Our eyes have seen His glory

Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

Because, well, it's just HARD. Pretty much all of it.

I've had a hard time trying to write about the adoption process and Evie Ruth's birth.
I'm not sure anything could have been more bittersweet. I still don't know how a human being has the capacity to experience that much joy and that much pain all at the same time. And then there are just so many parts of this story that simply belong to Evie Ruth. They are hers to share or keep, not mine.

The whole process has seriously reminded me of "Frogger" at times...
That is, if I was the frog and if the setting was downtown Manhattan at rush hour.
And if the frog was one legged and cross eyed.
And maybe a little bit drunk.
(Coincidentally, that's pretty much how my frog always behaved in the actual game. User error? I've always preferred to think it was a malfunction in the game)

So yeah.... it's hard. And I've struggled with what I should share. Especially since amazing, deep, holy things aren't exactly my forte. I'm much more comfortable in the land of "safe" topics and sarcastic humor. Haven't quite figured out the best way to say, "Hi! How's work going? Oh and by the way, you wouldn't believe what God did for me". Perhaps it's my segue that needs help.
I'm working on it.

But seriously, the things that He's done for us!

In this adoption process God has shown Himself to us.
He has made His glory known.
His Holy Spirit guided us.
He provided for us in every way.
He carried us through.

Pretty sure that's not something I should keep to myself. Shouting it from the rooftops would really be much more appropriate.

God guided us past our own plans and desires for our lives, and gently showed us part of a different plan - His plan. I have to be honest, we weren't reaaaally so much on board at first. We were mostly good with our plan. Perhaps because, oh I don't know, it was what we wanted to do.
But He's so gracious, He just kept pushing. He led us through our doubt. Doubts about if this was truly His will for our lives, then doubts about money, and then doubts about domestic adoption. He blessed our efforts to find a way to pay the adoption fees. He held us up through a year of botched paperwork, delays, setbacks, and so much frustration. He led us through our own hesitation. He guided us through the process of forming a relationship with ER's birthmom. His love cast out our fear, and He gave us peace, overwhelming peace, while we waited in the hospital with a precious baby we loved - but who wasn't ours yet. He surrounded us with support while we waited to come home.

He stretched us beyond where we thought we could go. We saw our own ragged, tattered, dirty, worthless selves, and then He reminded us that He makes us new. He changed our hearts. He drew us closer, and He allowed us to see Him more clearly.

He is so gracious, our God!
Through one chubby, precious, wiggly, opinionated, adorable curly-headed baby girl - He has given us a glimpse of His glory.

My heart is so grateful we didn't miss the chance.


University Pickers

We checked out a new antique mall today, and while I would love to keep it all to myself it's just so fabulous I have to share.

University Pickers.

The grand opening was just two weeks ago, and if you haven't been yet - GO! Seriously, it's awesome. And it really isn't "just another antique mall". They have so many wonderful vendors, and the booths range from cool handmade products to awesome repurposed vintage creations.

There are so many fun, gorgeous things... like this super cute bunting I got today for Evie Ruth's room!

I love it! 
(And lest you think I've lost it, let me go ahead and assure that no,
 it will not be permanently hung on the dresser knobs.)

And these adorable (and giant!) flower clips for ER's hair.

Can't wait for ER to wear these! But then I do love giant hair accessories on babies.

Whenever you get a chance to go (because you really must go) be sure to wander around until you find the Renew booth. It's a line of fantastic natural skin care products - seriously, this stuff is wonderful. And it smells delicious! As in, I had to remind myself not to taste it. Don't judge. It's really that yummy. Also, all of the proceeds from this skincare line go toward a sweet family's international adoption fund! Which totally justifies me buying this stuff by the case, right?

This organic body butter is my favorite. Now I just need to find out if I can get it in a gallon jar...

University Pickers is open 7 days a week. Go. Just go. But leave your credit card at home - it's much too dangerous to have it with you.


I love this project. Probably because I spend waaayyy too much time in my car, which also means that I eat in my car, which means I always have a car full of trash, which means I always need a plastic bag handy to toss it in. It's also great because I'm constantly battling the mountain of unruly plastic bags under my kitchen sink - and losing!
This is the tutorial I followed to make my grocery bag holder - mostly. I didn't use fabric (too tricky to adhere) and I didn't use spray adhesive (too messy). I just used plain old Mod Podge and scrapbook paper. Hooray for cheap 10 minute projects!


UA Student Tickets, anyone?

We quite possibly may have the best friends and family ever. Really there's no question - we just do :)

The process of adoption is so many things: exhausting, exciting, and also rather expensive.....  but our friends and family have been there the whole way. They lift us up when we're weary, celebrate with us when we're excited, encourage us when things get tough, and help us out when the cost is overwhelming. They've worked with us and for us and have given in every possible way. They've given their time, their money, and they've never stopped lifting us up with encouraging words and in prayer. Basically, they're just awesome.

And now we have a sweet friend who is giving what some would consider to be the greatest gift of all...

University of Alabama football tickets.

If you're from Alabama then you understand. If you're not.... well then I'm just sorry, because you probably don't understand and I cannot possibly come up with an equivalent example of any kind ;)
Because our friend is so fantastic, they've offered to sell their student ticket package and give the proceeds to help out with our adoption expenses! I would like to take this opportunity to point out that we are Auburn fans. Which puts us on opposite sides of the biggest rivalry in college football.

People, that is true love.

Back to the tickets. This sweet friend has a student ticket package for all of the home games, which this year happens to include Auburn and Texas A&M. So if you are (or know of) a student who didn't get tickets and wishes that they had - let me know! This would be a great way to get tickets - and you would be helping fund an adoption at the same time. What's not to love?
The tickets are on sale in the Facebook Marketplace.

Hooray for sweet friends and the beginning of football season!


We're Matched!

We waited 7 months for our CAN clearances.

3 more months for our home study to be written.

In total, it took a year and 5 days just to complete our home study. Which is basically absurd.

I have to be honest, after all that waiting I was REALLY hoping for a stork drop situation to just fall in our laps. I would've been quite happy with absolutely no time to prepare, just a call to hop a plane and come get a baby - no more waiting required! Fly by the seat of your pants is basically how I operate, so it seemed like a pretty good option. I was really hoping.... and rationalizing. I mean, we had already waited so long for our home study - surely we could catch a break on the waiting for a match thing.

Ha! When will I learn?

Our home study approval finally came through around 3:30 pm on May 1st, and we learned about a possible situation that same afternoon! Our profile (along with a bunch of others) was shown that very night to a birthmom whose baby was already born. If she chose us, we would need to leave immediately. It was exciting to say the least... I couldn't sleep, forgot to eat, and checked my phone every twelve seconds - I was about as jumpy as a kangaroo on crack. Then we found out that she had narrowed it down to us and 3 other families. Which didn't exactly help with the jumpy-ness. After two days of wandering in circles holding the phone, we found out that the birth-mom had decided not to place the baby for adoption after all. We were disappointed and relieved all at the same time. This was one day before a weekend of vacation, followed by moving back into our house, and then immediately leaving for my little brother's wedding. Have I mentioned it was crazy?

Once that was all over and we could actually breathe again, I started getting agency applications ready to mail. I sent the first few out, and we got an email two hours later asking if we wanted our profile to be shown for a certain situation. We talked about it briefly and said yes. I overnighted our profile, and then we pretty much just forgot about it. No nervousness this time. The baby wasn't due for 5 more months, and we were sure that our baby would be born way sooner than that. Obviously this birth-mom wasn't going to choose us.

Except she did.

And just like that, we're matched!

Which brings me back to why I was hoping for a stork drop.
I was minimally terrified of meeting/getting to know the birth-mom. Or perhaps I was just straight up terrified. Try and think of something more awkward than introducing yourself, over the phone, to a pregnant woman you know almost nothing about, who has chosen you as her baby's adoptive parents from a 12 page "family profile".  Good luck. Not gonna happen. I'm pretty sure that situation wins the ultimate awkward award - exactly why I was hoping to avoid it. I was also hoping to avoid it for more selfish reasons. I didn't want to have to watch this play out from her side - I really wanted the fun, sweet, happy parts without the painful, difficult, sorrowful parts. Which was foolish. Adoption is always difficult, joyful, sorrowful, sweet, painful, and amazing.
I should know that.

I'm adopted.

Just like every other follower of Christ.

And our adoption was far more difficult, sorrowful, amazing, and joyful than this. The Son of God had to die on a cross to make our adoption happen.
What if He had decided to avoid the pain and sorrow?
I'm thankful, every day, that He chose instead to endure it, for me.

A relationship with this birth-mom is a blessing, an opportunity to follow my faith and walk beside her in love, whatever that may mean. It is a chance to serve, and hopefully to glorify Him in the process.
I can't believe I almost missed seeing that.

Yes, it's super awkward sometimes. Yes, it's WAY out of my comfort zone. Yes, she could still change her mind.
All of that is ok, because God's the one writing this story, not me.

Seriously, when will I learn?



We are officially home study approved. AHHHHH!
In other words, a whole bunch of people have collectively decided that we are responsible enough to adopt a child, and that we are capable of parenting said child. We have their signatures to prove it.

Excuse me while I pass out.

Since our agency operates with such amazing efficiency, we have only waited ONE YEAR (and 5 days, but who's counting?) for this. Impressive, right? We mailed our application on April 25th, 2011. Our completed home study arrived on May 1st, 2012. Whoa baby at the speed - it's almost blinding.

The fantastic news is that we are now to the part of the process where we could be matched at any time!
The terrifying news is that we are now to the part of the process where we could be matched at any time.

Oh dear.


Canebrake's HOA: Protecting the world from terrorist threats to yard uniformity&beautification

We received a delightful little note from our dear Canebrake HOA today. It went something like this:

Dear Canebrake Resident,
   It has been observed that you have a sign in your yard that is not Real Estate For Sale related.You are in violation of Article 569,198,651,739 Section ZXX, Paragraph (aaa) which clearly states that real estate signs are the only allowable type of yard signs. While we are truly sympathetic to the situation that the tornado damage has placed you in, we must all remember what is truly important - that you comply with the Canebrake Covenants, and remove the 2'x2' contractors sign in your yard.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

The Canebrake HOA

They're barrels of fun.
My response to the Canebrake Committee For The Prevention of Unapproved Yard Signs will be as follows:

Dearest Canebrake HOA,
  You have correctly observed that we have an unauthorized (*gasp*) sign in our yard. Our sincerest apologies for that flagrant violation of the sacred covenants of Canebrake.

While we're on the subject, we would like to bring to your attention the 20 ft. long, graffiti-covered dumpster in our driveway, the loose shingles, broken windows, plywood, roofing beams, and gutters that are currently piled in our front yard (and littering our entire street), the insulation, tar, and bits of other people's homes that are now embedded into the walls of our home, the destroyed patio furniture, grill, and fencing in our backyard, oh, and let's be sure not to forget the gaping hole in our neighbor's roof.
We see why you felt compelled to send the letter. The 2'x2' contractor's sign is quite clearly the biggest eyesore in the vicinity, and we wouldn't want it diminishing the beauty of our pristine street in the prestigious Canebrake Club.

We will happily remove the sign - in approximately two weeks when our contractor has finished replacing our roof, ceiling, garage door, drywall, flooring, and fence - the tornado "situation" you referred to and are so sympathetic toward.

Then again, we might just leave it.

We think it goes well with the unauthorized white vinyl privacy fence down the street, the unauthorized plastic playset one street over, and the unauthorized (yet undeniably classy) 8 foot inflatable snowman that another dear Canebrake neighbor brings out from November - January every year. Not to mention the blinking, blue, LED christmas lights that were strung on one of the largest houses in the neighborhood this past holiday season. Nothing makes me think of the miracle of Christ's birth more than those glorious, seizure-inducing, electric blue lights.

Thank you for dedicating yourselves to keeping our neighborhood safe from the terrifying threat of misplaced yard signs.

~Matt&Allison (two dear residents of Canebrake)