Friday, September 15, 2017

A fresh cup of courage

"The thing that unravels connection...turns out to be shame. In order for connection to happen, you have to allow yourself to be seen, really seen."

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love."

            10 years -- 5 years --3 1/2 years --2 1/2 years --1 1/2 years -- 4 weeks --5 days

10 years

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On June 30th, Evan and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. We. were. babies. But, man oh, man, I still do. This guy fit like an old shoe from the moment I met him. You are going to have to get over the cliche because it is true - he is my best friend. He is the one I confide most in, trust more than any human, and I genuinely enjoy his company most. I'm quite a lucky gal. Rest assured, it's not all sunshine and roses (just keep reading), but having Evan as my companion in life makes the journey a whole lot sweeter.

5 years

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorHalf of our marriage has been waiting for something very specific, or I should say someone. Evan and I started the journey to adopt in July of 2012. God dropped subtle and then no-so-subtle hints for a couple of years leading up to that point about adoption. We chose our agency, AWAA, first and then the country of Ethiopia (see why Ethiopia). When we began the journey, the state of international adoption was very different. Things were moving faster. We had a projected 18-24 month wait time, but that wait kept extending. The climate of international adoption changing is not necessarily a bad thing. Most don't know (until you are neck deep in it like we are) that there is a TON of corruption in international adoption. Some of the extended timeline is due to addressing these issues, but the rest of the reasons are a bit foggier. Right not, we are officially in our time frame to receive a referral, for the first time ever. However, as soon as we entered in to that window, Ethiopia stopped issuing referrals. Here's where it get's tougher - the Ethiopian government has not closed international adoption, but they have not given any referrals in 9 months. Ethiopian officials are also not answering questions about it. So we are very much in a stuck place. There are many roads to adoption. This is the one that God called us to, and as crazy as it sounds, he has called us to stick this out to the end. If you are asking yourself, why we don't switch to domestic, fostering, other countries, trust not in me, but in the God I love and serve who often asks crazy things and this is one of them. This not the path I would have necessarily chosen.
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3 1/2 years

Liv. She is too much and just right. I know I am biased, but this kid is incredible. She is spunky, funny, smart, and unnervingly perceptive. Three is an amazing age, by far my favorite age as a parent yet. Kids at three are curious, discovering and stumbling over language and humor, and are still so stinking cute. She is in school and soaking up everything her wonderful teachers are teaching her. As a former teacher and just simply a very sensitive soul, when she came home and showed me how she can write both an upper and lower case "A," I teared up. I love this nugget so much.

2 1/2 years

Because we are such fans of Liv and due to a general enjoyment of kids and chaos, Evan and I decided trying for kid #2 (or 3 depending on how you look at it) two and a half years ago. We chose the road to adopt before we had any knowledge of whether or not we would have trouble conceiving. Once the wait time continuing to stretch out for Ethiopia, we tried for Liv and BAM! one month later we were pregnant. So, we were shocked when it wasn't happening the second time around. We are healthy, my cycle is like clockwork, and Evan is 5 years younger than me. What in the world? We have done all the testing. In case you are wondering, it's not super fun and it is more than a little emotional. Long story short, there is no good answer for why we can't get pregnant.

So, let me serve up a fresh cup of courage/vulnerability for you - I'm not ok with this. Many of us have unrequited longings, and this is mine. I have prayed, fasted, done a year of counseling, and although I feel better and stronger - I still long. In the quiet moments when there are no distractions, I cry. I am still heartbroken. Strong, but heartbroken. I'm laying this out there because I know I need to for my healing. I know someone else needs to read this so they can say, "Me too." I was listening to a TED talk from Brene Brown who studies shame and vulnerability and she said this, "You cannot selectively numb emotion.When we numb the negative emotions, we lose out on joy, gratitude, and happiness." I don't want that. I noticed that I was starting to miss out on joy again, and it's because I was denying that my heartache was still there. After all, can't I just accept this reality and move on? Apparently, no.

1 1/2 years

A year and a half ago, I stopped teaching. I resigned in the middle of the year (gasp!). I never would have dreamed of this, but the path forward was undeniable, but still painful. I loved teaching and I was pretty good at it. I'm not totally convinced that I won't go back to it at some point, but having more time with Liv right now is pretty sublime. In an end of summer purge, I sold and gave away a bunch of my teaching books which was both tough and oddly freeing for whatever my next adventure will be. I, of course, held on to some of my favorite books and cannot wait to read them to Liv as she gets older (anything Kate DiCamillio anyone?).

4 weeks

Image may contain: 2 people, night, child and closeupLet me tell you about a man named Richard, granddad to me. My beloved granddad passed away four weeks ago from pancreatic cancer at 89 years old. For years, I thought the man didn't age. He was timeless. He had style and personality to spare. He was funny, generous, and always encouraged our dreams. Every Thanksgiving but two in my life have been spent with him, hearing the same stories and laughing at the annual "giving us the bird" joke when the turkey was presented. He savored life, and that is a legacy I wish to continue.

5 days

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Irma. We live in Florida, and 5 days ago the largest record hurricane to originate from the Atlantic spanked Florida. This was on the heals of Harvey wrecking the Houston area. It could have been worse, a lot worse. We had minimal damage, were not out of power for long, but the lead up was excruciating. For two weeks we knew it was coming but not exactly where. Fortunately it slowed down, but it did come right through central Florida. It was our first hurricane and I would say we all handled it well with minimal tantrums and tears (I'm talking about me here, Liv was a champ). A beautiful thing that came of both hurricanes are the stories of the helpers and how communities pulled together. During our first step outdoors post-Irma, we saw a neighborhood family whom we have never met and the first thing they said was, "Is everyone ok?" Beautiful.

There is a lot of hard, but sweet sprinkles of goodness too.  I share because it frees me of isolation. I'm sharing because I know someone else needs to hear this too. There is beauty in the ashes, but we need to release the hurts and sorrows, walk through the pain, into the storm in order to see beauty on the other end (Is. 61:3).

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Choose to Chance the Rapids

I, like most, live with opposing forces battling within me. I have always been a fairly obedient person. I tend to follow the rules, listen and respect authority, and desire to meet or exceed expectations.
However, there is the other side. The side that has diverse interests and desires that go against the norm. I have a major case of wanderlust, I desire to live a creative and spontaneous life, and I want to buck against what is widely accepted and say, "why?"


Whew, it is exhausting! I'm sure there are a million and one psychological and sociological reasons why this internal conflict exists, but at the core of it all is one nasty four "f" letter word. Fear. What will people think of me? What if I am rejected? What if no one like what they see when I show who I really am? Will I be all alone?

I like to think that I don't care too much about others' approval, but obviously I do. I care about the fact that most people in this word like people to remain in neat categorized boxes.  You are ir/responsible, _____ profession, a mom/ without kids, a wife/single/divorcee/girlfriend, an extrovert/introvert, a good/bad....whatever skill. Dare I say we are all more complex than this? Aren't we capable of growing and changing. Can our interests be varied or even at time conflicting?

I'm actively fighting against this. A battle that surely will be arduous. However, what is the alternative? Each day I'm taking time to dream,  from there come action steps, and hopefully then I'll start to take my unique form.

What holds you back? Where are you feeling like you need to buck against the norm a bit more? 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Settling into the unknown

Recently, a friend of mine recommended that I read Sue Monk Kidd's When the Heart Waits. Kidd's writing is beautifully descriptive as she shares about a season in her life where she was called to wait. The biggest take away is that the only way out of the pain of waiting is settling deep into it. Sounds fun, right? Counter-intuitive?

The image present throughout the book is that of a caterpillar's metamorphosis. A caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon and stays there until the change is complete. There is no rushing the stages of metamorphosis. "It's truly a fantastic mechanism developed by nature, yet while all may seem fantastic on the outside, this transformation looks pretty gruesome deep inside the chrysalis. In short, for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly it digests itself using enzymes triggered by hormones, before sleeping cells similar to stem cells grow into the body parts of the future butterfly." (ZME Science). In other words, in order to feel the greatest change, we have to enter into the painful and long process of digesting our old self and turning into something new. 

Several months ago I began counseling. I consider myself a well-adjusted person, but over the past two and a half years I've experienced a good amount of loss in different forms. I am no longer teaching - a profession that I am deeply passionate about and felt great success and satisfaction. My husband and I have struggled with infertility - a journey filled with disappointment and loss of a life we thought we'd have. Then there is the adoption - the wait that seems to never end and the ache that won't go away. I found that I was crumbling under the weight of these struggles. I would be able to handle the pain for a period of time, perhaps through telling myself the trite pieces of conventional wisdom that we have all heard - "It will all work out," "It is for the best," "At least you have ___," "Everything happens for a reason." Or times when I was feeling more spiritual I may have been able to cling to God' promises of His goodness. The only thing is, these little nuggets of wisdom weren't helping. They simply weren't permeating my heart. Aside - If you have a friend or family member experiencing some kind of long trial, advice on how to get out of the pain or "band-aid" comments like those above aren't helpful. Just say, "I'm sorry you are in pain. How can I support you during this time?"

My counselor explained to me that all people have a reaction to pain or trauma - 5 F's: fight, flight, freeze, fidget, and faint. She discerningly deduced that I faint. When faced with pain or trauma, I deal with it as long as I can and then I check out or metaphorically faint. She explained that we have to pave a new path in my mind, a path into the pain. She has helped me find my way into the depths of the pain (which goes waaaaayyyyyy deeper than we think), and coached me on how to stay in it. You know what's strange? I began learning how to support myself in the pain and I have begun to feel a positive change. I am not crumbling like I was before. Don't get me wrong, I cry, but I can stay in the place of pain without fear or avoidance.

I am not sure how long I will be wrapped up in a cocoon and when I will emerge. But, I am now confident of this - I will emerge different, better, and with  wings.

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Psalm 27:13-14.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

4 years later....where are we now?

July 28, 2016

So much time has passed, where do I begin? Let's circle back. For years, God gently tugged at our heart to adopt, and in July of 2012 we finally acted on the tugs and applied to our adoption agency, America World (

When we began the process, the wait time for the Ethiopia program was 18-24 months. The assumption was that our adopted child would be in our home by the summer of 2014. However, the climate of international adoption across the world was changing. The wait times kept moving out. So, we decided, "Hey, let's try for a biological child!" Liv was born in November of 2013, and changed our world and blessed us with so much joy.

Evan got a new job and we transplanted our family to Florida two years ago, which has been fun but very trying at times. As the wait time on our adoption continues to move farther and farther away, we continue to pray and ask God if He wants us to change something. Should we change to domestic adoption? Change countries? Foster to adopt? So far, no news from the Big Guy. He's asking us to continue to persevere and wait. This. is. not. easy.

We feel the desire to continue to grow our family, and so the conversation about another biological child came up. However, this time God revealed another layer to our story. Liv was a special blessing. We knew she was special, amazing, and a miracle, but to what extent... we had no idea. After a year a half of trying, many tests and appointments, we found out that the chances of another biological child is like being struck by lightning...twice. We are immensely grateful for our blonde bolt of lightning, but we still ache.

The question we have been pondering, is what should our posture be in the wait. We can't do anything, but what should our heart be doing? God has shown us to continue to seek his glory. Seek Him though crying out, praying, pleading, and just being. We aren't sure why this is our story, nor do we know all the reasons for the wait. But, God is good. His timing is perfect, and this is His story. His stories are way better than the ones that I write, but I'd being lying if I said I didn't want to flip to the last page and see how this one turns out.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I love Jen Hatmaker

I just do. She inspires me with her faith, honesty, and poignant writing. She is also an adoptive parent, and I just learned that we are with the same agency. Here is a link to her referral story. I long for the day when my day will be blindsided by a call from my family coordinator saying, "Sit down, this is your referral call."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The other part of orphan care

Through our process of adoption, I've learned so much about the needs of orphans in the world. To sum it up, most children who are orphaned are not able to be adopted. Therefore, adoption alone is not going to address the needs of these children. Yes, we are adopting, but our journey to meet the needs of orphans will continue beyond our adoption to orphan prevention. See the article below:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Update on the O haus

In July, the O Haus moved down to Orlando, Florida. It was not the easiest transition, but we knew that God was in the midst of our circumstances. We are now 8 months into our time here, and the winds have shifted. While it was chaotic and emotional in the beginning, we now feel like we are getting settled and God is providing us with a community and more peace. We are even in the process of buying a house!!!

One of the main reasons that we moved from Virginia was for Evan. He finished up a Master's degree from Virginia Tech in Instructional Design, and in January of last year he began his search for something in this industry. Lo and behold, Orlando is a major hub for the type of work Evan does. He is working for a government contractor designing instruction for Naval battleships. He is thoroughly enjoying his job, loving the change of pace, and the creative challenges of his job.

I have returned to teaching 5th grade. The school where I teach is nestled in a community and has some of the hardest working and supportive teachers I have ever encountered. It's been a tough adjustment from teaching in Virginia with all the differences in standards and testing. I regularly struggle with balancing motherhood and working and if this the career for me long term. However, I am trusting that God is using me where I am right now and so I will keep trucking.

Liv is an adorable package of joy and energy. She is walking, running, climbing, chattering, and bringing smiles to everyone around her. We regularly hear, "She is so happy!" She has been smiling since 6 weeks and pretty much hasn't stopped since.

Enzo is adjusting to the role as big brother. He is enjoying Liv's new found ability to throw the ball for him.

Since we have been in the process of adoption (July 2012), the wait time has increased 3 times. We are now in the midst of a 36-48 month wait from DTE (the date went sent our Dossier to Ethiopia- March 1, 2013). As of right now that means the soonest we would receive a referral is March 1, 2016 and the latest is March 1, 2017. HOWEVER, wait times are showing a trend of increasing so the wait time is likely longer. It's been hard to continue waiting. It seems like the pregnancy that will not end sometimes. We are trying to find the balance of expectancy while still living in the present. We will be working on some fundraisers in the near future to keep up with the financial demands.