Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Facing Goliath

An old friend called out of the blue and asked me to be apart of a special event. As she told me a little bit more about it, my first thought was... wow, I'm honored you'd even think of me... and you've definitely got the wrong person!
In a nutshell she wanted me to stand in front of 300 plus people and paint a picture of Mary and Christ during the reading of It Began in a Manger by Max Lucado, oh and in about 12-15 minutes. No big deal, right?!?! Well, maybe not to some but certainly to someone who
A. hyperventilates at the thought of being in a room full of strangers, let alone stand on a stage with their full attention;
B. is completely un-confident {yes, I realize that's not a word} in the ability to draw people, less yet our Lord and Savior, you know the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings!!!!
And C. has a hard time doing anything in a handful of minutes (I've self diagnosed myself with a serious case of ADD becoming more severe with age)!
I can think of an endless number of people more qualified, talented, and confident than myself! But she didn't ask anyone else, just me and the Lord was really tugging at my heart. I read the story and started to cry {I know, shocker, I seem to cry all the time these days, commercials, music, you name it}... I've heard the story of Jesus's birth a million times but reading it this time, this version, something was different. I thought of Mary holding her newborn baby, as a new mom, looking at her little miracle so tiny and helpless. All the emotions that must have gone through her mind... Ones most likely shared by all new moms holding their babies for the first time. This I could relate to, which I'm so grateful to be able to say; I could begin to understand Mary in a different way. Immediately a picture had come to mind and I felt that familiar tug at my heart yet again. The picture I was lead to was not the traditional one I remember from Sunday school of Mary and Christ, or even the one often seen on Christmas cards of Jesus in a manger, but I was reminded of a picture taken of Hudson a few days old held in my arms. It was a natural unposed picture capturing a moment that every new mom can relate to.


God started speaking to my heart, encouraging me to trust Him, that I could do this, He would help me do this. This thing I saw as Goliath, this thing I couldn't possibly do, this thing I wasn't talented nor confident enough to do.  So I agreed to do it... After all God had tugged at my heart before, and it led my husband and I to adopt, and that turned out to be more of a blessing than we had ever dreamed. If I could honor God with the gift He has given me, How could I say no?
It took a couple months of figuring out the logistics... We changed it from painting to chalk drawing on black paper, and added some time with the reading and the song Mary Did You Know (along with a million other behind the scenes organizing and planning I had nothing to do with, but my friend and a group of wonderful people at the church worked endless hours on). But the composition stayed the same, a simple innocent baby's face cradled in his mothers arms. 
After lots of practice and even more prayer, the day had arrived. It was time to face "Goliath." I had been teasing myself calling it this with my husband throughout the whole process but that morning I actually read the story in 1samuel of David and Goliath. Although it was Quite {with a capital Q}, different circumstances there were some similarities... I was terrified and about to go to battle with a tall order of fears, facing them head on and unarmed. But the Lord had my back and held my hand (quite literally in this case;)
Once again I trusted him and once again I was blessed because if it! It was an amazing experience that I was so humbled to be apart of. It wasn't the greatest work of art, lots of little mistakes, but in combination with the heartfelt reading, stage set up, lighting, atmosphere, and music, the message was clear... It began in a manger, and that's what Christmas is all about. What a blessing it was to be reminded of that at the start of this holiday season, it's so easy to lose sight of!
Although I'm glad it's over, I'm so thankful to have been apart of that event {A Christmas Remembered at Old Fort Baptist Church} I faced my fears, my "Goliath,"and was reminded in the process how good  and reliable God is! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me ~ Philippians 4:13... Good to remember when bigger "Goliath's" come along!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

I woke up the Saturday before Mother's day with my dog, Charlie, licking my hand.  He was ready to eat and this was his gentle way of encouraging me to get up and feed him.  I usually don't notice Charlie because he does this to my husband (along with make lots of noise in his crate that I can easily ignore, but my husband not so much).  Dave is the one who wakes up first, feeds charlie, then gets ready to feed our little man.  It's their time together, and it always touches my heart to watch them together when I walk down the steps in the morning.
This morning, it's just me and the dog.  My son, who is 7months old now, and my husband are visiting family for a special event and I am headed to a friends wedding.  I am not one who likes to be alone... I love spending all day with my son and feel blessed to be able to stay at home with him.  It's a job I have yearned for so deeply, I still cry when I think about it.  This is the first time I have been away from my little one over night and it is definitely harder than I thought.
Since I was up so early with nothing to do... the Today show wasn't even on yet... I got some coffee and checked my email to find a blog post shared by a dear friend of mine.  Usually I save these for when I have a quiet moment to read, which could be a while with a 7month old, but the house was almost empty and definitely quiet.  She is a friend who always seems to send encouraging or inspiring things at exactly the right moment, so I treasure what she sends.
I sat on the couch and read a beautiful story from a birth mom and cried my eyes out! She told her story in such a open and touching way.  I am thankful there are women, birth moms, out there who have the bravery and courage to talk about and share their stories. It is easy to have a misconception about things you don't understand or know about... I am certainly guilty! Lately, when I look at my beautiful son, often behind joyful tears, I think about Jeremiah 1:5 "I knew you before I formed you in your mothers womb, before you were born I set you apart." God has laid this verse on my heart in such a way that I get emotional every time I think about what that means! It was four long years of wanting a child before God blessed us with our sweet boy... all the while He knew my sweet boy and formed him in his birth mother's womb with my husband and I in mind!  God, the Creator of the universe, did that for me????  How unworthy I am, but how overwhelmingly thankful and blessed I am! 
In the blog post I read, the birth mother wrote "But when I made up my mind; I knew, that I knew, that I knew...that this child growing inside me, was always supposed to be someone else's child. When I made up my mind, I never changed it. I never wavered in my decision. I was certain, full of faith, that I was doing exactly what God had planned for me, and for my firstborn child."
Wow, just wow! I couldn't help but stop to think of our son's birth mother.  I think of her from time to time and wonder how she is doing.  I pray for her often and am inspired by her bravery and courage. It was so refreshing to read another birth mothers story, so close to Mother's Day.  For the past few years, Mother's Day was a day of mixed emotions to say the least!  It was one full of thanks for the three mother figures I have in my life, each in their own unique ways. One grateful to still have them in my life.  I also rejoiced for my mommy friends, especially the ones that struggled to become mommy's but had finally been blessed with children. But it was also a day of sadness, hurt, and pain.  One that reminded me of the missing void in my life, the missing yearning to have that "job" of being a mom. With this being my first Mother's Day, I hold it as a very special day, one that I will never forget.  I can't wait to see "my boy's" on Sunday.  But I am also reminded of dear ones close to me, that still share the pain that Mother's Day can bring. Friends that have lost their little ones, friends struggling with infertility, friends waiting to adopt... my heart aches for their pain but rejoices in knowing that God is still busy at work forming His perfect plan for their lives.  Oh the beauty that will unfold for each of them in His perfect timing. Hang in there sweet sisters and know that your time of joy and healing is coming!
I now add birth mothers to my thoughts on this special day.  Not just the one who gave life to the most precious thing I get to hold in my arms and call my son, but to all the beautiful birth moms.  Adoption is LOVE on all sides.... after all anything that God knows and forms is out of the purest kind of love there is!

To read the blog post that inspired me, check out this link...
http://raisingbluebirds.blogspot.com/2014/01/i-am-birth-mother.html

Friday, September 27, 2013

Worth the Wait!

You spend  your whole life waiting on something. That "something" seems to change right along with life as you grow older.  Waiting is just a natural and necessary means to a conclusion.  Particularly In the last few months I've come to appreciate the "waiting" process as I've been able to see it from a different perspective.

We had our second home study back in early July.  Naturally we were apprehensive leading up to the visit but there were some clear differences in the preparation between the first one and this one.  While the first one took weeks of cleaning, organizing, and mentally preparing for, this past one not so much. I woke up, looked at David and said, "oh yeah, our social worker will be here in a few hours... maybe we should vacuum?!?!"  It was a good visit, not much new to report, but we talked about our desire to look into international adoption.  We figured the domestic adoption was taking so long, we could handle the rumored "lengthy" international route if that was what God was calling us to do.  Before our social worker left, I joked with her, guess we'll hear some good news from you next week right?

Oddly enough, we did hear some good news a few short weeks after our second home study was complete!  It was the news we had waited so long to hear; but we had heard similar news before that didn't lead us to the conclusion we had wanted. So when we heard another expectant mother had chosen us, we had our guards up.  Those guards quickly began to crumble as we found out more and more about the situation and became absolutely in awe of the precious expectant mother.   She had chosen us after looking through the "big book" of countless deserving families one page descriptions accompanied by a photo.  She kept coming back to ours and finally asked if there was any Hispanic connection... I'm not sure how she knew, but when she learned that my father is Hispanic she told our social worker, they are the ones! She too has a Hispanic parent and lives with them in Guatemala.  Her other American parent allows her to have dual citizenship and have the baby here in the States. When I got the call, tears streamed down my face and a feeling I've never felt before made my heart want to burst outside my chest.  I couldn't wait to call David, I knew his answer would be yes just as instantly as mine.  We had just opened our hearts to the idea of an international adoption and here we were with an international baby placed in the "domestic adoption package" here practically in our own back yard! God couldn't be anymore all over this!

As ecstatic as we were, the last failed situation still left some lingering doubt.  We only shared the news with family and we continued the wait. The wait to see if this was really it, the one God planned just for us! We learned more about the birth mother during this wait and for her protection, I won't share too many details.  But we are blessed to know her as a courageous and amazing young woman! She sent us a special package with a heartfelt letter, little outfit, and a picture of the ultrasound letting us know it's a Boy!  Her thoughtfulness meant so much more to us than can really be described.  It gave us hope and allowed us to overcome that lingering doubt.  It was another sign from God that this was it, an answer to so many prayers that our wait would soon be over.  

A few days before the due date, we got a phone call from David's parents that his grandmother most likely wouldn't make it through the weekend.  We had one loved one going and another coming... it seemed impossible timing! We had just heard that our expectant mother was only 1 cm dilated and most likely wouldn't deliver on time, so we dropped everything (I can't even begin to tell you how many things that "everything" encompassed.... It was quite possibly the busiest weekend in the entire year) and headed to the only place that made sense. We headed in the opposite direction from where our sweet baby was to be delivered any day now, to be with family and say goodbye to an amazing woman, praying God would work out all the timing.  When we got there we found ourselves waiting on something very different. Now we were waiting for our dynamically beautiful grandmother to pass peacefully and comfortably, surrounded by family from all over the States.  She took her last breath Sunday, two days after we had gotten there and two days after the due date.  Monday morning we got the news that our birth mother would be induced on Wednesday.  Amazingly enough the funeral was able to be organized and scheduled for Tuesday morning.  God literally timed and orchestrated every minuet to work out perfectly. As anxious as we were for baby to make his debut, his late arrival was such a blessing as it allowed us to be able to be with family.

When we got back home, we began a new wait.  One that was much harder than I expected. We got news that he was born... a healthy 8 lb 9 oz little bundle. He and our now birth mother were doing great.  That was a huge relief and answer to prayer but we were dying to see him, hold him, kiss him, and take him home.  The next 48 hours slowly ticked by making every second seem like an eternity. I'm not sure how it is that two days of waiting were so much worse than the two years of waiting on this little guy!
Finally Friday came and after not much sleep at all we were off to meet our little man! Well after about 30 min of trying to put the stubborn car seat in the car... That was obnoxiously complicated for us rookies! We were so curious what he would look like and had hours to .. There are not words that can describe the joy that filled our hearts seeing him for the first time. He's the most handsome little guy I've ever seen! Of course the whole way home I rode in the back just staring at him! We couldn't wait to get him home... And just in time for his first Carolina football game!! I mean priorities, right!! We are more than thrilled to introduce our sweet little gift from God...Hudson James...
Love at first sight!
Quick snack before we hit the road...


Ready to go home!
Home sweet home after a bottle and a good swaddle!



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Home Study Round Two...


It's hard to believe a little over a year has passed since we gathered all our paperwork and finalized our home study.  Today we put the stamp on our packet of updated contracts and reports for our second go round of the home study.  I was really dreading this at the beginning of the summer, when a sweet friend shared something with me.  She had to also do a second home study as theirs had expired just like ours.  And along with it came some of the same dreaded feelings and heavy sighs.  But she is the proud mother of two sweet little girls.  She got her first little one shortly after updating the expired home study.  They had started thinking and praying about starting the process to adopt their second child a while after and hit a few obstacles.  Sure enough, God was working behind the scenes, and surprised them with a little baby girl seemingly out of nowhere.  Had they not updated their home study, they would not have had time to complete a new one and adopt their second sweet little blessing.  Timing is everything and although I wish some days our waiting time would come to an end, deep down I really am glad it's all in God's timing!

Full disclosure however... sometimes I have to reach down really really deep to remind myself of that and keep going.  I recently was connected with another sweet Godly woman going through the adoption process, who like many of us waiting mamas, writes a blog.  I read a couple of her entries and one that really stood out was entitled "I'm Tired." She wrote very honestly about being tired of things that all of us waiting mamas can relate to, but often out of southern politeness, never actually say.  

Tired of being asked "are you pregnant yet?" or hearing of yet another friend who is pregnant... the list went on and I laughed at some and cried at others as they all hit home. I'm so thankful to meet other women and couples going through this process and hearing their stories, emotions, and experiences.  They make me feel a bit more normal (if there is such a thing).  There is not a doubt in mind that God connects us at the most perfect moments to give encouragement and hope.

So here we are, still waiting, but still hopeful.  It's good to know, God keeps His promises... I'm giving the old saying, "the patience of Job" a whole new appreciation! I could sure use a little of that!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Good, The Sad, & The Bad

Never before in my life have I been able to see God with me so clearly as I do now.  Of course God has always been there, I just didn't put any effort into seeing Him in the small things.  Plenty of times I chose to flat out ignore Him. Now I find myself searching for God in almost every moment of my day, knowing it is quite possible and highly likely I won't get through the day without Him!  It's funny how events both good and bad can either bring us back to our heavenly Father or push us further away.

Some of the hurt that David and I have experienced lately, I find myself thinking if it had happened years ago, I'm not sure it would have brought me closer to God. We made a pact at the beginning of this adoption journey that we would follow God's plan where ever it lead us.  I didn't think it would drag us through miles of thorn bushes, maybe a rose bush or two, but nevertheless here we are on the other side of yet another road block.  I don't mean to focus on the heartbreak side, certainly the less talked about side of adoption, but it's the truth of where we're at.  A close girlfriend of mine told me the other day that reading these posts make her so sad.  I laughed a little and told her that's not what they are supposed to do!  I don't really know what these posts are supposed to do, but certainly not make people sad.  As much as I would love to keep the sad parts out of this journey, they belong in our story as much as the happily ever after ending...which let's be honest, I've never heard any parent ever say that having their children resulted in a blissful fairytale ending:) I mean night feedings and diaper duty doesn't exactly scream bliss.

A week ago Tuesday was supposed to be the second set induce date for the expectant mother we had been matched with.  For the last month or so we were planning to bring home a precious little boy.  We were so confident and sure this was the one.  It wasn't the typical scenario that we had originally imagined.  In fact we were the fourth family chosen for this child, so the fact that the opportunity had even reached us, we took as a sign.  It made us really step out in faith, the drop down to your knees and pray repeatedly kind of faith. We struggled with the decision and in the end were led to James 1:27..."Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."  We had our answer and we thought for sure, this had to be our little guy, finally our little blessing was here.

We found out not to long ago that the expectant mother had the baby on time, and for whatever reason didn't want to tell her social worker that she was keeping him.  It is a reality that all adoptive parents have to think about and many face. When we were told that the induce date had been rescheduled for the second time we knew something wasn't right and that this could be the outcome, a few days later our suspicion was confirmed.  Of course it was a hard reality to swallow, but after all something similar had happened before and as we have seen first hand... everything with adoption is COMPLETELY out of our control. We had a choice, we could stay angry and upset or we could just trust God.  It seemed an easy choice.  God covered us with his peace and provided us with hope.  It's a feeling I've never felt before in all my life.  The strength to pick ourselves up and put away all the sweet little baby boy essentials that had started to multiply around our house doesn't come from within me.  Those who knew me years ago can testify to just how big of a mess I was when something as simple as losing my cell phone would completely paralyze my world! Don't get me wrong, I'm still a big mess, just a much more peaceful mess,  clearly thanks to God Almighty.

Maybe God was protecting us from something in the future.  Maybe He needed to teach us something that will make sense later.  Maybe He was testing our faith, only time will tell and the "why" isn't really important.  So many wonderfully supportive friends and family have told us that once we do get our sweet little blessing, this will just be another special part in the story that brought us closer him or her. In my heart, I know that's true!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

As Small as a Mustard Seed

I've been putting the writing of this update off because my heart has been pulled in so many different directions I didn't know how to even begin putting it into words.  It's recently become clear how important each of those emotions, along with the experiences that prompted them are.  Every minuet of happiness, and joy; each second of heart wrenching pain, devastation, and loss, all act as little stones building upon one another to create God's path for David and I.  Not one more important than the other, some less desirable than others, but all playing a key role.

Recently we responded to a recruitment email about a precious little baby along with 18 other families.  We thought our chances of getting chosen out of that many families was slim, but sure enough, we were the expectant mom's first choice.  David and I were ecstatic to say the least.  We spent the next 24 hours thinking about our baby girl... what she would look like, how we would doll up the nursery adding pink to the gender neutral decor (okay that was me, not David).  We were so excited, terrified, and overwhelmed at what exactly we would do with this precious little girl once we actually brought her home and began a new chapter as parents! Real, responsible for another little human being, parents!

And then just as suddenly we got a call that the expectant mother had changed her mind about us, she wanted to go with another couple.  Stunned, and having an out of body experience, I have no idea how the rest of that conversation went.  I dropped to my knees in tears, not wanting to tell David that we just lost our baby girl.  After all, she was ours, we were picked, we were scheduled to meet the expectant mom and everything just seemed so perfect.  But she wasn't and isn't ours.  Anger followed the loss and sadness as we tried to figure out and understand what on Earth had just happened!

A dear friend of mine had sent a devotional a few days before about the story of the mustard seed from Matthew 17:20..."If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there."  I could just feel God picking me up and holding my hand.  I remembered a prayer I said after finding out that 18 families responded to adopt this child.  I asked God to open the door if this was the child He had planned for us and to close that door if it wasn't.  Well He answered by doing both, and in a very short period of time.  That's all we needed, just a little bit of faith, that this was part of God's path for us.  Dave and I woke up the next morning with an unbelievable sense of peace.

Over the last few years, God has been slowly breaking us down so He could build us back up into the children He wants us to be.  We couldn't start down the path He had planned for us until we went through some serious changes.  Changes in the way we think our family will look, changes in what we value as important, and changes in our relationship with Him.  And maybe because I'm extra stubborn, a few extra painful "stones" were necessary to make me see the bigger picture.  As David said so perfectly the other day, our family is going to be unique, it's not going to look like what we originally thought. But that's the best part, it is going to look like God's design, and that is more beautiful than anything we could ever hope for!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hopeful


"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When all is well I find this easy to do. When things become a little, or a lot rocky, doing this becomes more essential, for me at least. Dave sent this to me this morning, which helped provide a little clarity in how to write this post. I've been meaning to write, but found it impossible to start. Most of you know that I just write how I talk, from my heart and thoughts, including typos and grammatical catastrophes. My mind has been so jumbled with emotions over the past month or so that a complete sentence seemed to much to ask for. I guess the secret is out...I do put some thought into what I write, as I care about the people who actually read this.

So how to explain the emotional roller coaster of our most recent journey twist and turns? We have been through a few different scenarios, all very different, but all leading to the possibility of having a baby to call our own. One came out of the blue from a friend of a friend, which seemed an ideal situation. Another from our first recruitment email that we felt moved to respond to. And the most recent from a young birth mom who chose us.  None of the situations worked out, for various different reasons and Dave and I are at peace with that. We trust God and His plan for us, and it just wasn't our time.

Although we accept that, it isn't without a little struggle and heartbreak.  One of the situations, the baby was already born, healthy and waiting at the hospital.  To think that right in this very moment we could have our little baby, in our home and in our arms is astounding (and a little scary).  I am so glad that I have an amazing husband in moments like this.  When I say that Dave really helped me to view this as hopeful rather than a loss, is a massive understatement! But he's right, we didn't lose a baby or an opportunity.  We gained hope that there will be a baby in our future, they are out there.  And our vulnerability has strengthened our Faith and dependence on God... which is kind of the point I guess...

James 1:2-4 
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

It's funny, I never really relied on scripture before, and now it's our life line!  Sometimes I come across these scriptures in my daily devotional reading, sometimes friends and family send them, or other times I hear them on the radio or in a sermon.  They always seem to say just the right thing at just the right time.  So we are hanging in there, still waiting.  Learning that we are waiting not just on our baby, but the right situation too.  For us, for baby, and for birth mom/family;  It really isn't about just us.