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Foreign Creatures

A New Perspective on Our Adoption Journey

adoption, thoughtsJessica6 Comments
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Just recently did I see our adoption journey in a new light. For the past month there has been a lot of events, commitment, and changes going on in our life. I started a new part-time job as a Visual Communications and Designer at our church (which I love), styled 2 birthday parties, interior designing a friends' house, and serving at another church doing children's music. And this has been only 1 month! I am so grateful for these blessings and the time and opportunity to do these things. The best thing is that I LOVE doing all of this. We are so busy and our calendar has no empty time slots but even so, I'm not stressed, our marriage is going well, and we're constantly looking for new opportunities to host events and do more. God is definitely providing for us and giving us the energy and heart to serve.

I use to see us doing things as an in between before we have a child - "while we wait, let's own a poke and boba shop", "before we have a kid, let's host more parties and invite people over". There was this time to "kill" while we waited to be parents. My mentality was that we needed to stay busy to help us with the waiting period - we just need to ride it out. BUT now there's a new perspective - we get to do all these things BECAUSE we are adopting. It took me over 2 years to figure out all these blessings in life is because we want to adopt.

 Instruments we prepared for for the children's church retreat we served at.

Instruments we prepared for for the children's church retreat we served at.

If we didn't go on this adoption journey and tried to have kids biologically, maybe we wouldn't have gotten all these opportunities. Our time would have been much more limited. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten to be a staff at church. I would probably be too busy planning my own kids' birthday parties to help plan other kids' birthday parties. Even helping my friend design her house...I was the one who asked her because I thought it was fun. I'm so happy she said yes and that she trusts me! Interior designing is just a hobby of mine and when I saw this opportunity to JUST DO IT FOR FUN, I jumped on it. I have time so why not do things I won't normally be able to do.

God knows the plans He has for us. He knew our desire and passion for arts, to stay creative, and to do things we love while we waited to adopt. He knows our longing to be parents but these past 2 years have been so incredible without a kid too!

When God calls us to have a kid (and I hope it's thru adoption), I know that these past 2+ years of these blessings in life is BECAUSE of this baby. We have a lot to be thankful for for this one baby we have been waiting for. Adoption isn't easy but sometimes God reveals and grants us peace and patience in no other way.

Mountain Rabbit Themed Birthday Party

party, design, diyJessicaComment
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I am excited to share photos of a first birthday party I helped decorate along with the help of my friends Kirstie, Tiffany L, and Tiffany I! The baby girls' name is Beatrix and the party was based off her favorite song, Mountain Rabbit. It was fun coming up with the concept for how the backdrop, welcome table, and seating decorations would go. Here's the mood board I came up with and had her approve before I started gathering and creating the necessary items.

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For the most part I'm happy with how everything turned out. There are things I would've liked to add and some other things to improve but I'm so happy to have the opportunity to create a party like this. Amazing photos from the event taken by Susie Bakonis.

It was fun being able to design the paper goods for her birthday as well. I hand wrote her name, made the raffle tickets, seating chart, and the activity sheets. My friend and I also stayed after set up to run the activity center - balloon making and face painting. It was fun for us to stay at the party and make sure the kids were having a blast too. It reminded us of our Fall Festival days at our church :)

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Future Church Library Concept

design, churchJessicaComment

The last room I designed a concept for is the library. I wanted this space to be filled with seating for studying and for working and I wanted to line one whole wall with a bookshelf. There's also a nook for a more comfortable reading space. For the walls, I did a quick vibrant geometric design.

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I was thinking about making a part of this space child friendly but in the end I decided not to because there would've been more factors to consider. I chose muted colors for the furniture to create a calming vibe. Though now looking at it, the walls are not calming. But I needed a quick solution in the 1 month we had to design this project. I also really like these concrete pendants above the tables. I also wanted the tables to be perpendicular to the wall to make the space look a bit wider.

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Just 2 weeks ago our church formed an AV and interior design team for the new building. The pastors finalized what each room would be utilized for and it's now our job to come up with a more concrete design. The project will take several months so there won't be any progress to share just yet. But there are definitely more designs to share in the future!

Future Church Children Room Concept

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Let's move on to the children's room upstairs! I wanted this space to be themed. So we temporarily chose a mountain theme. We didn't want a ton of color because we know this space would be filled with kids and colorful craft items.

Again, this isn't a set design. This room might not even end up being a children's room. But for the purpose of the video, we chose to design for a children's worship space.

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I wanted a stage to create hierarchy and a story-telling vibe. One side of the wall will hold all craft materials and miscellaneous items while the other side of the wall has an enlarged map of the world. For the seating, I wanted something that could work as a seat and as a table. So hypothetically, the bins can be taken out from underneath, flipped over and be used as a seat and the top part of the furniture would be used as a table. HYPOTHETICALLY! hahaa. The design on the ceiling acts as the cloud and creates dimension and interest in the space.

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So it's a pretty simple design that could use a bit more work. But for our timeframe and budget, this design did it's purpose.

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Future Church Lobby and Lounge Concept

design, churchJessica2 Comments

I am so excited about this space! This is a NEW space. I wanted to dream big without rules or limitations. To not be constricted by making a room a classroom just because it has 4 walls. In the end, will the space really look like this? Probably not but I'm glad these ideas are a part of the conversation. Also, a huge part of the design is also credited to the video contractor who also 3D rendered the necessary items and placed things accordingly with their design judgment.

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Getting church approval can be difficult. There are a lot of people which means there are a lot of opinions. Our lead and project manager gave us creative freedom on what to do with the space. We knew we needed to be realistic but we also knew we could challenge the modern church design. I knew exactly what I didn't want our church to look like so let's start off with that. If you do a quick search on church interior design you'll probably see images similar to this. I wanted to break away from this and focus on being a practical vibrant church.

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I approached each room by asking the following questions:

  1. What is this room going to be used for?
  2. Who will be using this room?
  3. What type of design and furniture will complement the purpose of the room (function before aesthetics)

After getting a general idea of the type of room I was designing, I created a mood board and a layout of the room.

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When I first saw the floor plan, this space was 2 separate rooms. I wanted to knock down the wall to open the space and create a larger walk way for our congregation before entering the multipurpose room. Our church has a focus on discipleship and I wanted to be smart about this space. But this idea will have to be part of a longer discussion. We presented this challenge to our contractor and he created this glass partition to divide the space. Giving us the option to use this space as one big room or as two rooms. And it looks amazing!

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I wanted this next room to be a space where people can meet up. Our church emphasizes discipleship and I wanted this space to be that environment for people...for small groups, individual meet ups, or to study. Another dream is to have a coffee bar or section. There's discussion on having another designated space for it but for now, it's in the corner of this room.

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We're still a long way into furnishing the interior of the building which is great! It gives us more time to think about the space and to be SMART about our decisions.

Concept Design for our Church Expansion

church, designJessicaComment
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Our church is in the process of building a new structure in our current land for many years. In the past couple of months construction has started and we see progress in physically expanding our church. In the beginning of the year, the building committee wanted to show awareness of the project to the rest of the congregation. I was asked to help with the interior design of the new building via a virtual video tour.

I was so excited to be a part of this team because 1) I love the church 2) I love design. I have no school background in interior design but to be able to be a part of this, I was for sure willing to do research and spend many many hours coming up with a design that makes sense, that's practical, and aesthetically pleasing.

GOAL
The goal of this project was to create a video for the congregation to see what the new building could look like and to raise funds to complete the building. We only had 1 month to design it and to go back and forth with our video vendor to create something we were happy with.

TEAM
Our church design team consisted of a project manager, a lead, and 2 designers. The other designer focused on the MPR while I focused on the rest of the rooms. We all gave creative input on the exterior of the building. Our church hired a contractor to make our concept and vision into a visual experience video. So our team's focus was to come up with a concept and look so our contractor can make the space come alive.

CHALLENGES
We had 1 month to produce something amazing and I was working on this project while still owning Snociety and working part time at my job. 1 month is a very short amount of time. We were showing this video to our church of about 1000 people. They could love it or hate it. This will be their first impression! Our design decisions within this 1 month could possibly change and is not set in stone. But whatever design choices we chose would stick with the congregation - whether or not our building could look like that in the end.

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Here's the video that took us 1 month! I'll be posting about the process of the rooms I designed and how I came up with each room's concept in the future weeks.

My 2 Month Sabbatical

thoughtsJessicaComment
 Photo by:  Musicgoon

Photo by: Musicgoon

In 1 week my sabbatical will be over! I wanted to protect my 2 months after Snociety by resting, refreshing, and refocusing. I went to Chicago with my friends, Disney World with Aaron and had a ton of spontaneous fun with my friends. I was able to rest and refresh but not refocus quite yet. These past 2 months were filled with so much home projects and fun stuff that I haven't been able to do art for myself - that would be the refocusing part. Ideally I would like 1 more month of saying "no" to things like freelance work and serving at church but I can't justify another month without feeling guilty and selfish. 2 months is already a long time to recuperate from 1.5 years of Snociety stress.

During my sabbatical I said I would only commit to working at my part-time job and designing Sunday church announcement slides which is only once a week. But it's hard to narrow my workload when I love to work and do stuff. I cheated my promise to myself 3x already but I have no regrets. They were opportunities I wanted to do and I didn't want to pass up. More to share on that later!

Sabbatical is a time to rest but I obviously define my sabbatical by doing more projects. Here are the things I had planned to do and the things I've accomplished in 1.5 months.

  • clean every inch of the house (but really...i have 3 more boxes to clear out)
  • container boxes for every room
  • get a nightstand
  • take cake decorating class
  • make car emergency kits
  • set up skin routine

Things I still need to do. It may not be done by next week but I will get it done somehow, sometime.

  • organize all photos
  • Hawaii trip video
  • SF trip Video
  • Kirstie bachelorette video
  • Chicago trip video
  • HK trip video
  • Shanghai trip video
  • add wedding photos to portfolio
  • DIY kitchen set
  • make a baby rattle
  • learn to do the splits
  • learn Korean
  • sell shoes
  • learn about US history
  • play piano
  • update portfolio
  • make a video portfolio
  • make game boards
  • make iPad stand
  • make yarn hanging artwork
  • prep baby stuff
  • take dance class
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    Snociety's Goodbye Party and the Unexpected Call

    restaurant, adoptionJessicaComment
    Video by Terrence.

    It's been 1.5 months since we closed Snociety and MAN OH MAN has it been a great 1.5 months. We had our Snociety Goodbye party on March 31st and it was great to see so many of our family and friends who came out to support us and to celebrate this part of our journey. Aaron and I discussed how it felt like our wedding. I love parties and I really enjoyed the day with everyone.

    But there's a story that I want to share that happened at the end of that party.

    At 6pm that night (after the party was over), I got a text from our adoption agency asking us if she can call us within the hour to discuss a potential baby who's ready to be adopted. My initial thought was "are you serious? We literally just ended Snociety and we MIGHT have a baby". I was in shock and in awe in God's timing for even the possibility of adopting that night.

    Our social worker called us to tell us about the situation of the baby. He was a newborn and was ready to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday (the next day). There were 2 circumstances we needed to be aware of regarding this baby. After the call we told her we'd pray about it and let her know in the morning if we are open in adopting this baby. The birthparents chose 3 families out of all the family portfolios that were shown to them so now it was up to the social worker to let those families know about the case to see if they were open to adopting this baby.

    The next morning we called back our agency and said yes we are open to adopting the baby. We were told that we'd receive another call that night if the baby will be coming home with us that night or if they decided to choose another family. Our lives has already changed in anticipation for this baby boy. Last April we almost adopted a 4 year old but the guardians decided not to choose adoption in the end. We knew that we had to guard our hearts since there were 2 other families that the birthparents could end up choosing. We also had to prepare ourselves in the case that the birthparents did choose us as the adopted family. We packed our car with a carseat on Sunday and decided on a middle name for the baby. We have the first name chosen but still needed a middle name for our first child.

    We were at church on Sunday and ended up skipping the worship service because we were so nervous and anxious. We went to McDonald's for lunch then went to Aaron's parents house to chill there while we waited for the call from our agency. I didn't want to talk to anyone that day. I was just so nervous and played so many different scenarios in my head. I took a nap that afternoon and felt my eyes fluttering as I slept. That night we also celebrated my brother and my birthday with my family. They knew our situation and was hoping we'd be chosen as well. We got the call in the middle of our dinner at 7pm and was told that the birthparents chose another family.

    I was okay. A part of me didn't want to get chosen because I knew I had a Chicago and Florida trip planned in the month of April. I also wanted a 2 month sabbatical to take care of our home, myself, and to focus on our marriage. So a part of me felt relieved that I would still get to vacation and take on my personal projects. The other part of me was wondering how amazing it would be to become a parent that night (it wouldn't be finalized and there are other things attached to taking a baby home but basically we'd be parenting). I knew it could be many more months or years until we adopt a child. We just really don't know.

    It wasn't until 6 days later I felt the weight of it and cried at home while cleaning. I was so sad. I wanted that baby to be ours and wish they'd chosen us. I tried to distract myself by keeping busy and watching tv. But even thru it all I cried the whole time. I couldn't even go to Aaron to tell him of my struggles. It was only until he came downstairs when he saw me crying that I told him how sad I was. Even though I knew this baby wasn't in God's plan for us, there's still a loss and sadness that comes with the possibility of adopting. That was the last day I cried about this case.

    We know what we're getting ourselves into in this adoption journey. It's not easy and there are so many unknowns. And if you know me, I don't work well with unknowns. I need a plan and I need to see what our future looks like in a year or in five. We're going to continue to trust in God's plan. This really showed us how God's timing is perfect and that only He knows what's best for us. I think God is preparing our hearts to be ready for our baby and I want to be as ready as I can be. Aaron and I can't help to think why God would lead us through the adoption journey, owning Snociety, being part-time at my job, and just being where we are at this moment.