birkeland family update: now what?

it’s been two weeks since we found out that I am not pregnant and I want to share what happened in my heart over the course of last month.

I think I shared in one of the live fb videos I did that I didn’t plan on sharing our journey this time around. I thought that we would just precede with everything and then share when we were finally pregnant. But I was assured my the Holy Spirit that I must share. I had a lot of reservations as to what people’s reactions would be to us taking steps to a biological child now after adopting. And let me just say, those were lies from the enemy that I let my heart believe. Every single comment, text, email, and call I received was supportive and loving. {we have the best support system!!}

As I read each comment, it’s like the Lord was removing every lie I had believed, one by one. I found healing by sharing. I have seen this happen so many times, not sure why I didn’t think it wouldn’t happen this time. Obedience precedes blessings.

During the course of all the meds and such last month, I told Dru that if I’m not pregnant then I am experiencing this and sharing it for someone else. I knew deep down in my spirit that I was not pregnant…. so whoever is in the midst of something out of your control but taking steps of obedience as the Lord leads; I’m here for you. I see you. I get you. please reach out, tell someone of the struggle. Do not do this alone.

Now for what’s next..

I talked with my nurse after the negative pregnancy test to see what they believed would be the next step. Basically, there was nothing abnormal about anything during the cycle, so we would do the same course of treatment. So that’s where we are. We talked last night and I feel peace about not doing an IUI next cycle. That means we would still do the meds/monitoring.

I am not sure when we will start again, but I am gaining more and more peace about what to do. We would love your prayers to surround our family.

specific prayers:

1:: prayers for peace as we make next step decisions.

2:: prayers that Dru and I would continue to grow closer together/our marriage would become even stronger even in the midst of making a lot of decisions/doc appt/meds/the fact that the drugs most definitely alter my moods/emotions 🙂

3:: prayers that when I do become pregnant for a healthy babe & uneventful pregnancy.

4:: prayers for me to use my time and words wisely. also that the Lord would continue to allow me to speak/minister to women in the midst of struggle and waiting.

Thank you {as always} for reading and loving us so well. If you are entering into the world of infertility and/or adoption, I would love to chat with you and help you in anyway I can. shoot me an email {kaileyabirkeland@gmail.com} or come join me over on IG {@kbirkeland}

Much love,

KB

how to love a waiting mama

Mother’s Day has looked different for me every single year for the past nine years. At the beginning of our marriage, there were thoughts of one day having little ones making me homemade gifts with *mommy* written in their precious little handwriting. As we approached year five and still no little loves to call ours, my heart was torn and broken in so many ways.

I was alone…isolated…desperate and dreaded the weeks/days leading up to the day. I did not want to be around anyone on this day + I did not want people to tell me *happy mother’s day* ASSUMING I was a mother + I did not want to look at social media to see all the mamas with their babies. It was all too much.

I want to challenge you {really everyone} to be careful of your words and be so-full-of-grace leading up to Mother’s Day and especially on Mother’s Day. It isn’t a happy day for everyone.

I want to list a few things to think about and then I have a challenge to those of you who I have mama in waiting in your mind right now…

  • let her stay at home give her the space to do so. do not push her to go to church or to lunch or really anywhere. it will just make her heart hurt more.
  • she needs grace. so much grace on this day. I have found that the best thing to do is say *I love you and I am here for you.*
  • lower your expectations of waiting mamas. do not put any of your expectations on her to do or be or act a certain way.
  • her feelings are real. her wanting and desiring a baby that isn’t in her arms is the most real thing to her. she longs to hold that sweet love so badly it hurts sometimes so badly that she doesn’t even want to get out of bed.
  • if you have a close friend/family member that IS a mother but her babies are in heaven… she is still a mother. however you feel lead, tell her Happy Mother’s Day. she is a mother. {in my opinion, the best and most non-invasive way is a simple text.}
  • so to sum it up: waiting mothers need to be affirmed, acknowledged and celebrated on Mother’s Day.

now for the FUN part! I have two ways I want to celebrate waiting mothers.

1)) I am going to be hosting a giveaway for waiting mamas on my Instagram feed this weekend. I am asking you either ARE a waiting mama or you WILL send the gifts TO a waiting mama. So please consider entering!

2)) oh I’m so excited about this. I am going to share links to donate/purchase items in support of adoptions. You will be making it possible for a waiting mama to be ONE step closer to bringing her baby HOME. here are the links! YAY!!

Mullaly Family Adoption

Baby Vargas Adoption

The Guntlisbergen Family Love Story

Salinas Family Adoption Journey 

Schaaps Adopt

Green Family 

Adopting our daughter from India

Matthew and Megan Adopt 

Cooper Family Adoption

so much love to each of you! please let me know if you are going to join us over on Instagram or if you are going to support one of the waiting mamas above.

love,

KB

birkeland family update :: growing our family

I know, I know so mean of me to make you wait. But I had good reason, I promise {it’s all about timing, don’t ya know?} A lot of friends in our new city didn’t know about our journey to Evie so that has made this {re}sharing even more fun. And of course, you lovely people that follow along and have been for a long time. We are just so grateful. We couldn’t have made it this far without all of you. Your prayers, love, and hope have inspired us and encouraged us to keep-on-going and keep believing.

When we were in the waiting room with Evie’s birthmother, the Holy Spirit whispered a promise. I do not feel like it’s the right time to give all the details but you need to know that we serve a God that fulfills promises that He gives to His children. We can put our HOPE and FAITH in those promises. He says He will never leave us or forsake us. In my thirty years on earth He has never left my side. He has always been a closer than a breath.

He was so close as we have been waiting and praying about what’s next for our family. I have been taking care of myself by going to my annual OB appointments, but I have not inquired about infertility related things at all. My heart has been so so so raw. It has truly taken all four of these years in between to heal and hope again. All of the ladies in this world of infertility would all be saying a resounding *AMEN* right now if we were in a room together. Nothing compares to all the stages of infertility.

At the beginning you are so hopeful and sure you will stop taking birth control and there will be a baby in your belly. But after couple of months of negative pregnancy tests, you start thinking you might should go to the doctor. You make the appointment – the doc {probably the nurse} says they do not consider you infertile until you’ve been trying for at least a year. So back to the house you go. A year passes, still no baby in your belly. You go back. Then all the doctor appointments begin – the blood work, surgery, the HSG test … and still nothing. All of that can just really really bring someone down. Month after month of being told that your dreams are not coming true. It’s hard. So hard. So much loss and hopelessness and fear.


Take a look at that picture —–> that just screams BUT GOD! Our God has a plan for all our pain and it’s not wasted. Not one bit of it.

So here we are. It’s 2017 and for two years we have been praying and praying and praying some more… asking God what’s next for our family. Do we adopt? Do we pursue biological children? Do we wait? Do we make appointments? Do we call up a social worker and start the home study process?

He answered us. He gave us peace. This past 21 days of prayer & fasting, the Lord answered.

We are pursuing our precious biological children – I have my first appointment in the morning with a new OB {not a fertility specialist yet, one step at a time friends} It’s at 9:30am. I would appreciate any and ALL prayers. {Please pray for peace for me + pray that the whole experience would be life giving and full of hope + pray that my heart would be steadfast and know where my hope lies.}

I will update at some point after my appointment and let you sweet people know what’s next for us.

CRAZY love for each of you,

KB

infertility lead us to adoption :: part 2

I’m just so undone by the love I’ve received since I decided to start sharing again. Thank you for the love and the responses from my last post. You guys are so good at rallying behind our family in the big stuff and in the small stuff. I am just so grateful for this community of friends and family.

If you are here for the first time and you are like I’m confused. I thought they adopted. Well we did, but last year I was reminded last year how important it is to share *where we have been* and WHAT the LORD HAS DONE.

Everywhere I turned today I heard and saw the word vulnerability. Such an important part of our lives is sharing what is troubling to us so we can say “hey me too” to those around us. You never know who around is struggling with the same thing and is longing for someone to just affirm their heartache. I’ve never regretted one thing I’ve shared about our journey because it has brought so many friendships into my life that would not exist without the struggle.

After my surgery in 2012, I still did not conceive a baby. It all just didn’t make sense. The surgery was supposed to fix me. I was supposed to have a baby in my belly. Didn’t the Lord want this for me? What had I done to deserve this? Would I not be a good mom? Why not now? Why do I have to wait even more? 

The questions piled up. They piled up and piled up until I decided I had had enough. Enough of this waiting. I wanted a baby and I needed to make it happen myself. I talked with my OB in January 2013 and asked him to refer me to a specialist. I knew what this meant. I knew that I was out of the will that God had for us, yet I still did it. I still took my plans and made them happen. So what seemed like the longest three months of this seven year battle; I was prescribed clomid {very very common in the world of infertility} and it rocked my life. We also did three IUI procedures. None worked. I still did not have a baby in my belly.

January 2013 – referred to RE {Reproductive Endocrinology}

January 2013 – first RE appt at Alabama Fertility Specialist in Birmingham, AL

February 8 2013 – IUI # 1 with clomid – not pregnant

March 9 2013 – IUI #2 with clomid – not pregnant

April 2013 – IUI #3 with clomid – not pregnant

After the third attempt to conceive with IUIs, we were over it ALL. I had sunk down into a deep depression. I was angry. I was sad. I was mad. I didn’t understand. I did not understand why God was withholding from us. And I think the weight of *taking my life into my own hands* had finally caught up to me. BUT God <— aren’t you so grateful for those two words?

He sent my mom to sit me down and bring some light into the very very dark place I had found myself. About a month later, Dru and I had our first conversation about adoption. He did not want to adopt before that unless we were told that we could not have biological children. I asked him if we were praying about adoption. He said yes.

For three months, we didn’t even discuss adoption. I prayed for his heart to be turned towards adoption because my heart was already there. August 4, 2013, we were laying in bed and he told me *I am ready to adopt* – the tears flowed.

The tears flowed because the Lord had brought our hearts together and spoken the same miracle to ours hearts – adoption.

Adoption story and timeline coming soon…

So much love for each of you,

KB

infertility lead us to adoption :: part 1

It took me a longer than I want to admit to be okay with saying those words ::

*infertility lead us to adoption*

I didn’t want to be labeled one of the couples who-didn’t-get-pregnant-so-they-adopted. But for real though, that’s our story and I own it. Like hardcore own it. And there’s beauty and brokenness and redemption all over every bit of it.

I will talk about last year {2016} here and there… well, I take that back, probably every time I write. It was a year that it didn’t seem like a lot of was happening, but goodness the Lord did a lot of reworking in my heart. One of my friends wrote about what 2016 looked for her and she used the word *shifting* and I think it describes my year too.

About two weeks after Evie was born, I began to think about our future children and how they were going to get to us {give me all the babies} My heart was overwhelmed, but I quickly gave it over to Jesus. He settled my heart and gave me so much grace to just soak up my time with Evie girl. And that’s just what we did. 2015 and 2016 were years of change, moving, learning, growing, and looking back to look forward. And that’s what brings me here, right now.

I wanted to invite you lovely people {our people} back in time to how we were lead to adoption. One of the many ways the Lord showed me His goodness last year was by focusing my attention on the gift and miracle of Evie’s life. He showed me how He brought me, with so much grace, to a place of trust in the story He had written for us.

So that means we look back. I have tears in my eyes as I revisit all this emotion. These are not just words I am typing out. This timeline I am sharing, is a road we never dreamed we would walk, but we did. It didn’t look pretty or sweet or kind the majority of the time, but we made it through.

I am going to share the timeline of what our infertility journey looked like up until my surgery in 2012. Before you read the timeline, you need to know what a few abbreviations mean. In the TTC {trying to conceive} world, it’s easier to use abbreviations for all of this crap instead of writing it out.

BCP :: birth control pills

BFN :: Big fat negative (pregnancy test result)

HSG: hysterosalpingogram {this is a procedure that tests to make sure your fallopian tubes are not blocked}

OPK: Ovulation predictor kit

June 14, 2008 :: WEDDING DAY!

August 2008 :: stopped using BCP

August – April 2009 :: prevented pregnancy

April 2009 :: decided to just “see what happens”

April 2009 – Dec 2010 :: continue to “not prevent pregnancy”

Jan 2011 :: first fertility related appt with OB

November 2011 :: HSG test {everything came back normal; actually I was told I had a perfect looking uterus #goodtimes}

November 2011 – February 2012 :: continued using OPKs

June 2012 – exploratory laparoscopy surgery {mild case of endometriosis, scar tissue, 5 or 6 cysts}

That first four years was only the beginning of the Lord not giving me what I want when I wanted it, all for something better. I have the giggles through my tears as I type this out because we just think we know what we need and when we need it. {spoiler alert: WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE}

I will continue writing about our infertility journey before our adoption journey. I am just so thankful for those of you reading and joining in our story again. Thank you. I am giddy to be writing again.

Before I say goodnight, I have a favor to ask. I am planning to do either a Facebook LIVE or Instagram LIVE video discussing adoption language. Do you have a question about any adoption related language you have heard? Do you have something you want to say but you don’t know how to say it? PLEASE ask me! Comment here or shoot me an email {kaileyabirkeland@gmail.com} or private message me on Facebook.

So much love for you sweet people!

there is always more.

Last year was a lot to process and I recently told a friend it wasn’t my usual struggle of *waiting on a child* which was new to me – the main theme of my life from 2008 – 2015 was *where my baby at tho?* – oh, little did I know, there was more work to be done in my heart. Moving us from our very comfortable surroundings was just the ticket. And boy, did the Lord werk.

My surroundings were not comfortable. My heart wasn’t comfortable. I wasn’t comfortable. moving away from our family and friends that had become family was so difficult. But I kinda surprised myself by not really questioning the Lord. I knew that it was time for us to go because five years earlier Dru and I talked about where we *saw ourselves in five to ten years* – We both agreed that Birmingham would be a great next step for us. We had no idea how or when this part of our story would unfold.

During 21 of prayer and fasting 2016, we were praying for guidance on many fronts. When Dru received a phone call one afternoon I heard that still small voice again. He said, “it’s time.” I immediately thought about our family we would leave in Auburn, but I also thought about ALL our family at church that had prayed Evie into our arms. I didn’t want to take her away from them. I really wrestled with leaving them now after how much they had invested in our marriage, family and our lives.

But the Church supported us and loved us. everyone was so sad to see us leave, but ultimately wanted what the Lord had for us next. And that next step was Birmingham.

It’s so interesting to me how the Lord uses every detail of our lives. It’s like our experiences kinda piggy back on each other. and our faith grows and grows as those experiences happen. IF you chose to be a vessel of His grace, love, and humility. I was silly to think waiting on my first child was going to be the end of my waiting. Or the hardest wait.

So, all of this to say… There’s always more. There’s always more with Him. He has a plan and if we are going to be used by Him, we must be molded by Him. And most of the time, it doesn’t go the way we planned it.

Yes, that’s supposed to be encouraging, but it might not be right now.

If you are in a season like that right now of waiting, know that it is not in vein. He has more.

***************************

I wanted to share a song with you that has really really been an anthem for me the last few months.  It is Champion by Brian and Kate Torwalt ::: check it out.

Shop Small Christmas Guide 2016

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It’s time for our 2nd annual #ShopSmallChristmasGuide … and everyone said, YAY!!! Please consider doing some {or ALL} of your shopping here from this list.  If you are looking for something specific email me & I’ll do my best to help you locate a shop with the items you are looking for.

 I love that I can support adoption, mamas working from home, and support women working to improve their life/their family’s life, and the list goes on and on.

So, I posted on social media that I was in need of small shops and shops that are supporting adoption, and boy did people let me have it! I loved it. I have listed below links and a little info about each shop. If there is an (*) beside the shop, I have personally shopped there. All the other shops were recommended to me by friends on Instagram. Happy shopping, friends!

CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES for Mommies & Babes

The Over Company – the baby OVer is a car seat cover + 360 nursing cover + shopping cart cover – the perfect gift for a mama waiting on her baby!

Softsie – cozy, caring, cool threads for babes that gently nourish all skin types

Mom After God’s Own Heart – encouraging women to love the ministry to motherhood: one vinyl design at a time!

As The Dear Handmades – accessories for mamas and babes

Stitches and Soles – super cute mocs for your little loves {I just purchased Evie’s second pair!}

Turban for Tots – tons and tons of options for headbands, scarves, bows, and even headbands for mommies! {Evie has some and loves them!}

Nooches – the boppy cover that you’ve probably seen in some of our pictures is from this precious shop! I have washed it multiple times and it looks like it just came in the mail 🙂 and precious clothing for little loves!

CheekyCheekyBaby – Nichole {the owner} is absolutely precious! She has made a good bit of Evie’s custom onesies. She creates onesies, precious and super soft leggings, adorable shoes…. yeah, just go look at it ALL! 🙂

MAMAOWLSHOP – Evie wears mamaowl’s turbans ALL. THE. TIME…. They are so comfortable and adjustable! Go check em out and get one for yourself too 🙂

MamaMadeLeggings – precious leggings that are super soft.. about to place an order for some Christmas ones! headbands, baby tees, slouchy beanies, and more!

*Will and Tess – scarves and hair accessories for that *supa fly* babe in your life

SUPPORTS ADOPTION & ORPHAN CARE

*The Adventures of Baby K – flower crowns + bows + headbands + oyster shell jewelry dishes + more!

A Spoonful – upcycled vintage silverware; profits support orphan care

Theresa’s Crochet Shop – Theresa creates precious hats + animals + crochet patterns to support their adoption(s).

The Knotted Nest – prints + nest necklaces + nest bracelets + more!

Live Sweet Shop – a place where handmade cuteness & love come together – For every Sweetie purchased this shop donate money to an adopting family.

Fostered Apparel – trendy tees for your littles

The C Shoppe – handmade felt flower headbands inspired by the owner’s seven nieces & is driven by her desire to become a mommy through adoption!

ThreadLynn – baby & toddler moccasins + handmade accessories for the littles in your life!

An Inch to Stitch – Joyann is creating unique crocheted items as an adoption fundraiser – options are endless! go check out her shop.

Little Lettering Shop – hand letter creations supporting adoptions, go check out my sweet friend’s shop.

Eli and Elvis – Evie has mutliple onesies and a precious hand stamped blanket with her name on it. All proceeds from Naomi’s shop go to support their THIRD adoption. Go check out all their products for your babes!

WilderEveLittles – super cute mocs for littles, plus paci clips, and headbands! Evie loves her two mocs from you, Ms. Jana 🙂 Also, if you are an adoptive family and would like to partner with raising funds, make sure to contact her!

Mercy Ink – prints, tees, and necklaces

The 1500 Tree Project – all purchases help us adopt their daughter — home of encouragement, color, trees, & #faithcards

Wild Flower Mornings – headbands, bows, clothing accessories, & more – this shop is funding adoption!

Heart Knit Home – headbands and scarves that go to support the family’s third adoption of a child with special needs from China. All profits from this shop are being applied toward adoption expenses.

The Copper Anchor – tees, jewelry, greeting cards, and more — profits go to support the shop owner’s adoption.

Twinkle Louise – you’ll find lovely, dainty, minimalist necklaces and sometimes earrings just for you! Every dollar spent goes towards the shop owner’s adoption.

Hazel and Holly – modern, unique and comfortable baby clothes & accessories // All proceeds from the shop go towards an adoption fundraiser.

Ornaments 4 Orphans – super neat idea, check it out! ——>>> “Choose where and when to host your party. Ornaments 4 Orphans will ship you a box of beautiful, handmade, fair trade items. Sell what you can and send back the money you collected and any leftovers. Know that your effort directly impacts artisans and their communities and helps orphans and vulnerable children in Africa.”

JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES

Teragram Design – bracelets + necklaces

Everglam – wristlet key fobs + wristlets & clutches + essential oil bags + makeup bags + tassel keychains.

Whimsy and Wellness – beautiful accessories for you *oily friends*

Softsie – cozy, caring, cool threads for babes that gently nourish all skin types

The Dotted Poppy – jewelry shop

Lemon Sweet Jewelry – modern, simple pretty jewelry for everyday

Happy Fox Studio Jewelry – minimalist, quirky, eco friendly jewelry

Happy Babes – adorable teething necklaces for mommas!

UNCVRD Jewelry – jewelry that is helping end human trafficking. 40% of the proceeds from each sale goes directly to Gems Uncovered to help fun their street outreach, programing for their survivors, and more.

White As Snow 61 – The jewelry purchased from the above link helps women make a living and break free from a life of prostitution.

One Beautiful Life Jewelry – original and artistic jewelry

The Adopt Shoppe – words from the owner, Kate – “I started The Adopt Shoppe out of necessity. My husband, Jason, is a church planter and I am a stay-at-home mom. So we didn’t have money to adopt. Like no money at all. Before I started making things, I looked all over the internet. I wanted to make something different and authentic, as well as uplifting and inspiring to bless women everywhere.”

Noonday Collection – beautiful jewelry and accessories //  Description from their website —- >> “We partner with talented artisan entrepreneurs to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. By developing artisan businesses through fair trade, we empower them to grow sustainably and to create dignified jobs for people who need them. Together we’re building a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected.”

Stamps Of Grace – {added 11-22-15} Jessica, the owner, shared on the Be Brave series this month! Please go check out her beautiful hand stamped jewelry. Perfect gift for moms, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, and list goes on and on!

APRONS

Towns Carlson – Towns is a precious friend of mine and creates very unique aprons that would be the perfect gift for your mom, aunt or grandmother!

HOUSEWARES

House of Jars – stemless wine glasses, mason jars, mason jar tumblers, and much more. lot of customizable options!

NS Pottery – Founded in 2008, NS Pottery specializes in functional wheel-thrown pottery and jewelry, all made with durable stoneware clay. Pieces are handcrafted to adorn home, garden, and body, adding beauty to everyday life. All dinnerware is food, oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe. 20% of all proceeds this year are going to build clean water wells in Asia through Gospel for Asia. Your support will change lives.

The Sparrow Studio – info from their website —–>> “The Sparrow Studio’s primary goal is to create a marketplace for handmade home decor from a cooperative of women in Africa.  The cooperative is composed of 35 women in Kigali, Rwanda.  They are hard working, talented, creative, beautiful moms, survivors of the massive genocide in 1994.  They are also primarily HIV + and hoping to leave the sex trade and a situation defined by shame and crippling poverty.  At The Sparrow Studio, we believe people are valuable because they are image bearers of God.  These particular 35 women have captured our hearts with their stories and their courage.  These women are worth our time, our financial investment, and the best of our creative energies.  We love them because God first loved us. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for choosing Sparrow Studio designs to feather your nest.  Your belief that our work is valuable pushes us to keep growing and creating.  Your purchase is allowing 35 women in Africa a taste of the goodness of God.  Thank you for sharing this journey with us.”

BABE THINGS

Nixi Lauroo – mixture of goodies for your babe

* ModishCC – the cutest monthly stickers {this is where I got Evie’s} the owner is super flexible and will work with you on customizing your order! Great for a baby shower gift or a mama-to-be at Christmas!

SwellForever – Brooke, the founder of SwellForever is so passionate about her work. I personally purchased a ForeverBlanket from her. I love love love the personalized tag that I was able to write to Evie. We use the super soft and cozy blanket all the time. This gift is one that lasts and is so special to the one that receives it.

MIXTURE OF GOODIES

Silverlining Studios – rustic pieces of hope for your heart and home

The Knotted Nest – prints + nest necklaces + nest bracelets + more!

Merci Beaucoup – fashion + jewelry + accessories

Grain and Glitter – rustic creations with a glamorous flare! {rustic signs + coffee mugs + aprons}

Jumping Jack Apparel – graphic tees + headbands + art for you & your little {all goodies inspired by the owners son, Jack.}

The Virtuous Ruby – sewing, vinyl, and graphic design goodies

Little Warrior Nika – wow – just read Nika’s story & you’re gonna want to do that NOW! what an amazing little girl & what a calling the Lord has on her life. go support their shop and help her continue to get the medical care she needs.

Spoken For Shop  – hand stamped items, prints, and unwind candle collection // “every item in the shop will be matched with an organization that is doing the work of justice on the ground in some of the most remote, dangerous and vulnerable areas of the globe. 10% of every item’s purchase price will go directly to the organization it is matched to support.”

She Does Justice Shop {I will definitely be making a coffee cup purchase from Megan!} I love what this shop stands for and the eternal work they are doing! /// “We have made it our mission to support organizations who are working to reach those in need, near and far. We are so honored and excited to partner with the organizations on our ‘Causes We Support’ page. They fight for change in the 5 areas that we feel called to support: adoption, empowering young women, healthcare in Africa, orphan prevention, & anti-sex trafficking. Each month, 10% of our gross sales go to support these organizations and further their amazing work. With each order in our shop you get to choose where your donation goes! We are so proud of the items we offer in our shop: t-shirts that are amazing conversation starters and accessories that fit perfectly into your everyday life. We want to empower you to make a difference.”

no41 – info from their website —->> “When No.41 started, there were, roughly, 100 young adults over the age of 18 living in the Noel Orphanage. With no family and limited resources, the prospect of university or becoming gainfully employed was low. Along with that, confidence was low, dreams were small and hope was almost non-existent. It was important, not only to provide a means of sustainable employment doing a culturally relevant trade for these girls, but also to remind them that they were created for a great purpose, by an even greater God. We all have been given gifts and talents and, once realized, we should spend those helping others and that is where the feeding program came in.” {Click link to read more about the amazing things this company is doing!}

PRINTS, CALENDARS, AND STATIONARY

Brynn James shop – Warm, quirky home + paper goods to make you smile.

Rooted Ink – a sweet friend of mine and her sisters started this shop where they have created prayer journals. I own one and LOVE it. They also offer super cute prints. /// They will also work with families who are needing to raise funds for adoption.

Echoes of Mercy – Custom inspirational digital prints // Proceeds from this shop allow me to be a full-time foster parent and stay-at-home single mama to my 6 and 8 year old daughters from Uganda.

Lotes Love Notes – Mary Cam is my cousin by marriage and is Towns’s sis 🙂 She is the creator of all the watercolor stationary and beautiful prints. She’s so talented and an absolute delight to be around!

Joyful Papery – Emily, the owner, is a personal friend of mine and has the most gracious and beautiful heart. she is majorly talented and a love her creations // go check our her site for beautifully made prints, coffee mugs, greeting cards, word wall hangings and more {she created my Cheers To Plan A print that I’ve posted before on IG}

CANDLES

The Burlap Bag – info from website —–>> “The Burlap Bag is a small operation run by Josiah and Lauren Lowe in Austin, Texas. Greta, their one year old, helps too by laughing and being cute. They started making candles a few years ago and have a passion for great scents and crazy names that make everyone laugh.”

Free 2 Fly – Free 2 Fly was founded to serve women in our community who are unemployed & desire a new path in life.  A new path that will equip them with the foundations they need to be able to succeed and thrive in the workforce . We serve women by supporting, nurturing and empowering them.

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Thanks so much for checking all of these shops out. If you have another shop you would like to share, PLEASE email me {kaileyabirkeland@gmail.com} or share in the comments but make sure to put the link to the shop.

Much much love!

KB

what’s next for Cheers To Plan A?

hi friends!

after praying & thinking about this blog, I’ve decided to discontinue sharing here. it saddens me, but I know this is the definitely the best decision for this season. this blog has been such a space of love, encouragement, and just plain awesomeness as we journeyed to meet Evie Rose.

I share a lot of my daily life & encouragement on my Instagram account. Please follow me here if you want to keep up with us silly folks!

we love each of you & are so thankful for your love for us over the past three years!

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Much love,

KB

Be Brave Enough to be Vulnerable by Lauren

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken…” ― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves 183A7388

And so I ask, “What do you love? “ And how do you know for sure? I thought my love was in Christ alone! …but pieces of my heart have started breaking anyway. How do “important” things compare with the things that break your heart? I’m really asking myself here, but praying this may save you some future heartache.

I told a college graduate today, “It’s all down hill from here!” She gave me the funniest look – like she was trying to decide whether she was more appalled at the truth, or just surprised that I had said it. I just let her ponder it – I wonder how I would be dealing with disappointment and heartbreak now if I had not anticipated “more” in the first place? Life just gets more complicated with each passing year! Wounds and offenses compact and create new lives of their own.

Graduating more than a few years ago, I felt invigorated by all the room to grow and explore. I believed I was sailing on to grander adventures. But, then there were breakups, bad jobs, friends with cancer, hard moves, older adults I looked up to that disappointed me, infertility, and most recently a failed adoption.   My heart has broken and broken over again.

The strange part is, I can give you an even longer list of blessings and still feel the heartache: I have a beyond supportive family, a husband that fears the Lord and loves me well, a job that is above and beyond my expectations – oh – and a side job as a painter that has exceeded ALL expectations, good health, a great home that we got to renovate (we LOVE our new home!) and great friends around us, and I do not take any of this for granted. We are BLESSED.

But, I would give any of it up in a second to have a family of my own.

How can this one thing, this one loss, this “infertility” break my heart so? I didn’t even know having a family was this important to me! I feel like this shouldn’t break my heart – but it does anyway.   The wound it has given me is deep and fresh and only takes a misleading tone to break it again. At this point, everywhere I go my broken heart is exposed.

I cry often, often when I least expect it. Tears come out of nowhere.   And, for me, this is the worst. I can’t control it. I can’t say to my heart, “ STOP! Don’t hurt!” And I find myself embarrassed, ashamed, and feeling guilty that little things have hurt me.

So, I started to protect my heart. I built walls and stuffed bubble wrap around anything that could even possibly hurt it. I left baby showers and Mother’s Day Sunday school classes early when I felt these emotions rise up because I wanted to run to my safe place and cry alone.

But then, there is Jesus. He meets us in our heartbreak, in our pain, and He calls us to love each other. He calls us into community. He is showing me that He is right in the middle of “my” story. And shouldn’t He be?! He wrote it!   Right now, He is calling me to be BRAVE enough to be vulnerable. To KNOW that something may hurt, that my heart may break, that I may cry….in front of people, and that He ordained that. That me sharing my story may help someone find freedom from lies they are believing. That sharing my story may be so so so much bigger than me. That He has a purpose, even in this.

The rest of C.S.Lewis’s quote says:

“If you want to make sure of keeping (your heart) 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.”

The Lord continues to show me that there is power in sharing “my” story, even if I cry!  So I challenge you to be brave enough to share yours. And girl, I know it’s scary! But, God is there with you and your tears are not without purpose. “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” Psalm 56:8

If you need more inspiration or want to hear more of the story Christ is writing for me, here is the link to me sharing my story as part of the Scarlet & Gold #GiveGrace Campaign to raise funds for their owner ‘s IVF cycle. I was so nervous to share with their tens of thousands of followers!!

http://www.scarletandgoldshop.com/blogs/news/44725059-every-story-matters-lauren-duncan

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You can follow along with Lauren on Instagram or on her website.

Get Up & Choose to Be Brave by Taylor Madu

My name is Taylor Madu. I am 28 years old, born and raised in the good old South, a small town, El Dorado, Arkansas. I am the youngest of 3. My mother was a full time, stay at home Mom. Not only was

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she a full time mom, she was Super woman in my eyes. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do. My father was and is currently a full time evangelist, traveling the world, spreading the love of Jesus. We shared our Dad with the world, but when he came home from the road, it was all fun: sports, 4 wheeling, wrestling, the list goes on. Up until the age of 7, life was what I like to call “perfect.” I didn’t have a care in the world.

It was as if in one moment, in the blink of an eye, life went from perfection to pain. My mother sat me down, and told me the words that I will never forget. “Your father and I are getting a divorce.” I knew divorce was “bad,” but I didn’t really understand the fullness of it until I had to walk out the journey for myself.

Life was never the same from that moment on.

There were 3 specific pivotal moments in my life, I can look back and see how the enemy tried to wipe me out. The divorce was the first of many.

Life continued, I grew older, and the voids grew deeper. I found myself searching for stability, searching for peace, for a place where my heart could find rest. The bickering, the physical fighting, feeling torn between which parent to please, the painful words spoken, the split holidays, cops, testifying in court. Oh, how my heart yearned for the days before I ever knew what true heart break felt like. Those days were long gone.

My siblings and I all handled the situation differently, however, the one thing we had in common was that we yearned for stability. In the midst of the chaos and dysfunction, we clung to each other. It felt like we were all we had.

One sibling was abused, by a close friend of the family. When that came to light, we were all devastated. Another hit, and nothing more painful than to watch someone you love so much shattered before your eyes.

From there, Mom suffered an emotional breakdown. I had always thought she was unstoppable, unbreakable, but life contradicted my little naïve mind.

Why do bad things happen to good people? This question is one that constantly resounded in my head. We loved God. We were faithfully in church Sunday after Sunday, week after week. My father was a preacher. We lived and breathed ministry, yet dysfunction was constantly knocking at our door.

At age 15, I got into a relationship. As I previously mentioned, I longed for stability. I felt so lost, and the voids multiplied, and deepened. A boy could fill the voids and fix me, right? Eventually, I lost my virginity, losing myself in more dysfunction, creating more holes within my heart, leaving more desperation and brokenness.He was in and out of my life. I was willing to do anything and everything just for him to stay. Three years later, the lying, the cheating, the emotional abuse, he could do no wrong. No matter what he did, I wasn’t going to leave. My heart could not bear losing one more thing that I loved. I knew that I needed to escape, but after finding out I was pregnant with his child, at age 17, I felt trapped. How did I get here? I loved Jesus. I was faithfully in church. I could check off all of the church “to-do’s,” that I had accomplished, yet so empty, and so broken. Seven months passed. I worked day in and day out to prepare for my baby. I was exhausted, worn down physically and emotionally, yet determined to offer a better life for my baby boy.

Christmas Eve of 2005 I was rushed to the hospital to give birth. Yes, it was 2 months prior to my due date, but my body was saying “its time!” Closing my eyes, as the medication entered through the IV, my c-section began. I remember being scared out of my mind, but so excited at the thought of waking up to my precious baby in my arms.

I felt like I had lost so much at this point in my life. I had seen things fall a part. I watched people hurt others, and walk away. I had messed up and made many mistakes myself, but my child wasn’t the mistake, he was a gift from God. My baby, my joy, no one could take him away. I would never walk out of his life. I would always be there no matter what. It was us against the world.

Surgery quickly passed. I woke up to both of my parents sitting beside me, tears flowing from their eyes. Confused by the grief that was revealed through their eyes. I didn’t understand what was happening. I asked, “Where is Micah?” The words pierced my heart like a knife.

“He didn’t make it, Taylor. He didn’t survive.”

I felt like I was going to pass out. The grief overtook my whole being. I moaned. I wept. I hit rock bottom. For three days I lied in the hospital bed, empty, completely shattered, and lost. How did I get to this point in my life? The enemy had a plan to wipe me out, and it all started at age 7, with the divorce. He was very strategic and patient with every move. One thing led to the next, and years later, I had come to my personal valley of the shadow of death.

I could have stayed there, and died there, but I knew I HAD to GET UP and choose to be BRAVE.

I could not allow the circumstances of my past to define me. I had to align my life with the word of God and fight like never before. I had heard about this Savior my whole life. I thought I knew him. But it was in the valley that I truly found Him, and began to truly understand Him. He became tangible, undeniable. He had promised to make all things new. I knew He was able, but I had to be willing. I chose to get up and allowed Him to lead me on the journey of healing and restoration, but it required the convicted of bravery I never knew I had, and it didn’t happen overnight. It was a process, but a beautiful process.

I learned God for myself. No one could’ve taught me what I learned having to actually walk through the valley. I promised the Lord that I would never let this part of my life go to waste. God is a God who gives beauty for ashes. My life is a testimony of that, and the world needed to hear it. I eventually moved to Dallas, TX, attended Christ for the Nations. I started a new life, and never looked back.

Dallas is where I met my husband, Robert Madu. We have 2 beautiful babies together. Robert is a full time evangelist. We sometimes travel together as a family. Other times, I am a stay at home mom, who is obsessed with her children. It is such a joy to have the honor and privilege to simply tell the world of the greatest love I have ever known, Jesus Christ. And, we get to do it together, as a family! We are a team!

It is amazing to see when you surrender the details of your life to the Lord, how He will exceed every expectation.

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He not only rescued me from myself, but He is now using my story to bring hope and life to others. I promised Him that my situation would not go to waste, or be in vain. I would tell the world of His amazing grace, of His power, and love.

I wasn’t sure how that would unfold, but I was going to make it happen.

God has opened many doors for me to share my personal story of redemption. It is the most beautiful thing to watch how God uses our failures, our scars, to bring healing and freedom to others. He truly is a God that makes all things new.

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You can connect with Taylor Madu on her blog & Instagram