Week in Review {2013: Weeks 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 – wow!}

So, really, this is more of a month (and a half) in review.  Sheesh.   This post has literally been in process since February 18.  Sad.  So sad.  I don’t even remember half of what happened in that time frame.

So we’ll hit the highlights….

We had snow.  Lots of snow.  Much needed, but we’re now over it.  I saw tonight the weatherman predicted more snow for next week.  Possibly several inches.  I may scream.

We waited for adoption news.  We rejoiced with others who got good news.  We grieved with those who have not.  And we prayed.  A lot.  For everyone at our orphanage in this process.

And then we got good news!  And more good news!  And tomorrow we travel to bring our girl home.  Still so entirely unbelievable.  And all the big stuff is finished, but several little, non-important things still hang out there.  I had planned on getting them done tonight, and still may.  But since we dropped the girls at Matt’s parents a little bit ago, it’s as if the emotional weight of the past month just hit me and I’m exhausted.  So I may just go to bed early and trust the Lord that those little things will be there when we get home.  Because they will.  🙂

We were blessed to go on a beautiful little family get away in early March.  We headed out to Denver where we visited the Science and Technology Museum, the state Capitol, and ate dinner at Casa Bonita (horrible, horrible food; cheesy family memories).  We stayed with wonderful adoption friends Tracy and Christy and their three girls and visited our adoption agency and met our wonderful caseworker Patrick.  So good to finally put a face to the man who has walked so much of this road with us.

Then we journeyed on down to our favorite family place – Lost Valley Ranch.  We hiked. We rode horses.  We endured blizzard conditions.  The girls went sledding.  It wasn’t as picture perfect as we had hoped, but it was still a wonderful time away and something we will remember for a long time.  I’m already itching to go back.  😉

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The Colorado State Capitol

Ellie at one mile above sea level

At the Science and Technology Museum

Yeah.  We’re that cool.

Ah, Casa Bonita….

The Lost Valley cattle guard.  Oooo Ahhhh!

Matt about ten minutes after we arrived in Lost Valley.

Lost Valley beauty

Waiting for dinner.

Even the stuffed animals get turn down service.

Got snow?  Still we ride.

Goldie and Remington. Goldie hated me.

I waved the white flag on 7.  At least on the clothing portion.  The two week period in which we were doing clothes has experienced temperatures ranging from 86* to single digit wind chills and six inches of snow.  AND I had two days to spend at an arts competition with a fairly strict dress code.  There was no way to do that with seven items of clothing.  Not to mention that I discovered by day 2 that I apparently stink when I re-wear clothing.  I was offending myself with my odor.  So, wave the white flag, I did.

We also had the girls’ fine arts competitions.  They all did well and I had wanted to post pictures of them with their art and ribbons, but those pictures have not been taken yet and if I wait to post this after I get those pictures this may turn into a year in review post!

That’s it for me tonight.  Have a wonderful rest of the week, friends.  My next post should be of our “official” family of seven!

For His Glory ~

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Our Haiti Baby Turns Six

So, my sweet Haiti girl turned six today.  And while we all celebrated with news of a Visa for her and plans to travel in a matter of days, I can’t help but wonder what she’s feeling, and I can help but think of her birth parents.

Amania

Does she understand what’s about to happen?  How her world is about to turn upside down but she is loved and accepted and safe?  Can she comprehend a family, especially a strange American one, being forever?  Does she even know that it’s her birthday and does this day make her happy or sad?

And her birth parents.  Oh, them…  My heart has hurt for them a little bit more each day as her departure comes closer and closer.  I know they made the choice and I believe they did it out of love for her, choosing life for her future.  But do they keep a calendar? Do they know what today is?  What does her mother feel when she thinks about her?  How much do they miss her laugh, her beautiful smile?  Do they have dreams for her future in the States?  Do they pray for her?

Oh, beautiful Amania Hope, we are so thankful for you and so thankful that you will soon be joining us here, in your home.  We are excited to finally have you with us, everyday.  And while this is a day and season of celebration – your birthday, your home coming, we also realize this is a time of sadness as you leave your homeland, the family that gave you life, and the family you have known and loved for as long as you can remember.  We will rejoice with you and we will mourn with you and we will respect you in this process.  This adoption thing is a beautiful mess, but it’s given by God to all of us, and so we know that it is good and it is for His glory, because He loves us.

We love you, Amania.

For His Glory ~

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A Long Awaited Adoption Update

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Y’all….my baby girl is coming home!

I’m not sure where I left off with our updates, but the short of it is we received a copy of her passport on January 28.  Our completed paperwork was submitted to USCIS for final I-600 approval on February 5 and we were told approval had been granted on March 4.  On March 5, we received notice of our Visa appointment, scheduled for March 20.  We will bring our girl home on March 29 – what a Good Friday it will be!

And are we excited?  Yes!  To have this season of waiting come to a close, to have her here, bonding and connecting and growing with us, to have her meet all her sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and all our wonderful friends….yes, I am beyond ecstatic for this transition.

But I am also absolutely terrified.  Terrified that this could go horribly wrong as we have known some adoptions to do.  Terrified for the toll this could take on our marriage or our other girls.  Terrified of sleepless nights (I’m not a nice nighttime mama).  Terrified of how we will communicate until she learns English and how I will care for her hair (I’m not much of a hair mama either) and what kind of a history will she bring with her and what will it mean for all of us.  I’m walking through each day, my heart and mind half paralyzed.

But as I lay in bed last night, tears rolling down, God reminded me…..If He has called us, He has also equipped us.  And that truth rolls around this morning, mobilizing frozen neurons and softening hard places in my heart, freeing it all up to move again.  I’m still afraid, but walking in truth today.

So what will it look like when she comes home?  Honestly, we have absolutely no idea.  🙂  We have read books and blogs and talked to others, but we have never done this before, so we are planning loosely and trusting the Lord to lead us.  For those that are curious, here is what we know…

We will arrive in Kansas City on Friday night, March 29.  Details are available and friends and family are welcome to come welcome us home.  It will be late and we will be fresh off a looong day of travel and we have no expectations of folks being there, but this is a special time and we will welcome anyone who wants to celebrate with us.

There will be a party on Saturday, March 30.  Details are still up in the air on this and we know the wisdom of this is questionable, but have talked and prayed about it and feel this is what we want to do.  Yes, Amania will most likely be confused and overwhelmed.  She’s going to be confused and overwhelmed anyway, and when we look back with her, we want her to remember and see in pictures all the people that rejoiced with us for her home coming.  And we know there are many people who have met our Haiti girl and are eager to see her with her new family and there are countless others who have prayed with us and supported us in myriad ways through this process who want to meet her as well.  And we are proud new parents who want to celebrate the arrival of our newest daughter.  So we will gather and celebrate and rejoice.  Details are still pending but will be made available via Facebook once we have them nailed down.

There will be a time of adjustment.  And this is where we fly blind.  I am thankful to the Lord that His timing is perfect (as always).  He is bringing her home in March, as I jokingly predicted to a friend months ago.  But He is gracious enough to let it be the end of March, after all of the crazy has passed, and we can settle into  April and just. slow. down.  We have read about “cocooning” and some say to do it for one month for every year the child has lived outside your home.  That’s six months and all spring and summer and a recipe for crazy around here.  So we will take it one day or one week at a time and, again, trust the Lord to show us when we are all ready for more.  But we ask for grace and patience as we try to bond with Amania and help her fully bond with us.  We may be more protective of her and our relationship with her than we have ever been with our other girls.  She has no concept of what a forever family is, having been abandoned at an orphanage by her biological parents at age 3; her only “truth” right now is that Mommy and Daddy will leave you and any one of 60 other “big people” can care for you. We will have to teach her to trust and teach her whom she can trust and that has to start with us, her parents.  And in real world terms that means we will need to be the ones to get her food and comfort her and discipline her until her ability to trust us is more concrete.  Other than at the airport and the party, we may limit how much we allow others to hold her for a while and we will most likely limit our social interactions after those first couple of days to allow her a time to begin to understand who her family is.

We will need LOTS of prayer.  And grace and patience as we find our way through this.  As this season of waiting finally comes to a close, we know full well we are only beginning the real adventure with Amania.  We have no idea what lies ahead, what kind of story she brings with her, what she will add to our family in love, laughter, or tears.  As with all our children, the future is completely unknown, but our ignorance is more keenly felt right now.  We covet the prayers of our friends and family as we go through this time of transition.  We appreciate thoughtful questions as we go through this process, but be prepared for honest answers.

We are, of course, looking forward with great anticipation to her arrival.  We can’t wait to have her here in our home, her home, to watch her play with her sisters, make new friends, learn our language as we learn more about her.  But we also know this will be a time of major adjustments, for all of us.  And we ask for grace as we find our way through this.

It’s hard to believe that in just fifteen days we will (Lord willing) be on the other side of all of this, my dark-skinned daughter safe in my arms, our family all under one roof.  It’s glorious and mysterious (and terrifying) to think about.  But God is good and He who has called us has also equipped us and He will walk by our side each and every day and see us through.

For His Glory ~

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7 – An Update

Random thoughts I had while doing fourteen days of whole / minimally-processed foods:

The definition of torture: making bacon for the girls’ breakfast while on a no-processed-foods diet.  Ugh.

Day four of whole / minimally processed foods – I am sick.and.tired. of making every single meal we eat.  First world problem, I know, but still, I don’t love cooking. I don’t mind it and I enjoy it a lot more than I used to, but it’s still not my favorite, and I really don’t enjoy cooking from scratch (more or less) three meals a day, seven days a week (or just four at this point).  I’m sure there’s a balance out there somewhere.  Maybe I’ll find it soon.  Until then I’m off to go make my own salad dressing.  Or dehydrate my own fruit. Or butcher a grass fed cow.  Or anything else involving food preparation, because I feel like that’s all I do right now.

Day 5 – You know something’s not quite right when you go to WalMart in search of the one and only creamer that looks like it *might* fit into this minimally processed diet, only to find out they no longer carry it, and you seriously consider abandoning your half-full cart and leaving in tears.

I was very thankful today that we are not on Clothing this week since I spilled about a cup of chicken “juice” on my pants while making dinner.  That wouldn’t have been fun to wear for very long.  Although, I’m sure the dog would have loved me.

Speaking of chicken, I am not made for “pioneer living”.  Dismembering a whole chicken kind of killed my appetite, so I skipped dinner.

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So the Food portion of 7 has come to an end.  I confess that I fizzled out the last few days.  Between adoption excitement and the craziness that comes with preparing a family of six to go out of town for the weekend, I couldn’t keep my sanity and prepare “whole food” meals.  So I opted for a paraphrase of Proverbs and decided “peace with take out is better than a house full of whole food with strife”.  So we ate pizza and all were happy.

Travelling and maintaining a whole foods diet is next to impossible, especially with children involved.  It’s one thing for Matt and I to go to Jason’s Deli or Chipotle or wherever else might fit.  It’s quite another to feed a family of six at those places.  Not because our kids don’t love both of those establishments.  It’s just that our budget isn’t a huge fan.  So processed foods made their way back into our diets and some very interesting observations were made, number one of which was the fact that after about two days, all of us felt horrible and heavy.  And even after just ten days of whole foods, processed foods tasted exponentially saltier and / or sweeter, as the case may be.  By the time we made it to our ultimate destination (Lost Valley Ranch), the girls (even my less-than-healthy eaters) were voluntarily asking for fruit and salads with their meals.  So while we all spent vacation feeling bloated and heavy, it was encouraging to see all of us realize the difference good food makes.

Clothes are up next.  Fourteen days, seven articles of clothing.  I have narrowed it down to 1 pair of jeans, 1 knee-length skirt (because MAACS is the next two Fridays – of course!), 2 short sleeve tee shirts, 1 sweater, 1 long sleeve tee shirt, and shoes.  Right now I’m trying to limit myself to one pair of Toms and a pair of flats (thank you, again, MAACS).  We decided exercise clothes don’t count toward the total, considering that right now I’m sitting in 6 items of clothing from exercising this morning and I can’t exactly live in running clothes for the next two weeks.

I am thankful for all that was learned and how I was stretched during food.  Shaking up our routine allowed me to see more of who I really am and caused me to lean harder on Jesus.  It made me contemplate how I am taking care of this body He’s given me and how I’m teaching our girls to take care of theirs.  We only get this one chance and this one earthly form.  I want to steward it well.

I am eager to see what the Lord does over the next two weeks with clothes.

For His Glory ~

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Doing Something Different for Easter

What if we all took back Easter and did something completely different this year?  What if we decided that Easter was about more than fancy clothes, baskets, and bunnies that lay eggs?  What if we all showed up to church on Easter morning in tee shirts supporting orphan care, a cause close to the heart of Jesus?  What if we, as one mom put it, decided to “forget the frock”?

Forget the Frock is a movement started three years ago by a mom who decided that all of that time and money she was spending on Easter “frocks” for her family could be put to better use.  She decided that instead of all the Easter finery, they would don jeans and orphan awareness tee shirts on Easter morning, bringing awareness to a worldwide crisis of children without families.

Enter Haiti Lifeline Ministries and the orphanage that our daughter will call home for a few more weeks and an island with thousands upon thousands of orphaned children and I knew we somehow needed to be a part of this.

So, in that vein, Haiti Lifeline Ministries has launched a new tee shirt design just in time for Easter.  Shirts are just $12 and shipping is available for a small fee.  Proceeds from this campaign will be used to do something new and needed within the ministry – an Adoption Fund will be opened to help place children at Lifeline in forever families.

Will you consider joining us as we do something different for Easter?  Will you join us wearing these great new tee shirts from Haiti Lifeline Ministries and help place orphans in homes?

Go here to learn more about Haiti Lifeline Ministries.

Go here to place your order and take a stand for orphans this Easter.

HaitiShirt_GrayOnGray_Mockup

 

For His Glory ~

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Counting…

Home from a weekend away, trying to catch up on so many things before we leave again, my mind overflows with thoughts to share – adoption news, ministry happenings, and an update on 7, plus life in general.  But today it seems fitting to start with a heart of thanksgiving, to begin by singing praises to the One who so faithfully provides for all our needs and graciously gives so much we don’t deserve.

2439.  dates with two more girls – special times with them

2440.  snow – a blanket of falling white

2441.  thunder and lightning mixed in – spring wrapped in white

2442.  Haiti movement – not for us, but at least for someone

2443.  when God opens your eyes/heart/mind and shows us what we’ve been missing and what He’s been doing

2444.  realizing I’ve taken on too much of the world again; ready to lay it all down

2445.  more snow – a foot of white wonder

2446.  two quiet days at home

2447.  snow ice cream

2448.  clusters of white mess on the dog

2449.  gear strewn all over the house – evidence of memories made

2450.  lots of laughter with friends

2451.  a three mile run – getting back into the groove

2452.  news of one Lifeline kid about to go home

2453.  more snow

2454.  coffee – without creamer (thanks 7)

2455.  my beloved

2456.  coming before the throne in corporate prayer

2457.  girls quiet while we prayed

2458.  little answers to unsure prayers

2459.  quiet Fridays

2460.  four miles run – farthest in some time

2461.  husband slightly better

2462.  a night out – a date with the iPad in lieu of a sick husband

2463.  adoption class at church – so many families on this journey

2464.  I600 approval – only two more steps!

2465.  pot hole – first signs of spring (this one is just for Nikki D.  🙂 )

2466.  God’s timing

2467.  a Visa appointment scheduled!

2468.  wild joy, Ellie screaming with excitement

2469.  family road trip, long-awaited vacation

2470.  a day in Denver – downtown, the science museum, spectacular weather

2471.  Casa Bonita – horrible food; fun family memories

2472.  visiting adoption friends

2473.  meeting Patrick – our caseworker and friend

2474.  Lost Valley Ranch – oooo aaaaah!

2475.  hiking to Helen’s Rock

2476.  riding horses in falling snow

2477.  accepting God’s plans for our vacation and being flexible

2478.  girls sledding behind four wheelers and on inner tubes

2479.  plane tickets booked – Gotcha Day scheduled!

2480.  sun rising over Rocky Mountains, snow a million diamonds sparkling

2481.  one more ride

2482.  ending vacation well, with joy

2483.  the everlasting drive home – arriving safely at 1 am

2484.  girls sleeping in on a Monday off from school

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For His Glory ~

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