Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apology for an over-abudance of bold and large text, among other things

Who's been really lazy about blogging lately? Oh yeah, that would be me!?! Sorry.. I told you before, if the Holy Spirit doesn't give it to me - I got nothing. So glad my friends do though!! Here are some facts from an entry I swiped from my friend Beth, who has 3 bio kids and now one adopted through DSS. Beth has been awesome about supporting us with our adoption. I am learning that once you are bitten by the 'adoption bug' and see the need, and feel the hurt for these poor children - it is impossible to keep quiet. Like I did for 14 of my adult years....

As I read on another blog somewhere - if we say we want to be a child of Christ, to have Him live and shine within us, we sign on to follow His commandments. To say, I like this one but not that.... are we truly being 'like Jesus'? He didn't tell us to fight homosexual marriage, he didn't tell us to fight against the Democrats stupid policies, he didn't tell us to build huge churches, to have the latest sound system and worship services to help draw in more people. All those things may be right, and do have their purposes.

But he DID say to: "welcome a little child in my name... do not look down on these little ones... feed the hungry.... give them something to drink..... invite the stranger into your home.... clothe the needy.... visit those in prison... release the oppressed.... be merciful... invite the poor into your home.... help the weak."

And those just came from His words in the gospels. Not taking into account all of scripture being God-breathed. I could go on for pages! With the exception of dropping a bag full of clothes off at Good-Will every couple months, which of the above, of Jesus' commandments, can I truly say I did regularly up until now?

Anyway - since I didn't have anything to say - back to Beth's blog:

Sad Statistics

Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

WORLDWIDE: if roughly 6% of born again Christians adopted ONE child, there would be almost no orphans in the world.

In the U.S. (remember, the rich folks):
if 0.14% of born again Christians in the United States adopted a child from foster care each year, there would be NO waiting children in our foster care system.

Still from Beth's blog:
"That is a fourteenth of ONE PERCENT of born again Americans.
This breaks my heart! There is no excuse. So often I have heard folks say, "I'm not called to adopt." And in their case, that may be true. But how can it be possible for 99.9% of "wealthy" born again Christians NOT be called to adopt??? To top it off, it is FREE to adopt a child from the foster care system, and the government often times will provide medical and monthly financial assistance for children adopted through the system. Older children adopted get their college tuition paid for through the government.

Please know, I am not condemning people who have never adopted, and have no plans of adoption. I simply wanted the statistics to be known. I am but one person, and as Noah often reminds me, we can't save them all. But I can give one child a home. I can make the difference in one child's life. For an orphan in a third world country it can be the difference between life and death. For an orphan in the U.S. it is the difference between having a stable, loving home, or growing up without experiencing the love of a family. I beg you to prayerfully consider... what has God called you to? And if it is not adoption, how can you help care for the children who so desperately need a family?"

Matthew 25: 45
"Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these, you did it unto Me."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Quote of the week:

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die
so that you may live as you wish.

- Mother Teresa

I think this encompasses more than just abortion, which is where our minds first go. Not only does it pertain to killing an unborn child ----- but what about the children in Haiti, in Ethiopia, in Rwanda?

Are we living as WE wish? Even though WE could do something about it? Even if just for one or two? God gives us blessings so that we can share those blessings. Or that's my two cents. What do you think? Comments are always loved!!!

Remember, to play along, also visit JC's blog and ponder other Wednesday quotes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Surprising myself

You know, I'm really surprised at my calm right now. I'm not jumpy, I'm not stressed, I'm not worried. We have $6000 due in a month or two and I'm o.k. with that. God's gonna handle it, one way or another.

The more weeks we wait (we've been on hold for a month, as of tomorrow, not that anyone's counting) - the more people jump in line in front of us. The more parents requesting gorgeous little girls that wont be my little girl. And I'm o.k with that. Cause those little girls aren't Olivia anyway. She will be ready and waiting when God predestines her to be.

But still it's hard. I'm on a yahoo group board with other America World moms (and a few dads!) and see their praises when they get their referrals, prayer requests when court dates near, and tears when they don't pass. One big praise is when a family is DTE (or done with paperwork and it is sent to Ethiopia). And while I am joyful that each family on our board is another orphan with a forever home waiting, it is still hard to see other's announce their 'spot in line' and know that's a month or more that you will have to wait.

But as I said, right now I'm o.k. I just hope that God keeps dishing out that peace for the long term. Cause I'm pretty sure there will be moments I'm not so calm and collected.
And just to brag on my wonderful husband - I had found a loft bed that I knew would be perfect for the girl's room. That would give them extra room to still play but also room for two beds. This loft bed I found was not inexpensive. Darn it... So I thought, I'll just stalk Craigslist for a year until it pops up. Or maybe a month. It came up and we were able to get it at a virtual steal. Tony knew it was something I wanted so it was a done deal the moment I mentioned it. He even got up early on Saturday (after he's gotten up early every day this week and worked really late) - to drive 2 hours to go and get it for me. And here is the final product: A super cute little girlie room with big girl bed and little crib just waiting to be put back together for little sister -

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Today's words from Tracy ala parenthesis:

My new friend JC from Perpetual Newlyweds started a new blog hop called Words of Wisdom Wednesday, (but I guess you already knew that.... )

Here's the deal -

You post some wise words, a quote you like, on your blogger. Then come linky back to her site. And we'll all take turns commenting on your quote. (that is, if I am intelligent enough to comment, I will try my best.. having three children has severely limited my brain capacity. I mean, I can only remember so many dates of projects due, times medication was given, various appointments, bills due, amount of cheese left in the cheese drawer - before every brain cell starts systematically blowing up. At this rate, I may be a vegetable by their 18th birthdays..)

What reactions we have, and all that. So we can share these words of wisdom. (or lack of, as is often my foot and my mouth have a love/hate relationship.)

(So my quote for the day: )

Charles Spurgeon - "Have you no wish for others to be saved?
Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that."

(Ouch. There goes about 75% of today's Christians by my estimation. Makes you stop and contemplate a bit, doesn't it?)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's up on the adoption front?

First delay, snafu, bump in the road.. one of many I am imagining.

With Tony's job change, that puts us in a holding pattern until we can figure out the income specifics. We had completed all of the homestudy except the financial part. The last word I just got was that we could keep moving with a w2 from his old job and estimates from the new job. So it looks like no finalizing in January. Which I'm o.k. with.

We are also thinking that the house will go off the market at the end of January. Even with our prayers for an awesome, God-thing-sell --- it didn't happen. Which I'm also o.k. with. I love my house and I really, really, really hate moving. Do I think we were wrong? That we misunderstood God's leading? No. We felt called to put the house up for sell to get the financing for the adoption, we had another house given and ready that same day, it felt like God. And I think it still was. But as I told Tony, I really think maybe it was like with Abraham and Isaac - God just wanted us to walk in faith and give it to Him as an offering of our obedience. And I pray that God provides that ram walking around the corner in the next couple months!

So here is where we are and what has to happen next:

1) finish the homestudy visits. the report has to then be approved by our homestudy agency, our adoption agency, and then us.

2) once it's certified by all 3, it is then sent to Immigration services (where we had our fingerprints taken) for approval to bring an orphan in-country. We then wait for that form, the i600a, which can take from 1-3 months. Wait.

3) 3 copies of our dossier (30 different official documents) and then mail it, with $7700, to adoption agency. (this is the ram I am hoping God provides) We would then be considered DTE or dossier to Ethiopia. Or waiting.

4) current wait time right now for an infant girl is 9-12 months. Although it can vary. So we wait.

5) receive referral of our baby girl. This includes her picture, background, any known health history. We can then accept/reject the referral. Send in acceptance with $5250. Wait. This is what I think will be the hardest stage. Having her picture and little face. Getting updates on her growth every month. Growth you are missing. Milestones you don't see. Knowing that she is your baby, but not legally yet. We can send care packages during this time and have other families traveling take pictures of her for us and love on her for us.

6) wait anywhere from 2-3 months (or more) for court date. 50% of families don't pass court the first time. Once she passes court she will be officially our child. Then wait some more.

7) after passing court, wait for travel dates, also dependent on when the US Embassy can accommodate your appt. in-country to apply for baby's visa. We were told today that it will now take a minimum of 4-6 weeks from passing court to travel dates due to some embassy changes. Wait for those dates.

8) travel to Ethiopia on 16 hour plane ride to get our baby girl. Travel/visas will be around $6000. Length of stay is usually 7 days but we may stay a few extra so that Tony can view Compassion's work and meet our Ethiopian family I met on my last trip.

9) Bring Olivia home as our daughter, from that day forward!

So right now, if current referral times are accurate after we are DTE, it would be around 1 year from that time. But Tony has assured me that Olivia will be home for Christmas 2010. We have heard that fewer families are adopting now because of the economy. And our agency has opened an additional transition home, which means more babies can be brought in from outside orphanages and be referred. So we'llll see. Did I mention I'm not good at waiting for things?

And here's why we're doing this... And what goes through the mind of adopting moms everyday... Heidi, 31 year old mom of 3 bio kids and 6 adopted, says it so much better than I.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spoiled Rotten

I am such a weanie. O.k., I admitted it. Spoiled South Carolinians who aren't use to having cold weather for more than a week at a time. It has been a month of cold! Do you hear me!?! A WHOLE month. (my apologies to any of my midwest readers as you curse me under your breath).

And today, I can't clean my bathrooms. Because our heat is again on the fritz. The powers that be that designed my multi-level, 3-bedroom house failed to put a system in that has enough power to push warm air from it's location to our bedroom at the other end. So every winter, Tony and I pull out the little space-heater for our bathroom to avoid me shaving off chill-bumps every morning. Cause believe me, that's pain for ya. Anyway, I don't want to dive into water-associated cleaning as our heat pump is wavering around 65 degrees. 65 degrees I tell ya!!! (and again, to those living in -14 degree weather, I really do feel for you).... Tony went out and bought another space heater. No kidding.

The whole neighborhood is falling apart! Just this past week, my friend and neighbor had to come and take a shower as his water heater only warmed enough water for a 2-inch tub-full for their 2 kiddos. Lack of warm water, lack of warm rooms, hmmmm. I think it's some kind of global warming conspiracy.

So my non-warm-water friend and I were talking about just how spoiled we are. And about how when little things happen on our front, it is a chance for God to once again show us, we're pretty darn blessed, or more accurately, pretty darn spoiled.

Last year, I read a blog from Compassion India bloggers with the following photo:
That's a teenage girl, taking a bath on the streets of Calcutta. And I fuss when I may have to take a bath in a private shower, in my own bathroom, with a heater outside the doors and a little shiver.

We fuss when our dryer is on the blitz and we are forced to trek our clothing to a laundry mat a mile down the road. Yet mothers worldwide are washing their clothing in a tub outside their house.

I add an extra blanket on the top of my super-thick comforter, as my bedroom is hovering around 65 degrees. Children are shivering in third world countries, sleeping on cardboard with thin fabric as a covering. No insulation but tons of cracks around the door and floors.

You know I could go on, and on, and on. About the shoes that just don't match. The clothing that is out of style. The cupboard with "nothing to eat".

I know there were a number of you who just skimmed the above statements. Heard it before... but until this year, I had not heard the verse saying that if you have heard, which we all have... if you have seen, which we all have ...

Proverbs 24:12
" Don’t excuse yourself by saying, "Look, we didn’t know."
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve."

It's not about guilt, and it's not about feeling bad for what we have. But it is about waking up to how blessed we are. And realizing that with that blessing should also be a realization of those less fortunate and a craving to help where you can. Whether it be in your neighborhood, your city, or half-way across the world. We've all heard others harp on helping the needy, but have you actually done anything about it? Besides writing out a check on Sundays and checking that off your to-do list. It's great to tithe but are you really getting the joy of seeing what your efforts are doing if you stop at that? Just saying...

Start with one, just one child, and see what a difference a little effort can make.
Sponsor a child.

Proverbs 3:27-28 "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "come back later; I'll give it tomorrow" - when you now have it with you."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pickle Jar Mom update & challenge

Remember about 4 months ago, (what seems like at least forever for us), when I wrote to tell you about my Pickle Jar mom? The mom of oh, 4 biological children, 3 adopted babies, and now one foster child. I have termed her my adoption super-mom. She has the BEST advice and wisdom.

Anyway, her blog about her family's obedience to God by putting out a simple pickle jar to collect change was really the starting point for my own adoption. We got our pickle jar out and followed suit. A couple days later, her pickle jar runneth over from a donation check to cover her adoption. So, her family devised a new plan - a "Pay it Forward" Adoption where they would still raise funds, but then give the funds to another family needing adoption monies.

So today, I read on her blog about a little girl named Mattie. 11 years old. Who spent her Christmas raising money for Mrs. Pickle Jar Mom's adoption fund. She fund-raised, asked for donations in lieu of all her Christmas gifts, wrapped presents for donations. My own kids have went door to door selling cupcakes for the American Cancer Society. I think they raised about $30. And I was so proud.

Did Mattie raise $30? Yes. Did she raise her goal of $1000? Yes. Did this 11 year old knock our socks off and raise $3000? A resounding yes. The Pay it Forward fund is now close to $10,000. Wow. Amazing how God loves to work through children isn't it? Mary. Daniel. Samuel. Jesus.

I pray that I can instill such a heart in my own children. I want to move their joy away from winning a video ball game, or getting something, to the joy you only get from giving something. I have to admit that my own heart really didn't soften until my 30s. What a waste of time, and potential!

Recently, I had someone write to tell me that when I was suppose to move, on the fund-raising front, that God would let me know. I needed to stop stressing and trying to make it all about me. Stop trying to take God's job on and instead, realize this is His work and give it back to Him. So just for discussion's sake - and not to seem like I'm using kids as free child labor --- but any ideas on how I can get my kids / other kids involved in having a heart for adoption, whether ours or someone elses? I have read of someone who sent out baby bottles to kids to have them help collect coins in 'bringing a baby sister to America.'

Any cool ideas?? I might even be able to come up with a prize for an idea we decide to use. Just to make things fun.How do we get those little hearts pumped up for something other than football?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Innocence (thank goodness!)

Those of you who know us personally know that my second child is the one who is most likely to make someone laugh. Most likely to get hurt in strange ways. And Most likely to leave his mother speechless. Can't you just see the mischievousness in his eyes? (And doesn't he look like Eminem? With a turtle shell on.. Scary)

So this past week, my sister and her family came to visit for the New Year's Holiday. Tony was working at the bowl game many states away and I loved having company to keep away any under 10 boredom for those 4 days. Anyway, we let the boy's stay up for the ball dropping on 2009 and as New York City was celebrating 2010 - yelling, screaming, and kissing each other -

Braeden breaks out in a huge smile and says "did you see that girl? She was having sex with that guy with glasses!!" What???????????? "She was having sex with the guy with glasses on!" Ohhhh, Miss Announcer girl kissed her husband who was wearing black rimmed glasses. So glad my 6, almost 7, year old still equates kissing with having sex. Hopefully the fear of getting a girl pregnant will keep him far from first base for a long, long time. You just keep thinking that buddy... although I'm not sure where you are getting your sex education from. Should I be worried?

And I'm not sure what he has against men in glasses....

Just to share, here is my artist with his snowman he made from cookie dough. Seriously?? How cute is that? Too bad we ate him 30 minutes later. Frosty was good with frosting.

One of the 4 of us I had them take for my husband's new desk at his new most awesome-est job ever. Thank you again Jesus. And to prove that I do get in front of the camera from time to time, if I have to.. Lately all those consumed Frostys have been getting together to protest, on my waistline and hip area. Hello New Year's diet, glad to meet you, we may be working together for some time now.