A Happy Halloween to you all! I’m wishing everyone outstanding costumes, short candy lines and magic sugar that doesn’t stick to your hips or make your kids crazy.
In the meantime, we’re celebrating our 12th week with Jacob. And there is much to be celebrated.
In my last update just 2 weeks ago, I reported that we had hit some sort of turning point. I am happy to report back and say that it wasn’t just as fluke. The last few weeks have been so good.
We’ve all but abandoned the behavior chart. Not because we’re slacking, but because he’s actually listening. Sure, we’ve had a few hard days, but overall, he’s doing so well. There were several days in a row on his chart where we didn’t even have to fill out the date because we didn’t need to use it.
I’m sure it’s a combination of things.
We’re getting to know each other. We’ve figured out what makes him tick and what button we need to press to make things happen. For instance, we realized at school we needed to take away his soccer privilege at recess to make him do his morning work. We are beginning to understand why he’s doing what and learning when to just let things go. And I think he’s learning us and what he can get away with and what he can’t.
We’re getting close to finalization. We’ve been able to have several talks about how this is final, about how we don’t need a court date to know he’s our son, about how there’s nothing he can do to change our minds. We had our last home visit yesterday from DSS. He yelled “YES!” and jumped up when I told him. I can’t imagine all the visits and red tape he’s had in the last years. I’m sure it’s starting to sink in that this really is his forever home and that stability is translating across the board.
And here’s a big one. We’ve been doing some physical therapy to help for his ADHD I haven’t told you about. I want to tell you in great detail about the program we started at the beginning of October (maybe next week?), but suffice it to say, I think it’s showing huge dividends.
Yesterday I emailed his teachers to ask if they were seeing improvement at school or if it really was just a settling in at home. Both his teachers emailed me seperately to say they were meaning to email me to tell me what a great week he’s had. One said, “I have seen such a huge change in Jacob this week. He is much more focused and being a lot more responsible about getting his work done.”
He got his first report card and got all A’s and B’s. His resource teacher said he’s ahead on all his goals and we’ll probably need to meet early so we can set some new ones. There’s already talk of integrating him back into the classroom.
I talked to the representative through the company we’re using for his therapy and she said it’s absolutely possible that within just a few weeks he could be seeing these benefits. They never promise anything. In fact, they told me it could be a year of therapy before we saw a difference, but it’s sounding like Jacob is responding very well and with all the stability he’s getting, he’s excelling.
This is huge. The physical therapy is targeted to help with his focus and attention, among many other things, and if it’s really working, then these changes are for life. I couldn’t be more excited for him.
We’ve started to get to the heart of the matter. Now that we’ve gotten through the weeds, we’ve been able to connect some to his past. I’ve had some beautiful conversations with him at night. I’ve been able to talk to him about his mom and some favorite memories with her. We’re planning to do some of those things with him.
Last night, we took him to Golden Corral, his favorite place his foster parents took him. I cannot tell you how happy he was last night. He truly hopped and skipped to get dessert and had the biggest, most earnest smile I’ve seen on him yet. Healing is taking place and it’s beautiful to watch.
All of these are combining to create so much hope and beauty in the process.
Last night was truly the first night I wanted to go back and relive. Most days until now I’ve felt like we were simply surviving, but last night I could do again.
At our last visit with the case worker, she told me that we’d be getting a new birth certificate after we go to court and we’d be listed as the parents. For some reason this fact had escaped me until then. It hit me like a ton of bricks that we really are going to be a forever family. There’s still so much messiness with his birth family and a piece of paper doesn’t make it all better, but it is significant. It feels weird, actually, to be listed as someone’s legal parent when you didn’t give birth to him. In some ways, it feels like we’re dishonoring his first 7 years of life, but in other ways, it feels like a fresh start. Perhaps like a slate we’re wiping clean. New life.
It’s good, y’all, It really is.
We go next Friday the 7th to sign the final adoption papers and then we’ll rush over to give that to our attorney so he can set a court date. We’re told that usually takes about a month and fingers crossed, he’ll be getting a new name for Christmas.
Adoption: A Twelve Week Update is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
“I don’t want that!”
A familiar scene in our house unfolds as I announce the meal planned for the night. My sweet food-finicky child invariably complains about my well-deliberated choice.
This night hamburgers were on the menu, and I knew it would garner at least one complaint. Thankfully, my husband was on hand and heard the comment. In his official highway patrolman voice, he proclaimed we were still cooking burgers and this child was going to eat one!
I also decided to put the time into making homemade potato skins to go with burgers. What’s not to love about them? Cheese, bacon, ranch dressing. I’m hungry just thinking of them. If our lovely child decided to seriously protest the hamburgers, at least he could fill up on those.
As I stood in the kitchen scooping out the potato, I felt God whisper that I do the same thing with Him spiritually.
Ouch. Thanks, God, for putting me in my place.
Sometimes, when God calls us to the table for spiritual food, we say, “I don’t want that!”
Read the rest over on my first post over on Deeper Waters
Table of Trust is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
Matt and Jacob against Emma and Heather
At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post talking about goals for the year. I mused that this might be the year we adopt. It was a far off hope when I wrote it. Little did I know in July we would meet our son.
Although I didn’t write it because it felt a bit premature, I internally hoped it may also be the year that my sister married Matt. They’d only been dating for about a month at the time, but I felt it was a good possibility with how things were progressing.
While I held hope for both of these things, I couldn’t have anticipated at the time that either would actually come to fruition by the end of the year.
How awesome has it been to see both of those come to life.
2014: The Year of Double Completion
God has been whispering this year to me that the two are tied together. I don’t think the timing of our adoption and Matt and Heather’s marriage is a happy accident. In fact, I believe our son Jacob and my sister’s new husband Matt have a God-ordained bond, which we have yet to see even the beginnings of.
Seven is a significant number in Scripture. I can’t begin to tell you all the ways it is used, but suffice it to say that God specifically used the number 7 to show himself. The root actually has 3 meanings: seven, full/complete/perfection, and oath.
At times, God used multiples of 7 to have specific meaning. You might remember Jesus saying to forgive your enemy not 7 times, but 7 times 70 times. This is a reference to the 7th time Noah’s name was used when God described him as perfect. The word that was used to mean perfect was Thamim. In Hebrew, words also have a numerical value. Each symbol is a number and when the letters are added together, the resulting word also has a numerical value. Thamim’s numerical value is 490, the product of 70 times 7.
You can actually see all the different multiples of 7 that are used in Scripture here. Sometimes it is to show his power, the cross, truth, the fullness of the Gentiles.
So, the original word and number have a specific meaning, but when multiplied, it has a different, but still significant meaning, particularly with the number 7.
I believe God has used 14 as a significant number, and multiple of 2 and 7, to show how He has worked in me and my sister’s lives through her husband and my son.
The number 2 is used to represent a union and 7 is perfection or completion. So, 14 implies a double measure of spiritual perfection, or indicates double completion.
Our family has prayed for years for these two people. I don’t find it accidental that in the year 2014 that they have come into our lives. Our families are becoming more complete and we are giving legal oaths to these two people to make them family.
I mean, think about this, year 14 hasn’t happened for a whole century and won’t happen again for another whole century. It’s not like this could happen often. And what are the chances that at 34 my sister would get married after some matchmaking from a friend and after years of being in the system, we would be matched with our son all in the same year. I would say we both have a heavenly matchmaker that wants it to be made known that he’s done it!
I have seen several other correlations between the adoption and their marriage, and specifically between Matt and Jacob.
On Friday at the wedding, the pastor closed out the wedding ceremony by sharing a verse that Matt and Heather picked out. It was a popular one from Joshua, As for me and me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I was able to share, in video, that night my toast to the couple. I shared how God had traveled with Heather on her broken road, transformed her and now brought someone into her life to share it with.
Just 2 days later we sat in church this weekend and do you know what played on the screen? A video that Scott and I filmed about our adoption. Do you know what the sermon was about? Joshua. And do you know what verse the pastor closed his sermon with? As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
Once I made these connections, I began thinking of other ways 14 played a part in this and then realized: Matt and Heather’s wedding was October 24th and exactly 14 days later we will be signing final adoption papers for Jacob on November 7th, 90 days after Jacob was placed with us on August 7th.
It then hit me both Matt and Jacob share Biblical first names that are linked. Jacob—the father of the Israelites and Matthew, an apostle of Jesus.
In the gospel of Matthew, Matthew writes Jesus’s genealogy. There are 3 sets of 14 generations between Abraham and Joseph, including 2 Jacobs. The first, is the son of Isaac and the second is Jesus’s grandfather (who knew?).
Matt and Jacob also share the exact same middle name Ryan. And do you know that the name Ryan means “little King” or “kingly?”
Uncle and Nephew
Now, hold on to your hats, people, because this final connection is crazy. I started seeing all these themes of 14 outside of the year 2014 and got super dorky. I really felt like there was a piece of this puzzle I was still missing so I went looking.
I started trying to find Hebrew words that had a numerical value of 14. Symbols in Hebrew can also be used to denote numbers, so you can add up the letters in the word and come up with a numerical value of the word. So, you could have a 10 + 4 = 14 or a 5 + 5 + 4 = 14, or I felt like in our case, the 7 + 7 = 14 would be more appropriate. A 7 in Hebrew is the letter Zayin and if you put two of those together you get זז, the numerical value of the word is 14 and it means “moving” (thank you, Google Translate). On one site I found, it actually has this expanded definition:
to boil; to warm or move (the heart); to love; and object of love, a beloved; a friend; uncle; nephew, pr.n. “David” = “Beloved”; boiler, pot, kettle; basket.
Oh my gosh, did you catch that? Moving love like in between uncle and nephew?? That’s what Matt and Jacob are as of Friday.
And just to put it over the top, my name means beloved which is another definition of the same Hebrew word.
Are you kidding me?
God is so faithful to his people. If he never does another single thing, he has confirmed that He has moved, that he has blessed us, that he is with us. I know I can speak for our families to say as for us, we will serve the Lord.
I do believe, though, that there is something special between Matt and Jacob. I have seen some inklings over the past months how they have already challenged each other. We have yet to see the extent to which this will go, but let me choose this day to say I see God moving and anxiously await his work.
Let this be an encouragement to you that God is in the details of your life right now. Maybe he feels absent and uncaring. But if we seek him and follow his ways and his direction, he absolutely will create beauty when we least expect it and in ways that will simply blow our minds.
14 is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
This weekend this couple became husband and wife. Witnessing it was one of the greatest pleasures of my life.
Words simply escape me on not just how beautiful the wedding was, but how beautiful it was to see two people who have been through so much come together with so much happiness and love for each other. I said it in my toast and I’ll say it here–I’ve never seen my sister happier than I have in the last year.
Heather wrote this on the morning of her wedding day.
If you see me crying today it’s tears of joy and being humbled by the journey that brought me to this day and to this wonderful man. He is truly a gift that I do not deserve. It has been a journey that required me to surrender all of my past hurt, mistakes, doubt and pain to God. Then to trust HIM first with my heart before bringing someone into my life that would protect it. To allow God to heal me and make me whole. Today is my testimony of that. Today is a celebration of what God has done and what He will do through our marriage!!
God did the beautiful work of redemption. Heather was satisfied in Him, but then, God in all his glory and grace gave her a husband to share the rest of her journey.
Our family loves Matt so much and I am so excited for the two of them. “Happily Ever After” was a theme of the wedding and the day truly was like a fairytale. My sister looked like a beautiful princess and her prince could not love her more.
I don’t have all the pictures from the wedding. I’ll let the professionals share all the pictures when they’re ready.
However, Heather’s father-in-law put together the gathered pictures we have and put it against the song that Matt’s twin sister Angie sang during the ceremony, a song by Matthew West called “When I Say I Do”.
Heather and Matt, congratulations again and we love you!
The Tollison Wedding is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
After everything began happening with the feathers in August, I determined very quickly that I wanted to commemorate what God was doing (and still is) in some way. We’ve talked about putting some of the feathers in a shadow box. I found my feather pillow at Pottery Barn. I realizd I have a feather wreath that’s been hanging in my kitchen for years. I’ve put some of the larger feathers in the base of a glass lamp we have. I guess what I’m saying is I love marrying the decorations in my home with the feathers as a reminder of His work all around us.
Enter Arin with TrueCotton. I first met Arin after our daughters became fast friends in school. In the following year, I watched as she launched her business TrueCotton. Arin paints ridiculously amazing pieces with watercolor that incorporate Scripture.
In fact, her work is currently being featured in the SheReadsTruth 28-day Advent Book.
So I was scrolling through her Instagram feed one day last month and realized what a perfect combination our feathers, Psalm 91:4 and her work would be.
Quickly after contacting her, Arin agreed to paint a commissioned piece and EEEKKKK, here it is! I love it so much!
I have the original 11×14 piece and can’t wait to get a frame and put it in a special place in our home.
I love that the colors she choose–without any direction from me–fit perfectly in just about any room in our house. And when I went to pick up the print from her house, I happened to have a feather in my van and it was almost an exact replica of the one in the middle.
And the amazing news is she made prints in several sizes available to you in her etsy shop! Head over here if you want a print of it too. And check out her other pieces. They really are so beautiful.
Arin also agreed to do a little Q&A with me on how she started painting, how TrueCotton started, where her inspiration comes from and tips on starting to paint on your own.
I’m fascinated by people who can draw and paint. How did painting start for you?
I grew up in a creative household with two artists for parents. My mom did stained-glass windows & oil paintings. My dad a blacksmith & watercolor artist.
I took a few drawing classes as a child. I took visual art classes all throughout school, & into college. I have a degree in Interior Architecture….What I did mostly….was doodle. The pages of notebooks & binders and book covers were covered in doodles. I would say though that my passion for it didn’t become clear until I was four-deep in motherhood.
How did True Cotton start?
I officially launched TrueCotton last fall.
3 years prior was when I realized that my heart needed to absorb ‘truth’ differently. As a mother of 3 at the time, and pregnant with our fourth, we were in the midst of selling our house & trying to move to Fort Mill. 14 months, 64 showings & another ‘tiny’ later, we finally moved. The season of wait for me was a hard, quiet, but rich.
As any new mother knows, the fatigue is overwhelming as you take care of a new baby and other children. There are little to no moments of rest, or down time…and there was absolutely no time alone. Sitting down to read scripture or pray resulted in me, asleep. So in those few quiet moments I would choose a verse & just started picking up my pencil. So last fall I felt like it was time to launch. Weeks of names & sketches landed me on TrueCotton.
Almost all of the words I paint are Biblical Truth=TRUE
‘To Cotton’ something means to grasp or understand….& I also paint on 90-100% cold pressed cotton rag watercolor paper!
You mix Scripture and art in your paintings. Does each one have a story or how do you pick the Scripture and art combination?
Each piece is very different for me. The scripture typically comes from my own personal study. There are mornings that I am in a particular mood to do calligraphy instead of paint, or I choose to use a Sharpie instead of a brush. Every now and then I will see color combinations or dream of a design, but mostly I sit & begin to draw. There are days I don’t paint at all. I have learned not to force it, to not feel controlled to create, that is a place that brings me life & joy. The last several months I have been doing a lot of ‘imperatives'; ‘be thankful’, ‘be free’, ‘be still’. I love that as I step back from these, this is a sweet place of worship for my heart, a place that God lays down truth for my hands to create and my heart to absorb.
If someone wanted to start, what recommendations do you have? Any online classes? What materials would you need?
My recommendations are just to start drawing. Draw fruit, draw flowers, draw creatures, buy a beginner watercolor set. The hardest part is to start. We have a family rule about art, ‘There are no mistakes in art’! The only way you can know who you are as an artist is to start drawing. Be original, don’t copy & don’t compare. I feel very strongly that we are all created to mirror The Creator. God didn’t design you to mimic someone else, he design you to be YOU. You will be good at some things someone else won’t. You will master something they struggle with. My art has changed even just in the last 6 months. The more I paint & draw, the more comfortable I become to create without boundaries. For materials I have to send you to my most favorite store, Cheap Joes. Hands down the best paper, paint & brushes! I use nothing else!
Thank you, so much, Arin!
Isn’t wonderful to see how God blesses us all with so many different talents to be used for his glory? Head over to her shop and check it all out! I think these would make wonderful, unique Christmas presents.
Five Feathers, The Print is a post from: Amy J. Bennett