Thursday, September 26, 2013

No more babies here! (at the present time.....)

I decided to take a picture when we went to the park the other day.  The boys were wearing their personalized hoodies Meme had made for them when Levi first came home and it reminded me of a photo I had taken then.  It's amazing to look at the two pictures side by side and see the difference just seven months makes....which really seems like 2 weeks since time has been flying!

Last February.....just about a month after Levi arrived home!
This months later

          Such little more babies here!  It's funny, I've been noticing that a lot lately....more and more of the "baby things" have been put away.  Trips to babies r us are few and far between.  Toddler-hood is in full force in this house!  They want to do things for themselves....and they want to help me do everything.  I may has well have sat in the car today at Walmart and let them do the shopping.  Caleb pushes the cart on his own....Levi very swiftly puts everything into the cart (how he does it without me even noticing when he's sitting so close he's touching me, is a mystery)....and they both load onto the belt!  Caleb even knows how to scan the barcodes now and has mastered the self-checkout.  Oh and not to worry about putting things away because Levi also enjoys taking everything out of the bags and placing each item onto our lazy susan.  Who needs mom?!

       No, but's amazing how much they change, so quickly, at this age!  And also amazing how far one little boy has come in such a short time!  Last year, at this exact week, we were preparing, with much anticipation, for our first trip to meet our son.....more reminiscing to follow!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"On and on and on and on it goes....."

          (Disclaimer: The following events are true and accurate.  They are not being shared to elicit pity, sympathy, or judgement.  This may seem to be all over the place, which reflects my current mental state.  Finally, be warned, this post is one of the things that goes on and on and on.)

           I couldn't begin to guess when I first started to read Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts," but I do know that it was in God's perfect timing.  I had planned to read it for quite some time, but just so happened (sarcasm) to read it when it would be something that I truly needed.  Something that really changed my life, and I know will continue to.  Because God does that....he uses people, their ideas, their experiences, their minister to you at just the right time.  And as I look back over the craziness of these past few months, I can already see SO many examples of everything being a gift....everything.  But at first?  Not so much.

          While I know the things that I see as hardships are nothing compared to what some endure, for me many events of the past weeks have been difficult to be thankful for...difficult to receive with gratefulness....difficult to see as a gift.  At first glance.  The hard eucharisteo seemed to hit..well...hard!  Interestingly, in my quest to complete the joy dare, I seemed to be counting the gifts faster than I ever imagined.....and then I got to 900....and July came....and some days I struggled to find the gifts.....
It has seemed like one thing after another...on and on and on it does God's love.  We sang this song on Sunday that echoed all that I've been feeling.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me x3

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I'm confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there's nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

           On and on it has thing after another....and in that one thing after another has been God's ever present, unwavering love.  Demonstrated in so many ways, but so clear....even now while still in the midst of the chaos, I can see it clearly.  The gifts....everywhere I look.  Gifts in the hard things.  Gifts in the uncomfortable.  I just have to accept them and receive them for what they are.  Gifts.  Allow me to share share how my perspective has changed and I am learning, ever so slowly, to accept everything as grace....everything for what it truly is, a gift.

           Early July, feeling God's call to adopt again.  Putting aside our plans.....wondering about the uncertainty of bringing an older, children....siblings...into our family.  And on it goes.....God's peace, confirmation.....excitement and joy for what is in store....that He will use us!  Such a gift.

           Mid July.....medical issues hitting hard, leading to a gluten intolerance, lactose sensitive diagnosis.  Diet change.  Uncomfortable.  And on it goes....seeing the timing.  God slowly leading me in the months prior to learn to cook more from scratch, to even enjoy it a little, and to begin to make small changes that would make the transition less extreme.  And the healing....feeling normal again (whatever that is : )  Especially with all that was to come....I would soon need my health more than ever!  Such a gift.

        Soon thereafter finding a home that seemed perfect.  Off the market before we could see it.  Back on the market 24 hours later.  Offer accepted that week....closing scheduled in four weeks, for late August.  Feeling the pressure build and the "comfortable" of life fade away.  Often wanting to back out and remain comfortable....financially, mentally, physically.  Feeling like this was part of God's plan and stepping out in Faith.  And on it goes.....the blessing of a home in the exact location we desired, large enough for us to grow into, with so many things we had long since come to terms with never needing in our future home.  And again, God blessing us....infinitely more than we could have imagined.  What a gift.  

        Mid August....3 weeks after buying the motorcycle he'd talked about for years....I get the call.  "Some girl hit me, knee hurts...think the ambulance is going to take me to the hospital."  It was a day off, an order back....he was supposed to be home.  And on it goes.....the blessing of wonderful people who stayed with him in the hospital, brought him home at 4 am, called, sent cards.....prayed!  Knee reconstruction.....a better outcome than so many others.  And yes....possible funding towards the next adoption.  Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.  Yes, I trust God will use this for His good in more ways than one.  Such a gift!

       And the ripple effect began....The accident changed things for the bank.  Will his income change?  How long?  Do you have proof?  More paperwork....more uncertainty.  Was it all for nothing?  The closing is supposed to be in two weeks!  And on it goes.....God's perfect timing.  Allowing us to close in us an extra month to find renters and remain in our home without two payments.  Such a gift.  

      Renters.  They came through, loved the house, wanted to leave a deposit.  The accident happened just after.  I was too distracted with my husband's injury, impending surgery, paperwork needed for the bank, changing insurance companies, and trying to care for two toddlers and a now much more dependent husband.  They moved on.  And on it goes.....God blessing us with the best Realtor who was willing to help us find the tenants we needed at the right time.  God knowing what we couldn't have known...that the closing would be later and we wouldn't have been able to hand over our home in time for those first tenants anyway.  A gift!

      Work on the house?  The plan was for Luke to do most of it....we didn't have the funds to pay someone else!  Now, how would we ever be able to move in quickly so that we wouldn't be paying two mortgages?  And on it goes....God knowing beforehand that we were in over our heads, but planning to provide and make a way if we just moved forward in faith.  Providing Luke's dad to come for an entire week and sacrifice his time, efforts and many talents to do what Luke likely could not have done in that short time as well as many other jobs we would have had to hire someone to do!  Another gift!

     Without Luke being able to work on the house, I had to do as much as I could.  Often leaving just around nap time, I've been spending anywhere from 6-12 hours a day cleaning, painting and doing all I can do to make it ready.  Exhausting....sometimes seemingly impossible.....but on it goes and I see all of the gifts.  God providing my wonderful, hard working family to sacrifice hours of their time and energy every single day after work to come alongside me and help.  If Luke were working, how would I have ever been able to leave the kids and get so much accomplished?  And again, this accident....while not welcomed and not what we would have chosen....could it be, a gift?

     Luke finally able to spend some time at the house.  I have the kids in the truck and am heading out to do a few, much needed, errands.  I arrive at my first destination and turn in, no power steering.  I'm no car expert, but I recognize this!  I did after all drive an old Del's truck back in the day!  My stomach feel sick...we really can't have anything else go wrong....right?  I call the mechanic, he says they'll get me right in.  And on it many gifts in this one seemingly stressful and just downright frustrating situation.  An opportunity to pray with my boys about the situation, and to answer Caleb's questions about why we're praying for this!  A couple of hours, unplanned, with my boys a midst weeks of chaos and very little time focused just on them.  We took that double stroller all over a Walmart to use the last of Caleb's birthday gift McDonalds where Levi enjoyed his first fast food burger and ate every last bite!  It was such a special time to just let the boys lead.....let them decide what they'd like to do next and to enjoy each other be all there.  The truck was done just as we headed back from lunch to check on it....and the cost?  Only $50.  We prayed on the way home, thanking God for the blessing of a quick fix, cheap fix, and time together.....and answered prayer.  So Many Gifts.

      Our new stove arrived with a dent.  We needed help to get it home since Luke couldn't load and unload, so we surely weren't bringing it back.  And on it goes.....a partial to use towards other needed resources!  Our washing machine currently in pieces after one repair has already been done.  Piles of laundry adding up.  And on it goes.....offers to do my laundry elsewhere, a little perspective on how blessed we are just with the clothing we have seeing as I haven't done laundry in four days and we have not struggled to find what we need to wear.  All gifts......

      I've never seen it this way before.  I pick and choose what I consider a gift....but these would certainly not have made the cut.  These words ring in my head....."And what do I really deserve?  Thankfully, God never gives what is deserved, but instead, God graciously, passionately offers gifts, our bodies, our time, our very lives.  God does not give rights but imparts responsibilities - response-abilities - inviting us to respond to His love-gifts.  And I know and can feel it tight.  I'm responding miserably to the gift of this moment.  In fact, I'm refusing it.  Proudly refusing to accept this moment, dismissing it as no gift at all, I refuse God.  I reject God.  Why is this eucharisteo always so hard?"  I've realized that everything is a is how I choose to respond, how I choose to see, that matters - that changes everything.

      Many have asked, through the seeming chaos (which I should probably start referring to as season of many gifts!) if we are still planning to adopt.  The answer is simple....yes.  We are still planning to follow God's lead.  And for now, we feel Him leading us to a second adoption.  From the very first conversation we had about moving forward, I felt strongly that we would not begin updating our home study until late this year, possible not until January.  At the time, I wasn't sure if I was just trying to put things off, but now I know why.  There were things to learn, gifts to receive, and changes to be made as God prepares us in so many ways to expand our family.  And I am certain, as we are promised difficulty and hardships in this life, that there will be many similar seasons where it seems as if it just goes on and and on, one thing after another.  But I pray that I will not forget that everything is a gift....and will always be so thankful that......

                        Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me 
Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me 
          Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me 

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thank you!

          Thank you so very much to everyone who has purchased a bracelet, or shared about it with their friends, family and facebook world!  I've already sold quite a few and had some special orders.  I will continue to update the photo album as bracelets are sold and new ones are made, and will add a link on the side bar for easy access.  Thank you so much's amazing to think about how many many people made it possible for Levi to come home, and are now doing the same for the children God has for us in the future.....don't miss that YOU are answering the call to care for the orphans, YOU are playing a role in adoption....YOU are so much appreciated! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fall Fundraising

          So a LOT has been happening and the "crazy" life I mentioned in my last post has since become crazier!  But in the midst of closing on our new home, trying to get it ready to move in at the end of the month and Luke's recent motorcycle accident, God has continued to make it clear that we are to move forward with this second adoption.  And so....we are back to fundraising, but trying a couple of new ideas this time around, along with a lot of the same.  We had our first yard sale in July and have sold several items on Craigs List.  We still have a TON of items to sell and keep receiving more and more donations.  With the move and everything going on, we are thinking that the next yard sale will realistically not be until the Spring.  So in the meantime I am working on a few other projects......

           The first has been an interesting endeavor to say the least.  I have been determined this time around to find something that I can make in order to raise money.  I've purchased a couple of awesome items from other families raising money for their adoptions and I wanted to try it out.  The problem is....I don't have any of those creative talents!  I can't paint, build things, sew, knit etc etc.  But finally, I found something I could do.  I often buy these handmade bracelets through Amazima as gifts for people, and also have one of my own.  I love everything about them, especially that they help support hardworking women trying to take care of their families.  So I'll be honest, I feel a little guilty making these, as if I'm taking away from what they are doing in a sense.....but with my limited talent it was this or nothing!  After several failed attempts I finally figured out what to do........ 

1.  Cut strips of scrapbook paper into long, thin triangles

2. Roll each strip so that it creates a bead, and string them

3. Dip each string of rolled beads into polyurethane and hang to dry

4. Remove polyurethaned beads from the string and sort by color

Then it's just deciding which colors and adding the beads to memory wire!

Here's an example of the final result! (I added tags as well)

           So the goal is to sell them for $10.00 each ($2 for shipping if needed)....and if all else fails, you'll all be getting handmade bracelets for every birthday and Christmas gift to come! : )   (see already made bracelets here:  If you'd like one, just contact me with the number and I'll remove it from the album and get it to you!

           Project number two has been to prepare for the upcoming Consignment Sale.  This fall, there will only be a kids sale so I have been busy collecting, cleaning, entering, hanging and tagging all of the items that are consignment sale eligible!  I'm currently at about 130 items!  So as always, I have the chance to win 100% of my sales (rather than the 65% I will receive otherwise).  For every mini flyer, with my consignor number, handed in, I will have another chance to win.  All you have to do is hand in the flyer below at checkout.  For those of you who are already planning to go, we would SO appreciate it if you would print one and hand it in IF you buy something.  Please don't feel obligated to go, or to buy something, just because we are sharing this....but if you're going anyway and buy something anyway, it's a super easy way to help us out! (If you'd rather not print them, I'd be more than happy to print one for you and send it to you as the sale is still a couple of weeks away!)

          The last thing I've been working on is preparing an Online Auction Fundraiser for early November.  I have created a facebook group for this auction, with photos of all items available.  For about one week, people will have the opportunity to bid on items by simply commenting with their bid under the photo.  I participated in a couple that other families had and thought they were a great idea!  The main focus right now is finding items and services to auction off.  I have quite a few things already, but am still seeking more.  Eventually I plan to head out into the community to see if anyone would be willing to donate items or services.  I will list the information and website for whichever companies or services are willing to donate as a way to help advertise for them as well.  If you happen to have an idea, or have something you may be willing to let us auction, pleeeasseee let me know!  Some ideas are listed back on this blog entry (towards the bottom).

          On another note I have yet to update the Q and A tab for this adoption.....mostly because I haven't had the time, but also because we are still praying about some of the details.  We've talked to some of you here and there and shared a little, but I will update here in the near future!