Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Blog Has Moved!

As is often the case with infertility blogs, this one doesn't fit anymore. We are no longer trying to conceive, so the "TTC" part of "The Sea of TTC" doesn't apply anymore. Instead, we are moving toward adoption.

I thought is was time to start a blog that can grow with me through any phase of life. Thus, I have moved the blog to www.davyjolene.com. Please join me there!



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Surprises Here

Sorry about the lack of updates. We have entered a busy season, and the blog has not been top priority. I am working full time for a while, and we are still trying to figure out puppy parenting in the other hours. In effort to keep you all updated, I may start just posting the thoughts that tumble around my head. That may or may not be any different than the rest of my posts, come to think about it.

Anyway, one thought I have recently been mulling over is that there are no surprises here. Nobody is going to come up to us and say, "Surprise! You have been approved to foster/adopt. We know you didn't apply, but you are approved anyway!" Yeah, that doesn't happen.

In order to adopt, we have to take steps. If we get caught up in a busy season, the process stands still. Unless we take action, nothing will happen. [Obviously, God could throw us a curveball, but it would not be adoption approval.]

We really want kids. We are very enthusiastic about adoption through the foster care system. At the same time, we are really tired and really busy and have an energetic puppy taking every last ounce of our time. So, nothing is happening on the family-building front. I think that's okay. I mean, when I calculate the distance to the big 3-0, my chest tightens a little. Thirty has been my deadline for a long time. I can't turn thirty without kids! Or maybe I can. We have approximately thirteen months to find out.

All of that to say, we have taken exactly zero steps toward foster/adoption approval. And I think that's okay. I will let you know when we do. Please continue to pray that God will place the children He has picked out into our family in the right way at the right time.

...and also, if we don't have kids in thirteen months, feel free to buy me ice cream, or black olives, or maybe a few sessions of counseling.




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Not Thwarted, But Surprised

Our plans took a drastic turn last week. While traveling to and from the information session at the agency we planned to use, we realized that neither of us want to move forward with domestic infant adoption. First, we miscommunicated. Next, I cried in Arby's. Then, we went to the session. And finally, we talked through things and found ourselves in agreement.

After four months of planning on one thing, why the change? For one thing, we couldn't get away from these questions:

Are we seeking a child to meet our needs? 
OR
Are we seeking to meet a child's needs?

We both feel that our motives were not entirely right in focusing on infant adoption. Domestic infant adoption is less risky than other kinds of adoption, the children come with fewer problems, and so on. It would be the easiest for us. 

Over the past several months, God seems to have been changing our hearts. We recognize that our empty home gives us a unique opportunity to take in higher-risk children. Many people do not want to take in a child with baggage for fear of risking the stability of the children already in their home. While not wanting to jump into the most complicated, risky situation, we do want to make ourselves available to meet a child's needs. 

At the information session, our feelings were confirmed. With 68 families on the waiting list and only 30-40 adoptions happening each year, the need just was not there. Not to mention the $28,000 price tag. If we added ourselves to the list, it would be for us, not for the child. For us, it felt selfish. If we couldn't get a baby one way, we would get one another way doggoneit. Please hear me: I do not think domestic infant adoption is selfish for everyone. On the contrary, I believe that it is a beautiful thing. Right now, it doesn't feel right for us.

So, what are our plans? We want to be prepared to say yes to the right situation. So, our first step is to get home study approved. Since foster care is now on the table, we will likely go through the foster care approval process and then go from there. Honestly, this is a whole new direction for us, so we are still gathering information. For those of you unfamiliar with the many types of adoption, here are a few possibilities:

  • Foster-to-adopt - Foster-parenting with the hope of adopting the child(ren). These children are not yet available for adoption, but may be soon.
  • Adoption through the foster care system - Adopting a child or children whose parental rights have already been terminated.
  • Private adoption - Adopting a child through personal connections.
  • Something totally different that we haven't thought of yet.
Originally, foster care was not an option. After wanting children for so long, we thought it would be too hard for them to come and go. It will still be hard, but we do not feel called to easy. 

I am surprised about several things:

  • Peace - We are both Type-A, ducks-in-a-row people. Domestic infant adoption through an agency seems to be the most straightforward type of adoption. When we opened the door to every other type of adoption, I would have expected us to panic. Rather, we feel a strange peace about the possibilities. 
  • Agreement - In the past, we have not been on the same page with adoption. I could have been talked into nearly any kind of adoption; whatever it takes to get kids in our home PRONTO. [Not good. Don't try that.] C has been much more cautious. Right now, we are in agreement. 
  • Excitement - Peace is one thing; excitement is an pleasant surprise. We know our family will grow in the way the Lord has planned and are fastening our seat belts for the ride. 

Please join us in prayer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Waiting for My Plans to Be Thwarted

God is good. His plan is perfect, far better than anything I could come up with. I can trust Him.

God is good. His plan is perfect, far better than anything I could come up with. I can trust Him.

This is my mantra lately.

I have found myself holding my breath in preparation for my plans to be thwarted. Then, I find myself frustrated with God for thwarting my plans in ways that haven't even happened yet.

Ridiculous? Yes. Reality? Also yes.

You see, we are about to officially begin the adoption process. Our first agency meeting is on Thursday, and I find myself hesitant. I am so excited about adoption and want to get there already. However, other feelings have surprised me. After transitioning from TTC to adoption, I am totally on board with adoption and not at all on board with getting pregnant. After wanting something for so long, I am shocked to find myself hoping it doesn't happen. And yet, here I am.

Many months ago, I came across an infertility blogger who immediately got back on the pill after deciding to stop treatments. At the time, I thought she was crazy. Why would you want to remove the chance of getting what you want at a time you didn't plan? Now, I get it. I think it's about control for me. I want things to go my way.

We wanted to conceive, but thus far God has thwarted that plan. Nearly four years later, we have become excited to adopt, and God better not mess it up this time. Woah! My surprising feelings are revealing a lack of faith and trust in God.

God is good. His plan is perfect, far better than anything I could come up with. I can trust Him.

My husband and I worked through my feelings over dinner last night. Mostly, I threw "what ifs" at him, and he calmly responded.

Me: "What if we start the adoption process and then find ourselves pregnant?!"
Him: "Then, we would get excited about our miracle baby."

Me: "What if people had donated money to help us pay for adoption?!"
Him: "Then, we would put the money in a fund for a future adoption. Having a biological child would not remove our desire to adopt."

Me: "But, but, but..."

And so, with much trepidation on my part, we begin the process. Please pray for us. After struggling through an abundance of disappointments and delays, we would love for something to go well and fall into place. If nothing else, we would like to walk away from the meeting on Thursday confident that we do or do not want to work with that agency.

If our family grows through adoption, God is already bringing circumstances together that will lead to a child being displaced from his or her biological family. Adoption begins with this tragedy. It is messy and sad and beautiful and happy and a picture of the gospel. Our adoption will be these things. Please join us in prayer.

God is good. His plan is perfect, far better than anything we could come up with. We can trust Him.

God is good. His plan is perfect. We can trust Him.



This post is linked up with Amateur Nester's Infertility Link Up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Introducing Our Furry Family Member

Meet our newest and furriest family member: Louie. 


His full name is Luongo, after my husband's favorite hockey player: Roberto Luongo. 


He's a schnoodle, which is a cross between a schnauzer and a poodle. 


He has a sad and thoughtful face.


He likes to have a buddy.


He sleeps a lot.


Even a hard metal table at the vet can't distract him from his nap.


He is a lot of work, but he's a keeper.

And then there's this:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits (or Where Have I Been?)

Blogging has been a major part of my routine for quite some time now. As you may have noticed, I haven't posted anything new for a while. Why? I have about 2,892 posts floating around in my head, but let me give you a few tidbits about life lately:
  • June
    • Bought our first house
    • Attended a conference in Florida
  • July
    • Painted every interior wall of the house
    • Painted the brown, wooden trim white throughout the house (2 coats of primer + 2 coats of paint = approximately 45,000 hours of painting)
    • Moved out of an apartment and into the house
  • August
    • Worked on house projects
    • Learned that the adoption agency we wanted to work with has stopped accepting applications for now (which is good for the families on the waiting list, but bad for us)
    • Met our puppy
  • September
    • Enjoyed having my parents visit for a week
      • Took day trips to several locations
      • Searched thrift stores and antique shops with my mom
      • Decorated many of the bare walls in our house 
    • Brought home our puppy
      • Instantly became sleep deprived
      • Found flea on puppy (EEEWWW!!)
      • Panicked!
      • Flea-bombed, laundered, and scrubbed everything in sight
      • Took puppy outside as often as possible in hopes of keeping floor clean and dry
      • Cleaned floor over and over and over again...
      • Taught now-flealess puppy to sit and to fetch
      • Snuggled with the cutest puppy known to man
    • Learned that the informational meeting at our back-up adoption agency has been postponed another week
Whew! Is that enough to justify a blogging sabbatical? 

Like I said, I have a lot of posts floating around in my head. They will be coming at you soon, but for now, just look at this adorable little life-disrupter.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Asked The Lord

Sometimes, church hits you in the face in a good way. This Sunday was one of those days for me. I was introduced to a hymn that could have been written by me [you know, if I was the poet/hymn writer type]. Fellow sufferers may relate. The hymn is "I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow," by John Newton. Here are the words:
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face. 
’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair. 
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest. 
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part. 
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low. 
Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith. 
These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.” 
In his sermon, the pastor talked about being angry with God. I have felt hurt and frustrated by God, but had never realized that I might be a little angry at Him, too. After all, I know He is good, I know His plan is better than mine, so why would I be angry?

One part of the song hit the nail on the head:
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds,* and laid me low.
There's the reason for my anger. I had a plan. God ruined it. He ripped it up, stomped on it, and carried out His instead. How rude!

As a planner, I like to know where to go, what to bring, and exactly what is going to happen. My plan was as follows:

  • Get married: check
  • Set an example to other couples of the right way to do birth control (FAM) by naturally preventing pregnancy during law school: check
  • Get pregnant as soon as law school ended, which would be easy after three years of charting: negatory
  • Have four biological children, then adopt three: about that...
It was a good plan, or so I thought. Now, I see some pride and control issues. Either way, God messed with my plan, and I think it really has made me angry. But, I don't want to stay there. May the mission be accomplished in my soul:
These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.
Through infertility and extended childlessness, may the Lord free me from pride and selfishness until I find my all in Him. It's scary to pray that, but I want it to be true. Will you join me?

*"Blasted my gourds" likely refers to Jonah 4:7, in which God sends a worm to chew the plant Jonah had trusted for shelter.


- This version of the song can be downloaded here:  I Asked The Lord [Emily Deloach]

AmateurNester
This post is linked with Amateur Nester's Infertility Link Up, Titus 2sdays, and Monday Musings.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Inside the Tears

Infertility has messed me up in ways I don't even understand. Here's a glimpse into a struggle with myself:

Davy, why are you crying?
Because the tears are below the surface much of the time and sometimes they just spill over.

Don't you know that God is good?
Yes, He is. But I don't know what to do with that truth when it hurts. 

Are you believing that Jesus + Nothing = Everything, or have you decided that Jesus + Children = Everything?
If I had to choose between Christ and children, I would choose Christ. However, I feel confident that He has children for us. 

Seriously, why are you still crying?
I don't even know anymore. Maybe because people around me are having kids. People who didn't even know each other when we got married have kids now. People who got married after we started trying to conceive have two-year-olds and new babies. 

Would you want different for them?
No. I would not want anyone to go through pain like ours. Somehow, it still hurts.

It sounds like you are dealing with sins such as envy and selfishness.
Am I? I'm having a hard time distinguishing between godly sorrow and sin.

You should just trust in God's promises.
Okay, like this one from Psalm 128?
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;your children will be like olive shoots around your table.Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
That one sure comes up a lot, but it doesn't seem to apply to us. Instead, it feels like salt in an open wound. Are we not part of "everyone"? Do we not fear the Lord enough?

Don't get caught up on that. The Bible includes several stories about barren women, and their barrenness is not due to lack of faith. Rather, it is for God's unique purposes.
Right. [Deep breaths]. 

I don't want to guess God's purposes, but have definitely thought about our future child(ren). We would probably not commit so much time and money into the infant adoption process if we had been able to conceive.
Sure, but we are just wasting time. The years are slipping by. 

The time is not wasted. If God has a specific child out there for us (and we believe He does), He needs to work every detail out accordingly. That child has a specific birthday, and every step of your process, from infertility to home study to approval to waiting, is pointing toward that day. You cannot go too fast or too slow. God has everything under control and is working out His perfect plan.
I know. I do trust Him, and I really look forward to seeing the plan unfold. But our arms are so empty. Our house is SO quiet. We feel so alone. 

You aren't.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.




This post is linked up with Titus 2sDay and the Infertility Link-Up

Thursday, July 31, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Home and Away

{pretty}

An abandoned house we came across in our travels.
The past several weeks have been intense. Not only are we sleep-deprived and sore from too much painting, but that pesky sliver also keeps getting bumped. Recognizing that we needed a break, my in-laws blessed us with a one-night hotel stay in Richmond last weekend.

We had a great trip. After devouring gyros and tzatziki sauce (YUM!) at a lovely little Greek restaurant, we made ourselves return to the hotel to relax. Relaxing is difficult in a place like Richmond; there are so many things we want to see.

On our way home, we took back roads on purpose. Thanks to GPS, we got to enjoy the middle of nowhere while still knowing where we were going.


{happy}

 Now that we live in a house, our lack of furniture has become apparent. We really want quality furniture, but are not willing to pay a lot for it. Don't we all? The couch and a small chair in our living room looked pretty lonely until this weekend. On our way through the countryside, we came to a flea market that was packed with furniture. 

We found a comfy chair for only $50, but weren't sure if the light blue would match the darker blue of our couch. Fortunately, I had brought a couch pillow along in case we happened to need it. Placing the pillow by the chair, we were amazed. Not only was the color perfect, but the fabric was also identical. We couldn't have found a better match! Our excitement took away any chance of bargaining, but the price was still great. We also found matching end tables and a coffee table. So now, our living room is ready for company.



{funny}

I normally feel current or maybe even ahead of the curve. After all, I'm a blogger. I have Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram (granted, I was WAY behind with two of the three). I make picture collages and have taught myself some html. Then, I come across something like this: "SMH." Based on the placement and usage, I determine that it could be like "LOL." Since LOL became popular, the abbreviations have just kept coming:

YOLO = You Only Live Once
LMHO = Laughing My Head Off (apparently LOL couldn't quite get the point across)
IDK = I Don't Know
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
TBH = To Be Honest (because without that intro, people should assume whatever you say is a lie?)

Completely stumped, I had to look up "SMH" this morning:
SMH = Shaking My Head

What happened to using whole words anyway? IDK. SMH.

{real}

Sometimes, paint colors are not what you expect. My plan was to paint the basement paneling a light tan/beige. The paint swatch told me that's exactly what it was. But, oh, it wasn't. It was yellow. Our basement looks a little more like a farm kitchen than we expected, but at least it is bright and cheery. I might be painting these walls again sooner than expected.



This post is linked up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Small Sips After A Fire Hose

If you have ever attended a conference, you know that it is impossible to soak up all of the information. It's like drinking out of a fire hose. The women's conference I attended was no different. In two days, my sister and I attended thirteen sessions. My notes don't do the wonderful sessions justice, so I am excited to listen again now that the sessions are available online. If you are intrigued by the little snippets in the video below, you may want to check out the sessions here.

Want some specific recommendations? Here are my favorites:
  • Why This Issue Now? - I laughed so hard at the interactions between Tim and Kathy Keller. The rest of the panel and the content was fabulous, too.
  • Laboring for a God Who Fights for Us - "God is completely in charge AND what you do matters." - Tim Keller 
  • Fearing God in a Fallen World - I had never heard of Paige Brown, but she turned out to be my favorite speaker. "Self-promotion means we are using people instead of loving them."
  • Responding to God According to His Word - This session blew me away. The hope of the Gospel was explained in a powerful way. If you can only listen to one session, pick this one.
I was so blessed by this conference and hopefully forever changed. If you check it out, please let me know what you think in the comments.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What We Thought We Wanted

We have been working crazy hours on the house. While swishing a paintbrush, a little thought keeps popping into my head: "This process would be so much harder if we had kids." Every time, I quickly add, "Of course, I would much rather have kids."

Working on the house has reminded me of the things that we wanted to do before having kids. Couples often come up with a before-children to-do list that looks something like this:


Thursday, July 17, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Fresh Paint, Magic Sinks, Favorite Food, & Critters

And now it's time for {pretty, happy, funny, real} the part of the blog where Davy shares...something pretty, happy, funny, and real. 

[Catch the Veggie Tales reference, anyone? "And now it's time for Silly Songs with Larry, the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings...a silly song." If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you should probably watch this video. Or don't. Either way, it has nothing to do with the rest of this post. Just know, they are great videos for kids.]



{pretty}

We moved in to our new house on Saturday. Homeownership has already provided a few challenges, but we are very happy with our new house. The new paint colors make the house feel like our home.


{happy}

When we looked at the house, I thought that the single sink was a downside to the kitchen. Not a deal-breaker, obviously, but something that I could live with. We have lived here for less than a week, and I already am a huge fan of the sink. The depth makes dirty dishes disappear.


Amazing, right?

{funny}

My husband is a gift giver. Early in our relationship, he started surprising me with flowers at random times. Eventually, he learned that I prefer one flower over a bouquet. Then, he realized that chocolate makes me happy, too, so he would randomly bring a flower and some chocolate home. Not long ago, I mentioned that chocolate is good, but I would honestly consider it very romantic if he surprised me with my favorite food sometime. My favorite food is pretty unnecessary in daily life, and I have a hard time splurging on it.

Yesterday, he brought home one rose and my favorite food. What is it?


Black olives.
I felt loved and very special.
He laughed at me, because I even snuck a few before dinner.

{real}

We have seen more "critters" in the last few days in our house than we did during the whole year in our third-floor apartment. I guess that is logical.


The little bunny on the bottom right can stay. We named him Munch. The ants and Mr. Groundhog can go away. And so can the bat that was leaving droppings in our car port. An exterminator was here yesterday, so the spiders, earwigs, and other creepy crawlies should be gone soon.

And just like that, our home-ownership journey begins.

What is pretty, happy, funny, or real in your life?


This post is linked up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Infertility Is Like A Sliver

[I wrote this post last week, but haven't had internet until today. Better late than never, right? Moving is a pretty good excuse, I think.]

I have a sliver in my finger from the trim in our new house. It doesn't want to come out. At first, my finger was sore and inflamed. The sliver made it hard to continue life as usual. The sliver would catch on everything and send shooting pain up my sensitive pinky. Trying to remove the sliver just made it worse. Eventually, the swelling went down and the soreness went away. But, the sliver still catches on things sometimes. Just when I forget, my finger gets bumped.

Infertility is the same way. In some seasons, infertility has sent shooting pain into every part of my life. In others, I forget the infertility sliver is there until it gets bumped. In all seasons, I want it gone.

Due to our shift toward adoption, our big trip, and our new house, infertility has been a much smaller part of my life lately (Praise the Lord!). Distraction has been so good. I was reminded last weekend that infertility is not gone. My infertility sliver was bumped.

It was a perfect storm. I was exhausted from working so hard on the house. My hormones were at that cry-at-anything level. And I hadn't thought about infertility in a while. Then, we went to church. At one point in the service, my thoughts became self focused and I started thinking about how long we have been trying to start a family: 3.5 years. If you haven't done this mental exercise yet, just don't go there. Nothing good can come of it. Anyway, I started calculating. In the last three years, that couple has had two kids. This other couple has gotten married, had one kid, and is expecting another. You see? Bad idea. As the numbers and covetousness rolled through my head, my husband turned and asked if I was okay. I said yes, then started to wonder if he was okay. Our family-oriented church has been a tough place for both of us to be at times. Nothing makes me cry faster than seeing my husband hurting like that. I didn't cry though, not yet.

Then, we sang "The Song." The song that hurts our hearts every time. The one that makes us wonder what we did to deserve infertility, then makes us remind ourselves that God is not vengeful like that. That God is good. The song that bumps my infertility sliver so hard every time. The song we used to love, called "Blessed the Man that Fears Jehovah." It is based on Psalm 128:

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel!

I lost it. In the middle of church. I thought about leaving, but my face does not handle crying discreetly. The instantly bright red nose and eyes would be a dead give away. So, I stayed in the pew with tears streaming down my face and my husbands arm around me. Stupid infertility. 

And thus, I was reminded that the infertility sliver has not gone anywhere. It is still there and will continue to be bumped. Eventually, God will remove the infertility sliver, hopefully by blessing us with adopted or biological children. Until that day, I need to be prepared. I need to remind myself that God is good and that infertility has brought blessings, not just sorrow. I need to avoid the trap of comparison and envy. I must choose joy in spite of the sliver.



P.S. By the way, the actual sliver in my finger is tiny. It does not want to be removed, but will work it's way out eventually.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Paint, Paint, and More Paint, Oh My

If you haven't noticed, I have been MIA in the blog world. Blame our new house. This post must be quick, because we only have fifty hours before move-in. Yikes! 

{pretty}

Of all the paint colors we chose, this one made me the most nervous. And now, it's my favorite. This room will eventually be a baby room (we hope), but we are calling it an office for now. Either way, we just love the color.


{happy}

Progress is making me happy this week. Our guest room is officially finished. You may wonder why we covered the gray. Apparently, the previous owner locked at least one cat in this room often. It smelled that way. So, we had to paint. We are really happy with the green. The pictures don't do it justice.


{funny}

Since our recent trip, my husband has been talking about how he wants to live in Florida. He clerked with a judge down there in law school and wants to go back. As the paint goes onto our walls, we are noticing that the colors are quite bright. I am telling him that the inside of our house feels like Florida, so we don't actually need to move there.

{real}


Painting trim takes FOREVER. And ever. And ever. We are trying to turn our wooden trim white. Apparently, that process requires two coats of primer and two coats of paint. And ever. And ever. 

What is pretty, happy, funny, or real in your life?


This post is linked up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Charleston and Our New House

Today, I am linking up with the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter again for {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

{pretty}

If you have never visited Charleston, South Carolina, I encourage you to go. We only had a few hours to spend there, but loved every minute. This lovely little space was between two old homes on a historic street.

{happy}

Don't these flowers look happy to you? We found this colorful flower box outside an attorney's office on our walk through Charleston.

{funny}


"Funny" may not be the right word, but I choose to laugh. We found this pile and MUCH more under the fridge in our new house. The cat smell needed to go, but we had no idea the source was so...abundant. I can see how cat hair and even cat food could gather under the fridge, but mail? You know those styrofoam trays that raw chicken comes in? We found one of those under the stove. Bleh! The kitchen is clean now and smells so much better. Progress feels good.

{real}

We bought thirteen gallons of paint and primer the other day. After carrying my paint swatches around for weeks, I changed the color scheme at the last minute. Rookie mistake? Maybe. The colors here are a little brighter than reality, but you get the idea. We have our work cut out for us. 

What is pretty, happy, funny, or real in your life?


This post has also been linked up on Lovely Thursdays and the Little Friday Linkup.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

You Are Not Alone

I spent the weekend with 4,000 women. The conference was wonderful, but I will share more about that later. Today, I just want to remind you that you are not alone, whatever your struggle. The interactions I had with a variety of women reminded me of that fact. One woman recently experienced a miscarriage, one mother dealt with infertility for several years before having biological children, and her sister was adopted and has adopted through foster care. Another women is dealing with secondary infertility, yet another has walked through endometriosis and cervical cancer and is beginning the adoption process. And those were just the women I talked to! In a crowd of 4,000, there must have been many, many more.


Recognizing the similar struggles of these women also reminded me of the other struggles represented. The mother of a child with disabilities was not alone. The caretaker of aging parents was not alone. The widow was not alone. Every woman there had a struggle, and she was not alone. 

Let's live that way. Let's recognize the struggles of those around us. Let's be willing to be vulnerable with our own struggles. Let's encourage one another. We are not alone.


*This post was linked up with the Infertility Link Up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Florida, Here I Come!

We closed on our house this morning (Woohoo!), and now I am off to Florida for TGCW'14 (The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference). As a result, posting may be a little sporadic here for the next several days. My only gadget will be a smartphone, and I'm not sure it will be good for blogging. Plus, I am hoping to soak up quality time with my sister while gleaning wisdom from the speakers.

I expect the whole conference to be great and hope to share a few tidbits here on the blog. The session I am most excited about is with Noël and Talitha Piper. They will be talking about adoption from both the adoptive mom and adoptive daughter perspective.

If you want to follow my trip, please make sure you are following me on Instagram and Twitter. My phone is much better at social media than blogging.

Have a great week and weekend!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Six Years: Newlyweds No Longer


Saturday is our sixth anniversary. What years they have been! Those two young'uns who got married had no idea of the joys and sorrows ahead of them. But, that's a post for another day. Today, I want to look back at our wedding: June 28, 2008.

As recent college graduates with law school looming, we had to have a low-budget wedding. We cut costs wherever possible. Our wedding and reception were at my parents' church in the middle of the afternoon. We did photos before the ceremony, so the guests wouldn't have to wait. Also, so we could get away with just dessert (sorry, guests). Between friends and the church, most of the decor was provided. The rest came from Hobby Lobby and the $1 Store.

Our wedding was not the event of the summer for most people, but it was lovely. And successful. We got married with the people we love surrounding us.

Here are a few of our favorite photos from that day:



*All photo credit goes to Amy Majors Photography.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Liebster Award


I was nominated for a Liebster Award by a fellow infertility blogger at The Quest for a Tiny Human. The nomination comes with rules. As a result, this post is going to be different than my others.

The Rules
  1. Post 11 random facts about myself.
  2. Answer 11 questions the awarding blogger has asked.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs with less than 200 followers, add their links to this post and let them know they have been nominated.
  4. Create 11 questions the nominated bloggers have to answer.
  5. Post The Rules!
11 Random Facts About Myself
  1. I am an editing nerd. My dream job would be finding typos and comma errors in text. That does not mean my writing is perfect.
  2. My love of editing led me to major in English, but I only lasted one semester. I did not enjoy writing a paper for every class session. The final straw came in Intro to Poetry. We were told to write a free verse poem. Free verse apparently had no rules, and yet I somehow did it wrong. The professor could not tell me exactly how my poem was wrong, but the grade said it was. In the end, I graduated with a Communication - Public Relations degree and an English minor.
  3. I am horrible at making decisions.
  4. I have a hate/hate relationship with mice. They seem to be everywhere I want to be. I blame my irrational paralyzing fear on overexposure as a child. We lived in an old farm house on a farm. Mice just came with the territory. They taunt me. When normal mice would run away, a mouse in my apartment ran straight toward me, a screaming human. Four mice tried to join us on our honeymoon, so we left. Thankfully, we have been mouse-free for several years. I am REALLY hoping they stay away from our new house.
  5. I am the middle of three sisters.
  6. Don't tell anyone, but I was homeschooled through tenth grade. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but I think it's a great option.
  7. I am a serious people-person, an extrovert. I would love to be with people at all times, but am perfectly happy to just hang out at home with my husband. If he's not there, I would rather be out and about.
  8. I am 15/16ths German and 1/16th Swedish (I think). Some of my ancestors were Mennonite, and at least one was Hutterite.
  9. Growing up, I was the odd one in family pictures. My parents and sisters have dark hair and dark eyes. I have blonde hair and blue eyes. I was also the only one with glasses. My family is great.
  10. I am a big fan of my husband (see this post).
  11. Last but most importantly, I would not have made it through this infertility journey without the Lord. I believe that suffering such as infertility is not an accident. God is not frantically scrambling around trying to make good out of bad. Instead, He carefully ordains suffering for our good and His glory. Without suffering, we would not learn to rely on Him. If things were hunky-dory all the time, I think we would be totally selfish, totally independent people. Suffering stinks, but it serves a purpose.
Questions and Answers
  1. What is your favorite movie?
    • I can't pick just one. Pride and Prejudice, You've Got Mail, and The Blindside are three that come to mind.
  2. What is your best memory?
    • My husband's law school graduation. Our first three years of marriage were his law school years. Graduation marked the end of an intense era. Surrounded by family and friends, I got quite emotional as he marched into the room in that funny legal graduation garb. It was a good day.
  3. What is your greatest accomplishment?
    • I am not sure. Maybe moving seven times in six years of marriage and not losing my sanity?
  4. Who do you admire?
    • My parents and my husband's parents. They set great examples for their kids.
  5. What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
    • Wow. That's a tough question. I think of a pattern of events more than one particular incident. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed and frantically think myself in circles. In infertility, that happened several times as a result of too much online "research." My husband kindly gets my attention, calms me down, and points me in the right direction. 
    • When we were dating, we floated the Yellowstone River in Montana with family and friends. None of us had checked the weather, and we ended up in a lightning storm. The temperature dropped dramatically, and hypothermia was becoming a concern. After waiting the storm out on the river bank, we jumped back in (the only way to get to our cars). Unfortunately, the river was low, so the remaining trip was miserable. I could either stay on top of the tube and freeze or hold on and be dragged on the rocky river bottom. In desperation and in tears, I chose option three and took off walking on sharp, slippery rocks in a strong current up to my knees. I may have been losing my mind a little. As I slipped, my then-boyfriend/now-husband told me to get on the tube. So I did. And I survived. His direction was a kindness.
  6. What is the first thing you notice about someone when you first meet them?
    • Their genuineness or lack thereof, at least my take on it.
  7. Would you rather watch sports or play sports?
    • My husband will probably laugh when he reads this, but I would rather play sports. I have a VERY short attention span when it comes to watching sports (except during the Olympics). I'm not actually good at any sports, so I don't really play.
  8. If money was no object, what would you do all day?
    • Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, spend time with people, and give a lot of gifts.
  9. What is your greatest strength?
    • My husband says loyalty and organization.
  10. Do you prefer summer or winter?
    • Summer. A thousand times over. I love my family in the North, but hope to stay down here where it's warm. Winter is not my thing.
  11. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
    • This answer is totally cliche, but true. I would want to meet Jesus. I think he was dramatically different than portrayed today. The Jesus I see in the New Testament wasn't gentle, timid, or tolerant. He called people on their sins and demanded righteousness. He challenged the status quo. If I could meet him on Earth today, I would probably cringe at his lack of political correctness. But I would love to meet him.
My Nominees

I am breaking the rules here and only nominating a few. If you want to be added to the list, please comment below. I have no idea how to tell how many followers you have total, so please don't be offended if you have more than 200. :) 
Questions for the Nominees
  1. Why do you blog?
  2. What is your favorite book?
  3. If you could live in any other country, which one would you choose?
  4. Do you know any foreign languages? If so, which one(s)?
  5. How many states have you visited?
  6. What was the best class you ever took?
  7. What is your favorite gadget and why?
  8. Who is your biggest hero?
  9. What was your favorite vacation?
  10. Do you prefer shopping in person or online? Why?
  11. What is your favorite family tradition?
If you are still reading, I am very impressed. This post might be my longest ever. Did I miss anything? If have any questions or post ideas, please comment below. Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Best Friend

Sorry, Ladies. I took the best husband. At least, the best husband for me. Here are a few of the reasons:
  1. He loves the Lord. No matter how difficult our journey has gotten, he has kept fighting to seek and honor Christ in it.
  2. He loves me. Even when I'm grumpy or a demanding control freak. 
  3. He is a gentle comforter. This last year has involved more "ugly cry" moments than any year before. He has been there to hold me every time, even when he is hurting, too.
  4. He is wise. When I take on too much, he tells me. When I reason myself in circles, he points me straight again. 
  5. He is brilliant. Seriously, start talking law, theology, or sports with him. And good luck to you. His head is crammed full of information; however, unlike many brilliant people, he is still able to hold a normal conversation.
  6. He is truly my partner. Whatever we do, we prefer to do together. We are cooking partners, cleaning partners, reading partners, lazing partners, walking partners. If criminal activity was our thing [FYI, it's not], we would be partners in crime, I'm sure.
  7. He is my protector. I am a very big wimp. If something rustles in the bushes as we walk past, he is ready as I hide behind him. Armed man, mouse, or spider, he would take anything on to protect me.
  8. He manages our finances meticulously. If I buy two items at the dollar store without telling him, I can expect a phone call. Not because I need permission, but just to make sure it was me. He knows where every dollar fits in our budget. Any flexibility in our finances is due to his careful management. I am thankful.
  9. He is ticklish. There is something wonderful about being able to reduce a big, very strong man to convulsions. Someone once said it's God's gift to small wives, or something like that. 
  10. He is good looking. And big. And VERY strong. And tall. :) Some guys have a 5 o'clock shadow. I'm pretty sure he has a 10 a.m. shadow. He could grow a beard with the best of them, but he doesn't because his wife is not a fan of facial hair. 
Happy Birthday, Best Friend. You are my favorite.  I love you!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Today, I am linking up with the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter again for {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

{pretty}

One of the best parts of our apartment location is the walking path. From a crowded neighborhood, it drops into this beautiful nature area. We cannot get over the lush green trees and plants. Isn't it lovely?

{happy}
Tomorrow is the birthday of my favorite person in the world. This guy:
I will be writing much more about him tomorrow, but you can just know now that he is great.


{funny}


On Tuesday, I tried to put myself on a schedule. Are you laughing yet? I am, in a "wow, that was a failure" sort of way. By the second item, I was off track. As a perfectionist, partial failure feels like complete failure. Once failure is felt, I tend to stop trying. Hence, I stopped really trying to follow the schedule by about 8:30 a.m. Funny, right? Not really.

{real}
I chopped my hair off again. Sometimes, it's just got to go.

What is pretty, happy, funny, or real in your life?


This post has also been linked up on the Little Friday Linkup.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From Isolation To Community

Lisa at Amateur Nester recently did a poll about openness during infertility. Some people are very open, but on an anonymous blog. Others tell just the people closest to them. As you can see from my blog, I am very open. I am the same way in person.

Obviously, different levels of openness are appropriate for different people. I just wanted to share today about the community that came from sharing my story.

Isolation is one of the most painful feelings involved in infertility. Sharing my story allowed me to connect with others who have gone through similar isolation. These connections took away the feeling of isolation. And good riddance!

When I first went public with the blog, I had at least seven ladies contact me within a few days. They included people I knew in college, friends of friends, and former coworkers. No matter our relationship before, we instantly had a camaraderie. And each of us suddenly felt less isolated.

I have gotten hugs from infertility sisters at church, chatted with them randomly in airports, and had countless conversations with people who get it. Yesterday, I was blessed by meeting someone in my area who has walked through infertility and is now in the adoption process.

Navigating infertility and adoption is so complicated and overwhelming. I cannot even describe the relief from learning that I am not alone. Others have walked this journey before (and ended up with children). Many are walking it now. Sharing my story has connected us. What a blessing!

How has sharing your story (infertility or otherwise) encouraged you?


This post was linked up with Amateur Nester Infertility LinkupWholeHearted Wednesday, Share With Me, Lovely ThursdaysEssential Fridays, and Saturday Sharefest.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5+ Thoughts on Infertility and Adoption

We are in a strange place between infertility and adoption. Infertility has not left us, but we are not doing anything about it right now. Adoption has been decided upon, but we are not doing anything about it right now. In this in-between phase, several thoughts have been tumbling around in my head.

[I recently read a caution for bloggers to avoid publishing incomplete thoughts. I am warning you in advance: these thoughts are half-baked.]
  • I think that God is wise to point us toward "paper pregnancy" rather than normal pregnancy. I am a nerd and actually enjoy paperwork. On the other hand, I do not enjoy medical procedures of any kind. Physical pain is not a particular favorite, either. So, paper pregnancy just might be the way to go. 
  • The costs involved in adoption are staggering. A home study will be one of our first major expenses, costing around $4,000. I understand that labor and delivery costs just slightly more than that, but that's beside the point. The home study is only the beginning.
  • We eagerly anticipate the day our child is placed in our arms. However, on or near that day, the placement fee will be due. Depending on the circumstances, the placement fee could be around $18,000. That is a lot of money. So, on one hand, we want the adoption process to go as quickly as possible. On the other hand, we need time to save and raise money. A lot of money. 
  • I have been told to expect the final total to be around $30,000. Thirty thousand dollars. When I hear a number like that, I start to think, "Maybe we could have tried just a few more infertility treatments." Then I remember what infertility land was like. I hated it. I hated the procedures, the paralyzing thoughts, the illusions of control and lack thereof, the waiting. No part of me wants to go back to that.
  • In some ways, the costs of infertility treatment and adoption may be comparable. For example, one round of IVF might cost $25,000, slightly less than adoption (I realize that treatments and various types of adoption have drastically different costs, so this is just an example). In another way, the costs are very different. With adoption, the majority of the expense is paid only when a child is placed in our arms. With infertility treatment, the costs may be small or they may stack up to $90,000 or more. We would have to pay for the treatment regardless of the outcome. So, we could have paid many thousands of dollars and still not end up with a child. To me, it felt like trying to fill a bucket that may or may not have a bottom. 
I know it's cliche, but I wouldn't wish infertility on anyone. My heart is heavy for the people I know still struggling through infertility treatments. This post is not meant to pressure anyone to stop treatments and pursue adoption. I think that adoption should not be pursued unless your heart is in it. If your heart is still in treatments, it's not time to adopt. My heart was not in treatments anymore. God seems to have pointed our hearts toward adoption at this time, but the agony of infertility does not quickly disappear. I believe that God used pain and struggle to change us. Eventually, we realized that adoption didn't feel like a back-up plan, but was instead an exciting option. I do not understand the methods, but I trust His plan.

This post is linked up with Amateur Nester's Infertility Linkup.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Today, I am linking up with the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter again for {pretty, happy, funny, real}. After being involved for just one week, I find myself looking for beauty, humor, and joy. If you could use a pick-me-up, try it.

{pretty}
Yesterday was a strange weather day. Stepping out of my office into the hot and muggy sunshine, I was surprised to hear thunder. A glance to the skies behind me revealed the stormy source. The line between clear, blue skies and dark storm clouds was stark. My fifteen-minute commute home started and ended in sunshine and blue skies. In between, buckets of water poured from the sky, limiting visibility and flooding the streets. Lightning flashed and thunder rattled my car. Then, it was sunny again. And beautiful. Storms like this remind me of the power, beauty, and mercy of God.

{happy}

The heat of summer makes me crave something cold and refreshing. Ice cream is usually on the top of the list, but fruit works, too. Last night, we did a late-night grocery run and stocked up on fruit and a few vegetables. My taste buds danced with anticipation.

{funny}
Check out this sign. Not the one in front; the one off to the side. It says, "LIVE MERMAID FOR PARTY." Pardon my ignorance, but what on earth does that mean? Who calls the number on a sign like that? I have driven by this sign for weeks and am still befuddled. A mermaid? For party? A bachelor party? Gross. A kid's birthday party? Creepy. I have so many questions.

{real}
We close on our house in twelve days. Bare shelves are becoming a common look for our apartment. Homeownership, here we come! [Yes, "homeownership" is a word; I looked it up.]

What is pretty, happy, funny, or real in your life?

This post was also linked with Essential Fridays Linkup and Little Friday Linkup.