Confronted with death (pt.1)

Over the course of the last year and a half there have been so many times I have wanted to share something, but due to the rapid pace of life and the sheer weight of it all, I haven’t. People write books about parenting adoptive children from trauma… and there’s a good reason why. Many people close to our hearts have passed away: family and friends. We’ve moved. Remodeled. Run businesses. We’ve run through testing, and jumped through hoops, with infertility. We’ve also dealt with deep challenges that aren’t even worth giving energy to at the moment. And in the midst of it all, we’ve forced ourselves to stay connected in a time when all we want is to curl up on our bed and hibernate. Most people have no clue what we’ve walked through because we don’t blast it all over social. We just don’t roll like that. But this… this challenge… was unlike any that I had experienced up until this point.

On July 2nd, I received a call from my dad that my mom had an accident. “She fell off a step stool. She’s in a lot of pain. Please pray for her.”

“Okay. I will.” I said.

Falls can be painful. I get it. I’ve taken a few.

A few minutes later I received another call. “Mom can’t get up. She can’t move her legs. An ambulance is coming.”

Concerned. I waited.

Thirty minutes later, another call. “They’re taking her to a bigger hospital… it’s not what they think.”

My sister and I booked a flight to Indiana for the next day. I canceled work and waited. Anxiety grew within me.

Dad called back. “They discovered mom had an aneurysm. The doctors are running tests.”

“Is she okay?” I asked.

“We don’t know yet.” my dad said. “She had a stroke too. She’s hemorrhaged. There is blood and water on her brain. They need to operate. It’s risky. If they don’t, she’ll probably die. If they do, she might die. It’ll be five hours before we know anything.”

A text from a doctor cousin… “You better get up there as soon as possible if you want to see her alive.”

My head spun and I felt numb. I walked around my room in a panic, not going anywhere. I knew that I needed to do something, but what?


Shaking, I knew what I needed.

Funeral clothes.


{I’ll be sharing our story through different posts. More craziness to come.}


A growing family

Two short weeks ago, we received a phone call that Amy, Daniel’s sister, wasn’t going to make it through the night.

This wasn’t the first time that we received a phone call like this one. In fact, it had been fourteen months since the first call where we dropped everything and drove through the night to South Carolina. Amy lived. Time passed. Liver transplant. Recovery. Dialysis. Now, she needs to get a kidney transplant.

This roller coaster season left the entire family depleted.

But this time, this phone call, this trip through the night to get to the hospital, this diagnosis, was different.

Amy passed away on Easter Sunday, leaving behind a ten-year old, bright-eyed {brighter personality} son.

As Amy’s passing wasn’t even absorbed yet, so also the reality that Daniel and I were about to become parents. The following weekend, after the funeral, the three of us drove home. With each passing mile, the reality of what had happened, and what was happening, sunk in deeper. Sadness and joy. Excitement and grief.

I think it’s cool how the Lord is giving us this time as we wait for the adoption process. Time for Bright-Eyes to start the grieving process and learn about what his new life looks like. Time for us to catch our breath, grieve, and figure out what being parents looks like. {I mean, what time does a 10 year old even go to bed?} And time for all of our hearts to be knit together, no longer as aunt, uncle and nephew, but as a mom, dad and son.

There are so many fascinating details, so many emotions, so much brokenness, so many points of intersection that fill the last few years… And yet a strong, shining strand of redemption unites each piece. I hope to share more details in the future, but for now I’ll just share this one…

For the past four years Daniel and I have been trying to start a family of our own. Nothing is wrong, we just can’t get pregnant. [For those of you who have walked a similar path, you know what a toll it can take. A journey like this can barely be summed up in one sentence.]

Though God, in His tender sovereignty, knew that Bright-Eyes needed us to not have kids for him to acclimate to his new life. No competition. All attention directed toward him. God also knew that we too needed this bright-eyed boy first. Not sure why, but we’re very grateful.

We are tired from the journey that lead us to this point. Though the joy and hope that we have in knowing that God’s timing and ways are flawless puts wind in our sails and lovingly pushes us on. We are truly thankful for this gift in our growing family.

So, here he is… our first son. And soon, it will be official.

The Keys. Take 2

Here are some photos from our first week here in Big Pine Key.

The first day out on the water, Daniel catches a shark. Let me just paint the picture of what was going on in the boat…. Daniel is fighting the shark, slow and steady, fatiguing it and getting the it to the boat. Now, as soon as I hear that he caught a shark, my heart immediately begins to pound. I think I asked him about three times if the shark was going to jump in the boat and bite my legs off. Every time I asked, he answered me  with a calm ‘no’. I was frantic. I was moving from the front of the boat to the back, standing up on the bench and moving down toward the cooler. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just knew that the shark was going to jump in the boat and kill me. Why did I know that? Well, because Daniel has shown me youtube clips and Shark Week, and with my vivid imagination I knew that I was going down. Daniel was very encouraging and assured me that I wasn’t going to die… Though I didn’t know if I would be safer jumping overboard or just staying in the boat.I think I lost control of anything calm and level headed inside of me.

Daniel realed the shark closer to the boat and I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh it’s a great white shark!!!!”

It wasn’t. Apparently it was “only” a 5 1/2 foot black tip shark. But I tell you one thing… that didn’t calm down my heart from beating to the Jaws soundtrack.

Daniel wasn’t the only one catching sharks this past week. My sister Charissa caught a little hammer head (below) and I also caught a few, all of which were bonnet head sharks. Lets keep in mind that our catches (and releases) were about 2 1/2 – 3 feet. Still, they all put up a good, fun, clean (no blood was shed) fight!

We also went to No Name Pub. If you are in the area, you’ve gotta go check this place out! You seriously wouldn’t believe how many dollar bills are stapled all over the walls and ceiling. Daniel did a little research and found that there is around $80,000 in one’s in there. The pizza was good, the unique environment was like none other, the prices were decent – a little touristy. I had never felt like I was stuck inside someone’s dirty wallet before now… All in all, we had a great time and are looking forward to visiting again soon!

We also enjoyed some time with my cousins Rebecca and Jordan, and their little skipper, Hudson. It was Hudson’s first time out on a boat and I’d say that the consensus was he really enjoyed himself! It was fun watching him experience being on the water for the first time. By the way he watched Jordan look for lobster, and Daniel drive the boat, I think this kid is destined to be a Florida Sportsman!

We caught our limit of Mangrove snapper and lobster (thanks to the guys). We all know I’m not jumping in there to go tickle some lobster!

One thing that surprised me, I enjoyed fishing this past week! I enjoyed the peace that I found out on the open water, the silence and the good conversations, the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature and the successful feeling of a good catch.

Though one thing that I did not like, was when I needed bring the fish into the boat… getting THAT close to the fish was a little out of my comfort zone… but hey, what is life without allowing yourself to be stretched.

…baby steps.