Posts filed under ‘Memoir’


undone by Jim Branch

years and years of hard work
diligently putting it all together
piece by piece
thinking all is well
progress is being made

but then you
come and scramble the whole picture
leaving pieces scattered everywhere

you smile lovingly
as I sit in the middle of the mess
knowing that I don’t know
knowing that I’m undone
and thinking to yourself
now that’s progress

An Undone Christmas

I noticed a Facebook friend or two asked if it was too early to take down the tree last night. I publicly didn’t chime in and answer with a resounding “NO WAY!” But I certainly wanted to. Because if truth be told, I was wondering the same thing myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I had a very lovely Christmas. I was with much of my family. I ate enough food to last me the rest of the week. And I received very generous gifts.

But something this Christmas felt off. It’s the first year that an active toddler consumed much of my energy and focus. It’s the first year I had the stresses of a business on my shoulders. And it’s the first year that I tried to make it “feel” like Christmas weeks earlier – only to find myself unsuccessful. It seemed to sneak up on me again. Wrapping gifts last-minute and running late seemed to be pattern. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel like I could “get it together” this Christmas.

As I sat down to reflect this morning, my devotional led me to Jim Branch’s “Undone.” And I began to see my experience this Christmas in a new light. Maybe… just maybe … my feelings of being spread out, disorganized and nearly unraveled … were just what I needed. Maybe there was purpose to them after all. My picture-perfect holiday schedule, sparkly-clean home and organized to-do list needed to go. This Christmas, God wanted me to find the meaning of Christmas in a new way. Maybe he wanted me undone.

December 26, 2012 at 9:18 am 1 comment

Losing Lindley

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson


Lindley Ren

It’s been said that a dog is man’s best friend. Unyielding allegiance. Faithful support. So many canine qualities indeed make dogs a great companion. But for me six years ago when we brought Lindley home, she was so much more than a friend. As an infertile woman who wasn’t ready for the adoption process yet, my dog became my baby. And that’s why it was so hard to tell her goodbye today.

An unfortunate series of events led to her escaping the backyard yesterday within an hour and a half of me being gone. We came home to find Joey, our lab mix, alone in the yard. After about 20 minutes of yelling and hunting for her, Animal Control pulled up and let us know that they’d taken Lindley to the animal hospital. She was hit by a car. Quick visits and a review of initial x-rays last night had me hopeful my strong-willed dog would pull through. But today upon further review of more x-rays and her four pelvic fractures, we knew we had to let go.

I didn’t have a dog as a child so after Mike & I moved in to the Corner of Monroe, adding to our family was first on the agenda. We brought Joey home one month after we moved in and soon adopted Lindley three months later. The two dogs instantly became as close as sisters, some even asked us if they were born in the same liter due to their tendencies to cuddle and stay within a foot of each other at all times. I laugh at myself who sat on the floor the day we brought Lindley home, worried that we had made a mistake. “I’m not sure I can love another dog as much as I love Joey,” I told Mike. My how Lindley proved me wrong.


Lindley was named after Dawson’s Creek – Michelle Williams’ character, Jen Lindley.

Within a matter of weeks, Lindley had become my dog. Over the years she protected me from guests she wasn’t quite sure about (sorry again about her snapping at you, John & Matt Hayes.) She was always at my feet when it was time to relax and she kept me warm in the winter as our old house let in cold drafts. She’d find a way to sneak into Mike’s spot in the bed early in the morning once he left. She somehow figured out how to lay just like him so that I had no clue it was her.

Lindley let me dress her up and take pictures of her. She caught a mouse. And a rabbit. She was always up for trying something new. She instinctively knew that Kelley was pregnant. And while Joey hesitated to welcome Mae into our home, Lindley was the first to get in her face (and sometimes her bath) and enjoy her newest sister. She even let Mae ride her like a horse and climb on top of her just a few days ago.

The loss of our dog today leaves a deep hole in my heart and a pain I’ve never experienced. I know dogs are dogs but I know even more today that dogs are family. And even beyond that – dogs are worshippers. The only thing that keeps me going to make sense of Lindley’s “all too soon” passing is that her time was up. She’d served the purpose God had for her and He was ready to bring her home. I’m certain that are dogs in heaven. She was just too great of a dog to not be there right now.


They say dogs don’t really smile or hug – but I like to think they do.

Scripture says let everything that has breath praise the Lord. And although she didn’t have a soul, Lindley praised the Lord and pointed me to Christ more than I realized. As I pet her head today and told her goodbye, I realized how great of a gift from God she has been. She filled a longing to love and nurture before a “real” baby arrived. She was a buddy who sat next to me while recovering from surgeries, wanting nothing but to show me love and support. And she protected me the way the Lord intends to do so – she wouldn’t let anyone she wasn’t sure about come near me. While it took a few minutes for her to warm up sometimes, once she trusted you, she was yours for life. As I always used to say, Lindley was the lover. This dog showed me God’s love in many, many ways.

I will miss my dog… my baby… but I am glad she’s not in pain. I wish our time together would have been longer but I’m thankful for the six years we did have. I couldn’t wish for a better pet to get me introduced to the dog world. Although I might have to throw on another blanket this winter if the cold winds come, I will take it as a reminder to remember Lindley and be thankful for the blessing it was to give her a home.

December 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm 7 comments

January 31 – Mae Day | Mae’s Adotion Journey

The big day had finally arrived. I hadn’t had a stomach full of butterflies like this since my wedding day. Except a white dress and borrowed veil weren’t part of today’s show. Today was something special all in itself.

For three weeks, time had flown. We’d gone from thinking we might be parents within the year just 30 days before to waking up and preparing ourselves to be in family court, adopting a 4-month-old baby girl in just a few hours. “The Lord works in mysterious ways” didn’t even begin to cover it.

Once the day for court arrived, time couldn’t have gone any slower. Our court date was scheduled for the afternoon so we tried to stay busy with cleaning the house and watching TV. Weather warnings continued to flash; ice and snow were about to hit. We prayed that everyone would make it to court on time and safely. Luckily, the courts stayed open and cancelled only their evening cases.

Adoption Court

After a long morning of lounging, we finally got dressed and headed downtown. Not knowing if we needed to dress formally or casually we decided to look nice to hopefully make a good impression with the judge. We left the house very early, not wanting to get lost or held up in the process. Once we located the right building, we got coffee. Two swirled hearts in our cups by the barista sealed the deal. This was a day of love.

Once inside the court building we filed through the security checks and made our way to the large waiting room that sat outside of several doors leading to small courtrooms holding family court cases. It was nothing like we’d seen on TV. It wasn’t fancy or fun, just stale white walls and old ticking clocks. And lots of chairs and people sitting around.

Over the next hour, everyone managed to arrive on time and things went just as planned. We all had separate meetings with the judge and were pleased when our time went very quickly. We even had the baby in the courtroom with us. She sat perfectly in her car seat, charming the entire room. We were granted temporary custody and were instructed to return in six months to make the adoption final. Anything the judge or our lawyer said after that was history. She was all ours.

Announcing “It’s Final!”

We snapped a few pictures and carefully made our way back to the car, trying not to slip on the slick sidewalks. A slow, careful drive home gave me plenty of time to text our friends and family that “Mae Brooke Burgess” was on her way home. Finally we shared the name we’d chosen for her. Finally she could come home. It was time to celebrate.

Even with the bad weather, all of the grandparents were ready to come see the baby. We had an hour together as a family of three. Mike and I showed her around the house, introduced her to the dogs and spent time in her room. Once everyone arrived, a night full of snuggling and pictures followed. Everyone was full of love for our new addition.

When Mae began to get tired, the grandparents headed home. It was just the three of us once again. We took Mae up to her room and changed her into her PJs, starting her first bedtime routine. Because we wanted her to feel as comfortable as possible, we laid her in her pack-in-play bed from Uncle Nick’s house. Daddy snapped a picture. I leaned down and gave her a kiss. And with that, we said goodnight to our daughter for the first time.

Read Last Year’s “Mae Day” post.

A Year Later….

Thank you to everyone who’s been following Mae’s Adoption Journey over the past month. What a joy it’s been to re-live the story of one of the biggest miracles in our life. I still shake my head that we became parents in three weeks.

This year has been the highlight of our lives. Mae is a beautiful, charming little girl who has a charisma to her that I stand in awe of each day. She’s naturally joyful, smiling all the time, and brings a smile to my face just about every minute of each day.

I didn’t know what the future had for me eleven years ago when I found out I couldn’t have my own children due to my colon cancer. And while the road to get to this place certainly wasn’t easy or “speed-bump” free, I do praise the Lord for the grace He’s given us, and for bringing this angel into our world.

My prayer is that our story shows hope that the Lord’s plans are good (and they often look differently than our own.) He can bring hope to ANY situation. If you trust in Him and follow His leading, He will have amazing plans headed your way. You too will have your own personal “Mae Day.”

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7

January 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm 3 comments

January 30 – Adoption-Eve | Mae’s Adoption Journey

Well, the big day was almost here. Threats of “snow-mageddon” flooded the news stations as a large snow and ice storm was about to hit Kansas City. We worried about the courts being cancelled with the bad weather forecasts coming in. We didn’t just have ourselves to worry about – we had to pray that our lawyer, our birth mom, her lawyer, Uncle Nick and the baby, our social worker from the agency and both Mike & I would all arrive safely to the courthouse. The thought of something not working out was overwhelming. So we did everything we could to take our minds off of it.

The Sunday Before…

Luckily, the day before our court date happened to be a Sunday. Sundays were very busy for us since I worked at the church and we led a group at our house on Sunday evenings. Plus, on this Sunday we also had a baby shower to attend. Our friends, Scott & Patti, who had been the ones to text us about this baby girl, were also in the adoption process with a little boy from Russia. They were awaiting a court date any minute and so friends threw them a shower to help them prepare. It was a great time of celebration. While at the shower, we noticed we were among several other adoptive families. And the reality that we were soon “joining the club” finally hit.


There’s nothing quite like going to bed the for last time as a non-parent. Excited anxieties raced through my mind. I wanted to get a deep sleep – who knew the last time I’d get to sleep through the night? I tried to gently slip into slumber but thoughts that a little baby would be sleeping in a room next to us in just one night kept me awake. I couldn’t believe it was real. I was nervous yet so excited. Just weeks earlier I had gone to bed, praying for God’s will to be done in our adoption process. I’d never realized how quickly we’d see His plan in action.

January 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm Leave a comment

January 29 – “We’re Not Parents Yet” Weekend | Mae’s Adoption Journey

After a week of watching a baby, I was utterly exhausted. It wasn’t even as much of the physical demands as it was the change of pace. I was used to typing and writing – not reading board books, changing diapers, swaddling, swaying and all of the other stuff that comes with caring for an infant. But while my pace of life had been jolted all week, I certainly wasn’t complaining.

As the weekend came, we made plans to stay busy. Although I was so tired, we had to keep going to keep our mind off of things. Just three weeks ago a simple text changed our lives. Events hadn’t slowed down with anticipation of a birth mom meeting, decisions and waiting for a court date. Once that date was scheduled though, we experienced the longest week of our lives. Luckily, we could visit the baby as much as we wanted. My mom and friend Amy even snuck over to see her while we waited. But then it came again: a long weekend. So, we did what anyone would do who was about to become parents in two days:  we ran ourselves ragged and hardly went home.

“We’re Not Parents Yet” Weekend

The weekend before our court date was one of the fastest, craziest weekends we’d ever had. We’ve always been social, but this weekend we turned it up a notch. Bowling with friends, Maverick’s hockey game, shopping, going out to eat – our Friday and Saturday was absolutely packed. But at least it helped the time go quickly.

Just a week earlier we had toasted to the thought that we’d be having our “Last Meal as Non-Parents,” yet that timeline soon changed when our court date was scheduled for a week later. So, we took the opportunity to get with as many friends as we could and do everything “fun” before a child entered our world. Because although we knew life would still go on even with a baby, we had no idea what was about to hit…

January 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

January 27 – Show and Tell | Mae’s Adoption Journey

I had been “babysitting” my future kid for several days. I’d been very used to being on-the-go all the time and working 40 hours/week away from the home. So, to have a week where I had “baby duty” each morning at 8am until the evening was a pretty big adjustment for me. Granted, I knew I needed to adjust quickly since that would be my everyday gig in just a few days, but it took baby steps to ease into it.

I tried to follow the rules and stay at Uncle Nick’s house each day. We were instructed to not have the baby come to our house before the court date. But on the third day or so, I started to get a little restless. And while I didn’t break the rules, let’s just say we took a little field trip.

Baby Show & Tell

My bud Leah didn’t live too far from Uncle Nick and so I texted her to see if she was home. I wanted to get out of the house, yet not take her to my house, so I compromised. Plus, she’d been having a rough week so I knew this would cheer her up. I finally got ahold of her and made sure it was OK if I stopped by for a second. She didn’t know that I’d have her with me that morning. Needless to say, her face was priceless when she saw me toting an infant carrier inside her house.

We hung out and she kept saying how beautiful and perfect our baby girl looked. I had also texted my friend and our pastor Orion to see if he was out and about. He made sure to find a way to come to Leah’s house when he realized I was out with the baby. So after a few minutes he showed up and met her too.

We didn’t stay long, but it was so fun to get out of the house and introduce her to a few special friends. Only a few more days and she was all ours…

January 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

January 25 – Babysitting My Future Kid | Mae’s Adoption Journey

There’s nothing quite like babysitting your future kid. Because Uncle Nick had to work and my job was flexible (and I’d already planned to be off the week with the unknown court date), I camped out as his house and took care of our baby girl until our court date. It was the perfect chance for me to “ease” into the mom thing since I’d never really cared for a baby before. I got to learn her schedule and her cries. I figured out how to measure formula and make a bottle. I conquered diaper changing. I read books. I practiced swaddling.

What was best of all was that she got to know me, too. So by the end of the day on Tuesday, we were buddies and she was smiling big.

January 25, 2012 at 10:17 am 3 comments

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