Nesting and Channeling My Inner Martha

We have been having a lot of fun this week getting used to the idea of our new family – two boys and a girl!!! What is so interesting, is that it’s the same family dynamic that Hayes and I both grew up with – needless to say a boy majority is something we are accustomed to. However, Eden reigned as queen for four years and we have acquired quite a bit of “pink” in that time and feel like we need to make a few adjustments to her room as she and Wes will need to share her room. This predicament is one of the reasons why we wanted to move (to see God’s plan for our move click here). I knew God would provide.  We collected a few items and artwork from her room that were anything but gender neutral, made some money on a local online Facebook swapping page – $45 BAM! We were on our way!

First of all, I am NOT one of those Martha Stewart types that just KNOWS how to sew and paint. My mom taught me how to do those things when I was little, but never for more than just an occasional craft time with friends. Now that I am an adult, and a mother, and pay my own bills (who am I kidding? Hayes pays the bills) I have learned just how cost-effective it can be to DIY (Do It Yourself).

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First, we had to move Westy’s sleeping place from the “nursery” into the bottom bunk in Eden’s room. We only have two months to get ready for the baby, and certainly don’t want too much more time to go by before we make this very important transition. We would never want Wes to feel replaced or resentful toward his new best friend baby brother for taking over his room. However, I couldn’t just say, “Here ya go West – sleep here in Eden’s bed.” We wanted to make him feel special, like it was his room too.

So, Eden and I made a plan to raid Osgood’s,  imagean over-whelming discount fabric store in town, and came up with a plan that she was comfortable living with: the pink curtains and flowered duvet covers had to go.  I can make duvet covers and curtains! How hard can it be? I’ve made pillows – so clearly I can make a large pillow (duvet) and a one-sided pillow (curtain). I spent some time getting inspired on the Pottery Barn Kid’s website, and educated myself a bit on Pinterest and brought my dimensions to an incredibly understanding and helpful woman with green hair (Big-Eyed Eden: “Mommy, that girl has green hair”) and large gauge earrings (Big-Eyed Eden: “Mommy that girl has HOLES in her ears”. They were actually the most beautiful opal ringed gauges I had ever seen, so as far as “HOLES in your ears” go, these were the most beautiful kind). Eden shopped around and decided she was open to blues and a peacock print that caught her eye – I can work with that!

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My nesting instincts were in high-gear (remember the last two times this happened, I had 9 months to get our house into shape – and now I only have 2!) and with Hayes gone working every spare minute of his life when he isn’t sleeping or shoveling, I recruited Eden for some help. Handing me pin needles? “Sure Mom!” Ironing? “No problem!” I know it sounds kind of dangerous, but she followed my instructions quite well with no sticks or burns. She was BEAMING and I could see her confidence growing. I’m proud of my big girl. She even took that picture of me sewing – the baby isn’t here yet and she already seems SO much older lately.

Here’s the result! For a fraction of the Pottery Barn price tag. I’m pretty sure Hayes loves me more now – I mean, not because of my skillwork (don’t look too closely) but because of my money-saving skillzzz. Eventually this will be “the boys” room – CRAZY – and Eden will be a few years older and we can help her decorate her own room then.

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Not bad right? I mean, the curtains actually came out kind of straight! We will add a few personalized touches – maybe some painted initials on one wall and a banner made from the remnant material I have leftover. But for now, Westy is so excited, which was the point completely. He keeps opening and closing his new drawers with his things in them – giggling because Eden’s clothes used to be there! This is him pretending to fall into his airplane pillow. It’s hard NOT to get him in an action shot these days!

imageAnd now on to the baby’s room! I see a lot of sorting old baby boy clothes in my future, and a lot of laundry. But how cute do little onesies look all folded up neatly in a drawer? I’m kind of looking forward to organizing that part of it. And now that my confidence is up, I feel like I can do anything – how about reupholstering the chair? No problem!! Stay tuned. It’s getting real Martha, it’s getting REAL.

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Westy and creepy Spider-Man enjoying their new digs!

We Have a New Best Friend

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Last Monday morning we received an email about a potential adoption and it was different from any of the others we had seen before – this birth mom wanted to be matched ASAP and had an appointment with the agency that day at noon. I was not checking my email that morning – Wes had a doctor’s appointment and we had driven to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription when our consultant called me and said “Did you get my email?!?”.  I rushed home, settled the kids with a snack and read it. It sounded perfect. I called Hayes and he agreed that even though we didn’t have a lot of time to think over and pray about it like the last one, we should go for it and see what God does. I emailed our consultant back with a big “YES”.

That night we prayed for that mom and asked God to be clear with her decision.  At the beginning of this process, our agency asked us what kind of situations we were open to. Was race or gender a factor? How about exposure to drugs and/or alcohol. We were very broad in our choices, trusting God to lead us to where we were needed most, knowing He would provide a way. There HAVE been however, two silent items on our “wishlist” that we have prayed for. First, we asked God that if it were to be a boy, that he wouldn’t be too short. It sounds silly, but being a part of a “tall family” (although I am not tall, Hayes is ridiculously tall and our children so far are following suit on every chart at the doctor’s office) we wanted him to be at least taller than me (5′ 4”). And secondly, we asked God for the due date to be after Hayes’ busy accounting season. This will grant us mercy with his schedule, flexiblilty with our travel plans, and ample time to help us and our kiddos transition into a family of five. I really really REALLY didn’t want to take care of three kids under the age of four without his help.

I got a phone call from our adoption consultant two days later and she informed me that our profile was presented to the expectant mother and she loved us! Hayes was in New Jersey for work, so I wasn’t able to tell him in person, but we laughed in surprise and cried and prayed on the phone in awe of God’s faithfulness.

We were privileged enough to speak with our new best friend (the expectant mom) tonight and the conversation could not have gone better. She is funny and kind, loving and brave, honest and smart. We couldn’t have asked for a better first impression of her. And…it’s a BOY. A BOY!!! She laughed and said he’s “a strong kicker”. Her desire is that he be raised in a loving home and “be happy, and ya’ll look like you have FUN in life and I want that for him” (think Southern accent). And guess what else? She’s tall! And her father is really really ridiculously tall too! Thank you God! His due date? It’s April 14, 2015  – right at the end of Hayes’ busy accounting season. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!

This is not a done deal – we know that she has every opportunity to change her mind from here until the due date. We asked her about her feelings about the birth and that next step and she said she has been mentally preparing herself for it from the beginning. From the minute she found out she was pregnant and decided not to terminate it (thank you God!) she knew that it wasn’t going to be hers. She teased me throughout the entire call correcting my words when I would say “your baby” she would say, “no, no, no, YOUR baby!!”. TEARS. We will see. I pray that she sees the love of Jesus in our lives, and if nothing else comes of it, we pray that for her. And in the meantime, our hearts are out there. We are in love with this child and can’t WAIT to meet him. She sent us this sonogram a few moments after we hung up with another photo of her blowing us a kiss. We are BFF’s already.

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Not for a Moment Will You Forsake Me

Throughout these past few weeks, many people have asked us How? HOW do you have SO much faith in what you are doing? It’s so risky – our time, emotions, savings, our whole lives are being given to this unknown pregnant person and her child. And the answer is a simple one: God is sovereign and we trust Him. He didn’t call us to this adoption in the middle of the night and through a phone call at work (for more details please see our adoption story) and then leave us by the wayside to figure it out for ourselves. He has led us faithfully through continual affirmations – I could write a book! I wanted to document a lot of them, and have done so in my own personal journal, and have felt compelled to share a few of them with you in hopes that it will increase YOUR faith and understanding about what a PERSONAL and INTENTIONAL God looks like in life. And hopefully at the end of this, you may find a little more trust in Him and in our decision for our family!

Once Hayes and I agreed that God was calling us to adopt, we had several barriers in our way that we needed Him to take down in order for this all to happen. I have listed them below and have included the ways God in His infinite power made this adoption possible:

1. Home – Our home is beautiful. However, it is small. We bought it when we were newly married eight years ago and at that point we were not thinking about a family. At the time it was perfect for us and our firstborn child, a dog named Duke. However, over the years we have discovered what a weird configuration of bedrooms and floor plan we have, and it is not ideal for a growing family, never mind one that includes more than two children. After Weston was born two years ago, and around the same time we felt God’s first pull on our heartstrings to adopt, we decided to start looking for houses, in hopes that God would lead us to the right decision – should we adopt first or buy a new home? After a few open houses and drive-bys we found one that was perfect. It was in a wonderful town, with beautiful schools, 20 minutes from both of our jobs, church, and both of our families. It was on more land than we had hoped for, and needed a lot of work – which is what we wanted, something at the bottom of our price-range with room to make our own in time. Could this be the answer we were looking for? Were we moving? We met with the realtor, walked through it, prayed silently in every room, and fell in love. We began the process of figuring out the financing and haggling the price when we got a phone call from one of the realtors – one that we hadn’t met before. She was lovely and told us the story of the old woman who had recently passed away after raising her children in that home for 30 years. Her daughters were willing to reduce the price if they knew that it was going to the right family that wouldn’t flip it and sell it, but would treat it with care and raise a family. YES GOD, YES!!! That’s us! And then…in my charming and friendly way I proceeded to tell her of our plans to expand our family through adoption, proving our case, that we ARE a respectable family, and that we deserved a discount. The realtor gasped and spent the next 15 minutes sharing HER testimony of adoption in HER life. Two of her children were born in Korea. She also has two biological children, but had taken several missions trips with her husband before they were born and always knew the need for orphans around the world, and then she added “do it as soon as possible – it was the most wonderful and amazing experience of our lives, and having the kids all close in ages, you will never regret it!”. OUCH. Our plan was to see if God was going to provide the house BEFORE the adoption and after this conversation we were thinking NO was the answer. What are the chances that this realtor would call us (not one of the ones we had met with) and lead me into a conversation to tell her of our decision to adopt before we had even shared it with our own families? And also be a person who had already adopted and understood the timing for our family? She even told me that she was going to pray for us! I mean, c’MON. God was just showing off. Two days later was our first phone call with a reputable adoption agency confirming what we already knew about the immediate need for families to step up and help – this was the phone call that I cried all the way through. A new house can wait, a baby cannot. That was the first of many signs from God that this is the right decision and that He would be faithful to direct our path.

2. FINANCES – The cost of adoption is vast. It’s hard to put a price-point on it because it’s different for every situation, but we are preparing for a $35 – $50,000 range of expenses. Knowing that we were going to adopt has given us the ability to plan for a couple of years and utilize our God-given earnings accordingly. Having said that, we did not save $50,000 last year. God provided it. We have had a few unexpected God-given bumps in income and resources, but also, our fundraiser. I mean, $12,889 has been raised by many of you who have known us our whole lives, and have been around on this journey for months, but to be honest with you – HALF of the money is from people that I have NEVER met. People that heard from a friend of a friend about our need and felt led to give. That doesn’t happen without a serious intervention from God. I cannot begin to express how powerful those emails are when we get a new donation – from $20 to $3,000 but when it comes from someone that I DON’T EVEN KNOW with a NOTE mind you, (a NOTE! From a stranger!) that God put us “The Murray’s from Massachusetts” on their hearts and that they too have a heart for the fatherless. You HAVE to feel God’s presence in that.

3. BABY GEAR – When we were presenting last week to the situation with a baby due six weeks out, Hayes and I had a serious conversation about what kind of gear we really needed to get before the baby comes. We have a lot of clothes, a bouncer, a high chair, etc. but there were two things that I told Hayes that we still needed. One of them was a new baby carrier. Brand new, they were expensive – well out of our means at this point, so the only way I knew I could get one was to find it at a consignment.shop. Last Friday after Eden’s dentist appointment we went to check it out and the store was closed. WHY?!? Annoyed I drove 20 miles south to the next closest store – Wes needed new pants anyway, and we had the time. We walked in straight to the back where the carriers were located and found nothing. I don’t know what I was expecting,  specialty carriers don’t go on sale, and when available at these kind of kid’s consignment shops, they usually get scooped up quickly! The kids were preoccupied with some toys so I stepped over into the shoe bins to see if I could find any good deals for them for next Summer. Next to me was a woman doing the same thing with her two African-American children (she was Caucasian) and one of them called her “Mom”. A conspicuous family! Wait, that’s what I want to have! I smiled at her and she told me a silly story about her daughter’s feet growing too fast to keep up! I asked her if her children were adopted. Do I need to go on? OF COURSE THEY WERE!!! She adopted them from Florida eight years ago, using one of the same agencies we had applied to, and proceeded to carry on a ten minute conversation encouraging me on in our process. She even brought her son into the conversation asking him to tell me his adoption story – a beautiful example of how to parent an adopted child – it is afterall, his story to tell! “I was born in Florida and my parents have been with me since the day I was born.” It doesn’t get any more perfect than that! His name was Matthew. Ahhhh…Oh, and God wasn’t done with me yet:imageI turned around to check on Eden, she was playing with a toy kitchen set and I noticed something sitting on top. What was it? A beautifully packaged, never-been-opened baby carrier I had been looking for, 75% off! It’s even in a pretty color. I mean, does God get any more personal than that?!? I was a tad excited, so I took a picture of me wearing it that afternoon to send to Hayes at work. I was tempted to put one of Eden’s dolls in it and walk around awhile, but refrained. These things are NOT coincidences my friends, and we should get ZERO credit for anything that we are doing. It is ALL God. We are just happy to be in His will along for the ride!

4. FRIENDS – God has provided friends along our path all through our lives. We are beyond blessed with friends. Two friends in particular have been irreplaceable in my life this month, and they will remain nameless, but they are both gifts from above. One friend, I knew would be a person in my life ever since I met her 14 years ago. Adoption has bonded us in a way that has brought her close enough to me that I feel like she is my sister. She is always there to hear me out and not get offended, and she’s also wise. Having adopted before, and been through this journey, although it is different from mine, the link that connects us is the same. She has helped me and taught me and she will forever be one of my besties. God gave her as a gift to me so long ago and I can’t wait to see where He takes us (and our conspicious families!). Another friend that has blessed me on this journey is an unexpected person who I have yet to meet face-to-face, but has been an unbelievable source of encouragement and kindness. She too has adopted and is adopting again, and has a heart for the fatherless. She is a woman of strong faith and has wonderful courage and I am so thankful God placed her in my life for this very reason. I have no doubt that we will be friends for a long time and when we meet someday, I  can already feel the tears from our embrace. Adoption is complicated, and yet God is faithful. We have only been a part of this community for short amount of time and from what we can see so far, it has been such a huge source of LIFE when this process can seem sad, dark, and impossible.

We plan and God laughs? Ya, He’s having a GREAT laugh with these “Murray’s from Massachusetts” and we love it!

My favorite song lately is by Meredith Andrews titled “Not for a Moment”. I’ve attached the song to the link at the bottom and wrote some of the lyrics below. Afterall, He is sovereign.

And every step every breath you are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my hurt at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it’s hard
You will never leave me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD0cvWImVjA

His Ways and His Plan

We had an amazing week! We spent many moments in deep prayer with thoughts of concern for this birth mother and her child that we presented our profile to. She had a very big decision to make.

As for us, we were feeling vulnerable. This was our very first “Yes” on this journey, and waiting for her answer back was grueling – I think I checked my email every five minutes for four days straight. We were also feeling the first hints of excitement! This process so far has been nothing short of boring with all of the paperwork to collect,  appointments to sit through, money to save, and this was our first sign of LIFE! It’s been easy for us to focus on the tasks at hand – things we can have some control over – and forget that we will have another cute little family member at the end of it all! Logistically it all made sense and we were there, but as for our emotions, we had some catching up to do, and boy, did we do that this week. This birth mom wanted to match her child with a family who prioritized their lives surrounding three things: God, Sports, and Higher Education. I mean, come ONNNN! In our minds, that baby was a “Murray” already. 😉

But God had a different plan and after several days of thought and prayer, that mom made the decision to keep her baby.  We are happy for her.  Extremely happy. We will continue to pray for her and her circumstances, and that little girl due March 21st – she wasn’t meant to be a part of our family, but we hope that God used us somehow through this. I know that God is preparing us for the day when we will be matched with a “Yes”. And what a wonderful day that will be!

And meanwhile, we are thankful. Thankful for the prayers and support from our friends and family, and also thankful to The Lord who knows our baby already,  knows his or her name, and birthday, and how many hairs are going to grow on it’s precious little head.  And even though we thought maybe this could be “the one” to complete our family, we know that God has a better plan in mind and we are thankful for that.

“Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

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God has been so faithful throughout this entire process, with big things and small. One small thing happened to me yesterday while at work, after a meeting and a few moments after we learned that this baby was not ours, these flowers were delivered to my desk! Of course Hayes did not know the timing of our news and when I would need a bit of cheering up, but God did – and His timing is always perfect. Isn’t that true for our baby too? We are resting in His ways and His plan. And this part of his plan made me feel a bit like Reese Witherspoon in a romantic comedy! Thanks Hayes!

Faith Bigger than Our Fears

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

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Please pray for us! We decided to present our profile to a birth mother in Florida this week. She is meeting with the attorney and social worker on Monday. We are torn, having mixed feelings of  “oh, I hope she likes us!” but bracing ourselves, afraid of  the chance that she might not. It needs to be every bit as much the right decision for her as it is for us, and we whole-heartedly trust that whatever the outcome, it is meant to be, accordingly to God’s plan. We are resting in His provision and perfect purpose for our family. We know our baby is out there, and if it isn’t this birth mom’s child, we will just add her name to our list of the other mothers we are praying for. We realize this could happen 20 more times before we find the right situation, and even when we are matched, the birth mother can change her mind 24 hours after the baby is born. Nothing is certain except for God and his faithfulness, and we are so thankful for that!

The funny thing is, her due date is soon and the gender is known, which is such a foreign concept for us because both Eden and Weston were surprises! I can’t help myself and have been dreaming of names, and clothes, and all of that insignificant stuff. One step at a time! (Although I totally “get” how great it is to know the sex – I mean, the mere possibility of the known in this case has been SO fun).

Please pray for peace in the decision whatever it ends up being. We will keep you posted!

Thank you!

No Skirts, No Pants, No Problem

Our puzzle is complete! Most of you know what a labor of love it was, not only because of your over-whelming generosity and support, but because of the time and effort it took us to finish this near impossible 500 piece monstrosity. Thank you! (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please catch up here!)

Now for the fun part! After all 499 pieces were put together and an emergency surgery was performed on one replacement piece, we painted the whole front side white and let the kids paint a portrait of our new family.

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Eden had a lot to do with the overall concept as well as the detailed painting.  She is so excited to be a big sister again, and wanted to include all of the fun things we do as a family, so we separated the beach from the snowman with a garden. It’s very “Murray”. And no, the beach sand is not lava. Hayes thought it was. Don’t tell Ede.

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Wes, per usual, went along with whatever she said and with very little help from us, the picture is perfectly flawed and beautiful!

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The new baby is yellow. I asked Eden why and she said, “BeCAUSE we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.” Good point. She also painted Weston with a sideways baseball cap, which I love. No pink triangle skirts or blue square pants for THIS family. It’s all good.

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I can’t wait for the next steps: to write your names on the back and place it in between two pieces of glass and frame it! Either side will be the perfect addition to any room in our house for decades to come! If you didn’t get a chance to buy a piece before the $10,000 threshold was reached last week, two generous donors offered to share their puzzle pieces with the rest of you who donate now – that way no one who gives misses out on adding their name to the puzzle. Thank you!

I love my new yellow, baseball capped, no skirts or pants family already!

With Love,

The Murray’s