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.