Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

1.  The wisdom of Pioneers. I am still considering and relishing in all the wisdom we were handed at the conference last weekend. It was truly amazing to be there!

2.  Prudent Baby's Evil Buttercream Icing. Specifically on top of my orange cupcakes for potluck tomorrow!

3.  New ideas and motivation. Much needed help for organizing the chaos slight disarray of the sewing area of the multi-purpose room which is now going to be the music/office/crafts/guest room in preparation of Sweet Girl's homecoming =)

4.  Lifelong friendships

5.  A host of friends and family helping raise the funds needed for 5 plane tickets to Africa!! Well, 4 and a half... Sweet Girl just needs one home!

6.  New TOMS wedges. Have you seen these? I them:

7. Good News! I read about another lovely family receiving "The Call" this week and it made my heart soar all over again!! That feeling is euphoric. I can't even describe it but I was so excited to see that they were holding pictures of their new Little One.

Beautiful. Just Beautiful.

8.  Books that challenge my spirit. I have kinda-sorta joined a Book Club...meaning, I am reading the books with them but their meeting dates for the next TWO months coincide with dates we are traveling. Thus, I am not really in the club...since the whole meeting-discussing-eating our hearts out is a critical element of said-club-ness.

Anyways. This month we are reading two different viewpoints on Hell. And boy, oh I enjoying these books!

9.  Getting cards or letters in the mail. This just makes me happy =)

10.  Fall Weather, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I know I have said this before... I am a creature of habit. Ya'll should just consider yourself lucky that I am not already saying "Christmas" every week =)

What are you thankful for this Thursday??

Stangely Real.

Talking on the phone with a friend yesterday, this was the best way I could describe how it's felt since receiving Cupcake's referral.

Strangely. Real.

In the physical nature of our lives (what we do, when we do it, what we consider before we do it)?

Nothing has really changed.

But in our hearts, we have a three-year old little girl who we love more than we can express.

I know, it's strange.

But it's also real.

When you start saying "Yes" to God, things that seemed impossible become possible. Things that seem unusual become 'normal'. And places that have been guarded and protected in the 'wait' can immediately become vulnerable and overtaken with love. In an instant.

I wouldn't think that a simple picture can change everything. But it does.

I don't have a daughter, here with me. But I do have a daughter.

I don't know how to walk this next part of the journey. But I trust that He hasn't left me here alone.

It's strangely real.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10


Stay Tuned for our Puzzle Piece Fundraiser/Raffle starting Monday!!! And, if you have any items that you can donate as prizes, please contact me at:  smithfamilyjourney [at] gmail [dot]

We are believing God for $5000 with this fundraiser so please consider joining with us as we are working with everything we have to bring our Sweet Girl home!

Monday, September 26, 2011

What a weekend!

The Husband and I just returned from a weekend in Nashville, attending the Empowered to Connect conference with Dr. Karyn Purvis.

I don't know if you have ever read her book, The Connected Child, or followed any of her Trust Based Parenting Principles...but I can't recommend them enough!! We just think she's amazing.

And we are so grateful that she faithfully followed her calling and has laid a framework for helping us understand how to reach and connect with our children from hard places.

I was also so blessed to meet one of my favorite bloggers One Thankful Mom at this conference. The Husband asked me if I approached her like some groupie and fumbled around with all my words--which may or may not have happened to me when I met a favorite band in college. A situation that-if happened- might have left me walking away disgusted with my vocabulary's disloyalty to me--.

But the answer is, No. Thankfully. I think I played it cool. ;-) 

It isn't that I was star-struck (see above: band encounter), but rather extremely honored. I know people struggle with when and how much to share on this "internet" thing that records everything we put here forever...but for us? In adoption? We need those who have gone before us..The present to us the real picture.

That, we are part of God's redemption, yes...but we are now also walking our children through their own grief and trauma...and that may not always be pretty. She does a good job of that and I am so grateful to have followed their story as we embark on our own with Cupcake!

I was also blessed to spend time with friends. We met our friends, The Jones Family, for the conference and enjoyed many laughs and great conversations and also got to see an old friend we hadn't seen in over a decade!

It was overall a beautiful weekend and we were so blessed to have had the opportunity to make the trek!

Lastly, I just can't say enough good things about Dr. Purvis and the Empowered to Connect team. If you are considering (or maybe already in) the world of adoption or foster parenting, please read or watch her stuff! She has such a heart for helping our children heal and just hearing her share stories, you begin to partner with her faith that we CAN walk our children through their grief and trauma and into a secure relationship with a family!!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Six Weeks.

It's been six weeks today.

The hardest part, at this point, has been trying to keep my expectations in check.

They told us 8-12 weeks before we'd here anything.

So, I will NOT call them for an update at six weeks.

Although, my phoneline is open...

In case they want to call me.

Because I am ready.

Anytime now....
Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.  1 Peter 5:7

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

There have been a couple days where I struggled to find something specifically going on that I was "thankful" for...and immediately, I would be brought to repentence:

"We rejoice [Give Thanks] in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  I Thessalonians 5:18

I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but...

I'm not perfect.

And sometimes, I need to be reminded that I have So. Much. to be thankful for...

Even on days when work stinks and I wish I was anywhere else.

Even when my house is filthy and balancing the checkbook gives me ulcers.

Even when nothing seems to be going in my favor.

I should still be Thankful.

Because I have been redeemed.

I have been given salvation and eternal life.

And it doesn't matter how bad things get here.......Because my rewards are in Christ.

He IS my hope everlasting.

So, here is what I am thankful for today:

*  My cat, Oliver. He pretty much adores me. It's nice to come home to that =)

*  New connections who have a heart for helping adoptive families

*  Netflix (specifically, Star Trek: The Next Generation right now)

*  Fall television premiers

*  Fall. Just in general.

*  Cooler temperatures (see above)

*  Saturdays with nothing planned

*  Opportunities for new friendships

*  Spicy Taco Soup

*  Upcoming trips with wonderful friends

How about you? What are you Thankful for this Thursday??

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Conversation I Wish I'd Never Heard.

Have you ever been there?


A few weeks ago? I was there. Nowhere to go. Overhearing a conversation that made my heart cry and my ears bleed.

The conversation about "race". 

I first started overhearing it about the time she said the words "And then [my daughter] asked what we would do if she wanted to marry one"


African American.

"I told her that I just want what's best for her...How difficult 'that life' would be..not being accepted by any race"

Yes, you're probably feeling it too, right now, I'm sure.

That desire to stand up for our children.

To butt right into these strangers conversation and talk about our beautiful brown-skinned sons and daughters.

To stand up for our friends who married for love. Not race.

I did, too.

Because the thought that my daughter? wouldn't be accepted by any community because of her family...or because of the color of her skin? Destroys me.

I didn't interrupt.

Instead, I prayed in the spirit. I looked through my amazing photo album of Sweet Girl.

I even looked up hair-style tips.

And I did my best to forget what I was now unable to stop listening to.

Since then, I have spent a lot of time in prayer about this. I truly believe that one of the easiest attacks of the enemy is to build on the fear that we will be rejected. To feed on our desire for community. You see? God created us for community. To live amongst our breathren. To love our neighbor as ourselves.

And, Satan? Hates that.  His mission is to destroy us. And telling us that a certain "path" will lead us to a place of not being accepted? is a cheap shot at God's plan for the Body of Christ.

And the fact that these conversations still happen suggests that our society is still broken. That we still have a long way to go.

But my confidence does not come from society and her dysfunctions.

My confidence comes from Christ.

And while my daughter's heritage is African.

And her culture will be a mixture of Ethiopian and American.

Her identity? Is in Christ alone.

She's not just an Ethiopian American. She's the daughter of those who have devoted their lives to the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth. Her family is not made up of biological and adopted family members, of all colors I might add, but also of the Body of Christ. Of the church.

She's the precious daughter of the Most High.

And we are honored that He would choose us to shepherd her life on earth. That He would share His favorite one with us.

I pray today, that the Church grabs hold of this in a new way. That 10am on Sundays would no longer be the most segregated hour of the week. That the Body of Christ would come together in unity and stand up to society saying "You've got it all wrong! THIS isn't how it is supposed to be! Our acceptance is not based on the color of our skin! We are all chosen by God and blessed because we believe in Him"

"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him"  Romans 10:12

I don't know what trials we will face in our lives.

I don't claim to have many--if any at all--of the answers to the problems in our world.

I don't know that I will always handle every battle the right way.

But I do know that in situations that arise in our lives, our confidence remains in Jesus Christ.  My prayer, much like MLK Jr.'s was, is that my daughter will be judged and judge others by the content of their character, NOT the color of their skin. And that her marriage, someday, will be a glimpse and example to those around her, of the love of Christ for the Church.

I pray that society continues to work towards acceptance and stops allowing the enemy to use us as tools of rejection and separation against one another.

And I pray that, even if society isn't perfect in our lifetimes. Even if we have to walk through many of the trials that I so desperately want to shield her from? That even if there are cultural and societal dysfunctions that attempt to tear down and destroy our family and more specifically my children? 

That my daughter's Identity is never shaken. 

Because it never belonged to this world to begin with.

This is one of my favorite songs by Israel. When I hear it, I am immediately taken back to our trip to the Congo in 2007. We did this song with their worship team incorporating English and French. It was one of my favorite moments. I could feel God smiling down on us as we were in total unity!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do You Remember Where You Were 'That Day'?

(Originally posted September 11, 2010)

I do.

I had a 7am P.E. class, so I had gone to class, gotten out early, and had run back to the dorm room to commence sleeping. I had just fallen back asleep.

I remember waking up to my phone ringing.

I remember hearing The Husband--then "The Boyfriend" tell me to turn on the t.v.

I remember turning it on just in time to see the second tower get hit. My roommate came running into the room and just sat down at the end of my bed.

At that exact moment, it might have been an accident. But a few minutes later, there was word about the 3rd plane. We didn't say anything. We didn't move. We just sat there.

Everything we had forsaken?

Everything we had grown up taking for granted?

Was being attacked.

Our freedoms. Our safety. Our country.

A few years ago, I was babysitting hanging out with my friend's  two girls. "T" was probably about 7...maybe 8. We had watched Hairspray that night, and I remember my heart being filled with joy to see the confusion on her face as we watched it.

"Why were they being so mean to those black people?" she asked.

"We didn't do a lot of things right back then. But we are working on doing things right, now." I replied, cautious not to put myself in a corner where the historical responses might confuse her more.

"Well, I think they should have let them dance...They were the better dancers, anyways" She responded, confident that if SHE had been in charge, things would have been different.

I smiled, "Yes. Yes, they were"

"Hey Ashley...You know what we learned in school the other day?" She came back quickly, unbeknownst to me--quite finished with our previous topic.

"What's that?" I responded, sure that somehow they were teaching about the Civil Rights era in 2nd grade now...

"We learned about these people who flew planes into these big buildings in New York. And now? Those buildings are gone, and a lot of people died that day"

My heart stopped. Sitting there with T?   Was the first moment I realized that there would be a whole generation who would be asking US about "that day". The significance of "that day" in history was concrete. And for T..who was just an infant on 9/ was as far removed as Pearl Harbor. Or World War II. Or, even, the Revolutionary War.

"You know, T...I remember "that day"" I said, feeling a little melancholy, my soul always carrying a piece of "that day" with me.

"You were ALIVE when that happened??" Her eyes big and curious.

And so I told her all about what I remembered.

How the country banded together to protect our freedom. How none of us really knew what that had rmeant before. How at that moment... regardless of political positions or intellectual disagreements? We were all, simply, Americans.

I told her about the lines at gas stations being miles long, because people were afraid of gas shortages. How planes couldn't fly for weeks afterward...anywhere. How nobody really knew what the next day would look like, or the next week. or month. or year. But that I had trusted in God and had faith that He loved us.

We talked about how I didn't actually know anyone in the towers, but that one of my professors had a son-in-law who worked there. And had been at a meeting across town when it happened. He was one of the lucky ones.

I told her we were scared. America had never been attacked like this, at least not in my lifetime...and quickly, I realized that THIS was how Americans probably felt when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The immensity of knowing that you were alive during something as significant as that? is profound. I tried my best to explain everything I could...knowing that some things? some feelings? just couldn't be explained.

I didn't mention the picture I have in my head of people jumping out of the windows.Or the piles of bodies being pulled from the wreckage. I didn't tell her that we were always worried we would be attacked again. Even trying to proactively determine what the risk of our part of the country getting attacked would be (low, we decided). I didn't tell her that I didn't really cry. I couldn't. really. cry. It was an an emotion I had never really felt...

I did tell her how proud I was--and am--to be an American though. How the resilience of Americans after 9/11 only confirmed how blessed I had felt to be born in such a country. How, even when I don't agree with the politics, the religious disputes, the hatred, that Americans can possess....I have never wished I'd been born anywhere else.

That I have always said the Pledge of Allegiance with pride and sang Star Spangled Banner as beautifully as possible.

How, even in the worst of times, we were the greatest nation. And instead of wishing to be somewhere else, when we disagree with things, we should work to change them and make them better.

"Like the people in Hairspray did?" She asked.

"Yep. Just like that".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.   Psalm 7:17

I find that I can typically find something to be thankful for everyday...but it's nice every now and then to force myself to really examine my life and see where I can truly be thankful to God each day.

And today:

1. I am thankful that --thanks to Lil' Tank visiting us-- I caught my Whooping Cough pretty early. This bacterial sickness can get pretty nasty and, while mine hasn't been a walk in the park, I know I am blessed to have such a minor case.

I am usually slow to head to the Dr. but with a kiddo around, I wanted to get this nipped in the bud. In a normal situation, it would have gotten much worse before I made an appt!

2. I am thankful that the weather is cooling off and reminding us that Fall is right around the corner....September is one of my favorite months for a couple of reasons:
                            * College Football
                            * Less humidity (yay for frizzy-less hair!)
                            * Cooler temeratures
                            * Open-windows
                            * Long walks
                            * Outdoor grilling
                            * The changing of the colors

I know each season has something to love and be grateful for but March and September are by far my favorite months of the year and I am especially thankful when these months appear

Lil' Tank and I made a Fall wreath to celebrate the season!

3.  That my friend Randee (and her husband Trace, of course) are going to be able to attend Empowered to Connect with us! I love being able to share adoption with such great people!

P.S. She just wrote a great post about their journey waiting so far. I highly recommend you check it out!

4.  The African Fellowship gathering The Husband and I are attending Friday at church. It makes me giddy and nervous just thinking about it!! I am super excited!  I pray this is a connection that stays close in our lives as we bring Cupcake home and  and that it eases her brave transition into this new world!

5.  Old friends. I rarely get to spend much time with friends when we travel to our childhood home...but even a few minutes here and there is nice and I am thankful that they make time for us and love us and are cheering us on in this roller-coaster journey of international adoption!

6. Natural hair care websites...I know, I know...I've already said it..but Seriously.  Knowing that my daughter deserves the very best and knowing that I want to be the one meeting those needs can make a gal quite nervous when it comes to hair styles.

But after a month (ahem, 4 weeks and 3 days) of searching online, perusing blogs and websites, watching youtube videos, reading posts. and learning, learning, learning...I am far more confident today than I have been so far. Bring on the cornrows and double-stranded twists!! =)

7. I am also excited about making my practice board this weekend. I still really want an mannequin head (anyone out there have any connections?) but the ones online are TOO expensive for my blood...So yarn it is, for now =)

8.  Crockpot Girls. I know it's going to be hard for some of ya'll to believe...but I? Am crock-pot illiterate. Besides the usual beef stew and queso, I just have No. Idea. what to use my crockpot for. Now, don't get me wrong...I don't aspire to be as cool as they are. It's just nice to see some easy "throw it all in" recipes that make life easier =)

9.  Pinterest. Enough said.

10.  The prayers going up on behalf of our sweet girl and our process to bring her home. We are grateful for the support and prayers of so many people. We don't deserve it, we know that. And we are constantly thankful  and humbled that God would bless us with so many wonderful people anyways!

Now, what are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just a few things on my mind..

I love having been a blogger long enough to peruse old posts and see what I was thinking one (or even sometimes two) year(s) ago.

I was thinking THIS last year.

I still believe all those things are true.

And that's that.

The End.

I joke, I joke.

I DO still believe all those things, but I have So. Much. More to tell you.

Like, for instance, did you know that some of your vaccinations wear off when you get old wiser and more beautiful?

Example: I have whooping cough.Which, ironically, I thought was some irradicated disease that I only knew about because of Anne of Green Gables some science class I must have taken at some point in my educational years.

But, nope. It's for real. An awful, brutal, bacteria that causes me to periodically  cough, gasp, turn purple, and almost puke...nevermind. And then I am fine. Which makes people think I am somehow faking.

I wish I had thought to fake this.

Then maybe someone would have brought me a cupcake from Here to drown my faker-faker-onion-raker sorrows in.

But I didn't. And the real stuff is not fun or indulgent at all.

And STILL no one has brought me any cupcakes to drown my coughing, gasping, purple sorrows in.
In other irrelevent news:

I am working on Cupcake's comforter. I really can't wait to show ya'll what I am envisioning (assuming what I envison turns out to be less than a disaster). I thought it would be done by now however with Lil' Tank hanging out with us for a few weeks, my sewing, crafting, self-indulgent time has greatly decreased.

But in an effort to tease you with my vision, I will say...It required no-fray, pre-cut chiffon (which I did NOT even know they made Praise the Lord) and a new ruffler attachment for my machine (I am the envy of all who least those without said-ruffler attachment).

I thought the new attachment was a good investment since I see zebra-print pettiskirts in my future and a ruffler would greatly decrease my time spent doing these things.

So maybe I can look for more inspiration for Cupcake's room on Pinterestwatch mindless hours of netflix  cook, or clean, or do laundry occasionally. (See Honey? Win-win).

So aside from the new--see above: "wiser and more beautiful"--allergies, the aforementioned whooping cough, and the extra-busy 5-year old schedule, we are just thanking the Lord for our sweet girl and praying fervently for quick process and her protected heart as we wait to hear when we will be making our way those 8,000 miles to kiss her sweet cheeks.

It's been 4 weeks and 2 days.

In case you were wondering =)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I'm sure it's a real thing and that I should be linking up with some big blogging Thankful Thursday community.

But I'm not.

I am just one small person, recognizing that in the midst of chaos? We must choose thankfulness.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" I Thess. 5:18

So here is what I am thankful for today:

Pictures of my Sweet Girl

Pre-cut chiffon (and in animal print, nonetheless!)

Christmas decorations

No, I am not with the crowd that thinks we start decorating stores for Christmas too early. I rejoice at the first whiff of cinammon and the first glimmer of pre-lit trees. I wait for-- nay LONG for--Christmas all year long!

The Power of PrayerEven though God has never foresaken my prayers, I still stand in amazement when He responds to them

Referrals. After a  long long LONG 8 months with NO (nada, zero, zilch) movement, 5 --FIVE--  families saw their sweet new childrens faces in August. Praise the Lord!

Steve Martin's bluegrass concert. Two favorite parts are Here and Here (I'm sorry. Athiest Ain't Got No Songs is Just. Funny. Stuff.)

Cherry Coke Zero. Seriously, how long has this existed and me not known about it?!?!?!

All Things Girly (Pettiskirt tutorials, cupcake fabric, canopies, flower hair accessories, dolls,  pink, etc...).

We were so CERTAIN that we would be referred a 4 year old boy...we had never specified a desire for anything of the sort but with the natural progression of things, it just seemed so obvious to us.

But I am SO thankful to God for surprising me with our Sweet Girl. I had no idea how much I would love getting our world ready for her =)  

The Husband is also jumping on the All Things Girly bandwagon... recently I found BOTH The Princess and the Frog AND Tangled on our Netflix list. Wonder how those got there????? =)

*  The Joy of trying to explain to my almost-five-year old nephew that it was "okay" for me to turn Right on Red.


Oh my, child.

That, after taking the above-mentioned nephew to Church last night, he proceeded to tell his mom that we took him to the Jesus Music Place.

You know? The place where you sing songs to Jesus.

*Insert big goofy grin here*

The Power of Prayer.  I know I already said this one. But it deserves an encore. I really am eternally grateful that the King of the Universe hears the cries of my heart and responds quickly in power and might.

What about you?

What are you thankful for today?