have i mentioned how thankful i am that bina is two? i find myself delighting in her so much lately. i am so thankful for sweet moments. the opportunity to come close to this sweet girl god has entrusted to me and david as she grows and becomes a bigger little human every day. she erupts with laughter, and she makes me erupt with laughter. i am so excited to see her mature into the fullness of how god made her. she is a treasure.
on sunday she wore her dress made by her great grandma. so. much. love.
after church we stopped by a garage sale in our neighborhood and i picked up a changing pad and cover, the last item i needed to complete the nursery. bina wanted to take it for a spin to make sure it was safe for a real baby.
the next morning she enjoyed sitting in her garage sale find - her new folding chair. with all the things, of course. mama's purse, her baby doll's diaper bag, and my umbrella.
we discovered the wonderful world of playdough this week. playdough, where have you been all my life. she was entertained for a WHOLE. HOUR. miracle dough from the hands of god.
one of her favorite things to do is put on my shoes and walk around the house. and also torment bella on doggie bed rest the last two weeks.
time for nap, bunny...
...and bina. this was literally right before nap time. i love her so much.
yesterday she attacked my red geraniums as i was replanting some bulbs. hence, the pants-less state.
this morning after she woke she decided to snuggle with bunny and baby on the pillow in the kitchen. i just want to squeeze her. i'm constantly dying of cuteness overload this week.
time to eat breakfast, baby! she had a meltdown when i informed her that no, she could not feed her baby doll her oatmeal. i offered her bowl of play cheerios and a spoon and she threw it on the floor. welp. i tried.
we are so happy to have bella back to health. bina missed her play buddy.
little girl with a big water bottle. and a space cadet stare.
and bella. open. this. now. please.
it's been a good week. i found myself exploding with love for my house this week. it's been cooler and so we've had the windows open. it feels so nice to have a cool breeze through the house. a true michigan summer. i stepped on creaky floors upstairs and loved them because they're mine. i love. this. house. i look forward to filling up the rooms with little people. i am enjoying my time with bina now, and i am also eagerly anticipating the day when there is a tiny baby to inhabit the nursery i've been designing for months. i don't know when exactly that will be, but god knows. and i trust in him and his timing.
i just love it when god speaks to me about something and then weaves it into my life over and over and over again. affirmation that i'm hearing him right. that happened again this week.
the first quit of the emotionally healthy woman study i did this past spring is "quit caring about what other people think." this has been revolutionary for me. not only has it opened my eyes to just how often i DO care about what other people think, but it has also shown me how much what i think about other people doesn't matter. i'm responsible for me. period. and the only opinion i care about is god's. but i'm realizing how often that is not true (that i only care about god's opinion) and how much work i need to do for it to become true. it starts with finding my identity in jesus. knowing his love that is unconditional and unchanging. he created me with my personality and he delights in it. my value doesn't come from how i look, how i dress, how many friends i have, my socio-economic status, my degrees, my career, my parenting skills (or lack thereof). i have value because god made me in his image for good things. for a purpose. i am not a mistake. my personality is not a mistake. i AM broken. but i am not a mistake and i have value to god.
this past weekend david and i made our adoption family profile video. i modeled the content after the photo book i made for the same purpose. i remembered how when i first drafted our birthparent letter (which goes in the first page of the photo book), i wanted to include what i did before becoming a stay at home mom. because i wanted those who read this letter to know i was more than "just" a stay at home mom. i wanted my last full title in there: graduate program coordinator for the department of biomedical engineering at the university of texas at austin. my dream job at the time. i had a window office all to myself. i had arrived. i had value. and i needed whoever read my letter to know that too. because i am a completely broken human being still very much caught up in what others think about me. especially when i'm trying to sell myself and my family to birthparents who are in the process of choosing the family with whom they want to place their child.
long story short, i took out my lengthy last job title and decided to focus on who i am and what i am doing right now. because my identity is not wrapped up in my accomplishments before motherhood. it doesn't matter. i can find contentment and peace in knowing that i am loved and valued by god. and i trust that he will match us with the birthparents he wills. my letter, my photo book, my video. they don't matter so much. sure, i spent a ton of time on them because i really enjoy doing those things. but at the end of the day, my letter, book, or video don't make the decision. i serve a big god in the business of redeeming all things. and somehow i believe he is going to take a broken situation and bring two families together that probably would not have met otherwise. and make one big, broken family that can be redeemed by god alone. it's not about me. it's not about my accomplishments or lack thereof. and who decides what an accomplishment is, anyways? by whose standards do we measure our accomplishments? i have to be careful to measure mine by the quality of my personal relationship with god. because it's about HIM. his plans. his glory. not mine. and the more fully i am surrendered to him, the more fully he can show his glory through me.
i was listening to a jamie ivey happy hour podcast with sarah harmeyer talking about sarah's heart to gather people around her table. once she invited all of her neighbors for a potluck dinner, having no idea how many might show. 90 people came. NINETY. PEOPLE. that really spoke to me. how many would come if we. just. ASKED. i'm an initiator. i initiate meetings of friends, dinners, play dates, girls night, prayer groups. sometimes i get tired of initiating and feel like if i didn't initiate then maybe nothing would happen and that makes me sad. it makes me feel insecure. do people not want to be around me if i don't ask them to be? asking that question, feeling insecure - both of these things make others responsible for my emotional well-being. and that is sin. S. I. N. learned that nugget from the emotionally healthy spirituality studies and also scream free parenting. only i am responsible for my emotional well-being. i cannot put that on other human beings. the only one that can fulfill me is god. and he is perfect, unchanging. putting that responsibility on another human or humans is unfair to both them and me. because it is placing an expectation on them that sets them up for failure. sets me up for failure. my worth, my value, my identity are found in god alone.
this realization has helped me grow in knowledge of myself and my wants and desires, the passions and dreams god has placed in me. the personality and gifts he has given me. i am an initiator. it's not a burden, it's a gift. and i have to use it! and keep using it! even when i get tired. i'm learning to embrace the fullness of how god created me.
in a similar vein, god has really been speaking to me lately about what it means to be made in his image. i have to remember this often when thinking about those i struggle with relationally. those i disagree with. those who do things differently than i would do. everyone has value because they are made in the image of god. (side note: this has also led me to realize "christian" things and people aren't the only ones who have anything of value to add regarding life and eternity - because we are all made in his image, as his image bearers we all have intrinsic value and something to offer, whether or not we have a personal relationship with god). seeing everyone as made in god's image makes me want to strike up conversations with strangers i encounter, because they're made in his image and have value. like yesterday i went to a mops play group. at one point bina wanted to go to the swings. because she wanted to swing we ended up being in the same place as these other two little girls, and then a third around bina's age, and then their mom (who was not with the mops group play date). long story short, i started talking to the mom (i love how motherhood gives us all this shared experience) and connected her with a girl in the mops group play date because this mom is taking prerequisites for dental hygiene school and one of the moms in the group is a dental hygienist. they connected and now the mom i met is hoping to shadow the dental hygienist for part of her training. i was actually just visiting this mops group because they're launching an evening group at my church this fall, and i'm sticking with my morning group through a different church. but god used me to connect the mom i met with the info i knew and bring her into the community. this may seem insignificant, but i felt so blessed to be used by god like that. it was so sweet to me. how kind our god is. i was willing to come close to this mom at the park, and god used it to create connections i hadn't anticipated.
last night david and i attended a talk by dr john perkins. it was amazing. we met at a baptist church in a neighborhood of detroit 20 minutes away from our house. i didn't know what to expect regarding turnout, but i was pleasantly surprised to find a gym full of people. and we were not the only caucasian americans present. i was hoping this would be the case as the talk was about racial reconciliation. dr perkins is 87 years old. he sat in a chair up on a platform with an ear mic with two other men in chairs, one on either side of him. as he talked he often got so excited that he would start to come up out of his chair, dropping the box to his ear mic to the ground which then yanked the mic off his ear. the men on either side of him were there to keep him on track, and to keep him from falling out of his chair. i loved it. his story was both heartbreaking and empowering. he spoke the gospel of reconciliation. more than integration, which he described as the time period between when the first black moved into an area and the last white moved out. he echoed the themes that god has been speaking to me lately. he spoke of being made in the image of god. of oneness, the vital importance and necessity of coming close. about brokenness. about repentance. and about listening. all of his message reverberated in my heart. i met some really neat people at the talk and will be meeting with some of them soon. i was so encouraged to hear the themes spoken through dr perkins and his ministry of reconciliation, themes that god has been speaking to me individually. i am passionate about racial reconciliation and am in the very beginning stages of educating myself regarding it and the history of african americans. the prospect of soon having a child of color in our home has kicked me into high gear and made this a top priority for me. because i do not want to raise a child of color to be white. each person was created in the image of god. unique. for a purpose. and i want to raise my child, if god so chooses to entrust me with one, to be the fullness of how god created him or her. not me. not my culture. not my legacy. god's. because it's not about me. it's bigger than me, and it's NOT about me. it's about my big big god with a big big plan to redeem all things and glorify his name in the process. it's about raising up children to be who god created them to be. facilitating growth of the unique personality god gave them. no two are exactly the same. they are all unique. all valuable just as god made them.
soon i will be meeting with one of the women i met at the dr. perkins event. we will go to the african american museum and "talk and go over the plans that god is placing in our hearts," as she said in an email. i was thrilled when she suggested this and i cannot wait to meet with her! i thank god for how he crosses my path with others. so many opportunities right in front of me to connect, if only i open my eyes and take the anxious step to say "hi, my name is brittain." use that gift of initiation i have. use it boldly. it's time to come close. come close to the heart of god, come close to those made in his image. take the time to ask questions and truly TRULY listen. hear. and see god work his good for his glory. i'm so thankful i get to be a part of this work.