Thanksgiving + giveaway winner

Thanksgiving feels different this year. We really thought last Thanksgiving would be the last without children in our home. The news out of Ferguson has me upset. I’m oscillating between joy and anticipation and a fair amount of sadness and stress.

But there are so many reasons to say “thank you” this year. So many. I won’t list them here, but I plan to recognize and consider and discuss them in the next few days. I hope you’re able to recognize some in your own life, and I hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving, too!

King of the Forest by Glenn Carroll

King of the Forest by Glenn Carroll

And, yes, the winner of the Minted giveaway! It’s Ilea! Congratulations!

determining and increasing trust in marriage

I thought I totally trusted Dan. And I thought he totally trusted me. Then we went to a marriage workshop and were handed a list of “check in” questions.

We got home. I already felt a little defensive. The workshop had brought up a few areas where I knew I was really not doing a stellar job.

We sat on the couch to go through the list. And what do you know, we couldn’t say “yes” to all of them. I thought we had trust figured out. Communication? Not so much. But trust? Yes, yes, yes.

increasing trust in marriage

While I’m not going to reveal the questions we each said “no” to, I do want to share some from the list.

+ Is there more unity, understanding, and love in your marriage than there has ever been?
+ Do you do the things you promise to do in the time you’ve promised?
+ Are you attentive to what your spouse sees as important?
+ Do you carry wrongs around with you, or do you trust one another to confront and confess?
+ Are you conscious of editing your words and withholding your feelings because you can’t trust your spouse to deal with them properly?
+ Do you say things to other people about your spouse that you haven’t communicated to him or her?
+ Are you comfortable with the vulnerability a good marriage involves?

We had a good discussion and figured out a few things that had been long-running issues. Not big issues, but issues that came up too frequently.

This past week, I read Daring Greatly. It was so timely and encouraging in terms of vulnerability and well, daring greatly. I didn’t expect trust to come up there, too, but it did in “sliding door” moments. 

The concept was explained by John Gottman, and it just makes so much sense.

What I’ve found through research is that trust is built in very small moments, which I call “sliding door” moments, after the movie Sliding Doors. In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner.

Let me give you an example of that from my own relationship. One night, I really wanted to finish a mystery novel. I thought I knew who the killer was, but I was anxious to find out. At one point in the night, I put the novel on my bedside and walked into the bathroom.

As I passed the mirror, I saw my wife’s face in the reflection, and she looked sad, brushing her hair. There was a sliding door moment.

I had a choice. I could sneak out of the bathroom and think, “I don’t want to deal with her sadness tonight, I want to read my novel.” But instead, because I’m a sensitive researcher of relationships, I decided to go into the bathroom. I took the brush from her hair and asked, “What’s the matter, baby?” And she told me why she was sad.

Now, at that moment, I was building trust; I was there for her. I was connecting with her rather than choosing to think only about what I wanted. These are the moments, we’ve discovered, that build trust.


Those questions + this passage have been on my mind frequently. And I never expect to master trust in my relationship with Dan, but I’m thankful for the ways my young little mind is being opened to the concept.

Have you considered the ways you can increase trust in your relationship? Do you think it’s important? 

there is beauty in risk t-shirts

There Is Beauty In Risk t-shirt

I’ve had a navy blue t-shirt for several years. I wear to bed and to the gym. It’s stretched and worn. The front of it reads “There Is Beauty In Risk.” 

For a long time I wore it without giving much thought to the quote on the front. But in the past year, I’ve really started to think about. I put it on and ask myself, Do I believe this? Do I feel this? Do I live this? Does what I know about the Gospel back this up? 

As we began to consider a concurrent adoption, I kept thinking about it. It feels risky. Emotionally risky and financially risky, mostly. I feel vulnerable.

And I realized those around me are feeling it, too. Friends committing to jobs in places they’ve never been or exploring fertility treatments for the first time or agreeing to serve in uncomfortable parts of the world.

There Is Beauty In Risk t-shirt

I contacted Light Gives Heat, the organization from which I bought my t-shirt, to see if they minded us using the quote on our own t-shirt design. I shared our story, and they very kindly sent us their original design to use.

We printed 50 shirts if various sizes. You can buy one for yourself or friends or family here.

There Is Beauty In Risk t-shirt

Do you believe there’s beauty in risk? 

grow in grace

I revisited She Reads Truth’s 1st and 2nd Peter study today.

As we make decisions and I grasp for direction and confidence from the Lord, this prayer is significant to me. I’ve read it over and over.


Dear Sisters in the faith, as you go forth, may you set your hope and your eyes fully on Jesus Christ and may His grace be yours in abundance.

May you love one another deeply from the heart, being sympathetic and compassionate.

May you humble yourself to others and to the Lord, so that He may lift you up.

May you cast all your fear and anxiety on Him, and may you feel His strong hands lifting the burdens from your shoulders.

May you remain set apart in your hearts, living according to your holy calling so that you may inherit His blessing, so that you may taste and see that He is oh so good.

May you be diligent, seeking to grow in the grace and knowledge of God and His Word, on guard against those who would peddle lies, and at peace as the daughter of the one King of Truth.  

May you live unto Him from now to eternity, and may you give Him the glory, always and forever. Amen and amen. 

She Reads Truth

favorite non-traditional Christmas cards from Minted + a giveaway!

favorite non-traditional Christmas cards from — little things + big stuff

Oh, Minted. I do love you. Especially your art prints and Christmas cards.

Since I have a strange, inexplicable opposition to too much red + green, I love a good, unique Christmas card. I’ve discovered some great options at Minted, and here are several of my favorite non-traditional Christmas cards!

Read through for a giveaway at the end. You could win credit for your own Christmas cards! (Because yes, I admit, they are hard to fit in the budget.)

neon mistletoe foil-pressed holiday card by moglea for Minted

neon mistletoe foil-pressed holiday card by moglea for Minted

spirited holiday christmas photo cards by the social type for Minted

spirited holiday christmas photo cards by the social type for Minted

merry and bright holiday non-photo cards by roxy for Minted

merry and bright holiday non-photo cards by roxy for Minted

oh what water color holiday postcards by ashley ottinger for Minted

oh what water color holiday postcards by ashley ottinger for Minted

bombolone christmas photo cards by chocomocacino for Minted

bombolone christmas photo cards by chocomocacino for Minted

holiday splashes holiday non-photo cards by four wet feet studio for Minted

holiday splashes holiday non-photo cards by four wet feet studio for Minted

sprinkled joy holiday photo cards by guess what? for Minted

sprinkled joy holiday photo cards by guess what? for Minted

snowy and bright christmas photo cards by hooray creative for Minted

snowy and bright christmas photo cards by hooray creative for Minted

folksy christmas papercut holiday non-photo cards by gakemi art+design for Minted

folksy christmas papercut holiday non-photo cards by gakemi art+design for Minted

abstract pinecone holiday photo cards by frooted design for Minted

abstract pinecone holiday photo cards by frooted design for Minted

So, which design is your favorite? Do you have another favorite not featured here? I will most definitely share our Christmas cards here once we have them!

Enter to win $150 in Minted credit using the widget below! One winner will be randomly chosen and verified. The winner will have 48 hours to respond after being contacted. Giveaway ends November 25th at 12:00a.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Affiliate links used. I received Minted credit for our own Christmas cards in exchange for sharing my very favorite cards. 

domestic adoption questions + answers

I think I’m still adjusting to our domestic adoption plans being public knowledge! It was a sweet time of prayer + closeness for me and Dan as we quietly considered the possibility and took the steps to get it rolling.

You might have a lot of questions. I do, too. The biggest one being: How and when is this going to happen, God? That one is yet to be decided.


But, a few things I can answer:

+ Are you doing foster care adoption or infant adoption?
Infant adoption right now. For several reasons, we aren’t a good fit for foster care adoption right now. But boy, it’s on my heart!

+ Where are you in the process?
We believe our home study will be approved this week. We have all the other paperwork squared away, which means we’ll be “active” very, very soon.

+ What agency are you using?
Just as with our international adoption, I won’t be blogging about this. I’m always happy to share privately, though! Nothing to hide… I just don’t like the idea of my entire blog and posts related to adoption being representative of an agency and all their clients’ experiences if the agency’s name is Google searched.

+ Will you be fundraising? 
Yes and no. We are extremely grateful for the huge support we’ve received for T + E’s adoption. Extremely grateful. We feel a bit uncomfortable immediately launching into that again. (Please know your support for our international adoption has gone straight to our expenses. Unless something big + unexpected comes up, we have everything in order for those remaining expenses! Praise God!)

We had shirts made with a quote that’s been significant to us lately, and we’re selling those. We’re also again applying for any grant we qualify for.

there is beauty in risk t-shirt for sale

We’re believing God will make a way for this. And that we won’t have to put ourselves in a situation that is financially unwise.

+ How will this affect your international adoption?
Our commitment to the boys has not changed. And I’d say it’s even intensified. Because we want to respect processes and parties involve in our adoptions, we will put our domestic adoption on hold immediately if we learn the boys’ homecoming is near and certain. We’ve love your prayers on this one. The process lately has been anything but certain, so we need a healthy dose of discernment only the Lord can provide on how to proceed at any give time.

We are mentally and physically preparing for all outcomes. I’ve made a lot of lists. And maybe had a breakdown in IKEA.

We have prayed over and over for the Lord to make us aware of the ways we are already equipped. We have told Him we know He won’t give us more than we can handle. And we know He meets all our needs.

So, there you have it. Do you sense a bit of nervousness in my “voice?” I am nervous. And there is beauty in risk

Come back tomorrow for a Minted store credit giveaway! And later this week for a more formal There Is Beauty In Risk t-shirt post! 

I also installed a new commenting system, Disqus. You may have to create an account initially, but after that you will stay logged in, and it will be much easier to comment.

adoption care package ideas

We recently sent our fourth care package to the 2.5-year-old boys we’re adopting from Central Africa. It’s become difficult to come up with new ideas for items to include. Though, on the other hand, it’s gotten a bit easier, because they’re big boys now.

adoption care package ideas for while you wait

Here are some of the adoption care package ideas we’ve used:

+ Baby photo album: Soft, plastic, and cute. Put photos of you, your family, and you home inside the photo album pockets with typed translations, if your little ones and their caregivers don’t read English.

+ Sandals: More easily “stretched” than solid shoes. Buy flip-flops at Old Navy or sandals at Target. Though their feet may hang off a bit eventually, they won’t be as painful as too-small shoes. Make sure you write down the size you send, so you can remember if they show up in pictures!

adoption care package ideas

+ Recordable book: A little pricy, perhaps, but worth it if you can spend the money to buy and send a recordable book. There are several that are very appropriate for adoptive families, as they naturally include stories about loved ones separated by a distance.

+ Recordable greeting card: More easily personalized! You may only have 10 seconds, but we had a lot of fun planning and recording our silly message. We sang part of a song we know our boys enjoy at the end of our recording. Found ours at Target.

adoption care package ideas

+ Clothes specific to your family, location, etc: “Big Sister” shirts or shirts with your city’s sports team or your alma mater. It works out as a sweet connection across a distance to see your child in clothes so personal to your family.

+ A hug: Lay down with your arms outstretched on an easel roll of paper. Trace and cut your paper hug! We wrote on these “mama’s hug” and “papa’s hug,” in the hopes it came off as sweet and not strange.

adoption care package idea: send a hug

+ Lovey: We bought a mouse and raccoon comfort blanket early on and slept with them for a couple months. While yes, I realize they probably lost our scent by the time they made it over, it was comforting for me to do.

What have you sent in care packages to the child you hope to adopt? 

Disclosure: Affiliate links used

adoption announcement: room for another

We’ve been quietly working on something for the last two months after praying about that same something for the last year or so.

There have been so many words in our minds.
There is beauty in risk.
We can do hard things.
He makes beautiful things.
He will meet our needs.
He will not give us more than we can handle.

We’ve started the process of a concurrent domestic adoption. 

concurrent international + domestic adoption announcement using maps + text

There is much I want to say, and I hope to slowly, thoughtfully, and genuinely share this story God is writing as it unfolds. 
As with the boys, I will not be sharing specific details that I believe are our child’s to share when and if he or she wants.

concurrent international + domestic adoption announcement using maps + text

We absolutely believe the boys will come home. We have room for another in our hearts. And we are excited to now be fully committed to expanding our family tree to include three children and two brave birth families. 

concurrent international + domestic adoption announcement using maps + text

We would be so grateful for your prayers as expectant moms consider us for their children!

70 percent excited and 30 percent nervous

My husband and I spend a lot of time together. Despite all this time together, I still ache for more conversation.

I love conversation. I think I could never get enough. I love the insights others make about my life. I love being challenged by questions I’ve never considered. I love hearing, “Is that true, or are you just saying it?” I love when Dan thinks hard to accurately describe his feelings. I love the way I can see his reeling mind through the expression on his face.

After a sweet cousin’s wedding in Virginia, we headed for a cabin in a tiny town in West Virginia. We went out for a nice dinner on the first night in town.

It was a romantic spot, and I couldn’t help but listen to the conversations of our couples there. One was on their honeymoon… They didn’t want dessert, because they had “tons of cake at home.” The other was celebrating their first wedding anniversary after being together for 13 years. They requested more spice be added to their food.

And then me and Dan? We are at a weighty point in our marriage. We’re having so much fun, but there’s still a bit of an ache for something different.

We want very much to grow our family. And we believe very much that adoption is the best plan for our family. As we consider growing our family and the growing pains that will come with that, we know we need to rely on the community God has given us. 

So we talked about our marriage and our desire to have children. We talked about the community we have here in Indianapolis and in other parts of the Midwest and on some parts of online. It was a frustrating conversation, really. Nothing is exactly how we want it to be, yet everything is exactly how God has arranged it to be. 

I usually have to prod Dan to get him about how he really feels. But he summed up his feelings on it all quite simply without my prompting.

“I’m 70 percent excited and 30 percent nervous,” he said, stabbing another toasted gnocchi. 

“Me too,” I said. “Ah, well… actually…  let’s go with 60/40.” I’ve always been the nervous one.


blog reader survey results

Thanks to all those who completed the blog reader survey here! It was helpful to heart what topics you’re interested and what you could go without. I love reading the results of surveys I’ve taken, so I figured you might, too.

little things + big stuff blog reader survey

So, the blog reader survey results: 

how old are you?
25 – 34 years old: 61%

18 – 24 years old: 25%
35 – 44 years old: 6%

when do you read blogs?
evening: 69%

morning: 58%
afternoon: 47%
lunch: 36%

what types of posts do you prefer to read here?
a mix of both stories + tips: 69%
anecdotal/stories: 28%
tips/guides: 3%

what topics do you most like to read about here?
our adoption: 81%
adoption + foster care (general): 78%
faith: 75%
marriage: 64%
home design + decor: 50%
health + fitness: 47%
travel: 44%
crafts + projects: 39%
fashion: 22%
product reviews: 22%

The other three questions were free response sorts of questions, and they confirmed most of the above questions. 

Again, thank you for filling out the survey and offering such kind words about this little blog. I will continue to post about the topics that interest you and me. And I’ll do it as honestly as I can! I’m grateful for the influence I have in all those who read what I write here and on other social media outlets.