Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Purpose-Driven Cosmos

Dave just yesterday read THIS wonderful article in Christianity Today by Russell Moore. The whole article is great, but the last few paragraphs stuck out to us as being particularly meaningful. These next 3 paragraphs are all straight from the article.



"The kingdom of God, both now and in the age to come, is ultimately about what Paul calls being "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3-4)—finding your life and mission in Jesus' own, not in fitting him into the kingdom you design for yourself. For too long, we've called unbelievers to "invite Jesus into your life." Jesus doesn't want to be in your life. Your life's a wreck. Jesus calls you into his life. And his life isn't boring or purposeless or static. It's wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.

Seeing our lives now, and the universe around us, as precursors to the life to come, we're freed from the ingratitude that turns away from God's good gifts. We pour ourselves into loving, serving, and working because these things are seeds of the tasks God has for us in the next phase. At the same time, we don't invest any of those things with infinite meaning. My life's meaning isn't found in the brief interval from birth to grave—in a happy marriage, a satisfying job, or the kind of "success" my in-laws would recognize at the Thanksgiving table.

Instead, I can give thanks to God for a life, a universe, and a flow of history that are, in the long run, Christ-shaped. I long for the arrival of the kingdom that has long bubbled around us, invisible as yeast. And I yearn for the moment when, an heir to the throne of the cosmos, I join with my brothers and sisters—and our Galilean pioneer—to sing out, "Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for yesterday we were dead."

I knew the name Russell Moore sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it until I "googled" his name and realized that he wrote "Adopted for Life," which was the book that really changed Dave's perspective on adoption and has been an integral part of our adoption journey! What a beautiful, "divine coincidence." :)


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Buy 3 Get 1 FREE Coffee (that also helps us raise funds)!!

If you order 3 bags of coffee from "Just Love Coffee" you'll get a 4th bag of the roaster's choice for free! So, if you're like me and you like to stock up, now is the time. :)  Just use our link on the right to buy 3 bags of coffee and they'll add a 4th bag for no additional cost. ($15 of the sale will go to help fund our adoption!) The deal expires tomorrow (Sunday, February 26th) at Midnight Central Time, so there's no time to waste! :-)
Here's the link to the ad. 
And another link to our online coffee store... just in case. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Give me Jesus

No one could have said it better, more simply or more beautifully.



-Fernando Ortega

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy (Belated) Valentine's Day!

Happy Belated Valentine's Day! Dave and I had quite a low-key evening. He made a delicious steak salad for me and then we watched a couple of very emotional episodes of "Friday Night Lights." So, it was a good night for us. I feel like blogs look better with a photo, so even though this is from the fall, and has nothing to do with Valentine's Day, I thought I'd include it anyway. We're at TPAC in this photo to see the ballet's performance of "Cinderella."

It was just a few days ago that I wrote about trust in the midst of difficult trials. And if I remember correctly I wrote about how we are made so much stronger through our life struggles and we can become better people. Well, this theme has come up several more times in the past few days!

We received a very kind email from David's grandmother who sent us these encouraging verses.

1 Peter 1: 3-7
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

I'm beginning to feel very convicted that in the trials we have experienced I have gone to a place of self-pity instead of a place of true acceptance of suffering as part of the building of my faith. Last night as Dave and I were reading these verses together it was as if a light bulb went off that said- DON'T WASTE YOUR TRIALS! Of course, it's ok to be sad and cry about whatever loss you may be experiencing. But, we are praying that we will not forget that suffering can lead to the greater good of the strengthening of our faith. Of course, if I had it my way I'd prefer to lose the trials, but where does that leave me? I would be quite a shallow person if I never truly experienced suffering and had to trust God's goodness despite bad news and having to be patient. Sometimes I also think I prefer to just be stubborn and angry at God until He moves in the way I'd like Him to do. But, seriously? Where did I learn that what I want is more important than trusting God!?

I'm having some pretty serious moments like this...


....feeling my failure in response to suffering. And I'm realizing that God's true plan for my life doesn't have to do with healing the physical, but instead of healing the spiritual. This is something I have always KNOWN in my head, but I'm hoping that this truth is starting to go deep into my heart.

Does this mean I will never cry and feel sad over the loss of biological children? No. Or the loss of things not going how I want them to? No. Does it mean that I won't be jealous of friends that are able to have pregnancies and babies so easily? No. Does it mean that when significant dates pass (like birthdays and Christmas) where I anticipated that we would have already brought our child home that I won't feel sad and mournful? No. Does it mean that we no longer need the support and outreach from friends and family? No. Does this mean that I will ALWAYS remember this truth and that it will always remain fresh in my heart? Unfortunately, no. (Sorry, that's a lot of no's!)

But, what I hope this DOES mean is that I (am trying to) trust that:

1. This suffering is done for our greater good and for the strengthening of our faith (which we desire to be of greater worth than GOLD!) and we accept it as part of our life journey and journey to parenthood.
2. Our suffering doesn't come near to comparing to the suffering of Christ on the cross and His sacrifice for us. So, the least I can do is trust Him in His love and mercy for us as appreciation for His great sacrifice!
3. Even when we fail and our faith seems to be so small, we will offer to God that small faith and ask him to make that mustard seed into a mountain!

Seeing God's confirmation that this is what we're supposed to be learning is good. Dave and I have been praying for a specific verse for God to give us. I wish it were the verse, "And God will grant you all the desires of your heart." But alas, no, He has provided us with verses about suffering and the strengthening of our faith, so we better hold on tight. It looks like this might be a bumpy ride!

I found this quote on another blog today, confirming what we're learning-

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.”

― Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trust

Yesterday I wrote about loss and its significance to the community in supporting one another. This has been a valuable lesson to us as we have walked down lonely roads at times.

In the past few days I've also been thinking a lot about trust, specifically trust in God. How do you truly trust God no matter what tragedy happens in life? I know a woman who trusts God so much she never seems to get sad. Even when her husband lost his job and her sister-in-law passed away unexpectedly in a house fire, she just had a smile on her face and said, "This is God's will." Now, I personally don't agree with the outlook that you should never be sad when faced with loss. Even Jesus wept at his friends' sadness and He understands that loss is sad and needs to be mourned!

But, how DO you trust God even when you go through what seem to be impossible situations? When you get bad test results, find out your spouse has been cheating, lose a loved one or find yourself unable to pay your bills, how do you TRULY trust God and that He will take care of you, never abandon you and that everything will be "ok?" I have no idea! I have some trite answers that we believe to be true in our heads, but are so hard to believe in our hearts, but I don't know what the means in practical day-to-day living. We know in our head that God's desire is not to be happy, but instead for us to be completely content and whole by loving Him. But, it sure is hard to find consolation in the "presence of God" that can seem so imaginary in the midst of trying times.

I obviously don't have the answers. All I know is that people that have gone through the biggest trials tend to have the biggest faith. I don't know about you, but I think I'd prefer the smaller faith and the smaller trials, thank you very much! :) But, unfortunately, life doesn't tend to go as we plan and trials tend to choose you instead of you choosing the trials. And we must press on in faith no matter what we go through and choose contentment and joy instead of bitterness and despair. And you know what? I don't really know how to do that very well yet!

Anyway, this likely sounds like rambling, but I believe that true faith is the faith that has been challenged. And through our fertility challenge and now our waiting process, we are still constantly being challenged. And I know that even after we have our children, there will continue to be many challenges and tests of our faith. I just hope I will "prove faithful" in the end.

“I do believe; help my unbelief.”
Mark 9:24b

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Loss

Every member of the adoption triad has experienced significant loss. The birthmother is dealing with the loss of raising her birthchild, the adoptive parents have (likely) gone through the loss of being able to have biological children, and the child has even experienced the loss of being raised by his/her biological parents. Even though in many cases, adoption is the best choice for everyone involved, it doesn't make it an easy process. Everyone must accept the losses of the process and deal with it in a way that is healthy and appropriate to them.

Just a couple of days ago I read a really touching chapter of a book about loss/mourning. This chapter had a great deal of significance to us this week, but instead of explaining the passages I will share them with you. If you have ever experienced a great loss you will likely relate to this.

"When you're mourning, when something terrible has happened, it's on your mind and right at the top of your heart all the time. It's genuinely shocking to you that the sun is still shining and that people are still chattering away on Good Morning America. Your world has changed, utterly, and it feels so incomprehensible that the bus still comes and the people in the cars next to you on the highway just drive along as if nothing's happened. When you're in that place, it's a gift to be asked how you're doing, and most of the time the answer comes bumbling out, like water over a broken dam, because someone finally asked, finally offered to carry what feels like an unbearable load with you."

The rest of the chapter is about the importance of saying something, ANYTHING to people when they're going through loss. This spoke to us too as in the last few days we have had several people offer to come alongside us to help carry our heavy load and it has meant the world to us.

"I know we're busy. I know we forget sometimes. More than anything, I think, we so desperately don't want to say the wrong thing. It's impolite, we've been told, to bring up nasty topics like loss and sadness. But if we don't bring it up, what are we left with? We talk about the easy things, the happy things, the weather, and then we leave one another totally alone with the diagnosis or the divorce papers.[...]

    So when there's bad news or scary news or when something falls apart, say something. Send a note. Send a text. Send flowers. And if you don't know what to say, try this 'I heard what happened, and I don't know what to say.'"

Taken from "Bittersweet" by Shauna Niequist

Saturday, February 11, 2012

53 Degrees

Yes, THAT was the temperature in our house just a few hours ago. This has been one crazy, dramatic weekend and it's still Saturday!
Friday am- Smelled gas leak near the water heater

Friday pm- Gas company comes and says they can't fix the leak and have to turn off all the gas until a plumber comes to fix it (PS... Friday night low temperature was to hit 17 degrees.)

Friday pm- Call Home Warranty Company to schedule plumbers to come out. They say it's considered an emergency, so someone should be out within 8 hours since we don't have heat.

Later Friday pm- Dave is on his way out of town with guy friends for a trip, hoping I will be home from school in time to meet plumber. However, this turns out to not be the case and Dave has to return home. :(
Friday evening- Home Warranty Company calls back to say that actually no one can come until Saturday morning first thing, so wait for a call until someone comes.

Friday night- Drive to my parents' house to stay the night in a house with HEAT!
Saturday morning- Call Plumbing company since we haven't heard from them and they say someone won't be out until between 12 and 2pm.

Saturday late morning- I bring Dave (by the sweet kindness of his friend Jonah) to the airport to meet his friends for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday afternoon- I am waiting in a house that is about 53 degrees for the plumbing company to call and realize that I will not be able to make it to ballet class waiting around for someone to fix the plumbing.  I call the sweetest mom in the world who offers to come and work in our very cold house so I can go to ballet (which I honestly needed for my sanity today for more reasons than just the lack of heat in here!).

Saturday late afternoon- While on my way home from ballet I call to check in, plumber had to run to Lowe's to get extra parts to fix leaks...

Saturday early evening- Leaks are fixed! Yay! I called the gas company to get the gas turned back on so that there will be heat in our house and I can take a (semi) warm shower before going to see the Nashville ballet with my mom.

Slightly later- Gas company says it will be hours and if the worker shows up to our house and I'm not here, they won't be able to come again until Monday! AH! Does this mean I can't take a shower and also possibly stay home from the ballet? :(
A few minutes later- I get in the care to go to my parents' house to shower as fast as I can before coming back when "gas man" might return.
THANKFULLY, as I was pulling out of the driveway, the gas man was pulling up! He was super nice and helpful and fixed the problem for us. :)

Saturday evening- I still go to my parents' house to shower. Even if the water is luke-warm, who wants to shower in 53 degree house (on its way to getting warmer)!?
My mom and I enjoy a wonderful ballet performance. It kind of made me forget about the rest of this CRAZY day!

And as I go to bed tonight I will thank God for a house with heat! Something I take for granted far too often. :)

(If you read all of this, you are a truly kind person.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Last Week's Komen & Planned Parenthood News

I know this is our adoption blog, so I don't want to regularly write on controversial topics. But, I do want to briefly respond to the story about the Susan G. Komen foundation saying they were going to remove funds from Planned Parenthood and the media blitz that ensued (and then of course they changed their mind and reinstated the funds due to media and political pressure.). I thought that it was interesting how angry so many people seemed to be and found this great opinion article in the New York Times that I wanted to share.

I think the saddest quote for us was to read that "By way of comparison, the organization (Planned Parenthood) also refers pregnant women for adoption. In 2010, this happened 841 times, against 329,445 abortions."

Can you imagine if those 329,445 aborted babies had been given life and how many families could have been made complete through adoption? Or through the birthparents choosing to parent those children? It's a very, very sad statistic. But, we do rejoice over those 841 babies that were given life! (And hopefully there are women that go into Planned Parenthood and leave deciding to parent their child, even if it is a difficult choice.)

I won't get on my soapbox. I'll just let the article say what I was thinking.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Super Bowl?

Have you ever seen the episode of "How I Met Your Mother" where all the friends can't watch the Super Bowl together because they have to attend a funeral? Well, they agree to watch it the following night, SO everyone has to avoid seeing the final score all day long! Of course, it's quite silly and comical. I wanted to show a video of Ted trying to get hot wings from a sports bar all hunched over, wearing dark glasses, noise-blocking headphones and side blinders, but I had no luck finding the clip on YouTube. If you're dying to see it, try to find Season 2, Episode 14. :)

ANYWAY, the funny thing is that today, 2 days after the superbowl I still have NO idea who won! And I haven't even been avoiding it. Dave and I both had extremely busy weekends, so we decided to stay in on Sunday night. And if we had cable (or even a tv antennae) we probably would have watched part of it. But, we do not, so we didn't. :) Instead, we watched Friday Night Lights on Netflix, so I guess you could say we at least watched football!  And since I've been praying in the car instead of listening to NPR, I have not paid attention to the news. And my co-workers (mostly women as I work in an Elementary School) apparently don't care enough about to discuss it either. It's not like I don't want to know, it's just that I honestly don't care too much and now that I'm on a roll, there's no reason to look it up online. I obviously run in much different circles of people than Ted (from the show). :) hehe

In adoption news, it looks like 2 families from Catholic Charities have been matched and/or placed with babies! Which is great news for them and great news for us!  The agency presents profiles to expectant parents in the order in which the families were home-study approved, so that means that we've moved up 2 spots on the list! Birthparents certainly do not need to pick profiles in any particular order. They can choose whoever they want! But, if they're presented with the first 5 profiles and like a couple enough from that 5, they won't even be shown the other profiles on the list. If that makes sense... so it's very likely our paper profile hasn't been shown yet (we're probably about number 17 on the list or something around there?). But, I feel good that it's moved "2 spaces" up on the list! And, of course, I'm thrilled for those couples! It's wonderful news to hear that those waiting for a match/placement get one and that a child is now with his/her forever family! :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

2 Months & Breastfeeding

Several of you have asked me if we would consider breastfeeding our adopted child, and the answer is, "we'll see." In the research that I've done, you have to start prepping your body long before the child comes, starting to pump 2 months before a baby would even try breastfeeding. I guess that the sensation of the pumping will trick your body into producing milk? That's so crazy! But, in order to be successful it looks like you have to take synthetic drugs or strong herbs. I'm not opposed to herbs, but I definitely don't want to be taking synthetic drugs, not just for myself, but because of what I would be passing along to the baby as well.

Considering that in domestic adoption you have NO idea how much time you'll have to prepare for your baby to arrive in your home, it really doesn't seem like a good idea to PLAN on breastfeeding. If we find out 2-3 months in advance of the birthmother's due date (which is the longest that you usually have), then we would probably at least give it a try. But, it's not something we could do if we were told just a few weeks before the baby would arrive. BUT, we're going to try to avoid GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) as much as possible when feeding our child. And since organic formula is QUITE expensive (and there aren't usually coupons for it!), we'll likely be making a lot of our own formula. Thankfully, my sister Deborah found some recipes for us, so I hope she comes to visit soon after the baby arrives so she can help me make these complicated recipes. :)

In other news, we have officially been on the wait list for 2 months without a word from either agency. We don't know if our paper profile has even been shown to a potential birth parents. I COULD ask, but I kind of want to just "let it be." It's hard to feel like nothing is moving in the right direction, but we must accept that there is lots going on we don't know about and continue to pray for our future child and that his/her birthmother is feeling God's love and peace wherever she is right now.

We have officially had over 400 views of our online profile! I know a lot of that is from family and friends, but I still feel like 200 views a month is good. It does make me wonder how many of those views are from birthparents and if so, what have they not liked about our profile? But, I'm trying to just let go of that and know the right child will come into our lives at the right time.

2 months down. ??? months to go!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Prayer

In the past year we went from asking God to bless us with a baby in the right timing, then pleading with Him to work a miracle to cause us to conceive, then to asking for patience and wisdom as to how our family should be built and then to asking Him to bring us the right child soon. But, honestly, none of these prayers seem "right" to me anymore. In recent months I feel like I have no idea what I should even be asking for in my prayers for myself. I know what to ask for the other people in my life, but I feel like when it comes to requests for us, everything I'm praying for seems wrong. Maybe that doesn't make sense. But, when I ask for the desire of my heart it feels selfish.

Should I be asking Him for a child? Because that prayer honestly feels so out of reach right now and a prayer that sets me up for disappointment. Am I asking Him to give me peace? Because that would sure help out! Am I asking for patience? I need that too!

But, I just can't settle on what to pray for. I feel a bit like I'm "out of prayers." The prayers of the past year seem to have hit a ceiling about 1 foot above my head an bounced right back to me, empty and meaningless. Has anyone else had that feeling before?

Anyway, as the new year started I decided I needed to go back to the basics.  So, I started a new discipline. I decided that in the month of January whenever driving in the car, instead of listening to NPR (which I do sorely miss!), I would just try to get through "The Lord's Prayer" as many times as I could. That doesn't mean that I just said it as quickly as I could in my head as many times as possible, but instead to go through it, think about it, and meditate on it. There were many times I didn't make it past "Hallowed be Your Name." There's a lot to think about there in that one line, don't you think? :-)

So, what did I LEARN? How has my prayer life changed outside of the car? So far I've got nothing to share. So, I guess this discipline needs to continue. I still feel like my prayers bounce right back after saying them and I still feel like everything I pray isn't quite "right," but I guess that's the discipline part, right? To keep on going even when you don't feel like it? So, it has become my February discipline as well, and it may just become my 2012 (or lifelong?) discipline. I'm not sure how to pray anymore, but that's how Jesus asked me to, so I'm going to just keep on doing it! And I hope He speaks to me in the process. So, I'm not giving up yet!