Adoption Update: June 24th

 

I’m currently sipping my coffee on the back deck listening to birdsong and cicadas and my cute rooster (I can say he’s “cute” because he is a silkie and he’s the smallest and fuzziest of the flock. Think: teacup Build-a-Bear rooster with a Napolean complex). It’s a beautiful summer morning. There’s a soft breeze and I can almost smell my tomatoes ripening in the garden. My thoughts are flickering between what I’m going to cook for dinner (I’m making Kerala chicken curry, btw), wondering what Clara is doing with her Lolli right now, and the phone conversation I just had with my husband. I’m also sitting here pondering how to convey an adoption update to you without any actual updates.

From our last update, we organized a yard sale that was very successful thanks to the generous donations of our friends and family. We also had some rockstar friends who came and helped us work the yard sale. Shout-out to the Burns, Propst, and Bounds families!! It was a fun morning under the great oak trees at Mawmaw Medlin’s, and we enjoyed meeting people from the community, raising awareness about the orphan crisis, and having the opportunity to pray with people as they shared their own lives and burdens. Thank you sooooo much to those of you who gave magnanimously and volunteered your precious time. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Transparent moment: This Monday is difficult, as most Mondays have been for the past few months. Each Monday looms ominously over another week of no word from CARA. As you may remember (or may not) Bret and I are awaiting initial approval from CARINGS. CARA is the Indian government agency that processes all adoptions. Once prospective adopting parents receive CARINGS approval, they can then be matched with a child. When our agency submitted our homestudy in January, the approximate wait time for approval was 10-18 weeks. We were so excited to hit the 10 week mark and just knew that we would be getting the good news that we were eligible to match with a child any day. Surely, we wouldn’t be one of the couples that had to wait the full 18 weeks. We gathered up our hope and optimism, stuffed them into a balloon, and held on tightly to the tether. The weeks passed by, but we didn’t hear anything. As the 18 week mark approached, our balloon was on the verge of bursting. We were excited and confident that we would have to hear something by then. We even felt relieved that 18 weeks had come because it meant that we wouldn’t have to wait any longer and we could finally move on in the adoption process. 18 weeks came and went. Some air leaked out. And then 19 weeks. And then 20. And then we came to the stark reality that there is no possible way to know when this waiting period will come to an end. We are now approaching week 22. We are not deflated, but our grip on that hope has become less confident and more desperate.

As we’ve talked with our amazing caseworker, we’ve learned that other families have experienced longer wait times, too. Our agency has been reaching out to CARA and advocating on our behalf and on behalf of the other families. We have no concrete reason why there has been a hiatus on approvals. One theory is the halt is due to the recent elections in India. Maybe the Indian government has put applications on hold as new government officials are sworn in. Since most officials have been sworn in, now, the hope is that the government will pick back up soon and resume processing applications. In the meantime, our agency is using this time to look through the waiting child database and familiarize themselves with our specific special needs list, so that when we receive approval we will hopefully be presented with a child’s file soon after. Our family has also been using this time to design Clara and “her baby brother or sister’s” new bedroom, explore more local Indian markets and restaurants, and apply for Clara’s first passport. Clara is so excited to be traveling out of the country for the first time when we go to meet our child. Her only requests, so far, is that she get to see the Taj Mahal and eat lots of papadum, a thin and crispy Indian flatbread. I’m obsessed with that cutie.

All in all, we trust completely in God’s timing and we know that His plans are perfect and good. Even in the difficulty of waiting. I’m presently studying the book of Romans, and last night, God gave me a beautiful prayer for our current state. Don’t you love when He does that? When He speaks right into the dryness of your spirit and renews your faith with His Word…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Romans 15:13

Would you be so kind as to pray this scripture over our family? Will you please join us in petitioning God for CARA approval, approval for other families, for the heart of our unknown child, and for ours as we wait? We love you. And we covet your prayers.

Learning how to make Kerala chicken curry with the most amazing friend and teacher!
Supporting other adoptive parents and their fundraisers. Candle: Farmhouse Candles
Fresh jalebi from Rajbhog Sweets and Snacks

Recipe Roundup: Bread

John 6:32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Listen up Keto followers: God made bread > Jesus calls Himself bread > Jesus says to eat bread. The end. Over the past 6 months I have jumped headlong into the bread baking world. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread permeating through the house. Homemade bread can transform a lackluster sandwich or bowl of soup. When you make it from scratch, you have the ability to control the ingredients. No hidden sugars or preservatives. And there’s just something so nostalgic and heart-warming about homemade bread. I am in no way a master baker, but I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes I’ve found so far.

The Best Crusty Bread (Ego Boosting Bread)

This is my go-to recipe that I found from a New York Times article. I’m a lazy bread maker and hate to knead dough. You literally mix these ingredients and do nothing with it and it makes the most amazing bread. I make it once to twice a week for sandwiches and afternoon bread and butter. It’s also great with an Italian dish or a hearty soup. Now that it is summer, I’ve enjoyed mixing fresh herbs from the garden into the dough. My fave combo so far has been rosemary and lavender. You’ll love this recipe and feel like such a pro baker.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ tablespoons yeast
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
  •  Cornmeal

PREPARATION

  1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
  2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
  3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
  4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

White Amish Bread (Won’t Last 12 Hours Bread)

This bread requires having a starter, but let me tell you, it is worth the effort. If you don’t know anyone with a friendship bread starter, you can start your own (see link). This recipe is from the Friendship Bread Kitchen. A friend of mine shared her starter with me and I’ve been hooked ever since. Warning: You cannot stop eating this bread. All I need with this bread is butter. You could also bake it for sandwiches, but mine never makes it past the afternoon snack time.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 ¼ ounce package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup warm water 105-110° F
  • 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread starter
  • ½ cup warm milk 105-110° F
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2¾ to 3¼ cups bread flour
PREPARATION
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and ¼ teaspoon sugar in the warm water. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, starter, milk, kosher salt, oil and 2 cups of the bread flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Add flour if needed.
  4. Grease a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning the dough to grease all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on how warm it is in your kitchen.
  5. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  6. Gently punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape. Fold one short end (⅓) of the dough toward the center and gently press the seam with the side of your hand. Repeat with the other ⅓ of the dough, bringing it to the center and pressing as before. Fold the dough in half and lightly press the edges together to seal the seam, then press each end of the dough to seal the ends and tuck them under.
  7. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and gently press down the dough with your hand to make it even all the way across. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it is slightly above the rim of the pan, about 30-45 minutes. Don’t let it rise beyond 1″ of the edge or it will collapse when it bakes.
  8. When the dough is almost to the top edge of the loaf pan, preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C).
  9. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the bread is light golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
  10. If a soft top crust is desired, lightly brush the top crust with a little melted butter.
  11. Turn the bread out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool for least 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 1 (9×5-inch) loaf.

Bakery Challah (Spiritually Connected Bread)

Pronounced “holla,” challah is an eggy bread traditionally made by Jews for the Sabbath and holidays. This is probably my favorite bread to make for special occasions. I also make this for communion. This bread requires more effort with kneading and braiding, but it’s the prettiest loaf I’ve ever made. I went through several recipes before finally finding one that has the texture and taste I prefer. I found this recipe in the “Inside the Jewish Bakery” cookbook that is, unfortunately, no longer in print. This is a recipe to keep and pass down to your children.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 2/3 cups Bread flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp Instant yeast
  • 7 1/2 large Egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Warm water
  • 2 large Egg whites, for glazing
  • 2 Tbsp Poppy, sesame, or chernushka seed (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Measure flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into a stand mixer and beat ingredients at low speed, about 1 minute.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk until blended the egg yolks and vegetable oil. Add the warm water and continue whisking into a smooth emulsion. Add to the dry ingredients and continue mixing until the dough is evenly hydrated and comes together in a shaggy mass, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Switch to the dough hook, if using a stand mixer, and knead at low speed for 10 to 12 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth, glossy ball that leaves the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead for 12 to 14 minutes.
  4. Form the dough into a large ball, put into a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and allow to ferment until double in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and knead it for 1 minute or so, then divide into two pieces of approximately 24 oz each.
  6. Divide each of these into as many pieces as appropriate for the braid you’re using (YouTube how to braid challah). Roll each piece into a tight ball, cover the balls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 to 30 minutes to relax the gluten.
  7. Using your hands, roll each ball into a long sausage that is thick in the middle and tapered to a point at the ends. Braid.
  8. Put the braided loaves on a piece of baking parchment, cover them with a damp towel and allow them to proof until the dough doesn’t spring back when a finger is pressed into it.
  9. About 20 to 30 minutes before bake time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the baking surface in the middle.
  10. Brush each loaf lightly with beaten egg, wait 1 minute and then give them a second coat. Sprinkle with seeds to taste.
  11. Slide the loaves and parchment onto your baking stone or bake on a sheet pan for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the loaves halfway through so they’ll brown evenly.
  12. Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and let cool for at least an hour before cutting.

June Book Talk

What a beautiful summer day! I’m currently lounging on my back deck in the sunshine with a glass of iced coffee and it is pure bliss. Hemingway is crowing, there’s a cool breeze and birdsong in the air. There’s also the sound of Elizabeth Bennet, my buff orpington, straining to lay her morning egg. She carries on quite loudly, breaking up the bucolic scene. It’s a wonderful morning for writing, or reading. Today, I’m talking books!!

I keep track of the books I’m reading on the Goodreads app. If you do not have this app, and you are a reader, you are missing out on life. On the app, I keep track of what I want to read, what I’ve read, and what I’m currently reading. It helps me decide if I want to pick a book up or not based on other people’s reviews. This has led me astray a few times… In my experience, I’ve learned that there are two kinds of readers: those who must finish a book no matter what and DNFs (did not finish). I fall into the “must finish” group and longingly glance to the other side of the fence wishing I could be a DNFer, sometimes. There’s nothing I abhor more than plodding through a novel I’m not feeling. My favorite part of the Goodreads app is the Reading Challenge. Every year, I set a reading goal for myself. The app keeps track of the books I’ve read and once I’ve accomplished my goal the screen bursts into confetti. It’s the greatest.

Onto books! This year I’ve been reading a lot more nonfiction than I usually do. I’m doing a lot of searching and that’s evident in my literary choices. Here’s what I’ve read in 2019. Hopefully, it will inspire you to pick up a good read, to learn, to escape, to grow, or spark a conversation with a friend.

  • “The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming” by Sally Clarkson. {My rating: 5 stars} L.o.v.e.d. this book. Every momma or future momma must read this.
  • “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” by J.R.R. Tolkien. {My rating: 5 stars for all three} If you haven’t read this epic classic, you need to. If you want a study on true friendship, this is it.
  • “Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan. {My rating: 5 stars} A wake up call for Western Christianity. The book is simplistic and a great introduction to the woes of cultural Christianity in America.
  • “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens {My rating: 4 stars} I really enjoyed the book and the descriptive storytelling. The last chapter lost a star, for me. I despise it when good stories are tied up neatly with a bow in the last chapter. I will continue to pretend I didn’t read the last few pages.
  • “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches” by Russell Moore. {My rating: 5 stars} This was my second time reading. Highly recommend for prospective adopting parents and their family and friends. Highly recommend for any Christian, period.
  • “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery” by Ian Morgan Cron. {My rating: 4 stars} If you are new to the Enneagram conversation, this is the book for you. If you don’t know what Enneagram is, allow me to lovingly say: get out from under the pretty rock you’re under and google it.
  • “The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life” by Joshua Becker. {My rating: 4 stars} Are you overwhelmed and don’t know why? Maybe you have too much stuff. This book helps put things in perspective. Even as an avid purger, I was still inspired to get rid of a lot of things in our home. Something to consider: clutter does not just come in material form.
  • “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green. {My rating: 3 stars} I love John Green books and I’ve had this one on my list since it came out. The topic is important and we need more young adult literature addressing mental health, but this one just didn’t do it for me. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t.
  • “Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living” by Shauna Niequist. {My rating: 3 stars} I resonated with this book in so many ways. But the push to find peace within oneself threw me off from a Christian author. I’d recommend this to a mature Christian who can see the biblical flaws and not be dissuaded by them, but I fear some may be led astray by the New Age thinking prevalent in this book.
  • “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. {My rating: 4 stars} This is a good read and the story is compelling, but the writing isn’t comparable to “All the Light We Cannot See.”

So that’s the list, thus far. I’ll update next month on what I’ve read since then. I’m in the middle of two that I’m learning so much from and I can’t wait to share my final thoughts with you once I’ve finished. Do you have any books you’re loving? Please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for another literary treasure. Happy reading!!

Presence

Presence. To be present. It’s something I’ve always struggled with. In each calendar season, I’m always yearning for the next one. When it’s summer, I long for autumn leaves, campfires, and hot spiced coffees. In each day, I’m always thinking about tomorrow. I make lists for the next day’s grocery trip and clean up for tomorrow’s company. In each moment, I’m always planning out the following ones. I rush through a book with my daughter because if I don’t get dinner started on time, then we won’t eat on time, then Clara’s bath will be late, and she will go to bed late, and my husband and I won’t have thirty minutes alone together before we have to go to bed. As a teacher, my favorite part of my job was planning out units. My career celebrated and encouraged my love of planning. I’ve come to realize that “love” is the wrong word. Addiction is more accurate. I am addicted to planning my life.

What’s made it so difficult for me to see this glaring problem for so many years, is that this addiction comes from a “good” place. I don’t want to miss a single moment of this beautiful life. I want to suck the marrow out of it. I want to live each second to its full capacity. I want to live a life that serves my family and others and is glorifying to God, and being efficient with my time is how I do that. Right? I have recently realized that I’ve been missing it. Now, I don’t want to say that I have completely missed out on my life. I’ve done a lot of work and come very far in being cognizant of what really matters. I’ve worked to tame that voice inside that wants to critique everything and everyone and never lets me rest or just enjoy spontaneity or the ones I love. But it’s taken this really hard season in my life for me to finally see what God is lovingly breaking me of: my need for control. In my attempt to plan moments so that they would be efficient or perfect (as I thought they should be), I lost being present. This is one of the reasons I had to part ways with social media. Too much of my time was spent thinking about a picture, taking said picture, editing the picture, perfectly captioning the picture, and reading responses to the picture than simply relishing what was in the picture. Social media appealed too much to my weakness to craft perfection at the price of presence. And I decided I couldn’t sacrifice that any longer.

I am currently in a season of life where I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. And that scares the crap out of me. I am an intrinsically motivated person. I never leave things unfinished and I accomplish whatever I set out to do. I always have a crystal clear direction in what I am doing and why I am doing it. But not this year. This past year, I  intentionally put myself into a position of vulnerability and waiting. It has been the most uncomfortable twelve months.  I often terrify my husband with bouts of emotion and statements of, “I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.” And I don’t. I don’t know when I’ll go back to teaching or if I ever will. I don’t know if that’s a career I was called to for a season or my lifetime. I don’t know what I am going to do when Clara goes to kindergarten in three months and I have a house to myself. I don’t know when we will receive approval from India or when we will get to bring our baby home. I don’t know what is happening with our church and what our future looks like there. I don’t know when I’ll stop hurting over the fear of losing my mother to cancer, the deception of a loved one, the death of my grandparents. I literally have no direction on some of the biggest life things, right now. And I’m uncomfortable and I’m confused and I’m weepy and I’m exhausted.

But here’s what I’ve learned so far: This time on earth that has been given to me is so so precious and I don’t want to waste it. I don’t want to waste my moments on planning my life and end up missing it. I don’t want to long for autumn’s leaves so much that I miss the bubbly laughter of my five-year old running through the sprinkler. I don’t want to be so focused on making a list that I forget to watch the trees dance in the breeze while I have my morning coffee. I don’t want to finish that picture book with my little girl as quickly as I can because in just a few more moments, she’ll be too big to sit in my lap. This year, God has called me to rest, to trust Him and to let go of my plan for my life. And I have fought Him the entire time. He’s shown me that I have some places that need healing and He has gently torn down wall after fortified wall that I had erected around my heart. I feel exposed and I do not like it. But I know He has good plans for me and my family. He has always been faithful. My ideas of womanhood and friendship and what it means to be a Follower of Christ have been completely crushed and are being rebuilt. I still don’t know what all He is teaching me; I know that I have been stubborn and slow to learn. I’m thankful for his kindness. I hope that I will have direction, soon, but not at the price of healing. I hope that this season will come to an end and bloom into one that is beautiful and full of joy. I hope sunshine and laughter and giddy excitement is just around the corner. But I don’t want that hope to cloud the deep work God is doing in my life right now. Lord, help me to be present, even now… when I don’t know.

I’m still here

Ok, there is so much to share since I last posted. When Bret and I started our adoption journey last summer, we were told by several people to be on guard for spiritual attacks. Satan wants to devour children and he will fight tooth and nail when we attempt to stand in the gap for the fatherless. We have come to understand this more and more as we have been confronted with trial after trial after trial in the past nine months. But through it all, we know Who has already won that war! As a result of some of these attacks, it has caused me to slow down and really hold my family close. I am so thankful for the nudging of the Holy Spirit last spring to stay home this year. I have had the opportunity to pour into my husband and my little girl, be available for others, and just rest (something I am not good at as an Enneagram type 1).

Updates are in order! Since I last posted in February:

  • We received our i800a approval (see post Adoption Update: February for more info)!!
  • We are waiting for a phone call ANNYYY day now for CARA approval. Then we can be presented with a child’s file. We’ve been told this can be the hardest part of the entire adoption journey, so would you please pray for us as we prepare to make one of the biggest decisions ever for our family?
  • Clara has been registered for kindergarten. She turns five in less than a month and I have done everything in my power to keep her from aging and somehow that fiend, Time, snuck in and made my baby’s chubby legs grow two feet and her vocabulary grow two thousand paragraphs and my tiny tot no longer fits in the crook of my lap without spilling out. No, I’m not excited for her to go to kindergarten. No, I’m not handling it well. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
  • I have had two grandparents pass away within three months. It was hard. It still is.
  • I quit social media. I might write a blog post on why. I might not. Like you really need one more person giving their opinions or a suggestion on how to live and make choices… You can find that on social media! So you can contact me the “old fashion” ways, now: cell phone, email, snail mail.
  • Bret and I attended the Rooted in Love conference in Birmingham a couple weekends ago (see the fab pic). It was soooooo good for our hearts in this time of waiting. It was also just dang good for our marriage. We haven’t had a getaway in over a year and relished the extra time to sneak kisses, hold hands, and go on dates. Birmingham is such a cool city to explore. Added bonus, I got to shake the hand of THE Dr. Russell Moore.

Now to the future! In the months ahead, I hope to be posting more often. I have a back log of things to post about, from bread recipes (I’ve become obsessed with baking bread), to integrating multicultural literature in your children’s library, beekeeping tips (of course), quotes that are speaking life to me, our favorite adoption resources, books I’m reading (and suggesting!), and more!

For adoption fundraising, we will be having our last yard sale on May 25th. The one in March had to be postponed so I could be with my family in Oklahoma. We will also have one more push to sell t-shirts. The Lord has been so faithful to provide and we have almost reached our fundraising goals! Please help us by sharing our information and getting the word out. Here’s the info:

 

  • Purchase a t-shirt to show the world you’re a defender of the fatherless! All proceeds from this shirt will help to cover costs of adoption fees. Go to onelessorphanmedlinadoption.bigcartel.com
  • Another opportunity for you to support orphan care is through a yard sale we will be holding on Saturday, May 25. If you would like to donate items that we could sell to raise money for adoption fees, please contact Bret or I via email or phone. We will arrange a pick up to make it as easy as possible for you. You can also volunteer at the sale or come by and shop!

 

I love each of you so much. Thank you for praying for our family and standing with us through our battles and heartaches this past year. You are so precious to me. To us.

For Granny

Today, we said goodbye, for now, to my Granny. I had the privilege of speaking at her memorial service. So this is for my Granny and for the loved ones who weren’t able to share with us, today:

Good morning! My name is Theryne Mae. I am the granddaughter of Iris Mae and I am honored to share about my Granny with each of you. To anyone who knew my Granny, knew her gift for hospitality. My Granny was never happier than when family and friends were gathered around her table eating a meal she had prepared for them. Granny showed her love through her cooking and I must say if you were ever one of the lucky ones at her table, you sure felt loved by her cooking. I have never met a better cook. Most of my fondest memories with her revolve around food. Like when I would spend the night, I was always awakened in the morning to the salty aroma of bacon or sausage drifting through the bedroom door. Sometimes it was biscuits and gravy and others, oatmeal. She was that good of a cook. She made oatmeal taste good. I have never been able to make mine like hers. And coffee. I can say without a doubt that my love of coffee is entirely Granny’s fault. When I was little, I used to plead with her to make me a cup with breakfast. She always complied and whipped me up a cup of “frothy coffee,” which was pretty much sugared milk with a dab of coffee. But I felt so big. Perhaps, well not perhaps, for sure, Granny’s most well-known and loved dish was her coveted chocolate sheet cake. There’s simply not a better one out there and I’m not just being biased. My brothers and cousins and I used to fight over who would get to lick the frosting bowl and who would get the beaters while she was mixing it up. It is an established rule that my cousin Tara and I should always get a corner piece. It’s the best piece on the whole cake where the frosting has settled in and it’s nice and thick. It is the cure for chocolate cravings, broken hearts, and loneliness. When you taste Granny’s cake, you taste love and you taste home. In the summer, Granny always canned fresh vegetables from the garden. I can remember sitting on the back porch with her and my mom and Aunt Lori snapping buckets of green beans for entire evenings, it seemed. But the delicacy of her garden was the beets. Granny pickled beets every year, which she served at family dinners and we would often argue over whoever got the last one. Since becoming a wife, I now grow my own garden. I always plant beets and use Granny’s recipe for canning them. And I cry a little every time I prepare them. I think of her and I miss her. In summers past, I would always call her to tell her I was canning beets and thinking of her. This summer, I will miss her even more. I will miss her phone calls. I will miss her boxes sent in the mail of random treasures she found at a garage sale or the Tuesday House. I will miss her beet stained hands. I will miss her lilting script in birthday cards. I’ll miss the earthy smell of her home, quiet mornings on her back deck. But Granny will always be with me. She is in every mention of my middle name, every beet that I can, every chocolate sheet cake that I bake, every garage sale that I visit, every lilac I smell, every red bird I see.

I will treasure this past week, spending the final earthly moments with my Granny, holding her hand, watching her breathe, witnessing her final soft inhale, remembering the ways she loved me and my family. In the last seven days, I have learned and witnessed and withstood more than I thought my heart could take. I have seen so much. I have seen abundant kindness. The kindness of fragrant prayers of faithful visitors. The kindness of chips and salsa dropped off in the middle of the day. The kindness of volunteers filling the kitchen in the Journey Home with meals and the comforting aroma of brownies baking in the oven. I have seen profound love. The love of family patiently sitting by their dying cherished ones. The love of an embrace that soothes tears or brings them to releasing fruition. The love of a husband in his unremitting watchfulness. The love of a son in his quiet, steady presence. The love of a daughter in her tender care. I have seen so much beauty.

This week, as we waited for my Granny to enter the gates of Heaven and my new nephew to enter into the world, I was struck by the parallels of birth and death. The waiting, the counting of breaths, or contractions. The suffering, the pain, but in the end, new life. And you know, that’s what makes it all bearable. Knowing that at the end of the labor pains a beautiful baby is placed into your arms. At the end of the suffering, a beloved soul wrapped in the arms of our Abba Father. My Granny’s fifth great grandchild, Leo Morrison Franco, came screaming into this world hours after her quiet, gentle departure from it. It reminded me of Psalm 30:5 “weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” And when my Granny went on to be with Jesus, we did weep, we still do, but not as those without hope. While my Granny gave me the most beautiful childhood memories and heart touching recipes, the greatest gift she bestowed was her legacy of faith. I am eternally grateful for the hope that I have of seeing my Granny in paradise. A hope that was bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. A gift freely given so that no man can boast. Praise you Father for conquering death! Praise you for your mercy!

Friday evening, I was going through my Granny’s well-worn Bible, relishing the written notes of her hand and treasure trove of wisdom. In the back, she had written a note requesting it to be read at her memorial service. So per her request, I will leave you with her words:

Let me take from the scrap bag of my life.
The pieces of memory
The blue flowered calico of a little girl’s dress
The red checked gingham of a little boy’s shirt
The lace of a wedding gown
The satin of a baby’s quilt
The linen of a shroud
Stitch them together with tears
Out of the pieces make a whole
The pattern complete
The quilt of my life

“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was and the Spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7

Adoption Update: February 20th

Lots of lovely greetings to you in this month of love! Hallmark love it may be, but we relish it still. Especially knowing what true love is: “This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 It’s been a few months since we’ve put out an update, so here it is!

WE HAVE OFFICIALLY COMPLETED OUR HOMESTUDY!!!!! This is a major step in the adoption process and we are super excited to have that monolithic step done. We have also sent off our I800a to U. S. Immigration and registered with CARINGS (the Indian database used to begin matching). Before going further, allow me to define some potentially unknown terms.

  • Homestudy- The study is a basic overview of your life – including criminal background checks, your finances and even your personal relationships. Forms, questionnaires, a home inspection, and face-to-face interviews are used to asses eligibility. It is used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for a family to receive an adoptive placement. It is often the lengthiest step when preparing to adopt. Want to know more? Click here
  • i-800a- An application to the United States Citizens and Immigration Services to allow your family to bring an orphan into the country.
  • Matching- Matching can be defined as the process of identifying a family whose resources will, as far as possible, meet the assessed needs of a particular child or sibling group, throughout childhood and beyond () or, put another way, it involves fitting parents’ strengths to the needs of children awaiting placement ()

So what’s next? Lots of waiting. We are waiting for approval from the U.S. government and the Indian government to adopt. This approval process can take about 3 months. We have about two months to go! Once we are approved, we will be allowed to start the matching process. Our agency will then be allowed to match us with a waiting child. During this time, we have taken the break in completing paperwork to do paperwork of another kind: grant applications. We have applied to two foundations (JSC Foundation and ABBA Fund) for financial assistance and are currently working on an application for Show Hope. Our prayer is that the remaining costs will be provided through grants. Next month, we plan to have one more yard sale to assist with the $3,652. 50 due upon CARA approval. The Lord has been so so faithful in His provision already! Thank you all for your ceaseless prayers and encouragement!

Merry Christmas from the Medlin Family

One of my favorite Christmas traditions each year is to send out Christmas cards to our friends and family. I love every part of the process. Picking the perfect pictures to convey the year our family has shared. The colors, fonts, and even texture of the cardstock. Then the careful scripting of our loved one’s names and addresses. Sealing them with our family monogram in red or golden wax. It’s like selecting a little gift to give to our beloveds. And I love receiving Christmas cards just as much! December is the only time of the year that I actually check the mail. Bret knows not to open cards without me. I relish the sweet hand-written notes and smiling faces of our family and friends as I slip them out of the envelopes. Each December day brings more and I impatiently anticipate every single one!

So, I have to admit that I am more than a little bummed that we will not be sending out Christmas cards this year for the first time in 10 years. We are trying to save every dollar we can, so we decided not to send any. While I’m a little sad, I am also so full of joy and gratefulness to give up this small thing for this season of our life. AND thanks to this blog, I have the ability to send out virtual Christmas cards!

These pictures, you’ve probably seen some of them before, were going to be on our card. My precious precious precious friend, Bri Wooten, took these pictures for us. She has been one of the greatest God-gifts.

When I make our Christmas cards each year, I always add a family update so loved ones faraway can have a snapshot of our year. It usually details some of the places we have traveled, big events, or things we have accomplished. While we did do some bucket-list traveling in 2018, and some BIG things happened in our family, I want to focus more on what God has done in our lives than what we have done this year. As I read through the Psalms last month, verse after verse after verse stressed telling others of what the Lord has done. Each one jumped out at me as if inviting, demanding that I tell. Let me tell you what my God has done for our family in 2018:

  • God told me to stay home with Clara this year, to take this precious time with her, to leave my dream job teaching, to find contentment in serving my family, to give up the financial safety net of my added income. He asked me to trust Him and He was faithful. He directed Bret to make this decision for our family (I was terrified) and provided him with wisdom to make it happen.
  • God healed my mother of breast cancer. He gave her strength and peace during one of the most difficult times of her life. He allowed me to be there for her and to care for her over the summer through her diagnosis and double mastectomy. He sustained me with a supernatural surety that she would be just fine and took away all fear. He asked me to trust Him and He was faithful.
  • On July 15, God absolutely broke my heart for adoption and said that it was time to start looking for our second child. Bret wasn’t ready yet, but the Lord gave me patience and I prayed for him daily. God told me to trust Him with Bret’s heart, and He was faithful.
  • We celebrated the achievement of a goal two years in the making: we are debt free (except for the house)! God told us to trust Him with our finances, to give and tithe out of every paycheck especially when it’s hard, to be obedient, and He was faithful to provide.
  • In August, Satan attacked our marriage by revealing a corrosive sin. We fought with the Sword of Truth, cried out to our Father. God told us to trust Him and He was faithful and chains of sin were broken! The Lord strengthened our marriage. This trial was hard, it still is sometimes, but what was meant for evil, the Lord has used for good!
  • On September 12, the Lord gave Bret the decision to adopt after much research and prayer and seeking out the wisdom of others. Within four days we applied to an agency and were accepted just days later. With acceptance, we were told we needed to immediately pay just over $4,000. We weren’t expecting this, but God was. He told us to trust Him and he was faithful to provide.
  • Let me tell you how our God, Jehovah Jireh, has provided financially for our adoption this year! He has used our friends and family and strangers and the most amazing life group on the planet, to raise over $5000. My brain can’t even comprehend this. Just today, I prayed for provision for our next fees and in the mail a friend sent us $200. I don’t think I will ever stop crying over the gifts that have been bestowed on us and our family so generously. God asked us to trust Him with the finances of this adoption, it made no sense to us. We had just gotten out of debt, we had plans to pay off the house, we were fully embracing that Dave Ramsey way of life, we were just starting to save money for the first time and God said to give it all to Him, to trust Him, and ya’ll, He has been so so faithful.

Psalm 47:6 exclaims, “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” Father, you have been so gracious and kind and patient and loving to us and we don’t deserve a bit of it. We praise you for 2018, for what you have done! We can’t wait to see what you’ll do next year. May we glorify your Name and grow closer to you in the coming year, whatever it takes. We trust in you because you are faithful!

God loves you right where you are. The greatest gift the world has ever known is His sacrificial Christmas gift to us, Jesus Christ. When you posses a gift that big and that beautiful and that costly and that life changing, you can’t keep it to yourself. The Maker of the universe loves you and sent His son to die for you. And me. It doesn’t even make sense. Do you have this heart gift? If you do, how will you trust God and allow Him to use you this year? How will you tell, show the nations of His love, His gift?

Peace be upon you and Christ’s love within you. Merry Christmas, beloved!

The Medlin Family

Dearly Beloved,

October 28, 2018

To the ones we love, our family, our village:

As you already know, our family is embarking on the sweetest journey to bring our second child home from India. The emotions surrounding this decision range from over-the-moon to terrified to immense joy and sadness for our child’s loss of their biological family. The journey to our decision to adopt has been a long one, but this past summer God placed such a burden on our hearts to care for the fatherless. We could no longer carry on our lives without fulfilling the calling the Lord had placed in us. After much prayer, discussion, and seeking out wisdom from other adoptive families, we came to the conclusion that it was time to act. And so we did. We decided on an adoption agency we wanted to use, filled out an application, and jumped into the deep end.

The last few months have already proven to be difficult, but has also come with so much affirmation that we made the right decision. Over and over we have been reminded that there is a cost to following Christ and for too many years we have skated by in a very cost-less faith. We came to a point in our Christian walk where we could no longer gloss over passages like James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world,” and “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 Bringing a child into our home, born to strangers, to raise as our own, sounds crazy. But isn’t that what God has done for us? “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:4-5 Willingly draining our savings, letting go of financial security, is terrifying and seemingly foolish in our culture. But didn’t Jesus pay it all so that we might be reconciled to God, to join his family? And if we truly believe what the Bible says, do we not believe that God will provide for us? We were ready to have another child, ready for Clara to become the big sister it seems she was born to be. She’s such a little momma. We knew we could try to have a biological child, and Lord willing, would have conceived. But in the face of the desperate need, knowing there are 153 million orphans, that so few are being adopted, we could not shake the bone deep conviction that our second child would not come from our blood. We knew that he or she was already in the world and just waiting for us.

So here we are. Filling out forms, writing long papers, praying, working over-time and on the weekends, organizing fundraisers, praying, procuring certificates, attending adoption conferences and training, reading, listening, praying and waiting and moving mountains to get to our baby in India. As I’ve shared on social media, this has been a very humbling experience for me. I have worked very hard for the things I have achieved in my life. I do not like asking for help. I shared this sentiment with a precious friend who rebuffed me with, “Theryne, I’m not giving you this to help you, and neither are these other people. I want to be a part of helping an orphan find their family. I love you and would do anything for you, but this is bigger.” How do you respond to that?  I’ve been working hard to get out of my own way. With that, allow me to divulge the purpose of this letter: we need you, loved ones.

Your Part

   We’d like for your partnership in 2 areas:

  • Prayer – We desperately NEED your support here. Pray for our hearts as we prepare to bring a new child into our home. Pray for Clara to transition to become a big sister. Pray for the adoption process to go smoothly, forms and certifications to go through, documents to be processed quickly. Pray for our child in India: for the care they are now receiving, for their broken heart, for their biological family. Pray that God can use this pain for His glory and a joy we cannot imagine.
  • Financial Support – We know that the Lord will supply all our financial needs, but we would love for you to get involved. In Philippians 4:17, Paul assures his supporters that he does not seek the gift itself, but “the profit which increases to YOUR account” (emphasis added). In other words, God was supplying all of Paul’s needs, but Paul wanted fellow believers to share in the blessing. We would like to invite you to do the same.
    • Purchase a t-shirt to show the world you’re a defender of the fatherless! All proceeds from this shirt will help to cover costs of adoption fees. Go to onelessorphanmedlinadoption.bigcartel.com
    • Another opportunity for you to support orphan care is through a yard sale we will be holding on Saturday, November 10. If you would like to donate items that we could sell to raise money for adoption fees, please contact Bret or I via email or phone. We will arrange a pick up to make it as easy as possible for you. Or come by and shop at the sale! Clara wanted to pitch in to help save money for her baby, so she came up with an idea for an apple cider stand. She’ll be selling her cider at the yard sale. Come get a hot cup of apple cider and make a 4 year-old’s day. 

 

Because He first loved us,

Bret + Theryne + Clara

Adoption Update: October 1st

Wow. What a whirlwind. Since we began this adoption journey, everything has moved so quickly. At the beginning of September, we decided it was time to begin the process to get to our second child. In less than a month, we have submitted an application to our agency, been accepted, shared with our parents and family, shouted the joyful news from the rooftops, and completed the beginning paperwork. God provided the funds for us to pay our accreditation fee and half of our first agency fee. Praise the Lord for His provision!

Next up is our orientation and then we will begin the homestudy. The homestudy is a 2-4 month process where pretty much everything about our home, marriage, and family is evaluated. We are eager to begin and continue moving forward. When we have completed the homestudy, we can send everything off to be approved by the Indian government (CARA). Once approved, we’ll be matched and finally get the profile of the child God ordained for our family!

In these past few weeks, my heart has been broken in so many ways…

Broken by the humility that has been thrust upon me. I have come face to face with my idol: pride. My pride masks itself in independence. I have been humbled and come to realize just how dependent I am on my husband, my friends, my family, my God. I rejoice in this correction and refinement. Lord, may I never boast of my independence and strength, again. It is only the hand of God that has brought me to where I am. To Him be all the glory.

Broken by the generosity of our friends and family. I cannot even speak to this, to this love they have poured out on us and our little one. From the sweet phone calls and texts, to the encouraging cards, to the financial gifts. The gifts that I know have been a sacrifice. This beautiful picture of Christ and the church.

Broken by the great tragedy of our child and the loss of their biological momma. This week, my heart has been so heavy for our baby in India. Just knowing the means that they are coming to us, and I grieve for them, for their loss, their hurt, their tears that I am not yet able to dry. I long to comfort them. And their momma, if she’s living, I just can’t imagine her pain, what she must be going through, and my heart shatters for her. Would you please pray for them?

Coming up: We will be having a t-shirt fundraiser soon to help us cover the costs of the first few agency fees. I’ll post about our shirts as soon as we have them! Our next fee is due at the end of this month, and another $3,500 is due by November 20th. We are doing everything we can to reach these payment dates (Bret is working overtime and on weekends, I’ve been accepted as a substitute at a local school), but even with our extra hours we do not have the means. We believe with all our hearts, and have already seen, that God will provide. Please pray for us! If you feel led, please consider clicking the link to our GoFundMe or share it with others.