Monday, April 29, 2013

My Sisters

I have been working on this post for about a week now. I wanted to write a special post in honor of a special occasion. I've written it, re-written it, deleted it, deleted parts, took a break, thought about it, tried again, thought about it, and eventually deleted it. I just can't get it right. To avoid further drama, I'm just going to keep it simple. Allow me to word-sketch two of the most beautiful women in the world for you today.

Lauren is stunning. She is beautiful inside and out. She has long dark hair and sparkling brown eyes. Those eyes say alot. You can see sadness in them when she knows others are suffering. Other times, they light up with laughter. Lauren loves just about everyone. She is loyal. She will defend you to others even when she thinks you are wrong. She has a hard time saying no. She serves. She works hard. She has probably done as much work in other's homes as she has in her own. If Lauren comes over and the bathroom needs wiped down, she'll do it. She gives second chances. And third and fourth chances. She cares. She strives to do what is right. She is sensitive. She is bubbly. Lauren can make a friend out of anyone. She can connect with a perfect stranger and chat like she's know them for years. She's a listener. Seriously. Better than a therapist. She has fun. She loves.

Rachel is lovely. Her looks reflect her personality. Her red hair is always styled in a fun, eclectic way. She is short, but just the right height for her. It's as if because she is short, all of who she is has to be stuffed into a smaller space and when it comes out, it just bursts out all over. Rachel is good. She's a rule breaker, but she breaks the rules that are silly or that should be broken. She doesn't do anything just because society says she should do it. She follows her heart. She's a thinker. When Rachel talks, she is worth listening to. She loves deeply. She holds others accountable, but she holds herself accountable too. She is real. No hypocrisy in Rachel. Like Lauren, Rachel works hard. She works until she is exhausted and then she works more. She is funny. She is strong. I'm not sure I know of a stronger person. There are times when I think she is surely broken, but somehow she stands again.

These are my sisters. They weren't always how I just described them. I've had the privilege of watching them turn into these ladies. Somewhere along the way, we went from bickering little kids into the best of friends. Few other people can make me laugh like they can In fact, we've laughed together until we've been called idiots. By our own mother, actually. When they hurt, I hurt more than you can imagine. I feel their pain in my soul. When they rejoice, I am truly filled with joy. Their children are like my own. Those they love, I love. Their loss is my loss, and their gain is mine also.

Last week, we all gained. My dear sister Rachel stole the heart of a handsome young man, and he made her his bride. She gained a husband, and Lauren and I gained a new brother in law. It's a sign of how we're all growing older and how the seasons of life change.

To my sisters- May you always know love. May you always know how amazingly beautiful you are. And may there never be a time that we don't laugh until we're called idiots. ;)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A New Decade

Yesterday, I had a milestone birthday. It was a wonderful day. I was showered with love and warm wishes and even some treats. It was a good day for sure.

I suffered some teasing leading up to this birthday. It doesn't help that my parents are not much older than I am. I know it's not logical thinking, but it seems that every year, I sneak up a little closer to their age. One day I might catch them. ;)

Jared got to experience this milestone birthday last year, and he was not thrilled about it. He did want to celebrate it; he did not want to focus on it; he just wanted to eat his cake and forget about it.

I said all that to say, I am thrilled to start a new decade! I found absolutely nothing sad about my birthday. Sure, there are sad things in my life, and sad things in the world. But none of them really had anything to do with me turning another year older, so there was no reason for me to mourn yesterday. I kept waiting for the sadness and despair to creep in and remind me that I am growing older, but it never came.

Here is why I am not sad. The past 10 years have been amazingly rich for me. I honestly feel like I am living life to the fullest. Yes, there were hard things in the last 10 years. Very hard things. There were tears and loss and pain. But that means that I feel. That I love. That I am alive! And the gain over the last years was so much more than the loss. The joyful times somehow overshadow the painful times. I am so grateful for the years that are behind me. I would not be who I am without them. But I am also looking forward to the years that are still coming. I am excited to see my family grow. To watch my children learn and grow with each year that passes. To grow with my husband, as we continue to strive to be healthier in every aspect of our lives. To grow closer together in love as a family. To grow in our individual walks with God, who loved us enough to send his Son, and now continues to provide for us. And of course, to grow in number when our next little one arrives.

There is so much excitement ahead. The twenties were good to me, no question. But the thirties? They are going to be amazing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


When I found out I was pregnant with Gracie, I immediately loved her. That may sound crazy, but I did. I couldn't see her, I couldn't feel her, she barely existed. She was a line on a stick. But I loved that line. I would have done anything for the baby that line represented. That love grew...the first ultrasound, the first time I felt her move, when I found out she was a girl, every purchase and gift that began to fill her room...Each of those things deepened my love for her. The moment she was born and I heard her big newborn cry, my heart swelled with a love it had never known before. I honestly believed I could not possibly love a person more than I loved her that day. I was wrong. I fall more in love with Gracie every day. The love I had for her when I first realized she existed was real. It was a love I was capable of. But the love I have for her today is so much deeper. Today I honestly feel that I could not possibly love her any more than I do today. But deep down, I know I'm wrong.

Then there was Liam. I loved him right away too. I loved Liam before he was a line on a stick. The line provided confirmation, but my heart already knew he was there. I loved him immensely. But I worried. My love for Gracie was already deep and established, and it felt different than this new budding love I felt for Liam. I would ask Jared, "Will I ever be able to love this baby as much as I love Gracie?" Silly me. I saw him on an ultrasound; I felt him move; I found out he was a boy; I bought little clothes and blankets to wrap around him; my love intensified. I watched my belly dance and I talked to him. I loved him a little more. The day came that he was born into this world and I heard his tiny newborn cry. I cannot put into words what my mommy heart felt for that naked little baby boy. Now he is a handsome 1 year old boy. Today I honestly feel that I could never possibly love him more than I do today. I know I am wrong.

The love I have for Liam cannot even be compared with the love I have for Gracie. It is so completely different and so completely the same. This heart of mine somehow has enough love for both of them. This heart is practically bursting at the seams with all the love it has for those two little people. This heart could not possibly love another person as much as I love these two babies.


 This heart is bursting with love for another baby. A baby I don't even know yet. A baby who will never be a line on a stick to me, a baby whose ultrasound I'll never see, a baby who I'll never feel moving inside of me, and whose first moments I won't ever see, or hear his newborn cry. But little by little, the love I have for this tiny person increases. I truly love this 3rd baby of ours. My arms can't wait to hold him/her. It sounds crazy, to me even, that I am already in love with a baby who is still just a thought. I still have moments when I worry my heart will not have enough love to go around or that because this love is different, it will somehow be inadequate. I love knowing I'm wrong.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preparing our Hearts and Selling our Stuff

I mentioned before that we now feel like the time we spent in Alabama helped prepare us for our adoption.We learned alot about hospitality, opening our hearts to others, and growing with others in community. We were also led to a wonderful church that was full of people who had hearts for orphan care. But one of the most influential preparations that took place during that year was severing our hearts from our "stuff". If you know us personally, you probably know that we have been blessed with a reasonably sized house. When Jared first purchased it and moved in, many people worried about him and his one bedroom apartment's worth of furniture in what we considered this "big" empty house. Nobody had to worry. This old house is full. Full of love, fun, laughter, family, and "stuff". Stuff we need. Or so we thought. :)

See, in Alabama, we lived in a fully furnished apartment. It came with furniture, linens, dishes, etc. So when we moved down, we took some of our own stuff with us, but alot of it sat in this big old house unused for a whole year. And we learned some things. I learned that I don't really need 10 casserole dishes. We don't need 5 couches. We don't need to store boxes of clothes that we may never wear again in the basement for just in case. We don't need a whole separate room for an office. We don't need to keep everything anyone else has ever gifted us. And the list goes on. After living simply (for us) for a year, we were so excited to come home to our stuff. But we were overwhelmed and unhappy when we got back and we couldn't figure out why. Then it hit us. All this stuff is suffocating us. 

By now, you're probably wondering how this applies to our adoption. Well, it's perfect that our hearts have been prepared to part with our stuff. Because adoption costs money. A pretty large amount of money, actually. A large enough amount that we don't exactly have it all just sitting around. So Jared and I have been going room by room as we have the opportunity and pulling out our stuff to sell. Some of it has been really easy, like those extra casserole dishes and those clothes we didn't wear for a year and that lamp that doesn't match the kid's room anymore.

Some of it has been very hard, emotionally, to get rid of. I've been going through baby things that we don't use anymore and selling them. It has not been easy. It's silly, but my heart wants to hang on to those sweet little outfits that Gracie wore when she was so tiny. The first bag of her baby clothes that sold maybe brought a tear or two to my eyes. But as much as my heart wants to hang onto those things, my heart also wants to bring our baby home from China. So every dollar I put in that special envelope makes me sing a little.

I honestly do not know if we would have been so open to doing this, if we had not spent that year being separated from our stuff. If we had not learned the lesson that people are so much more important than things. I'm not saying it's easy. But it's easier than it would have been a couple years ago. And it's going to be so worth it. So worth it.