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Radical Motherhood

I think I’ve made it through the worst.

The worst of the flashbacks, the bad dreams, the gut wrenching pain, the shock and the inability to grasp that what I believed in my heart would happen did not come to pass.

If you are unfamiliar with our adoption journey that left us broken-hearted, you can start reading here.

I believe for the first time I am understanding what James is talking about when he says

…when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

James 1:2-4

I’ve said these words before in a little trial and it seemed easy to believe. But to come out the other side of this heart ache with eyes to see that God is redeeming our hearts and deepening us in grace is nothing short of the power of Jesus. Apart from him, I couldn’t even get off the ground and dry my eyes.

I will say that I believe without a doubt that we followed every prompting of the Holy Spirit and we were obedient in every aspect when we went to Nunavut. And this great test of my faith has produced some life changing revelations.

God allowed me to spend my first eight days, when we were waiting for baby to be born and before my husband arrived, in the heart of the struggle in the city. At first I was terrified to leave my place and then God promised to protect me and give me courage because there were things I needed to see.

So I went alone, with no cell service, out into the world. As I walked to the grocery store I was angrily sneered at by someone saying: So you’ve decided to come up here and see what real life is. My heart raced. He wasn’t interested in my answer so I walked on.

I stopped at the RCMP to ask if there was anything I should know while I staying there since the newspapers were full of stories of how crime had skyrocketed, especially rape.

They told me the biggest thing was not to stay down by the water. I thanked them for the advice and walked back to my condo, about ten steps from the water.

Across the street from me was the burnt shell of a truck, destroyed from a domestic dispute a few days before that ended in lighting each others vehicles on fire.

Each day I wanted to hide, and each day I ventured out again.

More than anything I wanted to hear people’s stories. I sought them out as best I could.

I sobbed when we saw a baby on a mother’s back, wearing only a tee-shirt in the cold rain. She tried to stand up but was too drunk to do so and nearly fell right on top of him. This was too common.

I met people who are working to help change the social landscape. Each one in their own way moved with compassion by what they see around them, whether they grew up in it and now aim to help, or whether coming in from the outside. Many struggling to cope with the devastation they deal with on a daily basis.

Every single one willing to sacrifice comfort to see hope restored.

I listened to as many of the children’s stories as I could. Multiple ones with a murdered parent, others severely neglected, others in a sense orphaned to alcoholism.

Each child beautiful. Each one longing for their home to be safe.

This simple truth has become the bright diamond in this fire of disappointment.

Children crave home. They want home. They need home. I can provide home.

Coming back to my own home, I am not the same. I am wrecked for family and ruined for the cause of the home, our place of peace.IMG_8420

I have moved beyond accepting my responsibility as a mother to receiving a call to radical motherhood.

A type of motherhood with the heartbeat prayer: let your kingdom come in my home as it is in heaven.

A radical motherhood that is not perfect, but sold out to the cause of raising kids who know they are loved by Jesus, and by their parents.

A radical motherhood that will actively sacrifice time, energy, sleep, career, appearance, status, finances, and basically any other thing that gets in the way of cultivating a peaceful, loving, Christ-centered home.

A radical motherhood that makes room for more. For me, that’s more babies. More laundry. More cooking. More prayers. More stories. More hugs. More songs. More mess. God bring me more.

A radical motherhood that does not stop with ones own children, but whose brave heart bursts open, expanded to those who have not been loved as her own have been.

Home is where our hearts grow.  I saw the effects of so many children without home and it compelled me to commit to doing it wildly well. I repeat, not perfect, but on purpose.

I’m not talking about homeschooling, I had committed to doing that before this revelation.

I’m not talking about staying home full-time. I own a brick and mortar business, I can’t call myself a stay at home mom.

I’m talking about a heart that is so surrendered to the glorious call of mothering that this responsibility can and will trump all others when it needs to, because no one on this planet needs me more than them. 

Stepping into the grace of radical motherhood draws out a confidence that is driven by a deep trust that Jesus has called you and me for such a time as this and we are anointed to be MOM.

May you explode with confidence that you are called and equipped for the task at hand. You are powerful to step out in brave love and your mothering is changing the world.

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When Your Brave Is Shaken

IMG_7951 (1).JPGWhat do you do when your brave is shaken and everywhere you look are reminders of the last time you were courageous?

How do I move on when obedience turned to heartache and faithfulness turned to unimaginable pain?

When you have signs that say to “be brave, take risks, have courage and seek adventure”, and you have to take them off your wall because the reminder causes you to choke on your own breath and you want to go to sleep and wake up to find that everything is fixed and the nightmare is over.

I go a few hours forgetting of the weeks I spent in the arctic. And then I grab something out of the pantry and find the baby bottle cooler.

Tears. Again. How did this happen?

The statements of “something better will come” mean absolutely nothing when you have spent every single cent you could gather and moved out in faith and came up empty-handed. People don’t just jump into another private adoption again. We waited years for that moment. Saying it wasn’t meant to be feels like saying to someone who had a stillborn child that they weren’t meant to live. You wouldn’t do it.

My heart is gaping and I can’t comprehend why things have happened the way that they did. Other adoptive parents have comforted me with the words: there is no pain like losing a child who is still out there.

It’s unique, it’s crushing and it’s confusing. I know every single reason why she was going to be adopted. They swirl in my mind everyday and I wonder if she’s safe.

I cry, I pray, I move on. I find a sleeper, I cry, I pray, I move on. I find a blanket, I cry, I pray, I move on. I hear my daughter explain the situation to a neighbour child. I cry. I can’t move on today.

Today it hurts. Today it cuts deep. Today I am tired from gathering my courage to go out and move on. Today I just throw my red eyes, aching muscles and shattered dreams at the feet of Jesus and breathe Psalm 56 in and out, over and over.

When I am afraid to step out, feeling like I’ve lost confidence in my decisions, I go back to square one and learn to trust.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.”

I have to get back to basics. I can’t over think it. Just trust and obey.

You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping.
    You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.
    For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.
 The very moment I call to you for a father’s help
    the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee.
    This one thing I know: God is on my side!
 I trust in the Lord. And I praise him!
    I trust in the Word of God. And I praise him!
 What harm could man do to me?
    With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.
    My heart overflows with praise to God and for his promises.
    I will always trust in him.
 So I’m thanking you with all my heart,
    with gratitude for all you’ve done.
    I will do everything I’ve promised you, Lord.
For you have saved my soul from death
    and my feet from stumbling
    so that I can walk before the Lord
    bathed in his life-giving light.

Psalm 56:8-13 TPT

When grief clouds the heart, scripture has to flood the soul. God is on my side, I will not be afraid of what comes.

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As for me, I will always have hope.

Road to Nowhere

“I’d rather have a heart that’s open and gets broken, then is closed to what God would do.”

I said those words after answering a young woman’s desperate pleas for us to come adopt her baby, having no idea the journey we would go on. I hoped that our hearts that were wide open to adoption wouldn’t end in this kind of pain, but that was a risk that we decided to take.

The risk to love. The risk to rescue. The risk to answer the cries of “please help me.”

The kind of love that pushes you to travel over 2,500 kilometres, spend 24 days away from your other children, sell your second vehicle, and with grit and determination trust God to make a way where there is no way and watch him lay out the path before you.

You know what I’m talking about, you risk takers for Jesus. He breaks your heart for something and you can’t rest until you’ve given him your yes and stepped out in faith.

Yesterday I shared that things have not turned out the way we had hoped.

Today, I dropped my husband off at the airport here and I’m leaving tomorrow. As I walked away from the airport I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

I felt the Holy Spirit whisper “Well done.”

We did it. We came and did what we were supposed to do. It didn’t end the way we hoped, but we were faithful to walk out every step. We answered a desperate plea for help and our whole family felt the Holy Spirit and we acted on that.

Our kids chose to be brave. We chose to be brave and with a big declaration that wouldn’t be held back by fear, we look a leap of faith.

We loved when we had the chance to love and we prayed when we had the chance to pray. To the best of our ability we spread hope.

When our hearts broke and everything within us wanted to run away, we stayed to fight. We waited out the ten days that we had committed to and we prayed, cried and refused to allow circumstances to steal our belief that God is good.

We came well, and we leave well. I’m proud of us.

None of that was on our own strength. I had absolutely no ability to even stop myself from vomiting the first few hours. But when the peace of Jesus Christ came in, I was ok. I was in pain. I cried. But I was held. Deeply covered by the shadow of his wings. I have never experienced such a tangible level of the perfect peace of Jesus.

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!”

John 14:27

We will not hide our hearts in hope that we never feel that level of grief again. There is a truth we can hold on to when everything has fallen apart and we don’t know which step to take from here.

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:11 NIV

All of His promises are STILL yes. And although the details can get jumbled up and it looks for a moment like the enemy has got in the way of our destiny, this cannot be because:

“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”

Romans 8:28 TPT

Even what it unexpected and painful to us, God can weave it into his master plan of bringing good into our lives.

And while this week hasn’t felt “good” and it’s held more tears than I have ever cried, I know that not one tear is wasted:

“They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow, but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!”

Psalms 126:6 TPT

Our story is not over and therefore I have great hope and perfect peace. I have waves of grief that crash over me, but I am held in a divine peace that is too miraculous to describe. Even in my breakdowns God whispers “a double portion restoration”, and I know I will be mom to at least five kids.

I’ve got questions too, but I’ve also got the great Comforter and he is constantly reminding me that:

“Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!””

Luke 1:37 TPT

And as Mary said in response to God’s promise:

“This is amazing! I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass.” 

Luke 1:38 TPT

Come what may Lord, my heart is still open. I accept whatever you have for me, in great confidence that you will finish the good work you’ve begun in my heart and in my family. Our story is not over:

As for me, I will always have hopeI will praise you more and more.

Psalm 71:14 NIV

 

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30 Hour Mama

Sweet baby, I will always remember August 4th. The morning my phone charger decided not to work and I woke up in a panic that I might have missed the call of your birth.

But just as my phone had enough charge, it rang. The urgency to get to the hospital left my head spinning and I couldn’t even tie my shoes.

We decided that it was faster to run then call a cab, so I ran as fast as I could down that steep hill, hoping not to face plant, while hoping not to miss your entrance.

We made it in time. We heard your cries. We cried. We waited. You came to us on a rolling cart.

You screamed and screamed until you were safe one me.

Then you settled.

The greatest few hours of our lives.

Bonding.

Skin to skin.

Breath to breath.

Heart to heart.

We gave you your first food, daddy gave you your first bath like he had with all our other babies.

Nurses and doctors glowed at the miracle of our story.

We had believed. And you had come.

I insisted that it was mama’s job to spend the first night and made daddy go back and sleep so I could trade him off in the morning.

You didn’t sleep much that night.

We rocked. You ate. I sang.

Jesus love you. This I know. For the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong. Yes Jesus loves you. Yes Jesus loves you. Yes Jesus loves you. The bible tells me so.

I grew tired knowing the long journey ahead. I chose to be wise and called daddy to come at 5:30 so I could sleep a bit before the doctor checked you out one more time.

Daddy came. I left. You slept, daddy prayed.

Bless our baby. Bless her Lord.

I came back with the car seat. Discharge was moments away.

We basked in the beauty of a hope fulfilled.

Then they walked in.

They said your mom wanted you back.

I shook. Violently. Pure shock causing me to throw up.

Not our baby. Not this one we had just spent all this time bonding with. Years praying for this moment.

We had one minute to say goodbye. We blessed your life. We kissed your cheeks.

They took you away.

We crumpled onto the floor.

This could not be happening.

We wept as though no one could hear us. Unashamed grief that surged through our bodies.

We left, we prayed, we fasted, we hoped, we praised, we believed that you would come back to us.

We were the first birth adoption anyone had seen fall through. Us.

My beautiful girl, you may never know who we are, or of those 30 hours we spent with you, but we will never, ever forget you. We will always pray for you and a big part of my heart is left with you.

I leave empty armed and broken-hearted trusting with all my heart that Jesus will keep you safe and the one who holds your future has wonderful things in store for you. You have awakened in us a passion for adoption and we will not let this heartache steal our brave decision to always say: yes.

Love forever,

Your 30 hour mama

“By your mighty power I can walk through any devastation and you will keep me alive, reviving me.” Psalm 138:7 TPT

 

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I can’t do it alone.

I have been in the far north of Canada for five days now. My brain is swamped, my heart is overwhelmed and my emotions are engaged at every level. I have already walked a fine line of probably telling the world too much of where we are at.

Typically people don’t say anything and they just show up back online with a child they’ve adopted that no one really knew was coming, except those very close to them.

Neither of these approaches are right or wrong, and in some cases you are forbidden to say anything online at all, so don’t think that I’m bashing keeping that kind of information quiet. But I’ve felt this constant tug to be real and transparent about our hearts on the line and the reality of the fight to see our hopes into reality.

Today is very cold compared to back home. When I woke up it felt like minus 2 degrees and the cold rain fell. But God chose to warm my heart up immensely through the love of strangers today. Strangers who heard my story and chose to reach out and come encourage me. Strangers who instantly became friends and showed me a side of this city I had not yet seen. Friends who made sure I knew where their home was so I could stop in whenever. Friends who said “now you know you have a support system right here.”

It’s funny, I generally don’t need anyone extra in my life. It sounds rude, but honestly, I’m an introverted introvert that already has to spend enough energy on family and life. I have to force myself to go connect with people. I have to set boundaries so that all the good stuff in me isn’t sucked away.

But there is something about being miles away, alone in the arctic that makes you need people. I’m not talking about someone who will just small talk with you, I mean someone who has a deep heart to heart connection with you and can look you in the eyes and remind you of why you’ve come all this way.

These people did this for me today.

I realized on night two of being here that if I didn’t pick up the phone and call someone, I would struggle. Evenings are a vulnerable time for me. I’m tired. I’m never alone at night. It needed to be someone who knew the promises of God for this baby, and who knew how to talk me back to believing again.

I called my sister and we didn’t even talk, we just preached the goodness of God to one another until we were both so full of faith I could have adopted all the babies and she could have opened another store.

I need people.

I thought I didn’t. But I strip back all the busyness of kids, marriage and life and it’s just me, my fifth cup of tea, the sound of cold rain, and the echo of a promise. It’s there that I realize I can’t do this by myself.

We need our champions. I can’t even acknowledge voices that speak doubt because I’m desperately clinging to a promise that flew me nearly 3,000 kilometres from my home and my family and I am holding tight to the belief that God who started all of this is going to complete every good thing.

When we are in a season of contending for a promise, we need the faith filled ones in our life.

Today, I’m thankful for a faith filled family who welcomed me in, and some pretty amazing women back home who are taking my tear filled calls every night and praying me through each fear that I face.

 

 

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Arrow Sharp Prayers

Four years ago around this time, we had felt the Lord lead us to come to back to my hometown to pastor a church that had been without a pastor for two years.

Whenever the idea had been presented to us before we shot it down quickly. We weren’t small town people. We weren’t ready to be lead pastors. Our family seemed so young. We had loads of excuses.

But the day that God himself spoke the idea to our hearts, something began to shift. There was a desire that started to be stirred up.

We finally reached out to our district director, who was overjoyed and felt this was a great fit. He started the process of contacting the church only to find out they had a serious candidate who they were considering for the role.

My heart was crushed. Why would God place this on our hearts so clearly, challenging all the things that we thought were our hopes and dreams and breaking our thinking out of the box? Was it just a test to see if we would be willing to go?

After one moment in prayer I realized God had called us there and because I believed this was his will, I had permission to contend for it to happen.

I prayed very specifically that the pastor candidating would feel on his heart not to come back and speak the next Sunday because God was leading him somewhere else.

The first time I said it out loud it felt too audacious to even pray. But I had this sense deep down in my heart, call it a prophetic word if you like, that this was where the Switzer family was supposed to be.

For two days I prayed into this and declared that there was a better fit for this other family somewhere else and that the process would not be delayed.

At the end of the two days we received a call that the pastor and his family felt that church was not the right fit and they had somewhere else they would be going. I danced and cried all over my house because God’s will had been accomplished and it truly did turn out to be the BEST of everyone involved, not just for us.

Prayer is a tricky topic because it’s a conversation with God. Who can tell you how to talk to God? Who has the authority to state his preferred type of communication?

These things are true. I have heard stories of God intervening in terrible situations at the slightest utter of the name of “Jesus.” He is greater than any method and far above any type of formula that humans would try to put in place.

However, through situations like coming to pastor the church, God started to speak to me on something that I have since called “arrow sharp prayers.” This is the type of specific prayer that I declared in those two days believing for the pastor to move on somewhere else.

Here is what I mean when I say an “arrow sharp prayer”: it prays specifically. It gets to the heart of the issue. It looks beyond what we see on the surface and asks for God to intervene at the core of the problem. It uses the gifts of prophetic, wisdom and word of knowledge to receive understanding and then seek a supernatural intervention through prayer.

I have found these to be guiding principles necessary to praying arrow sharp prayers.

  1. You have to lay down your agenda. If you are going to see clearly into the Spirit realm and uncover the truth behind a situation, you have to be able to release all of your opinions and biases to see with God’s perspective. I did not want to go to a small town. I did not want to come back to my home town, so when my heart changed in a sudden and intense way, I knew it was God. I laid down my desire to stay in a city. I would not allow any prayer to come from my mouth asking for that, because I wanted to be in complete agreement with God’s location.
  2. You have to be reading the scriptures. It is vital that we pray prayers that line up with God’s word. Scripture is powerful and when we lay down our agenda and declare scripture that is in agreement with the heart of God for that specific situation, entire spiritual atmospheres begin to shift. Often times the Holy Spirit highlights a scripture in my morning devotions and I know instantly this is a prophetic word to be declared over a specific situation that I am facing or will face later on that day.Sometimes the verse is one that we use over and over again. Hebrews 10:39 is a constant weapon in my hand when I’m tempted to make a decision based on fear instead of brave faith.
  3. Ask God questions. We are allowed to do this! You can ask God for clarity. The disciples were constantly asking Jesus to explain what was going on. You can ask questions like:“God, what are you trying to show me?”

    “Would you reveal to me the deeper issues at play?”

    “Lord, help me not to simply see the obvious in this situation, show me how you want to change this.”

    I shared in my last blog post how on Father’s Day in church I was overcome with a desire for another baby. What I didn’t share was I overcome with regret for my decision not to have anymore biological children. It seemed weirdly intense to me. So right in service I asked: God, why am I feeling this way? And he spoke very clearly to my heart: I’m preparing you to adopt.

    This released me to pray specific prayers for my baby to come and that Friday were contacted by our brave birth mama.

  4. You have to pick up God’s agenda. I am not one who believes that we can sit back and complacently wait for things to just happen. Everything does not simply fall into place. I believe that if God instructs us to wait, then we wait with as much purpose as if told to act. And if he instructs us to act then I pick up God’s agenda with holy passion that leads me to fight until the battle is won. God would not have given us his armour if we were not intended to war alongside him!

Prayers that hit the mark are specific, focused and zoned it. If you have been seeking him for a breakthrough, it might be time to ask God for the strategy. To look behind what you see in the natural and partner with God’s will in the spiritual. He loves to give wisdom to those to ask for it and discernment to those whose hearts are open.

Even if it looks like you have lost a battle, we must remember that Jesus has already won the war and we need to keep our ear tuned to him because he is releasing a new strategy that we get to partner with!

So don’t give up! Psalm 130:7 reminds us to:

“keep hoping, keep trusting, and keep waiting on the Lord, for he is tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving. He has a thousand ways to set you free!

He will never be out of options! He has so many ways to breakthrough on our behalf. Let’s join him in battle with our arrow sharp prayers!

 

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Baby Hope (Part Two)

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you might remember my post called “Baby Hope” about saying yes to God when he asked us if we would adopt a child in the future. We called that unknown baby: Baby Hope. As a family we have held Baby Hope in our hearts for nearly three years, but my heart has held her since I was about thirteen years old.

The call came on an ordinary day last week. Actually, not ordinary because I had been up in the night and rushed into work and missed reading my bible and praying. I felt a little thrown into life that day. Discouraged that I hadn’t been more organized, more disciplined. I was digging through the back of the store, narrowly missing having a heavy box fall on my neck.

Then the phone rang. I heard my sister sound excited at who was on the phone.

And that day changed our lives forever.

If you’re on my personal Facebook page, you have seen that we have been contacted to adopt a baby at birth.

I shared with our friends:

I realize saying this out loud is like announcing a high risk pregnancy. Why do it if it could fall through? Well our family has been challenged to say a brave yes to everything God sets before us with courage and strength and TRUST that he is making away, because:

“But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:39‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’d rather RISK having my heart broken from being open to loving well then protected from pain and miss out.

I’d love to spill so many details because God is literally doing miracles every single day (like providing all the aeroplan points needed for both our round trip flights in 24 hours!), but I need to wait until the time is right.

Here is what I can say. It’s vulnerable, scary, exciting, wonderful, hope-filled, and extremely faith testing in a “this is the bravest thing I’ve ever done” kind of way.

It challenges the idea that we were meant to just live to create comfort. It pushes us to step out and live for others. It partners with the words of Jesus who said:

“The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever.”

John 12: 25

I said yes to God was before I was ready. And trusted that he would bring it all about in his perfect timing. And he has done it. He has really made a way and my heart explodes with gratitude.

I will be flying out of province late July to attend the baby’s birth and take immediate responsibility in love and care for her, my husband joining me soon after.

The time has come for baby Hope to join us. Almost three years after that post. It’s His timing. He can’t be rushed. He won’t be delayed. 

A few weeks ago I walked into my shop and told my sister:

“I don’t know what is happening, but I know I can’t manage the store in the fall. I need you to come on as my manager.”

He was already making a way.

I will be gone for a large part of the summer. I potentially will get home as school is starting again.

But he led us to homeschool this year.

He was already making a way. I will get that time with my kids.

Father’s day I cried out in church to God asking him why I was so desperate to hold another baby in my arms.

He told me he was preparing my heart.

He was already making a way.

Until we see the way he is making we can’t alway see that he is a making a way. Sometimes it looks like a bunch of random unconnected pieces. We feel foolish and afraid. Did I misunderstand what you were saying Lord?

Then just like that, a big area of the puzzle comes together.

Oh yes, you do know what you’re doing, God. You are weaving something so intricately complicated together for my good and the good of many others.

Is he leading you to say yes and it doesn’t make sense? Do the dots seem random and impossible to connect? The holy burden on your heart getting to be too much to bear?

Don’t despair. Don’t give up.

Hold on to hope. He is making a way.

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My friend did this picture for us a couple of years ago of our kids as the animals we lovingly call them, staring up at a butterfly who represents baby Hope,
waiting to land with us. 

 

 

 

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