Tuesday, December 24, 2013

advent & adoption: the art of waiting


As a child, when I would tell my mom that I wanted a new pair of jeans or new shoes, she would often respond with “Christmas is coming!” Even in July.  It didn’t matter what point we were in the year, Christmas was always coming. Every year we can count on the arrival of Christmas. We are always moving toward the baby born in Bethlehem.

In November we mailed off all our adoption paperwork. After 8 months of answering questions, filling out forms, mailing off for documents, we had completed all the work that goes into preparing the Dossier. We were done. We received word from our agency that our Dossier was officially complete and that we were ready to receive referrals. . We were placed on the Waiting List.    

Waiting is not my favorite. (In my defense, I have yet to meet anyone who says that waiting IS their favorite.) Don’t get me wrong, I CAN wait. But I’d rather not have to. Sometimes I get frustrated with waiting. Example: Yesterday Rob and I were driving and I wanted to watch a video on my phone; it was taking for-ev-er to load. Instead of patiently waiting for the video to load, I repeatedly pushed play hoping that somehow in the last 2.2 seconds it had magically completed the buffering process and would be ready for my viewing pleasure. Nope. Okay, 5 seconds  later? Nope. Dang.  I felt genuinely annoyed that the video wouldn’t load. The way in which I waited affected how much I actually enjoyed the video; when the video loaded and I was able to watch it, I didn’t really enjoy the video. This had nothing to do with the content, and everything to do with how I prepared.  

How then should we wait?

Throughout Scripture there are stories of people who had to wait years for God to fulfill a promise. In fact, that IS the entire story of Scripture---an entire PEOPLE waiting on the coming of the Messiah. Waiting to be saved, waiting for their King to arrive.  All those years of waiting were not wasted, God was still alive and at work in the lives of His people. Over and over again, God’s word reminds us us that God sustains us during the wait, that strength rises during the waiting, and that JOY is coming.

We have HOPE because we know that HE is coming.

 

For the last several weeks, churches around the world have been celebrating Advent. Advent literally means waiting. It is a season of preparing for the birth of a baby. Advent is our time-as individuals and as a community-to prepare for the arrival of our King.

Making it personal.

Advent 2013 has been unique in that I am preparing my heart both for the birth of Jesus and the adoption of our children. I realized at some point that I was faced with two ways of waiting:

Option One: Endure. Stay busy. Spend lots of time on Social Media so that I don’t have to think about my own life. Just count down and get through.

Option Two: Lean in. Learn and grown. Allow this process to change me, transform me. Rely on Jesus. Be present with the wait.

At the beginning of December, I wrote in my journal: I want my kids home where I can snuggle them, love them and teach them about Jesus. The thought of months upon month of unknown waiting feels hard, painful. But I knew this was part of it, and I knew it would be hard. I need to accept this reality and focus on how to WAIT WELL. Lord, what does it mean to wait well?

“Let me show you,” he whispered into the moment, inviting me to lean into him as I learn how to wait.

So here’s what I’ve been doing during Advent:

-          Create space for myself to feel and to think. The primary way I created space was by setting aside time each day to read THIS advent devotional. It has been a good way to slow down and focus on Jesus. Also, the reflection questions at the end of each day are excellent for creating mental and emotional space to process. I have loved journaling my way through Jesus’ family tree.  

-          Lean in to Jesus and allow myself to be known. I am really good at leaning in to others and allowing THEM to be known, or running to social media as a way to avoid thinking or feeling my own thoughts/emotions. I have been intentional about connecting with Jesus and my husband during this Advent season.  I have spent time with family and friends. I am trying to be aware of when and how I am using my phone, and if there is something that would be healthier to do instead.

The other day I told my mom: On the outside it doesn’t look like I am ready for Christmas, but in my heart this is the most ready I have ever been.

On the outside, I am not a mom but in my heart I am becoming one.

Waiting is ACTIVE. There is something in me that is coming ALIVE during the wait. Praying that as you wait, you will lean into Jesus. As you wait, you will grow in His strength and know how much He loves you.

The greatest gift ever given came at Christmastime.

Get ready, y’all,
CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!
 
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

finding healing

life has felt heavy lately.
so heavy, at times, that it has left me paralyzed and speechless.
those who interact with me on a daily basis may or may not have noticed,
because in the midst of this heaviness there is still joy.
I still smile, and laugh, and talk about God's goodness.
and all of that is real. and true.

yet internally there is often another wave of emotion,
it ebbs and flows throughout the day,
this one is full of longing and sorrow, discontent and unrest.

I am learning to be okay with these ebbs and flows,
to allow them to move through me, around me.

I am working on allowing them to push me toward Jesus,
to lean into His embrace when I feel the needy to steady myself.

I have hesitated to share these words here,
nervous to speak them out into the open.
then I re-read these words by Ann Voskamp


"Venting hurts your-self, Biblical lamenting heals your-soul — bravely expressing pain while unwavering in the unrelenting goodness of God."

and I remembered.
I remembered how often I have encouraged others to bravely share their pain,
to create space  to lament.
I have remembered all the times that I witnessed healing through the expressing.

so I will lament.
I will cry out to my Jesus as David did in the psalms.
and I will allow others to hold space for me.
because my soul needs healing.

"Thanks to God is what that calms the wild heart."

and I will give thanks.
I will continue to remember the unrelenting goodness of God.
this morning I began by writing out things I am thankful for.
from the simple things--like flannel sheets--to the more profound--
like the patient love of a Heavenly Father.

I believe that it will be in the lamenting and in the thanking that I will be healed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

why is different so scary?

sometimes I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
anyone else have this problem?
one delay tactic that I often use is to read the news in bed.
I feel like I am being productive while still allowing myself to lay horizontal a few minutes longer.
also, I'm convinced that it gets my brain stimulated therefore helps with the actually waking up process.

whatever. it works for me sometimes.

On Monday morning I opened one lazy eye and read this headline:

Miss America crowns 1st winner of Indian descent.

I'm not that in to Miss America, really, but remember, I was putting off getting out a bed,
so I decided to take a gander.

I saw the picture of Miss Daluvuri's surprised face as she was crowned the winner.
You know the face.
yeah, that one.
the one that we all know she practiced over and over again at slumber parties growing up.
Oh, come one, we all did it.
Yes, even I did once upon a time.
it was 6th grade.
I was a tom-boy trying to fit in.
they were putting on a pageant at the party and they wouldn't let me just be a judge anymore.
I caved.
get off my back already!!

anyway, back to CNN's breaking news:

as I perused down through the article,
my indifference turned to sadness.
and then anger.
as I clicked over and read the hateful twitter onslaught that ensured after the crowing,
I began to write the mother of all responses in my head.
in this eloquent and articulate essay, I detailed all the reasons why these comments were ignorant and untrue.
I had a really convincing argument going about how we are ALL all "immigrants" and "foreigners."
it was good. in my head, I had it all mapped out.

then I realized.
it's not about immigration.
it's not even really about race.
or ethnicity.

it's about FEAR.
these responses were based in fear.
fear of that which is different than us.
fear of someone who looks different.
who has a different cultural heritage.
these people were SO focused on the differences,
that they couldn't even see the similarities.
and that was because there are terrified.



and then I went to teach a class yesterday.
and I saw it again.


I had asked my class to discuss a topic with the person sitting next to them.
as I prompted them to divide up and begin discussing,
I saw it.
it was all over the face of one of my students.
fear.
this student was cloaked in fear; physically he had turned his body away from the person sitting next to him, making it impossible for this other student to engage him in conversation.
and the other student saw it, too.
and he FELT it.

fear.
rejection.
and, I'm guessing, a multitude of other feelings came with that, too.
it did for me.

but mostly, I just felt sad.
really sad.

I saw these two young men.
who I happen to know and think are really great young men.
they look very different on the outside.
yes, one is white. the other black.
they come from very different backgrounds-rural Kansas and big city California.
in so many ways they are different.
but that's what makes it so great.
because in as many ways as they are different, they are similar.
and with each difference there is an opportunity to enrich the life of the other.
to teach, to learn, to share, to connect.

why do we let difference become so scary?

why do we allow difference to keep us apart?

we're missing out on so many opportunities to grow, to learn, to share, to connect in deeply meaningful ways.



as I prepare to parent children who will look very different from me,
I would be a liar to say that I have not struggled with fear at times.
I have.
Sometimes fear starts to creep in to my mind and heart,
and I buy in to that lie that whispers:
what if you can't relate to them because they are different than you?
what if they despise you because they don't look like you?
what if you can't parent them well because the come from a different culture?

those are lies.
lies told by the enemy to keep us from connecting with one another.
from loving one another.
from seeing the beauty in one another.

I refuse to listen to those lies.

when I got home tonight, this book was waiting on my front steps.
it's a beautiful book about "coffee and cream skin" and "marshmallow treat skin"
and "butterscotch gold skin" and "pumpkin pie slice skin."
it's beautifully illustrated to capture the message that you're more than your skin ("you're all that you think and you hope and you dream") but that each of us should be thankful for our skin for it "holds the YOU who's within."




Monday, September 9, 2013

Adoption Journey Update 2.0

On June 25th I posted this update. We had just completed our Home Study and were optimistic that we would be "paperwork ready" by the time school started.

Yeah. About that.

Rob and I have both started back to school.
Me at Tabor. Rob at Hillsboro High.
We are still waiting to hear back from USCIS with our i-600a approval.

So, basically we are still at the same place as our last update.
Which I know doesn't sound that encouraging.

BUT.
The truth is that we feel very encouraged about what God is going. 

While August did not involve sending our dossier to Ethiopia as we had hoped,
the last 6 weeks have been FULL of GOODNESS. 


we see God at work. and it is GOOD.


My dear friends Sara Jo & Amanda hosted a Noonday Collection Party.
Our ambassador Holly was WONDERFUL. So down-to-earth, kind, and fun.
It was a wonderful morning of fellowship, beautiful jewelry, advocacy and more.
 I got a couple fun pieces, too.
The story behind this yellow SHALOM necklace is powerful.
a story of redemption.
of hope.
lives touched by grace and the means to provide income.
every time I wear it I will remember sweet Shalom,
the ugandan child who is with her mom and adoptive dad.
supported by this business.
go check out there new Fall line here. 
Noonday supports vulnerable families in countries around the world. 
And they host parties as adoption fundraisers. 
15% of proceeds from our party went straight back toward our adoption. 

beauty for all. 

- -- -- - - - - - - - - --- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 Last week we held a big fundraiser meal 
at the local Farmer's Market. 
my beautiful grandma came to help us prepare a meal for 200 people. 
2 types of pasta.
3 different sauces. 
salad.
garlic bread.
and cookies. 

cookies upon cookies.




but aren't they cute?!?!
Rob bought the cookie cutter from Sole Hope.
(another great organization serving and loving the "least of these")


we made over $2000 profit from this meal. 
it was incredible. 
our friends helped us plan the entire thing. 
they cooked, baked, and organized. 
they sent out an invitation to our community and church asking them to get involved. 
we were blown away. 
and blessed. 
so blessed. 

So, while August seemed slow on the paperwork side. 
it was really busy in other areas. 

and there is more coming. 

We will be having a booth at the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts fair.
stay tuned for more info soon!

Thanks, again, for journeying with us. 
and allowing us to journey with you. 

love, 
rob and erica

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

steady my heart


my prayer this morning.
even when it hurts
even when its hard
....
I will run to You. 
.......

Monday, August 5, 2013

we're home!

after 23 days and 22 nights,
4500 miles on the highway,
and countless beautiful moments
we are h.o.m.e.





...our trip looked like this...
-camped 2 nights in southern Colorado-
-camped 2 nights at the Grand Canyon-
-spent 1 night/18 hours in Las Vegas-
-spent 1 night with Rob's parents/1day at the beach with Rob's family-
-spent 2 nights/1 day in Bakersfield visiting family/friends/memory lane for Rob-
-camped 1 night in Sequoia National Park-
-camped 2 nights in Yosemite National Park-
-stayed 1 night in Monterey, CA/drove down Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast Hwy)-
-stayed 3 nights with friends in San Luis Obispo, CA-
-celebrated the wedding of Kenny+Seleena-
-stayed 1 night in St. George, UT-
-stayed 3 nights in Denver with friends-
-stayed 1 night in Ft. Collins, CO with my dear, sweet friend-
-stayed 2 nights in Holyoke, CO to celebrate the marriage of Brent+Brittany-


and then we were home. 

and it was good. :)
good to be gone.
good to be together.
good to be home. 
good to have space.
goodness all around. 

I am eager to share stories, 
pictures, 
and lessons from the road.

but, did I mention that our basement imploded/flooded while we were gone?
yeah. somewhere between Utah and Colorado that happened.
so, I'll get to those pictures and photos eventually. 
I'll probably use editing pictures and posting blogs as a *healthy* avoidance of the millions of other things I need to get done. 

can't wait to share more soon!
until then
I should work on unpacking this mess. 


love, 
E


 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

winner, winner

....and the winner is....
 
 
 
the Orrange family!
 
Brent & Courtney,
Thanks for loving us and supporting us on this journey.
You were some of the very first people that we came to with our news about adoption.
You have given us so much wisdom and encouragement.
We love you guys!
enjoy your gift cards. ;) ;)
 
____________________________________________________________________
 
and a HUGE THANK YOU to each and every person who entered.
We are now $1650 closer to being able to bring our 2 kiddos home.
we are humbled and blessed.
thank you for joining us on this adventure.
so much love.

_____________________________________________________________________________

a special THANK YOU to my mother-in-law
who put this entire raffle together
and donated all the gift cards.
Cindy-you really are the BEST.
I am SO incredibly thankful that you're in our corner. :)
we both love you bunches and bunches.
__________________________________________________________________

and today we're off to our appointment at the Immigration office!
biometrics, here we come!!!!
Continuing to take steps toward having them home!
woohoo!
 


Monday, July 8, 2013

our people

I knew when we embarked on this adoption journey,
that it would change me.
Other who have gone before us have said that it is one of the most transformational processes of their life--if not THE most transformational.

We are only--I hesitate to use this word, because it seems to minimize the significance of the last few months, and it has not felt like ONLY, but for lack of a better word, I continue--5 months into this process.
but already I can feel the change stirring, rising in my heart.

Already I am learning much about myself, my husband, our God, and our people.

You guys know what I'm talking about when I say "our people."
Those people that have your back.
That know-maybe even before you do-that you need something.
The ones that laugh at your ridiculousness and cry when you hurt.
The people that are right there, by your side, in the thick of it, figuring it out right along with you.
These are your people.

We have been blown away by the people who have gone out of their way to let us know that they are praying for us and cheering for us.
We have literally been speechless and shocked by the sacrificial giving of so many of you. So blessed and so humbled.
We have been reminded of God's goodness through the love of HIS people, OUR people.

Honestly, the most difficult and humbling part of this process so far
has been trusting God with the finances.
Surveys have shown that many more families would pursue adoption if it were not for the large financial investment that it required.
I totally get that.
I do.
It's scary.

I am daily surrendering this.
DAILY.

Fundraising is not my favorite thing.
In fact, launching the fundraiser last Monday triggered 24 hours of anxiety.
no lie.
or as the Kardashians would say, "Bible."
Yes. I just admitted that I sometimes watch the Kardashians.

But here's what I'm learning in the midst of this whole thing:
it's not about me.
it's not about you all will think of me for writing this, or having an online raffle, or even for adopting internationally.
it's not about my manipulating or controlling things.
it's just not.

if anything,
it's about inviting people to share in the joy of what God is doing.
it's about allowing others to give and to be blessed for their generosity.
it's about allowing our lives to be blessed by the kindness and generosity of others.
This process is about obedience and surrender and joy, and allowing other people (our people!) to come along side us on this crazy journey.
And through it, we get to come alongside THEM, too.
That's what is so great.
Relationships are built, strengthened, rekindled.
We are blessed and in turn we get to bless others.

pretty cool stuff.

So, with that in mind, I'm trying to have a different perspective on this whole "fund raising" ordeal.

For those of you interested in joining the fun & helping us get that much closer to bring home our kiddos,
there are still 2 days left to enter our raffle and have a chance at $200 in gift cards. Click here for more info.

thanks for being our people.
we can't wait for the day when we get to introduce our kids to you.

with all our love,
R & E

Monday, July 1, 2013

Giftcard Raffle! {$200 Winner}

Happy July 1st, y'all!
(and Happy Canada day, too!)
 
It is really hard to believe that 2013 is already half over.
WHAAAT!?!
 
As I mentioned in our adoption update post, we are hoping that our dossier is ready to mail to Ethiopia by the end of August. Woohoo! That would mean we are completely paperwork ready.
 
In order to send our dossier at the end of August, however, we have to be ready to make the next big program payment. So, with that in mind, today we are launching
a Big Giveaway featuring some of our favorite thing/places to shop!
 
By entering the raffle, you could win $25 to EACH of the following places!
That's $200!!!
 
 
 
 
 
back to school shopping?
birthdays?
vacation planning?
there are all kinds of ways you could spend that money!
 
_____________________________________________________________
 
Here are the details on how to enter:
 
-1 entry for each $10 donated through Paypal (link in top right of blog).
 
-1 entry for each time you share the link to this fundraiser via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). Limited to ONE entry per day. Must leave a message via blog or facebook, or link Rob/Erica to post that you shared so I can verify.
 
 
 
Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on July 10th!
 
Our goal for this fundraiser is $3,000! I'll keep you updated along the way!
That's 300 people giving $10
OR
150 people giving $20
 
Thank you!!!
Happy Raffling! :)
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1eb63d0/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 
Feel free to use photos below to SHARE! :)
 

 
 
 
 


Saturday, June 29, 2013

swim-bike-run

last sunday we woke up before the sun to drive to El Dorado State Park for a triathlon.
for those of you who have not experienced race day,
the idea of getting up at 4:30am to go
swim 3/4 a mile,
bike 13 miles,
and run a 5K
probably sounds nuts.
 
 
but then you get to watch athletes of all ages and skill levels
push themselves physically and mentally,
and COMPETE against themselves and one another....
okay, you're right, it still sounds a little nuts.
 
but we do it anyway.
so apparently we're not the only crazies!
there are ALL kinds of people joining in on the fun madness.
seriously.
ALL kinds.
 
 
he came out of the water in 2nd place.
I love watching him swim!
then he transitioned to the bike.
he didn't feel great about his bike miles,
but it was windy and he is still figuring out all the ins & outs of his road bike.
 
 look at that smile :) impressive.
 he had quite the fan club for this race.
his dad, sister and niece were there along with my mom and grandma.
GO ROB!
 his smile has usually faded by the time he hits the run.
it's not his favorite,
but he still looks good doing it! ha.
sharing his medal with Melonie.
what a great uncle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Good job, babe.
I'm always so impressed by your dedication to training
and your will to compete.
you're awesome.
 
who knows, you might actually inspire me to join you sometime.
might.
:)
 
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adoption Journey Update 1.0

Well, it has officially been 4+ months since we announced out loud that we had decided to grow our family through adoption. We have been so incredibly encouraged by all the ways that people have reached out to us in the last 4 months--emails, messages, phone calls, cards, buying coffee, offering to help with fundraisers, giving generously, praying and praying. We are SO thankful! Honestly. We genuinely believe that it will take a village to make this happen--so thanks for being our village.

Because so many of you have decided to journey with us....we wanted to take some time to update you on what the journey has looked like and where we are headed.



February 16-17: We announce to our families that we are adopting.
February 27: We send an email out to our closest friends and family announcing the news; the news trickles out in the coming days and weeks. Our not-so-secret secret is OUT. :)
March 8: We contract with International Family Services (IFS) and receive a mound of paperwork to begin working on.
March 26: We contract with Catholic Charities to complete our Home Study. We mail in our fingerprints and other paperwork to begin that process.
May 23: HOME STUDY visit! After two months of working on paperwork, our social worker visits our home to complete the Home Study process.
June 12: Our Home Study arrives in the mail! It is signed and officially DONE. We immediately mail off our I-600a to USCIS and begin waiting for their pre-approval to bring our kiddos into the home!


So, that brings us to Today:
  • waiting to hear back from USCIS (Immigration Services). Their website says it takes 2.5 months for them to process our petition, though we've heard from others that it can go more quickly. If the website is accurate, then we should hear back from them at the end of August. This will be the final piece of paperwork for our dossier (French word for the big packet that is sent to both the US and Ethiopian governments)!!!
  • continuing to gather all the necessary pieces of paperwork that must be notarized, certified and included in the dossier. We are getting close!
  • applying for grants and planning fundraisers. When our dossier is ready to send in, we must also be ready to pay the 1st half of the agency fees. We have already seen God at work and we have complete faith that this will happen through us working some extra hours this summer, fundraisers, grants, and God inviting people to give generously. We have already been so blessed! We are going to be having a giveaway fundraiser within the next couple weeks, so stay tuned!!!!
So, there ya have it! We are moving right along. Thanks for journeying with us!


For those of you who are committed to praying for us, and would like to receive emails with prayer requests, please send me an email at erica.haude@gmail.com.

with love,
Rob and Erica

Thursday, June 6, 2013

oh, expectations

this week was our first week of summer break.
together, at least.
rob officially started a week before me,
but he stayed busy catching up with things around our house
(and making me lunch each day while I was at work. sweet, huh?)

so, this week we had big plans.
as in: overhaul-our-kitchen plans.
it is Thursday at 9:30pm.
wanna know what we have managed to accomplish in the last 4 days?
 
nada.
 
well, I take that back.
I came home Tuesday afternoon after a few hours in the office to find rob spastically
scraping popcorn plaster off the kitchen ceiling.
it was obvious to me that this was a spur of the moment decision because he had done ZERO prep (camera and computer sitting on the table, no drop cloth down, nothing).
now, this is NOT like my husband, so I knew something was up.
we were both struggling to manage stress.
we just do it differently.
apparently, he randomly starts scraping ceilings...:)
 
the point of my telling you this, was that I wanted to honestly &  accurately report that we do, in fact, have something done on the kitchen project:  a 2x2 foot square of scraped ceiling in one corner.
ha!
 

back to the beginning on the week when I was all "yay summer! woohoo! we are going to get a lot done!"
this enthusiastic attitude about summer lasted approximately 4 hours before I burst into tears.
and this is after tearing up once or twice earlier in the day.
guys, I'm not kidding here.
or being overly dramatic.
Monday sucked.
 
granted, I spent Monday working on adoption grants, which are NOT fun.
totally a blessing. we will be extremely thankful and it will be totally worth it if we are given support for our adoption.
and we know that the interrogation,  thorough questioning is absolutely necessary.
but this makes it no less terrible for the person filling it all out.
 
 the whole analyzeeverythingaboutyourlife and caluclateyournetworth and reexamineexactlyHOWMUCHyouareinvestinginthisadoption is just not fun.
which lead to breakdown #1 of the day/week.
 
 (please, refrain from telling me it will "all be worth it" or "all will be okay."....I know this. I do. I really really do. I believe it. but I still have days where I get overwhelmed and cry.)
 
 
plus, some days I just the ache of wanting kids is just a little worse than others.
just keepin' it real.

I may have blamed Monday on the grants initially,
 
but honestly, after a few days I realized (once again!) that it really is about EXPECTATIONS.
 
 
I had the expectation on Monday that I would just blaze through the adoption grants and get them all ready to mail as soon as we have a copy of our home study.
I had the expectation that we would make some substantial progress on our kitchen this week; enough that there would be a noticeable difference at the end the week.
I had the expectation that I would sleep well at night, wake up early to work out, start my day with Jesus & coffee, and then cross EVERYTHING off my to-do list for each day.
 
uh, no.
when will I ever learn?
 
last night as I crawled into bed I said to rob,
"I'm afraid that this summer will fly by and we'll have nothing to show for it."

I named it.
(I'm a big believer in NAMING things. there is power in words, people.)
I named my fear.
I'm afraid of missing out. losing time. not accomplishing everything on my list.
 
this is not a new fear. or a new issue for me.
this suck-the-marrow-out-of-life way of living is very much a part of my personality.
and it is GOOD.
until it causes me to miss out on life.
 
 
I have been beating myself up all week about how much I have NOT been getting down.
so after I finally NAMED it and spoke it aloud last night,
I spent time this morning re-examining my expectations.
and taking a fresh look at my week.
our summer list includes finishing adoption paperwork (dossier, grants, fundraising plans),
working on several house projects (finish kitchen, paint laundry room/spare rooms, get the kid(s) room(s) ready),
and spending time doing things we love (swimming, reading, traveling, bbqs with friends, games, etc.)
 
this week we have:
*learned more about the dossier process and wrote letters to the Ethiopian government and orphanages *spent several hours working on grants and are steps closer to having some ready to mail *hung out with friends-chatting and playing games *read books in the hammock *bought supplies for the kitchen project *researched and rethought kitchen projects *spent a day with one of our favorite 10 year olds doing some really fun things, including washing our vehicles *cried together because we ache for our kids to come home *been encouraged by friends who are walking similar paths and are teaching us how to do so with grace and honesty *ate meals outside *and took pictures of flower in our yard
(like how I tied these random pics into this post...;)!?)
 
so, while our kitchen does not look any differently than it did at the beginning of the week
(unless you look closely at one corner. ha.)
my expectations have been adjusted.
 
my worth does not rise or fall with how much I accomplish each day.
the value of my day is not in how many things are scratched off my list.
the value of my summer will not be measure simply by how many grants I get done or how many rooms get painted, there is so much more that this summer has to offer.
 
I want to breath into what this summer has to offer.
AND I want to be okay if there are days that feel like a total wash.
because those days will come, too.
I want to find joy and satisfaction in each day I am given this summer (and life in general),
no matter what I accomplish or do not accomplish.
 
If I'm able, by the grace of God, to accomplish THAT then I'll have one beautiful summer.
 
 and even if I don't.
I have a feeling it will still be great.
 
 
How do you handled expectations?
How do you measure whether or summer was "a good one"?
Anyone else have moments/seasons like this? 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

listening

I've learned that the first art of listening is shutting my mouth,
stilling my mind,
and quieting my soul.

if you have followed adoption circles this month
(or orphan care cirlces or, ahem, Jen Hatmaker),
you may have come across a post or two about adoption ethics.


Before you scroll down and start leaving me comments about your opinion of infant adoption, sibling adoption, older child adoption, special needs adoption, transracial adoption or Jen Hatmaker.....wait....
my readers don't leave comments!
ha! what was I worried about?! :)
I kid, I kid...
but really, let me start by making a disclaimer:
this post is not about adoption ethics and I also really happen to respect Jen Hatmaker.

the reality is that her post--and a series of other posts---had me "fit to be tied" this month,
as they say 'round these parts. ;)

and, honestly, it wasn't so much what was being said,
as how the enemy used those voices to steal my joy.
the enemy likes to do that, ya know; take something true or good and twist it.

and if I'm not careful, I let all these other voices (blogs, books, opinions, stories, videos, etc.) become REALLY loud.
I give them center stage and find myself spending hours listening to what they have to say.
and if I am not balancing this out with THE voice,
it can get ugly.

reeeeally ugly.

read: ready to throw in the towel/jump ship/recalculate the route.

and there was a point this month when I was there.
in that place.
overcome with doubt and fear.
the enemy was using the second-guessing and analyzing that was happening in blogland,
to instill chaos and despair in my heart.

I'm guessing there are a few of you out there that have had this happen.
when you start to listen to what is being said around you instead of listening to what you know is true.
maybe people are voicing their opinion about you,
your family,
your decisions,
or something that you feel really strongly about.

and you know what is truth is but it's hard to remember,
or maybe you aren't sure what truth sounds like.

for me, I know truth.
I know that God called us to adopt.
I also really believe that God affirmed our desire to adopt a young child.
but then people start sayin' stuff.
and then I start doubting.
and then that doubt grows into fear.

you ever have this happen?
yeah?

me too.
in fact, this is where I was at about the middle of May.

in fact, I started an email to our program director from IFS.
subject: "looking for reassurance:
basically, I planned to ask her to reaffirm that we were not about to traffick children through adoption. and that we were not perpetuating corruption. and, please SOMEONE tell me that we are doing the right thing?!?!
but as I started the email,
I felt that little tug/nudge in my heart,
and my sweet Father saying, why don't you take some time to listen to me.

boom.

I had turned up the volume on all the other voices,
and in the process I began to frantically look for affirmation in places that would still leave me doubting.
and in the process of all this worrying and freaking-out,
I had managed to drown out THE voice.
(and, no, I'm not talking about the tv show.)

this is not new for me.
unfortunately, I'm a bit of a slow learner in this department.
but I'm thankful that this adoption process is refining this in me.
I'm learning to listen,
because if I don't learn to listen to The Voice of Truth,
then I'm going to get completing lost and overwhelmed.

I know that this whole "listening to Jesus" thing can be a little ambiguous for people.
in Christian-lingo we like to refer to this as the "still, small voice."
and maybe that is the best descriptor out there. I don't know.
but I do know that He speaks.
that he WANTS to speak to us.
if only we will just listen.

the way this played out for me this month was that I got my journal and I sat.
pleading.
confessing.
begging for God to speak.
to show up and help me figure out what was true.

and, friends, He did.
after a couple hours
and several pages in my journal
I was once again reminded that what we are doing--this adopting international thing--this adopting two young Ethiopians--THIS thing is in response to what God initiated.
we are responding to what HE began in our hearts,
what He asked us to do.

and the peace that came from hearing that from Him would not, COULD not, have come from any of the other voices around me.
yes, my husband was able to calm my nerves and remind me of Truth.
yes, I had some really dear friends remind me of Truth and support me on some rough days.
but those voices could not calm my spirit the way THE Spirit did.

so, my question for you today is Who are you listening to?
Is the voice(s) that you listen to Truth?
Do you need to take some time today/this weekend/this week to seek Truth?
He wants to speak to you and He promises that his Voice will give you "peace that transcends all understanding."



oh, and two days after I deleted that email to Randi (our program director) she posted this. God is good.

Happy June, ya'll!

Friday, May 31, 2013

tour de May


it's been silent on here this month (more on that tomorrow),

but it has been far from silent in our world.


we started off May with our first 1/2 marathon as a couple. when I first signed up for this race, my goal was to run it sub-10min/mile pace. for someone who has only run 10miles+ 3 times in her life, this was a strong goal. but by the time race day came around, I was seriously doubting myself. I was just hoping to finish, honestly. training was rough.the adoption journey has been emotionally draining at times + mother nature decided to give us extra doses of winter this year = not a lot of motivation to run on some days. I am a TERRIBLE treadmill runner. terrible. (read: whining, complaining, and quitting early). but, folks, I DID IT! Together, with my supportive/studly husband, we finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes (9:45 pace). and it felt really good. I am ready to keep trying to get faster. :)

 The next weekend we went back to Wichita to watch the STUCK documentary. Wowza. Brutiful, as they say. Watch it. The next morning, Rob headed to KC for a bachelor party, and I spent the afternoon at the park with these two cuties.
then I headed to spend the night with a dear, dear friend. We ate yummy food, drank yummy wine, and talked non-stop for 6+ hours. It was wonderful. I woke up at her house on Mother's Day. On mother's day morning, we went to pick up her precious daughter who is extremely special in my life and has been since before she was born. we share a really special bond. When she saw me (she was surprised) she said: "What are you doing here!?!!" Which was quickly followed up with, "Well it IS mother's day and you are like a second mother to me!" I can't even type the words right now without getting teary eyed all over again. a message straight from God for my aching heart. love that girl. so much.

may has been hard on the adoption front (more on that tomorrow), but we have also had some really exciting things happen, as well. on the 3rd weekend of May, we made our 3rd trip to Wichita to meet and hang out with other Ethiopian adoptive families. it was so great (no pics on here! oops! next time!). the rest of that weekend was spent at graduation parties and getting our house ready for our HOME STUDY!
 
Yes! Our Social Worker came to visit this month, which was a really good reason for us to deep clean the house--windows sparkling, floors mopped, grass mowed, fresh flowers in a vase. Some good ol' spring cleaning! And after our visit and some revisions, we are just days away (fingers crossed) from having our Home Study signed, sealed and delivered.


Our social worker visited us the day before we celebrated 5 YEARS OF MARRIAGE!

 When we got married we both would have guessed that we would have a least one baby in our home on our 5th anniversary, but instead we have two growing in our hearts. We spent our actual anniversary at home- we grilled kabobs, made chocolate fondue and watched our wedding video. very relaxed. then the next morning we road tripped north to Kansas City! we ate bbq + sushi + Ethiopian food, drank starbucks + mixed drinks + tried local coffee shops, and simply enjoyed being together. it was great to be in the city together.

I love this guy so much. We have had a really wonderful 5 years together--just us. These 5 years have been a wonderful gift. We have grown SO MUCH during this time--as individuals and as a couple. We have established a really strong foundation and had a lot of fun. We are excited to see what the next 5+50 years of marriage will bring.

after our weekend away, we made a spontaneous decision to drive back down to Wichita to spend Memorial Day poolside with my family. just can't get enough of these blonde cuties, can you?! me neither :) 

so that does it!

whew!

a quick trip back through MAY.

see why I didn't blog? I was too busy driving to Wichita :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

technology fail.

this week I ordered a new phone
because my old one randomly stopped working
(okay, it did have a cracked screen, but it worked fine for several days)
and then I dropped it again,
and it came back on!
MAGIC.
ha.

well, the new phone (with Siri!) was already on it's way,
and so I think I'm going to just keep it.

last night I was activating the phone,
and oh-so-proud of myself for figuring out all by myself.

but, you guys,
I've done something.
and I can't figure out how to fix it.

these are both screen shots from my phone. 






















everytime I send Rob a text it comes to me!
and vice versa!

ahhhhhh!

what have I done?!

any techies out there?
help?
please.

Happy Friday, ya'll!
 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

rollin' with it.

a few weeks ago we had a string of several really warm days.
and then the weather took a drastic turn and the temperatures once again plummeted.
on that cold morning, I remember thinking to myself:
What winter outfit would you like to wear one more time this year?
I carefully selected the sweater and boots,
thinking to myself that I would get one last good wear out of my favorite sweater before I packed it away for safe keeping.


HA. HA. HA.
Okay, joke is on me, Mother Nature.
I bet you think you're sooooo funny.


Because here I am, several weeks later,
wearing that very same outfit.
I have wool socks on today! WOOL!
and I wore my winter coat to work today.
with a cute beanie, I might add :)

why so bundled up, you ask?
because it looked like a full on BLIZZARD this morning when I was leaving for work.


am I happy about how cold it is?
nope.
can I control the weather?
not last time I checked.

so, like I used to tell one of my clients--who reeeaaaaaally struggled with accepting things that she couldn't control---
sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

and then, I'd do the "Rolling with the Homies" dance from Clueless. 
if you were not in middle school or high school during the mid 90's,
you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.
SO, for you viewing pleasure....


did it make you smile? 
it used to make D smile too. 
she be all worked up about how someone did something that she didn't like
and how she was gonna show that someone what she really thought about that something and on and on and on...
and then I'd start dancing.
and she'd start smiling.
and we'd talk about how to just roll with it.

 
so, today I'm rolling with it, homies :)
I'm rollin' with this crazy weather.
with my sweater, wool socks, boots, and a nice cup-o-tea.
 
 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

life lately


 

it's all cloudy and chilly out today.
so, in honor of today's weather, I'm inviting you to coffee...

won't you pull up a chair and stay awhile? :) 

if we were going to sit down for a cup of coffee this afternoon,

I would probably ask you if you were coming from out of town,
if the answer was yes, then I might subtly drop a hint for you to swing by Starbucks or your local coffee shop for an extra hot caramel macchiato.
(tell them to make it as hot as possible before they scald the milk...that's the way I like it..k, thanks.)

I'm a bit cut off out here, ya'll. :)


Once you sat down and got cozy,
and I took a quick sip of my scalding hot drink,
I'd ask you something like "What have you been up to lately?" 

and because you are polite, you'd ask me the same thing. :)


to which I would respond.....

Lately I've been reading a lot....mostly about adoption (but I'd save that for another post conversation)....
I'd tell you that this weekend I took break from all the adoption blogs and books, and read The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers.

I'd admit to you that I stayed up waaaaaay too late one night reading this book on my oh-so-awesome Kindle. and then I'd tell you that it made my heart ache deeply for all the women I know who have faced decisions about abortion. I'd mention to you that I value those who come alongside these women and love them well before, during or after they have made this decision.

I'd tell you that the part of the book that got my blood boiling was how so many of the "Christians" responded...boiling...because I see it every day...all around me...and I recognize the tendency in myself, if I'm not careful to remain humble and focused on Jesus. 

I'd tell you that theologically, there are things in the book that make me raise an eyebrow, but hey, it wasn't mean to be a study of theology, but a STORY-a beautiful story about forgivness that spans years and generations, about hope, redemption, healing, and an unconditional love that does not judge.

I'd also probably bring up this blog written by Donald Miller last week, where he challenged the current Pro-Life strategy, and I'd tell you that I whole-heartedly AGREE with what dear Mr. Miller asserts.



I'd tell you that lately I have not been doing as much running as I would have like, but that I did complete 10 miles before work yesterday!
Which made me feel strong and gave me a confidence boost going into this weekend.
I'd tell you that I ran the whole 10 miles without music because my phone was completely broken, but that I really enjoyed running without music.

I'd share with you that it was beautiful to watch the sun come up in silence, and then I'd tell you that I'm hoping I will keep up the motivation even after the half marathon is over. :)

While we were on the topic of music, 
I'd tell you that I've been listening to a lot of bluegrass, indie-pop, and country music lately.
especially country.



Hey. Don't judge.
You can take the girl out of the country, 
but you can't take the country out of the girl.

Country music makes me all nostalgic,
& it gets me REALLY excited for summer.



I'd tell you that country music
is like a soundtrack of my childhood summers.
I'd share memories with you.
Memories of long days on the farm,
riding horses,
getting animals ready to show,
running through sprinklers,
water skiing on the lake with friends, 
sitting around campfires, 
crashing the local wedding dances at the VFW & 4-H building,
cruising around town with the windows down. 

ah, sweet summertime. 

If you were lucky, and the caffeine had kicked in, I might even break into song:
it's a smile,
it's a kiss,
it's a sip of wine,
it's summertime.


I'd tell you that I actually really love to ride in the car with my feet on the dashboard,
and that it drives my husband a little crazy.
he let's me do it anyway. cuz he love mes. 

I'd tell you that we are planning a 3 week road trip to CA and CO for weddings.
and that we're planning to "rough it" as much as possible. 

I'd tell you how thankful I am for my husband,
and that I get to do life with him. 
I'd tell you that lately I have been reminded that 
God really, really blessed me when he brought Rob into my life.
 

I'd tell you that I'm reminded daily that being connected to people is important,
to family,
to friends, 
to strangers.
I'd tell you that this is why we LOVE to have people stay with us,
and why we continue to operate our house a bit like you would a Bed & Breakfast.
that even though it takes work,
we love to have people stay with us
(I'd tell you about how we had a total of 7 visitors this weekend in a mere 48 hours).

I'd tell you that I'm extremely thankful for friendships,
like yours,
and then I'd tell you one last time how THANKFUL I was you came by for coffee.

:)