No News Is….

No news is good news?  In adoption…..not exactly.  No news is, well, just no news.  In case you have wondered why I haven’t flooded the blog with adoption updates lately, it is because there is nothing to update.

Bulgaria has had some major hiccups lately from the Ministry of Justice being ill and out of the office for a few weeks in March (meaning NO adoption papers were signed and passed on), to the entire country nearly halting adoptions for a re-accredidation they were required to do for during April and May.   That sprinkled with a few holidays AND the upcoming (and dreaded) August SHUT-DOWN  (the one month governement vacation where everything stops and slowly starts again in the fall) has made for little progress.  That said, all of these events are out of our control, so there is no point in getting worked up about them, but it would certainly bring more peace if our agency (and all the others) had referrals flooding in!

Sometimes it feels like the longer we are in the process, the less real it is.  Almost like when people ask us how it is going, we are lying  about ever bringing another child home.  It is a very bizarre situation to be in.  On one hand, I have felt like we were missing a child for 2 years now….in public when I do the child head-count, I am subconsciously always frantic when I can’t find number 4.  Holidays and vacations and the announcements of friends’ pregnancies and births seems to trigger a deep sadness, that we are missing a beautiful and special person in our family.  And yet, because we have no name, no face, no story, no timeline, it is nearly impossible to imagine that it will happen.  And, I find it so difficult to pray for that child specifically because so much is still unknown.

As I said, we started the process 2 years and 2 months ago, and have been officially “waiting” a year and a half. The new trend in Bulgaria (while it was once expected to be an 18-36 month wait for a referral) seems to be more along the lines of 2 and half  to 5 years now for a referral.  This  becomes overwhelming at times, but I trust that God will teach me patience, and the time when we are matched will be so very sweet, that just like with labor and delivery of my other children, the pain will be a distant memory when I hold them in my arms.

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And, it’s not ALL bad news.  TODAY is the day that some of my dear adoption friends officially become the parents to their darling 2-year-old Bulgarian boy.  They will pass court and plan to travel and bring him HOME in just a few weeks.  I am also prayerfully waiting with other adoption friends as we hope they will be matched with their sweet Bulgarian baby this month.  I am rejoicing with them, as I know they will rejoice with me one sweet day.

So, for now, no news is no news…..but when it is good news (and someday it will be!) , you’ll be sure to know!

May Days

School’s out for the summer!

(I’ll let you in on a little secret:  We’ve actually been done a few weeks, just don’t tell any of my dear teacher friends!)

We had a really fun school year.   Addy learned so much, so quickly this past school year that it still takes me by surprise when I find her reading chapter books in her room or catch a glimpse of her reading to Abe or Cora.  She is sure to tell me the time ALL the time now, and in the grocery store she adds things up in her head to see if she can convince me to buy it because “she has enough money.”  It is a blessing and an honor to watch them meet these leaning milestones and to stand beside them as things suddenly click.  We still love homeschooling, and the kids still seem to love it too!

Here were some of the things we loved about our 2014-2015 School Year:

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Our School Room….It is still a place where we love learning!

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Fall Field Trips with our Homeschool Group: Apple Orchard!!!

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Everyday Learning and Reading

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Arts and Crafts

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Science Experiments

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Rock Wall Day

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St. Patrick’s Day Party: Learning how to dance a jig.

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Valentine’s Day Boxes for our Party

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Nope, I’m afraid we didn’t take Martin Luther King Jr. Day off…..but we did learn about him!

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Post Office Trip: We learned how our mail gets from one place to the next.

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On our last day of school, we planned an End-of-the-Year Celebration. Each of the kids went through cookbooks and cooking magazines to choose one item to make themselves (mostly). Cora choose butter biscuits, and Abe decided on a honeydew/cucumber/feta salad which, surprisingly, we all loved! Addy choose mini meatloaves (because nothing says “party” like a loaf of meat). I made them their favorite dessert–angel food cake, and then Addy finished the details by decorating our table. It was a delicious celebration…and may have to become a new tradition!

 

It was a beautiful year.  I’m already looking forward to having Abe start Kindergarten next year….he is going to love it!  And, as for Addy, well she took one week off and then wanted to start learning to write in cursive!

Happy Summer!!!

Stories No Longer Told

About a month ago, we were on a family walk, and the kids insisted that they had enough energy and motivation to walk the four country miles to their Granny’s house.  We placed one foot in front of the the other for two miles (except for the smallest child who took turns riding on shoulders).  At the two mile mark, there is a little country church…every bit of the church you’d imagine in an old movie.  Nothing else visibly surrounds it but trees, open fields, the sound of pumping oil rigs, and an old cemetery.   We stopped and rested on a log  before cutting across the cemetery to resume our journey.  We walked slowly and read the markers.  So many of them were covered in moss, their names and memories rubbed smooth.  So much history beneath our feet.

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We walked past a few more gravestones , reading the words and the names and the years….so many years and so many stories that are no longer told.  I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at the stories these men could tell, the things they saw, the battles they fought, the lives that they lived…..here, 2 miles from my house.

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This one in particular has floated around my thought the past few weeks…..fought under General Jackson…..lover of the Constitution of the United States……1799-1874. Breathless……history books can’t draw intrigue like this.

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My Grandpa was recently moved to an Alzheimer’s unit.  He served in the Korean War.  His roommate worked on fighter planes during World War II before becoming a pilot.  They no longer tell their stories.  I wonder how many more of the 60+ Alzheimers residents have unspoken stories of battlefields and grief and victory and hope and despair as they fought for our country.

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I pray you have a wonderful Memorial Day today, and that you remember for every story shared, a thousand more have grown silent……but they still join together to write the story of our freedom.

On Love and 11 Years

About this time 14 years ago, I told Andy I didn’t want to date him because he was like a brother to me.  (Ouch!)  2 weeks later I was driving with my mom to church and informed her that I knew I would marry him.  God works in mysterious ways, and even as I told him I didn’t want to date,  I already knew I could never live a day apart from him.  He was my best friend, the one who made me laugh, and wiped my tears, and treated me more sweetly than I knew possible.

We quickly got engaged and waited 2 (long) years to marry…May 15, 2004.  Today we celebrate 11 years married together, and God has continued to grow our love and faith through one another.  Our journey has taken us near and far, and the memories are too numerous to recount.  But, here are some of my favorites:

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Our first summer as youth leaders–we took about 6 middle-schoolers to Agape music festival. We had only been dating a few months. 2001

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Engagement Pictures– October 2002

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Our beautiful wedding day– May 15, 2004

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Honeymoon at St. John USVI–lovely to be married!

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Graduation Day for both of us….and our one year anniversary! May 2005

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Our first fur-baby (or whatever crazy animal people call them). 2005

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One of many beautiful hikes we have taken together– Multnomah Falls, Oregon 2006

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Ah, Paris….great memories lounging at the Eiffel Tower, especially when a torrential downpour left us like drowned rats and lost in the middle of the city!

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We heart England! –2007

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+ Baby #1 2008

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+Baby #2 2009

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+ Baby #3 2012

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Pursuing Baby #4…Starting the adoption process 2013

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10 Year Anniversary at Grand Canyon 2014

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<3 I love living life with this guy. He’s my favorite. <3

 

A Healing Hand

I was so overwhelmingly blessed by the kind words and prayers that were spoken after my last blog post.  I felt fairly certain that “moving on” and “healing” weren’t going to something that came easily or quickly.  There have still been tears that sneak up on me at moments I least expect them, but the healing that has poured over my family the last 2 weeks has been so sweet.

God has continued to use my family, my children, my marriage, my friends, other adopting families, and the new life of spring to begin mending the wounds and replacing them with hope of the child He does have in store for us in the future.

The afternoon that we realized we couldn’t say move forward was so hard.  Andy came home from work as soon as I had heard from our agency.  We grieved together, and then we started cooking.   We stood in the kitchen together stirring and mixing and seasoning.  Our ears were filled with the sound of our laughing children outside.  After supper, we walked around the pond watching our children chase the dog and ducks, and we sat on the hill  while the kids fed the fish.

Each day since, has been bursting forth with the beauty and hope of spring….for me, a gentle reminder of a loving Father.  A father who doesn’t allow us to go through hardship without a purpose.  I look forward to understanding the purpose and living the story He has written for us.  If it is anything like the rest of His creation, it’s bound to be beautiful!

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A Resurrected Heart

This isn’t the post I wanted to write this week.  I thought this would be the post where I introduced you to our daughter.  It’s not.

A lot has happened in the last 7 weeks, and yet everything now remains the same.  We began pursuing more information about a bright-eyed little girl with some special needs in late February.  God seemed to open one door after another and we were seeking Him.  Oh, how I was seeking Him!  I spent every day of 6 weeks in fasting, pouring myself into His Word every spare second of the day, laying awake hours each night in prayer.  I laid my hopes and dreams and fears in an adoption journal each night hoping they would become the story of us finding our next child.  We wanted to jump in, say “yes” and see how God would work.  We wanted to see her overcome her struggles little by little, and help her along the way.  We wanted our kids to learn to love in new ways.  I dreamed of drawing her into my arms and burying my face into her little neck.  I prayed that God would stretch us in our faith by taking on things we weren’t open to before.

So we waited.  42 long days and nights.  Waited for more information. Waited for phone calls.  Waited for emails.  Waited for updates.  Waited for doctor appointments.  Waited for God to show up and tell us “yes.”  Waited to know if these pictures we held were of our daughter.

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We waited for this phone call.  I believed it was going to give us confirmation .  I took this picture  believing it was  going to be in her photo album as the moment we knew.  But we hung up after 2 hours on the phone with Vanderbilt with a new unknown, a “hypothetical.”  A fear that wasn’t supposed to be.  In place of confirmation, we felt confusion.  A day later we felt God shut the door.  It felt like more of a slam in the face, to be honest.  I was left beating down the door.  Fists clinched tight.

So began the battle between my Maker and me.  I said things to Him I never imagined I could utter.  It seems that with each accusation, His reply was, “I’ll give you perfect peace.”

“I don’t want perfect peace, Lord!  I want to say yes, we want to be her family.  Why did you place such undeniable desires in my  heart and then not show up?!  Why does THIS have to be part of the story?!”

I found bitterness in my heart that Easter was approaching–the time we celebrate the perfect gift—the only one thing we really need.    In anger, I muttered to Andy, “I don’t want to worship Him right now.  I don’t want to put on a happy face.  I’m angry with Him.”

And yet, minutes and hours and days have passed and I cannot deny the perfect peace, peace that surpasses all understanding.  It has settled over my grieving heart.  It has brought with it hope that the family she is meant to find will hold her soon, and that I will understand it more as time passes.  As I have sobbed for what seems like days on end, I realized during a phone call with my dad that I had cried my last tears (for now) for this loss.  I see how it has moved Andy and I into a place we didn’t expect, and drawn us closer.  I have encouragement that for over a month this little girl had a small group of women meeting every Tuesday in my living room interceding in prayer for her…..and they haven’t stopped.  I know now I’m not meant to be her momma, but I have loved her like one, and I hope that in some beautiful way she felt that.

Slowly.  Slowly, I am beginning to unclinch my fists.

I know now, that I can worship Him with my whole heart…..even if it’s bruised and beaten up right now.   It may not be a season of thanking Him  for all that is good (although I know that will return), but perhaps a season of being grateful that He is the same as yesterday.  He still holds strong when we are falling apart.  I can feel the power of Easter in my soul —a soul that is so in need of a Savior.  I can trust that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave, is the same power that can resurrect this disfigured heart……and with resurrection comes the hope of things greater than we can imagine.

 

Happy Easter.

 I pray that wherever you are right now, you will also feel the power of His Resurrection.

 

Bread and Wine

I brought my first daughter into the world on the same day of the year that my mother brought her first daughter into the world (me!).  I have loved every single aspect of sharing a birthday with my daughter…..I love the way it binds us together, I love the birthday outings together, the party planning together, the fun, and …..the gifts.  I’ll be honest, no 32-year-old woman should receive as many birthday cards and gifts as I do.  I give Addy Rose the credit for it.  People naturally enjoying celebrating a child’s birthday with extra love, attention, cards and gifts, so when they think about her, it is a natural progression to remember my birthday too.  We just celebrated another birthday, and we were both showered with love and thoughts and gifts.

That said, my husband is becoming a really great gift-giver, and truly outdid himself this year with thoughtful presents to bestow upon me.  Ugandan-made Sseko T-strap sandals….be still my heart.  He also got me 2 books by Shauna Niequist for my birthday.  I hadn’t heard of her previously, and didn’t know anything about the books, but he knew I would love them.  He knows me well.  I have only read the introduction and first chapter of Bread and Wine, and I am already in love.lindsay-letters-breadwine_1024x1024

You know a book is going to be great when it has you at, “Introduction.”

I just can’t get past this paragraph:

“My friend Nancy is a nature person. To know her is to know that the created world–mountains, wildflowers, sunshine–is the tie that binds her to God, that demonstrates his presence to her in the deepest ways. For my dad, it’s the water. The sounds and smells and rituals of life on the water bind him to God in ways that nothing else does. For my husband, Aaron, it’s music. And for me it’s the table—it makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit…creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table.”

It’s so interesting to think that God reveals Himself to people through different ways of beauty. It made me think…..how does God communicate with me deeply?

I have to say the times I have felt “in communion” with the Maker, have been in the deep, untouched stillness of His creation AND in creating food in love for others.  Two very different things, but definitely the things that resonate with me the most.  To be sure, God speaks and moves in the day to day of our lives, but there are absolutely moments where your soul is stirred more than usual.  I’ve been thinking of those moments today–the times where distractions are stripped away, and beauty and mountains and yeast and berries are what speak love loudly.

These moments have been when I understand Him the most, see Him the most clearly.  I am so thankful we get to experience such beauty and grace in this life.

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The rugged Oregon coast

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The base of Multnomah Falls

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The grandeur of the Redwoods

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Hiking around Cathedral Rock

 

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Sunset over the Grand Canyon

 

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Hiking the Grand Canyon

 

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Red Rocks of Sedona

 

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Hiking out of the Grand Canyon

 

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Sharing a special family recipe with those I love

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Preserving fruit

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Harvesting our garden and sharing the abundance with others

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Turning yeast and flour and water into daily bread

Now, I’m so curious, how does God speak to you? <3

Life on the Doormat

People often use the terms “God will open or close doors” in certain situations in life, revealing more of His will or purpose for you.  However, we have been living for 3 weeks now on the doormat.  Standing at the door, patiently waiting and seeking– longing to see if God is going to open the door or shut it in our face.  It’s this “doormat” that is so difficult.  This not knowing how a certain situation is going to end up.  Limbo.

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Life is easier when it is black and white.  Gray can seem so foggy, and it’s sometimes hard to make sense of.  It’s easy to lose patience and want to do things yourself instead of letting God make the situation beautiful in His time.  Or it’s easier to just give in to fear instead of trusting that He is in control.

It’s as if I think He doesn’t know I am at the door, and so I just keep knocking harder and harder, trying to figure out how to get in on my own.  I’m so very thankful that He doesn’t get annoyed by the pounding, and leave.  Rather,  He knows the waiting is for my own good, and he’s simply, quietly saying through the door,

“I’m coming.”

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.  Worry not……

Snow Days

In theory, I love snow days.  I like the idea of no school, Andy getting snowed in with us, baking and crafting all day, sledding and hot chocolate.  However, the reality looks more like Andy  going to work no matter what the roads are like, the kids and I still doing school, and as for the baking and crafting–just making more messes to clean up.  Add that to be cooped up days on end and it ends up looking more like a psych ward than a snow globe.

And yet, there is something to be said about the way everything slows down.  When I stop to appreciate not being able to run ourselves to death, and see the messes for the fun that was had, I can be thankful.  This has been true the last 2 weeks.  God has placed some pretty monumental possibilities in our path right now, and I have used the slow, quiet, cold to prepare my heart.  I have been able to seek Him more and loosen my grip on some overwhelming fears.  I have been reminded that I am so deeply loved by my Savior.

As we have “weathered” the (snow)storm, I find myself singing the lyrics of this beautiful song over and over.  They have provided peace and joy.  What comfort to know He knows the names of my fears and sorrows!

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Oh to be loved by Jesus
Oh to be loved by Him
Oh to have joy and peace within
Oh to be loved by Him
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He knows the names of my sorrows
He knows the names of my fears
Why should I let them bother me
For I know he is near

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Oh to be loved by Jesus
Oh to be loved by Him
Oh to have joy and peace within
Oh to be loved by Him

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And if no other will love me
In this life I own
There’d be no love I would long for
I know I am His own

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Oh to Be Loved By Jesus- Thad Cockrell

 

Guarding Your Heart

I have been told many times since we decided to adopt to “guard my heart.”  I’ve even told myself that a few times.  Guard your heart when you look at small faces with great needs, lest you fall in love, give into hope, and have your heart shattered.  I’ve tried to be diligent in this task– this protecting my heart from pain.  The scriptures even say,

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Psalm 4:23

And yet, God is making it quite clear to me that this “guarding of my heart”–this act of protecting myself–is not the context He meant for adoption.  God is a God of love, of hope, of second chances, of families.  There are real little children, real stories and faces and names and hurts and heartbreaks, and they deserve to be loved.  They don’t need someone to say, “I’m guarding my heart against the pain of loving you.”  They need someone to say, “This could end in sorrow, but the potential for joy and love far outweigh any pain.   You are worth loving at any expense.”

Jesus didn’t come into our broken world and guard His heart against the things that could cause him pain…..the people who might hurt Him.  Rather He poured Himself into them.  He met them where they were–in all their pain and brokenness and disease–and He loved them.  This was done without the thought of whether they might love Him back in return.

In the adoption world, we sometimes become afraid of loving a child we may not have a future with.  Almost as though that love could ever be in vain.

It’s so very clear to me now that this “guarding of our heart” isn’t a call to keep our love to ourselves…this isn’t the context at all.  Rather, I believe He would want us pour all of ourselves out to those who need it the most.

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My favorite singer/ songwriter, Jill Phillips, recently came out with an album called Mortar and Stone.  On it is a song called “Broken Heart” and she expounds upon this abandoned heart so beautifully:

There are other ways that Jesus could’ve saved the world
Ones that wouldn’t end up with him dead
He could have done it with an order from the throne of God
But he did it with a broken heart instead

So I’ll take a broken heart …
Cause a broken heart is better than one that doesn’t feel