Tuesday, November 24, 2015

an unexpected surprise

Dear readers,

Where do I start? It has been 2 months since my last post/update. I have been wanting to post again, but, kept putting it off because I could not put into words what has been going on lately. It wasn't until recently that I even knew myself what has been evolving over the last 2 months. I will do my best to fill you in...

Since my last post, I thought I was in a place where I was completely surrendering my trust to The Lord during this adoption process. I believe I was there in my last post but, as usual, it is hard for my sinful heart to stay there. As things went silent for about 2 weeks, I found myself once again trying to take control by "doing" something. If I pray more, if I give up something (fast), If I serve more- then maybe The Lord will answer my prayer. The very next situation we got seemed absolutely perfect...we had a really good feeling that "this is it". We were so drawn to this particular birth mom and the baby she was carrying that we couldn't wait to hear her decision. My thoughts were, if we really pray for this and are "doing" everything right, then surely the Lord would allow this to be it. Funny thing is, it's not the "doing" that the Lord wants from me...it's my heart-my complete and utter dependence on Him. I was not doing that. I was depending on my actions, my thoughts, my prayers, in hopes that the Lord would hear. We were not chosen. I was devastated. I struggled with "why not". I struggled with "Is this ever going to happen". It's been 9 months of waiting. I cried for 2 days in disappointment...then it hit me! Why am I so upset? Why am I so consumed with adoption? -because I did not get what I wanted and what I thought would make me happy... because I was looking for this "yes" to be my joy. Then I cried some more because in that moment, The Lord "broke me" again and revealed to me that I was NOT trusting Him. I was NOT content because I was still trying to make things happen. I immediately felt the weight of what I was doing. I had gone back to saying " I am trusting the Lord to work this out" but in reality, I was not and I was being consumed by the idol that I had made of adoption. Praise to Jesus however, that He did not leave me there! Once again, He changed my way of thinking and I was no longer upset that we didn't get chosen; I was thankful that my Lord was still working on me and changing me into the person He created me to be...one who desires His will alone.
You see, I am learning time and time again what Sanctification really is. If you call yourself a believer, there is a moment in time that you "become saved"; however, the rest of your life is an ongoing process of growth and change to become more like Jesus. It usually comes with pain and hardships. It is a constant fight between sin and holiness. The Lord uses different circumstances to accomplish this change in us. For me, right now, my circumstance is adoption. 

Another week passes and there is silence again on the adoption front. I have been able to remain (with the help of the Lord) content. I was so rocked by the last one, that I seriously learned to "give it all to God" this time. The next situation we received, we were all in-except this time, I did not dwell on it. We really didn't think much about it at all after we notified our consultant that we were interested. We kept saying and believing, "if this is The Lord's will then we will hear a yes and that is that".

To our absolute surprise, we finally received that coveted phone call Sunday afternoon on November 8th. We had been chosen! We were matched to a birth mother who is expecting a baby girl in March. Ahhh! The Lord has been 100% faithful and generous to us and we could not be more thankful- not because we "got what we wanted", but because He showed us himself during this period of waiting and learning- even though it was a time of grief and difficulty.

Another important truth that I recently discovered is that just because we are matched, this is not the end. We are not finished and the Lord is not finished with me. Just because The Lord was gracious enough to grant this desire does not mean that I have arrived at what He is teaching me. There will always be something that the Father uses to draw His children in and when one circumstance closes, another will open. I thought the last 9 months were hard; that was only the beginning, the next few will be even more difficult as we wait the arrival of this little one and intertwine our lives with her birth parents. Even when she arrives, there is tragedy on the way-either for us or her biological parents. Adoption is costly and will continue to require complete and utter dependence on The Lord.

We are "over the moon" excited and especially thankful during this season; however, we know there is much to come and would love your continued prayers! We know that our hearts are tainted with sin. We will be tempted to believe that we are in control and can change and affect the outcome. Please, if you agree and believe what I have written in this blog, check in and remind us to believe it again!

Monday, September 21, 2015

unexpected changes

People ask us all the time "how is the adoption process going?" Our answer is often "well, there really isn't much to tell, we're still waiting". The truth is, there IS much to tell.  The answer may not be what everyone is looking for and most of the time, I can't even put in to words what is going on, but we do know that Phillip and I are daily being changed through this adoption process. Every day is either a struggle, a battle, a test or a victory in our thoughts and understanding of our calling to adopt.

For those of you who care to know, this blog post is more about the personal changes and convictions that I have been experiencing lately. I want to share the joy and struggles so that you have a better understanding of the whole process that comes with adoption.

Last week was the most difficult of times (for me) since we started in adoption. I'm pretty sure I experienced every form of emotion humanly possible in those 6 days. It all started on Monday with the email of a potential situation involving a "baby already born". We got a glimpse first hand on how fast everything could change...4 hours to be exact. That's how much time we had to make a decision that could potentially change our lives-all while I was working in the busy pediatric ER. Feelings of hope, excitement, uncertainty, anxiety and fear (in that order) consumed me. Thankfully, I have a partner that had the same feelings and so we made a decision that we felt we needed to make. It didn't stop there, however; over the next couple days I experienced news about babies born, babies on the way, baby showers and all of the emotions that come with that, including a constant reminder of what I desire but do not have. I have learned how to be joyful and broken-AT THE SAME TIME!

 I tell you all of this because I do not, by any means, think these turn-of-events were by coincidence. It is also not a coincidence that I am reading a book on "idols of the heart" and it is not a coincidence that last week the chapter was on "learning to desire God alone". Last week was intentional and I can look back and see the beauty and purpose of it all. The events last week were small "battles" that I needed to learn from in those moments. Those little "battles", with the help of the Spirit, showed me what I struggle with often in this process- my own desires. Desires are not a bad thing, they are a God-given part of our image to reflect God's image. Since the fall, these desires are now tainted by sin and so they are self-centered instead of God-centered. I have been battling against my own selfish desires. The battles this past week have caused me to ask myself "why are you anxious, why are you upset, why does this bother you? my answer is, "because I am focusing on my self and what I want to happen and how I want it to play out". Let me tell you, it is never easy to admit fault. It is not easy to be transparent, but you see, in my weakness, The Lord is made strong. He has shown me that I cannot control my circumstances but I can control my response.

The most beautiful reminder that came out of the craziness of last week was that these little "battles" are meant to point me to a bigger battle that has already been won. The perfect sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf. The life and death of Jesus Christ is sufficient for me. He perfectly fulfilled His Father's will and paid for all my failures. I finally understand what it means to say "Jesus is enough". If we never get a baby, if we never become parents, if nothing I desire comes to pass (no matter how good the desire might be)...knowing that I will spend eternity with Jesus who is the source and satisfaction of all happiness... is enough!

With this understanding, I can go to the baby showers, I can hear the birth announcements, I can answer the questions at work on "why I don't have kids yet" because having a child will not be my greatest joy...knowing Jesus is!!

 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sanctification through adoption

It has been awhile since I posted  an update to the blog on where we are in the process. For those of you following our story, I wanted to inform you that we are still in the wait; however, I'd like to be transparent for a minute and share what The Lord is doing while we wait!

For several months now, we have been receiving "situations" about potential birth mothers and baby that she is carrying. We receive these notifications by email from our consultant and the agencies that we are working with. These emails are very hard to read through as we learn the stories of these mothers and what brought them to the road of adoption. We then have to decide if we want to be a potential family for these birth mothers. Once we decide "yes", our family information book is given to them (along with several other families) for them to choose who best fits their desires. This ongoing process has been quite the learning experience for Phillip and I as God is revealing to us how He is sanctifying us on this journey.

I was telling a dear friend the other day how funny it is that we, as Christians, often ask God to make us more like Jesus, to work in us and change us to who He created us to be. Often times when those requests are answered, we find ourselves not liking the change...saying things like "this is too hard", "I don't want to go through this", "why can't my circumstances be different?", "why are you bringing me through this Lord?" - or am I the only one who does this? God is so merciful to us. Even when we doubt his goodness and when we can't see what He is doing, He continues to show us grace and reveal to us that He is ever present by teaching and changing the way we think. It has become so evident to us how much we like comfort. Comfort is familiar. Comfort is easy. Adoption is NOT comfortable. Truly following Christ is NOT comfortable! Oh, how we are learning what this means. We say we trust The Lord to bring this child into our lives, yet, we were finding ourselves looking for the comfortable situations...the easy ones where the mother's are perfect and living the way we think they should. We struggled with whether or not we were using wisdom in our decision making or lack of genuine trust in The Lord's providence. As we kept seeing so many situations that were "uncomfortable" and not considering them, we started to feel the conviction of The Spirit and ask ourselves "Is this right?", "Is this the point of adoption?" If we truly believe adoption to be a tangible example of the gospel, then our thought process must change. The gospel is not comfortable. God did not wait for us to be perfect before bringing us into His family. The gospel is redemption- loving the undesirable to the point of death. Adoption is redemption-buying back a life and quite possibly changing the life of a mother-this is the point and purpose of adoption- to reflect the gospel.

 We have been stewing over these truths lately. The Lord is graciously changing our thought process. We are being sanctified more and more as we continue through the adoption process. The Lord is causing us to depend entirely on Him. We have not been chosen for the easy situations. We are learning that maybe there is a reason for that! We have come to the place of resting in the Sovereignty of God which allows us to be more open to the uncomfortable situations. Sure, the birth mother who has been using Heroin throughout her pregnancy; the mother who doesn't know the birth father; or, the mother who has a mental health disorder that could be passed on to the baby are all fearful situations-they are not comfortable; however, we have been reminded that our King is still on the thrown! He is in control of our adoption and will give us whatever baby He has created and designed to become a Merritt according to His will-no matter the circumstances. It is in this knowledge that the Lord is sanctifying us to himself for. our. good. Praise be to God!

I borrowed this photo from a friend (Kaleigh Perry) and have it as the wallpaper on my phone- what a great reminder that our God knows all things: past, present and future!

 So, we have come to understand that we will walk through this adoption process and all that it involves until we reflect Christ and be who we are called to be- and even then, when we reach the end result we will look to whatever The Lord leads us to next that will continue to sanctify us to Himself until Christ returns.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

FUNdraiser Results

WOW!! I am still blown away as I write this blog to summarize an incredible day with a large group of incredible people!!

On Saturday, June 6th, we woke up and started our day at the ballpark around 7am. We returned home around 6pm exhausted, but, OVERWHELMED by the outcome of the kickball tournament! We had 10 teams enter into the tournament and a large group of volunteers help make this day a HUGE success! I want to first and foremost, thank again, ALL the people who had a hand in this event! We absolutely could not have done this without you! Those of you who helped in the planning (you know who you are), we thank The Lord for your friendships and giving hearts! We are blessed beyond measure to know each one of you! We will never be able to thank you enough so we ask the Lord to return to you the blessing you have so graciously given to us!

It has taken me several days just to process the events of the day! Before I get to the outcome raised, I want to share what I experienced and learned from this day! First, we were overjoyed with the love and support from our friends and family that showed up early to set up, who sat out in the heat all day, who worked to the point of exhaustion and even sat in the torrential downpour that occurred in the afternoon with out a single complaint or sign of bailing out- loyal rock stars!

 Here are just a handful of our wonderful volunteers at the end of the day

snow cones on a hot summer afternoon

concession stand

 The face painting was impressive! What talent she has!

We were so encouraged by the 10 teams who sacrificed their time to come out and support our cause! We were amazed to see so many people out on the fields duking it out for "tournament champ". People who haven't played kickball since the playground days, were out there giving it their best and the results were so fun to watch!

Planning a fundraiser is a lot like planning a wedding (for those of us who were brides); something is bound to not go as planned. I want to talk about the hiccups that we had because in those, God opened our eyes to His faithfulness and sovereignty. Everything happened that day exactly as it was supposed to. The food truck that was supposed to be out to feed everyone lunch had an unexpected family emergency and at last minute could not make it out. Here is the moment that we have a brief panic attack, but, our lovely support system jumped right on it with an on the fly plan B! We didn't have to do a thing! What a beautiful example of community! Lunch is covered, our players are able to get some food to re-energize for the remainder of the tournament...then the clouds roll in! We think, "this will just pass over"...wrong! It was a torrential down pour for about 30 minutes! The kids loved it, but for me, another panic attack! The fields are under water, everything is soaked, games over, there's no way we can still play on the fields, we won't have a winner...the discouraging thoughts kept coming as I stood by myself  guarding a speaker under the pavilion... and then out of nowhere, one of the guys walks over and says..."If we don't play another game today, this tournament was a huge success" you know what, he was exactly right! Thank you Lord for sending that reminder to me! I so needed to hear that in that exact moment! It's amazing to me, how the Lord works...as I was pondering the success of the day up until this point, the sun came out, the fields drained/absorbed a good bit of the water and some of the guys grabbed rakes and started preparing the fields for play again. Due to the delay, a few teams did have to exit early but enough remained to complete the tournament and so we DID! Praise God for those little reminders that He is in control of all things and we are not no matter how much we plan for things to happen! It could not have ended any better than it did!
CONGRATULATIONS to the undefeated tournament champions

Oh, and you probably want to know how we did in meeting our goal of $10,000 for this fundraiser...

With teams, sponsors, concessions, silent auction, face painting and donations we raised a total of...........

$9, 610

Amazing! Unbelievable!!! We could not be more excited and thankful! We want you all to know that YOU are contributing to bringing this baby into our lives...we don't know a name or have a face yet, but we KNOW, He/She is coming...

One last acknowledgement and  thank you to all of our sponsors!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Kickball time!!

 I talked a little in my last post about the average cost of adoption and the purpose for fundraising. I posted that I would share details of the fundraiser that we are planning and so, here it goes...

First, I'd like to share a little bit on the need for a fundraiser.
I read a post online from an adoptive family that was discouraged because someone had asked them why they felt others should give them money for their adoption, when it was their desire to adopt in the first place?...seemed like a harsh question at first...like a selfish question. Wow! how could they ask that? Truth is, it's a very honest question. Why should anyone give us money to help pay for our adoption; after all, we made the decision to do this, shouldn't we make sure we have the money first?

I want to answer these questions as follows- first of all, we believe The Lord will provide the monetary means for this adoption if it is in fact, His will that we adopt and we fully believe it is. This fundraiser is merely an opportunity  (we pray) that The Lord uses to show His faithfulness in giving us what is needed-through the means of His people. James 1:27 is not just a command to visit orphans in their time of need, it is a showing of true sacrificial christian love. Caring for the orphan may not mean that you physically bring one into your family, but, it may mean caring in the way of helping a family with the means to bring an orphan into their home.

Another example of the need for support in adoption is to imagine every couple that was to have a child had to pay "out of pocket" for everything...if that were the case, there wouldn't be many babies born...most people can't imagine that because they have insurance that covers everything; appointments, testing, and time off of work. Adoption doesn't come with an insurance plan or a payment plan. It all has to be paid in full. With every adoption, there is the potential to lose funds and not get them back- this money is labeled "at risk" costs. Our goal in this fundraiser is to raise enough that would cover this cost in the event that the birth mother changes her mind. To lose between $7-10,000 (which has been the average "at risk" cost), would devastate our efforts in the pursuit of adoption....and so the need to raise the funds. We are not just asking for your money, but your compassion for a child who needs a family and the love to help them get one!

There are so many ways to have a fundraiser. We wanted to come up with something fun and exiting that the whole family could enjoy. It's not just about receiving money, but about building relationships, laughing, eating, cheering, and some clean, healthy competition. We don't want a fundraiser where folks feel obligated to come and participate, but rather, where they would find joy in supporting the cause!

So as some of you already know, our fundraiser to raise awareness and support for our adoption is a...

 If you'd like to play, volunteer or just come out and watch or for more information and to sign up! visit our website at

See ya on the field!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Adoption update

So we are still waiting....

For all of our family and friends that are following our journey, I want to post an update on where we are and what we are doing! We are in the "waiting to be matched" phase. This means we are waiting for a birth mother (from the various agencies we have applied to and through contacts from our consultant) to choose us as adoptive parents for her child. This part is very challenging to us because we do come across situations that we have to prayerfully consider before agreeing to have our profile shown to a particular birth mother...in essence, we choose her and then she has to choose us back! We have many things to consider such as cost, drug exposure, continued contact with the birth mother, ect... When we agree to have our profile shown, we are committing to following through with the adoption if we are chosen. We have had our profile shown twice already; however, both times the birth mother chose another family that she connected with- and that is wonderful! We stand firm in our trust in the sovereignty of God that He will orchestrate how and when this child will come into our lives. We know that when the time is right, the mother that He already knows, will say Yes when viewing our profile! We find rest in that truth! We are so thankful to have friends that have traveled this road before us that can give us encouraging advice such as "we got several no's. It will be hard, but remember if it's a no, that's a greater blessing than you can fathom right now. It will only make sense when you have your baby in your arms"-From my dear friend Lilly
We are actually going to be presented (for the 3rd time) along with other families, on Friday 4/24 to a mother due in August. If we are chosen, we will absolutely be excited. If we are not chosen, we will say, like the times before "okay then, we just keep waiting". I don't say this to sound like we have this all figured out and make it sound like it's not difficult. It is a bit of a sting on our pride to hear we weren't chosen; Herein lies the battle, on one side our selfishness wants to say "why not us?, we would be good parents. what about our profile isn't good enough?" on the other side, we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are not in control of the situation and we can't make a mother choose us...only The Lord can do that and so we must trust and wait! It is not an understatement when people say adoption is a roller coaster of emotions! We have experienced joy, excitement, doubt, fear, disappointment, worry, peace and thankfulness in the few months we have been on this journey and we know all of these will continue until the adoption is complete and maybe even then?! We need you to help us along the way...to ask us how we are doing in the waiting, to ask us if we are trusting the Lord or struggling in unbelief and then pray with and for us when the answer is yes, to both!

In other news, while we wait, we are planning a fundraiser!! We met with some friends last night to talk about our vision and goals. It is not new to learn that adoption is expensive! There are so many costs that we just don't even think about. Most people think that birth mothers get paid to give up their baby...this is not true! This money does not go to them...at least not in the way you would think. I want to share with you all an example of average expenses and fees with domestic adoption through an agency...

Home study- $1000-$2000
Application- $250-$650 depending on agency
Agency Fees- $10,000-17,000
Legal Fees-$1000-$6000
Documentation & Authentication- $800-$1200
Interstate compact processing- $1250.00 (this is for when you adopt out of state)
Birth parent expenses- varies depending on the needs- this includes rent, food, transportation if needed ect (this is the category where the mother does get financial help, but it is living expenses for remainder of pregnancy and usually 1-2 months post delivery.  Avg.- $4,000-7,000
Average total- around $30,000

Why is adoption so expensive you might ask? well, the big chunk of money goes to the agency and we have to remember that the agencies are a ministry. Some of them may make a profit, most of them, this is their full time job, but these agencies are there to support women who want to give life to their unborn child. The agencies that we are working with are most concerned with the well being of these birth mothers. They are ministering to them, loving them, and guiding them through some difficult times. They need the resources to be able to minister to them well! As far as the other fees, there isn't much we can do to bypass paperwork, documents and legal fees.

...and so we have to find ways to raise money to be able to bring a baby into our family! More info on our fundraiser coming soon!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Still waiting, yet inching forward...

Wow! It has been several weeks since my last post! We have been in a waiting game for the past 2 months. Many of our friends and family have been asking where we are in the process and "how are things going?" My reply was often, "there isn't much to tell, just waiting on our home study report." While my nature wants to get frustrated at the time line and think "2 months is a long time to wait for just the written report", my heart reminds me that this process is not going to happen according to my timeline. From the time we finished our paperwork, this process is completely out of our hands. I can find rest in knowing that, but I battle my nature over wanting to hurry things along.

At this point in time, I can really see The Lord teaching us patience. Patience is a very difficult attribute to have in this day and age. We live in a world of fast pace. We speed to get from point A to point B (you all know you do it, even if it's only 5 over the speed limit), we get irritated if we wait more than 5 minutes in a shopping line, we even change our dinner plans if the restaurant we choose has too long a waiting line and don't get me started about sitting in a doctor's waiting room! Let's face it, human nature hates to "wait"! I say all of this to remind myself that impatience is a love for self and a lack of faith; at least in my situation. I am not believing that The Lord is in control of how and when we will bring a baby home. I am not believing that He has called us to adopt and He already knows how this story will play out. I am centered on my own selfish desire that I want things to happen now! -oh me of little faith! The good news though is that even when I find myself here, I am reminded of the gospel. I am reminded of my undoubted need for a Savior-to rescue me from myself. Jesus has done that very thing for me, and so I can admit my faults and rest in His completed work. This adoption journey is not just about receiving a baby, it is also teaching me about my identity and who I am as an adopted child of The King! This has been what's been going on in my heart during the last couple weeks on our journey. If you follow my blog, you will read the good and the bad.  I want to be open, honest and real with this experience.

Now for the good, our home study report is finished! We are picking up our copies today and can move forward. Our next step is to send out our family profiles and apply to a few recommended agencies.
 The waiting is not over, we are entering a new waiting phase- waiting to be chosen. I know the last 2 months were only preparing us for this next phase. Waiting to be chosen is going to be an emotional time and we can very easily fall back into our selfish nature of "wanting things to happen now". Our profile book (pictured above) will be shown to pregnant women who are wanting to make an adoption plan for their baby. Oh, how I have a heart for these women, their stories and their reason for adoption; no matter why they decide to do it, they are choosing life! We will be notified of when our profile is shown. We will also be notified of the answer that may often come as- NO. This time can be short or long. It is out of our hands and so we wait!

Monday, January 19, 2015

working in the waiting...

Well folks, the paperwork is done!!! Whew...so glad that is over with! The home study is just about complete. We had our final "in-home visit" last week and while it was a little nerve wrecking to sit and answer such detailed questions on the spot, overall, it went quite well! I have to brag on my dear husband for a minute- Tricia, our social worker, asked some very difficult questions and when I hesitated with an answer, there was Phillip stepping up with responses that had me smiling from ear to ear; not to mention, he even surprised the social worker. She often replied with "excellent answer"! I couldn't be more proud of how he rocked that interview! We are now waiting on Tricia to finish writing the study and then we enter the waiting period! 

 Since it was before Christmas that I posted last, I wanted to share some of the awesome gifts we received this year! We received our first items for baby Merritt- first outfit from our Colorado family and first book from a sweet new friend from work! Thank you so much Bryan & Carmen Merritt and Summer Dean for your thoughtfulness!

It is starting to get real that hopefully by Christmas 2015, we will have a new member of our family. This is a time of great anticipation! We are excited to see how The Lord works in bringing this child into our lives. We know that there is the potential for great heartache, but, also great joy! We are completely depending on our Sovereign Lord to work. If we depend on ourselves, we could not get through this and would fail miserably! The Lord has already provided so many resources in the many friends that have done this before us. They have loads of knowledge and advice to share! We also have a wonderful counselor in our consultant Susan, who is there to guide us step by step along the way. We are so thankful for these people in our lives that we can lean on when times get tough and who can relate in our joys!

As we enter this time of waiting, it is easy to get caught up in the "time"- Is it going to be short? Is it going to be long? How long? What if it is very long? It will be easy to become discontent and try on our own to do things our own way to speed things up. It will be easy to settle for what we may not be comfortable with because, well, "It's taking too long"; on the other hand, if the waiting period is short, it will be easy to get overwhelmed and worry that we are not prepared. These are all things that we struggle with because we are human and we are weak. I am thankful that our Lord knows that and He has given us His word to cling to in times like these!  Here are a few verses that we will have posted around our house to remind us of His great love and promises.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him...

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

The story of Hannah-1Samuel 1:27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.

*Side note- The title of my blog post comes from a song that is often in my thoughts and a song I refer to often when in need of encouragement. It you have never heard it, check out "Sovereign Over Us" by Aaron Keyes.

Until  next time...