Sunday, June 30, 2013

Room For One More?

Been visiting the grandparents for the last nine days, so I have LOTS to catch up on! Even some things God opened my eyes to during the 8 hour drive home from Myrtle Beach today. I will work on getting everything written down soon, but I wanted to share one totally awesome thing...

What seems like forever ago I told you that we were starting to work on being approved to expand our parameters to be able to adopt a sibling set.

Well, guess what!!!!!

BOOM! There it is!
Click on that picture to make it big and beautiful! 

We are approved by the U.S. government to bring home two precious babes! Oh, how my heart leapt out of my chest when Adam called to tell me this had come in the mail. Joy! Pure and unadulterated joy! I have been praying for two. I hope it is two! We are ready for two!! 

OK. I have to go spend time with my man! We have been apart for NINE days. 

I am so looking forward to sharing our new number (as soon as we get it) tomorrow and writing about what has been rolling around in my little brain here lately. Maybe I will have time tonight. Maybe not. In case it slips my mind.. key phrase: bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day: Looking Forward

Last year on Father's Day, I told you how wonderful my own sweet dad is. And he still is! Today, I want to take some time to talk about how much I am looking forward to watching Adam fulfill the role of father in the lives of our children. In one way this is a difficult thing for me to write about. Mostly because today marks the second Father's Day we have spent waiting in the adoption process. It is hard to be here without our children. It is hard to watch other families at church and out to lunch celebrating the very thing we long for so desperately but cannot have. So in that way, it is hard for me to write this to you today. But in another way, I find myself filled with joy, excitement and anticipation just imagining what kind of father my husband will become. I have no doubt that he will absolutely redefine what it means to be a dad.

Adam is a man who was made to work with and be around kids. He is a pediatric physical therapist by trade, and so he spends his days helping children overcome obstacles, physical, mental and emotional. I am so proud of this man and so very anxious to watch him teach and love our children. I see his gifts and strengths now (love, patience, innovation, creativity, hard work, willingness to sacrifice) and excitedly wonder how they will play out as he transitions from just husband to husband and father. I think about the first Father's Day we will be able to celebrate as a family and the joy that day will bring. I think about a day set aside to acknowledge him for the incredible job I know he will do in guiding our children, about how we will have a great excuse to tell him how much we appreciate all he is doing for us every single day, about how I see him striving to follow God's commands and exhortations for men and fathers. Yes, it is safe to say that I am ready for our first Father's Day.

And, of course, all of this points back to our Heavenly Father, the One who loved us enough to send His Son as a sacrifice so that we would not have to be separated from Him for all eternity. This one action shows us that being a father is no small duty. It is an honor, one that should be taken most seriously. Fathers sacrifice for their children. God sets the example for us, and it is a high calling. So today I am praying for the fathers of this world, that they will seek God in all they do and rise up to the challenge before them, remembering all the while that the Lord is right by their sides to strengthen sustain and guide them, just like a Father should.

"Which of you fathers if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask of Him?"
Luke 11:11-13

Happy Father's Day!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Slice of Humble Pie

Have you ever had a moment when you were glad there wasn't an audience around? I had one this week. So, I told you on Monday that I have signed up to run the Chicago Marathon, and Monday was actually the first day of official training. Yay! Team World Vision sends out a training schedule to its team members, and since I am a total newbie in the marathon world, I am trying to follow it as closely as possible. The weekly breakdown looks something like this:

Monday: Easy run (shorter distance at a "conversational" pace)
Tuesday: Easy run (sometimes a little longer than Monday)
Wednesday: Strength and core
Thursday: Hard run (intervals, hills or fast pace)
Friday: Rest (I have always loved Fridays.)
Saturday: Long run (longest run of the week
Sunday: Cross train

So you can see how it keeps me busy.

Well, on Thursday of this week I ate a big slice of humble pie. I decided that for my first hard run I would do hills. The last half marathon I ran (in Nashville) was a pretty hilly course, so I figured this would be a good way to ease in to my new routine. Then I decided to take it up a notch, you know, because I am so experienced and all... Or not.

I decided to try a trail run.

Not my best choice to date.

I had my water, my distance tracker and my dog. Ready to go. And things really started out OK. Daisy loves being out in the woods, so she was having a good time, and the trail was certainly uphill, but I seemed to be managing.

Just under one mile in, my left foot snagged on what I thought was a pile of leaves but turned out to be a root in disguise. Down I went. Somehow my left leg and left shoulder broke my fall. It scared the living daylights out of me. I found myself sitting on the forest floor, covered in dirt, tree bark and with some serious road rash up my left leg.
This is one day and a lot of neosporin later. Not fun. 

So anyway, I am sitting there trying to decide what to do. And I realize that I cannot wimp out on my first hard run during my very first week of training. So I got up, dusted most of myself off and started up again. About three tenths of a mile later, my left ankle rolls out on a rock. Down she goes again. At this point I am somewhere between laughing and screaming my head off. This time I let go of Daisy, so she kept on for a few steps, then realized I was on the ground again and took it upon herself to lay down, too. She's thoughtful that way. 

So here we are, just over a mile uphill and me with a twisted ankle. Problematic. 

I just looked at Daisy and said, "Home?" 

She hopped up and started moving back in the direction from which we had come. I took that as a sign that we could save the trail for another day. Or maybe not. After walking around on my ankle a bit, it felt good enough to walk back to the car. My very own walk of shame. 

Trail running. It's not for everyone. 

Though I did finish my last two miles on the safety of the asphalt hills in my neighborhood, I was certainly not moving full speed ahead. 

Needless to say, training did not start off the way I thought it would, but I was able to get back on track today with my first long run. And no falling!! Hopefully, this will be my only injury between now and October 13. 

I mentioned on Monday that I am looking at this race and its training as a parallel to what is going on in our lives right now with our adoption. So when I found myself sitting on a forest path on Thursday, scratched and bleeding, I immediately started thinking about how that instance relates to other aspects of our current reality. The parallel was not too difficult to draw. 

Anyone in the adoption world will tell you that there a lot of ugly days. Days when we find ourselves on the ground, bleeding, not wanting to get back up. And we might retreat into ourselves for awhile, deciding to continue the fight another day, all the while remaining steadfast in our love and commitment to bring our children home. I think Thursday was one of those days. I had to weigh finishing my run on the trail against breaking an ankle and being out of the race for good. While I am not happy I had to make that decision, I do think it was the right one. And there are days when our adoption kicks my butt. I feel like I keep getting tripped up in timeframes and waiting lists. And sometimes on those days, I have to choose to retreat a little, stop looking at other blogs, stop stalking our agency's websites and Facebook page. The retreating allows me to gain perspective. This waiting and hurting is part of a MUCH bigger picture. God is working together an incredible story in our lives, and if I get too caught up in the day to day, I run the risk of missing it. And that is something I am not willing to do. 

So while I most certainly wish I had not fallen earlier this week (especially since I am now walking around with massive bruises that make me look like I was kicked a few times by a horse), I am grateful for the way the Lord used this stumble. Hopefully, this will stay fresh in my mind and my heart. 

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip--He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." 
Psalm 121:1-4


P.S. Please check out my marathon page for more info on the race, the mission and what you can do to bring clean water to the continent of Africa! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

So I Did a Crazy Thing...

I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!

OK, so aside from being a little freaked out, I am totally excited about doing this! If you have been reading along with us recently, then you know that I have run in two separate half marathons this year. Both experiences were incredible, testing my stamina, commitment, ability. And the sense of accomplishment at crossing the finish line completely surpassed my expectations.

As a result, I had started tossing around the idea of running in a marathon. You know, just to see if I could do it. I am not sure that I would have ever gone through with it, if my friend Amy had not signed up and started peer pressuring me to run with her. Smile. Thanks, Amy, for not giving up on me! So I jumped in and signed up.

The best part is that I am running with Team World Vision. This amazing ministry seeks to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the planet. And I have extra love in my heart for World Vision, because I have been sponsoring a beautiful little girl, Chantal, from Rwanda for the last three years. This is ministry practices what it preaches and is one I believe in.

Part of running with Team World Vision is fundraising to provide clean drinking water for the people of Africa. Talk about a cause I can get behind! I love knowing that our work over here is going to directly impact the place where our sweet babies will be born! Smiles all around!

This is where I need your help. I know we have been asking for help a lot here lately, but I am going to ask again. Would you consider making a donation to provide clean drinking water for the people of Africa? Just fifty U.S. dollar multiplies enough to provide clean drinking water for one person FOR LIFE. You read that right. FOR LIFE. I am trying to raise $50 per mile, for a total of $1,310. That is clean water for twenty six people for as long as they are alive. Will you help me? You can click here or on the World Vision logo on the side of the page to be taken to my personal fundraising page. You can make your donation right there.

OK, so why am I doing this? Running for 26.2 miles. Really?

Well, I will tell you why.

Running a marathon isn't just waking up one morning and thinking, "Hey! I think I am going to go run 26 miles today." I wish! No. It involves weeks, months of training. This particular race is October 13, and my first day of official training was today. I look at my training schedule for the next 18 weeks, and there is a big part of me that wants to go find a cave to hide in. This is a huge commitment of my time, resources, abilities. This will require discipline and dedication from me in a more tangible way then I think I have ever seen manifested in any other physical aspect of my life. I have never done something like this before. I know, beyond all doubt, that there will be days when I want to quit, when I feel like it is all just too much, that it is taking up too much of my time. Does that sound like something I have said to you before? It sure sounds familiar to me.

For me, running this race is a physical picture of my current life reality. I working toward something, something big. At times, I find myself saying, "Forget it. Not what I bargained for." On those days, I want to throw in the towel. But I don't. I can't. Because I know what I am working toward. And if God is using this phase of my life to discipline me, train me, prepare me for the real deal, then I have to trust Him and stick with it.

My feeling is that if I can do this training and run this actual race, then I can run the race God has set before me. So this is a very physical mirror of where I find myself in my life today. And I am excited to work through it, to see how I change as a person as a result of this, to see God use this to develop a sense of discipline in me.

I hope that makes sense. I plan to talk through more of this as I progress. Hopefully, I will have good things to tell you as God uses this to reveal His character to me.


P.S. Please stop by my fundraising page!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Six Happy Years!

Today we are celebrating six years of wedded bliss in the Knott household. It is hard to believe that six years have already flown by, but as time continues to roll on, I realize more and more what a blessed lady I am to have Adam as my husband. Here is a little trip down memory lane...
Our very first date! A Pi Phi formal in September of 2004. 

First trip to Honduras together. This one makes me feel old, mainly because of Adam's crazy hair and the fact that Ruben (the precious baby in front of me) is now a man! 
 Working as Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts for the Auburn recruiting department. 
War Eagle! 
Another Pi Phi formal. 
All leading up to this day, when I got to marry the man who surpasses all my dreams. 
And six years later, I love him even more. 
Especially because he always orders dessert with me when we go out. 

Dear sweet Adam, 

There is not a single man on the face of this earth I would rather live this life with than you. We have celebrated together, laughed together, grieved together and worked hard together. You have, on a daily basis, modeled for me what a Godly husband should be, demonstrating patience, hard work, integrity and love. Never for a moment have I doubted that I am the woman you love. Thank you for encouraging me, growing me, challenging me and reminding me always of God's goodness. This life has not brought us what I expected, and I know I have not been easy here lately, but you continue to stand by my side. Thank you for choosing me. I would choose you again and again until time ran out. I love you. 

"I have found him whom my soul loves." 
Song of Solomon 3:4


P.S. Come by tomorrow for an exciting announcement. I have done something a bit crazy, and I cannot wait to tell you about it! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Shift in Perspective

I have been struggling here lately with the idea of suffering. The Bible promises us that, as Christ followers, we are going to experience suffering in this life. It's a guarantee. That isn't what I have been wrestling with. I have found myself struggling to make the connection between the hurt I find myself enduring and the advancement of the Gospel. God's Word tells us that we will suffer for His sake, but I have had a hard time connecting the dots in my own life. I am not being persecuted for my faith in Christ. I have not been fired from my job for being a Christian. I have not been told by my government that I cannot go to church. In my mind, those types of things equate to suffering for the sake of Christ. Something I would gladly do.

Instead, I find myself hurting because there are no children in my home. I find myself feeling empty and hollow, abandoned and alone, aching and hurt. And as much as I have searched for a connection between these things and the spreading of the Gospel, I have not been been able to find one.

So I did what any rational human being would do. I put my conundrum before my Bible study (a group of people I absolutely love) and asked for their thoughts.

The answer smacked me in the face.

One of the men in our group pointed out that perhaps my perspective was wrong. Instead of looking at this as suffering, maybe I should be looking at it as discipline.

I will admit that I bristled at the word "discipline." What can I say? I am a middle school teacher. In my world, being disciplined means you have done something wrong. And I do not believe that God is withholding our children from us because of past sin in our lives.

But he went on to explain that he meant God might be disciplining me in order to draw me closer to Himself.

Equate discipline with training or preparation and bear with me for a moment.

When I was a little girl, I played soccer. My family is from South Florida, where soccer is king. And I truly loved the sport. But I did not just get to walk out on the field every Saturday and play with no training whatsoever. I had to go to practice. That meant running, sprinting, drills and so on. And I did not always love that part. In fact, there were a lot of times when I did not want to run. I was TIRED. It was too HARD. I just wanted to PLAY THE GAME.

Sound familiar?

I am tired of waiting. It is way too hard. I just want to be a mother to my children. But for some reason, the Lord is allowing the process to draw out. And I do not know specifically why. What I do know is that He does not make mistakes, so I can rest confidently that (even though this is not what I had envisioned for us) everything is happening according to His plan and will.

So maybe that is what this is: a time of preparing for whatever it is that lies ahead of us.

While this shift in perspective is helping quiet my anxious (crazy, exhausted, confused, flustered, frustrated...OK, you get the idea) heart, I must be honest and tell you that life is still hard in the meantime. I still hurt, and that hurt will not go away for a while. But recognizing God's work in my life is stilling me enough to hear Him reminding me that He is over all of this. And that is well worth it.

The Scripture that came to mind while I was writing this was Proverbs 3:12, "The Lord disciplines those He loves." I was going to include just that to close out this post, but then I kept reading to put the verse in context (like a good little English teacher), and what I read was very interesting. Take a look.

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her."
Proverbs 3:11-15

I find it most intriguing that what follows discipline is the acquisition of wisdom. It is almost as if you cannot have the latter without the former. I hope and pray that I do not miss out on the wisdom God has for me as a result of this trial because I am too busy focusing inwardly on myself and my own hurt. I pray that the Lord will open my eyes to what it is He has for me to see and learn during this painful period of our lives, and I pray fervently that I will be a better wife, mother and follower of Christ because of it.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Colorful Saturday + T-Shirt Order is Here!

On the heels of yesterday's sadness with our tiny movement for the month of May, the Lord provided us with a WONDERFUL Saturday with some people we love. God is good like that, isn't He? This morning, Adam and I along with some of our outlaws in-laws participated in our first ever color run. In case you are not familiar with the new phenomenon, here is the story in pictures.

So, you start out in a nice, clean white shirt, and you wear some neon shades to protect your eyes. 
Sister-in-law, Kori, with two of our precious nephews. 
The boys look ready! 
And the outlaws! Aren't they cute? 
And such good sports, too! Driving all the way to Birmingham just to get dirty! 

So the run itself is a 5K, about 3.1 miles for those of you counting at home. And while you are running there are color stations where you get "color bombed" with bags of colored cornstarch. The final result leaves you looking something like this...
 Personally, I think we all look fantastic. 
The man I love best. 
I can remember a time (not too long ago) that my sweet husband would have balked at the idea of getting up early on a Saturday to go run three miles FOR FUN. But he has run a ten mile race, a half marathon and a 5K all just this year. 
Love you, bird! 
And a close up. 

After returning to the house for some quick showers we headed off to lunch and rounded out the day with dessert at Steel City Pops. I must say, it has been awesome day. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people I love (and people who love me enough to get colored bombed for three miles). Thank you, family, for making today so much fun! 

More exciting news: Friends who ordered shirts in our most recent t-shirt reorder, you shirts are in!! I will work on getting them to you (either in person or in the mail) this week! When you get your shirt, please send me a picture of you rocking it! 

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