Adoption Journey - Timeline 1

For some of you, this will be some of your favorite posts but for others, not so much. I say that because it really depends on the season of life that you're in as to whether or not posts about Adoption is something you want to read. With that being said, I encourage you to read them because you never know what God may put on your heart ;) God used this blog to help me learn about Adoption and it forever changed mine. 

I would like to share three disclaimers. First, every Adoption story is special and unique to each individual family. Sure, some adoptions happen weeks to a couple of months after the Home Study is complete while others can take up to a year (or more). It's a blessing to not have a cookie cutter experience; however, my prayer is that all adoptions would bring glory to God and redemption to families. Second, there will be some things we won't share for the safety and privacy of our family. I mean, this is the wide world web so I would rather not share specific details or names of anyone involved in our adoption journey (i.e. Agency name, location, social worker and certainly not our expectant family information). Thank you for understanding! Third, there is a lot of detail here but it's because I want to soak in every. single. thing. about our sweet journey that will lead us to our baby. 

5/22/17 - Inquired with our Agency
5/23/17 - Agency sent us our Child Preference Checklist (Basically, you read through this checklist and mark what your family is looking for and comfortable with regarding a child. It was everything from age range to medical conditions and let me tell you, it was an incredibly tough checklist to fill out.)
*There was a date from 5/23 to 6/6 where I looked on their website and they had a message saying they capped their Adoptive Family list and I was SO bummed and I may or may not but definitely cried. I felt like this agency was an answer to prayer and this was a setback that I wasn't prepared for. But both, my darling husband and one of my best friends (who also happens to be my personal consultant and a huge blessing as she's adopted twice!) both told me to just call and ask them if that included us since we sent an inquiry. I was hesitant because we hadn't emailed our CPC form back but I finally did and praise the Lord, she said it DID NOT include us! Of course I felt silly for crying but adopting makes your hormones all crazy too so I blame it on that. 
6/6/17 - Emailed our CPC form back
6/27/17 - Received the Agency Application
*Went on vacation for a week. Budgeted out application fee
7/20/17 - Emailed our application to agency and mailed our application fee
7/27/17 - Agency received fee and began working on our references (which were a lot)
*There was a time here where the Florida Adoption Laws made an update to the amount of Adoption Training hours needed for Adoptive families to have so our agency was working to ensure they had what they needed to abide by the law.
8/15/17 - First Home Study visit scheduled for 9/6/17
8/23/17 - Received the family resume to fill out (WOW. This was kind of a lot. It asked about our relationship with our parents, our relationships with Christ, our finances, our marriage and what led us to adoption.)
8/24/17 - Emailed what we thought was the completed family resume
9/1/17 - Emailed the pages of the family resume we forgot the first time
9/4/17 - Home Study visit rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma
9/27/17 - Agency added a December date for the Adoption Training class and we signed up (we had a prior engagement for the one in September that we could not get out of)
10/05/17 - First Home Study visit RESCHEDULED
10/19/17 - First Home Study visit
11/15/17 - Home Study Part 2
12/09/17 - First Adoption Training class

Well, that's where we are thus far. I'll update this every few months as we move forward in our adoption. I was going to do a specific post on the home study visit but I don't feel as though it deserves its' own post so I'm going to share about it in this one.

I totally worked up this home study in my head and it was not nearly as scary as I thought. Now, every home study is different as every agency is different and this was only the first part. I have no clue what part 2 will look like. We sat down in the living room and went over our family profile that we filled out. Basically, we reviewed what we answered and elaborated on why we answered the way we did. We took a break after about an hour and a half and that is when we showed her around the house. Afterward we sat back down and talked a little more. She asked us questions about us (the first part were questions about each of us individually) such as our goals, why or what led us to adoption and how we rated our intimacy ... yes, you read that right. I knew to expect that question but it still doesn't change how awkward it is to answer. You should be fully aware as well. You're welcome. That was it friends! It really was like a friend coming over to hangout and get to know each other better. Our social worker is so incredibly sweet and you can tell she is for us. I have heard horror stories so I was a little nervous about that but she was great! To end this ridiculously long post, I give you a picture of us on our home study day (we took it right after).

We are Adopting!

We are so incredibly excited to (officially) announce that we are ADOPTING!! What a blessing this is for us. Most of you know the way God called us to adoption but if you're new around here, feel free to catch up here. God has blessed this journey already and seeing His hand at work in even the smallest of details is incredibly humbling. GOD IS SO GOOD. I'll be doing a little series on all things Adoption and that will be coming soon. Thank you for joining us on this amazing journey to parenthood!

Fall, Vacation and Waiting

I love fall and I love vacation but the "waiting game" was not invited to the party. I was really hoping to have shared two Adoption posts that I had planned to go out this week and next BUT our home study was rescheduled, again, causing me to postpone them. Counting it all joy though, because this means while we are on vacation my sister-in-love can snap some pictures of us to create our Adoption announcement. Let's be real, that was not going to get done otherwise and I know I would have been depressed super sad if we didn't. Y'allI get to experience my first fall! We will be visiting my husband's family in W.V. and then go to N.C. This is a semi-family (we will miss you, Wesley!) vacation and I'm so excited to get away for a week. Insert all the praise hands here. 

As exciting as fall and vacation both are, waiting can put a damper on things. Adoption is a long wait as it is, but waiting for what should be the easiest part of it all down right sucks. Yes, I know, God has a plan but when you're in the waiting tunnel vision can occur. Right now this home study is what's next on the list and I want to start marking things off of my list but this two month wait for a home study doesn't allow it. Not to mention, it's not part of the plan. When things aren't part of the plan it makes it much harder to deal with. Truthfully, none of this was my plan to begin with, but it has always been GOD'S plan. 

Sometimes I wish I could see what God sees and look at the big picture of my life. Most times it's when I'm in the thick of the unknown. Honestly though, I am thankful that I can't. I just know that it would keep me from saying "yes" to growth and Kingdom work. There are times now when I think about my sinful nature, when I feel like there is no way I am making any kind of a difference working an 8 to 5, when I feel insignificant or how I'm just "forgotten" about, His word fills my heart and mind with truth. 

He reminds me that I am called out of darkness into His wonderful light. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." - 1 Peter 2:9

He reminds me that I am called for a purpose. "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28

He reminds me that I am worthy. "So don't be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:31

He reminds me that I am not forgotten. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6

I just want to make myself available for God. Living totally and completely for His purpose and plan in my life. So, in this waiting I will lean into Him and trust Him because He who promised is faithful.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Raise your hand if you have a bad memory. Keep it up if you don't have enough hours in the day. Don't worry, I raised mine too ... and kept it up. My husband jokes and says that movies I've seen are always new and exciting because I never remember what happens. Yup, this is so true. It can; however, be pretty frustrating when you are trying to prove your husband wrong and you forget your evidence (insert eye roll emoji). So, how do you add hours to the day? How do you train your mind to memorize scripture? My heart has been on a fast track to knowing God more deeply. I have a desire to pray more and memorize scripture. I have been praying about this for a while and decided to share with my mentor my thoughts and feelings about it all. She then shared with me ideas and totally do-able things to get started. I am so excited to share them with you today!

I want to share some words of truth and encouragement for a minute... I get it, time is the big "reason" you can't do what you "want" to do. I know that many of you are working wives (like myself) and moms, or even more chaotic (but total goals) stay-at-home mamas and that's not all - you're in a women's group or a small group, you serve in the children's ministry and you still have dishes to wash and laundry to fold. It can be difficult for you to use the restroom by yourself, let alone get enough time to pray, read and memorize scripture! All of those things are good things, even the laundry (praise God for clothes) but they are also all excuses. Your spiritual life depends on whether or not you're gardening it. If you aren't spending time in the Son, you won't ever grow. Can you imagine seeing someone you love (sacrificial type love) not blooming and growing? I'm quite certain you would feel sad for a number of reasons. You know Who else might feel that way? How can anything grow without being taken care of? It's not possible. You need to set aside time so that you can bloom and grow. Bottom line, you make time for what you want to make time for.

So, you've been desiring growth for a while but where do you start? Well, I am so glad you asked. It begins with these three characteristics right here: self-discipline, wisdom and commitment. Set your alarm to begin your day before the crazy starts. Have self-discipline to not hit the "snooze" button. Make it easy for yourself, use wisdom. Set your Bible or journal (and any other items you like to use) out where you plan on having your quiet time. Make it readily available so that you aren't searching for it all in the morning. This can be a real deterrent. Be committed. Commit to your time with God, to prayer, and memorizing scripture. Commit to being a woman of growth. Now, if only I can incorporate these into creating healthier habits ...

Will your mornings be perfect? No. Will there be days where you just cannot will yourself to getting up? Yes. Just don't make habits out of them. Allow yourself rest and give your family what they need but not at the expense of your relationship with Christ. He loves you more than you can fathom and He wants to spend time with you. Get in the Son so that you can bloom where you've been planted.

Happy ONE Year!

On September 15, 2017, this beautiful, blog baby of mine turned a year old. I cannot believe it has been one whole year since I started writing and expressing myself in this little part of the internet! Truly, it has been such a blessing. Certainly, I have not blogged as consistently as I was hoping but I now have a year under my belt. I plan on getting more organized (blogging wise) and growing my audience. This blog was and always will be a place where I express what God is doing in my life and how His grace is offered to us all. 

Thank you to my faithful followers/readers who have supported me this past year. Those of you who have followed along and shared how it spoke to you or encouraged you - thank you! It was (and is) a huge encouragement to me and motivation to keep sharing. 

In honor of my blog baby's FIRST birthday, I've decided to create a list of five of my favorite things from this past year (one favorite thing just seemed too short): 

1. Starting the blog, of course.
I prayed and prayed and prayed about this blog, for those who would read the blog, the content of this blog and to be open to sharing what God was calling me to, for MONTHS leading up to the day I clicked "Publish" (September 15th). 

2. How it has grown me. 
I was not expecting to share as much as I did, as quickly as I did. That was totally and completely a God thing. In my times of questioning whether or not I would ever get pregnant, ever be a mom or what I would end up doing with my life if I didn't have children, I found comfort in reading other stories of women just like me. I wanted this blog to be a safe place for other women who are walking that same path. This blog has also cultivated a desire in my heart to grow and expand. What does this mean and what does this look like? Community. Creating a community of sisterhood and motherhood. I will say, it is in the works, friends! 

3. Over 20 views!
The posts "A Loss like No Other" and "Define Healing" had over 20 views and this was a huge moment in my little blogging world. Granted, it happened to be the two posts where I shared about Baby J but it was confirmation that I shared what God wanted me to. Sure, a few of those views were family but I just think about the women that it could have been and my heart goes out to them and they are in my prayers, still.

4. We are ADOPTING! 
This is so incredibly exciting for us and I cannot wait to share more about it. I will be posting an update of where we are in the process and I'll have Adoption Updates throughout the entire process.

5. Pregnancy
I am including the next few things together because it really is all encompassing. Finding out I was pregnant. Oh my, this was a huge surprise for me. I can't help but smile so big when I think about that day. It gives me all the feels. Telling my husband I was pregnant. This was so much fun and I am so incredibly happy that I was able to put the onesie together for him (if you have no idea what I'm talking about read this post). Hearing baby J's heartbeat. Definitely a favorite, need I say more? Belly prayers - my husband prayed over my belly every evening. Baby J was prayed for and prayed over all the days of his little life. I have found so much comfort in knowing that when he opened his eyes, the first face he saw was Jesus. 

So there we have it, a few favorites from this past year. I am taking this weekend to put a blogging schedule together for year number TWO. I am really excited and hope you are too! Also, there are pretty big things in the works (cough,cough - vodcast) but that is all I can say for now ;) ! See you back here next week. Again, THANK YOU for being a part of this journey. XOXO  

Sweet Summer Time

Ah, summer. The time of year where school is out, you are melting relaxing by the pool while slipping away into another reality (i.e. reading), unless of course you are like me and work year round and you don't have a pool or time to read, for that matter. I feel like in the summer you either thrive or die (not literally but it kind of rhymed so let's go with it). What am I referring to, you ask? Everything, friends. I'm talking about health routines (eating and exercising), reading, studying, praying, hosting, gathering with friends or other families. I just feel like summer rolls around and instead of thriving, I'm dying on the vine. Could it be the Florida heat that is slowly snuffing out my motivation to do anything other than what I need to do? It's very possible. 

So how do we turn this around? Well, I've got some tips for you and yes, I plan on implementing them today.

1. Pray. Simple, right? Can be. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray continually,".
Just give all your worries and cares to your Daddy. He knows what's going on but He wants to hear it from you. You know when something awesome happens to someone you know but you didn't find out from them? Instead, you found out via social media or another friend. Do you remember how that kind of felt like a punch to the gut? Well, sometimes I picture the Lord feels that way. Like we have talked about it and people are praying on our behalf for "simplicity and balance" but we haven't talked to Him ourselves. I love this quote, "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?" - seriously, have you? Yeah, me either. 

2. Accountability. In our women's Sunday school group there were many of us who talked about accountability and the lack of accountability in our life. We need this in our lives. Is it scary to ask someone to keep you accountable? Is it hard to ask someone who already has so much on their plate to add one more thing for you? Will this change your everyday? Yes, yes and I sure hope so! Pray about who to ask to keep you accountable and then ask them if they would entrust that to you as well. Create deeply rooted sisterhood. Start with accountability. 

3. Quit Quitting. I recently (like two days ago) finished an awesome study by Nicki Koziarz - 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Quit. This study was on the book of Ruth and it was awesome. Seriously, SO many good nuggets. I cannot say more good things about it. Basically, she gives you five tools from the book of Ruth on how to combat that quitting spirit we all carry in some way, shape or form. You don't have to read the book in order to do the study; however, I plan on reading the book anyway. 

Whelp, that's all I got for you and really, that's all you need. Let's put these tips into action and THRIVE the rest of this summer. We'll be prepared for fall and we all know how much I love fall. ;)

Execute? Execute what?

In our women's ministry, Daughters of the King (aka DOTK), this year we were challenged to pray about a word and a verse specific to what God wants us to do or learn this year. At one of our monthly gatherings we shared our words and verses for accountability. My word and verse this year did not come as a surprise, but I was certainly in awe of His goodness as I really felt God start moving us in this direction last year. With our miscarriage last November, we ended the year just focusing on healing. 

When I was praying about this word, this verse, this next step in this season of life I kept getting "execute" ... um, what? It reminded me of an execution so I, naturally, questioned God. I took to google and started researching the definition of execute and then looked up passages in the Bible where this word was mentioned. I read a specific passage and immediately had to repent for questioning Him. I mean hello, He is all knowing and I am .... not. Definitely not. Deuteronomy 10:18: "He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing." Insert wide eye emoji here. 

Let me back track for you, towards the end of last year we really started talking about a few things that tie into this verse. The first was creating our home for hospitality since we felt God was growing a desire in our hearts to open our home to others such as our neighbors and family from church. We just want God to use us to love on others, whatever that looks like. the second actually started with as a small thought when we first got married. The Lord really grew that desire in my heart over the last four years and I started praying for the desire in my husband's heart to grow as well, but it wasn't until we struggled with infertility and loss that our eyes were opened to much more than just becoming parents to children biologically. You see, I had become consumed by the desire to be a mom, to get pregnant, to plan out pregnancy announcements and a registry that I was not listening to what God was trying to tell me. I think back to the years where I just wanted a positive pregnancy test or even just a normal cycle to track and I feel just awful about the time I wasted on my own desires. I was chasing my own kind of happiness and because of this, I was so far removed from my Father in Heaven and what He was trying to call us to. Needless to say, my spiritual life suffered. 

Back to present time, I questioned Him and His goodness. Silly me, God's word is full of promises such as, Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. " and Romans 8:28: "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. ". 

One of my favorite reminders is in Luke 12:6 & 7: "Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows! ". 

Sadly, I was consumed by something that could not give me pure joy, hope and purpose like my Father in Heaven can. During this time I was not the one who was forgotten, my Daddy was. I knew I needed a renewed spirit so I cried out to God and He granted it to me. My husband and I were praying about how to create a home for hospitality, and about adoption and it was then that we decided to purchase resources. Well, after we started reading and really praying about it all, that was when He gave me my word and verse. I was just amazed that in my chaos He saw order. He had a purpose and a plan for the path we had been walking, I just needed to focus on Him to hear what He was telling me. 

During these months, and through praying and reading this verse often, He has also opened our eyes to the importance and need of fostering which makes my verse of the year even more relevant. God truly knows it all. He truly is better at planning my life then I ever will be, so I have fully and faithfully handed it over to me. Am I nervous about what is to come? Of course BUT God is with us, goes before us and has us in the palms of His hands. 
I charge you to take time to spend in the presence of our Heavenly Father. Be still and quiet long enough to hear from Him. Perhaps, He has more for you than you can think or imagine.

Define healing...

"The process of making or becoming sound or healthy again". That sounds about right. I am in the process of becoming sound\healthy again. If you haven't read about the loss of a little love of mine, you can read it here. It has been two whole months since our teeny, tiny babe went home to be with our Lord. I long for the day to meet him or her. To see them the way God created them to be. To love on them the way God created me to do. 
My thoughtful and darling husband researched a few things after the loss, and one happened to be ways to cope or heal. He found that honoring their memory is a big step toward healing so we exchanged ideas and decided on something that I absolutely love. It really brings me so much joy and is a constant reminder that the King of Kings is still on the throne caring, loving, and answering me. Last night I was looking at it, and while praying and talking to my Father about baby J (that is what I nicknamed our little babe when I found out because both my husband and I have names that begin with J), I felt Him tell me it was time to share a little more. More specifically, it was time to share what we have done to honor his\her memory. I really am so excited to share this but a part of me is really nervous too. Putting myself out there and sharing something that is so intimately personal to me is scary. Part of it may be that it makes it more real too. In Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." I am reminded all that I experience on this side of heaven is only for a brief period of time, it is not forever and it certainly does not compare to the glory that is to come. How I handle the sufferings either glorifies God or it doesn't. When I am squeezed to the point of exploding, I want it to be Jesus that comes out. It should be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Before I show you the cutest thing in the world, I have to give you some back story. My husband was out of the country when I found out, but he was coming home two days later, and I knew I wanted to tell him in a sweet way. Naturally, I took to Pinterest and found the perfect thing, a onesie that said "answered prayer". Iron on letters + onesie = perfect present. It still is one of my favorite gifts I have ever given. ;) 

The top left is our very first picture of Baby J. It also happens to be the day I found out I was pregnant and the first time I heard the heartbeat. I was 6 weeks and 4 days. Top right and bottom middle (bottom middle is in 3D) are from when my husband and I went together and he got to hear the heartbeat and see Baby J. I was 7 weeks and 3 days. We went back in because I was having some bleeding but they said that the baby was healthy and growing (you can see his little arm nubs); however, that Friday is when we lost the baby (7 weeks and 6 days). 
Sharing this is so hard but so worth it. I don't want to ever feel like what happened was my fault or like it's some secret I need to keep and I certainly do not want anyone else who has walked through this to feel that way either. One in four women experience miscarriage and I just happen to be that one. You know what? It is an honor to be used by God. To share my experience is the heart of this blog so that others may see the grace and love of Christ a little more clearly and see that it is offered to us all.
The healing process is long, and some days you feel like you take two steps forward and others, like you take five steps backwards BUT there is never a day where I am left to heal on my own. My Abba Father is always with me.

Show and Tell Tuesday #1

Happy New Year, friends! I decided to start this year (on the blog) with a link up post. All of the topics are so fun. If you don't blog, enjoy following along but if you do, don't forget to link up with Andrea! Happy Tuesday. :)

So today's topic is Steal & Splurge. Maybe this sounds crazy, but I love sharing how we budget and save because it is something that actually works for us. It's the handy-dandy envelope system from Financial Peace University created by Dave Ramsey. My husband and I absolutely love it. It is eye opening to see how much money you could actually be saving. Insert wide-eyed emoji here.

FPU basically allows you to see the numbers in your budget as they really are as well as your debt. Our goal is to pay off our debt by the time we are 35 (God willing), so this allowed us to see how much we bring in, how much we need to live, how much we owe and how much we are wasting. By the grace of God and the help with FPU, we only owe on student loans as well as our vehicle (that we share). Do not be overwhelmed! It will take time and you may mess up a time or two but it is so worth it. If you are looking for a new way to budget or just need a budget in general, I highly recommend that you check out FPU. You'll thank me later. ;)

Ways we save include sharing a vehicle. This obviously won't work for everyone, but thankfully it works for us! We have the same work schedule and only work about 7 minutes away from each other. This allows us to save on gas and car insurance. Now, I am not a coupon-er (not a word but lets roll with it); however, I do watch for sales on laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and of course clothing because those items can add up pretty quickly. I am a total toilet paper snob so I will splurge on it and get Cottonelle (Clean Care to be exact). As far as clothing goes, I seriously cannot buy anything that is full price and sometimes my husband will tell me that I cannot expect to always pay $5 for a shirt - haha. Maybe it's more than $5 but it absolutely must be on sale (and a good sale) or it must be a store like TJ Maxx. I also love Khols because they almost always have a sale going on as well as provide a percentage off. When it comes to groceries, I really do not need name brand items; however, I do try to purchase Organic or All Natural items so maybe this is a splurge? On to date night, we typically like to splurge on date night so that means pop-corn, movies, dinner, and dessert. The whole nine yards. Date night is super important to me and I believe ALL couples need to date each other and date AT LEAST once a month. To save, we do a lot of at home date nights which we both love because we are home-bodies.