When You Question God’s Sovereignty, Because It Is The First Time You Have Had To

Growing up in church, attening Sunday school, going to VBS, Church Camps and on and on, it becomes engrained in your head that God is Sovereign.  And you believe that.  Or do you?  Or is it just an acquired taste you developed because you are in the midst of such a thick westernized Christian mindset and reality is you haven’t tasted anything else to make you doubt it?  To doubt God’s goodness. Is it a constant westernized and privilege Christian culture, being poured on you so thick that is confused with a true rooted faith in God? Maybe the reality is that you have never really had to step too far out to see what you actually believe when darkness happens.

You get older and you see the world really does have darkness and you see how God’s word is always true and relevant.  Darkness transpiring in the world that has been promised would happen in the Bible hundreds of years ago.  And you’re like “Yea! (pat yourself on your spiritual back). I really have a strong foundation. My feet are firmly planted.I get this.”  You have even seen specific situations where you know the Lord has clearly orchestrated and painted beauty out of ashes in your life that only He could do. But is that enough?

For me, this was tested a year ago, September 20th 2015 to be exact, and the weeks that followed.  A late night phone call from my mom; my cousin died.  “All four,” she said.  “All four?” I repeated.  “Yes.”  …. “All four?” …  “Yes.”  I asked this question over and over while my mom said “Yes”, over and over allowing it to sink in.  My cousin died, along with her husband and their 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter.  Hit by an intoxicated driver while they came home after church.  Of course he walked out just fine.

It didn’t make sense.  She had been a missionary.  She loved Jesus.  She was sort of a spiritual icon to me. That sounds tacky but it is true. If you knew her, the first thing you knew is that she loved Jesus. It was the first thing you knew at her wedding ceremony, it was the first thing I knew when I was a child trying to impress her with my Point Of Grace CDs. She met her husband on the mission field.  He was a missionary too. She already faced extreme death experiences which should have been the end of her life, taken by savages while she was in Africa.  The same savages who had raped and killed all of the other women they had previously taken.  But they let her go.  She prayed out loud while she was in the vehicle with them.  She said the name of Jesus over and over, and eventually something happened where they told her to “get out and go.”  This was when she should have died.  This would have made more sense. This was the first thing that came into my mind and also why I couldn’t allow her and her family’s death to sink in.  If she was going to die it would have been there in Africa, but God spared her.  Why now? Later I learned her husband had faced bombings on the mission field.  He should have died there.

Why did they come back to the United States to raise their small kids, just to get hit by an intoxicated driver on the way home from church in their Houston suburb?  That is like someone swimming across the Atlantic just to come home and drown in a backyard swimming pool.  It didn’t make sense.  It was the worst story line I could imagine.  God’s sovereignty and goodness all of a sudden didn’t make any sense.  Or really, had it ever made sense? Had I ever had a situation where I really had a chance to question it until now?  Was I confusing an engrained culture of VBS with a true understanding of Gods sovereignty and goodness?  I couldn’t even think about it without it hurting my brain.  Sometimes I still can’t.

Seeing a 4 year old and a 6 year old lying side by side in a casket with their parent’s caskets on either side of them is too much.  Their little faces. I remembered them running and jumping around in a hotel lobby just the year before.  Lord, did you allow them to be born only to allow them to die at age 4 and 6? I wrestled with this. If someone else was telling me this same thing,  I would have a biblical answer to sling at them, but as I was the standing there I couldn’t find a Bible verse or a prayer to help wrap my  mind around this.  I could tell myself every Bible verse I had ever heard (and I have heard many) but when the rubber meets the road I didn’t feel like it was enough. My Aunt Kay and I looked at each other and just cried and we both said “I know, I know.”  That is what we said because there was nothing else to say.  Except the thing is, I didn’t know.

This is when you really have to dig deep, or maybe dig for the first time because until then, most of the heartaches in life had been within a grasp of my understanding.  A bad breakup, a failed adoption placement, the death of a family member due cancer; all sad, but nothing that shook me or my faith in God. All these scenarios I was able to pray and “Give it to God” as the saying goes. But this was too much.

There is a saying that people say “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Well that is crud and isn’t even in the Bible. Gasp! I knew that before and I know that now, but it is crazy how we have made it up and twisted a truth in God’s word so much that it is not recognizable.  Like a really botched plastic surgery job. And maybe even though I knew that saying was not accurate, I was somehow holding onto the vibe of it. The fact is, He can and will give you things you cannot handle.  The difference is that HE can handle them.  You can also throw out the window the most twisted prosperity gospel verse plucked out by westernized Christianity ….. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11. That verse, which is mounted on walls and quilted on pillows, is taken so far out of context.  No one seems to quote the verses which come before or after that verse, or even talk about the context of where that verse comes from…..Let’s just say those verses are not “throw pillow worthy.”  And when you are standing there looking at two little faces, the thought of that misinterpreted verse makes you want to vomit. The thought that God allowed this to happen made me nauseous. If your faith doesn’t go beyond plucking Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, you are going to be a mess.

The funeral was the most deeply rich funeral I have been to.  People from all over the world flew in.  The media was outside the church and the local news station left knowing how much this family loved Jesus. My cousin’s brother in law spoke and gave a sermon that was so clearly ordained it was breathtaking and even healing to listen to.  Singing praise songs (I come from a family of loud singers) initially felt foreign to sing, but that is because I realized I really had never had to sing a praise song in the light of true tragedy or in the midst of questioning God.  But this may have been the most genuine praise song I have ever sung.

It was time to get real.  I am still working on it, I still struggle. But this is what I have learned….

-I can be angry with God and Praise Him all at the same time.

-God can handle my anger

-There are times in life you later find a silver lining but that is never a promise God gives. That is a human desire and doesn’t reflect the character of God.

-I have to be in God’s word daily. I fail at this so much, but how can we have hope without opening the Bible and being in connection with the Creator?

– The thing that gives peace, the ONLY thing that gives peace is that she LOVED Jesus. That is the one and only variable that matters whether a person dies tragic and young, or soft and cozy in their bed at age 95.

-By me questioning His sovereignty doesn’t mean He is not fully sovereign.  It does not take Him off the throne as the one and only true God.  He is still soverign even if my emotions do not align.

– The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 

I don’t know if I am at the point where I am thankful for what I have learned and continue to learn. Maybe I am getting there, and in the meantime my prayers are transparent to God about my struggles. I want to leave with the sweet true words of my cousin. If I were to point you to my cousin, she would point you to Jesus. That was her. That was her life.  And that is the only thing in this whole situation that matters.

This was her Facebook post about 3 weeks before she died……

“Keepin’ it real in this particular status-

A song came on as I was walking through my house just now and it ALWAYS stops my thoughts when I hear it and I begin to ask: Who did my allegiance belong to today? My answer is that I want my allegiance to be to Jehovah, my Savior God; but in reality, have my actions and words today shown that allegiance? I can instantly think of many times that I failed to live gloriously for Him today. Oh Father, forgive me. This struggle is real! I need You!

If I had no voice. If I had no tongue. I would dance for you like the rising sun. And when that day comes and I see your face. I will shout your endless glorious praise –Colton Dixon”

 

mendy

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I was Embarrassed to be a BeachBody Coach

When I first signed up as a coach and decided to actually “go for it” I felt nauseas posting my first BeachBody post. I may have even had my husband press “post” when I first announced I was coaching. Why? Because I was embarrassed! I was scared about what people would think! I wish I could go back in time and give myself a hug and a pep talk and say “Katie, it is none of your business what people think. And really, they probably are not even thinking that much about you anyway so stop being a baby and Go do your thang girl!”

Here were my top 3 reasons why I was embarrassed…..

Ugh! Network Marketing…Gag me

I was pretty sure I would lose 90% of my friends and the loyal 10% would just be ashamed of me. We have all been annoyed with people selling stuff. And everyone on social media seems to be selling something. A pill, a wrap, a patch, some oil, a workout plan. I have been the victim of some obnoxious canned emails and messages from “friends” who don’t know me or know if I would even benefit from a certain product. And as quickly as they have copied and pasted their canned message and sent it my way, I have clicked “unfriend” and then avoided them in church or a restaurant if I run into them.

I have a Career, and two master’s degrees

Seriously! As pompous as this sounds, I have 2 master’s degrees and a very good career that I am proud of. Why oh why would I resort to being a Beachbody Coach? It seems like a joke right?

I am FAT

I hate this negative self talk but it was how I spoke to myself. This is probably the one thing I was most embarrassed about….that I was a Fat coach.  And let me tell you, I am STILL a serious work in progress. When I started out as a coach I was at my highest weigh on the scale. I was avoiding the mirror and clothes shopping and was trying to be the “funny” or “intellectual” girl to compensate for my ever expanding waist and chubby cheeks. Why would someone ever want me to coach them?

The REALITY

The reality- Net Work Marketing

You don’t have to be annoying like a used cars sales man! In fact, BeachBody begs you not to be. I started using BeachBody products in March of 2015 and fell in love. I was at the highest on the scale and the lowest with my self-esteem. I was desperate. I tried a program and I even more reluctantly tried the Shakeology and joined an accountability group. AND IT WORKED. And I get to share that story….MY STORY….It was a plan of action toward health that I could do and stick with and I had a coach and an accountability group to help keep my head in the game. I had a community of sisterhood that gave me a vision and hope. WOW!!! It was easy and no gimmicks. Yes I had to put in the work, but nothing excessive, just consistent. And it was clear cut and the results came. It lead me to losing 35lbs before I got pregnant a few months later. Now, 10 weeks post-partum and I have lost ALL MY BABY WEIGHT AND another 10lbs on top of that. That’s 45lbs down total for all of you who are like me and are mathematically impaired. Basically I lost the weight of Justin Bieber.

So this Justin Bieber sized weight loss was life changing. See that. That is my story. That is my form of “network marketing.” Sharing and being transparent and sharing that opportunity for others who may want to be apart.

Not some canned pushy email being sent to someone you know nothing about. PLEASE! GAH!

The reality- I have a Career, and two masters degrees

What is funny is that becoming a coach is one of the smarter things I have done. I actually use my MBA and MS in Marketing more now being a coach, than in my corporate job. I can be creative and paint outside of the lines and make my business be and look however I want. I love my corporate job, and make a really nice salary, but Coaching gives me freedom. Freedom to have something that is mine, which I can put as little or as much time as I would like in it. It is a job where I can be myself and be transparent and relate to people all while getting healthy myself and walking hand in hand with others while they do too.  Another form of freedom is the financial aspect.

You know what is not embarrassing? Bringing home an extra $700 a month that you didn’t anticipate. Which by the way, that monthly income has the ability to be much greater than that amount but I do have a full time corporate career as well so time is not always abundant. I started this business out being a “hobby” and now dream of growing past that. Being able to earmark that additional monthly income to whatever you want since this is money that I didn’t budget for is exciting. We use it for adoptions. For our own adoption expenses (we have an adoption going on in China) and also to help others with their adoption expenses. My friend is using it for her kid’s college fund. But it could be used for anything! How beautiful and smart is that?!!

The reality- I am FAT

This hurts to write about because it is a reminder of how out of control I felt about my health. After my first round of the 21 Day Fix I lost 8.5lbs and felt empowered. I felt like I got the wind back in my sails and was me again, but I still had A LOT to lose. I initially signed up as a coach to get Shakeology $30 off, but then a funny thing happened. Even though I still had a lot to lose, people saw that I was making progress and my best friend asked to join an accountability group with me. A week later I got a commission check in the mail.  Then another person wanted to join in since they saw I was making progress. Then I started inviting people to join the accountability group via Facebook posts. And slowly my business grew. Not because I was fit (yet), not because I was thin, or had lost a bunch of weight, but because they saw I was currently making progress. They saw that I was transparent and vulnerable and putting one foot in front of the other and marching in the direction of my health goals.  If I had waited to lose 20-30lbs to start coaching I would have lost out on THOUSANDS of Dollars. I have had way to many ladies tell me that they want to coach but they need to lose weight first. This is SO backward and false.

Bottom line, EVERY Coach is embarrassed or is worried what other people think. I still get nervous posting and inviting people to an accountability group even though I know it was one of the best and life changing decisions I have ever made by joining one.

Do you know what is not embarrassing?……Bringing in an income you never thought you would. Getting in shape and helping others get in shape. Having one of your best friends send you her before and after pictures showing her 40lb weight loss initiated by you inviting her to join you. Having more money for important things in your life. Writing a $300 check without batting an eye to a family you have never met but know that they are adopting and could use the money.

So the REAL Bottom line…. Coaching has been one of the most fulfilling and fun things I have done.

If you would like to join me or have questions feel shoot me an email via Facebook or email.

Xoxox,

Katie

katiejfinklea@gmail.com

 

myGirls

 

Posted in BeachBody | Leave a comment

13 Things I have learned with adoption

Eandme

Since brining Ereylah home there is a realm of new insights and experiences we have gained. Obviously each adoptive parent has a different story and set of experiences they have learned and has helped to shape them. And man oh man am I still learning. Here are my top 13 things I have learned through our adoption. I hope they help, make you laugh, make you think and most importantly move forward on adopting and bringing home YOUR child.

  1. How much I love my daughter’s Birth mom

The love we have for Nicole was an unexpected love my heart wasn’t planning. It is not some weird competition or emotional tug of war in my head that I play with her. I know I am Ereylah’s mom but that could have never happened without Nicole.  God knew Ereylah was to be my daughter.  There is no way she would be mine without Nicole’s selfless and brave decision to give life to this beautiful girl.  Yes, Ereylah already has my mannerisms and even says things the way I do, but there is so much genetic makeup that I could not have given her that makes her, HER, that could only come from Nicole.

*We have changed our Birthmothers name in this article

  1. I prefer open adoption verses closed

The term open adoption use to scare me; repel me actually.  But the more I learned, the more I saw the full value.  The term ‘open adoption’ can hold a lot of different variables.  When Ereylah was 2 weeks old we met Nicole and our social worker at a Chic-fil-a.  I think this was a healing process for her and possibly even for me too.  We have not seen her since but certainly would if she asked.

We currently send quarterly updates, per our agreement, to her social worker who then passes them to Nicole if she wants them, and we are told she reads all of them.

This open adoption is important for all of us.  Of course for a birth mom to see the child she birthed loved and thriving, but it is also good for me.  I am still having a hard time articulating why I yearn for it, but it does something for me that I feel my heart needs.  Of course our open adoption is pretty limited at this point, but the fact that there is a door open for communication is so important. She has not expressed a desire to see us recently, and that is okay.  I understand that the heart needs to move on to heal to live life fully.

This open adoption is important for Ereylah.  Perhaps not yet but it will be.  We read her books on adoption and talk about Nicole too.  When her brain wraps around the fact that she did not come from my tummy, I want her to know that I am her advocate and not a speed bump in her learning and emotionally understanding where she came from.  This open adoption really makes me be a better parent….which is something I never would have anticipated.

Nicole is an intelligent and kind woman.  I know other adoptive moms have to consider other factors such as a birth mothers drug habits or unhealthy behavior.  However, even if it is not healthy for the child to have a relationship with his/her birth mom, it is vital as a parent to be an advocate for your child and show them that you are willing to help them gather info.  In fact, beat them to the punch and get some pics and updates from a social worker for them! And for goodness sake, never, I mean NEVER, talk bad about your child’s birth parents. Facts may come out that could be ugly but they need to be delivered in a way that is not to be demean the birth parent. In our case, there is nothing bad we can say if we wanted to! Which I know is a blessing.

  1. The risks are so incredibly minimal in terms of an adoption falling through or adoptive parents coming back

Adoptions pan out all the time.  Birth moms keep their word and place the baby.  We do hear the horror stories, however, they are few and far between.

An even scarier fear is a birth parent or relative coming back after the adoption is final and contesting.  This RARELY happens, like less than 1%.  And if it does, our legal system has now learned to do proper due diligence before the adoption is final.

  1. Anyone’s medical history on paper looks like a train wreck.

I hear the shortsighted point made often about children through adoption being “messed up” due to unknown medical factors. My response is….. “Look at our prisons folks.  They are filled with a lot of bio babies raised by their bio parents.”

Okay, now laugh…..but also breathe in reality, while understanding that I know the root your fear is coming from.  People have crap in their lives and DO crap in their lives, that can affect a baby’s health, and you are scared that you will bring home a ticking time bomb.

From MY personal experience, I have more friends who have bio kids with Autism, terrets, ADD, and bi-polar, than I know from kids who have been adopted.  I get that adoption can have unknown health hazards AND if you are adopting an older child they may have been through trauma and extreme attachment issues, which is a very valid topic for another discussion. My goal is to have you see from a clearer angle that the hazards of health issues may not always be much greater with adoption.

Read this Mother and Fathers Health History….

Birth Mother

Has had episodes of extreme low BMI and extreme high BMI. Currently suffers from anxiety and is on 10mg Paxil, which she still takes during pregnancy. She understands the possible risks of the Paxil on the Fetus but has chosen to stay on the medication due to the possible damaging risks of chronic anxiety.

In the mothers early 20’s she had an eating disorder and at times thought about death. There is a genetic history of schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression in multiple family members however the mother has not experienced these symptoms directly.

Birth Father-

Healthy BMI but has a chronic family history of cancer.  Both of his parents died at an early age due to cancer.  He experienced bouts of depression in his 20s. There was a history of ongoing abuse in his early teen years.

Depression, suicide, alcoholism, substance and sexual abuse have been in the birth fathers family history.

—————–

Scary, right?  Do you know whose medical history this is?  Ours!  Katie and Josh Finklea!  Yep!  Although we are not perfect, I would say we are pretty great contributors to society.  Josh runs a successful business, I work in finance and have 2 masters degrees and we have a 1 year old and we are pretty darn good parents!  Family histories give insight, but they do not define the child.

The goal of this is to offer clarity and to put fear into perspective.  Yes it is important to read a medical history and take it into consideration.  Realize that a baby is not imprisoned to what their parents have done.  Realize that God’s mercies are new every morning and that family cycles can STOP!  Realize that environment plays a huge if not much larger role than Biology.  Also remember, that healing can happen.

  1. You will have people say the most jaw dropping, dumb and hurtful things…..But they don’t mean to.

Last week I was at a dinner and I had a women go on and on about how I will understand “motherhood” when my biological baby arrives, (I am currently 22 weeks pregnant) suggesting that I’m not ‘truly’ a mother since my daughter is adopted.  I am paraphrasing the 20 minute conversation of repeated unintentional insults.  I went home and cried out of pure frustration.  After the emotions calmed down, it became clear how she had no clue what she was saying.  She didn’t mean to be hurtful….even though she was.

Other things are said often like “when are you going to have “your own”.  This makes me cringe.  Newsflash!  Ereylah is MY OWN!  But of course what they mean is “are you going to have biological children.” They don’t mean it to be cruel, but they also don’t realize what they are saying is implies that my adopted child is not as much as my child than a biological child would be.

A close family member recently referred to our adoption with Ereylah, and our current adoption process in China, as “putting in our order”.  “Katie, when are you going to put in another order?” ….as if the child is some shirt being ordered from a catalog.

Bottom line, people say hurtful things.  But, so do I.  We all need grace!  I would rather a person come to me and say those stupid things, rather than avoid talking about adoption all together.  We all need to be educated in areas of ignorance.

  1. I worry

Referring to #5, I worry often about Ereylah.  I worry about what she will hear others ingnorantly say about adoption and how she will process that.  Of course we will educate and prepare her the best we can, but the time will come when something is said we can’t protect her.  And even if whatever is said will not be said in malice, it still does damage, and it still hurts.

So this mama has to be wise, and also turn it over to the Lord.

     7. I forget I didn’t birth her

I know. So weird! Especially since I have not actually given birth before.

When Ereylah was about 3 weeks old, I was going through our clean laundry and found a dead mangled lizard (courtesy of my cats).  I cringe just typing this. So, I had to give myself a pep talk before I removed that little reptile from the pile of whites (which went right back in the wash).  I found myself saying “come on Katie, you can do this, you went through childbirth.”

After laughing about it, then telling my husband, who looked at me like I was lost my mind, I have come to this conclusion.  Motherhood is empowering.  It is a testament to the power and strength of motherhood; however it comes in your life. It shows us how much we can love someone else.  A sacrificial love that will fight to the bitter end before anything hurts my kid.  It gives me a strength that can only be God breathed.

Clearly that strength may not translate to picking up dead lizards.

  1. I forget we don’t look alike

A kindergartener asked me why Ereylah had dark skin.  It was the sweetest most innocent and inquisitive question.  My immediate response was, “Oh, we are tan because we are Lebanese”.  That poor confused little girl probably walked away and didn’t even know what to think.  About 5 minutes later I realized she was looking at Ereylah and wondering why she was darker than ME!  And I totally forgot that E was darker than me AND that we don’t have the same genetic make up….At ALL!

But I am not the only one. My awesome sister-in-law, JoAnn, came home laughing the other day.  She was talking to one of her kids about how Ereylah walked so early in life.  The conversation turned into a  response something like “It in their genes!  Josh walked early too.”  She didn’t realize about what she had said until the next day.  And it didn’t dawn on my nephew either!  ………We all shared a good laugh and it is just a testament to how strong a bond we share with our baby girl and how much our daughter is “our own”!

She is such an extension of me, and I of her.  That does not absolve the fact that I need to be truly cognizant that she has a different heritage to celebrate, but I truly forget we don’t look alike.

  1. I have a bond with other adoptive parents that is instantaneous

Short and sweet; it’s true and you just do.  All adoptions are different, but there is such a bond between the parents and the families it is almost tangible.  When I meet another adoptive parent, I feel like we are friends and have an immediate bond.

  1. I start thinking of all price tags in adoption cost equivalents

Someone says, oh that will be about $2000, I think “that’s how much a home study costs”.   Last week I wanted to do a project on the house and got an estimate of $25,000 and I told the guy, “No way, that is the cost of a full adoption!”

  1. Assumptions of Infertility are brought up in the most awkward ways

Adoption does not equal a past of infertility.  It could, but that is not the equation that should ever be assumed.  For Josh and me, it does not.  We wanted to adopt first.  And hey, if we wanted to have bio first, then adopt, that is okay too.  That is just the order we chose to do things.

I have had many, awkward moments with people (doctors included) who assume infertility is the reason we adopted.  Recently there was a women praying for me in a group Bible study who thanked the Lord in prayer that he turned my infertility into something beautiful (meaning Ereylah).  You better believe my eyes popped open and didn’t close the rest of the prayer while my head was cocked in confusion. I do agree that Ereylah is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen, but please don’t talk about my ovaries and assume how they are functioning….okay?

Just two weeks ago a doctor did the same thing.  Kind of scary if any medical professional assumes a condition which has never been charted or discussed nor has the patient shown symptoms.  Yes, I am 22 weeks pregnant, and yes we adopted our first baby, but that DOES NOT EQUAL infertility.  Actually, Josh and I have experienced the opposite.  There was a 5 minute quick rendezvous on a Tuesday night in September which led to a Walgreens pregnancy test showing 2 lines a couple weeks later.  TMI?  Maybe, but so is making assumptions on my or anyone else’s ovaries.  We adopted because we are commanded to care for orphans and widows in the bible.  We adopted because there are SO many children who need loving parents, and we want to be those parents….not because we were infertile…not because it was our second choice.  Stop making that assumption.

Bottom line, fertility or lack thereof is not something to assume, and certainly not something to just casually mention.  Refer back to #5 (people say the dumbest things).  If someone is assuming I am infertile when looking at my child, what is this saying to me?  More importantly, what is this saying to my child?  It is saying: if we were fertile we would not have adopted her.  Let that sink in.

  1. If you are told that it will take anywhere over 8 months to have a baby in your arms when wanting to adopt…you need to seek better counsel.

Babies in the US, especially Florida, are being born and placed for adoption or in foster care EVERY DAY.  Unfortunately, some agencies make a business and bureaucracy out of this and their timelines are 18 months plus.  That is absurd and unneeded.  Agency’s do some amazing work, and especially in the realm of birth mother counseling.  But PLEASE know you do NOT need to wait for 18 plus months to adopt a child.  When Josh and I decided to officially move forward with our domestic adoption, it was October 6th.  That is the date when we told our social worker “okay we are ready.”  On October 10th we got a call about a birth mom who wanted to place and had not been matched yet.  On October 18th we were told she wanted us to be the parents.  On November 14th, Ereylah was born and on November 16th she was in our home.  That is a 6 week turnaround!  During that time we were also approached with 3 other adoption options.  For those who question that 18 plus month wait time, our story is not abnormal! 6 weeks might be quicker than usual, but 3-6 months is the longest you should need to wait to get matched.  Question it!  Know your options!

  1. There is nothing like it

I have been told there is something amazing about childbirth and I am sure there is. I am looking forward to experiencing it in June BUT, Adoption is magical!  Seeing how the Lord orchestrates stories of people who don’t know each other, and the many variables that fall into place to make that adoption happen, is so humbling and God Glorifying.  If one variable was off (timing, location, birth mom decision etc) the adoption would not happen. WHEN IT DOES, IT IS AMAZING! There is no denying the Lords hand in all of it!  It is not something that one person can fully control because there are so many moving pieces that it is Amazing to see the Lord work.  This is not to take anything away from child birth, rather, adoption is so incredibly special in its own way.

Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment

The Day I Gave up Gluten

gluten

 

Two years ago, my most common responses to the term “gluten free” would be…….

-eye roll (a big one)

– Ummmmm….that is dumb; people ate bread in the bible

-It is a trend

-Oh! Some food marketer got you good

– Never would I ever

Then came a crazy day that I wouldn’t think would ever lead to being Gluten Free. In December of 2013 I got Swine Flu. Yep, remember that…..the flu circa 2009 that nobody talks about anymore. I brought it back en vogue……like the toe ring! It had to be reported to the CDC, and I was also generous and passed it to my husband. It was rough. It was the flu, just weirder symptoms than a typical flu. I was able to function thru the 102.3 fever. I’m a women…..we just push through. My husband, in typical male fashion, yes I went there 🙂 was down for the count. For about 4 days he laid in the fetal position on the couch while I was up doing laundry and still checking my work email.  However, after his 4 days of being what I jokingly refered to him as being a “big baby,” he was back up and good to go. I was not.  The “swine like” cough left, but my high fever lingered. Actually, when I say it lingered, I am probably underplaying it. I had a fever from December 11th thru mid-February. It was scary.

I saw the doctor multiple times and was put on a vitamin/nutrient drip, but the fevers still occurred. I was pretty much always at 99.9 but at times throughout the day, specifically if I exerted more physical energy or got out of a stressful work meeting/conference call, the fever would spike up to almost 102.  The Swine Flu was out of my system but my body was obviously still oppressed with something. My doctor encouraged me to give up Gluten. This is where you can insert one of the many responses above (eye roll, sassy comment). I was Not going to stop eating gluten….And to me it made ZERO sense why I should.  What I didn’t know, was “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

The fevers persisted and I was scared and became desperate. Blood work came back and showed that my body had produced Autoimmune Antibodies. Perhaps triggered or at the very least, escalated by the Swine flu. My doctor mentioned again, that I should try to give up Gluten for a short time just to see if my body would react and see any benefits. So I did.

I went 1 full day (24 hours) without Gluten and my Fevers were GONE.  My immediate instinct was “well that was just a crazy coincidence” so I made a sandwich and up came the fever again. Okay, so this was the point I couldn’t deny it anymore.

One month of being Gluten Free, Fevers were GONE, my skin looked Amazing, and energy level was better than it had been in a decade. A year and a half later there is no way I can go back to Gluten. There have been times where I accidentally ate it and I pop a fever, and then projectile vomit (sorry, but it is true). There are reasons for this that would take such a long time to explain.  But part of the reason is that my body has now been Gluten Free for so long that when it comes in contact with gluten, the gluten is such a toxin to my system that it violently wants it OUT.

What I have learned was that the Swine Flu may have highlighted the severe need for me to go GF but FAR before the Swine Flu, I had seen issues of my body reacting to gluten and I didn’t know it. I just thought things were “normal” and I had no idea of knowing otherwise. I will list them below because they may be what you are experiencing and just think it is normal stuff.

Symptoms of Gluten issues I experienced…….

-Constant Drained Feeling

-Difficult to get out of bed in the morning

-Acne

-Irregular periods (sorry for the TMI but it is true and probably one of the biggest signs of my intollerance. Ever since I was 14 they have been irregular….once I gave up gluten they were regular. Crazy right?!!!!)

-Always hungry

-Severe stomach bloating (you could see it in the mirror) after eating pasta, bagel, or any large portion containing gluten. This swelling would last 24-48 hours.

I hope this helps someone out there who may be experiencing symptoms and has no idea. Giving up gluten gave my life so much quality that I would NEVER go back. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice knowing the true tradeoff.

 

 

 

 

Posted in BeachBody | Leave a comment

BeachBody Coach – By Accident

I’m going to be totally transparent with some stuff here! Because hey, who has time for anything less?! When someone asks me how I got into coaching I say “it was a total accident,” because it was. I would have never thought a year ago I would be on this journey.  I would have rolled my eyes at the thought of coaching and probably thought to myself “I have two masters degrees and a career, I would never be a BeachBody Coach.” Snotty, I know. I am being totally transparent here!!! Not to mention I was out of shape.

Most of you know I got initially hooked when I started the 21 Day Fix and drinking Shakeology. These two things have completely changed my health in a way a gym, Zumba class, hot yoga, Weight Watchers, or a no carb diet ever has. Many folks just sign up for the coach 25% off discount because they are continuing with accountability groups, and it just financially makes total sense to get Shakeology for $30 off.  And that is what I did.  It is also where I thought the story would end.

Around that same time a couple things took place. First an unexpected adoption fell into our laps, and second one of my very best friends wanted to do the 21 Day fix with me. At the time I didn’t realize how those 2 events would marry together and create a new journey and passion. I sent my Best Friend my coach link to order from, which you get even if you are just in it for the discount. About a week later I got a $70 commission check in the mail that I really didn’t think to expect. In the meantime, my husband and I were scrambling to make ends meet with this upcoming new adoption (which typically costs around $30,000). Still, not a lot of dots had connected with these two points.

The following month I decide to see if anyone wanted to join me in a monthly fitness challenge group. A couple folks did, and a few more checks came in. Then it finally dawned on me…..This is ADOPTION MONEY!  Shortly after, we got word that this adoption was unraveling for us and was not going to take place. That is okay.  God is in control, even when circumstances hurt….But what about this BeachBody thing? It took me about 5 minutes to realize that I loved coaching. I loved reaching for my health goals while standing beside others and encouraging them.  AND, I get checks in the mail for it!  What?!!!! We use part or all of the proceeds toward adoption expenses for others, and when the time comes again, for ourselves.

It is certainly not a get rich quick type business. But really, if anyone is looking for a quick dollar, then coaching and relationships are probably not their top priority, which means that they shouldn’t be a coach. It can be a lucrative business, don’t get me wrong, but it is all based on the time you put into it.  Below is a quick Income Breakdown of what has come in for me over the start of coaching. Like I said, we were excited to use part or all of these funds toward adoptions BUT some of my fellow coaches have used the funds toward debt, or much needed vacations that they typically couldn’t afford, or to help allow them to be Stay at Home moms. All so so good

So that is kind of a quick synopsis of how this little journey rolled out. I am excited to be on this path and I will keep running accountability groups until no one is interested, BUT EVERY MONTH someone new wants in!!  They want in because it works!  Because it gets people to their goals in such a do-able way and they see the results everyone is having.

I love this new journey. You may too. Don’t ever be shy asking me questions about coaching or adoptions.

Love, Katie

IncomeBreakdown

Posted in BeachBody | Leave a comment

Adoption First Step….Where to begin

Start

Hey Y’all!

I have had a handful of people mention recently that they are interested in adopting but don’t  know where to begin.  This excited the tarnations out of me, and I encourage you to NOT let that feeling fade into the business of life. I believe God put that thought in your mind for a reason.

I wanted to write something up that could be a resource for those who don’t know where in the world to turn other than google.

There are SO many avenues to begin, some avenues are just as valuable as the next, however there are some that I have learned to be not as valuable. So here it is…..From our 3 years in the adoption world, I’m going to break down what I have learned.  These steps are from my experiences with PRIVATE ADOPTIONS and don’t mean that I am always right in my opinion, but what I have seen and learned.

First, are you adoptioning International or Domestic?

International

If you say International, you will need to work directly with an Agency.  BEFORE you send them ANY MONEY, make sure you are aware of the program you are going in.  Do YOU Fit the criteria for that Program and does that country and agency have a reputable LONG TERM relationship.  Bottom line, you will need to use an agency for almost any International Adoption.

Domestic

Did you know that there are MANY babies available for adoption in FLORIDA? It is SUCH a common misconception that there is a long wait list and that just isn’t true.  Josh and I have seen countless cases brought to us, all different race backgrounds.  Of course there are also older children to adopt, and typically that is adoption through the state.  For the purpose of this article I am speaking specifically about PRIVATE adoptions.

You basically have 2 options with domestic adoptions and it is VERY IMPORTANT that you know what you are getting into. What you “don’t know you don’t know” could really disappoint you if other options present themselves later.

Option 1: Sign on with an adoption agency.  There are some really great agencies out there.  I recently have had the privilege or working with North American Adoptions and they are a stellar organization. I was blown away by their reliability, birth mother support, and adoptive parent counseling.

With any agency you sign on with you have to realize that THAT is the avenue your kid is going to come from. And that is okay. You will see me expand on this a bit later.  I want to mention that Josh and I never signed on with an agency with Ereylah. We specifically chose not to. She was a 5 week turn around (yes, 5 weeks from the time we got the call about her, to the time she was born and in our home).  It was our social worker that called us about a baby that was to be born and had not been matched yet. That most likely would not have happened if we had signed on with a major agency because there would have been hundreds of other waiting parents and she would have gone to the next in line waiting.

I do have some friends that were starting the local adoption process the same time we were with a massive and reputable Christian Adoption Agency.  These friends were quoted 18 months wait time. Josh and I had to fight our instinct not to let our jaw drop to the ground when they told us.  We were quoted anywhere from 3-6 months and we had the exact same “criteria” as this couple, which was healthy baby, or with minor special needs, and any race.

Agencies do offer a lot that Option 2 below does not.  Typically agencies have a lot of counseling for the birth mom and also for the adoption parents. They are more hands on and can deflate some bad interactions from occurring.  Sometimes the lack of support when and agency is not used can make and adoption process very difficult.  Ereylah actually came through a very small agency and we had never heard .  They allowed us to read her case and we moved forward then began working with the agency at that point. This small agency had already provided a ton of counseling to the Birth Mom and they were there for her physically and emotionally when Ereylah was born.  So Josh and I really did get to reap some huge benefits of having a connection to this agency even though we did not initially sign with them.

Option 2: Be A Free Agent J That is a Katie term. This is what we did.

  1. Find a licensed social worker to talk to and start a home study.
    1. This social worker does NOT need to be tied into an agency.
  1. There are SO many avenues a child can come through and when someone does sign on with an agency they are limit to only that avenue. Again, this is not always a bad thing, but something I want any parent to know going into the process.
    1. Get on adoption attorneys and agencies “list serves.” This is so that you will be able to see various cases from various area around Florida that come in verses just waiting in line at an agency for placement while hundreds of other families are ahead of you and if an outside case pops up you have cemented your feet to that agency. Sometimes it is free to get on the list, other times the cost is up to $750, which is actually worth it. Your social worker should be able to direct you to these contacts. Typically if you see a case that comes across your email that you feel is for YOU, you do need to have your home study completed.

 

I hope this helps with the initial first steps and makes them less overwhelming. If you have any questions big or small don’t hesitate to ask.

Posted in Adoption | 2 Comments

Adoption Can Be Hard….Don’t Stop Loving

 

I hesitate sharing this fresh update on this adoption blog, BUT I think transparency about Adoption is needed at times.  We were told at the CAFO 2014 Conference in Chicago (Christian Alliance for Orphans) by Jed, the president, that when you are close to the heart of Adoption/Foster/Orphan Care there is going to be pain, chaos, and confusion because Adoption was not God’s original plan.  It is inevitable and Josh and I have been living in all 3 of those states in the past 48 hours.  At the CAFO 2015 conference we just attended we were constantly reminded to not quit loving.  Don’t quit loving when you get hurt, or burned, or burned out.  Don’t stop loving.  It sounded like such a good message sitting in those plush seats at the conference.  When the rubber hits the road, like it has in the past 2 days, everything in me wants to quit, cut people off, and get MY word in.

For the past few months we have been planning on bringing home our son in August. The birth mom is a local teenager who we have grown to love and met through a random series of events that can only be orchestrated by the Lord.  She chose life over abortion and then wanted us to be her baby’s parents.  It has been a rocky road the past few months as we have learned to love unconditionally.  It is painful and makes you feel so vulnerable.  We have grown to love this teen dearly and were so honored that God allowed us to be a part of her choosing life for her baby.  We were also honored that she wanted us to be parents to her son.  We told her she was welcome to look at other parents’ profiles and she did not have to choose us just because we were there thru her decision to not abort.  But she was adamant she wanted us.  She said to us on multiple occasions, even as she was undecided about life or abortion, “if anyone is going to raise my child, it is going to be you.”  There was a period where she considered parenting and we told her we would help with that too, but ultimately she settled on adoption and remained committed to wanting us to be the parents.  Legal papers were signed on both sides thru an agency, and funds were even paid to the agency.  Everything seemed on track with the baby due in 12 weeks.  This past Saturday I received a text that she has decided to give the baby to a family friend that popped up.  Josh and I were stunned.  We didn’t see this coming nor even thought switching parents was in the cards at this point.  We knew a last minute change of mind by her to parent was always an option but we never saw this coming, nor even knew it was an option.  We know this teen.  We’ve come to love her, and have shared countless dinners, trips to the mall, Ikea, Target, pedicures and our hearts with her … and we have enjoyed every minute of it.

I have still yet to respond to her text.  I don’t know what to say.  I don’t even know how I feel.  Josh feels the same way but he is just a much cooler person than I am and handles things in stride. There is a sense of embarrassment.  We have raised money from garage sales, friends and friends of friends have given toward this adoption, we were settling on a name.  I know I feel angry.  We did not set out to adopt another baby so soon after brining home our baby girl in November, but the Lord orchestrated so many details that seemed to just fall in our laps without our planning.  This was an unexpected adoption.  Lord why don’t you give us a break here?!?!!  Make things Easy!!!!   ….but we know that loving others, and opening our hearts towards needs is rarely “easy”.

That is when God reminded me of what we learned at CAFO.  That is also when I reflect on my life and how many times I have rejected the Lord, told Him I was His child then turned MY back on him.   I also need to remember that this teen is scared.  She is just doing what she thinks is best or will make the most people happy.  We are not sure of the final outcome of this and may not for some time, but we certainly are in limbo right now, and the limbo does not seem to be leaning our way.

All I know is Adoption is hard but God is good.  God is in control …all the time…and I’m not (thank God for that).  Please join us in prayer as we navigate this journey.  We didn’t set out on this journey seeking to adopt another child.  We saw a struggling teenager who was ready to abort and wrestling with the decision and we simply made ourselves available to love her and encourage her with a different option.  We prayed for Life…and are still Praising and Rejoicing today that God answered our prayers!  Thank you for praying!  We then simply made ourselves available to God if He wanted us to be this child’s parents.  We told this teen, and God, that we don’t know what’s best, but we are available and would be humbled and Honored to raise this child if that’s what’s meant to be  …  it then got very real, and our hearts became attached….and now this.  SO…again, we want what God wants.  We don’t want this child if he’s not supposed to be ours.  So we are praying for clarity, peace, comfort, proper processing of our emotions, wisdom to see Truth thru the storm of our emotions, patience, strength, compassion, and ultimately for God to lead the way to determine what’s best for all of us.  We covet your prayers and appreciate you sharing in this journey with us.

 

18162e56380797feb64c08f8376d702b

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adoption | 2 Comments