Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our Christmas Letter (partial)

These were the closing paragraphs in our Christmas letter this year.  My husband wrote it :)

"That basically brings us up to the present day, as far as highlights of our year. So, we turn our attention to the future. When you reach a certain age and a certain amount of time of being married, you inevitably hear many questions about the future of your family. One of the unfortunate realities of being a clergy family is that no topic is off limits for questioning. The increase of such inquiries here has reminded us that very likely many of our family and friends are also wondering about the future of our family. That’s only natural.

            Please note that what follows is not public knowledge. Many family members and friends do not know about this and we ask that you don’t discuss this unless you are absolutely certain the people you wish to discuss it with have knowledge of this situation. Please also recognize that this is not something which we wish to discuss unless we bring it up. I hope all that doesn't sound harsh; it certainly isn't meant to! It is simply a painful topic.
For reasons we will never know in this life, the Lord has not blessed us with children. This is not by our choosing. We wanted as many children as God would give us. The pain and difficulty of the past 6 years of infertility have brought us to the point of actively pursuing adoption. The time frame is uncertain and will remain so for some time. We are currently working with *an awesome, truly Christian agency* in the hopes of securing an international adoption. This presents many, many obstacles – not the least of which is the several tens of thousands of dollars that an adoption costs (the reason K continues to work full-time), and the time off to travel - which I may or may not have. However, Lord willing, those things will work out and sometime in the (not too distant?) future we will be able bring a child into a loving home.
            So it is that we look to the future of our earthly life with the hopes that our little family will expand. We do this even as this Christmas season we remember the coming of our Savior and look to His final return which will end this vale of tears for all Christians.

            We wish you our Savior’s richest blessings this holiday season and always. It is our prayer that you will be strengthened in faith in Christ through which we possess forgiveness of all our sin, comfort for all trials in this life, and everlasting life in the world to come.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Today I am weary.

I think there are a myriad of reason for my weariness.  First off, I'm simply tired.  It's hard to work a 40-hour week outside the home, walk the dog for a hour every day, keep a house in order, keep up with organ practice, run a side business (Lilla Rose),  and do Christmas prep tasks.  Of course, I've also got a dear husband and a sweet puppy dog to care for.

I'm a bit mentally drained from the home study process.  We got all the paperwork and three of the four interviews done in less than three weeks.  I'm thrilled that we were efficient, and I'm relieved that it's almost done, but in the aftermath of all that work, my mind is exhausted.

Finally, there's the emotional weariness.  Oh, I'm feeling emotions.  I'm scared.  I fear things falling through, us never becoming parents, and losing tens of thousands of dollars in the process.  I am afraid of not being a good mom.  I am scared of not being able to attach to my future child, or provide for their medical needs, or properly handle institutional behaviors. There's so many unknowns in international adoption, and the reality of them is finally settling in for me.  I'm finding them frightening, and it's tiring.

I would also like to share two specific prayer requests - well, they're kind of two-in-one.  First, that God would send us some kind of clear vision as to which country we should choose.  We are really struggling with that one. I went so far as to say the other day, "This is too big for us.  I just want someone else to decide for us."

Second - there's a precious child of God on our agency's private photolisting that has my heart.  I've known their picture for a few weeks now and have prayed for this particular little one.  Our agency seems excited about our interest in this particular child.  We've gotten their medical history and felt that, although the diagnoses were many, all of this child's needs were either correctable or manageable.  However, we then brought this medical report to our doctors.  One diagnosis has the potential to be far more involved than we imagined.  It's not a deal-breaker for me (though I fear it may be for my husband), but it makes the decision more difficult.

Please pray that the Lord would give us clear, solid direction.  I pray that I will see children through His eyes, not our human ones.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Ideas

I often get asked for Christmas gift ideas at this time of year.  It's fun to receive gifts, and I appreciate that both my family and my in-laws are big gift-givers.  Of course, it's not the most important part of the holiday, but it is fun!

It's been such a challenge to come up with ideas this year, though.  Some gift cards, a new sweatshirt, and a couple new kitchen items would be nice.  However, I'm stuck beyond that.  Honestly - yes I'd love a dishwasher, but that's a bit much to ask for.

The point is, I'm not desiring much at all this Christmas.  I recently figured out why.

It's because the desire of my heart can't come in a box wrapped in shiny paper.  The desire of my heart is living in an orphanage or foster care in Hong Kong, South Korea, or Uganda.  And I most certainly long for that blessed little desire to be enjoying his or her first Christmas with us, in his or her forever home, in 2013.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blessed Thanksgiving!

Most individuals that struggle with infertility will tell you that holidays are hard.  I’m one of them.  They are an annual marker of more time passed, and I’m still not a mama.

This Thanksgiving was definitely more joyful than previous ones, however, as we spent much of it filling out adoption study paperwork!

I indicated in my last post that we were re-considering domestic adoption, as well as an international adoption, with a new agency. We were pre-approved for Bulgaria, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Hong Kong, and Uganda. We could also choose to adopt from South Korea or South Africa.  God used a variety of factors to lead us to international adoption (again).

The week before Thanksgiving, we submitted our formal application, received formal approval, and made our first payment to our agency.  The services contract and notice of privacy practices were printed, signed, and mailed out.  Once again, we’re in this for real!

Last Friday, we got a call from our social worker asking if we would be able to get one of our home visits done on Tuesday.  Um, yes!  Our agency’s “local” office is over three hours away, but she was going to be in our area.  That worked out so nicely!  She was here from seven o’clock to about eight-thirty. 

We felt very comfortable with her and were able to get quite a bit of work done on our home study!  We signed their discipline policy, statement of faith, and a host of other papers that I can’t remember.  She went through some of the early phases of interviews, which including asking us what led us to pursue international adoption, what led us to where we live now, our support networks, and what we know about international adoption.  I was very proud and encouraged by her responses.  She said that our perceptions were wonderful and that she is excited for us!  Our social worker also did the walk-through of our home already.  We knew it was a possibility, so we had cleaned and straightened things up and whatnot.  Honestly, it was very laid back and comfortable,  and the state of my home didn’t seem to be a big deal.  She was looked at every room, asked where our future child’s room would be, and wanted to ensure that we had enough smoke detectors.  It was impressive to her that we had a carbon monoxide detector.  And that was it! 

Of course, we have much more work ahead of us.  We have to send our background check authorizations to every state we’ve lived in over the past five years (that would be four of them).  There are physical forms to be completed at the doctor’s office, big questionnaires with invasive questions, a health insurance affidavit, a financial checklist, family history forms, and a few more things I’m forgetting.  We will also need to decide who we will name as legal guardians for our child should we die – that’s going to be a tough one.  I honestly had never thought of that, but it makes sense that they need that information!  Meanwhile, our social worker will be contacting our personal, work, and pastor references and scheduling two or three more interviews with us.  Finally (I think?) we have to complete 30 hours of adoptive parent education throughout this entire process, and at least 10 hours must be done be the home study can be complete.  Education hours can be completed in a variety of ways: Adoption seminars, reading books, webinars, talking with other adoptive families, etc.

Of course, we also need to do this little thing called “making a decision” on what country to adopt from.  It’s going to be tough.  We have been able to eliminate Colombia, Ghana, and South Africa from consideration as we cannot fulfill their travel requirements. Bulgaria and Ethiopia are out as the ages of their adoptable children aren't very compatible with the ages we are seeking. 

That leaves us with Uganda, South Korea, and Hong Kong.  All three contenders have advantages as well as significant challenges for us.  Next week, I will be calling our agency’s program coordinators for these countries to get further information.  Our social worker will also be sending us a medical conditions checklist that may help us determine what special needs we can consider, which may also help us determine which country has those types of children.

Once our home study is complete, I will begin getting some grant applications submitted.  I know I've stopped doing updates on our adoption fund, but it’s around $16,000 right now (we spent $300 on application fees with our first agency, $550 to apply with our agency, $110 on renewing my passport and $140 on a passport for my husband).  We are looking at spending somewhere between $20,000 and $38,000 on this entire process, so we will need to find a way to come up with more funds.

In closing, we are certainly thankful today.  We are thankful for the transition from ‘infertile/unknown’ to ‘prospective adoptive parents.’ We realize that we are VERY fortunate to have saved a good amount towards our adoption at this point.  God is so generous.  For all He has blessed us with, for the ultimate blessing of His Son, Jesus, and simply for who He is – we give thanks to Him.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


First off, I want to share about a big, fun giveaway that a sweet acquaintance of mine is doing!  Caroline is a fellow Lilla Rose consultant and blogs at  She also runs an online store with skirts, shells, and other great clothing items.  I have two skirts and three layering shells from her and love them all!  She is changing the name of her business to Deborah & Co. to reflect her service to all women, not just moms.  To celebrate this, she's having a great giveaway!  Go check it out at

Next, an update on us.  In my last post, I shared that we were back to the drawing board with domestic adoption, as well as my fears and misgivings about it.  Well, God.  I just love how full of surprises He can be!  We are on two waiting lists to begin a domestic adoption, but also working on a formal application for international adoption as well.

You see, one of the agencies that we're working with for domestic also does international adoptions.  When we had our initial telephone conference with them earlier this week, she really encouraged us to fill out a pre-application for international as well since we were so drawn to it.  We explained that we weren't sure if any of their country programs would accept us (due to age/length of marriage/history of mental health diagnoses), or if we could meet the travel requirements or needs of children available in the countries we did qualify for.  She very gently persuaded us to fill out the free pre-application to see what we would qualify for and to go from there.

I'm so glad we did!  We are pre-approved for seven of their country programs.  Now, none of them are "ideal" in terms of having children with needs we feel we can meet, or travel requirements that would be 'easy' for us to fulfill, but we have decided to proceed.  We've decided to let God get to work and are praying hard that He will lead us to the child He's chosen for us.

And yes, we have already asked to see their discipline policy.  I cried when I read it..for relief.  I was so relieved it was something we could sign, and relieved that there are still Christian agencies that adhere to Scripture.  The whole policy was so beautifully written, we couldn't have come up with a more perfectly stated, Christ-centered, discipline philosophy.  We are so impressed with this new agency thus far!

Hopefully, we will have some more direction in the form of our agency's opinion next week.  As always, we would graciously appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The News isn't Good


It’s bittersweet to see my last post on the main page of my blog.  What a joyful time that was!  Unfortunately, it was very short-lived.  This last month has been a rough one as I've struggled to get a handle on the raging emotions of a dream shattered.

We sent in our pre-application paperwork on Sept. 20th, and received word a week and a half later that we were pre-approved.  Minutes later, we received “phase 2” of homestudy paperwork via e-mail.  Included in that was a “corporal punishment policy statement” that we were required to sign.  It stated, “We find any type of physical punishment completely unacceptable and will refrain from using it at all times.”  Now, I understand that a lot of people would have been fine with that, but we’re not.  We are Bible-following  Christians.  God’s Word presents physical punishment as something parents should use in disciplining their children.  We realize that the psyche of a child who has suffered loss is different than one who has not, and would certainly be aware of and sensitive to that in trying to work out how the best method of discipline. However, we cannot in good conscience completely write off something that God has commanded us to do.  Of course, we also couldn't lie and sign it anyways - that would also be wrong. 

(And just to clarify, we were both spanked as children.  We completely disagree with hitting a child to vent your own anger at them, physical punishment that leaves marks, or using spanking as the first and only form of discipline.  We believe in physical discipline applied calmly as a loving correction. )

I looked at the research this agency cited and was appalled.  She stated that (I’m paraphrasing here as it was a video) she finds ALL types of punitive discipline unacceptable because that is not how God disciplines.  What?  God sends those who reject Him to hell.  He punished His own Son, in our place, on the cross.  He punished the Israelites with years wandering in the desert.  We are so saddened that this false doctrine was being proclaimed in such high regard, and that this personal opinion was being touted as research.  Unbelievable.

With my heart breaking in two, I e-mailed and asked for our file to be closed.  We’ve lost our non-refundable pre-application fee of $300.  We checked into our two other agency options for an international adoption from South Korea – they have the same policy.  And all three of these agencies label themselves as “Christian”.  Oh, Lord…….the lies break my heart, I can’t imagine how much they hurt You.

We took a week to breathe (more for my hubby) and grieve (for me).  Honestly, I can truly say that week was the worst of my life.  There was this adoption door slamming shut, then we had a horrific crisis rise out of the blue in my extended family, then we had a sweet friend of ours pass away (not suddenly) from stomach cancer.  It was awful. 

We’re re-visiting domestic right now.  I’ll be honest, it was not my first choice and still isn’t.  I’m terrified of open adoption, I’m terrified of not being chosen by a birthmother, and I’m terrified of attaching to an infant placed with it, and then fear having to give him/her back if the birthmother changes her mind within the 96-hour waiting period.  It wears me out, emotionally, just thinking about how draining this process is going to be.  In the end, though, we know that the potential end result would be worth all the anguish.  It’s our last shot at parenthood…we may as well throw everything we have into it.  We narrowed it down to two domestic placement agencies, and both of them have waiting lists right now (waiting list to start your homestudy, not just to be chosen as adoptive parents).  We are on both of them and will go with whoever opens up first.  In a way, that takes the pressure off of us…I feel like, this way, it’s truly in God’s hands to make that decision.

My husband thinks that God used this to keep us from a disruption further along in an international adoption.  I think it may have been a test similar to the one God gave Abraham, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son on an altar.  I think God may have been testing us in a similar way, “How important are children to you?  More important than following My commands?” Important, but not that important.  Not enough to go against His Word – either by not disciplining His way, or by lying and signing that form anyways.  So there’s Your answer God….Speak, Your servants are listening.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Lord is in the Details

Well, it’s been a week – in a good way!  We are in this for real, as in – we have officially pre-applied for international adoption!

This has not been done without hesitance or fear or concerns.  I’ll save those for another post.  We’re taking a leap of faith here, and we’re cool with that.  I believe that God wants us to be parents, and that He desperately wants orphans to become part of Christian families.

Last weekend I joyfully began filling out the pre-application.  I hunted down 4x6 photos of us and of our home.  I dug out our last three years of tax returns and made copies of page one of each of them.  We read the lengthy “adoption services agreement” and went to the bank to get it signed and notarized.  Four non-relatives – each of whom knew we’d been unable to have biological children and were supportive of adoption – were contacted and asked if they were willing to be ‘non-relative personal references’ for us.  Lastly, we wrote a $300 check for the pre-application fee and mailed it off.

God is already giving us little things that assure us we have His blessing.  Number one – we completed this paperwork on Sept. 12.  It was 11 years to the day that my sweet cousins were scheduled to come home from Russia.  Wow, that was an emotional realization – but in the most wonderful way!  The second assurance we got was when I received an e-mail reply from our (well, soon-to-be ‘our’) social worker saying that she had no other homestudies in progress at this time, so we could get that done pretty quickly if we wanted to!  Oh Jesus! You are too good to us!

Finally, we’d been told to plan on getting three certified copies of our marriage certificate (and birth certificates) for the homestudy, and I need a fourth marriage certificate to renew my passport (it expires in February, and I’ve gotten married since, so proof of change in surname is required).  I didn’t want to wait 4-6 weeks for the copies to come before sending in passport renewal paperwork, but I also wasn’t thrilled about sending our only copy to the U.S. government and trusting them to not lose it.  This morning I was filling out the request for copies and went to dig out our existing copy to make sure everything matched.  Um, we have two copies!  I just squealed,  “We have two!”  I have no recollection of two, just one.  But this is wonderful, because now I feel perfectly fine sending one of those off with my passport renewal paperwork. 

Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thy Will Be Done

These are the words that I wished I could say and mean during our earlier days of our infertility.  They are, after all, words from the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus modeled for us after saying, “This is how you should pray.”  It’s what my pastors taught me to close our prayers with.  I was often told, “God’s will is best.”  And believed it.  But once tougher times in life came upon me, it was hard to get those words out, and it was even harder to mean them when I spoke them.

As mentioned in my earliest post, I have a psychology degree.  It was not my original major.  In fact, I often feel like I didn’t earn this degree because I only spent the last of my four college years as a psych major,  I was a nursing major for the first three years.  To make a long, sad, and painful story short, I burned out when a major depression arose in me, stemming from family problems and severe stress.  I was on meds, in therapy, etc. and simply did not have the presence of mind needed to ‘perform’ up to par in clinicals during that third year.  After two marginal passes, my options were to appeal or accept defeat.  I am still amazed at how peacefully and clearly I was able to understand all the signs from God that this season in my life was done, and walk away.

I did not make this decision without pain, and certainly spent several months grieving this loss.  I remember often wondering why God would lead me down that path in the first place, if only to fail.  My answer (or at least, what I think is the answer) came a few months after I withdrew from the nursing program. 

I still had a certified nursing assistant’s license and held a job at a hospital in the area.  One July night, I helped take care of a young man, just a few years older than I, who was being treated for a severe broken leg and broken arm.  He had gotten those injuries in a car crash, where he was driving drunk and the person he hit was killed.  When I stepped in to say I was done for the night, he was frantically flipping through Bible with tears in his eyes.  “I have to know that I can be forgiven,” he told me.  He noticed the gold cross necklace that I was wearing and asked, “Where should I read?” 

My heart broke for him.  “I would start with the Psalms,” I said, squeezing his hand.  “I will be back in the morning, and I will pray for you.”

The next morning, I was assigned to that same bank of rooms.  When I entered his, he handed me a piece of paper.   He had a soft smile and tears in his eyes, the look of someone too choked up to speak.

The paper read, “I felt God last night.  He forgives me and loves me.  I believe in Him.”  The young man choked out a, “Thank you,” as I reached for his hand again, and my own eyes filled with tears.  Oh, the power of God’s Word!  It is so easy to forget how strong it is, until we see it in action, bringing sinners to faith.

Several days after this, it dawned on me that had I not been a nursing major, I would not have had that CNA job, and I would never have been there for that young man being brought to faith.  There have, or course, been times since then when my sinful nature has asked, “Was it all really worth it for just one man to receive faith?”  

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7 ESV).   

So, yes.  Worth it ALL.

If God’s will was for me to endure my tough years in nursing school just to be available to witness to that young man, so be it.  It's hard to feel this way – but the Bible verse above clearly illustrates how precious and important it is to God for unbelievers to repent, and come to a knowledge of the truth. 

Thy Will Be Done.

And in the same way, the more I look into our future as (hopefully) parents by adoption, the more I see how God may have allowed us to suffer through infertility, in order to lead us to adopt a child who otherwise would have grown up as an orphan – or worse, a child that would have otherwise not been baptized or heard God’s Word.  And if that is how he works our lives to His glory, so be it. 

If that is how He intends to bring another soul to faith in Him, may it be so. 

If we are to be His instruments in this blessed manner – speak, O Lord, for your servants are listening.

As the familiar hymn goes, "What God ordains is always good."

May God’s will alone be done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why We’ve Chosen to Not Pursue Fertility Treatments

I get this question a lot – more often lately, as we are getting closer to beginning this adoption process.  It’s not a short or simple answer, so I thought I’d try to put my many thoughts on this topic into a blog post.  These are not in order of importance or any type of order.  They are all fairly equal factors.

1.  Cost-Effectiveness
The more we opened up to families similar to us that adopted after infertility, the more I hear something along the lines of, “I wish we would have stopped fertility treatments sooner”, or “I regret all the time and money we poured into medical testing that we could have put toward adoptions.”  There is no guarantee that a problem will be found. If something is found, chances are it’s something that is either a pricey fix, a lengthy and invasive fix, or something with a “solution” that we are uncomfortable with. Or all of the above.
We live on my husband’s small pastor's salary and pour what I earn (as an elementary school aide) into our adoption fund.  We cannot afford to pursue tests and treatments and move on to adoption if medical interventions do not work.  I feel like adoption has the better chance of becoming parents in the end.

2. We have issues with many common fertility treatments.
We will not do IVF or IUI. 
As far as 'simpler' treatments go, a lot of them don’t apply to us.  I know a common ‘first line’ fertility treatment is several months of Clomid (a medication that induces ovulation) but what’s the point of inducing ovulation if we know I ovulate?  Personally, “because it sometimes works” isn’t a good enough reason to force my body to do something that it already does perfectly fine on its own.  And for what it's worth, my primary doctor agrees with me.
I have also been advised that several months on the Pill sometimes works to stabilize hormones, and going off of it can temporarily give you higher levels more likely to allow you to conceive.  First off, we strongly object to the Pill, as it can be abortifacient (read more about that here).  Second, again, why throw my hormones off balance and back again if they are fine right now?

3. The most basic of fertility issues have already been ruled out.
To disclose a bit, I’ve always had very regular menstrual cycles.  I ovulate regularly.  My height and weight are healthy.  I work out and eat well.  I have had bloodwork done, and all my counts and hormone levels are where they should be.  My paps and pelvics are normal.  These factors rule out some of the more common causes of infertility, such as hormone imbalances, irregular cycles, anovulation, and PCOS.  

4. I love adoption!
I have three cousins who were adopted.  I was 12 and 16 when they came home, and I remember it well.  I remember the long waiting process, the tough decisions that my aunt and uncle had to make, and most of all, I remember that beautiful, joyous result of LOVE for everyone involved.
I could go on and on about this, but in short: I want to do that.  We need children, and there are thousands of children in the world that need parents.  I feel like this might be our call from God to do something about that.

5. Having biological kids is not a priority for us.
We realized at some point that parenting is the end goal, not pregnancy and birth.  We don’t care if our kids don’t look like us, an ‘unknown’ gene pool doesn’t scare me (at least, not too much), and having a child from infancy is not a priority to us.

I realize that not everyone will share these opinions, and that’s fine with me.  I don’t think that those who take different paths to resolve their infertility are wrong.  This is simply our way of thinking, and how we feel God has led us to build our family through adoption.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The most exciting thing that happened to me this summer...

At orientation for work several weeks ago, everyone was asked to stand up, introduce themselves, and tell what was the most exciting part of their summer.

I think I said, "The best part of my summer was our trip to visit with family.' Actually, the most exciting event was this incident:
(I decided against posting the 'immediately-after-stitches' photo where there's a fair amount of blood smeared around my hand.  You are welcome. :)

Here's how it happened:
We have a small kitchen with not very much cabinet space.  Because of this, I had to think out-of-the-box when I unpacked all our kitchen stuff into the cabinets.  Our toaster, combination food processor/blender, and parts are in a high upper cabinet above the sink.

About three weeks ago, I got home from a morning walk and decided to make some smoothies.  I reached up and grabbed the blender.  Unbeknownst to me, the blade attachment for the food processor was just sitting up there, and the blender cord caught those blades and pulled them out.  They fell and planted themselves between my fingers. It happened so quickly...just all of a sudden I have big streams of blood running down my arm from this gigantic scary HOLE in between my fingers.

Somehow, I was able to think coherently enough to grab a clean old towel and apply pressure first, and call my husband second.  He answered, and I came right out with, "Um, I need you to take me to the doctor right now.  I need stitches."  Thank God we live right next door to our church, where he works.  We loaded in the car, I called the clinic to let them know I was coming, while my husband drove more quickly than he usually does. ;)

I have LOVED our doctors and their clinic from my first day there last summer, but they impressed me even more that day.  They were able to get me in almost immediately and willing to take care of me right there, rather then sending me to an urgent care facility or the ER.  I had to soak my hand in betadine for awhile, then got the horrible numbing injection up two nerves in my hand (that was horrible -  sort of feeling, sort of not feeling him dig around inside my hand with a big needle for what felt like five minutes.  Ugh.  I shiver just thinking about it!).  After that had taken effect, they sewed me up with five stitches, gave me a tetanus booster, and sent me home.  My doctor said most stitches need to stay in for 7-10 days, but I absolutely needed 10 days because that cut was so deep.  I got it checked on day 11 because day 10 fell on a Sunday, and actually ended up needed to go 14 days because it hadn't closed enough.  It is looking good, just a little bit raw from skin that is still peeling.  The scar is not the noticeable unless you are looking for it.

I quickly realized that we had a lot to be thankful for with this incident.  We are very thankful that our little, local, rural clinic has awesome physicians that are willing and able to take 'urgent care' cases like this.  Because of that, we were able to avoid an ER bill.  I am grateful that this happened in my left hand and I am a righty.  My doctor noted that I was VERY lucky that blade didn't slice any nerves or ligaments.  If it had, I would need full-out hand surgery.  Finally, a bit superficially - I'm thankful that I didn't get any blood on the new skirt and top I was wearing.

And no, I don't need a better kitchen storage solution - I tossed that nasty blade attachment in the trash.  I've only ever used the grater attachment for the food processor anyways.


I apologize for the long gap in between postings.  School started two weeks ago, which means I am working 40 hours/week again.  Wahoo - not.  I am so content to be home full-time, and it's really a challenge for me to get up and dedicate myself to work each weekday.  I have to continually remind myself that this is a means to an end, and that it will be worth it ALL when we reach that beautiful end.

Here is the latest on our adoption journey: We have made the decision to pursue an international adoption from South Korea and are planning to pre-apply in January.  (Yeah, I SO wish we could just start right now, but when we lined up where our adoption fund would be with our agency's projected timeline, there was a good chance we'd owe money we didn't have in a little over a year.  So we're waiting about four more months.)  It took one of us quite awhile to settle on that. In the past month we met with two other pastor's families who have adopted - one internationally from South Korea, the other, domestic infant.  That's what finally confirmed which route was the best fit for us.  I really wish we would have done that sooner.

I guess I should be excited that we're so close, but I'm kind of sad that we're just adding more months onto the years of waited we've already endured. Yeah, I know, I need to suck it up smile
I can't sleep right now, so I'm getting research done on how to get the certified copies of our birth/marriage certificates and how to renew my passport. That should make the homestudy go much more quickly once we begin.

This is not public information, but we are hoping/planning to make it so in our Christmas letter at the end of this year. I just don't know how to tell extended family, so a letter will have to do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Adoption Fund - Update

I'm finally getting around to giving an update on our adoption savings.  There hasn't been a whole lot of activity in our fund, but every little bit counts, right?

In my last post about this, our total was $16,377.02.  Here is what we have contributed in the last month or so:
Donation from a dear friend - $50
Lilla Rose commission check - $53.30
Lilla Rose sale from my stock - $18

New total: $16,498.32

We used leftover spending money from last month's vacation to upgrade my phone, so I have plans to sell my old one and possibly my laptop for cash.  Also, I have a Lilla Rose party going on right now and plan to have another one in the break room at school once work starts up again (I work as an elementary aide).  Finally, I'll be getting paychecks again beginning in September.  I'm ecstatic to see how God grows this fund!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Modest Swimsuit

Finding modest swimwear is a struggle for many, myself included.  I have long been dissatisfied by the current cultural message that it's ok to swim in less than your bra and underwear.  To be honest, for much of my life this has stemmed from self-consciousness than a desire to be modest, but that has changed in the past couple of years.  It makes me happy to think that wearing a suit that resembles clothing (rather than underwear) is helpful to others and isn't just making me feel better about myself.

Not only can it be difficult just to find some more modest swimwear, it can also be tough to afford it!  Last summer I had an idea of how to 'convert' a suit I already owned to one with more coverage.

I started with this:

Then I cut up the top into strips that were about four inches wide, sewed them together, then sewed the whole thing on the edge of the skirt to add more length.  I used an exercise tank over a sports bra for more coverage on the top,  (I wear an item of bike short-style shapewear under the skirt to keep my thighs covered):
Then, when I was purchasing a swim shirt for my hubby on, I noticed that this women's swim shirt (these are also known as rashguards) in the mint color would be a really good match for my swim skirt.  So I bought that for myself with some birthday money, and....
Voila!  Modest swimsuit for the price of the shirt (which was about $32 including shipping at the time).  

Just a note on the rashguards - they are made to fit extremely snug.  It is imperative to measure yourself and check the size charts!  I would have gone with a medium or large, but after checking I actually needed an XL, even though I'm not really an extra-large person.  It works great!

I am linking this post to Modest Mondays.

Friday, July 13, 2012


I just had to take a quick minute and share this wonderful post.  I find it such an accurate picture of the everyday struggle of infertility - I was nodding my head and saying 'yes' all through reading this!  Please take a moment to go check it out.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer is for Smoothies :)

Have you been as hot as we have been?  My goodness.  It’s so crazy to me that we have already had a couple days of temps in the 100s.  One doesn’t think of summers that warm happening in the upper Midwest, but they do!  It’s so ironic to me that we lived in the coastal subtropics for a year and the warmest it got was about 94, now back in the Midwest we hit the 100s.  Craziness.

We’re pretty frugal and didn’t turn the A/C on until it got to 84 in the house.  We only keep it at 80 during the day and 82 overnight, so it can still feel warm and stuffy in the house sometimes.  Thus, it makes no sense to use the oven or stove and nobody has much of an appetite anyways.  I have been so thankful for smoothies this week!  Wow, has our blender gotten a workout lately!

Here is one of my favorite smoothie recipes.  I just had this for lunch today!

Peanut Butter Banana Shake

You will need:
5  ice cubes
¼ cup yogurt (I prefer plain to keep the calories down, but vanilla works great too)
½ milk
Spoonful of peanut butter
One banana
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Blend until it’s all mixed and liquid.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Our Adoption Fund

We officially started our adoption fund in the spring of 2010.  My husband was just about to begin his vicarage (Lutheran term for pastoral internship), and we were going to have two incomes for the very first time in our marriage (Previously I was the breadwinner, working full-time to put him through Seminary).  It was agreed that we would live on his stipend, while most of the money I earned from my part-time job at the church preschool would be put into an adoption fund.  After the 13-month internship, my husband graduated and received an appointment as a pastor.  We moved, I got another job (education aide, full-time while school is in session), and we continued to pour nearly all of my salary (exceptions are tithe, taxes, and extra/unexpected living expenses) into our adoption fund.

After my last paycheck for this school year was deposited in mid-June 2012, we had $16,268.72 in our adoption fund.  BLESSED!

At this point, we are strongly leaning toward an international adoption from South Korea.  From what I have researched, the cost of this program will be between $28,000 and $32,000 (gulp!).  We strongly avoid debt, so taking out loans is not an option for us.  There are grants available, but they generally require at least a completed homestudy; more often, an accepted referral.  We have yet to submit a pre-application, though that may happen later this summer.  Ideally, we would have closer to $20,000 saved before technically beginning.  The waiting period from start to finish is approximately two years, so we feel $20,000 is a very acceptable starting point, considering I make about $10,000 in a school year.

Recently I wrote about how God led me away from an opportunity to earn around $600 this summer.  HE is so good!  The Lord is giving us ways to add to our adoption fund this summer with no “real” income.  Here is how we have been blessed this week:
$40 – payment for being church organist last week
$18.30 - from my very first Lilla Rose commission check!
$50 – We had an iPod that no one had used since my husband upgraded to an iPhone last summer.  I sold it to a friend.  It had a minor defect, so I was hoping to get $25 for it, but she offered $50!

New total: $16,377.02 (!!!)

In the near future I hope to write up a post on other creative ways to ‘find’ money.  I know I have a few other things laying around that house that I could probably sell for a small profit!

Keeping it in Perspective

My husband I have struggled with infertility for the entirety of our five-and-half year marriage.  For the last two years, we have been living on his income and saving all of mine (minus tithe and taxes) for an adoption.

I work as an education aide in our local public school district, which means I get summers off.  I cherish my summer vacation, but it also means no adoption savings over the summer.  We briefly considered me looking of a summer job, but nixed the idea because after taxes and commuting costs there wouldn’t be a whole lot of extra money coming in (we live in a teeny tiny farming town that is a 18-mile drive from any decent-sized city with job prospects) .  We also wanted to be able to follow through with plans that we had already made for the summer (family visits, VBS, etc.) without the inflexibility of an extra work schedule.

Then the gas station in our town was hiring.  It’s literally two blocks from our home, making commute a non-issue,  so I thought maybe this would be God’s way of adding to our adoption fund over the summer.  I applied and got an interview.  During the interview, the manager outlined the duties involved.  The job certainly did not sound like fun.  It consisted of 10-hour shifts every other Saturday and Sunday.  There would be a lot of very busy time on my feet and working by myself involved.

As I waiting to hear back, I prayed that God would offer me the job if this was His will for me, and for me to not get the job if it wasn’t His will.  During the two-day wait, my husband sat down with me and explained that he would really rather I didn’t take the job.  He thought that I needed the summer break, that it would be difficult to work around some plans we already had in place, and he didn’t like the idea of me working there by myself at night.  He didn’t tell me, “no”, but made it clear that he’d rather I didn't take it.

The next day, I was offered the position via voicemail and asked to give a response in 24 hours.

I thought, prayed, talked with my mother-in-law (who is a tremendous source of spiritual wisdom and counsel to me), then finally called to decline the offer.

Here’s my point:  Infertility is tough and painful, adoption is expensive.  God wants us to be parents (I truly believe this), and I should be doing something to earn the money to make that happen.  However, it is important to keep things in perspective.  None of those are worth going against my husband's wishes.  I respected his wishes, submitted, and feel better for it. (And I sure am enjoying my work-free summer!)

I hope to start documenting our progress with our adoption fund shortly, so you can see how God is blessing us, without a summer job, to make it happen!

I am linking to Modest Mondays

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Summer of SAHW-hood

This is my very first summer of stay-at-home wife-hood.
I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  The break is welcome and was much-needed; I’m not going to underestimate that.  However, I’m a person that thrives on a schedule, routine, and structure.  Thus, working as an aide in our local public school district is a great professional fit for me right now (which is ironic, as I’ve never attended public school and wouldn’t send any future children to one).  Now that I have no set time that I need to leave the house in the morning, I’m having a hard time finding a balance between being productive and finding some time to relax. 
The largest, most specific struggle is my sleep schedule.  Ugh.  Oh insomnia, will you torment me forever?  I’m afraid it just might.  It’s taking me longer to fall asleep again, and with no pressing reason to get up at a reasonable hour, it’s extremely difficult to make myself commit to a consistent wake time, which makes it tough to fall asleep at a decent hour…it’s a vicious cycle.  Last night I finally got a somewhat normal night of sleep from about midnight to eight a.m.  I hope I can build on that!  I also ordered a sleep complex and some valerian root from Vitacost the other day, since the melatonin just isn’t cutting it right now and I am tossing my Trazadone (psychiatric meds don’t look good on international adoption applications, even if it’s for an off-label use).
I am also a little sad that summer means three months of no money being added to our adoption fund, but I can make peace with that.  Some day this wait won’t seem like it was anything….right?
Don’t get me wrong, there are abundant advantages to this J  I feel re-charged, mentally.  I have more time to spend in God’s Word and am reading my Bible more often.  I am practicing organ almost every day and am scheduled to play this Sunday.  I hope to play for at least two other services this summer, and continue to accompany once or twice a month during the school year.  Along with that, I’ve been playing piano at home for fun – trying to get some of my old songs back and such.  Piano-playing is a tremendous blessing to my heart and mind! Finally, since my husband (my pastor J) does not have a secretary, I’ve also been able to help him out by folding bulletins, proofreading, that type of thing.  They’re just little things, but it’s a service the church needs nonetheless.
Last month I started a little side job as an independent consultant for Lilla Rose.  As it turns out, the timing was perfect, because I have time to watch the training videos, study the products, and learn how to do scary things (for me) like design business cards (Side Note: Paint and I do NOT get along.  At ALL).  I have a couple people interested in home parties already, and summer is obviously going to be the best time for me to do things like that. 
And our health!  Is it self-centered to say I’m impressed with how much more attention we are able to give to healthy habits when I am home full-time?  My husband has a salad for lunch almost every day now (instead of the crap-tastic frozen dinners!) because I am home to make it for him.  I even got him to eat kale.  KALE!  This is for the guy who refuses to touch broccoli or spinach.  I am able to make fruit and yogurt smoothies for our breakfasts, in place of the store-bought granola bars.  I have always enjoyed making things from scratch, but now I have the time and energy to prepare ALL of our snack bars, bread, and tortillas from scratch.  I’m proud of this!  And of course, I don’t have excuses not to exercise now (except for the migraine I had today L).  There is plenty of time and energy for me to do so, sometimes twice a day.
I have also been able to re-read some adoption books and attend a few free online webinars on adoption topics.  I worried a little that doing so would make me antsy, but it hasn’t.  I think it’s helped stabilize my perspective on it, helping me see what will be possible, what won’t be a good fit for us, and what we need to research more – that type of thing.  We might be scheduling a face-to-face with a local agency in the next month or two, to figure out if we are financially ready to begin now (as opposed to waiting until next spring).  Might.  It is really hard to not get my hopes up on this!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Health...of the Weighty Variety

My husband and I decided over Christmas that we would try to eat better and be more diligent about regular exercise this year.

I am really, really proud of our results thus far.

On January 1st I weighed in at 171.2 lbs.  The ‘healthy’ range for my height (I’m 5’10”) tops off at around 174, so this was alarming to me.  For the first couple months, I simply counted calories and did my best to consume no more than 1500/day.  This helped me lose a few pounds, but nothing to write home about.  I knew I needed to exercise; specifically, I needed to start doing a workout DVD in my living room.  I HATE working out in my living room, but with no money for a gym membership (and no gyms within 15 miles of us) no room or money for a treadmill, and the fact that it was the end of February and we live in the upper Midwest (meaning I couldn’t run or walk outside due to the cold and ice), I gritted my teeth and starting doing the Power90 workouts by Beachbody.  (This is the slightly older and easier version of P90X).

Roughly 12 weeks later, I am amazed.  I feel so firm, toned, and strong, compared to my previous flabby softness.  I can see muscles defined in places I didn’t know muscles existed.  I can do 10 ‘real’ push-ups and another 40 “girl” push-ups in one workout. 

Even with all this new muscle (which weighs more than fat) I weighed in at 160.2 this morning – exactly 11 lbs. lost!  I am hoping to reach 150 by the end of 2012.

Praise the Lord for granting me the disciple and strength to get this far.  In Him I can do ALL THINGS!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A little organization project...

The school year (read: my job) ended on the 18th, so I am just beginning to experience three full months of no work duties.

Side Note: This is a little unsettling to me.  I tried to trace back to the last time I had an entire summer off - no school, no job - and I think it comes down to the summer between 5th and 6th grade.  Right after sixth grade I started baby-sitting approximately 24 hours per week during the summer, so it's been 16 years!

Anyways, with this blessing of time, I have no excuse for a messy house :)  I finally tackled our hallway "closet" (it's really just a built-in cabinet and drawers) today.  This built-in stores mailing supplies, board games, and gift wrap supplies.

 Clearly, the gift bags and tissue paper are the problem here.  I pulled everything out and laid it on our guest bed as I sorted, folded, and tossed.  Then I put everything back in an orderly fashion.

Here is the end result:
The games stayed untouched on the bottom.  The next shelf up became mailing supplies and spare small boxes that can re re-used.  The third shelf has a gift bag containing non-Christmas gift bags, and a paper bag with folded tissue paper that has been organized in rainbow order :).  The top shelf holds Christmas gift bags, a grocery bag of bows and ribbons, and Christmas cards that we bought on clearance in January.  The empty product boxes that were on the top shelf (things that I want to toss, but my husband feels we should keep) were moved to the very top cabinet.

It's a big improvement, right?  I'm proud of my work!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I needed some encouragement regarding our infertility today, and thought I should share these links with you all.  I have these bookmarked and refer to them often when the enormity of our infertility seems like too much.

Tears and Hope: The Infertility Awareness Project Beautiful video designed to raise awareness about infertility. I haven't done the whole testing/diagnostics aspect, but I can relate to the rest of what the video mentions.  The music is so beautiful.

Seasons of Life My favorite.  I found this on an adoption blog for waiting families over a year ago.  I couldn't sleep because our inability to conceive was weighing on me, and I was just plain hurting.  This was what I needed to hear.

I may forget, but luckily He never does Resolving infertility comes at a cost. This article is great and putting it all in perspective.

Blessings.  You are not alone.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day for the Infertile

My heart goes out to any other ladies struggling with infertility on this day. 

It stings a little, but I am thanking and praising God for the strength He is giving me.  I am doing so much better on Mother’s Day today than I was just two or three years ago.  In fact, it was three years ago that I told my husband I wasn’t going to church on Mother’s Day until I was a mom, because it just hurt too much to see all the moms get recognized while I bit my lip and struggled not to burst into tears.  By His grace and strength, I went to church today, and it didn’t really bother me when mothers were acknowledged at the end of the service.

I'd like to close with what a good friend of mine had as her Facebook status this day last year.  She and her husband struggled with infertility as well, adopted, and now have two grown-up daughters:

Happy mother's day to all the moms, grandmothers, and to all those who long to be a mother.

This post is linked to Modest Mondays

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Heavy Heart

Today my heart is heavy.  We have all but decided that domestic adoption will not be an option for us.  I received an e-mail response to several questions that we’d sent to our agency of choice.  Among those questions was our concern about only wanting a closed or extremely limited contact adoption.  Their reply was pretty clear:  That would severely limit our chances of ever being chosen by a birthmother.

We were just $1,800 short of what that particular agency charged for domestic infant adoptions, and now we will need almost double for an international.

I am trying so hard to see the good in this.  We are blessed.  We are incredibly blessed that we are even able to consider an international adoption, finance-wise.  It is a blessing that we found this out now and not after already having invested money in a domestic homestudy.  I am blessed to be closer to realizing the dream that God laid on my heart when I was 16 to become a mom to internationally adopted children (I have cousins who were adopted internationally at that point in my life and it impacted me tremendously).

However, it still hurts.  It’s hard to think about enduring another two to three years of working outside the home to save up a lot more money (my hours are decreasing next year and we need to start saving for our next car, so we won’t be able to save as much as we did this year).  The very real possibility that I may be in my thirties before I can call myself a mom, stings.  It saddens me greatly that I will most likely be limited to one child due to the enormous cost of international adoptions.

It is difficult and painful, but I am trying to trust that God’s plan for me is better than the one I imagine for myself.

I have memorized this verse of the hymn “All Depends on Our Possessing” from the hymnal “Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal.”  These words are so fitting for maintaining faith during a trial like infertility:

“Well He knows what best to grant me
All the longing hopes that haunt me
Joy and sorrow have their day
I shall doubt His wisdom never
As God wills, so be it ever
I to Him commit my way.”
-Andachtige Haus-Kirche, Nurnberg

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scriptures and Hymns for Holy Week

Maunday Thursday:

"Grant that we worthily receive
Thy Supper, Lord, our Savior
And truly grieving o'er our sins
May prove by our behavior
That we are thankful for Thy grace
And day by day may run our race
With holiness increasing."

Good Friday:

"Calv'ry's mournful mountain climb, There, adoring at His feet, Mark that miracle of time, God's own sacrifice complete! "It is finished!" hear Him cry; Learn of Jesus Christ to die." CW 104 v. 3

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him - and by His wounds, we are healed." Isaiah 53:5


"The strife is o'er, the battle done;
Now is the victor's triumph won;
Now be the song of praise begun, Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded You
From death's sting free your Your servants, too,
That we may live and sing to You. Alleluia!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

More About Me...

I thought this looked like fun:

10 years ago….I was 16 and a junior in high school.  That was my best year of high school.

5 years ago…. I had been married for just 23 days!  We were temporarily living with my in-laws and about to start our final semesters of undergrad.

1 year ago….We were living in a coastal town in the tropical South Atlantic region.  My husband was interning as a student pastor and I was working part-time at the church’s preschool as an assistant teacher.

Yesterday…I worked at school all day, came home, and did some baking while hubby was doing a home visit.

Today…is Friday and I have a snow day due to six inches of snow overnight and negative wind chills!  I’ve spent it cleaning and shoveling.

5 snacks I enjoy:
Cheesy white corn chips and salsa
Archer Farms’ Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bites (my latest favorite!)
Tortilla with melted cheese and sour cream
Homemade peanut butter snack bars

5 things I’d do with $100,000,000:
-Adopt between two and six children, internationally, over the space of several years
-Take a nice vacation with my husband to a warm place in January or February
-Give 15% to the work of our church body
-Buy some things we’d like to have for our home: a snowblower, a fireplace, a dishwasher, finish the upstairs bedroom to make it usable
-Put the rest in our retirement plan(s)

5 places I’d like to visit for awhile:
-Anywhere to adopt!
-St. Croix (in the Virgin Islands)
-Vero Beach, FL
-Boise, ID
-Somewhere I haven’t been…maybe Colorado or Montana.

5 bad habits I have:
–Being too hard on myself
-Thinking that our situation is the worst while it actually never is
-Expecting too much, too soon
-Longing for what I don’t have rather than being thankful for my blessings
-Getting mad at God for not giving us any children – this is the worst one.

5 things I like doing:
-Going somewhere a couple hours away to window-shop and walk at a good mall
-Playing board games with my husband
-Playing piano
-Reading a good book

5 biggest joys at the moment:
My Lord and my God
My husband
Living in the Midwest
Being able to save for an adoption
My home