Summer lovin…

Can we talk about how summer has FLOWN by?!?! I haven’t even had time to get a tan yet (also known as burn, aloe, peel, pinkin’, repeat). These lazy, hazy, crazy days are still here for sure – you can tell by the humidity – but they are slipping by so fast! And you know what? I am THRILLED!!!!!!! Me being a winter girl in a summer world is tough. Granted, I know we have about 5.5 days of winter plus the random freezing mid spring – but still. The cozy comforts of the illusion of fall and winter are my absolute faves. Maybe ’cause I’ve never been a beach babe – my skin burns fast like a piece of bread in the pit of an overused toaster oven. Or maybe ’cause the heat gets to a point that you can’t go outside without water involved – which for the pool-less Followell family means just basically hosing each other down in the backyard. Praise Jesus though – we finally got a snow cone stand. We will now survive on sugared ice – add sweet cream please. But the thing about me not loving summer is kinda twisted because I will more than likely always live in the beloved – eat the humidity with a spoon, 1,000 on the heat index scale – south. Sure, something could change, but if we are being honest, I will probably die here, and let them bury me in the backyard if that is permissible (which I hear it isn’t for humans – bummer).


So – I will be stuck in the place where it is summer 9 out of 12 months of the year and need to learn to be happy about it. This season is so long. But isn’t that how adult life is? When growing up, so much is changing. You are in school, but class, friends, grades, teachers, and subjects all change every year. We change our look, our tastes, our passions. Maybe we go to college, but even that feels a bit the same. Not quite free, not quite wanting to be. Seasons are intense but quick (insert the fact that you could not pay me to do middle or high school again – never would I EVER back-to-the-future that past of mine – Sorry Doc and Marty. Eww).

Now I am an adult (so “they” say). And although there are things that do change, a lot is staying the same. There are many things that have no escape. You can’t always drop, quit, change, move, start over. You can’t redo your character or uproot easily. Maybe some of you can. Or maybe some of you are under the illusion that you can. All that pondering to say – sometimes, we have to stick out the season. And although my life in general is filled to the brim with goodness and overwhelming amounts of grace and love, there are parts I’d rather bypass. There may be  large parts you would rather bypass. And maybe some well-meaning folks are trying to fix the season you are in, or maybe you are desperate to change it – but just like the Mississippi heat, there will be no escape.

So here is what we are going to do – party, people. We are going to take responsibility for our own joy. No more letting circumstances that change with the wind control us. No more letting all these moody people determine our worth and satisfaction (we all moody – for reals). No more allowing ourselves to be sky-rocketed into happiness only to plummet to the depths by the smallest or biggest occurrences in our season of life (or heaven help us if someone does not like our Instagram post – you mean selective likers!). We can have a solid rock that is not wavering, even though the whole world, including ourselves, is a hot mess.

To those of you who worry over others – let me tell you – I am so joyful right now! This is more of a lesson I’m trying to learn so that when the next shoe drops I don’t go dropping with it. Enough of that having control over me (but if you think you need to send me a meal because you feel bad for me, I’m always accepting 🙂 ). I’m just learning to surrender being defensive, nagging, frustrated, resentful, and bitter (LEARNING – not MASTERING). There is just no energy for all of that any more. None. Zero. Zilch. And I have found that joy, humility, compassion, and serving are WAYYYY more energizing to myself and others.

Everything is not about me. It isn’t. I want to make it that way sometimes. A lot of times. Almost every day.  But I’m desperate for that chain to break. And I believe that it can. If I get walked on a little, my rights aren’t high on others priority list as I’d like them to be, or my voice isn’t heard nor my opinion worshipped – so be it. We’ll all be a little better for that.

Learning to be joyful is not necessarily an easy task but one I believe is worth fighting for. What are some ways you have stayed joyful through life’s chaotic rollercoaster (or sometimes flat plains of no changed and silence)? Would love to get some insight on other fighters out there.

much love,



Put me in coach!

Stress- its a killer. I mean it takes me bouncing between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all the time. Sometimes circumstantial, sometimes self inflicted but always a nuisance. Sometimes stress likes to hibernate making you feel like you are on top of it again only to hit you back to back to back like a machine gun of frustration and lies- kicking me while  down. Stress don’t play fair.

I’m not sure what others need during stress. For me, my minor stress can be cured with one small homemade brownie and a long hug. But the lingering stress, oh the lingering stress! The type that can’t go away cause it lives in the season of life you are. The beautiful season of life that has you keeping, protecting, boogie pickin, feeding, loving, squeezin, wiping, zipping, covering, praying they go to sleep babies.  This stress you brought on yourself cause you think it is so valuable and worth every single moment but simultaneously makes you crazy. This type of stress cannot be handled by chocolate. This type, for me, can only be remedied by community.

Now- I do love the food giving of community. Sweet people dropping off mounds of pasta always with dessert and extras for the next day. Those people are angels that should get their own holiday.

But the ones that really help me, are the ones who don’t count me out. They keep inviting me and asking me to do things for THEM. These people get my help with their kids or ask me for advice. They still give me grace and allow me to bow out if I need to but they haven’t forgotten me as their friend. Their friend that desperately wants to be involved with them, who wants to come to birthday parties and meet for coffee. It looks different these days. If my friends need me I’m there- but it may take me a little longer to grab snacks and wrangle the girls into the car. If someone needs a meal I’m coming- it just might be partially store bought except for dessert. But nevertheless, they have kept me a part of the community.

To me- too much space is claustrophobic. It makes me get in my head, my world gets really small as does my perspective. My issues take over and my thankfulness suffers. I get irritated, resentful and lonely. It’s not a good place for me to be.  I’m not overwhelmingly perfect and selfless, I just need to know that I am contributing to the lives around me. Yes my family is worthy enough to invest in and should not be looked over. But I can’t wait until the kids are grown and it is convenient again to serve because then I’m afraid I will have forgotten how and lost myself in the waiting.  And they need to see me investing in others and not just them. If I close myself off from giving, I close them off as well. And I can’t do that. For all our sakes.

Bit of a rant but wanted to put it out there. Those of us with babies are here! Use us! Not just for child care either (please, Lord, not just for childcare)! We want to be in the community. Don’t outcast us! Still bring us food, obviously ;). But call on us in times of need.  Trust us to determine if we can help (and it’s true sometimes we should say no for our families), and give us grace when we can’t multiple times. But don’t forget us. Please. We want back in he game. Even if it’s just to wear the jersey or be he water girl for a while (which I actually was in high school and they are needed too).

Put me in coach. I’m ready to play!

Water girl for life,


Chain Chain Chain

I don’t wear a ton of jewelry. Not because I don’t think it is pretty and fabulous- my neck and ears decided a long time ago they were minimalists. It was probably my phase of the hemp necklace (which was uncool to take off even in the shower and only got thrown away once your mother had enough of the scraggly breaded mess and your attempt at being a hippy) and my hundreds of infected ear holes because of all my Claire’s purchases that really did them in. But nevertheless, my ears and neck will only accept studs and simple chains now.  I have embraced their decision and now wear the same few necklaces and earrings, rotating them only to make myself not feel boring.

My only frustration with the simple chains, is when they get a knot. Like that microscopic, have to do surgery with a needle and tweezers to hopefully get the knot undone but keep the chain unbroken at the same time. This usually happens to me right before we are jumping in the car to go somewhere and I feel like I could look more girlie so I go in for the chain- only to find it knotted. And it isn’t knotted in the back- nooooooooooooo. That would be WAY to passive for that little dad- gum knot. It likes to take its place right in the middle of your chest. One time I got so mad I couldn’t get a knot out, I decided to make more knots in hopes of making it look like the necklace was suppose to be like that. As in,    “yea, see my new necklace with 6 knots in it? It’s all the rage. It’s so…knotty”…Knotty!?! It’s a wonder I have friends.

Unfortunately, my necklaces weren’t the only knotted chains weighing me down lately. Eden has been home for just over 5 weeks. I can honestly say, 4 of those weeks I was a mess. Completely wound up in every way. Stressed about how, what, when I should do things. My gut would tell me one thing, my head another, and my heart would just burst into tears at my tug of war. Each morning seemed so long. We would play, snack, cuddle, read, wrestle, laugh, snack, drink, watch a cartoon, potty, color, repeat- and I would look up and thirty minutes would have gone by. THIR-TY MIN-UTES! My bag of tricks was not lasting long. Neither was my creativity, patience, strength, flexibility or hopeful attitude. Every task seemed hard, mostly because I made a mountain out of a mole hill and because I wasn’t trusting myself to make decisions. Worried, so deeply that I may mess up. I usually don’t worry about messes. I like to clean so organizing and art are always fun because of both the mess and the clean up. But how do you clean up a HUMAN that you mess up? And since we just brought one home with some baggage, I was absolutely on edge.

My knot kept getting bigger. I would have good days and moments, but somehow plummet back into frustration and negativity. It’s like I viewed this whole thing as a ladder. Made a few steps up, then would fall all the way down. I was hard on my kids, hard on my husband, and hard on myself. It didn’t seem like any of my usual ways to get out of the funk were helping. I just continued to get more and more twisted. Crying a lot. Desperately trying to make it to nap time then bed time. Snapping constantly at Robby. I felt like a tangled mess.

Now I know, you sweet encouragers will tell me we had not been at home that long and this is a big transition. Which is true. But if you have ever lived so in your head, consumed by worry and bad thoughts and basically shooting venom out of your mouth each time you were asked for juice, then you understand that those days are long. And the words and attitude I was carrying was creating a world in my home that was unacceptable and exhausting. It was not helping me and you can only say sorry for your words so much before you have GOT to start showing you’re sorry in your actions. It was time to make a real change.

I have a great husband and intentional community at church. Through some words of wisdom and a lot of grace, I made a decision. I was not going to live in turmoil anymore. I am not going to live in turmoil anymore. I may mess up my little humans at times and be imperfect. I will not always make the right decision or the best choice for them. I will probably spend the rest of my life telling them I’m sorry for various crazy things I do or don’t do. But I’m learning the even greater lesson is not trying to be perfect, but to show my girls how to wear their mess ups with grace, flexibility and humor.  To know that marriage is hard, and when struggle happens, IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD! Or our marriage. It just happens.

This is a lesson I have had to learn over and over and over again. And maybe that is where the grace lies. Allowing myself to ebb and flow in and out of successes and failures, highs and lows, “goods” and “bads”. Not sure if any of you have this issue. Getting wound up and worked up by your failures and worries. Maybe your knot is small and manageable. Maybe it has gotten so big, you aren’t sure if it can ever be unraveled. Not to be too presumptuous- but I think it can. I know it can. And IF your knot was doing what mine was- weighing you down, making something that should be beautiful, ugly…

Throw it out.

Let it go.

It’s not worth your time or trouble to unravel it. Begin again. Ask for forgiveness and give it to yourself. Then MOVE ON. We do not have to live anxious and worried. Fretting every move we make and lavishing guilt on ourselves and those around us when things fall short. Let’s not be fools. Let’s take off all our chains. And allow ourselves and each other to just live.

say no to knots,



So this is Christmas…

Well- today is the day. The day that I usually dread. The day that leaves me moody and slightly downhearted.

Today…Christmas is over.

I know it was technically over a few days ago- but I KNOW you ate some leftovers, scarfed a few more sugar cookies, had a couple more cups of sweetened coffee (peppermint mocha only lasts so long!), got some late Christmas cards (maybe from us) and watched and listened to a few more movies and holiday music. And if you didn’t- come to our house next year- where I usually let Christmas linger between “I can’t let go of my white lights” and “it’s almost Valentine’s Day”.

But this year was a bit different. I am not that sad to take it all down and de-glitter the kitchen. This somewhat puzzles me. I mean, we went out to eat for Thanksgiving because it was days before we left for India, and then missed the first 2 weeks of Christmas time. Those two weeks are parties, lights, nutcrackers, movies marathons, cookie baking and swaps, parades, carols, crafts and advent. Skipping over all of that, we got home and went straight into nights that weren’t so silent and no winter’s nap for ma and pa. I didn’t get to make cookies with my aunt that I have done almost every year of my life. We didn’t go to my hometown for Christmas where my mom makes spaghetti and we all have to open our presents one at a time to “oooo” and “ahh”. There were no packages of oreo balls that Robby and I have made and distributed since our first year of marriage when we had little money for gifts. And I have only ingested one cup of hot chocolate and it was not even in a Christmas mug (insert hand on head and fainting spell)! For a girl that loves traditions and any excuse to celebrate with themes, movies and food- I should be a bit devastated.

It is possible that it is nothing short of a Christmas miracle that I am not grumpy and wallowing in pretty much missing the most wonderful time of the year. Or, maybe it is that I am learning and possibly growing up a little bit. Don’t hear me wrong- not grown up in the sense that I won’t want to do all the silly, sentimental, sappy and sacred things of Christmas time next year, because I certainly hope to. But growing into someone who can understand why traditions are so important and how to let go of the parts of them that aren’t.

You see, making cookies every year with my Aunt Donnie is a major tradition. I’m sure we missed some years growing up, or there were fights and burnt candy cane cookies- but what baking those cookies reminds me of every year is that I had an aunt who was there. She was invested and showed up for me always. And still does. Giving oreo balls to all of our friends every year, was not just to give gifts to everyone but it was so we had an excuse to pop in on them during the busiest time of the year for a hug and “Merry Christmas” exchange. All of those people we would have baked for showed up to the airport for a “Welcome Home” and hugs that still make me weep and overwhelmed with thankfulness.

This year was different. We cooked one type of cookie and the cooking really consisted of Meg eating 1/2 pound of sprinkles and Eden yelling on the ground underneath me with flour in her hair. We woke up Christmas Day to unwrap presents (mostly that my parent’s had bought) and then just spent time with the four of us which included both naughty and nice moments from the girls (ok and the adults too). We wore pjs all day, didn’t see anyone else, and only watched one Christmas movie (“The Family Stone” if you were wondering).

It wasn’t just different because of what we did or didn’t do. I had a feeling that I’m not sure I have felt before, even at Christmas. We attended the Christmas eve service at our church with both girls (I know. I know. Breaking adoption rules again. Oops 🙂 Both of the girls came into the sanctuary with us, as did all other kids with their parents. And even though Eden and I could only stay for the first part of the singing-only because she was so happy she couldn’t contain herself(being serious)-it was in those few songs the feeling came. We were singing “Come All Ye Faithful”. I was standing by the best man I know, Meg was rubbing my back and I was holding Eden. We hit “Oh come let us adore Him” and I could not stop the tears. For years we have sat in that sanctuary. Sat there when I was pregnant with Meg and about to step into my role as mom for the first time. We sat in those seats when we were on cloud 9 after deciding to adopt and we sat there when I was mad at God and frustrated at His timing while waiting to match. We sat there as we ached for Eden once we saw her face and were desperate to get her home and wept over the distance between us and the unknown of what life would look like when she was home. And then, we were there again. With both of our girls. The most tangible fulfillment of any prayers I have ever prayed. It was the best Christmas present I have ever gotten.

The reality of that moment. The beautiful weight almost unbearable.

I’m not sure what our Christmas normal will be. But the lesson I am learning this Christmas is growing me. A tradition can change. This year my aunt sent us a recipe and ingredients for one of her specialties and an apron for me and each of my girls. Of course I would much rather spend the day with her, but what I love most about the tradition of our baking still happened- she was still there for me.

Whatever your Christmas looked like- jolly with a new baby, too busy to enjoy, lonely and weary, exciting and full of family, sad from a loss in this past year. It’s ok. Our years and traditions will and can change. You have not failed! You can do it next year…OR NOT! My encouragement to you and to myself, who will possibly forget this perspective at some point in the coming months: Release the grasp. The tight tight hold we think we have over things. The control that is not really ours. Because things will change. We will have loss and gain, sickness and death, sorrows and victory. Sometimes we may can control it- but other times life is just happening. Sometimes faster than we can keep up with and quicker than we can process. And I can stay in mourning over what I thought was the best way/plan/tradition. Or I can be brave enough to embrace a new one.

This is why I think cleaning up today, Christmas over, isn’t so bad this year. New Year’s is coming. And although I am the LAST person who wants to stay up until midnight, throw confetti that I will have to clean up or blow horns while EVERYONE watches me kiss Robby- I do like the fresh start feeling that New Year’s brings.

Thanks Christmas- see you next year.

“Let your heart be light”,



To live is the greatest adventure…

I’m convinced jet lag is from the Devil. The mindset I have been in the last few days of coming home has been overly sensitive, overly fragile, overly tired, and overly everything. Finally last night I got a normal person’s amount of sleep. Although things are still transitioning and adjusting is the theme of each day, I feel like I can tolerate chaos with a bit more stability. Praise!

Processing has always been a weird practice for me. It takes me a while to unpack all my heart and mind have gone through and how my surroundings are now a new territory. The first few days, I will be honest, were dark and rough. I had terrible thoughts that we had possibly made a mistake. That somehow I had heard the Lord wrong and we had just jumped on the adoption bandwagon on a whim. I began to wonder if Meg would ever recover and if Eden would ever be simultaneously awake and not sporadically scream/crying. Those days were about 3-4 but they felt like an eternity. Meg and Eden both got fevers, Meg threw up, I wasn’t sleeping more than 1-2 hours a night. Completely irritable, thoroughly frustrated, and slightly hopeless.

Finally- I had to gain some perspective, so I started making a thankful progress board. Sometimes I find these practices cheesy but I have found out something about myself. When I need to cling to something, it has to be plastered all around me on a constant basis. So I made a huge scroll of thankfulness and hung it on our door. I wrote the good things that had happened so far. We had made way more progress than I thought. Then we had some great friends bring over dinner and hang out. I found myself bragging on Eden as if she was my own (because of course she is)! I began to verbally go through all that we had encountered and unraveling some of the truth and some of the lies wrestling around inside of me. My roller coaster suddenly seemed less scary, completely doable and possibly even a little fun.

And we haven’t even been home a week.

This isn’t to say I think that everything will go back to normal soon or peachy and perfect. We have another child which means we will be creating a new normal. We also have a child who has suffered abandonment and loss- this is completely new territory for all of us. Which can only be covered, conquered and cared for by lots and lots of time.

BUT…we have made progress. And we are starting to learn about Eden – her quirks, her personality, how she has been effected. I am certainly not an expert AT ALL and will never claim to be. But here are a few things I have learned/discovered about myself and about my newly beloved daughter. Kinda all over the place:

Where Eden came from: We learned in India that Eden was abandoned 3 days old, umbilical cord still attached, at a train station (march 2013). Spent all of april in a hospital fighting to live, then sent to the orphanage in may (2013). She had 3 back to back surgeries in which her legs were in casts off and on up until june of this year. The caretakers told us it had only been the last few months that she had really taken to some of them and bonded. Her orphanage was great in so many ways, but in it she learned that the squeaky wheel was the one that was heard, so she learned to be loud and demanding. Her diet consisted of boiled eggs, crackers, lentils/rice and bananas.

Where she has come since (in the last 12 days).

-Sweating profusely through her clothes and shuddering at our mere presence- now she hardly sweats even in front of strangers, reaches for both me and robby.

-Lethargic, non-responsive, jerky and nervous – now she is playful, active, crawling, grabbing, moving and can be calmed much easier.

-Stiff legged, screaming, silent crying terror at bath time – now sits in the tub with Meg, moaning slightly but no tears

-Having to hold her down in a crib for her to calm down and go to sleep – kissing her on the head and laying her in a crib, walking out of the room and she falls asleep in 2 minutes.

-Hating the carseat- still hates the carseat 🙂 Some things take time!

-Clinching her jaw when we brush her teeth- opening for increments of 2 seconds to let us brush a couple of strokes.

-not talking at all except through tears – saying momma and waving bye bye.

There is no doubt we have a long way to go. Lots of trust and bonding to be had. But I have to acknowledge the long way we have come! It took the caretakers over a year to bond with Eden and she has attached to us in a matter of days. She is expressive and happy much of the time. Her heart seems open to us, already starting to grasp that we are not going anywhere. She is slowly not throwing as many tantrums or having as many meltdowns. We are making strides toward a sweet new normal.

I have to admit, I have worried myself sick the last few days. It is hard to know the boundaries of loving on and growing with your adopted child. I was feeling like we were doing everything wrong. I know we need to bond, but we decided to put her in her crib the first night home in a room by herself instead of our room. I am actually also just laying her down and walking out of the room. She cries a minute and then goes to sleep. I know she needs to be assured of our love, but we also can’t let her get away with everything so we are already starting to discipline. These are really big NO NO’s I feel like in the adoption world. But through some great advice, I am learning to just go with my instinct, listen to Robby’s guidance and input and watch how Eden reacts. Like parenting biological children, I don’t think there is one perfect way. Each family is so different. We have also let others hold her and play with her, already had about a dozen people in and out of our house and let her crawl around with the dog. GOSH!- we sound like we are doing everything wrong. And if we find out we are, we will adjust accordingly. But right now we are just trying to live. Trying to make Eden feel like a Followell in every way- in our love, our boundaries, our community. Trusting that if we keep our eyes open, she will communicate what she needs.

This post was mostly for me. To assure myself that I am going to be ok. That I will attach deeper to my daughter with time. That she will do the same with us. To show myself that in such a short amount of time so much ground has been gained. That Meg was made for this role and will eventually thrive in it.

And maybe it was partially for you too- if you are adopting maybe it can give you some peace to know you don’t and can’t have it all figured out. That your child will be different and need you differently than you can anticipate before you actually get them. Or maybe you are just stuck in a place that feels overwhelming and heavy. Maybe you are in a place that time is the only way healing and progress will be made. And maybe that is a crippling thought to you. It was to me. But I couldn’t stay there and neither can you. At some point we have to make a thankfulness chart, or blare music and dance, go on a walk, make brownies, watch a Christmas movie, buy a new favorite sweatshirt, cuddle on the couch, invite people over into our messy, unkept house when we haven’t showered and don’t plan to.

We have to keep living, really fully living. And it isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes fight to do that. To really live. And right now that is the biggest lesson I’m learning from my Indian princess. She fought to live. And if she can do it, I can too.

much love,


I am…

I can’t do it. I can’t put words in a five paragraph essay form, inserting witty comments and intriguing descriptions, right now. Everything is everywhere. My mind, my heart. I thought I knew what was coming. I thought I had walked through the hard parts of adoption and this was gonna be slightly difficult but mostly beautiful. I was unavoidably naive. The sorrow that has engulfed me is almost unbearable. The intensity of the love in my heart, crippling.

I am undoubtedly overwhelmed. 

I am a mother to a child that was tossed out on the street, sentenced to death. By the grace of God and the angels he sent to preserve her, death lost but the abandonment left its mark. Fortunately she has known care and attention and even love through the caretakers at her orphanage- to whom the pulse of my grateful heart will always beat. But has not known the intimacy of a mother and father. She has missed out on someone from the moment she was born, someone treasuring her mere existence. I was unable to watch her chest rise and fall as an infant or memorize her marks, and scars. She was not held close for the first 2 months of her life, but hospitalized, willing herself to live without an advocate pulling for her every breath.

I am filled with sorrow.

To put it lightly, she is terrified of us. Slightly curious and aware, but immediately tense beyond comfort at our touch. We are strangers, unknown, currently unwanted and uncomfortable. The chaos and noise of her life has become the norm and desired. She cringes at our sight and my heart breaks again and again over the rejection of my longing to love her. She is unaware of our intention, distrusts our affection and physically reacts with anxiousness at our presence.

I am heartbroken.

BUT…thank God for that word…she will. She will know. She will feel it. The unconditional love that won’t leave or abandon. The love that will make its life’s mission that the lack she felt at the forefront of her life will be diminished to nothing and overcome and filled with the an intense and indescribable joy and completeness. She will realize, eventually, that she is prized. That our love, though imperfect, is steady and full.

I am hopeful.

We get her today. Take her from the orphanage she has called home with many women who love her. Today will be a hard day. In many ways, my body is weak, my heart heavy, the load too, too, too much. But in bigger ways, I am ready. Ready to start the affirmation that she will undeniably need to trust us. To be the one and only caretakers of her days and gain her affection through an outpouring of ours. My heart beats fast as we get closer to that moment. Sweating will surely commence. But Jesus has given me himself. And I have gladly and humbly received Him and with Him, His power and strength. I will not be overcome, not because of my strength for I am in crumbles, but because of the One who is mighty to save. My champion. My savior. My rescuer.

I am empowered.

There is really no more waiting now. In 30 minutes we leave to go get her. And then she is ours- fully.  Nervous, a bit weary, kinda scared. BUT…

I am ready.

love, Jess

“So let go, my soul, and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name. It is well, with my soul.”


Just Keep Swimming…

I read that it is 100 days until Christmas. That is crazy! Crazy because it is still sweltering hot in the good ole Sip. Crazy because I feel like we have a million weddings to do between now and then. And mostly crazy because we will most certainly have Eden home.

We are at a point this week where we aren’t sure if we will travel in October or November. Some miraculous things have to go down for us to travel in October, but we are hopeful. Either way though, the certainty that she will be home by Christmas (and well before actually) just blows me away. This adoption journey (this part at least) IS going to end. We will actually have another little girl in our midst and under our roof! Meg will not think Eden is an imaginary friend anymore (bless her heart)!

Right now I am filled with joy, but tired. This kind of tired is like the mile right before you finish your marathon; the final push before the baby is born, the last few boxes in the U-haul to a new house. No option of stopping but you wouldn’t want to anyway. You have to and desire to finish. You don’t run 25 miles just to wimp out on the final mile! You don’t go through labor for any other reason than to have the baby! And you do not pack up every tiny bit of your house to leave any of it behind! Light at the end of the tunnel- keep going!

One of my favorite movies is the Kevin Costner “Robin Hood”. In it, one of the characters asks Robin, “Will you stand with us and finish what you started?”. I’m a sucker for a hero story. But what I love most is the part of the story when the hero could quit, but (OBVIOUSLY) chooses to press on. Now, I’m certainly not a hero type. But there is an ever present fork in the road in my spirit that I can choose to quit or finish what I started. This is not an option! Why would I quit and give in right when the joy is about to happen!?! I am certainly weary of the surrender and unknown but that will be nothing compared to the absolute relief and shear love we have and feel when Eden is in our arms.

I just wanted to share that things are hard and sometimes stay hard for a little while. Sometimes prayers don’t get answered exactly the way we pray them. Sometimes I hope so hard that I get a disappointed that the outcome looks different than I thought it should. It is a lie that things always work out for believers the way we want. The road can be tough. But let me tell you, precious sister and brother, persevering in prayer and holding tight to hope is ALWAYS worth it. I want to travel in October. I want to get that baby home asap and bring our friends with us to document it and know right now so we can book our flights and be on a count down to the days we fly. But if it doesn’t happen that way- it’s ok. We’ll just be strong and courageous and wait. And when its time, we will know and we will rejoice.

If you are in a time of waiting and the outcome or the timing is unknown, I pray you can have hope. It’s really not a cheesy thing to have. It is powerful. It helps us to hold on. And it helps us to have joy even when things are over our head. It isn’t naive or unrealistic. If you place your hope in God and not your outcome, you are sure to win- every. single. time. He never fails.

A bit all over the place today. Took cold meds. Hope everything is spelled correctly 🙂

Just keep swimming friend,




It has been cray cray in the Followell house (basically ever since there was a “Followell house”) but for sure the last few months. Too much to catch up on so I’ll just start in the middle…

We are anticipating to travel to get Eden in October or November. Now, everything in adoption world is full of “tentatives” and “ish”, but to even fathom it being that soon is a big excitement to us! We will be writing out her whole story on our blogs at some point as well as documenting her coming home through pictures (duh) so I won’t go into the nitty gritty of all that has happened since February. Basically in a nutshell it has been- generosity overload, friends stepping up, family rallying around, minds being blown, prayers being answered, paperwork (IT NEVER ENDS!), waiting, training, scheduling, waiting, getting answers, applying for visas and “govermenty” stuff, dreaming, anticipating, reading…repeat, repeat, repeat. The small happenings are wildly important and will be shared at a later date. But you can get the picture.

If I had to title what right now is looking like, it would be “Preparing”.  I am beginning to buy things for our trip. Small things like sippy cups and tylenol, but the fact that a “travel pile” exists in a closet is exhilarating. Meg’s drawers are beginning to be rearranged to make room for Eden’s clothes. Reading a couple of books about attachment for adopted children. Attempting to get way ahead in all my work responsibilities. Lining up doctors for appointments. Applying for visas. Having “maybe this is our last time without kids for a while” date nights. Buying things that say India even if they are of no use to us. Making lists and getting shots- hoping it all gets lined up, checked off, filed, stamped and completed before the time we lift off.

Thinking over and over in my head the past 21/2 years from decision to adopt, to waiting on our court papers leaves me in utter amazement. That Eden will no longer just be a t-shirt worn, but a child with a full personality. A little sister trying to mimic Meg. A girl who needs her daddy when she falls down. A momma’s girl (for sure 🙂 Her little life has felt anything but little to us. We will never be the same because of it. And I have a feeling, others may feel the same way.

Our adoption post about our court date got around 600 likes. At first I feel so stupid even saying that because most would say “those aren’t real friends” or “social media kills you” or something in between the dramatics of both of those statements. But really, I like Facebook and other social media. Sure- like everything – in moderation. And we for sure try to be careful it isn’t interfering with our lives or allowing us to acquire our self worth from it. BUT let me tell you what it has been doing and showing me through this adoption- people are intrigued with real love. People are drawn to doing something bigger than themselves. They are aching for anything that sheds a light of hope and they still love a story of rescue (see the bottom for my brief thoughts on the use of that word). We have taken all of our “likes” as affirmation, encouragement, “go get em tigers” and they have honestly pressed us on in days that felt so so long and never ending.

I write these words for a few reasons- 1. To update you a bit on where we are. 2. To say THANK YOU to all of you who have not only “liked” our posts but given money, thought, time, attention, prayer, petition, or kind words. So many people have sent a “random note” or “just thinking of you guys today” text. Countless people have bought t-shirts and post each time they wear them which always makes me feel like I just got a hug from Eden. It all seems small but I am here to tell you kindness is NEVER small. One of my favorite quotes is ” An act of kindness, however small, is never wasted.” I hope that we can be those small and big acts of kindness for others the rest of our lives. It has made all the difference.

Considering we feel like EVERYONE around us is bringing Eden home, we will update you once we hear the happenings of our court appointment September 4th. From there, we will know a closer time of travel. 🙂

much love,



PS. I need a GREAT memoir to read on the plane- suggestions?

PSS. RESCUE – many VERY smart and experienced people have warned us on claiming our adoption of Eden as a rescue story. That viewing it as that may cause pain for her or her self worth to be jeopardized. I want you to know I understand where you are coming from and we will not be glorifying the fact that WE rescued her or that SHE is the lucky one because of US. But in our belief, we understand rescue as a beautiful and sacrificial gift God our Father did for us. And THAT rescue story parallels with hers and is why we use the word rescue. In that light- to us- “rescue” is one of the best things you could experience. We share that in common with Eden and that is how her story needs to be told.


Rusty Cookies

“How do you feel?”  Words that have been asked by my sweet friends and family, along with the simply curious, about my reaction toward our adoption status. About 6 weeks ago, as many of you know, we matched to a little girl. She has special needs and an amazing story to go with all of her cute self which can be found if you click here. My Robby wrote such an amazingly articulate and complete post on our decision and matching process that I didn’t find the need to add anything.  And my answer to that question of “how I felt” was just…good. The relief of having a face attach to my dreams of our little girl, the answered questions her story instantly provided to my wonder and just the mere fact that something finally happened after a long long time of nothing. All of this made me feel good. So, so good. Immediately after matching, we found out that a lot of our paperwork needed to be updated. So the last month plus has been filled with running around, getting signatures, blood work, background checks, notary stamps, paying fees, blah blah blah. But even that didn’t make me feel bad. I had done this once, I could do it again. After a few hiccups we finally got all the papers in, or so I thought. We still are waiting on one paper to complete the process. O-N-E. The paperwork will then go to India and begin being approved and then finally sent to court. But it can’t to a dad-gum thing until that piece of paper is sent to us. And this particular paper is one where you call the 1800 number and deal with the hellacious millions of choices you have to listen to just to press 0 and then frickin pound (little testy- I know- sorry). Today when I called-again-they told me that it would be faxed tomorrow-again-and I had some choice words. You know, as “choice” as a girl who has terrible comebacks and loves Jesus can be. But for me, I was mad. I was shaking by the end of the call because being stern is not my best attribute but at this point if they don’t give me that paper I will call tomorrow, jump through the phone and start rollin some heads (breathe Jess).  

So, if anyone were to ask me how I feel right now about our adoption, it’s frustrated. But I’m not just exasperated by the paper fiasco (although if you can’t tell I’m a little on edge about it). But I thought this was done. Like all the aching and “please pray for us” and “I’m so fragile and needy” and “this is all I can think/talk/pray about”- I thought I was on solid ground. The ground where I have steady footing and can hack it on my own. The ground where I don’t cry every other day just because I’m so overwhelmed by the good/bad/ugly parts of adoption and orphan care. I found myself slapping my cheeks in the mirror reciting “pull yourself together Jessica!” Which I don’t recommend because you may cry harder. Yet it was at this moment that I had a thought. A thought that will change my mind, my heart and how I treat others-hopefully forever…I never want my compassion to run out. Obviously most of us have our heart strings legitimately tugged over injustice and things of that nature. But I want my compassion to reach into my daily life. I want it to stretch past my comfort, through my annoyance and over my convenience. Maybe it’s just me, but I realized my compassion had a limit. People speaking about the same issue constantly, or someone asking of my help too much/often. Maybe it was someone confessing a problem that I didn’t feel like was that big of a deal. Whatever the case was, I gave what I thought the “good” person would give. And then moved on (boy that is so ugly when you put it into words!) But now being on the side of my “issue” that has lasted over 2 years and STILL crying out for help and in need of the shoulders, hands and feet of others- I never want to have a cap on my concern over another persons pain and hardship. Ever. Again. 

Now, how do I feel? Moved. Moved to feel what I feel and hope for people whose wells of compassion won’t run out on me. Moved that I serve a God whose compassion is constant no matter what. And moved to make it my life’s goal to be a safe haven of endless acceptance and love to all others fighting this hard battle of life, whatever their specific battle might be. 

In conclusion- to all you worriers out there- I am not in a state of depression or in a low place. I have MUCH to be overjoyed about. My brother just got married to a precious woman, we just returned from an amazing trip to Austin, and we actually are buying a house (that is a whole post in itself). And if that wasn’t enough, my little Megsie is turning into the most tender and funny little girl I know. My life is still good. Great even. I just don’t want people to live with the “instagram life” perception of me. All of that is true (the cute posts and fun activities) but it isn’t the whole story. There’s just a little rust on my cookie-cutter life. I personally think it tastes better that way.

Little heavy. I’ll write about how much I like pizza in my next post.




The dad gum good “Good Wife”

I made new year’s revolutions (as my group of friends is calling it). But I’m not going to blog about that cause it’s really not impressive until I’ve actually accomplished some of them, so I’ll hit you up in April with my results (or I’ll pretend like it never happened if I plummet into failure 🙂

I am, however, going to talk a bit about something that is ruining my life and that is the show “The Good Wife”. Yes, I realize it is now in like season 20 or so but as usual, Robby and I jump on TV bandwagons a lot later than the rest of the world. We just finished season one and just started the second and it is going to be the end of me. The unwatched episodes loom over me and in the back of my mind most of the day until we sit and watch 1, or 2, or 3 (certainly NOT 4!…except that one time) episodes. Robby and I innocently ask one another “what do you want to do tonight?” As if there were actually other options. Even last night, we did other things until almost 10pm. I finished a great and sad book (The Book Thief) and he worked on some editing. Acting like we were more mature than to be reeled in by that box in our living room. And then we watched an episode until 11pm. If we can only get caught up then we will be forced to just watch once a week and life will resume to a normal-ish status of followell tv watching which is usually not that much. 

This late night tv watching has a few not-so- great side effects. 

1. I can’t go to sleep right away. My mind is tossing and turning over the characters and their drama (judge on judgers).

2. I have been sleeping in (7:30-8ish) which totally skips over my morning work out.

What has happened to me? Before the holidays, I was getting up around 5:00, working out, getting my coffee, reading and cleaning a bit before my people woke up. I had a schedule! Now I am doing something different every day. And with the weather being so cold, it makes it even worse to retreat from the oasis of snuggles that is our cozy, warm bed. This is a disaster! – or is it? I failed to mention that Robby and I are like giddy children late at night. We laugh, sneak treats from the fridge (which these healthier days is almond butter), discuss random topics (ok mostly TGW) under our string of white lights still hanging on our bed from Christmas – I can’t let go of the white lights. We snuggle in the morning, taking turns slamming our alarms off (again- don’t get mad-we have a toddler so 7:30am is “sleeping late”). It’s like we are just living each day and not worrying much about tomorrow. 🙂

As I wrap up this rabbit chase, I’ll try to make my point and share just one of my NY revolutions (I know I said I wouldn’t but I changed my mind)…

relax. enjoy. breathe in. let go. soak up.

I’m sure I’ll reinstate a couple of early morning workouts and I really do enjoy drinking something hot and watching the world wake up. But my schedule can stand to be shaken up a bit. I’ll run a few nights instead of mornings or just park the car far away from the grocery store to get in some cardio. I don’t know about you, but I need to relax. I need to not be so hard on myself and stop maxing out  my to do list. I need to prioritize making memories and not DOING so much. I want cooking dinner together to be a family activity, and to say yes to Meg when she asks “one mo book?” even if it is past her bed time of 8. I need to plan to have times of UN-PLANNED things. I need to say more yes to “not doing anything” and make more room for the “whatever happens”. I’m not talking about spontaneity-like crazy things to spice up life, and I’m not talking about being lazy. I guess what I’m saying is what I’ve already said. Let’s…

relax. enjoy. breathe in. let go. soak up.

much love- jess