Thursday, August 25, 2016

When We Stay Humble

It's such a freeing feeling when we can live our lives in a way that doesn't come across that we have everything together. When we admit our weaknesses to others and share the realness of life, we connect in a deeper way. I've been in relationships with others where it seemed like we could never share on a deep level our authenticity. Everything came across as "fluff" and "perfection." And do you know where that got us? Not very far. In fact, those kinds of relationships leave a person feeling like they are very neutral and fake.



God wants us to put it all out there. He knew we needed community and honesty. He didn't create any of us to be perfect or prideful. It's all pretend as no one can be perfect, except Christ. We all have our strengths, but also our failures. And when we are willing to admit it with others, we can have better conversations and much more enjoyable relationships.

I love it when I go to someone else's house and they don't feel like it needs to look "Pinterest Perfect" just for my arrival. I know they live there and will have bills out on a counter top. Or they have some dishes near the sink. I love it when it's real life and there's no need to feel perfect. I can look around and say, "Yep, that's my life every day!"



I love it when someone doesn't have to have it all right. They don't need to look, act, or be perfect in order to be them. They can admit their screw-ups and moments when they had meltdowns. We can both laugh and agree that we've had similar days. When we are real and genuine, we can relate. When we sit there and point fingers at others in their missteps as though they weren't perfect, it becomes superficial.



I read this quote recently that said, "True humility is staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know." When we are around someone who always has to be right, thinking they are higher than others, and act prideful towards others, they can be a real drag. There is no chance of even being responsive as it's too difficult to make any conversation with them. Those who know something already or even think they know will still listen to others. It's like speaking with a child and when they are excited to share their knowledge, a good parent listens while getting excited along with them, even if the parent already knows it. If a parent begins to talk over them, showing they knew already or tries to correct the child's moment, it's a real disappointment.



I have this wonderful Aunt who always listens and gets excited when another person talks. She is very empathetic and understanding when you talk with her. She's an easy person to have a relationship with, but also someone I feel that I can go to when I'm unsure of something as I know she carries with her great advice. This is the kind of relationship we all desire. To be heard and to be real is the best kind.




One of the reasons I started this blog was to be authentic. People assume that being a mother of a large family means that I have it all together. There are many days I fall apart. I have meltdowns and moments where I don't even know how to handle a situation. I get anxious, worry, and have so many imperfections, it's actually kind of funny.

In a world filled with social media and sharing only our best, it's easy to assume everyone else out there has it all together. Instead, we need to admit we are all messing up every day. We all have kids who have inconvenient meltdowns or cereal nights where we just don't feel like cooking. Or we have days where we feel like the monster from the other side. But we also, recover and pick back up our own two feet. And until we readily admit we just don't fit that expected, perfect mold that the world wants us to think exists, our relationships with others will sink.

It's easy to get in that prideful mode as we all at times think we are superior to others in one way or another. If I were honest, if someone compliments our family's manners in public, I sometimes get a little prideful thinking our family is something else. I really have to remember that although I just love my family, we also have our troubles too. In order to build better relationships, we must admit fault, even to one another. And then move back to being humble.

So next time you feel like you need to have it all together, DON'T!!! Having humility in our relationships with others makes us honest and true. And with that, we will be a better friend to others.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Being Betrayed By Fear

Eight months ago, before Jonathan arrived, I had no idea what was in store for our lives. I feared the unknown and my heart carried with it so much worry. And while there are still moments I struggle with the unknown for his future, whether it's the surgeries or bullying he may face, I can truly say that fear is a liar. It's there to rob us of any hope we have in Jesus. It's there to attempt to make changes to important decisions that God is leading us to make. It's there to misdirect our hearts and shout it's ugly head in places we don't feel we can measure up. It's there to create division in our families and a spirit of discontentment in our homes.

Is this what we really want? Do we really want to allow the enemy to spit these weapons of lies into our very presence to weaken our attempts to be filled with hope? Are we going to allow ourselves to be captured and controlled this way? Do we really want the torches of Jesus we carry to be dimmed and put out because we don't think we can make it to the finish line?

I mean, just look at this sweet face. We've been through months of doctor's appointments and a major surgery already. Sure, it was hard. Handing over a baby to be worked on is not easy. But, we made it through and God knew we'd get here. He knew this was the place and time we would be. We were able to thrive so far through some difficult moments.



If we can just lay our fears at the feet of Jesus. If we can just surrender what we wish we knew about tomorrow. If we could just spend more time soaking in His presence while releasing the very things that make us anxious, we'd be better off. We are being fed lies each and every day. It's so easy to listen to the lies versus stepping past them towards the truth.

It's time to call it's bluff. No matter where you are right now in your life or what lies you are being fed. It's time to face them head on and say, "I'm not allowing you to control me. My fear is in God and God alone."

Maybe you are fearing a relationship right now in your life and how to make it work. Maybe you are afraid of the illness or injury happening to a friend or family member. Or maybe you are in a place of loneliness and feel you don't have anyone to help you through a hard thing.

It's time to get brave and seek Jesus. Now is the time to give your worries to Him and Him alone. Don't allow those fears to ruin your life.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Unspeakable Joy Exchange Round Four Giveaway

This is a giveaway that I am hosting as a bonus to bless someone who has donated to Cleft Kids, signed up for the exchange, and shared about the event on social media.

I am so thankful to you for your donations, support, prayers, and willingness to get this out through word-of-mouth. Because of your generosity, this is for you.

One winner will be chosen after the exchange has closed through Giveaway Tools. If you are here by accident and have not completed the things mentioned in the first line, go back to here to get started:
http://unspeakablejoymovement.blogspot.com/2016/04/unspeakable-joy-exchange-round-four.html

This giveaway features a $25 Amazon gift card and a book called Fast Friends.



To enter, go here:


http://giveawaytools2.com/share.php?giveaway=27796231490

Unspeakable Joy Exchange Round Four- Cleft Kids



People assume that since a child is born in the U.S. with a cleft, they are able to have easy access to medical care. Realistically, many families in the U.S. don't have insurance or enough insurance to cover all the costs of medical care. According to Cleft Kids.org, "the reality is that raising a child in the U.S. with a cleft costs approximately $100,000 more than raising a child without a cleft. The cost of a single cleft repair surgery often exceeds $25,000, with most cleft children needing multiple surgeries. "



Cleft Kids was founded by a cleft-affected family. They wanted to create a place for families to help support other families. They assist families who have needs to cover their medical costs. Also, they send out cleft care packages to those children getting ready to have their surgeries. You can read up more about this great organization by going to: http://www.cleftkids.org/

This organization is very near and dear to my heart as I have a baby who was born with a cleft. He is going to have his surgery coming up on May 9th. So I understand the worry and fear that these other families face. Our family is blessed with great insurance and wonderful support from our community. There are some children that don't have either of those options.

Here's our little guy, Jon Luke!

For this round, I am offering two plans for this fundraiser. Depending on what you are able to give, pick the one of your choosing to do. The first plan is you can send a $5 donation to their website that goes to help others in need. There are three options for donating: Paypal, credit card, or check. Go here for this option: http://www.cleftkids.org/donate.html

The second plan is you can sponsor a child through a donation of $15. This goes toward a cleft care package that is sent to the child of your choosing. This package is created to help the child through their surgery with items like a stuffed animal, books, etc. The link for their sponsorship program is here: http://www.cleftkids.org/store/c7/Sponsorships.html

Here's the cool part! You get to decide how you are able to be apart of this round for the fundraiser. If you can only give $5, then choose the first option. If you can give more, choose the second option and send a care package. I will leave that part up to you to decide.

Are you able to pass on that Starbucks coffee today to help bless another family in TREMENDOUS ways? Let's do this, friends! Let's come together as a community and help these families out by bringing an anonymous smile to their faces.

After you have donated, please send the following information to my email at unspeakablejoymccoy@gmail.com:

Name:
Address:
Email Address:
Instagram/Facebook/ Or Any Other Social Media Info:
Favorite Bible Verse:
Home Décor:
Favorite Colors:
Hobbies:
Favorite Snack:
Any Other Info About Yourself You'd Like To Share:
Prayer Requests:
Do You Mind Shipping Internationally? Y/N





***What is this exchange and why am I sending you this information? This is so you can be paired up with another Sister in Christ. You will send them a package in the mail and they will send one to you. It's a fun way to not only help a family anonymously above but also get to know another believer from around the world/U.S. You are also welcome to email me the above info to unspeakablejoymccoy@gmail.com. Here's more info about it below***


You have until May 2, 2016 to sign up for the Exchange. After that date, I will be contacting you with your mail partner's information. With the information you receive about your sister in Christ, you will send them some fun surprises in the mail based on the info they shared with you that would bless them. This time's challenge is to send your exchange sister: something with their favorite color, something from nature, and the last item of your choice. (Ideas: something with their favorite Bible verse, journal, Starbucks/iTunes gift card, scarf, book, coffee mug, washi tape, picture frame, jewelry, snack, lip gloss, an item that goes with their home décor, you name it!). Perhaps, you are a creative person. Feel free to make them something handmade. The sky's the limit!

There are 3 items total you will be mailing to them (or more/less depending on how you'd like to do this- please use this as a guideline to help you or be as creative as you want to be), and they need to go out NLT May 20, 2016. This does not need to be an expensive exchange. The minimum does need to be about $15.

Here are the steps for this exchange:

Step 1:
Donate to Cleft Kids using one of two options.  
Option #1: Send $5 to their organization at this link: http://www.cleftkids.org/donate.html
Option #2: Sponsor a child to receive a cleft care package at this link: http://www.cleftkids.org/store/c7/Sponsorships.html
Remember, you cannot participate in the exchange until you have donated. This is the purpose behind the fun! :) We are helping to bless another family in whatever way we can.


Step 2:
Sign up for the exchange by emailing me this info to unspeakablejoymccoy@gmail.com
Name:
Address:
Email Address:
Instagram/Facebook/ Or Any Other Social Media Info:
Favorite Bible Verse:
Home Décor:
Favorite Colors:
Hobbies:
Favorite Snack:
Any Other Info About Yourself You'd Like To Share:
Prayer Requests:
Do You Mind Shipping Internationally? Y/N

Step 3:
Pray for the family you sponsored!!! Or pray for the Cleft Kids organization that they will be able to get the help to someone in need. Get the word out about the exchange through your social media sites. Even if you do not intend to participate, we need to get the word out in order to get enough participants in this exchange. So share away!!!

Step 4:
You will receive your exchange sister's name/info NLT May 5, 2016. I am generally quick with getting that info out. But in the event that something happens, you will have that info by that date above. Be sure to check your email for the info. If you do not receive it by that date, please let me know. I may not have received your info for the exchange. After you've received your sister's info, pray for her the next couple of weeks. Feel free to send her an email and introduce yourself. If you have a social media account, find her there.

Step 5:
Get the package together over these couple of weeks. Feel free to use this as a guideline as to what to send them:
  1. Item of your choice
  2. Something from Nature
  3. Item with their favorite color.
If you have another plan of what to send them, you are welcome to it! If it's only one item or more than three, that is up to you.

Step 6:
Mail the package by: May 20, 2016. I am trying something different with this round. I am asking that you send me your tracking number once you've mailed it (unspeakablejoymccoy@gmail.com). I want to insure that everyone receives their package. If I do not receive your tracking number, I will contact you. If you do not receive something from your exchange sister, please let me know. I don't want anyone to walk away from this exchange empty-handed.

Step 7:
If you have an Instagram/Facebook account, please share what you are sending to (all wrapped up) or receiving from your sister. Include the hashtag #unspeakablejoyexchange2016 and #unspeakablejoymovement This helps those in future rounds to know what to expect. (You can look back at other's examples using #unspeakablejoyexchange2015)

Step 8:
Finally, share about this exchange with your friends and family. The more we have involved, the merrier.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you will not be able to donate at this time, please pray for the children listed on that site who are getting ready to have their cleft surgeries. Even more, please share this with others. My prayer is that we can help other families out with donations, prayers, and word of mouth!

FINAL BONUS:
NOW... If you have donated, submitted the info for the exchange, and shared about this with family/friends through email or social media, you are eligible to enter into a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and a new book called Fast Friends. Wendy Simpson Little was a former teacher of mine and a friend of our family. You will be inspired by her new book.



Follow this link to the giveaway page to enter. You can enter in daily until the exchange closes and a winner will be chosen at random by Giveaway Tools. Go Here Now...:
http://unspeakablejoymovement.blogspot.com/2016/04/unspeakable-joy-exchange-round-four_22.html

Thursday, April 14, 2016

To My Cleft Baby

Dear Jonathan,

God knew what I needed before I knew you existed. We'd make great companions through this journey called life. He knew I needed you during the tough times of life when I feel like I am failing. He knew I needed you during everyday battles when a smile goes a long way. Because as you know, when you smile at the world, the world smiles back.






God knew I needed your smile. He knew your smile would be a reminder of His love for me. When the days are the hardest, I can look over at you. Your smile is wider and happier than any I've ever seen in this world. He knew it'd be perfect for me.




And it is perfect.


He made you with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. It only occurs in 1 in 700 babies. You are one of those rare wide smileys that brings the perfect uniqueness to this world. Not everyone can be blessed with your smile. Only 1 in 700 babies are chosen by God to be gifted with this marvelous treasure.



And I know I'm not the only one who enjoys it.



When we pass people in public, they remark on the smile you carry around. When your siblings are in the heat of a moment, they see you smile and can't help, but turn happy. When daddy arrives home from a long time at work, you remind him of why it was worth the hard, long day. When life hands me lemons, your smile turns it to lemonade.





I didn't always know it'd be this marvelous.





When I first talked to the doctor after the 20-week ultrasound, I had so many questions. I didn't know what it'd be like or how hard it would make life for you. I didn't know much about it at all. I wondered why God would give this to you. Little did I know, it was for us all to enjoy.


Then you arrived and were placed in my arms.



I looked down at you and instantly felt love in my heart. You were a quiet, calm newborn. You hardly ever fussed at all. The worry of how feedings would go and the care of your cleft were quickly overshadowed by your soft head pressed against me. Instantly, I knew this gift that had been entrusted to me was a precious one. I knew your very being here would change the world.





Soon after, you gave me your first smile.



Not only did you smile with your sweet mouth, but your face also lit up the room. Your eyes smiled with it. And so did my heart. It was just what I needed as I faced a brief season of winter. Life was crazy hard at that time. Yet, your smile helped keep us together. It reminded each of us of God's amazing grace.



Your brothers and sisters fell in love with it too. They marveled over how fun it was to have you in the family. They took turns holding you, reading books, and playing peek-a-boo games. You smiled brightly which showed your interest in them. So they continued to entertain you some more. You have enchanted us all with this beautiful, amazing gift.







And now we head soon into surgery.

I realize your smile will change. Although it's for the best, I know that the way God created you is better. It has changed me in many ways. I look around at the world and notice the things that make us unique even more. It reminds me of the different ways God makes us all according to His image.


I don't want to change it. Now that we have you here, I know that wide smiles are the best kind of smiles. I feel like we are apart of a cool "smiles" club and being a bilateral cleft means the even cooler kind. It's all going to change as they close it all up soon. Your smile will still be amazing. But I will miss the original one you were given.




Now I leave you with this one last thought.

I want to remind you that if you ever look back to read and wonder how you were born, you will know that you were given one of God's exclusive designs. And even after the surgeries you have to repair it, I hope you know that this is part of a purpose He has for you. Find what it is that He is leading you to do in your life and remember He chose you to be apart of the 1 in 700. He chose you to be cleft strong.



Love forever,

Mom

Thursday, April 7, 2016

When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Job 6:11 (NLT) But I don't have the strength to endure. I have nothing to live for. (spoken by Job while longing for death to end his misery)

Ever come to a point in your life where you wonder where the punch line is at? The events are part-laughable and part-misery.  Suddenly, there are moments where you cry out wondering if your life story is starting to run parallel to Job? You ask yourself, "Why is all of this suffering necessary? I would just LOVE for things to calm down. Where is my break? This doesn't make sense. How can things turn out so wrong?"



The very things we dream for our life become the uncertain plan. We think our dreams are unquestionably, honest to God going to be the path we will take only to find out it wasn't meant to be. It becomes this mental, wrap-around explosion of confusion. It doesn't make sense and it starts to become a disappointment. For some, health issues change things. For others, relationship issues can do it. Whatever the case may be, it's disappointing, difficult, and deeply distressing at times.

Sometimes dreams become a distant cloud floating away across the sky. Other times, dreams shatter like a piece of glass and cannot be put back together. Dreams of great adventure turn to everyday, monotonous activities. Dreams of exciting ideas don't even get the chance to happen because of change. Dreams of hope feel out of reach and leave you almost breathless. Dreams of pure happiness are broken by some relationship's bad aroma. And dreams of peace are disrupted by annoying anger. 

It happens. It happens to you and me. Our dreams can change in an instant. Or they could be stretched out over time with long periods of uninterrupted U-turns. But we must be prepared for when it comes. 

Job 23:13-14 NIV "But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store." 

Job 42:2 "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted."

God has his reasons beyond our understanding for things to happen in our life. He is Sovereign over all of His creation. When we give our life to Christ, we give Him full reigns over us. We say, "Ok, God! I trust you and you alone. Take my hand and lead me where you want me to go." And He wants to do that very thing.



We have to set our dreams aside and turn to what God has planned. In retrospect, Ruth never imagined her first husband would die. If he hadn't, she wouldn't have met Boaz and under that line came Jesus. Jonah's plan to run from God was interrupted when he was cast overboard to be swallowed by a fish. If he didn't take that boat ride, he wouldn't have made it to Nineveh to turn hearts back to God. John Newton, a wealthy slave trader, turned to God after a scare across the waters in which he wrote one of the greatest hymns of all times, Amazing Grace. It wasn't until many years after that time that he actually began to publicly speak up on the horrific environment of slavery. 

The thing to remember is that God uses our sufferings, stories, and change to do something. We may never know the true reason for His plans while on Earth. It doesn't mean it's going to be easy. We aren't always going to accept these plans with grace. Likewise, Jonah didn't want to accept God's plans. He would rather run away on a ship. I imagine Ruth wasn't always sure about the idea of traveling with her mother-in-law to a new land. Remember how bitter Naomi was about everything that had happened. Traveling with a bitter person couldn't have been easy. And even John Newton had to be hesitant on sharing what he really knew about slave trade as he didn't publish his forthright pamphlet on it until years later after coming to Christ. 

But they each had a purpose. The same goes for you and your life. Your dreams may change but the dreams planned for you are greater. God wants the best for you.



One of my favorite songs by the Cranberries has similar lines. When I hum the song in my head, I almost relate it more to my relationship with Christ. Life changes every day and so do my dreams. However, as much as we want our dreams to exist, when we give full reigns to what God has planned for us, we are better for it. 

Listen to the lyrics and try to apply them differently as in reference to God. Feel free to play the video here. This newer version is sung by a different artist:







Friday, February 5, 2016

Let's Be Brave

Upcoming, we have two of Jonathan's surgeries written down for the books. The first surgery is scheduled to take place on May 9th. This will be the first lip surgery repair. The second surgery is scheduled for September 12th. This one will be for his palate. In all honesty, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Why? Because I've fallen in love with this baby who has a bigger grin than I've ever seen. And let's face it! He is constantly smiling. His smile doesn't just start with his mouth but also fills his cheeks and widens his eyes. However, I am also nervous about the whole surgery procedures of handing such a little guy off to people while having him put under and also experiencing pain.





On the other hand, I know his quality of life will improve with the surgeries. His eating will improve as he'll have a better suction with his lips put together. Even more, he won't be swallowing so much air along with having constant drainage going straight from his nose into his mouth. I am super paranoid about him getting sick at this point as I know that would be a nightmare for us both. Having the surgeries will take some of that worry away and I will be more likely to get out in the public with him. For now, we are in a season of staying home and away from germs as much as we can.




After having the NAM in for a total of 33 days, we went in to see Dr. Granger this last Monday. He went ahead and added the nose stents. This has changed things a bit for him. I wish I could say everything is peachy-keen. But this past week, it has not been that way at all. He is fussier and more irritated. And why wouldn't he be? He has something tightly set into his nose that not only feels like fingers in his nose constantly, but it also creates lots of friction leading to sores and nose bleeds. I am finding that I have to take it out when it gets too painful to give him many breaks as he adjusts to the new addition to the NAM.




So he's angrier right now with it and sometimes I just wish I could throw in the towel. It's hard to be a mama of a baby who is so uncomfortable. Yet, I know this procedure is going to be best for the long run. And not using it, I will always look back and think that things could have been better for him if I had used it.



But God is good and I try to focus on being thankful for things. I am thankful for the medical insurance, healthcare, and modern medicine that allows for Jonathan to thrive. I am thankful for older siblings who constantly pour out love to him. I am thankful for extended family and friends who have shown tremendous encouragement to us. Also, I am thankful for being this little guy's mom and getting to be apart of something special, even though it's hard.



I once read a quote that said, "Do not pray for the hard thing to go away. Pray for the bravery to overcome the hard thing." It really resonates with me during life moments like this one. I can't pray for the cleft lip/palate to go away. But I can pray that God gives me a bravery to overcome the hard thing. And with His help, He will. He has helped me so many times already. Often, I feel like having a pity party. There have been many times that I've cried. But all of the hard things about this process have given me perseverance and hope for greater things to come.



Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

We all have hard things to go through in life. We can pretend everything is fine and life is good on the outside. But we are all torn human beings on the inside. We may not reveal it, but we all have our battles. I don't know if it's partly because of the social media era where we put our best of everything out there. We only tend to show the happiness of life. Even I like spreading that unspeakable joy with others. Smiles often lead to more smiles and that's been proven. Still, we must also remember that we are all trying to be brave on the inside so we can carry on for the outside.




Nonetheless, please allow me to be an encouragement to you to keep on persevering through those days where it's hard. Allow it to build your character and bring more hope in the One who loves you unconditionally. Look forward to what lies ahead and remember that throwing in the towel only leads to defeat. That's what the enemy wants from you. He wants you to feel defeated. But God wants you to put on that full armor for Him so you can stand firm. Most importantly, be sure you keep looking to Him so He can make you brave.





_______________________________________________________________________________

So far, we have raised $580 for the Mia Moo Fund through out t-shirt sales. The proceeds for the sales goes to help those needing financial assistance for cleft repairs. We have been blessed to have such great insurance that covers most of Jonathan's appointments and procedures. However, many families are left falling into deep debt.

This t-shirt fundraiser was created so I could help raise funds for this organization that gives back. So far, 18 families have been helped in 14 states because of people like you who have donated and bought shirts. Thank you so much!



When I set out to create these t-shirts to help raise money, I figured that if anything, our own family here would buy them as our contribution. I figured we'd buy up about 10 shirts to have and wear for Jonathan's surgeries to show our support. And that money from those shirts would be the money that ends up being donated. I've been blown away by your support. Not only have we sold 46 shirts, several of you have made extra donations as well. You have brought tears of happiness to my eyes. All of that money will be such a blessing to someone else. And when I see you wear your shirts during Jonathan's surgeries, I know he will feel so loved as well. Thank you all so much!

There is just a little time left to order if you would still like to participate. The fundraiser ends on February 8th. After that, the t-shirts go to print and will arrive to you around February 25th. Please don't miss out! Let's raise the bar high and see what we can do to give hope and a smile to someone else. Go here to purchase a shirt: https://www.booster.com/mia-moo-fundraiser