Tuesday, August 7, 2012
About a month ago, we made the incredibly hard decision to put the adoption on hold. This decision did not come easily, for obvious reasons, but we felt that it was the best decision at the time. That being said, I have absolutely no idea where our adoption journey will go from here….whether it is dead in the water, or whether God will lead us to pick it up at a later date. Not a clue. What I do know is that for the first time in a VERY long time, we are putting God in complete control. We are learning big lessons about real faith. Hard lessons. Heartbreaking lessons.
I’m sure you’re wondering why we made the decision. Truth is, there are several. True to myself, I’ll share some of them in list form.
A) We’ve had some ongoing issues with our agency. Since being placed on the list 2 years ago for Birthmothers to view, the only time we have received personal contact from our agency to check on us was last August when it was time for us to do our annual update. Never one phone call or email. In the last 2 years, we’ve had 3 different social workers, and the office staff has changed multiple times. Also, our annual update was initially supposed to cost $250 paid to the agency. At the time we went through our homestudy, we were told we would only have to do physicals, pet vaccinations, etc each year…only those things you do annually anyway. However, once we were approved the agency changed its policies. We now have to do fingerprints, background checks, and a home visit every year. We miss 1-2 days of work to do all of this, and what was supposed to cost $250 cost us $500 last year. In addition to THAT, when we were first approved, the amount we would have to pay at placement was $7,000. Keep in mind we have received a $5,000 grant from Show Hope, so all we had left to save was $2,000 plus attorney fees. At last years update, our placement fee was increased to $9,100 and would be increased again this year. I say this not to make the agency look bad or to sway anyone’s opinion of them, this is just our experience.
B) The federal government has done away with the adoption tax credit in which we were depending. Previously, the year you finalize an adoption, you could claim a $13,000 tax credit, and if that is an overage, you would get it back as a return. Most families take out a loan to pay for the adoption, and then use that money to pay it off and it GREATLY reduces your out of pocket costs. As it stands right now, you get a $13,000 credit, but it will only make your balance owed $0.00, you do not receive any overages as a return. Next year, it is going down to around $6,000. This leaves us with $10,000 in debt, and if we continue with the adoption, we will be left with more than $20,000 that we will receive no help to pay off. Yes, I realize some people think it’s nuts to go into debt for an adoption, and that’s fine…but I respectfully ask that you keep that thought to yourself. It does not help our situation and doesn’t help my heart. (Yes, people do voice their “opinions” about adoption and it gets quite disheartening). I don’t know very many people who can walk in and write a $20,000 check for an adoption. We certainly couldn’t.
C) Since starting to lose weight (I’ll do an update post on that later), well, let’s just say I’ve had some “signs” that my body is changing. Without getting too personal, we’ll say my body is doing some things it has never done on it’s own. I’ve been seeking medical treatment, and for the time being I am on birth control for a short term. Don’t get excited…I’m not sure what it means, or if anything will happen. I’m trying not to get my hopes up. But it’s hard.
Now, all of that being said, we both had a very clear instruction from God to put this on hold. We still aren’t totally sure why, but my hope is that He is planning to bless us. Don’t know when, don’t know how. But His word tells me to come to Him expectantly. This is where we are learning to fully trust him and him alone. I don’t “know” that God is going to give us a child, and I certainly don’t know HOW he will, but I trust that He will…in HIS time. Some days that is harder to accept than others. Some days are incredibly difficult. Others, my heart is full of hope and peace.
I read a book called Waiting On God by Cherie Hill. Excellent read about how God uses these times…the quiet times…to draw us nearer to Him. Even when it feels like He has left us high and dry, He is right by our side, waiting for His perfect moment. I take comfort in that.
Prayers are much appreciated as we continue on this journey. We are so grateful for all the support of so many.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I wake up in the morning dreading going to work. Then, I spend an hour driving to work, 8 hours waiting for work to be over, another hour+ driving home, then I spend the rest of the evening either being tired or being frustrated with all the things I need to get done in the measly 3-4 hours I get at home. THEN, I go to bed, anxious to get to sleep so I can do it all over again the next day.
I'm not sure why this is such a struggle for me. I wasn't raised "with money." And I certainly wasn't taught that money or things were important. I suppose it's just part of our culture. Our worth in America is determined by how nice our house, cars, and clothes are, or by how many degrees we have, and how much income is listed on our Tax Returns. While I know this is absolutely wrong and ludicrous, I still fall prey to that mentality.
That being said, I've come up with a new goal for myself. That goal is simple: to find the joy in my journey. I want to be that person who is completely content and happy, no matter what my circumstances. I want to be a woman who is perfectly satisfied, no matter how "simple" my life is. I'm only 27, but I am so incredibly tired of feeling like I need a certain car or house, or that I need to look a certain way in order to fit in. The Bible actually tells us NOT to fit in!
No, I'm not planning to go live in an Amish community with no electricity where I use an outhouse. I just mean that I don't want to live my entire life waiting for something better. I want to WANT what I have. I want to simply be thankful and happy with all of the things that make me smile. I don't want to allow traffic, rude people, the bad-mood-boss, or that lazy coworker to steal my joy! So, it's time for me to take hold of my own happiness and stop letting society tell me what I need to be happy. I'm not really sure what that entails yet, but I know it's a lifelong journey.
I have a perfect example of Joy. I have a little girl in my class on Wednesday nights at church. Lily. Now, if you've ever met Lily, you'll know what I am talking about. If not, it's hard to put her into words. Lily is a very active, happy, excited, and joyful 2-year-old. It doesn't take much to make her happy. She rarely throws a fit. She's just....HAPPY! She's happy to see you. She's happy when she says "I love your hair!" She will tell a random stranger "I like you!" She sees a baby and exclaims "Aw! How sweet! What a cute baby!" She sees a flower and gets really excited about it. She makes a joke and cracks herself up, bursting out in laughter. She's just plain happy.
I'm not sure when we move from that childlike joy to the adult-like stress and disappointment, but I want to be more like Lily. I want to find my joy in Christ, and find happiness in the simple things.
So, what makes you happy? :-)
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Sunday we had an amazing day. My daddy preached at his church Sunday morning while their preacher was away. This was the first time I have ever heard him preach because I was just a baby when he left the ministry. He did such an amazing job, and I will say that he definitely doesn't sugarcoat anything! :-) There were a few times it took all my strength to choak back the tears. It was a day I won't forget.
Brandon and I gave ourselves a cheat day Sunday. We have been 95% ON since we started this over a month ago so we decided to relax and enjoy our day together. We went to Cracker Barrel before church for breakfast. I assumed I would get my old usual...Uncle Herschel's Favorite, complete with biscuits and gravy and hashbrown casserole. However, I ended up with multigrain pancakes, a glass of water, and 1 slice of bacon. Funny how the healthy stuff starts to become the most appealing options. For lunch we went to Firehouse Subs. I had half a cup of sweet tea (the 2nd time I've had even a sip of sweet tea). After lunch, we went out to the Avenue to do a little shopping. I actually splurged on some Redken shampoo at the Ulta store. It was my first time going in that store, and let me tell ya, it is dangerous!
After we finished shopping, we went home to relax for a bit. I read a little more of the Hunger Games and fell asleep for a little bit. Then that evening we went to the Cheesecake Factory. If we were going to cheat, we were going to make it worth our while! I had the four cheese pasta (my FAVE), and Brandon had a burger and fries, which he has been craving for a couple of weeks now. We each ate one little bite of bread and left the rest alone, and we drank water. It is just insane to me that we both used to be so incredibly opposed to drinking water with our food, but now that is all we ever drink. I ate probably 1/3 of my pasta and sent the rest back. I didn't even take the leftovers home. I have to learn that it is OK not to eat it all.
For dessert, we split a slice of the red velvet cheesecake. Oh. My. Gosh. Totally worth it :-)
What feels really good to me is that after an entire day of crappy food, I was totally ready for my new normal again. Usually one cheat leads to another, which inevitibly creates a chain reaction. But yesterday I was 100% on track and loving it. I did feel really tired yesterday. But I still say the cheesecake was worth it!
As of Friday, I was down 15.5 pounds (20 pounds since my highest weight) and my jeans officially are too big! They were literally falling down all day Saturday. Time to retire them! Brandon has now lost 19 pounds and bought a pair of pants 2 sizes smaller and has moved into his smaller belt, retiring his "fat belt" as he calls it. It feels AMAZING to feel the results, and even more amazing that we are SEEING the results! I can actually tell when I look in the mirror now! WOOHOO!
Friday, March 23, 2012
One of my all time favorite songs, Rise And Shine (Arky Arky) came on. As I was jamming along with it, I was reminded of something. The song tells the story of Noah and the Ark. In a strange way, it reminded me of our journey waiting for a birth family to choose us. Noah was told there would be a big flood and that he needed to build an ark to prepare. At that time, there had never been one drop of rain in the world, so Noah had no clue what a flood was, and he surely didn't know what to expect. But he knew what he needed to do to prepare, and he obeyed. Then, once on the Ark, the rains came. They were stuck on that Ark for 40 days. No TV, no iPod, no Youtube, no Wii or Xbox...just a staff and a whole lot of smelly animals. Sitting. For 40 days. Can you imagine?
Noah was patient, and he had faith. He believed that God would protect them, and that one day the waters would subside and they would be able to begin life as normal again.
I've never related to Noah like that before. Brandon and I have absolutely no clue what to expect. We don't know what our adoption story will look like, because no 2 are the same. But, we know that there are things we must do to prepare for a child because we have faith, and we believe that God will bless us with a child. We don't know when. We don't even know how. But we know that God is good, and that He is faithful. I believe that God has his reasons for allowing us to wait, and I believe one of those reasons is to prepare us to be parents. But for now, we are stuck waiting, and some days it feels really yucky, much like sitting around a bunch of stinky animals...it just plain stinks! But God has reasons for all things, and I believe whole heartedly that even when I am sad, depressed, lonely and even angry, God is holding my hand, and that one day we will no longer have to wait. One day, we will hold that baby in our arms and all will be right in our world. I need to remind myself of the meaning of the Rainbow...that there is calm after the storm, and that God never ever breaks his promises!
Just like the song says: "Rise and shine, and give God the glory glory, Children of the Lord." So, that's what we will continue to do. We will give Him all the glory and trust in Him completely...even when it isn't easy. One day, we'll be singing "The sun came out and dried up the landy landy, look! There's the sun! It dried up the landy landy! Everything is fine and dandy dandy, children of the Lord!"
Cheesy much? I think so :)
Monday, March 19, 2012
The Old Habits:
1. Lots of sweet tea, cokes (diet and otherwise) and sugary drinks
2. HAD to have some form of sweets daily...cake, cookies, ice cream....anything.
3. TONS of bread
4. No water. No, really. I hated water and rarely drank any.
5. Skipped breakfast or ate something like cereal or a tall glass of chocolate milk
6. Lots of potatoes, white rice, and pastas
7. Two words: red meat.
8. Visited the grocery store hungry and without much of a list
9. Never really planned ahead
10. Ate out 3-4 times a WEEK! That doesn't include buying lunches (usually fast food 2-4x per week)
11. No exercise. At all.
12. Portion control? What's that?
13. Milk and cheese daily. Actually, at every meal pretty much.
The New Habits:
1. We have had nothing but water, spark, and 2 glasses of UNsweet tea in 24 days, and I am ok with that. I now crave water and will turn down the tea for water, and the thought of a carbonated beverage makes my stomach hurt.
2. We have pretty much cut out refined sugar. With the exception of the sugars in sauces (which we now ALWAYS opt for a lower sugar or no sugar added version now), we haven't had any sweets, and neither of us have missed them.
3. We now ONLY eat whole grain bread, and only in moderation. Bread isn't daily for us anymore.
4. I drink 80-100 ounces of water daily.
5. I always have breakfast. Currently we are using the Advocare Meal Replacement shakes which are fabulous.
6. Baked potato 1x per week or less, with NO BUTTER. We've switched to brown rice and whole grain pasta, and we've only had pasta once in 24 days.
7. Very little red meat, and when we do have it, we use really lean beef. We've started using ground turkey in a lot of recipes.
8. My weekly meal plan and grocery list is a must now.
9. The biggest key for me has been planning ahead. From creating a weekly meal plan, to putting my blender bottle of water in the fridge at night for my breakfast shake the next morning, to putting my lunch together for the next day while I'm cooking dinner, and planning ahead for going out or nights that we won't be home.
10. We've eaten out 3x in 24 days. We now are getting to where we prefer homecooked, real food. Restaurant food just doesn't satisfy like it used to.
11. I am adding exercise daily. Some days I take a walk on my lunch, some days I go up and down the stairs at work, and yesterday I did yard work. I am striving to add some form of exercise each day.
12. Portion control is a must. I don't measure our food, but I fix a healthy plate with smaller portions of lean protein and brown rice, and larger portions of veggies and fruit.
13. I eat very little cheese, and haven't purchased milk since we started.
All in all, we have made major changes to our diet. We've even started getting creative and finding substitutes for things, like 0 calorie butter spray instead of a heaping spoonful of butter, and blue agave nectar or Splenda instead of sugar. We feel so much healthier, and I can tell it not only in pounds, but in our energy, the way our clothes fit, and my hair and skin. I even sleep better at night.
Although it sounds like way too many changes to make all at once, the funniest part is that most of these changes just came naturally. We don't WANT the sugary things. We don't WANT potatoes. Our bodies are craving fruits and veggies. It's amazing how when you give your body the complete nutrition it needs, it operates the way it's supposed to.
I can say, for the first time ever, that after 24 days, I am not feeling the desire to quit. I am more motivated and determined than ever!! Taking it 10 pounds at a time, I know I can do it! :)
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I am currently sitting at a 10 lb loss and overall 8 inches. We'll get the final results on Monday, but I don't expect that to change much. But I am pretty happy with that! I definitely have a long way to go (about another 130-140 lbs....I haven't decided), and I surely have things I need to work on, like my exercising. BUT, I am on the right track, and in a MUCH better place than I was 21 days ago! For the first time, I'm not itching to "be done" with it so I can pig out. I'm not itching to go out for Mexican food, burgers, wings, or pizza. I'm actually craving good things and enjoying food in a whole new way. My body LIKES water!! Who knew, right? ;)
One thing I am really, really pumped about is that when we do get our referral for a baby, we will be much healthier, happier, and better equipped to handle a little one. We will have the energy and health to be able to get through those sleepless nights, and we will be able to enjoy playing with them and teaching them to be active. We will be able to lead them by example to a healthy lifestyle, instead of having the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude.
"If something is important to you, you will find a way. If it isn't, you will find an excuse"- this speaks volumes to me.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
We had a slight meal mishap last night. The recipe was for Hawaiian Bunless Turkey Burgers and I was making baked sweet potato fries with them. Neither were very good. We ended up with meal replacement shakes for dinner. Good thing we like them! Tonight the menu is baked tilapia and baked sweet potatoes. Hopefully those turn out better!
Monday, February 27, 2012
On Friday, February 24, 2012, Brandon and I began our Advocare 24 Day Challenge. This challenge consists of a 10 day herbal cleanse, followed by 14 days of nutritional supplements that will help us to reset our bodies and jump start our weight loss. We all know that I have struggled with weight for a lifetime, and that I have tried everything out there. However, I truly believe in the power of these products. It is now day 4, and we both have significantly more energy than we have had in a long, long time. We feel better overall. Brandon was down 3 pounds after the first 2 days! I can't wait until day 25 to see how much better I feel then! We are also looking forward to an amazing business opportunity with this company. You're probably skeptical, which is ok. I was too!
We first learned about Advocare from our friend, Alison. Alison began her journey over a year ago. To date, she has lost over 110 pounds! She is also making a significant income. Alison has tried to get me on board since she started, but I was so very skeptical. Then, we found out that some dear folks from our church were also using these products. For us, that added a LOT of credibility. Our friend Kara is down 19 pounds since January and is just radiant! We are completely convinced that these products are wonderful, and want to share it with everyone. If we already feel so amazing after only 4 days, I can't imagine how we will feel in a few months, or a year from now! This is by far the best decision we have ever made for ourselves and our future.
Whether you are interested in losing weight, having more energy, looking more toned and lean, just overall wellness, or making some income, feel free to ask me about it! I can't wait to have an "Alison" type story to share, but we have seen the success first hand in so many people that we know personally, that I completely believe in these products! :-)
If you want to know more, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me on Facebook. I would be happy to share with you what we are so excited about!
Monday, February 6, 2012
If you don't know him, that's Shaycarl, and his family. On Youtube they are the Shaytards and I LOVE them! I can't even tell you how much I love them! Anyway, Shay recently lost over 100 pounds and he has documented it all on their family's daily vlogs, and it has been so neat to watch! He is proof that even if you mess up, if you pick it back up and keep going, you will get there. If you haven't seen them, check out their videos. Again I say, I LOVE them!
The other is a dear, precious friend of mine who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This woman took very good care of herself, yet she couldn't escape it. And now she is fighting to survive this awful disease. So, this Fall I want to start a team to walk in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in her honor. I would love to be able to run it, even though that's not really my focus. I've just simply realized that she is fighting for her health and would give ANYTHING to have it, but I am being irresponsible by taking for granted the body that I have. So, it's time to change that! When I do that 5K this fall, I want to be a different person!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
It's 2 16x20 canvases (on sale at Hobby Lobby for $7.99 for the 2 pack), photos that I had printed in black and white, cut down to 4x4's, and mod podge. I swear mod podge is the best invention. Ever. I just might be making some of these for Christmas gifts this year. I think my goal for this Christmas is to make most of the Christmas gifts. Frugal Christmas! I know, it's early...but that's a lot of gifts to make!
One of my goals this year is for spiritual growth. I admit, I have never been good at reading the Bible every day....I'm not even good at praying regularly. I know, that is terrible. But, I want to work on that. I bought a women's devotional this weekend, and I already love it. It only takes about 5 minutes, so I don't feel overwhelmed trying to find an hour a day for it. But it gives me a little boost. I'm also keeping a journal about my spiritual journey.
Have a Happy Tuesday!
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The longer we wait, the harder the waiting gets. And most of the time, I feel completely and utterly alone. In my mind, not one soul on the face of the earth understands how I feel. I know, that's stretching it...there are plenty of people who have gone down this road before me, and they DO know. But at the same time, those people are no longer waiting...they are at home with their beautiful babies, and they now know the feeling that I want to know so badly; the feeling of completion, of seeing this journey come full circle. Most of the time I feel like I have been left behind, as if we are the only ones left waiting. And then I start questioning myself. I find myself looking through our profile and asking myself "if I were a bmom, what would I think? What is it about us that's wrong? Have I given off a poor image or said something that comes across incorrectly that is making these mothers push us aside?"
Then I remember that the agency warned us of this, and that it's completely normal to wonder those things, but that we must remember that when the right mom sees our profile, God will draw her to us. It still doesn't make me feel any better, but I keep reminding myself anway.
There are days, such as today, when I just want to crawl back into my bed and pull the covers over my head and drift between sleeping and crying. Wow. That really sounds pathetic reading that backwards. But, I believe it's important for me to be completely honest, so that anyone reading this who is going through it will know they aren't alone.
Truth is, there are days when I get really angry with God (and I'm thankful that he forgives me for that). Sometimes I feel like he's just withholding it from me for kicks. Again, I know this isn't the truth, but in my moment of sadness and frustration, the thought comes across.
I think the worst part about this is, if you know me at all, you know I am 100% a type A personality. Waiting is NOT one of my strengths, and this situation is completely out of my control. I have no influence whatsoever over when or how this happens, or how it will play out. We are at the mercy of some poor woman who is faced with the hardest decision of her life. Which brings me to another sad subject: guilt. When I start feeling so sad and just want so badly to be chosen, I feel guilty because we are, in a way, hoping that a woman will be put in such a dire, sad circumstance, and that she will sacrifice everything and hand her baby to us. What kind of person am I for wanting anyone to go through that?
Well, how's that for a pick-me-up?
Monday, January 9, 2012
1. Lose 50 lbs. Slow and steady, with small changes. Not focusing on the number, but simply making changes that make me feel good about me.
2. Organize my house! I want to take one area at a time...whether it be a closet, drawer, or space, and re-organize it, ending the year with an organized home!
3. Complete the baby's room.
4. Dig into my Bible more. I desperately need growth in that area.
5. Keep up with my personal journal.
Maybe that should be one of my goals for this year- to get back into the blogging world. Anywho, here's what's been going on recently.
Christmas was alright. "Santa" was very good to us this year, and we are appreciative. I feel like a grinch for saying it, but I was glad to see it go. Christmas just isn't as fun as it used to be. I'm hoping that fun will return when we have little ones to live vicariously through.
Brandon and I had a week off of work (well, I had 11 days) together, and it was fabulous. We ripped all of the carpet out of our livingroom/entryway/hallway. We had the intention of laying laminate flooring- ourselves. We very QUICKLY learned that laying laminate is nowhere near as easy as everyone makes it sound! Long story short, we ended up having to call a contractor to install them. But, in the end, I am glad we did. He did a beautiful job! We are hoping and praying this will end Katy's little peeing problem.
On a sad note, my Aunt Jeannie lost her battle with colon cancer just before Christmas. It was such a difficult time, and surely didn't help with my holiday sadness, but I know she is much happier and healthier now. We sure miss her though.
Adoption wise, no news to share. Still no word whatsoever from the agency, and I get really frustrated about it sometimes. It seems as though they could care less about us, only about our money. I hope that isn't the case, but it definitely doesn't make me want to consider this agency for future adoptions. We are praying diligently that 2012 is our year!