Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's A Process

It's only been 17 days since we brought baby boy home and I'm slowly learning to navigate this new phase in our lives.  I'm finding that being a mom prior has been really helpful and the same in a lot of ways, but that it's  also just totally different with adoption.

You know, the same like:

When you find yourself in the same shirt you wore 2 days ago, then yesterday, went to sleep in, and continued wearing all day and you could care less because you just keep showering and then putting it back on.

Or when when you find that it's 2:30 in the afternoon and you haven't gone pee since 5:00 this morning.

Or when you feel like all you ever do is feed someone, change another, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

When you're constantly doing yet it constantly looks as if nothing has been done.

When your legs are in desperate need of being shaved but you only have the energy to shave the top half and therefore leave the bottom half for the next day.... yeah, that happened.

But it's different in a lot of ways too.

Like when I find myself crying on Mark's shoulder because I'm so overwhelmed.

Like when I scheduled too much, too fast and I just couldn't process and handle it all at one time.

Or when panic set in the night before Mark returned to work and the kids returned to school and I completely and utterly fell apart.

When I feel like I have way overestimated my capabilities and strength.

When the emotional exhaustion far outweighs the physical.

Or when people ask how he's doing with minimal or no regard to the rest of the family.  Because honestly, this has been and is extremely hard on Emi.

Or when people ask if "he feels like yours yet".  Might I just say if this is something you're wondering ... you should refrain from asking.  And particularly if whoever you're asking has biological children as well.  It's an adjustment that takes time.  Sometimes a lot of time and you know what?

I'm learning that that's okay.  And more importantly: It's normal and doesn't make me less of a mom.

I had nine months to grow our other babies. 9 months to form hopes and dreams for them.  Nine months of hearing their hearts beat each time I went to the doctor.  Nine months of ultrasounds and kicks and hiccups, and belly rolls.  The love I had for them on the day I saw two lines on a pregnancy test was vastly different from the day I held them in my arms for the first time.

The same is and will be true for our sweet son.  I love him more today than I ever have.  We have a deeper bond than we did two weeks ago.  And our love and bond will be vastly different 9 months from now.  That's just how this works.

I love his big brown eyes.  I love his sweet smile and the way he already calls me momma.  I love how much progress he's already made.  How he's such a great sleeper.  How he loves to play with trucks and cars.  How he's gradually learning to toughen up and accept Emi's manhandling ways of showing him lovins.  I love how he's gone from being constantly on the move to feeling comfortable enough to just sit and relax with us.  I love how our other 3 kids already love him too.  How Mark interacts with him and how he has the sweetest little laugh.  I love how he's unaware of the games we play but has quickly picked up on some of them and now takes off running so I can chase him.  I love how he loves to read and how I can sit with him and Emi and, for just a few moments, they're both still.  How when I put him to bed he lays his head on my shoulder and just lets me rock him for awhile.  Or how when I sing his song to him, he starts humming with me.

It's a process.

I may not know much.  But I know this:  I have to give myself some slack and rest in the grace of our Father.

I have to constantly guard my mind and not allow the fears and worries to take over... to stop them as soon as they start.

But mostly, I'm constantly reminding myself that my strength is not found in myself, but in The One who gives me strength.

And He's done that each and every day.

And each and every day I have chosen love and replayed the day we got him.  The day his foster mom handed him to me with tears in her eyes and said "I've taken care of and loved him, now I'm giving him to you to love."  I carried him to the van and cried the whole way, as I buckled him in, as we pulled out of the driveway, and as we drove down the road.  Because I love him and because we finally were bringing our son home.

And so that's what I'm doing.  I'm loving my son.  I'm putting one foot in front of the other and doing the absolute best that I know how.  We're rocking and reading, tickling and playing, going to the zoo and museums, and sending 'sissy' and 'bubba' off to school each morning.

And what used to seem foreign is gradually starting to feel normal.

I'm so thankful for those that have been praying diligently for us.  We have felt your prayers and I have no doubt that things have gone as well as they have because of your faithfulness in lifting us up to the Father.

So thank you.  And thank you in advance for continuing to pray for us as we follow God's calling in our lives - that we'd be the parents He'd have us to be to each and all of our children.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Missing the Target

Remember when you were young and newly married, dreaming of the day you'd be a mom?

You'd do it this way and that.  You were going to be the fun mom and decorate their rooms a certain way.  You would never say things that your mom had said.  You had names picked out and had already begun planning which career paths you might could send them down.  You were dreaming of being a baseball mom and how cute your little buddy would be in his uniform.  You were thinking how neat it would be if your sweet little brown-eyed girl would graduate as Valedictorian like you did.  You were going to breastfeed and make sure they didn't still suck a binky or their thumb when they were 3.  You just knew you'd have them all potty trained by the time they were 18 months old.... or you know, 2 at the latest.  You'd read to them every night.  They'd be so precious you never could even imagine raising your voice or becoming frustrated. And by all means, you'd be on top of all their school projects.

Remember that?

I do too.

Sometimes I look back at those days and just shake my head.  Because somewhere along the way, things went seriously awry.

Because I certainly didn't stick to breastfeeding, our future baseball player in fact has never played baseball, we just paid for our thumb sucker to get braces, and several days this week I forgot to check their school folders.  And let's not count the number of times I've said things my parents said while raising me.

I seriously have missed the target I set for myself.

You know, days when there are rings around the bathtubs and you forgot *again* to change the sheets.

Or when you reach to get the potty seat for Emi and wonder why it's all wet, only to realize a certain little boy has poor aim.... and now you have pee hands and are 4 seconds past your patience limit.  ELI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  GET IN HERE!!!  Yeah, there went that never being frustrated or angry part.  Sigh.

Or the day you attempted to play a game of Super Mario with your kids and they kept running off and killing you, despite you continually telling them to stop it and wait for your pathetic self who is terrible at the game and then just throwing in the towel because you're too tired to keep getting mad at how horrible you are because you know there's no way you're going to be able to keep up with them without them basically just staying behind and waiting until I kill myself so they can run on ahead.  Yeah.  That was a really long sentence - kind of like yesterday felt for me.

You know those days, right?

The ones where you're sending them to their rooms for their attitudes or disobedience.

The ones where they're fighting and bickering and you jump in to break it up only to find yourself doing exactly what you came to get on to them for doing.

Yeah, me too.

Or the ones when they cut their own hair.... and their best friend's and come out looking like Suze Orman.

Or when during a service while visiting my home church, Aunt Sarah was taking rowdy Emi out as she let out the loudest toot ever.... which prompted Anna and Eli to burst into boisterous laughter, shaking the pews.  And in my attempt to get on to them, I got tickled too and couldn't quit laughing.  Imagine me laughing, telling them to stop laughing, and them laughing all the harder.  Yeah... that happened.

Or days that have been so rough that when you drop your dark chocolate into the bathtub with you, you decide you really just don't care and eat it its partially melted self anyway.

Days when they're so bad you send them outside to weed the flower beds.... and the garden ..... and then consider making them pick weeds everywhere instead of weed-eating.

Or the time one prayed such a spiritual prayer over dinner - you know, asking to not have any tests next week and for his sister to stop being so mean.

Or better yet, when your kid is asking if he was adopted and his name was FartBucket if you'd change it.

What's that?  Your kid has never asked you that?  Yeah, mine either.  Ahem.  Moving on.

There are days I wonder if I've gotten anything right while raising them.  When I just want to retreat to the bathroom and cry for a bit.... or you know, an hour or two.

But there are also days I see glimpses into who they're becoming.  Glimpses that make this momma's heart overflow with joy.

Days when one's teacher tells us how kind and caring and patient he is with the students who are struggling that he's been paired with to help pull them up to level.

Days when I get a text from one's teacher telling me how she went to school and told her class about Honduras; how they believe being good is what gets you to Heaven and then proclaiming that Jesus is the only way.

Days where they're offering to help each other with their chores.

Days where they're giggling and laughing as they play together.

Those moments when they go out of their way to help me.

When they walk in from school with a big grin on their face, carrying a card and a flower they planted for me.

When their love overflows and their hearts are broken saying goodbye to those they love.

Those times when they take pride in taking initiative and a job well done.

Times when, with voices raised, they are praising the Father above.

You see, I may have missed the target I set for myself all those years ago, but I've never forgotten the anticipation of being a mom.

I remember those days.  Days and weeks and months and months of trying and trying - all to no avail.  I remember the day I decided if I couldn't have children I would engross myself in getting another degree.  And so I did.  And the day my best friend suggested "Are you sure you're not pregnant?" as I continued to crave and eat everything salty in sight.  The day I stood in the bathroom holding a positive pregnancy test and crying, sobbing said "I can get pregnant.  I can get pregnant. I am pregnant."  The day my water broke and I waited and labored in anticipation of holding my baby girl only to have an emergency c-section.  The moment they wheeled me out of recovery and to the nursery window to see her.  I remember, friends.

I remember having tried so hard and giving up only to get pregnant with Anna on birth control.  I remember thinking it took forever, so we should start trying now so we won't have a 3 or 4 year gap in between kids.  And then standing in the bathroom holding another positive test the first month we tried.  The realization that they were going to be just 16 months apart.  The anticipation of Anna being a big sister.  The moment of going to the hospital to have Eli and having contractions as I waited to be taken back into surgery.  When they walked in and told us he was having trouble breathing and were corresponding with Arkansas Children's Hospital.  When they said he wasn't allowed out of the nursery yet the nurse sneaked him out and brought him to me so I could hold him for just a few moments.  All the wires and monitors, IV's, feeding tubes, oxygen tents, doctors coming in and out giving us reports.  And when he was finally mine to have and hold and kiss and snuggle with without all the wires and needles.  I remember.

I remember trying and trying for another baby.  And that time it wasn't as easy.  Months and months passed.  A year.  18 months.  And there it was.  Another positive test.  And how excited we were that it was right before Mother's Day.  We had plans to go home and surprise our moms (and the rest of the family) with the news.  But God had another plan and instead of sharing the good news, I found myself instead crying on my mom's shoulder as we lost our sweet #3.  We still went home for Mother's Day.  And as my pregnant sister-in-law got out of the van and walked up to my parents' house, she said "I'm so sorry".  I mean, what do you say in that situation?  I didn't know what to say, so I said "It's okay."  She just shook her head no, gave me a hug, and said "No, it's not."  She had given me permission and the right to mourn, and to this day, I've never forgotten it.

We decided we'd try again.  And again, months went by.  A year.  And 15 months later, we were starring at another positive test.  All the initial blood work came back good.  Yet as I laid on the table for our first ultrasound, I immediately knew something was wrong.  Our baby was stuck in my tube.  And all I could do was lay there and quote Scripture, willing myself to keep it together until we could get back to the van.  Our baby had already passed away and another piece of me went with our sweet #4.

Sometimes it's easy to forget the anticipation you initially had.  After losing our babies, I was there.  I didn't know if I could muster up the courage to try again or the strength to keep going should we encounter another loss.  Yet a year later, I was holding another positive test and a whole lot of fear.  I was hopeful yet attempting to not be too hopeful. Yet time went on and she grew and grew.  And I began finding my way back  - remembering how I had anticipated being a mom all those years ago.  And I remember her cry, because I was so relieved she was here, that she was healthy and that God had seen us through all the trials.  I remember.

And it's in all those memories that which keeps me focused.

I may fail (and I do, a lot).

I may have completely missed the target I had set all those years ago.

But God knew just what my babies would need and has seen fit to provide that through me.  Just as He's seen fit to provide those things for your children through you.

You are who He has given them.

And while that often seems like a daunting task, like I fail them over and over, I'm reminded that He will be Who truly provides the strength I need to be all that they need me to be.

On the days I just want to hide in the closet and eat chocolate, I'm choosing to remember all those years ago.  I'm choosing to trust in His grace to allow me to be their momma.

It's in remembering all those hopes and dreams I had all those years ago that keeps me focused on the task at hand.  Because I have babies that need led to the feet of Jesus.  Babies who need to know His love and faithfulness.  Babies who need to know what it is to face adversity and come out on the other side stronger.

So, while I may have missed the target I set, it's my hope and prayer that I hit the bulls eye that He has set for me.  That I can love and serve and lead them well.  That they'll know without a doubt that they have been and always will be loved by their momma.

Here's to aiming for the right target.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hands Lifted High

A Note from the Author: I'm aware this post is more reminiscent of 3 posts in one.  I couldn't adequately make it flow like I would like, so I just wrote.... wrote from my heart.  I hope amidst it all, you feel that.

I am ruined.

What I had imagined and had been told has now been before my very eyes.

It's no longer a Compassion commercial.  It's no longer World Vision telling me about the needs of people in 3rd world countries.  It's no longer me being able to flip the channel or tune out the speaker at a concert.

It's real.  And I am undone.

While we fret over standardized test scores, complain about the nutrition in school lunches, and attempt to blame teachers for failures that clearly lie with the parents, they attend school here:

While we complain about needing a bigger house or having to clean ours, they're living here:

How do I know and come home and do nothing?

The answer?  I can't.

I look at this picture above.  They were thirsty.  They were asking us for water.  And while multiple kids were in the nearby stream, drinking muddy water, Michele began giving handfuls of water for them to lap out of their hands.... and they were happy.

Please don't rush past that last sentence.  They were happy to get a handful of clean water.  So how can I possibly come home and act as if I haven't witnessed these things for myself?

I simply cannot.

Can I tell you something?

There's a difference between us and them.  And as I sit here and type this, my eyes well up with tears.  Because they're happy.  They literally live in huts, often with no electricity or running water, and they're happy.  They were constantly smiling.  And more often than not, they literally ran to meet us.  They heard we were there and began pouring out of the woods and villages.  They were so excited to see us, to hear what we had to say.  They were excited about toothbrushes, pencils, and frisbees.  And oh did they listen.  They were quiet.  They were respectful.  They anticipated hearing about Jesus.  It didn't matter how hot it was.  It didn't matter that we were a bunch of white strangers.  They were eager to hear about Jesus.

There's something about this picture that touches me every time I look at it.  Part of it is that it's my husband and I got to witness him sharing the love of Jesus so many times while we were there.  Hand lifted high, he unabashedly proclaimed the Word as Manuel translated for him.  There's something about hearing the Gospel in two languages that is absolutely moving, particularly with Manuel's love for Christ so evident.  And the other part I love so much?  Well, it's their pure concentration on his every word .... HIS word.

We lack the awe they have for the Word.  And that's humbling, friends.... convicting.

So many things about Honduras have been convicting for me.  Like the way we often disregard our elderly.  That's in part why this next picture is one of my favorites... because I saw her coming, walking to the school from a ways off.  I watched her.  I watched others watch her.  She appeared to be revered within the village.  She walked straight up to me and smiled.  I was touched by her silent strength and openness towards us.

I asked "un foto?"  She shook her head and said "Si".  And here we are.  I showed her the picture on the camera and she just smiled and smiled.

As Mark went to help prepare for speaking to the children, she said "Soy Rita".  I said "Hola Rita.  Soy Phoebe" and my mom said "Soy Linda."

But it's what she did next that has profoundly touched me.  It has stuck with me and reverberated in my very soul.

She reached toward Heaven.  Hands lifted high.  She looked up, starring into the baby blue sky, then brought her hands back down, covering her heart.  She grabbed my hands and looked straight into my eyes with a smile.

No translator was needed.  Language barriers suddenly ceased to exist.

It was as if Rita was telling me she thanked God we were there.

And I was speechless.  Humbled and thankful for that moment we shared.  Two people.  Two races.  Two languages.  But one Savior.

All I could do was shake my head, acknowledging her kindness.

I watched Rita as a school room full of kids listened as they were told about Jesus.

I watched her as the kids poured out of the room to run outside and play with their new frisbees.

I watched her as the adults were invited in.  You see, there were so many adults that had come from the nearby villages to see what was going on that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to share Christ with them too.  One by one they began saying that the way to Heaven was by being good.  And it was in that moment that I was so incredibly thankful for the heart of the Director of EIM being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and having called all the adults in for an extra service so they could hear that the way to Heaven isn't by being good, but rather through the blood of Jesus and trusting that His sacrifice and their repentance is all they need.

Head bowed, praying, I watched Rita.

I prayed that God would speak to her... to the others.

I watched as one momma held her baby in her lap and long after the prayer had been prayed, she continued with head bowed, mouth speaking words to the Father above.

How can I have experienced these things and not be changed?

I came home and I find myself being angry.  Angry that people don't get it.  That I can't adequately relay what we witnessed.  That the pictures just don't do it justice.  Angry that while they're struggling amidst poverty and drug cartels that my kids are arguing because one is watching TV and the other wants to play the Wii.  Angry that they just need food and adequate resources and I spend money on Plexus.  Angry that our city is arguing about whether or not we need a dog park.  I'm just angry.

I don't know how to come back here and live with what I've seen.

Yet I felt Him speaking to me through the words of my friend, Jenny.

"Phoebe, anger is not the way."

"You were born here for a reason.  Use it for His glory."

And so it is.

You see, because it begins with teaching my kids because missions begins in my home.

We got word while in Honduras that our sweet Emi was sick.  She was/has been sick for quite awhile now.  And when we got back, all she wanted was her mommy.  Truth be told, that's all she still wants.

Do you believe that missions is about showing your own kids the love of Christ too?  Because I'm telling you, sometimes we can miss the big picture because we're looking for something huge instead of what's right in front of our eyes.

Hands lifted high, she just wanted me.

It was in those moments that God was, and is, teaching me things.  I can't be angry... but I can make a difference.  In my home.  With how I raise my children.  And with how we teach them to impact the world for Christ.  And oh, how I hope they have tremendous impacts on this world.

Because this little girl needs Jesus just as much as those across the world.

I don't yet know what this experience means.  I do know it means change.  We're still in the process of figuring out exactly what that looks like.

But what I do know is that starting in May, we will be donating a portion of Plexus money to EIM (Evangelistic International Ministries) to help further the spread of the Gospel.  We're praying that God would bless my Plexus business so that we can give more and more and that through His blessings, we could do something incredible for His kingdom with this money.

We're praying about future mission's trips because we can't imagine not going back.

We're talking about missions with our kids.

We're discussing how we can better evangelize right where we are - like showing Eli's best friend, David, from Mexico pictures from our time in Honduras.  He was so excited that they looked like him.  He asked to listen to a part of Mark talking to them about Jesus that I had recorded, so I let him.

Do you believe this matters too?  Because it does, friends.

It's that simple.  Just share Jesus, wherever that may be.

If it's on the mission's field in Honduras or Africa.  Share Jesus.

If it's in the grocery store.  Share Jesus.

If it's at work or in the classroom.  Share Jesus.

Because, with hands lifted high, I'm praying, beseeching that He would help us make sense of this.  That I could use the anger to propel me to make changes in my own life.  That I could just share Jesus, wherever that may be.

Hands lifted high, I'm thanking Him for this experience and His provision.

Hands lifted high, I'm begging Him to never let me forget.

Hands lifted high - praising the One Who made us all.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Waiting Game

As many of you know, we're in the process of trying to adopt a little boy.  We've jumped through all the hoops, taken all the classes, transformed our house to meet all their regulations, and are now just waiting.

And waiting.

....and waiting.

Can I be honest for a moment?

It's hard.  So very hard.  This waiting and waiting and waiting for a phone call.

We've been open for almost 5 months now.  We've received exactly zero calls.

This past week, we received an e-mail, asking if we'd be interested in a 5 year old little boy needing a home.  My initial response was "No.  We specified under 2."  And then I would think "But he deserves a home too."  And then back to "But he has this, that, and the other going on.  Be reasonable.  That's more than you can take on with already having 3 kids.  He needs more than you can give."  "Oh, but I would love him".  "Stop it, Phoebe.  You said under 2 for a reason."

And so I sent the reply, declining this sweet 5 year old little boy.

It was horrible.  Heartbreaking.

I look into the eyes of Eli and suddenly he's a 5 year old child needing parents who will love him, never mind that he's 7 and already has parents that love him.  He's now every 5 year old little boy needing a second chance... and it's so very hard.

I know God has a plan for us in and through all the waiting.

But friends, it's excruciating.  And I don't know how to explain this or put it in to words, so if I'm just rambling on, please bare with me.  But I know he's out there.  He's being carried inside his birth mom's womb, or he's already born - living in a situation that none of us would wish upon our children, or he's in foster care - learning to love and bond with another woman that will be devastating for him to leave.... and I just want him home with us.

I know that may not make sense - given we don't know him yet.  We don't know if he'll be days old, months old, or approaching 2.  We don't know if he'll be white, black, bi-racial, Hispanic.  We don't know anything other than our longing to have him home.

And so when I see pictures of other adoptive parents getting the call and holding their new baby, it hurts.  Not because I'm not happy for them, but because somewhere, some place, our son is waiting just as we are.  Because I'm tired of waiting and long to meet him, to hold him, to call him mine, and it just hurts, friends.

I do not presume that it will be easy once we get the call.  We'll all have to adjust, particularly Emi - who doesn't like for mommy to hold anyone else.  But I know this and suspect that when that time comes, I'll be blogging through that process as well.

So, when you ask where we are in the process and we say "still waiting" - know that what we really mean is "The waiting is so very hard."

When it's our turn to share prayer requests and we say "Us as we wait for the call" - know that what we mean is our patience and endurance through this journey - that we could trust His timing and plan - that we're asking you to pray for our son, even though none of us yet know who he'll be.  It's not a trite request - it's a small snippet of what we're experiencing as we play the waiting game.

And to our son - wherever you are - know that as we wait, we pray for you every single day.  I can't even get through this sentence without the tears flowing because we're so ready to meet you.  We have such hopes and dreams for you.  Daddy's already picked out your stuffed animal for you - just as he did for your brother and sisters.  We've already bought you some pajamas and the cutest little toboggan in that animals print.  We bought them bigger to make sure they'd fit.  We took Christmas pictures with an empty rocking chair so when you get here you'll know you were always on the forefront of our minds - that we were waiting and preparing for your arrival - for the day we'd get the call to bring you home and have you in our arms.

You are loved.

You are prayed over.

You are worth the wait.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Why Plexus?

Have you ever felt like you were drowning, just barely staying afloat each day?  Like you're failing at everything.  Failing your husband.  Failing your kids.  Failing your family and friends.  Failing as a Christian..... failing yourself?

I was there.

I struggled day in and day out just to make it to bedtime.  I lived for the moments when Emi would take a nap so I could take one too.... for when the kids would go to bed, just so I could rest.  I literally was sleeping almost half of my life away, yet never feeling rested or refreshed.  And I'd get up and do it all over again.

My kids got to where they wouldn't even ask me to do things with them and if I said yes, they knew that really meant maybe - maybe if she's not tired or if she doesn't have a headache.  I hated this.  I despised it, yet I felt powerless to change it.  

We bought Advil in bulk at Sam's.  I would have headaches 3-5 days a week, at times so severe I would be vomiting and in bed a good portion of the day.

I was dealing with anxiety regarding multiple things - some significant, some trivial - to the point I would give myself diarrhea and begin vomiting.  I would wake up in the middle of the night, shake Mark in a state of panic thinking someone was in the house.... frequently.

Add to that dealing with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) that I've had for 14 years, frequent UTI's, fever blisters, pink eye, and then to top if off, my hair began falling out after I had Emi and 18  months later it hadn't stopped.  It was severe enough I went to the doctor ..... and he recommended I start Rogaine for women.  Yeah... that last sentence was really hard for me to type.

I hated that my wedding rings didn't fit anymore.  The only way I could wear them is because they were literally stuck on my finger.  I asked multiple times if I could just have them sized up a 1/2 - 1 size, although I didn't know how I was going to get them off.  And those of you who know Mark will get a kick out of his response: "Do you know how expensive gold is right now?!"  He was right.  It was ridiculous to want to re-size my rings bigger instead of just fixing the problem.

Problem was - I tried to fix it.  It just wasn't working.

I would exercise and cut back on sweets, yet never be able to lose more than the same 10-15 lbs, which always seemed to find their way back.  And oh did I love me some sweets.  I craved them.  I felt crabby if I didn't eat them.  I loved to buy the 3 lb (or is it 5 lbs?) tub of chocolate chip cookie dough at Sam's.  Then just frequent the refrigerator throughout the day for a few bites.... or for some late night chocolate ice cream topped with cookie dough and drizzled in chocolate syrup.  Never mind the brownies I had eaten that day or the cake earlier in the week, or the mini reeses peanut butter cups, or the stops at Sonic for a cherry Dr. Pepper..... it was always something.

And I hated it.

Stick with me here.  I told you all of that to get to what I really want you to glean from all of this.

I hated that I couldn't seem to get a grasp on the self control and self discipline I so desperately wanted and needed.  But worse, that began flowing over into thoughts about my faith.

"You're so weak."  "You're not trusting God enough."  "Good Christians have self control and don't struggle with these issues."  "You need to rely on Him more and these things wouldn't be an issue."  "Your faith is so shallow."

What I didn't know was that there was a reason behind all those things.

A little thing known as candida, or for us regular folks, yeast.  And to be more precise, an overgrowth of yeast in my gut.  Our American, super-processed, high fructose corn syrup, sugar-y diets feed this yeast until it begins taking over our guts and cravings and demanding more sugar.  And this overgrowth is what causes what is referred to as a leaky gut.  And what does a leaky gut cause?  You guessed it.  About everything I had been experiencing as well as a host of other things.

So, when people ask me "Why Plexus?".  This is why.  It works.  It goes to the core of the problem and fixes it.  It doesn't band-aid it, cover it up, or mask the issue.

Since starting Plexus, naps are now a treat, not a necessity.  I go to bed and sleep like a rock.  I wake up feeling refreshed, often before my alarm even goes off.  I'm doing more and more with my kids, so much so that Anna recently told someone they should try Plexus because I used to be tired all the time but now I'm like SuperMom.  I have headaches probably 2-3 times a month now instead of 3-5 days a week.  My anxiety has drastically decreased and has interrupted my sleep maybe 2-3 times in the past 4 months.  I no longer have IBS, fever blisters, recurrent pink eye.  And you know what.  I did NOT start Rogaine, but I did start on Plexus' XFactor vitamins and now I have new hair growing like crazy.  And that weight problem and struggle with sweets?  I had lost 14 lbs prior to starting Plexus but couldn't get the scale to budge anymore.  I have now lost an additional 20 pounds on top of that and am down 14 inches.  My wedding rings now spin on my finger and won't even stay in place.  And when I'm super cold, I have to be cautious when washing my hands that they don't slip right off.

You know about the only thing it didn't solve?

Hang with me here.  This is my whole point in this post.

It didn't solve the attacks from Satan on my faith.

I still struggle with feeling that needing something to help me means I don't really trust God.  I struggle with the influence that Mark and I have among our friends and family and petitioning God that we always use that wisely.  I've struggled with me going public about Plexus and if that's affected people in a negative manner.  If they've somehow believed that Christ isn't sufficient, if they've thought that casting all our cares on Him isn't good enough, if they've thought that running to something else means that He isn't the Great Physician or that knowing and quoting Scriptures aren't effective enough.  I've wondered if they're in need of a Savior if my promoting Plexus is band-aiding their true problem.

Oh how I've struggled with this, both in testing what I truly believe and in praying that I never lead anyone astray.

The truth is that He IS enough - He's always enough.  And if He's all I ever have, that will be more than enough.  Had I never heard of Plexus, He would still be getting me through each and every day, just like He did 4 months ago and continues to do every day since then and will continue to do every day the rest of my life.

I've had to come to the realization that we only have one life - and I want to live mine abundantly.  And I believe that Christ wants us to live an abundant life as well.  I think living in survival mode does more damage to our testimony than taking supplements designed to help get and keep us healthy.

I had to realize that if we wouldn't tell someone with high blood pressure or diabetes or high cholesterol to not take medication, then I shouldn't worry about needing a product that kills the yeast overgrowth in my gut to help me not have  to take medications for headaches, IBS, hair growth, etc.

But more than anything, I'm learning that His grace is sufficient.  He's teaching me that although these products have been life changing for me, that I'm still in need of His grace daily.  He's teaching me what it means to come alongside people and genuinely care for them in a way that's much different than I'm used to (ie. my counseling office).  He's teaching me to trust Him on this journey.  I don't know where it will lead financially for us.  That's scary for me.  Both the prospect of it bottoming out and the prospect of it taking off and doing well.  So I trust Him.  Trust that He'll provide however He sees fit.  Trust that He'll help me be successful should that be His desire for us.  Trust that He'll work all things out if it doesn't.

This journey has led me to prayer, time and time again.  Praying for those under me.  Praying for my customers.  Praying for those interested.  Praying that God would give me wisdom to share but not be pushy.  Praying that God would let others see Him through me and that Plexus wouldn't interfere but could be another means for me to share His faithfulness.

Because what I've also come to realize is that those who know me ... well, they know me.  They know that I would never elevate Plexus to where only God can be.  They know that if someone is in need of Christ that I'll be there to answer their questions, pray with them... for them, and that by the end I'll be crying tears of joy for them as I have so many times before.  They know when times are tough, they can come to me.  They know if they need help moving, if they need a friend to sit with them in a waiting room, if they need prayer about a concern, or want me to just sit in silence with them as they grieve - they know.  They know I'll be there.  And at some point, I had to realize this and tell Satan to just shut it.

Because Plexus will never change who I am at the core.  It won't change that I'm a wife and mother, a friend, daughter, sister.  It won't change that I love Christ and fully trust Him, not just with this, but with all things.  It hasn't changed how I quote Scriptures to myself throughout the day or pray for those who come to mind as I go about my day.

It hasn't changed me.  It's only changed how my gut functions and in turn, how I look and feel.  But those things aren't me.

Because as I step foot on the airplane to Honduras in a few weeks, I can assure you it's Scripture that I'll be quoting and prayers I'll be praying to the One who holds all things in His hands.

So for those who know me, not much has changed other than how I look and feel.  And for those who don't know me all that well, maybe this will help answer "Why Plexus?".  

Because for me, it's really kind of changed into "Why not?"