Love, Crashing Over Me.

I have heard You calling my name.
I have heard the song of love that You sing.
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore.

No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.
No fear can hinder now the promises you made.

“You Make Me Brave” – Bethel Music

Over the past few months, I’ve received texts and emails asking for a blog post/life update. But honestly, I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel like posting yet ANOTHER post about waiting & trying to wait with joy and contentment. I didn’t feel like posting yet ANOTHER post about the fun things Jay & I were doing to try to distract ourselves from the “still-no-baby” elephant in the room.

We got the email in January from our social worker. Not the “you get a kid” email, but the “it’s been 18 months and it’s time to renew your home study”. Woof. Had we really been waiting for 18 months already?! So in the span of a few weeks, we re-upped our home study, considered buying our sweet little house in Southend, discovered our landlords actually sold our sweet little house to a higher bidder, MOVED within a month, found a new place, claimed this new place in beautiful Elizabeth as the BEST we’ve rented so far, and then drove at midnight one night to Wilmington to welcome my sister’s first son, Levi.

January and February flew by. We moved and settled in our new place in early March. April we started to come up for air and then on April 12, 2015, at 10:30pm, we got a call.

Our beloved social worker called us late on that Friday night to tell us a birthmother had chosen us. Cue ALL the feelings of loss and disappointment from our previous failed adoption. When she said we were chosen, we both responded with a quiet, cautious “yay”, just dripping with forced excitement. We tried to be truly excited, but our heads were NOT allowing our hearts to feel. We were so cautious, we even considered not telling ANYONE, not even our families.

Saturday morning we both woke up feeling renewed. God dealt with BOTH of our walled-up hearts overnight. We woke up feeling the flood of hope we had tried to be anchored in all these years. We decided to go ahead and share the news, but only with our parents & siblings, and our bosses because we would have to ask off for that next Friday so we could go meet the birthmother.

That next week, I slowly began to wrap up projects & plan for the “what if” scenario of getting a baby and leaving the school year early for maternity leave..all the while, NOT allowing myself to dive in to the real excitement & anticipation of it all. Friday came and we got in the car for the 2+ hour drive to meet the birthmother. We got there early and stopped in for a little lunch & a drink to ease our nerves.


We met our social worker first at a Catholic parish, and then the birthmother got there. We had a wonderful meeting. She’s beautiful and so sweet. She was so excited for us. We talked life, we asked questions about her and her interests so that we could tell this sweet baby girl about her birthmother later.

We gave her a letter that we wrote for her, to encourage her and empower her and thank her for her amazing bravery and for giving us the greatest example of sacrificial love. By placing this baby’s needs and future above her own, she’s modeling what it really means to be a parent. We gave her a painting from our one of our favorite NC artists, Deona Fish, and we bought the same print for us to keep in the nursery so that we could use it to share her story. We left the meeting feeling VERY encouraged and reassured that this REALLY would work out. Still very cautious, but beginning to allow God to fill in the cracks of our broken hearts with His love and His strength.

She was due that next weekend, so that week, we tried to continue life as normal as we could. We allowed ourselves to buy a few more baby things…just in case. We allowed ourselves to think of names. We allowed ourselves to feel more excited and hopeful.

Luckily we had an insanely busy week filled with babysitting, Jay’s birthday (April 21), Jay’s DJ gig, a calligraphy workshop and the wedding festivities of our dear friends. The next Monday, I was coaching track practice and Jay was coaching his tennis team when we got the BEST call.

Our social worker called to tell us that baby girl was born on Jay’s Birthday, mom had signed the relinquishment forms and that we could come pick her up from the hospital the next day! We FREAKED, and then had to go back to practice & pretend like all was normal.

But we FREAKED. That night was like Christmas. We didn’t sleep at all, we installed the car seat, packed a baby bag and prayed to God that this wasn’t all in vain. We knew going into this that it would be a “legal risk placement” because in North Carolina the birthmother has 7 days to change her mind, so the baby could be with us and then not. Ugh.

We drove the next day to meet our social worker and then drove to the hospital to pick up our baby girl. We were led to this consultation room (i.e., closet) where the nurses prepped us a bit on caring for a newborn, and then the door opened. They wheeled her in and that’s when we saw our daughter for the first time. We both started weeping.IMG_4746_2

I got to hold her first and immediately fell in love…and totally drowned out the rest of the nurse’s instructions as I stared at her beautiful face. Jay tried to take notes in between holding our daughter’s sweet little hand. We needed to name her. The nurses left us in the room and we tried out the 3 or 4 names we had brainstormed and one in particular sounded like perfection. It sounded like the name God had been writing on our hearts for years…we just didn’t know it yet.

Amelia Rose.

This is our daughter. It’s been HER all along.












We waited the 7 days at home. I think we held her, rocked her and loved her more and more for all 7 of those days. Then last Thursday, May 7, Amelia Rose officially became ours. I was finally able to breathe. I had been waiting to exhale for about 9 years now, and with the short phrase “She’s all ours”, I was able to release it all.

Once her court adoption papers are processed, we can post her sweet little face, but until then, we will post the sweetest ears, hands & feet photos.

All in the span of a month…Amelia Rose was born, we became parents and we officially began our greatest adventure yet. All in time for Mother’s Day too. Man, God is really good. He is and has been faithful every step of the way.





No more, No less

IMG_1416Okay, so I realized that my so-called #Influenceconf recap was more like an introduction and not really a comprehensive reflection of all that I “got” out of the conference. I stand by my statement that to sit and flesh out everything from my notes would totally cause Wordpress’ word count to overload and shut me down. BUT, I can do better.

I’ve read and re-read my notes from the amazing sessions & speakers at the Conference to help myself remember. I want to remember the moments and the words spoken. Those words that caused my stiff, tired, skeptical face to wrinkle with emotion, realization and truth.

I do not want to forget. I want those arrows of truth to not just simply pierce my heart, but I want those words to be burned into my mind and heart until they are another thread in the fabric of me.

“There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less AND there’s nothing you can do to make him love you more.” – Hayley Morgan

When Hayley said these words, explosions went off in my heart. I’ve often heard that we relate to God like we relate to our dad, and that is totally true for me. I’m a people pleaser for sure, but I long for my dad’s approval in every thing I do. I’m 31 years old and even still, when I sit down to talk to my dad, I become the 10-year old girl who just wants to hear him say, “I’m proud of you.” The thing is, my dad loves me so much, and I’ve never felt that there was anything I could do or not do that would make him love me any less or any more. But somehow, that feeling gets lost in translation when it comes to how I relate to God.

Here’s what I need to learn and I do not want to forget: “You are loved. Before you even start your day, you are loved. God cannot stop loving you. You are His creation and he created you with a specific purpose. Your purpose is not for perfection. He’s already perfect. It’s time to stop chasing perfection, and start chasing your purpose.”

I decided to go to Jamie Ivey’s session on Shame & Identity. Admittedly, I only chose this session because Jamie is the sister-in-law of my conference roommate, Joanna, and because I didn’t want to go to a strategy/business session. As Jamie began to speak, I sat in that room and realized I didn’t choose that session by happenstance. I was destined to be there.

“The places you feel shame are the areas where you are falsely trying to find your identity.”  – Jamie Ivey

My identity (and your identity) is already defined as a child of God. I am (and you are) His creation and His workmanship. Before this session, I didn’t think that I struggled with shame.

But I do. I sat in that session and the tears started welling up in my eyes as the layers of hurt began to peel away.

For the past 7 years, I have felt ashamed because I’ve not been able to be a mother. I’ve not been able to conceive a child. I’ve not been able to adopt a child. I’m not a mother. 

On that day, in that session, LIGHT was shed on the shame that I didn’t even know I had. Light was shed and I began the slow process of breaking free from those chains of guilt.

While I didn’t *think* I struggled with shame, I KNEW for a fact that I struggle with fear. Fear paralyzes us from realizing and knowing who we really are and what we can do.

“…faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” {Hebrews 11:1} There’s really no room for fear when you’re living a life of faith. God is already at work ahead of us. It’s time to pitch our tents in the unknown and trust that who we are & what we do matters to God.

“Choose Purpose Over Perfection” – Lara Casey

The lovely Lara Casey hosted an Influence Network members-only session and this was more than just a talk or lecture, this was a grace-filled therapy session. This was an invitation to dig deep and to reflect on not just the “what”, but the “why”.

Chasing perfection only makes us feel more inadequate, more irrelevant, more disappointed. Chasing perfection is asking for payment instead of grace. Choosing purpose over perfection means accepting grace and trying things we could never do on our own strength.

Pitch the tent.

To fear something means you respect it. You give it value. The things we fear are the things that have influence over us now. My husband calls them “red-faced monkeys.” If you ignore them, you render them powerless, even if they still fling poop at you! (he’s so funny<3)

It’s time to flip the script. It’s time to shed light on the lies and fears that have paralyzed me.

I’m afraid of being not enough. Not creative enough. Not funny enough. Not pretty enough. Not lovable enough. Not enough.

I feel like for the past 7 years, I’ve been standing in a room with millions of women saying “I want to be a mother,” but no one hears me over the voices of others. I’m afraid that God doesn’t hear me. I’m afraid that He’s forgotten me.

But I know.

It’s time to flip the script. It’s time to build on the identity God has already created for me, and it’s time to start chasing the purpose HE has for me.

Today, I’m saying NO to the fear of never being a mother because I know that is not where my worth lies. 


A Turning Point

Winter is wearing off. The icy cold covering on my heart is slowly melting away. The seasonal shift from cold, grey winter to warm spring – to growth and new life – has been ongoing for about a year or so now.

Jay and I had come to a point, 3 or 4 years into this path of infertility, where we did not believe in much. Months and months of disappointment. Feeling the pain of a longing unexplainably unfulfilled is bad enough, but masking that pain for the sake of not dumping the weight of it all on our friends and family became utterly exhausting for us both. Our relationships with God were both hanging on by a thread and our relationship with each other had seen its fair share of bad days and disconnect. Our hope and faith was whittled away to almost nothing with each month of disappointment.

I felt like Artax in the Neverending Story…stuck in the swamp of sadness, unable to move…to do anything and yet, not let anyone know that this was our reality. (Smile…smile…smile and pretend everything is good.) Our situation – this infertility junk – felt TOO difficult for me. I was reaching my breaking point. Jay knew it…I knew it…and no one else.

Then like the Samaritan woman, Jesus met me. For one of the first times in my life, I had a real life experience with God and Jay witnessed it. Jay and I had just received the bad news that we were NOT pregnant again this particular month. I was an emotional mess and Jay, being the truly loving husband he is, knew he had to get me out of the house. We went for a movie and then I needed to go by Target to get some unmentionables. (Side note…at this point, I was playing this game where I wouldn’t buy these particular “items” in an attempt to sike out my cycle…maybe?! I don’t know…wink)

So, back to my story…he dropped me off to run in for a minute and get what I needed. As I roamed the aisles and made my way to the feminine products, I noticed a group of 3 or 4 teenage girls. They looked right at me and then laughed. Feeling like I was back in middle school again, I put on my best “get lost” face and kept walking. I was in no mood for judgmental teenagers. I grabbed what I needed and turned the corner. There they were, looking and giggling at me…again. Annoyed and with a little fearful pep in my step, I managed through the checkout line and called Jay to make sure he was ready with the car.

I walked out of the door and there they were again…like they were waiting for me. I thought surely I was going to get mugged (by little teenage girls) or worse, hit up for some fundraiser. Luckily, there was a police patty-wagon right out front. But I put my phone up to my ear quickly to pretend I was on the phone and to NOT to be bothered. I got in the car, shut the door and then Jay said “What’s going on?” I looked up and the girls were RIGHT outside my window. Totally freaked out, I rolled down the window and said “What’s up?”

There was a lady with the girls now. She said they were sorry to bother me (and stalk me) but that they were a youth group on a scavenger hunt (WHAT?!). She said they were praying before they got to Target and I matched the description of the woman seen in one of the girl’s visions. My first thought was “Oh great…those crazy PTL people are here in Pineville still”. So Jay and I played along and said “Oh cool, that’s so neat” and hoped that they would walk away.

She said that they felt like they had a “word” for me specifically. Coming from the Southern Baptist tradition, I didn’t encounter “words” of the prophetic nature EVER, so these kind of things freaked me out a little. She asked if there was something that we had been dreaming of or hoping for. Giving her the generic answer of “Sure…lots of things”, she didn’t seem convinced. Just then, the little teenage girl behind the woman spoke up and asked “Do you have any children?” My arms prickled with goosebumps. I told her the short version of “No”.

The girl teared up, looking down and disappointed. She said “Oh because I saw you. I saw you pregnant and with morning sickness.” Just then I joined her in the tears. I couldn’t stay silent and let her feel like her vision was totally wrong. I told them that we didn’t have children…that we really wanted them, but for some reason, we couldn’t have them. That’s when she looked up and got a HUGE smile on her face.

She said she felt like God wanted to tell me something. That He wanted me to “never to give up, to keep believing and have faith in Him. He wanted to blessed me.” And then they left. I looked at Jay and the glimmer in his eyes made me realize that what just happened was real…VERY real.

Now…I didn’t leave that experience thinking that I was going to get pregnant the next month (well, maybe I did for the next few months…oops:)), but after awhile, I knew. I knew that the experience that night was my “woman at the well” experience. God CAN do amazing things, but what He wanted me to know from that night was 1. He is real and 2. He SEES me and KNOWS me and LOVES me. He fully and completely knows me.

At this point, I’m not sure of very much, but I am sure of the fact that God is real because I encountered Him that night in a Target parking lot with a group of random, stalker teenage girls. Those girls didn’t provide me with an explanation of why our circumstances are the way they are, but they didn’t need to. I didn’t need an explanation.

That night marked the beginning of a new journey for me and for Jay. Not one of infertility, but one of renewal and growth. My heart was slowly being pulled from the swamp of sadness. Every day for the past year, I am reminded of that night at Target. I am reminded of the night that God introduced himself to me…not as a rule-maker or a puppet-master, but as my creator who SEES me and wants to bless me.

Until recently, we haven’t shared this story with too many people, but like the Samaritan woman at the well, it was her TELLING her story of her encounter with Jesus that changed other people’s lives. So I’m here, telling our story of when the warmth of spring crept into the cold, dark winter of my heart, hoping that it might be the story that brings someone else hope.