Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How blessed you will be {Praying for Oklahoma}

By now, I'm sure you've all seen the news footage of the devastating storms that ripped through Oklahoma Sunday in to Monday. And I'm sure we've all cried a few heartbreaking tears trying to imagine what people there are experiencing. Our minds can't even come close to comprehending devastation like this. Hearts around the country and the world are aching for all those affected.

This morning I saw a news report about a family sifting through what was left of their home and property that was destroyed in Sunday's tornado just outside of Shawnee, OK. There was a photo that someone had snapped from the debris - a photo of a tattered bible opened to Isaiah 32. The news story focused on Isaiah 32:2 which reads, "Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm". After sitting and thinking about this for a bit, I opened up my bible to Isaiah 32 and read the verse for myself. 

Isaiah 32 is about The Kingdom of Righteousness. I kept reading a bit further in the chapter and was overwhelmed with the power of this passage...especially given the circumstances:
"17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
    and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be"
 As we continue to see the horrendous imagery from the storms and hear the life-altering stories from those who survived and those who lost loved ones, this passage screams out HOPE to all who believe in HIM and have put their trust in Him.

While there are no words that can take away the hurt, and feelings of helplessness and insecurity the victims are experiencing right now, the best thing we can do as a body of believers is pray that each person affected is able to find and know the only source that can provide true peace. That bible wasn't opened up to this passage through sheer coincidence. And while it's easy for those of us from afar to say the people who survived are blessed, this passage reminds us that this is our temporary home – the eternal homes for those who have put their faith in Him will be filled with peace and confidence forever. How blessed we will be.

Praying for Oklahoma.

Want to help? {besides through prayer}
  •  Text FOOD to 32333 to donate $10 to the OKC food bank
  •  Text REDCROSS to 90999 gives $10 to disaster relief
  •  Text “STORM” to 80888 to make $10 donation thru Salvation Army


Friday, May 17, 2013

Good understanding

The other morning at the bus stop I had a conversation with my friend Kelly after the kids got on the bus. We both have boys that are the same age {who are practically connected at the hip}, and we were talking about how alarming and disheartening it is to see some of the little peers and friends our boys are meeting – specifically their lack of respect and understanding of what is good and appropriate.  Now I'm not going to pretend that I was the perfect child...or that my 7-year-old doesn't have a sassy little mouth just like many of his peers. But what makes my heart sad is that so often today we see kids who aren't really taught any sort of morality. They learn what's "appropriate" by whatever Disney show happens to be on that afternoon. It's becoming more and more evident that many parents aren't taking the time to sit down and teach their kids what is right and wrong – both in the way they use their words and how they treat/interact with others. All you have to do is sit back and watch a group of kids play for a few minutes to see what I'm talking about. I feel like the "accepted" behavior today is completely self-centered – it's all about ME, forget about everyone else. And yes, I know I probably sound like an old-fashioned grandma complaining about how things aren't like they used to be, but it's true.

This morning as I was having my quiet time, I came across a verse in Proverbs that struck me:

"Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard."
Proverbs 13:15

I was in this passage after a prompting from one of my daughters Special Ed teachers, and this verse jumped out at me. Just a couple of nights ago, I laid with my son at bedtime talking about everything under the sun. One of the things we talked about was that loving Jesus and living for Him isn't something that some people understand the importance of, and often times you may get teased or made fun of when others find out you do understand the importance. I was trying to stress to my little guy that it really doesn't matter what other people think or say because God knows our hearts and HE will watch over us and take care of us no matter what. As we talked more about this I explained that following Jesus definitely isn't going to be the most popular thing to do at school especially, but other people will see that there's something different about us if we live our lives based on what His word says and if we're good friends to others. It's okay to be different...even if doing your own thing is looked at as being weird by everyone else. After listening for a few minutes, my little guy piped up, "Yeah, but Mom, I already have Jesus in my heart and I tell people that!" I smiled, and we talked a little more about how it's so important for us to be good friends to others and to choose good friends to be around. We talked a bit more about how we need to choose friends who are respectful, who think before they speak, and who are kind to others.

I often feel like I'm a bit of a control freak over what friends my kids spend time with, and I'm becoming even more diligent in making sure I know these kids {and their families}. Part of my motivation stems from wanting to be sure that friends my son plays with are respectful and understanding towards our daughter and her special needs. If there's one thing that instantly turns me off to a friend my son has over to play – it's them mocking or teasing our daughter. I simply won't stand for it. And I'm fairly certain that the verse from Proverbs that I shared is referencing good understanding in a variety of areas – not just good understanding of the bible. This passage can be applied to pretty much every situation we encounter. If we invest the time to learn more, we'll better understand the situation, the person, the circumstances – whatever it may be, then we can appropriately respond.

We've been blessed with several wonderful little boys that my son plays with who also have a tender heart towards Peyton and others with special needs...and that makes my heart swell seeing these friends have a good understanding of the importance of giving everyone a chance. It also tells me a lot about the type of home they're being raised in. My biggest prayer for my children is that they will "get it", that they'll have a good understanding of what matters in this short life as they approach their relationship with Christ, their relationship with parents, and their relationship with friends and others they come in contact with. I hope this scripture passage makes you stop and think like it made me stop and think! Have a blessed day.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Adoption Announcements

Happy Monday everyone!  This post will be short and sweet, but we're excited to share with you a few of our new adoption announcements!! These have been a while in the making {in other words, they've been stuck in my brain for a while but there hasn't been time to get them into a digital format} and there are plenty more comin'!

Do you know someone who has recently adopted or is in the process of adopting? Be sure to tell them about Red Letter Ink's new adoption announcements...and don't forget, for the month of May a portion of sales are going to support The Sparrow Fund - and adoption support & grant organization that's doing great things!


Friday, May 10, 2013

A Poem for Mom

Okay, well now that I've shown my true colors declaring I want to spend Mother's Day ALONE, I figured I'd share with you something sweet...that makes celebrating Mother's Day WITH your kids and husband special. But as usual, my storytelling sometimes rambling self has to give you a little background info first.

Let's go back to December of 2004. My hubby and I were scrambling one Sunday morning trying to get our 7 month old daughter ready before we left for the 30 minute drive to church. We were running late...and it was snowing. As we drove out of our driveway, the stress level in the car was ridiculous. There was no way we'd get to church on time...or even close to on time. As we pulled to the stop sign heading out of our neighborhood, we saw a sign that read "NorthRidge Fellowship - Rogers, MN • Sundays @ 9am". Rogers is like 10 minutes from our house. Chad and I both looked at each other and said, "Let's give it a try". We'd been talking for quite some time about finding a church closer to home once we had kids so that they could have friends from church in the neighborhood and so the kids could be a part of the children and youth programs during the week once they were older. But we weren't expecting anything super fantastic this Sunday morning - other than being able to make it to church {somewhere} on time.

As we pulled in to the parking lot, we quickly got Peyton out of the car and went in. We were the first ones in the sanctuary {which we soon learned was normal for NorthRidge :)}. All of the sudden we hear a voice say, "MR. LIBBY?!". We turned around and here was a girl from the 4th grade class Chad had long-term subbed in when he was first out of college prior to getting his first teaching job. As we talked with her, we found out her dad was the pastor. Craziness. The service started and in between the worship time and the sermon there was a quick meet & greet time. A couple about our age who were sitting in front of us turned around and introduced themselves – Shane and Emily...and their 9 month old daughter, Maren. They seemed very nice, but we only had a couple quick minutes to chat. The sermon was incredible, and after church we met a few more people. Then that young couple came back over and talked with us again. We had an instant connection with them...so much so, that as we shared with them that we were looking for a church closer to home and they mentioned they were having small group that evening, we said, "Awesome, we'll be there!". On the FIRST DAY we'd met them. That's right. We went to their house...with strangers. Oddly enough, though, we felt right at home – and after that night, it was clear that God had placed that sign right outside our neighborhood because that's right where He had wanted us...at NorthRidge Fellowship.

Fast forward about a year, we were dropping off our daughter at church for the youth babysitting night and were planning to double-date with Shane and Emily. We'd planned to carpool, so as Shane pulled the carseat out of their back seat to make room for Emily and I, he said, "Pretty soon we'll need TWO of these things". Chad and I looked at each other and said, "No way, us too!". We were both expecting baby #2 within a few weeks of each other. They ended up both being boys...born 8 days apart. Perfect. Our families were so closely-knit, it was wonderful.

Now fast forward to a couple years later, Emily was expecting baby #3 any day {and no, sorry - 2 was good for me!}. I remember the evening very vividly. We were at my inlaws just getting ready to sit down to dinner when Chad's cell phone rang. It was Shane. He was in a panic and asked Chad to come to the hospital IMMEDIATELY. All I got from Chad before he ran out the door was that Emily was in labor and something was wrong. So as he frantically drove to be with Shane, we prayed at the dinner table that God would protect Emily and the baby...then I sat anxiously waiting to hear from Chad. Turned out Emily's water had broken and they ran in to every possible delay on their way to the hospital {traffic lights, TRAINS, you name it - they ran in to it}. By the time they got to the hospital, Shane pulled in to the ER bay, left his truck there and ran in to get someone to help Emily. When they got Em to a room and checked her out they suddenly yanked all of the tubes and cords out of the wall and rushed Emily out of the room, telling Shane, "You probably want to call someone to be with you". And the person he chose to call was Chad. Sweet Jesse was born after an emergency c-section and everyone ended up being ok, but boy, what an entry into the world this little man had!

As you can see, we've got quite the history with Shane, Emily, Maren, Hunter and Jesse! Spending time together as families is so easy...and fun, with lots of laughs. So when Shane contacted me a couple weeks back asking if I'd help him put together a special birthday/Mother's Day gift for Emily I was SUPER excited. He said their daughter Maren had written a poem about moms and he wanted to find a nice way to display it and frame it. What a sweet, sweet poem Maren wrote...heck, I teared up reading it! I put together a print using Maren's poem as the focal point, and I decided that I'd make it more of a "family" print for them. So I put a monogram on it and then incorporated photos of the kids that Shane had provided. When the design was done I was so excited to send it over to show Shane! He loved it and said he was taking the kids frame shopping the next day. I'm sure it was a special moment for their family when Emily opened her present and the kids {and Shane} were able to watch the look on her face! What a privilege to be able to put something together that will now hang prominently on the wall in their home. I hope you enjoyed your gift, Em, and I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day – you're amazing! Thank you for being a sweet friend, and for not being afraid to invite the strangers in the pew behind you into your home that Sunday morning – love you guys and we're so thankful that God has brought our families together!

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.
• Psalm 127:3 •


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Celebrating Mom

So, it's here again. Mother's Day. Just as with Valentine's Day, I have mixed feelings about this "holiday". Probably because it seems silly to recognize the sacrifice and selflessness of {most} moms ONE day out of the year, then the remaining 364 days it's just "their job" to keep it all together. I mean, c'mon. Show us moms a 'lil love here.

But alas, Mother's Day is just a few short days away...so I'm going to let you in a 'lil secret about what I really want for Mother's Day. Let me just apologize in advance to anyone who I might offend or who thinks I'm ungrateful.  I truly do love my kids & family. Here goes...

Sometimes I think people have a very skewed view on what moms really do. Especially stay-at-home moms {which I am not technically...only part-time}. It's a tough job. Children unfortunately don't come with instruction manuals. And each kid requires different levels of our time, energy, attention, and nurturing. Let's just be honest, motherhood is a thankless job. You wipe noses, butts, messy faces, then you switch gears to laundry, dishes, vacuuming. There's always someone who wants something or isn't happy. And it never fails - that rare moment when you feel like you've got everything under control quickly vanishes as someone spills their glass of chocolate milk all over the stack of bills and important papers on the counter as someone else is yelling they need more snack to eat AND they have to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW, which often means it's already too late. That's a pretty mild scenario. Then there are the middle-of-the-night, "Mom, I don't know how, but my sheets got all wet...but I know I didn't have an accident because I'm big now", or, "My stomach is hot... ", {followed by projectile vomiting on the carpet}, or, "Mom, I only used one piece of toilet paper, but now there's water on the floor in the bathroom" {envision the sound of gushing water} ... it's always something. Moms play the role of nurse, personal chef, custodian, housekeeper/maid, accountant {at least in my case}, event/party planner, personal shopper, scheduler, organizer, groundskeeper, waitress, dietician, meal planner, referee, household inventory manager, keeper of the peace, and about a million others I don't have time to list. Bottom line, Mom's are rock stars – even if none of us ever feel like it.

Now, on to the question everyone's been searching for an answer to – how does one celebrate a true rock star? The media would lead you to believe the best way is by giving flowers {that mom has to watch DIE, then clean up the mess they leave while in the process of DYING}, or a box of chocolates {that only adds to our waistline that we're all trying to trim down}, or a whopper gift basket full of lotions/body scrubs/sleep masks/candles {to add to our overflowing collection that's sitting in the cupboard}, or taking mom to a luxurious mile long brunch buffet {where mom ends up trying to carry 5 plates at once for her AND the kids, then has to try and clean syrup and strawberry sauce off of the kid's church clothes}, or a day at the spa {which some may enjoy, but many of us would spend the day sick thinking about how much money was spent for a day filled with awkward encounters fending off people who shouldn't have their hands there}. The commercials we see of perfectly dressed smiling children bringing their ever-so-neatly-put-together mom diamond jewelry on a silver tray are falsehoods. Pure lies. Sorry if that just burst anyone's bubble. Maybe I'm just a freakish alien mom with a heart of stone from outer space, but here's what I'd really enjoy and genuinely appreciate for Mother's day...

A day here ALONE {actually, I have issues being by myself...probably stems from being a twin, so maybe with my own Mom and a couple of close girlfriends and/or sister-in-laws} –

sipping coffee in front of the fireplace, basking in the sunshine in a quiet house {cabin}...

without hearing fighting...

or hearing someone say "Mom!"...

or having to help someone in the bathroom...

or having to get someone a snack/refill...

or having to cook a meal for everyone...

or do another load of laundry...

or frantically drive to pick someone up somewhere so we can get to the next "thing"...

Basically, I just want a day to myself. No kids. No husband. No clients. No dog. No lunch-packing. No cell service. No laundry. No meal planning. No tie-tying {yes, that one is for you, dear}. No obligations. No email. No schedule. Simply a day to sit still with a good book, some good tunes, and great company, enjoying the beauty of God's creation. That's it. Wouldn't cost a thing {besides dad's sanity}.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many woman do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:26-31 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms. May you enjoy a relaxing day, and may you remember that you really are a rock star who has the most difficult yet most rewarding job in the world!

P.S. I wouldn't mind this if someone felt the need to physically buy me a gift, I guess. ;)


Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Nine years ago today was a pretty fantastic day. I gave birth to the sweetest girl on earth, Miss Peyton Grace. She didn't come easy or willingly {or without complications}, but all 10 lbs. 4 oz. of her was finally here after waiting 42+ very looooong weeks. She was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I spent my first Mother's Day in the hospital snuggled up with the best gift ever, a precious new baby girl. Knowing what I know now, I think back to how young and naive I was. I had NO idea what God had in store for us. And boy, have these last nine years been a ride. But I'm blessed to say that even though the past nine years have had their ups and downs, God has been right there along side us the WHOLE time.

This morning as I walked Miss Peyton in to school with her birthday treats, our most favorite SPED teacher had just pulled in to the parking lot. I heard someone hollering, "Wait up - I wanna walk in with my two favorite girls!". As she reached us and I watched her interact with my sweet girl, my heart swelled, and I was reminded once again just how incredibly blessed we are. This teacher has become so dear to our family, and it absolutely blows my mind to look back and see all of the wonderful people God has placed in our lives to come alongside and support us. As we walked down the hallway, this teacher turned and asked me how work was going...then she asked me something else, "Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all that you're juggling?" I had hoped it wasn't that obvious, but I briefly told her with a smile, "Um, YEAH, all the time...!". Then she said in the calmest voice with a lovely smile on her face, "But aren't we blessed to know the Lord's right there with us and has the ability to help us focus and keep calm in those moments?". Talk about a reminder slapping you upside the face. YES. We are so very blessed to have Him with us even in those moments where we feel like we're going to crash and burn. He's there. And He's got everything under control...even if we feel completely out of control.

I can't even tell you how many times over the course of the past nine years I've felt as though I just wanted to crawl into a hole and give up. There have been many...too many to count. I often look at my week and go, "Okay...Special Olympics practice on Monday, occupational therapy on Tuesday, horse therapy and speech therapy on Wednesday, music therapy on Thursday...then Carson has baseball Tuesday & Thursday, and football camp on Saturday...then I've gotta grocery shop, and do our family finances, and catch up on laundry & house chores, and Peyton's got a specialist appointment, and Carson has a dentist appointment and an eye appointment, and three of my Libby Design clients are heading to trade shows next week and need everything ASAP, along with several package designs, posters, logo designs, sales flyers and magazine ads for some other clients, and church t-shirt designs for VBS, and I've got a bunch of Red Letter Ink orders to fill, and I need to figure out Mother's Day gifts, and...I know I'm forgetting something...". But as my dear teacher friend reminded me this morning, HE has everything under control.

So, today I'm going to take a deep breath, I'm going to meet fabulous Special Olympics moms for coffee {a.k.a. therapy for mama}, I'm going to rest in the fact that HE has got my back, and I'm going to celebrate my sweet girl and all that she's brought to our family. Love you, sweet Peyton Grace! We are blessed.

"All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Divine Appointments

Recently I got a call from my sweet friend Heidi with a question, "So, any chance you'd want to help us put together our birth parent letter? We've decided to move forward with adoption #3." Um, YES PLEASE!

Heidi and I met a couple of years ago in sort of a random way. I should clarify, Heidi and I officially met...we kind of had that whole, "yeah, I think I know who they are" thing going on. I vaguely knew who she was through a couple of mutual friends {she was the "girl who cuts my hair" for a couple of friends}, but hadn't ever really stood face-to-face with her and said, "Hi, I'm Aimee....nice to meet you". I was coordinating a Women's Retreat through church and out of the blue, I got a call from Heidi saying, "Hi, we've never met, but I wanna join your group on the women's retreat this weekend." Of course I politely applauded her brave decision to go away for the weekend with a group of random wild church girls she didn't really know, but I didn't think much of it. Well, if there was ever such a thing as a "Divine appointment", that's just what the weekend was for myself and Heidi. We clicked right off the bat. So many similarities, so many matching quirks, it was fantastic. Since that weekend we've continue to grow closer and closer. She's one of the few friends I have who I know I can always count on when I'm having a tough day or am feeling discouraged about something related to my daughter's special needs, etc. And she's shared so much with me surrounding her and Andy's decision to adopt after facing infertility issues over the years. I can honestly say, these types of friendships are few and far between - what a blessing!

{Heidi & I the first weekend we "met"}

Now, back to my story...adoption #3 was officially "in process" for this awesome family. And I was honored to be able to use my gifts as a graphic designer to help them bring home yet another one of God's gifts! Heidi and I sat down and talked through what she wanted to convey through their letter to the potential birth moms. I could barely contain the excitement inside of me as I heard her talk about welcoming a new little one in to their family! I. Love. This. Stuff.

After our talk, I could already visualize in this weird brain of mine how the letter Heidi had written and the photos she'd given me would all come together. I'm pretty sure I sat there at the computer with a big smile on my face for a few hours as I put my crazy thoughts into an actual digital design. When I emailed it over to Heidi, I got an instant text. She was a happy camper...and that made two of us, because every time I look at the design I can't help but smile thinking about the little one God has already chosen for them - another Divine appointment just waiting to happen.

Now to anxiously await the newest addition to the "S" family that God's been preparing... {I'm on pins and needles - SO EXCITING!!!}

P.S. Don't forget - a portion of Red Letter Ink's sales will go to support The Sparrow Fund {and adoptive families} for the month of May.  Perfect time to grab a birthday present, graduation present, bridal shower present, etc.!