Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Julius James

It was time. It was time to add to our family again and the question of "How?" became a regular topic of conversation. The summer after we moved to Petersburg we decided to begin the process to become foster parents. We knew there were many kids in the foster system who needed parents for at least a little while, maybe forever, so we stepped out in faith and started taking classes and filling out paperwork. The process towards becoming foster parents was somewhat painless, though very time consuming.

On the day we received our license in the mail we were offered the opportunity to foster a little boy and his baby sister. We decided we would do that and we welcomed a scared little boy and his sister into our home. They were only with us for 3 days but those 3 days taught me a lot. They taught me that foster care is hard! We, as adults, forget how big and scary the world is for small children. Especially children who have been so abruptly separated from their parents. They do not have the ability to think big picture. Nor do they understand why they can't be with their mom or dad or whomever was taking care of them at the time. Here they are, dropped at the door of a stranger, many times with nothing at all but the clothes on their backs. That little boy cried and cried and cried for his momma and this momma's heart broke for him. When we have our own children (whether through birth or adoption) with whom we have developed a strong bond with it is incredibly difficult to comprehend the intense toll it takes on relationship and psyche to drop everything and become everything to a child, a stranger, who is broken and scared and hurting. It takes hard work, both external and internal. These two little ones were able to go home with their mother and grandmother relatively quickly! I am thankful for that. I was not ready. Abby was not ready. She had her world turned upside down in a hurry that week too.

On this day (April 19) 4 years ago our phone rang again with another possible placement. This time it was for a little 9 month old boy whose case was looking like it would soon be an adoptive placement. When I called James to ask him if he would like to take a 9 month old little boy he said, "Duh!" It wasn't even a question worth considering a no answer. Late in the afternoon a caseworker showed up on our doorstep and dropped of this little bundle of awesomeness.

James and Abby fell in love instantly.

Attachment is a tricky beast. I guarded myself against the hope that this little boy would be mine and it took me a long time to feel like this boy belonged to me and I to him. He was a sweet boy and he loved to snuggle, BUT the spit up. Oh how he spit up. All. The. Time. Fortunately he outgrew that phase when he was 15 months old or so. It took him a while to sit, then crawl and eventually walk. It also took him a while to eat solid food and drink from a cup and learn to talk. Each day he stayed we had the opportunity to love him more. I would like to say we did so perfectly, but who can really ever say they love perfectly. 

Rarely does anything move quickly through the foster care system. We went to court date after court date where nothing ever happened. To protect his story, after all it is his to tell, I can simply say that reunification with his birth family was never an option for him. We eventually made it through all of the court proceedings and began the long process of waiting for the agency to find all his paperwork to finalize his adoption. In November of 2015 he took our last name as his own and James' name as his middle name. It was done. He was officially ours. This little boy we loved so much had a home and a family and a future. 

Julius James is a fantastic little boy. This summer he will be 5 years old. He will start Kindergarten in the fall. His little mind is inquisitive and quite incredible. We call him our little detective. He can remember the smallest detail and notice so many things others around him miss. He has a sensitive heart that this momma is learning to cherish and nurture on a daily basis. He always thinks of his sister first. When we are out and he gets a treat he always wants to get something for Abby too. He is teaching me about grace and forgiveness every moment of everyday whether he needs forgiven or I am the one who needs forgiven. Don't let his tenderness fool you, he can rough and tumble with the best of them. We are headed out to do that now. It's time to pick up my two fantastic challenging children from school. It's too nice to be inside today so we will go celebrate at the park.

God is good. So very good. As we look to add to our family again we are trusting and waiting with eager anticipation for how He will surprise us yet again.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

because of sin….

because of sin… we received a phone call at 5:21 this morning that a friend has passed from this life. sin. or rather the fruits of sin: disease, sickness, death, destruction… They are evil to the core. They stir up an anger inside my spirit that I can’t ignore and can’t understand. Cancer itself is not sin. It is a symptom of a world corrupted by sin.

because of sin… I am a mother. Sin destroyed my little ones birth families to the point that they cannot care for their own children. I am painfully reminded of sin and the effects of sin when I look into their precious faces and know that they have a history I know nothing about. A history of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

because of sin… I sin. I get angry. I’m prideful. I want control. I will suffer on this earth. I will die one day.

BUT JESUS! Before there was sin there was Jesus! How can I dwell on the effects of sin when I know JESUS. When I know the one “who was and is and is to come!” I know the ONE who raises the dead to new life. I know the ONE who heals the broken and forgotten!

because of sin… Why do we become angry and moved to action in the face of injustice…because sin is at its core…we were not made for this world. death is not natural. sin is not natural. We were not created for this.

BUT JESUS!  Knowing we needed freedom to choose HIM, HE created us to make a choice to love him or to leave him. Nothing makes me desire HIM more than when I see sin at its ugliest. When I see death I see sin and my spirit is moved or rather HIS SPIRIT in me is moved because death was never meant to be.  When I see children abandoned and abused HIS SPIRIT in me is moved because that was never meant to be!

BUT JESUS! In me. Through me. Use me JESUS to fight for you in this world of sin. I will PRAISE HIM for a LIVING HOPE! I will PRAISE HIM for HIS REDEMPTION is near! I will PRAISE HIM for the SALVATION of my SOUL.  I will put on my armor and fight this spiritual battle. I will not ignore its reality. I want JESUS. I need JESUS. I CRAVE JESUS. My friend loves JESUS. The pain of her loss is real. It must be felt and HE will GUIDE us through it. HE does that you know. HE allows us to feel the effects of sin. BUT HE IS WITH US AND SHE IS NOW WITH HIM. Her fight is over. She fought for JESUS visibly and valiantly. She has earned her prize… because JESUS. sin no longer has a hold on her….because JESUS!

because of sin… another little one will join our family. JESUS loves the little children and because of HIS LOVE in me I will love this little one with reckless abandon. I will be JESUS in the flesh to this broken little one. Broken no fault of his own, but because of a fallen sinful world. It’s not fair. It’s not right. BUT JESUS IS. JESUS give me strength to be YOUR HANDS and YOUR FEET to YOUR children who come from this broken and sinful world. HEAL their hurts. HEAL their hearts.

BECAUSE OF JESUS… My friend is whole. She is alive. She is with her SAVIOR.
BECAUSE OF JESUS… His little children have found their way to my home so that I can introduce them to the one who will heal their hurts and save their souls.
BECAUSE OF JESUS… sin will never win. The war is won, but the battle rages on.
BECAUSE OF JESUS… I will fight the good fight. I will finish the race.  

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  Ephesians 3:14-21

Monday, June 2, 2014

"June starts on the 1st...."

"June starts on the 1st!?!"

This is an inside joke amongst my parents and my Aunts and Uncles... Evidently a few weeks ago my Aunt was surprised June started on the first. They thought it was hilarious and I know I would have too had I been there. But. I know what she meant. June snuck up on us! Yesterday was June 1st. I'm not sure where the first half of this year has gone, but gone it is. Time is constant. It's one of the few constants in life. It keeps moving at the same pace in the same way. (Though some really really smart people would argue that statement.)

We move too.

Did you know humans never fully experience the present?
"According to one theory, every human being is living at least 80 milliseconds in the past. David Eagleman believes that our consciousness lags behind actual events and that when you think an event occurs, it has already happened before your brain has a chance to create a cohesive picture of the world." A lot of people live life in the past. I watched an episode of Castle once where they had to interact with a man who was stuck in the 70s. Solving the crime involved reorienting everything in the show to trick the man into telling what he knew about an event that happened in the 70s. It was crazy, yet so many people do it in not such a dramatic way. We can't change the past. It's done. It's brought us to the present for better or worse... For worse if we keep trying to live the past. 

How bout this one... We never fully experience the "present" because we're too busy looking to the future. One lie I've allowed myself to believe is the lie that tells me I'm too young to make a difference. I'll do "that" (whatever "that" is) when I'm older. Well. Now I'm older. That excuse no longer has any weight. I've constantly looked ahead, but if I keep looking ahead I'm gonna miss the "present".

Here's another... We never fully experience the "present" because we're too buys engaged in meaningless activities. I have no idea how many hours I've spent sitting in front of the computer or the tv screen mindlessly watching something that has no impact on my life or anybody else. These hours are gone. Hours I could have used to interact with my children and impact them are gone and for what?

So many excuses exist for not experiencing the present...  Time moves. We move through time. We have a past. A present. A future. We all have a story that moves us through the past and into the present to make up our future. What decisions will I make today that impact tomorrow in a positive way? What decisions will I make this morning that determine my steps this afternoon? What do I desire for the future and what can I do today to make that a reality?

The last thing I want to do is stand before my Creator with this life is over and have to explain how I wasted the time I was given. My goal for this year has been to live intentionally. I've succeeded in some areas and not so much in others. I'm a work in progress. I'm thankful for grace. Intentionality is the key to living in the present. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? These two questions will help me live in the present...even if some crazy smart person is right and I'll never fully experience the present as it really happens. :)

Life is short. Time stops for no man. Live intentionally.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Today is Abby's "Gotcha Day"

Abigail Ruth McMillion
8lb 6oz ~ 19inches
Born April 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm

In Wapella on Thursday April 1, 2010, we had discovered that James truck was over the legal height limit and we put it up for sale on craigslist and the tradinpost.
Loved that truck.
In Florida on Thursday April 1, 2010, a little baby girl with no name was born at 2:54pm weighing 8lb 6oz. She was 19 inches long, had brown hair and deep blue eyes. 
Love this little lady so much more!
            On Saturday April 3rd I woke up at about 6:30 and had no idea that by 6:30 that night I would be on a plane headed to Florida to meet my daughter. Marranda had spent the night and we were just hanging out waiting to head out to Hudson for an Easter egg hunt with Caleb and the rest of the family. James also got a call that morning (9am) from someone interested in buying the truck. While he was on the phone with the potential buyer the house phone rang.  I answered and Jerry Callens (the director of our agency in Florida) was on the line and he began to tell me about a baby girl who was born on April 1st. This all came as quite a shock partly because we hadn’t even finished the process of paperwork with them yet. Since we hadn't completed that process, I wasn't expecting any phone calls.
We had no clue that our lives would be drastically different in a matter of 14 hours. It took about 14 hours from the time of the phone call to the moment we met our daughter. Jerry told us about this little girl and a little bit about her birth mom. This little girl was given a clean bill of health, but there were some issues we needed to discus. We told him that we would let him know our decision within the hour. After hanging up the phone we just stared at each other with a look of disbelief and we knew immediately that we would take her. We had been praying for so long that we just knew it was right. We took a few minutes to talk over the situation and called our parents to receive their blessing and then called Jerry back within 20 minutes to accept this little girl. We did all of this while on our way to Hudson with Marranda. While James had Marranda at the park I sat in the truck and called Roberta, Karrie, and Deanne. It was pouring, but who cared. After the Easter egg hunt was rained out we went to the house and booked our one way flights to Jacksonville, made arrangements for Easter Sunday at Wapella, and then sold the truck (for 2000 more than we paid) to my cousin (unbeknownst to me). Then we took Marranda home/met at DQ to get something to eat. I could barely eat, but I had Ck Strips. My stomach was churning pretty good. Then we went home to pack in a flurry of emotion. It was so hard to concentrate. We kept waiting for that call that would take it all away, but Jerry said that the birth mom was excited that he chose us. She told him to choose the family and he chose us. 
This little girl needs parents and we’ll be there for her every step of the way. When Jerry called to ask if we had a name, I looked at James and said “Name?” He said “Abigail Ruth” I asked if he was sure he still wanted that and he said yes. I wanna call her AbbyRu when she’s older.
After packing way too much stuff (and not at all the right clothes for Florida) we got in the car and headed to Bloomington to get James a physical before our plane took off at 6:44. We also went to Starbucks and then Walgreens for a notebook and then to La Gondola for a sandwich and then to the airport.
We were a mess of emotion!
It was weird to load the plane with an empty car seat. It’s hard to describe how we felt as we took off. We were all crazy nervous and excited and scared and in shock. While I was waiting for James to get his physical Jerry had called to talk about when we would meet Abby. We decided that she would be discharged from the hospital to Jerry and Monique and that they would bring her to us at the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel at about 11:45 Florida time. We knew that the baby was at the hotel, but we didn't know that she was in the lobby waiting for us. When we walked in the door with all of our baggage I spotted her in Monique’s arms (she's the office manager at the agency). They had her dressed in pink and wrapped in a pink fluffy blanket that said “I Love Mommy”. She walked over to me and placed her in my arms and of course I cried. That was the first time we saw her dark brown hair and her deep blue eye. I hadn’t even thought to ask what color her hair and eyes were. While we were staring into her face and taking it all in, Jerry was taking some pictures. I probably looked awful with my tear streaked, red, blotchy face, but who cares, I had my baby in my arms. What a day! 
Jerry took this picture when Monique handed us our little girl.
 We sat in the lobby for a few minutes while James took care of the room. Her eyes were open and she was looking all around. Not to shabby for a 2 day old baby. We got to our room around midnight and Jerry and Monique stayed until 2 or so going over all the paperwork and new born baby gotta knows. Her birth mom had already signed away her rights, so all that was left for us to do was sign the papers to make her ours... at least until the court dates that make her ours forever legally. It eventually took about 3 months to finalize all of the paperwork.
This is the first time James held Abby.

Lots to talk about in the middle of the night.

Still in shock.

He's in love.
 Thank you for joining me as I relive this day.  I can't believe Abby is 4 now! So much happened so fast. Nothing could prepare us for the joys and challenges this little lady brings to our lives. Love her so very much!

Monday, February 10, 2014

I love...

I really enjoyed my blog when I wrote in it often. Perhaps this will be the last post for another 2 years, but I hope not. There are many things on my heart I want to share whether they are ever read by another or not. 

Today I went back and looked at all of the posts I've made over the last several years. I started this thing when we got married and moved to Wapella almost 7 years ago. Wapella, Illinois holds a place near and dear to my heart. It's where we learned to be married. It's a place we learned to be married AND in ministry. It's where we made friends young and old. It's where James learned how to write a sermon. It's where we grew up. It's where we became parents. It's where we learned how to serve. It's where we learned how to be served. It's a place for many firsts for us. It's a place we made many mistakes. It's a place we cried. It's a place we laughed. It's a place we miss for many reasons. It's a place where some of our very favorite people live. It's a place where God and His people were so very good to us. I love Wapella. 

Now we have been in Petersburg, Illinois for almost 2 years. A painful 10 months separated these 2 ministries. We moved 3 times within 10 months. It was crazy. We are crazy, but I think a good crazy. I love what we learned in those 10 months of wandering. Among many things we learned that we love the midwest (cold as it is) and we learned that we love being in ministry (hard as it is).

We love Petersburg. Abby is 3. J is 18 months old. J is new to our family since I last wrote. The summer after we moved here year we became foster parents. J was placed with us on April 19, 2013 when he was 9 months old. When he came we had no idea that 9 months later his goal would be changed to adoption and we would be working toward adding him to our family permanently. We love that little boy so much. I look forward to the day we can share his name and his pictures publicly. He's so cute and getting so big. Right now Halayna (Abby's friend) and Abby are in the basement running in circles and screaming about who knows what. I'm so happy my little girl has friends. They drive me a little batty, but they make my heart smile. .

One of my very favorite things about Petersburg is that we have a lot of young families in our church and I have many friends my age. I love my Bible Study groups. I love my friends. I love playdates. I love the ministry. I love the anticipation of what's to come. I love what God is doing. I love the people in our church. I love our VBS theme this year (sometimes it's the small things).

When life gets crazy it's good to remind myself of all the things God is doing that I love. Especially when a little boy wakes from his nap in a rather unhappy frame of mind... :)

Our Latest Adventure and God's Amazing Provision

I wrote this post over 2 1/2 years ago (July 2011 I think) and saved it as a draft...

It's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog. Life has changed quite a bit since we brought Abby home from Florida. Most of you know the events that have transpired over the past 15 months, so I'll skip most of it and clue you in to the last couple of months. Over the past few months we felt God calling us away from Wapella but we weren't sure where we were headed or what He had in store for us. It seemed reasonable for us to move to North Carolina for a time of rest, rejuvenation, and preparation for the next ministry we would go to. Why on God's green earth that seemed reasonable was beyond me, but it did and we took a step of faith and 2 months ago we moved to North Carolina. The two months since have been filled with doubt, confusion, and frustration; however, they have also been filled with an abundance of prayer, provision, and grace. I just want to give you a glimpse into what we see God doing in our lives here in North Carolina.

Within a week of our arrival here in NC James had a job. This act of God's provision also came with much frustration and confusion. James was hired to run night-time linehaul which meant that he had to go to work at 8pm drive to Charlotte, work the dock, and then drive home. James is not a night person and was reaching his limit doing this even for only a couple of weeks. He said many times, "I'm not tryin to die, this is ridiculous!" Then, the week after labor day he only worked 1 day. They just didn't have the work and sent him home day after day. This also contributed to the frustration and quite honestly we were worried about our finances. You can't pay the bills if you don't work! We knew God had provided this job, but were confused as to why it was turning out to be a miserable experience. We had many "disagreements" about what we should do. James looked high and low and all around for a different Job where he wouldn't be afraid for his life and be able to pay the bills, but nothing was opening up. I know I spent many hours praying for him and about this particular issue. After that week James didn't work but one day we found out that he could come in around 1 and work the dock till about 10:30 at night. this was better, but not good, because the possibility of him going back to working nights was strong. There were 5 or 6 people ahead of him who could get the city (day driving) job that was available. Once again God showed his love and answered our prayers. All of the people ahead of him chose to stay on linehaul and James was able to start working full-time during the day. Today he went in at 10:30 to start his new shift.

We have also had trouble finding a church to attend. We had some rough experiences with some of them and I have a new appreciation for being a newbie to anything. It's not fun at all. For the first few weeks we came home from church feeling miserable and defeated instead of fulfilled and ready to tackle the week. Many times over the past couple of months we have doubted whether or not we made the right decision to leave Wapella. We questioned our ability to hear and discern God's leading in our lives. We've been frustrated about why things weren't going to plan.

James has been interested in church planting for some time now. He has been studying and reading about it for well over a year now. We knew this area was known for being a hot spot for church plants so one of the hopes we had when moving down here was the hope of getting some experience with a church plant so that if God calls us to that ministry in the future we will be more prepared.'s where I dropped this post never to be seen by the light of day. I had forgotten all about it. God is so good! So much has changed since I wrote this over 2 1/2 years ago...  

During the 2 months after I wrote this post we were able to pay the bills. God led us to an amazing church plant in Winston Salem and we were incredibly blessed to help them get started in their ministry. But, once again James was facing layoffs and I was so homesick that we decided to move back to Illinois in October. James was able to transfer to the Con-Way in Bloomington and get a raise and actually drive a truck as opposed to just loading them. The 6 months we lived in Hudson were hard, but good.  In February of 2012 we were offered a ministry position in Petersburg, Il. We've been here for 2 years now. Those 10 months of transition between Wapella and Petersburg were crazy, we made mistakes, but we learned a lot... about us, about God, about ministry, and about life. Maybe next time I'll blog about the last 2 years in Petersburg. They have been pretty amazing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

What a wonderful way to celebrate our Savior, eternal life, and new life.

This will be an Easter I won't soon forget!!!!!


Mrs. McMillionaire