The peace in the planning

We're going.  We're really going to meet our son.  It's happening.  It's really happening.  The last week of July is the first week of the rest of my life.

People keep asking me if I'm nervous.  Normally when it comes to nerves I'm a total Nelly, but strangely, the nerves haven't hit me yet. 

 Maybe it's because I've been so busy booking our flight, choosing our accommodations, and making trips to Target to purchase travel size everything, that I haven't quite had time to feel nervous about meeting him.  Or apprehensive about the long flights.  Or concerned about how I'm going to handle my first trip overseas. 

Or maybe it's that peace that passes understanding at play.  

The Holy Spirit displays his work so brilliantly in our weaknesses, doesn't he?  I've struggled all my life with anxiety. I've wondered for a long time why God made me this way.  Why I, as a girl, could feel my blood running cold as the bus pulled up on every first day of school.  Why I lay awake in bed before every class speech.  Or why I never had even half the courage it would take to go to camp for a week; I could barely hold myself together enough to attend Vacation Bible School at my own church.  

Why couldn't God make me carefree like the rest of my friends?  Why did I have to battle this demon? 

His answer of course, is in his sovereignty.  In his perfect plan for all things.  

Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? Romans 9:20-21

Out of my nerves and my fear rises and shines and Holy Spirit's power.  Every courageous step I take forward is an act of his gracious provision, his provision of ability, of confidence, and of peace. 

From a girl whose voice shook and raced through every memorized word of a three minute speech called, "My Grandparents," he has called out a woman who was able to learn from, grow in, and even enjoy, not one but three college and graduate level public speaking classes.  From a girl whose throat got tight and palms sweaty just getting out of the car for a three hour church camp, he called out a young woman who had the courage to follow his lead away from home to a new country and though an exhausting immigration process.  

Now from a woman who still gets nervous just crossing the US/Canada border on trips "back home," he's calling forth the courage to fly across the ocean, to deal with governments in another language, to figure out every detail from travel, to food, to sleep, and to eventually face a 12 hour flight and 17 hours of travel time with a two-year-old.  And a confused, non-English speaking two-year-old at that. 

When first John and I considered the call to international adoption, the worry of bureaucracy, and travel, and what-if-I-get-sick-because-I-drank-the-water-in-another-country overwhelmed me (okay I'm still worried about that last one). We made the decision inspite of the fear. And shortly thereafter I went on a retreat and heard a woman talk about what it was like to watch her husband die of cancer.  She said she didn't know what it would be like to watch him get sick, to see him die, to become a widow, to watch her adult children loose their father. She didn't know what life looked like where she was going.  But she did know one thing: 

The grace of God would meet her there. 

I cling to that promise.  It will take three trips to bring our son home; God has a purpose for each of them. Maybe it's a common purpose.  Maybe it's a special purpose.  I'm certain it's got something to do with a God-be-glorified purpose. 

The Spirit works brilliantly in our weaknesses.  In my weakness, he is strong.  In my anxiety, he gives me confidence because I know that at the airports, in the plane, in the orphanage, in the courtroom, in the hotel room, and when we get off that plane at the end of it all and drive home as a family- together at last- his grace is going to meet me there.  

Wherever you are going, this promise is for you: his grace will meet you there. 


One of my posts has been featured again on We are Grafted In, a creative and inspiring blog that compiles posts from all different kinds of adoptive parents.  Check it out here.


Tomorrow is the last day of my DeVries Family Adoption Fundraiser.  Make a purchase from my etsy shop, mention the DeVries Family and 40% of your purchase will go toward bringing their little one home!  


Savoring the grace and the peace, 


Adoption "Maternity" photo session

My parents were in town, visiting for the weekend when we found a globe at a yard sale.  Armed with a brain full of ideas from pinterest, we took my camera to our local park and got these "maternity" shots to commemorate our season of anticipation.  Thank you Dad for taking these photos and Mom for being ridiculous and for dancing around the park just to encourage natural smiles.  (And if you've already checked out these photos on FB, scroll down to the end to see a few outtakes!)

And what photo shoot is complete without a blooper reel? 

This photo doesn't do justice to the fervor and noise with which
those geese approached.  I'll be honest- I got a little nervous!

Eyes closed, John.  Closed.
Can't do that with a normal belly, can you?

Thanks for looking!  xo


Adoption Dossier News

Can I just post a picture of my grinning face instead of writing this update?

At 1pm this afternoon I checked my email to discover that..... 

Our dossier has been registered!!! (!!!!!!!!)  

Praise. The. Lord.

We'll get our first travel date early next week and we should be on our way to Russia by the end of July!

On our way to meet our little guy.  To whisper a gentle, "Hi Sweetheart!" when he meets us for the first time.  To play with his toys and try to make him laugh.  To shower him with hug and tickles and show him that we love him already.  To hold his little hands.  To cup his sweet little face.  To sign that paperwork that says, "YES WE WANT HIM!!!!"  To be matched, officially. 

The way it works with Russia, is that we are not officially matched with him until we meet him.  So until then- no pictures and name on the blog or facebook etc.  But trust me, I'll make up for all this picture-less time when I get back.   Maybe I'll even be one of those annoying moms who takes 33 pictures of their kid in a row and posts every single one of them online. 

Just kidding.  I'll probably only take 32. 

We did show his picture to some friends and family in real life, including our parents.

We showed John's parents on Father's Day and- as I suspected- everyone cried.  His dad kept repeating, "That's so cool" and his mom just flipped back and forth between the half dozen images we have exclaiming things like, "I can't stop looking at him!" and "I can just tell he is so loved over there," and "I bet he'll be on the go all the time when he comes home!"  When it was time to leave my father-in-law asked her if she wanted to walk us out and she looked at us, looked down at the photos and laughed, "But I don't want to leave the pictures!" 

Little man, you're stealing hearts already. 

My parents don't live nearby and although they are planning a weekend visit soon, I just couldn't wait that long!  

Setting up our Skype call.

Right before the call to my parents!
So I called my mom on the phone, "Hey can you and Dad get on Skype?"  

"Sure!  One minute." 

....one minute later....

brrrring brrrrrring


"Hey Mom... where's Dad?"  

"Oh he's not home yet.  BUT DO YOU HAVE GOOD NEWS?!?!?!"

"Uhhhh errrr. Well, yes but we want to tell you together!" 

"Okay hold on!" 

(At this point we  see her on the web cam and think she is reaching for the phone to call my dad at work, but then we see her just reaching for the dog treat jar (right beside the phone) to give their dog-Hugo- a treat.  For some reason he is in the habit of being rewarded every time someone gets on Skype.  He even recognizes the ring tone.) 

After Hugo gets his treat, "Okay well I'll tell Dad to get home now!  Get your buns home NOW!!"  

(Ha! I swear I've never heard her use this sentence before. All three of us are giddy with excitement!) 

She reaches forward again, this time for the actual phone.

About 30 seconds later Skype rings again and my dad walks in the door and into the room.  He pauses to give Hugo another treat and we spill our good news.   Lots of celebrating follows.  We show them our little guy's picture and I snap these reactions: 

Waiting for the picture to upload...

First reactions: smiles all around!

Super happy.  Ridiculous grins.  They think he's super cute.  And they're right.

Lots of celebrating and God-praising going on in the Burden house tonight.  

As we prepare to travel, we will be gathering items to donate to our son's orphanage.  I have had a few people ask me about making donations to the orphanage and of course we would just be thrilled to bring your love across the globe.  Here are the most needed items: 

New, unwashed warm clothing, shoes and boots (ages 0-3)
Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Advil
Neosporin and Benadryl Skin Cream
Expectorants and Antihistamines
Children’s Allergy Medicines
First Aid Dressing Materials

You can drop them off at our place, at church in John's office, or we would be happy to pick them up as well.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for demonstrating your love in this way.  I think of the other little babies and toddlers at our little guy's orphanage as sort of his brothers and sisters.  It brings me pain to think that we cannot adopt them all.  Providing for their needs in this way is a blessing, not only to them, but to me.  I pray every one of those children is scooped up into loving arms and brought into a family.  Until then, we love them with boots and bandaids, and butt cream.  

Please take a moment tonight to praise and thank God for this amazing news on our behalf.  We are so thankful and absolutely thrilled to be planning our first trip!  This morning I was praying to God, asking that he- as the one who holds all things together, who ordains all things, and who promises not just eternal life, but abundant life- that he, as that God, would make his glory known through this adoption by answering our heartfelt prayers.  I pray that as you celebrate this answered prayer with us, you are moved to glorify his name. 

In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land. 
Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
 for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

- Psalm 95:4-7

In celebration, xo.


Psychological Pregnancy

I can use this spot now... right?  ;-)
Photo via flickr user brianteutsch

I came across this article on Resolve's (National Infertility Awareness Association) facebook page this afternoon; the article is about preparing for parenthood via adoption.  This led me down a trail of google searches and articles about how parents do and don't prepare themselves for this major life change when their "pregnancy" is psychological rather than physical.  If all the articles I read had one thing in common, they all pointed out that first time parents who are adopting often have a hard time letting themselves get excited and prepared for parenthood because of the fear involved.  The fear that the adoption will take a long time, will take a bad turn, or won't even happen at all.  

Boy is that true.  

Nevertheless, adoptive parents must face their fears and prepare for parenthood.  Nothing like taking a deep breath, swallowing hard, and putting a baby (toddler or kid) registry together!  

John and I have tried and are trying a number of things to live into this wonderful and nerve-wracking season of expectant parenthood. 

1. Completing the home study.  This, of course, is not optional for adoptive parents, but it is something that can be a great part of your expectant parent experience.  Especially the homework part; reading about adoptive issues and preparing yourself to handle the joys and challenges of bringing your child home is a great way to prepare yourself.  Which leads to: 

2. Reading, watching, and listening to just about anything you can get your hands on.  The home study material, though helpful, is mostly negative.  It helps the adoptive couple explore just about every.little.thing that could "go wrong" in an adoption.  And it can leave you feeling discouraged.  There are, however, hundreds of books and documentaries, and radio broadcasts that demonstrate how wonderful the experience of adoption can be, even in the face of challenges.  My advice: balance out the "prepare for the worst" material with stories that will help you anticipate the best.  Instead of going to your midwife or OBGYN appointments, schedule a few dates with the adoption and parenting shelves at your local library.  Plus, reading a great book sounds way more fun than getting your cervix checked, doesn't it? 

3. Becoming the kind of parent you want to be.  Taking on parenthood changes a person.  When a woman experiences physical pregnancy, her body changes, it gives her signals about when to slow down.  Her midwife or doctor will give her advice about health care, eating habits, exercise, lifestyle habits, etc.  Friends and family share stories about how life changed when their brought their little one home; what surprised them and what to prepare for.

Though we don't have a timeline like a pregnant couple will (ie: we only have 3 more months to do xyz before the baby comes), John and I have used this season to evaluate our lifestyles and consider what changes we want to make that will help us teach our son about our values with respect to the God, the earth, other people, and ourselves.  We've found a local farm where we can take our son to play and purchase our meet and eggs; we've checked out summer camp and class options at our local art council and dance schools, and we've make notes about play groups, library events, and kids museums.  Who knows how all this planning will turn out, but at least we've had great fun dreaming up all different ways we can expose our children to the arts, to culture, and to our faith. 

4. Getting the stuff.  Parenthood isn't about stuff, but let's face it: it sure comes with a lot of stuff, doesn't it?  Car seats, toys, sippy cups, kid shampoo, strollers... getting the stuff ready is a big (and fun!) part of preparing for parenthood.  We've been working on getting our little man's room ready and a friend of mine has even offered to throw me a shower- something I'm excited about!  Everyone will have a different timeline for getting the stuff ready- some will wait until they're back from their first trip, others will do it right when they're matched with a birth mom.... it is a personal decision but an important one.  There is no right or wrong answer here; as an expectant adoptive parent, you need to do whatever will help you prepare for parenthood the best.  

5. Finally, praying for your little one.  Whether your adoption is in the idea phase or you are hoping to bring your little one home next week; be praying for your child.  Prayer helps us focus outward.  It centers us on God's will.  It reminds us to put the needs of our child before our own needs.  What better way to prepare for parenthood than to begin by relinquishing control over  your child's life.  Whether biological or not, each child is a gift from the Lord and we as parents are God's servants, charged with the task of nurturing and raising our children to- as a seminary professor of mine used to always say- know, love, and serve the Lord. 

If you are expecting a child through adoption, what have you been doing to prepare yourself for parenthood?  

If you are a parent of a toddler aged 2 or 3 - help me with my #4!  What are your most loved or "must have" parenting items?  

In expectation- xo. 


To gain a soul

Photo via flickr ©Sophia.Maria

Living with unanswered prayer is a hard thing.  Sometimes it feels like it will break you. When it feels like it's nearly breaking me, I turn to the ultimates again.  On that subject, a poem:

On "unanswered" prayer 
and forfeiting the world 
to gain a soul

I once heard about a man 
whose carpet was worn 
in two spots beside a window

Two bare spots
from hours
and days
and months
and years-
a lifetime
on his knees.

There are no bare spots on the floor of my house
but tell me-
do You see
how I'm wearing
a spot on my soul? 

I kneel there
and night
in prayer and petition,
longing and expecting
for You to respond.

You do not answer 
in the way that I wish
Your silence 
begins to exhaust my plea
I want to know when 
and how and why
but instead of those answers, 

Take heart
and loose the world 
for already have You overcome 
and this, You say,
this is how I gain my soul.

That spot on my soul- 
is not growing bare, 
like carpet under knees-
the wearing tearing under prayers
becoming not thin but deep

Now, from there I cry-
hope renewed-
The depth of me
to the depth of You. 


"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" - Mark 8:36

"Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me. " Palm 42:7 


A progress update

I hear the familiar ding of a new email in my inbox. 

I see the little red "1" icon and my heart quickens.

This could be it.  The email from our adoption agency.  Please let this be it!  Let us be registered at last! 

I open my inbox.  The computer stalls for what seems like eternity, but is in actuality about 3 seconds.
I pull up the new email:

"On sale this week at Kohls!"

I hate you Kohls.  And Old Navy.  And Groupon.  Living Social.  And every other non-adoption-registration-email.  

I click furiously.  UNSUBSCRIBE, UNSUBSCRIBE! 


Welcome June.  This is the month we have been waiting for.  Our little man turns two and we've been praying that our dossier will be registered this month, at last.  It has been a long six days so far, waiting ever so anxiously for the news.  Hoping we won't be delayed another month. 

We really do have everything ready now.  After a long saga of getting-Canadian-style-passport-photos-taken-in-America and having Fed-Ex at our doorstep with returned packages and missed paperwork, I finally got my new passport in the mail! 

Old and New!
 This was very exciting for me, as I need it in order to apply for a Russian visa.   Thank you to the dozen or so friends who received my frantic prayer request emails and were praying for this whole process (and for me as I stressed about); you know who you are and you are awesome. 

John and I also received this sweet note from his mom, who has been an incredible cheer leader and prayer warrior during this whole process.

DSC_0101 DSC_0103

Can't wait to read these stories to our little man!  

My friend Rosie sent me this care package filled with the most thoughtful of items for me and our little man.  


I've already read the "Happy Adoption Day!" book a half dozen times to my daycare kids who sit memorized by the rhyming and colorful pictures, especially Gus whose family looks remarkably similar to the one on the cover.  I've also partaken of the stress relief tea for reasons related to my nail-biting email checking experiences. All around, a wonderful surprise gift. 

Thankful for little blessings as we wait.  


A few weeks ago I discovered another adoption blogger who stuck out to me because she's also combined her last name with a wickedly smart pun to create her blog title: Akers of Love.  Great minds... great minds.  

I'm participating in her June blog party.  Check her party post out here.  

1. When is your birthday?
December 8.  Close enough to Christmas that my parents would get me a big birthday gift as a "combined birthday and Christmas gift" but far away enough that by the time actual Christmas rolled around they felt bad about my not having enough gifts under the tree and got me a couple more things anyway.  Best of both worlds, baby!

2. What's the best advice your mom ever gave you?
My mom always says, "Do your best and God will do the rest." Yep.  That's all we can do. 

3. What's your number one weakness when it comes to food?
So many, but I love any kind of Asian inspired noodle dish.  I bet half my meal pins on pinterest are some version of peanut noodles.  Yum. 

4. What's the latest recipe you've tried and loved?
Skinny Taste (skinnytaste.com) chicken with leek and sun-dried tomato white wine sauce.  Good as it sounds.

5. What is your favorite post from last month? {May}

6. What's your drink of choice in the summer?
Margaritas on the porch with my husband.  Our hobby of choice last summer and I'm thinking it will be again for this one.

7. What's the best advice your dad ever gave you?
I tend to panic and get anxious over things and he always says, "Just take it one day at a time.  And when you can't do that, one hour at a time.  And if you can't do that- one minute at a time."  It's become something of a mantra in my life.

8. What is God teaching you right now?
"Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." has been a verse he's been impressing on my lately; something that's been giving me peace.

9. What are you looking forward to most about the summer?
Hopefully hopefully hopefully going to Russia!

10. What is your favorite picture from last month?  {May}
 Our front porch hanging baskets from the farmer's market.  Signaling the start of summer, in my mind! 



DeVries family adoption

John and I are considered "young" in the international adoption (IA) world.  In fact, when we first started researching international adoption, we discovered that many countries are not open to applicants under thirty years of age.  It was discouraging.  I'm twenty six and one of the youngest international adoptive mothers our case worker had ever worked with, but I'll be honest- I don't feel too young at all.  I always pictured myself with a baby at least by the time I was twenty four, if not earlier.   In any case, our experience in the adoption world has been that many adoptive parents are in their  early 30's with no kids at home yet. 

We serve a God who likes to break the mold, though, don't we?  

John and I aren't really breaking the mold that much, but I'd like to introduce you to an incredible family who is.  A family who might be considered to be "running the last leg" of their parenting journey (at least the young kids-at-home part).  With four sons already in their clan- ages 12 through 20- Dave & Sue DeVries, along with their family, have received a calling toward adoption.

Sue & Dave

Sue with the boys! I saw the smiling mom and straight faced
boys and all I could do was laugh and think, "Typical." :-)

When the DeVries family first shared their calling with us, they had that excited/nervous/awe-struck glow about them that we remember experiencing so well only a few short months ago.  They knew they were called.  They thought they were crazy.  They were certain.  They were unsure.  

Ah, yes.  Us too.  I think this is all part of the calling. Another adoptive mother told me that when she and her husband took their first trip to meet their son overseas, they met him, got back to the hotel room, and she just thought, "What have we done!?"  Of course, the panic subsides, but it can be scary!

Yet another adoptive mama friend hears theses stories of panic and always says the same thing, "Totally normal."  

It's a crazy ride and absolutely worth it.  

Here's the DeVries family story: 

Hi Sue!  Will you introduce your family to us? 
We are Dave and Susan DeVries, Matthew(age 20), Jacob(age 18), Kyle(age 15), and Jesse (age 12). Dave works for a local food business and I work part-time for the counseling center at our church. 

So when (and why) did you start thinking about adoption? 
Adoption has been "on our radar" for several years. We've always said that "if we could afford it, we'd always have a house full of children." Parenting is something Dave and I both cherish, and our boys have wanted us to adopt for quite some time. The financial piece of adoption has always been the hurdle that just seemed too high to get over.

What was the "turning point" that brought your family from thinking about adoption to taking the plunge? 
God is persistent! He's been nudging us gently for awhile, and those nudges became too much to ignore! We feel very strongly that this is exactly what God is calling us to do. The encouragement of other adoptive couples who have seen God provide both through fundraisers and grants has been a blessing. We firmly believe that God "funds what He favors" and that this is where He has led us.

 Do you know from which country you're adopting or who you're hoping to adopt? 
Our plan is to adopt a boy (yes, a boy!) from China. We are hoping to adopt a boy between the ages of 3-7, possibly with mild special needs.*

*editor's note: before we started down the road of international adoption I thought the term "special needs" referred only to cognitive delays or impairments.  Actually in the IA world "special needs" can mean anything from a diagnosis like Down Syndrome to a cleft palate to correctable heart problems to hearing loss.  If you are looking into adoption, consider what special needs God may have equipped your family for!

What do your kids think about all of this?
Our boys are THRILLED! They have talked about adopting a child for several years, and are excited at the thought of having a little brother. They have several very young cousins and are great with younger children! I am excited to know that our new son will not only get a Mom and Dad, but also four amazing big brothers! One of our boys will graduate from high school next spring, and we had been saving for a spring break Florida trip. As we began talking about adoption, it came up that Florida may have to take a back seat to adoption costs. Our son said to us, "Can you really compare a week in Florida to giving a child a mom and a dad and Jesus? Florida can wait!"

Seriously. What boy wouldn't want to get in on this??
 Amen!  On that note, what's the best or most encouraging thing that's happened since you decided to adopt? 
I think the most encouraging thing thus far is to recognize how God continues to show up in little and big ways through this process. God has used the words of friends to encourage, especially on days when doubt and discouragement set in. One friend who has adopted a daughter wrote to me on facebook saying, "Be ready to truly experience the meaning of 'my cup runneth over." What a blessing!

What are the biggest fears or challenges you face in your journey to adoption? 
Our biggest challenge thus far is to trust completely that God will provide the financial resources to make our adoption possible. It is no secret that the cost of adoption is steep, and the devil likes to plant seeds of doubt that it is not possible. But, we have seen God's faithfulness in so many situations in the past, and are confident that He will continue to provide.

Is there a bible verse or story that's been an encouragement to you in this whole process so far?
Two verses that have been important to us so far are Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in You." and Proverbs 24:12, "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend that we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act."

Finally, how can we best pray for your family?  
Pray for God's continued leading and guiding through this process. Pray for peace on the days that are frustrating. Pray for the little boy whom God has already chosen to be our son (I love knowing that God already knows who he is!), and pray that God will place a hedge of protection around our family through all of this.

Thank you Sue and family for sharing your journey! God bless you as your follow his lead. 

One of the DeVries family's obstacles is, of course, the money.  Oh how I wish adoption weren't so expensive! But like we have seen: God provides.  In an effort to help the family in their fundraising efforts, 20% of the proceeds from my etsy shop for the month of June will go toward their adoption.  And if you purchase something and leave me a note in the "notes to seller" section saying something like "I support the DeVries family adoption!" (or something more creative to make me smile) I'll double the donation and 40% of your purchase will bring their little one home. 

Visit my shop "Embody Jewelry Designs" to make your purchase!

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