Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beyond Blessed

Well 2013 has been all over the place. Robert was saying that 2013 went by fast, but I disagree. If I could sum up 2013 in a few words they would be: Sorrow, Joy, Waiting, Blessed.

From losing 3 grandparents, 3 patients of mine, and my great grandma, I would say Sorrow to describe this year. Yes in each death there was lots of God and peace, but its still sad to have lost so many people, especially grandparents. My grandpa (father's dad) was very inspirational to many people and I am most sad that he didn't get to even know about my kids or that we were adopting. They would have loved him and he would have loved them as he loves all his grand and great grand kids. Losing both of Robert's grandmothers was also hard as I would have loved for them also to know our kids and to see Robert as a dad. My great grandmothers (my mom's grandma) funeral was probably the coolest bc she was 100 years old and left such a great life of legacy to all her kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and great great grandkids. Losing 3 patients was also very hard bc in my line of work, we develop relationships with people. My patients aren't just a file number or someone on my schedule they are real people and kids who need my help and who more often than not become my friends. Each one of them will be missed.

Joy would be my next description of this year bc of the obvious - we became PARENTS! Its still weird to think I'm a mom and Robert is a dad after all we went through to get here, but we are taking it each day, one day at a time. Exactly a year ago on New Years Eve I would never have told you or imagined that I would have two little kids with me that I am in the process of adopting. But thats what is so cool about God, He knew it all along and was just waiting to see if we would be faithful to follow Him through it all. That is the greatest kind of Joy you can ever have. True Joy, where you know that even through your faults and failures and mistakes and inadequacies that God honored your faithful heart and that the tears and prayers you poured out have not gone unnoticed. God's Joy is the best! From the moment Rob and I both decided to pursue adoption, to God giving me a dream/vision of two little kids running through the house, to finding our adoption agency, and then from each day we waited, to getting their names, seeing them the first time, bringing them home, and finally having them feel like they really are ours... yes, I would say there has been JOY this year!

I can't leave out the word waiting from the list. Goodness each of you reading this has gone through the waiting and struggles with us this year. Each step brought about a desperate cry for God to reveal himself and to show us what direction to go. Waiting was certainly the hardest thing for me this year. When we announced that we were adopting, we both thought that we would find the kids profile within a few weeks and then have them at the end of the summer... well at least thats what we kept hoping for... but God knew we needed to wait. For whatever reason, I'm glad He knew better. Rob and I were able to fully enjoy this year and to learn more about each other and our relationship with Christ before we were plunged into parenthood. How we would have survived without that time to bond closer in all our relationships, only God knows! And I have to say that if you are waiting for confirmation or for the next step to some decision or just for God to reveal something to you... don't lose heart, God is strengthening you for the journey ahead. The best thing I ever read was on another blog from an adoptive mother who said "The wait, though it may seem to last forever, WILL END. You won't wait forever". And its true, just as I gave up anticipating what God was gonna do and when I finally surrendered that His timing was going to be perfect and I didn't want to have any control anymore... He answered my waiting with two beautiful kiddos. So have patience, pray for more wisdom and contentment, and keep waiting. Something great is about to come!

AND finally, blessed. What more can I say except I am blessed. My husband, who is now a wonderful father and willing to go on this crazy journey with me to parenthood... even with all the tears, prayers, laughs, cries, and uncertainty... Robert you are my rock. My family, who lovingly took in these two kiddos as their new family members, loving them and praying for them and us in this transition... its a change for everyone and for their love I am so grateful! Our church, The Gathering @ Midland, how you all have prayed for us and helped us see the light of Christ even when we were at our weakest, you celebrated with us, helped prepare us, and are always there for us no matter the need... we are so happy to call each of you a part of our family. The Youth Gathering... our first kids and always will be, you guys embraced the change in our lives and even when we couldn't give you all that we had before, you still loved us and supported us.. I know you will each become a special and important part of our kids' lives and we can't wait to share in all the joys and memories of 2014. My friends, near and far, I have strengthened some relationships and sharpened others this year. To each of you who reached out to me or allowed me to burden you with my anxieties and freak out moments, thank you... and to all the friends who I haven't had time to fuel our closeness, 2014 is a new year!

And now a few pictures (without the kids faces) of our little family and the best times of my 2013:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5: 3-10

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Gotcha Day

Gotcha Day. December 20, 2013. A new adoption term we learned through our process is that of the Gotcha Day. The day the kids officially become ours in our hearts, although they are not 100% officially ours for another 6 months. So for our kids (and yes I like saying that) our Fowler Gotcha Day is 12-20-13.

Friday the 20th, I went to work as normal, we have half day Fridays which is awesome to get off at noon to get some errands run... and on this particular Friday, my mind was halfway across Texas. I saw one patient and managed to finish all my paperwork while having my head in the clouds and when 10 am rolled around I was done, checked out, and left work with lots of well wishes from my coworkers.

This was the day I became a mom.

Like for good. No more leaving the kids at their foster parents and driving away from them again, no more saying lets count down the days till we see each other again... These kids were to become mine on this day and I was being instantly thrown into the motherhood category. Boom - parenthood.

How do I even begin to describe how I felt... terrified is a good place, anxious, nervous, happy, excited, overwhelmed, stressed out... yeah that about sums it up. I'm glad that I had a long list of "to do's" that day because I would have gone completely bonkers just sitting around waiting for them to arrive... and I am a doer not a sitter as my mother is so staying busy is usually my comfort (as weird as that sounds). So after I exited work early, I went straight to the kids school to get them registered as Friday was the last working school day until the new semester starts on the 6th... so it was today or never pretty much... luckily I stayed up late working on their school forms (to which was also quite frustrating and I may have shed a tear or two bc I just didn't know or have some of their information. This is of course going to be part of the process for the rest of our lives bc some of their information that I come across that I will need I will never have... again such as some birth information or pictures and I again have never seen a baby picture of either child) ... so I turned in their school forms as complete as I could get them. I totally had sticky noted for the parts that I needed to go back and fill in their missing info... the lady looked at me like really? but oh well thats just how I roll.
Next stop was the grocery store. I mean they need food, right? So I set out to get us groceries... and I must digress here to say that I usually shop at walmart or albertsons... yes, I would like to be an HEB shopper bc I would like HEB, but something about the store drives me up the walls and stresses me out... so my coworkers and friends have been trying to get me pumped up into trying HEB. Literally every time I've gone in there I have had a nervous break down or disaster for some reason... even when I went with Robert one time... but anyways, I decided to go to HEB. I had time to use as the kids were not expected to arrive until around 5ish. It was raining heavily that day and their caseworker was a little behind schedule leaving town. So with my HEB giftcards (thanks again friends!) I started in the produce, grabbing some fruit and salad things, a few veggies, I moved onto the cheese and meat isle... and the panic began to rise.
Not only was I in the middle of an unfamiliar store on the biggest day of my life, but I had absolutely NO idea what to put in my basket. What do these kids eat, what do they like, not like, what makes them sick, what makes them happy, what is healthier options for them, will they try new foods, what I'm just wasting my time and this money for nothing... The questions took over me and I literally started to freak out... in the middle of HEB.

I was so overwhelmed by the questions and uncertainties and the realization that I had no idea what to do or what I was about to get into that the anticipation of this moment became too much for me emotionally, too much physically, and too much for me to mentally handle any longer. I broke down.
Thank God for his special angels that he places within our path at the right moments we need them most.
As I was having my breakdown I ran into the manager of HEB who happens to be a lifelong family friend and someone I trust. He was standing in the middle of an aisle and I just walked right up to him and started to cry. He knew we were getting the kids on that day in a few hours and just talked me out of my broken state. I am very grateful to him for being there.
So I collected myself and stepped up to the challenge of going down each aisle and finding some snacks and meal items to the best of my ability and headed to the checkout. There in line I ran into my friend again who was talking to the lady in front of me. She moved forward and I started to unload my monsterously crowded basket of stuff onto the conveyor belt. I had bought the kids some V8 berry splash juice... bc I had heard it was good, not that I knew what it tasted like, but v8 has veggies and fruit so it was a winner in my book... anyways, so the lady asked me if the juice tasted like tomatoes... I honestly just stared back at her bc I didn't what to say or how to begin, so I told her the whole story... "well let me tell you my story, I'm about to adopt two kids and needed to get them groceries and someone recommended this juice to me so I put it in my basket but I have never tasted it."     Her turn to stare.   "Now wait, you are adopting two kids and you are at the grocery store?" she said.
"Yes, they have to eat don't they."
"well when do you get them?" -lady
"In about 3 hours."
"Wow, ok. Well I'm blown away by what you are doing, and at Christmas time too, how cool..."- lady
I don't share that to pat myself on the back, but to say that even a little conversation about juice can lead to a chance to share what God is doing in your life :)

OK so I continue... I get home from the store, unload groceries forever it seems, and I desperately call my mom to see if she would be available to help me organize and somewhat straighten our house. There was still alot of little projects left to do and the kids' stuff was not all yet put up in their rooms. She was willing to come help and as she got out of her car I just crashed on her shoulder in desperate need of a mommy hug.
She worked with quick diligence and by the time 5 came around and the kids were 30-45 minutes away, we had the house somewhat cleaned up, dinner cooking in the crock pot, and my excited nerves in full motion.

We had talked to the kids on the phone that day and I knew that they were excited - Elva a little nervous and not feeling well from the drive- but excited none the less. This was a huge life change for the 4 of us and there was no turning back now! It's funny bc everyone was asking me all day how do you feel and even afterwards, how does it feel to be a mom? I don't know if I can answer that just yet. As I'm writing this its been almost 7 days and I just don't know if I feel like a mom just yet. Not completely. I know this isn't true in reality, but in my mind and in the atmosphere of our home right now I feel as though I have to earn that title - Mom. These kids have had multiple "mom" figures and right now I'm just another one of those... in their eyes they want to be here with us forever, but there is still a possibility we will turn out like everyone else and not keep them forever (of course we know thats not going to happen, they are ours and God has given them to us for a purpose), but none the less, I'm just not yet into the realization that I am now a mom. It will take time to hit me of course, but again its something that I want to show these kids that I can earn to be called mom.

So at 5:45 on December 20, whether I felt like a mom yet or not, the moment was upon me... and Robert, but I can't speak for him. He is always so calm and collected with things like this, drives me crazy but thats why I love him :)... with the down pouring rain, the kids came running in ... and with them a ton load of stuff. I mean bags and bags and trash bags and Christmas bags and more things here and there. The state will buy Christmas presents for children in foster care through various organizations and since they were still in foster care when the lists went out, they came with presents - about 12 each. It was quite a crazy mess in our house as we were trying to put their presents away in our closet, give them a grand tour of the home and of their rooms, as well as manage all the paperwork we had to do. The kids' caseworker and HollyAnn from Addys Hope were also in our home for this special occasion and to get our placement paperwork in place. I was signing things here, initialing there, stirring dinner, answering questions, and keeping track of important copies left and right... all while Robert was corralling the kids. They finally settled down playing the Wii while we finished everything that had to be legally done for us to have the kids in our home.

After we said goodbye to the kids' caseworker and to HollyAnn, we sat down for our first meal together. Waylon eats at about the speed of a tornado so he was finished quite quickly and Elva eats like a sloth very slowly, but they ate, we organized some of their things in their rooms, allotted time for baths, and then settled in Elva's room for our first family time. We prayed and allowed the kids to say prayers and talked about how grateful we were that they were here ready to be part of our family. It was a picture perfect time... they slept in the same room (Elva has a trundle that pulls out under her bed for Waylon when he wants to sleep in there) and we kissed them goodnight.

Then we headed to our room and finally was able to take a breath. Again things felt like a dream at this point... are there really two kids sleeping in the other room? And we get to do this forever? Oh no, what do we do tomorrow? How do we be normal and make this transition easy? And Christmas is coming did we get enough, what is there left to do? Questions again came into our minds, but all we could do is stop and pray. How thankful we were that this moment had finally arrived and yet how terrifying that it was here. Again I can't say that that first night was all magical or anything, after I got over my anxiety attack from earlier, it was just simply a very nice evening. The excitement will continue for a few days and then we will have some serious work on our hands, but this is what we signed up for and God willing there will be a perfect ending in sight.

And now to forever celebrating our Gotcha Day.

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:23

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Greater Purpose

Again I would like to start out by giving my gratitude to the wonderful blessings God has given me that are called my friends and family. For your support and prayers we could never fully say thank you as much as it is deserved, but please know how much you each mean to us and how we know with time that you will come to mean to our kiddos.

My heart is so swollen with joy and anticipation for next Friday. Just 6 days until we become parents permanently. 6 days till we jump into a whole different world. 6 days left with just the two of us and then we become 4. I feel this Great Wall of tears welling up inside me after seeing so much generosity poured out over us for the kids and just for the great realization that what we have prayed for is finally upon us. I really can't believe we are in this exact spot that we are. I don't really know how to react at this point. My emotions are everywhere- joy, love, anticipation, expectation, fear, tense, planning, nervousness, but mostly just love. I am finally at the point where I just miss them and ache for them to be here. Pictures only make that harder as I can't wait to see their smiles and faces in person again. I prayed for those faces, every feature, and I prayed for their smiles and laughs, so I'm ready to be around them. No more driving them back to their foster homes, they need to be with me permanently, my heart needs it. I find myself so tearful at times and ten again so happy and then so sad for some reason and back then to tearfully excited. It's just not real yet to me, but the two Waylon and Elva size holes in my heart are aching more and more. 6 days left and maybe I can take a breath and wake up from this dream.... But then again, we will have a new dream to begin.

I struggled with sharing the words in my journal with others. As soon as we began the adoption process back in March, HollyAnn suggested a journal, write down what I was feeling. Keep track of memories. Use it as an outlet, a way back to sanity in this emotional journey. And I've never been a writing in a journal kind of person, but just like writing this blog has helped to heal the scrambled pieces of my heart together, my journal has helped to do all the things HollyAnn said it would and more. It has helped me keep my eyes on my Father and to remember what is most important, following His footsteps. So I was trying to decide if I really wanted to share things I had wrote, but I just recently pulled it out and started from the beginning. What I read just took me back to the whole purpose and true meaning for why we have surrendered ourselves to this life. Let me share with you the first page in my journal, dated 4-24-13:

God has revealed himself in such a miraculous way in my life. How He has protected me, supplied for our financial needs, led me to my wonderfulf husband and friend, and been the source of comfort through all sorts of trials and tribulations, joys and smiles. As I think about where my life has come and how my dreams have become reality - maybe have changed a little from my original plans - but that have turned into something more joyous... I'm overwhelmed. God has changed my heart from its empty hole of jealousy, anger, rage, and longing... To one of hope, love, pure joy, obedience, and light. When He told me that I might never bear my own children, I thought He was taking away my future and all the happiness I had longed for, hoped for, prayed for, prepared for. 
BUT I was wrong. 
He was giving me the freedom to choose His plan for myself and Robert, the one full of all my dreams and desires, but also one that served a greater purpose than I could ever have imagined. One called to Adopt. 
This is our adoption story. 

I still remember exactly where I was when I wrote that (on a plane to Houston with our church staff). I still remember the emotion of that moment and it's all so real again to me. How many times as Christians do we pray for God to use us, but yet we aren't ready to surrender and let Him actually show us what it will take for our lives to be of greater purpose. I am not a saint or someone to be praised. It's hard for me to acknowledge people being so gracious with their words regarding us taking on this adoption and loving two children bc I know it's not me. Elva and Waylon were created to be my children and to live with us, teach us, and learn with us about how far and deep is Gods love. They had to start in a simple home with a neglectful mother first for some reason that we will only see why someday, or maybe never, but they have so much to teach the world and I hope they can find the ability to let God use them.

Of course the enemy has tried very hard to discourage and distract us during this whole time. I read through several of my journal entries about our struggles with the kids behavior and getting through the rough times into the joyous times. 11-24-13: No matter how far our son and daughter may run, we will chase them in Your relentless love. Though our tears may fall, our anxieties rise, we know this is Your will.
I remember before I wrote this I took refuge in the hotel bathroom. We were with the kids in a hotel room for thanksgiving weekend with our families in Dallas. We had just had a very tough night with Waylon. These kids have triggers, they have sensory issues to different situations, and we have a lot to learn about what makes them tick and then tock in harmony with life. That thanksgiving night was not an easy one. We had a small hiccup in our evening that lasted about an hour. If it weren't for Robert and his patience we would probably still be stuck trying to get our son out from hiding under the bed. We finished off the night and as always things end fine and we typically get to enjoy bed time with the kids, but my heart was so troubled that I had to find solitude in the bathroom - the only hideout in a hotel room. I haven't cried and fallen on my knees like that in a long time. My face hurt from the pressure of trying not to let me tears be loud but to let them come. I knew that the enemy of the world was trying to make me doubt everything and to forget every promise God had fulfilled and every truth about our little developing family. My insecurities and ignorance of motherhood was being driven at the front of my mind. My only escape was to fight it head on with my face to the ground and a pool of tears that I was willing to shed for those two kids in the other room. I cried out to God for them, their future, their hearts, their souls, their bonding for Robert and I... I asked for patience, for understanding, and plainly for God to hold me together bc I in that moment had lost all strength. Robert came in and was my stronghold. I have had many people say how we need to be careful to not lose our connection together and to make our marriage stronger... In that moment I knew we were going to be nothing but in this together. I need him and God has used him all the time we have been together to be the spiritual lead and I know he has needed me at times too, we can't work without Christ. And now as upcoming parents we have cried out to God more fervently than ever before for our kids.

That night God once again showed himself to me and although I had to keep my eyes focused on him with multiple prayers being whispered under my breath, I knew that no matter what distractions or struggles came that my God would be there to hold me as I fell on my knees again and again. I have a problem with expecting perfection although nothing has been perfect in my life except finding my true love, so God has had to break apart my fear of having a less than perfect child and having a lesser than perfect parenting moment. Aren't we all just figuring it out and going with the flow of whatever works the best? Not being an expert or even a few days as a parent yet I have figured out right now the best tool I have is prayer. Unbiased and shameless prayer. I have heard of many stories where mothers have prayed so hard for their children to turn from addictions and lives full of sin for years upon years. Those mothers had their prayers answered. How much so that I should commit to pray for my kids, for Waylon and Elva, and every kind of uncertain decision and future that awaits us. I believe in the power of prayer. And if you don't, I invite you to try it out. Not just praying but believing. God can do so much through a humble heart that prays. And I know that all of you who have committed to praying for my kids have just added to the power of mine and Roberts own prayers. Try prayer. I find it's best done just surrendered on your knees. Someone once told me if you want your life to change or something to get better- suck some carpet.

Oh, yes God we owe you our highest thanks. Oh the roads you lead us on aren't smooth or luxurious, but how beautiful is the scenery and the destination when we place our hope and trust in you. Lord continue to be my guide. I surrender it all and everyday I will give you my life, my loves, my all to you. 
Amidst the hard times, the greatest memories are the happy ones. We have been able to talk with both kids very openly now about coming to be with us forever to be adopted. While it's a lot to chew for these kids, they are very excited to become apart of our family. Yes I think it will still be a while before either of them calls me "mom" I know that when that day comes that it will be one of the best.

As of now the kids will be brought to us Friday. Then forever we begin the process of fulfilling our commitment to them and to The Lord and making ourselves a family. I can't wait!

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19 NLT)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Waiting and Learning

As we count down the days till they come to our home forever, we continue the story....

The rest of our first moments with our kids consisted of us taking them to a local park for the day, swimming at the hotel pool, and keeping them overnight for the first time in a small hotel room. Not to skip over the details, but we had alot to learn about these kids and we were very much thrown into instant parenthood without knowing even what they liked to eat or what time they normally go to bed. Now I know that babies do not come with an instruction manual, but most of the time you get to write your own manual on that child as they grow. We not only didn't have a manual, we didn't have the beginning secrets of what made them who they are. We had a great first weekend with them and we sure did figure out fast what their "triggers" were and we saw how they were going to try and push our buttons. Remember when we said this wasn't going to be easy...like any child who has an opinion about anything, we were to find out just what kind of love and structure Waylon needed, just how tender Elva was, and just how much they would get very close to pushing us over the edge. BUT we also learned what things made them laugh, how we could get them to smile, and that they would do anything when bribed with sweets (me too :)

Its fun and emotionally draining figuring out your child for the first time, while still trying to connect to them and form a bond, but without taking things too fast. We, again, were very cautious not to mention adoption or staying with us forever as through this whole process it boils down to the kids' choice after we have them in our home 6 months. Yes, the kids have their own special amount of rights and after we have them for 6 months, they will get asked if they want to be with us forever. How frightening that our kids could say no to us after all the hard work we are willing to invest. BUT thinking that way gets my anxiety up and honestly, this is in God's hands. He wouldn't have brought us this far and invested our four lives together if it wasn't in his purpose and plan. SO, I can think about the next 6 months or I can just take it one day at a time.

After we saw the kids for the first time ever in November, we began to keep up with them through phone calls. We would rotate days, calling one child a day just to say we missed them and couldn't wait to see them again. Its kind of weird to think back to those first few phone calls when we really didn't know what to say and how hard it was not to scream our WE LOVE YOU to end the call. Elva's conversations usually consisted of her just saying hi, I miss you, I drew a picture of a______ today, I miss you... and so forth. Waylon had more to say on the phone, but we had decided for the sake of making things easier on him, to have Robert call him on the phone.
I have to insert here that Waylon is a very good kid and just needs to be loved by a real family. BUT he once had a mom. A realization that we will live with forever, for he had to watch his family fall apart and take care of his little sister through it all in order for us to get where we are now. Waylon has seen love fall apart at too young of an age. I will never be able to take away his memories to start fresh, but I can show him how real love can be true and genuine.
So with that being said, Waylon was not very responsive to me at first. I was very cautious to follow his signals to keep the affection to a minimum and to watch my words. It was very important that I not push myself as a new mom onto him. Elva, sweet girl, was hungry and thirsty and for a family and latched  onto us like a leech. We had to watch how much we gave her attention vs Waylon. All things you normally dont have to think about with your children on a daily basis, but it was something that was constantly on my mind.
SO... during phone calls, we would have Robert call Waylon, you know, to have man to boy talk...
until the one day that he finally asked to talk to me. I must have looked like a fool all giddy as I was. I called his foster parent and heard his excitement from the other side of the phone as he asked Waylon if he wanted to talk to me. To hear that excitement was such a warm break through in my heart. Maybe, just maybe he would give me a chance. Now conversations with an 8 year old aren't the most interesting, but we talked about games and upcoming visits and what things he might like in his room... err uhh the one he would stay in when he came to visit... if he wanted to. Remember we had to avoid the conversation of forever and adoption for the time being, so to say what do you want in your room had to be further explained.

From that moment on, we would call both children together and spend time talking to each of them individually. I realize now how important it is to document your child's first words... but how even more important for us was to document the first time our children said I love you to us. November 22nd, the day we drove through sleet and freezing temperatures to reach our kids was the day that Waylon first said I love you to me on the phone while he waited our arrival. Elva first said those sweet words sometime in the week before while just having a typical conversation. How great those words are to hear. And how much I want to earn the emotions and feelings and meanings behind those words. I still can't wait for the day they call me mom, but I know I may have to wait for that one a little longer.

BUT wait I will do. Whatever it takes, I will wait.

11 days. The sounds of the kid's voices on the phone at this time are so much more filled with joy. We say I love you freely and openly to each other on the phone now, although at times Waylon is a little more reluctant to say it, but thats ok. Through everything I've learned to just accept things and to know that things are ok. God has a plan, He always has a plan. Do we want to follow it or not? Do we want to live in fear or anxiety or do we want to live in peace? frankly at this point, I definitely choose peace. 11 days. Counting down...to our little piece of forever.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! 2 Thessalonians 3:16


Saturday, December 7, 2013

In that First Moment

I am writing this post on 11/13/13 to keep the memories fresh on my mind, but I know I'm not posting it until whenever today is...

On Friday, November 8, our world took a turn, a new page turned, a new road opened up and with it the floodgates of emotions and realities started to sink in... on this day we got to meet our children for the very first time.

After many weeks of praying for these children and patiently waiting for the next step, the next go ahead from the authorities that be, we were given the green light. As we drove from Midland the 4 hours to the city where they resided, I was emotionally wrecked with joy, happiness, anxiety, and fear like I had never felt before. I think I talked Robert's ear off with nervousness the whole way! This was the moment we were patiently (well somewhat) awaiting for weeks and weeks, the chance to see them face to face. The drive was totally a blur and seemed to drag on all day. Navigating to our hotel through an unknown city was hard bc of all the nerves.
We checked into our hotel and proceeded to get ready for the night ahead of us. With a few minutes to get changed from the drive and freshened up, I just prayed and prayed. There was nothing else I could do. Things were in Gods hands at that point bc my body was going numb from anticipation and fear. As I was unloading my suitcase a thought occurred to me...

"What do you wear to meet your kids for the first time ever?"

How strange and how not normal this situation was and how frightening that we were about to walk into this experience feeling like we were blindfolded and handing two little beings our hearts on a glass platter.The uncertainties and the fears were very real and very vivid. Of course, it didn't really matter what we decided to wear bc I'm sure kids don't really notice those details, but in a way we were interviewing to become parents... to our kids... so very strange. The questions began to run like crazy through my mind: what will they think of us? Do they know our names, our faces? What do we do when they get hungry, fussy, or tired? How will we break the ice? What if they don't like us, what if we aren't any fun to them? What if they refuse to go anywhere with us? I could have driven myself crazy with all the questions... and I could have let the enemy terrify me to death that I backed out and told Robert we had to drive back to Midland...
But no, God was my patience and my strength, He took my hand, whispered in my ear His calming words of encouragement, and led me through the hotel lobby, to our car, and with Robert, down the few blocks to the appropriate place we were to meet with the kids and their foster families.

The moment had arrived, as we pulled into the parking lot, we double checked the address, of course we were a few minutes ahead of schedule. Would they be in the lobby? What are the first words to my son and daughter going to be?

When a mother first meets their child, their newborn, I imagine it just being so emotional  and joyful and happily chaotic as you take in the child's first cries, first breath, first every moment in life. And as they grow you get to mark down their many firsts- first steps, first time eating solid food, first words, first smile, first laugh, first fall, first bruise or scrape, first ... You fill in the blank. And there's usually photos or video to document these momentous occasions  so you never forget.
At this time I have never seen a baby picture of either child. I don't know when they first developed their gross and fine motor skills (which kills me as a physical therapist), I have no idea what their first words were or what they liked to play with.  Their firsts were about happen for us and there would be no typical new mommy and daddy fanfare happening around us.
There was just two terrified kids and two even more scared adults.

So as we walked into the building and saw Elva sitting there next to her foster mom, my body could have just fallen over from how tense and nervous I was. My first reaction from my daughter was a glare. Who is this strange person staring at me? She was very timid and shy, as I would be if I was meeting a perfect stranger who looked at me like they knew me. Waylon came in a few moments later and was happy to unite with his sister. He didn't even give us a glance. And not that I don't blame him...this was not normal.

We were introduced and led to a room where we had to talk some logistical stuff with their social worker. From what I could gather the kids had been told about us but just small details. The kids were not exactly aware that we were wanting to adopt them. We were warned not to even mention adoption or "living forever" to Waylon (for many reasons, he just wasn't ready to hear it). Really... I couldn't even talk to my kids about them coming to be with me forever. How not normal again.

After discussing some things about the kids and the whole situation and after being introduced to several other members of their CPS network we were able to go through a photo album we had created about our families with the kids. They asked some questions but were anxious to see what we were going to do after being stuck in this room. I have to share the best moment bc it was one of the happy memories we will have of our first meeting... while talking logistics the kids kept coming to us with large strips of paper and measuring our heads. They informed us that they were gonna make us king and queen crowns. And that they did. Elva put hot Cheetos on mine since she really likes hot Cheetos and she wanted me to like them too. We kept those crowns on for a long time and I even kept them in an album- minus the Cheetos bc that would be gross.

I can't say that our first meeting was everything I had hoped it would be. We took them to a golf/go cart/skating/game room place to just play games and break the ice together. There was a lot of awkward times and some less than glorious moments, again we felt like auditioning as parents. All I wanted to say was please like me! I love you and I am really fun! But I just had to take it one step at a time. There are so many more details I could share but for the sake of time and not overloading my server right now I will leave you with just one more paragraph about that first day.

The stress of the day cannot even begin to explain the emotional roller coaster that we went through. How hard it is to stare right at the perfect beautiful two sets of brown eyes you had prayed over and decided to love many weeks before and yet to have those eyes blankly even give you a second glance.  We knew this was going to be hard, and knowing that these two kids are real people with real feelings and real opinions, just made it all that much harder. Robert and I had to trust God and to persevere through whatever doubts popped up around us. We felt like the most nervous babysitters in the world although instead we were pining for these kids to see past all the hustle bustle of the games and see Christs love through our eyes, a love that spoke of future to these kids. Elva is very loving and super creative, Waylon is also creative and smart and just playful boy. Together they are silly and super energetic. We love them. Though their first moments with us were less than a joyful and glorious chaotic happiness, we love them. The real challenge was now to begin... Showing them who we were and that we were there to be parents, to not be a babysitter or cool hang out person who would buy them tokens for game machines, that we simply and plainly love them.
Yes, the real challenge had now begun.

If you have been following us on facebook you know that we will officially be bringing the kids home on December 20th. We are overjoyed to be having them right before Christmas (although they sure are expensive to buy for :) and we are still in need of prayers. Throughout this entire journey we have definitely felt the prayers- keeping us safe on the road to see them, giving us strength to endure every rough patch and every crack in the road, giving us hope through each layer of the process- we have felt your prayers. And while we may fall apart at the end of the day from the stress, it is only God who has helped us stay strong. Thank you. December 20th is coming soon, and I know I have alot more to update this on and it will happen, just give me time to get my words right. Thank you all again for your support!

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an INEXPRESSIBLE and GLORIOUS JOY, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Past is not Our Future

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Let's all give our glory and thanks to the One and only who has given us more than we could ever deserve or ask for. Even in the pit of brokenness and emptiness The Lord continues to provide, it's just us who have to reach out to Him. He is all we need and will never leave us!

Continuing our story...
Once we committed to Waylon and Elva, I just love getting to say their names, we were anxious to get to meet them. However, as most of this adoption process had gone there was still a lot of waiting to be done. Again we called on our Heavenly Father to be near to us as we began a new kind of battle of emotions. Joy is the closest thing I can describe to what we were exploding with for the prospect of our family coming together. And then of course the enemy liked to throw in a little but of terror, fear, insecurity, and doubt. I have been told by many of my mothering friends that even when you become pregnant with your biological children that these are common emotions. So we fought through them and kept our eyes on the Joy, His Joy. Again, there is no way we would be in this amazing position without the touch and powerful move of God. I humbly admit my failures and lesser than holy moments of struggle with the whole pregnancy issue but God wanted to take us to this new place and open up our hearts to such a love we had never considered.  No I don't think adoption is for everyone and that's hard to say just knowing how many kids there are in the foster care system (and there is always more than enough waiting parents for newborns) but the kids that get pushed to the side and remain in foster care need a home.  A real home. But not everyone is called or cut out to be that family which is where the American church needs to step in and those families help support the foster system and connecting families that are called to adopt to those orphans. All that to say, this is no light matter. Adoption is hard. Adoption will test you physically emotionally and even mentally (are we sane to do what we are doing?), but it will also test your marriage and the strength of your closest relationships. It will test your faith and I honestly don't see how anyone without a strong faith (be that one that is growing in Christ, not my strength but His) can pursue this life.

These are the sacrifices and tests we are willing to endure... Bc Christ has given us the ability.

So in order to see the kids and begin the process of having them come into our lives forever we had to get the file. Every child in foster care will have a file. It's got their entire life history in there and it's a requirement for this type of program for you to see before you are given the next green light. What was frustrating for us after seeing their picture and laying down our lives to The Lord in commitment to them, was we had to wait several weeks to get the file. Talk about driving me crazy up the wall! Again I think I bugged HollyAnn relentlessly if she knew when they were sending us the file. After most of October, we finally got the news that the file was in route to our house. Woohoo!

The funny thing is that none of our family knew at this time that we had selected our kids so when the file came to our house and our little bro was playing with Sadie I kind of laughed bc we had to wait till he left to open it up. October 17th was the date, the cd was final in our grasp, the file that would tell us everything about their history, everything about why they had been taken from their family, and everything since then. I popped the CD in my computer... The whizzing started. 5 minutes later the file popped up. 980 pages of a PDF file.

980 pages.

It was 8 o'clock when I started reading and reading and reading, started crying, read some more, would stop to catch up Robert (I read faster), blow my nose here, read some more, went through emotions from anger to sadness to relief to despair and back again, kept reading, 10 pm, 11 pm, 12 am, kept reading, I felt like I was covering the most important textbook ever given to me in one night, nothing would have kept me from finishing every single page. I didn't want to miss one thing, I was essentially reading my kids life story instead of getting to see it firsthand. I even get emotional writing this bc I know that there is 6 and 8 years of their life that I will never get back. Every medical record, CPS file, police report, doctors visit, everything was in that file. I finally finished it at 1 am. All I could do was sigh and pray. God, this is their past. This is what they have lived through. All these years we can't get back, but how I thank you for taking them from this and allowing them to be redeemed. Their past is not our future, God.  We have new life in you as Born again Christians, how much more will these children have a new life by coming into our home. God we are scared but so are they. Give us all the direction and the peace in your name, Amen. 

The details that were in the file will remain there, for they are not important anymore. Yes there will come a day that we may have to show it to them, but I pray God will wipe all the memories away. I praise The Lord for keeping them safe. They are healthy, smart (maybe too smart), creative, and playful children, but they are also broken, damaged, and hurt. The emotions and blueprints from their past don't disappear in a day so we know that there will be tough days and good days and necessary help from outside sources but it's all worth it. I will say that our children, praise The Lord, were never exposed to physical abuse as far as we can tell, but other abuses have tainted their little souls until God can provide them full healing which I know will come one day.
It all will be ok, one day.
They will be part of our family, one day.
And one day, they will trust The Lord with their lives. That will be the best day.

Thank you for everyone's support. We are truly blown away and overwhelmed as things are now moving faster than ever. Through His graces we will bring these kids home soon.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This by the way is mine and Roberts favorite verse :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Day that Changed Our Lives

There are no words for how scary and exquisitely excited I am to write this post. I know you want to skip down to the bottom to catch the BIG NEWS but please read everything first.

God is wonderful. His timing is perfect. His love reaches beyond our wildest imaginations and beyond the depths of the deepest ocean. It is through that love that He has led us to this amazing point in our lives...

On September 26th I was having a tough day with the whole waiting thing. I was getting extra anxious that we weren't getting any profiles or any names or any steps in any direction for this adoption. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and scream. I prayed hard and shed many tears asking God for another sign, another confirmation (aren't we silly humans, as if He hadn't already confirmed enough for me), that we were doing everything we needed to, that we were going in the right direction. As I was battling my emotions and my faith, I finally came to the end of my rope and surrendered everything to God... Then He answered me (again).
I received two phone calls that night from two different friends that just out of the blue wanted to call and offer encouragement in the adoption process. Thank you God for your presence when we need it most! My anxiety and my jittery heart was instantly calmed from talking to these two women. I began to tell myself that I most likely wasn't going to meet my children this year and that I should just relax and continue to focus on prayer. Little did I know!

September 27th (Friday)
We received The Call that changed our lives. HollyAnn said she had a profile of a boy and a girl, a little on the older side of what we were asking for, and she wanted to know if we were interested.
Ummmm, yes.
I was at work when I got the call, I began to pray and pray, God what if this is it? God we asked you from the beginning to not have to make us say no, but to give us that certainty feeling when we were presented with the right profile. Well, after I got off work I just couldn't help smiling. I called Robert and asked what he thought. All we had were two names, two ages, and a small blurb on their past. Robert and I both felt strongly that this was worth pursuing, that we were feeling enough of a tug to dive deeper into these children's lives and pray for the possibility of a future.

That afternoon, we had the privilege of seeing the first pictures of our son and daughter. We also had to go through the painstaking details of their past and reading the reason for why they were properties of the state in foster care in the first place. While there are so many things that these precious little ones have had to endure, the details are not important because God has led them to our doorstep and we have nothing but the future ahead of us. We took the weekend to pray, consulting some of our most trusted prayer partners, and on Sunday evening, we committed to the children. We knew we were signing up for the love and safety and security of these precious beings but also for the tears, the fears, and the pain from helping them overcome their past and accept the life and future ahead of them. But no matter the risks and no matter the uncertainties, we were ready to jump head first into their hearts, into God's arms.

I am delighted to take you now on a new journey with us... the journey to and through our parenthood.

So without further ado, I proudly announce that we are adopting a little girl, Elva age 6, and her adorable brother, Waylon age 8.

Pictures say a thousand words, but we arent ready to release their picture on the internet just yet. There are alot of fears with adoption and we want to keep these kids safe for the time being until they are officially ours. The plan is, we will have them before Christmas. Then they stay with us as our unofficial children for 6 months and then we can officially adopt them. This will be a fun and trying time for us, but our hearts are open and ready, what more could we ask for :)

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1Corinthians 13:3-4

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sometimes We are Called to Wait

Following our adoptive training in April/May, we were pleased to finally be able announce to our family and friends about the adoption. After we surprised our family, we knew we had to tell our "other" children asap... the youth group. They mean so much to us that it was important for us to include them in being some of the first to know. We wanted them to know that we weren't going to abandon them for our new children, but that we wanted their help and their support as they will be like big brothers and sisters to our kiddos. They were excited to say the least... and they requested we get Mexican kids... will keep that in mind :)

So the word was now out and I felt like I was stripping away my soul for the world to stare at nakedly. Of course I was expecting the obvious questions to come creeping back in... can you not get pregnant? Have ya'll been tested? What if you do get pregnant? I bet you will get pregnant after you adopt... bla bla all that. And you already know my stance on those questions and comments... I dislike them heavily. Adoption is a calling, not a form of fertility treatment. and Adoption does not mean that someone failed at pregnancy. But I gritted my teeth and answered them with as much grace as I could bc I knew that somehow through this process God was going to get the glory and I certainly didn't want the focus to be on myself. And I will state it again as it is the most important thing to remember through this journey... My life is nothing without Christ and the path He has chosen to lead us down is the path we never want to stray from, no matter the good, the bad, the hard, the joys, the tears, the pain, God has made a way and it is through HIS strength that we follow His lead in our lives.

Ok now thats cleared up... to continue:
It was a very joyous and nervous time for us to share our news with the world. As we answered questions and told the same story over and over again I just prayed that people would see that God was working in our lives. We were told that we were now just waiting for paperwork to finalize (our Home Study which turned out to be a 15 page report on our lives and family) and then to find the right profile. When I say profile I mean the small blurb of detail about a child or group of children that you have to decide if you want to pursue them or not. In May to June we received only 2 profiles, one of a sibling group of three kids and one of a sibling group of two. Each profile carried something that just didn't seem right for us. I never thought saying no to a picture and some names would be so hard, like I was throwing these kids in the garbage. Knowing that each little smile was looking for a family, but also knowing that I wasn't right for them. It was a tough emotion to swallow.

It was then, after spending much time in prayer and saying no to those two profiles that I decided that this was going to be the hardest thing we have ever faced in our young lives. I prayed a very specific prayer to God, and one that I know He will honor. I asked Him to spare us from having to reject and turn down any amount of children (bc lets face it, they aren't profiles but actual children's lives) and that when we opened the right profile that we would know without a shadow of a doubt that we were to pursue these kids. Essentially I was asking him to not give us any profiles except The ONE that He knew was waiting for us. Oh how sometimes God gives us our prayers directly as a blessing, but also as a curse.

I can't say that I'm much of a good wait-er but I was about to find out just how much of a wait-er I was going to have to be. Just as I had the previous year anxiously watched for signs that I was pregnant, I began to watch for the number on my email to change in hopes that one of those emails was a profile. And each time it wasn't, I was so disappointed and sad. I knew God had the perfect timing in His mind, but I also knew that all we needed was that profile and things would change. Poor HollyAnn... she was patient with us... ok with me, as I often texted her "anything new? any word?" countless times, to which she would reply "not yet, this is just how adoption goes sometimes". Grrr. Waiting is not fun. Like a kid waiting for their birthday party to start or for Christmas or candy or something, I have found that I am not good at being still and just waiting.

So many questions, God. How long will we have to wait? How long till we know what their faces look like, what their names are, what they like, dislike, what makes them unique, what does their laugh sound like, what makes them smile, what are the color of their eyes, how tall are they, what do they dream about, what are their favorite things, what foods do they eat, where have they been, when can we bring them home?
Wait. God calls us sometimes to Wait. Good thing is, He is walking through the wait with us.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven...a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prayerfully Consider...

I know it has been awhile and I hate that it has, but when you are tired and working on many projects you just have to put somethings aside for awhile... that being said I haven't gone anywhere :)

Last time I talked about how we committed to the Waiting Child program through our adoption agency, Addy's Hope. The next thing to do was to fill out the application. Now I'm putting this in here because again this my healing, releasing the emotions that went along with this process. Essentially filling out this application was the same equivalent to taking a pregnancy test... it was our beginning. The only difference is, when you find out your pregnant you don't get to pick and choose the ingredients for your child. They are part of the combination of genetics between the man and woman... in our case, however, we had a lot of things to consider. After you fill out your name, address, bla bla all that... you come to a section that for our agency said "Prayerfully consider any diagnosis and disabilities that you would accept in your home." Wow. Prayerfully consider... the list was quite large.

So pray we did.

And let me just say, I work as a physical therapist for children and adults of all ages (from birth to 90+)... and I have seen just about every diagnosis and disability that was listed on that page. It was extremely a struggle for me to pick and choose what I wanted, or more so what God wanted in our children. I had the opportunity to do what most parents only hope and pray for... choose the characteristics of a healthy child. Normal parents don't get a say if their child is missing a limb, is bling, deaf, or has developmental delays... but here on this paper we had a choice. I will say that God helped us fill out that page and we prayed over each item specifically. In the end the check marks were done and we moved to the rest of the application... (telling about our family which was easy to do so I won't go on about that).

After turning in our application, it seemed like everything went suddenly so fast. April is much of a blur to me as we began the next phase in our process... TRAINING.
Amidst acquiring all necessary documents and paperwork (yes there is a lot more than just an application), we began training to become adoptive parents. Robert and I with Holly Ann and another couple spent over 30 hours together reviewing the bad, the worst, and the even worse situations that our potential kids could have, most likely did, and definitely experienced from birth to whatever age they come to us. There were a few tears, several awkward moments, and lots of highs in our emotions. This training helped us to see past just a child who may throw a fit or steal or hide or run away... it helped us see the hurt they had gone through and the mindset behind the behavior. I wish every parent could go through this bc if I was having a baby I would feel more ready to understand my child and a little more in the know.
This training covered various levels of abuse, feelings and emotions regarding the abuser and the abused, typical behavior patterns, what not to do and what you need to do, and opening up a world of resources for us to pursue. I feel that this training helped me understand my patients at work better and I now have a different mindset when they get upset or throw a fit depending on their lifestyle circumstances.

30 hours of training... we squeezed it into every spare few hours we had...after work, on the weekends between events, you name it we were training fools. And I appreciate Holly Ann for being so willing to accommodate our schedules but to also not drag out the training over months and months bc after the training we had a lot more things waiting for us and we needed to have our time invested in those things while our hearts were so invested in the adoption.

The technicalities were pretty much over with after the training. We had to have a home study as required by all adopting and foster parents but with Holly Ann it was quite fun having her ask use questions about our marriage, family, our relationship with each other, with other kids, our church, and so on. So we were ready to start looking for our kids... to start seeing faces and reading stories and preparing our home for their arrival... but God had a few more lessons for us to learn first. A lesson in Waiting.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Taking The Next Step

Deciding to move forward with the adoption meant changing several things...going into secret mode which is not fun as we are pretty open and honest with our families and friends... deciding not to start some projects until we knew what we were getting into (like putting down hard wood floors, oh how I wish we could still do this, maybe someday)... and we had to work on our prayer life, our marriage communication, and our relationship with God.

Not that our marriage or relationship with God was struggling, but you have to remember that we had gone through one year of questioning God, having out emotions tugged in every direction, having my hopes and dreams diverted to new hopes and dreams, etc... our communication with each other and with God needed some time to tune up :) I truly appreciate our family and friends who gave us bonding and relationship advice at a time that you may have not even known that we needed it... just goes to show how God works through people when we don't expect it!

So moving forward, taking the next step, we had to choose an adoption agency. I can't tell you how crazy lost I was when I typed in "adoption agencies in Texas" into google... I mean wow I was just overwhelmed. I prayed for direction and then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend at the beginning of the year. I had just shared with this friend how I wasn't going to be having kids because of what God had told me and she immediately started talking to me about adoption if we became interested in adoption (at that time I wasn't sure)... so she mentions to me a friend of hers, Holly Ann Petree, and that I should email her.
Somewhere in my phone I saved her email address and name so I looked her up and her agency, Addy's Hope.

Addy's Hope was founded by John and Holly Ann Petree in memory of their daughter, Addy. In 2004, The Petree's set out to adopt from Sierra Leon, Africa. Addy was in every way their daughter, but contracted Cholera and died before she was able to be given the right help and make it home to her new family. God then lead them down the path to create Addy's Hope in order to help families add to their homes and to save orphans all over the world. Just reading the story itself was enough for God to give me the signals I needed. I contacted Holly Ann in January, but to give us more time to prepare ourselves and our marriage for what was to come, we didn't end up getting to meet with her until March 20th.

I apologize to all my family and friends for the...ummm... little white lies that were told during this time... we had to keep this a secret until we knew what we were up against, and when I had to sneak away to that lunch on that Wednesday, I had to make up some good excuses bc some of you people are crafty and clever, lol!
So we met with Holly Ann and all I could remember was praying "God is this it, is this our agency, is this our path, please give us peace about this and a clear decision!" Holly Ann began talking with us on the different types of adoption, different types that I had never even heard of. We knew we wanted to adopt domestically because Robert has always shared his heart for kids and teens in this state and area. We also knew that we may or may not be able to afford adoption of a baby or infant, but we wanted to know everything. Finding out that infant adoption can be over 30 grand was litterally painful to hear. It just didn't feel right to us when she was talking about baby adoption.

Then she mentioned a program where you adopt from children who have been in the "system" for over a year and or have their parental rights terminated. A program called Waiting Child. In this program, the children who shuffle through the foster care system for a year have their parent's rights terminated meaning they can no longer go back to their families for whatever reason determined by the courts, so the child is placed on the Waiting Child List. This means that the child will be at least a year old if not older. There are thousands of older kids who are placed on this list their whole childhood because they are overlooked for younger kids. If the child turns 18 years while in this program (without being adopted), they are adopted out of the system and basically thrown to the wolves of life, wished good luck, but let go without anything. To type this still just breaks my heart for all those children who feel unloved and unwanted enough that they don't get adopted and then they have no stability or family to fall back on. Robert and I have a huge heart for these kids and while we may not be in the position to adopt these older children at our age, we hope to come up with more solutions for their furture... but thats another post :)

We knew this Waiting Child program was for us. And while we had so many questions and uncertainties, we were ready to commit blindly trusting our faith. It was a strong bold step in the right direction towards our future.

If you or anyone has questions about the Waiting Child program or how you can support these children, please email me at fowler1006@yahoo.com.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It Comes Down to that Moment...

The road to adoption... its not a small lane or street... its a highway that spans the country... its a marathon... I know that pregnancy takes 9 months typically, which gives the mom time to prepare for the coming of her child and gives both the parents time to bond... so on and so on. But the path for adoption is a little different.
Not that I'm down playing pregnancy, I have no idea the physical hardships, pain, and joy that the woman's body goes through to become a mother. That being said... just go with me here.

To switch your mindset in such a short time from grieving for the babies you might never be able to carry... finding joy in God's promises despite the hurt exploding in your heart... then you come to acknowledge that you will never get that 9 months of feeling and watching a young child grow in you... to believing that despite all your heart's desires God's desires are much sweeter and beautiful... and then you start seeing this word over and over again and it gives you a little light of hope... you begin to pray and plead for answers... you begin to wrestle with your mind, am I causing my heart to start down a path that I'm creating, or is this really from you, God?... you want it to be real, but you are scared to let your heart get too excited, too caught up in the emotion...still you pray, you confide in the friends that God has placed in your life for guidance and counsel... you have to decide, how do I tell Robert?... it comes down to that moment, when it seems that He let go of your hand and He has forgotten about you...He shows you His goodness, God confirms your heart... He confirms that He wants you to pursue Adoption, or more that He is allowing you the joy and chance of still being a mother...and so you tell your husband, your best friend, your soul mate, that although you have dreamed of carrying his child, God has given you a new heart... to be a mother to the motherless, the orphans, the ones loved by God, but shunned by the world... and your heart spills out with a new kind of joy, a new kind of hope, and a strange seed of love that you know will grow and grow.

Then comes the decision to tell people... I have always imagined telling people that I was pregnant... but honestly, this was better. Yes, there were questions again (getting tested, knowing why, are we sure?) but we knew... and we felt God leading us every step of the way...

And the road wouldn't stop there... finding an agency... taking the next step to commit to the process... entrusting yourself and your future to someone you barely know... praying and praying and waiting and waiting... filling out paperwork that asks impossible questions... praying over the paperwork... sharing more news... answering more questions... praying and praying and crying and praying... dreaming and letting your mind just wonder... training and taking the classes that address the hard stuff, the things you may not have ever wanted to consider... grieving for a family that was broken... knowing that the ones you are ready to fall in love with may not understand or be ready, or be able to accept your love... praying for your children, whom you have never met, never known their names, and never even seen their faces... praying for their future, for their salvation, for their bonding and attachment with your family... and all the while waiting and praying and waiting and praying for the next process, for the next step, for their names, for their faces...

Oh yes, the road has been long, and no its not over. We still wait for the day we will know who our previous children may be... but we will pray and wait as long as we have to.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A New Page...A New Path

Moving on from the realization that our dreams had just taken a drastic change was hard at first, but happily peaceful. The most challenging thing was spreading the word to our family and close friends... the people who were pulling for us to be parents and were I think the most in anticipation for us to have kids. I can't say thank you enough to those friends who shared in the shedding of healing tears and for all the encouragement that we received. Having to be open and bear my soul out loud instead of keeping my "secret" inside was harder than you know. Still harder was all the times that I was asked "when are you going to have kids?" to which I would have to decide do I share the whole truth or just my simple answer of "whenever God wants." The truth was that I knew God was telling me that I had to trust Him and if He ever wanted to decide to give me kids, then it would be from Him and He would show me the way. I had to learn to die to my self (my desires, my wants) daily, and to pick up my cross (trusting in Him) and follow Christ.

And follow Christ is what I strove to do.

Naturally when someone is tested for or has an experience of infertility their mind drifts towards other ways to have children. Personally, (and this is just my opinion and what I know is right for me) I do not believe in artificial insemination or fertility treatments or the like to become pregnant. It just seems unnatural to me and not something that I feel God has called me to do. That being said, I had many questions about what we were gonna do next to create or obtain a child. This didn't offend me, but it made me uncomfortable. I still was mourning the loss of the pregnancy that I would never have and didn't want to think about the alternatives at that time.

But one word kept popping up in my mind...


I mean this word was everywhere! On TV, ads on facebook (which are annoying fyi), in articles I read, in the news... adoption was everywhere. You know like when you buy a new car and then all you see on the road is the exact same car you purchased... adoption was everywhere I looked. Robert and I really didn't talk to much about this until I decided one day to go to Mardel and just look at books on adoption. I had heard about a book from a friend and decided to check it out.     Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore
After starting the book I knew it was time to talk to Robert.
Things kept adding up in my mind and through prayer I was given more and more signs pointing at adoption. 

I will never forget that day, a Saturday in the cool winter air of 2012, when Robert and I were pulling up to a local restaurant for lunch. I had felt it was the right time and so I said "Robert, I want to talk to you about something."
He looked at me curiously, but then his expression changed as if God had whispered my thoughts in his ears and he said" Yes we should."
"Yes we should what?" I responded.
"Yes, we should talk about adoption."
Ok, God you must really be in this! After never having said anything to him about it... and he didn't know about the book yet, he mentions it out of the blue :)

So adoption. Could this be the path we would take? The path to a family, to some dream and plan that God had prepared a long time ago for us.

Yes... oh yes it could.

I wish I could quote some things from the book, but I gave the book to a friend. Russell Moore leads the way through he and his wife struggling with infertility, then coming to the decision to adopt, and their journey to adopt two small boys from Russia. He gives advice for families considering adoption or who are in adoption, how to deal with questions, things to consider before making a decision, and the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly about the adoption process. He also relates adoption back to our spiritual adoption through Christ and how important it is for Christians and churches to band together and become better advocates for adoption. I actually would read this book while working out on my elliptical in the morning and one day it brought me to tears so thick that I basically fell off the machine... hidden camera would have won us millions I'm sure. Lol! This book is the place to start if you know someone who is going through adoption or if you are considering adoption yourself.

I will update you more and more on our adoption story in the next few posts. It hasn't been an easy ride, but its one worth rejoicing over :)

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Throughout this journey, God has been merciful. One message that keeps creeping into many sermons that I've heard is that God pursues us in His love. He pursues us... He never gives up on us... He goes after us, no matter how far away we go... He loves us so ferociously that He wants us to have that intimate relationship with Him, so He chases after us... that is the full measure of God's love.
And just when I thought I was barely hanging on and coasting through each day, God was ready to show me how He was pursuing me...

After accepting but not wanting to deal with God's words about my childless future, I fell once again into a mask of "everythings fine". That was until God rocked my world again.

August 2012 brought on a spiritual revival for our church. An amazing evangelist named Dan Bohi was invited to come and speak. He spoke on healing, the power of God, the full surrender to His calling, and God's charge to all Christians. The 2 day revival ended with a time for response. I was having weird mixed feelings throughout the entire revival... challenged by Dan's words...but somewhere disconnected. As Dan called us up to the front for response time, he of course called on the keyboard lady (that would be me) to go and play... little did I know that I would be trapped on stage for 45 minutes all alone. I didn't matter, I was helping with whatever God wanted me to do and He has given me the gift to play the keyboard so I don't mind being used by Him during worship... But I do have a small fear of having to play all by myself bc I'm so uncertain of my playing and not wanting to make a mistake.

God knew that by putting me up on that stage that He would have my full attention. I struggled at first with playing, but was able to eventually let go and let Him lead my hands across the keys... this allowed my mind to become more free and more readily able to hear God's words. Remember the pursuit... God wanted me to know a deeper love, and to get there I needed to pay attention.

Again, His voice rang loud and clear these words...

"Jennifer, I love you and I ask you again. If you never have children, would I still be enough for you?"

Now God? I thought we had been through this, yes of course you would be enough.

"It is not my will for you to have children. Will you trust me?"
Will you trust me...

Somewhere in the midst of playing music, of hearing Dan Bohi's voice, or hearing the prayers and cries of my church family, a hush came over me... you know like the movies when the sound goes blank but theres buildings blowing up next to the actor and chaos erupting but all we hear is silence... that was me.
Just me and God.

And then what God was saying to me finally made sense. I realized that God was telling me my future, a small glimpse at a piece of His plan and promise for my life. And instead of being scared or afraid or mad or angry... I surrendered. I knew that there was nothing more beautiful than God revealing this part of his promise.
And in that surrender, I was also able to fully come to grips with mourning the children I had prayed for and the babies I had longed to carry within me. I decided that night that I wanted to chose obedience and trust. My first act after that night was to sit Robert down (he was not present for the revival as he was in charge of the children's gathering service that night) and I finally opened up to him about what God had told me.

I cried bc I wanted so badly to make Robert a father and to give him the children that we had talked and prayed for. He was so loving and understanding and prayed for me and for our marriage that we would understand. But more than anything we prayed that God's will be done in our lives...no matter what happened...together we surrendered.

God was pursuing a deeper relationship and a deeper commitment for His purpose. He loved me enough to pull me away from the depression and the sadness of longing for a child. As weird as that may sound, God rescued me from my deep pit of selfishness and delivered me to a new world of mystery in His love. Saying yes to trusting God and yes to believing in His words and obedience to His call means knowing that He will pull you through any heartache to the ultimate victory. God said I was not to have children according to His plan, but that didn't mean His plan didn't include happiness.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

When God Speaks... Listen

Early in the summer of 2012, God tried getting my attention the first time.

I had just found out another one of my close friends was expecting a baby. I came home excited and yet defeated. I remember Robert holding me and telling me everything was going to be ok, but I let my emotions get the best of me. That night we went to a prayer gathering at our church (just one night a week of prayer... and only prayer). Satan knew he had me trapped in my emotional "woah is me" state and I began to battle inside. Happiness for my friend and celebration for this new life... yet depression, anger, and sorrow. I've never liked being the Debbie Downer person, but again the enemy knew how to capitalize on the moment and drag me further down the road of despair.
That is until God had had enough.
 I can still remember The Voice, His Voice, and the exact words He spoke to me.

"Jennifer, if I never give you children, would I still be enough for you?"


Was God serious? Of course He would be enough! But what was that first part... surely He didn't mean what he said, I mean I love God and I trust Him, but that word "never" in there seems out of place...
 Yet God did mean what He said and to confirm this He said it again.

 "Jennifer, would you still love me if I never gave you children."

Call it His greatest promise to me or my worst nightmare, either way... He had my attention...
At least part of it. 
Being the good Christian person that I am, I pledged my love for God and my commitment to His calling on my life and vowed to be a happier person around my workplace, friends, family, and church.

The months went on and I do want to say that I was a bit more cheerful around others, I tried to not let my infertility drag me down to depression, but there was a piece inside me that continued to sting and hurt. Mine and Robert's relationship continued as normal, but I wasn't ready to give in to God's words entirely. I continued to hold my breath each month as test after test came back negative. I would try to stay positive on those days, but I couldn't help think that God was whispering His words to me the whole time.

God wasn't being an unloving and hateful or hurtful God like some would think with His words. He knew what was best for my life, He knew the plan He had for Robert and I, and He knew what path our future would take... a path I could never have imagined for myself, but that now I can't imagine not living through.
The pain and the hurt were just a small part of His agenda, and God doesn't like it when we hurt. Just like a mother hurts for her child, our Heavenly Father hurts with us. But just like learning the stove is hot and we shouldn't touch it as a child, we have to learn that a little pain brings about an abundance of blessings. We just have to be willing to withstand the hurt for God to show us the beauty behind it all.

I leave you with another verse...

Hebrews 10:35-36
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Endings and New Beginnings

I realize it has been almost a year since I have written, but sometimes you have to pull away from something until its time to come back. With all that has transpired in my life over the past few months, I can't stay quiet. God has been so faithful and gracious in mine and Robert's marriage and future that its time I use the lessons He's given to help others and provide encouragement for people in all walks of life. Please bear with me as I pour out my heart and the deepest desires of my soul as well as the things that God is continuing to show me daily. This path towards God's plan and purpose for my life has been heartbreaking, breathtaking, overwhelming, and beautiful.

First of all, I am nothing without Christ. My whole life and everything in it is His alone.
Secondly, just bc God may say no to you, doesn't mean that His promises aren't true.

Remember when you were young and you dreamed of your future... go off to college... find the perfect Godly guy... marry him... start a career... buy a house... have children... travel and enjoy your blessings... retire...
And your life starts out that way... I found my man in high school... I went off to A&M... graduated... got married... went to graduate school... started my career... bought a house... and then it came time that we were ready to have children. I honestly hate when people say "once you stop trying to have children and relax you will have them." I don't mean to be rude... but sometimes you don't know what that person is going through or that maybe, just maybe, they aren't able to or meant to have children.

But the desire was still there.

I finally got to the point where the greedy green monster of jealousy and frustration overtook me at every turn. I wanted to be a mother more than anything, but I also wanted what God wanted for my life... unfortunately I tried to make God's will what mine was bc surely what I wanted was what He wanted, right?
I am embarrassed to say how much I began to resent my facebook newsfeed and receiving word over and over about which ones of my friends were pregnant and I wasn't. I love my friends and trust me when I say that I prayed for you all and your sweet children, but my faith was being shaken and I didn't know how my world wasn't playing out how I always dreamed. 

Its crazy how much you can strive to follow God and His plan for you... all the while manipulating "His direction" for your gain. Thats exactly what I was doing and I was letting anger and a depression that I kept denying to reign instead of my gracious Heavenly Father. Luckily, He never turned His back on me. In fact He was trying everything to get my attention. But I chose to ignore and hide behind my wavering faith and act like everything was ok.

This post is getting long and I promise to finish my story and to update all of you on the current status of our new path in life, but I have to get through these rough details and be raw with you, raw with God.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future.