Author Archives: noellekilgore

What Am I Chasing?

You know that saying “preaching to the choir”?  Well that’s what this blog post is for me.  In fact it might just be for me and this is my way of journaling and reminding myself of what the Father spoke to my heart on Sunday.  But I have a feeling, it might encourage and help focus those of us in ministry with the gift we have been given through the local church.  Maybe not, but I hope so.

Ben and I are worship leaders at a wonderful little church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It is simple and messy.  It’s not perfect but it’s perfect for us.  We have found such a beautiful home – a safe place in our church.  We’ve been with it in the beginning and have seen God’s hand through all the details.  As a church, we are open and honest.  We welcome all.  We discuss the hard stuff.  We cry with one another.  We encourage and edify.  But most of all, we seek the heart of God as a people, striving to be “a community shaped by the Gospel for the renewal of all things.”  

We have been leading worship together for over 10 years.  Separately for a good 15-20.  Worship is intertwined in who we are as individuals and a couple.  We have seen an explosive knowledge and growth of worship music in these years.  I remember when Dennis Jernigan and Darlene Zschech came on the worship music scene. The prayer of my heart was to have the influence they had when it came to worship music and leading the world towards the heart of God through this thing I found God in.  It is still a strong desire of my heart.  Nothing is wrong with that.  

But something has taken place in worship…just like with anything, an industry is developed and somewhat perverts the purity of what it starts with.  Does that make sense?  Suddenly people are inspired and running towards making the next “hit worship song” instead of writing from a place of inspiration from the Father.  We chase after catchy melodies and things that worked in one song that should work in another…and it’s skewed with a lot of people in ministry.  We have the opportunity and honor to know many in the worship industry who have a large influence and in those raw moments of vulnerability, staying true to the purity of what worship is supposed to be birthed from…is a struggle. 

We were signed to a label in October and it is such an honor to have people believe in your gifting and talent and want the world to know it on a grander scale.  That’s not what this is about.  This is about an internal struggle I have had to make something of the gift we’ve been given through being a signed artist.  I’ve carried a weight to do something with this.  We’ve asked ourselves over and over “what does this look like for Ben & Noelle” and there are lots of things that come to mind…but in the waiting for clarification, I’ve gotten anxious.  I’ve carried guilt for not “chasing” what I thought I should be chasing.  Let me clarify, this pressure comes from me, not a label or industry or anything…me.  

So on Sunday, as we are encouraging our congregation to lift their hands and ask for healing to come, I felt the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit “this is what you have been given…this is what you are to be about”. People.  The church.  Knowing the stories of our people and loving them through moments of worship so they have the courage to lift their heads…to sing out…to lean into the goodness of God.  We must, we must, we must be good stewards of the gift God has given us through the local church.  As people in ministry, PEOPLE must be our driving force.  Not exposure, not success, not fame, not influence, not the next hit song, not even an income.  Someone walked through those doors carrying a load and they need you to remind them they are not alone.  They need their eyes to be opened and hearts to be encouraged through the gifting God has given you. That is a gift YOU have been given.  Forgive us, God, for seeking anything different.

I want to make sure I’m being clear in saying there is nothing wrong with being a part of the industry.  We love being a part of it.  Nothing is wrong with making music and writing songs and nothing is wrong with having success because of that.  This is just a sweet and kind reminder to myself and to others, of what should be our inspiration and driving force behind the music.  And if we are being honest, it’s very easy to lose sight of that.  Get to know your people. Know their stories.  Know their hearts and what we as a people need to be reminded of in our times of worship. Be inspired by your people.  Birth songs from that.  And maybe that song might not be on the top 100 worship songs, but it did something for your people.  Your local church is what you are to be a good steward of.  You’re needed there.  Social media paints a picture of what ministry is and it so skewed.  So skewed.  Ministry is ugly and hard and messy but it’s beautiful and gracious and kind.  It’s Jesus. 

Bottom line, know your people.  Love them.  Do right by them.  Lead them.  Give them permission to trust you with their stories.  This is the work of God.  This is the honor and privilege we’ve been given in ministry.  Blessings on you friends.  Go and be about our Father’s heart.

Pure Magic

pierce newbornI’ve been going over and over in my head the new abortion rulings in New York that took place yesterday. I’ve debated saying something but it’s been so heavy on my heart.  God has had  an overwhelming declaration lately in our lives, that He has given us a story to share and we must be good stewards with it.  So this is me being a good steward.

First, let me say that this is not intended to shame anyone who has chosen to abort their child.  Although our convictions are different on the matter, I don’t shame you or judge you.  I love you, embrace you and know that was not an easy decision.  Church, shame never brings lasting change, so it’s important that dialogue gets changed with this subject.  It is severe.  Believers see this subject as very severe and very heated with lots of passion behind it.  And they should.  We fight for the unborn.  This is something I will not waiver on.  It’s my conviction and understanding that every life matters and I live my life as so…including refugees, the imprisoned, women, every race and the unborn.

But I have to speak up because I’m looking at a beautiful brown eyed boy across the room who every doctor in America would have given permission to terminate his life up to birth.  I even had a friend text me this morning saying she was weeping watching the coverage because all she could think about was Pierce.  If you don’t know our story, every doctor said he wouldn’t survive.  There was no chance.  We were told over and over he wouldn’t survive, and we learned about his diagnosis at 36 weeks.  It was confirmed over and over on the ultrasound.  It was confirmed over and over and over and over.  He would not live and if he did, his quality of life would be minimal or he would only survive for days.  Even after he was born, the final call on his life came days after, when they shared he would be put in compassionate care (make him comfortable until he passes).  There was zero hope.  But then God.  

I share this because it’s one life that this world needs.  This boy was created for us…for parents who didn’t birth him…who’s birth mom chose life no matter what.  And I will be brutally honest and say that if it had gone the other way, it would have been the greatest honor and privilege to love him for just those sacred moments that he lived.  But he did live.  

I have several friends who have gotten grim diagnosis leading up to their child’s birth.  They were given zero hope…but then God.  I also have friends who birthed children who didn’t survive and would say to you today, loving them up to those breathless moments was the greatest love they’ve felt and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

My prayer is that maybe there is a mom in New York who has been given a diagnosis that now gives you permission to terminate your pregnancy.  Maybe you can’t imagine caring for a child with little hope of life or with complications or special needs BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO WOULD.  Listen to me…your child for them is their dream come true.  We are living proof.  There are other options.  This law gives permission to let fear rule.  To say there are no other options.  But there are.

This is why my heart is so heavy.  This is what is bringing me to my knees in tears.  What if we didn’t have our Pierce?  What if?  Because every good and amazing doctor would say he wouldn’t survive.  It would have been a strong possibility and look what we would have missed out on.  I get sick to my stomach at that thought.  What if?

I don’t bridge this subject much on social media because I believe this conversation never ends in a productive result.  Having a face to face conversation allows hearts and emotions to be seen and heard and not hidden behind a computer screen.  But I’m praying this falls on the right ears.  Even those who are in favor of this bill.  Please take a moment and think of my boy.  How he’s changed our lives and the lives of so many…even complete strangers. His life mattered.  I type this as tears stream down my face.  He mattered.  He deserved a chance. And so do they…the ones who’ve been declared as acceptable to terminate now with this new law. 

Again, this is not to shame anyone who would do this.  But this is a breathing life.  A beautiful life that has purpose no matter how long they live after the womb or no matter how many special needs they have.  It’s a life worth birthing. Maybe you find yourself saying emotionally and financially you are unfit and this plays into you health…I don’t know, but there are other options.  Please consider the other options.  A miracle could take place.  Things could change.  This law is breaking my heart and I pray that Pierce knows one day that his momma couldn’t stay silent and saw that she spoke up for cases like his.  For cases like him.  May he always know that we saw worth in his life no matter what.

And for those who’s life would be in danger by birth, please go over all the physiologic effects you will encounter with ending their life.  Again, I don’t say that in a judgmental way.  I don’t pretend to even walk in your shoes for a minute.  I know what I would choose but that’s my decision.  And I know that the argument, that you should get that choice.  I see that.  I just think this law creates so much danger and loss of life that might have the possibility of being saved.

Please don’t use this blog to shame anyone.  Please don’t use it as an agenda.  Feel free to share it as a different perspective and proof that things change all the time with diagnosis’ and that even the ones who wouldn’t survive otherwise, just might.  I’m so grateful this is our story.  Please choose life for them…no matter what.

Pierce might be one the most beautiful human beings on this planet.  His little body isn’t perfect and he’ll have some hoops to jump through in the future.  He might get made fun of.  He might not get to do things that other kids get to do, but let me tell you what…that doesn’t matter.  He’s pure magic.  Pure magic.

What if?

I’ve always heard asking “what if?” is extremely dangerous…because truthfully, it borrows trouble.  Anytime I have talked to my dad about something I’m concerned about, he ALWAYS says “Don’t go borrowing trouble.”  And it’s true.  What if’s are borrowing trouble.  But in this particular instance, my what if, brings me to my knees.  It shakes me to the core and usually leaves me in a puddle of tears.  It’s vital I ask myself this “what if” daily.

Six years ago, we began our adoption journey.  We had experienced loss and disappointment.  We had lost a child.  We had stress on our marriage; it was a difficult time.  We always knew we wanted to adopt but didn’t know when it would happen in our family plan.  We started the process of adoption from Ethiopia, one being that’s where we felt led to adopt from, but to be honest, an international adoption seemed safer to us. We didn’t want to face the disappointment of a birth mom changing her mind.  We didn’t want an open adoption.  The very thought of that scared us to death.  I had dreamed of being a mom my entire life and the thought of sharing that with someone, freaked me out.  I didn’t want to share my children.  I think every mother can understand that.  But God had other plans.  All that I had planned in my head, what I had envisioned for us a family, was completely different than what God had planned, and thank goodness for that.

When we adopted Pierce, we had agreed to an open adoption.  It was scary.   It was really scary.  I’ll never forget the day she came to say goodbye to him.  Ben and I were a wreck before she even got there.  I was so scared she was going to change her mind.  And there’s no judgment there…I get it.  In fact, that’s what scared us the most.  Here was this incredible child, and the thought of choosing another family for him to grow up in, baffles me…floors me…humbles me…brings me to my knees.  I’ve said it before – I am so grateful for adoption, but I don’t know if I could do it.  These women are my heroes.  What took place in that room that day, ruined us.  We saw a mother grieve over her child.  We saw her hold him and weep as she held him close to her.  I saw the struggle, the utter torment of saying goodbye.  And just like that, all I wanted to do was share my children.  I desperately wanted her in his life.   And then this beautiful family was birthed. More beautiful than I could imagine.

June 27, 2016 our little Rose bud was born.  Again, we watched this beautiful mother say goodbye and it wrecked me.  Fear led up to that moment.  I couldn’t quite celebrate until I knew our birth mom was secure in her decision.  Again…this woman…I just can’t even describe the love we have for her.  I will never understand why she chose us.  Unless you have experienced adoption, you don’t quite understand these things that go through your head.  I know those of you reading this that know us, think “well look at you guys…you provide a wonderful home and life for these kids. I know why she chose you.”  And I see that, but until you experience this, you still don’t understand and it humbles you daily.

February 16, 2018, John Merrick was born.  This birth opened my eyes to so many things and the whole point of this particular blog.  You see when Pierce was born, because of all the complications, we were in a different hospital with him than birth mom.  We were alone with him from day one.  With Rosie, we were able to have our own room and I was able to do skin to skin from the moment she was born.  Birth mom recovered in another room and got her time with Rosie and we did as well.  With Merrick, we roomed with birth mom.  I truthfully didn’t know how this was going to go.  I was nervous. I didn’t want to invade on her time with him.  I ddin’t want to step on toes.  But this experience alone has to be the most beautiful and redeeming one of all of them.  This doesn’t negate our other experiences, it just shifted things for me…for our family…for our future.

Our birth mom had a little girl between Pierce and Rosie that she had chosen to parent.  It is our heart that our children know her and know her as their sibling.  It will take work and effort but 100% worth it to us.  At one point in our time with birth mom and dad, their daughter came to visit.  Pierce came up to the hospital with Ben and him and his sister (not Rosie) played together for an hour or so and I felt the Holy Spirit say “you could have missed out on all of this because of your fear.”  It wasn’t in a disciplinary way but more of a “aren’t you glad you didn’t give into your fear?”  It will never leave me.

That moment is engrained in my head forever.  You see, fear has taken a lot from me.  I think if we are honest with ourselves, fear robs a lot of us of some beautiful things.  Could this have gone the other way? Absolutely.  There could have been pain.  There could have been grief.  I’m not saying it’s everyone story, but something I have learned through the ups and downs, is as long as I have Him, it’s going to be okay.  It will still hurt.  It will still be hard, but I’m not alone and because of that, I can face that fear and take the risk and trust that no matter what, He will meet me there.  But here’s the other side of it…it can be beautiful…it can be redeeming…it can be better than you can imagine.  That is where I find myself daily.

So as you can see, my what if, scares me.  What if we had said, “nope, this is too risky…too scary…the possibility of it all hurts too much”. What if?  Do you see what all we would have missed out on?  Do you see that the risk is worth it?  What is staring you in the face that you won’t approach because it’s too scary?  WHAT IF, my friends…what if?  You are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  You are not out to sea on your own in the middle of a storm.  He is there.  He’s always there.  Let Him rise up in you and be your strength…”because He lives, I can face tomorrow…because He lives, all fear is gone”. Let Easter be this beautiful reminder that He keeps His promises.  He rose from the dead (I mean, that’s a big one) means He’ll keep His promise of never leaving your side.  You have the creator of the universe by your side.  Don’t let fear be your ruler.  Don’t let fear dictate your future. (I’m preaching to myself right now :)). Take that scary next step. Put your yes on the table. your world will be rocked but you are not alone…What if? What if?

Be Careful Little Mouths What You Say

Sometimes, I find myself daydreaming about Pierce being in grade school.  I wonder what he will look like, who will be his friends and to be honest, I usually end up tearing up.  I look at his little demeanor and although I see one miracle after another, I know kids will see a little boy who is smaller then them.  They will see a hand with only 4 fingers on it.  They will see a shorter arm and neck.  I thank God that there will be a lot of them that see those things and it mean nothing to them, but then there will be some who will poke fun.  He will come home one day in tears and it will tear me up inside.

I have a sweet little niece who’s best friend in the world is a little boy who is shorter than her.  My little niece sees nothing different about him…just a really good friend…her best friend.  I’ve watched their friendship and often thanked her parents for teaching her that different isn’t different.  That we are all the same inside.  I pray daily for friends like my niece to come along side of Pierce and celebrate him without hesitation.

First of all, this is not a blog post about supporting Trump (AT ALL) to be honest, I have been disappointed in some of his decisions and broken hearted for the many they have and will continue to effect.  Let’s just take that argument off the table.  This is not a blog about supporting the President.  This is an encouragement, a charge, if you will, to be responsible with your words.  I’ve been wrestling with these thoughts for some time now…really since before the election, but even more so now that we are in the thick of Trump’s decisions.

We live in a society where we constantly say bullying has to end, and yet I’ve never been so appalled by the words I see written on a daily occurrence through social media.  “Bullying 101” starts at home.  Most “bullies” are either bullied at home through siblings and parents or they are in an environment where this kind of talk is acceptable and encouraged.  They watch from example and then act out.  It also stems from insecurity and a lack of confidence for most children.  “I’ll put you down so I can make myself feel better.”

I watched this week as Kathy Griffin posted a photo of herself holding our President’s head.  Although, many were appalled (and rightly so, he’s still the President), I know that many thought it was fitting and laughed.  I am a strong believer that respect is earned and not given so I’m not saying you should respect the man, but you need to respect the office…if anything, because your kids are watching.  They listen to your conversations at home or read your words online.  The name calling “idiot, dummy, stupid…” they take those things into account and if they see you saying and writing those words, what’s to stop them from using those words against others outside of your home?  It is possible to disagree with someone and not call them names.  It is possible to disagree with someone and not spew hate all over social media.  And before the Republicans reading this, cheer, I saw the same thing when Obama was President.

My point…it has to end.  We make fun of his kids, his wife, the way his face looks, his hair, his clothes, the way he moves his hands…and yes, he makes fun of people too, I’m not excusing his behavior and I am not letting him off the hook.  I am saying, that we are better than that.  We have to be better than that.  For the sake of our children growing up, we have to be better.  I need you to be better.  My kids need you to be better.  We need kids seeing kids for kids and not differences, whether it’s beliefs, disabilities, looks, who their parents are…they need to be kids.  Kids should get to be kids.

And it’s not just with our President.  I see it everyday with mom shaming, parenting issues, you name it and there are haters out there commenting, encouraging people to kill themselves…WHAT IS THIS?!?!  When did this become a thing that was/is okay?  How do we bat an eye at this behavior and not stand up for what’s right?  I’ll tell you why…because there seems to be little accountability behind the screen of a computer.  You can say whatever you want…make fun of a celebrities clothes, their weight, their hair…it’s everywhere and I am done with it.  We thrive on satire, encourage it, laugh at it, at the sake of someone else.  If you want to call people names, please do it in your car when nobody is listening, or here’s something you can do…just don’t say anything at all.  I love that social media has given a voice to a lot of things and people but I also hate the voices who have used it as an excuse to bully…because that’s what it is.

It starts with you, parents.  If your kids or other’s kids overhear you calling people names or commenting on someone’s attire or the way they look…they’ll follow suit…and I need good friends for my kids.  Making fun of people will not be allowed in our home…EVER.  Please be responsible with your words and actions towards those you disagree with or with those who are different than you – who believe different than you – who see things different than you…please be responsible.  Stop calling people idiots, stupid, dummy…you’re smarter than that.  Encourage diversity in your friendships so your kids will do the same with theirs.  Different is good.  It’s necessary.  My friends, please be careful with what comes out of your mouth.  Our kids are watching.

Dancing Upon Disappointment

When you experience the beginning stages of loss, the mornings always seem to be the worst.  It’s a reminder of reality; that it wasn’t just a bad dream.  It’s a push into a new day without what you once had.  Loss is such a difficult thing and so hard to process.  This is my second morning to face our loss and each day, it’s becoming more difficult.

Monday evening, we received a phone call that you pray you never receive when you’re in the adoption process (especially 10 days before your due date).  To make a long story short, the father claimed he never knew and he will not being giving consent.  The waters are muddy on what is truth and what is not, but they will not be placing their child.  We have lost our son.  We have both had moments where the breath has been knocked out of us and as we sat at a table tonight, looking at each other, we had no words.  Tears but no words.

You go through shock and then it sets in that all the dreams you once had, even the coming weeks, are gone.  The dream of your child meeting their sibling, helping with their bottle, changing tiny diapers, wondering what they will look like or how their little personalities will be…you mourn the future.  You mourn the dreams.  You mourn the idea of being parents to two little boys.  We know we will have more children.  That’s not the point.  The point is, we won’t have this child.  I won’t get to rock him in his nursery when we return home from his birth place.  I won’t get to kiss his face or hold his hand or put the boys in matching outfits (yes, I dreamed of that – I’m that mom :))

Last night we had worship rehearsal for the weekend and once again, as it’s always been in the past, I was put in a position where I was forced to put praise on my lips.  We’d all be lying if we said that doing that hasn’t been a struggle at one time or another.  As we sang each song over and over, it became easier and easier to lift my voice.  I’ve never been mad at God during this.  I can honestly say that, I just feel betrayed and violated…tricked.  I will never understand why the process for Ben and I to have a family has been so difficult, but I know that if it means we end up with a child like Pierce, we will go through hell and back.

Today, a song called “Heroes” by Amanda Cook has been my anthem.  Here’s a breakdown of what the lyrics mean to me in this time.  I hope it’s an encouragement to you.

“I will trust here in the mystery, I will trust in you completely”

I would be lying if I didn’t say this is a struggle to say.  In fact every time I sing these particular lyrics, I can’t make it through without crying, but I will continue to say them until my heart believes what I’m saying with my mouth.  This is a mystery.  Much of what we walk through is a mystery and the only hope we have is we can trust Him.

“Awake my soul to sing, with Your breath in me, I will worship”

I don’t know what the meaning of the lyrics are for the writer, but for me, it’s asking God to put His breath in me to worship.  Sometimes we don’t even have breath in us to lift our voice in worship, but through Him, through His breath, we can worship.

“You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment”

Now this part of the song, breaks me.  Even before this news, it broke me.  The key word that pops out to me is “taught”  It’s not something we just do naturally.  He teaches us to dance on disappointment and I believe it’s one dance lesson I will take over and over.  He holds my hand through it all.  He hasn’t left my side.  Trust me, I’m in the valley, but He’s with me.  He’s with you.  He hasn’t left you…even though it may feel that way.  He will breath His breath in you.  You will raise your voice to sing and you will dance upon disappointment.

We thank everyone for your prayers.  We ask that you continue to cover us with them.  We are broken and sad.  We are in the mourning stages and it’s hard.  Every package we open up of baby clothes or nursery items is like a knife in our hearts.  Anytime I hear his name in my head, my heart sinks.  We prayed for this boy.  We dreamed of this boy. And now we grieve for this boy. God will redeem this.  He always does.  We trust Him in the waiting.

356 Days

We have held his little hands for exactly 356 days.  I had dreamed about him for a very long time.  I dreamed about singing to him.  I dreamed about kissing his sweet face.  I imagined what silly songs his dad would make up, while they played.  I dreamed and dreamed for years and years.  I also dreamed of watching my belly grow; of feeling the little kicks and movements of life inside of me.  I wondered what I would look like with a bursting belly; would I have that pregnancy glow?  I’ve dreamed about that since I was a little girl.  BUT, I also dreamed of looking into the face of my child, knowing they looked nothing like me, not even the color of their skin, and trying to convince myself that I didn’t carry that child in my own body.

There are many fears when it comes to having a child, both biologically and through adoption.  Being a parent is scary, no matter the circumstances.  No matter how much you prepare, you will never be prepared enough when you look into their eyes for the first time.  Your heart is mush.  You are putty in hands that are the size of a quarter.  When I saw Pierce for the first time, everything in my body shifted.  I had carried that child, maybe not physically, but emotionally.  That child has grown inside of me for years.  I don’t know what labor feels like but I will tell you this…I know what it feels like to birth something you’ve been waiting for.  There are so many times that I forget that Pierce didn’t come from my body.  He is a Kilgore.  He is his father, in so many ways.  I also see his birth mom, when he smiles.  He radiates her selfless ways and beauty.  Pierce isn’t a backup plan.  He isn’t a consolation prize.  He’s our first choice.  He is our child, through and through.  He’s everything I dreamed up, from day one.  He’s my dream come true.

This past weekend, we sang two separate songs, that both mentioned orphans, now having homes.  We were rehearsing at home, while I held Pierce, and when we got to the line “The orphans now have a home”, we lost it.  From the moment we knew about Pierce, he was wanted.  He was chosen.  He was ours, so referring to him as an orphan, is a struggle for me, because he’s just so much apart of me.  I feel as though he was never an orphan.  It’s supernatural, really.  Something I just can’t explain to those who have never experienced it.  He has been ours from the day he was conceived.  Nonetheless, he was an orphan.  We all were.  The spiritual picture you experience through your own child, being adopted, kind of rocks your world.

I grew up in a wonderful home with an incredible father.  I knew if there was something I needed, I could go to him, without hesitancy, and he would find a way for me to get what I needed…not wanted 🙂 but needed.  I also knew that if a friend had a need, I could go to my parents and they would try to figure out a way to get that need met for them, as well.  My father did and still does an incredible job of taking care of his kids.  It’s his honor (he tells us), his privilege.  I could sleep peacefully at night, knowing my dad was going to protect me.  I had/have a secure sense in what being taken care of, felts/feels like.  We feel that way with Pierce.  There’s not one thing this child will need, that he won’t receive.  We will exhaust every resource.  He has access to whatever we have or what our families have.  HE’S OUR CHILD.

Think about the spiritual aspect of being God’s child.  When I do, I hang my head, and say, “Father, I’m so sorry.”  How He longs to take care of us.  It’s his desire; His pleasure.  He has adopted each of us.  What He has is ours already, simply because we are His kids.  There’s nothing like a Father taking care of His child.  When you’re taken care of, you can have the faith of a child.  You can rest, knowing He’s taking care of you. You can depend on who He says He is.  He’s faithful.  He’s constant.  He loves you more than you can imagine. I get that I have a healthy aspect of God as a Father, because I have such a wonderful one.  I get that it’s a struggle for some to see God as someone who longs to take care of us, love us, and hold us when we ache.  But He does.  He really does.  Our Heavenly Father, created the universe.  HE CREATED THE UNIVERSE.  He’s the ultimate Father.  The one who will never leave you.  He will never forsake you.  He sacrificed His Son for you, so that we could spend eternity with Him.  YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE ONE WHO CREATED YOU.  You are no longer an orphan.  You are adopted.  You are His dream come true.

Adoption Month

As many of you know, Ben and I have been walking the road of “unique family planning” through adoption 🙂 This past Sunday, many people brought awareness for adoption/foster care through #orphansunday.  Our church, Mission Community Church, highlighted an incredible ministry within our church walls, called “Esther’s Hope.”  It’s a wonderful support and encouragement for families wanting to adopt or in the adoption process, as well as supporting families in the foster care system.  Our hearts have been pulled in so many directions concerning orphans.  Yes, we are adopting from Ethiopia and we could not be more excited to receive our little one.  The process will take another 2 years, at the least.  The waiting is difficult and at times you forget that there is a child on the other side of all the hoops you jump through.  You get discouraged.  Your heart aches. You see a little one from Ethiopia and burst into tears (yes, this happened to me in the middle of a restaurant!)

 

When Ben and I started dating, we discussed adoption as an option for us, whether or not we would have issues with getting pregnant.  It’s always been apart of our hearts.  Orphans have my heart.  They have Ben’s heart. We did have issues getting pregnant.  2 failed IVF cycles, a miscarriage…and now we are here.  We both had to search our hearts to make sure we weren’t approaching adoption as a consolation prize.  We couldn’t make that next step until our heart’s ache was to adopt.  And now it’s our ache.  It’s been our ache since we started the process of adopting a little one from Ethiopia.  We believe it is the greatest gift…not to give to a child, but to give to ourselves…to see and experience the redemption of Him calling us His own.  When we look at the face of that child, to remember the grace and mercy that He extends to us daily, will change our lives every single day.  Yes, we will change a child’s life, but this child’s life will change so many.  We waited and chose him/her…just as Christ did for us.  He chose us.  He sacrificed for our salvation…to be named HIS…forever, and I am so grateful.

 

Ben and I have experienced heartbreak and disappointment.  It seems as though we get glimpses of our future and then that hope disappears with a disappointment.  It’s been hard to see the bright side of things (which usually comes very natural to both of us).  We had and have to choose daily to remember that He has good things in store for us.  He has blessed us more than we could ever imagine and we are so grateful.  Learning to trust God with your family before you even have one is a challenge,  and we are walking in it daily.  Sometimes, we have victory and other days we feel defeated, but He is still good.  He is still faithful, He is still ours and we are His.

 

A month or so ago, we received a phone call from lawyer (friend of a friend) about a private adoption.  In just 24 hours we found out about a baby boy due March 5, skyped with the birth mother, prayed, cried and 2 days later signed papers to be this sweet baby boy’s parents.  We didn’t want to announce it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or anything really.  The subject is so tender for us.  There are fears, natural fears with adoption.  There are people’s opinion and personal stories of heartbreak, that cloud our thoughts.  But there is also this thought…He has provided what He’s promised to us.  All of this could fall apart and if so, we got to pray for a precious little boy that will stay in our hearts forever.  BUT, this could be wonderful and work out perfectly.  That is our heart’s desire and what we believe will come to pass.  We count ourselves honored to be chosen to be his parents.  We are thrilled, excited, and nervous to be first time parents.  🙂

 

We are asking that you pray for our little one.  We have named him Benjamin Pierce.  He will go by Pierce.  His name is the combination of the men in the Kilgore/Merrick heritage.  He will grow strong and brave.  He will know he is loved and cherished everyday. He will change this world through the love he extends daily and He will be the apple of His eye.  It is our privilege to share this joy with you.  We celebrate his life and his mother’s.  We thank God daily for women like her, who choose to give life to their child and hope to parents like us.  We are the luckiest.  He is faithful.

 

Thank you for your prayers.  We covet them…keep them coming!! Thank you for your encouragement throughout the years. So many of you have held our hand through tears and questions…through the frustrations and pain.  We are so grateful for each of you.  We ask that you continue to pray.  We love you.

Glory

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged or journaled.  I think it’s because I have been overwhelmed with emotions lately, not knowing exactly the order of my thoughts.  We’ve experienced a lot of change in the past 3 months.  We moved from our beautiful home and community in Tulsa, Oklahoma to another beautiful home and community in Gilbert, Arizona.  You know those moments when you feel a nudge by God to do something? Well this move wasn’t a nudge…it was a push.  I’m grateful for those moments.  They don’t happen often but when they do, it’s fun to see it all come together, better than you can imagine.  Home is where Ben is…and our dogs 🙂 so I am home.

A week or so ago, our pastor talked about trials and having faith through the trials.  He described the levels of faith through pain, ranging from elementary to masters.  He mentioned that during the Master level, which some rarely reach, you are thanking God for the storm because you know He will get the glory.  As I listened, I was recalling the last 5 years.  We’ve walked through the valleys and hilltops, but a lot seem to be the valleys.  That’s not a sob story, we’ve just been hit by a lot.  A huge theme being our desire to have children, adoption, fertility and loss.  We’ve been disappointed.  In fact, we’ve stayed in the place of just expecting disappointment.  I’m not saying that was right, just saying that’s where we were.  There have been many times walking through it all, that my heart has wanted to praise God in the midst.  I do believe there were moments when I lifted my head to the hills, and I worshiped and delighted myself in the Lord.  There were also many moments of doubt, fear, anger and just plain sadness.  But something hit me during that message…my children being the glory of my Father.  The outcome of the storm, will ultimately be the glory of our Heavenly Father.  I saw them as a crown around His head.  I then saw friends who are walking through fire, holding their hands.  Your pain, your storm’s end result, is His glory.  For some, that’s a comfort to you…for others, you honestly don’t want it…the pain is too hard.  I understand that and don’t fault you for that.  I have been there and still have moments of being there.

Do I know we will have children, yes.  Will they bring glory to our Father? Absolutely. Is it fun? Nope.  Is it easy? Nope. Do I question His ways? Yup!  I don’t have the answers and it seems that everywhere I turn lately, I’ve encountered pain in others.  I’m very sensitive so it weighs heavy on me.  I want joy for others.  I want freedom and peace for my friends and family.  Just as much as I want that for them and myself, I know He desires it even more.

I know I’ve been guilty of thinking as long as I’m encountering and seeking out a relationship with God, I walk in His blessings. This is true to some degree, but what is dangerous, is when the storm comes, we blame Him.  I certainly have.  Do I think God can handle that? Of course.  He didn’t promise a perfect life.  Your faith doesn’t save you.  His sacrifice did.

Definition of “sacrifice” from Websters

: an act of offering to a deity something precious;especially : the killing of a victim on an altar
2
: something offered in sacrifice
3
a : destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else

b : something given up or lost <the sacrifices made by parents>

4
: loss <goods sold at a sacrifice>
That’s what He did and sometimes it’s what we must do.  I have difficulty trusting people and this plays heavily in my relationship with God.  Today I chose to trust the storm.  Today I trust in His goodness.  I find peace in who He is.  Your storm and struggle is real.  It’s okay to be disappointed, upset and tired.  I encourage you, as I encourage myself to seek His glory in the midst of it.  The greatest thing my children could and can ever be is the glory of God
Definition of Glory:
a : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent : renown

b : worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving <giving glory to God>

2
a : something that secures praise or renown <the glory of a brilliant career>

I can only hope and pray that my heart brings glory to Him.  Hold tight, one day you’ll be dancing in the beautiful security of His peace, joy and freedom.

Oh, there you are, Peter!

WATCH THE VIDEO, FIRST, PLEASE 🙂

Last week my family and I spent some time in Jackson Hole, WY. I don’t know what it is about the mountains or nature, or Jackson, for that matter, but I always seem to hear God with a little more clarity. Maybe it’s because the beauty is so breathtaking, that you can’t help but think of Him and declare His goodness?

One of the days, I was outside, on the patio, and this scene from “Hook” came to my mind. It’s one of my favorite movies. And this is one of my favorite scenes. I cry every time (shocker, I know) You see, Peter (as in Peter Pan – Robin Williams) leaves Neverland to grow up and have a family. His children are taken by Captain Hook. Peter returns to the “lost boys” begging them to help him free his children. They don’t believe it’s him. He looks different. He talks different. He dresses different. It just can’t be him. Well, through different tricks and test, this scene comes about.

This sweet boy (who I could just eat) starts pulling and poking at Peter’s face, resulting in him finally seeing Peter, hence “Oh there you are Peter.” Maybe it’s because I’m a creative mind, but most of the time, God speaks to me through analogies or scenes from movies or things played out before me. As this scene played in my mind, I felt His sweet peace, “Oh, here I am, Noelle.”

How often, after searching and asking for God to appear, to dwell, to intercede, wondering where He is, are we left disappointed? The lesson in this for me is God looks different all the time. His heart and His affection towards us, never changes, but maybe we have to start looking for Him in different ways. Because you see, He’s always there. You may not think it. You may not feel it. It may not look like Him. But He never left. I keep playing those words in my head, “oh, there you are Peter.” It reminded how often I miss God bc I’m not looking in the right places. My mind and focus are desiring a result that I’ve imagined in my head, but the truth is, He might just look different than before.

I just wanted to encourage you, as I am encouraging myself… to pull, and stretch, and move things around, because He’s there, just as He said. Life may look different than you imagined, but He’s in it. He desires you to know Him in all ways. He’s sweet to us and longs to reveal His heart to you…just keep looking, asking. He’s there.

I love how the little one tells the rest, “give him a chance” …just give Him a chance.  He might just be who He says He is.

Grace and Peace

Worship

As many of you know, Ben and I have been through a tornado of emotions and failed fertility treatments, as well as a miscarriage this past year.  A week or so ago, we had negative results from our latest attempt.  We had experienced the letdown of it before, so it was hard, but I had convinced myself that it wasn’t too big of a deal.  Then we had to lead worship that Sunday morning.  One of the songs on the list was “You are Good.” In rehearsal, I turned to Ben and said, I don’t want to sing this.  I can’t sing this.  Being the encouraging husband that he is, he said “we need to.  We need to sing this.”  He offered to lead it instead of me.  When the time came to sing it, I was okay in the first 2 services.  I wasn’t thinking about the words.  I had imagined Ben doing a silly dance while I was singing so I wouldn’t really think about the words.  Then the 3rd service came.  I couldn’t shake it.  I started to sing that song, struggling with each note, and honestly, with each word.  To declare His goodness at that moment, was a major struggle.  I didn’t believe it.  I was mad.  I was disappointed.  Something in me shifted.  I hadn’t paid attention to the words like that before.  I mean, I had, but the conviction of the words, wouldn’t leave.  We had to add a song last minute and it ended up  being “Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone” and the verse I always sing, came up on the screen. “The Lord has promised good to me.  His Word my hope secures.” I literally thought to myself before singing it, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”  I struggled through that verse.  I broke in the car after that service.  It was good for me to face the disappointment and to still declare God’s goodness.  

This isn’t a blog about me declaring victory in a time of defeat.  This isn’t an encouragement to pick up the pieces and get back to work, smiling all the way.  It’s an explanation of what worship is for me.  Sometimes it’s easy and I really enjoy it.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes it’s hard to sing those words and to lead others to the place of believing them.  Did I believe them as I sang them that Sunday?  Honestly, I didn’t.  BUT what did happen was healing.  Worship is always healing to me when I don’t realize it.  It places me in a position of saying those things, of talking to my God, of being intimate with Him and my raw emotions. It was healing.  He wasn’t offended by how I felt.  I take comfort in that.

I tend to be a perfectionist concerning myself.  I have unrealistic expectations, not for others, but for me. I just want everything to be in order.  I don’t want people to hurt, so I try to fix it.  I don’t want people to struggle, so I figure out how help carry the load.  I don’t want people to go without, so I sacrifice things.  This isn’t big on me at all.  It’s to show that I don’t like the “yuck.”  I want peace and happiness.  I want to laugh and feel carefree.  If something is broken, I want to help fix it.  All of this sounds good, but it’s a resounding gong in my head.  “STOP TRYING TO FIX EVERYTHING.”  I even have this expectation of God to fix everything.  Especially with the issue of having children.  He’s able to, so why wouldn’t He just fix it.  Well, Noelle, why can’t you just be still?  To sit in the “yuck” and to feel the grossness?  I’m not saying I can’t be optimistic.  That’s my nature, but it’s vital that I be still and be okay with where I’m at because I KNOW my Savior has me.  That’s what worship is for me.  It makes me face the “yuck” sometimes and it makes me aware of His presence.  

So here’s me.  Letting it all out.  Learning to trust God in the yuck, to be still, and not fix everything.  To lay down my longings, my fears, my control, and sit with my God.  He loves you.  He’s sweet to us.  He wants to hold us in the yuck, tears, and the really sweet and joyous times.  You are loved.  You aren’t alone. You’re His dream come true.