Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beauty from Ashes

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me,
because the LORD has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and freedom to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of our God's vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
    And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the LORD,
to glorify Him.

Isaiah 61:1-3

When I wrote about Our Story, I mentioned how I felt that through the adoption process, the Lord had given us beauty for ashes; that He had taken my life - a life of hurt and bitterness over not having biological children - and gifted us with the beauty of adoption.

When we received our referral, and heard Lottie's story, I felt like He had also given her beauty for ashes.

I've known from the very beginning that we would likely grieve for her birthmother.  I cried for an entire weekend when my sister and her husband were chosen by a birthmother.  And not happy tears (although I was INCREDIBLY happy!), but tears for the loss everyone would experience; tears over things that result from living in a fallen and sinful world.  And so I fully expected to be sad about our child's story.  I expected to cry over what was lost.

What I didn't expect was that post-referral grief would involve all of the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  The first 6-ish days after the referral were a high - I lived on adrenaline.  So it was natural that a crash would follow.  As the adrenaline began to wear off, Lottie's story really began to sink in.  I began thinking about her birthmother A LOT.  There is one particular detail of her story that I REALLY struggle with.   And it was that detail that led me to denial.  Denial that adoption should even be necessary.  And denial led to bargaining.  If we did this or that, maybe somehow we could right the wrong.  And anger.  How could this happen and why didn't anyone do anything about it?  Depression.  Overwhelming sadness over it all.  Really.  I was a mess.  But ultimately, Acceptance.  I HATE that things happened the way they did.  Hate.  It.  But that doesn't change that what happened, happened.  Things happened the way they did for a reason.  And I can't actually change that.  And in the end, the Lord has given us all beauty for ashes.

I guess there are a lot of aspects of adoption that are sunshine and rainbows.  There really is beauty.  But there wouldn't be beauty if there weren't ashes.  I say that for the benefit of the people who read this blog who will one day go through the same thing.  And I say that for the benefit of friends and family who read this blog to find out how we're doing.  It's always been my goal to paint an honest picture of our adoption journey, so I can't stop now.

At this point, the adrenaline has worn off and I've (mostly) recovered from the crash and emotional exhaustion of grieving.  I am once again joyful about our adoption, and cannot WAIT to bring Lottie home.  Please pray that the Lord would grant us favor in both the court and Embassy process and that we would be able to bring her home by her first birthday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

April 2011

7 months ago, our daughter was born on the other side of the world.  This is my journal entry from that day...

Lord, there's so much on my heart.  The roller coaster ride of MOWA's processing times continues, and it's hard.  It's hard to understand why, it's hard to know what to believe, and it's hard to face an especially uncertain future.  And I'm so tempted to throw myself even more into things that distract me - cake decorating, sewing, projects around the house - whatever it takes to make the time go quickly so I'm not so acutely aware of every day that passes that our baby isn't home.  But Lord, Your Holy Spirit reminds me that distractions won't give me peace - only You can truly give me peace.  And so I run to You, Lord.  I run to You asking that You would help me to accept every second of Your will as being for my good and Your glory.  Lord, I don't need to understand why this is happening, I just need renewed trust that You're here, and You're working, and that this is part of Your re-defining what motherhood looks like for me.  And that's the hard part:  I want to know right now what that's going to look like so I can plan.  But I hear what You're saying, Lord.  You're asking me to daily put my trust in You.  Lord, my heart is fighting it today.  I confess my unbelief, and my self-sufficiency and my lack of trust.  I confess my idolatry of a certain way of life.  Lord, continue to reveal to me my sin, but of these that I have confessed, help me repent.  Help me turn from them and RUN to You.

Lord, I am more and more bothered by my weight, what I am eating and my lack of exercise.  And yesterday it occurred to me that I may have more of a food addiction that I've ever wanted to admit.  But when I try to think through it, my mind gets cloudy and the thoughts vanish.  I pray, Lord, that those thoughts wouldn't be quickly snatched away, but You would help me struggle through them.  Lord, if/where I have developed a dependence on food and/or laziness, I pray that You would reveal that to me.  Please, Lord, show me what I've turned a blind eye to.  I don't want to be consumed by diet and exercise, but I do want to be consumed with pursuing You over everything else - whether food or motherhood. 

Lord, I'm thankful for the situations in my life that cause me to run to You.  "For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Update: The Lord was gracious to begin to pull me out of my dependence on food and laziness.  As of today, I have lost 25 pounds...  and I have a daughter.  Bottom line:  life can be hard sometimes (or even all the time), but God is faithful to carry you through if You'll let Him.  And His timing is so, so perfect.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Call

The day started out like the day before Thanksgiving does for lots of people:  Rob's parents were driving in from Mississippi and we had LOTS to do to prepare for their arrival.  My plan was to bake strawberry bread, dark chocolate cheesecake and pecan pie.  And in between try to put up some Christmas decorations (because we would be celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas with them), wrap Christmas presents and straighten the house a bit.  Rob had some errands to run, and he had graciously agreed to help with laundry and cleaning. 

I got up about 8:00 and started making the strawberry bread.  I put it in the oven and sat down to read my Bible, pray and journal.  This is what I wrote yesterday:

Then the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.  Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night?  Will He delay to help them?  I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice.  Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?"  (Luke 18:6-8.  From the Parable of the Persistent Widow found in Luke 18:1-8.  This was in my daily reading yesterday, but has been a constant source of encouragement to me this year.)

Lord, I ask for justice.  I'm so thankful that You've moved in the Ethiopia adoption program to protect children from child trafficking.  But for those who are truly orphans, waiting months and months for someone to approve the adoption doesn't seem just.  Lord, may the details of the P Family, S Family and M Family's cases be wrapped up quickly so that their children can come home.  I know the Gladney homes take good care of babies, but it's just not the same as being in a family.  I look at Elsie and Flynn and see how they're thriving, and I long to see Baby S, Baby I, Baby H, Baby A and Lottie/Levi (our boy name) doing the same. 

Lord, I'm so thankful that You have given me more of Yourself while we've waited, and I know You will continue to be faithful to give us more of You.  And You are enough.  Lord, even if You took everything from me that I hold dear, You would still be enough.  But I know these desires You've given me - for children to be home in their forever families - are desires You WANT me to pray for - You WANT me to ask You for these things - You WANT me to run to You - because You WILL answer.  Lord, I know You will.  You've given me the faith to keep on asking because You WILL respond.  You WILL bring Baby S, Baby I, Baby H, Baby A and Lottie/Levi home soon.  And until they are home, Lord, I won't stop asking.  I will be persistent, just as You have commanded.  And so, even in the midst of this crazy day of preparing for Rob's parents to arrive, I ask that You would send our referral call today.

About the time I finished up my time of prayer and journaling, the strawberry bread was done and it was time to start working on the cheesecake.  I got the crust made and into the oven to bake for 5 minutes and was about to start working on the filling when my phone rang.  An unidentified Fort Worth number, but since we live in Fort Worth, this happens all the time.  I very calmly answered the phone.

Me:  Hello?

Sara:  Rebecca?

Me:  Yes.

Sara:  This is Sara from Gladney.

MeThinking - Is this really it?  Don't get too excited. Hi Sara, how are you?  Be cool.  Act normal.  This probably isn't The Call.

Sara:  I'm good.  I have your referral ready for you.

MeNot really sure what I said.  I'm pretty sure I'd been holding my breath the entire time because I let out a huge breath and said, Really?  OK, um...  Rob's out running errands so I need to call him.  We can call you back in about 30 minutes. 

She asked if I had her number, I was so frazzled I couldn't remember, so she gave it to me.  My hands were shaking so badly, this is what it looked like:

Good thing I did actually have her number in my phone because I'm not sure I would have been able to read that!

I called Rob, but he didn't answer, so I opened up the BEST APP EVER:  "Find Friends" for iPhone.  I pulled up his location and saw that he was at Wal-Mart, so I knew he was close to home.  I called back and fortunately he answered.  I told him he needed to come home, but as he tells it, he knew it wasn't a crisis because I sounded happy.  So he headed home.

At this point in the day I still had on my pj's and hadn't even brushed my teeth.  All I kept thinking was that I had imagined being dressed and cleaned up for the call, but that wasn't going to happen, so I should at least brush my teeth (oh the things that are "important"!).  While I was brushing my teeth, the timer went off for the oven, letting me know that the cheesecake crust was done ("Oh yeah!  I'm in the middle of baking!" I thought).  So, I ran and took the crust out of the oven.

Then I remembered the strawberry bread.  They were still in the pans and needed to come out.  So I flipped them over and they didn't come out.  USUALLY, I would put them back in a warm oven to un-stick them, but not this day!  Nope, I just shook them until they came out of the pans!

"Oh well, who cares?"  I thought.  "We're getting our referral today!!!"

So I set up the laptop and waited a few more minutes for Rob to get home.

He got home and admitted he'd already cried a bit in the car.  I was still shaking. So, we sat down and called Sara back. 

She said she was sending 3 emails and asked if there was anything we wanted to know while we waited for the emails to come.  Rob asked a general question about the referral write-up and while she was answering it, the emails arrived.  I saw the baby's name and thought it was a boy name.  All the time Sara was talking, I was processing that we would have a son.  Then, as she's talking she says something about "her story" and then something about "her paperwork."  I put my hand on Rob's leg and mouthed "HER!"  Then I said to Sara, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear a word you said after "her"!  That's when she told us it was a girl (and I think that she was 7 months old).  A lot of the details after that are pretty fuzzy.  We looked at her pictures and... oh my goodness.  She is GORGEOUS!  She has the most beautiful eyes and smile and hair and skin.  I could go on and on.  One of the things that kept popping up throughout the paperwork is that she smiles a LOT, is very friendly and laughs loudly when you tickle her.  I can't even tell you how much Rob and I love that. 

Once we hung up with Sara, we talked through a few of the details and then got started calling our families.  Because Rob's parents were on the road, we wanted to wait until they got to our house to tell them, so we had to swear everyone to secrecy and NOT post anything on Facebook until they saw that we had posted something.

When Rob's parents got to our house, we told them, celebrated with them a bit, and then told the rest of the world.  We are so blessed with SUCH a supportive community of friends and family.  Thank you for loving us and being as excited as we are! 

We will be keeping our daughter's Ethiopian name as her middle name, and her first name will be Charlotte, or Lottie for short.  Charlotte was my Nana's name and lots of people called her Lottie.  We've loved that name for so long and my Nana held such a special place in my heart, that I couldn't think of anything better to name our daughter. 

So.... What's next?  We wait for a court date.  It will probably be 2-3 months before we can travel to Ethiopia, meet Lottie and go to court.  Then we will come home and wait for an Embassy appointment for a couple of more months.  Lottie's first birthday is April 6 and I am optimistically hoping she will be home for her birthday.

Four years ago, the week of Thanksgiving, we made the decision to adopt.  We told our families on Thanksgiving Day.  It has been a long journey since we first decided to adopt, but the Lord, in His sovereignty, saw fit to bless us with a referral the day before Thanksgiving.  And I can't think of anything in this world to be more thankful for.  We have seen our daughter's face.  And it is a beautiful little face.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


We received our referral today!  And...

It's a GIRL!!!!!

She is 7 months and the cutest little thing you have ever seen!

Today has been the craziest day and I'm still a bit lot frazzled.  When I can put a coherent thought together I'll sit down and write about The Call.

Until then, we are over the moon and having the greatest Thanksgiving ever!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sixteen Months! ...And Let's Play a Little Game

So, today marks 16 months for us on the Wait List.  That's pretty dang exciting because that means that any day now we can be expecting a phone call from our caseworker with our referral!  The crazy thing is that while it could be tomorrow, we might also be waiting till December.  Who knows?! 

So....  here's the game:  Leave a comment below with the date you think we'll get our referral and whether you think it will be a boy or girl.  I'll set up a list over on the sidebar and we'll see if anybody gets it right.  And just to make it a bit more fun, I'll add an incentive - for those of you who live in the continental US (sorry friends in Kenya, Ecuador and England) - I'll bake something for you if you get it right!  How fun is that?!  OK.....  GO!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Little Update and Some Perspective

Our monthly conference call with Gladney was this week, so I thought I'd post a little update.

Based on the official statistics given by Gladney and the unofficial list of waiting families, we think we could receive a referral in November or December.  As we all know, this is subject to change.  And while things are moving s-l-o-w-l-y in Ethiopia, they are actually moving, so that gives us hope.

For those of you who've been praying, I want to thank you.  The Lord used this month's conference call to give me the perspective that I needed to wait patiently and not remain discouraged.

A Gladney mama who recently returned home from Ethiopia with her two children talked about their adoption experience and gave some words of wisdom.  First of all, she talked about the respect she has for Gladney's ethics and how so many people in-country recognize how far ahead of the pack Gladney is in terms of ethical standards in caring for children - not only those who are available for adoption, but those who will never be able to be adopted.  She also noted their high standards in ensuring that children are legitimately orphans and their commitment to not processing adoptions that are questionable.  Even though that's not even remotely the first time I've heard that, I never get tired of hearing confirmation that we picked the right agency.

The other thing she said that has stuck with me all week is that the waiting is hard, but parenting is harder.  She gave some specifics from their current situation, but also likened it to having biological children: when you're pregnant, you can't wait for it to be over because then you'll be comfortable and the baby will be here and you can finally get some sleep - only to realize that you get less sleep and now you have an infant who needs constant attention.  Obviously I know nothing about having a biological baby, but I've seen enough sleep-deprived friends to know it's true. 

And so it just got me thinking about what Mark Driscoll says about functional saviors (The whole thing is really good, but the functional savior part is about 6:30 in.):

For me, the bottom line is that if I can't be at peace now, trusting in the Lord's sovereignty, then no matter what my situation is, I'll never be at peace and be able to trust in Him.  Is waiting hard?  Yes.  Is parenting harder?  Yep.  If a baby is my functional savior during the wait, who or what will become my functional savior once I'm a mama?  It's really a never-ending cycle because no one or nothing satisfies like Jesus because no one and nothing can truly save.  He is the only One who can who can bring true and lasting peace. 

So, once again, to those of you who prayed, thank you!  I was in great need of some perspective and the Lord provided just that.  It's not always easy to trust Him, but it sure beats idolatry any day :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fifteen Months!

I know, I know - I skipped the 14 month post.  We'd been so busy that I just didn't make time for it, and then by the time I actually had time to post something, we were half-way to 15 months, so I had to let it go. 

The update from Gladney at the end of August indicated that we could have a referral in October or November.  Based on what I've seen in September (not much), I'm beginning to doubt we'll see a referral in October.  We'll get an update from Gladney next week, so we'll see how much the projected timeline changes.  As you know by now, trying to pin down a firm timeline has been pretty futile this year, so the ONLY thing that's certain is that NOTHING is certain :-)

I have to say that for the majority of the last several months, I've had great peace about our adoption.  I've been able to see the Lord moving in our lives and in Ethiopia, and been assured that He was at work.  Being able to see that produced great peace and trust.  But can I confess that for the first time in months I've had a hard week?  I've fought discouragement every day.  Despite praying about it and KNOWING that the Lord has been leading me to focus on Him, trust that HE is in control and that He knows what He's doing, I'm still struggling.  So can I ask you for something?  If you know the Lord, would you pray for me?  I just keep praying the prayer of the father who asked Jesus to heal his son who was possessed by a demon, "I believe; help my unbelief!"  (Mark 9:24)

Despite the recent discouragement, everything else is going really well.  We've continued to volunteer at the apartment complex I mentioned a few months ago, and are loving it!  We're doing Bible Study with the kids now and I can't even begin to explain how much I love being able to talk about Jesus in a place that is, at times, incredibly dark.  When Rob & I first started voluteering there, it was just something we thought might be kind of fun or interesting.  I had NO IDEA the plans the Lord had to capture our hearts with the kids and parents in that community.  He has taken me out of my comfortable life and put me in situations that I never would have dreamed of, but I can't imagine life any other way.  I am blessed.

I'm currently reading Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan - partly because I finally read Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God and wanted more - and partly to understand what I thought was the Holy Spirit moving in my heart.  He is changing a lot in me.  More than I can explain in one blog post, but something I would like to write about soon. 

This has really been an amazing year.  A year I wouldn't trade for anything - not even what we thought this year would look like:  a referral in February and home with our baby in July.  The Lord has given me more of Himself.  I am blessed :-)

Happy 15 months!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thirteen Months!!

Can you even believe we've been on the Wait List for 13 months?  Me neither, Friends.  Me neither.  When we started the process, I think the average wait time for a referral was something like 8 months.  Now, my best guess is that it may be more like double that.  But here's the thing - it's OK!  Actually, it's more than OK - it's really GOOD!  I'm not sad, I'm not upset, I'm not depressed...  I'm really GOOD!  The Lord has done so much in my life and heart this year that I wouldn't trade one second of it for a referral. 

I mentioned a few months ago that David Platt's Radical had been pretty life-changing for us, and had we received our referral at 8 months, we would have completely missed out on what the Lord wanted to do in us through that study. 

I think I also mentioned a couple of months ago that we'd been volunteering with an apartment ministry in our area.  We have continued to do that and have been SO thankful that the Lord led us there.  He has shown us that everyone's life is not as comfortable as our's and that He wants to use us to show others how much He loves them.  I may have mentioned that we started out tutoring the kids, but starting in August, we'll actually be leading a Bible Study for the kids.  It was an opportunity that just fell in our laps that we couldn't refuse.  I have no idea what it will really look like, but I'm excited about teaching the kids about Jesus. 

Another opportunity that just fell in our laps was the opportunity to do a backpack and school supply drive for the kids in the apartment community.  We're hoping to collect at least 160 backpacks and school supplies so that every kid will have exactly what they need to start school.  I've been a bit nervous that we might not get everything we need, but the Lord has continued to remind me that one way or another, He will provide.

I think I also mentioned a couple of months ago that some friends had challenged us to a Biggest Loser type competition - couple vs. couple.  I may have also mentioned that we were going to try Couch to 5K.  C25K went pretty well for a couple of weeks, but then I ended up with runner's knee (or something) and couldn't do anything for 2 weeks.  After that we decided that walking would work just as well as running.  And to be honest, I actually think it's working better.  We did not win the competition for the month of June, but by the end of the month we'd found our groove and July has been a very successful month for us in terms of weight loss and just being active together.  And a bonus is that we're spending about an hour of quality time together each night, which we weren't previously doing.  We'll both try to "save" conversations for our walks so that 1) we have something to focus on other than just walking in silence; and 2) we end up talking about things that we didn't take the time to talk about before.  I never thought it would improve our communication skills, but it has!  So, in addition to learning how to become physically healthier, our marriage is becoming healthier as well.  And let's just be honest, if our adoption had gone quicker and we were home with a baby now, we wouldn't be so focused on learning how to live healthier, we would be in survival mode!  It's just one more thing for which to be thankful.

As for Ethiopia, there are a lot of specifics I can't really talk about on the blog.  Things have happened this year that have slowed down the process (at least for now), but I think all of them have been done for the sake of protecting the children. And for that, I am so very thankful.  I  believe that the Lord is working in Ethiopia to allow adoptions to continue ethically and in a way that glorifies Him.

We have been so blessed this year to really see the Lord's Hand at work - in our lives, in the lives of those around us and in Ethiopia. And I wouldn't trade it for the world!  Happy 13 months waiting :-)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

While We Wait: Multiple Blessings

As you may recall, I mentioned in this post that my sister and brother-in-law were in the process of a domestic adoption.  I am SO HAPPY to announce that they are now the proud parents of TWINS born June 6!!!  I was able to spend about 10 days at home with them in Nashville, and Auntie Becca is in LOVE! 

Aren't they just gorgeous?  Head on over to Jen's blog and read the story and look at the awesome family pictures.

P.S.  I know I am due for a 12 month post.  Suffice it to say, June was largely filled with the new niece and nephew, but here's the (cautiously optimistic) update on our adoption:  We expect a referral in August (maybe September), travel for court by the end of the year, and then return to bring our baby home early 2012.  And if you haven't learned by now, this is subject to change from day to day :-)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eleven Months!!

11 months.  Wow.  Who ever thought they'd be reading THIS post?  Certainly not I.  But a lot has happened this year in the world of Ethiopian adoptions, and so we're here - still waiting for a referral after 11 months on the Wait List. 

For those of you who are here to read the bottom line update, here you go:  According to the averages for the month of May, it looks like we could receive a referral in August, and then travel for court in January or February.  But remember, these are moving targets, so we'll see.

So...  what have we been up to over the past month?

Well, my baby sister FINALLY graduated from college!  She graduated from Watkins College with a Graphic Design degree and we are VERY proud.  My parents are most especially glad that after 17 consecutive years of paying college tuition for 3 daughters, they are finally finished!!!  In early May we went to Amy's Senior Show to see some of her work, and the work of others in her class.  It was very cool and we had a great time.  Here's a family photo from that night:

Amy is also to thank for my #11 up top.  It's from the super cool 2012 calendar she made for her show: 
(Click to enlarge)
I bought one from her because I love it so much.  If you would like one, feel free to email her at miller dot amynicole at gmail dot com.

This month we also started tutoring once a week at an apartment complex through an organization that does apartment ministry.  "Tutoring" is a rather loose term to describe what we've been doing, actually.  The kids claim they don't have homework, or don't need help, so each week we try to come up with educational games to play.  We have loved getting to know the kids and are beginning to connect with them.  I'm starting to see, however, that connection comes with a cost.  Some of the kids have pretty dysfunctional home lives, and when I hear their stories, I have a hard time not grabbing them all up and bringing them home with me.

Cake decorating classes have also continued this month.  It's taken a lot of time, and been a lot of work, but I love everything I'm learning. And I love being able to make cakes for special occasions, like an anniversary party at work.  We had a party for 2 of my co-workers who were celebrating 20 and 25 years with the company. 

One of the guests of honor is a huge chocolate fanatic, so the cake was chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache filling and, of course, chocolate buttercream.  I was pretty happy with the final product.

This next cake was the final project for this month's class.  It wasn't actually how I planned to decorate the cake, but our instructor wanted us to practice the basketweave, so it turned out kind of weird....

But it tasted good: white cake with lemon curd filling and lemon buttercream.  Yum.  June's class covers decorating with fondant, and I'm excited about that.

May is also birthday month for both of us, so we've had a lot of birthday dinners and shopping.  One of our joint birthday gifts (in my opinion, at least) was a 3 and a half hour trip to IKEA to buy organizational products for our out-of-control pantry.  We also made a couple of trips to The Container Store (another favorite), so there will be a Before And After post in the next couple of weeks.  But, I can tell you, it's looking better already.

As for June, Rob and I have committed to a Biggest-Loser-type 3-month challenge with some friends of ours - couple vs. couple.  As part of that, we're doing the Couch to 5K program.  We're starting with a Week 0 (30 minutes of walking 3 times a week) at 9:00 tomorrow morning.  I've always wanted to be a runner, but have never been any good at it, so I have high hopes that this will be successful.

So, back to the adoption...  I'm continuing to process everything that's happening.  It's a lot, and intense, and maybe one day I'll be able to share it publicly, but not for now.  I'm happy to talk about it, though, but writing about it just seems.... overwhelming.  The bottom line, however, is that God is good no matter my circumstances, and always - always - faithful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ten Months!!


Oh yeah! You know what this means, don't you? Cake Decorating classes have begun! Monday was our 10 month-iversary on the Wait List AND my last week of my first cake decorating class. For April, May and June I'll be taking the Wilton classes at our local Hobby Lobby. The first class was the buttercream class, the next one covers royal icing and gum paste, and the last one covers fondant. You might think from the picture above and the other pictures you've seen of cakes I've decorated in the past, that I totally rocked this class. And.... you would be WRONG! I could go into the details, but it would be boring for all of us, so let's just say that this class was - FOR SURE - a learning experience. I learned a little what TO do, but I learned A LOT what NOT to do.

Exhibit A: The first cake...

This was NOT (as one friend suggested) a carrot cake.  Oh no.  This is what happens when your buttercream is WAY TOO thick and ALL the crumbs from the cake get mixed into the frosting.  I was so defeated by the time I finished icing the cake that when it came time to actually decorate it, I slapped a "cupcake" on it and proclaimed it "Finished."  I was really tempted to just chuck it in the trash, but I knew my co-workers would yell at me for throwing away a "perfectly good" cake, so I took it into work the next day.  Bless their hearts, they ate all but one piece.  I love them :)

Last week we made cupcakes. While these were MUCH better than the week before, they were still kind of sad. I present to you Exhibit B:

I have high hopes for the next couple of classes that I will actually learn how to do new things WELL!

So, as usual, the theme of this month has been "crafts."

My friend taught me how to make pillowcase dresses and I was so inspired that I made a couple of them for our March of Dimes Silent Auction at work:

Aren't they so cute?! I love these things! I'm pretty sure the Lord will give us a boy, but I will FIND A WAY to find little girls to put dresses on! Trust me :)

Also, as I was pulling these pictures off my phone, I found a picture of the finished nursery "shell." We painted the room yellow (twice because the first time was TOO yellow) and put up white wainscoting. We're waiting to actually decorate it till we find out if our future child is a boy or girl, so for now, this is what the room looks like:

So, the big question: How much longer will we be waiting for a referral? I have no idea. My guess would be another few months, but it's really hard to predict right now. I hope by next month there will be a little more clarity. In the meantime, the Lord is teaching me that He might not always give me what I want, when I want it, but He will always give me more of Him - and He is more than enough.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nine Months!

(Yes, I flipped the number upside-down from the six month post)

Using an upside-down six for our 9 month post that's a day late won't be the only thing out of the ordinary for this month's update.

I naively believed we wouldn't be on the Wait List 9 months.   I knew it was a possibility, but I never really thought it would happen.  I really thought we would have a referral by now and would be (not so) patiently waiting for a court date.  For a number of reasons, we are still waiting for a referral and really have no way to even estimate how much longer we'll be waiting.  At this point I still hope we'll be home with a baby this year, but each month that goes by without a referral decreases that possibility.  However, the Lord has been so gracious to enable us to REALLY believe that His timing is perfect and to trust Him in especially difficult times.

This last month has been intense.  As a church we began reading through David Platt's Radical.   Here's Amazon's product description:


It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...


In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

I actually started reading the book back in November when the rest of the blogosphere was talking about it.  I got a couple of chapters into it and just had to put it down.  I remember telling a friend it was just "too much."  I wasn't sure how to describe at that time how it made me feel, but I now understand it was guilt.  It made me feel bad about myself because, at the time, I felt like it was adding more tasks to my checklist - and it was "too much."  I couldn't DO any more than I was already doing.  I was nearly overloaded as it was, and here was a guy telling me I wasn't doing enough  It was too much.  So I put it down and thought I might pick it up again at some point when I felt like I could better handle it.

Over the next few months the Lord began showing me so much about myself.  The details are better left for another post, but I began to realize that Lord didn't really have my heart, He just had my good behavior.  As I began to press into Him, He began to reveal areas of sin in my heart that I had ignored and enabled me to repent of those. 

When I found out we'd be reading through Radical as a church, I was not excited.   The last thing I wanted was for our church to be guilted into changing.  Rob and I talked about it and agreed to pray that if David Platt's message was something we needed to hear, we would be convicted that it was right, and not just feel guilty about it.  Thankfully, as we both began reading, the Holy Spirit confirmed to our hearts that Platt's message was true, what he says is right. 

We're only 4 chapters into the book (we're reading 1 chapter a week so we can really wrestle with each chapter), and it has been an intense 4 weeks.  I could probably write a post a day about everything the Lord is showing us and allowing us to witness.  Yes, it has been intense, but it has been oh-so-sweet.  Which is why we have so much trust in His timing.

A couple of weeks ago I woke up at 2:00 in the morning.  I was wide awake and my mind was churning with everything that had been happening.  Because I was wide awake, I decided to pray through all of it.  As I was praying, it hit me.  If we had received a referral in the timeframe we thought we would have, we would have been so focused on becoming parents that we would have totally missed what God wanted to do in us through the Radical study.  How awesome is that?!  The Lord NEVER shows me why things aren't happening like I think they should.  He always asks me to trust Him and MAYBE later He'll show me what was going on behind the scenes.  His showing me this made everything even more sweeter. 

So, have I mentioned it's been an intense month?  A really good, intense month.  And I can't wait to see what next month brings.  Happy, happy 9 months to us :)

Monday, March 7, 2011


Because the last post was REALLY heavy, here's a little bit of happy...

Thanks to the AMAZING Jen Cook and Ann Carroll,

P.S.  I really have THE cutest husband ever, don't I?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

While We Wait: Sacrifice

Sometimes some things just need to be shared.  They BEG to be shared.  As much as part of me would like to blend in, not make any waves and go with the flow – be NORMAL – the events scream out, “Don’t keep me to yourself!  It’s not fair!”  Or maybe it’s not the events at all that scream out, maybe it’s Someone.  Someone who is guiding my life and its events and is weaving me into His story…

About a month ago I received some misinformation.  Someone misunderstood something that was said and called me upset about the possibility of Ethiopia closing its international adoption program. Not knowing all the facts, I got upset too.  I spent a very long weekend wondering about all the “what-ifs.”  What if Ethiopia really put a stop to all international adoptions?  What if we couldn’t adopt from Ethiopia?  What would we do?  I spent a few days mourning the potential loss of our Ethiopian adoption.  What it came down to for me was that I grown to love Ethiopia.  It had ceased being just a means to grow our family.  We have grown to love the country like they are somehow already our extended family.  Just thinking about the possibility of losing that was gut-wrenching.

As Sunday rolled around, it began to dawn on me that if I really love Ethiopia – particularly the children – then I want what’s best for them.  If there is corruption, then my prayer is that it stops. If children are being trafficked, then it needs to stop.  No matter what.   In worship on Sunday morning, we were singing a song that says,

You are the everlasting God,
The everlasting God.
You do not faint,
You won't grow weary.
You're the defender of the weak,
You comfort those in need,
You lift us up on wings like eagles.

Of course, I’ve always sung those lyricsthinking of myself.   But as I was thinking about them, I started thinking about the children of Ethiopia.  THEY are the weak ones who need a Defender; THEY are the ones who need a Comforter.  Of course, He comforts and defends me too, but singing that song that day, my heart changed and all of the sudden this adoption wasn’t all about me anymore.  My desire was that first and foremost God would protect His children. 

As I was singing and praying, another thought came to mind, “What if we didn’t adopt at all and just gave all of our disposable income away?  We could sponsor tons of kids each month.  We could even help fund projects like building wells or schools.  We really could do a lot of good with the money we’ve already saved and continue to put away.”  And it was those thoughts that exposed what was really in my heart.  My heart cried out, “NO!  I want to be a mom!  It’s the deepest desire of my heart!  I can’t give that up!”  And that’s when I heard Him.  A still, small ,powerful voice.  “Will you give Me your desire to be a mom?  Will you sacrifice that to Me?  Will you lay it on the altar and let Me have it?” 

What do you do?  When the Creator of the universe, the God who you say you worship, the God who gave HIS Son for YOU, asks for something you hold most dear?  You let Him have it.  You say, “OK, God, OK.  Take it.  I want You to have all of me.  Do with me what You will.  I will sacrifice my desire to be a mom to You.  You can have it.  Take it.”  At least, that’s my story.  I just couldn’t hold onto something when God was asking for it.

That hasn’t always been my story, though.  I like to plan, and I like to control, and I like to think I know what life will look like in 6 months or a year.  But God wouldn’t allow me to think
that way any longer.  And what I’ve realized is that by giving Him my deepest desire, I’ve actually given Him complete control of the future.  (I “gave” God complete control of the future – how delusional are we to think we have any control over that anyway?)  But my heart has changed.  And the way I feel about the future has changed.  I feel like I’ve given Him the lump of clay that I’d molded into what I thought the future would look like.  He’s taken it and is molding it, and will eventually let me see what it looks like.  And while there are parts that may look exactly like what I thought they’d look like, I suspect there will be some parts that will look very different.  I have no idea which parts those will be, or what they will look like, but I totally trust Him.

While the information I received about Ethiopia closing its doors was not quite accurate at the time, there really is a lot going on over there right now.  It’s hard to know how much is really accurate, and how much is really just speculation, but for sure things are changing.  I really have no idea how it will all play out, but getting caught up in the details right now doesn’t seem to matter much to me.  God is completely in charge of my future, and I trust Him to work all things out in His timing – whatever that may be.

I was asked today if we have a Plan B.  No.  Plan A all along has been to trust that God is writing our story.  He has, and is and will continue to do so.  I have no idea what that looks like, but I know it will be beautiful.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eight Months!

8 months.  I'd like to whine and complain about how up until a couple of months ago we thought we'd have a referral by now.  I'd like to wallow in the fact that we will not have a baby home by this summer like we thought we would.  But then I hear myself.  And I want to slap myself.  Is waiting with no real end in sight hard?  Yes.  But then I remember that although I can't see the end, the end is actually out there.  And I hate whining.  I never want to paint the picture that the adoption process is all sunshine and roses or that I never really struggle, but the truth is that it could be so much worse.  Rob and I have a great life and are immeasurably blessed, and while we're both ready to be a family of 3, I don't want to wish away our last months as a family of 2.  So I choose to focus on the positive.  Because in the end, happiness is a choice.

So, you might be wondering what we've been up to for the last month.  We attended a dinner for waiting families at our Agency.  It was really great to be able to meet other people in our same situation.  We have another dinner coming up in a couple of weeks that I'm really excited about.  We've also been slllooooowwwwlllyyy been working on the baby's room.  We painted the room yellow, put up white wainscoting, finally admitted to ourselves how much we hated the shade of yellow we'd picked, and re-painted the room a much creamier yellow.  We still need to put a final coat of white paint on the wainscoting, so I'll save a picture of the room for another post, but I'm loving how it's turning out.  Other than some cake decorating, we've had a relatively slow month.  I think it was the calm before the storm because almost every weekend in March is already full.  As it turns out, busyness is a pretty good thing when you're waiting on a referral that isn't likely to come any time soon.

Now, for the official 8 month post, I'll turn the blog over to Rob to introduce you to his sister.

This is my sister M.  She is currently enrolled at UT studying to become a veterinarian.  He career path, coupled with the fact that she just can't seem to live without pets, is a good thing.  Our hope is that Auntie M's love and access to animals will mean that time spent with her will be special, and our child will grow to love Auntie M the way we love her.

Monday, February 21, 2011

While We Wait: And the Hobbies Continue...

I'm back at it again.  No news on the adoption front, so I must throw myself into something that keeps me from going crazy :)

I offered to help out with my friend Lauren's baby shower, and when I was asked to do the cake, I jumped on it!  For the last month I've been plotting and scheming on how to do a cake that went along with Mack's jungle animal nursery.  Here's what I ended up with:

Yellow cake with chocolate buttercream icing.  The dots are fondant and the yellow border is buttercream.  The animals are just toys I picked up at Kroger, and the "risers" they're on are mini cakes covered with fondant. 

Overall, I was pretty happy with the final product, but doing these things on my own has made me realize that I really want to take actual cake decorating classes.  I signed up tonight for the Wilton classes at Hobby Lobby, so starting in April, I'll be taking one class a week through the end of June.  Hopefully by that point I'll have a little more confidence in my abilities and won't consider every cake an experiment!

For Lauren's gift, I made her the hooded towels that I love so much:

Love, love, love these color combinations.

Now that the shower is over and the cake is finished, I'm feeling a little bit of a loss.  You know, what's next?  Well, 1) we're still working on the nursery; and 2) I've never actually decorated our Master Bathroom, so now's as good a time as any! 

Happy Monday, Friends!

Monday, January 24, 2011

While We Wait: Hobbies will keep my mind occupied, right?

I may have mentioned that I've been keeping myself busy by sewing and baking.  Well, since a lot of the sewing projects were Christmas gifts, I couldn't post pictures of them until after Christmas. 

Since my sister is adopting, I loaded her up with lots of baby stuff:

From Left to Right:  Receiving blankets, Taggie Blanket, Burp Cloths and Hooded Towels.

For my mom, Rob's mom and Rob's sister, I made aprons:

Right before Christmas, I also made a set of hooded towels for a sweet friend in NM who just had her second baby:

Then, pretty much as soon as Christmas was over, I started on working on a cake for a baby shower.  This cake decorating thing is a VERY new hobby for me. 

Back in th summer, Rob and I did this cake for a freind's shower:

So I was fairly confident I could do a cake for another friend's shower.  I spent a couple of weeks making flowers and butterflies out of gum paste and fondant...

And was pretty pleased with the finished product:

I also made her a set of hooded towels:

I now have a baby shower in February for which I'm dreaming up cake ideas :)

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking all of this sewing and cake decorating seems kind of obsessive, but pouring my time, energy and thoughts into a creative outlet has helped me focus on something productive, rather than truly obsessing over when we're going to get our referral and the "delays" in the process.  Which means I can honestly say I'm enjoying the time While We Wait.

Seven Months!

Ah, the magical 7 month mark.  At one point very early in the process, I thought we might actually get a referral this month.  Now that we're here?  Not a chance!  For one reason or another, there are some delays right now.  What's funny is that it's hard for me to even call them that.  Delays.  It implies that something should have already happened, but has not yet happened.  You see, what I realized last week was that God never promised me 7-8 months on the waiting list.  He NEVER promised me that our Agency's average wait times were HIS wait time.  Never!  Not once :)  All along I've believed that His timing was perfect.  It just never REALLY occurred to me that His timing might fall well outside of the averages.  Or that something might happen that was *gasp* unexpected.  And while some days I'm tempted to feel sad about that, most of the time it's very peaceful to rest in the fact that He hasn't been caught off guard by the "delays;" He is completely sovereign over this process (and has been since before we even knew we would adopt a baby from Ethiopia); and "our" baby was His baby long before the time He will turn him/her over to us to raise.  It's actually been pretty joyful and freeing to look at it from that perspective.

The previous post pretty much covers what I've been up to for the last month.  As a couple, we've hung out with friends a lot.  Oh yeah, I had the flu/stomach virus right after Christmas.  Not pretty.  Not pretty at all.

And now, to introduce you to his parents, I turn the blog over to Rob...

Thanks, Rebecca.  It would be a pleasure to introduce my parents.

Of all the people that we've featured as waiting with us, I can't imagine anyone that is anticipating Rebecca and I being parents more than my mom and dad.  Now, I have no way of actually proving that, but let me try to explain (and note that if you disagree, you can send all objections to Rebecca :).  I once had a friend explain the expectations from family like this, "Before we were married, everyone wanted to know when we were going to get married; at our wedding reception, everyone wanted to know when we were going to have children."  My parents live in a city in Mississippi, a city in which my mom shares with 4 of her 8 siblings...most of those siblings having been grandparents for around a decade.  So, when we got married, I think the expectations heaped at my parents, whether expressed verbally or merely implied, were, "When are you going to be grandparents?"  All of that to say, the anticipation that would normally come from becoming grandparents is amplified by the famialial environment in which they live. 
All of that being said, we love my parents and we/they won't be waiting forever.  And when the time comes, they'll make good grandparents.

Stay tuned after the break to see what pharmaceutical research of feline bladder infections and East Tennessee have to do with one my siblings.  Rebecca, until then, I hand the blog back to you.