Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Faith Moved Mountains, Pt. 2 – There is no limit to what God can handle

Job 11:7 Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?

I hate to say it but we all tend to attempt to push the limits of God. We test Him even when we don’t realize it. We box Him in and then we find ourselves standing on top of a Mountain when we began in the depths of a Valley.

We were overcome with giggles that night. What you all don’t know is we had just decided to place our home on the market. Only one week, to the day, prior we had sat down with our realtor and decided to push the button. For 3 years we had hemmed and hawed over this decision. M was terrified that wrapping the monies we had so carefully set aside for a child would be hindered by the things to be ‘fixed’ within the house or that refinancing may be better or what if we can’t find a new home in the financial realm of our reality? I am the ultimate optimist when it comes to what God can do in these situations. Now, as you know, days of lows can easily seep in – but on the whole my optimism (dreamer mentality as M calls it) outnumbers the down days every year. So there I sat a fabulous Bistro in Tuscaloosa assuring my husband that everything would be fine. God has this. 
Then the realtor asked “What about the adoption?” 
we looked at each other and said “It is what it is.We have been in a holding pattern for years now and its time we just let Him truly have it all and know that we will be equipped to handle whatever He gives us because He will be in it.” 
She smiled and said ‘Okay, we will get the house staged, photos up and on the market on 10/31.” 

We continued our conversation, we also mentioned that in August of 2016 we had pre-paid and booked a BIG trip for the Duchess’ graduation for the first week of January 2017, again, something we had hesitated over in case a baby came – but we needed to do this – Duchess deserved the 10 days in Hawaii and we were taking that leap, asking about the limits He might have.

So, that night, when everything was an option; we sat staring at the home we have loved and lived in for 10 years. We laughed. A lot. We had already started boxing and shifting things and now…there was a glimmer,  a spark, that could make this transition as chaotic as any transition we’d ever experienced.

The next day was research. 

I called my Alabama Social Worker to get details about the Bama side of things. When you go through domestic adoption, you learn a great deal about terms like: ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children – basically the rules/laws of adopting a child from one state to another). Social Worker R was at a conference and I couldn’t get her immediately. The OCD crazy planner in me went into FULL SWING. Google, praise Jesus for Google, was my training on Nebraska lawyers. Now, Village, you need to know that as in all things God was there – even for the tiniest of things, the internet searches. The first firm that popped up sounded nice so I called. Sweet as they were, when I mentioned their experience with ICPC….they said “What is that?” I politely told them and they said “No, we only do adoptions within state lines.” On their recommendation I googled the Nebraska Bar Association. Guys, Nebraska is not highly populated, but there are BUNCHES of lawyers. I filtered to ones who specialized in Adoption, then the Holy Spirit didn’t whisper He kind of nudged my  heart. I wanted a female. I cannot explain it, but I did. Our Alabama lawyer is male and he is fabulous; but something led me to female. So I filtered. What is funny is that one of my cousin’s first name is the same first name of the lawyer that first popped up. In my sleep deprived, excited, full of hope logic that meant she was the one. Guys, she was. I happened to choose a woman who helps write Nebraska adoption laws, who is one of the most revered adoption attorneys in the state. After speaking for over an hour with her assistant I was convinced that if this was to happen, she was our lawyer.

Now for the fear factor: You see the lawyer cannot contact the birthparents – that would be solicitation. This lawyer would be representing the birthparents through the process (adoptive parents must cover the costs, but this lawyer is there to protect the birthparents from any shenanigans and to insure the ICPC is properly filed and distributed back to the receiving state.) So, the fear resides in the fact that the birthparents must willingly go to the lawyers’ office, tell them why they are there and then begin the paperwork process of giving their child to someone else. We feared they wouldn’t go, that this was a hopes dashed situation. When you guard your heart for so many years and you hear the “they went another way; they changed their minds; they didn’t choose you; I’m sorry it isn’t going to happen” 41 separate times in the past years fear is standard operating procedure. We also were praying for their peace and comfort, that the birthparents would be able to find the peace that only God can give and that whatever the outcome the child would be born, would be born into a place of love and that God would have His opportunity to bring more than just a child into the hearts of all involved.

Armed with my information I touched base with my cousin. This was Thursday. I gave her the information of the attorney for the family to contact. She passed everything along. Then Friday happened, then Saturday, then Sunday and on Sunday evening she and I discussed the fact that she had not heard back from them since the previous Thursday. I didn’t let me faith waiver. We prayed. We talked and I chose not to let M know that they had been radio silent for the past 4 days. I wanted to protect his heart. He excitedly talked every day about “our baby girl” and I couldn’t shatter that with unknowns. Monday came and went. No response. Tuesday came and went. No response. It was another Wednesday when the update came. My cousin called: “Courtney, they still want to go through with it. They still want to give you the baby. They are meeting with the attorney on Friday. She has a doctor’s appointment at 3 p.m. then they go to the attorney at 4 p.m.”

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.

I had basically told M that everything was fine up until that phone call. I remember stepping outside my office. I walked to a tulip tree beside the side window and sat on the dirt. I dialed his number. I had been shaking, crying even when he answered but I dried it up and asked “So you still want to be a daddy?” He said “Yes! Did they meet with the lawyer?” I told him the details and he got emotional as well. We talked and talked for about 20 minutes over the details. Then he said: “You need to tell Duchess, first, before anyone else, make sure she knows.” I hung up the phone and walked to the opposite side of the building. I made the call. “Duchess, are you ready to be a big sister?” I have no idea where she was in that moment, no idea what she had been doing but the emotions coming through that phone were unmistakable. She got emotional then the questions came – we had told no one details at all, we had asked some family and friends to pray, that mountains were moving, but no one but those involved knew the story. I gave her everything. In that moment, sharing it with her was one of the highlights of our journey.

Back to waiting for Thursday to come and go; our sweet Princess was due to come into this world exactly one week from that Thursday. I could barely work. But I did. I even began preparing some work related things just in case she delivered on time and I would possibly be out the next weekend. That Thursday night we worked on packing more things in the house. Our home was stacks of boxes, crates, furniture to sell, to pack, closets to go through, everything. We were still set to stage and sell by 10/31. It was 10/13. We had plenty of time. ;o)

Friday morning I was a mess. Just antsy and waiting to hear how the day would go. Praying incessantly that God would comfort our hearts, that if this baby was to be ours that these birthparents would go the appointments and that we would have an update in the evening.
Remember that sense of humor I mention often in my posts…..yes, God’s timing is better than what we could imagine.

Next up: Pt. 3 – prepare for timing and you prepare in vain, just let His timing be what it is: amazing

Get ready, Village, I've finally taken the moments, pulled the notes that I wrote while it all happened and penned the parts up to the present...so here they all come....

As much as you want to plan your life…God has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Faith MOVED Mountains Pt.1

Oh, sweet Village...Mountains move. They move, they dance and they proclaim.

The last time I posted it was a mere 3 days prior to the birth of our daughter. Yes, our beautiful, perfect, lovely, cherished, adored and fabulously fun daughter.

We asked for prayer. You delivered.
We asked for faith. You delivered.
We asked for peace. He delivered
We asked for blessings. He delivered.

We are still reeling, still jolted awake in moments of disbelief and humility. God delivers, every time.

She was not in the package we imagined. She was not from the state we thought she would be.
She was not anything that we thought she would be...she is more. He never short changes our blessings. He never skimps on His miracles. Even in the seemingly mundane He produces magical results.

Because you are a part of this story, we wanted to give you the details...so here is Part 1

As some of you now know, on 10/7/16 we were contacted by a cousin* of my mother. She knew of a young couple who were pregnant and were discussing placement of their child. She knew this because her husband was cousins to the birthmother.

(* this lovely cousin of ours, she and I had connected months before. Her family was going through a tough season of loss and well, honestly, M and I had so many rejections during 2015 and the beginning of 2016 that when me and our cousin met up we just gave each other exactly what we needed: sounding boards of faith and support. Little did we know the things that God had already set in motion, the behind the curtain plotline that God knew so well)

So she had known that this couple was pregnant, but in God's beautiful timing, He had not yet laid it on her heart to even mention us. She was just doing as He asks and praying for them. Then around month 7-8 she heard more of their discussions were seriously leaning towards placement. It was in the end of September only a week or two before she ever spoke to us that the Holy Spirit whispered to her 3 little words: I know someone. As this couple, this family of her husbands were all seeking guidance, seeking the hows the whens the whos of what they might do for this beautiful child that they love so much...He whispered, she listened, then she spoke.

We, by the way, have no idea of any of this. It is scenes of our life that He had orchestrated, He had designed for us to not know until exactly the moment He knew we were ready. I had just told a close friend that her words of encouragement were now my mantra. For 7 days I spoke these words every day, I cried them out as I drove home in the evenings and they were on my tongue every morning: I am ready to be ready when called. Christine Caine had spoken the words "you must be ready to be ready when called" at an event my friend had attended. She had prayed those words over me. I hadn't even really been asking for prayer for the adoption, it was actually for another life event that I had seeked her guidance on. But God was there, as He always is; His infinite wisdom fusing together the words I needed in a box I least expected. So there I was just realizing that I had been believing a a lie that I wasn't ready for all He had in store and had just become a believer in myself and how He had equipped me when BAM! God says hello in a big way....

My cousin calls, its 10:29 p.m. We just watched a movie and were getting a drink for the ride home. We stopped to call my cousin in the Captain D's parking lot...she could barely get the words out after some small talk..."I don't want to get y'lls hopes up or anything. But, um, okay...so *my husband* cousin is pregnant and they are talking about giving it up for adoption. And well, I told them about you...and um, I wanted to see if y'all were interested first, I mean before I tell them more about you. I mean they know about you...but not KNOW about you yet. So, yeah, are you...interested?" I will not lie, I laughed a little. M was watching me on the phone, hearing only one sided words...he was baffled. I told her of course and to please let me know what happens after she talks to them and that was it. We hung up.

M sat beside me as I laughed. No joke, Village, I laughed. It was so...Godly. He loves these moments I believe. The moments where He gets to catch us off guard, set us on our heels a little, astonish us with moments of conversations - no fireworks, just intimate conversations that were orchestrated by His perfect planning. I began to relay the words to M. I watched his face, the intent listening that shifted to concern, then hope, then excitement. It was infectious. We sat there for about 5 minutes just believing. We talked immediately in postives: Ths is going to be our baby. This is it. God has this. This is amazing. Then we shifted to the holy crap...what do we do? Well we prayed. Yep, we sat in the truck and prayed. We got home and sat in the truck, staring at our home, laughing randomly and just holding hands...talking out loud about the possibility of what might happen...Then we excitedly went to bed and slept...dreaming of could be moments and possibilities....

Then it all goes haywire....

NEXT POST WILL CONTINUE THE STORY of BABY EVERLEIGH...

I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.
Mark 11:23

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If Faith can move mountains...

10/12/16

Let the mountains move.

We are waiting...as we always seem to type. This time though, my words are heavy with prayer and petition and thanksgiving. God has laid a hope on our hearts that has surpassed all the rest so far in this journey. We know that He goes before us, that He is fighting our battles, that He promises good things, that His plans are good and that trials/tribulations are to be seen as perseverance and a favor to God, for endurance brings us closer to Him with every passing moment/day/year.

This week we are asking our prayer warriors to please lift up our journey. To lift up the birthmother and child that God has chosen for us. He knew their names, He knew their birth dates before we even existed and we are believing in His infinite wisdom and timing.

We know that He has prepared for us, for these days and for all that we desire. We know that faith can move mountains and mountains are moving whether we see them at this moment or later.

We are lifting our eyes, our hearts to the Lord of all Creation. He knows what we desire and His promises are true. This day, this week we are praying the following verses & we invite you to please pray these for any situation you are encountering in life right now:

Deut 31:8

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Exodus 14:14

The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

2 Chronicles 20:12-17

Be not afraid, or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but Gods. You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord.

Romans 8:37

In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Zech. 4:6

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’, says the Lord of hosts.

We welcome your prayers and know that we are praying for you all. Our Village has been such an important part of all of this journey and continues to be so. Know that we love you all.

With love.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Celebrating Faith

I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken – Acts 2:25

 

There is something about good news. It isn't just the obvious - the good part, it's beyond that. It's the acceptance and the celebration and the reality of the news...the truth of it.

 

We received a text from a sweet set of friends who know our adoption journey well. They know it not because we've told them but because their journey has been so similar. I was on the rocker watching a favorite Friends episode when the text came across. 

 

A picture of a beautiful baby girl and a message following introducing us to the newest member of their family. Their secret was out. 

 

The tears came first. I wept. I smiled and laughed out loud. I then responded sharing in their joy & utter adoration of their new daughter.

 

My mind flickered, trembling a bit for a moment as it recalled the day’s message at church. Our pastor spoke on faith. On continued faith. The faith we all speak of but sometimes let slip. I've let it slip. I've let the waiting, the time and the expectations of my own heart cause it to slip. God hasn't caused it. I have. He's been doing what He does and He's been doing it perfectly. I'm the anxious one, the one giving a time table, end date and expectant result. Our pastor spoke about those time tables, the ones we create and how the humor in the Word reminds us that His time is not like our time & most importantly He isn't going to change that because we get frustrated or petulant or demanding...no, He is the all knowing One. The One who sees ALL the pieces from our beginning and our end and He loves the first piece & He loves the last piece, but I believe He cherishes the pieces in between. He is going to enjoy the closeness that is created as we go to him during the in between.

 

Have you ever looked up the definition of cherish? It's actually perfect for His perspective and a word I personally select in these moments to center myself in His love. 

 

To cherish is to: protect and care for (someone) lovingly; keep a hope or ambition in one's mind

 

synonyms:

Adore, love, dote on, be devoted to, nurture, foster, cling to, possess.

 

In that definition there is no denying the importance of the journey & the presence of God himself. The word itself evokes how He loves us. I can't stop singing His praises because I'm tired of the waiting, it's in the exhaustion I must whisper His name, when the tears roll I must not let walls build I must let them fall away. 

 

It may not always make sense to me, but it doesn't have to- that therein lies sometimes the hardest part to swallow. But we must take our hope and lay it on Him. For He is with us always. He is the best of our good news, He is the answer to every question. 

 

Those sweet friends of mine are celebrating, praising Him today...but it isn't the first time they have, no the good news they shared was good – amazing, beautiful, wonderful even; but the BEST part of their journey is how their identity in Christ evolved when the days were long and the pain ran deep. I cannot imagine how they are feeling - I dream about how we will feel when our day comes and I trust in Him that the date is there, written down and will come when He has deemed it to. 


The good news in this story is beyond overwhelmingly good, it is a heart’s desire, an answered prayer and a million Christmas mornings all in one. So the good news runs deep, it is flooding their every moment and in it, we see beyond just the simple word good and we see best. We see chosen, adored, devoted, nurturing…every bit of what it is to cherish the sweet beautiful little girl they now hold.

 

The journey isn't ending for them, not at all - this parenting journey will be full of more sleepless, prayer filled nights but it will be all the better because the first leg of their journey was prayer filled, hope filled and faith filled & this time they are holding to the truth they have received in His promises. He still remains, the doting Father, the adoring parent and the loving promise that everything of Him is good, even when we can’t see it yet, even when the nights are long and the tears fall for hurt not joy, for when the day comes that everything is clear we will embrace Him and see that faith has not only been exactly what we needed along the way, but it is the steadfast answer to our prayer before the words even leave our lips…

 

Dear Village, please continue to pray for our journey of adoption, growth and faith, but this week we also ask that you visit our friend’s post and read about Faith, and their adoption journey – pray for them, for the birthmother and for this precious child.

 

http://mrswchilders.blogspot.com

 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stuck in a loop? Step out, seek Him.

There is struggle even on the days where struggle isn’t on the surface. 

I’ve been in a loop lately.


A cycle of questions and curiosities that has stirred my emotions. We are in that place, the time period of the year where you will soon see that we will give an update after our Home Study is updated, interviews updated and visits updated. It is the month where I state: another year passed. Thank goodness we aren't Hamsters in this journey, we push forward and not only do we go somewhere, but where we end up and the track to get there is such a beautiful adventure to travel. It is these days of "loops" that I have to choose to dig deep.  I cling to the truths that timing is His, that my lack of control over it is the best option and that my heart is guarded, protected and cherished by Him. He has plans, good ones... for us. He knows our desires, He knows our hopes and our dreams, He sees me, sees me more clearly than I see myself…these are truths, promises, and they are so very worthy of the weight they carry. 

I still loop. There will still be days where like the hamster I step into the wheel, focused too much on how I get it to move, how I will think that I alone can make it eventually go somewhere...those are the days when I must remember what it means to truly "go somewhere", to Him, to His word and His power.  I am not perfect, I am a Christian who acknowledges that I will never be perfect; my pursuit is to be like Him, to glorify Him, to share Him and to love Him. I am a light in the darkness – a light that is sourced from the King of all Kings; it is my duty and pleasure to shine for anyone I encounter & most especially to travel this life with the ultimate guide.

I never expected two years to pass and we still be renewing CANs, Fingerprints, Interviews, Profiles and Home Studies – at least not for Cherished Blessing Number 1. I know that when I speak in years I really should say year 8, but in the scheme that is most understandable it is year 2. 

He has this. I believe that. He loves us. I know that. He has plans for us, great ones. I trust that. 

So today I just wanted to post about ups and downs, the loops that I’m in right now.

I’m focusing on the new beginnings in our life. A new company, venture – where my name is followed by words like “entrepreneur, CEO, artist, owner” and where my days are full of the 22 year old blessing we cherish more than anything as she finishes out her last months of college, as she wanders the ocean of where the next shore is, as she shines so brightly that I sometimes just lean into who she is and rest. Our sweet Duchess makes us proud every day.

We are so honored to have this life. We know that the trials and tribulations cause us to hiccup, to hesitate, to question, to wonder and most of all to seek…He likes this part, the part where we crawl closer to Him, where we see the wall before us – that moment when the reality that we cannot do this alone – when we know that we need help – when we are so vulnerable that to hold on would be damaging – He loves that moment, where we see only His love, only His way, only His plan…the honesty of that moment takes my breath away every. single. time.

Join us in prayer. Join us as we pray for a birthmother yet to know who we are, for the children who already know their Heavenly Father but will soon meet us as the parents who will pray to raise them up to glorify Him. Pray for the parents who are sending their children to school this month, for the teachers and educators who are tasked with teaching and loving and supporting the next generations. Pray for understanding in the waiting. That we always are conscious of His blessings. Pray that as I ride out this loop of emotions that I find stability in the promises of the Word. 

Dear Village…We pray for you, for all of you, that you have open eyes and hearts to the gifts of the Kingdom, that the Holy Spirit – your ever constant friend and companion – that the Spirit fills you and that your heart leans in, listens and shines like never before. That when you get stuck in the loop, that you take that moment to rest and step out, to find Him in the chaos and take confidence in the journey ahead.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We regret to inform you...you were not chosen...

There are just not enough words…

We had our name in a hat again…there is a beautiful baby boy that will meet his forever family soon. 

It isn’t us.

We know that this exactly what should be. We trust that this child, perfect as he is, is not the child for us.

He is loved.

We ache, yet we never met him. He joins a list in my heart. There are names peppered there with his, of other boys, girls and birthmothers... this memory of mine can be self-inflicting…it beats me up sometimes. I remember too much, think about them too much. But I love that I have heard their names and I love that my faith reminds me that they now have forever homes, that they have forever families that love them so very much.

We will be marking 2 years off next month. I am trying to process that in advance, to guard my heart for the day the visits start over and the year begins again. It isn’t easy. It will never be easy.

I ache today. I cry today. I will pray so very much today for peace and guidance and comfort. 

He cries with me. 

I will celebrate today – a child being placed with their family is a reason to celebrate.

I will pray for the other couples who were in the hat too, the ones reacting as I am, the ones who feel lost again…they need our prayers too.

I will pray for social workers today – the ones who have to break the news, to share the news and then sigh, as they begin watching and waiting – they are like Sentinels on the wall, watching the names come in, guarding us and those on the outs, taking the information and preparing how it should be presented all the while risking their own hearts to a system so jaded.



Pray for us today. Pray that we don't let our hearts be jaded by minutes ticking by, by a timeline well beyond our control. Pray for all that I have listed above and please whisper a prayer for peace, comfort, and that when we lay our heads down tonight, we add the name to the list, we don’t dwell on it, but we don’t forget it, for it is another name to cherish in this journey, another name to send prayers to and another name that my Savior created, my Savior loves and my Savior knows that one day we will be celebrating, tears of joy and elation as the name on the list becomes ours..

May he bind us up again….

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds… psalm 147:3

Monday, June 27, 2016

Update: He is evident in all things

Hey guys. 

We haven’t disappeared.

We haven’t faltered on our journey.

We have been waiting – continually.

We have been moving forward.

Our God is amazing. 


We have known that truth – constantly reminding ourselves of it, yet each encounter still sweeps me up in His glory. As the months have been passing, the hours fleeting, we’ve been waiting. We continue to wait. Yet with every post I share with each of you, with every update or non-update that I give I feel Him closer. He has this.

As far as the children we are praying for, He still has them, out there, in the world around us or in Heaven preparing to meet us. We don’t know their names yet, their eye color, their laugh or their favorite treat. We know that they are precious; we know that they are chosen, loved and cherished. He has so much going on around us right now. Windows and doors have been flung open to us and we are stepping, taking His hand and moving along a winding but beautiful road.

I have so much to share, so much to be excited about. He is laying foundations; showing us new things that in the future, with those children, our lives will be able to continue to flourish, to grow and to provide.

He has begun something in our life, He has opened a window, thrown back the shutters and leaned out...arms outstretched showing me the landscape and whisking me off my feet with the possibilities that can only happen with His blessing & guidance. We are grateful, leaning in, listening and stepping out…

I lay all that is broken within me at His feet and I look to the heavens as I look to home, knowing that my God has all of this. He has seen our children, my company, our journey, our dreams…He knows them, He crafted their goodness and He is here for the bumps along the way. We have a saying in our house “He saw us first.” We believe that. In fact we stake our lives on it. So today I update you: no further movement in the adoption that we can see. Yet our hope grows stronger, our faith deeper and our desires more encompassing. He is evident in all things in our lives even when we fail to stop and seek Him out – He never fails to have us first & always.

I hold tight to these truths:

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21


Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alike to You.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

One Thing Remains


It started out all mixed up and crazy. We were Italy bound but JFK in NYC had winds that made the arrival of our plane 15 minutes late. 15 minutes is important when it comes to aviation control. There were 24 people on our plane headed to the same destination across the ocean. The connecting plane of 280 passengers felt the 24 of us could figure out a way without them, so it left. We landed, it took off. We grumbled, they cheered. We stepped off our plane to the words: “Run. Quick. If you don’t run you’ll miss the new connector.” So we did just that - We ran. From one side to the other and as we came to a halt at the British Airways counter, a young lady smiled and said “you must be the Barrs. Welcome aboard.” We caught our breath as we boarded that plane, we smiled as we were given better seats than what we were supposed to receive and as we began the 7 hours to London Heathrow we tried to tamp down our excitement and sleep but those big, 777-300 aircrafts have a lot of toys for the passengers and we slipped into a movie induced binge across the Atlantic. I’ve always dreamed of going to London and even though it was only a few hours I blissfully took in the accents, the verbiage and the movements of the Brits flitting through the airport. I smiled every time I heard a young child speak or a couple engage in conversation. I love the UK accent more than any other. We boarded again and finally 3 hours later than planned arrived in Italy. From there on we walked, we rode, we talked, we laughed, we admired, and we dove into living and past history. 


From Milano to Firenze to Roma; there isn’t a location that didn’t take our breath away. The spires of the Duomo in Milano rose up around us and I immediately envisioned a time where every single detail of architecture reflected the greatest story ever told. (I also discovered a great appreciation for the years spent learning Italian)

I cried at the Last Supper and I sat in the apron of the Pantheon in Roma, eating gnocchi and beef carpaccio with the best husband ever and our two closest friends. By this day, our anxiousness was flowing for the following day – our friends would stand before God and declare their love for one another. In the Eternal City we rode around with photographers and videographers in tow as two people we love celebrated their union. People stopped for us, took pictures of us and called out to us as we rambled amidst monuments of Caesar, Napoleon, Mussolini, and Michelangelo. We climbed 150 steps of the Santa Maria Ara Coeli Basilica, stood on the stage/altar of a building built in the 1200’s, we prayed, we blessed and we celebrated. At one time around 200 strangers entered the church, silently and respectfully watching the service as the four of us stood below rows of chandeliers and ancient paintings grinning. They cheered as we left the building and in more than 4 languages we heard congratulations and happy wishes to the couple. It was surreal. 


Then the next day we split and two went to begin a honeymoon – first Venice then the Maldives and we, me and the best husband ever, slipped off to Paris via Switzerland celebrating 10 years of marriage (in August) and 20 years together (in March). The night we rode…an adventure we will never forget. The arrival in Paris, dreary, rainy and gray should have made the day a bust…but its Paris and even in the rain, even in the gray it glows. Everything there is beautiful, from architecture to people to food. Both countries so different, so special; Italy embraced us while Paris pulled us in, cloaking us in pinks and crisp lines. We enjoyed every day. Even though frustrations arose and sometimes the schedules allowed for so little sleep that we began to fall every time we got in a car it was worth it. 



It ended as it began, all mixed up and crazy. Long lines at Charles de Gaulle, again flights missed in JFK on the way home and the route changed, but worn out and tired we landed safely in BHAM, completely altered by so many things we saw and loved so far and different from home.

We never expected to be in Europe this year. We are grateful that we had the opportunity and that seeing the world actually brought us to cherish so much in our hearts. We know that the children God has for us may come from any part of the US and/or the rest of the world. We know that these travels on the surface seem to just be vacation beauties…but there were many moments that grounded us and in particular there was a moment, in London at Heathrow airport where a young girl with strawberry blonde hair and fair skin held the hand of her brother, a young boy with tight dark curls and cocoa skin; looked up at her mother a copper headed woman and began to ask if she could show her “new brother” the dog scarf on the rack beside them that my heart skipped a beat. The mother saw me watching and I smiled. She told her daughter yes and as we both stood at the counter to purchase our wares she sighed and said in the loveliest accent “He just came to us. She is in love with him. We adopted her at birth, you see and he, well he comes from a place that was horrible…” she stopped and teared up. I simply said. “Your children are beautiful.” The softest smile and the nicest thank you were whispered as the associate stepped up to ask which of us was next. I breathed in, held the tears at bay and let the moment wash over me. I pray that no matter what, no matter where we journey to in the world, that people who see our family in the future, the words they whisper are the ones the Holy Spirit gave me in that moment. I could have just nodded, I could have just smiled or pressed her for more information, but the words slipped like water and the transformation on her face reminded me that love is such a powerful thing, because God loved me, I got to share some love with her. The beauty of that family will remain with me forever.

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant through the trial and the change

One thing…remains….

Your love never fails, never gives up

Never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never, ever, have to be afraid

One thing remains

In death, in life, I’m confident and

Covered by the power of Your great love

My debt is paid, there’s nothing than can

Separate my heart from Your great love.


-Jesus Culture “One Thing Remains”