Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More Time Buried In Books

Hoping to do more reading this year than I did last year.

Less TV.
Less time browsing facebook.
More time buried in books.

Here's what I'm hoping to find time for this year:

The Irresistible Revolution
Cold Tangerines
Team of Rivals
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy
Just Courage
Ketchup is a Vegetable

Used to shake my head at the people who read mostly nonfiction.
Now I'm the girl who reads mostly nonfiction.
Funny how things change.

What are YOU hoping to read this year?
Anything good you'd like to share?
Do tell, friends. Do tell. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

And Then I Saw Her Face (OUR REFERRAL POST)

I can honestly say I've never been more happy to write a blog post in my whole life. 
This one, friends, has been a long time coming. 

Long story shorter: 

On September 24, I received an e-mail from our social worker saying that our home study was complete and ready for us to review it. This was good news, as you can't accept a referral without a completed home study. I was excited and anxious to see when we would see our daughter's face for the first time. It's an odd thing to see your daughter's face for the first time on the computer screen, or at least the idea certainly seemed odd. Would I feel a connection? Would I have any doubts that this was the child God has for our family? Would I KNOW it was Emily? So many questions.

 At this point, I was thinking our referral would take a month or so, which was right on schedule seeing as I had hoped from adoption day one that we would see our daughter's face for the first time by Halloween. 

Fast forward thirty minutes. 

I got another email. 
This one was from an online child waiting child list site. 
First, many of you may not know what it means to be labeled a waiting child. 
A waiting child is simply a child who has been assigned to an agency and that agency currently has no family waiting for a child of those specifics, whether it's gender, race, sibling set, etc. For example, if a one month old baby becomes available in Ethiopia and that agency has no home study ready families waiting for an Ethiopian infant boy, that child cannot instantly be matched with a waiting family and therefore becomes a waiting child.
 Some waiting child are older; others are not.
 Some waiting children have disabilities; some don't. 
Some waiting children are members of a sibling set; some aren't. 

Anyway, the idea of a waiting child has always hurt my heart. 
I've been browsing waiting child lists for over a year, and I'm sure many adoptive mamas will confess that they have too. It's not that I was looking for my child, I just think that looking at waiting children has helped me prepare my heart and my mind for our referral one day. Referral pictures are honestly hard for me to look at. They take the idea of an orphan and make it real. They are real children who currently have no families. Little boys and little girls who are just stuck waiting for someone to call them their own. It makes me so sad, and yet I feel called to look at them, to SEE them, to read their little snippets of information and pray for them. 

Normally, I don't open the waiting child emails. 
They're always so sad, and my heart has had all the sad it can handle most days. 

But, on September 24, I did. 
And I saw a little girl. 

I saw MY little girl. 

It didn't even say what country she was in and certainly didn't say her name, but for the first time ever, I felt inclined to ask about a waiting child. So, I contacted the agency listed under her photo, and I waited. 
That night I remember showing Lee her picture and asking him if he thought this could be Emily. 
He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders, but I could tell...there was something there. 

The next day I got a phone call about her. 
I listened eagerly to the details. 
She was in fact waiting in the DRC, just as I'd suspected. 
And as I heard little pieces of her story, the tears just flowed. 
And I knew. 
This was my daughter, and this was her story. 
And my heart just hurt for all my little one has lived through in such a short time.
Adoption is hard and full of loss. It was so tough for me to hear these things about my daughter.  
The phone call ended with a promise to let me know more as soon as they knew more. 

I wasn't even officially sure we'd qualify for her or that we'd be eligible to adopt her. 
Apparently a LOT of families inquired about her, but we were the first home study ready family to inquire about her....home study ready by thirty whole minutes. 

Needless to say, three months passed (almost to the day) before we were able to legally accept her referral. 
But, we're there now. 
We have said YES to our Emily. 

And let me just tell you, she's some kinda adorable. 
We have several photos and even some video footage of her, and I'm pretty sure I've burned a hole in the screen on my phone from staring at her little face. 
I wish I could show her off proudly to you here now, but that will have to wait until she is in my arms. 
Just trust me when I say, she's so precious. SO PRECIOUS. 
And I am already so crazy about this little girl I haven't met yet, 
this little girl whom I can't wait to snuggle and laugh with and read to and tuck in and love like crazy. 

She will turn two next month, and that day will be hard for me. 
But for now, I am happy. 
I finally have some peace in terms of our adoption. 

I have seen her face, and she looks like mine.
 She feels like mine. 
And I already love her like she's mine. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Noonday Conference 2014: Where Magic Things Happen

This past weekend was nothing short of magical. 
I spent four days last week surrounded by over 120 world-changing women, and it did my heart all kinds of good. 

These women inspire me. They encourage me. They make me laugh and cry the happiest of happy tears, 

You see, we are in this together. 
We see the need that exist in the world for someone to be a voice for the voiceless, and we are taking ACTION. 

And looking our artisan (Jalia, like the JALIA necklace I'm wearing in this picture) and thanking her for letting me play a teeny tiny role in this great big thing God is doing.....it was almost more than I could handle. 

I can't tell you how full my heart is. 
I'm still beaming from the time spent with so many sisters who get it. 
They understand my heart's desire to serve those in need. 

And this time together could not have been more perfect for me in every possible way. 

And a special thank you to WYNNE ELDER, as it was her blog that first led me to Noonday a year and a half ago. And I will forever be grateful that it did. 

And in case you're wondering what my response would be if I were to ever win a trip to Africa, well this pretty much sums it up. More to come on this soon, but let's just say I CANNOT STOP SMILING. God is so so so good, and it's so blatantly obvious that His hand is in all of this. 

Oh, and did I mention that I got to meet Jen Hatmaker and talk to her about it was after I finished her book that I decided to leave the classroom indefinitely and quit my job? Because I totally did. 

Oh, and Jennie Allen. Let me just tell you about Jennie Allen. This woman stirred my heart, made me cry big ole' tears, and spoke to my soul. I cannot WAIT to devour her latest book.  These women have paved the way for those of us hoping to be used where we are with what we have to make a difference in this world. 

Oh, and having a real life best friend who walks this journey with me? 
That's what I like to call the icing on the cake. 

Needless to say I am more inspired than EVER before to work hard for our artisans. 

If you'd like to see more about our amazing weekend, check out this awesome video. 
And if you'd like to know more about Noonday, I'm your girl. 
Email me. 
Let's chat. 
Let's partner together and change some lives, shall we? 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Arrrggggg Matey

This year for her birthday, my girl only wanted one thing.....

.....a party fit for a pirate. 

So, a party fit for a pirate she did get. 

A few little details and a New Year's Eve spent stitching. 

I honestly think that I've officially mastered the idea of an easy handmade birthday party.......

.....and it only took me nine years and two kids. 

Happiest of happy birthdays, my little pirate. 
Here's hoping FOUR is your best year yet. 

And in case you're wondering, I am one over-the-top excited girl. 
In just a few hours, I'll be hitting the road and headed to Austin to spend the next four days with the world-changing women of Noonday Collection for our conference. 
It's basically all I've been able to think about, and I may or may not have packed last week. 

Here's hoping your weekend is anywhere close to as amazing as mine is sure to be. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Four is the magic number

Sunshine, snuggle bug, silly goose, squishy squishy. 

Little priss, precious angel, princess Holly Belle. 

Peanut buttercup, Hollyn Reedy Cakes, baby polar bear. 

Sweetheart, sugar bug, silliest of silly girls.

Pumpkin head, H, baby doll face, puddin' pop. 

We call her lots of things, 
but my favorite thing to call her is MINE. 

And MINE is now officially four. 

Happy birthday, precious girl. 
You make me the happiest kind of happy. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2013: What I Read and What I Wrote

I'm gonna be honest here for a second and confess something to you: I didn't really nearly as much last year as I have in years past. My reading time this year was instead used for adoption fundraising and Noonday (both of which happen to be great things that I love dearly). You can check out all that I'd hoped to read here. However, I did sneak in a few quality and a few not-as-quality books last year that I'd like to share with you.

Books that changed me: 

Books that informed me: 

Books that entertained me: 

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet ****


I'm also embarrassed to admit that I started several books this year and simply didn't finish them. My focus was elsewhere. I plead adoption. However, I am hoping to get to them in the days to come. That's the good thing about books: they'll always wait patiently for you to return. 

My favorite book from 2013: 

Now let's switch gears for a minute and talk about what I wrote in 2013. 
And can I just say that I look forward to writing this post every year because it gives me an excuse to reflect and think about all that 2013 was for me and my family? 


And there you have it folks. 

What did YOU read in 2013 that you loved? 
And I'm working on my list for this year. 
Any books I need to read in 2014? 
Do tell.