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Saturday, September 25, 2010

The siblings are ready...

We've been enjoying the last bits of summer around here (aka the 93 degree afternoons!). Now that it's a little cooler around lunchtime, the kids & I have been eating lunch outside on our front porch. They have a little toddler picnic table and love to sit there for lunch & snacks. We were talking about how next year, they'll have another sibling to join them at the table and how we'll have to scootch over a bit to make room for him.  Allyn, my two year old, says "I want him to sit right here!" and pats the spot next to her. I also asked the kids what they want to teach their little brother. Riley said he'll teach him "to get riled up and be crazy" and Allyn said she'll teach him "to dance." They are READY for their little brother to get home (so is Mommy).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dear Little One....

Dear Little One,

There is so much on my heart today that I want to share with you. I'm hurting because I fear you are hurting or alone or hungry right now. And my arms reach out but they just can't reach to you. Yet.  It's hard to explain how it is that I love you already. I don't know your face, the shape of your eyes or how they brighten when you smile. But I dream of you all the same. I dreamed of you on Saturday night and for now I have to be content with holding you in my dreams. But we snuggled a lot that night :)

It breaks my heart to think of the losses you are going to suffer. You have probably already lost your birth mom and dad. And I bet they loved you a lot.  And I promise them that I will always take good care of you and I will love you just as they do. You will be mine but that doesn't make you any less theirs. We will always honor them in our house.

God loves you so much too. It isn't His plan for you to lose your birth parents. We live in a very messed up world and I just don't have the answers for why a lot of bad things happen.  But He still has a plan for you. When you lose your parents sometimes you are called an "orphan."  God tells us in the Bible "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you."  God is working hard right now to bring you home to our family. For some reason, it costs a lot to bring a baby from Ethiopia to the United States and God is already helping us to get all that money together so that you can come and be a part of our family.

We've started a fundraiser, too. I already have an incredible story and we haven't even really started yet! We have these good friends, K &S. They love you too. And S knew about the fundraiser we are going to do and so he started asking his friends to see if they wanted to be a part of it. In just a few short hours, he raised $1000 for you! The verse behind our fundraiser is James 1:27: "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." S didn't tell them that but one of the men who gave him some money just put the money in S's hand and said "James 1:27."  Mommy cried when K & S called us to tell us about it. We are hoping you will be home with us in time to go to their wedding. They are pretty amazing.

There are so many people here who are praying for you and are wanting to be a part of bringing you home.  It makes me realize that our "family" is really pretty big.  Mommy and Daddy had no idea just how blessed we are. We thought God was asking us to do a big thing by adopting a baby from Ethiopia but we had no idea just how much joy you would bring to our family... and you aren't even here yet.

We love you so very much. I so wish there was a way for me to tell you that. To hug you or hold your hand. I know that day is coming and I'm really trying to wait patiently for you. But my big secret is that I'm not waiting patiently at all. I simply cannot wait to hold you in my arms and introduce you to your brother and sister, who love you lots too!

Love,
    Mommy

Monday, September 20, 2010

the BIG fundraising post!

It's time! It's time! It's really happening!!!! I am SO excited! We are about to start our BIG GIANT fundraiser for our adoption!

When we felt like God was telling us to adopt internationally, I originally told him, "I can't do it." I really did. I told Him that He must not have done his homework. He must be confused - international adoption is SUPER expensive and Rob is a youth pastor and I am a part-time social worker. He must have forgotten that we aren't in the most lucrative of careers.

I'll never forget the moment when I was standing in the nursery at church to pick up Allyn. I told a friend there that we had been really excited about the idea of international adoption but we were disappointed because it was just too expensive. She said five simple words to me: "You can pray about it." I don't even know if this friend has any idea how impactful that moment was for me. I had prayed about adopting and I got an answer. I just didn't like it so I decided we weren't supposed to do it; at least not internationally.  I went home that day and prayed HARD. And that was when I knew without a doubt that God did do his homework. He knows our salaries AND he still wanted us to adopt internationally.

I started doing research on grants, loans, and fundraisers and when I found the Both Hands site with Lifesong for Orphans I immediately knew we had found our fundraiser!!  So here it is!

James 1:27 has become my "life's verse" over the past few years. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."  I had really been focusing on the orphans part but I have to admit I have done nothing for a widow at all.

Here is how the Both Hands fundraiser works. We assemble a team and do a one-day project on a widow's home. That same team sends out a letter (that we've already written) to as many people as possible that explains James 1:27 and how we are following God's call by adopting an orphan and how our team has helped a widow. That letter asks for support both through prayer and financial means. The money goes straight to Lifesong for Orphans (and donations are tax-deductible - awesome!). At the end, we apply for a grant from Lifesong for Orphans for the amount raised and we can use it to help us pay for the adoption costs.

I was (and still am) super uncomfortable about asking for money to help us with this adoption. But we are estimating that it is going to cost us about $27,000. Needless to say, we don't usually carry that much cash with us on a daily basis! :)  But here's the thing: God has called ALL of us to care for orphans and widows.  But he may not have called everyone to adopt an orphan or work on a widow's home.  Instead, He may be calling you to sponsor a family who is adopting in order to be a part of bringing an orphan home.

I hope you are still reading at this point because, dear friends who actually read my blog (and I love you so much for it), I need your help! I would absoutely LOVE to have TONS of people involved in this project with us! If you would be willing to send out letters and work on a widow's home, please come to our Kick-Off Meeting/Info Session on Tuesday, September 28th at 8pm at our church (Friendly Avenue Baptist). We'll be meeting in one of the Sunday School rooms in the new building. (email me at yklj@hotmail.com or respond to this post to let us know you're coming)

Or... if you wouldn't feel comfortable sending out letters and working on a home, would you be willing to receive a letter and support us by praying for us and/or donating? There is an orphaned boy in Ethiopia and we desperately want to be his family. But we need help. If you would be willing to receive a letter, please send me your name & mailing address! (yklj@hotmail.com or just leave a comment... I won't post addresses, I promise!)

And, most importantly.... please PRAY! Pray for our child in Ethiopia. For all that he is going through right now and the giant loss he is going to go through by losing his birth family. Please pray for our family for the patience and love we need in order to welcome him into our family. And please pray for our fundraiser. Pray for the hearts of those who receive our letters. Pray for our widow, that her life may be positively impacted by this project. And above all, we pray that God will be glorified through our adoption and through our fundraiser!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Mom Thing

My baby is four today! Except that he's not my baby: he's my oldest. And he's quick to tell me that not only is HE not a baby, but his little sister is not a baby anymore either - "she's a toddler", he says.

That means I've been doing the mom thing for about four years now. Want to know my secret? I still don't know what I'm doing! ha ha. I pray. A LOT. And then I pray some more. And in between my prayers there's lots of discipline and snuggles and jumping and running and general craziness. And sometimes mayhem.

I remember leaving the hospital with my newborn first child. We just walked on out of there and nobody stopped us. I half expected someone to see me leaving with a baby and say "HEY LADY! Wait a minute! You don't know what you're doing! You can't leave here with him!" But instead everyone smiled and waved goodbye as Rob & I pulled away in his old Isuzu Rodeo that looked so strange with a carseat in the back.

Lately I've been reflecting on how this next baby's start in our family is going to be so different. For one, we've been waiting for him much longer than a typical pregnancy. Adopting is like being an elephant (they carry their babies for TWO years before giving birth).  We've been talking about and praying for "Our Baby in Africa" (as the kids call him) for almost a year now. And when he arrives, there will be no contractions, no late night/early morning phone calls to family and friends to arrange for childcare. He won't be a tiny, helpless baby that I can nurse whenever he cries and make life all better again.  He won't already know the sound of my voice or the sound of the kids' voices. Rob can't read to him at night like he read to my first two in utero. We miss out on bonding with him for the first many months of his life.

But you know what? Even though I am the first to admit I"m not a perfect mom, I do sorta feel like I have this mom thing down. I've learned some of the tricks of the trade and my first two are still alive. That has to count for something, right? (just kidding).

I often talk with my friends about parenting styles/techniques and the phrase I find myself saying most often is this: "God gave YOU your child because He knows that YOU know what is best for him/her. Not your parents, not your neighbors, not your friends. YOU know what is best and get to make the decisions."  I have some dear friends who parent very differently from the way I parent. And know what? They're great parents. We don't all need to parent exactly the same way to be effective.

And while I don't believe adoption is God's first choice for my child (his birth parents would have been), circumstances are that I get the honor of raising him. And I believe God has a hand in that.  He knows who my next child is and has decided that Rob and I get to be his parents. What if I had been too scared to do an international adoption? Or too scared to adopt at all? I would miss out on parenting this awesome kid that I haven't had the honor of meeting yet.

So I'll keep doing this mom thing. And I thank God for those who are on the journey with me. I don't do the Mom Thing by myself - God has given me some awesome friends and family who certainly help me out along the way!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One of those days!

Ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong? I had one of those today. And by 2:30 I thought I was possibly having the worst day I'd ever had.  I even called Rob and begged him to come home early from work.  It was after that when Allyn took her diaper off and pooped in her crib and THEN I found out that the shelter I'd reserved for the kids' joint birthday party for tomorrow had been given away yesterday. There was some kind of miscommunication and we were the unlucky ones.

What I want to do is cry. I want to say "poor me" and feel sorry for myself. It's been an incredibly stressful day for me today. I want to stamp my feet and then bury my head in the sand.

But instead I will CHOOSE how I want to respond to today. Well, let me be honest: first I'm shedding some tears and having a very tiny pity party (and maybe I'll admit to throwing my dustbuster). But THEN I will take a deep breath, and remember what life is really all about. Today was hard, but I have friends and family who love me and are there for me (and offered to come clean my house for me!!).  I got stressed out today, but I have access to clean water. My children have warm clothes and access to schools.  And, most importantly, I have a Savior who is bigger than all of this.

He is bigger than Riley's GIANT double ear-infection that caused me to rush to the pediatrican today.
He is bigger than the four different shirts (and hence, four different trips to Target) I had to buy in order to make Riley a birthday shirt because I kept messing it up in one way or another.
He is bigger than all my loads of laundry.
He is bigger than poop smeared on Allyn's favorite blanket (she managed to miss her loveys and I can't figure out how that was physically possible).
He is bigger than me. Life is not about me. It's about HIM. And I praise God for that!

And, thank God, I can start all over again tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The ringleader

Riley started back at school this week which leaves Allyn and me on our own three mornings a week. Can I confess something? I'm a little nervous about just me & A hanging by ourselves that much! I have recently realized that Riley is our ringleader! We both take our cues from him and he sets the pace for the day for us! We are going to miss him lots while he's at school.

I am so excited to spend some quality time with Allyn this fall because it is our first opportunity to do something just the two of us. She really is a different kid when her big brother isn't around and I L-O-V-E the chance to give her 100% of my attention. Last year she was still taking a morning nap while Riley was at school so we didn't get to hang out that much.

The idea of three kids is starting to sink in and I'm trying to get as much "alone" time in with my first two as much as possible now. And while I do have my days when I wonder "how in the world am I going to wrangle three children!?!?", there is one worry I do NOT have. What I never wonder is "how in the world am I going to LOVE three children?"

I worried about that when I was pregnant the 2nd time. I worried and wondered how I could ever love another child as much as I loved my first. And then she came. And it's like that part in the movie where the Grinch's heart grows... my heart just grew. My love for Riley never became less but my love for Allyn is just as strong and just as big. But it's also different. I love them both the same but I love them in such different ways.

And this next one? I already love him. Because he's not just a thought. He's not just a dream of a child. He very likely already exists, has already been born, and is living and breathing as we speak.  And as much as I love my children, God loves them so much more. That is amazing to me. They are HIS and yet he is entrusting me with their care for their short journeys on this Earth.

Can I tell y'all how amazing it is to be adopting? That may sound crazy because y'all have heard me whine about paperwork and waiting and paperwork. And waiting. But I've experienced more joy and peace through this process than I can explain.  When we realized God wanted us to adopt internationally, my first emotion was fear (mostly due to the cost).  But he's asked me to do something that I NEED him to help me do. So I rely on him and grow closer to him and it brings so much joy and so much peace.

I've often been my own ringleader in life. I've focused on making my own decisions and following my own plans.  But through this adoption I've had no choice but to put that ringleader aside and focus on Jesus. There is NOTHING I can do to change the wait time, the process, or the things that will happen to my child before he lands in my arms. But I can pray for peace and strength for my child and for myself. And trust that my true ringleader, the only one who has never and will never fail me, has my child in His arms and is watching over this whole crazy process.

Monday, September 6, 2010

and the winner is....

MEGAN!!
Way to score right at the buzzer! Megan D (Chemical Kitten) is our winner!


But don't be sad if you didn't win... as soon as Megan lets me know which one she wants, the rest will be up on the etsy site for $6 each and all proceeds go, of course, to bringing that sweet baby of ours home! If you are local, you don't even need to pay shipping - I'll figure out a way to get one to you if you order! :)

Megan, would you send me your mailing address (you can just send it through facebook if that's easier)

Thanks SO much for all your comments! I was surprised to see who all is out there! Thanks for reading and most of all, THANK YOU THANK YOU for your support and love for us as we navigate this adoption process. We can feel your prayers... please keep 'em coming!

And I really loved getting some comments (hint hint). There just might be a mystery giveaway at some point... so keep the comments rolling! hee hee!