I Woke Up

This week, there were two anniversary days.

November 18th, the day our Nora was born.  A scrappy little 2 lb. 14 oz. fighter, bursting to life and changing the world.

November 19th, I woke up, after the doctors were sure I never would again.

And I’ve realized some things about those days.  You can read the whole story here and throughout many, many blog posts in 2012.

November 19th, I woke up.

When you come that close to death, your world view shifts.  Things change in your heart, paradigms you’ve always believed and trusted are shaken to the core.

I learned that life is so, so short.  I learned that every single life is precious.  As I held my tiny baby, smaller than half a bag of flour…I knew her life was precious.  And in my heart, something opened up.  Lives are so precious.


I became more sensitive to news stories of human suffering.  Pictures of children struggling for life in orphanages began to seem urgent. I saw need everywhere.

I also figured out that I want an extraordinary life.  I don’t want the white picket fence and new cars and great clothes.  I like those things…but my life goals are simpler now…

Love God.

Love People.

I woke up to reality.  And every year, I am reminded of the lessons I learned.  You can read about it Here, 2013 and Here, 2014 or some more here 2014.

There is so much suffering in our world.  And I am still piecing together and puzzling out our place in the resolutions.

But I came away from my experiences in November of 2012 changed.  I woke up.  And I know I want to make an impact.  I am reminded anew every year on these days.

I want to make a difference.  Because I’m grateful, because this life is short, because every single person has value that can’t be measured.

Right now.

We are starting with one.  Just one.

Sylvia Grace.

Will you join us?


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She Did What She Could

This morning, I was feeling so discouraged…about so many things.

I felt the urging of the Lord…”Come to me, I have something to say to you.”

And so I opened up my She Reads Truth app and read the story of Mary of Bethany.

She was Lazarus’ sister…she was so upset about her brother’s death that she couldn’t even run out to meet Jesus. She was paralyzed with sorrow.  She could not even.  Have you been there?  When you can’t even rise up and face the thing that you know will bring comfort?

She was the same one who dumped out her bottle of oil and cleaned his feet with her hair and her tears.

I think maybe Mary of Bethany was a passionate woman of extremes.  I know someone like that.

It’s me.

In case you didn’t realize.

Some days, I just can’t even…and some days, I want to pour out all I am and all I have for Jesus and for the ones I love.  Some days…all I can really do is just take one step.  Maybe a half a step.  Maybe just a breath- Abba Father, I belong to you.

That was Mary.

There was a time when she was so discouraged and weary that all she could do was make that one step.  And then there was a time when she poured out all she had and subjected herself to ridicule and even rebuke for her all out, authentic, scandalous love for her Jesus.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

She did what she could.

she did what she could

What Mary could do was pour out her heart.  And when Mary’s brother died, all she could do was seek the comfort of Jesus.  And she could barely do that.

But she did what she could.

This struck me so hard.  Because I have these hard days where it seems that our problems, complications and issues are a wound tight ball of twine and there is no way to unravel it…where pain seeps into my bones and weariness covers me like a shroud.  There are days when I long for my little gal in Bulgaria to just get home already and when I feel like there is literally no way we are going to pull this thing off.

I can’t.  Some days, I just can’t.  I am too weak, too weary, too tired, too achy, too poor, too disorganized…too fill in the blank.  Too not enough…

I reach a feeble hand to Jesus and I do what I can.


I write the words in my Bible.  I think about the poor widow her gave her one last coin.  mark-12-44

She did what she could.

Lord, help me live that way.  Help me live, doing what I can…which some days will be so much and some days be so little.  He sees me heart and He knows when I have done what I can and when I haven’t.

And the best part…in my weakness, He is so strong.

After Lazarus had died, after four days in the tomb…he met Mary and her friends and saw their grief.  He was that they were weeping and filled with sorrow.

Matthew 11:33 says this:  “he was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled.”

Was he troubled that Lazarus died?  Presumably not…He knew then as he knows now that he is the author of life.  He could easily and would easily raise Lazarus from death. I think He was moved that his loved ones were hurting and grieving.  He was feeling their pain with them and He was standing with them in it.  Sharing strength.

This is how Jesus is.  He does not promise to make everything okay…but He does  promise to not leave us alone to handle it ourselves.  Sometimes, what we can is feeble and so small…but what he can…it is always enough.

The Powers that Be

It’s gray and gloomy outside and we are just under blankets and watching Peppa Pig.  The day has not unfolded as expected.

I have a bad headache and fibro is aching deep in my bones.  This weather does it to me every time.

Today, I saw my doctor for my routine bloodwork and check-ins.  We talked adoption and I told him what his part in the whole thing would be.  He has to say that he thinks I can handle adopting this child, this little girl who is already ours in our heart.

“They’ll want to know if you think health wise if we can handle another child.”

“Well.”  He said.  “Do you think you can handle it?”

“Yes.”  I said.  “I can do anything.”

He laughed and agreed.  He’s been my doctor for 15 years.  He knows.

As I drove home, I thought about the weight of his words with the Powers that Be in Eastern Europe..  How all of this rests in the hands of “Official” types of people.  Our social worker for the adoption, our home study social worker, our social worker in Sylvie’s country…the judges that will read over our files.

There is so much at play here and so many little windows for the Enemy to try and climb through.

So…today, as I snuggle in my chair with Nora and a heating pad…will you pray for us?  Will you pray for favor with the Powers That Be?

We’ve got to pray this Daughter home.

e.  CartestersonInk-23

Happy Birthday to Me

I remember when I was in my late twenties and my thirties were approaching.  I was so worried about that, about getting older…

Poor little 29 year old me.  I just want to go and give her a hug and tell her this:

Just start being you.  You’re going to LOVE being you.  And getting older is such a good, good gift.

I’m 43 today.  Yes, 43.  A number that would’ve made 29 year old me’s eyes bug out.  I’ve seen Hurricane Isabel wreck my house, my sister nearly die from an infection after her first baby, the loss of an extremely close friend (all of those in three months), a divorce, the loss of two babies, the preemie baby/percreta drama of November 2012, the beginnings of international adoption and So Much Life and Love.

I’ve learned how to Be Still and Know. I’ve learned that the only thing that never changes is God.  I’ve learned that life is so short.  So short.  And that every single day is a gift.  I’ve learned that God made me to be this quirky weirdo that I am and that to try and be anything else is cheating myself and calling His creation not good enough.

I’ve learned to be thankful.

Yes, I am a thankful 43 year old this morning.  Thankful for my beautiful family, for my favorite friends, for my church, for my heroes in the faith…I’m thankful that I am alive…because there was a day in November 2012 where I almost wasn’t.  Thankful that I can lean on My Beloved, that Jesus is always near…

I feel this year coming.  A year bursting with new things and changes and jubilee.  I just feel it.

I will welcome my daughter Sylvie home while I’m 43.  I will welcome my daughter’s wedding to God’s best for her while I’m 43.  I will watch my kids and my nieces and nephew and all my other little loves grow and change while I’m 43.  I will get better at marriage and home and living authentically in 43.  I will draw and paint and Be Still and Know….I will sing.  I will love my friends and family and do all I can to see needs and meet them.

I will weather the hard things because God walks with me.

I will rejoice in the great things because God walks with me.

What have you learned as you’ve grown older?



On Hurricanes And Provision

I think I had an epiphany this morning.

I have friends in the adoption community now.  Mamas I’ve never seen in real life and maybe never will until heaven.  It’s kind of neat, because they’ve walked or are walking where we are, built-in relational equity.

Several have checked in, fearing for our safety with these impending storms.

And I just say to them over and over:

I’m not worried.  The thing about hurricanes…there is literally NOTHING you can do about them.  You can not be in control.  All you can do is be smart, pray and wait it out.  Just wait it out.

And suddenly I realized, that’s how I need to approach adoption.

Adoption is frightening.  So many uncertainties.  The paperwork, the costs- financial and emotional, the process, the unknowns.  All we really know is that Sissy is our daughter and we need to bring her home.

But just like God knows how the path of this hurricane is going to blow, He knows the path this adoption is going to take.  He already knows.

We’ve seen Him in this process.  He taps us on the shoulder and whispers- “I am here.” I had a dream where He came up behind me, touched my shoulder and said these words:  “It’s not going to be as hard as you think.”  He is doing things.

He’s with us in EVERY storm…not just this hurricane.

And maybe this doesn’t seem like the most amazing epiphany ever…but I feel a shift in my spirit this morning and I feel less fear.

Fear lies.

God can do this.  He can bring Sissy home.



The Chair of Healing


When I came home from the hospital after having Nora, there was a new chair in my living room.  My sister and my friends had banded together and bought it for me.  I named it the Chair of Healing because that is where I lived life for months.

It saw me through days and days of recovery after Nora was born.


I dreamed of holding Nora in the Chair of Healing and the day came that I did.  The days.  We got to know each other in this chair.

Time went by and life fell into a normal pattern.  The Chair of Healing became my safe place.  I learned to doodle in it, I rested in it, I learned to Be Still in it.  It is where I want to be when I am feeling yucky.  When fibro flares up, this is the only comfy place.

How many days have we snuggled in this chair, me and my three littles?

It’s ragged now, Caroline has deposited her slobbery ball on it approximately 3840283048 times and it shows.  Foster pups have chewed on it here and there.  This was all okay with me, just character!  But now.   It is broken.

It does okay when it’s opened up into the reclining position.  But if you try and just sit in it, it kind of leans forward.  It doesn’t want to rock.  I’m having to face facts that its days may be numbered.

I struggle with this, more than seems practical or sensible.  Yes, it’s been my faithful friend but it is also just a chair.

And then I realize.  I had one more dream for me and the Chair of Healing.

I wanted to sit in this chair and hold Sylvie.  I wanted her to experience mama in the Chair of Healing.  I wanted to have those moments with her.

I have been picturing it in my heart since we first saw her picture.

So, perhaps we’ll turn the Chair of Healing over again and try and fix it again.  Maybe it can limp along a while longer and that dream can come true.

Hang in there, Chair of Healing.  You can not retire yet!

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Worth It

We are surrounded by encouragers.

What a gift a positive word is.

Yesterday was a wild day, lots of ups and downs and stressors.  Today looks brighter, but fibro has come to visit today. I’ll be forced to be still and know today.


I believe in speaking truth about where you are in your journey.  Feel awful?  Say so.  Feel overwhelmed?  Say so.  Feel heartsick?  Say so.  I’ve long believed that things hidden, things in the dark lose their power when drug into the light.  So I tell the truth.  And my village receives me in my truth and speaks life and light into me.

Texts, Facebook messages, calls…all came through as we waded through the muck and mud of yesterday.  All with the same word:

God has GOT this.  He is with you.

And then this picture of this recued one in my Facebook messenger this morning.


She’s the reason we know we can fight this thing all the way through.  She’s the reason we know that we can handle whatever comes our way. She has given us a face to the needs of the orphan. She has shown us the joy of being in a family, of being rescued.  She illustrates how we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and she is so specifically Aila, created in His image….

And her mama typed these words to me:  “She is here.  You can do it.  It’s going to be worth it.”


I want Sylvie to have the joy that Aila does. To know that she belongs to us.  We want to teach her that she is created in His image.

God’s got this.
We can do it.
It’s going to be worth it.

Yard Sale!

I woke up this morning early.

Lila was standing beside my bed.  She’d had a dream of a purple pterodactyl that eats children.  She was shaken.  “Can I get in bed with you?”

The answer is always yes when they’re scared and so she climbed in and was sound asleep again in minutes.

But I was wide awake.

Our yard sale is tomorrow.  We have a house, back deck and shed completely and totally FULL of yard sale-ready merchandise.  And I suddenly realized at 6:34am that it has to get out of our house and onto tables tomorrow morning by 8am.

Picture it.  John and I and two bleary eyed grown up daughters dragging furniture, boxes of toys, clothes, kitchen ware, home decor, baby gear…you name it, we probably have it, out the front door and to the yard.  Julia and Aubrey do not even yet know that they will be pressed into service.  (Surprise!)


I speak to Jesus, “Lord, the harvest is plentiful.  The workers are few.”


I say also, deep in my heart, to Sylvie:  “You are loved, child because I absolutely hate doing yard sales.”

We’ve got a lot riding on this yard sale.

It’s a labor of love.

And so I think about that this morning.  I think about the work that goes into international adoption.  I think about the labor pains and the waiting and the unknowns and I think…it’s so different from becoming a mother the past six times…and it also isn’t.

I pray a more hopeful prayer.   “Lord, let this yard sale propel us towards the goal of giving Sylvie what you want for her.  Bless our efforts and our hands.  Bless each person who donated things to us, bless each person who purchases things from us.  Multiply every dollar to get us closer to raising the ransom for her life.”

Will you pray with us over this yard sale?  It might seem like a weird prayer, but will you?  Pray over these points with us:

  • Cooperative weather
  • An amazing turnout
  • No fibromyalgia issues
  • Helpers who are excited to come over at 6am and help set up
  • Generous givers
  • Good morale


Even for yard sales, the above is true.


Last night, I prayed for bonds to be forming even now between my three wild littles and their sister Sylvie.  They understand and get the orphan crisis in a way that many adults do not.  To them, the idea of not having a family just makes no sense.  They’ve been praying for an “orphan to come into our family” for as long as I can remember.  And every single night, Claire in particular asks Jesus to get “all the orphans in a  forever home soon.”


These three love each other fiercely, fight passionately and have elaborate inside jokes and games and language.  I am praying that God would build that in with Sylvie.

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I know that it won’t be easy.  I know that it won’t be all unicorns and rainbows…but I also know that God can do things that aren’t easy and that He can bring beauty from ashes.

And I guess that’s my prayer.

That Sylvie’s life would go from ashes to beauty.  That she would feel such a sense of belonging with all six of her siblings but especially with the three I call the “Littles”.

You can support our adoption by visiting our Etsy store at Cartesterson INK

Or by purchasing a t-shirt at www.bonfirefunds.com/bringsylviehome

Or by donating directly to http://www.gofundme.com/sylviagrace