03 March 2015

grief and hope in a time of loss: and adoption update

It appears that our birthmother has changed her mind. We don't know all the details, other than she stopped communicating with our agency about three weeks ago. Her due date has come and gone and we suspect it will be a long time before we hear from her again. Our hearts are broken, for so many reasons, but we also know that God will work it all out for the good. We have been through this before, but this time is a bit harder since we already have a relationship established with her. We hurt for her, and we are in constant prayer for her - that she would know the height and depth and width of God's love for her, and that she would know we love her no matter what. 

We have been slowly processing all of this and what it means for our family. We've spent the last several months preparing our hearts and home, sharing with people, fundraising, planning with our kids; it's easy to ask why we've been led here. But, it's not an easy question to answer.

We trust so completely that God is the designer of our family. That no mistakes have been made in the timing of each of the little gifts in our lives. We trust that if more children are in our future, they will come at the perfect time and in the perfect way. So right now, as we process and grieve, we still rejoice in His goodness. We are praying for discernment as we move forward. Another adoption wasn't in our plans, and yet here we are. We are asking for wisdom as we decide what comes next - pursuing another placement, supporting other families as they move forward in adoption, whatever He may have us do, whatever is right.

Please know that we are humbly grateful for all who have walked alongside us in prayer, encouragement, and financial support. We will keep everyone updated as we move forward, in whatever capacity. Sometimes we feel an urgency to decide what is ahead, a responsibility to answer "so, now what?" to all those who have followed our story. But right now, we feel like the right thing to do is take time together, to pray, and to wait. Thank you so much to all of you, for being a part of our story and for caring for our family.

We know that God is always good. We know that every story can be a redemption story. It doesn't take away the sting of pain that comes with loss, but it sustains us with hope, buoys us up in His peace, and draws us ever nearer to Him.

27 February 2015

a weekend away and netflix saves the day

For the last couple of years, Nick and I have taken the kids with us on our church's youth retreat where we do some of the speaking. It's such a great weekend - we get our own little cabin at a camp by the lake, and our kids think it's the most amazing 36 hour vacation of their lives. The church provides babysitters just for us, which is like our boys dream come true (and mine, let's be honest). They get to play foosball with the big kids and eat from a buffet line, and run around on trails and jump in the mud. Basically, a little boy's dream come true.

The girls love it, too. Speed walking in the fresh air and being held by nice ladies, and eating cookies three times a day. It's a treat for the whole family.

I love it because we're away from the distractions of every day life - my phone doesn't work and there aren't any televisions or laptops in close proximity. And I get to lead alongside my husband, sharing with the high school kids about God's desire to lavish His love on them. I get to listen to Nick lead worship and share is heart, and it always reignites something within me, a fresh appreciation for the gift that he is to me and to the kids. And to the world, really, because he is just that great.

One morning while Nick and I were preparing our final session with the kids, we had all of our little people with us, and they weren't content to sit still and wait patiently while we set everything up and made some final adjustments. That's when I noticed that in the common area where we were meeting, there was a TV that probably dated back to early 90's, along with a VHS player and a couple of tapes stacked on top. I went to see what movies they had, and was excited (maybe even more than my kids) to see the 1986 version of the made for TV version of The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

I'd read that book to the boys the previous summer, and they loved hearing about all of Ralph's adventures. And here it was, made for the screen... I said a little prayer that that all the vintage technology would come together in one magical moment, and it did! All five of my kids sat quietly engrossed for the next thirty minutes, and all five were disappointed when we turned it off as the high schoolers slowly started filtering into the room.

I promised I'd try to find a copy when we got home. I searched and found out I could buy the movie... on VHS. So that wasn't super helpful, since it's 2015 and I am already nervous my DVD player is on its way to the antique shop. I soon forgot about my search, and thankfully so did the boys.

UNTIL. One beautiful day when The Mouse and the Motorcycle ended up in my Netflix recommendations. IT'S LIKE THEY KNOW ME. There it was, in all its 80's glory, ready for my kids to watch. And they were seriously so happy, it perked everyone's afternoon right up. It made dinner making stress free and pleasant. It was miraculous.

And the even better thing, which my kids aren't privy to yet, is that there are two more of Ralph's adventures in made for TV movie form right there in my queue. Ready to save me at a moment's notice. So, thank you, Netflix, for making dreams come true.

30 January 2015

the big game and my affinity for sports movies.

Not sure if you know this, but there's a big football game coming up this weekend. My boys are slightly excited about it. We love our Hawks.

Some people say we are a city filled with bandwagon fans. That may or may not be true, but I know one thing for sure: my husband is a tried and true diehard. He has been faithful since he was a boy, and his love for his team even changed my heart toward football.

He took me to a game on our second date, back in October of 2003. He picked me up wearing a much too big for him team jersey, excited to share something so special with me. I was pretty skeptical, having never paid one minute of attention to football, and now here was this boy on my doorstep in a jersey? I wasn't sure there'd be a third date. I guess we all know how that turned out.

nick and caleb at the game in NJ
nick and lute at the victory parade last february (in vintage seahawks, because he's my kid)
Nick has gone to games over the years, watched all the others on tv, and analyzed every play and match up more than I realized possible. He's passed his love onto our boys, and I doubt the girls are far behind. We listen to Seahawks rap songs in the car to and from school, and I have even geared up for Sunday in my own way. 

We're ready for you, Super Bowl. We are so proud to be 12's!

In addition to my love for the Seahawks, I've also become so sappy when it comes to sports movies. I don't even know who I am, but that goes to show the influence my cutie husband has had on me. My favorite show of all time is Friday Night Lights (well, tied with Parenthood, may it rest in peace), I love Rudy and The Perfect Game. All of which you can stream on Netflix. And if you haven't watch FNL, please commence the binge watching ASAP. Coach Taylor 4EVER. Or if you're fancy and you get Netflix at your door: Hoosiers, Moneyball, Trouble with the Curve. Each may have made me cry a little bit. So even if you're not crazy into sports, I promise these are worth your time. 

And now, the countdown begins.

23 January 2015

easy and amazing loaded brownies

I think it was probably five years ago that I discovered that making brownies from scratch was just as easy as making them from a box. Easier, really, because I didn't have to go to the store and let's all be honest: if you don't have to go to the store, you're already winning.

These brownies are so quick and easy and delicious, but here's the beauty - it's a small batch. Obviously you can double or triple them if you need to feed the masses, but nobody needs extra brownies laying around, amiright? Now don't read "small batch" as "light". Because these are by no means a health food. But when you need a chocolate fix, or you have the urge to bake, or both, these are your new best friend.

These are the richest, fudgiest, BEST brownies of life. Promise.

Easy and Amazing Loaded Brownies
makes 6 reasonably sized brownies
or one big chocolate fix
1/2 cup butter, melted
scant cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cups chopped walnuts

Whisk together butter, sugar, and cocoa. Add in eggs until well blended. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour mixture into a 6x10 baking dish (or 8x8 if you don't have one). Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool for a bit, then cut and serve!

14 January 2015

a letter of love and gratitude

The way that we have seen God move in our family over the last eight weeks is nothing short of remarkable. When we got the call that one of our birthmothers was seeking us out for another adoption, it seemed impossible. Not because we couldn't imagine adding a sixth to the mix - we happen to be crazy enough to love a house full of loud and lively kids all around - but because the reality of adoption is that it is expensive and tedious in preparing for it. Doctors visits, background checks, fingerprints taken, references, everything needing to be notarized, signing a thousand contracts, more references, more doctors visits, more meetings, financial statements. But mostly, the money. It's a sad thing that the cost of adoption can throw so many people off of the thought. It certainly did for us when we got that call just a couple of months ago.

But when we prayed about it, and felt an overwhelming peace that our answer should be yes, I knew this was our chance to see God move mountains in our family. Right in front of our eyes. And He has. 

When we first told some of our friends what was going on, people showed up at our doorstep with donations. Sacrificial amounts of money. Believing for this baby, for our family, for our birthmother. Wanting to show support. To those who have stood with us from the moment this began, thank you.

We started getting donations through PayPal almost immediately. From our family members near and far, from friends and acquaintances, from people we've never met face to face. Some big, some small - every single penny making a difference. Every amount of help one step closer to our baby. To each of you, thank you.

When I asked if people could support us by donating items for an instagram auction, I was overwhelmed at the response. 137 items. More offered. An entire day spent posting with bid after bid, supporting us, helping us, bit by bit. To those of you who donated, to those of you who purchased an item or two or ten, thank you. 

Every time I had doubts, every time I asked God, so quietly in the still of my heart, if we were making the right decision, another donation would come in. Usually from a stranger, out of the blue. A clear nudge to keep going.

When Nick called a few close friends in the very beginning of this process, seeking counsel as we made the decision to move forward, we received nothing but support and encouragement. One friend in particular not only said that he thought we should move forward, he emailed us just a few days later with a clear and concise plan to raise the rest of the money that we needed. Doug Strauss was going to throw us an auction, and he really believed that we'd raise what we needed. 

Fast forward two months. We had our auction last Friday at our church. 125 people from every circle we've been a part of - from Nick's work, to our families, to Young Life, to high school and college, our kids school, preschool, neighbors, church community and friends - all gathered together in the most humbling outpouring of support I've ever experienced. Not only did we reach our goal at the end of the night, we raised more than we needed. Which means we will be able to travel to pick up our boy without worry. We have money to pay for our homestudy and all the follow up visits.

He has moved the mountain that seemed insurmountable just eight weeks ago. 

I don't even know how to say thank you. To Doug and his family, who have become so dear to us. For believing in our family, and standing with us as we stand with our birthmom, as we hope to be an outpouring of love as best we can, as we welcome our sixth little miracle. I am so grateful.

I don't know how to express my thanks to my dear friends, and our amazing family, as they have walked beside us and supported us in a million ways as we walk this path. For the community that we are a part of here at home, and for the people who have given us the boost we need even though they don't even know us. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.

So thank you. To all of you. You are our miracle.