Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Next Step

I have been a blogging slacker lately, but it's been because there's been nothing to write about really. Remember way back when I first posted about our attempts at becoming parents when I mentioned that, if I still wasn't pregnant by the time I went back to the doctor that we would start pursuing adoption as well? Obviously that time has come and gone, and while I haven't really posted a ton about that we have been looking into what our options might be.

 Although we love the idea of having an infant and going through all of those "firsts" we also are realists about the fact that lots of people who want to adopt want to adopt infants and the waiting lists are pretty long. However, we also know that there are lots of children in the world, and in fact in our own country, who are not infants but are still very much in need of loving parents. After lots of thought, prayer, and discussion we both felt that we were being led towards adoption through the foster care system. Neither of us feel that we have the gifts needed to serve as foster parents, but we recognize the importance of this program and the need of these children whose parents have had their rights terminated to have a permanent home and family that they can count on forever.

Despite the fact that there are lots of children who are waiting, there is still a somewhat involved process for adopting. Although there are moments when I am frustrated with the idea of waiting and want to scream "these babies have been waiting long enough!" I know that every step of the process is important both for them and for us so I have to keep reminding myself of that.

We have completed two of the ten weeks of Group Preparation and Selection (GPS) classes. Although not easy, GPS has already been a good, helpful, informative resource. It has been the source of a lot of good conversations both in and out of class. There have been a wide range of emotions we have both experienced and it has seemed very overwhelming at times. Still, we know it is necessary. There is a lot of paperwork and I mean A LOT. The bulk of it has been completed, but there's still plenty to stay on top of. The people who are teaching our classes have been very great and supportive and I think that by the time it's over we will be close to everyone in the classes with us.

I will say that working together on our autobiographies has been a really great experience for us as a couple. Sharing these stories, some of which we've told each other before and others we are only now sharing, has been an incredibly meaningful and intimate experience. No matter what is the result of this experience, I am thankful for the gifts it has already given me.

There is plenty more still to be done and I'm sure there will be lots of waiting and hoping and praying. But for now, we are taking it one day, one week, one step, one class at a time. And with each "to do" that gets crossed off the list, each class that is completed, and each piece of paper that is handed in, I know we are one step closer to our "forever family."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Five - Never Again

Today's Friday Five invites us to reflect on some things that maybe seemed like a good idea at the time but we aren't eager to repeat.

1. Whitewater Rafting - I went with a college group from my home church because the guy I was dating at the time enjoyed that kind of thing (which was probably my first mistake!) My boat got tipped pretty early on. Between the stories of how many ways you could die in the river (or just lose a limb), not being a really strong swimmer, and having the raft land on top of my head as soon as I surfaced, I was not happy. The fact that I had to stay in that blooming raft for another hour and a half to get to the end of the course was miserable and by the time we got to the end I had to CRAWL up to dry ground because my legs were shaking so badly I couldn't walk.

2. Goliath at Six Flags over Georgia - Hubby and I were offered free tickets to Six Flags along with his mom, aunt, and cousin. He isn't much for roller coasters but I kind of like them. He didn't want to ride much of anything, but his aunt mentioned that there was this one coaster that she actually liked so I eagerly went to ride it with her. I was not amused, mostly because it only had a lap bar that let my rear end leave my seat a little bit. I don't mind tall, fast, or even flipping upside down, but I want to be strapped so securely into my seat that I don't move AT ALL (and I also really want to have those handles on my chest that I can hold onto!)

3. Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World - I did it in high school with my friends because I was determined to try everything. I can now say I've done it and have no desire to do it again. I'm hesitant to say "never" because if we ever have a child that wants to do it, I'll have to be the one to go with them because goodness knows my loving husband won't! Maybe this is the perfect reason to bring my brother along!

4. Eating Scallops - I just can't stand the texture of them. I'm not a huge seafood fan anyway, but that's one thing I never have any desire to try again.

5. Snow Sports - My desire is still there to try stuff like skiing or ice skating again, but my poor, uncoordinated body apparently doesn't agree. Between busting my knee in high school from ice skating or almost knocking myself unconscious by hitting my head on a patch of ice while skiing, it's probably better if I simply sit and provide moral support for others!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Champy's Chicken - Alabaster

After what seemed like FOREVER (but really wasn't that long) staring at a "coming soon" sign in front of a restaurant that has been vacant for as long as we've lived here, Champy's finally opened on Monday. I had done a little digging online so I knew a little bit about it. My brother knew about them because they started in Chattanooga, which is where he went to high school and still has several friends so we knew. Jeff generally has a rule that he doesn't like to patronize a brand new place right after they open to give them a chance to get the kinks worked out. I understand, so I didn't give him a hard time about the opening of Champy's. I figured it would be at least a few weeks, but I was pleasantly surprised when he suggested it for dinner yesterday.

We headed in right about 5pm before things got too busy. The place wasn't empty, but it wasn't packed. We were greeted by several people and told to just have a seat wherever. We got menus and ordered our drinks. We thought about ordering an appetizer, especially since Jeff loves fried pickle spears and they aren't available many places,  but the price sort of scared us off. We agreed next time we will try some tamales, especially after hearing a waitress at another table say they can do a plate of 3 (even though the menu only says 6 and 12!)

For dinner, Jeff got a 3 piece white meat plate, which comes with beans, slaw, and white bread. I got a 4 piece chicken finger basket with fries. Why the chicken finger plate is 3 pieces and the basket is 4 is beyond my comprehension. The food was all very fresh and tasty. Jeff loved his beans and slaw and also had good things to say about my fries. I enjoyed the little bite of Jeff's chicken breast he shared also. We both enjoyed whatever kind of sauce came with the chicken finger basket, although I don't know if there are any other options because there was nothing on the menu and I was never given a choice of what kind of sauce I wanted. Next time I'll ask if they have something else! The Key Lime Pie for dessert was just ok. It wasn't bad, it was just a lot sweeter than what I would expect for key lime pie. I wouldn't order it again.

The service wasn't bad, but I definitely felt like our waitress was a little over-eager. We had barely had our dinner for five minutes (I hadn't even finished my first chicken finger!) when she was asking us if we wanted dessert. We ordered a slice of key lime pie and about 3 minutes after bringing the pie (still, less than halfway done with our dinner and hadn't even touched the pie) she was asking if we were ready for the check. Jeff just said "If you want to go ahead and bring it to us you can," and I ended up boxing up half my food, even though I wasn't really done eating, and just finished it at home.

If I have one big hang-up with this place, it's the use of so much disposable stuff, especially styrofoam. Normally I don't especially care. I'm not fundamentally opposed to styrofoam. I get that this is a casual place, but to me it seemed a bit excessive, especially for a table-service restaurant. Jeff and I have a theory that they put a piece of white bread UNDER the fried chicken to help soak up a little of the grease but to also keep the hot chicken from melting the plate! I don't care quite as much about pre-portioned sauce in little cups with lids, but I don't get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I get a slice of pie that's already sliced and in a little container with a lid because my general assumption is that it's been sitting for a while. I'd love to see them switch to even re-usable plastic cups and metal forks, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Yes, I am sure we will be returning. I could definitely see this being a good take out option for us and there are plenty of other things on the menu we still want to try!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Five - Resolution and Absolution

Today's Friday Five is all about the good intentions that seem to come with each year's "fresh start." For me, the summer is typically my time of the ending of something and the beginning of something else. Between 20 years of school and that schedule or the Conference year in the church that always started and ended in June, January was simply the chance to breathe after the chaos of Christmas and the midpoint of my year. But this year is different because this is the first year that I can remember when I haven't found myself and my life somewhat controlled by one of those schedules. There is something new and hopeful about this year and this time in my life. Here's hoping it sticks! So without further ado, my Friday Five.


1. Start by sharing your success stories with us: In the past, what resolution has been the most successful? What change have you made that has been the most beneficial, to your mood, health, finances, or other way of being in the world? As previously stated, January 1 has rarely represented much of a beginning to me, so resolutions haven't ever been a huge part of my life. A couple of years ago I started a list of 101 things in 101 weeks and while I accomplished a lot on my list, my most important learning came from NOT achieving my goal. 

2. What is one thing you hope to do differently this year in regards to health, either physical or spiritual? If you are satisfied with your current status in both areas, perhaps you would be willing to share something you have already done (or regularly do) to care for yourself? My resolutions this year all all about health in various forms, but the one I most want to do for myself is the physical, which is training for and running a 5k. Although not completely satisfied, one thing I do regularly to care for myself that is incredibly meaningful is a yoga class on Thursday nights. The small but devoted community has a special place in my heart and while the class itself is good for my body, the real benefit for me is the tea party we have at the end where we can all sit and talk and laugh and where my spirit is refreshed!

3. What is one thing you hope your family (of origin, of choice, however you define your primary place of mutual emotional sustenance) will do differently this year? A new tradition for birthdays? More vacation time? Game night? Feel free to really dream about ways to deepen your connections with those you love. Well, as stated in my other resolution list, I want to spend some time "unplugged" with my husband, but my real dream for my family for this year is that it will GROW! In addition to our journey through infertility testing and treatment, this month Jeff and I will begin taking the classes required to adopt a child with special needs from the foster care system. I am already praying daily (and have lots of people joining me in this) for the child or children that will be joining our family, but in addition to welcoming them into my heart, I'd love to welcome them into my arms! Feel free to add your prayers for all of us!

4. What is one thing you hope your community of faith will consider doing differently this year? New music? Different approaches to preaching? Rearranging the furniture? If you are in a position to introduce change, share some of your enthusiasm and/ or anxiety with us!  Since I am not currently a part of a community of faith, my big change will be to join one! I'm really excited about this one.


5. In what area would you most like to learn to be gentle with yourself? For what would you most like to forgive yourself? Share your ideas and strategies for extending yourself the kind of grace we know we are assured of. Honestly, I'm not really sure. If there is one area where I feel like I have really grown and improved in the past year or two, it's this area. I know I still take on the burden of guilt that isn't mine to bear, but it is much less often that it once was and I am not able to think of any one specific area where I need to allow myself a good deal more grace. Of course, check with me again once I am a mother and I'm sure that will change!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Each Drop Makes a Difference

This is the lake at Camp Sumatanga. Sumatanga has a special place in my heart for a lot of different reasons and it truly is holy ground. Last year the dam broke and the lake was empty. Finally, thanks to the wonderful gift of rain, it is filling up again.

As I look at this picture and reflect on the beauty and the celebration in its grey raininess, I can't help but thing about what an appropriate metaphor for my life (especially my spiritual life) this lake has been and continues to be.

It never stopped being "the lake". Even when it was dry. Even when it was empty. Even when it was walked on and those that were daring enough to explore its raw exposure had to tread carefully. It was still always the lake because we all knew that dry and empty was not the way it was going to stay. The core of its being, its identity, never changed. It couldn't be used in the same ways, but it had a beauty and a power and a value that could only be appreciated in its emptiness. A lot of people worked very hard so that it could be filled once again. But even when all that work was done, it still takes time to be filled. But each little drop of rain makes a difference, because each drop combines with all those other drops to get it one step closer to being filled once again.

I was empty. I was dry. I was in need of fixing. And even when that was done, I had to wait for the nourishing rains. I have to trust that every drop is making a difference. To remember that the gray is beautiful and remember with gratitude all of those who have made a difference. To be thankful for all of those who ventured into uncharted territory with me. Who braved my raw exposure to be present with me in a new way. To get closer than I had ever allowed them to be before. Who continued to honor and recognize who and what I am even though my presentation changed.

Like the lake, I am constantly changing. I am natural. I respond to the things happening within me and around me. I won't stay at a static level. I will probably go down again even after I am "full" but that's ok. Every drop makes a difference.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Resolutions

I haven't really done resolutions in the past. Last year I had my hands full with my 101 things list and I'm not about to undertake anything like that again anytime soon. I thought about doing a list of 13 things I wanted to do this year, but instead, I decided to use the model from Mama & Baby Love. She has a neat printable with these five categories if you are so inclined to use these and want to print and display them.

So without further ado, here are my resolutions for this year.

Physical Health: Run a 5K - Really, I'd like to make running a part of my regular life and routine, but I am also aware that there are enough options for things that are good for me that if I really hate this, I can find something else. I think training for and then running a 5k will be a good, realistic way to figure that out.

Mental Health: Read more - Specifically, read more books that are both interesting to me and educational. I do miss the learning that took place when I was in school and while a lot of learning is still happening around the Academy for Spiritual Formation, I am really craving more! I'd especially like to do some more reading in history, sociology, and maybe a little bit of process theology or systems theory.

Emotional Health: "Get away" one weekend a month - I know we don't have the time or money to go somewhere every month, but we do have the means to spend 24 hours focused on time together each month. I hope this also includes going to the lake more and also just spending time together talking and not being distracted by all the stuff that always needs to be done!

Spiritual Health: Find a church home - More than simply attending church regularly, I want to find us a place to plug in and build relationships. While the time away as a part of my "Season of Sabbath" has been incredibly important and healing, now I'm ready to really find a place for both myself and Jeff, and hopefully someday our future children.

Financial Health: Life Insurance - We are, for the most part, in a good place in terms of not having a ton of debt, having some savings, and even having some retirement. The one thing we don't have yet is life insurance. It was on the "when we have kids" list of things to do, but it's important and needs to be done no matter what.

I'm all for help and support in all of these areas so if you have any great ideas or simply words of support, I'd love to hear them! Here's to the best year yet!