adoption and my impatience


adoption and my impatience, photo by dominik martin


photo by dominik martin 

This post was originally titled “Adoption and Patience,” and then I was like, what? No. Who am I fooling? This is all about adoption and my impatience.

I am impatient. Very impatient. Choosing adoption as the primary means to grow our family has stirred this up over and over and over again. It’s been an interesting journey.

When we started an international adoption in May 2012, I wanted to ram through every step as quickly as possible. And it really worked for a while! We received a referral before we expected, we sailed through the first steps of court and getting a passport, and we began preparing a room for our sons. Of course it was all halted shortly after that, and I, spoiled from the smooth sailing, bucked against any sort of waiting.

There were absolutely days (months!) of depression and anger and the deepest impatience and disgust for waiting that I have ever experienced. I believed I could control when these boys would come into our home, and I believed I had made decisions that prevented it from happening already. There was a decision to not overnight some paperwork that still haunts me.

But, as a year and counting of waiting unfolded, I began to see the damage of my impatience. My mood was sour, and my husband was hurt by words I directed at him because I wasn’t brave enough to direct them at God. I began to accept that while many decisions in life are within my control, the result of those decisions are outside of my control. (And yes, I would do it all again knowing what I know now.)

So, I had mastered patience. Right?

And then we started a concurrent domestic adoption in September. And up sprouted the weeds of impatience I had worked to hack down. My impatience is magnified by the delicate timing of the situation we find ourselves in. But I also felt like I deserved an easy road at it this time. How easily I forget the family-growing journeys others are daily experiencing that are far more trying than my own.

We gathered our home study materials at lightning speed, having done this all before. We communicated our desire for a quick home study, and, for the most part, our social worker got it done. Okay, we’re approved, I thought, now surely we’ll get the call next week! You are laughing because you see the foolishness in this, aren’t you? It’s hard for me to accept that there’s still work He wants to do in the area of my patience. 

Through almost every wait I’ve experienced — the years-long waits down to the one-more-day waits — I can usually look back and see the purpose. This in itself is a mark of true growth since adoption became a thing that we are doing.

So, while we wait for what may be three children who may soon live in this home, I will accept that He has my best interests in mind. And He wants to see a more patient Natalie. And He delights in the extra time we have had to prepare our home and go on more dates and learn more about parenting adopted children and turn to Him in deeper pursuit than He’s seen from us. I’ll keep reminding myself of that.

an app for working at home + general productivity

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of WonderApps. All opinions are 100% mine.

Dan and I have been having many conversations about how we use our time lately. Perhaps these conversations were inspired by the days around the holidays in which we did a lot of the following: sleeping, watching tons of TV, playing Wii, reading, eating, and general “binking.” (Our term for wasting time in no specific fashion.) Perhaps these conversations were not inspired by those days. Just kidding, they definitely were.

He expressed interest in a time-tracking app when we talked about goals for the new year. I expressed interest in not adding another “thing” I feel I must do each day to be successful and productive. I do, however, need an app to track the time I spent working at home while still occasionally fitting in a round of Phase 10 or starting the laundry or taking our dog for a walk. Using a tracking app is the best way I’ve found to accurately track time spent working.

We recently discovered ATracker, a daily task and time tracking app from wonderapps, and it’s great for both kinds of uses. I see the total hours I spent on work projects, as well as the times of the day I worked. Dan can see how much time he spends in each category: at work (a lot!), how much time he spends with me (actually a lot, as well), and more. 

Do you use a time-tracking app for work? Or for general activities throughout your day?

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choosing expectancy

We had an opportunity to present our profile book to a woman making an adoption plan for her baby last week. I’ll keep the details vague, but we thought she was going to choose us, and then she decided to parent. This is great for her and great for her baby. This was not good for my emotions.

We had prayed nearly continuously since hearing about her. I’m learning a lot recently about how prayer is used to line our hearts up with God’s and not to tell Him exactly how you think things should go. I thought I felt peace about her decision going either way. And then suddenly I didn’t.

There are probably a lot of reasons. Our adopted-but-not-in-our-home sons were constantly on our minds and in our conversations during the couple of days we waited to hear what would happen. I missed them hard. And I was disappointed that God continues to delay some degree of certainty in our lives. (Reality? He has given us much certainty! He is always constant among a lifetime of uncertain circumstances.)

The biggest thing was that my struggle to remain realistic yet expectant was stirred up again. I can be rather negative and critical. It’s true! And it’s not attractive or pleasing to God.

Because of the other side of the spectrum, I heard about a baby born in a city I love to a woman whose name is important to our family, and I believed she would be part of our family. I imagined the scramble to book somewhere to say and the drive to meet them and the words I would express to this woman I wanted to know better and the experience of holding our child for the first time with nurses and a social worker looking on.

Maybe it was wrong to think all that. Maybe it was right? Either way, I was let down.

I want very much to find a good spot of hopeful realism and total expectancy that God is about to do something great. I haven’t managed it yet. And knowing that God’s always doing something great and that great does not always mean me getting what I want? That is hard for me.

My one word for 2015 is “expectant.” Because on the spectrum of foreboding to expectant, I really think I’d rather be expectant and let down than foreboding and never feel the height of joy He has prepared for me.


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celebrate the little things banner


banner from Urban Bird & Co.


On a whim, I signed up for a little blogger Christmas gift exchange — The Great Christmas Exchange. I loved scouring my match’s blog for clues about what she would most enjoy. And I was seriously delighted to receive my gift in the mail from Olya!

This little banner from Urban Bird & Co. has been on my Etsy wish list for a few years! The timing of this gift was perfect.

Never has celebrating the little things been more important to us. My temptation is to, of course, lament that the big things I’ve so desperately wanted that haven’t happened. But I can’t stay down for too long when I consider the other little joys I get to experience on a daily basis.


banner from Urban Bird & Co.



We celebrated our domestic adoption home study being completed by going to one of our favorite food + drink spots. We celebrated New Years at home an hour after Dan was off work with cupcakes and paper hats I printed and made a few hours before. We celebrate Dan’s days off work by too many hours of The Taste, Phase 10, and Wii. It’s a joy to be able to work at home. It’s a joy to simply have a home I love!

The banner hangs above the key hook mirror inside our front door. I see it while I sit on the couch and when I go out the front door. This sweet sentiment has meant much to me. 


banner from Urban Bird & Co.


good riddance



Nighttime Sky by Shirley Lin Schneider




Nighttime Sky by Shirley Lin Schneider

One night in November, Dan and I had tears in our eyes laughing about what our 2014 year in review would look like if we typed it up as we did last year

January: We are absolutely certain our adopted sons will come home this year

March: An ER trip due to a “migraine” ends in a tumor diagnosis and brain surgery for Natalie

Also March: Traumatized by being away from us, Oscar starts pooping in the house again

April: Now Natalie’s mom has a brain tumor

June: We eat a lot of fast food and spend a lot of time a) watching TV or b) laying at the Y pool instead of working out

July: On a layover in Baltimore, Natalie freaks out, convinced our plane will crash, and suggests we drive to Maine (It did not, and we did not)

September: Everyone thinks our children will come home this month, but they do not

November: We gain back nearly all the weight we lost doing Whole 30

December: Oscar is still pooping in the house, and our sons are still not home

So, yeah, no traditional year in review timeline in the mail or on my blog this year. This year was so not ideal, I was attempted to deviate from the traditional homemade HAPPY NEW YEAR banner for a GOOD RIDDANCE banner.

And goodness gracious, I’m just not in to talking about goals anymore. Blog five times a week? Make more money? Train for a marathon? Cook farm-to-table meals for my family? (I’m a little feisty today. I just cleaned up another dog poop in the house incident.)

I want to just live deeply and expectantly this year. It’s going to be a day in, day out, ever-evolving mission. It will likely be tripped up by challenges not even yet on my radar. And still, still He is good. And still I have so much joy about this past year and the year to come. 

So, Happy New Year? Good Riddance? I don’t know. But at least it’s now 2015.

merry Christmas

We finally landed on this card design from Minted, Happy Snowfall by Frooted Design. The picture is a film camera selfie from the snow storm that hit us in January of this year, but it was too good to not use.

I’ll be taking a break from posting until next year to enjoy unplugged time with this sweet husband, family, and friends! Hoping you enjoy this time, too! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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Disclosure: Affiliate links used

our 2014 ornament: an arrow


buy a new ornament each year to represent the past year


The only Christmas tradition we’ve stuck with so far is our ornament tradition. We buy one ornament each year to represent the past year. 

Shortly after deciding to get approved for a domestic adoption and long after we’d worked hard to make progress getting our internationally adopted sons home, we took a trip to Chicago to see Damien Rice. We stopped at the Crate & Barrel and Land of Nod Outlets there, two favorite spots of ours. We walked through Land of Nod but just couldn’t justify buying anything more for these three children not yet in our home.

We went to Crate & Barrel next, and I wandered the aisles separate from Dan. We weren’t yet considering our ornament for the year, but I found a small container of ornaments in the Christmas aisle. All the ornaments were light blue wooden feathers, except for one… a bright orange tipped arrow. 

The metaphor from Psalms of arrows in a warrior’s quiver as children from God has been significant to us. The Scripture heading for Psalm 127 is commonly “Unless the Lord Builds.” And we have believed all along that He will build our family when and how He sees fit despite all of our striving and planning and aching and longing.

2014 has been a year of much work on God’s part. We passed a huge milestone in our international adoption process in February, and we spent significant time advocating for our sons through contacts with various government entities. We prayed throughout the year about starting the domestic adoption process, and we took the steps to be approved in October.

Despite all this, we’re looking at another Christmas without these sweet children — two we know and one we don’t — in our home. But we have so much hope! We trust He will bring them into our home not one day before or one day after He has planned. We can relax in this truth, and we can remain excited to see how He will fill our quiver with arrows.

So, I found Dan in the aisles of the Crate & Barrel Outlet to say, “Dan, I think this is our ornament for this year.” He nodded and smiled. This Christmas our 2014 ornament hangs bright toward the top of our tree.

Read about the previous years’ ornaments here.

anchored hope devotions for adoption


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Anchored Hope is an online daily devotional community for adoptive and waiting adoptive parents. I was asked to consider contributing to it once a week. And I was really uncertain at first.

I do not feel directly teaching God’s truths is a strength of mine. I enjoy sharing what I’m learning through telling daily experiences as a wife, friend, daughter, and waiting adoptive mother. Like telling a story and intertwining a bit of the Gospel. But this direct teaching on a theme with Scripture included is not easy for me.

I worry that I will somehow become a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” I worry that I will misunderstand Scripture or minimize the glory of God’s Word. 

Despite this knowledge, I’ve felt challenged to teach more. To directly teach and not rely on my own interpretation of my experiences with a little bit of Jesus added in. So I agreed. And I’m honored to get to encourage others in this way. It’s been an excellent challenge for me to consider a topic of Scripture and write something life-giving for others to read.

Here’s a bit from today’s devotional, inspired by Isaiah 43:18-19

The path to the adoption of our sons was clear at the start. We took easy steps forward, and we delighted to see certain milestones reached more quickly than we expected. We believed they would be in our home soon after their first birthday. Then we reached the edge of the wilderness. We took difficult, staggering steps forward to only find the next step blocked.


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Follow along with the Anchored Hope community on Facebook and Instagram

3-year anniversary

Three years. It feels like forever in some regards and yesterday in others.

I just reread our vows. Woof. This year was certainly a year of looking to Christ to bind us together despite bad circumstances (adoption struggles!) and sickness (brain tumor!). And while it may seem the focus has been on those specific experiences, there’s been a lot of really, really good, too. The getting-to-know-you-even-better and the understanding-what-makes-you-tick and the learning-to-increase-the-trust-we-already-have and the let’s-just-have-fun and the making-big-decisions-that-teach-us-how-big-God-is.

We still talk about our honeymoon weekly. And how glad my don’t-look-at-me self was to not walk down the stairs of our ceremony venue. Beyond that, our focus after that day has been on the adventure of the days, months, and years after.



art gallery wedding ceremony, photo by We Are the Parsons



art gallery wedding ceremony, photo by We Are the Parsons



Our anniversary comes between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we’re naturally in a mindset of reflection.
These November and December months are two of my favorites, as we celebrate love and family and commitment and Christ. We continue to strive to put Him at the very center of all we do.



art gallery wedding ceremony, photo by We Are the Parsons



We decided to skip gifts this year to buy an anniversary journal.
It’s really beautiful, and I’m looking forward to sitting down with Dan to talk through our yearly check-in questions and record this year’s memories — good and bad — in the journal.


art gallery wedding ceremony with thrown craft pom pons, photo by We Are the Parsons



It will be simple. And that’s just fine. It’s been quite the year with this husby I love.

in-between motherhood and a hope in Christ



Spring Fern and Flowers by Hadley Hutton



Spring Fern and Flower by Hadley Hutton

We feel a little sorry for our complicated feelings and family status. But should we be? We wish you had first-hand experience with these feelings. We wish we had first-hand experience with what it feels like to have a child who is legally, permanently in your family.

We long for that. We long for an easy answer to the are-you-a-mother question. [more]

Our days and years will likely be spent longing and desiring and waiting and wishing. For me, it seems embedded in the core of who I am. It seems to be part of this bit of me that charges forward and refuses to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically stuck year after year.

But we have hope. A Hope. A Lord who has come and will come again.

As in-between moms and daughters of Christ, He takes us out of the in-between. We may be in-between not-mother and mother status, but we are fully and completely a child of God. And our needs are met in Him. Every single need He meets.

So, while we may feel turmoil in our hearts over the children we just can’t seem to get into our families, our hearts are bare for Him to work. And while I really believe we may not understand the purpose to a lot of hurtful experiences on this side of heaven, a new day will dawn and He will make all things new.

Be here now. Trust and believe. We share in your doubting and longing and waiting.