Chris grinned from ear-to-ear as he first saw Lauren under the shade of and old oak tree on their wedding day. As they leaned in for a kiss, a little giggle emerged from behind the tree. While the first look is typically bride and groom only, their nephew managed to get a front-row seat. It seemed only fitting as family and the closest of friends were such a huge part of their day.
Lauren and Chris exchanged vows in a quaint white chapel on Rustic Grace Estates. Chris’s Uncle and godfather officiated the ceremony and sang Ave Maria a cappella. A candle was lit in memory of loved ones. There wasn’t a dry eye in the chapel.
In true Texas fashion, friends and family toasted and danced the night away in a charming red barn – outfitted with chandeliers and a huge sliding barn door. And yes, bar-be-que and sweet tea topped the menu!
Lauren and Chris, I hope your wedding day pales in comparison to how good life is for you 10, 20, and even 30 years down the road from now. I pray that laughter and family always be present in your marriage regardless of the road life leads you down. Thank you so much for trusting me with capturing your beautiful day. It. Was. Perfect.
Yes. It’s that time. The first day of school has arrived. This crazy transitional summer was full of fun and work, so I can’t say I was sad that this day finally rolled around. I sniffled, did a few cartwheels, then got to work!
This year was a BIG back-to-school year for Team Miller. Zion started second grade at a new school, and Zoe started Kindergarten. The little guy is the only one home with mama. So far, he’s loving it.
Zoe could barely contain herself. Starting “big kid” school AND getting to school this year was going to be different than anything Zion had previously experienced. Getting to school involved riding the BIG. YELLOW. BUS. I mean, c’mon! Don’t worry. I went to school to take all the obligatory “first day of school pics.”
She’s practically bursting at the seams. I love everything about this picture. All excitement. Pure joy.
And this guy. When on earth did he grow into a boy?! Not a little boy, but a BIG boy!
Zeke ran to join the two bigs on the porch when he saw the camera come out of the bag. He doesn’t miss a chance to “ham it up!”
Right here. This picture contains my favorite four people in the whole world. It’s one of my most favorites to date.
Couldn’t love these little humans any more. But I can’t lie, I’m glad the school year is back. 😉
Hey there Ya’ll! Kids are almost out of school, we’re moving, and I’m throwing around all of the Texan jargon that I can since we only have a few weeks left here.
Zoe thought it’d be fun to do one last episode here in our Texas home before you start seeing us from a new location. I completely agreed. So sit back and enjoy this easy and delish breakfast, snack, brunch side, or whatever you want-it-to-be meal: fruit, yogurt, and granola parfaits!
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
Fruit – berries work well or whatever you have around the house!
Layer your Granola, Yogurt, and Fruit in whatever order you’d like. Hey, this only takes a minute…literally. So then, give them to all the kiddos. Run outside and give yourself a few minutes to breathe while they’re chowing down on a yummo and healthy snack.
There are so many lessons that I have learned throughout our adoption process, but here are seven aspects that stick out. Some of them are questions I have been asked, and some that I have asked of myself. Nonetheless, they are repeated themes that are most frequently brought up in conversation.
Seven Things I’ve Learned From Adoption
Do you think you can love your adopted child the same way you love your biological child? I’d like to quickly address the word “same.” I don’t know if any of us love our children the same. With all three of my children I have a different relationship. Yes, it’s the same maternal love; but I love different aspects of my children and relate to each of them so differently. So, I think most often people are asking if you can love them as you love your biological children – that maternal instinct. Friend, I confess. I worried and prayed over this aspect often. I’d lie awake at night in bed and wrestle with this thought over and over in my head. I had sweet friends that would let me text them around the clock and they would pray fervently over this. And I’m so glad to say, yes! You absolutely can love that child the same way you can love a child you birthed. In our case, our son was a baby when we met him. So it grew quickly and naturally. That mama instinct kicked in immediately. Bonding was something his little newborn heart longed for. Physical touch was huge for his low-thriving body. I will never forget how he stared right through us the first two or three days we bonded with him. But what happened on day five was nothing short of a miracle. God showing us just how much this little guy needed us. Everyday like clock-work at 1 p.m. we placed him in his crib. He didn’t make a peep. But on the fifth day, he screamed and cried tears. Zoe lost it; sobbed uncontrollably and begged to take him. Zion cried and had to leave the room. It was both heart-wrenching and life-giving all in the same breath. He loves us. He needs us. And we need him. Some of my fostering and adoptive parents of older children tell me that they too love their children with that maternal and paternal love. It’s not love that is lacking, but often the bonding takes longer. There are more layers to work through. A longer process for trust to be built. But it doesn’t limit the love one feels for his or her child.
Did you nest? Nesting is a maternal instinct, not a biological one. You all. I went crazy cleaning and doing projects all over our house. I climbed up a ladder 23 feet in the air to paint our foyer while an extension ladder was rigged across our staircase banister and my husband shook his head thinking “what (not who) did I marry” and held the bottom. I feverishly cleaned every nook and cranny of our home. All that pent-up energy waiting for our son felt just like nesting for our two previous children. It was a sweet sweet medicine for my heart, soul, and mind. To know that I could “mama” that babe just like the two previously.
So, what about his “real” parents? I take this one with a grain of salt because I know that I too used to ask poorly phrased questions with good intention. We are his real parents. Please learn new jargon when speaking with a fostering or adoptive parent. I recommend using the word “biological” or “birth” mother and father. We are the ONLY parents our child will know. In open adoptions and fostering situations, it is different. It’s a collective effort (we hope) to raise those children. Children can and often do feel love for both sets of parents just like a child from a split-home.
Are you going to tell your child that he’s adopted? Um….yes. 🙂 For our family, our physical differences are apparent. Most experts say that children start recognizing physical differences around the ages of 3-5. Our differences are something that I love about our family. We literally run on a continuum of skin-color from light to olive to dark. It makes talking about our differences one of celebration rather than feeling the odd-man out. Biblically, we point to the fact that we all come from the same beginning, Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26-27); so our heritage eventually all leads back to the same beginning. This binds us together rather than splitting us apart. I don’t care for the term “colorblind.” Each of us bear the image of our God, so when we try to look past those beautiful and unique qualities we each possess, we’re in essence dismissing some of His handiwork and who God is (Genesis 1: 26-27).
Are you going to tell your child his story? Yes we will tell him. I’ve been asked several times to blog on it, but have come to the conclusion of not putting his story out there. It is first and foremost his story. The last thing I want is for him to come across a piece of it via the world-wide-web instead of from the mouths of his dad and me. Those that are close to our family know our full story. That is enough for now. But I will absolutely never forget the first time I wrestled with this telling of his story. It was the first night I was alone and the two oldest and my husband headed back without me and the babe to the U.S.A.. Zeke was sleeping in the crib next to my bed. Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks. What am I going to tell him every year on his birthday? We have a tradition of telling the children about the night they were born. They love it. Each one wait wide-eyed with baited breath to hear the exact same story before bed year after year. But for Zeke? I don’t know it. The heavies hung low in the thick Ugandan air like a weight around my heart. I remember curling up under the mosquito net, pulling out the flashlight, and diving into Rising Strong by Brené Brown. In it she talks about choosing to see the positive about persons or situations. And right there it hit me. Zeke’s story isn’t one of abandonment and loss. It’s one of courage and redemption. I choose to wholeheartedly believe that his birth parents placed him in just the right spot so that he’d have a fighting chance. Someone would take him in and care for him, and that is just what happened.
How did you handle the expense of adoption? Honestly, when we first went into this immediately after a big move and me stopping my photography business, I wasn’t sure. So we researched and put it out there. Collectively, we did it. You all were amazing! You all helped us raise the agency costs of international adoption. We cut back in many areas of life. We sold things. We filled out grants. One thing I’m sure of: the Lord provides. He always does. He gives us exactly what we need. Sometimes he gives more. There are tons of resources and grants out there. The child is always worth more than the cost. Always. If that is something that is holding you back, pray. Pray and ask the Lord to help provide. Then, get over your fear of ask others to help. That was the most uncomfortable thing in the world for me to do, yet at the same time the most humbling. Also, domestic adoption is not as costly as international; and fostering to adopt is SOOOOOO needed and there is little cost going that route.
I’m just too scared to adopt or foster because the children can have so many issues? Adoption is full of the unknown. It just is. But so is birthing and raising biological children!!! We aren’t given any guarantees in life with any of our children regardless of the way in which they were brought into our lives. So let that be assurance and peace for your souls, you who are questioning. It is the Lord who draws our children to him. Not us. I can’t will my child to act a certain way as much as I’d like to think I can. That, my friend, is a weight off my heavy “I-think-I-have-control-over-everything” heart, and it should be for yours too! Being scared of something should never be our reason for not engaging.
“C. S. Lewis captured this so beautifully in one of my favorite quotes of all time: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong
And because I just love all things Brené Brown, these words of hers sum up how I pray we live our lives: “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply profess them.
Zeke Duncan Miller. You’re one. One. I can’t even believe this. There are so many things I want to say to you on your first birthday. And although you can’t verbalize them back, I’m confident you know exactly what we tell you. You are loved. Deeply. Loved.
You leave a trail of happiness wherever you go. I’m not sure there has ever been a time we’ve taken a trip to a store where someone hasn’t stopped to comment on your smile and what a handsome little boy you are. You’re are. Incredibly. Handsome.
You’re a gift. Never doubt that. May you always know that you were hoped for, longed for, prayed for and wanted. Our family wasn’t complete without you.
Our hope for you is that you’ll know and love Jesus from an early age. Wear kindness on your lips and courage in your heart. May your name be a foreshadowing of your character: dark-skinned warrior with the strength of God. Always lead with humility and bravery. Both are necessary in this life.
May you always know that there is nothing you can do to lose our love. We love you.
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” ~ A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh)
So, we're the Millers. We have two awesome kids, Zion and Zoe, and another on the way. No, I'm not pregnant. We're adopting a sweet boy from Uganda. Oh, and we have the cutest pooch Loca. We love people. Passionate about traveling, good food, & sports. Cling tightly to our faith. Grateful for His grace and mercy every day. Dabble in the arts. We're pretty confident we have the most amazing family, friends, and church. Don't believe us? It's true! ...and we have a pretty good story ourselves. Ask us. Maybe we'll tell you one day ;)