Saturday, May 7, 2016

The love in my heart

Mother's Day is a hard day for me. Mostly because I'm not yet recognized by society as a mother. I don't have a baby bump. I don't have kids in my house. I haven't even been matched with a referral. But a friend recently shared this quote with me and it resonated on a very deep level: "A mother's love is not measured by the number of children she has in her arms but by the love in her heart." While I wrote this post several months ago, I feel like it was in anticipation of this difficult day and the quote goes perfectly alongside it. 

I'm a mom.

I'm a mom who hasn't met her children yet, but loves them with every fiber of my being.

I'm a mom who prays for her kids daily even though I don't even know what they look like, how old they are, their gender or their names.

I'm a mom who reads parenting books, adoption books, etc, because I want to be the most understanding parent I can be when my kids finally arrive.

I'm a mom who worries for her kids; are they being fed, loved, and well cared for..even though I don't know if they are boys, girls or one of each.

I'm a mom who is setting up a room for when our kids finally arrive, buying little trinkets of our love for them even now, thinking about paint colors, bedding, and cute wax print clothes I can have made for them, even though I don't know what size they will be when they come home.

I'm a mom who is "talking" to her kids in the form of writing them letters weekly about what is going on in the adoption process, the setbacks, the victories, the joys and trials. Sharing with them the people that even right now love them, are praying for them and are anxious to meet them. 

I'm a mom who is thinking of fun activities, projects, games and pinning teachable activities for our kids. Thank you Pinterest! 

I'm a mom who desperately longs for her family to be together and hurts every time some one says something so careless like "Don't have children because they are handfuls," or "Ugg my kids drive me crazy," or "You're lucky you don't have kids. You can sleep late, travel and do whatever you want!"

I'm a mom who has to lean on God every second of every day to get through the day so the waves of *insert whatever emotion you want* don't overwhelm me.

I'm a mom. I may not have a pregnant belly, but I'm paper pregnant. I'm a mom in waiting. I'm an expectant mother.

I'm a mom.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Getting up

January 22, 2016

The last month has been really hard for us. Processing what the news of infertility means for our family has not been an easy road to walk. It doesn’t help that there is almost no one here near us that can understand. But we are thankful for our family and friends in the States that have reached out to us, prayed with and for us and carried us through this last month.

The only way I can describe how I feel is this:

I was standing at the top of the stairs and someone pulled the rug out from under me and left me tumbling down landing flat on my back at the bottom, broken, bloodied, battered and bruised.

How do you get up from something like this? How do you even get to one knee? These are all questions I’ve been asking myself over the last days and weeks. How God do I do this?

I don’t have an answer yet. All I know to do is to try to pray, even if that means crying and allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede for me. And to keep trying to trust that God has a reason for all this pain we are going through, that through all this we may become more like Him that His glory may be shown one day. The only thing I know to do is to take one day at a time with Him leading the way.
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Monday, March 28, 2016


I wrote this on December 30, 2015:

For Christmas we decided to make an ornament that summed up our year, whether with a picture or a word. We both came back with the same word…pursuing.

2015 for us was a year of pursuing. We pursued where God would have us work in this vast northern part of Senegal.  When we first arrived in our new city, we felt overwhelmed with the possibilities, with starting over from scratch. So we prayed and drove, which we love and is when God gives us creative out of the box thinking. We decided to start with research, figuring out where the Fulbe villages were in this place. We started mapping out villages in the desert and along the coast. We entered around 50 new villages and about half of those are places that want us to come back to teach in. That’s a lot of work!! We also had three new believers pursuing God alongside us, growing and learning and sharing with those around them. Pursuing their own relationship with the Father! Thank you Lord for your direction and provision!

We pursued our adoption further, including having our home study, getting 15 documents notarized at a whopping $50/piece (thank you American government for charging for a service that’s free in the States), new doctors appointments, more notarization, police clearances and finally getting fingerprinted and submitting our I800A as our final piece before submitting our dossier. Whew! It meant a lot of time spent travelling back and forth to Dakar, which thankfully, in God’s divine providence, we are much closer to! Thanks for looking out for us God!

We pursued relationships with co-workers, inviting people into our home, visiting in the capital, taking advantage of our closer location to build relationships with people we didn’t know or didn’t know well. We said some hard goodbyes as beloved co-workers left the field for various reasons to head back to the States. It was the first time since arriving in Senegal that we began to have a feel of community and family from people other than nationals. And we are so so thankful!

We also pursued answers as to how God was going to add to our family. We received an answer that we weren’t prepared for, but that we in the process of coping with. It seems that God’s plan is to build our family strictly through adoption. And we are grieving that loss, while still trying to trust in His goodness. He doesn’t always promise the answer will be yes, but He does promise an answer. Thank you for your prayers as we process His plan.

As the year wrapped up, we were reminded that even in pursuing God the road isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Sometimes in our pursuit, we get an answer that we weren’t expecting, that takes our breath away and leaves us struggling. Those are the times where our faith, our dependence, our ability to let go of control, is tested. And those are the times where we grow. Lord please be with us as we grow.
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Monday, March 7, 2016

The deepest thanks

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions, from extreme joy to doubt and back to joy again. I've cried tears of fear and tears of happiness. I've been nothing but smiles and nothing but worry. Needless to say, I'm kinda tired!

First of all, we want to say thank you! Thank you for being so excited for us and our adoption. Thank you for making us feel so loved. Thank you for recognizing that we are soon (hopefully soon!) to be parents! When we announced our adoption, we received so many notes of congrats, so many kind and loving words, that we were overwhelmed and overflowing with appreciation! We felt completely and totally loved. We are so excited to be able to introduce our kids into such a loving community!

Speaking of kids, we were so humbled by all the support we received when we suddenly had to raise funds to be able to apply for two kiddos! In a week, you supported us by raising $5000. You wrote especially kind words and notes of encouragement. You shared our campaign with others. You prayed for us and this goal. And you sent us love. I have to be honest and say that around day 4 and 5, I was convinced that we weren't going to meet the goal. Extreme doubt and fear clouded my mind. But someone asked me about our process, and as I was speaking about all our trials and how God had been faithful, I realized that I didn't need to fear or doubt Him. He gave me a promise in December that He had control over my family. He knew what our hearts so longed for and He would take care of it. That He had this. And He does. He has proven himself faithful so many times through this process, and He showed Himself faithful again. After GoFundMe took out their percentage, we were left with $5034. Just over what we needed. There are no words to express the full extent of our gratitude to everyone who contributed, either by funds, sharing or praying. We are so so humbled by the amazing support for our growing family!

Our CONGRATS email!

Our dossier was mailed on Friday, Mar 4th to Burundi. We've been told it will take about a month to process the information and either approve or deny us. If approved, then we'll be put on a waiting list. We don't know how long it will take to get a referral. It could be 6 months or it could be 2 years. We do know though, that God's timing is perfect. So we will wait (as patiently as we can) for Him to provide and fulfill the promise He gave to us.

And please don't forget to say "Congrats" to my parents and Brock's parents. They are going to be grandparents!! I know they would appreciate your words of support and encouragement!
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Saturday, March 5, 2016

What my morning sickness looks like

I wrote this in August 2015:

So it was a hard day and I was feeling blue. But my wonderful mom reminded me that every parent has to go through the yuck to get their kiddo. Most women have to go through morning sickness, swollen ankles, weird craving, etc. My yuck just looks different. The more I thought about this, the more comforted I was and my optimism slowly returned. Thanks Mom!

My morning sickness, tiredness and swollen ankles looks like this:

1. Finding out that your physical is out of date, having to drive 2 hours into the capital to get a new physical that takes 15 minutes and then drive 2 hours back home.

2. Waiting for hours at an obscure office in the capital in hopes of getting a paper that says you are not bound by the national adoption laws, but rather the laws of your own country. Then calling every week and being told that it's in process, only after two months to never actually get the paper and give up.

3.  Spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars just to get things notarized by the US Embassy because they charge you for this FREE service in the US when you live overseas.

4.  Waiting...lots and lots of hear back from governments, offices and agencies. 

5.  Sitting at the computer for endless hours, filling out paperwork, your life story over and over again, all the addresses you've ever lived at since you were born, all the jobs you've ever had, all the anything! Pages and pages of paperwork...for each of us!

6.  Letting people you don't know into the most private areas of your life; your finances, your marriage, your health. And trying to remember that they really don't care and you don't need to justify how much money you have in your savings/checking because they really couldn't care less!

7.  Did I mention the waiting? And more waiting??

8.  Applying for endless grants and doing fundraising because adoption costs as much as a really nice new car and we certainly don't have that kind of money upfront mainly because we live overseas and work for the church. These grants come with their own paperwork and emailing and more waiting and talking about yourself and more waiting!

9. Asking people in the US to help you because you live overseas and it's terribly hard to coordinate a lot of things like fundraising and mailing things to agencies and governments when you aren't actually in the US.

10.  Being exhausted emotional and physically from the stress, the worry, the thinking of it all. My mind is constantly on our adoption and our kids. Did I fill out this paperwork right? Will we get the things in on time? Are our kids being taken care of? Are they eating, bathed, loved? Did I remember to fill out a particular blank? Sleepless and/or restless nights are a part of my new normal. Being tired all the time is a part of my new normal.

11. And more waiting and waiting and waiting....

So we will go through our yuck, the rites of passage in becoming a parent, because we know our munchkin(s) is worth every bit of second spent waiting, every bit of being frustrated, every bit of feeling uncomfortable. Because we know that once we have you in our arms, every bit of the yuck will fade away and you’ll just be here and nothing else will have ever mattered.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A bit of our story

I wrote this in July 2015 right before we had our home study:

All my life, I thought I never wanted to have kids biologically. Something about the pain of childbirth, gaining weight when I already struggle daily with that issue, and pain (did I already mention that?) caused me never to really have that desire to birth a child. Don’t get me wrong.. I’ve always always wanted kids. But I thought from an early age that my future family would include only adopted kids.

Enter my hubby. Before we even got married or really started dating, he had expressed that he wanted to adopt one day. It’s a small part of what drew me to him.  We both wanted to give a child that has no one to love him/her a family and more love than they might be able to handle! But he also wanted biological kids. For the first 4 years of our marriage when we talked about kids, it was always adopted kids. But I knew that he still longed for biological children. 3 years ago we started our adoption journey. 2 ½ years ago we were told there was a baby girl in our country that needed a family. 2 ½ years ago our hearts were crushed into a million pieces when we didn’t get to take her home. 2 ½ years ago I lost a child. 

It took me a year to get over that pain. I couldn’t look at a baby, hold a baby, be around kids without my heart feeling like it was tearing in two for a year. My grief was real. It was intense and it left me devastated. But somewhere in the midst of all my pain, God began working on my heart. Maybe it was the tiny little fingernails, tiny little pouty lips and tiny miniscule curly hair. Whatever it was, I came to realize how selfish I was being in not wanting biological children. All my reasons were about me. Pain and weight gain. Those were my reasons. So somewhere in the midst of my grief I surrendered my heart to the Lord and asked Him to give me whatever family He desired for us.

Honestly I thought that because this was a huge thing for me, I would get pregnant right away. But that didn’t happen and it hasn’t happened for two years.  We don’t fully know what God has planned for our family right now. There are days when it’s hard especially when so many around us are having kids, whether planned or unplanned.

Almost a year ago now, we started a new adoption process with a different organization and are weeks away from a home study (Yay!!), but there is still unexpected grief sometimes. We know that this is the path that God has us on right now and we are excited. But we still mourn the loss of what this means for our family. We will never get to see our child’s first smile, hear their first words, or see them take their first steps. We won’t get to see their tiny baby fingers with all their little wrinkles and oh so tiny fingernails. We won’t get to swaddle them until they fall asleep in our arms. We won’t get to be there for their first tooth, first fall, or see their tiny pouty baby lips. I'm a mom, right now even, who will miss the first 2-5 years of her child's life. And that hurts in the most real way possible. 

It’s a kind of grief that I cannot even really describe. While friends are getting pregnant and having babies and doing all things baby, I’m sitting alone, wishing I had my baby, my babies in my arms, wishing that I could buy tiny baby shoes and baby onesies. Wishing so badly that my family was together instead of miles and miles apart while trying to be genuinely happy for my friends whose families are together. It overwhelms me sometimes in unexpected moments. Seeing a mom kiss her infant’s nose, hearing a dad in a movie talk about his daughter being born. It brings huge uncontrollable tears because I know we won’t have that with our child.

At the same time, we have peace…if that’s even possible. Peace because we know our children are waiting for us, or will be waiting for us. Peace because we know that our God is in control of our family and our journey and story will be unique and wonderful. Peace because we know God hears our pain and sorrow and longs to fill it with joy. Peace because we know that while we will miss a lot of baby firsts, we won’t miss all of them. We will still get enough firsts to last a lifetime with our kiddos. Peace because we trust that God is asking us to hold out a little longer until our family is together. So we’ll cling to that peace when the grief rocks us and threatens to over take us. We’ll cling to the trust we have in the One whose timing is always perfect. And we’ll pray for our children, through the sorrow and trust, we’ll pray for our little ones until we can be together as a family.
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Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Big News!!!

I know many of you know already, but we wanted to announce it just like any other couple would announce a new member coming into their family! 

It's taken far longer than we anticipated in getting to this point (kinda the story of our lives!!), but my dad always reminds me that this time of waiting is a time for growth, to become the parents we need to be, to grow us closer to Christ, for God to work things out with our kids, etc and so we try not to get bogged down in the wait (try!!) but instead look for Him to work. 

How far along are we? Well we are just about ready to submit our dossier to Burundi! It "should" take about a month for the dossier to be submitted and registered and then we'll begin the wait for a referral. We don't know how long that might take, but we know God is in control of this all and that's all that matters. 

Boy or a girl? Age? We don't know. We want to be surprised on gender :) We did ask to be matched with 5 yrs and younger!

Just one right? Nope we said we were open to siblings! We are praying (please join us) that God will give us siblings and bring our family home all at the same time. Yes this makes us nervous. Yes we might be slightly out of our minds. Yes we trust that what He has laid on our hearts, He will make us capable of! We are currently trying to raise funds in order to proceed with siblings. We need to raise $5000 by the end of the month. If you'd like to help us bring our kids home, we would cherish your support!!

Due date? We don't know yet. Like we said, we should be on the wait list for a referral in a month after our dossier is submitted. The referral time is different based upon what children are available and what kind of care you can and are willing to provide. It could be another year or more before we bring our kids home. 

All in all, please be praying with us in our journey! Pray that God would open doors for our kids and us to be united quickly. Pray that the right people will get our paperwork and work efficiently. Pray for our children to be safe during this process, that they are loved by those around them, have their needs met and are healthy. Pray for their biological family who will have to endure some crisis in order for our kids to need other parents. Pray that God will comfort them during this crisis, and even in the crisis, they will sense His love for them and for our kids. Pray also for Burundi, which has undergone some bit of violence last year. Ask for peace, for calm hearts and for the situations to be diffused. 

All in all, please pray for our adventure of bringing our kiddos home!

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