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I met Dan for coffee this morning at the Starbucks in our Kroger, and the following conversation took place.

Me:  I ordered a coffee – and a scone.

Dan:  Why did you get a scone?

Me:  Because I was hungry.

Dan:  Why didn’t you just go get something from Kroger?

Me:  Because Kroger doesn’t have blueberry scones.

Dan:  Are you sure?

Me:  No.

(Dan leaves to get himself food from Kroger.  Upon his return…)


Dan:  I don’t mean this to be obnoxious, but my bagel, doughnut, AND coffee all cost the same amount of money as your scone.

Me:  I bet your bagel, doughnut, AND COFFEE put together don’t taste nearly as good as my scone.

Dan: Nothing tastes as good as being frugal feels.

Me:  Scones do.

This conversation is brought to you by pregnancy.  And marriage.  And love.   In reverse order.

A Grain of Truth

Sometimes I find a grain of truth hiding in the most ridiculous places.  I don’t mean unexpected, I mean truly ridiculous.

Like when I’m talking about my husband’s personality vs. my personality, I always quote Stanley Hudson from The Office.



If you’ve watched The Office for any length of time you probably remember the Stanley/Michael fight.  There is a line hidden in that dialogue that is an absolute gem.  Stanley, in expressing his utter frustration with Michael, says,

“Everything you do, I would do it a different way.”

We are introvert/extrovert, details/dreams, overly-structured/what is structure?   No matter that 0ur end goals are shared, when it comes to methodology, yes.  Exactly, Stanley.

The other grain of truth I think of often – more and more often these days – is from the movie Armageddon.  You remember, the apocalyptic action movie from the 90′s?   (I told you it was ridiculous.)

There is a scene where Owen Wilson (who plays a dingbat named Oscar) is getting strapped into the NASA space shuttle and is rambling to his friend (young Ben Affleck) about how he feels:

Ben Affleck:  ”How you doin’, Oscar?”

Owen Wilson: “Great.  I got that ‘excited/scared’ feeling.  Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it’s more – it could be 2 – it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that’s what makes it so intense.”

This is the perfect commentary on dreaming big dreams.

It is the exact emotion that surges to the top when we take risks: when we stick our necks out for a project, try new things, and undertake tasks that we know are impossible in our own strength.

This is how I feel most days, like an oil driller strapped into a rocket.  Excited, scared, out of my league, but along for the ride.


In what unusual places have you found grains of truth that you keep coming back to?

Our Baby Has A First Name…

Ever since we decided on a name for our second son, I’ve had the Oscar Mayer bologna song stuck in my head.

Because I am THAT COOL.

Whenever I tell someone his name, I bite my tongue in order to keep from singing the letters to them.  It’s quite  troublesome, and not just because that song is annoying, but because our son’s name is so classic and noble and sweet.

This little boy, to be born any day, is named Henry Christian Conner.

Oh, I love him so much.  Little Henry.

Dan and I had a TERRIBLE time coming up with a boy-name.  I suggested about 20, all of which Dan reacted to viscerally.  Facial expressions as if I’d stuck a rancid, moldy sock under his nose.  This was not without precedent, and is, in fact, how we named all of our children:  I suggested names, Dan said “no,” 6 months later Dan came around on one of the names I liked, et voila!  Madeline and Sam.

But our method wasn’t working this time.  Dan was not coming around.  And so, it was Dan who eventually suggested Henry.  That’s why I love it so much, because my husband named this son; it’s the most beautiful thing in the world to me.

I think Hank Aaron was what did it for Dan.

We’d tossed ‘Henry’ around frivolously in conversation, then one day, Dan marched into the room and announced, “WE COULD NAME HIM HENRY AARON – AND CALL HIM HANK,” as if he’d just been struck by a bolt of lightening.

It was a Eureka! moment.  And in that moment, Dan claimed this little man-child for the world of sports, and there was no turning back.  He is looking forward to the day he can sit in the stands and yell things at “Hank.”

His mother will cheer for “Henry.”

When we told Madeline that her little brother was named “Henry Christian Conner,” she dropped her jaw in disbelief:

Another Conner????”

Yes, darling, that’s how this sibling thing works. ( Though to be fair, that’s exactly how we felt for the first few months of his life.)  Madeline has called him HenryChristianConner (no spaces) ever since.  One day she will sit in the stands cheering for HenryChristianConner.

So it’s official, and I can’t stop singing it:  ”Our baby has a first name; it’s H-E-N-R-Y!”

And I can’t wait to get my hands on him.
I can not wait to whisper his own name into his tiny ear:

“Hi, Henry.”

I can’t wait to press my nose right up against his teeny nose and whisper,

“It’s nice to meet you, Henry.  I’ve loved so much for so long already, Henry.  You are my tiniest boy, and I am your Mom, Henry.  Little boys love their mommas; they need their mommas, and I am so happy that I got to be your momma, Henry.”

 I am so, so glad.

Back to Work: On Living Dreams

It is a bit ironic that I’m writing a post called “Back To Work” two weeks before I’m due to have a baby – which means I could go into labor, like, any second.  Nevertheless, here are my unfiltered thoughts on the momentous “going back to work.”

For me, going BACK to work is really more like going TO work, since I was a part of the workforce for such a short time before I had Madeline.  I always thought I’d go back eventually; I never thought it would look like this.

Before I signed a contract with my agent, I wrote a chapter of my book to submit to him as a writing sample, which would eventually become a part of my book proposal.  My husband, proud and thrilled and supportive, watched the kids all day.  I drove to Panera and stayed from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, until the chapter was done.

2 days later I pulled an all-nighter to edit it.

I did the exact same thing the following week.  On Dan’s off-day I drove to a coffee shop and stayed until a second chapter was finished.  When I got home, the kids were fed, bathed, and in bed – the dishes were running and the cat litter and trash were taken out.  Another editing all-nighter followed.

I pulled a third all-nighter in a two-week time frame to write out my proposal.   I flew my BFF down to shoot a 2-minute book trailer/author introduction.  In less than 2 months I hammered out a proposal, a video, and three chapters and sent them all to my agent.

Then I died.

As you might imagine, that schedule in the life of a stay-at-home mom of 2 very young children isn’t sustainable.  It was kids all day, writing all night.  I used Hermione’s time-turner for youth ministry, blogging, and cleaning.

That works for about a week before you’re legally insane from the lack of sleep – a ticking time bomb.  At the end of those two months I wasn’t sure if I was more likely to kill someone or just collapse onto the floor and cry.

Instead, I went back to work.

Now, less than a year later, a grad student comes to my house two days a week to watch Sam and pick Madeline up from school.  On those days, I write.

Going back to work doesn’t look anything like I thought it would.  I thought it would be very glamorous and author-ly: sitting in coffee shops writing things.  I thought – since I was able to hammer out those first chapters so quickly under such pressure – that surely the rest of the books would be as easy!  I thought that two days a week would be a luxurious amount of time; one day for writing the books, the other for emails, blogging, goal-setting, networking, growing my platform – basically, a business party with my laptop.


Instead it looks like burning an entire writing day on 600 words because I just can’t get them to do what I want them to.  It looks like weeks of blog-silence because, after a day of wrestling with words and the Ironman Triathlon that is “bedtime,” who has time for blogging?  It looks like spending every post-bedtime-minute freezing meals, writing baby shower thank-yous, packing hospital bags, and washing baby clothes.

And eating – a lot.

But here is the point of this post.

I got to stay at home full-time with my babies for 5.5 years, and I still could, if I chose to.  Instead, I am going back to work.  I am going back to work writing.

The blessing is not lost on me.

There are a thousand English majors out there who are dreaming of becoming writers, and people keep telling them they better get their masters in teaching, or journalism, or some other such thing because they can’t make any sort of living as a writer.

But here I sit, with a college degree I’m not using (at least not in the most traditional sense), married with 3 beautiful children, and I get to go back to work writing.

The blessing is not lost on me.

I am living the dream.

The dream is a lot of freaking work – and tears, and guilt in parenting and marriage, and late nights, and stress, and fear, but that’s only because LIFE is a lot of work and tears and strain and guilt and stress and fear.  Everyone is living with those things, but I get to live it doing what I love: raising my babies and writing.

The love is what keeps me inspired, keeps me trudging (those words, for me, are interchangeable) – because I know that this thing I’m doing is what I have been gifted to do.  It is what I’ve been given the opportunity – against all odds – to do.  I remain in a state of stunned gratitude.

Stunned.  Grateful.



I love the word “cathartic.”

It is so perfectly specific.  I like a word that doesn’t have a good synonym; a word that when I need it, I need it.

Catharsis is cleansing and purging and emotional and relief and breathing again.
It is overwhelming, like drowning in healing.
It is intense and vulnerable and freeing.
It grounds me, centers me, rebirths me, makes me new.

“Purgative” just doesn’t carry those same connotations.

I was thinking yesterday about the things that are the most reliably cathartic for me.  The things that make me feel something so deeply that it reboots everything inside of me that has gone off-kilter or cynical or self-piteous or numb.

I believe that the following are my top 4, in no particular order.

-Hard rain.  Driving, hurts-when-you-stand-in-it, overflows-the-rivers rain.  And hard wind.  Wind strong enough to press your weight into, and were it to stop short, you’d fall flat on your face.  Wind that whooshes and rushes and howls.  I like weather that makes me feel small; I like to be overwhelmed.  It makes me feel like even my biggest, scariest, deepest, most out-of-control emotions will get carried away with the tide.

-Giving things away.  Or throwing things away.  Things I thought I wanted or even thought I needed.  Things “everyone” has or “should have.”  Books I thought I’d read or re-read.  Clothes I thought I’d wear.  Candles I thought I’d burn, coasters I thought I’d use, frames I thought I’d hang, kitchen gadgets I thought I’d use – all of which ended up being things to clean around and live around.  When I practice the discipline of letting things go, I give myself room to feel.  I can breathe in the space and freedom of their absence.

-Driving.  Driving someplace far enough away from my every-day routine to let my hair down for a minute.  A highway or a back road:  all the windows down, music that suits me, head tilted back, my hand out the window, making waves.  Feeling the notes and the air and the nature on my skin and just – breathing.

-Running.  Running until it hurts everywhere.

What experiences or sensations are cathartic to you?  What provides you with psychological relief through the expressing of strong emotions?





I Instagrammed this last Thursday.

That is my signature.

On a final contract with Broadman & Holman Publishers.

On its way to Lifeway Christian Resources.

And just like that, it’s official.  I am writing a book.

Actually, I lied.  I’m not writing a book; I’m writing THREE books.

I’ve alluded to these books for a while now, as this process has already been a long one, but now that the blood ink is on the page, I’m coming out of the closet.  A lot of you suspected I was in there, and you were right.  I am coming out of the first-time-author closet.

The books are based on last year’s “Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls,” and they are fun.

That’s the thing about stepping into the publishing world upside down and backwards (I’ll share this story with you eventually):  I get to write my fun book first.

If I had started with a manuscript, you can bet your ever-lovin’ mind that it would not have been about teenage girls.  But since I didn’t start with a manuscript (I started with a blog post that mounted into a tidal wave which I am gratefully choosing to ride), I get to do my cheeky, sassy, hyperbolic, “lets have a conversation about vapor-thin American Eagle tanks and Facebook statuses more dramatic and narcissistic than Lady Macbeth and the implications both of those things have on womanhood – real, strong, noble womanhood” book first.

It is so. much. fun.

Here’s what you need to know:

- The first book is written to you, my peers:  teachers, youth leaders, moms & dads, aunts & uncles – people who happen to be influencers of teenage girls.  People who have had it “up to here.”  People who read the post and immediately sent it to the teenager in their life.  People who said,

“I wish someone had told me this 20 years ago!”

“This is what I’ve been trying to tell my teenager for YEARS.”

“This isn’t just for teenage girls; this is the best advice I’ve read for women anywhere!”

“This should be mandatory reading for all high school students.”

You loved it, you shared it, you get a book.

- The second book is written TO teenage girls.  For the girls who read the post and said,

“I am a teenage girl and this is SO TRUE.”

“I am a teenage girl and I cried when I read this; it is exactly what I needed to hear.”

“I am a teenage girl and I hate your guts, shut up, you don’t know me!”

It touched a nerve.  You loved it, you hated it, you hated me.  You get a book.

- The third book is for everyone who said, “What about the boys?”

They get a book, too.  Dan is writing that one with me/for me.  So maybe I should say, “If we don’t kill each other in the process of attempting to complete a project together as a married couple, then you get a book.”

- There are stories.
Stories about my impulse purchase of neon purple leggings, my first trip to the tanning bed, and a subsequent trip to a tanning bed in which my friend, Nicole, and I almost attacked an elderly man with a hot curling iron.

Stories about the time I gave flirting lessons to girls on my dorm, about a completely mortifying rebound relationship of mine, and about the time I got a phone call from my child’s teacher to tell me that my firstborn had run from the school bathroom, naked, in front of 17 of her peers.

There are lots of fun stories.

- The tentative release date for all three books is summer 2014.

So GET EXCITED. There are big things ahead, and big things here in the process.

So much love,

Blogging 101: Content


I wrote a post for Fancy Little Things this week about blogging.

I’ve only been blogging for two and a half years.  If you’re just starting a blog, that may sound like a lifetime of content, but compared to a lot of you, I’m a blogging baby.

In those 2.5 short years I’ve had no less than 5 posts go viral, I’ve been contacted by bloggers, publications, agents, and editors, and I’ve grown my readership to a respectable little number for a one-writer, one-woman, part-time operation.

I’ve learned a lot along the way – about branding, presentation, promotion, community and more – but today I’m sharing 4 tips I’ve learned about content, which as a writer, is sort of my thing.  I need LOADS of help with images, technology, and business, but content I got.

Here is an excerpt:

3.  Don’t be afraid.  This is huger than huge.  This is what sets great bloggers apart from the sea of millions and millions of so-so mommy bloggers.  SAY THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO SAY.

You will have a natural inclination to clarify, quantify, mitigate, or weaken your statements because you don’t want to be misunderstood.  Fight that.  Make your statements as strong as you possibly can.  I recently wrote a post about how it feels to be 36 weeks pregnant.  I could have said:

“I want my husband to really understand what it’s like.”  (BLAH.)
“I want my husband to feel my pain.” (Still weak.)
“I would enjoy watching my husband suffer.”  (A bit stronger, but wordy.)

I chose to call my post “The Pregnant Sadist.”

Sadist is a strong, scary word.  A word that might get misunderstood.  A word that the little voices inside my head told me to weaken, or at least include a disclaimer insisting that my husband is in no immediate danger.

But I ignored that voice and called my post “The Pregnant Sadist” anyway.  There are A MILLION posts out there about what it’s like to be 36 weeks pregnant, but there are not a million posts about how, at 36 weeks, even the kindest, most nurturing women turn into sadists.  People laughed and shared because it was ridiculous and true.  The edge that was scary to write is what made it successful.

If you want your blog to be different, you’re going to have to do something different.

I’ve written about accidentally locking my kids inside the church, I’ve joked about drinking vodka early in the morning (even though I’m a tee-totaler), and about my cat being gay.  My most-likely-to-be-misunderstood post is the one that has 245,000 Facebook shares.  I still have standards, and you’ll have to decide where your “line” is, but toning it down should be the exception, not the rule.

Nobody responds emotionally to weak content.

You can read the other 3 tips and the rest of the post here!

Happy writing!
Be fearless.

The Last Time?

I always told people I wanted “at least 3 kids.”

Granted, I didn’t expect to have ALL THREE before I turned 28, but nevertheless.  Here I sit.  Three kids.

Sometimes when I told people that I wanted “at least 3 kids” they would tell me, “You say that now – just wait ’til you HAVE ONE.”  When I was pregnant they added, “You might change your mind after labor!”  (Which, by the way, is a really stupid thing to tell a pregnant woman.)

10 minutes after delivering Madeline I looked Dan square in the eyes and said,

“Just so you know, that wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t do it again.”

After we’d lived with a baby for a little while, and especially after we received Madeline’s diagnosis, people continued to ask, and my answer never changed.

“Yes, I want more.  Yes, I want at least 3 children.  Yes, I’m sure.

“Just wait,” they said.
“Wait until you have two,” they said.
Then you’ll see,” they said.

I smiled politely and suppressed the urge to roll my eyes.

PSA:  Please, parents, stop telling people in different stages of life to “Just wait.”  It’s kind of patronizing and rude and it never, ever makes anyone feel better about anything.  Stop saying “Wait ’til you have two, wait ’til you have three, wait ’til they start walking, wait ’til they start throwing tantrums, wait ’til they’re teenagers.”  If you want a cookie, just ask for one.  But stop telling everyone else to “just wait…”

Thank you.
Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

In the delivery room, holding Sam for the first time, I knew:  I’m not done.  I’m not done being pregnant.  I’m not done having kids.  This family is beautiful and perfect, but it is not finished.

As I sit here, 36 weeks pregnant with my third child, for the very first time in my life, if someone asked me if I thought I’d have more kids I’d have to answer honestly,

“I don’t know.”

I know that I don’t not want more kids.  But this is the first time I’ve not known with certainty that I do.   This is the first time I’ve even been able to entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, I won’t be pregnant again.

And now, the what-ifs that tag along behind “the unknown” are here en force.

As our little boy gets bigger and bigger, as this pregnancy draws nearer and nearer the end, I can’t help but think:

Could this be the last time I feel a baby do a somersault inside of me?
The last day he bumbles around for 30 minutes straight?
The last time I sit on the couch and watch my belly twitch?
The last time I feel the  l o n g,  s l o w  rolls?
The last time I push down and find a foot, or feel a knee bend beneath the pressure of my hand?
Could this be the last time my womb is full?

I don’t know.
It might be.

That is maddening to me.

Pregnancy is hard for a lot of reasons, but to think that this might be the last tiny baby that I whisper private whispers to, the last baby that lives on the inside of me before he lives on the outside of me, the last baby that sticks his toes up into my rib cage – it makes me stop.

I know that, sooner or later, this too shall pass – this season of baby-bearing.  God knows I won’t miss 98% of it.  At the risk of sounding terribly, awfully, embarrassingly vain – I mostly want my body back.  My breasts have been completely out of control for the last five years (and don’t even bother making cheeky comments like “share the wealth,” because believe me when I say:  if I could afford the surgery, it would have been done yesterday).

But to think that this could be my last tiny little baby makes me forget about the giant bras and maternity pants.  It makes me forget, if only for a minute, the discomfort and fatigue.

Because I’ll never know whether or not this is the last walloping kick before he’s born.  The last walloping kick ever?

This is the trouble of having to live life forwards instead of backwards – we just can’t know.  I could never have known “This is the last time Madeline will fall asleep on my shoulder.” I don’t even know when that happened, but somewhere along the way – it did.   I could never have known, “This is the last time I’ll swaddle Sam.  The last time I’ll nurse him.”  I’ll never know when it’s going to be the last time he will call me “Mmmmmm” instead of Ma-ma  -  then Mommy, then Mom.  It just…happens.  They grow up.

I suppose I’m feeling extra nostalgic, not because this is my last baby, but because it might be.

And so – I’ll just soak it up.  I’ll cry because I’m so happy with this little boy floating around inside of me.  I’ll try to memorize every sensation and know that, in 30 years, despite my best efforts, I won’t be able to recall it, not perfectly anyway.

I won’t wish him born, or wish to not be popping quite so many Tums, or wish for my face to stop puffing up with swelling and baby weight.  I’ll just love it – because I can only live life forward, so I’m going to live it.

(7 months pregnant with Madeline.  At the time I thought this was a “big” belly.  Oh, firstborns.)

(5 months pregnant with Sam.)

(8.5 months pregnant with little brother.)


This video circulated through my Facebook & Twitter newsfeeds twice last month. It is powerful, to be sure.  I watched it a handful of times back to back. I cried.  I shared it.

YouTube Preview Image

(For reference, Sam was 8lbs when he was BORN, and at one and a half years old, weighs 25lbs.)

“The pure joy that will come from a rescue and a ransom of a child’s life is probably the most satisfying thing you can imagine. [George Dennehy]“

The video made me overwhelmingly THANKFUL for how many personal friends I have that are smack dab in the middle of adoptions – right now.  I’m not sure how I got to be friends with such amazing people – I really lucked out in that department.

*My friend, Brandy is bringing home Nora from the DR Congo.  Nora is only 4 days older than Brandy’s biological daughter, Grace, so, God willing, this time next month, Brandy will have “twins.”

*My friend, Susan, also known as “The Greatest Pediatric Physical Therapist Ever” (she taught Madeline to sit, stand, and walk), is waiting to bring home Yulia, a 14-year-old from Ukraine.  After a disappointing delay in the adoption process, she felt it was because God was asking more.  She is now waiting to bring home not one, but three teenagers from the Ukraine.

*My friend, Christie, is bringing home a baby girl due in April.  She found out about the opportunity three weeks ago.  With huge faith and courage she opened her heart and home and said “yes” to the process.  She was chosen by the birth mother this week.  Radical obedience.

*My friend Joe and his family are purposefully seeking to adopt a baby with special needs.  Joe and his wife are not just anti-abortion; they are pro-life.  They (like all adoptive families) are paying a huge sum of money to live out their conviction that every life has value, and to show mothers of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies that there are families willing to raise and love children of all levels of ability.  They already have three young biological children, one of whom has special needs.

Seriously, how is it that I’ve come to know such beautiful, compassionate, generous people?

I’ve not been quiet about how my heart beats for adoption.  Now is not the time for my family; I say this with prayer and peace.  But because it’s a real conviction and passion, I can’t just push the pause button on action.  I try every day not to settle with being “touched,” but to allow myself to be moved.

“Self-deception slithers in when we mistake appreciation for application or being touched with being changed.” [Beth Moore]

If you are certain that adoption is not for your family, or if you’re like me, and it’s just not for your family now, you can still be moved by and for the orphans of the world.  Here are the stories of my four friends, interview style; I’m hoping that they move you like they’ve moved me.

Brandy and Noah

Who are you adopting or seeking to adopt?

Lord-willing, we are adopting lovely Nora Divine from the DR Congo. Although she is now 16 months old, we still refer to her as our “baby” Nora. Apparently she has an enamoring personality since we’ve already been contacted by 4 adoptive families asking if we’ll send pictures and updates to their daughters who miss playing with their baby Nora from the orphanage. Nora is only 4 days older than our biological baby girl, Grace. We tell Grace about her “twin” sister all the time and she can now proudly point to Nora’s picture and say “Sissy.”

 How far along are you in the adoption process?

We have endured almost 3 years in our adoption process, which has felt particularly long since we were originally told the Congo program would only take 6-9 months. Praise God, our next step is actually the last step! We’re fundraising for our travel expenses now, and are tentatively planning to go to the Congo this month to bring our little one home! We are only waiting on her visa, which could be issued any day now, and then we’re approved for travel!

Why did your family choose to adopt?

My husband and I were first drawn to adopt through the influence of our close friends who adopted a son and daughter from Ethiopia three years ago. We were able to walk with them through the entire process and were extremely affected by the profound significance of their adoption as it relates to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Previously, we had regarded adoption as a wonderful “second chance” for couples struggling with infertility, but through our friends, we were humbled and amazed to learn the beauty of the Gospel as it is revealed through adoption.

My husband and I were so touched by this connection between the Gospel and adoption that we couldn’t help but want to be a part of it with our own family. James 1:27 became more than just words on a page as we were challenged to critically consider God’s call in our own lives.

When we were desiring to start a family, we chose to pursue adoption right away rather than looking at it as an option “down the road.” The Congo is the poorest country in the world where 20% of children die before their 5th birthday. It’s also the “rape capital of the world” where if you’re a woman, you know you’re likely to be a victim. Those statistics and the fact that we met the qualifications for this country made us choose the Congo and international adoption.

It was special to find out afterwards that Noah’s late grandfather had always prayed for the Congo and even intended to be a missionary there at one point. Although he never made it there, his prayers for the Congolese will likely have impacted little Nora Divine’s life forever as she will soon become a part of our family.

In the end, we chose to adopt because we’re so grateful God chose to adopt us! We are eager to love and care for our sweet Nora Divine and we love all the ways God has showed His special intention in placing her with our family. For example: Nora and Grace being “twins,” or how Nora’s birthday was the date I had hoped Grace would be born on – 9/10/11 (the coolest birthday ever), and even that Nora’s given name is “Divine” and she is truly our divine gift! After the months and years of waiting, we are still so happy we chose to adopt and can’t wait to really begin this adoption journey once we bring her home!

Brandy and Noah’s Fundraising site (and more pictures of Nora Divine) is here.


Susan and Jerry

Who are you adopting or seeking to adopt?

We are adopting three teenagers from Ukraine: Yulia is 14, Iryna is also 14 and her brother Oleg is 12.

(The three Ukrainian kids and Susan and Jerry’s three biological children at Christmas.)

 How far along are you in the adoption process?

We have completed our home study and sent our 600A form to USCIS. We are awaiting approval from the US government to adopt internationally, and in the meantime, finalizing our dossier to be submitted to Ukraine as soon as our approval comes in.  Also, we are aggressively fundraising.  All expenses are paid to date out of our own pockets, but we have $15,000 due to submit the dossier and then travel expenses to raise.  Our journey began last April, but we didn’t actually begin official adoption proceedings until August 2012.

Why did your family choose to adopt?

This whole thing began with an organization called ProjectOneFortyThree that sponsors the hosting programs in Latvia and Ukraine twice a year; in the summer and at Christmas. Once we were approved, we selected a child, (what I mean is I God selected our child…that soon became obvious) and she came to live with us for seven weeks in June 2012.  Her name was Yulia, she was 14, and she was OURS! We knew it from the moment we saw her.  You see, we had been asked of our intentions upon applying as a host family (host only, adopt or undecided) and we were certainly open to adopting, but were not going into this with the intent to adopt.  That was over the second we saw her smile!

All too soon, the day came to put her back on the airplane to return to Ukraine.  We all cried…for days! It was one of the worst days of my life.  In our grief, we were fueled to begin the adoption process so that we could bring her home permanently.  We were working diligently with the home study, but it soon became apparent that there was no way we would get our Yulia home before Christmas, and therefore decided to re-host.  This was an expense that we really could not afford, but there was no WAY my baby was going to spend Christmas in that orphanage.  She had lived there for eight years of her life and as long as I had breath in my body, she would spend as little time there as I had the ability to control!

Strangely, however, there was unrest in my heart.  We were supposed to do something else, but I didn’t know what. I shared with Jerry and the kids my struggle, and that I felt God was telling me that there were other children that needed us.  Once again, everyone in the family agreed and looking at the “kids needing hosting” list, we found not one, but two kids, a sibling set, who resided at the same orphanage Yulia did. Along came Iryna and Oleg Petryk, ages 14 and 12.  This time we only had the three kids for four weeks, but in that time, we knew this was our new family and we knew why our home study had been delayed.  If our home study had been completed on time, it would have only been approved for us to adopt one child.  Now we could “tweak” it and have it written for three!

Susan and Jerry’s story and fundraising site is here.


Christie and Q

Who are you adopting or seeking to adopt?

We have been chosen to adopt a newborn baby girl from Florida due on April 6!

 How far along are you in the adoption process?

We just found out about this situation three weeks ago and were just chosen by the birth parents this week. So, we are currently in the process of updating our home study and fundraising!

Why did your family choose to adopt?

We started our adoption journey 3 years ago and were blessed with our little girl, Moriah.  We were then presented with the opportunity to adopt her biological brother this time last year.  We were heartbroken when his adoption failed (their birth parents chose to keep him at birth).  We had written off ever adopting again and were trying for biological children when this current situation arose.  Two weeks ago I was getting ready to head out the door when I received a message from a fellow adoptive Mom that said, “I have a birth family that’s looking for a married, Christian, inter-racial couple, with only adopted children for a baby girl due April 6.”  Say what!  Why don’t you just add, “And their names are Christie and Q!”  Because of the criteria the birth family was looking for, we couldn’t say no!  So, we were obedient to what we felt the Lord was asking us to do and here we are….trusting and believing!

Christie and Q’s story/blog is here.
Their current fundraising campaign is here.


Joe and Hannah


Who are you adopting or seeking to adopt?

We are seeking out a child with special needs. We clearly have a heart for individuals with special needs seeing as we already have a child with Down Syndrome. I can’t fathom the notion of anyone passing up on a Benji! What a blessing he has been. When we met with our adoption counselor for the first time, she confirmed our intentions by telling us that Special Needs adoptions are one of the biggest needs. We were told that Joe and I would be with only a handful of other adoptive parents on the registry willing to adopt Special Need Infants.

Where are you in the adoption process?

Fundraising and waiting!  We are home study approved for a domestic adoption (Within the US – we did not do an international home study and therefore, are ineligible to adopt overseas – at least for this adoption! Who knows, maybe we’ll adopt again in the future!).  We are looking to get a family lawyer and working on procuring an adoption loan for $20,000!!!! (WOW!!!!) We are hoping to raise at least part of this. Definitely a faith journey!

 Why did your family choose to adopt?

We believe every life has value and that those with special needs are a valuable and wanted part of the community. If there is no one to care for these babies, how would a mother be persuaded to choose life for her child? We want to show the world that “Benji’s” are worth fighting for! They are worth loving. They are worth sacrificing for.

Joe and Hannah’s blog and story is here.  (There is a link to their PayPal account on the site.)


I’m so thankful for people like Brandy, Susan, Christie, and Joe (and Kelly and Jamie…) who know that the widows and orphans and impoverished and suffering in the world are not someone else’s responsibility.  I’m thankful for people who do not shy away from the command and the call, even when it sounds radical and difficult and costly.  Would you consider helping me help them bring their babies home?  Will you be more than touched, will you be moved?


“Far too often I hear, “If people can’t afford what it costs to adopt, they shouldn’t adopt.”  We were crushed one time by a person very close to us who said, “How come when YOU hear from God it costs ME money?”  Usually I am too hurt to respond with adequate words.  I saw this from my very smart friend on Facebook and had to share, ‘When a family seeks help in raising funds for an adoption, it’s not like asking people to pitch in toward a new boat, or help pay for a vacation. What they are doing is committing to heal, with God’s help, a child who has suffered the profound damage of being unwanted and unloved. They are obediently living out the command given in James 1:27 to care for the orphan, clothing the gospel of Christ’s redemption in flesh and blood and now. When they ask for the body of Christ to come alongside them financially and prayerfully, they are giving us the opportunity to be a part of the miracles God works through obedience.’”  [Via Christie's Facebook this week]


Amen and amen.