What I Learned From Chip & Joanna Gaines

I, unlike most of America, have never watched Fixer Upper. My husband and I are one of those weird couples who do not have cable tv (we mostly love this), so I’ve missed out on all things ‘Magnolia’.

But that did not stop me from watching Chip and Joanna Gaines on their I Am Second video. After which, I stalked them on Youtube and listened to about five of their recent interviews.

I greatly admire what they’ve done in their business ventures and family life. And upon learning about such a couple, I would typically try to conjure up a way that I could somehow achieve what they have done.

I was tempted to do this after hearing Joanna talk about how well she and her husband work together. It’s exactly the way I feel about my husband, Tim; and boy, would I love to run a family business with him.

In one of her video testimonies, Joanna talks about how God led her down this road of opening up her Magnolia store, closing it for a time, and then reopening again in faith that He was up to something much bigger than she could imagine.

“How cool would that be?!” I thought as I pondered her story and attempted to see how it could be mine as well. “To work with my husband every day, influence my community for good purposes, and do what I love?”

It was then that I remembered. God has spoken to me before as well, only in a different way.

He did not lead me to partner with my spouse in a business deal (which I will probably always dream about doing, because working with Tim all day = FUN).

The circumstances of my life certainly did not prepare me for such a proposition as buying and flipping houses, and then hosting a reality tv show to talk about it.

No, God asked something else of Tim and me, which required the same kind of faith that Joanna mentioned.

He led us to India. To a 6 year old.


In my wildest dreams, I would not have imagined being the mother of a person from India. I wouldn’t have deemed it possible that together, my husband and I would be able to accomplish the lengthy, expensive and exhausting process of adoption.

And now in the thick of parenting, where my days are filled with food struggles, language learning, and a relentless little shadow who gives voice to every thought in her head; I easily lose sight of the magnitude of what God has done through us and for us.

I look at others’ stories and often think, “Neat-o! Wish I had your life, lady!”; all the while failing to consider how God has used the circumstances of my own life to lead me exactly right here.

To a husband who loves Jesus so much, that being loved by him is a lot like being loved by HIM.

What I Learned From Chip and Joanna Gaines | Journey of Faith blog | contentment and dreaming big

To a daughter from India, whom God used to make me a momma for the first time. From her, I am learning how to be a mom. A GOOD one, hopefully (help me, Lord).

What I Learned From Chip and Joanna Gaines | Journey of Faith blog | contentment and dreaming big

I don’t know that Tim and I will ever start a business. I certainly respect those who do.

I don’t know that I will ever be recognized by a large audience. I really admire people like the Gaines’ who can do what they do without losing sight of who THEY are and where they come from.

And I don’t know how wide of an impact I am going to have on my community beyond the four walls of my home (and hopefully the spaces our family frequents, like our church and school).

But God has led me to exactly where I should be. I know this. And to lose sight of what my role is in THIS season simply because I’m envying the different thing He’s doing in someone else’s life – well, that’s just plain silliness.

So, although I have not seen their show, I am thankful for Chip and Joanna. For the Magnolia story. It’s reminded me to dream big within the realm of who God has made me to be, where He has placed me, and what He has allowed me to experience. And certainly, it’s given me a greater appreciation for where I am RIGHT NOW – home. With my family.

What I Learned From Chip and Joanna Gaines | Journey of Faith blog | contentment and dreaming big

photo credit: Nitish Durbha

Some Thoughts on Adoption

It’s been just over a month since we brought our daughter home from India. We have enjoyed a lot of laughter, games, and learning experiences together. Sujata is attaching amazingly well to us, and we love her greatly!  There are already many, happy memories piling up, one after the other. Adoption sure is a beautiful and joyous process that brings families together!

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blogBut it is not all rainbows and butterflies, and I wish more people would talk about that. I am thankful for the stories of people who do share more than just the happy side of adoption because they help to give a more complete picture of what it is really like, and of what it’s all about.

Adoption, after all, is wrought with loss. For everyone.

For the child, of course, he or she loses his parents (and the reasons for this, I am learning, are about as vast as the number of stars in the sky). I think of all that my Mom and Dad have provided for me throughout my lifetime; and I grieve deeply for the children who do not know where they come from, whose they are, or how to grow up to be as stabile and independent as possible. The loss continues for children who are, then, internationally adopted. They give up their culture, people, and homeland in exchange for a different everything.  This means the loss of one’s native language, food, music, and so much more. Before traveling to India, I could not comprehend all that my girl would lose in coming home with us. The losses are so great.

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

For the birth parents, they lose their baby. Oh, the loss! They miss out on so much. The years of memories, of watching their little one grow and change. They lose their child’s future, as well as the here and now. They lose the privilege and gift that it is to be called someone’s Mom and Dad. Oh, how my heart grieves for my daughter’s first ones. They do not get to share cuddles with her while reading, or holding hands during morning walks, or laughter in the middle of backyard games, or the gift of teaching her, or seeing her face light up when she learns something new (or when she wins a game). They have lost so very much. So. Very. Much.

And I had no idea that adoptive parents would feel the losses so deeply as well. In bringing home my 6 year old child, I welcomed the loss of her first years of life into my home. Into my heart.  The pain has been piercing and, at times, overwhelming.

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

Frequently, when I hold her close to me, I wonder what those beginning years were like for her. What was it like to hold baby Sujata? What did she look like as a newborn…at 6 months…2 years…?

When did she first crawl? What was her first word? When did she first taste chocolate…ice cream…rice? (These are a few of her favorite things.)

Why does she like to close every single door in the house? If I knew the reason, would I laugh? Or cry?

And on the questions go. There is a lot that I have lost in having my daughter, and even more that she has lost in having me as her forever momma. And how I grieve, so much and so often, for us all.

But I would not trade my daughter for anyone. And I would walk this road again, even with the knowledge of such pain.

Because adoption is not just about loss; it is about restoration.

fam laugh

Adoption is a picture of the gospel. It puts on display the God who left the perfection and comforts of heaven to enter into the brokenness of the people He loves. Adoption demonstrates how we can carry another’s burdens and (hopefully) bring healing, as Christ carried our sorrows and brought us back to God through the laying down of his life for ours.

Adoption affirms to my child  that she is of incredible value, and that she belongs with her Mama and Papa. Adoption gives her a future, and a here and now, in a family. Her family. Adoption helps to restore what has been lost. For everyone.

Adoption is so beautiful, a process that is interwoven with great sorrow and joy. I cannot think of a more worthy endeavor to be a part of.

To my first baby girl, Sujata Elizabeth-

Oh, my dear. You are a like a ray of sunshine to your papa and me. We are often struck by the beauty of who you are, inside and out. We will always rejoice over you, our daughter. {You}, Sujata, are a gift to me. A precious and worthy gift.  We will have so many more happy moments together, and we will also grieve for all that you have lost. I am so sorry, my girl; but I am also so happy. Because you are mine. It is an honor to be {your} Momma. Forever and ever. 

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

Meeting Sujata

My husband and I had the great privilege of traveling to India last month to meet our daughter and bring her home! Welcome to the final installment in this long story of the journey to get our girl. Below are some of my thoughts about meeting my daughter…

I remember walking with my husband in a rose garden near our hotel that morning.

Meeting Sujata | Journey of Faith blog

I remember not feeling many emotions. In the roller coaster ride of our adoption journey over the past 2+ years, I’ve learned that I tend to freeze up in the midst of big, life-changing events; and that is OK. On the day of meeting my 6 year old child, I was not expecting to feel any differently. I felt calm and ready.

The director of the orphanage picked my husband, myself and our guide up that day, and I remember sitting quietly near her during the drive. I wondered what she thought of me. I wondered what kind of memories she had made with my daughter.

Our time at the orphanage felt surreal. I couldn’t believe I was mere FEET away from my little girl. I couldn’t believe this was my story, and I felt so grateful that God was doing something I could never have made possible in a million years. He was making me a mom to an Indian child.

After a short visit with the director and then our daughter’s caretaker, we stepped out of the office to make our way to where our daughter was playing. Through the glass doors in front of us, we could see all the children standing together. In the middle of the group of littles, there stood our daughter with a beaming smile on her face. Hand in the air, waving to us. We waved back and couldn’t believe how ready she seemed to be to meet us.

I laughed through my tears as I walked up to her and held her in my arms. I will never forget those first moments that welcomed me into the world of mommyhood.

meeting S momma

We were able to spend time with all of our daughter’s friends, and after a little while, my daughter took my hand and definitively said, “Chalo”. Let’s go. This little girl was more than ready to leave with us! We have since wondered to ourselves who did such an excellent job in preparing our girl for us. We are so grateful.

Meeting Sujata | Journey of Faith blog

Her name is Sujata, and she is a spunky 6 year old! She likes to eat Cheetos, ice cream, rice and not much else (but is motivated by the prospect of M&M’s); and she has an intense curiosity to explore the world around her. This means pushing buttons all the time. Literally. If S sees a button, she will push it to see what it does. She also loves drawing and doing art projects, “going” to school with Momma, walking our puppies, “dancing” with the cats (who are now excellent at hiding themselves from a certain individual), and dressing up all nice and fancy-like.  :) A bundle of energy, S is always on-the-go and ready to learn the next activity, from jumping rope to roller skating. She learns quickly and has an amazing memory!

I’m still a bit shell-shocked that this journey that started on a Sunday morning in late November 2013 has now come full circle with the arrival of our daughter, Sujata. I would not trade our story for anything, even in the midst of such loss. I have much more to write about both the gains AND losses in adoption for children and their parents, but am still processing the changes over the past month and want to be careful about what I share (for the sake of a sweet, little 6 year old girl who has captured our hearts).

We are eternally grateful to God for His plans for our family. Welcome home, Sujata!

Meeting Sujata | Journey of Faith blog

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121:1 & 2

Passport for Baby S

I told my friend this morning that I felt like we would meet our daughter soon.

“I don’t know if it’s that mommy intuition or simply wishful thinking, but I think we could be traveling soon,” I confided to her.

Our coordinator called within the hour to tell us that our daughter’s passport is ready.

I’m still in shock.

Passport for Baby S | Journey of Faith blog

Situation: Baby S’s passport is ready, so we are now [just] waiting on our visas to be approved before we travel.

Feeling: Ready. I am ready to meet my daughter. We’re so close to meeting her that I can almost feel my arms wrapping around her for a big bear hug! I feel anxious to hear her voice and see what kind of faces she makes, and to learn all about the personality of my little one.

Thinking: Soon, I will be standing face-to-face with my little girl. My first baby. SOON.

Fearing: our visas!!!  We sent them in last night, so hopefully our passports will be returned pronto with the appropriate stamp in them.

Praying: the same things over and over again. We are praying for our visa approvals, and for our daughter. We continue to pray for safety while traveling, and for an uneventful return home.  We also pray for our Father’s gracious guidance as we learn how to be parents.:)

Daddy’s thoughts: Excited and ready to meet my daughter! (I think he is over this whole “sharing our emotions” thing. :))

Passport for Baby S | Journey of Faith blog

The next time I post anything adoption-related, it will be to introduce you to my little girl. My first baby.


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21


Article 23

Upon receiving our official court order last Wednesday, our family coordinator cautioned us that the Article 23 – a legal document we need from CARA before we can travel – can sometimes take much longer than expected. “God is in control,” she encouraged me. “It will all work out. Don’t fret.”

Two days later, as my workday came to a close, we received the Article 23.

In the words of our travel coordinator:

This is one of the fastest Article 23s we have received from CARA, which is great.  The issuance of the Article 23 does not impact the timing of when a child’s passport will be ready, but it is great to have the Article 23 before the passport is issued.  This way we can begin working with the orphanage on when they can host your family as soon as we get a copy of the passport.

 We are speechless. Humbled. Thankful.

And, for one of the first times in our adoption journey, we feel the urgency of time.

We’re still fearing the visa application process and have already run into a few hiccups with Tim’s application. Hopefully, we’ll be able to sort it all out this week.

The thought keeps running through my head: “If God is for us, who can be against us? If God is FOR US, not even a silly visa application will stand in His way.”

He will bring our daughter home. Soon.

P.S. Below are a few prayer requests, and we thank you for your support in this way! 

  1. Speedy process of our visas, and that we’ll figure this thing out.
  2. Quick issuance of our daughter’s passport.
  3. Safety while traveling to India, while there, and that we’ll arrive home in one piece and with our girl.🙂
  4. Bonding and attachment between us and Baby S!
  5. Ease of communication in these early days of having her home.🙂

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:31&32

Court Order and Visa Applications

And the story continues…

Court Order and Visa Applications | Journey of Faith blog

Situation: On Wednesday, February 24, it snowed. And in late afternoon, our adoption coordinator notified us that we received our court order from India! A flurry of excitement ensued for yours truly and her husband.🙂

Having the court order means that our daughter’s passport is now being processed, our travel coordinator can apply for the Article 23 from CARA (a legal document we need to take with us to India), and we need to hurry and apply for our visas. We couldn’t apply any earlier than this week, since Tim had to send in his passport for an update. Below are some of our initial thoughts upon this next step.

Feeling: Excited!! Nervous!! Overwhelmed!! I am scared to fill out our visa applications. I know, I know, it’s easy-peasy right? Well, not for us. We read way too much into the questions and over-analyze our answers. I am ready to just have our forms in the mail and out of the way! It will be a joyous day when we have visas in hand.

Thinking: A TON of questions- What did my daughter think the first time she saw our picture? Is she excited for us? When will I no longer be afraid of filling out paperwork? (SERIOUSLY.) Who will we meet on our flight to India? What will Baby S think of the flight home? Is she excited for us? (I wonder frequently.)

Fearing: the visa applications. Never done it before, never wanna do it again. Hate it, don’t wanna do it. What if I enter incorrect information? What if I forget one of the documents we need to send in with it?

Praying: Our prayers are with our daughter, that she will be ready for us. We’re praying for a smooth and speedy process with her passport, the remaining documents we need before we can travel, and of course, for our visas. We are praying for safety as we travel to and from India with our baby. Our first baby. 

Daddy’s Thoughts: (On the court order) I am very, very excited because for the first time I feel like we are SO close. I am VERY EXCITED to meet my daughter now! (On applying for our visas) I’m stressed about our visas because it’s confusing and I’m not sure what to do. Thankful that my wife and I are doing this TOGETHER.

Daddy’s Prayers: I’m praying for our final paperwork, as well as our daughter’s passport, to be finished quickly and smoothly!

I am so very excited right now, and I’m looking forward to going to India. Most of all, I’m very excited to meet our little girl and begin getting to know her. So overall, I’m just excited and happy now.🙂

Soon, our baby girl will be home. Soon.
 Court Order and Visa Applications | Journey of Faith blog

A Baby Shower

I still remember that Sunday morning in late November 2013. It was the day that changed the trajectory of our family’s life forever. God, by His Spirit, impressed upon our hearts the conviction that it was time to begin the adoption process. We were both thrilled and terrified.

A Baby Shower | Journey of Faith blog

I have the vivid recollection of thinking that we were crazy to start such a time-consuming, financially draining, life-changing process. Tim had just stepped into a part-time position at his job to begin seminary classes. I had just found (by God’s grace) a full-time admin position at a local company and, probably needless to say; I was not “raking in the dough” by any stretch. Yet there we were, embarking on the journey of international adoption. We felt called to do it, but that didn’t mean we thought it would work. We wondered if this process would result in the children we hoped and prayed for. We questioned if God was asking us to do something that wouldn’t work out in the end (such things happen, after all). We scratched our heads in quandary, wondering if we were losing our minds.

And I remember that in those moments of doubt, at the beginning of this journey, I thought, “If I ever get to the point where I’m having a baby shower for my Indian kids, THEN I’ll know. I’ll know that God has done it, that He is doing it, and that we have followed His call. If I can just get to the baby shower…” It seemed impossible.

A Baby Shower | Journey of Faith blogA Baby Shower | Journey of Faith blog

Over two years later, and I’m sitting at my desk on a sunny Saturday morning in February 2016. We have recently celebrated the one year anniversary of being matched with our daughter.  Our case has passed in the Indian court, and we are preparing to travel by May.

And today, I’m preparing for a “baby” shower which several friends are hosting for me as we await the arrival of our little girl.

The magnitude of this day is not lost on me. It is a declaration that our children, whether by the fruit of our wombs or any other way, are a gift from God and the work of His hands. Today, we celebrate His faithfulness to accomplish His plans for our family.

It doesn’t seem so impossible any more that I will hold my child in my arms. Soon.

I saw the Lord, high and exalted,seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple…“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King,the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah 6:1,5-8