I've let a whole month and a half slip by without a blog post.  As I've said before, I mainly blog for me, to remember things later that were happening today.  But I guess that goes to show how committed I am!  Since last time, I turned 40.  Yep.  The big 4-0.  But let me go on record as saying that, at least for right now, I'm doing ok with it.  No major meltdowns, breakdowns, or tantrums.  Just lots of celebrating with many old friends and some new ones.  Several family members came into town and there have been at least three separate celebrating times!  I always tell Justin that I celebrate the entire month of August...it's my birthday month.  I've always liked my birthday, so why should 40 be any different?  For my gift, my parents, Justin, Amber Joy and I are going to Disney World in January!  It was even on my cake..."Happy Birthday, Steph.  We're going to Disney World!"  I just can't wait any longer to take Amber Joy, so we'll actually be there on her third birthday. 


In 1999, my sister Amber died of leukemia.  It will be 15 years this March.  On my dresser in our bedroom, there is a picture of Amber on one end, and on the other, a photo of Amber Joy.  This morning, Amber Joy noticed the photos and pointed to Amber and said "Amer."  She knows who Amber is.  Then she pointed to herself and said "Ammie-Joys" (how she says her own name right now).  I told her that Amber lives in Heaven with Jesus and Amber Joy lives here with Mommy and Daddy.  She repeated me several times pointing to the picture of Amber and saying "Amer, Jesus" and "Ammie-Joys mama daddy."  I love this kid.
She is changing so much...literally by the day.  She is using her words to tell us what she needs (instead of whining...which is HUGE).  She knows how to open my iphone and get to YouTube to watch Baby Einstein videos or her educational apps.  Seriously?  She's TWO AND A HALF!  She can count to 15.  She loves to stack things up, line them up, or just have some sort of sequence.  We think she will do well in math.  She recently got small orthotics for her balance and we call them her "special shoes."  So now she has "magic ears" and "special shoes."  We love seeing her personality come out.  She's girly at times (tea parties, fairy wings, dresses), but also likes being outside, barefoot, and sweaty playing in the garage. 


My heart is full and we are blessed.  That certainly doesn't mean I'm happy every day.  I really struggle to choose joy.  Sometimes I feel like the rest of the world is out there living their dreams and I'm "stuck" at home raising a toddler.  But in reality, this IS my dream come true.  We prayed and pined for parenthood, knowing (but not understanding) that it would come with ups, downs, zigzags, yucky days, uncertainty, regrets, PLUS amazing, funny, snuggly, full-to-the-brim with awe moments as we stare at this spunky little girl who shares our name.  We are praying about whether there are to be any more little Millers running around. 

I continue to learn about God as parent and all He must endure when we choose to do our own thing instead of listening to His wisdom.  How it must hurt Him when we come close, then push away.  It's a constant push/pull in parenting.  Our kids know how to manipulate and get the better of us, but deep down, they are just longing for closeness and safety. 

What else?  I got my first official writing assignment for LifeWay.  My mom has written and edited for LifeWay for years, so this is a real honor.  I wrote an article about my mission trip to New Mexico and it will be out later this year.  In July, I traveled to Pine Dale, NM, near the Navajo reservation.  I was able to go for a week with Good Goers, the missions arm of Family Christian Stores.  It was truly eye-opening and I would love to go back.  The poverty, abuse, and depression of the reservation is heartbreaking and humbling.  While there, I wondered if what we were doing really mattered at all, but I have to believe it did.  The kids went away singing the songs we taught them in VBS, and in those songs are Truth.  The trip also renewed our discussions about short-term missions overseas.  We don't know when or if God will call, but our intention is to say "yes." 

 (our team in Pine Dale, NM)

Next month, we're heading out for one more trip of the summer.  We are meeting our dear friends, David and Sherra Williams and their boys for a long weekend at Orange Beach.  It will be our first vacation with friends and between our families, we'll have four adults and four toddlers, two years old and under!  We got a great condo on the beach side, near the pool, and on the ground floor (very important with all of these climbers)!  I have said before and will say again that our Taiwan adoption family is the best unexpected gift of this whole journey and we are grateful for the lifelong friendships that are forming. 

Blessings to you and yours!


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