Monday, July 30, 2012

Little Man Monday

Hi Little Man,

I am sitting here watching the olympics and thinking of you.  We watched the opening ceremonies on Friday and, for the first time, we cheered for two countries during the parade of nations. It was really fun to watch Ethiopia walk by and think of you.  In my heart of hearts I am hoping you will be here with us the next time we watch the games in 2016. I know there's no guarantee.  It may be two olympics before I see you but I really hope not.  I really can't bear the thought of that.  I sure hope we are snuggling on our couch when the olympics are in Rio. Let's just pretend that's the case, ok?

Other than that, things here are life as usual. Dad started a new job. He likes it. I am debating between whether or not to start a project in your room.   I hung out with your friend Addy today. She is too funny--I know you are going to like her. We are looking forward to meeting one of your friends soon, as your "Aunt" Tracey from our small group will be having her little man or little lady any day now.  I love that we have so many friends waiting for you.  You'll have a whole playgroup waiting for you by the time you arrive.

Ok, Mister. I am off.  Love you. Praying for you.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Most-Watched Non-Live Event Ever

I don't know if I've ever expressed my love for the Olympics on here.  Here are some examples of my passion:

*In 1992 I had to go to bed during the ceremonies (I was 8 after all) so I had my best friend's mom tape them and we watched them Saturday morning over breakfast.

*In the 1994 olympics (not sure which one) I convinced my mom to put a TV in my bedroom so I could watch even when I went to bed. Though this may not be a big deal for today's generation of elementary kids, it was a BIG DEAL at the time. I mean, a tv in your bedroom? Unheard of.

*In the same olympics I remember freaking out because the radio was going to tell me how Nancy Kerrigan did and I didn't want it to be spoiled!

*I purchased the symphony soundtrack to the 1996 olympics and listened to it in my room on repeat. I also created a mix tape olympic themed routine and performed it at church camp that year. There was a toga, I remember a toga.

*In 1996 I taped EVERY SINGLE OUNCE of gymnastics coverage. I was so nervous in Kerry Strug's last vault that I ran upstairs and didn't watch. Don't worry- I rewound it. Also, it was replayed about six gazillion times.

*In our married years, E and I are known to always have on the olympics. This began because, well, we only had NBC for 2-3 years of our marriage. But we also both LOVE the olympics.

All that to say, guess what I'm doing for the next 17 days? Yeah, it's not hard to figure out.  We had the option to watch live theater last night but instead watched the opening ceremonies.  Big fan of the torch. And, this may not be a popular sentiment but, the rest of it? Eh.

Let's be honest, though, and admit that Beijing spoiled the olympic ceremonies for everyone ever.  I mean, really.  The torch lighting yesterday was stellar. And the fireworks were downright astounding.  But the giant Voldemort fighting the Mary Poppins army? I am sure it spoke to someone. But to me it just said, huh??

I am now watching cycling. I know nothing about cycling. But it's in the olympics and, dang it, I am going to watch it! Well, that, and I am nursing a case of plantar fasciitis so I am looking to keep myself busy while E goes on a run I desperately wish I was running.  I am going to run on Monday if it kills me. And it may. But we start our training schedule for the St. Jude marathon Monday and I don't intend to get behind.

In other news, we are dog sitting and it's the best thing to happen to Gabby in months. Scout and Gabs are best friends. Which means they run around my house snuggling and destroying things. And driving Rigo crazy--he keeps growling like a grumpy older sibling. And they say dogs don't prepare you for children. Sounds like a dog version of my mom's life in the mid 90s to me.   I was Rigo.

I hope your Saturday is filled with great olympics and is lacking destructive playmates and foot pain.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Not So Typical

Each day I keep thinking I will write a "typical day in the life" at my new job. Here's the problem with that: so far, I am convinced there really isn't a "typical" day.  It doesn't exist. Each day is different. There are days that are similar each week (looking at you, Sunday) but really, I just never know.  This might be one of my favorite parts. Well, to be truthful, I have lots of favorite parts.

I'm three months in now (as of next week) so I am still not sure I know 100% what I'm doing. Let me rephrase that: I am 100% sure I don't know all I'm doing.  But what I do know? It's good.  It's good.  I work with people who love Jesus. And like working together. And like me.  Woah. I am not bragging here, people. I'm just saying.  Yeah.  I get to come to work and pray with my coworkers. Or by myself.  I get to blog about things I like. I get to create activities for adorable children to help them love Jesus.  And I get to meet with volunteers and get to know them better.  And send emails. Lots and lots and lots of emails.  The only downside thus far is the intense construction noise spilling into our office from the main part of the church at every working hour.  And really? Not so bad.

So, instead of telling you about a typical day, let's just catch up, shall we? I mean, it's been too long since I just did a good old fashion tell you about my life sort of post.

Well for starters, it's hot. Really hot. So some of the things we usually do in the summer, like take the dogs for evening walks downtown, well, just sound miserable.  Yeah.  Our air conditioner is currently working so we spend a lot of time in our house hanging out and keeping cool.  I think I've seen every episode of Cupcake Wars.  In unrelated news, I crave cake a lot.  Many, many days. And I make a lot of cakes.

This week I said goodbye to my time sucker and good friend, The Bachelorette. I hosted the finale at my house.  If you don't like the Bachelorette, it's because you haven't watched it with us.  We had an amazing spread. I made homemade salted caramel pudding (a great option if you are trying to see how many delicious calories you can put in one cup) and cheddar meatballs.  My friends also brought dunkaroos dip, a jalapeƱo dip I can't find on the internet, great wine, brownies, and an ice cream cake with THE FINAL ROSE on it. OK, well, there were actually three roses on the ice cream cake. Whatever. My point is, it was a delicious show. And we had great company. It was delightful.  And I think we actually watched some of the show as well. Jef with one F I hope you make Rikki's mama happy for a long, long time. Or til I get fixated on a new season of the bachelor. Whichever comes first.

So it turns out the update is not that updateful. Yeah, that is a word now.  Shakespeare did it, so can I.

Off to see the man and finish an episode of something from HGTV.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Little Man Monday

Well hey, Little Man!

It's a Monday afternoon and I've been thinking all morning of what I would write you today.  I've been asked a lot lately what we know of you and when you are arriving. We don't know anything about you yet, including when you will arrive. Sometimes it's hard to answer these questions because I want to be at the point where I can tell them all about you or show them your picture. Alas, your picture may not even yet exist.  You know what's great though, Little Man? They truly want to know you. They want to be a part of your life and a part of your story. And even better? Almost every single one of these conversations ends by our friends and family saying they are praying for you.  You have quite the entourage praying for you!  I know the Lord hears every one of those prayers and he knows how desperately our family and community want you at home. And he'll bring you here, at just the right time.

Today in Ethiopia it is currently 61 degrees.  That sound lovely, Little Man. Here? Well, here it's 102. Yes, 102.  And i's been that way for a really long time.  Today's my day off and I am hunkered down inside, staying out of the heat.  And while Ethiopia is about to enter the rainy season, it hasn't really rained here in months.  The constantly changing, super different weather is just one example of how life will be really different when you arrive here.  Some things are obvious and others I am sure we won't realize til you get here. That's one of the reasons we'll cocoon at home until you've been here a little while--it will give us all a little time to get used to the differences.  Yes, all of us.

Life will be different for me too. Way different. Take today for example.  I just woke up from a nap.  My naps will probably be in short supply when you arrive.  As will my sleep at night.  You know what, though? I just can't wait. Even with all the changes I really look forward to how you will come in and turn our lives (and our hearts) upside down. We will never be the same. For the best.

Alright, sweat pea. I'll see you. Well, sometime.  Until then, we just pray and dream.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

8 Months DTE

 Time is flying!! While in some ways we know this wait will be (and is) long, it's crazy to think it's been 8 months already since our dossier went zooming across the world on an airplane.  We added one more link this week to Little IC's* chain in his room.

This month I chose to put our chain in the bouquet I got hubs for our five year anniversary.  It has 5 red roses and 13 roses total (since we were married on the the 13th). I found it pretty appropriate that the little man's chain go right in the middle of our wedding roses, yes?

The verse is Psalm 25:4 "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths."  

That chain's not getting shorter any time soon!  It won't be long before it's hitting the bed and we'll have to wrap it up and over the window.

This month the wait has been happy. I think in some ways it's easier knowing we're not close to a referral. We don't sit by the phone hoping the call will come. We don't fret about the last push for finances. We just pray earnestly for our son and keep going with life. I think it will be much harder to live like that when we are in the running for a referral.

Til then, though, we just keep waiting.

Mostly patiently.

*Imaginary Child

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stuffed: My Experience with The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference

It's been two weeks since I returned from The Gospel Coalition for Women conference. It's taken me two weeks to process and feel like I can even put my experience into words.  I had an amazing time.  But let me tell you it hasn't been without a little bit of struggle. Good struggle. But struggle nonetheless.

When I was hired by the church, they asked if I wanted to attend TGCW Conference and after thinking about it for all of about 12 seconds, I agreed. I mean, I am a conference person. You probably could have guessed this about me. By that I mean, there were nearly 4000 women at the conference. They all love Jesus. I knew only two of them--what an opportunity for the extrovert in me to make friends. No, that's not the real reason I came. But it is a reason.

More importantly, the speakers here are what I would call the "greatest hits" of theology today. Tim Keller. John Piper. D.A. Carson. Elyse Fitzpatrick. Paige Benton Brown. If there were ever a group of speakers that were serious about knowing God and getting others to seek his face, this is the lot. The conference itself had a sort of tagline: "a conference that is for women but not about women." What does that mean? It means the conference focused solely on the good news of Jesus, not on the specifics of being a Christian woman.

This really played out by serious, intentional theological discussion from Friday afternoon til Sunday afternoon. Picture hearing your favorite pastors with intense sermons hour after hour, all weekend long. It sounds good, right? But it also sounds, um, intense. And that's the best way I can describe this.  By Saturday night, all I could say was, "the brain is full." I kept repeating it over and over again, "the brain is full." I had tears in my eyes.  I didn't even know what to say.  It was good. But it was a lot.

Lucky for me, I got to build great relationships and really talk about what all these speakers were sharing with my heart. By Sunday, I was unpacking a little better. My heart and my head were still full but I was able to appreciate it a little more.  Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." We kept saying the conference was like a Thanksgiving dinner.  By the time you're in the middle, the fullness almost hurts. But you still want more because you want to taste each good thing on the table.  We tasted til we were stuffed.

So what did I learn after all this? On the broad spectrum, there were parts of scripture that I saw in a completely new way.  Paige Benton Brown spoke on 1 Kings and the temple. I'll be honest--I never thought I could be that excited about the Old Testament temple. But I was more than excited, I was blown away. As I'm typing this, I am actually listening to it again to try and grasp a little more. The conference intentionally went from Exodus to Revelation, tracing Jesus through the whole thing. Jesus? In the Old Testament?  You betcha.  God places his redemptive story through the entire Bible. We need only look.  Or in some cases, (like mine) we need to be shown.

The biggest takeaway I had was also what you might consider the simplest message:  all I need is the stripped down gospel--the good news of Jesus Christ.  That's the amazing thing about Christianity.  The deeper my faith gets, the more I learn, the longer I live this faith out, there aren't any new steps.  I don't have to learn a higher level of intellectual depth. In fact--the main message becomes fresh and new and more important than ever. What I learned at The Gospel Coalition is this: Our God is absolutely more powerful and more holy than we can imagine. From the beginning of humanity, he's wanted a relationship with us. But we are so, so sinful. Our condition is worse than we can ever imagine. That's why he sent his son. He loved us so deeply that he gave up his perfect son in exchange for us, so that we might have relationship with him. It's nothing we did--everything was done by Jesus and his death on the cross. We can't be loved any more or any less because of good deeds we do.  If we are in Christ, when God looks at us, he doesn't see anything we've done at all. He sees his spotless son. And one day, full redemption will happen with a new heaven and a new earth.

Sound familiar? Elementary, even?  Sure is. It's the same concepts we teach in Crossing Kids each week. The same stuff I learned on a felt board in my Sunday school class growing up.  That's the amazing thing about the gospel. The Good News.  It is all we need. It's old. We've heard it. And yet. YET. The Holy Spirit makes it new in us over and over again.  I will be honest and say I know I can't even grasp how much my God loves me.  Can you?  No way.

The gospel is amazing because it is both so simple and so complex.  It's enough. It's enough when we are three and it's enough when we have heard it 300 times. Jesus loves you. And me. And he died for us. Because he loves us. To have relationship with us. Forever.

Yes, I made great friendships that weekend.  I took so many notes. I learned about the danger of comparison from Carolyn Mahaney and the splendor of Revelation from D.A. Carson. I have so many books that I want to read as a result of the conference.  But more than anything, I got time to bask in the glory of our God and his perfect son Jesus.  And that is all I can ask for. Ever.

To read, watch, or listen to the Gospel Coalition speakers, go to

Don't think about whether you want to. Just do it.  You'll be so glad you did.  And then email me. And we'll grab coffee and share the gospel all over again. Yes, we'll both have heard it.  But I have a feeling the Father will make it fresh to us all over again.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Little Man Monday

Good Morning, Little Man!

It's early on a Monday morning and I am already thinking of you.  Your dad and I went on a run this morning and a dad with a jogging stroller passed by us.  Your stroller is sitting empty in our garage, waiting for you. Oh I can't tell you how I long to have you in that stroller. And yet, I am a little nervous. I mean, I am not so strong. I may need to start lifting weights or borrow our friends' kids to try to prepare myself for the extra struggle. Then again, maybe I'll just make Dad push you.

I watched a video this morning of another family from our agency bringing their daughter home and I must say it was so emotional. I really can't even imagine what that day will feel like, when this paperwork is done. When the months and years have passed and finally have a picture of you in our hands.  When we've met you and cried and left you and cried like I can't even imagine. When we wait and pray and wait and maybe get a little angry. When we get that email that you are cleared to come home and we pack up to bring you home for good. When I get to hold you, knowing that I won't have to leave you ever again because you are coming home to occupy your room and be a part of our forever family.  Son, it's too much.  Too much.  The day is coming and I keep reminding myself that when you are ten and running through Hy Vee or when you are fifteen and I am watching you play football this wait will feel so brief.  Even if it doesn't feel that way today.

I may go sit in your room today. Somehow it feels a little closer to you. I know you don't even know a room designated as yours even exists.  So we'll pray that you know you are loved by a family here. That your birth family knows.  That you and I will be united soon.

I love you, son. I can't wait to bring you home.  Even if the wait is long.


Your Mom

Saturday, July 7, 2012

4th of July and Adoption Updates

Well I have a post hanging out there about my trip to The Gospel Coalition but there's a lot of thinking required in that post. When it's been more than 100 degrees each day for two weeks, thinking is in short supply. I mostly do things that require little brain power and little more action than lying on the couch. At least I am honest.

Fourth of July was fantastic. We spent it at my parents' house. I realized it was the first time off and my first trip to their house since Christmas. I call their house our refuge and I totally mean it. My parents moved a week before my wedding five years ago.  What this means is that their home is not my home. So, going to visit them isn't exactly like going home. In reality, it's kind of better. I don't have a ton of people to catch up with. In fact, I only know a handful of people. I don't need to go a ton of places. Please. They live in a town of a handful of thousand people. There are not a ton of places in the option menu. A Wal Mart. A grocery store. A McDonalds. I visited one out of three.

All of this to say, when I go visit my parents, I mostly just relax in their home, enjoy their HGTV (we don't have that channel at our house and my mom and I share a love of it), spend tons of quality time with the people who raised me, and get in some good exercise. My parents are both exercise gurus so it's rare that we go to their house and don't get some sort of physical activity. This time there was an exercise class and a 5k. Let me tell you a little story about the exercise class.

So my mom is a little bit of a hometown hero. At fifty something years old, the woman runs every morning with a  group from her hometown that she and my dad founded. Then, several nights a week, she also does some sort of cardio class. She was even written up this week in her town's fitness center newsletter for her inspiring story. She likes to take me to classes with her when I visit. Her friend Susie is the perfect instructor: one part Barbie, one part demon, all parts physically fit.  Susie was teaching on Tuesday and Mom had promised we'd be there. I hadn't been feeling the best but I'd run four miles the day before so I figured I was out of the woods.  Eh. I figured wrong.

The class was circuit training and let me say for the record it takes a whole different kind of fitness to do strength circuits than it does to jog a few miles. I get there, grab my weights, plyo-ball, and mat, and start the class.  We start with lunges and I for sure know I can feel it. But I am the youngest one in the class, I am the visitor, and I am a little stubborn, so I keep going full speed ahead. Here's the thing about me: most people will stop when they feel that natural "I don't feel good and my body is telling me to stop" feeling. Not me.  I am a competitor at heart and those of you who share that trait know it makes everything a competition. I start to feel shaky. I start to feel dizzy. I keep lunging. At the start of our third circuit, I realize I may need to just march it out and try to gain composure. As I do that, I realize, it's too late. I run out the door, outside to the 104 degree heat, and proceed to dry heave for about four minutes. I come back in and try to rejoin. I can't feel my hands and feet.

Yes, I am that girl. The girl who can't finish the aerobics class.

And so my mom the rockstar grabs her things and takes me home.  The questions immediately began asking if I was exercising for two.

Because everyone knows that near passing out during exercise is the first sign you're pregnant.

I am not pregnant.

I. am. not. pregnant.

But it seems like you can't do anything at 28 years old without someone asking.  Especially if you turn green in an aerobics class.

I went home, took a shower, and felt the best I've felt in days. Seriously.  But it did mean I walked the 5k the next day. I wasn't about to risk turning green two days in a row in a small town that talks.

For the record, I am back to my normal self and even ran 4 miles today.  But I do have a bone to pick with Susie--my legs are still on fire from all those lunges.

In the adoption world, I realized I hadn't given a report lately.  Let me say this--it's so very slow in our side of the world. But in a small victory, there were 15 referrals (referral is a child-family match) in the month of June. In one week alone we had eleven. ELEVEN!!!! Usually it's a victory if we have one in a week. Heck, the average has been one to three infant or toddler referrals in a month. So the numbers were staggering!! Amazing!! And we so praise God for his answering our prayer for referrals.

The next question is always, "Oh my goodness! What number are you now? Are you close!?!?" And the answer is.


We are not close.

We are not even close to close. We are, as of today, unofficially number 56 and 17 (infant and toddler lists). You may look at 17 and think that seems close but the reality is the toddler referrals are few and far between.  So we still think 3-5 years is accurate. But we also know we serve a God who is amazing. And he provided us with 15 referrals in June so anything is possible!!

Alright, well, I'm off for now.  I've got things to do. But not lunges. I am sworn of of those babies for a while.

Did I just say babies?