Calling It Like It Is

Can I just be brutally honest for a second? We’re tired. We’re really tired and we’re hurting. We’re nearing the four-year mark since we started this crazy journey called adoption. And, while neither of us would trade our experiences or the way God has so graciously grown us through them—we’re still tired. And tired of hurting.

It feels like we’ve been running loops on a track. Only, while everyone else is zipping by in fine form, we’ve got 100-pound weights strapped to our ankles and are literally inching along….or sometimes not moving at all.

Some of the other runners on the track probably glance at us thinking, “What is wrong with them?” Or… “Why aren’t they moving any faster?”

But we just smile and wave as though all is well. And, when a few runners do stop to ask how we’re really doing, we’ve got tons of replies at the ready:

“Weights? What weights? Oh! These little things? We can hardly feel them.”

Or, “Oh! We put these on on purpose. You know what they say, ‘If it ain’t tough, it’s not worth doing!'”

Or even, “Well, yeah these weights are heavy, but look at how much stronger our legs are getting! That’s good, isn’t it?”

It’s laughable, really. We’re trying to make others feel better about our situation, when all we want to do is scream at the other runners to stop lapping us.

“You don’t get to move on with your life! We don’t have a kid yet!”

“How dare you have joy when all I can see is pain!”

Or my favorite, “You’re not even doing life right—how can things be going so well for you?!!”

I wish I could say we don’t think those things. I really do. But the truth is, this gnawing, aching pain—the kind that never really goes away—we let it dictate our thoughts and attitudes far too often.

Yeah, we’ve been waiting a long time for our kiddo, but that doesn’t give us any right to grow bitter. God sure doesn’t owe us anything. And He really should be more than enough—baby or no baby.

So, to our friends who have kids and to our friends who are pregnant, we love you more than we can say. And we’re not mad at you. In fact, we’re overjoyed for your sweet families. But sometimes, joy and pain come together. And for us, at least for the past four years, it’s been kind of a mixed bag like that. But it doesn’t mean we want to stop being your friends—just the opposite. :)

Can I tell you one last thing? We serve such a good God. He cares about our pain—about the details of our lives. So, no, I’m not in the most cheerful of places right now—but He’s there with me. And I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Thanks for following our journey. We love you guys.

Been a while…

Wow, friends! It’s been four long months since I last posted. Forgive the silence—life has been a little crazy over here. But, isn’t it always?

Anyhow, let me catch you up! We entered the summer with training hours on the brain. Our agency requires us to fulfill 12 hours of adoption/parenting training each year to stay certified. So, we were busy signing up for classes when we got an interesting phone call in June. An expectant mother had seen our profile and wanted to meet us! We were beyond ecstatic, and drove to meet with her and our social worker two days later. It went well, and she decided to move forward with placing with us. She was due in mid-July, so we were scrambling to prepare for our expanding family.

After a few weeks went by, we created a hospital plan with this mother—and were just waiting for the call that would tell us to head to the hospital. On a Monday morning, my phone rang. It was the social worker and my heart started racing. “This could be it!” I thought. Instead of hearing the order to head to the hospital, we got the heartbreaking news that this mother had decided not to place with us. In some ways we were shocked, and in others, relieved. It had been an emotional few weeks to say the least. And, we were nervous that we’d get to the hospital only to find out that she couldn’t bring herself to sign the papers to make it all official.

Before you jump to conclusions about this woman, let me just say that the love she had as a mother was incredible. But the idea of leaving the hospital empty-handed was just tearing her apart. In the few short weeks I got to know her, I gained a profound respect for the decision birth parents make when they choose adoption. It’s one of the most selfless acts I can imagine—they choose to not only give life to this little person by carrying the pregnancy, but they also choose a better life for that child than they believe they can offer on their own.

All this to say, we’re back on the waiting list. We haven’t “lost” our place in line. :) And, we’re trying to patiently wait for our sweet baby. Some days have been easier than others. Some days I just need a few minutes to cry in the shower or to pray as I rock in our nursery’s glider. And that’s okay. Most days our kiddo seems pretty theoretical. But I’m so glad we serve a God who’s anything but that. Thanks for trusting Him with us—trusting that He cares for us, He sees our pain, and He loves us more than we can imagine.

Oh, I’m also getting mighty close to that dentist appointment I told you about back in May. We’ll see how I do that day. :)

It’s Just a Reminder Card

“How does November 4 sound?” My mind flashed forward six months. Would we have met our sweet baby by then? Would I finally be a mom, again? November seemed so far away, and yet, I panicked thinking it could very well come and go with no sign of our little one.

“Ma’am?” I jerked back to the present, noticing again the details of the dentist office around me. The receptionist was staring at me quizzically. Poor thing—I must have been spacing out for several moments.

“November 4 is great,” I responded, maybe a little too brightly. She smiled and filled in the date on my reminder card. “We’ll see you then!” she said, handing it to me.

“I sort of hope you don’t,” I thought to myself as I headed for my car.

Sadly, some version of this conversation has replayed in my mind at each dentist appointment since we started our adoption process 3.5 years ago. For some reason, picking a date six months out makes my mind do jumpy things. I used to think at every appointment, “Surely, this will be my last one sans baby.” But, the next appointment would come and go just the same.

So, I’ve tried to turn off this broken record of sorts, but something about going to the dentist turns it right back on every time. I’m officially declaring these appointments a trigger for this momma-to-be, and possibly one of the few forms of legal torture left in society.

I’m also choosing to trust God and His timing instead of letting a little blue reminder card with random date on it continue to make me anxious.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Mapping It Out

I’ve been fascinated by maps since I was a kid. I would trace the detailed lines, reading all of the city and town names over and over and wondering what it must be like to live there. I also grew up loving to hear the backstories behind people and places. I read as many history books as I could get my hands on, too (and, in my house, that was quite a few). In college, I took a StrengthsFinder test and found out that, lo and behold, context was one of my top three strengths. I felt validated, like I could say to all the map and history book haters, “I’m not a nerd; I just have context.” So, since our baby will have a map-loving mommy, I thought I’d give a nod to cartography in our sweet little nursery.

I found a map of the Southern California coast with the goal of marking all the spots we’ve been to so far, adding new pins for places we take our baby. But, with plans to hang this map over the crib, I thought pushpins and babies might not go so well together. So, I changed course and decided to protect the map with acrylic in a frame. I recruited my dad to help, and we soon had the mitered pieces of wood drying in nifty corner clamps.

IMG_2948I tried to create a weathered look by staining the wood and dry brushing grey paint over the top. I was left with this:

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I decided that wasn’t exactly the look I was hoping for, so we decided to spray paint the frame white and sand it down.

IMG_2960We were left with this subtle weathered look that I think pairs beautifully with the neutral tones in the nursery.

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IMG_2977This map-loving mommy-to-be is in love. We made sure to use several wall anchors to hang it, and plan to secure it further by adding velcro command strips to the back so our kiddo can’t reach out and pull it away from the wall when he or she is a little older. Here’s a sneak peak at how part of the room is shaping up with our striped rug.

IMG_2980We still have a few things to pick up, including a crib sheet and curtains, but we really feel we turned a corner of sorts in our nursery with this project. We’re excited to point out all the places mommy and daddy have been, and even where we got engaged (Catalina) to our baby. I’m also hoping that, eventually, he or she will love retracing the lines and staring at it for hours like mommy did as a little girl.

And, for those of you who have been asking about where we stand in the adoption process—we’re still on the waiting list. But we’re hopeful that God will bring our little one to us soon. Although, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that we can trust His timing.

Keeping It Real

I love working on our sweet nursery, but, if I’m honest, there are days when it feels like I’m just decorating a random room—one that won’t actually be used. I have a vision of how I’d love the space to look when complete, but strangely, that vision doesn’t always include a real human occupant. I’ve shared before that this road to adoption, which is going on 3.5 years for us, can feel highly theoretical at times…okay, a lot of the time. We have to remind ourselves that there will be an end to our waiting, and that end will include a precious baby whom God has chosen for us.

So, to keep the idea of our baby real, I’ll sometimes wander the baby aisles at Target. I don’t actually spend much time in the baby gear and clothing sections though. I guess it’s because we have a lot of that at home, and that stuff doesn’t necessarily equate a real baby in my mind. Rather, I’ll peruse the aisles full of diapers, creams and ointments, and formula. For some reason, these bring me back to the eventual day-to-day reality that is coming—days full of diaper changes, baths and baby lotion, and late-night feedings.

The other day I found myself in Target by myself (yes, every woman’s dream), and I found myself wandering toward the baby section. My heart was feeling particularly heavy that morning with waiting and uncertainty. So, I began to pray as I wound my way through the aisles. “Lord, would you protect our sweet baby? Would you give his or her birth mom Your peace? Would you calm my anxious heart and help me trust You in this time?” Slowly, the ache in my heart began to fade, replaced by His peace. I looked up and realized I had stopped in the bath aisle. I also realized that we don’t actually have anything to bathe our little one with when he or she arrives. “There’s no reason I can’t pick something up now,” I thought. So I did. As I placed the items in my cart, items we will one day, hopefully not too long from now, use for our little one, our sweet baby felt more real than he or she has in a very long time.

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The great thing was, as Zach was helping me put away what I had bought, he didn’t even bat an eye at my baby purchase. Instead he said, “Oh, cool! These will be helpful when our kiddo comes.” I love that man. So, we’re continuing our wait, only now more equipped to bathe our sweet baby when he or she arrives. We would appreciate your prayers for our little one, his or her birth mom, and for us as we wait for those nighttime baths to be our new reality. Thanks for your support on this road of ours.

More Nursery Progress

I apologize for the sporadic posts so far this year. Life has been a little crazy around here, but I’m back to share more of the progress we’ve made in our nursery. We actually have several projects in progress for our baby’s room, so you’ll likely see a number of nursery-related posts in the weeks to come as we finish those.

Like any mama-to-be, I’ve been scouring the land of Pinterest for nursery ideas and inspiration. I started by pinning adorable boy and girl rooms, but realized we’ll ultimately need something more gender-neutral since we don’t know if God has a baby boy or girl for us. In those pinning sessions (which I’ll admit have happened far too often), I kept seeing super cute wall-mounted bookshelves. Folks had used picture ledges to hold and display children’s books in their nurseries. Not wanting to purchase anything I didn’t have to, I thought, “I can totally make those.” I should know by now that when I say I can make something, it usually means: I have an amazing dad who is willing to spend a day (or two, or three) in his workshop with me doing most of the work while I watch and help a little.

So, a few days later, after a phone call to my dad, I was on my way over to his house to make shelves for our nursery. I looked up the dimensions of several picture ledges sold online and we used those as a rough guide for our own. First, we cut the wood down to size.

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Next, we screwed together the three pieces that made up each shelf. We had cut enough wood to create five shelves.

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After drilling holes to mount the shelves onto the wall, we gave each shelf a few coats of white paint:

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The picture above also gives you a sneak peek at our new rug for the nursery. Zach will tell you he thought I was crazy for wanting to put a rug over carpet, but he was willing to give it a shot. We still have to pick up a proper rug pad to keep it in place, but Zach’s definitely a fan of the new stripe action.

We haven’t mounted the shelves yet because I’m waiting until a couple of other items are in place to be sure everything is spaced evenly, but the idea will be to mount a couple of the shelves at child height, so our little one can grab a book and go to town whenever he or she wants. Reading was huge for Zach and I as kids, and this fun project is a simple way we can make books accessible for our baby-to-be. To give you an idea of what the shelves will look like when in use, I staged these shots:

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We can’t wait to share more photos of our progress in our little one’s room! Thanks for continuing to follow our journey. We’re so grateful for your love and support.

Dusting

Hello! Long time no post, eh? Let’s catch up a bit. After God so graciously allowed us to reach our $25,000 fundraising goal this past November, we were able to enjoy the holidays with our families. I can’t begin to explain the joy and peace we have felt knowing that God so beautifully provided all of our adoption funds. So when people have asked how things are going, we can’t help but say, “Great!” We’ve been officially certified and on the waiting list for a little more than six months now. Average wait times can be a year or even longer before some families are matched, so we’re trying to just enjoy the time we have together before our little one arrives.

If I’m honest, we’ve been pretty busy, so the past few months have flown by. Some weeks it’s been all I can do to meet my deadlines and keep our house in working order (this does not mean clean, mind you). And while we try to pray for our sweet baby boy or girl each night before bed, one other activity has helped remind me to trust in God’s timing in all of this: dusting. Yeah, that’s not a typo, and yes, it’s one of my least favorite chores, too. I tend to try to do it really quickly, which does not garner great results. Sometimes I see if I can just dust around things. You know how it is…well, if I don’t move those books, who would possibly be able to see the dust on or under them?

While I employ this half-hearted technique throughout the rest of the house, when I reach the nursery, I somehow always pause. I slow down and look around me. I think of how many months I’ve dusted an empty room…waiting…praying for the occupant to arrive soon. Wondering what he or she will look like. Trusting that, just as I faithfully wipe the layers of dust from my empty crib, God is faithfully meeting me where I’m at, lovingly changing me through this journey. I move to the dresser, thinking of all the horrible diaper changes to come and continue praying, “God, would You watch over my precious baby? Would You be faithful in caring for him or her? Would you help me trust You no matter how many more times I have to dust this empty room?”

The awesome part is I know God will be faithful because He’s already shown Himself to be exactly that. So, I’ll keep dusting and praying as we wait for sweet Baby Linton. Thank you praying with me and for our little one while I dust. :)

A Beautiful Story

Life for the Lintons has felt pretty surreal the past couple weeks. Let me tell you why: We met our fundraising goal!! That’s right, every single, solitary dollar of our $25,000 adoption is paid for. We still can’t believe it. Not a cent stands between us and being able to afford our adoption. And it’s all by God’s grace through the generosity of our friends, family, and their communities. We can’t tell you how many days we went to the mailbox, only to return with tears of joy as we held heartfelt notes with gifts attached. Or how many times we were humbled by old friends and people we didn’t even know as they extended financial support our way.

When we began to consider private adoption, the biggest hurdle for both of us was the cost. It felt insurmountable, unattainable, even crazy to think that we could come up with that amount of money. And yet, here we are, not even six full months after we started down the private adoption road, and our fees are paid in full.

To those of you who contributed to our fund—thank you. To those of you who donated items to our rummage sales and clothing drive—thank you. To those of you bought t-shirts, jewelry, or shopped our rummage sales—thank you. To those of you who shared our story with others—thank you. And to those of you who prayed with and for us—thank you. We could not have done this without each of you.

When I think about what my baby’s story will be, I can’t help but smile. It’s a story of long waits, heartache, and unknowns. But, it’s also a story of God deepening our love for Him and for this child through the wait, of Him changing our hearts through the pain, and helping us to trust Him through the unknowns. It’s a story of what should of been an end turning into a new beginning. It’s a story of hurdles that were too high and of challenges too great. But it’s also a story of God’s people coming together, prompted by Him to help us not just get past the hurdles and challenges, but to sail high above them. Can you see it? This sweet baby, loved and known by God since before he or she was formed, will know that he or she was loved and wanted by family, friends, and hundreds of others, all of whom gave what they could so we could bring our little boy or girl to their forever home. What a beautiful story. What an incredible God we serve.

Now, we continue to wait, trusting God for His timing and hoping that He’ll allow us to hold our precious baby before too long. We’ll continue to keep you posted on our adoption journey and on our thoughts along the way. And we cannot say it enough, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you so, so much.

Nursery Progress

Part of entering the adoption process for the second time after losing our foster son has involved cherishing the memories we had with that precious boy while preparing our hearts and the nursery for our baby-to-be. I LOVED that we did our foster son’s room in a cool-nerd spaceship theme.
Nursery BeforeBut, since he left our family, those spaceships (while still incredibly cool and nerdy) have been a painful reminder of him. I see the tiny spaceship print on the crib sheet and am immediately reminded of the countless times I layed him down to sleep. Well, it was more of a rock him gently, carefully put him down, and run out of the room praying technique that I employed.

All this to say, we’ve been undertaking “Operation Refresh the Nursery for As Little Money As Possible.” We’re still dedicated to saving as much as we can for the adoption, but, recognizing the painful reminders things can carry, we want to create a fresh space for our sweet baby. First up in this operation was the gorgeous dresser my father helped me refinish. We were excited to break even on that trade by using refinishing materials we already owned and selling our old dresser/changing table at our rummage sale. So, next up on the list was painting the walls.

Now, if you know much about me, you’ll know I have a hard time making up my mind. It’s not so much that I waffle between choices as it is that I am super picky, especially when it comes to wall colors. So, this past week was dubbed “Paint Testing Extravaganza Week.” It included three trips to Home Depot, two trips to ACE Hardware (where I grabbed paint swatches), and five paint samples. Ridiculous, I know. Anyway, after all my driving around, I finally started putting paint up on the wall.
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If you’re having trouble seeing the new color, that’s because the samples I tested were awfully close to the former tan the previous owners had used. After brushing the samples onto the wall, I ended up with this:
Testing Paint
There are actually four paint colors in the picture above (five if you count the original wall color). I call the one on the left, purple gray, the one on the bottom, bright green gray, the one above that, muddy gray, and the one on the top right, my favorite. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point, I really don’t blame you. I know the difference between the wall color and my favorite gray may not warrant the effort of painting for many, but for me, I knew it’d make a huge difference. It would also help me get rid of the yucky peach tan walls I’ve been loathing for three-plus years.

So, onward we went with painting, Zach gamely rolling the walls while I cut in—both of us wondering if we were covering the peachy color at all because it was almost impossible to tell the difference between the wet paint and the old color. But, after an afternoon of painting, we were left with this:
Day 1 of Painting
The walls look a little blotchy in this shot because they were still drying, but I’m thrilled with the new color. It’s much more of a gray tan, and the soothing effect it has is crazy. I’ve found myself walking into the nursery and saying, “Ahhhh,” when there’s no one else to hear me—it’s that soothing. Plus, it allows us to keep this nursery refresh gender neutral since we don’t know if God has a boy or a girl in store for us.

We touched up the paint in a few spots the next day and put the room together the day after that.
Nursery Progress 1
Ignore the bins of toys sitting randomly on the floor and the lack of blinds on the window. I know it’s a lot of neutral tones, but to me, this room says “blank slate,” “fresh start,” and “tons of potential.” You might notice the spaceship bedding and curtains are gone. A nice gal is coming to pick those up this week after I listed them on Craigslist. We plan to use the money to buy new bedding.
Nursery Progress2
The crib is new, too—well, new to us. I had been eyeing this exact crib on Pinterest, but knew there was no way we could afford it. I happened to glance at Craigslist one day and saw the very same crib listed for just $50. I freaked out, called the gal, and went to pick it up that evening. It’s in terrific shape. Plus, we were able to sell the old crib at our rummage sale. I think we made money on this switch. :)

Zach teases me for “trading out all of our furniture,” but I think he just means the nursery furniture. I know stuff is just stuff, and I’d be the first to tell you not to cling to any of it too tightly, but as I’ve found these little treasures—first the beat-up dresser, then the exact crib I wanted for 1/8 of the price—they felt like second chances. God is graciously giving Zach and I a second chance to parent, to love a child and welcome him or her into our family. And, along the way, He’s also giving me reminders that He’s a God of second chances, a God who cares about our pain and our experiences, and a God who loves us more than we can imagine.

We’ll keep you posted on our nursery progress. I’m sure it will involve more Craigslist “trading” as we move forward. As a quick note, we know this road to our adoption may seem long, but we’re incredibly grateful to have your support. Knowing that our family and friends, and many people we don’t know, are walking this journey with us means more than we can say. So, thank you!

Clothing and Shoe Drive

We’re back with another fundraising opportunity: a clothing and shoe drive! One of Zach’s super awesome co-workers connected us with Angel Bins, a nonprofit that pays by the pound for the clothes and shoes you collect and donate to them. They’ve agreed to make a check out to our adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, for the money we raise from this drive.

Zach and I just went through our closet to see what we could donate. I promise that is the only reason why my clothes fit so well on my half of the rod now. I’d also like to note that I may have an inordinate amount of black clothing.
Closet

From now until November 7, you can help us by going through your closets and donating any of the following items you no longer need:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes (gently used and paired by tying laces together or with a rubber band)
  • Purses
  • Belts
  • Tablecloths
  • Curtains
  • Blankets and comforters
  • Books
  • DVDs
  • CDs

You can also help us by sharing this with your family and friends. I think most of us have some “extra” stuff in these categories taking up room in our house. So, take advantage of the chance to free up storage space and bring us closer to having our sweet baby home.

If any of you are interested in collecting items at your places of work, we’d love to give you large cardboard boxes to fill along with flyers explaining our fundraiser.

As with our rummage sales, we’re glad to pick up any items you have for us. Give us a call, shoot us an email, or fill out our contact form and we’ll schedule a pick-up time that’s convenient for you.

Thank you for all of your support on this journey. We’re thrilled to have such amazing people helping us adopt our precious little one.