Our good friends put together a fun campaign for us for the next few days. If you’d like to help us spread the word, you can share this on any social media platform:
TAG the BAG and help bring Judah home! Raising money to cover airfare so this little boy can meet his forever family. Every bit helps. Please share this status to help spread the word. Read more and donate here! #tagthebag#bringjudahhome
Please read my hilarious hubby’s post on the page, Tag the Bag!
I'm getting ready to head out on my 3rd day at the THSC homeschool convention up in the Woodlands. It's been fun, seeing friends I haven't seen in years, sharing hour long drives with friends and chatting and learning. I love this weekend.
Please I always get to see something cool. The Duggar family is at our conference. They have a booth and have spoken a few times. Every where you turn is a Duggar kid :). They are very down to earth and sweet.
I also got to hear Todd Wilson speak about family, raising dangerous sons, and can't wait to hear him today. Check out his ministry: FamilyMan Ministry!
I dropped my friend off yesterday and was heading down 99 and saw this. Maybe you can't, but it was a beautiful rainbow up in the clouds.
My working at our church is coming to a close. But I love this church body, and working here has made me love it more. My kids and I drove out to the new property (that God raised almost $2mil so quickly and we purchased debt free---in a church of about 150 attenders!) and prayed over the neighbors and the land. We can't wait to be meeting out there!!
Well, it was a super fun weekend with the whole family at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. I can't remember the last time I was with my mom and step-dad on my birthday, so that was fun, we even had cake! :)
The kids had a blast riding all the slides, romping in the water, and playing with their cousins. I have 3 nephews...maybe one day we'll get a niece!
IF you haven't checked out our new blog, Worthy of Our Calling, please do! I have a fun birthday post, that I need your help with!! We have only raised $20, so I'd like for you to share, share, share on social media and help me reach my goal for my birthday.
If you'd like to see some fun summer reads and book recommendations, we have a post up about that here.
We have some great posts about being restless,hearing God, faith, adoption, God's power (an amazing story of God's faithfulness) and money. Eric's even writing! We'd love for you to take a look, subscribe, or share with others. We pray this new blog is an encouragement to you all!!
And now, here are some fun pictures of our last few months. This is a feat because my phone and computer do not like each other and rather sync well! :) These gems are from January 2014!
Tomorrow is a fun day! Not only is it my 34th birthday, but I have my first giveaway going live on our new blog, Worthy of Our Calling. I'd love for my dear readers and friends here to help share and get the word out tomorrow when it posts. You've stuck with our crazy family for 9 years and we have always been blessed by your comments and shares!
Be sure to subscribe to our feed over there,so you don't miss a post. Eric has some amazing writing lined up to encourage and inspire us!
Well, we are still SO excited for our new son. We have been in constant contact with our agency and feel great about our next steps. We have gotten lots of questions on when we might travel, and truly, it is all up to God! My best guest would be September? But it could be earlier, or later!
Our next hurdle is right now our social worker is reviewing all of our documentation. She has to prepare an affidavit, send it to our Ugandan lawyer team, have them review it, send it back, and then get our dossier notarized and sent off! After that we will wait for our court date.
In the mean time, it's time for everything to expire...for a second time! So this week have sent off for our new biometrics with USCIS. We have new medicals tomorrow and our 2nd home study update this Friday.
This is all over the place, sorry :)
We wanted to share his first name that we've chosen: Judah! It means the praise of the Lord. We are so excited to welcome our Judah home!
I have created a secret facebook page for us to share prayer requests and updates along the next few months. If you would like to join, please just email me or message me on facebook. If we are not friends, you can find me here: https://www.facebook.com/misty.l.newsome
We feel extremely blessed with the information we've received, the updates we've been given and the timing that the Lord knows is perfect for HIS purposes. We may not understand it all the time, but we know it is for our good.
Moving on to February, we were now 6th on the waiting list. On February 26th, our agency asked if it would be ok to send our home study to one of their partners that they have been working for months on some orphan investigations. We, of course, said yes. By March we were 5th, but still no matches. None in April, but on April 4th they asked for a picture to send along. At this point, I'm still clueless Misty, checking off the boxes as they send them.
Then, last week, we had a call scheduled for over a week with our social worker. Eric and I both were on the call and lets just say it was a doozy. First of all, she is moving. Her husband got a new job, they are moving cross country, and it's sad. She's been walking so many of us through this long road. But more importantly, she laid out for us, again, all the struggles with Ugandan adoption right now. It is not impossible, but there are many steps to be sure it's ethical. We don't want to EVER question the background of our child, ever have to second guess if we are involved in the child-trafficking that is going on around the globe. There are many more details to this, again, just ask, in person. Not via social media :).
So those were two faithless days. We were wondering if we should still continue to press on. I have been wanting to be pregnant one more time (I go back and forth on this a lot, but this is a big step up from 3 years ago when I though I'd never NOT want to have more children!), and though children are good and a gift from God, as my friend did remind me, we don't want to give birth to an Ishmael. We want to be sure we are following God's will and not trying to help Him along with His plans. We didn't tell a lot of people, but we did pray a lot. And the few we did talk to were so faithful in pointing us back to our journey, God's hand that was in it the whole step of the way, our hearts for the orphan and the love God has created in our hearts for Uganda. And as we stepped back and looked at the past 3 year journey, we were reminded that God was in each step of it. So that call was Tuesday, let's fast forward (or go really slow apparently) to Thursday.
My new social worker scheduled a call with me. But she's not new to us, she was our very first social worker that did our application and walked us through all the home study/immigration paperwork the first time. So we felt comfortable with her and she knows her stuff! The first 20 minutes of the call was more of the same from Tuesday. I was able to ask a lot of questions and she was great and patient with me. Then we started talking about the baby homes and partnerships they have and she said this line:
"As I'm sure you know, we've been working for months on a match for your family and we should get the final pieces of the details on Monday."
I about hit the floor. Was I the worst adoptive mom ever that I had no clue? I mean, I knew they were working on investigations for months, (which is another reason I love our agency, they take time and resources and pour into these investigations to be sure they are legitimate needs before they ever make a referral, so many do it the other way and there seems to be much more heart ache on the other end), but I was still thinking we have a ways to go.
So I picked myself back up and said I was clueless. She said that was refreshing because it's rarely a surprise anymore :). So we kept talking for another 30 minutes about all the different scenarios, because there are many. I did some calculations in my head as far as timeline, but who knows.
I got off the phone with her and called Eric immediately. He came home a little bit later and we were both super excited and a little terrified. This future we have been praying for is happening now. We prayed and shared with the kids. We actually took them out for dinner because that was about the start of my daze/foggy/hazy brain. You want to know what’s harder than waiting 3 years for a referral? Knowing that it’s coming in 4 days but not having any information!!!! ;)
So we did a lot of praying, thanking God for taking it out of our hands, and, even this seems silly typing it, but answering us quickly! Three years may not seem long to most, but for us, Tuesday and Wednesday were hard days, with lots of prayer and seeking. Our few people we shared with all said one thing: that they would pray for extreme clarity on what our next step would be. And to hear just 2 days later on Thursday that it was laid out for us, was amazing.
God has been so faithful our whole journey! Even this weekend, we had lots of plans Friday and Saturday. Church Sunday morning was awesome as always, and then Eric had to play trombone with a local group during the afternoon. I had lots of things I could be doing, but I laid down on the couch and got in a 2 hour nap while the kids played. That never happens and it was so refreshing.
So, yesterday was Monday. I didn’t go to bed well because of that restful nap so we all slept a little late. Got up, got breakfast going, started reading our bible, then history, then the house phone started ringing! It was only 9:30!
Heather said she had received all the information and would be sending it to me. We talked for a bit about some of it and then she said she’d send me the email with the file. We got off the phone around 9:45. Then I had to wait the longest hour!!! I emailed her and said she’s killing me, and turns out they had server issues right as she was trying to send it!
And then our whole life changed. We saw his face. We read his file. We saw his past. But for the first time, we had our fourth child. We’ve been working towards this, but this was the first time it felt like, well I can’t describe it. I called Eric and we talked through parts of the file, I asked if he had any questions because I did and was calling Heather back. She and I spent most of the afternoon on the phone back and forth or emailing questions, etc. We talked through paperwork and fees that needed to be sent. I prayed a lot. Our kids rejoiced. “Are we going to Uganda tomorrow mommy?” I heard often. It was also my mother-in-law’s birthday so we looked forward to a family dinner to celebrate!
So he’s here! :) Well not here, but he sure feels real and we are proceeding, but of course with caution. I can’t share photos, so I’m sorry for that, but believe me when he is home, you will get tired of them I’m sure. There are so many steps to complete, and in our hearts, we know this isn’t the end but only the beginning. There are lots of things that could go wrong between now and finalization. There are lots of spiritual attacks we will be under, so we ask for your prayers! And we know, it doesn’t get easy at finalization, that’s when the pain and healing and attachment starts and will last a lifetime.
And just a side note if you haven’t been immersed in the adoption world, we won’t be sharing his story. We may share a few details with close family, but even our kids right now don’t know all of the parts. This is HIS story and we feel like he has the right to know first. But what you can know, he is right around 2 years old and healthy. He is precious and has beautiful dark eyes. He was wearing a Clifford shirt in his first photo at the agency, and looked scared. He has been at the baby home since last summer, and from doctors reports has been well taken care of.
Our kids have been so cute. Talking about baby brother. I have asked Anna if she is going to be a good big sister and she most remarkably says YES! I ask her if she is going to be ok with not being the baby anymore; sometimes she says yes, sometimes she says no :), and I think that’s fair.
I am carrying around his picture in my purse, so if you ask me to see it, even though it’s about 10 months old now, I will whip it out! But oh praise God for this journey. For the end He had in mind. Please be praying for us as we select a name. One of his given names means blessing, so we will probably keep that as his middle name. I have been calling him one name for awhile in my head. Eric likes it, but we’re just not sure. We want God to give us his name, like He has given us this son!
Thank you all so much for the prayers, we have felt and needed them! :) Our hearts are overflowing right now!
I don't even know where to start. And that has been my life for the past week. So I guess I'll start from the beginning, well not 3 years ago, but the beginning of this year. This post is about our adoption, so if that is not something you are happy about for us, you are welcome to stop reading now.
This year started off great with lots of prayer and hearing from God. I treasure those moments because they are not an every day thing for me. And if I really want to go into it, what a blessing to have a God that listens, loves, gives of Himself unconditionally. That sacrificed his only son, so that we could be lavished with his grace, his mercy. Not works based (Ephesians 2:4-10), but because of HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US. Sometimes I think, knowing I'm only pondering in my human brain, and I can't even imagine this great love for us. I know what it feels like to love my children, and He says he loved us first. His love is great (Read 1 John chapter 4 to learn about His love). And because of that great love, He predestined us for adoption as HIS sons and daughters.
Ephesians 1:5 In lovehe predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
We were made for a purpose. Not our will, but His be done. I didn't mean to speak all that, but the verses kept flooding my brain. Again, thankful for this past week, and my God proving faithful even when I didn't.
So, back up to January and we are cruising along. Still. I mean, as hard as it is to wait, to be 'paper pregnant' for almost 3 years, it has been fairly fluid. By this, I mean, anytime I would get sad at the process or the waiting, God would step in and remind me of WHY we are doing this. And that really, it's not about us at all. He was orchestrating our family and we had to simply be faithful. Our days are full, so most days, we prayed for our baby brother, and then got into our school/coop/church/serving/play/cooking time and did our best.
In February our agency (that sends out monthly emails, followed by calls by our social worker) sent out an email doozy. There are lots of issues with international adoption, Ugandan adoption, and making sure each piece of the puzzle is done with ethics and care, most importantly, for the vulnerable child, not the well-meaning adoptive parents. With that being said, our agency had to send out a hard email, with hard details, and we had to pray through it. Make sure we (Eric and I) were on the same page still and that God was still directing us down this specific path, because it will be difficult. It was actually good for us, because we did have to step-back, remember what WE specifically had been called to, and place our faith in what He has said to us.
We haven't shared much of the journey, but in the summer of 2012 (a year after we started our adoption process), we got an email that we were 15th on the waiting list. We kept moving each month and by October of 2012, we were 10th! And then it started, the waiting. We didn't move a spot until August 2013, about 10 months later. Many have asked so many questions on why. And I never know what all is proper to share in this setting, so I'll give basics. Our agency, and Ugandan officials, are very cautious when it comes to International Adoption. It should be seen as the last step. Our first goal is reunification! Whether it be with the birth parents if they are alive and able, or biological relatives. God created these families for a reason. And that has been the great part of being with our specific, Christian, agency. They have had to send email after email about no referrals were made, or no matches, but we have helped match X number of children back with their families. And each time I did a happy dance. Because that is where those children belong!
Ok, I could share forever, and if you want to know more, just call me, or take me to 'coffee' (I'm the person who likes to go for coffee, but I don't drink it, so I sit and talk and sip on my water) :). I'm going to post this now and save the rest for later. Will post later today or tomorrow, promise!
Do you have some great girlfriends? Did you know God’s word teaches us about biblical friendship? I’ve been learning that it takes time. It takes pursuit. It can be learned. It can be earned and lost. But most importantly, when it is Christ centered, it can be really, really good. Good for the soul. Good for the head. Good for the heart. Last October, I shared with friends and our missional community at church that I felt God was prompting me to write. As I continued praying about it, I felt it was going to be more like a bible study or devotional. I’m not going to lie, this scared the crap out of me.
1. I’m not a writer
2. I’m not a bible scholar
3. I’m much better at math
But, because God is ever faithful and equips those He calls, all the pieces started falling together. I was in a season of missing some close friends of mine. Some had moved. Some had life happen to them and they just didn’t have much time for me, and vice versa. At the same time, God put a specific idea in Cara’s head: she wanted to start a Girls Club. We continued talking about what that meant; what she might have wanted out of it. She really wanted to get together, do ‘arts and crafts’ with her friends, and pray. I was able to share that I had felt God prompting me to write, and as I prayed about it, I kept having the word friend or friendship come up. I asked her, “Would you be willing to set aside 5-10 minutes of your Girl’s Club for me to share a short devotion on friendship, and then we’ll do a craft that coincides?” She jumped at the chance, and I hit my knees in prayer that I wouldn’t screw this up. That God would use me, teach me, mold me as He molded these young hearts.
We had our first meeting in November, and decided we would meet twice a month. With the holidays and travel, we’ve met 6 times and it has been so good for my soul. We have public school, private school and home schooled friends that Cara wanted to invite, so we do it after school. We’ve learned about prayer, beauty, Christ’s love for us, our different gifts, and love for each other. And I say we because I mean it. God has taught me so much in preparing to teach these hearts. There have been so many amazingly cool moments watching my daughter and her sweet friends play, learn, laugh and create. And I will share some of those in a different post.
Along the way, I have had a handful of great friends praying for this journey. They know I’ve doubted my abilities and have had to fully rely on God’s grace. One of those friends who has taught me SO MUCH about biblical friendship for women in the church is Jackie Hooks. I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing her for almost 2 years. I’ve enjoyed following her faith journey, hearing her story, and watching her YES to Jesus feed children, clothe teen moms and babies, feed terminally sick adults, and love the unlovely, all while being a real person. Very real with her own struggles. And it has been extremely refreshing.
She is in the process of writing her story: another big YES for Jesus. But this involves pursuing management, having a book pitch, and a host of other things we as consumers never consider. So I wanted to give her a chance to use my blog to increase her name recognition, through proclaiming Christ’s name. She asked me to pray about a topic and almost immediately, I knew I wanted her to write about friendship. So Jackie, let’s hear it!
I am 38 years old. I am 38 years old with four kiddos and a husband and a fish that came from a rodeo carnival. My 20 year high school reunion is this September. I want to lose close to 950 pounds before I go, but that would require me to stop eating 7 meals a day. I totally dropped my kids off at school today in my cheetah print footie pajamas. It was cold. They are so warm. Yes, my children were embarrassed. But I stayed in the car for Pete’s Sake. My house is a mess. I can’t figure out why I clean it once a week. These crazy children mess it up daily. And no one knows where to keep their shoes so, today, while breakfast was happening (cereal…in the big bags that cost less and are all knock off brands) I had to look for two different missing tennis shoes, and plead with everyone to dress warm because Mommy is wearing her footie pajamas in the car not to look good but because it is 27 degrees outside!!! The recycling seems to move around the kitchen counter, and then to the garage on occasion. I sometimes find wet towels in random places in my children’s room. Our “art bin” has moved into like three art bins, and taken over some much needed shelf space in the pantry. But the art bins randomly make me feel like a better mom because maybe some creative things are going to happen in our house instead of just TV or Minecraft. All the laundry is clean and in a huge pile in the laundry room/pantry/art closet and I totally see it often, and wait to fold it for no good reason at all.
This is my life behind closed doors.
Yours might look a ton better.
No judgment from the Mom who fed her kids brownies at 9:00pm last night…
And then got completely annoyed that they were super hyper.
My oldest and dearest friend for the past 30 some odd years is Judah. We met in first grade at Ruby Ray Swift Elementary. Both of us were living through way too much life for 6 and 7 year olds. Both of our single moms were trying to keep their heads above water. Over the next 12 years, we walked home together from school. We told each other secrets. We cried together. Weathered bad hair cuts together. Went out of town together. Spent the night together constantly. Shared clothes so much that it was ridiculous. We drank coffee together every morning at her house during high school. We shared a locker. We hoped for classes together. We skipped school together. We got in a lot of trouble together. We stayed up all night talking on the phone all the time. We listened to the Indigo Girls, Dave Matthews, The Cure and made mixed tapes constantly. We sang at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down and cried over boys together. Oh My Goodness! I miss those days…there was never an insecurity if she liked me, or if she wanted to hang out with me, or if she would pick me over everyone else, or if we would go to each other’s birthday parties…nope…we were the very best of friends. If she pulled up, right now, to my house, I wouldn’t pick up a thing or even feel embarrassed. She wouldn’t care. She would not be here to see how clean I keep my house or how well my life is managed. She would be here to see ME. That is friendship.
I am 38 years old, and as I am nearing my 20th reunion and walking slowly down memory lane, and looking at my crazy messy life today…I miss those days. There were some really hard days. There were some really easy days. Some days you just sat and talked about what you would do with your life, and all the hopes you had…and I am living out some of those hopes…and some have long since been forgotten. There were plans made and broken. There were arguments. There was tremendous loyalty. There were parties in fields and parking lots. There were Friday night football games, and wearing your boyfriend’s jacket. There was summer, and driving to the lake, and riding around in our friend’s jeep. I could pop in at any time to Judah’s house, and the door was always open, and it was always the most fun, and I was always wanted, and I was always myself…and that was really really really good.
Today I am 38 years old and Making Friends is Not that Easy.
Making Friends that are Allowed to See My Messy House Seems Even Harder.
Making Friends that Wouldn’t JUDGE My Messy House Seems the Hardest of All.
It’s not supposed to be this hard. It really isn’t. I don’t know when it gets this hard…making friends…somewhere along the way between 6 and 38…we are hurt…we are injured…we have so many knife wounds in our backs that it is unbelievable. And we all walk around like we are just fine. Like we are ok being alone or scrambling to clean our house if our friends are ever coming over. Trying to seem ok in front of everyone else. And some of us are living way too much life for 38 year old moms. Some of us are just trying to keep our head above the waves, and sweeping our floors is at the bottom of a list that includes a million precious little things that we would give our life for…and floors didn’t make the cut again today. Some of us would just love a friend. Just one. Who would want to just see us…the really real us…with no make- up…no fancy…no fake…And sit and talk for hours about what we want to do with our life, and things we wish had never happened, and how we still think songs were written just for us.
I am hanging out today in the Book of Joshua. If you know anything about me, you know how much I love this book. Today I am in Joshua 10:1-15, and I am thinking about you and I am thinking about me. Joshua 10:1-15 is the account of Joshua and the Israelites and they have made a peace treaty with the city of Gibeon. Five Amorite Kings became really angry that the Gibeonites had decided to make that peace treaty, and take up all of their armies combined and attack the city of Gibeon. The city is surrounded by five armies, and they are scared, and they send word to Joshua asking for help. And you know what Joshua does? He gets his entire army, including “all the best fighting men” (10:7) and marches all night. Joshua and his men march all night to save the Gibeonites. All night. That is an unbelievable rescue effort. They surprise the opposing armies, and defeat them in a great victory. They don’t just defeat them, though, they continue to pursue them. Then Joshua asks God to let the sun stand still so he can completely destroy his enemies. What a crazy request!!! And the sun stands still. As he fights for his friends. And the enemy is defeated. And Joshua fought on behalf of the city of Gibeon because they had made a peace treaty with the Israelites. They were friends of the Israelites. That is friendship, and loyalty, and no questions asked…that peace treaty meant something.
We all want the march- all- night- to- come- to –my- rescue type of friends.
And at least try to stop the sun if it will save me.
We all do.
When we moved to Katy, we were starting over. Three years ago we walked into this enormous suburb, and I was forced to make new friends amidst the impeccable landscaping and never ending master planned communities. And I would have to hope that these friends would become dirty house friends, laundry all over the floor type of friends, my kids don’t always behave type of friends. And I didn’t have twelve years to cultivate this type of friendship. I just needed it. And it started to seem like everywhere I turned there were only clean houses and there were only perfectly behaved children and people swept every day and only fed their children healthy breakfasts. And I began to feel that horrible feeling, like I didn’t belong and there was no one who would get me, and that I would just endure my time here…that I would just pretend that everything was fine. And there were some false starts, and painful moments in the beginning. But God is good, and over the past three years He has brought women into my life that I cannot live without. Women who check on me in all of my insanity, women who watch my kids (even when there are four kids) just so my husband and I can have a night out, women who drop by, women who have morning coffee available, women who text me scripture and women who make me a mixed tape. Because mixed tapes still rock in case you wondered.
Today I went to a friend’s house; we had plans to eat lunch there. She was wearing sweats, and had her hair pulled back and laundry was on the dining room table. As Joshua began to roam around, she said that she was sorry, but she hadn’t swept the floors. And I said that I didn’t care because you know what? I didn’t care at all. It was music to my ears. She loves me enough to NOT clean. She knows I love her enough to NOT care. I am there to eat lunch with my friend. Nothing more. Nothing less. We talked about our kids. Our struggles. Parenting. Being married. My high school reunion. Her 40th birthday. Her house. Decorating. The weather. Jesus. And an hour went by in the blink of an eye. And I had to get home, and she had to get going. And I needed this today. I needed this friendship in my life.
God does not want us to be alone.
He does not want us to be lonely.
He did not create us so we could languish in isolation and acquaintances.
When the city of Gibeon cried out for help, Joshua got up and went. There was no complaining about inconvenience, there was no why can’t you just save yourself, there was no pretending they didn’t notice. Joshua got his troops and marched all night. When the enemy was defeated, Joshua asked God to let the sun stand still so that the people who surrounded, and threatened and tried to destroy the friendly city of Gibeon could be eradicated. There is a place inside each of us that longs to be that type of “worth it” to someone else. For it really to be ok to make the phone call in the middle of the night. For it really to be ok to ask for the extra mile or two. For it really be ok to just stop by whenever. To not always have to be running for mayor where ever we go…with a fake handshake and some campaign slogans and a few clean jokes…For it to be ok to be boring, or silly, or overly inappropriately hungry in a buffet line…To just be ok just like you are. I believe inside each of us is a 12 year old girl going to a junior high dance. And it gets tiring trying to figure out what everyone else is wearing. And everyone else is trying to figure out the same thing. We need each other plain and simple. We need people to see us in our everyday ordinary life and still believe that we are extraordinary. We need to be loved like Jesus would love us.
So, here is the really hard part: you have to be the one to start loving people like Jesus. You have to be the one to uncross your arms, and quit waiting for your friends to miraculously walk through your door on any given Wednesday, and you have to love big. You have to trust that Jesus is putting the right people in your life, and open your door wide and just be yourself when people walk in…let your guard down…take your mask off…And then when they need you, be there. Be there big. March all night for someone, because that is how you want to be loved. We are loving our neighbor as ourselves y’all, and it is dang hard. And then just live life with them. And invite them to live life with you. And talk all night if you can…or at least for an hour. And sing at the top of your lungs, share clothes, cry together, and stop sweeping your floors for your friends…
Or maybe just make them a mixed tape.
Because mixed tapes still rock y’all.
And an all night march might change someone’s life.
“After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise.” Joshua 10:9
And that my friends is why I love Jackie Hooks! If you would be so kind in helping her reach one of her goals, go like her official "Author" page on Facebook right here, and if you were blessed by her writing, share, share and share! Thank you!