Ringing In a New Year

I think it’s only natural to arrive at the start of a fresh new year and take inventory.  Where have we been? Where are we going? What is God calling us to in 2015? Did we follow him faithfully in 2014? Are we following Him faithfully today?  I’m not really a “resolution” type of girl.  I learned years ago that the likelihood of me breaking any resolution I make on or before January 5th is almost a surety, and since I don’t want to bring shame on myself so early in a new year it’s best to not “resolve” to do or not do anything.  I do however, think over the past year as well as the one ahead to try and figure out where this crazy roller coaster I call my life is headed.

First of all, 2014.  Ten years from now, will this stand out as a year to remember fondly?  Yes and no.  We started out the year as we did the two before it, asking the Lord to make our family of two (plus two rascal dogs) into three.  There was such a hope that this would be the year our Christmas card would include a little one, and that we would join the ranks of our friends with a sweet introduction of a new family member on the all-important Facebook post.  Of course, there were other hopes for the year, probably not too dissimilar from all of yours: lose weight, get healthy, pay off debt, be more organized…  Well, the Christmas card was mailed with just the two of us (and said rascals).  Skinny-nope, healthy-probably not, out of debt-we’re Americans for the love, organized-I cleaned out my purse yesterday, that count?  I have to be fair to 2014 though, and say that the Lord showed himself to be absolutely huge to us this year.  We had a garage sale to raise adoption funds that was an absolute miracle in every possible sense of the word.  I could (and do) still just bawl about how sweet the body of Christ was to our little family in that time.  It was confirmation to our tender hearts that we were loved, supported, and pursuing something that Jesus was with us on.  I still thank God nearly every day for that experience, the people who were a part of it, and a sweet friend who said, “maybe we could have a little garage sale to get your adoption account started”.  Just a few weeks later, we got to host our sweet Adrine (our sponsored child from Uganda).  The weeks the choir was in the US and the weekend she was in my very own house changed me, and I will forever view the world through different eyes because of that girl.  I pray one day that the Lord allows me to see her and the land she calls home with my own eyes.  I got to walk through pregnancy with one of my very best girlfriends, and press my ear to the door to hear that little boy’s very first cry.  It’s been so great to watch her become a mama, and snuggle that precious boy.  There were many more priceless moments with friends and family that were little pieces of heaven right here on this broken earth.  Yes, my Jesus has been faithful and good just like he promised.  It’s also been a hard year.  Just like anyone else, there was disappointment, hard days at work, hard days at home, heart wrenching illness and loss, and all kinds of situations that made me wish for Jesus to come and rescue us from all of the suffering.  It would be easier to count the days that I didn’t cry over the child we don’t have than the ones I did. (If you ever pass me in the car on the way to work with a Kleenex, just keep on driving-that is my safe place to have all the emotions all by myself)

So, what’s next?  Well, we keep praying.  We try and hold on to what we know to be true, and press hard into what we’re called to now.  Practically-we seek out other agencies who might be able to help us bring home Baby Lamb.  I’m sure I’ll keep reading all the books and blogs I can get my hands on that try and prepare parents who are adopting.  (I’ll try not to let the sheer volume of the material or the warnings about potential problems overwhelm me.) I’m going to try and love my people well, and make sure they never have to wonder how grateful I am for the gift of them.  I really wold like to enjoy all the little moments, and not just rush through them to get to the next thing.  And perhaps I’ll eat a salad or two, but let’s not get too ambitious!  Mostly, I want to sit on the edge of 2016, and know that I love Jesus more than ever before.

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Sometimes It’s Just Hard

Fair warning…this is going to be me whining.  There; you’ve been warned.  I try to be super positive and “glass is half full” and such as much as I can, but right now I’m going to whine.  I’m also going to complain and sound like the spoiled brat that I sometimes am.  Will I be sorry that I recorded most of this, absolutely, but I also said I was doing this to be a journal of sorts of our adoption journey, so I’m going to include the ugly so I can properly appreciate the beautiful.

We’ve been on the baby journey for the better part of 4 years now (fertility treatments + adoption), and while I know that is a tiny amount of time in comparison to what some people go through to get their family it feels like a sweet forever with no end in sight.  I suppose I would be considered an impatient person in general; I don’t love waiting on things so this process is trying to say the least.  I also can’t think of another time in life where I wanted something so badly, but have no assurance as to when or if it will come to pass.  Since I guess we’re not the only people our adoption agency has to deal with from day-to-day, we don’t really get much of an update from them.  I don’t know if they’ve had an opportunity to show our profile book or not, and if so what the feedback was.  They send out a quarterly newsletter that has the same line, “We’re showing your profile book as often as we can.”  What in the world that means, I don’t know.

You want to know what else isn’t awesome?  Every pregnancy announcement feels like a personal insult.  There are approximately 9,754 people I know who are pregnant or have newborns right this instant, and while I am super happy for each of them to have their own little darlings it flat-out hurts every time I get the phone call, text message, Facebook announcement etc.  (I’m somewhat prone to exaggeration, but there are literally 7 girls (that I know of) just in our Sunday School class who are currently with child)  Lest you think I am sitting around being bitter about my own inability to do the one thing women were put on earth to do while what feels like everyone around me is able to do with little trouble, I am.  I’m only kidding; kind of.  Listen, I truly am thrilled for the people I love who are watching their dreams come true right before their very eyes.  Some of them are carrying babies that were hard to come by, hoping with every fiber of their being that this one doesn’t end in a miscarriage, praying that their babies are born healthy after a questionable test result, and all of them are just trying to walk, or waddle,  the path before them as the women God created them to be.  These are good girls who are going to be great mammas, and I will steal their babies every chance I get!

I’m learning that I am a girl who needs to feel settled.  I’ve always been a planner, and not much thrills me like a fresh new day planner with all the appointments and special occasions filled in-with color coded pens of course.  Our house will never be in Architectural Digest or Better Homes and Gardens, but I love that it is home and it is our safe-haven from the crazy world.  I love being out and about, and I will never have enough stamps in my passport to suit me, but I LOVE being at home with KJ and our two spoiled dogs.  Waiting for a phone call that may never come to tell us 1+1 now =3 does not lend itself to a feeling I would call “settled”.  In a best case scenario we will have 3-4 weeks from initial call to when we bring a child home.  Many times it doesn’t work that way.  I’ve heard way more stories of people who had hours or days at most from phone call to first dirty diaper.  We’ve tried to do a few things to be as prepared for this as we can, but the reality of all that will have to get done in a very short amount of time is totally overwhelming.  It’s probably silly to think like this, but I don’t feel that we can make long-term plans for much of anything.  All of our decisions filter through the “what if we have a baby” question, and they have for what feels like a long time.  Settled I am not, and I don’t know when or if I ever will be.

Now let me bring some reality to all this.  I know that we are so far beyond blessed, and the things that the Lord has done for us through his people along this path has been nothing short of insane.  No one deserves His grace less than the whiny girl tapping this keyboard right now.  We have had dear friends dig into their pockets to help us raise money for this adoption in ways that were truly sacrificial.  I could bawl my eyes out right now thinking of how many people remind us all the time they are praying for us.  I’m not a giant fan of social media, but I have been so encouraged by sweet words from people on Facebook.  I am friends with several of the PCM kids from the choir tour this spring on Facebook, and one of the little boys sent a message this weekend that he was praying for us and our family.  That precious thing is living in harder circumstances than I will probably ever see or know, and he’s praying for us-what in the world?!

One wonderful thing I can already see in this whole thing is how much work God is doing on my heart right now.  He is teaching me so much about myself and how He sees this world, and for that I am so grateful.  It’s hard and painful work sometimes, but I know I’ll never be the same for it.  I’m a pretty open book with friends and family, and I’ll admit that most of my life they are the first (and shamefully sometimes the only) place I’ve turned to for help and advice in times of trouble.  This time it’s been different; Jesus is the only place I have felt safe to throw all my hard questions and hurt feelings.  I feel sure that we’ll be wrestling with some of them as long as I’m still breathing earthly air, but you can’t wrestle someone unless you’re close to them.  I want so badly to make him proud.  We are so ridiculously blessed and God is so infinitely good, but this life thing is just hard sometimes.  I feel like Jacob in Genesis 32:26 “I will not let go until you bless me”.

And so we wait…

This is a combination of a couple of posts that I had half-written waiting to be finished.  So it’s a little disjointed!

The whole adoption process is a bit of a head trip.  One thing that is required is a home study.  It’s a process where a person meets with the potential adoptive parents to help determine whether or not they’re eligible to adopt.  We didn’t really know what to expect, so I was as calm about it as you probably imagine.  The person who conducted our home study is named Tim, and he’s British.  On my first phone call with Tim he told me that he wanted us to be ourselves, and not to worry about being in “top form” for our meetings.  Yeah sure, Tim, you’re determining whether we get to have a baby or not, so we’ll be cool and loose around you.  We’ll parade all of our crazy out in front of you so you can record it in documents that will be filed with a court.

Our home study was four visits-two together and one meeting each separately.  The meetings lasted about 3 hours each and included questions about every possible aspect of our lives.  We were asked about our childhoods, relationships with our families, relationship with each other-IN DETAIL and our thoughts and plans for parenting.  There was also a home visit where he inspected our house inside and out to determine if our house is baby ready.  Listen, I know that they have to check and be sure that we’re not a liability, and I get that they have to dig to make sure placing with a child with us is safe.  I’ve heard about some of the atrocities that children suffered at the hands of people who promised to love and protect them.  I know they have to be sure we’re not that kind of people.  But.  To sit for hours with a stranger asking about every corner of your life for the purpose of analyzing you does a number on you.

The good news is that we are done with that!  We finished all of our interviews, and apparently we sufficiently hid our crazy because Tim submitted our home study to the agency and deemed us “acceptable” for parenting.  So, if we do in fact get a little one who grows up to complain about us not being good parents-I’m sending them to Tim since he said we could do it!

The next thing we had to do was create a “Life Book” that the birth mothers will look at to determine who they want to parent their child.  I’m still unsure of what the ideal thing to show to a girl who finds herself looking for someone to parent her child is.  Everyone just advised us to be ourselves and that would be enough.  It’s kind of like when I tried out for my high school’s drill team, only I don’ t know the dance routine, I’ve never even heard the song I’m supposed to dance to, and I’m trying to do high kicks wearing cement blocks for shoes.  We I agonized over what to say, what pictures to use and every other possible detail, but the book is finally done and in the hands of the agency to show to birth mothers. 

Now we have started what is the hardest part of this whole process so far-we wait.  There is no more paper to fill out, appointment to set up or active step for us to take.  We have no idea if or when our book will be shown to a birth mother.  We don’t know if there are any birth mothers with our agency right now who have chosen adoption.  We will probably hear little to no news until we get a call that we have been chosen by a birth mother.  That call could come anytime between now and never.  We are trying to live life as normally as possible without letting this consume us.  If you know us or our family, you probably know that we are failing miserably at that goal.  Every decision is going through the filter of “What if we have a baby…”  It’s not all terrible.  The excitement of possibility is fun.  We are trying to be very conscientious about our spending since we still have a long way to go to raise the money to adopt, and don’t even get me started on the financial side of caring for a baby!  We are watching those around us with children of all ages, and talking about how we would parent in this situation or that.  However, I am a do-er.  Through all of the fertility treatments, as hard as it was, it felt like I was at least doing something.  Up until now in the adoption process, moving forward was dependent on us doing something.  Now all of that grinds to a halt, and all we can do is pray and wait. 

We are trying to keep ourselves busy to limit our my obsession with the what if and when.  Thank the Lord for relatives with a nice pool for hot summer weekends.  We’ve gotten to take a weekend away with my family, and we’re headed to Missouri to see KJ’s family next week.  One of my best friends is pregnant with her first baby, and we are all super excited to celebrate the little one.  Every day I wonder if today is the day we get a call.  Will the call ever come?  We are trying to continue to have faith that our God has a perfect plan, and it will play out exactly as He intended.  We are encouraged by every person who has wished us well, told us their adoption story and who continues to pray for us and our baby.  We know someday the wait will have been so worth it, and we be grateful for every second of agonizing anticipation.

A Weekend with Our Girls!

The past week has been surreal.  About 3 years ago we heard about an organization in Sunday School called Parental Care Ministries (www.pcmonline.org).  I could spend a ton of time telling you about the ministry, but they do such a great job on their website and in their blogs that I will just tell you that it’s an organization started by a pastor and his wife in Uganda to minister to children.  Apparently it is very common for parents to abandon children in Africa due to not being able to support them economically, HIV and AIDS among other things.  A pediatrician’s wife from Tyler met the pastor in Africa at a missions conference, and she and her husband began to support what he had started.  They now have 6 schools and over 1800 children they support.  They also help equip about 40 rural pastors to teach the gospel and serve their people.  One of the main ways they ask for help is by sponsoring children.  This is not unlike many other great organizations out there, but we connected with this one so the week after they presented at church we began to sponsor Adrine.  We were asked to pray for her, write to her and send packets with teams that visited a few times a year.  She was 14 when we started sponsoring her, and all the information we knew about her was on this sheet that I received from PCM.

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Every time a team goes to Africa, they write on the blog on the PCM website about the kids and things they see.  KJ laughs at me because I pretty much sob through each one.  I couldn’t imagine the lives these people were living, and the situations they had come from-and were currently in.  The thing that is so remarkable though is their JOY.  They are the picture of the Joy of the Lord.   They are able to love and rely on him in a way that I don’t think we ever “get” over here.

Anyway, we wrote to Adrine, prayed for her and loved getting her letters back to us.  I enjoyed getting to know a little of her, and watch her grow through the letters.  I would still love to go to Uganda one day, but I knew from the beginning that the likelihood of me meeting her was slim.  Well, a few months ago Christie, a sponsorship coordinator with PCM, sent me a text telling me that Adrine was scheduled to visit the US with a choir tour!  I was beside myself that I was going to get to see with my own eyes this girl that I had fallen for.

Last Tuesday those sweet African feet hit Tyler pavement, and I got the privilege of seeing it.  I was an absolute mess, as you might imagine, but I hugged on that girl until she all but ran from me in fear!

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This was the day I first heard she and her friends sing and worship the Lord.  He could have come on back right then and there, because I just don’t know much that would be better.  They speak pretty good English with a strong accent that I love listening to, and even when their songs are in their language the looks on their faces tell the story.  The dancing-oh my lanta- the dancing!  These people have a bounce and sway that this blonde white girl just won’t ever have!

The best part of this whole thing was that we got to keep Adrine and one of her friends at our house for the weekend.  We weren’t sure exactly what to expect, but I was thrilled!  We ended up with Adrine and another younger girl named Sherinah, and they are the most darling things I’ve seen.

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Sherinah requested bike riding as our activity, so that is just what we did.  Adrine’s bike was a little too small, and she couldn’t quite figure out that you had to keep your feet on the pedals, but those girls had a blast! Listen, I know these aren’t our kids and I am fully aware that their time with us was finite, but watching KJ help those little girls ride a bike just about did me in.

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The first day was a little tough to communicate since I felt like I was asking lots of questions and getting short answers.  I later found out that in Uganda children are not supposed to talk to adults, only answer when asked.  Also, women are encouraged to be mostly quiet in public.  I think they were just still unsure of what to think of everything about the US, including talking freely with an adult.  Sherinah enjoyed bubble baths, and was still young enough to want my help.  One night while I was sitting by the tub watching her make a “dress” out of bubbles, Adrine came up behind me and just wrapped her arms around me in a sweet hug.  About that time, my heart broke into about a million pieces and I again prayed for the Lord to just come and take me.  She kept running her hands through my hair, and we talked about how I wished that I could have volume like hers 🙂  I tried to tell both of them at every chance how beautiful they are, how much we love them and that we pray for them often.  I wanted to somehow impress on them in our short time together that they were so loved and cared for even from across the world.  Adrine’s father died of AIDS, and her mother does whatever she can to feed her family.  Sherinah’s parents abandoned her and her siblings when she was still too young for school.  They are both very loved and cared for by the PCM staff in Uganda, but I wanted their time here to mean something.

Of course we introduced them to some US staples…

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IMG_0189 and Shipley’s donuts!

We laughed at the way they experienced new things.  Sherinah’s eyes got as big as saucers when I opened a can of biscuits for breakfast.  She still doesn’t know what to think about that!  Adrine came in the bathroom while Sherinah was taking another bubble bath-filled up the sink and started scrubbing her socks with bar soap.  She had no idea that we have a machine to wash and dry her clothes-Bless it!  They laughed at my attempt to learn some of their dance moves-bless my heart!

Our last morning with Sherinah was her birthday!  I told her we could go and get a cake to share with her friends to celebrate.  She was thrilled to pick out a chocolate cake.  I mean can you even stand this face?!

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She wanted to hand out the pieces of cake to each of her friends before she would eat hers.  I think she was happy to be able to share this treat with them.  She loved her cake, but I can promise you that I loved watching her more!

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The truth is that I will probably not get the chance to hug those precious necks again on this side of heaven.  I hope at the very least to get to continue to know them through PCM and letters.  There is no way I could tell them all the ways they have changed me.  I want to always remember their smiles and pure joy at life.  I want to never forget their sweet prayers and how they thanked “Father, King of Kings” for helping them to “pass through this day when many do not”.  Oh that I could be thankful for the gift of simply living through each day.  I want to worship the Lord fully and with great joy like they do.  I’ll never get over Adrine telling me that she used to walk 4 hours barefoot by herself at age 4 to school-can you even imagine that?  I want to remember their jubilant dancing for the Lord like their feet just couldn’t help but to move.  I’ll forever love the memory of going into their room to wake them up, and seeing their arms immediately go up for a hug.  I got to stick my finger into the icing on the cake of motherhood this weekend.  I didn’t get to fully experience the joy of eating the cake or the pain of having to wash the plate, but I did love getting to love on those precious girls for a little while.  Supporting this ministry is the best $35 a month we could ever hope to spend.  I pray that these girls grow into the great plans I know God has for them, and I hope that someday in heaven they will come to my house for bubble baths and Oreo cookies again.

This girl is our first child, and we will never be the same-Thank you Lord!

Adrine

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.  He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”     1 Samuel 7:12

Disclaimer: This has been in my drafts folder for over a week now.  I have come back several times to add and edit, so it might be a little disjointed.  Also, the hours of uninterrupted/untroubled sleep for me over the past month or so have been few.  So, my ability to focus and be coherent is affected-negatively!  Finally, I don’t know how to adequately describe a miracle with the written word.  Like most things God does, my mind doesn’t completely comprehend it much less know how to tell all about it.  All that being said, I want to have this recorded for my memory as well as to tell our child (if we get one).  Hopefully it will be an encouragement.

So, the BIG garage sale came and went.  I don’t know that I can tell of a true miracle any other time in my life.  I know God has worked out things on my behalf and in the life of those around me many times along the way, but I’m not sure many would consider those full-on miracles.  I’ll do my best to hit the high points of the experience.

About a week before the sale I started checking the weather on my phone regularly.  There was rain forecast for all of the evenings we were planning to work and heavy thunderstorms for the day of the sale.  I think the percentage for Saturday was around 70% when I started checking.  As I tend to do, I started to panic a little inside.  I was already worried about people showing up to shop, but heavy rain, lightning and thunderstorms were sure to keep even the dedicated garage salers away.  There was no way to move the sale to another day, so we just had to press on-and PRAY.  One of my friends texted me almost every day with the rain chances as they were lowered throughout the week.  She said each time she was praying to see 0%!  I was also nervous about the rain forecast for the nights we were planning to work transporting stuff and sorting at my aunt’s house.   Several friends had offered to help and brought trucks for transporting.  A truck bed full of soggy cardboard boxes and wet clothes would not make them ideal for selling.  Y’all.  Not one drop of rain fell on us while we worked or during the sale.  There were clouds and cooler weather sometimes than expected, but we stayed dry.  Saturday night when we finally collapsed in the bed after a long week of work it rained-HARD.  In fact, there was flash flooding in many areas of our town.  We asked God to hold the rain, and He did!  That would have been enough for me to call it a miracle, but there was so much more.

This is where words and pictures can’t truly show how overwhelmed we were…The stuff!  As I noted before, I was nervous about getting enough stuff to make a decent sale.  I believe this would be a show of the sense of humor of God.  I can only compare it to the miracle of the loaves and fishes; only our loaves were boxes and bags of stuff and our fishes were clothes!  People were donating things right up until late on Friday night, and my dad brought more with him on Saturday morning.  The garage was so full that we couldn’t move around, and there were tables all the way down the driveway with stuff.  We had a storage unit full of furniture that we couldn’t even bring until Saturday morning because we had to use the yard for it.

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Even these photos don’t truly tell the story of all that was there.  Before the sale, I thought we would organize everything like a department store.  Clothes would be sorted, items would be in sections etc.  I’d even seen on Pinterest a suggestion to “stage” items.  I thought we might be able to pair a lamp with an end table and possibly an accessory.  We had so much stuff that not only was it not sorted or staged in any way, there were bags and boxes that didn’t get opened until during the sale.  Thankfully some of the shoppers were even willing to go through unopened bags to look for treasures!  This is where I have to say that almost none of this stuff was ours.  It was all donated!  People were so very generous to us, and I’ll never be able to thank them enough.  It wasn’t just their kids outgrown clothes and shoes, we had furniture, jewelry, baby toys, sporting equipment, automotive equipment and everything imaginable except for live animals!  Some was “junk”, but a lot of it was really nice stuff!

Another thing that was just amazing to us was the people who shopped.  We expected a rush on Saturday morning, but we had been told that in the late morning the crowds would thin and probably be completely dead by the early afternoon.  We had our first paying customer on Thursday night while we were unloading.  She was willing to dig through the yet unsorted stacks and find a few things she wanted to purchase.  On Friday we had our most entertaining customer, Mrs. Horton, who made many purchases and came back for more on Saturday.  She even asked if I would go home and clean out my underwear drawer for her to purchase.  I declined that, but she still found things to buy!  People started showing up in droves before our “official” opening time Saturday morning, and kept coming and coming and coming.  My aunt and uncle live about a block from the entrance to their neighborhood, and cars lined both sides of the street to the entrance and around each corner all day.  We were supposed to shut down at 2pm, but there were still at least a dozen shoppers at 2:30.  When the Goodwill truck showed up to collect the unsold items at 2:45 there were still shoppers!  My dad made the final sale of the day to a man as the Goodwill workers were loading the last boxes.

Every bit of the experience was a miracle to us, but the thing that I will never recover from is the people who helped us.  People I don’t even know donated stuff and promised to pray.  Our friends and family gave up their nights and a Saturday to help make it happen.  I know that busy lives make time the most valuable gift you can give someone, and many gave a lot of time to us for this.  When I say we couldn’t have done it without the help, that is the biggest understatement of the century!  My grandmother drove in to help with the sale and feed everyone working, my aunt and uncle gave up their garage and truck and week to help make this happen, our friends spent their evenings and weekend hauling stuff and sorting stuff, my dad drove in at 4:30 AM on a Saturday to help and bring stuff to sell, our family showed up to help when they had so many other things to do, my friend from college left her husband and small kids for the first time to spend the weekend helping (and highlighting my hair).  Every time I looked up, someone from our team was carrying something, unloading a box, bringing racks and tables for us to use, making a sale, refilling a table.  THEY NEVER STOPPED.  I know everyone was exhausted, but they kept going-for us.  Every person that helped in any way was the hands and feet of Jesus to us, and we will spend the rest of our lives grateful.  We can never repay this kindness, but we will try, and we know God will bless those who have blessed us.

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When the day was done, I felt it was a stretch to hope for $1000.  That seemed like a lot of money for a garage sale to me-and it is.  I wish I had taken a picture of the island in my aunt’s kitchen-it looked like something out of a movie where drug dealers have stacks of money lined up.  The Lord brought us over $5,600! 

To every person who prayed, donated, shopped and worked-you were part of a miracle to us.  I am trying not to place meaning without clear direction from God, but we do feel this is a confirmation from Him that we are doing the right thing in seeking adoption.  The money will go a long way in helping to cover the costs, but the love that was poured out on us has changed us forever.  We knew we were blessed with great people, but there are no words for what this experience showed us. Thank you is such an inadequate phrase, but it’s all I have so a million times-THANK YOU!  Baby Lamb, if you ever read this, know that so many people helped you when there was only a hope of you.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!    Ephesians 3:20-21

It’s a New Day…

Mondays have a way of feeling like a fresh start.  There’s something nice about getting a “do over” from last week.  This is a wild week for us.  What many people may not know (or maybe I was the only clueless one before starting this whole process) is that adoption is EXPENSIVE!  I’d be lying if I said I totally understand where all the money goes, and yes, I have gone down the mental rabbit trail of why on earth giving a child that needs one a good and loving home has to burden the adoptive parents so financially.  However, it is what it is, and here we are. 

One of my precious friends, who knew that finances were one of, if not the, biggest hold up in the Lambein adoption process suggested we have a garage sale to raise funds.  I can’t tell you the last time I shopped at or held a garage sale.  Anyone who knows me could tell you that I am more the “throw it away or give it to goodwill as soon as I can part with it” type.  I don’t neatly package and save my old clothes and unused household items until I have enough for a garage sale.  But, our sweet friend offered, and I thought, “What the heck?” so we’re having a garage sale this weekend. 

I had no idea what to expect from people for this.  I thought we might have a few people donate some old clothes or a random end table from their grandmother that had a broken leg.  I wondered if we’d even have enough to look like a sale, and if we would make any sort of money.  Well, I don’t know if we’ll make much money, but the generosity of the body of Christ these past few weeks as we gathered donations is nothing short of staggering.  We got a storage unit to house all the stuff so we wouldn’t have to crowd our house or my aunt’s garage (where we are holding the sale) for several weeks.  The storage unit is full nearly to the ceiling-it even houses my friend’s husband’s wedding ring that was lost while unloading a pile of clothes.  (Lord, if you could help us to locate that this week, it’d be great-thanks!)  We started putting a few things in our garage when the storage unit was full, then it overflowed into our guest room, our office and our dining room.  My aunt has things at her house, our friends have things at their houses, and several others have said they are bringing stuff this week while we are sorting and pricing.  We have gotten things from family, co-workers, Sunday school friends, friends, Facebook friends, friends of friends of Facebook friends, fellow Junior League members-and their dad, and people we don’t even know.  I keep asking God to increase my faith through this process-to help me really believe Him, all of Him, and to let that belief change my actions and attitudes for real.  If having so many people-even those that don’t know us- gather up and donate stuff doesn’t help me to believe that God is working this thing out on our behalf, then I honestly don’t know what will. 

Now understand, it wasn’t particularly enjoyable to coordinate collecting all of this stuff from all over for the past few weeks.  I imagine I might have to check my attitude at the (garage) door when I am missing Scandal and other must see TV in order to sort through trashbags and boxes of other’s unwanted stuff, but I hope that I will somehow remember when I’m tired and my faith is feeling a little stretched thin that “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1Sam 7:12).  I want to remember every sweet face that has handed me their things and said they were praying and hoping the best for us in this process.  I want to be humbled by the people around us who are giving their precious time to help haul, sort, price and work a garage sale that will not benefit them 1 cent. 

We’re praying for good weather and a great turnout on Saturday.  I’m hoping that we can make enough money to cover the few expenses of the sale and the Home Study we’ll start next week.  I’m praying God will allow this to be something we will always look back on as a display of Him doing “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).  I’m praying we will be grateful for the outcome no matter what it is, and praise His name.  Even if we don’t make a penny though, I want to look back at the way our little village of people has rallied around us and been so generous, and remember that God is so good to us.  He really is just so good.  

Some things…

The following are some things I’d just like to have on record somewhere should I ever need to remember them:

1.  We are so boring, and I am so okay with that!  I talk to one of my best friends who lives out of town nearly every day.  She’s a momma of two little ones, so our conversations are rarely uninterupted and can cover topics from recipes to spirituality to current events to poop (either ours or her children’s) all in a matter of minutes with a few “Stop That” and “Do it again, and you’ll get a spanking” thrown in for good measure.  Anyway, our Monday conversations usually include a weekend wrap up, and I haven’t had much of anything to report on a Monday in a long time.  I did have to oversee a photo shoot at 4 different locations Saturday, so that ate up the day and lots of travel time, but other than that our weekend consisted of some lazy and some church and that’s about it.  I suppose I wish we had been a little more productive, but I am so fine with this stage of life and inactivity.  So there!

SleepyDogs2

2. Our people are so good to us. In the past 48 hours we’ve had people bring us more stuff for our fundraiser garage sale, Hubs’ boss gave us a cash donation for the fund, one of my Bible study girls’ co-worker offered us a nursery full of furniture, and countless people have offered to keep praying. I’ve been in church my whole life, and I’ve never loved the body of Christ more than I do right now. I’m overwhelmed, and I know that I will never have the words to express proper gratitude to these people. I hope that no matter the outcome of our present situation, I will always remember how sweet God has been to us through His people. I wish I knew a way to show people who either don’t know Jesus or aren’t currently surrounded by His people what a difference it makes. This life is so hard, and the people around us can’t fix the problem or take the hurt out of hope delayed, but man, can they make the steps a little easier to take. Jesus please help me to return this favor a hundred-fold! I want to err on the side of kind and generous always, even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.

I seem to remember having more things when I started this, but it’s Monday and I haven’t been sleeping well so this is all I can remember for the moment!

I Need an Outlet

For as long as I can remember, I have been better with writing about it rather than talking about it-or living it!  It’s a little strange since I’ve never been a person who journals or writes with any sort of regularity.  However, life has gotten me to a point where I need an outlet.  Somewhere that I can write about the stuff that’s going on, and get it out.  I’m not sure if anyone besides me will ever read it, but that’s just fine!

Four years ago-yesterday-I married the man that was knit together in his mother’s womb to be my husband.  He makes me crazy sometimes, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that he’s supposed to be mine.  When we stood on that rooftop in Mexico before God and a few family and friends we promised to stick together through whatever forever had.  We were not young kids, and I had lived enough life to know that this thing is brutal and no one leaves unscathed.  Even with that dose of reality, I said “I do” believing whole-heartedly that we would get to have a somewhat “normal” life together.  We’d be married a little while, have a baby (or two) and raise our family.  That wouldn’t always be easy or fun, but we’d do it and be happy!

So far, that has not been how this thing has gone.  Maybe one day I will feel like going through the details of the infertility journey, but now it’s all a little to painful to even put words to.  Bottom line, a baby of our own is extremely unlikely.  That sentence cost us years, thousands of dollars, and more tears and grieving than I can really articulate.  We now have moved on to the adoption process.  We’ve submitted tons of paperwork, and are waiting for a home study to be scheduled.

Part of why I decided to come here and write today is all the uncertainty that accompanies this process so far.  Will we “pass” all the tests?  Will we somehow come up with enough words and photos to convince a pregnant woman that we would be a good family for her baby?  If we convince her, will she be able to go through with giving up her little one?  If she goes through with it, will we be able to come up with the money to pay for it?  Will the baby be healthy?  Will we bond?  Will we be good parents?  And the one that keeps me up at night and with a perpetual knot in my stomach-what if there is no baby for us?  Will I still be able to choke out “Great is Thy faithfulness” if this desire goes unmet?

You see, I believe that God is who He says He is.  Part of that is that His plans for me and my life are good and perfect.  I also believe He placed a desire in my heart to be a mother.  My whole life has been about waiting for the hope of being a family to be realized.  What happens to that faith if that hope is never realized?  What if we’ve done everything, and prayed ourselves silly, and worn our people completely out with the “Please pray, please help, please…” and the outcome still is a “no” from God?

My hope is that “journaling” in this way will help me to work through all of this…