Friday, August 28, 2015

Five things on Friday.



Happy Friday, friends. 
Here are few things I've been thinking about this week: 




1. I got a Stitch Fix today. 
This one was extra special because it included elephants and was styled by sweet friend Andrea. 
Seeing as how my work wardrobe consists of t-shirts (one of my many job perks), it's fun to pick up a piece here and there that I LOVE. 


2. Libby is about to be eleven. I can't handle it. I'm not ready. Somebody hold me. 



3. Hollyn is seriously rocking this whole kindergarten thing. 
It's been the most natural transition for her, and the girl hasn't missed a beat, even with missing three days two weeks ago to have a second set of tubes put it and her adenoids removed. 


4. Our new house-- to put it mildly, WE ARE LOVING IT. 
You know when a house just fits your family? That's how I feel about this one. Throw in the fenced backyard and awesome neighbors (including FOUR other kindergarten kiddos-- how does that even happy?!?), and I'd say this is just about as good as it gets. 


5. I finally finished Gilmore Girls
*Insert a moment of silence.*
Loved it and will probably start rewatching it after Labor Day. 
Yes, I'm serious. 

Here's hoping you have big weekend plans. 
Lee and I are hitting the road to do a little post-birthday, no kids allowed celebrating. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

30 in my 30s: #8 GO CAMPING AS A FAMILY


Summer camp is my jam. 
I loved it as a kid and love it still. 

And although this 30 in my 30's goal didn't turn out quite the way I planned, what DID happen was way better than anything I could have imagined. 

We went to camp for three weeks this summer. 

Yes, I'm thirty-five years old, and this summer I: 

-stuffed my face with s'mores
-swam in the lake
-dominated at chubby bunny
-sang all the camp songs
-sat on a sit-upon
-anxiously awaited the daily mail call
-wrote lots of letters
-wore a uniform
-saddled lots of horses
-fell off only one horse
-ate my weight in popsicles
-realized that being a camp counselor is a lot harder at 35 than it was at 19


All of that was everything I'd hoped it would be. 
BUT, watching my kids do all of that (and more) was SO MUCH BETTER THAN I HAD EVER DREAMED OR IMAGINED IT WOULD BE!


Here are a few of our favorite camp moments: 














Watching my girls step out of their comfort zones and try all the new things, from foods to tennis to holding snakes, was truly one of my most awesome mom moments. 
They came home more confident than ever before, and I couldn't be more proud of them. 

And even though our expected eight week stay turned into a mere three week stay, 
those three weeks were crazy good and filled my adventure tank up to the tip top. 


Cheers to lake swimming, canoeing, s'more eating, and stall shoveling... well....maybe not stall shoveling. 



Monday, August 24, 2015

The letter in my Bible.



There's this letter in my Bible. Tucked away somewhere in the book of Proverbs, written in my sloppy handwriting, a combo of cursive and print. I remember the day I wrote it. So full of hope and longing for her, my daughter. I'd seen her face, but we hadn't met yet. I knew we would meet though. That feeling of belonging, of motherhood, of hardcore deep-rooted, unexplainable love, I've had that feeling since the first time I looked at her. Even from the very first time I saw her face in a random email on a random day in September, she has looked like MINE.



"My dearest Emily, 
You are desired, baby girl. 
I want to hold your little hands and kiss your little cheeks. 
I want to watch you sleep and lay with you when you're sick and hold you when you cry. 
I want to smile with you and laugh with you and watch you live a world full of firsts........"



I'd almost forgotten about the letter, the one I wrote to her at an adoption retreat when I was supposed to be listening to the speaker, but instead was day-dreaming about all the days to come with my daughter. I knew when I wrote it that no matter how honest I was and how hard I tried to express to her how much I adore her and love her and longed for her, there would never be enough words to express to her the depth of my feelings. Words like that simply don't exist. And then yesterday, it all but bit me like a snake in the grass when I was sitting in church and happen to come across it. I have the letter, but I will never have her.


"....I want to walk through hard places with you and remind you that you were never forgotten. 
You were never alone or forsaken. 
God was there, baby girl. 
He was holding you when I could not. 
He was comforting my heart while I waited for you......"


I miss her. Terribly. Awfully. Fully. I miss her every single day. My girls miss her. My husband misses her. She's everywhere, engrained in every aspect of our lives and our home and our hearts. She's there because she belongs there. After all, she's our girl.



"....Emily, you are so much more than what has happened to you and what you have endured. 
'Orphan' is not your identity. 
It's not who you are. It's not your defining characteristic. 
It's simply a part of God's plan; one chapter in your story. 
And right now, we are in a hard part. 
We are loving you, we are waiting for you, 
and our family won't be complete until you're home with us. ..."

And yet, she never coming home. It's so hard, the unknown. I find myself worrying about her. There's a measles outbreak in Congo right now. Did you know that? I did. And I find myself worrying about her. I want to protect her from all the things, including the measles. But I can't. I can't today. I can't tomorrow. I can't ever. And that's hard. There will be no updates, no news to come. Nothing. Just silence and the unknown. And that's hard too.



"...You are not forgotten. 
He is there with you in Congo. 
His hand is at the center of our journey to you. 
 And as heartbreaking as adoption is and can be, He has a plan, and His plans are always perfect, 
even when we don't understand them. "


She's my daughter, and yet she's not my daughter. That's such a hard thing for my mind and my heart to understand. I love her so deeply, and loving her feels so right. And yet, she's not coming home. I need to move on. I need to let go. I will never stop loving her. In fact, I'm pretty sure I couldn't stop loving her if I tried. But I can't stay here, in this place where there's still an open door. This place is too hard. It hurts too much to long for this child who will never be mine. I need to let it go and move past those dreams. I need to focus on the new things God is doing in our lives and the plans He still has for us. But it's hard.....like really, really, really hard. How do I just turn my heart off like this? One days she's mine and the next she's not, and my heart just doesn't know what to make of that.



"....Waiting for you is hard. 
It's hard to know that there are people who know you more than I do. 
And as jealous as I can be,  more than jealous I am thankful. 
I'm thankful for your middle mamas, the people God is sending to take care of you until I can..."


I stand by what I said before ---- we prayed for this little girl to have a family, and she does.
THAT is worth celebrating! Just because God didn't answer that prayer in the way I wanted Him to doesn't mean that He's not good. I don't doubt for even one second that His way will ALWAYS, WITHOUT QUESTION be better than mine. And I don't struggle with why her family came back for her after almost two years. I can't blame them in any way for loving her and wanting her. That is actually the part of all of this that makes the most sense to me; it's so easy to love her, after all.



"...I've been dreaming of you and longing for you and desiring you since before you were born. 
You, my precious girl, are so so loved...."

There is one part though that I struggle with-- if she was never meant to come home to us, why did God allow us to have such an immediate, undeniable connection? I don't understand that yesterday or today and can say with confidence that when I'm old and grey I still won't understand that. However, while I may not know why I don't understand or why God allowed things to happen the way they did, I also know that I don't have to understand. Even though it's the most confusing thing I've ever had to deal with and even though it makes no sense to me whatsoever, God knows. And that's enough. It has to be. He knows His plans for our precious Emily, and that gives me more peace and comfort than anything on this Earth ever could.

I don't wish I hadn't had this time with her. I don't regret even one minute of the eighteen months I spent with her as my daughter. I don't wish I'd never gone to Congo. I don't wish that things were different...even now...even without her. How could I? I would never wish for someone to miss and long for the girl they love. I would never choose for someone to feel the way I feel now. Loving her WAS and IS a gift. And even though the gift wasn't what I expected and even though the gift didn't last anywhere near as long as I prayed it would, I will never ever stop being thankful for the gift that was our Emily.

"...I love you and won't stop counting the days until you are home--- no matter how long it takes and how hard it is and how hopeless things may seem at times. Being your mom is already such an honor, a gift, and a priviledge. We are so very blessed by you, our sweet Emily....."

Monday, August 17, 2015

This time it was intentional...kind of.



It occurred to me the other day that I never posted my word for the year. I had big plans for a post. I even had it almost entirely written in my head.
And then life happened.
Somehow, this post just never got written.
So, here it is, my word for the year of 2015:
  INTENTIONAL

2015 was going to be the year I was intentional; intentional with my time, energy, words, and actions. So, while this year has turned out nothing like I thought it would, at least I can say that my lack of blogging since February was just that-- intentional. 


This year has been hard. 
In fact, I can honestly say it's been the hardest year of my adult life. 
I'll be blogging about this more some in the days and weeks to come, but here's the gist: 

*I left Emily. I left her in Congo amidst the political drama and the chaos and the hard life that faces women there each and every day. And it was awful. Loving her-- one of the easiest, most natural things I've ever done. Leaving her, however, challenged me in every possible way. I'm a protector at heart. It's just what I do for my people. And Emily? She's more than my people; she's my daughter.

* A few weeks after returning home from Congo, we received some horrible news regarding our adoption. I can't go into many details, but we found out about some serious injustices that had occurred in regards to our adoption and the adoption of several other children. We lost a lot of money and had to change agencies. I was heartbroken. Devastated. Literally sick about the things I learned. Emily was fine, and there was no reason to believe she wouldn't come home, but this grave injustice--I talk about justice a lot with Noonday. I work to help artisans and their families around the world gain freedom from the injustices they've oftentimes encountered. And now, injustice was in my home, in my life, and surrounding my precious daughter. And it hurt me more than words can describe.

*That was on a Wednesday in February when we learned about what was going on with our old agency. Then on that Friday, just two days later, I got a phone call. My grandmother was dying. I needed to come and say good-bye. And I did. To say that she was my very best friend simply isn't enough. I can't even write this one little paragraph about her without balling. I said good-bye that night and kissed her forehead and thanked her for loving me so fiercely. And early the next morning, she went to be with Jesus. I don't even know what to say about her death other than to say that as long as I'm breathing I will still be missing her.

*March and April came and went like a blur. The one really positive thing I can say about these two months is Jesus. Jesus was using this time to open a new door that would lead to my dream job and an awesome move. More to come on this soon, I promise.

*Then came May. We had changed adoption agencies. We had just sent another package to Emily. We were about to 'celebrate' eighteen months of staring at her beautiful face. And then I got another phone call. Emily had been reunited with her birth family. This is such a beautiful thing. I said it that day, and I still say it now. We prayed for almost two years for this beautiful girl to have a family, for there to be one less orphan in this world. And there is. And that is worth celebrating. However, that's only half of my heart. The other half....well....the other half is broken. Completely and totally and utterly broken. My daughter will never come home. She will never sleep in her bed. She will never leave cookies out for Santa with her sisters. I won't kiss her the day she starts school or goes on her first date or leaves for college. There will be no bedtime stories and snuggling on the coach and listening to her laugh. The dreams I had for her will never become reality. She will always be my daughter, and yet, she will never be my daughter. I can't even understand how I feel myself, much less attempt to fully explain how I feel to anyone else. But it's hard. And it hurts. And it's lonely. And it's been really, really, really confusing. I still don't understand what God was doing there. Why did He allow us to have such an amazing bond? Why was it so easy to see where she'd fit into our family? I'll probably never know the answers to these questions. And I don't have to. There are a lot of things I don't know, but God has made it really clear to me that whatever He is doing and has done and will do with our family and Emily wasn't about us. It was about her. I will never know how she's doing or where she is or what's going on in her life. But I do know that for a brief while this beautiful, bold, brave, crazy smart little girl was ours. And that is a gift I will never stop being thankful for.

*About two weeks after we lost our Emily, the girls and I left for camp. That's right-- I said camp. The plan was to spend seven weeks at camp where I worked in college. Libby would be a camper, I would be on staff, and Hollyn would be really cute in her camp uniform. It would be how we spent the summer without Emily....until there was no more Emily to wait for. Then it became our way to move on and start fresh. Oh, and did I mention we were moving? While we were at camp? Our life is lots of things, but it is very rarely boring. So, we packed up (for camp and to move. Just call me an over-achiever.), kissed Lee good-bye,  and left for seven weeks at camp. At least that was the plan. Unfortunately, after just three weeks, Libby developed a highly-contagious skin infection, so home we came....except we were currently in betweens. So we spent a few days quarantined in a hotel room before heading home to our NEW home....four weeks early.

Which bring me to now. Things are getting settled. We are finding our new normal. I'm working my way out of the drama and the cloud I've been living in for the past few months. And I'm finding my place in my dream job. There are things to be said. I just haven't been ready to say them until now. And some of them I'm still not quite ready to say. This blogging break was intentional, even though the chaos was not.  But here we go. Get ready blog world....because I'm back. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Life Lately



Things have been kind of crazy lately-- 
no normal routine for us. 

I'll give you the short and simple version: 

-Have you ever had a double ear infection for over a month? I have. 
Here's to hope the third round of antibiotics is where it's at. 

-Adoption paperwork schmaperwork. It's basically all a blur at this point. 

-Hollyn went on a day trip with my mom last week to see Jake and the Neverland Pirates
 (and all of his friends apparently) on stage. 
Note: If she tells you she likes cotton candy, she's lying. 

- The new Noonday Collection line launches tomorrow, and I'm all kinds of excited about it. 

-Nothing says HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY like a giant box of peppermint coffee flavored K-cups, am I right or am I right?

-Road trip planning is my favorite, and the girls and I are gearing up to head South in just a few weeks. 

-Speaking of road trip, we have something big in the works. More to come on this soon, but let's just say the girls and I will be anything but bored this Summer. 


Here's to hoping your Monday is all kinds of fabulous and filled with hot chocolate, a movie that makes you laugh out loud, and snuggling with the ones you love. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feed their tummies.


I have been so amazed throughout our adoption process at the ways God has worked to connect me to others with a little one in Congo. But, I can honestly say that no one has blessed me more than my friend and mentor Jenny. Jenny's daughter came home this past summer, but Jenny's heart is still yearning to do more for the children in the DRC.
And I'm so glad it is. 

Jenny and her husband are the founders of Feed Their Tummies, a program that works to provide food for orphaned children in the Congo. 

And a little over a month ago, Jenny brought tears to my eyes when she suggested providing food for Emily's orphanage while I was in country. 
I cried happy tears that day,
but I cried so many more on the day we were able to deliver the food to those most precious babies. 


I have to be honest and say that food is something I often take for granted.
I've never gone to bed hungry or known that heartache. 
But, I see food differently now. 


Food is life-giving in so many ways. 
A warm meal is good for the body and soul. 

Food brings comfort. 
Food heals wounds. 
Food helps us grow. 
Food refreshes us. 
Food gives us energy. 
Food creates hope. 



And these babies can't grow without it.
Having access to good nutrition-giving foods can literally change their lives.....
and save them. 




Want to get involved with Feed Their Tummies? 
Please do. 

Visit their website, learn more, donate, and change the life of a child in the DRC. 





Monday, February 2, 2015

Thank you.


I've been home a little over a week, 
and yet I still don't feel ready to share all that in my head and on my heart. 
Some things I want to keep within our family, 
and other things-- well, I'm still searching for the words. 

But, one thing I'm completely ready to say is thank you.
I asked on Facebook for people to donate formula, cloth diapers, and other supplies to the orphanage. 
The response was overwhelmingly wonderful. 
Nothing blesses me more than to see people blessing others. 
Nothing. 

I was so thankful to get to help deliver the donations to the orphanage. 
I felt like we were delivering pounds and pounds of hope and life and love to these precious babies. 

I can say without a doubt that these donations are LITERALLY changing the lives
of these children. 

Lord willing, these orphans will all have families one day soon. 
But for today, we, the body of Christ, are their family. 

And being able to see the smiles on their faces and sleep tonight knowing that 
they will have diapers and medical supplies and formula today
 is a moment I will 
never forget. 

Thank you to all who gave. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.