Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Favorite Desserts

I love dark chocolate covered raspberries. I love the slight bitterness of dark chocolate mixed with the sweetness of fruit. I love the magic of dark chocolate and raspberries melting in my mouth.

I love refridgerated homemade chocolate chip cookie dough. I love the chips and the smooth creaminess of the dough. I love the ridiculously large amounts of sugar and butter. I love the magic of spoonful after spoonful melting in my mouth.

If you gave me a choice between the two, I would pick both. If I really really had to, put a gun to my head, pick one, I would five times out of 10 pick cookie dough and five times out of 10 pick the dark chocolate covered raspberries.

If you told me I could never have cookie dough again, and my dessert for the rest of my life was solely going to be dark chocolate covered raspberries, I would love it. I certainly wouldn”t care much. However, there would be times I would think, boy cookie dough sounds good right now.

Or, while I love my dark chocolate covered raspberries, I would like just a taste of the cookie dough. And then if you said no, absolutely not, no cookie dough. Then I would be fine. And in fact, I would rejoice in the fact that I get to have my dark chocolate covered raspberries. Because I love them.

Can anyone see where this is going?
Can you figure out the analogy?
If you can, let me know because you are awesome and have figured out what”s in my head and that”s freaky.

I love adoption and I think we”ve esablished that I would like to adopt a million kids. I love my girls more than anything on this planet (other than my hubs). As I snuggled with Hannah tonight in her bed and stared at her sweet little hand resting on her tummy and her adorable skinny legs propped up on the duvet, I felt such an amazing and overwhelming feeling of love for this girl (let”s not leave Olivia out, I love her too:)). I love these girls so much, in fact, that sometimes I”m amazed that people love their biological children. I”m serious.

And I would still like to be pregnant. I don”t necessarily want to reproduce my DNA. In fact, I kind of don”t want to because (just thinking ahead), if s/he would look anything like me, I really would cringe every single time someone would say that “s/he looks just like you” in front of my girls. Who will never hear that. But I want to experience pregnancy. And I want to give birth. If I could could give birth to an adopted baby, that would be perfect (we”ve already discussed embryo adoption, that”s off the table for us for now (but never say never, right?)).

Anyway, adoption has not squelched the desire to do what my body was created to do. I still track things. I still know where I am in my cycle. I still care. I still get jealous. I still sin.
But, if what I get for the rest of my life is dark chocolate covered raspberries and no chocolate chip cookie dough, I rejoice for the Lord”s plan for my life and I will fully, with all my being, embrace eating my dark chocolate covered raspberries. Because I love them


Abby Brandenberger

Abby is a stay-at-home mom, married to her college sweetheart Matt. Matt is an elementary school teacher, a coach, driver”s ed instructor, tutor, and sports fanatic. Abby just tries to keep up with him and the two little ones they adopted domestically (15 months apart). They are right in the middle of their third adoption journey and are excited to see how God adds to their family.  Abby welcomes you to follow along at Our Little Hope.



Since the first night we were with Mia, we noticed a sweet and slightly sad behavior at bedtime. In order to fall asleep she first needs to hug close to her chest a little treasure. Her treasure is always something that has become important, valuable to her on that day.

It can be anything.

The first night it was a container of playdoh.

The second night it was a cup with milk…she never drank the milk she just NEEDED to possess the cup.

It doesn

Dear Eddie

oh my darlin’,

you seriously put me through the ringer today.
you made me question everything i thought i knew about parenting.
you are one determined boy, and i know that will serve you well later in life,
that you will accomplish great things because you do not give up.
like with the easter candy, for example.
by golly, you wanted that chocolate bunny, and that chocolate bunny you were gonna get.
you have this uncanny sense of hearing… you announce every passing motorcycle,
the arrival of every garbage and delivery truck, an airplane flying overhead.
none of it is by sight, all by sound.
and yet. i can tell you 412 times to come to me, to stop climbing or jumping or running
and it is as though i haven’t uttered a single syllable.

but in spite of all of your crazy antics,
you have an unfathomable capacity to love.
you want to snuggle every night before bed, and first thing every morning.
you nestle into “mama’s bed” (it’s daddy’s, too, just so you know), rest your head right next to mine and are quiet and still and content.
i look at you in wonder, my heart full and achy,
and very aware of this precious time.
i’m not ignorant to the fact that someday… maybe soon… you will understand you’re adopted.
there may be a day when you question if we’re as close as we’d be if i’d had you myself.
if i could, i would take all those questions away in a heartbeat.
i’d tell you that i can’t imagine loving anyone more than i love you,
that our lives would have a gaping hole without you in it,
that tears well and overflow at the thought of you ever experiencing any heartache
from the undeserved gift we’ve been given of calling you ours.
i look at you in those quiet moments and i drink it in.
your tender heart and your boundless love.
i pray almost every day that you will know in the depth of your being that you are more than we could’ve ever hoped for,
that you will be confident in our love for you, and even more,
in God’s love for you.
you are a most precious gift, my sweet, wild Eddie.

i hope you will know that in your heart every day, forever.
yours always,



We are a family of 5 1/2: 3 kids – 2 biological, 1 adopted, and waiting to be chosen for our next adopted baby. Adoption has always been on our hearts, hopeful that it’d be part of our story. We’re so blessed to say that it is, and has changed us forever. We love our three boys more than we’d imagined possible and can’t wait to see what is in store for the future!

Letting Go of Expectations

No one ever promised us that adopting our children would be a simple thing. I didn’t expect to whisk Silas into the mix and then just go about my happy business.

I knew it would be really, really hard.

For like six months.

And then it would be sort of hard for another six.

Then we might have a few bad days over the next six months.

Then we’d be home free.

We’d be in “regular parenting” territory then, which is never a slice of pie. It always requires effort and attention. It can be frustrating sometimes, exhausting often. But the dark, bruisey days would be over.

We’ve had Silas with us for 19 months. My extremely generous timeline for unfavorable behavior has expired, and we’re still registering a solid Month Ten. At least this week.

It’s been one of those weeks that used to find me feeling bullied and defeated, but now, after much practice, I simply feel bone-tired. It has worried me, the way I’ve learned to compartmentalize. It has concerned me at times, the way my patience grips the very edge with its fingernails.

This adoption thing? It can be lonely business. It’s hard to find the kind of everyday support that I crave, not because people in my life are unwilling to offer, but simply because it’s different.

When these hard weeks come, I sometimes feel judged. She should be doing things differently. I feel inadequate. I’m tired of screwing up. I feel defensive. He’s had a difficult life. I feel exasperated. What will it take for him to start to understand how this stuff works? I feel rejected. My kid doesn’t love me.

I feel all of those things, at times. They are my knee socks, my jeans, my gray T. I wear them well. They fit just right, at this point and they’re surprisingly comfortable.

But then I pull on my love for my child. I zip certainty up to my chin. I ball up my hands and shove them into Promise.

I walk in the sunny-day truth that I often know the right thing and choose the wrong anyway. I do not always obey the very first time. I shove and kick when I’m scared, or when I think my idea was better.

And still, just as I love my angel-lashed boy, I am loved.

I could never have known for sure what this journey would look like or how it would feel. I might have run screaming for the hills had I understood that it would be this hard this long. That is the thought that threatens to break me. I might have turned my back on one of the blessings of my life. I might have missed the moment where he turns to me and says, “I lu yew Mommy”. I would have missed stifling a laugh when he looks up at me and says all mean and sassy, “I tickle yew”. (He finally understands that “I spanka yo bottom” wasn’t working for him, so he improvises now.)

So, I’m learning to let go a little. I’ll not take personal the days where he wakes up spitting mad at me and the world, because these days come in waves. I’ll ride it out knowing that maybe tomorrow, or next Monday, he’ll smile straight into my heart and giggle me through my day.

Every day is a step in the right direction, even when it’s hard.

Every day is a chance to remember that God honors this work. He honors it full. He cheers us on, reminds us that the dark days move faster if you dance a little.

Every day is one more opportunity for grace – for all of us.


Shannan Martin

Shannan Martin is an ordinary girl who searches for and finds beauty in the everyday. She’s the wife of a man who thinks all of her jokes are funny and who regularly indulges her late-night, thinking-out-loud ponderings. They have three funny shorties, Calvin, Ruby, and Silas, who came to them across rivers and oceans. Together, they are embarking on a fresh adventure and are confident that God will meet them there. And though they no longer live on the farm, life remains a heaped-up pile of blessings, and Shannan will forever remain a Farmgirl at heart. She has blogged for three years; come take a look.

That Was Neat

Today, out of nowhere, while my students were standing in a quiet line waiting to walk into the gym, one of my favorite students came up to me with a question. This just so happens to be one of my favorite students this year. She”s a Hispanic child who is so incredibly sweet. Since English is this student”s second language (like many of my students) and since she is a lower performing student, she often repeats the things that I say  to clarify for herself. This is one of my favorite things about her. Whenever she has a question, she basically just says whatever it is that I said but raises her voice at the end to make it a question, then she follows that with, “do you mean like…?” and pretty much just says it again. This happens several times throughout the day. With some kids, that would drive you nuts. But, coming from an incredibly sweet child with a wonderful personality, I love it.

She came up to me, out of nowhere, and said, “Mrs. __, you know how you said your baby was in another mom”s belly then she gave him to you when he was borned?” Since this was literally out of no where and, honestly, other than telling little stories about my little guy in class, I honestly don”t talk about adoption much at all with my students, my students only know that he was adopted because many of them have siblings who were in my class the year LM was born. I don”t mind talking about it; its just not something that comes up. But, since it was so out of the blue, I actually said “what?” and she repeated about how another mom had LM in her belly but gave him to me when he was born. So, I said, “yeah,” wondering where this was coming from and where it could possibly be going.

She said, “I”m glad she did that. That is really neat.”

With that, she got back in line and went on to her gym class. I was left with tears in my eyes and a little smile.

I couldn”t help but think about the “other mom” who held my baby in her tummy then lovingly gave him to me.

It is really neat.



Amanda and her best friend (aka husband) Adam travelled through the long road of recurrent pregnancy loss before being blessed through domestic newborn adoption. Along with chasing a [soon to be] two-year-old around, Amanda occasionally blogs about life as an elementary school teacher, parenting, maintaining an open adoption, feelings on infertility/miscarriages, and of course the joys of adoption.

When There’s “Nothing” You Can Do

Have you ever had a really, really big problem? I have. Frankly, it seems like Dan and I deal with them all the time.

We have two adopted children. They came to us from unbelievably harsh circumstances and have many demons in their closets. There are days that I fear they’ll never fully recover… and there’s really “nothing” I can do about it.

Our ministry serves imprisoned children. Imprisoned. Children. It’s a problem so big and so complicated that there’s really “nothing” I can do about it.

Really big problems tend to make me feel… really helpless. Can you relate? Have you ever faced a mountain so big that you knew you couldn’t scale it? Or perhaps you’ve heard these words from a doctor… “I’m sorry. There’s ‘nothing’ we can do.”

This week, I was blessed and encouraged by these words from my morning Bible study…

There is rarely nothing you can do.
Being still and knowing He is God a long shot from nothing.
Trusting in a God you cannot see is a long shot from nothing.
Holding your tongue is a long shot from nothing.
Counting it all joy is a long shot from nothing.
Submitting is a long shot from nothing.
Confessing sin is a long shot from nothing.
Resting in Christ is a long shot from nothing.
And hear this one really loudly: praying is a long shot from nothing.”

— Beth Moore, Mercy Triumphs

No matter how bleak the circumstances, no matter how high the walls… we serve a God who’s bigger than all of our problems combined. There’s rarely “nothing” we can do. And I will rejoice and rest in that.


Shelly Owens

Dan and Shelly live in Atlanta, Georgia with their five children. Dan is the CEO of SixtyFeet, a ministry serving the imprisoned children of Africa. Shelly is a stay-at-home-mom who does volunteer work for SixtyFeet and delights in homeschooling her crew.