Monday, December 24, 2012

More Shopping Fun . . .

So, after my early morning shopping adventure, Saturday afternoon, I created another method for avoiding the craziness of  shopping on the eve of the eve of Christmas Eve. Strategically, Fortunately, I have a dear friend who is a manager at LifeWay (shout out!!) and I gave her a call to see if she had a certain gift I was looking for. She was TOO kind to actually go look on the shelf and pick out several things I asked for . . . then, she even took my credit card info over the phone and made my purchase for me! To top it off as one of the greatest friends of all time, she brought my purchase to me at church the next day! WOW. Talk about personal customer service!! Love you, girl!

Sunday evening, I couldn't avoid an actual in-person store visit. (It'd be hard to order a veggie tray online!) So, I went to a local grocery store that actually wasn't very busy at all. I picked up my veggie tray and some extra carrots (gotta have plenty of those!), then my eye caught sight of a HUGE gift card display. I perused my choices and actually got a couple more gifts off my list! Woohoo. Then, I asked a store employee if they carried batteries, and she was actually standing right in front of some - perfect! THEN, she pointed out an ad in their sales paper that gave me some free batteries along with the ones I was already planning to buy. Double (A) woohoo!

So, overall, it's been a great shopping experience this Christmas season. I've got to make a quick stop today for giant gift bags (for giant gifts that I don't want to wrap, of course), drinks and bread for Christmas dinner with the in-laws, and ONE more gift. Nothing like Christmas Eve for last minute shopping! Ahhh, procrastination . . .

I couldn't find another Christmas flashback, so here's a summer flashback from Sandestin!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New Christmas Tradition . . .

This year I procrastinated as usual and did my shopping at the last minute. However, instead of fighting the crowds on one of the busiest shopping days of the year (Saturday before Christmas), I went REALLY early Saturday morning to avoid the crowds.

I'm talking super early . . .

So early, it seemed like Friday night still . . .

In fact, I never went to bed Friday night . . .

I just left a Christmas party around 12:30am and went shopping!

A couple of disclaimers: For this to work, of course, I had to go to a store that was open 24 hours a day. AND . . . I didn't find everything I was looking for. So, I'll have to go out on another day to find a couple of leftover items. AND . . . I probably don't have to shop for as many people as others do, so that makes it easier to do most of it in one night in one store. 

Overall, my shopping experience was GREAT! 

--I didn't have to fight any crazy moms (or dads or grandmas or whoevers) who just have to have THAT new toy for their kid.

--I didn't have to squeeze through crowded aisles or maneuver around thousands of other shoppers that all seem to need something in exactly the same spot at the same time.

--I didn't have to wait in any black-friday-esque lines outside OR inside the store.

--I walked right up to a register and actually was blessed to be able to let someone go in front of me that only had one item. (I had a buggy-full.) Otherwise, no waiting!

--The store employees were actually kind and courteous and helpful!

SO, shopping from approximately 1am-3am on the Saturday morning before Christmas will be a new tradition for me! I absolutely loved it.

Christmas Eve 2007 - our first Married Christmas!
Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or both?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Update and Christmas flashback . . .

For the last two weeks, I've had Friday, the 21st in my head. Not because of the Mayan calendar or because the world was supposed to end, but because that was the deadline our case worker gave us for completing our home study - on her end.

By Tuesday of this week, we had everything turned in and it was just a matter of waiting. Friday morning arrives and I receive a phone call from our case worker with a couple of last minute questions. Then, I ask what will happen next. She explains that although she will have our home study completed, it has to pass through the director of our agency office first . . . THEN, it can be approved.

So, we are still a couple of steps away from being ready for placement.
       1. Home Study Approval
       2. Complete our Profile Book

I've started working on the profile book using MixBook. It's really easy and makes the whole thing look very professional. I am looking forward to visiting all of our family over the Christmas break to get up-to-date pictures! Be forewarned, family members, I need your best smiles! :)

Christmas Flashback! 2009, Black and White Party
In 2009, we had a black and white party. Everyone wore black and white clothes, we ate black and white foods, and we watched "It's a Wonderful Life" (best Christmas movie ever) in - you guessed it - black and white! It was a lot of fun and something I would definitely do again.

ShareTime: Do you have a favorite "grown-up" Christmas memory?

Friday, December 21, 2012


This morning I will be walking with some friends and praying for the families of the children and teachers who lost their lives in Connecticut last Friday. If you're reading this, please take a few minutes and pray for those families and the friends of those who were killed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Baby Room

We've started the baby room! Technically, it was started when we first moved in (4 years ago). We painted the walls green then and had the idea that one day we would decorate when we knew we were having a baby. When I was pregnant with the girls, we didn't get very far in decorating, so the room pretty much stayed an office and still has a bunch of junk in it.

I wanted to do something different for our third child...something that allows him or her to be unique. We haven't gotten very far, just paint colors and fuzzy ideas. All I know right now is there will be yellow and white, and we are repurposing some old furniture to use. I saw a really classic looking nursery on Pinterest that was yellow, white, and gray. We might go that route. It would work for both girls and boys.

Saturday, I started painting the largest piece of furniture - this beautiful wood bookcase that was given to me for free back in college. It will serve wonderfully for baby books and baskets of toys. Here's a before and after: (still have to paint the bottom two inches and two more shelves)

We are moving slowly with the buying of baby items. There are some things that we could easily buy now and hold on to for months and years, if needed, but we are trying to be realistic about what we should buy right now. I've started a registry, but it's slow-going. There are so many choices!

If you are an eager family member or friend, we will welcome practical baby gifts, if you just can't help it. :) A friend of mine wants to throw us a shower, so that might be in the plans for a few months away. It's exciting to think about!

Small adoption update: all of our paperwork is in and we are simply waiting for approval. yippee!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Few Words on tragedy...

After a tragedy, many people will say there are no words to express the sadness, the pain, the anger, the confusion, the despair. I agree.

There are a few Words, though, that I believe can help. Having been through a personal tragedy and loss of my children, these Words have given comfort and peace when nothing else would.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 42:11 NASB)

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NASB)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

People, pray for one another. Pray for those who have lost their children, those who have lost a loved one, those who are dealing with tragedy. The God of all comfort will send comfort to them.

*in memory of Joanna and Rita, and those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary school

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Hope is in You...

There's a song by Aaron Shust that is played on the radio all the time and I thought about it tonight as I was thinking about the adoption process and life in general. So perfect.

My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long
I won’t be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing
My hope is in You, Lord

These lyrics can apply to so much of my life and I know my hope for our adoption is in God alone.

Our last home visit was great. We talked about familiar subjects . . .
     . . . the early days of our childhood (where we went to school, etc.)
     . . . how Hampton and I met and when we started dating (always a fun topic, since Hampton once proclaimed to a friend of his: "I'll never date that Nicole Hughes girl" - HAHA)

Maybe that comment was based on such behavior as exhibited in this pic? HAHA.

Other topics included . . .
     . . . when we graduated college, what our degrees are in, graduate school and medical school, when Hampton joined the Air Force
     . . . Hampton's schedule and how that might affect our parenting (I'm honestly looking forward to staying home, although I L.O.V.E. my current job)

We also talked about the next step in the process (after turning in more paperwork, of course), which is to make our profile books. These are books that contain our pictures and some brief info about us. Birthmothers will look at these via the agency and use the profiles to help choose an adoptive family for their baby.

I CANNOT WAIT TO GET STARTED ON THIS. lol. I'm seriously way too excited about it. But really, how many chances do you get to tell someone else all about yourself and your brilliant husband (seriously, he's brilliant . . . if you know him, you know I'm right).

See how brilliant he is?

So, our case worker should have all of our paperwork in by Tuesday and will hopefully have us approved by Friday!!

Later in the song, these lyrics are sung, which represent another part of the adoption process and something we are very familiar with - waiting.

I will wait on You
You are my refuge
I will wait on You
You are my refuge

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
~Psalm 130:5

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Today's a big day here at the McClendon house! Our last home visit! I'm looking forward to writing all about it later and posting tomorrow morning.

In other news, I've been helping plan a children's musical for our church over the last couple of months and it's been a lot of fun! The performance is this Sunday night and the kids have been working hard to memorize their lines and the song lyrics. We have a lot of solos, too! The musical is called "The Best Christmas Present Ever!" and if you haven't heard of it, you should look it up and check out the songs. The story presents the gospel and the story of Christmas in a unique way. I'm excited for the kids - they get to be witnesses this Sunday night!

And just for fun . . .

I've been reminiscing a lot lately about the early years of my relationship with my now husband. One of my favorite memories from college is represented in the following photo:

Hope our college minister doesn't mind the cameo here!

This picture was taken in Guatemala, when Hampton and I joined over 40 other college students to take the Gospel to the people there. It was an amazing trip and it basically marks the point when my friendship with Hampton became something more. The reason I love this picture so much is that our college minister has legitimate claims to have helped the matchmaking process. Hampton and I were in a drama group together throughout the first two years of college and we were actually cast as girlfriend and boyfriend in one particular ongoing sketch. It was all College Minister's idea. :)

By the way, can any of my college friends name that skit we did every week for a while? BONUS POINTS FOR YOU!

So, now you've seen various stages of our friendship/relationship/marriage. Congrats! Hampton loves to talk about the earliest days, so maybe you'll get a story or two out of him sometime soon. :)

"See" you all tommorrow with a summary of our last home visit!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Adoption Timeline Recap...

Here's where we've been . . .

May 19, 2012 - completed online application

June 29 - preliminary paperwork mailed to adoption agency

mid-July - confirmed reservations at informational meeting

I went to London in late July/early August! This is one of my fave pics . . .

August 24 - attended informational meeting

August 31 - mailed more paperwork (and some money) to the agency

September 5 - received offical confirmation from the agency and online login

September 7 - completed formal application online

September 15 - received massive packet of paperwork from agency

September 16-October 8 - fingerprinting, local, state, and FBI background checks, personal surveys,  drug screen, and other paperwork

October 9 - mailed in all paperwork to agency

October 17 - confirmed receipt of paperwork and learned that our case was being reviewed by the director of the agency office

October 25 - talked to our case worker on the phone for the first time

Meanwhile, Hampton went to Africa!

November 15 - first home study visit

December 7 - educational meeting and individual interviews

December 11 - talked to case worker on the phone again and confirmed last home visit for Thursday, December 13

And here we are this week, with our last home visit coming up on Thursday. I LOVE this list of dates - it makes the process look so concise and simple, haha! But it also represents a lot of prayer and support for our friends and family over the last 6 months (and more and more and more). We love you all so much!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Interviews and lingo...

After our education meeting last Friday, we went to our agency's office and had our individual interviews. Before we split up, we had to complete this survey without looking at or talking to each other. Fun stuff.

Hampton did his interview first and it lasted about 45 minutes. Mine was about the same. I'm not going to give any details on these because they were very personal - but suffice it to say we think they went well. Our adoption case worker is wonderful and she makes me feel comfortable talking to her about anything.

After the interviews, we attempted to schedule our final home visit, which was difficult because Hampton had to check his schedule at work. We are tentatively on for this coming Thursday, December 13. So excited!! I cannot believe how quickly the process has gone at this point. The beginning was all slow and waiting and "when are we going to get to the next part." Now, it's here - we should have an approved home study before Christmas!

Another flashback picture:
A few years ago at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC.

I will conclude with some adoption lingo. There are certain phrases the adoption world chooses to use to appropriately and accurately express the process and the people involved. Here are some commonly used words and phrases and some appropriate alternatives:

Instead of "real or natural parent" . . . say "birthparent" or "biological mom or dad"

Instead of "real child" . . . say "birth child"

Instead of "put up or give up for adoption" . . . say "choosing adoption" or "making an adoption plan"

Instead of "keep the child" . . . say "parent the child"

Instead of "unwanted pregnancy" . . . say "unplanned, unintended, or untimely pregnancy"

Instead of "find real parents" . . .  say "search for birthparents"

Instead of "foreign adoption" . . . say "intercountry or international adoption"

Instead of "adoptee" . . .  say "someone who was adopted"

I'm sure there will be more as we go through the matching and placement process and as we talk with more adoptive families. I will say this: Don't be afraid to ask questions and talk to us about our adoption. WE ARE EXCITED. And we want to talk to you and share that excitement!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Adoption Education...

If you're not caught up on the life of the McClendons, click here.

Last Friday, we had an adoption educational meeting. The meeting started at 9am and we were actually the first couple there, surprisingly! There ended up being about 5 or 6 other couples there, and three adoption specialists who facilitated the meeting - one of which was our case worker. I won't bore you with every detail of the meeting, but I do want to share my favorite parts and a few things we learned.

But first - another classic picture!
This was at a BCM Banquet in '03 I think.

One of my favorite parts of the whole day was watching "16 and Pregnant." Honestly, in my head I always thought that show was ridiculous, but this was GOOD. We watched the story of Catelynn and Tyler, teenagers who got pregnant and decided to choose adoption for their baby girl. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend watching it. There is some language, so be forewarned, but overall it shares a beautiful adoption story. Getting to see the perspective of the birthmom was interesting - and emotional. I think most of the women in the room were crying. It was intense . . . and good.

My other favorite part of the day was talking with two adoptive families and a birthmom who all worked with our agency. We heard their stories from start to finish and then had a Q&A time with them. Each adoption story is unique, so I think it's great to listen to as many as possible. I feel like it gives me a fuller picture of adoption in general, and, in these cases, a picture of what it's like to work with our agency specifically.

There was so much more to the educational meeting, but I'll refrain from quoting bit by bit the novel I wrote in my personal journal! Other topics covered: adoption laws in MS (and yes, they vary by state - sometimes significantly), post adoption depression (similar to post-partum), attachment and bonding, and how to talk to children about adoption.

As we near real-time with this adoption process, my posts about it will become less frequent obviously. I've enjoyed catching everyone up on our life over the last 5 months. I intend to write about the adoption as it unfolds - hopefully quickly, but definitely all in God's amazing timing.

Next time: the individual interviews and adoption lingo!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Home Visit...

Read our Last Update . . .

In preparation for our first home visit with our adoption case worker, I cleaned the house like never before. I didn't know that she would even look in any other rooms besides the living room, but in case she did - everything was squeaky clean!

When we first moved in (over 4 years ago) 

On November 16, we had our first home visit interview. We finally met our case worker and she began really getting to know us beyond the paperwork. She asked tons of questions, about our marriage and each other's personalities, Hampton's job and schedule, and a little bit about our thoughts on adoption and parenting. We also talked a lot about our faith, since we are working with a Christian agency. It was neat to be able to describe how God has called us to be parents and adoption is simply another way to grow our family. We also talked briefly about the girls and the grieving process, and how that might affect or influence our adoption decisions.

The best part of the interview was just getting to know our case worker. She was wonderful and made us feel comfortable about the whole process. She reassured us that she was going to be just as urgent with our case as we wanted, so that was a relief as well.

We also talked briefly about our "preferences" for the baby, which is also one of the first questions we get asked when we tell someone we are adopting. At this point, we have no preferences - this means our baby could be a boy or girl, of any race, and may have some special needs. Some of this will be part of the discussion with the birthmom, but more on that in a later post! Ultimately, we know that God knows our future children and that gives me peace about the whole thing.

After this first visit, our case worker told us about an educational meeting that was mandatory, which was scheduled for - yes, you guessed it - December 7! We almost had an RSVP goofup and would have had to wait until February, but in the end it all worked out and that's where we were on Friday!

It's neat to rehash all of this process here, to write about each step again and to see it in hindsight. God has blessed us so much in this process and I'm so glad we can share it with you all!

Next time: details about the educational meeting and our individual interviews!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Philippians 1:6 again...

God is clearly trying to tell us something! Friday's theme was hope (it kept coming up again and again!), which makes sense in our circumstances especially. But it also applies to EVERYONE. If you need hope (and who doesn't?), turn to Jesus. Putting your hope in anything else - money, your job, even your children or other people - will disappoint you. God is the only One who offers hope that perseveres through any situation.

On that note, once again . . .
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NASB)

We had a great day Friday and I'm looking forward to sharing it all with you very soon! Thank you for your prayers!!

Two weeks? ...

Continued from Adoption and the DMV... 

After mailing in our formal application on September 7, I had the two week deadline in my head. Luckily, we received a thick packet of paperwork in the mail just over a week later, on September 15. We had checked the mail on our way out to dinner, so we brought the whole thing into the restaurant to look through. After dinner we came home and completed about half of the paperwork. The other half would need either further information that we didn't have at hand or would need to be sent to other agencies. Like the FBI background check! Fun stuff.

Anybody else LOVING these flashback pictures?
This one was taken at Steak n' Shake, just after we started dating!! :)

I won't leave you hanging . . . we finished all of that paperwork and sent it in on October 9. It took awhile to get everything we needed, especially since Hampton's schedule basically doesn't allow him to go anywhere during normal business hours. I'll admit that I'm a bit of a dork when it comes to paperwork, so it was all super-organized and paperclipped and in logical order, etc. I was more than excited to turn it over to the post office!

Over the next couple of weeks, we had a mix up with who received our paperwork, found out that it was forwarded to our case worker and she was reviewing it, talked to our case worker on the phone about a number of issues and questions, and scheduled our first home visit.

Also during this time, we completed our preference paperwork for the Air Force, Hampton went on a trip to Africa, and I started planning a Children's Christmas Musical.

We were a bit busy . . . and it felt GREAT!

P.S. Glimpse of future post: Today (December 7) is an important part of the adoption process!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Adoption and the DMV...

What do adoption and the DMV have in common?

In my last post, I mentioned a bit of post office drama in relation to mailing some adoption paperwork. Well, it was basically a case of misaligned circumstances . . .

We went to the preliminary meeting on a Friday. On Monday, I put the forms and a check in the mail at work, which someone takes every day to the post office. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Isaac, the mail didn't get out until Friday of that week, which was August 31. Of course, the following Monday was Labor Day, so the agency didn't actually receive our paperwork until Tuesday, September 4. Minor drama, but still. When every day in the adoption process feels like you're the last person in line at the DMV, the waiting adds up!

Thankfully, our agency was quick to respond once they had the paperwork, and we received a confirmation email and a login for the website where we would complete our formal application. Needless to say, I logged in immediately and filled in as many blanks as I could off the top of my head. That night, Hampton and I filled in a bunch more of it and we were able to finish it by the end of that week. On Friday, September 7, we submitted our formal application. So, my previously-mentioned goal of having our application completed by September was not too far off!

Eager as I was, I messaged our case worker to say hello (and make sure she receieved our app) and she messaged me right back! She stated that someone from the agency would be starting with our family "in the next couple of weeks."

I'll let you guess what's next on the timeline . . . did we hear from the agency exactly two weeks later? more than two weeks later? or less than two weeks later?

Stay tuned...

This is an oldie!! Just for fun :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our first meeting...

Find the beginnings of our adoption story HERE, HERE, and HERE.

On August 24, Hampton and I drove to Hattiesburg for our first informational meeting. We were running late, which annoyed me, but there wasn't much we could do about it. When we arrived, everyone else was already there, and the speaker had already started, which further annoyed me... (we were only about 5 minutes late!). We snuck in and sat down and listened to the adoption specialist as she welcomed all of us.

I won't go into a complete play-by-play because it would bore you. But I am definitely willing to answer any questions anyone has. There are a lot of assumptions and misconceptions about the adoption process and knowledge is valuable!

The most interesting part of the meeting was the statistics pertaining to the adoptions in the previous two years at this agency. It was neat to see exactly how many adoptions they had done in Mississippi and a few specifics on each. This gave us a better idea of this agency and what we would be looking forward to for placement.

Besides that new information, much of the rest of it was a repeat - which was okay, because I was happy that we were so well-informed. Between the paperwork and information the agency sent us and my extensive reading of blogs and books and whatever I could get my eyes on, we were definitely at a good place of knowledge about what we were doing.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to talk with the other couples at the meeting at all, so that part of the meeting was a bust. But it was good to be at the agency and get an overall feel for the process.

I mentioned paperwork in a previous post and we went home from this first meeting with several more pieces that would have to be sent back in order to move forward. Ahh, the post office...more on that next time.

Just for fun, here are a couple more pictures from London!

Me at Westminster Abbey
Big Ben and a red double-decker bus

Monday, December 3, 2012

Next steps...

If you haven't read the beginnings of our adoption story, please go here and check it out!

So, on July 3, the agency confirmed receipt of our preliminary application and said they would be in touch in the next couple of days. We got something in the mail later that week that invited us to attend an informational meeting in August, which at the time seem SO far away. But summer went by quickly of course, between kids camp and a London mission trip - and we found ourselves in August just days away from our first meeting with the agency.

At least part of this time, I was waiting while in London!

During this waiting period, we started telling our close friends and family, as well as our co-workers and a few other adoptive families.

I remember having big expectations for this first meeting and really wondering what kind of other couples would be there - and what their stories were. I also wrote in my journal that I wanted to have the formal application done by September. I really had no idea what was involved, of course, and would find out very soon that as much as my own timeline sounded perfectly reasonable in my head, I was also dependent on others - and their timelines don't always move as quickly!

Next up, our first agency meeting!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Starting the adoption process...

Thanks for all of your encouraging words and for your prayers! I wanted to go back in time a bit so you will know where we've come from and where we're going in the adoption process.

A little father back in time - on our honeymoon 5 years ago!
Hampton and I had talked about adoption even before we were married. It was always on the table, always an option for growing our family, and we considered it as almost definite in our future as parents. When we gave birth to our sweet twin girls two years ago, adoption came to the forefront of our minds again.

I started researching more online and reading tons of blogs by adoptive families and adoption advocates. Hampton and I discussed timing and logistics and options and convictions and passions . . . and we prayed and felt a peace about going ahead with the adoption at this time.

After more research into various agencies and options, we decided that we wanted to adopt a baby within the US. This is designated as Domestic Infant Adoption. On May 19 of this year, we sent in a preliminary application online. We kept everything very quiet in the beginning and decided to wait to tell anyone until we were sure about the agency and the process.

On June 29, I sent in a few more bits of paperwork (a recurring theme, be forewarned), and I started keeping a personal journal about the process. I wanted to share a few of my thoughts from June with you all:

Today, I mailed the rest of our preliminary paperwork to Bethany Christian Services. It was weird to think about that envelope being opened and our testimonies being read by some random adoption agent in Jackson. Hopefully, it will get there tomorrow and the agency will get it Monday. The postal worker asked me what was in the envelope (to determine how important it was, haha) and I almost told him the whole story of my life. Instead, I just said simply, "paperwork" and shrugged. LIKE IT WAS NO BIGGIE. HAHA.

I remember my thoughts running wild that day, how I was so nervous about sending my life-in-paperwork to this agency and how I wanted to shout from the rooftops what we were doing. And I remember not wanting to have to WAIT for the agency to get our paperwork and get back to us. But wait we did (another recurring theme) . . .

Waiting and paperwork. Many would describe adoption in those terms, and rightfully so. Of course, it's so much more.

As I shared yesterday, earthly adoption is but a glimpse of the amazing eternal adoption we receive as followers of Christ. Praise God that He chooses to adopt us into His family! He chooses YOU.

I'm so looking forward to sharing more of our story with you in the coming days and I'm so glad I have you all to pray for us and wait with us. We are blessed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Romans 8:15-17 and...

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." ~Romans 8:15-17

I'm so thankful to be a child of God, an heir with Christ, an adopted daughter of the Mighty King. How amazing is the Father's love for us! How vast beyond measure!! The way He welcomes us into His eternal family is indescribable. On that note . . .

Hampton and I are blessed to announce
that we will be adopting a baby!

We are right in the middle of the process and I will write more about the details soon. For now, I'll answer two of the most popular questions we've gotten so far:

1. We have no idea WHEN. The timelines for adoptions are all over the place. Just know that this is all in God's timing and we are trusting Him.

2. We are adopting domestically, which means the baby will be born in the United States.

There will be more details to come soon, I promise! Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kids Ministry...

So, I have been employed in children's ministry for 10 months now and I can hardly believe it. I feel completely at home, like it's something I've been doing for years. Of course, I have worked with children for a while now . . . but the ministry is different.

There's so much MORE to ministry than meets the eye. The organizational, analytical side of me loves the behind-the-scenes administrative duties, while the personal teacher side of me thrives in the active child-centered activities . . . and the socially awkward part of me loathes the many many phone calls. But all of these aspects makes the ministry what it is - a multi-faceted job that no one can do alone.

And I am SO thankful that I am not alone. Not only am I understudy to an amazing children's ministry director who is SO dedicated to the children she works with, but I am also priveleged to work alongside many many many volunteers who give freely of their precious time to inspire children and to teach them about Jesus. Each person that I work with has unique gifts and talents - and together, we all make up the body of Christ. Thank God I'm not alone.

Ephesians 4 speaks to the unity of the body of believers and to the uniqueness of each us.

One of a kind . . . united for the purpose of One.

One of the most rewarding things I've learned in the last 10 months is how the entire church is crazily interrelated. Children's ministry is not isolated from Women's Ministry or the Senior Adult Ministry or the Youth Ministry. EVERYONE has a part in EVERYTHING the church does. And when we, as young married couples and new moms and single dads and children and 30-year teaching veterans and missionaries and teens come together to do ministry, it can be AMAZING. I've seen it with my own human eyes . . .

. . . and I know God's vision is SO MUCH BIGGER.

I want to be a part of that Big Picture, the Eternal Plan, the Kingdom Work. Do you?

What are we doing today to make an eternal impact? What ministry or life are we investing in to further God's purpose and to spread His glory?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Philippians 1:6...

I have a list of blog topics that I desperately need to write about to catch up on my life over the last few months...and I'm starting with this one because it's the easiest (and most recent)!

Philippians 1:6 states "...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." I posted this verse on facebook last Saturday just minutes after submitting my final paper for my final class. As soon as grades are posted, I will have a Masters in Religion, with a concentration in Church Ministries. YAY!

I write about this not to "toot my own horn," but once again to reflect on how far God has brought me. He is completing a good work in me! And, as per usual, He takes something tragic and redeems it.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have gone back to school for this degree, and for the calling God has placed on my life to work with children.

I want to encourage each of you to seriously think and pray about what God is calling you to do. Think about your ministry, your occupation, your career, your family, your entire life - what is the purpose? Remember, we were not created to simply survive another day...we were created for abundant life!

I recently had to outline a church planting strategy for one of my classes; it also included a section where I talked about my personal calling in ministry. I want to share part of that with you...

I have long felt a call to work with children in general, even before I became a Christian as a young teenager. This call on my life was solidified in college as I earned my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in Special Education. God revealed the gift of teaching to me at a young age as well and I always felt natural in any teaching situation, whether formal or informal. As I taught in the elementary school setting, I believe God used this gift He gave me to touch many lives, including my own. I also engaged in reaching children through the church setting, in teaching Sunday school and preschool programs. After marrying and starting a family, I continued to feel God’s call on my life towards working with children. When a personal tragedy set my life on a different course, I felt God nudging me to explore the ministry side of my calling. I began courses in children’s ministry and began to seek out leadership positions in children’s ministry at my church. At this time I serve as the Children’s Ministry Associate on staff at my church and I am currently finishing my Masters in Religion, with a concentration in Church Ministries. I thoroughly enjoy serving the children and their families in our church and community. God has also recently confirmed the spiritual gifts of administration, faith, and discernment – which have all been a blessing to have as I work with the children’s ministry at my local church and which I know will be valuable strengths in a church planting situation.

As I continue down this new path, I ask for your prayers and encouragement. Children's Ministry is hard. But I'm learning so much and I work with such amazing examples of patience, organization, and love. I can't wait to share more Adventures in Children's Ministry in the coming months.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why I Blog...again.

(If you're new to Whatever My Lot, please read My Story Here and Part 2 here.)

Just a reminder. For myself and my readers. This picture shows the blankets, teddy bears, and memory boxes that we brought home from the hospital two years ago. I opened them tonight to remember.

This is why I blog. And, two years later, this is why I blog again. Because...

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

~Casting Crowns

I blog because it still hurts. And because there are so many others hurting out there. Sometimes writing is a way to remind myself and others that God offers hope. And peace. Especially peace.

I don't intend to simply relive the past again and again. I want to always remember. But we are looking forward. I'm so thankful for the short time I had with my girls. I blog for them. For Joanna. For Rita. And I blog for so many many many others.

The following was written today, for a dear friend. Thinking of you today.

Friday, September 21, 2012

After these messages, we'll be right back...

Blogging here at WhateverMyLot will resume October 15.

Exciting news and many updates will follow!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Small Bird Studios Giveaway!

Sorry I've been away for awhile. I'll be back here eventually.

For now, here's a link to a really neat giveaway at Small Bird Studios for some beautiful jewelry by Kayce Jones. Check it out!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Europe Part 5...

On the last leg of our trip, we flew from Rome to Paris, a flight that we almost missed. Note to self - when carrying extra baggage, arrive at the airport at least 2 hours ahead of time.

Anyway, once we arrived in Paris, grabbed a train into the city, and trekked to our hotel (only to find out we couldn't check in yet), we decided to walk around a little and find some lunch. We ate at a cute little cafe that had burgers and other "American" fare. YUM. (I know, I know...we should have searched for authentic French food - but we were hungry and this place was convenient).

After finally checking in to the hotel (which, by the way, was very close to the Louvre!!) and taking a short nap, we went to see some sights.

Ah, Notre Dame...the other side was under renovation, so we didn't get to see the cool spires and such.

But we did get to see some cool gargoyles!! 

Ze Eiffel Tour...which we decided (once again) to take the stairs to the top!
The view from Level 1 (about 300 stairs up)

From Level 2, I think...(maybe about 700 stairs up?)
Finally at the top! (a few more stairs and a quick elevator ride)

Probably my favorite picture ever!

Ze Arc de Triomphe
The way cool entrance to the Louvre! (I had NO idea how HUGE this museum is. It would take WEEKS to go through it properly. We had like 4 hours.)

Inside the Louvre

Ahh, Mona Lisa. You are not so interesting to me, but I took a picture of you anyway.

This picture was on the opposite wall from the Mona Lisa and hardly anyone was looking at it - despite it being WAY BETTER (and like, 10 times larger) than Mona. HELLO? - The Wedding at Cana, anyone? Bueller? Bueller???

La Seine...goodbye Paris!

 Thank you for bearing with me as I finished this series of posts. We had an amazing trip with many adventures and fun stories. I hope you enjoyed our pictures!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Europe Part 4...LOL

SO...yeah, I don't know how many of my readers are still looking for the rest of our Europe trip, but I thought I'd go ahead and finish telling about it anyway. HAHA.

Next up on our trip was the Vatican City and the rest of Rome.

The Vatican...we decided to climb to the top of the cupola first!
Here I am at the "rest stop" which is about 2/3 of the way up to the cupola! (500 steps or so)

The view from the top!

Hampton and I after climbing 500+ steps to the top of the Vatican! (Rome behind us)

This is a hallway in the Vatican Museum. It's not the Sistine Chapel (can't take pics in there), but it's on the way there! :)

They have wonderful interesting signage in Rome (and all of Europe for that matter, lol)!

Love the Trevi Fountain!
Hampton, making a wish and throwing his penny (or drachma or something we didn't need anymore, haha)

Next up, PARIS!!


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