Saturday, March 28, 2015

God's Promise: Part Two

Something happened a couple of weeks ago.  To be honest, I'm not even sure I told Jesse about it.  I was in the guest room (I have been SO careful for months, NOT to call it Izzie's room) where Izzie stays, giving her her last feeding and reading her a story when I stopped and looked at her face.  And instantly, out of nowhere and without any kind of will or purpose on my part, I saw her as a young girl.  Maybe 5 or 6, and she was sitting in her bed, afraid of a bad dream she'd had, and Jesse and I had come in to talk with her and pray with her.

The vision came in a flash, and left as quick as it had come.  And then I just sat there and stared at her big eyes, in total disbelief.  And I shed a few extra tears over her that night as I wondered what in the WORLD that had all been about.  I remember telling my closest friend about it the next day and asking her what it was supposed to mean.  Had God finally given me the promise that I had been waiting for.  Searching for.  Hoping for.  That Isobel was going to be our forever daughter?

I still wasn't sure.

And so yesterday.  As I sat fidgeting in the waiting room of the Fingerprint Board, anxiously awaiting my final hearing that would determine if my clearance would be granted.  I wondered for the trillionth time what God had up His sleeve and where all of this was going and what all of these tiny thoughts and visions I'd been having for the past 6 months were really all about.  And I knew there could be a miracle, but I was so careful not to expect one.  And so as I was prepared for another long drawn out session of questioning, explanation, tears, and candid conversation about my less-than-perfect-past, I gripped Jesse's hand maybe tighter than I ever had before and followed the board member into the hearing room.  No sooner had we sat down and stated our names for the record than one of the board members read the motion to grant my clearance, when two other members seconded the motion simultaneously, and the remaining three members agreed.  "Congratulations. Your clearance has been granted.  Have a nice day."  I choked back tears and tried to get out a "thank you" as my head and my heart just swam with total confusion and disbelief.  And as we made our way out into the hallway, I burst into tears on Jesse's shoulder.  I know there are just so many of you who may be reading this wondering what in the world all of these extra legal steps and this special need for a Fingerprint Clearance appeal are all about-- and I also know there are many of you who were there eight years ago and you watched as I crashed and burned and you also watched as God worked His huge, crazy, miraculous power to redeem my life and bring me back to Him.  For those who don't know-- please.  Ask me to coffee sometime.  I would LOVE to tell you more.  It's not a simple story but it's an encouraging and miraculous one about how God can take the ugliest of ugly and turn it into something powerful and beautiful.  And for those who do know?  I know that you know what all of this means to me.  We were told weeks ago that I didn't need the clearance for state certification.  That having it would be a good thing, but wasn't necessary.  But to sit in front of a legal panel and literally receive a pardon.  Eight years later.  I have a really hard time explaining with words what that does for my heart and for the enormous emotional price that my past mistakes and now embarking on this adoption journey has cost me.  There were two nights in the last 6 months that I remember in particular-- where it almost did me in.  I almost quit.  I almost called Jesse and told him that I simply could not do this.  That going back to that time and digging up all of the old wounds that I had worked so very hard to allow the Lord to heal, that it was all too much.  Nothing could be worth this pain.  But if you were there those years ago, and you remember?  Then you will know.  And just like me-- you will be in total and complete awe of our God.

We spent our late morning and early afternoon eating doughnuts and doting on Isobel.  The outcome of the morning had given us hope, but still a cautious hope nonetheless.  And so when I was out running a couple of errands in the late afternoon and saw a number pop up on my phone that I didn't recognize, I let it go to voicemail.  I RARELY do that, given our current situation, but if it was something important, I wanted to be out of public and at least in my car.  Plus, I knew that our social worker was out sick so I was pretty sure it wasn't anyone from the agency.  And so a couple of hours later on my way home I decided to check my voicemail.  Well.  My mom will be the first to tell you that I NEVER check my voicemails (c'mon people, that's what texts are for!!!!!) and so it took me a few miles driving to remember what my voicemail pin number was.  By the time I'd figured out what it was, I was sitting in my driveway at home.  I knew Izzie might be sleeping so I decided to go ahead and listen to the message before I pressed the garage door and released the hounds.  As I scrolled through the six old voicemails that were on there (sorry mom and Rachel!!!), I finally got to the one that I had come through at three.

"Hi Becky, this is Terri from Christian Family Care Agency.  If you could go ahead and call me back that would be great.  This is my office number and this is my cell if you get this after four o'clock.  thanks, bye."

And my heart.  it STOPPED.

We weren't expecting a decision on certification until early May at the EARLIEST.  Something had to be terribly wrong.  And this was it.  This was the agency calling and saying that our certification was being held up, that something had been questioned or denied, and we needed to surrender Isobel to the agency.

I felt.  I felt like.  I don't know what I felt like.  Like everything had stopped, like the ground was pulled out from beneath me, like I was going to throw up....

And I should have opened the garage door and gone in the house and called her back, but with trembling hands and breathing that was pretty close to hyperventilating, I dialed her cell number and called her back.

"Hi, Terri, this is Becky Brimhall. "

"Hi, Becky, how are you!?"

"Um, well,  I don't know Terri, is everything okay??"

"Well, we wanted to send you into the weekend with some good news.  Our whole office wanted to be a part of this call, but we wanted to let you know your certification came through from the state today!"


"We feel the exact same way, Becky!"

And so I THINK I remembered to turn off the car as she hung up with me and I whammed my head into the garage door which hadn't quite finished coming up yet and I burst in the door and said


And Jesse quickly stood up from where he was feeding Isobel and he asked what was wrong.  He wondered if I had run over someone's dog or what in the world had happened.

And so when I finally choked out what had just happened, and then repeated myself when he looked at me blankly and said "what????"  He came to me and the three of us stood in the most ridiculous of embraces with my mascara going EVERYWHERE.  In fact.  I'm pretty sure Isobel was grunting from all of the squeezing that was going on.

And Jesse just said, "she's ours?  she's ours?  she's OURS."

I can't.  I just.  even now.  I can't really put into words what happened in my heart during these moments.

I've heard the question asked about if there were any days.  any moments.  That you could go back and re-live, do again...what would they be?

Friends.  THIS.  would be mine.

It's been just over 24 hours and I'm still sitting here and feel like my brain and my heart are outside of my body.  Everytime I've looked at Isobel today, I've burst into tears.

It's like I'm seeing her for the first time.

For three years, God had called us to a season of grief.  To a season of great loss, despair, and seemingly neverending tears and pain. And we have failed to walk that perfectly but we have tried so very hard to honor God in the midst of it all.

but this?  This is our season to dance.  To rejoice.  

I am 100% here to tell you right here and now that there is absolutely no way that any of this could have happened without the divine hand of God. 

6 months ago we got a call.  That there was a girl.  Who had just told her mother the night before that she was pregnant.  And due in 8 short weeks.  And that she wanted to place her baby for adoption with a Christian family but had not looked into it or talked to anyone about how to do it yet.  And her mom made a call to a friend.  And that friend made a call to  her daughter-in-law.  And her daughter-in-law made a call to me.  And she didn't even know that one week prior Jesse and I had printed our initial adoption application paperwork.  And we met the next day with our mentors and parents and asked if we were crazy.  And we prayed.  And we expected nothing.   And this gal hadn't even talked to us.  Or met us.  And her boyfriend was a little unsure.  And we weren't certified. And the agency didn't even know if given my past, we could even be certified.  And we did NOT have a spare ten thousand dollars saved up for immediate adoption fees.  And we didn't have a clue.  And we didn't have a plan.  And we sure as heck didn't have a crib or a car seat or a single piece of baby paraphenelia to our names.  But the meetings happened.  And we filled out a mountain of paperwork.  And we talked to the birth mom.  And waited.  And she told us she wanted to place her baby with us.  And we told her of these huge giant impossible legal hurdles we were facing.  And we almost walked away.  And we waited some more.  And then we got a call.  And we went to a hospital two hours away.  And we had none of our people or our family member with us.  And we met the most incredible, perfect, tiny, baby girl.  And we waited some more . And then.  We brought her home.  And we filled our more paperwork.  And we had four home visits over two weeks with our social worker.  and we waited some more.  And i worked on months and months worth of paperwork.  And we started to fall in love.  And we settled in.  And we waited some more.  And some more.  And we borrowed any baby things anyone would give us.  And people brought gifts.  Swings and clothes and bathtubs and blankets.  and we settled in.  And then.  6 months later.  we find ourselves here.

three years.  three babies born into heaven.  a lot of money paid into failed fertility treatments.

And God.  He dropped us a daughter.  from the sky.  Into our laps.  like it was nothing.

Immeasurably more than we could ever in our wildest, craziest dreams, ask for or make up from our most creative imaginations.

Today, we rejoice.  Join us, please.

Our God moves mountains.

3 months and wearing the outfit her birth mom gave her <3

Jesse, giving Izzie her 7 am bottle...

Our Rainbow after the storm

Taken give minutes after we got the is gone and Isobel is a little tired of being SQUEEZED.  <3

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More Than Grief

I've been dodging the question for weeks.  Actually months.

"So, when are we going to have a shower??!!  When are you going to register??!"

And as much as I dread the question because quite honestly-- I'm running out of responses (...or is it excuses..?)-- my heart is so touched every time someone asks.  I love how God has given His people so much love for this little girl.  How He has laid it on their hearts to provide for her in these huge and small and specific ways.  Just this week, someone dropped off a giant box of diapers, a huge can of formula, a quilt, a stuffed animal, and the cutest clothes and headbands you've ever seen.  They were all gifts that had been sitting at church for us the past few weeks, all from different people.  What???  Seriously.  People have been so generous, so thoughtful, and so downright excited.  And to me, that's what that question represents.  A heart that has ached for us.  That has waited for us.  To have our turn at the fun stuff.  It's tough for me to find the words to really explain how loved that makes me feel.  Truly.

But when it was asked to me most recently by my BFF and her mom, it was different.  And as we sat in the car and talked about whether to shower or not shower (baby shower, that is), my friends mom put it in a way that I hadn't previously considered.

And she asked my why I didn't want to put one on the calendar.  Was it because I was afraid?  Was it because I was in denial?  Because really what it came down to was this question-- What has God given me?  What has He given me about Isobel and her time and place in our family?  Has He shown me, literally given me a promise, directly from His heart to mine that she will be ours forever?  Or has He just asked me to trust Him day by day, and nothing more for now?

She asked me that a week and a half ago and I have not stopped thinking about it since.

Actually?  I've been agonizing over it.  Has God been trying to show me something?  To give me a promise?  It may not be a dry piece of fleece lay out on a rainy day, but is there something that He's tried to give me, from His heart to mine?  Is it possible that maybe He's been trying to but I've been too crippled by grief and fear to listen to it?  To take it?

Ten days later and I still don't know. 

And as I sat tonight, rocking Isobel to sleep, the tears began to fall, as they do on so many nights.  Because she's eleven pounds of miracle, snoring away in my arms and I know this sounds nuts, but so much of the time, I still can't believe she's real.  Because I knew that God could still grant us the desire of our hearts and give us a child, that He could heal the hurt and restore joy.  But I had no idea it would come like this.  Maybe 3 or 4 or 5 years from now after thousands of dollars worth of fertility treatments and a whole lot of anxiety.  But to come like this.  Practically overnight.  Door, after door, after door, swung wide open.  Obstacle after obstacle after obstacle just smashed to bits.  Mountain after mountain after mountain-- moved.  And as I sat tonight with her, praying that God would protect her as she sleeps tonight, and that she would grow up to be a woman who loves the Lord and loves people, I began to pray for something else.  I began to pray that God would let us be her forever parents. 

(crickets, crickets, crickets)

And I'm sure you're thinking-- what the heck??  Haven't you been praying for that all along???

I have to be honest and say that I really haven't.  I've tried so hard to accept that this journey might end in the biggest heartbreak of my existence.  I've tried so hard remind myself that God gives but He also takes away.  I've tried so hard to recall that we are not called to a life of comfort or of happiness but of suffering for the cause of Christ.  That obedience is costly.  And that He asked Jesse and I to take this leap, but He never guaranteed that what lay ahead would be easy or would feel good.

And while all of those things are true, and I'm grateful that the Lord has ingrained them so deeply in my mind.  That isn't all that there is.

Grief.  Isn't all that there is.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17
Ecclesiastes 3: There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

There is also laughing.  And dancing.  And healing.  And good gifts.  And when I think about the picture that Jesse sent me today of Izzie with her headband fallen down over her face, or the ten minute "conversation" I had with her before bedtime tonight-- I know that these things are also true. These past 11 weeks may not have been a time of sleeping (;-), but they have been a time of laughter. And of healing.  And of great great joy.  

And so while I'm still trying to be quiet and to listen and to figure out if God is offering me a promise of what is to come, until He makes that known to me one way or the other-- until then, I still have the gift of another day with this little girl.  And for now it may not be enough to get that Amazon registry going or to plan a party day (believe me-- we want to have a BIG one!) just yet.  But it's more than I need.

Today I choose joy.  And I choose hope.  I choose to boldly ask that we would be allowed to be Isobel's forever parents.  And I choose to remember that as much as God asks us to do really really hard things and to sacrifice some of the things that we hold most dear, He also has ordained a time for healing and restoration and He loves to show up in big ways and give us big things that we don't deserve.

John 1:16 "From the fullness of His grace we have received one blessing after another."

Monday, March 2, 2015

One more interesting week down. 

This week has been a busy one, full of all sorts of fun chores, work drama, and fun with Izzie. 

It has always been our intention to keep this blog updated, to show you how our process is going, how our family is doing, and of course, what you really want to know, is how cute Izzie has been lately. Tonight, I'm going to try to touch on all of those, before she wakes up. 

Our classes have gone very well, and we have learned a lot. We have our last class tomorrow (Tuesday) night, and I have to tell you, the classes have been an emotional time for us. Most of the class  topics are in preparing potential adoptive families for the ins and outs of adoption, placement, the potential relationship with birth parents, birth families, and explaining adoption to friends and family along the way.

We have had the unique position of coming into this class, with some experience, a lot of understanding of the potential complications, and to be honest, all of our expectations have been pretty well broken. We have had an ability to really relate to a lot of the guest speakers in the class, as they explain the journey that they have taken, be it as adoptive parents, or even as birth parents and how their stories show the potential outcome for our birth mom. All in all, things have gone very very well. 

We have had the typical new-parent lack of sleep that so many people know so well. I would say that if you asked me at 4:30 this morning how things were going with Izzie, I probably would not have responded favorably. She honestly, is doing well. She has gotten to being smiley, and cooing at us, which balances out the fussy time between first and second dinners and right before bed. Babies really are like Hobbits, in that they insist on having first and second breakfasts, pre lunch, lunch, pre dinner, dinner, and several snacks throughout the night. Life is an ongoing Thanksgiving Day for them as far as meals are concerned. In some ways it makes me envious. In others, just tired.

Becky and I are also starting our third week of clean eating, again. We did this once before, and were, in fact, a week or two in when we first heard about Izzie, back in October. What has changed, is that after two months of grabbing whatever we could to eat whenever we could, we decided it was time to reset a bit, and get back into a habit of eating well. This has not been easy, because now we are trying to grab whatever we can, as long as it has no additives, or sugar, or grains, or anything besides just the food it is supposed to be. I have to be very honest and say that every mention of the word "we" in this paragraph has actually referred to Becky primarily, and me secondarily. Becky decided to try clean eating again, and now I have nothing but clean foods in the house. Becky decided to give up sugar and grains and such, and I could really go for a cheeseburger. The last day of this meal plan is the day before St.Patricks Day. There will be much corned beef.

Izzie amazes us daily with how much she has grown. Becky was cleaning and organizing baby clothes this weekend and stumbled upon a onesie that Izzie had worn like a giant bathrobe when we brought her home. Now, putting the same onesie on her would be most likely impossible, and definitely inappropriate for her to leave the house in. She has started being able to wake up and just watch us, without screaming loud enough to wake my extended family back east, although she still does that just to stay in practice. 

Izzie has always had strong legs. Our birth mother, while texting Becky back in November, told her that Izzie had kicked her so hard that she had the wind knocked out of her. This was a month before she was born. Izzie likes to practice said kicking at my stomach and waist while I change her in the middle of the night. We found out this week, that while she is still much to young to balance on her own, she is strong enough to stand up, if we support her leaning. 

Izzie also amazed us yesterday, as she was laying on her play mat, and managed to squirm herself 90 degrees to get a better look at one of the little stuffed animals that hangs above her. Before we know it, she's going to be chasing the dogs around the house with a stick. 

Realistically, we're in love. As the process moves forward, and we continue to wait on the slower aspects of it, we fall more and more for her. She's a treat to be around, Grandparents would agree. 

And we still know that the process is not over and that we have to hold her loosely, as we hold her tightly.

New needs have arisen, and as such, we want to continue to tell you what are needs are. Our birth mother's medical bills have come in, and we need to continue to fundraise to cover those. I have reopened our fundraiser through, and as always, you can also send donations through paypal.  

We have a list of puzzle pieces that still need to be filled out with your names, but we have also decided to put together a facebook. We're talking about a real one, not a website. 

We want to take our puzzle idea a bit further, and put together a book with all of your faces and names in it, a very tangible and very visible list of the people who have helped build our family, have helped bring Izzie home, and have helped us continue to witness to her Birth family… And we want you to be in that book.

We realized through listening to one of the guest speakers in our class last week, that our life, our story, our journey with Izzie is a ministry to not only the birth families and those we work with and who come to know her story, but it is a ministry for those who have been a part of the journey as well. It is one that you have been a part of, reaching out to take care of a little baby girl who was in need. 

Thank you everyone for your part in this story so far. Thank you to those who have given selflessly, to those who have surprised us by telling us how touched they were. Thank you to the families who we have had little interaction with , but have amazed us with their care for us and for Izzie. 

You have done amazing things for our family, and we love you… We could not have come this far without you…

the link to the you caring site is in the sidebar, and the paypal address is