Friday, January 28, 2011

Our Adoption Story

Our adoption story is not yet complete but it is already a beautiful story of God's blessing and provision in our lives and I am so excited to share it today. Originally, I was planning on sharing our story when it was complete but Kelly of Kelly's Korner is hosting a "Show Us Your Life Friday- Adoption Stories" today and I just couldn't resist... so here is our ever unfolding story...

Evan and I have always wanted and planned to adopt someday. We first discussed it when we were just dating and we agreed then that we would definitely grow our family through both biological and adopted children... someday.

Our master plan was to get married, let Evan finish law school and pass the bar exam and then become a two income family for a while. Then we would try to have biological children and I would become a stay at home mom and after a few biological children, THEN we planned to adopt... but GOD had different plans...

As you may know, we have been married a little under two years, Evan is still in law school (graduates in May) and I am still the primary source of income for our family... clearly we are still in the first few phases of our plan...

But then one day last Spring, we met a baby boy that would change our lives forever (and at the time we had NO idea.) He was in foster care and some close family friends were his foster parents. When we first met him, we thought he was precious but he wasn't available for adoption and we weren't looking to adopt... so we just "oooh"ed and "ahhh"ed over him and went along our merry way.

Towards the end of the summer, Evan and I went out to eat at a restaurant that we go to often. We arrived to find that my parents and some of their friends were already eating at this restaurant... and the foster parents were one of the couples... and they had the baby with them. They were eating and we hadn't gotten our food yet so we held the baby for them... and sometime during the evening, we learned that the baby had gone through a particularly heartbreaking summer and that he had received an injury that had threatened his life.

So we prayed for the baby and thought of him often... but we still were not considering adoption... and though he was in foster care, he was still not available for adoption.

And then GOD started doing something in my heart... He started suggesting that maybe this baby boy was supposed to be our son... Ever heard the saying, "If not now, when? If not you, who?"

I was confused because this wasn't how our plan was supposed to work, I didn't feel like we were really in a place to become parents and I knew everyone would think we were crazy if we decided to adopt while Evan was still in law school... and without ever trying to have a biological child.... and then there was that other little detail about this baby NOT being available for adoption...

But the thought wouldn't go away. I was having trouble sleeping because this child was weighing so heavily on my heart... so I asked GOD to please ease my mind and allow me to sleep and think of other things again if this baby boy was not meant to be mine...

But the thoughts didn't go away.... and then something weird happened... I got a new phone for my birthday... it was a Blackberry and the first phone that I had ever had with internet access. Evan set it up for me to have a facebook app and for all of my facebook notifications to show up on the home screen of my phone. The very first notification that I received on my new phone was a comment on a picture of me and this baby boy that simply said, "How Precious!"

Now let's back up for a moment... the day that we met the baby back in the spring, Evan and I took him on a walk around our neighborhood and we each took a picture with him because he was precious... and then I put those pictures on facebook (sometime WAY before September) because I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to put pictures of foster children on social networking sites... anyway, no one had commented on this picture for the entire summer so of course it was a major tug at my heart when I am in the middle with wrestling with GOD about adopting this little boy (who isn't available for adoption) and a picture of me holding him pops up on my new phone...

So, I decided it was time to talk to Evan. I told Evan what I had been going through, how I hadn't been sleeping and how I had been wrestling with this for weeks and of course I told him about the picture.... but I also told him not to freak out too much because it's hard to adopt a child that isn't available for adoption! haha

But Evan didn't freak out at all... he said we should start praying about it together... so we did. We prayed that GOD would provide clarity for us... and boy did He...

My birthday was on a Tuesday (in the month of September)... the weekend after my birthday, we spent a lot of time talking and praying about the possibility of adopting this little boy and what GOD had in store for us. In fact, on Sunday (we usually take a nap after church) we skipped the nap and prayed hard for clarity all afternoon until it was time to go to community group (small group Bible study through our church). After community group, we went to my parents' house to pick up our dog who had been playing with their dog for the evening because they had been at their community group too. As we were walking out the door, my mom (who I had NEVER mentioned any of this to) says, "Hey, guess what! "Baby" became available for adoption this week!" At that moment, I knew that GOD had answered our prayer for clarity in a "Clarity for Dummies" kind of way! (and what we didn't know at the time but we have learned since, was that the day he became available for adoption was... my birthday.) I basically ran out of their house and as soon as I got in the car, I began to bawl. Evan and I were overwhelmed with emotion... we were shocked, nervous, excited and who knows what else...

From that moment, we decided to wholeheartedly pursue this baby boy and that if GOD wanted us to be his parents, the doors would fly open and if for some reason He didn't want us to be this little boy's parents that the doors would slam shut. From that day to this, we have seen nothing but open doors. It hasn't been an easy process, adoption is a LOT of work and it is emotionally exhausting because it is full of uncertainty. But we know that GOD has called us here and we couldn't be more thankful and excited.

At this point, we have completed all classes, paperwork and both of our home studies and we are just waiting on the final approval and then we will begin working with a DHS adoption specialist to see if we are a match for the precious little boy that we pray will be our son someday soon.

We are so thankful to GOD for calling us to adoption because it is an amazing experience... one that has already changed our lives forever... no matter what happens in the next few months. One of my favorite parts of the whole experience has been seeing (through our own story and the many other stories that we have heard) how much GOD cares about each one of his creations, no matter how small or insignificant to the world. GOD has a plan for each little life, and nothing is able to stop GOD from carrying out his plans... not our age, or inexperience, or fear, or what other people think of us... GOD is bigger than anything that is holding us back from adoption.

I love how big my GOD is and I love that He holds the child that we love in His hands...

To Be Continued :)




Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Carnival Time!

My sister's 22nd birthday was last week and we had a carnival themed party for her. The main reason we chose this theme was because she has a huge love for cotton candy and funnel cakes and the second reason may shock you! haha At the age of 22, my sister is the world's youngest Elvis fan. She LOVES him and she has ever since she was a little girl. As a result of this love, she is always trying to get her friends and family to watch old Elvis movies with her. There is an Elvis movie called "Roustabout" that takes place at a carnival so we decided to surprise her and have a carnival themed party and eat her favorite carnival foods all while watching "Roustabout"! It turned out to be a lot of fun!





We had some really heavy foods at the party so we decided to make some of the treats miniature so we could still enjoy the taste of a carnival without feeling sick! haha Here are our precious mini cotton candy bags...

We also made mini carmel apples. We used crabapples and cocktail toothpicks to make them mini and them we dipped them in regular melted carmels. I LOVED these!

For dinner, we had corn dogs and onion rings with pink grapefruit sodas. We put it all in little baskets so we could eat while we watched the movie.

And her birthday cake was, of course, a funnel cake!

We found mixes for the corn dogs and funnel cakes but we made the onion rings from scratch! Here's the recipe we used (from a Southern Living cookbook):

Beer-Battered Onion Rings

3 large Vidalia onions
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups beer
1 large egg, lightly beaten
vegetable oil

Directions:
Peel onions; cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, and separate into rings. Place rings in a large bowl of ice water; let stand 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients, stir well. Add beer and egg, stirring until thoroughly blended and smooth. Chill batter for 15 minutes. Dip onion rings into batter, coating both sides well. Pour oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches in a dutch oven; heat to 375 degrees. Fry onion rings, a few at a time, 3 to 5 minutes or until golden on both sides. Drain well on paper towels, serve immediately.

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And for your viewing pleasure... the inspiration behind the party and the title of this post :)




Haha! Happy Friday, everyone!! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Minestrone Soup

We had soup for dinner last night... at the request of my sick husband. But this would also be a great recipe for those of you with snow on the ground! :) I served our soup with garlic cheese bread.... the frozen boxed kind! haha I actually have a secret love for that stuff because my mom never bought it when I was growing up but I would always have it at friends' houses and LOVE it. I mean, I know it comes out of a box (and it's not exactly healthy), Mom, but that stuff is good! haha

Anyway, here's the recipe! There is a lot of chopping to do but everything else is pretty simple... and healthy... to balance the bread from a box! :)

Minestrone Soup


Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
1 can white beans (I used cannellini beans)
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 parmesan rind
1 cup ditalini pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Saute garlic, carrot, onion, celery and cabbage in a pot with a little olive oil. Add beans, tomatoes, chicken broth and parmesan rind and simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta and simmer until tender. Add salt and pepper and serve.

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And Mom, if you're reading this, I know that you didn't buy boxed bread because you were always making something homemade that tasted WAY better and that you totally would have bought boxed bread if you had known that I liked it! haha


Anybody else have a secret guilty pleasure? :)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Well, I haven't blogged since November... so needless to say, I am overwhelmingly behind! I thought I would use today to catch you up on the last month and a half and I'll even throw a recipe in at the end... since this is a food blog after all! :)

Let's start with the biggest news in the Bell world... we are trying to adopt a little boy. I'll explain more as things develop... but here are the basics... In September, we felt God calling us to be parents to a certain little boy in foster care. We didn't know how it would work out but we decided to jump in and see what God had in store for our family. The last few months have been quite a roller coaster and we still have not come to the end of the ride. I plan on sharing our whole story at some point but for now, I just wanted you to know what's been keeping me so busy. :) Let me just say, we are SO excited about the future of our family and we would greatly appreciate your prayers during this time! And because I just can't resist, here's a picture of his sweet little hand helping Evan play the guitar...



In other news,

Here is our 2010 Christmas card picture :)


We had a wonderful Christmas... we spent Christmas Eve with Evan's family, Christmas morning with our own little family at home and Christmas afternoon with my family... two very special days in a row! :) This picture was taken at Evan's parents' house on Christmas Eve...


On New Year's Eve, we went to dinner and then went ice skating before heading back home to watch the ball drop! :)


We had a snow day :)



My mom and I threw a carnival themed birthday party for my sister (hopefully I'll have time to tell you more about this soon! :))


We attended the 1st birthday party of a VERY special little boy... one that I can't show you pictures of... but I can show you what we gave him! It moos :)


My beautiful friend, Alyse Eady, was first runner up in the Miss America pageant on ABC on Saturday night. And her talent video is becoming quite the You Tube sensation!! If you haven't seen it yet, check it out!!


And finally, Evan is starting his 6th and FINAL semester of law school today (!!!!!!!!!!) and here's what we had for dinner last night (I was inspired by a "what's for dinner" tweet by Southern Living)...



Wow. I hope that wasn't an information overload! ha! Hopefully now I'll be able to just blog without feeling so behind. Happy Tuesday, Everyone!