i promise you it's a lie

Africa.  The thought of this place gets people every time.  Maybe they picture orphans or kids who are so skinny you can almost literally see their ribs poking through their weak skin.  Maybe they picture people carrying water on their heads or dirt with those famous trees everyone sees on the postcards.  Or maybe they just picture a broken place that needs love and the Lord more than anything else.

But there's one thing I know for sure.  Most people picture Africa as somewhere they never want to go.  It's not on their agenda, it's not on their Bucket List or somewhere they'd ever even consider going to.

Why?  Well people, I'm here to tell you why that is.  Are you ready?

Because it's uncomfortable.

Yes, I said that it's because it's uncomfortable.  We live in America, who on earth would choose to be uncomfortable.  Well let me be really honest with you.

It's good to be uncomfortable sometimes.

To get yourself out of your comfort zone, go sleep in some 8x8 rooms where chickens are killed outside the broken window at 3am, oh, and don't forget that you probably won't be taking the hottest showers or, for that matter, even getting a shower.

Some people would rather just give their money or send something in a box to Africa because it's "easier".  Because you don't have to fly for 30 hours over to sleep on hard beds and not get a shower for a week.  You can keep sleeping in your comfy bed in your heated/air-conditioned home and drink the water that comes straight from your sink and still help the people in Africa.  But what's that doing to help/change/alter you...?  Nothing.

The uncomfortable part of the thought of Africa is a lie.  It's an excuse.  It's ridiculous.

It's not sleeping on hard beds listening to chickens being killed or not having a shower for a whole week.  It's not being uncomfortable.  It's the transformation of your heart.  It's the life-changing part of Africa that should get people every time.  I promise you it will be the most uncomfortable experience of your life.  In almost every way shape and form, you will be uncomfortable.  But the way those kids smile and the way they hold your hand... it's irreplaceable   They'd ask me to take a picture of them with their students, and when I showed them the photo their face would turn into the biggest smile I've ever seen.  Just because they've never seen themselves on a photograph before in their life... and that's irreplaceable   It's more than sending a check every month.  It's more than a prayer every night.  It's getting your hands dirty.  It's trusting God and what He's doing in your heart and in the heart of the people of Africa.  So..... the thought of Africa should not be uncomfortable.  It should not be somewhere no one wants to go because of that.  It should be looked at as broken.  You just have to remember that only you can put it back together.




"O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear." Psalm 10:17

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do what you love



In my bedroom, I have a frame that I put "do what you love what you do" inside and it hangs there for me to see every time I walk in.  It's just a reminder for me.

Doing what you love is important for your life because you only have one.

I only get one life on this earth.  I don't want to live it doing what's "practical" or what will get me the most money or the most success.  I should be spending my life doing what I absolutely love to do.  My worst fear in life is to get stuck doing something I absolutely hate and that I'll feel guilty ditching it because I spent a boatload of money on college for it and now I absolutely hate it.  My worst fear ever.

It bugs me that these days that's what everyone wants.  All they want is to be successful and get more money, not chase their dreams and follow what God put on their heart.  It's like they make themselves believe that they want to do that certain thing because of the success/money/whatever, but it's not always a genuine love and heart for it.

I never want to look back on my life and regret the decisions I made.  I never want to feel like I made the wrong career choice.  I never want to feel like I did it for reasons other than that it's my heart or something I love to do.  I always want to remember that I should be doing what I love, not what's "practical".

(P.S. I'm back up.  Kind of.  Change your links to www.emmact.blogspot.com if possible.  I'm still ironing all the kinks out in the meantime.  So ridiculous)









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happy birfday wogey

You know in that Blimeycow video they did about homeschoolers and they said, "MY SIBLINGS ARE MY BEST FRIENDS THEY ARE ALL I NEED"?  Yeah.  It's kinda true.

Today's my teeny tiny 14-year-old brother's birthday.  14?!  I remember when we were babies.

Happy birthday to the most hilarious, fun, entertaining, coolest kid ever.  Nobody knows me better than him.  Nobody makes me laugh more than him.

Now's the time I dump 20 of my favorite photos of us together.  Sorryinadvance.











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fun times with blogger

I woke up this morning to big issues with my blog links.   I let my custom domain expire and now it's having serious issues.  For some reason when my domain expired it took away my blogspot.com url too.  So weird.

Anyways, you're only able to read this if you're my follower.  My new link is www.emmaclaireblogs.com (which won't actually work for 24 hours), I have no idea where my blogspot.com link went, so get rid of that one.  thanks for bearing with me yall.  this is not cool.   I'm so over blogger right now.


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pure joy // six months old

Everything about him is such pure joy. 








(yes, this is him spitting at me)

He's learning new things everyday, almost sitting up, learning how to crawl, eating real food and getting so much cuter (which I didn't even know was possible).  He looks too mature for my taste some days, but his laugh gets me every time.  I just love him.  That's all there is to it. 

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i miss this


Ready to be back where I left my heart.

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gratitude

Tonight I rocked my 6-month-old Treybe back to sleep.

I fingered his kinky curls and tried not to laugh at his crazy snores.  I remembered my night exactly 6 months ago.

I did the same thing, that night.   I fingered his (less) kinky curls and listened to his teeny newborn snores.  He held my finger and I stood in that room full of people before I had to go.  I loved him more than words could express.

I left, keeping that little memory in my head.  I drove home with my dad and three brothers in silence because we all knew what was coming.  I was scared.  I was excited.  I was nervous.  I went to bed that night unsure of what would happen the next morning or the next or the one after that one.  The thought of living without him scared me more than words can describe.

I don't honestly know why God gives and why God takes away.  But what I do know is that He knows what He's doing when He does it.  So when I left that night, although scared out of my mind, I was content.

Well, he came home a day later.  He was temporarily made ours the day after that.  And then, after some of the scariest months of my life, he was made ours forever.  And I don't honestly know why God was so good to us.

I don't honestly know why God gave my family such a perfect, precious and beautiful in every way gift through the miracle of adoption 6 short months ago.  I've always felt like we didn't deserve him because of how much joy he's brought to my home.

But what I do know is that He planned it for a reason.  He created adoption for a reason.  And when He created it, He created it the most beautiful thing in the world.  He really did.  He brought Trey Malachi home for a reason.  And there are not enough words to describe how much that means to me.


Happy 6 months, my Treybe.  I love you more than words could ever describe.  You've changed my life in more ways than I could ever count.  

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I value life

I'm not one to get myself into political disputes.  I'm not my Speech and Debate friends who research everything and know everything about anything political ever.  I wish I did, but I don't, so I don't go off on anything political because to be honest I'm not the brightest ever in that area.  But I do know one thing.

I value life.

I value life because I believe life begins at conception.  I value life because I believe God is the ultimate Creator of life.  I value life because it is a special chance given to us by only God that we get.  I value life because I believe every person is born with a right to life, given to us by God, which cannot and should not be taken away from us from anyone but God.  I value life because I trust God and believe that the creation of life is not unplanned or out of His control.

Now if we were to address this in politics......... ummmmmmm.

I'm sorry.  But if we're talking about abortion here and we're talking about the actual murder of children... which, mind you all, is the number one cause of death in the US today... where exactly are we on the whole value of life thing?

I don't even know if this is a reliable website...... but I just had to stare at this tonight.  One x stands for 25,000 babies.  25,000 babies who might be on this earth today.

And look... it's not about Romney... or Obama... or anyone in particular, but... if I was voting this year... I would absolutely 100% vote for the candidate that has respect for human life.  There is absolutely no reason that babies should be killed because of the mother's choices.  None whatsoever.  And no, it is not a "women's rights" issue, it is a human rights issue.  The right to life we are all born with.  Sooooo crazy.


Abolish Human Abortion.


"It is a poverty that a "child must die", So that you may live as you wish... - Mother Teresa 



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my treybe

video

Everyday I realize I love him a little bit more.  Oh my goodness.

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i have a dream

I have a dream.



I've had this dream for quite some time, if I'm going to be honest here.

It's not to become a doctor or to be a fashion designer or to be a lawyer or a photographer.  Heck, I just decided that I want to go to college.  Even that has never been a for sure in my life.

I've always known that I wanted to do something that I absolutely love when I "grow up".  I don't want to waste all this money going to college pursuing a career I would be forced to do because of all the money I spent pursuing it.  With the world pressuring me lately, it's really been on my mind lately.  What the heck I do want to do with my life.  

A lovely teacher I had over the summer said to ask yourself these three questions when pondering what to do with your life: "What do you love to do?   What do other people tell you you're good at?  Would it glorify God?"  I wrote it down and thought about those three questions for a long time.

Photography kept coming back into my mind.  I love it.  People say I'm good at it.  Does it glorify God...?  Not sure.  Plus, I'm not exactly sure if that's my biggest passion in life.  It's definitely a big passion, but it's not on top.  (Now don't get me wrong.  There are not enough words to explain how much I love photography.  I will always take photographs.  Always.  I've just realized it's not what I'm going to pursue professionally in the future ;)) I've always said I wanted to impact that world.  I couldn't figure out how to use photography to impact the world, and thinking about my future, I can't see myself being just a photographer for the rest of my life.  I just couldn't figure it out.

But here's what I realized.

Somewhere between when God sent me to Africa and when we had foster kids I realized what I was made for.  I realized what was really laid on my heart to do.  Here's the bottom line: I have a heart for orphans and no matter where I go in life it will always be tugging at my heart.  Always.  I can count on that.

So I pondered that for quite some time.  Still am, and I probably still will for the next threeish years.  I asked myself the three questions.  What do I love?  Orphans & Adoption.  What do other people tell me I have a heart for?  Orphans & Adoption.  Would it glorify God?  Heck yes.

So, during the last few months that I've really been pondering this, I realized.

I have a dream.

I have a dream to watch and help babies and kids come home forever through the wonderful gift of adoption.  I have a dream to love orphans the way God loves us.  I have a dream to be used in whatever way possible all in order to advocate and love on orphans.  I have a dream to pursue this heart God gave me for orphans for adoption for the rest of my life.

So we'll see.  I have absolutely no idea what this means for my life, but I feel that I've finally figured all this out.  Kind of.  So stay tuned, you never know where this crazy roller coaster called life will take me in the next 3 years.

All I know is.... I have never been so completely excited for my future in my whole life.

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instagram lately

because everyone needs whoppers to write a paper.  

literally the best shoes on the planet + the best jeans ever

i love these arizona skies

"aaaaabababababa" ohhh i love him

five dozen eggs.  we're insane over here.  #bigfamilyproblems

my view of the back of my house as i did algebra homework on the grass + the very song that's been stuck inside my head for the past few days :)

i love this girl!  it was her birthday.  and i love her with all my heart.

i spent 9:59pm in silence a few nights ago.  it was lovely.

crazy things happen to my hair after 9pm.  crazy.

late night tea spent alone.  

more tea + a break outside from writing papers all day.

my view from the passenger's seat whilst waiting for mum to come back from the store.  that light.

more lovely beautiful perfect light.  i did school outside this day <3 p="p">
pumpkin scones with glaze.  yummmmmayy.

butternut squash soup.  so um if you've never had this you're out of your mind. 

another 9:59pm spent in silence + my view down the dark hallway.

my crazy beautiful bb

when your plug breaks... you do what you gotta do.

baby... you're really cute, but you need to go to sleeeeep.

new skinnies = lovelove

Obsessed, as always. 

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jamaican mon

In regards to his heritage... in terms of birth parents.... he's sooooooooooo African.  You put him in any sort of swaghat.... ohhhhhhhhh my goodness.  It changes him.




Absolutely love that I have a brother with Jamaican and Congolese backgrounds.  It will be so cool to watch him grow up knowing about his heritage.  I can't wait to watch him grow up. 

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180 movie



I've never talked about this video before... but it's soooooooooo worth your time.  I know I say that a lot, but this one is totally something every person needs to see.  A little graphic... but a great way to spend 33 minutes.

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gotcha

It's been a full month and a few days since Trey's gotcha day.  AKA the day we had a court hearing and he became ours forever.

It was much more than just a court hearing, though.  And most people don't realize it unless they've sat through their brother or sister or child's adoption court hearing either.

It was surreal.

We'll put it that way.

Completely and 100% surreal.  Like a dream.  It was unreal.

Standing before a judge... with a lawyer... and then there's the people we chose to be part of this special day... and my brothers and parents... all sitting before a judge... just to make Trey ours forever.  There has never been anything more special and beautiful for us as a family.

And really, it's not just a court hearing.  It's not just a time for the judge to say yes and issue a new birth certificate   It's not just a legal procedure.  It's so much more than that.

It's forever.  It's eternal.  It's not just a court hearing.  It's not just a day to make it all legal.  It's God saying I've brought this child to you and I will give him to you forever from this day forward.  And I love that picture.

People always talk about the money issue in adoption... or the space issue in their house or car... or the risks involved with the birth parents or the child... or the big fat risk that for a few months of that child's life you are not legally their parents and he could be taken from you forever.  But none of that ever really matters.  God will work out the money issue... and the space issue... and the risks... all to bring your baby home forever.  And that's what I love so much about the day it all becomes final.  Everything God's ever done to resolve the money issue or give you more space or iron out all the risks during those few months before this day are all remembered.  It's just a day to celebrate and say I gotcha forever.

"There is nothing that mirrors the gospel here on earth better than adoption."

I am soooooo in love with adoption and the blessing it continues to be in my life.  It is overwhelming.  He moved mountains for this adoption and there is no denying that.  







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I think everyone should go and read This post. 

The topic she talks about... it's something most believers don't get.  If you're a Believer in Christ today, go read that post.

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one of those nights

Tonight was one of those nights.

You know... the kind where it's raining and the windows are open and the rest of your family goes to bed so you make hot tea and eat chocolate covered pretzels and talk to your dear friends over Skype for the next hour.  And then they leave and go to bed and you're stuck there with your half a cup of hot tea, still steaming, and those three chocolate covered pretzels.  And you sit there wondering what to do next, since you're stuck with a lot more tea and good chocolate left and it's not time to sleep yet.  So what'd I do?  I thought.

Surprise surprise.

I thought about how lovely it was to get to know Trey's birthmother on such a personal level and how so many people can't say they've done that.  Those months with her impacted me in ways no one will ever understand.

I thought about how lovely it is to be blessed to get such an amazing education with such amazing teachers.  I turned in a paper this afternoon, which was part of the reason I was "celebrating" with staying up and drinking tea and listening to the rain.  This paper, though, made me really think.  It wasn't really that hard of a paper, it was just one of those things that made me think of how lovely it is that I'm blessed to get this education.  I get to read tons amazing and thought provoking of books and discuss them with a Christian worldview... and it's been so lovely.  It's impacted me in so many ways.

I thought about how lovely it is that we have the freedom to choose in this country.  We can worship God in this country because of our freedom.  How crazyblessed are we?!

I thought about the way God brought my family together and the way He continues to be faithful in my family after all this.  Overwhelming.

I thought about how much in love with this blog that I am.  I love the motivation it brings and the inspiration and the new ideas.  And I love.... with my whole heart... the way it's changed me.

I thought about the rain and how much of a lovely and beautiful thing it is.  I come from a state that hardly gets rain ever.  It's such a lovely feeling when you can smell it and hear it.  I can't wait to fall asleep to it tonight.  For the second time this year ;)

I thought about the friends I have.  They are so lovely.  I cannot imagine any part of my life without any one of them.  It would break my heart if I had to be without them.

I thought about my Treybah and how much of a complete blessing he is.  Every time I look at him I'm reminded of every day I waited to see this face.  His fake laugh?  Be still my heart.  I cannot imagine my life without him or without adoption or without babies at all.  They bring so much joy to a person's heart.

Oh, I thought about you.  Everyone one of you out there reading this.  I may not who some of you are, and most I probably don't.  I love you all so much.  You've help me find what my dreams are and figure out who I really am.

Well.  It's 10:40 now and I'm going to finish off the rest of this now cold tea, check Instagram and go to bed so my brain can function properly tomorrow for that Marine Biology and Algebra II test.

I love you all dearly.


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SOMETIMES REAL LIFE HAPPENS


And when it happens, it really happens.

I feel like such a horrible sister.  The vacuum was on, I had three boys yelling at me telling me to pick up Trey because he was screaming, and when I turned around and saw this?  I had to document it.  I am soooooo horrible, I already know.  But I love him I love him I love him.


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jemima

Today is my dear dear dear close friends' birthday.

You have no idea how much this girl means to me.

This is Jemima Bakytgul.

(jemima's photo :))

She's super sweet... laughs at almost everything... is the best at baking EVER... she's motivated, she has the best taste in fashion ever, she's super funky and doesn't care what other people think about her... she's smart, super creative...so needs to be a model... or a fashion designer on PR.... and one of my favorite people to stay up late with talking to.

Ohhhh my goodness.  She is the very best.  

But, a few years ago she moved away.  She moved 350 miles away from the state she called home for most of her life.  It was hard for me, for a while.  I was sad and angry and confused all at the same time.  But then I realized.  This had to happen.  I've written a lot about them since they've left, and oh my goodness, where God has put them is soooo where they need to be.

But today... today is my dear Jemima's fifteenth birthday.  And I just need to say this.

Jemima, happy birthday.  I love the way we laugh when we're together and the way we plan our weddings at 2am in the dark until we laugh until we cry into our pillows.  I love how creative you are and how far you've come with happy flower designs and your blog.  I love the way you slam your hands on the table when it's really hilarious (or maybe just all the time) and I so miss those days in co-op.  Reading the Hunger Games Trilogy was the absolute best but it was way better because I got to read it at the same time (and freak out about every little thing) with you... even if it was over a text.  I love the way you make me laugh and understand me all the time.  Girl, you get me ;) And I love you for all that.  You mean the world to me.  I love you to the moon and back... I miss you times a trillion and five... and please come see me :)

xo



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thoughts from a nigahiga youtube video (yes, it's true)

I'm gonna go all regular teenager here for just a second.

Watch this.

K, I'm done being a regular teenager.

Well... that was basically the most hilarious thing ever.  Mostly because it's so true.

Soooo true... am I right?  We don't even know what's going on in third world countries.... but we make our teeny tiny little first world problems seem so big.

We (even I!  I'll admit that.) always say how we're sooooo starving or soooo thirsty that we're gonna die if we don't eat anything.  The funny thing... we don't even know what true starvation or true thirst is.  But we still say it anyways.  Maybe because everyone else says it.  Maybe because you're just really hungry and that's what we say in America when we're really hungry.  Or maybe... maybe we say it because to us, that's what true starvation feels like.  What we feel when we haven't eaten in two hours is true starvation to a lot of Americans.

When I was younger and running errands with my mom and brothers, we'd always say how hungry we were when we were in and out of the car and stores for three hours.  But, I always remember how my mom used to say that it wasn't necessary for us to eat anything while we were in that car for three hours.  We weren't starved.  We weren't going to die.  We ate before and we were going to eat when we got home.  We were probably "starved" in our own minds, but really, we just hadn't eaten since lunch.  After all... we don't even know what true starvation feels like... unless you've truly been malnourished.

The kids in Africa... they got one meal a day from the school they went to.  The other two were supposedly provided by their parents.  When they were sent home after the schoolday, there wasn't a guarantee that they were going to be eating when they got home.  As I said earlier... I'm pretty sure we'll all live if we haven't eaten in two hours.  As Americans, we're demand-eaters.  We see something that looks good, we eat it.  Hungry or not.  We feel hungry, we go eat.  It's just the way we live and there is nothing wrong with that.  But what I love about this video is that he (in a sort of mocking way) was just showing the world that these "First World Problems" you have aren't really true problems.  And I love that picture.    


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selfless

His birthmother..... she gave us such a gift when she made the choice to give Trey this life.  There are not enough words to explain that.

And that's exactly what it was... a choice.  A choice so selfless that we will never be able to repay.  She gave us another life in our family.  She gave up a piece of her for her son and his life.  And there are not enough words in the world to express our gratitude.

Blessed.  Adoption is so beautiful.




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