Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Supporting Missionaries; Supporting My Friends

Our dear friends Angie and Brian Barber are heading to the mission field. They both end their jobs here in the US after Christmas and are heading to missionary training towards the end of January. They have to reach some major goals to be able to depart for the Dominican Republic. Their goal is to leave in the spring of 2014 right after missionary training. Their hearts are there already and they feel called to minister there, but the money isn't there yet. It's been encouraging to me to see them walking in faith and planning to go even though the money isn't there. At this point the finances are the only road block.

They still lack about $8,500 for their one time giving and for monthly support once they get there they lack about $1,600. That is what people would continue to give monthly for their living expenses. To be quite honest I had no idea that it cost so much to go do missions. Much like adoption I thought that willingness was the biggest obstacle. That once someone was willing to go to a foreign country or once someone was willing to adopt that everything else would easily fall into place. No doubt about it God can provide but just like for our adoptions it took a lot of people pitching in to make it happen.

They are heading to the DR with an organization called Kids Alive. When we first moved to Valparaiso, IN I was looking for a place to volunteer and found Kids Alive on the ECFA website. (That's the website you can go to to make sure your contributions are going to a reputable organization. You can see how organizations like World Vision, Compassion International and Kids Alive use their funds.) Kids Alive had a good track record then and they still do. Kids Alive is dedicated to rescuing kids around the world. From what I understand they set up what we would consider foster homes for children. They set them up to get good food and be able to go to school. Brian and Angie will be a part of this process and work with these children at school as well as doing many other things on the ground to make the whole organization run smoothly.

Angie is currently the Children's Ministry Director at GracePoint in Valparaiso (the church we came from and helped plant.) She has that spark that is so visible when working with children. She can make the room light up and you can see the glow of excitement on children's faces when she's playing games or teaching or just making them feel special. I can not wait to hear stories of the lives that are going to be changed by their presence in the DR. Brian is great with a camera and taking pictures. I'm excited to see how his love for photography is going to be able to be used to help communicate with the children's sponsors around the world. He also has a silly side which I think the children are going to really love.

Would you consider helping them out and adding to their fund either to the monthly giving or to the one time donations? This would help them in a major way. If 80 of my friends/family gave $20 a month for the next year they would be fully funded in the support they need to minister there. You can be assured that this donation will make difference in these children's lives and in Brian and Angie's lives as well.

Thanks for jumping on board to help!
Here's the link to sign up:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks and giving

This year we have so much to be thankful for. I find myself in a very content place. For once we aren't waiting on anything. For years we were longing to have a baby. Longing for the adoption to go through. Longing for what was next. And now at this point in life I feel completely content with our sweet little family. Life is good. We continually talk about how privileged we are as a family. I teared up praying the other day and thanking God for all of our blessings. I told God it was not lost on us how much extra we have been given, way above and beyond what we need. Daniel has a great job, which is rare these days. I am able to stay at home, which is also a major privilege. I want to be generous with what we have as well as acknowledge that this excess is not meant for me alone to attain.

One way to share is by helping our dear friends Brian and Angie Barber. They are heading to the mission field in 2014 with Kids Alive International. They still need funds to be able to reach their goal though.

What ways are you planning to give back this year? What ways are you planning to make a difference for others around you? In good times and in bad it always does my heart good to give. It puts things in perspective and allows God to use you in ways you may not have imagined possible.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looking Back

Do you write in your Bible?     I do.

It's hard to explain to a 3 year old that it's ok for Mommy to write in her Bible when writing in books is NOT ALLOWED. Rules are so confusing. :)

Anyway--- I have written in my Bibles for forever. Once I even got a new Bible and 1st thing I did was hi-light my favorite verses.

The Bible I currently use is super special to me. I got it when we moved from Tennessee to Indiana in 2009. It was a time of change, a time of risk, a time of faith. I wanted and needed God's Word more than ever during that time. There were special verses that I would read and not only would I underline or hi-light them, but I would also date them and sometimes put a little blurb about what was going on in our lives at the time.

Today I was looking back; it's always healthy for me to take some time to look back and reflect on where I've been. God has done some amazing things in my life and I couldn't resist sharing what some of the verses that were underlined and the blurbs beside them. I never want to forget these.

Luke 12:22-26 "Then Jesus said to his disciples; 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable your are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'"

These verses are underlined with the date 4/3/13 and the blurb says,  "we have an accepted offer on our Valpo house contingent on the buyer selling their house." *Tomorrow 07/12/13 we will close on that house. They have sold their house and after a new roof it's a done deal tomorrow! I am a little sad (mostly sentimental) since this is the house both boys came home to, but very relieved that we will no longer have two house/rent payments. Whew and to think of all the time I spent worrying when these very verses were the ones I read the day of the offer.

The next one was:
Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." This one is dated 09/02/2012 with ask, seek, & knock hi-lighted. Then I wrote my requests: 1. new baby 2. new job. God answered both. Daniel is now serving at The Chapel in Grayslake, IL. He took the job in November of 2012. And we are about to finalize Oakley's adoption on August 19, 2013. Oakley is currently 5 months old and doing so so well. We are getting adjusted nicely to being a family of four. Just thinking back we had no idea Oakley was even in the picture or when we would join our family on 09/02/2012, but God knew. What a miracle.

This season is ending- Selling our house tomorrow and finalizing Oakley's adoption next month are two HUGE milestones in our lives. But looking back always reminds me that there is a future. That there is more to come. That the God who has led us this far will continue leading us. He will remain faithful even when we are not. All of the looking back helps me push forward with a thankful heart. So glad God blessed us with the ability to have real and personal relationships with Him and I'm extremely grateful for his Word which is living and active.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Some Things are Worth Remembering Some Things are Worth Forgetting

Not sure if I want to remember this or not. Maybe somehow somewhere it will help someone else. Who knows. Not sure if I want to forget this or not, but it's a part of our journey. Our journey to adopt Oakley.

Today was our last post placement visit.

In the adoption world you fret and fear the initial home study visits. You clean your house and then clean it again. You worry that something will be out of place and that you will be denied the possibility to adopt a child. Then you the child is placed in your arms. You are responsible for some more visits usually from that same social worker that did your initial home study visits and interviews. Someone that knows more about you than you care to admit due to all the questions you have previously answered. By the time the post placement visits happend with Manny's adoption I was still nervous, but I had a relationship with our social worker and at least knew her. With Oakley's adoption we moved from Indiana to Illinois when he was 2 months old. We were due a post placement visit at 2 months and at 4 months. So as soon as we moved I got on the ball trying to find someone to come do our post placement visits.

Because of our move I had never met our new social worker at the time of the post placement visit. You would think anxiety would be high; I, however, TOTALLY forgot about the appointment. (I want to blame it on the newborn who wasn't sleeping much yet....but decided to sleep in that day, but that might not be completely fair.) I got a phone call from our new social worker at 8:30am saying she was----OUTSIDE OUR HOUSE. Everyone in our family was still asleep. I told her I'd be there in a second, threw on some clothes and a hat and invited her into our still messy house. Daniel and I had stayed up late the night before and NOTHING was on my radar for early that Monday morning. {major oops!} She was very kind, but had to look into every (messy barely moved into) room in our house.  I was embarrassed, but honestly at that point there was nothing I could do. I apologized and we just went on with the get to know you interview part of asking questions about Oakley and how he was doing, developing, eating, and sleeping. (He hasn't been sleeping at all 'mam---until TODAY, when he was supposed to be my alarm clock. Little stinker!)

So fast forward to today....our 2nd and last post placement visit for this adoption. {Each state & agency have varying requirements for the number of post placement visits and the length of time until finalization can occur.} I set my alarm for today 3 days ago. I had the entire downstairs clean before I went to bed. And I felt very calm about this visit. Oakley was still sleeping (Seriously can we plan a social worker to come every day so he will keep sleeping in???) but the rest of us were dressed and ready for her arrival. She came, asked questions, got to see how much Oakley had grown and that was it. Easy breezy and she left.

Then Manny looked at me and said, "Mommy, do we get to keep Oakley?" I said, "Yes, baby, we get to keep him. He's staying here with us he's your brother." I have no idea where he got this idea. Maybe I planted it there while trying to explain why we even had to have a post placement visit to a 3 year old. But all I could do was cry. I cried over the tragedy of adoption. I cried because it's not natural. No one comes into your house 2 & 4 months after you give birth to check on you and the baby unless there is something majorly wrong. Don't get me wrong I am forever grateful for adoption and for us being able to build our family this way. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to raise these two amazing boys. But there is an underlying grief and a realization the creeps in every now and then that this is not the way it was meant to be. Adoption isn't easy. It's messy. It's complicated. It's hard to explain and at times when a big brother thinks he is going to have to give back his baby brother it's heart wrenching.

We heard from our lawyer that it will get to officially finalize Oakley's adoption sometime after July 31st. At that moment I plan to celebrate and breathe that final sigh of relief. But until then I will try to remember some of these things, and try to forget some of them as well. Because God's got this. He can handle the mess. He can redeem the pain and He will see us through.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Live as wise

I've been reading as a devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It is perfect for this season of my life. Such great depth and very thought provoking, but it doesn't take all day. WE have moments around here, barely seconds not hours on end. It's just not that season with a 3 year old and a 6 week old.

Each day there is a devotion and then a couple of verses to look up.
Some days I barely get to the verses, some days I keep reading, and some days I get so distracted by my iphone that I don't get the gist of what's being spoken to me.

But yesterday was different. The word was clear to me. I needed to take it and run w/ it. I needed to let it simmer. I needed to make some changes in my life because I had been in the Word that day.

Here's what I read- Ephesians 5:15 "Be very careful, then how you live- not as unwise, but as wise,"

Hmmmm. Am I just living life letting it happen to me and picking up what's left the best I can or am I living wisely? Am I being careful about the commitments I make and the company I keep? Am I living a life that is pleasing to the Lord and honoring to Him? Am I setting a good example for my boys? Am I being wise or just wastefully walking the path set before me?

One week from today we are moving. Life is crazy right now. We are definitely in a time of transition, but I feel like what better time to start paying attention. To not just let life happen to us, but to make wise choices moving forward.

I'm typing this as my house is a total disaster and we have a house showing tomorrow. So perfection will not be attained right here right now, but wisdom. To me that's different. Possibly even attainable. Hmmm. Still pondering this. I love it when the Lord plants a little seed and you want to cultivate it and learn more. I am eager to search His word and find more and more on wisdom. This could prove to be a daunting challenge, I'm just so thankful that my walk with the Lord is real and personal and that He speaks to me through His Word.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Three Years Apart

They will always be three years apart. These boys of mine. Three years. Manny turns 3 today. How is that even possible? He is such a kindhearted sweet little fella. He brings so much joy to our family and was one of the main reasons that Oakley's birthmom picked our family so that her son could have a big brother to look up to.

Three years.

Three years ago we were grieving the loss of the child we thought would be ours forever, but were only allowed to keep for a few days. The call we got when Manny was born was such a thrill.
We found out late in the afternoon, it was a Sunday. It was snowy. We found out that he was only 45 minutes away in the hospital, but we weren't welcome yet since his birthmother wasn't ready to meet us. We met him when he was 3 days old. {Sometimes birthdays are hard for adoptive moms since a lot of us miss the actual birth. Sometimes that has to be grieved as well.}

Forever and always Manny's birthday will come a week after Valentine's Day. And 23 days after his little brother's birthday. And right around President's Day weekend. I always hope that no matter where we are or what's going on the Manny feels loved and cherished, but especially on his birthday!

Lately he's been going around saying, "I'm a Rockstar!" You are so right Manny, you are a rockstar! You are an amazing little guy who sometimes looks for Jesus under your shirt because we sing songs about Jesus being in your heart. You are growing so big and so tall. You are so handsome and we have committed to your "twists" aka dreads for your hair. I love love love them and think they totally fit your personality.

We went to a store the other day and you started a conversation with the guy selling shoes. You told him you were wearing your, "Tennessee Tennis Shoes." I'm pretty sure you could have sold him a pair of shoes the way you were being so chatty with him. You have a gift, my sweet child, you make people happy, you make strangers smile. You are not shy and want to know EVERYONE'S names. More times than not you will remember their names and usually their entire name at that. I am so glad that God choose you to be the child who first called me Mommy. And I love it when you pray, even when you pray for pets and people then roar like a lion right before you say A-men. You are a treasure. You are truly a gift from God. I pray you will fall in love with Jesus and that he will use you in mighty ways. May you never ever forget your name: Emmanuel means God is with us. God is with you wherever you go and whatever you do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Moving Right Along

Our birthmom has a tentative appointment. We are not 100% that this is the actual C-Section date or not, but it might possibly be. Feb 1st, 2013. THAT'S 10 DAYS FROM TODAY! Yahooooo!

I texted with our birthmom yesterday and she said that she can't wait to give us our baby. Hopefully we can meet her the night before maybe. As of now she wants us to be there with her in the hospital.

We talked about how we make a good team she and I, both mothering this child.

I told C, our birthmom, that {at an adoption meeting at our new church} I told a lady that we were expecting a baby within a few weeks. The lady responded that I don't even look pregnant. hahaha. C said yes- we make a good team. She gets fat and I get to have all the sleepless nights soon. She is so funny.

We are living by faith. That is my current response to all the questions lately. That we are going through lots of transition and that we don't have lots of answers. We know that God is with us and that we are going to be ok no matter what happens. We are majorly aware that this world is not our home lately and we want so badly to honor God no matter the season we are in.