Saturday, April 26, 2014

When Fear Sets In

I've been relatively silent on the blog lately compared to how often I usually post. The biggest work event of my entire year happened last night and my job is to plan to this event. So, needless to say, there's been very little time for blogging over the past several weeks.

This morning when I woke up knowing the event is over, I felt like I had gained my life (or at least some of my free time) back. In many ways, I was happy to be so busy during this season because it kept me from thinking about the waiting of our adoption process. It kept me busy and kept my mind sidetracked. I've held off on any nursery projects since we were matched so that, once this event was done, I'd have something to keep me busy until baby S comes home.

But this morning, my lack of a to-do list, brought a new set of emotions up: fear. This morning my fear of the situation set in some. The 'what-ifs' of our adoption became overwhelming. The excitement fizzled for a bit. Fear set in.

I almost feel guilty typing this and letting these emotions be known - as if I might be condemned for feeling this way or as if someone might be thinking "I told you so" or that it's about time that I start getting fearful. I feel like I'm a bad expecting mother by allowing fear to sink in this morning. But today, I'm choosing to be vulnerable with these feelings.

I've felt little moments of fear in the past couple months. I've had moments where the fear has overcome me so intensely that I sit and weep for a few minutes because I simply can't hold it in. But I'll only express these things in the comfort of my home because I'm afraid of being judged for this fear. I'm afraid people won't know how to respond to it. I'm afraid of feeling unsupported in this emotion. I'm afraid of letting myself be weak just for a few moments.

As I let this fear control me this morning, I reached for my 'Jesus Calling' devotional praying that the words in there today would remind my heart of how to control this fear. The devotional this morning directed me towards 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. It reads,

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight moment affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

The 'seen' is our adoption. 

The 'unseen' is God's plan throughout it all.

The 'what-ifs' cannot control me because God's will in this is so much greater. We very well may not go through any of the 'what-ifs' that paralyze me every single day. However, some how I have to trust in the Lord that if He leads us down the path of my worst imaginable 'what-if', that He will have a plan and He will support us and find others to support us in that moment

My foundation cannot be the 'what-ifs' of our adoption. Instead I have to find my foundation in the Lord and his unwavering, rock solid plan. That if my world comes crashing down, that He will not leave me in that moment and He will provide a way out as I lean on Him.

I look to Him today and surrender my fear to Him. I cannot hold this weight alone. 

God's perspective of our adoption is so much better than my own. I pray that I can see things like He does, rather than through the lens of my fear.

(As I write this, I'm listening to "GOD I LOOK TO YOU" BY BETHEL MUSIC.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

If You Wouldn't Say It...

As I was perusing Facebook tonight I came across the best video about adoption that I have possibly ever seen. (See below)

video
This video was shared and created by Rain City Church.

Okay seriously though, as funny as this video is, in many ways, it's sad that adoptive families even have to address this issue. (Although the video is a great way to do so). Sometimes I feel like I need to take a second away from a conversation to pick my jaw off the floor because I'm shocked at what someone just asked me about our adoption.

Questions have ranged from "Why don't you just get a surrogate?" to "Why don't you just have one of your own?" to "Mmmm is she young?" (referring to the birth mom being unstable or in poverty/addiction).

My responses?

"And that would be better than adoption because...?"

"This child is my own."

"Does it matter if she's young?"

The reality that this video addresses is that sometimes people ask things about adoption that maybe aren't necessary questions to ask. If you do have questions, think through them before they come out of your mouth.

Think. 

Then speak.

The reality is that adoption is a long process and sometimes just the questions people ask and the assumptions others make about it are enough to make you want to scream. (Nevermind all the questions we already got to answer on the miles high of paperwork we completed.)

If you have a question that you feel is really important, maybe it's best then to add a disclaimer: "I'm really not sure if this is appropriate to ask..." or "I'm not sure how to ask this..." This shows adoptive families that you're recognizing that you're doing the best you can to understand. Then, be understanding if the adoptive parent/family responds that they'd rather not share an answer to your question.

And sometimes, quite frankly, things are better left unsaid. Sometimes adoptive families don't need to hear a story about your sister's aunt's friend who had a horror story adoption experience.

When we first started the adoption process the questions that I got asked really bothered me. In fact, sometimes they were incredibly hurtful. Mostly now, I can overlook the questions and comments. However, this post is just a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to think before you talk....and mostly because I was laughing SO hard at that video that I just had to share. :) Hope it brought you a few giggles as well!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sacrifice

It's the busiest time of year for me right now for work. I have no free time. I get very little sleep. I drink a lot of coffee.

But being that Easter is quickly approaching in my spare moments driving I've been reflecting some on the sacrifice that we celebrate on Easter. Although truly there's no way to imagine the pain and the torture that our Savior felt when he made this sacrifice for us, the act is still just as great.

I've been raised with the truth of Easter my whole life, in light of our current adoption, I've been able to reflect on Easter in a different light. Jesus's death on the cross was so much more than just a sacrifice or payment. This sacrifice paid the price for the door to be opened on a new family. Jesus's sacrifice was payment for the price of our adoption.

Adoption is costly. There is no doubt in this fact. I have quickly learned the reality of adoption expenses over the past year. Sometimes I'm amazed that we've even been able to make this adoption happen due to the expenses. But the reality is that we haven't made anything happen. It's all our Lord.

And Jesus knew the cost of adoption all too well. But the cost of our sin did not hold Jesus back. He paid the ultimate price for the adoption of all mankind into his home.

And much like every other adopted child, at some point, we have to choose how to respond to our offer of adoption. Do you run into the arms of your adopted daddy and thank him for the price he paid in choosing you? Or do you run in the other direction, afraid of the many negative connotations that come with seeking to grasp onto your adopted identity?

Adoption is complicated.

Yet Christ made it simple.

Sin was strong. 

But our power in our adoption to Christ is stronger. 

Easter is a beautiful time to reflect on the greatest sacrifice ever known to mankind. The sacrifice that cleared my record and signed the paperwork for my adoption. This sacrifice gave me new hope and a clean slate, a new identity and a firm foundation on which I could grow securely. This sacrifice paid it all.

Derek Loux once said, "My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed him."

What a powerful statement...

I want to close this post by requesting you that you take some time to reflect on the sacrifice that not only covered your sins and gave you a clean slate, but that also paid for you to become a son or a daughter of the one, true, and risen King. Below is a song that I haven't been able to stop listening to and belting out in my car. It's powerful.. I invite you to reflect on these things while listening to this song.



Also for your viewing and printing pleasure, head over to MANDA JULAINE DESIGNS for a few Easter Printable FREEBIES, one of which was inspired by the song above! (See examples below).

Friday, April 11, 2014

New Look & New Project

Welcome to the, newly designed, Adding to Us blog! I've been anxious for a while now to launch a new look on here, but I had to wait for a few more pieces to fall into place before I could officially do so. But here I am, ready to broadcast this new design to the world!

But it comes with a little more news than just a new look. I've been so excited to announce this...

A few weeks ago a friend of mine that runs a business called Grace-filled Designs delivered a beautiful wall hanging for our nursery. I'll admit that I'm kind of a font snob, so I wanted to choose my own fonts and layout for the piece. So I designed up a very simple layout of the text that I wanted on the wall piece and sent it over to her. When she delivered the piece, she mentioned that she loved the way that I had laid out the font and wished that I could do it more often. This got me thinking a little - I've worked in both big-scale and small-scale design for the past few years in both of my work positions and I had learned a lot about behind the scenes blog coding and design. Why couldn't I do more of this on the side? Plus, in July I'll be leaving my second job so that I can stay home the majority of the time with the baby so I'd love to be able to still earn an additional second income to help finish paying for our adoption expenses (which continue to grow)?

So I prayed about it, dove in and decided to give it a try. Some sweet adoptive friends of mine volunteered their blogs and let me work up a simple new design for each of their blogs. I was sold and loved the design work associated with blogging. I wanted to dig in more and, truthfully, I really felt like the Lord was opening the door for this to happen.

Thus, Manda Julaine Designs was born and, as of today, is officially launched for the world to see!


I primarily specialize in blog, branding and web design, but also offer design services for business cards, announcements/invitations (adoption, birth, graduation, wedding, etc.) and A La Carte services such as Facebook cover photos, Etsy store banners, and general branding.

'Like' my Facebook page to stay up to date on new web and product launches. Or if you're in the market for some design services, either print or web based, head over to www.mandajulainedesigns.com and fill out an inquiry form to be contacted with an official quote.

Okay, one final request and then I'm done (wink, wink). Would you share this new business with your friends and help me share my offerings and new business with anyone that might be interested? I so appreciate your help in getting the word out.

Manda Julaine Designs is officially in business!! I've been working with a few clients over the past few weeks on some web designs that I cannot wait to reveal very soon! Keep your eyes pealed!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Unnatural

Today marks two weeks since we were matched to our daughter. Already it feels like it's been so much long and that we should be so much closer to meeting her. Four more months to go.... August 7th cannot come soon enough (Oh ya... her due date got moved up - YAY!).

So much emotion has gone into the past few weeks: Much much excitement. Lots of anxiety and nervousness. Lots of trust and vulnerability. A whole lot of trust. 


I have no intention to stop writing this blog now that we are matched. In fact, I have every intention for this blog to become a space for me to reference every step of our journey to our daughter. I'm already day-dreaming about fun blog posts after she's home with us. But I've been quiet the past few weeks because it's been incredibly hard to describe what the past few weeks have been like. This part of our adoption journey brings a whole new set of joys and excitements. But it also brings new trials, fears, insecurities, and questions that we have to slowly wade through.


Don't get me wrong: I certainly don't want to belittle what has happened. Believe me, we are beyond thrilled and astounded at God's faithfulness in this particular match. There is already so much more pink in this house than there has possibly ever been. I smile every single time I walk up into our nursery only to remind myself that in four months they'll be a baby greeting me when I walk into that room. Jarrod and I already speak of our daughter as if she's already here and a finite part of our family because, really, she already is. 


I haven't met this sweet little girl yet, nor have I seen much of her face outside of a profile on an ultrasound photo from a couple months ago. But already I love her more than I even tell you. She's already so much a part of me and who I am. I'm already this sweet baby girl's mama.


But it has been a strange couple weeks figuring out the journey that's ahead of us for the next few months. We are getting to know the birth parents and, while we've loved every time that we've spoken with them, the reality about an open adoption, is that the beginning stages of this relationship are incredibly awkward. We are growing a relationship with another couple based on an unnatural common interest. Plain and simple, it is just unnatural. 


And yet, it's so beautiful at the same time. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and requires me daily to continue to rely on the Lord's strength and wisdom. It requires me to begin to work at a relationship with someone that I've never even met in person that we will get to know in an incredibly intimate way in just a few months. I lack words for the beauty that comes from this. It reminds me of Mary and Joseph and how inevitably awkward those initial few months of Mary's pregnancy might have been for Joseph.... or even moments throughout Jesus's life, as Joseph was reminded that Jesus was not his 'blood.' Yet Joseph was still an earthly, 'adoptive' father that parented Jesus as if He came from Joseph's gene pool. Awkward...yet beautiful, right?


God has blessed us with what feels like, in this moment, such a rare journey that so few people get to personally experience the beauty of. And sadly, there are so many sad stigmas associated with adoption, especially an open adoption. The beauty of it is too easily dismissed. I've been blessed over the past few weeks to be able to recognize gift in our lives.


Every day, even in the fearful moments, I remind myself that God has chosen this awkward, yet beautiful path for our family. And truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way.