Monday, February 28, 2011

Encouraging Word and Preparation

I can't say enough regarding how blessed we have been by our family and friends listening to us, encouraging us, and supporting us during the past couple of weeks. This morning, I was sent the verse below by the wise and encouraging woman who leads myself and this group of amazing ladies (and "super-moms," might I add) on Tuesday mornings.

Psalm 94:17-19
"Unless the Lord had helped me, I would have soon died. I cried out, 'I'm slipping!' and your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer."

What a perfect description of all God has done in the past week!!

We have been healed, refreshed, and we stand waiting patiently on God to fulfill His plan for our family! Which means it's time to prepare the nursery!! I will have to say, it stressed me out just a little that we only had a few weeks to prepare a nursery. I'm a sale shopper and it usually takes me a long time to find what I want at the price I want. However, now that we really don't know how long we have, I most definitely feel the need to prepare a space for our little blessing. So... this is the bedding I ordered:

And this is what the floors (*fingers crossed*) will look like:

(loving this room w/ the white washed flooring!)

And, below are our paint options for the bottom half of the wall (the top half will be white). I'm leaning more towards the light gray and Warren prefers the darker gray (neither of us like the dark khaki color). I'm thinking about asking my mom to paint (yes, my little creative mother, this is a formal invitation) :) our little one's initials on this antique cabinet door and then hang it over the crib. 

It's so nice to feel's wonderful to (*finally*) be free to plan for the gift God is preparing...the gift of laughter down the halls, many sleepless nights (I'm sure), and sweet prayers before bed!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bits of Truth...Part II

If I have ever doubted the power of prayer, this week is proof of how God uses the prayers of others to intercede when we don't know how to pray for ourselves. One week ago, I was sitting in our house, grieving our adoption loss...depressed...I didn't want to be around others, I didn't want to pray, didn't want to return emails or phone calls...I just wanted to be alone with my husband. And, now, I sit here with renewed strength. Peace and healing I know only came from God. When Warren and I didn't know how to pray, others were praying for many of our dear family members and friends carried our burden over this past week...and, for that, I am eternally grateful. I wanted to share more scriptures and words others sent our way this week...

When you pray, I will answer you. I will encourage you by giving you the strength you need.  (Ps.138:3)

I, the Lord, will work out [fulfill, complete] my plans for your life, for my faithful love endures forever. I will not abandon you, for I have made you.(Ps. 138:8)

I have examined your heart and know everything about you. I know when you sit down and when you rise up. I know your every thought. I chart the path ahead of you and tell you when to stop and rest. Every moment I know where you are. I know what you are going to say even before you say it. I precede you and follow you. (Ps. 139:1-5)

I saw you before you were born. Every day of your life is recorded in my book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Ps.139:16)

I have promised you that all thing work together for your good and My glory.(Rom 8:28)

Think about these promises that are recorded in Ps. 145:17-20:

"The Lord is righteous in everything He does; He is filled with kindness.
The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes to all who call on Him sincerely.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them.
The Lord protects all those who love Him, but He destroys the wicked."

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

The comforter will teach you all things. John 14

So many other blog messages, personal emails, and facebook messages came our way...and I read each one with tears streaming down my cheeks. I know God used each tear to strengthen and heal these deep wounds. One week ago, I doubted God's plan...I even started believing that God did not have our best interest at heart. But, that is just not true! Though he may allow us to go through more pain and heart break in this process, it will be worth it all...I pray we are able to pass down a steadfast faith to our children. I want them to know that pain and grief are is who and what we rely on to handle it that matters.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crisis of Belief

Late Tuesday afternoon/evening it occurred to me that I have been in a crisis of belief. As I mentioned in my last post, Monday night I was in a very dark spot. I felt alone. I was under attack. I could physically sense a heaviness on my chest. And, even though I knew I wasn't, I felt lost and if God were nowhere near and had turned away from me.

...My fleshly mind began thinking "If God really loved me and was for me He would have kept us from going through this craziness--doesn't He know we've been through enough?"...and then the voice of truth reminded me that God allows us to go through pain and difficulty so we can know Him in a more intimate way--so we can truly say to others He IS the God of peace and comfort...He HAS BEEN my refuge.

But, my crisis is I ok with that? Am I ok that God sometimes will deliver me from trials and other times will deliver me through them? This is who He is...He is about glorifying His name and making us into the likeness of Christ...but, am I ok that He often uses our deepest sorrows to accomplish these purposes? My head answer is yes...of course I am ok with that...but, my spirit and flesh have been wrestling with these things. Ultimately, I am grateful God loves me so much that He wants me to know Him in a more intimate's just painful sometimes getting there. I have no doubt that spiritual warfare has been taking place. I also have no doubt that God is having the victory and Warren and I will both come out of this knowing Him in a deep and rich way.

In the hours of darkness and feeling abandoned, all I knew to do was claim scripture. So, I dusted off my 3x5 cards from my grad school days, on them wrote scripture I felt God wanted wanted me to claim, hole-punched the cards, and put it on this silver ring I found in our office supplies. Nothing pretty or cute, but I have carried this with me for the past few days...flipping through them when I felt lies were beginning to creep in. These pieces of truth have given me hope. Even though I can't keep from crying as I read them, I am somehow filled with peace.

Below are the scriptures (in "flip card" order) I have been claiming:

Psalm 18: 4-6
4 The cords of death entangled me;
   the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
   the snares of death confronted me.

 6 In my distress I called to the LORD;
   I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
   my cry came before him, into his ears.


Psalm 18:16-17 

 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
   he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
   from my foes, who were too strong for me.

2 Chronicles 20:17 

17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”

Psalm 40:1-3   

 1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
   he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
   out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
   and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
   and put their trust in him.

Psalm 138:8 
8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
      for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
      Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Psalm 34:18-19 

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
 19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
   but the LORD delivers him from them all;

Psalm 18:32-33 

32 It is God who arms me with strength
   and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
   he causes me to stand on the heights.

Psalm 18: 1-3
1 I love you, LORD, my strength.
 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
   my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
   my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
   and I have been saved from my enemies.

Ephesians 3:20 

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

After countless tears and possibly the scariest time of doubt I have ever encountered, I can honestly say that God is delivering me!!! I feel the weight is lifting off of my chest. I have experienced His peace (finally!!) and I know He has been fighting this battle for me. Through a broken heart, my life has been forever changed.

We have been blessed to have so many wise friends and family members...I hope to share later scriptures and words of truth they have poured into our lives the past few days.

I praise Him for calling us to this trial...and for delivering us through the battle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bits of truth...

These past few days have been a roller coaster...there have been ups, downs, times of peace, moments of anger, periods of doubt where my faith in God was challenged, and pieces of time where I have literally felt surrounding by His arms of comfort. I shared in the last post that the wound of our infertility was re-opened. However, I don't think I can accurately describe how scary it is to be faced with the feelings and thoughts that plagued me the first two years of our journey to grow our family. Last night I hit a low...a dark time...I was vulnerable and completely attacked by various thoughts (some of which I refuse utter aloud). In a nutshell, sometime in the last few days a lie began forming in my mind that God was not near...that He didn't care...that if He really loved me He would have prevented this crazy mess from occurring. It sounds kind of self-righteous--huh?? What makes me so special that I should be immune from life's challenges? Life is difficult and painful sometimes...but this doesn't mean that God is far from us.

Warren worked late last night, so I had a few hours upon returning home to dig into scripture...I know His truth is the only weapon I have to fight this battle in my mind. I'm not sure if this was a verse that someone had sent to me the past couple of days, or if it is one God reminded me of...nonetheless, I was led to read Psalm 34:18, 19:

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."

Then I read in the study section of my Bible, "Sometimes God chooses to deliver us from problems and pain. But, if He does not choose to deliver us from the difficulty, He promises to be our source of power, courage, and wisdom...helping us through our problems."

I'm sure many can relate, but I think my problem is that I don't feel like I should have to go through troubled waters. I feel like God should protect me from it all--however, scriptures never promise our lives with be ones of ease...but He promises to be there in the midst of our storms. A godly woman sent me a poem and words of truth in an email over the weekend...I feel like it directly relates to what God is trying to teach me right now.

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea.
What matter beating wind and tossing billow,
If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us in quiet through the age long minute
While thou art silent and the wind is shrill.
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?

by: Amy Carmichael

How I pray for the Lord to awake and quiet this storm, and sooth the furious seas. Yet when His disciples became afraid, he said, Oh ye of little faith. If only his disciples had trusted the God of the universe, who was asleep on their tossing boat. Though he was sleeping, he was totally and completely in control.  Their faith was little, but I believe God is making your faith great.  Through this trial, your faith will become so great, that you will be able to pass on a strong and steadfast faith to your children.  I am praying for you

Our faith is most defiantly being testing and refined. I am learning to trust God in the storm. Though this process is difficult, I would have it no other way if it means growing closer to my Savior. In a way, a small part of me (I say small, b/c the biggest part of me is still grieving) feels blessed to be going through this...blessed to know that God has not given up on me. He loves me so much and desires for me to loosen the grip I have on "my life"... that He allows me to go through storms in order that I may be reminded to fully rely on have faith even though I can't see.

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a  hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." Ps. 40:1-3

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our journey through pain...

The events of the past nine days were of those you might see in a Lifetime movie. We were chosen by a birth mother (who was 34 weeks pregnant) after only two short weeks of being approved with our agency. We had a scheduled "date" to meet our birth mother. We were guarded, but excited. Plans for the nursery were underway (we only had five weeks in which it must be completed). We celebrated with our family and friends. Could it be that our long awaited desire to grow our family was finally being fulfilled? Early Thursday morning (only six days after receiving "the call") we received another call from our caseworker telling us the birth mother had delivered the baby pre-maturely. The baby was healthy and the birth mother and birth father were at the hospital waiting to meet us. We quickly packed our bags, made calls into work, and arranged care for our sweet dog. The four and a half hour drive seemed to go quickly with all of the phone calls and text messages we were returning. Some of our dear friends sprung into action and located us the necessities for the first week (a bassinet, preemie clothes, etc) as we had nothing prepared. We had other friends offer to give up their Thursday night to set up our nursery. I finally let the excitement in...I became overjoyed with thoughts of bringing our baby girl home. We arrived at the hospital approximately 20 minutes before our caseworker...and that's when things changed....

When our caseworker pulled up to the hospital, she told us the hospital had been giving our birth mother a hard time about meeting us and even about speaking with the caseworker. I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but our birth mother (age 20) has two other children (ages 3 and 1) who have been in DFCS custody for the past year. Our birth mother had been pursuing private adoption through an attorney for a few months prior to beginning services with Bethany. We had been told she was choosing adoption because, if she did not find an adoptive family, this baby would enter the foster care system. What we didn't know on our four and a half hour drive was that DFCS had been calling her, pressuring her to leave the baby in foster care, and had somehow given her the idea that she may be able to regain custody of all three of her children if she did not choose adoption. DFCS was also under the impression that our agency was trying to coerce the birth mother to choose adoption when, in fact, the birth mother sought out Bethany. My stomach sank after hearing all of this. We waited in our car for approximately thirty minutes while our caseworker talked with the hospital administrator. Finally, we were able to go in and meet the birth parents....

Our birth mother and birth father (who are not in relationship...he clearly identified them as "just friends") had been living with the birth father's sister and brother-in-law (who are a sweet Christian couple). All of the above mentioned were in the room...and introductions began. Warren and I told stories about how we met and a little about our lives now. The birth parents shared their background and verbalized why they were pursuing adoption. In the midst of these conversations, it became very clear that the birth mother had spent her whole life searching for love and acceptance. She did not have contact with any of her family. The "family" unit the birth father's sister offered her (by inviting her to live with them) was likely the first experience she had of unconditional love. It was also apparent that she was dependent on others to make decisions for her.  She seemed to lack the emotional maturity of a "typical" 20 year old (I don't say that to degrade her, but rather to give you a clear picture of what we saw). When we left the room (almost two hours later) we did not have a peace one way or the other. It was obvious the birth father, his sister, and his brother-in-law were supportive of adoption (both he and his sister had been adopted at a young age), but we could not get a read on the birth mother. After speaking with our caseworker later that night it became clear we would not be bringing a baby home in the next few days. Even if the birth mother decided to choose adoption, we felt confident (based upon our observations of the birth mother) that we would place the baby in interim care until our ten day waiting period was over. The caseworker told us that the birth mother wanted the birth father's sister to sign as the baby's temporary guardian so the baby could go home with the family. She stated she wanted one week to "think about it."At that point, in our minds, it was over...and on our drive home we began the process of grieving.

The wound of our infertility (which had almost been healed) was re-opened. While out in public Friday, all I could see were children and pregnant women...all reminders of what we did not yet have. And the question I had wrestled with for the first two years of our infertility re-surfaced..."Why is it so hard for us to grow our family?" ...more questions followed...Why did this birth mother have to choose us? Why could she not have delivered full-term which would have given us an opportunity to meet and build a relationship with her? Why were we so naive to the role DFCS would play? Why? Why? Why?

I was given solace in some of my questions to God...Maybe she chose us because God knew we would rely on His strength to make it through. I mean, if it were not us, it would have been another couple...and I would not wish this pain on anyone! Maybe it was a blessing she delivered early--we only had six days to begin a heart connection with this child. Think of how painful it would have been if these events happened after our hearts had been involved five weeks?! I was also reminded that nothing can alter God's plans for us...DFCS is not too big for Him...if it was meant for this child to be in our home right now He would have overcome every barrier to make it happen.

So many sweet family members and friends have poured love, prayers, and encouragement into us over the past few days. We don't understand why this happened, but we trust. We did not want to suffer an adoption loss, but we knew it was a risk when we began this journey. One of my best friends told me yesterday, "There is a risk involved in anything worth having" true this is! We did not want to suffer any more pain in attempting to grow our family...but, as my husband so wisely verbalized this weekend, "Without pain and difficulty our faith and trust would be shallow." I know God does not want us to suffer---suffering is the result of a fallen world. I know God's heart breaks to see ours torn apart. However, I also know he uses pain and suffering to draw us closer to Him. Psalm 18 has ministered to me the past couple of days. The words/sentences that have filled me with peace are in bold:

 1 I love you, LORD, my strength.
 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 
   my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, 
   my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, 
   and I have been saved from my enemies. 

4 The cords of death entangled me; 
   the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 

5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; 
   the snares of death confronted me.
 6 In my distress I called to the LORD; 
   I cried to my God for help. 
From his temple he heard my voice; 
   my cry came before him, into his ears. 

7 The earth trembled and quaked, 
   and the foundations of the mountains shook; 
   they trembled because he was angry. 

8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; 
   consuming fire came from his mouth,
   burning coals blazed out of it. 

9 He parted the heavens and came down; 
   dark clouds were under his feet. 

10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; 
   he soared on the wings of the wind. 

11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— 
   the dark rain clouds of the sky. 

12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, 
   with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 

13 The LORD thundered from heaven; 
   the voice of the Most High resounded.

14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, 
   with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 

15 The valleys of the sea were exposed 
   and the foundations of the earth laid bare 
at your rebuke, LORD, 
   at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; 
   he drew me out of deep waters. 

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, 
   from my foes, who were too strong for me. 

18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, 
   but the LORD was my support. 

19 He brought me out into a spacious place; 
   he rescued me because he delighted in me.
 20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; 
   according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. 

21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; 
   I am not guilty of turning from my God. 

22 All his laws are before me; 
   I have not turned away from his decrees. 

23 I have been blameless before him 
   and have kept myself from sin. 

24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, 
   according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, 
   to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 

26 to the pure you show yourself pure, 
   but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. 

27 You save the humble 
 but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

28 You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; 
   my God turns my darkness into light. 

29 With your help I can advance against a troop; 
   with my God I can scale a wall.
 30 As for God, his way is perfect: 
   The LORD’s word is flawless; 
   he shields all who take refuge in him. 

31 For who is God besides the LORD? 
   And who is the Rock except our God? 

32 It is God who arms me with strength 
   and keeps my way secure. 

33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; 
   he causes me to stand on the heights. 

34 He trains my hands for battle; 
   my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 

35 You make your saving help my shield, 
   and your right hand sustains me; 
   your help has made me great. 

36 You provide a broad path for my feet, 
   so that my ankles do not give way.
 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; 
   I did not turn back till they were destroyed. 

38 I crushed them so that they could not rise; 
   they fell beneath my feet. 

39 You armed me with strength for battle; 
   you humbled my adversaries before me. 

40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, 
   and I destroyed my foes. 

41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— 
   to the LORD, but he did not answer. 

42 I beat them as fine as windblown dust; 
   I trampled them like mud in the streets. 

43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; 
   you have made me the head of nations. 
People I did not know now serve me, 
 44 foreigners cower before me; 
   as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. 

45 They all lose heart; 
   they come trembling from their strongholds.
 46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! 
   Exalted be God my Savior! 

47 He is the God who avenges me, 
   who subdues nations under me, 
 48 who saves me from my enemies. 
You exalted me above my foes; 
   from a violent man you rescued me. 

49 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; 
   I will sing the praises of your name.
 50 He gives his king great victories; 
   he shows unfailing love to his anointed, 
   to David and to his descendants forever.

It is our prayer that God would continue to be our strength and peace in the days ahead as we journey through this we continue to grieve and heal over the events of the past week. We still trust adoption is His call on our lives...And, though we do not see it, we know He has a plan for our family....and in that truth, we rest. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nursery ideas...

So, of course my mind has been in a million places the past few days....I thought the most difficult part of this journey would be waiting for "the call." And, now I'm thinking that these next six weeks (or fewer if baby girl decides she wants to meet us sooner) are going to be the most challenging part of this journey. It has been hard to find a balance between joy and reservation. I'm thinking my faith is about to be tested in ways I have never known! Honestly, my mind is mush right now...The only thing I know to do is to let trust God has His hand on every step...believe He will carry us through every day until our adoption is finalized...and cling to His truth:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28  

It is looking like we will have to wait until next week to meet our birth mother parents (we found out today the birth father wants to meet us as well) due to a conflict in the caseworker's schedule. :(  So, this weekend we are going to focus on the nursery. Below are a few pics which inspired me...

Where do I even begin with this room?? I *love* the different shades of khaki and brown w/ white, I'm kind of obsessed with the chair, and I love the two-tone wall colors! This is how I want our flooring to look. We (with a little help and guidance from our handy friends) will be doing this ourselves to save $$. I can't wait to post the result pics! Also, we are going to do our walls two-tone like this accept the bottom half of the wall will be a light gray.

This nursery takes my breath away! I've been having green moments lately. I love the light blues and yellows mixed with the green. I *heart* the spindle crib (sigh). However, we have been given a crib by our sweet friend Katie...which is SUCH a blessing (cute cribs are kind of pricey!). She is going to let me paint and distress the crib (Thanks, Katie!!) to give it the shabby-chic vibe that kind of fits with the rest of our house.

However, this is the bedding we ordered. I'm not sure why...but gray has been my color these days...and I love damask print!!

So many things to think much to prepare for...but our little one will be worth it all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's a girl!!!

Friday night we received a call from our caseworker that we had been chosen by a birth mother!! We were floored. She is 34 weeks pregnant (due 3/22...a.k.a. 6 weeks!!). Reportedly, the birth father is willing to cooperate in releasing his parental rights. She wants to meet us and we hope for that to happen sometime next week.

It's hard to describe the emotions we are feeling right now...shocked, overjoyed, nervous. We are proceeding with excited caution...faithful guardedness. We know that adoptions fall through at times...that's just the reality. However, we refuse to allow Satan to steal our joy and we want to walk in faith...trusting God will continue to have His hand on our journey!

We would greatly appreciate your prayers for the birth mother, for us, and for the little girl that is to be born into this world!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20,21 

Friday, February 11, 2011

A gift...

This past weekend, I was blessed to be able to attend the Created for Care retreat where I was joined by other women who either have or are currently in the process of adopting. God gave Andrea the vision for this retreat. I had only met Andrea once in person before the retreat...and fell in love with her. God connected our hearts and I am truly blessed and challenged by her faith and heart for orphan and widow care. She initially thought 25 women would sign up...250 women later (with I'm sure an extremley long waiting list) we all met at Lake Lanier Islands Resort...

I was so thankful to be able to attend the retreat with my sister (who recently adopted the most beautiful little girl from Ethiopia). This may sound suprising...but, this is the first time I can remember going somewhere with JUST my sister (without parents, husbands, or children underfoot)...and what a blessing it was!!

I really still have been unable to process everything I gained from the weekend. There were so many amazing speakers...women who have adopted several children (internationally and domestically). I was inspired by their courage and faith. While God challenged me with all of the speakers, but I was able to connect emotionally and spiritually with one in particular, Amy Monroe. She began her session by talking about the "gift" of infertility. Though I have never labled our infertility as a "gift"--looking back over the past six months I can see it is exactly how God has allowed me to view this difficulty in our lives. I truly believe that infertility is a mental and physical state. Someone who has failed to conceive after eight months may never "feel" infertile and others begin to feel the grief of infertility after one month of failed conception.

I am so grateful over these past six months that I have felt "infertile" only a handful of times (compared to the daily emotional battle I struggled with for two years). God has given me an eternal perspective. And I, like Amy, now see that He has a bigger plan. His plan is for our home to be a place of refuge for a child (or many children) that may otherwise not have a loving stable environment in which to grow.

I was filled with so much hope this weekend...listening to story after story of God's hand in bringing families together. I could go on and on about what I learned regarding how to talk to your child about adoption, or the importance of attachment, and how my heart was stirred to pray about things for our family that had never before entered my mine. I was filled with peace as I spoke with women who had adopted from Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, South America, and the US. Isn't it awesome how God calls each one of us to different things?! Warren and I may never feel called to adopt internationally and others may never feel called to adopt domestically...and that is ok!! What matters most is following God's leading and being open to what He wants for our family.

I feel like God is preparing Warren and I for something. I'm not sure what it is...but I know that He is wanting our hearts to be open...So, we continue to wait...and will listen for Him to lead.