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just breathe

Screen shot 2011-12-28 at 9.33.24 PM

The past few years have been a bit of a blur in the newly minted House of Thornton. I’m sure all of you can imagine the chaos of adopting a non-English-speaking almost-3 year old from Ethiopia, getting engaged a week later, and married 10 weeks after that . . . AND THEN quitting one job and starting a new one. . .makes me tired just thinking about it!  Recently, I’m learning to not think about it, and instead to live in the today. To enjoy what we have in all of it’s chaotic deliciousness. Zach reminds me often that we are in a really, really good place as a family and as individuals. I’m not sure why I rehash the past so much in my mind or let the past aches of pain still creep in and define my current situation.  I’m certainly looking forward to leaning into the present, my present, and moving forward.

Onward and upward!

love this

pure bliss

Everyone I know should watch this:

And then listen to this:

RADIOLAB

 

 

 

i heart my job

Auburn Student with “Full Purpose” from Eagle Eye TV on Vimeo.

I heart my brother

 

Mack,
What you are doing is incredible. I love you.
Sincerely,
Your amazingly proud big sister

i like adoption

if this doesn’t inspire you, then you deserve coal in your stocking.

New Film Premiere – I Like Adoption. from ILikeGiving.com on Vimeo.

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simply elegant

feeding 9 billion of us

save the world from fwp

why care?

Why Care? Campaign

brothers

Words cannot express how much Zach and I love these two little boys.

photos courtesy of Jean Allsopp Photography

we need to talk about injustice

for more information go here

ephraim & caleb’s adoption story

Here’s the video

Here’s the prezi

childhood

 “Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will.”

                                                                                                                   -Charles Baudelaire

life in the woods

“Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion.
What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.”

                                                                                                                                          -Henry David Thoreau

 

to the full

“Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.”

                                                                                            -Maurice Sendak

introverts

who knows, who cares?

via Mackenzie at brck+mrtr

happiness & pure bliss

exquisite moments

What I didn’t know, standing by the whitesand river all those years ago, was that my soul was touching the impermanence of an exquisite moment.

-Stephen Thomas Berg

other than

“I also am other than what I imagine myself to be. To know this is forgiveness.”

-Simone Weil

lovely song

Please don’t confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them.

-These Days by Jackson Brown

this day

“This day is a day where I will calmly be myself.”

-Ryan Adams

we’re married!

Many thanks to all who made it down for our big day.

photo via Nathan Clendenin

Our invitations were designed by our lovely and talented friend Ms. Sara Allsopp

microsecond arbitrage

“What I would really like to have been, given a perfect world, is a jazz pianist. I mean jazz. I don’t mean rock and roll. I mean the never-the-same-note twice music that American black people gave the world. I played piano in my own all-white band in my all-white high school in Midland City, Ohio. We called ourselves ‘The Soul Merchants.’ How good were we? We had to play white people’s popular music or nobody would have hired us. But every so often we would cut loose with jazz anyway. Nobody else seemed to notice the difference, but we sure did. We fell in love with ourselves We were in ecstasy.”

-K. Vonnegut

free speech & hocus pocus

“At least we still have freedom of speech.” I said.
And she said, “that isn’t something somebody else gives you. That’s something you give yourself.”

-K. Vonnegut

precious

Andalousia.for.ever from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

somethin’ ain’t right

In the  last 2 and a half months life has been really full, really fun, really, really busy, and at times exhausting. Part of the exhaustion stems from the fact that I can’t seem to stay healthy. Without going into too much detail lets just say I’ve had many more days of sick than days of well. I have no idea what’s going on or why I can’t seem to have any respite from sickness, but I’ve decided that if I’m going to get AND stay well I’ve got to be proactive about it.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about minimalismhealthy habits, and solutions to make my life better. One of the themes that comes up over and over again is personal accountability. I need to find success in achieving health, not just for me, but for my family. So that said, I’ve been working on changing a few habits and would like to change a few more in the coming months.  I’ll be using the single-change method, because I really do think that’s the best way to go about this. Here are the changes I’ve made thus far and well as a few things that are in the docket:

1. WEIGHT.
I’ve started daily tracking my weight on a withings scale so that I can monitor the effects of my habit changes on my physical health. This comes from a recommendation by my friend Amelia who has had a lot of success with doing this. I’m a big fan of metrics and truly believe in the old adage, that if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

2. FOOD.
The boys (Zach included) and I also started eating mostly organic foods. We’re a part of a local CSA and thankfully Earthfare makes it an easy (but expensive) task to fill in the rest of our diet. Along these lines I’d like to work towards eliminating most sugary foods from my diet as well as move towards eating mostly vegetarian and vegan foods. I’ve also begun making green smoothies each morning, and have mostly eliminated sugar and half and half from my coffee. Black & bitter!

3. MONEY.
I have been slowly but surely chipping away at my debts.  I had to buy a new car last year because mine started to have engine trouble and with as much as I travel with small children, it just wasn’t worth the risk anymore.  I also have some credit card debts because the speed of Ephraim’s adoption necessitated going into a bit of debt in order to bring him home.  Although totally worth it, I’m a big fan of debt proof living and I know that my personal stress levels will drastically decrease once these debts are paid in full. These payments are on track and hopefully by August of next year will be, as Caleb says, “all done.”

4. PHYSICAL HEALTH.
I’m a week in to supplementing my diet with vitamins and organic supplements. I think I’ve got a pretty good balance going but will check in with my doctor when I go home for the wedding, to make sure I’m on track.

5. SLEEP.
This is a big one for me and is my next habit change focus. I’ve never been a big sleeper and having two toddlers now has not helped in that department at all. So, recognizing that a big part of my sleep patterns are out of my control, I want to focus on the parts that are in my control, namely going to bed at a decent hour.

6. EXERCISE.
This will be my next hurdle. Prior to getting Caleb, I was an avid runner and would regularly run between 5 & 14 miles on any given day and was really active in the weight room. After the wedding Zach and I have decided that we want to make exercise a priority for both of us. I’ll keep you posted on the plan as I get it set up, but I’d like to do some combination of running, yoga, & weights.

love you mack

love this

happy birthday my prince

 

Dear Ephraim,

This is one of the first pictures I ever saw of you. It’s from the day I got your referral–February 4, 2009. You were 2 months old and from what they’ve told me, you were an amazing little baby. Today’s your birthday. You just turned 3. I can’t even hardly believe it. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that we’re a family. You’ve been here with me and Caleb for a little over two months and yet, it feels like you’ve been here forever.

You are so brave. Everything in your little world has changed and yet each morning you still greet me with smile and we snuggle while we wait for brother to wake up (and while I wait for the coffee to brew). It’s a precious time. Really soon, Daddy and Mommy are going to get married and then you’ll be able to snuggle with both of us every single day! Mommy’s really excited about that because Daddy is a wonderful man and he’s also super fun to be around. You love it when he tickles you and we love it when you laugh.

I’m trying to write down all of the funny things that you do so that when you’re older I can share them with you. You’re really smart, and are learning so many new things everyday. You are very sweet and helpful, especially towards your little brother. The other day, you were getting your water cup and noticed that Caleb didn’t have his, so you put yours down, and went to get it for him. Sometimes you can get a little mischievous. You’ve already learned how to lock and unlock all of the doors in the house. That’s why all of the locks have duct tape on them. It’s pretty funny how Daddy and I are learning to stay one step ahead of you. Sometimes you still get the best of us and that’s when we’re really thankful for Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Buzz Lightyear is your absolute favorite thing ever and you beg me on a daily basis to watch “Buzz on TB?” Most of the time, I tell you that Buzz is sleeping and that seems to make sense to you, so you’ll go and play with something else. We also love watching Elmo. You’ve learned so many words and phrases from Sesame Street and I can see your little brain working as you are watching and trying to learn English. You’re doing so well and everyday we communicate a little better than the day before. I love our little family language that has developed over the past 2 months. It’s a little bit Amharic, a lot of English, and a heaping tablespoon of words that we’ve just made up. I don’t even realize we have it until people come over and point out that they have no idea what we’ve just said to each other. Caleb and Daddy are in on it too and I have a feeling that we’ll always have our own little language. It warms my heart to think about it. You love to sing and dance, but most of all you love to run and play. Your laugh is infectious and it fills our house with life and joy. I am so thankful that this is the music that will define our home.

I’ve spent some time these past few days sorting through all of your paperwork and I found one of the first descriptions I read about you, “gorgeous, a pure prince, always sleeping with his hands up at his face – loves to snuggle . . .  He is one of God’s special little angels.” These are the words that have echoed through my heart over the last several years. For so long, you grew in my heart while we both waited for God to knit us together as a family. I pray fervently that you know and understand how much I love you. And more than that, how much God loves you too.

You are my pure prince.

You are my miracle son.

Happy Birthday.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

last one, i promise

more on storytelling

abandoning crap

i heart ira

to infinity and beyond!

i said yes!

A little over a year ago I started dating a wonderful man. We make each other laugh a lot. The boys love him. I love him. It’s pretty great. AND, last night he surprised me with a lil’ somethin’.

and I said YES!

first days

. . . with 2, 2 year olds are very, very busy, but I’ll try to post more as we settle in to our new normal.

too cool for school

donations for ethiopian orphanage and foster home

As I’m gearing up for my trip (week countdown has officially started), I’m trying to collect donations for Ephraim’s orphanage and foster home. Please get in touch with me: marykatherinebrock at gmail dot com if you’d like to send something along.  Also, if you live in SC, you can get donations to my parents. My mom will be coming here on September 1 to care for Caleb.

Current, most pressing needs are:

-lice shampoo
-clotrimzole cream
-diaper rash cream
-multivitamin drops for infants

Other needs:

-baby formula (similac is the most requested brand)
-diapers (all sizes)
-new clothes for older children (there is a new law that clothes for orphans coming in the country must be new)
-latex gloves
-flat bed sheets

happy campers.

cleared for travel!!!

I just got the email that I’m cleared for travel to go get Ephraim!!! I’m too excited to write anything more right now, but I’ll try to update as the trip unfolds.  Oh man, did my life just get SO MUCH SWEETER!!

welcome to our family harvey!

We’re so glad you’re here!

(kudos to the schultzes for these amazing pictures)

learn.

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

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making of . . .

love this

espresso & kittens

new pictures

happy birthday caleb!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

seven hundred and thirty

 

 

Dear Caleb,

Today you are seven hundred and thirty days old. You are talking up a storm and you can’t seem to get enough fruit. Your current favorites are blueberries, strawberries, peaches, apples, oranges, and grapes. You don’t care too much for cantaloupe right now, but I’m sure you’ll like it eventually. It’s really yummy when it’s cold and fresh. Your best friend is a little girl named Ocean. You go to her house everyday to play while I go to work. You’re happy there and having Ms. Bekah and Mr. Marc babysit you is a huge blessing for our family. I made you a birthday poster this year and got you some fun things to play with like sidewalk chalk and an octopus that we hook up to the hose and it sprays water everywhere. You really love the water. So far we’ve been to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Murray, Lake Hartwell, as well as gotten a fair share of Auburn City Water via a la hose. You’ve loved all of them and I can’t wait to show you more.  You’ve also developed quite a knack for music. Today we learned the Happy Birthday Song which you were able to sing and strum along on the guitar after only hearing it twice. You LOVE the guitar. For Christmas you got a ukelele and you play it almost all day, everyday. At first you thought it was just a stick and used to bang it everywhere, but after a few repairs, you’ve finally figured out that the ukelele is for strumming, not for hitting. You also love playing the recorder, harmonica, drum, and piano. It’s really amazing to watch you figure out these instruments and I love having our house filled with music.

We’ve been a family for five hundred and twenty nine days so far and hopefully soon you’ll have a brother. His name is Ephraim, which you pronounce, ‘E-bum.’ It’s really cute. We talk a lot about how brother is going to come live with us soon and how you are going to get to play with brother and share a room with him. We look at his pictures together and you know who he is now without me having to tell you. I hope you understand, but more than that I hope that you both grow to love and cherish each other as brothers. He’s going to need you. Especially at the beginning when he won’t know who we are and won’t understand our language. I pray for him everyday.  I pray for you everyday too.  I pray that you will grow up big and strong and healthy. And that you’ll learn to love Jesus and develop the fruit of the spirit.  I pray that you’ll have wisdom and a kind and generous heart.  I also pray that you grow up to love and respect women. I know too many men who don’t and it’s sad to me that so many Christian men fall far short of the standards Christ calls us to. I know that you’ll make mistakes as you get older. We all do. But I pray that you’ll know how special you are and that you’ll grow in the confidence of Christ and his love for you and our family. I love you so much that sometimes I think my heart is going to burst and all the love will just spill out on the floor. It’s really amazing though, instead of bursting, my heart seems to fill up a little bit more with love each day and grows just enough to fill up to the tippy top each time. You are really something kiddo. You are my precious gift. I love you.

Happy birthday!

Love,

Mom

we love breakfast foods

The Slurp

The Smile

The Aftermath

let me tell you what God did

I’m still processing this whole thing. The miracle-wonder that happened to our precious little family last week. I know I’ve posted this a few times already, but a few months ago God gave me Romans 4 as a vision of what He was going to do for my family:

13-15That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.
16This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.

I’m not going to lie. I was terrified when I had to get on that plane on May 24th, not knowing the outcome of Ephraim’s adoption and afraid to meet and fall more deeply in love with a son who I knew God placed in my heart but wasn’t sure if He was going to place in my hands. But something changed in my heart and in my spirit when mom dropped me off at the airport and I was crying, and Caleb was crying, and even buddy dog was crying . . . I remembered God’s original promise to me, “Do this, and I will take care of you.” Somehow my fears began to slough off as I began to let go of the outcome of this journey and focus on the One who brought me to it. In counseling over the past few months,  my talking person (kudo’s to Ms. Bausch for introducing me to that phrase) walked me through the emotional tangles of this whole process and helped me work towards a place of peace with God and His way of working in this situation.

But back to my original intent of this post, I want to tell you what God did. You see a few weeks ago I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. As I got to work that morning, I received an email from my agency that had the following words in all caps: IMPOSSIBLE, NO, IMPOSSIBLE!!!  . . . all in reference to the police letter that Ephraim’s case needed for federal court (i.e. the one document standing in between him becoming my son). In case you aren’t up on your adoption lingo, these words are never good in international adoption correspondence. They usually are a precursor to even more bad news (as in the prior two times I lost my son), which generally means the adoption is closing and here’s the rubber stamp that’s going to put Katie Brock back in counseling for an indefinite period of time. I cried a lot that day. But then, while I was sleeping, God performed a miracle and a 10:08 am the next morning, I received this in my inbox:


Yes indeed.

It’s the missing police letter.

It’s God doing what He said He would do.

It’s the miracle that makes Caleb, Ephraim, & I a We.

 I truly cannot wait to bring him HOME to see what God has in store for his miracle-wonder life.


We love you buddy, hang in there, your momma & brother are coming to get you as soon as we can!!

 

 

he’s a keeper

roller coasters, guns, & kids

Last week I watched a new tv show and in one of the first scenes a character came to work with a gun. After the gun’s appearance, several characters casually mention that a gun that appears in the first act, always shows up in the third. So, I guess the beginning of the first act is a good place to start this story.  This adoption journey began in May of 2007 with a simple prayer asking God to tell me what my response should be to seeing a video about the child soldiers in Uganda . . . and God said, more clearly than anything in my life, “You will be their mother.”

HOLY CRAP.

If you substitute crap for a more  inappropriate word, you might actually get closer to what first when through my head when this happened. And then after that I felt completely insane and started my Jonah moment where I argued with God and his request to use such a vessel as me to do this huge thing. And if I do say so myself, my guns were totally loaded. God, I’m just a graduate student. I only made $12,000 last year and adoptions cost well over $25,000. I don’t have a real job. I’m not even married God, certainly you would never ask me to do such an impossible thing as a single person. And so the wrestling began.  In keeping with my character, I was as stubborn as ever. In keeping with God’s character, He was as persistent as ever. It took several months and a 40-day fast for me to finally realize that no, I wasn’t crazy and yes, God had spoken to me with very specific instructions.  It was during the fast that I began to understand some of what Jesus was communicating to mankind in the Sermon on the Mount. It was also during this time that God communicated with me, as clear as day,

“Do this, and I will take care of you.”

And so it began. In August of 2007, I started to work towards a local adoption, because I figured that I should start in my own backyard . . . but that door was quickly shut by Lee County DHR. Ok, God, I get it, I need to think bigger. And then out of the blue a cousin called and said her friend knew of a sibling group in Atlanta that was looking for a home. Oh cool, I thought. When God closes a door He opens a window right? Yeahhhhh, not so much. After two play dates with the precious children, I was in the process of contacting a lawyer and figuring this whole adoption thing out when the kids were moved into a very different situation and were no longer moving towards adoptability. Well that sucks, I thought. I guess that means I should look even bigger. Maybe internationally?

Little did I know.

I think back on my naivety during this time with a fondness only reserved for oneself during a time of exceptional simplicity, and only available WAY after the fact. With my 20/20 hindsight I can see God moving in my story and the story of my family. He was waiting on the perfect moment. For me to be ready and for the child to be, well, born. He was probably laughing at my do-it-yourselfness just biding His time for His big reveal. That moment when I would FINALLY realize that all this spinning and moving that I do actually doesn’t DO anything, except maybe exhaust me.

 

 

 

And the curtain raises for the third act. Or rather, last Tuesday. When I got to work on said Tuesday, I went through my normal, get coffee, set the mood, check email. I wasn’t expecting what came next.

Hello world!

Welp, our family just got a lil’ bigger!

World, meet my miracle son, Ephraim.

 

Hallelujah!

 

cute meets uke

 

terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

I hate politics.

I hate local politics, I hate national politics, and I hate all of the politics in between. AND I especially hate that politics are standing in between me and my son being able to be a family. I got some bad news today about the police letter that I need in order for my son’s case to be official. Last week I was told that the letter had been made and just needed a signature and stamp. “Well that sounds easy,” I naïvely thought to myself.

I should have known better.

This morning I was told that because of politics between the officials in Addis and the officials at the local level (who have to release the police letter), that my letter hangs in the balance.

Which means that my family hangs in the balance.

Sometimes when I get news like this, I wish I could throw a temper tantrum like Caleb does and stomp my feet, cry, and scream at the top of my lungs. But I know I can’t and I also know that it wouldn’t do any good. So back on my knees I go . . . petitioning the Lord to intervene and perform a miracle.

mix tapes & a bit more about me

A friend and I are in the process of a really interesting dialogue related to planning our futures and as a part of it, I thought I would open up a few more bits of myself to you. Mainly because I want to begin sharing parts of my new journey towards minimalism and share with you what I’ve learned as I’ve begun to rid my life of clutter & stuff in an attempt to learn to release myself from the grips of a consumerist lifestyle. I also want to begin sharing more parts of my life aside from my family and my adoption journey. So here goes. Here’s my list of skills, interests, & what I lovingly refer to as “the weeds”. This list is by no means exhaustive or all inclusive, nor are these in any particular order. Rather, this is a first pass at me trying to concisely communicate where I see myself fitting in the world.

Skills
Assimilating large amounts of information concisely
Networking and befriending others
Global perspective
Interdisciplinary background


 

Interests
Minimalism
Rich living
Living by faith
Travel
Spending quality time with family & friends
Flexibility
Health & Fitness
High quality of life
Social Justice
Work hard/play harder
Growing a business
Working from anywhere in the world
Diversity in my day to day life
Interactivity
Leaving a positive legacy impact

 

 

The Weeds
I believe that Jesus is who he said he was
My faith in that fact is an integral part of who I am
My son is the most important person in my life
My relationships with friends and family are what gives me great purpose and meaning
I really enjoy writing and presenting new ideas
I like the idea of controlling my own destiny and reaping the benefit of my hard work
I could see myself really enjoying building a company that has both a planned social impact as well as a personal financial impact
I enjoy the idea of being in control of my day to day schedule
I think and work most clearly at night but am learning to be a morning worker
I absolutely love good wine and dark, single-source chocolate and would love to be involved in those industries if the opportunity strikes
Finding and maintaining balance is integrally important (and directly related to) my overall happiness
Exercise, eating whole foods, and having a good work/life balance are all key to this overall balance
I am most content when I’ve had a full and productive day surrounded by those I love
I find a great deal of peace and rejuvenation through finding time for inner solitiude . . . and I can experience this solitude in a crowded room
I listen to music all. the. time.
I personally believe that having a sound track to one’s day can make it or break it
I believe that making a thoughtful mix tape is one of the most vulnerable things you can share with someone (platonically speaking)

 

INFP meets ENFJ

. . . and it is a match made in Heaven. Literally.

 

INFP (Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)

“Taking Everything to Heart”

Because INFPs represent such a small percentage of the American population, they naturally feel alone and a bit out of step with our bustling, pragmatic, and product-oriented society. Typically INFPs struggle to find their niche in the world of work and in society as a whole. Since most INFPs don’t feel comfortable in traditional organizations, especially businesses, they spend much of their early careers trying to fit in where they clearly do not. Instinctively, INFPs know they are different; they’ve felt it all their lives.  Understanding how and why they are different is a validation of their uniqueness and they usually feel better about themselves as a result of learning about their type. Many INFPs find the framework and language of Type also helps them deal with tensions and conflicts and reduces misunderstandings between their friends . . .

INFPs  need to know that their values and feelings are legitimate and that the people they care about and love them in spite of the roller coaster of emotions they often ride. Unconditional love is as important to these [people] as water and air . . . Teaching INFPs to communicate their opinions and beliefs even in the face of criticism, negativity, skepticism, or direct confrontation helps them to grow to have faith in themselves and become assertive about their beliefs . . .

At their best, INFPs are deeply faithful and compassionate people with strong convictions and great empathy. They are creative, visionary, and inspired problem solvers and original and alternative thinkers. With support and encouragement, INFPs grow up to trust their inner voice, confidently living the sometimes alternative, artistic, or spiritual life to which they are called. (Excerpts taken from Nurture by Nature)

More on INFPs

ENFJ (Extravert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)

“A Thousand Watts of Enthusiasm”

Enthusiasm is perhaps the most obvious and consistent trait young ENFJs share. They are eager and ready to face the world with a smile at all times. They are energetic and excited about playing with other children or abut interacting with adults, provided they feel safe and supported by a nearby parent. Young ENFJs often smile easily at strangers and seem to understand the power of a flirtatious look . . .

While it is obvious that all children need abundant love, acceptance, and support to grow and thrive, ENFJs can’t live without it. They need their parents to listen to their opinions and beliefs and to know that they are accepted as legitimate and important if they are to develop their full measure of self-esteem . . . ENFJs who feel free to express themselves without fear of rejection, embarrassment, or criticism grow up confident, accepting of others, and responsible for themselves . . .

At their best, ENFJs are loving, genuine, and empathetic people with great personal charm and warmth. Their natural compassion and global view of the world can make them charismatic and inspiring leaders. ENFJs can have enormous and productive creative energy and the enthusiasm and commitment to complete the projects they care about. They can motivate and encourage others to reach their own highest potential. When encouraged to trust themselves and their values, they become healthy, strong, open-minded adults, with a huge capacity for kindness and generosity. (Excerpts taken from Nurture by Nature)

More on ENFJs

confide entirely

I came across this quote the other day and it made me stop and think and wonder if the same is true in my life? I’ve given it a good thinking for the past several days and  I’m still not sure.  I think for me the faith part has certainly been a growing and a stretching as I had no idea I would need God as much as my entire being relys on Him these days. I tend (*cough) to be extremely independent. Those who know me well can testify to this. Those who know me even better know how I asked for an alarm clock for Christmas when I was 4 so I could wake up all by myself.  Or how I wanted my mom to teach me how to ride a two wheeler, but she was busy with something and told me she could come outside in 30 minutes.  I’m not sure how long it took me, but it was less than thirty minutes when my sass-a-frass five year old self marched back in our house and announced that there was no need for her to come, I had already taught myself. Whew! Mom, Dad, I have no idea how you survived me, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be eternally gradeful to Dr. James Dobson for surviving my childhood. That said, independence and reliance on anything or anyone or God doesn’t necessarily come as easily to me as it may to others.

But God knows this. He made me, and when He did, he knew that my fierce ‘can do’-ed-ness would help me to accomplish a great many things on this to do list called life. It would also help me survive some pretty gnarly experiences and navigate difficult relationships with resiliency and grace. BUT He also knew that I would take a big kick in the pants with this adoption, and that I would feel defeated, and hopeless, and lost, and a million other emotions all at the same time.  And that I would need to learn to rely on Him. Sometimes that’s through a friend, sometimes that’s through prayer, sometimes a quiet moment by the sea; nonetheless, these sometimes moments all began to add up and little by little He drew out of me a characteristic that was quite uncharacteristic of me-reliance in the form of faith.

I’ve learned to really believe the Bible when it says that God will care for me, that he knows the plans He’s laid out for me–that there are plans in the first place.  I’ve also learned that God really does use problems and pain as a refining fire on our lives.  I’m here to testify that it is no fun at all. But by showing me glimpses of His story, I’m learning to lean on Him, and turn over the keys to my life. You see, if the adoption had gone through in July of 2009, I would never know the joy of having Caleb in my life. I also wouldn’t have ever (most likely) ever considered adopting two children as a single 30 year old mom.  I can see a bigger story, and for that I am so thankful. It shows me glimpses of light on my path that has been dark for so, so long. I like to imagine these as glimpses as tealights hanging from the forrest trees as I walk by them.  Giving off just enough light for me to make it a little bit further down the path, but not enough for me to see the entire journey.

So here I am tonight. Sitting at my computer after a great weekend of playing with Caleb, expectantly waiting for the paperwork to come through for my other son and to get the call that says, come, he is waiting for you. I believe it will come.  But I also believe that God is in ultimate control of this situation and that I can rest in knowing He knows what I do not.  I do not know the when of all of this, and yet, somehow, my control-freak-esh-ness is not freaking out. I think this is a gift. The peace that I feel is truly a gift from the Lord.  It is a peace I have not known for a very, very long time. I welcome it like a warm blanket and a good book on a cold winter day.

sometimes you just need a good

scrrrrraaaaaaattttttcccccchhhhh.

ohhhhh snap!

 

Thank you internets for being awesome.

love it

perspective

via thelongbrake

 

rugged road

I can’t seem to get this Judee Sill song out of my head tonight. Things appear to be coming together with the adoption, but it was and still is a rugged road, which so reminds me of Addis (see below). For those not connected on Facebook, court did not pass on Monday.  Only 1 of the 3 letters I needed were in the file, but suprisingly (to me), I was really OK. For the first time since I arrived, I did not openly weep in front of strangers. (*Note: If you are one of those strangers, I sincerely apologize for my un-hingedness, I usually reserve those moments for when I’m alone and almost never cry in front of people, much less people I just met). But all crying aside, God gave me an extra sense of peace as the judge spoke, and it’s a peace I certainly needed.

 

The Road Where I Lived
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Up to that point, I slept a sum total of about 4 hours each day I was in Ethiopia, and not at all the night before court. There was even a crew of us who founded the 4 a.m. coffee club each morning and while I was thankful for the company, the lack of sleep did nothing to help calm my nerves.  However, after court, a group of us (we were/are in the same boat with missing paperwork) went to the Sheraton and had a nice lunch and much needed glass of wine. This was also the first time on the trip that I think I was able to get through at least half of my meal. When we got back to the guest house around 3:30, I decided I needed a nap . . . and then woke up at 6:30 the next morning! I’m not gonna lie, I was a little stiff when I woke up because I think I didn’t move almost the entire time, BUT I felt so refreshed and at peace with the world, myself, and this adoption that I didn’t even care. God breathed an inexplicable air of peace over me.

Just this morning I got the great news that another of the letters (the MoWA letter) arrived in my file!  This is a miracle beyond miracles because my paperwork was submitted to court after the March 8 deadline and MoWA drastically decreased the number of letters they release on a daily basis to 5 for all cases submitted after that date. This essentially amounts to a 90% reduction in intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia. With over 4 million orphans, numerous adoption agencies operating in Ethiopia AND each child’s case needing a MoWA letter to be complete, you can imagine the odds of me getting this pivitol letter within 3 days of my court appearance. Like I said, it’s a miracle.

So today, Caleb is now officially 1 piece of paper shy of having a big brother.  Please continue to pray for us and this process. As each day passes I am growing more confident in my faith that God is continuing his promise to take care of me. I believe that He who began this work will be faithful to complete it.

expectant faith

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life.
Psalm 62: 1-2

 

 

morning prayers

I wait expectantly.

Sunday Morning Prayers
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2011

 

His miracles are staggering, his wonders are surprising. His kingdom lasts and lasts, his sovereign rule goes on forever.
Daniel 4:3

 

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.
1 Corinthians 1:7

do this, and I will take care of you

Do this, and I will take care of you.

This is the promise God revealed to me at the very beginning of this adoption journey in August of 2007. As I walk through today and tomorrow, and the days to come, I will walk in the faith of my faith-father Abraham. I will believe as Abraham believed. I will dare to trust God to do what only God can do: with a word make something out of nothing. Even though it appears hopeless that the judge will approve my son’s case tomorrow morning, I choose to believe anyway, based on what God said he would do. I will not tiptoe around God’s promise.  I will not ask cautiously skeptical questions. I will plunge into the promise that God made to me.  I will come up strong, ready for God. I will be sure that God will make good on what He said. I will embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when conditions were equally hopeless. I will believe that the sacrificed Jesus made me fit for God, set me right with God.

Romans 4
Trusting God
1-3 So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.
4-5If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

. . .

13-15That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.
16This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.
17-18We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
19-25Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.


the best medicine

After such a long, hard, and tearful day yesterday of saying goodbye for now to our children, a bunch of us went to dinner at a restaurant called Yod Abyssinia. The food was great and it was so good to be in a place where we could all relax and ‘just be’ for a minute. I know I needed it.

 

conversations, dark chocolate, & authenticity

This is a blog I wrote a long time ago, but never posted because I wasn’t sure how to finish it.  This morning, I think I figured it out. However,  I wanted to keep it in the same context, so just know that the “tonight” I refer to was actually almost a year ago before all of this adoption stuff resurfaced.  As I read over what I began to write so many months ago, I realized that this night was actually the planting of the mustard seed of courage I would need to walk through this adoption process yet again. Anyway, here goes:

Tonight I shared some precious moments with a dear friend.  Good wine, good food, and GREAT chocolate. We always share these moments, those nuggets of conversation that take a few weeks to digest fully even though you understand them as they are spoken. But tonight was set apart from the norm because after she left, I felt courage like I haven’t known in a very, very long time.  The central theme of tonight’s conversation centered around our titles for a little (and by little, I really mean REALLY HUGE) project she’s launching as I type this.  We decided that my official title will be, “Chief Conversationalist and Keeper of the Chocolate.”

I LOVE IT.

I love the idea that my role in all of this is to share moments with people, to invest in them, to share life, to talk. . .over some chocolate. . .dark of course (with maybe a hint of coffee and honey). I’m also willing to add a slice of cheesecake if necessary.

And then I got to thinking about my dad.

And I realized that a lot of what he does is exactly this.  He shares life with people.  He invests in them.  He gets in the trenches and lets people be real because he is real with them.  Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it hurts, but all of the time it’s authentic because he is authentic. I strive for that kind of authenticity because to me authenticity is intrinsically related to integrity.  And it’s hard. It’s hard to be the same person all of the time, in all situations.  It’s hard to not hide behind a facade that everything’s OK when everything isn’t OK. I feel like it is especially hard for me as an introvert because my tendency is to close in on myself and keep things in my own mind.  But life isn’t in my head. Life is in relationship with others, and as far as I can tell, people aren’t mind readers.

Soon after my conversation with Kellie, I stumbled across a blog and read the line, “The rest is a blur, which lasted all of five minutes and most of eternity.”  Recently (and by recently I mean almost the entirety of the past three years) my life has felt like this.  Big news, almost daily.  Lots of changes. Even more uncertainty. I don’t even know where to start sorting out how to be authentic when life seems to be coming at me at a million miles an hour.

(here’s where I started writing again this morning)

As I’ve walked through this adoption again, I’ve had days (more than I care to acknowledge) where I feel inadequate, weary, and sometimes just plain tired of trying to keep trying. But at the same time, the more I’ve learned about myself and my faith through this process, the more I feel that I am learning to be authentic.  I’m learning to share what’s going on in my head and my heart with others (this blog is a big part of that learning for me).  And as I’m opening up and acknowledging my own humanity, I’m also learning to accept it.  To be content in my own skin. As I’m doing this I feel like I’m learning how to help others do the same.  And it brings me back to the verse I keep in my pocket from Matthew 5.


This passage reminds me that it is OK for me to feel empty somedays.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Today is too. Yesterday I was able to visit my son for 2 hours and then I had to leave the orphanage and say goodbye to him.  It was awful. He was crying because he wanted to go with me and didn’t understand why he couldn’t. I was crying because I did not have a choice. I had to leave my son. And then I have to get on an airplane in a few days and fly half way around the world and leave him here. It is the worst feeling in the world. I promised him that I would be back. And then spent the rest of the day yesterday weeping before the Lord and petitioning God for a miracle that He will place the missing paperwork in my folder for court on Monday so that I can keep my promise and return for my son.

I will not be allowed to see him again until the US Embassy allows me to come back to Ethiopia and bring him home.  It could be weeks or it could be months.  Right now it feels like an eternity.  But as this verse promises, when I am in this state God embraces me.  He fills me up. He opens my eyes to see the world through His eyes.  That’s the kind of authenticity I want. I want to see the others as Jesus sees them. I want to know God as Jesus does. I want to have the faith of a mustard seed that God will fulfill his promises in my life. I strive to believe that God can and will perform a miracle and bring this adoption to completion on Monday when I appear in court.  Again, I ask that you join me in this prayer of petition that the missing papers and letters will be in my file and that the judge will finalize my son’s adoption on Monday, May 30th, 2011.

 

If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise–and God’s promise at that–you can’t break it. This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way, and then simply embracing Him and what He does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. Romans 4: 13-16

 

So here I sit. In a guest house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia surrounded by strangers. 15 miles from a son I cannot visit and  half a world away from another one who I miss with my entire being.  Trusting God and His way.  Striving to simply embrace Him and what He is doing. Trying my best to be authentic with my faith.

 

i believe in miracles

Just as God miraculously makes the sun to rise each morning over this city. Just as He makes the molecules in my body work in a rhythm that gives me life each day. Just as He created the stars and the moon and the heavens above.  Just as he healed the cancer from my father’s body. Just as he brought Caleb, the most precious gift I have ever recieved, into my life. Just as he rescued me from my own sins and depravity. Just as he called me into this adoption process. I believe the He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I believe that these are miracles. I have faith that the three pieces of paper my case is missing will be in my file at court on Monday. My God can move mountains, papers and letters are nothing to him. Please join me in petitioning the Lord for this miracle.

 

Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?  As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the GOD WHO CONCEIVED YOU IN LOVE WILL BE EVEN BETTER? Matthew 7:7-10

today is a hard day

things i carry

This is a passage from the Sermon on the Mount (Message translation) found in Matthew 5. When I did the 40 day fast back in the Summer of 2007 as I prayed through the adoption calling on my life, this passage was the main focus for that time.  I had always heard people say that the Sermon on the Mount changed their lives, but it wasn’t until I read this version of it and prayed through it over the last several years that I began to understand it’s meaning. God continues to knead these words in my life.

 

I’m not sure who gave this to me, but I feel like I’ve had it forever. On the outside are the Chinese characters for courage.  I don’t wear this all of the time back home, but on this trip, I thought I could use the extra reminder.

 

This is a necklace that my sweet and dear friend Kellie gave me when we first began living life together.  By it I am reminded not only of our friendship, but of the interconnectedness of life.  I was first encouraged and impressed that it was made by a company who employs single moms, but over the years this necklace has developed a much deeper meaning for me than a just a contribution to a social enterprise.  To me it represents that all humans are connected. In living out my faith, a big part of the call of a Christian is to love my neighbor, regarless of whether they live in Opelika, Alabama or Surat, India, or Soddo, Ethiopia. I wear this necklace nearly everyday to remind myself of these things.

 

This is a note Kellie (can you tell that she’s an important person in my life?) gave to me right before I left for the airport along with a very precious gift that I’ll share at another time.  I think this one is pretty self explanatory.

well, he peed on me

So I guess that’s a good sign that he’s comfortable around me.  Actually when I got home to the guest house, all of the workers were quite excited for me because in Ethiopia it is considered good luck when I child pees on your leg because it means you’re going to have a baby.  At this point, I’ll take anything. And I’ll also take advantage of the laundry service.

All joking aside, our visit was PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS!  When I first walked in the room, he was timid and shy . . .for all of about 3 seconds.  After that he sat in my lap and we looked through a picture book of his new family (our family!!!) and I tried to communicate to him that I am his ənat (mommy) and that Caleb is his tanash wändm (little brother).  He doesn’t speak any English, but I am not worried about that, for it will come in all due time.  I was also able to share videos of Caleb with him on my iPhone and show him more of our family.  We also played a silly little game called Ninja Fruit to try and get him to interact a little more, and let’s be honest, I wanted him to think his Mommy had the coolest toys.  We then went to the play room with all of the children and I saw the two year old little boy truly come out of his shell.  It was so good to see him play in real life. After playing for a bit I met with his nurse who told me about all of his medical conditions (he’s pretty much healthy as a buck except for a runny nose. . .but what little boy doesn’t have a runny nose?).

After this I was able to feed him lunch and we looked through our family book a little more.  Lunch consisted of rice with little bits of meat, a side of potatoes, greenbeans, and bread.  He wasn’t too fond of the potatoes or the greenbeans.  It was actually really funny because I tried to chop one green bean up really small and hide it in the rice, but after chewing for a second, he figured out my secret plan and spit the chewed up greenbean out.  Reminds me of someone else in our family *cough* Mack Brock *cough*.

After lunch we went together and met with his psychologist who explained that mentally and emotionally, he is ALSO healthy as a buck. So, so good to hear.  It was during this meeting that said peeing incident happened and I was allowed to go up to his room and change him and put him down for his nap.  It was so precious. He gave me the biggest hug and then curled up into bed holding our family book.  I tried my best not to cry (thank goodness for sunglasses) until we got back into the van to come back to our guest house. What a special, special gift it is to be able to embrace that little boy in the flesh and to know that in his little mind he’s beginning to understand that I am his mommy and he is my son.  Adoption is such a strange, messy, and beautiful process.  I can’t wait until there is more to share.

Tomorrow morning I will get to visit with him again and then I have to go over all of his paperwork for court on Monday. Please continue to lift up this process in your prayers.  We are still missing the police clearance letter and the recommendation letter from MoWA.  Please pray that these are ready and presented at my court date on May 30th.  It’s a big, big deal that these letters get there.  Thank you so much for journeying with me in this process.  I’ll keep you posted as things unfold.

Until then I figured I’d post a picture of tanash wändm because, let’s be real, he’s so stinkin’ cute (and just so you know, his big brother’s going to be quite the heartbreaker too).  I can’t wait until this process is complete and I can share his pictures with you as well.

 

surreal

 

 

As I sit here drinking my coffee (kudos to Ethiopia for the black gold that gives me that extra umph every morning) watching the sunrise, it feels just like any other morning. Except that it’s not.  In a few short hours I will get on a bus heading to the Acacia Village and meet the little boy I’ve watched grow up in pictures and videos for the past two and a half years for the first time. Part of me wants to laugh, part of me wants to cry tears of joy that this day has finally arrived, and if I’m honest a small part of me is terrified that he will be frightened by me, the stranger.  There is also a part of me that is fighting for hope, and it is not a small part.  Hope that this little boy will be my son.  Hope that I won’t have to go through the heartbreak of losing him again.  The adoption is still a maybe, but as each day passes, God is granting me a little more peace about the whole mess that this has been.  Just this morning I was reading in Isaiah and came across this passage which gives me great comfort in the power of the Lord to move mountains and perform miracles and how we as Christians are to proclaim the good news of His work.  My hearts desire is that my life echos this good news.

Climb a high mountain, Zion. You’re the preacher of good news. Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem. You’re the preacher of good news. Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid! Tell the cities of Judah, “Look! Your God!” Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power, ready to go into action. He is going to pay back his enemies and reward those who have loved him. Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, Hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture. Isaiah 40:9-11

Right now I feel like a helpless little lamb and it is a comfort to know that in this state, God has me in his arms and is giving me one of those reassuring all-encompassing hugs that lets me know no matter what, I am His. I am loved. I am beloved. I am not alone.

When my parents moved me to college back in 1999 (eeek!), my mom gave me a bible with a special letter she wrote to me on the inside cover.  In that letter she encouraged me to spread my wings and fly.  To be an eagle.  This morning, I was reminded of this in another passage from Isaiah, which essentially says the same thing my mom wrote in her letter so many years ago.

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, ”God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.  Isaiah 40:27-31

For the past few weeks (well months if I’m truly honest) I’ve felt like a tired dropout and I am so thankful that God promises through this verse to give me strength and energy to spread my wings and soar like an eagle.  So here I fly in the next little bit to meet my little prince.

how to change your life: compassion

Today I was blessed to meet two of the kids I sponsor through Compassion International. We first met in January of 2010 when I was here getting Caleb, and I was very fortunate to be able to spend more time with them on this trip. We had a great time getting to know each other a little better and needless to say, their soccer skills put me to shame. I don’t usually talk much about giving or organizations in this space, but if you have $38 dollars to spare each month, sponsoring a child through Compassion International will change your life and the lives of the children a thousandfold.  It’s definitely a better return on investment than anything I’ve ever seen come from Wall Street.

Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
Luke 12:33-34


ethiopian sunrise and a room with a view

welp, it’s a maybe!

Just a quick update because I still have to go pack and try and make it to the airport on time, but the birth mother gave her consent and I’m still waiting on all of the letters to go through (see 50/50). There’s a chance they could be there by my court date on the 30th. Pray! Pray! Pray!

(f.y.i. I probably won’t have much internet connectivity in Ethiopia, but I’ll try and keep you guys updated as I can)

a little light around here

on faith

50/50

Just got an update from my agency and things are still 50/50 as to whether or not the adoption will go through the first stage of court next week. Here are some specific prayer requests of things that need to fall into place in order to get through this process and bring home little man:

-Please pray that the MoWCY releases their letter in time for the first court hearing on May 23rd. It’s a 50/50 chance that this letter will be ready in time.  There is nothing I can do on this end to ensure that this letter comes or ensure that it will be issued in favor of the adoption, so please pray to that regard in both.

-Please pray that the local Soddo police release their signed letter for this case in time for the first court hearing on May 23rd. In order for this to happen we also need a Zonal Administration letter to be released before this date as well.  Right now, neither of those letters have come through.

-Please pray for the birth mother.  Her court hearing is May 23rd.  Please pray that she is able to show up and give an accurate testimony for this adoption.  Please also pray that God will comfort her and surround her with love.

-I leave on May 23rd and I ask that you pray for safe travels for me.  I will also need a tremendous amount of emotional fortitude because I will meet him several times prior to my court hearing on May 30th and then have to fly home without him. Please pray that at my court hearing on May 30th, all goes well with my consent and that the case is approved.

-Please pray that God will provide the financial resources needed to continue this adoption process.  Right now the costs are hovering just above $15,000 and I still need $7,800 to pay for all of the fees and travel expenses. Given that this adoption has happened so quickly, I am literally flying by the seat of my pants trying to cover these expenses.  So far so good, but there’s still quite a ways to go.  Please pray for provision in this area.

 

Thank you so much for standing with me through this process.

 

 

thirty so far

This past Fall I hit the big 3-0 mark. And while the birthday celebration was with strangers, some of whom would become friends, it was unforgettable to say the least. I was travelling for work and we had just arrived at the Sabi Sands Region of Kruger National Park in South Africa. I couldn’t have dreamed of a more idyllic location for such a milestone birthday. But this post isn’t about birthdays or fancy safari’s. This post is about risk and about seeking and following God’s will for my life even though it is risky, and hard, and beautiful all at the same time.

 

 

But first things first, a little background leading up to said birthday in paradise.  The trip was actually a near miss because as a family, we all weren’t sure what was in store for Dad as he bravely walked through his battle with cancer, and I wasn’t about to be out of town if he needed me.  Fortunately, all is still well with regard to his health and we count ourselves among the blessed. It was a crazy time for our family, as well as for me as I wrapped up my dissertation, learned more about single motherhood,  and tried to navigate the next chapter of my life. But back to October. Needless to say, the trip was incredible and as I set up for our MBAs to travel there again this Spring, I soaked up every. single. minute. in South Africa.  You see, it had been a while since I first set foot on that soil in 2001, where I began my love affair with the country and started my explorations of the African continent.

 

 

The 2001 trip is actually a big part of Caleb’s adoption story because it was there that some of the first seeds of adoption were planted in my heart. I would go through many years of growing pains before I would acknowledge the sapling growing, and by 2007 it was a full grown tree I could no longer pretend didn’t exist. And so it seems appropriate that nearly a decade later, South Africa would be the beginning of yet another story. Little did I know that when I boarded the plane on that foggy morning this Fall, I would come back and my life would be changed forever.

 

 

You see, I got this e-mail as I was sitting at the Johannesburg airport waiting to fly back to the US:

________

Katie,

I tried to reach you yesterday to let you know that XXX’s documents have been completed and he is being moved to the foster home at Acacia Village.  I need to know if you are still interested in this little guy, or if you are even ready to move ahead with another adoption at this time.

I have checked with our CWAE staff about the status of your dossier in Ethiopia.   They have informed me that it will be necessary for you to do a new dossier since it has been almost two years since your original one was completed.  Given that XXX’s documents are ready, we would need to have you CIS approved and your updates shipped to Ethiopia within 4 mos.

Please know that you are under no obligation to accept XXX – we have plenty of families waiting on the referral of a little boy.   We just wanted to let you know he is available now so that the decision could be yours.  Let me know what you think….

God bless

_________

 

And Just. Like. That.

The journey begins again.

 

If you kept up with my adoption story, you can probably put two and two together and figure out that XXX is the son I originally tried to adopt but lost in June of 2009, and again in February of 2010.  If you are new to this story, here’s hoping the third time’s a charm.  And to bring everyone up to speed on the last 8 months of my life, it’s basically been a hail storm of paperwork, meetings, fingerprintings, form filling outings, thousands of dollarings, and on and on and on. There have also been moments of pure excitement, followed by moments of pure fear, followed by many, many more moments of trying to just concentrate on the things that are in front of me. On breathing, on teaching, on working, on mothering the cutest little boy I have ever met in my life (see below for additional proof). These months have been busy to be sure.  But they have also been filled with enough quiet moments for me to sit and try and wrap my brain around the implications of this decision on my life and on my family.

 

 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared or if I didn’t feel inadequate to take on another child. But, I also would be lying if I said that God did not call me to this process and if He, the Creator and Maker of all good things, did not birth this child in my heart in August of 2007 when I first began this journey. For me, adoption is a live manefestation of my faith. I cannot fathom my life without Caleb. I did not realize how big my heart could grow and stretch and how it is possible for me to love someone so much that I would literally move mountains to have and hold him in my life. I only recently realized in my naieve understanding of parenthood (with all 16 months of experience), that God would reveal to me how he sees me as his adopted child.  His beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

God, in His infinite wisdom has graced me with a few key verses that have helped me brave the past 8 months as life seemed to move into a hyper-mode of uncertainty and chaos.  Here are just a few of them:

Romans 5: 3-5There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

And,

Romans 4:4-5If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

There are no guarantees that this time around that I will come home with another child. The odds are stacked quite high that our little family will not have a brother. There have been many tears and conversations with my intimate circle about what I will do if tragedy strikes again. How I will handle this loss yet another time? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that it will not kill me. I also quite intimately know how close to emptiness I will feel. And how important it will be for me to surround myself with those that love me and are willing to be around me as my ‘uglies’ spill out as they inevitably do when I face challenges. But I choose to have hope. And I hope that our story will be different this time. I hope that there will be a happy ending. A wise person in my path said that I have been quite delicately teetered between grief and hope these last 8 months. Quite honestly I do not know how much longer I can keep it up. Now days, it feels as though the uncertainty has sucked all of the life out of me and it takes all that I am to be present for Caleb. The rest of the time I am in auto-pilot, going through the motions of my life. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. And on May 23rd, in less than 2 weeks, I will board a plane to Addis Ababa and meet HIM for the very first time and will then go to court to give my consent for HIS adoption. If all goes well, I will travel again to get him 6-12 weeks after a successful court hearing.

 

It is with tempered emotions that I tell you these things.

 

You see, I have gotten this far before and I know how un-guarantee-able this process is. But go I will. As boldly as I can muster, trusting all the while that if this adoption goes through and I can bring HIM home, it will be a miracle of the Lord’s, and of His only. So I ask you to join with me in prayer. Prayer for a miracle. Prayer that I can find peace and maintain hope through these coming months. Prayer that I can still be the best mom I can be for Caleb, no matter how this goes. Prayer that God with bestow my family with another of His children. Prayer that in the broken ashes of despair, he will bring redemption to our story and to my family.

Romans 4:13-15That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it. This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.


sold the freezer, now on to the car

2008 Honda CR-V EX-L


Excellent Condition, both interior and exterior well cared for
Location: Auburn, AL or Columbia, SC
Price: $23,500
Mileage: 42,100
Exterior Color: White
Interior Color: Grey
Transmission: Automatic
Engine: Inline 4
Doors: 4
Bodystyle: SUV
Drivetrain: Four Wheel Drive
Great Gas Mileage: 26 MPG Hwy/20 MPG City
Clean Carfax Vehicle History Report

This car is a great option for the average commuter as well as a great family car. As with most Honda’s there is a low cost of ownership, and high quality and safety ratings. The car drives great and is comfortable for both short and long road trips. I haven’t had any problems with the car, just want something a little less fancy.

EXTRAS: Heated Leather Seats, Sun Roof, Moon Roof, Roof Rack, 4×4, Leather Seats, Premium Sound System, Six Disk CD Changer, Satellite Radio, Privacy Glass, Keyless Entry, Steering Wheel Controls, Child Safety Locks, New Tires, and more!

still trying to sell this freezer. . .any takers?

No, seriously. I have one and I don’t need it anymore. . .here are the details:

**ENERGY STAR APPLIANCE**
Model Number: LFFN15M5HW
I only used the freezer for 3 months and had no issues with it, it’s just too big for my needs. Original price $399 from Lowe’s. I have all manual and warranty information.
$325
Only serious inquires please.
Local pickup only.

 

never a dull moment

cutie pa tootie

the boogie

 

the odd couple

simply lovely

alabama stereotype, check!

pilanesberg, south africa

Tinashé

do not support the arts

anyone in the market for a freezer?

No, seriously. I have one and I don’t need it anymore. . .here are the details:

**ENERGY STAR APPLIANCE**
Model Number: LFFN15M5HW
I only used the freezer for 3 months and had no issues with it, it’s just too big for my needs. Original price $399 from Lowe’s. I have all manual and warranty information.
$325
Only serious inquires please.
Local pickup only.

happy new year! from our family to yours

Happy New Year! from Katie Brock on Vimeo.

island life, part II


we are fam-i-ly

because everybody needs a little dancing santa in their lives

sevusevu

Presenting the kava to Tui Mali.  For more info go here.

island life part 1

yawn sequence

leopard

so this exists

and also has the ability to make me laugh outloud. every. single. time.

south africa

love this

by far the cutest lion I’ve ever seen. . .

full life = boring blog

I’ll take the former every time.

i heart sesame street

skype:sanity that keeps you pleasant everywhere

woah!!!

happiness is the color blue

after

before

that smile

love.

picture a day keeps the blues away

aquarium

i heart ryan adams

the lion

hell in a handbasket

troo!

a note from caleb

From the Elevation Worship Blog:

“Today is September 7. And today our new full length worship album, “Kingdom Come”officially releases. Head over to iTunes to grab it now. Over a year ago, we began writing songs for this season in our church’s life. It’s been the most humbling year we’ve experienced as a worship ministry so far, as we’ve pressed into the Lord to give us songs for our people. We labored over lyrics. We labored over melodies. God gave us the songs to meet our people where they were. He gave our church songs so that we could voice our desperation for him, our adoration of him, and our desire to see him move mightily in our city.

He gave us songs like “Give Me Faith” so our people could declare with one voice, “I may be weak, but your Spirit’s strong in me!”

We’ve seen our church hold to the words, “If I lose it all, You’re enough. If I gain the world, You’re enough” in the song “You Are Enough” birthed out of our Philippians series last fall.

Together, we’ve sung the Gospel truth in “Mercy Reigns”: “I’m forgiven, washed inside a love that never let’s go.”

And we’ve rallied our hearts and voices around Jesus’ call to his Church as we’ve proclaimed, “Now’s the time for us to rise and carry hope and let love shine, and show this world that Mercy is alive.”

So, our hope is that these songs will inspire you. That they’ll stir faith and hope from within you. That on your worst day, you’ll hear these lyrics and remember the faithfulness of our God. And on your best day, you’ll be compelled to offer up praise to our God.

And we’re making a tangible impact on our world with this album release. Buy it today and 100% of the proceeds will go to provide clean water for families in Uganda through Turn On The Tap. We’re all in this together. Let’s rise up and be the Church God intends us to be.”

From Caleb:

Dear Uncle Mack,

Thank you for being the golden voice that sings me to sleep every single night.  I really love hearing you sing and I can’t wait until I’m big and can see you play in real life.  My mom tells me that you’re really special and that you love me very much.  I love you too.  I know I don’t know much about being a big kid, but I know a whole, whole lot about being a little one.  And boy do I need a lot of things like water and love and attention and food and milk.  It’s so cool that you are giving water to those kids in Uganda.  Somebody loved me like that when I was in Ethiopia and they gave me clean water too so that I could stay alive and be healthy until mom, grandma, and Aunt Meredith could come get me.  I bet there are a bunch of kids in Uganda who are just like me and need good water so they can stay alive and be healthy too.  Mom says that one day when I’m big we can play basketball together.  She says that you’re really good, so I’m going to have to practice lots and lots.  Good thing I have a lot of energy!  I love you and am  excited that I get to grow up and learn how to love Jesus from you and Pop.  Mom says that you and Pop are a lot a like and that I’m very special because God chose me to be in this family and that I grew in her heart, but also in yours too.  I feel very special when she says stuff like that and it makes me happy that I have an Aunt, and an Uncle, and a Grandma, and a Grandpa that love me very much.  We will have fun when I visit Grandma and Pop in a few weeks.  I am excited to see you again.

Love,

Caleb

(p.s. Tell Maebe dog I said GANNNNNNNNG-GA! (she’ll know what you mean))

love.

i say ummmm way too much

So this semester I’m team teaching my first video based course in the Executive MBA program here at Auburn. Today William, our super fantastic office helper, gave me a copy of my class.  He also recommended that I NOT watch the video because it would weird me out.

Welp, he was right.

In conclusion, I’ve successfully eliminated TV personality from my list of potential careers, I need stand up straight, and also, I say ummmmm WAY too much.

love this

thanks ralph

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . . . With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

hmmmmmm

slightly polite, but not quite grammatically correct spam

alabama parking lot

love you dad.

via my Dad’s blog

the countdown.

holy moly!

So my brother’s new song got released on iTunes today and is already at #11!

If you have .99 cents to spare, here’s the link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/kingdom-come-single/id383904087

SO PROUD OF YOU MACK, AND OF THE WORK YOU GUYS ARE DOING AT ELEVATION!!

favorite blog as of late

things i miss

Mel street at midnight.

100% awesome

happy birthday kiddo

I am so glad you are in my life. I love you.

-mom

but a dr. none the less

ahhhhhhhhh

t-minus 13 hours and counting

things i like

i hope i don’t ever fit into a box

the original

best wedding invite EVER.

via the wedinator

snapshot

this is amazing and I think everybody should vote for Zach

GO HERE TO VOTE FOR ZACH

Thanks Sam!

raw

When I wake up in the mornings I look pretty terrible. It usually takes me a few minutes to get my bearings, drink my coffee and generally get my day started. Some mornings are rougher than others. Recently they’ve been harder than most; mainly because I write best and most clearly at night. I think last night I finally went to sleep around 4:30 and tonight I’m already well passed the midnight hour. But as I’m learning with Caleb, babies don’t know the concept of sleeping in, and things get started in my house between 6:30 and 7.  Everyday. And work is still there waiting for me. And my students are still showing up for class. And Caleb still needs fairly constant attention. Sleep or no sleep, it is what it is.  And I need to keep writing because I need to finish this dissertation. I need to begin building our life for my son. For myself. For our family.

These photographs are from a photoshoot I did with my dear friend Alana.  At the time it was kind of a joke. She woke me up at 7, drove me to the studio and took these before I was allowed to drink coffee. I am fairly certain that in some countries this is classified as torture.  These were portraits for a photography class she was taking and we both thought it would be hilarious to capture me in this pre-dawn state. The further I get away from them though, the less they are funny and the more they are me.

This is me.

No make up.

No sleep.

No coffee.

Raw.

And yet, I think there’s something innately beautiful about this state. As terrible as I look, I think these pictures are one of the few times I’ve let down my guard enough to show my real self.

Just plain me.

Strange thing is, I like it.

I like the unguarded, simple me that comes through in these images. She’s a person with worries and burdens to be sure, but she’s not so worried about hiding them, or finding out what’s next on her to do list, or planning the next big thing.

She’s just there.

Being her.

This she that’s me.

I’m going to keep her around for a while.

Let’s see what happens.

Really Parker? Really?

Here’s to Alabama being relevant as our coast line faces one of the worst environmental disasters of our time.

ready for this to be over.

home

dissertation purgatory

on aging

“If a person keeps thinking, ‘How old am I going to be?’ and thinking about the age” — she raised her voice — “that’s the worst thing you can do. You don’t have to think about how old you are. You have to think about how many things you want to do and how to do it and keep on doing it.” She clapped her hands and added: “Otherwise, you know what I think? I am going to live to be 200 years old. So I hope all of you do have the same fortune. I would hate to be alone.”

- Alicia Alonso, 89

holy moly!

this is alabama

And for what it’s worth, I won’t be voting for this guy tomorrow. Maybe it’s the business person in me, but it makes sense, does it to you?

/p>