Friday, March 28, 2014

I Woke Up Happy

Last night I had the best dream. 
My girl was home. 
We were drying her off after she'd taken a bath, putting on her jammies, and brushing her teeth. 
It was so normal, so real, so typical. 
There is nothing special about a bedtime routine.
Except that when your daughter isn't home, EVERYTHING seems special about a bedtime routine. 
I'm not waiting for something magical or extraordinary or exceptional in some way that defies the normal day in and day out of family life; I'm just waiting for normal family life with my whole family.

I woke up overwhelmed with happiness and with a very heavy heart, all at the same time. 

Today is an important day in the big scheme of our adoption and of our lives together as a family. 
Some people associated with our adoption agency are in her country today, visiting her orphanage. 
They're bringing a baby doll and a dress and, most importantly, a photo album filled with pictures of our family to our girl. 

I have so many roller coaster emotions about this. 

Part of me is so hopeful.
 Seeds will be planted today. 
She will see our family-- HER family--for the first time today. 
She will be hugged today and played with and loved on...... by someone else. 

(insert big dip on the roller coaster here-- you know, the kind that makes your stomach drop down past your knees)

Someone else will hug her today. 
Someone else will play with her today. 
Someone else will love on her today. 

And while I'm so very grateful for these middle mamas who are there to love on her when I can't,
 I'm also so very jealous. 
It's selfish.
 I know it is. 
But what mama wouldn't be jealous in these circumstances? 
I so badly want to kiss her little cheeks and hold her little hands and see her smile- a REAL smile, not the little smirk we've seen in pictures but a full-on belly laugh kinda smile. 

There are tears today. 
Lots of tears. 
And unfortunately I'm totally out of M&M's (how did THAT happen?). 

And there's more bittersweetness to come. 
Next week, or maybe even this weekend, I'll get some new pictures of her. 
We haven't gotten any new pics since October. 
She's had a birthday since then. 
And while I know it's so very good that she has grown, it will be bittersweet to see how much she has grown and changed, all without a family there to cheer her on and celebrate each and every milestone. 

Adoption is hard, friends. 
Following God's call is hard. 
My heart literally hurts today. 
And I can't stop crying. 
And can I just say that pregnancy hormones can't even begin to touch adoption hormones? 
It needs to be said. 

But God is good. 
His word is good. 
And I wouldn't change a thing if I could....except I certainly wouldn't have allowed myself to eat all of the M&M's. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

And I'm Crying Again

Just this morning, I had a friend tell me that I was strong for adopting from Congo. 
I laughed and told her that all the tears I've cried and all the bags of M&M's I've eaten would beg to differ. 
I don't feel strong. 

I feel like I'm 100% dependent on Jesus to bring our daughter home. 
We are depending on Him to prepare our hearts and her heart, to place our paperwork in the right hands at the right times, to bring favor on her case with the right judge, and to provide the funds we need to cover all of our adoption expenses. 

The money part of adoption-- there are so many things I could say about this. 
Bottom line is: I hate it. 
I hate that it costs so much to give a little girl a family. 
I've said it before, but we view adoption as a means for children to gain families, 
not for families to gain children (although that is a great added bonus).
I HATE to think that so many families are willing to open their homes, hearts, and lives to children but say no because of the overwhelming financial commitment that comes with adoption. 

We don't have the $30-40,000 we will need to cover our adoption. 
Could we have waited to start the process until we had saved that much money?
Do we believe it would have been the right thing to do? 
Absolutely not. 

We feel called NOW to act towards bringing our daughter home. 
We believe 100% that this is what God wants us to do. 
We are simply being obedient, no matter how scary that may seem sometimes. 

And I'm so glad we said yes. 

My daughter-- oh how I wish I could show you her little face. 
She is so so so beautiful.
And if we'd waited to start our adoption process until we'd saved the money we'd need to move forward, we could have missed her OR she could have spent YEARS in the orphanage waiting for us. 

Again-- our God is so much bigger than any amount of money. 
He loves our girl. 
He made her. 
He designed her. 
He knows her better than we ever will. 
He has been there with her while we can't be. 
And I fully believe that He wants her to come HOME. 

In the meantime, we are praying. 
We are saving our pennies. 
And we are getting on our knees and asking for help. 

Right now, we are working to raise $10,000 that we will need to cover our costs costs that will legally make Emily our daughter. 

And right now we have absolutely no idea where that money will come from other than to say 'Jesus'. 
We stand firm in the idea that He will provide. 

Will you join us in praying our girl home? 

Would you like to make a donation to help bring her here? 
If you feel called to help in this way, you'll find a donate button that will link you to paypal in the right hand column on this blog. 

Every dollar donated is one dollar closer to our girl. 
We are so grateful for every donation that comes in, whether it's $1, $100, or anywhere in between. 

And Emily's suitcase? 
It's filling up with the names of people who have given on her behalf. 

She is worth asking for.
She is worth giving for. 
She is worth sacrificing for. 
She is worth putting my pride aside for each and every day until she is home. 

Thank you thank you thank you for your help and prayers and support. 
If you need, I'll be eating M&M's on the couch like it's my job.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shopping for Swimsuits Should Be Illegal

You thought I was gonna post a picture of me modeling a swimsuit, didn't you?
Clearly you don't me at all. 

Today I want to take a minute to be random and share some things I've been thinking about lately. 
Let's get started. 

1. This week I've been reading. Let it be known that I prefer to read a book straight through, all in one sitting. What can I say-- I like closure. Apparently I like closure more than I like sleep. And I'd rather stay up late ready than be responsible and go to bed at a decent hour any day of the week. This week I've read both The Antelope in the Living Room and The Fault in Our Stars. Antelope had me literally laughing until I cried. If you've been married for a few years, I highly recommend it. If you've only just recently joined us here in the land of married folks, I recommend waiting a bit on this one. My prediction is that it will be way funnier after the newness has worn off. Think the newness of your marriage will never wear off? Then you've just proved my point; wait on this one. So many truths about old love and what it really means to be married. LOVED THIS ONE. 
Moving on to Stars. I started this book last night; I finished this book last night. I may or may not start crying again if I talk about it for too long. LOVED THIS ONE TOO-- for totally different reasons. If you're an adult who is too cool for teenage novels, then steer clear. However, if you haven't totally lost touch with the younger generation and can still speak teen, then I highly recommend it. 

2. Can I just say that I think the McRib is one the grossest things ever invented. Seriously, the only thing I can think of that grossed me out faster than a McRib commercial is that one time when I was helping Libby clean out her hermit crab cage (may he rest in peace), and we found maggots hiding beneath the coconut bark. That is almost as disgusting to me as the thought of eating a McRib. 

3. I recently started watching 'Nashville'. Yes, I went back to the beginning and watched it from the start; I'm not a savage. Anyway, I'm now living among those of you who can't wait for Wednesday to get here so you can see what happens with Deacon and Gunner and all of my 'Nashville' friends. Tonight will be my first Wednesday night to watch 'Nashville' live. I feel like I've moved up to a whole new rank in life. 

4. One time in college I had two pet alligators living in an aquarium in my apartment. It's a long story, but sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I can still hearing them hissing at me. Needless to say, they weren't living with me by choice. 

5. Shopping for swimsuits post baby should be illegal. By this I mean, it's a danger to my mental health. And if you're one of those women who just loves your post baby body, we may or may not be able to be friends.....ever. Yes, my baby is four. Yes, my post baby body hasn't existed since 2004. No, I'm not willing to never again eat French fries. Yes, I still miss my body pre-Libby. And all of that combined with the bad lighting in dressing rooms combined with two kids pulling at me and rushing me and all of the above, and it's just not a win-win for me. Needless to say, if you see at the beach wearing jeans and a t-shirt, just smile, nod, and go with it. 

What's on your mind these days? 
Do tell. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Created for Care: Adoptive Mamas Unite

Oh, how I needed this time. 
Time to be with other mamas who know what it's like to wait and fundraise and fundraise and wait. 
They understand how it feels to love a little one you haven't yet met. 

They get it. 
And being around the them brings out the best in me. 

I honestly believe every adoptive mama needs an adoptive mama friend...or 449 adoptive mama friends. 

Some of my all-time favorite people came together to hear God's word, reflect on all that it means to be a mom, and chat about the in's and out's of adoptive and all that it entails. 

Some of my favorite take-away's from the weekend:

* Waiting is a spiritual weapon of warfare.

*The word of God should always be the star of my story. 

*When we take our stories and our circumstances into our own hands, we love in state of chaos. 

*Am I dressing my sin up in pretty clothes? 

*When we say YES to where God wants us to go, He will silence the storms in our lives. 

So grateful for Created for Care, for time to reflect on the big, crazy mess that is my life these days, and to spend time with the One who matters most. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

One of Those Perfect Days

I came home on a whirlwind on Tuesday evening after having been gone for five days. 
And Wednesday, at the crack of dawn, I did the only thing I could do after being gone-- I woke up at the crack of dawn and took the girls to the Memphis Zoo. 

It was cold and windy and all kinds of perfect. 
It was truly one of the great days that I hope my girls will cling to on days when we are a hot mess. 

And the pictures can say what I simply can't put into words: 

Note to moms everywhere: 
Babysitters at the zoo are a great idea. 
The hubs needed a day alone after five days as a single dad. 

Coming soon to this here blog: 
Thoughts on Created for Care. 
Be there or be square. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

It's no secret that I love Africa. 
It's also not a secret that there is nowhere else I'd rather be.
I can honestly say I feel more at home there than I ever have here. 
It's been a year and a half since I was last on African soil.
And my heart has longed to go back ever since I left. 
In fact, I clearly remember a moment in the Malawi airport where I honestly considered not coming back at all. Thoughts like, "Lee and the girls can just come here." and "I can stay." flashed through my mind. 
However,God has made it clear that that is not His plan for us. 
But that doesn't make staying away any easier. 

When we committed to adopt Emily, I knew what that would mean-- no more Africa for a while. 
All of our pennies these days head into our adoption fund. 
And no pennies means no Africa. 

I knew this would be hard for me. 
It's like giving up my passion and putting a part of heart in the corner on hold. 

No Africa until Emily comes home or until I get to go visit her (no, visiting orphans in Congo doesn't usually happen. But my God is bigger than 'usually doesn't happen', and you just never know what He has in store). The point is, I knew when we began the adoption process that I wouldn't be able to afford to go back to Africa for anything not directly associated with our daughter. 

And that's hard. 

Part of me is selfish. 
I want to be in my happy place. 
I want to be where my heart is longing to be. 
But I want my daughter more. 

(No, this is not Emily. Remember-- no pictures of her until she is home. These little girls are part of the reason I wanted to stay in Malawi.)

However, Africa is apparently where God wants me to be because this past January I won a trip to go to visit our Noonday Collection artisans. 
So, this July, I will officially be headed to Rwanda. 

God is sending me back to Africa. 

I'm still in shock. 
My heart is overwhelmed with joy. 
I can't wait to meet our artisans. 

In fact, I've wanted to head to Rwanda ever since I saw this artisan holding the card I made. 

I will get to hug her neck. 
I will get to talk to her about her life. 
I will get to go back to Africa. 
And I simply can't wait. 

I'll be traveling with twelve of my beloved Noonday sisters. 
It is sure to be quite the adventure. 

I don't know what all God has in store for us while we are in Rwanda. 
But I DO KNOW that He is using Noonday over and over and over again to remind me just how GREAT He is and just how much He loves little ole' me. 

A few other things I know today? 

Tomorrow I'm hitting the road on a solo trip to do two adoption fundraisers with Noonday for beloved families working to bring their littles home and to spend some time with 400 other adoptive mamas at the Created for Care retreat. I CANNOT WAIT. If you need me tonight, just know that I won't be sleeping-- I'll be up counting the hours until Santa comes because that's how excited I am to head back to Created for Care and be surrounded by mamas with hearts like mine. 

I ALSO know that there is still time for YOU to become a part of our journey to Emily and make your mark in her story. Find out the details on how you can do that here. 

Happy Wednesday to you and you and you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Make Your Mark!

Today is a special today. 
For you see, March 3rd means we have officially been on this adoption journey for nine months. 
Nine months. 
If you're a mama, you know what this means-- it means that if we weren't adopting and were having Emily the biological way, we'd have her. 
She'd be home or in the hospital covered in pink bows and kisses and wrapped in warm blankets and snuggled all day, every day. 

But that's not God's plan for our family and our girl. 

And while I'm happy because nine months in means nine months closer to our daughter, the mom in me is having a hard time. 
The truth is, we don't know exactly when she'll be home. 
Adoption is tricky like that.... so many unknowns and no real timeline. 

But we hold strong in the fact that God is in control. 
He loves our little girl, and I have no doubt that He wants her to have a family even more than we want her to have a family. 

So, instead of pouting and cramming my face full of Cadbury mini eggs, I'm choosing hope. 

She WILL come home. 
She WILL be with her family.
She WILL be snuggled all day, every day. 

It will simply happen in God's timing, not ours. 

So for now, we're waiting.....waiting with hope and anxious anticipation.

And while we're waiting, we're preparing. 
And we need your help. 

The next big step in our adoption journey will be passing court in Africa. 
Passing court is HUGE because it will mean Emily is officially, legally our daughter. 
Passing is also expensive (think about $7000), and we want to be ready the minute that happens. 

We also want Emily to know just how loved she is. 
We want her to know how many people were praying her home. 
We want her to see how big God is and how hard He worked for her. 
We want her to hear about that mountains He moved on her behalf and to know that she was fiercely loved long before we ever met her. 

So, with that in mind, I give you MARK YOUR MARK. 

Emily may not be home on the nine month mark, but she WILL be home. 
And we want to be ready. 

THIS is the suitcase we will use take with us to Africa to bring our girl home. 
And we want it to reflect all of you who have become a part of our adoption story. 

We're her family, and we are praying her home. 
But I know we aren't the only ones. 
So many people have expressed their desire for our girl to be home where she belongs, and we want her suitcase to show her just how much she is wanted and longed for and loved and prayed for and thought of. 

Will you join us in our journey to bring Emily home? 
Simply make a donation in any amount. 
A dollar, twenty dollars, all the dollars-- every little bit helps. 
It all adds up. 
And it's what we need to get her home. 

Once you make a donation, we'll add YOUR NAME to Emily's suitcase. 

Will you become a part of Emily's story? 
Will you MAKE YOUR MARK on our adoption journey? 

Thank you. 
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 
Any mother who has ever longed for her child, pleaded to God for her child, and cried out whole heartedly for her child knows, nine months is a big, big deal when it comes to bringing home our babies. 
And Emily is indeed my baby.