Monday, December 30, 2013

Advent Season and How We Celebrated

Christmas seemed to come and go this year. The most wonderful time of the year flew by and it makes me so sad in a way but we did enjoy it and maybe even a little more so this year than in years past.

Usually, we are SO busy in the Advent season that we don't have time to stop long enough to really take in the sights, sounds, and wonder of everything around us...much less have the time to ponder over the Christmas story each night leading up to Christmas Day.

This year was different though. Since I had my reconstruction just a few weeks ago, I had no choice but to take it easy this holiday season. I couldn't run around like a crazy mom. I couldn't volunteer at the school at every turn. I couldn't bake like years past because of Chloe's awful allergies. I couldn't be all pinterest-y crafty because my energy level just didn't allow for it whatsoever. I HAD TO REST and not do much of anything. And what a blessing it turned out to be!!!

Each day, we were able to focus on ONE thing for the kids to do as they opened their Advent calendar door whether that be watch a Christmas movie together, ride around looking at lights in our PJ's, or playing a board game in front of the Christmas tree. Every night we did out Advent readings together and the kids really learned quite a bit of detail about Isaiah and the prophecy of the coming Messiah, how God was silent for 400 years, how Advent is actually a season a waiting and that symbolizes the people waiting on the Messiah to come, and then finally Jesus being born and the details surrounding it.

We also did get into the fun of Christmas with our Elf on the Shelf - Ernie. He has been with us for 4 years now. Ernie is a family member and got into lots of mischief this year...but didn't make as many messes as last year. He is learning. Ha!

Chloe and Brody made this "welcome back" sign for Ernie


steering the pirate ship with Brody's American boy doll, Charles


Ernie added a self portrait to my wall of portraits

bath time


roasting mini marshmallows in the fire place


in the Nativity this morning and brought this awesome book with him. It's Santa telling the Christmas story and is refreshing to see it from Santa's point of view.


Ernie got into the kids candy bag...and then we had no choice but to throw that junk out!!!


My parents came to visit and help out while I was in the hospital so before I went in for surgery, we gave them their Christmas gift... tickets to the Radio City Rockettes! It was such a fun evening. We walked around the Opryland Hotel for a while before the show and enjoyed those sights first. My dad had his picture made with Mrs. Claus. If you know him, this doesn't surprise you at all :) And Chloe talked to Santa. Brody passed on that - he still isn't a fan of sitting on Santa's lap.





Looking in awe at the big tree at Opryland


My dad (Op-Op) and Mrs Claus






And then Christmas morning came! Gifts galore, fun to be had, rest and time together just the 4 of us. It was nice. We even broke away from the typical Christmas meal and just went to Waffle House for a late lunch/early dinner. Everyone loved it and there were no leftovers to waste. And shockingly, there were several other small families there having their Christmas meals too!

Santa gifts for Brody


Santa gifts for Chloe


Goodbye letter from Ernie - our elf on the shelf





Thanks for the milk and cookies!


going through her stocking and shocked that Santa knows her
 food allergies and brought candy she can eat








pure joy on seeing her Santa loot











thanking each other for the gifts they gave one another








her Rebel pink Nerf gun. It's payback time now



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas News From Team Blevins 4.0

Team Blevins 4.0 has some exciting news to share and what a perfect time of year to let you all in on what we have been treasuring in our hearts for quite some time now. We are following God's lead as we enter this new phase of life and choosing to trust instead of fear the unknowns knowing that God will provide. First though, a little background...

David and I knew from the time we were engaged that we wanted to have a large family...large to us is 3-4 children. Things were going well in the kid department until right after Brody (aka Blevins 2.0) was born. When he was 4 months old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Honestly, at the time, we didn't think a thing about my fertility. We had a 26 month old at home and a 4 month old. We weren't thinking about another baby anyways. We were still in survival mode from having 2 kids 21 months apart. We did what we had to do at the time which was take the treatments and survive the cancer.

A year ago, after getting through all of that and beginning to really feel better, I started feeling a deep hole in my heart. An ache for another baby. I started talking to my oncologist about it and she agreed to let me come off of my cancer pill at the 5 year mark  (next August) in order to try to get pregnant. I would have to agree to go back on it after the baby was born. And she would give me a year to try. That sounded like a good plan.

But God had other plans. In February, just 3 months after that talk with my oncologist, I ended up in the hospital with a huge kidney stone and a surgery. The CT scan that showed the stone, also revealed a large mass on my ovary. Just by looking at it, there was no way to tell if it was cancerous or not, but some of the characteristics of it leaned towards it being so. After discussions with both my gynecologist and oncologist everyone agreed that I should have a hysterectomy because the breast cancer pill I am on causes uterine cancer. So, after a lot of prayer, tears and finally a peace about it, that's what happened. I had a total hysterectomy at 35 years old...taking away my last chance of ever having another baby of my own. I was secretly devastated. Many people didn't understand that feeling though given that I have a boy and a girl. They don't have to understand it though. It's okay... God gives us all different wants and desires. Ones that line up with His heart if we are seeking Him I believe.

But again, God had plans to redeem the devastation I felt. Just several months later, David and I traveled to Ethiopia for missions and while there, he birthed a passion in my heart that I never knew really existed for me and my family. International adoption. I had always considered adoption eventually, but assumed it would be domestic. However, when God enters the picture he takes your plans and vision and twists it into His plan to make it perfect. After spending 10 days in country with the women and children of Ethiopia I knew how we would grow our family. I knew that God was calling our family to adopt from Ethiopia. I knew that our child would be a rescued orphan that would really rescue us from our selfishness of first world-ness. I knew that our child was already growing in our hearts instead of my belly and that that love would continue to grow the closer and closer we got to meeting him or her.

Chloe and Brody know that they are going to be getting a baby from Ethiopia who will be born in mommy and daddy's hearts...and their hearts. They know that it may be a while before we get to meet our newest little one and they are very excited it. My children already have a heart for Ethiopia from seeing our pictures and hearing us talk about it.

You all can have a part in our journey to adoption also. This is your chance to jump on board and partner with Team Blevins 4.0 and help us to become Team Blevins 5.0
We have decided to sell these awesome hand-made clay bands from MudLove to jump start our fundraising efforts. I have one and I LOVE it!!!





For each one purchased, the company donates 20% of its sales towards clean water in Africa. So it's a bonus buy... it helps us get our baby home and helps the people of Africa. You can also partner with us and sell them  to your friends and family. If you can sell 10 or more for us, you can have yours for FREE!!!  And have your friends sell them to their friends. Ah, the circle could go on and on and on! They make great gifts to!

So here is how it works:
1. The paypal button is on the side of my blog. You can pay there or pay in cash. If you want to order more than 1 bracelet, just indicate that in the amount you pay as there is no quantity selection. 
2. If you choose to pay in cash, please send an email to BlevinsAdoption@gmail.com so that we can meet up.
3. If you choose to pay via paypal and would like to save me some shipping costs, email me and let me know where to deliver your bracelet to.
4. The band colors will vary but if you have a first or second choice in colors, please indicate that in the message section of the paypal invoice or in the email that you send. I will do my very best to honor all color requests!
5. If you have any other questions, please email me! All adoption related things from here on out will be handled at BlevinsAdoption@gmail.com
6. If you would like to partner with us and sell to your friends and family, get your list of 10 people and their costs up front. Then turn it all in at the same time. That is how I will know it is all from you and you will get your free bracelet.

We are soooo excited yet nervous about this venture! Clearly this is way out of our comfort zone and we have no idea what we are doing. But, we are seeking wise council and just trusting God to lead us every single step of the way. Stay tuned as we work hard, pray hard, and bring our baby home...and join us in praying for our family as we go through this process!