Posts filed under Mom-Heart

letters to you :: the moon and the waves carried me to you

The weight of you felt heavy that day, I remember it well. 

It was a full moon — one of the Super ones that lit the sky into a brilliant shade of luminescence. The energy pulled me close and I paced down the halls at work. Anticipation pulsed in my veins and I struggled with how to go about my day when all I wanted was to some how find my way to you.

You're coming soon, I whispered. I just knew. 

I sat outside that night and ate my dinner, staring at the moon and creating mantras for only you and me. Something about papa and I being ready and how you didn't have to wait anymore — we'd be here on the other side to catch you.

I kept staring at the moon, convinced that if I looked hard enough, and waited long enough, you would appear beside me. I had a lot of those moments when I waited for you. Moments where the love for you was so strong I felt like I could pluck you out of thin air. These were the days where the words would stumble over themselves trying to get out of mama's head and onto the piece of paper in front of her. Ricocheting off of each other, hollering at me to get this down — get it all — write it before we leave forever. 

I tried to write that night but couldn't. Staring at the moon I could feel the words batter my ribcage. They were pushing up and out faster than I'd ever experienced and I ran up the stairs trying to catch them. 

When I sat down at my desk at work and pulled out my notebook, nothing happened. The words were just there and now they were gone. I could still feel you, I just couldn't articulate it. How do you explain that sort of magic? I managed two lines before my hand threatened to cross them out completely. I don't remember the lines, but I remember it had something to do with the ocean's waves, carrying me to you. Even writing those lines felt entitled. How can I be feeling this? I wrote  something about how difficult it is for me to accept gifts and then sighed, clicking the pen shut.  

I got up out of my seat. 
I stretched. 
I paced the hallway again. 
I came back to the paper. 

I knew the words were there — I knew there was a message for you, from you, with you — I couldn't tell I just knew you were so close I could feel you. Right there. Breathing. Every time I focused on the feeling it felt heavier in my bones. 

And then, the words —

They say the moon
carries energy. 
I feel it as I go about my day. 
She becomes a living, breathing thing. 
"Listen," she says. 
People stop and watch her rise iridescent, 
Her light pushing away the blue black
of night
I feel you in her gaze, silent and aware
You're waiting - I know this
like I know my own skin. 
You can come now. 
We're ready. 
The moon is pulling you
out-out-out- 
do you feel it?
Do you hear my heart skip a beat?
Do you feel my tears on your cheeks?
I'm watching the same sky
feeling the same moon call me out,
her energy pushing me toward our
beginning.

I sat back when I finished writing and tried to catch my breath. These words came from a deeper well than I originally anticipated and I had to swallow back more than a few tears. I was so anxious to see you and hold you and kiss you and know you. I wanted it to be now. I wanted to trace the line from your eyes to your nose to your mouth, wanted to whisper in your ear, "mama's here. You're safe. You're home. You're so very loved." 

Two days later, with the light of the full moon still burning up the night sky, your papa and I made our way to you. It was time. I stared at the road shining with moonbeams and wiped the tears from my cheeks. Soon, the ocean would catch those tears. Soon, I would write other words about waiting and the strength of your Mama Rad. But driving down those country roads through Texas and Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia and the Carolinas I knew then what I knew a few nights before: the moon and the waves were carrying me to you and little lion, my wait was almost over. I couldn't wait to hold you close. 

Posted on February 27, 2017 and filed under Letters, Mom-Heart.

Hail, Mary

I was shopping for clothes when it happened.

I grabbed my phone and checked my email out of habit.  In the middle of the mundane was an email so unobtrusive I almost missed it. 

Hi, Elora. We had a hospital birth. We're showing your profile. 

I remember shoving the phone in my pocket. I didn't even react until I got outside and was able to call my best friend. I couldn't handle all of the emotions at once and told her, "so this happened. I don't know how I feel. I think I feel nothing. But ask me again in about 30 minutes because I may be losing my shit." 

That was a year ago. 

And I did lose my shit. I knew it would happen because it always does. These are the moments where if I could, I would pluck my answer out of the ether. And there are times where it feels as if the energy around me is so electric that if I try hard enough, I can make it happen. Obviously, this hasn't happened yet. But it's a strange feeling to experience and leaves you feeling lit from the inside with a flame that can't be quenched.

I didn't sleep for days. Instead, I paced the apartment. I got paint on my fingers. I tore up books and taped the pages on our bedroom wall. I etched prayers into canvases and covered them with acrylic and tears. 

It took a week for us to find out that the mom would be keeping her baby, but the effects of the week lingered long after the news. This doesn't surprise me. When you've gone so long forgetting / denying you're even part of the process, the surprise of hope can sink into your molecular structure and change you when you're not looking.

.::.

I've been thinking of those days lately. Maybe it's because we're approaching another hard season. This one is ripe with anniversaries. 

Anniversary of our placement. 
Mother's Day.
Anniversary of the birth. 
Anniversary of the birth mom keeping him. 
Father's Day. 

Every year, from about mid-March until about July, I remind myself to breathe. 

Eventually, the breathing gets easier. The spontaneous weight of grief also seems to grow easier to bear.

.::.

Yesterday, I woke up at 3am. One of our dogs decided he needed to drink enough for two camels, and whether it was the pull of the new moon or an internal shift or the amount of naps I had while sick last week, I never went back to sleep.

In the midst of my tossing and turning, I remembered a name that popped into my head the night before. Rather than counting sheep, I took to rolling the name around my tongue to see how it felt. It only seemed to make me more alert. Eventually I got up and walked around our apartment, whispering prayers and giving in to yoga. 

Help me find the story, I prayed while saluting the sun. 

Later in the day I texted Russ.

"What do you think about this name?" 

"I like it," he replied. "Do you have a feeling?" 

I almost started crying right there at my desk. How does one answer a question like that? And how did I find myself with someone who understands the cemented way these feelings wrap around me like certainty?

"Not really," I said. "I just can't stop thinking about the name so I thought I'd get your thoughts."

Today though...today I have a feeling.

.::.

We were listening to a guy tell a story about a wedding when she leaned over and handed me a necklace.

"It's Mary," she whispered. "From the Vatican." 

I held the chain in my hand and ran my fingers over the raised medal. 

"For me?" I mouthed.

She smiled. "Yes." 

I put it on immediately and felt the way Mary pressed up against my skin, a constant reminder of her presence.

I thought to myself as I turned my attention back to the concert, did you know He was coming? Before they told you — did you know? 

.::.

There are a lot of things I don't know. 

I think in some ways, I thought this would get easier as I got older. 

Figure out a life plan...check.
Buy a house...check.
Reach relationship goals...check. 

I'm finding out it's pretty much the exact opposite. None of these things are a given, and they definitely aren't easily understood. The only thing I really ever know for sure is the feeling I get when something is happening with the adoption. It's like the gift of intuition times a million with the added bonus of fireworks and goosebumps because it has to do with your future child. And I wish I could explain to you the way it feels to have your heart suddenly shift in focus and kneel down, ears to the ground, because the vibration of promise is moving closer and closer. It feels like a metal rod poking your gut. It feels like you can't help but twist and kneel on the ground yourself. It feels like a pressure building in your throat. It feels like I need to go quiet and get still. It feels like I need to get out in the wild and scream and run through the fields. 

It feels like hope and fear and anticipation and grief and love and sorrow and joy and peace and it's all wrapped up in an excruciatingly confusing skin that doesn't know how to handle the restlessness inside.

.::.

Tonight I texted the one who gave me Mama Mary to wear around my neck. 

"My intuition is going a little haywire re: adoption. Will you pray with me?" 

She responded almost immediately that she would, and "is he coming for Easter?!"

I told her I didn't know. And then I tried to explain how I felt, because i knew she would understand, and I told her all I knew was that I kept finding myself touching the indention of Mary on my necklace. 

Hail Mary, full of grace....

She responded. 

The Lord is with thee. 

And then I started to cry. 

Posted on March 8, 2016 and filed under The Process, Mom-Heart.

reality is a mangled hope.

I'm sitting here in my office, staring at the clouds in the sky out the bay window, and thinking about Easter and Good Friday and the death and life of Holy Week. 

But not really. Because in every breath, in every movement, there's a thread of maybe in my bones that I haven't felt in years and I don't know how to act — how to believe in the midst of this week. It's hard to believe when there was a time everything you knew for sure collapsed underneath you.  

In the past month, Russ and I have had more movement in our adoption than we've had in the past two years. We still haven't heard anything. This isn't an announcement. There's still nothing official and come later today or next week I may be wanting to erase this post from existence. 

But right now, my reality is a mangled hope attempting to find its breath again.

I told one of my best friends the other week that there's a barbaric cynicism preventing me from truly hoping — from letting myself go there — probably because I know the pain a broken heart brings, however expected, and I try to avoid that thank you very much. 

And yet, with a single email, our lives can shift into an anticipatory wait rather than purposefully ignoring the changing table stuffed in our closet. 

This is what happened on Saturday. I was shopping, my mind on anything but this, when my inbox startled me with words like birth mom and hospital call and showing your profile. 

I had no idea how to handle the information. I laughed, actually. Laughed and blinked and hit the home button of my phone, dropping it into the pocket of my shorts. 

Out of sight, out of mind. 

But not out of mind. Not really. Not in the least. Almost instantaneously these thoughts and emotions and feelings came swirling up my chest, greeting me in the throat. 

Pain. Hope. Grief. Excitement. Frustration. Anger. Beauty. Love. Fear. Doubt. Cynicism. Belief.

This is normal. Talk to me about our adoption on any day of the week and I'll be detached and formal. It's easier that way. Just give you the facts, shrug when I get to a difficult moment because that's easier than crying, and swallow the emotions. 

Talk to me about our adoption in the midst of a maybe and you'll find an emotional Elora who doesn't know how to handle the situation because how do you? How do you hold space for the grief of a family separated and the hope of one brought together? How do you believe on the behalf of your heart, barely beating with the rhythm of motherhood, at the same time you're bowing your head on behalf of people you've never even met?

And I mean, let's be completely honest. How do you hold the weight of a decision when it's not you? How do you hold the anger and the frustration and the grief and ALL OF THE QUESTIONS because what's the purpose of going through this time and time and time and time again when every single one of them is a no?

It makes you exhausted. It makes you question. It makes you cynical. 

Until the next maybe — the next email — when all of the sudden every single emotion reminding you of your hope and desire reappear against your greatest attempt at stuffing them away for safe keeping. And just like that, every breath points back to this child you don't even know and yet miss with every waking moment. Just like that, you're looking around your apartment and wondering where you would put the crib and how you could,rearrange your space for the little bundle taking up residence in a swing or changing table or blanket on the floor in the now-open-space where the dogs used to wrestle. 

And you're doing every single one of these with the hesitancy of a wounded heart.

Because it's one thing to live a maybe by yourself, in the privacy of your mind and soul, and it's something entirely different allowing others to see your vulnerability. Please just let this be it becomes your prayer not only because of you and your tired waiting arms, but also because you really don't want to share the thousandth no with everyone who waits and inhales and holds their breath along with you. 

Posted on April 3, 2015 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

When Hope is Too Heavy a Burden

Only a few people knew. 

Last year, it was all about asking. Every where I turned, my spirit kept whispering Just ask. Just ask. How will you know unless you ask? 

And at first, I took to my art journal. I wanted to believe — wanted to hope that 2013 would end with that expectant hope being realized in our own life, but it felt like a precarious balance. 

A balance I was willing to endure in silence. 

My art journal has always been the place where my thoughts first see the light of day. And last December? It was full of hope. Expectancy. Shaky-yet-blissful belief.

After a few weeks, the burning inside grew wings and I couldn't not talk about it. 

I posted on a Facebook page.

"I can't really explain it, y'all. It's just a feeling. I think — I think we're close. I think we're going to be placed by Christmas."

There were mentions of prayers and solidarity. A friend had a dream of Russ and I sitting in front of a Christmas tree holding a baby boy. The dates December 17 and December 20 settled in my bones. 

And then there was the Sunday where I couldn't stop myself from asking for prayer at church. "Pray our baby home?" I said in between tears. "It's just been so long..." my voice cracked and I backed away from the mic, rushing back to my seat and gripping my husband's arm with one hand and my best friend with the other. 

I felt maternal. It's the only description I can think to use. With a ferocity I never knew, I was so certain I could pray our baby home into my arms. 

Every morning, I woke up expectant. I'd watch the time flicker and move to past-the-point-of-updates from our agency and attempted to resist the doubt. 

I knew what I felt, right? 
2013 wouldn't end with us still waiting, would it?

December 17 came, and it turns out my intuition was keyed in on something. I got an email. 

"Hey. I saw this and wasn't going to send it to you because reasons, but now I can't stop thinking about it so maybe?" 

There was a little boy waiting for a family in a hospital in a different state. He'd been born earlier that day. I called the agency, told them our story, and managed to get the cell phone number of the social worker. 

It only took five minutes to know something wasn't adding up. We'd have to pay another 20k to adopt this baby. The money would be due at the time of placement, which would be December 20. 

I blinked against the synchronicity and fought the tears as I hung up the phone. 

"You weren't wrong," my spiritual director would tell me later. "There was a baby boy." 

"...just not ours." I would reply.

Eventually, my hope faded and with it, my belief. 

I stopped waiting.

No one knows about the texts we got about various maybes. The little girl who's mom didn't want her anymore. The family who chose us but then decided to stay within their ethnicity. The almosts that filled our experience these past four years grew increasingly more difficult. 

When we moved into our new apartment, I wouldn't let Russ bring the crib up from the garage. The changing table rests in our closet, unused and stuffed to the brim with baby clothes. We've given away almost every package of diapers we had stashed. Our friends are using the baby swing that collected dust for over a year. Part of me just wants to give it all away. 

.::.

A few weeks ago, right before a Story 101 call, I got a notification on Facebook. A friend, the kind who storms the gates on my behalf, posted a request. 

I want heaven and earth moved for them. I want a baby in their arms by Christmas. 

My breath caught and the tears came immediately. The parallels between the last year and this year were not lost on me. But yet, so much was different. Namely, my belief. I'd grown comfortable not thinking about our continued wait. I set my roots down in the land of We Don't Have Kids and without even knowing, left my bags behind in the land of Motherhood. Leaving those bags behind meant not having to deal with the ticking clock. It meant not facing this growing grief inside.

I didn't want to hope. 

I heard someone say the other day that cynicism is just a lazy form of grief. And isn't this true? Don't we all run from the heartache and into the waiting arms of Disbelief? We're safer that way. 

These past few days, grief has chased me. My word for 2014 was soft. In so many ways, I thought this word endearing. What an incredible word to hold while I walk my first year of motherhood. 

Now, 11 months behind me and still empty armed, I know this is the last area waiting to be softened. The year has bludgeoned me in all sorts of ways, demanding my rootedness and ownership of who I am in the deepest places. Yet, this place — motherhood — remains hard. Bedrock. I'm not sure when the concrete poured into the crevices of hope. Whenever it happened, it was slow and methodical, reaching some of my deepest beliefs.

But it can't stay that way. I know it can't. I've come too far and gained too much freedom in order to remain hardened in one of my most vulnerable places. So I welcome the Softening, shaky limbed and weepy eyed. 

This morning, I started art journaling again. I woke with a brick in my gut, a sign that my intuition is pointing to something in the distance, and I'm wanting to run away. 

Acknowledging the grief of our wait is excruciating, but holding the expectant hope that lands in your bones without warning is downright torture. 

Last season, I asked others to believe with us.
This season, I'm asking for you to believe FOR us. 

I don't know if we'll be placed by Christmas. There are a lot of things that would need to happen. I don't know when the day will come when we finally get the call we've been waiting to hear for over four years. 

But what I do know is that we can't hold this hope anymore. 

Our shaky limbs can't carry any more weight.

Posted on December 3, 2014 and filed under Mom-Heart, Faith.

missing limbs.

I first celebrated Mother's Day four years ago.

Russ and I woke up to a crisp May morning and he whispered in my ear, Happy Mother's Day. I smiled and scooted closer into his arms and rolled my eyes because we'd been in the process of adoption for less than six months. Mothers Day? I don't get to celebrate Mothers Day, do I?

We didn't even have any paperwork in outside of our acceptance into the Ethiopian program, but it was a different feeling. 

We woke up slowly that morning, laughing at the way our surrogate son came barreling down the stairs and into my arms. 

"Happy Mother's Day, moms. I love you." 

I leaned into his embrace for a moment, cherishing the brief show of affection. 

"I love you too, Devonte." 

We went to a local bakery that morning, nestled in a dying shopping center. That's when we met chef, a French patisserie connoisseur who quickly became a favorite. We picked his brain about France. He made us surprise specialties and crepes.

That morning was magic—I still remember it as a day filled with laughter and sunshine.

.::.

The next year, we drove north to spend time with Russ' mother. The past year brought changes and huge shifts in our own adoption. We said no to Ethiopia. We said yes to domestic. And just two months prior, our home study had been approved. 

"Be ready." Our caseworker said. "This can happen at any moment." 

Our surrogate son wasn't living with us anymore. He still texted me though—happy mother's day, moms. I miss you. 

I smiled and showed Russ the text and turned back to the book I was reading. 

What I remember from that day? 

The butterflies. Every morning, I woke up with the expectation that this could be the day—that we could get the call. I knew with everything there was to know that the next year I would become a mother—a real one. One that everyone notices. 

.::.

Last year, I wake up on Mother's Day with empty arms but a full heart. I stretch, my eyes falling on the nursery waiting for our son, days? weeks? away from being born. The butterflies are even stronger now because we have a date. A name. Our hearts are carved with his initials. 

For the first time, I feel like a mother. 

I walk into the kitchen and my husband gathers me in his arms. 

"Happy Mother's Day" he whispers. Our roommates' son comes crashing into the counter with his wide eyes. 

"HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, E-LO! Baby J is almost here!" 

I laugh and wipe at my eyes, suddenly overcome. This past year has been a lesson in patience and disappointment. 

"I know. He is, isn't he." I catch a private smile from my husband. "It could be any day now...." I whisper.

.::.

The ads have been rampant for a few weeks now. I've been so busy—so focused—that it wasn't until Wednesday that I realized oh. Mother's Day. 

Well, shit.

Because it's one thing to resist something and watch it grow into a beautiful desire. It's another thing entirely to see this desire disappear—just vanish—right before your eyes.

I do not feel like a mother this year.

The mama-heart that was pulsing to life this time last year has all but ceased to beat. And well, I don't know what to do about it. 

Because how do you explain it? This grief? How can I suck the joy and the marrow of celebration out of a day meant for so much good? These babies—the two we've said yes to and then watched them disappear without even holding them—they weren't really ours to begin with...

...so how do you grieve that? How do you explain this phantom limb that shows itself during the oddest of moments?

I don't know. But it's messy, this life. And I can see my friends who mother well and I can celebrate them. I can. Because they deserve it—you deserve it. And most likely, the tears in my eyes will be out of gratefulness for how you show me motherhood as well as the emptiness of my own arms.

Because for me, it's turned into just another day on the calendar where my missing limb seems more pronounced.

Posted on May 5, 2014 and filed under Mom-Heart.

the weight of emptiness.

I found the post in the midst of archives, one speaking of mother arms and what it meant to feel the weight of emptiness.

I found it and took note of the date - nearly eleven months ago - and I shook my head.

Because a year ago, when I wrote that post, I would have never believed you if you tried to tell me what the next few months would include.

Letting go of my position at work and publishing a book and {finally!} getting the phone call we were praying for - we were going to have a daughter - and then...

...and then nothing.

Silence.

Our placement fell through and the publishing agency closed its doors. And for someone who struggles to dream, I felt the earth give way.

I said the right things. I took risks and started a business and created an eCourse. But when anyone asked me how I was doing, the split second between the question and my smile said it all - 

- I stopped believing it would happen.

I did. I stopped believing there was someone out there waiting for parents like us and I stopped believing that the end result for this whole process would be a baby. It was as if emotionally, I couldn't take it anymore. So I served up a righteous helping of denial and made myself comfortable.

But thankfully, He doesn't ever let us forget His promises.

Reminders came in stumbling across posts I'd written about His faithfulness. Or a message from a friend letting me know she was thinking of me. Or holding another friend's baby boy and praying for him - for his story - for what God has for him and knowing deep in my gut that this would be me soon. 

Because waiting mama arms never lose the weight of emptiness.

----

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Posted on March 14, 2013 and filed under Mom-Heart.

the month, the week, the day, the second...

Every day around this time I feel my heart sinking. It's worse on Fridays.

It marks another day I won't be receiving a call. It marks another week we've heard no news.

And this mama-heart just keeps beating louder and louder.

Before Christmas, I had some trouble sleeping. I went through everything I posted this year and read every single word all over again. In so many ways, it was amazing to see just how much God moved on our behalf.

But in small way - in a way I can't think about too much because I feel my heart fold in on herself - it really, really hurt.

Last Christmas, I never imagined us still being without a child. In March, I felt as if we were being pulled along by something bigger than us - something we couldn't even control. Like we were on some kind of freight train headed straight to our child and there would be no stopping - no slowing down - until he or she was in our arms.

And then one day in April before I left for work, I felt this imperceptible nudge in my spirit. I remember when it happened. I remember standing up from the couch, feeling the nudge, and then letting my body fall against the cold leather again.

I sat there for a few seconds before breathing deep and whispering, "what is it, Father?"

Three beats of silence.

And then, and then...."today is the day. Are you ready?" My heart skipped a beat. I swallowed. I looked around. I shook my head because surely I didn't hear what I just thought I heard. Surely it was just my hormones/emotions/wishes/demands speaking for Him.

"Don't screw with me, God. Please. You know me. You know my heart. What do you mean today is the day." 

(I did say this, by the way. I pushed the heels of my hands against my eyes and I fought the tears and I begged Him to not screw with me. As if I'm a toy. A puppet on a string.)

I never got an answer (do we ever?) but I know I heard Him that morning. This flesh-and-blood heart fails me more often than not, but that morning my heart and soul worked together and I experienced something so profound I still haven't found words to describe it.

It was if my soul nodded and my heart pulled me up by her strings and turned me toward our future child.

And this was nine months ago. And I'm not sure what this means and I'd be lying if I haven't wondered but I also know more than anything I could ever fully express that this process has introduced me to an element of the mysterious.

So on days like today, when the clock is inching toward evening and every second is another second I'm without, I know Who is with me. And I know He hears me.

And I know somewhere, He's holding our baby in the palm of His hand, just waiting for that second the phone will ring.

On days like today, I take comfort in Him knowing the month, the week, the day, the second it all happens.

Even if my arms ache from emptiness.

Posted on January 4, 2013 and filed under Mom-Heart.

words as unexpected gifts.

About a month and a half ago, God began moving in me to take a step of faith and complete NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's where a bunch of people go crazy for a month and try to write 50,000 words, which is the length of a short novel. I've done it before - I did it with Come Alive. And I think for a long time, there was this thought inside that if He were asking me to do NaNoWriMo, it must mean that He wanted me to write a novel, and that by the end of November I would have 50,000 solid words toward the possible ending of a new book. ...

I didn't have any idea what I would write about until November 1. About two weeks in, I figured out my conflict. Just today, 40,000+ words into the month, I realized most of the words I've written and slaved over won't ever see the light of day. It took me the whole month just to figure out what the novel can be about - so really, I've experienced what it means to write yourself into a completely different book.

Which, a lot of this makes sense. Before signing up for coffee binging word chaos, my risk factor was fairly low when it came to writing. Why spend so much time on a piece when no one would read it? That's dumb. But, I was feeling a pull to create quietly and with less fanfare. It's been fun to play around with characters and lose myself in writing.

And plus, I needed the distraction.

Can I be honest here for a second? There were times these past few weeks where I almost forgot about the adoption. For a little while, I wasn't "the girl who was supposed to have a daughter by now" - I was just...Elora. The writer. There were still moments where the angst and the frustration snuck up on me and the desperation of just the whole entire process of wait made it difficult to breathe, but I pushed that pain into my writing. And now, at the end of November, it seems like forever ago when we got the call about our adoption falling apart. I feel like a different person. Maybe a little more grounded in reality? I don't know. There are still days where I realize I've fallen back into the mindset of "this will never happen" - but I try to keep those thoughts at bay.

Which is why I'm thankful for how God brings the unexpected - even if they are words - at moments where we feel our heart may burst.

Posted on November 28, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart.

two years

Yesterday marked two years. On November 5, 2010, I never imagined it would take this long. Even when we sent in paperwork for international adoption, the Ethiopian process averaged out to be a little over a year. But this quickly changed - along with the landscape of adoption overseas. God moved in our hearts and we realized for us, for now, international adoption wouldn't be where we found our child.

So we switched to domestic and even in that switch I never anticipated it being another year and a half before hearing anything. If you would have told me two years ago I'd be sitting on my bed on November 6, 2012 with no child around me, I most likely would have cowered from the whole thing.

I say all this not to evoke pity but to explain just how much I cling to God's providence.

Some friends of ours brought home their son yesterday.

They shared with us a small piece of the story - how they were reminded of God as Father and not some detached Being somewhere in the cosmos doing whatever He wants. He listened to their prayers. He knew their hearts and knew the desperation of wanting to see their son.

And He answered in a way far beyond their expectations.

This is why I cling to His timing. Trust me. This whole hurry up and wait of adoption is grueling at best. In moments of frustration and confusion on why this is taking entirely too long, I remember His faithfulness. When other people who started international adoption after we did and bring home their children before we do, I remember His purpose.

And when friends go through the wait and celebration right alongside us, I remember His love and I know despite what I feel - He knows. He sees our child and holds him or her in His hand.

Posted on November 6, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

when never comes

The countdown read one month, five days, nineteen minutes and thirty-two seconds when I deleted it from my phone. I received a text Thursday night, but we didn't really know anything for certain until Friday morning. As of yesterday, we are officially on the wait list again. The reasons are long and not worth hashing out here on a public space, but it's been the most difficult twenty-four hours we've experienced in a long time.

It can get overwhelming: the lack of knowing tends to gnaw at you in the deepest places. And now, having to re-structure my brain into an all-together different kind of waiting has been harder than expected. There's the obvious changes - canceling a baby shower set for next weekend, deleting my babycenter account telling me of the baby's progress, and forcing myself to walk past the baby section at Target. But there's also the subtle changes - the way my mind automatically went to the holidays knowing we'd be parents or the baby clothes overflowing from the organizer in our closet. The closet we recently emptied in order to make ready our daughter.

Perhaps I've known for awhile this was coming - I've hinted at the fear of hearing our countdown would turn to never for a few weeks now. You don't anticipate it, though. No matter what you feel, you always seem to try and hang on to faith.

And we're still clinging now - despite the fear, the hurt, the confusion - we cling to the Truth that someday, our baby will be home. Someday, never will be a memory. But for now, it's our reality.

Pray for us?

Posted on September 29, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

an unconventional adoption

Two years ago, God broke my heart for the orphan. There were already cracks. My trips to Haiti and Africa provided more than enough fissures to last a lifetime. But when a high school senior cleared his throat and asked me to be his mom, I’m absolutely certain you could hear the crash of the remnants of my heart falling all around me. What came of that question was a sudden shift in priorities. Our four-bedroom house on the east side of Austin we rented for the purpose of high school ministry suddenly made even more sense with the nineteen year old looking around his room and declaring, “Man. All I wanted was abed. I haven’t had my own bed in forever. But my own room? Yeah.This’ll work.” And then he hugged me, a tight hug that smelled of Axe body spray. These hugs would be my undoing over the next few months. Slowly, the mom-heart I kept frozen and at bay began to soften and pulse again.

...

i'm over at Reject Apathy today talking about a piece of our story. join me?

Posted on August 17, 2012 and filed under Adoption, Mom-Heart.

a small reminder, so my heart will never forget.

last week, i sat in the living room with our community and begged for prayer. "i just have no words. no words at all for this article and i don't understand and i can't figure out these damn emotions clawing to the surface and it's due on friday...."

i was a little beside myself, clearly.

but it didn't take long for them to look at me and find the Truth. it didn't take many questions for me to remember that i haven't properly dealt with a few realizations at what our child will face. it's a type of mourning, really.

more and more, i'm understanding just how much brokenness there is in adoption.

more and more, i'm understanding just how much brokenness there is when we come to Christ. when He adopts us. 

i've said it here before, and i'm sure i'll say it numerous times until we're placed and i'm holding a baby and probably even then i'll whisper this so my heart remembers :: there is nothing that paints a clearer picture of what Christ did for me than earthly adoption.

our baby will move mountains. i know this. our baby will possess a faith that will constantly challenge my own. i'm realizing more and more the purpose behind us saying yes so many months ago is not just so an orphan finds a home. it's for refinement. it's for His glory. it's so Hope gets the last word.

and it's for Jubilee. this is the season of the Eternal One's grace.

Posted on August 16, 2012 and filed under Faith, Mom-Heart.

when Beauty pursues you {an excerpt}

here’s the thing: there’s nothing i’m more fearful of then becoming a mom. ...but there’s nothing i want more.

i’ve had people speak against this fear. my first year of teaching, the principal looked me in the eye and said, “i cannot wait to see you as a mom. your heart...you are just going to be incredible.”

he walked out of the room before i could really say anything in response, and it’s probably a good thing. it wasn’t necessarily the time or place to fill him in on the very thing i worry incessantly about. me? really? will my heart ever be ready enough...whole enough...for motherhood?

in so many ways, i’m still so broken. i know this. i feel it. i’m still learning how to give voice to the little girl inside - even though she struggles so often to find words. my whole life, i’ve allowed my heart’s eyes to open and see those hurting. i’ve had an automatic empathy with deep brokenness. probably because i sensed it in myself but wasn’t willing to look. heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen means something completely different when it’s your heart going through the cleansing process of the Refiner’s fire. your eyes see something altogether beautiful and grotesque when they turn inward on the hidden wounds that left unchecked, turn into slums of the heart.

this is when you know only He can bind your wounds. this is when you realize this High Priest who knows our weakness and experienced rejection on the deepest level is not ignorant of the harsh reality we live. and sitting here, heart quieting down to a dull roar, i understand He waits for me to catch His eye.

let me help you. let me hold you through this. I know this pain – I know the haunting.

and this help He’s so willing to give washes over me and even though the pain still rages, and even though my weakness shines, i walk forward bearing His strength as He takes my heart and holds it gingerly against His chest.

and i know there are some out there who, after having one or two or ten kids, will laugh at my processing. you’re never ready for kids, honey, they’re probably thinking. and i get this. honestly.

i remember moments growing up where i felt mothered. a family friend driving through a raging storm late at night to meet me at work after hearing i didn’t make the cheerleading squad at college. standing outside, the air fresh with rain, i remember feeling loved and fought for: you remember something, elora - you’re something special. this may not have worked out, but God’s got something for you. i know it.

or the mentor who asked me in a gentle voice if i was a people-pleaser and gave me the freedom to disappoint.

or the friend who asked questions until i knew she knew i wasn’t okay...and then she asked some more until the truth spilled out - broken and chaotic yet ending with hope of restoration.

or the team teacher who let me cry on her shoulder my first year of teaching and reminded me of why i got into the profession. she looked me in the eyes and spoke away the lies and told me of His heart for me - of how He had me at this place, this moment, for such a time as this.

every single memory dealing with counteracting the lies with Truth. every single memory including words dripping with His love.

so i owe it to my future daughter to deal with those demons. to stare at the darkness and shine the Light in the cracks - even though it may hurt. whether this means writing out my resentments for step four in recovery or tearing up about two hundred more kleenexes while sitting in my counselor’s office, then so be it.

because only when i’m able to recognize and fight the lies inside will i be able to fight the lies spoken to others - including my daughter.

this doesn’t mean i feel like i have to be perfect before having a daughter. one of my prayers is that my daughter knows i trust the Maker’s hand enough to allow a continual breaking and remolding throughout my life - even after she gets here. i want her to see me leaning into grace. i want her to know the importance of getting dirty - of sitting and dwelling in the pain long enough to feel His hand smooth the edges. i want her to learn how to not cringe from discomfort. i want her to see me fully alive - embracing the beauty and the chaos and being willing to share my story completely and without fear.

this was an excerpt from my eBook, when Beauty pursues you, available on kindle. get your copy here

Posted on April 4, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart.

a non-update update

i'll be honest :: i haven't posted anything because to update would mean to remind myself of the grinding halt of the adoption process. we're still waiting on a few small pieces of our home study - namely our TB tests. because of our schedule, it's difficult finding time to make our way to the clinic to do this. other than this small prick of skin, nothing is holding us back - well. except for money.

we've come to that place every couple adopting seems to find themselves at least once during their process - the brick wall of funding. adoption isn't cheap, and there aren't any payment plans set up by agencies. it's usually pay-as-you-go and if you don't have the money well...you stop.

some days i handle this better than others. most days i remember this is all in His timing anyway, so none of this surprises Him.

but there are other days where the wait is harder to swallow.

for reasons i can't go into here, there are so many things hinging on time and funding over these next few months. we're finding ourselves at an impasse not just with our adoption, but with every single decision we're facing. this wears the patience thin.

like...wafer thin.

couple that with the growing desire to hold my baby in my arms and you have the formula for a highly-emotional woman.

so this is our non-update update. we're sitting a little stagnant right now and if you are the praying type, more than anything we'd love your prayers sent on our behalf.

Posted on March 28, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

welcoming the burn.

it's something i've been struggling with for awhile. nothing seems more difficult for me than to accept a blessing as it is - a blessing. somehow, i feel i owe something. as if nothing good can happen without something bad happening in return. there's always a payment. always a consequence of my something good. 

lately, my something good is staying home with our child. it's buying into my talent, writing, and holding our baby close.

but somehow, i feel like this is selfish. somehow, i can't help but wonder if because i think this our wait will be longer.

thankfully, my therapist is a gospel-reliant woman who speaks truth into the lies wreaking havoc on my heart. yesterday, in her office, she began to unravel the root of this fear. by the time i left her office, i was clinging to the belief that God created me to be a mother and this desire - this hope of quick placement - is not selfish but a blessing from the One who knows me best. 

i don't know when our child will be in our arms. there are moments when i feel this could be very, very soon. others, like this morning, the ache in my heart to see his/her face is so palpable i feel i could reach in and grasp the pain with my empty hands.

but i know now these feelings are natural - and even meant to be celebrated. i see how He's building this mother's heart within me and even though some of the fear from the past still lingers, i welcome the turn - the small bend of my heart toward these emotions so foreign.

Posted on March 6, 2012 and filed under Adoption, Jubilee, Mom-Heart.

....but the paper cuts are killer.

truth: there is no difference between being pregnant and adopting. (except when there is)

confused?

i'll try and explain the two separately.

when a woman shares her pregnancy news, there's often a lot of shrieking. probably some hugs. pictures are taken. she may experience a whole lotta sickness. i hear the third trimester is pretty tricky with indigestion and feeling like you have to pee every five seconds and wanting to sleep for eternity. family starts counting down with the mom-to-be and there's cute little showers and pictures of growing bellies on facebook. and then approximately nine months later, her growing belly picture is replaced with one of her plus her child. or just one of her child. probably sleeping.

when a woman shares that she's adopting, often she'll get questions. probing questions. "are you unable to have kids" and "are you going to have your own" type of questions. (freebie: "having your own" question is probably THE MOST offensive thing you can ask an adoptive couple. "having your own" is a misnomer. our baby will be our own. no questions). these usually come from family. the ones for the home study are even more probing. they wanna know what you argue about, why you argue about it and how you handle the argument. they wanna know how you spend your money and whether you keep toilet paper on hand at all times. good news for the adoptive mom: no morning sickness. but the paperwork will most likely cause a migraine and the paper cuts are always a threat. most difficult? there is no timeline. no due date. so there's a lotta stress. a lot of wondering. and really nothing outside of the dwindling stack of papers to signal how close one is to being placed with a child.

okay. maybe there are a lot of differences. but, in the mind {and heart} of a woman, everything is the same. my belly may not be growing with child. i may not be able to have a cute little countdown widget explaining the most recent development of my unborn child. but i do know what it's like to wait. i do know what it's like to expectantly pray and love and wish for my baby.

so the question remains: why treat adoptive moms differently?

i'm not sure. recently, my husband and i ate lunch with my parents and they reiterated their hope that our perception of their perception of our future child wasn't skewed. i got what they were trying to say. when we're placed, our child will be just as much their grand baby as my sister's soon to be newborn son.

it hit me in the middle of that conversation that really, the crux of the issue isn't the words tossed around in our presence. it's my own insecurities and over-protective nature. 

here's some honesty: i don't know if a pregnant woman can ever forget whether or not she's pregnant, but i'm gonna venture out on a limb and say she can't forget. with adoption? you can very easily forget, in the middle of the paperwork, that a child is waiting on the other end of bureaucracy. 

i hate this.

because in those moments i do remember it hits me like a freight train ::  i'm just as much a mom as any other swollen belly woman pink-cheeked with expectation. 

...and i struggle with the differences.

i want to celebrate. i want our child to know i expected and rejoiced in the thought of him or her coming into our life. and to be honest, i want someone to hold my hand while registering and i want to be showered with parties because lord have mercy i have no idea where to start in the baby aisle...

Posted on February 15, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart.

empty arms

i could hear his steady breathing next to me and i sighed. apparently, it would be another late night. sleep hadn't come easy lately and it seemed tonight would be no different. i tried closing my eyes, tried a few rounds of deep breathing, tried counting sheep. nothing was working. i repositioned myself, grabbed the heating bag resting against my back, and placed it on my chest. the warmth radiated deep and immediately i felt the relaxation of a brain finally letting go. i'm not sure when it happened, but at some point i dozed off and the weight of the bag on my chest resulted in me dreaming of the day when our little one will fall asleep in that very spot. tears came quickly when i realized the emptiness of that thought - the emptiness echoing my own arms reaching for a small body only to grab hold of a bag of corn.

it was such a beautiful image filled with incredible hope. but, despite that hope, i couldn't ignore our reality. i couldn't ignore the wait i'm facing and feeling like i just might go crazy with the emotions.

for the first time, my empty arms ached for my child. i wished and prayed for my baby that night and wanted to feel the rise and fall of breathing up against me so desperately.

it's easy to fall into these moments of self-pity. even though the desire and want is understandable, it's very very easy to quickly fall into this moment of "ohmigosh this is never gonna happen" or "they'd be crazy to pass a child off to me" or "really? we're really doing this?" and your heart starts beating against your ribs a rhythm you never anticipated.

it's this odd balance between wishing and hoping and praying while staying rooted in reality. {which i'm not good at - like - not at all}.

so i keep waiting. i keep hoping. i keep praying for that one day - hopefully sooner rather than later  - my arms won't be empty anymore.

Posted on December 17, 2011 and filed under Mom-Heart.

on feelings

we worked on paperwork this weekend. somewhere in between the application, budget analysis and marriage survey a small prick began busting open in my heart.

sometimes, i really miss my baby.

is that even possible? missing someone you don't even have in your life yet? cause it's the closest thing i can say to describe how i'm feeling right now. my arms feel empty without the one God has for us.

and can i say that it's hard for me to admit this? can i say that sometimes i'd rather whisper the struggles because it means i'm actually investing in this process?

i know there are others in this season of wait who may not understand my hesitant longing.

but it's there - and i'm learning how to fully embrace the tension of nothing changing physically vs. everything changing within my heart. i feel her leaning, as if my heart knows something i don't. as if she's wanting me to stop and take a second to think about the baby i will soon be holding.

so we're taking steps. we're about two breaths away from submitting the application for our new agency, and after that's received the home study will begin. i'm excited. i'm excited and scared and overwhelmed and humbled.

and i wouldn't trade those feelings for the world because i'm feeling. for so long i didn't know how to feel - didn't know how to really admit those thoughts swirling in my head. but i am now - and i know a lot of me being able to is this process and how it's refining me. how HE'S refining me.

it's a beautiful thing to experience, this restoration of hearts.

Posted on November 14, 2011 and filed under Mom-Heart.