Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas!! A blog-tastic holiday card!


Initially I was going to write a Christmas letter and include it in our Christmas cards.  And then I realized, I write about our lives regularly in our blog so to sum it all up in one succinct letter seemed silly. Instead, we thought it would be easier to have everyone visit our blog for our Christmas card post.  And here it is!!

Last year at this time we were preparing for Justin’s graduation with his Masters in English Education and it was also Jack’s first Christmas!  This last year has been an amazing time for Justin in his first year of teaching.  After graduating, he took the spring semester to cover two different long term substitute positions at local high schools.  For the fall he was offered a position in Norfolk teaching eighth grade reading.  While it has been a challenge, he knows he is right where he’s supposed to be. 

As for me, I am still working with the same company in the same office but have put my advanced degree on hold for now.  I miss my boys so much while I am at work that anything else that tugs at my heart just cannot seem to compete for my time right now.  

Having Jack in our family has made for an awesome year.  Watching him grow and change and learn everyday is such a treat.  He brings such joy to our lives and we cannot imagine life without him.  He is truly a boy’s boy and loves to throw the ball, play outside, and run his cars and trucks around the house.  He is also very kindhearted and is tender with his baby dolls and stuffed animals.  What would bedtime be without the slew of animals and blankies in the crib?  Jack has the amazing privilege of being cared for by his papa (Amanda’s dad) and his Ho-Ho (Justin’s dad) while mom and dad are at work.  We have been blessed by support from our families and it puts us at ease knowing Jack is in great hands with family!

As you all know by now, we are on the waiting list for our adoption process and hope that 2013 will be the year we bring home our baby boy from Uganda!  The waiting has been very difficult and with the uncertainty in the country it seems our timeline continues to get pushed back every few months.  The wait time when we started was 6-8 months after immigration approval but now it is up to 12-15 months.  As we received immigration approval in April, 2012, we hope and pray we will receive a referral in the spring which would most likely have us traveling in the summer.  We encourage you to follow our blog (click the “Join This Site” link in the panel on the right) to receive a notification when we make any updates or post blog entries.

I cannot talk about our adoption without speaking to how we have been blessed in the support raising.  We have had so many of you give your time and talents to help us raise funds and we are getting closer and closer to our goal to raise half of our total needed funds for this process which equates to approximately $15,000!  We see this as further affirmation that we are following God’s calling to adopt a little boy from Uganda and cannot thank you enough for supporting us!  You are amazing!!

Barring any unforeseen circumstances (like we somehow miraculously get a referral in the next two weeks) this will be the last blog post of the year.  We are very much looking forward to spending some quality time together as a family and not thinking about work or anything we “have” to do.
Much love this holiday season! 

Blessings to you and yours,
Justin, Amanda, and Jack

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Moving up the list...#18

I just realized I didn't post when we got our monthly update!  How could I not have?  I know it was the same week of Justin's surgery so I'm sure I was just distracted.  So here it is!  As you can see in the title, we have moved up one on the list.  Even though it's only one spot and it seems that we're creeping so slowly up the list, this one move seems like a huge jump!  November's news was very disheartening when we didn't move at all and I think I would have been very down about not moving again.

Things are still moving very slowly in the country as Uganda continues to revisit and reorganize their adoption program and policies.  We are very thankful to be with an adoption organization that is integral in that process in the country!  It continues to reaffirm that we chose the right agency for us.  However, we also know that there are so many people out there using different organizations and we are thankful for them too! The most important part of this process is finding families for children.  And the reality is, as I've stated before, the priority is to keep those kids in the country with family or someone in their village that can adequately care for them.  That is priority of our agency, other agencies we know of, and this policy revision happening in Uganda.  However, we know that is not a possibility with many of these children and that's where we come in...when other options have been exhausted.

That being said, we trust that God already knows who our little boy is and when he will join our family.  We're just hoping that's sooner than later!!  It is very likely that 2013 is our year (given the timelines, late summer/early fall) which is less than a year now!!  So for now we live in the now...which is #18.  Here's to moving up the list!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Many places all at once

As I sit here at the hospital waiting for Justin to get out of surgery, I feel the need to be in many places all at once. I know my dad is home with Jack and they are doing well. And I know my place is here with my husband, but I want to be both places at once.  Which also brings me to the fact that there is always a piece of me that feels like I should be in Uganda.  We are so blessed beyond belief here and yet I know he is there with much less.  Not just less stuff, but less love.  I am sure the workers at his babies home take good care of him and do everything they can to love him but it cannot compare with what we are ready and willing to show/share with him.   I'm sure this coming year when we are in Uganda we will feel pulled to be home with Jack even though we will be where we need to be with James. I know my friends with kids in middle/high school feel this same many places at once deal so I'm guessing it only gets worse.  How do you prioritize your family members and their events/activities?

I love that the Psalm that tells me that God is everywhere is the same one that says he knit me in my mothers womb.  I love that the same God that is with James right now when we cannot be already knows who our son will be and when he will be with us.  And that he will be here with Jack when we have to leave to go get James.  The thought of leaving Jack for 2 weeks is so heart wrenching but we are so thankful for amazing support that will be here with Jack and an amazing God that is there with James as we wait.

Psalm 139For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, 
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, 
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thankful for the many blessings

It seems like these days I only post when I am upset or frustrated about something or we get a waiting list update.  I think that's mainly because whatever sparks my passion to write is what I write about and maybe I've been too negatively driven lately. Sorry about that!

I am feeling so blessed having had all day Saturday with my little man. My husband had the joy of going to see his favorite college basketball team play on Saturday and because it is 3 hours away, I got to sit and play and snuggle with my little boy all day.  Not that I don't usually get to, but this was special mom and Jack time.

Today I was blessed to have a job and get to go to work.  I think I take this for granted so much.  I may not love every minute of every day of my job but as a whole, I do challenging and fulfilling work that I know matters to our nation.  This was Jack's first day not going to childcare and my dad did not disappoint!  Dad and Jack went to the beach on a naval base near the airport.  They sat on the water watching the boats and ships and planes come and go.  They had lunch and then Jack got a long and restful nap.  Again, feeling so blessed.

A friend of mine posted a picture today about postpartum marks.  It said "for every woman unhappy with her postpartum marks is another who wishes she had them."  Oh how true this is.  Along this journey of adoption I have found families who have chosen adoption because they were unable to have biological children and other families who already have bio kids.  While I long for my baby James to be with us, I have the blessing of having had the experience of giving birth to a biological child.  I can't imagine what that longing is like for the thousands of women and families who have that desire and for whatever reason do not have that option.  So often I am disgusted by my postpartum marks and wish they were gone.  But I fail to remind myself that without those marks, I have no Jack...no 10 lb 1oz 23 inch long red headed baby boy who is now a vibrant, hilarious toddler.  I think the same thing of friends I have with special needs children.  While they were all devastated when hearing a diagnosis, not one of them that I know would trade their children for the world!

It's so difficult to see our blessings when we're so close to the situation.  And I think that sometimes that's why my posts can be negative...I get so focused on what is happening at that moment that I fail to see the fact that I have the most amazing husband, a beautiful little boy, the hopes of another little boy joining our family soon, wonderfully supportive and helpful extended family, very good jobs, a home, all the food we could ever eat, need I go on?  And while none of us is promised tomorrow, I need to enjoy these blessings right now, right here, today.  Thankful for the day.

Friday, November 30, 2012

factions in the church and my heart

I've been trying to get a post in for a while but my heart has been heavy with a lot of things going on.  I can't imagine what Paul must have gone through when carrying the burden of the early churches at Corinth, Phillipi, Thessaloniki, Ephesus, Galatia, etc.  And he was far away and probably felt even more helpless than we do at times.  We are just praying (and asking for your prayers) over people and situations that everyone from elders and staff through every person in the congregation would take heed to Micah 6:8:  He has told you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  We serve a just God and he will have his justice but we are not here to act on his behalf.  Acting justly is on us, how we treat others, not carrying out His wrath.  You cannot simultaneously attempt to carry out God's wrath and love mercy at the same time (or walk humbly either).

We are still humans with feelings of pain and hurt and will do stupid things from time to time.  But if we are selfless, act in love, and think before we speak, we have a much greater attempt to come out unscathed and hurt way less people in the process.

Ok, that aside...as we walk through the holidays there are so many things happening around us.  SO MANY of our friends have recently gotten engaged (I think we will attend 5 weddings between March and July).  I am ecstatic about this but I just keep thinking of more wedding pictures where our family will be incomplete. A lot of our friends are either getting pregnant or attempting to get pregnant.  I think it will be very difficult for me to watch someone get pregnant and have a baby in less time than when I get to bring my baby boy home.  Again, I'm super excited for these friends, it just pulls at my heart to think my baby is alive but not with us yet.  No, I do not technically know that he is alive yet, but we believe very strongly that as we have prayed for him that he is already here in this world.

The most difficult thing at the holidays is that in my core I hope and pray that by the next holiday season we will have both our boys with us but there are no guarantees.  And the thought of us still waiting at that point is very difficult for me to accept as a possibility.  It creates factions in my heart to want to just give up.  Of course we wouldn't because we are fighting for our child here (well, not fighting but sometimes it feels that way).  And we know this is right where we're supposed to be and, as always have to trust His sovereign timing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My political statement...a branch from the norm.


I realize that everyone has the choice to decide who they are and are not friends with on social media and I think that as a whole on facebook I keep my head down and out of any controversial statements/remarks.  However, what I think that has left me is cowering to sometimes not say what I believe in hopes that people will not be offended.  So here it is, let me put it out there.  If you didn’t know before, I’ll tell you now, I am a Christian (gasp). If you choose to unfriend me now based solely on that, then please stop reading.  However, if you are open minded you will not make assumptions about me because of that fact.  The heart of the message of the bible (God’s word), is love.  Not hate, not divisiveness, not segregation, not political party, no, if anything, it is in contrast to those concepts.

That being said, let me clarify some things.  I believe America was created so we could be free from religious ruling and based on the fact that all men (and women) are created equal.  Thus, I believe that gay marriage should be legal.  Whether you agree or disagree with homosexuality, it is not anyone’s place to impose their beliefs, religious or otherwise on someone else.  I have spent enough time in countries where my “religion” (I hate that word) was the minority and trust me, you don’t want that imposition to happen to anyone.  I believe that every person should have access to healthcare (no, this does not mean I believe Obamacare is necessarily the way forward).  I also believe in fiscal responsibility.  I do not think it is right that my husband and I work very hard to pay off our debt while our country continues to spend well outside our means.  I believe that there are some very hard working people that live in this country that do pay taxes and abide by the laws that live in fear everyday they will be kicked out because they were not born here.  I also believe there are many people who were brought here well before they knew any different and know nothing other than this place as their home yet are still not welcome here.  So where does all this leave me politically?  In nowhere land.

Where that leaves me is in disbelief that our system works as is.  More than healthcare reform, we need political reform. And yet when those that make the laws have a vested interest in keeping the system as is, change will not happen.

However, I believe there is another way.  I believe that if we (people who call themselves Christians) and those that may not believe in Christ but still want good for humankind, would focus less on who is in office and more on what it means to love, the world would be a better place.  Love means providing for those that are less fortunate, sharing what we have with those that don’t, opening our homes and our lives to those around us, and truly caring about people…regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, political affiliation, etc.  Some may say this is socialism at its best…and in some regards, the concept is the same.  But socialism put forth by mandate does not work.  Government requirements to feed the poor and other well intentioned government programs just make people that pay for those programs bitter and angry.  I’m not saying this is right or wrong, it is just the reality of what we have seen in societies around the world.  And, unfortunately, that bitterness and anger turns into flippant complacency and selfish ambition which can lead to feelings of entitlement.

No, the only way this concept works is if love is the motivation.  And for those of you/us that are Christians, shame on us for not making love the motivation of every aspect of our lives.  Yes, we are going to mess up, we’re human, but the world would be a much better place if everyone who claims Christianity would live by this concept.  So many times the “Love” passage in 1 Corinthians 13 is used at weddings and yet, it was not written for that specific of an audience.  While it applies to that, it does not ONLY apply to that.

If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant; it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. We know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love.

I could go into all the details about how we have enough food in the world to feed every human yet people starve to death everyday and how families in America have the wealth and space to house all the orphans of the world if we would open our homes to them. Shoot, the money spent on the two biggest political campaigns this year could change entire third world countries!  If love is our motivation and driving factor, these problems could be completely stamped out.   

I hope you got to this point and didn’t shut down as soon as I said the word Christian.  I think Christ would be sickened by what is said and done in his name both today and historically. I realize that these thoughts and desires about “saving the world” are a bit idealistic. The good thing is, part of my belief system is faith and I do have faith that we, as humans, are inherently good.

If now, at this point, you still want to unfriend me please do so.  And in the future, if you have questions about who I am, please ask me before making assumptions.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

the list

As I've seen the money take shape in our Lifesong account, people learning more about our adoption and adoption in general, our car dying and us buying a minivan in preparation, friends getting pregnant and having babies, our baby growing...as I've seen life happen around us, it sometimes feels like my heart is not moving. It's November which means we have been on this journey for 11 months.  But it took Justin and I about 3 months to pray over our decision and submit our application so for us, it seems closer to 14 months.  And yet, with the wait times increasing to 12-15 months for a referral, we are now looking at an estimated 5-8 months of wait time. Still.

Yes, I am despondent this month.  We knew that it was very possible to see a wait list with no movement and alas, that is what this month has brought.  But as I stated above, there are some amazing things that are happening around us!  Just because a random number which we've been given hasn't changed doesn't mean God is not working.  In fact, one thing we found out was that our organization has partnered with another babies home in Uganda and is in the process of doing research on the availability to adopt the children there. That's very promising to me!  Not just in the selfish, speed up my timeline aspect.  But the bigger picture is, more resources, more children in forever families.

Last month I reported to you that we were #19 on the list.  And what I have to report this month is that we remain #19 on the list.  I'm trying to be patient and know that not one ounce of this is in my control.  Holding on to Psalm 27:13-14 "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."


Sunday, November 4, 2012

kids (plural)

In an effort to be frugal and good stewards, we have been trying to drive our old beater car into the ground while not wasting money sinking more into it.  As I managed our budget both for our household and our adoption I saw that after we got our tax return we would finally be in an ideal place to look at buying our next car...a minivan.  This idea is exciting to me for so many reasons.  First of all, I am so tired of driving a 1997 Infiniti QX4 that sounds awful and every time I drive it I wonder if I'll actually get where I'm going.  It has been a trusty car for us and has lasted us a very long time.  But right now I think the tires on the car are worth more than the car itself.

For a bit of background, we do have remote start on this old beater.  Yesterday, we got a knock on our door.  It was our next door neighbor coming to tell us that our car had been running for two hours.  What??  We thought maybe Jack had gotten a hold of our keys and turned it on.  But the problem with that theory is that when using the remote starter, if you don't put the key in the ignition after about 20 minutes the car turns off.  Throughout the night we would randomly hear the car turn itself on and we'd push the button and turn it off again.  Creepy, right?  Finally, we moved the car and when doing so, the RPM gauge went nutso.  Needless to say, we realized it was not going to make it another 4-5 months.

Excited that I get a new car but sad we didn't get the chance to make more debt payments/adoption savings before doing so, we trekked out to test drive.  Now I'm sure you don't come here to read about the details about our family car buying experiences.  And to be honest with you, I don't think it's a big enough deal to talk about.  And yet, a piece of this is important to me.  A minivan is only really relevant when you kid two or more kids.  Families with only one child know it's not as imperative to have a minivan.  Now, don't get me wrong, minivans are great for more than that, shoot, my parents went and bought another one a few years ago because they loved their old one so much!

The point of this...sorry, it took me a while to get there.  As we were at a dealership talking to a guy and he's learning a bit about us I found myself referring to the need for a minivan because of our "kids" plural.  I didn't say it with the intent to deceive or mislead, just a pure true sense of our (hopefully) very near future.  As the funding is coming together, the timeline is ticking by, and being bombarded by the reminders that it's national adoption month, I realize on a daily basis that we will soon be a family of four!  And I am so excited about it!  I love the stage Jack is in now and am hopeful we will not miss this stage in James' life.  But no matter when he joins us, I just want him here!!  We should be getting our monthly update this week so stand by for where we are on the list!  And here's hoping and praying for a referral in the next 5 months!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A hurricane...

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind so, it is totally fitting that we are in the midst of Hurricane Sandy right now.  It is the perfect culmination of that time. Don't get me wrong, it's not all been bad, but this hurricane hasn't been either.  The rain and wind have canceled school for my husband and my building was closed so we are just home together as a family today.  Bonus!

I don't even know where to begin.  Two weeks ago, Justin and I went to Asheville, NC for a dear friends wedding.  It was beautiful.  Jack stayed home with his Papa who had come from Illinois to visit and stay with him for the weekend.  On that Friday, Jack bit a kid at daycare and since this was his third offense, he was kicked out for the following week.  Now, I understand that the other kids must be "protected" to my labeled 18 month old, but the problem is, he has not bitten anywhere else and thus I cannot address the behavior.  Needless to say, the week following proved to be very stressful for me in trying to piece together childcare.  My dad (Papa), stayed for an extra day and was with him on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday my friend (who conveniently lives across the street) watched him, Thursday his Hoho (Justin's dad) had him, and Friday I stayed home with him.  So while the daycare provider said we needed to "teach him a lesson" by keeping him home for a week, I think he learned that if he bites someone he gets to stay home with people he loves dearly all week.

Regardless, even having amazing people supporting us and watching our child, the week of hodge podge child care was very stressful for me.  Then, he goes back to childcare the following Monday where I was met with a constant reminder that if he bites three more times he's out for good.  Awesome.  Something to look forward to!  Trying to put childcare together indefinitely!  Ugh.  Needless to say, we started looking for other options.  In the midst of this, Monday was a bit crazy at work, Tuesday I attended a funeral of a Navy SEAL/brother of a dear friend/friend of ours who died entirely too young, and sure enough, by Wednesday I was sick.  Out of work Thursday and Friday and oh by the way, did I mention we were going to Raleigh for the weekend?  And with an impending hurricane I was a bit apprehensive about how things would go.  Oh yes, and my grandmother died on Friday night/Saturday morning.

I hope you're not feeling too sorry for me right now.  Because if you are, let me just say that was all just a slow wind up for this fast pitch.  Let me tell you the amazing things that happened the last two weeks:
- I got to see my dad! Jack got to spend time with wonderful people who love him dearly for a whole week!
- I got to stay home with Jack for a whole day and we had so much fun just playing together.
- My mom worked super hard for weeks to prepare an auction for us as an adoption fundraiser which raised over $500 for us!!
- As sad as it is to me that my grandmother passed away, she deserves to be in heaven with Jesus and my grandfather where there is no more suffering and ultimate peace.
- We got to spend the weekend in Raleigh with people we love dearly.
- One of those couples hosted a neighborhood pig pickin adoption fundraiser where we had some friends and some people we didn't even know who all came to support us and raised...wait for it...$2000!!

The more we go through this process, the more I'm realizing that this adoption is less about us and more about spreading the word of adoption and God's love.  We see how we have been adopted by him into his family and that he loves us and EVERYONE in the world so very much and wants us all to be adopted into his family.  I do mean everyone...not just white people, straight people, rich people, do I need to go on?  Adoption is part of His plan. And us adopting our little boy from Uganda is so much bigger than us expanding our family. We get to talk about adoption, the need for orphans to have homes, the love of Christ, and so much more.  In our need to raise money to help us offset the costs, people get to be involved in adoption in their own way and we are privileged to have amazing people come alongside us and partner with us.

We are so thankful for all the support we have been given thus far.  We are dumbfounded at how much money we have raised so far and are ecstatic about how many different people are a part of our family now because they are vested in us and this process.  We hope you are feeling as blessed and joyful as we are.

Friday, October 5, 2012

#19

Our number is 19...yay!!!  For some reason that first number becoming a "1" is so exciting to me!!  The other thing that's exciting for me is that two referrals from our agency were granted last month, both little boys :)  This is very exciting to me because that means we really ARE moving up on the list!!

On a more difficult note, adoptions seem to be creeping by in Uganda due to some policy changes there so our agency is seeing their timeline grow.  When we started this process, wait list time was estimated to be 6-9 months.  When we finished immigration and were placed on the wait list, we were told that time had increased to 9-12 months.  Now, we've been on the wait list for 6 months, and were told this month the timeline is closer to 12-15 months.  As much as this makes me sad, it's not because I can't wait and don't trust the process, it's just that I want my little boy home!!  And yet the reality is, I really do believe that however long it takes, I know that maybe my son just needs a little more time to get ready for us!  Or maybe he isn't born yet or his family can still care for him.  Whatever the reason, whenever that day is, I can't wait to get our referral in 6-9 months from now and get ready to go get our baby.

For selfish reasons, I hope that means he'll be here by this time next year...here's hoping that's not unrealistic ;)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

dynamics of a transracial family

What does that title even mean?  I almost titled it "The 'n' word" but thought better of it but that's what this post is really about.  Not just the word, but the subject.  It's something that has been on my mind/heart lately.  Not sure if you guys watch Parenthood but I so very much appreciated and was impressed that they dealt with this this past week.  But what I'm looking for is truly more feedback and input from you guys!

If it's not clear at this point, we are adopting a little boy from Uganda.  He will be less than two when we comes to live in our home (I hesitate to say when he becomes our son because in our minds he already is that).  So if you don't know us, our family with be made up of two white adults, a toddler ginger, and a baby/toddler African.  And while we have thought about, discussed, and even begun to put some things in place to ensure that our little Jack and James will see people of different colors and backgrounds around in them as friends, and in different jobs, roles, and experiences, there will be things that James will go through that we (and Jack) will never be able to understand.

The premise of the part of Parenthood I referred to earlier is that Jabar (a child of mixed race) hears a rapper say the slang form of the "n" word.  His father (who is white) attempts to handle it but does so very poorly, purely due to his lack of understanding.  The father informs the mother (who is black) and she decides to sit down and have a conversation.  It was great how she handled it and it taught me that we are not prepared to have that discussion.  But it is a very real conversation that will need to happen and one that we will need some help with.  We can bring our baby home and he will be our son through and through but the best thing we can do as his parents is to make sure he has the resources he needs to grow and understand the life before him.  I'm sure he will be discriminated against.  I'm sure he will be made fun of for having white parents among other reasons.  I'm sure there will be hardships that he faces that we, as white middle class people, never had to.  And it breaks my heart that I will not be able to protect him from all those things.  But the best thing we can do is, when the time is right, to be open and honest and give him what he needs...and to understand that that may not come from us.

So this is just me trying to be open about our future child and do our best to give him the life he deserves.  If you have any suggestions or recommendations about how to broach this topic, what should be said in this conversation, or anything in this arena, please feel free to leave a comment or message me and let us know.  And thanks for loving our family!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

my view is limited

I have to admit something.  I've heard all the news about adopting without debt.  Shoot, I read the book almost a year ago after we started this journey and we initially faced some adversity when we started support raising.  I just figured that at some point we would have tapped out all our resources and would have to figure out how to come up with a lot of money and truly did not know how that was all going to work.  Now don't get me wrong, we're not there yet.  But what I'm realizing is my view of this process and my God is very limited.

It's not like I haven't trusted him for things before.  It's not like I haven't had to raise support for things or wonder how something was going to work out.  And it always has as long as I was trusting in Him.  So why did I think this was going to be any different?  I'm not sure.  I think I thought that because we made the choice, and this was our baby, the bulk of the money was going to somehow come from our pockets.

Don't get me wrong, we budget a significant amount of money every month to go into our adoption fund and we scrimp and save wherever we can because we DO believe it is our responsibility to do so.  But the outpouring we've had from people over the last twelve months (and counting) has been supernatural. I had in my mind we would write letters, do some fundraisers, and then work extra jobs, go on extra travel, sell every last piece of furniture (although that's difficult with the whole homestudy piece of it) and then, just barely, we'd squeak by.

Like I said, we are not there yet.  And we are still working hard, saving like crazy, doing everything we can....but there's no way people would come out of the woodwork for this for us, we must give credit to  Him.  I mean don't get me wrong, we're great and all (sarcasm people) but people don't write you checks and offer to do things for you and go out of their way to help you like this just because they like you.

We believe so strongly in adoption and specifically that our little boy, James, has always been our son, he just happens to have been born halfway around the world by someone else.  And we are SO BEYOND BLESSED that so many amazing people have chosen to partner with us to help us bring him home.  We can't wait to introduce him to all of you (shoot, who am I kidding, we just can't wait to meet him ourselves!!).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travel and Treasures

The last time I wrote I was really in a blah place, not to mention I was getting ready to travel overseas (again) for work.  Finally I am back and hope to be a better blogger now that my heavy travel season has subsided.  Sorry about that!

So many good things come out of the trials though.  While I did have to go to Japan for work, my aunt went with me to do some traveling herself (although I posit that it was solely to keep me company).  Either way, it was a huge blessing to not be there alone.  She got to do some exploring when I was at work, we did some exploring together after work and on my last afternoon which I had off, and we got to experience dinner together every night.

Now if you haven't been to Japan, there's one thing about the restaurants there...they almost always have a sampling of their food made out of plastic under glass outside to entice you in.  And boy is it enticing (sense the tone).  I don't mind Japanese food...it's not really what we call hibachi typically, but it's not bad.  And of course, the sushi is good.  But I get very tired of it, very quickly.  There are only so many times I can eat a pork cutlet and not be bored.  Regardless, it was a fun trip.

And besides all the fun of eating in a foreign land, I know that there was a message I needed to learn on this trip.  So many times I have these feelings of urgency to get home to my  little boy.  I feel like I should be home with him all the time and often feel guilty for having a full time job.  I long for the option to be a stay at home mom (with no naivety about what that really entails).  And yet, I gleaned much wisdom from someone I look up to a great deal on this trip.  My aunt has three kids, one just starting college, one just finishing high school, and one just finishing middle school.  So she's been there with having the little kids at home and she's at the kids growing up stage.  Conversation after conversation we had I felt like God was reassuring me that I am right where I'm supposed to be.  Not just with kids, but with how we're working hard to get out of debt asap, how we're working hard to keep our marriage our top priority, how we're working hard to manage our time and resources, and how we're working hard to stay focused on Him.  Juggling all these balls is by no means easy but we know that all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose!

Part of our talks about kids helped me refocus on the fact that right now, where we are, we have it pretty good with our jobs and child care and life.  And we have been given this opportunity to get out of debt quickly.  And while I wish I could be the one teaching my son every last thing, the experience and the knowledge he's getting right now where he is is awesome!  Anyone can teach a kid how to count and read.  But it's extremely more important that I am available to be home with my kids when they are learning how to make tough choices.  I don't want anyone else teaching them that.  And yes, it does start young, but it's when they get to that middle/high school age that the tougher choices will come.  If we stay on task now, we will be in a position for me to be home for that.  And my flying to Japan or wherever a few times a year is well worth the opportunity to disciple my kids, the most important disciples I will ever make in my life.

Don't worry James, this isn't all about Jack.  We are excited to be in a position to get to have you home soon...hopefully in about 10 months from now!  And you and Jack are our two most valuable treasures we've ever been gifted with.

Friday, August 31, 2012

I look at all the lonely people

When I was single, I went through major bouts of loneliness.  I had great friends around me and despite a variety of different jobs and situations, churches, community, and all the "things" I could ever want to buy, I was lonely.  My heart would long for "the one" thinking that if I just met the right guy I wouldn't be lonely anymore.  Being single, especially in your thirties, is a very difficult place to be.  If you know anyone in that stage of life, please be very kind to them and surround them with every ounce of support you can imagine.  (This does NOT mean ask them if they've met someone every time you see them).

And then, I did meet "the one."  And it is great!  All those times I thought "I wish I had someone to eat dinner with" or "I wish I had someone to run errands with" was now a non-issue.  And of course, I thought my loneliness would go away.  I was wrong.  Now before you read into this, please understand that my husband is awesome and we have a great relationship.  This is not a marriage issue.  But what I'm finding is that there are MANY women like me who think that marriage will solve their loneliness issues and some get married solely for this reason.  If you think that is the case, you are sorely mistaken.  In fact, if this is why you're getting married, then it may be time to reevaluate.

Marriage does not solve loneliness.  And let me dispel another myth.  Kids do NOT solve loneliness...if anything, they make it worse.  Again, I love my son and am excited for our next child to join our family.  I wouldn't give up my family for anything.  But these issues are not related unless you use one to try and fix the other.  When you have kids, you become even more isolated.  You have way less time to spend with your friends and some people you thought were your friends seem to disappear or just distance themselves because they're not willing to do the work to make the friendship adapt to your new situations.  Your kids take priority in your life which means your friendships take a far backseat to your family which means your friendships tend to suffer.

I have a dear friend whom I adore that I spoke to about this today.  She and her husband have an adult child that doesn't live at home.  She told me she and her husband sit at home most weekends because many people believe they are busy so they don't ask them to do anything.  And then, when they see that other people did stuff their feelings are hurt and don't understand why they weren't invited.  MAN I can relate to this!!  Can you?

Why am I talking about this?  Because when we're lonely, we feel alone, isolated.  And yet, I believe that there are MANY people out there (especially women) who are dealing with this loneliness.  We feel like if we tell anyone about it then we sound weak, needy, and undesirable as a friend.  But if we all feel this way from time to time (or much of the time) then we NEED to talk about it!

I am a working mother that travels a lot, especially in the fall.  This pushes me further and further away from people and results in me feeling isolated.  Then I see all the things I perceive people doing together (and not inviting me) and I think they don't want me around.  This isolates me even further.  Then I don't ask people to hang out because I perceive they "don't like me" or "don't want to hang out with me."  Which makes me even more isolated.  As you can see, this cycle only continues in a downward spiral.

For some this spiral leads to depression.  This was me at one time.  Thankfully I have learned to combat that and know where/when to raise the red flag.  But I have a great deal of compassion for those that aren't able to beat that on their own and hope, if this is you, you will seek help.  For some this spiral leads to negative behaviors whether it be seeking bad relationships or leaning on other methods of numbing your feelings.

Regardless of your position in life, loneliness is something we all deal with.  And it is nothing that any one individual can "fix" for you.  But maybe if more of us talked about how lonely we feel, we wouldn't feel so alone!

Psalm 68:6 "God sets the lonely in families..."  Praying my little James isn't lonely tonight.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

this journey

There are times when my life seems so appealing to people given the places I travel to for work.  I do not deny that I have had amazing opportunities to see the world between my years in the navy and my current job.  I have seen all of the Med, much of Europe, Asia, the Middle East...so many places!!  But here's the thing, travel gets old.  Travel appeals to so many people because of the different people and places in our world.  And yet fundamentally, people and places are the same.  We all are moving through our own journeys in our day to day lives and these bits of travel are exceptions to the rule.  So many times people just wish they were somewhere else, doing something else, "seeing the world."  I can't tell you how many people tell me their jealous of my travels.

While I appreciate the opportunity, there are many days where I am just as longing for something else...being home with my family.  Just like everyone else, I miss the day to day longing for something else.  It's true, sometimes my day to day takes me to Japan or Italy.  Today  my day to day takes me to Nebraska.  Just for a day.  Just for a meeting.  And yet this one trip will tack on more skymiles that add to our adoption miles that will pay for our plane tickets to Uganda.  How awesome is that?  So maybe today, instead of loathing in the fact that I won't see my son tomorrow, I will appreciate the fact that we will be that much closer to our mileage goal and thus one step closer to being in the presence of our next little boy.

I have not blogged lately because of many reasons, travel being one of them.  I had the blessing of being with my family last week in Illinois - for work, and with Jack.  I am thankful.  My husband had the blessing of having a week to himself...no work, no responsibility, just him.  I think he needed it.  

This week Justin started his new job teaching 8th grade reading.  Jack started daycare for the first time in his life (this should be an entirely different post but I'm not ready to talk about it).  I am heading to Nebraska for the night and, if the hurricane allows, back for the remainder of the week.  Then we get to go visit some amazing friends in Winston-Salem for the weekend.  We have SO MANY things to be thankful for.  And I have to remember that travel is a function of that.  Thankful for this journey.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An update...

It is only 7:15 pm in the states but it is already August 10th in Italy.  My sister and I are packing to prepare for our journey to Paris tomorrow and then home in a few days.  I am continually humbled by His provisions.  After making that post this morning and hearing even more heartbreaking news about the situation at church, I got to skype with my boys and then got a truly amazing update...Justin interviewed for a job the morning of August 9th and by 3pm in the afternoon, he got a call from HR making him an offer!!!!

Oh how I clearly do not know You well enough to trust You through the unimaginable.
Your Glory Endures Forever!!!

Joy and Tragedy

Life is truly a roller coaster.  At the peak of the hill it seems the bottom just drops out and before I know it we are screaming toward the ground faster than it seems anything could catch us...and yet we are always caught and heading right back up again toward the next twist or turn or corkscrew.

Last week my husband and I headed away for a few days of just us time.  While we wanted him to come on my work trip with me to Italy, we knew that it wasn't feasible in the midst of adoption support raising.  We had a great time away together and the awesome part of the Italy trip is that my sister got to come with me.  My parents were in town to watch our little ginger boy and it was a pretty great week filled with joy.  We even got to go to Busch Gardens for a bit and ride the roller coasters.  It was awesome.

Sunday we went to church and then later that day I would board a plane to fly to Italy for a work trip.  Little did I know that things were about to change.  We were informed at church that our lead minister had resigned under certain allegations which we later found out that these were sexual allegations from a minor boy.  I will not go into anything more about it other than to say we are deeply saddened by the entire situation and are praying for all those involved.

This on top of a lot of travel in the near future followed by the uncertainty of my husbands job and the feeling that Satan is using people to try and attack my husband (spiritually) made it feel like a very bad time to be leaving the country.  Not to mention it's always very difficult for me to leave even though I only travel internationally about 3-4 times a year anymore.  And yet now, as I sit in my hotel room in Italy on my 35th birthday, I feel like this may have been the best time for me to be gone.  There is nothing I can do.  About any of this.  Yes, I could be there for other people, I could love on my son, and just be int he same room as my husband.  But I am reeling from this news and from the attacks on J so much that being away may be God's way of protecting me (and them).

I have seen J grow so much in the last two years and I am so excited at what God has been doing in his life.  He has stepped out of the box and taken seriously his call to lead and the group of men that he has been in fellowship with have impressed me beyond belief!  Which, of course, is when you become vulnerable.  And believe you me, there is an attack happening, on many fronts.  But he has not let it phase him and to see his strength and courage at following Him and pursuing His will has been so refreshing!

So in the midst of this tragedy with our church and dear friends and family, we find joy.  Joy in the position we have been placed in, joy in the waiting, joy in the now, and joy in the excitement of what He is doing to prepare us for what's next!

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

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lam 3:22-24

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Number 22

We are moving on up!!  We know that there will be some months where we don't move at all on the list but this month, we have movement.  I realized about a week ago that now that Lifeline is doing this number on a list thing that we have an email to look forward to every month.  And as we were standing in line at Busch Gardens for a ride, I read it...Number 22.

The exciting thing about the process is that something is moving.  We know there may be months where we may not move up in number at all.  And, as I stated in Number 24, we know that as we move up it doesn't necessarily mean we are closer to a referral because it's only when someone in front of us with the same requirements for a referral gets one that we really move up.  But here's the thing, someone did!  As part of the updated number, we are told exactly what referrals happened last month and this time, there was one the same as ours!  Which means we really did move up on the list!!

So here we are, four months into what is supposed to be about a 12 month referral waiting period, and we are number 22!!!  WOOHOO!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

an emotional day

I have so many reasons to be happy and excited today...and I am.  But underlying those feelings are also some of longing and sadness.  Let me explain...

First of all, a friend from high school and her husband and family are in China right now adopting a little girl.  It is their fourth child, second adopted child.  I love to follow their story and their pictures and go to their blog/facebook daily (more like hourly) to see what's new.  This evening I sat down and saw their trip to see the orphanage where their daughter has been.  As I scrolled through the pictures, the one with all the cribs in a room (17 total) just made me break down and cry.  I am so glad they have found this amazing little girl and have a great orphanage and adoption agency to work with!  But help but thinking of our little boy in one of many cribs in a room.  I know our agency only works with reputable orphanages and that the workers there really do love and care for these babies, but there is no way they can ever get enough attention in an orphanage setting.  It's so difficult to imagine all the babies in all the orphanages and so many who just need people to step up and take them as their own.  It's also difficult that we are ready and willing and able and our baby is somewhere without us right now.

The second part of this is about an email I got from a dear friend today.  A friend of hers has been in the waiting process for Uganda and just got a referral today!  Praise God for this amazing blessing!  Turns out, their family was matched with a little boy who is 21 months old and they were asking for a boy age 6 months - 2 years...hmm...sounds familiar!  I am so overwhelmed with joy for this family that I don't even know.  But I am also so jealous.

I love our family right now.  Jack is at such a fun age and learning new things daily!  And we are still a bit short on our fundraising support and still in limbo with my husband's job.  I know God's timing is perfect and he already has a little boy picked out for us but it doesn't keep my heart from longing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Number 24!!

When we started this process, our agency did not go by the standard "you are number XX on the list" way of telling you where you stood in the referral process.  For them, it's not as simple as being a number on a list.  While I completely understand why they did it that way, it has been very difficult in the waiting times to not feel like you're making progress.  For many reasons, they have decided to change their method and are now giving out waiting list numbers.  In addition, they are sharing with families how many referrals were given in the past month and what those referrals were.

Yesterday we received our waiting list email...we are number 24.  What that really means is...well, nothing!  Except for the fact that next month, when we're a number less than 24, I'll feel like we're at least moving.  But all in all, that number really doesn't mean anything.  We are 24 on the list.  Which means 24 people are ahead of us on the list.  But that doesn't mean that there are 24 ahead of us asking for the same thing that we are.  Thus, there could be 2 or 20 people asking for a child that meets the same request we do (a boy, 2 or under).  And there could be people who have a number greater than ours that get a referral before we do because they are asking for maybe a special needs child or an older child or anything other than a boy age 2 or under.  All it means is that when a referral comes into our agency, they start at the top of the list and try to match it with the next available family that meets that referral request.  That number gives us no true estimate of timeline or progress, and yet, it still gives me a warm fuzzy.  Yay for #24 in July!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

job hunting...well, not really

Everyone looks at the job postings regularly, don't they?  Maybe I more than others.  Just for the record, I'm not leaving my job anytime soon.  I have a great job that pays me well and gives me a wonderful amount of flexibility which is awesome with my family close by.  But that doesn't mean I don't peruse every now and then.  Right now, my hunt is typically more for teaching jobs for my husband.  But sometimes I look throughout the world...sometimes I look in Uganda.

I don't know what the obsession is.  Not just with Uganda, but with looking for jobs throughout the world.  And yet when I see these different UN organizations (or should I say organisations) and NGOs doing wonderful, life changing things in the world, it does make me wonder...should I be doing that?  Now don't get me wrong, I have my moments of materialism.  I love the comforts of the Western world.  When the pool pump breaks we have major issues in our house.  And yet some of the times I have been most content have been sitting in a village in Haiti feeding a young group of VBS-goers, sitting on a hill in Mexico after just having built a house for an impoverished family, or meeting with college girls daily.  I think we all go through times where we question what we're doing in life.  When I was living in Raleigh I knew that was only for a time of my life but I loved every minute of it (well, not EVERY minute).  I thought counseling would be the next step for me...it was not.  Instead marriage and a baby were.  And taking care of my family is definitely the highlight of my life right now and my most important responsibility.

I know as humans we can romanticize things we don't have or aren't.  The thought of living in Uganda tugs on my heart right now.  But I believe it's purely for the reason of wanting to be near him.  If taking care of my family is my number one goal at this point, then I have to include my entire family, one of which is in Uganda. But moving to Uganda does nothing for me/us right now.  It's just a selfish desire that is not helpful to my husband or my son (really, to either of them).  But that doesn't mean I haven't looked!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

nesting

One of the many perks for my husband when it came to adopting was the lack of having to deal with a pregnant me.  I am totally and utterly in love with my son, Jack, but pregnancy was not my friend and not something I want to do again anytime in the near future.  I am typically a very logical and rational person.  My husband says that one of my best traits is that I can talk myself out of my own crazy.  Basically, if I have an irrational thought I can usually talk through it and figure it out before any drama occurs.  Chalk it up to being a math mind or my masters in counseling, either way, it is how I function.

That being said, this trait, this magical trait, somehow disappeared when I was pregnant.  It was like I was having out of body experiences and I could see myself being a complete whack job and could do nothing about it.  I hated it.  And this is one of the many reasons our second child will be joining our family through adoption.

There's this other thing that happens when you're pregnant...nesting.  I honestly believed it was the hormones that made you nest but being 10 months into a 2 year adoption process and waiting for a referral has shown me that hormones are not to blame.  About a month ago I started thinking about what changes we would have to make to our home to be ready for James to be here.  Would Jack be ready to be out of a crib by then or would we buy another crib?  Would Jack feel like we just hurried him into a bed so we could use his crib for his brother?  Did it really matter?  Same room or different rooms?  What color? drapes? storage? layout?  That's right, I started nesting.

When I start to get like this, Justin knows to just step aside and get out of the way.  And while my irrational thoughts aren't nearly as overt as they were when I was physically pregnant, there is still some crazy that comes with being an adoptive mom.

The good thing is, we've moved some rooms around (sadly, we couldn't just switch two rooms but had to shift the new office to the old guest room, the new guest room to the old nursery, and the new boys room to the old office.  In fact, Jack is trying to take his first nap in there right now!!  I'm so excited that we are actually starting to make space for James...now if we could just hold him in our arms. As my friend, Eliot Morris sings, all things are made right with time.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

expecting...


preg·nant
1.
having a child or other offspring developing in the body; withchild or young, as a woman or female mammal.
2.
fraught, filled, or abounding (usually followed by with ): asilence pregnant with suspense.
3.
teeming or fertile; rich (often followed by in ): a mind pregnant in ideas.
4.
full of meaning; highly significant: a pregnant utterance.
5.
of great importance or potential; momentous: a pregnantmoment in the history of the world.


You probably have heard that many people inadvertently get pregnant when they are in the process of adoption. Let me just clarify something...we do not meet the first definition of pregnant above, nor are we currently (or anytime soon) trying to become that way.  And yet, I can honestly say I believe we meet definitions 2-5.  While I may not be physically pregnant, we are now approximately 40 weeks away from the end of our official 12 month waiting period.  Because that year long referral waiting list is just a guesstimate, I find it's quite similar to a physical pregnancy.

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our son...it just so happens that our son will arrive not as a newborn, not as our same race, not in our same country, not even on our same continent.  None of those things exclude him from being fully our son.

So thank you for walking with us through the paperwork and basically everything we had control over...truly the "getting pregnant" phase (that would be kinda weird if you were having a bio kid).  Now we go through the gestational period.  And hopefully, in just 40 weeks, we will have a referral for a bouncing baby (1 year old) boy!  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

where are they now...feeling blessed

This past weekend my family went to Raleigh to enjoy a wedding of a woman I think the world of.  This has many implications.  Let's start with the fact that it was in Raleigh...

For those of you that don't know, about seven years ago (holy cow has it been that long?) I decided to give up my cushy job, sell my house, sell one of my cars (yes, I was single and owned two cars - that's another story), and move to Raleigh to answer the call of campus ministry on my life.  The reality was, I had no idea what I was doing.  I knew that my college experience was not one I wished for anyone to relive and one I wished someone had stepped up and called me to the carpet on.  I'm not saying I would have listened, but that doesn't mean I don't still wish they had taken a chance.  I believe I was called to move to Raleigh, work with CCF, and be open to being used however God would call me.  What that turned out to be in a practical sense was just meeting with girls (and some guys) in a discipleship relationship.  Sometimes it was one on one, sometimes it was in groups, always it was in love (even when they didn't think it was :)  Raleigh holds so many things dear to my heart.  The ministry, those girls (and guys), and the friends I created I will never lose.  So many times I wish I could just go back to Raleigh and be there and live that life.

Sometimes I look at where we are now and see that my job has changed (for good and bad), my friendships in Virginia Beach have grown and and sadly, some have withered, and sometimes Raleigh just seems like everything would be easier...better.  I realize that moving back to Raleigh now would not be the same as when I lived there before.  And yet I still feel like that is where we will end up.  And thankfully, my husband feels the same and we already have a great community there.  But regardless of when and where and how and why, what I will never lose from Raleigh is knowing that I was right smack dab in the middle of God's will.  And I know that's true because I can see the result of that time there.

This weekend I saw a beautiful, amazing woman (it's hard not to call her a girl) get married.  I have seen her walk through many struggles and wrestle with some tough questions in her life.  And to see her now, flourishing in life, in her job, in her love of a great man, I know she is right smack dab in the middle of God's will.  And her brother who left NC State to go to bible college because he knew he was called to work with kids and show them God's love.  He has an amazing wife and he (who was once out of his mind homesick in Haiti) lives far away from his family in New York state and is, I'm sure, touching every person he meets.  We had breakfast with a man who I had the amazing honor of baptizing.  I have seen him walk through some heartache and some ups and downs and to see his passion for his work and his church is such a blessing to me.  We met with another woman who is so passionate about her church and women's ministry and it makes me cry with excitement to have seen some of the places she has come from and to now see the crazy desire she has to work with women who have dealt and will deal with some of the same things as she has/does.  And at the wedding to see another wonderful woman who branched out across the nation to step out on her own and learn and grow in an internship far away from everything she's ever known.  To see her passion for people is overwhelming!

And these are just the people I saw this weekend!  There's the woman who is following her heart and the Lord by serving her church and working at a zoo in NYC and using her amazing gift of teaching to share her passions and love to the world.  Can you imagine the number of people she touches in one day at a NYC zoo?  And the woman who has worked with her youth group back home and as a job working with the elderly to bring joy to their everyday lives by creating activities and socials for them.  And the woman who serves with Americorps and works with inner city kids in after school programs to show these kids who may have no other relationships they can trust that they are loved.  And the woman who went away from her comfort zone to pursue a counseling degree to work with families and children who have trauma and other mental health concerns.  And I could go on and on and on with the stories of their jobs and their husbands and their babies as they serve each other and their communities around them!  There are so many more!!!

I am so proud of them.  I am so proud of who they have become.  And I am beyond blessed to know them.  While I have heard some say that I had a hand in that, let me tell you, that's not the case.  At least I can't take the credit for it.  Yes, I made myself available to be used where I was supposed to.  And yes, I love that I am a part of their lives.  But the reality is, this is all God's work.  They are just letting Him make them who they're supposed to be!  And I'm just happy to know them.  It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

Thank you ladies (and gentlemen), for letting me be a part of your lives.  Can't wait to see the ripples of people God touches because you have made yourselves available to be right smack dab in the middle of His will.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shorebreak Cashola and funding update

If you live in the Tidewater area and don't know what Shorebreak is, then I kinda feel sorry for you :)  Seriously though, the people of Shorebreak have been friends of Justin's for longer than I even know and beyond supportive of our pending adoption.  When they offered to do a cashola for us, we were ecstatic!  If you're unsure of what it means to have a "cashola" you may just know it as a different name.  TONIGHT Shorebreak is allowing us to come out and invite as many people as possible and they will contribute a portion of the sales to our tax-deductibe adoption fund provided by Lifesong for Orphans.

I know I've talked about funding transparency and how to raise to support and all kinds of things before.  I also realize that a major part of this blog the last two months has been focused on the logistics of the money piece of adoption.  Like everything else, adoption goes through phases...we just happen to be in the money phase.  And it's not because the money is just now starting to be due...no, we've been making our payments all along.  The reason money is on the forefront of my mind is because every other aspect of this process that we have any control over is done.  We are in the midst of a waiting game.  So at least by focusing on support raising, it gives us something to do while we wait to get matched with our son.

As far as fundraising goes, thus far, we have sent letters to our friends and family, we are selling t-shirts, and tonight is our cashola.  Lifesong has graciously allowed us to keep our adoption fund growing through this process so people can still make donations along the way.  There are still many t-shirts for sale, and we are excited about tonight!  As broken down in our initial funding transparency post, our adoption will cost us a total of $25,000-35,000!  Our personal payments thus far that we have worked to save and been given by our close family before fundraising add up to almost a third of our total.  What we have raised thus far from our letters and t-shirts equal about a quarter of the total amount.  With my skymiles from all my work travel, we will not have to purchase our international plane tickets which should account for $3000-4000.  So we're over halfway there and we still have some work do to but we know we will get there!!  We are still scrounging, sacrificing, and saving and with the cashola tonight, more t-shirt sales, some other possible fundraisers, and the continued donations of some amazing people we will get there.

So if you live in Tidewater and can come out to Shorebreak for dinner tonight, we'd love to see you there (it's very kid friendly)!  And to everyone else, we are so beyond blessed by your thoughts, prayers, and donations. Your generosity overwhelms me and I am so excited to bring James home so he can meet all of you!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lifesong giving

I've had multiple people ask and figured it may just help to point everyone to one place.  So here it goes...a post about giving to our adoption fund through Lifesong for Orphans.

Lifesong for Orphans (www.lifesongfororphans.org) has graciously set up a fundraising account for us to raise support to help bring James home.  You can send your tax-deductible gift to the address below or send your payment via paypal (note that paypal fees apply). Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on James’ behalf and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received.  100% of all funds received by Lifesong for Orphans go directly to cover our adoption costs.  Nothing is taken out for administrative costs.

If using Paypal, please go to http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/donation.html and select the donate button.  Also indicate in the "Purpose" box Preference:  Morgan #2621 Adoption

Please make checks payable to:  Lifesong for Orphans and indicate in the memo section “Preference:  Morgan #2621 Adoption

 *Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.
     Mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Attn:  Morgan #2621 Adoption
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL 61744



Sunday, June 3, 2012

this is what failure looks like...

I have a plethora of excuses.  The fall was a crazy time of our lives.  Justin was student teaching, we were in the midst of a home study, I was traveling a lot, and we had a 6 month old.  And yet, none of these excuses are a valid reason for how I failed this fall.  I'm not going to go into the details but what it comes down to is there was someone at church that was relying on me and I never followed through.  Never followed up.  Could have been a 10 second text or 10 minute call and I just didn't do it.  And the result of that failure is that someone is having a hard time with our church.  That's right, the work of one person (or lack thereof) is impacting the entire church.  You may think that's a little extreme but the reality is, if the church is lacking one person that should be there and is not, then the entire church is impacted.  And this time, it's my fault.

I think about the church as a whole and how the personification of "the church" has failed society.  Not that some individual churches are not doing great things.  But somehow we have forgotten that we are broken, sinful people who are not perfect and make mistakes.  The church is so quick to place their own thoughts and beliefs on those who are not inside the walls that they alienate those outside the walls and fail to accomplish the original basis on which the church as a whole was established.  Now, don't get me wrong, once inside, we are called to a higher standard, but we forget that we come from the same place as everyone on earth!  And at no point are we commanded to put that "standard" on anyone else.  We are commanded to love.  And love is what I absolutely forgot to do.  Not that I was holding anyone to my standard but I just got caught up in life and failed to show the love of Christ to someone who desperately needed it.  

I bet if we stopped focusing on ourselves and focused more on loving people the way Jesus taught us, there would be plenty more people inside the walls.  AND the perception of Christianity in this world would be entirely different.  The only thing I can do is to start the loving for myself.  And most of the time, I try to do that.  But this last fall, I failed miserably.  

To the people outside the walls who feel judged or that the church is lacking, I apologize.  I hope you realize that God's love is bigger than his broken, sinful people.  I hope you know that the message of Jesus Christ can be boiled down to his commands:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and also, Love your neighbor as yourself.  And we also know that there is nothing we need to do to be ready to know him or come to him.  The bible tells us "He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him."  (Romans 5:8).  

While I failed a person and they are questioning me and our church, I know that thankfully, I am covered by God's grace.  I have asked that person for their forgiveness and asked God for mine.  I am reminded of Paul when he asked God to remove a trouble in his life and the response was, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corin 12)

So to the person I completely failed, I again apologize.  I am so sorry I let you down.  I dropped the ball and it has impacted you and your family and our church family and I take full responsibility for it.  I ask that you have a smidge of grace for me and, maybe, give our church another chance with the understanding that I am one person and I am broken and sinful.