Sunday, October 25, 2015

Unfolding {Part 1}

     I'm back! I've got a few posts up my sleeve to update you all about what's been going on in our neck of the thanks for sticking around...or coming back...or maybe you're reading for the 1st time! In that case, welcome!
     Whether or not you've followed along in our journey thus far, you may be able to tell that the name of our blog was inspired by the song Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman. And for the last year...God has revealed just that...HIS glorious unfolding for our family. This summer was one of epic proportions in our adoption process. We finally closed in on the FINAL task of our giant home study to-do list and we were incredibly eager to begin our physical home study. There seemed to be a LIGHT at the end of our {first} tunnel.
     But God. He had different plans. His story was only beginning...and so in August...He wrote a brand new chapter into our family's story. On August 4th, Eric and I found out that we were going to be expecting at the end of March. Expecting?! Even at 17 weeks and growing, I can't quite type this news without tearing up because this was a phase I thought we had said goodbye to in our lives. While I've got a whole post planned on the feelings that preceded and followed our YES on August 4th, I wanted to pop in and let you know that God has allowed HIS story to unfold in our lives. In March, we will welcome home baby #3 and shortly after, we will hopefully be able to match with our little one across the ocean in CHINA!
     China, you ask? Yes! Due to South Korea's strict birth order policy, we were going to have to put our adoption process on hold for quite a while. In fact, our agency AND South Korea require that there is a 12 month difference between our youngest biological child and our adopted child. Well if you remember from my earlier posts, you typically match with a child in the South Korea program at 6 months old...which means our agency would require us to wait until our March baby was 18 months old before we could begin our home study and match process. Waiting this long would mean there'd be another 18 months of waiting beyond that... Naturally, I just presumed I'd be 40 by the time this was all said and done. Ha! Ok, not really. BUT! I was truly wrestling with the idea of putting our international adoption on hold. I didn't believe that God would allow infertility to be a part of our story for such a long time if He wanted us to just stop. Again, I've got a post dedicated to this part of our story too...but in short, we're excited to move on with a different agency and a different country program...and bring home our little one from China.
     I can't wait to share with you all the details of how God is unfolding our story as a growing family. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for and supported us on this amazing journey. To God be the glory! Amen!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


God uses change to change us.

     Last Christmas, I had asked my mom for some books. While this may seem like an appropriate request for one's Christmas list, I can assure it is not for me. In fact, I think my mom (and sisters) nearly fell over in complete shock when I put book titles on our annual "Write down what you want for Christmas" extravaganza...which usually means my oldest sister has a pretty good list to go off of, my brother-in-law's list is super specific, and the rest of us just waiver in a lot of "I don't knows." 

     Anywho, one of the titles I put on my list was Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker and since it was one of three things I actually wrote down on my list...naturally, my mom bought it for me. Earlier this summer, I {finally} opened it and began reading. One of the quickest things to smack me in the head was this..."God uses change to change us." Well, yeah. That makes sense, right? It's such simple statement...yet also very profound. I jotted it down in my notebook only to revisit the idea a couple of months later.

     This summer was a lot of things for our family. It was fun, restful, and oh-so-needed. To date, I could say it was one of the best summers I've had with the kids. I'm thankful that God provided me with my dream teaching job while also allowing me to have the summer time to spend with our kiddos. We truly enjoyed settling into our new house and getting out and doing things this summer! Having previously lived in a community we weren't terribly involved in was difficult. While it was only a twenty-minute commute to family, friends, church, school, etc. the time added up. Some weeks, we would be away from home six nights of the week. Church on Sunday. My bible study on Monday. Eric's bible study on Tuesday. Wednesday night children's church. Friday night football game. Saturday night get-together. Honestly, it made for a very busy and stressful school year! And by the time summer rolled around, I kind of curled up into a little ball and wanted to just stay put.

     Ironically, this summer was also one of my roughest summers I've had to date. I dealt with a lot of health stuff...things that kind of piggy-backed off the end of my school year. Typically, I've always classified myself as a healthy person. For example, when I finally went to the doctor...and had to fill out mountains of paperwork...I couldn't even write down a family doctor's name for myself. I had to use my OB/GYN  because he was the most recent doctor I had been to...mind you our youngest is FOUR! Ha! To sum it up, I don't go to the doctor. If I've been sick (on the rare occasion), I've gone to urgent care. But I think God was urging me to slow down and focus on some self-care. Isn't that a mom's biggest area of concern so many times?! I spent most of June and part of July on steroids and other medications...and I began to feel a little better. I also gave up caffeine which is quite literally a MIRACLE. Don't get me wrong, I've had some caffeine a handful of times since June...but I went cold-turkey. From drinking coffee every day (and sometimes after school), I switched to drinking water. Let me tell ya, only God got me through that type of transition!

     This summer was full of change. Both good changes and bad. And as I began back to work today, {and not feeling particularly well again} I am reminded that God has used all of this change to change me. He's refined me. He's molded me. And although I've felt like I've had to cling pretty tightly at times, God has remained the same. UNchanged. He's caused me to rely on Him for my strength. And isn't that the focus of His change in our lives? To shift our focus to Him? God has certainly used changes in our life to change us. This summer was evident of that...and we are so grateful for all the ways He is changing us from the inside out. Our lives need to be interrupted. I pray He continues to interrupt our lives as He sees that we may stay focused on Him through thick and through thin.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's the Final Countdown...

     Do you hear the music?! It's the final countdown, people! We're looking at finishing off the last 10 items (or LESS) on our HUGE checklist of 40-some items. AHHH! Eric stayed up until 1:30AM to finish his questionnaire. I assure you that answering the type of questions he had to answer that late at night is NO easy feat. It requires a lot of critical thinking...and after you've already put in a full day of work...the struggle was REAL! Of course, I supported him by staying up too. My job was a little easier as I chose to binge watch Chopped episodes on Hulu. As a result, Eric supported me by letting me stay in bed until 11AM because I didn't get any sleep last night. Don't judge. The struggle was REAL at 4:30AM when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

     I've been slightly frantic trying to gather our final paperwork so we can send off our LOVELY package (stuffed to the GILLS) to our agency. You can bet your bottom dollar that our lovely package will be mailed priority WITH insurance or whatever other coverage I need to get to make 100% sure it gets to who it needs to get to! Alas, the end seems near. Our case worker even emailed me and said we only have a few more items to check off. Yes, I already knew this, but it was good for my soul to hear that from her since this has been the never-ending story. This comment also piggy-backed off a slew of emails from our case worker informing me (in a very nice way) that some of the items I had already uploaded to our portal were not the correct items. It was a little discouraging since these were items I had already "checked" off our list. Luckily, they were all easily remedied and I got to check them back off our list.

     Our last final BIG items are notarizing a gazillion papers (which should be an easy task thanks to a family friend), getting our physicals (Eric's & Lindsay's) completed by the doctors, setting up our passport appointments with the post office, and getting the kiddos' physicals done. I mustered up the energy to take the kiddos to the doctor's office yesterday so we could drop off the paperwork and apparently, the entire office left at noon. To say I was frustrated is an understatement. UGH. After standing in the office window for a few minutes, a sweet lady behind me informed me that she thought the office was gone for the day. I asked the neighboring office secretary if this was true for every Friday and she said no...but it was true for today. Wonderful. We'll try another day!

     Financially, we've continued to be blessed by our MudLove fundraiser. Just when we go several weeks without selling a bracelet, we have a big rush of people who want to buy one or two or more! In the last two weeks, we've sold close to 20 more bracelets! We've taken a break on starting any more fundraising efforts. I've got one more idea that I'd like to start around Christmas time. Once we complete our home study, we can look into some grants or scholarships as a way to help offset our adoption costs. Our biggest upcoming costs will be our home study ($3,000-$7,000) and our program fee once we match with our son or daughter ($19,500). We're continuing to pray over these amounts and how these financial needs will be met. Thank you for your prayers for our family. We are so appreciative! Have a great weekend, friends!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Picking up the Pieces

     {My heart sank. It wasn't the first time...and I know it won't be the last. But a little piece of my heart broke when I read the words in that email. Another family who was reviewing his file had decided to move forward.}

     A while back, I had shared about this beautiful and precious little one we had reviewed. Well a couple of months ago, we learned that he had been chosen by another family before we could review his file again. Obviously, we were elated that this little one had found his forever family. But, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't heartbroken too.

     Of course, I can only imagine what you may be thinking. How can I be so saddened about losing a child I've never met? After all, I had only really "seen" him twice before. Honestly, I questioned my own emotionality over the situation. Life had been extra stressful lately- with moving and with work. Those stressors must be playing a role in my sensitivity to this precious little one. But as hard as I try to get over this little boy...I can't. Even when we were informed that two more little ones were added to the waiting list for us to heart didn't pitter-patter for them the way it did the first time with this little boy.

     So for the last couple of months, I've had conversations with myself about why this might not have been God's plan for our family. Reasons like: we would've had to do things a little "backwards" if we would have matched with this little boy...and he would've been a little older by the time we brought him home...and then there's this really big reason like...we're not even done with our home study yet?!?! Oh. Ok God. Great point.

{Can we just talk about that for a quick second minute? The home study?}

     I know I'm a broken record about the length and the amount of work a home study is...but quite frankly, I feel like we've been at a standstill for...ever. Forever ever. People are not kidding when they say it's a full-time job. The problem is...I already have a full-time job so finding time outside of my job as a teacher and mama (and sometimes wife, sorry Eric!) to paper chase and fill out pages upon pages of forms is HARD. I know, I know. I'm preachin'. And I know people do it. But I couldn't. So there, I feel better now. I. could. not. do. it.

     And furthermore, let me say, that it is even harder to come up with a worthy answer when people ask "How's the adoption going?" or "Are you matched yet?" An international adoption is a marathon...and I'm not a very good runner. Ask my sister. I ran track for 1 year in high school and felt sick before every event I was in...and why?! I don't even know...because they just put me in events to let me participate. We're talking...I couldn't even place in the top 3 in my heat. Like 5th heat type of stuff...JV status. I digress...back to my analogy...the marathon. So I feel like we got out of the gates quickly and the first few miles were great...our endurance was up and things were happening. But now we're a little further into the journey and the pace is slowing. I'm tired. Exhausted. Defeated. {Fill in the blank with any other negative emotion you can think of- HA!} And we've got a long way to go. It's so difficult to imagine the finish line when it's not in sight.

     And on top of these exhausted feelings, I’m beating myself up for falling in love with this little boy who cannot join our family. I’m embarrassed that I said “no” to him the first time because our life was too busy and we couldn't consult a doctor about his file. And one might say I’m overreacting…and that may be. But, I’ve been given the opportunity to consider more little ones…and my heart doesn’t leap out of my chest like it did the first time. It’s not the same. Will it ever be? Did I mess up? Did we mess up? Lots of thoughts. Lots.

     I know God has a plan. And I've read and heard countless other stories that tell us this will all be worth it. And I believe that...I truly do. We would not have made the decision to adopt if we were expecting or wanting this journey to be easy. That is for sure! These setbacks and hardships are not a surprise to us. But, when you're only in what seems like the very beginning of the journey, it also doesn't mean that it isn't hard to wade through the difficulty of this process and find the endurance to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

     But alas, it's June. Schoooooool's out for the summer! (cue the song) So full-time job aka home study here I come! Annnnd we're chugging back up the hill on this roller coaster of an adventure. Eric and I sat down yesterday TOGETHER (what?!) for a few hours to work on our adoption paperwork. I finished filling out our passport applications. I dragged my sick self to the park with both kids so Eric could finish his 9 pg. questionnaire...and we uploaded some photos of our family and our home to our agency's website. So we're off to the races again!

     Slowly, slowly, I am beginning to pick up the pieces of January through May...and lay them down into the bigger picture of our adoption story. We've got quite a few more pieces to find and I'm hopeful to see where June takes us on this roller coaster called adoption! Prayers are always appreciated, friends. Have a great week!

*Also, obviously with this blog's apparent that we finally have internet at our new abode. Cue the ANGELS singing! When all of your adoption paperwork is online, no internet makes for terrible progress in this race.*



Sunday, May 10, 2015

{Guest Post}

     A while ago, I had made an offhand comment about eventually wanting to have some guest posts on our blog. I have seen it done on other blogs I follow, but I didn't exactly know how to go about it or who might even be interested in writing something for this little ole blog. But God heard this small dream, and during a particularly rough week, He prompted a friend to email me this "guest post."  My prayer is that you will read this and think of a way you can impact someone else's the way these friends have impacted ours'.

A Call to Arms
     Life is difficult sometimes, full of obstacles getting in our way, keeping us from our goals, and making everything harder than it needs to be. In the face of all this discouragement, sometimes we just need someone to step up and be an advocate for us. To advocate on our behalf. To be our fan and cheer us on. We need people who see our needs, our obstacles, our discouragements, and then do something about them.

     James 2 says, "Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well'—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?" Exactly. What good does it do? We all have friends going through something difficult. Instead of just feeling empathy for the person, we need to do something about it. Maybe they need encouragement in the form of a card or email, or maybe they need you to help solve the problem. Sometimes our friends need our involvement more than our well-wishes.

     In the era of Facebook and social media, people throw around the word "friend" a lot. It is easy to simply call someone a friend. It is far better to invest yourself in the lives of the people you love, and they will know you are their friend. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that someone cares about you, someone wants the best for you, and someone is in your corner cheering you on. Nothing feels better than having a fan, an advocate, a friend.

     Galatians 6:2 tells us, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." That's our job as Christians, and that's our privilege as friends. We have the ability to lighten the load for our friends. We have the ability to brighten someone's day with laughter. We have the ability to encourage with a kind word. We have the ability to serve others when they could use a hand. We have the incredible ability to change the lives of the people around us. Everyday we have the choice to either make someone's day a little better, or do nothing.

     So what does all this have to do with the Murrays and adoption? Well, I've noted with bewilderment that the adoption process is seemingly designed to be as difficult, discouraging, and expensive as possible. As we heard about the paperwork, the cost, the home study, the character references, the psych evaluations, and all of the other hoops that have to be jumped through, frankly, we were discouraged and it wasn't even us adopting. Adoption on top of life's usual pressures can be very daunting.

     My wife and I are big Murray fans, so we wanted to be friends to Eric and Lindsay not only in name, but in tangible ways that let them know we love them and support them. Feeling affection for someone is fine, but at some point you need to act on that affection for it to mean anything. Maybe we haven't done enough, and maybe we selfishly get distracted with our own lives too often, but we have been trying to put our love into action. It has been so fulfilling these last six months watching God work as Eric and Lindsay move through the adoption process. It has been awesome to be excited with them as they check items off their list, to be happy for them when things are going well, and to share the disappointment when they aren't. To actually care about their lives, that's what being a friend is all about. Being invested.

     Adoption is a chance for all of us to rally around our friends. I don't think that Eric and Lindsay's situation is unique. Everyone has seasons of stress in life, but I'm guessing that anyone going through adoption can probably use an extra dose of support and encouragement from friends. We can help make a tedious, discouraging process into a wonderful story of God's provision, hope, and friendship that will someday be a part of a child's story.

     There's a ton of stories to be told, and we all have the opportunity to at least be a footnote in one of them. So go be a friend to someone. I was going to say "go be a friend to someone who needs it", but who doesn't need it?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ephesians 3:20...Part 3

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

     So a "Part 3" seemed like a good way to dust off the cobwebs from this little old blog. Quite frankly, there has been neither time nor energy to do much aside from putting one foot in front of the other as of late. Oh and we don't have the internet yet. But that's a different story.

     My "Part 2" was a slight cliffhanger with the exciting news and HUGE answer to prayer that we had sold our home and were looking to move. And like any story, there were lots of details in between the beginning, middle, and end of our whole "moving" saga. All of these details aren't appropriate for the big wide world, but I can say that lots of these details were worked out- and in a good way. Things were obviously stressful. But we did it! We MOVED! And things are STILL stressful as we live among boxes and other miscellaneous items that somehow "made the cut" from one house to the other. I joke with Eric that all of the "treasure" in our garage could probably be put into a dumpster and I wouldn't be sad. Ha! Sometimes emotions make you say silly things. I know anyone that has ever moved is shouting out a big ole AMEN right now. 

     It's been a week since we've been sleeping in our new abode...and we feel so blessed and grateful to be home. We're especially excited that our home study can move forward! We still have some paper-chasing to do, but some of those things involve the physical being of our "home"...what it looks like in the front and in the back...what our son or daughter's room looks like...what the main living areas look like, etc. Pictures will still have to wait a little while yet, as I'm not sure piles of boxes will be looked upon favorably. But we know there is no gray area with selling our house or moving anymore. And we definitely won't have to spend extra money on updating our home study now because we have a forever HOME!

     We also couldn't set up home visits until things were more cemented with our living arrangements. Would South Korea allow us to adopt if we were living in the basement of Grandma's house? We just didn't know if that'd be allowed. HA! All jokes aside, we did live with Grandma for a few days during the transition time of moving (read: we moved some stuff, but not enough to live at either the old or new residence) and it was such a blessing. If you live near parents and have children, again...AMEN. Grandparents (and parents) can be such a huge help. 

     Our new "neighborhood" is turning out to be a wonderful atmosphere for our family. Our son spends his "after-school" hours shooting at his (new to him) basketball hoop...our daughter loves to ride her bike and fly kites...and I love seeing them enjoy the outdoors! We've been super blessed already with a sweet couple who owns farmland that is on two sides of our house as well as a mini-golf course that we can see from our back window. Our kids are in heaven. Yesterday, we came home and the sweet couple was mowing and weeding our lawn. *We have more grass than at our old house and will have to invest in a different mower.* Then, they took the kids for a golf cart ride to let them play a few holes at their mini-golf course. Eric and I tried our hand at it too. Our youngest golfer made it out with 2 hole-in-one shots. I'd say there will be some stiff competition this summer!

     Some days are definitely harder than others to find the joy in each moment. But even in all of the stress, I need to remember to slow down and thank God for all of the ways in which He has worked in our lives over the last year. Sometimes, it's difficult not to focus on the here and now when the here and now is stressful. But you always hear the words of wisdom to look at the "bigger" picture. And when I look back at where we started and where the Lord has led's been a beautiful journey. I didn't say an easy journey...but  a beautiful journey...with many ups and many downs...a journey with growth, heartache, and blessing. He truly has given us peace in a lot of situations and has accomplished infinitely more than we could have asked or thought. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

John 14:14 and Chicken

"You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." John 14:14

     A few months ago, one of our dear friends approached me about doing a chicken BBQ fundraiser on behalf of our family's international adoption. We graciously accepted her offer and with that, our friends hit the ground running. Tickets were ordered and printed. Fliers were made. (Well-made, might I add.) Posters were hung. Emails were sent. Spreadsheets were created...complete with red numbers and with black. Truthfully, the amount of behind-the-scenes work probably can't adequately be explained into one little post. But I want to try...because it was a LOT!

     Soon, the time came for ticket selling. Our Sunday school class took on this task...and the idea of divide and conquer seemed like a great one! Many of our friends took stacks of tickets to sell. The fundraiser was shared on social media. There were announcements made at church. Getting the word out was half the battle. 

     Early on in the fundraiser, I remember naively asking our friend if there was a minimum number of tickets we had to sell. I had heard from a friend that this certain company had a minimum presale of 300. I laughed. That can't be true. 300 is a big number. Maybe it's different for personal fundraisers. It has to be...right? Wrong. My friend's response when I asked her was 300. 300?! The minimum pre-order for this particular chicken BBQ company was 300. No matter who you were. Ha! Remember that spreadsheet with red numbers AND black ones? Breaking even was selling a little over 200. And a few weeks before the fundraiser...our number was 87. Honestly, my hope and prayer was that our friends could at least break even. To take this fundraiser on was a huge task and I knew the amount of work that had been dedicated...on our behalf.

     We continued to pray for this fundraiser and for well...chicken. And you know what? God heard our prayers- our prayers about moving in the hearts of others and our prayers about chicken.  And after another week had passed, we hit 226! The goal of 300 was much more of a reality now! Red numbers became black numbers. Praise God! Even days before we were to give our final count, people were ordering tickets. My coworkers bought 13 more the day before we had to turn in our final count to the BBQ company. Honestly, it kind of chokes me up just typing this story...because it's a story that only God could have authored. To go from 87 to nearly 300 in a matter of a couple weeks is crazy. But God does crazy things! We've witnessed that time and time again in this journey already.

     Well, today was the big day. The BIG day for our BBQ chicken fundraiser. And do you know what our number was? 355. Three hundred fifty-five. That's how many dinners we served out of our church kitchen between the hours of 10am and 1pm. Oh and I should also add that our dear friends added a cookie to each dinner as well...homemade cookies. So on top of serving 355 half-chickens, my friends (and mama) baked more than 355 cookies to pass out as well! One of the most exciting things about this journey is the stories that we have to share with our son or daughter some day. The stories about our friends, our church family, and our community who rallied behind us to help bring him/her home. And thanks to this fundraiser, we can add more than $1400 to our adoption fund. I can't wait to bring in the stack of checks to the bank tomorrow. As I've been asked other trips to the bank, "Did you just get married?"'re adopting...and this will help bring our son or daughter home. Thank you for bringing us even closer to that moment. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are forever grateful to each and every one of you.

     Lastly, what's a great post without some pictures? Unfortunately, I did NOT get a picture of everyone who was involved as I was the crazy ticket-taking lady. And was crazy. Thank you to everyone who bought, sold, served, baked, and shared our fundraiser. We love you all!

 The directors of traffic reporting for duty!

 Have you ever seen so many cookies? I have not.

 The first shift crowd. Ready for action!

The second shift action shot! No time for posed smiles. 

Praying that you all have a blessed week. Thank you for reading about our journey and being a part of our story!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It Had to be You

Early bird. Night owl. Which one are you? I've always considered myself both a morning person and a night person. Now, don't get me wrong...there are days when I like to sleep in just as much as the next person...and there are definitely nights when I can't wait to get to bed. But when you average it all out...I tend to function on little sleep. *The level of functionality is definitely up for debate by my loved ones, I'm sure.*

Evenings, in particular, can get me into trouble though. It's usually when I write (for example, it's after 10PM as I begin this entry)...or it's when I work on school stuff...or it's when I simply pass the time by going on bunny trails sparked by social media or other thoughts that won't turn off in my brain. Speaking of bunny trails...

There I was...on a late night bunny trail...a week or so ago. My destination not completely unknown. I knew where I was going, but I didn't necessarily know what I would find. Or who. And that's when I saw you. You. Beautiful and precious little you.

I knew it had to be you. I had never seen you before, but I knew it was you. I recognized your sleeping habits. I recognized your medical needs. I recognized your milestones. I recognized it all and so it had to be. It had to be you. Beautiful and precious little you.

Although I had never seen you, I first met you a few weeks ago. It was then that I learned about how you came into this world. I learned about many things that make you tick. And I wanted to see you so badly. But I didn't need to see your face. I just wanted your words. Words that I could pray over. Words that (we) could pray over. Words that introduced me to you. But the time just wasn't right for more than words. Until this night...when I was on a bunny trail...and I met you for the second time. This time, with more than words. My bunny trail had a purpose. My bunny trail had a destination. My bunny trail led me to you. Beautiful and precious little you.

The next week was filled with prayers and phone calls...and waiting. Lots of waiting for you. We were supposed to hear about you on Monday. And then Monday came and went. I prayed for you again on Tuesday. And then Tuesday came and went. So here we are on Wednesday and I'm praying for you again. Beautiful and precious little you.

Monday, March 23, 2015


     Twenty-nine. The significance of twenty-nine probably doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot, unless you're someone like me...someone who counts. I'm a counter. Believe me, counting is not something I've always done..but I've learned to be pretty good at it.

    Normally, I'm good at counting to twenty-four. Sometimes twenty-five or twenty-six. But never twenty-nine. That's not a number I count to...except this last time. I counted to twenty-nine. Twenty-nine is a very different number than twenty-four. It's even enough different than twenty-five or twenty-six. But I counted to twenty-nine and then...just like was time to start over...beginning at number one.

     The number one began with other counting too.  I counted the number of bedrooms in our house. I counted the number of occupied seats in our car. I counted a lot of other things that made the number twenty-nine hurt even more. But then I began to count the number of papers and appointments we've already checked off our list. The number of things we'd have to do all over again if I counted past twenty-nine. And once again, I'm thankful that I'm good at counting to twenty-four because I don't like counting to twenty-nine.

     Someday, I hope I lose the art of counting. The only thing I want to the moment right in front of me...staring at me and asking me to do something with it. Embrace it. Love it. Be grateful for it. Share it with the people around me. Somedays that's easier said than done. But here's to not least not to twenty-nine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Are we crazy?!

     Some may answer this question undoubtedly "Yes"...while others may think it's still up for debate. I've asked this question myself more than once in this process already.  But thankfully, one of South Korea's requirements is a psychological examination. So we can pay someone $800 to answer this question for us! Ha!

     All jokes aside though...we began the psychological examination process a few weeks ago. We were told there was a six week wait for new patients. This news made me slightly nervous since we have a deadline for this part of the home study. I called our case worker and she explained that this was a fairly typical timeline for most families in this stage. She didn't think it would be a problem.

     Upon calling our soon-to-be psychologist and telling her that the six-week time frame would work, she let me know that if Eric and I were open to being called when she had a could be sooner. And we have been SO blessed by God's timing. Due to three cancellations in the last couple of weeks, we're almost finished with our entire process already! We've got 2 visits down and 1 to go. And after tonight...we'll have completed our 2nd required test. Let me tell ya, I am really looking forward to answering 500 true and false questions. Eric is doing this same test as I type. I'm hopeful he's alive when I switch spots with him in an hour. Ironically, he just texted me and he's only 100 questions in...pray, friends!

     On top of the amazing timing of cancellations though, we have also been SO fortunate to have someone (that can complete our specific requirements) who is literally 5 minutes from our house. For example, I received an email from our other case worker talking about another family going through the South Korea program. This family is located within an hour of us and they were having trouble finding anyone to do their psychological examination. But, they had finally found someone and wanted to pass along the psychologist's information to us. I love the community that we're already experiencing with this adoption. While we were grateful for their thoughtfulness, we had already started our process with someone very close to us! WAHOO!

     God is working in so many big and small ways and I wanted to check in and let you know where we are in the process! Now, I've gotta run and go show off my sanity! Have a great week, friends!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ephesians 3:20...Part 2

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

     Before school started, we had put in an offer on a house. While this house wasn't officially on the market, we came to an agreement with the seller that if we sold our house, we would buy their's. We were thankful the sellers were more than willing to work with us and give us a "first" shot at buying their house. It was the PERFECT location...within walking distance to my school. Our children's school. Perfect. Under our contingent contract, we were given x amount of days to sell our house... simply because it was a contingent offer and this family was moving out of state. They couldn't sit on it forever. We understood that, but it seemed like the perfect situation. Great location. 4 bedrooms. Just what we wanted.

     Well Thanksgiving rolled around and our "contingent offer" expired. It was discussed that the owners would try and sell the house on their own. If our house would happen to sell soon, we could still have first "dibs" on their property. As time went on and with no movement on our end, we began to discuss other avenues of trying to make this situation still work out. There just weren't solutions that made sense and we kept praying about it. We really felt like God would provide for us in this circumstance. If it was to be our house, we knew God would make a way for it to happen. At one point in time, this house was even thought to be sold, but something fell through. With each changing scenario, we couldn't help but pray for God's will with this house. Was this all working out for a reason?

    Fast forward to February... It was a Thursday and I was coaching my girls' basketball team. We had just lost a 1 point. As I left the locker room, I sat on the bench (in between games) and got out my phone. I always check my phone in between games to make sure our kiddos have made it home with Eric, etc. I had a message from the seller of "the house". He was apologizing and letting us know that they had sold their home. I immediately texted back a "Congrats!" message. We were so grateful they could move on. We truly were. And honestly, we had just felt like God was telling us "no" on this house.

     Three days later...on Sunday...we were asked to show our house at 1:00. That night, we were asked to show this same couple our house AGAIN on Wednesday. Wow. That was quick, God! On Monday, the couple that came through our house (just on Sunday) put their house up for sale. On Tuesday, they made a "contingent" offer on our house. By Thursday, we had come to an agreement and accepted their contingent offer. On Friday morning, we learned that they had sold their home which meant we had sold our home. WHAT!? Let's recap. We find out on a Thursday that the house we had been looking at has sold. Less than a week later, we have sold our house. Friends, that is ONLY a God-thing. It became crystal-clear that the house with the "perfect" location was not the perfect house for us.

     Now for a few extra God-details...we are in the middle of a master bathroom remodel. It was understood that this project would be finished before we sold it. The message was passed on to anyone that came through our house. Well...our bathroom still isn't finished, but Eric was making headway on it. Well during the second showing of our house, the buyers brought their own contractor through the house. {Scary} They found some issues that quite frankly were just that...scary. The kind of stuff that makes you want to throw up. BUT they wanted the house "as it was"...meaning the bathroom did NOT need to be finished. While Eric wasn't quite sure whether he should be offended, I was praising God! This project had already been dragging on for several months. And finishing it just seemed impossible. And to have a buyer come through and ask us not to finish it? HALLELUJAH! They also waived the home-inspection which helped save money for us. Again, another detail to His perfect plan.

     Things are beginning to fall into place ...and we are so grateful for answered prayers. We'll close on our house in mid-April and move at the end of the month. To where? Well, we will just see! Praising Him as we have about two months to finish up our home study...we're so thankful that selling our house is off our to-do list. Trust me when I say we have SEVERAL other things we need to cross off our to-do list.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ephesians 3:20..Part 1

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

     Life is happening fast. Faster than I can stand. And yet...there's this peace amongst my chaos. A peace that I have in spite of it all...because that's the only thing I've been praying for in the last month. The only thing.

     Peace isn't something that comes naturally to someone who has just been given a task list of 43 items that need to be complete before we can start our "official" home study. That's just not a typical response to such a large, seemingly insurmountable list of to-do items. "Here Lindsay, have some peace. Oh, and by the way, you have x amount of days to complete these tasks."

     Peace? No. The words that come to mind have been more like panicked, stressed, defeated, name a few. And for more moments than I'd like to admit, I've let these words define me. 

     On top of this, you have other happenings. Lots of other happenings. For example, LIFE. (read: teaching, coaching, being a mom, being a wife, and selling a house) See? Happenings. 

     Selling a house you might ask? And trying to get ready for a home study? We like to make things interesting, don't we?! The truth is...we put our house on the market before school started (knowing full-well it may take us a year to sell in this market). This was before we signed on with our adoption consultant and before we applied to our agency. Our oldest starts Kindergarten next year and we'd like to move to the school district where she'll be attending. The same district Eric and I graduated from...and of course, it's where I teach. It's also the community where we attend church and where we spend time with our families. Moving just makes the most sense to us. But things that make sense aren't always easy, right? 

   So here we are...with a house to sell...working towards our home study...with a house to someone can visit our home...which may or may not be sold...needing to take pictures of our living spaces and bedrooms to send to our agency and to South Korea...which may or may not be in our current house... Dilemma. Stress. Life.

     But remember, HE is able to accomplish far more than we could even ask or think. I can't wait to share what the Lord has accomplished in our lives this last month. Stay tuned, friends! Our story is a true testimony to His plan and His perfect timing.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Our Foster Mom

     Part of the adoption process is logging hours of coursework and trainings as you wait to become parents...again...or for the first time. Our agency requires all adoptive families to complete what they call a "pre-adoption seminar" outlines their approach as an agency, the overview of each country's program, and a lot of information on adoption in general. Fortunately, since we already know our program, we were allowed to skip the sections on other countries. South Korea is a little special in the way they do things, however, so we got a few extra sections because we chose this particular country's program.

     I thought I understood a lot about South Korea's program from our agency's website and conversations with our case worker and consultant. But one thing I began to realize I didn't understand was the expectation of the foster family. We already knew that the foster family was a big blessing in comparison to other countries because our son or daughter would not be placed in an orphanage. South Korea also has excellent medical care so this was another factor that drew us to their program. In fact, the foster mom is required to take our son or daughter to his/her well-check every month. As I sat in bed listening to our case worker go into detail about the foster family...she began to discuss the strict qualifications for the foster family that would be taking care of our son/daughter. For example, the youngest child could be no younger than 6. Wow. Our youngest is 3! We could not even be a foster family for our own child! Furthermore, our case worker went on to explain that the foster mom would not be permitted to work. Her sole responsibility would be to take care of the child. Again, I hold a full-time job. Now thankfully, I have a great job that allows me to work full-time and have summers off with my children. But, by the standards of South Korea, our current home environment and situation would not be conducive to that which is required of our child's foster family. We also learned that the child typically sleeps with the foster mom so that she can tend to the child's every need. While we were blessed with two great sleepers at a very young age, I began to imagine the exhaustion that the foster mom may likely feel...on my behalf. Exhaustion that I would feel if I was there...with my son or daughter. What a selfless act. Immediately, I began to pray for our foster mom...whom we don't even know...who may not even know our son or daughter yet. But I need to pray for her strength...not just today, but every day. I need to pray that God gives her grace, patience, and unconditional love for a child that she is raising...on our behalf. What a blessing she is to our family already.

     One of my favorite things in this process (so far) has been the unfolding of each detail...because each minute detail allows me to pray in a significant way for every piece to our adoption puzzle- including our foster mom.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

God always knows.

     How about a post that talks about our most recent adoption UPDATE?! Two weekends ago, we sent off our application (finally) to our chosen agency. It felt like we had been hanging out for weeks with this application. And weeks is probably fairly accurate. Our biggest hang-ups were printing a family picture at Wal-Mart (I kid, I kid) and the special care checklist. This special care checklist was beyond overwhelming. Beyond. I remember sitting down late one night to tackle another small section with Eric...and just sobbing about whether we should say "no" to some conditions and "yes" to others. Battling guilt and wondering WHO would adopt these babies with certain conditions was heart-breaking. I sent out a quick email to our consultant asking for guidance and direction. We are working with someone wonderful from Christian Adoption Consultants. Bless her heart, she responded right away and assured us it was OK to say no. God calls different people to care for every child. We muddled our way through a few more  conditions and then turned in for the night.

     Shortly after Christmas day, we hosted Christmas with Eric's sister and parents. It was the perfect time to dust off our special care checklist...because Eric's mom, brother-in-law, AND sister are all nurses. We were SO thankful that Eric's sister (who is a NICU nurse) could go over the checklist with us. She went into great detail over every single condition on the 5-page, SINGLE- SPACED, list. It saved us a lot of time from googling and we got to talk with a person about things that weren't all scary! We had such peace after our conversation with her. Phew! Thanks, Em!

     With our family picture in tow, Eric sent our packet on its way. Our consultant had touched base with the agency to let them know our app was in the mail. She advised us that if we didn't hear back from our agency by this week...we should let her know. Well, on Tuesday, as my Kindergarten kiddos went off to lunch, I noticed I had a voicemail from a familiar number. It was our agency. I immediately felt excitement...they must have called to let us know they received our application! I quickly checked the  message and our case worker said that she "already had an update" for us. I wasn't quite sure what this meant...but wondered if they had already approved us.

     Thankful it was my lunch break, I returned the call and talked with our case worker. She had shared that they received our application on Friday. Everything looked great. She then went on to say that she had gone ahead and sent our application to their agency in South Korea to get the ball rolling.

     *Sidenote: We chose an agency who had a South Korea program. However, South Korea does not allow this particular agency to work with families in Ohio, unless we get special permission. We were told this wasn't a huge deal (it had been done before), but it would take fact, up to 6 weeks...yikes. Although the approval didn't usually take that long, that was the time frame they had to give us.*

     Sooo... as I was on the phone feeling giddy that our application had even made its way to the agency and that our case worker had kindly sent it to South Korea already....she continues on to say that she had ALREADY heard back from South Korea! Up to 6 weeks?! How about TWO DAYS!? We were approved by South Korea! I was all kinds of excited. I think I sent Eric about 30 emojis with the kiss face. HA! God showed up and showed OFF, friends! I had been praying specifically about the timing of this approval and he answered it. Even our case worker couldn't believe she had already heard back from them in such a short period of time. I emailed our  consultant and overused the exclamation mark but it was warranted. She approved of my exclamation mark usage too. What a huge answer to our prayers!

     So what now?! Now, we finish up our online training and begin the home study. Dun, dun, dun, dunnnnnnn. We're still prayerfully considering which home study agency is best for us. We've had some really great talks with one agency in particular. Would you pray for clarity and discernment with this decision? The home study is a long and grueling process and we want to work with the right agency for us.

     Friends, I am fully aware that our journey is still long...but this quick approval was such a HUGE blessing already. I am finding the good in every single step of this glorious unfolding because I know it's growing our character and our relationship with the Lord. God knows what we need and when we need it. That is for sure!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

And one.

3:00 AM.

     Wide awake. I debated on whether to capitalize on my alertness and do something more productive. Something more productive than taking up space in our bed...not sleeping.

4:00 AM.

     Still not capitalizing on productivity...but still not sleeping, either.

Buzzzz. Buzzzz.

My phone vibrated on my nightstand...indicating I had an email. Since sleep and I weren't friends, I decided to define productivity as: checking my email at 4 o'clock in the morning. Oh the joy it would be to see what kind of spam message I was getting at such an odd hour. But behold! It was my encouraging word from KLOVE. *Well played, KLOVE...well played.* I opened it to find this verse from Matthew 7:7.

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." 

     I can assure you that this verse did NOT send me into a deep slumber. But it did send me into a deeper state of thought about what God might be speaking to me at this wee hour of the morning. 

     A few years ago, as a Valentine's day present, Eric and I went to a Francesca Battistelli concert put on by a local Christian radio station. One of the opening bands for Franny was Love and the Outcome. *Can I just say that we love hearing their music on the radio because it's like we knew about them first!? Ok, not really. But it's still cool to think that we heard Love and the Outcome's music before they hit the "big time" radio stations. Anywho,  I digress.* The super sweet husband and wife duo played a few of their songs to open things up. Eric and I both really enjoyed their music. Since this particular concert was in February, Love and the Outcome's album wasn't due to come out until later that year. I remember being a little bummed that I had to wait so long for their album. But nonetheless, I quickly plugged their release date into my phone. That way, I could purchase their album as soon as it came out...and you can bet your bottom dollar I did just that. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I flipped quickly through the songs we hadn't heard yet. I tend to "taste test" my music when I buy an album...each song only gets about 30 seconds of air time until I go to the next one. Once I've tried every song, then I go back and play them all the way through. As I began to play their song Ask, I quickly passed the 30 second "taste test"...and before I knew it, the song had ended. And then I found myself pushing back to hear it again. And again. And again. The words in the chorus were filled with encouragement I needed to lean on:

There is a purpose in our seeking
There is a light beyond this door
We have a promise in our knocking
He wants to give us so much more
If we just ask, ask
If we just ask, ask 

     As I said, this was a "put on repeat" kind of song for me...especially as we began to struggle with infertility. With every failed pregnancy test, I came back to this song time and time again. But after a year had passed, I began to feel like a broken record. In fact, I began to feel just...broken. So instead of asking...I pulled back and waited. I prayed for peace and understanding. I asked for forgiveness for all of the bitterness I was feeling. But somewhere between bitterness and feeling selfish for asking for something that clearly wasn't meant to be at the time, I quit. I quit asking.

     So enter again, this verse from Matthew, that came across my phone on a night when sleep seemed impossible. Thankfully, the words of truth seemed to come at a most opportune time and reminded me of the song I had leaned on for so long. The same song that had collected dust for the past year or so when I declared that I was done asking. Done. So much so that when this song came across my iTunes playlist, I'd quickly push Next. I didn't want to hear it anymore. I was trying to move on. I had been there and "asked" that already. But the words in Matthew 7:7 encouraged me to play the first verse of Ask in my head that night. The same first verse that got me past that 30 second taste test a few years ago:

What do you need?
What fears do you hide?
When you're on your knees
What tears do you cry?

Our Father knows your deepest hurt
Before you've ever said a word
But still He wants to hear your voice

When I think about what it is that I truly desire...I feel like I've asked a million times.  I'm confident that God already knows my heartache. And I'm confident that He already knows the desires of my heart. But perhaps, God was whispering to me that night with these powerful words from Matthew 7:7..."Lindsay, ask me again. Ask me and make that one million...and one."