closer than ever.

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A few months ago, our church hosted a series on adoption. It broke me in all the right ways: reminding me of His love for us and our future child, whispering again His constant provision and that He has everything - even our bank account - under control.

And then we met with a couple who heads up a sending organization. We talked with them of dreams we have - and how this adoption has moved us to the point of faith we never imagined even a year ago. The man smiled as he listened, and then said "you know - I'm going to pray for this child of yours. I'm going to pray you guys become parents at the precise moment you're meant to, and I'm praying you always remember the joys of living under the Kingdom economy."

I paused a bit there, a little unsure of where he was going. He looked at us and shook his head, "I can't tell you how many couples we send who by all means shouldn't have found the money to make it overseas. Our economy is not God's economy."

And then I squeezed Russ' knee, because I knew.

Our life right now? It doesn't make sense. My quitting does not equate to any sudden onslaught of money. I write, yes. I've published a book - true. But I haven't seen any money from Come Alive yet and going from a steady, secure and nice income to well...a future filled with question marks is devastating to this control idol I've held on to with such force.

And freeing. It's so completely freeing.

The following week, we were approached by a friend who said him and his wife felt called to participate in helping us bring our child home. He sent our agency a generous check, and we were clear through mid-December in payments.

This still left us wondering how and when we'd pay off the rest, but I wasn't concerned anymore. I'd seen Him provide for us every month at just the right moment; He would do the same for our adoption. I knew it.

Over the past few weeks, we've been talking with a friend from church who now lives overseas. After a few vague texts from a mutual friend, we received an email from him stating that after hearing the Stone's series on adoption, him and his wife wanted to join with those in the midst of the process. He asked us to share our story, asked us what we were doing to fundraise, and asked how much we owed.

And then he told us he would pay the rest.

There's really no words to explain how I felt in that moment of complete grace and generosity. Two months ago, in the midst of our adoption falling apart and feeling the weight of expectation failure, I would look at the amount we owe - close to 10,000 dollars - and feel the fear creep up and turn to a bitter disbelief. I felt forgotten. Manipulated. Tossed aside.

This whole process has been a lesson in extreme faith. Do I trust Him enough to create a new budget without my income? Do I believe in His faithfulness in providing for us? Do I share all of the ways He's stepped in and moved on our behalf?

I hope so, but I know my finite human heart. I know the difficulty of seeing such a huge number and all of the hurdles we have yet to jump and think, "really? You're for me even here? Now? Because...all I see is debris."

But the truth? If I look close enough, I don't see broken pieces. I don't see debris from everything that's fallen apart. I see a mosaic telling a story of His goodness and restoration.

A few days ago, we sent the last of the checks and a copy of my book to our agency in Houston. As soon as our case worker receives the package and deposits the checks, Jubilee will be fully funded.

Completely.

And just like that, we're closer than we've ever been to bringing our little one home.

Posted on December 18, 2012 and filed under Fundraising.

where He dwells.

I stood in the sanctuary, watching my friend's eyes tear up as I told her of a recent jubilee moment. "Isn't it just like Him?" she said, smiling. "It's like there are moments where He will just not relent and will come bursting forth in order for His name to be known."

And then she pulled me close and I felt the tears forming - the ones I hadn't been able to squeeze out because for once, my emotions were stunned into silence.

Last week, I felt a strong urge to enter into this season with a sense of holy hush - an expectancy that He could and would move mountains - a reminder of the impossibility of virgin birth and a Savior made human in a rush of blood.

And today, as I pulled out my word for these advent windows I'm searching through, I stared at the piece of paper that said visit and felt that familiar curl of my lip, the one that would probably stave off anyone wanting to spend time with me for fear of grinchy behavior rubbing off on them.

So I walked into my office, pulled out my art journal and started meditating on the word. This is when it hit me.

It is not just one moment out of a million in which we need His presence. It is not just one month out of an otherwise too-busy year in which we slow down and turn our heads toward the heavens.

It is every day. Every minute. Every moment.

And here, in this seemingly impossible moment, He visits. He stays. He teaches me rest.

Things are moving-yet-stagnant in our file at the adoption agency. We feel Him creating something new, even now, even in the conversations with our social worker where we wonder how to prove budgets mean nothing and numbers aren't scary when resting in the economy of Christ.

And so we wait, and praise, and rest, knowing that it is in this impossibility He dwells.

Posted on December 3, 2012 and filed under Jubilee.

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.

second annual free coffee for a year fundraiser

GUYS. GOOD NEWS.

:: FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH OF NOVEMBER :: Get amazing coffee + help us bring baby Ramirez home + be entered to win free coffee for a year = SOMETHING YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS

Instructions -

1. Go to Just Love Coffee Roasters - https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/lovewins/

2. Click "Shop"

3. Choose your coffee (or hot chocolate!) For every bag you purchase, we'll get five dollars toward our adoption

4. Be entered to win free coffee for a YEAR.

5. SHARE WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS.

Posted on November 3, 2012 and filed under Fundraising.

rescued to love.

I walked into church hesitantly yesterday. We're in the middle of the Adopted series and in so many ways it's wrecking me - rearranging things in my heart and placing them where they belong while quieting so many lies I've been hearing over the past month. And yesterday was no different.

The sermon started with this video and Matt saying, "do you see the man's look on his face when he first sees his son? This is nothing compared to how God feels about you - His child." 

And my heart shattered there in a million pieces even though I've seen this video before because that realization of God watching me and looking at me in that tender of a way - it just brought everything home.

Over the past few years, Russ and I have received a lot of questions about the why of our adoption. And I fight a lot with resentment, because it's as if suddenly your personal life is on display for others and nothing is off limits - even the question of why don't you just have your own kids? 

And let me just answer that question here once and for all :: We are having our own child and it's through adoption. For us, adoption is plan A.

The deeper we look at scripture, the more we realize the parallels between the Gospel and adoption. For so many reasons, this is why we chose to adopt. It's because God loved us first. It's because even in our deepest pain, He brought us out and rescued us.

This doesn't mean we're rescuing a child. Far from it. By our imperfect hands we'd make things worse. However, because of the love He's shown us and how He'd adopted us into His family, we're able to turn around and do the same.

It's not that I'm surprised - because I've experienced God enough to know everything is for my good - but I'm beginning to understand His heart more and more even through these past few weeks of heartache. Yesterday, watching the Chens' reaction and thinking about the day we get the phone call that there really is a baby waiting for us - it just made my heart twist in on herself with longing.

It was then I heard Him - softly - this is how I feel about you, Elora! THIS. What you've been through? How you hurt? It makes me hurt. You are my daughter. Do you know how much I love you? Just trust Me. Let me Father you. I want to Father you.

I'd be lying if I said in that moment everything changed - because it didn't. I still struggle understanding. But, I'm learning to trust and learning once again what it means to abide in His love.

And in the arms of my Father I will rest.

Posted on October 29, 2012 and filed under Adoption.

on the eve of holidays.

Little one, I remember two years ago, right about now, I fought for control over our life without you. Your mother can be selfish in so many ways, and in those moments, I craved comfort.

And motherhood is anything but comfortable.

But we jumped in, as we always do. Your papa and I aren't known for decisions that make much sense. We like it this way - forces us to rely on faith.

Like now.

There was talk of Halloween at the dinner table tonight. Costumes brainstormed and party invites discussed. It made the old ache return - deep in my chest - because only a few weeks ago I believed there was a chance we'd see you by then. I even stopped a few times at some of the tiny dog-eared suits and lady-bugged bottoms.

But if you weren't going to be here by then, you'd definitely be here by Thanksgiving, and I remembered the Mama's Little Turkey shirt I almost placed in the cart when papa and I went to look at carseats.

And well...let's not get into Christmas. Not yet. My heart's too tender to think of another one spent waiting without you.

Can I tell you something? It's hard right now - this keeping the faith. I don't understand why we would need to believe we were so close to having you in our arms only to find out we have longer to wait. And I know in the end, it still may not make sense but at least we'll know you really were out there waiting - that there really was someone who needed a mom and dad.

I'm tired of answering questions. Tired of these empty arms. Tired of the road that seems covered with challenges.

Two years ago, on the eve of holidays, I breathed in the cooler air and believed with all of my heart you and I would find each other. Despite my fear, despite the knowing of just how hard this process would be or why adoption would be our plan A -

I knew.

And now?

And now, I'm a little sad and a lot disappointed that our Christmas card will seem lacking without you in it.

But here's where everything shifts - here's where I remind you (and me because you know how forgetful I can be about these things) there is no lacking in the plan of Christ and right now our family is full to the brim of love and just waiting for you to spill it over.

Our God always sets the lonely in families - and we are no exception.

Will you hurry to us? We're here. Waiting.

Posted on October 18, 2012 and filed under Letters.

An incentive.

When I wrote the last post about the truth of where we are financially in this adoption, my stomach twisted a little. It's never easy to ask for help, and it's even more difficult when you know there really isn't a tangible "takeaway" for those who choose to give. I mean, it's not like I can write a story for you if you give.

(although, I will. totally. i mean...if that's what you want. just let me know.)

As I thought about it though, I realized there were a few things we could do, and there's some ideas I have brewing over these next few months. I DO know if you need a chef - for anything - you could let us know and the money would go straight to the adoption. I also know we'll still be selling coffee and still piecing together our adoption puzzle.

But I have something exciting for you today.

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Since July, I've been letting myself dive more and more into this artist's heart that's captured me. I've always been an artist - with words and with music. But it's been a little overwhelming lately the creativity that oozes out without me even noticing. So I figured, why not harness it?

From now until October 29, every person who donates at least fifty dollars to our adoption will be entered to win this painting, His Word in my heart like fire. You can enter multiple times, too - just donate in increments of fifty! 

I'll announce the winner October 30.

To donate now, click the link below.

 

 

Posted on October 15, 2012 and filed under Fundraising.

in which i get a little vulnerable about faith and support.

I've avoided writing this post for about six months. (There's a lot of these in my draft folder, so - bare with me these next few weeks as I work out the tension of my words.)

A year ago, Russ and I completed a budget sheet for our adoption home study. Since then, we've been approved, I quit my job, we were matched with a birth mom, my novel released and the birth mom chose to keep her baby.

Today, I sent off the last bit of retirement I accumulated since we've been married to the adoption agency. With it, we completed a new budget sheet - one with just Russ' income.

On paper, it looks bleak. On paper, it kind of makes me wonder what the hell we're doing anyway - adopting a child. But then I'm reminded of when we first began when His provision left me breathless or a few months ago when He reminded me He finishes what He starts and I know we'll be okay.

It's been like this from the beginning - this thought of who are we fooling. Us? Handle an infant? Us? Figure out what it means to live by faith?

A few months ago, a sweet friend sent me a message with a check.

Let the church be the church she said. Ask for help - people will respond.

And I laughed because this whole self-reliance thing? I've got it on lock. So when God told me to quit my job, and when He asked me to pursue writing, and when my novel released, and when Russ' raise was about a percentage of what his boss asked for on his behalf....

it all leaves me a little anxious and at the same time, expectant.

Here's the thing: we know God has called us to adopt. We know I needed to quit my job - that sacrificing a few extra hundred dollars a month was worth me staying home when our baby got here.

We don't know how we'll get the rest of the payments.

You see, with a typical birth, most families fall under the protection of insurance. Even if you don't, the monthly payments usually won't send you in the red.

Adoption isn't covered. 

And for us, a couple who can't pay off huge chunks of cash at a time, the monthly payments are the only option - even if this means our process will be prolonged once we're placed.

Every month, we send in 955 dollars.

Every month, we've been able to meet this. Lately, it's been in large part to my retirement + some incredible friends who consistently give.

It's hard for me to say this because I know there will be people who won't understand. I know there are family members who won't understand. You don't see pregnant women posting on facebook or twitter or their blogs, asking for money before the birth.

But this is more than a pregnancy, and this is more than us asking for money. This is us begging for support.

From the beginning, we knew this would need to be a community effort. Countless people told us: don't let money stand in the way of you adopting! And we believed them. We fundraised, we sold coffee, we tried to piece together a puzzle...

...and people responded. They donated. They provided online showers. They bought coffee. Combine this support with our extra income and the payments weren't that big a deal.

So where are we now?

Right now, we owe 8500 dollars. Right now, there's no way we can make the 955 a month payment.

Will you pray for us? I know some may wonder why we don't see this as God closing a door. We think God is bigger than this. We know His heart for the orphan - how it echoes His heart for us - and we believe in His calling on our lives.

If you want to donate, there's a badge on the right sidebar that says "JOIN US || donate".

If you want to purchase my novel, which would help as well, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Rhizome.

We are also still selling coffee and still piecing together our adoption puzzle.

And of course, above all, your prayers will move mountains. 

We love you guys.

Posted on October 8, 2012 and filed under Faith.

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.

a little honesty.

God only allows pain if He's allowing something new to be born - Ann Voskamp

I haven't written here lately because honestly, things are difficult.

When I first saw the picture of our birth mom, something settled deep within my chest. It was a feeling of rightness - a feeling that yes - this moment, this second - was all predetermined.

And then we met her, and my heart leaned toward hers and I grew quiet because goodness. She's Devonte's age. She could have been any one of my students these past few years. Yet her story is her story and I didn't know how to act, didn't know how to love, didn't know how to properly thank her for this gift.

We exchanged phone numbers and both spoke to our social worker after lunch. The confidence was good. Everyone was happy. With ten weeks to go, Russ and I started planning and soon ten turned to nine and then eight...

...and now we're at five and a half weeks.

Five and a half weeks - at least according to the due date. It could be sooner or later or...never.

I can't imagine what it's like to be pregnant and know that the baby you feel kicking your ribs will grow up in someone else's home. I can't. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand why our birth mom wavers. And while the reasons are few - they each hold their own insurmountable weight and I feel this inherent need to protect her. To pull her close and whisper I understand.

How do you give the Answer to one who doesn't know the question?

The other day, our social worker called and asked for some information to update our home study just in case. She mentioned the possibility of a conference call between our birth mom and a supervisor because there were some questions she had - questions we've already answered but she's still unsure about because she's reaching - for anything, really. I remained calm throughout the phone call, but once we hung up and I glanced toward the empty closet which will soon be a mini-nursery, I broke.

I emailed friends, asking them to pray because God-Almighty I was feeling vulnerable and scared and a little like this baby was slipping through my fingers. And within seconds one responded with He is faithful to finish and another texted this will be about faith, Braveheart. 

And I know they're right. All of them.

But it's hard. I never knew this whole control thing was an issue to me and it is - it so is. I'm sensing His presence - feeling the need to let go and fall into a deeper place of trust. And of course, I wonder if He'll catch me in the way I think is best.

I've mentioned before that my biggest prayer throughout this entire process has been that God would be known and people would look at our situation and see Him. Not by our strength but His - right? And now, in the middle of a countdown where I feel the earth shake beneath me because this may definitely not work out in the end, I wonder if that prayer was too dangerous. Too risky. I kind of want to pull it back, say just kidding and move along with another more comfortable route.

But I know that's just my fear talking.

If you pray, would you pray for our birth mom? Not that she would be convinced or manipulated, but that she would feel love and acceptance and a peace that makes no sense in the middle of this situation. Pray we would know how to hold her heart and love her the way she needs to be loved. Pray for the baby, that God would protect her and whisper Truth even now - even in the womb.

And pray for us - pray for His glory, pray for finances, pray for peace even now.

Posted on September 26, 2012 and filed under Faith.

in which i stumble through my words.

I keep the receipts in my center drawer. Right next to my old journals and a wooden box my sister brought back from Haiti, they pile on top of each other. I don't open the drawer often - only when I have another slip of paper to add to the collection. They mock me in a way. With the drawer closed, I forget they're waiting. I can wash the onesies, organize the swaddling blankets and form a plan for what our room will look like in eight and a half weeks without the whispers of those papers hitting my heart.

What if? they ask.

I don't have an answer outside of a shrug and welly eyes.

So when our social worker called yesterday to check on us (we're fine) and see if we've spoken to the birth mom (we have), I wasn't expecting the phrase she's mentioned every single time we've spoken before. 

"You know, Elora - just keep in the back of your mind that this may not work out, there's always that small chance she decides to keep this baby."

And then glory how my heart twists. It's all a mess in there :: my fears having a parade complete with the rhythm of my heart's pounding. This is something we don't talk about often, you know. It's something we don't like to entertain. Because it's true :: what if? 

There's so many layers to this question - so many emotions between strangers. To some, it seems foreign. "Wait. Wait. A mother keeping her baby will cause you devastation? This seems backwards."

Trust me. I know. I know. 

Do you know how many twisted prayers I've thrown up heaven's way these past few years? Do you understand what this does to someone's heart? The please let her choose us....does mean someone will lose. 

Someone - maybe us, maybe her - will be without.

Those receipts were the first thing I thought of when my social worker began reminding me of the risks. Tucked away safely, they symbolize so much fear. Trepidation. Expectation.

And I've realized lately the theology I thought was becoming more centered still leans a little off-kilter. Here's my secret :: sometimes, I fear God will take this all away simply because I want it. 

So those receipts - the small reminder spoken by someone in the middle - the hesitation to pick colors and nest and prepare and do everything a mother does when she finds out she's expecting - it's all an acceptance of something that hasn't even happened yet. Vindication. Manipulation.

Hear me. I'm not saying if this doesn't work out and if our birth mom decides to keep the baby I will immediately jump to this conclusion and belief that God did it out of some misaligned punishment. I know He is good and faithful and loves His children. I know this. I know He can give good gifts and believe this well for friends going through similar situations.

But when it comes to me - I struggle with the belief hitting me square in the chest.

When I began this blog, I set out to write about the process as honestly as possible. In so many ways - so many ways - the beauty of adoption captures me and my soul and brings me to the Throne every time. And in so many ways, I cringe at my views of God being laid bare for me to see. But I want to put these thoughts together - an altar of sorts. I want to look back and shake my head and wonder, really? I was there? And now I'm here? 

Because if there's one thing that's followed us these past two years it's this :: we cannot do this alone. Alone, we're lost. Alone, it just won't happen. Not with our fears and doubt and lack of faith and resources.

From the very beginning, I've prayed that this would happen and people would know it was God who did it. And can I say something? Can I whisper a truth in your ear?

The fact that I'm here - writing these words and not curled up in bed with fear is God. There is no emotional protection here. None. Those receipts may be a safety blanket, but it doesn't keep out the cold truth that in eight weeks we may have a baby.

And in eight weeks we may be back to square one.

Either way, I cling to the truth that God knows how it will all turn out - He knows our baby. He sees her. Loves her. Protects her. He's sinking deep in her chest the truth that her birth mom is one of the bravest women we know and that there are two people who will love her unconditionally - no pretense. No manipulation.

And when she comes, I'll throw those receipts away with joy.

Posted on September 5, 2012 and filed under Faith.

some news.

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i've thought about writing this post for awhile. i guess it's fitting that now when it's time, i find no words.

the short of it :: a little over a week ago, we found out that if everything goes as planned, in ten weeks we'll be parents to a beautiful baby girl. 

there's so much to this story. so much my heart wishes to share - so much God has taught me in such a few days. but know this :: He's at work and it's breathtaking to see.

i'll share everything soon - i promise. there's just some things i need to work out in my heart before laying it bare for the world to see, you know? and this - this right here - is sacred.

Posted on August 26, 2012 and filed under Adoption, Faith, 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.

waiting for you.

dear one, it's been awhile since i've written you, but it's not because i've forgotten. it's hard to put into words exactly how i feel about you, even though we've never met. i feel my heart bend toward you more and more each day. i pray for you - wherever you are - that God would keep you safe and loved and somehow you would understand the absolute magic of us coming together.

that's what it is, you know. magic.

i know there will be some brokenness involved. i know there will be moments where you wonder at your beginning. but know this :: this waiting period has revealed to me the goodness of One who knows and heals and makes right the broken pieces.

no one is ever left incomplete.

all we have to do is trust and believe.

this is where the magic begins my little love. mostly because there are moments where i don't feel as if i trust and believe as i should, and yet He moves and heals me anyway. usually when i'm driving and see the sun creep over the distant hills, waking up as slow as possible, the oranges and pinks and yellows streaking across the night sky. this is when i remember the magic. this is when my heart starts beating a little quicker and my mind moves to you - and even now, even without knowing, i'm thankful.

so here i sit, listening to the morning wake up, and i know one thing more than any other :: we're still waiting for you.

i love you, pumpkin,

mama.

Posted on June 4, 2012 and filed under Letters.

in which we ask for help

this past month has been...hectic. shoot. these past six months have been crazy. turn in our application, start homestudy interviews, face a stalemate with our social worker's illness.

get our home visit completed while struggling through chills and 100+ fever....

then, we battled the what-have-yous for the next few weeks while we juggled paperwork and small, idiosyncratic pieces of information to complete our file for our agency.

to top it off, a month ago our case worker tell us she has moms waiting which led to us {finally} submitting everything for review. if you've forgotten, we heard back less than two days later :: we were approved.

which brings us to today.

april 16, we had 5200 dollars due.

we didn't have it.

{we still don't}

but here's the thing :: nothing has changed. i believe He still finishes what He starts. if there's one thing i've come to understand through this process it's that His timing is impeccable. 

last week, our agency called and set us up for monthly payments. this is both good and not-so-good. good, because now our amount we're responsible for isn't as overwhelming as a chunk of cash when we cross a certain line in the process. {especially since we're already behind and the placement can happen at any moment}. but...since we're on a payment plan, this will lengthen the process for after the placement - when we have a kid and are waiting on the court to process papers.

usually, this takes about six months. with monthly payments, if we don't get a head start or find a wad of cash to pay off a chunk of the bill, this process could take up to a year.

so we're asking for help. we've been scrimping and saving and trying to figure out what we can do to squeeze every cent out of what we already make...but still, the 960 dollar a month payment is pretty large.

would you consider joining us? check out our puzzle fundraiser here. we bought a 1500 piece puzzle and for every piece "purchased" we'll find ourselves closer to the goal. the best part? we'll get to write your name on the back of the puzzle - a way for us to remember who gave and joined us in this process. even better :: baby ramirez will see it as well. if you just want to donate, check out the "join us" button on the right side of the blog.

and if you can't join us through donating, pray? pray for the birth mom. pray for our baby. pray for us.

together, we'll witness God do an amazing thing in bringing baby ramirez home.

Posted on May 15, 2012 and filed under Fundraising.

in an instant

it's hard to know what to write here. for the past few weeks we've felt some movement but haven't necessarily felt obligated to share everything. there is one thing i've realized though :: suddenly, our life has found a precarious balance. in an instant, a millisecond, our life will change.

one minute, it will be business as usual.

the next minute, we'll find ourselves parents.

it's so difficult to guard your heart through this whole shift. phone calls come, possibilities emerge, and then just as quickly they disappear. we know the drill - we've had friends go through this before and we value their wisdom and stories. it's because of them we have even a remote idea of what to expect.

but even then we can't rely on other people's stories.

THIS is what i'm struggling through right now. i know the importance of story :: i know the value of listening to a friend tell me of how God spoke to her through her own adoption experience. but, her experience is all together different than mine -

...where God is showing me what the love of a Father looks like.

...and He's mending this mother heart.

...and He's showing me how to trust.

...and the Gospel rings True even now - even in the hard spaces - even in moments i want to throw my hands up and say really? there's nothing more to share? 

i think this is what propels me forward, the knowledge and understanding that God is working and creating a story all our own.

and this, to me, is beautiful.

Posted on May 9, 2012 and filed under Faith.

faith confessions

one of the biggest surprises in pursuing our child through adoption: the Gospel reaching through and grabbing my heart. i never expected this.

i'm learning {slowly} that there's a lot of bad theology in my heart. like owning the fear of God making our wait longer simply because my desire to be placed is growing by the day. almost as if He's punishing me for being selfish - for embracing this mama heart. or, because i know there's no physical way russ & i can pay the remainder of the money by ourselves, and because i know He will have to intervene somehow, i wonder if He'll make us "pay" for those years we opted for credit to survive while russ didn't have a job. again, our wait will be longer because we mucked it up a few years ago and now have a hill of debt we're slowly crawling out of - month by month.

i'm not sure where these thoughts come from - and i promise i'm not joking when i admit to them.

it's all a bit ridiculous, really. i know this.

there's a huge light pinpointing these untruths in my heart, and i can only imagine it's His goodness and mercy drawing me closer to Him. adoption is a powerful force - an intimate reminder of who we are and how we fit into His kingdom. and the beauty? the mystery of it all?

He loves us now. in the dirt. in the grime. in the frozen-fear of untruth and twisted logic. i am His daughter and He loves me as i am and nothing will change this.

i don't pretend to know the inner-workings of His plan. i'm not sure if we'll get the phone call today or six months from now. i'm learning though, His love is enough. in the wait and in the wondering, He is enough.

and just as He's called me to be His daughter with no strings attached, i'll get to experience the joy of doing the same with our child.

Posted on April 24, 2012 and filed under Faith.

in which i am reminded :: He finishes what He starts

we really need you to get your paperwork in...i have pregnant moms waiting. this was said to me a few weeks ago by my caseworker. i don't think i'll ever forget that moment, because i was taking a sip of water at my desk and i nearly spewed liquid all over my computer screen.

they have waiting pregnant moms. 

these past few months have been a little surreal. for one reason or another, we've felt this divine push to get things done. it's all happening soon, isn't it Father? i'd ask and the tug on my Spirit was like Him squeezing my hand.

so really, this comment by our caseworker wasn't surprising - but it still made me catch my breath.

we ended up sending in the rest of the paperwork by the end of the week, and they received it this past wednesday. knowing homestudies can take a few weeks to process and approve, i called tuesday to see if maybe - possibly - we could have things wrapped up by friday for a grant we were pursuing.

"but i mean...if not, no worries - we can apply for the december deadline."

there was silence on the other end of the line and then a slight clearing of her throat. "no - no, we can definitely try for friday."

we got the phone call friday afternoon that we're officially approved.

i can't help but think the emotions i felt were similar to when a woman's water breaks. excitement, fear, overwhelming wonder...

it just so happens our caseworker will be in town tomorrow for a meeting. because of this, she's taking the opportunity to stop by the house for us to sign the agreement and to give us some last minute training papers. we never knew it would happen so quickly so we're not prepared for the full payment due on signing, but we're not worried. 

yesterday, a friend sent me a message asking me how much we had left. i replied, "4800" - knowing this seems impossible for only a few days.

she ended up donating more than i ever thought possible, saying "listen: God is faithful to finish. He always finishes what He starts."

and i think back on this past year and a half. i think of the quickening i felt to begin the process, the choosing of ethiopia and the immediate halting of that decision. i remember the breaking i felt for domestic adoption, and the way our agency fully embraced us. i remember the timing, the frustration at not being able to find moments to fill out paperwork but knowing the pruning taking shape in both our hearts.

but most of all, i remember the steady upswing of this mama's heart, knowing my baby is coming soon, and praying daily for the strength to make it through this season of jubilee.

because of this, i know :: He is faithful to complete what He started. perhaps this is why i'm not freaking out about tomorrow's meeting. whether we receive the funds or not, i know He's placed us in this time and space for a reason. and for this, i'm at a loss for words.

Posted on April 15, 2012 and filed under Faith, Thoughts.