Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The best Christmas present I didn't have to pay for.

Since he was laid off back in January from a great job with Ryder Trucking, Tony has been working at a job he really couldn't stand. He wasn't being productive, he wasn't able to witness to his customers and share Christ's love with them. He wasn't able to minister to others when they were hurting or in need. See - that's the funny thing most of us don't realize about a successful job. It's not about the money, or the success - it's about doing GOD's work all day, every day; and just getting paid on the side. My two cents anyway.

Anyway, for about two months I had really focused my prayers on him being released from this prison of a job. For him to feel the joy of being out ministering to others instead of being stuck behind a desk being told how worthless he is. For him to feel success again, not for the money but for his happiness.

Last Tuesday my prayers were answered. And I was crushed.

Being laid off the week before Christmas, the day before we were to have our last homestudy. In essence, stopping the adoption dead in it's tracks. No job, no adoption until he had one. And besides that, if he were to take a job making any less than before, just to get us by, we would still have to stop for now. I could see the writing on the wall..

I had a temper tantrum. I'm sure God was very pleased. Or not. I got a gift and I didn't like it. Like a spoiled child. All those what if's? What if it takes him 3 months to get another job? What if he is forced to take a low paying job and it takes us 6 months, or even a year, to start the adoption process again?

I know God is leading us to adopt. I know God will bring Olivia home. But His timing is not my timing. 3 years from now may be his plan, but I don't like that. (stamping my feet like a brat).

I felt like I had miscarried. "You can still have another baby, just not right now."

BUT...... Tuesday night he had an old employee of his call him out of the blue. He hadn't talked to this friend in about 8 months. He told him about the job and he told him he would pass along the info to HIS WIFE who manages a Ryder-type trucking company.

She called Tony Wed. morning at 7:20 to tell him that just that LAST WEEK, they had created a position of outside salesman and had even talked about HIM filling it as they knew about his success at Ryder. He was the only one interviewing.

But, we still had to pray that the pay would be enough. For us to keep on with this homestudy uninterrupted, he would need to be making the same salary as he was. Tony met with the company manager and called me back celebrating like he had just scored the winning touchdown. He said that if he could have designed his own working conditions, it would be this exact job. The manager has the same business ethics and philosophy of the "customer comes first" and "relationship sells". They really hit it off.

Have you ever heard someone loose a job - get a job - all in the same week?? Much less in this economy??? GOD. 250% GOD. We have heard several people say, "you were very lucky." No - it's not about luck. Not in the least. Luck is an abstract. My God is solid.

And the pay? Exactly the same as he was making, car allowance and all. It's just that now he will be making 20-30% commission vs. the 5% he was making before. Pretty good deal. Tony says my prayers gave him the best Christmas present ever. Does that mean I can take back his other gift?

What's funny is that the morning he lost his job, I had emailed him the following verses that God had given me that morning. (Funny is how I forgot them so easily at 6:00 p.m. when he told me he had been laid off):

Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?"

Isaiah 43:5 "So do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east, and gather you from the west."

I love how when I told the above story to my sister Jerry - she replied in her wisdom that "God did lots of miracles through the generations like in Moses, Joseph, David...... he is still the God of you and me. He is on His throne and wants to make something in your life and in your generation and that is what you are doing. You see satan knows these plan of God, and want to interrupt, but he can't. Nothing is impossible to God."

How silly of me? I wish I had such faith as to not be taken off-guard at God's miraculous works. It is just so humbling when they are in your own life. To realize that even as He spins the planets in their orbits. Even as He controls the tide and the climate. Even as He creates a little baby in it's mother's womb. My God can still give me, his daughter, a perfect Christmas present. Amazing.

Addendum: in Tony's first 3 days on the job, he sold 2 transfer trucks. They weren't sure how to do the paperwork as it had been so long since they had sold a truck. Again, that wasn't Tony - that was God - helping to provide for our adoption, a bonus Christmas present!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our paid artist - Part II

So once again it is Christmas Card competition time. And da-ta-da-daaa: Seth placed Third place this year! And gets a whooping $10 bill!! Needless to say, I'm pretty darn proud. But he --- not so much. "I don't get it - how can I get First Place last year and only Third this year?" I told him that, "Remember, you have been spending a lot of time practicing sports and not as much time drawing, so maybe the winners just spent more time practicing this past year?" However, the board told me that they received about 5-600 cards so for him to place in the finals for the second year in a row, still pretty awesome.

But for the record, according to his dad, "his WAS way better than First and Second place." But we're guessing the "Merry Cherry Perry Christmas" may have threw him down to third. Can't say I've ever seen that greeting on a Christmas card...

And then finally, just to show you how cute my shirtless studs are, ribs and all - and prove to you that even in my bah-humbug mood this holiday season, my children are still having fun:
I'm not sure how the escaped monkey from the Columbia zoo got in my background, but we'll keep him anyway cause he's just too silly to throw back!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Perfect Princess Pampering Party

say that 5 times fast!!

Last weekend (yeah, I'm a little behind, to say the least) - we invited a plethora of pretty princesses to our pampered little pumpkin's party. O.k., I really will stop now...


Oh, I am so loving being a mommy of a daughter. I am so OCD when it comes to my kid's birthdays. O.k., let me take that back, I WAS so OCD when it came to my kid's birthdays that I would plan every perfect detail, decorations, games, cake, etc. All on a small budget I might also say. And usually our parties are at our house. We've had dinosaur themed parties, baby doll themed party, Star Wars, Little Einsteins...the list goes on and on. I say WAS OCD, as in the last couple of years I have become the tired/lazy mommy who #1 either bribes her kids with trips to Carowinds in place of a party. #2 pays a small fortune to rent somewhere where all details are taken care of. Or #3 is an idiot and plans a boys sleepover with a cake and ice cream. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Boys + pillow to fight with + sugar = a very late night.
(And yes, that is one girl, who was a sister that was sweet on my eldest and was sent packing when it got dark. No co-ed sleepovers at MY house, thank you very much.)

So back to Addison's 4th birthday. I flipped a mental coin between idiot? or mommy of the year? and threw her a princess party (which I guess you kind of knew by now..) for lots of giggly little girls who I assumed would be screaming at every opportunity. We invited the little girls in her class and of course, her 'sissy' Calista (my niece - who Addison has claimed as her sister because up to this point I have neglected to provide her with her own sister yet). Bad mommy.

So we, or actually, the ones under 4 feet dressed in princess attire and then took turns getting mini-manicures in shades of polish that anyone over the age of 8 really should never be seen wearing. After the paint dried, we started a round of tiara fittings, a little bling for the nails, and a dusting of glitter. The girls were SO CUTE YOU JUST WANTED TO EAT THEM UP! Add cake, forget the ice cream in the freezer, and apple juice and we were good to go!! The princesses were so well behaved that all 6 of them retired to Addison's castle and spent the rest of the hour tending to her various babies and Barbies. Without the tornado mess I might add.

And yes, I did make the cake. And yes, Tony still hates it when we take a picture of the cake - every year. But hey - I have to have something to bribe my kids into putting me into a good rest home when I get older. "I loved you so much I slaved for 3 hours over your special birthday cake every. single. year."

And they lived happily ever after.... The End.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

what I'm figuring out

Adoption mommies stick together.
America World mommies pray together.
America World mommies cry together.
America World mommies rock.
So glad I get to be an America World mommy.

(This mommy wants to win a huge bag of adoption 'stuff'.)

So this mommy is shameless enough to direct you to this all-purpose, one of the smartest American World Adoption mommies out there - Kari Gibson. (Her baby is one of THE cutest I have ever seen.) She's written several children's books. She has the most comprehensive blog/website regarding adoption and Christian parenting out there, and she's starting Ethiopian adoption #2. Go take a look!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just One

In October, I wrote about how our life had become a see-saw with it's ups and downs. And last week was a low one. Exhibit one: my Christmas post. If I didn't know it was God led, I would have already deleted that depressing thing.

But here's the thing - I can only write, really write, when the words aren't mine. When the Holy Spirit within me gets me going, that's when you get the good stuff. It's like a blog entry gets stuck in my head and I can't sleep until I get it out on the screen.

So, back to my low last week. Here I am - passionate for Compassion. Hurting for the plight of the orphan. Then I get on my see-saw....
  • Once I get passionate about something, I don't shut up as I am pumped about getting involved. I tell people.
  • Who then reject my message, usually. (9 children have been sponsored since I came back from Ethiopia. How many people do you think I have told my story to? How many people think us adopting from Ethiopia is a good thing??)
  • So then I feel down and embarrassed and don't want to spread the word anymore, but I know I should, as I know God would want me to.
  • And then I feel guilty because I know I should/could be doing more, but I'm not. I'm only one person, not making much of an impact, spinning my wheels, for what?
Now could you follow that rabbit's trail?

So I'm down, feeling like the crazy person I am. Feeling like, why do I hurt so bad for the rest of the world when others can go on with their lives so easily without thinking about it? Then we go to a new church on Sunday, last minute decision, and this is what the message was about:

Being ONE. Making a difference, as ONE. Working for the Kingdom, as ONE.

ONE man was brought in chains to Egypt and went on to save the Israelites from starvation.
ONE man asked to go build a wall, and the city of Jerusalem was re-birthed.
ONE man started the Salvation Army, and it ministers to millions around the world.
ONE man started Compassion International, and as we speak, over 1 million children are being saved from poverty. Not counting the millions before and after this point in time.

And a new ONE I wanted to share with you - Katie. A 21-year old in Uganda who felt called to go - and is now caring for FOURTEEN foster children. There's just one Katie. She didn't say, "I can't do that.... there is only one of me... I'm too young.... I don't have the funds...I need to live my own life first."

This is her blog with pics of her newest addition, the dramatic changes in this baby will amaze you. There is only one Katie, but there are 14 people that I can guarantee you, will be forever grateful that ONE girl said, "Yes Lord".

The pastor brought up the story of the sand dollars, where a little boy was working hard to throw them back into the sea before they died. When told it was a loosing battle and he couldn't make a difference, he looked up and threw one in and said, "I made a difference to that one."

It spoke right to me. God's perfect timing again. We are on the right track and I'm not fighting a loosing battle - cause I may just be one person, but I'm doing what I can, even if my family may think I'm a little crazy.

** There are between 143 and 210 million orphans now, worldwide, according to UNICEF.
** 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone.
** We want to make a difference to at least one.

So in answer to the question we now get so often - "why not just adopt from the foster system here, it's faster and cheaper??"

Just take one look at that precious girl on Katie's blog! We are adopting from Africa not because it's popular with the movie stars, and not because we just want a beautiful baby girl. But because our daughter is ONE of those babies, and we've been called to go and get her. Call me crazy. I'm fine with that.

2 Corinthians 5:13 "If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God." NLT

When you have time - please go to her blog and read this post. Oh.... my..... goodness. She blew me away just now so that I am speechless. A modern Mother Teresa.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ornament stories

So today was a better day - we visited a new church and really felt welcome and comfortable. Came home with a plan to spend the day laying around (or Sunday napping, per usual) and then decorate our trees. So see.... I told you my kiddos would not be neglected, even if their mommy is a bit scroogey.

Yes, I said trees. I'm a little OCD when it comes to my Christmas tree. I love my babies, but back off mommy's tree...

So they have their own. A Charlie Brown tree that we bought when we first got married and thought anything that was 'ours' was the most beautiful thing ever. Now - that tree just looks kind of pitiful undecorated. Not living room material, that's for sure. I think it was a KMart $20 blue light special, seriously. This year, the boys didn't even need my help getting it up and put together. They had a blast! With perfectly spaced balls - mommy's OCD must have rubbed off a bit... and a tear runs down my face.

They even went a little overboard and decorated "Turdy the Turtle's" aquarium. I assure you, Turdy is in no way at risk for electrocution.
Addison's little girley tree. Notice her nativity scene she set up. Baby Jesus is the main attraction, as he should be! Although they might want to get him back in the stable before he catches cold..
Anyway, putting the tree up did help my sour puss mood as every ornament spoke to me of Christmases past. A few years back (or 14) I decided to make my tree an 'angel tree' with all angel ornaments - but vowed to not have any plain Jane angels but angels that were meaningful, or unique, or really, really pretty. My mom has done an excellent job of finding Tracy-style ornaments for me every year.

So while putting the ornaments on, I ran across my very mostest favorite ornament in the whole wide world. My special ornament that I found at the Biltmore House and gets special tree placement every year. Is this not the cutest thing ever!! (her little legs wobble back and forth too...awwwww) AND how perfect is it that it has been my favorite for almost 10 years now? 10 years and I had no idea how special it would be to me this year.....
Special ornament #2 was also bought at the Biltmore House. This one in 1999. We had been married 3 years and as I bought it I told Tony, "we'll have a baby ON our tree this year and hopefully, a baby UNDER the tree next year." Worked like a charm!
Ornament #3 was bought in Trinity Church in 1997, on a trip to New York City with my mom and sister. A church near the Twin Towers, which we also went in that day. No explanation needed.
#4 is actually Tony's. I bought it on the same trip from Macy's New York. He hates it, I love it, that's all that matters.

So what ornaments really speak to you and what is their story??

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Celebration, or lack of

Is my mantel decorated with my beautiful nativity scene ? Nope.
Is my tree up, twinkling for all to see? Nope.
Have I even removed the pumpkin from the porch or the Autumn flag? Nope.

Why? I am usually fully decorated by the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, something has changed, and it 'aint good.

Before I get a barrage of comments of 'decorate for the kids', 'get in the spirit', 'the real reason for the season'. Know --- I know that. But here is what the problem is :
  • Christmas is about love - and I'm not really feeling or seeing it in today's world.
  • Christmas is about hope - that's hard to come by also when children are hurting, starving, or being killed in their mother's wombs.
  • Christmas is about peace - the world is at war, our citizens are at war politically, and our churches are split with in-fighting, gossip, and pride.
I think about Christ looking down on His church, His bride, right now - What does he see? Is he happy? Is he the proud father?

Or does he see self-absorption... prideful speech... arguing over theology... greed? His children fighting over which method of baptism is right?!? His children fighting over what music is sung on Sunday mornings ?!? His children fighting over whether it is permissible or not to have a glass of wine at dinner ?!? Modern Pharisees, more concerned with laws than love.

And society??? Getting up at the break of dawn, or even midnight to go consume. To spend outrageous amounts of money on our children. The latest and the greatest. Hearing other parents tell me about spending upwards of $2-300 on each child. Children that have every need, and most wants, met already.

And please don't think I'm judging, I am there too. Hustling in the early morning crowds. Giving my children good gifts that I know they probably don't need. But if you're already involved in showing Christ's love tangibly, this post isn't for you. But there has to be a point where we say, what is this all about?? And what am I doing about it???

I heard that once you visit a foreign country, or jump in the chaos that is adoption, you are forever changed. And maybe that's it. My sickness. But how, Lord how, can we spend the amount of money we do on toys, on treasures that will moth or rust, when there are babies shaking, dying in rags? Children sucking marrow from bones for nourishment as they have no other form? Mothers making cookies of mud to feed their children, something to trick their bellies into thinking they are full? How can we not see? How can we not care?

I know that 'even as a father gives good gifts to his children'.... Christ did not condemn us for loving our family. But when it is all about us, and we have nothing left over, and only credit card bills to show for it, what have we given?

"I just can't afford to give this year."
"We're just not financially able to help."
"We have so many commitments." I've said these more than a few times this year and season. Weren't those just lies to get someone off my back?

It's not fun. Having your eyes opened. It's not fun, seeing blind around you. So please don't judge me if I can't celebrate what we have done to Christ's birth. How we have mangled it beyond recognition. And know, my children will feel the joy of Christmas. They will know it's real meaning. They will laugh, go on our normal Christmas outings, play with their new toys, knowing none the difference. But I pray, this year and every year, that I will keep their eyes open. That they will not turn blind.

I was told, I can't save the world. And that's true, and that hurts. But someone came that did. And it is Him I celebrate this season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And the winner is........

Our adoption pickle jar went from this in October (sad isn't it?):

to THIS :

to this!!!

Congratulations Beth & Noah ! They also happened to be the first ones to contribute to our adoption fund and have been so encouraging with their advice and prayers. We are so happy that God saw fit to have them win the print!

Also, thank you so much to Marie Kluttz for her donation of her beautiful work for our raffle. AND for the great idea! And to everyone else who has donated $5 to $1500, we are so blessed to have wonderful friends and family like you! Thank you!

Overall, we have now raised $4570 for the adoption. With a huge chunk due around Feb./March, we can't wait to see what God does next!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Masterpiece in progress

Oh, how I would love to tell you that I feel just like a newly pregnant woman (minus the throwing up of course).

How I would love to tell you that Tony and I are skipping down this path to adoption arm in arm, singing songs like "Cinderella" or "Butterfly Kisses". But just the thought of Tony skipping kind of makes my forehead wrinkle.

But here's the real picture - misunderstandings, misconceptions, miscommunications. (I would kindly like to suggest we throw away the prefix 'mis' at this time please). Being straight with you - this is a lot harder than we thought it would be. We went into this knowing that trials develop perseverance, we just didn't realize that by trials, God kind of meant more than a sprained ankle or bounced check. He meant more like arrows being thrown at you from every direction when you least expect it.

The Bible speaks 19 times of caring for the orphan or fatherless. It's a mandate. Which means it's a big deal to Him. Which means It is His plan. This week, I finally threw up my hands in emotional exhaustion and declared that there was no way, after the ordeals of the last month, we could last another year and a half, under these pressures. That's when I finally got to the point God wanted me to be. Dependent on Him and not me. In my brokenness, I finally woke up and saw the light.

All in one evening, I cried till my eyes were red and puffy and then -

God spoke through a CD a friend gave me that night, a song by Devin Williams with the words: "I live my life for you cause you gave your life for me. At your feet I bow and worship. You are the one I love, you are the one I need. Into your hands I surrender, I surrender all to you."

He spoke through a perfectly timed email from a true Proverbs 31 woman, whose never even met me - "Satan will not be allowed access to you for the duration of every minute of this process, I promise. He's just got to try for awhile to make you doubt your decision, and he'll try some more with each major hurdle you cross. God allows it because He knows that through it you will learn to depend on Him more."

And then He spoke in a random conversation with a friend about how stupid the Israelites must have been to see the plagues hit Egypt, the Red Sea split in two, the cloud and fire following them day and night. And then for them to still - turn to something as dumb an idol as a golden calf. They had God right in front of them and still felt they needed to try to make things work on their own.

Hmmm, later I woke up and realized. I AM AN ISRAELITE. I saw God provide every dollar we needed for my trip to Ethiopia last year. I saw God provide every dollar we needed, in exact amounts and order we needed them for the first phrase of this adoption. What right do I have to set up my own idol, myself and my own performance, to put before Him? Adoption is a work of art, designed by God. To bring together children and parents designed for each other from near or far. I just have to have faith that this is His work of art, not mine. And He will work out the colors, the techniques, and the brushstrokes all in His time. I am only the paintbrush - here only as an instrument to do His perfect will. But then I am the one who gets to cherish that masterpiece in my own home, and what an amazing gift that will be.
Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart."

Friday, November 20, 2009

An American Big Sister

I just feel like bragging a little today on my amazing Ethiopian little sisters. First Eyerusalem. Whom I met on my Compassion trip. Words cannot describe how awesome this girl is, or how proud of her I am. Jerry was a Compassion child who has just graduated with her engineering degree. Amazing... Isn't she just beautiful???

Jerry used part of her small monthly stipend from Compassion to help start a ministry called Moriah. This is a picture of her with 3 of the boys from her home. Boys who were found living on the street. Stop and take that in, these boys were.... on.... the..... street. Can you even imagine? Moriah provides the boys with a safe place to live, a caretaker, clothing, food, and an education. It baffles me how when I speak to others here in America about helping a child, I so often hear "Well, maybe later. We just are too cash strapped right now." O.k., I understand. I use to think the same way. But now here is a girl, from the projects, who receives a small allowance from Compassion once a month. And used part of it to start an orphanage. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it??

Jerry helping another Compassion project. Building a youth center I think. Building a youth center??? Yeah, I would soooo be able to do that. Or not.
And my dear sis Masresha. Masresha was also a Compassion child who graduated with her degree in accounting and is now helping a mission's organization in Africa. Masresha was my translator on my trip and again, words can't describe the heart these girls have. Masresha is using her salary to help put her two younger sisters through school and eventually college. In Ethiopia, you have to pay school fees to get an education, something many families can't afford. So while Masresha's sisters were not Compassion assisted, in a way they are, through Masresha's faithfulness.

Masresha helping out at a Compassion project. Um, she graduated. So she's just sharing Christ's love with other little ones.

Former Compassion child, now accountant, and now wife!! Congrats dearest Masresha!!! So beautiful!!!

Make a difference in the life of a child. You never know how many people the ripple effect will touch. I am so blessed to know that these beautiful women are so excited about my new Ethiopian daughter. Their prayers mean so much to me. And it amazes me when I hear of all the people they have told our story to and have praying for us in Africa. I can't wait to be able to see them again in a year or so. And look forward to being able to assist Olivia in keeping in contact with her 'family' in her home country. God is so good in his amazing planning.

Psalm 68: 5-6
"A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in His holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families..."

Proverbs 22:6
"Train a child in the way he should go
and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Monday, November 16, 2009

If you can't sayin nothin' nice...

don't say nothin' at all. So that's why my blog has been so quiet. I have read several Christian fiction novels which talk about Earth being a war-zone with evil/good beings, unseen and fighting it out all around us. Waging war over our very souls and trying to upset or strengthen any work of God that we are trying to put our energies into. Let me just say that if that's so, I'm pretty sure that my guardian angel is needing a break to catch his breath.

I have one in the editing stages that served as a vent for my frustration but in the meantime, here is my lighter post for your viewing pleasure. I know I'm late for "Das Not Funny" Friday, but let's just pretend.

** Braeden was home sick from school all week last week. And with Tony having taken off an entire week 2 weeks before with Seth, it was my turn. One of the days, he tells me he has made up a new number. Oh really? What is it? "Derf". Oh, and how many make up a derf? "Two". And he starts counting without missing a beat - "One, Derf, Three, Four.... Twenty-one, Twenty-derf, twenty-three..." Where does he get this stuff? At least I know he can be successful in a career as a politician, where making up numbers has become an art form.

** Braeden absolutely, positively loves our neighbor and friend Brent who named him "Popsicle" when he was about 2 (because you never saw him walking around without one in his mouth).

#1 because Brent has a huge garage where old toys go to die. And he lets Popsicle go shopping whenever he wants in said garage. Thank you Brent.

#2 because Brent does BBQ competitions. And lets us have left-overs. I think I may just love Brent too. But it's funny now - Popsicle loves ribs. Which I have never, ever made for him. But he'll just ask his buddy "hey Brent, when you gonna make us some more ribs??" My poor child is now begging for food. Sweet.

Anyway, one day last week Braeden asks Tony - "if we don't get the money for Olivia's adoption, how are we going to pay for it?" Tony looks him over and says jokingly "well, you look kinda healthy. Maybe we could just sell you." To which Braeden breaks out in a HUGE smile and smirks "yeeaaaaah.... Misser Brent." So glad to be loved little buddy.

Also as a side on the adoption front: We have started our homestudy visits. Our first one lasted from 6:30-10. No rabbits were shot on the rabbit trails that we ran down that night. It was mainly an informative session with all the ins and outs of potential problems, paperwork, etc. Our social worker is super nice and very easy to talk to (obviously).

We also received our fingerprint appointment for our i600a. An $830 piece of paper from Citizenship and Immigration services that will give us permission to adopt an international orphan. I thought we would have to wait until the homestudy was finished until we got the appt. And I had heard it took a while to get, but we will be on our way to Charleston (closest place) next Monday to our appt.! So not only are we starting to move, but we are moving fast it seems. Hopefully all our paperwork will be on it's way to Ethiopia by March or early April at the latest. But we still have to raise about $6000 more before then to pay our international fee. The international fee pays for Olivia's care, medical needs, lawyers, court costs, etc. So if you feel led, 'chip in' now before our raffle closes on Dec. 1st to get a chance at winning the artwork.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Almost funny - but not at all

Writer's block, busy life, pessimism - call it what you want but I've had no nuggets of wisdom or things just to make you go 'ahhh' recently so I've abstained from boring posts. Until now...

I've spent the day in bed with a 101 fever so I choose today to write. Makes no sense what-so-ever. But here goes it, my life in the last two weeks:

- Two Saturdays ago, Seth has a baseball tournament 2 hours away, wakes up with a 101 fever. But even as I am telling the men of the house, "we can't take him with a fever", my child is putting his uniform on and saying he feels fine. We call the coaches who tell us "well, if he wants to play...." So we head out with him doped up on ibuprofen. Oh sweet medicine, you have become my very bestest friend. I learn that I have a lot to learn with being a sports mom. Dope 'em up and keep going. "My foot is falling off? Wrap it good, give me two aspirin, and let me get back out there! "

- Sunday morning it is up to 103. This time mom puts her foot down. Or the fact that he couldn't sit up or make cohesive sentences. So we missed the second day of tournament ball.

- Sunday night my grandfather passes after a long battle with Alzheimer's. We delay going home to N.C. until we see how Seth is doing.

- Monday I take Braeden into school and stay for his awards day. I don't even bring the camera as I figure if I do, and he doesn't win anything, I will look like a dork. Instead, he makes his mom look like a dork without a camera as he wears out a new path up and down off the stage. Here is my little smarty pants, who takes after his mom, of course:
Yes my friends, that would be every award available to a 1st grader but one. Two kids were chosen for awards out of each class. My child swept the boards! Little show-off.

- Tuesday we head to N.C. for the funeral with Seth still feverish with a nasty cough. Nebulizer in tow. We hit Rock Hill and the engine starts giving us trouble with Tony not being able to get it to go past 40 MPH. Thank goodness a Ford place was in his sights and we pay $127 to have a diagnostic run. To find out that it is only the air filter which had been shoved in too far. $127 for a $6 air filter. I credit Obama-nomics.

- Seth is sick until the following Monday (that would be nine days) when his cough sounds even more crackly and he is struggling to breath. Back to the Dr. for an antibiotic. (we are now up to $120 in co-pays)

- Tuesday Braeden's PE teacher asks me what is wrong with his finger. It's only completely blue and swelled to twice it's size. With what looks like a huge blister all around it. So, back to the Dr., who has to drain it and send off a culture as it looks like MRSA. Just FYI, the Mayo Clinic site description, first paragraph : "MRSA can be fatal." This kid - if it is not a fishhook in the eye, it is a finger ready to fall off...... that he neglects to tell me about. The test comes back positive for bacteria and he is put on a high powered antibiotic, three bottles to be completely taken over the next 10 days. Copay total now at $160.

- And today, I'm running a fever. Like I said, it's almost funny, but not really. The high point of my life is getting a call from our homestudy worker who will be coming out on Thursday for our first visit. It's sad when the high point would be that that will force us to actually clean this house, which has been sorely neglected in all the excitement. I'm almost giddy..... must be the ibuprofen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Fall 'Yall

Addison didn't want to hold MY hand. But then decided in the dark, running to a house and then yelling "mommmmmmy" to quickly find my warm fingers was pretty comforting.
Looks pretty good for a kid who had run a 102-104 temp all week. With very little food in 7 days (no flu thank goodness), he still had a good time tonight. Even with no energy.
This one ALWAYS has a good time. Wherever he goes. And especially if sugar is involved.
My baby is looking so big.
And a little bit more and more like her mommy. 'Bout time!!!
Happy Fall to All!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An apology - sort of

I feel like all I have been doing is asking for donations. Wanna sponsor a child? Wanna buy a raffle ticket? Check out our 'ChipIn' donation? Buy some personalized art?? Donate through PayPal? and now.....

wanna buy some coffee?

I'm hoping I can get 'ya on one front or another! Just Love Coffee is an internet store that just opened this week. The concept designed and brought about by an adoptive father of two beautiful Ethiopian girls. For every bag of coffee, or every T-Shirt, you purchase from our 'store', we are mailed a check to be deposited into our adoption fund. And if you have never tried Ethiopian coffee, you truly don't know what you are missing! I liked coffee before, I LOVE Ethiopian coffee now. Just click on the logo to be taken to our storefront. And I know it's a little more expensive than Starbucks bags, but it is also a charity. With proceeds going to both us and the orphanage where his girls were taken care of. So please pass along the website to any other java-addicts you may know.

And now to the apology:

A foreword - Adoption is expensive. And what you may not know is that the Ethiopian government frowns on all fund-raising. So once we get hot and heavy into this process, like around the time we submit our dossier (with a check for $7700) - I will have to pull all mentions of donations and fund-raising from my public blog. So I'm just trying to get the word out now that we need help, while I still can.

And the apology - I'm sorry I have to ask for help, but I'm not sorry I am asking. Does that make sense at all? I'm asking for help because I know the joy that we get from helping. True joy that lasts, unlike the joy felt after buying a new purse. Or the lingering good feelings from a movie we took our kids to, that is forgotten after a week when they are asking to go to the next blockbuster. True joy comes from the Lord:

** I know how awesome it feels to have a little 9 year old boy in Colombia tell me, through our help, he may grow up to be a preacher. A little boy in an area of child militia and drug wars.

** I know how awesome it feels to have a little 9 year old girl in India write to me simple words like "elephant. tiger. cat. monkey." A little girl who 2 years ago didn't know her alphabet. In a country that doesn't value women or an education. She's also growing her hair out to wear the ribbons we have mailed her.

** I know how awesome it feels to know a widow in Ethiopian has her own store and can support her two children through our help. A widow who is being exposed to Christ in an area where only 10% are Christians.

** I know how awesome it feels to see my own children praying for and loving these children on the other side of the world.

** I know how unbelievably sad it is to think of the infants, the little babies, left to die in gutters or at the doors of the orphanages by neighbors or distant relatives. Babies 5 months old that weigh as much as an American newborn.

**And I can only imagine how awesome it will feel to bring back a beautiful little girl with shining dark eyes from a land of poverty and pain. And hold her up for you to see. And tell you thank you for helping to bring her into our family. And to know that only through God, are we able to do this wonderful work.

I just told Tony last night. I get so uncomfortable hearing others tell us, "it takes a very special person to do what you are doing." No - it takes a sinful, normal person. But a person who selfishly wants to see where God leads us. Who selfishly wants to snuggle up to round chubby cheeks and feel the joy of being a new mom again. Who selfishly is excited to see how much joy we can soak up in the coming years from little Olivia. So, I'm sorry I'm so selfish. Don't ya want to get in on it???

  • Be selfish enough to get tons of joy from saving the life of a child with Compassion...
  • Be selfish enough to drink tons of unbelievable coffee from JustLove...
  • Be selfish enough to order a great Christmas or baby shower gift with no shopping involved...
  • Be selfish enough to donate towards paying the Ethiopian country fees for the care of Baby Olivia and hopefully, in about a year, know you helped to bring a healthy smile to her and her mommy's faces!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Fair Splurge

It's funny - in the 5 years that we have lived here, my poor children have been the "onnnnnly kids who aren't going to the faaaaaaaaair". Only - I'm sure. Partly because their mommy is so cheap, and partly because their daddy is a tad bit obsessive compulsive about cleanliness and can't stand the thought of our children holding fast to handlebars which have been touched by at least a million and two children before them, all actively wiping their noses with their palms. All in the midst of cold and flu season . I just try not to think about it. ( I am definitely a 5 second mom, "go ahead and eat your sucker sweetie, you only got a couple bits of dirt on it when you dropped it. Just flick 'em off.")

So this year, as one of our best friends unfortunately hurt her back - we inherited her family's tickets to not only the fair but also the Toby Mac concert. Sweeeeeet.

And may I say, we......had.......a.......blast!! We, as in me and the kids. Tony was still a little put off by the entire fair atmosphere. I think it's a childhood phobia or something.

The kids helped pay for their ride-every-available-ride 16 times bracelets with money their Nana and Papaw had given them and we commenced to see how many rides we could conquer. They had so much fun. And were soooooo sweet with little Addison. Taking her along by the hand, helping her to get in the rides, making sure they were seated together vs. with strangers. They cracked me up. I am really still baffled how all 3 made it home without swallowing some sort of insect with all the screaming, shrieking, and smiling going on at, at least, oh, 1.5 miles an hour. Unfortunately, (but probably fortunately), I was the one to go head to head with an insect as I laid my arm down on the stroller handle and squashed a yellow jacket. Poor little thing never saw me coming. I thought bees were all dead by this time of year!

Toby Mac was awesome - and Addison had so much fun waving her hands in the air and yelling "woopsa-daisy, woopsa-daisy" along in beat with the crowd.

However, after about 20 minutes of holding a gyrating toddler up in the air with a swelled and throbbing arm, I was ready to go. So Tony and I switched off with him going to take a tired and cranky Addison home and me staying behind to make sure the boys got their $23 dollars worth of rides out. ($23, seriously?? Does it cost that much to hire your workers at minimum wage?) I have to say though, watching their expressions when they got off the "Spaceship 4000" (reminder: spinning spaceship where gravity staples you to the side until the floor floats out from under you) = Priceless. Totally worth the 365 dollars we probably spent on funnel cake and caramel apples. Cause mommy couldn't splurge on tickets that weren't free, but funnel cake - now that's a completely justifiable expense!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Words Needed

I'm pretty much brain-dead at the moment in regards to my writing skills so thought I would let other people speak for me:

First - my little buddy in Colombia, Hector. We have been sponsoring Hector through Compassion International since he was 4 years old. Toooo cute. We received this letter (in his own handwriting) today:

"I wish that peace and love of God be always with you and your family! I am so glad to be writing you again! In the school I've been learning English and I have already know how to say some words. Do you speak Spanish? Which words do you know? Do you like my country? In the project I am learning about Jesus and the Bible stories. I memorized the Psalm 100:3 and Proverbs 14:30. Have you ever read them? My tutor says that I am going to become a preacher of the gospel and that I am going to teach the Bible very well! Do you like to teach? Please pray for my family! Hugs and Kisses to you! I drew something for you with all my love. I hope that you like it! I love you so much! Blessings! Love, Hector"

No words needed but : Compassion works. Compassion changes lives. What are YOU waiting for? Sponsor now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Waiting (and Celebrating)

Qoyta = "waiting" in Amharic (the language of Ethiopia). A beautiful friend of mine sent me the gorgeous necklace above with that word on the front and Matthew 18:5 "whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me" on the back. She wrote that since women who are expecting a child through adoption do not have any physical signs they are expecting - by wearing this pendant, a waiting mother can share her great news - that her family is about to grow through adoption.

What a perfect day to open up her little package in the mail - cause today I am (as in the words of the bank teller) a "a little bubbly". I came home today at lunch to find not only my necklace package, but also a typed manila envelope with our address. On the inside was a white envelope with the words, "God bless you and your family". Inside was a bank cashier's check for $1500!!!!! With anonymous written in the subject line. THANK YOU MR. OR MRS. ANONYMOUS!!! So today, I AM a little bubbly. At my next visit, I told them I wouldn't be worth anything as I felt like I had just taken a pregnancy test and gotten two lines!

We ALSO had a phone call from a close friend who told us he had just won $500 in an office football pool and felt immediately God telling him to give it for Olivia's adoption!

Just to sum up the pure precision of God's plan - here are the amounts needed in the order and amounts.

1) Home study - $1000, given first by my family
2) Apply with America World - $1500, given today anonymously
3) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - $830, in our chip in account right now, $800
4) To finish home study and receive report - $500, given this evening

Who in this world can say our God is not real? That those who believe in Him are believing in a fairy tale? That the prayers of his children go unanswered?

Thank you all so much for not only your donations, but first and foremost, your prayers. I know we will be on this see-saw for the better part of the next two years, but just having everyone pushing us on and encouraging us means so much.

SO - application to AWAA goes out this week and we should be assigned our personal case worker and get started on our dossier as quickly as possible.

In the meantime - I'm expecting, or waiting, or paper pregnant - for real this time!!!! My joy is just bubbling over!

(And the shoes in the pic - those are my absolute favorite brand Addison had when she was little. So soft and cute, but I sold most of Addison's pairs and only saved a few. I found this pair a couple weeks back at a consignment sale and couldn't help but to get them. So they are sitting, and waiting, on my dresser for me to look at and smile at everyday. Yeah, they may be pretty dusty by the time Olivia gets here!!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Playing on our see-saw

We had our first call to show the house - UUPPPPPP!!!
Freak out and run around like mad woman and children throwing every stray item into Daddy's car trunk - DOOOOOOWN!!
Come back an hour later and they are still here - UUUUUPPP!!
Get the offer the next morning, $16,000 less than asking AND want us to pay $5200 in closing costs (did my house make you high???) - DOOOOOOWWWWWN!!

Finish all paperwork and write check to mail in for home study to start - UUPPPP!!!
Look at our poor, pathetic pickle jar and the stray raffle tickets in the bottom - DOOOWWWN!!
Get two, too-generous donations from friends this morning and a letter I will be putting in our scrapbook for Olivia - UUUUUPP!!

So right now I'm up. Yeah! Thank you so much to you, my old friend, that wrote my letter - as it came on a rainy migraine morning when I needed it so much. To those of you who continually are encouraging us in this journey and pressing us on - your support has been invaluable.

SO - we have now just sent off the $1000 for the home study to begin. We have done one required internet training on cultural diversity, and have one more to start (8-10 hours long, so we're (Tony's) procrastinating on that one). I'm going to start posting our dates and amounts spent in the side bar just because I have really been encouraged and informed on other adoption blogs by such lists. It really does show why your support (both financially AND personally) is so invaluable when you see all that is involved in trying to heed God's call to bring home a new family member.

And after this morning - we are at $915 towards the $1500 needed to start the dossier process by officially signing our application with America World. That's only $585 to step one more step up the ladder!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And keep spreading the word, anybody need a raffle ticket???????????

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Framed Print for Raffle

I picked it up yesterday - it is so nicely framed! And would make a great Christmas gift for someone. And just FYI, my family donated $1000 to our adoption efforts and didn't request their 250 chances at the art - so you'd still have a good chance of winning it! Thank you to all who have donated so far! We are starting the homestudy process this week! Second step forward and a long way to go.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Africa?

For the adoption, it was recommended I read "There Is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene. It is the true story of a poor widow in Ethiopia named Haregewoin who is ready to give up her life when she stumbles into the job of being a foster mother for what started as 2 children and quickly grew to over 40, and then to 80. In a small little compound mind you. She started housing the children and babies in railroad cars on her property with no government support or assistance. Here are some of the excerpts from her amazing story:

"Who is this?" Haregewoin cried in surprise. (while looking down at a small infant wrapped in a blanket)
"We found her," said the taller officer. "She was left on the road, under a bush."
"Sometimes when Haregewoin opened the door of her compound, she discovered that the adult who had banged for attention had already fled, leaving behind a small child besieged by flies, squatting in soiled diapers."
Heregewoin greeted a spectral young woman in a dusty skirt. Her face was drained, her eyes were dilated, and she seemed disoriented. With an abrupt move, she displayed a pretty curly-haired boy nestled within her dirty shawl. "Please keep my baby I'm going to die he is twenty days old" she said breathlessly. Haregewoin accepted the baby and prepared to ask the girl - no more than nineteen or twenty - to come into the house and have a cup of tea. Perhaps she could be assisted in keeping her child; with just a little help, a few coins, some food, she might gain a footing in the neighborhood. But the girl turned away instantly and dropped. Her breast had burst open, Haregewoin saw in horror. She fell sideways onto the rocky road. Haregewoin screamed for help. The two oldest boys ran to lift her (she weighed nothing!) and bring her into the compound. She was dead... The dying mother had given every cell of her being to the baby, but had been too weak to speak his name.
Haregewoin stood on her outer threshold early one morning drinking a cup of coffee.... then Haregewoin glanced down and discovered a cloth-wrapped sleeping newborn beside her wall. She was flabbergasted. "Oh, dear God, oh dear God," she cried, gathering the child. "Thanks, God, thanks, God," she said, discovering the child was still breathing. In the coming months and years, she wold find another newborn outside her door, and another, and another, and another.
"You see that one?...... She was a bushy-haired little girl of about six waiting at the table for lunch.... She was an only child. She and her parents shared one bed. She slept between them. She woke up one morning and discovered both her mother and father had died in the night. Every day and every night, the death toll mounted, and more children staggered out of their houses and villages in fright and hunger and grief. Behind the ghoulish depletion - of families, of villages, and of farming communities by AIDS - the well-known grim reaper of famine leered. Famine was made more dangerous and powerful by communities too weakened by illness to prepare for it and to survive it in the old ways."

Stories like these in this book only solidify my intention to adopt from Africa. While I am still getting off easy, Tony is taking even more flack from co-workers who just don't understand what compassion or even goodness is. I wont even post some of the crude comments he has received. And I'm sure this is just the beginning of the rest of our lives. The gist of it is - why don't you adopt a white kid? and why don't you adopt from America? Why?

I read a wonderful post today about international vs. domestic adoption and those who adopt are drawn to the perfect, God-designed place and child for them. It was perfect in timing and content. We both needed to hear that God didn't call us to take the easy, the cheap, or the quick road. He called us to take the road he wanted us, the Wages, to be on.

And what resonates with me, is I know others are thinking this journey is too expensive. Especially for a family of 5. I know others are thinking that this really isn't missions and is just us trying to be selfish and get another cute little munchkin. But how can you look at these little faces and think God would not be talking about them when he says:

Matthew 10:42
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

James 1:27
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and
widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

So you know, it may take a long time before we see Olivia's little face. But if we don't go to get her, who will? Even if she isn't born yet, God knows who she is and knows she is our daughter.

One baby sounds simple when I compare myself to this saint who has already taken in 6 orphans, has 2 of her own, and is praying about a 9th as they just found out one of her sons has a brother still alive. AND, they are missionaries. Which means I imagine they are making a lot let less than a speech therapist. And in her blog she said:

"Also, we are seriously praying about fostering/adopting Ethan's brother--he is around six years old. Before you call us crazy, please remember the words of the Lord, "He places the lonely in families." The boy is currently living with an uncle who already cares for eight other children, most not being his own. Because of twenty years of war and devastation, the people are just beginning to re-farm and re-plant, however, they have very little to work with as far as tools and supplies. The people have nothing. They survive off of maize and millet--Zane said there is no fruit to speak of and very few, if any, vegetables. There is no opportunity for education. And most importantly, the village is full of spiritual death. We believe that adoption is evangelism and that each child we bring home has been redeemed for this purpose, to know God! Pray with us. Believe with us. And trust with us that God wants to do much more than we could ever think or imagine."