Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Beautifully In Over My Head"

"The devil hates when Christ loving families adopt..." 
This is what we were told when we first started the adoption process, and boy did we feel it. 
I kid you not, all at once random (and multiple) car problems occurred, Will and I both had dental emergencies, not to mention our basement had just flooded a couple months earlier and we were still dealing with that...and so on.  It was nuts.  
I reached out to a few families who had adopted and asked them if we were stupid to move forward...and one by one they reassured me that this was par for the course. 

But again...God met us in each one of those icky situations.
He was there when the manager of the auto shop told me what was wrong with my car. Followed by me bursting into tears at the counter. I couldn't hold it in (little did I know it was his first day...I'm sure he'll be telling that story for a while...).
He asked me if I was alright and I said, "Yes, I'm so sorry. We just started the adoption process and we are really trying to save our money, and things just keep happening."
He was so sweet and tried to comfort me as best as a first-day-manager at a car shop can.
The next day when my car was ready to be picked up Will, Liam and I drove over to get it. 
Will went in to get the keys and the manager asked if I could come in as well. 
I walked in with Liam, and the manager said that our story really tugged at his heart. 
His wife has 2 kids from a previous relationship and he had just adopted them as his own. 
They proceeded to discount our services so much, that all we had to pay was basically the cost of the materials (and this was a big job). 
He handed me a hand written card, a coupon for a free oil change and another coupon for the next time we needed work on our cars.  Tears and hugs all around. 
We were so incredibly touched. They didn't know us at all...but they extended such grace and kindness towards us. 
We will never forget that day. 

Another evening Will and I were feeling a bit discouraged about raising finances for the adoption. 
We had been questioned by someone about the financial responsibility of adopting and it had us a bit down. And we get it, sometimes just looking at the numbers can be overwhelming. 
All we could do was come together and pray - as we had done in every step of this process.  
We prayed that God would guide our next steps and affirm our path. We didn't want to do any of this without Him.
You know what? That very next day was our biggest donation day yet.
You see, what we are learning is that the best thing we can do is pause and talk to God...asking Him to guide us.  Sometimes His answer is, "wait" and sometimes He makes things abundantly clear. 
I remember sitting in church one Sunday morning, asking God to make it clear if we should adopt...and also make it clear how we were going to be able to do it...maybe like a relative we never knew would come out of the wood-work and give us $30, Ok, never-mind. 
I will never forget the sermon that day.  Our pastor talked about how when we feel called to something we want the steps to be: 
Well, if you don't already know...most of the stories in the Bible don't go that way. 
It usually goes something like this: 
That church service got Will and me right in the heart.  It was exactly what we needed to hear. We didn't want to pull back because we of fear. If that was the only reason keeping us from our child, then let's look fear in the face and trust God to go, not only before us, but with us. 
You guys, He is there with you. Through this ick and through the goodness. 
I won't lie, this journey has been one of the hardest things I have ever done but I have never felt closer to my Lord. 
There are great days when I  see Him show up so clearly that it's almost overwhelming. 
But there are also bad days - days where all I can do is ask Him to meet me with His grace.
He's there, I have no doubt. 
This verse keeps coming to mind: 
"We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."
Psalm 66:12
We haven't even gotten to the other side of adoption yet, but I can feel His abundance today. 

For those of you wondering where we are in the process...we are in the "waiting period." 
Since we are working with an adoption consultant, we see "situations" as they call them (babies that are due in the coming months) from multiple agencies and decide if we want the expectant parents to see our family profile book or not, from there we wait to see if we are chosen. 
So far, we have only said 'yes' to one, that ultimately came back to us as a 'no'. 
But that's ok! We trust God knows exactly where our baby is and the perfect timing for them to come into our family! We are beyond excited to welcome them into our family with wide open arms. 
We are so grateful for all of your prayers!! 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Don't Waste The Wait.

In the process
In the waiting
You're making melodies over me
And your presence 
Is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey
~Shepherd (Bethel Music)

In all honesty, the adoption wait has been a little harder on me than I thought it would be. 
After dealing with fertility issues before and after Liam, I thought I had this waiting thing down.  "No biggie, I've done this many times before..." 
I was wrong. 

As I sit here, I think of all the times I've just repeated Psalm 13 in my head:
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?"
And sometimes, on hard days, I still do.  
But as look back over the past couple of years, I see how Jesus has worked on my heart, how He has changed my desires and tuned my heart to His.  Honestly, none of that would have happened without this wait, as He drew me near and as I leaned into Him.
I don't want to waste this wait because, let's be real, none of this is really about me. God is using this for His glory...yes, even this wait. 

Funny side-story on the Lord's changing of my heart:
At our first home-study interview, we were told that if we did happen to get pregnant during the home-study process, we would most likely have to put everything on hold until the baby was 6 months old. Do you know that I actually panicked a bit that I might be pregnant??
Of course, I was not pregnant and would have been totally fine if I was ...but GUYS, I actually freaked out for a bit at the possibility of being pregnant. THAT is how much the Lord has changed my heart. I am just so darn excited about the baby He has hand picked for us, that pregnancy is not even a desire in my heart right now! 
Glory be, He is good. 

Listen, He really does meet us in it all.
Sometimes I'm tempted to get bitter and compare my situation with those around me. Everywhere I look, people are growing their families with ease. But then I'm reminded that Jesus knows me better than anyone else, better than I know myself. He knows what He is doing, and working behind the scenes even if I doubt it sometimes.  
There have been times when I have felt so forgotten only to immediately hear Him whisper, "I see you...I know you."
Our awesome adoption consultant, Katie, reminded me that I don't have to feel bad when weary days creep up.  She told me,  "It's okay to be weary. God knows that some days we will feel like that and so that's why He made a point to speak to that in His Word. Keep clinging to Him!" 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

And she's right, all I can keep doing is clinging to Him.  In fact, I'm sure that's exactly where He wants me. 

I'm excited to start blogging again and to tell the stories of God's faithfulness through our adoption journey ~and there already are so many. 
"Be joyful in hope..." Romans 12:12

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chosen In Love.

My heart is BURSTING just writing this post. 
We are so thrilled to announce that Will, Liam and I will be growing our family through domestic adoption! 
We can't even express how excited we are to see God work in all of this.

Even before Liam was born, adoption was laid on our hearts.  It started as a tiny seed that grew and grew.  
I can remember rocking Liam one night and looking at his sweet newborn face thinking, "there are so many children that need homes, a family to call their own and a mommy to rock them."  
I felt a tug on my heart then, knowing that this was something the Lord had for us, we just didn't quite know when. 
Since that time, we have not been without struggles.  We've experienced 2 miscarriages and a lot of heartache, but God has met us in it all. He's been holding our hands along the way, whispering to us that He has a plan for our family and He is walking this road with us.
While yes, we could have gone down the road of IUI and IVF, honestly, our hearts were just not in it. Please don't get me wrong - those are wonderful options for those who do choose those paths - we just really felt the Lord tugging on our hearts and leading us to adoption and we were so excited to say a big ol 'yes!' to Him. 
Now, I want you to hear this - adoption is not our plan B.  Adoption is something we are (and have been) really excited for and we always want our child to know that they were chosen, they were planned for and we were just as excited for them as we were for our biological child. 
We always knew that we wanted to adopt - whether it was our second, third, or 6th (just kidding, Will!) child!

So, here's where we need you. 
Adoption is overwhelmingly costly.  We are talking $30,000-$40,000 when all is said and done.  
Do we have this? Definitely not.  

Do we trust that God will provide - knowing that He has called us to this? Absolutely.  
5. Traveling and Lodging: TBD"Now to him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine..." Ephesians 3:20
But we can't do it without your help and prayers. 
My sister, Kimmy, has generously set up a fundraising page for us and we would love if you would pray for us and pray about giving a donation and help us bring a baby home. 

First of all, after much thought and prayer, we have decided to adopt an infant domestically here in the United States.  
I know the adoption process can be a little overwhelming to understand (it was for us, too!) so for the sake of transparency and to give you and idea of where your donation will go - I have laid out the process we are going through and costs involved:

1. Home Study Application ~  Cost: $175 (paid)

2. Home Study and post-placement visits.  This process takes about 3 months - we have interviews,  get finger-printed, get background checked, doctor's appointments, LOTS of paperwork and so on.  We will be completing this process shortly :) ~ Cost: $3700 (paid)

3. Once that process is finished, we have decided that, instead of taking the traditional route and applying to only one placement agency, we will actually be applying to several with the help of Christian Adoption Consultants
This will allow our profile book to be shown to more birth mothers - nationwide, and hopefully cut down on our wait time. For families working with CAC, adopting takes 6-10 months on average.  Cost $2,800 (paid) 

4.  Once we have been selected by a birth mother ~ Placement and Agency Fees: $25,000-$40,000 (this is where we need YOU!) 

5. Legal Fees for Finalization: TBD

You guys, I know this seems like a huge request...and it is.  But we serve a God who makes all things possible...even the things that are seemingly impossible. 
Thank you for taking the time to read this and to celebrate with us.  We are so grateful for your prayers and your willingness to help us grow our family.
Please consider sharing this with your friends and family - we need all the help and prayers we can get! ;) 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Goodness and Grace.

Is God good in the absence of things you would define as "good"?
Does it always feel that way? Nope.

I will be honest and say that I have struggled with this one...sometimes more than I realize.
Is God good in the midst of miscarriages, struggles, loss, hardship?
This week hit me hard - we bought our first home this past March and then, Monday, our basement flooded.  I was so overwhelmed as it was happening - helpless and nothing we could do to stop it. Honestly, I felt betrayed.
I know this sounds dramatic, because it was just water, but this has been a hard bear with me, I'm a bit fragile.
I felt betrayed by the house that we bought and love.  I felt betrayed by our sump pump and the water it just couldn't keep up with. But mostly, I felt betrayed by God.
"We were finally able to buy a house- why would You bring us to a house that fills with water? That ruins our belongings?" I thought.
I even said it out loud to Will.  "I just feel betrayed."
"I know." He said.
So we stopped and prayed because it's all we could do.

Today my mother in law told us that her daily Bible verse was Isaiah 43:2
"When you pass through the waters I will be with you." and it goes on to say "and when you pass through rivers, they will not sweep over you."
Tears flooded my eyes.  Of course, of course He is with me, of course He IS good.
Listen, it doesn't say IF you pass through waters, it says WHEN. And when it does happen "He will be with you." He promises to sustain us and carry us.
I have reminded myself countless times in the past year that "in this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Troubles aren't anything new, hardships shouldn't always be surprising...but, sometimes,they just are.
Why do I always get so thrown by trials? Why do I question God in the midst of hardship?
Simply put, I am human.
And to be honest, the next trial that pops up will probably be met with the same knee-jerk reaction of "WHY?!"
But when I quiet myself before the Lord, He's there. Waiting to meet me in grace.

You know how He showed up this week in the midst of chaos?  He not only gave us a neighbor who is a plumber only a few houses down from us, He gave us an HVAC and home repair man on our same street as well, all willing to help us out.  He gave me a handy, hardworking husband who has spent countless hours cleaning everything up. A sister who brought us a meal. He gave me my mother in law who sent that verse at the exact moment I needed to hear it and countless other blessings.
He is there, always. Sometimes we just need to still our anger and bitterness and ask him to quiet us with His love.
Life is hard. And trust me, I realize there are a million things worse than a basement flooding.  But God used this week to remind me that, despite the circumstances, He is good. He is present. He is there, waiting to meet us - with amazing grace and unfailing love. Every single time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Glorious Unfolding.

A few weeks ago I was feeling quite discouraged and just down about some things, while at work.  
I don't know about you, but I know that I tend to get caught up in the "whys" of things instead of the "whats" (what can I learn? what can I do to glorify You through this?") This was one of those "why" days. 
So I decided to get in my car to get lunch and some fresh air. I drove with the radio silent most of the way but finally decided to turn on the radio and this is what I heard at that moment. 

"There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding." ~  Glorious Unfolding - Steven Curtis Chapman

Wow, was that just what I needed to hear at that exact moment.  It filled my heart with such peace and gratefulness that God had used that exact timing and chorus to speak to me.  It still makes me smile just thinking about it. 
The thing is, I think God uses many things to speak to us but for the most part we don't tune ourselves to hear it, or see it.  I've been trying to slow down, listen, look and feel what God is doing in my life.  It's amazing what you will see when you just slow down, listen and embrace.

So yesterday, when I was feeling quite down in the dumps and just plain sad I kept asking God for some encouragement.  I would pray "please send some encouragement, unsolicited encouragement from some one or some thing. Please, I really could use it today."  
As the day went on, I kept praying that prayer, wondering if God would answer that request in my own timing, but trusting that He definitely heard me.  
When I got in my car to head home from work, I still had not felt that encouragement that I so desperately needed, and I prayed "please, Lord, please send some encouragement."  And in the back of my head I would hear "the day isn't over yet..." 
I picked up Liam from my mom's house and got in the car, admittedly, losing a little bit of hope for my request...when my phone went off ~ a text message from my sister Kimmy, who has been in Nashville all week.  It was a video, that at first I didn't really think much of...until I hit play. 
It was Steven Curtis Chapman singing "Glorious Unfolding" live. 
She had no idea I was having a bad day, she had no idea that was just what I needed to hear...but God did.  
I texted her back and said "You have NO idea how much I needed this today. I was praying all day for encouragement. When I hit play I just burst into tears. Thank you." 
She told me that she recorded while watching him perform and was going to send it to me two days ago...but forgot.  
Wow, God is good, folks.  Even in the little things.  So good. 

It was really cool when I heard it the first time, a few weeks back...but it was even cooler when I heard it yesterday.  I felt God talking to me, and reminding me of His promises, using the same words He used to reassure me before.  
He never ceases to amaze silly old me and I am so happy about that.

I challenge you to slow down and listen for God. He's calling you, He's talking to you and He's giving you daily reminders of His goodness.  

And sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Little Liam.

Welcome to the world, little guy.
Your Dad and I prayed for you for a long time and now you are in our arms with you sweet little chin dimple, your baby blue eyes, dark mop of hair that smells like heaven and those little hands that I never want to let go of.
You are our answered prayer.  You are what makes me want to get up and be a better person each morning. You are the laugh that I can't get enough of, the smile that I will do numerous crazy things just to see a glimpse of, and the reason I bounce around the apartment at 3am just to stop your tears.

Your Dad and I promise to raise you as best as we can.  We promise to be examples of Christ's love, grace, mercy and compassion.
But we make no promises to be perfect, it's just not possible.  Nor will you ever be perfect. That's just how we came into this world - flawed and broken.  That's what brings us to Christ.
He gives us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. He makes all things new.
Our prayer - our deepest prayer and desire is that you know Him and walk through life with Him.
You know how much your dad and I love you?  Well, times that by a kabillion (that's right, kabillion..don't worry, mommy won't be helping you with your math homework) and it still doesn't come close to how much God loves you.

Please, bear with us as we go through life together...this is still new to us and we are taking it one day at a time. There will be days that your Dad and I fall short and will be in need of grace and there will be days days that we are disappointed in decisions you have made...but even when those disappointments come, know that our love for you will never ever change.  It is not something you can lose.

So, let's make a deal to just take this thing one day at a time, it's all we can really do, right?
I promise to do my very best as your mama...if you promise to never poop on me again (kidding!..I will love you even if you poop on me, or pee on me, or get the point).
Life is quite an adventure, as you will find out, so let's focus on the One who gave us this journey and I'd be willing to bet that He won't disappoint.
Thanks for coming into this world and making it a brighter place, what a special gift you are to us.
Your Daddy and I love you more than you know.

Ps- I would like to state, for the record, that at this age you LOVE my awesome dancing skills. Just need to note it here, for years down the road when you cringe at the site of it. Can't wait to chaperon your school dances!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The good, the bad, the ugly.

Man, it's been a while since I embarrassingly long while. 
Please don't think it's because, "now that I am pregnant, I don't need to write anymore, or that "things are all good now, so peace out!"
That is definitely not it.  I have probably started about 7 different entries and then never finished them.  My brain has been a bit scattered and all over the place ...the entries  I would have posted would have been comical, but more so in a way that you wouldn't be able to understand them if you read them, because they would just be gibberish. 
I could go on and on about things that have happened in the past 33 weeks (heck yes, I am almost 34 weeks now...when did that happen?!) But I won't bore you...although, I'm sure you would be very entertained by some of it (pregnancy brain hit me HARD!)
I will just give you some good and bad highlights of what's been going on...

What I am not so fond of right now: 

  • Pure exhaustion - I have never experienced it quite like this.  I mean, I actually got winded cutting an apple the other day...I am not even joking. 
  • Peeing 80 times per night.  Ok , so it's not that many but sometimes it feels like it is.  Maybe my good ol' giant body pillow and I should just set up camp and sleep in the bathroom. Nope, nevermind, I am a germaphobe and would not be able to sleep on a bathroom floor. Gross. 
  • Medical Bills- I will spare you the whining, but sometimes our insurance just sucks.  I am thankful for insurance none the less, but some days it drives me nuts.  The funny thing is, I always get my panties in a bunch over it (my extremely large panties now-a-days) yet some how God always I really need to chill. 
  • Gestational Diabetes - yep, that's right...this broad has it.  I was a bit shocked when I found out, and honestly wanted to kick someone in the nads, but then I got over it.  I still have a Kit-Kat now and then, I just have to be more conscious about it.  (I guess being more health conscious will keep these "extremely large panties" I have from getting any bigger...maybe). 
  • Stretch marks...they are bastards.  That is all I have to say on that matter. 
  • The stairs at my apartment complex (this goes back to #1).  I told Will that he should install one of those chair lift thingies for me, like in those infomercials, but that hasn't happened yet. 
  • Socks and shoes.  It's just plain entertaining watching a pregnant woman trying to put these on.  It honestly requires strategy and patience...and a few breaks in between each process.
I know what you are thinking "Candice, you waited all this time to get pregnant and now you are complaining?!" And to you I say, obviously, I am extremely grateful to be pregnant... but we ALL have days where we just need to whine a little and then get over it.  Don't be a goody two shoes and judge me for that...or I will kick you in the nads (word of the day). 
Just wait, it does get better!  I'm about to list the things I love! 

Things I am loving: 
  • Baby kicks! I swear I have a mini ninja in there most days.  He just loves to make himself known! Even if it is by kicking my ribs like they are wooden slabs (oh wait, that's a karate thing...same difference). 
  • Kindness- People are very nice to pregnant women! Even when we are puffy, grumpy and need a nap! 
  • Generosity - wow, the outpouring of love and generosity we have experienced these past 33 weeks has been amazing.  We had 2 showers over the past 2 weeks and this little baby boy is SO loved.  We were overwhelmed by people's willingness to give. Thank you! 
  • My body pillow - I'll tell ya what- this thing is a life saver.  Remember those "My Buddy and me" commercials (from the 80's) and the kid was going everywhere with his "My Buddy" doll?  Well, if it was acceptable, that would be me and this body pillow. 
  • My job- they have been extremely accommodating with everything! Morning sickness, Dr's appointments, maternity leave, etc.  I am extremely grateful for an understanding boss and a good job! 
  • Apples- I could honestly eat apples and peanut-butter all day long. I guess if you had to choose a pregnancy craving, this one isn't so bad! Bring on the apples! Mmm...Honeycrisp...
  • Family- they are all so generous, encouraging, supportive and just plain awesome. This kid is going to have rock star grandparents, aunts and uncles - that is for sure!
  • Maternity clothes - maternity jeans are awesome. They make me never want to use zippers on my pants again. I mean come on, they basically have built-in spanx! Who could complain about that!  Maternity fashion has come very far since the "moo-moo" days...although, I could go for a good moo-moo now and then.  (This also reminds me that I am thankful that I don't have to worry about sucking anything just get to let it all hang out!)
  • My amazing husband- this guy has taken such great care of me and this little one. He's been great at handling the mood swings- like when he walked in on me crying over an Oprah special just because "this boy was sooo tall and I just wanted him to feel loved and accepted!"  Don't ask.   Or the random food runs he makes for me, or the grocery shopping he does, or how he tells me I am beautiful even when I feel like roly-poly walrus. He's patient, he is loving and he is going to make one heck of a father. 
  • The miracle of life growing inside of me.  I am learning that nothing brings you on your knees to the Lord more than being pregnant or having a child.  While there is something literally growing inside of me, I have absolutely no control over it.  I want to hold this little guy so tightly with a closed hand but I know that he is not mine to hold.  The Lord has given him to me and Will yet we must hold him with an open hand.  This pregnancy is not over yet, and I know that many things can happen.  But we are so thankful for this miracle God has provided us.  Every little kick, every squirm, every pregnancy symptom - I am thankful for.  It reminds me that it is everything that I have been praying for and a reminder of God's faithfulness.  It's hard not to worry about this little boy (and from what I hear, it only gets worse after they are born) but what a great reminder of Who is in control. 
So those are a few things to hold you over for a while (riiight...I'm sure every one was holding their breath for another post. I'm just flattering myself).  There are so many more things that I am thankful for, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of some of them! 
Thank you for all your prayers, encouragement and support in this super exciting time.
I hope to keep you updated a bit more often than I have...I just need to stop getting distracted by apples, body pillows and reality TV (The Bachelor...what what!)