Friday, January 31, 2014

Love Is Waiting

This week Jarrod & I are honored to be featured on the Love is Waiting blog and store!

I first found out about this store when this shirt (see below) came up on one of the many adoption boards that I follow on Pinterest. Then Susan, our amazing adoption consultant, posted the store on our adoption group's facebook page letting us know of the ability to be 'featured' on this store and earn a percentage of the profits towards your adoption.


Heather Hale opened up the Love is Waiting store three years ago to help raise money for their Ethiopian adoption. Their son has now been home for almost 2 years. Heather decided to reopen the store to support other families on their journey to adopt. Every week 20% of the store's sales are given to a family that is adopting. 




I already loved the items in the store, so I sent away an email to Heather and she agreed to feature us January 31-February 6 - this week!During this time 20% of all purchases from the store will go towards our adoption expenses!






We would so welcome your support during this week by heading over to http://loveiswaiting.storenvy.com/ and shopping for our adoption!


You can also learn more about Love is Waiting by visiting the blog:

http://loveiswaitingadoptionstory.blogspot.com

or by visiting the Love is Waiting Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/shoploveiswaiting?ref=hl


Thank you for your willingness to consider purchasing items for this wonderful store to support our family's adoption. Furthermore, thank you Heather for your generosity and willingness to feature our family! We are so grateful! 


I know that I can't wait to get my shirt and wear it with pride!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Normalizing

The past month of our lives has been crazy. I've experienced and struggled through emotions that I never expected to before. And today, I'm being reminded once again how to take my hands off the steering wheel in this adoption process.

Let me explain:

Two weeks ago our social worker came and inspected our home to be licensed. When our social worker came we were planning for our licensing to be complete by the next Wednesday. She had assured us a few weeks earlier that we were going to get it all done by January 15. While she sat in our perfectly cleaned living room (did I mention it was perfectly cleaned - almost like a model home...) she decided to push our interviews back yet again to today. 

Okay, I thought. She knows what she's doing. She knows that we would like to get this finished as quickly as possible

So, today came and we drove into suburban Chicago for our final series of interviews. Only to find out that she didn't schedule enough time with us to get it all done today so now we need to wait until next week to do a conference call with her to complete it. Ugh...another week.

When we started this process almost six months ago...Yes, it's seriously been six months already... we were told we'd be licensed by Thanksgiving. Now just a few weeks short of two holidays after our initial completion date, we are still not done and our dates still keep getting pushed back.

I struggle in all of this not to let myself wonder what it would be like had we decided to go with the other agency that we looked at for our home study. Would we be done by now if they licensed us?

But I can't let myself go there...

And then we have to wait for our fingerprints. Yep...Almost five months to the date that we submitted them, our fingerprints have still not come back from the FBI. Oh my goodness...seriously we have no criminal background!! I mean I've never even gotten a speeding ticket!

So I remind myself that even if our agency had rushed through our licensing, we would still be waiting on our fingerprints... There's nothing more that they can do about it. You wanna know the best part of not having fingerprints back? If they're not back by February 8, then our social worker has to come back to my no longer spotless home and redo that inspection! Oh my goodness...I can't even allow myself to think about how I'll be feeling if that happens.

But then... we have to wait for the written report of our licensing to be completed once our fingerprints have actually come back. Our social worker said today that we're hoping that this should be done by mid-February.... Oh gosh, mid-February seems like a decade away to me right now.

Although I was told time and time again that there'd be a whole lot of waiting in this process, I never expected the waiting to feel like this. Every inch of me feels the urgency to get this done so that we can get closer to our child. But it appears that the state does not feel that same sense of urgency.

I promise that the idea of this post was not to complain at all, although I'm sure that it could easily appear that way. The purpose of this post is to say this:

Do you ever look at God's timing and wonder what the heck he's doing in all of this. Why would he allow us to go through all of these emotions just to continue to wait and to continue to long for a child to be ours? Yet, then I have to ask the following: would it really matter how quickly we get through this if God already has that baby picked out for us? This timing, however slow it may seem, already is the perfect timing in his mind.

Day after day is different in the adoption process. Some days I'm as content as can be to let God do his thing and work out all the details and timing. Other days I'm chomping at the bit to just be one step closer than we were yesterday. And other days, it doesn't feel like we're adopting at all because life just seems to go on normally, just as it would any other day.

Two weeks ago, Jarrod and I were on our way home from small group and we drove past the building that I work out of. Without going into too much detail, that sweet school has experienced so many hardships over the past few years and God brought them through those difficult times with great strength. The building that we are currently in is a beautiful building that was the dream of so many individuals for so many years. Yet the road to get to that building was long, difficult, and full of many many emotions. Moving into that building was an incredibly momentous occasion. Now, after 5 months of having my office rest in that beautiful building, I have to remind myself of the difficult times and the momentous occasion that finally moved the school into that building. Without minimizing the wonderful story behind it, being in that building almost just feels normal to me now. Yet there was such a long journey and a joyous moment to get into the building.

Driving past this building sparked a thought in my mind: The road to bring our baby home, is obviously not without its incredible trials. The road to bring our baby home will be the fulfillment of a dream that we've held close in our hearts for very long. The road will be filled with many laughs and many tears. It will be filled with questions. It will be filled with waiting. 

Yet, someday, the fruition of the journey will almost feel normal to us. Although, we will never minimize the road that God led us down, someday there will be a pleasant normalization of this journey. 

Someday, we will just be parents - dad and mom - to our child. Yet the road to get there was nothing short of a miracle.

Somedays I just have to cling to that fact. Somedays I have to cling to the fact that although this process is moving slowly, God isn't moving at all. He's right next to me the whole time and he's guiding us slowly every step of the way. I trust that he will grant us the pleasure of feeling like our journey is 'normal' someday and I can't wait to feel that emotion.


Prayer Requests: Would you join us in praying that our fingerprints come back so that we can complete this process?


Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Will Follow

Our church is currently doing a year-long series of reading through the Bible, called Recalculating. This series has already had such a deep impact on my life, on my understanding of scripture, as well as on my understanding of how God is working in every little piece toward His plan of redemption. 

Today in church, our lead pastor, gave an incredibly challenging message titled, "View from Here". We walked through the story of Joseph in scriptures and all that that man encountered in his life. (If you're not sure about the entirety of this story, read Genesis 37-50). I really reflected quite a bit on the truth found in this story.


Here is a man that was honest, upright, and had incredible integrity in situations that most men would run into to. Yet, how many times in his life did he look at his situations and think, "God, what the heck? What are you doing here? Where are you?" He told the truth of his dreams to his brothers and was thrown into a dirt pit, with no water, and then they sold him into slavery. He ran from Potipher's lustrous wife and was imprisoned for years for something he didn't do.  Yet God blesses him and those who are around Joseph in his broken situations. 


Joseph's life was messy and full of a lot of pain...


and yet God had a plan.


Joseph's messy story was essential to God's redemptive plan for humanity. Yet...Joseph did not see this. He didn't understand his circumstances when he was in them. He didn't have the joy of just 'reading ahead' like we can do to see why all of this was happening. Instead, he waited years to see just a part of the plan that God had for his life.


One thought that our pastor posed today was a challenge to look at these tales that you encounter in scripture, not just as stories. Instead, these are stories of real people experiencing real pain


But amidst these awful and frustrating situations, God has a plan. Regardless of the view that Joseph had of his own life, God had a plan. Joseph's view didn't matter. God's did.


Sometimes we don't ... and we won't ... understand the situations of our life. We might never get to see the 'why' behind the pain that we experience. BUT we can trust our God when we don't understand. We can't always trust our view but we can trust the One that has the whole plan in view. 


Today I've been contemplating what this looks like in my life. Can I follow when I don't see what's ahead? Can I trust that, no matter how little what's going on matches my plans, that God's got a plan in place? Can I ...No, will I ... choose to find peace and rest in that fact?


The Lord's been laying these thoughts subtly on my heart over the past week. Through all my devotions and in all my conversations, God's just been laying on my heart: "Amanda, just wait. My plan is bigger and greater than what is in your view. Just wait my child. Just wait for my big finale."


Although those gentle words that He is speaking to me are slightly unsettling because I have to choose to surrender, I find peace there. 


Today this all came together for me as I heard a song tonight that captured it all. The beautiful lyrics say this: (Check out the video for this song below).



When the sea is calm and all is right
When I feel Your favor flood my life

Even in the good, I'll follow You
Even in the good, I'll follow You



When the boat is tossed upon the waves
When I wonder if You'll keep me safe
Even in the storms, I'll follow You
Even in the storms, I'll follow You



I believe everything that You say You are
I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart
In the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow You
I believe and I will follow You



When I see the wicked prospering
When I feel I have no voice to sing
Even in the want, I'll follow You
Even in the want, I'll follow You



When I find myself so far from home
And You lead me somewhere I don't wanna go
Even in my death, I'll follow You
Even in my death, I'll follow You



When I come to end this race I've run
And I receive the prize that Christ has won
I will be with You in Paradise
I will be with You in Paradise


Are these words not beautiful? Yet, they are impossible to sing (maybe even speak) if you do not believe what you are saying

Following someone is a complete act of trust. Following means that there's no leading involved. Seems simple enough right? And yet so many times, I have tried to take the reigns from God and ask Him to follow me and just work all my ways for the good. You cannot lead and follow.

Tonight I have to step back and I have to surrender. I have to lay it down and commit every aspect of my life to my leader. I have to become only a follower. 

God, would you make me a follower? Would you help me let you lead in everything - the good and the bad?


Monday, January 6, 2014

A Year of Goodness

It's a new year. 2013 is gone and 2014 has already come in full force.

In fact, 2014 has come in with such a force that I feel I still haven't had time to sit back and do the typical New Year's 'thing' by looking back on where 2013 has brought us.


I think the best way to look back and reflect on a year is through pictures. Usually I'm a picture fanatic...but I'm incredibly disappointed with myself this year. I didn't create even one Facebook photo album this year... Now obviously Facebook does not define my year in pictures, but seriously that's disappointing.


Anyways, we experienced a lot in 2013. It was the year for a lot of things...



Jarrod's 'Deer Fever' kicked in full force.

We got 2nd place in our church's chili cook-off! We are going for first this year!!

We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by being snowed in. So instead of a nice dinner to our favorite restaurant in Madison, we enjoyed dinner right here in town.

We discovered the love of growing our own food. There's something fun about making a salad with ingredients directly from your backyard.

Jarrod and I celebrated our tenth dating anniversary in the mountains of Kentucky while leading high school students on a missions trip. Yep....our true selves came out. :)

Spent a week in Door County, Wisconsin, soaking in nature, quiet, and each other.

We ran our first ever 5K!

We announced our adoption to friends and family and were BLOWN AWAY by the support and love we received.


Drove (yes, drove) to Atlanta, Georgia in one day for a stunning wedding! In fact, it was the first wedding that my handsome hubby officiated!


Took a week off of life and allowed our marriage to be ministered to surrounded by several other youth pastors and their wives.

 And we ended our year celebrating God's goodness in helping us as we prepare to fund our adoption. We were so humbled and blown away by the support that we received at our fundraiser in December.


The craziest part is that no matter how "well" these pictures help you (or I, for that matter) process through our year, there is so much left untold. There were so many moments that the camera couldn't touch and so many emotions that a picture would never encapsulate. 

However, earlier this week I came across an image that, in just a few short words, was able to capture every moment that happened in 2013. In it's simplicity, these words held the weight of every tear, every laugh, every hug, every sleepless night and nights of endless peace. These words glued together all the broken pieces that 2013 left and turned them into something beautiful. These words offered me a view that only they could provide....



"You crown the year with your goodness..."

If that statement isn't true of God, then I don't know what is.

Although 2013 was a year unlike any that I had planned for, God's goodness broke the chains and reigned victorious over it all.

It is for that reason that I can confidently enter 2014 with a peace and joy in my heart that no human reason could explain. I can have assurance in the fact that God can handle anything the year throws at me. And not only does it handle it, he crowns it with goodness.