Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Reflection on Christmas (& 5 Months Old)

The Christmas season never ceases to amaze with the amount of business it involves. I feel as though I'm waking up one day and when I blink it's the next morning already. I've been terribly behind in my shopping and haven't even sent out my Christmas cards yet. This is rare for me. Usually I'm bursting at the seams for Christmas morning: the family time, the carols, the cookies...the joy of the season. And it's not that I've missed the joy this season but I feel like there's been so much going on that it's been easy for me to miss.

However, there have been blessed moments when I've had a chance to consider the season from an entirely new viewpoint that I've never thought of before. As a new mom, it's impossible to not look at the story of the first Christmas from Mary's point of view. I, often, compare how I feel as a mom on a daily basis with how Mary must have felt.

Particularly, one night, I was rocking a grumpy Madi to bed after a long day of tears and fussiness. I remember thinking, "Mary probably had days like this too. If Jesus was truly, fully man (which I believe He was) then, as a baby, he for sure had fussy days. Mary had to of had normal, frustrating mom days." And then I wondered if on those days she looked at Jesus and thought about his kingship and what he would grow up to be. Although the prophecies had given her some view into what her son would grow to be, you can't help but wonder what your children's lives will be like when they are grown. When I look at Madi and wonder those things in this season, I can't help but be drawn to Mary's heart as she cared for the king that would save the world.

This season, consider Mary's point of view. What would it be like to parent the child that would grow to save us all? That thought has struck me so incredibly in the last couple of weeks, even in the business that this season involves.

Speaking of business, I totally forgot to post Madi's pictures from her 5 month photo session! This kid is growing like crazy!!!

In the past month Madi has...

  • Started blowing raspberries. It's the most adorable thing I've seen.
  • Leaned to scoot in her crib and on the floor. We put her upright and she ends up sideways in her crib about five times per night. (Because of course she cries when her head ends up against the side of the crib).
  • Grown her ab muscles. Madi is almost always doing crunches and trying to sit up on her own. She's almost there too!
  • Started eating pureed foods! Madis' first food was peas. She hates them. She has since tried sweet potatoes and squash as well.
  • Still not figured out the rolling over thing. I swear, as much as we try to help this girl, she gives up every time her tummy hits the floor. She just hates it so much. Hasn't, obviously, stopped us from trying but we sure do wish she's get the hang of it so that we don't have to hear her scream anymore. :)
And to end today's long overdue post, here's some more pictures of Madi:

Merry Christmas to you and your family! May you find yourselves overwhelmed by God's goodness in 2015.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Now, We Are a Family

November 5, 2014 was a day like no other. We waited in the hallway for the bailiff to call us in before the judge. I could practically hear my own heart pounding with excitement - so loudly that it would resonate off those cold, brick, courthouse walls. This was it. After these few moments before a judge, the little girl that I held in my arms would be forever ours. There would be no more visits from a social worker or unexpected legal fees to pay. There would be no more paperwork or reason to worry that something could happen. She would take our name. Papers would be signed. The case would be closed.

The three months since Madison joined our family flew by. It felt like just a few days ago she was placed in my arms for the first time. I cried tears of joy at that moment - I had dreamed about it for so long. But now, the tears came again. This moment - this private moment between our family, an attorney and a judge in a Florida courtroom - was the beginning of our official lives as a family. The judge would legally declare, for the rest of time, what we all already knew to be true in our hearts: This little one was meant to be our daughter. God ordained the three of us a family long before we even knew she existed. And now, we are a family.

The bailiff swore us in and our attorney began to ask us a series of short yes or no questions regarding our adoption, the fees, our adoption license. They were short and simple. But then, in the form of one final question, the attorney asked a question embedded so deeply into my heart that I'll never forget the words. In the hustle of these moments, this significant question, would have been easy to miss. But, in that moment, it felt as if no one else existed in the room but Jarrod, Madison, and myself.

"Do you understand that when the judge signs the order of adoption here today that Madison will now legally be yours as if she was born to you?"

The beauty of those words still make my heart skip a beat. We nodded our heads in response. The tears began to well up inside me while the judge placed his stamp of approval on the paperwork and handed it back to attorney. It was done. This adoption case was closed. In less than five minutes, we had gone from a couple caring for a precious little one, to a legally, binded-together family. I'll say it again: What we knew in our hearts to be true for so long, was now official. This little one was meant to be our daughter. God ordained the three of us a family long before we even knew she existed. And now, we are a family

Every step of the journey that led us to that moment has been an adventure. There were a lot of tears, a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns and difficult moments. But there was also celebrating, and trust, and hope. Hope that in the end this plan that was not our own, but divinely predetermined for us by a good and incredibly gracious God, would be worth it all. And indeed, every moment was. This little girl is worth every ounce of this journey and I'd do it all over again for her. 

When we began our adoption journey, I ended my first ever blog post with the below song. It was an anthem that got me through some of the deepest and toughest moments of this journey. So it's only fitting to end reflecting on this song once more.

A special thank you to Heather at Studio 25 Photography for giving of your time to come capture these precious images for us! We'd also like to thank my sweet Aunt Deb for accompanying us to the courthouse and rejoicing (& crying) with us during this time of celebration! Your support and love meant so very much!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

4 Months Old

Madison turns 4 months old today. That means that one third of Madi's first year of life has already passed. I feel like every month I blink and she's another month bigger.

This month especially I feel like she's grown leaps and bounds developmentally. Every day it's as if she's learned or discovered something new to amuse her.

This past Month Madi has...

  • Found her voice. This little girl loves to chatter and coo away the day with us. She's also discovered her voice while she's trying to fall asleep. Those little screams are cute ... but also very loud. 
  • Started to giggle uncontrollably back at us when we laugh at her. It's literally the most adorable thing ever!
  • Decided that she doesn't really like to lay down anymore. She always wants to be sitting or standing looking around at the world around her.
  • Learned to play with toys. She loves to hold toys, put them in her mouth, and laugh at books. She's very inquisitive now. (See example picture below)
Mom, what is this thing?
  • Become a drool fountain as her first two teeth come in. Madi started teething about three weeks ago. Her bottom two teeth have cut through and have caused a decent amount of fussiness in the past weeks.
  • Started to grow a lot more hair. Oddly enough, her hair is coming in very light (although it could get darker) and her eyes keep getting more and more blue. This girl is rocking her biological family's recessive genes!
  • Started following us with her eyes across the room. She always wants to know where we are at. It's (selfishly) really the best feeling when someone else is holding her and she hears my voice, finds me in the room and just stares and smiles at me. She knows who her mommy and daddy are - that's for sure!
  • Become a little more high maintenance. I realize this is totally expected in babies, don't worry. Just this morning, she would cry (tears and all) any time she dropped her toy out of her hands. Oh man...I couldn't stop laughing.
  • Gained new nicknames. We now lovingly call our daughter munchkin, Madi girl, fidget midget, munch, and Mads.
  • Officially become a part of the Stichter family when we closed her adoption case forever in court. This was probably the most beautiful milestone that happened this past month. (A post on this will be coming very, very soon.)

This little girl amazes me more and more every day. Although there are tough days, especially with teething, this munchkin has captured my heart in a way that I never thought was possible. More than anything, I'm amazed at God's grace in choosing us to be her parents.

Happy 4 Months Madi girl! You are the biggest blessing to my heart!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Being married to a youth pastor lends itself to unique life experiences. You experience teens in a unique way. You experience church community in a unique way. You experience schedules in a unique way. Just about everything about being married to someone whose career is to love on adolescents is unique. It's a beautiful kind of unique... but unique nonetheless. 

The thing about this kind of lifestyle though is that, sometimes, it can tend to be lonely. Very few other people understand the demands on your life, family, and emotions. But there's a crowd of people that understand the tolls of ministry: other youth pastors and their wives! Once a year, Jarrod and I are blessed to be able to spend a weekend with this special community of people and share in this understanding of life in ministry. If you remember, I wrote a post about our trip to Rebound last year. We spent this past week back down in Florida (yes, again) for our yearly retreat with these other couples.

Let me first, once again, thank our church for their sacrifice and recognition of the toll that ministry takes on marriages and seeing the need for retreats like this one. Jarrod and I were able to reconnect with friends that we met last year and build some new, valuable relationships with other couples in our area. We were able to step back as a couple and examine our lives in ministry - how we can better support each other, what things we need to discuss, and reflect on the encouragement that scripture offers young pastors. We networked and Jarrod was able to discuss ministry strategies with others that are 'in the trenches.' Most importantly, Jarrod and I were able to leave our schedules and task lists behind and refocus on hearts on the Lord's leading in our lives and commit the coming year to Him. 

And here's the cool thing... Last year, when we attended Rebound we were just a couple months into our adoption. Our hearts were heavy because of the strenuous process. I remember getting away and feeling defeated, yet hopeful for what the next year would hold. I remember praying last year with the friends that I made that God would bring Jarrod and I a child in His time. I remember leaving feeling deeply refreshed and ready to continue on this journey that God had for us. 

And what a difference a year makes...

Left: 2013 Rebound Retreat
Right: 2014 Rebound Retreat

This year I walked in carrying a little girl that has touched my life in more ways than I can even name. A little girl who, one day earlier, just three hours away from this annual retreat location, had been legally declared a part of our family by a state judge. A little girl whose adoption case is now legally closed for good. Hallelujah! (More on this in a few days.)

We spent five days as a family of three in the warmth, basking in the goodness of God's plan for our lives. Although there were times when we wanted to go sit in the sun or go out to a movie with friends at night instead of rocking a baby to sleep in our hotel room, I was reminded that, one year ago, I would have given anything to be the couple with the baby at this couples retreat. Perspective is an amazing thing!

I'm awestruck at the ways that God works in our prayers when we allow Him to ability to move in our lives. We didn't even think we'd be able to attend this retreat this year due to all our travels and financials of our adoption. Yet, God was (yet again) in those details...our court date lined up to be just two days before the retreat began. A detail so simple and so small, yet so perfect. That's our God, isn't it?

Although it's wonderful to be home...and to know that I don't have to go back to Florida for another year (until next year's retreat)...these pictures and that time with my family bring so much joy to my heart. What an amazing end to this journey!

Oh and in case these pictures aren't enough, here's a cute video of Madison's first ocean experience!

Check the blog in a few days for some new pictures on updates on my (almost) four month old (what?!) and a post on the finalization of Madi's adoption in court!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I feel like I've become a little bit of a stranger to my own blog. I had such great intentions to build my blog into something more now that Madi is home. And although I still hope to bring them fruition someday, right now, all those intentions are about the last thing on my mind because life as a mommy is busy...and hard ...and oh so very rewarding.

I've learned so much about myself... about necessity... about love and priorities... about poop. (Let's be honest...I wipe it up every day so I feel like I know a lot!)

There's a few things that I've learned about 'mommyhood' (yes, we are going to make that a real word) that I've been meaning to share for a while. we go:

  1. Makeup is a waste of time most days. Because who really cares what color your eye shadow is when you're scrubbing off the dried spit up on your face?? Right?
  2. I'd rather wear sweatpants and t-shirts for the rest of my life. I used to like to stare at my closet and pick out clothes that looked cute together. Now, I just stare at my closet...with an honest desire to try...and then I glance at my t-shirt drawer... I'm tellin' you, the t-shirts always win.
  3. Babies take a lot of time to get ready. I used to be early...everywhere. Now I'm five minutes late ...everywhere. At least I'm consistent right?
  4. Never in your life will you care so much about poop...the color of it; the texture of it; what time of day it came. You might even ask your close circle of friends to pray for for poop... Seriously, it's life people.
  5. I've learned a lot about quick math... like how to add up how many cents Madi "owes me" for each time I change her diaper and she immediately pees or poops into the new one the second it hits her fresh butt. Honestly...I swear she knows!
  6. There will always be another dirty bottle. As if constant dirty diapers didn't kill ya, no matter how many times you wander the house to gather all the dirty bottles, it never fails that when you finish washing them all, you'll find yet another one...under the rocker the diaper bag the car. They're everywhere!
  7. Babies are expensive. You can tell any parent this prior to bringing home their first baby. And then the reality of leaving one of your jobs and having to buy a lot of diapers and formula hits. Mmm... We've learned the beauty of penny pinching...literally to save a penny. Because you never know when you'll need an extra cent.
  8. The middle of the night is the most beautiful time of the day... said no one EVER! For all you moms who loved those 2 a.m. wake up calls, I'm so proud of you for being cheerful even at that insane time. Where were you when I needed you? Two a.m. is way to early to comprehend anything...let alone have to calculate bottle measurements and diaper logging. I tried to enjoy it...I really did. Lucky for me, Madi sleeps through the night now, so everyone in our household gladly enjoys our sleep. 
  9. Germs are real. I always knew that. I always kind of cared. But now, just try to touch Madi's face or hands during flu season! You'll see mama bear come out. I don't try to sound mean, but unless you want to come soothe a baby all night, would you mind just not touching her? We'd rather stay healthy.
  10. Babies know how to fight their sleep... Why? I have not the darndest clue. But they do. And it usually is accompanied by high pitched screams that might break your ear drums.
  11. But eventually they give in. And then that baby's peaceful face is the only thing you want to look at the for the next hour. 
  12. Nap time is beautiful. I love my play times with Madi. I love watching her smile and coo and giggle at me. But I also love nap times. Because it usually means it's 'mommy time' - whether that involves cleaning the house, working, napping myself, or just taking an hour to do something 'me' related.
  13. Your job as a mom literally never ends. It's possibly the busiest job ever. There's always laundry. There's always dirty bottles and trash to empty and bathrooms to clean...the list goes on. 

Okay, all joking aside...being a mommy is a lot of work. I meant what I said in number 13. Sometimes I crawl in bed at night (way later than I should) and wonder what I did that day: Is my ear still ringing from that scream earlier? Did I ever clean up that spit up off the play mat? Shoot, I meant to empty the diaper genie tonight - that room is starting to smell. Or I start making my list for the next day: Hunt for bottles. Wash my t-shirts. Wash Madi's clothes while I'm at it. Pick up more formula. Sometimes those jobs feel monotonous. Sometimes they feel thankless or unnoticed. Sometimes they feel like I've lost a part of who I am in the busyness of the day. 

But then I wake up in the morning to those precious little grunts (because more poop is likely on its way) and walk into my daughter's room. All I have to do is say "Good morning sunshine" and the biggest smile peels across that little one's face. That makes it all worth it. Or when she tucks her face into your neck and crashes because she's safe in your arms. That makes it all worth it. Or whenever she just stares into your eyes and coos at you because she knows you're her momma and you love her to pieces. That makes it all worth it.

This child has already taught me so much and she teaches me a little bit more about herself and myself every single day. 

Being a mommy is the one of the heaviest jobs on the earth: Someone else's life and well being is constantly in your hands. But it's also one of the most rewarding. 

So who cares if I live in my favorite t-shirt or am five minutes late to yet another doctor's appointment? I'm just doing my job the best that I can... and enjoying every poopy diaper along the way (someone remind me later that I said that, okay?).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Year & 3 Months Old

Yesterday was my birthday. In the midst of celebrating yesterday I logged onto my Timehop app and found this photo with the posted comment:

10/14/13 "Celebrated my birthday tonight by turning in
mountains of adoption paperwork at our final training class. It
felt so good. Now it's in God's hands & we trust him to guide
us through the Home Study process."

And as I looked at that photo, I reflected back on what that time felt like for us: so triumphant in completing such a large amount of paperwork and starting the journey toward our child yet so defeating in the change of 'plans' that for our lives that we were enduring... It was a beautiful, yet heartbreaking time. Not that we weren't excited to adopt but we were hurting from the pain of our infertility. No matter when you plan to adopt in your marriage, infertility hurts.

Yesterday, as I reflected on this photo and on that evening 1 year ago, I looked down at my child and wrote the below post:

10/14/14 "Last year at I spent my birthday at our final adoption
training class, wishing and praying that that would be
my last birthday without a little one. How beautiful to look
back today and now look at my precious daughter in
my arms. What a long year it has been - I've encountered
and struggled through things that I never expected for my life.
Yet, as always, God's plans were so much better than my own!
This little bundle is the best birthday present anyone
could ever ask for!
#blessed #happybirthdaytome "

What a difference a year makes.... right?

I've been so struck by this over the past 24 hours. At this time last year, I still had nights where I cried myself to sleep. Afraid that no birth mother would deem us 'worthy enough' to care for her child. Afraid that my life looked different that I thought it would when I turned 25. Afraid of so much. And although, as I enter my 26th year of life, fear in my life is still alive and well, I get to look at a constant reminder of God's faithfulness every morning.

And as if celebrating my birthday and getting to reflect on the past year wasn't humbling enough, my little munchkin turned 3 months old today! Seriously...I feel like I just put up the post for her 2 month old pictures. Time really does fly, huh?

In the past month Madi has...
  • Gained some cute baby chub rolls and transitioned into 3 month clothing
  • Found her voice (loud squeals and all)
  • Learned to smile whenever you come get her out of her crib in the morning (she's so happy that someone's there to say good morning)
  • Started to grab and swat at things
  • Gained a lot of strength during tummy time, sitting and standing up (with mommy's help of course)
  • Continued to pull on our heart strings and make us fall more and more in love with her

And speaking of what a difference a year makes? Look at the difference between months one, two and three!!

Amazing how time changes everything...Whether it's physical growth in this little peanut or emotional and spiritual growth provided through the trials of life. Our God is good and greater! Here's to another year and another month in the books for our little Madi girl!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beautiful Mess

Sometimes answering God's call on your life means saying yes to a messy life... Actually, more often than not, a messy life (at least in my experience) is a sign that God is leading you one way or another.

I have found that the more I strive for obedience to Christ in my life, the more 'mess' that's created to wade through.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily.

Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely. 

Adopting Madison has, by far, been one of the most beautiful life experiences that I will ever have the honor of finding myself in. She brings such an extreme amount of joy in our lives and, every night when we cuddle her before bedtime, I look at her sweet face and am in shock that she is ours.

But beautiful life moments also come with an extreme amount of messiness. They bring out disorder that needs to be figured out. They bring about the need to find a new normal...

Adoption is a beautiful mess

There...I said it. Adoption is crazy messy. Much more so than I ever envisioned it being when I signed on to this.

If I'm being totally honest, I can tell you that in the storms that we've experienced while waiting to bring Madi home, I looked at my husband and said, "Why did we do this? I don't want to do this anymore."

But I think that that's a normal reaction in life sometimes.

Sometimes God calls us to something. We say yes. And then we discover what's really involved. And we decide that maybe it wasn't what we initially thought it was and it's harder than we ever thought it would be...and we just don't want to do it anymore. Essentially we find ourselves in the middle of chaos and mess that's dirtier than it initially let on.

Do you get what I'm trying to say here? Beautiful things are often the messy things of life.

The messy things of life are often the moments that bring about our need to work through heart issues so that we can experience the beauty that was originally intended for that moment. have to be willing to experience the mess...the pain, the heartbreak, the anger, the discomfort (this list could go on) order to experience the beauty that lies at the bottom. And sometimes it takes a while to work through those things. Sometimes there's moments where the beauty is noticeable and sometimes all you can see is the mess.

Lately I've had to look at the current mess in our lives...the effects of an adoption that was much, much more pricey than expected, the weight of an open adoption, the balance of life as a mom and life as an employee, and on and on...and realize that if my life is messy, then there's evidence that God is creating something beautiful. 

BUT I have to be willing to look for the beauty.

I'm not always there. Somedays I think looking for beauty is a complete waste of time. I'd rather just be mad at the mess. Others, I can't stop crying because the beauty is in plain view. And then other days I have to make a conscious choice which one I'd rather see.

Bottom line: Life is messy. Adoption is messy. God creates beauty. Today I'm going to choose to see the beauty.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2 Months Old

I'm a few days late on this post, but it's been the craziest week - we actually moved last weekend so we've been busy getting settled in to our new home. This morning I finally got some time to snap some pictures of Madi!

She turned 2 months old on Monday, September 15, 2014. I cannot believe 2 months has already passed since we traveled down to Florida for the first time and met this adorable little girl.

In the past months Madi has...

  • Outgrown the majority of her newborn clothes (at least I got 2 months of use out of them)
  • Decided that she wants to be held 24/7
  • Slept through the night a few times (which made mommy feel like a whole new person the next morning)
  • Started to smile intentionally some
  • Has gotten prettier and cuter every single day
  • and so much more...

Check out the fun pictures I snapped of her this morning!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nursery Reveal

During the days while we were waiting for Madi to be born...well even before we were matched with her I suppose...I started working away at my vision for her nursery. It was therapy for me - to step into a dreary room with blank walls and transform it into a warm space where our baby would, one day, spend so much time - playing, sleeping, pooping (haha - well I did say I would be honest on here right?).

Since I started the dreams for our nursery long before we were matched to a little girl, we decided to go with a gender neutral color palette that would allow us to accent for a boy or girl once we were matched. I also wanted something that could easily be transformed into a toddler's room without having to purchase new decorations or bed sets.

So, we stuck with the already painted mocha walls, added in pops of primary colors and pink (once we found out we were having a girl), and, of course, a few dachshunds here and there. Check it out:
Walking into the nursery.
To the right of the door.
Looking from the other side of the room.
Left: Old desk utilized for a changing table / Beautiful custom 'Chosen' artwork by Grace-filled Designs
Right: Shelves with books, storage, monitor and music / Old wood crate used as a toy box

Left side: Freebie Alphabet Printables from The Handmade Home
Right side: 'I am a child of God' Printable from Mommy Blogs / 'Such a big miracle...' Printable from Pure and Lasting
Left: Crib (with a sleeping beauty) / Custom handmade quilt by my amazing mother / Canopy from IKEA (discontinued so I bought it off a seller on Amazon)
Right: Vintage frame painted and strung with ribbons to hold headbands and bows / Closet (with way too many clothes already)
The best edition to this nursery - little miss Madison.

Needless to say, I'm in love with this room! It turned out better than I even could have hoped it would.

Before Madi came home I used to sit in this room and stare at the walls, anxious for the day when I could share this pretty space with her. Now, although she's much too young to appreciate the decorations, we still soak up every minute we have together in her little space.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Confession: I've been pretty quiet on the blog lately.

This is in part because mommy life is busy. Contrary to the common misconception that stay-at-home moms do nothing all day, I will say that I feel busy all day long. Like I've accomplished a lot and yet accomplished nothing at the same time. By the time I get through all the bottles and diapers and dishes, I'm shocked to look up and see my husband already walking through the door from a day at work. Seriously people...days fly by.

But this isn't the primary reason for my silence.

Over the past couple months, as Jarrod and I traveled back and forth to Florida in anticipation of Madison's birth, so much has happened. So many people have supported us unconditionally without prying for details of why exactly we were so worn down from this journey. And although now is the not the time and, currently, this is not the place to share those details, I have found it incredibly difficult to reflect and continue to write posts on this space without sharing those intimate details that make up such a large part of our story this summer and our journey to bringing Madison home.

The truth is, that even now, I ask God why He chose us for this road. I wonder what made Him choose us to endure what we did. I trust that He has a plan. Sometimes I just want to know why.

God is so good. I don't doubt that.

My faith is not wavering in Him or His plan for our family. He obviously knew the perfect plan to bring us face-to-face with our precious baby girl.

But it's been easy to resent some of the emotions we had to experience to get here. I've been needing to pray for the God to break my hearts some and that He would allow me to experience more compassion for what we've been through... More forgiveness... More grace.

Some day I hope to be able to share the details of what God has done and the miracles that He has worked so visibly in this process over the past couple of months. I hope that someday your jaw will drop in amazement at how good our God is in all circumstances. I hope that I can share in that moment with you, as we both cry tears of heartbreak and, yet, tears of joy too.

But in the meantime, I have to recognize one thing - we were never alone in this. God knew from the very beginning what the details of our journey would look like. He knew what He would bring us to and what He would bring us through.

Yesterday, during church, my heart broke during a worship song. Today, I want to break my streak of silence and share this song with you. I pray that you can take a step back from whatever situation you might find yourself in today and recognize how God leads us through all circumstances when we seek Him first.

Friday, August 15, 2014

One Month

It's hard to believe that little Madi is already one month old!! I can't believe it!

Yesterday I took some time to dress her up and take some pictures to commemorate her growth spurt this last month! (Let's all just be sentimental for a moment, like I am, and drool over how cute she is please...)

And because I always promised to be totally honest on this blog, here's a picture of how you keep a one month old happy during these photo sessions!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Prevailing Plan

Last week on Wednesday, I was landing in Madison, Wisconson with baby Madison strapped to my chest. After three weeks in Florida waiting for our adoption's interstate paperwork to clear (it felt like an eternity), Madi and I were finally arriving back in the Midwest.

I booked it off the flight and sprinted to the arrivals gate where my sweet husband was anxiously awaiting us. Tears....immediately...before I even saw him. After a year of ups and downs and several months of some of the most draining emotions I'd ever felt, the moment that we had anticipated with Madi had arrived - we were home.

The waiting was over.

A baby was in our arms. 

No more flights.

No more hotels.

No more hospitals.

Just a family.

To say that this summer has been difficult might be the understatement of the century. We've encountered things emotionally that I never even fathomed. We've laughed...and cried (if I'm being honest) at irony. We've questioned God's plan for our family. Yet when I look in the eyes of our child there's no doubt that God knew all along what this journey would look like and that He would faithfully continue to provide the means for us to get through it. It wasn't without struggle...but we also weren't alone.

When we pulled onto our street back in town, a small group of friends and family surprised us outside our house with music, signs and balloons welcoming Madi home for good!

Now, over the past week, we've been settling in to life with a 4 week old (yes, she turned four weeks old yesterday - crazy right?). There have been so many moments when I look at that growing face, cute little double-chin and all, and am in disbelief that God has blessed us with her. She's really ours. While I was down in Florida waiting for the paperwork to clear, I really felt like I was just babysitting someone else's baby.. But now, as she spends time in her nursery and has transitioned fully into our lives, it's hitting me that she's really ours.

I've already learned so much in my few weeks as a parent (blog post on that coming soon). But, most importantly, over the past year, as we faithfully walked through this season that God had called us to, we have, without a doubt, seen God shine through in the darkest moments. We've seen His hand and His plan prevail above all else. We've seen Him use a dark situation to bring glory to His name. We've seen changed hearts and prayers fulfilled. We  really have seen God "crown this year with His goodness" - from the mountains of paperwork, to our 'babymoon' where we were matched with Madison's birth family, to wading through the fear of adoption, to traveling down to Florida three times for 'false alarms', to finally announcing our daughter's addition to our family - God's goodness has shown through it all. 

This wait was hard.... But, hear me loud and clear, God is good. 

Thank you for your prayers. Stay tuned for continued updates on life at home, how we've started to manage an open adoption now that we're home, and more adoption 'lessons' learned.