Saturday, December 29, 2012

Refocusing

         I have so many mixed emotions right now, but one thing is for sure....there are way too many contradicting, unreliable sources floating around about this situation and I am going to attempt to stop reading them.  There is a verse in Philippians that reminds us not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6-8).  This verse has been on my mind and given to me as a reminder, but I think that I have often overlooked the significance of the final verse.  Verse eight reminds us to focus our thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  God doesn't just say not to be anxious, he tells us what to focus our minds on!  Reading the hundreds of articles of speculation and finding hope in some and discouragement in others does not seem to fit into the list above.  The only thing I can think of that would qualify is the word of God.  I have made myself a nice little word document of scriptures to read and keep my mind focused instead.

        Today there seemed to be some hope that we were one of six families who would be allowed to complete our adoptions as we have already had our court dates.  Now it seems that is not the case, and that these six families are those whose 30 day wait period will finish prior to January 1st.  I have never been a fan of roller coasters and I am going to remove myself from any unecessary rides here.  When I hear some official news, I will share it....but in the meantime I will keep my focus on the one who is ultimately in complete control. And I will continue to pray without ceasing.

        These past few days have taught me a valuable lesson.  I should be living my entire life with this type of complete dependence on God.  This state of helplessness and literal waiting at His feet is where I should always be.  I also find myself wondering if on a larger scale, we as many nations of this world are where God wants us.....coming together in prayer for His children.  I have read hundreds of comments from passionate Russian citizens who are just as heartbroken at the ramifications of this law and the people behind it.  They offer such sweet encouragement and support, and are joining in prayer with us.  I have read comments from people all over the world who are praying that God would intervene.  These precious, innocent children are being brought to the attention of millions and are being held up in prayer by people around the world. 

        I am so grateful for all of the prayers for our family, our precious son, and all of the other children and families involved.  At this point we will likely not hear any news until after January 8th as everything in Russia shuts down for their holiday starting today.  In the meantime, we will continue to prepare for our trip and for the homecoming of our son in expectation of what God will do. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Praying Without Ceasing....


    I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

     The day we had our court hearing to make the adoption official was the day this entire mess hit the papers in Russia.  At the time it seemed that because our adoption was technically official and we were congratulated on being parents, that we would not be affected.  I felt physically sick about the implications of the potential ban for other families, but most of all for the hundreds of thousands of orphans who may be denied a loving family.  Day by day it has come closer to reality and it seems that the goal is to prevent even one more child from leaving the country.  Even those of us who have had court hearings may be denied the right to bring our children home….what should be is not what is.

     I struggled so much with accepting this journey in the beginning….and now here I am fighting for it with everything I have.  For the first time in my life I have 100% fully felt led by God from day one of this journey…..this was not my idea, it was His….and He was so persistent in showing me that this was His plan.  For the first time I feel like we were obedient to a call that was completely out of our hands and beyond our control.  I wouldn’t trade a moment of this journey for anything and I am so thankful that He has been patient with us as we learn what it truly means to follow Him. 

    Knowing that God called us to this and that He knew that this would happen leaves us once again without control, at the feet of a God who is Sovereign and loves this little boy more than we could even fathom.  My heart aches and my stomach is in knots…..I don’t think this is a lack of faith, nor do I believe that God expects a peace or trust that doesn’t “feel.”  I think He feels it more than I do.  His call was for us to follow, and His promise is to be there to guide us and equip us….not a promise that everything would go as we would hope or expect.

     I serve a God that parted a sea, raised the dead, heals the sick, rose again and is bigger than any situation I may find impossible.  I KNOW that He can move mountains to bring this adoption to completion.  I also know that we as sinful creatures each have our own free will and, as we have seen too frequently lately, that often has devastating consequences on those around us.  I often wonder how many times, when situations could have, almost were, or may have been devastating, God has intervened and shielded us from extreme consequences and suffering.  When does it end?  I fully believe he CAN change this situation and I wholeheartedly pray that He will.  Now more than ever, these children need our prayers…..please join with us as we pray according to God’s word.  That we, and other families, can continue to follow the call to care for the orphans (James 1:27), and defend the cause of the fatherless (Isaiah 1:17).

          “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Second Trip - Part II

         For a variety of reasons it was near impossible to keep up with these blogs as I did on the first trip.  There was only one more day, however, as our time on this trip was short!  Our final day was priceless.

         When we arrived at the baby home Levi was still eating as he had slept late.  In addition, the meeting room was being used so we were left in limbo waiting for them to find a place for us and waiting for Levi to be ready to play!  This ended up being a blessing because I was able to ask some questions and obtain some information that I hadn't thought would be possible.  In the end we were able to meet in the regular room, however we were sharing it with various workers who were decorating for Christmas.  It was really sweet how much time and care they put into decorating and although we couldn't understand what they were saying, it was clear that they each had their own opinions about how things should be done and what looked best; it was quite funny!

         They brought Levi in and when he saw us he got so excited, he was physically shaking his arms around and squealing.....and then he reached out for me!  We enjoyed our last couple of hours with him and he seemed to enjoy himself as well!  He loved the Christmas decorations, and all of the attention since there were so many adults in one room and just him!

        The rest of our time there was wonderful, some of which I can not share, but thank you all so very much for your prayers.  I really have thought on so many occasions, how blessed we are to have so many people supporting us and praying for us.  The first trip was so smooth that I kept waiting for something to happen...some road block or struggle.  This time, as things became more official, I could see that the enemy was trying harder to wreak havoc.....just thinking quickly I could list several things that seemed to work against us initially, but that all worked out in the end.  They may not all seem so monumental, but they were reminders that God was with us and that He had everything worked out...from the very beginning.  Here's just a few.....

* Caleb started with a fever and chest cold the day before we left.  He had never complained about his chest hurting in the past and this worried me.  I hated to leave him at all, never mind when he was sick.....he ended up with the flu, but my parents and doctor took great care of him and he definitely had a great week!  Knowing this, I had peace about being away from him.
* Our seats weren't together on both of our 9+ hour flights.  All I could envision was my getting sick as I did on the first trip with a stranger who didn't speak my language next to me.  I of course was still inclined to worry for some reason......both times they ended up being able to change our seats. (and I never once got sick)
* We didn't receive the email, but our facilitator had sent an email saying she may be late or not make it to the airport because there was a blizzard in her region and she didn't think there would be a train or bus to get her to us!  This would have left us in a very difficult situation without being able to communicate with anyone at the airport.....she was panicked and we had not the least concern about arriving there since we didn't know about this issue!......she was there when we arrived and had been able to get a train ticket.
*  We would have been able to at least recognize our driver had our facilitator not come, but he became sick and cancelled......Thankfully he suggested a replacement who was able to drive us for the week with such short notice.
* I didn't have an important document at one of our meetings.....but they processed our paperwork regardless.

 
           "For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your  
              faithfulness reaches to the skies."  Psalm 108:4

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Second Trip - Part I

               (Tried posting this several times, but the internet wasn't allowing me access to this page so hopefully this works!)

 

   It’s fascinating to me that coming here for only the second time has seemed so normal….as if it were part of our ordinary routine.  It’s as if we have just picked up where we left off.  We visited a store today that we had briefly went to during our first trip and the woman asked how long we were staying…she thought it was quite a long time we were spending here.  I suppose people don’t usually travel to another country twice within a couple of months, so she reasonably assumed we had never left…..and that is sort of how it has felt to me.

    This trip has seemed so condensed and a bit more chaotic…but that was to be expected given the length of time we are staying and all that had to be done.  We arrived Sunday night and were able to go to see Levi first thing Monday morning.  There was a music class being held in the room we typically meet in so we spent our time in the Director’s office.  At first I thought we were having a meeting and then they brought him in!  He didn’t seem to remember us as I had hoped he would…..he clung to his caregiver as she tried to hand him to Luke, but as soon as he came he seemed to relax.  Oh he is so precious and my heart went out to him….we really are still strangers and as exciting as all of this is for us, it is scary for him.  But it didn’t take long and he was enjoying himself again.  He sure does love to play and is entertained with the same toys and games for all of the hours we spend with him.  We brought a mirror toy this time as we were told he may never have seen himself, and that was quite the hit!  He would look at us in the mirror and then look up at us in person, as if trying to figure this out.  We built towers with some blocks which we taught him to knock down and he got quite a kick out of that.  Books were only good for chewing on and I noticed four teeth had come in since we last saw him.  We tried holding his hands and helping him to walk, but he much preferred doing it on his own….holding onto the couch and walking back and forth between us, pulling up and sitting down over and over again.  It is such a joy to watch him figure things out….I love to just sit and watch his face as he seems to process what we are doing and then tries to imitate us....so precious!

    Court was scheduled in the afternoon, and I suppose I have a very “movie-like” image of what court should be, because it was nothing like what I expected.  We separately answered a few questions and signed our names in an office, waited for our facilitator to take care of some aspects and then it was official!  As with almost every major part of this journey…it feels surreal.  I think that having to wait 30 days for the court decree to go into effect and not being able to bring him with us, has some bearing on that….but soon enough it will be as real as it can be and I cannot wait!

   Our time has been dependent on when we can meet with various officials or offices to obtain adoption and birth certificates, take care of passports etc.  Fortunately we were able to spend a couple of hours with him again this afternoon and this time he smiled when he saw us and was rearing to go!  He was a busy little guy for most of the afternoon…..and then as it usually goes he suddenly feels worn out and just wants to cuddle….no complaints here!  He has the funniest facial expressions and has really started to use his voice in a way that lets you know what he thinks. 

   We will be able to spend the morning with him tomorrow, the afternoon will be more paperwork and then we head back home!  This time it’s a little easier, knowing we will be back so soon, and for the final time.

 

   There is one more thing I’d like to share…..yesterday on the day we made this adoption final, there was an article in the newspaper here declaring that there may be a ban on American’s adopting from Russia.  Obviously we were thanking God that this will not affect us since we have already had our court date….but I felt physically sick at the thought of the many other families who are in the midst of this process and may be affected, as well as for the hundreds of thousands of orphans here that so need a loving family.  Nothing is concrete at this point, but the reason behind the ban is even more disturbing (I have copied and pasted a brief article below regarding the situation).  The reason I share this is to ask that you join me in praying for this situation, for the families trying to bring little ones into their families, and for the future of these orphans who are just so precious!

 

NCFA Responds to Possible Russian Ban of Intercountry Adoptions to the U.S

Russian Parliament Proposes Ban in Retaliation for the Magnitsky Act; International Politicking Would Force Orphaned Children to Pay the Price

December 18, 2012 – Alexandria, VA – Legislation has been introduced in the Russian Parliament that would ban intercountry adoptions with the United States.

This radical amendment to the Dima Yakovlev Law was proposed as retaliation against U.S. passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, a bill that imposes sanctions against Russian officials perceived by the U.S. to be guilty of human rights violations in Russia. Among the sanctions is a prohibition on Russian criminals visiting the United States.

This threatened ban on intercountry adoption comes after years of discussion between Russia and the United States to address areas of needed reform, strengthen protections and increase accountability, and better serve adopted children and adoptive families. Recent negotiations resulted in a bilateral agreement between Russia and the U.S., which went into effect on November 1, 2012.

“Orphaned children could become collateral damage in this round of international politicking,” says Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption. “The proposed Russian amendment is a punitive, excessive, and highly unfortunate reaction to a U.S. policy that has absolutely nothing to do with intercountry adoption. The opposition of some Russian politicians to the Magnitsky Act, which prevents Russian human rights violators from entering the U.S., should not threaten the possibility of adoption for orphaned and vulnerable Russian children. NCFA and other U.S. adoption advocates are pleading with Russian officials to do the right thing for the more than 700,000 children currently living in institutions in Russia who deserve loving families of their own.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while displeased with the Magnitsky Law, promised an “adequate and not excessive” response. “Banning intercountry adoption is excessive,” says Johnson. “Russian orphans are counting on their President to hear their voices.”

Download a PDF of this statement here >>

Lauren M. Koch
Director of Development and Communications
National Council For Adoption

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Glimpse of the Beginning....

          Today I received another exciting update.  The unexpectedness with which we receive updates makes each feel like such a gift!  Our tentative travel dates have us bringing home our little boy by the end of January!  It's hard to imagine that in a month and a half he will actually be home....to stay.

           As if that wasn't enough, our facilitator shared with us that Levi has been making tremendous progress developmentally since our time with him. Both the baby home director and the social worker agree, and say the personal attention he received during our time with him as well as the delay of a second surgery and his ability to have time to heal, have all contributed to this.  They say he is very expressive with all of his caretakers once again, that he is babbling and walking with support.  I can't help but be reminded of the concerned consideration that we possibly seek another referral when I hear of his progress.  A few small factors have contributed so greatly to his benefit and progress....I cannot wait to spend the next weeks, months and years loving on this sweet boy and watching him thrive. 

           These dates, plans of a final trip, word of his progress, and a fast approaching court date all offer me a glimpse into the end of the adoption process and the beginning of life as a family of four...although at times it has seemed long and drawn out, it is at the same time hard to believe that it has almost been a year.  We officially signed the papers to begin this adoption on January 18, 2012 and his court decree with come into legal effect on January 17, 2013.  Words can't express my anticipation for that day and those that follow.....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Court Date!

                 What a day!  This afternoon I received a call that all of our documents have been received and approved by the judge and a court hearing is scheduled for December 17th!  This is such a blessing on so many levels...the first and most important being that we are even closer to seeing our little boy again, and ultimately closer to bringing him home!
                
                  In approving our documents the judge accepted all of our training, which was a huge answer to prayer, as the laws on parent training recently changed and we weren't sure if what we had done was enough!  In addition, now that we are heading to court before the new year, we will not have to re-do all of our court documents, many of which were set to expire in January!  Now the timeline is for us to head to court in a few weeks, and then return around January 17th to bring Levi home!  Those dates are not set in stone just yet, but that is the general idea.

                   On our third trip we will have to stop in Moscow for Levi's passport, visa etc. so the trip will be slightly different than our first two.  We would really need to know if the 30 day wait period was being waived in advance in order to prepare the documents needed for that, as well as for travel purposes.  Therefore I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that we will not be bringing him home with us on this trip.....I'm still clinging to that .00000001% chance that something may change, but just knowing that we are heading there soon is a huge blessing!

                   Once again this all seems so surreal!  It's crazy to think back to last year at this time when I was debating whether or not to even tell people what I felt God was calling us to do, out of fear that it may actually be true.  I'm not sure why we tend to be so afraid of the unknown, but this has been the most amazing journey.  I'm not sure if I can accurately explain this, but all of the joy and excitement we are experiencing seems so undeserved when I consider that we are just doing one thing that God has commanded us to do.....we are called to care for the orphans...it's a command, not a suggestion....and yet as we do what God commands of us anyway, WE are blessed.  Time and time again I find that as I truly follow Him, I am the one who feels blessed beyond measure.

                    Three weeks from today we'll be heading back to Krasnodar and making this official!

First Steps...

          I realize that this may come across as rather confusing as I have been unable to post the blogs with all of the details about Levi, but just know that this little piece of information that we just received is a miracle........

                                               Levi is walking!!!!!!
 
          Just to receive any word on how he is doing is extremely unexpected and rare....but to read those words blew me away.  He is one determined little boy and I so wish I could be there to see him show that nothing is going to stand in his way.     
 
          I am overwhelmed by all of the implications of this one update as well.......He needs some help and support in making this possible, so this also implies that the caretakers are taking the time to work with him and help him....he is getting the attention he so needs.  It also demonstrates his spirit.....we saw glimpses of this during our time with him, which we labeled as his "stubborness" at the time....but it is such a spirit of determination, of pushing forward and wanting to experience life.  This is a milestone that most babies his age have recently made.....the fact that he too is reaching such a milestone with all that is holding him back.....leaves me speechless.  I want to be there to cheer him on, to clap and make the biggest deal out of each step!
 
           I pray that he will never lose his spirit, and that even as he has setbacks that will temporarily keep him from walking in the near future, that this will not discourage him.  He is so precious....we are SO blessed!!!!!!!!!   
 
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holding Out Hope

         As we head into the end of November, I had assumed it was now fairly unlikely that we would be able to travel for court in December as originally suggested to us.  We have been waiting, without word, for some type of update since we returned from our first trip.  Finally, this evening we have been updated.....although all of our documents are there and waiting, there is a release letter that is required to be sent from Moscow to our region, that has yet to arrive.  We were warned that this often takes quite a while, but our facilitator is hopeful that it will arrive by December 1st.  If this is the case, she also feels fairly confident that we will still be able to go to court in December.
         Just the fact that there is still hope is a huge relief to me.  We've been advised to go ahead and order our visas for December through March as this should cover our next two trips, even if the court date does not happen until January.  We would so appreciate your prayers that we be able to go back in December....not only to bring Levi home sooner, but also because if we are unable to go until January, many of our documents will have to be re-done, re-notarized and re-apostilled. 
           I do realize that this may be what I want and see as best, but God may have other plans.  But I know that we at least have to ask!  So while we're/you're at it, maybe you'll want to join me in praying for an even greater miracle.... : )  ........We've been told that the judge has already said he/she would not waive the 30 day wait period for the adoption to be finalized.  This is why we would have to return in January to bring Levi home.  The only time the wait period has ever been waived is for extreme medical conditions, and Levi's condition (thankfully) is not considered an emergency.  Maybe I'm just being foolish, but I have been praying that somehow our 30 day wait period would be waived and Levi would be able to return home with us on our second trip!  There are so many reasons why, in my opinion, this would be best (not all of them are for my selfish reason of just wanting him home!!).......but again, God is in control and knows best.....He's knows/sees all of the things that I could not possibly be aware of, and I'm ultimately grateful that this will all play out according to His perfect will.  But until we know what that is, please join me in praying for what may seem like the impossible, but is more than possible with God!
           I know I've said this a million times, and I'll say it a million times more....thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you for being on this journey with us and for all of your prayers!!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Russian Nesting Doll Ornaments



                 A while back I mentioned these ornaments, but now that the holidays are approaching we are starting to sell them!  Each summer we attend a camp with our youth group.  Some of the students at the camp choose to take part in an Arts and Crafts track time for 3 days out of the week.  This year, as one of the crafts, the students made these Russian Nesting Doll ornaments as a way to help our family raise money for the adoption.  It was such a blessing that these teenagers would take time out of their day to make these.  They are all different, but each has a picture of a traditional russian nesting doll attached so you are able to see where the design comes from, with a small message on the back.  We are suggesting a $2.00 donation per ornament.  We have tried to avoid fundraising that asks anyone to buy something or give money and were very blessed with all of the donations people gave towards our yard sales etc.  Many have also, willingly and generously (that seems like an understatment!), given monetary donations, and we are forever grateful to all of you!  This will likely be our last attempt at raising money as we feel we are almost at the point where we will have enough.  I will try to keep a bag of the ornaments on me, but feel free to request that I mail them to you, or put some aside if I may not see you in the near future.  Some friends and family who are not local have asked to use paypal and that's great too.....the link on our page to "donate" is available for those who prefer it.  Please don't feel ANY obligation whatsoever to buy one!  You have all supported us tremendously throughout this journey in so many different ways and we so appreciate it!
               

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Time For Everything

             
        The other night we, as a family, were playing in Caleb's "big boy room."  Before long it was bedtime, and Caleb lay down on the bed and requested to sleep there.  Assuming he was likely just trying to buy more play time and avoid going to sleep, I played along.  Much to my surprise he eagerly settled into bed, we read a story, prayed and said goodnight.  For those who aren't aware, Caleb was deeply attached to his crib....many mornings I would go to get him and he would say "no!" and ask to stay and play in his crib.  I had assumed that the transition would be forced, and at the last possible time before Levi comes home.  The point is, the now empty nursery is screaming for a baby to occupy it.  It has somehow amplified my desire for Levi to come home......

        It's been a little while since I've posted on here....mainly because there are really no updates.  Its been over a month since we returned from meeting Levi and we haven't heard much.  I'll be honest, I've started to lose hope of possibly going to court in December, and have started considering that Levi may not come home until February or even later.  It's been a challenge to feel so helpless, while feeling such a sense of urgency that this little boy needs to come home! 

        Last night I was really having a hard time....whenever I start to feel bad for myself, or about something, God always seems to remind me to look at things from His perspective...or compares my situation to His.  Obviously I believe that Levi would be better off here....I've tried to do everything as quickly as possible in order to keep things moving along.  We've done everything that's been asked of us and are just waiting.  It just seems crazy!  I started to hear Jesus reminding me....."I gave my life...I did everything my Father asked of me....I took your place, I paid for your sins...I took everyone's place.....and still I wait for them to come to me."  I love my sons more than I ever could have imagined loving anyone.  There's just nothing like the love for your child, and you can't understand it until you are a parent.  I can't even fathom the love that God has for us, his children.  I can't imagine having given my life and still having my children reject me....or purposefully waiting to come to me.  My longing for Levi to be home with his family is probably not even a fraction of the longing God has for His children to come to Him, and the pain He must feel as we turn away.  If I have to feel this for a few months of my life, and it gives me a deeper glimpse into the love God has for us....how can I complain or feel sorry for myself? 

       There is a time for everything....right now is my time to learn a little more, to draw closer to God and to wait for my son to come home.  I pray I won't forget that this was God's idea from the beginning...His perfect plan to reveal in His perfect time.....I long for that perfect time, but I'm so thankful for the journey and for all that He is teaching me along the way.

       
          

Monday, October 15, 2012

Consignment Sale #2 and some updates

             Soooo....we won the 100% at the Kids Sale too!!  I was genuinely blown away by how many people handed in flyers on our behalf and I cannot thank you all enough!  This has been such a joint effort and I really hope you all realize how much you have helped.  The large majority of clothes and items I had to sell at these sales were donated by all of you to begin with!  Then so many of you went to the sales, handed in our flyers, shared with your friends and encouraged others to hand them in as well.  This has been such a huge blessing....it was almost like having another whole yard sale!  In total, between the two sales we made $599.50 with the 100%!  Although it is still difficult to predict exactly how much more we will spend on the adoption, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are getting very close to having enough!

           It has been so amazing to watch God provide the opportunities for us to raise money again and again.  Not only that, but He offered opportunities that make so much sense to do anyway!  The large majority of our fundraising was done by taking things that people no longer wanted or needed anyway and selling them to people who could use them for a good price.  We were even able to donate so many of the leftovers to people who really really need them.  That is why we will continue collecting any clothing and shoes, as well as any baby/kids items and toys.  While I think we've decided against continuing with the yard sales, we have found the consignment sales to be a great opportunity to raise money.  I know I already mentioned this in regards to the clothing, but here is the final new plan:
            We will collect any shoes, clothing, baby gear and toys that people would like to donate (things you are going to give away or get rid of anyway).  We will take ANY clothes and shoes and will sort through them to put aside anything that would meet the consignment sale requirements (gently used, certain brands etc.).  Those items will be saved for the consignment sales that take place twice a year and all profits will go towards adoption in some capacity.  Any clothing/shoes that does not meet the requirements will be organized and brought to the rescue mission in providence.  For baby gear and toys, these will be sold at the kids sale, as we found that these items sell better than the clothes.  They must, however, be in good working condition and toys should include all of the original parts/pieces.  As we've said before, we are always more than willing to come pick things up.  We think this will be a great way to continue supporting adoption, whether it be for our family, another family, an agency etc., while also collecting items that people in need could use right away.  We're excited to see where this leads!


          As far as what is next......right now we are just waiting to find out when our court date will be.  The projected date is somewhere in the beginning/middle of December, but there are no guarantees.  Certain documents need to be received by our region (from Moscow) that often take quite a while.  We are still praying for a miracle that will allow us to bring him home on the second trip, or with a shorter wait period (currently it is 30 days so we will wait and return sometime in January to bring him home).  I forgot to mention that we did not end up meeting his birthmom/seeing where she may live.  When we put her address into the gps it was 2 1/2 hours away from the baby home, which was already 1 hour away from where we stayed.  It was difficult to know what to do, but we really did not want to sacrifice a day with Levi since the chances of her still living there, being home, and being willing to talk to us were so unknown.  As far as his surgery is concerned, it was initially rescheduled for October 10th, but he still had a cold so they postponed it once again.  We are hoping to obtain a letter from our doctor here within the next week or two that we can send to Russia to convince them that it would be best for him to wait and have the surgery when he comes home.  So basically we are back to waiting and praying.  I feel sort of used to it at this point and although it is difficult to have spent a week with him and then come home without him, I feel much more at peace than I would have ever expected.  In some ways I think it's just because it's so surreal and I feel like I am leading two lives.....one in a small town in Russia and one here in RI.  I also found some comfort in the care that he receives there and the way that the caretakers really seem to love him.  I know that a great deal of the peace comes from resting in the fact that God is in control of this entire process.  It's amazing what really "resting" in Him can accomplish.....I wish I had learned this sooner!

       

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our last day...

  
     The only thing I can think to compare this week to is my wedding. We planned and planned and then in a blur our wedding was over and it all seemed so surreal. I don't think I have attended a single wedding where I did not cry, or at least have to fight back the tears...and one thing I dreaded about our wedding day was that I would be a mess. Our wedding day came and went without my ever shedding a tear (okay maybe my eyes filled up a time or two, but it was far from normal for me). One of my big fears in coming here this week was having to face an orphanage full of children without families and most of all having to say goodbye to our little boy. I thought for sure I would become an emotional mess and the workers would see me as completely out of control (slight exaggeration). And yet....I only had one evening where I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I know that so many people were praying, and that God gave me strength that was not my own....but I also think that in situations such as these, it is just so surreal that I don't react as I normally would. It's as if I just can't even wrap my mind around things enough! This is somewhat irrelevant to the events of our trip as I have been documenting them, but something I have found interesting nonetheless.

     It feels as if we have been here for months, while at the same time it feels as if it can not possible be the end of our short trip. I can't believe we have said goodbye to our precious boy, and I know this realization will soon set in. We have, however, had an incredible experience here and our time with Levi was truly blessed as we have asked so many of you to pray for time and time again.


     Today we arrived at the baby house about ½ hour later than the rest of the week, only to find that Levi was still sleeping!  He was certainly exhausted yesterday, so we were glad that he had slept well.  They woke him when we arrived which we felt badly about, however they insisted that they were going to wake him soon anyway.  He clearly needed some time to wake up so we held him and just played a little until he was ready.  He soon found his energy and began crawling around as he played with his various toys.  I think his favorite has been the book that we made him….not necessarily for it’s purpose of the pictures of our family, but rather for chewing, licking, sliding on the mats, and flailing around in the air.  Everytime he sees it on the mat, he crawls over, grabs it, flips right onto his back and holds it up.  For some reason he always chooses to hold it by the page with Luke and I on one side and Caleb on the other.  This would be exciting, except that he hardly ever held it right side up, but always upside down or sideways.  If you tried to take it from him to turn it around, flip a page, or control it in any sense, he would immediately whine and express his displeasure.  He is very particular and is not afraid to let you know.  I love it!  When we were walking around yesterday we wanted to get him one small thing that is from Russia, and at first this proved rather challenging.  Most toys, clothes etc. are made in China and are written in English with some Russian words added, but everything looks just like what you could find in the US.  Our facilitator suggested we look for the famous Russian toy which comes from a popular cartoon there.  We found one (Cheburashka) that talks and sings in Russian and brought this to him this morning.  He seemed to enjoy the familiar language and the song especially, and we played with this for some time as well.  After a couple hours, it was very evident that he was tired once again.  He just stops being so active, starts to be more cuddly, and eventually starts to cry.  When I picked him up, he immediately stopped and rested against me.  It is so simple to make him happy again…he just wants to be held and loved.  Oh how my heart melts every time I pick him up and he rests against me.  We stayed that way until he had to go for lunch and a nap and I treasured every minute!

        During his time away we again went downtown and walked around a bit, exploring more of the town.  It was interesting to see where he goes to the doctors for checkups, etc.  We returned to the same restaurant as the other day for lunch and experienced a little more Russian cuisine and then headed back to the baby house.

         We had three hours remaining with him, and he was much more awake and ready to play.  It’s crazy to think that it was only a few days ago that we met him for the first time.  He comes so easily to us and our time together has become such a routine.  We set up the mats when we arrive, put out some toys, sit down and wait for him to come play!  It makes me cringe to think that tomorrow we just won’t come and he won’t have the slightest idea why.  I understand the process, and yet this is the part I cannot fully agree with.  Yes it is hard for us, but we understand what is going on….I wish so much that he KNEW we were coming back and did not want to leave. 

         We thoroughly enjoyed our last few hours, and ventured out a bit with the toys…..we pushed him around on a toy train (he seemed indifferent to the ride, but liked the horn and my saying “choo choo, all aboard”), had him ride on one of those inflatable bouncy animals, and took out some large rings used for I don’t know what.  He seemed to enjoy himself and of course loved the random rings the most.  He flipped them back and forth on the mat for what seemed like forever.  That and playing with Luke’s pinky finger seemed of the greatest interest to him for quite some time. : )  His attention span is quite long, and as I said, he knows what he likes!  Finally, we gave him a stuffed dog we made at build-a-bear that has a voice box inside with us saying “Hi (real name)”, “We love you”, and “we’ll see you soon” in both Russian and English.  He really seemed to love the dog…..twice he sort of bent his head down to look into the dogs eyes….it was quite cute.  Unfortunately I don’t think he can press the Russian toy or the dog on his own, but the caretakers there seem very sweet and I do believe they will do it for him from time to time.  There must always be someone there with us, but here and there others would come in to watch us play with him, and they would interact with him as well.  A few took pictures of us with him on their phones.  They really love him and it shows.  This has been a tremendous comfort in having to leave, and I know we should be grateful.

         At one point in the middle of our time, I could tell he was starting to get tired again and when he started to cry Lucas tried to pick him up and calm him down.  He just kept crying and pulling towards me.  I picked him up and he immediately stopped crying and lay against me.  In four days he has learned that I am his momma.  I am the one to go to for comfort.  Not that Lucas couldn’t and I am sure if he had persisted, Levi would have calmed with him as well.  But he has seemed to enjoy playing with Luke more….I know he has enjoyed playing with me as well, and he has expressed this, however the belly laughs have come when Luke is flying him in the air, or being downright silly with him.  He has learned too that daddy is a lot of fun and loves him a great deal.  This is amazing to me…I truly could not have dreamed of a better time with our son.  He clearly has his own adorable personality and we have absolutely adored getting to know him.  I cannot wait to bring out the toys at home and to sit down and play as a family with both of our boys….and then to cuddle and hold them close.  Yes, I think reality is starting to set in and the real test of patience has only just begun.  Praise God that He cares about every detail of this adoption, every hair on that precious boy’s head, and that He WILL see it to completion in His perfect timing!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Days 3 & 4


Just a warning, this is going to be a long one!  The past two days have been very busy and full of things I don’t ever want to forget the details to.  This is the one place where just about everything has been documented, even if I wasn’t able to post….so here we go!

   Yesterday morning we arrived at the baby home and as we were waiting for Levi to come out, we were given some personal advice/opinions about possibly refusing the referral and trying to obtain a different one while we are here.  I was hesitant to include this, but it is too big to leave out.  Not because of what was said, but because of the 100% certainty we have that Levi IS our son.  This person was not trying to be negative, hurtful or controlling….it was simply their desire to give their personal opinion and to be certain that we have considered all of the possibilities in our situation.  The amazing thing is that there is nothing to consider!  This may cause us to appear flighty or as if we have not seriously considered the possibilities of the future, but this is far from the truth.  We have probably thought of every possible outcome there could be, but none of these things matter when God has asked us to simply follow Him.  This is one of the few times in my life I have ever felt such certainty about anything, and I know now what it feels like to have His perfect peace because I am not in control.  He has equipped us with the finances and resources to come this far, and I know that at this moment Satan is working overtime trying to stop this adoption from becoming a reality.  I have waited expectantly for the roadblocks that he would try to throw our way, but it has more often come in the form of those small doubts, or what ifs that can drive you crazy.  Yet time and time again, I have recognized them for what they are and have been able to move forward with peace and joy in knowing that God is in control. 

       Immediately following our conversation, Levi came out with a caretaker and as soon as he saw us he smiled!  We had only been with him for one day and he already recognized us and greeted us with a smile.  He looked older as he was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt as opposed to the onesie pj’s from the day before.  It’s funny how clothes do that.  He was also ready to play…he crawled, rolled over and sat up again and again.  He loved playing with the book we made for him and became frustrated whenever it wouldn’t cooperate and stay the way he wanted it…it was serious business!  Luke laid on his back and started to fly him up in the air….he loved it and even started laughing…it was priceless.  At some points, the woman in an office by the room we were in, would peek out the door when she heard him laughing.  I think they all enjoyed seeing him so happy.

      One of his caretakers came in at one point and laid down on the mat to play with him.  She saw the book we made and read it to him in Russian, pointing to our pictures and being silly with him. (She then asked if she could come home with us and him!)  Then she showed us a massage that they do with him (which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy), and also shared with us that she was his godmother.  She left briefly and came back with a baptism certificate which included a piece of his hair….a Russian baptism tradition we were told.  We played for about 2 ½ hours and when lunch/nap time came, he was more than ready for a nap!

     We had a few hours to wait until we could go back so we walked around the town and talked with our facilitator.  We learned that although there are about 53 children in the baby home where Levi is, the reason it has been so quiet is because they are doing renovations and many of the children have been placed in other homes for a short period of time.  We also learned that baby homes have twice the staff of children’s orphanages.  There is a main doctor, and then different nurses, therapists, caretakers etc.  It seems to be run very well and is clean and neat with a good amount of resources in terms of educational toys and materials, strollers, etc.  During our break we ate at a restaurant and tried some Russian pizza….the primary difference is that there is no sauce, but rather tomato pieces are put down on the dough, then the cheese and toppings. 

     After lunch and nap time, we returned to the orphanage and learned that Levi had only been able to sleep for about 20 minutes, due to a trip to the children’s hospital for a routine vaccine.  He was clearly tired and showed some more emotions, whining and becoming easily frustrated….it was adorable! : )  Honestly, with the many stories I have heard of children in orphanages, I was so happy to see him expressing his frustrations and crying.  He was easily distracted, however, and we were able to play for a while inside and then outside as well.  We had requested to meet one particular caretaker who we had been told was his favorite, and she came to meet us when we were outside.  She immediately took him and squeezed and cuddled him….our facilitator translated for us that she doesn’t want him to go!  I can understand why….he is so sweet!  All in all we were able to spend about 5 ½ hours with him which was such a blessing. 

    Today was very different, yet just as priceless.  When we arrived this morning, Levi was clearly still tired and not as interested in crawling around.  We played with him for a short while and at one point I put him down on the mat after picking him up for a moment and he started to cry…like really cry!  I picked him up and he immediately laid on my shoulder, rubbing my other shoulder with his hand.  He just wanted to be cuddled and staid that way for a while.  Eventually he squirmed his way into a laying down position in my arms and I rocked him for no more than 2 minutes and he was sound asleep.  It was so precious….he slept in my arms for almost 2 hours before they finally said he had to eat lunch (they let us stay past when we usually have to leave for lunch and nap in order to let him sleep more).  As I looked at him sleeping in my arms (sometimes with his eyes half open! So cute!) I laughed to myself thinking of the advice to possibly look for another child.  How could anyone say no?  What a precious little life I held in my arms…..I cannot wait to bring him home!  Unfortunately I think he had a fever as he was quite warm, and it seemed to be a reaction to the vaccine, so please keep him in your prayers!  I know that is typical and nothing to worry about, but I hate that I can’t be there to care for him or know how he is doing.  It’s so hard to feel like I am his mom, but to know that really I am no one just yet.

   We weren’t able to go back this afternoon as we had to get his passport and visa photos edited at a photo shop, however we were able to go to and old traditional Russian restaurant and see a little more of the city.  Tomorrow we go back to spend the whole day with our little boy before having to say goodbye!

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Days in Russia


   Where do I begin?! There is so much I want to share and have written so that I don't forget....I apologize in advance if this is all over the place!

   Our journey here was surprisingly smooth....I think I just kept waiting for us to hit a major traffic jam, our car to break down, or the plane to crash. That sounds terrible now that I am typing it, but for some reason (partially due to my tendency to worry that the worst will happen) I had assumed we would encounter at least one major obstacle. Our flight to Moscow was long, but really not all that bad with the exception of my apparently excessive motion sickness when on a plane over 5 hours. We quickly learned that Russians eat well, as we were fed 3 meals during the 10 1/2 hours we were on a plane, all of which had several "courses" to them. We somehow managed to miss our escort in Moscow who was there to help us make our connecting flight to Krasnodar, however there were signs in English and the people who checked us in managed to communicate with us well enough.

   We arrived in Krasnodar on Sunday (Saturday for all of you!) and our facilitator and driver met us there to bring us to our hotel. Our hotel is comfortable and nice and overlooks the main street here in the city. When we arrived the main road was blocked off, which is tradition on weekends (it is quite similar to Boston in our opinion), and there were street performers, vendors, a concert, and lots of people walking around. This is the custom on weekends, but it was also the birthday of the city, therefore the celebration was a bit larger than normal. We quickly put our things away and walked around taking pictures and exploring briefly. It's really quite beautiful, and the weather is perfect (high 70's). That was pretty much day one as we were beat and after skyping with our little man we were able to get some rest!

   So today was the day we've been waiting for! After attempting breakfast (fried chicken and macaroni were amongst the items at the breakfast buffet at our hotel!), we met our facilitator to prepare for our meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 10:30 and they made sure to remind her not to be late. We met and discussed various questions she said they ask everyone, and then walked over. We were a little early, however they invited us in and we sat down in an office ready for our interview. About five minutes, and several statements later (we were not asked a single question), we were given our refferal and asked if we would like to meet Levi today!

   We had to wait for him to eat lunch and have his nap so we walked around the city a bit and talked with our facilitator before driving to the town where the Baby Home is. When we pulled up, I was surprised at how pleasant it seemed. I wasn't really sure what to expect as I have heard of and read about such a variety of experiences people have had in orphanages. This, for children birth to age 5, is called a Baby Home and had two play areas in the front with a variety of swings, slides and toys for the children. It was rather quiet when we entered, however I am not sure where the children were, as we had gone up several flights of stairs.  There were a few offices and a large room with various toys, a television and a piano.  This is where we waited to find out if we could see Levi or meet with the Director.  After several minutes a woman came in with Levi….he is just so precious!  He just stared at us, looking from person to person as if trying to figure out what was going on.  Our facilitator put out a mat and we sat down to play with him.  She handed him to met and his little heart was beating so hard!  I can only imagine how nervous he felt with all of these strangers, and not having any idea what we were saying to him!  Luke made funny faces and played with him and he started to warm up.  He stared so seriously and intently at him, just waiting to see what he would do next.  Then he discovered all of Luke’s jewelry (yes, Luke’s….many of you agree that he wears more than me half the time!).  He wanted to touch and pull his bracelet, play with his watch and feel his ring…it was so cute to watch him interact with his Daddy!  We gave him his little bunny blanket which he enjoyed swinging around by the ear and chewing on (he is most certainly teething!).  Our facilitator gave him a small tambourine and I think we played with that for almost an hour!  He was so sweet….he would copy what we would do, and then if we did something silly he would wait for us to do it again….and again…and again.  I would have played with that tambourine with him for the next 4 days if they let us stay!  As time went on, he would start to smile at our attempts…he also seemed to love it when I clapped and said his name and would often smile if I did so. 


     He was taken to have a snack at some point so we were able to meet with the Director of the house.  She allowed us to ask questions and provided us with the little information she did have.  Then she asked us questions about our family and about Caleb, provided us with some copies of documents, and even left us with an address for Levi’s birthmom.  We are hoping to go to her house and attempt to meet her, so please keep this in your prayers!  Information she could offer would be amazing to have for the future to share with Levi.


      After the meeting we were able to take him outside to play….his favorite caretaker was with him and we pushed him in a stroller to one of the play areas.  We were able to push him on a swing, have him ride a see saw and play with a toy truck….so simple, but so priceless.  He was obsessed with our sunglasses and as soon as he had the chance he grabbed them and began to chew on them : )  There were other children outside in the other play area (probably all around age 4) and he loved to watch them play.  At several times they were standing along the fence calling out to us.  I wish I could have understood and answered, but we waived and smiled.  They were so precious! 

 
      Although we didn’t see many children and not to the effect I had pictured, I have still been amazed at the peace I have felt.  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for all of the prayers on our families behalf.  God has truly blessed this process and gone before us and paved the way.  We know that even if we do face obstacles, He is in control, and we have had some setbacks and delays, but everything is happening in His perfect timing.  I have not broken down emotionally as I was so afraid of, and I have not felt nervous or uneasy about meetings and potential interviews which is so far from my personality.  I know this is a peace that can only come from God and knowing so completely that this is His will and therefore I truly don’t have to be worried. 

 
       As much as I hated to leave, I must say that the caretakers at the baby house truly seem to love and care for our little boy.  They all stopped to talk to him and get his attention and were so sweet with him.  It all still seems so surreal, but I am so thankful that we have finally met him and been able to love on him! 


      We were told there is little chance of him coming home before January, but I am still going to hold onto the small chance that they will allow him to come home sooner for medical reasons.  He will likely not have his second surgery there and we are so grateful that we may be able to be there with him through that experience.  We will certainly share more details once he is home and officially a Cruse!  But for now I will try to keep updating every couple of days!

 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Consignment Sale #1 Results

                 The Women's Consignment sale is officially over and I cannot thank everyone enough!  When I walked in today to pick up all of the items that didn't sell, the first thing they said to me was that they couldn't get over how many mini-flyers had been handed in on our behalf.  They said they thought there was maybe one handed in that wasn't for us in the entire box!  So thank you thank you thank you SO much for handing these in!  Our total was $247, but now that we have won 100% it brings our total to $429!!!

                 I sold 61 out of 162 items so I still have quite a few items which I will save for the next sale in the Spring.  This was the first Women's Consignment sale and they said that this is common when they first start, but that they quickly pick up and take off (as the kid's sale has!).  So I have 101 items all set and ready to go for the Spring and those profits will still go towards adoption, just most likely for another family! : )

                The kids sale starts this Thursday for the public.....There are about 350 consignors and (I heard) about 50,000 items entered into the system!  Thursday night there are re-stocking consignors who will drop off new items, and Saturday many items will be 50% off!  And once again we have the opportunity to win 100% of our sales.....if you plan to go and happen to buy something, please hand in one of our flyers.  Thanks so much!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Consignment Sales!

             In the midst of our yard sales, I found out about two upcoming HUGE Consignment Sales happening locally.  Anyone can be a consignor for a very small fee, so I began putting aside some of the nicer clothes that had come in for the yard sales.  Others began donating more clothes and now I have a few hundred items to sell at these sales!  All the profits, of course, will go towards the adoption.
             The first sale, coming up September 21 and 22 is the Women's Restyled RI Sale.  All items are new or gently used and must be mall brand or better.  This is the sale I have the most items for!  If you or anyone you know plans to go, please print out the following flyers (or I would be more than happy to send you some hard copies!).  If you happen to purchase something, PLEASEEE hand in one of these flyers at checkout.  They have my consignor number on them and I will be entered into a drawing to win 100% of my sales, as opposed to the 60% I will receive otherwise.  This is a really easy way to help us raise the most amount possible through this fundraiser and we appreciate any help!
             There are about 350 consignors for the Children's Sale (happening the following week), with over 26K items already entered into the system.  They say the number usually doubles just before the sale with everyone entering in last minute items!  So if there is anything you need.....clothing, baby gear, toys, books, shoes etc. at a discounted price, I'm sure you will be able to find it.  This year they have also added restocking consignors so that a couple days into the sale there will be a new load of items to replensih all that sold.  The final day, many items are 50% off!  Below are four mini-flyers for the children's consignment sale with all of the necessary information.  Again, if you happen to go and purchase something, please hand in one of these flyers so that I can be entered to win the 100%!!

 
Hopefully, if there are things you need, this could be a great opportunity for you to find some great deals, save some money, and help us out at the same time....Thanks so much!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Official Travel Dates!

We have finally received official dates for our first trip to meet Levi!!!
 
We will be heading to Russia September 29th....we were hoping for sooner, but this is what they've chosen. 
 
There is so much I want to share, but again, I can't be too specific.
So, yes...we have decided to name our little boy Levi. His current name will become his middle name. We had gone back and forth many times about this....whether we would keep his name, what we would name him if we did change it, etc. etc., and figured we would just have to wait until we met him. When we saw his first picture (a photo of him at 3 months old) my first thought was Levi. We had discussed the name even prior to knowing about adopting a boy and had decided against it, but for some reason it just seemed right. Luke agreed, but we still weren't 100% positive. I decided to look up the meaning. His current name means "God is gracious" (there's a blog on this I wish I could share!!), so when I found out that Levi meant "joined," "joined in harmony", "attached" I felt certain that this was his name. God has been so "gracious" to" join/attach" him to our family, it just seemed to fit. 
 
 
  

 
 
 
     There are, of course, tons of things to pack, but two things are of greatest importance to me as we prepare to leave.  The pictures above shows a book we made of our family to give to Levi.  It is written both in Russian and in English, and I am on my way to learning how to read it in Russian as well (I finally broke down and am learning the Russian alphabet so that I can at least read this book to him!).  I cannot wait to read it to him and especially can't wait to add photos of us with him when we travel back the second time!

 
    The second most important thing is one of the bunnies pictured above.  Caleb, around Levi's current age, became very attached to his "beary" and it is still incredibly special and comforting to him.  We learned the hard way and only had one, which has been sewed back together several times and is quite.......gross.  By the time we found another duplicate, it was too late....he knew the difference and the new one didn't cut it.  So we smartened up and bought two identical bunnies, with plans to use them both at once.  We will leave one in Russia with Levi and one at home for now. 

           I cannot contain my excitement and joy at being able to finally meet this little one that we have been praying for since just about this same time last year when we first felt God calling us to adopt.  It's amazing to think it has been a year (9 months since we officially started the process).....God has brought us so far, taught us so much, blessed us beyond measure....and now we get to meet this precious boy. 

          PLEASEEEEE pray for us as we travel...that everything would go smooth, that we would have good interaction and experiences with the officials, orphanage staff and others, that our time with Levi would be blessed and that I will be able to hold it together!  I've truly tried to block out thoughts of being in an orphanage full of children in need of a family, as well as the thought of holding our boy in my arms and then leaving him.....as it gets closer to our trip, I can't help but think about it more and it is already breaking my heart.  I don't want to be an emotional mess, so I will definitley need your prayers!  We love you all and can't thank you enough for your prayers and support!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Just an FYI

          We received an e-mail today that we could be meeting our little one very soon!  There are some things happening that are complicating our ability to visit at certain times, so there is mention of us making our first trip within the next couple of weeks.  This is all very tentative and, as the e-mail specified, just an FYI.  It would also be somewhat of a miracle if we were able to pull it off as we would need to book our flights, apply for and receive our visas etc. all in a very short time period.  I wish I could share with all of you more of the details, and although I have created two posts since the referral, due to confidentiality I will be unable to post them until the adoption is final.  We should have more answers on Monday, but I wanted to post a brief update....please continue to pray for out little boy and that we would be together soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Referral: It's A Boy!

                   It all feels very surreal, but we have received our referral!  An adorable little boy that we cannot believe is waiting for us to bring him home!!  Unfortunately we are not allowed to share his picture or any other details until everything is official.  The information we have is dated at this point anyway, and we are waiting to hear more.  We are not sure exactly when we will travel, but have been told it will likely be 2-4 weeks from when we accept the referral.  We're not even sure what we have to do to accept other than what we've already said...of course we'll accept!  I know this is not very informative, and will share more as we learn the details of what happens next, but we wanted you all to know that we have another precious son!!!!!

                   Thank you for all of your prayers and for the excitement so many of you have expressed for our family...it truly means so much!  Please continue to pray for this little one....we have quite a journey ahead of us in several aspects, but we are so excited to continue this journey God has us on.  It has been an amazing blessing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A New Plan

            This isn't completely adoption related, but I figured it would be the best way to get this message to more people.  As many of you know we received a great deal of clothes for our yard sales.  It was probably what we received the most of.  We sold a reasonable amount at the yard sales, and I pulled quite a few things aside for the upcoming consigning I will be doing, but in the end we were left with boxes upon boxes and bags upon bags of clothes.......

                
                I called the Providence Rescue Mission to see if they could use the clothes, shoes, blankets and sheets and they said absolutely.  Their website says they give away about 5,000 articles of clothing a month, and when I dropped off this load and asked if they'd like more, they were quick to say yes!  And so.....my thought was this....why stop collecting the clothes and shoes if they are so needed?  The mission gives them away to people who really need them.  Most of the time I throw mine in a bin on the side of the road and wonder if they're cut up for other purposes, sold, or who knows what.  I'd love to collect, organize and deliver loads like this as often as possible!

                So, if you or anyone you know ever has clothes or shoes to get rid of (mens, women's, childrens, baby, etc.), please feel free to drop them off here, or have us come pick them up.   Here's my plan:  I will put aside any of the newer, name brand clothing for the consignment sales (only womens and children's...these sales will be happening semi-annually) and any money raised will go towards adoption in some capacity.  It may be for our family if we are still in the process, or if not it will go to another family who is in the process.  We will have a special account just for this.  All of the other clothes will be organized and delivered to the rescue mission, along with all shoes.

                The more we learn about the needs of those around us (and those far away too!), the more I want to do....so this is a small start, but I'm excited to begin.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, thank you to all those who have donated so many things already, and thank you in advance to those who will partner with me in this!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Adoption Benefit Yard Sale #4(b) - The End!

                      Today I decided that it would be a good idea to host a yard sale by myself.  It was a very humbling day.

                       However! : )  Although our grand total was about $150.00, it was a good day.  I had a lot of conversations with people about adoption, our journey, their experiences etc.  People seemed to want to talk today.  Maybe it was because there was usually only one person there at a time.  But it was exciting to get to share our story, to shed some light on the topic of adoption, and to hear what other people are doing.  I was able to give some much needed items to several people who are helping to care for children that aren't their own and that was wonderful.  And now we have three loads of donations to bring places! 

                       It had to wind down at some point and although we planned on doing one more sale, we are officially done.  This certainly became much more than what we had ever anticipated and we have been so blessed by all of the help we have received through donations, help at our sales etc.!  So thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

                     

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Adoption Benefit Yard Sale #4(a)

  Rejoice always, 
pray continually,
 give thanks in all circumstances;
        for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

                            So today was the day of our fourth sale and while the forecast predicted the possibility of rain, when we woke up at 5:30 it wasn't raining.  So we set up....and then came the rain.  We had some tarps and quickly covered everything as best we could, and with the help of a friend (with a major servants heart) we attempted to rearrange the garage to set up as much as possible inside.  Of course it was dissappointing, but we did all that we could do.  I am so thankful that this is all God asks of us!  He is clearly the one providing so we really have no reason to be upset or worried.  We will rejoice as he tells us to, and in this too we will give thanks.  He has provided faithfully and been there every step of the way, and we are so grateful.

                            So the grand total today was............$20.60!!  However, today in the midst of the chaos I received a phone call from my eye doctor asking if I was interested in doing a contact study.  I've often taken part in the past, earning as much as $250.  This one....pays a little over $400.  God is so good! 

                          No pictures from today, but we are set up as best as we can be in the garage so I will try tomorrow from 8-1 to be out there....we'll see how it goes!  Thank you as always to everyone who has donated, we cannot thank you enough.


                          And a special thank you to Ian Quinn who came to help us even as it poured on his way here.  We are so grateful for friends like him!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Mailbox

I lift my eyes up to the hills -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
        


               The mailbox has become my new best friend.  Prior to the adoption, the most exciting thing I might find in our mailbox was a good coupon.  Needless to say, checking the mail was not a top priority.  In the past several months this has become one of my favorite things to do.  From encouraging notes, generous donations and thoughtful cards, to USCIS approval, Grant decision letters, and passports, we never know what we might find or how it may change our lives these days.

                Yesterday I checked the mailbox only to find it empty.  Our mail comes fairly early so I assumed we had just not received anything.  Later in the evening I decided to check once more.  Yesterday was one of those days when the mailbox held another life change.  I opened one envelope to find an extremely generous donation towards the adoption and was once again overwhelmed by the willing generosity of so many.  Then I opened a second.  Inside was the most beautiful card and note, with the following scripture....

 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
You are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
You are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:11-13

      Taped inside the card was a check for $10,000. 

                   The shock and feeling that this is surreal has still not worn off.  Don't misunderstand...I knew that God was going to provide....He had to!  We certainly couldn't make this happen.  Yet I am blown away over and over again as He brings others alongside of us and provides in such astounding ways.  Together we are adopting a child....together we are answering His call....I am so humbled to be a part of this.  I knelt beside my bed after opening this gift and cried....tears of pure joy and praise to He who makes the impossible possible.  We cannot begin to express our gratitude to these amazing people in our life.  I cannot express how much this changes our lives and the life of a child; how it encourages us to continue to step out in faith; how we look up to their example of viewing themselves as mere stewards of His resources....how much we love them and are so thankful God has blessed us with them in our lives.  Thoughts of how we could possibly accept such a gift kept coming to my mind, but I kept being reminded of this....Who am I to question how He is choosing to provide and make a way?  Who am I to say that I cannot accept this? 

                      Nearly seven months ago we signed the contracts to begin this adoption.  We had $4,000 to our name and very few ideas of how to go about raising $50,000.   Here we are only seven months later at almost $40,000.  This is God.  Don't miss that!