Monday, June 30, 2014

The one where Abba Fund + Chosen Charlotte + EqualsZero--Team Patterson = 2 less orphaned boys!

So let's be real: having a kid costs money.  Whether it's the via the traditional route, or through a creative method, bringing a child into a family costs a lot of money...& it's no secret that international adoptions cost a lot of it.

Sidebar: it costs very little for families to adopt out of the US foster care system!  More to come about this in future posts...

The sad part is that there are many families called to adopt, but struggle to come up with the upfront costs associate with the process.  So why does it cost so much? & Should families who "can't afford it" be able to adopt?  These are common questions we have been asked during our adoption journey.

To make a comparison many US families can relate to, the cost of a private US or international adoption would be akin to paying upfront, in a short amount of time, for all prenatal care, labwork, ultrasounds, hospital stay, etc. out of pocket, before you're allowed to become pregnant--I get this is a weird concept to think about, but work with me here.  What we, international adoptive families, must pay for is well outlined in this article from Show Hope organization.  The bottom line is that unfortunately, people do terrible things to children such as selling them in trafficking circles around the world...& I can assure you, no adoptive family wants to be a part of that!  So we pay for the legal process, which I can assure you is much more in depth than anything you have to do to become biologically pregnant ;)

"So if a family can't afford it, they shouldn't adopt to begin with."  I would suggest that many families can afford the daily cost of living to support another child, but the steep, upfront cost is something they struggle to provide.  To continue with our illustration, we do not require financial records, background checks, employment letters or copies of 401ks & bank statements before we allow a couple to have sex with the desire to become pregnant.  However, just to be approved to adopt, information like this must be provided to an agency in order to confirm that a couple is financially able--among other things--to care for a child(ren) they wish to adopt.  Just something to think about...

So what are families to do?

The awesome part about this particular aspect of adoption is that there are numerous organizations offering creative means for families to raise support for adoption costs.  Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to do something, & these organizations are "doing something" about the financial issue!

There are many organizations attempting to alleviate the financial burden for families called to adopt & here are a few that we know of: Both Hands FoundationShow HopeReece's RainbowDave Thomas Foundation, & Jockey Being Family

If you know of other organizations helping families & would like to share their information, please do so! We would love for this blog to be a wealth of information & resources for those who stumble across it!

For our journey, Jonathan & I are blessed to be partnering with the Abba Fund to finance a portion of our most recent adoption adventure. In short, the Abba Fund provides interest-free loans to Christian families pursuing adoption.  Each dollar given to the family is paid back in an effort to "pay it forward" so that more & more children can be placed in loving, Christian homes.

We are also honored to be partnering with Chosen Charlotte!  The Chosen Marathon was created as a way for Christian families to raise funds for their adoption while raising awareness regarding the orphan crisis. We are soooo excited that Chosen is coming to Charlotte this fall, October 18th, & that we have been selected as a team to raise money to bring our boys home!

We would love for you to partner with us in prayer, by walking, running, or volunteering as part of EqualsZero--Team Patterson!  There's even a "sleepwalker" option for out of town friends & family or those unable to walk/run/volunteer.

Click here to register as a member of EqualsZero--Team Patterson

Click here to learn more about our story & donate to our adoption fund

Jonathan & I want you to know we will gladly answer specific questions you might have regarding the costs associated with our China adoption journey & our financial plan, so feel free to call or email with questions~

So there you go: Abba Fund + Chosen Charlotte + EqualsZero--Team Patterson=2 less orphaned boys!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The one with the loooonnnggg version of our story

Every story has a short & a long version right?  

To read the short version of where our family is today click here.  It's the nitty gritty version :)

To read the long version, continue on:

I hope that in sharing this, you see how the mighty God has transformed our family and our hearts, opening our eyes to the world of adoption and demonstrating how He loves us through it all. I am the writer in the family, so here goes nothing.  And by the way, everything you read here will be shared with our boys when the time is right; we talk openly about adoption in our family, with respect for the hurts & bio families.  We love each of our children's bio families with a love that is difficult to explain.  All I ask is that you read our story and respect the hurtful parts that come along with it, thank you!  

So, contrary to what many people assume, we didn’t come to adoption through a battle with infertility.  We simply walked into the world of adoption out of an act of obedience to Christ’s calling on our lives.  Our adoption journey began almost 10 years ago when Jonathan and I went on our first date.  The discussions we had that night were heartfelt and honest, as we discussed topics such as family, faith, and adoption.  At that time, we shared the opinion that either of us would be open to adopting “someday” regardless of the child’s race or background. 
Fast forward to January of 2008 when Jonathan and I had been married about a year and a half.  During a rotation for school, Jonathan visited a facility for medically fragile children and returned home with a volunteer application for me, telling me that he “just knew” my heart would be happy to work with the children he’d just met.  As I filled out the volunteer application, I realized God was tugging on my heart.  After talking with Jonathan, I went to the facility and asked if they were hiring nurses.  Turns out they just happened to have a vacancy on their team that I was more than qualified to fulfill.  So in April of 2008, I began working and Jonathan became a volunteer at the Howell Center.  Our son Jayson was 7 months old the first time we met him.
Having the opportunity to work with and love on medically fragile children is a blessing and an honor we truly cherish.  As time progressed, Jonathan and I became emotionally attached to several children, realizing in many ways, the children living at the facility were abandoned—if not legally, certainly emotionally—by their families.  JJ was a special young man, and God used our relationship with him to greatly influence our lives and our decision to pursue adopting Jayson.  JJ got to meet Jesus at the tender age of 17, but in the years we were blessed to spend with him, he often shared with us the hurt of feeling that his family didn’t want him and couldn’t care for him in their home.  You see, JJ was perfectly normal from a cognitive perspective; he just had medical needs that his family couldn’t provide for in their home environment.  Because he was cognitively normal, he felt the all-encompassing feelings of abandonment and often struggled with guilt and hurt from being “left” by his family, despite the fact that they loved him the best they could.  JJ wasn’t a candidate for adoption, but Jonathan and I cherish the memories we have from sharing a relationship with such an amazing young man.   In many ways, our little Jayson is just like JJ & his memory lives on.
When Jayson was born, he spent 6 months at UNC’s neonatal intensive care unit before arriving at the Howell Center, a medical facility where he would live for almost 4 years.  Jayson’s bio family lived several hours from the center, and as such, couldn't visit often.  During the summer of 2008, Jayson was just under a year old, and it became clear that he was determined to learn to walk.  Not unusual for a one-year-old, but Jayson was given the challenge of having bilateral club feet, a malformed knee, and a dislocated hip.  We were all concerned what kind of damage could be caused if he learned how to walk under those circumstances, so the staff took him to see an orthopedic specialist.  This physician looked the nurse and said “Kids in 3rd world countries learn to walk on club feet every day, and his feet are the least of his problems.  I’m not going to operate on him if he’s just going to grow up in a group home.”  As you can imagine, I was very upset upon hearing this report, and like all good wives do, I went straight home to my husband and started ranting and raving about the injustice being done to this precious child.  Standing in the kitchen of our home, I vividly recall the anger I felt as I recounted the physician’s report to Jonathan.  I remember expressing feelings of frustration in knowing that Jayson’s future could be so bright if God had only given him a family who would be bold enough to fight for him.  In that moment, Jonathan made one statement that forever changed our lives; he lovingly grabbed my shoulders, looked into my eyes, and said “Honey, did you ever think that God wants us to adopt Jayson and fight for him?”  “Well no, not until just now,” was my response.  So we stopped and prayed; we prayed for Jayson’s future, for his bio family, for his medical team, and for us to be obedient if God ever called us to be Jayson’s family.  As we talked and prayed, we felt burdened that Jayson’s future would likely resemble the pain and abandonment JJ felt if God didn’t bless him with a family to love him unconditionally. 
A few weeks later, Jonathan and I decided to talk to the social worker at the facility where Jayson lived and share with her our thoughts and feelings about adopting Jayson.  We decided we wouldn’t approach his bio family, but if it was in God’s plan, He would have them put Jayson up for adoption.  In talking with the social worker—who also happened to be a fellow Christ-follower and dear friend—we asked her to let us know if/when his bio family decided to relinquish their parental rights.  Jayson taught himself to walk that summer, and several months later, the doctor ate his words and performed corrective surgery on Jayson’s feet.
For 2 years we prayed occasionally about adopting Jayson, but spent most of our time loving on him and the other children.  We began discussing children and how and when would be the right time to bring a child into our marriage.  Oddly enough, we were never exactly on the same page about attempting pregnancy, and kept agreeing to “revisit” the discussion in 6 months.  The last time we had that conversation was in January of 2010.  In June of that year, we relocated to Richmond, Virginia for Jonathan’s job.  It was hard to leave the life we had built in Greenville.  On the last day I worked, I hugged all the children and rocked Jayson to sleep as he cried.  I remember sitting on the floor by Jayson’s bed, begging God to ease the pain I was feeling in leaving the kids and a job I loved so much.  Late that night, I got in my car and headed north to meet up with Jonathan in Richmond.  The entire drive I sobbed and prayed “Lord please take this hurt from me.  I love my husband more than any of the children or any job I’ll ever have.  He is my family and he is my priority.  Please help me let go of these relationships and show me what You have for me in our future together.”  Though I didn’t know it at the time, God plan to turn the pain I was feeling to joy.  That was Friday, August 13th, 2010.
The following Wednesday I received a phone call from Crystal, the social worker.  She said she had just gotten off the phone with Jayson’s bio mother who informed her that they wanted Jayson to have a good home, and she knew they couldn’t provide for his needs.  So Crystal called me to ask if Jonathan and I were serious about adopting Jayson.  I immediately paged Jonathan, who was actually scrubbed into a surgical procedure; a nurse called me back on speakerphone.  After assuring him I was okay, I told Jonathan I had just spoken with Crystal and the day had come.  Jonathan’s response was simple, strong, and full of faith: he replied “ok, what do we do next?”  I asked him if he thought we needed to pray about it, and he lovingly reminded me that we’d been praying about it for years and clearly God was answering our prayer.  Through tears of joy, I called Crystal back minutes later and the journey began.
Though Jonathan and I are reasonably educated, active members of society, we had no idea how tedious, challenging, heart-wrenching, and indescribably rewarding the process of adoption was going to be for us.  We had no idea the world we were getting ready to walk in to.  We also had no idea how our family and friends would respond or how we would even begin to be parents to a child with such unique abilities & challenges. All we knew the night of August 18th, 2010, was that God had given us the privilege of fighting for an amazing little boy.  We began working with the local Social Services department who gained custody of Jayson after his parents relinquished their rights.  As we shared our plans to adopt Jayson with our families, we were amazed, humbled, and so proud at how wonderfully they responded to the news.  Though we do not believe God ever intends for children to be orphaned, we were so excited to become his parents!  Our family was built for Jayson; Jonathan and I have medical skills that allowed us to care for Jayson’s physical needs with confidence others might not have, and our families welcomed him without hesitation. On August 5th, 2011 we picked Jayson up from the Howell Center for the last time.  We brought him home to our “Ellow House” and began living life as the family God had created.  I wish I could say things were easy for us from then on, but the truth is, every adoption journey begins in trauma and loss, and the healing journey is difficult for everyone.  We had no idea what we were getting in to, but we were willing and committed to following God wherever He would lead us.  It was, & still is, one of the best decisions of our lives.
God has used every detail of this part of our story to show us more of who He is, how He loves, and who He is calling us to be in this world.  I cannot put into words how much I love our son and how much being is Mama has changed my life and shown me a glimpse of how much God loves me.  God has used this journey to open my eyes to how many children are living around the world, fatherless and trapped in abandonment.  As our pastor says, we have become aware of the battle between good and evil where children are always caught in the crosshairs.  After our introduction to the adoptive world, I always saw us advocating for children in the domestic system.  For 2 years we’ve researched and helped co-lead our adoption ministry at church that is rooted in advocacy efforts for children in NC’s foster care system. One of my prayers has been that when God speaks, I will be positioned to hear Him, and that He would speak to my heart and mind with clarity in His will for my life.  This has been the prayer of us as a couple for our family as well.  In going to China for 2 boys we’ve never met, God is stretching our hearts, stretching our faith, and calling us to a journey beyond our comfort zone.  But isn’t that how He works best?!The older child we are pursuing is the eighth child someone has asked us to consider adopting since we adopted Jayson.  It’s an incredibly humbling and flattering experience to have people ask us to consider adding to our family children with such great need to be loved.  Each time, God speaks to my heart reminding me that they are seeing Him through me and through our family, and when we feel like we aren’t enough, I am reminded that He always is.  By the way, saying “no,” to a child, even when the child is unaware and we knew it was the right decision, really stinks.  Really, really stinks.
In February 2013 a friend of a friend brought this sweet boy's picture and story to our attention, and to say the least, we were in a very stressful point in our lives.  Jonathan & I agreed the answer was “no,” and life as we knew it continued on.  I spent the next 5 months telling myself there's no way we could adopt a bilateral amputee child from halfway around the world in a country neither my husband nor myself have any personal desire to even go to for a visit.  I thought of every excuse: finances, language, taking time off life to do this whole journey again, knowing the international process is a completely different animal than the domestic one...I mean seriously, you name it, I feel like I thought it.  How will Jayson react?   Is it even fair to ask him to share his parents and his life with another child with mobility challenges?  How, when, and in what time can I be a mom to not 1, but 2 uniquely gifted children?   What would the insurance coverage look like?  How can we afford surgery/therapy he will need?  How in the world are we going to afford to even get him here?  There is no part of my rational mind that thinks this is a good idea! BUT... In true God-like fashion, I wasn’t able to get this precious child out of my mind; his face came to mind over and over again.  And every time, I conjured an excuse as to why we were not his parents; why God was not and could not be calling us to be his family.  Of course I justified this with a half-hearted prayers for God to make it known if we're supposed to commit to go after him.  But God didn’t stop working in my heart--through every avenue in my life: work, church, play--and apparently during the same time, He was working in my husband's as well!

One Sunday the following July, our pastor started a series on prayer.  He talked about praying with ambition, praying boldly, and being prepared to have the courage to go through with whatever we're asking God to give us.  He read and spoke from Jabez' prayer, showing us how Jabez was an honorable man who wanted to see his influence grow.  That resonated deeply inside my soul, not for my own glory, but for God’s.  Our pastor suggested that we don't have because we don't ask.  He asked us to ask ourselves what it is that we want most out of life and to start praying for God to make it happen.  That was an easy one for me.  More than anything I want 4 things from this life:  I want to LOVE well with boldness, courageous, and tenacity that can only come from God.  I want a marriage that others look at and see the love of Christ, romantic and nurtured.  I want a family that could only be woven together by the hand of God; one that represents His unconditional love, His uniqueness, His strength and His courage.  Lastly, I do NOT want to leave this world unchanged in His name.  Check!  Ok Pastor, what else?  Then he said, “if you're going to pray big, you have to be willing to let God change your heart to what He wants for your life, not just what you think He wants.”  That sweet little face popped into my head and I began to weep. 

As we laid down that night and said our nightly prayers together, Jonathan said "amen" and followed it with, "so on that note...."  then silence.  My heart was racing and my thoughts were spinning out of control.  What was he going to say?  "So about this little guy, I know it may be crazy, but I believe he is our son and I need you to trust me in this."  And the tears came again.  You see, Jonathan is a strong, quiet man and when he speaks, I listen.  He's always been right when he's made these kinds of prayer-filled decisions and he doesn't speak until he's prayed through every avenue.  He proceeded to share with me that he can't seem to shake him and thoughts of how alone, unwanted, and abandoned he must feel.  He shared that he believes God is telling him that we should pursue him because we can show him how God loves him: unconditionally and wholeheartedly, we can provide for him, encourage him, and get him the assistance he needs medically.  He'd thought/prayed through the finances and how our sons would have a bond that no one else could understand because of their mobility challenges and adoptive histories. I mean seriously?  And in my heart I felt peace.  We hadn't spoken to each other about this child in months.  We hadn't prayed over him together, but clearly God was working in both our hearts to bring us to the day we woke up with our world forever changed, again. BUT….in true God-like fashion, He didn’t stop there.                 We were planning on telling our immediate families over the Thanksgiving holiday.  We would be with both ‘sides’ of our family for several days and wanted to tell them in person.  The week prior to Thanksgiving, we noted a change in Jonathan’s schedule that prevented him from being able to travel until the day after Thanksgiving.  And so the decision was made: I would go with Jayson and our fur babies to my side of the family’s celebration and meet Jonathan at his Mama’s house for their family celebration.  As such, we decided to wait until Christmas to tell them all at the same time.   So I packed the car and headed out the day before Thanksgiving.  What should have been a 4 hour journey from our home to Knoxville where our family was meeting turned into a 9-hour journey complete with a very irritable Mommy, blizzard weather conditions through NC’s steepest mountains, and an hour and a half wait in standstill traffic, 30 minutes from our destination.  To say I was stressed out is an understatement.  As we sat on standstill traffic on the interstate, I looked at Jayson in the backseat and became overwhelmed with the ever-familiar sense of gratefulness and sadness for our little guy.  I am so grateful I get to love him.  I am so grateful to be his Mama.  But, there are days when it is hard, really hard, and mainly such because I cannot heal the wounds placed in his heart by events that have nothing to do with either of us.  Though the holidays are a fun season, they bring stress that is hardest on little adopted ones.  He was sound asleep, so I took that time to listen to God, asking Him to calm my spirit, heal my son’s heart, and bring our waiting son home from China.  Clear as day, as if He was literally sitting beside me, I heard Him say, “you know you could adopt 2 kids from China.”  WHAT?  Seriously God, did I just hear you correctly?  No way, must have been the exhaustion, right?!   Maybe not, and so I began to pray, keeping this thought to myself for quite some time.            
    In December 2013 we shared with our family our calling to pursue the 4-year old, and though they were a bit surprised, they were, and continue to be, extremely supportive.  I still felt very unsettled about adopting 2 children; I didn’t have a clear yes or no and felt God nudging me to talk to Jonathan about it.  Novel concept right?  As if somehow I thought it was a decision I had to make on my own?  Ha.  In January I mentioned it in passing to Jonathan who said he hadn’t really considered it, but would be open to prayerfully considering it.  As we talked, we asked our 4-year old had any foster siblings needing to be adopted.  We found out he had 2, but that they were both being pursued by other families.  So that wasn’t it.  Jonathan thought maybe that was our clarity, but I still felt very unsettled about it.  Our pastor and his wife have had an unconventional adoption journey as well and so we sought their counsel in prayer.  During a prayer time with Mendy, our pastor’s wife, she said to me she hoped God would hit us with a “2x4 of clarity” on whether or not we are supposed to pursue 2 children.               
    Literally sixteen hours later, we received a phone call from our agency.  A woman we had never communicated with prior had called, left no information, but asked that we call back.  It didn’t sound good and I thought it was going to be the phone call telling us that we lost our 4-year old.  I waited 2 hours to hear back from her and when she called, she said “Hi Mrs. Patterson, I am pleased to let you know we have a referral for you!”  OH. MY. STARS!  This is THE call we've been waiting for!  I asked if it was our 4-year old, to which she replied, “”  As the conversation progressed, we discovered that she did indeed intend to call our family, but that the file we were matched to was not our 4-year old's.  We discussed how everything we had previously submitted the agency indicated the specific and only child we were requesting to be matched with.  She, nor her supervisor, had any idea how our file was matched to this child, but she said to me, “if you have considered adopting 2 children, maybe this is also your child.”  And I almost passed out.  Seriously.  Hello “2x4 of clarity,” it’s nice to meet you.             
    God had clearly heard our prayers and had undoubtedly answered them.   To say we were shocked at how He chose to answer them would be an understatement!  There was nothing that frightened us about the child they were presenting to us, it was just that we were not anticipating God answering in a way that was so very, very clear.  We fasted and prayed, talking about logistics of 2 adoptions, finances, day-to-day functioning in our home, and how this would impact Jayson.   Two weeks later we accepted his file, sent off our letter of intent, and we received pre-approval to adopt an absolutely adorable, now 26-month old boy!            
    This journey is a rollercoaster ride!  On the one hand, we are elated that we are inching closer to bringing our 2-year old home; on the other, we are trying to be patient as we wait to hear when our 4-year old will be ready for adoption & if we get to be the family to adopt him.  And like many families, the waiting is hard, really hard.  We live in a reality that on any given day, we could get a phone call saying we’ve lost our 4-year old forever.  But we know and trust that he is God’s kid before he will ever be ours.  You see, there is no file on his behalf that can be released to us, allowing us to be matched to him.  Eleven months ago our agency explained this to us, and they gave us a choice: we could wait until we got his file to start home study, USCIS, and dossier preparation, or we could take a leap of faith and begin putting our time, emotional energy, and financial resources into pursing him by beginning all these things.  As we sat down to discuss these options, Jonathan looked at me and said, “God didn’t call us to this to be in a half-hearted commitment to this child, I vote we get started now.”  I agreed wholeheartedly and thus began the process.  Now we know that part of the clarity God offered us in that decision was in part for our 2-year old's behalf; they have told us to be prepared to travel as early as October for him.  There is a possibility that we could bring home our 4-year old at the same time, but as you probably realize, we have zero control over that decision.       
The verse that has continually brought us comfort as we wait, as we dip into our savings to be obedient to God’s will in pursuing these boys, and when the emotional investment becomes dark and weary, is Matthew 17:20.  In this passage, the disciples are questioning why they cannot do the things Christ is doing as they have watched him heal the sick and cast out demons.  He replies by telling them they only need faith the size of a mustard seed and they will be capable of moving mountains.  Some days, it feels like that’s all either of us have left: a simple mustard-seed sized faith and we’re asking Him to move mountains with it.  When our logical, rational minds consume us and we realize how crazy this sounds, doubts do their best to creep in and take over; the mustard-seed is very powerful in these moments!
We have also discussed at great length and taken great encouragement from Joseph and Mary: Mary really didn’t get to choose if she was on-board with bearing the Messiah Child, but scriptures tell us God looked on her with favor, and that she never wavered in her faith.  Joseph, on the other hand, got to choose.  God allowed him to choose if he wanted to be a part of this story or not.  Scripture tell us Joseph was a just and upright man, and that he was going to choose to leave Mary in a quiet, respectful way.  Then the angel appeared to Joseph, explaining to him God’s plan for their family, and as far as we’re told, Joseph recanted his plan to leave and never looked back (Matthew 1: 18-25).  To us, God has put us in a position where we could have chosen to leave quietly, but Joseph’s courage to stick around has been a great example for us as we move forward in this adventure.             
    Hillsong United recently released a song entitled, “Oceans.”  The singer is asking God, almost begging Him in my opinion, to take her out of the boat, like Peter (Matthew 14: 25-32), and walk on water hand-in-hand to places she could have never gone with her own feet.  She speaks of walking out into the ocean where the waves are crashing.  She sings of calling out on the name of her Savior as she keeps her eyes on Him, allowing her to walk upon the waters without failing.  She knows that she is His, and He is hers.   This is my heart’s prayer in this adventure: that I will keep my eyes on Him when the waters get rough—when the papers don’t move as fast as I want them to and we seem to be at the end of our financial rope—that I will keep my eyes on Him when He calls me out of the boat to places we couldn’t have gone without Him.  I cannot do this and our family cannot do this; we know that for sure.  But we also confidently know that God is calling us to be a family orchestrated by His hand, not ours, and it is an honor to be a part of His story. 
So to sum all this up, adoption isn’t just something God has spoken in to my heart, it is something He has created me to be.  He is calling me to advocate for orphans, here and around the world.  He has ingrained in my being a passion to fight for the orphaned; to be strong when they cannot.  To walk along families willing to step into the beautiful messiness that is the world of adoption.  To love on Mamas who have chosen to love children from hurt places.  To walk with the children God blesses us with as they ask the hard questions and search for the answers to their stories.  To love the families who chose to give their children a different life.  To be a woman that loves with Christ-driven, reckless abandon; one whose loyalty never waivers, even in the face of difficult behaviors; a Mama who says to her child, “You are one of God’s beloveds, and I am so grateful we get to love you.”

The one where it all began...

Every blog starts somewhere, right?!  So hello, it's nice to virtually "meet" you!

In short, the adventures life has brought me have been wild, beyond my imagination, & I'm afraid I'll forget if I don't document all the feels along the way....sooooo....I guess this is as much for me as for you :)

My 20's were awesome & since I turned 30 last summer, this year seemed like a good time to start blogging our adventures. 

You should know that I love Jesus with my whole heart & am grateful for His presence in my life!  I also love coffee, cooking, sleep, traveling, & all things chocolate.  Seriously.all.things.chocolate. I am a "recovering" type A personality & I cuss [a lot] when I’m mad or extremely passionate about something.  I try to workout, eat healthy, & attempt to do one something, every day for someone else.  I can break anything that is "foolproof," "lifeproof," or "unbreakable."  For real.  I like selfies because no one expects them to come out perfectly.  My mission in life is to pursue the Lord with reckless abandon, love fearlessly, & stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves.  I also happen to believe the world needs a lot more Jesus & a lot less judgment.  I do not believe that "different" is broken, but beautiful.

I am married to THE most wonderfully imperfect, sexy man I know & I love him with EVERY fiber of my being.  He makes me proud to be his wife on a daily basis.  Seriously ya’ll: our marriage isn’t perfect, but we love the Lord, & together, we make a heck of a team!

I am humbled to be "Mommy" to the most incredible little guy & I am so grateful God trusted us to love him for this life!  The fact that his belly Mommy & Daddy also trusted us to raise him is not lost on me.  More about that part of our journey in another post. 

This my our fur baby.  He is spoiled & I love him dearly!

I just graduated from my DREAM school with my DREAM degree & I'm waiting for God to tell me how to use it! 

I have loved and lost, which sucks....but I love better today because of them.

We have the BEST friends, family, & friends-like-family a girl could ask for!  None of us are perfect, but we love each other dearly despite all our imperfections.

Oh & guess what?  We're expecting 2 more boys---but not in the traditional sense!  We're adopting again & this time our boys are in China.  I've started this blog so our friends & family can keep up with everything that's going on during this incredible journey!

I am so honored that you’re taking the time to share in the story of my life, as I hope it reflects a Love greater than anything I may type.  I will be honest—that’s the “truths” part, & I am often tired—that’s the “tired” part, but I always strive to maintain a joyful heart that is full of gratitude regardless of my circumstances—that’s the “joy-filled” part ;-)

so stay tuned....