Thursday, October 31, 2013

God gave me a gift. It's a book.

A few months ago, I agreed to write a review for Lisa Harper's book Overextended...and loving most of it!
Notice I said a few months ago. 
You see, I hadn't been able to read it yet because lately I've been....well...overextended. 

Lately I have literally felt like I'm being pulled in one too many directions. 
Between family life, Noonday life, and adoption life, there needs to be two of me...and some days really call for three. 

It's not so much that I'm busy. 
I'm always busy. 
I thrive on being busy. 
I haven't NOT been busy since I graduated high school.

But lately I'm busy AND my emotional plate is full. 
Adoption does that to a mom. 

I've been too busy lately to do a lot of the things I love, including reading, which happens to be one of my
 all-time favorite pass-times, right behind white water rafting and loving on babies in Africa. 

And last night I just needed a break. 
I needed to lose myself in a good book. 

Of course, I was too busy yesterday to go to the library, so I headed on over to ye grand ole' bookshelf. 
And what could be more appropriate for a girl in the busiest season of her life
 than a book about being busy? 

I had no idea the gift that God had waiting for me between those pages. 

First, the book was written while the author was in the midst of her own adoption.
I had no idea. 
I picked it and didn't put it down until I'd completely finished. 
It felt like it lasted about thirty minutes....and I wasn't ready for it to be over. 
It was just what I needed on so many levels. 

Every once in a while, the strangest thing happens. 
I get a book I've been waiting to read, yet I suddenly have no immediate desire to read it. 
When I finally get around to it, it just so happens that this book is 100% appropriate for the place I'm in at the moment. 

I like to think of these books as gifts God is giving to me. 
He knows what I need EXACTLY when I need it, and He always meets my needs, even if it's via the words on a written page.  And I'm pretty sure God had Lisa Harper write this book with me in mind. 

I learned from this book. 
It made me laugh. 
It made me cry. 
It drew me into God's word. 
It provided some practical tips to managing the busy times in life. 
It left me feeling refreshed, empowered, and longing for more. 

Lisa Harper, I want to hug you, sister friend.
Your words spoke straight to my heart and made me laugh out loud. 
It was the perfect combination of funny, insightful, and spiritual. 

What have I've got to do to get another chapter or two?

Five of my favorite quotes for those of you who don't read and to encourage you who do to run (don't walk) to grab a copy of this one for you and your favorite busy girlfriend: 

* Life isn't always orderly and relationships rarely fold neatly with hospital corners. Real life....abundant life....God-honoring life is about loving Jesus and the people He allows us to rub shoulders with well. Which means some days we'll be stretched emotionally and physically. We'll be taxed to the max. We'll be exhausted. We'll probably even embarrass ourselves in the process. Thankfully, God can expand our hearts, minds, bodies, and calendars to accommodate our calling.  (pg. 8)

*...God gives us specific directions--even when life is loud and chaotic. All we have to do is listen. (pg. 69)

*...often when we're feeling frazzled, the stress we're experiencing is less about what's taking place in that moment and more about baggage we're still lugging from the past. (pg. 72)

*If you live long enough, disappointment is inevitable. Drama, on the other hand, isn't. (pg. 73)

* I have grown to appreciate every single scar etched into my jar of clay because they prove I put myself out there. I've taken risks. I didn't sit idly on the curb while life passed me by. I'm learning to do the same thing with my heart. If it gets a little dinged in the overextension process, it just proves I trusted Jesus enough to put it out there. Besides, I think God digs chicks with scars. (pg. 193)

Seriously, if you're looking for a book during a busy season in life (emotionally, physically, or both), this is the book for you.
Buy it now, read it when God tells you to. 

*And while I did get a free copy of this book to review, I want to make sure you know that these words, thoughts, and ideas are mine. I was in no way paid to write this...although that would be awesome.*

And be sure to come back to this here blog tomorrow....great things are coming your way. :) 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's Not About Me

This past weekend, I had the conversation I knew was coming.
 In fact, I'd been waiting for it. 
Notice, I didn't say 'anxiously waiting'.
 I didn't say it because that part isn't true.
 In fact, if you want to be completely honest, I'd kind of been dreading it....not because I thought it'd be hard and uncomfortable (it was a little bit of both), but because I so hoped I'd handle myself in a way where what came out of my mouth truly reflected what's in my heart. 

Here's what happened. 

I was with an older lady whom I'd never met before, and she overheard me say I was adopting. 
Here's the gist of how the conversation went down: 

Lady: Oh, so you're adopting. Can you not have your own kids?

Me: Well, I actually have two kids and have no reason to believe I couldn't have more in the traditional way, but my husband and I feel called to grow our family through adoption. 

Lady: Oh, well you are at least adopting from America, right? Your kids will be American? 

Me: Well, we are actually adopting from Africa. But after our adoption is final, yes, my daughter will be an American citizen. 

Lady: Africa? But you're white. 

Me: Yes, ma'm. I am white, but I have real place in my heart for Africa. I was there twice last year and just love the culture and the people so much. And we really believe God has chosen us to parent a child from there.

Lady: You mean you went more than once? 

Me: Yes ma'm, I did. I'd move there if I could. I can't wait to get back. 

Lady: But your kid will be black. 

Me: Yes, ma'm. She will. But we don't really think of it like that. 

Lady: So your kid will be black, and you're white? 

Me: Yes ma'm. That's pretty much how it will be. 

The conversation continued on for a bit, but you get the point. 

I have so many thoughts about this sort of conversation.
 I'm not mad at this lady.
 I'm not judging her.
 To me, she simply represents a whole herd of people out there 
who simply don't view adoption the same way we do. 

I have so much to say about how so many people view adoption. 
But, like anything else in the world, adoption is not something that everyone feels the same way about. 
Even among adoptive parents, there are still so many 'hot topics', if you will. 
Open adoption or closed?
 Domestic adoption or international? 
Infant or older child? 
The list goes on and on, and I could go on and on as well. 

But if I've learned anything as a mother, it's this:

Motherhood is the one of the things people tend to be the MOST opinionated about in life. Everyone believes her way is the BEST way. But as long as your kid is safe and happy and loved, there is more than one RIGHT way. My way or your way is NOT the ONLY way. 

And the bottom line is, adoption is not about me
I'm not adopting because it's fun. 
I'm not adopting because I like the fundraising or the not sleeping or the stressing.
 I'm not adopting because it's easy. 
If anything, adoption will probably be one of the hardest things I've ever done. 

I'm adopting because there's a little girl out there who needs a family. 
She needs our family, as loud and crazy and dramatic as we can be at times. 
God calls us to take care of His children, black, white, red, and anything in between. 
And I fully believe this is what God has planned for our family. 
I'm not going to be the girl who tells God no simply because something is hard sometimes. 
I'm not going to miss out the blessing of being Emily's mom simply because some people out there don't understand. 

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: 

Adoption does not exist so parents can have children; 
adoption exists so children can have parents

Yes, my daughter will be black. 
Yes, I'm white. 
Yes, she's from Africa. 
Yes, I'm from America.
Yes, I love Africa. 
Yes, there are many days when I'd rather be there than here. 
Yes, I realize not everyone will understand this. 
And no, it doesn't bother me a bit. 

But it would have. 
Two or three years ago, it would have bothered me. 
And I can't say it won't ever-- when the day comes when someone is ugly to my girls about their sister who doesn't look like them or talk like them, it will hurt. I will feel the need to defend my kids, just like mothers around the world feel on a daily basis. 
But God has shown me so much about His character and His will and His plan. 
And I can sum so much of what I've learned up into one little sentence:


It's about Him. 
He loves Emily. 
He created Emily. 
And He wants all of His children to have families, no matter how many people out there don't quite get it. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just a few random thoughts...some happy, some notsomuch

Lots of thoughts in my head these days. 
We are waiting for some adoption news, 
which is a good thing (hopefully) but basically has me on overdrive emotionally. 

Here are a few of the things running through my head here lately: 

* Ain't no way I'm still gonna fit in my jeans when our adoption is over. Who was I kidding when I thought that at least with this baby I wouldn't gain a ton of weight like I did when I was preggars? Ha. Cravings, cravings, cravings. That's the name of the game. Pretty sure my body is taking this whole paper pregnancy thing a little too literally. 

*Libby has to do a science fair project this year. Welcome to third grade, where we don't really DO science yet, but we still expect your kiddo to produce an awesome project, complete with a proven hypothesis. 

*Adoption is confirming what I have always known to be true: I absolutely stink at waiting. I have no patience. I am terrible at it. And it's oober hard for me. 
Basically, I've just invited a major challenge into my life. 

*Some people really just don't know what to say in response to adoption. It makes them uncomfortable. While this is crazy to me, can I suggest they just say, "So, I hear you're adopting?". That works for me. 

*Halloween is next week. It's my favorite. However, it means I only have a limited time left with my beloved candy corn. Better make the most of it while I still can. 

*Christmas will be here before I know it. Wanna know how much time I've spent thinking about presents this year? None. Zero. Nadda. So bascially, it's gonna be awesome seeing as how it's not even on my radar yet, and I'm usually almost done by now, at least mentally in terms of what I'm planning to gift this year. 

*I realize the value of a dollar now more than ever. Spending money is painful for me these days because when I see a dollar, all I can think about is my daughter and how she needs to come home more than I need anything new, no matter how much I think I need it. 

*I need to read. I need time to read. Reading makes me happy, but it's just not something I can seem to fit into the schedule these days. 

*Hollyn has officially outgrown naps. If you need me, I'll be in the corner crying. 

That's all for today. 
Pray for us? 
Pray for good news about our adoption to come this way quickly? 

Thanks, friends. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spending Freezes Aren't Very Fun

I am on a spending freeze...indefinitely. 
I am buying what we need, and we will have a small Christmas of sorts. 
But our pennies are going to a bigger purpose these days. 
Her name is Emily, and she lives in Congo. 

You know how when you're trying to NOT do something it's always extra hard? 
No sugar, and a girl brings cupcakes to work. 
No coke, and they're giving away for free at the festival. 
Welcome to my life. 

Here are some things I'm loving and not buying these days: 

*Seriously, I need this. I love it. It speaks to me. We belong together. Except not right now. I guess that makes us star-crossed lovers of sorts. You can find it here. 

*Oh, sweet patterns. You can find it here. 

*Fancy, right? Am drooling over the colors in this one. You can find it here. 

*this super cute couple's journal. How precious is THAT?!? You can find it here

*this amazing globe canvas. I ADORE it. You can find it here. 

*My hair hates me. I may hate it back. And I'm thinking it's time I become a grown woman and purchase a good blow dryer, one that might actually have the ability to make my hair look even half way decent some days. This too will have to wait. My girl is worth the frizz. But if you are in the market for a good one and have unruly hair, save the time and trouble. I've done the research for you. Pretty sure this is the blow dryer of your dreams. You can find it here

As much as I love this stuff, I love my girl more. 

The pretty goodness will still be there once she's home. 

But that doesn't mean I can't look, right? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

But it hurts my pride

*No, this pic. isn't recent. It's borderline chilly here today. Nobody is sporting a swimsuit. But, like I said in my last post, I've been a little busy lately. And sometimes bloggers use pics they have on hand. Or at least I do. Hope that's ok.*

I want to talk to you today about adoption fundraising. I don't want to talk in a formal, informative way. I'm not announcing my latest fundraising effort; I want to talk to you from the heart about what fundraising is doing to my heart. 

Let's start at the beginning. 
I enjoy fundraising. 
I always have. 
In fact, I was a semester away from a degree in Public Relations in college when I decided to become an English teacher instead. My dream at the time was to do fundraising for nonprofit. And now, here I sit eleven years later, with an expired teaching license that I have no intention of renewing, and a desire in my heart to one day do fundraising for a nonprofit after Emily is home and settled, and I'm ready to work full-time again. 

Anyway, I love fundraising. 
I enjoy the short-term projects. 
I enjoy the marketing aspect of it all.
I thrive on watching the numbers rise. 

But fundraising for myself is a whole different ball game. 

The truth is, not everyone agrees with adoption. 
To take that a step further, not everyone agrees with fundraising for an adoption. 

And while I don't agree with either one of these opinions, it doesn't make the dirty looks and rolling of the eyes, and silent judgment I receive any easier. 

At the end of the day, I don't LIKE asking people to give their hard-earned money to our family. 
I WISH we could just write a $30,000 check and be done with it. 

But we can't. 
We don't have $30,000 in our bank account. 
We aren't rich. 
My husband is a teacher and volunteers as football coach. 
We bought my car on Ebay. 
I quit my job to do Noonday and stay home with the girls. 

However, in spite of all that, we are taken care of. 
My kids have all their needs met. 
We have no debt other than our home. 
We are still able to give to others. 
In fact, I'm proud of our financial standing, as we are rich compared to the majority of the world. 

But we aren't '$30,000 in the bank right now' rich. 
We are a typical, middle-class American family. 
I'm not ashamed of that. 
But it doesn't make asking for money any easier. 

I'd be lying if I said fundraising doesn't hurt my pride a little. 

So why do I do it? 
Why do I put myself out there and risk falling on my face time and time again? 

The answer to that is so easy for me; 
I do it because I'm a mother. 

And just like I took prenatal vitamins that made my sick and went over the multiplication tables more times this summer than I care to remember and endured three days in an oxygen tent with Hollyn and had a funeral for a hermit crab,
  I am doing this because it's what my daughter needs

I'm putting my pride in the closet and burying it back there behind the winter coat I only wear on the coldest of days. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone over and over and over again and keeping my chin up because my girl needs to come home. She needs her mother and her father and her sisters. She needs clean water and three meals a day and a doctor down the street. 
She needs us to tell her about Jesus.

And she can't have any of those things until she comes home. 
And she can't come home until I've raised $30,000. 

So I'll continue to put myself out there for my girl. 
I'll lose sleep and rack my brain and reach the end of Pinterest coming up with new ways to raise just a few more dollars. 

The idea of reaching a point in our adoption where we can't move forward because we don't have the funds needed to move to the next step literally makes me sick to my stomach. 
Adoption takes long enough without financial delays. 
And every day added is another day she will sit around the world waiting for her family to come for her. 

God has called us to adopt. 
He knows how much money we have in the bank, and yet He continues to confirm time and time again that we are right where we need to be in terms of growing our family via adoption. And that means we fundraise. 

Emily is my daughter, just like Libby and Hollyn are. 
There is no difference there in my mind or my heart. 
And no matter how hard it is to put myself out there, I will do it as many times as I have to for her. 

Adoption fundraising is the most humbling thing I have ever done. 
Every time someone sends a dollar our way or orders a t-shirt or supports us in our latest venture, 
it touches me. I literally can't articulate how important this is to me. I cannot say in words how truly thankful I am to the people who have helped bring our daughter to her forever family.

Emily is a part of me, and I will do whatever I have to do to get her home, 
no matter how hard it is sometimes. 

I would hope that every mother out there would say the same.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's Official- I'm Losing My Mind

***If you've been around here for a while, you'll notice that I'm recycling this picture. 
I have bigger problems these days than re-using a pic in a blog post, so don't judge me too harshly, please. ***

I think I have officially lost my mind. 
Between the fundraisers and the fundraisers and the fundraisers and the paperwork and the house to clean and the dinners to cook and the clothes to wash and the....well, you get the idea, I think I've officially reached the 'I can't take on anything else right now' point in the adoption process. 

Now don't get my wrong, I am beyond thankful for the fundraising. Really, I can't even begin to put into words just how thankful I am. I'm also thankful for my kids and home and the fact that we have food to eat. All of these things that I'm busy doing are good things. There are just a lot of them right now. 

And I like my plate full. 
In fact, I can honestly say that I am happiest when I have about four fires burning at once. 
However, this is a whole lot of fires...and there's only one me. 

And yesterday was the icing on the stacked too high these days cake. 
I went to the car pool line, crying three year old in tow. 
I sat in the carpool for thirty minutes because Libby claims that all of the 'good moms' are parked near the front. I'm trying to be a good mom here, folks. So, I sit and sit and sit, doing my best to comfort the crying three year in the backseat who has now learned how to unbuckle herself and constantly tries to get out of her seat. So not fun. Anyway, I finally making it around to the front of the line, and I don't see Libby. 
*Insert moment of panic here.*
The teacher on duty notices that Libby isn't getting in my car and goes to look for her. 
She then comes back and politely reminds me that it was Tuesday. 
And Libby rides the bus to children's church choir on Tuesdays. 
She's done this for over a month. 
And I totally forgot. 
I sat in the car pool line for nothing. 
And there are few things in the world I hate more than the carpool line. 
At least I didn't forget to pick her up all together, right? 

Oh, the things we do for our kids, whether they are home or half way across the world. 

So, if you need me anytime soon, just know that I'm here, still in my jammers, working harder than I ever did when I was actually getting a paycheck for my work, and trying to keep my head above water. 

God never said the good things would be easy. 

But my girl is worth every late night, every trip to the post office, every minute spent at the computer, every fundraising attempt, and every pound of candy corn that I consume in the process. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

And He's Perfect

Friends, I'd like you to meet Milton. 
Milton, the friends. 

He was found as a stray by a friend. 
He's fully house-trained and loves my kids to pieces. 
They are all kinds of crazy about him in return. 

He's perfect for our family, and we are so excited to have him. 

In other news, our canvas auction is still going on over on my Instagram feed. 
You can find me there at leemeandthegirls. 
Can't wait to see how God is going to use this to help bring Emily home to us! 

And last of all, thanks for loving me in spite of my short and sweet blog posts...things have been all kinds of crazy over here in the land of fundraising. 

Love me still? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

30's In My 30's: #5 and a BIG FAT THANK YOU

First and foremost, I just want to hug everyone who helped make our Little Houses for Emily fundraiser such a huge success. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving your pennies in September for my girl! I can honestly say that I cried more last week than I ever have in my entire life. 
'Weeped like a big ole' baby' is really the only way I know to describe it. 
High fives and bear hugs are headed your way. 

And next, you may have seen my 30 in my 30's list that I made following my thirty-first birthday. 
Well, this past weekend I was able to mark off one of the items I was the most excited about completing. 

#5: Take Libby to her first concert. 

We got dressed up.....

...headed out of town.....

...and rocked out to Britt Nicole and Casting Crowns. 

It was a late birthday present that did not disappoint.

My girl knows how to appreciate an acoustic guitar and dance until her feet hurt. 
And I couldn't possibly be more proud of her. 

I'll be back tomorrow with some fun family news (not adoption related...although praying for some of that soon). 

I'll also be busy doing this tomorrow: 

If you're on Instagram, check out my canvas auction tomorrow. 
They make great Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, baby gifts, and just because gifts. 

Happy Wednesday to you and you and you!