Eye of the Storm

Guess what!?! ¬†Nope, sorry, not that exciting news… but other exciting news :).

We are on the home stretch friends!  We have submitted all the required paperwork- yep all 500 pages of it! Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, check out this picture to get an idea of the insane amount of paperwork I am talking about!

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And… keep in mind that this is round two for us. ¬†It has been a bit of a struggle, to say the least.

On top of gathering and submitting the required documents, I sat down earlier this week and calculated that I have been averaging 50-55 hours a week at my full-time job. ¬†Yikes! Including 3 trips to other parts of the US in the past 2 months. ¬†That’s not technically a lot compared to most people, but that is a lot compared to my travel history with my employer. ¬†All that to say this– I am tired! ¬†Sooooo extremely tired.

I will spare the details because this will turn into a novel very quickly, but once again… the journey to acquire and submit the required documents for our new agency was not without barriers. ¬†Sooooo many barriers.

I’ve been trying to keep my eyes focused on the prize… and I fall short. ¬†I am perfectly imperfect. ¬†I feel mentally unstable. ¬†I feel like this entire journey is breaking me. ¬†I feel defeated.

I’ve even started to have doubts about what type of mother I will be? What if we face all these barriers in our journey to be connected with our child because… we really were never meant to be parents?

What if… what if… I hate being a mom? ¬†I said it out loud. ¬†This question that keeps rattling around my head.

I’ve wanted this for so long and we are working so hard to make it happen and what if I find out I am horrible at it and I don’t like it? ¬†Or I don’t bond with our child? What if I am not made for what motherhood will require of me? What if I fall short?

I’ve always thought those things would come naturally… but now… the what if’s are creeping in.

Is this normal? Do mothers who are carrying their own children face these fears? Is this something unique to adoptive mothers? Or is it solely unique to me?

This week, I finally have a break in my work schedule and I’ve been very purposeful to carve out time for me.¬† For my mental health and for my physical health. ¬†I can finally breathe. With the paperwork submitted, there is nothing left for us to do… but wait.

And pray.

I have to boldly trust that God put this desire in our hearts because we are meant to parent a child that we just haven’t met yet. It’s the only way I am going to get through this. ¬†What I have been reminded of again and again and again throughout this past year, is I cannot go this alone. ¬†Without leaning on God, this process will break me. ¬†It will defeat me.

And time and time again, He has provided what I need at exactly the right moment. ¬†Last night as I was freaking out in my head and doubting our decision and doubting this process, my best friend calls to check in on me. ¬†As I’m on the phone with her,¬†my other best friend sends me this text with the message that she is constantly thinking of and praying for me.

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There is a purpose for our wait.  I will be a better mother because of the patience I am learning right now. I will be a better mother because I am learning to love and lean on those who love me to get me through this process. I will be a better mother because this process has done nothing but strengthen my marriage with Josh.

It is still a struggle and I have a feeling that the struggle I feel we are in right now- this adoption journey- is the eye of the storm. Life is about to get even more crazy once we bring our baby home.

And I think I can finally begin to see that I’m going to be ready. for it. This past year has been a year of preparation. What we face from now until we see God’s plan for us unfold and we meet out baby will all be in preparation. Some of it I don’t understand right now. I will admit that. But I’m coming to understand that, as hard as it is for me to accept. I know I will understand it someday. And I will keep pushing forward for that day.

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God meets us where we are…

10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30

Mastering life requires the ability to ride out the good with the bad. ¬†I know I’ve blogged about the many challenges I have felt throughout this adoption journey. But let me share with you- God is good and definitely meets us where we are.

Throughout this journey, I have been overwhelmed by the seemingly little gestures that have left a huge footprint.  God has brought amazing people into our lives at just the right moment.  I know I am going to leave some of those moments here- just know that if you have reached out to us at all throughout this past year, that you have been a part of this journey with us and have a huge impact.

It’s when gestures come from the most unexpected places that I literally step back and know that God is at work. I wanted to take a moment to share some of these with you because this journey has had as many ups as it has downs.

As soon as we were approved by our 1st agency, our rescue dog’s foster family dropped off a baby book – specifically designed for adopted children- for us to document every first moment once we are placed with our child. ¬†The gift was accompanied by a children’s book detailing the process of a polar bear taking a baby brown bear into her care and raising it as her own. ¬†Knowing our heart for interracial adoption, this was especially encouraging and hear warming.

Most recently, when I felt as though I was in a dark spot, our church’s daily emails took us through the Psalms- reminding me of David’s suffering and that God never left him- He heard David and met him in his darkest places.

One of the challenges I have not shared is the cost of this process. ¬†We have saved for this since our wedding day and are very fortunate to have planned ahead. When considering a change in agencies, cost was the limiting factor that kept coming up in our many discussions and quite honestly, is what stopped us from changing course 6 months ago. Well, recently we decided to move ahead with a new agency and make some small sacrifices to increase our adoption budget. ¬†I received a call from our church one day asking for the address and name of our agency so they could send our check in. ¬†I was confused and stunned! ¬†Turns out, there was an anonymous donation made to our church that was to go to a family who was in the process of adopting and our church thought of us. ¬†To this day, we have no idea how much that donation is for- and it doesn’t matter. ¬†What matters is that God is with us and is reassuring us.

The owner of a fitness studio I coach at stuck a small bracelet with a card attached to it explaining that this bracelet was a reminder to keep “a little bit of faith” inside my paycheck envelope. The timing of this was perfect and is now a daily reminder to keep the faith, have patience and courage to trust in God.

We received the amazing news  that we have been approved by our new adoption agency 12 days ago.  Actually, right before I left for a 10 day trip out of state.  The timing of that email was perfect to keep anxieties at bay during this trip and bring peace that this process continues to move forward.  We arrived home yesterday to find a package addressed to us from the consultant we met with Рencouraging scripture and a journal to document  our adoption journey for our child to have some day- to know that they were so very loved before we were even matched.

The timing of these things are God’s way of letting us know that we are not alone. He hears us. ¬†Our cries do not go unheard. ¬†And while I’m not particularly fond of the answer to wait and continue trusting… I have peace knowing that God is at work. ¬†Our child is being formed and God’s plan is always the most perfect plan.

We now have more paperwork to fill out, documents to collect from our previous agency and more reference letters to request. ¬†We are so anxious to get to the next stage and to be shown to birth mothers, that it is easy to be frustrated by all the “must-do’s” in order to get there.

For those of us that have been praying with us, please pray that we will have the courage to continue to trust God.  And to all of you- a sincere thank you for your prayers.

 

Surrender

I haven’t posted an update in over a month and typically, that’s a strong sign that I am struggling. And frankly, it’s been a struggle.

We were faced with a potential opportunity to open our home to a baby girl that needs parents. I felt strongly it was meant to be- God was literally dropping this precious child into our home!

Needless to say, it wasn’t the door God opened for us, nor is it our child. In reality, due to legalities and regulations, we were never in a position to be that child’s parents. Nonetheless…

It broke me to say the very least. But, in true Nikki style, I stuffed the emotions deep down, put on a brave face, wiped a smile across it and kept going on day to day. That is, until I physically couldn’t any longer. I puked one night. Four times! It was awful. But, I will say, not as awful as finally feeling the emotions I stuffed deep down inside. That was awful. To feel. To be raw. To feel hurt and heartache for a child that was never ours to begin with.

What it did do, was show me what an incredible husband I have. He was there for me. He picked up my broken pieces and held them until was I ready to be put back together again.

It also opened our eyes that we needed to be more proactive and seek an agency that will put our best interests first and advocate for us. We have prayerfully considered different options and feel we are making the right move in our journey forward.

So now we wait for approval. Again. But somehow this time the wait isn’t bringing me agony. I am not anxious. I feel peace. ¬†This decision has finally brought me peace after weeks of internal turmoil. **I should note that the decision to consider different options is completely unrelated to the story outlined above**

I thought for a period of time during this past month that I was supposed to learn acceptance through this. As I read my daily devotion and listened to our local Christian radio station, it became glaringly clear. It isn’t acceptance. It’s surrender. It’s time to SURRENDER. Give it ALL to God. And REST in Him.

It won’t be easy. I’m treading into new territory. But it’s a turn in this journey I’m taking– cautiously optimistically.

Mountains and Valleys

Last week, Josh and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary! It doesn’t seem like three years have past and in some ways its incredible to think it’s only been three years because it feels so natural, like I have known him all my life.

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Here is our picture perfect life.

In reality, right now, I feel like a hot mess. ¬†Our anniversary also signals one year since we started our adoption journey. ¬†And let me tell you, in no way does it feel like this journey has gone too fast. ¬†I feel like I can remember every painstaking step we took. ¬†The hours upon hours spent filling out the application. ¬†The stress of waiting to find out if we would even be pre-approved. ¬†Followed by the stress of completing our home study. ¬†And let’s not forget the extreme amount of pressure I put on myself to get our portfolio ready for birth mothers to view and hopefully choose us. ¬†Then… the stress of waiting to hear if we’d been approved upon completion of our home study. ¬†I know most, if not all, of this has been self-inflicted. ¬†Nonetheless, it’s the path I’ve walked.

I use the singular tense because Josh is much more rational going through this process and has held his confidence that we would be approved all along. It’s just one of the qualities I appreciate about him and how we compliment each other.

I don’t want to give the impression that it has been all bad. ¬†Each of the above stresses have been followed by joy and celebrations for each milestone passed. ¬†And, celebrating the little things, like splurging on little shoes that are just too cute to pass up!

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There have been mountains and valleys and we are still trekking through them. I have to admit, for someone who shut herself down from feeling for years in order to avoid getting hurt, I have felt a lot this year. There are times when I feel I have reached the top of the mountain and I see everything clear from the top.  I know and I feel that God is in control. I trust that He has a plan and He is going to place our child with us.  And then, there are times where I feel deep in the valley with fog rolling in clouding my vision.

We are at a crossroads in our journey and I feel like we are sitting at a stop light that is forever red. ¬†It will turn green again. ¬†And perhaps it will be sooner than later as we mull which direction to take. ¬†Until then,¬†please join us in prayer for God’s direction as we take¬†our next steps.

 

Hope

As 2016 comes to an end, one word rings through my head– HOPE.

Entering 2017, I have hope for what this new year will bring. ¬†Chances are high that we will be matched with our first child in 2017. ¬†Chances are equally as high that we won’t. ¬†All I can cling to, is hope.

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I know that I have posted this verse before.  I love it.  I wear it around my wrist on a leather strap every day as a reminder of the great plans that the Lord has in store for me.  He wants me to prosper, to succeed.  He wants me to have peace.  He gives me hope.

To be honest, at this point in the adoption process, hope is what it comes down to.  I wake up most mornings wondering if today will be the day that changes my life as I know it.  I have increased anxiety each time I have to travel out of state for work (which, believe me, I know is not a healthy habit to be starting!). I have an internal struggle where I feel like I need to get everything in order- sheets washed, clothes washed, bottles washed, diaper bag packed, nursery furniture assembled- and then that feeling is quickly replaced with one that all that hustle and readiness is just useless. Useless because in those moments, I do not have hope.

So, as we end 2016 and enter the New Year, I ask for you to join Josh and I in our continued journey. If I can be so bold to ask- please pray for us in 2017, rejoice with us in 2017 and above all, share in our hope for the plans the Lord has for us.

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Fearless

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update. ¬†We took some time off from work to enjoy a vacation in Kauai with just the two of us…

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It was so great to get away. ¬†As trite as this might sound, it felt good to get out of our house. ¬†Separate my mind from the current status it sits in and the transformation that I want to begin to get ready for our child. ¬†For 8 whole days, I didn’t stress or dwell on the pending adoption process.

We did a lot of activities to fully experience the beauty of Kauai from hiking through the rainforest and desert conditions on both sides of the island to viewing waterfalls from a helicopter. ¬†On our last day, our adventurous side took us rappelling down a 60 foot waterfall. ¬†I was so excited to not just experience something new that we couldn’t experience at home, but to experience this with Josh for the first time. ¬†It was his excitement that drove me through any hesitations I had when we discussed whether or not to sign up for the tour.

It was a perfect day for the tour, sun shining, not too hot and not too windy. ¬†We were lucky to be paired with just one other couple, so the tour guides were able to provide ¬†personalized attention to each one of us. ¬†I’m not going to lie or pretend to be brave. ¬†I was NERVOUS after we received our introduction and “how-to” from the guides. ¬†We complete a test run down a dry cliff before hiking to the waterfall and that calmed my nerves. ¬†We arrived at the waterfall and I was first up. ¬†Fearlessly, I walked to the edge and began the descent down. ¬†Remembering the instructions the guides had given us and listening to the cues they were yelling from both above and below, I shuffled my feet and dropped my hips all the way down under the thunderous roar of the water pouring down on you the entire way. ¬†At one point, it was enough to literally take my breathe away and I had to settle my thoughts and recenter before I could continue down.

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For the second descent, we moved to the other side of the waterfall. ¬†I was full of doubt and fear as I latched into the harness and nodded my head to the last minute tips from our guide. ¬†I stepped to the edge and slowly back to lower myself over it. I became gripped with fear and immobile. ¬†I could hear the guide telling me where and how to move my feet, but I couldn’t do it. ¬†I was frozen. ¬†Looking up at him, I started saying “I can’t” over and over. ¬†Finally, I reached up and hoisted myself back towards the top. After “negotiations”- ok, more like¬†pleading¬†“puh- leeeeez”¬†on my part with the guide who was instructing me to keep rappelling down, for my own safety, he finally got more rope and rescued me, pulling me back up to the top of the waterfall.

As I sat there and contemplated what had just happened, the guide spoke truth to me.  He told me I was bigger than this fear.  He told me I just needed to get past the spot where I froze and I would excel to finish the 2nd run down.  He told me I was strong and this was not a feat too big for me to overcome.  I let it sink in.  I knew he was right.  I had a choice to make. And I completed the 2nd run flawlessly after all of that.

I was so embarrassed at my actions, at my inability to control my fear in that moment.  It was hard to focus on the bigger picture.  That I overcame that fear. I moved beyond it. And that makes me fearless.  To me, it was symbolic for where we are at in our adoption process. I have a choice to make.  I can wander my house in fear that we will not be matched with a child.  I can let fear overcome me and take my joy.  Or I can choose to be fearless. Moving ahead every single day, preparing for our child to enter our house- their homeРand live with joy.

I choose to be fearless.

A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

As I’ve been recovering from surgery to remove my gall bladder, I’ve been reflecting on this bible verse.

This post will be short and sweet as there isn’t an update on the adoption process to date. ¬†We are patiently waiting to be placed with birth mom and our unborn child. ¬†Ok, let’s be real… Josh is patiently waiting and I am learning how to be patient with every day that passes :).

As I’ve reflected on this verse the last few weeks, I have found peace. ¬†Real peace. I know that we have a child. ¬†We just haven’t met him or her. ¬†But, God knows our child. ¬†And in HIS timing, we will meet. ¬†Trust the process. ¬†Walk in faith. ¬†And praise God every step of the way for the wonderful gift that is coming to us.