Thursday, September 4, 2014

All Of The Answers

(Or at least most of them.)

As you may or may not know, and since I tell you every single time I get sick (sorry), Cory and I were downed by "walking pneumonia", which basically translates as, "You will feel like crap for almost 4 weeks, but you'll still be up walking around, so you'll just keep telling everyone 'It's allergies'."

It's not.

And though it hasn't been fun, compared to that time I almost died in the Betty Draper Rental, this is Summer Camp. I would gladly drive all night and buy the t-shirt if it meant never going back to that.

I officially think I'm back to life today, and I just took a bunch of pics of the state of my home to give this post some color and a hard slap of reality. (My floors! sob.)   

Guys. You totally kept me entertained for the past few days. I loved hearing your questions. Thanks for playing along!

I answered some of the specific Qs in the comments section of the original post.
Others I'll answer or address in future posts.

All the rest? Right here! Let's get to work.

 Q) I'd love to hear what you do on your dark days, the ones where you are screaming for answers that do not come and you are holding on to your frayed hope by your bleeding fingernails, and God seems about a jillion miles away. 

The "easy" answer is pray, and I do. But I'm a weird pray-er (more on that another day.) When I'm having those days my prayers tend to be restless, urgent, "Help me!" prayers. Aside from that, I try to listen to myself and give myself a bit of grace. Being an introvert, I often want some alone time, hunkered down in my sweats with some books. Sometimes I need a good cry. Tea with a friend. A good show and a cheap wine cooler (classy) on the couch with Cory.

I try not to go shopping (online or otherwise) when I'm having one of "those" days. :)

We have lived through some really hard stretches over the past couple of years, and honestly, I've simply survived them. Stubbornly. I refuse to give up hope. I find a scripture I can cling to, and sometimes I write it down and tape it on the wall. I search hard for beauty in my everyday. And then I usually take a picture of it.

Mostly, I've learned to accept that everyone has these days. And I've learned to ask for help and support. We so often want to pretend things are okay and lots of times, they're just not okay at all. They're awful and painful and lonely. Sending out an SOS text and asking for prayer brings us closer into community, and being in community draws us closer to the heart of God.

One of my most frequent prayers, especially in hard seasons or days, is "Show me who you are and how You love me." I don't get super long-winded or flowery with my prayers. But I believe if we can really SEE God and notice how He loves us, it changes everything.

Q) I wondered then, but didn't ask (because it would be rude) how you paid for three adoptions.

Not rude at all! This is a common question for anyone even considering adoption, because adoption can be costly. Our 3 adoptions were very costly, averaging around $30k each. RIGHT???? It's important to note that when we adopted, the tax credit was still in place, so we were essentially refunded $13k of each of those adoptions, but unfortunately, things have changed since then.

This won't be super helpful at all, but I want to be honest. During that time of our life, we earned over 3x what we earn now. And we were a family of 2. We lived simply, but we made far more than what we "needed". From time to time we look back and ask ourselves what on earth we did with all that cash...and then we remember, oh yeah, our kids. :)

For that reason, we never did any kind of fund-raising. We did borrow money from a generous relative for Calvin's adoption, because we didn't have that kind of money "sitting around." For Ruby we  funded part of it with an adoption loan. For Silas, we had the funds to pay for it out of savings. We basically drained our savings, but knew we would just save up again.

Remember, within two months of bringing him home, we both lost our jobs. And just like that, those glory days were over (and new, better ones were coming.)

We know God provided for us to bring our kids home. I wish He would do it that way for everyone, but I know He doesn't.

There is no way we could ever fund an adoption now, and though we have no plans to adopt again, if we were to adopt, it would likely be through the Foster Care system, not only because it costs significantly less, but also because that's where God is leading our hearts these days.

{Adoption sidenote: Someone asked about getting a husband on board with adoption. I wanted to issue a reminder that I published two posts back in June written from the perspective of adoptive dads. They both fell during the month when my feeds were all messed up, so many people missed them. If that includes you, here are the links: Part I and Part II .}

Q) Since Ruby is usually pictured with rainbow-loom bracelets and necklaces, my question is this: do you have those insidious little rubberbands in every nook of your house like I do?

Uh, is the sky blue? Do I love salsa? Am I sitting here in yesterday's ponytail???? The bands are my bane. For life. Rivaled only by Legos and only because Legos hurt more when I step on them. Having said all that, sister's got mad skills.

Q) So, when you say you shoot on auto when using the beast, what exactly do you mean, because your pictures are oh so beautiful???

Well, thanks! I love taking pictures. Seeing the world through a lens has changed me. Dramatic, right? But true.

Cory actually corrected me for saying we shoot on auto. I'm just flaunting my ignorance again, that's all. We usually shoot in Aperture mode, so we can control how in/out of focus the background is. Cory also controls lots of other things when he shoots (he's the pro around here) but the only things I really do are aperture, exposure compensation (I like my stuff leaning toward overexposed - nice and bright!) and I know how to spot meter (like if I want to take a photo of my curtains - this is hard since light is coming in through the window).

Sometimes I just crank it to Program mode and let the camera do all the work. Sometimes I can't figure out why everything is black and Cory reminds me to remove the lens cap. :)

Since you might ask, we use a Canon 7D and we have 2 lenses, but usually use the 50mm. (I don't even know the difference in lenses and use whichever one happens to be on the camera.) For all the nitty gritty on what we use or what Cory wishes we used, you can read this post.

Q) I'd like to know what hedges you put up to protect yourself from the sins of pride, self-promotion, envy, jealously, etc, that are so easy to come by in this facebook-instagram-twitter-blog world that we live in. (In my short year of blogging I never figured it out.) 

What a great question! I think envy and comparison can creep in to anyone's heart, whether they blog or not, read blogs or not. It's part of that danged human nature. I have certainly been jealous of what someone else has written, or I've been hurt to not be included in something, or I've wished that I was noticed as much as so-and-so, etc... It's ugly. I hate it. But I find that in those times, what I usually need to do is just take a step back. I need a bit of a break. I need to go have tacos with my local homegirls. I need to stop trying to write and go read a book or two.

Because this "writing" thing has been somewhat of a surprise for me, I'm very aware that as easily as God gave it to me, He could take it all away. As I mentioned above, something weird happened to my blog back in June and overnight, over half of my readers vanished. I really believed it was God. I thought I was sort of done. It was surreal and unnerving, but ultimately, I realized it didn't matter. It took the pressure off, in a strange way. It helped me re-center myself and why I'm here. Maybe it was God or maybe it was just technology, but it turns out it was just an wonky patch. I'm still here.

Since then, I'm just not as worried about my traffic or growing my blog. Of course I want to grow! I love it when you guys share something that resonates here with your friends. Makes a girl feel loved. :) But at the end of the day, I'm not writing to "be" or "do" any certain thing. I'm writing because I love to do it, it's a part of me. And I hope to honor God with this gift. I want to hold these things loosely and not become too defined by them.

As for the pride thing, I just keep crowing about my faults and showing dorky photos of myself. It's hard to take myself too seriously when I remember all the things I've spilled here. So, thanks for keeping me in check!

Q: What are some blogs you go to for inspiration, decor ideas or just for a "pick me up "?

I love when other people answer this but I hate answering it myself! There are just so many. What I find is that the blogs I read most days are the first ones I read, years and eons ago. Many of them became my friends over the years and sometimes we keep in touch in other ways than blogging.

I'm blown away by the number of fun blogs that exist. It can almost be scary-overwhelming! I would say that as I create more content (blogging and other kinds of writing - more on that in a future post!) I read fewer blogs. It's a simple "time" thing. But I'll never give 'em up altogether. I think pretty pictures and good writing matter a little, but more than anything, I want REAL. I want someone who shows her face so I feel like I actually know her, and I want someone who will show the sides of her and her life that aren't always glossy.

I have a recent fave that I'll be sharing sometime next week, but some of my regular reads are Meg, Emily, Jen, Nici, Becca,  Lori. There are probably 50 more that I pop in on, not necessarily daily, but often. I'm in awe of the words spun by my (in)courage sisters and have loved getting to know them and their unique voices. Some other recent finds include Jami, Deidra, Kelly, DL. 

As always, you each deserve a medal made of salted dark chocolate and two vases of zinnias for making it through this post.

Have an awesome day!