The World Is A Mess & Jesus Still Reigns

Breaking News:  I got in my first ever “Facebook fight” yesterday.  I hear and see these things all the time and mostly laugh and then bam! there I was right in the middle of one before my blood pressure could even regulate.  My friend Ashley text me later and began to ask me what had happened and why had I not text her?  She’s usually my voice of reason in these matters and talks me off a ledge real quick before I jump, but things went rogue before I even realized.  Truthfully though, I’m pretty okay with airing my grievances and typing the words I did.  Our world is a mess and it has proven so sad yet again this week.  Thought I would share my post that got a dude so fired up and raising his dukes rather than extending a hand.

“I am insanely saddened by how our black & brown brothers and sisters are being treated, oppressed, looked down on and so on and so on. It never ends and as a white privileged woman I cannot even come close to fathoming how they feel. I am just so sorry. So so sorry. When will we learn our first response to someone else’s sadness…someone else’s mistreatment…someone else’s loss…should be love, compassion and choosing to stand with them instead of excuses, statements beginning with “but…” and pointing fingers. Jesus, teach us to truly love like you do.”

Encouraging people to love.  Encouraging people to extend compassion.  Encouraging empathy among humans.  Encouraging us to look to Jesus instead of anywhere else.  It is a sad day you guys when our world is so at odds.  I have walked away from conversation after conversation after conversation lately just heart-wrecked and so so sad.  When will really look to Jesus for how to handle one another.  I am a big sinner, flawed to the core.  I’m a mess.  I’m no example, but what I am is someone who pushes Jesus.  When I hear and read things which make me physically sick and just long so hard for Jesus all I can do is seek His truth.  And how do we seek His truth?  We can take our thoughts and ideas and beliefs and go straight to the Bible.  Let’s start lining all our ideas up next to Jesus’ and if they match we know we are pursing truth.  If they don’t, well then we’ve got some work to do.  Will you seek justice, mercy and truth with me?  Will you join me in going straight to the source and really taking a good, long hard look at the life Jesus actually lived on this Earth.  Ahhhhhhhh, it’s hard you guys because I have been faced over and over again with my backwards, prideful ways, but this is the work that needs to be done if we really long for change.

Again I have been reading and inquiring and talking and seeking because if we really want to try and understand the best we can then we have to be willing to learn.  To reach out and ask those crazy hard questions and to listen.  Listening is so key.

This article was just so good.  Please read.

“I am a pastor. I will not condemn grief. But I was trained as a lifeguard, and I learned a long time ago that when people are drowning, their instincts can kill them and anyone who tries to help them. If a lifeguard can get to a drowning person, the first thing the lifeguard says is, “Stop struggling. Let me hold you up in this water, and we can get to the shore together.”

This Tulsa teacher shared what happened in their school after Mr. Crutcher was shot and killed.  It made my physically ache for Solomon, Amon and our littlest.  Too much and yet a very necessary read.  You can read it HERE.

I’ve shared this before, but I will share it again because it nails it.

Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”

Even though Jesus loves everyone, even to the point of dying for their sins, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice.

So saying “Black Lives Matter” and participating in a movement seeking justice, positive reform, and empowerment is one of the most Christ-like things we can do.

-Stephen Mattson

This post by Judy Wu Dominick is crazy good.  When will compassion reign and finger pointing end.  She has several posts that are just so on point.

I have a combination of friends and family who are recovering addicts, have committed felony acts of violence and done jail time, have had abortions, have been homeless, or have sold illegal drugs. But those things don’t define who they are or diminish their humanity. Those things are just a specific part of their broader stories, which bear the ugly marks of how the world maimed them, as well as the beautiful marks of divine grace and presence. These people are not just casual acquaintances. They have sat at our table and eaten with us. Some have even lived with us and babysat our child. I couldn’t bear it if any of them, whom I dearly love, were killed, even by a police officer, and then strangers with absolutely nothing invested then tried to justify their untimely deaths, to posthumously trample on their imago dei while their blood still stained the ground. I couldn’t bear it.

I ask the same question as civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson: “Why do we want to kill all the broken people? What is wrong with us that we think a thing like that can be right?”

Let’s all fight the good fight.  Let’s all start looking straight to Jesus as our example on how to love and how to love well.  This world is just a mess and can easily make me weep into my pillow at 1am, but Jesus is real, alive and on His thrown.  And He has commissioned us each to love Him and love one another.  Let’s do that and let’s do that well in the face of fear.

And onto lighter things because I have to :)

So this is it.  This is the last day to place an order for the awesome Sasquatch Design Society tees for our adoption.  Marcie, Nick and Meagan have been so generous and gracious and kind in offering these on behalf of our family and we are just so so grateful.  Let’s discuss how everyone you know needs a panda shirt in their lives.  It’s true.  I mean, it’s a panda.  Panda’s are pretty much the most chill animal of all time and so freakin’ adorable.  And we would be so honored if you would help us spread the word.  This is the last day to order so get yours asap.  Head over to our store right this second.

Also Sunday is our big Noonday party.  I was talking out loud to myself this morning because this is what I do when driving alone in the mornings and I am just so excited to have our house filled with women on Sunday.  You guys work hard and I think it’s fair to say most of us are just flat out exhausted so please come and absolutely do not feel obligated to buy anything.  Just come and eat and laugh and sit and chat and just hang with other women who are taking a little bit of time together.  If you can’t make the party and do want to make a purchase we’ve got the answer.  Head over to our online show and place your order.  Super easy and our family still gets 20% of your purchase.

Next week is our big Nothing Bundt Cake week.  I will remind you approximately 113 times next week that you should go buy some cake at the Hendersonville Nothing Bundt Cake store and our family will receive 10% of your purchase for our adoption expenses.  We would be incredibly grateful if you would eat cake on behalf of us next week.  Like every single day.  Cake for everyone.  Cake all around.  Full on cheat week.  I just know it’s going to be great.

Nothing like a serious post that ends with pandas, jewelry and cake.  Let’s love each other well.  Here’s to a weekend full of hope.

Happy Friday.

7 Things

My blog layout is being wacky today so sorry for all the close together, no spacing-ness.
#1  This is a big #1 and not like a big, long pee #1, but a so so awesome #1…we got videos of our boy yesterday from our agency and I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t play it cool for not one stinkin’ second before sobbing into a heap at our house.  And then sending them to Josh Kelley.  And then onto my BIL & SIL who speak Chinese to ask them to translate PLEASE!!!!  And then I watched them over and over and over again.  It’s the best/worst feeling.  Oh little man you are crazy loved.
#2  Today is Amon’s 4 year heart anniversary.  I know it sounds kinda of dumb to think about his surgery day, but this surgery saved his little life.  And he had such a hard recovery, so each year I mark the calendar because I always want to remember God’s goodness and mercy and faithfulness in his life and our family.  I want to remember those hard days and how near Jesus is.  And today I feel humbled and honored to get the chance to mother another little heart warrior.  Ahhhhh, just makes me feel all the feels.
#3  There are only 3 days left to order the crazy cool tees Sasquatch Design Society designed and are printing for our adoption.  This is such a great way to partner with us.  You get a cool tee and we get funds for our adoption.  Head over TO MY SHOP and make your purchase.  And share with your friends and family and strangers…anyone who will lend an ear :)
#4  Sunday is our big Noonday Collection show for our adoption.  I would love to see your face and hug your neck.  All are welcome.  If you cannot make the party you can still join us by placing an order in our ONLINE SHOW.  Just CLICK HERE and check it out.  Also I’ve been busy making my food game plan.  So far THESETHESE and THESE definitely made the cut.
#5  I hope everyone else’s kids wear safety head gear while playing in the sprinkler.
#6  Tomorrow is Josh Kelley’s 34th birthday.  Dates are so few and far between these days, but today we did snag lunch together to celebrate.  Marriage is hard you guys.  We can fight with the best of them and duke it out hard.  We’re just two flawed humans raising a bunch of other tiny flawed humans and singing Jesus to take the wheel. (insert Carrie Underwood who is way to pretty to be human.)  All the work though is definitely worth it when getting to do life with Josh Kelley is in the mix.  He makes life fun, humble and filled with his quiet, witty sense of humor.  I really like being his wife.
 
And #7  I’m not a giant reader, but when I do and it’s an amazing book I like to pass it along. Falling Free by Shannan Martin is insane you guys.  Like so so freakin good I can barely handle it.  I have underlined almost full pages.  It’s truth.  It’s conviction.  It’s personal and also were-all-in-this-together.  It’s funny as all get out.  It’s goodness everyone needs to read.  I seriously couldn’t recommend it enough.  Get this book asap.
Happy Wednesday!
*amazon affiliate link

Up To

Hey guys!  How was your weekend?  Ours was super chill with baseball and soccer both rained out.  I actually got tons of stuff done around the house and with work.  It feels really nice to move into this week more prepared than normal.  Mondays are usually all about catch up for me, but not today!  I’m feeling all kinds of ahead of the game.

Josh Kelley and I have been taking mandarin lessons.  Shocker Alert:  Neither Josh or myself can speak Chinese yet.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Why are second languages so hard for old brains?!?!?!  We do both feel confident in the program we’re using it’s just going to take consistency and practice.  Wish us luck.

 I finished up some canvas orders this weekend.  These are 8x10s and 8x8s heading out to some great customers.

I made our first purchase for our new little guy.  I stumbled upon this panda and really could there be a more perfect panda for our little heart warrior?!?!  I think not.  I also cried while strolling down the Christmas stocking aisle thinking about how he’s going to need a stocking and wondering if he will really be home for Christmas this year.  I keep reminding myself so many things could go awry with so many different groups of people handling paperwork and in the same breath I’m reminding myself we serve a God who does audaciously wondrous things.  So anxious and expectant of what God has in store.  Would you please keep praying with us?!?

Our littles love love love the Halloween section at Target.  I could not stop laughing.

Tennessee skies at it again.  Kroger never disappoints for good sky pictures and cheap flowers to fill pickle jars.  I love surprising unsuspecting pickle jar flower recipients.

And this is the last week to pre-order the awesome tees Sasquatch Design Society designed and are printing for our adoption fund.  I will probably remind you every single dang day this week…I apologize in advance.  Come on though, you know you want a tee or 2 or 3 or 10.  Let’s think about every kid in your life and your Grandma and Uncle Bud and Cousin Venny an Aunt Sue.  Everyone needs a panda tee.  It’s a must.  Head over to MY SHOP and order HERE.  And help us spread the word.

Alright peace out you guys and Happy Monday!

See you tomorrow.

Fundraising Update

First off, thank you thank you thank you for all the love, kindness, thoughtfulness, prayers and generosity you guys have poured out onto our family.  It has just been amazing.

Second, Happy Friday!  I’m so glad it’s here and I bet some of you are too.  We’ve got a full day around the Kelley house, but wanted to stop in and fill you in on some of our fundraising efforts.  We are well on our way all thanks to the generosity and willingness of you guys.  Here’s what we have still going on:

1.  Panda Tees are still on pre-sale.  We are taking orders for one more week and then those awesomely kind Sasquatch Design Society peeps will start printing and then we’ll start shipping.  I’m excited!  If you’d like to place your order just head over to MY SHOP and do so.  Yesterday was 100 days until Christmas.  Josh Kelley keeps bringing his Christmas love up in conversation…I’m all “It’s still 88 degrees outside man.”  He’s a lost cause.  Anyways, word on the street is panda tees make the perfect Christmas gift for the loved ones in your life.  Insert wink face emoji.

2.  Have you marked your calendar for our Noonday party yet?!?!?!  Sunday, September 25th from 2-4 at our house.  Food, drinks, laughter, my awkward bear hugs and gorgeous Noonday.  I would love to fill our house to the brim with ladies…new friends and old.  Come one, come all.  And let’s think Christmas again.  20% of purchases go directly to our adoption fund.  This just about kills me flat out dead because Rebecca is insanely kind you guys.

And if you can’t make the party, no worries.  You can order online HERE at our show and still partner with us in helping fund our adoption plus still partner with other women and families around the world.  It’s a win/win/win.  Just make sure Rebecca Daniels is listed as your ambassador and Laura Kelley as your hostess at checkout.

3.  Our Nothing Bundt Cake week is fast approaching.  Are those calendars marked…again?!?!  Hahaha.  September 26th – October 1 is a cheat week for everyone per my permission :)  10% of all sales at the Nothing Bundt Cake store in Hendersonville, Tn will go directly to help fund our adoption.  Have you noticed a kindness theme in our fundraising efforts yet?!?!  We know some crazy kind people.  So let’s all think and eat cake for 6 days straight.  Best.Week.Ever.

4.  I am still booking Bible journaling classes.  You get your group together and I’ll come to you.  All money, for the current time being, will go towards our adoption fund.  Email me or contact me HERE if you would like to line up a date.  And you can always take my online class by signing up HERE and move through the class videos at your own leisurely pace.

5.  I am still taking orders and working as quickly as I can on all customs.  Lots of name pillows and art in the works and in the mail :)  I love my job and I love that this order money is going to such a special place.  If you’d like to place an order just email or message me HERE.

6.  We received an awesome grant for our adoption already so all the praise hands for that.  Some of you have sent me other grants to apply for and we are just so thankful for all those recommendations.  I have my list going and we are applying away.  If you have some grant info up your sleeve you’d like to share with us we would totally welcome it.

And 7.  Our GoFundMe is still up and running.  It always feels a bit weird sharing this one, but our adoption agency partners with GoFundMe so we have an account set up so why not :)

 

Please feel free to share any or all of these links.  You can take to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snappity Chat :) whatever suits your fancy and share away.  We would just be so over the moon thankful.

Thank you guys again so much.  I know those words will never quite do the trick, but seriously, we are  just beyond grateful!

Happy Friday.

“I just want her to stay.”

Life currently feels like a muddled roller coaster ride.  There are ups and down and turns. Moments when you feel like throwing up, moments of terror, moments of thrill and moments when you wish the ride would stop and you could make a quick exit.  Honestly, we have not been the world’s best foster parents lately.  The last few months have been crazy hard.  When people ask how it’s going I have trained myself to say the same thing each time, “The goal is still reunification and everyone’s on the same team.”  And that’s the truth…on the surface, but honestly I have had moments these last few months where I’ve whispered to myself or Josh, “I just want her to stay.”

Our littlest is a firecracker if there ever was one.  She is joy and sadness.  She is resilient and broken.  She is a 2-year-old handling all these far too big emotions for a 2-year-old to handle.  She’s confused and grieving.  She throws massive fits and brings me face-to-face with Jesus and the ugly part of myself every single day.  Going most places is just hard and the stares from strangers make me want to run and hide…or hurl curse words their way.  But this little miss is fierce, strong and so brave.  And we are madly in love with her.  Truthfully, I’d love for her to call me momma for the rest of my life.

I openly admit I have not got this life all together.  You guys, I’m a disaster.  I make so many mistakes every day…over and over and over again.  I get so frustrated and angry and down.  Our kids are turning into our best accountability partners.  The other day during our littlest’s 92nd meltdown of the day I said flippantly “I am so tired of this.  She’s just mad at the world.”  To which Hudson said so gently, “Mom, do you think she just misses her parents?”  Gut Punch.  Yes, Hudson, you are correct.  This is the back and forth I do day in and day out.  I am overcome with compassion and love because we are all the same…sinners in need of grace, love and redemption by the one and only true God who can dole it out.  None of us more deserving than the other.  Everyone in the same boat.  And in the same breath I am annoyed and put out and done, wanting to extend zero grace.  I need Jesus and forgiveness every dang day.

Here’s what I’ve done:  The last few months when things got busy and life got loud those whispers of “I just want her to stay” clouded my judgment and compassion and empathy.  It made it easier to send fewer texts and to extend fewer invites to the park or lunch.  I chose selfishness instead of love.  I chose my wants and desires over choosing what was right.  God has shown up right in my face these past few weeks to remind me of our purpose in this life…our purpose in this journey that is just a vapor…to love Him and to love others all for His glory.  As we sang in church Sunday night “This is real love” I peered over at our littlest nestled in her momma’s arms and knew God had gotten my attention yet again.  He narrowed us in.  Reigned in our hearts and started helping us kick our selfish motives to the curb.  He nudged us in the direction of fighting the good fight yet again.

I watched our littlest pulling on her clothes the other day all adorable in her big girl panties because she is legit potty trained now.  I thought how her momma had missed out on all these days…over 20 months to be exact.  Immediately I started to cry because I feel her loss as I am currently missing out on each day that passes while our little boy waits in China.  Some nights I am absolutely ravished by the time we have missed together and just sob.  It takes my breath away in the worst kind of way.  This is new for us in adoption…Solomon and Amon were both babies…our little guy is 3.  More than 3 years we’ve missed.  I wonder how God will gap the time…how God will fill the spaces…how God will mend and renew and bond us tight.  I know God is using this to remind me of the loss our littlest’s momma feels.  To draw yet another parallel between the two of us because there are so many.  We both need God to do what only He can.  We need Him to dump buckets of grace over our heads and scoop us up in His loving and gracious arms yet again.   I need her and she needs me.  We need each other.

We’re not perfect.  I’ll never tell you we are.  I hope I’m always screaming God’s redemptive ways from the roof tops.  I hope I always choose truth even when it’s crazy hard.  I hope I’m always rolling around in His grace like a kid making snow angels.  I hope He’s always reminding me of His purpose and how giant His love is and how giant He expects my love to be for Him and others.  I hope He never stops pursuing my messed up self and allowing me to see myself in those around me.

B.U.S.Y

Well it’s Tuesday!  Can we just go back to the weekend?!?!?!  Weekends are my jam lately because I pretty much hate the kids’ homework…I might revolt :)  and our weekly schedules are a bit whacky right now.  Also I’m playing major foster care paperwork and training catch up.  We went so hard, so fast and we’re so time consumed with our adoption paperwork/homestudies/dossier I completely set aside our foster care paperwork and training.  Ahhhhhh!  Not our best, most responsible move.  Yikes.  So now we’re feeling it, but everyone will survive and in the end no one will perish and the world will still spin.  I keep needing that perspective reminder.

Some of my favorite things as of late:

Tennessee skies have been killing it always.  Our Kroger parking lot is the perfect place to snag a sky pic.

Josh Kelley coaches a Full Count high school fall league team each year and it’s one of our favorites.  The kids and I head out after Harper’s soccer game each Saturday to cheer the guys on.  When high school boys talk to my boys and give them fist bumps and high fives and kid around with them it MAKES THEIR DAY…and mine too!!!  And gas station icees and bags of chips are usually in the mix.

I went into our bedroom and almost tripped over this:

It’s so rare to find him sleeping in random places anymore I just wanted to bottle him up.  Made my Sunday!

Books, books and more books.  We try to go to the library once a week plus our library has an amazing app so we have been quite the readers lately.  It will get really quiet in our house all of a sudden and I immediately think someone has killed someone or someone or some group of children are doing things they should not be, BUT sometimes I look around and notice they are just reading.  And I smile giant!

I love our community.  I love our school and library.  Harper and I are already planning on walking to middle school each day next year since it’s just a few blocks away.

Sidenote:  SHE WILL BE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL NEXT YEAR!!!!  Excuse me while I die.  End sidenote.

Every September we have such a fun arts festival for the community.  It’s free, a blast and it’s on our street so we just walk down, enjoy and walk back home.  Win,win.  It was a perfect part of our Saturday.

Our littlest became quite smitten with a shipping box last week.  It was hilarious.  While one of our social workers was visiting she got in it and had Amon try and close the box up.  I had to disclose that this was new and that we do not put her in boxes :)  We laughed.  Plus, she’s going to be an ewok for Halloween so she’s been wearing her costume like crazy.  What’s better than a small cutie in a box…an ewok in a box.

 Amon and Solomon are playing fall ball this year.  Amon had a game last night and I teared up sooooo many times it was ridiculous.  He was just so happy and so thrilled to be playing and I kept thinking about his little warrior heart and our next little heart warrior.  And it was just too much for this momma in the best way.  I was feeling all the gratitude last night for our little wild tribe.

God keeps meeting me right where I need to be met in His word.  I’ve had some trouble sleeping thanks to bad teeth and a heart overcome with our next son.  God keeps reminding me He is with both of us despite the two of us not being together.  One day my eyes will meet our son’s face in person and I will be physically close to him.  Right now I’m having to trust that the Lord is with him even when I cannot be.

And Noonday Collection always!!!  Still have my gift card.  Still salivating over the Marais Bag for fall.  Don’t forget we’ve got an adoption Noonday party coming up Sunday, September 25th from 2-4 at our house.  There will be snacks and food and laughter.  All our welcome.  Bring a friend or 2 or 3 or a whole car full.  The more the merrier is my motto.

Rebecca will be here with all her samples and sharing all all about Noonday.  PLUS on top of making your purchases count toward bigger and global things…like partnering with women and families around the world…20% of sales will go directly towards our adoption fees.  Woo-freakin-hoo!!!

If you can’t make the party, no worries.  You can still partner with us and make your purchases count by heading over HERE and placing your order in our online show.  You can order now and items will be shipped to you.  Just be sure in the right sidebar at check out that Rebecca Daniels is listed as your ambassador and Laura Kelley as your hostess.  And please feel free to spread the word and share our show link.

Hope your week is off to a fantastic start.  See you tomorrow!

Happy Tuesday.

Panda Tee Fundraiser

Here’s what I know…God is good and He uses His people…and we know some crazy kind people.  Like crazy crazy kind.  I have been spinning all the ways people are helping and offering to help and all the different ways we have to raise money to help fund this adoption in such a short time through my head.  And it makes me cry…not out of fear or anxiousness, but out of gratitude and humbleness.  I seriously cannot get over it.

We now have an on going list on our chalkboard to help keep everything straight…our gofundme, my shop, Bible journaling class schedule, our Noonday party date, grants received, donations, Nothing Bundt Cake week dates, stationary launch and now we’re adding the sweetest panda tees to the list.  We just know some good people who are doing really loving and kind things on behalf of our boy and our family and again I’m left with feeling like thank you just isn’t quite enough.

Marcie, Nick and Meagan of Sasquatch Design Society are at it again.  They took on the huge task of our Ngungwane tees and are now offering up their business, skillz, time and expertise yet again, but this time on behalf of our family.  They designed and are printing the sweetest tees in all the land just for us.  A lovely little panda with Romans 12:9-12:

“Love from the center of who you are.  Be cheerfully expectant.  Don’t quit in hard times; Pray all the harder.”

YES!!!!  Let me cry a little more.

Here’s how this will go down:

We are doing a PRE-ORDER for tees for 2 weeks.  Head over to MY SHOP for more details and to place your order.  We’ve got youth and adult sizes.  Think Christmas party people.  I’ll be tracking orders for 2 weeks and then printing and shipping will begin.  **Please note these tees will not ship right away like the key fobs sets have been.**  I have been a shipping machine getting key fobs out ASAP, but the tees will be different since we are doing a preorder as to not over print and then have a ton of tees just sitting around.  Thank you in advance for your patience!

Even if you are not interested in a tee, but come on they’re freakin’ adorable :) you can always help us just by spreading the word.  Take to the internet and your social media…email, text, blog, tweet, instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc and share MY SHOP LINK www.pitterpatterart.bigcartel.com  This would be a massive help to us.

The Sasquatch team are yet again offering up their services with the most gracious and generous love and our family is beyond grateful.  God just continues to blow us away time after time after time. Now let’s all order panda tees :)

Happiest of Fridays indeed.

Death & Cake

Let’s just all pause for a moment and sit in awe of my title creativity for this post before moving on.  Be amazed.

I specifically remember the day some dear friends of ours dad died.  I remember itty bitty Harper, Hudson and Solomon and how we stopped right there on the sidewalk outside of TJ Maxx and Joanns to pray.  At that point I had never been drastically affected by death.  I had lost some loved ones, but I had never fully felt the sting of death before.  I remember driving with my friend Jess over to see Courtney and I felt something so different in this tragedy.  I told Jess as we drove, “This needs to be different.  We need to handle this so differently than anything before.”  My mom died just 3 months later and I instantly knew God had been preparing my heart.  He’d been working on me for a loss I never saw coming.

Death, grief and loss have drastically changed me and I now stand in a place where I can see the good.  Where I can see God’s goodness along the entire rocky, rough path.  I can see His light and love.  I can see His mercy and grace.  I can see what a mess and disaster I was and how He ever so slowly nudged, moved and carried me from point A to point B to point C and so on.  I can see it now, but I couldn’t always.  It was a massive process.  Definitely in the top 3 hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  There was no rule book.  There never is.  It’s such a personal unique process.

When someone in our lives loses someone now I instantly am taken right back to those dark, hard days.  I can immediately think about all those wild, surreal moments like the first time I realized everyone was going to leave after the funeral and go back to their lives.  It made me physically sick and I begged people to stay and not to leave like a 3-year-old.  The first time I saw her body and how I touched her and laid on her chest and applied lipstick because it just wasn’t bright enough for the Sandra Hall I knew.  The first time I had to go into Mom’s house alone.  The first time I did something weird like call her cell phone and leave a sobbing message begging her to come back.  The first time I felt the hot anger race through my body on her behalf.  The first time I literally just wanted to punch someone for giving me yet another book on death.  The first time I realized it had been an entire year since her death and I still didn’t feel better…I was pissed I hadn’t progressed more than I had.

Death and loss made me do things I normally wouldn’t do.  They made me feel isolated and weird.  I was someone I had never been before and it was incredibly hard to figure out.  I was angry.  I’m still carrying around a cussing habit from those days.  I blame you Mom :)  I ate my emotions.  I was sad and the world certainly owed me something because of my pain and the loss I suffered.  I was not fun to be around.  I didn’t like many people.  And I felt like I was never going to escape the madness, but then one day I woke up and without fully recognizing it I was a little better.  And ever so slowly and gently God set to work healing, renewing and restoring me.  He’d been working all along.

Here’s what I actually love about losing Mom, I now understand loss from my own personal journey and can let someone else who has suffered a loss know they are not alone.  We don’t have to have all the answers.  We don’t have to say something wise or life altering.  My go to line when someone loses a loved one “THIS SUCKS AND IM SORRY!!!!!!” because it just does.

Many people around us have suffered loss including our friends Ashley and Jeremy.  A while back Ashley sat in our living room for hours.  We cried.  She talked.  I listened and told her stories from my grief.  Grief can make you do, say and think weird, crazy things.  It just changes you. People need to know they are not solo and there is certainly nothing wrong with them.  I remember being so dangerously sad and on top of that feeling so crazy weird, but Courtney was always there to say, “Yep. Me too.”  It’s nice to know you’re not the only one who has laid face down on your mother’s grave while sobbing over rice krispy treats.  You’re already so sad, so being sad, lonely and weird is the freakin’ pits.  If all I ever do is tell other people who have suffered loss all my crazy, weird, raging and “not-moments-I’m-proud-of” stories just so they know they are not alone in this mess, then so be it.  There is always beauty in the ashes and knowing how to extend a hand to someone who feels like they are drowning because you’ve felt a similar pain is one of them.

 Some of you are all “what about the cake?”  So death gives you a weird bond to people as well.  You’re now in this club you didn’t ask to join, but we rally around each other and care for each other.  That brings me to the cake…death talk and cake…my kind of post.

Ashley’s Mom after losing her husband eventually was just tired of being sad and wanted to add joy back into the world through the most heavenly bakery called Nothing Bundt Cakes.  If you didn’t pick up on it, it’s an entire bakery devoted to bundt cakes and they are insane!!!!!  I’m pretty picky when it comes to my baked goods so you know I wouldn’t steer you wrong…these little cakes are incredible you guys.  My SIL Jen brought over 4 for one of our game nights and I literally almost died.  I don’t even like desserts with fruit in them and I salivated over the white chocolate raspberry.  We were suppose to “share” the cakes with everyone and I might have eaten almost the entire strawberry cream cheese one BY MYSELF.  I kept talking about it all night.

Soooooooo, once we announced our adoption for our sweet little guy Ashely sent me the sweetest text that made me sob.  Like sob sob.  I told her I really wanted to take a selfie of what a mess I was because it was that legit, but I refrained.  Anyways, Ashley talked with her mom and she decided to give 10% of an entire week at her store to our adoption fund.  AN ENTIRE FLIPPIN WEEK.  I told Ashley it was like our perfect fundraiser.  CAKE!  Match made in heaven.

This couldn’t get much easier on our part.  Here’s how it works:

1.  Mark your calendar for September 26th – October 1.

2.  Go to the Nothing Bundt Cake store in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

3.  Buy cake.  You don’t even have to eat said cake…you could give it to me and I will eat it for you.

4.  Our family get’s 10% of your purchase to help fund our adoption.

That’s it.  The end.  You don’t even have to mention our name or anything.  It’s crazy kind and sweet and I literally just want to kiss Ms. Pam and Ashley’s faces off.

I still get teary when I think about this because Ms. Pam is sharing with us what she has and loves and does every day.  It’s thoughtful, kind, loving, crazy generous and it blows us away.  So mark your calendars for September 26th – October 1 and let’s all eat the crap out of some cake for an entire week!!!

Happy Wednesday!

**all photos are straight from the inter webs via the google**