Friday, December 31, 2010

More of Christmas





Christmas Time is Here

I have talked of my grandad passing away from cancer on here before. He had surgery in February to take the cancer out....unsure as to whether he would survive the surgery or not. Once he came out of surgery doing well....I let my mind go there. I pictured him with Lucy .....especially during Christmas since we thought she would be home by then.

Fast forward to Christmas....grandaddy not with us and Lucy not home yet. I thought I was prepared but apparently not. As I put the tree up after Thanksgiving....it was a sore sight. I would hang an ornament...then cry a little. Put some ribbon on the tree....cry a little. It hit me then that Christmas would be a little different this year.....that my heart would be missing two precious people. In some ways....reality hit that day. Russ suggested that I stop putting up Christmas decorations and just not decorate this year.

I...being just a tad stubborn....told him I could handle this...that Christmas was my favorite time of the year....and I just needed to grieve that day and then I would be better.

And I did. I grieved all day for the loss of my precious grandad and the loss of Lucy not being with us yet.

But also on that day I decided that I would have joy. Christmas celebrates our Savior's birth and I WOULD be joyful about that. His birth is the BEST news and this year I was going to celebrate HIM. It was that day that I felt God calling me to be still and be PRESENT with Him....to truly anticipate His birth.

During the Christmas Eve service at church....I thought about Mary like I never had before. Having a child...not knowing the circumstances.....all the unknowns yet an angel telling her not to be afraid....I had empathy for Mary......the way people must have talked about her...how she did the right thing no matter what others said....how scared she must have been....and most of all how she believed and had faith before she even knew what she was believing in.

Yes during this season we experienced some sad moments...moments where I just couldn't muster up the strength to be joyful. BUT this has been the most meaningful Christmas I have ever experienced. While the circumstances were not as I would have wanted them....the tenderness and faithfulness God lavished on us was simple amazing.

We decided early in the year we would stay home Christmas Eve. We thought Lucy would be here and we wanted to stay in our house as a family. Once we realized she wouldn't be here we decided that for the first time we would stay at our house Christmas Eve...just us. Russ and I cooked steaks, watched A Christmas Story, played Scrabble (which I won!!!), opened our gifts to each other and read from Luke. An amazing night.

We then went to bed and woke up to THIS!!!

Such a fun gift!!! A WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! Icing on the cake....my friends...icing on the cake.

"Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

30 days

30 days until we leave for Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I CANNOT believe it is this close. January 27th cannot get here fast enough. We are so excited about spending time with our daughter and getting to explore Ethiopia. My heart is beating fast as I write this. Reality is setting in....this is not a dream....we are actually going to SEE our daughter for the first time in 34 days and when we come home .....she will be with us!!!!!

AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This is It...

Advent.

I grew up in a church in the south, but we never really celebrated advent. I mean, we went to Christmas parties. Our church read scripture about the birth of Christ. We sang all the songs. But the word "advent" didn't enter my lexicon until the past few years. Even now, I don't really spend a lot of weeks or even days preparing for the celebration of the Messiah.

I do know what it's like to wait. In August of 2009, Anna and I started the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. We had discussed this for years, and finally took the definitive step forward. Since then it's been a process of waiting. Get this form turned in and wait. Have this notarized then wait. Pay this fee and wait. Make this phone call and wait.

We decorated the house for Christmas with a slight sadness because we have waited so long and Lucy still isn't here yet. We had seen her face, but we didn't even know when we'd be able to view it outside of a backlit computer screen. It was frustrating.

A week ago we got a call from our agency that said we had a court date. We're going to be in Ethiopia at the end of January, and we arrive at court on February 4th with the anticipation that she will be ours. So now, even though she's not here yet, we celebrate Christmas with a joy that our lives are about to change forever. There will be new joys, new hopes, new life that enters our house. Maybe that's what Advent is about. The anticipation of new joys and new hopes and new life.

After years and years of wait, the Hebrew people got the Messiah they had been promised. All of humanity was given the Savior of the world. He didn't come in a way that they expected, but when he did come, all was right with the world. God never shows up the way we want him to. He always messes with our sense of expectation. For a while I thought he was some cosmic bully, just letting us know that he's in charge. I'm starting to see that God messes with our expectations because he wants us to know that if we take control of our lives, it just doesn't work out as well. When he takes control, he blows our expectations out of the water. He lets us see just how small our plans are.

So this year, I will celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. I will celebrate knowing that God knew this Christmas would be my last as a non-parent. I will celebrate because God has an enormous plan for the eventual redemption of the world, and I am a small part of it. I will celebrate because he knows what he's doing, even when I don't.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FedEx and Reality

Monday, Russ had a conversation with his co-workers about praying for the adoption. He didn't ask them to pray for a courtdate.....he asked them to pray that we would have a peace no matter when it happened.

I decided this week was THE WEEK that I would truly ASK God for a courtdate. In fact, Monday night I was talking to some friends telling them this. But, I also desired for it to be His timing not ours. I was beginning to feel balanced....truly wanting it but trusting as well.

Well, God's timing for us to receive a courtdate was Tuesday, December 7.

I was working at a co-workers house...knee-deep in paperwork trying to get a printer to do what I needed it to do. She told me my phone was ringing and I almost just let it ring but she met me in the hallway to hand it to me. I truly was NOT THINKING it would be our agency. When I saw 817.....I knew!!

FEBRUARY 4th is the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I left to go find Russ at the church....just knew he would be in staff meeting and I could rush in and surprise him. I had it all planned out in my head....soundtrack music playing in my head as if we were in a movie. Well, he had already left to mail our paperwork to update our fingerprints. When I finally got him on the phone.....we realized I had forgotten to tell him to SIGN the paperwork before he mailed it. We were both frustrated and all I could say was ..."you will be sorry in about 5 minutes." He headed back to FedEx.

I showed up at FedEx and had him open the piece of paper where I had written down two dates. Jan. 30 and Feb. 4. The date we have to be in-country and the courtdate.

We then had our own little celebration in the parking lot of FedEx...which is completely appropriate since we have spent so much time mailing off adoption documents :)

We are praying about staying in-country versus coming home between the two trips. Right now we are thinking we will stay. We have been blessed with flexible jobs and would LOVE to bond with our baby girl in Ethiopia. Anyone else have a courtdate around this time and staying???

We are beyond excited...and maybe just a little freaked out. I feel as though I just got pregnant and am going to deliver in less than two months. The reality of it not just being Russ and I anymore is setting in ....but we are so ready.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Cord of Three Strands

One of my great friends, Sara Berry, just published a new book called A Cord of Three Strands. The book is a true story of a sweet lady that lives in our town and it is FABULOUS!!! It involves one teenage girl giving her child up for adoption. It involves one woman's desire and longing for children. It involves redemption and grace and a story only God could create.

I read the book in two days and BAWLED the entire time. Such a sweet, sweet story. Here is the promo video for the book. You can go to www.bethelroadpublications.com to order your copy....and she has some other great books that would be great Christmas presents as well....

Especially the sweet children's book .....A Home for Him (for boys or girls).... AMAZING artwork and tells Biblical truths plainly so that kids can understand.

Let me know if you read the book (or books) and what you think :)

Anna





Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ten Years







I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We had a very relaxing week and weekend!!! Just found these pics from my ten-year high school class reunion. That night, I reflected A LOT on my life and how it has changed since high school. I reflected on my dreams and how they have evolved and changed over the past 10 years.

In high school:
Dreams: Pediatrician, marry late in life, lots of kids

Well, I was in pre-med for 1 year and then nursing for 1 year and I consistently felt out-of-place. I knew that was not what God had for me. I met Russ the very first day of college.....suddenly my marry later in life plan had failed. SO, the only consistent passion/dream of mine is kids. I felt God first talk to me about adoption at the end of my first year of college BUT I had no idea He would have it planned for our first child. How precious that He gave me a husband that desired the same thing :)

I have struggled my entire life with doing what pleases others. The night of the reunion I felt more like myself than I ever did in high school.

I work for a fabulous company that teaches kids to choose what is true, good, and right, I have an AWESOME husband that I love so much and we have a GOOD marriage AND we are working on all those kids I dreamed about :)

Praying our sweet Lucy will be home soon!!!





Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Fact Friday

So, it has been a while since I have posted Random Fact Friday. Just ran across this pic....while in Austin for the Together for Adoption conference we went to Zilker Park.

AND.....


Out of all the people sitting in the park....I got pooped on by a bird. Thought it was picture worthy :) Happy Friday!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

After 15 months, we are nearing the end of this process.

Anna has been excited about getting the room ready for Lucy. She's been waiting to do it until we got a referral, now she's started to get her mind wrapped around what she wants it to look like. A couple weeks ago she had the greatest idea.

When she went to China two years ago, they toured a building that would be a meeting place for a house church. When they were there, they took pencils and wrote passages of scripture all over the walls, knowing they were going to be painted. So, knowing that we would paint over it pretty soon, we got pencils out and started writing scripture all over Lucy's room.

Some verses meant a lot to us. Some verses we have found insightful and comforting in this arduous process. Some verses were things that we read a long time ago and have impacted us in some way. As we started to write, we got more and more ideas. I can't really explain why it was such an affirming practice for us, but the more we wrote, the more we smiled and laughed and knew that God has been with us this whole time. It was a life giving process. We prayed together after the walls were full.

When we were writing all this down, I started to recall verses that I haven't read or reflected on in a long time. One of them was a verse passed onto me by my sister.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17

She sent it to me when she was in high school and I was working at Camp Lake Stephens more than ten years ago. Although it's one verse in a longer passage of God's redemption on the tail end of rebellion and punishment, that verse was exactly what I needed to hear. It was helpful in a time when I needed help.

I was looking at the words as I reflected on that verse for the first time since 1998. God is living among us. He is actually living among Lucy's room here and Lucy's room across the world. He has calmed all our fears. He has saved us, taken delight in us, rejoiced over us. He is calming her fears, saving her, taking delight in her, rejoicing over her.

This is amazing to me. I will try to pass this truth to my daughter, to all my children. It's the same way that my sister helped shaped me a long time ago. God has used all my experiences, good and bad, to shape me into who I am. Throughout those experiences have been people. Sisters, mother and father. Friends. My wife. He has used people to shape me.

My daughter will now be shaped by the truth that God rejoices over her with singing. She'll be different from me, and probably end up being a totally different person that I'll ever imagine. But my one hope above all is that she'll fall in love with the Savior that I've come to constantly let down but ultimately trust and love. The cycle goes on.

He rejoices over me. He rejoices over her. Over and over he tells us who he is by the way we are brought together. My transformation is just one more in a long line of transformations that make up the redemption of the world. That's overwhelming. More than that, though, it's wonderful beyond words.

Still Fighting

I continuously talk about this verse.

Psalm 46:10

"Be Still and Know that I am God."

It is written on the wall in our upstairs room. The room that allows me to "get alone." It is also on our daughter's nursery wall....

The adoption process is a hard one. I have struggled for the past 6 months it seems like. I struggled waiting on a referral. Then we got our referral and I was good (for like 1 week). Then I struggled again waiting on our court date. I felt like I had lost the "fight" in me.

You see, in our adoption, I have realized I need a good balance of fight and stillness. To me, the two contradict each other.

I have let my heart be in the process but then at times, left it out in the cold so that I could handle the process. I have engaged in the process yet at times pretended like it wasn't happening so I could handle it all.

But this past week...something happened. I found my "fight" and determination to continue on in the journey to our little girl. I had grown weary but have been renewed.

I also realized that I was focusing more on the first part of the verse. The key is in the second part. KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

I am trusting in that part. God is providing us with unbelievable peace right now....to which I am so thankful.

“I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless that is good for us to wait.”

- C.S. Lewis

Praying for a courtdate soon :)



Friday, November 5, 2010

Heart of Peace

I came across this in my journal....from January 9, 2010.

"If you want to hear God's voice clearly and you are uncertain, then remain in His presence until He changes this uncertainty. Often much can happen during this waiting on the Lord. Sometimes He changes pride into humility; doubt into faith and peace; sometimes lust into purity. The Lord can and will do it."

Corrie Ten Boom


Love how over this past year these have all been prayers of mine. I forgot that I had even read this quote.... LOVE how God reminds us that He is able and working when we need it most.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Believe

Just an update....we are STILL waiting on a courtdate.  We hope to get the call soon.  They say you usually get the call 4-6 weeks before travel.  Oh, I hope to hear soon.

Our sweet baby girl is 4 months old today...and is getting so strong and big!!! We have worn out the 3 videos that we got last week....seriously...we watch them 500 times a day.  Okay, well not 500 but close :)

We have finally started to work on her room...I'm a last minute kind of girl....but have really started to get some things done!! My family and friends should be proud!!!

Praying for our courtdate....I BELIEVE that God's timing in this will be just as He wants it.  My prayer last year was that she would be home by Christmas 2010.  Probably not going to happen.  I was in Hobby Lobby on the Christmas aisle several weeks before we received our referral.  I had a slight melt-down..which involved me talking to myself..telling myself to pull it together....but I just couldn't.  I looked up and there was a Christmas ornament with the word BELIEVE on it.  The past two years....that is the word that God had whispered in my ear.  And there it was again. On a Christmas ornament which happened to have a big pink and white polka-dot bow on top.  I bought that ornament that day....as a reminder.  God is who He says He is and He is good.  I believe that.

So, I would LOVE a court date tomorrow....and believe we could get one tomorrow.  But, if we don't I still know that we are all under his wings.

Psalm 91:1- 16

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
       will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [a]
 2 I will say [b] of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
       my God, in whom I trust."
 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
       and from the deadly pestilence.
 4 He will cover you with his feathers,
       and under his wings you will find refuge;
       his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
 5 You will not fear the terror of night,
       nor the arrow that flies by day,
 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
       nor the plague that destroys at midday.
 7 A thousand may fall at your side,
       ten thousand at your right hand,
       but it will not come near you.
 8 You will only observe with your eyes
       and see the punishment of the wicked.
 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
       even the LORD, who is my refuge-
 10 then no harm will befall you,
       no disaster will come near your tent.
 11 For he will command his angels concerning you
       to guard you in all your ways;
 12 they will lift you up in their hands,
       so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
       you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
 14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
       I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
       I will be with him in trouble,
       I will deliver him and honor him.
 16 With long life will I satisfy him
       and show him my salvation."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Best Day Ever

Two sweet women were traveling to Ethiopia to go to court for their children.  I emailed them both and asked them to take pictures of our sweet baby girl.  I even sent a package for one of them to take to her.  They both emailed us LOTS of pictures of her and even VIDEO.  She had the hiccups in the video and oh. my. word.  it was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I watched.  This is real.  She is real.  God is more real than ever.
How crazy is that??? A picture of us is with her now!!!!
Thanks Renae and Brenda!!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Referral Day!!!

Here are a few pics from our referral day.  Some of the ones of us seeing her picture we can't post..since it shows her face :(

My mom and aunt (and brother's legs)...LOVE their faces!

My Dad and I

We didn't get to Russ' parents until 10:30 that night.  We actually woke them up to show them her sweet face.  This is Mrs. Birdie's surprised face :)


Again, we literally got them out of the bed!!

Russ skyped with his sister to see her reaction.  Such a sweet time.

We had the best time showing people her face in person.  It has been 3 weeks since we first saw her picture....CANNOT wait to get an update on her.  Gladney says you get one twice a month so it should be anyday.  Praying it will be TODAY!!  We are also still waiting for a court date....praying it would be soon as well ;)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Together For Adoption

Russ and I will be heading to Austin, TX for the Together for Adoption Conference!  We are so excited!!!!  Please email me (annapolsgrove@gmail.com) and let me know if you will be there...maybe we can meet up!

Can't wait to share all we learn and experience :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Old Navy will forever be a part of my life.

 Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Strep Throat.  He came to visit and slightly overstayed his visit.  Because of his visit, I also had to meet Mrs. Steroid S. Hot.  Our time together lasted all week....and amazingly did not involve any sleep.

Tuesday I was home alone and SAD. I was not having fun with my company and just wanted a referral.  I began to think about Lucy and her future and our future with kids.  I felt the overwhelming need to go into her room (which is FULL of junk), get on my knees, and pray for our futures.  I prayed against my need to think I know what is best for her life....against the need to feel like I am in control... and that I would realize she is first and foremost God's child and I must trust her to Him.  It then hit me that if I believe that and pray for that for the future then I must believe He knows every day of her life...even if I don't what is going on with her now.  It is amazing how many times God has to teach me the same lessons.  I left her room with a sense of peace....thankful that God is all-knowing and I am not.

On Thursday, I decided to try and go to work for the day.  After a couple of hours my boss/great friend called in a panic.  She was overwhelmed and just needed to vent. They (as in her and her husband and their FIVE children) were leaving for Boston that afternoon and life was just overwhelming.  I listened and finally told her I was coming over to help.  After many attempts to try and get me not to, she finally agreed to let me come.

Such a God moment.  When I got to her house...we sat and talked about our China trip we went on two years ago, family, sin, God, life.  FOR. TWO. HOURS.  We prayed, cried, breathed.  Just what I needed.  After lunch we finally started working.  Around 3 pm she told me she was going to Wal-mart and Old Navy to get items for their trip.  I told her my energy was sinking (due to my unwanted guest...Mr. Strep Throat) and to let me go for her.  I called Russ on the way and told him I would be home in an hour or so.  

I wandered through Wal-mart....no shorts for her son so I ran to Old Navy.  No shorts.  I was walking through the store...ILL....TIRED....and my phone rang.  I was so disturbed...I mean...how dare someone call me on my phone.  I decided to see who it was.  817.......uh...uh.....this is it.

Me:  Hello??? 
Kristen: Hey Anna, This is Kristen....this is the call. 
Me:  (screaming in Old Navy)  Oh my goodness....I didn't think you were ever going to call me.

I stood there for a moment....stunned...then thought about the fact that I didn't get my friend's son's shorts.  Maybe I should go to Kohl's....wait ....what am I thinking.....I need to go home NOW and see my BABY!!  I dropped the other items off at her house and told her I was running home to see my baby. 

I called Russ...told him I didn't feel well and would be home in a minute.  He said I sounded weird...I told him nothing was wrong. 

My heart was pounding and I think I had to remind myself to breathe a few times on the way home.  I drove in silence...no radio...just my thoughts (and the squeaking sounds from our old car that is on it's last leg...or tire if you will).  

I pulled up...ran to the door...completely trying to act normal...Russ met me at the door.  I could tell he was worried but I knew he had no idea.  I told him we had gotten the call!

We set the computer up and called Kristen.  She didn't answer the first time but answered the second time.  Good thing because I was calling every minute until she answered. 

When her picture came up and she told us her age...we were stunned.  I had no idea she would be so little....so tiny....so beautiful.  I looked over and Russ was weeping...which was just as beautiful a site as her.  We didn't speak for minutes...we were quite literally speechless.  After hearing her story...God was suddenly bigger and grander than I realized.  I felt like I had just gotten a glimpse of Him and his character....I suddenly knew Him better.  

He put her on our heart 3 years ago....and on the day we got the call...she was 3 days from being 3 months old.  She is perfect and has the most beautiful eyes you have ever seen.

What an amazing end to the week.  For 8 months I wanted the call.  While nothing spectacular happened during this past week....the timing of the call was perfect.  Russ and I had been depressed, sad.   Our prayers had turned to begging....but this past week..we both realized that and consciously spent time trying to come to a point where we wanted God's timing not ours.  By Thursday we weren't desperate...well, maybe a little....but we were ready.  What a wonderful day!!!  Thursday night and Friday were spent driving around North Mississippi showing her off to our friends and family. 

Absolutely amazing experience. We love her so much.




Friday, September 24, 2010

There are no words

It has been 18 hours and we are still staring at pictures of the most precious, tiny, beautiful 3 month old little girl ever.  God is bigger and grander than we ever imagined.  More details to come :)

we love you all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's help the Scopel's!!!!

I LOVE helping people with their adoptions because I know first-hand what a difference it can make. We have had so many people help with our adoption....and LOVE our little Lucy even though they have never met her.  I love that concept.

So, today I want to tell you about a way you can help another family, The Scopels.  They are adopting a little girl from Uganda.  They were going to go on the waitlist but found a waiting child that they fell in love with.  They are in the process of doing their paperwork...but hopefully it will go quickly!!

To raise money...they are selling t-shirts.  The t-shirts have this logo on them.

You can order sizes Youth Medium, YLarge, Adult Small, Medium, Large, XLarge and XXLarge.  Long sleeves available for an extra $3.  The shirts are $25 (shipping included) or $20 if you do not need shipping.  Shipping is $5 per shirt. Email Amy   (amyscopel@gmail.com)   to order one!!! (or 2 or 10 :))

Check out their blog HERE for more info on t-shirts and to read more about their amazing journey!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

8 months

I never thought we would see this month on the waitlist.  When we originally started...the wait time was 4 months for a child over 12 months.  We assumed that since we were open to a child up through 15 months that we would wait around 4 months.  We have now doubled that time.

There are moments that are really difficult....hard to explain but it just feels like someone is missing all the time.  We constantly think of her and are trying to enjoy this time because we know our lives will change but it is still hard.

And even though I think crazy thoughts about this even being God's will or is this adoption even real...God reminds me that He is in control.  Russ and I are learning and growing through this wait and I am so thankful for that.

I went for a run last week and just asked God to give me a word.  Russ and I had both been anxious and didn't know for sure why.  Then the phrase "It is well with my soul"  came to mind.  That is my prayer...that no matter what we go through...or how long we wait....it would be well with my soul.  PEACE is what I pray.  I pray to be content...I choose to have faith....knowing that when our Lucy comes along...God will lead her to us.

Habakkuk 2:3

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.  Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay."

Deuteronomy 31:8
"The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed."

It is Well with My Soul:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, it is well,
With my soul, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath she'd His own blood for my soul.

It is well, It is well,
With my soul, with my soul
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
It was nailed trough his cross, and I bear it no more,
Bless the Lord, bless the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, It is well
With my soul, with my soul
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Here's to hoping that this will be the week :)  Thank you so much for the support and kind words....we love you guys!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Integrity Time

Ok, this is one of those shameless posts where I advertise where I work :)  Feel free to stop reading now if you don't care OR....continue reading and make my day.

I worked for a girls' grouphome for 3 years and in August God opened a door for me to work a job that will be more feasible with having a child.  I will talk more later about how hard it has been, finding your worth in your job, yada, yada, yada but today I want to share with you who I work for.

I am now working for Integrity Time.... click HERE to visit our website.  My great friend Sara Berry started IT in response to a need she saw.  When one (of her FIVE children) attended Kindergarten she saw a need for Character Education...teaching kids what is true, good, and right.  So, unlike me, she decided to write her own.  I probably would have just said oh well....but she is quite the little over-achiever.

She wrote IT and began volunteering in her son's classroom doing the lessons.  Other teachers and parents caught on and wanted to be a part of it.  So, now it is published, translated in Spanish and Chinese, and in classrooms all around.

It would be great curriculum for any school, classroom, church, home-school setting, or for parents to use.  We are selling the curriculum but also trying to get businesses and individuals to donate so that the curriculum can be given to schools that might not be able to purchase it.  If you are interested in getting more info....to buy, to give to your child's school, or to look into donating so that the curriculum can be in your school district in your city....please email me :)  annapolsgrove@gmail.com

Again, I know...I have NO shame but this is something that I believe in . We would give it away to all schools if we could but unfortunately it takes money to produce.

I couldn't get the video to post so click HERE  to watch.  Also, find us on Facebook by looking for Integrity Time or clicking HERE.

Seriously.  It is awesome.  It incorporates values, morals, manners, the alphabet, puppets, crafts, snacks, etc.

Ok....I think that is enough....email me if you have any questions.  If you made it all the way through this post....you are my new best friend :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

ugh!!!!!!!

WARNING:  Honest post coming from the heart.  You have been warned :)

WE ARE READY FOR OUR REFERRAL :)  The past two weeks have been hard.  I am extremely emotional....not sleeping...and just plain ready to see my daughter's face.  I am trying to be content because in my crazy mind I feel like we won't get the referral until I am content in waiting BUT I am not there today.  You know the feeling when you have gone on vacation and it has been wonderful....but then you wake up on the last day and know you have the long drive home.  And that ride takes for.....e....ver.......That is how I feel today. Ready. Tired.  Emotional. Ready to be done with the waiting.

Praying tomorrow will be the day.  Praying she is home by Christmas.  That has been my dream all along...that we would not spend Christmas 2010 without her.

I wish I had some encouraging words....and tomorrow I am sure I will...but tonight I just don't.  I have been trying to go to sleep for a couple of hours...no such luck.

Also, my glasses are at my in-laws and I had already taken my contacts out SO if you see any typos....just know that it is because I am blind as a bat.

Sidenote:  I love my husband.  We were sitting on the couch tonight and he tells me that he wants to build Lucy a treehouse or a teepee.  I think Teepee won. Why does my infant daughter need a teepee you ask. I have no idea.  But, I love that my husband...her daddy....wants to build her one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Together For Adoption

Russ and I are sooooooo excited about going to the Together for Adoption conference Oct. 1 and 2 in Austin, TX.  Seriously....I don't think you know how excited we are.  There are some amazing speakers and break-out sessions....which I hope to learn a lot from.  But, I am equally excited about meeting other people that have or are adopting.  I have mentioned a couple of times on this blog about how it can sometimes be a little hard not knowing a lot of people that have adopted, especially choosing to adopt first.  Russ and I  cannot wait to meet other couples that have walked that same road and share our same passion ;)

God is providing us with people that share our same passion here in Tupelo as well.  2 weeks ago a group of girls got together for dinner at my house.  Each one is in the process of adopting.  2 domestically, 1 from South Korea, and 1 from Uganda.  It was an amazing night of hearing what had brought each of us to adoption and how God was doing miraculous things in each of our lives. I cannot wait to have our next night...hopefully with more people that are interested in adoption.

I am so thankful for these "connections" and how God is weaving our lives together :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

What If?



Love this!!  Dreaming and writing a few "what if's."  Sometimes the "what if's" are scary but I love how he says choosing not to do them are like death.

Do you have some "what if's"....you know...the ones that have stuck days and weeks after initially thinking of them?  I know I do...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Undeserved Privilege

"Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand..." Romans 5:2

This isn't the whole passage, but I love the term undeserved privilege. Our culture is a world of undeserved privilege. We like to think that we have what we have because we worked hard, we tried hard, we saved and pushed our way to get where we are. That's really not true.

Because we work so hard, it's easy for us to think we deserve the things we have. These are privileges that we work and sweat for. It's ours. We love that about ourselves. And although there's nothing wrong with hard work(in fact it's a biblical principle), the message of the gospel is that we earn nothing. We get to participate in the privileges of God even though we don't deserve it.

I've only shared this with a few people, but there's a part of me that wants to brag about this adoption thing. The process has been long and difficult. People have been overwhelmingly helpful, but Anna and I have both worked hard to get where we are. Now it feels like we are in the home stretch, and there's a part of me that wants to say "I've earned this." However, the reality is that God has been at work at this before it even popped into our heads. When I read "undeserved privilege", I hear that God does all the work of redemption. God does all the work of adoption.

It's humbling. It's wonderful to be a part of. More than anything, it's comforting to know that my hard work gets me very little. It's just a response to the God who has already done all the work. I just get a lot of undeserved privilege. It's a pretty nice perk.

Russ

Monday, August 16, 2010

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
 1 O LORD, you have searched me 
       and you know me.
 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
       you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
       you are familiar with all my ways.
 4 Before a word is on my tongue
       you know it completely, O LORD.
 5 You hem me in—behind and before;
       you have laid your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
       too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?
 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.
 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,"
 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother's womb.
 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.
 17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them!
 18 Were I to count them,
       they would outnumber the grains of sand.
       When I awake,
       I am still with you.
 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
       Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
 20 They speak of you with evil intent;
       your adversaries misuse your name.
 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
       and abhor those who rise up against you?
 22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
       I count them my enemies.
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Needed this today....said it out loud and proclaimed it :) Hope it speaks to you today too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1 year ago

I cannot believe that it has been ONE year since we decided to adopt from Ethiopia.  Last year on this day, I was a wreck!!!  I cried all day because I just knew God had opened my heart to adoption AND opened my heart to ANY child and plan that He had for us....not just the plan that I THOUGHT I wanted.  On this day, Russ picked me up to drive to Okolona for a Ghana mission meeting.  It was on that ride that I start crying and telling him that I am ready and OPEN for the child God has for us.  We decided that we did want a multi-racial family and that was part of the plan.  We debated between a domestic (US) adoption or an Ethiopian adoption.

It was at this point that I think we could have gone either way and I think either way would have been great!!!  But, I had been reading many Ethiopian blogs and even read the book "There is no me without you." (which I highly recommend!!!!).  It was like the blur of the past year finally made sense.  The fact that I had thrown away an Ethiopian adoption packet the year before...because we were "not doing that"  made this decision even better.  My heart had been closed off because of fear.  Fear of the process, what being a multi-racial family would look like, how our family and friends would react, etc.  But, on this day, all of those things didn't seem to matter.  I finally knew what my heart wanted...and it wanted WHATEVER child GOd had for us to parent.  AH, the freedom I felt on that day!!!

We chose Ethiopia and in Russ' words "there was no turning back."  Many questioned why not the United States and truthfully, I feel like we will probably adopt from the US at some point.  All I can say is that I believe this little girl from Ethiopia was planned long before time to be OUR little girl.  God does not just see the US when He views the world and He calls for us to care for others in our neighborhoods, cities, states, country, and even the world.

We went that night and prayed with some close friends of ours.  Having knew that we wanted a girl and that we would name her Lucy...it was that night that I found Lucy Lane's coming home video.  What perfect timing.  I had never seen her blog and how "convenient" for me to see it right after we had made the decision when I was freaking out a little.

We have been on the waitlist for almost 7 months.  She was so real to us last August but even more so today.

Lucy,

During this period of waiting, know that you are loved.  Your daddy and I cannot wait until the day that we get to see your little face.  While on paper, the decision was only made one year ago....you have been in our hearts for many years.  While waiting is hard...I trust in God's timing and plan.  I hope you feel so loved today....by us but ultimately by our great Father.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Radical

I recently just finished reading Radical by David Platt.  I've heard of this book for some time but didn't have a strong desire to read it.  On a whim I picked up the book at Barnes and Noble and decided to purchase it.  Now, while there are some extreme statements in this book and it is no substitute for The Word, it has challenged me and unnerved me.  You know, one of those books that I almost wish I hadn't read because now I am forced to wrestle with some issues I would rather push away.

 I am comfortable.  I have a pretty nice house in the exact neighborhood I wanted...a wonderful husband....a dog and soon to be daughter.  I live a comfortable life.  But, I almost think when our life is comfortable...we are not truly living the life God created us to live.  When we are comfortable we are not dependent on Him.  God has been challenging us on this....especially when we decided to adopt from Ethiopia.  I was not comfortable with adopting a child that didn't look like us.  Now, don't start throwing stones....I am just being honest.  It took me by surprise when I realized that was in my heart.  God worked on my heart for a year and now I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  But, I would not call the process "comfortable." I would call it amazing, crazy, and completely reliant on Him, but not comfortable.

God is breaking us in some other areas of this as well....so please pray that Russ and I would be willing to truly serve Him and to quit chasing the American dream and be radical in our pursuit of "making disciples" which to me means  bringing others to Him through relationships for His glory.

I have heard people say that after reading this book...they felt like they must just sell everything and move across the world.  While I am sure that is exactly what God intends for some and perhaps I will do at some point... I also feel like the book challenged me to be radical in Tupelo, MS where I am called right now.

A few quotes I underlined:

"How many of us are embracing the comforts of suburban America while we turn a deaf ear to inner cities in need of the gospel?"

"This is how God works.  He puts His people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness."

"Fundamentally, the gospel is the revelation of who God is, who we are, and how we can be reconciled to him.  Yet in the America dream, where self reigns as king (or queen), we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, and even manipulate the gospel in order to accommodate our assumptions and desires.  As a result, we desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical.  And in the process we need to examine whether we have misconstrued a proper response to the gospel and maybe even missed the primary reward of the gospel, which is God himself."

"It's a foundational truth: God creates, blesses, and saves each of us for a radically global purpose.  But if we are not careful, we will be tempted to make exceptions.  We will be tempted to adopt spiritual smoke screens and embrace national comforts that excuse us from the global plan of Christ.  And in the process we will find ourselves settling for lesser plans that the culture around us - and even the church around us - deems more admirable, more manageable, and more comfortable."

This post is heavy....just wanted to let you all know what is going on in Anna's life :)

Have a great Saturday night!!

Anna

ps--still no referral :(  we are at 6 1/2 months now.  Hopefully, it won't be long!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Birthday Queen and cookies


We had a celebration for my Meme's 85th birthday!! Blair made these cute cookies for the occasion!  And they were oh so good.....
You should really order her cookies (and I promise I am not saying that just because she is giving Lucy half her proceeds....they really are that good ) :)
 She can literally make a cookie for any occasion you have.
This was the birthday girl...how sassy is she??? So cute in her crown and boa. She had a wonderful 85th birthday....and just so you know...you can find her on facebook. She is the facebook QUEEN!!! :)

Monday, July 19, 2010


Today marks SIX months since we have been on the official waiting list.  We are getting there...the estimates still say that the average time is 6-9 months so we are now in countdown mode!!!  5 and 1/2 months flew by but now the days are getting long.  We are trying to enjoy life pre-children because we know our lives will change BUT everything we do .....we think of her doing it with us. We have almost been on this journey for 1 year...which is just crazy ....but we are so thankful for the people that have poured into our lives.  Russ and I have a full life....we are so fortunate to get to experience it with such great people.  Thanks for loving us.  We shall see if we get to our Month 7 post....maybe we will have a referral by then!!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I will never....

Just thought I would show you my track record with saying "I will never..."

1.  I will never be a teacher.

     I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a pediatrician.  (Even though for a few moments when I was young I would tell people I wanted to be a child's pediatrician ...hmmmm......didn't know there was any other type of pediatrician. :)  After a year and a half of college and meeting Russ....I just did not have a peace about staying in pre-med.  I wanted it to be right so badly but it just wasn't.  I remember driving home from Oxford to tell my parents I was switching to education.  I taught for several years and now work at a girl's group home.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.....perhaps I will just always do different jobs....which is okay with me!!

2.  I will never enter the gates of Camp Lake Stephens again. 


      I went to Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford, MS for the first time as a third-grader.  I had a horrible time...which included a hill, a tornado, a paper-bag, and lots of screaming and crying.  I stated that I would NEVER be back.  Since that day I have now....attended camp there as an 18 year old, worked two summers as a camp counselor, met my husband through Camp Lake Stephens, was proposed to at the lake at camp, AND was married there.  How is that for a "I will never" statement???

3.  I will never adopt from Ethiopia.  


 That's right. We were given a pamphlet on Ethiopian adoption in 2008.  I threw it in the trash and stated that we would never do that.

4.  I will never live in New Albany (or Tupelo) when I grow up. 
    I loved where I grew up but I wanted out.  I wanted to move away from the area and even stated that I would never live in New Albany or Tupelo when I grew up.  I have now lived in Tupelo for almost 4 years :)

 I love when these happen....it just shows me how so not-in-control I am and how much God has worked on my heart.  I am so thankful that He knows best and that He knows my heart/desires/wishes more than I.  Be careful what you say I will never to.....you just never know :)

What are some of your "I will never's?"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Abba Changes Everything

My sweet boss recommended that I read an article in July's issue of Christianity Today.  The article had some great thoughts on adoption, evangelism, spiritual warfare, and orphans.  You can click HERE to read the full article.

"The gospel of adoption challenges us, first of all, to recognize ourselves as spiritual orphans.  The gospel compels us to see our fallen universe - and our own egocentric kingdoms therein - as not the way it's supposed to be."  - Russell D. Moore

And just as we are to do something about others not knowing our true Abba, Father....those spiritual orphans....we are also to do something about those without families.

"Not every Christian is called to adopt or foster a child. But every Christian is called to care for orphans." - Russell D. Moore

I am just going to be honest....and this is coming from a completely non-judgemental view.....but sometimes I want this quote to be different.  I want families to really think about adoption or fostering.  I do believe there are many ways to help the orphan situation.....other than adopting or fostering.   But, I truly believe there are many out there that think of adopting but just chalk it up to "but we could never do that."  But, the great thing is...you can!!!  We were so scared (and still are :) )  but with God's great grace and mercy... we are doing this!! and so can you.

I think sometimes adoption is a little more accepted in various places.  We do get "the look" sometimes.  You know...the look .....like you are a little strange and maybe a little crazy. Like...I know that adoption might be great for you but that is just not for me.  I know...some view adopting (especially when it is a choice) as crazy.  But to us....it is just the next step and this is how God is forming our family.  If you are reading this...please stop and consider adoption or fostering.  If you are the praying type...just ask God to show you His plan.  I pray for boldness because it can be very scary and overwhelming.  The night we decided to adopt from Ethiopia...I stayed awake all night thinking "what have we done?????" :)  

But, God can do amazing things...sometimes we just have to step out of our comfort zones and allow Him to use us.  Ah, I am so not good at this.  But, I can tell you I feel more at peace about this adoption than anything else in my life.  God has amazing plans and doesn't necessarily need us...but, thankfully He chooses to use us.  I want to try and open myself up to be used by Him.  I have tasted what it is like to be 100% open to Him and I LOVE how free it feels.  Praying some hearts would be open to adoption tonight...especially in our area.

Thanks for reading my Saturday Night Ramblings.....Good Night!!!


Love this and am dreaming of the day we step off the plane with Lucy.  You can check out their blog at http://www.babeofmyheart.com or by clicking HERE.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cookies for a Cause

Our fabulous friend Blair Curtis makes cookies that are o so cute and o so good!!!  She contacted me last week with this idea.  She wants to help get Lucy home by donating to us half of her cookie proceeds!!!  So, spread the word.....starting July 12th .....she will do this.  Here are some pics of a few of her cookies.












They are sooooo cute and tasty!! They are great for showers, birthdays, work functions, school functions, just to eat, etc.  Cookies are $1.50 each or $2.25 each (if they are wrapped in a bag with ribbon).  


You can contact Blair at blaircurtis14@comcast.net to place your cookie order (mention Lucy when you do).  She can do anything you need her to :)  Please share this with anyone you know as well :)  

Again, we are overwhelmed by the support Lucy has been given.  God is faithful!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Dream of Lucy


I Dream of Lucy....originally posted in November 2009:


Adoption is hard.  I had heard that before but didn't realize how true it was until now.  My emotions are crazy.  Some days are totally fine and then others I cry for no reason. all. day. long.  Today is an emotional one.  I just looked at pictures of my friends with their babies for Halloween and for some reason it made me sad.  We have only been in the process for 3 months (almost) but she has been with us for over two years. 

I sometimes leave the specifics of "Lucy's Story" out because I don't want people to think we are weird.  But, I am realizing all of these details are significant to her story because it shows just how amazing and big God is. 

Tonight  I want to share the first time God showed us a part of His plan.

Russ and I were friends for almost two years before we dated.  During that time we would stay up late talking about everything imaginable (because we were just friends, right? ).  I remember us talking about how we both felt like we would adopt one day.  It was after this conversation that I am sure he went and watched sportscenter and I went home to plan the wedding because I just knew he HAD to be the one....

We were married in 2005.  When kids were discussed, we talked of adoption.  We fooled ourselves some days into thinking we would adopt later in life but most of the time we knew God had called us to adopt our first child.  Russ says most of his life he knew he would adopt his first child and that it would be a girl. 

One night, in October 2006, I woke up from a dream.  In the dream I was holding a baby girl, wrapped in a white blanket.  I was gazing at her but could not see her face or what she looked like.  When I awoke I just knew that I was pregnant or that we should begin trying. 

The next night I woke from the exact same dream...except this time I thought maybe we should adopt.  I woke Russ and told him the news. He agreed. 

The third night, I woke up from the same dream and can still remember exactly how I felt.  I KNEW.  I have never longed for/missed something so much in my life.  My heart ached for her.  I woke up Russ and told him that I missed her.  The amazing thing was that he understood. He didn't ask questions like "but you haven't met her yet?"...he just got it.

It was that night that we realized God had a baby girl for us and that His plan was bigger than we could imagine.  I love that I couldn't see what she looked like....and to be honest, it didn't matter....I just knew she was mine.