Category Archives: prayer

adoption update

after the decision to adopt, we found an agency and went to an information meeting.  at that meeting we listened to the agency talk about the different types of adoption, what to expect, time lines and next steps.

going in we knew that we wanted to do domestic adoption (adoption in the US) and after that meeting we knew that was still what we wanted to pursue.  a few days after the meeting and after we processed the information we were given, we emailed our caseworker and told him to send us a preliminary application.  i will be honest, i don’t remember a lot about that application.  i know we had to put some of our information down and i think our history (as far as why we want to adopt).  we sent that back in (with a check to cover our informal application) and our caseworker called and set up a meeting.
at that meeting, he gave us our formal application and a book of other paperwork that would have to be completed with our formal application.  all of that paperwork is considered part of our homestudy (screening of our home and us through paperwork, as well as interviews).  once we had our book of paperwork, we started working on it.
 in our paperwork we had a formal application, additional questions, personal statement of faith (which was hard to write despite having direct questions), statement of intent (that we planned on adopting and that if our family status changed we would notify them), fingerprinting instructions, background check information, IRS forms (past 3 years), financial worksheet, credit check release form, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, health insurance form, employer reference letters (for each of us), family reference letters (one from each family), friend reference letters (total of 3), medical exam report, family history data, self study (SAFE questionnaire – state mandated), family info sheet (non identifying information for the family), letters to birth parents (which was one of the hardest things), openness questionnaire (which i will go into more detail later), discipline policy statement (we can’t spank or anything until the adoption is finalized), triad release form, and our reading requirement checklist (we have to read 3-4 books).
once we got our packet of paperwork, we started going through all of it.  most of it was just simply trying to get documents together and making copies to send in.  we did that first.  then we had to work on answering questions and filling out forms.  we were able to get a lot of it done very quickly and send it in (with a check for our formal application).
this would be a good time to note that no one really knew that we were going to adopt at this time – including our families.  we didn’t want to say anything yet (mostly because of my perceptions at the time and because we wanted to be further along in the process).  one of the things i worried about was that when someone announces that they are pregnant there is a time line (9 months) and then the baby is here.  i feared that if we said something when we first went to that meeting that people would be tired of hearing about it (especially since we didn’t know how long the paperwork process would take and since we have no idea how quickly we will be chosen).  as stupid as it sounds, i didn’t think it was fair to our baby to say anything too soon because i feared that the excitement would be gone because of the longer than 9 month wait time and that by the time we were chosen people would be rolling their eyes saying “about time, thank goodness they can stop talking about it now.”  isn’t that weird?  it wasn’t about us, but more for the baby.  i guess since it will be a different story of how they came to be with us – i wanted them to have some sense of normalcy when we talk about it and tell them that people were excited that they came to the family.
with the letter to the birth parents we had strict rules about what we could and couldn’t put in there.  we couldn’t put anything that would help identify us (like the name of places we work, name of town, our last names, church name, etc).  they gave us ideas of what to include and we wrote our letters.  the weirdest thing to me was writing to someone i have never met and trying to tell them about myself being as vaguely detailed as possible, all the while trying to say what is from my heart about being a mom – hoping that they pick me and that my heart felt comments don’t change their mind to keep their baby.  that is one of the weirdest feelings i have ever had.
openness questionnaire: questionnaire of what we are open to as far as situations and how open we want to be with the birth parents.  in this questionnaire we had 3 answers: yes, no, and willing to consider.  it asked us specific questions like boy or girl?  we said either.  it asked us if we would meet with the expectant parents before placement.  yes.  how open will you be after the baby is placed?  we said willing to consider different options.  it went through several scenarios about the birth parents and their history.  we put willing to consider on a lot of things because if you put a definite ‘no,’ you could be overlooked.  we prayed and decided that we would take each scenario as it comes up and go from there.  we didn’t want to limit ourselves.
we got to a place where one of the only things we lacked were our references.  we realized we would have to ask our references before we just put them down so we asked them (2 family, 3 friend, 2 employer, 1 pastoral) and begged them to keep our secret for a little while longer.
we mailed the paperwork in and waited (story of our lives).  we waited and waited and waited and finally got tired of waiting so we emailed our social worker and asked if we were missing any paperwork.  he said yes. all of it.  so we told him when we mailed it and he finally e mailed stating that he had our paperwork, but that someone put it on the wrong desk so we had been waiting for almost 6 weeks for nothing.  but he went through the paperwork and we had to do a few more things that hadn’t been included, and waited a little more.  about 2 weeks passed and andy e mailed him to make sure everything was still ok.  we got an auto response that he was no longer with the company and gave us the name of our new caseworker.  i emailed her (in a panic) and she responded very quickly, which was great for my nerves.
we mailed our second packet of paperwork while we were at the beach.
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we had a state mandated training that lasted an entire day.  i had to ask off and luckily my boss knew by this point so i didn’t have to fabricate some story with her why i needed a day off.  at that meeting we listened to people who have adopted, a birth mother presenting her story, and two people (16 year old and 50 ish year old) that had been adopted.  we met other people that were in the midst of the adoption process.
after that we had to schedule our interviews.  couples interview was first.  it was stressful.  we met with our local caseworker and had to fill out another SAFE questionnaire (state mandated) and we weren’t allowed to sit near each other or talk while we were doing it.  it had questions on there about personal experiences / family history / our relationship.  we talked to the caseworker about our lives and she asked a lot of questions.  after a while she closed her notebook that she wrote everything down in and told us to call in a few weeks so we can set up the individual interviews.
we set up the individual interviews on the same day as each other so that we could ride together.  i went first because i thought i was going to throw up if i had to wait.  she pulled out the two SAFE questionnaires.  there is some sort of grading scale on those and we had to talk about the ones that were red flags for her .  one of the questions that we talked about was that i put that we witnessed an act of violence.  (it was a domestic violence thing in the neighborhood years ago).  i explained it and she made notes.  another thing she asked me about was i checked that i had alcohol before lunch or during work hours.  i explained that i had a mimosa on a few occasions at bridal showers and weddings.  she wrote things down.  she asked about my family and had me clarify some answers.  she flipped through the rest of the paperwork and asked more questions (that have escaped me) and then it was andy’s turn.  he went into the room and i was just as nervous.  i was nervous that he wouldn’t answer something the way i would/did.  he was in there for what seemed like hours (maybe 40 minutes) and then came out.  we left and compared notes.  it looked like we passed!
next came the home visit (this is not the same thing as the home study – but is part of the home study.  this is where they actually come to the house and look around).  i was nervous about this too.  we cleaned the house from top to bottom.  under beds, in all cabinets, in all closests.  we had to lock some of our cabinets to prove that we wouldn’t let our baby drink bleach.  we had to test all the smoke detectors and had to show that we had a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.  we also had to show that otis wouldn’t eat a child.  the caseworker came out and into our perfectly clean house and we sat at the table and went over our paperwork one last time.  she explained the financial agreement.  she petted otis and he jumped on the couch and went straight to sleep.  we gave her our homestudy fee.  she walked around the house and looked at everything she needed to.  she told us she would write up our home study and would let us know when it was done.
several weeks went by and we got an e mail and a letter in the mail stating that we had been approved and that we were officially a waiting family (family that has been approved but is waiting to be picked by a birth mother). 
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we had to put together a photo book of our family, friends and lives for an expectant parent to look at if we matched their qualities.  it took hours and days of putting it together.  this is basically the thing that the mother will look at to pick us.  we tried to put pictures in there of all our family members so that they could see who we belong to.  we put in there pictures of vacations and things that we have done.  we had a page of otis so they would know we had a beagle.  we put in there a page of farm and cows and a page of the donkeys and horses.  we tried to put together a book that captured who we were so that someone looking at it would have a good idea of if they wanted their child to live with us.  it was very hard.  at the state mandated training we heard stories of how certain pictures led the birth family to pick the adopted family.  for example: one couple was picked because in one of the photos the husband had on a college hat and sweatshirt of the birth father’s favorite team.  another was picked because they included photos of their doberman dogs and the birth mother had two dobermans when she was a child and loved them.  another family was picked because in one of the pictures they had on camouflage and it reminded the birth mother of the times her and her brother went hunting with her dad.  so with each picture we tried to choose pictures that would be interesting but not threatening.  for example: at the farm, we included pictures of us on the outside of the gate (to show how safe we are) and inside the fence (to show that we love the animals and will allow chances to be close to them).  we included otis as a puppy to show how long we have had him and as an adult to show that he is still spoiled.  on the inside of the book we included our birth parent letters.   we had to order 5 books and were so happy with the results.  we turned them in and our books are available for birth mothers to view!
now that we have all of our paperwork in and our books completed there is nothing more to do than to wait and pray.  we go to waiting family meetings (where we learn different things and have a support system).  we pray constantly for our future child, for the other waiting families, and for the family that will be giving us the chance at our own family.
we are still raising money for the adoption.  we have paid 1/3 already up front and are still trying to get the rest.  we have been selling things on bossy donkey company and we made some jelly and sold that.  we have been looking at grants and will be sending applications for those in the next few weeks.  we have to have all of the money up front.  when we go to the hospital to pick up our baby once we are chosen, we have to pay the balance on our account.  since we could have months or only hours notice we are trying to get the financial part taken care of.
now that we have moved, we will have to do an update…but we don’t have to have it done yet so we are holding off for a little while longer.  we have the nursery room picked out and ready to be completed.  we have talked about colors and designs for that room but for now we haven’t done anything – it is a blank slate.  (we have already put some things in the closet – books and stuffed animals and some other things that we have been collecting for a while).  we have talked about names for boys, girls and twins.  we are a family of 3 (including otis) and we have talked about what it will be like to be a family of 4 or 5.  we have talked about getting twins and how that would be.  we have talked about day cares and vacations.  we have dreamed of holding our baby and bringing them home.  right now that is all that we have – the dream that our prayers will be answered.

part 3 of 4: the inconsolable soul – numbness

Sorrow is knowledge, those that know the most must mourn the deepest, the tree of knowledge is not the tree of life. – Lord Bryon

i took my break.  i told andy that we would get through the summer and reevaluate our situation.  andy agreed.  i went through stages of intense crying and apologizing.  the more tears that fell and the more i said i was sorry, the more i realized how much i was hurting andy.  i did my best to hide the tears from him.  i cried a lot in the shower.  i took really long and really hot showers.  the noise covered the sobs and i was able to have my outlet and andy didn’t have to watch me cry –  again.

those five months of intense treatment were catching up with me.  i was able to process what happened because while it was going on things happened too fast and really left no time for coping with each failed treatment.  i was able to analyze our movements and our numbers.  i was able to reflect.  i cried a lot.  i would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and the realization would hit me.  i would roll over and cry into my pillow while andy slept beside me.  sometimes he would wake up enough to roll over and pull me close.  i was able to breathe and i started putting my life and my soul back together.
i was off pretty much all of the medicines and i felt myself slowly coming back.  i could look in a mirror and see the life coming back to my eyes and feel a little bit more like myself.  no more hot flashes.  unfortunately my hair stayed a frizzy fluff ball.
during infertility treatments, timing is obviously everything.  because of that timing and the type of infertility treatments we were doing, we quickly learned that spontaneity and intimacy were gone – just bury it in the back yard.

dealing with infertility is very much like dealing with the stages of grief: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  i guess because in a way, it is a loss. it is real, heart breaking, soul shattering grief.

denial/isolation:

we dealt with this early on.  maybe not the denial part because all of this was pretty hard to deny!  but the isolation part really hit us. we found that being around certain people hurt more and if we controlled that, it seemed that life hurt less.  it wasn’t that we thought that we could cause the pain to cease to exist, but we thought sparing one ounce of hurt would break our hearts less.

with the group of 4 couples, in a way, you could say that we isolated ourselves when i sent that letter asking for space.  we were told that nothing would change and that i was wrong for insinuating that things would change.  whether we want to admit it or not, life experiences like marriages and pregnancy will change group dynamics.  it might not be intentional but those changes will happen. when we noticed those changes within our group, we slowly withdrew to allow even more space (for them as well as us) and unfortunately after a while of declining invitations, we stopped getting them all together.  i tried to stay in touch with people individually sending private messages when life happened (birthday’s, Christmas, death in the families, etc), but after a year or so, i was told that “it is kind of obvious that you don’t want anything to do with us” and was asked to stop sending birthday wishes and Christmas cards.  at the end of the day, i still try to keep up with our group of 4 couples through other people or personal messages sometimes.  in isolating ourselves we didn’t stop the hurt because that came even when we were in a room alone, but it dimmed it just a little and that little bit helped.

Anger:

anger was the biggest obstacle for me.  i was angry at myself and i was angry at God.  there were times i was angry at andy but those times faded quickly and i placed the blame and anger back on myself.  this anger was present from the emergency room visit and escalated into a rage over the course of the year.  my anger was directed at myself and i replayed everything in my life, wondering at what point my ovaries stopped working and asking myself what if.  what if i knew what was going on before we got married?  what if i did something wrong to cause them to stop working right?  what if?  i was lost in a world of ‘what could i have done’ – i wasn’t just lost, but consumed by it.  i looked in the mirror at my reflection with hate and couldn’t wrap my mind around why andy didn’t have the same glare when he looked at me.

**I am writing this knowing that some people may be upset by my perception of this, but this is how i felt in the moment.  feelings that are still very raw for me.**

most of my anger was directed at God.  i was pissed.  it wasn’t fair to me that we were “faithful people” that prayed, but i felt like we were being punished.  i felt like if i had done something better in my life, or with my life, maybe things would be different.  that maybe if i had been a better person, God would have allowed my ovaries to be good.  it wasn’t fair.  each and every day i was reminded of how unfair life was when i turned on the news and saw women killing their babies.  or women strung out on drugs getting pregnant in the blink of an eye.  when people who didn’t want those babies got them so easily and i wanted one so bad, i was willing to put myself mentally and physically to hell and back.  it wasn’t fair and i blamed God.

my faith, that had been pretty rock solid growing up, was spread thin.  really thin.  almost transparent.  i was really questioning why i believe what i do.  i was questioning if i still believed.  i was questioning if faith was real and if God was real.  i was searching for answers and couldn’t get past my thoughts that if God allowed this to happen to us, or made this happen to us, was this the God that i wanted to believe in.  i wanted to believe in a passionate, caring God that cares for his people.  with all the heartache, i couldn’t feel him caring.  i could no longer feel his presences in the wind.  i could no longer feel his arms around me in an invisible hug.  when i needed to understand why and feel God the most, i couldn’t.  not only was i abandoned by my ovaries and my hopes of being a mother, but God left me too.

i searched for him in all the places that i could look – if I was going to be enraged with him, i wanted to feel him because that meant he was near and that he could feel me.   if he could feel me, then i could inflict pain back to him like he was doing to me and andy.

we went to church each sunday.  sometimes i didn’t want to go, but i went.  i wanted my faith to be strong again.  i wanted people to ask me why bad things happen to good people and be able to rely on my faith for an answer – not bitterness attacking God.  i went to church.  the place that i should have felt God without question.  i was wrong.  i felt love from the people that went to the church and in hindsight, i could feel God in those people, but i couldn’t see that at the time.  but i couldn’t see or feel God from the pulpit.  i was sitting there each week wanting to see God and instead was yelled at and told that i was going to hell because i wasn’t singing.  lets face it, i don’t sing well.  i don’t.  i am not going to act like i do.  if i do sing, usually i sing quietly.  but to be told before each song that i had to sing, made me mad.  so now, not only did God give me bad ovaries but God gave me a crappy singing voice.  and now, apparently, i am going to hell.  it wasn’t a picture of the God i wanted to believe in.

maybe it was because i was already so critical of God and so angry at God, but i felt like all of the sermons were based on God hating some group, or telling me that i wasn’t good enough in God’s eyes.  that isn’t what i needed or wanted to hear.  what i needed to hear was that we are all broken and that even in our brokenness, we were still made in God’s image.  that faith goes beyond our understanding, our dreams and our needs. that faith pushes us to be better, to get better and to get beyond.  i needed to hear that God loved me, not that he was judging me.  i needed to hear that God’s grace rained down over me when tears poured down my face.  to let go of the anger, to be at peace and to give myself grace.  i needed to hear that it was ok to be angry at God as long as i kept talking to him.  i needed a place i could go on sundays to escape all of my negative feelings that i had during the week and to feel God.  i needed to hear about the God that i grew up believing in that was compassionate and loving.  that is what i needed to hear.

during all of this, i was working with a youth group.  it was through them that my faith flickered.  i surrounded my heart in ice to protect me from any more disappointment and it was those youth that started chipping away at that ice.  i latched onto those kids as if they were my own because, in a way, they were – and will always be.  they made me laugh and, for a moment, my anger would fade and i would laugh.  they made me so very proud.  they played sports and instruments and we tried to support them outside of church.  they took an active role in participating and they put up with me. they allowed me to interrogate their friends and, in their own way, would ask for advice.  they would ask questions and discuss faith questions.  their blunt honesty put an new spin on the faith that i was trying so desperately to reconnect with.  on a sunday, they were my sanity.  they were my angels that kept me from getting so lost in the darkness that i didn’t want to come back.

it was during this time that i learned of several other friends having infertility issues.  i made it a point to reach out to them.  with one in particular, we made it a point to go to dinner and be away from it all.  just a girls date night.  during dinner, we would take a few minutes to catch up.  we would fill each other in on life as we knew it.  there was always that moment where our laughter died down and we looked at each other.  the subject of infertility would come up.  she would ask what was new and i would fill her in on our story and  i would ask her how she was doing.  i leaned on her and still do.

in my anger at myself, our situation and at God, we decided to keep a lot of our story to ourselves.  it was too raw to really talk to most people about it because a lot of people just didn’t understand.  it was too hard to be able to admit how broken i really was.  how to admit that the vision that i had instilled in my own mind was unraveling.  how to admit that i was mad at God. we wanted to be able to control who had what information because, after all, it was our story to tell.  it was also too hard to deal with the look of pity.  people say that look doesn’t exist, but it does.  i was at a funeral and someone came up to me and gave me that look.  i said hello and she grabbed both of my arms and said “i am so sorry.”  i knew that she was genuinely sorry for us and meant what she said, but for starters, she should have never known – someone gave her information that she should have never known.  secondly, that look of pity – that look of, ‘i know what you can’t do.’  i know that you can’t create a family for your husband.  i know that you are broken beyond belief.  we also didn’t want people to know because we had hoped that treatment would work.  we hoped that if we kept it to ourselves, we would be able to “announce” a pregnancy to the world instead of having everyone know when our iuis were and knowing when the pregnancy test would be.  since it was based on timing, it wouldn’t have taken too long to figure out and we didn’t need the added stress of people knowing when to expect good news or bad news.

another thing that made me angry were people taking their pregnancies and their children for granted.  it wasn’t that it just made us angry, but that it shattered us into a million pieces.  we would have been thrilled and we worked so hard for it and nothing.  one of my friends told me that she was nervous that i would be upset at her when she told me that she was pregnant.  i will admit that my heart skipped a beat, but at the same time, i was overjoyed for her.  my only request was that she know how lucky she was and how fortunate she was to have this life growing inside her – to take the good and the bad and embrace it.

bargaining:

i bargained a little bit i guess.  i told God that if he allowed me to just have one baby i would do better.  i asked him what it would take.  i prayed and begged.  when i was home alone on saturdays (because andy was in school), i cleaned.  i would put my headphones in and listen to ‘doubting thomas’ by nicklecreek over and over while i cleaned and prayed.  i would sing  scream the lyrics hoping that it would help me move past the bitterness and the anger.  i would scream the lyrics and start crying hysterically listening to those words.  the words that were very much who i was.  i often found myself in the laundry room with my back against the washer sobbing.  i often found myself in the most normal situations sobbing – completely broken.  i don’t know if it was all the medicines coming out of my system or just every once in a while the reality hit me like a ton of bricks.  i didn’t bargain for long because it got me nowhere.

depression:

when the anger faded, sadness filled the void.  i don’t think that we ever went into depression.  we were sad – yes, of course.  but we weren’t depressed.  we wanted to act like nothing was wrong and sometimes we could, but the truth was that it hurt.  there were some days that we couldn’t get cereal from certain stores because that aisle shared the diaper aisle and that was just asking too much.  i remember going to the store to get one thing and decided we needed poptarts.  i was in a hurry, grabbed them and when i turned around, i was looking at baby food.  i started crying in the middle of aisle 8.  we had good days and we had bad days.  we were very honest with each other about this.  all it took was “this isn’t a good day” and we knew what we needed to do to help the other one out.

acceptance:

i am going to get off topic right now and say that i have never liked this last stage of grief.  because i don’t believe that acceptance is really the end result.  i feel like with each loss (in the situation of a person passing away or the loss of dreams and hopes) there is no real end.  i think that you move beyond the first stages and you enter a stage of “mostly ok.”  it isn’t that you fully accept the situation but that you move past the rest.  acceptance is such a strong word.

the thing about grief is that it sneaks up on you.  even when you feel like you have gotten past the first four stages and move into the fifth and once you feel like you get through the fifth stage, there are triggers that will take you back through all the phases again.  the stages might move a little faster and don’t take as much time to process them through to the next, but all of those stages resurface.

since the word is acceptance, we have accepted a few things.  we have accepted that even in our own personal grief, we can still have joy.  joy for other people and joy for ourselves.  we have accepted that even though we were thrown unwillingly into the infertility club, that we will survive.  we have accepted that other people are going to take things for granted and our feelings will be hurt.  we have accepted that people will unknowingly ask us why we don’t have children.  we have accepted that people will ask us questions about when we are going to get pregnant.  we have accepted that even in the depths of the darkest place we have ever been, the world will continue on around us, regardless of our grief and loss of what could have been.

I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it. – Kristin Arstrong

a tractor, a limb, and a farmer…

what might sound like the beginning of either the best joke in the world or the worst is a story worth telling…

let me warn you by saying some of the photos are a little graphic and not for the really weak stomach.  (andy was able to look at them so most people should be fine other than the GROSS comment when you see them).

also as a side note with my family we joke a lot.  sometimes I think it is to eliminate awkward moments and to ease tension but this is how we deal with stressful situations so don’t judge me…

on march 8th andy and I had plans to go to Kingsport to do some shopping and so that andy could get his hair cut.  we decided at the last-minute to go to the farm and check on my babies.  on the way to the farm we pass my grandmother’s house and as we did we saw a tractor with the bucket lifted all the way up and a man standing in the bucket with a chainsaw.  there were several men on the ground holding a rope that was attached to a limb.  I did a double take and told andy to pull in because it was my dad.  (this is the don’t judge me part – because I really do feel bad I made these comments) I told him to pull in so that I could get a picture for life insurance policy proof.  we chuckled and missed the drive way.  we decided to go on to the farm but something inside me (and andy confirmed in him too) said to turn around and go back.  we made a loop and went through a field and I made a second comment that I didn’t see him in the bucket and I hoped that he didn’t fall out.  we pulled into the driveway and a guy came running over to us saying we needed to pull the car over to the group of people because someone broke something.  I walked over and andy drove over and we found my dad leaning against the tractor holding his boot, with scratches on his neck.  we loaded him up and went to the er.  we got him checked in and made him pose for pictures with his arm band.  (he still looks like trouble even waiting on the er).

dad hospital

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the good news is that he thought he broke his ankle.  he didn’t.  but the bad news is he crushed his heel.  they splinted it and told him to get an appt when he got back home to see a surgeon.  the next morning he noticed blisters.

dad foot 1

(gross I know).  he went to the er when he got back home and they re-wrapped it and scolded my parents for unwrapping it to begin with.  they got an appt with a surgeon that does ankles and heels and was told they needed to see someone who only does heels and ankles.  they finally got in with the right doctor and he was not happy.  he stated that this type of injury needs to be taken to surgery within 48 hours of it happening.  and they were almost 3 weeks out.

dad foot

just gets better and better doesn’t it?!  after much discussion they decided not to risk surgery since it was a little late to be doing it.  the road to recovery will be long but it is what it is.  they had to cancel going to Bristol and going to fl but dad is doing good on his crutches and his scooter.  he is adapting to being non weight baring for 2 entire months and maybe more.  he is thankful that his new chainsaw didn’t get hurt when he had the forethought to toss it away from everyone when he was knocked out.  we are thankful that he wasn’t hurt worse (and that we have some gross pictures to share).

so when a farmer is in a tractor and gets knocked out by a limb…the important part to pass on to all of your family and friends is that a heel injury is not the same as a normal broken bone.  if you ever have one of those injuries as them to call in a consult for a heel specialist.  don’t let them send you away with the standard answer of swelling has to go down for surgery!

purpose

i am not sure if this was the intended purpose of my blog…but it has shown me how terrible i am at trying to blog and keeping my brain focused.  i have been really evaluating my purpose with this blog.  i look at some of my favorite blogs (friends and unknown people) and i have been trying to figure it all out.  one friend blogs about food and recipes (she is an amazing writer and inserts stories that make her recipes even better).  several are health related (about the illnesses that the different subjects go through).  some are about journeys of bringing home a child from another country (adoption).  some are just about the rants of daily living and updates on life.

so i have been trying to decide what is my purpose?  do i have one?  in the beginning my purpose was shockingly still very fuzzy.  i wanted to have a place to “journal” big things that were happening (if you recall that was when we thought we might be moving to arkansas) and so it was the start of keeping a records for myself on what was going on.  then i started thinking it would be a great place for family and friends to be kept in the loop so if it was a semi generic question they could check the blog and see if they could find an answer.  once i had that great thought and typed an e mail to friends and family to say look at this awesome blog i realized that i didn’t think it was awesome.  i was self conscious about my writing and about my topics and about just everything involved so i deleted that email and decided to hide the blog and go back to just a journal.  when we moved to tn i shared the blog with a few people who i knew wouldn’t make fun of me and went from there.  my confidence built a tad to where i shared with a few more people and even still it hasn’t been shared with some friends and family because i still am so very self conscious.  i feel like things that i am blogging about are pointless and not worthy of anyone to take time out and read (i mean my husband doesn’t even read my blog so if he doesn’t it must be a waste of time right?).

this leads me to my original thought about this post…what is the purpose?  why should i or shouldn’t i blog?  what do people care enough about to want to read?  after weeks of contemplating just letting the idea of blogging go (because let’s be honest i am not the best at remembering to blog or the best at content – at best i am mediocre in everything blog related) i have decided that maybe once in my life something doesn’t really need a purpose.  maybe for once i can not have something so planned out to where i am disappointed if it falls through.

so in conclusion this blog has no purpose.  it is a place where i can get on my soapbox and rant and don’t have to worry about falling off.  a place where i can post random pictures and talk about the farm and anything else.  a place i can wish people (who may or may not ever see this) a happy birthday or a congratulations or get well.  a place that is mine.  a place that i hope to one day – even without a purpose – it will make a difference to someone.

rambling thoughts: clouds storms and long drives

a smell, sight, touch, or sound can take me down memory lane in a heart beat.  or hearing a phrase that makes me think of things from the past can take me back.  sometimes it is a time of year that sends me tumbling off the trail with former memories.  these certain things put me on a path of wild and random (sometimes incoherent) thinking and i play the what was and what is and what if and what’s to come game.  sometimes my brain feels like a little hamster running on the wheel you think and think but really it gets you no where except stuck in a loop scared to get off and wondering how long have i been at this….

this time of year i think a lot about leslie (i think about her all the time as it is but as we get closer to the heart of summer i find my self thinking more and more about her).  i remember the trips we took and the things we bought.  i remember the last encounters that we had and the conversations that we had and the profound effect that she had on my life and how much impact her family has made still in my life.  something about this time of year makes me miss her more.

i think more and more about old friends and about relationships i have had and the adventures that we have been on.  some thoughts and memories make me incredibly sad and others made me laugh out loud.  i think about all the summers spent playing with will and vicky outside until after dark and our “bat club.”  i think about all the summer camps that i spent with katie and the youth group and making sure that katie and i shared a room and coordinated our outfits and packing list and that when we weren’t at camp we still had to be together.  i think about summer crushes (one that turned into love and marriage).  i think about all of the things i thought i would have done and wished i did and actually did.  i think of the person that i hoped to be and the one that i actually am.    i think….

the other day andy was at a meeting so i decided i would go feed pancake alone since it would be too late when andy got home.  it had been raining (i think we got 3 inches in about an hour – water was rising and roads were flooded).  i loaded the dog up and off we went to feed pancake.  for once i wasn’t punching a clock.  so i drove.  i only know 3 or so ways to get to the farm and as i was driving i kept getting derailed.  i would go as far as i could and have to turn around because of flooding in the roads.  i went all the ways i could to get to pancake but i couldn’t get to him – so i just drove.  it made me think of a time (when i could fill my tank up with gas, take seven dollars into the gas station and walk away with change) when i would just drive around to clear my head.  i used to drive to process thoughts and clear my head a lot.  i blame my dad for that.  (sorry dad).  driving to the farm already made me think of dad and driving around made me think of the times that he would come ask if i wanted to go to dairy queen for a blizzard.  i would think: ice cream?  sure!  we would go and instead of going the direct route we would drive down towards albemarle – typically turning around at the same gas station.  some times we would go just to go…i don’t know the real reason we were driving just that ice cream was involved.  other times we would go because i did something wrong (that was never stated but i knew) – we would get past the point where i could jump out of the car and walk home and dad would talk.  or if he wanted to have my attention to mull something over he would say what he wanted to say and we would ride in quiet processing everything.  once we got to the gas station we would turn around and go get blizzards and everything was forgiven and forgotten and processed.  i thought ice cream healed all…but the older i get the more i think that it was the drive that healed.

when i realized i couldn’t get to pancake because all my options were gone i headed home.  as i was driving home i saw lightning and black skies and i was headed right for it.  i was driving into the storm.  i couldn’t help but think that life was completely like that having to “drive into the storm to go home”.  i couldn’t help but think of the times that i have known about a storm and could see it from the distance and driven straight into it.  confrontations with friends that i knew had the potential to turn out horribly but they had to happen.  conflict with different people at different jobs.  fights with andy or my parents or brother.  situations that the skies were so black and hopeless but i had no choice because i had to get through them to get home and to a resolution.  when we have no choice and we see the lightning and hear the thunder and know that things are going to get messy we have to drive on and we do…we go through the storms and end up at home – sometimes a little battered and bruised and sometimes our homes aren’t as stable or sturdy as they were…but our foundation is strong and we make it.

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when i got home.  i had battled rising waters and thunder and a spectacular display of lightning and a spastic dog.  i dealt with my failure that pancake wasn’t getting treats from me before bed.  i struggled with wrapping up my disjointed racing thoughts about driving and storms, hopes and dreams and failures, memories and life in general.  physically i was exhausted from a long day and mentally from processing so many thoughts and memories in such a short time.  i pulled the shivering dog out of the car and unlocked the door.  before i stepped over the threshold i looked at the sky.  the blackness was breaking up and the clouds were moving on except for one…

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i laughed and thought how fitting that i drove straight into dark weather and made it home through the storm and waiting for me was a cloud with a silver lining…

(some of us are just going through figurative storms but remember those who are dealing with literal storms in moore, ok)

bitterness party of 1

ok wow look at me 2 post in one day…but this isn’t a good post this is a post that i need to vent and why not write (since this might be a new thing for me).

right at 5 (our time) andy’s phone rang and it was little rock.  this was one of those phone calls that he had to wait on (he got an e-mail to expect the call) so  all day we have both been praying like crazy and our minds have been going crazy with what happens next.  well, the call came and it wasn’t good news.  i mean i guess in a way it was good news because that means that we can fully decorate for Christmas (we are still deciding if we are going to do a big tree or a little tree) that makes me happy.  it also makes me happy that we won’t be leaving and trying to move over the holiday.  it makes me happy that maybe we can find something a little closer to our families.  it makes me happy that we got to fly together and see part of the states that we haven’t seen together.  and it makes me happy that we were able to go through this together with little bickering and a lot of love and support.  it makes me sad and mad also.  it makes me sad because we have to stay in our current situation which doesn’t make us feel warm and fuzzy.  it makes me sad because we don’t get to buy a new house right away and we don’t get to “move” together (with a moving truck and everything).  it makes me sad because i know that the church was really cool and the people seemed really nice while we were there.  it makes me mad that they said no.  it makes me mad because i know that andy could have done a great job and that he was qualified to do the job.  it makes me mad that we flew all the way there and gave up a weekend (my mom’s birthday weekend) to go there and spend time apart instead of taking an “us” vacation.  it makes me mad because we have to start back at square one.  it makes me mad because i feel like we were led on.  but when i sit back and think about it we did pray that if it wasn’t right that it wouldn’t work.  and we prayed that it would be clear if we were meant to be there and obviously we weren’t.  with the rollarcoaster of emotions that we are both feeling right now we know that we are in this together and that there are possibilities out there and that the right thing will happen.  we know that we love each other very much no matter what happens.  andy is my hero and i am constantly amazed with his strength and love and passion in all that he does in life.  we will close this door and not dwell on it and not let it ruin our holiday season or dictate who we become.  we will let it shape us and we will move on.  in my honest humble opinion little rock is missing out (but we still pray that they find the right fit for them).

and the rains came

i woke up this morning and automatically wanted to go back to bed.  the room was cold and i was snuggled down with otis next to me with andy yelling at me to get up.  i drug myself out of bed to a cloudy, gloomy monday.  (i planned to get a few pictures of the sky around lunch since it was really cool looking, but my phone couldn’t capture it and i didn’t have my digital in my purse). 

i sat at my desk and glanced at the window watching the rain pour down.  there is something that moves me about rain.  with the crashing rain drops comes a rollercoaster of emotions.  a lot of times rain makes me sleepy and makes me wish i was wrapped up in a quilt.  sometimes rain makes me want to weep.  i imagine that God is up there weeping for some reason (usually at what is hidden deep in my soul) and so it makes me want to weep…knowing that God is crying for and with me.  it reminds me of events and milestones that have passed in my life with a gloomy, rainy day.  days when i have found out that people i love have passed away, times when childhood friendships were restored on front porches, fun dates with andy, getting caught walking with otis, mending broken hearts at montreat, seeing the beauty of God in his creation.  after the urge to weep comes the sense of peace and hope.  it reminds me of montreat and all the bittersweet memories that come with that territory.  it reminds me of a childhood spent playing in the woods, and in forts and creeks, it reminds me of waking my brother up to make a big bed out of our blankets and pillows in the hall and sleeping away from windows (in case of tornadoes – long story).  it reminds me of summers in TN playing in the rain and sleeping with the windows open with the patter of rain on the roof.  i remember running through the house in the spring to shut windows during freak storms so that it didn’t blow in.  i remember when times were simpler.

me and will playing in the rain

there are days that i sit at my desk and i want to run outside and dance in the rain like i did before.  i want to run back to those memories and be comforted by the soft, cold raindrops that fall from the heavens.  i want to escape the stresses of life today and trade them for the happy memories that come with rain, but i know that with the happy memories comes some sad ones as well.  i also know that each day it rains more memories (happy and sad) will be made and my rollercoaster will continue…

calm like a duck in a pond

i love movies.  i don’t know why but one of my favorite movies is “the replacements” when andy was still in school and i would put a movie in to clean to on saturday mornings (having no cable leaves a lot to be desired for saturday morning tv), i would find myself putting this one in week after week.  there are some great moments and speeches throughout the movie.  (i love the one about fear and quick sand and the closing lines are great) but one that sticks out to me this morning is when the coach is talking to the replacement quarterback before the big game they talk about being calm and the coach makes reference to being as calm as a duck in a pond.  the quarterback looks puzzled and the coach explains.  on the top of the water the duck looks like it has everything under control and doesn’t have a care in the world just gliding over the pond but underneath the water his little legs are going at a frantic speed…

i love the imagery that this story creates in my mind especially on days like today…

we stayed up late last night checking and re checking our pack list and what we actually packed.  i went from head to toe trying to recall everything that i would possibly need in the days that we are gone.  we were selective in what we packed to wear, selective in what we packed in the carry on bag and almost shed a few tears because i can’t take my pillow and blanket (which deserves it own post later on).  we also were trying to get things ready for my parents to come over (which means just picking up and getting clean towels out and getting the plan for clean sheets and most importantly getting things ready for them to take otis to tn this weekend).  we got to bed and the moment that i woke up i was wondering what i am forgetting?  we are so excited about having someone drive us around on our visit (so we don’t get lost, but also so that we will have time in the car to look around at where we are going and see more of the city), but it is hard when you are at the mercy of other people.  it isn’t like if we are in the hotel tonight i can say drat i forgot (name something) and jump in a rental and go to walmart.  we are at the full mercy of our wonderful hosts.  i am nervous because i like to be in control and this is a new experience where i don’t have full control of things and because i will be alone with church members while andy is in meetings and doing some other things.  i like to think i am nice (most of the time anyways) and able to make conversation etc but sometimes it takes me a little bit to warm up to people i don’t know.  while i sit here and write this i am sure i look calm (and maybe like i am actually working – if im lucky) but my mind is going a million miles a minute while i panic about forgetting something, what these meetings will bring, if we can find a house while we are gone, what it will do to relationships that we have here, if people there will be ok with my sarcastic attitude, what their weather is like, will we be ok on the plane, will we have time to eat dinner in memphis when we switch planes, will we have a comfortable bed with a suitable pillow and blanket, will otis drive my parents ok, should i have gotten his pills refilled, and most of all at the end of the day will this still feel like God’s will for us?

all of those questions being on a million other questions about timing and what will happen when we put our house on the market and so many things i feel like my head is going to explode…but it still feels right, it still feels like where we need to be.

i will glide around this weekend hoping to cover any quiver in my voice, or hands quieting my brain so i can enjoy their company and hoping to appear as calm like  a duck in a pond.

prayer lots and lots of prayer…

i guess now is the time to catch everyone up….

for the past several months we have been praying over where we believe God wants us to be.  andy has been looking at other churches and we have been praying over each of the positions that are open.  i know that is sounds so cliché but we want to fulfill God’s will so we have been praying – hard.  some things came up and sounded weird i mean promising.  but nothing felt right.  in july someone (names have been removed to protect the innocent) told us that there was an opening in little rock.  once he walked away we laughed and said can you imagine moving to little rock?  over the next few weeks we started hearing “little rock” and “arkansas” a lot in normal conversation so we started to research the city and the church and some of the people and we prayed even harder.  it seemed that the harder we prayed the harder God nudged us to look into this more.  so andy applied and interviewed.  we go the next weekend for face to face meetings and to see if we can adapt to living so far away from family and from charlotte where we have lived since birth.  we are looking at houses and i have a meeting about possible jobs for me.  i am so excited about the possibility of new things in our lives but i am also anxious about the possibility of new things in our lives.  (on a side note in my chart from my pediatrician my mother started numerous times so it is recorded in ink that i don’t much care for change) so we will see how all of this plays out.  after months of praying we are on the same page and that page seems to be little rock.