While Eisley was in the hospital, I was told I was brave. After Eisley passed away, I was told I was brave.

I can tell you this – I did not feel brave during either of those times. There were many other things I felt, but bravery was not one of those feelings. I’ve thought about it a lot since that time and I align with the quote in the image above, it isn’t about the absence of fear. It isn’t about this overwhelming sense of courage. It’s about forging ahead despite those ever-present feelings of fear.

For some, being brave means:

  • getting out of bed the next morning.
  • showing up at the polls to vote.
  • burying your child.
  • burying your spouse.
  • burying your parent.
  • getting a double mastectomy.
  • fighting to get services for your special needs child, even when the fight is so daunting.
  • trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage or the loss of a child.
  • leaving everything you’ve ever known to join your new family.
  • adopting a child.
  • walking into that hospital room every single morning.
  • walking into that office every single morning.
  • standing up against a bully.
  • calling your senators or representatives.
  • moving to a foreign country to bring home your children.
  • starting a nonprofit to help those in need.
  • being okay with major life change.
  • believing differently than your friends or family.
  • serving your country.
  • battling out-of-control wildfires.
  • standing up for the marginalized.
  • seeking help.
  • being a stay-at-home mom.
  • being a working mom.
  • giving up security to chase your dream.
  • being different from those around you.
  • rebuilding after every thing around you has crumbled.
  • loving others, especially those who are hard to love.

What is your brave?


The Juxtaposition

I was in bed last night reflecting on the present and the past. I remember a year ago thinking to myself and sharing with others that I believed grief and hope can coexist. I still believe that. But now, those two things have faces attached to them. Recently, I have been reminded of the small, mundane moments of everyday life that now cause a twinge of grief in my heart. I was working on our taxes and had to indicate that Eisley had passed away last year. For whatever reason, physically typing in her date of death into our tax preparation software was hard. It was another reminder of the finality of her passing. There was another moment from last week that caused the grief and the hope to surface at the same time. I was opening a tub of clothing in preparation for pulling out some clothes that might fit our new little one. I rifled through onesies that I had purchased for Eisley that she never had the chance to grow into. I sorted through outfits that swallowed our tiny, 13-lb, 18-month-old in their 6 month and 9 month sizes. I sadly realized that our newest addition will have outgrown these tiny clothes. What do I do with them? For now, I put them away and decided to finish our taxes. But there it is – that moment of grief and hope now paired with two faces – our daughter who passed away and the one we hope to bring home very soon. And here was the realization I had last night. If Eisley had not passed away, more than likely we would not be adopting this specific child. We weren’t planning to adopt again when Eisley was home with us. We thought our family was complete. I will not go as far as saying “we won’t adopt again” or “we can’t”. I’ve learned that when I say things like “I can’t adopt a child with a complex heart condition”, I later find myself falling in love with the most beautiful brown eyes belonging to a little one with a complex heart condition. I won’t speak in absolutes, but I will say adopting again wasn’t on my radar. If you’ve been following along, you know how that story is being written. As I grappled with the reality of losing Eisley, a thought planted itself in my heart – if we lost her, I hoped we would adopt again.  And here we are a little over a year later and we should be meeting our newest daughter in less than two months.

Because of Eisley’s death, we have the privilege to know a new life – that of a new daughter joining our family. The love does not end with the life that was lost; it continues. I came across this quote tonight,

“God pours life into death and death into life without a drop being spilled.”                           -Anonymous

At the same time, I am reminded of another life and death juxtaposition. As we enter into Holy Week, I will pause in remembrance of His death and how I may have new life through Him. May my daughters continue to point me to the cross, to the sacrifice of the Lamb, and the great love that was poured out there.

We Accept!

We Accept!

We’ve been keeping a secret, but we had to work out some details before we could share anything further.

The first full week of March was a crazy and emotional week for us for so many different reasons. We had workers in and out of the house disrupting our normal routine. Our big girl had a stiff neck that was diagnosed as torticollis and then we later learned at the end of that week that it was actually strep throat. I was volunteering to work at a consignment sale for the last 3 days of the week. We were deep into planning an online fundraiser auction that was set to launch that coming weekend. Oh, and we had some pretty big, emotional anniversaries – Eisley’s birthday, our big girl’s family day, and the 1 year anniversary since Eisley had passed away. It was a full week and I didn’t plan to add anything more to that week.

Until we got THE CALL.

I was 2 minutes away from pulling into the parking lot where the consignment sale was being held and where I would be working for the next 4-5 hours. My phone rang and I noticed the phone number was our adoption agency. Initially, I didn’t think much about it because our caseworker was on vacation. I had pushed the thought of us getting a referral to the back corners of my mind. It seemed like the files of children available had slowed and I was trying to convince myself (and failing miserably) that I was okay with waiting for a while longer.

Shortly after answering the call, the caseworker said they had a file of a little girl and wondered if we would like to review the file. My fingers were shaking and tears began streaming down my face. When they told me more about the little girl, I had this peace about it and knew deep in my heart she was my daughter. For you see, I had “known” this little one for a few months. I had seen her photo months before on our agency’s social media page and had inquired about her. Our caseworker said she didn’t know anything about the file other than she was with one of their partnership orphanages. But she also clarified she had no idea when or even if that little girl’s file would come through and even if it did, our family may not be next in line to review the file. It would all depend on the order of families waiting. I asked a few other times, stared at her picture often, and prayed for her in the meantime, but then put it out of my mind for a while as we had a lot going on.

We sent her file to several doctors and asked them to review the file and follow-up with us. We requested an update from her orphanage. And last Thursday night, after receiving an encouraging report from the orphanage, we said YES. We said YES to this little girl, our soon-to-be daughter. We filed our paperwork the very next day. And yesterday we received word that China had approved us to adopt this precious, little girl! We have found our daughter!

Here is what we are able to tell you for now. First, a little detail that causes me to marvel every time I reflect on it. In early February of 2016, Eisley was going down to the operating room for a procedure. She was not stable. I was very, very concerned for her and wasn’t convinced that she would make it through that surgery. As I sat there in the waiting room, while grappling with the reality that I could lose my child that day, I had a stirring in my heart that if Eisley didn’t make it, I hoped we would one day adopt again. Looking back, it seems that our newest daughter was born within a week or two of that very day. When I think upon the timing of those things, tears spring to my eyes.

Second, for almost a year now I have prayed and asked God to bring a baby to my arms again. I didn’t have enough time with Eisley. My empty arms long to hold a little one again. In China, it isn’t common to get a referral for a child under the age of 12-18 months. This doesn’t happen very often these days. You do see some stories, but I would guess they aren’t the norm. Typically, you see children from 24 months – 13 years. I knew that and yet I hoped we might find a child as young as possible to fill those empty arms again. And guess what? She’s 13 months old. We got to see a video yesterday of her scooting across the floor. I’m an absolute puddle every time I watch that video.

We are beyond excited to make plans to go to China and bring home our daughter. I’d leave tomorrow if they allowed it. And that auction we were planning? I got lovingly kicked out by my sister so that I could focus on being with my family through the hard anniversary. But our amazing village was so generous and we were humbled by the generosity of everyone involved. Because we accepted that referral, we had a large payment due to our agency TODAY that I was able to send a check for without a deep inhale. That auction covered the needs of this payment so that we could accept that referral with no delay. To say that we are forever grateful doesn’t feel like enough, but truly we are.