Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a ride!

This has been the most amazing couple months for us, so hard to even begin to explain.

We are in such a season as a family, with all the ups and downs, joys and terrors that entails.

We are parenting four amazing teenagers and four amazing pre-teens.  Yes, this is a challenging stage of life, for our children and ourselves - and complicated by our long and unpredictable wait for our dear little ones.  We honestly feel like sometimes we don't know from moment to moment what is going to be happening in the next month.

God has surely provided.  He continues to provide, even as people doubt.  We see it daily with our own eyes.  How do you explain it?  God is in control.  Why we are having to deal with the IRS this long when that is one of the ways we envisioned finishing up paying for this adoption, is a question we cannot answer.  And yet we see God providing for each need of this adoption.  We are so blessed by our church family - who are truly embracing what it means to be family - and family to these little ones.  I had ended an email to someone by saying "a mama will do anything for her babies, even her babies she hasn't met yet".  And the response was "yes, these are our babies too!  We are the hands and feet and God has called us to the least of these, to orphans and widows."  She told me that we put into action what she read.

I don't know about that, and I have a hard time when someone tries to make us out to be saints. 

We aren't.  We are an ordinary family, with some extraordinary things going on.  But it is all as it should be.  God orchestrates.  I have no explanation for why he has called us.  Why we are on this journey.  We never planned it. 

But I am so eternally grateful.

I rejoiced in making tacos with my family tonight, a huge amount.  I rejoiced in making yet another batch of apple related canning things to use the bounty of what we have.  I rejoiced in seeing teens and preteens see bits of life coming together.  Everyone has their own road, and each one of our children does.  We try to very deliberately plan for each of our kids, to give them the opportunities they need in life to be who God designed them to be.  I rejoiced in my teens helping volunteering for a community event. 

Life isn't easy.  People in their stress strike out and sometimes you happen to be in their way as they do.  They are dealing with their own hurts and concerns.  It hurts. 

But I know that God has a plan.  I know that at the moment, I see some of it.  There are days where we see through the shadows, and there are days we see through the sunshine.  Lately it seems our life fluctuates from moment to moment. 

We are waiting on two priceless little girls.  I have children at home who are very nervous about the unknown of when we will be gone, what our timeline might be for our little girls coming home.  I have two kids (like me) who like to plan it out moment by moment.  But that is not where we are living right now.  I could stress about that, or I could rest in what I see, which is that we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.  I know that I may not have all our fees in hand as of yet, but that they are coming.  I wish I knew the exact date - that would really be wonderful.  But I have seen that God is never late.  Somehow often not early, but never late.  When Reece's Rainbow joined with us, we so thought that they would be helping a lot more than they have been able to, but God has his own plan for that.  There are so many kids in need.  I hope and pray they all find homes.  My job is to get mine home.  I took my two youngest daughters shopping today for the material they wanted to make blankies for their baby sisters.  I know what they will be doing yet this next week.  It was an amazing thing to see their hearts as they chose patterns for little ones they haven't met yet. 

I know that folks realistically question how this will get done.  I get it.  We have several different options at this point.  Several.  It will get done.  With or without help.  We are so close.  I never expected to be this close at this date (well, a while back I did, but there have been so many delays). 

I look forward to very quietly saying "I told you so" to a few people.  I have seen it five times.  I would be a fool if I didn't say I know it is coming.

Our next expenses:  $3500 to $4000 for our court trip
$8800 for our final adoption agency fees

$6000 (or maybe a bit less) for our final trip when we bring the girls home.

That includes everything - embassy fees of about $800, $400 for our in country stay, $400 or more for donations to nannies and care centers,

I know that I will be a stay at home mom once this is done, but in the meantime, I have been blessed to be able to work.  And now I am able to pick up long days when my husband is home and not be gone when he isn't.  And to make the same amount or more.  God is so good.  I know also how I will add to our income once the little ones are home.  I love to see what we have put away by canning, harvesting and all that.  I have reached a point where I really don't feel the need to explain to anyone anymore.  I know in my own head.  I know where we are at.  I know our plans.

Adoption is expensive.  Life is expensive.  And it is priceless.   Each one of our children is priceless.  God could care less.  It is just paper to Him.  I agree.  I have seen it all come.  Yes, we welcome anyone who wants to join with us.  We would be foolish if we didn't.  But we do have a plan, one way or the other.  Folks don't seem to think we do at times, but sometimes we just don't plan to share.  It is personal. 

God is all about loving people.  God is all about each one of us.  God loves us as we are, and will meet us where we are.  Please go meet Him.  Look at the people around you.  God loves them.  He is in them, He created them.  What would He have you do?

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Calling all prayer warriors!!!!!!

Quick update after yesterday!

Miracles may very well be in motion!!!  I cannot share too much, it is all changing too fast!

But, but, we MAY be able to make our court date!

We don't know yet if things will work out, but it looks like it is a possibility - which if you read my post yesterday, then you know that is a huge change!

SO, the prayer requests are: for this process and what seems to be maybe moving.  For the funds we would need to travel - our tax return is delayed - yet again - like for so many adoptive parents.  We were so hoping that these funds would be available for this trip.  And they won't be.  God has his plans, I know he does and they are for our good, but we need to buy plane tickets (if this all works) relatively soon, not to mention the agency fees (though they may be gracious knowing the return is coming).  And my job situation is changing.  In a good way for us.  I won't be needed on as regular a basis but will instead have the opportunity for a long, financially productive day regularly, when Steve can be home with the kids.  This is much more practical than what we are dealing with now, and still provides some income while keeping our family functioning the way we want it to.  It is actually an improvement.  For a few hours it looked worse, and then as the situation clarified, it is exactly what we need, should I choose to take it.  Because I know that I won't be doing what I have been doing.  I cannot with my family's needs and certainly not with the little ones home.

So, if you could just pray with us.  And keep our growing kids in your prayers as they journey toward adulthood.  There are lots of lessons everyone is learning and we just keep trying to be their support and safe foundation.  It is all good, nothing horrible, just learning to deal with unpleasant coworkers, think out situations thoroughly, grow in faith, all of that.  Like I said, the journey.  That is our focus. 

Thank you so very much!  I so so so covet your prayers and you have all been so encouraging.  Honestly, often comments come right when I need that exact thought.  You have been God's ministering voices!  You have no idea when I actually get to read your comments, or how badly I may need it at that exact moment.  We are running a marathon, and sometimes we get weary.  Not giving up, just discouraged.  Kind words are a sweet balm.


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Can I share my heart today?

You know how some days you feel like you just aren't ready to share your heart, and then there are other days where you just HAVE to get it out as it is tearing you up inside?  Yep, this is one of those days.

I don't want this to sound like a whiny post, because we just attended the funeral of a wonderful man of faith, who was just a year older than my husband, and suddenly was gone from this earth.  We aren't facing that.  We are together, healthy, growing and life is good.  It is always challenging - raising kids is, and there are times where you just face those hard spots, and you take them one step at a time, one action at a time, and you work it through.  That is life.  To see the growth, the life, it's all good.

Today I am very sad though.  We have a court date in Ethiopia.  Yay!

EXCEPT!!!!!

We don't have a form we need from Immigration as of yet.

Somehow we got submitted to court without it.

But we have to have it for court, and at this point it is unlikely that we can get it processed in time.

There is NO DOUBT, we WILL get it, just not in time for the November 22nd court date.  At least, not terribly likely.

We have been working with Immigration to do everything possible to make this happen.  But it is a government agency, and there are certain timelines that are tough to change.  Things have to be processed.  I get it.

I am impressed to say that I have been able to talk to a wonderful Immigration officer who has been very helpful and done everything she can do, and given me lots of information so I could do everything that we could do, but it looks like we don't meet the criteria for "expedited" processing.  And I get that too.  Our children in Ethiopia are not in danger of dying.  It really isn't likely to threaten their lives that this will put them longer out from getting home.  It isn't.  It honestly isn't.  I tried to make their medical case as honest as I could, sent the documentation that I do have, but they will be okay overall. 

Which is a blessing.

We have done all that we can do at this point.  I have kept our agency up to speed every time I have talked to Immigration and we have all done all that we can. 

The final tiny possibility of hope is that we MIGHT be able to be fingerprinted early.  At this point we have been granted a fingerprinting appointment for November 21st.  (Day before our court date in Ethiopia, and the information would still need to be processed to get us the form we need.)  We can TRY to get the Homeland Security people in Milwaukee to fingerprint us early, but only after we get the written information on our fingerprinting apoointment, and that is still in the mail.  I don't know of anyone who has had any luck showing up at the Milwaukee office and getting fingerprinted early.  I only know of one person who HASN'T, which means I only know of one person who has TRIED.  IF we were to be fingerprinted within the next week, I suppose it MIGHT be POSSIBLE for us to have the form back in our hands by November 14th, which is the date we are told we MUST have it by. 

Doesn't exactly look hopeful.

All I know to do, is to do every single thing possible.  And that is what we will do.  I guess.  Likely I will get hubby to schedule a work day in Milwaukee (he does several a week) and I will ride along and bring things to do.  And PRAY.  And if it doesn't work, it doesn't.  But I will bring photos of our little girls and appeal to everyone that will listen to me.  Kindly.  But honestly and from a mama's heart.

So, today having gotten the final word that we won't get a chance at expedited processing and knowing our chances dwindle with every passing day, well, today I want to curl up and cry.

But, laundry has to be done, work has to be done, applesauce has to be made, there are lovely kids to care for, animald to care for and life goes on.  But, let me tell you, I will be packing the care packages I had hoped to take to my little girls and sending them with a family that is going soon, so I can think of my little ones with their packages and maybe understanding that someone loves them and is coming.

But today I am sad that it won't be soon that we get to meet them, and that I honestly have no idea how far back this could put us.  My worst fear is that we won't get another court date for six months or more.  My prayer is that we could get a December date.  That is impossible.

So, today, I am going to do the only things I know how to do.  I am going to care for the wonderful children who are here.  I am going to sort all their summer things out of their drawers and pack them away so no one tries to wear flip flops in December.  I am going to plan menus.  I am going to write.  I am going to pray.  And I will keep doing all that needs to be done.  The simple things in life keep us moving.  Kids and animals like to eat, kids keep growing, floors need washing, on and on it goes.  That keeps us from letting our disappointments wear us to nothing.  We just keep going.

There are some very cool things in the works regarding beginning an adoption ministry, and I will try to keep you posted.  I know NOTHING about any of how to do it, I just know that it is needed, families are needed, homes are needed.  I have no idea how to start it - but I know someone who does!!!!!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Priceless Giveway!.

I had the opportunity to read a book by Tom Davis, Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World (www.SheIsPriceless.com).  It was fabulous and is his second novel.  Tom Davis is "the president and CEO of Children's HopeChest, a global ministry that empowers individuals, churches and businesses to care for orphans in Africa, Russia, India, Latin America, and Eastern Europe (http://www.hopechest.org/).  He has authored four books, including the first in this series, Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World.  Tom and his wife, Emily, live in Colorado with their seven children, two of whom they adopted from Russia."  Actually, I have read both of the books, as well as one of his nonfiction books.  I highly, highly recommend all of his books.  Priceless is set in Russia and opened my eyes to things I had only heard of in rumor.  He does a fabulous job of linking faith and life and true issues of concern.  I have to admit, I read this book in probably less than two days, which is a bit of a feat around here, even though I am a fast and avid reader.  Life is just very active and generally I only read at night after everyone heads to bed or if I am sick.  I think I read while Steve drove, I read long after my bedtime, every second I could.  It was that good.

So, here is the deal!  I was blessed by Children's HopeChest with a SIGNED COPY of Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World.  It is exclusively for a giveaway from my blog.  I would love to bless someone with this very special item.  The book itself and the message is truly powerful, as well as well written and riveting in and of itself, but hand signed by the author is very cool in general.

I would like to give it away to someone who follows or happens to read my blog.  So, the deal is simple, basically because I really want things easy to figure out and I haven't done this before.  Post a comment on my blog, and I will put everyone who does in a drawing for the book.  I will close this on Sunday, because that is God's day (had to pick a day somehow, right?).  I will email the winner and get your address to send you the book.  Pretty simple!

Please check out Tom Davis and the amazing word he does!  He has a wonderful blog:    www.CThomasDavis.com.

So, on Sunday, I will get in touch with the winner and send the book out to you on Monday!!!!  I cannot wait to see who will get it!  What fun!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, October 3, 2011

NEWS!!!!!!!!

WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!!

We are needing to be in Ethiopia on November 22nd, 2011!!!!  This will be our court date for our two little girls!!!!  Steve and I will both be going, and an "as yet unnamed family member" will be staying with our great eight at home on the farm.  This will probably be about as close as Steve and I will ever get for an exotic honeymoon!  LOL!  What a crazy trip!

We don't yet know when exactly we will be leaving, that is all up in the air yet, though we are in touch with our travel agency - Susan Parr Travel does the most amazing adoption travel work you have ever seen!  I am so excited and so scared at the same time!

After court, Steve and I will fly back home, as of course we are needed there.  We are hoping that all goes smoothly and we are able to travel two to four months after passing court to bring our littlest girls home to their siblings.  So far, that is all we know.

If you could please pray for the following needs as we enter the final leg of this journey:

* we need to pay the final fees to the adoption agency, a total of around $8800
* we need to purchase airline tickets, we are unsure of the total as of yet, probably $3000 to $5000
* there will be fees of $808 payable to the Embassy I believe for processing of the next form for immigration.

We are awaiting our paychecks this week to send in the current immigration form needed.  Sigh.  They are coming, but they just aren't here yet.  It is a season of being wildly careful and trying to balance things that are way beyond our budget.  Those are the realities of adoption.  I hope some day we can fund someone's adoption!  What a blessing it would be to know of someone in the situation we are in now, and to just supply the need, on behalf of the children who need a family.  I would just love it!!!!

So, that is our good news!!!  Progress! 

And on another note, life is up to its usual adventures!  Alex was the Dad in the play Bridge to Terebithia with Evergreen Productions  this last week.  He was awesome in a very delicate role and his maturity really shone through.  Zeri was recruited from being a stagehand to being the school custodian for the show, and even had a costume.  He had so much fun!  Faith was the bunny who introduces the show and was just adorable.  We were the official "dog handlers" as there was a real dog in the show - he made it way easy as he is the most laid back dog ever.  As usual, the whole family was involved and it was great fun.

So much fun that several of the kids were at tryouts tonight for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with Evergreen.  As much as I hate to imagine any more running, the show is so great, the folks are so great, and the kids learn so much and grow so much, I just cannot turn it down!  I WON'T be in it this year (I was a telephone lady the last two years) because likely Steve and I will be en route to Ethiopia for the last show!

Tomorrow Faith and Tsion start singing lessons with a great lady.  They are so excited.  I cannot wait to see this new adventure.

Faith has gotten a puppy, all her own.  Dee-Dee is absolutely adorable and totally knows that she is Faith's puppy, needing to sleep on something that Faith wore if she isn't home.  It has been a time of really getting a glimpse into parenthood with a new baby, complete with sleepless nights.  Two weeks later, Dee-Dee is starting to sleep through the night, for which poor Faith is grateful (Mom and Dad took the puppy in their room one night so she could get some rest!).  I will post photos as soon as I can.  She is an English Cocker Spaniel/"something that looked like an Austrailian Shepherd mix" puppy.  Golden and with those curly little cocker ears.  White paws and a white stripe on her chest.  Not like we needed "something else going on", but it sure is fun.  (Our elderly german shepherd has been showing her age and doing more and more poorly.  We are hoping that she will improve, but it doesn't look likely.)  Faith and Zeri and Tsion are signed up for dog project in 4H and will take the dogs to dog training starting in January, so I am hopeful that all will learn some more manners.  Faith has read every dog training/raising/care book that we have been able to find, just devouring it, and then telling me all about what it told her to do to teach her puppy.  She takes her responsibilities seriously!  

Ben still is busy with soccer.  Solly had a bit of an adventure and so is not playing right now, but has gained a great deal of wisdom.  Let's just leave it at that.

Alex and Zeri are finishing up driver's ed, and I have to admit that I am GREATLY looking forward to having more drivers in the family - and we have acquired my dad's pickup truck as he has moved up to a fancy SUV - which he and Mom greatly deserve!!!!!  And we are grateful for a third vehicle that soon will be able to help with some of the running!!!!

I am trying to write more often, but have to admit that I am a bit sheepish about it.  I AM a published author a few times over, in a local magazine, but the thought of people actually reading what I write is still amazing.  I would love to write the story of our family's growth and adventures, but that is going to take some time!

Well, I have to admit, I am trying to learn to slow down some, as we prepare for this next phase of our lives.  The one thing I love about winter is that it grounds us at home a bit more, in theory anyway!

God bless you all!!!!



"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11