Monday, November 21, 2016

Meeting Little Miss

I’ve wanted to write an update ever since we got back from our trip to meet Little Miss over two months ago. Between jetlag, unpacking from our move, scrambling to get documents together for the next step, and finding out that I’m pregnant (YAY!!!), I haven’t had much time to put words together in coherent sentences. More than that, I haven’t had much time to really process what we experienced thoroughly enough to share. I’m still processing, but I know lots of people are eager to hear about our little girl, so I want to at least give a quick update.

Travel to and from Bulgaria was smooth and the flights were uneventful. We arrived in country on a Saturday and we were blessed to be able to worship with the church in Sofia on Sunday – They send their greetings and blessings to the church in the U.S.!

We rented a car in Sofia and on Monday we drove the three hours to the town where our girl currently resides. It was Joshua’s first time driving in a foreign country and he did an admirable job, especially since it was a day or two before we figured out how to get the international maps on our GPS to work! After we finally got that figured out, it was pretty easy to find our way around. They drive on the same side of the road as we do, so that made it much more simple.

Chicken, mashed potatoes, and dill pickles in white sauce
Our three little boys did awesome the whole time. They were cheerful even after 27 hours of traveling, they were adventurous about trying new foods, they had the hotel staff wrapped around their fingers, and they even learned a little Bulgarian. I definitely recommend taking your bio kids with you on both trips if at all possible! Yes, it was more expensive. Yes, it was more exhausting. But having them experience our daughter’s homeland, letting them see and understand where she is coming from, having them there to help break the ice, and allowing Little Miss to interact with her brothers in her own environment before throwing her into theirs was absolutely priceless. Keeping the boys close to us through this whole process has helped them prepare for the transition without feeling lost in the craziness. I think a lot of times in the adoption world we are so focused on doing everything we can to help the adopted child feel secure and attached that we forget that our biological children need that same security. I am so glad we took them!

Thanks to blessings from generous friends, my mom was able to travel with us. She was absolutely invaluable. She stayed with the boys at the hotel during our visits with Little Miss until they were allowed to meet her. She was also a useful source of information; she had done lots of reading about what foods we should try and what sights we should see in the little bit of time we had to explore. We are so thankful for Mom, and for the generous donors who paid for her to join us!

We stayed in a hotel in Town ‘X’ for five days. Each morning Joshua and I met up with our translator and headed to the orphanage to visit Little Miss. We were allowed two hours with her in the morning and two hours with her in the afternoon.

On our first visit we met with some of the staff before meeting Little Miss. They gave us important information about her condition and about her personality. Partway through our conversation I glanced out the doorway and saw two little feet poking around the corner. In a breathtaking moment, our little girl was pushed into the room in her stroller, her thick, dark hair framing her sweet face. There she was, all smiles and giggles. Seeing her for the first time was surreal. Had we really, finally, gotten to this point? After all the years of waiting and praying and fighting for her? Were we really meeting our daughter?

Joshua got to hold her first (stinker!). She was hesitant and sat very stiffly. It wasn’t until she discovered a sticker on Joshua’s shirt that our oldest had stuck on earlier that morning that she started to relax. She loves stickers. She made great eye contact, showed concern when her favorite staff member left the room, and was cautiously interested in interacting with us – all very good signs. She has the best little giggly girl laugh and scrunches up her nose when she smiles. She loves all things pretty and her nurses described her as being very much a girly girl. She also loves all kinds of music, dancing, and singing. She’ll fit right in around here!

We spent most of our visits outside at the playground swinging or taking walks around the grounds. She very much enjoyed the attention and the extra opportunities to be outside. On days when the weather was bad, we played in a room off to the side of her ward. Playing inside gave us a great chance to see how mobile she is. Her ability to move around is impressive! She has myelomeningocele (“severe spina bifida”) and is paralyzed from the waist down, but she is stubbornly determined to get herself wherever she wants to go. It was encouraging to see how well she has adapted and how creative she is at coming up with ways to overcome challenges.

A Flower from a Brother to His Sister
The boys and Mom all got to meet Little Miss briefly Tuesday afternoon, but she was sick that day and extremely fussy, so they didn’t stay long. Their first introduction was a bit chaotic and not the best, but the boys were happy to finally meet their sister and Mom was thrilled to meet her first granddaughter. On the following visits, we took one boy at a time to play with her, and that went really well. Our oldest taught her how to blow bubbles, our middle son doted on her (he’s our most nurturing child), and Little Miss and our youngest boy had a blast mimicking each other’s every sound. We all got to go as a family to see her Friday morning for our very last visit. It was so good to be together as a whole family laughing, playing, and singing. Even the Stomach Bug was present, though we didn’t know it at the time :).

We flew out early Saturday morning. We were boarding our plane and Joshua tapped his wedding ring against a pole, a sound Little Miss had found fascinating during our visits, and it finally hit me that we were leaving our daughter behind for an unknown length of time. How do you walk away from your child and leave her halfway around the world? It’s a stupid system. There’s got to be a better way of getting these kids into homes more quickly and less traumatically. Law requires that we meet the child we intend to adopt in person before officially accepting the match. It’s supposed to ensure that parents really know what they’re getting themselves into and that they are serious about accepting this child into their family for life. But all Little Miss knows is that she was told that this man and lady who came to see her every day for a week are going to be her new Mama and Papa; and her new Mama and Papa left her. Can we get more traumatic for a child who has already suffered so much loss??

But what can you do? It’s sure better than leaving her in an institution for the rest of her life. So, you work with the broken system and hope and pray that God provides healing for the wounds created by people who have no idea what they are doing to these kids. And you pray for a better system.

Now that we are home, we wait for a few more pieces of paper to be signed. Because of our move, we had to update our home study, and that has caused a delay in our i-800 approval. But, as soon as we get our immigration approval (Any day now?? Miscommunication within USCIS has caused more delays…), we can get Article 5 signed and then they will set a court date for making Little Miss legally ours!! At that point we will be able to share more information and PICTURES!!!

We are still doing a little bit of fundraising to finish paying for our adoption. We currently need $750 to pay the balance of our new home study fee, and then all we have left to pay is travel expenses for Trip Two! If you would like to make a donation online, you can go to

I am still in awe of how God has provided for every step of the way and how, through you, our dear friends, He has made it possible to fund an adoption that seemed so far out of reach just three years ago. Your donations mean the world to us, and we can’t wait to share the news that the little girl you helped bring home is safe in our arms!

Please continue to pray for us; for patience, for peace, and especially that we can finish the process as quickly as possible and bring our baby HOME!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Summer Challenge

It’s summertime! Which also means it’s that time of year when many people mysteriously misplace their clothes. I’ve seen a lot of posts lately encouraging people to keep their clothes on and think about how their wardrobe choices are affecting their brothers and sisters in Christ. In response, I’ve seen a lot of angry comments from people who are indignant at the suggestion that they should put thought into what they put on. After all, men are responsible for keeping their minds pure and women cannot control whether or not men make the decision to look places they shouldn’t. Women should be free to wear what they want without being in constant fear of provoking some man to lust. Besides, it’s really not so hard to just not look! Or so the comments go.

It’s true. Men are responsible for what they dwell on, and if they are lusting after a woman that is a sinful decision they have made. But I don’t think most women comprehend how difficult it is to refrain from looking upon what ought not be seen when there is hardly a direction one can turn one’s eyes without landing on some forbidden view.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Happily Ever After: Forgiven and Free

Today I have the honor of sharing an amazing story about forgiveness and freedom from a sex addiction. Thank you, Laura, for bravely sharing your history with us. May God use your marriage to bless many others!

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." 
1 Peter 4:8

"My name is Laura and I was sexually abused when I was a little girl by a relative. When my parents found out they chose to keep it quiet and not seek justice for me. That made me feel unloved and unwanted.

I married at 18 to my best friend Adam. I didn't realize the abuse had an effect on me until we married. Every time we were intimate I either had some sort of flashback or just felt like I was being abused even though my husband didn't do or say anything to make me feel this way. On the contrary, he was always compassionate and gentle, waiting on me to lead the way.

             It was such a mental task to be intimate. I craved that kind of passionate intimacy everyone else seemed to have so I sought it elsewhere. When I was with someone else sex was just sex, no emotional attachment or mental task. It satisfied that desire but I had a guilty conscience..."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happily Ever After: Stories of Marriages that Survived to Tell the Tale

Pornography. Adultery. Cheating. Lying. Abuse. Grief.


It's rampant. Nearly every day we hear of another friend, co-worker, neighbor, or family member who is filing for divorce. Nearly every day we hear of another marriage that is in crisis because of unfaithfulness, drug or alcohol abuse, or simply an unwillingness to sacrifice self for spouse. Every one of us has been negatively impacted by marriages that are failing to uphold God's design of "one man and one woman for LIFE".

The outlook for couples who face a major breach of trust is bleak. What I hear more than anything from women who have experienced the heartbreak of an affair, a porn addiction, or any other marital crisis is this:


These women want their marriages to recover. They want to forgive, move forward, heal. But they look around at other marriages that have failed. They look at their husbands, and they look at themselves. And it seems impossible. The wide chasm of hurt is just too great to overcome. And the harder they try, the wider that chasm appears. They start to realize that the road to restoration is even longer and rockier than they originally thought. And at some point... one spouse or the other gives up. They quit fighting for each other. They accept that their marriage has been utterly destroyed to the point that there is no hope of rebuilding. There is nothing left. So they walk away.

We hear all of these stories of marriages that have ended because of infidelity or addiction and what we hear is, "Marriages that experience these things cannot survive." And if they do happen to technically "survive" (AKA, do not divorce), then we hear, "Okay. They didn't divorce. But they will never be completely happy again." Or, what's worse, "They will never completely trust again." And then, when our own marriages face these things, that's exactly what we believe.

It doesn't have to end that way. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Day a 3lb Bag of Spaghetti Noodles Felt Like a Ton of Bricks

I already knew I had a problem. I had been steadily losing weight without trying ever since my 10 month old baby was born, even though I was eating constantly. I was chronically fatigued (much more than the normal “I have three little boys to chase after” kind of tired), I felt sick after almost every meal I ate, I had sugar and carb cravings like crazy, migraines, imbalance issues, insomnia while at the same time never feeling rested no matter how much I slept, and fifty bazillion other health concerns. Like major memory problems. Like, I seriously could not remember my youngest child’s name for a couple of minutes kind of memory problems. But the worst part was that I had suddenly developed severe food allergies to things I have eaten all of my life. I could no longer eat mushrooms. I could no longer kiss my husband after he had eaten mushrooms. I was developing reactions so quickly to so many different foods that I was terrified to eat anything for fear of my throat closing up.

Several friends told me that the symptoms I was experiencing sounded a lot like gluten intolerance, so I tried going gluten-free. And I felt better. Sort of. Two weeks of gluten-free eating and I was much less foggy-brained. I woke up feeling rested for the first time in forever. I actually had energy. I could eat without feeling sick. But, I was also in intense pain. My whole body ached severely like I had the flu. I did some googling and read that sometimes you can feel like that for a few days or even a week after starting a gluten-free diet. But this was more than a few days. And although I had more energy, I was simultaneously extremely weak.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Meet the Author: Sarah Floyd

In my last post I reviewed Finding Joy, a novel by Sarah Floyd. Sarah graciously allowed me to interview her, and today I get to share her answers with you!

1) Tell us a little about your background and your sweet family.

I was born near Los Angeles, California, but I spent most of my childhood in west Texas and north Georgia. I consider my hometown to be Ellijay, Georgia; it's in the mountains north of Atlanta. I went to a combination of public school, Christian school, and homeschool. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian family, and my parents and one younger sister now live in Tennessee. I attended FreedHardeman University and completed Study Abroad programs in Europe and Mexico. I worked as a high school Spanish teacher in Tennessee after college. I married my husband Jason in 2010, and just a few months afterward, we traveled to South Korea for a year to teach English. We moved to New England in 2013, much to my excitement, because I have been fascinated by Vermont since I was a little girl. Our son Nathan was born in September 2014. I am now experiencing the biggest adventure of my life - being a stay-at-home- mommy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Finding Joy: A Novel by a Sister in Christ!

I was on the lookout several months ago for an author whose work I could read without fear of running into any inappropriate material. When Sarah Floyd posted in From Heart and Home (a Facebook group where stay-at-home moms can freely advertise their home businesses) that she had written a novel, I was so excited. Sarah is a sister in Christ and I knew that her novel would be both clean and entertaining. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Finding Joy.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah in person back in October when both of our families attended a retreat in North Carolina. Though I did not have the opportunity to get to know Sarah as well as I would have liked, she struck me as a sweet, witty, and determined woman with a passion for God and her family. Those traits shine forth from her writing as well.