kind of worship. I’ve learned where to sit (out of the speakers’ direct line) so I don’t act like an old woman, complaining about kids these days and their loud music and, while I’m at it, get off my lawn. And many weeks, I am so moved (or impressed, or both) by our music that I find myself thinking about it all week long.

But sometimes I really miss the church choir.

At our old church, I sang in the choir – and I LOVED IT. It was a really important part of my life, and I treasured those weekly rehearsals and Sunday morning services. I knew when we made the tough decision to leave our church that we probably wouldn’t end up somewhere with a choir, and I knew that meant I might never sing in a choir again. I thought I was okay with that.

And I was. Until Christmas. And then again near Easter. You know – the big choir holidays? Yes, it’s true that those extra rehearsals and the singing through the allergies (WHY do the big church-singing holidays fall in the middle of prime getting-sick times of the year?) and singing the same songs for half a dozen services felt like kind of a pain. But really, those things were gifts – and when the holiday seasons roll around, I miss them a lot.

However, if I hadn’t let go of the church music part of my life, I never would have had room for student ministry. I wouldn’t have had time, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to even be interested. But because I had that gap in my life, when I heard my friends discussing their need for an adult to work with the students helping out in the children’s worship services, I thought it might be a good way to still be somewhat involved in our church’s music.

That’s how I got started working with middle school students. It has very little to do with music and a lot to do with an incredible bunch of kids I never imagined serving and leading. And as you know – since I’ve talked about it a lot – this ministry has turned into a super important part of my life.

Talk about lemon into lemonades, right?!

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One of the biggest things I’ve been learning lately is that our lives are made of seasons. I’m learning that many parts of our lives don’t last forever and – here’s the kicker – that’s okay. Where we work, where we live, where we serve or lead, who we spend time with – all of these parts of our lives maybe have been placed in our paths and on our hearts for just a time, and it’s okay to let them go when they’re over.

That’s what we had to come to grips with when we decided to leave our church, and that’s what I have to remind my heart (and my lungs) every Christmas and Easter when I find myself missing the choir again. It’s what I say out loud when I see a friend post pictures of her kids on Facebook and realize they wouldn’t even recognize me if we ran into each other at the store; that’s how long it’s been since we were close.

It was a season, and it’s okay.

It’s what we say so often about kids and parenting, too. We talk about how hard things are, for whatever reason, and then we reassure ourselves and each other with this reminder: It’s just a phase.

As a matter of fact, I wrote about that this week at (in)courage – about how I’m finally beginning to see a tiny pinpoint of light and think the chaos of having a newborn might eventually come to a close. And I’ve been saying for a good month now that I’m hoping Annalyn’s birthday would mean the end of a particularly challenging phase for her.

But is it possible that those reassurances and the hope we find in looking past this stage and into the next might also rob us of the joy in today? (I touched on that in my (in)courage post, too.)

The curriculum my church uses in our children’s and student ministries is called Orange. I’ve talked about Orange before, and you know I love its focus on a partnership between parents and the church. Knowing how God has spoken to me and worked in my heart at both Orange conferences I’ve attended, it’s no surprise to me that this idea of seasons and stages that’s been simmering inside me lately is the very theme of next year’s Orange Conference.

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The theme of Orange Conference 2015 is, “It’s Just a Phase – So Don’t Miss It!” What a switch! Instead of desperately holding on until our kids finally make it through a stage, why not learn a little more about what’s happening in that oh-so-challenging season and make the most of it?! Of course, if I know Orange, I imagine there will be lots of encouragement and advice for the tough parts of various stages, as they inspire us to really be present in our seasons.

Registration for Orange Conference 2015 is open now. If you’re part of a children’s or student ministry, I recommend this conference so highly. I love it, and I can’t wait to go next year (April 29 – May 1 in Atlanta). You can register here – and if you do it TODAY, you’ll get $80 off your registration.

In a couple weeks I’m taking a day off to attend a one-day workshop with Orange right here in Kansas City. The weekend before that I’ll be spending my Sunday afternoon with a bunch of middle schoolers, painting pumpkins and playing foosball. This Sunday I’m organizing the welcome table for our Family Fun Fest, and every week I get up early, pack up the girls and head to church before first service so I can double-check our sound equipment and pray with my student leaders.

If I was involved in my church’s music ministry, I wouldn’t have time for all that. And I might not know what I was missing. But now that I’m on this side of the seasons changing, I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to serve in this way – even if it means I no longer serve in that other way.

(Just don’t be surprised to see me crying during the Christmas Eve service.)

What season or phase are you in today?

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Overflowing with Hope

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

What fills you with joy, peace and hope?

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This post is part of my 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.