Monday, August 18, 2014

I work with rockstars

Last week Christian Adoption Consultants' directors were in town and the Kansas City clan of CAC all gathered together. We spent hours dreaming, praying, and working together to better serve our adoptive families. 

Malcolm, Randy, Angela, Susan, Katie, Tracie, and Amy

Malcolm and Amy, after adopting their first daughter, launched Christian Adoption Consultants with a desire to help other families adopt with a Christ-centered approach. Since starting CAC in 2005, they adopted two other children domestically and are in the process of adopting from Ecuador.

Randy and I have history together at Hannah's Dream. And he and his wife Kelsey also have adoption woven through the fabric of their family with four biological children and five adopted, all with the help of CAC. Randy is an author, speaker, and blogger and works as CAC's marketing director.

Angela and I also worked together at Hannah's Dream. Angela has an amazing perspective on adoption as an adoptee, a birth mother, and an adoptive mama. She's heading up our International Adoption Program launching soon.

Katie joined our team after brining home her youngest through CAC.  Katie and her family have a passion to see the church care for children and embrace adoption and has a special gift of encouraging families on their journey.

Tracie taught me the ropes of being an Adoption Consultant. She and John have three biological kids and have adopted four more (two domestically and two from the Ukraine).  They have an incredible heartbeat for children and especially for finding those with special needs special homes.

Just today I had a chance to finally meet Dawn and Jason, our husband and wife consultant team out of Florida. The KC CAC clan met up with them on their way home from a road trip vacation.  We gathered with them and their nine adopted kiddos at a local park and had a blast. Between all of us we had 21 kids running through the park together.

Randy, Susan, Tracie, Angela, Jason, and Dawn

And that's just a handful of our team (and our kids)! You can read more here about others at Christian Adoption Consultants that God has knit together through their own adoption stories to serve others in theirs.

Only half of all the kiddos today...

These are the people I am blessed to work with. Each one is incredibly gifted and talented. But more than that, they share a passion for adoption, a passion for people, and a passion for God's call to care for the orphan. They are willing to step into the hard places; the bittersweetness of adoption and not just walk alongside families, but live it with them.

Want a glimpse into my work week the last few days?
  • Five families were chosen by expectant parents to raise their little ones,
  • Two families traveled to meet their expectant mamas for the first time,
  • Three babies were born into their forever families,
  • And swapping dozens of stories with the rest of the team that shares a heart for families and adoption

Euguene Peterson, in his book Leap Over a Wall, describes work this way: "Our work is derivative from God the worker...Work is the primary context for our spirituality...The spiritual life begins - seriously begins - when we get a job and go to work. Work is our Spirit-annointed participation in God's work."  

It's amazing to be a part of a team whose heartbeat is to equip families to live out their call to adoption and participate in God's work. We often say amongst each other, "We don't have to do this, we get to do this!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

wherever your feet are

I've written about multi-tasking and mothering before and how awesome I am at doing a million things at once. I can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, referee the fight between the kids using only "the look," and answer the door for the plumber all with a phone up to my ear on a conference call. My life as a mama blessed to work from home is filled with juggling balancing children and car pools and conference calls and chaos. 

The summer is a tricky thing for our family. How do I continue to work and balance kiddos who are out of school? We've found a pretty fantastic solution: the kids attend a summer camp program three days a week and the other two days are "Mommy Days." It's a great gig: the kids have a chance to have some structure, friendships, and adventure while I work and then we get the benefit of those lazy summer days to sleep in, head to the pool, and spend special time together.

But like so many other things in my life, God continues to patiently teach me over and over and over again and remind me of what I too often forget. Those lessons I tend to forget on what really matters, eternal perspective, and what real, sacrificial love looks like.

Because if I'm honest, even though I feel like I have the best of both worlds: being a mama to two amazing kids and working in adoption which makes my heart come alive, it's hard for me to be fully present where I'm at. I struggle to not check my email during a game with my kids or a family movie. And it's hard to sit down when my to do list is lingering.

I could come up with great reasons why I need to be doing multiple things at once: The kids are getting older and can do so much for themselves. There are babies that need families and urgent things I need to attend to. But no matter how big my kids get and how many babies need families, my kids need ME. They need me fully present and engaged in their world and their life. They need me to look in their eyes and listen to their stories and hug their necks. 

It turns out I am not awesome and doing a million things at once. Shepherding hearts takes engagement. Building relationships takes intentionality. Sacrificial love takes focus. All impossible to do if my heart is a million places.

The other day, it was like God whispered to my heart, "Be where your feet are."

So often as the day stretches before me, there is so much to do and I feel like I'm going dozens of directions. It's hard for my head and my heart to focus on just one thing while there's so much to attend to swirling around me.

But I can be where my feet are. When Isabelle tells me about her day and the drama that goes along with being an 8 year old girl, I can look in her eyes and listen to her words and tell her she's amazing. When Jackson asks to toss the ball back and forth or asks me to shoot hoops with him or hugs me for the millionth time that day, I can set aside my chores and run and play with my boy.

There's something about being fully in the moment, being "all there," that allows me not to miss a thing. The way Isabelle scrunches up her nose when she laughs. Jackson's eyes that dance when telling me a good story. Hearing Bella's heart after we turn out her light and I bless her. Sharing Jack's discovery of a cicada shell or lightning bug in the backyard.

Will there still be days that I'm balancing making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and conference calls? Absolutely. Or times I shoot a text to one of my clients while at the park? I'm sure of it. But I've determined to be where my feet are. My conference calls will be scheduled around my mommy days. My emails can be sent after bedtime stories. When I'm playing a game with my kids on the floor of our living room, my phone will be parked on the table in the kitchen. When we head to the pool, I won't be poolside; I'll be the mom screaming down the water slide.

And of course this extends from my parenting and into my marriage and friendships. When Jamy and I catch up on our day he will have all my attention. Across the table at a restaurant with my friend my phone will be tucked away in my bag.

When I'm all there; listening to the stories, playing the games, cherishing the hugs, and looking into their eyes, my heart is fully present too. Able to slow down to notice. Able to be grateful for what's been given. Able to connect and build true relationships as a mother, a wife, and a friend. Able to see the beauty all around me.

Amidst the chaos and the conference calls and the car pools...

I will be where my feet are.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

congratulations Todd and Amanda

From the time Todd and Amanda first met years ago, they talked and dreamed of having a family. Their hopes and dreams of becoming parents and raising a family didn't come as easily as they had planned though. 

Todd and Amanda were foster parents for a brief time and had the opportunity to have two amazing little girls in their home. This time shaped their hearts. Although they found fostering to be very rewarding, it was temporary and they knew their hearts desired to be permanent parents. The time they shared with these girls encouraged them to continue to dream of creating their forever family and to pursue adoption.

Todd and Amanda started the adoption process and were home study approved last year but didn't begin with Christian Adoption Consultants until the end of March.  Just five days after they began with me, I emailed them with a situation: an expectant mom due with a baby boy who needed an adoptive family.

And just like that, after years of praying for a little one to be in their home forever, they were chosen to be parents. The next few months were full of getting to know the brave woman carrying this sweet boy; even visiting her and seeing his face for the first time on an ultrasound. Preparing a nursery and preparing their hearts to bring him home.

Last week, their son was born. This week, they brought him home. This is one of their first family photos. Amanda texted me last Friday "[he] is forever ours! We feel complete..."  

Congrats to all three of you and your forever family...

Monday, August 4, 2014

this is you

Sometimes God drops a bomb on you. You know the kind: the one where Jesus drop kicks you when you're minding your own business...

Stacey shared these words this morning and I had one of those moments over my Mac and Soy Chai Latte. 

Tim and Stacey had one of those crazy-hard-wonderful adoption stories. Walking with them was an honor. And hearing these words from Stacey made them even more meaningful. Read how God used her almost 2 year old, her town house, and a kiddie pool to catch a glimpse of perspective and grace.

Norah loves water. the sprinkler, the bathtub, the pool, the toilet (wait what?)... she loves it all.

A few weeks ago we had plans to go swimming at my aunt and uncle's pool, so I spent the morning rushing around getting ready. we're finally ready and I'm trying to urge norah out the door with my arms full of diaper bag and sunscreen and snacks and floaties when I say, "Come on, time to go! We're going to the pool!"

She freezes, then turns and runs to the back door shouting "pool! pool! pool!" Her little blue plastic kiddie pool is on our patio, and she is f r e a k i n g out with excitement.

She's confused. she heard "pool," and thought I meant that pool, the tiny one on our back patio. what I meant was to get in the car so we can drive to my aunt and uncle's pool, an amazing new pool with a kiddie area, with a splash pad and buckets that dump water, plus a playground! sure, the kiddie pool is fun. but! the big pool! It will take 30 minutes to drive across town to get there, but it's worth it because I know she will enjoy the big pool and seeing her aunt and grandma so much more.

I tell her no, we need to get in the car and the you-know-what hits the fan. MAJOR DRAMA. She's thrown herself face down into the carpet in utter devastation that mama said "pool" but NOW SHE'S NOT LETTING ME IN THE POOL AND MY LIFE IS DEFINITELY OVER.

So I'm juggling bags and buckling this little ball of negative emotions into her car seat, getting frustrated at the ridiculousness of the whole situation when I suddenly have the thought...

This is you.


You have all these plans for your life, ideas of how you think things should go. you think it would be better for you if these certain things happen at these certain times, and when it doesn't happen, you get angry and throw yourself on the carpet and cry and scream. you want the little blue plastic kiddie pool, but you have no idea what I have planned instead. all you can see is what's right in front of you. You have no idea.

Two years ago we decided it was time to think about moving, so we put our town home on the market. I didn't think we would still be here. especially because four months ago we finally got an offer and a contract on our home, so we started house shopping and getting excited and making plans and daydreaming about a new home for our little family... then it didn't happen. It all fell through, so we're still here.

I'm also reminded of several years ago when we decided to start our family, something I thought would be easy. It wasn't. I had plans for how that would go, and none of them happened. Thankfully. Because otherwise we wouldn't have Norah. 

So when I want to kick and scream because our home hasn't sold and we can't move, I remember how I saw myself in the tear-streaked face of my toddler as I buckled her into her car seat that day. She didn't know I meant what I said, that we really were going to the pool and that it was going to be a million times better than her blue plastic pool in our backyard.

How could I be frustrated with her, when I act the same way?

I buckled her in and said, "I'm sorry that you're sad. mommy gets sad too when I don't get what I think I want. we are going to the swimming pool, but right now we need to wait and be patient. I love you."

So for now, we wait and be patient and loosen our grip on our blue plastic kiddie pool.

For more of Tim and Stacey's adoption and their adventures, click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

congratulations Clayton and Mica

Pictures like these are often the result of years of prayers...

But pictures like these only share a glimpse of the beautiful story God creates when he makes a family.

Clayton and Mica have long been praying for this sweet little girl. They have three boys here with them on earth and one beautiful daughter in heaven and felt called to add another girl to their family through adoption. Although they had been home study ready for a year, they hadn't contacted Christian Adoption Consultants until this past April. Two months later, they were chosen by a brave and beautiful expectant mother to be adoptive parents to her little one. And just last week they welcomed their daughter into their family.

This picture doesn't tell you how well they have loved their daughter's birth mother. How they have cried and laughed with her. How they have shared Jesus with her. And how they have begun a relationship with her that honors their daughter's beautiful beginnings and her bright future.

This picture doesn't tell you that this sweet baby, who they named Faith, was born nine years and one day after their daughter Grace passed away. Mica shared with me today that this timing was like God whispering to her "sorrow lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning." The day after Faith was born, Mica's grandmother, who shared a very close relationship with her, passed away. This weekend she will be buried next to Grace.

Mica shared, "I will be able to look at the loss of death and truly remember hope of life as I think of my precious Faith.  Oh how God is good!  Life is messy but if we hold on to Jesus it will be beautiful!"  

Some pictures are worth a thousand words. But these pictures are just the beginning of an amazing story of answers to a family's prayers, a birth mother's hopes and dreams for her daughter, and the faithfulness of a good and gracious God to all of them...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

congratulations Jarrod and Amanda

There are times when words don't even come close to the telling of God's miracles. There are times when the details of stories are only known in the quiet shared by husband and wife, in the sacred space of weeping with a birth family at the bittersweetness of adoption, and the realization of years of answered prayers.

Jarrod and Amanda have just such a story of God's miracles. One that is hard to recount all of the details without sharing too much. But in an effort to share the miracle and give God glory for his faithful, loving kindness, here's a glimpse into how God made a husband and wife a daddy and mommy and a little girl a daughter...

Jarrod and Amanda created this video to share with their friends and church family about their adoption, what the process looks like, and what God started to teach them, even at the very beginning of the process.

As soon as Jarrod and Amanda felt God tell them adoption was the way to grow their family, they dove right in. Last September, they started with me at Christian Adoption Consultants and began their home study. In February their home study was finalized and several weeks later Jarrod and Amanda were generously gifted with a vacation. We joked that maybe it was a "babymoon," their last vacation as a family of two. And several days into the trip, I was trying frantically to get a hold of them. I'll let Amanda tell the story from here...

I saw the most beautiful email that I may ever receive. It was from our adoption consultant, Susan, and the subject line simply said “CALL ME!!!!!"

Thanks to the free calls to the US from our room, I quickly dialed Susan’s number and screamed to Jarrod to come close. She happily answered her phone and said said, “I have good news! YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN!”

The tears instantly started. I couldn’t breath. I got chills. We were stunned. WE WERE CHOSEN.

Before Jarrod and I left, we chose to present to a birth mother whose situation stood out to us very uniquely. We were both 100% in agreement and felt so right about it. So we said yes and shipped out our profile before we left. We didn’t know the exact date that the agency would be presenting to this sweet mom, but we knew it would be while we were gone. We received an email over the weekend that Wednesday was the day. Thankful that I had something to distract me from thinking too much about the presentation of our profile, we prayed over the situation and continued to focus solely on our getaway and time together.

And then the agency presented to this sweet mom on Tuesday and, from what we know, she immediately saw our profile and fell in love. So much so that she didn’t even want to see any other profiles… Oh my goodness. Even now, I can barely keep the tears from coming. Someone chose us.

She chose us.

Jarrod and I were shocked and overjoyed. I can’t even put into words the emotions that immediately flooded our hearts.

We had hoped for this.

We had prayed for this.

We had prayed for this exact situation: that this would be our birth mama. That this would be our baby.

Praise the Lord. She chose us.

And then Susan said the words that are forever melted in my heart. In a way that made me feel ownership as the parents of this baby. Susan said, “And…you’re having a girl.”

We’re having a baby girl.

We have a daughter.

That phone call was months ago now. Since then Jarrod and Amanda have navigated a complex journey. One of a crazy roller coaster that even now Jarrod and Amanda shake their heads at. The twists and turns, the unexpected events, and the laughter and tears seemed too much at times.

But through it all, I've watched Jarrod and Amanda's faith never waver.

I've watched them love big even when it was risky and vulnerable and hard.

I've prayed with them for the health of their sweet girl and for God's perfect timing and sovereignty.

And I've celebrated with them as they've welcomed their daughter home.

Months ago, Amanda shared this: God has blessed us with what feels like, in this moment, such a rare journey that so few people get to personally experience the beauty of...Every day, even in the fearful moments, I remind myself that God has chosen this awkward, yet beautiful path for our family. And truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

And just last night, Amanda wrote this to me: When I think about all the details God has worked out in this adoption that seemed so impossible in the beginning (a list [that] could go on and on)...It's so insane and just screams of God's involvement and intervention!...For now we will stand amazement of our awesome God...I'm so excited to share our journey with others in prayer that he uses it to inspire others on this path.

In the end, Jarrod and Amanda were chosen. They were chosen by two brave birth parents who wanted to give a good life to their daughter.

But more than that, they were chosen by God to be parents to their sweet daughter.

For more of their story, the amazing details, and to follow what God will do next, check out Amanda's blog, Adding to Us.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

congratulations Justin and Dusti

Justin and Dusti started with Christian Adoption Consultants in March. They had started their adoption journey almost a year before then with their home study, but after waiting for months, needed a new direction. After much research, discussion, and prayer, they decided to work with me.

This special couple knew they had been called to grow their family though adoption. Even after the months of waiting, they had a fervency and passion for adoption and were committed to the process. Justin and Dusti have a dream of having a large family and knew if God had called them to it, he would be faithful to make it happen.

Just three weeks after starting with Christian Adoption Consultants, they were matched. There was an expectant couple looking for a family with a strong faith and a love for family: Justin and Dusti were chosen to raise their little one.

And this past week their daughter was born. A beautiful, strong girl who is an answer to prayers prayed in the dark and the perfect addition to their growing family.

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