Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recapping the First Trimester

I wish I was feeling good enough to have posted updates on here live-feed so I could go back and read them. Now that I only have 3 days left of my second trimester I want to step back and remember my first two trimesters, and then hopefully the third will have a bit more to share!

So, to sum it up. 
The first trimester was like riding on a kids mini rollercoaster where I barely fit into the seat and the ride just keep repeating without asking if I wanted to get off. The rollercoaster was also playing tacky elevator saxophone music and smelled like cheese-steaks, frozen-yogurt, pizza and lunchmeat that I couldn't eat.

So how was that you ask?
Well I'd be a fool to tell you it was anything but amazing! (Can you tell I'm writing this from a much better place now, and not currently stuck on that roller coaster??)

We found out really early that I was pregnant, I believe I was 4 weeks and the ride started at 6 weeks. We also told our family right away, but I'll have a post about why we decided to do that later.

First Semester Documentation
Look how thrilled I was in this obligatory bathroom selfie (side-note: actually seeing the toilet in this picture is just weird, I'm obviously not a pro and didn't know to close the doors to create a nice little backdrop.)  This is the day after I found out and I'm trying as hard as I can to rationalize that I already have a bump at 3/4 weeks. Turns out I was just bloated from an unhealthy diet ;) I felt like I just had to do one of those pictures though! I'm thankful I did because things went downhill after that and I had no interest in the least to document that time period by photo.

But on a positive note, I survived. So what are my thoughts looking back? 
I shut down my shop for three months and had to rely completely on my husband to make dinner, grocery shop, and do pretty much everything as he started his second year in law school. I never liked to ask for help and I pride myself on being independent and constantly busy. The dependence I built on him was something I should have built much earlier, the trust in him that grew (when I didn't know it could) is something I am SO eternally thankful for and I know we will be better parents because of it.

As crazy as it might seem, especially to those of you in the middle of it, I actually do have to say that I'm really thankful the first trimester was hard. I was forced to slow down. I was forced to spend time by myself thinking and seeking the Lord. I was forced to rest and understand the necessity of rest. 

The Lord knows us. He knows I wouldn't have stopped, I would have kept going, I would have pushed harder with my Etsy shop and everything else in my life so that I could "get ready" according to what I thought was best. 

When I look back, I kind of laugh and I'm glad because I say "Yup, Lord - that was literally the ONLY way to give my body the rest it needed." He knows us so much better than we know ourselves. The one or two days I did need to go into my office for work I pushed myself way too hard and was physically sick and sore for days afterwards. It's hard at the beginning to realize the gravity that a little human is inside you and needs you to put their needs first and that means resting while they suck up all your energy. :) You can get so caught up in keeping up with the pace of the world because you don't "look" pregnant and most people don't know!

I realized how important it is to rest and refuel your body, and for me initially it was physically - but soon progressed to spiritually.  When you're body is exhausted and you're not able to get up or move, you find new things to occupy your now seemingly endless "free" time. For me that was picking up bible studies that I had started but not finished and just being able to take my time in them without the normal pressures of my busy life that seemed to always take precendence previously. Building this tiny routine when I wasn't feeling well helped build the desire to find a way to make this work when I was feeling better. Had I not been forced to slow down I would likely not be making as much progress as I am incorporating studying the Word into my daily schedule. 

Now, let's have an honest moment here - had I written this blog post during my first trimester - I'm not sure what it would have said - probably nothing positive at all and in all capital letters it may have only said WHEN WILL THIS END?!?!, but that's why I waited until now to hopefully encourage someone instead of commiserate. (We of course can do that too!) 

And then, of course, feeling her start to flutter around at about 13 weeks (crazy it was so early) made me literally forget everything about the endless nights awake crying and just staring at the ceiling. I phsyically can't even recall what it felt like beyond knowing it happened. 

You'll get through this - rely on the Lord, seek Him, be thankful for the miracle He's given you to take care of for Him and remember that it all will end and that you're stronger for it. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Finishing up 2014

I feel like sometimes when December comes around, people are so ready for a fresh start they start to wish away the end of the year in hopes of a better January where you can start new routines, diets, hold yourself suddenly more accountable ;) etc.

I decided a few weeks ago this was not going to be the case for me. I have some unfinished business and I'm settling into a routine right at the end of 2014. And you know what, I think that's good for 2015! Instead of all the pressure mounting, I'm going to work on strengthening that routine and really establishing it in 2015. You know, until the little one comes and at that point my routine will likely just be hers :)

The first thing I started with seems SO silly. I had been looking around online for Christmas gifts and found so many adorable journals I wanted to get...for myself. Because I justified, well if I get new journals I will get newly organized. Well somehow I controlled myself on that one and decided I was going to find all of the journals in our place right now and vow to use every last page. How many of you have ever actually finished a journal??? I was so surprised at the amount I had, with 10-20 pages of scrawled notes or to-dos that had been cast aside. Again, it might sound so small - but it was my first step. So, you'll be proud to know I finished my first one up, filled with to-do lists, grocery lists, priorities for work, meal schedules, everything in one place. And then, I tossed it. Friends, I've NEVER done that before. You know how great that felt? I saw all of these tiny minute things that had piled up, I stuck with it and filled up a book full of them and then once I had used it, it's done.

I'm now onto journal #2 and about halfway through and this seemingly insignificant routine/goal has made me feel surprisingly accomplished.

All I googled was "finish your journal" and this image popped up - so others must have the same issue ;)

The second goal of mine was to go back through my She Reads Truth studies and finish what I didn't start. (Sensing a theme here?) I attended a class through the Influence Network about how to just get into God's word - and they specifically marketed it as appropriate for those of us who pick up a million bible studies and projects and don't often see them through. They don't have it up on their site yet for you to purchase an archived version, but when they do I'll pass it along. It was really REALLY great.

So I'm working on the Advent study and the study in 1st & 2nd Peter at the same time:


The third goal of mine is to actually spend time planning the week's meals. I have this printable, and others from Joyful Papery and I love her style. Click the picture below to go to the listing.

We really only eat three different meals because that's what I know how to cook so it's been pretty easy to start doing this and the grocery list on the side really is enough for what I need! I told myself I would make one of these templates myself, but honestly - let's not hold ourselves back from just accomplishing our goal by making all of these other small tasks that get in the way! This was only $4.00 and seriously everything in her shop is awesome :)

So, finish journals, keep up with bible studies and plan meals - I think that sounds like a perfect way to finish 2014!! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Back Into the Swing of Things

Blogging has really fell by the wayside for me, I was doing pretty well until this summer. I'm hoping to get back into this regularly, mostly for myself as I really enjoy looking back through my posts and seeing where I've been and watching the journey the Lord has me on.

First announcement - we're expecting a little one, Lydia Violet in March of 2015. She's awesome but definitely took away my energy for anything besides surviving this summer :) hence why the blog was quiet.

As many of you know, we started the process of adoption last September and a wise friend once told us it's all about the journey not the end result. Although we aren't adopting at this point, adoption very much still feels like part of Lydia's story! I love how much we've learned to listen to the Lord, about adoption and particular regions of the world in general and how many conversations we've been able to have with others who are considering starting the process. Carrying Lydia around inside me has also added an entire other dimension to adoption as I try to process what it would be like to give up a child after carrying them for 9 months. This adds so much gravity to my very limited understanding of adoption. 

I'll be sharing more about our gender reveal and other parts of Lydia's story, hopefully more regularly now. :)  I'm attending a class through the Influence Network about blogging so hopefully this encourages me to pick things back up, more on that later! Oh and the paper flowers, more to come on those too!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

so it's been five months...

After a unannounced summer hiatus. (Sorry, more to come on that later.) I'm here and attempting to put things back together.

I'm sitting here staring at boxes full of my Etsy shop that need to be unpacked, however I just re-opened my shop. I'm the kind of person that needs inspiration to get things done. Unpacking and cleaning up my office? Yes, I'm going to need a few orders to force me to untape them and find my glue-gun. I have an email from someone talking about a project where they share the work-spaces of bloggers. I said I was interested in more details, but wow, that would definitely be inspiration to get my things back in their spots. Yikes - but in a good way, I guess. I've been looking at the boxes for almost two months!

I never posted about our plans before I fell off the radar, we spent the summer in the DC area while my husband interned. Now (cough - as of almost two months ago) we're back to our cozy little place in Williamsburg enjoying the unlimited free apple cider, tree frogs on our front door and pitch black nights.

It's almost halloween and I really can't stand the holiday but fall is my favorite season so I'm going to attempt this year to do a few fall related things before it's too late. The first on the list is to make apple cider with actual apples. I found this recipe from My Heart Beets that seems simple enough. I am, however, laughing to myself that it asks for whole cloves and one whole nutmeg. I have no idea what those are or where I will find them. But I will. A nutmeg is a thing? Maybe it's one of those funky looking items in the produce section that has spikes on it that I always want to buy (likely not.)

We're going to go to a pumpkin patch, I think the same one we visited last year, but a little earlier this time. I believe last year we put our pumpkins out just in time for Halloween, didn't get a single trick-or-treater and then left them on the front step for two months. Then come December, we tossed them into the woods, the trees were bare and we could see them out our window for the next 2 months. Talk about an honest depiction there folks, no sugar coating that experience. We're hoping to do things differently this time.

fallen tonesI loved the white pumpkins we got last year and I want to find a few more again this time. I love these colors in the palette on the right from Design Seeds. I'm sure you've been to their site, but if not - it's so great! Our lower level has all of these colors except the plum/purple so it will be easy to add that in I think.

So, pretty ambitious goals - make some real apple cider and attempt to find something plum and purple to add in on our table to make it look like fall. Shouldn't be too difficult. :)
I'll be posting soon with a few pics customers sent me this summer, they are great and I honestly can't wait to share - they were a big inspiration for finally sitting down at the blog again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Paper Flowers, Provision & Promises

Friends. I just posted that we were able to sponsor our first child through No Ordinary Love Ministries yesterday!

For a little back story. I had been praying about this for the past few weeks. The month of April was the slowest month for Pancakes & Glue Guns in almost a year, it brought it approximately 1/3 of the profit it normally brings in. It was during this month that I reached out to No Ordinary Love Ministries.

The entire month I waited and waited for the shop to return to its former glory, but it didn't - it was slow! I've always said that God's hand on this shop is so perfect as I have rest exactly when I need it, it provides a distraction from work stress when I need it, and it provides finances the exact minute we need them. All of this never happens in a "safe" way, instead the shop is constantly fluctuating in sales and profit month by month to provide exactly what we need when we need it. For instance, in April I finally had some time to make my paper flower crosses and after making a few was inpsired to reach out to Hope Spoken about being a vendor in their market. Without that down time to create these I wouldn't have pursued it. God is so good and perfect!

When I first contacted No Ordinary Love Ministires, providing a sponsorship for a child once a month was actually in the excess of my shop. I would definitely notice it, but it didn't require too much faith to make it work.  I kept telling myself, well April was a little slow - so let's just start the sponsorship thing in May. But then as the days went on and I was in the Word I read about how giving in faith as a sacrifice is a form of worship to the Lord  is so pleasing to Him.

So, I went ahead and did it - the funds from April went 100% to sponsoring a child at No Ordinary Love Ministries - there wasn't any excess, this wasn't an easy donation as it forced us to rely on faith to provide what we needed for the rest of the month.

Well, two hours later the Hope Spoken instagram account shared a picture of one of my crosses and I had dozens of new followers inquiring about custom orders in my Etsy shop. Then the next hour my husband receives an email that his scholarship for his summer internship had been increased by about $500 - the amount of the sponsorship.

Step out in faith friends, the Lord always keeps his promises. I am so blessed to be used by Him through my paper flowers. :)

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Phillipians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May Sponsorship & Hope Spoken

Friends, we've sponsored our first child through No Ordinary Love Ministries' home-based reunification services.  You can read his story here. Please pray for him and his family. :)

Thanks for supporting Pancakes & Glue Guns this April and helping me use this shop for His glory!

And another exciting note: I'll be attending the Hope Spoken conference in Dallas next March and will be a vendor in their handmade market! I'm also providing some free swag for their "swag bags." More to come on my idea for that soon!

I'll be building up an inventory of paper flower crosses for the market. It's going to take me the entire 10 months to make enough...!! Exciting though :)


Friday, May 2, 2014

Great Commissioned Moments - She Shares Truth

She Shares Truth
I'm writing my first "assignment" from the She Reads Truth devotional series. We're asked to think about what holds us back from being available for commissioned moments and to share any that we've experienced. Well, my blog post will focus more on the "holding back" than the sharing. (Insert nervous laugh.)

Mark 16: 14-20 talks about the "great commission" and asks us to "Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." (v15)

Now when I read that it makes my stomach hurt and get a little nervous. I don't want to be a overbearing weirdo and I get anxious in general about a lot of things even though I'm mostly pretty outgoing.  The thing is, the Lord knows this. He knows every secret in my heart and he also meets me (and all of us) exactly where we are.

In general I think I'm not available for commissioned moments because I over-think and over-analyze every interaction I have with someone and I'm very concerned about making sure they are happy and feel comfortable. Sometimes sharing the word of God (in love of course) can cause conviction and make someone feel uncomfortable. That's the part that makes me anxious.

But again, the Lord knows all of this, he knows every detail of our being and every secret of our heart. He knows exactly how I feel about this. It was through our recent adoption journey that the Lord opened the doors and kindly pushed me through them to get better in this aspect of my life. When we decided to start the adoption process nothing about it made sense. Logistically - we're away from our family, living on law school loans, my husband is a full time student and my job was a nightmare of stress. And personally - it wasn't because we couldn't have biological kids. We started this process because we really truly felt the Lord called us to do it. One of the reasons we pretty much knew it was the Lord was because nothing else about it made sense and walking in blind faith is a scary, but amazing opportunity. 

So, that being said, when people would ask about the adoption and why we decided to adopt (which is always everyone's first question) we really had absolutely no other answer than we felt called to do this by the Lord. Well, for many of our friends who had never heard us utter such words before I'm not sure what they thought. But I know that the Lord provided a huge number of moments through this story for us to share at work, at our new church, to our friends, family, etc. And  when my stomach would hurt to say it because I didn't want an unbelieving co-worker or friend to feel uncomfortable the Lord gave me the strength to say it and then go on to explain it. 

Now I'd be lying if I said it went perfectly all the time. So, for instance one time I believe I said "well, you know it's just like, you know, like, what we're supposed to do, ya know? YA FEEL ME?!" Ha! I didn't say it exactly like that but pretty darn close. And man what a terrible feeling in my stomach when I walked away thinking - man, I just had the opportunity to share my faith and also the truth (instead of my half-hearted lie) with someone and I didn't. And you know what? Instead of feeling anxious that I made someone uncomfortable I felt more anxious that I didn't give them the opportunity to hear and that was my selfish choice. So after that things started to turn around. But I'm still not perfect, and never will be. 

It's amazing to talk about this experience with my friends who are believers, but when you attempt to explain why you are doing something seemingly irrational to a non-believer and they stare at you with a blank look and then physically look uncomfortable, that's hard friends. 

Currently we're still being pushed in this direction as in the recent months we've felt that this is no longer the direction the Lord wants us to go right now. He has revealed some amazing wisdom to us and also opened doors for us to partner with organizations who help keep families together and reunite families in Ethiopia. Explaining now to our friends, some of whom never understood in the first place, that now we are placing this on hold is even more difficult! But at the same time it allows us to explain that we're becoming more familiar with the Lord's voice, that the Lord used this process so far to do amazing things and that now that we know what it feels like to hear him give direction in our lives we are waiting for what is next. 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Yum....Waffle Grilled Cheese? Try it.

I came out of my office to a surprise from my husband. Of course, being the "pancakes" side of this blog - I should have expected this, but what I found was a grilled cheese sandwich on a belgium waffle.

He casually explained that we ran out of bread, so why not put cheese on a waffle?

Friends. I totally recommend this. I'm sure there will be more to come with additional ingredients we've added on. Now to make sure I don't over-do it and I allow this to be a treat and not a daily meal...sigh.

A follower on instagram said the perfect thing "Hungry men are sooo inventive!" True, true and true. Inventive doesn't always mean tasty, however as I've seen some weird creations appear from extreme hunger, but this time it did!

(And yes, that's a clearance $0.38 pack of Rolos behind the waffles. We do eat relatively healthy, but I couldn't say no to the Target red tag!!)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reflections from the Calvary Chapel Philly Conference

I'm going to share my reflections from the Calvary Chapel women's conference in Philadelphia this past weekend. I don't normally do this, but I'm feeling challenged to do so and a few people have asked so here goes...

First of all, I just want to say that this church was huge! There were about 2,000 women there for the weekend. And it's not even as big as some of the other Calvary Chapels are. They have a school, a huge parking lot with parking attendants (speaking of parking attendants I'm a firm believer that the Trader Joe's in my area needs some of these to keep things civil), and baseball fields. When we arrived on the second day everyone was waiting in line for the doors to open - check out this line in the picture to the right! Everyone was peaceful and it was awesome to see so many people there for a conference on the gospel, this wasn't a line for a 1999 N*Sync concert or something :) (haha).

The theme for the conference was "The Glorious Gospel of Christ" centered around 2 Corinthians 4:4-18. 

In the first session by Pastor Raul Ries, we learned it's not just how we share the gospel with our words, but it's how we LIVE it. He showed us that the Glorious Gospel of Christ will set us apart (Romans 1:1), will open doors (2 Corinthians 2:12), and will reach all the ends of the world (Matthew 24:14).  His wife then spoke the following morning and one thing that stood out to me was her point that we have to focus on preaching Christ, not ourselves. The son of man came to serve (Matthew 20:27-28). And to preach is to serve, not to elevate ourselves. Similarly, the third speaker, Karyn Johnson highlighted 2 Corinthians 4:7 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." So from the first session we learned that it is how we LIVE the gospel, but then this is qualified that it isn't focused on ourselves. So this means that we need to be setting an example for others about the truth of the gospel while also making sure that the focus isn't on us, but instead the work that God is doing in us. Great, super easy right?!

Of course it's not easy! No one is perfect at this, and God doesn't expect us to be. What a relief. 

Setting an example is something we've learned from our earliest days from our parents (hopefully :)), especially those of us who have younger siblings. People are always observing our lives, especially with social media now. Acting as an example while we put some of the most minute details of our lives on the internet can be a challenge! I think what makes this most difficult is that we never know where others are at in their lives truly. Someone may be really struggling with their job and or finances, drinking, or struggling in their marriage and a photo of us or a physical example of us drinking, posting a complaint about a co-worker or our job or making a joke about how "awful" our spouse is for something silly could change the entire focus of their day or challenge how they are feeling. We never want to be stumbling blocks to others and everything we do as examples could influence how non-believers and believers alike think about Christ. What a difficult, but great challenge. I remember thinking to myself regarding various examples and things that were posted on Facebook and that I saw in real life: "Oh! She's a believer so that must mean it's ok for me to do X or say Y" and relying on the examples of fellow believers instead of the Word.  Obviously that isn't a great practice, but for newer believers, that may be the case and it's important for us to realize. I'm also not attempting to make rules or laws for us to follow, I'm just showing examples from my personal life of how lives of other believers have influenced my idea about the Word of God. 

Several of the speakers light heartedly joked about social media and blogging, but that particularly stood out to me as I obviously am writing a blog post right now and I spend countless hours trying to pick out beautiful colors for it :). They stated that obviously these tools can be used for good, but they can also quickly turn into a "self-focused" platform. One of the speakers made a joke that we'll post a bible verse, then we'll post a selfie, then we'll post a bible verse and then we'll post a selfie. Everyone laughed, but it made me think. It's an illustration of how easy it is for some of us to quickly snap a photo of what we're looking like that day but we might not as quickly be comfortable to drop a line about how we are feeling spiritually each day when our spiritual self is SO much more important than our new hair-do (is that just a term from the 50s? I'm laughing now re-reading this before I post it) or glasses!

The speaker also told us that when our eyes are not on the treasure, they'll fall on the vessel. How true that is! I'll often talk about some of my favorite bloggers and when I explain why I like them, some of the first things out of my mind are - they are so artistic, I love her style, she posts the cutest outfits on instagram, or the blog is beautifully designed and I'll just leave everything about their Christ-centered message out.

And my favorite - one of the last sessions was Adie Camp. She talked about in order to fully understand the cross we must die to our selves daily. This literally means to give up our lives to allow Christ to reside in us. 

Adie talked about God's perfect plan and that through suffering and hard times we have a great opportunity to depend fully on the Lord. He doesn't create these bad things that happen in our world, but he does allow things to happen that he knows we can handle or be perfected through.  She mentioned the emphasis of our society to always focus on being happy and not letting things bother us, to move on, to distract ourselves from our burdens. But, she also mentioned that one can be in a time of sorrow and unhappiness but still find joy in the Lord. 

God allowing suffering is a tough thing to think about and something that many of my friends who aren't believers ask me about. For me, the foundation of my faith is that I believe in the absolute perfection of God's plan for the world and I also believe that I will never fully understand it because we just aren't able to while we are on Earth. If we understood every detail of his plan and how it works - we'd be equal with God.  As I grow in faith I find that He's revealed more and more and I've come to a fuller and better understanding that can't be easily explained. It's a gift that comes with time! Taking that into account, there are some things that I know I won't be able to figure out, but when it comes to the bad things that happen here - what if they didn't? What if the world was perfect, no evil. Would we even need God? Would we willingly choose to enter into a relationship if we can already have perfection here on Earth? He doesn't force us to believe or enter into a relationship with him, he wants us to choose that. 

In Adie's talk she talked about the importance of really understanding the cross of Christ referencing Phillipians 3:10 "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." Suffering allows us to really know Him and become like him, and while the world may say this is a burden - is it really? 

I think the Lord's heart breaks for the terrible things that happen to His people, but Romans 8:28 tells us "and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." In Genesis 50:20 an example "as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." 

For me, being away from home and all of my family and friends can be really tough, but in this time when I haven't had that support system to rely on I'm closer to the Lord and I'd move out here and be "lonely" all over again for that. Now some of you may be saying "my burden is worse - that's not an extreme example of suffering", but in this point in my life I trust that the Lord knows I can handle this and knows what you can handle and he's using this period of being alone to perfect me. I am so comforted in the fact that I'll only be dealt what He knows I can handle. 

Remembering what was said before about using suffering to become more Christ like and dying to our selves, Adie gave awesome examples of what this could look like in someone's everyday life. She talked about those who were struggling in their marriage, instead of fighting based on what their emotions or feelings told them to do, choosing to give up their personal desire to defend themselves.  She also talked about those who are burdened with something as simple as their page-long list of monotonous household chores, to essentially not allow these things to frustrate us but instead give them to the Lord and tell Him your heart, because he already knows it and we don't have to hide it. And after we've been honest, we need to give these things up, die to our selves and pick up the cross that God has asked us to carry. Whatever our cross is, in carrying it and dying to our selves we allow Christ to live through us. Galations 5:24 says "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." 

Last but certainly not least, imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini's wife Naghmeh was the last speaker. Naghmeh was such a perfect example of a real life person who was living her life as an example to others, dying to her self and allowing the Lord to work through her in unbelievable ways. It was so abundantly clear that the Lord was using her. I've been following Saeed's situation for a long time now and was excited to see her. Naghmeh talked about the overwhelming peace she has received from the Lord and the amazing chances she's had to share the gospel with the UN, over 50 million Iranians via television and other world leaders she never dreamed she would meet. Every time she speaks about her husband's situation she emphasizes the peace she has and explains that this peace would not be possible without the Lord. She also explained how she does not like public speaking and she does not like flying - but through this experience she has had to die to her self almost every day and allow the Lord to use her. She is an amazing individual and her strength in the Lord is so awesome to see in person. If you haven't heard about her husband read the link above, pray, and follow along! His suffering has allowed millions to hear the gospel. He also released an Easter message about the same verses Naghmeh spoke about at our conference. You can find the letter here. 

Almost the end, I have to include something about the music! The Scott Cunningham Band from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa performed throughout the weekend, this was my favorite. I LOVE that song and their music, check it out if you don't know them!

Ok obviously that's a ton of information. On top of that we had the strangest hotel experience ever where we saw someone in a full glitter body suit, our room was a mess like someone else was already living there and we found a champagne bottle topper on the floor and then when housekeeping came to change the sheets they instead just sprayed our sheets with lysol to make it "all better." (Since then we've been refunded in full for the room without me asking for that so that was good!) I also was terrible at giving directions on the "turnpike" or whatever the crazy 12 lane road right outside of Philly is called, and we also got ourselves some true Philly cheesesteaks. All in all an awesome time.

Thanks for reading friends <3

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hello Wednesday: So you're wondering what it's like to help your husband study for law school exams?

Time has been weird this week, feels like Monday and feels like Friday at the same time. Ever have one of those weeks?  My husband just started his second semester of law school exams. Where has the year gone?! Williamsburg feels like home to us, but just missing our family, wish everyone was here!

So you're wondering what it's like to help your husband study for law school exams? Glad you asked because I'm going to share.

While studying for exams may really stink for him, it's been a surprisingly "fun" (I use that term lightly) time for us these past few days. He spends many many days in a row watching tutoring videos and writing an outline that's 100 pages. It's an outline, isn't it supposed to be like, two pages? A 100 page outline is a book. I rest my case. (HA, the law school puns and ridiculous jokes I produce these days are second to none.) But anyway, he spends a lot of time writing and sighing really heavily.

But then after his outline is finished, it's flashcards time! I am a visual person, so I tend to think that if we move around a lot and study flashcards he'll remember the time we talked about defeasible somethings or fee simplys (whatever they are called, you get the point) and be able to think about a unique location to jog his memory. Or maybe I'm just hungry and want to go to more than one fast food restuarant in a day.

So for instance, here's how we did flashcards for his property exam.

Round 1: At Jimmy Johns while eating a humongous pickle. We got a booth and I spread the cards out everywhere. So many of these cases were brother v. brother - that made me sad. I made up stories for each of the characters. I also made up a really elaborate story about a lady who wanted to sell her house but was really sad about leaving the coy pond in the back so she wanted to make sure the next owner took care of them. That scenario stuck with us all day!

Round 2: Eating sweet frog in a little down town center. That was fun until we realized we were sitting on a pile of ants. Literal ants in the pants. You bet he remembers those cases!

Round 3: On the way to Taco Bell. What did this look like? It looked like a flash card, and then a 30 second discussion about if we should just get regular tacos or a crunchwrap supreme, and then a flash card, and then me questioning if I think this is going to make me sick, and then a flash card, you get the idea...

Round 4: In the Taco Bell parking lot while eating tacos. Why didn't we go inside Taco Bell? I dunno, our car was like a safe little nighttime club house. So we nommed on some tacos - I got a crunchy potato soft taco. Only $.99. I love them. We ate and quizzed some more flash cards.

Round 5: Taco Bell drive through round #2 to get some carmel apple empanadas. We debated for about 5 minutes if it would be embarassing if the guy at the drive through window would remember us. We have an Alaska Airlines card, so we decided that was really noticeable and instead scrounged up all of the change in our car to pay with that instead. LOL Really? I'm seriously laughing about this in hindsight, but it was a very serious decision at the time.

Round 6: Eating the carmel apple empanadas and more flash cards. I think we were talking about landlords and stuff.

Round 7: On the drive home and then walking to the mailbox. (Gotta fit one in wherever you can!)

Round 8: Taking a walk on the golfcourse at 8:00pm. It's pretty dark at 8:00pm so when it was time to read a flash card I'd have to stop and read very slowly, I couldn't even pronounce half of the words anyway "alienability"  somehow became ""an alien's ability to rent a property..." which I legitimately thought was a question a law school teacher would ask with their crazy hypotheticals. Apparently not. It was literally pitch black by the time we finished walking. I caught a frog and picked him up - that was fun. This was our view in the picture to the right. We walked quite a distance away to the 18th hole across the little lake. (Side note: look for a blog post from me soon about my adventures catching a bull frog in the pond....I hear them and I want to catch one!)

So what do you do when an exam is over? You order a tray of 60 chicken nuggets for the two of you and eat them all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Paper Flower Projects

My shop has been a bit slow lately and I've been able to get back to how my shop first started, by making whatever I wanted, in whatever colors I wanted and experimenting! Lately I've been working on a lot of custom wedding orders, which are very fun - but it's also fun to be able to pick my own colors every once and awhile.

I asked my fellow blogger friend  for some inspiration and she sent me this color combo from JCrew...I think they photoshopped her know, like that whole Target deal?
Tropical floral bandeau tank
Anyway, loved it. I had a lot of tangerine, peach, and coral paper arounnd. These crosses are essentially a mini version of the paper flower wall. I think I actually enjoy making the tiny versions of flowers better.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Paper Flowers with a Purpose

My little shop has been such a blessing in my life. It has fulfilled and currently is fulling so many different purposes! Pancakes & Glue Guns started off as a respite because my dream job opportunity fell through and I was having a hard time being content where I was. With the encouragement of my husband this shop really helped me through that time.

Then, when we moved for law school and became a single income family the shop supplemented our income and allowed us to pay for textbooks, a new computer and other things before school started. 

Then, we started the adoption process and 100% of the proceeds of the shop went towards funding our agency fees. 

HomeAnd for now. Now, that we are on hold with the adoption journey I've been praying about finding a purpose for my shop again. We're still a single income family and certainly need this to help us survive out here - but that purpose alone doesn't make the shop fun, it doesn't make me WANT to make my paper flowers. I've been searching for awhile for a purpose for my shop and finally found "No Ordinary Love Ministries" Everything about these people, their ministry and what they do is awesome. It is exactly what has been on my heart and I'm not sure why my million google searches didn't lead me to them sooner. :)

I reached out to Jimmy and Rachel of NOLM to confirm the needs of the mission and I'm really excited to help from afar. From this point forward at the end of each month, the proceeds from the Pancakes & Glue Guns shop will sponsor one young woman or child through the "Home Based Reunification Services" NOLM offers. Each sponsorship is a $500 one time donation that helps provide for these individuals' stays at the Emmanuel House and any costs  to help reunify these individuals with a family member or friend willing and able to care for them. Check out the link here to see more specifics about how these funds help. 

These guys are awesome, their hearts for the Lord are awesome and the work they do is amazing. So, from now on, when you support Pancakes & Glue Guns at Etsy you'll be helping those in Ethiopia who desperately need it. The Lord has really blessed this shop over the past year of it's existence and I am so excited to see what the future holds!

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hearing His Voice

For those that have been following along, this post is likely not a surprise. As of now we've put our adoption journey on hold.

When we first started this journey we passionately felt that this was what the Lord was calling us to do. Just because we've put this on hold doesn't mean this doesn't still hold true. With complete confidence we are so sure that this process was a part of our plan.

While it might seem disappointing to our followers thinking that this process is fruitless without a child at the end of it, this process was anything but fruitless. In this process we've been drawn closer to God, closer to eachother and he has really broken our hearts for what breaks His.

As I think back on our first days of the journey we were open to a healthy infant 0-2 months old and this was still SCARY! Six months later we were considering children over the age of 10, HIV+ children, and children with Down's Syndrome and it actually wasn't so scary. Talk about a dramatic change. That was all the Lord, we would have never been open to considering any of this when we first started.

So part of me says - OK Lord, we were willing to do something extreme, and then you opened our hearts to something even MORE extreme, why are we putting things on hold now? How can something this "good" not be a part of your plan? But putting things on hold doesn't mean this is over for us. What all of these changes in the process have done is help us to better discern His voice and understand our calling.

Here are some of the MANY things we've learned:

1. The orphans of the world are His children. We aren't going to be able to save them all by ourselves, it is through him that we are used to help - he doesn't need us and that burden is not on our shoulders. Thinking if we don't adopt them, they are doomed shows a lack of faith in Him, prayer can do amazing things.
2. Just because something is "good" in the eyes of the world does not automatically mean it is in God's plan for you.
3. Learning to discern His voice in any process is an amazing gift.
4. He reveals his plan for you in your everyday life, through little things, through big things - He is everywhere and therefore if you attune yourself to His voice, you'll find guidance anywhere and everywhere.
5. We want to help families stay together in Ethiopia.

Disclaimer, this doesn't mean we are anti-adoption at all. We are pro-trusting the Lord and following his voice intently. For us that means to wait until we know what's next, it could be to pick this process up again! Who knows? The Lord does, and that's why we are content in this waiting/holding period.

As many of you know I have an Etsy shop that helped fund the initial part of our adoption. I want it to continue with that same mission to help families stay together in a non-dependence forming way. I've found quite a few organizations with micro-grant opportunities and that work with re-unification in Ethiopia. More to come on this. I'm praying about and searching for a organization to partner with so these paper flowers can help families!

Side-note. My posts have been lacking pictures recently. I need to work on that, I know.

Thinking about adoption...blogger style

I can't fathom going through this adoption process without the internet and current technologies. Since beginning the process in September of 2013 I think I may have honestly read every blog out there about adoption. Through my virtual explorations I've been angry, distraught, challenged, excited, inspired, you name it.

Like anything, you can find amazing resources online and extreme propaganda as well. As the amount of information on the intenet expands each day we are charged even more so with learning how to decipher this information and search for the truth amongst pages and pages of noise.

Listed below are a few of the challenging commentaries or series I've read that have really pushed me. If anyone following along is interested in our journey and what we've been thinking over the past few months I'd encourage you to read. I don't necessarily agree or endorse every word written in these articles but together they illustrate how we are feeling now.
(In this series, #7 in part two really tugged at my heart.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tips for Working Remotely: Reflections from the Past Year

I've just finished up the first academic year of working remotely. It was quite the experience. I thought if I made a plan with a set schedule I'd be good to go, it would be just like working in the office - right?! Wrong, in general it's not an easy thing to do. Don't get me wrong, I am so beyond blessed that I was allowed to keep my job when we moved for law school, but I've definitely learned a few things this year about how to do this semi-successfully I wish I knew ahead of time.

I think it's really important you feel like your home is a safe and relaxing place to be, and when you work in your home it can easily turn into a reminder of your never-ending to-do list or your work deadlines. I've put together a few tips to remind myself for next year and to potentially help anyone else out there who may be transitioning to work remotely. Everyone works differently, so these might be very specific to my work-habits. I still wanted to share.

1. Seasonal Schedule
First tip: don't create a year-round schedule, try to change it with the season (if you're allowed to do this). After this year, I have now reflectively found that a seasonal schedule makes much more sense. When I say seasonal schedule, I mean maybe just an hour or two adjustment throughout the week.  Looking back I would have adjusted my schedule during the winter so that I would have been able to go outside or enjoy a bit of sunlight. Maybe worked from 11-7 three days a week and had a few mornings to get out and run errands. Working during the sunlight hours and then concluding when it's dark is one thing if you're in an office, but if you attempt to do this in your home it can be a bit depressing if you're like me and don't really like to go out or run errands when it's dark out.

2. Field Trips
Find somewhere outside of your home at least once a week, if not more. This isn't possible for everyone, but I work out of the law school library 1-2 times a week. This has done wonders! I'm relieved when I walk in the door in the evening to be home - that's not something you feel often when you work from home. It can be a bit sad that after all of the energy you put into building a home, you just can't wait to escape it because you've been working in it all day. So, find a chance to get out and allow yourself to be relieved to come home at least once a week!

3. Schedule Chores
Working from home can be distracting, I think people mostly have one of two situations - they are either completely distracted by things going on in the home and end up not working as much as they should, or they are too busy during their work hours to tend to anything around the house but it stresses them out to look around at the household chores that need to get done. I'm the latter. When you normally leave to go to an office in the morning you can leave the dishes in the sink and not think about them until you come home. If you work from your home, you are reminded that things are left un-done. I created a very detailed google calendar, one has the hours that I am online working and another with my personal life. I sometimes will schedule these down to the 15 minutes (I'm not crazy, my entire calendar is not in 15 minutes, I'm just saying that if something only takes 15 minutes I schedule it for 15 minutes, I don't milk it out and put an hour that only makes the problem worse!). I put in a 15 minute break 2-3 times a day with a specific task like laundry, dishes or whatever else is relevant at the time. This is great for two reasons: first, if your work is challenging that day and things just aren't coming off of the to-do list, this is a great way to feel like you accomplished something and to re-energize you; second, you can do both things at once while being very mindful of your work schedule. The key here is to force yourself to be ok to do one chore at a time. I used to want a two hour block to clean, do laundry, run errands, all at once, but that just wasn't compatible with when I needed to be online for work. Breaking these down into smaller tasks throughout my day makes me more efficient in all areas.

4. Look Good
Even if you know you are staying home for the day and you'll be in front of your computer all of the time, more often than not, try to put on an outfit you'd be ok with in public - and if you can, something nice! Now, when I first moved out here I was beyond thrilled to wear yoga pants every day with my new handmade tank tops from old-tshirts. However, after awhile this can wear you down! I'm not sure what it is that makes me feel better and work better when I am dressed up - but it works. No way do I do this every day, but I try to at least 3 of the 5 work days. I also realized that my husband would come home from school lookin' fly, open the door with a look of excitement to see me, and surprise! Here I would come looking like a swamp creature. So I figured we all benefit if I take a few extra minutes to brush my hair and put on matching socks. (HA, who has matching socks?!)

5. Take Charge of Your Health
Working from home provides an amazing advantage to increase your health. You are not constrained to an office chair 8 hours a day and instead you can be very purposeful about where and how you are sitting. I break my day into three time chunks. I spend the first chunk in one particular chair, the next chunk at the office table and the third chunk on the floor. Think about what is good for your circulation and health and take advantage of the fact that you can do this. I'm sure individuals who work 9-5 in an office chair would earnestly encourage you to do this, as they can't! Figure out what works for your posture, your circulation, your energy and change it up. I've seen a lot of articles about making a designated office so you aren't distracted and I certainly see the merits of that. However moving around throughout the day (with a purpose and schedule) can really help.

So what do you think? Have any tips? These tips might make it seem like I've got it all figured out, but this is still a constant struggle for me. I find I over-work, my house isn't always relaxing, and household chores stress me out much more as in my mind I clump them together with work tasks. However, it's getting better day by day. Please do comment if you have other suggestions or modifications to the above, I'm interested!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

25: Singing Monsters Style!

I've recently come across a game, My Singing Monsters, that I believe was made just for me. You hatch little creatures, they each sing a different note or sound, and together they make the funniest music. I just love it. (My facebook friends probably see the updates that I've hatched a monster or made it to a new level, sorry - I can't figure out how to unlink that....)

So, for my 25th birthday my sister made me a "My Singing Monsters" inspired birthday cake. It was probably one of the cutest things I've seen! The monsters are brownies that were baked in a cake pop tray and then frosted.

Just wanted to share!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The tube.

Moving away for law school and becoming a single income family meant we didn't purchase a cable plan. (Might I add we still have a humongous TV transferred from the husband's first apartment and gifted from a precious soul, it has been turned on a record of 3 times - one of which was to stream the superbowl from our laptops.) This might seem like a ridiculous post but here's what I've been thinking lately about "the tube" and I want to remember this in the future when we decide about cable again.

1. This is number 1 for a reason! Listening to sports games on the radio is fun. We really only listen to hockey games, and sometimes football - but you learn the game so quickly when you listen to the announcer and then picture it in your head. I like it.

2. Not having a TV and needing to listen to games on the radio is the perfect excuse for a late night date or drive to get a milkshake or soda while we listen to the third period or quarter of whatever game it is.

3. When you don't have a TV, it doesn't mean you don't watch TV shows. Instead, watching TV series becomes a different experience for you. You rely on Netflix which means instead of catching a show once a week you choose a show and then watch all 4+ seasons within an unreasonable period of time. That's not necessarily healthy - but I do want to add I spend hours and hours making paper flowers for my shop where I can't do anything else with my hands so watching a TV show is one of my options. What is interesting about this is that you can certainly fall prey to an addictive series, but you make very conscious choices about what you watch. There's definitely more ownership over the process and channel surfing is no more!

4.. Without a TV, we don't spend time on the couch in a living room really. So why do you have one? It's made me think about how that space could be better used and what we should do with it. Um, if you're expecting that idea to be further explained any futher I've hit a dead end, so yeah - more to come on that. A second craft room? OK!

5. Silence in the background of your day is not a bad thing! In our old apartment, the TV used to be on at all times in the background. I'm not sure why - we were in a different room and not watching at all times, but it was always on. Sometimes I have music on now, but most of the time I'm just ok being able to hear my own thoughts!

6. Not having a TV means you have no idea what movies are in the theaters because you never see previews anymore. When you decide to go see a movie, you look at the list and have no idea what any of them are. That's more strange than you think!

7. When your TV is your laptop, you have to force yourself to pick one activity over the other. I used to sit in front of my TV with my laptop on - why? I have no idea, maybe I enjoyed sensory overloads. I would watch TV and surf the web at the same time.. It's impossible to do that now. Well, ok smart phones but I don't surf the web on my iphone - I just play "my singing monsters." That game deserves its own special blog post.

8. When you don't have a TV it's awkward to invite people over for the first time without a sports game as an excuse. You actually have to them. Which is probably why we haven't invited anyone over. HA, that was honest.

9. When I do have access to a TV with cable at my parents house I want to watch the most obscure things that I can't find online, like a show about the top music videos of the 2000s and I genuinely enjoy channel surfing instead of watching one show. Ask any of my family members -they seriously avoid handing me the remote.

I will go ahead and say that I think I'd really prefer not to have a functioning TV with cable ever again. Everyone can point and laugh in a few years when I have one in every room of our house and write a post about how I cannot imagine living without cable. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ethiopia Adoption Ethics, Late Night Talks & the Black Sea

Several months ago I posted about a potential shut down of adoptions in Ethiopia or at least changes to reforming their system.When we heard they may shut down to corruption and/or to implement more ethical processes, we were heartbroken. Although this was really frightening for us at the time it also served to open our eyes to the larger orphan crisis in Ethiopia and our place in it.

Once we started this process I felt like we started looking at adoption as a very individualized process - as a set of parents adopting a child. We focused on our one future child, wherever they may be. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. When there was talk of shutting down international adoption in Ethiopia - we very clearly related this to OUR future child and that's why it was so scary.

This "scare" caused us to start researching why international adoption in Ethiopia was such a controversial topic. We came across stories of mistreated children and of unethical adoptions that were revealed once the children were home and provided information several years later. Now, there will always be evil in the world and I recognize that. Whatever your search terms are in Google - you'll find it. If you search ethical adoptions you'll find plenty, if you search unethical adoptions you'll find plenty. Our only respite here in searching through the noise of the world is knowing that we are relying on God to lead each step in this journey. Now, we didn't take for granted the information that we were finding or experiencing first hand in reading agency communications and Ethiopian government documents regarding the potential shut down, we recognize that the Lord is capable of revealing information and wisdom to us. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern what is Godly wisdom and what is the "knowledge" of the world. That is where prayer, patience, and not being quick to judge or make decisions are so important.

Now, I don't want you to think this is a pro-adoption, anti-adoption, pro-Ethiopia or anti-Ethiopia post. This is a post about our personal adoption journey and where and how we feel the Lord is moving us and encouraging us personally.

Over the past few months we have felt convicted about our request for a "healthy" infant 0-2 years old from Ethiopia. We can see the unofficial waiting list of our agency and how many families have this same request. We also know that it is a well known fact that many agencies have long lists of families specifically requesting 0-2 healthy infants. Maybe you didn't know this. If we know, and those in the adoption world know, surely those on the ground in Ethiopia know that this is a popular request. Let me also say that many agencies do not allow families to adopt out of birth order and many families are not approved for this - so they can't request anything older than a 0-2 year old child until their children at home are at least 6 months older than this. So, I get that. But for us, that's not the case.

We can't help but feel that being on a waiting list for a healthy infant that is expected to last for 4 years may be contributing to the problem. It is really difficult for us to look at a waiting child list of several children who are older or HIV+ or with developmental delays that are being passed over while parents wait for a healthy infant. Why are agencies still accepting applications from families (like us) who request a healthy infant, when in reality the need is for families that are open to adopt older and/or special needs children? What message are they sending? Maybe it's because once families start the process they often change their request, like we are considering now. I'm grateful we were accepted, I have conflicting thoughts. When we turned in the application I truly believed that there was an immediate need for a healthy infant 0-2. However, waiting 36-40 months means this child isn't born yet. Why then, am I not spending the same amount of money to ensure this child doesn't become an orphan and am assuming that they will become one? It's a convicting question to ask. I also know that not everyone's heart is moved in this particular way and that the Lord has different plans for all of us, I don't question anyone in regards to that or their request. I just pray that families in the process will keep their hearts truly open to the Lord's call to protect and provide for orphans and pray for discernment in determining their path.

When we first started this adoption journey we narrowed it down to two particular agencies we were interested in. The first agency's Ethiopia program was closed but I had a great talk with someone from their agency. They recommended their Bulgaria program. At the time I didn't think twice about this program and we chose the other agency. I honestly don't think we would have started this journey if it hadn't been in Ethiopia and we have learned some very specific things through struggles and steps specific to the Ethiopia process.  I also think I would have always second guessed our decision and wondered "well what would it have been like in an Ethiopia program?!" We've been really going back and forth about this decision, but realize that we are slowly being pushed out of the Ethiopia program. Last night we sat at our favorite fast food place, and the only thing in Williamsburg open past 9pm, Cook Out, and talked about the potential move to a Bulgaria program. I specifically felt that we needed to seriously pray about the children on the current waiting list that do not match any family's requests before we'd officially consider leaving. This was a really difficult thing to consider as many of the children have serious medical disabilities, are older and/or are HIV positive. As we sat there discussing, it was amazing to see how much more open we were to different children than our original request of a 0-2 year old infant. This is a perfect example of how important the process itself is. I felt particularly "upset" about one child and I wanted to seriously consider them although their age and medical needs really didn't line up anywhere near to our resources and where we are in life right now. I felt hopeless for this child and felt that we could be their last hope.

We left Cook Out feeling a little confused wondering if our hearts were really stuck on this child for a reason and if so, why, it really seemed impossible. Was this the next step for us in our journey? It was a cold rainy night, really late for our local Williamsburg neighbors, and a van drove by us with the license place BLK SEA. Now, this might not seem like a big deal to any of you, but Bulgaria is on the Black Sea and we really felt really moved when we saw that! (We also joked that maybe their last name was the Blksea's and we'd meet them one day and laugh! :))

At first I was confused again, here we were talking about children who not a single family in our program was currently interested in or able to handle and trying to consider them or find a potential way to make something work, really pushing ourselves to find a way to help these kids, and then we see something leading us in a different direction. What I think was a really important lesson here is that we were starting to think that we could be a child's only hope. That if we didn't get them, they had no chance. This isn't true. We essentially were saying that we didn't think our prayers were enough and that we had to take action in our own hands. Did we not trust that God was taking care of these children or had a plan and family picked out for them? It's hard not to rely on our own "understandings" but that evening's conversations and the license plate we saw really brought a lot of peace to us. We have hearts for the orphans all around the world but we also have complete trust and faith in the Lord that he is watching over each and every one of them and we need to wait patiently for our part in the plan.

Like I said earlier, every part of this journey is part of the Lord's plan for us, our hearts are more open than ever to orphans, whether we adopt from Ethiopia or not, Ethiopia is a big part of our adoption journey. Our little one is out there somewhere -we are praying about where to go or where to stay in order to find them.

We are attending an informational webinar on a Bulgaria program next week. We shall see!

Oceans - Hillsong United | Hand-Lettered PrintI'm loving this song right now.
And I love to link to Etsy shops.
This print is from: DesignsbyHilary.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adoption Updates: Changes in Ethiopia?

It's been a month or two since the last update on our adoption journey so it's time for an update. We just got back from visiting family in Alaska and while there, when we finally found a few minutes of cell service, we saw a flurry of facebook comments from fellow waiting families in our adoption agency and emails regarding trouble in Ethiopia and a political meeting that had taken place regarding the status of adoption in the country.

Over the past weekend there was a multi-day meeting held by the House of Representatives in Ethiopia along with Ministry of Women's, Children's and Youth Affairs (MOWYCA) officials. A research paper was presented that was prepared by Parliament and MOWYCA. After the presentation the group of nearly 400 stakeholders split up into groups to discuss the issues presented - 7 of the 15 questions related to adoption. Our agency reported that many Parliament officials strongly lobbied to close international adoption in Ethiopia while many other participants lobbied for finding ways to increase domestic adoption, while still leaving international adoption as a good means for the current children in need. At the end of the meeting, the speaker of the House of Representatives commented that there are many conflicts of interest with government officials and adoption and overall did not speak positively of international adoption. He stated that they would present a strategic plan regarding international adoption in 10 business days.

At this point, it hasn't been 10 days and we are still waiting to hear what the future of international adoption in Ethiopia will look like. Our agency is hopeful that they will not shut down adoption but instead will create a plan for reform. As to what this plan will look like and what it means for families waiting, we aren't sure. Recent news stories have also discussed changing age limits and minimum requirements for adopting, which could certainly affect us.

A lot is at stake here for the families in our program that have been waiting for years on end and for the little ones who could get stuck in the middle of this without forever homes in Ethiopia. We're asking you to pray for the government officials and that  they find compassion for the children currently in government run orphanages who truly need a home and that any plans they make will not keep the children stuck in these orphanages indefinitely. Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7th - and as they enter the Christmas season and begin their numerous celebrations to remember Christ's birth we hope that these officials seek the Lord when making decisions for the future of their children and their country, whatever that may be. While reform is certainly needed and corruption is happening, we hope a plan will be put forth that continues to improve the process and find these children homes.

Adoption is a politically and emotionally charged topic in Ethiopia, like it is across the world. Elections are coming up soon and politicians are being lobbied on both sides of the spectrum. Additionally recent news regarding international adoption in Ethiopia has been in a very negative light, a film was shown about unfortunate cases of unethical adoption and children who were adopted and mistreated. Some officials and individuals in Ethiopia believe it would be better for Ethiopian children to remain in Ethiopian orphanages than to be adopted internationally. And while we certainly agree that domestic adoption should be emphasized and encouraged among Ethiopians, this isn't an overnight fix and the children stuck waiting in orphanages shouldn't be left there to wait this change out.

When I think about the last few months and how we were led to adopt one of the strongest memories that comes to mind was from a wise friend who told me it was all about the process, regardless of the end results. Even in such a short period of time, I certainly agree. Over the last few months we've come much closer to eachother, had amazing conversations with family and friends and most importantly strengthened our relationship with God. In an extreme way, adoption really forces you to put every aspect of the process in God's control. In so doing, it challenged us to think about other aspects of our life that are more common and comfortable that we may or may not let God have control of.

Pray also for us as we continue to seek the Lord in this process and understand if this is a door closing for us at this time or if this just the first of many scary times in this process where we need to trust God's plan for us and his timing. We pray that he makes our next steps clear for us.

Thanks for all your love and support friends! We'll update more when we know.

Link with info from our agency: