Monday, October 29, 2012

Adam + Backpack + Lacey + Wine = Forever

This is a big week for us. 

We've been together for 7 years.

I met Adam when I was 22.  At the time, I felt so old. 

Everyone I knew at the time met their soul mate and got married right after high school.  I had just finished college and there was no Prince Charming on the horizon. 

And when you least expect it...

That's when it happens.

Adam and I had our first real date at a Halloween party on October 30. 

If I could go back to this date, 7 years ago, and give myself some advice, it would include the following:

1.  A backpack full of wine is not a dare.

2.  Do not hit on people wearing house arrest bracelets to make Adam jealous.

3.  There are parts of this night that you will want to remember with striking, minute by minute, full detail including every sense clarity.

4.  This is the day that will change your life.

5.  The love of your life will show up wearing a t-shirt with two unicorns...uhmm.....doing it. 

6.  A bottle of absinthe (that Adam bought online from the Czech Republic) that gets spilt will make the trunk smell like licorice for years.  Years.

7.  A quote from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective will be a part of your first kiss. 

8.  By all accounts, this is not a date that should lead to true love.  Or even a second date. 

9.  There are some situations in life where serendipitous fate and destiny just take control.  This is one of them.

10.  If the future love of your life tries to kiss you on the forehead.  Let him.  Especially if you just threw up.

11.  He should not call you the next day.  But he will.  And he will call you every day forever.

12.  It's okay that neither of you wore a costume.  You will always do your own thing together.

13.  If you're gonna drink a backpack full of wine, don't finish the night by drinking beer.

14.  You are so lucky.  And you don't even know it yet. 

15.  This is your last first date.  It will be worth it.  I promise. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blog Post: Third Rewrite

This is the third time that I've re-written this blog post.  The start of this post was written at the beginning of the week, when I really just wanted to throw myself a pity party because things aren't moving fast enough.  You can see for yourself how the week has ended up. 

People always ask, "How's the adoption coming?"  And it's hard to answer that.  It feels like we are in such a holding pattern right now, just chomping at the bit until we can DO something. 

And by "do something," I mean bring a child into our family.

(This is the part where I laughed and laughed and laughed.  How silly am I to think that this is about Adam and I doing something?  In the course of the week, Adam and I did nothing.  But God...oh boy, God did some big things and wowed the socks off us.)

If you've been hanging with us for any bit of time, you know that our primary goal is to pay off any outstanding debt.  After that, we buy the house of our semi-dreams.  Then, we can officially start the adoption process. 

In theory, we could start the adoption process right now.  We could have a home study done in our 2-bedroom apartment (where, if we had a baby, the child would have to share some serious space with the kitties).  And then, when we moved into a house, we would just have to have the whole process updated (updating in this case pretty much means "redoing" and "paying more money.")

Until then, we wait. 

And I don't like waiting.  I like doing.

But, there are so many blessings in the wait.  I really have to look for them, but they are there.  And they are good.

(Again, insert laughter here. By the end of the week, I was no longer looking for the blessings. They were everywhere!)

(I love this song. I could watch this video a million times and never tire of it. Makes me think of us and all our waiting...)

For instance, yesterday (earlier in the week), I got a bill for an (overdue) medical bill that I have from last summer--related to feeling like I was basically gonna stroke out from post-wedding stress.  But anyway, it was kind of a last ditch effort to get me to pay up, which I planned on doing, but it wasn't really at the top of our list.  But they were willing to strike a deal and cut the bill by $837.83 if we pay the bill by the beginning of October.  Guess which bill just got moved to the top of the list?!  It'll be a bit of a scramble, but we can do it.

Also starting October 1, we are eligible for Tricare (Army) health insurance again.  Anyone who is self-employed knows the lament of paying a ridiculous amount of money for really craptastic health coverage.  It's slightly more expensive than our previous coverage, but won't go up when we have kids, no matter how many kids we have (score!).  And it will come directly out of Adam's Army income, so that will free up an extra $150/month.  Oh, and we won't go bankrupt if Adam has another kidney stone.  Yippee!

We found a house that we are in love with.  Unfortunately, we're about 6-8 months away from purchasing one.  Wah wah.  (This is really what the pity part was about.  By the end of the week, we are closer to this goal than we knew when I was whining around about it.)  The house has already been on the market for 120 days.  I don't use prayer as an ordering service, but I certainly think that God has found favor on our adoption (uh...big time!), and I know that He is going to (and already is) make big things happen in order to get this accomplished.  So I'm open to God keeping this house on the market for another 240 days, providing the finances to purchase the house sooner than planned, or providing another home that is better than this one (which, after looking at the home today, was the case).

Being self-employed, I have to pay quarterly taxes, since mine aren't just deducted from my paycheck each week.  In some ways, I envy people who never see the actual amount that the government takes out of their paycheck--it's really hard to have that money and purposely set it aside.  But after the first year, when we had a hefty little tax bill, I have been diligent about putting my tax money in a separate account.  When I figured my taxes on Saturday night (which is lame for a Saturday night--even as an adult), I found out that I made more than DOUBLE the amount that I did for the first two quarters of the year.  Now, that in and of itself is a huge blessing.  But the best part is that I had an extra $700 left over in my account once the taxes were paid.  I love God's math. 

A good friend of mine also hooked us up with a local adoption agency that offers programs in countries that we had not previously considered (Bulgaria, Samoa, Nicaragua, Democratic Republic of Congo), so we are just being open right now about where we're supposed to focus our adoption.  I even encouraged Adam to be open to the idea of domestic adoption--something that we had previously not considered for a variety of reasons.  The agency also has a non-profit component that helps families to obtain the funds needed for adoption. 

And perhaps the biggest kicker of all--I had another medical bill for about $2,350.  I made a pretty substantial payment on it over the weekend, but got concerned because my payment never got applied to the account.  When I called the company, they said they were no longer accepting payments for the hospital and that I needed to contact the hospital.  So I called the hospital, and they have no record of me owing this bill.  Uhmm...excuse me?  This bill seems to have completely vanished off the face of the Earth!  It's really hard to argue with someone that you really do actually owe them money. The sweet lady even said, "Well, we can't take a payment from you if we don't have the bill in the system."  And I said, "Good day."  Since the start of the summer, we have had over $10,000 in medical bills either be covered by health insurance we didn't know we had OR completely disappear!  In what WORLD does that happen?!

In the world of adoption, that's for sure. 


So, what does all that mean?

It means that the majority of our debt is GONE.


And, golly, that makes me happy

(Footnote:  Today, Adam bought what he thought were a pair of $50 sneakers.  They rang up at $12.03.  I told you--the blessings were just knocking us in the face by the end of the week!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Little Weird...

Every once in a while, I will pepper Adam will questions that I know will be on our adoption application or that I anticipate a social worker will ask during a home visit.  Sometimes it feels a little like we're prepping for the SATs at our house.  But I really want to be prepared and feel like we're on the same page with this whole adoption thing.

One day, I asked him, "Why are we adopting?" 

And he said, "Because it's the right thing to do."

And I said, "Okay, but why is it right for us?"

And he said, "Because it's right for everyone."

And I wholeheartedly disagree with him.  While I think every child deserves to be adopted into a loving family, I do not believe that every adult is fit to adopt a child.  Just like I don't believe that every adult deserves the privilege to bring a biological child into the world. 

I get so frustrated because people want to make this huge distinction between adopted kids and biological kids.  We convince ourselves that, somehow, if we just have biological kids, everything will be perfect.  That everyone will be safe and healthy.  It's just like when I would tell people that Adam was getting deployed.  They would automatically assume that he was going to die.  How can we lull ourselves into this false sense of safety that if we just DO THIS then it will all be okay?  How stupid are we to think that we have any control in this at all???

Insert Pat Roberston. 

It's so funny, because I feel like I have the Momma Bear instinct, even though I'm not a Momma yet.  And I wanted to claw this man's eyes out. 

I just wanna look at what the Bible says about adoption.  I mean, okay, maybe we can overlook the big picture that, as believers, we are adopted as children of God.  And maybe we can even overlook that Moses and Esther were adopted.  But you cannot deny what the Bible says specifically about adopting human children into your family. 

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.

Hmmm....notice it doesn't say, "Go spewing your ignorant hate out into the world."  It says, "Take care of widows and orphans."  And, I'm sorry, Pat Roberston, but I'm not so sure that sending money to an organization to "care for orphans" is cutting the mustard. 

When I think about "care for orphans," I think about tucking them into bed at night and giving them a birthday party and knowing that they will always have shoes to wear and be able to go to the dentist.  That they will always have food to eat.  That they will have a Mom and a Dad who love them more than anything.  That we made huge sacrifices and worked our tails off to be able to bring them home.   Because they belong in our family

Mr. Roberston goes on to talk about how kids from orphanages are almost assured to have been sexually abused and brain damaged.  That they might grow up to be "weird." 

My good friend Nina pointed out that "We all know biological, American, Christian, white children never grow up to be 'weird."

Did you know that, statistically, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys have been sexually abused?  I'd be willing to bet that those statistics are actually higher and that these are just the instances that have been reported.  This is not a problem that is isolated to orphanages.  None of the kids at Penn State were in an orphanage.

Having biological kids in the United States is not a guarantee that your child will not have brain damage.  Did you know that 1 in 88 kids in the United States will be diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum?  A feature of ASD is "atypical brain development."  Wait, Mr. Roberston, are these kids "brain damaged?" I guess that isn't isolated to orphanages either. 

As for the whole "weird" thing, I think I've resigned myself to the fact that Adam and I's kids (biological or adopted) are gonna be a little weird.  I think I would rather them be a little weird but be good, loving human beings than to fit into the mold that our world has set for people. 

And, pleasepleaseplease do not base your opinions on adoption about one "friend" that you knew or a news story that you saw or a rumor that you heard.  Open your mind to consider that every family is different and what works for our family certainly might not work for your family.

'Cause, you know, our family is a little weird

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Some people have expressed frustration about not being able to leave comments.  If you submit a comment, it comes to my e-mail inbox first, instead of going straight on the blog.  After I read it, I click a little button and then it gets published on the blog.  It's meant to weed out meanies.  (snort)

I Am Not Adventurous

I was talking with someone and I said, "You know, I'm just not very adventurous." 

And then we laughed. 

'Cause earlier in the day I had biked on a (mostly downhill) bike trail with my front brakes taped together. 

And why on Earth was I doing that?

The long story involve me being good at two things:  being a therapist and being Adam's wife.  The short story is basically because the good folks at the Wounded Warrior Project asked me to. 

The plan had been to go recumbent biking down this trail.  I had never ridden a recumbent bike, but they are relatively more stable than a bicycle (with three wheels and being all close to the ground).  So I tested it out and got all excited, but then the person in charge of the bikes decided that I was "too short" to ride any of the recumbent bikes. 

(As an aside, I am 5'7" and have never been told that I am "too short" for anything.  For some reason this guy was convinced that I was the shortest person in our group, even though two of the ladies were barely over 5'0".  But whatever...)

So I offered to ride a bicycle.  Which I haven't done since the seventh grade.  And really wasn't sure if I still knew how, but I was willing to believe that saying about "it's just like riding a bike.." 

And then my front brakes didn't work.  So the guy taped them.  And we prayed that they would hold.  And I buckled my bike helmet (PS I had never worn one of those either...eek!) and took off.

And, at times, it was the most terrifying thing I have ever done.  There were more than a few places where I strategically planned my crashing so that I wouldn't mess up my face or my stunning teeth (that we had JUST PAID OFF!).  I was willing to risk pretty much the rest of my body and hope that some of that magical health insurance would take care of it!

But I did it.

(There are no pictures of that taking place 'cause I was so freakin' scared.  I was really just focused on staying on the bike and keeping my face intact.)

And there was the time they asked me to go skiing.  This is me at the end of Part 1, Day 1, where I am wet, scraped, and bleeding from my skiing adventures.  No one else looked like this.  (I love how PROUD I am in this picture!)

In my defense, Indiana is relatively flat, and I had never been skiing before.  And I was terrified.

But here I am at the end of Day 2.  Less wet.  Less bloody.  Still terrified.  And very high up. 

But I did it.  I mostly skiied down the hill.  (Yes, there was some falling/sliding involved, but nothing like it was the day before!)

Oh yeah, and white water rafting?  No biggie. 

(I'm in the back left (bottom right on the pictures).  Thank goodness the helmet hides the look of terror in my eyes. 

So, not only was I very very scared, I was cold.  After years of tailgating the IU/Purdue game in November, I thought I had officially experienced the coldest I have ever been.  And that's just not true.  It's a whole different thing to be cold and soaking wet and scared

Water in Maine in May is COLD.

But I did it.

And then there was the time that I came home and told my husband that I thought we should fly about 7,700 miles around the world to adopt our children.  And that we would need to buy a house and save about $20,000 before we could do that.  And that I thought it was possible to do all that in about a year. 

And we are doing it.

Maybe I'm more adventurous than I think...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Dare You To Move

I always feel like there's "nothing much" going on with our adoption.  And then I stop to really think about it.  And even though we haven't officially started the process or filled out one sheet of paperwork or brought our child(ren) home, things are still MOVING! 

I'm never quite sure how much to share about the financial aspect of adoption.  I want to be as transparent as possible, especially in this arena, because it is the number one reason why most people don't choose adoption--they don't think they can afford it. 

And I'm here to tell you...we can't afford it

I know that there are some people who will say that we shouldn't adopt if we can't afford it.  And I don't know what to tell those people.  I think if you wait until you can have kids, you'll never have 'em.  And I think life is too short to let a lil' thing like money keep us from our babies.  (So, I guess that's what I'd tell 'em, huh?)

Before we really started on our journey toward adoption, I read all these blogs about adoption.  And I heard (read?) all these people talking about how God provided them with the money for adoption.  And I kept thinking, "I want that.  I want God to pay for our adoption!" 

Now, I am a firm believer of "Go with God, but row away from the rocks."  I did not expect for God to just deposit $20,000 in our bank account and give us a free house (though anything is possible, and we are certainly open to the idea!).  But I did know that we were going to need some serious favor from God if we were going to do this. 

'Cause we can't afford adoptionBut God can

I've talked before about going to see Joyce Meyer in April, where she talked about faith and fear.  I always think it's funny how sometimes God doesn't just blast you in the face with things, but instead He just unravels them for you slowly.  She talked about the concept of giving and shared the story of Elijah and the widow from the Bible. 

I'm certainly not a Bible scholar so bear with me, but the gist is that Elijah walked in the desert for 100 miles, because God told him to go somewhere.  And when he got to where God wanted him to go, he found out that the person who is entrusted to take care of him is actually at the brink of starvation and has just enough food to cook her funeral meal.  If I were Elijah, I might have been pretty disappointed.  And if I were the widow, I would be downright annoyed that I am expected to share my last meal with some stranger who is probably more than a little dusty.

And THEN Elijah says (paraphrased), "Make me some food."  If I were this widow, I would have probably smacked him, if I'd had the strength.  And he told her that God wouldn't allow her food supply to run out.  So this woman has to trust Eljiah and her God to know that this is true.  And bottom line:  The food supply didn't run out.  In fact, it grew faster when they were using it than when they were storing it. 

So as Joyce is going on in her very southern, matter-of-fact way or maybe it was when she was showing a video of their work in Africa (with children who very easily could be OUR child), God and I had a heart-to-heart.  And I chose to make a monthly donation to Joyce Meyer ministries.  I committed to $15 a month.  Because, honestly, it didn't make sense that I should be giving away our good, hard-earned money when we so desperately need it.  And I'm a little hesitant about trusting people with my money and believing that it will go where it needs to goBut, really, it's God's money anyway. He'll do what He wants with it.

But by letting go of what amounts to a very small amount of our income and trusting God with it, we have seen His provision in a BIG WAY.  We have also made a serious committment to not spending money on crap we don't need or eating out.  Whenever I drive past a place that sells ice cream or overpriced coffee, I have to ask myself, "Do you want coffee or do you want your kids to come home?"  It's pretty sobering. 

In the last six months, we have:

1.  Paid off my car...that I got the same day Adam and went on our first date!  (It was quite a day!)
2.  Paid off two credit cards
3.  Seen God eliminate one of Adam's student loans
4.  Watched in awe as God provided retroactive health insurance for Adam's kidney stone
5.  Paid off a credit card related to my dental surgeries to get rid of my little teeth
6.  Paid off a credit card I got in college and used stupidly
7.  More magical insurance coverage that covered the cost of pain killers for another possible kidney stone

The details aren't important, but that was about $17,000 worth of debt taken care of right there!  Bazinga!

Add into that that I got a job teaching a senior level social work course at Indiana University in the fall, which will provide extra income.  I also work for a company doing adoption recruitment for families in Indiana.  Plus, things are really booming at my practice, and I'm getting so many referrals for military clients.  I'm also set up to do another Odyssey with the Wounded Warrior Project in August. 

And we managed to purchase a laptop and fix my car (something about the mechanic feeling unsafe to test-drive it because the wheel was almost going to come off).  And, seriously, I put off getting my car fixed for about 3 YEARS because I didn't have the money. 

So thanks to God for his provision, thanks to my husband for saying yes (about a lot of things), and for our friends, family, and readers who are praying and sending good thoughts our way.  We are seriously doing this! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Big Things...

I would like to say that things around here have been pretty quiet, but that would be a lie!  Things are a 'movin' and a 'shakin' at the Miller household!  This post is going to be a mishmash of a lot of things that might seem pretty random, but all serve to point out that BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

If you've been following us for any stretch of time, you know that Adam was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan at the end of July.  And as hard as that was, it was really going to provide some financial cushion for us to buy a house and save all the money we needed for our adoption.  And while we certainly could adopt while we still live in an apartment, we feel pretty strongly that we should be in a house before we start that process.  So, yeah, that's a ton of money. 

I remember when Adam and I first agreed to adopt.  And his brain immediately went to, "How are we going to pay for this?  How are we going to make sure that all the kids have braces and go to college?"  ('Cause, let's face it, any biological Miller kids are gonna need glasses and braces!)  And I just remember feeling this peace about it and saying, "God wouldn't have called us to do this if He weren't going to show us a way to pay for it."  There are low-interest adoption loans available, but we also feel pretty strongly that God doesn't want us to go into debt trying to pay for an adoption. 

So we've basically been praying our guts out that God would do some BIG THINGS to help pave the way for our adoption.  Wanna know what God has been up to?

1.  Back in February, Adam had a kidney stone, which required two ER visits.  Since I'm self-employed and carry our health insurance, we have pretty lousy insurance coverage.  As a result, we recieved a $7,000 bill from the hospital.  The next week, we recieved a letter from Tricare (military insurance), stating that Adam was covered by their insurance for about 3 weeks, which just happened to be when he had his kidney stone.  So, yeah, $7,000 bill GONE!

2. We are working on paying off any debt that we have, so that we can really maximize our savings for a house and adoption.  We paid off a $1,500 credit card in three weeks!  We cut a $2,500 credit card IN HALF in a week!

3.  Adam had a student loan bill for $1,800.  It turns out that his school no longer is using the same company to process payments, so the account got cancelled somehow.  If Adam enrolls in school for this next quarter (which he will) and doesn't drop out (which we won't), they will wipe that debt clean.  Uh...what?  I've never ever heard of a school just forgiving student payment debt.  So, yeah, $1,800 GONE!

4.  A year and a half ago, I met with someone from the Indiana University School of Social Work (where I went to school) about possibly teaching an undergraduate class or two.  That person then went on sabbatical for a year, and I never heard back from her.  She e-mailed last week and asked if I was still interested, and we have a meeting set up this week to talk about me teaching a class about diversity.

5.  Back in March, I agreed to do a Project Odyssey with the Wounded Warrior Project.  It was completely volunteer, but it was basically a chance for me to travel and help soldiers (and ski for the first time!), so I did it.  Well, after that, they were able to partner with a volunteer group that I belong to, and they found funding for me to do another Odyssey in May.  Oh, and they back paid me for the Odyssey in March.  And they asked me to do two more before the end of summer. 

6.  In an effort to save money, we have stopped eating out.  We have allowed ourselves the treat of eating out once a week, but we don't get to go anywhere nice (and if we do, we don't get to pay full price for our meal and we drink water only).   We decided to go to our favorite wing place on Thursday because they have a discount on wings then.  The wings were delicious, but the service was lousy, so they offered to give us 50% off our meal.  So we ended up paying 25% of the full price for our meal. 

God works in the big ways and in the little ways.  Sometimes it's $7,000 in hospital bills.  Sometimes it's discounted wings.  Either way, we are thankful.

As Adam and I were figuring our finances, he said, "You know, it just seems weird that some of this stuff has dogged us for years, and now it's just all going away."  I truly believe that this is a direct result of our commitment to adoption and praying faithfully for God to deliver the goods

In April, when I had the chance to see Joyce Meyer speak, she said that she thinks God might get a little insulted when people say, "Well, all we can do is pray."  Because it makes prayer sound like a small thing.  And, to be really honest, praying about our adoption is the only way we are going to be able to make it happen.  And we trust in our hearts that God wants our child or children to be with a loving, mostly stable (ha!) family. 

I CAN'T WAIT to see how God moves in the next year! 

"Grant me that I may not pray with my mouth alone.  Help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart." ~Martin Luther

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moving on to Plan C

So, life is really weird right now. 

We had some warning, but it didn't really make things any easier when we got the news.

The deployment has been cancelled.

Yup, cancelled.

I can see some of you reading this and going, "Uhmm...that's a good thing, right?" 

And, ohmuword, it sure is. 

But, in the last three days, we have done a complete reworking of The Life Plan.

And, boy, is that draining. 

I remember, on my way to watch my best friend try on wedding dresses, being in my car and crying crying crying about this deployment.  And I was praying praying praying for it to somehow make sense.   And I just felt this peace--God is funny like that.  And it was just like, "If Adam deploys, then you will have all the money you need for the adoption."  And I was really okay with it from then on.  If I could see the purpose in it, then it was about as okay as it was gonna be.

Now, obviously, I can see the benefits of a cancelled deployment pretty clearly.

Uh, hello?  I get to spend mostly every single day of the next year with my husband!  As I've said many times these last few days...there is no amount of money to make it okay for me to separated from him for that long.  I would rather be dirt poor, living in our little apartment, with no babies for the rest of our lives, if that means that we get to be together. 

And, boy, that counts for a lot. 

And he doesn't have to go fight in a war.

Which I'm pretty happy about. 

(It should be noted that Adam is pretty disappointed.  He was very much looking forward to this.)

I may or may not have had a pretty good pity party for us last night.  We don't do it very often, so I set the table for two!  Things like, "Why don't we ever get what we want?!" may have come out of my mouth.  (Did I honestly say that?  About a deployment being cancelled?!...I told you things were weird right now.)

And my dear, sweet, amazing husband said, "Maybe we are wanting the wrong things.  Maybe this is one of those situations where we don't get what we want because of something better." 

And I know he's right.  But I feel like, lately, we've just had so many doors closed in our smug little faces. 

And that is so hard. 

As far as an adoption update, we have about 25% of the total amount that we need for the entire process...which is AMAZING!  We have been so blessed by the generosity of others and by God's favor on my business!

We are now trying to think and plan and strategize for other ways to fundraise.  We are certainly open to any ideas that you may have.  What have you done for fundraisers for organizations? 

So, right now, we are in a pretty serious holding pattern.  Praying for direction.  Praying for peace. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

I had someone ask me if Memorial Day weekend was hard for me because of what my husband does for a living.  When I shared this with Adam, he said, "Well, I'm not dead..."

But it got me to thinking...

Because, let's face it, I never in a million trajillion quadrillion years saw myself as a military wife. 

And would you believe that I was 22, and had graduated from college before I knew that Memorial Day was a holiday to honor the sacrifice of the fine men and women of the United States' military? 

And that's a shame.

In my family, we used to use Memorial Day to decorate the headstones of the people who had died in my family.  There was something spiritual about heading to three different cemetaries to clean up a year's worth of weeds, dirt, and bird poo.  To replace last year's wreath of plastic flowers with a new one of brightly colored plastic flowers.  To spray weed killer.  To wander around, looking at old grave markers, visiting the one that looks like a (real) tree.  To pray.

My grandpa passed away before I was born, and I was the only one of the grandkids who didn't get to know him.  So we always had the tradition, no matter what color flowers we bought, to buy a single purple flower to put with them.  Since I stand by the belief that purple has been my favorite color since birth, it was always very symbolic and special. 

And that's all well and good.  But it's not the point of Memorial Day.

I don't come from a military family.  My dad and my uncle both (thankfully) avoided the draft during the Vietnam War. I, like most of our country, have had the privilege to live a life mostly sanitized from the realities of war.

So here I am, married to a man who enlisted, at the age of 27.  During a freakin' war. 

Life is funny sometimes.

When I think about the things that Adam and I really truly value in our life and in our marriage, one of them is just doing the things that we think are right for us, despite how that may look on the outside.  Sometimes that means bucking convention and having pie at our wedding, instead of traditional wedding cake.  Sometimes that means adopting your first child, despite never trying to have a baby "the old fashioned way." 

And sometimes that means enlisting in the military because you have this innate desire to serve your country that you've had for your entire life; and, you know what, it's just time to do it.  Because you want to be able to tell your kids that you served in the war, that you didn't shrink away from what you feel is your duty.  Not because of the paycheck or the acknowledgement.  But for something bigger than that.  For something that you cannot even articulate to other people. 

I had the privilege of hearing Joyce Meyer speak back in April.  And she said something about how sometimes God's movement in our lives isn't really about us.  Sometimes it's about God using our life choices to impact someone else's life.  I think about the ways that Adam's enlisting has changed the reach of my professional work. 

Last week, I got invited to speak in Chicago at a training about military culture.  I couldn't stop laughing long enough to tell Adam about it.  I just kept saying, "Can you believe that they would ask ME?"  I think about the amazing things that I've been able to be a part of with the Wounded Warrior Project.  What a complete honor to even be a part of this inspiring organization.

So, on this Memorial Day, I want to say THANK YOU to my husband, a true Patriot. 

For being adamant about what you needed to do. 

For loving our country, for being willing to serve. 

You are my hero.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Moses' Momma

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to head down to Louisville to see Joyce Meyer speak.  Her conferences are free.  Seating is first-come, first-served.  You never really know the topic, until you get there.  This conference happened to be on the topic of faith and fearWhoa.  Talk about awesome timing, huh? 

I could use a good reminder about faith with adoption, and I'm scared outta my wits with this deployment stuff. 

The whole conference was based on Matthew 11:22 (Amplified):
And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. 

So, Joyce Meyer in her very straight forward, Southern way, basically said, "You don't stop having faith because it gets hard.  You don't stop having faith because someone hurt your feelings.  You get to stop having faith when you see God deliver." 

It should be noted that (often) God does not deliver what we think He should.  (Because our little pea brains cannot even IMAGINE the awesomeness that God has planned for us!)

So then Joyce went on to talk about some people in the Bible with pretty amazing faith. 

She talked about Abraham in Genesis 12.  And God basically said to Abraham, "Pack up your stuff and leave your home."  And Abraham said, "Okay, God, sure.  Where do ya want me to go?"  And God said, "Start moving, and I'll tell you later."  And Abraham did it!

I've heard of this in the adoption world.  Families who are facing tough deadlines and restrictions, pack up everything, and head to Africa to pick up their babies, not knowing how things will work out or how long they will leave their home.  Amazing!

The reminder that sometimes God will do things to get us where He wants us/needs us to be.  And she talked about Moses.  And, you know, I knew the story of Moses.  ('Cause who doesn't love the little felt baby Moses in a basket that you get to play with in junior church?) 

But this story took on a totally different twist for this pre-adoptive momma. 

Basically, Moses had to grow up with another family in order to see some of the things that God needed him to. 

And that's when I started to cry.  Because, why should my kids be any different? 

I have GOT TO BELIEVE that the only reason God would allow a child to experience and endure the tragedies that necessitate adoption is because He has something BIGGER PLANNED FOR THEIR LIVES

And for ours

And, man, that's BIG.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We Have Amazing Friends

Sometimes I look around at my life and I wonder (outloud), "How did I get this lucky?"

Especially when it comes to our friends.

Boy, we got lucky in that department.

We were notified early in the month that we were "invited" to attend an informational debriefing about Adam's deployment.  Let me be clear that this is a 4-hour informational suckfest that includes slides on things like "Casualty Notification."  Barf.

I asked our friend Mindy to go, because I wasn't sure if Adam would be able to attend.  And, you know, I wanted someone else with me in the event that I ran, screaming from the room if the information got too heavy.  When I first asked her, she didn't even hesitate before she said yes.  Part of me wanted to be like, "Uhm...are you sure?  It's 4 hours.  Starts at 8AM...on a Saturday." 

And then, in true girl-friendship style she asked, "Do you want me to help take notes?  Or just be there to support you.  Because I can do either one." 

And it was fine.  Parts of the debriefing were hard to hear and took my breath away. 

But, you know what? 

I wasn't alone. 

'Cause we have awesome friends.

Life has been really busy lately.  Busy in a mostly good way, but crazy busy.

A few weeks ago, my best friend Jessica asked if I would be interested in going in on a garage sale with her.  And I really really wanted to.  Lord knows we have enough junk around here to get rid of! 

But I let her know that there was NO WAY IN HECK that I was gonna be able to commit time, effort, or energy into a garage sale at this point. 

She has some stuff left over from our wedding.  I told her to sell it, keep what money she made, and get rid of/throw away/keep/drag to Goodwill/burn whatever was left over.

She invited me to dinner last week.  I felt like such a jerk because I didn't have any time in MY LIFE to sit down and have dinner with her.  I invited her to join us for Adam's birthday celebration.  She said they would but that she wanted to spend time with me, just the two of us.

This girl really wanted to spend time with me.  So I scheduled her in on my calendar.  For 2 weeks later.  'Cause I suck as a friend.

Luckily, on Friday, I found a night where I wasn't working, and Adam was working late, so I asked Jessica if she would be able to meet me for dinner. 

Turns out, this best friend of mine had an alterior motive for wanting to meet up, just the two of us. 

The garage sale she had?  On a crappy, cold Saturday? 

All the proceeds went to benefit the Miller Adoption!!!!!

So she mostly just wanted it to be her and I when she handed me a Mother's Day card with money in it. 

So I didn't ruin Adam's birthday celebration by crying hysterically through it.

She knows me so well.

I am a mediocre friend

Sometimes I think I am a great friend.  Sometimes I'm a terrible, terrible friend.

I am inconsistent.

I am selfish.

I strive to be more like our friends.  'Cause, golly, we're lucky.

Friday, April 27, 2012

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

I already wrote about postive adoption language back in February. 

Now, as deployment gets closer, I feel like I need to write about Positive Deployment Language.  I just made that up.  I don't think it really exists.  But, golly, I wish it did.

I had an...interesting....conversation with a new person yesterday.  Her kids were acting up, and she said, "Do you have kids?" 

I should have just said, "No." 

But instead, I gave her the long answer...

No, we're going to adopt.  But we can't right now.  Because he's deploying for 12 months.  To Afghanistan.

That darn record scratch thing happened.  All the air sucked from the room.  Darn.

And she said, "Oh my do you do it?" 

I don't know.  I haven't done it yet.

"That must be...weird." 

Weird is an understatement, lady.

Then this really strange thing started to happen.  Her mouth was moving.  But I couldn't hear her words. 

I would like for people to ask questions.  Questions are fine.  I like questions.  But don't make comments based on assumptions that are probably not true or are misinformed.

So, I thought I would share this insightful post about things that are not helpful to say to military wives.  I've included my two cents, as well.

1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?" This one comes in at number one on the "duh" list for every military wife. Of course we're afraid. We're terrified. The thought always lingers in the backs of our minds -- but thanks, brilliant, you just brought it back to the front. Maybe next you can go ask someone with cancer if they're scared of dying.  No one has ever asked me that.  I did have someone tell me that Adam would get "blown up" and "come back fucked up."  People are scared.  I get it.  Me too.

2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."
This is intended to be a compliment, but it's just a little annoying. Here's why: It's not like all of us military wives have been dreaming since childhood of the day we'd get to be anxious single moms who carry cellphones with us to the bathroom and in the shower. We're not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable; we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So, we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.
  I hear this one a lot.  "I could never do it."  Well, you'd be shocked at what you can do when you're not really given a choice.  I didn't think I could "do" the 2-hour meeting where we think and plan for the reality of my husband dying.  And I did.

3. "At least he's not in Iraq."
This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? An international game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there.
  This is not the most annoying comment for me.  But I do hear a lot of things about how it will be a "safer" deployment, because "the war is over."  Yeah, sure.  (eye roll)
4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas / anniversary / birthday / birth of a child / wedding / family reunion, etc.?"
Don't you watch the news? No! They don't get to come home for any of these things. Please don't ask again.  I had someone ask me if he could come home when we adopted and if our apartment rent was free, because he was in the Army.  I wish.  We're having a hard time finding a military discount to buy a laptop!
5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?"
Short answer: try to keep my sanity. Maybe there's a military wife out there who gets bored when her husband leaves, but I have yet to meet her. For the rest of us, those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy. We do get lonely, but we don't get bored, and drinking massive amounts of wine always helps keep me busy.
  I work.  A lot.  I exercise.  I hang out with friends.  I certainly don't cook or clean.
6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?"
This one is annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren't counting down the days until they "can" get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq because there is work that needs to be done.
  Adam has less than 3 years on his contract.  And people try to count down to that.  But, honestly, we don't know if that's the end of his career or not.  If Adam did "get out," it would be a personal sacrifice for him on my behalf.

7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it."
Sure, we do learn coping skills, and it's true the more deployments you've gone through, the easier dealing with it becomes. And we figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. But it never gets "easy" and the bullets and bombs don't skip over our guys just because they've been there before. The worry never goes away.
  This is our first deployment.  I think everyone knows how wigged out I am.
8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through."
This one is similar to number two. Do not equate your husband's three-week trip to London/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a 12–15-month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an IED (improvised explosive device), your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, he flew comfortably on a commercial plane, slept between crisp white sheets and ate well, paying for everything with an expense account. There is no comparison. We do not feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for it. Comparing a 12-month combat deployment to a business trip is like comparing a Ford Taurus with a Mercedes convertible.
  This doesn't bother me so much, though I don't think anyone has said this sort of thing to me (probably for fear that I would punch them in the throat).  I dunno, to me, hard is hard.  I'm not out to win the "My life is harder than yours because my husband will be gone for a year" award.

9. "Wow, you must miss him."
This one also gets another big "duh". Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not, and they're now divorced.  Like I said before, Adam and I are an amazing team.  And when he's gone, I'm a really lousy team of one.
10. "Where is he exactly? Where is that?"
I don't expect non-military folks to be able to find Anbar Province on a map, but they should know by now that it's in Iraq. Likewise, know that Kabul and Kandahar are in Afghanistan. Know that Muqtada al Sadr is the insurgent leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and that Sadr City is his home area. Know that Iran is a major threat to our country and that it is located between Afghanistan and Iraq. Our country has been at war in Afghanistan for nine years and at war in Iraq for seven years. These basic facts are not secrets, they're on the news every night and in the papers every day -- and on maps everywhere.
  If you ask me this, I will say, "Afghanistan."  I know the city name that is closest to where he will be, but I'm not so hot with the geography myself, so I'm not going to drag you into it.
11. "Well, he signed up for it, so it's his own fault whatever happens over there."
Yes, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid, ignorant comments like that. He didn't sign up and ask to be hit by anything -- he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that "You're welcome." He's still fighting for your freedom.
  He did sign up for it.  And that was hard for me.  But, thankfully, we have a volunteer military.  Some sacrifice so that not everyone has to.  That's a big deal for me.  I could talk about this whole issue for a long time, as a military wife and as a therapist.  Maybe I'll elaborate on this later.

12. "Don't you miss sex? I couldn't do it!"
Hmmm. Seriously ... military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night. And the hard truth is, most relationships probably couldn't withstand 12 months of sex deprivation.
13. "Well, in my opinion ..."
Stop right there. I didn't ask for your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in the grocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a restaurant when I'm out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our butts off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are inviting them to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the president. Especially while we're trying to heat up our Lean Cuisine in the crappy office microwave.
  Yeah, you can keep your political feelings to yourself.  My husband is doing a job.  Just like your husband does a job.  If you have a problem with the wars, that is certainly your right (a right that you have because of people like my husband, but we can overlook that for the moment).  Take it up with your elected officials, who choose for us to go to be involved in war. 
Last but not least ...
14. "Oh, that's horrible ... I'm so sorry!"
He's doing his job and he's tough. Don't be sorry. Be appreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our military fights the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad and you stay safe.
  You know what I'd rather hear?  "Thank you."  "Tell him thank you."  "How can I help?"  "I will pray for you both."