Friday, September 26, 2008

Field Trip

Sea World in San Antonio hosted home school day yesterday.

William has been watching this Jack Hannah video about Sea World, for some reason he loves it. When I read the email about the home school days and asked if they wanted to go William says, "Yes, I want to go and see the big fish." It is much to hard to resist that huge grin and Ugandan accent. Couple that with the $8 admission price, it was a done deal. We were not going to miss it.

I love taking William and Marissa to do new things. When your children come to you as babies, they grow up with all the fun things around them. They become the norm and the expected. Parks with huge slides, fast food places with big indoor playgrounds, swimming pools, even big tractors are not too exciting when you grow up around them. When you are three and four and experiencing them for the first time, it is exciting. It is even better to be the one blessed enough to be able to take a peek into that discovery. Yesterday I got to have that experience with all five of my children. We don't go to Sea World, costs too much money and there are FAR to many people. Watching Noah as he got to touch a dolphin, seeing them as the killer whales jumped and spun, hearing them giggle at the sea lions, hearing the excitement as they tell me about watching the shark eat. The whole day was filled with wonderful firsts for them all, what a blessing.

On a side note, there were signs all over the park that read "Happy 20th Birthday Sea World of San Antonio!" Um, I went to Sea World the first year it was open. My grandparents took me. They used to have this giant map of the USA on the ground. I remember taking a picture laying down in the State of Kansas, pointing to the city I lived in. I grew up in an extremely small town, so the fact that it was on the map at Sea World seemed incredibly cool to an ELEVEN year old. TWENTY YEARS AGO, man I am getting old. Time really does fly.

I was able to take some really good pictures, so for your looking enjoyment, here they are.

Lion Fish. I think it looks similar to old man wearing fake eyelashes.

Jelly fish, anyone else think they are cool to watch?

Watching the dolphins.

Noah petting a dolphin. I love dolphins, they always look so happy. I wanted to get in and swim with them. Richard said they might frown on that, he wouldn't let me :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Christian Duty?

Very interesting video on adoption and christian duty here. Me too, I am a woman who is "Permanently and seriously disturbed." I pray we all would be.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did Not Monday

This idea originated with MckMama, she has a great blog and is in the midst of an amazing miracle with her baby Stellan. Thought is was a fabulous idea, so naturally I am going to join in the fun.

I did not allow my two youngest children drink coffee with their breakfast two times this week. I most certainly did not justify this action with the excuse "It is food from their homeland."

I did not wear wet undergarments fresh from the washing machine to church yesterday because I forgot to put them out to dry. I would never forget to finish up my laundry.

I did not put all the hair that I lost during one bath into a pile so I could show my husband when he gets home. I did not do this so I can ask him if this is normal, and if he will still love me when I am bald. I definitely did not have angry thoughts when Grace came in and asked "Is that all your hair mommy? Geeze wiz, you better stop loosing hair or you ain't gonna have any left."

I absolutely did not spend my time talking to my beloved on the phone ranting about the government bailout or that huge African diamond. Nope, I would never rant and go on and on about such things to him, especially when I haven't seen him in a week.

I would never spend hours looking at waiting children in America and Ethiopia, wondering if any of them were ours. Nope, not me.

Lastly, I did not, I repeat did not, accidentally yell out to the TV screen, while working out at a public gym, and call Obama's "redistribution of wealth" plan Communism for all the gym to hear.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let's Talk About Money

Money and adoption, the two go hand and hand. Whenever someone asks me about our adoption, there is always a question about money. On a side note, this does not bother me. I find it to be great opportunity to talk about the faithfulness of God. While I don't feel the need to divulge exact figures, I do love to tell people about how big my God is. I love to tell others that when God calls you to something, He makes a way to bring it to pass. Anyway, I was just reminded of another event in our adoption that was a huge miracle, and I wanted to get it down, before I forget... again.

I will never forget the thoughts I had when I ended the phone conversation with Mandy, the one where we committed to adopting. Six months she said. Expect this process to take about six months. All I could think was "How are we ever going to come up with that much money in six months." We had no money. We were entering the slow season, and we didn't even have money saved for that. We had just spent every last bit to pay off our debt.

In the beginning, I was always scrambling for ideas to raise money. Neither Richard or I ever felt peace about it. It was hard to explain, and we even came up against opposition from a few people we love dearly. They would say to us, "If you want to fund raise, do it. It doesn't say in scripture that it is sin to fund raise." No doubt trying to encourage us, and for that I am thankful. Somehow we just knew that this was God's territory. We were to watch and pray. Fundraising was simply out of the question for us. I know this is a fabulous idea, and we are not against it, it was just clear it was not the way we were to go. Nevertheless, I still lacked faith.

Grants, then we must apply for grants. Nope, all those doors were shut as well. I wish I could say at this point that I was convinced of God's provision. I wasn't. In fact those first several weeks I was pretty much dumbfounded. This amount of money was almost what our yearly income had been averaging. It was beyond me how we were going to live and cover the expenses involved in bringing our children home. I don't know exactly when the peace that passes all understanding washed over me. I think it was little by little, but at some point I just knew, my Heavenly Father was going to pay for this. I need only trust Him. I did. We had several families that donated to our adoption fund, over those months. All in all it was just under six thousand dollars, that was given by friends. What a blessing. That was a huge sacrifice for them and we were and are so grateful. It is a fact to say that without that money, we would have come up short...about six thousand dollars. Isn't God good? So this brings me to the events that I really mean to write about in this post. I am so easily distracted :)

I was trusting God and hadn't worried about the money in months. We prayed for it, but had no worries. I probably had just patted myself on the back for my faith. Which is probably why the Lord had yet another lesson for me.

It was May, we had gotten the call we had been waiting for, our court date was to be June 2. We would leave on May 28. We had two weeks, and we were short a big chunk of money. I think it was about seven thousand dollars. No worries though, we had it coming. In fact I was expecting the check that Friday. I go to pick up the check and it is not there. I wish I could tell you that I was calm, cool , and collected. Trusting my Jesus. I wasn't. What I felt was complete panic. I had to have this money when I got on that plane in 11 days.

We had known for a couple of weeks that the company had split the area we worked in, and that we would now be under the Austin office. Details were nonexistent as to what that actually meant for the vendors. That Friday I found out it apparently meant we would not be getting paid. Naturally I call my beloved in a frenzied panic. Being the guy that he is, he told be to calm down. He was going to make some calls and find out what was going on. A short time later he calls to inform me that we will be receiving checks from Austin from now on. Oh, so our check is in Austin, I can rest easy. Nope. They would not be issuing checks until we all had new vendor numbers. They estimated that would take three weeks. Do I at this point thank the Lord for this wonderful test of faith? Nope, I cry. Lord only knows what I unleashed on my poor husband on the phone that day. Yet, steady as a rock, he tells me to calm down. He is going to go and talk to the new area manager. He tells me that "it just so happens" that his new office is at the subdivision five minutes from our house. He is in, and willing to meet with Richard, on Monday. Am I happy about this? No, Monday is too late. We will never be paid in time. I am still in a panic.

Now I must tell you, that this company that we were doing work for, had never been particularly willing to make anything happen that wasn't on their agenda. Ever.

Richard goes to meet with the guy. He" just happens" to be a believer. Richard tells him our story. He tells Richard his pastor just spent three weeks giving sermons on adoption. Richard tells him we have to have this money by Friday. The guys tells Richard, not only will we NOT have to wait three weeks to get what we already were owed, but that by Friday he would make sure we were paid on all the invoices we had just turned in. What, in four days??? Yep, in four days. It takes a minimum for fourteen days to get paid, and he is saying four days??? I wish I could tell you that I rested quietly in my Savior the next couple of days. Trusting that I would board a plane in eight days with that promised cash. I didn't. I worried a fretted the entire time. I wish I could tell you that when I picked up the envelope that Friday, four days before we left for Uganda, that I was confident it would be all we needed. I wasn't. I wish I could tell you I ripped open that envelope confidently expecting God to have moved. I didn't.

When we are faithless, He remains faithful. The check was all the supervisor had said it would be. We had all our adoption money. Not to mention the money to pay the bills for June and July. God had provided every dime. Once again, I had to repent for my lack of trust, in the One who is always perfect and right on time.

I don't know who is reading my blog. Blog patrol tells me there are quite a few of you. I don't know why you are reading. If you are reading and in the midst of your own adoption journey, wondering and worrying about finances. Rest easy in Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Trust Him. He called you to adopt, He will provide the needed money. If you are reading, and thinking about the possibility of adopting, but the costs make you want to run screaming in other direction. Don't. Yes, adoption is expensive. Every bit of money, will be replaced a thousand fold with joy. There is a way. You can do fundraisers, you can apply for grants, you can receive gifts from friends and your church. You can trust the Lord, who has place the idea of adoption on your heart, to provide. Yes, you can.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gotcha Day

I am giving up on my dream of being able to post my gotcha day account with pictures or video. Still no camera from Uganda. Kaleb dutifully load the video on to my lap top, edited out the things I wanted out (like the really unflattering shot of my rear end...come to think of it I am not sure there could be a flattering one of those) , it was all done, nice and pretty. Then I managed to totally destroy our lap top...maybe beyond repair. By the way, when Windows Vista is loading upgrades, and it says DO NOT SHUT OFF COMPUTER UNTIL DOWNLOADING IS COMPLETE...they mean it. So with out further ado, our gotcha day. With out visuals.

As we pulled into Jinja, I remember wanting to take it all in. This is where my children have spent their entire lives. This has been their home. I am trying to see all I can, and we are all asking questions about the city and what we see. All of the sudden we are stopped in front of the home. I recognize the black gate with wood sign in the shape of Africa on it. I gasp, and try to catch my breath. This is it, this is what we have been waiting for, working for, praying for. I can feel my heart racing as I try to gain some sort of composure. "Am I ready for this?" I ask myself. The answer is both no and yes. I don't really have a choice, ready or not, it is time. We must have arrived at nap time or something. I am really not sure, but there were not any children anywhere to be seen. We were led into the front room and we take our seats, where we sit and wait for the children to be brought out to us. Little faces start peaking around the corner. Sweet little faces, they don't belong to us, but they are precious children. My heart aches for them. I momentarily have the thought "Why didn't we commit to three? The money was there, it wasn't that much more. Why not three?" Then before I can run with those thoughts, there they are. Ushered out and standing in front of me, two of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. They are real, not just flat images on a picture. Here they are, I can touch them, hold them, breathe them in. I am secretly praying that I don't cry. I don't want to cry. I keep thinking children associate crying with sadness and pain. Very few understand that when there is overwhelming joy, tears come. I don't want them to mistakenly think I am sad. I scoop them up onto my lap and hold them in my arms for the first time. I remember vividly holding all my children for the first time. Those memories are ones that I hope never fade. Holding William and Marissa was no exception. They may have been a bit bigger, and taken up more room in my lap, but they took up no less room in my heart.

As I sat there holding them, my heart was filled with such immense love. I thought, this is it, this is how the Lord loves me. He adopted me. I was an orphan. Clothed in the rags of my sin and shame. Hungry, because all I had feasted on was empty and dry. Alone, abandoned, forsaken. Sick with the parasite of sin. I was hurt by the world, mistrusting, and afraid. Yet there was my Jesus, willing to make a way. To cleanse me and restore me. To feed me, so that I might never hunger again. He has been there to love me and bear with me, even while I have suffered with reactive attachment disorder. One day yearning to be close to Him, never leaving His side. The next, pushing Him away away and fighting against the very love that bought my ransom. I received in that moment, a clear picture of my salvation, my adoption. When I became a child of the Most High. When my Daddy sent for me. One day I will be escorted home, into His loving arms.

We spent a while in the waiting area looking at books. Watching the video, you can see the terror in their eyes. They were so afraid, yet hopeful. We could tell they were happy to have us there, but very afraid of the unknown. At one point Marissa was sitting on my lap, and we were looking at the family scrapbook we had sent them. Another little boy (who was being adopted by another family at the same time) came over and started to look at it with us. She got mad and pushed his hand away. "NO! You mommy." She said, as she pointed to his mommy sitting across the room. William was showing the book to his friends. He would show them the book and say "See, my daddy and mommy" while pointing to us. This was terrible to watch. Out of insecurity, they wanted to make sure everyone knew, we were theirs, and they were not going to share. They did not want anyone else touching us or talking to us. As we stood on the play ground surrounded by children, my heart was torn into a million pieces. I will have to save that for another post.

They were not going to go home with us at this time. We would just be visiting them until Monday. Once we went to court they would come to stay with us. When it came time to leave, we were telling them bye, and William began to cling to Richard and cry hysterically. We told him over and over again, that we would be back in the morning. I hated leaving him. I hated that he thought we would leave him and not come back. When he calmed down, we gave them one more squeeze and left for the guest house.

That's it, that is the day William and Marissa were "born" into our family. In a way it was a lot like giving birth. Months of paperwork and preparation led us to this day. After two days of travel with little sleep I was exhausted. There was much pain in the journey. The joy of having them in our arms was unspeakable.

Totally and Completely Random

We had our first cold front of the season today. WAHOO!!! I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Waking up to cool air and a strong wind in south Texas, a rare a special treat indeed. Especially in September. I love fall, and I am always excited when the time draws near for all things fall. Of course it is not nearly as beautiful here as it is in other parts of the country. Everything here just turns brown and dead looking. I am going on a short trip to Michigan in a few weeks, so I am hoping to get to see some "real" fall weather. Crisp cool air and amazing colors of red, orange, and auburn. Ooh, I can't wait.

Grace had a raging bladder infection a couple of weeks ago, she just finished up her antibiotics.
1. Bladder infection
2. Strong antibiotics
3. Any guess what comes next????
Fun, I feel so bad for her. She however is very pleased with the extra helpings of yogurt and this yummy probiotic juice drink I found.

My beloved is away on Ike detail. He left yesterday to go clean up the downed trees. He says it is a crazy mess. Terrible destruction. I am always amazed at the power of God displayed in nature and the frailty of our human existence in contrast to His great power. With all that we have "accomplished" we cannot stop hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, or floods; nor can we create them. We cannot stop the sun from setting and rising at it's appointed time. We cannot stop the changing of the seasons. God can. Wow. I am weak, but He is in deed Strong.

Yesterday William says "I wanta go anda see my frieends, Joshua and Zachariah. Dey are back dere. Let's a go."

I told him that they are in Oregon with their new mama and daddy. Maybe one day we can go and see them.

He says "Yeah, we go tomorrow."

I said "No baby, it is a long way away. We can't go tomorrow. Besides, what about daddy?"

"Yeah, daddy go too."

"Nope," I tell him "Daddy has to work. Maybe we can call and talk to them on the phone. OK?"


Later that night he says to Kaleb "Joshua and Zachariah come here, OK."

I wish I could make it so he could see his friends. I can't. God can.
I wish I could make it so he felt comfortable enough here to make some new friends. I can't. God can. He is so comfortable at home, and still so shy around others. I know it will come, in time. I just wish for his sake it would be sooner rather than later. I wish I could help him understand, that his friends are not gone forever. That they have not forgotten him, just has he has not forgotten them. I can't. God can.

Yep, I am weak. He is Strong.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How Does That Saying Go?

"Bring us your tired, your poor, your evacuated masses yearning to escape Ike." That is how that saying goes...right?

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Great Post to Check Out

There is a wonderful post on Brandi's blog today, check it out. I love it and agree with her completely. Very well written, and based on Biblical truths about being truly pro-life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why We Home School

There are many reasons why we home school our children. Many personal convictions that have brought us down this path of educating our children at home. We have seen and reaped many benefits from this choice, as have our children. We are in our second week of our sixth year of school. The following are questions my children have asked me during the last two weeks. Questions like these, are the reason why it makes this choice of ours so worth while.

"Mommy, can I teach William his ABC's?"

"Mommy, can I finish all of my literature for the week today? I just love this book and don't want to quit reading it."

"Mom, is it OK if I do two lessons in science everyday? You know how much I love science."

"Mom, did you know...." I hear this one over an over every day, as my children discover something new.

"Mommy, I am going to read out loud to William to help him learn his words, OK?"

I am so blessed to be able to be home with these children God has given me. I love to be able to watch them learn new things, to be there when they make a new discovery. I am so thankful that when they come across something that they have questions about, I am there to give the answer and to guide them into all truth. What a blessing it is to watch them truly enjoy learning. How amazing it is that they can pursue the things that they want to learn about, sometimes well before they would have been able to study it in another school setting. I love this calling. I love having this time with my children. I love teaching them. Though my days are sometimes long, and frustrating, I wouldn't have it any other way.

This is the first year that I have not had to go on yet another curriculum search. Last year we finally found our perfect match in all the major subjects. Most importantly the kids LOVE it. Two weeks after we got back from Uganda, they were asking "When are we going to start school again?"

We use Tapestry of Grace, and are in year two of this four year curriculum. We are going to be studying the middle ages and the reformation this fall. Knights and castles, what young boy wouldn't be excited? The reformation, I can't wait to dig into that one. We will end the year on early American history, which my eldest is dying to get to. All subjects except math, science and in depth language/vocabulary are covered in this awesome curriculum. Teaching Textbooks is our math curriculum of choice. As a mama that would rather have dental work that study math, this is a life saver. Apologia rounds out our science, and my children devour these books. I have to force them to slow down. Wordly Wise gives them the extra vocabulary they need. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to finally have curriculum that we all love and are excited about. Do you have any idea how satisfying it is to wake up in the morning and find your children already started on their schoolwork, just because they enjoy it? Thank you Jesus!

Monday, September 1, 2008

It Just So Happens...

Our pastor had a wonderful message for us from the book of Esther this past Sunday. I love the book of Esther. When I study this book I always see a wonderful picture of submission and service in her life. Honestly, rarely have I stopped to think about the way this story plays out, all the things that had to "fall" into place for the Jews to be saved. I have given that thought process just a small amount of my time, because obviously God was working His plan. This past Sunday our pastor did a wonderful job of really bringing out all the things that had to be in place in order for this plan to play out. He then left us with the encouragement to think about the way the Lord has lined things up in our own lives, to bring about His plan and ultimately bring Him glory. I have thought about this many times from the perspective of meeting my beloved, and all that "just so happened" to bring us together. This time with adoption on my mind, and our children home just two short months from Uganda, I began to think about all that took place to make them a part of our family.

It just so happens that six years ago we had no one in our lives speaking the truth to us. The truth of the blessings of children and God's sovereignty.

It just so happens that Richard had a vasectomy.

It just so happens that just a short time after that surgery the Lord began to work on our hearts about the blessings of children.

It just so happens that as a result we had a deep desire for more children in our home.

It just so happens that we had saved just enough money for a reversal with a new doctor in Oklahoma.

It just so happens that we felt led to join a new church.

It just so happens that this church had a man coming to speak about Uganda.

It just so happens that during that same time my beloved felt a very strong pull to go to Uganda, with this man and others from our church.

It just so happens that he will leave for this trip two months after his reversal.

It just so happens that I have the first of several miscarriages while he is in Uganda.

It just so happens that while in Uganda, he falls in love with Uganda and especially the children of Uganda.

It just so happens that one year passes, and it is June 2007. At a church picnic,our pastor says to my beloved "Richard, I think by this time next year you will be holding your own baby."

It just so happens that my beloved's reply to that was "I can hold two."

It just so happens that I believed that was a word form the Lord as it is so out of character for our pastor to say such things.

It just so happens that in October of that same year, I find myself pregnant again. To be due in June.

It just so happens that, the pregnancy ended in loss.

It just so happens that I completely lost it at this time. Questioning everything I believe about God and His faithfulness.

It just so happens that our dear friends FINALLY received their referral for a sweet little China doll.

It just so happens we were with them when that call came.

It just so happens at this time that my beloved's income suddenly triples. It is now three times higher than it has EVER been.

It just so happens that my beloved attends a men's conference. During which he is convinced that we should adopt. From Uganda.

IT just so happens that when he comes home I plan to tell him that this trying to have more children thing, is just too much for me. I plan to tell him that either it is time to seriously look at adoption, or give up.

It just so happens that the day I have decided to tell him this, is the same day he has decided to tell me he wants to adopt.

It just so happens I let him talk first.

It just so happens that I was floored when he told me the news, until he said Uganda.

It just so happens that I had already looked in to adopting from Uganda, and found that it was nearly impossible.

It just so happens that he was convinced that our children were in Uganda.

It just so happens that a good friend finds Welcome Ministries during a google search this same week.

It just so happens that they are in Uganda, and had been very successful at placing children.

It just so happens that we were given a list containing the names of children that were available for adoption to pray over.

It just so happens that we felt drawn to William and Marissa.

It just so happens that we gave this same list to several friends, and they too felt William and Marissa were the ones.

It just so happens that each time fees were due, the exact amount was in our bank account.

It just so happens that when we found out Richard's 15 year old DUI had not been cleared up like we thought it was, that I had kept the paper work, all these years to prove it was cleared. (If you know me at all, you know that this alone is a miracle of Biblical proportions)

It just so happens that the county attorney in Kansas had the right to force this back to court because the paperwork had not been filed, which he said he normally does.

It just so happens that he is a really nice guy and worked his tail off to provide paperwork saying this had been cleared 15 years ago not in 2008.

It just so happens that we have great friends, that I trust totally with my children, and that they were more than willing to watch them while we are in Uganda.

It just so happens that we were leaving in May, my beloved will have two children in his arms exactly one year since that word was spoken.

It just so happens that the first week in Uganda I have major PMS, culture shock, and various other emotional issues that cause me to have panic...lots of it.

It just so happens that Richard was in Uganda two years before and made some friends.

It just so happens that those friends have built a home for the purpose of housing missionaries.

It just so happens that they have room for us and our two new children. They willingly open there home to us.

It just so happens that this is exactly what I need to curb that panic that had over taken me.

I just so happens that everything about our adoption was going smoothly, especially as far as Africa is concerned.

It just so happens that what should have been the "easiest" part of this process is the most difficult and takes nearly two weeks.

It just so happens that this delays our going home a week.

It just so happens that I get Malaria.

It just so happens that if we had gone home when expected, I would have came down with this Malaria while here in the US. The costs of hospitalization here in the states would have been more than we could have ever covered. But, it just so happens, that in Uganda it was very affordable.

It just so happens, that in seven months the impossible adoption was completed.

It just so happens that one month after we get home with our children, we loose the contract that had tripled our income and paid for nearly all our adoption.

It just so happens that when we left Uganda I never wanted to go back.

It just so happens that God is the changer of hearts.

It just so happens that I long to go back to Uganda.

It just so happens that we serve an Amazing and Awesome God. He truly is sovereign over all things.

It just so happens that His word is true. Even in our suffering He is working out His plan, for His glory and our good.

It just so happens that I am His, chosen before the foundation of the world. Predestined for adoption.

It just so happens that William and Marissa were chosen before the foundation of the world, to be predestined for adoption...into our family.

It just so happens that what our Lord plans He brings to pass. In His time and His way, always for His glory.

It just so happens that I want to worship Him for His magnificent grace.

May He forever be praised.