Our Miracle Boy

Most of you have seen our video, introducing our newly official son, Dalton. Our adoption day was Friday, and we spent the weekend celebrating big.

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We wanted to show off his handsome face and let you oooh and ahhh over those blue eyes like we do. But what we couldn’t fit in the video was the miraculous entwining of Dalton’s story and ours. God’s hand moved mightily through our lives, and I don’t believe the details are small coincidences.

The first miracle of our meeting was announced during the first home visit after Dalton was placed with us. Our support-worker said, “he never should have come to you. They made a mistake.”

On the day Dalton was to be moved, the DCS employee making the call mixed something up, and called us by mistake. She was supposed to have called a waiting family, pre-selected as an adoptive home. She was supposed to call someone else. But she called us. And we said yes. Thank God for her mistake.

I also discovered, reading through old journals, that on the day Dalton was born, I had a dream that woke me in tears about our baby. We had adopted a newborn baby and it felt so real, my heart ached for weeks afterward. I believe God was telling me I was a mother. I only needed to wait.

But my favorite detail of our miracle boy’s story is this: on the day Dalton went into state custody the first time, we signed up for our first foster care classes.

It was our first step toward each other. Both of us stepping out into the unknown at the same time. Our stories took time, both stories moved through pain and fear. But God knew. The stirring in our hearts was big and planned from the start.

As Dalton so beautifully explained a few nights ago before bed, “I was in your heart and God told you, ‘be patient’ and you were waiting for your Dalty and God told you, ‘wait for that Dalty!’ and then I was here!”

Thank you, Lord. My son is here.

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Six Months

When I was standing in Chipotle six months ago, talking on the phone to the DCS worker and I said, “YES! How long?” I heard, “we think 6 months.” Knowing full well that things are never that cut and dry with the foster care system, I geared up for 6 months but earnestly stepped into the unknown.

The thing about foster care is that plans get changed, people have small victories and large ones – small setbacks and large ones, court dates are scheduled and rescheduled, paperwork gets shuffled, caseworkers quit, unknown after unknown, delay after delay, we plug along because God asked us to step into this unknown. We say, “for however long our family looks like this, we thank you, Lord” in our nightly prayers. We ask for strength for the possible worst outcomes and we hope and we hope and we hope for what we think is the best.

In most hard things in life, I have found that the unknown is the hardest part… the part that makes me think, “I can’t do this,” so many times. And I can’t do it. I am sometimes bitter and possessive, I am fighting a battle that is hard and foreign, and I am always forgetting to trust.

But this week we hit the six month mark of our life with D, and we have some upcoming meetings regarding his future and our future. We still don’t know if D will be with us forever or if our D is only “our D” for a short while. In this small milestone, I’ve been thinking and praying for all of us who know this boy and love this boy and call him “our D.” Our happy, determined, strong and smart boy. He doesn’t have Dave’s nose, but he is a hard and determined worker, just like his Daddy Dave. He doesn’t have my eyes or my hair, but he is cuddly and loves to be silly, like his Mama Steph. He’s SO polite and smart, like his Mommy J and he is kind and brave like his Daddy J. He looks just like his birth mom. Just like her. There are so many more people who know him as “their D”- people I will likely never meet, never even know their names. So thankful that our D is so loved.

We have seen him change so much in just these 6 months. He loves to talk. All day every day chatting away. He trusts that I won’t hurt him when we are playing. He believes Dave when he tells him he’ll be home after work. He says, “I love you too,” when I tell him 1000 times a day that I love him. He just fits here, with us. It feels like it has always been us. It is fulfilling and joyful and life-giving work. So this week when more unknowns arise and more details get thrown into the mix, I will thank God for our D, for *this* family- however long our family looks like this- and I will choose to trust.

We are still walking the unknown. We are hoping for our family to be forever, but trying to hope with our hands lifted high, opened to release him if we must. It will be fiercely painful if D leaves us. We are not superheroes. Our “we could never let go” feelings are not gone. We have just begun. Still we pray – for however long our family looks like this, we thank you, Lord.

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Gifted

My personal motto is “Make every day.”

The older I get, the more I learn about myself. (Oh! Surprise! A gal in her 20’s is self-discovering!) And one thing I have learned in the past few years is that I *need* to be creative- and really often. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Sometimes “making” is just dinner, or I redraw something on my chalkboard, or I whip out a quick little sketch before bed. Just that little bit can make such a difference in my attitude. But on days my “making” is a big project or an in-depth product, I feel so ME and cheerful.

Which makes me remember that God giving us talents is a really big deal. Using those talents (even in the tiniest ways) is a really fun way to feel connected to the Creator. I’ve been trying to be more public about my creative side, lately. It started as a self-promotion/marketing necessity (which is hands-down the WORST part of being self employed) and forced me to take a long look at my desire to be private about what I make. There’s something very vulnerable and weird about displaying your talents. Even me saying that right now makes me feel gross. Calling my creativity a talent? To the Internet? Gross. What if people are like, “uh, if that’s your talent, you’re in trouble” or people think I’m being conceited by saying I have a talent? Ridiculous, self. God gave me this gift. On purpose! He wants me to use it. He wants me to tell people that His gifts are real and good and awesome. I try to pray that I give him glory every day. If that means posting a picture of a thing I made on Instagram, as weird as it is, that can be a small step in the way I worship and say, “thank you God for the gifts you give me.”

And on that note… here is a thing I made. It’s a pretty good summary of all these things I’ve been thinking about lately.

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No Control

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August. I don’t care for it. It’s hot and humid (my two least favorite weathers), and I’m usually on the tail end of a “everyone gets vacations except us” sort of a pity party, and it marks another year of infertility. This marks the end of year 4. It’s hot and humid, dumb old August, and it’s 4 years of unanswered questions and “trying not to think about IT.”

Maybe this 4th anniversary of noncontrol is triggering my growing realization that I have no control over anything. It could be my inability to control my own sleep, as more nights of insomnia warp my brain into emotional, useless mush. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m pouring every piece of me into a child I love endlessly but can’t even call my own. Or maybe I’m feeling like I have no control because of court dates and meetings and nightmares I can’t fix, but want to so desperately. Or the utter out-of-control chaos of life with a toddler in general (meal times, date nights, travel, tempers, leaving the house, schedules, all of it really). Or it could be the fact that I have my heart set on THINGS of this world that I shouldn’t have my heart set on. Bigger houses, cuter clothes, another paycheck. It could be the pressure of being a freelance artist I am beginning to really feel in this busy season- the working so so hard all day and making hardly enough to pay one bill (definitely not enough to repair the car for the 5000th time, because what I really needed was another dadgum car repair) and not knowing when the next project will come through. It could be work schedules for Dave and more nights of putting D to bed by myself, knowing I will have only one evening this week to really see him, so we better get all our sweetness and fun and all our arguing and all our relaxation into those few hours. This life is insanely hard. Though it is blessed through and through, it is hard. Whatever the reasons are, I am feeling them all at once. I am racing to grab on to the last thread of control in my life and I can’t find it. Anywhere.

So tonight as one more pretty house I wished for slips through my fingers, one more year of infertility ticks by, and one more night of being physically unable to sleep when I JUST WANT TO SLEEP, I bring it all to the feet of Jesus.

Because many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Because he said, “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Because, Lord, weary doesn’t even begin to cover this mess.

And because the only reassurance I have in being wholly out-of-control is knowing that I was never intended to be in control. For that I am thankful. In that I find peace.

What’s Best For Us All

Going in to foster care, my brain was trying desperately to align with my heart and my reality. My heart said, “mother.” My reality said, “not now.” And my brain stood in the gap, grasping at puzzle pieces, trying to fit it together.

If you had asked me at the beginning of that foster care journey what I imagined it looking like, I would have told you I imagined a newborn baby girl. It’s what my dreams held, what my home felt most prepared for, what I longed for the most. As my plans often do, that idea got pushed away and reformatted and became something new and wonderful.

Today I got a call for a 4-day-old, drug-exposed baby girl. I don’t know her name or her history. I know I would have loved her fast and deep. I believe my heart would have realized a dream it’s been dreaming since I was a little girl. But I know it wasn’t what’s best for us.

What’s best for the sweet boy asleep down the hall is that he is my priority. I am fighting a hard battle for him and with him. It is us against history, against genetic wiring, against statistics and generalizations. He deserves every bit of the fight I’ve got in me.

So, sweet baby girl, I’m praying you are safe and sleeping tonight in a room down the hall from a mama who is ready to fight for you.

My 26th Mother’s Day

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I’ve been on this earth for 26 Mother’s Days. Most of them have been celebratory of the women I love the most. The great-grandma who speaks truth and light and grace in all things. The grandma who made fried chicken in a cast iron skillet on Sundays and still sings hymns when other words won’t come. The grandma who shows me examples of love everywhere we are- how to love my husband and my family and my church. The mother-in-law who not only gave me the gift of a godly and wise husband, but is a friend and counselor. The mama who pours her heart out to empty every day and then starts again the next day as if it’s not great and hard work to love her children so deeply. The Nashville mothers I have held dearly. My closest friends- the women who have stepped into the gap in my life to make me feel loved where I am, who brought me soup when I was sick, loved me on my darkest days, and treated me as family.

The last four Mother’s days have been a struggle in some way. I’ve written about my infertility so much. I will keep writing those blog posts because there are more of us out there than I can stand and I want us to be in this together. I’ve written blog posts about how hard Mother’s Day can be for women who want nothing more than to be a mother and cannot. And I will keep writing those posts because difficult days don’t go away in the 4th year of infertility and the 7th year and the 20th year and they don’t go away when you find a new path to motherhood. I’ve written posts about hope and about pain, about past, present, and future.

But this year is a new kind of Mother’s Day. This is the year I found motherhood at 5am. Pulled it into my living room and read it a story after driving overnight with my heart exploding with hope. This is the year I woke up on Mother’s Day with squirmy baby feet in my hair, got called mommy 100 times, was asked for when needing comfort. This is the year I am mama.

To all the mamas. The mamas with kids and without, the foster mamas who are temporary and forever all at the same time, the mamas who have lost littles and the littles who have lost mamas, I hope your day has felt blessed.

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The Exclusive Club – Guest Post

My dear friend, Kim, has a great story to tell, and I wanted to be sure to ask her to share it with you all this Mother’s Day. I know the hard road of infertility she is traveling, and am so beyond excited to share in her joy now. Thanks so much for sharing, Kim!

About three and a half years ago the Lord made me a mother. My husband and I were so surprised to find out we were expecting! However, at 11 weeks, we lost our sweet baby. Our pregnancy at that time had been one of those ‘werent trying, but weren’t exactly not trying’ type of things, so we both were relieved when I did get pregnant because it had been a few months and no surprises. That pregnancy seemed to give confirmation that everything seemed to appear in working order. We grieved for our sweet angel baby, and began trying again shortly after. But nothing happened. Month after month, nothing happened. I became confused, angry, sad, and scared.

Something happens when you first hear the words ‘infertile’. To me it meant ‘impossible’. We kept praying & trying. Then one Sunday at church, we went up forward to the alter to ask for prayers of physical healing for our infertility. After the worship ended, our pastor announced it was adoption Sunday and there would be an expo and everyone was encouraged to ‘check it out.’ My husband looked at me, and we both knew we were going. It was life changing and that day the Lord revealed to me His plans for me and my future family. We began the adoption process the following week.

Starting the adoption process was exciting, but at the same time it was draining. I was so excited and over-eager to grow my family. The days went by and nothing happened. I was still not a mother. Now at this point I just didn’t get it. What was God doing up there?? Why was I receiving all these mixed signals?? Pregnant, not-pregnant, infertile, adoption…What was going on? Then one night, after dealing with days of late-night crying fits, my husband sat down next to me on the couch, held my hand and said to me ‘I need to say something, and this is probably going to be a long conversation… but I think you are depressed. I’m worried. We have to figure this out.’ I knew at that time I wasn’t clinically depressed, but I did know I was in a bad place and my heart was not right with the Lord. I think from the day my pregnancy ended, I began defining myself by motherhood. I was failing because I couldn’t produce children. Because I didn’t have a little person running around calling me ‘momma’ I was worthless and utterly useless. These were all lies I was letting the enemy feed me. I couldn’t see that I am a daughter of THE King! The success of my life is not determined by kids, and I owed it to my future children to not draw my joy and hope solely in them. I have had to learn to not make children idols in my life.

Two weeks ago my husband and I received that long awaited phone call announcing we were parents. Two days later, we got an email containing the first images we would see of our son. The Lord is faithful and keeps His promises! We are still traveling down this long twisted road to parenthood- one that I am sure will continue with more tears. But, unfortunately the Lord never promised easy. He never promised a smooth ride. What He did promise is eternity and ever-lasting love. He promised us Hope! He promised to walk this journey with us!

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Mother’s Day is a celebratory event for an exclusive club I have been begging to get into year after year. But by God’s grace it isn’t an idol upon which my happiness hinges anymore. This year God has made me an adoptive mamma with a baby overseas! A baby that was already being formed on that morning my husband and I dragged our broken hearts to the alter and prayed for healing! He was already creating my family and I had no idea! One of my favorite lines is from my favorite book* and is “Don’t ever doubt
in the dark what God has promised to you in the light.” The storms we face are inevitable, and our plans often lie in ruin at our feet. But our God is a Healer, and He makes beauty out of ashes!

*Dancing on my Ashes by Heather Gillion & Holly Snell