12.18.2011

Christmas miracles

So what do you think of the miracle series?  I'm loving this!  Documenting everything makes it so when I'm having a rough day I can come back and see all God has done for us.  I hope you enjoy, but even more than that, I pray that when you read it, you're encouraged to look at your own life and find the miracles. 

I mentioned in my last post that Allan and I were praying for some way to serve the girls at the Fatherheart Maternity Home.  We hadn't really felt anything that was feasible so I was beginning to think maybe it just wasn't time.  When Rhiya came in last night, I just kinda let it go, thinking we'd enjoy her and not worry about it until next year.

This morning the kids were in the Christmas play at church.  HOW.ADORABLE.ARE.THEY?? 
 GraceAnne has been singing in the Weds night praise band and was happy to play Mary.  She did so great!
 Do you notice a reluctant sheep back there?  Do you see that she is good friends with Mary? ;P  Violet did not want to put on her shirt, so she went on stage with her Halloween shirt on.  She also took off a hoof and started picking her nose.  Then she ran off stage to collect cotton balls and went back on.  Then she took off both hooves and threw them in front of her.  I don't know if anyone else noticed, but she stole the show for me!  GraceAnne is such a loving sister to have held her hand and patted her hair the way she did.
There's my little sheep, NOT singing Away in a Manger

After church we escorted the youth around the neighborhood to sell the rest of the cookies they had to get rid of.  They were trying to raise money for the angel tree kids the group chose.  Allan went home and rode his bike back and the littles had a blast on the bike.

Once we got home and I had lunch ready, we all sat down and started to make a game plan of our week with Rhiya.  We didn't have much planned, because money is tight right now, so we discussed making gingerbread cookies from scratch and taking the police some treats and the homeless ministry on Christmas day.  Then we got around to the one event we had planned that would cost a little bit-going to the drive-thru Christmas lights.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks...THAT is what we should do for those young women at the maternity home!!

So we started thinking about how we could make this happen.  I remembered that they told us their free day was Tuesday.  I mentioned before that they have a lot of life skills type stuff and they are busy every evening doing fun stuff except for Tuesdays.  Now...today is Sunday.  Tuesday is coming up pretty quick, but nevertheless, I started looking for a 15 passenger van.  I called a lot of people and even looked up how much it would cost to rent one, but no luck. 

I even tried to call the church that they go to to see if they would loan us a van for the night.  No one answered, of course, because it's Sunday. 

I sat here thinking about it and wondered if maybe it was a stupid idea, but something in my head kept saying, "Call Fatherheart."  I brushed it off many times, reasoning that they would also not answer, considering it is Sunday.  I thought, "I'll call them tomorrow."  But the feeling wouldn't let me go.  I even emailed them to see if the nudging would go away, but no.  How many times does stuff like this have to happen to me before I realize that I need to LISTEN to this still, small voice? 

Anyway, I finally just called and much to my surprise someone picked up on the 2nd ring!  I let that surprise shine through by saying, "I didn't really expect anyone to answer!"
She said, "I'm sorry..."
I said, "don't be sorry, I just didn't think anyone would be there!"
"well, I'm cleaning the office right now and so I thought I'd answer the phone."
I said, "Well, that sounds like a God thing to me, so let me tell you what we want to do!"  Then I told her about our hope and she said that she is one of the after-care residents there and doesn't make decisions, but that she would pass my message on to the house mom and she'd get back to me.  Then she paused a moment and said, "I'm so blessed to get to talk to you.   I'm glad I answered the phone."  wow! 

So I kinda figured I'd get a call back tomorrow, but literally 5 minutes later I was telling Allan about the conversation and my phone rang.  I picked it up and there she was on the other line...Mama Brown!  I stuttered my way through the first part of the conversation, feeling completely inadequate and like she'd think I was nuts.  As she caught the idea of what I was saying she said that it would be nice, but some of the girls were going home for Christmas and that they had some extra girls from another ministry staying because they had no place to go and there was room at the house.  I told her that we'd love to take any of them who wanted to go and she said she'd see if anyone wanted to go and make sure they weren't previously committed to anything else.

Then I dropped the bomb on her.  I said, "Well, I'll tell you the second part of this then, and forgive me if I'm over-stepping my bounds, but we were considering asking your church to use a 15 passenger van if they have one." 

"uhhhhhhh" was the response.  Then I knew I had blown it.  WHO calls with an idea like this without the means to pull it off?  REALLY, how dare I call without having all my ducks in a row first?  It's kinda like a kid coming over and asking, "can I play with all your kids' toys?"  Except we'd be playing with their kids. too.  HAHA!

After a moment of silence and me grimmacing she said, "well...we have a 15 passenger van.  If it's not signed out on Tuesday, I'm sure someone would be willing to drive it to take everyone.  Let me check on all of this stuff and I'll give you a call this evening to let you know."

This is when I ran around like a crazy lady doing little dances and begging everyone I could find IRL and on facebook to pray the doors would be wide open. 

She called back an hour and a half later and said that they have a driver, a van, a couple of staff and some young women who are very excited to go see the lights in Tyler with us!  PRAISE GOD!  Oh, and then she thanked ME!  I feel like we're the ones who are recieving the privilege.  I can't imagine that I should get any thanks for any of this.

Why does this excite me?  I don't really know.  What I do know is that these girls are so close to my heart and I have an intense need to show them I care.  Allan is excited, too.  The kids are going to make gingerbread cookies and spiced cider to bring along for the ride and to share.  I am on cloud nine. 

Praise God.  This is so amazing!

12.16.2011

Miracles #......10, 11 & 12?? This adoption journey

Oh, how my heart has been singing for the last 18 hours.  Let's roll back a hair and start at the beginning. 

I friended Fatherheart Maternity Home on facebook before we went to their fundraising banquet in the beginning of November.  I love seeing the pictures of all they do and the beautiful home they have there.  This is just one of the ministries they provide under the blanket of Living Alternatives, but it is an amazing one! 

A couple of weeks ago, Fatherheart put out a little invitation on facebook for people to come to their Christmas "shower" open house.  I'm a big fan of making one's face known to people you intend to work with/have a relationship with in the future, so I told Allan about it and we started looking for a sitter.  The girl who watched the kids when we went to the banquet couldn't do it because it was a school night and well, I was really out of options.  Then, Friday December 2nd we went to our last homeschool co-op for the semester and as I was sitting in the nursery, I got to talk to the teenage daughter of a woman who has become my friend this school year.  It didn't hit me until that night that Alex could watch the kids, (she's everything we love in a sitter...kind, loving, attentive, responsible, etc) so I messaged her mom and asked how much she would charge.

I waited a little while for a response and as the day of the open house got nearer, I found myself praying that prayer from our experience with the banquet, "Lord, if this is not your will, still my heart..."  Finally my friend wrote back and said that *if* they were in town that night, Alex would watch the kids and she would bless us by doing it free of charge this time.  I was in disbelief.  We hadn't budgeted anything for a sitter in December, so we weren't sure where the money to pay her would come from.  She had to be here from 4pm-11pm and that's much longer than we would normally have a sitter for and we like to bless our sitters abundantly. (since they are doing the same for us!)  To keep from rambling anymore, I'll just underscore that this offer was an enormous blessing to us.

We waited with baited breath (or maybe that was just me...Allan seems to have a better handle of the patient endurance in this particular part of our lives than I do) and my friend wrote back and said, "YES!  We will be in town and I will drop her off a little before 4."

Oh.My.Goodness.  This is happening!  This is really happening.  Why was I even so excited to go?  It's not like the open house had anything to do with or would hold any bearing over the adoption process.  The only way I can explain it is just the same reason I *had* to talk to Bev the night of the banquet.  I don't know why, but God is so pulling us toward this ministry with a fiery passion.  I also had a slight inclination that *she* might be there.  What she?  Who is she?  The mother of our babies.  I don't have a clue why, or even HOW that will work, since we haven't even finished the process of being eligible for adoption through Loving Alternatives, but I just felt that way.

Yesterday afternoon Allan came home from his daily stuff early to get ready.  We were going to leave at 4, since the open house started at 6 to avoid a repeat of the banquet debacle.  When I googled the address, we found it was 30 minutes closer to us, which is a blessing in itself, since we'll have to drive out there somewhat frequently in the coming months.  Alex came and we gave her the grand tour and left, excited.  We chatted a bit on the way there, but I felt nervous.  I couldn't explain why, but I was and God gave me a very deep, and yet shallow at the same time, rest for the last 45 minutes of our ride. 

When we pulled in, we were 20 minutes early and no other cars were there yet.  We sat in the truck taking in the sights of the property as the light waned quickly.  I felt "home."  I could feel the hand of God resting on that place even just from inside our truck.  The house sits on 27 acres that have been carefully planned for making girls in potentially bad situations feel completely at ease and well-loved.  Everything about the property screams "Come to me, you who are weary, and you will find rest."

Finally we watched another car wind up the long driveway and jumped out of the truck.  Walking up to the house is breath-taking in itself, this massive country home with charm to spare and all lit up for Christmas.  Walking in, though...there were residents waiting to greet and take guests on tours of the whole house.  The house has 12 bedrooms, each equipped to house 2 girls.  Bathrooms are communal, but there are plenty.  Everything is decorated so beautifully, with well-thought out colors and scripture verses to remind the young ladies there of how special they are plastered EVERYWHERE.  I promise you, I would live there in a minute! 

The tour ended with the dining hall where there were snacks of every kind laid out and information on the various ministries.  We each grabbed a cup of coffee and in no time at all, found ourselves engaged in deep conversations with staff, residents and other guests.  It was all such a blessing.  As more guests came, the staff and residents busied themselves with tours and answering questions.  Allan and I wandered into the front room and found 3 of the residents sitting, waiting for more guests to show up.  They invited us to sit and talk with them and oh, how they opened up and honored us with their stories.

One resident talked about how she found the perfect family for her son to go to.  She was so happy and at peace with the choice.  (Fatherheart is all about choices.  They teach the girls the life skills they will need to go be fabulous parents who only need rely on the Lord.  They also offer the option of placing their children with other families through the Loving Alternatives program.  This is the program we are currently working with)  Another resident told us about her past and how God used the baby growing inside her to save her and how she was proud to have saved him, as well.  Another resident was new and I felt drawn to her immediately.  After talking to Allan later, he said he felt the same way.  She shared bits of her story with us and asked questions about our family as other people walked in and out of the entryway.  In fact, we talked so long, the staff had to come and gently tell us that they were getting ready to clean up.

Without getting into too many details, she is due around our birthdays and she's not sure if she wants to parent her son or place him, but she knows that she wants whatever God's will is and she has a very strong need for *REAL* Christians to touch her life.

We went to say our goodbyes to everyone we had met and to talk to the "house mom" about coming to teach the girls about cloth diapering and emergency diapering.  She seemed genuinely excited and said she would have her life skills coach call me (I'm waiting so anxiously for that call!  I can't wait to share that ministry with these wonderful young women!)  We walked back toward the front of the house, but the girl we had felt so drawn to was not in any of the nooks and crannies I peeked in.  I had a worried look on my face, I *needed* to tell her goodbye and give her a hug and let her know we'd be praying for her and her son.  Allan was looking around, too and finally, with a sigh of relief said, "she's over here."  We went to her and hugged her and told her what we needed to say. 

She said she'd be praying for us.  WOW.  I've said it before and I'll say it again; sometimes we, as people, go into things thinking that we'll do something to bless someone else...but then they change our lives more than we could ever hope to touch theirs.  It is that way with our Compassion kids, it's that way with homeless ministry and it's certainly that way with Fatherheart.  If I had to venture a guess, I'd say it's that way with any ministry that God is actually a part of.  We come with humble hearts and leave far more full than we could have imagined.

The ride home last night was so full of hope, love and excitement.  I so desperately want to find *some* way to serve those girls this Christmas.  I desperately want to take my kids out there and hug on those young ladies some more and get to know them even better.  We got home around 11 with our heads and hearts swimming and we went to sleep with smiles on our faces.  Who could ask for more?  Will our babies come from there?  I don't know, but I do know that even if they don't, Fatherheart will always have a piece of our hearts, because the love of God  rests there and He chose to let us feel it for a few hours yesterday.

So please, PLEASE join us in praying for the Fatherheart Maternity Home.  For the staff who do amazing work with these young women and the residents currently there and that the home would be full.  For all the babies and the homes they will fill, whether they will go home with their birth mothers or with adoptive parents.  If  you meet a young woman who could benefit from a ministry like this-refer her!  They have taken in girls from everywhere in the US and even from other countries. 

P.S. We've had a real bad drought the last several months down here in Texas.  Allan and I, (and many we know) have prayed desperately for the Lord to open the heavens and bring down healing rain on this land.  The last few weeks we've had some short showers, but nothing to fill the empty creek beds and tanks.  Yesterday that cleansing rain came.  All day long it rained, slow and steady.  The entire ride to Tyler was rainy and while we were there we could hear the droplets on the window panes and all the way home it rained.  It rained at least until we fell asleep last night. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let us not forget that his name was also Emmanuel-meaning "God is with us."  And he certainly is...bringing healing rain to the parched lands literally and figuratively.

P.P.S. Our sweet babies LOVED Alex and had a great time last night!  Praise God!

Love and miss you all!

12.12.2011

Great Big Birthday Boy!

I cannot believe our little man is TWO!!  Where does the time go?  We were digging through photos the other day, trying to find a family picture to send to our newest sponsored child (she lives in Ghana and is only a month younger than GraceAnne) and found several of Corbin when he was little.  Like these:
 Corbin and our doula, Cheryl at the hospital.
 Tiny little MAN
 His first bath....not so happy and neither were we!
 In the early days, if he was close to mommy, he was happy.
 Sweet, smiley little booger!
Always ready for an adventure.

When I look back on his first year, I know that so much of that time was us just simply surviving.  But after all those hospitalizations and procedures and illnesses and the surgery and losing his little brother, we finally made it to his first birthday.  There wasn't much fanfare, I was too sucked up in every day living at the time to really look forward far enough to plan a December birthday party, but there was lots of love and relief and joy. 
 He got big so fast! 

 I don't think there has ever been a little boy more loved than Corbin.  His sisters dote on him all the time.
 First birthday cupcakes.  BLUE because I finally COULD :)
 Most of my kidlets, happy with their family and friends
Ever the little cheese...this guy has made our home so much more complete!

If the first year was difficult (though joyful and full of happy times, too) this year has been a whirlwind!  It's amazing to me how much they change in the early years.  This morning I thought to get some pictures of the birthday boy, and well, they say you can't get a good picture of a 2-year-old and I might have to add ESPECIALLY if said 2-year-old is a boy!  But oh how is little personality shines in what I got!
 He knows what the camera is for and when it comes out he said, "CHEESE, I SEE!"  But doesn't actually give a moment to even snap the picture.  He wants to see the preview screen.  He is impatient like that in almost everything.  Cooperative, but not understanding that it takes a little bit of time. 
 "I said I SEE!!"
Another picture?  I'm pretty much over this, mom...
 So I said, "let's go in the dining room and take a picture of you in front of the tree" but he didn't want to be in front of the tree...He wanted to be on "THAT CHAIR!  I go on THAT CHAIR!"  He is also very particular.  Everything has to be *just so*  I talked about that in the early mornings post a couple days ago.
 Oh...are you still taking pictures?  Because I want to eat what's left of my oatmeal.  If you have the camera, you probably can't snatch me off the table, so here I go!
"CHEESE, I SEE!"

How do I describe Corbin?  At 2, he *loves* to cook and watch me cook.  If something is on the counter, it is not safe.  If something is at the top of the stairs, it will be tossed down before he comes running after it.  He is all at once a loving boy and a hurricane.  He is attached to his daddy at the hip and if daddy is around to do something, daddy MUST do it.  He loves playing with his sisters and he is in perpetual motion.  He is also very smart.  He knows all of his colors and some shapes and can sing so nicely. 

Grumpy because I took his picture while he was throwing a fit...but his eyes match almost anything.  He has those brown-green-blue eyes.  I guess they call that hazel.  I call it amazing ;P

And need I mention how beautiful this kid is?  We went to the movies a week or so ago and on the way out one of the ushers was handing out candy and looked at him and squealed.  She said, "OH MY GOSH, LOOK AT HIM!!"  Corbin looked a little confused and she said to her friends, "He is the CUTEST little boy I have EVER seen!"  Then she came and gave him some candy.  We get told he needs to be in baby commercials all the time.  But none of this suprises me (since I have the smartest, most beautiful babies EVER ;P) though it sure brings a lot of delight.

Happy Birthday to you, Corbin.  You are my precious little man and our prayer is that you grow to be a Godly man who will follow hard after Christ, wherever He leads you and that you will lead your future wife and children with love, kindness and a true servant leader's heart.  You love us all so well and we are grateful to be your family.  You are a wonderful son, little brother and you will be a loving big brother someday.  You continue to surprise us and delight us every day.  Happy Birthday to our long-awaited son.  

12.10.2011

Photo Dump + commentary


 December 1st our town had its annual parade of lights.  GraceAnne has been in it with her Girlscouts troop the last few years.  Every year they have a theme.  GraceAnne was a red present.  SO CUTE! 
 The littles enjoyed the lights, but they were pretty naughty the whole time.  There was a lot of chasing going on.
 We went to Bethlehem Revisited last year.  I know I talk about this every year, but I really do love this ministry.  They set up an area the size of a block to look like Bethlehem and people dress up like they would have in Jesus' time.  You can follow the Holy Family through the town, and watch Jesus be born.  Then you can follow the wisement as they go to see Jesus.  The whole town is bustling with excitement, as the census is being done and sleep Bethlehem has some tourism traffic.  Too cool.  The littles really liked all the live animals and talked about "Baby Jesus" all the way home.
 There we all are in front of the church that puts the production on.  Hard to believe it was 2 years ago that I went into labor there.  Watching my little boy run all over the place made me tear up a few times.
 Last night the girls and I went with a good friend from church to a Christmas "play" here in town.  It was pretty amazing!  We were out late and had yummy snacks and good company and lots of fun.
 This morning I'm "dressed up" but I can't tell anyone why yet.  Soon enough :)
 So last week cold weather set in BIG TIME.  Well, big time for Texas.  We were down in the 20's overnight.  Peanuts don't like frost, so I covered the plants a couple nights until it was decent enough during the day to get out there and dig them up.  I laid them out on a sheet to dry for a couple days before plucking them all off today.  I don't think I got quite the yield we could have, but I would consider the project a huge success for my first time!  Next year I'm going to plant earlier and devote one whole box to them (they were sharing a box with garlic, rosemary, basil and tomatoes this year) and research what they like.  Overall, they were exceedingly easy, very drought tolerant (important this year!) resistant to pests and disease. 
 There's our little harvest!  That came from 8 plants...or maybe it was 7.  I dont' remember, but not very many.  There would have been more, but some were very shriveled?  I am not sure if I under-watered (I watered when they started to droop, about every week or so) or if it was *too* hot (we had many, many days over 100 this year) or if my soil was not what peanuts like.  There's plenty there to save for seed for next year and to snack on, though!  Very exciting.
And these guys made me laugh.  That was my only triple nut, but there were plenty that were nice and fat like that. 

Today we're shutting the home internet off.  We'll have it on our phones, but it's hard to blog from a phone, so hopefully once a week I can go bum some free wifi somewhere and make a post.  It's just gotten too expensive lately and we can't really see anything awful about shutting it off, so...we are.  I still have the same phone number I've had for 5 years, though and the same email I've had for 12 (omg, I'm getting old!) so contacting me will be easy enough if you need to or want to :)

Lots of love!  Praying your holiday season is amazing :)

12.09.2011

Early Mornings

Another cruddy iPhone pic.  I smiled because I look like a hag and I thought a smile might make it better.  Maybe it didn't, but it's too early to care.

So sometimes my son doesn't sleep so well.  There's no real excuse, he just wants his mommy...or his daddy, depending on who comes first(he'll want the opposite).  He's a very particular child-everything has to be "just so."  For example, when I went to see what was the matter at 5am, he wanted a "BI-PER CHANGE."  He's been getting through the night dry for some time now, so I didn't really believe him, but he insisted, so I changed him.  I didn't have my stash upstairs, so he just got some flats fastened together with Boingos.  That was not satisfactory.  He wanted his black diaper, or at the very least, a blue Snappi.  WHO CARES?  YOU'RE GOING TO SLEEP! 

But he cared.  I haven't got the learning curve on the Boingos yet, so I had to come back 5 minutes later to readjust the diaper because it came undone.  This time I pinned.  He refused to go to sleep, even after we pulled out all our usual tricks.

Finally at 5:45 I gave up and got dressed for the day.  I told Allan to turn his alarm off so he could get some sleep.  Today is a special day, I'm going to doula training orientation over an hour away.  I got dressed accordingly and rescued my son from his bed and stumbled down the stairs to start some much needed coffee. 

First he just whined at me.  A LOT.  What did he want?  Probably more sleep, but he was being a stubborn toddler.  Then he whined for milk.  I got him a sippy of milk and that upset him because he wasn't being held while I screwed the lid onto the cup. 

We sat at the table and I read my daily bible passages aloud to him while he sipped his milk.  When the coffee was done, I got up to get a cup and he cried.  I threatened him with evil mommy if I didn't get my caffeine and he backed off just enough for me to grab it and sit at the computer.  I thought we were good and he'd just chill on my lap.

Nope.  Then he whined that he went "poo-poo."  He calls pee poop, so I cautiously checked to make sure it was, in fact, only pee and I got lucky.  I took the diaper off and he insisted that  he sit on his Elmo potty.  He did and when I tried to put another diaper on, he screamed bloody murder.  Not wanting to wake the house, I let him sit on me pantsless.

Let me just say that there was a time in my life when I thought that boys and girls were not really any different...that society placed different expectations on them and that was why they grew up differently.  I started to get a hint after I had children, but it didn't *really* hit home until I brought my little guy home from the hospital and had my first realization of, "boys are stinky."  Hey...you gotta start somewhere, right?

That in mind, letting him sit on me pantsless was probably not the smartest move ever, because, well, he marked his territory and now I smell like toddler boy pee.  *Gross*

I forced him into a diaper and looked down at my shirt, only to discover he had also wiped snot ALL OVER it during his fits.

When he was forced into his diaper, he then whined at me for a bowl of oats and after he had gotten a few bites in his tummy, he demanded I change him into his "CAR WOOLIES"
He got a hole in his sleeping woolies and I sewed a patch onto them with some scrap wool a friend sent me.  I'm a terrible seamstress, but he thinks they are amazing.

After I changed him (do you get the feeling my son might be a hair spoiled?) I pulled him into my lap again, where he proceeded to wipe even more snot on me and press his cold sippy into my chest.  In the midst of that discomfort I noticed that his breathing was getting a little deeper and more rhythmic.  I looked down at his face to see his eyelids drooping and, after a few minutes, caught that picture up there.

My son doesn't sleep on me much anymore...probably hardly at all since he started walking.  The dead weight of this toddler is putting my arm to sleep right now, but I know if I lay him down he will wake up and it will be hell.  I have to leave in 30 minutes, but he's just so precious.  I can't move him.  Here's praying my husband comes to rescue me in a few minutes and I can get changed before I have to drive north. 

I hope your day is starting as sweet, without the bitter to go with it ;)

12.08.2011

Forward...

My husband likes to say, "Forward, always forward; never back."  It's an old Army thing or it's an AGD Jr. thing.  Probably it's both.  I'm sure he'll turn to me and let me know when he checks my blog next.  Regardless, it's a good sentiment.  I know where it comes from, but I'm just not sure I agree.

For example, last night a friend came over and said, "wow...your house is nice and warm."  Now, we live in Texas, so maybe that would not always be a compliment, but last night it was below freezing, so it was a fantastic feeling, to hear someone we care about tell us our home is nice and warm.  After he left I reflected on how the house was not ALWAYS nice and warm.  Until we were hugely blessed 3 years ago, our house was shut off and cold.  It didn't hold heat well.  I think it's important for us to remember these things so we don't get lost in day-to-day complaints.  Looking back can remind us of how much we have NOW and what we have to look forward to. 

In the grand scheme of things, it seems like we're stepping back.  We've been doing some serious restructuring and refiguring lately.  I said before we've been figuring out how to streamline our household-this includes moving rooms around and finding new ways to do things.  Beyond the physical, we've been taking mental counts and spiritual counts.  It seems like there is a lot of air in our bags of activities that needs to be squished out, proverbially speaking.  For example, I teach a bible study on Monday nights.  It's fabulous and I love it.  Allan facilitates a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class on Sundays.  It's fabulous and he loves it.  We both agree that these are fantastic ministries that we should be a part of, but...it pulls us out of our home and away from our family 2 nights per week.  To solve the problem, and streamline our lives, we've decided to teach them on the same night, thus freeing up a night that is very much needed for us as a family.

I say it feels like stepping back, because we're scaling things down a bit (you know how you feel when you clean out your email inbox?  Multiply that by, well...lots) and figuring out how we can get some of our time back.  Like defragmenting a computer-IRL.

If we don't step back just a hair, we can't move forward with the things God would have us to do, because we just simply don't have time to spare.  We need to take some classes to get registered to be a foster family (foster to adopt) but with our current schedule, we just can't afford more nights away from home.  We will be in a position of needing to bond with an infant again at some point, but if life keeps going at the pace it is going, someone is going to be sorely left in the dust.

Besides, it is winter and winter is a time to step back, regroup, refocus and then move forward with the new year, right?  So...while we prepare to move forward, we are attempting to step back and it feels good.  It's like walking around your head and taking inventory of what you thought you just *had* to have, but is actually just taking up space.

That's a whole lot of philosophy all jumbled up there...losing my memory card has really put me in a blogging funk since the only pictures I can get are on my phone or Allan's crappy Kodak now.  Dear Santa...? lol

That said, here are some crappy pictures from my iPhone to tide you over. ;)
 Do they really count as crappy if they're of the cutest kids on earth?  My gosh I love these babies!
 GraceAnne is incredibly smart, but after schooling her for a year and a half, I now understand why she came home so cranky every day after public school...sitting still for so long was killing her.  If I let her do crazy stuff like the above, she does just fine, thankyouverymuch.  Sitting still in one place?  Notsomuch.
 Violet started on Corbin's lap...I said, "you need to get off of him.  You are big and he is little."  This is probably a lie...he weighs as much as she does, though he's a bit shorter.  She promptly got off of him and said, "I am sorry, Kerbin.  You sit on me!" So he did.  I love how they love each other.
 MUH BOIS!!!  He is SUCH a daddy's boy, it's not even fair.  What happened to them being mommy's boy? 
You know, reflecting on GraceAnne...she drew a picture of 3 people and one with a baby in its belly as our announcement for Violet.  She was 3.  I imagined I would be less impressed with this rendition of a "PUM-KIN" but...I'd be lying if I said I ever worked with Violet on drawing.  Any time until now when a crayon, pencil, pen, marker or a piece of poo came to find itself in my youngest daughter's hand, there would be art on the walls.  I noticed lately that she has been making some nice circles, but didn't think a whole lot of it.  Yesterday she was quiet for a long time.  Violet is not to be trusted when she's quiet so I said, "What are you doing, Violet?"  She said, "I drawing."  uh-oh.  "WHAT are you drawing on!?" and I ran into the other room.  Then she showed me this and announced "PUM-KIN on my pay-perrr." 
Melt.
My.
Heart.
My daughter is a genius!  All by herself.  Swoon.

So, all of those are repeats for my friends on facebook.  Stinking facebook, stealing all my blog posts...but it is what it is and I know not everyone here knows me over there, so it's all good.  I hope you're all having a fabulous start to the Christmas season!!

11.30.2011

End of National Adoption Month + Book Review

So one of the miracles that I didn't include was one day getting on Facebook and seeing a post by Focus on the Family about a new book called, Wait No More one family's amazing adoption journey.  They were looking for bloggers to read the book and write a review on it.  This was posted on November 4th, which, if you recall, was the same day we went to the Living Alternatives banquet~also partially sponsored by Focus on the Family.  I submitted my request to be one of the bloggers who recieved the book to review and went about the rest of my day.

I recieved a response on November 8th, that if I sent in my address, I would be mailed a copy of the book.  This was the same day we recieved our initial adoption packet and I helped another mommy in her labor.

I don't remember the exact day the book came, but I do remember devouring it, staying up until 1am when I finished it.  Allan konked out after I read him a few chapters, but he liked what he heard and intends to also finish it.


Before I give you my take on the book, I'd like to say that one night, as I was searching the net for information on adoption, I came across a blog that talked about the downside of adopting children.  That people who adopted were only doing so as a last resort and OH, those poor children who would be adopted by broken people who merely accepted whatever was leftover...I would challenge you, if you believe that, to really look inside your heart and ask yourself why.  I had to ask myself why it was that we're considering adoption "only" since we can't make anymore of "our own" babies.  As I prayed and contemplated 2 things came to mind.

1.  I think it's most important for us to realize that God's design for us was to be a WHOLE family...no second marriages, no broken homes, no step-children, no adopted children, just God, husband, wife and children.  Enter sin...sin took that innocent picture away and continues to rob us of an unbroken picture, but God being God can restore the shattered glass and add in pieces you didn't even know were missing to make a greater whole.  A whole that would not have been known were it not for the brokenness.  I believe that is the driving force behind couples typically desiring to have "their own" children first.
2.  Any children who come into this home, no matter how those children come here will be OUR children.  The state and federal governments will acknowledge that fact, so why don't we?  They will have been fought for, sacrificed for and lovingly brought home, just as our biological children were.  They will share our last name.  They will be called son, daughter, sister, brother, niece, nephew, grandchild.  They may not have our DNA imprinted in their cellular structure, but they will have God's fingerprint on them and though they may bear no resemblance to us, they will bear the likeness of God Himself.  Since we all bear that likeness, what would make them belong any less than children we concieved?  Ultimately, God concieves each child and makes a plan for them and their life.  Who am I to question how those children come to this home?  Who are any of us to assume that since they don't come from our bodies they don't belong?  No children, not even biological children are actually ours, afterall.  They are only on loan to us for a short time from their heavenly father.  We've all been adopted whole-heartedly into His family by the blood of Christ, therefore we will adopt any children into our earthly family whole-heartedly.

I know that the people who read this blog love us and don't believe what that other blog claimed about adoption, but in the future someone may stumble across this and have that hatred and venom stored in their hearts, or maybe someone who is just questioning their own motives or their adoptive parents motives, even...I pray that some of that helps them.

So the review~I loved the book and could not wait to finish it.  I would certainly suggest that if you are considering adoption or you know someone who is, GET THIS BOOK and READ IT.  I would also suggest that if you have a passion for family and believe in the power in family, you will at some point be given an opportunity to speak with someone considering adoption and therefore you should GET THIS BOOK and READ IT. 

There's my recommendation.  On with the specs.

Wait No More one family's amazing adoption journey is written by Kelly & John Rosati.  The book is, in fact, about their own adoption journey and all the turmoil and triumph that has been involved in it.  None of their journey is looked at through rose-colored glasses; in fact, they have very fairly depicted many times when the journey seemed it might be too long, too hard or just too inconvenient.  That is why the painting of God's obvious hand and blessing on their lives is so vivid-it is contrasted with the fear and doubt that exists in all of us. 

This couple has adopted four children through as many different circumstances, but the common thread that weaves each story together is God's obvious sovereignty over the situations. 

I will say this is not a very comprehensive review, but I want to make sure it is up so people get to read it before the month ends.  I am so very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to read the book and blog a review about it.  I hope you will purchase it, read it and consider purchasing one as a gift for someone else.  It is a truly heartwarming and inspirational read. 

I will close with the synopsis from the back of the book:
  "I kept thinking God was challenging us, asking us if we'd just pass by.  Or would we be like the Good Samaritan who did something about the person in need right in front of him?"
  A little boy who needed a home.  An infant girl who needed a mother's love.  A toddler trapped in the insecurity of foster care.  A tiny girl without a family.  Kelly and John Rosati never expected to adopt four children from the U.S. foster care system.  But God's plan for them turned out to be more extraordinary than they could have dreamed.  As you follow Kelly and John on their amazing journey through the child welfare system, you'll be inspired by the story of how God brought their family together.  And you'll be challenged by the desperate needs of children still waiting for families.
  Joining her husband, John, to tell their story, Kelly Rosati, vice president of Community Outreach and cofounder of Focus on the Family's Wait No More program, takes you behind the scenes to share her inspiration and passion for the project.
The Rosati family's story is one of hope amid challenges,
beauty from ashes, and faith that sustains.
It's a beautiful picture of what family truly means.

11.26.2011

Catching it all up

And I think with telling you that we recieved our formal application on November 17th and mailed it back on the 21, we're all caught up.  There have been other amazing things (like hearing an adoption story from everyone we meet now) on the way and there will be many more.  I will try to get back to regularly writing about what's going on here and posting pictures of the kids....it's gotten bare over here at the blog since I tend to post to facebook.  I just never know who really reads over here (though I *know* I have some readership, based on the numbers!  Y'all rock, send a "hello" sometimes :) )

Thanksgiving was great, we had lots of people over, after thinking it would be just us this year.  I had a few custom pies to make that turned out great!  I hope to have more during the Christmas season. 
Pumpkin Cheesecake ($20)
Our apple pie

Our cheesecake (this one was fabulous, but would be $30 due to the massive amounts of cream cheese in it...5 pkgs!)
One of our pumpkin pies and some pie crusts for the kids
Sweet potato pie-$15

Apple pies-$15 each

The pictures really don't do justice because they were taken with my iPhone.  I lost my memory card, so my camera is not functional at the moment.  I must remedy that soon, because Rhiya will be here (!!) and I can't *not* take pictures while she's here. 

Corbin is starting to show interest in potty training so now I get to buy potty training pants, WHEEE!!  He'll be 2 next month and while his cloth diapers are adorable, I'm ready to put them away until the next little person comes home with us. 

We slaughtered our meat chickens last week (and boy are they tasty!  No joke, best chickens EVER!) and since then, I guess the predators smell the blood because a raccoon got one of our girls last week and we all walked up on a hawk eating another of our girls yesterday.  We now only have 4 laying hens and we're all pretty sick about it.  Praying for LOTS of rain to wash away that smell. 

We've started decorating for Christmas and I LOVE IT!  I have been secretly listening to Christmas music since the beginning of November again.  I think I may be losing my edge in my old age ;P

I kinda feel like this is a let-down of a post, so I apologize, but I am a little worn out this weekend, with a full-steam-ahead week coming up.  I pray you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and a relaxing weekend. 

11.24.2011

N.A.M. Miracle #9

I requested our adoptive parent packet Monday morning. (November 7th)

**BACK UP** Remember that hat?  Well, I had initially said I would pick it up at the next Cloth Diaper Group meetup.  Then the car broke down and it appeared that it would not be fixed anytime soon, so I asked her to please mail it instead.  She invoiced me for shipping a couple days later and then she had some problems several mornings in a row that prevented her from getting to the post office.  I had absolutely no idea when to expect the hat to come and I wasn't overly concerned about it since I didn't have a head to put it on yet.  **Keep this in mind for later**

The packet showed up Tuesday. Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend another birth.  This birth went very quickly and I was home by 10pm, buzzing, literally, with the excitement of welcoming a new life and the joy that always accompanies a natural birth. 

We stayed up that night, filling it all out. Allan had to finish his part of the questionnaire on Wednesday morning and then we prayed over the packet together. I intended to walk up to the post office with the kids that morning and drop it off, since our mail lady is forever late.

I packed it all up and told the kids where we were going.  They were very excited and talked about "more babies" the whole way to the post office.  We all prayed over the packet together before we put the extra postage on it and waved goodbye.  Then we walked home.

And as soon as I walked in the door I remembered I had forgotten to put our $15.00 check inside of the envelope.  I dug through my paperwork and called Loving Alternatives.  The phone rang once and *our* case worker picked up.  Now, I don't know if that is typical service, but it was pretty darned awesome.  I rather expected a long wait and then an answering machine for me to leave my message on (this was how we requested the packet).  So I talked to her and explained what had happened and she advised me to wait until the next packet came or to just put another envelope in the mail.  Since I lack organizational skills and was afraid I would forget next time, too, I went and put another envelope with the check in it on the mailbox. 

Allan came home for lunch that day around 11:30 and I noticed that the envelope was gone, indicating the mail had come 5 hours earlier than usual.  I reached in the box and found a squishy little package with what else inside?  The hat.

Wow.  That's really all I can say about that.

Hope you're having a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday this year.  I hope you *know* that God is right there with you, even if people you love are not.  I pray this series is touching your heart.  Love and miss you all!

11.23.2011

National Adoption Month-Miracle #8

Over the course of the next week, I was talking to a new sitter to see if she'd come watch the kids for us on Friday while we went to the Living Alternatives (Fatherheart) banquet.  Our sitter, who we love and adore, went off to college in August.  We haven't been out since she left since 1) money has been tight and 2) our favorite sitter had left town.  Before she left we asked her who she might reccommend and she suggested a girl in our youth group who I was considering as well.  We weren't positive she'd be able to and we had no idea who else would be able to come over that night. 

Thursday she wrote me and said she could definitely do it.  Sitter-check.  I told her to please be there at 5, so we could go over the routine with her and give her the tour of the house.  The banquet was in Tyler and everyone I talked to said, "Yes, just a little bit past Canton," which is an hour away.  When I had looked up the banquet I saw the time 7pm, so I thought if we left at 5:30p we'd be okay and even get there a hair early.

But right before our girl showed up, I looked at the TICKETS and saw that the reception started at 6pm and the dinner at 6:30.  Then I looked up directions and saw that Tyler, in fact, is TWO hours away.  We scrambled and I was very upset with myself.  All the way there I prayed "Lord, give me peace...if we're not supposed to be there, just give me Your peace."  I didn't find that peace.

Let me add here that in my hurry, I forgot to put my makeup in the car and hadn't done anything with my hair.  I was looking a hot mess and feeling very dejected over it all.

Especially when we finally made it to the church at a quarter to 7 and then couldn't find the building the banquet was being held in because that church campus probably has it's own zip code.  ALL the doors were locked and I was still praying the same thing, "Lord...are we supposed to just get in the truck and go back home?"  No peace-but I figured it was just my will getting in the way.  We found a door where we could see people having a bible study inside.  We banged on the doors, but they didn't hear us.  Again, "Lord...allow me to give this up.  Just let me have peace to drive away."  No peace.

The next door we tried was OPEN!  Inside was a woman and we asked her where the Living Alternatives banquet was being held.  She stared at us blankly.  I sighed and then I thought to show her the tickets.  They had an auditorium name on them.  She lit up and pointed to where we needed to go, telling us how to get into that parking lot.  We literally SKIPPED with huge grins on our faces like DORKS to the car.  We drove up and went into the banquet, where we got pulled back to find our reserved seats.  We were then seated just.in.time. to hear the first speaker begin.

We had missed the reception, dinner and the opening prayer, but we got to hear every one of those amazing speakers.  They talked all about how the organization had been started by Bev with just one girl looking for a free pregnancy test in the early 80's and has grown to a facility that has a 30,000/month budget and touches thousands of lives every year.  They talked a lot about adoption and when it was over, we had only been there an hour.  We walked out in the hallway and grabbed the books they had available and started to walk to the car.  I felt a pull in my heart and I told Allan I had to go to the bathroom.  We took a detour.  The pull in my heart wouldn't let go.  I *needed* to meet Bev.

So I came out and told Allan, "let's go introduce ourselves to Bev.  If we're going to be working with this place in the future, it will be good for her to know our faces."  I knew we needed to do this, but I would be lying if I said I wanted to.  May I repeat that I had on no makeup and my hair was a tangled mess.  This was a VERY formal banquet and other people were dressed to the nines, intending to donate thousands to this ministry.

But up we walked...looking through the people and pushing past people, until I thought maybe Bev had left and we wouldn't get to say hello.  Then...there she was.  She was speaking with some other women, so we had to wait patiently, on the outskirts of the conversation, but listening.  She said her goodbyes to them and started to walk away.  We followed quickly after her and I blurted out, "BEV!"  When she turned around, she looked surprised and scanned our faces for familiarity.  I shoved my hand out in front of me to shake her hand and told her that my name was Tara and this was my husband, Allan.

Then I gushed about how inspiring what she has done is and mentioned Childbirth & Beyond to her and how it's easy to get discouraged, but it really helped me to know she started with such a small beginning.  She thanked me and was gracious, but she looked like she really needed to go.  You know the look, when someone is listening to you, but they really have getting the heck out of there on their minds.  I was not inclined to irritate this person I admired, so I got ready to say goodbye.

Then I blurted out, "We're going to be filling out our adoptive parent packet soon."  All at once her eyebrows went up, she reached out and grabbed my forearm and she stared me straight in the eye and said, "NOW, is the PERFECT time!"  She looked to Allan and said, "We only have one orientation per year and it will be in February."  Looking back at me she added, "Start the process now and you'll have everything you need done by then and you'll be able to go."

We then shook hands goodbye and we left.  I might have floated out the door, I'm not sure.  We stopped at Waffle House on the way home to have dinner (since we had missed it!) and to talk about the night and our thoughts and feelings.  We both agreed that between the hat and the timing and Bev's reaction and the way we felt inside, it was TIME to move forward.

The rest of the weekend went quickly and on Monday morning I called and requested our adoptive parent packet.

11.22.2011

N.A.M. Miracle #7

I mentioned yesterday that Saturday was a very emotional day, processing all that had happened the day/night before.  Saturday night I actually got some sleep, praise the Lord!  Sunday morning I woke up and got ready to celebrate the graduation of the girls from our Childbirth & Beyond class.  We had an awesome potluck luncheon/baby shower for them and afterward, I had a slew of gifts to take to the girl who had given birth in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  We weren't planning on heading up there until she was home from the hospital, but I told Allan I needed my baby fix.  We loaded up the Blazer and started the hour drive up to the hospital.

On the way, Violet kept saying, "I don't WANT to see a baby!"  So I appeased her by saying, "You don't have to *look* at him, but we're going to give him these presents."  We went through this exchange several more times, her letting it be known that she did NOT want to see any baby and me assuring her she did not have to look if she didn't want to.

When we finally got to the hospital, we all loaded ourselves down  with gifts and headed up to her recovery room.  I honestly felt like a new grandmother, I was so proud of that sweet baby and his mommy.  I got to hold him and take a picture with him and we only stayed about 15 minutes, but it was a wonderful time.  While we were there, GraceAnne and Corbin made no bones about their love for the baby.  GraceAnne begged to hold him and Corbin looked on reverently, pointing and asking daddy, "BAY-BEE?" I noticed Violet peeking from the corner of her eye, but mostly she stayed hidden near the doorway. 

As we left, I smiled proudly to Allan and said, "ISN'T HE CUUUUUTE!?"  And Allan confirmed, "yes, he *is* pretty cute!"  GraceAnne went on and on about how sweet he was and how she wished she could hold him and Violet stayed quiet until everyone else shut up for a minute.  Then she piped up with,
"Mommy?"
"Yes, Violet?"
"I seed that baby."
"Oh, yeah?  What did you think?"
"I liked it.  I like that baby."
"oh good!  I like that baby, too.  Do you think we should get us a baby?"
Her eyes got real wide and she shook her head vehemently, "YES!  I NEED MORE KERBINS!"

Kerbin=Corbin in Violet speak.  My precious, precious girl. 

We got all the way back to town when my car died in the middle of the road.  Who knows why it waited to die there, but it did.  Turns out it was the fuel pump.  I promise you I didn't even care.  The car can burn...tow it off a cliff...I got to see my baby and confirmed that even my children's hearts are bent toward growing our family. <3

11.21.2011

N.A.M.-Miracle #6

The next day I was a nervous wreck and a ball of excitement, all rolled into one.  Allan came home around 11:30 so I could go up to the hospital to be with my student.  Before I left he asked, "Is it too late to get those tickets to the banquet at Fatherheart?"  I looked at the website and we saw that there was no deadline for the hour, just that day.  I asked him why and he said that he was thinking we should go.  Period.  Damn the cost.  So we purchased the tickets with the money he had just earned finishing up a project and hoped a sitter would come through for that next Friday night. 

Then I left for the hospital.  I have written a little about this in a previous post in October.  The baby was born at 1:09am on Saturday and I was with the mommy nearly the whole time.  What a joyous thing to be included in the bringing of new life! 

It was also heart-wrenching in so many ways and I spent a lot of Saturday dealing with some interesting emotions.  I was first, overtired and second, processing so many things...there is nothing on this earth closer to giving birth yourself than to be the support for someone else who is giving birth. 

Of all those emotions, I need to clarify that it never once crossed my mind to be jealous.  There was no room for jealousy in my love-filled heart.  I wouldn't even see the need to write it here, except a friend asked me later how it went.  I told her how amazing it was and how proud I was and how grateful I was to have been there.  Then I told her how it also stretched me and sometimes it took every cell of patience I had to not smack a nurse or doctor.  How I had to understand that this was not my experience and I was only there to blend into the background.  That sometimes it was WEIRD to be so heavily relied on by so many people I did not know (oh, but how closely entangled we all are now!)

Then she asked, "Was it hard?"  And I stopped to ponder the question.  I was rather at a loss for words because I didn't even fully understand the question.  I came back with "What what hard?"  She said, "Was it hard to be there and know he wasn't your child and that you couldn't take him home?"

And all at once, all of those old memories came rushing back.  It seems to me that when God tells me to move on from something, almost always I kinda forget about it.  I *remember* the pain and the anguish and the anger and the jealousy of mourning Josiah, but it's no longer in the forefront of my thinking, so I am not so in touch with it as I once was.  But it was like lightning to remember, "oh yes...I do desperately want another baby to wrap in my arms" and to again feel all those things.

And in the next moment, just like that, all of the emotions fell away and I was able to honestly, directly look her in the eyes with a sincere smile on my face and in my heart and say, "No.  Not at all.  I do not begrudge that family their joy one bit and really, I hadn't even thought about my own loss until right this minute."

I cannot explain to you how grateful I am to have been able to say that in honesty and with love in my heart.  Things are changing.  Babies *LIKE* me now.  I used to terrify anyone's children but my own.  I *LIKE* babies now.  I used to think my heart could only love my own and sometimes not even them (I jest, but other parents know what I mean)  God is changing my husband AND me.  Refining us, calling us to open our hearts.  He's truly and completely trading our ashes in for beauty. 

Did I mention that was the theme for the banquet at the maternity home?  Ashes for Beauty.  Which is, as you may recall, what I've been saying since we lost Josiah.  It's peppered into nearly every post I made then and it was my mantra for a year.  I love seeing this full-circle.  Many times in life we don't get to see the fullness of our experiences, but this time I do, and I'm glad of it.

I guess there are many miracles here, all wrapped up into one, but this series will have to end someday, right?  (Just the writing, not the miracles.  God works those daily.  There will be no end to those.)  What kind of miracles have you seen lately?  I'd love to hear from you.  Love and hugs to you all!

11.20.2011

National Adoption Month-Miracle #5

I want to get this up here today (Sunday) but I'm not sure if I'll be able to, due to a community Thanksgiving service this evening.

After we got home from Florida, we decided it was time to "prepare" the household.  So we've started to talk to the kids about adopting and even asking Violet if she wanted some more babies.  Corbin is always up for BAY-BEES. 

We have also been working on how to stream line things (this is slow going...we seem to be "do-ers" so we run a lot...like, going for drives in the country with the kids instead of staying home and organizing the house on the weekends) and figure out how to better accommodate MORE children.  Addressing things from such a broad range as: how can we better utilize this space? to how can we respond differently when our kids irritate us?

The whole time, though, we've been pretty peaceful with not being sure *when* the Lord will ask us to begin the process.  Then came October 27th.  I was talking to a girl from my Childbirth & Beyond class about her induction that was scheduled for the following day and over the course of the conversation, we decided I would try to be with her.  It just so happened that my car was actually running (it has been broken down more than it's been running since we've owned it) so I was buzzing with excitement, throwing a bag together.  What an honor to be acting as doula as another life is brought into the world!

In my hurry, I saw a woman from Lolaland Creations post that she was hosting a giveaway that would end in 20 minutes.  She was doing a "last call" for people to enter.  I love her stuff, so I went to the blog to see what the prize was...a knitted pumpkin hat in newborn size.  I started to navigate away from the page, because I don't have a newborn to put a hat on, but something in me just wouldn't let me leave the page.  I stared and it and stared at it and it just seemed like I *needed* to enter that drawing.  So I shot up a little flare prayer to God and said, "If you intend us to start this process...if you have a head for us to put that hat on, let me win this drawing."  I didn't expect to win it, but....

I did.  When Allan came home from working, I showed him the hat and told him the story and he was just kinda flabbergasted.  We were both excited to start the process, but weren't sure what to do.  We have had serious hearts for  Living Alternatives  here in Texas, since it was pointed out to us a few months ago, so I looked at their site.  I was in a rush the rest of that evening, but I found out about a banquet coming up to benefit the ministry.  I told Allan of my desire to go and lamented that it cost too much and was too soon to find a sitter.  We let it go for the evening.

The next day is a post for tomorrow, as it is Miracle #6 :)

11.19.2011

N.A.M.-Miracle #4

Over the next week, God repeated the same "I will increase the number of your offspring" "Trust in me" theme several times.  Then we took off for Florida for a week for the EBV conference.  We had to take a plane to get there.

I am not sure I've ever shared this, but I.HATE.FLYING.  I hate airplanes.  Don't get me wrong, they are terribly convenient, but they make me kinda tweak out.  I must have a window on one side (so I can watch myself plummet to the ground?) and my husband on the other in order to not have a fit. 

We were flying standby, so I didn't exactly get to choose my seat.  The first flight was not so bad, because of a man sitting next to me and chatting, but the flight home was awful.  I was in an aisle seat and not next to Allan.  There was also no nice man sitting next to me talking me off the edge of the wing.  So I had a little fit and closed my eyes tight and felt my blood pressure rising as we hit turbulence.  I looked back to Allan who seemed a little frustrated with my over-reaction.  I realized he wasn't going to be any help, so I took my bible out of my bag and started back up where I had left off.

Never doubt we serve a living God.  Never doubt that though the bible was written long ago, it is living and active because of the Spirit that moves through it.  He reached down into that plane and spoke to me as clearly as ever.

2 Timothy 4:5-But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.  Don't be afraid...
2 Timothy 4: 17-But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength...And He rescued me from certain death.
18-Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom.

Isaiah 54: 2-Enlarge your house, build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
3-For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
Your descendents will occupy other nations
and resettle the ruined cities.
4. FEAR NOT....

Isaiah 54:6-the Lord has called you back from you grief

It goes on, but I'll save all the amazing reading for you to do on your own.  Basically, as He opened that up to me that day, He was saying, "Quit being afraid...didn't I promise you you'd see more children in your home?  Don't you think I'll deliver you from this plane?  EVEN IF it were to crash, I would bring you home to your children and you would raise the others I have set aside for you."

Not that the even if part made me feel very good, but to have God's promise wrapped around you like a blanket, wow!!

So as we were getting off the plane, I scolded Allan for not being sweeter to me and then showed him the passages I read.  As we were on our way to the lobby, I decided to check in and see if I had messages, and find out how the kids were.  This is the message I had waiting for me:

Just got done reading your blog. . .and now seems to be the right time to tell you. . .I also know--from God--that you will have more children. . .when your last little one died I heard it but didn't think that was the time to tell you.

<3 Oh, how He loves us! <3

11.18.2011

A Clarification and an Apology

Something was brought to my attention this afternoon that I wanted to give a little clarification on, because I feel that I may have been hurtful to some people I love very, VERY much.

My head works strangely...I have 4 voices that go on (oh, lawd, haul her away!):

1. my conscience-of course, this is the part of all of us that tells us why something that FEELS right is actually not right or, as a woman, it is our "sixth sense" about things...you know, when you just KNOW that person is creepy, but you don't know why?  And conversely, of course, it talks us out of unreasonable fears and encourages us to stand up and do what is right.

2. God-I have expressed before, I hear the voice of the Lord audibly. 

3. Godly counsel-I put "Godly" in front of my counselors, because I have done a fairly good job of toning out people who are unhealthy for me.  Anyone who adds to what I'll list as #4 is not someone I need around me.  Some of these people I consider Godly counsel are not necessarily people of God, but they are people who give me sound advice and love me and look out for my best interests.  My counselors range from my mom, to my friends, to my church family, to even my children, at times.  These people motivate us to improve and pick us up and dust us off when we are low.  These people will love us no matter what, but aren't too scared to tell us how it is sometimes-even when it hurts.  I am very fortunate to have A LOT of Godly counsel.

4. "the devil" or, as some would call it: negative chatter-this is the voice inside of you that rips you to shreds and tears you down.  Maybe some don't have this, but I struggle with it.  This voice is the one that, after you flip out on your child for something really small that was not necessarily flip-out worthy, tells you, "You're such a worthless parent.  What makes you think you deserve these children?"  This is the voice that says, "You know...she might actually listen to you if you spanked her hard enough."  This is the voice that encourages us to be really ugly, mean and hateful.  This is the voice that will reduce you to a puddle of nothing on the couch for days on end.

Don't get me wrong...I have a God who is bigger than voice #4, so it doesn't have much control over me, but I would be remiss to not point it out and I would be a liar to say that it doesn't exist. 

So...to clarify, when I say that all the places I go for Godly counsel basically told me I was nuts (regarding adopting more children), what I mean is that I really, REALLY put a lot of stock into what my friends and family have to say.  I do not take it lightly or brush it off when someone I love and trust says, "you know...you seem to get so overwhelmed/frustrated/angry...do you really think you should add to that with more children?"  The negative chatter would say, "He/She is right...you don't even deserve the kids you have.  Why are you even CONSIDERING this?  Your own kids are a mess, why do you want to screw up other children who could have better parents than you?"  The conscience says, "Tara, you really should address XYZ, because you understand it will only become magnified once there are more children in your home." And God says, "Trust ME.  I gave you these wonderful, loving people in your life to help you, but ultimately you come to ME for counsel above all else."

On that note: in case you are one of the people whose counsel I love and adore-in case you saw my words in the wrong light (because I wasn't very clear)-in case I hurt you or made you feel that I don't value your opinion; I'm sorry, I LOVE YOU and I thank you for your guidance.  I very much agree with all that you have said to me and I take everything you say into account and I grow from the advice and suggestions you give me.  If I ever took your words as hurtful, I fully realize it is only because of an issue inside of me and not because of anything you have done or said.  Again, I'm grateful, lucky and blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love me and care enough to bring these things to my attention before I steam forward. 

I hope that clarifies things a bit before I move on.  I'm so glad to be sharing this journey with you all!

11.17.2011

National Adoption DAY!-Miracle #3

Today is National Adoption Day.  Do you know anyone who is adopted, has adopted, is considering adoption?  Today is the day to say "Hey...I'm glad God had such a neat plan for that life."

The third really mind boggling miracle happened early last month.  From the time God laid on my heart that mourning was over and Allan and I had that discussion, I was talking more and more seriously about our desire to adopt and the more pointed my conversations with others became, the more obvious it was that many thought we were just kinda crazy.

One night, I was particularly upset and talked to Allan about it.  He assured me that if God called us to this, FOR REAL, then it doesn't really matter what anyone else says...even if they do give Godly advice.  Touche'

So the next morning I woke up early from a dream-now, this time of year I normally have horrific nightmares.  Nightmares that would make some horror movies look like a walk in the park.  So to have a DREAM (and a lovely one at that!) was a nice change of pace.  This is the little girl from my dream (sorta):
And that's what the dream was...we were swinging a baby girl around 10 months old and she was smiling to beat the band and we were all so *happy* but we knew, too, that we were still looking for "our boys."  (For the record, God has put it in both mine and my husband's hearts, from before we met each other, to have twin boys.  Take it as you will)

That warm feeling continued and I went downstairs to prepare the day's coffee and read my bible.  Remembering my frustration from the evening before, I called out to God before I cracked my bible open and told him WHY I thought adoption was His will for us and why I was beginning to wonder if I was nuts and could he please clarify? 

The first passage was 1 Timothy 4.  The whole thing is pretty much about following GOD and not listening to what anyone else has to say on a matter. 

Okay, Lord...I'm listening.  Let me re-focus my attention on YOU.  Because YOU make promises that are true and that other people do not understand and sometimes that even *I* don't understand.  Cool.  Moving on.

The next passage was Isaiah 49.  I made lots of notes and God was really speaking to me in the beginning of the chapter, but where it gets way too crazy is around verse 13b-For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.

Absolutely He did.  I would have been locked up in a freakin' nuthouse about a year ago, and I'm not being dramatic.  Life SUCKED this time last year.  It was more than just the baby, but I won't get into it now.  Suffice it to say that it is the LORD ALONE who brought me through and I pray He shined onto everyone I encountered at that time through me.

-16-See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

Where the nails pierced...MY name is there.  NO ONE can snatch anything from His palm! 

-18-Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you.  As surely as I live" says the Lord, "they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.

I instantly began sobbing as I read that verse.  I literally said to God, "Oh Lord...I *think* I know what you are saying to me, but I am so weak and dense.  Does this mean when I die?  Or in this life?"

-19-Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land will soon be crowded with your people.  Your enemies who enslaved you will be far away.
-21-Then you will think to yourself, "Who has given me all these descendents?  For most of my children were killed and the rest were carried away into exile.  I was left here all alone.  Where did all these people come from?  Who bore these children?  Who raised them for me?"

I saw the bigger picture...God said, "In this life...here on this earth." in response to my question.  But I called out again, "Give me ears to hear what You're saying to me!"  I wanted to know if He meant figurative children (as in disciples) or physical children that we would raise.

-22-See, I will give a signal to the godless nations.  They will carry your LITTLE SONS back to you in their arms; they will bring your DAUGHTERS ON THEIR SHOULDERS.

Emphasis mine.  And cue the flood of tears.  Joy.  Sobbing. 

I said to God, "Am I reading something into this You don't intend to tell me?  Of course it is about Christ and us being His children, Lord...I don't want to believe something only to be ashamed later when I'm wrong..."

-23c?-Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.
-25b-For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.

Because, you see, the enemy comes to rob, kill and destroy.  Our babies didn't simply die.  They were robbed from us and killed.  But that injustice has not escaped the eyes of our Father, and though He used those terrible things to shape us, He is deeply sorrowful that we had to experience those losses.  He longs to restore us-maybe not in the way we had originally planned, but His plans are always so much more beautiful than ours.

It was this day that Allan and I realized the scope of God's very active and living promise to us-the Doyle family.  In His time and in His perfect way, there will be many more children in this home than we imagined.  And it will be hard, but we will praise Him for it.

At that point we had to surrender ourselves to the idea of having no clue WHEN this would take place or HOW MANY He has in store for us.  That's a big leap of faith...so we surrendered, we prayed and we began to wait.