Thursday, June 28, 2012


This post is a continuation of a post from earlier today - if you haven't read it, this one won't make much sense, so click here to read part one of this story.

So the sermon that morning was based on this verse - 1 Thessalonians 4:11

"... make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you"

The pastor talked about how many people are looking for fulfillment and just keep searching for a "perfect" or "dream" career, many times at the expense of what may be right in front of them to do.  It is interesting, because we still reference this sermon and concept.  We honestly think that in many ways our generation has too many choices and too many expectations.  In reality, most of us just need to pick something that we believe God is asking us to do and do that with all of our hearts and to the absolute best of our ability to glorify him.  I'll get off my soapbox now.

As we walked out of the service, John turned to me and said, "I want to pursue Chick-fil-A."  

I was shocked and a little unnerved, because I had no idea what that would mean for our future.  John took some time to work at the CFA I had been a part of to become a bit more familiar with it all.  He says, and I would echo, that everyone should have an opportunity to work behind the counter of a "Quick-Service" restaurant.  It is humbling and eye-opening to see how people treat cashiers waiting on them, and it is a great opportunity to learn how to serve.

He started filling out the application during the two weeks of time that we were moving all of our stuff into a storage unit indefinitely and then preparing to head to Ghana for a month and then Costa Rica for six weeks after that.  He turned in his application with a cover letter explaining our travels and his desire to be a CFA Owner/Operator.  When we returned from our trips, we started pursuing CFA full-time by working as Grand Opening Supervisors in January 2007.  We started interviewing, and by March 1st, we were interviewing together at the CFA Home Office.

That day was full of shocks.  It was shocking how much fun we were having at the interview.  I am always shocked and blown away by how wonderful everything at the CFA Home Office is.  I like to refer to it as "Corporate Disney World."  Everyone is so kind.  After lunch, we were shocked when they offered us a store - our free-standing location in Little Rock.  We had really thought we might get a mall store, but we really never fathomed they would offer us a Grand Opening opportunity.

I should stop right here and clarify several things.  First off - our story is freakish, even by CFA standards.  This was not the norm then, and so many things have changed in the past five years that this would not happen the same way now.  We were in the right place, at the right time.  We knew the right people, and somehow, the found us to be the right people.  Ultimately, we can see that God orchestrated this, hopefully to his glory and our good.  We do not know any magic secrets for getting your own CFA - though this question is certainly asked all. the. time.  (I take particular annoyance with the people who say, "If you can get a CFA, it must not be that hard."  Yes, people have said that to us.)  All of the time, I tell people to go onto the website and start there.

The night after we were awarded our restaurant, we went out to dinner to celebrate.  About 40 minutes into dinner, we realized that we had barely spoken to one another.  Shock was still the dominant emotion.  So much was going to take place and so quickly, since the restaurant was slated to open in late June.  Here are pictures of our restaurant being built.


The rest is history.  I actually blogged a few times in 2007, which you can read here, here and here.  The first couple of years were really hard.  Good.  But hard.  Owning your own business and starting out at 25, which was John's age when the store opened, is no joke.  The learning curve was steep.  Our motto was (and sometimes still is), "Fake it til you make it."

But, God has been beyond faithful.  He provides great people - both employees and guests.  He allows us to provide opportunities for others and create a work atmosphere that people want to be a part of.  We are thrilled to be partnered with such an incredible brand and company that also wants to honor the Lord.  I have also been amazed at the ways that John has grown into his own skin in this job.  I am so proud of who he is and how he does things, and I am amazed at the amount of wisdom that five years of doing it has given him.  I am excited to see what God will continue to do in and through us and in the people around us on this adventure.

Five years certainly flew by - here's to seeing what God has in store for the next five and beyond!


Today marks a momentous occasion.  Five years ago today, the very first free-standing Chick-fil-A restaurant in Little Rock opened up.  And somehow, John was at the helm of that crazy adventure.  How did a Family and Human Service major end up in food service?  Such a great question, and one that we often ask.  We are crazy blessed.  Blessed does not even begin to describe it.


When I graduated from college in 2003, my father had been dead for one week.  Needless to say, I was not in the mood to do a job that was emotionally draining.  A dear family friend (who had been quite close to my dad) was about to open up a CFA in Northwest Arkansas and asked if I would like to join him in that venture.  He said he would make it my dream job.  I was a bit dubious, since I am certain that serving chicken had never entered my wildest dreams.  However, I knew he would be great to work for, and I committed to a year.

As I sit here, 8.5 years later, I still marvel at the work God did to keep me in CFA.  I learned all the operations while I served as general manager for a year, and then transitioned into marketing when John and I started our Masters program.  I applied for other jobs, but nothing ever seemed to work out, and I really did love working for CFA.  John moon-lighted as the Cow during this time.  (Just imagine a child in footy-pajamas that are about 6 inches too short, and you can conjure up a pretty good mental image of what 6'4" John was like in the cow costume.  He was a huge cow.)

While we were getting our masters, John was working for a leadership development organization as a Project Coordinator.  He loved the work, as well as the exposure to different business people.  It was a fantastic place to build confidence and to develop real world skills.  As we were nearing the end of our program, we felt like we really should have figured out the rest of our lives by that point.  Instead, our plan was to move to South Korea for a year to teach English.  We also lined up a few other international trips before that gig was supposed to start up, because we knew that it would be a perfect time to travel.  No kids, no real job, no house, not much stuff.

However, God had different plans for us - or at least, different choices in front of us.  The leadership center where John worked graciously extended a job offer, and at the same time, my boss (slash surrogate uncle) sat us down and told us that pursuing CFA would make a lot of sense.  Staying where we were seemed such a safe and comfortable thing to do, and chasing after CFA seemed like such a long-shot, with so much uncertainty.  Selling chicken for a living?  Really?

During this time of wrestling through decisions (we take things quite seriously in our family), we walked into our church, and the title of the sermon was on the screen.  It read,

"Take This Job and Love It."

I kid you not.

And, this post has gotten more long-winded than I imagined and will have to be finished up in another post, maybe later today.  (Here's a link to the next post!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


      This morning found me rushing around.  Rushing to get the girls dressed, breakfasted and to Mother's Day Out.  Rushing to do that extra load of laundry because for some crazy reason only known to her, one of our cats peed on the decorative towels in our bathroom.  Rushing to make Lily's room look a little more normal, even though many of her belongings are on the top bunk, taken away as a punishment.  Rushing to unload the clean dishes so that I could make the kitchen look more picked up than usual by loading all of the dirty ones.

      This morning also found me thinking some crazy thoughts.  What about our medicine?  Is it in a safe enough place?  What about the lantern lights in the girls' room - will she consider those hazardous?  What about carbon-monoxide detectors?  Do we have those?  I should already know answers to all of these questions.  Our cleaning supplies are up high.  At least I know that one will pass the inspection - oh, but what about the bleach?  It lives under the washer - should I move it?

      At 9:20, a full 40 minutes before our scheduled home study, the doorbell rang.  I panicked, dropped all of Lily's pillows on the floor and tried to walk calmly to the door.  Come what may.  If the social worker is 40 minutes early, then we will figure this out, and John will be home soon enough.  Hopefully she won't mind that Lily's room is a mess and will chalk it up to good parenting, or something like that.

      All of that masked panic was for naught, since it was my very kind mail man delivering a box of goodies from Land of Nod.  When 10:00 came, along with the social worker, John was here, things were picked up and cookies were in the oven.  Suck-up chocolate chip cookies can never go wrong.  ( I sort of can't help doing stuff like this.)


      And, just as I actually figured all along, things were just fine.  She told me before hand that she would not be going through our home with a fine-tooth comb.  She just wanted to make sure that it was safe and had space for more children.  I assured her that I would redecorate the nursery before we bring boys into it, which she said did not matter one bit.

      Mostly, she wanted to talk to us and make sure our expectations were in the right places.  We think they are largely realistic, but it is good to realize all over again how much this will rock our family.  How much our parenting will have to shift to accommodate wildly different needs than our girls have.  How we will have to rely on God in new ways to love these boys well.  She wanted to hear about our marriage, how we cope with stress (what's that?), how we work through issues with our current children.  She was so kind, funny and really pleasant to talk with.  She was also very real, which we appreciated.  I think at the end, we were all friends.  Which is good, since she will be doing a follow-up interview with us, as well as our post-placement visits once our boys are home.

      So, it went well.  Thanks for the prayers!  One more hoop has been jumped through.

Monday, June 25, 2012


      Today the John and Carol Show got a complete makeover, thanks to Sharon at Redbud Design.  She was a delight to work with, and I am thrilled with what she came up with for me.  So, take a look around and enjoy the new look with me!


- Finally, I am starting to label my posts, and you can navigate those labels on the sidebar.
- I am keeping track of our adoption story, which you can follow by the button on the sidebar or see the adoption page, including timeline, on the menu bar under the title.
- Recipes and Projects are located on the menu bar.
- You can see my latest instagram pics in the sidebar.  This is one of my favorite things, since I have become an instagramming fool lately.  I ♥ instagram.  Are you on it yet?  I keep selling my friends and family on it, which has only enhanced all of our lives.

As I was trying to finish this blogpost, John asked what I was working on.

I said, "Blog."
He said, "Oh, so you would rather hang out with the blog version of your husband than the real thing?"
I said, "You are ridiculous."
He said, "Ever since you got this blog makeover, all you want to do is blog.  I just wanted to ask you more about your day, but I guess I can just look over your shoulder and read about it."

So, on that note of over-done drama, I am done blogging about my new blog.

(Thanks, again, Sharon!  I love it!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend: Too Much Fun to Put in a Title

      Weekends are made for having fun, and this one lived up to any hype that one fun weekend could have.  We kicked it off by meeting great friends in Memphis for a Norah Jones concert.


Seeing this sweet friend preggers and talking baby talk was such fun, while the guys talked CFA.  (She really is super cute!)


5 hours total in the car that day went by surprisingly fast with this handsome guy by my side, and Norah was worth the drive.


Saturday morning brought an awesome birthday party that the girls loved.  Saturday night brought several amazing experiences.  First up - the Race to Remember, a race honoring babies that have been lost.  Back in March, I wrote about this sweet friend, and we joined a team to honor her boys.  Since everyone there was running (or walking in my case.  it was just too hot for running that night for me) in honor of someone, it was an emotional atmosphere - sadness mixed with joy in the good and hope for the future.


John did run with the girls cause he is an awesome running stud.


Love any race that ends with precious cupcakes.


So glad we got to go and support a dear friend, and the race had an amazing turn out.

For those wondering about the college guy living with us - here's wonderful Robert.  He activity hopped with us Saturday night.


Our second activity that night was the Hot Air Balloon festival at War Memorial.  I was so excited, because I have a thing for hot air balloons.  Turns out, lots of people feel the same way.  It was very well attended, and the atmosphere was a bit magical.  We got there as the sun was setting, in time to see the last few balloons inflating and experience the "Balloon Glow," where all of the balloons light up at the same time.  The girls were transfixed.


The guys got to help get a balloon inflated.  It pays to be in the right place at the right time.


The glow at the end was really cool to see - the only downside was that Lily did not like being close to the "Big Fire," which I guess could be a bit scary.

Hope your weekend was full of fun!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Assumptions and an Ultrasound

      If you read this post, you know that we had an ultrasound scheduled for Lily at Children's Hospital.    It was yesterday.  Here's sweet girl in the waiting room, Lambie along for comfort.  (If you read this post, then you know we have had our issues with doctors before, and I was understandably nervous.)


      While we were in the waiting room, there were many other families to watch.  In new situations, Lily often will hang back, and since she knew that something unusual was coming, she was quite content to sit next to me on our little couch, cuddling with Lambie and I.  Bella was at home with a sitter.  Being at Children's (I used to volunteer there, BK (Before Kids)), always makes me grateful for health, especially now in my own children.  We had a while to wait, so we sat and took things in.

      After a while, another family sat down across from us.  It was a mother with a boy around Lily's age and another infant boy, and she was accompanied by two other adults who seemed to be her parents.  The little boy was a curious fellow, and he was talking to other people in the waiting room and generally quite restless.  Pretty typical little boy, from what I have observed.

     I saw the mother watching Lily, and then she leaned over to her parents and commented on how sweet and easy little girls often are.  They are content to sit still and watch things.  (I clearly have a problem with eaves-dropping to have overheard all of this.)  Once she realized that I was close enough to hear, she made the comment to me about how little girls are content to wait patiently.  She was actually quite nice and meant no harm, but it hit me all over again, WE ALL MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.  All the time, about everyone, usually without even half of the story.

      She had no idea that the reason we were there is most likely that my daughter and I are in some kind of power struggle over potty training, but I am making absolutely sure that we are not dealing with something physical.  It's a desperate hope - not even a hope, because I don't want for something to be physically wrong.  I just want some answers and some help.  I watched as her normal boy told her that he needed to go potty, and into the bathroom they went, with no drama or pretense, and I made assumptions about them.

      I assumed that he was a normal, active little boy.  I had no idea why they were there, but things looked fine.  She also had two other adults with her, helping her.  It must be so nice to have your parents living in town.  How easy for her - though she has those two children, she also has parents helping her every step of the way.

      How often do I do this to other mothers?  A lot, if I am honest.  I make snap judgments that are based on very limited facts.  I extrapolate the tiny bit of information that I have and make a life for them and imagine the decisions that they should make.  Ironically, I hate it when I feel that other mothers are doing this to me.  In fact, it is probably one of my pet peeves, which says more about my own issues and pride than the people I am running into.

      I am learning, slowly, but surely, that each child and situation is different.  Kids come pre-programmed (so do parents, for that matter), and there is absolutely no One Size Fits All way to parent.  Anyone who tells you so has never had their own children.  Parenting requires so much more guess-work and prayer-work than I even imagined it would, and there are still so many unknowns.  Parenting also teaches humility, if we are willing to learn it.  I have so much to learn.  I want to learn and live the humility that says, "You probably do know best what to do with your child, even if it is worlds apart from what I would choose.  You are living with them, day in and day out, and I know that you are most likely doing the best that you can."  I want to cheer on and encourage other mothers and never make them question their decisions, especially since most mothers that I know do not arrive at decisions half-heartedly or without thought.  I am learning.

      As for the ultrasound, Lily did great.  Better than I ever could have imagined.  My brave girl.


I actually just got the call that everything is normal, which is such a blessing.  And what I expected, which leads us towards the child psychologist at the end of next month.  Joy.  (though seriously, I am looking forward to the professional help.)

Afterwards, we went for a cupcake date at one of our favorite places in town.


This girl loves her some cupcake.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Classic Blueberry Muffins: The Way They Should Taste

      You know how there are some things that just should taste a certain way?  I am one of those people that finds something that I like, and I tend to stick to it and not change it up much.  If it is the best a certain way, why change it?  Blueberry muffins are one of those things that seem fantastic just as they are, and I have now found a recipe that hearkens back to my own childhood.  These are good, and in my opinion, they taste the way that blueberry muffins should always taste.  Light, fluffy, blueberry-y.  Delicious.


      I had some extra blueberries from our berry-picking adventure a few weeks ago, so last week, I got this recipe from my friend who said I could share it on here.  (Thanks, Nicole!)  Here's what you need.


1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup butter or 1/3 cup oil
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 375°.  Make sure your blueberries are clean and dry-ish.  In large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes, or whenever your assistants tell you it is done).


This is how they try to stand whenever I am making anything.  Mix baking powder, salt and flour together in a separate bowl.


Alternately add your flour mixture and your milk to the egg batter, mixing thoroughly.


Drop in your lemon juice (lemon extract will work as well).


Then fold in your blueberries.  I have a thing for fresh blueberries.  I think they are beautiful.


Line your muffin tin with baking cups - or you could grease them, but really, that is more work.


Pour in your muffin mixture, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way full.  Every time I am pouring in batter for muffins or cupcakes, I am a bit paralyzed with fear that I will do the wrong amount and get really flat, sad looking results.  This was the right amount for this recipe.


Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Enjoy them warm and maybe with a cup of cold milk, if you like that sort of thing.  I think I enjoyed mine with a cold Diet Dr. Pepper cause that is how I roll.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dessert at the End of the Road

      Welp, a college guy moved in with us last week on about 3 days notice.  He comes highly recommended by great friends of ours and needed a place to live for the 10 weeks that he is here doing an internship this summer.  So, now he lives downstairs.  Last night, we took advantage of having another adult in the house and after tucking the girls into bed, we skidattled on outta here and went for a dessert date.

      After tossing around several suggestions that didn't seem to fit us well last night, we settled on heading to Kroger.  And after taking in this display -


I'm so glad we did.  John grabbed a bottle of wine and a coffee cup to drink it out of (only a little bit redneck), and we were on our way.  Kroger did us right.  We ended up back in our neighborhood that has a bit of construction happening right now.  We had dessert at the end of the road, as the sun was setting.  Talk about life metaphors - though I am not sure which ones I should be picking out of this.

(I found a fun new app for phone pictures called iDarkroom.  It has lots of cool tricks.)

We sat in the back of our 4-Runner with the back up, listening to country music (which took me 30 years to develop an appreciation for, but now I am loving it) and talking.  So nice to eat Key Lime Pie in peace with the one I love.

      Life is complicated.  We make it more complicated.  Interestingly enough, I am finding that walking with God really can make it more simple.  His burden is light if we choose it, though it is hard to pound that through my thick skull at times.  So we sat.  Solving life's problems and laughing at the ones that will always mystify us.  And I ate all of my Key Lime Pie + the Chocolate Covered Strawberry that I got for dessert after my dessert.  You read that correctly.

      In other, completely unrelated and thankfully uncomplicated news, I think Lily may be a budding (ha!) botanist.  She is a bit obsessed with flowers and nature in general.  Do you have any idea how many crepe myrtles there really are in Little Rock?  So, so, so many.  Now that they are in bloom, Lily points out every one with great enthusiasm as we pass them.  She also recently learned that there are flowers called "Lilies."  She does not understand why there are no "Bella" flowers.

      Bella just continues to grow up around here and no longer needs a high chair.  Here are the girls, enjoying lunch in their chairs.


Thankful for these moments and trying to choose God's burdens instead of my own.

"For My Yoke is easy and My burden is light."  Matthew 11:30

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adoption Keeps Me Up at Night

      I thought it was time to share more of my heart in this adoption process, because I want to have a record of it, and because it is always coming as a shock to me.  I am not sure what I expected.  At times, I feel a bit paralyzed with an overwhelming sense of the surreal, as in I think "this cannot possibly be our life.  why would we do this?"  At other times, I am utterly convinced that this is the path that God has us on and that I am glad about it.  (which is the truth)
      I have spent an enormous amount of time researching adoption and trying, as best as I can in my own limited capacity, to understand the many facets to it.  I wanted to hear what naysayers had to say - not because I buy into their criticisms, but because I wanted to get another perspective.  It is easy to think that everyone believes as I do, until I take the two seconds to step out of my fishbowl and see what other people (especially other people who can be cloaked with the anonymity of the www) think.  I am amazed at the vitriol out there towards adoption, but I am glad to know what it is.  I want to know what we will be getting ourselves into as best as I possibly can.
      I have read large portions of several blogs that include adoption as part of their stories.  Here are some of my current favorites.

(I just found hers a couple of weeks ago and have become slightly obsessed.  I am currently reading through an adoption series she wrote sometime last year that is amazing and very real.)
(an old time favorite of mine who is doing a special needs adoption in China right now)

      I also recently read this blog post by an insightful adoptive mother that is changing the trajectory of our own adoption story.  After reading this, I was able to put my finger on a feeling that I had been sensing.  We were getting in a long line.  It is long, because the demand for healthy, young orphans is actually pretty high in the world.  It has got us asking questions about what children are not being adopted and why.  We are currently researching different special needs and looking for ways to open up our criteria.  I don't want to be looking for perfect children to fit into my vision of a perfect adoptive family.  Orphans cannot be special ordered, which is what I am starting to realize.  We are hoping and praying that God opens us up in the right ways to welcome home the children that need us to be their parents while we are all on this earth together.  (I would also like to point out that I do not think it is wrong to wait in line - we are all equipped and challenged differently, and what may be the right path for some is certainly not for others.  I am starting to realize how absolutely little I know about life, and how I have no room or reason to judge the choices that other people make - especially when it comes to preferences, not moral issues.  This could be a blog post in and of itself.)

      All of these thoughts swirl around my head at night, literally keeping me awake.  Which hardly ever happens to me.  I am awesome at sleeping.  Some have called it one of my spiritual gifts.  But, I am sleeping less these days and spending more time thinking about the pain that comes part and parcel with this process.  As I mentioned in this post, I shy away from pain.  I can see that through this process God is teaching me how to lean into it.  There are realities about adoption that I have read about from lots of other people, but now that they are becoming my own realities, I am starting to feel the pain.

      Some terrible loss will come to my children before I know them - their mother will die or choose to abandon them because of poverty or some other insufferable circumstance that is hard to fathom from where I am sitting.  That will forever be a part of our family.  Our children will always have that in their hearts, on some level.  We will take our children out of their birth culture, and while living in America affords many opportunities and experiences that they would never have if they grew up in Ethiopia, there will always be a sense of loss that accompanies their story.

      Our children might already be in the world.  This thought undoes me a bit, because I think of the way that I always know exactly where Lily and Bella are, who is caring for them and what their days will look like.  Because I love them.  Because they are mine to care for.  Because they are mine.  These boys that we are working, praying and waiting for are ours in our hearts.  And to not know who is caring for them, where they are or what their days consist of is a hard tension to live with.  It does drive me to prayer, and I am thankful to serve a God who cares for the least of these and knows when a sparrow drops.

So that is where I am right now.  Awake, often in the middle of the night.  Thinking, praying, hoping and dreaming.


(found on a random blog via google - could not find original source)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend: Tandem Biking and More!

      Some weekends are just chock full of fun, and this was one of those.  Friday night, we headed downtown to Flying Fish - one of our favorite restaurants.  Though Bella spilled her entire cup of Sprite not just once, but twice - we did a lot of apologizing, I would still consider dinner a success.  After dinner, since the weather was nice and our children were remarkably happy, we decided to grab a dessert and head down by the river, after John jumped over things on the sidewalk.


I wish I had gotten that picture with him up higher, but I still like it a lot, especially for being with my phone.  The girls happily picked flowers and brought them to us.  It was one of those special moments when our children were sweet, and we were content to just sit and watch them play together and soak up the joy of togetherness.  Since everyone with children knows that this is a rarity, we really were grateful for it.


Bella has started saying "Cheeeeeesssseeee" every time we pull out a camera or our phones.  ♥


Saturday morning brought a tandem bike riding adventure.  Oh. my. goodness.  I was so super excited to do this, and so thankful that we have friends with access to all the right equipment.  Our friends have a tandem bike of their own and have always offered to take us out, saying they had friends with the gear they could borrow.  We finally took them up on it, and so, all 8 of us (actually 9, since they are expecting), headed down to the river for some family biking fun.


First, we needed a little lessoning.  Tandem bike riding takes some practice, and before we hooked up the trailer with our children, we wanted to have a tiny bit o' riding under our belts.  (Please notice that we are wearing matching bike jerseys - also borrowed.  Also awesome.)


This is before the trailer was even hooked up - the girls were getting hydrated.  This was also before Lily refused her helmet - Bella had already refused hers.  Don't judge.  I wish you would try to get my girls to wear helmets.  We decided we would risk it.


At last - here we are on the open road!  In every picture I am making some kind of super excited face.


My view - may it be noted that the person who sits in back is basically just leg power.  You cannot steer or anything.  Our friends mentioned that tandem bike riding can show you a lot about your marriage.  You have to communicate well and pay attention to what the other person is doing.  As usual, we have a lot to learn, though we did catch on.


So glad we got to do this and looking forward to a chance to do it again!


The girls agreed to take a picture together again - so cute!


And lastly, but not leastly, Happy Father's Day to the best Daddy around - we love you, John!

Photo on 2012-06-17 at 20.49
Photo on 2012-06-17 at 20.50