Adoption, My Story

Adoption Update: May 2020 – Feeling the Ache


Photo by Jake Ryan on

My arms feel the weight of his body. I can feel his warmth as he nestles close to me. The scent of his skin and hair is so sweet. The ache for my next baby is real. Every once in a while, I get a wave of longing for my next baby. I feel the anticipation of being a mother once again very keenly. And in all this, I must wait. This is where we’re at in the adoption process. This is the stage where I have to keep my dreams fresh, keep my hope alive, and practice patience. 

It’s been 6 months since we were approved to adopt (and so much longer since we started the process and first dreamed of adopting). In that time we’ve had one opportunity to be shown to a birth mom, another one ‘in the works’ and a time or two when a friend has mentioned a potential adoptable baby and the ‘Would we be interested if it all worked out?’ question. Unfortunately, none of these have worked out so far, yet I still keep my hope alive and remind myself that God has a plan for our family and the next precious addition. 

Adoption Attorney…

This month we took the next step of contacting an adoption attorney to find out what she offers for prospective adoptive parents as they wait for an adoption match. She was very kind and full of information gained through years, even decades of experience. We found out that our state does not allow attorneys to ‘match’ expectant mothers with prospective adoptive parents. However, she can show our adoption profile book to interested expectant mothers and she can answer questions for us and help us to ascertain whether a possible adoption match is real vs. unreal (or likely vs. unlikely to bring adoption through to finalization). 

One thing she mentioned was that she doesn’t consider adoptive parents to be really and truly in the full-swing of the adoption process until they’ve done three things: 1) contacted an attorney, 2) contacted an agency, and 3) started personal networking. This was really interesting to hear. I guess we’re on the right track since we’ve got two out of three done! Step three is the networking piece. And this is just to put a little bug in your ear, but would you keep us in mind if you hear of anyone who needs to make an adoption plan? We’re not asking you to ‘find our next child’ but rather to keep in the back of your mind that we’re looking to adopt.

So, we are trying our very best to only take next steps as we feel led by God. We feel like we’re being led to take steps that appear to be quite slow in the adoption world. Often people smatter their adoption portfolio onto every available online matching site, list with multiple agencies, and really ‘work’ to find an adoption match. But, that’s not the way we’ve felt God tell us to do it for now. So, we started with a small local agency. Then we let people know we were adopting and waited. After some time it became clear that our next step was to contact an attorney and from that conversation, we knew it was time to get more bold in our networking. 


In some ways, moving through this process a little more slowly has been good for me, personally. (I’m not making a statement that every person should do things exactly as we are doing, only sharing the journey that God’s taking me on.) It’s given me a lot of time to think about the changes that are coming. It’s given me time to research and pray and ponder and discuss so many different facets of adoption. It’s helped me to slow down and enjoy the dream of my next child instead of taking constant action and being on the wheel of go-go-go, that in my case, often takes my mind off of the emotional and reflective side of things. 

But I must admit… I’m getting weary of only having reflection and emotion in this time. I’m ready for some action! I’m sure many of you can relate. We’ve all waited for something at some point in our lives. 🙂 The longing that’s been hitting me recently is also a push to talk about it with everyone who’s following along. Many of you have asked us what’s going on with our adoption journey. Thank you for asking. It’s good for me to talk about it. With that prompting, I knew I was ready to write this post, even when I feel like I don’t have anything new to share. I know there’s still value in sharing the process as it continues on.

Because this is part of the process of adoption… The Wait. The Anticipation. The Dream. There is a part of me that wants to focus on the ‘the wait’ in a negative light. I want to complain and whine and say, ‘Why is this taking so long?’ I want to ask the question, ‘When will this happen for us?’ But there’s that other part of me that’s fighting for patience and HOPE! The other side focuses on the anticipation of what’s to come with positivity and JOY! The dream of my next child brings up feelings of warmth and excitement.

While I Wait…

The question I’ve had to wrestle with is, ‘Which side of the spectrum do I want to focus on? The annoying waiting or the anticipation of a dream actualized?’ I’m not sure the answer is to focus solely on either of these. As I think about it, I don’t want to stop dreaming, but I also don’t want to miss the ‘now.’ In the meantime, in the waiting, I still have a life to live now. God is still doing something with me now! He’s not waiting for this new family addition before He sets my purpose into motion. No, there are many things that God is growing in me, teaching me, moving my heart on, and using me to be a change in my sphere of influence.

Ironically, I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to wait to be the person right now today that God so wonderfully purposed me to be. I don’t have to wait for the next big step in my life to come to fruition before I step out, speak out, live out what God has for me. I want to be a person of the PRESENT, not one living in the past or the future only.

Thank you, God, for the dreams you’ve put in my heart. They are truly wonderful! I ask that you help me to live in the present moment… while I wait.

family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Partnering with God

Remember Last Fall When…

Last Fall I shared a reminiscent story of how God cares about little children’s desires. The blog post was about the time our neighbor found a lost Siamese kitten and they said we could have it. I was so excited because I had wanted one really badly and my mom had even prayed that we’d somehow get one and then we did! Well, a few weeks after publishing that blog post, two Siamese kittens came up as available for adoption at our local humane society. I wouldn’t usually know about new kitten arrivals, but because my mom was volunteering at the time, and just happened to be doing a different volunteer task that day, she noticed them. She let me know about these kitties immediately and many things came into alignment which allowed my family to adopt them! I felt like God was confirming again that He loves me just as much as an adult as He did when I was a child. It was so uplifting to my heart.

Well, it’s happened again! I wanted to take the time to share about it with you and I think the larger lesson that comes from this is…When we’re obedient to do the things God asks us to do, His subsequent gifts bring us more joy and gratitude because of our partnership and obedience.

And Now This Spring…

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post on the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity. Through my research on this topic, I discovered more about my family’s history and heritage of simplicity and how it also has been working out in my own adult life. Then I got to share some of my thoughts on this subject during a Facebook Q&A through our church. It was a lot of fun and I was reminded yet again about how much I love to share the things that God is teaching me with other people!

Two Extra Large Totes Full of Clothes!

This all came back to mind recently when my neighbors dropped off two HUGE bins of girls’ clothing for my daughters and some of my nieces in our neighborhood. You see, re-using material goods is one of the outward actions of living simply. To me, I can be a wise steward of my money when I buy clothing second-hand. So many clothes can be worn over and over again and still have plenty of life in them. So, I love to find great deals on used clothes for my kids and the kids don’t really know the difference between brand-new, thrift-store-bought, or hand-me down clothes. They’re excited about them no matter what – because it’s still new to them!

This came about because, while working in my front yard a few weeks ago, these neighbors walked by and I stopped them to ask them if they’d be willing to allow me to buy their daughter’s clothes since there wouldn’t be garage sales this year due to the stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. I knew from past years that they have great clothes and they’re just the right size for my daughter! So, I suggested that either I could pay a lump sum for the clothes, or I could go through the items and choose what I’d like to buy and pay them separately for each one. I also mentioned that I’m not the only who has benefited from their garage sales in the past, but that my sister and two of her girls have as well! 

One week ago these neighbors came to my door with two large totes FULL of girls’ clothes, shoes, and accessories. In addition to the excitement of having so many new items to look through, I was doubly excited when they told me that we could ‘just have’ all the clothes at no cost!!! I was floored. I mean, it’s not like we have a close relationship with these people outside of the usual pleasant conversations and friendly waving that happens from time to time. But, they chose to gift us with enough clothes to last for years! This gift basically clothed three girls for this summer and into the winter. The clothes will be passed down to girl after girl until either they’re not wearable any longer or we run out of girls! I am overwhelmed with joy by this gift and so thankful.

The Lesson I’ve Learned and Keep Learning…

God’s faithfulness is nothing to dismiss. He is faithful every time. He loves to give gifts to His children – of all ages. He will give to us regardless of our actions, but there is something so precious when we cooperate with Him and see a reward too! In this case, it was writing and talking on my experience of Simplicity. Then God brought a gift from others to us in the realm of this topic and we are blessed to continue to live out this spiritual discipline.

Over this past year, God has asked me to share my experiences, to be open with my ideas, and to transparently be available to those around me. It’s not always easy to ‘go out on a limb’ in the social media space and so when He confirms our partnership in ways I’m not expecting (Siamese kittens and donated kids’ clothes) I’m filled with the warmth of His love and overflowing with gratitude to My Father who never leaves me and always provides for me.

Writing this post leads me to wonder, “How can this story help others?” I enjoy sharing the story, but what is the bigger value for those reading/hearing it? Well, I want others to be filled with hope that God is a faithful Father. I want people (my blog friends for instance) to think about times that God has asked us to partner with Him and what was the outcome? Was it encouraging? Was there fruit from your actions, or in some cases, inaction? Do you feel more inspired to jump into the partnership that God is asking you to join?

Oh, I hope you do! It’s so totally worth it, always. It might not always be easy or pretty. You might not even see the ‘happy results’ immediately or even soon after, but I know that God is always working good from our obedience and He will reveal all that in the perfect time. So, I say… Go in peace and confidence that the God who calls us also takes care of us.

family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Isolation and Over Self-Focus

I was washing dishes the other day, reflecting on conversations I had had that day, assessing what I was feeling and thinking, and thinking ahead about supper. Then a thought came into my mind that made me stop, consider, and immediately write it down.

It’s hard to NOT focus just on myself and my needs when the only person I’m interacting with daily is myself.

Whoa, this thought felt like it had something more to it if I’d take the time to really think more deeply on it. I had to put it aside for the most part then because I needed to make supper, but I’d like to take that journey now.

When it all Started…

It all started with Coronavirus. We heard about other countries being quarantined, and new countries being infected daily. Then we got the first stay-at-home order. I think it was for something like 2 weeks. Okay, well anyone can do two weeks, right? Then it got extended for another month. Now, from my own experience I was all right with that because we hadn’t lost our jobs and I very happy for a break from the go-go-go that comes in Spring! My husband and I even said to each other, “We could do this another month!” It’s been such a good chance to recover, stop and slow down. And of course, we say this fully knowing that there are many reasons this wouldn’t be good, but I’m just going to stick with speaking from our experience (otherwise this post would be VERY long). 

Well, it happened. We got the news at the end of April that our state would be implementing another month of stay-at-home orders AND we’d need to begin wearing face masks whenever we went out in public.

By this point I felt a little less excited by this process, but let’s look at the good things! I don’t have to do the morning rush of getting the kids out to school and all the emotional stress that sometimes brings. I don’t have to parent alone as frequently and we eat almost all meals together! These are great things for our family! But, the ache of missing my loved ones was creeping in more and more. I missed hugging my Mom. I missed having my kids being able to freely visit their grandparents and friends. I missed going to the store without an underlying feeling of anxiousness. And then there were the things I didn’t even know I was missing.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see now, some of the loneliness and dissatisfaction that was creeping in. Even though I didn’t miss getting my youngest out the door to be babysat, I missed the interaction I regularly had with those babysitters during drop off and pick up. Even though I didn’t miss the fast and sometimes hectic Sunday mornings of getting ready for church, I missed the easy ‘Hi there, Hello’ and quick hand wave that came with seeing so many people each week who I knew, not to mention the hugs of some of my favorite people! As we creeped into Spring and this extended time of isolation, I missed the freedom to plan my day – going to the library to get new books, planning BBQs with friends and family, and choosing ANY restaurant to eat at without needing to think too much about it.

Isolation Continues….

So, when the next month of the stay-at-home order started I began to get irritated. I was short tempered with my family, I felt empty and therefore unmotivated to do anything, and I couldn’t put my finger on how to make it better. That’s when my husband said to me, “Sweetie, I can’t help but notice, but I think you’re feeling a bit restless. Why don’t you go out and get a coffee and call up your sister and see if she’ll go with you. You can go for a walk together.” 

Missing our Church Family

I texted my sister and she was able to join me too! It was GREAT! We got our coffee and I talked, and cried about life, about how I was feeling and all that. Then we drove to one place that we both missed so much – the church parking lot! We are both keenly missing our church family. We sat and talked and talked and TALKED for so long. I shared my problems, she shared her problems and we were able to encourage each other just by listening to one another – in person. 

(Now, before I go any further I want to make a disclaimer and request. Please do not send me comments shaming me for breaking social distancing rules this one time. I have not made a habit of doing this and we are being thoughtful in following social distancing and hand washing directives as a family. Thank you.)

When I came home that afternoon, I was smiling, my mind felt more focused, and I wasn’t restless anymore. I had the energy and motivation to get moving with the tasks in my life and interact more kindly with my family. (Again, I am not publicly suggesting that we all go and break social distancing. This is not a political post, a shaming post, or a taking-a-stance post. I’m just sharing about one point in my life during all this craziness.)

The Realization…

That’s the night when I had the thought mentioned earlier, “It’s hard to NOT focus just on myself and my needs when the only person I’m interacting with daily is myself.” You see, I didn’t realize that I started to over self-focus until I had spent time with my sister and listened to her struggles. When I was stuck at home, not interacting face-to-face with people, my thoughts focused on myself and my family. What do I/we need? What are our problems? What can I do to make these needs and bad feelings go aways? Am I the only one feeling this way? And of course, if I’m feeling this way, then everyone else must be too. 

It was good to get some confirmation that I wasn’t the only one feeling some of the ways I was feeling, but even better than that was hearing about the struggles and needs of another person and family. It helped to broaden my current perspective because not only was I hearing about her needs and problems, but I was also SEEING her face and HEARING her emotion close-up. This totally helped me get outside of myself. In getting outside of myself and my problems, my heart opened to the needs of others in a new and different way and my ever-so-important self-needs started to seem not so intense. Others’ needs weren’t ‘out there’ anymore, but were right in front of me!

I feel like this idea applies to all of life, not just this COVID-time. There are plenty of times when I find myself getting down and in those times, I might even choose isolation instead of reaching out to people. Yes, sometimes I need time alone to refocus and recharge, but a lot of times I need time with people, with the human race. Sometimes I need time alone first, but I have to remember the second part which is to reengage. It’s so important to be reminded that my needs aren’t the only reality in the world today. When it’s my personal reality it can be hard to imagine a different reality. But when I take the time to listen to other people and their personal realities, my own heart can be changed. It is shifted from a place of self-focus to a place of others-focus. That shift gives me the balance I need to live out JOY (Jesus, Others, Myself).

family, God, My Story

Living Simply: The Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity

What is it?…

So, I’ve been thinking about the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity lately. Our church is doing a series on some Nurturing a Secret Place with God through Spiritual Disciplines right now and I’ve been asked to join a ‘Facebook Live Q&A’ about them, specifically for the simplicity portion. When I was asked, I literally thought to myself, ‘Simplicity is a Spiritual Discipline? What is it and why would I be the one asked?’ Haha. So, I’ve been spending time researching simplicity, assessing how it shows outwardly in my life and how it actually is inwardly. I’ve also reached out to my mom and sister to discuss simplicity in my family of origin and I’ve got to say… I’ve learned a lot.

As I’ve come to understand it, Simplicity is about having a single purpose and living from that purpose so that everything else is secondary to that purpose.  Mainly this would be something like serving God, obeying God, or seeking after God and God alone. Often this inward purpose ends up pushing the need to have status or possessions aside in order to follow after God as the first priority. 

So, simplicity might look like seeing a person who makes a purchase only after making careful consideration of how useful that item actually would be in their life. You might see someone giving things away because those practicing simplicity learn to hold material possessions very loosely. You might even notice that a person would prefer to borrow and rent things instead of buying them (think of all those library patrons) or enjoy public parks and other public places rather than going to a private, admission-only place. Also, people practicing simplicity learn to spend only the money that they have in order to live without debt. This allows the person to be easily moved whenever God leads them. They are not held back by debt, but can give generously and even physically move at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Some of our favorite public places: Champaign Public Library, Museum of the Grand Prairie, and Local Garage/Fundraising Sales

Outward and Inward Simplicity…

These are just a few of the things I learned as I delved into my research on the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity. Reading these things, I had to agree that yes, I could see why I might be asked to share on this subject. If I’m feeling especially critical of myself, I’d see the negatives and say it’s because I don’t keep up with the latest trends or fashions, my house and yard are yet to be fully decorated and landscaped, and I have a hard time spending money on extravagances. This right there would cause someone to outwardly think I’m living pretty simply.

But what about the spiritual side of it? What was happening inwardly? I mean, what I mentioned above was a negative outward view of myself and of simplicity. What is the inward reality of a person choosing to practice simplicity? As I looked around on various blogs and in books, I came to discover that simplicity seems to be largely geared towards living from a single purpose, and in the Christian’s sense, to be so focused on God and His purpose through you so much that nothing else really matters. I gotta admit, that didn’t seem like me. That seemed like my sister, or my husband, or anyone else, except me. Yes, I love God. Yes, I obey Him and live my life in a way that I hope pleases Him. But, I don’t feel very ‘focused’ on a single purpose, when I think about the scattered mess of a brain I’ve been known to have.

Looking Back…

So, dig a bit more, I did! Again, I wasn’t feeling very much like I had a lot to say on this subject, but I wasn’t going to throw in the towel just yet. I looked back into my past, my childhood, but this time with a more positive view. Yes, it’s true that I didn’t have a lot of things growing up. Our life was very simple. We often went to garage sales and second-hand shops for our clothes, shopped for generic brand food instead of name brand, and used up everything we owned, making sure it was well spent. 

I always assumed this was because we didn’t have the money for the ‘latest and greatest’ things that other families had. It is true that when my parents separated we were on food stamps for a while and my mother received Welfare to care for us. This didn’t last forever, but it was a very memorable time in my child-life. Then, when my mom did get a job, we didn’t qualify for government assistance anymore and so I learned what it was like to live on the income of a single mother (+ child support). It wasn’t easy to go without so many things that I saw my friends have, but I will concede that I had my family and a few good friends to more than make up for what I didn’t own.

Missionary Family…

With this in my memory, I called Mom to confirm these things. Yes, all this was true, but then she revealed something I didn’t know. Something that I only experienced for the first eight years of my childhood and half of that was pre-memory age! She told me that after her and Dad had been missionaries overseas for a decade and had seen how so much of the world lives, they made a conscious decision to live simply in the USA. She said, “Both [your dad] and I determined after being around the world [that] we could only live simply because of the ethics of how most people have to live. We chose to give a lot of money to humanitarian [efforts] and missions. Something we could not have done if we lived like other Americans.” She went on to share that some of the church families with kids didn’t want to be friends with us because “we did not buy all the extra trappings of American lifestyle. It hurt me deeply but we were committed to simple living.” 

Wait, what?!? Did Mom just say that my parents had a goal to live simply and that it wasn’t due to a lack of money, but because of a single purpose – to give to missionaries and humanitarian efforts? Did she really just say that I was raised in an atmosphere where the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity was practiced on a large scale, the scale of our family’s life? Wow! I didn’t know that! It was AMAZING to find out. How wonderfully uplifting and what a big change in perspective of my childhood! 

All of a sudden, so many things made sense to me! That’s why I got the hand-me-down clothes that had been through all the girls in another family before they came to me. That’s why we didn’t buy packaged food, but ‘had to eat lentils and other healthy foods!’ Yuck!  (although, my sister loves lentils). That’s why we always had a car that regularly got ‘fixed up’ by Dad – a mechanic, instead of having a shiny new one! I didn’t know it was a choice for simplicity, I thought it was a result of not having money.

The house where my parents lived while missionaries. They decorated with donated items and lived with simplicity. Bonus – I got to visit the house location last year!

My Heritage…

With this new understanding in mind, I reached out to my sister. She lived more years of the ‘simple life’ with our intact family than I did and I wanted to get her opinion. She 100% agreed with Mom. She said, “I think we were raised that way [with simplicity]. It probably had a lot to do with being a missionary family… Also, I would say that Grandpa and Grandma Johnson [Mom’s parents] definitely lived that way out of necessity because of choosing to serve the Lord [as pastors] their whole lives in small country churches. I think it’s part of our heritage.” 

My mind was reeling! Yes! This is it! It is a heritage! My grandparents lived focused on serving God in small country churches and they implemented simplicity. Then my parents focused on serving God and those around the world by giving away what they had and thereby  implemented simplicity. When it finally came my turn to be grown-up and raise a family, what did I do? I brought the values of simplicity into my family life. And beyond that, when faced with the option to have my husband continue in our plan with a higher paying job or follow God’s plan to serve Him in lower-paying ministry, we chose to sacrifice our well laid out plans for God’s plan, which meant we’d need to implement simplicity too.

Material Possessions…

Maybe there’s more to this ‘simplicity’ being in my life than I realized. So, I moved on to assessing how I’ve viewed possessions from the past to the present. I moved around A LOT when I was growing up. It often felt like the only constant thing in my life was my family and my stuff. This showed when I packed boxes of material memories move after move. It wasn’t until my husband asked me about all these things ‘I just had to have’ that I started looking deeper. I came to realize that my material possessions represented constancy to me at a time when I didn’t have that. They also helped me access memories that I was afraid I would forget if I got rid of them. Many of my possessions were linked to insecurity and fear.

As I’ve come to a place of constancy in my life, I realize that I no longer need these ‘things’ to ground me anymore. I no longer need them to ‘go with me’ through my life. I am grounded in God and His constancy and that will never change. God also helped me to see that I could keep memories even without keeping the items. So, items that were boxed away for years, were finally purged. I learned that I could either take a photo of the object to aid my memory or even  more reassuring was the lesson that I really would remember the things that were so important to me. I also realized that many of these items had bad memories associated with them along with the good. As I let go of the items, I released a lot of the bad memories that went with them, but many of the good memories stayed! 

A Choice…

Now when I look at my current life, I can see the positives of simplicity in my life. I’ve chosen to be content with being a bit behind the curve of the latest trends or fashions because I’m comfortable in who God made me, I’ve chosen to have my house and yard improve slowly because I have certain goals that are a higher priority, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to be extravagant here and there because otherwise, the rule of no-extravagance will breed legalism in me and squeeze out grace towards others.

Well, I guess I have some experience with simplicity after all. It hasn’t just been something that my circumstances have thrown at me. I’m not a victim to simplicity. No, I’ve made a choice! I’ve made the choice to live in a way that is counter-cultural. I’ve made a choice to steward all that God has given me. I’ve made the choice to lay down my plans (ie. physicist husband) and follow the lead of God each step of the way. 

In the end, I’m going to continue to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity in my life. But this time, I’m consciously making the choice for myself and for the generations who come after me. I now understand the inward thinking that drives the outward actions I take. I think I’ll be able to be even more purposeful in my attitudes and actions towards simplicity. No longer will I wonder why I do what I do, but now I’ll know why I do these things. I’ll have a driving focus that helps me make my decisions and reason them out. I won’t be tossed like a leaf blown in the wind, instead I’ll have a rudder to guide my metaphorical boat. I’m excited to see how this new understanding will work out in the coming years and on into the next generation.


SIMPLICITY AND FREEDOM: Ten Principles for Practicing Simplicity

The Discipline of Simplicity by Richard Foster

The Spiritual Disciplines: Simplicity