Monday, March 23, 2015

I Have Gifted Friends

The Lord has blessed me with some truly beautiful people. And one of my biggest blessings and deepest friends is Laura Catherine. She is a sister of the soul. Someone I love deeply and trust wholeheartedly. I can count on her for Godly wisdom and truth no matter the circumstance. She has carried me through a LOT of this adoption journey, and there is pretty much no way I could ever explain to you how much I cherish this dear friend and all she is to me.

And tonight, she absolutely outdid herself.

I have had this vision for Bradley's room. Courtesy of Pottery Barn, of course.

A GIANT map of the world hand painted onto the wall.

There was one problem with that plan, though. I am a TERRIBLE artist. As in awful. The worst. There is really no way to overstate it.

Laura Catherine, on the other hand, is gifted, gifted, gifted in this area. And tonight, she gave me a beautiful gift. A map of the world hand painted onto the wall.

 We started out with a map projected on the wall. 
Here, I will boast of my participation. I turned the projector on and Googled the map. 
You are impressed. I know. 
Then we traced out the map in chalk. 
And from that, Laura Catherine gave me this. 
A BEAUTIFUL map of the world, with my baby's home continent right in the middle. 

After she left, I stood in Bradley's room almost in tears, thinking about the fact that he will be living here soon. Right here in this room. Thank you, Laura Catherine, for giving me a beautiful place to bring my son home to...soon. 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Nights

I have been a junior high English teacher for the last eight years. That means that, for the last eight years, Sunday nights have been filled with last minute lesson adjustments and stressing about what the new week would bring. In one sense, tonight is no different. I am most certainly sitting here wondering what this next week will be like, and I am hoping that my plans for the week will succeed. But tonight is also completely different from any other Sunday night I have experienced over the last eight years. Tonight is my last Sunday night before a new school week begins. This is the last time I will sit and wonder if I have planned enough, if I am ready to field the endless questions that inevitably accompany being a middle school teacher. Tonight is the last time I will look forward to hearing what crazy things my students did over the weekend.

Because this coming week is my last week as a teacher.

There. I said it.

I have five more days left in the classroom. It is a strange feeling, to be sure. I have been a teacher since I was 22 years old; I have never done anything else as an adult. It is all I know. But on Friday afternoon, I will walk out the door of my classroom and begin maternity leave and the journey into staying home with my son.

There is so much I will miss. My students. I love my students. They are fun and funny. I love watching them grow up and see the world in new ways. I love TEACHING them and seeing that shift when they finally understand a concept we have been working on. I love introducing them to great literature and modeling how to form and defend an opinion. I love helping them ACCOMPLISH and ACHIEVE.

My content area. I love being an English teacher. I love helping grow a love of reading in my students. I love getting to read and analyze literature for a living.

Being a teacher. I love to teach. I love to share knowledge and watch my students grow. I love that I have been a part of the lives of around 700 students during my tenure as an educator. I love being a safe person for teenagers in a world that is not always safe.

My co-workers. I work with some of the very best people in the teaching business. The teachers on my hall are incredible, and our students are so much better off for it. These are people who started out as colleagues and have become friends, dear ones. I get all mushy and weepy inside when I think about not seeing them every day.

Even though I am so sad to be leaving this part of my life behind, I am overjoyed to be moving on to this next phase. I am so ready to bring Bradley home and be a mom to him day in and day out. I'm ready to be there for him and with him every day. And I know that this choice will make that possible for me.

So, lots of change is on our immediate horizon, but I am so excited to see what's coming. And tonight, I am sorting through a mix of emotions.

Cheers to my last Sunday night as a wondering, worrying teacher.


Friday, March 20, 2015

So Loved

I spent this past weekend feeling so loved by so many important people in my life. Sunday was Bradley's Birmingham Baby shower! My mom and dad had plans awhile ago to fly up for the weekend. BUT baby sister surprised me by tagging along and bringing my sweet, little niece. Yay for family! Friday night was dinner at our favorite Birmingham pizza parlor, Giuseppe's. Get the feta dip. Saturday was full of girly things: shopping, pedicures and lunch, followed by dinner on the grill at home. Church on Sunday, and then it was baby shower time!

Talk about a surreal experience. For the last three years, we have been working to get this little one home, and so often it has felt like it would never happen. But on Sunday, I was surrounded by women I know and love, and I got to see them celebrate this little life that God has placed with our family. It was such a gift. And the shower was so thoughtful. Every little detail was reflective of Bradley and our journey to him. It was so personal. So perfect.

I am working on getting the rest of the pictures, but here is a taste of this beautiful day:

 Beautiful table with delicious treats

 A perfect match to Bradley's nursery! 

 Africa cookies with hearts over Ethiopia! 

 Beautiful corsage! 
So excited to be Bradley's mom! 
Giraffes are everywhere! 
My most precious hostesses: 
Betty, Laura Catherine and Mary 
The grandmothers
Aunt Bibi and Sydney 
 Such sweet gifts for our little man! 
And a ride home with Jimmy the Giraffe! 

Thank you so much to each of you who came to celebrate Bradley. He is already so loved by so many! 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Miss Him

How can you miss someone you have never even met? I have no idea, but I am certainly experiencing it these days. I look at these pictures of my beautiful son, and I miss him so much it hurts. Physically aches. I just want to hold him and kiss him and tell him how very deeply I love him. I have just been staring into his little brown eyes, willing him to know that he is loved and cherished. I've been imagining what it will be like when I finally have him in my arms, when I get to be the one who comforts him and rocks him to sleep.

I wish I could just flood this blog and the internet with his sweet face so that you all could see what I see. A precious boy who is beautiful all the way around. I want so much to know him. What is he like? What does he love? What makes him laugh?

But the Lord is asking me to hang in there a little bit longer. To continue to trust in Him and His ability to care for our son apart from me. It is easily the most difficult thing I have ever done. Adoption is hard all the time, but knowing you have a son, knowing his face and having to live every day while he is on the other side of the planet? Well, that takes the cake. I'm thinking about him nonstop, wondering if he is OK, if he is crying, if he is hungry, if he is sleeping. But even in this, I see God's grace. I mentioned that we received updated pictures of our little man this week. And he looks so good. He looks healthy, and the room he is in looks so clean and well taken-care-of. So I look at those photos, and I breathe a heavy sigh of relief. He is being looked after.

So we are getting closer. Slowly but surely, we are making progress toward bringing him home. And God is teaching me so much along the way. I am learning to trust in a whole new way, and I am seeing that God can strengthen me to withstand what seems impossible to me. He can hold me up and carry me through. And I can trust Him to do it.

But that doesn't make me miss him any less. And I am BEYOND ready to get my hands on him.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It Landed

We received confirmation from FedEx yesterday that our PAIR letter has officially been delivered! What and enormous weight lifted off our shoulders. Apparently, few things in the world have the ability to throw me into a tizzy quite like adoption paperwork. Our letter was originally scheduled for delivery on Monday by 6 P.M. Naturally, I was stalking FedEx like a crazy woman, refreshing my tracking number every few minutes. Then, it suddenly said, "Delivery Delayed: Future Delivery Requested." My heart dropped down to my heels. And then I saw the new expected delivery date: Friday 3/13. I did my best to remain calm, but I was more than a little upset. A whole week? Our letter is going to sit in the FedEx facility for a whole week?

But the Lord is good and sovereign, and in the midst of my crazy, I tried to remind myself of those truths and rest in His peace.

So you can imagine my elation when we received our email confirmation yesterday that the letter had been successfully delivered to our agency. It landed. Yaaaay!

Now all we do is wait. Wait for a court date. Wait to travel to Ethiopia to meet our son!

And yesterday was made even more wonderful when we received updated photos of our little guy!


So that is what I have been doing for the last 24 hours. Staring at the sweetest little face I have ever seen.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Say What?: Wrong with Him

It has been awhile since I have sat down to write a Say What? post. It's not because I have suddenly stopped having people say silly things to me. I've gotten some good ones lately. Some funny and some not so much. It's more that I always want to make sure I am not writing from a place of anger. Rather, I want to approach this from a place of love and grace with the goal of extending a friendly hand for those not super familiar with the adoption world and all its nuances.

And so today I want to address a question that I have gotten a few times since our referral.

"So...what's wrong with him?"

Eeeeeeeek. Nails on chalkboard.

Before I say anything else, I want to pause and clarify something. I know what people mean when they say this, and I know that (most of the time) it is not coming from a place of judgment or hostility. I know people are curious and are likely asking if we are pursuing a special needs adoption. We are not doing that this time around. However, "special needs" and "wrong" are not interchangeable terms. There is nothing wrong with children who have special needs. They are deserving of love just as much as their typically developing counterparts.

Still, even with that in mind, I want to say that this question has the potential to be extremely hurtful if you find yourself on the receiving end of it. The implication is that in order for your child to be placed for adoption that there must have been something "wrong" with him. Ouch.

Most of the time, for missteps like this, there is some other way to word the question, but for this, I have to say that there is just no appropriate way to ask. Mainly because this is an incredibly personal question. I have talked before about the reality that adoption is born from hardship. It exists because we live in a fallen world. That is a heavy weight for an adoptive family, especially the adopted child, to carry. There are countless articles and studies that have been done on adoptees and their feelings about being adopted. And I'll be honest; it's a struggle to read through some of them. There is a lot of hurt out there. I pray ALL THE TIME that Bradley will always feel loved, treasured, cherished and fought for in his family.

But there is a part of his life story that is hard, and for it to be implied, intentionally or not, that that part exists because there is something wrong with him...

Well. That is not OK with me.

Adoption is something that happened to my son. It is not something he picked. He did not do anything or say anything or have anything "wrong" with him that led to this outcome. We live in a hard world, and difficult things happen every single day. I know B's birth mother made the best decision she could. I know she loves him, and I want it to be known that I honor his birth mother for her choice. I applaud her for it. And for all my days, I will tell my son that truth. He was and is so loved and cherished. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with him. He was designed and created by the Most High God.

So today I want to kindly implore you to steer clear of this line of questioning. It won't get you too far, and it will likely result in some hurting hearts, especially if these questions are asked in front of the child. Please, please put the best interest of the family ahead of curiosity.

With love,

Monday, March 9, 2015

Embracing the Change

So much change is on my horizon. And it's funny because for the last few years, my main *complaint* about my life is that nothing has changed. I was looking around at the lives of all of my friends and seeing how everything was transforming for them. I saw them become parents and the joy that brought to their lives. And that was completely missing for me.

Or so I thought.

It is true that my life, our life, had not undergone any real physical change. At least not in the way it is about to here soon.

But there was this other thing going on. This very intense, very painful, very personal but very real thing.

God was using the "sameness" of our circumstance to bring about a DRASTIC change in me as a person. And for some reason (very likely selfish pride), I was rejecting it. I was refusing to acknowledge what He was doing because doing so would mean that I would have to change who I was, change what I had decided I wanted out of life.

But now here we are, on the edge of such a deep life change, and I find myself feeling so thankful that God allowed all of that sameness I hated so much. I would not be ready for what is coming next without it. I would still be selfishly pursuing what I want our of life without pausing to ask God what He wants out of my life.

I have realized over the last three years that my life is not one dimensional, that there can be so much more to the legacy I leave than what my label is. Wife. Mom. Teacher. Writer. All of those things are beautiful and good and gifts from God. But those things are not what define me, and I don't want my whole legacy to be that I was a really good _____________. I want to make a mark on this world for the sake of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. I want to matter. I want an extraordinary and significant life.

The idea of an extraordinary life is something we discuss a LOT at Fort Knott. Adam and I both want that for ourselves and for our family. I think most people do. The hard part about living an extraordinary life is that it usually requires sacrifice. Sometimes a deep and painful one. And I think that is where we hesitate. Right? Because we want significant. We want to be extraordinary. But we want it on our terms. We want it to look the way we think it should look. We want it to be easy, to not have to change anything to achieve it.

And extraordinary-ness (just invented a word!) is not cheap. It will cost us something.

It can be so hard to be willing to pay the price, too. Believe me. The Lord has asked something BIG of my life. He has asked me to walk away from what I thought my whole life would look like and the embrace the change that is the life He has always had for me.

The real question I was being asked was, "Do you trust me?"

I had these carefully laid plans that looked really good to me. Plans that would make me happy and give me what I want. But God said no. He asked me to walk away from the life I had imagined, and He did it without telling me what the end result would be. For a long time, I fought back. Oh, I went along with the new plan, but I never really let go of what I thought was best. God has used this incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching thing called adoption to change me in every way. I am not the same woman I was when we set out on this journey in April of 2012. And I feel like my feet are on the path to an extraordinary life, if I can just embrace the change that God has for me along the way.

I think so much about Peter here. I feel like he wanted so badly to be extraordinary, to make a Kingdom impact. And so often, he seemed to put the cart before the horse and end up with his foot in his mouth as a result. But then I look at him walking on water. Truly extraordinary. In order to do that, though, he had to make a sacrifice. He had to give up the safety of the boat. He had to, in a very real way, put his life on the line and in the hands of Jesus. BUT HE DID IT. He set aside his fears and what he knew to be physically, humanly possible, and he stepped out of the boat. He knew that he could not walk across the surface of the sea, but he also knew that Jesus was wholly and completely trustworthy. So he abandoned what he knew made sense and embraced what Jesus was about to do.

The result?

Just like Jesus, Peter walked on water. Through the power of Jesus, Peter did the impossible. But he had to be willing to let go.

Let's let go. Let's trust the God who created the whole universe to properly mange our lives. I'm not saying it is easy; I'm actually saying that it is really hard. But He can be trusted, and He is always only ever good.

I've experienced this in such a real way. My life does NOT look the way I thought it would. It looks better. Yes, it is has been so difficult. Still is. But I see so much good in it. I see God in it and in me. And those are things I WAS NOT SEEING three years ago. Three years ago, I was seeing me. Now I am seeing what God has for me. Far greater, far more beautiful.

Embrace the change.


Friday, March 6, 2015


Our approval letter has cleared both Embassies in Washington D.C. and should be on its way to Ethiopia this week!

Amen. Thank you, Jesus.

Once our letter lands in Ethiopia, we will be officially in line for our court dates. We will not attend our preliminary court hearing; a representative from our agency will go on our behalf. Once this is complete, we will be assigned our court date, for which we will travel to Ethiopia.

I would, yet again, ask for your prayer in this. Once our preliminary hearing is complete, it can take some time for our actual court date to be issued. Please pray that this happens quickly so that we can get to our boy as fast as possible.

We are so close to the end of this long journey, but there is still so much to be done. We continue to covet your prayers and to be so appreciative of each of you.


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