Thursday, August 20, 2015
Saturday, August 15, 2015
We are cruising through Summer and even though I will miss pool days and hot flashes, I am happy to embrace the crisp fall that we Alabamians occasionally get to experience. Football is around the corner and that means Saturdays with fun menus and great family & friends.
Our summer has been busy. It hasn’t been overwhelming, but it has been busy.
I spent last Saturday & Sunday helping my nephew paint his parking space for Senior Year. I loved that he asked me. I was quite honored. It was also, very nostalgic. A few of his classmates were up there as well. I listened to their banter, their flirting, their comfort with one another and I sighed contentedly in the truth that some things in life never change. In my mind’s eye it was 17 years prior, only we were in the gym in April painting huge backdrops for our Junior prom – the guys had baseball games going on and the few of us girls in the gym were sweating like crazy, laughing out loud and sometimes dancing a little to the boombox playing beside the basketball court. We were young, covered in paint, at the school on a Saturday, but we were enjoying the moment.
It was a moment in my life and I’m grateful that I was able to see it as something special before it ended completely. Those kids Saturday took me back to that place (literally and symbolically) and I wish them so much love, luck and hope for the days upcoming – may they enjoy this last year, because there is not another experience like it.
After that it was back to The Castle and well back to normal this week. We have been gearing up for our (Annual) Home Visit next week. The house needs some cleaning and we need to walk through to make sure something hasn’t popped up but other than that we are truly looking forward to the visit with Social Worker “R”. She is really sweet and I know she is praying for us to find someone & their baby who will want to become our family. God has this. His timing. His plan. His joy.
The Duchess moves back to College as well. Cannot believe she will be graduating next year – December 2016. She only has 3 semesters left! She is so excited and nervous and happy and bittersweet. This next few semesters will definitely see new ways of growth with her. She is such a talented and amazing woman; we are blessed to be her family.
The pups are good. Precious, sweet and fun as usual. I cannot wait for them to have a baby in the house. It will be one heck of a transition, but what fun it will be.
I will hopefully be getting my Etsy store up and going to raise for Baby Barr and also to be posting some fun new notecards & such that I have available. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Pray for our birthmother – her health, her family support, her heart, her to know we love her; our future child(ren)-his/her health, our social worker, our finances, our strength, our abilities as parents, our health and for us to be open to God’s guidance…It’s a long list of prayer requests, I know, but He says to speak your heart’s desire and I’m listening to His commands.
2 John 1:6
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Our journey is still ongoing. I could do what I’ve done lately and just tell all of you that we are: Waiting.
It’s true. It’s simple. It’s a condensed version of what is going on behind the scenes. I’ve repeated it over and over again. Shrugging my shoulders, sighing, smiling, almost crying each and every single time I say it. But behind the curtain of those seven letters is a plethora of emotions, fears, anxieties, dreams, hopes, joys and silver linings.
Recently I’ve felt compelled to not blog. To not send updates. To not post that one year has passed by. We are actually about to have our “annual” home visit. This means that they will again come out to our house, inspect it and deem it worthy or not for our future children; a whole year, gone.
In the simplest moments I dwell on that and sadness creeps in, sometimes I let it lay over me. I indulge in the sorrow. For a while I was ashamed of doing so, until one afternoon last week. I had just spoken to someone who was interested in hiring me to do some graphic work – simple designs for some personalized notecards. She was very excited to have a local artist creating these gifts for her friends. I was flattered at her excitement and honored to get to create for her. She told me how many she wanted and I quoted her a price. She asked how long I had been doing this and I simply answered: “I’ve drawn my whole life, but creating for others like this…one year.” She smiled and asked why only a year. Then the story unfolded. I told her of our adoption process, of the journey, of how I even came to have business cards and my items in boutiques around town, of how we are not at our goal but we are still working towards it, of how I hope to be able to do this after the adoption to help with childcare, of the people we’ve met, of the waiting…She touched my arm, smiling as I completed my story and nodding along. Softly she told me “He prepared you all those years you’ve drawn and He has blessed you with great patience. He will provide you a beautiful family.” I teared up and thanked her for her sweet words. We parted and I could not help but cry when I sat behind the wheel to head home.
She was right. He has been preparing me for this for years. Not one year….years. Sometimes He lets me wallow a bit in the waiting, He lets me think about how it feels like we’ve been on this journey too long when really we are on it for the perfect length of time. He lets me wallow because He has faith in me that I will sit up straight in my driver’s seat; I will look to Him and be grateful for the days He has given me. The wallowing becomes a step, a moment needed to get me to the next one. From day one of my life to the moment we hold our child in our arms and as we get to love them forever – each day is perfect in its timing.
So my update is different today. Today I will pull back the curtain and let you in. We have a completed Home Study – completed means that there is a document with our agency that has ALL our information typed up for legalities and approval for the state of Alabama as well as other licensed states. The completed Home Study also means we can apply for grants or be able to list our adoption on grant matching websites for tax deductible fundraising purposes. The agency also has a completed Profile. The profile (as I’ve said before) contains all the pictures, all the moments we want to share with the prospective birthmother – the pieces of ourselves we are giving her, hoping she falls in love with us. Since it is the annual anniversary of applying for a child, we will be updating fingerprints, Child Abuse & Neglect State forms, and the Home visit information. Each a cost, each worth every penny to show the government that we are serious, we are good people and that we desire this child. They have the first payments towards our contract; we still have fundraising to do so don’t be surprised if Art for Adoption, Baby Barr Fundraising pops up on Social Media again – we stepped back a little so that we would not be inundating everyone with our journey. We didn’t want to appear to beg or to be asking too much of those we love – all of you – but we do want you to pray, to support us in your hearts, to give when you can but to love us most of all. Your love will transcend distance and time…this baby has no idea how blessed he/she already is.
We have a room that will be the nursery. Nothing has been done to it yet. They tell you not to decorate completely, or to buy tons of things, again the word waiting takes its place among the process. You may be waiting longer than your heart can handle that empty room. But I’m an artist, a visual being so there are sketches of layouts, of murals, of ideas, of colors, of décor; there are pages bookmarked online, websites scoured, Pinterest pages developed and saved photos on multiple techie equipment. I dream daily of the space we will create for this little one. And for the first time I did buy something for the nursery: two pieces of art from a local artist in Fernandina Beach Florida while on a work trip. I cannot wait to do my own pieces to complement hers and to add to the collection I know we will acquire for our little one.
So that is where we are. Truly.
We are waiting, but not with the chagrin that most expect, we are waiting with open hearts and eyes ready to see the gifts before us. God has blessed us in ways we never thought possible and He continues to do so. We are honored to be on this journey. To be waiting. So now when I say it, I will think of the years He has had me waiting, had me preparing, had me enjoying the view, had me imagining the possibilities and in the moments where I want to be sad, I will work to smile, to appreciate and to enjoy the time He is giving us. He knows that everything will be different soon and that we will need these days to reflect and learn to appreciate a new kind of timing….
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
Thursday, July 16, 2015
For all the heartbreak dreamers waiting for the light,
Looking for just one reason to get through the night,
Every long lost believer caught in the fight,
All the heartbreak dreamers gonna be alright,
-Mat Kearney, “Heartbreak Dreamer”
When music speaks I don’t just listen I devour it, I let it roll off my shoulders, down my back and explode from my toes. It might coerce me into dancing, a simple sway or full on – foot – tapping – body-swishing-arms-above-my-head movement; but neither movement greater than the other; merely appropriate for the emotion it elicits.
My heartbeat adjusts to the rhythms, following the tempo with precision and care. For me, music is a friend, an enemy, a method of worship, a sound to soothe and a sound to ignite. In another life, another history, perhaps I would have been able to create the sounds I enjoy but for now I relish the words. When a new song comes on, I let the music guide me to the singer’s message; his/her broadcast for a world so desperately seeking solace and truth.
There are those who convey opinions, convey political satire and memes meant to discourage or to inspire.
There are those who sing of the loves unrequited, the loves fleeting, the loves everlasting til the end of days.
There are those who sing silly perspectives of a world where laughter is sought but some days rarely recognized – these minstrels seek to make us smile amidst the chaos, to see the fun in the frilly and to champion the idiosyncrasies of a life filled with mysteries.
There are those who speak the Word to melodies so powerful that their drums bring us to our knees as their soft calls of promise remind us of a strength supernatural in nature but only a breath away if/when we need it.
There are those who silence their words of human sound but speak with instruments. They cry out with their passions and fill us with their beauty; classic and enchanting with every tapping key or string pulled taut.
In music I have always found pieces of myself. Stories that turn my mind into an imaginative playground: love, sorrow, joy, hate, compassion, desire fuel my story telling soul. I love the words that the music pulls from me. The scenes that dance along my sleep and fill my eyes when I look out the window; I have always been a dreamer; the kind that sees hope in everything and truly hates to feel despair, to let it creep into my bones and try to break my spirit is my biggest nightmare.
In the song I referenced above Mat talks of the Heartbreak Dreamers, those that have been told or have experienced the despair I’m speaking of. I’ve been that heartbreak dreamer before – believing that I am alone, that no one can see what I see, that in this life I will never amount to more than someone’s secretarial support system – in the daytime, the nighttime and all in between that I will never be more than a name that never sought her potential, that never believed in her purpose, that allowed the opinions of others to become her opinions of herself, and that failed miserably at discovering the light that will get me through the night.
Those days of despair try to come in more often than not. There is darkness in this world that tries to make us believe that we are all just ships in the night, passersby with no direction, no help and no intent to communicate. But the darkness lies. Daily it lies to us. We sometimes decide to buy the lie, convincing ourselves the lie is easier – more palatable – than believing in the light that resides in all of us – the dreamer factor is easier to dismiss. Yet we cannot dismiss it, we must fight to seek it, embrace it and most importantly place our belief & trust in the light. The heartbreak is sometimes necessary to force us to call that dreamer out, to pull him/her from the depths and put pen to paper – put paint to paintbrush – put rhythms to words and life to the instruments in our hands. Don’t give up. We are not defined by our circumstances. In all of us we have choices to make. Choose the music that lifts you, that brings you to levels of potential that you never thought was possible. Choose music with a message – a life giving message. Listen to others as they sing their struggles and realize that they sing to you so that you know you are not alone & that the light is there, just reach for it, turn to it, believe in it and put everything you have towards it. The light will grow, it will shine beyond you and outward to this dark world, piercing another Heartbreak Dreamer and lifting them with your power. Mat is right when he says: all the heartbreak dreamers gonna be alright. Yes we will. We are.
Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Summer is in full swing in Alabama, Independence Day has come and gone and with it the realization that fall is around the corner. This year is already 7 months in. Time, by far, is the most elusive element & I’m not clinging to the days or asking them to slow down, but I am working to enjoy them more. The Fourth was full of Fireflies & Fireworks, bare feet and pool fun. It was a wonderful time with the family celebrating our independence & a birthday or two...I'm so grateful to have the family I have, their support means more than I ever imagined. Every time I see them I'm reminded of various things: our differences, our loves, our sense of togetherness and our deep connection that no matter the argument or difference of opinion we still choose to come together & enjoy each other. We are each just a phone call away and that is something we learn to treasure as this time quickly passes...
This summer has already been full of twist, turns, diagonals and straight lines; all those fabulous directionals that take us headlong into understanding that human control is sincerely an optical illusion.
Recently I had a strange and startling encounter with stress. Yep, stress. Who stresses? I’m sure NONE of us has stress…I mean come on, everyone is polite on the highway, no one ever gets aggravated with electronics and every single day my hair does exactly what I want it to…yeah…that’s not true. BUT I did have an encounter. One scary enough that for about 48 hours of intense testing/doctor/ER visits I discovered that breakdowns, heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and migraines can sometimes be just a speeding-through-downtown-red-light-running-gotta-get-there-fast nano second away. So yep, I have another doc that will be seeing me and helping me learn how to deal with stress. I always thought I dealt pretty well, I mean in our household I am the least “appearing” stressed and I rarely “lose it”. Guess what? Sometimes we think we process stress when in reality we hold it in. If you are like me, you don’t always even realize that something is stressing you out. So yeah, I’m over here trying not only to process stress better but also recognize it when it happens. I was jokingly told this is to keep me from going ‘postal’ or from just becoming a truly “hot mess”. Either way, I want to be able to seek joy in all things and stress keeps me from doing so. I was under the impression that I could control it all and still be just fantastic….forgive me while I step away to laugh so hard my sides hurt….
On the topic of stress, here is our adoption update: we were asked to turn in a couple more documents this week that will help in making everything match up in case we are selected by someone from another state. It was a lot of letters written by highly influential people who state our well-being is under their observation or under their care…so when I do stress I can blame them right? Eh, it was worth a try. Seriously, we got everything turned in and are now… WAITING. Join us, won’t you? Sing the song of our people “We are waiting, we are waiting, we are waiiiiiiiting for some news! It seems forever and forever, forever we wait here. We are qui-et-ly waiting for some news. Please tell us, please tell us, please telllll us what you know. We are waiting, we are waiting, paaaa-tiently we know.” (kind of to the tune to “Oh My Darl’n Clementine – Side note: anyone ever read the entire lyrics to that song? Morbid…yikes) Well you get the idea. I should add a long verse on the praying too…”we are prayyyy-ing every day!” There is truth in these words. Prayer would be an important verse.
We do please ask that you keep us in your prayers, our birthmother and our future child(ren). We all need your support and are already so grateful for everyone sending us such love. Right now we hope that someone will love our profile book. What is a profile book, you ask? Well it is a book that answers a ton of questions for these women who are selecting which family to give the ultimate gift. It has photos, stories about our past, plans we have for the future, uplifting areas to make sure she knows how much we already love her, pictures of our furbabies and of course stories about all of you! Yep, you are in there, our village, our family, our friends all get a part of this book. It’s a very pretty, colorful, thick, bound book that she will flip through; hopefully she loves us and seeks to share a life. If not it’s okay too, really it is - if we can just send her any love, any support, any example of God’s grace then we have done something good. Again, this is out of our hands now...we have no control and we accept that He will know best.
So the theme of today....control. We all believe that on our own we can take charge, we can make all the choices, and we can face everything on our own merit. We may not think it all the time, but for sure we think it more than we should. We get complacent, we feel like everything is working out great, that we are the ones who got us where we are and for those of us that do this I’m wagging my finger at you and most assuredly at me! I do it. Everything gets going well and I fail to be grateful, I fail to stop and just give thanks or stop and just enjoy the blessings for a moment. He wants us to draw near always – the good, the bad, the in between – to seek His guidance and to acknowledge Him in ALL things. I stopped and spoke to Him when everything went a little haywire a couple weeks back. I went in for an ear infection – came out with Pleurisy and a little heart issue…it was sombering to just tell Him I love Him, to thank Him that there was no embolism, to thank Him for the doctors who quickly saw to my care and to be grateful that breathing wasn’t a chore. Yes, it scared me. Yes, it took my breath away (literally). But it found something we didn’t know was there, it has since forced me to process life differently and in those moments of fear, where control is most fleeting, I leaned…I leaned on His word and I remembered that I don’t have to understand, I just have to trust, to believe and to love. Peace is something that often comes at the strangest moments and mine came after a Contrast CT, as they removed the IV from my arm I felt it…He was there, I wasn’t alone and no matter what everything will be as it should…patience, I heard…timing is important, I remembered…promises are true, I accepted…He knows me…I am Fearfully and Wonderfully made…in my relationship with Christ I can release control and know that the outcome will be way better than what I ever could imagine…
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”Matthew 19:26
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
We are waiting.
We have sent the necessary documentation to our social worker – it is truly out of our hands for awhile.
We are waiting.
We know that God already knows our birthmother, that she is loved and that we pray for her daily.
We are waiting.
It has now been one year since we began this process.
We know that it can take much longer than it already has.
We are waiting.
We understand that most people think it can just be a snap your fingers, select a child and move forward process – it rarely is.
We are waiting.
We continue to pray daily for guidance, for strength and to trust His timing.
We are waiting.
We continue to fundraise, save and plan for this child and our family.
We are waiting.
We trust that God’s timing is perfect; this journey is one of His greatest blessings and lessons about who we are.
We are waiting.
We are grateful to every single day that we get to wake up, believing in God’s promises.
We are waiting.
It is a blessing that we have all of you praying, thinking, giving and loving for this child.
We will wait, we will see, we will rejoice.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Monday, March 16, 2015
It’s never easy reaching for something that you desire so desperately, especially when you are just beginning to understand that desire…
No process, no journey is without bumps. Some bumps appear to set you back, to take you further from your goal but I’m learning that there is no ‘further from our goal’. God is not arbitrarily extending the time it takes for us to grow our family. He has perfect timing. He knows our needs and He is already worked them out. We have held two fundraisers, attended a festival as a vendor, had an art gallery showing and have been saving, building and creating towards the child He has picked out for us – all just under 11 months.
Every bit of baby “B” raising/saving goes into the costs of the process. I had someone recently ask where are the monies going, how much have we raised, how does it get separated out, aren't we further along in the process, how it works…at first I was taken aback, not understanding their tone – "Where do you think it goes?" Was the answer I started to reply, but then I remembered…almost one year ago, I had similar questions. We did not know a lot about this process when it all started. We just knew we wanted a baby, a child, a person to add to our hearts – because somehow, some way, God makes us capable of loving in great amounts – He takes what seems to be a little part of us and shows us what a true infinity means, we can love with great intent. So I took a breath, and I answered the question, truthfully, technically and spiritually.
All of our fundraising monies goes to the fund that will, and already has some amounts paid to our agency (our home study fees, medical fees, profile fees and application fees to start with). The total contract is around $36,000.00 when everything is said and done. There is a variable – court costs can vary, travel costs can vary, possible medical fees for the child/birthmother can vary – but all in all that is our fiscal goal. This goal is important. In this world, money is needed to exchange hands, no matter how you enter this process (government or private) there will be a number you will have to raise/save. We understand that and put emphasis on its importance, yet I’m seeing that the numbers are there to draw us in, to focus us, He uses this so that we have a tangible. He knows that as humans, we look for the tangible, but He desires for us to see the other goal…
Our real goal, the one that will change our lives, change his/her life, maybe even change yours, is something that has no numeric – it is a heart, infinite in its power and beautiful in all aspects. We hope to have a heart like our savior. It is our end goal, this process; this adoption is because He called us to be here today. He laid out the groundwork, He saw the path and He placed the desire in our hearts. We never knew how desperately this desire would feel, but I felt it when I was asked the tangible question – I was defensive, but not of the context of the question – more of my emotions. Then, as I said, I remembered being uneducated in the ways of the process, being curious and skeptical of the way it is all done…then…I answered. It was truthful, full of numbers, dates, and the fact that it all goes towards the contract with the agency – none of it comes back to us, none of it will be sitting there waiting for baby girl/boy when they come home – but we are okay with that. They tell you to get your friends/family involved – this is, for us especially, our “pregnancy period”. I love that my children will have a village who not only asked the odd question, asked about artwork, asked about buying raffle tickets, buying cooking utensils or just asked for any form of an update purely because they are excited to meet our child, that they are anxious to meet our child – what a beautiful ‘family’ he/she already has & no one has even been introduced yet. We are so grateful for every monetary donation but even more so we are beyond the limits of gratefulness for the support, love and prayers of each & every one of you. That is the intangible and it fills my soul knowing that my answer might have helped someone see the process as daunting but possible – meaning they may one day start their own or share the information with someone too scared to ask…what a gift He has shown me that this process can provide. I am grateful for every day that this desire grows...
Be truly glad, there is wonderful Joy ahead… 1 Peter 1:6
And so it was…that she, having waited long & endured patiently realized and obtained what God had promised. Hebrews 6:15
Monday, January 26, 2015
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go, He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3:5,6 (The Message)
It’s been a few weeks. The world has turned a couple times. Newsfeeds have been full of resolutions, changes, stagnancies, deaths, births and all the events that define the lives we are living. Each day I peruse the various social media outlets that I enjoy. Instagram is my favorite – the pictures, quotes, ideas; behind it is Pinterest – there is nothing like seeing so many neat ideas, cool places to visit and recipes to indulge in; then there is Facebook – photos, articles, pictures, videos ; each one gives me various levels of happy. There are things that I have to scroll past, the articles about children being murdered, abused; animals mistreated and left to die; negative comments that pull me into a cycle of sadness and anything that causes me to be judgmental or harsh. I work hard to keep those things at bay.
I’ve learned and accepted that I am truly an introvert. That being said – if I have struggled with small talk with any of you, please know I do apologize and that it is also something I work on daily. I’m beginning to embrace the emotional parts of being an introvert, the deep connections that I attach to ideas, stories, people, pets and moments. It can be exhausting how emotional I get over things, but I love that stoic is not in my demeanor. Granted the fact that stoic usually associates with no complaining (I do complain – again it falls on the beautiful long list of work in progress personality traits) would be good – but enduring each hardship and pain without showing my feelings is definitely not my way.
All of this is to preface my current state of mind. I’m overwhelmed by the emotional difficulty I’ve had with our profile that we must create for our birthmother. Yes we answered 2000 questions and have written autobiographies. Yes we are doing physicals, bloodwork, house adjustments and mental shifts throughout this process. Yes we are fundraising, praying for financial supernatural blessings from God and doing all we can to financially provide for this process. All of that was and is draining, emotional and self-explorative – but this, this 30 page profile is the largest boulder I’ve encountered. I hit the wall with it a few weeks back. I was easily placing photos of Stable Boy M, Duchess K and myself. Great photos, candid shots, funny shots, silly shots…I was writing blurbs about our life, our interests, some repeated from the autobiographies, some not then it happened. I printed a copy. I held it in my hands and burst into tears. These pages, these pictures are our “Sell Packet” our “Romance Copy” the information shewill hold in her hands. She will look at this and see us – this family that is desperately wanting to be a part of her family, to raise the child she is already so terrified to be carrying. I cannot imagine how she feels, I cannot even begin to think about how I would be, how I would see these families laid before me. I wept for her. I still do when I think about this in detail. I know that God will guide us both: me to complete this and her to love us. I trust in Him with every part of our adoption. I rely on Him with every nuance, every emotional high and low – He is my comforter. I repeat these things often and here I am typing them, because writing is part of His process He gave me to share my life and my emotions.
I’m writing this to ask you to pray for me as I complete this packet for her. Pray that Stable Boy M and I find the words, find the way to portray who we are, to maybe give her the tiniest smidge of comfort during this time and that she somehow, some way, feels that we love her and that our request to be a family is genuine and full of all the best we have. Thank you all for keeping up with our journey, for loving us so much and for reminding me daily of the support system we have – I pray that somehow your support of us is extended to support her in this time. We will keep moving forward and excitedly work towards the family He is providing...
“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.”