Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Month, Same Number, New Vision

Shortly after I finished writing Friday's post, a surprise email popped into my inbox. It was our monthly wait list update email. I am always surprised when this email comes early, mainly because we have no warning. I am usually looking for it on the first of the month. But Lesley, our ever-faithful program director, is going on vacation this coming week, so she sent it out early. She is fabulous like that, even when the update is a tough one. The news was not what I wanted to read.

We are still sitting at number 31. (Sad face)

I knew it was coming, but if I can be totally honest with you here, it was still hard to read the words. No referrals this month. A whole calendar month and no babies matched with their families. No moving up for us or any of the families on the list. Not what I wanted to read. I had prayed and prayed that God would intervene, and that despite the court system closure in Ethiopia, children would somehow still be matched with their families. I prayed for that. But it did not happen. Somehow, no movement this month is what will bring God the most glory. It is not something I can even pretend to understand, but I know that God is good, that He is over this, and that He does not make mistakes.

And so we wait and we trust. 

It was 366 days ago that we got our first number. And I remember how thrilled I was on that day. So excited to be finished with the paperwork. So exhilarated to feel like we were finally making real progress toward our children. I am still glad to be done with the paperwork, and I know we are taking a step closer to our children each day. But I never once thought we would still be waiting 366 days after getting our first number. 

So that has been a struggle for me. 

In recent weeks, God has planted this picture in my mind. A picture of how what we are going through feels. I have only shared it with my mom so far, but I think I am going to share it with you today. 

There is a woman. She is standing alone at the end of a long pier out over the ocean. It is pouring rain; the wind is howling and the waves are crashing. A hurricane. She is standing with her feet planted on the dock and her arms locked at her sides with her fists tightly clenched. She has no umbrella, no raincoat. Her clothes are soaked through, and her hair is whipping around in the wind, being plastered to her face. She is looking out at the sea. This is not where she would have chosen to be at this moment. And she does not feel entirely safe. But God has asked her to stand there. She doesn't know why. But He has. And she trusts Him. It doesn't seem like it makes sense for her to stand there. But God has asked her to. And so she does. There is no sign of the storm breaking. But God is with her on that pier. He is keeping her feet planted firmly on the dock. That is His provision. She doesn't know how long she has to stay there or why she has to be there at all. But she knows her God is good, and that He would not ask her to stand there if it were not what was best. And so she stands. Trusting in the One she gave her life to, even though most of her being is telling her to run back to the safety of land and shelter. She is not standing in her own power, but in God's power within her. 

That is the picture, the vision, God has given me in recent weeks. I don't know how long the storm will last, but I trust the One who is asking me to stand here. Believe me, dear friend, there are days when I want to run fast and far away from this hurt. But I have to keep trusting that God is in control over this, and that He will not let me fall and be swept away. 

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are above the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"
Isaiah 55:8-9


P.S. So sorry I couldn't get myself to take a new picture with the same number for this month. The smile would have been a bit too forced. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

If I Survive This, God Gets the Glory

"If I survive this, God gets the glory." 

I don't know how many times I have thought or said those words over the last four months of preparing to run this marathon. When I started out on this road, there were people (whose judgment I now question!) who told me that by the time I built up to being able to run 26 miles, it would be easy. HA! Guess what. Not always the case! Sure, there are days when what used to feel like a long run now feels easy. I ran 8 miles yesterday morning, and it felt awesome. That would NOT have been the case four months ago. But it is most certainly not always easy. 

Let me give you an example. 

This past weekend, I was scheduled to run twenty miles. It is my longest training run prior to the race. And I was so excited about it. I wanted so desperately for it to be an awesome run that renewed my belief in my ability to finish this race. I wanted to finish in triumph and be proud of what I accomplished. 

That did not happen. 

My twenty mile run on Sunday was my worst run to date. Worse even than that time I had to quit and start over. Starting at mile 12, I was in constant pain. My knees were killing me, my feet were shooting with pain and my mind was telling me begging me to just stop. 

But I knew I couldn't. If I stopped, then all of that hard work would have been for nothing. And I couldn't bear that. 

So I kept chanting to myself that if I managed to survive this, then God would get the glory. Because I was far from glorious that morning. 

And then, when I finally made it back to my car, I realized that my gps tracker had skipped somewhere, so instead of saying that my distance was 20.0 miles, it said 19.6 miles. 

I lost it. 

I know that four tenths of a mile is not far, especially not i comparison to how far I had already run, but I was supposed to be finished! I had done what I was supposed to do, and this torturous run should have been OVER. But it wasn't. 

So did I stop or keep going? 

I kept going. I ran until that stupid gps hit 20 miles. Even thou I knew it was farther than I planned to go, farther than I wanted to go, farther than I felt I should have had to go. I finished. I did not finish in my own glory. Oh no. I was in tears. I was hurting. But I did it. And God gets the glory for that. 

As I was finishing this miserable run, God revealed some truth to me. 

You probably already figured it out, you smarty pants, you! 

What happened to me on that run was just like what I am currently living as we wait for our little birds to come home. 

We walked into the adoption world knowing it would be difficult, knowing it would be long, knowing it would hurt and knowing we could not do it on our own.  What I was not ready for is the extent to which each of those things is true in my life. 

Most of the time, adoption feels impossible. I mean, really. Think about it. It's kind of insane. 

So much of it is hard. The paperwork was hard. Tedious and hard. But the waiting. Oh, the waiting. This is where it feels impossible. This is where I hurt emotionally, spiritually and physically, and this is where my mind sometimes tells me to just quit, that surely the pain would go away if I just quit. But I know that is not true. As painful as this is, as agonizing as it is to know that my children are alive and on the other side of the ocean and that I cannot be with them, I know it is nothing compared to the heartbreak that would follow if I walked away. I cannot walk away. These are my children. My children. 

And so I keep running. Sometimes, every single step hurts. But I can't stop. There are days when I feel certain that I just can't keep going. But I do. With God's help alone, I do. 

And then I think about how I felt going in to my twenty mile run. How I wanted it to be easy (how I felt like it should have been easy!), how I wanted an experience that renewed my faith in MY ability to finish this race, how I wanted to be proud of what I had accomplished. Oh, how I roll my eyes at myself now that I fully realize the selfishness of those desires. 

This is difficult to admit, but there is a great big part of me that wanted our adoption story to look like a dream, an easy and beautiful dream. I mean, we are doing what the Lord has asked of us, so it should be easy, right?? Now, I know our story is beautiful, but it is FAR from easy. When we started, I wanted something that gave me faith in my strength. But guess what I have learned? I don't have what it takes! Instead, God is using this time, coupled with my own weakness, to deepen and grow and solidify my faith in way I never knew existed. It hurts. Believe me on that. But it is also so good. And, as much as I don't want to tell you this, there have been times when I have felt a sense of pride over the fact that we are adopting. At times, I have thought to myself, "Go us. Doing something good." That is completely the wrong attitude to have. This is not about us. Not at all. We are not doing "something good" here. God is doing something good, something beautiful, through us. We have nothing to be proud of in ourselves; we are just instruments. Our boast is in God alone. Even once we reach the end of this long journey to bring our darlings home, it will not ever be about us or what we accomplished. This is God's work in our lives, not our work in our lives. He is writing this story. 

And as He writes it, He often sends me reminders of my role within His larger framework. My experience this past weekend was one of those reminders. He has brought us to this beautiful place, a place where we are wholly and completely dependent on Him, a place where we know with absolute certainty that He is in control. 

And in this place, when we survive, He gets the glory. 

"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18


Monday, September 23, 2013

If You Say Go

Where to start? This weekend, along with my sweet mother-in-law, I attended the Unfailing Love retreat here in Birmingham. This two day retreat focuses on equipping, encouraging and refreshing adoptive and foster moms. And it was WONDERFUL!

Any time I am able to pass the hours with women who share the same heart is always a deep blessing from the Lord. Adoption is such a unique thing, so unlike anything else I have ever experienced. As we have walked the adoption path, I have learned more and more from women who have gone before me. And I am beyond grateful for these women, women who will share the true stories of their hearts and their lives, not just the adorable pictures and videos we love to see once it is all over and your child is home. Not just a flawless tale of a child who instantly fell in love with his new mom and didn't mind at all being taken away from everything he has ever known.

Instead, these women provide an honest look at all facets of the adoption journey. The beautiful moments, of which there are too many to count. And the difficult ones, the ones we might be hesitant to talk about.

And I grateful for their honesty and transparency.

For today, I want to talk to you about one particular thing from this weekend. A song. There was a time of singing worship before each of the main sessions began, and one of the songs we sang was new to me. It spoke to my heart in such a deep, clear and tangible way, and I want to share it with you.

Please listen to it first.

I am sure that just from listening (and ignoring the Matthew chapter typo at the end of the video) you can see why this song has become so dear to me.

It was obvious to us back in March and April of 2012 that God was saying, "Go" to us as we ventured into the world of adoption. And now, He is clearly saying, "Wait." While I am a much bigger fan of "Go" than I am of "Wait," I do know that the Lord is right here with us in the midst of whatever it is He is asking us to do.

Right now, we are waiting. And that is so frustrating. I was talking to one of my favorite friends today and telling her that this is all so hard because I know my children are out there somewhere. They could be alone, scared, hungry and hurting, and I cannot do anything about it. I cannot begin to tell you what that does to my heart. But I have to trust that the same Lord who created them will also take care of them.

It is just like this beautiful songs says. If He calls us to a fire, He will not withdraw His hand. He has not abandoned me or my children during this difficult hour (that feels like WAY more than an hour!). Instead, He is in the fire with us. We just have to look for Him.

Do you find yourself in a similar place? Do you feel like what you are being asked to do is not what you want to be doing?

It's hard, isn't it?

And I get it. I am right there with you.

But even better.

So is He.

The very One who made you and called you to this storm you are standing in is right there with you.

I have often thought of the story of Peter walking on water as we have walked through this adoption process. I like to think that I totally get how he feels. He has such faith. Truly believes that Jesus is who He says He is.

And so he asks for it.

"Lord, if it is you, tell me to get out of the boat."

And Jesus does. Jesus calls Peter to do the impossible. To be a mortal man who walks on water.

And so Peter steps out of the boat. He is doing it. He is walking on water.

But then he notices the storm, sees his precarious position and takes his eyes off of Christ. And when he does that, he sinks.

But Jesus is right there. And our gracious Savior pulls Peter back up and walks with him through the storm.

I am so glad I serve this Christ. The One who told us to get out of the boat and start working to bring our children home from Ethiopia. The same One who, when I get distracted by how incredibly impossible this all seems, takes my hand and pulls me back up and walks with me through the storm. We are walking on water with Christ as we walk through this adoption. So much of this seems impossible to me, seems like it will never end. But my Christ is here.

He is here with me in the storm.

And He is with you in your storm.

And no matter how high the waves get and how hard the wind blows, He is not going anywhere.

I hope you take comfort in that, dear friend. It is the only thing keeping my head above water.

"'Lord, if it is you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.'

'Come,' He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'

Immediately, Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' He said. 'Why did you doubt?'"
Matthew 14:28-31

Immediately, Jesus reached out to Peter and caught him. Immediately. He could do that because He was right next to Peter in the storm. And He is right next to you, too.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A New Name

When I originally started this blog, I loved the idea of calling it "A Heritage from the Lord." I loved it for a lot of reasons (still do!). I love that children are our heritage from the Lord, and I love that as adopted sons and daughters of the Most High, our own heritage is truly from the Lord. And I thought that since my writing would be primarily focused on bringing children into our family through adoption that the title fit really well.

All of those things are still true, but for the last few months I have sensed a stirring in my heart that this is about something more.

This is about God.

This is about His glory and His great Name.

This is about what He can do, is doing and will do.

This is about Him getting the glory and the credit for what comes of this struggle.

This is about Him making something beautiful.

You see, when I look at where I started on this journey, I do not see beauty. I see a whole lot of brokenness. I see pain, suffering, confusion, hurt, betrayal, distrust, anger, resentment. I see myself, a woman who felt lost and alone. A woman who felt confused and hurt, betrayed even. A woman who was faced with the reality of saying good-bye to the life she thought she would have. Maybe even the life she thought she should have.

But when I look at my life now, I see the sovereign hand of God. I see that He is the One who carved out this path for us. And while it has been (and continues to be) the most difficult and heart-wrenching thing I have ever done, I can see that He is doing the impossible.

He is making something beautiful.

He is bringing beauty from ashes.

My position on this journey has not changed, but my perspective is starting to. I am not writing this today because something miraculous has happened. We have not been matched with our child. We are no closer to becoming parents than we were yesterday. We don't know when this waiting will end.

But I do know that God is taking something that, to me, looks very broken and He is turning it in to something beautiful. He is writing His story in our lives. Not the one I thought I wanted, not the one that is easy or painless.

He is leading us through a fire. A fire that burns everything away except for that which truly matters. That which will last. A fire that burns away our pride, our self-righteousness, our lack of trust, our fear, our weakness.

And when all of those things are burned away, we will be left with what counts. Unshakable trust in His goodness. Unwavering commitment to each other and to our children. Deep and abiding faith that He who calls us is absolutely faithful and able.

We are left with something beautiful.

And that is attributed to God alone. This is not something we could ever do on our own. It is certainly not something I could ever accomplish by myself. And it is not something that is anywhere near being complete. God still has so much work to do in my heart.

But I am starting to see that all of this is not in vain.

For so long I felt like all of this waiting was just wasting time. Months and months, and now years and years have passed by as I have waited to become a mother. And it has been SO hard. Impossible on some days. And I have felt like life was just passing me by and believed all of this waiting was not serving any purpose. I see now that this is not true. God is working in my heart and in my life. He has been all along, but my vision has been too clouded for me to see it.

He is taking my weak and feeble plans and letting them burn away. And He is replacing them with His beautiful plan. The plan that brings me the most good and Him the most glory.

He is making everything beautiful in HIS time. Not mine. His

And so, after much thought, I have changed the name of this blog. Because it is about more than me becoming a mother. It is not about me at all.

It is about the glory of God. It is about watching Him take something broken and make it beautiful. It is about Him and His ability and desire to restore His children to Himself, to redeem our lives so that we never have to be apart from Him.

For a long time now, I have been hanging on to Ecclesiastes 3:11, and it is the inspiration for the new name of this place.

"Everything Beautiful"

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. And He has set eternity in the human heart so that no one can fathom what He has done from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

This is an ongoing process. I still have a LOT of not so beautiful (OK, downright ugly) days. But I know that, in the right time, God will finish this beautiful story, and I will have quite a tale to tell my children about how God used them to sanctify my heart while I worked and waited to bring them home.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Post I Never Thought I'd Write

It came. I prayed so hard against it for so long, but here it is.

Today marks one full year on the waiting list to bring our little one(s) home. Not one year since we started the process. One year since all of the paper chasing ended and our dossier landed in Ethiopia. One year sitting and waiting for a phone call telling us that we are finally parents.

I knew it was coming. I knew it was likely that September 17 of 2013 would come and go and that we would still be waiting. But it is a strange feeling. And I am not quite sure what to do with it.

On the one hand, I will wait as long as I have to in order to bring our children home from Ethiopia. There is no doubt about that in my mind. I have a love for these children that surpasses anything I could have ever imagined, and I have never even seen their faces. So I will wait.

On the other hand, I am so tired of waiting. So tired of wondering. So tired of offering up a "Someday" whenever someone asks if we have kids. So tired of wondering what it will be like to finally hold my own child. So tired of my heart aching.

And so today is a strange day for me. When we started out this whole process, I honestly never even considered us being here. I just knew we were going to be matched by May of this year, and I felt pretty certain that we would have our kids home before this year ended. But now we are facing the very large possibility that 2014 may arrive and we will still not know what our children look like. This is a difficult reality for me to face. I am praying against it with all I have. I am praying hard every single day that we see our children's faces by December 25th, that this would be the last time in our lives when we wonder if we will ever have children, what they will look like, if we will just be waiting forever and ever.

But I don't know if that is part of God's plan.

And so all I can do is the very thing I should always be doing.

All I can do is pray.

Pray for my children, that they are safe, fed and that they somehow know that I love them. Pray that God protects their little hearts and minds. Pray that they feel His embrace. Pray that He would let us see their beautiful faces soon.

Pray for my husband as he stands beside me during this seemingly impossible time. Pray for him as he strives to lead me through this wait. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving every single day that God saw fit to bless me with this man who never tells me I am being ridiculous or overly dramatic, but rather lets me cry and comforts me by reminding me Who is in charge.

Pray for my own heart as I try to seek God's face in the midst of this. Pray that I continue to turn to Him instead of giving in to despair. Pray that He reveals Himself to me and that I know Him more deeply as a result. Pray that this time, though so difficult, would not be wasted wallowing but would be used to point people to Jesus and share the message of His profound love with the world.

These are my prayers. Every day.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:6-7


Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday was one of those days when everything that happened was awesome. As we have worked toward adding little ones to our family, so many of the days over the last few years have been tainted with worry, colored with sadness or touched by frustration. Yesterday just was not one of those days.

Yesterday was beautiful.

I woke up early, early to go on a 14 mile run. (Only one month left until race day!). And it was the most beautiful day. Clear skies and unseasonable cool for Birmingham. I was able to pray for 9 of my 14 miles, which was incredible. Then Adam and Daisy joined me for the last three miles, and we celebrated by stopping at Starbucks on the way home for breakfast. We were able to sit outside and enjoy our food and drink and just talk and catch up with each other. Last week was so busy that this was really the first chance we have had in a while to sit down and focus on each other. After the chai and coffee cake (for me) and iced tea and banana bread (for him) were gone, we headed back home.

Showers and a quick nap were next on the list, and then we were off to spend the afternoon in the loveliest village on the Plains cheering on our Auburn Tigers!

 We stopped at Toomer's Corner to pick up the most delicious lemonade in all the land, and then sat on the front steps of Samford Hall to enjoy it and talk about our best college memories. 

Then it was off to Jordan Hare! 
We got there early to see the eagle fly and watch the AUMB march out onto the field playing our fight song. 

And our Tigers won! We were SO excited! 
What a game. Down to the last ten seconds. Whew! 
Two happy Tigers! 
War Eagle!! 

After we basked in the glory of Auburn's first SEC win of the year, we decided to walk back to our car by way of Toomer's Corner. We will always love it there, but it is completely different now that the trees are gone. Kind of sad. 

But then we got a most wonderful surprise! We ran into Josh! One of our very closest friends and our favorite Auburn police officer. He was working Toomer's Corner after game, and so we were able to talk to him for a good bit and catch up on everything we have been missing out on now that we are not neighbors anymore. We love Josh, and I am SO thankful we got to see him. 

But we had to leave Auburn eventually and get back home to Birmingham and our Daisy girl. 

I am so thankful for yesterday. Everything about it was good. I love when God gives you a day like that. 

War Eagle! 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Race Update + THANK YOU!! + New Challenge

The running world has been busy here lately. For me, that has meant a LOT of early mornings. Not my strong suit. I have been waking up during the 4 o'clock hour several days a week to get longer runs in before the Alabama sun gets hot enough to scorch me. And I will tell you that it has been tough. I mentioned in a previous post that I am NOT a morning person. Yet while this has been difficult, it has also been really good for me. Last Saturday I woke up at 4 to run 18 miles. 

You read that right.

And I did it! No one was more surprised than I was. Trust me. I can't believe it happened. But I have tried to stay committed to my training schedule, and I guess it starting to pay off! Yay! 

One more super long run to go. TWENTY miles on September 22. Yikes! 

Along with that major milestone, we achieved something else last week. Notice I say WE and not ME. Because of the generosity of so many, I received this email...

Thanks to so many of you, I received this email last week! I have to thank you all so much for your incredible support as I have worked through this marathon training. So much time and effort have been put into physical training and fundraising so far, and I am humbled to know that so many of you have been right by my side every step of the way. Because of your generosity, we have raise enough money to provide clean drinking water for twenty six people FOR LIFE. Let that sink in. Twenty six people who will have water to drink, who won't have to worry about parasites or preventable diseases caused by unclean water. And YOU are a part of that!


I absolutely could not have done this without you. When all of this started, I was SO nervous to ask for support, because our friends and family (and even strangers!) have done so much for us over the last almost year and a half with our adoption, and I hated to ask for anything else. But you all have shown the depths of your generosity, and I am humbly grateful.

We are still about a month away from race day, and I want to continue fundraising efforts to bring clean water to as many people as possible on the African continent.

So I have set a new goal.

A hallelujah goal!

Do you think we can get to $2,000 by October 13?

That would be clean water for FORTY PEOPLE.

I hope and pray that we can get there.

If you have not donated, will you consider it?

If you have donated, will you send this on to someone you know?

We can't go on living in a world where millions of people are denied access to what we consider basic human rights. God's Word commands us to act and to bring freedom to those who are oppressed. That is what we are doing by providing clean water. We cannot save the world, but we can work to change it!

Please click HERE to be taken to my fundraising page to make a donation.

This passage is take from Isaiah 61. The prophet is talking about the coming Messiah and what He will do for mankind. We are called to follow in His likeness. It is a tall order, but it is what we strive for.

"The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, 
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted
and to proclaim freedom for the captives 
and release from darkness for the prisoners, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor 
and the day of vengeance of our God, 
to comfort all who mourn and 
to provide for all who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy instead of mourning, 
a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the Lord, a display of His splendor." 
Isaiah 61:1-3


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Adoptive Parenting: Sleep

Our incredible adoption agency is starting to host community gatherings each month covering different topics related to adoptive parenting. Adam and I went to our first one last night, and it was super informative. One of the things I was so grateful for when we started this process was women who faithfully blogged about their adoption journeys and what they learned along the way, so I want to try to return the favor by writing about what I learn at each of these gatherings.

Last night, we listened to Dr. Jennifer Chambers, of the International Adoption Clinic here in Birmingham, teach on what sleep looks like in an adoptive home. If you are adopting internationally, then you have probably heard of Dr. Chambers. She is in pretty much all of the medical videos you have to watch for your Hague training. So it was AWESOME to learn from someone who is such an expert in her field. Beyond that, she and her husband have 2 adopted kiddos, so she was able to give us some very honest true life pictures of what sleeping (or not sleeping) looks like when you are transitioning your internationally adopted child into your home.  She really set my mind at ease.

So here are the notes I managed to take:

-Sleep depravation is one of the most effective tools of torture used during war time. (Seriously, that was one of her first points! I love it.)
-She shared this not to scare us, but to emphasize the importance of sleeping, both for your adopted children and for you. When no one is sleeping, everyone is going crazy.

-Abrupt transitions are the hardest on sleep.

-Try to be flexible with structure.

-Sleep might not look the way you want it to when you bring your kids home.
-Don't be afraid to veer off from your preconceived expectations of how and where and when your child should be sleeping.
-Pick a structure and stick with it long enough to see if it has a chance of working. You might try something new and your child might not like it the first night. Don't assume right away that this
means it will never work. Give it a fair chance. But move on if you see things getting worse.
-It takes approximately THREE MONTHS to fully adjust to sleeping in a new place. (Wow!)

-Jet Lag (Nervous about this one!)

-Give yourself one day to recover for each hour of time difference.
-Get your child out in the morning sun as soon as they are awake. Getting their melanin activated
as soon as possible will help keep them awake so that sleep will come more easily later.
-Minimal outings and visitors. Car rides will put your child to sleep and prevent good sleeping later. Visitors may overstimulate your child.

-Keep an open mind about where you sleep. (This one was huge for me.)

-It is OK if you sleep on the living room floor for a few weeks. Seriously! That may be where your
child is the most comfortable. (This one struck home, because I had a 4 year old foster brother when
I was in middle school, and he used to sleep on the floor all the time. But it was what he was used
to, and it made him feel safe.)
-You might be sleeping in their room for a few months. Night time is scary for adopted children.
-Don't rush transitions. If you sleeping in their room is working, don't abruptly decide that
everything must be fine now and then just move back to your room all of a sudden. Easy
transitions are good. Once you are sleeping separately, a two-way monitor is a great way to be able
to comfort your anxious child from a distance.

-Night time is a GREAT time for attachment. 

-It makes sense if you think about it. Your child is scared or anxious, and YOU are the one providing comfort, cementing your role as the parent.

So, hopefully, you can see why it was a great night! On top of that, we got to see some adoption friends and meet some new ones. Going to classes like this makes me even more ready to get my sweet babies home!

I hope this information helps, and I want to continue to write about the things we are learning, both to share with any other adopting families out there and to have it all in one place when we FINALLY do get back home with our littles.

Sleep well tonight!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

By Faith, Not By Sight

This morning brought me a new experience that had me really thinking about what we are walking through right now as we wait to become the parents of our sweet little babies. It all started on Tuesday, actually. I was supposed to run nine miles that afternoon when I got off work. And I started out intending to run all nine, but it was so HOT! I could not do it. My body felt like it was melting. So I stopped at five miles and resolved to do my nine mile run on Thursday. Today.

The problem was that it wasn't getting any cooler. Alabama is a toasty place to live this time of year, so I knew I would be in for a rough run if I went for it on Thursday afternoon.

So I did something I never thought I would do.

I woke up just before 4 this morning and was running at 4:25. Eeeeek!

SO early.

And Adam will tell you that I am not a morning person. There are days when he all but has to pry me out of bed with a crow bar. In fact, on more than one occasion, he has come into our room to find me still sleeping and asked, "Honey, are you planning on going to work today?" I just don't do mornings.

But I somehow popped out of bed, got dressed and hit the pavement. Adam and Daisy even came with me for a bit. The part I did not think about ahead of time was how DARK it was going to be. I mean, the sun was not even thinking about coming up yet. It was really OK for a while because there were a lot of streetlights. But then I got to this one stretch of road (a stretch I have run on every week but always in the afternoons or later mornings) with NO streetlights. Not a one. Just the occasional front porch light on a house.

I was running blind.

So I parked myself on the double yellow line in the center of the road, the only thing I could see, and stuck with it. Thankfully, I was in a very nice area with really well-paved roads. It was the first time in my life I have thanked God for tax dollars going to paving roads regularly.

And I have to admit to you that running in total darkness was a bit unnerving at first. I didn't have a clear view of my surroundings, and I could only see a few feet in front of myself. I just had to trust that the road would be there. But after a bit, I started to get used to it. My strides became more confident and I felt more certain that I would make it to the other side and back into the joy of streetlights.

And you know what? I did. I made it just fine. Even though I could not see the other side while I was running. Even though there were a few times when I lost sight of the double yellow lines and veered off into the grass. Even though I could not see what was going on around me. I made it.

And as I was running this dark stretch of road, God tapped me on the shoulder and opened my eyes to the truth that the physical challenge I was facing right then was, in fact, a mirror of what He has us going through right now.

When it comes to our adoption, I am running in the dark. I can't see or control what is happening around us, what is happening overseas, what is happening to our children while we wait to bring them home. I cannot see any of that. But just like I had to trust that the road would be there this morning, I also have to trust that God will be right here with me every single step of the way. All I can do is follow the path He has set before us. Sure, there will be times when I veer of track (so many times already), times when I get scared, times when I want to just turn around and get to a place where I can see. But I know that I don't have to do those things. I don't have to do them, because the Lord Almighty is with me. That is the very definition of faith, isn't it? Trusting in the One we cannot see. Believing, knowing that He is here.

He is the one charting my path, and as long as that is true, it's OK if I cannot see exactly what is going on.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7


P.S. Now to set all minds at ease (especially my mom's), I am investing in a light of some kind to allow me to see the road and others to better see me (although, who are we kidding? I didn't see a soul while it was dark.). Safety first, my friends.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wait List Number: September 2013

We got our next waiting list number today!

 We are number 31! 
Daisy is always pumped about any movement. 

OK, so I know one spot might not seem like a huge deal. But it IS. The court system in Ethiopia is closed right now for the rainy season, so I was expecting to get an email telling me that we did not move AT ALL. 

This was a pleasant surprise. 

I have been praying throughout this process that there would never be a month when we just didn't move. And I thought for sure that this was going to be the month and that God was going to use it to teach me to trust Him more. But instead, He did this! He reminded me that even when things seem impossible to human minds, anything is possible with Him! 

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 
Matthew 19:26


Monday, September 2, 2013

A New Prayer

As we continue to move forward in this adoption journey, I am starting to sense a change in my prayers over this process. Up until very recently, my prayers had been very much about the process itself. That it would go quickly, that we would trust God, that we would move a certain number of spots, that we would see our children's faces soon. But now that we are getting closer to the top of the list, and we face the reality that our children are very likely alive and living somewhere in Ethiopia, I am starting to feel the need to pray differently. And this need manifested itself at an unusual time over the weekend.

I spent some time crying on my run this past Saturday. Every time I run, I try to pray. Usually, I spend time thanking God for all He has done and is doing in my life and praying for my friends and family. One thing I always do is pray for our children and their birthmother. I pray that God will protect them, let them know they are loved and wanted. I pray that He will somehow give our birthmother a sense of peace, that somehow she will know that the children she brought into this world will always be loved and cared for, no matter what, that she will know that I honor her and that as I raise the children she carried into this world that I will teach them to do the same.

This past Saturday, I felt the need to spend extended time in prayer for our kids. And I ended up praying a prayer that I never thought I would have to pray, a prayer I do not want to have to pray. A prayer that left me in tears.

I prayed that my children would be able to eat that day, that someone would bathe them, change them, that someone would hold them and comfort them, that they would not be alone or afraid, that no one would hurt them, that they would somehow know that their mother was praying for them with all her heart.

And I was completely overwhelmed by this prayer I had to pray. It is not one that any woman should ever have to pray. But it is a prayer I am compelled to pray. A prayer I will continue to pray until my children are home.

As these changes continued to be prompted in my mind and in my heart, I am starting to realize that we are about to enter into a season where I will have to trust God even more fully. And, honestly, I did not really know that was possible. I thought for sure that there was nothing else I could be asked to surrender, nothing else at all.

But now this.

My children are out there somewhere. Up until now, all of this had a very "one day" feel to it. I wasn't sure if our kids had been born yet, but at this point, they most likely have. They are living and breathing and have needs. But I don't know if those needs are being met. And so I am having to trust God with the very lives of our children. I am having to trust Him that they will be fed, changed, bathed, comforted, everything. And I have no control over it. I can't even know IF it is happening.

I just have to believe.

And so we enter into this new phase of trust, of deepening faith, of belief that God is exactly who He says He is.

So if you have been praying for us, and I know SO many of you have, would you please pray for our children? Please pray that they are taken care of, that they feel safe and loved, that they know we are coming just as soon as we can.

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