A whole new kind of family

One year ago today we woke up in our home as a family of four for the very first time.

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Eliza was born early in the morning on June 28 and it took a week for the state of Oklahoma to let us leave. It was a stressful week with a lot of the unpredicted things coming up.

But I don’t think I’ve ever written how it ended.

The state of Oklahoma had been giving us lots of conflicting information. We had all of our paperwork done and completed, but after Eliza was born they asked for brand new paperwork and told us of requirements they had never mentioned before. My long suffering, incredibly patient husband had just about had his full.

At the end of the week, on Thursday, July 3, the state of Oklahoma tells us that Eliza’s birthmom (J) needs to go before a judge. This was a one more requirement they had never mentioned before. And we had to find someone get it done before the holiday weekend.

Through some very kind individuals we are able to get an appointment with an Oklahoma judge for 2 p.m. that day. J and her dad met us there.

At this appointment J held Eliza while the judge asked her if she understood her decision. I couldn’t take my eyes off the two of them. J looked at Eliza most of the time as she gave her statement. Then we went into a court room to wait and the judge said everything was done. J hugged Eliza one more time. Her dad did the same and then we said our goodbyes. A few minutes later we got official permission to leave the state and return home. That night we were home.

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This image has been forever burned in my mind. J knew what she was doing. And she did it out of love for her child. The state of Oklahoma gave J and her parents a lot of extra things to do. And they did them all.

There is a misconception about adoption that if a mother loves the child, she wont go through with it.

Adoptions get disrupted all the time for a multitude of reasons. And many mothers change their minds and make the decision to parent. And they have every right to do so.

(And there are many adoption situations that arise out of abuse or mistreatment. I’m not talking about those. )

Both the decision to parent and the decision to place your child for adoption can be loving decisions.

Many people have asked us about our relationship with Eliza’s birth family. And they don’t often understand what it must be like. If we’re honest, we don’t really either. We’re all figuring this out as we go. But the fact is, these people have become our very own family. We love them. They are a part of our daughter, they love her deeply and so they are a part of us. But it’s not just Eliza, they also love Jamie. We keep in touch and they are just as eager to hear how he is doing. They love him. They love me. They love Brandon.

We don’t know when Eliza will get to see them all again. We are praying for wisdom to know when it’s time.

But we are so incredibly thankful, honored, privileged and humbled that they would entrust our sweet baby to us.

Adoption is a beautiful and incredible thing. It’s hard. It can be uncomfortable. It’s messy and unpredictable. It’s full of brokenness and heartache. But the grace is so very rich. The mercy is overflowing.

And I love it.

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A child of my very own


As an adoptive family, we get lots of questions and comments. They provide for lots of awkward moments but they rarely keep me up at night.

Except one. One eats away at me and it comes in many forms.

The other day in the grocery store, it was just me and Jamie. Jamie was being his normal, silly and inquisitive self. As she was scanning my groceries, the checkout lady looked at him and then looked at me and simply asked, ‘Is he yours?” When I responded that he was, she followed up with “Is he adopted?”

I get this question a lot, so I had an answer. I knew the drill. But there was something very different this time.

This time Jamie was listening. After our exchange, Jamie looked at me and very innocently asked, “What did she say?” And when I told him, he immediately asked, “Why?”

As I looked at my precious boy, my heart broke. As I responded politely to the woman asking the question, I felt tears in the back of my eyes. And as I told Jamie a better version of what she had asked, I realized that I need to teach my children how to handle this question.

And the question comes in many forms:

Is he/she yours? Are they adopted? Do you have any children of your own? Are they real brother and sister? Are you their “real” mom / dad?

In addition to teaching them to brush their teeth, go potty, ask polite questions and pick up their shoes … In addition to family dance parties, group hugs and Lego building … I need to teach my kids how to handle someone questioning whether they belong to me or to their daddy or to each other.

I need to help prepare them that people will ask questions in such a way that it will call into question everything they have always known.

I need to prepare them.

And I’ve got to start now.

I know that this woman and the many, many others who have asked don’t mean any harm. I tend to assume the best of people, and this case is no different. And, most of the time, the comment I get most is about my children’s eye lashes and beautiful smiles.

I don’t blame that woman. She didn’t know me or my children and she was making polite conversation.

I’ve been wrestling with this blog post for some time. Adoptive families will tell you that this is a constant theme, especially if your family is very obviously formed by adoption.

And I’ve written lots about this subject. Some I’ve published, others are still too intimate, too personal to let the world read.

In the end, here is what I want people to know. Questions aren’t bad. I’m a teacher. I love questions. If you ask one, I will feel compelled to answer.

But, I need you to understand something. This is personal. Asking questions about our adoption story is like asking someone for their birth story. It’s not necessarily as graphic, but it is just as personal.

So, here’s my unsolicited advice: If you are interacting with an adoptive family that you have no personal relationship with, think about the question before you ask the question.

(For help knowing if a question is appropriate, I suggest you watch this.)

And, if you’re never going to see them again, don’t ask. Instead, squelch your curiosity and simply say, “they’re precious.” And leave it at that.

If you have a relationship with the family and are sincerely curious, my best advice is to admit that you don’t know exactly how to ask the question and proceed from there. As I said earlier, Brandon and I are very open and we love answering questions in the context of a personal conversation.

But here is my one request. Do not (I repeat) do not ask the question in front of the child. Just don’t. They hear more than you think and, even if they’re 18, they probably wont enjoy the question.

So, seriously, don’t.

In conclusion, here are my very own children, a very real brother and sister, at around the same age taking a bath. They both have beautiful curls and the kind of eyes that cause (and convey) all sorts of feelings.

Aren’t they beautiful?
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It’s an adoption thing

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Adoption blogs are everywhere.

There’s a part of me that loves it. I love the awareness. I love the spotlight being on such an important topic. I am thankful for the other adoptive moms who get it. Who understand our family. Who put words to feelings I had not yet acknowledged.

But another part of me is. so. tired. of. them.

I’m tired of everyone having an opinion about how my family was formed. I’m tired of adoptive parents complaining. I’m tired of people who haven’t adopted feeling that they have the right to offer sweeping commentary. I’m tired of the savior and rescue language.

And the problem is: it’s everywhere. Encouragement and discouragement… awareness and opinions… helpful advice and butting in…Buzzfeed article, after buzzfeed article, after buzzfeed article…

There are many times I’d prefer to just not talk about it. I’d prefer that people not feel the need to clarify that my children are not biologically mine. I hate the constant commentary on my kid’s skin tone, or the traits they most surely got from their birth families (because we couldn’t possibly deserve any credit)… And, somedays, I’d like to just shut off all the noise and just simply be a mom. A mom who may look differently from my children but loves them just the same. A mom who cleans up vomit and changes diapers (this is what my last two days have held). A mom who kisses boo boos and reads bed time stories. A mom who tickles and laughs. Who disciplines and provides structure. A mom who just loves as best as I know how.

And I am that mom. But, the fact is, I am also an adoptive mom. And that comes with certain responsibilities. And, whether I always feel like it or not, it means I need to talk about it. It is my responsibility to educate others about adoption so that my children have a better world to live in. It is my responsibility to talk with my children so they are equipped to handle the challenges that will inevitably come. I have to tell pediatricians and doctors that there are certain biological questions I cannot answer. I have to learn grace for the stupid, insensitive and insulting questions. Because I’m the one my children will look to.

As tired as I am by these questions and comments, I’ve been convicted lately that I’ve got to step up. In order to parent my children fully, I have to become a part of the conversation. Because one day they will be playing on the playground and will be asked insulting and demeaning questions by other kids (who heard it from their parents). They will be asked about their “real” parents. They will be required to answer for their status as an adopted child. And I need to do my part to pave the way. To prepare them at home, but to also change the world they are growing up in.

And, you know what? I don’t mind. I would do infinitely more just to be able to parent these precious ones I have been entrusted with.

So, this is my first of several blogs about adoption. (It’s also my attempt to resume this regular blogging thing.)

Why add to the overwhelming amount of adoption blogs? Well, I guess you could say it’s an adoption thing.

Now back to those dirty diapers…

My Spirit Revived in Your Story

I am a broken woman.

In the past 8 years I have come to God with multiple requests. Many of them have been answered. I am married to a wonderful man who continually makes me better with his grace, humility, humor and kindness. I am mother to a son who has taught me to love in a way I never dreamed. He has helped me discover a fight I didn’t know I had. (My mother bear instinct is apparently very strong). My guys have given me more joy than I can explain. I laugh harder, sing louder, dance bigger and love more because of these two.

I am blessed with wonderful family. A father who has taught me so much. A mother who challenges me daily with her grace. Brothers who are my fierce protectors. Sister-in-laws who are such a joy to spend time with.

And I am blessed with in-laws who love me like I am their own. They have been gracious as Brandon and I figure out what “becoming one” really means. And they. love. my. son.

And for these I am thankful.

But I am a broken woman.

I am a barren woman.

There was a time that I couldn’t even say the word “barren” without tears. For years I refused to utter it. I wept and I plead for God to fulfill this deep desire. Adoption had always been in my heart. It was not a second choice or plan B. I had always dreamed and believed that it was one way that God would grow my family. I am thrilled that this is how I became a mom.

But I (like many women) always assumed and desired to bear a child. I expected and looked forward to being pregnant, giving birth, breast feeding. I eagerly anticipated having a child with red hair just like their daddy. Brandon hoped to have a child with green eyes just like me. We dreamed of our red headed children and our black haired African or Asian children running around together.

But this wasn’t how God chose to unfold our story.

Barrenness. I am barren. 

And lately something has happened that I never expected. This word “barren” and the reality it represents have lost their sting. They have begun to taste sweet. I’ve begun to love this part of my story.

Why? Because it is here, in my brokenness, my barrenness, my failure and loss… it is here that I see my Father. It is here that I see salvation. It is here that I sense God’s presence.

Here, in this place, I am revived. And I’m not revived because God has fulfilled all of my earthly desires. I am revived because God has revealed himself. I am revived in His story.

I have spent the last few weeks reading through the book of John with a wonderful group of women over at If:Equip. And I was reminded of one of my favorite passages.

In John chapter 6 Jesus has just called himself the Bread of Life. And He has begun describing to those around him the sacrifice that is involved in following him. It was and is a hard teaching. Following this, the scripture says,

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)

Friends, I am not a follower of Christ because He fulfills every single one of my dreams or requests. I do not follow him because He makes life easier.

I am a follower of Christ because I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Barrenness and all, I choose the Father.

In the last few months I have felt God’s healing. He didn’t suddenly make me able to bear a child. He made it sweet that I cannot. He has taken away my shame by revealing His goodness. In a lot of ways, I feel like my barrenness has let me in on a secret.  A secret I don’t plan on keeping to myself.

I have seen how God’s redemptive story transforms. Not by making all the pain go away, but by resurrecting the dead. Not by solving all my problems but by drawing each and every soul to His presence.

In my brokenness, He reveals himself. And it is here, in this place, that He will use me. He doesn’t make the brokenness go away, He transforms it and makes it His.

Many of you will recognize the above title from a fairly new worship song by Hillsong. It’s one of my favorites. So I’ll close with this video. May we each find refuge in the shadow of His wings. May be revived in His story. And may we watch with wonder as He brings the ruins to life.

More than a blanket

Almost 3 years ago, I received a very special gift from some very special young women.

Brandon and I had been waiting for over a year for any movement towards adopting our first child. This was only after having spent 2 years down the infertility road.

Needless to say, we were emotionally spent. But God was continuing to show himself in incredible ways.

One Sunday morning I was asked to come to the 4th & 5th grade girls small group at the end of the morning. This was a class that had always been special to me in my role as Children’s minister, but I had no idea what they had planned.

When I got there they presented me with a blanket they had worked together to knit (with the help of their awesome teachers). They had spent the entire year knitting and praying for our sweet Baby O.

Allie, Serena, Becca, Bella & Lucy (and Hannah who couldn’t make it that day!)       Can you tell I’ve been crying?

Jamie came home almost a year later and during that time I kept this blanket out and visible. It was a constant, consistent reminder that our community was praying. That they loved this child. And, most importantly, that God was working. And after we brought J home (for the past two years) it has laid on the back of his rocking chair. I love seeing it each and every day as a reminder of the community that has prayed for and loved this child.

Tomorrow Jamie turns 2. t-w-o. Truth be told, I’ve been more emotional about my baby turning 2 then I was about myself turning 30.

At bedtime tonight we followed our usual routine: books, prayer and then a song. Jamie only had two requests: First, that I sing Jesus Paid It All and, second, that I put this blanket on him.

And this Mama’s heart nearly burst with the incredible honor I have of not only raising this little boy, but what a blessing it is to be surrounded by so many that. simply. love. him.

The girls pictured above have each grown into such lovely young women. I am amazed by their faith, their talents & abilities and their capacity to care for and minister to those around them. They love others well and are just plain fun.

Jamie insisted on taking this blanket to bed with him. And I can’t think of a better way for him to wake up on his birthday.



Proving that he’s mine


This week I took Jamie to his 18 mo check-up. I had heard great things about the doctor. I did everything I could to have information there ahead of time. I even talked with them on the phone beforehand. Needless to say, I was prepared.

I got there early for the appointment to fill out paperwork. After completing all of the paperwork, I brought it up to the receptionist. As she was thumbing through, I mentioned to her in passing that the reason I didn’t fill out some of the medical history was because my son was adopted.

This got her attention and she asked for Jamie’s adoption paperwork. I was a little stunned. Legally, Jamie’s mine. His birth certificate shows us as his parents. He has a social security number that would also list us as his parents. This was not something our previous doctor had requested, so I didn’t even bring it with me.

She quickly got the office manager who very kindly informed me that according to HIPAA laws, they had to have a copy of the adoption paperwork on file in order to treat my son.

So we rescheduled for next week.

And I quickly gathered our stuff and left the office. And barely made it to the car before the tears started flowing. (Thank goodness for sunglasses!)

In that moment I felt myself at first angry and protective that someone would deny my son medical care. But that quickly subsided to embarrassment. You see, by this time the office was full and I felt fairly conspicuous.

And I’m pretty used to that. If you see the three of us together, it’s fairly obvious that Jamie is not our biological son. And, honestly, I love this about our family. I love my beautiful brown child. I love his long eye lashes, and curly hair. I love his soft, silky skin. I am so deeply in love with my son. I am so deeply proud to be his mom.

And I can’t quite explain how it feels for someone to require you to verify that with legal documentation. I can’t quite explain how hard it is for someone to deny me the right to take care of my son. Even now, almost 48 hours later, the tears are still pretty fresh when I replay the scene over in my mind.

You see, I’m an adoptive mom who has generally embraced the fact that Jamie’s medical history is fairly simple to fill out. I don’t mind at all that there are huge sections I just skip over. It makes paperwork easier. And I’m okay with that. To be honest, I enjoy it.

But thisthis was different. It was much deeper. And I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to move forward. Here are a few thoughts:

I want to make it clear that the office staff was incredibly gracious. I’ve thought about sending them a thank you note. They handled a tricky situation well. Our doctor’s office in Wheaton never required such documentation, so I’m not sure who had it right.  But whether they have interpreted the law correctly or not, they were kind. They were just doing their job.

And this made me realize that Jamie’s adoption paperwork will probably be used often in his life: new doctors, registering for school and who knows what else. Knowing that ahead of time will help.

But friends, this simply stings. My heart aches a little. We’ve experienced lots of insensitive comments about the way our family looks, and, honestly, I find them funny. We joke that we will probably always need to take family photos in natural light if we want everyone to look good. I’ve learned all sorts of things about taking care of Jamie’s hair that I didn’t know before. We enjoy the way God knit our family together. And we don’t mind that people comment.

But thisthis was different. This wasn’t about the way our family looked. This felt like it was questioning the fact that we were a family. And it was done so matter-of-fact. To the office staff they were simply asking for paperwork. But for the adoptive mom, it wasn’t nearly so routine. For me, it was deeply, deeply personal.

And I’ve been trying to draw some great spiritual point from all of this. And I don’t know that I have one. Actually, that’s not totally true. Brandon will be preaching this weekend from Galatians, highlighting the fact that we are all adopted into God’s family. I’m excited for him to share what God has placed on his heart. There is such beautiful truth in that book, and I love seeing how God has woven together his church.

And I’ll let Brandon tell you about that.

But here is what I know: we worship a good God. He is faithful. He is loving. He is creative. And He has wonderfully and beautiful brought together our family. We may be fairly conspicuous, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

The day he came home

On March 12, 2012 we brought our sweet James David home. We had received “the call” on March 9 and waited all weekend to meet our little boy who was just over a week old. Our caseworker had told us to get some rest.

We didn’t sleep the entire weekend.

But, finally, the day came. We walked into the office at 1 p.m. and sat down in the waiting room. Within a few minutes Cristina, our caseworker, walked out holding our son in her arms. She met us in the waiting with room with him and handed him to me.

I’m in tears now thinking of how surreal that moment was. I was holding my son. The child I had prayed for. The child I had longed for. The child we had waited for. Our son. And they didn’t even make me sign anything first, they just handed him to me.

We walked to the back room and signed all the necessary papers before leaving (just 15 minutes later) as a family of three.

Jamie screamed the entire way home.

We had been warned that he hated his car seat and that proved true on this trip. What I find amazing, though, is he never cried in his car seat again. His life had been fairly traumatic up to this point, but once he came home, it’s as if he knew. He never screamed for an entire trip ever again.

Our sweet friend, Annika, came over to our house that afternoon to take pictures. Annika is an amazing photographer. If you’ve been to our house, you’ve seen many of these photos. But I thought I would share them here. If you need a photographer check out http://www.annikadurbinphotography.com.



This one may be our favorite!


Our first Christmas after we had started the adoption process, a dear friend gave me a necklace. It had my birth stone, Brandon’s birthstone and a charm that said “faith” for the faith we had that God would provide our child. I wore it nearly every day until we brought Jamie home 1 1/2 yrs later.


So, now, today we celebrate a very special little boy. Our precious James David. He’s a ball of energy and loves to entertain. He is cuddly and sweet and simply a joy.

We love you, baby boy!


March 12 is also Jamie’s Aunt Tilly’s birthday. He’s so lucky to have her as an Aunt. Happy Sweet 16 Tilly!

Our Birthday Boy and the Woman that changed everything

Yesterday our Jamie turned 1. Amazing.


Our friend Katie made us all shirts with our ages. Mine has a ? with “not a chance” written across. Brandon’s idea.

What has struck me again and again is that a year ago at this time we didn’t even know he existed. Sure, we had faith that God would bring us our child. But we didn’t know when they would be born or what they would look like.

We didn’t know it would be our Jamie.

And as we have celebrated our son, another person has been consistently and constantly on my mind…his birthmom. A woman I will never know but who has changed our lives most profoundly. A woman whose bravery astounds me, whose courage humbles me and whose love for our (her’s and my) son is so inspiring. And I don’t even know what she looks like. I don’t even know her name.

Here’s what I do “officially” know: On March 3 an African American woman brought a newborn baby to a Safe Haven in Chicago. He had been born the day before at home. She handed him to an authority and said she couldn’t give him the care he needs.

I believe she wanted to make sure he was safe. I believe she wanted to make sure he would be alright. I know that she loved our son.

Today has been a day full of tears as I have wondered what she might be experiencing. As we have faced March 2 and 3 with the utmost joy at our Jamie, she has come crashing into what was perhaps the most difficult day of her life.

As we have decorated cupcakes and celebrated with friends, I imagine she has grieved mostly in solitude. It’s very possible that most of the people in her life do not even know what this date means to her.

When we began to tell people the story of Jamie’s birth (find it here), we got a mixture of responses and I was surprised at how many people responded with anger towards this woman. There were people who wanted to blame her or who felt that her actions showed how little she cared for Jamie.

I believe they’re wrong. I believe she cared for this little boy very much, for so many reasons. She carried him to term and gave birth to him safely. She didn’t leave him on a doorstep but gave him to a trusted authority figure. From the time that he was born he was calm and snuggly. He didn’t appear to show any signs of trauma or stress. He was totally healthy. He had no drug or alcohol exposure. Whatever her reasons may have been, I believe she was trying to make the best decision for a baby she deeply cared for.

One of my prayers today has been for this woman’s heart. I have prayed that she might feel peace. That, somehow, God would assure her that her son is safe. He’s happy and healthy. He has two parents who love him deeply. He is surrounded by family and a community that are madly in love with him. He is thriving. I want her to know it all turned out okay. She did a good thing.

And we are so thankful. Truly, incredibly thankful.

I’m back…with our Adoption Story!

Jamie's first Sunday at church... on Palm Sunday.

Well, friends. The past 2 months has been nothing short of a whirlwind. I’ve been asked to tell the story of how we got our sweet little Jamie, and something has kept me from it. 😉

But, now, as I look at going back to work tomorrow, I thought I’d take some time while little man is napping.

A quick disclaimer: Brandon and I have been wrestling with how to share Jamie’s story with our friends and family, but also protect this story for Jamie. So we’re seeking balance. If details seem vague, that’s why. 

March 9 started just like any other day. We knew that there had been movement at our agency, but hadn’t heard any details. I was anxious to hear back from our caseworker, Cristina (whom we love, love, love). But movement has happened before, so we didn’t really think anything of it. My day at work came and went. Brandon had lunch with a friend who asked how things were going. He expressed that we were just in that difficult waiting time.

Brandon picked me up at work (because I had accidently let my license expire…oops!) and we both worked from home that afternoon. At around 2:45 Cristina called. I knew something was up, because she doesn’t call with bad news. She asked if I could put Brandon on speaker phone. I came into his office, told him it was Cristina and we both started shaking. So much, in fact, that I hung up on Cristina before she could tell us anything.

So we called her back and she began to tell us about a little boy. He had been born March 2 and was a safe-haven baby. This means that his birth mother had brought him to a safe haven (hospitals, fire stations, police stations) on March 3 because she felt as if she  couldn’t care for him.

Our first glimpse of our little boy. We couldn't wait to kiss those cheeks!

And at the end of the description Cristina said that she would like for us to take him. She had some pictures she would send us, but she wanted us to make a calm decision first. Well, we didn’t need any time to excitedly say yes. We learned that we would pick up Jamie at 1:00 on Monday, March 12.

For the next few hours we called our family and friends. We alternated because sobbing and laughing. We were amazed. Over the following 3 days we watched as our community dropped off all of the supplies we would need. Brandon lined up substitutes for his classes and I prepared to go on Maternity Leave in a matter of hours. And we looked at Jamie’s pictures every 5 minutes.

We were told to get some rest. But when you have less than 72 hours to prepare for a baby… rest doesn’t come easy. 🙂

We learned some interesting things about ourselves as we waited to meet our son. Brandon was eating all the time, and I would eat a few bites of each meal. At night I would take 2-3 hours to fall asleep, and Brandon would fall asleep immediately and wake up every hour.

But we made it. Monday came and we drove to ECFA to pick up Jamie. Amazingly, Cristina met us in the waiting room with him, and we got to hold him while we signed paperwork. And in only 30 minutes we were back in our car taking Jamie home.

He cried the entire way. When we got him home we immediately fed him a bottle. And within 4 hours he had peed through 3 outfits, thrown up all over me and had his first pictures taken.

Photo taken by Annika Durbin. She did a beautiful job with our little boy!

Photo by Annika Durbin. Brandon is the sweetest dad!

Photo taken by Annika Durbin. We do a lot of laughing in this house.

Over the next few weeks we watched with amazement as Jamie impressed his pediatrician and passed every medical test with flying colors. He was immediately affectionate and smiled often in his sleep. In fact, after having a large amount of blood drawn, he let out a big belly laugh and smiled from ear to ear. We joke that he had perspective. 😉 In short, for a boy who had had an unusual start to his life, he was doing amazingly well.

Aren't baby yawns awesome?

And over the course of time we have become deeply thankful and proud of his birth mom. Why? We don’t know her, and most likely we never will. But what we know about her is that she took good care of this child. He was a healthy baby in every way. When she felt she couldn’t care for him, she could have left him anywhere…You see that in the news all the time. But she brought him to a safe place. A place she could be sure would take care of him. Simply, she cared for him.

This Wednesday Jamie will be 2 months old. He is such a happy baby. Has slept through the night 3 times (not in a row, of course) and smiles constantly. He loves his crib and his changing table. However, he’s also pretty social. He talks to us and loves for us to be near him.

Seriously, he LOVES his changing table.

And we rejoice in his life daily.

Love that grin!

The last four years haven’t be the easiest, but we are so, so thankful for our son.

much love, dear friends.

What are you longing for?

Okay, so I’ve been a little absent on the blog lately. Friends, I love writing blog posts, but lately I’ve just felt a little too overwhelmed in this little task. And I think that’s okay. Well, I know it’s okay. And I’m working to not feel guilty about it.

So today I have the privilege of taking care of one very sweet little girl named Malena. She’s almost 14 months and is super fun. She’s napping right now, so I’m stealing away some blogging time.

To talk about a book that I am still reading, Abundant Simplicity, by Jan Johnson.

In the third chapter she talks about Intentionality. And as I read this before bed last night, I was hit hard. She asks the question, “what are you longing for?” and challenges her readers to think through what their actions, choices, activities say about this.

And I had to confess that lately I have not been intentional about my time. Some of this is due to a busy season at the church, and I know that and I am choosing not to feel guilty about that.

But at home… I have all too often turned on the T.V. or stayed online WAY too long, simply because it’s habit. I’m not making a conscious choice… I’m not choosing T.V. because it is my favorite thing… I’m just operating on auto pilot. Jan writes,

The opposite of living intentionally as a response to God’s longing is living on autopilot, which means doing whatever occurs to us without pausing to consider what we really want. It seems easier to do what we’ve always done or what everyone else does. Even if you learn to live intentionally, expect that in a time of crisis you’ll switch to old automatic pilot choices. Plan ahead for this to happen and be vigilant.

And I think this is where intentionality becomes hard. It’s a bit easier with conscious choices, but with those ingrained habits we often don’t recognize until we’re an hour into it… that’s where it gets hard. I shared a few weeks ago that I was working hard to limit the role of T.V. in my life and to think less about what I wear each day. These have been increasingly challenging. I’ve been amazed at how easy I slip back into bad habits without even realizing it.

This month I have challenged our kids at Immanuel to memorize Psalm 19:14

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

And these very familiar words have convicted me. Especially during this advent season. Brandon and I have reached a milestone this year… for the first time in our 6 years of marriage, we will be spending our Christmas at home, with one another (and perhaps some friends). We are dissappointed not to be with family, but we’re also so excited to have this special time. And I have found myself lost as to what to do. Advent has suddenly seemed much longer than usual, and since we will no longer be making a 10 day trip, we find ourselves with far less stress.

And I find myself with more time than typical. And that is where intentionality becomes so crucial. I am preparing for the fourth time (in as many years) to celebrate Christmas without our child. And I am feeling tremendous peace about this and, honestly, an anticipation that soon our lives will change.

But I would be lying if I said this peace wasn’t also accompanied by tears.

And so comes back to the “what are you longing for?” question. I have been reading through the book of Hebrews and have been continually challenged that if I’m not careful, I can choose my baby over my Savior.

I can focus all of my energy on anticipating the coming of my child, not the Savior of the world.

So this week I am working to intentionally anticipate the coming of our Savior on Christmas Day. Of course I am praying always for BabyO, for their birthparents and all who are involved.

But ultimately I am anticipating my Savior.

And in closing, here are a few quotes from this third chapter of Jan’s book:

This longing, solidified into intentionality, is actually a beautiful response to God’s longing for us. Before the foundation of the world, God thought of each of us and thought each of us was a good idea (Eph 1:4-6). God longed for us even then.

Intentionality is about responding to the longing of God inviting you into a different kind of life.

If we choose to journey with God carrying unnecessary weights, God will let us do it. God does not force us to lay unnecessary burdens down. But transformation into Christlikeness is much more difficult when we’re encumbered by multiplicity of words, cluttered schedules, decathlon vacations or the cell phone surgically attached to our ear.