I’m happy you’re here. I’ll go first: I’m a full-time journalist turned work-at-home writer. I’m hitched to a shaggy-haired pastor and we’re smitten with two wild + crazy boys: Joseph (4) and Asher (1). I drink strong coffee, I like pretty things, and I believe there’s beauty in the broken.
I hope this little space will encourage you to find worth and live a story worth sharing.
What is Many Sparrows?
This little corner of the Internet aims to encourage women, spurring them on to find worth and live a story worth sharing.
God tells us He cares about the little things — even down to a teeny, tiny sparrow. And if He cares about a little bird, how much more does He care about us — who are worth far more than many sparrows? Let’s dwell in the truth that He loves us with an arms-stretched-out kind love. Let’s rest easy, knowing we’re valued, loved, and worth more than we can even fathom.
I’m a person who’s blemished and blessed. All good things in my life flow from Jesus. My mission is to reflect his generous, grace-filled love with all my heart, soul, and mind. I’m passionate about shedding religious cliches and living an authentic, Kingdom life. Sometimes I get frustrated and often times I fail. I’m a work in progress.
Find Your Worth & Live a Story Worth Telling
My heart is to use this corner of the Internet to make much of Jesus. To use my words to reflect the creator of all things who gives extravagant grace, who radiates beauty and light in a very dark world.
I’m a mama of two little boys, and sometimes I just need a space to talk about things like shift dresses and wedge booties and dry shampoo. Let’s share our secrets, shall we?
Motherhood is messy. My hope is that my words + stories can be an encouragement to you in your parenting journey.
“Mommy, I NEED chocolate milk! Right now!”
I placed the baby in her swing and made my way to the kitchen.
“Can you ask nicely, buddy?”
“Chocolate milk, pleeeeeease?”
He asked as he ran to the fridge, swinging open the doors and standing on his tip-toes to reach the chocolate syrup bottle.
“I get it, Mommy!” My two-year-old declared as I reached inside, grabbing the milk.
I snagged a small plastic cup from the cupboard (why do we go through 100 every day?) and placed it on the table as my impatient toddler worked intently on opening the syrupy goodness.
I poured the milk (“A BIG glass, Mommy! BIIIIG!”) and took the syrup from his hands, squirting the liquid gold into the milk, a bit spilling over the side of the lime green IKEA cup. And that’s when it happened.
Threat level midnight. Meltdown of epic purportions. Sobbing and screaming that didn’t stop.
I sighed of exhaustion and prayed for an ounce of patience. “Bud, I’m making you chocolate milk. That’s what you asked for.”
“Nooooo! You’re not doing it right! Nooooo!”
Cue more sobs and me rescuing the brimming cup from flailing limbs. My attempts to mix syrup into soy milk were increasingly unsuccessful. The full-fledged tantrum was escalating quickly. It was only a matter of minutes before the baby — who had finally fallen asleep — would be awoken by her tornadoing brother.
I inhaled deeply, wearily eying my messy kitchen. Nothing I was doing was pacifying the eye of the hurricane, so I grabbed a dishcloth and started wiping the counters, stepping away to let the storm run its course. I tried tuning out the angry screams and flailing limbs.
After a few minutes that seemed like eternity, I felt two arms pulling my legs, a little head ramming into my shins.
“Buddy, WHY are you crying? WHAT do you want?”
I kneeled down and tried to pull out the ounce of patience I had left. Big brown eyes with tears around the rims looked up at me.
“I want you to hug me.”
That was it.
Cut to the heart, I scooped him up and held him close. He wiped his runny nose on my shoulder and his cries turned into soft sobs as he snuggled in. He twirled his fingers through my hair. I rubbed his back. His heart rate slowed to a calmer cadence.
I sat with my growing boy on the crumb-laden kitchen floor, rocking back and forth. I wondered how many times desiring to be seen, heard, and loved manifests itself in screaming, anger and ugliness from us grown-ups. How often does hurt show up as anger, loneliness as pushing people away?
How many times have I been the screaming toddler?
How many times have I glossed over others lashing out in pain, not seeing the hurt hidden in their hearts?
I don’t think my son even knew the needs tucked away in his little soul. He recently had to relinquish baby status to his little sister, and he’s aware another baby is on the way.
I kissed his forehead as the tears subsided, and we headed back to the table, together.
Sometimes it’s hard not to cry over almost-spilt milk.
I thought I’d get to this part in Eliza’s adoption story much earlier. (If you’ve missed it: part one, part two, part three.) But the stories we live aren’t often quick and concise — they’re made up of moments that take us up hills and down valleys we could have never imagined. Now, though, I want to share one of the purest moments of profound joy I’ve experienced.
I experienced it when I stood at the back of a church in a big white dress, arm-in-arm with my father, as the big doors opened and I looked down the aisle and saw my future husband standing at the altar. I experienced it when a Nigerian nanny placed a snuggly, sleeping six-month-old in my arms and told me, “Here is your son.” I experienced it when I looked into the bright eyes of the newborn son I had just brought into the world and my own eyes couldn’t stop my own tears.
And I experienced on December 21, I experienced it when we met our daughter.
Her foster mother gingerly placed her in my arms, and in that moment, each fear and worry I had locked away in my heart melted away, leaving only a raw, all-consuming love for this tiny baby.
She was more precious than we could have imagined, with a mop of curly tendrils. Almond eyes, button nose, beautiful mocha skin. I held the bundle tight in my arms, close to my chest. I studied her little fingers and watched her breathe and whispered in her ears that I loved her. That I would love her forever.
“We’re here now, baby girl. We’re yours.”
I breathed in her sweet baby smell and finally shared, placing her in her daddy’s arms. I watched him and quietly thanked God for the compassionate man I walked down that aisle to seven years ago.
The small meeting room was full of social workers and foster parents and notaries and adoption agency staff, but to us, we were the only ones in the room. The stresses of the piles of intimidating adoption paperwork we had just completed dissipated as we soaked in the glory of the moment.
We had a daughter, and she was more perfect than we could have ever imagined.
This sweet moment in a crowded meeting room is one that I’ll tuck away in my heart forever.
It was a whirlwind to get to her, but God made a way. As we looked into her eyes, we knew. We knew that we would spend our lives loving her. Encouraging her and empowering her and advocating for her. We knew she was joining a family that was overjoyed to welcome her. A wild family that was a little bit loud and a little imperfect, but boasted big hearts. I knew my boys would fall in love with her (spoiler: they did). I knew that in that moment, I was mama bear, and I had been given a precious gift to nurture and protect, and someday send into the world.
I don’t know what else to say except that this sweet baby has blessed us in ways unimaginable. That every time we look into her precious eyes, I’m reminded of God’s grace. The way she snuggles on my chest. The way she looks into my eyes and smiles when she sees me after waking up. The way her heartbeat slows when I pick her up when she’s upset. Just by being her, she is a gift beyond measure.
We’re smitten with Eliza — all of Eliza. An extra chromosome will certainly bring her some challenges, but in this precious daughter, we haven been given a gift. Only because of God’s grace will we have the amazing opportunity to experience life in a new way because of Eliza.
We have seen the goodness of so many friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. We have been recipients of generosity that we could have never dreamed of and will never be able to be repaid. We were lavished with love through so many ways I’d need a new blog post just to list them. And through incredible private donations and contributions, we will be be able to fully pay Eliza’s adoption fees without debt by the time her adoption is finalized.
Our lives are just collections of the yes moments.
I don’t know what God is whispering in your heart, but I pray that you’ll experience the same profound joy that comes to saying yes. He doesn’t ask for perfection. He just wants our willing, imperfect hearts.
When we hold Eliza, we’re just a little bit closer to heaven.
What an amazing gift of grace she is.
Eliza’s Adoption Story:
[Top photo by Everyday Moments Photography]
I would say that as soon as we put our yes on the table and joyfully learned a sweet two-week-old baby girl would soon be our daughter, things started falling into place. But I can’t say that because this story is so much bigger than happenstance. We’ve been privileged to be part of this amazing narrative that God is crafting, and when he writes a love story, his ways are so much bigger than ours. No plot line is forgotten. No chapter goes unfinished.
The creator of all things drew so close to us and I can honestly say that we felt reality of his presence in new ways as we began to piece together the journey to our sweet girl. The day we learned of Eliza, Jonny talked to a friend, a fellow Iowan and pastor in our denomination. He and his wife have three sweet daughters with Down Syndrome via birth and adoption, and he was an amazing resource for us to ask honest, real questions. In an after thought, really, he happened to ask Jonny where this waiting baby was. It turned out that his mom had a beautiful home in Florida she wouldn’t be at for the time we would need to be there.
Through this precious family, God provided ample and amazing housing for us for the entire adoption wait. When we thought we’d be pinching pennies for a cramped hotel room, God made a way we could have never come up with on our own. He does not leave us on our own. He is the good shepherd who cares for each one in his flock.
We knew we’d be driving all around the state for different appointments and paperwork, but a rental car for what was looking like at least a two-week wait was more than what our meager budget could handle. Friends of ours from when we lived in Des Moines now live in Florida, and very, very generously offered their second vehicle for us to use as our own. Another detail that we worried about, but God had already taken care of. When I think on the love and generosity so many poured out on our family, I am brought to tears. We truly got a front seat to the compassion of the body of Christ…and friends, this was only the beginning.
A whirlwind may be putting it lightly.
We got the call, tried to process life-changing news, and ran around our house, haphazardly throwing clothes in suitcases. We packed diapers and a dear friend brought over two huge boxes of newborn clothes and baby gear for us to borrow. That Saturday morning, we managed to celebrate Christmas with our boys, go through a last-minute home study visit with our social worker, and drive to Kansas City. The airport there had the most affordable plane tickets, and my parents were planning on being there to visit my grandma for Christmas. We would be able to leave the boys with my family, and fly out early Sunday. My amazing mom, who never has time off, happened to already have the next week off, due to Christmas, so she could watch the boys for us.
The timing of everything was something only God could orchestrate.
When the world says no, God makes a way.
God always had a plan for Eliza. Always. And I’m so thankful that we get to be a part of it.
When we finally boarded our plane at 4 a.m. that Sunday morning, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and if I’m being honest, I was terrified, too. Despite God’s clear faithfulness, I was scared. What were we doing? Others would surely think we were crazy. Were we crazy? Were we making the right decision? I missed my boys already. Anxiety mixed with pregnancy and I actually threw up. I felt fatigued and over my head. I pushed my head back on the plane seat and put in my headphones, turning up a new album Jonny had just downloaded. As we ascended into the clouds, I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. Of course, God met me there, on that plane. This is what I heard:
Skies spin their dance within Your breath. Time runs it’s race within Your hand. And my mind runs wild to comprehend what no mind on earth could understand.
Your ways are higher, your thoughts are wilder. Love came like madness, poured out in bloodwashed romance. It makes no sense but this is grace. And I know You’re with me in this place.
Here, now. All I know, is I know that You are here now. Still my heart, let Your voice be all I hear now. Spirit breathe like the wind come have Your way. Cause I know You’re in this place.
Faith makes a fool of what makes sense. But grace found my heart where logic ends.
Cause I know that You are here now. Heart and soul, God I know that You are here now. Fix my eyes on the things that I can’t see now. And all I see is the glory of Your Name. (“Here Now” by Hillsong United)
Tears streaked my mascara as I dwelled in the reality that even in the unknown, God keeps his promises. His ways are beyond what we can understand — and so. much. better. I took a deep breath and let God’s grace fill my lungs. I knew in that moment that there was so much I didn’t know, and that was okay.
It is so much better to do hard things with God than to do easy things without God.
In every corner of my whole heart, I believe that. We love because He loved us first and He loves with an intimate, outstretched love that I’ve only been able to begin to understand in the times in my life when I relinquish control and rely on his fullness to fill my brokenness. Fear only takes over when I start forgetting that I’m not in this alone. Perfect love casts out fear, and I wish I could tell that scared mama on the plane last month that every single worry would wash away when a tiny baby would be placed in her arms just a few days before Christmas, when so many around the world would celebrate the tiny little baby that changed everything.
I began writing this third part of Eliza’s adoption story believing it’d be the final part, but the words seem to keep coming. Thank you to all who have read along so far — there’s still so much more to share about our journey to our precious, perfect daughter.
I’ll leave you with the words to the next song that played as we flew through the clouds: “Lord I hear You. I know You’re there. Closer now than my skin and bones could dare. Breathing deep within me, you are always with me. I can see You where eyes can’t stare. Brighter now than the sun could ever dare. Breathing all around me, God I know You’re with me here.” (Closer Than You Know, Hillsong United.)
(To be continued)
[Photo by Everyday Moments Photography]