Monday, April 27, 2015

auntie thoughts

First, I just want to say thank you for such an overwhelming response to my last post.  The countless messages and verbal encouragement you've given us... We are blessed to have many surrounding us who are genuinely supportive and excited for us.  I will try my best to keep you somewhat up to date through the blog as we progress in the adoption process.


L to R:  Jacob, Joshua, (me), Grace, Hannah

For a couple days over my spring break I was able to steal away and finally meet my new niece, Hannah.  After a brief moment of shyness in the beginning, she was soon playing with me on the floor with the others, and as you can see above, reading with us on the couch.

Grace and Hannah 
(One thing I learned about Hannah immediately - she loves the camera!)

While my time with her was too brief, I enjoyed watching and learning about her.  She is a passionate, curious, pint-sized cutie who loves playing with her brothers and sister.

The most difficult thing about living far away from my family is that I'm not able to be a very involved aunt to my brother's children.  I grew up really close to all my aunts and saw them frequently.  I felt I had a special bond with each of them, and I just want the same for us.  I love my life here, but there is always an ache in my heart for them.  I have a fear that one day they won't want much to do with me or that I'll feel very disconnected from them.  I realize it's a somewhat silly fear.  My mother gently reminded me that since I do live far away, my time with them is probably even more special in their eyes, as opposed to if I saw them all the time.  Good point.  Still hard.

I will say, they certainly made me feel special in my short visit.  My loving little Joshua was in my lap or cuddling next to me the whole time I played with them.  A usually shy Grace latched on to me at Jacob's basketball game and never left my lap.  And Jacob told my brother he hoped he would make a shot for me to see at the game (and he DID!!).  It might seem corny to say it this way, but I felt like God was giving me a big hug that day through my nieces and nephews and reminding me that He does not forget the desires of my heart or the things that bring me joy.

He is my caring and compassionate God who notices my tears and orchestrates moments to show me I am loved by Him.

So for that I say thank You, God.  I do not deserve Your goodness.  I am grateful to be Your child.





Sunday, March 29, 2015

a wordy announcement

I’ve thought a thousand times about starting this post, how I would do it, what I would say, how much I would share...  And well, it’s time.

When I was around fifteen years old, my aunt and uncle adopted a baby girl from Russia.  There are a few moments from my youth that I still remember quite vividly, and the first time I saw my new cousin Irina was one of them.  I walked into their living room along with several other family members and there she was, about ten months old, sitting in a walker, staring at all these strange faces around her, her beautiful blue eyes wide and curious.  Her platinum blonde hair was sticking up a little in the middle.  She remained rather still and emotionless as she took in the sight around her… all kinds of new faces who were gawking at her and cooing and smiling.  She was the most precious sight.  And something else I remember in that moment was how much I already loved her… this baby who had come from across the world, who was not of our flesh and blood, who I hadn’t even held yet… But my heart somehow knew she belonged to our family and that she was forever my cousin.  This was my first close experience with adoption and it made me realize how natural and wonderful and beautiful it is.


Irina


Fast forward to my early years of marriage.  I really can’t remember all the different things that continued culminating this, but there came a point where I told Luke I had a desire to adopt children.  It wasn’t something that he had truly considered or thought about until that point.  I prayed that God would grow a desire in him for it.  Through the years, we were exposed to many adoption stories and advocates and things that really blew our minds regarding the need for and power of adoption.  Little by little, both Luke and I were more and more drawn to the idea of adoption.  One of our experiences that sealed the deal was when we attended the Passion conference in 2012, where the focus that year was on fighting slavery and human trafficking.  Something stirred in us and we knew our hearts would never be the same.  After that trip we pretty much set the plan in stone that we would adopt.  There are millions of orphans in the world, most of whom are in unthinkable situations be it trafficking or starvation or homelessness or abuse or God knows what else.  And what we came to believe without a doubt is that adoption is the purest picture of the Gospel on earth.  As we are children who are adopted by God, given His undeserved, unconditional and generous love, and rescued from our pit of brokenness, we are given the opportunity to do the same for a child through adoption.  Adoption is not some idea the Bible alludes to through a metaphor; It literally says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless in this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..” (James 1:27)  Where did we ever come off thinking that the needs of orphans and widows do not pertain to us?  If we as Christians don’t take care of them, who will?

Along with adopting, we wanted to try to have at least one biological child as well.  The thought of a mini-Luke running around fills my heart with pure delight.  To know a little being who has pieces of each of us… man, what a thought. 

Rewind back to my adolescence.  My cycles have always been irregular, sometimes nonexistent. Because of this, I knew that becoming pregnant would be a struggle or even altogether unlikely.  I was mentally prepared for this.  I never expected it to be easy.  In fact, I was okay with the likelihood that it wouldn’t happen from the very beginning, and part of my peace was in knowing that we would have children through adoption. 

I really wanted to begin the adoption process while we were trying to get pregnant because I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to happen, and I didn’t want to waste any time.  Adoption is a long process and in my mind there was no reason to delay.  Not to mention, I figured it’d be much easier to look at negative pregnancy tests while knowing that we indeed had a child officially on the way through adoption.  But, Luke didn’t want us to split our focus at the time, and so we decided to try to conceive for awhile before starting anything with adoption.

And thus began a season of wilderness.

Given that I already had irregularities about my system, we didn’t wait long to let my doctor run some tests and look further into my issues while we were trying to get pregnant.  It was much more complicated than simply an irregular cycle.  I have had severe irritable bowel since I was a teenager, which likely stemmed from a 3-days ruptured appendix in my body when I was twelve (the appendix is attached to the colon, and after my surgery the doctor mentioned I could likely have colon “issues” down the road).  I also often have low blood sugar levels, and yada yada yada… But basically, the thing to know is, all these things connect and can affect factors in getting pregnant.  I have tried numerous medications through the years to help with IBS, none of which made a significant or lasting difference.  During my pregnancy attempt journey I was prescribed medicine to help regulate my blood sugar (which ironically ended up making my stomach more upset), so that didn’t last long. 

A couple years ago when we were first having some tests run, the nurse was speaking with Luke and I about the possibilities (not always a good idea, nurse… sometimes you should just wait for the results).  She said, “You could have polycystic ovaries (already knew that), you could be in early menopause, you could…”  And I didn’t hear anything she said after that.  I was still in my twenties at this point, and she used the word menopause.  We had to wait on results from my tests, so we left there in a daze and stopped to get lunch, as we were starving.  Neither of us said a word in the car.  My throat was tight and I could feel myself fighting back tears.  We ordered our lunch and sat at a table, and before either of us took a bite, I just lost it, right there in the middle of Taco Bell.  I was so caught off guard by what she said.  I was frustrated and mad.  Honestly I don’t even know if I was frustrated that there was a possibility I was in early menopause… I was more frustrated that I was going through all this, that I was putting myself through this pain of “let’s take this test” and “you might have this” and “let’s try this medicine” and “take your temperature on every third day of a full moon while standing on your head” while there are FREAKIN MILLIONS OF CHILDREN OUT THERE WHO NEED A LOVING HOME. 

Turns out I was NOT in early menopause, but showed signs consistent with PCOS.  I’m not a typical mold for it and there wasn’t an official diagnosis, but I suppose whatever I have is similar.  My doctor recommended I try Clomid to help me ovulate.  I was familiar with it because someone close to me in my life had taken it and had multiple children while taking it. 

I struggled with it.  I wasn’t sure I could feel peaceful about taking a fertility drug.  Again, why go through all this to make something happen when I knew we were going to adopt no matter what.  We eventually decided to give it a try for a few months, with no success.  (And of course, just like everyone else who struggles to conceive, approximately 87 of my friends and family became pregnant during this time.)

At the end of last year, I was done.  I was just DONE. 

Again, my pain was not about not being able to conceive – it was about why on earth we spent all this time when we could have just begun our adoption much sooner.

Now, friend, before you call me, before you start to text me, you need to know:
I KNOW.

I KNOW why.  I know why all this came to be.  I know that God’s timing is good.  I know that all this is leading up to us adopting the children we are meant to have.  But good grief, it’s just hard.  It’s a big, confusing mess while you’re in the midst of it.  And that’s okay.  My heart is simply longing for my children.  And ready for this season to be OVER.

Which brings me to our big news, which will come at no surprise...

WE ARE ADOPTING! 

Like, it’s HAPPENING.

After years of discussing and being drawn to international adoption, after much prayer we actually decided on domestic adoption (for the first go-around).  We still hope to adopt internationally in the future.  Either way, there are babies and kiddos who need to be loved!  We have begun the process, and depending on when we get picked by a birth mom, it could happen fairly soon!

We are adopting through an agency out of Lexington.  The director met with us last weekend to do our home study, and we couldn’t have loved her more.  Our lawyer is local, and oh, funny story about how we got connected to him…

Many of you know I began teaching music at a local elementary school in the fall. (And by the way, working at an elementary school, or any public school for that matter, will immediately remind you that there are children right here in our back yards that need a loving home.)  At the beginning of the year, there was a sub across the hall from me, filling in for someone’s maternity leave.  I soon found out the teacher who was out had adopted.  Once she returned, we soon bonded through our stories and she became one of my main sources of encouragement as Luke and I made our final decisions in beginning the process.  She recommended her lawyer, and bam, we met with him and got the ball rolling.  Coincidence that this sweet teacher mama is right across the hall from me and that she is the kindest, most Spirit-filled angel-in-disguise-type new friend of mine?  I think not.  Coincidence that some of our best friends are adopting right now, too, or that my brother recently brought home a new baby girl from China?  Not even remotely.  God has always, ALWAYS surrounded us with the people we need… with people who we can learn from, who can encourage us, challenge us, comfort us, help us.

If you know me at all, you know that this wasn’t easy for me to write.  I like to be private.  But I’d been feeling a nudge for awhile to share our story.

Because, we’re not meant to do this life thing on our own.  We’re meant to do it together, in community, in a way that lifts one another up.  Cry with each other, learn from each other, pray for each other.  Many of you have already been praying for us and we are humbled and thankful for that.  We are asking you to now specifically pray for our child/children.  We will be adopting a newborn.  We have no preferences as far as gender or race goes and we would take twins (or more) in a heartbeat.  Pray for the birth mom.  Pray that she makes wise, healthy decisions throughout her pregnancy.  Pray that she has the courage and strength to do what’s best for her child and that she would allow God to bring her peace. 

If you stumble across this post and you are going through this, whether it be adoption or struggling to conceive, let me lift you up.  Let me cry with you, pray for you, celebrate with you.  You are not alone.

Another request, if I may… Please don’t come to me with ideas on how we can get pregnant, vitamins/medicines/concoctions to try, etc.  While I’ve no doubt God could give us a biological child if He wanted to and we’ll certainly never close that door, we have moved past it and are focusing on our adoption.  We are so excited about our new little one, wherever he/she may be!  Our hearts are fully invested in this, and we are not dwelling on whether or not we can conceive. 

It is a time to CELEBRATE!  It is a time of PREPARATION as we get ready for BABY WOODWARD!!!!  We invite you to celebrate with us.

And can I just take a moment and say, this guy is going to be the BEST dad.  Gosh, his heart, his patience, his love… I watch him make and apply homemade healing concoctions to our dogs’ wounds, I watch him get down on the floor as he lets them lick all over his face.  I watch him play pretend with our nieces and nephews.  I hear his stories from advising students at school and how he inspires them.  And most of all, I see how he takes care of me, how he loves me, how he gives me one zillion second chances after I fail him, and I’ve no doubt he’ll do the same with our children.  I’m lucky enough to be married to a man who’s love resembles Christ’s. 



It’s gonna be a beautiful, meaningful, wild ride.  And we can’t wait.





Thursday, February 12, 2015

a walk in the park



Look at those happy faces.

Saturday was one of those fifty-something degree days before the bitter cold hit again, so we loaded up and headed to the park.  Still working on the whole leash training thing, so while these look like pleasant pictures, I was holding tight and fierce to them, trying to reign them in.  We'll get there.

I am so stinkin' excited about this weekend.  It'll be TWO date nights in a row for Hubby and I.  Friday we're staying in, making dinner, and renting a movie (my favorite kind of date), and Saturday we are attending a formal dinner to support a local cause.  There will be dancing.  There will be lots of dancing.




This post has been brought to you by Huckleberry Edgar and Indiana Jones Woodward.  All rights reserved.  We'll steal your treats and all your kisses if you steal our pictures.



Monday, January 12, 2015

taking stock 03



Cooking: chili
Drinking: grape Gatorade
Reading: Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
Wanting: my hair to be long again :(
Looking: for new and easy dinner recipes (isn't everyone?)
Playing: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack
Wishing: for SNOW!!!
Enjoying: snuggling on the couch under blankets with my dogs in the evenings
Waiting: anxiously to meet and hug our new niece Hannah from China!!!!!!!  :) :) :) :)
Planning: lessons and our upcoming Night of Worship
Liking: Person of Interest, Trivia Crack
Wondering: about everything
Loving: my church
Hoping: for SNOW!!
Marveling: at Tina and Amy's opening monologue from last night's Golden Globes... love that pair!
Needing: to allow myself to have a little more fun at school with my kids... to be sillier with them.
Smelling: fried bacon from last night's meal and some other weird things outside... (ahhh... living next to a farm)
Wearing: my favorite grey sweater, black skinnies, and toboggan
Following: anything hippie or boho on Pinterest
Noticing: some extra lines around my eyes... not that I mind.  I like looking "distinguished."
Knowing: that I am extremely, undoubtedly, and most certainly blessed in my life
Thinking: about nothing... when I get home from teaching I'm pretty sure my brain shuts off.
Bookmarking: camel colored long wool coats
Opening: new skin care samples the nice lady at Estee Lauder gave me
Giggling: at Indy and Huck, of course... Indy is chasing Huck around the living room and Huck is refusing to let him have his toy.
Feeling: pretty excited to be in bed by 9:00 tonight!!  5 a.m., I'll be ready for you!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

happy new year from me and my granny blazer

Target blazer, local boutique scarf, Old Navy jeans, Kohl's boots, F21 bag

Hey, it's a blog post.

Good to be back.  After school Christmas concert madness, Christmas prep, holiday travels and sickness, we resurrected today into the sunshine for a few photos (however, don't be fooled, it wasn't even thirty degrees while these photos were taken).  About this blazer...  It was one of two things I bought for myself on Black Friday.  I thought it was a great find.  Count on my husband to give his two cents and mutter something about a grandma...



This scarf, which pretty much goes with anything, was something I picked out as a birthday gift from my mom to me.  I like that it's warm and soft, but not too overpowering like many winter scarfs can be.












And I couldn't resist including this last one... Just to say, not every photo my husband takes is perfect.  Sometimes I'm not ready.  And then I import them all afterwards and run across a beauty like this and laugh and laugh and laugh.



Happy New Year to you and yours, and have a blessed 2015.  :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

sundry thoughts

On a recent trip to the zoo, galavanting with animals.  Meet Minnie Meerkat and Koby Kangaroo.


At the beginning of the new school year, my most challenging classes were 6th grade.  For one, they are HUGE classes and there's barely enough room for them all.  Secondly, they're just difficult.  Like, pull my hair out, scream into a pillow difficult.  BUT the tables turned a few weeks ago when we took a break from Christmas music and I played "Say Something" by A Great Big World while we sang it together.  All of a sudden I had their attention like never before.  Why?  Because I showed them I cared enough to connect with their current culture.  It made me think of church and why it is so important to do the same… Wearing jeans, having an upbeat band, serving coffee and donuts, etc. shows guests that we are right there with them… that church is not about tradition or dressing nice or organs (though none of those things are bad in themselves), but that it's about reaching people where they are and leading them to the gospel of Christ and the community of God.  I am so thankful to be a part of a ministry that does this so well.  And I'm very thankful to be in a different place with my sixth graders than I was in August.  Today in fact, we were singing through "Let There Be Peace on Earth," one of their songs for our upcoming Christmas program, and I thought I might cry at the end of it.  They were realllly singing.  And this precious boy - one of the biggest guys in the class is singing a solo... "..With God as our father, brothers all are we.  Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony."  Goodness... they might have just yet found their way to my heart.

On a completely unrelated note, it is currently twenty-five degrees outside.  Considering it was about seventy degrees a few days ago, it's a bit of a shock to the system.  The last couple days I've been waiting a few extra seconds before walking in the door of my house so that I can feel the cold for longer and think about how it must feel for those who don't have the warmth of a home to go to.  I'm so thankful for our home.  It's small and there are plenty of things about it that I'd love to change, but it's beautiful.  I mean, really, sitting here in the glow of our Christmas tree... It's a warm, beautiful home.  I'm really just writing this for me... So that perhaps the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself because we only have one bathroom, I might run across this post and remember that I am warm, safe, and thankful.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

read of the month


I actually finished this one a while back, but kept forgetting to share.

I rarely read these days just for pure pleasure and entertainment.  Typically I'm reading something to strengthen me spiritually or educationally.  Every now and then I think it's nice to read something just for enjoyment - something that takes me away for a bit - like I did when I was a kid.

My friend let me borrow this one.  It's a mystery novel written from the detective's dog's perspective.  It's clever, funny, and suspenseful.  A great read.  Quinn has a series of these, but I've only read this one so far.