a little and a lot

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Four weeks ago, we officially decided to pursue Brooklyn's adoption.

Every yes that led us to that decision kept leading us to more and more yeses.  And then picture a dam crumbling and flooding us with the blessing and yeses and provision and presence of God after that big yes.

In four weeks, we have completed the home study and dossier.  (For frame of reference, that took four MONTHS with Rhet, and I had thought we were being speedy!)

There have been so, SO many answered prayers and God-instances in this four-week journey.  The Lord has truly THROWN open the doors to get us to our girl.

And then I was given a humbling reminder...

This past weekend, we had a series of events that had the appearance of everything unraveling.  We'd had some rooms painted last week and the painter took a day longer than agreed.  All the furniture was in the middle of the floor on the morning of our home visit.  The TV wall mount wouldn't work as planned.  One of our vehicles surprised us by refusing to show any signs of life.  My last document for our dossier had been promised by Friday and had yet to show up.

We worked like crazy people getting the furniture back in place.  Friends came to help with the TV.  At least we still had one working vehicle.  And our needed document appeared in the mailbox. Home visit went smoothly.

But the TiVo.  It was not working.  I mean, eh, it wasn't a big deal, right?

But it just bugged me.  Here I am moving heaven and earth to get all of this paperwork finished and we can't get the TiVo working.  So I did what anyone used to being on a mission would do: I put all of my adoption paperwork fervor into this one small task of getting the TiVo up and running.

But wait, it turned out the hard drive had crashed.  We can work with that--I found out how to replace the unit inexpensively and ran right out and purchased a new unit.  But wait, TiVo didn't want to honor our past subscription price.  Well, I worked something out with the customer service reps.  But wait, when we pulled the new unit out of the box, we realized we didn't have a way to hook it up.  (Our HDMI port is "burnt out" on our TV.)  Ok, I'll find a way to convert it to the ports we can use.  But wait, the promised conversion box was not in stock at the store.  But wait, I'll try another store.  No luck there either.  But wait, here's a different port that may work--let's try it.  But wait, it needs an extra cord.  That can be fixed by yet another store run.  But wait, they don't carry that specific cord.  I reached the end of the night with nothing fixed.

And as I laid my head on the pillow, I sensed the Lord reminding me:
Hey Jesse?  I am the one moving heaven and earth to get all of this paperwork finished.  If you want to keep working out of your OWN efforts, they will all end up like this TiVo.

BOOM.  He was so right.

And lo and behold, we hit a snag with the final home study completion this week.  Something that threatened a long delay.  And I wrung my hands and stressed and blamed last night.  And God is already fixing it.  (You can pray about that, by the way!)

Getting to Brooklyn is not by our OWN efforts and in our OWN speed.  It is all Him, my friends.

Please pray for our immigration clearance and dossier authorization, which are the next steps after this home study gets signed off.

My mom sent me this quote last night, and you can pray this over us as well:
"When I feel anxiety begin to rise up in me, it helps to hold an empty bowl--a reminder that my soul is made to receive from God rather than achieve for God."  (Emily Freeman)

Oh, and our dead vehicle was raised to life yesterday.  Costly repairs?  Naaaahhhh.  Just a dud battery that had been installed last month.  Under warranty, of course.  Grace upon grace upon grace...

Via Brim Papery (and hanging on our freshly painted wall!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Someone is Us: A "Big News" Post

A couple of weeks ago, we were just minding our own business.  Living normal life.  And then things changed.

They changed on an evening when we saw a picture of a little girl.  And we were faced with a decision: between wishing someone would do something and doing it.  

We wrestled.  We prayed.  And we decided.


Meet Brooklyn Faris!  She is 10 months old in China.  She has a condition called biliary atresia, where the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine are blocked and damage the liver.  She is currently in liver failure and needs a liver transplant ASAP.

We found her through a good friend who had just seen a post about her on a China Waiting Child Advocacy Facebook group.  There were many inquiries and comments.  Maybe someone will adopt her, we hoped.  Maybe the someone is us, we wondered.

We prayed and discussed and prayed some more.  It's not like this is terrible timing...we were planning on adopting in the next year.  It's just, we hadn't planned on this.  And it was out of "order"--we were looking for a house to buy first.  We haven't saved at ALL or planned a bit yet!  And...it's just plain scary.  We we were afraid of big things: What if we can't get her home in time?  How will this affect Rhet or change us as a family or as parents?  We were afraid of small things: How will we pay for all of it?  What will the transition be like from one kiddo to two?  Where can we put her in this little ole house?  But still, the wondering lingered...

Maybe the someone is us.

It weighed heavier and heavier on our hearts.  We talked about it daily.  We started gathering information "just in case" we said yes.  We weren't putting the cart before the horse.  We were just...getting ready.  Just in case.  And the doors were opening, opening, opening...

Maybe the someone is us.

We had one of our nightly long conversations about the possibility of pursuing the adoption last week.  We each shared feelings and thoughts of fear that were holding us back.  We prayed together, for specific things, for specific direction, for specific leading from the Lord.  It was a big prayer...a vulnerable prayer.

I checked Facebook 30 minutes later, and there was a message from a stranger on my phone.  She was writing to tell us that our names had been shared with her, and she wanted us to know she was praying for us.  And we could not finish reading her message without breaking down in tears, because her words were direct responses and echoes of the prayer we had just offered half an hour before.  We sat there reading her message, and we knew.

We knew that the someone is us.

Pursuing adoption often means walking into the fear, pushing into the hard places, following God into the dark. We don't know how Brooklyn's story will unfold--our fears persist about how it might...but we do know that she deserves a family that loves her, that will fight to get to her, that will push through the hard for her. Every child deserves a family who will do that. We could spend our lives wondering if anyone will, or we can make bold choices to follow the Lord wherever He leads.

We are working lightning fast to start and finish a home study and dossier in a month's time.  We are trusting God to provide each expense and fee as it presents itself.  We have stepped off the cliff.

This will be a medically expedited case--the faster we can get B home, the better.

We need your help!  Please lift Brooklyn up in prayer constantly.  We confidently believe God will move mountains to sustain her health and to get her home.  (Home!!! :) )  Please pray for us, that the Holy Spirit will continue to give us His peace to move boldly with faith.  We'll let you know soon some other ways you can help.  We're all in this together, friends.

The someone is us!

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Am I the only one with a regular technology conundrum?  I rarely use our laptop and almost NEVER use our desktop computer now that the trifecta of motherhood, i-devices, and the absence of sitting in an office are in my life.  It's amusing to me how many hours of my life USED to be spent in front of a computer screen compared with my present reality.  (This amusement is solely rooted in how I have lived two opposite lives, by the way, and not in any judgment towards those who spend their days at a desk.  Shoutout to myself circa 2005-2011!)

I live my entire life through my (now seemingly ancient) iPhone 4, and the two of us get along fine thankyouverymuch.  

Until I want to post on this blog.  All of my pictures are housed on the phone, but it takes a lot of thumb-power to type up a post on the Blogger app, not to mention my particular blog's quirky posting properties when pictures are involved.  (HTML editing is required on this thing any time I include a picture for some wonky reason.  Does this happen to anyone else??)

So, here we are.  I'm speed-typing along on our 9-year-old laptop and producing this photo-less post.  

So anyways, did you know I'm a preschool teacher now?  

It's a pretty sweet gig for a part-time job, although it IS a job.  I tried to trick myself into sliding into it last spring...you know, just do this little thing in the mornings for some extra money and it's only 8a-noon and I'll hardly notice the change, no big deal.  It'll just be stay-at-home-mom-life-as-usual with this little daily morning errand. 

Except it didn't really work like that.  Any scenario that requires me leaving my house with my child at 7:40am is going to be "noticed."  But we adjusted, and Rhet loves going to her new school (right down the hall from me!), and we love our new friends (grown-up and not), and it's a pretty good job as far as jobs go.

Rhet started Junior Kindergarten two weeks ago.  I really wish they didn't have to call it such a grown-up name.  "They" technically includes ME, because I am a teacher's aid in the other Jr K class.  I just think about it as JK, so it feels like "Just-Kidding-Kindergarten."  ;)  Little Girl is pretty much Big Girl now, and she cuts and glues and paints all on her own.  Four years old is really such a fun age to buddy around with.  We've fallen into a rhythm where we do our work/school in the morning, get our nap on after returning home, and then do a little play/craft time before it's time to start dinner.  

August has decided to finally gives us some summer weather, and I have to be honest in saying that I'm glad it happened after we went back to school.  Instead of figuring out something to do outside of our 900-sq-ft house that doesn't include melting, we spend our mornings in a centrally air-conditioned building.  So, thanks for that August.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

That Time We Went to Chicago

This whole end-of-spring, beginning-of-summer has been quite the whirlwind this year. Parts of it have been traumatic and parts of it have been gloriously fun & exciting. Let's stick to the fun & exciting for now, shall we?

{I have no idea where she picked up this phrase, but Rhet loves to make a proposal ending with "shall we?" It is the cutest thing ever. "Mom, let's go to the swings next, shall we?"}

Nick traveled to Chicago in June for work, and I was over the moon about tagging along (while my mom stayed with Rhet and our dog-child). I love to travel, and I actually relish spending time alone. I don't know if that's a newish "mom thing" or if I've always been this way. I've always thought of myself as an extrovert--I like to study & read with background noise, and I could be dead-tired but spark right back to life after stepping into a party or get-together. But then again, I have always enjoyed going places just to enjoy being alone among people, and I really only enjoy going to parties where I know people...I'm not a huge meet-a-bunch-of-strangers-for-a-good-time girl. Perhaps I'm just an extrovert who really enjoys acting introverted?  

So...the prospect of flying to a fun city and staying in a nice hotel with my love while exploring solo during the day was right down my alley. 

I prefer vacations to trips. Perhaps you thought they were the same thing? Definitely not, my friend.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Vacations are going somewhere and relaxing. Trips are going somewhere and going/doing. Visiting big cities are natural opportunities for "trips," but I do pretty well with turning anything (even naptime) into a vacation. So here, my friends, is how you take a VACATION in Chicago:

Stay in bed as long as you want.

Yeah, sure, the city awaits. But "vacation mode" means you're never in a hurry. I could literally spend an entire day in a nice, cozy bed. R&R is NEVER wasted time. Particularly when you're sans parenthood responsibilities!

Do relaxing things that are unique to your location. 

Might I suggest a professional blow-out at DryBar (to rejuvenate your travel-weary head and save you time by not having to do your hair for the rest of the weekend)...

...a (gloriously) quiet, leisurely stroll through the Art Institute of Chicago...

...reading a good book in a beautiful place, such as next to Buckingham Fountain...

...doing your sight-seeing from a boat...also, I can't get these awesome scalloped apartment buildings out of my head...

....don't eat out for every meal--stay in a swanky hotel (breakfast & hor d'oeuvres in the executive lounge!), buy some awesome snacks & good wine (in this case from Garrett's Popcorn and Trader Joe's) and eat lunch or dinner in your room while enjoying a movie or outdoors nearby with a picnic...

*Note: I vowed not to get a travel guide book of Chicago, because I knew it would suck me in and I'd end up at the mercy of it's "must see" list.  Instead, I did a little internet research the week before we left.  And I found this: a Chicago Top 10 list compiled by Ann Taylor LOFT, which proved invaluable for providing fun, casual stops on the way to my "must see" locations.  Do NOT buy the books if you're planning on a vacation, I'm serious.  They will lure you in with their CityPass economics and their "If you have one day" agendas.  I repeat: step AWAY from the travel section...!

Treat yo'self. 

And while I just encouraged you not to eat out for every meal (it saves money and time), DO NOT waste an opportunity to eat something special you can't have in your own city.

Cupcakes for lunch? Sure! (While I'm mad about our fave local bakery, I do not have prejudices against famous delectable buttercream in copious amounts.)

Coffee and almond croissant for another lunch? Why not? (I love a short toffee nut latte with soy from the 'Bux as much as the next gal, but this Chicago coffee shop's java almost brought me to tears, it was that good.)

Jeni's Ice Cream for brunch was a given...and I won't judge you for going for a second round, because that's just what we did!

...other ideas, see further above: buy a new, fun shade of lipstick...definitely splurge on the jumbo sized Chicago mix popcorn...

Pick a small number of tourist "musts" and spread them out among your restful trip. 

This way you avoid a jam-packed, exhausting day. Nick was in conference meetings during most of our trip, but he had an afternoon here & a couple evenings there to spend with me. We picked a few things we wanted to do together, and I chose a few things to see on my own. Inevitably, there were things I/we didn't do/see that we could have, but I felt like we did just the right amount.

- Watching the Navy Pier fireworks from the Buckingham Fountain show 
- Wendella Architecture Boat Tour (worth every penny!)
- Millenium Park + outdoor concert sound check (sound check = shorter and before dinner!)

- Chicago Pizza Oven Grinder Co. for pizza pot pies (SO good!!)
*Note: We only ate pizza once on purpose--you don't want to be rolling down the streets because you ate every deep dish pie you came across!  And for our one and done choice, I'd say we were spot on!

Oh, I had the best time exploring the Windy City. I came right home and promptly fell into obsession with this series: 

It has only fueled my desire to go back again! Next time, I'm going to make sure I climb ride the Ferris wheel and zipline from visit the top of the John Hancock building. ;)

Have I talked you into taking a vacation to a big city yet?  The best part about it, is you don't need a vacation when you get home!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Lately, my blogging is done by my iPhone app. 

Lately, I've taken up a part-time job working as a Jr K teacher's aid at a nearby preschool. 

Lately, I've had a mysterious medical enigma involving pain in my teeth and jaw with an unknown source, which led to 7 dr visits in 6 weeks. 

Lately, my 4-year-old has been growing up faster than the speed of light, coloring in the lines, cutting shapes with scissors, learning how to jump in the deep end of a pool and swim to the shallow end all by herself. {happy/proud momma tears}

Lately, my life feels like it's just getting started. (That's sometimes exciting and sometimes discouraging.)

Lately, the Lord has been faithful to me in tangible ways...just like He was in the last season and He will be in the next. 

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more