Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On My Heart

I've been putting this post off for several weeks because the words that I feel I so desperately need to write are not pretty words or funny words or inspiring words.

The words I need to write and the feelings I need to get on paper are hard to articulate. I haven't quite been able to put my hand on the way I've been feeling lately, so let's go back to February for a minute, and I'll see where this goes.

February 12th, 2016, was the day our dossier was submitted to China. Four months and nine days ago, we became eligible to be matched with our baby boy.

Two weeks after our dossier was submitted, we spoke with our agency's Matching Coordinator who estimated our match to come within three months. Excitedly, I remember taking Carter and Kate to Hobby Lobby one afternoon in early March so we could start working on baby brother's room. We painted a shelf, picked out ocean and nautical trinkets, hung his initials on the wall, and we were just so certain that "the call" was coming any day.

And then we waited.

And then in late March, we got a call about a file with all sorts of inaccurate information, including the child's birthday, so the file was passed on to another family because this child was too old for us.

And we waited again.

April passed, May passed (the originally estimated "within three months" mark was in there, too), and now we are almost through June.

Every day, my children remind me of their baby brother. Every day, I walk past his empty room and look at his empty crib and wonder where he is. Every day, Kate reminds me that she's a big sister, and nearly every day, Carter finds a toy or a book or an outgrown piece of clothing that he wants to save for his brother. 

Today, he found a panda bear in Barnes & Noble. Excitedly, he ran over to me and thrust it into my arms. "Look, Mom! Look! A panda! Pandas live in China, and since that's where baby brother is, we should get it for him so he remembers where he came from! Can we get it for him, Mom? Can we?" I agreed, and it is now proudly displayed on his chalk-painted shelf.

Not ten minutes later in Gymboree, Kate comes running over to me with a size 3-6 month pair of footie pajamas covered in dinosaurs. "Yook, Mama!" she says. "Those are too little for you, sweetie," I reply. "No, for baby brudder!" she replies emphatically. Through gritted teeth and while holding back tears, I carefully tell her that we don't know her baby brother's size yet, so we won't be buying him pajamas today. "When will we know, Mommy?" she asks. "Soon, baby. Soon, I hope." 

It's all I can tell her as I watch her disappointment and the pit in my stomach forms.

Statistics will tell you that there are upwards of 500,000 children living in Chinese orphanages today.

And for the last four months and nine days, I've been asking God which one of them He has chosen to be ours. Where is our boy? What is he doing right now? Why are we still waiting when there are so many kids needing a home?

Here's the thing - by international adoption standards, four months and nine days of waiting is NOTHING. Truly, NOTHING. I have friends who waited over a year for their referrals from African countries, and I have know other waiting China families who have waited seven, nine, ten months already. I have friends who have adopted from countries in Central America who had to go see and then leave their children multiple times. Adoption is not for the faint of heart, and I knew that going in.

 BUT, I have felt particularly pained by our wait lately because an expectation was set and then not met, and that hurts. I don't know why we are still waiting. I don't know why God has asked us to live the last four months and nine days in complete and total limbo. I don't know when we will see our son's face for the first time or when we'll get to bring him home.

There are moments when I feel certain there's a reason we are waiting, and other moments, I'm just flat out heartbroken. I have moments where I so desperately miss our son...the son we've never met or seen...and other moments where I feel completely disconnected. There are moments, hours even, where I know this wait will all make sense one day, and other moments where I just want to throw my hands in the air and say, "It's just too much!"

And it's in those hard moments when I realize it's too much because I'm trying to rely on my worldly strength and endurance during this wait and not HIS

How many times in Scripture do we see God asking people to wait and trust? 

Think Noah got off that ark after just forty days? Nope! He spent a full YEAR on that boat with all those animals before God told him he could find land. (Side bar - can you even imagine that smell?!) I never met the guy, but I'm fairly certain he was OVER IT long before that. 

When Mary and Martha need Jesus to come heal their brother quickly and He doesn't get there before his death, they are heartbroken and angry. But Jesus showed His ultimate power in that the true miracle came LATER as Lazarus was raised from the dead. 

Moses waited 40 YEARS in the desert for God to transform him into the man who could deliver the Israelites from Egypt.

Our waiting is not new, and our waiting is not without purpose. It's in our waiting that God is working out all of these tiny little details that we cannot see from our finite viewpoint. It's in our waiting that He builds our anticipation for what's to come. And it's in our waiting that we learn to rely on and trust Him fully.

Habakkuk 2:2-3“Write the vision;make it plain on tablets,so he may run who reads it.For still the vision awaits its appointed time;it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it;    it will surely come; it will not delay.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

All right, guys. My blogging game this spring has just been...well, sad. One of these days, I'll get back in the groove, but for now, I'm jumping in to share ten things I'm loving on this hot summer Tuesday! 

(Note - no adoption news to share...still just waiting for the call. Yep, STILL. We'll take all the prayers for peace and patience you want to send our way. More than four months since our dossier was sent to China, and y'all, it's just hard. Like REALLY hard.)

Okay, enough with that...here we go!


Shameless plug, I know...but it's not really a plug for me, so I had to share. I am SO excited about Noonday's Impact Uganda Giveback this month that I thought it deserved a little shout out here! All of our Uganda products are on SALE and 10% of those sales will go back to community empowerment programs. Click my "Noonday Collection" tab at the top to check it out!


Okay, have y'all heard of Jamie Ivey? I had the joy of meeting her and hearing her speak at an April MOPS meeting, but I've seriously become addicted to her podcasts. Every week, she interviews a friend, and you basically just listen in to hear what God is doing in the life of that woman. Each podcast is about an hour (some are half hours), and they are truly just food for the soul. You will be challenged, encouraged, and inspired by the conversations you hear. I listen on walks or runs, when I'm cooking dinner, or when I'm doing something super mundane and boring like folding laundry. I cannot recommend them enough! 


I heard about YouWood on the Happy Hour podcast last week when Jamie interviewed Lauren Chandler, and I just fell in love with the company! These watches are a steal at just $50 shipped, and all proceeds from sales go to organizations that help feed the hungry, free people from slavery (yes, it still exists...), and love on orphans. This company also sells shirts, necklaces, and wallets for very low prices, so it's really a win-win! I bought THIS WATCH, but you can check out the full line and read about their incredible mission on the website HERE!  


Okay, so I'm about two years late to the party on this one, but I got my first ever Giving Key this weekend! I've had my eye on these for quite some time, but I've never actually ordered one. Since they happened to be sitting right by the checkout at a quite little boutique I was shopping in on Saturday, I couldn't resist and grabbed one! So, here's the idea behind these keys - basically, you wear the key with the word you need for the season you need it, and then you pay it forward to someone else who needs that inspiration. (Oh, and because you know I love a company that gives back, these keys are all made by men and women seeking to move themselves out of homelessness.) 
I picked up one that said FEARLESS because, truthfully, I've got a lot of fear in my life right now that I'm trying to manage. When your life and future is basically in limbo, there's such a fear of the unknown and fear of the future that comes with that. I needed this key to remind myself that God has walked ahead of me, and He tells me that I can be bold, be brave, and be fearless as we wait in anticipation of what He has in store for us. His plan is good and we can trust it...without FEAR!


Okay, so this one is WAYYYY less deep...but did you know that a pool exists that DOES NOT require inflating?!! I'll admit, it looks crazy cheap...and we usually have to put two chairs in it to keep the sides up while we fill it...but, I repeat...it DOES NOT require inflating! WHAT?!! We grabbed this snap set pool at Walmart last week, and we seriously give it two thumbs up. Just fill and GO! So easy and a huge crowd-pleaser around here!


I posted this pic on my Instagram feed on Sunday asking for adoption book suggestions, and y'all blew me away! So many amazing suggestions from friends near and far. If you haven't found me yet on Instagram and have suggestions for me, hop on over to @allisonezell and let me know your favorite adoption reads! I'm ALWAYS looking for book suggestions!


Our "Seven After Seven" golfing trips are BACK! WOOHOO! We live in a golf course neighborhood, and the course offers a $7 greens fee after 7pm during the summer, so the four of us get to head out for just $14 during the evenings and have a blast! The boys golf, the girls drive...it's a great summer evening tradition we have around here!

Family selfie fail. ;) Sorry, Blake!


Okay, I just started the IF: Rooted study, and I'm seriously in love. It started last week, so it's not too late to join! Download the IF app to your phone, sign up for the emails, or head on over to their website. This study is basically getting back to the basics of studying our Bible by taking a very in-depth and practical look at Philippians. 


This one really requires very little commentary...but we picked up these $5.99 kids' aviators at H&M the other day, and I just die a little inside every time this little lady killer wears them. ;)


All right, last but not least, I leave you with vacation pictures. We got up to my parents' lake house this past weekend for the first time this summer, and it is seriously my happy place. No agenda, no routine, no stress, no make-up, no gym, very few showers...I just breathe there. We had a blast and cannot wait to go back in July!

Happy Summer, friends!

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