Courtney S. Barr

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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas, News and the Bravery of His Enduring Love...

 Dear Sweet Village,

We wish you the Merriest of Christmas seasons and the best into this Happy New Year. 

We pray that each of you weathered and continue to weather this season of storms. It has been one crazy Christmas in the South, temperatures in the upper 70s, low 80s; tornados, flash floods and blustery winds. The sorcerers…er…Meteorologist…suggest that cold weather is to come behind all this and for the first time in years I’m excited for the chill, for the much needed comfort found in hot tea, warm blankets and the chill that comes when you step outside in the mornings. 

Our family was able to spend 3 lovely Christmases with our families. Each home is such a delight to visit and we truly love the traditions that have been created over the past years and the excitement for new ones to come.

Most of you were not aware that over the Christmas weekend Marcus and I were watching our email like hawks, awaiting an update on the possibility of being chosen as parents to a beautiful baby girl. However, again we are not here to proclaim the news that we are parents…instead I’m typing through tears and yet I’m still smiling with every word. It isn’t getting easier and I pray it doesn’t – that would infer a hardened heart. Through all of this I’ve remained the sensitive, heart on sleeve person that I have always been. I cried sitting in the Target parking lot as I read the words, then I spoke out loud to my Heavenly Father…letting my cries be heard in the heavenly realm as the heavenly chorus comforted me with His word and the lyrics that played through my radio. I listen to the Message on Sirius XM, today I was reminded why I do. Tom Carter’s voice spoke “The end is a new beginning, the end is a new beginning…sometimes we just don’t see it just yet.” I cried again but this time with a little chuckle through my snotty nose. I hadn’t even called M yet to tell him…I just couldn’t say it again just yet. 

It is the oddest sensation every time I read the words that deliver the hardest news as we wait patiently for our Heavenly Father’s plan to be seen. It’s as though I’ve lost something I never had, never knew yet there is a connection that is undeniable.  I also get the boomerang of happiness for a child and a family that is now complete – it is a war in my heart and thankfully the promise that we will one day have the family He has chosen for us does give me great comfort. Of course when I called M he began to speak the life giving words that my spirit already proclaims but my heart turns away, wanting to mourn a loss that is indescribable and yet seemingly without reason. His words came through the phone, uplifting, reminding me of God’s perfect promises and His perfect plan for us. I heard him and I thanked him. He could hear the catch in my voice and when he apologized the tears fell again. He apologizes to me because I am the one who sees the emails first, because he loves me and he hates for me to hurt; yet I know that he hurts as well, that he mourns a loss unknown and a possibility that passes without reason or explanation. He truly is the most amazing husband, partner and friend God could have seen for me. My heart aches each time for him and for the child that he will not know. 

Then I have to stop. To pull myself up and realize that other couples were waiting too, other couples are hurting now, and that though the process starts again, we are hopeful, full of faith and love for our Savior’s promises.

For now, this moment, the tears shake tenderly behind my eyelids aching to roll down my cheeks, but instead I will close my eyes and play one of my favorite songs; allowing the melody and lyrics to cover me with His love.

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made…

-Bethel Music “you make me brave”

Proverbs 3:5 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent, Adoption and the Village with a Heart Like David…

I took a moment in the bustle of this past weekend to be still. To think about the current season, the past one and the upcoming one. Only 120 hours prior to this moment I had trolled Facebook before heading to a weekend FREEDOM conference with my lovely church. It is my second visit to this conference – the first I was a participant – this time I was a servant to the participants, a volunteer, a spectator and an intercessor on their behalf. I knew that for at least 24-36 hours my social media moments would truly be stolen, quick ones – more focused on posting the success of the conference and open hearts than on the typical daily troll of other people’s updates. So I was trolling slowly, soaking in the social aspect of IG and FB. I noticed a trend on the posts coming from our “root Village”. Camden was having a week. One of those weeks where knees humbly grace the floor while heads bowed lay softly upon the Savior’s knee. He was with them last week, as He always is, from every home, every business, an outpouring of lament and love for two very sweet young men. One struggling in a hospital searching for answers and another returning home to our precious village with an answer   heartbreaking in its discovery; he now faces leukemia, treatments and more questions to follow the answers. But in all this, in these two stories of heartache for young men, family, and friends…I saw it again…that outpouring, far reaching, all-encompassing love that moves mountains, destroys disease, mends a heart, lifts a spirit, shines light into the darkness and warms the soul. My “root Village” is a Miracle Mount in South Alabama. It is a place where community isn’t just a public grouping of people; it is a place alive with hope, compassion and light. The kind that breaks through the darkest FB posts, where the simple word “praying” on a comment line is truly a representative of the person whose name it accompanies. Yes, these two young men are facing trials, giants even in their lives, but they come from a town with a heart like David.  Be strong. Have faith, lay your hope and your love on our Savior.

In this same spirit as I read the stories of praying for these boys I stumbled upon ADVENT. Our church, for the first time, is doing an ADVENT post each day. When I was young my parents had this tree, faux branches, about 13 inches tall that had little drawers all over the base; actual drawers, with knobs and numbers. Each drawer held a tiny ornament that would be placed on the tree as the days counted down.  I used to love to pull out each ornament, watching the calendar as each day came. I got excited anticipating what little treasure I’d discover. No matter that the ornaments were the same every year, just reorganized to be in different drawers – there was something about the waiting, the expectancy, the excitement that captivated me; even when a bad day wanted to weigh me down I looked forward to that tiny ritual. For me the anticipation of something can be where I really enjoy the moments coming. It spans so many themes personally: vacations, birthday week, parties, football games – the categories can be endless. This year my thoughts are occupied with many of those things yet there is more. Advent is more than just numbers on a calendar leading to the presents and celebration of the holiday. It is waiting, anticipating, expectancy; yearning…it is where I am this season. I love Christmas. I love the feelings it inspires and the kindness it evokes. I love the presents –giving & receiving. But ADVENT is different. I read recently “Advent is the question, the pleading, and Christmas is the answer to that question…advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer or Scrooge. Advent says the Baby is coming, but He isn’t here yet, that Hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we’re grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the Baby on His way.” (Savor by Shauna Niequist) For us, personally, the words ‘the Baby is coming’ struck me so hard, so fiercely that I burst into tears. He never lets me forget that He is ALWAYS planning for us, that He WILL fulfill His promises and that we need to slow down, reflect on the waiting and remember to trust Him always.  As right now two specific families in our root village await information day in and day out as to how their sweet sons are progressing, we wait to hear any and every update on the child(ren) we are praying for (still no update or change in the process by the way). 

 Learning all this in the past few days changed ADVENT in my heart, it has me thanking God for the season that understands heart’s desires, loneliness, uncertainty, long nights and desperate prayers…we must remember to open ourselves to ADVENT, to the anticipation and belief that what is broken will be beautiful, what is lost will be found, what is empty will be filled, what is desired will be fulfilled…trust Him. This season is often our reminder of happy days but it also is a time where we miss our loved ones already gone, where we fear the year looming ahead and the answers to questions we never really wanted to ask. But thankfully in all the glitter and glitz there is the simplest beauty to be found, the fact that its okay to tell the truth about our grievances and still be excited for Christmas. Our disappointments, our worries, our heartaches are very real, but a very real Hope and Promise is on the way and He fulfills His promises. 



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Update: Category 5 - Rejection Rips you to the Core....

Psalm 34:17-20 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

Lamentations 3:31-33 ”For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men”

So this is the pain of rejection, of words on a page that bring you to your knees. I thought I knew what it felt like. I’ve been that girl that wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or too curvy or too short or the girl who is being punished because of things shes done – the world’s accusations beat and batter against you like the tide to the shore, slowly eroding layer after layer. I know that for some these simple phrases do not cut but for years I held onto them, never letting my eyes see myself as God sees me. Then for a brief moment of time I lived surrounded by the most diverse set of people and they all saw me differently but I am so very grateful that for the most part they saw me as this Southern, sweet, caring soul and they embraced my ‘flaws’ , lifted me with their words and actions, became my  friends and family. God placed them in my life, strangers, who knew nothing of where I was from or where I was going and I became different, stronger in my weaknesses and happier in my sorrows. It was the Spirit leading them to my life and I to theirs.

Then life phase 3 came at me headstrong and wanting to tear my layers apart. The enemy really knows how to break us down. He chips away at each insecurity trying to get us to forget that God can do anything and we can do anything when we have God. This morning, at 9:50 a.m., the first of what I now classify as Category 5 rejection (on a 5 being the worst) I saw in my inbox the name of a birthmother. It was an update from our Social Worker “R”. “Good morning! I wanted to let you know as soon as I heard that ‘birthmother’ has chosen a couple and you were not the one she chose.” Yep, instantaneous pressure on my chest, shifting pain from my eyes to my toes, a tension that wasn’t there seconds before rolled down my back and I couldn’t stop the tears. They came, rushing, silent and painful. I never expected it to cut so deep. After all these years of just believing that no was forever the answer and just recently truly believing the yes possibilities…like vapor one of our options is gone. Flitted away as a whisper and mourned now because of its impact. I will not apologize for the tears, for succumbing today to the sadness that we are not part of that child’s plan. We know and believe that God has the best laid plans for us…but to tell you that I handled rejection with ease, that the words on the page were merely dusted off my heart would be the biggest lie I have ever told. It hurts. It rips me up knowing that we are no longer an option in that race. We have been removed for whatever reason. I won’t lie and say I don’t now think about our profile “Is there something we left out or shouldn’t have put in? Would she have liked us better if we had this or that or a picture of this or a story about that?” In my weakest moments these questions will be on repeat and I will need to let God be my strength so that it does not eat me alive. I focused on some tasks at home this evening and began to stand up a little straighter when the second email pinged on my phone. Category 5 continued to spin out of control: Birthmother number two has also decided to select another couple. The next 2 hours I found my personal bottom for the day. It lies somewhere between Pizza Hut thin crust cheese pizza and a large Mountain Dew. Yes, I ate a little bit of my feelings, but M made me laugh. He mourned a loss that in some ways makes no sense but it is there nonetheless. He doesn’t know how to comfort me during these moments; he is saddened but he doesn’t want both of us to be sad so he played some great songs, hugged me until I blew snot, let me stand  motionless and sad in the kitchen then he reminded me of God’s timing, of His plans, of His grace and of who I am in Christ. My mind races and to calm it I am searching the scriptures, searching my heart and leaning with all the breath I have on God and M. Please pray for the birthmothers who just made the biggest decision of their lives, pray for us as we move forward, pray for our peace in these things when we do not understand and pray that tonight when I lay my head on the pillow that my tears slow, my heart softens and my dreams are full of His words of great plans for all who believe in Him.

As always, thank you for being our village.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yetis, Rollercoasters, And Birthmothers

Veni. Vidi. Amavi.

We came. We saw. We loved.

I’ve wanted to do an update for about two weeks now…as it all began…my fingers just haven’t been at the keyboard really. Yet today I laughed at a picture from our weekend getaway and it brought me back, back to moments of reflection, gratefulness and humility. 

Have you ever stood in line for a rollercoaster? Waiting in the que as the line winds closer and closer to the moment you will step foot into a vehicle that is going to sling you every which way at high speeds, big climbs and dangerous drops; excitement wars with anxiousness every time I get ready to ride one. I say a simple prayer for safety and then I just let it all go. I trust the mechanics, the operator, the set design, the track, the vehicle and the weather. Every component is just given away, let go of and all I put my energy into is the sheer fun of riding “Everest” to find the Yeti who tore the track in two. I buy into the fun of the story we traveled while standing in a 25 minute line for a 90 second ride. There are truths and lies along the way. Disney is the master at developing a ‘que’ that sucks you in. They spare no inch of your environment in order to tell the story of the attraction you are on. Sometimes there are real animal/climate/travel facts and sprinkled here and there are the ‘embellishments’ to the legend/lore that makes the ride a fairytale flash bomb. It is genius and wonderful. 

We were so beyond blessed to get to get away for the weekend. I’ve been tightly wound for a few weeks now and we had planned this trip really right after Thanksgiving last year. Thankful for travel reward point systems that allow us to do all of this on a fabulous budget while still being able to save for the family we have coming to us.

Lately we’ve been on rollercoasters in the most literal and figurative ways. As we climbed the big hill at Expedition Everest in Disney World last weekend for the second time I couldn’t help but laugh. M sat beside me giddy as a 12 year old and laughing out loud at the sheer fun of flying around that track. I'm so grateful to have the truth of a fabulous partner in life like M. His zest for enjoying every bit of the process is contagious and he is my rock on more than one occasion lately. 

In the past two weeks we have been honored to be able to have our profile available for 3 birthmothers. THREE! Guys, that’s crazy awesome. Please, please keep us in your prayers…just pray hard for the birthmothers and those babies the most, even before us. We know that these women are facing decisions that are the biggest in their lives, we know that God has them and those children in His hands and we know that no matter what…no matter if they choose us, choose to parent or choose another couple the most important thing is that they know they are loved. This is the lesson He has had us learning to discern from the get go. We want children. So badly that I cried watching a line of children sing and dance as they followed Daisy & Donald around the tables of Tusker House in Animal Kingdom – I couldn’t stop the flow, I couldn’t hold it in, and I couldn’t stop smiling at the same time as I stared at M across the table. He grabbed my hand and told me he loved me and ‘our time is coming’.

He is right. I knew it even before he said it, but saying it sometimes is very important; speaking it out loud strikes a chord and had me feeling God’s presence almost immediately. I had prayed a very specific prayer 3 weeks ago and God answered within almost 48 hours that we would be submitting our profile to a birthmother and here we sit…3 birthmothers reviewing our photos, our story. Siting in that restaurant His answer was even more swift and clear. Luke 1:45 reminded me “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.” He does not post faux facts on the walls of our life. Even when we are confused, even when we cannot understand, His promises are always the better for us.  

We rode Everest back to back that afternoon. We were pretty blessed to only stand in line for 25 minutes (longest line all weekend was right at 28 minutes)to ride one of our favorite 90 second rides. It makes me breathe deeply with anticipation when I think about the amount of time that God has been working on our story while we wait to see where our rollercoaster goes next. His timing is perfect. It seems long and drawn out to us at times, but looking at the thrill of 90 seconds on a manmade rollercoaster gets me giddy with excitement as I think about the thrill He has planned for us for our remaining life here and even more so for our eternal life.

So for our update, it is simply this:

God has a plan. 

We trust Him and we know that His timing is perfect.

Right now, three women will have our profile in their hands over the next week or so, and profiles of many other couples who desire to have children, and they are facing the hardest decision of their lives. That means that 3 children hang in the balance. No matter what they are loved, so much, already by people who don’t even know them and by some who never will. Those birthmothers are cherished, loved, beautifully and wonderfully made – they are also loved by many who will never meet them. 

I’m working on some new art for fundraising and we are looking at grants for fundraising.

We ask for prayers. We know that these 3 may all say no to us. That they may be lead in other directions and that even though we understand that it will be God’s will when we are chosen, we cannot lie and say that it won’t hurt if/when we face rejection. We know we will question why? But please pray that the question lingers less than a second and that God’s peace swiftly replaces the feelings of unworthiness. 

We thank you all for following our journey.  We know that some ask and wonder how it all is going. We don’t always have an answer for you, but this time we wanted to share that God is working in the wings. We have hope for the future and we know He loves us and has great plans for us.  We cannot wait to see all He has in store.

“And so it was, that she, having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God had promised.” Hebrews 6:15


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Mask Slipped off Today

The Mask Slipped Off Today...

I won't lie. I've been crying for a few hours now. 

No big shifts or changes, no one is hurt or angry.

I just felt so tired, drained and emotional.

We had our yearly home visit today. Our sweet social worker "R" came by and we toured the house, the property; then we sat down and the interview begins again. It's déjà vu but not. It really is a repeat of one year ago today. We are sitting proclaiming our hearts desires, answering questions, discussing background checks, jobs, church, schools, ideas and hope.

She chats animatedly about us and how we've been doing. We talk details of our profile books and the home study file. 

We talk Duchess and the excitement of her going to Montevallo for her senior year. We talk about how she is there, moving things in, while we sit here - missing her move but sending so much love her way we hope she feels our presence. 

We talk the dogs and how sweet they are.

We nibble on macaroons, chocolates and sip lemonade. 

We walk to each room discussing purpose, layout and decor. Settling on the last - our guest room that will one day be a nursery. Scattered lightly are a few pieces of baby/child decor. In boxes, not hung or placed. Pieces of what's to come. 

A civilized, detailed interview of our life in the middle of the day. 4.5 hours. 

We wrap everything up and I collapse on the couch. Tears stream down my cheeks and dear M is swift to give me comfort. I hug him for dear life. I know that my hope, my faith reminds me that God's timing is precious, unique and so very wonderful - my head knows it, my spirit survives by it, my heart tries to embrace it, but my soul just really wants to cry. Cry because a year has passed. Cry because the repeat questions make me feel like a failure. Cry because my desire is so strong that to bear another year feels so big and scary. Cry because I love M so much and to give him the gift of a child is so beyond my capabilities that it bites at my soul more often than not. Cry because this tiny baby that might not even be a thought to someone yet will one day be my whole world. Cry because time rushing past me daily and the aches sometimes attempt to overcome the faith. Cry because we feel so close yet the precipice is so high. Cry because we know that the waiting is just a piece - that rejection could still come and my heart aches so much already, that fear of what rejection will be like tries to settle in the crease of each day. 

M loves on me, reminding me that God has something so special and I cry harder. A little ashamed of being anxious and questioning God to begin with mixed with my aching desire to be the mother of his children. But I feel it, that sweet little touch of peace from M's hug that is God's love combined with the best husband ever; so I slip into comfy clothes and we turn on Netflix. He lays beside me and the dogs corral around me, loving on me with quiet gentleness and I feel a semblance of relaxation. I say a small short prayer, crying again but now it's just a little. 

In this place I am home. Not because the walls deem it so, but because of the two dogs at my side and the man laying beside me. On the walls are photos of our journey, places we've been, things we've done - M says he looks to them when he is having a pity party/bad day & it reminds him he is blessed, that life has been a great adventure already & that there is so much more to come. I like that he sees it that way. Today I'm trying to share his sentiment, I'm looking at where we've been, thinking of where we are going, reminding myself that our stability is a gift, that we are doing what has been asked and striving to do more. Reminding myself that God's timing is not my own, that He knows better and that He has great plans for us, He is in the background silently working to give us the best child & life we could imagine...

I still may cry some more. I know I will as time passes.

The mask slipped today, right onto the floor; yet M was there, he dusted it off and set it aside. He loves me for all I am, he wants so badly to see me as a mom, to be a dad, to share all we have with our children, to learn from them, to love them and to give them love like we've been given. He is my lifeline through all this, my constant, my anchor in this crazy storm and I'm forever grateful that when he stands beside me I never even think to put the mask on - for him, I'm wide blue eyes, rose red cheeks, tear stained in leggings and a comfy tunic watching Murder She Wrote and binging on green tea and French macaroons...I cannot wait to see him as he does the same with our toddling child between us, laughing with baby giggles and sleep deprived hilarity. He will be the best dad there is - no mask, just love, faith & loyalty....

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Happy Weekend! Kingdom Happenings Update...

Happy Weekend Everyone! Just a little drop in to say hi and let y’all know what’s been going on at The Kingdom lately…

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

Waiting. No really - waiting in truth.

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.

Habakkuk 2:3

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

John 13:17


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Heartbreak Dreamers...Never Stop Seeking the Light

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,

Everybody sing…

La La….

-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

Fireflies, Illusions of Control, Heart Doctors & Adoption....

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

Update - Adopting in Alabama

Adoption UPDATE:

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.

-Habakkuk 2:3

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.

Psalm 37:3-4


Monday, March 16, 2015

Our Desires & Goals are Shaping Up

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 in Him & Keep moving forward....

“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.”

Isaiah 40:31