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Monday, February 24, 2014

5. and 1.

I didn't know what else to title this post.
It's nothing clever.
It didn't require much thought.
These numbers were just the only things that came to mind.

Both mean something to me, yet neither defines me.  Thank God.
And maybe if you know me, or my awesome husband, you might already know exactly what these numbers stand for.
But if not, I'm thankful that you're reading.
I'm thankful to have this little space, albeit very neglected, to share our story, update everyone in one big swoop, and sort through the joys and heartaches of our little journey for myself, as I often come back to read and remember and give thanks for how God has blessed us...
and maybe, just maybe, I pray that it might even be just an ounce of encouragement to someone reading.

So this number: 5. Oh boy.
Well, it's the number of years I've been married to my best friend, most importantly.  
December 2008.  
It is an absolute bright spot in my life.  He's pretty much IT to me.  And still makes me feel as chosen and lucky today, as I did when we were 14 and he presented me with a little rose he hand-picked from his Grandma's backyard and kissed the mess outta me - for the first time - right outside of our 9th grade automotive shop class.  And so here we are, 5 years married, 5 years happy, and living a life with all things beautiful...

but 'FIVE' also represents the number of years we've been staring at a far-off and very distant dream of getting pregnant.
5 = the number of years my body has shown itself and my doctor(s) that it doesn't work the way it's supposed to.
5 = the number of years my husband has wondered if his body is even capable of doing what it's supposed to.
It's been 5 very long, and at times, very gruesome years of waiting.
It's been a constant roller coaster - the emotional ups and downs of being patient in the waiting, and trusting God in the waiting...a daily relinquishment of laying down my earthly desires so that I can pick up the Heavenly desires that my faithful God has for me. And for my husband.  For our family, and His picture of what that is really supposed to look like.

It ain't easy.
And it sure ain't pretty.
I've made a permanent relationship with Old Navy's yoga pants collection.  They're my go to on the 'baby fever' days.

But for the past TWO years, I've had a daily reminder of exactly why it IS. WORTH. IT. to lay aside MY dreams and trade them in for HEAVENLY dreams:

that little brown morsel there in the middle.

The truth is, regardless of how I've felt all these years about my 'broken' body, the divine plan for our children and our desire to grow our family is beyond what we can ever do.  It's out of our hands.  We can try and try and try some more.  We can exhaust every emotion, every dollar we have, every doctor's opinion, every brand of pee stick, method of conception, fertility treatment...we can completely deplete ourselves of every ounce of hope there is by failing to recognize that there is a God above who IS in control, and that His ways are better.  His ways are higher.  There is nothing that we can do apart from Him.  And it is better that way.

I knew this to be true when we started down the road to adoption and I had nothing but peace.
I knew this to be true when He faithfully provided for adoption expenses.
I KNEW this to be true when our little miss made us proud parents in less than 72 hours.  
And I KNOW this to be true as I now look back on an adoption journey that totaled (from our first paperwork signatures to the day we brought our daughter home) the duration of a full term pregnancy.  
Yeah, you read that right.  40 weeks.  It took forty weeks.

And I knew this to be true, once again, just a couple of days ago, as I shockingly discovered that I was having a miscarriage.
Me?  Pregnant.  For the first time.  1

I was as shocked - my husband was as shocked - as some of you might be who are reading.  
But it's true.  
Although never confirmed on a stick, it was unfortunately confirmed through blood work and an ultrasound.  

I'll spare many details, but I will tell you this:

The miracle began back in October.  4 months ago.  I remember the exact day, and the exact moment when I knew something in our life was shifting.  Something in my BODY was shifting.  And after a very real, and very tangible moment with God, I was suddenly face-to-face with the confirmation that our desires to conceive have not been forgotten by the One who placed them there in the first place.  

Month (November) after month (December) after month (January) signs of fertility made themselves known again.  Things that haven't happened in years began again.  And while I couldn't make sense of it all, I did know for sure that this was the beginning of something huge. All I could do?  was trust.

And here was February, and I was just expecting her to make her little monthly appearance. Pregnancy test day came, and not to my surprise, it was just as I expected - negative. No big deal.

So I was at home, one day after that negative test, thinking that I'm dying from a possible ruptured ovarian cyst that just so conveniently accompanied February's red reminder.  (I've struggled with these things in the past, so I was pretty certain I knew what I was dealing with.)  
It was pain-to-the-FULL, though.  
It was UGLY: husband has to rush home from work, poor kiddo is traumatized because mommy was crying in the bathroom.... 
I knew something just wasn't right.  
My doctor was able to get me in the next day (stupid waiting), but I decided that was okay since I knew I was going to avoid a trip to the ER at all cost.  
I made it through the night, but not without the worry increasing as I was having to change my clothes every 2-4 hours (more details I'll leave out). 

Finally my appointment time came, and off I went by myself to *insert air quotes here* "just have the doc confirm that it's just a cyst, or a ruptured cyst, here's a prescription for some pain meds, get some rest, and I'll feel better tomorrow..."

An examination and ultrasound later, I felt like I was floating in mid-air, looking down at my poor pitiful self, as I tried my best to explain to my doctor that I just took a pregnancy test 3 days ago that was very clearly negative.  
How in the world does that make sense?  
And how in the world can it be fair that this is practically over with before I really even KNEW about it?!  
But to her, my doctor, it did make sense.
It made sense as she was doing the ultrasound, pointing out the proof of the signs that there definitely had been life inside.
And it made sense to my sad little heart as I remembered back to October.  
The pain of the past day and a half?  the bleeding?   and the worry?  It wasn't over a cyst.

I walked out of the exam room with a 'prenatal workup' sheet in my hand, and orders to immediately head across town to have my blood drawn to officially confirm the presence of pregnancy, and proof of conception.  
"The results should come within 48-72 hours," she said.

And that they did...confirming everything.  Conception happened. HCG at "positive" levels. But it was over pretty much the moment it began.

Am I sad?  Gosh.  Beyond.  
And I wouldn't even know where to begin to accurately describe how I feel.

But that call I received this morning didn't only confirm a miscarriage.  No.  
The miracle goes beyond the feelings of loss - and might I add:  no matter how early on the loss took place.

My whole world just swells at the thought of knowing that I got pregnant.  Pregnant.
My heart is rejoicing in knowing that we've now moved from what seemed impossible to now seeing with our own eyes that it is, indeed, very possible.
We work.  Our bodies work.  Thanks be to God.
And while it may not be the outcome that we have prayed and hoped for for so many years, God has still proven Himself Faithful as ever.  And Powerful.  And very much in control here.

So?  I don't know much else than that.  But we're glad to continue down the road that's been set before us.  It definitely has not been easy, but to see the miracles we've been given, and to wonder what is in store for us next, we'll keep trusting.  It's all we can do.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year...

There's a new year hovering.  And lots of new things, seasons, revelations, ups, and downs are hovering, too.  It's been on my mind a lot lately.  It's weighed heavily on my heart.  I guess because I'm ready for it.  I'm just ready.  That's all there is to it.

2013 has been a good year. It's also been a tough year.  But new is coming, and new is good to me.

Even with all of it's hard moments, though, I would like to end 2013 seeing the good, and even seeing the good in the bad...
"For today will bring tomorrow, and the once familiar sorrow will turn and testify to yesterday..." -Andrew Ehrenzeller

Selah officially became a toddler, in every sense of the word.  It's been my most challenging parenting year so far.  But still, nothing can prepare you for the joys of raising a child, because Lord knows there are so many.  It's been a beautiful thing to watch her grow, learn, and explore.  Her personality is one of my favorite things in life, and I praise Jesus for trusting me to be 'Momma' to such a joy-FULL little girl.

I can't help but see the beauty and healing it's brought to my life to watch this child - who I did not give birth to - grow into a little human that is so much like me in many ways.  I take it as God's sweet way of showing me that I'm not missing out on anything, although I feel like the world tries to tell me that I am sometimes.
"You've never felt those kicks and hiccups from within?  I'm so sorry," says the world.
"You've never felt those kicks and hiccups from within.  That's only a little part of it," says The Lord.

And somehow, that brings me comfort.

I do look forward to easier days as a mom.  And as a mom who still longs.  But I look forward with the hope and faith that where God has provided so many times before, He is faithful to provide again.  Easier days are coming, but I don't want to miss out on the now, either.  And I don't want to miss out on the miracle of what I have right now because I can't take my eyes off of a miracle that I don't have right now.
Of course there is joy in the easy days.  But Dear Lord in Heaven above, I know there is joy in the hard days, too:  in the sickness, the constant discipline, 2-year-old independence, cabin fever, teething, extreme volume, constant mess, and Daniel Tiger reruns.  I'm learning quickly, on this journey of being a parent, that 'a year' might sound like a long time, but it goes by faster and faster every 365 days.  I'm heeding those warnings from nearly every passer-by who tells me to cherish it...  because I'm watching my baby girl grow up right before my very eyes.
And soon, she's not going to need me to take care of her anymore.  
She's not going to want me to comfort her when she doesn't feel good.  
I'm not going to be able to twirl her beautiful curls everyday, 
and dress her up, 
and listen to her tell me how glad she is at the end of every day.  
And I am going to miss it with every ounce of my being.  
I love her so much.

So when I think of her and the fact that tomorrow will be January 1, 2014, I just look forward to another year spent being her momma.  I just want to slow things down even more, and really soak the moments with her up.  And the biggest thing?
Hear me out:  
I want to still give thanks for the redemption that is adoption, but I kind of want to talk a little less about it.  I just want to celebrate the fact that she is my daughter, not my adopted daughter.  I want to use 2014 to really nurture this to become HER story to tell.  Maybe that doesn't make much sense to whoever is reading this, but I've felt it on my heart that 
the more we hear ourselves, and the more our kids hear us speak the word "adoption", they begin to feel like the adopted one first, and a son/daughter second.  
And I just want her to feel like my daughter.  Period.  Because that's who she is.  She's not, and will never be my adopted daughter.
We will always be adoption advocates.  But I don't want our journey to become "us", if you know what I mean.  I just want "us" to be family...Not "the family who adopted".

So here's to making it through, successfully, another year of being a mom...and looking ahead to another year of fun, love, and transformation with the beautiful girl who makes me a mom.

Oh and let's not forget the cancer.  2013 had to end itself with a doozie.  It's something I don't speak publicly about very often, because a daughter who has been without her daddy for the latter portion of her adult years has a hard time talking about it while she's trying so hard to choke the anger down.  But anger doesn't respect time.  And at some point, we all face something that shakes us to life again... Something that says, "let it go, and just love...before it's too late."

That came for me in October when my Dad was hospitalized for Pneumonia.  No big deal, right?  That's what we thought, too, until doctors decided to drop the bomb that there was a very large mass leading into one of his lungs.  Everything happened so fast - tests, biopsies, pathology reports, consultations, PET scans - and before we knew it, we were hearing the awful words:

Malignant. Carcinoid. Limited Stage. Inoperable.

And before I knew it, I was faced with more than just a bummer cancer diagnosis.  I was faced with a decision:  
Do I hang onto to every missed birthday and every hurt feeling?  
Or do I extend the grace and forgiveness that I've been given, and step up to the plate and be the daughter he needs me to be?

I chose the latter.  Not because I'm a saint or hero.  But because it's the right thing to do.  It's what forgiveness does.  It's what love does.  It's what family does.

So the past two months I have been by his side for every appointment and every treatment, which by the way, has consisted of a super aggressive regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.  And it has not been easy in the slightest.  I've watched it wreak havoc on finances, day-to-day health, physical strength, and emotions.  And as a child, it's one of the toughest experiences I've gone through yet watching my Dad fight cancer.

Cancer is nasty.
It destroys, and tosses and turns everything around.
It scatters and makes chaos.
It drains, scares, and scars.
It just takes.  and takes.  and takes.
It forces grown, competent, intelligent men with lifelong ox-like strength to their knees at the sound of what they're about to face for care and treatment.
It threatens to steal manly pride at the possibility of needing a spouse or children to provide when he's always been a provider.  
Cancer curses.
And lies... and preys.
And it often captures the faith and hope of souls.  souls who see each and every evil spot that appear on screens, and in the hands and pointed fingers of doctors who bear the news.
It comes to kill.
And it brings with it darkness.

But the fight and the will of the one fighting is stronger than any of that.  So much stronger.  THAT is what I've seen.  And it's made me proud to be by his side.
And you know?  The fight isn't over.  He's winning.  That's what we believe.

And still, even with all of it's nastiness that cancer has brought, we've been blessed.  


Before the diagnosis in November, I hadn't seen my dad since the previous Christmas.  Not once.  Hadn't even spoken.  It was like a cancer, honestly... the anger that was festering.  But through all of this, I've been blessed to spend more time with him than I have in years before.  Not under the best circumstances, granted, but circumstances don't matter when you're loving life and people through the eyes of Jesus.  The circumstances don't matter one bit.  It's time together.  And it's been beautiful.  And it's healed more than any uttered "I'm sorry" could heal.

I don't ever look forward to his next round of treatment, but I do always look forward to seeing him through his next round.  I look forward to the victory he's gaining through this fight.  
And I look forward to the next memory we'll make, 
the next conversation we'll have, 
the next cup of coffee I'll grab for him, 
and the next meal I get to make for him... 
because honestly, it's time together that I'm not so sure we would have had if there had been no cancer.

So when I think of him, and the fact that tomorrow will be January 1, 2014, I look forward to watching him defeat this disease.  And I look forward to the closeness our relationship will have gained through it.  And no matter what the outcome, we'll both cherish the time we have had together, I know.


2013, as great as it was, has often times left me feeling very alone in the friendship department.  I have friends, and some really great ones at that, but unfortunately I have to admit that the majority of those friendships exist primarily on Facebook, or even more sadly, behind the screen of my phone.  Text messaging.  
I hate that that's what it's come to.  And I hate that I've been so okay with it for so long.  It's not the way it's supposed to be.  But alas, there are reasons why.  Life is just crazy.  There's not enough time in the day.  Hardships.  Reasons.  But all the more reason to need each other, right?

Jeremy and I went to dinner recently with another couple - something extremely rare for us - and when we left, I couldn't help but feel emotional.  It just meant that much.  I felt it that deeply... that someone else could sit across from us and say so vulnerably, "There's no agenda here. We just need friends..."   And I nearly lost it in that moment over my bowl of chicken tortilla soup, because the desire? the longing?  is that so do we.  Dear Jesus, so do we.

It's a daily struggle for me to lay down the thought that I'm only a good "seasonal friend".  Good for a season, but then people move on.  Good for when there are really good things happening, or good for when there are really awful things happening.  But not for those seasons when there's really not a whole lot going on.  
That's the way it's always been.  And my heart's been broken time and time again after watching the distance creep it's way in, until both parties just don't feel like it's worth it anymore.

But I declare, and I desperately pray that 2014 will be different.  It is going to be the year of friendship.  Real, intimate, close friendship.  
The doors of my home will be open, and there will be room at my dining room table for those like me who just need people to enjoy this life with...people like me who just need friends to share the ups and the downs with... For goodness sake... people like me who just need a friend to do the mundane with.
Not in a "women's-bible-study-once-a-month-meeting" kind of way.  
But rather, a "my-life-is-an-absolute-mess-and-use-your-key-and-just-come-on-in-and-help-me-put-the-pieces-back-together" kind of way.  
Everyday friends.
Less texting.
Less Facebook.
And more face-to-face.
Much more.
So that security in having a confidant can be built.
So that a sense of belonging can envelope.
So that things can be shared.  Blessings can be shared.  Burdens can be shared.
And loneliness can be a thing of the past.

So when I think of the new depths for friendship, and the fact that January 1, 2014 will happen in just 10 short minutes, I look forward to the richness life is about to gain.  I look forward to living life with others in a deeper, more intentional way.  It's time for life-long friends.


Welcome, new year.  It really is going to be a happy one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weird questions...


  1. Lately, I've been presented with some perplexing questions. *Which has prompted this.* And if you know me at all, I'm not particularly quick on my feet in the response department. I get nervous with people, and nervous with vulnerability, and it takes me time to really figure out how to say what I really want to say.  More often than not, I walk away from a conversation with those regretful feelings of what I should've said.  And it stinks. Because sometimes, hard honest questions deserve a hard, honest answer... And while I do have that honest ability in me, I'm just not that eloquent, well-spoken person who can make your knees buckle when you talk to them.. the kind of person who can produce in you a heart-gripping response because of the depth and beauty of what comes out of their mouth upon the question mark leaving your questioning lips.
  2. Every once in a while, though, you'll ask me about something I'm super passionate about... And with that, I can respond with a ferocity that has been brewing for as long as the topic at hand has been on my heart.  
  3. Phrasing is important.  And it is my humble opinion that we should practice being more aware of the way we phrase things.  You'll see why in a minute.
  4. If you are a man, and a stranger to her, don't follow a young lady out of a building late at night to ask her a personal question.  She might be holding her keys all Edward Scissor-Hands style behind her back.  

 With that being said...

One of the top questions I'm presented with regarding our adoption?  
"When are you gonna have kids of your own?"
*Hold on. Pause. Bow your head with me*... Forgive them, Father, for they don't know what the heck they're saying.
Ok.  Un-pause.  Why do so many people say this?!  Excuse me?  "Kids of my own"?  Last time I checked, she calls me 'mom', she calls my husband 'dad'.  She has our last name.  She is my own.  That's all she will ever be.  But I know what you meant.  What you MEANT to say was, "When are you gonna have BIOLOGICAL children?"  So why don't we start saying that instead?  Because the literal meaning of they way you phrased your question suggests that biology means more.  And it doesn't.  Phrasing people, watch your phrasing!  Because when my kid is five, and she's sitting in the grocery cart when you pop off at the mouth with your poor choice of words, I'm gonna let you explain to her that you really didn't mean it that way.  And believe me, that's not a conversation you want to have to have with a child.  K?  Thanks.

And while we're on it, let's throw in some other examples.  We'll just call this segment
Adoption Conversation Etiquette

  • "Where did you get him/her from?"
Again with the phrasing, people.  It's just not an appropriate way to ask.  If the parents haven't already specified, and it is that important to you, try it this way:  "Did you adopt domestically or internationally?"  Nine times out of ten, the parent(s) answer will tell you everything you need to know.  But phrasing it inappropriately just sounds like you think it's the equivalent to buying a pet or something.

  • "Are you gonna tell them they are adopted?"
First of all, that is none of your business.  Second of all, I genuinely hope and pray that we are moving away from this secretive type of handling of adoption.  And what I'm learning from raising my little girl, is that it is less about having this one huge moment of sitting her down to drop the adoption bomb on her when my husband and I deem right, and way more about raising her up with the knowledge of 

1.) who she is in Christ
2.) where and who she comes from
3.) her story, and encouraging her to take ownership of that.
It is NOT something to be ashamed of, and it does NOT define her.  

  • "How much did you pay for her?"
Umm, again with the ignorant phrasing.  You should know better.  But also, unless you're asking because
1.) You are seriously inquiring for the sake of beginning your own adoption process, or
2.) You need to know how much to make a check out for...

I'm not going to entertain your question.  It's a done deal.


Which leads me to part B of the question above.
WHEN am I gonna have biological children?

Man, as many times as I've been asked this, I'd have to be imprisoned if I let anger get the best of me each time someone posed this question during a moment of pregnancy-desperation!  It happens
A. LOT.  
I mean, the question begins with "When?" As if it's assumed that we're just like holding out or something.  Is that what people think?  Oh man! I wish! 

But the answer doesn't change:  I. DO. NOT. KNOW.  
Then I get the same sympathetic look of sadness and a quiet, "Aww."  
And look.  It's sweet.  Thank God that people care.  The fact is, I'd LOVE to find out today that I'm pregnant.  But after almost five years of 
....I have come to one conclusion...

God is good.
And even if I never see a positive pregnancy test while I'm here on this earth?
God is still good.
I am blessed. 
And I will wait on Him as long as it takes.
And I trust Him with this.

"...If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.  He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." 
Daniel 3:17-18

I know what God is capable of.  I know what He can do.  And we believe that He will.  But even if He doesn't.  In the event that He doesn't.  EVEN IF...  It doesn't change the sovereignty of WHO HE IS.  It doesn't change the POWER of who He is in our lives.  And it doesn't change our want to pursue Him for who He is, and not for what He can give us.  It's His story, here.  Not mine.  Not my husband's.  Not my womb's story.  Not infertility's story.  
The Lord's story.  Blessed be His name.


And in regards to the stranger man running after the young girl?  That did happen.  This past Thursday night as I was leaving church.  And really, I don't mean to throw him under the bus, because although it creeped me out at first, he really was a nice guy with a genuine question... But I held my keys tightly, because you just never know.  And I highly doubt he will read this, but in the event that he does, I do offer a slight apology:  for stereotyping/profiling, and for slowly inching my way to my vehicle as I vaguely answered your question.  Sorry sir.

So yeah, it was a Thursday night, and I had just finished leading worship with some of my friends, and it had been a powerful night.  So this guy comes after me out in the parking lot, and he says,
"I really enjoyed tonight.  Thank you.  You seem really sincere when you worship."
I wasn't sure exactly how to take that, other than to just say, "Aww, thanks!"  After all, I do try to always be sincere in it.  No one wants a worship leader who is putting on an act!

"If you don't mind me asking, is there something you're seeking when you're worshipping?" he asked.
"I'm not sure I understand. Are you asking if me seeking something is the reason/basis for my worship?   Aren't we all seeking something?" I replied.
"Well, I mean, is there something you're after?" He asked back.
At this point, we were lingering, it was cold, I wanted to get home so I could tuck my baby in for bedtime.

"Yeah.  I'm after a lot.  I'm after the heart of God.  I'm after his voice, guidance, and seeking His will for my life.  I'm seeking healing for myself, and for people in my life.  But if you're asking if that is WHY I worship?  Then the answer is no.  I worship God because He is worthy of that.  Because I was created, by Him, to worship Him.  I worship Him because it's the only thing that makes sense to me when nothing else does.  It puts me back in the rightly position of 'little person in the light and presence of a mighty King. A Savior.  A creator.  Sovereign. Holy.' And I am none of that.  So I worship the One who is.... Was that your question?"

"Yep.  Awesome.  Have a good night," he said.  And he walked away.  

And on the way home, I found myself confused... and kind of offended.  Like how dare he question my motives?  He doesn't know me! And he even said I seem sincere!  Am I missing something here??  *I even added a couple finger snaps and eye rolls in there.*  I even told my husband when I got home, "You are NOT going to believe this guy! Ugh!"  And I held onto that pestered feeling for a few days.  

But like He always gently does, God swooped in yet again, and turned my finger, and pointed it directly at me.  That guy and his questions, my answers?  They weren't for him.  They were for me.

It's been a rough time lately for my family.  There's been cancer, and financial struggles, and car troubles, and house issues, and parenting struggles, and loneliness, and school, and lots of work, and sickness, and more... And in that, it is way too easy to forget the real reason for why I get behind that microphone and sing my heart out.  
Going through so much trial, sometimes it's all we can see.  And we go and we do our thing, and we tell ourselves that our hearts are right, but then God sends a messenger...and the messenger asks "really annoying questions"...and then we give our answers, and we realize that God is speaking.  And we're just frustrated because we don't want to admit that we've got it all wrong.  But He's lovingly reminding us to reposition. To get back to the real heart of it.  To stop making it about this "ask and receive" event.  
Because yes, He wants to give. He DOES give.  But that's not what worshipping Him is about.  And as soon as it becomes about that, we've stepped out of line...turning the focus on ourselves, worshipping ourselves...worshipping our circumstances...

He is more.  So much more than that.  And I'm not so annoyed by that strange man anymore.  Thankful, actually.
I'll take that reminder.  Daily if necessary.
He is God.  Sovereign and Holy.  And I am but a little person in the light and presence of a Mighty King.


Thursday, July 25, 2013


I woke up this morning in a pair of jeans and a chiffon top not meant to be worn as pajamas. My first thoughts -  

So annoyed as I turned over to a house cluttered with disaster due to our current home renovation, 

and an aching body trying to remind me of how much work we've put in, and how much we still have left to go. 

But then a little bell jingled as a result of my movement from underneath the covers, and when I pulled them back, I spotted her little Minnie Mouse baby. Apparently Minnie got left behind when the kid was transferred back to her bed at some point in the wee hours of this morning. And in an instant, my mind was flooded with memories of how last night panned out:

The storm was rolling in at her bedtime while I sat on the couch praying that by some miracle, she would fall asleep anyway. I needed a break... from her. From her energy. Her rolling eyes. Her persistence. Her disobedience for the day. I was too exhausted, and the clock struck 10, and I breathed a sigh of relief that it was bedtime. And the day was finally over... Or was it?

With one loud clap of lightning, and the opening of the clouds, her desperate screams reminded me that the night was still young. And my youngin' was scared.  So back into her room I went, head strong and determined to give her a motherly talk to assure her that she was not getting out of bed.  (Not fooling me, kiddo! No way!)

One flick of the light-switch was all it took to melt away my determination, and I was suddenly face to face with a baby who needed her momma.

Her heart was racing, and she was crying with a strength that took her breath away. She could no longer find her words to tell me what was wrong.. but she didn't need to since my heart knew already. I picked her up and instantly felt the calm start to take over, and she buried her sweaty little face in my chest. Back to the couch we went, with her bear and Minnie in tow. (Bear and Minnie always make things better).

We sat there for a while -her head glued to my chest- and I could hear her whisper the words every few minutes: "tun-der" is "sca-wy".

As the storm rolled on, and we moved to momma and daddy's bed, I recalled my childhood tactics that always made me feel better during scary times:

I talked my baby through, and demonstrated how to lift the covers over the head when she felt scared, and she laughed and showed me that she understood. I let her rest there, and still very much longing for my break, I told her I would be right around the corner (back on the couch) if she needed me. 
And as I began my trek towards the door, the fear crept back in and she let out more screams as the tears flooded her eyes. It was still there - she needed me.

Back to the bed I went, but on the inside I pleaded for God to give me the wisdom I clearly needed of how to handle this situation. 

Was she manipulating me? Did she know how BADLY I needed some time for myself??
And although I'm not one who has ever audibly heard the voice of God, I knew very well that He answered my mindless little prayer, and He granted me the wisdom to see what my child NEEDED in that moment.

"Comfort her, Jess. Your baby needs you. She's not manipulating you. She's not taking advantage of you. She's a baby. Scared. And in need of her momma. And you know what?? Opportunities like this are fleeting. Every single day, fleeting. YOU take advantage..of the cuddles, the conversations, and the ability to meet her where she is at right now. And that break you need? I'll give it to you. I am faithful even in the little things."

So as I listened to that still, small voice on the inside, I laid on the edge of my bed, looked my child in the eyes, and got to tell her all about my plans to protect her, and be there for her..always. I choked back tears as I had a very intimate moment with the little girl GIVEN to me, entrusted to me for our lifetime on this earth.  Even at 22 months old, I could tell her heart needed to hear me promise that I will never abandon her. Then we laid there in the dark and said "tun-der" 257 times until we fell asleep.

This morning, she's the reason for the sleeping in jeans and chiffon tops. And while the facts still remain that yes, I'm still tired, and my house is still a disaster, and I'm not sure when my body will stop aching... Memories of her melt away the annoyance and complaint. She made me feel like a mom all over again last night... All because she needed me. Wanted me. And she trusted in my ability to comfort and ease her fear. And I'll take that refreshment to my soul over a small break on the couch for now :).

I'm still very much looking forward to a break in the near future.  A pedicure or massage sure would be nice (a message for my husband if he's reading this...).  But the way my heart feels today, after our bedtime moments last night, I'm also very much looking forward to our next big "tun-der"storm :) 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Long time, no blog...

I realized a few days ago that it's been five months since I last typed anything here.  FIVE months.  That's a long absence for a blogger...or rather an amateur like myself.  Much has happened in that time.  I've just really been enjoying life, learning to be present for my husband and daughter.  Too much has happened to even be able to type it all out.  And I can't count the number of times I've been in a moment where the thought crossed my mind, "...this would make a great post..."  Needless to say, I've wanted, and I've searched for time to sit down and empty my thoughts, but like I've experienced before, the time just hasn't been right.

So I've come to a place where I realize that it's better for me to take a step back - To let these mumbled, jumbled thoughts mature into what they're meant for... And to let God reveal His purpose(s) in mine and my family's life before I try and make sense of every little detail, question, and confusion here in this online abyss.

As I go back and read past posts, I remember how important this space has been to me over the past four years.  I reread the story of a very young, very scared, and newlywed girl, struggling to trust a very BIG God with her lifelong dream.  And I reread all about how angry, and misguided, and entitled she felt over something that was never really hers to begin with.  But then I reread the turning points, too... How God stretched me, and grew me, and stripped everything away so that all I could see or want had no choice but to align with Heavenly plans for my life.  And I reread all about the provision that was given as I learned for the first time the REAL truth about the God I believe in... And then all about the miracle I had no idea about; the miracle that reshaped my faith, and taught me the goodness of God.  I'm so thankful for this story that has been written for me.  I'm thankful, too, that God's not finished writing it yet.  It's been a long, hard road.. But I wouldn't be who I am today, and my faith wouldn't still be growing like it is, if God wouldn't allow me to be in such a constant place of dependency on Him.

And with that said, I think it's just time for me to put this blog on hold.  I feel it like I did before, and then IT happened... and I don't know what it all means right now.  I know God is doing big things in my life; He's grown new passions, and began leading our family in a direction that was SO far off my radar even just a year ago.  And when I think about the possibilities...I don't even know what to do with myself.

So here we go again.  Just gonna take a break for now, and come back to share more when the words are ready.  Just gonna leave it at that.  It's bittersweet, for sure.

"Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise.  In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.  He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.  And because of Abraham's faith, God counted him as righteous.  And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn't just for Abraham's benefit.  It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." 
- Romans 4:20-24 NLT

"For who can know the Lord's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?  For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.  All glory to him forever! Amen." - Romans 11:34-36 NLT

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What I didn't know...

It's been months since I have last been able to sit down and pour my heart out over a keyboard. Being a parent is HARD.  Being an adoptive parent?  REAL hard.  And it's not that I elevate my life of parenting above others, because I truly believe that regardless of how you become a parent, or who you parent, it's one of life's biggest challenges.  Each experience is different, and unique in it's difficulties, and in it's victories.  But I only have my story to tell, and I am one that HATES the comparison game, so today I had to make a conscious effort to lay my comparisons down, shed the "tough skin" that disables me from being vulnerable, and instead, embrace it all:  the milestones, the setbacks, the joy, the sadness, the humor, and anger, strengths, weaknesses, victories, and even the failures... Every single one of them that all add up to make one heck of a past 15 months.. a very bittersweet 15 months.

I have never known exhaustion like this. ever. in. my. life.  She is a talker, this child of mine. And she doesn't even say very many words yet.  She knows what she means, we're just trying to learn her ways and interpret this newfound language.  She has more attitude and sass than her two and a half foot frame can handle.  She started walking 2 months ago, and I'm pretty sure she learned to run two seconds later.  She's fast.  She's hungry.  She is LOUD.  And she hates to sit still.  Hates it.  Her will is so strong, that there are days when I feel like my will as a parent can't even compete.  So I relax a little too much and let her push me a little farther than I'd like, so the next day we are set back quite a few steps in the obedience department.  She is rough.  And heavy.  She gives me bruises.  So so messy.  And she likes to steal my food, but doesn't ever want to share hers.

Then there's the sickness.  Selah is only 15 months old, but I feel like she has been sick for half of those.  It has gone down like this:
2 months old: first cold
4 months old:  first stomach bug
6 months old: another cold
8 months: ear infections
9 months: respiratory infection
10 months: more ear infections
11 months: more ear infections + surgery for tubes in the ears; major stomach bug (that both me and my husband caught)
13 months:  UTI
15 months:  stomach bug (minus any puking), ear infection, fever

Whew.  The poor girl.  She's had a rough time.  And as her mom, I've had a rough time taking care of her.  I feel like this amount of sickness has bred this major fear in me that every time I go into her room to get her out of bed, that I'm gonna get blindsided by some other ailment.  I've been desperately looking forward to this long stretch (that at this point seems imaginary) of good health.  Don't get me wrong, though.  I count my blessings and the fact that these sicknesses are minor in the grand scheme of things.  But it hasn't been easy.  She's had her fair share (and a lot of other babies fair shares) of antibiotics, and I pray every single day that her little body would be granted some insanely beautiful immune system boost.  I feel like I look to the sky just about every day, reminding God that we could use a little break.  "Hey there Lord, are you listening??"

I waited and waited for years to be a mom.  I struggled to wrap my head around how it can be so easy for so many families to get pregnant.  I accepted the word "waiting", and got used to the thought that I would do a lot of it before God revealed His plan for this adoption journey.  Then it happened.  In three days it happened.  And it was a whirlwind.  Then I spent months waiting for it to sink in that this is real.  Here at 15 months,
I feel like it's sinking in.  
I feel like that whirlwind is catching up to me.
Some days feel like they're spiraling out of control.
Some days I feel like I cannot do this.
It's too hard.
I'm too tired.

She's here, she's staying, I am Mom.

But after I do my crying and pick myself back up off the floor, I realize that it's gonna be okay.  

After we get through another daunting week of sickness and I see good health begin returning to my little girl's body, I remember that God is near, and I am able to see how He answered even our smallest of prayers to make our baby well again.

After I make yet another parenting mistake...
After I lose my temper...
When I wish the day away...
When I let a circumstance blind me to blessings...
If I feel frozen in my fears...
When I miss the past...
As I long for some quiet...
And when I feel like I've had just about all I can take...

This little brown-eyed-girl walks up to me, wraps her chunky little arms around my neck, and whispers through a toothy smile, "I wuv tu".  And I decide, with tear-filled eyes and a thankful heart, that I can do this again tomorrow.  Being a mom might be HARD, but it's not TOO hard. Because our God swoops in, and He fills us with just enough of whatever we need to get through the day.  We may have a couple bad days here and there, and the months may seem like they've been overshadowed by infirmity, but the Blessings are bigger.  God is Greater.  Grace is Stronger.  God, give me your eyes to see it.

At this point, I'm good with just her.  Maybe God has a different plan for later on, and He will reveal it when He is ready.  But this little stinker is it for now.  She's exactly what I need, and everything I want in a child.  She makes life exciting, to say the least.  If someone were to ask me what makes me happiest, what scares me, frustrates me, makes me laugh the hardest, and exhausts me all at the same time?  This thing right here.  My little love :)

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One year...of LIFE.

Selah, My love,

You are one today.  An entire year old :)  Where has our year together gone?  I still remember your limp little body resting in my arms when we brought you home from the hospital.  I can still feel your tiny little breaths on my cheek for all the hours I held you so close.  I remember the way you whimpered when you were hungry, your plump little lips searching for your bottle, then settling on shoving your little fist in your mouth.  Those days are long gone, sweet girl, and have been replaced with toddling, uneasy first steps... and words like "nom nom nom" to tell us you are hungry... The curliest little afro tops your big round head, and we spend a lot of time teaching and disciplining.  You are strong, Selah, and very strong willed.  But your soul is precious as ever, and you love like no other.  I tuck all those memories away, hiding them in my heart, and I get to pause and reflect - just as the meaning of your name commands - on all the goodness that came to this life because you were born.

As much as your Dad and I have taught you over the past year, Selah, you have taught us more.  No amount of "John-Jacob-Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt"s, or where your eyes/ears/nose/hair/mouth are, compare to the depth of meaning you've brought to our lives.  You have awakened us to life, daughter, and what it means to feel.. and be present... that it's okay to mess up and still see restoration and victory.. to make memories and recognize their weight of importance... You've led us back to God, and it's because of you that Daddy and I are more in love with Him than we've ever known... You have brought us absolute joy.

Mom and Dad are not perfect, Selah, and I speak for the both of us when I say we are thankful for your resilience.  You don't care that we've never done this before.  You don't care we parent you through trial and error...a LOT.  You just flash us your charming smile, and bounce right back.  You are amazing.  It's so much fun to love you, and teach you, and nurture you.

The most honest parts of me cannot help but admit that I was a bit afraid of whether it would ever be possible to feel like I am your Mom.  I wondered if the "adoption feeling" would ever disappear.  Man, did it ever!  And you know why?  Because true love sees beyond DNA.  And that true love is God, Selah.  His love for you, and Mommy and Daddy, is so much bigger than this whole adoption thing.  His love covers all circumstances, and makes the bigger picture clear.  It doesn't matter that you didn't grow in my belly.  And it doesn't matter that you don't look like us.  Because from the moment you were created, God had our family figured out already.  He knew how much we would love you.  And love you we do, baby girl.  We love you like you are our own, because you ARE our own.  And that will never ever ever change.

You, my baby girl, make life richer.  There is not one single thing that your Dad and I would take back, do over, or wish differently.  You make us better and fill our hearts to overflowing.  Before you, we only THOUGHT we were living.  And now with you, we can't help ourselves.

I can't believe it's been one year already.  But it has, and what a year it has been!  It's been one whole year of truly living.  And it's all thanks to God, and YOU.  It's an absolute joy and honor to be your Mom, Selah.  I love you so much.  Happy birthday!