Sunday, December 28, 2014

Be Strong and Courageous

As I sit on my bed, the hum of the 10th load of laundry running in the dryer, and the quiet back and forth of Izzie's swing in the background, I can't help but once again feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the miracle that lies sleeping in that swaying swing.  11 weeks ago, I didn't even know she existed.  11 weeks ago I was knee deep in yet another anniversary date of the loss of one of my babies born into heaven.

And now here I sit.  Baby clothes are in my dryer.  Baby clothes.  And my house is overrun with two kinds of baby seats, a swing, a stroller, a car seat, and 20 different kinds of baby bottles.  And I think about how tomorrow marks two weeks we've had with her.  Two weeks since we saw her face for the first time.  Two weeks of zero sleep, endless diaper changes, the constant dusting of formula powder on the kitchen counter, and nonstop paperwork.  And as challenging as its been ( I knew this newborn business had to be hard, but I had no clue just how hard it was), I wouldn't trade it.  I wouldn't trade it one bit.

And I wonder if I have just one more day left of it.  And then it will all be gone.  She will be gone.

And as I've been consumed with these thoughts since we learned of our upcoming hearing date this next Monday morning, I'm brought once again to the scripture that I sat here reading 11 weeks ago as Jesse and I were trying to figure out what to do.  Where to go.  And how to make the biggest decision we'd ever faced.

And so today I opened my Bible back up, to the same passage I read 11 weeks ago when we first learned of Isobel and I felt so lost, so confused, and so terrified to hope.  And as I now sit and consider all that Monday will hold for us- a decision as to what happens next with the only child I have ever held in my arms as my own-- I take great comfort in the Truth it provides.

Joshua chapter one and three tells the story in which Joshua leads the Israelites out of 40 years of wandering in the desert and into the Promised Land.  They had finally come to the edge of the Jordan River, the last thing that stood between them and the end of their wandering, their waiting, their suffering.  As they waited, God told them to follow the ark of the covenant and cross the river to the other side.

He asked them to do the impossible.  11 weeks ago, God asked Jesse and I to do something that felt impossible.  He asked us to trust Him, and to jump.  Jump big.  He asked us to walk through the open doors He'd placed before us, even if that meant bringing home a little girl for only a short period of time and then stand by and watch as He allowed her to taken from us and placed elsewhere.  And I can imagine how the Israelites felt as they stood at the edge of the Jordan, hearing God tell them to cross over.  To jump.  Jump big.  And trust that the Lord would provide a way.  Would take care of them.  Would somehow get them to the other side to safety.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

And as I sat up with Izzie in the hospital, praying that somehow God would continue to make a way for us to bring her home, but fighting just so much fear that in the 11th hour that would change, and my friend texted and reminded me that I needed to speak and sing Christ's name so that the enemy who was bringing in the fear and uncertainty would leave, the very first thing that popped in my head was that super old song from Vacation Bible School.  We actually used to teach it to the foster kids that I worked with at camp every summer, and it went something like this-- "Be strong- BE STRONG! and courageousssss.  Do not be afraid!  Be strong- BE STRONG! and courageouss, God is never going away ay ay ay!"  ....And don't forget that when you sing it, you're supposed to put your arms up and flex your muscles....  ;-)   And so even though my arms were full and I couldn't do the motions (bummer), I sat in that hospital cube, Isobel asleep in my arms, whispering out through my tears, " Be strong- Be strong! and courageoussss, Do not be afraid!"  And it may be a little hokey, but I tell you what.  My fear left.  My tears stopped.  And my heart found peace.  The circumstance hadn't changed.  But God encouraged my heart and gave me peace.

And I'm pretty sure that as we head to the courthouse on Monday morning, I will be whispering that song to myself.  On repeat.

And just as you all were the army that carried us across the river at our last crossing as we spent nearly three very difficult days in the hospital, I am trusting that the Lord will use you again as we face another crossing tomorrow.  You are our people.  Our army.  You've been praying on our behalf for weeks.  Some of you months.  Maybe some of you for years.  We need you.

And so.

These are the specific prayers on our hearts for Monday, if you wish to join us.

1.  Peace for Jesse and for me.  This is emotional and scary stuff.  Pray that God would bring his Word to mind and that we would find solace in that, no matter the outcome.  Even now, as the evening approaches, I find myself getting more and more restless.  It's time to break out the scripture and the hokey songs and maybe even the muscle-flexing.

2.  Clarity of thought for our attorney.  She has been out of the office off and on over the past two weeks, and we learned a few days ago that it was due to a miscarriage that she and her husband were suffering.  Please pray that God would give her strength and comfort during this time and that she would be able to recall to mind all that needs to be presented on Monday.

3.  Commissioner Mullenaux will be hearing our case on Monday and determining if we will be approved or denied for temporary custody of Isobel while we work out the 6-12 month certification process with the agency and the state.  Please pray that she will have understanding, that she will hear our hearts for the Lord and for this child, and that God will give her the clarity of thought to make the decision that is best for Isobel and for us.  We hope that is to be able to continue to care for her and one day adopt her into our family.  There is also a chance that the Commissioner may determine that she needs more information before she can make that decision, in which case we may walk away from tomorrow's hearing with no additional information but another hearing date.

4.  If you are so bold, please pray that we will not receive yet another hearing date for this decision to be made at a later time, but will receive a decision on Monday, and that it will be for temporary custody to be granted to us.

5.  If we do not receive a favorable decision on Monday, please pray that God would comfort us, and carry us as we grieve what will be an unspeakable loss.  Pray that the enemy would not gain a foothold in our hearts, if that is a valley we must walk.  At this moment, it's a terrifying thought.  But this is where our God has brought us, so He must have a plan.  And we know that it will be for our good.

6.  A little bit of rest before tomorrow would be great.

7.  We need to be down to the Juvenile Court in Durango by 8:30 am on Monday, so we will be leaving here extremely early, fighting rush hour traffic, and hoping to find the courthouse and our hearing room in time.  If you could pray for the logistics of all of that as we navigate in the early, cold morning, with a newborn baby in tow, we'd appreciate it.

I'm going to wrap this up in here in a minute and go pick out my clothes for court tomorrow as my husband and I make every effort to keep our daughter.  And even as the gravity of that statement settles in, these are the things in which I find peace and refuge in this most uncertain and emotional hour.  To God be the glory for all that has already been accomplished through the life of our Isobel Grace.  Amen.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.  1 John 4:18

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,  Ephesians 3:20

14 For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. 15 With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name.  Hebrews 13:14

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

God's Promise- Part One

I'll do my best here but I'm going to warn you that my words will likely fail me and my keyboard will likely be covered in tears before this post is concluded.

Already.  I'm trying to figure out how to explain what we've witnessed, the miracles we've experienced, and the alternate reality in which we seem to be living at this moment.  And I am searching for the words and they just aren't there.

We learned last Saturday morning that our birth mom was scheduled to be induced at 5:30 am on Tuesday, 12/16.  As a result, I spent much of Saturday grabbing a couple of small last minute Christmas gifts for Jesse, cleaning the house, and making freezer meals.  I made my to-do lists for both Saturday and Sunday as I knew I would be working on Monday and they were pretty extensive.  I still didn't believe we were bringing home a baby but I wanted to be "ready" just in case.

I worked on my chores all day Saturday and on Sunday right after church, I came in the house ready to grab a bite to eat and get started on scrubbing a few more things down when I decided to shoot a quick text to *Sarah to find out how her 10 am ultrasound had gone.  I was standing in my bedroom when I saw that she was calling and I figured she was just too tired to text about how the appointment had gone, so I picked up and asked if everything was okay.

"Welll..... They are going to keep me and induce me today.  I probably won't have the baby until tomorrow, but I wanted to let you know.  So I don't know if you guys want to wait a bit and then come or what you'd like to do."

You know that phrase, "run around like a chicken with its head cut off?" ............

As I began throwing clothes around, tripping over the dogs, and putting laundry in the dryer, I talked with her a bit more, assured her that we would be there in just a couple of hours and that we were praying and to keep me posted on her progress.

Jesse came home from work and we were out the door within an hour, car seat and baby bag in tow.

We arrived in Prescott around 3 and went back to check on our sweet Sarah and see how she was doing.  She was doing well although the doctors' were concerned about her pre-eclampsia symptoms and so she was unable to get out of bed or have anything to eat.  Soon after, her mom arrived along with a few of Sarah's friends and a friend of the birth dad's.  The waiting room was pretty full for a while, and we talked with the friends that were present and I periodically went back to check on Sarah, sit with her, and try to get her anything I could to keep her comfortable.  Things progressed slowly and we settled in with our laptops, tablets, and phones and made ourselves at home in the waiting room as we prepared for a long night ahead.

Suddenly at about 1:30 am, Sarah's mother came out and said, "emergency c-section.  Becky, come with me."  And so I rushed back to Sarah's room to give her a hug and a kiss and tell her everything would be fine and we would be praying in the waiting room.  And as I headed back to the waiting room, I went straight for my husband's arms.  For the first time I was worried that the baby wasn't going to be okay.  It would be my story that ended in the death of a baby, afterall.  And so he hugged me, and I began to pace the floor.  After what seemed like an eternity but was only about 20 minutes later, I watched as Sarah was wheeled back to the OR.  I sat back down, head in hands, praying that God would protect our Sarah and allow for the safe delivery of this baby.  Still all the while, not knowing if things would change at the last minute, if I would get a chance to even see her, much less take her home.  And then at 2:20 am on Monday, December 15th, we stared down the hallway to see a doctor and nurse emerge wheeling a small plastic basinnett accompanied by Sarah's mother.  She pointed directly at Jesse and me and waved us toward her.  We were instantly ushered in right behind the baby to the nursery where we watched in total disbelief as the nurse weighed the 6 pound 4 ounce bundle of wiggles laying before us.  And for the first time we were referred to in our new roles as the nurse, without hesitation, with a giant smile on her face said, "mom and dad, come on over here and lets measure her!"  Everything was blurred by my tears and yet at the same time I so clearly remember holding the tape measure and staring in total disbelief at the baby before me.

There was no way that any of this was real.

And so the next two hours flew by as we were encouraged to stay right next to the baby's warmer while the doctor's checked her out and monitored her vitals.  And then for the first time, the baby was wrapped up and handed to me, and I held her for the first time.

And as the night went on, we sat quietly in our curtained cubicle in the nursery and took turns holding her, feeding her, and changing her.

A few hours later as we were going to make our best attempt to "settle down" with me in a recliner, the baby in her warmer, and Jesse in a desk chair the nurses had wheeled in for him, Sarah's mom texted and asked if she could come back for a minute.  And so she did, and she let us know that Sarah was doing okay but desperately needed to try to settle down and get some rest, but as her mom told her that she was going to send her friends home from the waiting room and asked if there was anyone she wanted to see one more time before trying to get some sleep, she told her mom that she wanted to see me.

Without hesitation, I left the baby with Jesse and headed back to Sarah's room.  She looked exhausted but beautiful and as I walked in to her room, she grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the bed.  She said she was feeling better than before and wanted to know if we were doing okay.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

I kneeled down next to her bed, assured her that everyone was doing great and that we were just worried about her and wanted her to get some sleep.  She was still having blood pressure issues at the time.  I stayed for a few minutes until she nodded off, told her mother that we were praying for all of them and that if they needed us for anything just to call.

When I got back to the nursery, the baby was in her warmer and Jesse was trying to get a few moments of sleep.  I settled in as best I could and may have nodded off for a few moments, but mostly sat and marveled in awe of what I felt like was happening around me.

It was all so.  surreal.  holy.  divine.  sacred.  miraculous.  The kind of thing where you know that for the rest of your life, you will treasure and carry moments so near and dear to your heart.  And you will try your very best to describe them to others so that they too could marvel at what could only come from God's divine hand, but knowing that words would fail every time.

The next morning, we "got up" and I poked my head out to the nurses's station to ask if we were allowed to grab a bite for breakfast and bring it into the nursery with us.  The nurse smiled and said, "how about you leave her here with us, go get some food, and we will take care of her while you're gone.  It's good for you to get out."  And so as the thought had never occurred to me, we gladly accepted the offer and left the nursery hand in hand to head down to the cafeteria.  We mostly sat in silence and stared at our food, but continually grasped the other's hand and smiled.  No one else knew or shared what we were sharing. What we were experiencing.

And after a quick clothing change and facewash, I began to feel like a new person.

We sat contentedly in our nursery cubicle, but politely asked the charge nurse again if they thought they might be able to get us any sort of room to try to get just a little sleep.  she said they would absolutely try and so we hung out with the baby, taking pictures and waiting to hear from the birth mom or her mom.

As the morning went on, we did finally hear from Sarah's mom who said that Sarah was again asking for me.  I went to see her and gave her a hug.  I sat with her for a bit while her mom went to get some breakfast and she tried to stay awake and chat a little, but she fell asleep mid sentence.  I wheeled a stool closer to her bed and sat with my hand on her leg and began to pray.  I prayed for healing.  For comfort.  For peace.  And I prayed that some day, she would be okay.  I knew it wouldn't be for a long while, but begged God to mend the heart that was most assuredly broken and to watch over her because I knew that I couldn't.

A short while later as I sat back in the nursery with Jesse, praying that the staff could find us a small room so that we could get just a little sleep, I began to receive some alarming messages from Sarah's mom.  To make a long story short and to be respectful of the hearts of others, the bottom line was that some of the birth father's family members were having a difficult time dealing with the situation and the placement of this baby in another family's home and as a result, began making some alarming statements about wanting to see her, hold her, and that maybe she should come home with them instead.

By this time, it was early afternoon on Monday, we had been up for two straight days, were on major emotional overload, and began to feel the rug being pulled out from under us.  All we could do was wait and pray.  We knew our social worker would be there soon and would help us navigate this most scary and difficult situation, but in the meantime, we were afraid.  I felt delirious.  I felt scared.  I felt kind of alone.  And I really just wanted my mom.  And so as our social worker arrived and we met with her to discuss what we knew, we headed back to the nursery to give her a chance to sit down with the birth father and his family before all of us sat down together.

And as I sat with the baby in my arms, the tears began to fall.  I never could see us bringing her home.  I never saw it in my mind.  And I had felt in my heart for several weeks that we most likely wouldn't.  And so why should I be surprised that now in the 11th hour, after all we had experienced and witnessed, that God would allow a change in plans?  I shouldn't be.  I knew it would go this way.  And so I sat, baby in arms.  Weeping.  Begging God to let us keep her but to help my heart if she wasn't ours.  It wasn't a pretty prayer.  And it was likely nonsensical.  But I have no doubt that my God heard it.

And so an hour later, we walked hand in hand back to the waiting room, completely at the end of our emotional and brain capacity ropes, and faced the birth father and 3 of his family members face to face.  The tension in the room was palpable.  And so I took a deep breath and asked them how they were feeling about everything.  They opened up about their grief at losing this little girl, expressed their desires that maybe things could have gone differently, and their fears of never being able to see her again.  We listened and offered Kleenex, and once they'd had a chance to express their feelings, we did the one thing that had not yet been done.  We validated how they felt.  We acknowledged that we knew grief firsthand as well, that albeit the situation wasn't the same exactly, we knew the pain of losing a child.  We told them that their grief was real, made perfect sense, and that we were sorry they were hurting.  We tried as best we could to explain what an open adoption agreement was and let them know that the baby's birth parents would be able to decide what kind of relationship they wanted to have with her.  And that we fully supported whatever they chose and would work very very hard to make sure that this child knew how loved she was by them.

And instantly.  It was like someone took a pin and just popped the balloon.  The tension left the room, the fear dissipated, everyone began to breathe.

After some more time with the family, and the opportunity for them to meet the baby and get some pictures of her, we learned that the nurses had set up a make-shift room for us with a bed, recliner, rocking chair, space for the baby, and an actual door that closed.  And so as we shut off the lights, Jesse sank down into the recliner, and I layed my head on the bed, I once again closed my eyes and marveled at what God had just done.  Again.  And again.  I knew.  It was nothing short of a miracle.  With the lack of sleep and emotional pressure we were under, combined with the fact that none of our "people" were there with us, I knew that what had just transpired was of the Lord.  period.

We finally got a little rest and some food and began to feel like we could face another night in the hospital.  Before we settled in for good, I paid another visit to Sarah.  She looked happy to see me and I sat on the edge of her bed asking her how her day had been and how she was feeling.  We had been discussing names for the baby for weeks and as she and her boyfriend had chosen a middle name that they loved, I asked her what she thought of Isobel for a first name.  I told her it was derived from the name Elizabeth which means "God's promise" as she was the woman in the Bible who waited many many years to see God's promise to her to have a child fulfilled.  I told her we liked Izzie for short and asked her what her thoughts were.  She began to beam and as she looked at her boyfriend who nodded, she replied "I love it.  Isobel. Isobel Grace.   Izzie.  It's perfect."  We talked a bit more, I hugged her goodnight, and assured her that no one would be going anywhere the next morning without the opportunity for her farewell time with the baby.  She nodded and said that she would be ready tomorrow.

And so Jesse and I settled in for our night, took turns taking care of our newly named Isobel, and I drifted off to sleep in between feedings with the sounds of Taylor Swift's 1989 album in my headphones as it was the only music I had on my new phone and I needed something to drown out the beeps and loud sounds of the nursery outside our door.

We got up the next morning and anxiously awaited the arrival of our social worker yet again.  She would be arriving at any moment with the paperwork for the birth parents to sign that would sign legal guardianship over to the agency and allow us to go home with Isobel.  As we had become accustomed, we had a time of prayer and a short while later were summoned to the waiting room where our social worker was waiting with the signed and notarized affidavit of fost/adopt placement.  We were taking this little girl home.

We signed paperwork, made sure we knew what our to-do list was when we returned home, visited with the doctor in the nursery who gave Izzie a clean bill of health and discharged her care to us and began to pack our bags.  It wasn't quite time to leave yet and so we took deep breaths, said another prayer, and began to wheel Izzie's bassinet back to Sarah's room so that they could meet for the first time and have some time together.

There is no way that I will ever be able to accurately describe what took place in that hospital room over the next hour.  I took Isobel from her basinnett and placed her in her other mother's arms, knelt next to the bed, and placed my hand on her knee as she wept.  After some time had passed, Jesse and I layed hands on these young parents and asked God to bless them, watch over them, protect them, and guide them as they navigated life from here.  We thanked God for their monumental life-changing sacrifice and asked that He would help us to know the best way to support them as we moved forward.  Together.

And so we sat for about an hour, Izzie in Sarah's arms, as she periodically wept, sat in silence, and giggled as she talked about all of Isobel's sweet features.  After an hour had passed, Sarah caught my eye and said, "okay."

"are you sure?" I asked.

"Yes, I'm sure." she replied.

And so, I lifted Izzie up to her mother's lips so that she could kiss her face and then gently took her and handed her to Jesse.

And as Sarah and I embraced for the last time during this experience, we fell apart in each other's arms.  I reminded her what a good mother she was and told her that we would do everything we could to watch over Izzie for the time that she was in our care.  I kissed Sarah's forehead and told her that we would not stop praying for her and that I loved her.

And as we left the hospital with our social worker, escorted by a nurse, I remember thinking one thing.

Only God does this.  I didn't even know this child existed until about 9 weeks ago and here she is.  Dressed in the same outfit that my parent's dressed me in when they took me home from the hospital 31 years ago, covered by the matching blanket that her birth mother was no doubt now cuddling, alone in her hospital room, and she was coming home with us.

She was coming home with us.

Our God?  He moves mountains.  And.  He fulfills all of His promises.

"Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Road trip!

Well, things are happening. We made the announcement in Sunday School today that our birth mom had an ultrasound today, a doctor appointment Monday, and that she had an early morning appointment for induction on Tuesday. 
Well, God has changed those plans, and we got a phone call today. She was being admitted, and they were starting the induction. So I left work, we hit the road, and we are sitting in the waiting room of one of the fanciest birthing centers ever. 

We had big plans to update you with a puzzle post this afternoon, and to let you know how we've been blessed in the last week. And now, that seems like such a distant memory. 

So I'm going to do my best from here, without my list, or the filled in puzzle picture. 

Robert and Janessa Sneddon
Keith and Theresa Jiran
Paul and Elaine Hendricks
Dean and Sue Sunderland 
David and Debbie Pubins
Drew and Val Freeman

Thank you! You have no idea how humbled and gracious we are for you, and for your amazing gifts in this process. 

We have had some other amazing gifts and offers made this week that have been so moving that we want to mention them also. Some friends of mine at work are asking desperately what they can do for us. Two of the coworkers that donated our car seat told me on my way out to call if I needed anything, that they'd head up the hill too. Our usual dog sitter told us not to worry about a thing, that she'd be over and everything would be taken care of. My good friend has offered to stock our fridge, drive up and get us coffee, or anything else. 

One of the girls that has been touched by Becky and Karen's ministry send us a gift card she received for exchanging clothes. The gift card was accompanied by a three page letter explaining her story, and her desire to help in ours. 

You are all a major part of the story of bringing this little girl home. Thank you. 

Please continue to pray for our birth mom, for her comfort and health. 
For the family that is offering this child up. 
Please pray for the legal process that still has to happen, and for the health insurance to come through. 

We are so thankful to have all of you reading this, praying for us, and moving forward with us. 

I'll update you all when there's more news. 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's getting real

So the time has come for a new update. As I'm sure, all of you that are following this blog and picking up on details know, tomorrow (today for many of you checking Facebook in the morning,) is the due date. 12/11. It's here. 

This week has been an exciting one, filled with automotive issues, and various other scares. Let me give you my rundown for the yesterday, just so you can be on track with how crazy our days are becoming. Let me preface this by reminding everyone of our car situation. About 14 months ago, I totaled my wife's car. What I mean to say is an irresponsible young woman on her phone ran a red light and t-boned my wife's car while I was driving it. In retaliation, I bought a 1995 4Runner, in a hideous gold color, which I have been driving since.

Essentially, I drive a 19 year old truck with cold A/C and a sweet cassette deck because the radio works, and I don't like making payments on cars. Now I say the radio works, because the half- extended, chromed, automatic antenna may lead you to believe that it might not. What decided not to work this week, was the brakes. For those of you new to marriage, never preface a mid morning phone call to the wife with "my brakes went out." So Tuesday morning became a mad game of phone tag trying to organize a ride to work, which I was able to get. 

Then we got a call from our birth mom. She was leaving her checkup, and headed to the hospital with a possible diagnosis of preeclampsia. For those of you who don't know what that is, it basically means it's time to induce because the baby is causing health problems for the momma. 

We were at defcon 2. I say that, because The Big Bang Theory has taught me that the lower the number, the higher the alert status. 

We found out later, that our momma was actually just very dehydrated, which presents the same way. So we were finally able to relax a few hours later. Following all of this, a promotion at work fell through for me, and work for Becky has ramped up significantly in the last week. We ended the night exhausted, as I got dropped off, and basically fell out of the shower and into bed. 

Today, we shared a car, I fixed my affectionately named "Beast" truck, took the dog to the vet, and spent half the day on the phone with insurance companies, lawyers, and whoever else felt like putting me on hold.  Thank goodness for unlimited minute plans these days. 

So here's where we're at, at the end of a couple rough days (prayer requests):

Birth momma is still waiting to hear if she'll have insurance coverage for the delivery. This is a big deal, because if it doesn't go through, we will be financially responsible for it. 

The doctor is talking about inducing as early as Friday, depending on how the checkup that day goes. 

We are praying for the health of the momma, and baby, as we approach (in a few hours) the due date and the days following. 

We are also coming into the part of the process in which we have some large fees coming up. Please pray that this would go smoothly, and that all our bases would be covered. 

The legal process is slow, and we have gotten news of a bit of a setback this week. We were prepared for this news, but nonetheless, it's a bit nerve racking. 

I want to finish this off with a moment of gratitude. We want to thank everyone that has surprised us with donations, gifts, and thoughtful words this week. We appreciate everyone's part in this. Your encouragement is invaluable, your gifts are amazingly thoughtful, and your donations are going straight to covering the expenses for taking care of this yet unnamed baby girl, and making sure that she goes to a loving home. We pray that it's ours. We know it will be the right one for her. 

- Jesse

And because everyone loves pictures, here's one of Ellie helping me work on the 4Runner. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Okay!  As a follow up to our Thanksgiving post ( where we announced our first fundraising project, we want to give an update on the progress of the puzzle! 

Today we spent some time writing the names of folks who purchased pieces and thanking God for the kindness and generosity of so many. 

The Call Family
The Fine Family
The Hester Family
The Tarbutton Family
Shey Parise
The Hoyt Family
Grandma Brimhall
The Frerichs Family
Grandma and Grandpa Kelley
Josh, Karen, Jake, Eisley, Jones, Lily, Grace, James, Ember, and Baby Harrison
The Bette Family
The Aaron Kelley Family

You are all an integral piece of this child's story and we can't wait to tell her one day of the people who loved her and were a part of bringing her home. 

We are overwhelmed by your generosity and the selflessness, and thankful to see the progress made on our puzzle project in just one week! Thank you! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014


"Why are you crying?"

Sniff sniff

"Are you sad?  Are you sad these things aren't for you?"

Sniff sniff

"Are you okay?  Why are you crying?  Do you just like crying?"

sniff sniff

I'm crying because this is one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had.  I'm crying because I wish there was another way.  I'm crying because I'm scared.  I'm crying because I know that none of these things will make her cry less.  I'm crying because another woman wants to give me her child.  I'm crying because I can't have a child of my own.  I'm crying because I will miss her once everything changes.  I'm crying because I'm terrified none of this will actually happen.  I'm crying because I'm terrified all of this will actually happen.  I'm crying because I need to tell her what I really think of her and my words are failing me.  I'm crying because I wish things were different.  I'm crying because.  I'm crying.  I don't know why I'm crying. 

Sometimes there are moments.  Moments in life that don't seem real.  Moments that you know will never happen again.  Moments that are extraordinary.  That you know few people get to experience.  That you never ever want to forget.  Moments where there are no words to capture the sacredness of what is happening.  To really reflect on the magnitude of what is taking place.  And that you are somehow a part of it all?  To say that it's overwhelming doesn't even scratch the surface.

I've been having a large number of those moments lately.  They've happened in my home, at work, while driving, and even at Walmart. That's right.  Stinky, chaotic, crazy crowded Walmart.

One of them happened on a Saturday morning about 8 weeks ago.  When my phone rang and someone told me that there was a young woman looking to place her baby with a family.  In 8 short weeks.

Another happened about two weeks after that. When I sat in a Starbucks in Prescott across the table from a young sweet woman who told me that she was seriously considering giving me her baby.  Giving me her child.

Then there was the night that I went to take the trash out and stumbled over a small pink bag on my doorstep-- and when I brought it inside to open it, an anonymous 1000 cashier's check fell out with a simple tagline that read:  For baby.

And what about that phone conversation about a week and a half ago.  When that same sweet young mother told me over the phone that she wants me to be the first one to hold her daughter.  That she wants me and my husband to have her first moments on earth in the nursery with her together, alone.
And the moment this morning when I read the letter she wrote to her daughter, with tears streaming down my face.  Entrusted to me to give to her when she was old enough to understand why her mom made the choices she did.

And then again today when we drove from the Walmart parking lot, and my husband couldn't understand why I was crying.  When my emotions got the better of me when I considered that the hour we had just spent compiling a hospital care package for this young woman was an experience that both simultaneously broke and blessed my heart.

I don't know about you, but these are all first for me.  I've never had someone offer to give me their own flesh and blood.

Imagine that for just one second.  Imagine someone saying that to you.  Offering to give that to you.

.......................What do you say to that?  

These are not normal, every day occurrences for me.  I pretty much feel like I'm watching all of this happen to someone else.  And in those moments.  When our sweet momma says those things to me.  Or asks me if I will give her daughter a letter for her one day.  It's like that moment where no one else is around, and something profound has just happened, and you look around and say..."did anyone else just hear that that????"

No one escapes from this unscathed.  Adoption.  It either guts the man and woman willing to choose another role in their biological child's life other than parenting, or guts the man and woman who open themselves up to hope with the very real possibility that they could be let down.

Someone ends up with a broken heart.

And in the moment where I was staring at the pile of warm fuzzy socks, lip balm, pj pants, lotion, books, and magazines-- I realized that it could be her.  And you know what?  That broke my heart.  Because I've grown to love her.  I've grown to love her and to admire her.  Deeply.  I don't know that I could ever make the sacrifice that she is planning to make.  She inspires me.  Challenges me.  Encourages me.  

Today has been a weird day.  And that's probably part of why none of this makes sense or leads from one coherent thought to another.  I found myself aimlessly driving around this evening and as I talked to my husband while he was on break at work, I told him that I felt a little lost today, but I couldn't figure out why.  He pointed out that it's probably because we are in limbo.


an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place.- according to

Limbo.  Limbo of whether or not I should commit to sitting in a movie theater for two hours.  Limbo of whether or not it's okay to leave my phone upstairs for a little while while I'm in the living room. Limbo of whether I should buy another baby item because I already feel like I have too many to ignore if I find myself upon another season of grief tomorrow.  Limbo of how to plan for today.  Or tomorrow.  or for Christmas.  Limbo of whether or not I'm going to suddenly become a parent.  Like right now.  
I read an article this week that explained it all far better than I could.  It was the one thing that everything came down to for us.  A few weeks ago, we were at the point where we had to make a decision.  Offer to move forward, knowing the outcome was highly uncertain.  Or take a step back, grieve a little at an opportunity that was probably too good to be true, and wait to see what might come our way next.  And let me tell you something.  My husband was very close.  Extremely close.  Almost 100% decided that we should not move forward with this baby.  The one thing that he couldn't get past.  It wasn't the money.  It wasn't the idea of having a child that wasn't biologically ours.  It wasn't that it was so fast.  It was that we might bring her home, and then have to give her up due to legal circumstances beyond our control.  And he looked me in the eye and he told me that he didn't think he could subject my heart to one.  more.  loss.  And I will never forget the look in his eye when I told him that I was terrified of that very thing.  But that if that happened.  And it meant that our time with her had only been measured in days.  That every moment.  Every kiss.  Every prayer.  Every lullaby.  It would hurt to lose all of that.  It would hurt deeply.  But that if I found myself, arms empty once again, I could just not see regretting the moments that had been spent with her.  The love that had been given to her.  I could not.  see.  regretting that.  

And so we jumped

And we came to the same place that the author of this article, a foster dad, came to: "(we) were committed to experiencing the pain of loving a child (we) might lose if it meant a child who has lost so much could experience the gain of (our) love."

And he puts it best when he explains exactly how we feel, "As my wife and I began the foster care process with a three day old baby girl we had to make the same decision for ourselves - that we would rather experience the pain of a very great loss if it meant this little girl placed in our home could experience the gain of a very great love - no matter how long she stayed with us. We would embrace the heartache of having to let her go if it meant she knew, if even for a short time, what it meant to truly be held onto. We can't let the fear of loving a child who might leave deter us; we must let the fear of a child never knowing love drive us. A different kind of fear. A better one. "

And what Jesse and I decided that night is that no matter the outcome.  No matter the potential devastating, disappointing heartbreak that may lie ahead, we had to try.  To take the biggest leap we've ever taken.  Because none of this was about us.  I'd prayed for two years to find a baby on my doorstep.  For one to suddenly fall from the sky.  And now that it seems as if one has, we have no choice but to embrace this mentality-- " In the end, our call is to fully love these children while we have them and accept the costs we may incur as worth it for the gain they may receive. This is nothing more than what Jesus has done for us. He joyfully laid down the infinite value of His own life so that we might know the immeasurable worth of being fully and unconditionally loved in Him. Foster care is a beautiful expression of the Gospel. It demands a selfless, costly and potentially painful love for the sake of a child gaining much as you willingly give all. As we labor to love with the love we ourselves have received from Jesus, we do so in a cloud of uncertainties and unknowns, but with the confidence of one guarantee - it's always worth it. Always. "

I don't even remember where I started with all of this.  It's been a very long, very strange day.  It started with discussions about names with our birth momma.    And now at the end of it, I'm going to make sure my ringer is on, and pray that if tonight's the night, God will give me what I need to do what He's asked me to do. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Name Game

First, let me start by saying thank you. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey so far. We have been blown away by the generosity, the prayer, and the continued support from all of you. We are still in shock at the speed in which donations started coming in, at the people who have appeared out of nowhere for us, and for all the support we are feeling day to day.

We have been in a unique state of being over the last week. We mentioned that our birth mom, *Sarah, had woken up with contractions the weekend before Thanksgiving. Everything is still going well, and we have been on call, basically, in case this baby decides to make an early arrival.

One of our most recent topics has been on names. We have gone through many many possibilities, and I have been playing a unique role in this endeavor, well, unique from my point of view. As a guy, (I'm careful not to say man in this instance), I have given myself the chore of shooting down names that are questionable, or would be easy to make fun of. Becky has been amused at some of my comments, and annoyed slightly at others. I don't want to give any away, in case we use some variant that is slightly harder to manipulate, but I do want to give a couple ideas of names that I have suggested that Becky has shot down.

1. Florida
2. Bacon (everyone would love her)
3. Quinn
4. Pound Cake (middle name. Like "my middle name is danger" only, for huskier people.)

Needless to say, I'm close to being kicked out of the naming party. 

I did have a moment yesterday morning which made me wonder about parenting in general. You know those times when you see a kid doing something in front of his parents, and they don't seem to notice, but you think to yourself "I'd never let my kid do that in public"? Well this happened in a grocery store parking lot yesterday. Now usually when I see stuff that I think is ridiculous, I take a picture of it and send it to my wife, or my friends at work. In this case, it would not have gone well if I had done that.

I had just come out of the grocery store, about 1030 or so on a wednesday morning. I had loaded up the car, and was sitting in the driver seat, trying to look something up, when an Escalade pulled in nearby. The parking lot was pretty empty, so there's a clear view in all directions of this Escalade, as a young mom gets out, gets her 4 ish year old out of the car, and moves to the other side of the car to, I assume, get another little one out of the car. As i look back up from my phone, the little boy has moved back to the driver side of the car, without mom. He makes his way up to the driver's side front wheel, drops his pants to his ankles, and proceeds to urinate on the 20" chrome rims. In the middle of a grocery store parking lot. In the middle of the morning. On the Escalade. Mom had no idea. And then, as if he forgot, he proceeded to walk around to the back of the car, without pulling up his pants.
My children will not be doing that.

If you have been following the blog, or you read our previous post, you have seen that we launched our Puzzle Piece fundraiser on Sunday. Basically, we have put together a piece of art for the nursery, and have had it printed as a puzzle. For a small donation of $10, you can purchase a puzzle piece, we'll write your name on it, and when the puzzle is completed, we're going to hang it in the nursery. You can, of course, purchase multiple pieces, and some day, when this baby is old enough to understand, we're going to show her the names of all the people that helped pray for her, and helped  bring her home. The big news: we have already sold 30 pieces! How awesome is that?

We said that we would post up every week with the names of those who have bought puzzle pieces, who have literally been a piece of bringing this baby home. Well, it hasn't been a week yet, so you'll have to check back to see the names and messages that have been sent in.

Becky got a message last night, from someone who was asking for the donation site information. I get that if you're using a mobile browser to read this, you won't be able to see the link, so here's the donation information.

If you want to send a donation through PayPal, you can, to
We also have a fundraising page through

Thank you so much for everything you're doing to bring this little girl home, and thank you for your continued prayers.

We will make sure everyone knows what's going on as we get more information, and when we head to the hospital.


Sunday, November 30, 2014


This week has been a crazy one. I don't even know where to start.

We realize the importance of being thankful during this holiday season, and realistically, we feel that we have a lot to be thankful for. We got to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family, who reminded us, even in our uncertainty, of how thankful we should be for the path we're on.  And we are. Regardless of the outcome, we have been given a much needed dose of hope in all of this. God has not forgotten us and He has a plan and a perfect timeline. 

We had cousins bring their very favorite baby items for us, several unexpected gifts of new and handmade baby items from friends, and from family, and some very heartwarming gifts from my mom. The roughest part of it all, was cutting the festivities short so I could be up early for Black Friday at work. 

After dealing with the masses, I came home friday to find that our carseat, the gift from my co-workers had arrived, which meant that I, being a guy, had to immediately open it, put it together, and figure it out.  Juno did not appreciate the stroller. 

Thank you all for your gifts, and your contributions to our cause. We found out this week that *Sarah has signed on with our adoption agency, that things are going well, and that things could happen anytime. We are pretty much 10 days from the due date, and we have no idea what the real time frame is going to be. Our bags are packed, our ringers are always on, and we are ready to go whenever we need to.

We have decided to follow in the footsteps of some friends from way back when, and put together an adoption puzzle. You are all so invested in this journey with us and we thought this might be a way to not only raise some much-needed funds but to generate some excitement and include you all in a more tangible way. You are as much a part of this child's story as we are. 

Becky had me draw up a piece of art that we might one day put in a nursery (that seems really weird to say still), and we are having it printed as a puzzle. For a donation of $10 we will put your name on a puzzle piece. You can buy as many pieces as you like. We will update the blog weekly with all the names that are filling up the backsides of our puzzle pieces.  Eventually, we hope to put the whole puzzle together in a glass-backed frame, and someday, we will explain to this little girl who all the people are that helped us bring her home. There are 252 pieces, and we'll be adding pieces for those who've already made donations. 

As we've said, donations can be made through the website (widget on the right), through paypal ( or, as many of you have done, in person. Unfortunately at this time, we do not have the ability to collect tax-deductible funds through the agency, but if that changes we will be sure to let you know as many of you have asked about that. 

We really do want to thank you all for eveything you've done for us, for the prayer, for the financial support, and for the time and thoughts you've given us.

Please continue to pray that we would be a voice for God to Sarah. That things would continue to go smoothly for everyone. That we would be content to be a part of this journey, no matter the outcome...there is so much uncertainty, but one thing we are certain of is that We have a God who loves us, has a plan for our lives, and who is ABLE. 

Also, Becky is extra sneaky with the instagram, so if you haven't seen this on Facebook, here it is.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A whirlwind weekend

It's been a few days since we've posted anything, and I wanted to take minute to do so, and to say why. This week had been absolutely crazy. The mountain of paperwork I mentioned in my last post, there has been more. More phone calls. More craziness.

What has been the most overwhelming is the generosity of our friends and family. Becky posted last night that I had a surprise at work. One of the guys I work with raised $130 and put it on a gift card, signed by several co-workers, and a couple managers, and said "here, use this to buy the carseat." I've got to say, I'm blown away by the generosity of the people I work with. Becky was too.

We've received several donations, and honestly, they've been coming quickly enough that its hard to keep up. A friend walked up to us at church, 12 hours after our first blog post, and handed us a check for $100 dollars with the memo line "Operation:Adoption!" One of Becky's coworkers gave her a gift card to Target for $100. We got a $10, and a $20 donation through the YouCaring site listed here on the blog, both within hours of our first post. Becky's parents have donated, and today, someone snuck up and left an anonymous gift, a Christmas ornament and $1000 cashier's check that simply said "For Baby." We have been offered car seats, photography sessions, a crib, a pack-n-play, donated milk from a mama who lost her little one two months ago,  and honestly, I'm not even sure what else. Becky has been fielding the texts.

You people, your support, your prayer, your hope and excitement, are overwhelming. I simply don't know a better word for it. I want you to know, we cherish every single one of you. Even just the excitement you have brought to us, has been sustaining. Your gifts are building the story of this little girl, and our journey to bring her home.

We have said, and continue to say, that we don't know how long she'll be a part of our lives. Because of the situation, the accelerated time frame and all, she could be with us for a short time, or a lifetime. Either way, these gifts will go to her care, and, if she ends up being God's gift to another family, they will go helping us bring another child into our home.

Thank you. Thank you.

Now, as is my style, I'm going to submit you to a bit of an anecdote from our first trip to buy baby things. This weekend, we took a trip to Target, to the baby section, and tried to make sense of what all of this stuff is. Now, there are about 300 different sizes of clothes, which was easy enough to navigate. Apparently, I can't seem to figure out what the difference between girl clothes and boy clothes are. Becky, of course, has a bit more of an eye for picking out the difference between a grey and white onesie with penguins and a grey and white onesie with penguins in which every 23rd penguin has a pink ribbon in its hair. (I didn't realize penguins had hair, let alone did I notice the bows)
We found baby a couple receiving blankets, some towels, we got some formula, and then realized that there is a whole aisle in Target, which is not a baby specialty store, of just different nipples for the bottles. Who knew? Actually, I'm sure many of you knew.

Lets not even get into the selection of pacifiers. Becky ended up just grabbing the pink ones, while I pondered whether to get the infant nuks, or the 0-3mo philips something or others. I particularly favor the ones with mustaches, although I've been told they are inappropriate for a girl baby.

We are diving in. You are making this possible. Thank you so much.

If any of you are holding off, I thought I'd mention, if you don't want to mess with YouCaring, we can also do paypal.

Here's a picture of a couple outfits I picked out. Can you find the penguins with bows?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flash Forward

I just walked in the door from my trip to the Agency, dropping off a mountain of paperwork to initiate our Home Study. So, I thought I'd take a minute and let everyone know what's progressed since this weekend, and answer some questions that we've been asked. 

First of all, forgive my spelling and grammar in this post; I'm partially cross-eyed after my marathon of paperwork, delving into everything from my health background to my dogs' licensing. But, that aside, we are excited, because progress is being made, and everything seems much more real as of today. 

We have heard from Sarah this week, and despite a small car accident, things are going well for her. She has an appointment with a representative from the agency next week who will present her with all her options. We want this, because they will give Sarah all her options, and all the support she could need moving forward, even after birth.  So, good news!

We are excited and moved by all the support we have received in just the past few days. We have mentioned the donation site we are using, and have a received donations there, as well as in person. We have been offered clothing, baby stuff, photo shoots, and all kinds of stuff and we are greatful for everything that you have offered and given. 

The next part of this post is a subject that could be taken a couple different ways, so I want to make an effort to establish how I hope it will be taken. Quite a few people have been a bit surprised by the financial side of this, and we were a bit too. We want to give some details, as an effort to be clear, and beyond reproach, and to establish that we are not simply throwing numbers around that we have made up. A friend has asked where monetary donations are going, and how much we are raising, so here's a breakdown as far as that goes. 

Today we submitted our Home Study fee of $1250 which covers the the agency's extensive background check which is needed for us to be certified by the state Arizona. 

We have an upcoming education fee, of $400, which covers 7 weeks of classes for us in order to be certified. These classes include a lot of education in parenting adopted children, state laws, etc. 

There is a retainer of $5000 which covers counseling and legal counsel for Sarah. 

 We are also looking at having to retain a lawyer outside of the agency to be able to file for temporary custody, as well as for the final placement in about 9 months time. The legal fees are something that we'd like to cover, but we'll say that they add considerably to the need in the long term. 

Also, as we've learned, we hold a portion of responsibility for the medical costs associated with the birth. By a portion, I mean we have responsibility for the portion not covered by insurance. 

Add into all of this the travel costs and such, since Sarah is not in the Phoenix area, and I hope you are beginning to see why the costs are high. High, but justified. 

Not counting the travel expenses, legal fees, and some of the thing we have already taken care of, we are in the ballpark of $10-13 thousand. 

Something else that we'd like to point out, is that in this type of adoption, the cost is actually about $15000 less than a regular adoption. In a regular adoption, there would be an additional $3000 to be listed for matching services with a birth mom, as well as a final placement fee of $20,000 which would cover the agency's support of a birth mom for a much longer portion of the pregnancy. Suffice it to say,  there is a large difference when you meet the birth mom outside the agency. 

We feel confident that God will provide, and we thank those of you who have been a part of that. Once again, our goal in breaking down the fees is just to establish a transparency in this journey, so that you know that your money is not going nowhere, but to very specific costs and areas, one of the most important, we feel, is the care of the birth mom, Sarah. 

We want to see Sarah, and her child cared for, and supported. And we want to see God glorified in the outcome of this situation. 

The big reiteration due at the end of this blog is that this cost, realistically, is more than worth it. We'd give anything we could to make sure mama and baby are taken care of. Honestly, they're both very precious to us. 

- Jesse

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Story Time

Way back when I worked at a summer camp. I spent something like seven or eight summers there, and the last couple I spent as the high adventure director. I was also one of the the Protestant chaplains for a time. I heard a sermon at a youth retreat in college, and brought it to the camp one Sunday, as it applied really well at the camp.

The Non-Denominational Chapel, called Inspiration Point, sat atop a hill in the middle of a "Y" shaped valley in the center of the camp. From Inspiration Point, the views were pretty spectacular, and all the split-log pews faced east to Roosevelt's Peak. The peak rose about 1700 feet above the camp, and was visible from anywhere you could find a clearing in the pines. Climbing to the peak involved climbing those 1700 feet in just over two miles, which began on a low angle uphill, and gradually led to a 90 foot near vertical climb to the top. At the top, 40 years worth of names of previous visitors were carved in the rocks, high above the tree line of the Mogollon Rim. From the Peak, you could see for miles in all directions; even as far as Four Peaks, about eight miles to the south. The most unique thing about the trail to Roosevelts Peak, was that it was the only trail you could not hike without a staff guide. I'm sure you've guessed that I ended up being that guide.

Hiking the peak involved taking three well- marked, commonly used trails that intersected on their way up the peak, and a fourth hidden trail that started behind a thicket of manzanita trees, and led up the final leg. Many years ago, once you passed the thicket, and you knew where to look, there was a trail sign that simply said the word "TRAIL" with an arrow pointing up on either side. The markings were carved into a pine board, painted red, and left to the elements for years.

So, now that you have an idea of what this all looked like, you get to read a ten-year-later paraphrase of my lesson from Inspiration Point.

Welcome to Inspiration Point, and Sunday morning services here at Camp Geronimo. My name is Jesse and I am one of the chaplains here, as well as the Spade Ranch Director. I work primarily with the older guys, and we learn rock climbing, horseback riding, rifle shooting, trail maintenance, and a lot of other activities. Now one of the most exciting things about my job here, is that I get to lead the weekly hike up Miller's Trail to Roosevelt's Peak. That's Roosevelt's Peak behind me, and it's about 1500 feet above us here on Inspiration Point. 

Now looking back over the many groups I've take up to Roosevelt's Peak, I've come to notice that most people fall into three categories. It's interesting to see that we tend to fall into the same three categories as believers.

The first group, are those who hear stories of the hike, of the strenuous task of it, and just decide to admire it from afar. These are the people who decide on their own, without even trying, that they don't have what it takes to even start the journey. These are the guys who are content to sit back and wait, and might even joke about trying to spot you with Binoculars when you reach the top. They either have better things to do, or just lack the ambition to move forward in the first place. We're going to call these the Quitters.

Now moving past the quitters, we come to those who are willing to head out, up the trail, and watch as it moves from flat, to gentle slope, to switchbacks. After about an hour of this, and about a thousand feet above the quitters, there is a beautiful clearing in the middle of the line where the pines stop and the high desert scrub begins. Way up on the side of the Rim, there is this rock outcropping, that is just about perfect bench height on the uphill side of the trail. This is where we come to our second group of people. These guys have just lugged up the trail, they've crossed three of our marked trails now, and are just about to be led to the beginning of an unmarked trail that leads straight up. The rock bench is cool in the morning, and sitting down and taking off a heavy daypack provides them with a cool breeze across their sweat-damp backs. This is where some of the groups is always ready to sit, and wait for the rest to finish the hike and come back for them. This group, we'll call the Campers. The campers feel like they've made their effort, but now that they've achieved something, they're content.

The Campers are contrasted by the final group. The group that won't stop for anything. This is the group that, although they can feel the trail getting steeper, they are willing to go for the top, no matter what. This group, we usually have to warn at this point, because they are going to cross the line from hiking to scrambling, and then again from scrambling to climbing. And in such, they are called the Climbers. The climbers are ready to cling to the side of the short ridge, dodging the 2 surprise cactus (the true desert dwellers say the multiple of cactus as cactus, not cacti. We're not sorry for it either.) hiding right where a perfect handhold should be, and turning straight up to climb a rough natural ladder of rock the final 60 feet to the peak. 

This is our final resting place every week, a place where those who are willing to keep going, to make the climb, are rewarded with views that far exceed those from here, on Inspiration point, and even those from the rock bench halfway up the Peak. 

And as spectacular as those views are, as great the reward, we have to take the opportunity to reflect on what the similarities are to our Christian Lives. 

We have all known someone that fit into each of these categories, and probably, have fit into each one ourselves. I know what it's like to be the Quitter. To be perfectly content with the title of Christian, to watch the others from afar, and even admire their tenacity. To be ok with doing nothing, and to call it a walk of faith. 

I also know what it's like to be the Camper. To step forward a bit, to make some movement towards the goal, to find a place that is comfortable, a new level of faith but still a level of comfort, and to sit there. To camp out half way between being an active Christian, and a quitter.

The real goal, however is to be the Climber. Not to simply be willing to keep going if the trail becomes harder, but to keep going when we are far beyond our comfort zone. This isn't an easy task, or an easy place to be. It's the willingness to be there that makes it an adventure, and not just a daunting task. 

That's my hope and prayer for you this week; that you would take that next step forward, both in your personal growth, and in your faith. Keep moving. Keep climbing.

Now, I don't remember how I ended the lesson all those years ago, and the notes are long since gone, but that's my prayer for us as we move forward in this journey to adoption. We've already passed on being Quitters. We took a big step forward in even considering this adoption in this time frame. We've also moved past a comfortable camping spot or two on our way. I can't tell you how many times we have already come to a place that would have been an easy place to stop and say "well, we tried, and look how far we got."

I pray that we would be Climbers. That we would be willing to continue down this road, no matter the challenges; that we would be up for anything that brought us closer to God, and closer to this little one.

It's not a perfect analogy, and so few of mine are. Thank you for your words of encouragement, your love, and your prayers as we move forward.

Your excitement is contagious, your words are encouragement, your love is felt.

I hope that when all is said and done, that we can say we did everything we could.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;  -2 Timothy 4:7