Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Magic Brush has MOVED!!

Oh friends! There are just so many new, exciting things happening at The Magic Brush.  First of all,  my blog and my website have merged into ONE location that you can access by clicking here.  Same great painting.  Same great projects.  Just in a different location.

When you go to my  new site,  look for the bright, turquoise box in the upper right hand corner to enter your email address. You will be emailed my free video on selecting the perfect paint colors for your home. And, you will continue to get new videos and new blog posts automatically emailed to you.

Keep your eyes out for the "Resource" section on my new blog which has videos for purchase including topics such as:
  • How to start your own decortive painting business
  • How to market your faux painting business
  • Staining garage doors to look like wood
  • Taking oak cabinets to walnut stain 
And that is just the beginning!

Also, if you are not following me on The Magic Brush Facebook page....please click here to join the 16,000 plus other cool people who are. Ha!  My fans rock.

You can find me on Twitter by searching for Jennifer Allwood or my Twitter handle (gosh I feel so techie) is @magicbrushgirl.

On Instagram, I am The Magic Brush.
On Pinterest, I am Jennifer Allwood.

Whew....that is alot of social media people.  But I am having a blast helping people make the world pretty, one project at a time.
Hope to see you over here very soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our adoption journey: The day God didn't show up

 (picture from 2 years ago)

As many of you know, my husband and I began the process of trying to adopt another girl for our family almost 3 years ago.  We could have had another biological child, but adoption has always been on our heart.

We started out going the traditional route of trying to adopt a newborn from a private agency.  After about a year of that, we decided we really wanted a toddler more than a baby. We’ve done sleepless nights 3 times already.  And….we ARE getting older. So, we decided to get our license to adopt from the foster care system in the states. We thought once we got that license that suuuuuuurely, we would quickly get a little girl, because A) isn’t the system overflowing with kids???  and B) as believers, surely the Lord would work quickly on our behalf.

Oh how naive we were.

We have put our home study in for 2 toddler girls but we were not selected for either.  And we were asked to adopt a sibling set, but the dynamics just didn’t seem a good fit for our family and if you remember this post…I needed to honor my husband’s wisdom and position in our family.  And even though that stunk, he was right.

And so here we are.  Almost a year after getting our license, almost 3 years after starting our journey….and still no 4th kiddo.  We had always said when our 3rd bio child started kindergarten that we would put a hault to our efforts.  Because we seriously never dreamed it would take 3 years.   And oh by the way, God loves it when we give Him deadlines, right?   Lol.

So, our baby started kindergarten almost 2 weeks ago.

And I feel….embarrassed. Maybe we heard God wrong.

Conflicted.  I don’t want to be jaded by our domestic social system, but what the heck? 

Disappointed.   At the end of the day, all confliction and embarrassment aside, our family just wants another child.

And so we are left with the dilemma of where to go from here.  We could obviously adopt internationally, but we really felt called to adopting domestically.

What is a family to do?

I had reminded God of the calendar so many times this summer.

I reminded Him of our self imposed “deadline”.

In the event He didn't already know, I told him how amazing He would look if He “showed up BIG the day BEFORE she began kindergarten”.    

I reminded Him that He would get all the glory and look like a superstar.

But, the day came and went with no phone call from our social worker.

There was no parting of the Red Sea or “sun stand still” moment.

Ava’s school week started…..and we heard silence.

The deafening, painful silence of the day God didn’t show up.  That was our drop dead date.  We were to be done. Finished with adoption.  Getting on with our life.

And the day came and went quietly.

I know that I know that I know that my God is good.  I know He will never leave us nor forsake us.  I know He will show up when He is darned good and ready to show up.

Or....... He won’t.

And either way, as painful as it is…….He doesn't owe me any explanation.  Even when I feel like I owe everyone ELSE an explanation, He doesn't have to tell us why.

And my heart is to still make God look so big and so amazing and so GOOD to my other 3 kids.  Inside I wanna cry, “come on God….could you throw us a bone here?  My babies are watching this play out!!!!”

How do I adequately explain to my kids that God hears our prayers.  And He always answers.  Sometimes its a yes. Sometimes He says no.  And sometimes, He says not yet. 

Yes, I know this could be for their protection.

know they can see faith at work through this.

know they can watch us and learn how to handle disappointment.


But none of that makes us feel any better.  Or process this journey any quicker.  Or grieve that a dream is dwindling any less.

And so as I sit here in this Starbucks today doing the ugly cry, I can tell you we haven’t turned in our license.  We haven’t completely given up hope.  We haven’t thrown in the towel just yet.  We will work on God's calendar.

But I am pleading on the inside.  Lord either make this happen or please shut this door. We will continue down this journey until He does one or the other.

And in the meantime, I would like to say I GET God’s timing.  I understand the scripture and biblical importance and significance of God’s timing which is sooooooo good and always better than ours.

My head gets it.
I nod in agreement when people keep reminding me.  But I wanna spit nails on the inside.  Cuz’ it doesn't make it FEEL any better.

So, if you have someone in your world waiting on a child…..I’d like to encourage you to encourage them.

Let them know you will believe in their dream too until it comes to fruition.

Tell them you are sorry.

Ask them how the progress of their journey is….even if you are uncomfortable with asking.  Cuz' asking means you remember.  Remembering means you care.  And caring means you aren't afraid of the emotion that may come with the answer.

And just cry WITH them.

Pray for them.

And pray for us.

Because that sliver of faith that YOU have in OUR journey is some days enough to sustain MY faith.

So thank you for letting me bare my heart.  And get my ugly cry out.  I want you to know the ugly cry isn’t very often.  I’m not in a deep mourning over our adoption.  Most days I go about my day with complete normalcy. 

But there isn't a day that goes by that I don’t wonder where our girl is?  And why can’t we find her?  This feels so lonely.  And sooooooo emotionally vulnerable.  It’s like getting picked last for the playground games….for 3 years straight.  And trying to convince people you were meant to play the game.  All while trying to keep a faithful face in front of our other kids. 

I know our journey is not for nothing. 

I know my God has a plan.

And either way, we win cuz' I believe it's His VERY best for us.

But until then, just cry with us, will you?

(PS...if you are aware of any healthy girl, age 2-6, of any nationality, in foster care who may become adoptable, please let us know. xoxo)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My baby goes to kindergarden. Another season of life.

My youngest child is starting kindergarten tomorrow.

I thought I was fine with it.

I have been telling friends that I have even felt guilty about how much I have been looking forward to it. for the last several months.

I've said my girl is ready.  I've said I am ready.  I've been a part time working mom for a long time!

11 and a half years ago when we had our first child, we made a deliberate decision for me to stay home with them as much as possible. That has been such a challenge over the years as my painting business has expanded and grown and expanded and grown to the point where I now have 4 women working for me.  I have continued to get busier and busier especially in the last several years and oh by the way .... we have continued to have more children. So I have been home with kiddos for over a decade.

We have many, many decisions supporting our desire for me to be at home.  I've foregone painting classes and lunches with friends and trips out of town and jobs out of town.  And all of them GRATEFULLY.  I am not complaining about it.  My heart has always known that if I mess up my role as "wife" or "mom", none of the painting stuff would ever matter. 

I am so blessed that my job has allowed me to be at every field trip, every holiday party, every parent teacher conference, every late start or early release.  I am so grateful that my kids have had minimal childcare, most of which was at a PDO program at a local church. I will forever be thankful for the flexibility that owning my own business has provided for our family.

On the flip side of that however, it has been very difficult to run a business effectively when my main priority is my 3 little ones. For 11 and a half years,  I have had a child at home with me. They have gone to the paint store with me. They have gone to painting consultations with me. They have painted in my studio with me while I do sample boards. They have watched a movie while I painted a piece of furniture. I have changed diapers while discussing new techniques on the phone with designers.  I have at times had to lock myself in a bathroom or in the garage to discuss a huge job in quiet without "Dora The Explorer" blaring in the background or two of my kids going to blows over who ate the last fruit snack.

Y'all......I have locked myself in the pantry of a new construction project where there were many construction workers around (male mind you!!!) use my breast pump and then promptly go back to work and make it home before my baby's next feeding.

I have been a master juggler.

I have learned how to bust my butt every day on my job sites so that I can come skidding into preschool on 2 wheels because I just packed 2 days of work into 5 hours. 

I have become proficient in multi tasking.

I have become accustomed to running my business with my children in tow.

Now, for the first time in 11 and a half years,  I will have the opportunity to work all day every day if I want. I have been so secretly excited for this new freedom to commence. All summer long, I have been looking forward to the first day of school when I can begin to concentrate 100 percent on my business..... ALL DAY during the day.... without distractions.  

Or,  I can finalllllllly stay in bed all day if I am sick.

Or, I can finally go to lunch alone with a girlfriend if I want to.  And it won't have to be a place with a kid's menu and a play area.

I can go to Target WITHOUT having to go down the Lego isle.

Finally....some time again to myself.

I thought I was ready for it.

So,  I was STUNNED this morning when I became a blubbering, snotting-all-over-myself, crying mess! I was totally unprepared for this title wave of emotions that has continued to hit me today.

Instead of looking forward to my new freedom tomorrow, I feel like I am literally, intensely grieving the loss of a season of my life that I adored. 

And my multi tasking, plate-spinning self  hadn't prepared for that.

Wish me luck tomorrow friends.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The makings of a GALLERY WALL

I recently had a photographer to my home to take pictures of my faux finished walls for an article in our local Kansas City Star magazine. While I had so much fun and it was incredibly flattering, when my hubby showed me some pictures he took of the photo shoot.....I was MORTIFIED by:   a) how old our sofa looks (we have since replaced it) and b) how boring our focal wall is (and we are not boring).

So I begged my favorite designer friend Deb of Metropolitan Designs in KC to come help me create a gallery wall.

She suggested we try to keep everything on the wall as neutral and close to the wall color as possible.

And she wanted to fill the wall corner to corner and all the way to the ceiling.

At first I wondered if it was too much?

Then I remembered we are talking about ME. So told her to carry on.....

To watch someone work in their element is fascinating.  She just had me pile all of the stuff I gathered from other rooms in my house into a pile....and she began to build out from the family picture.

Yes....I had all of this in my home. We just stole from Peter to give to Paul.

She was amazing as usual.

No measuring.

No thinking it through.

No analyzing the wall to death.

On occasion she would ask my opinion, but it just went together so easy.

On this side of the wall I have some of my favorite things. A framed pic of my mom and her puppy when she was just a toddler.  A copy of one of the last envelopes my grandmother every mailed to us before she passed away.  A bible scripture on "sons".  A cabinet door that has a great crystal knob that I found at a salvage store. A pair of angel wings that one of my clients was throwing in the trash.

On the other side of the room is a black and white football tray that I stole from one son's bedroom. Another salvaged cabinet door with crystal knobs. An "A" to distract from the cold air return vent.  A bible scripture on the keys to Heaven.  A picture from my little brother's wedding.

When it was all said and done....I was in LOVE LOVE LOVE with my gallery wall.  I wish I hadn't waited so long to do it!!!!

It's just a good representation of who our family and our home is.  A lot of mess. A lot of clutter. Sentimental.  Thrown together.  Somehow it gels. Somehow it works.  Makes me happy every time I look at it.

Now....can I get a redo on the newspaper article picture???

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adoption Update: The kids we just said "no" to....

I got what could have been “the call” last week.  I have heard other adoptive families talk about “the call” so fondly and my heart has longed to be able to type those words.

It was a normal day.  I sat down to my computer to check emails.  I receive emails daily from “The Loop” as it’s called in Kansas City.  It’s a mass email list to all foster and foster-to-adopt parents in the Kansas City area.  95% of the emails are looking for foster parents to accept placements of kids. The remainder are for adoptions.   

The emails are depressing.  They break my heart to read.  Kids upon kids upon kids in horrible situations whom need a safe place to live.  Sibling groups of 6, 7, 8 kids…..abused, neglected, needing treatment, needing therapy…needing what my family feels we can’t give them.  They need a temporary safe place.  We feel like we have been called to offer a permanent safe place.  Judge us all you want.  Unless God changes our hearts....that's the path we are on. 

Somedays I just can’t even read The Loop emails through.

That morning, I saw an email that caught my eye.  A sibling group of a 5 year old girl and a 1 year old boy.  I recognized the little info the email gave us.  I’ve been blessed to talk to the kid’s current foster mom in the last month or so.  The foster mom was wanting the kids to be moved into a home that will serve as their last placement.  They are not currently “adoptable”…..but  the bio mom’s right are going to be terminated….so they will be very soon.

My husband and I had expressed interest in these kids last month….but had been told because we have our foster/adoption license thru the state of Missouri and these kids under a private agency, that we couldn’t get them.  I didn’t even know that when kids are in foster care they could be in anything OTHER than state care.... did you????  So, they said to get these kids, we would have to redo our home study and take a few additional training classes to be sure our training was "up to their standards". 

To which I politely told them..... to fly a kiteWe’ve done 2 homestudies in the last 2.5 years.  I am notttttttt doing another one.  The End.  If you've done a home study, you get it.

So, we assumed this was a closed door.  And went about our way.

Then The Loop email comes thru.

Suddenly, these kids who we thought were off limits to us because of where we got our license.... came up again?

So I responded to the social worker.

This was last Wednesday. She said they wanted the kids moved into a new home by the weekend.  Do you have any idea how terryifying that is to hear????? Days to prepare.  Just days.  Yikes.

So while my hard working husband is at work and has nooooooo idea of what’s going on here at the homestead,   I proceed into “mom mode”.  I hear of kids that need home.  I am mom who wants to give kids a home.  I just couldn’t help myself. I got all the info I thought we needed.

Do they have clothes to come with them?
Are they in therapy?
Do they sleep thru the night?
What other appointments do they have?
We have a vacation in September, how  would we handle that?
How do they deal with abandonment issues?
Any dads in the picture?

Any bio family in the picture?
And on and on and on cuz’ after almost 3 years, my momma heart heard “”

Then......after gathering info, trying not to puke, feeling crazy nervous.... I called my husband….who just wasn’t quite on board with my excitement.
It was a total buzz kill if I am being honest.
His questions were completely different:
Do we have time for speech appointments and therapy every week?

Can we handle a barely-one year old again?

Are we prepared to go back to diapers and a stroller?
Do you realize we will be 60 when this boy graduates from high school?

Do you know it will be 4 more years before you can go back to work?
And on and on.
The little girl has a speech delay that requires appointments and patience and time.  She needs someone who can really work with her and teach her and give her attention.  And the little boy is just barely one.
And then came the kicker.
His other concern was that he and our bio kids would get even less of me than they do now because these kiddos will just require so much more time than just one "under the age of 5 girl" that we were searching for.
I knew it in my gut.
I would either have to convince my husband of otherwise. 
Or I would have to manipulate him.
Or I would have to beg him.
None of which is my nature.

Now before you go thinking my husband is needy or selfish or any of that....I will tell you that he is none of those things.  He is the most generous, selfless man I know. But what he also brutally honest.  He will call a spade a spade.  He will call "too much"..."too much".

And he thinks these kids would have been too much for our family.

Let me tell you what "too much" can look like.  "Too much" can look like resentment from your other kids.  "Too much" can look like bitterness from your spouse.  "Too much" can be breakdowns for momma bears who have big, big hearts..... but who just aren't equipped for said kiddos.
The Lord reminded me that my first, my very first responsibility…..over our kids….over any kids… to the man I married.  The man I said yes to for life.  And he wasn’t being selfish.  He wasn’t being pessimistic.  He was just being honest.  And  the truth is....he needs me too.  If I fail at wife….I will be doing my kids a huge disservice.....all of our kids.
I remember when we were looking for houses 10 years ago before we bought the one we are currently in.  We each had our laundry list of things we wanted.  One of my husband's  requirements was a 3 car garage. His reasoning was that the kids have so much stuff and I have so much paint stuff (go figure).
But we found a few houses that were 2 car garages that were absolutely perfect otherwise.  I tried to convince him that we could survive with a 2 car garage.  But he was adamant.... We were waiting for a 3 car garage.  I probably pouted because I didn’t understand authority and headship and submission like I do now.  But I gave in to his stance and now I am sooooooooo glad that I listened to him.  He knew what was best for our family even if my decorating-self had already fallen in love with a house that just wasn’t a good fit for us. God gives the men different eyes with which to see. Had we bought those houses, we would have missed out on the perfect one that we did end up agreeing on.  We would have settled for 2nd best.

I trust that the situation with these kiddos is the same thing.

And if I am being totally honest, I think one of the reasons I wanted to say yes to these kids so much was just to have the wait be overThis was the closest we have gotten to be “chosen” . To being “selected”. To getting “the call”.  I could see the end in sight.  I could see our family complete. I could see an end to these dreadful blog posts about how we are still marching on when on the inside I
When we started this process almost 3 years ago, we gave the adoption process until our youngest starts kindergarten.  Then we agreed to give it up and embrace the next season of life.
She starts kindergarten in 7 weeks y’all.
And the situation last week looked like God coming thru at the 12th hour.
I have begged God to open a door for us. And one opened. It just didn't feel  like the right door.
And so we said no.

Please continue to pray for us for this journey that has been way longer and way more emotional that we ever would have thought.

You bless me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tennis anyone? My tennis racket mirror creation

This craft could quite possibly be the hardest I have ever had to photograph!!!!  It's an antique tennis racket with a mirror in the middle to hang on a little girl's bedroom wall.

Gluing a mirror to tennis strings is quite possibly the most challenging gluing situation I have ever run into. 

Gluing this thing involved Pyrex bowls at the perfect weight, Tupperware at the perfect height and several other household items like a leather punch, my daughter's Hello Kitty bowl and an old bath towel. All just to position it perfectly for gluing!


Jeesh! Who knew adhering a mirror to tennis strings would be so challenging??

I felt like MacGwyver by the time it was over!

Hobby Lobby clearanced their paper flowers.

And I am addicted to Hobby Lobby.

Therefore, I am addicted to Hobby Lobby clearance.

So the paper flower addition seemed perfect to finish off my mirror!

And I sold one the first day it was for sale at the Red Apron! Super happy about that!

Happy tennis y'all

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The furniture piece that fell from the sky

Check out the buffet we just painted and sold!!!  It was a totally fun piece to paint because of the piece's "story".

A few weeks ago, I was driving down a country road to a client's house and saw this on the side of the road:

It was laying in the snow.  So, I drove by reeeeeeeeeeeeal slow (you know the drive).  And decided if it was still there when I drove by again....I would check it out.

Well, 5-6 hours later it was still there! So one of the girls who works for me and I about killed ourselves loading this heavy thing.  It was in great shape and the glass wasn't even broken.  Almost like it fell from Heaven itself!!!!

We brought the piece home and began the process of giving it new life.

First, we stained the top and bottom a dark walnut stain.

Then we painted it an orangish red that I love.  It's a color from Faux Effect's called "Leather Red".

And then we stained over it with Dark Walnut Gel Stain.

And topcoated it. Viola!

Here is a picture in all of it's stages.

And now it's already at a new home.

Saved from the snow.

Saved from homelessness.

Isn't that fun?

Linking to Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Friday. Click here!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pillow cover giveaway from FeatherHen

12 x 16 Be Nice or Go Home  Lumbar  Pillow Cover

Feather Hen is generously offering another giveaway of 2 pillow covers to one lucky winner!!!! Perfect timing for new summer decor and Mother's Day which is rapidly coming up!

Check out some of their covers that are MY favorites:

Girls personalized name pillow cover pink and greyCustom, wedding, anniversary, personalized with date pillow coverPersonalized, custom wedding pillow cover with Anniversary Date - I thee wed16 x 16  bold floral pillow cover18 x 18 yellow, ivory and chocolate brown nature print pillow cover18  x 18  navy blue and white chevron pillow coverLast name typewriter pillow cover with dateAmpersand monogram dated pillow cover

I am TOTALLY getting the cover that reads "BE NICE OR GO HOME". Yea!!!!! I love it!

As with any giveaway, there are several things you can do to have a chance to win.

  1. First ..... visit the Feather Hen Etsy shop and come back here to comment which pillow cover you like best.
  2. You can enter a 2nd time if you share this post on your Facebook page and let me know back here in a comment.
  3. Comment a 3rd time if you go over to the Feather Hen on Facebook and "like" them.
  4. You can enter a 4th time if you become a new blog follower of The Magic Brush (click "follow" in the sidebar or sign up to have an email autosent to you every time I blog).
  5. And finally.........if you PIN a pillow pic from this post onto your Pinterest get another chance to win!
Girls....that's alot (5) of entries to win!

The drawing will be open from now until Friday at noon. I'll draw one lucky winner using You MUST have a US shipping address to win!
Also, if you do not win the 2 covers, you may place an order with Feather Hen's Etsy shop and use the code "magicbrush" to get free shipping in the USA!!! Awesome!
Happy shopping and thank you Heather!  You know I am a huge fan of your covers!!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

For the Mommas who are trying to run a business....I know you.

First and foremost, this is a blog post to encourage mothers......all mothers.  Working mothers. Stay at home mothers. Part time working mothers.  Let's build each other up ladies.  There is just no time for judgement and criticism from other moms whose journeys are different than ours.  Aren't we all trying to do the very best we can? Grace, grace, grace....

So with that being said......

Right after I started my painting business 12 years ago, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I continued to paint every day until I was about 6 or 7 months pregnant and then begged my sister in law to come help me before my belly exploded or I got of the two. That sister in law has been painting for me now for almost 12 years. I am blessed beyond measure for her loyalty!

In the beginning, I painted with her a few hours every week. But, then we got busier and busier and I just kept getting pregnant. So, I have hired more women over the years and currently have 3 women who paint for me every day.

Because I have almost always had people working for/with me, I have.... at no planning or doing of my own.... been able to set up my business in such a way that I would do all of the appointments, all of the samples, all of the bids, order the supplies, deliver the supplies and ladders, deal with the customers and the girls would be the ones at our job sites all day every day.....  painting their little hearts out.

It's been the American dream and yet it's been emotionally depleting all at the same time. The pressure of being a business owner in today's world means you have to be up on trends and up on marketing and up on taxes and up on insurance and up on new products. And it's OVERWHELMING. It.just.never.ends. 

It has been REALLLLLLY important to me to have my kids home with me as much as we can until they go to elementary school.  We have made many sacrifices to keep our kids out of childcare.   By the grace of God, we have only had to put each of our kids in a Mom's Day Out for no more than 12-15 hours a week. They have been with me the rest of the time. 

People always ask do you do that??   Well, the first year of each of their little lives, the kids would just go to job sites and appointments and paint stores with me. They were still little enough to be contained in their car seats, so it was never an issue. After they were mobile and talking, we began each of our kids in the Mom's Day Out program at a nearby church.

Eventually each of our kids went to preschool for 12-15 hours a week.  But the rest of the time, they were home with me.....and often...."home with me" means...  home with mom and mom is working.

There have been few things I have found as challenging as running a business while trying to be a good mom. A "present" mom. An attentive mom. An involved mom.  My heart is first and foremost..... fiercely committed to my husband and children.  And yet, God has given me a talent, a way to make income and a passion for painting.  In a perfect world, money would grow on trees and I would paint for free for the people I love. But until that day comes, I will have to work just a little.

I had no business plan by which to set up The Magic Brush. I have just day-by-day, for 12 years, juggled the hats of "mommy" and "business owner".  And somehow, God keeps blessing it.

I KNOW in my knower there are more business owning moms like me out there.  And I am writing this for someone in particular today.  I don't know who she is...but I hope it blesses her.

So......To the mom who is emailing and faxing and returning phone calls right up to the very last second until the school bus pulls down the street to a stop..... I know you.  I have been there.

To the mom who is reading devotions and stories to her babies before bedtime tonight and dreading the pile of paperwork she has sitting on her desk that still needs addressed before bed…..I know you. I have been there.
To the mom sending that fax as she plays a matching game with her toddler on her office floor... I know you.  I have been there.
To the mom ducking out of her son’s field trip for 2 minutes to take a quick call from a client and hoping your son doesn't see it….I know you.  I have been there.
To the mom who gets up early to get a “head start” before the kids get up and who was already up way too late working the night before..... I know you.  I have been there.
To the mom who has a stomach ache when she asks her client if its ok for her kiddo to come along to a consultation….I know you. I have been there.
To the mom who has been present for of her kid's field trips and school parties, but has found herself working on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving evening and days the "rest of the world seems to be off".....I know you. I have been there.

To the mom who clears her work calendar and prays her clients understand whenever there is a sick kiddo at home.... I know you. I have been there.

To the mom who knows that when people hear she is working from home they assume she is napping and watching daytime tv and working on Pinterest projects. Ha! I know better.  I know you and I have been there.

To the mom whose friends tell her to stop working so much, turn off the computer after dinner at night, quit taking phone calls.....I understand that if you do that, you will be even further behind tomorrow. I see you nodding your head in agreement to those people and yet deep inside you are knowing that you  I know you and I have been there.

To the mom who wonders if her kids will ever appreciate the career sacrifices she has made in order to put the priority on raising her babies….I know you. I have been there.
To the mom who is cooking dinner, quizzing her grade schooler on spelling words and texting work instructions to her employees for the next day all at the same time….I know you. I have been there.

To the mom who makes sure she is home every day to get the kids on the bus and to get the kids off the bus.....I know your workday rushes by. You are trying to get done in 6 hours what most people do in 9 hours. I know you don't stop for lunch. I know you find yourself running and running and running out of control.  I know you.....I have been there.

To the mom who is so used to multitasking that she can no longer watch a movie without knitting or sorting pictures or painting her nails…..I know you. I have been there.

To the mom who feels like she will seriously loose it if….I know you.  I have been there.
To the mom who looks at her 9-5 friends and is envious of their PDO’s but wouldn’t trade her business for a desk job for anything in the world.  I know you. I have been there.

To the mom who asks her hubby to come home early to cover the kids while she meets with a client….I know you. I have been there.
To the mom who lets her kids play in her paint supplies just so she feel less guilty about needing to work on samples for a client.....  I know you.  I have been there.

To the momma who can't believe her toddler just fell asleep in the backseat with only one more work errand to run.....I know you. I have been there.
To the mom who asks her kids to go to the paint store with her and dulls the complaints by a promise to get them a Sonic Slushee….I know you.  I have been there.

To the mom who looks at  her full-time working mother friends and a part of her wishes she could devote more of her time to her dreams. Yet ,she knows those dreams will have to wait a bit longer.....  I know you. I have been there.
To the mom who looks at her stay at home mom friends and would give her left leg to be in their shoes, but yet needs to make some money for the family…..I know you. I have been there.
To the mom who wonders if anyone understands the pressure she is under because the reality is we probably weren't designed to effectively run a home and a run business at the same time anyway?????  Yes dear momma....I know you.  I have been there. 
We are a breed of our own.  Trying to work.  Trying to raise our babies.  Trying to be the best at both and feeling like we are cheating, failing, giving less than 100% to either one at either given time.  I know you. I have lived here for almost 12 years.

And now finally….my last baby is enrolled in fall kindergarten and I wonder if I played enough?  Went to the park enough? Read books enough? Studied nature enough? Found treasures on the walking trail enough? Arranged play dates enough? Did I short change her?  Did I cheat her out of the best of me while I worked and raised her at the same time????
Surely, I could have put away that bid. I could have delayed that sample board. I could have silenced that client call.  And yet I didn't.  Because when you are self employed you understand that if you don't don't eat.  It's that simple.  And most people just can't relate to that....and that's ok. 

But I get it business-owner momma.   I am still living it.   And I applaud you!

I am just so, so grateful that I have been allowed to work in an industry that I love and be at home with my kiddos the majority of the time.
Even if they have watched Dora a little too much.
Even if they have the Ipad mastered at way too young of an age.
In my heart of hearts, I believe the Lord has seen me trying to juggle it all. And He sees you too.  And He sees the desires of each of our Momma hearts.  And He sees the sacrifices and the hair that has gone unwashed for 3 days and the "driving like a maniac to pull in so we are waiting at the door when my babies get off the bus each day".      

He sees our conflictions and our convictions and our feeble attempts to make it all work. And He honors that.  I believe it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

And the lightening up of the color palette begins...

I love dark colors.

I love deep, rich, wrap-yourself-up-with-a-blanket-in-front-of-the-fire colors.

I love dark woods and heavy textures and over sized everything.

At least I did.

It's allllllll driving me crazy right now.

I want to literally gut my house and start over.

Maybe it's spring fever???

Or maybe it's the change in the color cycle....its always changing, always shifting... always messing up my decor!

I have decided to make a few light changes around the house.  But, to lighten up my entire house right now would take a chisel and a decade of years and wayyyyyyy more time and energy and money than this girl has.

So, I have started with small changes.

I added some light pillows to the sofas and our bed this winter.

I just got rid of this huge, oversized coffee table in the midde of my family room.

I am in the middle of changing my firplace color AGAIN for the 4th time in 9 years.  Out with the dark metallic bronze and in with this creamy glaze.

I am selling my heavy red curtains.

I just switched out my dark, heavy bed comforter for a lighter, softer one with a touch of last year's color of the year (coral) in it. 


At this rate....I will have my house lightened up at about the time that dark, deep, rich colors come back in! HA! 

Perhaps it's a conspiracy from the decorating world???   Just when I got my house all's time to redo it.

So, are you lightening up yet???????????


(PS.....thank you all for your kind words regarding my last post on our adoption process.  We are doing well and appreciate your prayers!!!)

(PSS....thank you so much to the blog follower who encouraged me to enter the Leading Moms in Business Competition. You can vote for the Magic Brush daily by clicking here!  With the winnings, I can work on lightening up more of my house. ha!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our adoption update: the news that we did NOT get the kids

I’ve been thinking and thinking about what to share in a blog post this week about our adoption process. We have recently had news that I was not at all anticipating and the emotional free fall has taken a few weeks to work through.

I mentioned in this previous blog post that my hubby and I have been made aware of 2 kiddos who parental rights were terminated in November. It seemed like an adoption story that only the Lord could write. A client hired us to paint some furniture. That client happened to be an attorney. That client/attorney happened to see my blog that we were trying to adopt and knew of 2 kids whose parental rights were terminated that week. It sounded like an adoption story that was meant to be.

The only part in the story that we were unprepared for was that our family has been wanting to adopt a little girl under the age of 5....we never dreamed of a 2 year old girl AND a 7 year old brother. The idea of taking in 2 kids was at first, a little daunting. 

After the initial shock wore off, visions of life with 5 kids began to warrant permission for consideration in our hearts and minds. Over the course of a few days, the Lord really tore down the walls of our hearts about taking in 2 children. Our house can fit 2 more kids . Our vehicles can fit 2 more kids. Surely the Lord would sustain our energy levels and nerves and bank accounts and bio children, right? So, we decided to give permission for our home study to be considered for these kids and we asked to have the kids files emailed to us.

When we originally started this process, I niavely assumed that if we submitted our home study for a child/children and we were the only ones that did, that we would be selected to adopt them. That is not at all how it works.  The state’s process is to “recruit” other families for the adoption process until they feel like they have enough families to "choose from".  We learned that after recruiting for these kids, 12 families total had submitted their home studies for the children. So, we knew our chances of adopting them were 1 in 12.

It took us 9 weeks to receive the kid's file from the time I first heard about them. I don't know why it took so long. Why does EVERYTHING in the system  By the time I got their files, I could barely wait. I was at a client's home when the email came. And I forgot all about painting... I can tell you that. As I read the file....I read all about the 2 year old girl. And she sounded precious and precocious and busy and adorable!!!! But, it was the boy.....the boy who resonated most in my spirit. Totally unexpected, I fell in love with the boy....just by his file.

A child's file includes information like names, birthday, physical/medical/mental information, current living situation, mom and dad’s situation, etc. The boy sounded like a little grown up in a child's body. He sounded like my boys when they were 7....liking all things boyish.  He sounded like someone who just needed to be allowed to play.   And to be a kid. And to be wanted. And to be cherished. And within 5 minutes....I had already committed in my heart to mothering him.

We then asked for pictures of the kids. I couldn't wait to see pictures of these doll babies that I was hoping would be ours.  5 weeks went by and our social worker kept saying they had not received pictures from the photographer yet. So, 2 weeks ago, I called her again to check on the photos.

Instead of finding out about the photos, I found out we were not chosen to attend the staffing meetings for the kids (“staffing meetings” is the fancy term for the meeting where social workers, lawyers and therapists interview 3-5 families and select the best suited family for the adoption).

In other words….we are not getting the kids we had prayed for for the last 3 months.

I wanted to blog 2 weeks ago, but I was instantly hurled into a mourning process that I had never anticipated.  I was shocked at how deeply I grieved for kids whose faces I had never even seen.  The only thing my husband and I agree we can compare it to is that it feels just the same as when we miscarried 2 times.  When the answer is abruptly and surprisingly “no”… takes awhile to untangle the spectrum of emotions. 

It wasn’t that we necessarily "knew" we were going to be chosen for the kid’s forever family, it’s just that we felt certain we would be interviewed in the staffing process.  The bottom line is…..we were cut from the team altogether when we at least thought we would make the “B” team.  I called our social worker that morning to check on photos of the kids….I had no idea the door to these 2 children would totally close that day.

If I wrote a blog post 2 weeks ago, I would have told you that I wanted to hurt someone for bringing pain to my husband and kids.  It was so hard to tell our 3 biological kids.  They too had started to plan and process and love these 2 kids in their hearts.  It was so hard to watch my husband mourn in his “I-am-saying-I-am-ok-and-yet-I-am-suspiciously-quiet-and-on-edge” sort of way. And just the same as when I miscarried, his emotions were wanting to "fix this", make it better, make ME better.  And yet, there was nothing he could do.

If I wrote a blog post 2 weeks ago, I would have told you we should have never told our 3 bio kids so much about the process. 
If I had wrote my blog post 2 weeks ago, I would have told you how badly I dislike the foster care system in the US. 

I would have told you I wished we had gone international. 

I would have told you our social worker (whom I have never met) hates me. 

 If I had wrote my blog post 2 weeks ago, I would have told you that maybe the people who have said "perhaps we are meant to adopt"…..are right.  Clearly God is shutting doors left and right for us.

I would have told you these 2 kids were stolen from us.
I would have told you I can see why people quit this stupid, long, exhausting process. 

And yet, I never felt like quitting. 

And I will also tell you, it’s not over for us.

Over the course of the last 2 weeks, my heart has scabbed over. The Lord has helped me to process many emotions.   I’m no longer crying at the mention of our adoption process.  I’m no longer sighing from the very depths of my soul every few minutes.  I am no longer freaking my husband out.  But I am wondering if I will always take a piece of  these 2 faceless babies with me in my heart? And I believe I will.

If you ask me today how I am feeling, I will tell you I am aware of several tender mercies that the Lord has granted to me and my family.

Perhaps it was best we didn’t see photos of the kids.  The attorney told me they were blond haired and blue eyed and would fit right in to our family.  Having a face to put with a name and then falling in love with those faces may have been more than we could bear if eventually the answer was "no".

Perhaps it’s best we didn’t get selected for the staffing process only to NOT be selected for the final family for the kids.  As you move along in the process, it’s just like moving along in a pregnancy.  You start to plan more and more.  You consider the cost of extra airplane tickets for your family vacation this fall.  You consider the cost of putting 5 kids thru college.  You consider the sleeping arrangements.  You consider the process of moving the kids from their current home into ours. You consider what we will need for clothes, toys, etc.  It’s a natural progression in a woman’s heart…. just like when you are pregnant.  Had we been selected to go to the staffing process where we knew we were in the final 3 or final 4 or final 5 families….and then be told "no".....the sting would have been that much worse.  I can honestly say now….thank you Jesus.

Perhaps these kids really weren’t a good fit for our family.  The social worker will not tell us why we weren’t selected.  A reason of ANY kind would sure seem nicer.  Maybe the kids don’t need to be in a family with 3 bio kids.  Perhaps they need a home with a pet. Maybe they don’t like yellow front doors??????  I am sure I will never know why we weren't selected.  At first I was just so upset with our social could she not tell me???? While my flesh cries for a reason… we ever know why we miscarry either?  In my case, no.... we never did know.  Some questions will just have to wait for Heaven.

Perhaps the only role we were to have for these kids was to lift them up in prayer.  And we did….over and over.  Individually and as a family. My 3 precious biological babies prayed earnestly for these 2 kids by name that they will never know.  And I am choosing to believe that was NOT in vainWe prayed for their well being, their future, their emotions, the preparation of their hearts, their salvation. If that was our only job….then what an honor that should be.

Perhaps our journey is also about writing our bio kid's stories.  They have journeyed with us for 2 1/2 years.   My husband and I determined early on to share our process with our kids, even at the risk of hurting their hearts too. They need to see and deal with grief and anger and sadness and disappointment and confusion in the safety of our own home…..because they will experience all of those emotions in their own lives.  Hopefully they will be better, stronger, kinder people because of our journey. I am choosing to believe God will use this for their good too!

I can remember when I miscarried both times…  suddenly EVERYONE ELSE was pregnant.  Every single thing I saw at Target had to do with babies. Every TV show had moms giving birth.   It felt like like salt in our wounds.  Fast forward 6 years since my last miscarriage…..and it seems EVERYONE ELSE has a great adoption story.  Just this week I sold an item of furniture on a swap and shop site.  I had a total stranger show up at my house to buy it.  And of course, as only God could have it, somehow the guy brings up in conversation that he and his wife have adopted.  Of course you have…..

Then, just a day or 2 later…..I get a call for an appointment with a new client.  Can you guess?  Yep.  Somehow it got brought up in conversation that their family has recently adopted after 3 bio kiddos. Of course you have.  LOL.  I just come to expect it now.

I am telling you people.....we.just.can’t.get.away.from.adoption.

If you ask me how I am feeling now at the end of this blog post, I will tell you I am just so, so tired of wanting to adopt and it just not happening.  I think part of my grieving in the past few weeks was because it seemed like WE WERE FINALLY GETTING SOMEWHERE IN THIS PROCESS...... but now we are back to the beginning. 

And you know how you hear of alllllllll those kids in foster care needing adopted?  The latest number is that 104,000 are in the system in the US right now ready for adoption. The problem is the process.  It's the system.  It's the bureaucracy. It's the red tape. There are 104,000 kids in the system needing parents today....but we have not gotten a call on a single one of them.  What is wrong with this picture?  I will save those thoughts for another post.

For today…..this is all I can do.  Cling to the husband I have.  Love and appreciate the kids I have.  Praise God in the storm.  Believe Him for the best. 

And hope for the best for those two precious kiddos who we had the honor of praying for 3 months. 

For those of you walking this journey with us, whether in person offering your arms for me to cry into, or thru the sweet personal emails I receive….you bless me in ways you will never know.  Thank you for not trying to make sense of this. Thank you for not trying to rationalize it out loud in front of us.  Thank you for just encouraging us and reminding us of the words the Lord has spoken over us. Thank you for not giving up on our heart's desire.  Thank you for just hurting with us.  For letting us just grieve and be authentic and real and human.

I need you to know, I still believe in adoption.

I still believe that God is good.

I still believe that I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

I still believe He is writing a beautiful story over my family.

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