"I will not leave you as orphans - I will come to you." John 14:18

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What are you waiting for?

I want you to know I am no saint. I want you to know that I am no angel. I want you to know I am just like you. People around me have started to ask questions about my adoption journey and when I speak of it they respond with "You're amazing", or "Wow, I could never do that", or "That's incredible". . . There are a whole host of other things that people say as well. I promise you. . . I have been given no more determination that you. I have been given no more grace than you. I have been given no more patience than you. I have been given no bigger heart than you. God has simply given me direction. I have been seeking direction and asking for it for a long time. Why I didn't listen to what God's been saying to me for a long time is beyond me. The only thing I can come up with is that I have been waiting for the "perfect" time. When I have enough money. . . When I'm out of debt. . . When I'm not living paycheck to paycheck. . . When I lose 150 pounds. . . When I'm married. . . And I've literally wasted my life away.

I'm tired of waiting. I won't do it anymore. I have to grab the bull by the horns and take the monster on. I'll never have enough money. I'll never be out of debt. It's unlikely that I'll quit living paycheck to paycheck. A 150 pound weight-loss is in my future, but probably down the road a year or two. Married? I won't even begin to tackle that beast.

The point to my ramblings is a goal. I've set goals. Yes, they are fairly lofty goals. . . but the point is, I've set them. I'm working towards my goals. I'm not going to hit New Years this year and look back and question what I've done to better myself and those around me. This year is the first year in a LONG time that I actually have something I am REALLY going to work for and something I feel I have really achieved this year.

What is your goal this year? A closer walk with the Savior? Get in the WORD! Start one verse at a time. Weight loss? Hit it one pound at a time. Walk away from the cookies one at a time. A new job? Put yourself out there. Knock on doors until your knuckles are calloused and cracked. To increase your family? Check with your local DCS to find out when you can enroll for the new foster parenting classes. There are SO many children that need homes. They need a Godly mother and Godly father to lead them. Can't risk giving your heart to someone who may be removed from you? Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Contact your local elementary school and volunteer. Get with the local children's ministry in your area to volunteer. give. Give. GIVE!!

One step at a time. One pound at a time. One minute at a time. One knock at a time. Don't be discouraged. Two steps forward, one step back. . . we all do it! I look forward to my journey this year whether it be by myself, or with a gaggle of friends and family to join me.

My wish for you this year is this. . .
"That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a live worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col. 1:9-10)

. . . and again, I ask. . . WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Blind Side

So, I'm not much of a movie person. If I go to the movies 3 times in a year, I'm amazed. I knew from the moment I saw the previews for "The Blind Side" that I would be seeing that movie in the theater. It's been out now for a few weeks and I have yet to hear someone say anything bad about it. So last night my best friend says that she wants to go and see it. This week at school was seriously the longest week that I have had yet this year and I needed a feel-good movie. I knew that "The Blind Side" was a true story and so I knew that it would probably fit the bill of a "feel-good" movie. I was pumped. I guess I should have considered my week. Not only was it a super long week, it was an emotionally draining one. I'm not real sure why, but I have felt . . . hmmm. . . I don't know. . . sad? Pensive? Reflective? Quiet? all week. . . I have a lot on my plate right now and am trying to keep moving forward but feel as if it is all just a moment from crashing down on me. It started on Sunday with a sweet, precious message from a friend that meant so very much to me. Then it was on to church where the only thing I could hear Brother David saying was "Anything is possible with God." I started boo-hooing before the sermon even started and couldn't stop. . . Everytime he said "Anything is possible with God" I would burst into tears again. I leaned over to my best friend and said, "If he doesn't stop saying that, I'm leaving." Funny thing is. . . a friend told me later, he only said it once or twice. Must have been the Holy Spirit laying it on thick.

So all week, I was tiptoeing on eggshells around my own emotions, afraid that I would turn a corner and lose it again.

If you haven't seen "The Blind Side", you really need to. It's basically about a young black teenager that doesn't have a home and "happens" to run into a family that takes him in and believes in him. They give him a lot of great things, but most of all, they gave him hope. They taught him life skills and gave him the keys to be successful.

I think the movie had been on all of 10 minutes before I had tears streaming down my face. I have heard that this happens to people during this movie, but I wondered how many people had tears because they knew that their child was out there somewhere and could be going through some of the same things? I wonder how many of those people were broken because their child could possibly be sleeping in a laundromat because they didn't have anywhere else to go. I wonder if they felt a horrible sadness because they knew that it was possible that their child was being exposed to the horrible conditions and situations that this young man had to endure. I wonder if they felt lost because there is nothing that they can do to make the process move any faster. These were my feelings.

Everytime that I feel as though my feelings about adoption and fostering are not as strong, God places someone, or something in my path that reminds me how critical it is that I continue to press on to find my child. So, I press on. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I have questions. I worry. I pray.

and I trust. What else have I? I have to trust that My God is bigger than any fears, fatigure, worries, stresses, questions, and setbacks that I can experience. I continue to press on. I continue to trust.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fighting it off

I have made some contacts this week that have not been as encouraging as I had hoped. I spoke with a woman at Department of Children Services (after 3 rounds of phone tag) that took my initial information; name, # of children interested in, county of residence, ect. She then promised that she would pass the information on to the person in my county that was responsible for placement. She said that I should expect a call within a week's time. I thought, "Yeah, right." (Insert sarcastic huff here.) Thankfully, and much to my surprise, I recieved a call the next day from the Sumner County DCS worker. He gave me valuable information about the PATH training that I'm going to be taking, and took some more information about me. I told him that I was most interested in a child 4-8 years old. His response to me was there are not many children in this age group that are open for fostering to adopt because they are typically returned to their biological homes. He did say that there are plenty of teenagers that need homes. Oh gracious! Teenagers?? What does this mean to me? At first, I felt like maybe I was headed down the wrong path. Maybe I should be going through a private agency? Should I pursue domestic adoption instead of fostering to adopt? I have to fight off the voices in my head, because my God is in control. My desire to mother a child of this certain age has not changed. While the DCS worker says it's rare for this age child to be available in the foster to adopt system, my God specializes in miracles. If this is truly God's desire for me, it will happen. I may have to wait longer. I may have to suffer some brokeness and heartache. But my God is bigger than any timeline, and has abundant love and comfort for the brokenhearted.

So, here I sit. . . fighting off the first round (of many to come, I'm sure) of doubts. Knowing that God is faithful. Knowing that this decision for me to pursue adoption is GOD'S request of me. Yes, I have always wanted to be a mother. Yes, I have waited a long time to do it. But NO. . . I didn't consider single motherhood by choice until God laid it on my heart.

Thank you for your concern and prayers for me. Thank you for asking me how things are going. I'm blessed by talking about it, talking through it, and by hearing your opinions, feelings, and thoughts. Have a blessed week.

(Oh yeah, and by the way. . . I start my PATH training classes January 7, 2010.)
"I press on toward the goal. . ."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving. . .

As I have enjoyed being with my family the last few days, it's given me a lot of time to process the changes that are going on in my heart and in my life. What a blessing it is to be able to share with people about the gift that God has given me. . . the gift of His knowledge and direction. I was very blessed to be able to share my story and my plans with my distant cousin, and even more thrilled when I saw and heard how supportive she was. I have found most, if not all, of the people in my life to be extremely supportive.

I have had quite a few dead end contacts the last 2 weeks which is why I haven't posted anything. I was able to make a contact with a foster agency that only works with children ages 11-17. Thankfully, the woman sent me some information in the mail and left me with a promise that she would pass my information on to the proper people. I recieved the paperwork she promised and was able to muddle through very little of it without explanation. So, I did the best I could to hit the internet and friends again and find another "in". My friend encouraged me not to give up. She's been through the system and has mentioned several times how slow they are in getting back to people. The crazy thing is that I can't imagine children sitting around waiting for homes yet the Department of Children's Services are dragging their feet in screening homes and placing children with people who are desperate to have them!!

I also got on adoptuskids.org which features children in the United States that need homes. Many of them have special needs - physical, mental, and/or developmental disabilities. I found an email address there where I could put in for some more information.

I have called and left a message for the folks at DCS to call me back regarding starting my PATH training in January. Many friends have asked about my timeline. . . I'm looking at starting the training in January, which will last about 3 months. After that, I will begin my home study and application process which will take 3-6 months. At the conclusion of that process, I will (hopefully) be accepted as a foster parent and can become a caregiver immediately. Can you believe that it's possible that NEXT Thanksgiving I could spend the day with my child? Can you believe that NEXT Christmas, my little one may be making his or her Christmas list for Santa? Can you believe that NEXT year, I may become a mom? What a thrill! How frightening!! Seriously! Am I ready for this? I'm sure I'm not, but am completely confident that God wants to use me in the life of a very special child. I can hardly wait to see who He has picked out for me!

Friends, I do hope that your Thanksgiving was as special as mine - with friends and family. May God continue to bless you as we head into the season of the Celebration of His Birth!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Information Overload

This week, I have thrown myself into the information highway and have found that I am more confused than ever. I have done internet searches. I have read an adoption book. I have printed massive handbooks and read them. I am no closer to finding my child this week than I was last week. My brain is swimming with all of the facts and not even sure where to start. I was able to send in a request online to talk to someone at a state agency, only to find when I spoke with them the next day that they are not the people that I need to talk with. This agency was a stage agency that took care of placing foster kids, but the children they work with are ages 11-17. The good thing out of that conversation was that the woman was able to send me an informational e-mail and a promise that she would drop some information in the mail to me. So, now I'll wait a few days to recieve this information from her regarding the PATH training which is the mandatory training that prospective foster parents go through prior to applying. I've looked at the PATH training schedule online, but it's just about like reading baseball stats. . . unless you know what you're looking at, forget it.

The best thing that happened this week was meeting a new friend. Two friends from church who are sisters told me that they had a friend that is a single mom of two boys that she adopted through the foster system. The kicker is that she adopted as a single mom. . . Thank you Lord! Finally, someone like me! I have had oodles of people come out of the woodwork and open their hearts to me about their adoption journies or to offer someone that they know that would be "willing to talk to me about adoption". While all these people are SO helpful and incredibly valuable, the one thing I was craving was to meet someone like myself who is single, who's always been single, and who had successfully adopted. My friends from church contacted this friend of theirs on Facebook, and she in turn contacted me. My heart soared when I talked to her. Finally! Someone who REALLY knows where I'm coming from. Someone who has felt the pressure of knowing that God is leading you to adoption and not having a clue where the support is going to come from. Someone who is content with her singleness and status as a mom. I am so thankful for this new friendship and can't wait to find out more information from her. Truth be known, it was through her leading that I was able to find the website where I put in my information and recieved the call I spoke about earlier. She is such a blessing to me.

Will you please pray for me this week? Please pray that I will continue to knock on doors and get answers that I need in order to find my child. Please pray that I will continue to wrestle with and answer the questions that are posed to me about my future from family and friends. Thanks again for your support.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

God has chosen me. . .

God has chosen me to be adopted into His family. He has loved me with an unconditional love and disciplined me with a Father's touch. I am so amazed that He choses to use me when I mess up my relationship with Him and opportunities that He gives me on a daily basis. Because of this incredible love that He has so freely given me, I cannot be silent. I must share God's love. I cannot be still. I can no longer wait for my life to start. Today is the day.

God has chosen me to be the plan for a child who needs a forever family. He made it clear to me tonight while I was at the "Cry of the Orphan" rally in Franklin, TN that He is calling me to join Him at work where He is. I am scared. I am not worthy. I will mess up. I will disappoint. I will fail Him. I will fail myself. But, even knowing this, God has chosen ME! I am the plan! I've often wondered what God's plan is for my life. How could I have been so self-centered?? It's not about me! What is God's plan for my child's life? The plan is ME!

God has chosen me to take this journey of obedience by inviting me to join Him in His work. All I can do is respond with a "Yes".

God has chosen me to share with you that there are 147 million orphans in this world. James 1:27 instructs us that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

God has chosen me to respond to His command to care for orphans by seeking adoption. What has God chosen you to do? What is your part? Have you ever considered fostering? Adoption? Financially supporting orphans or orphanages? Missions to an orphanage? Donating to help a child find their forever family?

So, where do I go from here? I have no idea. But, you can be assured that this week will be full of questions, meetings, internet searches, and phone calls. I am not willing to let another day pass that I am not pursuing bringing MY child home.

Lord Jesus, please watch over and care for my child while he or she is away from me. Please God, comfort them and let them know that Mommy is coming soon. Please help them to be safe, warm, fed, and loved in my absence. Amen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cry of the Orphan

While doing some research on the web last night, I happened upon an announcement for a very special event here in Nashville that will take place on Sunday. Did you know that Sunday, November 8th is Orphan Sunday? It's a day that is set aside for the church to commit to praying for and caring for orphans. I had heard about that briefly on "The Fish" - one of our local Christian radio stations. So, I happen upon this website, http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/, and find that there is a free concert on Sunday from 4-6p featuring speakers and singers, including Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore. This event is designed to help raise awareness for orphans. Whether you're considering adoption, have adopted, have been adopted, or know what adoption is - this event is for YOU. It'll also be aired live on-line for those of you who can't be present. Will you please visit the website and look into it? Will you consider finding out what you can do to support orphans? Prayer? Adoption? Fostering? Financial Support of someone else's adoption? There are so many opportunities.

A song that has been on the radio has caught my attention in a huge way. It really has ministered to my heart as I seek what the Lord would have me do regarding adoption. I tried to load it onto my playlist, but apparently am not smart enough to figure out how to download it there first. I would love to share the words with you though. The song is by Leeland with a guest appearance of Brandon Heath, "Follow You". If you hear this song on the radio or even on your iPod or CD player, will you please think of me and pray for me when you hear it? I am so blessed by the followers that I have. . . I know that will bless your efforts. Enjoy these lyrics and may they speak to your heart as they have mine. . .

Follow You
You live among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away

All my needs You have supplied
When I was dead You gave me life
So how could I not give it away so freely?
And I?

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God
Follow You into the world

Use my hands use my feet
To make Your kingdom come

To the corners of the earth
Until Your work is done

Faith without works is dead
On the cross Your blood was shed
So how could we not give it away so freely?

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world ooooh
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God
Follow You into the world

And I give all myself, I give all myself
I give all myself to YOU

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world (Follow YOU)
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God
Follow You into the world

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God

Visit here to see a video of this song and hear the amazing lyrics.

Totally unrelated to my adoption journey, but completely exciting none-the-less. . . I had the privilege of a surprise visitor at school yesterday. The editor of an online newspaper was interviewing people in White House (where I teach) that "make a difference in the community". What an honor! What a HUGE surprise!! Click here to hear the interview and see a wacky picture of me. I have no idea what I was doing in this picture - talking with my hands, no doubt!

Enjoy your weekend friends!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Choices. . .

As I walk this road, I realize that I am completely alone. Don't get me wrong. I have countless friends, family, supporters, and cheerleaders that are coaching me and cheering me on from the side. But when the rubber meets the road, I am the one that has to make the final decision. Whether you agree with my decisions or not, I am the one that has to live with them.

I am a person that craves feedback. I always want to make the right decision, and (right or wrong) look to others to help me in my decisions. I take opinions and suggestions very seriously and consider if they will work for me or not. Sometimes, people influence my decisions and sometimes they do not. So, I need your help. Here's what I'm thinking so far. . .

Domestic or International? I am leaning towards domestic. I served for 4 years on the mission field here in Nashville prior to my teaching career. I chose home missions because I feel very strongly that we need to first minister to the needs of those in our Jerusalem. That is NOT to say that I do not value foreign missions - on the contrary. But God called me to home missions because of my passion for teaching the gospel where I am. I understand and agree that there are SO many children that need homes from Russia, Ethiopia, South America, and a whole host of other areas. But I also know that there are a whole host of children that need homes that are from the US.

What age? Realistically thinking, I'm not sure that I see myself raising an infant. Those formative years are SO important and a time that I would LOVE to be a part of, but as a single mother, I know that they only option would be to have a daycare raise my child as I wouldn't be able to stay home. There are some amazing daycare's out there; Daycare's that are focused on training and teaching children in positive ways. . . I'm definitely not down on daycare. . . but I am not sure that would be the best option for my child. Maybe it's selfishness or a lack of trust for finances. . . why would I want to pay $800 - $1000 a month, when, if I had an older child, I could take them to school with me? So, that's why I'm leaning towards an "older" child. . .maybe 4 or 5.

Male or Female? I feel as though I'm most equipped to raise a girl. I certainly won't close my home to a boy, but I feel very strongly that a boy needs a father-figure. I have a strong church family, and an incredible family - but I'm not sure it's fair to any of them to assume that they will take on the father-figure role.

So - based on the age of child that I'm focusing on, and the domestic issue, I am wondering about fostering to adopt. I realize that most of the time the children in the foster care system are really hurting. They are struggling with a whole host of issues that I have never experienced and know little about. I feel very strongly that God will give me the skills that I need to raise a child in this situation. I've been looking at the Tennessee State Foster Care website and am brought to tears by so many of the videos and biographies of children looking for homes. How is it that a child, a child, has to market themselves for a home? How sad is that - that a child needs to put himself out there for others to look at and choose or reject.

So what are your thoughts? Have anything you'd like to share?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Explanations and Life Changes

Many people have asked (or at least wondered to themselves) how in the world I got to the point of questioning adoption. Like most other little girls, I've always dreamed of the day that my daddy would escort me down the aisle and give me away to the man of my dreams. I waited through high school. I struggled through college. I bravely met the world. I've not met the man that God has chosen for me. Does that mean he's not out there? I'm not sure. Does that mean that God wants me to be single? I don't have any idea. Because God has not chosen me to be a wife, does that mean He hasn't chosen me to be a mother either? I don't think so. When I was about 27, without a single "prospect" out there, I began to think through my life. What did I want for my life? What did I want to accomplish? What dreams could I not live without having fulfilled?

Husband - don't get me wrong, I want to meet and marry that man of my dreams in the worst way. But, I'm not willing to sacrifice my morals, standards, or beliefs in order to do so. All kinds of people have tried to offer me "excellent" advice that doesn't work for me. Church? Check. Through friends? Check. E-harmony? Check. Facebook and old contacts? Check. Where else is a girl to look? A Bar? Uh, I don't think so.

Children - my heart aches to share the love of a child. To hear someone utter, "Mommy" and know that it's me they are talking to. To hold, cherish, teach, forgive, laugh. . . Oh, to have someone to share it with!!

So, what am I doing to get ready for the day that God may choose me to be the mom to a little one who needs a family? First of all, I have gone out and done some things that I don't think I'd be able to do if I were a mom. Last summer, I saved up and took the trip of a lifetime to the Holy Land. Several years ago, I was in some nasty financial trouble - not proud of it, but definately a part of my past - and I worked very hard to get myself out of that mess. I paid off what I owed and am working very hard at putting together a budget and plan to be able to raise a child on my salary. Two and a half years ago, I purchased my first home. . . a lovely townhouse with 4 bedrooms. . .plenty of room for a family.

It's no secret to anyone that knows me that I am not a healthy person. I have had 4 knee surgeries, 1 back surgery, and a whole other host of surgeries and medical issues. I am extremely overweight. I have come to terms with it and that is not how I want to live. I am not happy with myself when I look in the mirror, so I'm changing it. It is not easy, but I am on a very strict diet plan as well as an accountability program with a friend and with my PCP. I've already lost 20 pounds and will continue this new eating lifestyle for the rest of my life. My doctor cried yesterday when I went to see her for my check up because she is so proud of the changes that I've made in my life and the decision I am considering.

So, you probably know more about me now than you've ever wanted to know, huh? My purpose is to help people understand a little more about who I am NOW. . . as opposed to when you knew me 10 years ago, or even 10 months ago.

All this to say, I have thought through the adoption idea thoroughly. I continue to think about it and pray about it everyday. I covet your prayers and any support you could offer. Have I come to a conclusion yet? No. Absolutely not. I want to MAKE SURE that I am hearing the Lord's voice and not listening to my beating heart. I want to beat with GOD'S heart.

I've always been told that God will grant me the desires of my heart. I want my desires to be HIS desires. I have begged Him that if His desire for me is not motherhood and to be a wife that HE would remove that desire from me. He hasn't removed it yet, so I trust that He's not finished with me yet. . . Hmmm. . . that would be a good song. . . (If you haven't heard it, listen for it. . . it's by Brandon Heath.)

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. I do hope that you can see into my heart and know how to better pray.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Intro to Blogging. . .

What on earth am I doing here? I read all of these really cool blogs by moms of toddlers, and am fascinated by what they write. I've considered doing a blog before, but wasn't sure what I'd blog about. My dogs? My work?

I don't claim to be a writer, or have deep thoughts. I don't claim in know anything about anything. . . I do, on the contrary, claim to have a LOT of questions about motherhood, singleness, adoption, and God's Will.

So, here I am. I will ask questions. I will wait on the Lord. I will beg for your input and comments. I will open my heart to the Father of Truth. I will trust that He will lead me.

I hope you will choose to join me and choose to help me muddle through the details as I seek to follow God in obedience.

. . . The Journey Begins. . .