Thursday, February 28, 2008

Adoption Update

I wanted to catch everyone up with the latest on the adoption front. Nathan and I went in this afternoon for our first of two interviews with the adoption organization, and it went really well! The hard part was over as soon as we turned in all of our paper work, so I feel like this portion of the process is a piece of cake comparatively. The most exciting part of today's meeting was getting the chance to meet one of the counselors who works directly with the birth mothers. It was wonderful to hear from her about the ends and outs of what they do for the ladies who come in, because she, more than anyone else, has the hands on contact.

Listening to the counselor reminded me why we have such a peace about the fact that we are adopting through this organization. It is so reassuring to know that the mothers have not been cajoled in any way to choose adoption when parenting is a viable possibility. The "client" at Life Choices is always the mother, and their desire is simply to help provide support for each lady in whatever capacity they can, whether that means helping them make a plan for adoption or preparing them for the adventure of parenting. I love the fact that the birthmother of my future child will choose adoption because it is the right thing for her and the baby, not because her arm was twisted!

Today I walked away from the meeting with an even greater respect for the birthmothers. As I listened to the preparations the ladies make as they work toward making an adoption plan, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love the mothers have for the children they carry. To begin with, choosing life is not the easy option, and the decision to carry the baby for nine months, even in the midst of crisis, shows such strength of character. I was also struck by the love it requires to realize that it is in the best interest of the child in some cases to put him/her up for adoption. What a selfless choice!

I guess in the past I have assumed that a mother who gave her baby up for adoption was too immature or self-centered to be able to face the responsibility of parenting. What a misconception! I'm embarrassed to even say that now that I know just how far from the truth that really is. But that is how far I have come in understanding what adoption is all about. It is really the uniting of two love stories. That is what I want my baby to know all of his life...that his is the story of being doubly loved.

We will have our second interview this Tuesday, and then we will be officially able to adopt. So as of Wednesday, the waiting begins!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Simply Jesus

There’s a lot out there that sounds good to people searching for an answer. And there are a lot of people searching! Whether it is because of a tragedy, financial crisis, illness, or a general disillusionment with this world, once people get to the point where life looks desperate, they want to find something that help them makes sense of things.

I've always heard that a person finds out what’s really inside them once the rubber meets the road, but after having walked through my journey over the past months, this is no longer a cliche. I found out that you can’t hold on to platitudes, traditions, or someone else’s truth to get you through the painful seasons. You have to find what is real.

Enter the greatest controversy of all time: what is truth?

I’m a big believer in KNOWING what you believe and why you believe it—not just parroting off attractive sound bites that you’ve picked up here and there. And the only way for me to be able to do that is to go to the source of everything that I believe to be truth: the Bible. I believe that it is entirely true, beginning to end. Both the portions that fit well into today’s society and the ones that lack a certain politically correct sensitivity. I believe it is all the word of God.

So I’ve read the Bible, and I’ve tried to unpack the message it contains. There is so much that I will never even scratch the surface of, but one thing that I can't miss is Jesus. The Bible is the story of His love for us, shown ultimately through the gift of salvation. The entire book, beginning to end tells me that the answer to life is simply Jesus.

Colossians 1:13-14 says “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Nothing I do (i.e. all of the “good stuff” I try to do or achieve) is ever going to rescue me from the domain of darkness mentioned in these verses. It is Jesus, and Jesus only that can do that!! Verses 19-20 say “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

Paul goes on to say in the next chapter that we ought to strive to understand everything about God’s greatest mystery, which is Jesus! He knew that we have to hold on to the truth found in Jesus “so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” He nailed it.

The very same persuasive arguments he warned about have encircled our culture today in a python like death grip, making it difficult to differentiate God’s truth from the “truth” that has been created to custom fit our society. So much out there tickles the ear and sounds so good that it doesn’t seem possible it could be wrong. The only problem with all of this is that Jesus is not part of the answer. He is the entire answer. Never has that been clearer to me than it is today.

I don’t know what the rest of my life holds for me, but I know that it has already thrown me some curve balls I wasn’t expecting. The loss I've experienced has caused me to reevaluate everything that I've ever thought to be true. And what I have discovered is that Jesus is enough. I don't need the other "fillers" the culture advertises with such success, because like the food at the fair, the attraction ends by the time everything has had a chance to digest. Jesus was enough during the difficult times. He is enough today. He will be enough forever.

Monday, February 18, 2008

stories of faithfulness

***Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who shared their own story here with us. I was so moved. Fresh reminders of God's tenderness and His love even when everything around us is a virtual nightmare, are so beautiful. It's easy to forget sometimes, and that is why I love hearing these testimonies of His faithfulness. If you have something to share and have not done so, please add your story! I will be adding something new tomorrow, but this post will always welcome additions!***

For months I have been receiving emails or letters from people, most of whom I've never met, who have felt compelled to share the story of how God carried them through their darkest season of life. Each time I have gone to my inbox and seen another of these emails waiting to be read, I get excited! I wait until I'm not hurried or rushed so that I can sit down and soak it in each story of God's faithfulness-something that never gets old. Each person who has shared has blessed me because it has given me fresh reason to praise Jesus. The stories are different, yet so very much the same. The details are varied, the situations diverse, but the common theme of faithfulness and love runs through each one.

Many times as I have read these words, penned by the hands of people I will never put a face with, I have wished that everyone could share in the joy of hearing how God is God, no matter the situation, no matter the suffering. He has the ability to make all things beautiful. I have used this blog to share in detail the story of God's faithfulness to me. l would now love to take the chance to ask anyone who feels comfortable doing so, to use the comments portion of this post to share your story. I have learned from experience, you never know who you are going to bless. Don't worry about it being long or short. If you want to share, just write until you have expressed your heart. The Bible tells us to share our burdens with each, but it also tells us to rejoice with each other! What better way than to rejoice with others as you read the individual stories that exemplify the fact that God does not just love us all, but He loves us each.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Application: Done!

Yesterday marked a big day in our adoption process. We turned in our application and paper work!!! I think I’ve told you in the past I’m very competitive, and this aspect of my personality got its chance to shine over the past few weeks (well, 13 days to be precise!). They told us that the time in which we took to get everything together was entirely in our hands, but generally it takes 2-3 months to be completed. I heard that, and I immediately set the goal to get the application, paper work, and profile finished in two weeks. I had no idea if the bar I set was even realistic, but as it turns out, we were able to do it.

We completed the final and least anticipated part of the application yesterday when we went in for our physicals. I am my mother’s child when it comes to the doctor, even though on the outside I’m able to maintain a somewhat tranquil demeanor (in the past my mom has been known to physically resist the nurse trying to draw blood). I didn’t require any outside assistance for remaining still while the needles were inserted (and yes, it was a plural two needles used), but of course it wasn’t something I enjoyed. And to add insult to injury, I found out as we were leaving that the second needle was entirely unnecessary! The nurse had told me that we were going to do a TB skin test because it was easier to do than the chest x-ray. What she failed to mention was that the only person it was easier for was herself! In contrast to the quick and completely painless chest x-ray, the TB test requires inserting a needle into my forearm and then blowing an air bubble. To top it off, I have to show up in 48 hours to get it poked by a nurse to confirm that I do not have TB. Well, as I was relaying all of this to Nathan as we were leaving, he informed me that his doctor just gave him the x-ray. Figures.

Anyway, I am thrilled to have this part of the process complete and out of our hands! The part I mentioned that I was having the most trouble with was the letter to the birth mother. Boiling down our hearts and lives into one little letter was daunting. But, I finally was able to finish (literally just moments before we were walking out the door to turn it in), and I am pleased with the final product. I thought I would share it here.

Dear Birthmother,

Hi! Our names are Angie and Nathan, and before we tell you anything about ourselves, we want you to know how much we respect you for choosing life for your precious baby! We will never fully understand all the sacrifices you have made to carry your child, but we want you to know that we are grateful for them and we will always think of you and the other women who have made the same choice as courageous.

Right now you are in the middle of one of the biggest decisions of your life. Choosing the family who you want to raise the baby that you love is something we know you don’t take lightly! You are the only one who can make that choice, so it is our desire to share a little bit of our lives with you to help you know whether we are the right family for your baby.

Adoption is something that God laid on our hearts right after we got married in May of 2002. We knew we wanted to have several children, and we wanted at least one of those to enter our family through the process of adoption. The only thing we weren’t sure of was the timing. Then, in December of 2007, after our second little girl, Poppy Joy, died after living just three hours on this earth, we realized that God was leading us to pursue adoption now! Poppy’s short but beautiful life showed us so many things, including the fact that we should live life to the fullest, not taking anything for granted. One of the ways we want to do this is by pouring our lives and love into the child we are blessed to adopt.

Now that you know why we want to adopt, we would love to share some of the details of our lives with you. We met right out of high school, and after dating for two years, we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Now, nearly six years later, we can honestly say the time we have spent together has been the greatest of our lives. Nathan is an engineer and has been working for the same wonderful company for seven years. Angie was a middle school reading and English teacher before we had children. However, once Marianna was born, she decided to stay at home with her, and now works part time from home for a non-profit ministry.

The two of us have tried to build our lives and marriage around the foundation of God in our lives. We both love Jesus with our whole hearts, and we realize that everything we have we owe to Him. He has taken care of us, especially over the past six months as we walked the difficult road of letting go of a child, with more care and love than we could have imagined possible. We both recognize that without Jesus at the center of our marriage and our family, everything will crumble and fall apart. That is why it is important for you to know that we will always strive to follow God.

Marianna, who turned two in November, is without doubt our greatest blessing. Being parents has been the best challenge ever! It certainly is not always easy, but the joy it has brought to our lives is something we could never have imagined. If we could use one word to describe Marianna I guess it would have to be “fun.” She loves being silly with her daddy, playing make believe with her dolls, reading books with mommy, and laughing at the games her grandparents play with her. She also is so excited about getting to be a big sister! She knows that she has a sister named Poppy who lives in heaven, but she told us just the other night that she wants a brother or sister who is with her all the time. We told her, “So do we!”

As a family, we enjoy doing as much as we can together. Our time in the evenings when Nathan gets home from work is something we look forward to each night, even if we have nothing more planned than dinner and relaxing together. We also love going to the zoo on the weekends, playing at the park right up the street, and eating breakfast at Starbucks on Saturday mornings. We try to do even the mundane things like grocery shopping together whenever we can. The two of us also love taking every chance we get to play a competitive game of Scrabble!

Another big part of our lives involves doing things with our families, and we are so grateful that both sets of parents live in town. Whether it is playing games or watching sports at Jannie and Smokey’s house (Angie’s parents) or swimming at Captain and Emme’s (Nathan’s parents) we always enjoy being with family. Marianna is the only grandchild in town, and she is always thrilled to go for a visit to either set. She especially loves the fact that her youngest aunt, Breanna, is six years old, making her the perfect playmate! We usually get to see each side of the family at least once each week, and that is something we always look forward to. We are surrounded by love and support, and we are so glad that each and every family member is thrilled about the future child God is going to bring into our home through adoption.

Nathan is easy going, funny, and a wonderful provider for our family. He is slower to anger than almost anyone I’ve ever met, and he is someone I can look up to and admire as a person who is honest and full of integrity. He is fun and competitive, so he loves playing tennis, ping-pong, and just about every church league sport including soccer, basketball and softball. In his free time at home he enjoys playing video games and running around the house with Marianna. He knows how important it is to me that we spend time together, so he always makes it a priority to make sure we have time just for us as well.

Angie loves being with family and friends above everything else. She enjoys opening up her home and having people over for dinner, games, movies, or whatever else! One of her favorite pastimes of late is sewing for Marianna. She usually makes her several outfits for each new season, and she loves teaching others her newly found talent as well. Her other great love is reading. She was a literature minor in college, and reading anything from the classics to modern biographies is what she loves. She no longer teaches in a school setting, but she loves pouring all of those teaching skills into Marianna. The two of them work on letters and numbers, memorizing Bible verses, or learning family connections all throughout the day.

Thank you for giving us this chance to share some of our lives with you. We enjoy everything that God has already blessed us with, but we cannot wait to welcome another child into our lives that we can love and raise. We have been praying for you since we began this process, and we will certainly not stop now! Know that you and the other mothers who have chosen this option for their children are always close to our hearts.
Love, Angie and Nathan

The process isn’t over. We still have two more interviews to go before we are officially finished, but our major part is done, and that makes me very happy!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Mallorie is stable! After a really rough night in the NICU the night I first posted, requesting prayer, she has remained consistently stable. The doctors have removed her from paralysis, and she is now beginning to wake up and move around. She is still in need of prayer, especially when it comes time to take her off the vent, but for now, praise God she is stable! Thank you so much for lifting her up. God is always working, whether it is in the form of a miracle of healing or not. But getting to witness these particular types of miracles is something I will never get tired of.

Several months ago God sent one of His greatest blessings of encouragement to me in the form of a lady from Texas who had a living, thriving little girl with trisomy. She's shy about having her name out, so I won't share that detail, but I want you to know that I have hardly ever come in contact with someone with such a natural gift for saying what I needed to hear on a daily basis. She has prayed for me and each one of the girls in my life going through the same thing, and even though her plate has been more than full with the things going on in her own life, I have known that I can count on her like clock work each and every step of the way.

Mallorie, her youngest daughter, is amazing! She was born with a cleft palate, spina bifida and trisomy, yet she has blown away the doctors by the way she has grown and developed in such a short time. Mallorie turned one on Wednesday. I celebrated with them right here from Memphis, praising God for what He has done in her life. I love that beautiful baby, without ever haven gotten the chance to see her or hold her myself. She has been a tangible sign of God's power. He is the one who holds all life in His hands, and He will not be dictated by a medical diagnosis!

On Thursday, Mallorie went in for a corrective surgery for her palate. She has already undergone one palate surgery very successfully, but several were needed before the work was complete. Yesterday she began experiencing complications. I am not an expert on medical terminology, so I won't try and explain what is going on. All that I really know is that she and her family need prayer right now. I don't know what God's plan is, but I know that He has already used Mallorie to express Himself with an eloquence that words can't match.

I don't know how you have come to find this blog. Maybe you have known me all my life, or maybe we have never met and you simply found out about Poppy through some other means. Regardless of how you have gotten here, you now find yourself to some degree surrounded by the reality of sick babies. My prayer for all of you and for myself is that my heart never closes up and becomes resistant to hearing about even one more precious life. I don't want to fall into the trap of apathy or numbness when it comes to praying for "the least of these." I think it's not possible, but I know it is. I know that I have watched stories on the news or read articles in the paper, and let the mass suffering of the world slide through my mind, absorbed on only the most basic level. I guess it's impossible to fully take on the hurt of the world, but it's not too much to take the time to open your heart and pray for a life that God allows you to come in contact with, whether through a personal encounter or through something like the internet. Please pray for this family today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

an update

I know I write pretty often, but I guess a lot of times the posts are devoid of any factual information about how and where we are right now, just two months out from when Poppy was here with us.

I want to start off by saying, if not for Jesus, I don't know where I would be. But I do have Him, and because of that, I can tell you that I am better than I would have ever dreamed. Emotionally, I feel almost completely healed from the pain and hurt inflicted by Poppy's death; something that I would never have dreamt would be possible after such a short time. It is the sweetness of her time with us that floods over me above everything else, and even though some things are still difficult, the raw, gaping wound has been closed. I am happy. Not just filled with joy, but happy, too! Part of me doesn't want to share this because I feel like it isn't right to have healed so quickly, yet the other part of me realizes that pretending to hold onto a grief that is no longer there would be a slap in God's face. So I will admit it without qualification. I am enjoying life, and it is richer now than it has ever been before.

Some have asked how I am doing physically, and I am happy to report that I am just about all back to normal. Even though my incision will require quite a bit longer to heal, it is the internal wound that takes time. On the outside, I feel great. I even was able to play racquetball today after almost a full year without stepping onto the court. I'm not ready for any marathons, or even a 5K for that matter, but for all the normal day to day things, I would never know I had recently ungergone surgery.

Now for the 'where we are' part. Nathan and I got the chance a week ago today to go to the pregnancy crisis center we are adopting through, to have our first official meeting. We were given our application and the paper work, and we dedcided that we wanted to hit the ground running. I set a goal for us to finish our part of the process in two weeks. That may turn out to be a bit ambitious, but so far I feel like we are on track! I have finished the extensive writing portion of the application, including a 10 page questionnaire and 12 page autobiography, and we have completed over half of the original checklist.

If I was going to sum up the adoption process in one word I would say it is thorough. But even though it can be time consuming, it is something I'm very pleased with because it seems only right that the potential families these babies will be placed in be acceptable in every way. But I do think it's funny that I've found myself doing a number of things over the past week that I certainly wouldn't have anticipated. Nathan and I went downtown to get an official statement from the police department announcing we are citizens in good standing, without any prior crimes to our names. Then we went to the local gun range to be electronically finger printed, at which time I found out that there is actually a technique to the process, and it is one I don't posess! I had to try each finger three times, and I definitely got the feeling the girl working the computer was less than impressed with my ability. Ohh well!

We are also providing statements from everything imaginable: our doctor, our bank, our insurance companies, etc. But the crowning jewel of the whole application process is our profile. This is something I am putting together this week, and basically it is a visual picture of our lives that the birthmother is able to flip through before choosing the family for her baby. To me, this more than anything else will portray who and what we are. Words are necessary, but pictures can capture what pen and paper can't. I have kept this project for the last because I feel it is in many ways the most important.

Along with this scrapbook of our lives, I will include a letter to the birthmother. Without doubt, this is the most difficult part of the application process for me. Each time I sit down and try to write, I feel like my words aren't adequate. Knowing that I can say anything to the mother of my future child, but realizing that a letter is inevitably going to fall short in being able to fully express my heart is a difficult place to be. I know I will eventually get something down, but right now I'm stuck. I'm praying that God will give me the words I'm having a hard time finding.

So, in a nutshell, that's where we are. The baby God has for us is on the horizon, and I am enjoying the many things God has brought into my life over the past few months as a result of Poppy. I feel like I don't have a right for things to be going so well, and when I think about it, I know it's because I don't. God gives everything; nothing can be taken for granted. That being said, I am so grateful for where we find ourselves right now!

Friday, February 1, 2008


Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? There are several different types out there. Some try to liken you to one of four animals, while others prefer to narrow you down to your primary personality characteristic. But regardless of the specific test, the concept behind each is generally the same. The goal is to give some measure of predictability to your personality type, in hopes that knowing which category you fall in will help you understand yourself a little bit better and possibly shed light on likely behavior patterns in the future.

When I was in high school I ate these up. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist, so these little test thingys were right down my alley. I figured it was best to know myself up and down before attempting to psycho analyze anyone else! Well, over time the dreams of me as psychologist drifted by the wayside, and my fervor for test taking fizzled out, but what has remained with me is a desire to feel like people, especially those I am close to, maintain some basic levels of predictability.

I'm as keen on spontaneity as the next person when it involves a surprise trip for my birthday or flowers on some ho-hum day of the week when I wasn't expecting them, but when it comes to most behaviors, I want to be able to know what to expect. I know Nathan through and through, his patterns, his reactions, his moods, and any big deviation from his normal sphere of “usual” would unnerve me. I think this is one of the biggest reasons I sometimes have a problem with God.

What started me thinking about this was a verse I read the other day from Psalm 77:19. It says, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.” I know that God’s character is unchangeable. That His love, wisdom, mercy, and grace are the foundation I can build my life upon. But this verse also tells me that while He is the Rock of Ages, the ways He chooses to act are beyond predictability. Just as the sea leaves no trail to follow, God’s actions are untraceable. There is no formula to plug in or test to predict the works and ways of our Father. That can be a lot to swallow sometimes, especially when my concepts of what is “fair” sneak in and set up camp in my mind.

As I’ve watched the many girls in my life go through the process of losing their babies, the truth of this verse has been confirmed. No one’s story is exactly the same, despite the shared diagnosis of Trisomy 18. I am left without any explanation as to why I had Poppy 3 hours, while Copeland spent 8 days, Maddox just moments, Tristan 56 days, and Mary Grace 7 hours. Who could have predicted, much less make sense of the way God chose to work?

Hebrews 11 is a chapter that highlights the unpredictability factor in the works and ways of God. In these verses, the great heroes of the faith are listed. Many of these were witness to the miracles of God. Noah was delivered from the earth altering flood, Moses was saved from death at the hand of Pharoah, and Enoch was spared physical death as he was whisked straight form this world to heaven.

But then as the chapter progresses you get to a verse that begins, “but others.” With these words, the chapter segues into a long list of the people whose faith was just as great, but who did not experience the same kind of miracles from God. These saints of the faith were tortured, mocked, stoned, cut in two, starved, and the list goes on. God allowed these to suffer tremendously even though their faith was great. What does this say? Does God love them less than those He chose to save?


I can’t explain it, but I know it’s true. I know that God’s actions are not an indicator of his level of love for His children. Why He allows what He allows will always be a mystery because His ways are beyond human prediction. He is an enigma. Yet His character is unchanging and His promises are true. That is what I will hold on to.

ps: this picture is of my Papa with poppies in Switzerland. Grammy just found it today, and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you.