Friday, August 4, 2017

He is Good Now

This whole adoption process is much more emotionally draining than I had envisioned. Every time we show a mama our book, we feel completely vulnerable, hopeful, cautious, excited, and terrified. It's up and down, up and down waiting, to hear "she chose someone else," then grieving that "what if" of that baby. Then pick yourself right back up and show another mom your book, in case this is the one. 

It's only been since March, but I still have felt tossed and turned like I was stuck in the current of ocean waves. Coming up for air then getting tossed and beaten around again. This last no we heard was the hardest one yet. We had instantly both felt connected with this mama when we read the email. Separately we felt in our hearts this was THE one. We weren't waiting on an email to see who she had chosen, we were waiting on a phone call saying she had chosen us. We were so sure. This was our daughter. And then the email came, she had chosen someone else. 

Each no we've heard, I've allowed myself an entire day to grieve. I let go of the to do lists and just allow myself the space to feel that sadness and the loss of "what if". This time I felt it even more. And my wise friend asked me "what are you hearing about yourself when you hear no?"  I realized I was hearing that I don't deserve the gift of adoption, of another brave mama choosing me to be the parent of her baby. That it was something I'd have to earn from God and He must not have enough gold stars on my chart yet. I must need to find something that He is waiting for me to do or grasp or give. And in that moment, I got it. 

That is not who our God is. He isn't a God of achievements or check marks on a list. That is the entire point of the Gospel, of Christ coming down and dying for you and for me, so that we can have complete FREEDOM to live our lives with Him, instead FOR Him. To sit on the beach and watch the ebb and the flow of the waves, not be tossed by them and gasping for breath, because Christ has rescued us out of that turmoil. To breathe in His grace and stick our toes in the sand and realize: He is good in the whole journey. Not only once you can see how the story ends. Not when the baby is in your arms and you realize how intricately he designed your story all along. But in the waiting, in the no's, the but why's, and not yets. He is good now.

Yesterday, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed (waking up with my 4 year old's feet in my back didn't help), was a little snippy and had a short fuse with the boys. My mom and sister came to pick me up to go cave-ing and hiking. For the record, I'm not a caver.  :) Before we left, I went upstairs, kneeled down and asked the Lord to allow me to walk in His freedom through this wait. To find joy in the whole journey and to remember that He has already written our story, we only need to trust Him as we walk it out. So we went through a cave, went for a hike, watched beautiful water falls, and on the way back to the car I realized I hadn't thought about adoption the ENTIRE TIME! Such victory, considering every single moment after we know a mama has our book my stomach is either in a knot or I am praying for her as she makes the decision. 

Our God is so sweet and He has already written your story too. Will you walk with me in the freedom we've already received from Christ? Even when you don't know the ending of the story?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Unexpected Grief

My sister in law said it perfectly: “My heart breaks for her and aches for you.”

When we got the text at noon on Thursday that there was a baby in Florida who was 1 day past her due date, I did what anyone would naturally do. Called my husband, freaked out. Called my mom, freaked out. Read the text and subsequent email 100x looking for any detail I missed the time before. I had done this with each mama we had seen, except this time it was different.

As I read the email, I was weepy.

As I called Zach, I was desperate for him to say we could present to this mom. I wanted this baby. I wanted to book the next flight to Florida and snuggle her as soon as she was earthside.

He said YES! I cried again. I wrote the most honest, heartfelt letter I’ve ever written. Last time it felt unnatural. This time felt right.

Coincidentally we had stayed home from an all expense paid trip for two to Australia, and instead decided to spend the weekend with our close friends about two hours away who live and work at a Young Life Camp. We decided to still go, regardless of the fact there is no cell service, and spend the time we could with them. Atleast there is wifi and FaceTime at their house.

We got to camp late at night, put the kids down, and that’s when the anxiety settled in. I had been trying to pray all day and just couldn’t find words. I kept saying “Lord, you know. We trust you.”  After the kids were down and all was quiet I started praying for mama, for her decision to choose a family, that she would feel confident in her decision to choose adoption and clarity in which family she wanted to place her baby with. I was praying the Lord would comfort her as she goes through these final days of pregnancy knowing what is coming.

I started memorizing Romans 15:13. With each word I would forget and go lookup, the Lord was teaching me and bringing me closer to him.


To be honest, I was sure this was our mama. This was our baby. I just knew it. I actually had this post written up until here because I wanted to remember each step and how I felt to live out our story, the one we have prayed for this whole time. I was writing it as I felt it so that I could post something as soon as we knew she was ours.

 I was so anxious for my email to ding because I knew it was going to say she had chosen us, or she wanted to meet us. At camp we don’t have cell service so I thought maybe someone would FaceTime us to tell us the amazing news that we were about to welcome a daughter, and it was time to get on a plane to Florida.

We headed into camp to grab an ice cream cone from the Sassy. I was actually grateful to leave the house and the wifi so that I could stop hitting 'refresh' every 3 minutes hoping for news. There is zero service down in camp, and I knew I needed the fresh air that comes with being totally disconnected. We let the boys run around & then decided to head up to start dinner.

I was chopping mushrooms while waiting for water to boil when Zach came around the corner holding his phone. As only Zach can do, he used the same calm voice he always does and said, "the mama has narrowed it down and she is choosing a family that is local."

I had to actually stop and think about what he had just said because that certainly wasn't what I was anticipating hearing. This was our baby! Everything was perfect; Australia, the timing, our suitcases were packed, our friend has a house we can stay in, we are ready! But it's not up to us. And all of a sudden I understood the verse the Lord had laid on my heart. He wasn't giving me this verse for our wait to hear back from this mama. He was giving me this verse for after we heard this wasn't our baby.

I was and am ok. I had peace in her decision. I knew this just meant this was someone else's baby. I have said that all along, that we would be ok waiting for our baby. I knew that there were other families showing this mama their books and we had been praying for her all weekend because of the magnitude of the decision she was making.

What I wasn't expecting though, is the sadness. Even as I type this my eyes are welling up with tears yet again. When my sweet friend Jess came inside and just hugged me without saying anything, that is when it hit. Yes, I have a supernatural peace about this. I have joy, so much joy. I trust in Him. I am overflowing with hope, truly. And I am also sad. When we decided to present to this mama (present is the adoption lingo meaning the agency shows her our family's book), that was our yes. In our hearts we were prepared to call this baby our own. And now we lean into the Lord as we grieve that "if" and wait on our "yes."


photo credit: Kari Rae Lewis

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

For Life

Last week, we heard from our case worker that our home study would be approved that weekend. Our consultant sent us our profile book to order. We narrowed down the agencies we were going to apply to. We were ready to send everything in & be "waiting."

I decided I would write us a letter from ourselves at this point, to read later on in case we get discouraged & to document each step of the process and what we are feeling at this point. I felt like it was a good transition point to take a pause and write things down before the next phase started. Process it and pray over it.

Until I woke up and there was a birth mom situation in my inbox. What? I wasn't ready! We hadn't even gotten our approved home study, we hadn't sent our applications in, I hadn't written my thoughts down!! That sweet letter I was going to write to the future us as if we were campers at Young Life Camp or something - I hadn't even thought of what to say!

And then it clicked. The Lord was like, "hey Katie, did I ever say this was going to go how you planned it? Even a little bit?" No, in fact at a women's weekend I went to last fall (at a Young Life Camp, no less) He specifically told me this process was going to teach me patience. Not like we will have this take longer than normal, but more like I am just an INSTANT gratification person, 100% of the time, and this wasn't going to work like that. I was already feeling pressured to keep up with everyone else's timelines. But this is ours. Our adoption. Just typing that brings tears to my eyes. No matter the timeline, we won't miss our baby, the one the Lord already has for us.

We hired our adoption consultant (sidenote, if you are even thinking about considering adoption, please consider going through a consultant. I literally don't know how people adopt without a Casey) in June, we sent our home study paperwork in in January, while other people who hired Casey in August are already bringing their babies home. We're on the slow track, and the Lord is teaching me to be okay with that. Especially since that is not very slow at all compared to the years it can take for an international adoption or even through other agencies in the US. Comparison though. It just robs you of things, and usually without you even catching it!

So our letter to ourselves is different.  Even though we didn't present to the birth moms we saw last week, seeing their stories shook me a little bit. This adoption thing isn't about us, it is not romantic or amazing of us. What it IS, is us being obedient to something the Lord put on both of our hearts a long time ago. No matter the heartbreak it brings, on either side of it.

Dear Self, this isn't going to go as planned, even the parts you thought you could control. Even still, your baby is out there and because of that, you should not be discouraged or think less of your journey and circumstances. This is it, the adoption you've always dreamed and prayed and hoped for. You're doing it. Be grateful that you can say yes so easily. Soon you'll have a newborn and these months will be a blur and so worth it. 
Some of the birth mom situations you will see will hurt your heart. Pray for them. Know that each baby you don't present to or don't get matched with is someone else's baby that they are hoping and praying and waiting for! Continue praying for their birth mamas. Also? Give yourself grace. Just because you're not physically pregnant doesn't mean you aren't just as emotional. This is your baby. Feel the feels. Go there. They deserve it. Honor your baby during this time so you can tell them about it in the future, how you waited and longed for them gracefully, diligent in prayer and working every day to better yourself and prepare your heart for what was coming.
Mostly, don't lose sight of why you're doing this. Not for you, but for life. For a life that is so very wanted and has a beautiful purpose.
Your baby will be in your arms soon. Go on a few dates before then :) Rest in the comfort of knowing your God knows exactly when and where your baby is. And buckle up, because you have no idea what's coming. Oh, and please remember to keep Jesus first. Don't run to friends before kneeling before Him. He is the author of this story and wants you to seek him first.

p.s. We are still waiting on the approved home study that would be to use for sure three Mondays ago. Patience. Once we have it, we can send everything into agencies and officially be a waiting family! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Our First Home Study Interview

Oh hey blog world. It's been awhile. Like, almost three years awhile. I needed a break from this space because it didn't feel like "me" anymore.

I've realized how much writing is an outlet for me and how it helps me sort through my thoughts. I need this for me. This blog became something I felt I was doing for other people or to "keep up", so I stopped. I'm in a much different place now, and I'm excited to start over. I toyed with starting a whole new blog or just revamping this one, and decided to stay here. This blog tells my story, and I don't want to lose that or forget it.

So here we are. This "adoption" thing we've always talked about doing is happening. Sometimes I stare at the wall and wonder how we got here. Wonder how our story will go. Mostly I think of our birth mom. Is she devastated to have to choose adoption? Is she relieved to choose adoption? It's weird not knowing. Not knowing her, not knowing her reason for choosing adoption, not knowing where she is, if she's even pregnant yet.

We had our first home study interview last night. I had worked myself up so far I was a complete ball of anxiety. I texted a friend who was grocery shopping and asked if I could come with just so I could get out of the house. Our nanny helped us get our house in tip top shape but I still was re arranging, dusting, sorting, rearranging more. It's not that I thought she would care what our house looked like, it's that I didn't know what else to do. It isn't a test you can study for. We are who we are, I'm not overly concerned with getting "failed" on our home study, but I was concerned about who would show up to our doorstep at 4pm. Her report is what will be sent with our profile to agencies across the country telling them who we are. I wanted someone who made us feel comfortable so we could be ourselves and really be able to share our hearts with her.

The Lord totally provided and she was just those things. Kind, gentle, compassionate, and very friendly. She asked us about our families, discipline, what we would hope for in a baby or birth mom and relationship with her, education, etc. A friend of mine wrote a post a year ago announcing their adoption and said she was so tired of talking about herself. I didn't get it then, I sure do now. I could be done talking about myself for a looooong time and be ok.

Maybe the hardest thing is I don't know how to put it into words. My heart longs for and yearns for a baby. My heart aches for a grieves for the birth mom/parents. It is a strange emotion to be excited for your family while simultaneously so sad for another. But, that is adoption. That is the sanctity of life. They love that child & believe in that life, that wanted life, so much that they place the baby with someone else to love and raise. I can't think of anything more brave.

Expect more rambling from me as we go through this. We have our 2nd home study interview on Monday, and then we get to choose which agencies we are applying to. Please be praying for discernment and direction with that decision. I want this all written because I want to remember it, I want to remember how I felt and what my prayers were. I also want to share this because I think adoption is beautiful and so needed, and it doesn't have to be scary. I want to share so that maybe you might decide it is right for your family. These babies are so worth it.

Our announcement photo: October 2016

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Weightloss Journey

Oh body image. Such an emotional topic. Let's cut to the chase and say that having a baby is the hardest thing my body has ever been through. I gained a LOT with my pregnancy, had a "surprise" c-section as the doctor called it, and didn't lose a single pound for the 6 months I was able to breastfeed.

I've been wearing baggy clothes and elastic waisted pants for TOO long. We took some pictures in October and November and I cringed at the sight of myself. My face is so round and my tummy is just icky. But I caught myself in the negative self talk and remembered something my dad always said growing up, "I don't want to hear you complaining if you're not doing anything to change the situation."

So, I decided to change the situation. I used to eat clean and felt so awesome doing it. I called my friend, Jenn, and ordered a 10-day cleanse to kick start clean eating. I lost a couple of pounds, but I wanted more. And I didn't want to work out. It's just not realistic for me except a walk every once in awhile.

I began taking 2 drops each of Young Living's lemon, peppermint, and grapefruit in a capsule every day. I wasn't very strict about it and usually forgot. I eat kind of clean at home, but we live at a camp & eat there a few times a week too. It's awesome that the cooks at camp usually provide whole, clean foods during meals so I TRY to choose those. I'll be honest though, all self control goes out the window when it comes to those darn gooey peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. And au gratin potatoes. I just cant help myself. I mean, I DO help myself, to a hefty serving of them ;)

Well.. even with my abundance of cheat meals, I was consistently losing weight. I went on like 1 walk every 2 weeks and was kind of eating healthy. I didn't think about it until my friend, who has been eating REALLY healthy and not cheating at all said "I think it's those essential oils, otherwise how are you losing this much weight when you always eat the cookies?! I've been watching you!"

So I decided to do a test while I was in Georgia. I knew we'd be eating lots of treats and Zach's mom's super yummy cooking so I decided to just eat what was there and make sure to take my oil pill every single day. That way, I'd know if I lost weight it would HAVE to be from the oils. I weighed myself when I got home and guess what? 3 pounds. Gone.

You guys. This is not a "diet pill". They are 100% pure essential oils that come straight from nature. Nothing added. Nothing taken away. The only side effects are relief from being outside when the season change, and no more bloating/gas.

Here is a picture from last fall, and a picture my friend took last week. I know it's not a HUGE difference, but it's about 15 lbs, 2 pant sizes, and a whole lot of confidence gained. I could actually button my pre-Bennett jeans. They're low waisted and not cute on me anymore, but I could get them past my hips and buttoned! It just feels good.

**Please don't ingest just any essential oil! Lots are adulterated with other substances. Even other oil companies who claim to be "pure" are proven not to be. Do your research, be informed, and only ingest Young Living oils.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advice for Traveling With a 9-12 Month Old

We've been blessed enough to have flown a lot in Bennett's little life! When he was a newborn, we took a trip to Seattle and then a trip to Georgia and both times I was SO nervous. I thought the world might actually end the night before our trip. Well.. here's a little secret. Traveling with a little baby is REALLY EASY! You put them in the Ergo, they sleep. You fly. They sleep. You feed them, they sleep. You don't need much with you, an extra burp rag or two and an extra outfit. And those nifty scented bags for the dirty diaper. But everyone helps you because your baby is so tiny and precious and they feel bad for you having to brave the airport alone.

Then we took a break from traveling (also known as summer when you work at a camp) and when it was time to fly again my baby was all grown up into a BIG baby! We flew when Bennett was 9 months, 10 months, and will have another trip tomorrow and he is 11 months! Flying is different when they're bigger so without further ado, I give you: Advice for flying with a big Baby!

1. Bring your husband if at all possible.
Just kidding. No but really, bring him. We've had Zach on three out of eight flights and oh, it's wonderful. It's so much easier to have a 2nd seat for the baby to spread out in, but also help with feeding and diaper changes! And carrying luggage..

2. Do not be afraid to ask for help!!!!!!
Going through security with a baby, stroller, diaper bag (that they have to sort through and swipe your bottles, etc), AND having to remove your shoes, is just NOT easy. Last time, I couldn't figure out how to get my Ergo back on and my shoes back on, and hold B (I didn't have a stroller that time) so I just looked at the TSA guy and said, "Can you hold him for me?". And he did! Made it a lot easier and probably brightened his day a little ;) Now, obviously don't do that if they're super busy or cranky looking. But there was no line and he was just standing there watching me. Also, I always look for someone who looks about my mom's age to sit next to in the terminal and airplane. Works like a charm. They totally want to hold your baby while you re-organize your bag or find your ticket and ID.

3. Wear your baby.
I tried pushing the baby and wearing the diaper bag, and the other way is just easier. If you are taking a stroller & carseat, put the diaper bag in the stroller and push it, and wear the baby. It's easier on your back and it is nice to have both of your hands free. I also feel safer having Bennett on me, like people are less likely to touch him. Please don't touch him, I don't know you or what kind of germies you're carrying around with you. I love our Ergo, and keep my ID, cell phone, and ticket in the zipper pocket on the front of it.

4. Pack light.
I typically check our luggage (thank you Southwest for free checked bags!) and just carry the diaper bag. When I was breastfeeding, it was especially easy. Now that we do bottles, I take 2-3 empty bottles, and a bottle of water to fill them. The little formula container that's pre-measured. An extra outfit for baby. A small thing of wipes, and enough diapers for a change every 2 hours (you just never know!). And a ziploc bag and a target bag. I bring Lysol wipes to wipe down the seat, tray table, etc. Chapstick and hand sanitizer for mama. A flannel receiving blanket to use as a burp cloth or blanket.

5. Sit in the window.
On one airline (Alaska or Delta, can't remember) you have to sit in the window seat because that's where the infant air masks are. Originally, I thought I would have chosen the aisle so I'd have more room. Well it turns out the window really is best. You have a wall to lean against instead of a person, which is great for napping. Also, if it's light out, your baby can look out the window! And if you breastfeed, you can totally cocoon into the window and no one even knows what you're doing. Win-win.

6. Rough schedule
Be easy going when you're traveling. Your baby's routine is going to be completely thrown off. I usually try to change Bennett's diaper RIGHT before boarding, so that if it's a 3 hour flight or less I won't have to change him in the airplane. Well.. unless he poops. Then I just pray it stays in the diaper until I can get outta the seat and into the itty bitty disgusting bathroom they expect you to be able to fit into with a wiggling child.  I feed him extra snacks in the morning to hopefully keep him full, and the bottles when he wants them. It hasn't worked out for him to eat as we take-off yet, but he takes a binky so he's fine. One really awesome thing about airplanes is that they're like giant white noise machines! Bennett typically takes REALLY good naps on the plane. I usually get everything settled, feed him, etc, and once we're up in the air I put him back into the ergo, give his binky, and rock back and forth or bounce in my seat until he settles down. Then we both sleep for a long, long time. It's the bomb.

7. Use the gate check option for your stroller/carseat.
The first time I flew, I gate checked my stroller and carseat. It was super easy and nice to have somewhere to put Bennett down in in the terminal. You just fold it up when you get down the tunnel, and then magically it's in that exact same place when you arrive at your destination. Cool, huh? Well the 2nd time I flew, I saw the lady in front of me checking hers at the ticket counter. So I asked the ticket agent and she said, "honestly, I don't recommend doing it this way. It just gets thrown around with the luggage and often times gets damaged." Then I thought about it, if you are supposed to replace carseats even in the tiniest of automobile accidents because of hairline fractures in the plastic, isn't this like way worse? So now we always gatecheck ours. Its safer, and it's nice to have through security. If you're flying alone and trying to get your stroller/carseat/shoes/diaper bag/carrier on the belt through security, please refer to point #2! :)

8. Dress you and baby in layers.
You never know if you're gonna be freezing or having hot flashes. Much easier if you can add or remove layers! Also, slip-on shoes make the security check much easier.

9. Take a deep breath!
You can do this! I have heard many stories of people being rude on planes, but I've never experienced it. People have generally been very helpful and kind! Take a deep breath, give yourself a mental peptalk, and enjoy your travels :) A happy mama = a happy baby!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Being in the Picture & a Photo Canvas

Have you guys seen the articles about moms being in the pictures more? I've been reading them since Bennett was born and I think it's really important! There are a few awesome one geared towards new moms, but this one is my favorite.

I did gain more weight than I'd have chosen during pregnancy, and since having Bennett I haven't prioritized getting back "in shape" (I say that loosely because I'm pretty sure I've never been in shape, haha!). All the mama blogs and articles have really helped me accept my post pregnancy, post c-section body. 

We had some newborn photos taken by my amazing friend Breanna, and this fall I REALLY wanted to get family photos done again! Bennett has changed so much this year and I love having family pictures up. We had our photos done just around the corner from the camp we work at :)

Signazon contacted me at the perfect time! They asked me to choose a product from their website, and I was originally going to choose some business tools for my essential oils team. Then I saw they had photo canvases! I've always wanted one :)

I love having the blown up family picture to look at! It was so easy to order and Signazon shipped it within 24 hours of placing my order. I am excited to print smaller pictures to put around it!

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