I’m No Good at Resting

May is hours from being over and I’m army crawling across the finish line. I’ve been pretty silent here this month. It’s been hard to put two words together, much less 500 words (other than the 9 page cultural essay that I just mailed off to my adoption agency). My creativity juices were/are low and I was too tired and a little vulnerable to put myself out there this month.

There were many good things that happened this month. I went home for my brother’s graduation. We received the approval letter from USCIS that we had been waiting for so that we could officially announce our referral. We were able to pay for a third of our referral payment and we received new pictures of our beautiful baby girls!

All in that though, I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water emotionally. The day in and day out of the adoption process has been wearing on me (which means it’s been exhausting for my sweet husband too). I’ve found myself believing lies that I once struggled with, but thought I had overcome. I became overwhelmed with anxiety about whether or not we would be able to bring home our little girls. You see, these girls are our third referral. We lost two referrals (4 kids in total) in the months of February and April. I thought I had overcome the worry of losing* this referral as well, but when another hiccup (actually a rumor of a hiccup) surfaced, I was all kinds of crazy.

The truth is that my life isn’t about me. It’s not about what I deserve and how I think my life should play out. I’ve been so RICHLY blessed and I didn’t deserve any of it. God knows every detail of my life. Past. Present. Future.

He knows every detail of the children that He will place in our family. All He calls me to do is to walk obediently with him and to rest in His everlasting love.

I’m not good at resting. It’s become even more evident that I’m not good at it now that I stay home and supposedly have more time to rest. I’m starting to think that through this season, God is revealing something deeper about my drive to always be moving. When our baby girls come home, they will need a momma who is fully resting on the strength of the Lord and fully satisfied in Him so that they can grieve and transition and grow in our home.

refresh book

In a few hours Jason and I are headed away for a weekend of refreshment and connecting. We are both feeling frayed and a bit beat down. So when I heard that Jessi Connolly & Haley Morgan, the co-founders of the Influence Network, were releasing their book called ReFresh today, I snagged that thing like it was going out of style. I’ll be reading this book while we are sitting by the pool tomorrow…and then I will probably read it about 10 more times as I begin the process once again of finding my satisfaction in Jesus and not in all that I can do for myself, my husband, and others.

If you feel like you’ve lost yourself a little and are just plain, old tired, pick up this ebook. It’s $4.99 and I’m sure it will be worth every dollar. And they didn’t ask me to do this, I’m just telling you about it because I have come to love these ladies’ hearts and I know that they desire to encourage and equip all of us ladies to be women who walk in peace and fullness in Jesus.

 

*side-note: when I say losing, I mean that we weren’t able to pursue them for adoption anymore…not a death

Encouraging Links to Start Your Week

 

_DSC0074

This morning I’m thinking back on the belated honeymoon that Jason and I went on one year ago today. Our days spent on Rarotonga Island were some of the most refreshing days I’ve had in years. Today I’m longing for a little bit of that refreshment.

I’ve included some of my favorite blog articles that have encouraged me the past few weeks. Enjoy these over an afternoon cup of coffee…

12 Things Your Daughter Needs You to Say  by Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky. I don’t have daughters yet, but this was just what I needed to hear for myself.

And another from Emily Freeman…because I’ve fallen in love with her writing One Thing You Daughter Doesn’t Need You to Say

Around the World by Tsh Oxenreider over at Simple Mom. This would be so fun to do…I may put it on our bucket list.

The Life of a Possible Pirate by Melanie Shankle at Big Mama. She makes me literally laugh out loud (and maybe snort). You should check out her new book too. I’m hoping to have a book review on it soon.

It’s Ok to Not be Ok by Arienne at the (in)courage blog.

And if you want a summer reading list…Head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy to subscribe and get a list of hundreds of books you could read this summer!

That’s all for today! I hope that you all enjoy a beautiful Memorial Day and spend some time thanking God for the men and women who defend and protect our country!

Fundraising is Hard: AdoptTogether

_DSC2057

Fundraising is hard.

I’ve been fundraising in some sort of capacity since I was 18 years old. I fundraised to spend two summers in Colorado with a college ministry called the Navigators. I also fundraised for a missions trip to Namibia (South-west Africa) in college. Three years after graduation I went back into the fundraising world to raise support to go on full-time staff with the Navigators at the University of Northern Iowa.

Each time is was hard. Each time God provided more than enough.

As Jason and I start another season of fundraising, I am feeling a little anxious about asking others again. My heart continually reminds me of how much He has provided for us already in this adoption, but my head has a hard time wrapping my mind around the numbers. I have days when I completely believe that God will use His people to give two beautiful girls a home and then I have days of doubt and I fear the unknown.

On days that I doubt and fear, I remember this passage from Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” God has already given me all that I need in Christ and He will not leave me alone in this struggle, even though it feels so lonely at times.

Another passage that I remember as I am asking people to once again support Jason and I in our adoption is that everything under the heavens already belongs to God and when we give, we are just giving Him back what was His. King David says in 1 Chronicles 29: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you…. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.”

So here I am, asking you to prayerfully consider helping Jason & I complete the fundraising process. In the next three months, we will need to cover the cost of $20,000 for foreign fees and interim care for our sweet girls. After that all that we will have left is travel fees and our final payment to our agency. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us? We will need small donations and big donations, so anything will help. Please don’t think that your $10 or $20 donation is a drop in the hat, it speaks volumes to me as a mommy-to-be that people are behind us. (We won’t say no to big donations either, though :))

The benefit of this season of fundraising is that we finally have a tax-deductible option for you to give!! We have partnered with a great organization called AdoptTogether and they are willing to host us on their website. You can go to our website page HERE to read our story and donate*. You can donate using your debit or credit card instantly on the website (there is an option to give an extra percentage to the organization, but that is not required) or you can send a check to them with Jason and Sarah Wood in the memo and on the envelope at

AdoptTogether
251 W. Central Ave #278
Springboro, OH 45066

Thank you for your investment of prayer, finances and support in our family and God’s Kingdom purposes. We are so grateful for the friends, family and community God has given us. We could not be on this journey without you!

_DSC2126

(*Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.)

AND WE ARE HAVING….

Girls!!

Those sweet hands will be holding ours soon!

Those sweet hands will be holding ours soon!

We have been holding this in for almost 6 weeks now! After we received our 171H letter in the mail last week-a huge wave of relief swept over me! We can now let the world know that we will be a mommy and daddy to two beautiful girls!

It was a hard road to get to this point. And it’s still a long road ahead of us. Right now, though, we are celebrating the gift God has given us in the hope that our daughters will be home with us soon. I was able to share the news with my family this weekend and finally show off their darling faces. I won’t be able to share pictures on social media until they come home for security reasons. 

The girls are roughly 2 & 1 years old. Here on the blog we will call them baby G & baby M. Our hope is that they will be home by this time next year. I know that for many of you that seems like a long time, but the reasons behind it are necessary and important.

Right now here are our most important prayer requests:

  • Pray for Baby G & M’s health and safety during the time they are in foster care
  • Pray for a quick court process this summer so that we can become their legal guardians in Africa
  • Pray that God will provide the remaining $20,000 for acceptance of this referral (we have a tax deductible way for you to give now…stay tuned for more info on Friday)
  • Pray that Jason and I would continue to rest in the peace of God as we wait to unite our family

Monday Morning Thoughts

I’m back from a whirlwind of a week in Iowa!

IMG_0932

Beautiful Iowa Countryside

Whew! Last week was wonderful, emotional, and BUSY! Props to my mom and dad for living this crazy life of soccer, baseball, show choir, jazz band, and every other imaginable activity with each of their 4 kids! And Congrats in being done with it! I’m sure that this will be quite the transition for them as they say good-bye to their youngest son come this Fall as he heads to college.

IMG_0909

IMG_0911

It’s the start of my graduation week…What?!?

And props to my baby brother for graduating with such honors! He is an amazing guy…if you ever meet him you will love him instantly. He’s the most caring 18 year old young man I have ever met. And he’s pretty dang smart! I mean he got a full ride (tuition) to AIB (American Institute of Business)! I think he only slightly understands the importance of not having that debt after college…but soon he will understand and I am THRILLED for him!

This past week, I spent more time on a bench than I have in a long time and my back and hamstrings still throb from it! My mom and I went to three soccer games last week to watch my brother goal keep and my dad coach the Albia Blue Demons (I know..the name is a little much). I was able to go to Parent’s Night and attend the awards night for the soccer team. Watching my dad give his son the Most Valued Defender award was emotional! Seeing my dad choke up as he talked about coaching his son for his whole life was almost too much for my heart. When he shared with the audience “I always tell people that if Gabe wasn’t my son, I would wish that he was”, I could see every other parent head nod their in agreement and my heart about fell apart. Maybe it’s because we are about to become parents that I was so emotional but I think it was because I love my family so much too…

IMG_0910

This is the hard part of living so far away from home. I left home when Gabe was just 8. I didn’t get to see a lot of his development into the man that he is now. I have lots of memories of him being the joyful, carefree little boy that would dance down the aisles of grocery stores and break out in song any chance he had. The funny thing is…he still does that. And I love him so much for it!

IMG_0935

Look at that sweet, smiley boy!

I was also able to hang out with my sisters this weekend and we all worked hard on getting the house ready for Gabe’s graduation party. It was fun to look through pictures with them and remember all of the fun times we spent as a family throughout the years. The cleaning part was okay too… 🙂

IMG_0947 IMG_0938

My favorite memory of the weekend would be sitting under the stars with Katie, Mom, Dad, & Jason talking and listening to the frogs croak after the graduation ceremony on Saturday night. We finally were able to relax after a full week of preparation.

My parents are about to embark on a new journey of being kidless & having some other major changes in their lives. I’m excited for what the future holds for them!

IMG_0956

Jason had quite the introduction to small town life this weekend! I didn’t prepare him well for the Senior Awards Night on Friday night…maybe on purpose! The night is to honor and award Seniors with scholarships and accolades for finishing this season of their life. It lasted over 2.5 hours and there are only 75 graduates this year! Everyone in town seems to have a scholarship to award to the graduates. It’s a good thing, but it was a LONG night for a guy who flew all day!

IMG_0977

He’s a high school graduate! Yay!

Gabe spoke at graduation. He was the first and only Gravert to speak at his graduation and he did an amazing job! I had to pinch myself a few times because I still can’t believe this baby brother of mine has grown up!

On Sunday, the church held a special service for the graduates. This was potentially the most emotional service for our family. Gabe was highly involved in the youth program and as we watched him perform his last song with his friends, tears flowed freely. I’m so excited for his future and I know that the best is ahead for him, but all I could see while he sang was the little boy who was a ham in every single church program. And when he started crying as he sang…there was no hope!

IMG_0978

It was a good weekend. It was a hard weekend. And I’m so thankful to have been home during Gabe’s last week as a senior. As I said before, Gabe’s best years are ahead of him.

Thank You, Mom

Happy first day of being a mom!

Ann Voskamp wrote a post earlier this week about how mother’s day is for the birds. I love how she described motherhood:

“Motherhood isn’t sainthood and we’re all a bunch of sinners here and don’t let anyone tell you any different — pushing something out of your womb doesn’t make you a better woman. Real Womanhood isn’t a function of becoming a great mother, but of being loved by your Great Father. Someone write that on a card with a bouquet of flowers. We all need that.”

Isn’t that true? It doesn’t matter what our title is or whether or not we are mothers, the only way that we can truly thrive & survive this life is through the great love of our Heavenly Father. My mom displayed  this picture of real womanhood to me. It’s not by your title of “Mom”, “Wife”, or “Worker”-it’s who we are in Christ.

28 years ago, my mom celebrated her first mother’s day with a tiny babe in her arms (me) and I’m sure she was overwhelmed by the thought of caring for this tiny little person. The thoughts and dreams of what I was going to be like and how were my dad and her going to parent this child and the question of whether they would ever sleep again ran through their minds often, I’m sure.

wedding9

Today, I look to next year with hope that our daughters* will be home with us and we can share in those feelings of fear, excitement, and newness.  I also look back to when I was a child and how mom cared for me. I remember cookies baking, trips to the park, bike rides, Sunday afternoon car rides, sleeping at volleyball practice, countless books read by her, kisses goodnight, and back rubs when I couldn’t sleep. I remember mom teaching me how to sew in 7th grade. I remember her at every single volleyball game, basketball game, track meet, play, speech performance, band performance and countless other activities I was in (sorry for being so busy mom…). I remember hugging her good-bye as they left me in my college dorm room. I remember telling her about Jason and how I thought that he was the “one” and how she said that she thought so too.

IMG_0544

As motherhood draws near for me I have been thinking more about my mom’s role in my life.Without her even knowing she has taught me that to be a mom is to daily practice the sacrifice of your wants and desires for the sake of your child. A child will never say “good job mom!” or “thanks for wiping my bottom”. Daily a mom’s job is to comfort, feed, teach, forgive, and serve…always serving. It can be decades into the job before you hear a “thanks mom for all you did”.

My mom taught me to live with the end in mind. She knew that the importance of investing the time, the prayer, and the never-ending discipline (also known as teaching your oldest daughter that you show love to your sisters though hugging, not hitting). Both my parents prayed that those countless hours of sacrificial love would pay off in dividends when we left home.

Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it Prov. 22:6

Mom-I hope you know that I have grown into the woman I am today because of your sacrifice, your blood, sweat and tears and because you lived with the end in mind. Thank you for showing me how to be a mom, more than that-thank you for showing me that real womanhood is being loved by my Heavenly Father.

Now we're all here...ready to cause trouble!

Now we’re all here…ready to cause trouble!

All grown up...time sure does fly by

All grown up…time sure does fly by

*hopefully more to share on that subject soon 🙂