Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Boy, One Picture and One God (part 2 of 2)

That's the picture that we all looked at.  This family fell in love with the cutest fuzzy haired boy. 

But, the events that have led up to where we are today, are nothing short of a miracle.  And we are overjoyed and forever changed to be a part of it.

We requested Caleb's file, however it was unavailable at the time, as another family was looking into adopting him, so we started looking at other children.  We found Isabell, locked in her file and started to proceed with the adoption.

Caleb's file was available again.  The family didn't proceed.

We decided to adopt two.

Only weeks before we were getting ready to leave for China, I just so happened to decide to look up the weather for Zhengzhou (where he is from) and got somehow re-routed to a yahoo group, found where he lived (in an awesome group home, not the local orphanage) found the director of the home, and within hours was on the phone with her.

If you don't know this story, feel free to catch up here.

She then gives me the information of a woman from the states, who just so happens to be doing an internship there, gives me her facebook info, we become friends, and start talking.

We hoped to somehow find time while in China to possibly meet up, and planned for a Tuesday.

Things happened, she couldn't get off of work due to a child dying. (if after reading that statement you don't want to cry, read it again)  She suggested maybe we meet on Wednesday, however we already had plans with our agency for that Wednesday.

While in China, originally our agency has planned on us seeing the local orphanage of the city where Caleb was from, however, something fell through the loops and we were unable to go.

Our guide/translator who is pretty much with us at all times, suggested we see a museum or something, so we planned on doing that with her.  But for whatever reason, last minute, decided it would be better to visit with the lady who took care of our son for the last 6 months.

Next thing we know, we are here.

And spending time with these kids:

We asked about each child.  Asked about their health and special needs.  Asked if anyone had inquired about them.  We asked lots and lots of questions. 

One little girl stood out, she looked tired and was quiet.  She spent much of her time in the corner away from almost everyone else, except when the kids got together to sing songs.  She loved to sing songs.  No one had inquired about her.  She had an untreated heart condition, that if NOT treated we were told she would die.  We were told, it should have already been treated, but she is an orphan, and the cost and the care in China is insurmountable.  So there she sat.  Dying.  No mommy to tuck her in and sing her songs.  Dying.  No daddy to tell her she is loved and adored. Dying.

Kenney and I spent the rest of the entire day talking about her and her friend (next to her in the above picture) We already had Caleb, and we would be picking up Isabell soon, and two is the limit for adopting at one time within a year or two period. We wondered if somehow we could go back and get her.  We knew in our hearts it wasn't an option.  But, she was dying.  I held her.  I was there.  She wasn't just a name or a face.  She was real.  I thought about how precious she is to our Heavenly Father.  I thought about my own children.  How much I loved them and held them and cared for them. I wondered if she would grow up and know the name of Jesus.  I wondered if she would even grow up.  My heart just hurt so miserably.  I was past crying and tears.  There was just a burden and an ache that wouldn't go away. 

I didn't know what to do.

We laid down for bed that night and we couldn't sleep. We just prayed over and over again the same prayer. "God, what can we do?"  "Is there even anything we can do?"

It seemed there was no answer, no solution, no way to help.

So, in an act of desperation.  Because I wanted someone to tell me I wasn't alone.  Because I wanted someone to tell me that there was someone who understood the pain my heart felt.  I posted her picture on facebook, to share with my friends that this little girl without a mommy and daddy, will die, and that makes my heart hurt.

And from the other side of the world someone saw her picture.  Our friends the Carr's read the words and felt God calling them.  In the words of Eva "that's what the message said {if she doesn't get a mommy and daddy she's going to die} plain and simple...and impossible to ignore."

Their story is not our story, but our little boy will forever be a part of their story, of the story HE is writing for all of us.  Their story includes God moving mountains, of them bringing home not only the little girl our heart was burdened for, but her best friend.  Their story IS grace. Read their story here and be amazed at our God!

Many, many thoughts fill my mind and heart about this little girl.

The love our Father has for her.  How He has held her and cared for her in every single detail. In us choosing Caleb, in randomly finding the yahoo group, in finding the director of her home, in finding the caretaker, in arranging for us to meet and see the home, in all the prayers, in getting her paperwork ready at exactly the moment the Carr's were ready for her, and then all the details in the Carr's story.... moving to Iowa, finding a heart specialist, meeting Chinese speaking friends, oh my heart just bursts at all the details.  Every single detail, perfect. A delicate balance, as if any one of the details failed or didn't work, the entire story would be lost.  But our God, He is in the details.  He worked every little thing out for this precious child to have a mommy and daddy.

But, one thought to me stands out.  One thing, I have thought about almost every day for the last six months.

What if that picture never got posted?

While I 100% believe in a sovereign God.  That He knows everything.  Every thought before I think it.  Every person before they are formed.  He knows tomorrow and the next and the next.  There is nothing God doesn't know.  Nothing that surprises Him.  He is all powerful, omnipotent, and perfect.

But, we have free will, and always have a choice. (note, that would be a dad-ism, you have a choice, you always have a choice.)

There is a lesson here for me.  A lesson to be reminded that God can use anyone and anything, no matter how small.  So many times I move through life doing nothing.  I pass the man holding a sign on US-30.  I ignore the people who are looking to me for a friend.  I pass sign up sheets at church for help in the nursery. I spend more money on myself instead of using it to advance God's kingdom. I read articles about kids in foster care. I read articles about how hard it is to be a single mom.  I read about those who will go to bed with no food for dinner.  I think about it, it makes me sad, and then I do nothing.  Mostly, I do nothing though, because anything seems impossible.  I can't be a foster mom, I already have children that I am working through problems with, therefore, I do nothing.  The man holding the sign - I have no cash to give him, therefore I do nothing. On and on it goes.... doing nothing, all because something seems too big and too impossible. 

All along though, it's my heart that Jesus wants.  So whether I am the family adopting a sweet child who needs a mommy and daddy, or I am the family putting a picture of her on facebook.  It's my heart HE is looking at.

Something doesn't have to be big.  It can just be a picture on facebook.  It's God who does any and every good thing.  He just wants my heart, a heart open to something.

Monday, August 27, 2012

One Boy... (part 1 of 2)

There has been so much to learn and change these last 6 months.  Much of our parenting has had to change, again.  Learning how to best parent a little girl who isn't yet quite thrilled with the idea of a "new mommy" has been challenging.  Learning how to go places with 2 kids that need to be held, and one who can't walk has taken some time to iron out the kinks.  Learning to adapt to a little girl who is handicapped has taken some time.  Figuring out sleeping arrangements, eating arrangements, language barriers, therapy, doctor appointments, research, etc- has taken some time.

Most interesting though is the fact that we brought home TWO kiddos in March of this year...

What about Caleb???

He just fits in. 

Six months home and I may still be in the honeymoon period, or I might have just ruined it all by typing those words, but... he just fits in!
He hugs and kisses and loves to be held, but he loves to run around and wrestle and play cars and build forts with the couch cushions.

He loves to eat.  He makes meal time a joy. He eats WHATEVER we put on his plate (with the exception of some fruit.)  He sleeps through the night, he takes awesome naps, he loves baths and swimming, whatever we do, he'll do it too!  When we go places, so long as it's not past his bedtime, and mommy and/or daddy are in sight, he is just happy!  And, if he is having a normal two year old "fit" he doesn't bang his head, or throw his body anymore, no screaming, or hitting, he just puts the cutest scowl on his face, narrows his eyes (so we think he is sleeping) sticks out his lower lip and lets us know he is angry. 

Both Isabell and Caleb sit with us in church.  Mommy is assigned to Caleb, and while he is two, he is the only two year old I've ever had that actually makes it through an entire (that is almost an hour and a half people) service.  When we sing, he loves to squeeze my cheeks and watch my mouth move and randomly plant kisses on me. He spins my diamond on my wedding rings from the front of my finger to the back and then around again.  He plays like he is putting on my makeup, draws smiley faces all over, and eats enough snacks for the entire congregation.



He is just a happy kid.  He shows affection.  He is appropriately afraid of strangers.

Best of all though is how much the other kids love him.  It melts my heart.  Tommy repeatedly says "mommy, I just love his skin, its so perfect", "mommy, isn't he just the cutest kid ever?" He loves to hug him and love on him and wrestle.

Audrey takes Caleb's hand anytime we are going down stairs, at the park, or in a parking lot- to make sure he stays with the group. 

Noah has assumed the "big brother"role, most of the time, and makes sure he is safe and cared for, that he doesn't put toys in his mouth or fall off the couch.

This little boy is such a blessing to our family.

But, this little boy is part of an even bigger picture, a picture of God's power, God's sovereignty and most importantly God's grace.  One child has changed not just this family, not just the people who know us, but an entire other family - which shows me time and time again, God can use whomever He wants whenever He wants....

Part 1 of 2

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I wake up.

I am tired, and no amount of coffee helps.

I've been up, adjusting braces, comforting, trying to help an uncomfortable child.  I've been up, getting juice for another one, praying, staring at the ceiling, staring at the mess around me.

I need to schedule an appointment with the dentist.  But I have appointments with an ENT, a hand specialist, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, the Orthopaedic Specialist, Speech Therapy.... who will watch the kids?  How will Kenney get home in time for all of that?  How can I possibly fit in the dentist?  But, Motrin isn't helping anymore.

And the worry starts to set in. 

I am hungry, but the kitchen hangs in a delicate balance of mess, one more thing out of place, one more thing not cleaned, just might cause pure disaster.  So, I opt for coffee- again.

With worry already in my heart, the thoughts start to spin.

I need to seed the areas in the yard that we had work done
The garden needs picking
I have paperwork to do
Bills to pay
The dust is so thick Tommy really did write his name on it
Bathrooms, disgusting
I need curriculum for Tommy
things to occupy the others while I work with Tommy
Projects not yet complete in my room
the basement
a shower
kids need baths
the dog needs a bath
what about a date with my husband
what about time to relax
time for friends

Someone stop me.... and I find my devotional and Bible and sit down to read.

The first words of the devotional

"Trust ME in the midst of a messy day."

The tears start to fall.

" Your Peace in MY presence need not be shaken by what is going on around you. Though you live in this temporal world, your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity."

"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. - Psalm 139:1-4"

The words of a song fill my heart, and I find myself sobbing.

The words:

Like the sky before the dawn

While the night is holding on
Sun and moon together in the gray
So my soul is shared by two

The worst of me and the best of you

Savior and sinner mingled in my veins

And I pray you’ll end this twilight

I’m torn inside my soul tonight

The dawning day and the dying night
 Oh rid my soul of twilight

Good I love, but evil’s done
Good intentions come undone

Good to know I know the one who saves me from myself

Oh Lord paint my heart a solid hue

The shade of you

Oh lord break this dreadful in between inside of me

Oh let it be morning

I know the sun is coming up, oh the sun is coming up, yes the sun is coming up

The kids are stirring, the dogs need to go out, the day needs to get started, and I have become the righteousness of God.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21"

Jesus is mine. My list, my tiredness, my coffee addiction, sometimes- it just doesn't matter.  My sin is gone, and I will stand righteous before my Savior.

The sun IS coming up. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Full Serving of Summer and a Side of a Happy Heart

It's August, the last month of summer - (cause no one considers September part of summer.) I've looked over my last couple of posts and got to thinking, that if in 20 years I looked back over this time in my life I would think to myself that things were a bit crazy and hard and rough and just plain yucky.  Which is of course all very true some days, and sometimes, but- not all days and all times!  So, this is for myself and family and future grown up kids and future grand kids and future anyone, to remind me this summer has been good to us!

So warning, if you aren't me, and are reading this you WILL be bored. 

Don't say I didn't warn you. So, grab yourself a cup of coffee!

We swam.  Which reminds me of how far we've come.  My Noah H.A.T.E.D water when he came home to us.  No pools, bathtubs, sinks, puddles, you name it, he nearly had a grand mal seizure when even brought close to water, and now... the kid is a fish! Huge blessing Nana and Papa live around the corner, and have a pool... that is the best kind of pool!

We planted the most beautiful garden ever!  We had help with weed pulling (thanks to our friends the Taylor's) and it has been awesome!  Potatoes, TONS of tomatoes, cucumbers, every possible pepper, green beans, purple beans, wax beans, all kinds of carrots, every possible herb, eggplant, asparagus, rhubarb, onions, zucchini, snow peas, kale, and new for this year - cut flowers!  The garden has never looked so wonderful!  I went into this year knowing I'd not have time to keep up with the weeds, but having friends help take care of it, well, what an answer to prayers!

We had family friends come in from Florida and were able to sneak away to the beach!  Thank God for parents who live around the corner and can watch the kids so we get to sneak out for just a bit!

What a good week we had!  We didn't clean a thing, or do laundry, or even do the dishes (amen for paper plates!)  We stayed up way past our bed times like we were 20 again (hey wait, they are!!) after the kids went to bed we chatted about all kinds of fun things, kids, adoption, Jesus, kids, the garden, Indiana, jobs, Christianity, adoption, parenting, marriage, cigars, craft beers, creation, cooking, vacations, you name it!  What a blessing and breath of fresh air it was to have people who share so many of the same loves we do.

We made it to the zoo with everyone!

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the zoo membership.  It would for sure NOT be affordable to take the family.

Last minute we had an awesome friend of ours have an opening for pictures and on the busiest week in the history of our lives (so far) we ran out, mismatched and crazy looking to have our first official family pictures

Thanks Jenn, for the bestest, most wonderful, most true to life pictures we could ever have had taken by anyone!

Then there was our super fun trip to US Cellular Field (aka Comisky Park) in which we had the complete private tour, and the kids played in the bullpens and dugouts and pretended to be announcers and all that fun stuff!

Thanks Taylor family, for including us in your fun times!  Also, had to say thanks to Blue Cross (hence the picture) for a great job for my hubby.

I finally was able to complete the redo of our most messy hodge-podge room in the house. OURS!  Since we moved in, it has been the overflow room, and since its the room with the mostest love in it, I felt it should at least look like it!



Thanks mom for helping paint. Thanks Rachel for taking a trip down the street on the gator, through the woods, to an old abandoned barn, to sneeze like crazy and get eaten alive by mosquitos, all so I could get some free barnwood for my headboard project.  Thanks Brent and Kenney for loading the beast of a dresser (got off of Craig's List from an old hotel for 20 bucks) into our house, then because I decided I no longer liked it, into our barn, then because I am a woman and quite fickle, back into our house because I found a purpose for it, and helping me paint it, and then of course back into our bedroom.

Then there are the days we spent outside, when it was 100 degrees, and this mommy just didn't feel like lugging the five kiddos down the street (literally) to cool off in Nana and Papa's pool (because supervising the 5 of them in a real pool is just a bit too much effort on some days) so we filled a good ole-fashioned plastic pool with water and splashed in our underwear (because again, this mama found it to be too much effort to go down the street (literally) and get the swimsuits we had left at Nana and Papa's pool.)  Don't forget, this IS Indiana.

Then there was the fun party we had.  A bunch of families all together talking and sharing all about the good the bad and the ugly in the adoption world.  We had snowcones and a jump house and a pinata and I think over 30 kids together from all over the world!  Too bad we didn't take a group picture with everyone in it!

All the families that made that day possible.  The set up, the clean up, the food, the fun, the families that let us borrow coolers and tents and tables and chairs - it was a GOOD day to say the least.

Did I mention the garden? Oh I just love the garden.  Did you know, life began in a garden?  I think every single time I am in the garden about how that is exactly where God put Adam, in a garden

Genesis 2:15
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Of course a garden without weeds, and thorns, and bugs that destroy and disease and fungus... but hey... one day there will be a new earth, so until then, I am enjoying my garden.  I love it!

And this guy.... love him too!

So I like the picture, perfect hair, and the butterfly band-aids do make him look tougher. I had to marry him for some reason. Besides, the fact he is "trying" to look tough, makes it all the better.

and all the things that a garden produces, like salsa, LOTS of salsa, pizza sauce, barbecue sauce, jams, jellies, more sauces, relishes, pickles, beets I love that too.

my beautiful basement ready for WWIII, just in case, has been made possible by my Nanny, aunts, sisters,  parents and parents - in- laws  who have shared their tips, their jars, and their time to teach me and and help me do all my crazy canning projects.

Invitations.  If ever one day, when my children are grown and Kenney is retired and we are sitting staring at each other with nothing to do (HA HA HA HA HA, keep laughing it really is funny) We can make invitations.

Of course, we might be up till 2 am on a couple of occasions, and might have to hope my sisters (oh my poor sisters, who get drug on many an adventure that I decide they need to be on) are around to come help me, well, anyway, it just might be a sustainable business idea. Nonetheless, they turned out beautiful and it was quality time spent making them.

A quality Saturday at The Ark. 

My parents and 5 siblings all working together to celebrate my parents business of 33 years!  So much fun, and so many memories.

Two day vacations.  We left at our usual 4am time. When 5 of your children are under the age of 5, leaving while they are still sleeping, so as to allow them to continue sleeping has proven to currently be one of the wisest decisions we have ever made. Then of course we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel (which in Kenney's eyes is one of the wisest decisions he's ever made) Hit the Creation Museum in Kentucky for the day, and then spent the night in a hotel.  We swam and watched movies and made dinner in our suite.  The kids had a blast and have been begging to go back ever since.

Then we left Sunday morning to pick peaches and blackberries and sample wine and ice cream at a great Orchard

Of course being the oh so responsible parents we are (can't you tell that by the underwear picture??) we left in hopes of making it home before bedtime, only to be stopped 30 minutes from home in a complete expressway shutdown.  The kids got to walk around on I-65 for TWO HOURS since there isn't much else to do on an expressway that isn't moving in the middle of cornfields.

But quite possibly the best part of the trip...

Which again, is such a testament to how far we've come.  Tommy until the age of two hated car rides, never slept, never content, always cried, then by about the time he decided he liked car rides, Audrey was born, and pretty much followed in the footsteps of her brother.  But now, five beautiful children, asleep in a car, quite, while we drive.  It is a parent's dream come true... if only for one hour, it was one blissfully, peaceful, glorious hour!

A summer filled with these kids:

While each day is full of smiles and tears, arguments and hugs, laughing and yelling, happiness and frustration... each day is full... full of good things!

I need to be reminded of how special and precious our children are to Kenney and I.

A gift from God.... I think about that often. I many times look at my wedding ring and think of how much I cherish it and how special it is to me, because Kenney gave it to me, because of what it represents. I imagine Christmas day, or my birthday and I imagine opening a gift from my Saviour Himself.  How special that present would be to me, how important, how valuable, how much I would keep it safe and treasure it, I'd protect it.

May I look back and remember these children are a gift from Christ himself. May they always be a priority in my life.  More important than my house, my car, a job, cooking and cleaning, friends, hobbies and mostly myself.  May I make sacrifices for them.. because HE sacrificed himself for me.  May I love them unconditionally because HE loved me first, even in my sin.   May I be reminded to treasure them...

Psalm 127: 3-5
Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.