Friday, December 25, 2015

Emmanuel (God With Us)

It's past midnight on Christmas Eve and I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas staring at the lights on our tree. I'd like for you to think that today (and the days leading up to it) have been full of reflection and meditation on Christ and His birth... but it has sadly been busy-ness as usual again this year. *sigh.

I bought a beautiful devotional that has touched my heart... the handful of days I've found the time to read it. And I have looked forward to being home for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but after traveling 6 hours today I've had little time to enjoy it. Right now, in the wee hours of Christmas morning, I've found the first few minutes to truly slow down and set my heart on Christmas. And once again this year, I realize just how much we need Jesus to come.

I turn on the TV and hear about bombings in Paris and shootings in California and I realize, we need Jesus.

I scan my Facebook newsfeed and it only takes a few minutes to be overwhelmed by posts full of anger, hatred and fear. We need Jesus.

I read tragedy after tragedy of mommies and daddies taken away from babies much too soon and my heart cries out for Jesus.

I feel the frustration well up when I hear my friend Kayla (who is battling cancer herself) share about another little boy who lost his fight and I know... we need Jesus.

I weep with a group of fellow mothers who ache for their adopted children to be home in their arms, and I think about how much we need Jesus.

I look into the face of poverty and injustice again and again and as much as I try to help - so many days I feel helpless. It's much too big for me... I need Jesus.

If there is one resounding line in my heart this Christmas it is this...

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

It's true the world desperately needed Jesus to come as a baby on that blessed night 2000 years ago... but the truth is, we desperately need him to come too. Today, and every day... we need Him to come in our hearts.

We don't just need a Teacher, a Savior, or a King. We need Emmanuel. GOD WITH US.

We need a God who is WITH US through cancer. A God who heals and a God who sustains... and a God who leads us to a cure.

We need a God who is WITH US through infertility and adoption... a God who holds our aching hearts and gives us the strength to HOPE.

We need a God who is WITH US as we grieve the loss of those taken too soon, and try to put our broken lives back together.

We need a God who is WITH US, because He is the only one big enough to truly end poverty and injustice in our broken world.

We need a God who is WITH US,  to drive out anger and hatred, and to teach our fearful hearts how to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

And THAT is who He is. He is not just a lowly babe born in a manger. He is more than our Savior King. He is EMMANUEL - which means "God with us". And He is with us, if we will only let Him be.

He willingly came down to our broken world not just to make an appearance, but to truly enter our mess. And then to stay. And stay. And stay no matter how messy it gets. Because He promised to never leave us or forsake us. He promised to stay WITH US.

And more than another sweet story, or sentimental tradition this Christmas, I need to know that God is here, WITH ME, in the midst of my mess. And that He is never going to leave.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel! We beg you! Come Jesus. Come and be with us. We need you.

(I love the lyrics to the original hymn, but these updated lyrics really touched my heart this Christmas.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Your VOTE could change a child's life!

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while probably know that I'm the Executive Director of a children's charity called The Sound of Hope. My husband and I founded this non-profit in 2010, and it is extremely close to our heart. We work around the clock to provide rescue, protection, and holistic care for more than 200 children in 4 countries. This weekend our organization is in a competition for THOUSANDS of dollars in funding, and we need your vote!
For those who may have missed it last year – "Project for Awesome" is a video competition started by an AWESOME community on YouTube. On this weekend each year, people take over YouTube with awesome videos about awesome charities – and ours just happens to be one of them!
Last year was our first year participating, but we have the BEST supporters. So many of you voted and shared our video, and at the end of the weekend we were in 20th place out of 960 videos! WOW! Because we placed in the Top 20, we won more than $15,000 of education funding for the children in our care. Isn’t that AWESOME?
Want to know how we spent that 15K? Then watch our video BY CLICKING HERE and please VOTE for us right now! Our kids need to go to school again in 2016, and your vote could help us win the funding they need! It only takes a second to vote - no registry or email required! It's simple!
Please help us give some very deserving children the gift of education! Just 3 clicks could change a child's life! 1 click to watch, 1 click to vote, and 1 click to share the link with your friends! We need people posting this on FacebookTwitterInstagram, G+ – you name it! The contest ends Sunday at 11am, so email your friends right now, call your co-workers, and tell everyone to VOTE! Education IS hope for these children. So watch, vote, and help us get the word out – and you’ll be changing the lives of some really awesome kids.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

We're praying for a Christmas miracle...

I cried myself to sleep last night after another very frustrating phone call with our adoption agency. In April we were told that "while nothing can ever be guaranteed" - they were "confident" we would have a match "by the end of the year if not before". We have held on to that timeline for months - just waiting and hoping and believing.

Unfortunately, after last night's conversation they didn't give us any hope of a match before Christmas. They told us everything slows down in December, and if it didn't happen in October or November, it won't happen now. Then they said, "maybe early next year... I really think it could be January or February! But who really knows? There's no way to know. Don't bet on any timeline." *sigh. 

The vagueness and complete lack of a "finish line" is so hard on my heart. It's hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel. We have been pursuing this adoption for 46 months. All our paperwork has been in Thailand for 18 months - just waiting for a referral. We are still not matched with a child. We don't even have a photo of our daughter's face. And the wait just drags on. 

I know they said not to hope for a match this month.... but I can't help but hope and pray anyway. What do we have if we don't have hope?!? 

This season makes the wait very difficult. I can't even begin to express how painful it is to have an empty house at Christmas when we've been waiting to be parents for so long. How we wish every night of December that we were curled up with a little brown sugar skinned toddler in Christmas pajamas watching Christmas movies. How we imagine her brown eyes dancing beneath the twinkling lights on the tree. How I long to have a messy kitchen full of sprinkles and sugar and flour from making Christmas cookies with my daughter. How much we dream of the day we'll be putting toys beneath the tree and hearing laughter on Christmas morning. But instead, we will hang a stocking one more year, in a quiet house, for a child we've never met. The wait is hard all year, but the longing is palpable at Christmas.

So we're asking you to join us in HOPING and PRAYING for a miracle - that we'll be matched before Christmas. I know it's a long shot, and if it's not God's timing then we will trust Him and wait some more. But would you pray with us anyway? Pray that God will constantly put our family on the heart of the Thai woman matching us. Pray that our adoption agency will advocate for us and make us a priority. Pray that God will advocate for us! Pray that He will open doors and speed up vague, lengthy timelines. Pray that He will protect and prepare our daughter to come home - and that He will renew our HOPE and prepare us to be parents. Pray for Him to move mountains! We know these are big prayers, but we serve a BIG God. As our babies in Africa sing, "My God is so BIG, so STRONG, and so MIGHTY - there's nothing my God cannot do for you!" 

Jesus, this is the season when YOU came - in an unexpected way - to bring HOPE to the hopeless. And so, this Christmas, we're asking you to come again and waiting with expectant hearts!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Our Little Star

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Unfortunately, it's been months since we've heard any updates on our adoption. After almost 45 months total (close to 4 years) of waiting, and hoping, and dreaming, and still not even being matched with a child, sometimes it doesn't feel real.

On those days, when it doesn't feel real... when nothing is tangible... when I wonder if this dream will every become a reality, I look at these photos.

There's just something about seeing your daughter's name in stone that makes it feel definite, you know?

. . . . . . . . . . .

I guess I should back up and tell you where, and how, and when we found this little star. It was January 17th - 2 days after my 31st birthday. Rusty had taken me out to the ballet (Swan Lake) at The Alabama Theatre to celebrate.

It had been a difficult week for me. You see, I announced to my closest friends that we were adopting a little girl on my 28th birthday. I always thought I would be a mom before I turned 30 (and even hoped that timeline would hold true when we began our adoption). But here I was... turning 31... and our baby still wasn't home.

The ballet was a disaster. The sound crew talked and laughed - LOUDLY - during the first two acts and ruined the show for everyone. It was supposed to be a beautiful night out, but the very thing that was meant to distract and entertain me just put me in a worse mood.

We left the theatre together feeling frustrated and sad. It was a cold night, and I was anxious to get home. We were headed in the direction of the lot where Rusty parked the car, when he gasped and pointed to the ground. I had no idea what he was pointing to, until I looked down and saw this!

Of course, I promptly burst into tears. It was like a message, just for us. Etched into stone was our baby girl's name. Not Cate Jackson... not Katie Jackson... not Catherine... KATE JACKSON. It felt so good to run my fingers across the letters. It was as if God was saying, "Don't give up! I haven't forgotten!"

It turns out, Kate Jackson was a beautiful, brunette actress in the 70's (you might know her as one of Charlie's Angels). I found out this little fact after we chose our daughter's name - thanks to my Aunt Tammy (who said she was her favorite "Angel"). What I didn't know, was that Kate Jackson was also from Birmingham, Alabama... and years after she was one of Charlie's Angels, she also became an adoptive mother. (What are the odds, right?) This star was part of the "Walk of Fame" for the Alabama Theatre. We'd just never noticed it before this night.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Of course I took a dozen pictures, and told Rusty we'd have to bring our daughter back to take photos with "her star" once she's home. We're just still not sure of when that day may be. And so, when it feels far away and hard to reach... I look back at these photos and pray for our little star.

We know you're out there somewhere baby girl, and we can't wait to meet you. 
We're sure you're going to bring a lot of *sparkle* into our life, little star! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

4 years ago tonight...

Four years ago tonight, our journey to Kate began. When people ask, I usually say we started the process in February 2012 (and we did actively begin pursuing our adoption that month)... but the truth is, God began moving our hearts toward our daughter long before.

We knew before we got married that we wanted to adopt internationally; we discussed it the night we got engaged. We talked about adoption throughout our marriage, always thinking that we'd probably have a biological child (or children) 3-5 years into marriage, and then adopt. But on this night in 2011 - God turned our plans upside down.

Thank you to our friend Meredith who made this sweet print for Kate's room! 
If you're interested in ordering a custom print, check out her Facebook page.

We had gone to the Church of Brookhills to hear Katie Davis speak. I'd been reading her blog for years, but I wanted Rusty to hear her stories (and I wanted to hear her in person too). My parents, brother, and sister-in-law (then just my brother's girlfriend) came too. The night was wonderful. I'd read all the stories she shared on her blog, but I enjoyed hearing them again. I was so excited about her upcoming book and I was planning to pick up a copy. As the night came to a close, one of the church leaders came up to talk about adoption and foster care, and my ears perked up. "Someday that will be us!" I thought. Then he began to pray over the adoptive and foster parents, and he asked them all to stand... and I felt an overwhelming desire to stand up too.

I remember feeling panicked right after I felt the [very strong] desire to stand. "Why on earth would I stand up?" I thought. "We're not adopting YET! I can't stand up! My family will freak out. My husband will freak out! Why do I feel this pressure to stand?!" I fought it through the whole prayer. I cried as I fought it. As the church leader prayed, I felt God begin to speak to my heart:

"What if you ARE supposed to be adopting now? Why aren't you? What are you waiting for?" I could hear the questions as clear as if someone was asking them aloud. I thought through all our "whys"... we planned to have biological kids first... we want to be married for at least 3 years (it had only been 2 and 1/2)... our lives are crazy right now with the work we do....we travel all the time... it's scary to think about taking care of a child!... we're still newlyweds... I don't think I'm ready to be a mom! --- these are the thoughts that ran through my mind.

And then God asked, "But what if there's a child out there waiting, right now, for you to be their mommy. Is "I'm not ready yet" a good enough reason to wait? Or are you just being fearful and selfish? Do you think anyone is ever ready to be a mom? Can you trust My timing instead of yours?" I was sobbing by the end of the prayer.

I knew that I had to talk to Rusty about what God spoke to my heart during that prayer... but it couldn't be in front of my family. So I dried my tears (my family is used to me getting emotional about orphan care stories) and pretended everything was fine until we were alone. As soon as we got home and my parents went to bed (they were staying the night), I pulled Rusty into our bedroom, shut the door, and sat him down. I blurted out everything all at once as he sat silently across from me on our bed - so anxious about what he would think or feel or say. I knew my heart was ready (even though I was afraid), but I had no idea how he would respond. When I was done talking I took him by the hands and said, "Please say something! Are you freaking out? You're freaking out aren't you? I know this wasn't the plan..."

To which he replied... "I'm not freaking out. I felt like I was supposed to be standing too."

I thought my heart would burst! I began crying again, but happy tears this time!

It wasn't our plan, and it wasn't our timing - but that night, God spoke to our hearts about our daughter. It took a few more weeks of praying [and God showing us some undeniable, extraordinary signs to confirm what we'd heard] before we announced our new plans to the world. But four years ago tonight - October 17th, 2011 - God showed us that His plans are better than ours could ever be, and our journey to our little girl began.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I've been trying to put into words how I feel lately, and the one word I keep coming back to is STUCK.

I know you've all read as I shared about the heartache, the disappointment, the sadness, the frustration, and all the other feelings that come in the waiting. But I haven't quite been able to put this feeling into words just yet.

I feel stuck. I feel like I am stuck in a season that I outgrew long ago. And it's an extremely uncomfortable feeling.

I'm writing because I know it can't just be me. If this adoption has given me anything, it is a deep sense of empathy for those going through infertility. I have cried with more friends, prayed for more friends, and had my heart broken again and again for women who are also waiting to be mothers. Some still waiting and hoping to get pregnant and birth a biological child. Some who have suffered through infertility for years and are now on the adoption journey, waiting to bring home an adopted child. And then there are those of us who don't have children, and feel called to adoption as the way to build our family, who are waiting too. Here we all are - waiting with empty arms and an empty home for a child to call our own.

However it is that you've come to this place of waiting, it is the same ache for a child. I know there are so many who have suffered and are suffering through infertility who hear again and again, "but why don't you just adopt?" They think it's an easy fix. But even if you always wanted to adopt... even if you believe adoption is beautiful... you may still long to birth a child. Similarly, since beginning our journey to our daughter through adoption we have heard again and again, "but why don't you just stop this and try to get pregnant?" It is so hard for people to understand that THIS is the desire of our hearts. We know there might be an easier way (or honestly, there might not... because we have no idea if we are even able to get pregnant!) but it doesn't mean it's the way for us. Everyone has an opinion, and many voice them, but only God knows the desires of our heart.

So here we all are. Childless mothers. I hated that label when I heard it first, but I can't think of anything else that describes us quite that well. We are mothers in our heart - in our soul - but we do not have children.

And so we wait in a season we have outgrown. I feel that "stuck", out of place feeling more often these days than I would like to admit. I'm 31 and my husband is 40. Most friends who are our age have at least one child - some have a house-full. It is hard to find ways to relate to them. As I look around at what is "normal" and "expected" for people our age, it's obvious that being childless puts us in the minority, and I feel it.

When everyone else on our street is chasing their (multiple children) and I'm standing in the front yard with nothing to do, I feel it. When all of my mom friends are discussing birth stories, or sleep issues, or potty training - and all I can do is sit silently at the table, I feel it. When my newsfeed is taken over by birth announcements... and... as the years pass, children starting their first day of school... it makes us feel so behind.

I feel it when I pass by what should be a nursery in our house, but instead, it's still a guest room. I feel it when I walk by the kids' section of every store and fight down the desire to buy a child cute clothes.

I feel it at Christmas. Oh... do I feel it then. As we decorate the house - just the two of us - for the 6th year and hang up an extra stocking for the child we keep hoping for. When there are only a few gifts under the tree - because we don't have a child to buy for and our siblings have decided we're all too old for a gift exchange. When Christmas Day feels empty, because there are no children (not even nieces or nephews) on either side of our family because we are the oldest siblings and we have no kids. And all the days leading up to Christmas that should be filled with making cookies for Santa and watching cartoon Christmas specials and tucking a little one into bed in her Christmas jammies... that are instead spent in a quiet house. Christmas is the hardest. (... and I would be lying if I said I'm not already dreading the holidays this year.)

I'm writing all this with the hope that someone, somewhere is reading it and saying "me too". Not because I wish this painful wait on anyone ever - but because if you're in it, I want you to know that you're not alone.

I wish I could give you some magic formula that would make this season pass faster, or hurt less. There are times that I have handled it with grace, and times I have not. I think that's okay. There is an ebb and flow to the waiting... some days, and some seasons, are just harder than others. I have learned to let myself feel the hard days - to cry when I need to, to be mad when I need to be. (Sometimes chocolate and wine are the best medicine. I understand!) But I let myself enjoy the good days too... the times when I can bless other people because of the season we're in. It helps to do something positive on those days! We keep nursery a lot at church, and sometimes we babysit for free for friends who need the help. It blesses them, and honestly, it blesses us too (because we do love kids and enjoy our time with them!) We feel like we have so much love to give, and while we wish we could lavish it on our daughter, we try to love other children who are in our lives well instead while we wait.

I can tell you that the waiting got a little easier when the adoption paperwork was over - and I've been able to keep myself busy with other things. Projects and "to do" lists help occupy my mind and heart - because when I slow down and get quiet, the sadness comes. But I have also seen that I can't go 100 miles an hour all the time, because that's not healthy either. So I'm trying to learn balance (and failing often).

I don't know if any of these words resonate with any of you, or any of these thoughts make sense. I just feel like this has been on my heart for a long time, and I needed to get it all out. If you're in this season with me, know that I would give anything to be able to reach out and hug you... to pull up a chair and cry over a cup of tea as you share your struggles. I know you feel lonely, forgotten, and out of place... but sweet sister you are not. If you are feeling "stuck" today, please know you're not alone.

Monday, August 10, 2015

More paperwork, updates, and difficult news...

It's been a while since I updated our blog - so sorry friends! We have had a crazy busy summer - between a huge event for our non-profit, a freak accident that injured my wrist (and left me unable to type for a while), lots of trips out of town (fundraising for The Sound of Hope and other family things), working on our office, and also working on adoption paperwork, there hasn't been much time for the blog.

Yes - we are STILL working on adoption paperwork. We have actually been in process so long that we are now having to update "expired" approvals. (Did you know that - according to the US government, your fingerprints expire? Yes - the prints that are only yours, completely unique to you, and never actually change? The ones they use to catch criminals? THOSE fingerprints? Apparently they "expire" after 18 months and you have to redo them. Interesting, huh? *sigh)

Anyway... I thought I'd do a quick update for all of you with the latest on our adoption. So here goes...

In March, we made the difficult decision to change home study agencies. I won't go into details here, but after our experience with our first home study it was the right decision for us. Unfortunately, that meant an extra $700 we weren't planning to spend, and copying and completing a bunch of paperwork we'd already done. *sigh (again)

In June we had to get new physicals, new references, new financial info, and a new home visit to update our home study. In July, we had to send that updated home study, along with some immigration paperwork to the US Immigration Office to renew our I-800A approval before our fingerprints "expire" (which is still so crazy to me... but you've got to do what you've got to do!) The short version of all that is this: Last year we were approved by the US Immigration office to adopt a child. The next step is sending them the file of the specific child we are going to adopt with another round of forms and fees, so that they can approve that specific adoption. But while we wait, we have to keep our initial approval from expiring. So that's what we've been doing this summer.

Once all of that was completed, we looked into applying for a grant (since our timeline continues to stretch and expenses continue to mount.) While reviewing a fee list on our main agency's website last week, I noticed that a Psychological Evaluation was listed as a requirement. Confused - I sent our agency an email. We've been pursuing this adoption for 42 months, and been in process with them for 30 months, and yet we'd never been told about a Psych Evaluation. Surely this was a new requirement for new families, right?


We were told we would have to do a detailed, expensive Psych Evaluation as part of our process - that essentially forces us to revisit every area of our lives - past, present, hopes, dreams, struggles, plans - that we've already been through TWICE with TWO different home study agencies. Frustrated doesn't even begin to explain our feelings.

Then, while we were on the phone trying to get clarification from our main agency about our process, they delivered two more pieces of upsetting news: #1) The social worker informed us that she didn't think we would have a referral by October. As we've been waiting and hoping for a referral to come "any day now", this was very disappointing. And #2) She told us that things are moving slowly, and it could very well take 12 months to get our daughter home AFTER we receive a referral and are matched.

I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. When we've talked about wait times for travel, we've always estimated around 6 months. We only know one other family who adopted from this agency and this children's home, and their daughter was home in 6 months. To hear that we might have another 16 to 18 months before Kate is home was devastating. To be told that we might have to watch her grow up in pictures for a YEAR after we are matched was unbearable. I will never forget the look on my husband's face when we heard that news.

I spent the next hour sitting in the bathroom floor crying while Rusty held my hand. It was hard to breathe. It was hard to think. I actually thought I might be sick. This news was just such a shock to my system after hearing such good news back in April! We had been so hopeful, and we'd been waiting patiently. And yet, once more, we were met with the news of additional requirements and more delays.

I was reading a blog today about a domestic adoption that took a long time and the mother said this:
"... as a prospective adoptive parent you prepare yourself for bumps. You know the range of where the bumps might come up. And you know there are risks. But what you don’t expect….at least what I didn’t expect…was to hit every bump in the road head on."

That resonated with me so much. This has been our story. This has been our struggle. It hasn't been just one bump... or a handful of delays. I feel like every single step in this journey has been uphill, and we've been struggling to get our footing the entire way.

These days I struggle with not knowing what to feel. We have been through every emotion - and we've experienced each of them over and over again. Our life has felt like a roller coaster that we can't get off of. We have felt all the highs... all the joy and hope that comes when you are "expecting". But "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12) and we just can't keep feeling that "high" every day. We have felt the lows... the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and yes, even the bitterness. We've dealt with more than our fair share of heartache, fear, and confusion. But underneath it all, like a constant current, is this longing... this ache for our child.

We know this is still what we are called to do. God confirmed it to us in extraordinary ways, and our desire for our daughter has never changed.  We have discussed it over and over again, and we are committed to this process. We are resolute. But that doesn't make the waiting any easier.

This has been the most emotional exhausting, heart-wrenching thing I have ever endured. And yet, we still wait... we still work... we still hope. And we crave your prayers in the waiting... until the day our Kate is home in our arms.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Another Mother's Day (while we're waiting)

Mother's Day is difficult when no one calls you Mommy.

It can be a painful holiday for women who have lost a child... women who are struggling through infertility, and also for all of us (waiting) adoptive mommas. It is hard because our arms our empty - and our hearts are aching. This is the 4th Mother's Day I've experienced since we announced we were adopting. And each one is hard (because I miss my little girl and I long to be a momma) and each one is awkward (because I'm not a momma yet. Or am I?)

I don't quite know what to do on Mother's Day. There is inevitably a sad moment - when I wish I had sweet Kate bringing me a handful of flowers and a handmade Mother's Day card home from Sunday School. But in all the other moments - I don't quite know what to do. My mom has been so thoughtful and gotten me Mother's Day cards "from Kate" several times. And each year, at least one sweet friend writes a heartfelt Mother's Day wish on my facebook page - and that blesses me so much. Because the truth is - I AM a mother in my heart. But it's hard to see that. I don't have a child at home. I don't tuck anyone in bed at night. I don't rock a baby to sleep, sing along to Sesame Street, or kiss scraped knees. My house isn't littered with toys and cheerios. I don't deal with tantrums or timeouts - runny noses or fevers. So I worry that other people just don't view me as a mom - not in any of the ways that count.

And yet - I have longed to hear someone call me Mommy for the longest time. I love a little girl that I have never met. I worry about her, and pray for her... even though I've never seen her face. I talk about her, and dream about her. And I have worked countless hours... days... months... and years to try to bring her home.

But what do I do on this day? I don't have anything or anyone to celebrate. And without a baby bump, I don't even appear to be an expectant mother (even though I am.) I don't look like a mom. And I don't really feel like a mom. So when (inevitably) the mothers in the room are asked to stand at church on Mother's Day - I have always stayed seated.

Until today.

Today, I was back at the church I grew up in (Lakeview Baptist Church) with my mom. Rusty and I were given an opportunity to speak about our orphan care ministry... and I was glad to be busy. Glad for the distraction. But today - when the mothers were asked to stand - the pastor (God bless him) made SURE to mention that meant EVERY woman who had EVER been a mother - including foster mothers and adoptive mothers. "But my child isn't home yet", I thought to myself. Still intending to stay seated. And then I got the eyes from my brother and sister-in-law. The eyes that said "he means you! You'd better stand up!" So I did. And I felt awkward. And illegitimate. And I wondered if I'd made a mistake. But I took my rose and sat back down teary eyed.

And then, the precious pastor, Darrell (who happens to have adopted nieces) brought another rose over to me personally. "I just wanted to make SURE you got one of these today" he said. He wanted me to know - without a doubt - that he meant me too. He'd prayed the sweetest prayer for us that morning before we spoke, and he'd asked God to bless our adoption. And now he'd made sure that I was recognized and honored. I was so, so touched.

It was already a special Mother's Day - but that wasn't all God had in store for me. After lunch with our family, my baby brother and new sister-in-law showed up with a gift. I, of course, assumed it was for my mom. But then they handed it to me! I didn't know what to do!

Inside - was the sweetest card for a "Momma to be"...

... and our little girl's 1st Bible! (and it's a princess Bible! They know me well! ;) 

Thank you Aunt Michelle and Uncle Jaron! What a precious gift!

Needless to say - there were lots of tears this year... but not tears of sadness. On a day when I have always felt so sad, and awkward - our adoption was celebrated. And as I carried home my roses, and put baby Kate's Bible on the shelf - I was reminded to have HOPE and FAITH.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, 
the evidence of things not seen.     ~ Hebrews 11:1

To all of you who have been so thoughtful and kind to me this Mother's Day (and for the last 3 years as well), thank you. God bless you for your compassion and tenderness on a difficult day.

To all my other waiting adoptive mommas on Mother's Day - as you work and pray to get your little darlings home - keep HOPE and FAITH in your heart! Our stories are not yet finished!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Good news!

Good news! Oh it feels incredible to type that in an adoption update. Since we began our process - we've had a lot of delays, setbacks, and roadblocks. Each time we talked to our agency - we were given longer, and longer timelines. It has been heartbreaking, and it has been discouraging.

Until today!

Today we got the first encouraging phone call we've had in a long, long time. The director of our agency called to let us know that BOTH families ahead of us waiting for a referral from the Pattaya Orphanage have been MATCHED!!! Praise Jesus!!!!

Now these are just the two families that were waiting from our agency (and that orphanage matches children with agencies in countries other than just the US) - but this is a sign of MOVEMENT and we are rejoicing. We were told that while they cannot guarantee anything, they feel confident that we will be matched with a child by the end of the year if not before. (Thank you Jesus!!!)

We are praising God for good news on our adoption front - and the first real movement we've seen in this 38 month process. We have renewed hope, and we are so excited for the day we will see our baby girl's face for the very first time!

Please continue to pray for God's hand on this process - and for sweet little Kate (wherever she is tonight.) We love you baby girl, and we can't wait to meet you!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kate's corner

This is a little glimpse of the little shelf in my daughter's room. As I've said before, most of Kate's things are put away until she comes home (the few things we've bought or had gifted to us). Her room is still just an extra "guestroom" (because I cannot bear to look at an empty nursery while our adoption process drags on).... 

...but this little shelf in the corner reminds me of what will be. 

The bookcase was my grandmother's. It is full of my favorite children's books and and a few toys. When I get upset that I can't buy Kate things yet (because we have no idea how old or how big she'll be when she comes home... so shoes and clothes aren't really an option) I buy books. I cried the first time I read Nancy Tillman's "On The Night You Were Born" and "The Crown On Your Head". We had just started our adoption paperwork, but I couldn't leave the store without them! And so, we have those, and "Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You". Someday, I hope to have them all. And someday, I will read them to my little brown eyed beauty before I tuck her in bed.

The two top shelves hold special keepsakes. The little handmade bunny from Thailand is the first thing we ever bought our little girl. The journals are for me to fill with letters to Kate and parts of her story I'm recording along the way. The box is teak wood - also handmade in Thailand. The little jar of sand and shells is from Pattaya Beach - a mile from the orphanage we're adopting from. The painted word is from a dear friend. "Eucharisteo" reminds us to choose grace and joy and thankfulness along this difficult path. And the latest addition is the beautiful glitter letter sign - handmade by a fellow Thailand adoptive momma! It will someday remind our little girl that she is LOVED - but these days, it reminds me that we are loved, and our little girl is loved - by a loving and powerful and purposeful God - who is in control of this adoption, and who will bring her HOME!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It’s okay to not be okay. (Part 2)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, and where I was (emotionally) when I wrote it, and what God has been revealing to me since. I know it was kind of a long, rambly blog (I actually hesitated to post it!) - but now that it’s out there, I don’t actually think I’m quite done with this concept yet. Because when I talk to people who have been through (or are going through) real pain, this subject keeps coming up. They keep telling me that they wish people would stop spouting Christian cliches and just grieve with them.

In my blog I shared this -
I think somewhere along the way, we Christians began to think that comforting someone equals encouraging them. But friends... sometimes you can't fix it. Sometimes, you can't make someone feel better. Sometimes, comfort just looks like "weeping with those who weep." (Romans 12:15) It's a hard lesson to learn (and one I struggle with too) but I think it's an important one.  
{Image Source}

Can we talk about that a little more?

It seems like the go to response for Christians these days sounds like this…

“Count it all joy!”
“We should be joyful in times of suffering!"
“God allowed this to happen for a reason… someday you’ll understand!”
“Maybe God was protecting you from something!”
“God is totally going to use this someday.”
“God will redeem this!”
“He works all things for His good!”

… and so on, and so forth. It’s as if we can’t allow people to feel anything bad. We’ve got to try to fix it - or at least explain it - immediately! (And yes, I’m guilty too.)

I think we, as Christians, have gotten uncomfortable with grief. I think we’ve forgotten that it’s our job to comfort people with the comfort Jesus Christ has given us (2 Cor 1:4), and to mourn with those who mourn, and weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15). I think we’ve gotten into a terrible habit of putting pretty words on top of a hurting heart - like sticking a bandaid over a gaping wound.

A gaping wound that’s still bleeding… and seriously - the bandaid’s just not going to cut it.

I think we’ve forgotten how to step into someone else’s hurt and acknowledge it, instead of just trying to fix it.

I think about all the horrific places I’ve been, and the heartbreaking things I’ve seen and done and can’t explain…

...holding the hand of a woman dying of AIDS in Africa that I could not help at all…. holding the hand of a dying leper in India whose pain I couldn’t stop… holding the hand of a trafficked woman who has spent the last 17 years of her life in a brothel…. holding babies in slums that will likely die of a preventable illness, or be trafficked or abused or both… visiting a 15 year old friend in the hospital just months before she died of leukemia… grieving with a widow who lost her husband less than 2 years into marriage…. holding a newborn baby girl who will never meet her daddy….

I have been in enough slums and brothels and hospitals and funeral homes to know that this is a sick, sad, and broken world. Can we stop pretending like we’re okay with it? Can we acknowledge all the terrible injustice all around us, and let ourselves feel the grief and frustration and anger - righteous anger - that Jesus felt a time or two?

Maybe one of the things that keeps hurting people out of our churches, is the facade we put on. Maybe they can’t identify with us because we’re pretending that everything is okay because we have “the hope of Christ."

Can I tell you something? Everything is not okay!

Yes - I know that the hope I have in Christ is a real thing. Yes, I have experienced the kind of peace that passes understanding. I have felt those awe-inspiring moments where God ministered to me in the most tangible ways - and I was able to stand on a dark day when I should’ve crumbled. I have felt unexplainable joy and strength on a day when there should have only been tears and utter hopelessness.

But I have also felt crippling darkness, and grief that seems to swallow you whole. I have felt bitterness and rage and frustration and confusion. I have felt an ache in my heart that I feared would never go away.

And in all of those cases… on the days when grief was crippling and the days when peace was tangible - I believe God was present. I believe He was holding me. And I don’t believe there was anything wrong with me on those especially dark days either.

I just believe we live in a broken, hurting world. Can we recognize that please? And can we stop pretending that God is some sadistic giant playing games with us like we’re little pawns? I don’t actually think God is responsible for all these horrific things that happen. I don’t see His hand on them. That’s not my God. (So, let’s not give him all the credit for the bad stuff…ok?)

Can we remember that there are more than just powers of “good” at work here? Can we remember all the scripture that talks about suffering and all of creation groaning and remember that we aren’t supposed to be completely at peace here? Can we remember that this is a battle and that we are in the midst of a war between good and EVIL? Can we remember that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion?

We don’t have to be defeated or live as those who have no hope - but can we just be REAL? I know those truths are messy and scary and uncomfortable - but they are REAL. And the scripture that references them is just as important as the ones that tell us to choose JOY. There is a season for everything… and not every season has to be joyful. There is a time to weep, remember?

A very wise friend of mine (Laura Jacobs) shared this with me after reading my last post:

Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time [a season] for every single feeling… Weeping, dancing, mourning, laughing… all of it is in there. We as Westerners really suck at knowing what Season it is. When it’s summer we complain about the heat and when it’s winter we complain about the cold. God’s been teaching myself and a LOT of people I know about just being in the season that you’re in… accepting it, feeling all of it, before moving on to the next season. So feel all of it when you need to feel it… you have BIBLE permission to be in all of your emotions as they come.

I was so encouraged hearing that TRUTH - that we have Bible permission to embrace the season we are in. Sometimes - it’s Spring, and our hearts are blooming with new HOPE. Sometimes it’s Summer - when everything is lush and green. But sometimes… it’s winter. And everything feels cold and dark. And that’s okay!!! You don’t have to pretend it’s Summer if your heart feels frozen. You have permission to be exactly where you are - and you can trust that God WILL use that season. Sometimes, things have to “winter”… they have to go dormant before new life appears. Some of the most beautiful flowers come from bulbs that have to spend the winter buried beneath frozen ground before they’ll bloom. "There is a season for everything under the heavens." (Ecc 3:1) It’s not supposed to be summer all the time!

Someday - we will see His glory. Someday, every tear will be wiped away. Someday, we will experience REAL peace and joy and freedom in a way we never have before. But until that happens - can we recognize that the world we’re in now is broken, and sometimes that is the only explanation for our pain? And can we grieve it - really grieve it - together, so we don’t feel so alone?

I am reminded of the scripture "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)  I've always wondered why He wept when He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. (As a matter of fact - he'd already told his disciples (John 11:11) and Martha (John 11:23) he was going to do it!)  So the more I think about this story the more I wonder... what if his reason for weeping was simply to show empathy to Mary & Martha?

John 11: 33 says that Jesus saw Mary and her friends weeping, and "he was deeply moved [..] and troubled." And then in verse 35 we read, "Jesus wept." So is that why he wept? Because they were weeping? Because they were grieving? Because it troubled him to see people he loved in pain? Maybe they weren't tears of sadness, but tears of empathy! What an example for us! Sometimes weeping with someone is the most loving thing we can do.


*Here’s a little bonus material for you, also sent by my wise friend Laura. It’s Brene Brown’s teaching on empathy, and this little video says SO much. If you’re trying to figure out how to “get in the boat” (or in this case, in the pit) and love someone through a rough time, or if you're trying to figure out what not to do when someone you love is struggling, this will give you some great perspective. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

3 years...

Three years ago today we announced we were adopting with bright eyes and hopeful hearts. Three years ago, we imagined that by February 2015 we would have our little girl home and in our arms, or at the least, be holding a photo of her sweet face by now - just waiting for the call to bring her home.

Three years have passed but we are not yet a family of 3 - not even close. It has been an uphill battle to say the least. Three years of working and fighting to make our dream of adoption a reality.  36 months of praying for our little girl. 1,096 days of hoping to hold her in our arms.

It is so hard not to have her home today - but we will not give up. She is worth every day... every month... every year that we have to fight for her. She is worth every prayer we've prayed and every tear I've shed missing her. I don't know how long this chapter of our story will be... but whether it's 70 pages or 700 - I know how it ends. It ends with us bringing Kate Jackson home from Thailand, and tucking her into the bedroom down the hall. (The bedroom where I sit and cry and pray on hard days.) This chapter of waiting and hoping ends with a little girl with big brown eyes and brown sugar skin calling me mama. And I will hold on to that vision until I can feel the weight of her in my arms.

We were told last week by our adoption agency that we could expect to wait another 1.5 to 2 years to be matched, and another 6 months to 1 year after that to bring Kate home. That means it could be 2017 before our daughter is home with us. (Though we are praying for a miracle to bring her home sooner!) I can't even tell you how it felt to hear those words. I can't even wrap my mind around enduring 3 more Mother's Days and 2 more Christmases without our daughter. I can't imagine 3 more empty years without her. It was a dark day for me.... for us. It was all I could do not to fall apart.

... but that day, (after shedding many, many tears) I realized there is something steadfast* within me. My heart aches, but I trust the word God has given us. I know He has called us to adopt our daughter from Thailand, and I have seen Him confirm it in extraordinary ways. So I will not waver. Frustration may come, but I am resolute. Doubt and fear will not sway me. I will stand firm on His promise and fix my eyes on the vision He has given us for our family. One foot in front of the other for as many miles as it takes... we will continue to walk this journey to bring our daughter home. 


*For those of you who are regular readers - I feel the need to add a THANK YOU here for all your prayers. So many of you comment or message me often to let me know you're praying for us and our adoption - and that must be true... because I should have crumbled when we got this news. It was a dark day - but it could've been so much darker without your prayers holding us up. So thank you for covering us in your prayers - and please, please continue! We hope you'll join us in praying for a miracle - that this new timeline will be much shorter than what we've just been told. We know God is able to move mountains!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's okay to not be okay.

"Every once in a while we gotta stop trying so hard to be loved and just BE LOVED."
- Glennon Melton

[Image source]

I was sitting on my friend Stefanie's couch a few days ago chatting.... (okay... that's a lie. I wasn't so much chatting as I was crying and stuffing my face with cheese crackers and chocolate) when these words came tumbling out...

"I feel like a mess. I have so much hurt and sadness and frustration built up inside me because of our adoption, and it seems like anytime someone asks me about it, it all comes spilling out. I feel like I should be wearing a warning sign! I'm just awful! I'm afraid people won't want to be around me anymore! I'm so afraid I'm going to make people think I'm a terrible person... or a bad Christian... or scare someone away from adopting because of how challenging our experience is. But I just can't fake it and pretend like I'm okay, because this is SO hard. I love it when people ask about our adoption - because it lets me know our daughter isn't forgotten. It makes it feel real to me. But I wish I could just smile and say, "It's hard, please keep us in your prayers." Instead - I tell them how I REALLY feel. And then I get emotional. And then I regret it. And then I feel like I have to end everything negative I said with something hopeful and appropriate for a Christian to say in a really peppy voice.. like... "But I know she'll be so worth it! So we are just going to keep praying and trusting God!" And then they agree and spout something equally positive and hopeful and I don't feel any better than I did before they asked."

I don't think I knew I felt all of that until I said it. I went on to confess how I'd rambled incessantly about our adoption at a Baby Shower, and regretted it - but how I'd felt so awkward because it just made me miss my daughter SO much and I didn't know how else to relate to all the moms there. [*sidenote - Friends please don't think this means I don't want to come to your baby shower or kids birthday or be around your precious adorable little ones. I love them and you! I really, truly enjoy our time together! But please DO be understanding if I am a socially awkward mess at said event. It's just a season... I promise it will pass!] I brought up several awkward conversations and rehashed them with my patient friend - wishing I could go back and change them. I went through the guilt and how much I was REALLY struggling with this season even though I'm "supposed to" feel hopeful and peaceful and be able to trust God.

And then she told me to stop it.

This dear, sweet, precious friend - who has been such a godsend in this season - told me to stop apologizing. She told me to stop being afraid I was going to scare someone away from adopting. She told me to stop worrying about what other people think, and she told me to just FEEL what I need to feel right now. She told me it was okay. She told me that the people who judged me didn't matter - and that this was a season to let myself be loved.

And then I cried some more.

It was the first time I realized what I really needed in this season. Validation.

You guys... validating someone's feelings goes such a long way.

I have felt every single emotion at some point during this adoption. Excitement. Anxiety. Hope. Fear. Joy. Anticipation. Anger. Frustration. Peace. Doubt. Sadness. Determination. Exhaustion.

Yes - we need your prayers to face this. We desperately need your prayers! And yes - sometimes I DO need a word of encouragement or a certain scripture. There are days that people send me a facebook message, or an email, or a text and it is exactly what I needed to hear! (And you guys, I am so, incredibly grateful you take the time to do that! It makes me feel so loved!) But some days, I know all that stuff, and it still doesn't change how I FEEL. Because I feel angry, and hurt, and frustrated, and sad. And more than a cheerleader yelling encouragement from the banks, I need someone to get in the boat with me and tell me it's OKAY to feel how I feel. And that those feelings don't make me less of a Christian, or less of a person.

Some days, I just need to feel like I have permission to be where I am, and to know that people will love me through it.

I think somewhere along the way, we Christians began to think that comforting someone equals encouraging them. But friends... sometimes you can't fix it. Sometimes, you can't make someone feel better. Sometimes, comfort just looks like "weeping with those who weep." (Romans 12:15) It's a hard lesson to learn (and one I struggle with too) but I think it's an important one.

The TRUTH is - God is in control. The TRUTH is - He has a plan, and He called us to this adoption, and He will see us through.

But the TRUTH is also, that I am a mother that has been waiting for a child for almost 3 years with no end in sight. I am a 31 year old woman who wants a house full of kids who doesn't even have the first one yet. I am a professional woman who feels like her life is on hold - because we have no idea how long this adoption will take to be completed (and it affects every single facet of our lives - including our work.) I am a wife who is tired of how the sadness and stress of adoption affects my marriage. I am a friend who is tired of how the sadness and stress of adoption affects my friendships. I am an intelligent, capable person who has dealt with incredible incompetence from a lot of people in our adoption journey. And I am a loving, dedicated mother-to-be who has been second guessed and picked apart by certain people (people who were supposed to be in our corner) in our adoption process. All of that will do a number on your heart.

The truth is, even though God is in control, we still live in a broken world where children grow up abandoned and alone. That's a travesty.

The truth is, we are a loving family - waiting to bring home a child in need of a loving family - and a whole lot of things are standing in our way. That's not just unfortunate - that's an injustice.

(There's a lot of injustice in the adoption world these days. *sigh)

And you know what? I serve a God who hates injustice... a God who is grieved by the plight of the orphan.

I shouldn't be okay with this! We have open hearts and an open home ready for a little girl who needs us, and we can't get to her. That's not okay. There is a child out there without parents to love her, protect her, and provide for her - and that's NOT okay. I have every right to be just as angry and upset about adoptions taking way too long - and children growing up institutionalized, as I do to be angry and upset about human trafficking, and poverty, and children dying from preventable diseases, and cancer, and suicide, and precious couples struggling with infertility. It's all injustice. So I'm not going to apologize for being upset about it anymore.

I still have hope in my heart, and I DO still trust God with this process, but there is no word of encouragement or bible verse that will take away the ache of not having my little girl home. And I'm realizing that's okay.

(Thanks Stef, for helping me realize that.)

Jesus felt all these emotions, and He lived a sinless life. He wept. He got angry. He even begged God to consider a different plan before He went to the cross. He never apologized for those feelings, because they weren't a sin. So I'm not going to either.

So for all of you who are struggling through the same situation - this is me, giving you permission to feel whatever you're feeling. And for those of you wondering how to love us through a difficult season (whether it's a lengthy adoption, infertility, cancer, a death in the family, etc) - just remember that while we do need your encouragement and your prayers and your bible verses - sometimes we just need you to hug us, grieve with us, and tell us, "This sucks. I hate this for you! This isn't fair. I'm SO sorry."

Climb in the boat with us every now and then. It helps us not feel so alone. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

For our beach baby...

Here's the latest addition to Baby Kate's room! 

A little bit of Pattaya Beach, for our little beach baby.

Kate's room is technically still just a guest room (I can't bear to decorate a nursery that sits empty for months - or maybe years) but I do have one little bookshelf in there that is hers. It was my grandmother's shelf, and now it's full of Kate's things. There are plenty of books (the one thing I can buy her that I know she won't grow out of), a little basket of wooden toys (that our neighbor kids are "breaking in" for her), a little handmade teak box from Thailand, a framed word ("Eucharisteo") from a dear friend, a wooden sign that will someday remind her she is "SO LOVED", and now this.

We scooped up the sand and searched the beach for shells our last day in Thailand this Fall. It is crazy to think that we could've been just a mile or two away from our daughter that day. For those that don't know, we are adopting from Pattaya Orphanage. Pattaya City is on the coast of Thailand - so our little girl will be a "beach baby" to me (even if she's never actually been to the beach when we meet her!)

I have struggled lately with feeling like our adoption is still real... with feeling like Kate is real. This journey has been SO long, and I've been through every emotion possible over the last 3 years. In the beginning there was so much excitement and anticipation... but you can't keep feeling that same "high" year, after year, after year. Eventually, your heart settles into the dullness of waiting... with no day or month or year to count down to. It's easy to wonder if it's real... if the little girl I dream of will ever actually be in my arms. So I'm trying hard to do what I can to create tangible reminders of her - like this little jar of sand. There is one on her bookshelf, and a second little jar on my dresser so I can see it every day.

For those of you who ask for updates, or message me encouragement, or bring up Kate (or our adoption) when you see me - thank you. Please keep asking about her. Please keep talking about her. Even if I have NO news.... even if I seem upset... even if I complain or cry... please know - to hear you talking about her means so much to me.

Baby girl, we can't wait to meet you! We're looking forward to lots of family vacations,
playing in the sand and collecting seashells with our beach baby!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mother/Daughter Road Trip :: Day 3 & 4

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 you can click through to read them.

I'll be honest. Day 3 and 4 were pretty uneventful. I spent most of Day 3 (my birthday) curled up with a book in front of the fireplace, which made me pretty happy!

That is of course, until tea time. The kind tea lady actually said, "Are you sure you won't spill it?!" when I asked for tea. (Crap. They remembered me! I was hoping somehow the hot tea firework hadn't been noticed by the ENTIRE ROOM yesterday. No such luck.) Another lady said, "Oh, I saw that yesterday. Are you okay?" (Humiliating.) Mom joined me and whisper/yelled "HE HAS A WALKIE TALKIE!" every time a maintenance person walked by and then giggled when I rolled my eyes. And then, suddenly, another man spilled his tea everywhere and I ceremoniously passed him the torch while everyone stared at HIM for a change! Haha! (Thanks for the birthday gift karma!) Okay... I didn't really rejoice that he spilled, but I totally went up to him and explained that I did the same thing yesterday - only made twice the size of his mess because, hello, HOT TEA FIREWORK. It was great. We had a good laugh out of it.

Anyway - the rest of the day went well. We went out to an AMAZING dinner at Jesse's. (Thank you to my friend from college, Matt, for suggesting it!) 

It was seriously one of the best meals of my life! We had warm brie with granny smith apples and pecan praline sauce, a wedge salad, filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans, and a flourless chocolate lava cake. After dinner we stayed to enjoy some live jazz. It was wonderful!

The next day we got up, took 53 trips downstairs to get all our bags to the car (or maybe just 2 trips with our arms almost falling off again), checked out, bought baby Kate an ADORABLE book about a little crab that saves a fish, and went out to feed the ducks.

The property at The Grand Hotel is seriously so gorgeous - even in the winter! And the ducks were super friendly, which totally made my day. (I know, I know, I'm easily amused. But you GUYS! They would follow me around and eat out of my hand! Such brave little ducks! I loved them!)

For the first time all week it was sunny and sort of warm, so we walked all over the property before heading to lunch. Of course on the way to lunch, a light on the dash came on and we realized a tire was low. So we ended up pooling together all the change we had in the car to put air in the tire... which took both of us because the air compressor wasn't working right and wouldn't stay on the tire. Good times!

(It wouldn't have been a normal day if something interesting didn't happen, right? ;) Luckily, we made it to lunch, a quick shopping trip, and home without any more drama!

I had a lot of fun sharing these stories, and I hope you've all had a lot of laughs. But really - I wanted to share them on my blog just to preserve the memories. When I was packing for the trip I realized - I can't remember a time when just me and my mom ever went on a trip. I've been lucky to take a LOT of family trips with my entire family - sometimes even my extended family - or at the very least my mom and dad. This was the first time I can remember that Dad wasn't available and it was just us girls - and we had a blast! (Sorry Dad! Love you too!) If you've never taken a trip just you and your mom (teenage and adult girlfriends) I would highly recommend it. We laughed a lot (obviously), talked about things we've never really talked about, ate yummy meals where we shared every course so we could have all 4 courses (best idea ever) and goofed off like teenagers. We made such fun memories, and I know we'll cherish them for years to come. I hope that someday, I'll be able to make road trip memories like these with my own daughter. 

Thanks Mom for a great birthday week! I love you!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mother/Daughter Road Trip :: Day 2

(In case you missed Part 1, check it out here.)

Mom wasn't really thrilled that I posted the first day's events on facebook (especially when I told her my friends in India liked it too! Come on Mom! Now you're funny in 2 countries! Hahaha!) - so I'm sure she'll love that these are now up on the blog! ;) But I just can't leave you hanging... because Day 2 was just as memorable as Day 1! 

Day 2:

Mom told me over and over again last night that I HAD to go see the cannon today. "They shoot it off at 4:00" she said. "They march around the property with a drum at 3:30" she said. "Don't be late or you'll miss it!" she said. So at 3:15 I put down my work, threw on some clothes, and hurried out to the pier.

By the time I found the cannon, I was FREEZING. It's 46 with windchill that makes it feel like Antarctica. I have no gloves. I have a thin scarf and a thin jacket and a thin sweater and blue jeans. All I can think is, "We have 16 freaking bags between us and I packed NOTHING warm enough!" I thought going South would = warmer weather. I thought 55 degrees wouldn't be frigid. I was wrong. By the time I sat down by the cannon tears were streaming down my face from the icy wind (I had to take my glasses off and dab my face with my scarf!) and my hair was EVERYWHERE. Seriously. This is a picture of me waiting by the cannon. Glad I didn't bother to brush my hair that morning.

3:45 came and went. 3:50... 4:00. No flipping marching man. No drum. No cannon fire. At this point I was a popsicle. I was trying to text my husband but my fingers got too cold to cooperate. 

4:02 - FINALLY! Some man in a costume came out carrying an American Flag. Fantastic! Let's do this!

4:14 - The Navy man is telling a story about the military/war history of the area. He's been talking for 12 minutes. It feels like 1200 minutes. Normally I would love this history lesson (I am a total history nerd!) but with the wind off the bay and the 46 degree temp I am numb. But I am going to see the cannon for crying out loud!

4:15 - He fires the cannon! It is awesome. I get an awesome picture. (see below). And then I high-tail it inside to get some tea and cookies.

Ahh.... tea and cookies. I have never been so excited about tea and cookies! I skipped lunch (long story - I brought snacks but couldn't find a knife to get my peanut butter out of the jar!) and I am starving. I am also freezing, and want to drink something warm. She fills my tea up to the brim and I feel panicked. I still can't feel my hands... how am I going to pick this up on a saucer with one hand and get to a seat without spilling it?! I literally shuffle across the room. I sip it down to add milk and sugar - then it's full again. I sip again. I'm not fast enough. People are lining up behind me to get to the milk and sugar. I shuffle to the couch nervously. SUCCESS! My hands are still numb, but I didn't spill!

I eat my blueberry scone that is so, so delicious and reach for my tea. Three sips in, and it happens....

A maintenance woman walks by and drops the biggest walkie talkie I've ever seen on the hardwood floor literally at my feet. It sounds like a gunshot. Of COURSE it scares me half to death. Of COURSE I jump. Of COURSE I throw my delicious hot tea EVERYWHERE.

Seriously. You guys. I was like a hot tea firework exploding all over the room. There was tea on the floor, tea on the furniture, tea on my jacket, tea on my shoes. There was also tea (along with my tears from earlier) all over one of my favorite scarves from my very first trip to India, and tea ALL over my darkwash skinny jeans. The only pair of dressy pants I'd brought with me. The jeans I was going to wear out to dinner that night AND the next night. (16 flipping bags and I only have one pair of dressy jeans?! Seriously? How is this possible!?)

I was so, so sad about my tea, but I almost laughed. (I did, in my head. Because all I could think was "of course this would happen!" followed by "at least I'll have something to share on my blog today!") The maintenance woman felt terrible and kept apologizing. I of course told her it wasn't her fault (I mean... she was clumsy and dropped a walkie talkie, and I was clumsy and jumpy and became a hot tea firework. Accidents happen.) She showed me to the bathroom where I began blotting my clothes with a wet paper towel and dreading walking the 1/4 mile back to our building in the FREEZING cold wind. I was wet and cold and very sticky by the time I got back to our room.

Then, when I didn't think it was possible, things got even worse! I started trying to wash out my FAVORITE pair of jeans.... the jeans I've had for at least 5 years and washed dozens of times....

and everything turned BLUE.

Blue towel, blue washcloth, and the sink looked like a Smurf died in it. By the time my mom came back to the room from her conference I was wearing sweatpants, using the hairdryer on my wet blue jeans, and sporting a bright blue hand. 

I was not amused. She, however, thought it was hysterical!

Night 2:

I managed to get my jeans dry, ran a brush through my nappy, windblown hair, and made it out to dinner. We had some yummy Italian food, gelato, and then took a quick trip to Publix before heading back to the hotel. (I really like eating a cinnamon roll smothered with cream cheese icing for breakfast on my birthday, and I knew Publix would have one!)

All went well. I got my cinnamon roll, we checked out, and we made it back to the car. That's when I started hearing the music.

Me: Mom, what's that?
Mom: I don't know!
Me: It's coming from your phone.
Mom: No it's not! I've never even heard that before!
Me [taking Mom's phone]: Yes it is! Look - your music app is open. It's playing your music.
[At this point, my precious, innocent, Southern Baptist mom looks at the phone, sees this picture, and freaks out.]


[Mom continues to dramatically protest while I laugh until I can't breathe.]

Mom: What is so FUNNY?! I didn't BUY THAT! I PROMISE!
Me [barely able to speak because I'm still laughing]: I know Mom! I know! It's U2.

Now for those of you that don't know - a few months ago Apple CEO joined forces with U2 (arguably one of the most successful and beloved bands of all time) and "gifted" everyone with an iPhone, everywhere in the world, with the latest U2 album. It was kind of freaky and amazing all at once. At least, I thought so. But then again, I like U2. Apparently though, a whole lot of people had a similar response to my mom. I saw a lot of angry posts online with people asking how to get this "blankety blank" off their phone. But this was the first time I'd actually encountered that kind of reaction in person and you guys... it was HYSTERICAL!!! 

So there you have it friends. Day 2 and Night 2 of our "Mother Daughter Roadtrip Shenanigans" is in the books. I'm scared to think what tomorrow will bring!