Friday, December 23, 2011

What I Need this Christmas.

What do you want for Christmas...?

The question flies around this time of the year and I've spent so much time thinking about what I want and what I need this year.

I see suffering around me. I feel daily the failure I am as the mommy GOD wants me to be. I worry about my kids. I worry about my marriage. I wonder sometimes how I will wake up in the morning and get my kids ready, let alone myself. I feel lost. I feel confused. I feel like my flesh wages such a warfare with my spirit. I want things I don't need. I am scared to death about the capabilities I will have as a mommy to Isabell and Caleb. Will I be what they need?  Will I be able to help their hearts heal?  Will we all learn sign-language enough to communicate to Caleb he is loved?  What if Isabell never walks?  What if we never recover financially?  I worry about our house. Will it be big enough?  Is it too big? I fight feelings of jealously over others homes and stuff and kids and marriages. I don't have the answers to the questions I am asked and feel the failure, the pressure. I don't say the things I need to say. I spend time with the lost, and don't share the gospel. I question my own heart.  I question my motives. I fail. Over and over again I fail. I sin.
What do I need for Christmas?

I need God HERE. With me. Helping me. Caring for me. Loving me. I need unconditional love. I need someone to look past my failures. I need God HERE.
Emmanuel, God with us.

Oh, those words they have medicated my soul. Emmanuel, my God has come to be with us.

Jesus was born a man. He was born in a stable. He was born in filthy conditions. Things like blood, sweat, feces, a placenta, an umbilical cord, pain, tears, they were present when Jesus was born. He was born just like you and I. Born to be a man WITH us. Rarely have I ever realized the humanness of His birth. Those words they just aren't "churchy." They just didn't fit in the manger scene I had. For me, Jesus' birth was almost un-touchable. Un-approachable. Something so Holy, I could not be a part of. Holy indeed, but human. Jesus came here, to live among our mess, our dysfunction, our sin, our failures. He came here.  Even more awe-invoking is the fact that He did this for us. He did this to save us from our rebellion to HIMSELF. While I was a sinner, cursing Him, not trusting Him, failing Him, denying Him, He came to live here with us in this mess, to be Emmanuel, God with us.

He came for the potty-mouth talking kids. He came for the greedy, for the jealous, for the moms who let their children down, for the lonely, for the liars, for the thieves, for those who deny Him, for those that work too much, for the sick, for the widow, for the orphan, for all of us, for me.

Emmanuel, God with us. He is NOT untouchable. He is not far away. He is here, with us.

This Christmas I need God with me. I need Emmanuel. Praise God He came. He is with us. It is my hearts desire this Christmas to share Emmanuel with my children. To show them Jesus is real, with us, approachable.  We can bring our real, filthy, weary, dirty selves to Him.

The real words out of Jesus' mouth:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What I learned from Noah

Hebrews 13:5  Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you.

To my Noah,

You and me, we are a lot a like. We butt heads though. The love I have for you is a tough love, a love that isn't always evident or obvious. Sometimes, I don't do a very good job of showing you my love. Sometimes I fail you as a mommy.  But I want you to know that I love you because Jesus loves me, and loves you. He loved us first. His love for us was not because we loved Him. And so Noah, my love for you is not because of something you do, or because of your love for me.  I love you first, with, or without your love back. I love you.

We are sitting in your room today and I am asking you why you won't eat your now third meal of the day. It's so frustrating. We even had your favorite, dare I say it... chicken nuggets... for dinner, and yet you still refuse to eat. I know you are hungry. I know you are mad about something. I know you need to tell me, to use your words and share with me why it is you are angry. But you won't. You scowl, and throw a fit and have a meltdown, for now the third meal of the day.

Thoughts now run through my mind.  We've given you new clothes to wear. We've given you toys all of your own. You've gotten treats and meals and had a full tummy every day in our home. We tell you we love you, we tuck you in and hug and kiss you every night. We tell you every single day we will never leave you. We tell you and show you that you can trust us. We've met your needs. I expected you would soak up my love like a thirsty sponge.  And yet, you break your toys and could care less about them. You refuse to eat, you sometimes try hiding food in your mouth or not chewing or over stuffing your mouth and choking. You have been insatiably selfish, you always want more, nothing is ever enough for you. At night when you are scared and I hold you and tell you there is nothing to be afraid of, you still are afraid. You stiffen up like a board and do not find comfort in my arms.

Almost three years we've spent together and I find myself angry. I want so desperately for you to find comfort in your mommy. I want you to be happy and trust me. Trust me. And there I am sitting staring at you in your room. I have no idea how to proceed. I am fighting feelings of anger, and frustration. I find myself desperately praying for help. 

But our God, He is so merciful and so gracious.  His love for us, for me, is nothing short of amazing. Grace. I prayed for help. God gave me grace.

Grace. What a gift. There is no better a gift than grace. 

All the garbage in my life started circling in my head. 

I am God's adopted child. He has adopted me as His own. Given me a new life, clothed me in His righteousness. He has made me a co-heir with Jesus. I have an inheritance that is un-destroyable. He has blessed me. And yet, even today, I have asked for more. I have been given a warm and cozy home, and I treat it like it's not enough. I ask for more. I complain that I don't have enough, over and over again. I cry out in fear and God is there all-knowing my future, and I turn away. I do not seek Him for my comfort. I try and do it on my own. I rely on others, on myself, I do not hand it over to Him. God longs to be intimate with me, to show me the fullness of His presence, His freedom, His hope. I turn away. He promises He will never leave or forsake me, and I can be overcome with fear.  Without the Holy Spirit, I would continue to live my live as an orphan. I say I am His child, and daily I turn away from His banquet table and eat scraps. 

Noah, there is only one hope for us. Our God is a faultless father.  He knew us before the foundation of the earth. He was there when we breathed our first breath. He knit us together in our mother's wombs. He knows our thoughts, our fears. He knows exactly how to help us. He does not grow tired, or lose His temper. He loves us so much. He lovingly restores, forgives, and sanctifies us, all with a greater patience than we can imagine.

I am so thankful Noah, that I have you. God has given me a gift.  He has allowed you to show me how much I need Him. Without you Noah, I forget that I am just like you. You have humbled me, crushed some of my pride. I need so much refining and without you, I would have been content without change, and now I see how much my heart needs change, needs to be more and more like Christ. Without you, I would have been stuck. I am so happy that God loves me enough to change me and grow me. I am so thankful that you have given me a real and intimate picture of myself. God gives us what we need. I needed you, and am thankful for that.

I love you,
Love Mommy

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Excuse the Dust

So I really wish I would have taken some computer classes.  I feel like my kids know more about computers than me.  Which is really sad. I just linked up a site that has some of my items I have been making for my craft shows I have been doing. This is a work in progress, so please excuse the lack of information, the links that probably all don't work, the lack of pictures, the lack of just about everything.  But, if all that doesn't bother you, please check out the site. Just click on the pictures of the owls to your right and it will take you to the site. If there is something you would really like and know I have made, but you don't see it, email me. If there is something you see and you don't see the color you want, email me.  If you are a friend, family member, or co-worker of course I will arrange to get the product to you with out any charge (I couldn't figure out shipping options) In short, just email me!

God has allowed us some upcoming money making opportunities, so hopefully they will help chip away at the about $7900.00 we have left to come up with.  Thank you to everyone who has helped support us in these crazy things we have decided to do.  It really means the world to us!

Monday, October 31, 2011

If my life were a line graph

So, it's been a while since I have been able to put my thoughts into writing... whew! 

I have about 5.2 million thoughts that I feel I need to write about, and about 5.2 second to do it all in.

In economics class you learn about graphs, and trends of graphs. If you failed economics, skip to the next paragraph, it will still make sense! These last couple of weeks have been a graph trend of UP. However, amongst those ups, there have been a bunch of downs.  I think actually more ups and more downs in just these little couple of weeks than in the "Year of Craziness" (that is what Kenney and I call 2009.)  Unfortunately I did not journal much during 2009 so I only have my memory...not the greatest.  So if my life were a line graph, this is what it would look like. Notice the end is better than the beginning.  However, there sure are some big "downs" along the way!

This post is to serve my memory when I forget in the future. 

DOWN:  I had to cancel Audrey's birthday party.  She's two.  Really, it's not a big deal. We still sang to her and went out for pizza with some family and the next day had her special pink star shaped ice cream cake with sprinkles and chocolate chips. (Yes, she picked every single one of those items!) But we didn't get to have the party, which really is again no big deal to the kids. Someone once said, the great thing about having lots of kids (or having lots of kids around) is on any given day you can have a party, and you do not need to invite anyone over!  Many days our house is a "party."  It really was me and Kenney who were bummed. We don't have people over to many times a year, and fall is just our favorite over here. We know our schedules hit super duper crazy soon so, rescheduling just isn't an option.

DOWN: In the beginning of October, Kenney's Honey Grams passed away. Those two weeks were challenging. We had to re-learn all about what death and dying means as Christians.  We had to learn again, what the bible teaches about death, and what the world teaches about death. Then we had to teach those truths in as simple and appropriate as possible to our children.  

UP:  Kenney sang with his cousin Bailey an amazing song "Glorious Day" that just reminded us over and over again why we are here, and what it's all about. It was music to our souls that day. It was the gospel. Oh we needed the gospel!

UP:  A friend that I would list in my top 5 of friends, that I talk to maybe once or twice a year called.  (Only after a couple days of my pity party though) She had stopped by and I sent her with some canned goods. She called the next morning, offering to buy (yep, with real money) almost a dozen jars of salsa. Then she stroked my ego and told me how much she loved it!  What a needed uplift.

UP:  And then, as if the uplift wasn't enough.  She had two great craft ideas that she said she could spend a day and help with. I needed that so much, God is so good!

DOWN:  We arrived home from Honey Grams funeral. Our kids are not the traveling, spend time in cars kinda kids. They don't sleep in car rides, and they like to be home. After two days of running around and being dressed up, and being in cars, they were tired and cranky... okay... little demons... to harsh...obnoxious and noisy. 

UP (THE REALLY BIG UP!!!!) The phone rings a little after we just had gotten home.  Kenney answers, passes the phone to me and says, "it's our agency, we just got both LSC's on our kids"  I got really sick... the butterfly in my stomach kinda sick. I take the phone and the woman repeats the exact thing Kenney just said to me. I asked her if she was sure, then I asked her again, she started talking about something... I interrupted and asked her if she was sure again. You see, we were not by the standard timeline supposed to get these LSC's  (which is China officially saying these babies are the Kolanowski's) until at the absolute earliest middle of December. Here it was October 14th, almost two MONTHS early. These babies are coming home. They are ours. They will have a family. It's official (in China.) I can post picture. I can request updates. I can tell the world!!  THEY ARE OURS!!

DOWN (THE REALLY BIG DOWN!!!!) We had planned on traveling sometime in late February, most likely end of March. That means we had about 5 months to raise/come up with/sell some body parts for the remaining money we need to complete the adoptions. (about 14,000 dollars) In the greater scheme of things we have come up with about 35,000 so far, so the amount left is not that much... but for real... 14 grand... THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY!  OH CRAP, that is is the next thought and words that came out of my mouth. We now have only 2-3 months to come up with the money. We could be traveling as soon as after Christmas, but most likely in January. We are scared. Our faith is being tested. 

UP:  I called a friend who is adopting as well to share the news. I shared I was freaked out!  She reminded me the verse in Thessalonians 5:24  "He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."

UP:  Some family from Tennessee stopped over on their way home. They stopped to buy some salsa for our adoption funding, and left more money than they took salsa!  (Either that or the salsa is really that good!)

DOWN:  Still freaking out about how to come up with 14 grand!  I might have been sick this day...

UP:  We have the possibility of borrowing 6 grand from a friend, in the event we don't come up with the money and it's go time.

UP:  My mother in law came over and brought with craft supplies to help me come up with some ideas! She also was sent home with some crafts to complete herself! Thank you God, the help is coming through.

UP:  My sister in law offered to help with some crafts!!  She was sent home with projects to complete.

DOWN:  Tomorrow we leave for Phoenix for a 4 day Together For Adoption conference... I have not packed, planned, looked at the flight, hotel or conference arrangements. The kids are staying at Nana and Papa's.  have nothing put together for them. I have no idea what I need to bring. The house is a disaster. Audrey is not sleeping at all tonight. I am out of night time pull ups for Audrey... it's now about 8pm... I have to do about 100 pages worth of paperwork to file our I-800 that has to be overnight-ed in the morning on the way to the airport. I have no idea how to answer at least half of the questions. Will I ever be prepared for anything? 

UP:  We are on our way to the airport, everything is packed (Kenney and I fit all our things for four days in ONE carry on suitcase) We are ready to travel in China! We know the meaning of packing light! The kids are happy, the house got cleaned (I didn't sleep I think at all, but hey... we can sleep when we're dead right?) We are stopping for a coffee, I have the I-800 completed and mailed, and I am excited about this conference.

DOWN:  I woke up in the middle of the night with back pain like I have never ever had. I am 31. I am NOT supposed to have back pain. I couldn't stand up straight. I had to sleep sitting up. I took more motrin I am sure than my liver could handle. 

UP:  The conference was amazing. We learned so much, the speakers were the best of the best. We got to know the Taylor's (the couple we went to the conference with) like we were long lost friends. We worshipped with some of the best musicians and worship leaders, we spent hours learning till our brains really hurt. We went out for dinner and shared all we had learned. It reminded me what heaven will be like. Hour after hour after hour of worshipping our God, amazing, uplifting, fullfilling. The C.S. Lewis quote " I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."  This weekend reminded me of what that "other world" will be like. It soothed my soul. I have more notes than I took in most of my college classes (maybe that says something about why I didn't finish??)  I have so much to write about and share. I can not wait!

DOWN:  Seriously, my back is killing me!!

UP:  We got home, and I remember how much I missed and love my children!

DOWN:  The initial conversation with family about the conference didn't go so well. It seems I am not very good at communicating my thoughts as I maybe think I am...

DOWN:  Since Audrey was away from Mommy for three nights, we decided no more "mommy milk" would be a good idea after this. (Think what you want, I still nursed her, and loved it, I wouldn't change it EVER) Audrey was NOT HAPPY. She just cried and cried and wanted something I technically could give her, but was telling her no. It wasn't this hard with Tommy, he just decided he didn't want it anymore and that was that. Audrey begs for it, cried for it. It makes me wrestle with my emotions. The more sleep I begin to loose, the more unclear my choices become. I question if this is the right thing? I walked for hours with her trying to comfort her and calm her.  I am sleeping barely at all, and my back is killing me.
DOWN:  I am sleep deprived.  I am cranky.  My emotions are getting the better of me.  My back still hurts. I have a headache. I woke up today with heartburn/indigestion. I couldn't drink coffee because it hurt my stomach. Did I mention I was sleep deprived???  I whine a lot. I need to stop whining. Now I feel bad that I whine too much.  Oh dear God, I need some sleep.

UP:  My mom took Audrey for an hour so she could nap there, and not spend an hour begging me for milk.

And that is my life.  There are about another million things I could have inserted, but that is what I remember as of this point.  Many more ups, many more downs.  Each day holds a bunch of tiny ups and downs. 

Possibly this post says something about my mental state, but nonetheless, that is my reality over here!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

For HIS Glory

I have had an entire week to think and reflect on dying. 

Since Kenney and I have been married, we have attended three funerals of grandparents.  We are closing in on another soon. 

This time, my Tommy is four and a half years old, and the questions he asks about death and dying, are nothing less than poignant. I remember a speech class once, and I remember being told, that to really know material is to be able to teach the material. Tommy's questions have given me the privilege of a test, to remind me what I know about the reality and biblical truths of death, and how well I am able to teach him.

Rewind a couple of months....Tommy comes home from Sunday school with a study sheet each week. The sheet has a bible verse to memorize, a story they heard, and practical applications for parents and children. We try (note I used the word try) to go over the sheet when we get home from church. I noticed on the bottom of his sheets, there are five basic questions the kids are to memorize and have an answer for. Things like, "who created you?", and "what else did God create?" but, the last question I found most interesting...

Why did God create you?

Kenney and I have talked and dwelt upon that statement for a couple of months now.  I am a believer in Christ and His word, I have read the bible, spent many a Sunday's in church, and sadly neither I nor Kenney answered that question accurately.

We knew we are to be followers of Christ, we knew we came to serve others and not ourselves, we knew we were loved by God, we knew we would spend eternity with Him as believers, but the basic, simple, fundamental question.... we just didn't have the basic, simple, fundamental answer to.  How did we miss the boat?  The answer:

Why did God create you, me, us?

For HIS Glory.

That thought has been at the basis of many of my thoughts lately. It is such a fundamental truth, that has changed my perspective greatly on many things. That God's main purpose for our existence is to reflect the glory of Jesus Christ. God gave us life so that with our bodies and minds and hearts we might draw attention to Jesus and make Him look as great as He really is.

That purpose does not change in our death.

For a Christian, eternal life begins when we except Christ as our Savior.  Death is no longer death for those in Christ.

I pulled up a sermon, or article by John Piper, as I often do and found a wonderful truth.

"Therefore the sting of death is gone. Death is no longer the terror that death used to be. Death is now a transition from life to better life,  from faith in Christ, to seeing Christ, from good fellowship with Jesus, to far better fellowship with Jesus, from mixtures of pain and pleasure, to all pleasure, from struggles with sin, to perfect affections for Jesus.  We have passed from death to life."

The apostle Paul says  "it is my eager expectation and hope that Christ will be honored in my body by death. For me to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

How do we glorify Christ in our death?  By treasuring Christ so much, that dying is felt as a gain.

For those of us left here we feel the present loss of a loved one. There are tears and weeping.  But we (believers) do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Through the tears, there is a way to magnify and glorify Christ. When Job heard the news that all ten of his children were dead the bible says, "Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped.  And he said, "Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;  blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1:20-21)

He wept as well as worshipped.

Christ is to be so real, so treasured, that we live and die in a way that shows He is our supreme treasure. He is what matters most to us. My daily struggle, Kenney's daily struggle is to treasure Jesus like that. 

"I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."  Philippians 3:8

We sung this song today in church, and it has such meaning and truth I wanted to post the song, so I can go back and always remember.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Important Days

September 21, 2009 my littlest girl was born. Audrey Grace. She was gonna be a Charlotte, possibly, as that has always been one of our favorite names, along with Audrey. I know that in our Western culture we choose our children's names because we like the way they sound, or sometimes we just don't have a reason other than we just like the name.

We are some of those funny people who look to name our kids both on how the name sounds, but we also really like some meaning and significance to the name. I think about how in most Eastern cultures (including biblical times) names had such a meaning to them. They reminded people of a situation or of God's greatest blessings or miracles for their family.

My Grandmother, my Nanny was named Audrey Jane. She had 18 grand-kids, and double that in great-grand-kids. I did not spend all my weekends growing up with her. She wasn't the grandparent I called when I was in trouble. I didn't have too many in-depth discussions with her. She didn't raise me, and I was not her daughter. But, the things I do today, things I see in my dad, they are from her. She was always active. She volunteered her time for others always. Anyone was always welcome to visit her. You didn't have to call first, her back door was open and you could just pop in. She'd put coffee on, and pull out some type of sweet. Hospitable. She was into re-purposing before the word even existed. She stripped and refinished furniture, collected antiques, was always looking at garage sales for "deals."  She even canned! I think one of the only recipes I have from her is her pickled beets. (Funny how that is my Audrey's FAVORITE!) She was out-spoken, bold, strong, and opinionated, yet was humble and kind. She loved Jesus and served Him. Christmas Eve at Nanny's was wonderful. I think in my top 5 childhood memories ranks "Christmas Eve at my Nanny and Poppy's. 

This is how I remember Christmas. People everywhere, opening presents, having their own conversations,
 but all part of the larger event.

That's my Nanny and Poppy.  I wish I had a picture that captured the magnitude of Christmas decorations at their house.  The amount of Christmas villages was crazy!  They were everywhere, on top of china cabinets, tables, even shelves built on the wall!

My Audrey with her Nanny Audrey.  Our last holiday with Nanny.

 Then, there is another Audrey that Kenney and I loved. Kenney's Aunt Audrey. She was the only Aunt Kenney had that lived close. She helped make my wedding invitations and favors. She quilted. Oh did she quilt. I wish that I had taken the time to learn to quilt, because that is one thing I would LOVE to do and have NO IDEA how to. She passed away long before Audrey Grace was born and I unfortunately did not get to know her well at all.  But I think we would have gotten along great!

So for my little girl Audrey Grace born at 10am in the morning, September 21, 2009.  Her name is special as she is too!

Audrey at 2 years old is already independent and opinionated. She cares about all the other kids. She is the one to make sure if she gets a treat everyone else gets one too.  She is the best hug giver out of all the kids. She is calm and sweet and isn't a cry-baby. 

While I can't make her be the "Audrey's" she was named after, I can tell and show her the stories. Her name allows us to never forget the people in our life that have helped shape who we are.

Mommy, Daddy, Tommy and Noah love you Audrey! We are so happy to have a little girl like you in our family! May God grow you in His ways and make you a child of His!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Things I Don't Say

If you know me well, or are a close family member of mine, you are reading the title and laughing.  You are probably laughing quite hard, because there isn't too much I don't say...

I am a bit loud, up-front, bold, obnoxious, talkative, and passionate, as well as some other things! Those things can be both a blessing, and my downfall.

God tells us to be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3:15)
He tells us to defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless. (Psalm 83:2-4)
He tells us to use our words to speak boldly for His cause. (Acts 4:28-30)

However, God also tells us that reckless words can pierce like swords, but words using wisdom can bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18) God also tells us to watch what we say, and guard our words to keep ourselves out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23) And God also tells us to guard our lips and don't speak rashly. (Psalm 13:3)

OUCH!  Those are some obvious weaknesses of mine, and if you ask Kenney he would so be "amen-ing!"

The last of my seriousness for this post is this: I do not speak kindly enough most importantly to my husband. I do not always tell him the things I appreciate about him. I am thankful for the things he does for me and the family. I am thankful he is willing at 9:30 at night to run to Menards and get more pint jars because I made a bit too much salsa.  I am thankful he enjoys and is appreciative of whatever meal we eat, even if it's just frozen pizza, or a rosemary and bacon stuffed grilled portabella mushroom.  I am thankful he tries.  He pursues being a godly husband and a godly daddy.  He keeps his mouth shut (unlike me) and lets me ramble on about the zillion projects I think I am going to do.  When I say lets (fill in the blank) he doesn't shoot me down or criticize my crazy, irrational ideas!

About two months ago, I had the crazy idea to tear down our pantry, relocate it, add some cabinets or storage as well as a new 8 foot long counter top, basically do a kind of remodel. Oh yeah, pretty much no money in the budget either, so we needed to be resourceful and creative.  Kenney came home to this...

And then, the next day he came home to this...

Yep, all three of them, painting!  For real...painting!  And yep, that is Audrey in her underwear... painting!

Then, I realized I wouldn't have any upper cabinets and needed a space to put my spices.  So I asked Kenney to build me some kind of a spice rack.  Sounds easy enough.  Except... I have over 50 spices, the wall I wanted the rack on is a pocket door wall, so no studs, and I wanted it to match my cabinets.  By the way, Kenney does insurance not carpentry!  And yet, through all of this, he wasn't mad at me, no harsh words, no anger (okay most of the time) and he built me a spice rack!

It hangs from the rafters, so no need for support on the wall, and it matches the rest of the kitchen!  And yes, I. Use. Every. Single. Spice. (so much so, that I usually refill them all at least 2x a year)


So this is for Kenney, for the things I don't say!

And this is for Kenney... if he can build me a great spice rack, what do you think about this in his future?

I love it! Four boys in our future?  Ya never know!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Picture With No Name? A Name With No Picture?

I wanted to give a bit of an update as to where we are in the adoption process. In short - WAITING! We have our Pre-Approval (PA). We have sent our completed dossier to China (DTC). We've paid most all of our agency fees (big chunk #1 of the costs, two more big chunks to go.)

So now, we just wait to receive our "lock in date", which is the official date they have done a basic review and put you in official line to wait some more (LID). Then we wait for our confirmation they have approved our dossier and the kids are "really officially" approved (LSC).  This process is somewhere between 3-6 months...yuck!  After that it is some more paperwork, money, approvals, travel etc.

In the mean time we have 3-6 months to prepare, focus our hearts, focus our parenting, fundraising, praying for our children, and waiting.



In the mean time, I thought I'd put a little "sneak peak" of our children up.  There is this rule however, that we can not post both their names (English and Chinese) along with their pictures, or vice-versa.  The big question then is should I post their names or their pictures... of course their pictures!

Psalm 130:5  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word, I hope.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Meeting Expectations

Ever feel like you get NOTHING done? Ever feel like the house and yard have declared war against you? Do you hear comments from others like "When are you going to finish______?" It's so easy, way to easy to look around my house and my yard and see TONS of unfinished projects. I have created actual lists, and mental lists of things that I think need to be done. 

It's discouraging.... some days my house looks like this...

no should see my toilets!

And then there are the days the kids, oh the kids.... they look like this...

mud puddles, they migrate to mud puddles!

But why is it I find myself focusing so much on what doesn't get done, what I don't have, and what I don't do? I find myself so quick to compare myself to what other people do or have. I find I wish I worked, had extra money like others, went out to fancy dinners or concerts, went on cruises with Kenney, had nicer cars, a bigger, nicer and newer house, and the list goes on...

We have made the choice to adopt (and spend lots of money doing so) and to pay down debt, in doing so the lifestyle we live is drastically different than most in America. It's hard to be different sometimes, it's hard when most others don't "get it." 

Simply put, God wants me to be content RIGHT WHERE I AM! (Philippians 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:5)

con-tent (kuhn-tent) adjective  1. satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else

Secondly, God wants me to live for HIS glory, NOT mine. (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:4-8)

A new house, new car, expensive vacations, nice restaurants, movies, concerts, clean perfect house, clean perfect yard; they are not requirements for my life to glorify Christ.  Mostly (note I said mostly) those things allow me to put the focus on me and my life, not giving room for glorifying Christ and showing what He has done for me.

My prayer, Lord, is to be content. I need to allow you to work in my life. Help me take the focus off of me. Help me be content with ALL that you have done and given me. Teach me what is important in life. Teach me to love You above all else. Teach me to prioritize my life based on Your priorities not my own. Teach me to meet Your expectations not my own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adoption and Money - part 4

Finally, I finally have my thoughts together regarding adoption and money, and now I can be done! Whew! I am so ready to write about things like Noah falling flat on his face and nearly sending us to an emergency dentist.  It is only by the grace of God we haven't ended up in an emergency room yet!

Yep, I took a picture.  If Noah has kids of his own, and he calls to tell me how they nearly give him heart-attacks every single day, and then I tell him he did the same for me, and then he proceeds to tell me "he wasn't that bad"... (which I am sure he will) I will just pull out the pictures. Case closed.

I digress. 

"I can't adopt because I can't afford to" or, "I don't think you should adopt because you can't afford to...."

I really only have one thought on this subject, and I just want to put it out there. Again, I am stealing from John Piper...

We adopt a child not for our own glory but for God’s glory.
God adopted us for the praise of the glory of his grace. Therefore we adopt for the praise of the glory of his grace. The questions you ask as you ponder adopting a child who needs a family are not first questions of feasibility or affordability. The questions you ask first are: Is my heart fixed on glorifying the grace of God? Is my aim in this to make the grace of God look glorious? Is Christ the center and goal of this decision? Are all the factors being weighed in relation to Christ? We adopt a child not for our own glory but for the glory of God’s grace.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adoption and Money - part 3

Why should I support someone who is adopting?

It's a Wednesday evening and I am home alone. That. Never. Happens.  I so should be doing something else, but instead I am writing my thoughts! Yep, I am crazy!

The subject of "why we should support adoption" is a sticky one.  There are a lot of thoughts Kenney and I have on this, so it's been really hard to compile my thoughts into one. I think I'll follow the K.I.S.S method here...I will try to keep it simple.
If you haven't read Why Does Adoption Cost So Much? then you need to. Before you can really understand the scope of this, you have to understand the Gospel of Adoption. The very heart of the gospel is God's passion to not only redeem sinners, but to adopt them as His sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1: 4-5) Assuming we are on the same page then, I'll continue.

Point 1:  As Christians we should support our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

As believers in Christ, we share everything we have with each other.

Point 2: I should be passionate about what God is passionate about.

Verse after verse, God shows His compassion for the fatherless and His love for the orphan.

Psalm 68:6  ... He sets the lonely in families...
Exodus 22:22 ... you must not exploit a widow or an orphan...
Deuteronomy 10:18 ... He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice...
Psalm 10:14 ... You defend the orphans...
Psalm 82:3 ...give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute...
Psalm 146:9 ... He cares for orphans and widows...
Isiah 1:17 ... defend the cause of orphans...
James 1:27 ...pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans...

There are more verses, but I think you get the point.  GOD CARES about orphans.  SO WE SHOULD CARE about orphans.

How we choose to "care" is at our discretion.  It could mean adoption, or financially supporting women's programs, orphanages, or an adopting couple.  It could be volunteering our time for, fostering, donating, and much more. 

Everyone has things they fight for, they are passionate about, or that they support, but I think the real point is adoption is not just something I am passionate about, but God is.

Point 3 :  Asking for help is hard for me.

Okay, so that has nothing to do with supporting adoption, but it does have to do with me, and this is my blog! I remember when I was in grade school and we had Jump Rope For Heart. We had to have sponsors to support us, and I nearly had a panic attack going to people to ask them to support me to jump rope for the American Heart Association.  It was so hard for me, that I actually made my little sister (yes, I am the oldest, and we can do that) go door to door for me, selling, because I didn't want to do it.  In the eighth grade to earn money to go to Washington D.C. we had to sell candy bars. I am pretty sure I spent nearly all of my babysitting money on the chocolate just so I wouldn't have to ask people to buy a candy bar. Don't ask what I did with the chocolate...

Obviously there are some issues of humility and pride going on here in me, but know that to become vulnerable, to ask for help, to be needy and put ourselves out there is hard.  Kenney and I have made sacrifices to be able to adopt these babies.  We've cancelled our cable. We drive crappy paid for cars. My grocery budget is 250 dollars a month. I cut the families hair. There are barely any dinners out or concerts or movies.  The point is NOT to make ourselves martyrs, but to point out that even with our own sacrifices we will still need the help of our friends, family, co-workers and most importantly our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To tell you that we don't have it all together, to tell you we don't have a designer home or car, to tell you we can't afford to do certain things has been and is quite the humbling experience.  To tell you parenting our three kids isn't easy, to tell you some days I have no idea how I am going to parent two more, to tell you our life isn't perfect is humbling.

Praise God that He is glorified in our humility. Praise God that through our weaknesses we can see God's glory!

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up.

I stand in awe to know that God is graciously involved in our adoptions.  He has done it himself.  He knows what it costs.  And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end!

Friday, August 5, 2011

One Hundred Good Wishes Fundraising

I wanted to put a couple of details regarding our "100 Good Wishes" Fundraiser out there.

To welcome and celebrate a new life, there is a tradition in the northern part of China to make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt.  Which by the way is where our little girl Isabelle is from. It is a custom to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth can go into a creative memory notebook with the wish for the child. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation.

The idea of this fundraiser is quite similar.  Our friends and family can click on a square of our "100 Good Wishes Quilt.  From that square, a picture of yourself or any photo can be uploaded, as well as a good wish or prayer to our newest babies.  Once the squares are all filled, we will be able to get a large print out of all the pictures and good wishes that we can then frame for our children. 

We thought this was a simple and easy fundraising idea.  Both Tommy and Audrey have baby pictures, and special pregnancy pictures that neither of these children will have.  This is an opportunity for us to show our children that no matter the "birth" situation they are loved by many!!  It will be a special keepsake for them forever!

For us, anyone who clicks on the square can donate any dollar amount to help raise money to fund these adoptions.  We are specifically looking to raise the orphanage fee (which is $5,000.)  You can choose to donate as little as a dollar or whatever amount you'd like.  You can also keep the donation private if you choose.  The other nice thing with this fundraiser is payment is through a credit/debit or check.  Which most fundraising opportunities are cash only.

I would really like to encourage our closet friends and family especially, to just click on a square, upload a picture, give a good wish, and donate a dollar (I'd say donate nothing, but the website has to have a dollar amount.)

We would really love to fill all the squares and let our children know they were loved and prayed for even before they came into our lives.  It would be very special to us to have our friends and families support, even if there is no monetary contribution, so please, this fundraiser to us, isn't about fundraising really, but about showing our children the love that we have for them!  All you have to do is click on the 100 Good Wishes icon on the top left side of the blog page, the rest is pretty simple!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Adoption and Money - part 2

Is adoption expensive? YES. When we first decided to adopt and we looked at the costs, the real costs (not just what google said, but what actual agencies said) we had a little bit of that sick feeling. The three different agencies we contacted to adopt from Russia were telling us around 40-50K. China this time for our two kids probably around the 45-50K range. Most all international adoptions are going to cost anywhere from 25-50K. Do some tell you less, sure. These costs vary greatly depending on the country and the agency, however the low end of the range (25K) is still pretty pricey!

But for the purpose of this series, the exact amount is not important. Just the fact that (outside of the domestic world of adoption, which I can tell you I know not much about at all) adopting is expensive is what matters.

There is a bit of a myth in the international circle that says everyone is trying to make money from your adoptions. Honestly though, even if it is true, I just don't see it.

Following is a bit of a breakdown of the costs. The information is gathered from our personal experience, as well as multiple adoption agencies. I know there are probably others who have spent much much more, or much much less, but again, this is just a generalization to give people an idea.

1.  Homestudy Fee - $1,500-$4,000  The homestudy is the huge report an agency and or social worker completes. This study is what determines your suitability to adopt and parent a child. In this study, fingerprinting through child abuse registries have to be done, at both the state and federal levels usually, someone has to physically meet with you and your family 1-4 times. An actual agency has to be run - a building to maintain, employees to pay, Internet or yellow page information, pay gas and electric etc etc....

2.  Your Agency Contract Costs - $5,000 - $15,000  Your agency is who does EVERYTHING, they prepare the paperwork, they have the relationships internationally, they have to translate every single piece of paper, they again have buildings to operate, employees to pay, and usually have offices both in the states, and abroad. They (ours does) have escorts while you are traveling, interpreters, arranged transportation to pay for etc etc

3.  United States Dept of Homeland Security - $670 + $80 for each additional adult member in your house. This is the united states saying we can bring home a child, and make them a US citizen. Again, people to go over your paperwork, make sure you are suitable parents, make sure you are bringing kids home for the right reasons (hey, there are a lot of terrible things that go on involving child trafficking, sex slaves, etc)

4.  The Adoption Donation - $5,000 - $25,000 - for Russia ours was $21,000 and for China it will be $5100 for each child. This is the money that goes directly to the orphanage your child came from. In America we have Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid etc. Most of these countries do not. The money to take care of these children and operate an orphanage comes directly (mostly) through independent funding. Every time someone adopts that money goes for food, clothes, medicine, doctors, staff etc etc etc

5.  Legal Fees -   $1600 - $3000 Obviously to adopt a child, things need to happen on a legal level. Lawyers, court, all the legal documents involved.

6.  International Airfare $1000- $2000 per adult per flight-  Need I say more?  Russia was four trips for two adults (nearly $16,000 total) China will be one trip probably around $4000 total. Don't forget the flight for the kids home too.

7.  International Travel $2000 - $5000 per person depending on length of stay. This would be your food, your hotel, your in country travel, etc. Anyone ever taken 2-3 weeks of an International Vacation???

And there you have it!!! No one is really getting rich here. Are there things that could make adoption cheaper? Sure, like less travel, less time possibly, but the reality is, it is what it is! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adoption and Money - part 1

Yep, sorry for the boring title!

The topic of adoption and money go hand in hand, just like tomatoes and basil (it's summer people, I'm in the garden, what did you expect?)

There is so much information and so many questions regarding this topic. I'd like to take this information and put it into a four part series. 

Why does Adoption cost so much? 

What does it really cost to adopt and why?

Why should I support someone who is adopting?

I can't adopt because I can't afford to.

Why does Adoption cost so much? Most people would read this and think I was going to detail out all the work involved in adoptions like the agency costs, travel and international fees. Don't worry, that is for the next post! 

There is an aspect to the high cost involved in adoptions that both Kenney and I did not really look at until recently. It's probably one of the most overlooked aspects, but most important.The cost of OUR adoption into God's family.

John Piper has a wonderful sermon that lays out eight similarities to God adopting us, and us adopting children. I've copied one reason below, however if you'd like to read the entire sermon you can click here. (I would encourage you to read this it is AWESOME!)

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13).
It cost God the price of his Son’s life.
There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about embracing this cost for the life of a child!
Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem (our church). It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts.  Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We are ALL designed...

Kenney and I get LOTS of questions regarding adopting. I have found this time the questions are bigger. Maybe its because we already have three children. Maybe it's because we have already adopted once. Maybe it's the money, or maybe its the fact we are adopting two children. Amazingly though, the big questions come when people find out we are adopting children with "special needs."

What are "special needs"? The Webster's dictionary adoption answer is:  a problem, usually medical, that a child has, that prevents him or her from being adopted as a healthy normal child. Special needs can be ANYTHING. Children who are blind, deaf, have HIV/AIDS, missing limbs, sexual ambiguity, heart problems, and downs syndrome, would be considered some of the more serious issues. Then there is the list of problems that are "correctable." Things like cleft lip/cleft palate and clubbed feet. Even more sadly are the children who are over the age of 3, as they are no longer considered "desirable."

I have a special place in my heart for these kiddos.  I do not know why.  I know God must have put that there.

I look at websites like Rainbow Kids and my heart breaks. These are photo listings of children that desperately need mommies and daddies. These children are the un-desirable of the un-desirable. They are the children never chosen, or chosen last. When parents fill out paperwork to adopt, these are the children no one chooses. They can not be adopted unless someone specifically requests their needs, their problems, their issues. They wait, usually to never be chosen.

The number of orphans in the world is staggering. 147 million. Stop. Read that number again. 147 million. Ouch. For me, that number stings a bit, it hits me at my core, and makes me feel a little queasy. It bothers me. 147 million kiddos, with no one to tuck them in, kiss their foreheads, and tell them mommy and daddy will always love you.  Who teaches them to love? Who teaches them about Jesus? Who teaches them about forgiveness?   Do you know how many of them get adopted each year? In the USA, about 120,000. That's it. The United States leads the way in adoptions, if the other 5 continents adopted the same amount as us, (which they don't) do you realize that yearly not even a half a percent of these children are adopted?? Millions and millions of children are left alone.

The subject of orphan care and adoption specifically is not the point of my thoughts, so in an effort to prevent myself from running all over the place with my thoughts, I will save those specific topics for another time. My thoughts tonight are surrounding special needs.

If you are an orphan your chance of being adopted is slim to none, and if you are an orphan labeled as "special needs" the chance is almost non-existent.

My little China girl...she doesn't get to be adopted because she can't walk, because she is deformed? No one loves her like a mommy and daddy because she is physically broken? Other little girls get to go home to mommies and daddies, but she doesn't? All because her body is not perfect?

ALL children are made in the image of God. They are image bearers, each specifically designed to glorify God. God loves them. Shouldn't we?

James 1:27, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. That applies to the orphans with special needs too.

Oh, I could ramble. Lord knows I could keep on going. I could keep on writing about verse after verse where God loves ALL of his children, ALL of his creation EQUALLY. No matter our disability, we are LOVED. We are LOVED by God. Verse after verse about God using our weaknesses, using our disabilities to bring glory to His kingdom. Verse after verse about advocating for the helpless, advocating for the weak, instructions to care for the least of these.

The babies God chose for us to bring home have disabilities. They are weak. God will use them to glorify and grow his kingdom. This I am sure of. We will love them, just as we love Tommy, Noah and Audrey. We realize the challenges we will have. We are very aware of the daily struggles we will incur. We are scared. We know though that our fear is unfounded, because our God, my God has chosen us and has told us to fear not.  

Isaiah 41:9-10
You whom I took from the ends of the earth,
   and called from its farthest corners,
Saying to you, "You are my servant,
   I have chosen you and not cast you off";
Fear not, for I am with you;
   be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The List

Quite often when people find out we adopted, one of the comments I hear is "He is so lucky to have parents like you and finally be home."

I'll tell you, honestly, the comment has never sat well with me. I never know how to respond. I think first, luck has nothing to do with anything. I then think humbly, we are not the greatest parents. Then, a myriad of other thoughts run through my mind. However, the response I usually give is just a smile. I still don't know how to respond. I did however find an interesting exercise a social worker made his pre-adoptive parents go through. I think it helps puts things in a bit of perspective...

First, write down the name of the most significant person in your life.
     1. Kenney

Write down your most important role.
     2. Wife

Now, write down your greatest support group.
     3. Family

Write down your heritage.
     4. American?

Next, write the word "knowledge."  This represents the information that gets you through the everyday tasks of your day.
     5. Knowledge

Then, write down your favorite place.
     6. Home

Now, write down "Cultural Information."  This represents everything you know about your culture.
     7. Cultural Information

Now, write down "Resources."  This represents all your material possessions, everything you own that has worth.
     8. Resources

Next, write down "Values." This represents your faith, concepts of right and wrong, priorities, likes and dislikes...
     9. Values

Last, write down the activity that brings you the most joy.
     10. Spending alone time with Kenney and the kids

Now, which four things on this list could you live without? Mark through them now.

1. Kenney
2. Wife
3. Family
4. American?
5. Knowledge
6. Home
7. Cultural Information
8. Resources
9. Values
10. Spending alone time with Kenney and the kids

Now, give up two more.

1. Kenney
2. Wife
3. Family
4. American?
5. Knowledge
6. Home
7. Cultural Information
8. Resources
9. Values
10. Spending alone time with Kenney and the kids

Now, go ahead and give up two more.

I couldn't.  I couldn't imagine life with any less than this.  To give up my faith, my Kenney, my role as a wife and mother, I just can't.

I teared up a little.  I was surprised at the deep sadness that gripped me.  Beyond empathy.  Beyond compassion. I think it was mourning.

I mourned all that the children I don't yet know will give up to become my children. 

Children go through a loss to get to their forever families. Adoption is about a loss, a loss that is painful and not beautiful. The place where adoption begins is ugly.

The good news is, adoption ends well. Children have mommies and daddies. They have more than their basic needs met. They will have someone to unconditionally love them. 

I know where I was before Christ adopted me. I know these children are in places we can not imagine before someone adopts them. I know it was not easy (and still I struggle) to let go of my old self. I know it won't be easy for my children to forget the pain in their past.  I do know for certain, that Christ alone can heal any and all wounds. I praise God for healing me, and I praise Him for the painful, yet sweet beauty of adopting me. I pray for healing in my children. I pray they know the pain of their past is gone. We love them. We always will. God loves them. He always has.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Exactly Three Years Ago

I have no idea what prompted us. I can not remember what I was doing or where I was. Our son Tommy was a little over a year old. I babysat my niece Corrine during the week.

Yes, Tommy is holding a bra...don't ask...

Tommy only woke up a couple of times during the night. I had planted my first "real" garden that summer. My life was starting to become less crazy (anyone who knows us, knows my little Tommy was not the easiest baby... he would rank in top five of worst babies ever!!!) I do not remember doing internet searches. I do not remember really anything about the exact beginning. I do know that we filled out a contract with European Adoption Agency in July of 2008. That is where it began.

Before Kenney and I were married, I had mentioned something about adopting one day, just because it seemed like a good thing to do. Kenney said okay, and the conversation was over.

We just assumed that when we were "all done" having biological kids, we would then adopt.  I remember one day asking Kenney what he thought about adopting now.
Little did I know that God was speaking to our hearts and we didn't even realize it. We didn't know that God already had a little boy planned for our family. We didn't know he already existed. We didn't realize that God had a plan, a plan a bit different than ours.
Kenney likes plans. Kenney is a planner. He keeps plans. He makes plans. One thing he doesn't like to do is CHANGE plans. I remember him asking me why I wanted to change our plan. I remember telling him, that it isn't good to be so set on our own plans, and maybe God had a different plan. I know a couple weeks went by, and during that time I lovingly, okay maybe that is not true, I guess I just pushed the "adopt now" idea. (I recomend the lovingly way though, it works better!) One day Kenney just agreed.

Kenney researched adoption agencies and we talked about what kind of adoption, and where we would adopt from. Adopting a baby seemed logical because we were used to having two babies around. Russia just seemed to be the place God put on our hearts. The ratio of boys to girls in Russia was 7 to 1, so a boy seemed logical. The idea of children in orphanages bothered us, and we felt that is where God was sending us.

We just jumped in. I know we did not really talk about adopting with anyone else. We did our homestudy, initial paperwork, completed a dossier, all while keeping it between us. It was special for us. God used that time to bring us closer. We talked about all kinds of things together, that maybe if the world knew, we would not have talked about. We just might have been consumed with everyone else and their questions and thoughts, that we just might not have had the opportunity to talk between us. We talked about poverty, Russia, birth control, abortion, orphanages, foster care, orphans all over the world and much, much more. We had real conversations about big important issues, and it was between us. It was special. I do not recommend NOT talking about things to others, but for us, it was special, it was something that was just ours and no one elses. It was God's plan for US.

There was no scripture verse or sermon at church that promoted us to adopt. We got pregnant with Tommy before actually "trying". We had no fertility concerns. I had not had a miscarriage (which I did have one in September of that year, however our decision to adopt had been made long before the miscarriage occurred.) Our God can choose to motivate us however He wants. We were and are no one extraordinary. We weren't "super christians." We didn't lead a bible study, or volunteer every week at the food pantry. We had arguments and fights between us. We didn't parent Tommy perfectly. My point is this, sometimes, you just hear God speaking to you. Sometimes it is in no special place, at no special time. It's just when God wants to speak to you.  Our plan was not to adopt till years later, we would have never come up with adopting at that moment in time on our own.

Kenney and I agreed on one thing though.  That when God speaks.... you listen. 

Proverbs 3:5-7 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

1Samuel 12:14-15
If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.