Thursday, January 9, 2014

Contentment amidst the chaos

Roaring fire. Coffee. Napping toddler right upstairs. Sweet sleeping baby right next to me. Husband at home. Pretty perfect moment.

All moments are not like this. That's what makes this so special. Last night as we were on our way to church I just took a deep breath and thought "Whew..that was a crazy 20 minutes." My next thought was, "No way I would want to go back to constant calm where we had all the time in the world to worry about just ourselves."

I love this crazy life!!!

As many people know we became an instant family of 4 the day after Christmas. We have been in the process of adopting internationally for 20 months now. It's a roller coaster of peace, frustration, impatience, trusting God's timing, and all under the theme of "waiting". We have been so anxious for our family to grow at so many points in this journey. We've dreamed of hopping on a plane to meet our children and imagined brining them into our house and letting the beautiful chaos ensue as we look at each other and say "They're finally home." Those are still our thoughts and dreams. We are still pursuing international adoption. However, amidst the waiting and the trusting, God sent us a sweet little blessing wrapped in a blue blanket with our adoption agency's name on it.

We didn't jump on a plane to bring Wyatt home. We drove a few hours and went to Target just before meeting him. The journey to Wyatt was 9 days. From one e-mail where we learned about him to the day we brought him home. We had about 36 hours of notice when we found out he was coming home! We got the "Yes" e-mail just after Santa Claus jumped back up our chimney.

God does amazing things.

I was all ready to make some awesome New Year's resolutions and run a really fast half marathon in April and read like 100 books, learn a language…who knows. Today my goals were to empty the dishwasher, wash some bottles, do laundry and drink a lot of coffee. And I couldn't feel better about what I am doing. We watch a lot of movies in this house right now, we eat a lot cereal, but my  husband bakes things like cheddar bacon scones sometimes and he's a serious diaper changer.

I'm now typing and holding a baby. My better half is making cookies. The other night our power went out while Ryan was on a formula run and I was giving two little boys a bath. We clean our house and then it explodes at least 6 times a day. We've moved to being a "pot of coffee a day" family--Keurig just couldn't keep up.

We don't have a glamorous life. We don't go to fancy restaurants. We don't have cable. We barely have the Internet. But, we have an exciting life and we know God has many adventures awaiting us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hysmith Update

Aaaaaannnnnddddd…..We're back!

Life has been crazy, busy, wonderful lately and at this moment I drinking my afternoon coffee and it is quiet. Like all the way quiet. Only the click of this keyboard and the sound of light rain on the metal roof. It smells like fresh baked sourdough rolls in the kitchen and my husband has the whole week off for Thanksgiving. Right now I'm operating at about 110%. I am truly thankful for this moment on this Monday.

This moment however is just a tiny snippet of the way things in our life though. Since we moved here in April we have accomplished a lot.

Such as..

  • Building a house and barn, moving in, unpacking, hanging approximately 7 things on the walls, and making this place HOME
  • Starting a new job (Ryan) and almost making it through the first semester already!! Being a teacher is fun because you get to divide each year up into semesters and look forward to long breaks
  • Becoming potty trained (Brody-hopefully that was obvious). I'd like to thank the Elmo Potty Book for potty training my child. After a few days of reading it 30 times a day, Brody requested big boy undies and has basically been potty trained ever since. 
  • Breaking a finger. (Ryan) Intramural football, watch out for guys wearing shorts with pockets. 
  • Read a million books (Abby). I love being able to text Ryan and say-can you go get me X book from the library today..and my library gals always have great suggestions for me too, and let me be the first to read new books. :) 
  • Trained (almost) for our next half marathon-St. Jude Memphis in less than 2 weeks!
  • Sped up their running considerably (Abby). Running with Ryan and Papa (Ryan's dad, Brody's Papa, my fabulous father-in-law) can make a girl much faster, as nice as it is for them to run circles around me, I prefer not to be such a wimp
  • Run 3 5k races and gotten some medals and personal records! (All of us)
  • Planted a garden. We planted the garden and built a fence early this summer and we were able to harvest a few things but we have a great plan for next year…which may work better since we actually live here this time. 
  • Become obsessed with things like beekeeping (Ryan)
  • Become obsessed with keeping mice out of our home (Abby)
  • Hosted 20 people in our home
  • Hung out with some really sweet college kids
  • Made a lot of great new friends
  • Have lived with very limited internet capabilities since August
  • Have no cable, no Netflix, no Hulu, just an antenna that miraculously gets us the Titans games and a free movie library at Freed Hardeman. Henderson also still has a movie rental store that we frequent.
  • Built some fires in our wood burning fireplace
  • Cooked some great food and some edible food
  • Watched deer running in our field
  • Gone on runs around our property
  • And just generally, we have enjoyed life! 
We love our home and feel so blessed to have been able to build it while we are young and can grow our family in this house. Speaking of growing a is an update on our adoption…

Moving to Henderson did not really delay our adoption process in any way because when we decided to move we still had not received a referral of children. If we had gotten our referrals while we were still in our rental house we probably would have just had to do a home study update for that home and a home study update for the house we were building once we moved in and just hope that it all worked out time wise. When we moved into the house we built they came and looked at our house so they could update our home study and we changed our address on our immigration approval. 

So here we are, all ready to be a mommy and daddy again to some sweet little babies. Our house was built, our paperwork was ready and we are just waiting for a call….Well we got a call but not the one we were hoping to get. First, let me say that we believe that our adoption agency is the absolute right agency for us to be with. We trust them, they are open with us, they are easy to work with, they handle things in a Christ like way, and they are advocates for orphans and do everything they can to bring families together. The children are their first priority. 

We learned a few weeks ago from our agency worker, who's been so great to us, that right now our agency (this is not an Ethiopia countrywide issue) cannot process adoptions from Ethiopia.  They took over an agency that is in Ethiopia and have done some really good things to get that agency working more efficiently and helping more and more children. Every few years all agencies have to renew their licenses with Ethiopia and when they went to do that and change the name of the agency they got stalled. Their license is NOT being renewed right now, so basically they cannot operate in the country with no license. There is no way of knowing when they might renew the license, if they ever do, and the words that Ryan wrote down when he was on the phone were "expect significant delays in Ethiopia" and "not optimistic about them renewing our license". So clearly, not the news we were hoping for or,to be honest, not what we were praying for at all, right?

Our hearts were so broken over this delay for so many people. Our agency, the families waiting, us, and of course the children. I am glad that Ryan decided to have the conversation with our agency because at the point of learning all this secondhand from Ryan I was a basket case for all of the reasons just mentioned. Some selfish reasons and many unselfish reasons. The second part of the conversation was slightly more hopeful though…

We had a few choices at this point. 1.) Just sit tight and pray for Ethiopia to renew the license or for our agency to possibly reapply in the spring and just start from there 2.) Leave our dossier (paperwork file) in Ethiopia and also look into starting the process of adopting from another country that our agency works with.

We chose option 2. We have dreamed about our children from Ethiopia and prayed for them daily. But we don't feel it is the best use or our time, money, and faith to just sit and wait when God might be providing other avenues. We aren't giving up on Ethiopia, but at the root of this journey was the fact that we wanted to adopt. And right now the path we chose to go down is blocked, so we are taking another path at the same time and we will see which one leads to this house being a little louder and a lot more filled with love. 

The country we decided to go with is a little bitty country called Lesotho. It is pronounces "le-soo-too" or "le-so-too". To find it on a map, look at South Africa and then look at one of the little countries that is right in the MIDDLE of South Africa. That is where we have paperwork heading. I'm going to be honest, I'd never heard of it before that day. Like, we had to look up how to pronounce it. It's a new program for our agency and has not been a big program in the U.S. at all previously. We are praying to help that change. Our agency is the only agency that works with Lesotho right now. So there was a pretty small chance that we would come to know about this country and then have the opportunity to adopt from there unless God had something to do with it. There are a ton of adoption agencies out there that we could have chosen and you would drive yourself insane to sit and wonder what would have happened if we had picked a different one. So we trust that when we prayed about our agency choice that those prayers were answered and that God will bless this scenario. 

Basically we are waiting for our paperwork to go to Lesotho and then be on the waiting list. If we do get referrals from Lesotho (probably in 6 months to a year) then we will only have to travel one time but it will be for about 3 weeks. We do not know which path (Ethiopia or Lesotho) God will continue to lead us but we are just waiting to see which one progresses. 

Whichever country our children are born in we will love it because of them. We will learn as much as we can about it and it will become part of our family. When we started this journey we felt led towards international adoption so we are going to continue down that path, as we still feel like that is our calling this time. We have no idea what the future holds but if you ask either of us, I think you would learn that we plan on our family growing for quite awhile. Though you may get a different definition for "big" family from each of us. :)

We are SO ready to meet our little ones and right now we have NO CLUE when that will be, where we will be traveling to, how old they will be, or ANYTHING!! We just know that God knows and that has to be enough. When we stepped onto the rocky ship that is adoption we knew that the waters were gong to be rough. All you have to do is read a blog or talk to someone and learn that it is NOT smooth sailing. But we are trusting God and we are weathering the storm.

Please pray for our adoption. In whatever way you feel you should, because sometimes I am not quite sure not he specifics of it myself. But most of all, pray for our children, their health, their sweet little hearts, their birth families, our agency, government workers, all families around the world who are waiting on little ones and all children who need a family, no matter where they live. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The move

Well we survived the big move! We said goodbye to our sweet house in Nashville and hugged our friends with a "see you soon" attitude. The loading of the truck was complete by 10:45, thanks to some really helpful and strong friends. Ryan drove the biggest Uhaul you can get an Brody and I drove in our van. We pulled into our new home with plenty of daylight left. Moving day wasn't very painful. Especially since we didn't even unload the truck that day! We stayed with Ryan's parents for 2 days while we got things settled. We had the truck unloaded by 1045 am the next day and quickly tried to make it into a home.

We have great neighbors, it's a great location, and I'm pretty sure this rental house is larger than our Nashville house so there is plenty of room!

Here are some things we've been up to since we got here...
-we went to makin music at FHU on Saturday night. Brody LOVED it!! He's been saying, "go makin Music again?"
Sorry buddy, it's gone till next year- "makin music gone?" He'll fit in at freed just fine! Being at Makin Music also made Ryan and I so excited to be a part of freed hardeman- it is such a special place!!

-we planted potatoes, asparagus, blueberry bushes, corn, watermelon and cantaloupe out at 'the farm!" Brody loved dropping potatoes in the holes and he tried to eat the corn , "my eat this?" We stayed out there until about 9, with Brody planting in the dark in the amazing weather one night! Loving country life!!

- my parents came to visit and we went to a park and to Chickasaw state park- so much fun at both throwing rocks into he lake and feeding ducks Cheerios

- Brody has been slightly crazy!! He skipped a lot of naps and stayed up late a bunch but he slept till almost 9 yesterday morning (church here is at 9:30 rather than 815 like we are used to!) and he took a 4 hour nap and we had to wake him up for evening worship- our Sunday night was much better than Sunday morning :) which may or may not have involved Brody and I going to the car for 30 minutes!! Ha- thanks for those who checked on us and made me feel better by letting me know that they'd been there too! Last night and today he's been awesome and happy and back to his old self!!

- we went back to Nashville and closed on our house very painlessly. We packed up the shed and all the random items we had left inside in the dark while Brody slept in the pack n play in his empty room... This was the most depressing part of moving!!! We also slept on a non-blown up air mattress in an empty room.

- then we went to Chattanooga to have a fun baby shower for the hortons and sweet baby Neely Jane!! It was so great to see old friends!!

- now we are in Henderson and we officially live here!! No strings attached anywhere else. This weekend we've had two great times spent with friends here in town and Brody is settling in!! He asked to go back to bible class about 100 times yesterday.

Thanks to those who have let us know we will be missed in Nashville and to those who have welcome us with open arms here in Henderson! God has blessed us with so many precious people.

Oh and we don't have the Internet or anything so I typed all this from my phone, so don't read too closely!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chapter Next

In this family we love analogies. You can usually hear them being used every few minutes around here. We think its a pretty good way of expressing one's self. Jesus did it, so it must be a pretty good way of communicating, right?

Many people like to say that life is like a book or a story and each part of your life is just another page or another chapter. I don't know when exactly chapter ONE ends and two begins, etc. So I am not really sure what chapter I've been living recently. But I do know that these 3 little Hysmiths are about to begin a new chapter...

We are moving to Henderson, TN. Home of Bell's hamburgers. some good West TN barbecue, Kid President, my sweet in-laws and the reason for our move-Freed Hardeman University. I am so proud to share that Ryan is taking a job as the instructor of finance at FHU.

We are SUPER sad to leave our really great friends in Nashville. I am really going to miss story time at the downtown library. Whole Foods is a little to far from Henderson and that bums me out just a little because I really LOVE Whole Foods. My family will be a bit further away and an extra 2 hours on the drive is never something you desire.Our church family is beyond loving and supportive to us here in Nashville and it pains us to leave them. Our sweet little house that we literally made into a home with our bare hands is going to be very hard to say good-bye to. But God has blessed us incredibly as we have prayed about and thought about this decision. He opened many doors for us and we would be crazy not to walk through them!! Especially since this is our heart's desire.

A few weeks ago we started getting our house ready to put on the market. We weren't 100% sure about the move but about 90% sure at that point. Someone we went to school with happened to be looking for a house in our area, in our price range. He bought our house. BEFORE we ever had to list it, or show it, or keep it really clean for a long time. This is such an amazing blessing!

How does this affect our adoption?
We really struggled with the idea of moving while we are still in the process of adopting. You see-we filled out approximately one bazillion papers that have THIS address on it. Ryan's employment is on half a zillion papers and our HOME STUDY was done in THIS home. So there are a lot of things that would have to be changed if we moved. Well, during this time of thinking we were still waiting on our I-600A approval-which is just a piece of paper from the Dept of Homeland Security saying that it is okay for us to bring children from another country into the U.S. We were going crazy checking our mailbox every single day waiting for this paper. Before it came we discussed that we were in the "waiting" process right now anyway and that if we were going to move that NOW would be the better time. Once we have a referral (two sweet faces to look at and waiting on a court date) there is NO WAY we would move and slow things down. Since we didn't have the I-600A yet, our paperwork hadn't been sent to Ethiopia. Long story short-after talking to our agency we feel like right now is the best time in this process to make a change. It may slow us down a few months, it may not really make a difference. Also-when we talked to our agency they let us know that they were sort of on "pause" because Ethiopia was sort of dragging their feet renewing some agencies licenses because they were wanting to make a few changes first. While this made us really sad that things may be slowing down and that children were going to have to wait longer to go to their forever families it gave us a little push to "hurry up and move". We still prayed constantly that things would be fixed so that children could join their families. We didn't care about being next in line as much as we just wanted as many children to have parents as possible. ..The day before Ryan's interview we had an e-mail that said the license was renewed and everything was moving along like normal!-Praise God! As soon as we committed to seeing where this opportunity would take us we got our I-600A approval. If it had come sooner we may be in a much more difficult place to move. So..yes our adoption may be slightly delayed while we settle down and get moved but since only God knows the timing of this story, we have comfort in knowing that it's HIS timeline-who knows what it would have been if we stayed here. We feel that God had this planned the whole time and that our family will be complete in His time.

Anyway-we've got a lot of this going on, needless to say. We're doing a lot of this..

Because we close on our house on April 19th. Yikes! Yep-we have about 3 or 4 more weeks left in Nashville.

So here we come small town life. We look forward to walking the paths that Ryan and I walked while we dated and where we fell in love. Ryan looks forward to coaching his children in tee ball where he learned to swing a bat. We are planning on slowing down a little and enjoying the people we love. Freed Hardeman University is a place like no other and we really can't wait to soak it all up again. Though we are leaving a church of God's people that meets here in Nashville we will be joining our brothers and sisters in another really special family.

Soon we will turn the page and be on Chapter  Next...Thank you God for giving us a story at all.

the life of Brody

So Brody is getting pretty close to 2. I used to blab about him all the time on this blog and realized that he isn't getting his name in print quite as much. Well, he's awesome so here you go.

(he's feeding Tigger)

I thought it was time for an update on Bro Bro, Broman, the Brodster, Brody Boo, Munchkinland, Stinker, Buddy, Lovie, the first born. Yeah, we call him all sorts of weird things. The only one I've regretted is when he had a really bad cold and I called him "booger nose". He brought me his saline nose spray DAYS later and said, "booger nose?" Oops.

So that's the main update -Brody talks.All.The.Time. He repeats pretty much anything he hears and usually strings some pretty rocking sentences together. :) Sometimes he even says, "Hey Dad?" or "Hey Mom?" as if he is 13. Those conversations usually go like this...

Hey Dad?
Yeah buddy, what is it?
Hey Dad?
Yes sir, what you got?
Hey Dad?
How can I help you Brody?
Hey Dad?
Hey Dad?
Tell me what you need Bro.
Hey Dad?
Uh huh?
Hey Dad?
At your service man, what is it?
Hey Dad?

In the past few days Brody has developed a SUPER high pitched voice.

Play Doh is awesome.

Naps are optional according to my kid. But he often practices his counting while in the bed NOT napping.

Brody is pretty polite most of the time.

Sometimes he cries for 30 minutes for no reason?

My favorite thing he says is, "hold you?" Which means "hold me."

We pretty much checked out at the end of February and beginning of March due to sickness. We did that last year. Double ear infections, cough, goopy eyes, the whole deal. Best thing about it was extra snuggles!

I gave Brody a home haircut, it's not awful.

Brody usually prays like this-"Jesus, Amen." If we remind him to say what he's thankful for he usually names a few people that he loves. It pretty much melts my heart!

He always wants to sing "wise man", "wheels on bus-go beep beep", "whole world" (he's got the whole world in His hands), and he can sing a lot of twinkle twinkle and Jesus loves me. Sometimes he requests Jesus loves children of the world.

Pretzels and hummus are still one of his favorites.

We have loved the days where we get to play outside. He is really good at climbing on the playground this year so we LOVE it!

We eat breakfast at his little play table almost every morning.

Sometimes you just need to wear a dragon robe and house shoes. The house shoes are pretty much a 24/7 in the house thing. Like, he slept in them last night, wore them all day and went to bed wearing them.

Some days we feel like awesome parents and then the Lord humbles us and we have a day where we feel like we have NO idea what we are doing. I LOVE as Brody's mommy. I am so blessed that God shared Brody with me. I am learning so much from him and through him.

I mean seriously, how'd I get to be this kid's mom?

Monday, February 25, 2013


Do you have a bucket list? I don't have an official one-but I have a mental list of some things that I'd really like to do before I, well..."kick the bucket." I should write one out because I love writing out my to-do lists just so I can cross things off. It feels so good. And here is one thing that feels really good to  be able to cross off....

  • run a half marathon
Yep-we did it. Ryan and I registered in December to run a half marathon in Chattanooga on February 23rd. We trained, we got outfitted, we made smoothies, we ran in the snow, the rain, the cold, the dark, and on the days we didn't feel like running. And now I am staring at my medal and race bib. And let me tell you something..I'm really proud of my wrinkled race bib and "participation medal". 

Here are some facts/stats on the race:
  • It started at 8:00 A.M. Eastern time, which is 7:00 to our bodies-we got up at 6:15ish (which felt more like 5:15ish) and I woke up a million times the night before. 
  • It was pretty warm for February and although we had brought many different options for race outfits my main issue was that I had been doing all my training with an ear warmer headband and hadn't trained with any other headbands.It was way too warm for the fleece headband. I had a small hair crisis. (It all worked out fine thanks to the lucky yellow hair band from a sweet friend and some bobby pins)
  • I ate oatmeal with peanut butter and chocolate chips for breakfast. 
  • Ryan-aka best husband ever-graciously offered to run at my snail pace rather than on his own just to make it more fun and encourage me. And so we could cross the finish line holding hands. Not joking-ladies, if you haven't found yourself a man yet-look for one who wants to cross the finish line holding hands. (literally and metaphorically) 
  • I thought a 10:00 minute pace would be a pretty good choice for me to try and stick with. We started out at a 9:15 pace (I feel like its virtually impossible not to get excited and try to get away from the mob and run too fast at the beginning of a race) Mile 12 took me 11:28-yes I was still "running", but barely. :)
  • I only told Ryan to shut up once. Sorry babe. That was somewhere around mile 12 and he told me to try and catch up with this lady who passed me. This is when I was in "one foot in front of the other mode."
  • We ran through the park where Ryan and I walked and rode bikes when we were engaged.
  • We passed the restaurant where we had our engagement dinner with our families. 
  • I poured a lot of water and Gatorade down my shirt. 
  • The first 8 1/2 miles were MUCH flatter than the last part of the race. 
  • We used sport jelly beans as our mid-race fuel-they're tasty.  
  • Neither myself or Ryan ever ran with music during our training or the race. 
  • I was SO SO SO glad to see that finish line and my parents and Brody clapping and yelling for us. 
  • I had a LOT of trouble walking for the rest of the day. 
  • I was emotional crossing the finish line but even more so afterwards, I just kept tearing up when I saw people crossing the finish line-especially when this little boy ran out to cross it with his daddy-I cried just typing that. 
  • Our official time was 2:15:19. No speed records there, but I'm super happy. 
  • My goals were to get to the starting line healthy and finish the race without stopping-check, check. 
  • Even though there were portions of the race that I was feeling really bad-I can't wait to sign up for another one!! 
  • As I was running I couldn't help but thank God for the strong body He gave me! I am so blessed to enjoy the health that I do-that's what kept me going. 
  • I ran this race because I was encouraged by friends who had done it-especially the ones who said "I wasn't a runner" because before November I had never run more than about 3 1/2 miles. EVER. And a few months later I ran 13.1!! So even if you think you can't do it-YOU CAN!!! 
  • I wonder what else I can accomplish that once seemed impossible? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pajama Project 2012=SUCCESS!!

Grand total-108


I am completely overwhelmed by that number. So many of you gave me pajamas! Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much!

It is really special to be in the family of God.

I was given SO many pajamas at church, just because of a blog post and a little announcement in our ladies class.

Packages arrived on my doorstep because sweet girls that I went to college with wanted to help and ordered the cutest PJs and had them sent to my house.

Family sent them back with us at Thanksgiving.

Friends gave me bags of pajamas and told me that more was coming..and more came.

Some people bought them and shipped them to us from Hawaii. Yes..really, Hawaii.

Husbands just turned a blind eye when certain wives would throw pajamas into their cart every time we went to Target.

Elves volunteered their wrapping services until late into the night.

Wrapping paper was just handed to me, without even a request.


Tomorrow we will get to deliver these jammies to the Rescue Mission and hopefully everyone will have a pair that works for them somewhere among the pile. I was given a list of names and sizes, so we decided to wrap those. Then we realized that if there are any additional children that we didn't have on the list, they would probably enjoy a wrapped gift too, so we wrapped the extras and just put the size on the tag. I am praying it all works out and that the pajamas make them feel special and safe.

When you come home after a long day, or your little one finally goes to bed for the night, or when you feel sick..what's the first thing you want to do? If you're like me, the answer is put on your pajamas. Pajamas can save the day.

These pajamas aren't going to change the world or anything. In fact I can guarantee that it has given me more joy than it will any single child. It means so much to me to be ABLE to do something and for everyone to help me just shows how much can happen when people work together. 

Ryan is now reading one of my favorite books: Go+Do by Jay Milbrandt. I love when we read the same books because when we talk about them it reminds me of the great parts of the book. (By the way, my husband is incredible and when I ask him to read a book, he will)

One of my favorite parts of the book is when the author asks, "How many people does it take to start a movement?" I think the optimistic/textbook/Sunday School answer is one, one person can start something, right? 

Well, he goes on to tell a story about a video of an outdoor concert. One lone person steps out into a field and starts dancing. They are just out their looking crazy, dancing all alone. And they would have stayed that way, alone, until the second person joins them. That second person goes out into the field and dances with them...and then...many many follow. 

If you know someone who wants to DO something or start something, volunteer to be their number 2. You never know what might happen. 

My heart has been broken and my mind has been spinning over the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. I have zero answers for how to even begin to address the tragedy and what to do moving forward. All I know is that there is only ONE who can overcome heartache. 
John 16:33-"These things I have spoken to you, That in me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
One day Jesus will overcome ALL of the evil and sadness of this world and it will just be gone. What if we  all try to bring Jesus closer to this world by BEING Jesus in ANY way we can? 

If you see someone "dancing in a field all alone"- join them. Thank you for joining me.