Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Halloween!?

I've never enjoyed the gory, creepy, dark side of Halloween. To me celebrating darkness doesn't sound appealing. Just my opinion. In years past Josh and I have dressed up, carved pumpkins, and had Halloween parties though. We still enjoy a lot about Halloween (candy!!!). This year feels different though. We feel like our family is on the cusp of something big. Things like costumes and candy have fallen into the background. We've chosen to have a very quiet Halloween this year. We even cut back on the candy! Is it just me or does the price of candy go up every year?! Twenty dollars for a bag of candy seems a bit much. We bought enough to donate to our church's harvest festival, but there is no Halloween candy in our house! (If you feel led to give us some, it won't be turned away.) When we have kids though, watch out! My mom always made my costumes and I plan to do the same. Super heros, princesses (who have been educated and can rule with wisdom and grace), cartoon characters, robots...their own imagination will be their own limit. We will carve pumpkins, bake pumpkin seeds, go to the pumpkin patch, make cookies, decorate the house together. Halloween will be full of family traditions. But this year, as I said, this holiday has fallen into the background. Our family is in a collective crouch, waiting to spring into parenthood and grand parenthood. This year I plan for next year.
Halloween over the years.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Motherhood Mon.: Feet Firmly Planted

We have been waiting one year, six months, two weeks, and six days and we will continue to wait as long as God wants us to. *feet firmly planted, arms crossed, determined facial expression*

Determination is the word of the week. I am determined to accept this season of waiting in our lives as a gift. I am determined to focus on God's love and provision. I am determined to use this time, before our child comes home, to prepare to be the best mom I can be. I am determined to enjoy my husband, our home, and our very blessed lives. I am determined to NOT focus on what "I don't have". 

A wonderful hot steaming cup of green tea. It's finally looking a little bit more like fall here in Southern CA and we're actually getting some rain! My hands are slightly cold as I type this post. I think wrapping them around a hot cup of tea will be next on my to-do list.

Thoughts about our child:
We will wait for God to bring you home, and when He does, we will shout it from the rooftops and throw a huge party! 

Thoughts about our expectant mom:
What challenges are you facing? What do you look forward to? What are your hopes and goals? I want you to know we pray for you.

This week God:
Reminded us how important prayer is. Just because our prayer isn't answered on our time schedule, doesn't mean it isn't being heard. We need to continue to pray. We need to pray big! Yes we want a child, but how about twins?! Yes we want a child soon. But how about by Christmas!? I want to give God complete authority to totally blow us away with an amazing answer to prayer. I don't want my own imagination to limit my expectations of what God is capable of. We will praise Him!

"Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:13-14

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Prayer does not change the purpose of God.  But prayer does change the action of God." -Chuck Smith 
Read about why I started Motherhood Mondays here.
The humble beginnings of my stash.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Other couples being chosen, low page views, no comments, an "unlike" on Facebook, or no "shares" on a post I worked particularly hard on. These are a few of my least favorite things. The Enemy knows this too. He weasels his way into my thoughts and tells me I'm not good enough, I'm lacking, and unloved. I'm ashamed at how often I listen. I am tempted to believe him. But what did Christ do when He was tempted? He answered with scripture. And so, I will too.

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." -1 Corinthians 10:13 

Seeing other couples chosen by expectant moms is hard. What did they have that we didn't? It's easy to get judgemental and pick apart the chosen couple, looking for reasons why they were picked and not us. Left to my own devices, I could analyze it until my hair turns grey. It's the strangest combination of feelings to be both disappointed and happy for the other couple. How long will we wait before it's our turn?
But I am not alone. I do not need an answer. I will trust God's timing. 

"A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh, but envy is the rottenness of the bones." -Proverbs 14:30 

I write a post, I think about it for hours or even days, I choose just the right pictures. With each post I write I think "this is the one, the one that our expectant mom will see and it will put her mind at peace." Then I send it out into the world. I'm not sure what my standards are for a "good response". I always hope for positive words and enthusiastic sharing. Sometimes I don't get the desired response. Sometimes I get negative comments- "You're selfish for wanting an infant." "You're forcing a mother to give up her child." "I'd never give my baby to someone with tattoos." 
But I am not alone. I don't need to give them an answer. I will trust God's calling.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

I've chosen to share our journey publicly. I write this blog and make YouTube videos, we have a Facebook page and Twitter account. I'm sharing this work God is doing in our lives with two purposes. One, to make our intentions known. We want to adopt. The more people know, the easier it will be for our expectant mom to find us. Two, I believe in sharing life lessons with others. Waiting is hard for everyone, no matter what you're waiting for. I want others to be encouraged and reassured that they are not alone in their struggles. When someone (Facebook doesn't tell me who it is) unlikes our Facebook page or stops following our blog, it hurts. What did I say or do that pushed them to hit that button? 
But I am not alone. I don't need the world's approval. I will rely on God's strength.

"Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen." -Hebrews 11:1

In the end nothing I do, none of my "efforts", will make God move faster. I will never be able to convince Him that now is the time. I am not waiting on a child, I am waiting on God. A friend once said, "I'll just keep doing the job God has given me until He gives me a new one." I'll keep waiting as long as God wants me to. My job now is to praise Him, to be a good wife, daughter, friend, and to prepare for His next move. In this waiting, we will trust that He loves us, He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He will never leave us alone.

"The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." -Deuteronomy 31:8 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To Our Future Child

Here's a video, made a while ago, of me reading to our future child.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Motherhood Mon.: Bust A Move!

We have been waiting one year, six months, one week, and six days for God to bust an adoption move.

The paperwork saga continues. Turns out emailing our social worker the test results from our misplaced adoption physicals isn't gonna cut it. We need something with our doctor's signature on it. Bummer. This means we need to make appointments to see our doctors and pray they don't make us retake all the tests. I guess it's not a big deal if we do retake them, it's just a pain in the rear. The silver lining is that, if we get a call for a match before this is resolved, our social worker said it wouldn't cause any problems since they have all our other paperwork in. Hear that expectant mom!? We're ready for you! So, Mood: Full of anticipation. *singing* Anticipation, anticipaaation...♪♪♫

Salad....hmmm, interesting. 
Some friends from our Bible study group came over Saturday night and had dinner. Our friend Alysha made a really good salad. Kale, spinach, cherry tomatoes, Fetta cheese, and homemade red wine vinegerette. Mmmmmmmmm, I've been thinking about it ever since.

Thoughts about our child:
You're going to have the best dad! Man does he make me laugh. Even though he hasn't been feeling well the last couple on days, he still makes my side hurt from laughter on a regular basis. He's so loving. I can't wait to watch him cuddle you. 

Thoughts about our expectant mom:
What is the word for this feeling?! This connection to another person you know nothing about! It's so overwhelmingly strong, I can't describe it. 

This week God:
Reminded me of His strength.
(Text message) My mom-"It is SUPER hard to watch my beloved child suffer. If I did not believe in God's sovereignty I would be crushed. But I do believe, and we are not crushed."
Me-"Just a little....wrinkled."
My mom- "Yes. Wrinkled. ;-)"

Read about why I started Motherhood Mondays here.

Josh in his mother's arms.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Day Redeemed

January 26th, 2013. The day that would have been my baby shower. It's a day I had looked forward to for over five years. I remember laying awake at all hours of the night, feeling my daughter move inside me, imagining what my baby shower would be like. I would stand up in front of all my friends and family, all big and round, and share about the miracle God had performed. I would listen to my mother and mother in law talk about their joy and excitement at being first time grandmas. I would open gifts of tiny outfits and sweet story books and everyone would make oohing and awing noises. 

January 26th, 2013 was a lot different than I had imagined. Instead of celebrating the imminent arrival of our first born, I spent the day at the beach healing and reflecting on God's decision to take our daughter home. I didn't wear makeup that day because I figured I would be crying a lot, but now that I think back, I don't think I cried once. 
Smiling. Who would have thought?
God redeemed the day for me.

I am blessed with some wonderful women in my life. Strong, compassionate, loving women. On the day I would have celebrated a baby, a new life, instead I celebrated the life God had blessed me with. My own. My mother, my friend Pam (my BSF leader at the time), and my friend Audrey took me to the beach.
Audrey decided to climb a tree. Why not!?

It's hard now to describe the day. It was so perfectly calm and beautiful that it almost doesn't feel real. We enjoyed amazing weather, beautiful and delicious food, laughter, reflection on God's grace, and His overwhelmingly perfect timing. It was a day filled with soft soothing memories that I will hold in my heart forever. 

Isn't that just like God's grace? To redeem a day that seems irredeemable.  
(UPDATE: Read the comments to see my mother's view of this beautiful January day.)

Me and my mom. Redeemed.
Our adoption shower will be another redeeming day. Instead of being the only one to feel this child move, I imagine placing our first child to live on this earth into the arms of the people I love. Watching their faces as they look into the small face of a living breathing miracle. Hearing these women speak soft and soothing words to the child we have waited so long to meet. If there is a woman in attendance at our adoption celebration who has never seen a miracle, she will not leave in the same sad state. So much hope. So much excitement. 

Blessing tree and diaper cake made for my cousin's shower.
I don't want to get too ahead of myself and plan the whole celebration now, before we're even matched. Anticipation can be fun. I want to savor and enjoy the planning process. There are a few things I've already decided on though. Awhile ago I hosted a baby shower for my cousin and we had a blessing tree. I took a tree branch and cut tag ornaments out on my Cricut. Everyone wrote words of encouragement to the new mom and prayers for her sweet daughter on the tags and then hung them on the tree. At the end of the party we took all the tags and put them in a little album for my cousin to take home. I loved this idea when I did it for her and I can't wait to read all the beautiful things my friends and family write on our special day. I'm also pretty set on a Dr. Seuss theme. The first baby item I bought when we started the adoption process was a Cat In The Hat onesie. I also really like diaper cakes. No particular reason. Just think they're really cute. I've made a few over the years for friends (there's a picture of one I made in this post too) and I look forward to having one of my own. Other than that, I just look forward to sharing this amazing, wonderful, joyful day with the people I love. It will feel like a giant collective exhale of relief and peace in our family.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Full Volume Homemaking

I grew up in a very small cozy house with both my parents, my brother, and one bathroom. We had to get along or I think there would have been some consequences to our quality of living. The phrase "too many butts in the kitchen!" had to be used on a regular basis. It made for interesting inside jokes, especially in relation to the single bathroom issue. Both my parents worked full time so us kids helped out with chores. My main job was the dishes and since it was a semi-old house there was no dishwasher. Having one now always feels like a huge luxury. I have memories of my mom and dad putting on Paul Simon or the Gypsy Kings at full volume and I danced around the house as we cleaned. "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" and "Bamboleo" give me the urge to swing my hips with the vacuum as my dancing partner. Makes me want to dust with some serious flare. Do the cha-cha from the waist down at the kitchen sink.

 Even though we helped with household chores, I could count on one hand the number of times I was asked to clean my room. My room was always my own. I was always able to express my creativity without worrying about making a mess. When I was really young, my bed turned into a stage. My friends and I would rearrange furniture every which way we could and put on performances for my family. As I got older, my mom and I would redecorate my room at least once every couple years. We would go down to the garment district in LA and get fabric to sew new window treatments, bedspreads, and pillows. Even with all the rearranging, my room was always pretty orderly. 

Now that I have my own home, I still enjoy rearranging and organizing things to be visually appealing. Doing chores doesn't really feel like a job, but rather brings up memories of singing and dancing (most of the time). I enjoy keeping our home comfortable and peaceful. Putting on some good music makes almost any job more enjoyable. There are certain chores I'm a bit picky about though. Certain ways I like things done that just make me happy. I make our bed everyday right after breakfast. I don't like a lot of dishes on the counters. They either get washed right away or are put in the sink instead of on the counter. I make our weekly dinner menu every Sunday. One of my stranger preferences pertains to our towels. When I fold towels, I do it a certain way and they are stored a certain way. Josh is no longer allowed to help fold towels. He just doesn't do it right! I think this one stems back to my childhood bathroom shared with three other people. I folded a lot of towels.

When our future children do chores or clean their rooms, we'll probably take an approach similar to my parents'. Being productive doesn't mean you can't have fun. Since I intend to be a stay at home mom, I believe a lot of the household maintenance will be part of my "job". However, I think it's important for all family members to contribute. I understand I'll need to let go of some of my housekeeping quirks. There will be more dishes on the counter, beds might not get made, and really, the towels aren't that important. When our little one starts making their own bed or helping fold laundry, it won't be done perfectly. But I will be proud that they helped and I will nurture their desire to help others. I intend to seek out and nurture our child's strengths. If a huge mess is involved, so be it. We'll live at full volume and clean up before bed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motherhood Mon.: "Ohhhhhh Yaaaaa"

One year, six months, and six days waiting. That's 554 days. 13,296 hours. But who's counting!?

This week our social worker informed us that the paperwork for our adoption physicals had been lost sometime between May, when we had our exams done, and now. I had an opportunity to get fairly worked up and stressed out about this. Instead I asked for prayer and reminded myself that our social worker is super sweet and very helpful, so this was an honest mistake. She acknowledged that I have always been very organized and on top of our adoption requirements so this was totally on her end. (FYI, fanning my ego by complimenting my organizational skills is always a smart way to get on my good side.) In the end she is allowing us to call our doctor's offices and get our exam results and then just email them to her. I am so grateful we don't have to redo everything. So, Mood: relieved and grateful to those who prayed for a simple solution. 

Chocolate! Mass quantities of chocolate!!! This is fairly normal though. Remember my first encounter with chocolate pudding? (See post here.)

Thoughts about our child:
Yesterday I got to hold my cousin's five day old new son. He made the sweetest most content face as I stroked his beautiful dark hair. His little neck stretched out, his eyebrows raised, and his little mouth made the shape of an "o". You could practically hear him thinking "ohhhhhh yaaaaa". It was the cutest thing. Watching our future child make those funny faces is literally going to make my heart melt. YouTube get ready cause I will be posting endless hours of our child making cute faces.

Thoughts about our expectant mom:
I LOVE YOU!!! I sure wish I knew who you are.

This week God:
Reminded me that His "contract" with me is stronger than any earthly agreement. My God is bigger than adoption paperwork.

Read about why I started "Motherhood Mondays" here.
Me in my mother's arms.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Candace: 12 Lessons On Open Adoption

I first saw/met Candace on YouTube. She has been a huge inspiration to me in both adoption and blogging. The relationship she has with her boy's birth moms is so beautiful. I will be forever grateful to Candace for her support and willingness to share. Here is a little bit of her adoption knowledge for you to soak up:

Hello everyone! My name is Candace and I am an Adoptive Momma. I feel honored to do a guest post on Josh & Kristen's blog about our experience with adoption. It has been an amazing blessing in our life. 
      When my husband and I decided to adopt, 4 years ago, we knew absolutely NOTHING about adoption. There was no guide book and I didn't know any Adoptive Mothers that had adopted in the past 10 years. However, I did know a few people that had been adopted so I was able to ask them lots of questions. I noticed a pattern that a lot of older adoptees shared. The unanswerable "Why". Why were they placed....Were they loved... Whats their biological health history....etc. They were saddened by missing the first chapter of their life. Not all adoptees that I talked to felt this way and were very at peace with the way things in their life were. For us though, we KNEW that we didn't ever want our children to wonder. Adoption has come a long way in the past few decades and closed adoption is becoming less and less common in America. So now that we knew that we wanted an open adoption, we questioned how exactly that would work. I knew absolutely NOBODY that had ever done an open adoption. People thought we were crazy for wanting to keep contact with a Birth Family and were quick to tell us horror stories that they saw on some news channel 20 years ago. However, at the end of the day, we truly felt that open adoption was the best way for us. So with a blind leap of faith, we jumped right in to the open adoption world.

Best buddies.

 We have now adopted 2 AMAZING little boys. Both of which are in Open Adoptions :-) Our oldest son is almost 4 and our youngest son is almost 2. I won't say that it has always been easy but I can say that it all has been completely worth it. Here are a few things we learned along the way. Enjoy!
*I know in some adoptions, Openness is not the best choice for everyone involved. That's Ok! It doesn't make their adoption any less special or amazing.
 1) Always give your child's Birth Family the benefit of the doubt. There are so many high emotions that you can easily turn something into nothing.
2) Do NOT make a promise you can not keep. Trust is the most important piece of open adoption so if you say you will do something then do it. If you aren't comfortable with something, find a happy medium to satisfy everyone involved. Setting boundaries is a good thing.
3) Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! The Good and the Bad. Ask them how they are doing and if the need more or less communication.  Be up front. If you have ill feelings that you can't shake then address them. Don't let it stew in your mind so long that you blow up.
4) If you feel inspired to reach out to a Birth Parent, DO IT! You will be more in tune with a Birth Parent than you think so don't postpone a prompting.
5) Praise them. Use the L word and mean it.
6) Honor the Birth Parents in your children's lives. Let them be proud to be adopted. Post pictures of them in their bed rooms.
7) Don't fear the Birth Parents relationship with the child. Jealousy can be hard to push past sometimes but you just have to do it. Don't nurture jealousy. The Adoptive Family and the Birth Family have 2 separate roles in the child's life. Your worlds will come together to make the child's world one. Finding a good balance is possible.
8) Include the Birth Family as much as you want. The more we give the more they give and we can help each other heal in beautiful ways. No child ever suffered by having too many people love him/her.
9) It's ok to not be perfect in front of them. They know your human. You're not a bad parent if your kid has peanut butter on his shirt.
10) Be yourself from the moment you meet them. No fake smiles, no photoshopping, no pretending to be anything but yourself. That is who they want to see.
11) Be confident in their choice. After placement Adoptive Parents will go through a guilt process. It hurts so bad. You will know that you are benefiting from what is paining them but it will be ok. Pain is to be expected in these situations. Sending them pictures and letting them know you are there helps a ton.
12) Remind them that you are never going anywhere. If you feel them pulling away its ok to ask them about it. If they need space respect it.

Adoption changed our life. It changed the way we love, the way we have compassion, the way we live. 

Our youngest son's Birth Mother lives out of state but we still see her a few times a year. 
My youngest son Jamison with his lovely Birth Mom Amy. 
Together on his first Birthday.
Jamison giving loves to his Birth Momma.
    Our oldest son's Birth Parents live about 5 hours away so we go visit them often too. They have also come to our home to visit us.  
He is one loved little boy!   
Sawyer's Birth Dad with both boys. He is not Jamison's Birth Dad but has become the "Adoptive Birth Dad" for Jamison.

Our oldest son Sawyer with his Birth Momma Lauren.

Our closeness with our boys' Birth Parents didn't just happen over night. It was gradual and it was also something we all wanted.  Every adoption is different and the type of relationship you have with  a Birth Family depends on what everyone is willing to work for. It's built on a lot of love, respect, and selflessness. It's what you make of it. Oh, and it's amazing ;-)
Adoption is full of potential. Full of choices that you will make every single day. It will be the hardest most rewarding thing you will ever do. Just keep the faith and remember that FAITH and FEAR can not exist in your mind at the same time. Make sure to nurture the faith part a little more each day and you'll be just fine. It WILL all be worth it!!


If you would like to see more of your adoption journey, check out our Youtube page here!

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