Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One year ago today...

One year ago today...

It was the return to school from Christmas Break.  A long, wonderful, disappointing break.  As any adoptive mama will tell you, hope deferred truly makes the heart sick.  I never imagined we would go into 2013 without seeing our sweet daughter's face.  Having started our process in 2011 (and even before that with agency/program switches and waiting lists....), we were ready to meet our girl.  I am pretty sure I even shed a few tears on New Year's Eve, and J and I prayed that we would remain hopeful and patient.

Well, any teacher who's been in the classroom for more than five minutes seconds knows what an exhausting day the return from break is!  When I got home, I quite literally collapsed on the couch.  I remember flipping on Ellen and zoning out completely.  Hearing my phone buzz, I half-consciously reached for it - and saw this:

I'd love to tell you that I jumped up right away, and danced for joy...but that just isn't how adoption works.  (Typically, when our agency places files on their website, it was for children with significant special needs, or needs other families have not said they would consider.)  My curiosity peaked, though - so I reached for the computer.

And I saw this.

And this.

And this.

I was smitten.  Her eyes got me first.  Then her lips.  There was something about her that just made my heart jump...

We had long prayed that she would be cared for in a loving environment and that we would have a peace about her being a part of our family.  Her profile certainly spoke to the first part of that.  What we had ALSO very carefully, and prayerfully, considered were the list of special needs we were comfortable with and could handle with our insurance, family situation and access to care.  Her need was NOT among what we had considered.  I googled it, for sure.  Read a bit about it, and then closed up the computer.  

So I sat on it.  I didn't call Joshua.  I thought, 'maybe God means her for someone else...'  I put the computer aside and moved my attention back to Ellen.  Because seriously.  She's funny.  And I needed to zone out.

But then my phone buzzed again.  I reached for it somewhat reluctantly, if I'm honest.

Ok, Lord.  You now have my attention.  Two completely random friends messaging me within an hour about her file.

I seriously was having heart palpitations as the next 3 minutes flew by.

I called Joshua - the love of my life and the best daddy I know.  This is what our call was like:  "HeybabyIjustwantedtoaskCCAIputanewfileupandherneedisnotonewehadconsideredbutIfeellikeweneedtoatleastlookatherfilethere'snoharminthatright??"  I'm pretty sure he told me to take a deep breath and in his level-headed way, said, "Yeah.  Totally no harm - we haven't seen any files yet, so go ahead and call if you feel we're supposed to."  (Btw...this is why we're married.  Even.  Keeled.)  

I dialed our agency as quick as possible and then promptly forgot every extension to every person I had ever talked to there in the last year and a half.  Which is crazy.  Because I bugged them called them a LOT.  After what felt like an eternity (mind you, we're still in the 3 minutes between messages up there!), the Child Match Director was on the line.  She assured me she would get the file to me and it would take a bit to get it together to email.  I'm pretty sure she gave me a few other tidbits, but I was no longer listening to her.  The thoughts had begun....is she our daughter?

While I waited for J to get home to look at her file, I couldn't stop going back to the website and staring at her.  I read and reread her profile.  I studied the three pictures that were there.  Forget Ellen.  (Sorry, Ellen.  Pretty sure you don't read my blog anyway.)  This baby was TOO sweet.

Caleb leaned over on the couch to me (crap....I forgot he was home! sort of.).  I didn't want him to know about any of this yet - our heartbreak didn't need to be his if it didn't go well.  Too late, though...he had seen her.  And in typical 8 year old fashion (ok, that is a total lie....in MY typical 8 year old's fashion...), he asks, "Oh, mom...is that her?  Is that Ellie?"  I carefully tried to measure my response - "I don't know, buddy...daddy and mommy still have to talk and pray about it, probably talk to a doctor, too.  But what do you think?"  He looked at her picture one more time and breathed, "She's everything I dreamed she would be..."

Swear it.  I died a little inside.  

Fast forward to J getting home from work...I held strong and hadn't opened any of the files our agency had sent!  We went into the bedroom with the computer and stared at each other for a second.  Then we prayed.  Then we stared at each other some more.  (Nuts, aren't we?!)

You see, this isn't the way we thought it was going to play out.  We thought that one day, out of the blue, our agency would call us and say, "We've got a match for you!"  We would wait expectantly by our computer, we would take pictures to document the moment, etc.  Pretty ridiculous.  One of the biggest things we learned and struggled with and grew through was the concept of expectations.  This was like, Exhibit 45.

Let's just say the next few days were a whirlwind - but the best kind.  We officially submitted our Letter of Intent on January 10, and on January 17, we received our Pre-Approval from China!!  We could now announce to the world that we had a DAUGHTER...and we did.

So, one year ago today, we celebrate.

We celebrate family.

We celebrate community.

We celebrate love.

Happy Referral-versary, Eliana Grace!!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

i give up.

I am challenged each year by the season of Lent...when we refocus our spiritual eyes on the sacrifices and great Love that was given for us. 

Sometimes I have chosen to give things up.  A quick recap of prior years, if you will:  Coke (my roommates hated me), tv, fast food, Facebook (best thing I ever did)...

These small sacrifices on my part do help me in some small way to realize my flesh rules more than I want it to.  Discipline is spurred.  Relationships strengthened.  It is good. 

But it is not enough.  Friends, we can never match the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  Not ever.  But there is a part of me that says it is not enough.  Not for me.  Not for that nagging voice inside me that always is critical of my motives and my heart.  It lies to me...you could do more, you could be more, you are not able...

I have struggled for years to know one singular truth - I am enough. 

Who the God of this universe made me to be.  Who I am.  Who I want to be.  Its all enough. 

I don't have to please the world.  I don't have to earn love.  I don't have to be perfect. 

And yet, sometimes, I still don't quite believe it. 

So this year, I give up.  [This year for Lent, I hope in some way, you join me in giving up, too.]

I give up...

Worrying what others think about me. 

Striving for perfection. 


Fear of the unknown.

Stress over things I cannot control. 

Self - condemnation.


Lack of discipline. 

I could go on...but that's quite a list already, don't ya think? 

Believing the promise of Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." 

Give up the lies the world feeds you.  The lies the devil wants you to accept as truth. 

We are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.  And if the very Son of God thought enough of you to die on a cross on a hill...we must learn to accept that truth. 

Here's to giving up.  Renew your mind.  Fill it with truth.  I'm with you. 

[And hey...if you need to give up Coke, tv, fast food, Facebook, etc...you do that, too.  Go for it.  That's between you and Jesus.]

In God We Trust

Many of you have asked me about our biggest spiritual take-aways, thus far, as we traverse this process of adoption.  Really wanna know?  Here it is: 

Yep.  Trust is such an interesting thing.  I often times fool myself into thinking that I don't have trust issues.  (Insert your own LOL here)  I can think of dozens of situations and circumstances that I have lived through where my trust and faith have been shaped and molded into something that seems almost tangible at times.  Going on 5 mission trips.  Difficult family situations.  Living without my husband for a year while he was overseas.  I could go on...but in each of those situations, God has taken my faith and changed it into something real.  Something strong. 

Then I encounter a new situation.  A new circumstance.  And everything I know is challenged. 

The beauty that I have found in this is that our salvation is a living thing.  Our relationship with Jesus is alive...and it is either well or unwell. 

So I rest in knowing that I love and serve a God that is bigger than paper-chasing.  I trust a God that MAKES adoption possible, because He first adopted us. 

I can't trust in our social worker, although we think she's great.
I can't trust in our case workers, although we think they're pretty awesome, too. 
I can't trust in the post office, although...wait.  No.  I just can't trust in the post office.  ;-) 

I want to control this situation, this process.  But I can't.  I won't.

I lay down each day, sometimes with tears in my eyes, and give it to my Abba Father.  He knows a precious baby girl is meant to live out her life with purpose - and we will be waiting, trusting, with open arms. 

Oh, and by the way.  A hug if you see me wouldn't hurt, either. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Old News, New News....

Please forgive the hodge-podge of thoughts, random jumblings, and musings of my mind...this is how it came out...

For those that maybe missed the memo *wink*...

We're having a baby!!  (in about 12 -15 months...) 

We were in such a season of discouragement - waiting.  Spinning our wheels.  A dear new friend counseled me one night.  She told me that I needed to grieve for my expectation of how I thought this process would go.  I needed to stop worrying about "stepping off the boat" and sit down and row for a while.  We needed to rest.  We needed to lay down our hearts, expectations, and hope at the feet of Jesus.  Because even though He is the God of hope - He was not our focus.  And He wanted to be.  It was such a sweet, bitter, painful revelation...but those are the ones that bring about the most growth. 

So, refocused after that season, we jumped in with both feet.  Jesus moved in so many ways...showed himself faithful through others when I was feeling faith-less.  He revealed what family is in a beautiful way.  And now?  We. Are. Ready. 

And by ready....I mean a mess some days.  Lemme tell ya.  Adoption is hard.  And super awesome.  J and I laugh all the time about how adoption babymaking is sooooooo different than the babymaking we know.  Don't blush.  It is.  I'll be straight here...sex is WAY more fun than filling out paperwork.  For reals.  Don't judge me.  We know the outcome of all the paperwork.  We know the purpose, the beauty and the reality of it all will be wrapped up in our beautiful baby girl. 

But seriously.  See for yourself: 

Old school babymaking

uh...yeah.  that's it. 

(***PLEASE know that this is sooooo tongue-in-cheek.  It is our experience only.  It is not meant to make light of the struggles of those that adopt because of infertility, miscarriage and great loss.  We were in that boat, too...and understand to some degree...what your journey looks like.***) 

Adoption babymaking                                                                     

Applications - for home study agency and int'l agency                      
Home study (4 interviews)
Adoption petition
Financial application
Medical physicals (x2)
Blood work
Fire inspection
Fire evacuation plan/extinguisher
Employer verifications
Financial statements
Documents (birth, marriage, etc.)
USCIS I800A forms
smoochin' (I said, don't judge me!  He's cute...what do you want from me?!)
certification of forms
Emailing caseworkers
Police Clearances
Child Abuse clearances - OH/TX
References (x5)
12 hours of parent training (each)
Well water inspection test
Writing checks
Going to living at the post office
Researching/hiring a courier service

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.  But I think you get it.  :-) 

Friends, this is an intentional process.  Adoption by its very nature is intentional.  When God says in Ephesians and Psalms and Hosea and James and all throughout the Word that He adopted US into His family through our salvation...that He places the lonely in families....that in Him the orphan finds a home....that pure religion is one that looks after orphans - it all leads to an intentional God.  I for one am humbled to know that the God of the universe...He wanted me.  It brings tears to my eyes.  It overwhelms my heart.  God, that we may ALL know such love.  

Church, this is our call.  For Joshua and I, personally, it was a very real call.  One we couldn't ignore. 

This is our moment...as a church.  As a family. 

I have been SO challenged lately by David Platt, author of Radical.  He very matter-of-factly says that Christians are so quick to claim the promises of the Word, such as, "Come to me all of you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest..." Those promises are for them.  We own them.  We proclaim them with conviction.  But we are quick to dismiss mandates like the Great Commission - to go into all the world, or the outline in James 1:27 - to look after orphans and widows.  Those are only for those that are "called."  Friends, we are all called.  We are called holy, dearly loved, sons and daughters...we are called. 

It might begin as a whisper.  It might begin like a thunderclap.  But we are called. 

Now hear my heart here.  I am challenged by this as much as you might be.  There is no judgement here.  Search your heart.  Seek after Christ.  What does that mean for you?  Should you open your home to foster?  Is your family in a place to adopt?  Can you provide respite, or meals, for a family that can or is?  Is it time to see the world, God's world, on a mission trip?  Working with the least of these?  Can you financially provide for someone else to go and pray for them?  Is there a talent that you have that you can use creatively for the Lord?  Is your church in need of volunteers in the children's ministry or ushers or greeters?  Is it time for you to tithe regularly and faithfully and with great joy? 

Be intentional in this new year.  Don't dismiss the promises and mandates of the Word. 

They're for you. 

They're for me. 

They're for all of us. 

And I think what we find that in giving ourselves away to the Lord with intention...we find out that WE are the ones being filled and blessed in return. 

God is good.  All the time. 

And all the time...?  (Let's hear it, friends...!!) 

Monday, December 12, 2011

run for it!

Some of you know me.  I mean, REALLY know me.  And although I'm really all about being healthy, I exercise very, um, infrequently.  I mean, come on...who has time? 

Unfortuntately for me, this summer, I did.  Had lots of time.  So I decided to sign up for my first 5K.  (please keep your laughing to a minimum)  A local orphan care ministry was having a fundraiser - and if there was any reason to get me to run - this was it.  I typically say that I don't run unless someone is chasing me with a sharp object.  Or a Diet Coke.  Then I'll run.  ;-) 

So, I roped my older sister into the race with me, and Caleb joined in the fun, too. 

So, without further ado...

Here comes Caleb! 
 He ran a 1 mile race...he was the 1st place finisher for boys! 
Here we go! 
You don't need to know our time, right?  ;-) 
We finished! 

And while we didn't win anything crazy, we all finished, and I was super proud to have reached a goal that I had been working towards.  We didn't just run for us, and that's what made it feel best of all. 

We ran for the fatherless. 

We ran for friends who are adopting. 

We ran for our new godson/nephew/cousin Levi.

We ran for our little one. 

Here we come, baby girl.  We're "running for it"...

Monday, October 24, 2011

To be honest and all.

Friends, this is so long overdue, I feel I need to write to purge my soul and apologize, all at the same time!  I used to write and journal for myself...and I often feel like I have time for everything BUT myself as of late.  I am making no promises that the journey will continue to be regular, but I will promise for it to be honest! 

I know so many of you continue to read our blog to follow our adoption journey.  That journey is long and difficult and it seems to have come to a stall.  We have been waiting for 6 months...well, make that 14 years...but on a "real" waiting list for 6 months - simply for an application.  A piece of paper.  Something that says, yes...we'll consider you a family worth investing in a forever for.  The call to adopt is never one that we will question...but the process...oh, the process...

We have been through things that many families have struggled with - marital growing pains, sudden deployment, miscarriage, financial setbacks, job issues, etc. - and we are blessed that God continues to show himself strong in the midst of that AND in bringing glory to himself.  We have laughed and cried with many of you as we have been able to share our story of redemption and healing and believe that God works through those conversations.  We have rejoiced in the inexplicable joy of dear friends expanding their families through their bellies and their hearts. 

But we continue to wait. 

Its hard and it hurts and its ugly and it sucks.  To be honest and all. 

And some days its beautiful and its just fine and sometimes its full of hope and promise.  To be honest and all. 

Many of you know our hearts and have walked this process with us for a few years now as it has ebbed and flowed in its own way.  We thank you because there are times I feel we couldn't live without your encouragement.  Right now, after a long journey in the desert, I feel that hope is rising in my own heart again.  That God is on the move.  His faithfulness is astounding and His promises are true.  My heart is believing it. 

I don't know what the journey looks like from here...but I have some good perspective.  The sun is rising on the side of the mountain that I am climbing and the light can be blinding.  But we are never walking alone. 

“They say Aslan is on the move - perhaps has already landed.”

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning - either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Chapter 7

I love that.  To be honest and all.  <3

Monday, August 15, 2011


"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  Matthew 6:33

Friends, pray for me.  I am so struggling right now...

Gonna be honest about where my heart is - I'm praying that prayer up there...but backwards.  I want the "all things added to me" before I am seeking God and his will.  That's an ugly realization.  I think I have gotten so consumed by the adoption, family circumstances, etc...I have been "seeking" God's will on those things and allowed my simple desire for God, and God alone, to get lost in the shuffle.  Now, I certainly don't want you to think I've gone all 'heathen' on you...that's not the case.  Just a good swift kick in my own pants about my priorities.  I want to desire him above everything else. 

My blog friend, Jennifer, wrote the most incredible post about this...I hope you'll head over and be encouraged!!