“Take a deep breath…”

That is what the directions said for our homestudy paperwork.

Six weeks ago, B and I received this packet with a 40-item checklist of documents we’d need to collect, essays we’d need to write, and references we’d need to obtain.  This weekend, Bryson was taking a lovely nap that I happened to photograph.

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He hates it when I photograph him while he is sleeping.  I keep telling him that someday he will be happy I did.  He doesn’t believe me.

Anyways, my giggle woke him up from the nap.

I saw this as the perfect opportunity to tell him, “Today is the day that we are going to finish that homestudy paperwork.  Nothing moves forward in this adoption until it is finished.”  And just like that, we sat for hours finishing the last few documents we needed to check off the list.  B said, “Can we make copies of the paperwork tomorrow?” and like a nesting mom, I said, “Nope, let’s finish this tonight!”

And we copied, and scanned, and collated and labeled until 1 AM.

Even though it was a lot, we were cheerful and happy to have the privilege of doing it.

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So in the late hours that evening, I sent our social worker at our placement agency an email that read, “Get ready! Copies of our homestudy documents are headed your way!”  To which she immediately replied, “Oh. My. Goodness. That just made my day!! Haha! I’m excited!!”

But then I forgot that yesterday was a holiday, and the post office was closed.

But, we had to go to the big city, our hometown, one hour away to get tons and tons of lab work done.  Everyone in that town had the flu and was visiting the doctor’s office…but we were oblivious because all we could think about was that we. are. making. progress. people.

After getting our blood drawn, B and I ran copies of all of our paperwork to our homestudy agency.

By this point, B and I were HANGRY (hungry plus angry) because we had been without food and caffeine–two major necessities.  Upon arriving to Starbucks, we realized the doctor’s office forgot to give us the TB skin tests.  Their office did not re-open until 2:00, so we called my mom and sister for a celebratory Ch!n3se lunch at PF Changs.  My niece, excited at the possibility of a new cousin to play with showed us her enthusiasm by wearing her chopsticks on her face.  photo (8)


And then my niece wanted to tell me congratulations.



But really, she wanted to wear my sunglasses.


And my mom and sister gave us an adorable “Adoption is..” painting that basically summarized the Candlelight homily I gave at the university where I work.  My sister told us about how when she saw it in the store, she started boohooing, and could not even read it to my mom she was crying so hard.  They wanted to congratulate us on finishing the homestudy paperwork.

My mom had a routine procedure at a doctor’s office yesterday, and the nurse assisting told my mom about her newly adopted granddaughter from Ch!n@. The granddaughter just had surgery last week to begin to correct her medical need. I think the “grandma to grandma” talk probably gave my mom a lot of comfort.

After lunch, B and I went back to the doctor for our TB skin tests.  And then finally back to work.

OKAY…so now today, to the big day…

I sent off our homestudy paperwork to our placement agency.  For those of you who are in process or who have adopted, you know what a big milestone this is!  Because B was at a corporate video shoot, he couldn’t go with me today.  So instead of B, one of my dear colleagues went with me to take the obligatory photo of me with our homestudy package.  Maybe you think it’s dorky, but for us, it is one step closer to being a mom and a dad…it’s one step closer for a little girl to have a mom and dad FOREVER.  And that is exciting.

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And when Ashleigh and I got in the car, the song “Home” was playing.  “Just know you are not alone, because I am going to make this place your home!”

So today, I paid all $6,000 of our homestudy payment–all but $300 was donated by our family, friends, former students, parents of students, and people we’ve never met.  My heart wants to burst.  (By the way, to those of you who helped, you will receive a small gift from us next week…all of the way from Ch!n@).  Jehovah Jireh.

Today, we also found out that our background clearances for the state were delivered to our homestudy agency! These can take up to six weeks, but they already got them!  Phew.

The only thing that stands between us and scheduling our visit with the social worker in our home is a couple more reference letters.

Today was a big day and we are making big progress…

Lydia Grace, wherever you are, there is a couple working hard to make our way to you.  We are praying for you in every step…no matter the amount of paperwork, we do it with joyful anticipation.

The gift of a dream

I have been a slacker on the blog posts this last weekend.  I normally use the weekends to crawl into my introvert cave (yes, I am an introvert) and reenergize.  But this weekend, I was a wild woman, and spent time with dear friends going to a museum and eating food.  Yes, that is how I define wild.

Last night was the first night I slept more than 30-45 minute increments.  Our 10-year old cocker spaniel had surgery last Friday, and has had trouble sleeping at night.  Our awesome vet gave us some additional pain medicine for him yesterday, so this meant that all three of us actually slept last night.  Thank goodness.

So last night, I finally got to sleep.

And I had the most wonderful dream.

I had a dream that we received a referral for Lydia.  In my dream, we were stunned to receive the referral because it came earlier than expected.  The agency supplied us with video footage of her.  She was just walking–all wobbly, but, seemed older than my niece was when she started walking.  She had a sweet round face.  I could tell that she was perplexed by the camera–seemed kind of scared.

Even though I spend a lot of time praying for Lydia, her biological parents, and her nannies and spend time preparing our home and our relationship for her arrival, most of my life and thinking is rooted in the day-to-day stuff: grading, student meetings, grocery shopping, faculty meetings, committee meetings, preparing for class, etc.

That dream was the perfect gift I needed.  His mercies are new every morning.  And, my smile was huge when I recalled my dream.

Even though I am aware and excited and scared about my future, I am perfectly aware that I have important things to accomplish today.  There’s a lot to be learned in the day-to-day and in the hopeful anticipation of the future.


A gift sour, sweet, just right…

Joy Dare – January 10
A gift sour, sweet, just right…

A gift sour.

Did you know I actually typed the words, “sour patch kids” in my dissertation? Yes. My dear friend, Lynn, told me that when working on a dissertation, sour patch kids make it better. She is correct. Lynn, I thanked you by name in my acknowledgements for that suggestion.

A gift sweet.

What a sweet family. Bold. Courageous.

Imagine a 1.5 year old weighing only 9 pounds. Imagine being born without arms…and learning to play the cello when you are only seven years old with your toes. Toes. And making such beautiful music.

Never again should I have an excuse to give up at something because it is hard.

Below, George Dennehy plays the guitar.

A gift just right.

Every morning, someone puts a freshly made soy latte on my nightstand. Just right.

A gift held, passed by, sat with…

Joy Dare – January 9

The prompt for today is, “A gift held, passed by, sat with…”

A gift held.  

The holidays can be hard for families who are in the adoption process and waiting.  Knowing this, I spent a lot of time praying and thinking about the importance of learning to wait expectantly.  As B and I have learned more about the conditions in many orphanages, the urgency to meet and care for our child increases.  But, it is only natural that around Christmas, you think and pray for this little one half a world away.

This Christmas, it became clear that our families were also thinking about this little one who will join our family.  Nearly every gift we received was about adoption, Lydia, etc.  A gift held.  The gift in this photo is from my brother and sister-in-law.  They bought us a frame that states, “For this child I prayed.”  Say that to a girl who has wanted to be a mom for years–who has tried, but whose body wouldn’t.  For this child we have prayed so much.  For this child who is half a world away, we worry about and plead to God to surround her with guardian angels.  It was a perfect gift.

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A Gift Passed By

This is B on the Glacier Express in Switzerland.  Literally, the MOST BEAUTIFUL scenery ever.

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A Gift Sat With

Comfort food. Huevos Rancheros.  I could sit with this delicious gift any day.photo (5)


So what would be your gift held, passed by and sat with?

A Joy Dare – Day 3

As I mentioned before, I am participating in the Joy Dare.  You should too.  Read about it here http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares/.


Today’s prompt is –Dusky Light. Surprising Reflection. Lovely Shadow.

Dusky Light

This sunset in Greece.  Bryson and I went on a semi-private cruise around Santorini, Greece.  My God is the best artist.


Surprising Reflection


My surprising reflection is the reflection of me in the mirror in this photo.  My bag is packed.  I had just finished my doctorate.  My husband and I were about to embark on a one month adventure through Europe to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary.  I will forever cherish that trip.  So lovely. And yes, what I am carrying on my back was my only bag!

Lovely Shadow

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My niece is a lovely shadow.  She is two years old and full of spunk and sass–she is her momma’s child after all.  She is her momma’s lovely shadow.  Although young, she loves to try on high heels, stick that hip of hers out, throw that hand on her hip, and walk down the aisle of the shoe store like she is a runway model.  This is a photo of her when we went shoe shopping.

January 7 – Joy Dare

Today’s prompt for the 1,000 Gifts Dare is —

Three graces from those you love…

1. Grace from my husband. Sometimes, I criticize his driving. Sometimes, my criticism saves us from a car wreck, but most of the time, my comments about his driving are about as helpful as…yeah, well, not helpful. Last week, I made a comment about his driving, I could tell it hurt his feelings. Feeling like a real douche bag, I apologized immediately. Hours later when I apologized again, he said, “Oh M, I haven’t even thought about it.” I have.

Oh, and he leaves me notes on the mirror. Notes like this one.

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2. Grace from my niece and nephews. Despite my flaws, they love, love, love when they get to see me. I love, love, love when I get to see them too.

3. My friend Kate. She was my accountability partner for my dissertation. Yes, I had an accountability partner to ensure I worked on my dissertation every day. There were many times when I called her late in the night crying. She listened. She made me laugh. She gave me helpful advice. And she even bought me a glass of wine.

The Joy Dare

2012 was a year for the record books. B and I faced many difficult challenges and moments of accomplishment–and even though finishing my doctorate was an accomplishment, I have more pride in how B and I walked through some difficult moments hand in hand. During some very dark moments this year, there were many times I felt a deep abiding joy. For me, it took some dark, tragic situations to see all of the things I should have been grateful for. I gained perspective. There is something about loss that can help us gain insight we never had.

So this year, I am taking The Joy Dare. You can read about it at http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares/

So this year, I’ll count 1000 gifts.

Today’s joy dare is to count three gifts – one thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart. If you want, please feel free to share the things you are thankful for in the comments.

One thing in my bag –
I am grateful for my “Jesus Calling” app on my iPhone. It is such a GREAT devotional. I often read it to my students at the beginning of class.

One thing in my fridge –

If I eat gluten, I get S-I-C-K. But sometimes, this girl must have her bread. The first time I ate a sandwich made with Rudi’s Gluten Free Bread, I swore it had to be regular bread. I don’t even eat gluten free bread much, but when I crave it, it is nice to have some that doesn’t have the texture of cardboard.

One thing in my heart –
Every time I think about those of you who have so generously donated your time, energy, prayers, talent, and money to help support us, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I have such a hard time asking people for help. However, so many of you have blown us away with your generosity.

For example, on Saturday, one of my sister’s dear friends is a pediatrician and spent close to two hours talking with me about various medical and special needs to help us think through the needs we feel equipped to handle.

Close to 60 families have donated approximately $5,300 to help us with our adoption. You all have sacrificed for us, and I don’t even know how to express to you how much we have been encouraged.

Then, there are times, when someone I barely know will stop me and say, “My family has been praying so much for your family and Lydia.” Thank you.

I am so grateful. My heart is so full.


Sorry we haven’t blogged much in awhile. B and I have been focused on finishing all of the documents for our homestudy. The only thing we are lacking are our medical appointments and blood work!

To be honest, we have also wrestled with how much of our story we want online. However, B and I want to share our story so that you know how to pray for our family, can keep up-to-date with our adoption, and perhaps learn more about adoption and orphan care. Also, other adoptive families’ blogs have been such an encouragement to us–we can read more about their experience with the process and the reality of raising children who’ve spent formative years in an orphanage. I have reached out to some of the families’ blogs that I read, and have even called them by phone–they have become a wonderful community for me.

And more than anything, when it is age appropriate for Miss Lydia, I’ll give her this blog in the form of a book. Although we will likely miss her first giggle, crawl, and steps (maybe not), I want her to know that we have prayed so hard for her even in the moments we weren’t physically there.

So, I thought for this post, I’d answer some frequent questions. I am very open to talking about the adoption and why Ch!n@ in person.

– Have you been “matched” or received a “referral” for a child?
No, we have not. We are currently in the homestudy stage and this will likely take 60-90 days. To make a long story with tons of acronyms short, we might not be matched until next fall or late in 2013. When we receive a referral, we will receive a photo and medical records.

– When will you go to Ch!n@?
It depends! There are a lot of bumps in this journey we are on–it is possible for us to complete a form incorrectly, which can delay the process. However, stuff out of our control can slow down the process too. The only thing for sure about adoption–domestic and international–is that it is a bit unpredictable. There are families that get approval from all of the organizations and government agencies in a miraculous timeframe–and that would be awesome (AND IT WOULD BE AMAZING IF YOU PRAYED FOR THIS)–but, there are families who wait and wait.

We learned so much during the months and months of negative pregnancy tests. For those of you who are infertile or who have been, you know what I mean. There is so much I’ve learned during this long waiting period. Recently, my mom got on to my brother for being impatient and she said, “Beau, patience is learned.” True, momma, true.

So back to the question–we will probably travel to Ch!n@ for 2-3 weeks to bring Lydia home some time from March 2014-summer 2014. We are praying, that if it is the Lord’s will, we will travel March 2014. This would allow me to have ample time at home bonding with Lydia before going back to work in August. Will you join us in this prayer?

– Will Lydia be a baby?
Because we have not received a referral, we do not know her age. At the absolute youngest, she would be 10 months old and at the oldest probably 3-4 years old. B and I would absolutely love to celebrate Lydia’s first birthday with her.

– Will Lydia speak English?
No, not initially. 🙂 If she is a toddler, she will either speak Mandarin or Cantonese. If she is a toddler, B and I will need to rush to learn basic phrases like, “Do you need to go potty?” “No” “You are safe.” “Mommy” and “Daddy,” etc. Fortunately for us, I have former students who speak Mandarin and Cantonese! If she is a baby, this won’t be a challenge for us, although we will want her to learn either Mandarin or Cantonese as she grows.

Scripture for 2013

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
-Romans 12:14-21
That’s so much to live by this year.