Happy 4th Heart Day Neely Jane!


“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Never have I cried out this verse more than this day four years ago. Neely’s open heart surgery day. I didn’t know WHAT to pray. All I knew was that I needed God to hold my tiny baby’s heart in His hands and protect her. I knew that if He took her from us on that day, that He was still God. That He loved me AND her more than I could ever imagine.

But that day healing was in His plan. Healing here on earth. Thanks be to God for His protection over her life. I know you might catch a glimpse, but you have no idea the BLESSING that she is to our family. She is amazing. She was the answer to my prayers. She led us to MinLan and MinLan led us to John Preston.

Today we celebrate Neely’s Happy Heart Day! And what an AMAZING day it is!!! Her doctors, nurses and the whole UAB and Children’s team was amazing. I’ll never forget the prayers and love from our many friends in those days. And just look at her now! The sky is the limit thanks to that beautiful beating HEART!!! ❤️❤️❤️

So many of you didn’t know us then….you are new friends! Catch up on this part of our journey at the link below:




Last night I was cleaning out the text messages in my phone. Amazing how many I have kept over the years that have little significance. Then I found these. I sent them to several of my best friends. They were my voice at an important time in my life.

A time when I didn’t have a moment or the strength to pick up the phone. But I needed those closest to me to pray.

This was June 5, 2012…the morning after Neely’s birth.

Hey friends! Just wanted to update you after talking to Dr. Sabens.

Last night when we got to see Neely, I immediately noticed that her sweet little eyes were different, her little tongue was jutting out constantly. I sent Bryan back to the nursery to take a picture of her palm but he couldn’t get a flat one. Scrunchy baby.🙂

We had a discussion last night about her having Down Syndrome and felt like that was most likely the case. Not sure if I have ever told all of you that I have always felt that a down syndrome baby would be part of our family.

We have looked online at a website called Reese’s Rainbow. These are babies/children with DS. The cost is so expensive to adopt and I have been praying that God would make a way for our DS baby in spite of the cost. Looks like he has.

She is having a heart issue.(Transposition) [Later diagnosed as AV canal defect] I will send info soon. They are airlifting her to Children’s. The helicopter is almost here. Love You All!


Below is a text from September 24, 2012…just weeks before Neely’s open heart surgery.

Good morning friends! Can I ask you to pray for me? I feel like I can’t breath and the panic is starting to come. Each time I look at my beautiful little girl my mind begins to race. 

I can’t decipher which thoughts are of the Lord and which are of Satan.  

Many (ok, MOST) of my thoughts are bordering on the absurd but they are there none the less.

What if something goes wrong?

What if God just gave us Neely for a season to further prepare Bryan’s heart for adopting a child with Down syndrome?

What if we were never meant to keep her?

I know from my study years ago in Esther that the answer to my “what ifs” is GOD. He is still God no matter my circumstance.  Just need some strength to be reminded.

We are good here and don’t need anything. Would just covet your prayers.

I Love You All,

I can still remember being this momma on these days. Just reading them brings tears to my eyes. God has brought us so far. He has stood by us every step of the way.

Our days look different now. They are harder in different ways. And God is still right there beside us. Some days I have to remind myself. Ok, most days. I have to remind myself that God has not forgotten me. That He is walking this journey with me.

I’m thankful to have these messages above. To be able to go back and see God working in our lives…giving us Neely, preparing Bryan’s heart for adoption…sending us MinLan and then John Preston. God has a plan for our lives. Only He knows the future.

All I’m called to do is to wake each day and step out on faith. Just to take the next step. He’s clearing the path before me. In this season, I believe He is making my world smaller. And it feels good. And it feels right. God is still God despite my circumstances. I don’t need to ask “what if”. I need to rest in Him. The one who formed me and loves me more than anyone on this earth ever could. He loved me enough at my worst to still send His Son to die for me. Amazing love…how can it be….

Love, Jenifer

For those not walking my path….

John Preston has been home a little over six months….and the journey has been hard.


Not harder than I expected.

I expected the WORST.

And I recognize that things could be so much worse.

And most days…almost every day…it’s not as much HIM as it is ME.

It’s me who needs to let go of the ideas I had in my mind. It’s me who has to let go of worrying about what other people think of me…of us…as we navigate this journey. It’s me who cries out to the Father to give me grace as I parent him.

I am afraid you will stand back and say this is what we asked, wished, hoped and prayed for.

I am afraid that you will be unable to conjure up sympathy for us at the times me might need a bit extended because of the hard days.

I am afraid that our family has become so vastly different than what we used to be that you don’t recognize us any more.


I have so many friends who are adoptive parents. We get each other. We walk these hard days together. With an understanding glance or words typed, we know exactly what the other means. Sometimes we don’t even have to fully explain. We can just admit that today is one of THOSE days and the other momma instinctively knows. She just KNOWS. She offers to pray…she offers to listen…she sends no condemnation or judgment. She just sits with me in the moment and exists. And I need that.

Then there are those of you who have no idea about this path we have chosen. I have no doubt that many of you WANT to understand…you WANT to know how to pray for us…you WANT to make it easier. You just haven’t lived it. And that’s ok.

I want YOU to know today that I see you. I know that you care about us and love us even if you haven’t had the same experiences. I know that you ask about us and John Preston because you truly care and want to know how to pray and encourage us. For the times, I have ever made you feel LESS THAN….if I ever have…because you haven’t adopted….I want you to know TODAY that I don’t see that when I look at you. I don’t judge you because God hasn’t called you to adopt. All I see is your friendship and love for our family. And I am grateful more than you can ever imagine.

I want you all today to know that I can see the light….

I can sense the end of the tunnel in my distance vision and I am seeing the light pouring in…it hasn’t reached me yet…but it is stretching out towards me.

There have been days where all I could see was “orphan”…”orphanage”…”behaviors”…”defiance”…”control”.

Those days are so hard.


But now I am starting to see days that look like “son”…”family”…”safe”…”unguarded”.

There are entire days now where we don’t struggle. Those days feel good. They are often followed by a string of struggling days but we are still beginning to see progress.

I just want you to know that we still know, despite the struggles, that John Preston is our son….that God called us to this…that we know that God did not promise us “easy” but He did promise us strength and grace.

I want you to know that we covet your prayers still. This journey is not over. The path we walk is still hard. We still need you.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

Love, Jenifer


Taking a rest….

taking  a rest


Sometimes, I just want to scream from the rooftops that you have me all wrong…….

I really think YOU THINK I have it all together.

You say things like…

I don’t see how you do it all!

I could never do what you do.

No worries, Jenifer can do it!

But that’s where you’d be wrong. 

I don’t have it all together. Truth is, I often times feel like I am falling apart at the seams.

The extrovert in me has you fooled.  The smile on my face…the need to speak to every person I know out in public….can be so deceiving.

Somedays I just want to be me.

I want to admit that I’m not having a good week.

I want to admit that I’ve made mistakes.

I want you to not assume I have it all together.

I want to be the me with strong opinions that you may not like.

I want to be the mom that is not always the mom of the year.

I want to be able to say that my house is a wreck or that my laundry is piled sky high.

I want to be able to just have a bad freaking day and it be OK to admit it.


So for the record, I don’t have it all together.  In case you were wondering.

And I’m tired of carrying the weight of a person who is expected to.

I’m tired of not being able to share the way the Lord leads me for fear someone will be offended and place the weight of THEIR reaction on my shoulders.

I’m tired of having friends, yet feeling lonely.

I’m tired of dear friends moving away or living so far away that a cup of coffee and conversation is out of the question.

I’m tired of being reduced to an acquaintance instead of a true friend because my heart ACHES to shout for orphans and to make sure that my kids with special needs have every opportunity.

I’m not who I was.

And I’m ok with that. I think.

I’m learning to be.

The last few days, I’ve tried to take a break from the watercolor of social media.

It’s been a good break. I’ve gotten some projects done. I’ve done some reading. I’ve enjoyed my babies. I’ve taken care of some junk that I didn’t want to deal with but I had to.

And, lo and behold, the world has survived without me.

And I’ve realized a few things….

True friends don’t have to be five minutes away in order to positively affect your life.

As friends, we don’t all have to have the same goals and convictions. But if you abhor the things that are important to me, then it might be time for us to bid each other farewell.

I am not solely responsible for the unity of the Christian body. Do I play a part? Sure. But you need to do YOU friend. And let me be me.

The 1,881 friends that I have on social media are not all truly my friends. Many need to go. If you’re just there for the show and not to be a supportive, encouraging friend then I just don’t get why you stay. Pack a bag.

I miss having a voice on my blog. I have been reduced to sound bites on social media and I have more to say. Do others want to read it? Maybe not. Doesn’t change my desire to express it.

I need some boundaries. I’ve worked this week to set up my social media accounts in a  way that works best for ME. I might miss your latest news, picture of your beautiful baby or a funny meme from time to time. You’ll have to forgive me. But boundaries are good. And much needed.

I feel unwelcome. Where? Lots of places. Often times in my town, often times in the body of believers, often times in the world at large. Does it hurt?  Yep. But I feel like it gives me a window. An opportunity to see things as others do….as someone who doesn’t quite fit in. I think God is using this time to open my eyes. To see things through the lens of an outsider. And it is changing me.

I don’t want to do life like I’ve always done it. I don’t want to bend over backwards to make the comfortable feel even more comfortable. I want to use the gifts that God has given me to live life differently. I don’t want you to look at me and assume you know what is in my heart. I want you to get to know me and see that God is changing me. That God is using me. Even when it hurts.  And I want friends that sharpen me….not friends that dull my edge.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

If you are one of those friends, trust that I know who you are. I love you for building me up and encouraging me. I love you for being a listening ear and hearing all the things that I’m embarrassed to tell the world. I love that you sharpen me and I hope I sharpen you in return.

Love, Jenifer









Save Time With Facebook Lists


Let me start by saying, I am no expert on this…all new to me….I was just trying to find a way to see more of my actual friends’ posts in my Facebook feed instead of so much junk. Sometimes I only have a few minutes to check out Facebook…I don’t want to see EVERYTHING…I don’t have time….I just want to see posts from friends that I interact with most.

Ok…let’s see if we can walk through this…. first go to your Friends page on your computer. Next to the friend’s name, you’ll see a little pull down box. Click on it and click “add to another list”…in this case I made a “Sample – Mom Friends” group. You can create a list named ANYTHING! Go through your friends and add them to lists. I plan to make one for family as well as work friends.

pic 1 edit

Then go to your home screen. Over on the left hand column do you see where it says “Friends” and you see my new sample group? If I hover over the left side of it then it gives me the option to add it to “favorites”.

pic 2 edit


Now see it popped up to my favorites on the left hand column?


pic3 edit


So NOW I can log on and click over on the “Sample – mom friends” list or whatever list I want to look at and it will show me ONLY the posts of THOSE people on my page.

See below at the top it says “custom list” and it shows me only the posts from the friends I added to that “Sample – Mom Friends” list? EEEEEEEEKKKKK!!!!! This is AWESOME!!! Now I’m going to make one for FAMILY so I don’t miss any family posts! Then probably close friends, work friends, adoption momma friends that are IN PROCESS so I don’t miss adoption updates….the possibilities are endless!❤❤❤

pic 4 edit

If you are on your phone, just click those three little lines, bottom right, and scroll up a bit to see your favorites…see my sample group there?!?!? YAY!! I would just click “Sample – Mom Friends” to see only those friends in my feed.

pic 5


When you start to create a post on your page, you can also choose for a particular list of people to be the only ones to see it. So for example, you could make a list of people from your kid’s baseball team. Then post pictures from the game and chose their “list”. then they would be the only ones to see your post.

pic last

Hope all that makes sense! I am just figuring it out myself! Ha! Got a question? Leave a comment and maybe we can figure it out!😉