Battle Formation

Life for me right now is in a state of flux.

I don’t know if it’s that I’m approaching 40 and kind of going through a mid-life rethinking. I’m not in crisis. But I’m just rethinking what I’ve done and where I’m going. Where I want to go. What I want to do. What I want to be in this next stage of my life.

In my spirit, I feel change. There’s a stirring of something different coming, but with it there’s been a constant and equally powerful command to just wait. Wait.

I find myself in a new state, new home, new church, and surrounded by new people.

I’m not in the classroom teaching anymore; I miss it at times, but on the days I sub, I’m not sure that’s a good fit for me anymore. I’m staying home now and doing a bit of online contract work that doesn’t ignite much passion in me, but it’s a bit of money and some sense of accomplishment.

I’ve got a trillion ideas about what I could do. I could write. I could go back to school and get my masters in something a little different. I could teach. I could open my own business and sell refurbished furniture or cute clothes or a mix of it all. I could go back to school and do something completely different. I have a million ideas, but none of them sink into my soul and say, that’s it, go for it.

I haven’t even found my “sweet spot” to serve in our church. I help greet new families on Sunday mornings and enjoy it, but it doesn’t feel like it’s IT. I want more. I’ve prayed about it, but God hasn’t opened any opportunities yet.

I know God has something different coming in my life that I feel is just going to be really a big step away from my past and current normal, but I’m clueless as to what it is.

I’m trying to find my place and my fit. I desperately want God to use me. If He’d just say the word, I would do IMMEDIATELY what He wants me to do. I have no qualms about obeying Him; whatever it is He tells me, I’m in. But the wait part about drives me crazy.

On some days, I feel like a racehorse, ready to go. I’m ready to plunge ahead and sprint towards whatever it is the Lord is calling me to do, but I’m stuck behind the gate waiting for the gun to give me permission to get a jump on my calling.

On other days, I feel like a tree being stripped of every branch, leaf, and comforting part of me. All I knew is gone, and I feel like a measly, barren trunk in the midst of a forest of towering evergreens.

Yesterday I sat in a Bible study that touched on this very topic. Our leader, Mollie Duddleston said, “God doesn’t want us to move ahead of where we have the maturity to be.”

So challenging. In a way, it’s humbling to think I’m lacking in something that God is waiting to be developed in me so that the gates can be opened and my branches and leaves can flourish again. Satan uses that at times to tell me I’ve messed up so badly that God can’t use me or that I’m not worthy of serving.

By being almost 40, I’m familiar with Satan’s stupid methods of attack. Thankfully he’s not very creative and just keeps recycling the same old garbage. And yet, on some days, it’s hard to combat him. Gratefully, God is always waiting with his Word to use as ammunition.

In my 20’s and 30’s, I thought I had this thing pretty well figured out. I had learned to adjust to the waves and storms that came my way for the most part, and I knew where I was going. What I was doing. Who I wanted to be.

Of course, also at the almost age of 40, I know now that I know a lot less than I knew in my 20’s and early 30’s. I’ve heard many other women say the same. It’s a  good thing.

Now, at this stage of life, the fact that God may be waiting on me to learn or discover something is not as big of a shock. I really know nothing. It’s easy to be an expert on parenting with a few little ones. It’s easy to be an expert on marriage without many tough storms to weather. It’s easy to feel like I’m in the more “seasoned” stage of my life without hitting many rough seasons. I can now deal with the fact that I need to learn more because I’ve accepted that I really know nothing.

But it’s just hard to wait. I’m ready. I don’t like waiting.

Today, part of my chronological study covered Exodus 13. I’ve said before I always learn so much from the Israelites. And I love reading about them because they were in flux too.

They were in the process of escaping Egypt. The unknown was before them. A tough life of misery, slavery, and thankless work was behind them, along with the Egyptians and Pharaoh chasing them down.

Exodus 13:17-18 says, “God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, ‘The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.’ So he led the people around toward the Red Sea along the road of the wilderness. And the Israelites left the land of Egypt in battle formation.”

Did you see that? They left in battle formation. They expected a fight. Their hands probably rested on their weapons while their ears stayed alert to every little sound and their eyes scanned their surroundings for sounds of trouble. I’m sure their hearts were pounding waiting for whatever attack might come. They were ready.

But, God knew they couldn’t handle a battle. He knew they weren’t ready. They didn’t have the maturity to face what they thought they were ready for.

Is anyone with me? As our table discussed, several women felt the same. Where am I going? What are You doing with me God? What is Your calling on my life at this time, aside from the responsibilities You’ve already given me? Can You do more with me? Will You?

All we can do is wait, be patient, and know that God is moving. As for me, I’m going to be in battle formation, ready to use the skills God has given me for His glory while keeping my eyes, ears, and heart alert to what He wants to teach me. Praying you’re able to do the same.

Use Your Words

“Use your words.”

This is a sentence Jason and I repeat frequently in our house, especially with our twin four-year-old girls. I don’t know if it was some glitch in our adoption transition or just a quirk in their personalities, but they have always struggled with asking for what they want.

In their orphanage, the doting nannies often didn’t say no. Many of the “mamas” had been orphans themselves, so they did everything they could to keep their little charges happy. That was great then, but the world sure came crashing down when the girls came home. It took only a few “No’s” and a bit of discipline to send their minds spinning. Hearing a “No”, even if it was necessary to keep them safe, twisted something in their little psyches that kept them from asking for anything. And so it began.

On some mornings, they will be ready to eat breakfast and watch cartoons, but instead of asking, they will stand awkwardly near us and wait for us to say, “Hey, do you want to eat breakfast and watch Mickey Mouse?”

Sometimes we do jump in and rescue them, offering the words we can tell they want to say, but in the long run this doesn’t help them. We realized pretty quickly this “rescuing” didn’t train them to use their words more frequently but only affirmed their choice to stay silent. So we often repeat to the girls, “Use your words. ASK for what you want. Mommy and Daddy LOVE to help you!”

You better believe that when they do ask, we jump to praise them and lavish upon them whatever they are requesting. One night this week, our older three kids asked to have some Halloween candy for dessert, but the little girls just stood there awkwardly, staring at everyone else eating candy. Sadly, we sent them to bed without any treats. However, the next night they did ask for candy, and we not only gave them candy but also lots of praise and marbles in their reward jars! “Great job using your words!”

You may think this seems a little strange. Why not just give them the candy or offer them breakfast? It’s not that we’re teaching strict manners or have some power trip going on. We want them to be comfortable coming to us with their needs. We want their hearts to trust us to both provide the basics and give generously. It’s a relationship issue. We desperately want that glitch in their little psyche to be healed.

This morning, I noticed Lyla was sad after I told them to go to their room to play for a bit while I was finishing my quiet time. They usually prance off happily to pull out their Barbies and dress up clothes. I called her to me and asked why she was sad. In a quavering voice she said, “Because I want to go outside and play.”

“But Lyla, you never asked me to go outside and play. How can I know that you want to play outside if you don’t ask? You’re crying about not being able to do something that you never even asked me to do. If you had asked, I would have said yes!” I wiped her tears, sent them outside anyway, and turned back to my quiet time.

Oh yeah. God is trying to teach me the same thing.

There have been lots of times that I have gotten a “No” from God. Maybe my request wasn’t the right timing. Maybe a “No” was needed to keep me safe. Maybe His “No” was just because this world is fallen, and if I had a perfect little life here on Earth, I would never long for heaven. No matter God’s reasoning, some of those “No”s from God wounded my heart.

There have been seasons that I have struggled with whether I’m good enough for God to bless or if I’m even on His radar. On some days, I feel like my little girls, standing in the kitchen while watching my older siblings gobble up yummy treats, knowing it’s useless to ask because He probably won’t give me anything anyway. Maybe He’d rather just hand out treats to my more deserving siblings instead of me.

I realize that I have let Satan train parts of my psyche. I bemoan the trials in my life before I even ask God for help. I get down about the down payment that’s due for braces or the strained relationship with a family member. Instead of taking those heart hurts to God, I just sit and feel sorry for myself.

And yet, I have a heavenly Father that is just WAITING for me to ask Him. He wants me to come to Him with my heart’s desires. If He simply jumped in and gave me what He knows I want each time, I wouldn’t ever have to come to Him and ask. We wouldn’t have a relationship built upon my faith in Him. My heart wouldn’t be filled with gratitude for His blessings. And God wants to receive glory when He answers our prayers! If we never voice them, would He be glorified?

Gently, God brings to mind the many other times that I have asked for something, and God has poured out his provision and mercy. He reminds me of the times He answered before I even asked. He prompts me to then bring this current request to Him, to trust Him wholly with my heart, and to thank Him in advance for how He’ll answer it. I know this is true because His word tells me so:

Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

John 16:24 “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.”

God is after our hearts. He wants a relationship with us. We have to pray SPECIFICALLY for the burdens getting tossed around in those worrisome minds of ours. God is waiting for us to “use our words” so He can pour blessings on us. I’m so grateful He is a loving, patient Father who takes the time to shape my heart. May I be the same kind of mother.

Join the Movement

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Isaiah 43:18-21

Since my last blog post, God has continued to work on my heart. He is gently and lovingly showing me my selfishness and my easy tendency to be so self-centered. He is so kind and patient with me. Oh, I am grateful.

Things still aren’t easy since moving. Genuine friendships don’t come quickly or easily, and I miss the people we “do life” with at home. Doing life with them was a lot easier when it wasn’t via text message. And working our way into a new church, new school, new community, new teams, etc is NEVER easy. I’ve definitely had my fill of awkwardness these past few months. :)

I’ve had some moments of self-pity. I’ve had lots of prayer time asking God what in the world He’s doing. Why in the WORLD would you have me to live in ARKANSAS??!! So random!

However, I’ve reached a point of having peace/contentedness. I’m not necessarily filled to the brim happy, but I’m not unhappy either. God has pressed many verses upon my heart these last few months, but Isaiah 43:18-21 (above) is a repeated one. It’s a verse I’ve heard and read a million times, but it’s so fresh again right now. God has said to me, “Hey, yeah, it’s different. It’s new! But can’t you see that I’m doing it? Can’t you sense it springing up? I’m giving you water in the desert and streams in your wasteland – can’t you see? I formed you to praise me; now can you see what I’m doing? Be grateful!” For a while, my answer has been nope, don’t see it God. I trust you implicitly, but I do NOT see what you’re doing!

Yesterday our pastor preached one of the most challenging sermons I’ve heard in a while. I’ve heard him speak of the need for another Great Awakening in our country several times, but yesterday was the first time I really got it. God really showed me that it could really happen! Through the united prayers of His people, a Great Awakening is really possible. How exciting would that be to witness?

I know God is moving because just in the last 24 hours, I’ve seen two other blog posts come across my FB feed of people realizing that God is calling them to prayer in regards to all that is occurring in our world: Candace’s post here and Jamie’s post here. A movement of God is at hand. I think He is pressing on us to pray dilligently and to turn to Him in expectation of HIM to move.

Some of the personal highlights for me from our pastor’s sermon yesterday:

I’d strongly encourage you to take a moment and watch Pastor Floyd’s sermon here entitled “Lord, Do It Again”. (As of this morning, it’s not up yet, but it should be soon.)

For me, I realized that I’m all in. I have wasted a lot of time looking at how I feel and what I want and whether I’m happy or content or whatever. The thing God said to me yesterday was, “WHO CARES??!!!” I realized there is so much Kingdom work that needs to be done! And that’s what I really want more than ANYTHING! I want to do God’s work and be used by Him. I want to be a tool that God can count on! Taylor wrote something similar this week!

And why do I think I’m exempt from the command to pray? Why do I think I’m exempt from evangelizing? I have wasted a lot of time passively just waiting for Jesus’s return to “fix” everything. I watch the news and think, Oh Jesus, come back now. Please just come on back. I complain that this world and our country is in a mess, but how much do I DO?? I have been convicted like crazy this week about my lack of action and my passive disbelief that anything can be done. But, the world being in a mess isn’t a new thing. Check the Bible and some history books out!

Our pastor has issued a call for prayer on his blog. His call is for us to pray fervently for another Great Awakening. And let us not just pray for a bit, but pray fervently until we see results! Let’s pray that God MOVES in our country, our cities, our churches, and our families!! Let’s JOIN THE MOVEMENT!!!

And let me add that yes, my pastor is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Yes, I’m a part of the SBC. I recognize that the SBC gets a bad rep sometimes. It’s not seen as very “cool” sometimes, and goodness, with some of the things I’ve seen from some Southern Baptists, I get the lack of appeal at times. But, just as I don’t judge all other denominations by the few that make sound bytes on the news, don’t judge all of us Southern Baptists by a few. I’ve learned a lot about our convention lately, and there’s a lot to be proud of. For one, our convention has people on the ground in Iraq that are giving aid in the ISIS crisis with ways to help. The SBC also has a division that does some amazing work: The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. And those are just two divisions of the SBC. Yes, our convention isn’t perfect, but neither are any people or churches or denominations.

This call to prayer isn’t about a denomination. It’s about Christians everywhere pleading for the Lord to move. So like the SBC or not, joining fellow Christians in prayer is important and at this point our only hope. Let’s do it and see God move!

I Am A Sorry Israelite

If anyone in the Bible can make me feel better about myself, it’s the Israelites. I look back on them and easily judge their lack of faith, their bad attitude, and the awful way they constantly whined to Moses. I mean, God rescued them from SLAVERY. They saw the many plagues of frogs and flies, skin boils, and even death that God sent upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Yet, they were protected from every plague! Then the Israelites saw the RED SEA PARTED! They walked through it on dry land, and then all the Egyptian army, horses, and chariots got swallowed up! The Israelites had fire to lead them in the desert, and food fell from heaven. Not to mention seeing the actual 10 commandments that were carved by God… And yet, they still whined!

Stephen was preaching to the religious leaders in Acts, right before they stoned him. He described the Israelites in Acts 7:39, “But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.”

I love Matthew Henry’s commentaries. I learn a lot through him. He says about this verse (bold emphasis = mine):

They murmured at him, mutinied against him, refused to obey his orders, and sometimes were ready to stone him. Moses did indeed give them an excellent law, but by this it appeared that “it could not make the comers there unto perfect (Heb. 10:1), for in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt”, and preferred their garlic and onions there before the manna they had under the guidance of Moses, or the milk and honey they hoped for in Canaan. Observe, Their secret disaffection to Moses, with their inclination to Egyptianism, if I may so call it. This was, in effect, turning back to Egypt; it was doing it in heart. Many that pretend to be going forward towards Canaan, by keeping up a show and profession of religion, are, at the same time, in their hearts turning back to Egypt, like Lot’s wife to Sodom, and will be dealt with as deserters, for it is the heart that God looks at.

If you really think about it, the Israelites were being obedient. They left Egypt! They were wandering in the desert. They were where God told them to be, doing what God told them to do. Sure they messed up here and there and lost their tempers/focus/willpower at times. But they were still moving towards this promised land. They were wandering for FORTY YEARS in the desert. I think I’d get impatient and a bit dissatisfied too. They were still obeying the big picture though.

Except for their hearts. Their hearts were turned back towards Egypt. Because this wandering in the desert thing was tough. At least in Egypt they had a settled home, life, and routine. But this temporary housing, never-changing food, and constant wandering wasn’t fun.

In a way, they could be commended. In spite of their hearts and struggles, they were still doing what God told them to do – go to Canaan.

But it wasn’t enough.

God doesn’t just want our obedience. He doesn’t want us to just follow what He tells us to do. Following “the law” alone isn’t going to cut it.

1 Samuel 15:22-23 tells the people not to get so hung up on following the law (giving sacrifices to atone for sin), but to be passionate about obeying the voice of the Lord.

God is clear that obedience isn’t simply about our actions. So many times God reminds us to obey with our hearts. LOVE God, LOVE His laws, serve Him with our HEARTS. (just a few: Deut 11:1, Deut 11:13-15, Deut 11:22-24, Ps 119:165-167)

But how do you MAKE your heart have a good attitude? The Israelites weren’t omniscient. They didn’t know the “good” that was to come in Canaan, and their disobedience would actually get them in trouble there too. If you could sit down with a group of Israelites – let’s say around year 20 of wandering in the desert – what would you tell them? “Hang in there, you’re halfway through!”, “Hey, if you have a good attitude and just change your heart, God will give you peace and joy.” How do you MAKE yourself have a good attitude in spite of the circumstances and all that you see?

I think about my kids when I think about obeying with a good attitude. Maybe because they always exemplify this. I talk about obeying with a good attitude about 978,687,342 times a day. I am MAKING my daughter learn her multiplication tables this summer. She should know them by now; she’s headed into 6th grade. She knows most of them, but not all of them. She can get them within a few seconds and some counting, but not knowing them instantly slows down her work when it comes to long division or fractions. It will be better for her in the long run to know all of her math facts instantly. So we are practicing this summer. And while we’re at it, I’m having my going into 3rd grader work on them too.

As a teacher, parent, and someone who has gone beyond 5th grade math, I know it’s what’s best for them. But they doesn’t know or see that. They only see having to do math homework in the summer. But I expect them to have a good attitude while they are working on them. When I tell them to go to work on their math facts, I expect them not to huff, puff, and roll their eyes. I expect them to say “yes m’am” and go do it. And they better work hard at it while they’re doing it – which they do for the most part.

But where do they have the motivation for a good attitude? What makes them have a good attitude about learning math facts in the summer instead of swimming?

Trust. 1) They see me as an “expert” of sorts; they trust that I know what I’m talking about. They trust that as a parent (and a teacher), when I tell them they need to learn something, it is probably true. 2) They know that I love them; they can trust me because they know I want what’s best for them. 3) They remember times that I’ve been right in the past; they can trust me now.

But still, they are kids. And we’re talking about learning math facts. During summer. So sometimes their sinful natures win over, and attitudes come out.

The same is true for the Israelites. Except they had more sinful nature than trust. Their hearts were turned towards Egypt. They wanted what they knew instead of what God was promising them.

And that’s a daily battle for me sometimes too. I can look around, count my blessings, see all the miracles God has done, but I also see the struggles I’m sitting in. And if I can’t see past the struggles, sometimes my sinful nature wins out, and my heart starts to yearn for the easier path vs the wandering.

We’ve just moved to a new state for Jason’s job. We KNOW God has called us here. But it’s hard. It’s hard to miss family, friends, and what I KNOW. It’s hard to miss the familiar. It’s hard to constantly have to put yourself out there. I say that my new theme song is a twist on the Lego movie: “Everything Is Awkward!” I sing that to myself sometimes. :)

And it’s really hard to watch your kids struggle with all those things. Crazy hard.

So I’ve caught myself lately with a bit of a bad attitude. I’m here God! I’m obeying! I’m doing what you said, God! But I am NOT going to like it.

My heart lately is a bit more turned towards Egypt/Nashville. I simmer and yearn for a place where God has not called us. I long for the easy instead of the wandering. It turns out I’m just like the Israelites.

Matthew Henry says it well towards the end of this section:

Many that pretend to be going forward towards Canaan, by keeping up a show and profession of religion, are, at the same time, in their hearts turning back to Egypt, like Lot’s wife to Sodom, and will be dealt with as deserters, for it is the heart that God looks at. Now, if the customs that Moses delivered to them could not prevail to change them, wonder not that Christ comes to change the customs, and to introduce a more spiritual way of worship.

I deserve to still be treated as a deserter. But praise God that Christ came to change the customs. I’m so grateful for a relationship with Jesus so that I can trust Him. When I’m struggling, I can remind myself that 1) He’s an expert and knows all that is to come (and His expertise is not limited to 6th grade math), 2) He loves me and has a great plan for me, and 3) He’s been right a lot in the past – ok, all the times in the past – so I can trust Him to be right this time too.

And as an understanding parent, sometimes I have to get stern when my kids have a bad attitude, but I try to do so with grace because I also get it. I remember being made to learn math facts in the summer myself… Gratefully, God is the perfect parent. He has so much grace for you and I. And Jesus does remember what it was like to endure tough circumstances on Earth.

Aren’t we all Israelites at heart? What are you struggling with? I’d be happy to pray for you!



Long Time, No See

I have been praying for a LONG. TIME. about how to write this post. I’ve started it several times. I’ve written and re-written pieces of it in my head a million times.

I never started this blog to be an acclaimed “mommy blogger”. I started this blog years ago, pre-adoption, just to get my thoughts out there. I’m a thinker, a processor. I had things to say and talk about and share. I love to write. I wrote for me. I wrote the posts that I felt like God pressed upon my heart and wanted me to share.

When I started blogging our adoption story, I had the added conviction to write the things that others wouldn’t say. The questions that I had googled but couldn’t find. I would not add to the people who romanticized and glamorized adoption. I promised to be real and transparent. And I was – until it got too “real” to write.

The two years following us bringing home our girls was painfully difficult. It was the darkest period in my life – ever. I wrote some at first. But I then began to feel like anything I would have written in the moment would have been too harsh, and I definitely wasn’t in the emotional place to put any kind of filter on my feelings.

I also knew that what I would have written in the moment would have seemed to have put the reasons for that time period being challenging on the girls. It would seem that I was blaming the girls for being difficult. However, the girls weren’t hard. Adopting WAS hard. Adopting two kids at once with two different sets of adoption and attachment issues was hard. Adopting “twins” that were probably more opposite in disposition than any two random babies on the planet and figuring out how to parent them both at the same time was hard. But it wasn’t the girls themselves that were hard. They were babies.

In reality, the struggle really wasn’t about adoption or the girls at all. The struggle, the hard – it was all about my relationship with God. God allowed a tough, tough season in my life so that I could climb out of some spiritual pitfalls that I had gotten stuck in long ago.

The girls and the adoption process were simply beautiful tools to illuminate both the horrific and magnificent sides of myself; more importantly, God forced me to take a glimpse of myself from His perspective.

While it’d be way too long of a post, even for me, to share all that transpired in my heart during the past almost three years, I’ll try to give you the low-lights.

  • When we came home, I struggled with some PADS – Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome – although I didn’t recognize it at first because it didn’t match what I had been told to look for. My understanding of PADS was that it occurred because of being so excited and having so much to do during the adoption process, coming home, and then realizing the excitement and busy-ness is over. But I didn’t struggle with that. I wasn’t sad the busy-ness was over – we still had plenty of busy.And it wasn’t that I expected this over the moon, perfectly blissful honeymoon adoption story; I expected hard, and it was hard.I mainly struggled because the adoption process in and of itself was hard – the paperwork, the waiting, the unique changes that the Ethiopia program as a whole went through during our process. All of that was draining. I think I was drained by the time we got home – emotionally and spiritually. I was at the beginning point when we got home – the REAL beginning of the work of parenting – and my resources were drained. It was dark for a long time. And Satan had a lot of ammunition in his arsenal – including daggers from some of the people we loved the most. Fresh attacks, a tough parenting season, plus being already battle-weary was a surefire formula for a downward spiral.

    In this, God taught me to reach out to friends and professionals when I struggle. We found a great adoption therapist. I also had to be brutally honest with a few friends and a mentor couple – it was incredibly hard to tell someone else how ugly it was. But, God turns darkness into light. Exposing the “dark side” of ourselves to someone we trust is the very thing needed to get rid of the darkness. Because once it’s out there, it’s not so dark or so scary. And, in reality, it’s not something that only I struggled with. In my darkness, I was convinced I was crazy. In the light, I realized I was one of a trillion people who struggle with these feelings – adoption process or not. Satan wants us to keep all that stuff quiet, but that’s the worst thing we can do. God gives us relationships and each other for a reason. When we step out and reveal our deepest and darkest thoughts and worries, we are often met with a “Oh, you feel that way? Me too!” or “Oh, yeah. I’ve been there before too. Here’s what I learned…”

  • There were some parenting principles that I had committed to, some of them even as a child. There were things that I swore to myself I would NEVER do (e.g. – discipline in anger, say “no” without reason, require my kids to make their beds perfectly each day) and others I would ALWAYS do (e.g. – apologize when I messed up as a mom, connect with each kid each day, take time to play and be spontaneous). I had stuck to those ideals for the most part throughout my parenting thus far. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I felt like I was, for the most part, the kind of mom I had always wanted to be.And then, I wasn’t. I was far from the kind of mom I wanted to be. I lost my temper, lost my self-control, and lost my focus. With every failure, I beat myself up more, which led to more failures, which led to more self-degradation.Through a long process, God taught me that I WAS ENOUGH. God taught me that He CHOSE me, with my faults and my imperfections, to be the perfect mom for MY kids. Shocker, I couldn’t stick to my perfect list of parenting ideals. Instead, the list of parenting ideals that I created to make me better and to avoid my list of pitfalls, were in fact the ideals that crushed me.

    And, my hardest lesson, I had to learn that God saw me as perfect and loved me insanely so, even if I never did anything to earn His love or was the worst mother/wife in the world. I was pretty sure I was. Knowing God loved me in my head was very different from owning that He loved me in my heart. That took a long, long time for me to even partially grasp, and it’s a concept that I will probably always struggle with. But, He LOVES me and He CHOSE me, and He did so knowing all that I would mess up.

  • I couldn’t handle God’s silence and refusal to deliver me. I prayed and prayed, and God was SILENT. He wasn’t delivering, and He wasn’t helping. And He sure wasn’t talking – not even a whisper or a wisp of a smidgen of peace. I was getting NOTHING from Him in the midst of my biggest crisis.

    I assumed that God was waiting for me to “get” some concept or realize some lesson or quit some huge sin before He would talk to me. That had to be why He was silent. So I sought to figure out what it was. Instead of one quiet time, I did two. When that didn’t work, it was obvious that I needed to memorize more scripture. No change? Ok, I needed to pray more. I made exhaustive lists and prayed harder and longer. I did word studies in the Bible of the traits I needed to adopt – all the fruits of the Spirit for sure. And still, nothing. I was exhausted and at the end of my rope with God.In this I learned that it wasn’t my job to do more in order to get God’s attention. It was my job to be still. It’s GOD’S JOB TO PURSUE ME. Wow, mind-blowing. A principle I knew in my head, but in practice, it was tough!A wise woman, who I will ever be grateful for, told me to stop. Stop praying. Stop doing the quiet times. Stop trying to memorize more scripture. Stop. Just sit and wait….. WHAT?

    And then I got it.  In essence I was trying to “earn” God’s favor and love. I had never in my life sat and waited for God to pursue me. But I did. I stopped and was still. And He did come. And then I read my Bible and prayed and meditated on Scripture because I wanted to just sit and marinate in the love He had shown me. Not because I thought I HAD to in order to get God’s attention.

    In this, I learned that our relationship with God really is a love story. One far more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Those would kind of be the top three “big” specific things I learned through this season.

But I think the overarching lesson is that our struggles on this Earth have only ONE PURPOSE – to bring us closer to the Lord. God is a compassionate, loving God. He hurts when we hurt. Jesus experienced life as a human on this Earth, and I firmly believe He really empathizes with us when we face struggles here.

But on the other hand, God knows that it doesn’t really matter. To us, struggles like losing a parent or a child, facing a financial crisis, enduring a horrible disease like cancer, or going through a dark season of life seem HORRIBLE. And they are here on Earth. But God knows they don’t REALLY matter. What He’s after are our hearts. Everyone will face affliction of one kind of another. And at times whatever we’re facing can seem capable of swallowing us whole.

What matters is not our specific affliction or our battle wounds in the midst of the struggle – although this is often where we direct our focus. What matters is what we do with the struggle and how we choose to handle it. God gives us affliction in order to give us an opportunity to glorify Himself. Because when we give glory to God through our struggles, other people can learn from that. Other people can see us leaning on Christ through our afflictions and can be encouraged to begin their own relationship with the Lord and to turn to Him when nothing else works. I don’t know how people make it through life without a relationship with the Lord. I’m grateful for my relationship with Him, in spite of my constant failings.


The Trip Beyond Your Wildest Dreams…

Seven Months. Wow. We’ve been home – with the girls – for a full seven months today – ok yesterday now, but I finished this up late last night.

I decided to commemorate the date with a recap of our trip home from Ethiopia. It was quite the adventure and an unbelievable story. I’m going to tell all the nitty gritty details because I think someday I will be able to laugh at it. Seven months is not quite enough time to laugh yet, but I can look at it and see some crazily amusing aspects. So I thought I’d share.

I'm holding Lyla and Nancy is holding Sosie. It was our almost last picture taken in Ethiopia - we passed Embassy, we were headed to meet with the birthmom, and then we were going HOME!!!!!I must preface this story by saying that nothing – and I mean NOTHING – in this story is an exaggeration. I don’t think. I mean I say with every fiber of truth in my body that I am telling this story with the most honesty that I can muster. I mean it.

I wrote about Part One of our Embassy Trip that you can go read if you would like to read about the first part of our voyage…

And now onto Part Two…

So we had a series of three flights – my sweet Aunt Nancy and I with the babies. And lots ‘o luggage. 20 pound baby on the front, 30 pound backpack on the back, and a cart FULL of luggage – whew! Look how sweet and smiley we looked – we were so excited just to be headed home. It was also about 11 pm or so in Ethiopia.

In the first flight – which was five hours I believe – we were doing great. Having had a baby on an airplane before, I was confident that I was at least as prepared as I could be. We’d need to keep them entertained, but what could go wrong? I had scoured the blogs and asked experienced traveling friends what to take, and I had it all. We were prepared.

This flight didn’t have any of the bulkhead crib seats available, but we were in three seats with the two of us (plus the babies) so we were excited to have the wee bit of extra room. Other babies on the plane were crying before we even taxied out of the runway – but not ours! We wisely saved our bottles for the takeoff where the drinking of the bottle would soothe their little popping ears. I mean, I’ve done this before – it ain’t my first time around the block. I surely know how to fly with babies. Nancy too.

We took off, and we popped those bottles in at just the right time. The girls sweetly relaxed and slowly drank their bottles while drifting off to sleep. Other babies cried – but not ours! I mean, why couldn’t everyone have it as together as we did? I mean, I’m trying to catch some sleep here…

I had Lyla, and Nancy had Sosie. At the end of her bottle, Lyla got a little fussy, but she did better when I sat her up. She was on my lap facing me, and seemed a little weirded out by the plane but okay otherwise. And then it happened.

Projectile. Vomit. The contents of that entire bottle were spewed all. over. me.

Lyla immediately seemed to feel better, but I was covered from my hair to my knees in putrid, rancid-smelling vomit. (Let’s insert here that I’ve never done well with vomit. Ever. Jason is a saint and bails me out most of the time to clean it up. Gag reflex on steroids from me. I just can’t do it.)

I stayed calm. Kind of.

I paged the stewardess and asked for some napkins or something. She wasn’t really paying attention, and she was like, umm, why? I said, “My daughter got sick, and I need to clean up.” She said, “Uhh, okay.” I shifted Lyla so she could see the sheer volume of vomit all over me, and she jumped into action. You know the hot towels that the stewardesses take around to you? She brought us a whole tray. And two whole packs of unopened cocktail napkins. And a large trash bag.

I changed and cleaned Lyla and stuffed all of the gross washcloths into the bag along with Lyla’s clothes.

My biggest dilemma was that I knew if I stood up and walked the 3/4ths length of the plane back to the bathroom that the rows and rows and rows of people behind me would be aghast at the vomit dripping off me all the way up the aisle. It would be a big show. So I stripped right there in the seat – as discreetly as possible – after checking out that nobody could really see me around us. I stuffed all the puke clothes into the plastic bag. I had clean clothes on, but I was still covered in vomit.

I headed back to the bathroom, and wiped off as well as I could. It was bad. I rinsed my hair in the sink and smothered myself with the scented lotion I luckily had in my backpack. I really just couldn’t get the smell off of me.

Can you scroll back up to the picture for a second? What do you notice about my hair? Yes! It’s wet! I would like to point out the fact that I very wisely waited until the last possible second to shower – I knew we had 24 hours of travel ahead of us and at the end there would be my gorgeous husband, my sweet kiddos, and many many people we loved like crazy waiting to see us. And lots of pictures being taken.

So back to the vomit-covered me… :)

Most of the rest of the flight was okay. I’d occasionally whimper/glaze over in wonder at the fact that I’d used one of my spare outfits just 15 minutes into 24 hours of traveling. And I spent the other four hours and 45 minutes holding a puke bag within inches of Lyla’s face – I jumped whenever she even flinched! But what else could happen?

At the end of the flight, we very wisely changed the girls before we stuck them into the baby carriers and lugged them through however many gates we would need to go through. We took turns changing them in the empty seat. I changed Lyla first. Then Nancy changed Sosie. She peels down sweet Sosie’s diaper and what happened?

Projectile. Poop. And not normal baby poop smell. Like rancid, I’m ridding my little body of all kinds of germs-smelling diarrhea.

All over Nancy’s pants. And her backpack. Like thick, permeating pudding-like poop. By this time, other people were filing past us to exit. Nancy and I kind of chuckled at what other people were having to smell and see, but we could do nothing but frantically scoop up the poop with the wipes we had – and our bare hands.

Did I mention how immensely grateful I was that Nancy was with me? How sacrificial she was all week? How I couldn’t have done it without her? Oh man oh man.

We cleaned as quickly as we could and reassured each other that we weren’t in a rush. We’d get off when we got off and it was ok. No reason to panic. The stewards were really rushing us and trying to hold the babies – which resulted in screaming from the girls.

We finally get off the plane only to discover that the back third of the plane was all crowded into a little tram anxiously waiting on whoever the holdup was so they could be taxied to our gate. Well, we didn’t know that!

So we walk as quickly as we can, each with our extra 50 pounds of baby and backpack. Nancy smells like poop, I smell like vomit, and I’m now carrying a clear trash bag full of puke and poop-covered washcloths, baby clothes, and every item of clothing I had on. Poor Nancy didn’t have time to change and just had to wear what she had on. We crammed our stinky selves onto the tram with our impatient fellow travelers and made it to the exit gate.

Only to wait through five different lines of the Turkey officials checking, rechecking, verifying, and re-verifying our passports, the girls’ passports, asking for additional paperwork which I had to dig out of the backpack, and then rechecking everything again. I don’t know what the deal was, but boy they were doing their J-O-B…

FINALLY we made it to the ticket desk to request our bulkhead seating so we could take advantage of the cribs on our upcoming 10-ish hour flight. I felt very proud of us. It’d been a tough flight, but here we were. We made it. We’d get this little detail set up, and then we’d clean up in the spacious airport bathrooms.

I’ll spare you the details, but I spent the next hour and half begging and pleading with the Turkish Airline precious people to PLEASE let us have the bulkhead seats. Someone was sitting in those seats, but they didn’t have two babies – or even one baby. So we should get them, right? No can do. It involved lots of the workers, language barriers, and the meanest supervisor lady I’d ever met. I cried. Poop-covered Nancy was sitting on a nearby bench holding two babies – both of which were crying. My vomit smelling little self had done okay so far, but we were only six or seven hours in and I was out of any traveling willpower I had. The supervisor even seemed gleeful in her denial of any fraction of sanity we could imagine over the next ten hours. Nothing we could do.

We freshened up best we could, tried to eat and get the babies calmed, and then trudged to our next flight. We got the third degree about our water – um, two babies, 10 hours of flying, bottles? Finally they let us through with the airport-purchased water. I don’t think we talked much while waiting to get on the next flight. Nancy and I were both exhausted and dreading the flight. Our last hope was that we would meet a sweet stewardess.

I got on and quickly explained our dilemma to the nicest-looking stewardess I could find. And she was a gift from the Lord. She preciously and sweetly – but yet firmly – asked the people if they would mind moving seats. One man was very willing. The older couple though? No way were they happy. They were really upset to have to move. They came back to take our seats, and we both went overboard to wearily tell them just how appreciative we were for the seats while trying to explain. Stone-faced responses. Nothing.

What did we do in response to Mr. and Mrs. Grouchy? Well, Nancy and I tried not to skip down the aisle with joy to our spacious new seats!!!! We checked out where the cribs would go, happily kissed on the babies, stored our brick-filled backpacks (and the puke/poop laundry trash bag), and stretched our feet out. AAHH – we could do this! And we both said we didn’t feel one TINY bit of guilt about taking their seats. I think even Jesus would have taken their seats had He experienced what we had on the previous flight. Ok, maybe not. Well, maybe.

Anyway, the flight went pretty well. The older people kept stomping up to our seats because they left their carry-on luggage there – even though they could have moved it – and glared angrily at us while they slammed the overhead bin shut. Nope, still no guilt. Not a bit.

Sosie buried in the beautiful crib - aaah!Lyla snoozing on the plane - a beautiful sight!The babies slept a couple of times in the little cribs, and Nancy and I actually got to eat – well pick at – the Turkish food… (let’s say I’m not itching to go to Turkey anytime soon!) and rest our arms! Glorious! There were quite a few diaper blowouts – diaper after diaper, outfit after outfit. Our backpacks were becoming lighter while the poopy/vomity clothes bag got heavier. I was sooo grateful for packing SOOOO many clothes for all of us. Can I tell you at this point, we kind of giggled (in a maybe maniacal way) every time we had to open the vomit/poop clothes bag to put another item in? Those clothes had been marinating in their bodily fluids for 15ish hours now at least. Yeah, we really felt bad for everyone around us – at least we knew to hold our breath!

We finally landed and taxied to our runway – whoooo hooo!!! We were in America! The babies were American citizens!!!! I was so excited and tearful. We just had one more little two hour flight and we had plenty of time to get there.

Until we sat on the plane for an extra hour at the gate. Who knows why. They wouldn’t let people pee or get up or do anything. The babies were okay, but I was dreading having to miss our flight – it would mean flying in on Sunday morning instead of Saturday night. It would mean our welcoming party would mostly be at church. And I couldn’t spend the night in the New York airport. I just couldn’t.

We eventually got off, made it through customs FINALLY in spite of a cocky airport cop, and claimed our luggage – still carrying the poop/puke bag. Then we trekked with the 20 pound babies and the 30 pound backpacks and the multiple suitcases to go re-check our luggage since we were coming from a foreign country to America. Which took about another hour. Time was ticking down for us making our flight on time.

Meanwhile Jason was texting me telling me Nolan had fallen off his bike and had gotten stitches. I was like, ooookkkk… why are you telling me this now? If you only knew the extreme duress I was under right now, you would not be telling me about a couple of stitches on his leg – or wherever it was. I’d kill for 1000 stitches for MYSELF if it would get me home. I was like – he has NO CLUE…

Finally we get our luggage rechecked and we go to find our gate. We maybe had 25 minutes or so. We had to go through hallway after hallway after turn after an elevator or five, and FINALLY we saw our airline’s desk and rushed to get our seat assignments. The ladies started talking like we were going to miss our flight or something, and I was like, really? What’s the big deal? We’re here! We just have to walk to our gate? They made a big deal about our gate being really far away (of course it was), but I knew we were in shape and would run if we had to in order to make our flight. I mean how long of a walk could it be? We had a few minutes still.

They pointed us toward our gate, and we hurried around the corner following the directions they gave us. And then I froze. In front of us stood probably 500 people – at least – waiting to go through security. Oh crap.

I lost it again. Cried right there. I knew this was it. I was praying, but I was crying too. We were sooo tired, and it had been such a looong flight – we were finally in America, almost home, and I wanted my family all in one place so bad that I couldn’t stand it. I ACHED for it. But yet it was sooo far away.

I trudged towards the line and prayed for a miracle. While I was bawling – like audibly bawling. We’d had MAYBE a total of an hour or two of sleep in 48 or so hours (had full day in Ethiopia bc we left at 11pm, then had been traveling for almost a full day) – which came at the end of a hard, emotional week in Ethiopia. I just wanted home.

This lady was standing there that sweetly said, “Baby, what are you crying for?” I started rambling (while still bawling) about Ethiopia and vomit and 20 hours of traveling and poop and babies and my husband and America and our flight and sleeping in the airport. I think she thought I was nuts. But she so sweetly whisked us over to a short line and patted my arm and told us it’d be okay. Can I say that sweet sweet Nancy was so calm during all of this? Seriously – she’s a saint!

There were about 10 people in front of us, but we had about 15 minutes or so until our flight was supposed to be leaving. I was still crying. Happy to have 10 people in front of us instead of 490, but I still wasn’t thinking it looked too good.

The people in front of us asked what was wrong, and I tried not to tell them, but about half of the vomit, poop, husband, Ethiopia, baby details came out. The man sweetly encouraged us to get in front of him, and I said, “No, no, I’m okay – it’s just been a long long long day.” He said, “Do you want to miss your flight?” Me, crying more, “Well, no…” He said, “Then GO!”

We finally made it to the scanner line, and for the first time in all our security checks, they told us we had to take the babies out of the baby carriers to go through security. What??? I nicely refused. They said, “Well, you’re going to have to be patted down if you don’t.” Uhhh, pat away sister, but I’m not taking the time to take off these babies!

The dam had broken by then, and I cried all through our pat downs and was doing the like hyper-ventilating breathing. Another really kind lady was so sweet to us (I’ve said “sweet” a lot – God put some really sweet people in our path – THANK YOU LORD!) and helped us get our backpacks back on and kept telling us we were okay. I was quite the sight I assure you. I am NOT like that – like never in my life have I EVER been like that. But it had been a long, long day.

We get through security and the little guy asks where our gate was and when our flight was. We told him, and he just said, you’re not going to make it. No way – it takes a good 15 minutes to walk down to that gate – it’s the farthest one from here.


But, we figured we could try. So we started running. Running while crying. Carrying 20 pounds of baby and 30 pounds of backpack (maybe 20 pounds by now?) along with a 20 pound bag of rancid puke/poop laundry in a clear bag for all of America to see. We’d run, walk to catch our breaths, run again, walk some more, cry, commiserate, and try to run again. It took forever. I don’t even remember what the babies were doing except kind of whimpering a little and trying to hold on. Sweet girls. I think God must’ve comforted them Himself.

We’d see the sign for our gate and pick up the pace only to discover that it was just pointing to another long hallway around the corner. That happened like three times. Finally I see our real real real gate at the end of a long hallway. I didn’t know how much time we had left – if any, but I knew it had to be close.

I ran a little faster just to get closer and maybe catch the plane for Nancy and I. I ran past the gate check-in gate. They hollered something at me, and I just yelled back, we’re trying to catch the Nashville flight! They didn’t say anything back.

Of course there were like five turns and hallways, but I heard the stewardess yelling, “Last call for Nashville, last call!!!” I SCREAMED, “WAIT WAIT WAIT!!! WE’RE COMING!! WAIT!!!!” Oh my word, we made it.

We walked onto that plane four balls of sweaty hot mess. We sank into seats, stripped off our outer layers and stripped the babies down – even they were covered with sweat. I think we sat there just breathing for like 45 minutes – both of us crying off and on by then. It had been a long long long long 24 hours. But finally we were going to land in Nashville – barring something else crazy – and we would be done. I think we were crying from both the horror of the day and the relief.

The last thirty minutes or so we ate, and the precious stewardess brought us plenty of extra snacks and water and was so sweet. The babies got a good snacky-meal, and we did too. Then we changed our clothes into our final outfit – thankfully we each still had a final outfit. I re-smothered myself with scented lotion again – I was sooo glad I had brought it!

And then, we walked off of the plane, onto our ramp, and INTO THE NASHVILLE AIRPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was such a surreal, miraculous-seeming, long-time-coming, precious moment. Here’s a gallery of pictures to look through: (A HUGE “Amesegenallo” to Amanda Humphrey for our airport pics!!! THANK YOU!)

Pictures are better than words – so “they” say. If each picture were to describe 10,000 words, there would still not be enough words to express how grateful I was to see EACH AND EVERY FACE at the airport. Thank you – from the bottom of my heart – to all of you that came out. It was the best, best, most perfect ending to such a long journey. Those precious people had supported us all along the way, and there is no better ending than having them there with us to celebrate our sweet girls finally being home. I think that moment is just one that I’ll remember forever – like Mary in the Bible, I stored those moments in my heart, and I’ll ponder and reflect on them forever. And be grateful beyond belief for our support network – every. single. time.

And oh the sight of my precious husband and my other three children! Oh my, the WHOLE UNDERHILL FAMILY ALL TOGETHER!!!!!!!! And my pitiful Nolan’s face – no wonder Jason tried to warn me about the stitches. I didn’t ask, but I assumed it was a couple of stitches on his knee! Nope, an all out face crash off his bike – poor baby. But there was no better sight to see!

And seeing all of those faces made the trip – every vomit and diarrhea-soaked moment of it – completely worth it. I would have rather had an easier trip of course, but it will make for great stories to tell the girls someday. And I think I’ll be able to laugh by then! :)

And once again (but not for the last time), thank you sweet Aunt Nancy. You made the trip and saved my very little crazy self! I love you, and I am so grateful to have you sharing that trip with me – every vomit and diarrhea-soaked moment of it.

We’re Adopting… AGAIN!!!

Yep, you read that correctly… Us. Adopting. Again.

Are you breathing? Are you in shock? I know!

We are NOT adopting TWO this time – just one.

I know it’s pretty crazy around here, but this next process will be WAY easier. We’ve actually already FOUND the newest member of our family. It’s another little girl that we believe is about 4.

Are you with me? Think we’re nuts?

This time we’re doing a domestic adoption. We actually got to foster her first to make sure that she would fit in well and to see how everyone adapted.


Our sweet dog - MOLLY!

Sweet Molly fits right in!

Wait, you didn’t think we were going to adopt another PERSON right now did you?? THAT would be crazy!

There’s actually an interesting story about this though that is kind of a heart-level story. Our last two dogs have NOT worked out. One we raised from a puppy and so we got to socialize him, train him, everything, but he turned out VERY territorial and would lunge at visitors, etc. despite puppy AND dog training classes. He ended up getting adopted from someone in Chicago – after he bit our NES man (one of many bites he passed out).

Our other dog was a golden retriever we got at the local Humane Society. We spent as much time with him as we could in the little room, and he did great! We brought that dog home, and he was a SPAZ! Could NOT settle down unless he was in a commanded “down, stay” (which we couldn’t leave him in for life of course). We ran him, we had a private trainer come to the house – he was just too much dog for us, and we took him back to the Humane Society.

Now it’s interesting because so many people are SOOOO judgemental about giving up a durn dog. It’s a dog! I’m not saying families should be flippant and just have no level of commitment to a dog, but if it doesn’t work, looking for a humane option for the dog is NOT A CARDINAL SIN!!! (Check your Bible – it’s not in there! In fact it says men are to rule OVER the animals and ONLY HUMANS were made IN GOD’S IMAGE!!!)

So we waited a while, and then we started looking for another dog – because we really are a dog family. I did a lot of research, and the best advice we found was to not get a dog based upon a breed. Just because we’d had one perfect golden retriever didn’t mean that ANY golden retriever would be perfect. (We already KNEW not to get a puppy!)

We like to adopt dogs that aren’t otherwise going to find a home, and so we looked at one of our local shelters – who will remain nameless. (BUT if you’re looking for a dog and you’re a local, I’ll tell you the name of the place to AVOID. Just ask me.)

I emailed the owner of said shelter first to see if there were even any good possibilities for us. I told her the trouble we’d had in the past – being 100% honest. I told her ages of our kids. And instead of ME trying to pick a dog for us, I asked HER to suggest a few dogs before I fell in love with some snuggly puppy. I told her we were open to any breed and any gender, but we just wanted the right one for our family.

She suggested four different dogs. Nolan and I went one day to meet them all with the owner. She personally showed me each one, and we talked through pros and cons of each one when compared with our family. I picked two that I thought would be best, and the whole family went the next day to check out the dogs.

Katie Beth (my dog loving girl who thinks she wants to be a vet one day) and Everett (who loves dogs as well) fell head over heels in love with the one I thought was a best fit too. They got to play with her in a large fenced yard area with one of the workers supervising us. The kids were on their best behavior, and did so well staying calm in spite of their excitement. The worker agreed that the dog seemed to be a great fit for our family. She was even really gentle with the little girls!

The dog had been in the shelter for a YEAR! She was skinny, and they said they “just noticed” her peeing a lot and were running some tests. I decided she REALLY needed a home fast to get some one on one care. We filled out our application that day, and we turned it in.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

I would check in and either get no response or a vague one. Katie Beth was coming home from school every day and would ask with a huge expectant grin, “Any news????!!!???” No honey, sorry. And her face would fall.

Finally I called the owner and pinned her down. She said (and yes, this is a QUOTE), “I just don’t think she’s the right dog for your family. You just have so many kids that I just don’t think the dog would be top priority.”


I replied that NO, a DOG would never be TOP priority in our house, but we wanted to make her a member of our family, and she stuck with NO.

It killed me. It wasn’t so much the dog I realized. It was that she looked at our family, judged us, and said that dog was better off being in a shelter (where her ribs were showing and she’d been an entire year) instead of in a family with us! Were we THAT BAD???

Jason finally talked me down and said she was crazy – one of those people that believe dogs should have more rights than people. I realized I was accepting the way someone saw our family as fact instead of going with what I knew to be true. I guess I’ve just kind of been waiting for that moment of discrimination because of us being a large family, and when it finally came, it hurt! But it was just that – discrimination!

Katie Beth was crushed, and Everett was okay. We explained the lady believed that the dog needed to be most important in our house and we thought that was crazy. She wanted the dog to go to a smaller family – one with less kids. Everett was funny and said, “What? She thinks it’d be better if we just had ONE KID??? That’s crazy! We have MORE PEOPLE in our family to love on her than any other family!” Sweet boy. So true.

The thought that kept crossing my mind was, ONLY IN AMERICA WOULD WE BE ELIGIBLE TO ADOPT TWO (or more) CHILDREN BUT NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO ADOPT A DURN DOG!!!!!!! I’m all for the humane treatment of animals, but we have our priorities way messed up in this country when saving an animal comes before saving a child. I wanted to ask Miss Make Dogs A Priority what she’d done to help the orphan crisis or stop sex trafficking or to help the homeless or the widow, but I didn’t. (Aren’t you proud of me?)

After a few weeks, we tried again, and I believe we found an even MORE perfect dog for our family. And we found a great local organization!

If you’re a local, check out The Hairy Moose Pet Retreat. They are a doggie daycare, boarding, and grooming facility. They also find homes for adoptable animals through a portion of their business called Friends of Hannah – they are FANTASTIC.They are also a family-owned business.

First of all, instead of giving you five minutes to decide whether you will keep this dog for life, you can take a dog home for the weekend to foster to see how they fit in with your family. This sold me! Even if you aren’t interested in adopting, they still allow dogs to be fostered out on the weekend to help them learn social skills and get to experience family life.

Secondly, they REALLY LISTENED and were respectful. They listened to problems we’d had, what we were looking for in a dog, and they made suggestions of what animals might be a good fit. AND they didn’t discriminate against us for having a measly 5 kids! :)

I’d HIGHLY suggest them if you are looking for a new pet!!!

Molly (formerly Bay Bay) is doing great. She’s calm, sweet with the kids, and she loves to sleep! She was at a facility in Memphis, had just had puppies that were already adopted out, and she was going to be put down the next day. A volunteer from Hairy Moose got her and brought her to her own house to foster Bay Bay and another dog for a month. After she felt like she knew them well, she brought them to Hairy Moose so they could find a family. And now she’s a perfect fit!

So I encourage you to consider adopting an older animal instead of buying a puppy!!! First of all, a puppy’s personality is not set. You may pick a calm puppy that “wakes up” at about six months old and goes beserk!

Also, the vet expenses of adopting an older dog are so low – there’s nothing else for us to really do but continue her heartworm and flea meds. She already has had all of her shots and is set to be spayed soon. A puppy has to go in for several more rounds of shots and checkups still.

Also, puppies have little sharp nails and LOVE to chew – it’s not their fault – it’s the nature of puppies. But still, why go through that?

AND, most dogs don’t settle down until about 2 or 3 when they are considered to be out of their teenage stage!

And, hello… this dog is potty trained, house trained, and is FABULOUS! We want to help her learn a few more commands, but sweet Molly is just about as perfect as she could be!!!!

And we are technically still “in process” because I haven’t been by to pick up her final paperwork! :) Did I trick you for a second?? :)