Thursday, December 29, 2011

If you're interested...

On Tuesday, January 3rd, the Louisiana Baptist Children's Home will be making a free presentation at Calvary Alexandria about the foster/adoptive process and the church's involvement in orphan care. Childcare will be provided, but you must register online in order to be on the list for the meeting and the childcare. Go to to register!

If you have been keeping up with our family and have even had a twinge of "maybe God's calling us to do that," and you are able to make it to Alexandria, you should come to the meeting!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More Christmas 2011!

Eli showing off his muscles!!

PawPaw with Jack and Syd

PaPaw at Harrisonburg Christmas!

Sweet Sam

Aunt Jenn and Sydney Kaye!

All the LaFitte girls and grandkids!

Uncle Bob and Aunt Laura with our kids.

Sydney loves her GiGi!

Bob and Laura

Mom, Laura, Syd

Jack and Laura

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

Let's just start from the beginning of Christmas!!

First, we shopped for a tree....
(can you tell by Jack's expression that it was COLD that day?? And doesn't my husband look so handsome in this picture?)

Here is Jack and Sydney in front of the Christmas tree on December 4th. Jack is sporting his new belt from Kaye and Dean!

We also had the second annual Christmas cookie decorating party at the fabulous Melissa Walsh's house. There were about 30 people there. So much fun!!

Sydney just ate M&Ms the whole time. Don't judge. I was trying to control three kids....and all three are quite a handful when it comes to anything with icing :)

Poptart's magnificent cookie :)

On the 23rd we had the Curt Iles family Christmas. We spent the whole day just playing, eating, cooking, herding kids, and taking time to worship and reflect on what God has done in our families in 2011.

Sweet Luke.

Jack got a "shiner" on the fourwheeler and was not a happy camper during suppertime.

The cousin table...the only picture I can post of lots of kids because in the rest of the pictures, you can see Poptart's whole face.

Gingerbread house making!

It looked pretty good for about 5 minutes. Then it ended up in a messy pile!

On Christmas Eve we went to the service at Calvary Alexandria. I thought the service started at 4:30, so we got there at 4:05 to take pictures. The service actually started at 4:00, so we had to go to the overflow room because the sanctuary was packed. Ended up being a good thing because we were the second family to light the candle tree (tradition at our church)!

On Christmas Day, we got up, opened presents, and headed to church. We didn't last very long!! There was no childcare provided, and Sydney was getting LOUD....then Poptart had to go to the bathroom, so before we knew it all five of us were in the lobby. So we just went on home. HA!

My family came to our house for lunch. I hadn't seen Sam since he was born, and Clint hadn't seen him at all! It was so fun to snuggle a new baby!

More pictures in another post...Blogger won't let me upload anymore :(

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Well-Watered Garden

On Tuesday we had Poptart's Family Team Conference (FTC). The FTC is a meeting every six months in which everyone involved in the case comes together to chart progress, make changes, and formulate requirements for the birth parents, foster parents, and case workers. It can be a tense and awkward meeting, as you can imagine.

Clint and I, Poptart, and her family all had to wait together in a tiny waiting room while the case workers and attorneys arrived. I had this overwhelming sense of....

I don't want to be here.

These people are so different from me. They look different, talk differently, are educated differently. I wanted to go to my home, embrace my precious children, deadbolt my door, and leave it all. I wanted to return to my life of normalcy, and return my family to its original state.
For goodness sake, I wanted to build a picked fence, plant some tulips, and put the blinders back on my eyes.

In an effort to be real, I'll just say it: I didn't want to be associated with those people.

How's that for transparency?

But on my way home, in the blinding rain, God convicted me of my awful pride and reminded me:

Amanda, you are those people.

Jesus is God, perfect in every way. And yet he "humbled himself as a man." He became one of us. He didn't just associate with us....he BECAME one of us. And He saved us. He saved us from our filth, from our brokenness. He "lifted us out of the mud and the mire and gave us a firm place to stand."

When Jesus was walking on Earth, he broke bread with the lowest of people. He didn't care about social status, education, or cleanliness. He loved. He died. He redeemed.

When I found out I was pregnant with Jack (we had decided that week we would wait one more year to start a family....oops), I clung to Isaiah 58:11-12: "The Lord will guide you always, he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." And the Lord did provide for us through after-school tutoring, frying catfish, and an extra graduate stipend for Clint. I will never forget how clearly God spoke to me that night when I was scared, pregnant, and broke.

A couple of years ago, God redirected me to Isaiah 58. The WHOLE chapter. Directly before those precious verses of 11-12, vs. 9b-10 says "If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, THEN shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday [emphasis mine]."

Friends, as much as I DON'T want to have the child begging for food at a Christmas party, hate changing her sheets every other night, and cringe every time we have to teach hygiene, I DO want my light to shine like the noonday.

I want to be a well-watered garden.

This week we have been reciting John 3:16 in preparation for our family Christmas gathering. Poptart is in charge of the first phrase, and Jack in in charge of the second phrase. As we were practicing the other night, Poptart had her own little twist on her part. She squeezed her little eyes shut and said...

"Por God so wubbed da wold dat he gabe his speshul Son."

His Special Son.

I couldn't have said it better myself, Poptart.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kitchen Cabinets Done and Living Room Update!

I'm addicted to DIY projects around the house because:

1. it's cheaper than buying new stuff.
2. I like new stuff.
3. it's cheaper than buying new stuff.

So, there you go. Shallow as it gets :)

A while back I started painting the kitchen cabinets and f - i - n - a - l - l - y got them done a few days before Thanksgiving. I love how they turned out! Definitely brightened up the kitchen!!

THEN, my dad bought us a new TV for Christmas. So incredibly excited about it!! I've been wanting a piece of furniture to organize my fabric in (which is a huge catastrophe in the laundry room). So, when we got the TV, I decided that "Stitched" should buy a dresser from the fabulous Melissa Herrington to house the fabric and put the TV on top.

Oh wow. She did an awesome job. The top two drawer fronts were missing on the original piece, so she put baskets up top (which now holds the DVD player and the remotes). We bought a Roku box with the TV, so now we can stream Netflix onto the TV. So much fun!

We had a rocker in the nursery (which has been through THREE babies now), but a six-year-old girl doesn't really need a rocker. So, we moved the rocker to the living room. Three babies does quite a number on upholstery, so I am ambitiously wanting to slipcover the thing before Christmas. Hopefully the tutorial from Pinterest will be enough???

And the cover I've had on the ivory loveseat is in need of replacing, so for $5/yard, it will be a fabulous gold with a great pillow out of the striped fabric.

Hmmmmm....maybe I should get busy?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


In the last ten days our family has grown by one. And no matter how a family grows, whether through birth or adoption or, in our case, foster care, the whole family seems to just hunker down and get through it for a couple of weeks. Anyone who has had a child knows exactly what I mean. All of a sudden there's someone else to factor into everything you do, from breakfast to carpool to bathtime, and it just takes a while to get that new routine established and ordinary.

In our case, our new addition brought with her heartache, pain, and disorientation. Yes, she was gaining a spot in our home, but she was also losing her family (at least temporarily). So although Poptart and Jack and Sydney love each other and get along very well, she is still grieving and dealing with a huge loss. And establishing routines with a grieving child just takes a lot of.....hunkering.

So, when someone says, "How are the Iles doing with their new little girl?"

Say: "Oh, they're hunkering."

When I sit back and think of the impact that our decision to do foster care has had on our family, I am overwhelmed. Worry and anxiety creep in. What if Jack and Sydney aren't receiving the attention they deserve? What if they feel unloved? What if Jack secretly resents us for doing this? Will Sydney have a complex because her whole little life is so racked with siblings coming and going? The questions and doubts can creep in and monopolize my focus.

The day before Poptart came to us, our pastor preached a sermon on Psalm 34. I was home with sick Sydney and missed it, but I studied the chapter later on that night. What a timely sermon for our family!! Today during my quiet time I sat down and began to read this chapter again, and these verses jumped out at me:

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." Ps. 34: 17-20

Our little Poptart is brokenhearted and crushed in spirit, but I know the Lord is close to her, because he promised he would be.

Our family is stretched and having to reorganize, but the Lord will protect our bones...not one of them will be broken.

Father, thank you for your Word.