Finding Joy in New Ways

If you’ve read my blog at all this week, you know that I have had the opportunity to post on a devotional site

Well today is my final post on this site. YOu can also find my posts for Wednesday & thursday which I didn’t have time to post as we spent some great time with family.

Here’s a little bit of what I said,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Over the past 4 years my husband and I have heard a variety of responses to our struggle first with infertility and then during our wait for an adoption. Some have bordered on awkward as individuals gave all too detailed advice to aid us in our quest. Some unintentionally disregarded our reality with comments like, “Don’t worry, God’s plan is better in the end,” or “Aren’t you glad you haven’t miscarried,” or even “You’re young, don’t worry about it.”

Mostly, in the midst of our most painful moments, we have been blessed with friends who have met us in our suffering and then pointed us forward. Not by denying our grief or our pain, but by exalting God.

During one of our recent disappointments I let some individuals close to us know that it had not worked out. 

To read the rest of the post, click here

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I look forward to some new posts next week as we enter the period of Advent.

Until then, enjoy the weekend!

Recently I was asked to join a team of women writing for a website called This week is my first week of posts, so I thought I would post them here. In a post entitled, “He is Good,” this is what I write…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Even before my husband and I decided to start our family, I knew that not having a child would be painful. However, I didn’t know that this pain was going to challenge my view of self.

And I didn’t know that giving this pain to God to be used for his purposes would require heart-wrenching sacrifice. But for the past 4 years, this has been my journey and this is where I have begun to find God in the pain, in the sacrifice, in my own weakness. And as I write for the first time for, I thought this was a good place to start.

One day a few years ago, I faced that all-too-familiar disappointing news… I was not pregnant…

Follow the rest of the post:

A Lifetime

Last night I spent some time praying / journalling before falling asleep. As usual I opened my heart up to the Lord… I voiced my exhaustion over this wait for our child, my trust that his planning and his timing was perfect and ultimately began to pray for our child and their birthmom.

I have spent so much time praying for our child now. You see I believe that even now, even if our child has not been born, that God can speak to them. They are a soul who can begin to learn the voice of God (ask me sometime to tell you about the secular studies that back this up). And I have pray fervently for them right now. I pray for wisdom and peace for their birthmom. I pray that the bond between us would be strong. And suddenly it hit me. I pray very little for our future. Last night it hit me that I am going to have this precious life for a life time. There is so much to be prayed over.

And I began to pray over school, and friends and teachers. I prayed for their after school activities and for our wisdom in both making decisions and allow this precious one to make decisions. I prayed for their spouse.

And I rejoiced that I get to be their mom. That Brandon gets to be their dad.

When you spend four years working to have a child, I think it becomes easy to forget that there is so much after that initial birth or adoption. There is a lifetime of memories to be had.

And I am so thankful.

A is for Adoption and Y is for You

It’s been more than a year since we began our adoption journey…. 17 mo to be exact. This is us when we began this journey, in fact this picture was taken just before our second homestudy interview. Can you see the joy in our faces? We were (and are) so excited. (Oh, and my hair was different… over the past 17 months it has gotten longer and then much, much shorter!)

We are often asked why we are adopting. It is true that becoming pregnant may not be a possibility for us. However, that’s not exactly why we are adopting… because adoption has been tugging on our hearts long before we knew we would face infertility. We like to say that it’s not Plan B… it’s just Plan A in a different order. 🙂

Okay, so what do adoption and you have in common?

When we started this process summer of 2010, we asked our friends and family at that time to join around us in prayer, with finances and by spreading the word!

Well today I’d like to come to you again to ask for your assistance. We have been so amazed at the prayer of those around us… so, so blessed. But we’d like to remind you of the “spreading the word” part. A lot of our friends and family have connections that we know about… and we have tried to talk to those people explicitly… but many of you may have connections that we don’t know anything about… so we’d like to ask you to keep us in mind.

And for your reference, here is our online profile

Finally, here we are today as we wait for our sweet BabyO… wherever he or she may be! 🙂

Beautiful Things

On Monday I posted some very personal things (you can see post here!). I felt compelled to write what I did but I honestly didn’t expect the response I received. Sure I expected a few comments here and there (namely from our moms… and a few close friends), but the magnitude of messages I received both privately and publicly on facebook and through my blog was overwhelming. Thank you, dear friends, for your care for us.

Over the past 4 years Brandon and I have heard a variety of responses to our struggle first with infertility and then during our wait for an adoption. Some have bordered on awkward as individuals gave all too detailed advice to aid us in our quest. 😉 Some unintentionally disregarded our reality with comments like, “Don’t worry, God’s plan is better in the end,” or “Aren’t you glad you haven’t miscarried,” or even “You’re young, don’t worry about it.”

But most of you, the vast majority of you, have come around us to cry and to grieve and to call us forward. In the midst of our most painful moments, I, we, have been blessed with friends who have met us in our suffering and then pointed us forward. Not by denying our grief or our pain, but by exalting God.

During one of our recent dissappointments I let some individuals close to us know that it had not worked out. The responses I got were amazing. These individuals started by acknowledging how hard this was… what a great dissappointment it truly was. They shared their own dissappointment, shed their own tears….

And then they simply said, “But remember, God is good.” They didn’t make claims to know God’s plan, nor did they trivilize this dissappointment by asserting that God’s plan would be better in the end and we just needed to remember that.

No, they simply pointed me, pointed us, to our Savior.

And this gave me hope. This gave Brandon hope. This gave us an ability to move forward.

And we are so thankful.

One of the realities we have as Christians is that God is most evident in times of grief or pain. His joy is present even with our smile has disappeared. We have reason to rejoice, even when circumstances havn’t gone our way. And this is where my hope is found. You see I don’t often take hope is God’s future plan… I take hope in my present reality… with Christ all things, I mean all things, are possible. He is my hope even when life is hard. He is my joy in the midst of my tears.

By his power, and only by his power, I can see beauty in the midst of my grief. Friends, I haven’t lost my joy. I have just found it in new ways.

And you are a huge part of that.

I wanted to close today with a song that has been increasingly meaningful to me in the last week and that (spoiler alert) Brandon and I will be singing next month!

Breaking my silence

I haven’t been blogging lately. And that’s a significant understatement… because it has been since July that I posted anything.

And I’m going ot jump back in today… but I would be lying if I said it was easy. You see, I haven’t been blogging because I haven’t felt capable… or like I had anything at all to say. These past few months have been some of the hardest of our life. And I’ve wanted to hold these painful events close. I’ve shared them with family and very close friends… but the idea of sharing with people beyond that tight circle has been unimaginable.

But I think it’s time. I don’t know why, I just feel like I should probably share.

At the beginning of the month of August we found out (for the third time in our adoption journey) that a possible situation was no longer possible. It wasn’t a situation we had placed all of our hope in, but anytime a potential birth mom situation is no longer possible, it hurts.

We were finishing up a vacation with my family when we received this news. The day after we returned to Wheaton, we had the one-year update of our homestudy. When our caseworker was in our home, we found out that they were having a slow down in the number of adoption cases. No slow down in the crisis pregnancy situations they work with, but none of them were choosing adoption.

Another blow.

And I found myself fighting to stay afloat. Activities and events that in the past had been energizing now brought me to tears. Meetings that I could do in my sleep were requiring great effort.

And this was August. One of the biggest months for any Children’s Minister is August and I couldn’t afford to slow down. But I just couldn’t do it.

And then one night we got a phone call from a family member about a possible situation in AR. Within a few days we had made contact with a birthmom who was 7 months along. She and I spoke all day long, and it began to feel like everything was happening. During the course of that week I mailed our profile book to her, we talked about a possible time for us to come visit. We maintained constant contact. And then Friday morning she contacted me and told me she had chosen another family.

By that point Brandon and I had been praying for her for a week and we had sincerely been praying that whatever decision she made, she would feel a peace. We knew there were other families and we had sincerely been praying for them.

But this was still painful. Because unlike the 3 situations beforehand, this one was personal. This birthmom had a name and a face.

So we took time to grieve and tried to think through possible decisions that needed to be made. And as we were praying through these over the next week we learned that Brandon’s grandmother had died. We made the trip to be with family and had a life-giving and wonderful time with the O’Brien side. Diane O’Brien was an amazing woman who we admired and loved deeply. And she loved Jesus. I mean SHE. LOVED. JESUS. It was a beautiful testimony. We felt loved and supported and we rejoiced in her life. But not without sadness. You see Grandma had been praying for our child fervently and we had so hoped to place our sweet BabyO in her arms.

So we returned home and began to live life. We struggled and felt this struggle in every area, but we also felt God’s grace through the support of those around us.

Earlier this month we were contacted about a little boy from an agency we have listed with in Texas. This was a boy who had already been born and needed a home. We put our names in to be considered. (In this situation the agency would be making the call.) We sincerely felt a peace about it, but the problem was the placement fee in this situation was significantly above our previously planned-for amount. Significantly above. Several days after we had put our name in, we had to withdraw purely for financial reasons.

And I felt knocked out. I knew how it felt to not be chosen. We had experienced that, and I had prepared myself for it. But I had not prepared myself for the pain it would cause to walk away from a situation. I was heart broken. I found myself incapable of doing life.

And we were amazed at the support that came around us. Friends and family who prayed with us and for us. God protected us from platitudes (you know like “Don’t worry, it will be fine.” or “God has a great child for you, just wait.”) These statements may be true but they are never helpful when a painful situation happens.

Instead God provided for us a community that grieved with us… expressed their own frustration at these events… and crowded around us with support. Friends brought us dinner, one good friend expressed her own frustration that this had been our journey, volunteers covered for me to be able to take a break one Sunday. Encouragement and hope flooded our inboxes. Sweet cards came in the mail. These events were tangible expressions of God’s grace that we desperately needed. We felt like healing was possible.

And we are learning to move forward.

Before I conclude this very long post, I want to say something about the man who I have the great privilege of living life with… Brandon O’Brien. As I have struggled, he has sacrificed to care for me. When I broke down and felt incapable of doing life, he picked me up and together we have walked forward. The journey that we’re on can be a death sentence for any marriage… but I am blessed with a man and with a partnership that is life-giving.

As I weep to write this post, I also rejoice in God’s rich grace. In his beautiful faithfulness. Today I am just okay, but I am confident that one day I will find myself on the other side.

Blankets of Encouragement… literally!

I haven’t been blogging lately. You may have noticed. Or maybe you haven’t because I haven’t been asking you to read the posts that I haven’t written.

Either way, I have not, I repeat have not, lived up to my goal of blogging every other day. Why? Because I just haven’t had much to say. Or, I should say, I haven’t had much to write. You see I have plenty of thoughts, but I just haven’t had the energy to write them.

But enough of my whining. Today I have something I’d love to share with you. As we wait for our child we are continually blessed by the community around us. It hasn’t been easy to wait. It’s been a year and we are learning anew how to trust the Lord during the process. And, to be honest, I’ve had a hard time. But the Lord has been faithful.

And here is one way that he has been paritcularly faithful. Last month, at the end of our Sunday School year I was ask to come and see our 4th-6th grade girls shepherding group. They presented to me a very special gift that I already cherish. This past year they have been learning to knit and they worked together to knit a blanket for BabyO. I love it and it is one of those things that gives me hope.

Working together on a card.

One of these days I will wrap our baby in this blanket and I just can’t wait. In the meantime, it sits out in the open where I can be encouraged by the support of those around us… young and old.

Can you tell I've been crying? LOVE these girls!

Happy Monday!

Hot Spot #5 Revealed: Pick your poison!

Well this is Week 5 of Project Simplify and this week they are letting us choose what we would like to do according to the needs in our homes…

Well, there is one particular area in our house that I am embarrassed to let anyone else look into… and it hasn’t been on the list yet. So this week I will be cleaning out our bathroom cabinets… IT’s going to be rather humbling to post the “before” picture… but hopefully very rewarding to show you the “after.”

And my life will feel so much more organized!

And then following this final week of Project simplify, I look forward to starting “Project Baby Room.” In an effort to prepare for BabyO without going over the top, Brandon adn I will be tackling one area of the current guest room / office each week… and then hopefully by week 5 we will be ready to go… there wont be a baby bed or decorations necessarily, those will come after baby. But everything else that needs to be done will hopefully be completed!

So, I’m thinking a May baby might work! 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Longing for a person I don’t yet know…

Dear friends,

Lately we have been longing especially hard for our child. We’ve embarked on many projects… cleaning and sorting every space in our house, reading through and learning to practice Celebration of Discipline… but none of these has replaced the deep longing we both have in our hearts to meet and especially to hold our child.

I found myself earlier tonight (without even thinking) making childcare plans for a fancy dinner we have in October… it struck me, as it has so many other times, that I am a woman who is waiting and who doesn’t quite know when that time will end.

This morning at church I had several wonderful and sweet interactions with our covenant children. And as one especially beloved infant grabbed my finger, I felt in my heart the desire to take this child home. However, this wasn’t a desire felt in pain, but in joy. I am blessed to work with so many wonderful children… to shepherd so many joyous and energetic souls… these children remind me each week the joy that I am anticipating. They remind me each week of the privilege, honor and responsibility that will soon be ours as parents. And as Thomas Smoak spoke to us this morning, these children reveal Christ to me in ways I would not have known. And I am thankful for them.

And even when these children struggle to listen or say words they shouldn’t or run from the room unexpectedly (yes, even at Immanuel)… they remind me that parenting isn’t easy. I will struggle, I will even want to pull my hair out at times. And even in these “disobedient” times, they reveal Christ to me in ways I would not have known.

And I just love them.

As I sit on my couch, pajamas on and face washed (yes, I know it’s only 7:15), planning for the week ahead, my heart hopes that this is the week we get that very special call. And it aches.

But ultimately I sit in hope. Because I am surrounded by people (young and old, big and small) who have shown Christ to me in so many ways… I am married to a man who loves me when I am unlovable… I am privileged to shepherd so many wonderful children… I am a daughter, sister, friend and cousin to family I wouldn’t trade… and I am a mother in waiting.

Brandon and I are so thankful for the many, many friends & family who have walked this road with us and we thank you for your prayers as we continue to go a little farther. When we began trying to start a family more than 3 years ago, we never would have imagined being here now. And it is only because of the people who have journeyed with us that we have made it this far. You have each revealed Christ to us in ways we would not have known and for that we thank you.

And we once again humbly ask for your prayer. But more than that, we ask you to continue to walk with us so that we might continue to see Christ in you. Thank you for your testimony of God’s great grace.

Blessings on you this week!

Know My Heart?

Search me O God and know my heart,

Try me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

I love Birthdays. And lucky for me, I celebrated one yesterday. I love the surprise gifts, the fun meals out, the celebration… perhaps even being the center of attention.

For the past 10 years (or so) I have done one particular thing every birthday morning… read Psalm 139. Why this Psalm? When I was in 5th grade my teacher had us memorize this whole chapter. What I so admire about her method (even more so now that I work with kids) is that she took us through it slowly. We memorized a few verses at a time… then we journalled about them, rehearsed them, talked about them with our friends… we knew them well before we ever moved on. It took us a LONG time to memorize the whole passage, but I have never forgotten it.

And these last 2 verses (quoted above) are increasingly sweet.

Search me… know my heart.

My heart is a mixture of emotion. As we wait for our child, I find myself yearning for the hope that God offers, for the comfort that only He gives, for the fulfillment of our desires that only He can offer… yet I also find myself easily tempted by bitterness, anger, envy. To know my heart is to see the good, the bad and the ugly.

Try me… know my anxious thoughts.

My anxious thoughts have been in abundance lately. When will our baby come? When will freelance checks come in? What if I don’t get enough volunteers? What if my cell phone isn’t near me when the agency calls? What if I am not prepared for a baby? Did I choose the right Sunday School curriculum? Did I buy the right car seat?

See if there is any offensive way.

Anxiety will come. Ugly thoughts will come. Lord, please point out these things… identify them… bring them to mind… let me see them… Forgive me for them.

And lead me in the way ever lasting.

But let me have hope. This is why these verses are so sweet. If we ask him, God will expose the secrets of our hearts, he will expose our anxious thoughts, he will point out the offensive stuff in us…

But ultimately He will give us hope. I am saved by the grace of his son… which means I have an everlasting hope. My heart is not perfect, but He’s working on it. My thoughts are sometimes out of control, but He’s molding them. My actions are too often offensive, but He’s changing me into his image.

And his change, his healing, his grace is everlasting. It is good.

What a wonderful God we serve. Amen and Amen.