Dossier and LID

I shared with you yesterday about mailing our dossier!  I braved the post office with three small little ones and mailed it!  After our agency reviews it, they send it to Washington D.C. to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy. Then, back to the agency again.  As soon as our agency gets the dossier back they send it to China.  This process could take up to 3-4 weeks.  My prayer is to be logged in (LID = logged in date) by the end of August!  Once our dossier is LID, we are officially on the waiting list.  We can be matched with a child anytime after that. 

Some other exciting news is that our agency is now getting referrals every 2-3 weeks instead of once a month from China.  It does not necessarily mean we will be getting a referral faster, but it does seem to to indicate that more referrals are becoming available. 

For those interested in adoption, please do not hesitate to contact me!  I would love to share with you how we made the decision to adopt as well as the process so far. You can also check out my Adoption Page.

And remember, a Back-to-School Blog Hop will be happening next Tuesday, August 5.  I am going to be featuring a School Room Makeover and a quick DIY project!

Here is a little preview:


A Stack of Papers

It may look like *just* a stack of papers, but it is not.  It is so much more than that.

This stack of papers represents:

About 100 (more or less) forms filled out.
A half dozen phone calls.
A dozen emails.
Staying up late.
Sitting in the floor of my computer room scanning documents.
Trips to the drug store for photos.
Trips to government offices.
A friend coming over to notarize at nine o'clock at night.
Months of waiting.
Lots of hard work!

Even though the list of documents for the dossier seemed daunting at first, it all seems completely doable now.  Do NOT let the amount of paperwork fool you - she is WORTH IT ALL.  At times, especially waiting for the I-800A to be approved, it seemed to drag on and on.  It was a slow torture waiting.  Oh how God taught me a lot through this special waiting period. 

The next step is sending this stack of papers to our agency for a final review - and then off to China!  Once our dossier is logged in (LID = Logged In Dossier) - we change the waiting game.  Instead of waiting to complete paperwork, we will be waiting for a referral. (A referral = a match = a child = a little face that will be ours.)  This next phase of waiting is the one that I have been dreading.  It is the "real" waiting that adoptive parents do.  Whether you are adopting internationally or domestically, you wait until either you are matched via your agency or a birth mother chooses you. God has so much more to teach me in this next phase.  My prayer is that I can stay focused on HIM and HIS WORD.

Prayer Requests:
1. *BIG ONE* That all of our paperwork is CORRECT and our dossier will be sent to China this week!
2. Dossier to arrive in China with no problems.
3. We can be LID soon!

Thank you for sharing in our journey!  I post a little more updates on my Instagram - so feel free to follow me there with the user name: ABIDINGINGRACE.


Honest Moments - I Am Lonely


It's Monday - Let's be Honest: I am lonely.

I wake up to little feet bounding down the stairs. As I make my way down to the kitchen, I am greeted by cheerful, but demanding voices. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. Can we have mac n cheese to eat? I pour my coffee, rub my back and begin my day.

It is the simple conversation that dominates my day. Mommy, did you know....Mommy, can I please have another yogurt drink....Mommy, can we go to the park.....Mommy? Mommy! They are either demanding or fighting. I crave silence so bad that I leave them in the house for a few minutes to sit in our garage. A hot, sticky, gas-smelling sauna. I'd rather have the gas-smell and peace, even if it is just for a minute.

Sometimes at the end of the day, I realize that I have had NO adult conversation all day long. Maybe for five minutes on the phone with my husband, but other than that - all I talked about was superheroes, potty happenings, and why some caterpillars will not be butterflies but moths.

I am in a season of loneliness.

It is not my first season of loneliness. Right out of high school during the summer before my first year of college I was in a season of loneliness. My "friends" left for bigger and better things. We switched churches. Even though I was a home-body, I still felt extremely lonely on Friday nights with nothing to do. The Lord brought me a friend. She was older than me, with three small girls. Her husband worked nights. She was alone in the evenings. Looking back, maybe she was lonely as well and didn't mind a teenager coming over to just talk. We studied God's Word. She mentored me and helped mold me into the person I am today. We are still close friends. That season ended with college, which led to new friends, which led to a best friend, which led to a marriage, and well...

Six years ago I was beginning a new season of loneliness. My first baby was born and I became what I *thought* I had always wanted to be: A Stay At Home Mom! Spoiler for all you soon-to-be or want-to-be stay-at-home-moms: it can be lonely. It shocked me how lonely that time was. I'll never forget what my mom told me though: Enjoy this time, she said. Study God's Word. Take advantage of naptime and having free time. FREE TIME?! What?! With a newborn?! Little did I know how much free time I really did have. I felt so alone at the time. I thought the season would pass faster - just like that summer before college. Nope. I am still in a season of loneliness.

I am still taking my mother's advice though: studying God's Word and taking advantage of naptime.

In a recent article at the LMP Blog, Lindsee shared how God wanted her all to Himself. She was going through what would be considered as a time of loneliness. Yet, she saw it as a time where she could be alone with Jesus.

She quoted Isaiah 30:15 (which is actually a verse I have been meditating on for a week now):

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not.

But you would not. Israel bulked at the idea of returning to God. Have I been bulking this season of loneliness? Have I been trying to avoid being lonely because I thought it a negative feeling? We can embrace this season. It is a season that we can be alone with Jesus. We can pour our hearts out to Him. He can have all of our attention (at least during naptime and/or bedtime). He is enough.

But you would not. Israel did not want God to be enough to defeat their enemies. They wanted chariots. They wanted armies. God wanted to be their strength and confidence. Do we see this season of loneliness as a season of emptiness? Do we see the strength that awaits us when we rest and return to God?

Isaiah 26:3-4
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

This season of loneliness is simply a season of aloneness - Time alone with God. Instead of struggling with feelings of loneliness, we can use these times of aloneness. We have no distractions. God has us all to Himself. We have only Him to rely on. That season of loneliness I had the summer before college was one of extreme spiritual growth. I grew closer to God than ever before. This season can be that too.
Isaiah 58:11
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Over and over again, during different seasons of loneliness, or aloneness, we must ask ourselves: IS GOD ENOUGH?

He is dear one.

He is.

Embrace this season. Embrace feelings of loneliness and run to God. We may not have all the answers. We may still need to have a lunch date with a friend. We still need to go to church and meet with other women. We may still feel lonely. He may not give us people to cure our loneliness, but He will give us Himself.

Psalm 62:1-2
Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.

Every Monday my friend Kerri and I are sharing our
"Honest Moments."
Make sure to check her out today too!

Please contact me if you would like to share your "Honest Moments" or if you are also in a season of loneliness.


Friday Favorites - Living in this Season Blog

I am so excited to introduce to you:
She is a wife to her husband of 9 years. She has 3 little ones ages 5, 2, and 1 month. She strives to life a life honoring to God and being intentional in her daily life. A passion of hers is to encourage other moms as we go through the seasons of life. Her blog is filled with honest moments of life, DIY projects and kid activities. Here is one of my favorite posts:

chalk post

This is a GREAT summer activity for your little ones.
As you can see, Keri and I have a LOT in common!  We are both moms to three (two boys and a girl).  Both our firstborns are named Jack! I've also loved getting to know her through the monthly link-ups we have.  She is the organizer behind all of those! 
Just a reminder of the Link-Ups coming up:
Also, wanted to let you know that we are having a Blog Hop in August to celebrate the beginning of school!  Are you anxious about school?  Read for it to start? NOT ready?  If you come back on August 5, you can hop from one blog to another to get ideas as you prep for school!  There will be inspiring ideas and helpful tips! 
We will be having a GIVEAWAY!  Details to come next week!
 The very next week we will be having a Link-Up Party as well for Back-to-School ideas!  Lots of fun stuff coming in August!


I Will Come to You

She lost her husband after sixty years,
and as he slipped away
 she still had things to say.
Death can be so inconvenient.
You try to live and love.
It comes and interrupts.
- Lyrics from Sara Grove's song "What Do I Know"

A friend from out of state recently lost her husband of ten years. He died suddenly in a motorcycle accident. She is now a widow at 33 years old, with five small children, (ages 8 years to 1 month).  There were things left to say. My heart breaks for her every single day. I wear my grandmother's ring and when I look down, tears will sometimes fill the corners of my eyes. Losing her almost four years ago was very hard. Even today, I still have things to say. We may not understand death or have experienced it to the depths others have (losing a child, a parent, or a sibling.) We all know that death is a separation that hurts.

If you've read "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak, you know that the story is told through the eyes of death.  In the book, it follows a young girl in the heart of Germany during the second world war.  It is a book about living and dying.  Although it was a very well-written book, with lots of good themes, the only hope it gave was: Live your best life while you can, until death takes you.

As Christians, our best hope is found in scripture!

I first came across John 14:18 in my search for scripture regarding adoption. If we study the context, however, Jesus is speaking to the disciples at the Last Super - right before He is to die. He is preparing them for His death, but mostly for His return to Heaven. He is going to leave them. They are going to be alone.

I think of my dear friend with five little ones - alone.
I think of my daughter in China - alone.

My heart aches for those who are alone. My heart aches because I, too, have felt alone. We all have felt alone.

What does Jesus promise His disciples?

"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."

This promise is not speaking specifically of His Second Coming - although He will physically come again. This promise of "I will come to you" means the Holy Spirit.

In just the next few verses we see: John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all the things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

We are NOT alone!

If we are one of God's children, we have the Holy Spirit IN US! We are not orphans! If we are saved, trusting in Jesus alone for our salvation, we are a CHILD of GOD!

Rest dear one, plagued by heartache. God is not going to leave us alone.
We may feel alone, but we aren't.
We may seem alone, but we aren't.

My daughter, sitting alone in an orphanage has a family. She belongs to us. We do not know her name. We do not know her face. Yet, she belongs to us.

Dear daughter of the King - you are not an orphan. You belong to the King. He knows your face! He knows your name! You belong to Him.


Honest Moments - Jesus is Better Than Coffee

I was not a coffee drinker until I had my second son. Being up with a newborn was one thing. It was adding a two-year-old to the mix that complicated my sleep patterns. I've heard the "experts" say that for every hour of sleep you lose, you have to sleep two hours to make it up. I'm about six years behind.

Some days I just STAY tired. It doesn't matter if I get five or ten hours of sleep, my body, mind and spirit are completely worn out.

I get too tired to take a shower.

I get too tired to fix meals.

I get too tired to clean.

One day at six o'clock in the evening, I caught myself staring into space - my mind a complete blank. I woke up from my haze with a little voice demanding:"I'm hungry!!" What? Where did you come from? I thought, Where am I? How did I even get here? What time is it.....?

When my mornings begin with exhaustion, I know it is going to be tough day. My prayers of God, please give me strength seem feeble and desperate. Life is exhausting at time.  I get tired....

....mentally: You mean I have to figure out what is for dinner AGAIN?!

...physically: Why must my laundry room be in the basement and my bedrooms on the THIRD FLOOR?!

...spiritually: I'm reading God's word and trying to pray - but I'm still tired!

What do you do when your soul is tired?

I Thess. 5:16-18; 23-24
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you....Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

When we feel so tired to even function: pray.

When we feel so exhausted to even lift a finger: read God’s Word.

When we are just sitting on the couch, ignoring the chaos because our energy is at a zero: rejoice and give thanks.

I Thess. 5:24: He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

God is faithful, dear mother. He is faithful to give you strength. Those prayers we pray in the morning that are simply God, give me strength, are enough. He gives us strength. He is faithful to supply our needs. If our needs are to get more rest, He will provide the time. If our needs are to need more alone time, He will give it to us. If our needs are to make it through the day, He does that too!

God will do it, dear mother. It is through His power that we are sanctified. Yes, we are commanded to pray, rejoice, and read scripture - but the end result are HIS responsibility. He will make us more like-Christ.  It is through His power that we make it one more day, or hour, or minute, or second.

We do not need to be sprinting through life.
We need only walk.
Or crawl.
Or sit and think.

So, today - I give you permission to sit down. Rest. Maybe while you sit the laundry is unfolded, the dishes are dirty, and the toys are on the floor. Rest. Give thanks. Rejoice. Pray. Nourishing our spirit gives our soul strength. Rest. The laundry can wait.  Enjoy that extra cup of coffee – but remember to have it with Jesus.

My friend Kerri is also sharing today, so make sure to check her out.


Friday Favorites - Mrs Coach Sims Blog

My Friday Favorite is another Link-Up blogger:
Tara Sims {Mrs. Coach Sims}
She blogs over on Mrs. Coach Sims!
She says:
I am a wife to a coach, mom to two little ones (not so little anymore)...living in a small Texas town and trying to enjoy each and everyday! I am grateful for the Lord and all of his many blessings...he has blessed me way more than I deserve!
My blog is not only a virtual diary for my kids, but I also share stories about being a coach's wife, love & marriage, parenting, my faith, recipes and about living simply and enjoying the little things!
You can check out one of her recent posts about simplifying your life! 
 I just loved her suggestions can't wait to try them!
Thanks to Tara for allowing me to feature her today!


When the Adoption is at a Standstill

We are still waiting for an approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  For all those NOT in the adoption world, that is approval from the U.S. government giving us permission to pursue an adoption. This approval (I-800A) is a form that allows our child to be a US citizen as soon as we bring her home.

Just one more step....

When we get that approval we can send in our dossier!!!

I used to chuckle at the families who posted pictures of themselves with their mailing packages that contained the dossier. What is the big deal? It is just a packet of information.  Now I can understand the relief, joy, and pride. That packet of papers represents MONTHS of work! We've been working on our dossier since April. It is now the middle of July. It is also significant because after the dossier, the REAL waiting begins. The next step after the dossier is to wait for a referral (aka: the child!) That wait time is estimated (by our agency) to be 6-18 months. It might be sooner, but expect that time-frame. All hopes of bringing her home this year are slowly fading. I see now that it will probably be next year. If I thought waiting was hard before, I have no idea.

Before, I have had things to do: people to call, doctor's appointments, letters to gather, financial statements to write out. I will have nothing to do during this phase of waiting.

So what will we do?
We will pray for her.
We will live our lives.
We will save money for the next step (which is travel and it cost THE MOST).
We wait.

If this adoption seems as if it is at a standstill, I know that it isn't. God is still working.

What struck me as I waited for this government form is the fact that the form is on its way. It isn't sitting on someone's desk (hopefully!) It is in the mail, on its way to us. It is coming.

When I think about our daughter, just sitting there in an orphanage, I get very heartsick and begin to worry. What I need to remember is that God is still working. She is not ready for us. We are not ready for her. Just like that form is on its way - she is on her way! God is not just sitting on His throne, waiting. He is working!

He is working in my heart.
He is working in the hearts of our family.
He is working in my husband's heart.
He is working in the hearts of all who will be involved with our daughter's adoption.
He is working behind the scenes, orchestrating all the circumstances that will bring her to us.

She is not just sitting in an orphanage, she is on her way! She is coming.

As we face this next phase of waiting, please pray with us (and for us) that God will remind us of these truths everyday:
God is working.
She is coming.

I want to encourage you as well.

Do you feel as if your life is at a standstill?
Have you had to put your own dreams on hold because you have small children?
Do you have to take the less-than-ideal job to get experience for the job you really want?
Do you have to take care of a family member, giving up all your own free time?
Are you waiting for a promotion?
Are you waiting for your kids to grow up?
Are you waiting on test reports?

You may not be able to see Him working, but He is!

He is working in your heart.
He is working in the circumstances.
If you are curious about our timeline so far for the adoption, you can click here to find out where we've been and where we need to go.


Honest Moments - Messes

I am joining Keri from Living in this Season for a special series. Keri is a stay-at-home mom with three little ones.  She has two little boys and a brand new baby girl!  She writes about motherhood, fun activities, recipes, and DIY projects!

Every Monday we are going to be sharing

Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook would say that life is perfect.  Everyone is always smiling.  The house is neatly decorated.  Families never fight. Messes don't exist.  Real life is not like that.  Real life is hard.  Women face a lot of emotions and sometimes feel guilty that we are not happy all of the time.  We hope by sharing with you our Honest Moments, you can put aside the guilt and begin to live in God's grace. We hope to not simply share with you our struggles, but also our hope. We want to encourage you to grow to be a better woman and embrace the life God has given you.  God is faithful, even if life is not.

Today I want to be honest about messes: I HATE THEM.

Forget pretty decorations, Spiderman underwear, basketball themed shirts, and little socks are piled up on my dresser. I walk into the bathroom to find cat hair around the sink. The floor next to the toilet is wet. Oh dear God, please let it be from the shower and not from pee. Cobwebs hang from the ceiling. Sticky syrup dots the counter. Crumbs stick to my feet as I walk to get my coffee.

Little ones make messes....I have little ones...How
does that work? 

I find that I do two things:
I am obsessive compulsive about cleaning. I clean every day, all day long.
I cope.  I turn a blind eye to all the clutter and dirt. I go outside and play.


Some days I clean up messes all day long.  I clean them because I can't stand them. I will vacuum, sweep, mop, wash dishes (by hand because if they sit in the dishwasher they are not clean), do laundry, get out my Swiffer duster, and go on an organizing streak!  I get to the end of my day and am exhausted.  I am also sad because even though I have a clean house, I hardly engaged with my little ones at all.  Regret and guilt take over.  The inner dialogue of What a horrible mother, my children didn’t get to play hardly at all outside today.

I am tired of being obsessive about cleaning though. I struggle with this. I struggle with finding the balance. I cannot live in a dirty house - but I do not want to be so obsessed with cleaning that I miss playing with my kids. Sometimes I feel guilty for choosing to clean.  I think, Am I putting my house above my little ones?

Some days I don’t clean at all!  I ignore the mess, clutter, dirt, and crumbs.  I spend time playing outside, going to the pool, or running errands.  I forget about my house and enjoy my little ones.  I get to the end of my day and am exhausted.  I am also sad because even though I spent time with my kids, my house is a MESS!  Because my tendencies are obsessive compulsive, I sometimes spend two-three more hours after bedtime cleaning.  The inner dialogue is this, Ugh!  I hate cleaning, I am so tired, and I still have so much to do!

Finding that balance is so hard. 

My Bible flipped open to Proverbs 17:1 today: “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.”  and Proverbs 3:33 “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just.”

My house is more than rooms.  My house is the people in it.  My cleaning should not cause strife.  If I get irritated at others because they are not cleaning, or are making messes – my heart is not right.   God says that He will bless the home of the just – not the home of the clean.  A clean house does not mean that I am doing everything right.  A messy house does not mean that I am failing either.

I needed that reminder today.

When it comes to cleaning, I don’t have to ignore and I don’t have to obsess: I can rest.

“Better is a dry morsel with quietness” – Resting in what God has given us brings peace to our houses.  God wants peace to reign, not strife.  Letting the messes destroy peace is not what He wants for my home.

“He blesses the home of the just” – I am covered in Grace.  Messy house or not, I am loved by Him.  He will bless, not based on our outward appearances, but on our inward hearts.

Oh, and remember: A House is Made to be Lived In!!

Free Printable

You can find a free printable of this at Glitter Bug!

Some helpful tips might be
1. Designate ONE day a week to do most of your chores. OR
2. Designate ONE chore a day and by the end of the week you've done them all!
3. Have your children help with cleaning!
4. Have someone come in and either help you clean, or watch your little ones while you clean.

What about you dear mom?

Are you struggling with finding the balance when it comes to cleaning?

Are you feeling guilty for cleaning? For not cleaning?

You are loved.
God wants you to rest in Him.

Share below if you've found anything helpful when it comes to balancing messes and spending time with your little ones!

Share also if you struggle with this!  We moms need to encourage each other!

Family Fun Activities - Camping

Our Monthly Link-Up for July is Family Fun Activities!
Our family really enjoys camping...
although it was not always so for me.
Before I met my husband, I was this person:
  The bugs....ewww
The dirt....ewww
Sleeping on the ground....ewww!
No bathroom...ewww!
Now, it is one of our favorite family activities. Although I wouldn't go so far to say that I LOVE camping, I do enjoy it!

Some of the reasons are:
Being unplugged.
Although we get service, we like to put away our phones away and only use them for calling. No Facebook. No Instagram. No internet. We cheated a little by posting a picture or two, but for the most part we just enjoyed being together, unplugged.

Although birds and neighbors can be loud - the lack of noise from appliances, AC, traffic, etc. is wonderful. 
Being Together - Out of Town.
Everyone can relate to going on vacation: you still do the same things - but you get to do them in a new place!
God's Creation
I love that my boys get to explore!  They gathered sticks, threw rocks, got dirty, and just explored the campsite looking for adventure.  We drove to the lake one evening at dusk - it was beautiful!  Our God truly is an amazing artist!
A lot of people are hesitant in taking their little ones camping....but we have found the secret:

Stay up late and wear them out!!
We know that even if they do go to bed late, the birds will wake them up in the morning. BRIGHT AND EARLY. The best revenge we ever had was last year. ALL night, yes ALL NIGHT long our neighbors across the campground blared music. We had worn the kids out so much that they never even heard it. Jason and I, on the other hand, looked at each other about 2AM and were seriously debating letting our dog loose on purpose.  If she disrupted their party, so be it. 6AM came REALLY early for us.  Our revenge for those thoughtless neighbors?? Kids screaming and playing at 6:30AM...you're welcome. The next night, surprisingly, we didn't hear a thing.

This year we stayed in a different location. My aunts both have campers - I think I could LOVE camping if I had a camper. So we stayed near them.  It was much quieter. You can't escape the birds, but at least we didn't have loud music playing! We really loved our spot this year and will probably camp there again. There was a playground across the field (a LIFE SAVER!).  The pool and lake were just a five-minute car ride away.  AND the bathhouse was within walking distance!
 Helpful Tips
Some other helpful tips when you take little ones camping are:
1. Be flexible.
2. Don't be afraid of dirt. (Everything can be cleaned)
3. Bring trashbags.
4. Bring a clothes line.
5. Bring lots of snacks!
6. Bring balls and outdoor toys.
7. Bring two pairs of shoes for everyone.
8. Expect to stay up late and get up early.
9. Let them explore.
10. Get them each a flashlight and/or glow sticks - you can find cheap ones at the dollar store!
Here are a few pictures from our trip last week:

It rained some the second day, so we played "I Spy" and told stories in the tent!

Check out all the other Link-Up Activities as well!!



Friday Favorites - All Kinds of Things Blog

For this "Friday Favorite" I have one of my favorite bloggers!
Elizabeth at "All Kinds of Things"
So glad you joined me here today!
I've known Elizabeth for several years and she is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet!  She has been such an encouragement to me as I have tried to grow my blog this year. 
She is an elementary teacher turned mommy of two little boys - On her blog you'll find "All Kinds of Things" about her daily happenings!

From recipes and DIY projects to organizational tips and thoughts on faith and parenting, her blog includes "all kinds of things" that will encourage readers in their life's journey to live well!

A recent post: "Five Things to Take to a New Mom" she shares so valuable tips for those who want to encourage new moms!  Check it out!

Follow "All Kinds of Things" on Instagram: allkindsofthings
Follow "All Kinds of Things" on Facebook: All Kinds of Things
Follow "All Kinds of Things" on Pinterest: All Kinds of Things
Follow "All Kinds of Things" on Bloglovin': All Kinds of Things