Waiting Still

Our baby is not ready to come out yet! My NBFF had her final scheduled doctor’s appointment yesterday and was told that even though she is having contractions, she isn’t dilating. She is only 39 weeks, but is still very uncomfortable. They promised to induce her next week – and how perfect would that be for US? It would be nice to be able to schedule and plan (and fly!) with a day or two of notice!

She told me last night that she and her mom walked the beach for hours – seeing as we got snow here in Massachusetts last night, I was only slightly jealous – jealous of the weather, not of her very pregnant condition (let’s be clear!).

Thank you for your continued prayers. We will keep you posted!

Update: The Best is Yet to Come

Our birth mom’s doctor has put her on bed rest. She is still having contractions, but nothing too close together. Her next doctor’s appointment isn’t until Wednesday – please pray for her sanity as she waits! I’m sure it’s extremely stressful for her. Her mom has been a godsend and has been in constant connection with me. I’m so thankful that she has the gift of a supportive mother helping her.

Also please pray for us as we do all of the last-minute things we need to. I spent yesterday running around in hopes to be 100% ready when the time comes: Duke got a haircut, our bathrooms were cleaned (what baby wants to come home to dirty bathrooms?), I did laundry and packed, and we went shopping for our birth mom’s push present. We are feeling the reality of our final days as a family of four. I spent extra time with Eden and Wes doing puzzles and playing Chutes and Ladders, and Hayes read FOUR stories at bedtime last night (gasp! TWO books over the two-book limit? Unheard of!). We want to cherish these moments – we have GREAT kids and even though we will only be away from them for 3-4 days, when we see them next, everything will be different, but we know and trust that the best is yet to come. Praise you Lord, for your unfailing promise found in Romans 8:28: “…all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”

Thank you for your continued prayers, and for your supportive texts and emails. We are crossing our fingers for an Easter baby (how cool would THAT be?) and will update you ASAP if anything changes.

imageEden and I had some fun quality girl time together and got our toes painted today, and spent the rest of the evening with friends cheering on the men’s Duke basketball team – Go Duke! So many things about our life are still normal, but can feel the anticipation of the adventure before us. Yes, I think the very best things are yet to come!

The Beginning of the End

We got a GREAT phone call today! Our birth mom’s mother called to say that they were on their way to the hospital because she was having contractions! Ecstatic and nervous, I phoned Hayes and told him that this could be “it” and then sat at my desk at work waiting for her to call back, as she promised to once they heard more news from the doctor.

About an hour later (it felt like ten days) she called to say that the contractions are too far apart to be admitted, but that this was “the beginning of the end” and they sent the poor girl home.

Would you pray with us?

1. Please pray for our birth mom, for strength and safety.
2. Please pray for the baby and his health.
3. Please pray for us as we run around making final preparations.

This could take a few hours or a few days, and although we are as ready as we ever will be, and God has given us so much peace in the moment (one of my friends on the phone was totally freaked out: “Kara, you are so calm.”) Imagine? Me? Calm!!! God is good.

We will keep you posted!

With Much Love and Anticipation,
Hayes, Kara, Eden, and Wes

Finding Rest

We have reached the 37 week mark of our pregnancy! How fantastic is that?!? I’ve never looked or felt so good, I mean…my feet aren’t swollen and my back isn’t aching – amazing!

At a quick glance, and if I wanted to save a whole lot of time and self-reflection, I could just make a joke and say how excited we are and amazing this process has been and call it a day. But, how much can you learn and how much can you grow when you live for quick glances and surfaced confessions? Honestly friends, it’s been really hard. You would think the fact that I’m not actually pregnant, waddling around carrying the child, that things would be VERY different and we would be not only well-rested from being able to handle a solid night’s sleep with zero pee breaks, but also be of sound mind and not be emotionally frantic in handling all of the hormones that come along with late-term pregnancy. Unfortunately for me, upon further investigation, I’m sorry to report that THIS expecting momma is still a bit of a basketcase.

It’s so very hard to explain outside of sounding like a sound bite for the Hallmark Channel, but it’s like a part of my heart is somewhere else and it won’t be whole and we won’t find rest until that baby is in our arms. And I’ve been distracted…SO  distracted. Like I got lost on my way to pick up my kids after work today. And I’ve been emotional. Just ya know, weepy at the sound of a good song, or seeing a drawing Eden made of her swinging with her new (and very brown) baby brother. imageOn my own strength, putting God and His eternal power and sovereignty aside, I have tried tirelessly to rest by making lists of things to do outside of the normal groceries, cleaning, and play dates, and then crossing them off as if that satisfaction will warrant me what “I deserve” = REST. Ya know, when the nursery is painted, when Hayes’ busy season is over, when I have spent enough one-on-one time with each child attempting to enjoy them while I have the time (when does THAT end?), when my journaling is up to date, when our birth mom’s medical report is reviewed,  when our flights are scheduled, when our paperwork is notarized, etc. etc. etc. THEN and only THEN can I rest.

We have gained a great deal of perspective this week as we have experienced a huge loss – dear friends who has been an amazing support to us have been going through a tough time, and because our friends are mourning, we are mourning along with them and are trying to find meaning in it all. Through our grief it has been hard not to think about our adoption and the loss that we could encounter at the end of our journey with this baby. His birth mom could decide to keep him. We could be doing all of this planning, and To-Do list-checking…for what?  We have been praying for God to help our friends to rest in His perfect and sovereign plan as their family goes through this hard time, and I can’t help but reflect back, why aren’t I resting in His perfect and sovereign plan for MY family? My To-Do list isn’t resting in Him who called us on this journey. And our baby could be home, the busy season long-forgotten, and yet an unsatisfying To-Do list would still remain until I give it all to the Maker of the Universe – I’m pretty sure He could handle it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

My new To-Do List has one item on it: REST in Him. He has afterall, proven to be faithful and has provided for our every need.  Have I mentioned that God gave us a beautiful house to stay in for two weeks while we are in Florida waiting for our legal paperwork to go through? For FREE. Oh, and we’ve been having fun finding a name for our new little boy – it’s so weird for us to actually know that it is a BOY. My dad agreed to let us use his first name as our son’s middle name. We are ecstatic because my dad is awesome and is responsible for so much good in our lives by being a faithful servant to God and to his family. He has blessed us immeasurably, and I know they will be buds. We love that even though our adopted son won’t technically be born of our family, his last AND middle names will bear legacies born from generations of them! As Hayes’ aunt would say: “Genetics don’t make a family. Love does.” Amen! We are still unsure of our son’s first name, we have a few options in mind but are open to suggestions, so please feel free to send them our way if you have any!

And last but certainly not least, God has been faithful to bless my relationship with our son’s birth mother. She called me this week because she “had a rough day and just needed to hear my voice.” We had a conversation I will never forget: about her pregnancy, the demands of life as a college student nearing finals, and how different things will be after the baby is born. I have been so reserved with her up to this point – polite and cordial. This is a very delicate relationship and I need to treat it with a tremendous amount of care.  That night we took a giant step forward – laughing and crying together. I can’t wait to meet her. I always tell her that we pray for her daily and she says, “REALLY?!?” like no one has ever prayed for her before. I pray (you pray too – PLEASE PRAY!) that she sees the love of Jesus through us. God could not have matched us better, and I hope she feels that way too. And even if this adoption fails and his mother decides to keep him, we still have so much to be thankful for. So much to trust God for. So many reasons to rest.

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

It’s a Framer!

imageLast month, Eden and I paid a visit to the craft store to pick out a frame for our gorgeous puzzle. Two weeks later, we got the call: it’s HERE! And it’s amazing. We made sure the glass is double-sided so the next time you pay our house a visit, you can flip it over to see both sides.

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We weren’t sure what to do with that rebellious Lightening McQueen piece as it doesn’t look “right” on the back-side of the puzzle (for more on HOW ON EARTH Lightening McQueen’s puzzle piece could be so rebellious, click here). Hayes had the idea to paint it, just that one piece, so that it will stand out to signify how he (our baby) is the missing piece to our family. Genius.

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We started adding YOUR names to each of the pieces and it is already such a moving physical example of what a beautiful support system our family has – and it’s so far reaching! We have precious co-workers and college friends, play-date buddies and cousins, family and strangers – we are blessed beyond measure and are thrilled to have such an emotionally moving piece of artwork that symbolizes so much love in our home.

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There are many conversations that we anticipate having with our adopted boy. We are already researching the right answers and praying over our words as he grows up curious about where he comes from, and why he looks different from his brother and sister, and (gulp) why his parents gave him up for adoption. We plan to talk about it a lot, throughout his life as each stage progresses and he grows in maturity. But what we love about this puzzle, and are counting on, is to use it as a tool to combat those questions in his heart about his biological identity and explain what GOD had in store for him and HIS eternal purpose and the beautiful people that trusted in HIS plan and supported us along the way. “You have questions about your family? Let’s take a look at this puzzle and read all of the names of the people that helped you become a part of our family.” What a gift! Those conversations don’t seem as scary anymore and I have no doubt that God will be faithful to help us with our words when the time comes. Our gratefulness for your generosity will be appreciated and admired for our son’s entire lifetime. So, with a big sigh, and a tear in my eye, again we we say: “THANK YOU”

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Above his crib!

A few cool stats:

1. Almost 100 of YOU have donated.

2. We demolished our goal of $15,000 this week. REALLY YOU GUYS?

3. It’s not too late to donate…but it almost is. We have a few blank pieces left that we are saving for late donors, so if you still want to give, but keep forgetting to, that’s totally fine! But your window for opportunity is closing – remember we leave in five weeks – maybe even less! EEEEEK!

4. God is good. Allllll the time. And thanks to you and your generosity we are within a comfortable and budgeted for out-of-pocket range. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be able to raise so much in such a short amount of time, but we know that with God (and a few friends!) ALL things are possible (Mark 10:27, Romans 8:28, Phil 4:13).

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An Exciting Delivery

A pretty exciting little box was delivered to our house this afternoon.

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Could it be?!? Already?!?

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Never EVER have I EVER been so ecstatic over a diaper!!!

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But c’mon…how stinkin’ cute are these?!?

Can’t wait to meet you Baby Murray #3!!!

Love,

Your Momma

Our Awkward Phase

It’s been two weeks since our match and honestly we are feeling a bit off. This process is unlike anything we have ever experienced and we have had several moments lately, awkward moments, and different kinds of thoughts, weird thoughts. Excited still – elated even – along with all of those of-course-you-are-feeling-that-way feelings that come with an approaching due date, but it’s still such a weird process and we are right smack in the middle of it.

For example: it’s weird that our baby boy is kicking inside the belly of a woman who is not me. It’s weird that I am feeling very protective of him – I find myself checking the weather in Tallahassee every morning to make sure there isn’t any treacherous weather in his forecast. What else am I going to do? It’s weird that we are RSVP-ing to events and parties and making plans for our family after the adoption is over and we are a family of FIVE. It’s weird to feel the pressure to quickly form a bond with this birth family, thousands of miles away, and assure them that we are committed and over-joyed while at the same time communicating our utmost respect for their feelings and privacy. And what is most weird is that at some point in the next six weeks, we are going to get a call that our new best friend is in labor, pack our bags, drop off our precious children, hop on a plane, drive to a foreign hospital, tell the lady at the front desk…what exactly? Hm…how would you word it? “I’m here to get my baby.” or how about: “I’m here to see my new best friend even though I’ve never actually met her…oh, and I’m going to take her baby.” and if all goes well, leave that hospital approximately three days later with a son, after not experiencing ONE labor pain. It’s ALL JUST SO WEIRD.

Everyone says that adoption is beautiful, and it IS and we have experienced amazing moments, and can see us having even more breath-taking moments like when we hold him for the first time and introduce him to Eden and Wes, but with every journey there is an awkward phase. A pre-teen season of over-thinking, insecurity, and bad hair. We have arrived, my friends. The hair is indeed, very frizzy.

My relationship with my new best friend (let’s just call her NBFF for now) hasn’t been progressing along as quickly as I had hoped – we text every-so often, and she is incredibly sweet and kind, and we even get emails from her mother, who is equally as kind and also HYSTERICAL, but I only have a short amount of time before the birth and want to establish a relationship with her BEFORE the baby gets here. This process for us is just as much about the healing for her as it is about us adding another member to our family.

To solve my problem, I did the thing that I do best: I bought her a present. Gift-giving is my favorite thing to do. I inherited this trait from my mother, the Queen of Gift-Givers (her gifts are legend…wait for it…dary. Hello Ugg rain boots). In my first conversation with my NBFF she told me that our baby has a sweet tooth and craves Samoa Girl Scout cookies (easy!) I chased down one of my friends (whose daughter just so HAPPENS to be the cutest little girl scout) and collected two boxes for her care package (thanks Christina!) I also raided TJMaxx and found a beautiful scarf, a lightly scented candle, and some fun nail polish. She’s going to like it, right? I mean who doesn’t like scarves? Candles? Cookies? My hope is that she will get this box full of goodies and feel comfortable enough with us to respond openly. I also wanted her to know that she is appreciated, and that God loves her and that we are praying for her.  That’s easy enough to convey, so I grabbed my box of blank cards and sat down to write: crap. I know what I want to say, but how am I going to say it? If I say too much, she’s going to think I’m crazy and over-eager, and if I say too little, she’s going to think I’m not committed and don’t care. After a quick prayer, 20 minutes of thought, and three drafts, I sent something that I think is a well-balanced care-a-lot-about-ya-but-not-in-a-creepy-way note to my NBFF.

Weird right? And SO awkward! Never in my life have any of my other BFF’s been so high maintenance…although, some of us DID go through some pretttttty awkward pre-teen phases (ahem Hayes) but look at the beautiful flower he turned out to be?!? We trust that God will follow through, and make this experience every bit as “worth it” as He has promised and these moments of insecurity and awkwardness will be nothing but a distant memory,  much like my hair before Frizz-Ease. Try not to be jealous.

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Pre-Frizz-Ease circ. 2003

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

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