Expectant Hope

"But God remembered Noah." | Genesis 8:1

And even on the most difficult days, God remembered me.

If I knew three years ago what those next years would hold, I can guarantee you I would have said "No thanks." The Lord is carrying me through a story I never would have chosen for myself. One that has shaped me, one that has strengthened my love for Brent and become a foundation for our marriage.

This story that I would not have written includes gems like foster care and the fact that we have the most special little boy we've ever met. It includes spontaneous weekend adventures and trips abroad, precious time spent with my husband and foundational friendships. It includes building a business, and getting to watch it succeed.

It also includes chapters of tears and of mourning. The silence of barenness and the loss of three babies. Dreams that felt unreachable and a broken heart.

By my third pregnancy, Brent and I had decided that foster care was our next step (something I have shared about in the past). I felt settled and secure in our decision, even in the midst of unknown. I was fully throwing my heart into this new thing, and then one morning my world changed. "You're pregnant" quickly turned to "Something is not right," and so the story began all over again. We prayed for healing and for life. I said I literally cannot do this again. And then we grieved the loss of the child in my womb. The week of our third baby's shared burial, we welcomed a precious boy into our home.

God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.
— Deuteronomy 30:3 [The Message]

And so our adventure began. Becoming a father and mother, loving sacrificially and all that comes with it. Two months later, with a one year old grabbing at my ankles, I stared at two very bright blue lines I thought I would never see. Isn't that how life goes? In the most unassuming moments, sacred things take place.

"Let's be cautiously optimistic," my doctor said at our first, very early ultrasound. And we agreed. Optimism seemed like a hard choice in the opposite direction of all the very familiar feelings that were stored away in my heart. So we proceeded with cautious optimism, week by week, seeing our baby in the correct location, growing and developing. The flicker of a heartbeat turned to an audible sound and with every stage I felt like pinching myself because, is this even real? First trimester has come and gone, and with it left my high risk diagnosis.

This may sound silly, but after all we have fought through I still struggled to embrace and share this pregnancy. I think that fear played a huge part in this hesitation, but I also felt weirdly insecure being "on the other side" of a feeling that was familiar to me for so long. Our journey of growing a family has given me such a sensitivity toward families experiencing similar circumstances. I don't understand the Lord's timing in all of it, why some women wait years to get pregnant, some forever and some don't wait at all. I don't understand loss and miscarriage, beyond the fact that in these deeply broken places there is an opportunity for full surrender and then resilience. I was talking through my thoughts with a friend, and with the following words she encouraged me to share.

Thinking of all the heartache in the world. If the people who were experiencing the Lord’s grace in their lives didn’t celebrate and rejoice for the good things just because others were still suffering, that would be discouraging. There would be no visible hope for those in heartache...Holding back never spares you from hurt. It just spares you from a full life.

So we are celebrating the life of our sweet miracle babe with expectant hope. Beyond thankful and amazed at our story, and counting down the days until April 3, 2018!!!!

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Month One

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My first experiences of motherhood and foster care all rolled into one...Maybe I should alternately title this, "The Road Less Traveled."

I seriously laugh at all the things I thought I was prepared for, (although deep down I know you are really never fully prepared).

Take for instance months of mental preparation for a docile, little baby sleeping in the corner of my attic/office space while I answer e-mails, read books and drink coffee all day. Now replace "docile, little baby" with "active, sneaky, big, strong-willed, toddler who hates to nap" and you can see how very little e-mailing, book reading, or even drinking my own coffee without hiding where he cannot find me, is going on in this place.

This is motherhood, and being inserted into the role of a mother at this age, in this stage, that is no joke. Add in the learning curve of my role as a foster parent, and completely uncharted territory is the perfect phrase to sum up this season.

That night we brought him home I sat in the dark of our little nursery, trying to rock him, trying to love him, trying to be a safe place. He kicked and screamed and flailed, and I cried so hard. This is not my baby. This is a big, strange boy who doesn't know me or like me. Finally, he fell asleep. I laid him down, left the room, and cried some more.

Foster care is a complex thing. This little boy came to us with 16 months of unknowns behind him. Hurts from the past, emotional disconnect, struggles with attachment. My first taste of motherhood involves some things I didn't account for. Our relationship still feels fragile, and we spend as much time as we can together to strengthen attachment, and heal the fear of abandonment. All this while living in my own fragile state, wondering what the future holds. 

My first encounter with his birth mom, two weeks into placement, wrecked me again. Just when "normalcy" is sort of sinking in, a wild and new wave of emotion comes. When I met her, I just wanted to hug her and tell her I believe in her. One of the things that drew me to foster care was advocacy, championing of. Because who I am right now is a mother, but I am also a support system. I am blessing, and teaching, and pouring into the sweetest little boy because I get to be that in his life. Do I hope that it's forever? Yes, I do. But strangely, and equally, I don't want to see her fail. I want to see her succeed, and if she can succeed in ways that allow for her to care for him, then I have been an advocate for their success. This is what foster care means. At the end of the day, he may be with us forever, but at the end of the day, he may not.

It's just not easy. But we didn't choose this because we wanted easy. We had a strong sense that loving him [and any other babies we say yes to] would be worth it, and I can honestly say that I end each day feeling fulfilled in a way that trumps anything else.

Thankful for the Unexpected: A Little Life Update

It’s been a while, and a lot has happened in that while.

In January Brent and I hosted a Chinese high school boy for 10 days as part of a student immersion program through LMH. Oh the stories we could tell from that adventure...Day one I was convinced we had been paired with the sweetest, most helpful and genuine 16-year old male human on this planet. By day four he was mad that I misinformed him on the weather therefore ruining one of six new pairs of Nikes he had purchased since Day One. Nothing like living it up when you find yourself on a different continent with house parents that could be mistaken for your classmates.

 


In all seriousness, we are so thankful for that adventure, and the impact (I really hope) that we got to make on his life. WE MISS GRIFFIN. (Although I’m not ready to parent a 16-year-old quite yet.)

In February we jetted off on my first tropical vacation with some of our best friends. To be honest, it was difficult for me to keep our trip from being clouded with fear over this whole zika virus thing that is on every news outlet in the US. I am so glad I pushed through it, and we traveled to St. Croix. We had the most wonderful week, I legitimately DID NOT want to leave AT ALL, and a month later I am in the zika clear. (Which really was not a big deal on this island at all). Highlights of this trip included all the delicious food we ate, literally every meal was good, all the beaches we visited, traveling with dear friends, and of course experiencing sunshine and warm weather during the month of February.


In March (Ok so this technically happened in February, but really took off in March, and I needed something for March) I launched A BUSINESS with my good friend Heidi! I still can hardly believe that this happened...and really it was such a whirlwind. Moss + Vine is a floral and event styling business, and our ultimate goal is to help people throw really great parties. Heidi has years of experience with florals, and I just love decor/design/style. Working together has been so much fun, and I am really excited for the things that I know we will create! There has been SO much momentum with our business already, and more exciting opportunities than I would have expected this early in it all.

 

This spring feels so full it's already gone. Countdown till our first beach vacation (June 1) has officially commenced. Four events for Moss + Vine in the month of April alone. And channeling my inner Joanna Gains as I get to design and decorate the 2016 parade home for Brentwood Builders (Brent’s family business). I am loving this even more ever since I jumped on the Fixer Upper bandwagon and decided I want us to be them.


I am so thankful for where the unexpected has brought me. I have cried numerous times as I replay the past year in my head. It is just so crazy tracing where I was last year to where I am now. The opportunities I have worked toward, and the ones that have landed in my lap. I can actually say that while certain life circumstances haven’t necessarily gotten easier, and my prayers haven’t always been answered the way I planned, I have grown. The moments I’ve so deeply struggled with who God is, and the times I have spiraled in a lack of control, are countered by those when I have experienced grace I didn’t know was possible, and peace that definitely is not my own.

There is a sweet sense of anticipation in the realization that I can trust whatever is coming, even though I’m not in control.

 

xoxo Katie

 

home.

No other word describes quite so perfectly how I feel so often. I love our physical home, our house. I love to decorate our home, and keep a home, and create a home for my family. I love when people feel like home, memories feel like home, sights and smells feel like home.

home. it is the nicest word there is.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder

There is a sense of comfort in the word "home." It brings up the nostalgia of growing up in my parents' home with my sisters, learning what home means to them. It is new traditions and trademarks that Brent and I create as we build our home and family. It is the reason that my dream job, to be a "homemaker," is even possible.

I feel privileged to have the responsibility of setting the tone for those who enter our home, and setting the table for those to stay. It really is, in a way, like a life-size dollhouse, and although there is responsibility beyond the "fun stuff" like painting and decorating, each task complements another. So today I wanted to share a few of my favorite things that help make our home. Books and products and shops that I love!

Highlights of our Home:

(left to right)

1. the chalkboard in my kitchen is forever changing, 2. this little vignette of my joy cookbook and dried wheat from a field, 3. a tin feather I purchased in Philadelphia this weekend, and the PSL card my sister got me at Anthropologie, 4. Our mantle is the perfect backdrop for all kinds of arrangements. (Bottom, L-R) 5. My two favorite fall catalogs so far, 6. the hanging shelf Brent helped me make, 7. the glass globe & air plant hanging in our room, 8. This little thrifted plate with a sweet quote.

Favorite Books about Home:

The Nesting Place, by Myquillin Smith

Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist

Happy Handmade Home, by Emma Chapman & Elsie Larson

Design Bloggers at Home, by Ellie Tennant

Favorite "Helpful" Household Products:

Glade Jar Candles (They are cheap and they make the house smell so good! Fall and winter scents are my favorite)

Mrs. Myers Multi-Surface Cleaner, Basil (I use this for everything. Bathroom, kitchen, coffee table, everything.)


Lavender Essential Oil (I diffuse this for the scent and to help us sleep, but also apply it topically for burns and for cramps.)

Norwex Dusting Mitt (One of the best bridal shower gifts. It works so well, and is extremely convenient.)

Horsehair Dust Brush (I never realized the importance of a good dust pan and brush until I bought one for .99 cents at Ikea. We got a horsehair brush at a local Amish store and the difference is amazing.)

Favorite Home Decor Shops:

Pottery Barn, Rockvale Outlets (look for good sales!)

West Elm, Rockvale Outlets

Goodwill

Michael's Craft Store

Cost Plus World Market

HomeGoods

Marshalls

Terrain

and of course, Target.




The Most Delicious Bread [and Something Wonderful to Do With It]

Bread is probably one of the main meal staples here in the Hostetter home. This may be because I am a husband-proclaimed expert on baking things and roasting vegetables (hey, at least I'm well balanced!). I have two go-to bread recipes that a friend passed along to me, and I don't stray far from them on many occasions. This simple dutch oven bread recipe is one that I posted a photo of recently on Instagram, and received a lot of interest so I thought I'd share! I have included my version with adaptations, and a link to the original below! (The original is very much a plan ahead recipe, so I doubled the yeast for less rising time and have been really happy with the results!)

 

Simple Dutch Oven Loaf

[original here]

Ingredients-

3 cups unbleached AP flour

1 & 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 heaping tsp rapid-rise yeast *(I would say the definition of heaping means it doesn't have to be leveled out, for those of you who are more particular about that kind of thing :)*

1 & 1/2 cups water

Stir flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Mix in water until the dough comes together, will most likely be a shaggy texture. The one thing about this bread is that it is extremely forgiving. I have made it before and it literally sticks to my hands as I drop it into the dutch oven, yet it still turns out.

*THE FUN PART- This recipe is a great base for you to get creative. I enjoy mixing in herbs, cheeses, dried fruit, etc. and creating different flavor combinations. This is best done before allowing the dough to rise. Our favorites so far have been blue cheese with fresh oregano, and orange zest with dried cranberries.

Allow dough to rise, covered, for 1.5 hours. If it rises a little longer that is fine, but I would say definitely not less than that.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the oven is preheated, bake your cast iron dutch oven, or the dish you are using for 30 minutes before putting the bread in.

**A few notes from my experience- I always use my Staub cast iron cocotte (same as dutch oven) for this bread, and I LOVE it! If you are looking to buy one in the Lancaster area, Mise en Place Kitchen Store carries them! I assume that other cast iron lidded pots would have the same effect. One time I wanted to bake two loaves at once, so I did one in the dutch oven and the other in a stoneware casserole dish just like this one . The bread was still good, but it got a little dark and stuck to the dish. So if you DO NOT have a cast iron oven, a lidded dish will have the same effect- just make sure to spray it, and I would preheat it for less than 30 minutes. **

Back to the recipe, after preheating the dish, take it out of the oven and drop the risen dough in. Even if it does not form a perfect ball it is fine! You will be amazed at how it rises and shapes! Put the lid back on and bake with lid on for 30 minutes. Take the lid off, and allow to bake another 15 minutes to crisp the top. Use your discretion for this part. If it is looking like it's beginning to burn on top you can take it out sooner. I always tap the bread to see if it seems crispy/solid or if it still seems doughy. Everyone's oven heat is different!

I would allow it to cool, at least a little bit before cutting so the moisture does not escape.

 

This bread is amazing no matter how you serve it, but I wanted to share what Brent and I did with it last night! I saw the inspiration for this platter in Martha Stewart Living, and had to try it out! Brent threw the slices of bread on our charcoal grill for a couple of minutes, just to sear them, and then we drizzled fresh olive oil from Seasons downtown, and served them with a variety of tomatoes and goat cheese. It was the perfect summer side, and would also make a wonderful lunch!

Let me know if you have any questions, or come up with any amazing flavor combinations!

Enjoy, and happy summer dinner partying!

xoxoxo Katie