Monday, September 20, 2010

MBM-The Gift

So it's Monday. Here's another Memorial Box Monday post. I love doing this. I woke up this morning and thought Iwouldn't have anything to write about. Then God reminded me about the following story. I learned about Memorial Boxes over at Linny's blog. If you want to know more about a what exactly a Memorial Box is go check it out here.

Earlier this year, my husband and I made plans to attend our semi-local Christian Homeschool Conference together in the summer. I was very excited. He has always supported me in homeschooling and I am so very grateful for that. I know a lot of women out there who are homeschooling with their husband's 'OK' but no help and no moral support. I feel very blessed that I have such a supportive husband. Up until this year, we have had little ones, and he was happy to stay home and hold down the fort while I went to conferences, seminars, and spiritually encouraging events. But this year, we were going together. We were even signing up for "The Truth Pr*ject" the evening before the conference started. We were going to be in a hotel... alone... I mean together but without kids. For TWO NIGHTS! They were going to stay home with the grandparents. I was super duper really looking forward to this getaway. It's been almost nine years since our oldest was born and we just felt like it was finally ok to leave them for a short stint.

Anyway, we registered for the conference and booked the hotel room. All set. Then his trip to Afgh*nistan got moved up. Not only was he leaving much sooner than anticipated, he was going to miss the conference. Bummer. Big bummer. I have to say, I was still excited about going, and about attending the special seminar. As the time grew closer, I became more and more ambivalent about the whole thing. I packed my bags and drove away. Two hours in the car with nothing to think about except that he was supposed to be with me. It was a serious downer. I've gone by myself in the past and it never really bothered me. What bothered me this time was that I wasn't supposed to be going alone.

I was just so sad. So very sad. I got there and got checked into my hotel and over to the conference center to go to "The Truth Pr*ject" with about 3 minutes to spare. I hadn't had anything to eat so I bought a hot dog and inhaled it before going in the auditorium. It made me really ill. I sat and enjoyed the presentation immensely but every time they said something really awesome all I could think was, "I wish he was here to hear that for himself." It was way cool and I recommend it to anyone if you have the chance to go to the seminar or join a small group. However, as the presentation drew to a close, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and not really wanting to go sleep in that king size bed with the clean sheets all by myself.

The last thing the presenter did was the door prizes. I never win. Anyway, he said he had 12 copies of the new "Adv*ntures in Odyss*y" (if that's how you spell it) to give away. I've always wanted to try one of them for the boys but never really had the money at the right time. I just thought to myself, "It would really make my day if I won one of those." Then he announced that there were 12 couples who had preregistered whose last names begin with W, X, Y, and Z. Those at the end of the alphabet are most likely to get left out so he was giving them out to those couples. Wouldn't you know it, that was me.

And sure enough, it made my day. I still really missed my husband the whole weekend but I felt a good bit better, and not once again did I feel like I was all by myself. Sometimes, I think that even though you don't really actually pray officially, God hears your thoughts. There were about 800 people in that room with me and although none of them had any idea what I was feeling, God did. He cared enough to send me that little gift. More amazing than the gift of the CD's, was the gift of knowing that I wasn't alone, I was able to enjoy the rest of the conference without dwelling on the miles between myself and my husband.

Monday, September 13, 2010

MBM--The Actual Memorial Box

I'm so excited! This story actually took place last week. I've been looking for a memorial box for quite some time now. I've been checking out thrift stores and discount home places like Marshalls and, oh, what's the name of that Tuesday's place? Well, anyway, last Thursday (ten days ago) I found myself out and about with only one kid. That never happens... and he just happens to be the mini-me and is always up for shopping so we go into Marshalls, cause I really need a new pair of tennis shoes, my old ones are killing me.

Anyway, while we're there, I decide to go check in the home goods section to see if there's a photo box that I could use for a memorial box. Well, I didn't like any of the photo boxes there, but right next to that were these boxes for stuff. I'm not really sure what one would do with them if you weren't needing a memorial box. They were so cute... they looked like the old, old fashioned rectangular leather suitcases that have the buckles around them. It was brown, and rugged and aged looking. It really fits our not so fancy kind of style. I took one look at them and thought, "That would be a perfect memorial box!" I picked it up and it opens into a largish space plenty of room for memories. I was so excited! That is, until I turned it over. It was $19.99. Now, I realize that's not painfully expensive, but I was hoping for more like $5 or $6. Bummer. To buy or not to buy. I was really struggling. I'd been looking for soooo long and I liked this one FAR better than ANYTHING else I had seen. What to do... what to do? I had a really hard time deciding. I really, REALLY wanted it. Anyway, after much thought, and carrying it around in my shopping cart while we perused the kitchen gadgets, I. put. it. back. I really don't think $20 would have broken us, it's just that we are trying to scrimp and save every spare penny that we have to put towards this adoption. I couldn't see spending the money on a box. Even if it is a memorial box for Monday. I would just find one cheaper somewhere else. So we went home with a new pair of tennis shoes for me (about $100 cheaper than the ones I had tried on in the mall and liked) and some new socks for my DS2. I don't know how it is that his socks get threadbare so fast... it doesn't happen to the other two.

So, by the time we got home, I was sad about the box but feeling like I had made the right decision. We were going about our evening, dinner and such and I went down the hall to get something from the school room. Well the hall is where we've been stacking all the donations for our yard sale (adoption fundraiser). There was a bunch more there that I hadn't seen yet because DH picked it all up from two ladies at church that had been cleaning out for us. He had gotten it the previous day and unloaded it that morning and I had not been by there at all that day. Wouldn't you know it, right in the front of the pile of yard sale donations is this:

Isn't it cute. And I have to say, it's a much better size and shape than the one in the store. How amazing is that?!? To think that God had that box planned for me. To know that it was in. my. house. before I even left that day. To see to it that it was the exact same style as the one I fell in love with at the store and a better size and shape. To have these sweet ladies at church who care soooo much about us and about the kids that aren't even legally ours yet to donate to our yard sale. The timing was perfect. It makes me smile just thinking about it. And how awful would I have felt if I had caved and spent that $20 and came home to see it? Now, here's the thing. I got this huge guilt thing going on because it was meant to be for the yard sale, to raise money to get our kids home. Mom said, "Throw $5 in the yard sale pot and keep it." I tell you, I had a really hard time deciding to keep or sell it. I felt really guilty cause I wanted to keep it for myself and not sell it. So here's what it comes down to: I can sell it in the yard sale for $5 and go buy the one at the store (which I don't like nearly as much as this one now) for $20, OR I can keep this one as a reminder of how much God loves me to orchestrate this whole thing and provide this beautiful box for me... not sitting on my literal doorstep, but in my house waiting for me to discover it.

Now, we have all had a touch of a cold that we didn't want to share so we missed services yesterday. I had really wanted to tell the ladies what had happened but I didn't get the chance. I didn't want them to come over for game night and see the box and wonder why something they donated for bringing our kids home was not sold... maybe I'll just send them the link and let them read the whole story.

Oh, and the yard sale? We've raised almost $600 so far! A huge thanks goes out to all who've donated! We still are selling stuff on ebay and Craig's List. I'm so happy at how well this is going!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MBM-The Check is in the Mail

I realize it's not Monday. But I've been meaning to tell this story for quite some time and somehow, Monday always gets away from me. I guess that He really wants me to tell this one because Linny suggested putting it off until Wednesday since we were all preparing to fast.

So, DH and I have been the typical American couple. We got a little too comfortable with the plastic in the pocket. I remember when we first got married, it was just a way to get free gas or airline miles. We paid them off every month. Then something big came up and we needed to deal with it now... who knows what it was... we'll just pay a little over time and as long as we keep up with our regular expenses, it's ok, right? Then we had a baby and he just needed all this stuff. One bad choice led to another and we were in bad, bad shape. We had to put stuff on the cards because we needed all our real money to pay the mortgage and the credit card bills. Interest piles up and it was getting really scarry. I'm really embarrassed to tell ya'll this, but I'm hoping that it will help someone out there who reads it. Anyway, it seems like every time we talked about it, one of us was really stressed while the other one talked them down. The next time we talked, the roles were reversed. What we needed was for both of us to be stressed at the same time. It never happened. But what did happen? I heard about Fin*ncial Pe*ce University. As it turns out, there was a class starting that Thursday as the church literally down the street from us. We could walk there in about five minutes.

We made a hurried decision and got into the class on time. This was May of 2009. I was really distraught over our situation and even more distraught when we actually started putting numbers on paper. We prayed and worked that budget over every which way trying to get things figured. We had a plan, and we cut them little buggers up. We haven't turned back. We've had some very sketchy moments but I believe we must be on the right track. Somehow, the money is there when we need it. Not somehow, God puts it there. I remember one time at the very beginning of the year (2010) it got really tight. Really. Tight. The mortgage was coming up, my truck needed tires badly, and we had a very sick cat (that we love dearly) that needed to go to the vet. We had no idea where the money was going to come from. There were no more paydays coming up in time.

[Now, to flash back, we had made (a poor) decision to purchase life insurance as in investment vehicle. Well, when D*ve R*msey talked about it, we realized that was not so good and made the decision, despite the penalties, we'd cancel and get back what money we could. Well, I sent in the paperwork to cancel and we'd received a letter saying that we had 30 days to cancel the cancel and after the 30 days passed, then they would do the paperwork to cancel the policy. I remember thinking, yeah, right. I'm going to have to hound you people to get my money. I was really not looking forward to it. ]

I remember standing in the shower praying with all my heart (it's one of the few places I have peace). It was Wednesday. I was sobbing. I was so afraid of missing the mortgage payment, I was so afraid that my poor cat would die before we could get him to the vet, I was so afraid that I'd blow a tire and wreck with my kids in the car. It really was not a good moment. I remember very clearly saying to God, "Lord, I know the 30 days has just passed. I know that I'm probably going to have to fight them to get the money back. But, God, we need that money. We are trying so hard to get rid of this mess we've gotten ourselves into. We will not use the credit cards again so we're relying on you to make this work out. Please, please, please have them send us that check now. We need it by Friday." Can you believe that, I actually gave God a deadline. I was really, really scared. I remember just giving up. I knew that there was nothing I could do. I gave up. I put it out to God and I let it go. I can't say that I was feeling good when I stepped out of that shower. I did feel a little less stressed. This was no longer my problem. The consequences we would have to face and it could be bad but I just had to let go. It was out of my hands. I went about my day... school with the boys, lunch, chores. I went down to the mailbox... what do you suppose was in the mail that very same day? Yup, the check. :) I did a happy dance right there in the street. It was enough to pay the mortgage payment, get new tires, get the cat to the vet AND pay off one of the credit cards.

That day I knew... I KNEW we were going to be ok. Sure it was going to take a lot of work, a lot of scrimping and fenangling, but we'd be ok. We didn't get into that mess overnight and we sure weren't going to get out of it overnight, but we will get out of it. Cause if the Lord be for me, who can be against me?

I'm so very thankful for that check. I'm so very thankful for Dave's class. I'm just sooooo happy that now, while not totally debt free, are in a place where we can do more for others, give more to God, and bring home some kids that want nothing more than a home and someone to love them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fast and Pray Tomorrow

Yes, I said fast...

There's this whole community of adoptive parents blogging out there that I had no idea about when we started this process of adoption. It's really quite amazing to have been drawn in and become a part of it. One of the blogs that I frequent A Place Called Simplicity is written by an amazing woman, Linny. I love that she is so very open with her life and has allowed so many of us to be inspired by her and her family. Anyway, if you haven't already, you should go check it out for yourself.

Linny has asked us in that blogging community to link arms spiritually tomorrow, Sept. 8th. I will be joining them. We will be coming together (in our own homes--but wouldn't it be great if we all could come physically together too?) to fast and pray for the orphans. There are many who have linked to her post with specific prayer requests and I am adding our adoption prayer requests to that list. Some have financial needs, some have paperwork problems, some have been in country trying to get courts settled and come home with their kids for entirely too long. Some have prayer requests for a particular orphanage that is in a bad way and some just ask for prayers for the orphans in a certain country that is having difficulties with the process. Satan has a way of attacking those that are following God's will and changing lives for His glory. Please join us tomorrow. Check out her blog for the specific requests.

Here are mine:
1. There is a sibling group of five (yes, five!) that I have felt inexplicably drawn to. I don't know if they are meant to be ours or if I'm just meant to pray for them, but please pray that God shows them a family. I have been praying for them since last winter. They are very heavy on my heart.
2. Pray for DH's peace with this adoption. He is all for adoption but as the provider for our household, he has some concerns. You see, in the past, we have made some very poor decisions financially and we are still paying for them. We are working with gazelle intensity (I'm sure some of you know what that means :) ) and God has truly, truly blessed our change of hearts and commitment to right this situation. Like I said, we are still working on it and DH wants to make sure that we have all our ducks in a row before he has more mouths to feed. Pray for him to have a peace over our adoption and that he will know that God is so much bigger than our problems. Let me reiterate, he is in favor of the adoption, I think it's just hard on him... as the head of the household.
3. Please pray for our financial situation. We are doing really well so far and the Lord has provided every time we need something but as we are just now working on the home study, we have a long road ahead of us. We are fundraising, having a yard sale, and selling everything that isn't stapled down. Please pray that God continues to provide for us and that Satan does not send my truck to the shop anymore. (been there three times in the last week.)

I truly hope that you would go and check out Linny's blog and pray for the others who are requesting it. Please join us in the fast tomorrow. I'm doing it, and tomorrow is our 10th wedding anniversary. Isn't it funny how that worked out. When you get married, you look down the road and think about your 10th. It seems so far away, and you think it will be an amazing day--in the way that's all about you. Here I am, the time has flown by and I KNOW it will be an amazing day--but not at all about me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kids and Weeds

I've always heard the phrase, "My (your, his, her) kids are growing like weeds." I never really thought about it too much other than the usual, "Yeah, it seems they grow up so fast." Well, they do. They really grow up fast and you don't have nearly the time with them that you thought you might have.

Anyway, I have been thinking about that phrase a lot in the past week. You see, with DH overseas since mid-May, and all three boys participated on swim team this year in addition to all our usual stuff, well, the weeds have kinda taken over. I knew that I would not have time to tend to a vegetable garden like we usually do, so we just didn't plant one. There are weeds there. Like a jungle of weeds. Taller than me. It's the same in the flower beds that surround 1/2 the house. Weeds choking out all my beautiful plants and bushes. And, I'm ashamed to say, weeds choking out the playground equipment. We have one of those nice cedar playgrounds (we went all out expecting to have lots of kids ourselves and lots of kid's friends playing on it). We put it in when we moved in four years ago and put down freshly chipped mulch. Well, in four years, the mulch has composted beautifully into this dark rich soil with tons of nutrients for growing... weeds. To be fair, I did pull weeds for two hours one day in June so the boys could play out there. However, they came right back. And I didn't pull them... and they grew... and they spread.

So a week ago last Saturday, DH, my 3 sons and I go out to pull weeds. The boys all did really, REALLY, well with weed pulling. They took swing breaks starting when we finally had the swings free but they only ever stopped for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. DH and I worked almost non-stop. It was rough. It took almost 5 hours. When we were finished, we could hardly stand upright having been bent over for so long. Anyway, to give you an idea... we let the weed piles set out for several days to dry up some before we bagged them. On Thursday (still sore from pulling weeds, mind you) the boys and I went outside to bag them. Six HUGE garden and lawn trash bags later... we had all the weeds from the flower beds. We didn't even touch the weed piles from the playground yet. And might I say, I had anticipated the hard work and the being tired afterwards. I even anticipated being sore. But I had no idea just how sore I was going to be. The back of my left leg was in constant aching pain for almost a full week. It hurt every time I moved and whenever I was sitting still... even laying down. It affected every part of every activity, of every day. I couldn't believe how sore I was (DH was too). I mean, serious pain. I was more surprised than anything about how badly I hurt.

So I've been thinking about that phrase, "kids growing like weeds." I've often heard it said, "Put a lot of time in with them when they are younger and it will go a little easier when they are older." Like weeds. Pull a few little ones here and there when they spring up and you won't have to kill yourself to get it weeded later. Work with your kids consistently, correct what needs correcting and strengthen their good traits. I realize this was a long post for such a short point. But it rings true. One more point: I got to thinking about this analogy and what really hit home for me is how much I hurt, and for how long... How much do families hurt when they try to clean up the mess of an undisciplined son or daughter? And I don't mean spanking... I mean discipleship. Raising and training. How long does the pain of a broken family last? How does it affect every aspect of their days? These thoughts have been swirling around all week. I'm just glad I learned this lesson with weeds and not with my kids.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MBM-A Night at the Airport

So, I've been wanting to start doing a Memorial Box Monday post for quite some time. A bloggy friend of mine over at A Place Called Simplicity does them every Monday. The idea is based on the memorial that the Israelites set up after they crossed the Jordan River into the promised land. Something visual, something tangible to help me remember all the wonderful times that God has provided for me, protected me, and shown me the way in my life. I have to actually find/make a box to keep all the little reminders in. But for now, I think I'm going to put them on top of our movie shelf so they'll be where I can see them. If you want to read more about MBM please go to Linny's page. She came up with it and she explains it so much better than I could.

Anyway, on with the story...

Way back when DH and I were newlyweds (we are coming up on our 10th very, very soon), back before the events of airport extremists... you could still walk all the way out to the gates when someone was leaving on a flight. I hated when he had to go away for work, I still do. So we decided that I would take him to the airport and park, go with him to check in and we'd have something for dinner out by his gate while we waited for his plane to take off. As luck would have it, there was parking in the lot immediately in front of the airport and I didn't have to park in a garage or long term parking. We went in and had a leisurely dinner at the gate and enjoyed the last few minutes that we would have together for a week. He got on his plane and left. Of course, I had to watch the plane taxi out and wait until the plane that I thought was his (cause you really can't keep track of the planes at this airport) take off. I then proceeded to make my way through the airport to go back to my lonely home.

Now, you should know, I was raised in a safe small town by an overprotective paranoid mother who loved us dearly. She was always on the lookout for the boogey man. I however have chosen to not be paranoid, but also not to throw caution to the wind. When I leave to go to the parking lot, I have my keys in my hands before I exit the building, I'm aware of my surroundings, when I get in my car I lock the door first thing of all, I pay attention to whoever might be around me when I'm at the ATM. Cautious, aware, alert, not stupid, but also not paranoid. I don't expect something bad to happen, but I want to try and prevent it if I have the opportunity and be prepare in case I cannot prevent it.

I remember when I was in Junior High, my mom took me to this self-defense seminar. It was a one day thing done by a former police woman. It was very interesting and I wish I could remember more of it... if I had been a little older, maybe I would have. Anyway, she when through the different types of perps, how to recognize them, and how to increase your odds of survival with each one. I remember the petty thief, you best odds are to give him all you got and let him run. You will survive in most cases. There were a lot more in between but then the worst case scenario is the psychopath. Chances are, you aren't getting away alive and you gotta fight from the very beginning. In all cases, do NOT ever allow anyone to take you to another location. Your odds of survival decrease significantly if you have a secondary crime scene, not to mention how bad it will be before you die. You can say, "Kill me here or leave me alone, but I ain't going with you." Another thing that really stuck with me was prevention. If you think someone is following you, turn around and look them in the eye. Convince them that you are confident and not an easy target. Talk to them in a confident voice and chances are, they will not see you as the easy, weak victim that they are looking for. Anyway, I guess I remembered more than I thought. I'd still like to know the other types of predators that I can't remember now and how to deal with them.

So there's your self defense lesson for the day, now back to the airport...

As I was getting ready to exit the building, I got my keys out to have ready. I didn't want to be digging through my purse to find them and not paying attention to my surroundings as I walked out alone. I paused as I crossed the taxi lane and then across the the lot where my car was. It was now about 10:00 at night and I realized that I had never been there before in the dark. I also remember thinking to myself, "It's really dark in this lot. They really ought to do something about that." Then I thought, "There could be someone hiding in between any of these parked cars, jump out at someone as they pass by and drag them back into the darkness before they could make a peep." Now, mind you, I never had thoughts like that. I have always been cautious, but never really expected anything to happen. As that thought crossed my mind, I decided to walk straight down the middle of the driving area rather than close to one side or the other. You know, give me time to see it coming. It's weird but I was so hyper aware and super vigilant.

Sure enough, just as I passed a van, a man came out from the dark space beside it. He was to my left and I knew I had a good ways to go before I got to my car. I continued walking for a few paces. I sensed he was following me. If that was the case, he was up to no good b/c the airport was in the other direction. I somehow got up the courage to turn around and look. There he was. I looked him dead in the eyes. I couldn't talk so I just tried to look confident and continue on. I was closing the gap between me and my car and how I wished for keyless entry. I was trying to figure out what to do when I got there. As I reached the driver's door, I was shocked to see that he had really closed the distance between us and was now at my trunk. (My car was a Honda Civic so he was REALLY close.) I knew, KNEW, that I didn't have time to get the door unlocked, get in, and lock the door behind me. This was it, it was now or never. I drudged up the deepest, loudest, most confident voice I could muster and said, "Is there something I can help you with?" It actually sounded almost irritated as it came out. As in, "You're in my space, dude. Either tell me how to help you or get out of my face." It was interesting. In a split second, I watched him go from being aggressive to being defensive. Evidently, that was not what he was expecting and it threw him off enough to make him reconsider his plans. I was not going down easy and now he knew it. He went all weird like he didn't know what to do and said, "Umm... no. I mean... I... uh... no... no..." Then he just turned and walked away. I watched to make sure that he kept going and as soon as he was far enough, I got in my car, locked the door and pulled out of the lot like nobody's business. Obviously, I was very shaken as I approached the toll booth, but then I got really angry. I turned the car around and went back looking for him. I wanted to know where he was so I could tell the toll booth person to go get him. I was soooo mad.

In hindsight, I cannot believe the details that went into keeping me safe that night. My paranoid mother, the self-defense class, the safe-keeping habits that I already had, the eerie (and most unusual for me) thoughts and feelings that I had as I entered the lot, the booming voice that came out of me but I couldn't have mustered on my own. Truly, God protected me that night. It wasn't until I got home that it really affected me. I started thinking about all the things that 'could have happened.' I was really shook up. It's funny, though. I still go into dark parking lots at night, when I need to. I still don't expect bad things to happen. I'd like to think it's because I trust God in whatever happens.

So, I'm going to have to find an old car key to put in my box. To remind me that God is my Protector.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Trouble with Underwear

Not mine. Let's just be clear. It's not my underwear that's the problem.

It's just that it's laundry day... tomorrow is laundry day, too, for that matter. I really don't mind doing laundry as much as I used to, which is surprising when you consider that I have WAY more laundry to do now than when I minded it so much. Just another instance of kids putting things in the proper prespective. The only thing that I really dislike about doing the laundry is folding the dreaded load of socks and underwear. It really annoys me. And in one load, there could be a million socks to be matched and half a million pairs of underwear. At least it seems that way. That's why I managed to rationalize that I have too many things going on with DH gone, I just didn't have time to do it when I did the laundry last time. So now I had a load and a half (because we'd been rooting through the basket looking for underwear) to fold this time. UGH.

The real issue is that I've got three boys, two of which wear the same size. Now, it's all been relatively easy up till now. One of them has always been a tighty-whitey guy, one prefers boxer briefs, and one still wears character underwear. One likes the gray bottom athletic socks, one likes character socks (not the same one that likes the character underwear), and one likes solid colors to match his clothes. Easy enough, once you get the hang of it. However, all of a sudden, the lines between tastes and preferences are getting blurry. Character sock man thinks that maybe he's getting too big for spiderman and should wear gray bottom athletic socks like brother. Whitey-tighty (or is it tighty-whitey?) guy thinks that boxer brief guy seems really comfortable in his britches and maybe he'll give boxer briefs a try. So now, not only is it tedious to match socks and get all the underwear right side out, but I'm going to have to take notes or make a list or something to remember whose socks are whose.

So here's the thing. How do families with more than three kids handle this issue? And how will I handle it when I have even more kids? I remember seeing an episode with the Duggers saying that all the boys wear black socks and all the girls wear white. I get it. But how do you distinguish sizes and which socks are whose? Does everyone just grab a clean pair and go? And sock sharing may all be fine and dandy, but who really wants to do that with underwear, clean or not? Maybe I should just give them all a color to stick with. You always wear green socks and underwear, you always wear blue, and you red. Forget about whether or not their socks clash with their clothes. Don't worry if you can see their colored undies through their khaki dress pants in church on Sunday. Really?

Or maybe this... just have the boys find, sort and fold their own socks and underwear?
Sounds good to me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You Can't Fool Me...

I know what's really going on here.

So as some of you know, we've had a run of bad luck here. From the time that DH left to go overseas, we have had more than our share of injuries and sickness with the children:

Four staples in the head.

Chipped front tooth.

Injured ankle-first thought was a sprain, then x-rays, then ended up at the pediatric orthopaedist, then walked out before even seeing the doctor.

Now in the midst of my mom's total knee replacement (she live with us), they all have a bad bacterial infection. VERY. BAD. Not to mention that it took over three full days for the pediatrician's office to get back to us that it is, in fact, bacterial and they are calling in an antibiotic for DS1. That's three full days of temps running above 102 degrees (four if you count the day prior to seeing the doctor). Well the other two are sick now too and they can't see them till tomorrow or Monday so they have to wait on antibiotic. Ugh.

So between going to urgent care, radiology, and different doctors offices, we've had nary a dull moment without an appointment to be at. It's more trips to the Dr. than we went to in all the previous three years together.

"What's this all about?" you ask.

I think it's about fighting God's war. I've heard other people talk about this but never experienced it myself. That's probably because prior to the past few years of my life, I haven't really been a soldier in God's army. I believed. I was baptized. But it's only relatively recently that I've stepped up to to the plate, really started following God's word and living God's will. I've started getting more involved in the children's program at church. DH and I have taken charge of our finances, after all, how can we have the means to do the Lord's work if we have debt? We also stepped up to be group leaders at our church. Now this whole adoption calling. Not that I think we are doing anything extraordinary, but we are doing the best we can to get to where we believe God wants us to be.

It seems that once you make a big decision to follow God, that the enemy starts to take you seriously, and if at all possible, discourage you. That's what's going on here. Sat*n knows DH is gone. He knows that we are planning this adoption of several kids. He knows that the thought of half a dozen kids can be daunting. He has decided to play on that seed of doubt. He's trying to make me doubt whether I can handle that many kids, whether this is all a mistake. For a little while, it seemed like it was starting to work. But now, at the end of the ninth week, I feel empowered. Nine weeks of one pain in the bazooka after another. Sure it could have been worse, there's a lot more that could have happened. But I feel really good about being able to deal with what was dished out. So there you have it. Strengthened. Refined by fire. I'm sure there's more fire, more refining necessary. But still, I'm in a good place for 63 days without my husband.

Oh, and I found out, those girls weren't actually matched with a family. Their file was sent to another adoption agency. This time they're listed as one sibling group, not two. What do I make of that? I don't know, I'll get back to you. But I will add them back on my prayer list.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Beginning of the End

So it seems to me that the last two weeks before he comes home are amazingly like the first two weeks after he's left. I'm exhausted, the boys have been sick, I should be in bed, or at least cleaning the kitchen. Yet, here I am, 2:00 in the morning, and I'm up. It's gone back to being really, really hard to go to bed without him. At least the end is in sight. He will be home soon. The guys that are to relieve him and his buddy arrived today. So it's just training them to take over and making travel arrangements. I'm so excited.

I cannot wait to see him. I cannot wait until this trip is over. I cannot wait until we can get back into our regular routine. I'm so excited to have him home, to be able to have a conversation without a timer. It'll be nice to not be tied to the phone all the time, waiting, hoping. I am so looking forward to sleeping on my own side of the bed. I'm really looking forward to getting started on this adoption.

I'm getting antsy. I just want him home. Soon. Very soon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ups and Downs

I went to the Homeschooling Conference this weekend. It was FABULOUS! I love it there. To be surrounded by so many other like minded people is just so refreshing. That's hard to come by, these days. I know my friends love me but I think most of them think we're just crazy... crazy for homeschooling, crazy for milling wheat and making our own bread, crazy for making our own laundry detergent, crazy for co-sleeping, baby-wearing, extended nursing. They love me, but I'm not sure they get me. Sometimes it's nice to be around people that not only get it, but they agree. Anyway, some of the workshops were amazing. I went to this one about dealing with your strong-willed child. Well, the first thing she starts in with is a 12 question test to determine if you (not your child) are stong-willed. Now, I know that this may come as a shock to you but it turns out that... well... I'm strong-willed. Go figure. So anyway, it explains a lot about why DS3 and I have been going to the trenches so much lately. Will work on that.

Anyway, the conference was wonderful. I'm so happy I went. The only downside was the reminder that it was supposed to be DH and I's first overnighter without kids... ever. Yep, that's right. In 8 1/2 years, we have never both been away from the kids overnight. Well it happened this weekend. The only bummer was that we didn't go away together. Big bummer. There were so many times that I thought, "Man, I wish he was here to hear that." I miss him. He's my bestest friend.

I also found out today, and I thought I'd let you all know. Those girls that I had been praying for were matched with a family. It's a little bittersweet. I thought they were meant for us. I'm so very happy that they are going home. I'm so very happy that they don't have to wait any longer. All in God's timing. He knows which children are ours and He will see to it that we get them. It's all good.

Monday, May 31, 2010

too many "What if..."s

Sometimes I have to stop and question my sanity. I guess that means I am sane because the crazy people never stop to ask themselves if they are crazy, right?

This adoption process seems to be a little like being pregnant for the very first time. You have all these questions, you know how it goes for most people but you also know that there are so many uncertainties. You know that even if you do everything right, something awful may still happen. Even with all these things racing through your head, you are still so stinkin excited that you can't stand it. You imagine what your children will look like, what their personalities are, how they will fit into and change your family. You can't wait to meet them. You actually ache for the day that you will hold them in your arms.

But still...

Can I handle this? What if I can't?

Is this really what God wants us to do? What if it's not?

Am I really going to be able to help them? What if I can't do enough?

Are we nuts for wanting so many kids? What if something happens to us?

That's the one that got me. The other day I made mention that I had gathered up a whole box of "Wiggles" and other children's videos that I'm going to put in the yard sale we are doing to raise money for the home study. A good friend of mine heard me and said, "But aren't you going to need them again if you are adopting?" I replied with, "I don't think they will be young enough to want to watch them." She questioned, "They? Are you adopting more than one?" She then proceeded to tell me about a conversation that she had had with an adoption professional. (She and her husband had considered adopting at one point.) Evidently, the person had given her something to think about. I can't remember the exact wording but it went something like this: You have to really consider how many children you want because if something were to happen to you, you wouldn't want them split up. There are very few people who are willing to take in and raise large sibling groups. She said that had stuck with her. They have two (now grown) beautiful daughters. She also went on to tell me that they did, in fact, witness this actually happen. They have friends who, in their mid-thirties, died in a tragic automobile accident. They left behind five children under the age of five. No one in the family was willing to take all five of them so one family took the twins while another family took the three. She said to me that it broke her heart. She didn't think that she could have done that and that if it were her, she'd have taken all of them or none of them. She was very sad that they had to be split up.


Well, DH and I have talked about what if something happened to both of us. We have a guardianship planned out. We have life insurance so that the money would not be an issue in taking care of them. We have a plan... so why did it affect me so much?

There are so many what ifs. There are so many things that *could* go wrong. There are so many awful possibilities. After much thought and prayer, I realized the 'what if's don't matter. Now, don't think I'm so naive as to think that we are immune from tragedy. That because we are doing something really good and following God's leading---we will somehow be protected from the horrors of this world. It's not that at all. It's that I KNOW we can make a difference in these kids lives. I KNOW that God will provide us with the strength, patience (that's a big one for me), empathy, love, money, and abilities that we need to help these kids. I KNOW that our lives will be blessed having known them. I KNOW that being with us will alter their futures. Those are the things I KNOW. So many things *might* happen tomorrow. Then again, they might not. I can prepare for the worst, but I can not waste time worrying about what might happen. There is just too much work to be done. So now, I must set about my Father's business.

Oh, and something funny about the conversation with my friend. It actually didn't occur to me until much later, when the panic was over. When I had put the worrying away, I got to thinking about that story she told, about the five kids. What she didn't know is that at our agency, there is a LONG list of kids who are waiting to be matched with a family. She didn't know that is why we picked this agency, to take a child that's been waiting. She didn't know that on that list is a set of five sisters. She didn't know that before I even found this agency, I found those girls. She didn't know that I have felt inexplicably drawn to these girls. She didn't know that after I initially saw their listing, it was edited to become two siblings groups. The girls had been split up (by the government of the country they are in) to become sibling group of two and a sibling group of three so that they might be adopted faster. She didn't know how my heart was broken for these girls when I saw that. How I thought, "Somebody needs to adopt them all together!"

She couldn't possibly have known that I've now been wondering:

"What if that somebody is us?"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm up and running now!

DH has been gone for almost a week now. I knew I would need about a week to "mourn" so we cancelled school for this week. No aruguments from the troops. We just focused on being together and enjoying each other. Until we had to get staples in DS2's head. And today I woke up with a killer headache. I spent most of the day in bed while the boys played Wii. I hate not being a good mom on those days. I suffer a lot of guilt for it. I think they like it when I get a headache-untimed access to the video games. So I started feeling much better after a late lunch (very late-cause that's how we are around here). Got a call from a dear friend and talked on the phone for hours. Got the boys some dinner and to bed (late) and the mourning period was over. I have been cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, catching up on all things left undone. I feel good. It's funny because it came over me all of a sudden. I think somewhere out there, someone is praying for me. :) I love having the support of other Christians. And I am in awe that I have God, who cares so very much about me that he has them call me when I need them the most.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's been while, hasn't it?

So I've been wanting to post something for a while now, but to be honest, I've not had anything enlightening to say. I think part of it is wrapping my brain around the fact that my beloved was getting ready to go and is now overseas. For 10 weeks. I can do this. I know I can. And I know there are sooooo many who've sacrificed time with their loved ones for soooo much longer than that. I am so very grateful for their willingness to protect our freedom and to their families that have to do without them. I'm not upset about DH going, what he does can actually help to save lives so I would never keep him here. I'm really proud of him and what he does. It just really stinks to be so far away from him. He's my best friend. He loves me when I'm so very unlovable. He gets me. Well... most of the time, he gets me.

Before he left we got some of the paperwork filled out and now I'm going to work on some more and make some progress. We'll see how much I can get done. Anyway, I'm going to bed. Boys to chase tomorrow. Grocery shopping to do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Case of the Missing Milkshake

So there's this children's music artist. She's relatively famous now, as children's music artists go, you may have seen her on NickJr. Milkshake. Anyway, she's out of Baltimore, MD and before she got on NickJr, she was giving free concerts in the parks around here. I think DS3 was just a baby and we went to the concert. We ended up purchasing her CD and we LOVED it. We listened to it all summer. Every time we got in the truck, we heard, "open up a bottle of sunshine, mix it up with a bowl full of daydreams, pour it into a suitcase full of laughter that I found... you won't find me sittin around." Anyway, we lost it. We looked, and looked, and looked... we just couldn't find it anywhere. Many times since then, we've thought about it and wished we knew where it was.

Fast forward. I found myself getting irritated with the boys. It happens. Right? I mean, they're kids... they can be irritating. Not a big deal. Really. Except... I realized that it was happening more and more. And more often than not. That's not so good. I had this awakening. I realized that I wasn't enjoying them anymore. That really hurt me. Now, that's not to say that I thought my children were miserable and I NEVER enjoyed them. We did lots of stuff together that we all really enjoyed. Crafts, field trips, reading books, playing with play dough, even yard work. What I'm saying is, I used to enjoy them all the time. I saw the world through the eyes of my children. I experienced the wonder and excitement of everything new again. New to them. If I was cooking, I wanted them with me. Who cares about flour and eggs on the floor? If I was doing laundry, they sat on top of the washer and put in the detergent and the fabric softener. Every minute I had with them was a joy and a wonderful new experience. That had all gone away. Somehow, I thought dinner would be done faster if I did it myself. Laundry would be easier if I didn't have them sorting the socks by tossing them across the room. I don't know. I let the mundane, the duties, the stuff of life swallow me and convince me that it would be better to put my life in boxes... some where kids were allowed, some where they weren't. How did that happen? That's not me. It happened because I let it. I allowed myself to think that somehow, laundry, a clean house, and a well organized life was important enough to let it squeeze out my children. MY CHILDREN.

So I've spent a lot of time trying to get back to that other way of life. The way where I include them in everything that they want to participate in. It's hard to go back to thinking that way once you get away from it. Then the other day, DS3 (4yo) wanted to be big like his brothers. He wanted to make the bread. I enjoyed helping him. :) And I mean, I really enjoyed it. I laughed when the flour hit the floor. I beamed when he ran the blender all by himself. I held my breath when he cracked the egg. And I bit my lip to keep from laughing when he announced, "It's time for the east!" Somehow he never gets that 'y' out. And when he pressed that start button and turned to me full of pride and said, "I did it! I made bread because now I'm four years old!" I blinked back the tears long enough for him to jump down, run off to join his brothers, and leave me to clean up the kitchen while crying for joy. Why did I ever let that get away from me? I will NEVER do that again. I will NEVER allow the meaningless garbage of making it through the day take my children from me.

So you're wondering what all this has to do with the missing Milkshake CD. Later, that same day the boys and I were in the school room. We have been working on learning the books of the Bible. I couldn't find the CD with the books of the NT that we had used the last time we worked on it. And, it had been so long, that I just threw in another one. Well, DS1 and DS2, who had learned them, got really confused with the new song. SOOOOO, I started looking through ALL the cases trying to find "I'm Gonna Sing" with the correct version of the song. I knew it had to be somewhere, I just figured it had gotten put away in the wrong case. I must have looked inside a dozen cases, all the while the boys are trying to get used to the newer version. Then I opened a case from an audio book that the boys never really liked and there it was-Milkshake! I literally started squealing and jumping up and down. I couldn't even get out what it was to tell the boys. I put it in the CD player and started blasting the music. It was wonderful. I finally regained composure and the boys asked if we could take and listen to it in the truck. So we did. I have to tell you. I put that CD in the truck and despite the 60 degree weather outside, when the music came on I was smacked with the heat of July in my memories. Memories started flooding back, memories of a time when every day was an adventure to be had... we found ourselves at the park, at the zoo, playing in the sprinkler behind our house, whatever notion struck us. I literally started crying. Like I said, I'll never forget that again. I told my DH that I thought the CD was deliberately hiding from me because I didn't deserve to have those memories back. At least not until I figured things out. So now we are loving life, listening to Milkshake, and going where the wind (or the boys) blow.

I am so grateful to God that he helped me to see where we were and where we needed to get back to before I lost too much time with my kids. Don't ever take anything for granted.

Oh, and by the way, I was able to stay on task and find "I'm Gonna Sing" and we all know the books of the New Testament. It was in the case of another audio book that the boys didn't care for. That's why we hadn't found them. They didn't like those.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Great FB announcment

So we announced our plans on FB yesterday. The response was overwhelmingly positive. For that I am very grateful because a good many of the people we had already told had given us the responses listed in a previous post. I would like to respond to everyone individually but I'm afraid I would have to cut out too many details in the interest of time.

We are planning an international adoption. We feel really drawn to Colombia but found out our agency also has pilot programs in Costa Rica and Ecuador so we'll have to see where the God leads us. One of the reasons we narrowed it down to this area of the world is that I had 5 years of Spanish between high school and college. I'm sure I can drudge it back to the front of my memory with less effort than learning a whole new language, say Russian or Chinese. Also, we really like the way those countries focus on the children during the process rather than the adoptive parents. WE go to THEM. We stay with them in their county, on their turf, until they are attached to us. Only then do we get the all clear to bring them home. It seems a so much more loving way to disrupt their lives than some of the other methods used. I cannot imagine a better bonding experience than taking all of us out of our realm, our daily routines, and focusing on nothing more than getting to know each other and becoming a family. I also think that it would be good for the boys to experience how people in the rest of the world live.

We also feel drawn to a sibling group... yes, we will then become one of THOSE families... the ones with the suburban that functions as a clown car. You park, open the doors, and the kids just pour out! Hah! In all honesty, I'm really excited about filling my house with kids. For those of you who've seen my house, it will take a LOT of kids. :) Anyway, we don't know a lot of the details. We are trying to leave our thoughts and plans as open as possible in order to make sure that we get the children that God has planned for us. As daunting as it seems at this point to do all that paperwork and forms and homestudy (yikes!)... I draw comfort in knowing that God is in control, that He knows when we will bring them home and what their names will be. He knows where they are, what they've been through, and He watches over them while they wait for us.

So thank you for all who have been so supportive and are offering up prayers on our behalf. This is going to be a long process and I'm afraid that most of it will be spent waiting. I hope you continue to check in on us periodically. I hope you don't get bored.

As I mentioned yesterday, DS2 was semi-alarmed when he realized we were actually doing this. So today he asks, "Are we going anywhere today?" I said, "Yes, we have to take DS1 to guitar class." When he fired off another question, I realized I may not be making myself clear on this whole process. It's funny how kids brains work. His question, "After that are we going to go pick up our new kids?" Oh, if it only were that easy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Off it goes!

So we filled out the registration and mailed it into our agency today. Woohoo! It's the first official step. We will be working with a local agency. That's the first reason we chose them. The second is that they have an extensive list of kids that are waiting for homes. We aren't looking for the 'perfect child' or the 'ideal referral.' Some of these kids have been waiting a long time and they shouldn't have to wait any longer. Some are sibling groups, some have minor special needs, some not so minor. We will see where the Lord leads us. There's a long road between now and then. We have a lot of paperwork to do. The hope is that we get the first round of stuff sent out (requesting birth certificates, child abuse clearances, etc) before DH leaves so that the waiting for that to come back happens at the same time that he is away. Then, if all goes well, we'll be able to jump into the homestudy when he returns.

We've been talking about the adoption with the boys for so long now. Sometimes you just assume that they know what's going on. When I was writing the check for the registration fee, I was telling them who it was for and why. DS2 looked at me and said, "You mean we're really going to adopt? Really? More kids?" I guess we've been talking so long, they thought it was just talk. :)

Anyway, we are sooooo exicted. Please pray for us and this process. We know that it's going to be a long road. It will be exciting as details unfold but we are not so naive that we think it will go along without any hitches. We have faith that God will take care of us and help us. We will be praying without ceasing on this matter and we ask that ya'll take the time to pray for us as well. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why would you do THAT?!?!

So let's just get it out there. "Why would you do that? I mean, you have three beautiful, healthy children. Why can't you just be satisfied with what God has given you? And what about the boys... that's not very fair to them, is it?" Yes, we have heard this (and it's many variations) a lot when it comes to announcing our adoption plans. And it's not coming from just aquaintances. It's coming from friends, family, and people that I thought knew us and "get" us.

I'm sure that they all mean well. And I'm not sure that it's exactly fair to hold them to something that fell out of their mouths on a knee-jerk reaction to our announcement that we are planning an adoption. The truth is, I am so happy to share my thoughts with anyone when it comes to something that I'm passionate about. Whether it's raising kids that love the Lord, milling your own wheat into flour, cloth diapering, homeschooling or adoption-- I will tell you everything you want to know and then some things you probably don't. I just have a really difficult time answering those questions. When people put it like that, it makes me think that they've already made up their minds that they don't think we should or that they don't really want to hear the answer.

So here it goes, this is our story:
My second son was born in Sept '03. That Christmas, he was just a teeny-tiny peanut... well he was born at 9lbs 7ozs so how little could he be? All I know is that he was a lot smaller than he is now. Anyway, we were chilling watching TV one night and this program came on. "A Home for the Holidays" It's put on by the D*ve Thomas Foundation (you know, the founder of Wendy's). They are trying to raise awareness for the kids in Foster Care who are looking for homes and families to love them. It ripped my heart right out. I realize that I was an all-hormonal nursing mother holding a precious little baby, but I'm telling you, those stories were with me for a LONG time. That was the first seed that God put in my heart.

My DH and I talked about it off and on for the next couple of years. We always knew it was something that we wanted to do, but never was it time. Then we found out we were expecting baby number 3 at the same time we were building our house (right where the old one used to be). Yep, we moved out, knocked it down, built a new one and moved back in (while very pregnant and then with a newborn). Anyway, the original plan was to move in, get settled, and then start the process. At least, that was our plan. God gave us our third son. So we decided to wait until he was a little older.

So fast forward to Sept/Oct 2009. All of a sudden, all signs started pointing towards adopting. People I knew were talking about other people who were adopting. Adoption started showing up in online discussion groups as well as some mom's/homeschooling groups I'm in. We finally got the picture (well at least I did) when a guest speaker for the adult class talked about orphans on the same Sunday morning as the gentleman leading communion told a story about a little girl he saw being adopted in Russia. It all came out of nowhere and it seemed like I couldn't go a day without someone using some form of the word 'adopt'. Anyway, I started praying, I mean REALLY praying. I poured my heart and soul out to God. I begged to know if it truly was meant for us or if I was reading too much into it. Then we went to Bible Study the following Sunday morning. During the prayer, the speaker was listing off all the blessings God has given us... somewhere in the middle there was a pause and as he spoke the next word, the mic suddenly got a whole lot louder. What was the word you ask? Adoption. Now, I realize that he was referring to God adopting us as his sons and daughters but the change in volume alone was enough to make me jump out of my seat, let alone the fact that it happened on that Sunday, and that word. I've not questioned our choice since.

I could give you a million different reasons why we've chosen to adopt. What it comes down to, though, is that we believe that God wants us to. We believe that we have been blessed with this big house for a reason. We share it every chance we get. We have a Chevy Suburban... it seats 9. We have lots of room. We have always had plenty of food... plenty of love to go around. God gave us three beautiful, healthy children. Who are we to think that they are the only children he intended us to have? He has millions (443 million at last estimate) of children spread throughout this world that are cold, starving, living in the streets, sick, dying, hurting. They want nothing but someone to love them. They are innocent little children. They deserve nothing but the best, but what they get is worse than nothing. Who am I to think that God doesn't expect me to help them? He gave me three beautiful, healthy children of my own... why would I not take care of His children?