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.


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. 


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!


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.


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,
"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


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!


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 :)


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


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!


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.


N.A.M.-Miracle #2

I try as hard as I can to read my bible every morning before the kids get up.  I find that it's easier for me to do this when I'm distressed, because I long for that time and those answers.  As the year mark came along from losing Josiah, I was very devoted to getting up daily and reading and praying. 

Literally, on the morning of August 5th, I read this:

2 Corinthians 8:10a
Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago.

Oh.  I guess I'm done mourning then?

Then, because I read in 2 spots (to avoid missing a message.  If He really wants me to notice something, He'll have to say it twice so I really get it.  I'm not exactly a morning person. :P ) I read this:

Isaiah 12:2
See, God has come to save me.
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.

It was around that time that Allan sat me down and said he had noticed I was being distant and irritable and wondered what the deal was.  It took a lot of prodding on his part, but he finally pulled out of me that I really, *really* want to adopt, but everyone I went to for Godly advice told me I was crazy.  Then there was the ever-present nagging feeling that he didn't want anymore children.  As I spilled my heart and tears spilled from my eyes over the course of that evening, he held me and was gentle. 

And he picked me up and dusted me off, saying, "If these 4 are all we ever have, I am okay with that.  But if God calls us to adopt and you want to, we will do that.  It's okay." 

And like that-it was as if my whole world opened up.  I recall a book I read about George Mueller to GraceAnne last year.  He hadn't wanted to get married because he was afraid that a family would hold him back from doing the ministry he was called to do.  The woman who wanted to marry him said, "A Godly spouse will open you up to do more ministry than you could even imagine on your own."  How true. 

I am so grateful for my Godly, encouraging, loving, gentle spouse!


National Adoption Month...did you know?

I did not know that this month is National Adoption Month until just a few days ago.  I will be chronicling some things here this month.  I will try to keep these posts short and interesting, so as not to take up too much of anyone's time. 

When I was a little girl, I loved God very much.  I had, (looking back) quite a few selfless dreams then.  I'm sure I had more than my fair share of selfish dreams, too, but in my healing I've come to realize that every single selfless prayer I prayed as a child has come to fruition, save 2.  One is in the works and the other will probably come to be much later.

1. I wanted a husband exactly like Allan.  Funny, I forgot that as I got older and dated guys exactly his opposite, but now here he is...even though I might not have really been seeking him at the time, God sent him to me anyway.

2. I wanted 3 "bio" kids.  I even wanted 2 girls and then a boy, so the girls would teach him to be gentle and sweet.  Of course, I got an extra-special bonus daughter and our road to live births has been a bit curvy, but I got what I asked for as a child...even though I had changed my mind as I got older and decided I didn't want any girls. 

3.  I wanted to "farm."  Raise my own animals and our own food.  Of course we don't do this on a large scale, but we have been getting closer to being self-sufficient every season.

4.  I wanted to adopt.  I don't know WHY or where that dream came from, but I wanted it.  I put it out of my head as an adult because when I asked Allan if he ever thought about adopting, (after we had GraceAnne, I was just rather traumatized by lots of things and wasn't sure I wanted to go through the whole pregnancy/childbirth/nursing/changing a girl diaper thing again.  HA!  I did come around, obviously) and he pretty much said "no.  Why would I when I can have my own?"

5.  I wanted to own a homeless shelter/soup kitchen/coffee shop to help the homeless.

I'm here this month to talk about #4.  Prior to getting pregnant with Josiah last year, we pretty much felt done with kids.  We just knew we didn't have room in our hearts for another child.  We had 4 beautiful children between the 2 of us and we felt completely OVER IT.  Our son was 5 months old and had a lot of health issues that taxed us.  (Thankfully, he is fine, healthy and strong today, but his first 18 months were akin to hell) Allan was scheduled for his vasectomy and all was well, until they sent us away despite our having everything together.  We knew then that God was taking us somewhere new, and we submitted as best we could.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know what happened next.  We rescheduled the vasectomy, but got pregnant prior to the appt.  We were excited and prayed fervently for our unborn child.  That pregnancy stretched us-our whole family-in ways we would not have fathomed.  Allan had his vasectomy on August 4th and on August 5th we found out the baby was gone.

The next year was rough, but I knew almost right away that God had helped me to realize I *could* love more children and that was what He intended for me to do.  I tried hard not to think about it much because I was grieving and didn't want to make a mess.  When we move in our own time, we have a tendency to make a mess.  So I waited.  In the meantime I would mention casually to Allan that we could adopt.  He would agree with me and I would take that glimmer of hope and run.  Then the devil would remind me of that one conversation, so far in our past and I would beat myself up.  I prayed that God would do one of two things:

1. Change our hearts...take away this desire for more children
2. Change my husband's heart toward adoption.

I don't know when, but He changed Allan's heart about adoption.  My husband has fully accepted whatever God has for us in this journey despite his previous fears.  Praise God!  This is no small task.  To change a person's heart about things that have been ingrained in them from childhood is no easy feat, but nothing is too big for our God. 

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible"