Monday, December 29, 2014

RIP Peter

Rest in peace Peter the Fish. You were with us for three years and 27 days which, in bowl dwelling fish years, is an eternity. We will miss your happy glubbing and the bubbly disposition you maintained for most of your three years. In the end, there, you were a bit senile and mopey but it was probably to be expected as you were approximately 11,001 fish years old. We promise to cut through the ice and snow and give you a proper burial. You shall not meet the sewage in the long and winding pipes.

Thank you for being the motivation for getting my then five-year-old to stay in his own bed. Thank you for providing us endless laughter as we'd place a mirror near you and watch you puff up, ready to fight your own reflection. Thank you for tolerating it when the boys would place a finger in your bowl and "pet" you. Who knows how long you'd have lived without that little shenanigan. Thank you for never complaining, always staying where we put you, and being generally easy and pleasant to care for.


You will be missed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Over Lunch

For the past ten years, we've had access to free tickets to Sea World. (Thanks, Sea World employee who continues to hook us up!) Today, we were able to head to the park with my parents, my brother and FSIL*, FSIL's parents, her sister and her sister's boyfriend.

So. There we were, eating lunch altogether at Sea World. FSIL's sister and her boyfriend live in Maryland and it had been, like, 20 years since I'd seen her (and by 20, I mean 4). I'd never met her boyfriend. Topics of conversation ranged from, "Where did you grow up?" to, "Do you like snow crab?" Well, since we didn't know him and he didn't know us, obviously my ex-fiancé came up. What? Don't you talk about previous fiancés with people you've never met?

Actually, it was like this. Boyfriend asked us how we met. I explained that Troy's dad had come on as the pastor of the church I grew up in and we'd met there. Troy interjected that we were friends first because I was with another guy.

"He was an Egyptian!" my eight-year-old exclaimed and then made a comment about being related to king Tut. This was the first time I realized that my son doesn't understand that my ex-fiancé is just a guy whose father moved here from Egypt and that I wasn't actually engaged to someone with his own pyramid who dressed like the characters from Prince of Egypt. Note to self: Further cultural education for my children is needed. Another note to self: Explain the difference between ancient civilizations and current ones to said children.

I explained to the over eight crowd that he was half Egyptian and half Caucasian but that we had, indeed, ended our relationship and that did, indeed, make way for Troy. Garrett was still clearly sad this ancient Egyptian fellow was no longer in our lives. "It's a good thing we broke up and I married dad. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here," I reminded him.

Without skipping so much as a beat, with the comedic timing that wins awards, Matthew quickly shouted, " BUT I WOULD!"

And then eight adults erupted into hysterical laughter. Several of us were wiping tears away from our eyes. It was SO hilarious. I honestly don't know if he was trying to be funny or if he was just stating the fact that his father and I ending up together had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on his presence in the world. Regardless of effort, the effect was comic gold.

*Before my brother got married, I referred to his fiancée as FSIL (Fizzle) which stood for Future Sister-in-Law. We tried out SIL for awhile but it just didn't have the sticking power. So now it's FSIL and the "F" represents any adjective beginning with that letter. Often, it stands for FABULOUS.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tax Deduction!

Couldn't everyone use a year-end tax deductible donation? You just don't need to look any further than right here, is the thing. You can go straight here and donate. No donation is too small. READ MY WORDS--NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL!!!

I'm not even kidding. You want to donate one dollar? NOT TOO SMALL. I promise that one dollar from a lot of people adds up to A LOT OF DOLLARS. I'm making a list of all the people who have donated money. I read it over often and praise God for each person who has felt led to contribute. It means the world to us.

Please, please, please consider joining that group of people and helping us. We will never forget your generosity. Every day, when we look at our daughter, we will think of those who partnered with us to help get her home. We are almost 40% funded. Can you help us get just a little bit closer to 100%?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chosen

A few inches.

That's what separated me from my daughter today.

Cotton. Skin. Muscle and sinew. She was there and we were there and we couldn't bring her home because she's still wrapped tightly inside the mother who gave her life. Now, we are separated again by miles and months. And my arms ache, longing for the day when she will fill them.

Meeting birth parents makes it somehow feel more real. Seeing the bump where a baby is, talking to these people who have chosen life and adoption, falling in love with them. Knowing that they choose us and we choose them and that God has orchestrated this unique dance of family.

This is open adoption. It is emotional and it is beautiful, difficult, wonderful, raw.

I hug her mother and I know that she will fill a void I never can. Her voice, her heartbeat, her very self will be missed. But I will strive, every day, to be the mom she has chosen for her child. To love her daughter more than my own life. To adore her in ways that only a mother can.

We stand together, the four of us, for a picture. The moms in the middle. The dads on the outside, hemming us in tight. Do you know how much you are loved, little one? Can you feel the sacrifice they are making? Are you aware of the joy your tiny life is already bringing to us? You are wanted. Intensely.

This isn't what any of us pictured. When we looked down the timeline at our futures, no one saw us standing together in front of a restaurant. No one, save the Almighty. But He has known it all from the beginning.

We met today. Her and him and I and him and her. We talked. We laughed. We broke bread. We were real and present and transparent. We chose each other.

And we all choose our daughter.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tale of a Tooth

So Matthew had this loose tooth. (Also, Garrett brought home a piece of writing the other day. It was corrected up one side and down the other because he began a high volume of sentences with and, but, and so. I had better keep his teacher far away from this blog because I threw out those rules the moment the powers that be at PLNU handed me my diploma in 2003. Actually, I threw them out in my creative writing class several semesters before that and they still gave me my diploma so TAKE THAT SECOND GRADE! BOOM.) (I don't know where that BOOM came from.) It was sort of loose. The kind of loose that suggests that a kid may, at some point in the future, lose the tooth. It might, in fact, happen within the next month or so.

My five-year-old can still throw a tantrum that will rival any toddler I know. It's a bit of a problem. But he's come so very far in the last couple of years that I'm hoping and praying by the time we marry him off, he'll be past the tantrum stage. Yesterday, for ridiculously silly reasons that I won't get into, he pitched a colossal fit. It happened to be while he was eating his lunch. I was upstairs cleaning the bathroom so I just ignored him, certain that the hysteria would quickly pass. Within a few minutes he stopped crying and all was right with the world. For about 90 seconds. Then he started to WAIL.

"Are you REALLY STILL CRYING?" I called down to him.

He blubbered something or other about biting himself. He was REALLY crying so I headed down to him, assuming he'd badly bitten his tongue or the inside of his cheek. Through sobs and gasps of breath, he explained that he'd hit his bottom teeth with his top teeth--and hard. I calmed him down and told him that he was going to have to be careful with his bottom teeth (they were both loose) until they fell out given how tender they were.

Well, he didn't like that one bit.

So he set to removing the loosest of the two.

Which was ridiculous because, like I said before, at least a couple of weeks away and all that.

He wiggled. Five minutes later he'd present his mouth to me and ask me to see how much progress he'd made. "OH. EM HMMM. YES. FANTASTIC." I'd tell him, which was code for, "It is the exact same amount of loose as it was the last time you brought your face over here to me."

This went on for more than hour. Eventually, it did start to feel looser. Like, maybe he'd actually lose that tooth in a week or so. Finally, I explained to him that he'd have to "break" the tooth away from the gum in the back and the front before any level of losing was actually going to be accomplished.

He wandered away. Less than a minute he came back. "I think I broke it! I THINK I BROKE IT!" Y'all, I was growing a little weary of this tooth.

"Honey, you didn't," I told him.

"JUST LOOK AT IT!" he begged and all I did was glance in his direction and there it was, a tooth lying flat on his lip where before it stood upright.

"OH MY GOODNESS! YOU DID!" That sucker was bleeding everywhere. Now, at some point during this entire escapade, Garrett had hid himself under the bed. He is 100% squeamish around loose teeth. When he has his own loose teeth he pulls them out immediately. He cannot stand a pearly white tooth hanging out of a mouth by a thread. Neither can I.

Last year, when I was subbing for a teacher on maternity leave, I had a student with both top teeth so loose I could have pulled them out with nothing more than a warm hug. He refused to remove them from his mouth. This went on for several days. He'd click them with his tongue, twist them and turn them and still they hung there, askew and disgusting. Finally, I told him that I didn't think he was brave enough to pull them out. I was pretty sure that there was no way he could get them out by the next day. I was certain, in fact, that he could not prove me wrong and if, by the next day, they were still in his mouth, I would declare myself the winner.

The next morning he was top toothless. It was the best contest I ever lost.

So, from his hiding spot under the bed, Garrett yelled for Matthew to twist his tooth. This began the most terrible 60 seconds. Matthew moaned and groaned and howled like a woman dilated to ten with no epidural in sight. I wasn't sure where he was and feared that he was sitting on my off-white couch, blood pouring from his mouth. "Matthew," I called. "Where are you?" But, before he could answer, he suddenly screamed, "I LOST IT! I LOST IT! I LOST MY TOOTH!" He was sprinting toward me holding it in his hand. He grinned an incredibly bloody smile and nearly collided with me in excitement.

I shoved his head into the bathroom sink and took the tooth from him. The tooth that, though rootless in the back, sported a root almost as long as the tooth itself in the front.

For the rest of the day, he proceeded to tell us, no less than 89 times (and that is not hyperbole), "I CAN'T UHBWEAVE I LOST MY TOOTH." And if anyone tells him that it's believe and not uhbweave, I'll cut you. His wife can tell him. About the time he stops having temper tantrums.

I cannot uhbweave the sheer determination this kid has. When he sets his mind to something there is seriously no stopping him. He persevered through what had to be some pretty intense pain. He lost that tooth. Even though it probably needed another few weeks.

It's a good thing there's going to be another baby around here in a few months because mine are officially all grown up.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

28 Week Update

So, every week, I wait until Thursday and then I read about how big the baby is right now. If she's average sized, what might she weigh? How long is she? What sorts of things can she do now? You know, aside from floating in amniotic fluid. Take, for instance, this week. As of today, Kate is roughly the size of an eggplant. She about 2.25 lbs and measures approximately 14.8 inches. Today begins the third trimester. She can blink her eyes and now has lashes. She is developing neurons in her brain and fat on her body. One of which she'll be thankful for when she's an adult. The other of which she will lament but will still choose to eat her body weight in Christmas cookies. If she's anything like me, that is.

I do not look ahead to the next week. I want to, desperately, but having some restraint and delaying gratification means that I have something to look forward to every week. I stare at her picture on my refrigerator. So little time. So much time. Depending on how I look at it.

It was exactly two months ago that I opened the email from my social worker. A brief synopsis of the situation. So many reasons not to move forward. At least 30,000 of them. Plus a few more. Like, STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN WITH NO BABY STUFF TO SPEAK OF. And also, I'D LIKE TO OWN A HOME AGAIN SOMEDAY!

I said this very thing to my friend. I was laughing and shrugging my shoulders as if to say, "C'est la vie" That's life.  We lay out our plans and they involve owning a home with a white picket fence and two or three kids that don't cost a collective $80,000 to bring into our family. And then God flips it all on its head. It's like I walk up to Him holding my life's plan scribbled on a piece of lined paper and He just smiles, pats me on the shoulder, and pulls out an incredible blueprint. "This is what I have for you..." He says. And sometimes I realize that I have my priorities all confused. Sometimes I forget that the Bible provides ample commentary on the blessing of children but none on owning your own home.

My friend looked me straight in the eye and said, "Yes, 20 years from now I'm sure you'll look back and say, 'I should have bought a house before I had those kids.'" Obviously, she's right. I wouldn't trade my children for anything in the world.

It's been two months since I first found out she existed.

And we have another 12 weeks to go--give or take. The suspense, y'all, is killing me.

Thankfully, I have a whole bunch of fundraising to occupy my time.

My friend, Renee, thought of a creative way to help us raise funds. The following are her words, not mine. (Well, the red ones are mine.) I don't usually call myself, "one of the greatest people on this earth." I think she has me confused with someone else. Here's her idea...

"I have a friend. Our little boys have played together. She's one of the greatest people on this earth, (there it is...the confusion with someone else) in my humble opinion, and she and her husband are GREAT parents (oh boy. I've got her completely fooled!) who love the Lord with all their hearts. They are adopting for the 2nd time, their first baby girl, and their third kiddo. They need $30,000 to bring her home. (Thanks to the crazy, amazing generosity of our friends, family, and total strangers, we now need approximately 19,500!) and her soon to be big brothers are SO excited!!! Understatement of the year. (Century, maybe.)

So they are asking everyone they know to donate $1. Just a buck. There is NO ONE I know who can't do that. And they're asking everyone they know to share their story. Heck, that's easier than the ice bucket challenge! (Truth. You had to buy that ice and record yourself and donate money and it was...a process. This. This is easy. Just One Dollar. And you can even make it tax deductible if you want to.)

So here's their story click right here (Seriously. Do it. Just click that green writing. It's EASY.)  And (in similar ice bucket challenge fashion) I challenge 10 friends to donate and share and tag 10 of their friends. If everyone participates, this process only has to be repeated 5 times in order for my friends to be fully funded. Let's bring this baby girl home!" (Yes! Please!)

If you have a Facebook account, please consider tagging friends and asking them to give one dollar. You can also email people, tell them face to face, send them a letter, a smoke signal, Morse code, whatever. Tell your small groups, your pastors, your neighborhood grocer, mall Santa. Just help us spread the word. I continue to be completely floored by the outpouring of support we've received. I cannot believe the work God is doing. It's amazing and humbling to stand aside and watch Him work. We're a third of the way there! Please, please help our story spread so that we can continue to fund this adoption!

P.S. You can also click on the link in the side bar to buy Aaron's album! Now through the end of the month, the proceeds will go to funding Kate's adoption.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fish Baby

We have this beta fish. We bought him three years ago so, in fish years, he's got to be about 390 by now. Garrett got him as a reward when he stopped sleeping on our floor EVERY BLOOMIN' NIGHT. Last year, the fish went into some sort of hibernation mode and just stopped eating. Every day we thought it was his last but that fish just kept right on living. Spring came, he perked up, ate his body weight in beta food on a daily basis, and refused to die. This fall, he stopped eating again and entered into a state of floating in the same spot, all day, every day. We still offer him food because, if he dies of starvation, we want it to be on him. Not us.

This morning I asked Garrett if he'd fed the fish. He said he'd tried. A few moments later he informed me of the following.

Garrett: Mom, having a sister might be a lot like having a fish. You know, it's super hard.

Me: It's super hard having a fish? (Forgive my confusion but the fish stays where he's put. We always know where he is. He requires a bit of food--except in the winter when he goes on a self-proclaimed fast. He needs his bowl cleaned out every few weeks but I clean it out and only require minimal assistance from the fish's owner. That fish is not overly difficult.)

Garrett: Yeah. Feeding him...(his voice trailed off)

I just stood there, staring for a few moments. I might have blinked several times rapidly. It was an auto response from my brain. It was so tired trying to process this comparison of a baby and a fish that the extreme confusion filtered out my eyes in quick blinks.

Yeah, Buddy. Having a baby and having a fish is pretty much the exact same level of responsibility. The baby will totally just stay in one place. In a bowl. On your dresser. She also won't need to be fed during the winter months. We can leave her when we go on vacation and just ask a friend to stop by to offer her food every once in a while. Best of all, she'll be completely silent all the time. Yeah. Babies and fish are COMPLETELY THE SAME. How has it taken me this long to realize it?

Friday, December 12, 2014

She Has a Name

Here's the problem. I take the job of naming children VERY seriously. Too seriously, probably. But it's a BIG deal to saddle a kid with a name for a lifetime. I've talked before about all the rules I have for naming children. Don't start yelling at me when you realize that you've broken all my rules. They aren't YOUR rules, they're mine. They don't apply to YOU. They only apply to me.

1. At least one of the names must be biblical. I like to include my faith in the naming of my kids. My deepest desire is that my children will confess that Jesus is Lord and live a life pleasing to Him. I want to pass a piece of my own faith down to them through their names. That being said, I don't want it to be overt, obnoxious, or bizarre. I was totally kidding in my Bible study the other night when I said I was going to name her Beth Shittah. TOTALLY KIDDING.

2. At least one of the names must be a family name. I really like passing names on as a way of honoring those who have gone before us and sharing a piece of our family's heritage with our children. In my family, my brother is Jon. So is my father and my grandfather. So, also, was my great-grandfather. I think it might have even extended a generation or two past that. We decided to make it Garrett's middle name, although we added an "H" because, being that it's in the middle, I thought it would get misspelled all the time if we didn't have it there. Matthew shares his middle name, David, with his dad. And his other middle name, Eric, with his father.

These are definitely the most difficult rules to follow. I mean, you run out of great options for family names pretty quickly, especially with the cycling of names. For example, while Betty was a great name when my grandmother was a kid, I'm just not going to use it in 2015.

Other rules include NO RHYMING and SAY THE NAME ALOUD FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE SURE IT SOUNDS GOOD! The first and last name have to flow independently of the middle name but the entire thing also has to flow when the middle name is included. It's also important that the name sounds good for both a little child and an old man/woman. There are plenty of cutesy names out there for little girls sporting pig tails but when she's old and wrinkly and has grandchildren will it still work? This also goes the other way. In my example above, Grandma Betty sounds great but an infant has a hard time pulling that one off.

Another rule is that we can't have any names that end in B. That's because our last name starts with a B. While I LOVE and ADORE the name Caleb, I don't have my own Caleb because, when said with my last name, the names blend together and it would have sounded like I'd named my son Kayla. That's just no good.

I'm sure I'm missing some (like I said, there are A LOT!) but I can only think of one more. The meaning is incredibly important to me. This is not because I just like having rules. It's because, in the Bible, what the name means is usually more important than what the name actually is. And, I'm not saying that whatever the meaning of our child's name is will somehow dictate what they'll be like but, in the Bible, that was often the case. So I'm not naming my kid something that means Little Hellion or Doormat or Fire-Breathing Dragon.

Garrett John means Spear Rule, God is Gracious.
Matthew David Eric means Gift of God, Beloved, Always Ruler.

So you can see that finding a name that fits all the criteria is a bit difficult. We decided that we needed a boy name just in case. If the baby is born with an appendage we weren't expecting, we don't want to be staring at him wondering what the heck we're going to call him. Surprisingly, we landed on a boy name REALLY quickly. Maybe it's just because we've had so much practice. So...if, come March, we have a third son, we'll call him Will. His name will be...

William Joseph. William is my dad's middle name. We both love Joseph's story in the Bible (O.T. Joseph, although N.T. Joseph is pretty excellent too). His name would mean Strong willed warrior, God will increase. And I LOVE it and I give all of you permission to use it when my daughter is born.

Now, on to the girl name. After thought and discussion and debate, we landed on two girl names that I've been circling for weeks. Troy gave me final say because I'd done the same for him when we couldn't decide between two boy names when I was pregnant with Garrett. I love them both equally and it has been VERY hard for me to choose. I KNOW I have time but choosing a name is one of the things we can do while we wait and I feel like she needs an identity. That being said, I reserve the right (like any of you could stop me) to change her name to the other one (or to Beth Shittah) anytime between now and when she's actually born. I mean, I could take one look at her and she could howl, "That's not my name!"

So...if, come March, we find ourselves with a daughter and she doesn't look at me and scream that she doesn't like it, we'll call her Kate. Her name will be...

Kathryn Ella-Grace. She will be known as Kate but Kathryn was my great-grandmother and is also my great aunt, both of whom I dearly love(d). Ella was part of Troy's great-grandma's name. And, nothing is more important than the grace of God extended to us. I like that even though she'll be called Kate, all three kids will have seven letter first names. As for definition, Ella can mean one of a bajillion different things depending on what language or culture it comes from--it seems to be a name in just about all of them. My favorite is that, in English, it was originally derived from the name Ellen which means Light. So, her name means Pure, Light, Free and unmerited favor of God.

There you have it. There's her name. Unless she's born and she just really looks like a Beth Shittah.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four Weeks Since the Fundraiser Launch

It was exactly four weeks ago that we launched our JUST ONE DOLLAR fundraising campaign.

STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND LOOK AT THE SIDEBAR. IF YOU'RE READING THIS THROUGH ANOTHER WEBSITE, CLICK THROUGH TO MY BLOG AND LOOK AT THE SIDEBAR! We are almost 1/3 funded in just four weeks! I am absolutely blown away by the generosity of each and every one of you who has partnered with us.

How have we raised all this money? People like you giving us JUST ONE DOLLAR. Or ten. Or a hundred.

I am writing down the names of every single person who donates a dollar or more to our fundraising efforts. EVERY name is going to be printed and hung in our baby's room as a reminder of the village that came together to bring her home. She will forever have access to the names on that list. When a donation comes through, I pray and thank God for you and your generous heart and then I add your name to the list.

We have well over a hundred different individuals on that list so far. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, old friends, new friends, complete strangers, friends of friends, and children. I know that most of our friends and family members do not have a lot of money just lying around. I don't know anyone who routinely rolls around in their gold coins but I do know friends and family members who have ONE DOLLAR to spare.

One and a half pieces of Little Caesar's pizza.

Less than a Costco hot dog and drink.

Not even close to a gallon of gas.

One of those school fundraiser candy bars.

As this year draws to a close, if you need a tax deductible donation (and who doesn't?) please consider making this your cause. You can donate at Adopt Together, get your write-off and help us bring her home. Just click here.

You can also donate using Paypal and the email address familyfishbowl@hotmail.com

OR you can email me at the above address and I will send you our physical address.

Please continue to share our video. We are SO blessed. We praise God every day for His provision. We also know that we have a long way to go.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Almost Missed It

I couldn't remember when it was that I thought God had revealed to me that we'd have a daughter. I've scoured prayer journals and not found it. It was almost as if the secret was too big to write down. As though putting it in print would somehow ruin it. I couldn't remember that I'd ever blogged so much as a word about it. I was just looking for something else on my blog though and I discovered this post, written on May 8, 2013.

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HELP ME FIND IT

It was probably a year ago.

I was in prayer, about what I don't remember. I simply (and not so simply at all) felt Him speak into my soul. It had nothing to do with what I was saying and I felt thrown. My eyes flew open and I stared at the wall. Asking for clarification, I got nothing in return. Just a five word sentence that, if truly from the Lord--and not down deep in the crevasses of my own mind--would change everything.

And it wasn't something I wanted.

Not at that moment. Maybe not ever. My world was turning just fine and this promise seemed impossible.

"When?" I asked because a time table seemed necessary.

"One day."

That's how God is with me. "Hang on, you little control freak. Chill out. Live a little without knowing a lot." Because I am mostly convinced that, in Heaven, I'm referred to as "The Little Control Freak" and whenever that moniker is uttered, the angels (and probably Peter) nod because they know exactly who He's talking about. And also, sometimes I think God is Hawaiian and He wants me to take off my watch, burn my calendar and wiggle my toes in the sand for a few minutes.

I've spent a year wondering if it was truly from God, weighing whether to speak it aloud or wait on it, and then contemplating what to do about it. Because sometimes He tells us something and we really need to take action. If He called me to be a nurse I wouldn't sit around and wait for a degree to come ring my doorbell. But sometimes He tells us something and all we have to do is wait for Him. Sarah conceived and bore the child of promise but not until after she took matters into her own hands, threw her handmaiden at her husband and screwed a lot of things up.

I don't want to be Sarah. But I understand her desire to rush the blessing because now...

It is something I want.

But only if it's really from God. Only in His timing. Only if He reveals the exact same thing to my husband because we're in this thing together.

Discerning the Lord's will and discerning His timetable aren't always the easiest things.

The other night I was driving alone. I prayed that God would give me clarity. I switched on the radio and I heard the Sidewalk Prophets singing, "If there's a road I should walk, help me find it. If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment. Whatever Your will, whatever Your will, can You help me find it?" I'd never heard the song before and I suppose you can accurately guess that I burst into tears.

Just the day before, I had been reading Angie Smith's book, What Women Fear and I came to a section where she was talking about conquering our fears. She writes, "Trust me, daughter. I have beautiful things in store for you..." Then, just a few sentences later she says, "I don't want to miss it, Lord..."

And so. Here I am. Waiting on the Lord. Calling out His name. Drawing ever close in prayer and hoping for revelation. If He leads me through it without calling me to it, nothing much will change. And if He calls me to it, there will be fear and second guessing. But there will be blessing.

And oh how I don't want to miss it.

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It's easy to live in fear when you've been through a messy adoption. The list of what-ifs is long and scary. It would have been easier to say, "No, Lord, I can't do this again. It's just much too risky. It's too crazy. It's not my plan." I was within one second of deleting that email on October 18. You guys, I almost missed it.

He called me to it more than two and half years ago. I asked Him to make it evident and obvious. I almost missed it. He made this one so clear that to have turned away would have meant that I learned nothing from the book of Jonah. When God calls us to something it is nothing short of sin to walk away from it. Even if it seems risky. Even if it seems outrageous. Even if it seems impossible. And still, I almost missed it.

I am so thankful that He halted my finger in mid air as it hovered over the delete button. I am so thankful that He threw every door open before we even twisted the doorknob. I am so thankful that He didn't let me miss it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

THE TORTILLA IS ON FIRE!

I was making fish tacos, is the thing.

We needed to eat AND get in the car to go to our life group AND go over a fire escape plan with our boys so that Garrett could check that off his scouting list. Also, so that my children don't burn up if the house catches fire. But mostly so he could check it off of his scouting list. We were multitasking, is what I'm trying to say.

I had the fish baking, the beans cooking, and a tortilla browning on the burner. Troy was busy walking the boys around the house, quizzing them on what they should do if there is smoke, where to meet once they managed to get outside, and how not to grab the door knob if they suspect that there might be a fire which is really quite hysterical because my children keep their bedroom door WIDE open for fear of what might happen to them if they dared close it at night. Goblins and ghouls and ax murderers. Finally, we all came together in the kitchen and were about to switch subjects when Garrett started frantically pointing and yelling, "MOM-UH-UH-UH-MOM-MOM-MOM!"

Thankfully, I speak eight-year-old and I realized right away that I'd forgotten that darned tortilla. I turned around to see smoke billowing from the underside of the flattened flour disk. That poor tortilla was all bubbled and brown on top and the edges were curling up where the smoke was seeping through. In one quick move, I darted toward the stove, grabbed a spatula and flipped that thing right off the burner. It was a grotesque and distorted version of itself, a blackened mess.

Troy ran to fan the smoke detector.

I thanked the scout for alerting me to the near fire we had on our stove top. Had he not realized it, the extinguisher would certainly have needed to make an appearance. Then I explained that, in the future, when there is a pressing issue that might very well turn itself into a full blown emergency, "MOM THE TORTILLA IS ON FIRE!" would be better than the repeated stammer of, "MOM UH MOM UH!"

For a bit of trivia, the only other time I've tried to burn down my house it involved a tostada shell. I might need to quit cooking Mexican food.

Still, I do commend my parenting skills. A lesser mother would not risk burning her home down for the perfect object lesson. Also, again with the reality show. This time I can actually see the shot. The camera pans in and focuses on the smoking tortilla while the family stands, two feet away, discussing what to do in case of a fire.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Empress

I think I might have actually driven my father crazy when my parents were visiting, what with all the names I kept throwing out as possible options. I'm a little crazy. I've been looking up meanings of names and origin of names and saying names to see if they sound good with Garrett and Matthew. I drove my own husband so nuts that he finally said, "Just pick one. I don't even care anymore." And he does care. He really does. He means, "Just pick one of the ones that we've been considering around and around in circles upon circles upon circles for the past month."

I didn't think we'd get this opportunity. We were looking to adopt a waiting child and waiting children come with names. Names like Arizona or Mercedes or Myshinee. And you're looking at those names thinking, "Well, that's her name. That's what she's been called for a year or five and so...there you go. No changing it now." I thought we were done with the baby naming business. I fully intend to be done with it after this because if there is anything I know about myself it's that I could probably keep doing this forever. You know how some people are pet people and they let their kid keep every bug, every lizard, every stray cat that walks into the neighborhood? I'm not those people. I'm the kind of person who would fly all over the world bringing home children that need a home. Thankfully, the Lord did not choose to make me wealthy in the financial sense because there'd come a time when those thirteen children would all be sobbing at the table over their spelling homework and I would straight up drop my basket.

Anyway.

I bounced a zillion combinations off my mom. She wants me to pick one already so that she can call her something. No one really thinks that Baby Girl has any sticking power. 

But it's weird to name a kid that's inside of someone else, that belongs to someone else. Our children are never really ours, regardless of whether or not we gave birth to them, but adoption is a weird mix of utmost blessing and heartbreaking tragedy and, for me, that fact is never really more evident than when another mother is nurturing and caring for the child she'll deliver into my arms. 

We had four weeks from the time we knew about Matthew until he was born. There wasn't a moment to waste. The kid needed a name. His mother asked me what it was going to be so that she could start calling him that. This time is different. We have an entire trimester to go. I think it is because we have longer that the decision feels heavier.

Yesterday, Matthew climbed in the car after school and suggested Mary Poppins. While I have nothing against Mary, I'm fairly, if not entirely, opposed to Poppins. He was pretty dead set and suggested it again at dinner. We let him down gently. It was still better than Tree Guy which is what a toddler Garrett wanted to name Matthew.

On Wednesday, I had this conversation with my mom...

And, I can't think of a situation where I'm torn up enough that that doesn't make me laugh. I can't even SAY it without breaking into a choking fit of giggles. Honest to goodness, if my husband dies young and leaves a widow and three small children, and we are all sitting in that front row wearing black and sobbing and someone takes the microphone and says, "Remember when Troy suggested Empress Narwhal and you texted it to your mom?" I might have to stop my grief for a New York minute and laugh the heck out of that one. 

Empress Narwhal could stick, no? My friend once told me about someone named Georgia Peach Pickers. Another friend told me of a sibling set of three named Crystal, Shanda and Lear.

In any case, I'm down to two. And I have a slight leaning. So all of that Empress Narwhal and Mary Poppins tomfoolery to say, maybe I'll make an announcement soon. So stay tuned.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gingerbread Drama

A little background. Matthew's kindergarten teacher does a fun literature activity in the month of December. The class reads the story of the Gingerbread Man. They put a gingerbread man in the oven. The man "runs away" and friends and family members send postcards to the school stating that they've seen the cookie running around in various places. Then the class marks a map with all the places the cookie has been. It's a fun activity and the kids love it.

It was on Monday that the gingerbread man disappeared from the oven. Yesterday, I subbed in Matthew's class and those kids were super hyped up on all the I absolutely must find the gingerbread man and surely he left the school and went directly to my own home and I must capture him. No joke, they spent all of recess searching through wood chips for the escapee.

Today, right after I picked Matthew up from school, I was wrapping some presents. He was occupied cutting and drawing on an empty wrapping paper roll. Suddenly, he jumped up and said, "Can we go on a walk right now?" Apparently, he'd been drawing a map of our neighborhood. He wanted to go in search of the gingerbread man. It couldn't wait. I asked him what he planned to do if he found the gingerbread man. "I made a fake gingerbread mama and I'm going to trick him. Then I'm going to grab him and put him in my backpack and take him to my teacher right away."

Wow.

Five minutes later we were bundled up in warm jackets. The dog was on his leash--we'd decided that having a dog along would help us sniff out the cookie. Matthew had his map, which was curled at both ends so that he could pull it open like a scroll whenever he needed to consult it. "It might be a long walk, mom. This could take awhile."

He twisted and turned around our neighborhood instructing me to follow him this way and that. I could see that this was, indeed, going to be a long walk. I was a little hungry and my ears were getting cold. So I did what any sensible mother would do in the same situation. I howled that I'd spotted him and took off at a dead sprint. He's easily tricked and started yelling that he saw him too. I stopped at a series of bushes and said, "I think he went in here." As we rustled through the leaves, I had every intention of saying something like, "Well, he must have got away. I guess it's time to head home for some lunch." Instead, the dog started sniffing like crazy. No doubt another dog before him had watered this particular bush.

"HE SMELLS HIM!" Matthew screamed. "Where is he, Beck? Help me find him!" Just then, Beck turned and lifted his leg. In all the excitement, Matthew decided that precise moment was a perfect time to jump directly in front of the dog to resume his search. And that dog marked the jean clad leg of my precious kindergartner.

There we stood. One woman. One dog. One five-year-old with a very wet leg. "Let's go change your pants," I told Matthew.

"NO! We haven't found that gingerbread man yet!" he wailed.

"Our search is going to have to wait."

Once again, I do not understand how we don't have our own show. A kindergartner making a decoy gingermama and getting peed on by a golden retriever would surely be network gold.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

100 Days

She's due in 100 days.

That seems like forever.

And tomorrow.

All at once.

There is so much money to raise. So much paperwork to push. So much room to paint.

But I've lived this life long enough to know that when 100 days seems like a long time, it generally still flies.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Baby

On the one hand, there is SO SO much I have to accomplish in the next 15 weeks. There are FBI clearances and home study updates and fundraising and conversations with lawyers.

On the other hand, I have no idea how I'm going to wait 15 weeks for this baby who, incidentally, has a name if it happens to come out with an extra appendage but no official name yet if she's actually the girl she's supposed to be. I think we're pretty nailed down on her first name but there are two girl names I love and I'm trying to make sure we come up with the perfect combination.

Plus I have A LOT of baby naming rules. My husband makes fun of me for these rules but I have informed him that we are not the Duggars. We will not be coming up with 20 names for our children. It's important that the names I do get to saddle kids with have met a strict criteria. So it's entirely possible that she'll live her entire life as Baby Girl because I'm being ridiculously indecisive.

When she's in time out she can look at me and say, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

My mom is here and there were good black Friday deals so Baby has three new outfits. Her biggest brother was looking at them and audibly squealing over their cuteness. Is it too early for a paper chain countdown?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Miracle

All I want for Thanksgiving is to be 25% funded. It's A LOT to ask. I know. But the thing is, if you take a look at the side bar, we're only $967 away! Twice in the past two weeks, we've had friends and family donate over $1,000 in just one day, so I know it's possible. Do you have JUST ONE DOLLAR to spare? We've had children donate. We've received donations from strangers that have never met us and probably never will. We've had acquaintances send money. We've had family members and good friends partner with us to bring this baby home. Her due date is coming in 15 weeks. You, too, can be a part of the miracle.

You can send money via Paypal to familyfishbowl@hotmail.com OR you can make a tax deductible donation to www.adopttogether.org/loriandtroy

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Tale of Two Outfits

I'm not one to pray for parking spaces. It's not that I don't think God can handle finding a parking space for me but I'd rather spend my time asking God to cure my friend's cancer or grant me wisdom or patience. No, not that last one. I try not to pray for that either.

Before we told the boys about the baby, I was on a mission to find something that said something about being a little sister or a big brother. As I did a quick walk through the baby section at Wal-Mart, I was hoping to find a bib or onesie in that aisle with all the, well, bibs and onesies. There was "Thank heaven for little girls" and "Grandma's little angel" bibs but nothing saying anything about being a little sister. I really didn't have time to scour the racks of clothing.

So I totally thought, Well, He's made everything else abundantly clear with this adoption... And then I seriously prayed that I would be able to find something.

Then, five seconds later, I walked straight up to this...
It was on the end, just staring at me. It wasn't hanging in the right place. In fact, I never did see a single other one like it. Obviously I bought it. The boys opened it and realized they were going to get a baby sister and it was just perfect. We are really trying to save our every penny right now and I hadn't bought anything else. Not anything else. I have shown GREAT restraint, I assure you.

Yesterday, I needed to get a gift for a friend's baby's first birthday. I texted my friend and told her that while I was supposed to be shopping for HER daughter, I'd been distracted. See, I'm totally in to wearing long sweaters over leggings even though, for quite some time, I swore I would NOT get caught up in the leggings trend. So when I saw this minuscule long sweater over itty bitty leggings, well, I decided she needed something for Christmas.


Later in the day, Matthew saw it and asked if it was for the baby. I confirmed that it was. "I know why it has hearts on it," he told me.

"Why?" I asked him.

"Because we love her so much!"

Yeah. We're all pretty smitten already.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In Just Six Days...

If you follow this blog in a feed, you might not know that there is a space in the sidebar that shows what has been donated to us. You might not know that, though our video has only been posted for six days, we have raised $5626!!! That is 18% of our estimated costs to finalize this adoption. I am blown away by the generosity of family members eagerly awaiting their new granddaughter or their niece or great niece. I am amazed by the incredible donations by friends--some that I see on a regular basis and some that I haven't seen in years. And I simply cannot believe the money that has been donated by people I've never even met.

Please know that every donation, from one dollar to one thousand dollars, is deeply appreciated. I have put the names of every person who has given to our fund into a word document and I plan to frame it and hang it in our baby's room.

Today we were blessed by several very generous donations. We wouldn't be able to do this without the blessing of my parents and I am so thankful for them. We received money from my aunt and money from a friend of my parents. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

There was a donation today that caught me completely off guard. I began subbing for Garrett's kindergarten teacher almost two years ago. She continued to call me to fill in for her last year. This year, she's Matthew's teacher and she still let's me come in and sub. Today she had parent teacher conferences scheduled all day so she asked me to fill in. We were talking this morning before the kids came in and she handed me an envelope. "This is for your daughter."

Matthew hadn't said anything.

She'd seen our video linked on someone's Facebook page. I'm not friends with her on Facebook and I'm not friends with the person whose page she saw it on. You guys! Of all people, she would be in a prime position to say, "OH MY GOODNESS YOU SHOULD NOT ADD ANYMORE LITTLE PEOPLE INTO YOUR WORLD!" She's had BOTH my kids and she still handed me a check to help us have another one. Later, when I saw what she'd given, I almost burst into tears. It was quite generous.

She's a teacher.

I've been getting stunned-blessed like this on a daily basis. There's the family from our previous church whose elementary aged daughter is making cake pops to help us raise funds. There are the people we have never met and probably never will. There are friends and family and church members. It's humbling to ask for money like this. It's humbling to see you responding.

We praise God for every dollar that has been sent our way. Thank you for partnering with us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Some Clarification

Earlier today, someone very close to me (as in, there is no one in the world I share more DNA with than this person) shared our JUST ONE DOLLAR video on Facebook. Not long after, someone he's friends with on the FB posted a comment stating that it bothers her when people pay to adopt when there are so many kids in the foster care system. If it wasn't in response to our fundraising campaign and current situation, it was sure a mighty coincidence.

We knew when we went public with this that we would open ourselves up to a lot of scrutiny. It happens. Five years ago my blog landed on a vicious anti-adoption page and I received hate mail and nasty comments from people who had NO IDEA what the real situation was. I didn't respond because nothing I said would have made a difference. I didn't use my blog to explain case law or psychological evaluations and how important they both were in regards to Matthew's adoption. I'd like to think I've grown up in five years and ignorance won't bother me anymore.

But, though I know the particular Facebook comment maker will likely never stumble upon this corner of the blogosphere, I do want to clear up a few common misconceptions. Some broad and some specific to our situation.

1. You always have to "pay" for adoption. There are legal fees. There are social workers who need to be able to put food on the table. There are home studies and court documents and clearances and adoption always costs money.

2. There are SO many kids in the foster system. They are wholly deserving of love. There are also kids in orphanages who should not have to grow up there. And then there are unborn babies whose mothers are choosing adoption for a reason. There is no right way to adopt. God loves every orphan. He loves every child in the system. He loves every unborn baby. So also should we.

3. Our plan WAS to adopt a waiting child. We inquired on dozens. For whatever reason (God's plan) none of the situations we inquired on ended with us having a child placed in our home. I won't go into detail regarding Baby Girl's parents but I will tell you that her mother was placed in foster care at age 5 and aged out, never having been adopted. When we heard that story, our hearts were broken because that was exactly why we'd wanted to adopt a waiting child. So that one less kid had to experience that kind of pain and suffering. We struggled to decide to move forward with an infant adoption because we know that there are so many people willing to adopt babies and a select few willing to adopt older children. But, it was so evident that we were being called to this particular baby and, in the end, in a roundabout way, we are helping a waiting child. She's not a kid anymore, but she's chosen us to love her unborn baby and by being there to say to her, "We will love you and honor you as this baby's mother," we feel like, in some tiny way, we're there for a waiting child--all grown up.

4. We are estimating this adoption to be about $30,000. It's a loose estimate based on the fact that we really don't know how expensive it will be because legal fees are rather unpredictable. That being said, we do know a few things. We know that we owe $13,750 to our facilitator. That covers a multitude of various things including paperwork, accompanying mothers to doctor's appointments, ongoing emotional support for the birth mother, coordinating the gathering of important signatures, matching adoptive couples to mothers, etc, etc, etc. One thing we know for certain is that this isn't a money making business for them. It's a ministry. We know that we owe approximately $9,000 to help with living expenses for the mother while she is pregnant and for a short time after. The remaining estimated costs will go toward legal fees. To retain our lawyer here in Utah to facilitate the adoption on this end and to retain attorneys in California--where the parents are--to facilitate the adoption on that end and counsel the parents.

IT'S A LOT OF MONEY. It is. When all is said and done, between fertility treatments with Garrett, adoption costs with Matthew and adoption costs for Not Currently Named Baby Girl, we estimate (praying against any unforeseen fees this time around) that we will have spent about $80,000 to have our three children. (FYI: That is about the same amount that my four years at a private Christian institution in the early 2000's cost. I'd have so much more money if I was childless and uneducated. But my life wouldn't be as rich.) I don't regret a single dime given to bring Garrett and Matthew into my life and I know, when she's home in my arms, that I won't regret anything we give to bring our daughter home.

Families are built in a myriad of ways. My heart lies not just with the orphan or the foster child or the unborn baby, but with them all. Because every single child deserves a home. We have been led to this little one and so we shall move forward. If the way we choose to do it is bothersome, I would encourage you to do it a different way. Heaven knows there is not a shortage of children to love.

To those who have shared in our incredible joy over this situation, those who have squealed with me over ultrasound pictures, those who have given one dollar (or a thousand), those who are praying, THANK YOU. Please know that we couldn't do this without your support and we love you all so much.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Katoikeo

Life is chaotic. We run from one activity to the next, sometimes never taking the time to quiet our souls and reflect. Do you want to slow down? Calm your nerves? Change the atmosphere in your house? Soothe your soul? I have the pleasure of offering you an incredible musical experience that is designed to do those very things.

My good friend and incredible musician, Aaron Gayden, created Katoikeo, a gorgeous instrumental album. Filled with beautiful melodies, Katoikeo is perfect for background music at a dinner party or event, unwinding at the end of the day, or entering into a time of worship. The album is simply stunning and Aaron's talent shines brightly through.

You can purchase individual songs for just 0.99 cents, download the album for $9.99 or buy the CD for $12.00. 

Aaron has generously offered "Just One Dollar" all proceeds from Katoikeo from now until the end of 2014. So if you'd like to support our fundraising efforts with something tangible and you'd like to listen to the amazing Aaron Gayden, please consider Katoikeo. Just click here!




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Three Things

Cute Kid #1 Quote:

The morning after we told the boys about their baby sister, Garrett climbed into bed with me and announced, "My life is so much better than it was yesterday." Yeah...biggest brother is excited.

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Cute Kid #2 Quote:

Matthew came home from school on Wednesday, pulled out the dust pan and started sweeping the floor. "I'm cleaning the house. If a baby girl is going to come live here, the house should look nice."

"That's so nice, buddy," I said. "But she's not going to be born for four months."

"I know. I'll clean it again. It should be nice for her." Heart. Melt.

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Cute Kid #3 Who Doesn't Yet Speak Fact

The baby is the size of a spaghetti squash. (A very thin spaghetti squash.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

All My Dollars

To donate, click on Adoption 2015 or watch our video here.

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Yesterday, I received a donation from someone who saw our video via a mutual friend's Facebook page. I've never met this woman. I don't know her or her children or anything about their family. But they gave us $20.00. She left a comment when she donated but has since told me just a little more through Facebook.

Her five-year-old twin boys had seen our video too and one of them had brought his "pingky pank" to his mom. "Mom, my brother and I have a lot of money in our pingky panks, right?"

"Yah, you do, Buddy. Why?"

"They can have all my dollars mama. That way their baby can come home!"

I am not one of these cry-me-a-river types. In fact, the other day, at one of my boys soccer games, a little girl tripped and fell flat and Lord have mercy you'd have thought she'd been mortally maimed. She sobbed and carried on and they had to stop the game so that her parents could come and coddle her to near death. I was having none of it. I was sitting next to my husband muttering about how they should, "Get her off the field..." and how, "no daughter of mine is ever going to be that big of a weenie." So...likely...famous last words. For sure this little girl of mine will be as delicate as they come. Anyway. My point is that I'm not much of a crier. But when I read the comment she left me, I lost it.

Because in the heart of that five-year-old was the entire point of James 1:27. "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world." HCSB

In our day, this verse looks different than it did in James's day. Certainly there are orphans who need families. There are also kids in foster care and unborn infants whose parents are looking for just the right family for their baby. Sometimes, the birth parents themselves are the "orphans" and need to know that their child will have a different story than they did.

Not everyone is called to adopt. It is an incredible blessing and an amazing way to build a family but it is not a path for everyone to walk. Still, we are called to care for "orphans" and widows. You can live out this verse by helping those who are called to adoption. You, too, can have the heart of that precious five-year-old. I'm not asking for "all your dollars" but would you be able to spare just one?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

JUST ONE DOLLAR

We have four months to raise what we estimate to be about $30,000. That's A LOT of money, y'all. But do you know what isn't a lot of money? ONE DOLLAR.

JUST ONE DOLLAR.

One dollar will buy you a limp looking burger from a fast food establishment. It'll get you a candy bar or a quarter cup of fancy coffee from Starbucks. One dollar, depending on what part of the country you live in, might get you 1/3 of a gallon of gas.

If you partner with us, your one dollar will help place a baby in a forever home. Would you consider giving JUST ONE DOLLAR to support our adoption?




Share this video with your friends and your family. Join the movement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"We're Having a BABY?"

Yesterday we told the boys they were getting a little sister. If you know Garrett, you know that he gets very subdued when he's surprised. The looks that flashes across his face when he finally reads exactly what he's getting is priceless. And Matthew's excitement is absolutely infectious.



The baby is biracial and should be a beautiful blend of my two boys. However, since she could land anywhere on the color spectrum, we don't want to speculate. After we filmed them, we turned the camera off and explained the risks associated with adoption and answered a lot of the questions they had.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's a...

On Sunday, November 2, we flew to Oregon to visit with Troy's family and my friend, Kristin. On Monday evening, I was sitting at my sister-in-law's table when I received a phone call. The ultrasound had been moved up to 2:00 the next day. THE NEXT DAY! I ONLY HAD TO WAIT ONE MORE DAY TO FIND OUT! Unfortunately, I was picking Kristin up at her work at 2:00 the next day. Unfortunate for this series of events, not unfortunate that I got to spend time with Kristin. I just didn't want to be all, "HI, FRIEND! I HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN THREE YEARS BUT I REALLY NEED TO TAKE THIS CALL AND THEN I WILL BE OVERLY EXCITED OR PRETTY DISAPPOINTED! ISN'T THAT AWESOME OF ME?" I just figured I'd dump the whole story on her really quickly so that she'd be up to speed when my phone rang.

That night, Troy and I climbed in bed and prayed for a whole heaping helping of the Lord's will.

And then I had one of the most (if not the most) disturbing dreams of my whole life. I dreamed that I was in some hospital somewhere and a nurse handed me an adorable baby boy. Everything was tiny and small and baby-like except that he had a full sized adult male appendage. It wasn't shocking in the dream. In the dream, it was supposed to look like that. But, upon waking up, the image was one that is not soon to be forgotten. I logically deduced that this meant the baby was a boy. Whether or not its appendage signified any prophetic word about his health was suspect.

What? You mean you don't think this was the logical interpretation of such a dream? You think I was leaping to conclusions. Whatever. Fine. Don't judge.

We packed up and headed to the mall. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law went one way. The rest of us went another. At 11:50 I felt my phone buzz. Pulling it out of my pocket I saw that I'd missed a call from my contact person. But I had a text. "Call me when you have a second I have a quick question."

I was puzzled. I crinkled my forehead and told Troy I needed to call her. He sent his dad into Barnes & Noble with our boys. I dialed.

"I'm so sorry. I'm in a mall and I didn't hear my phone," I said.

"Oh, that's okay. I just have a quick question for you."

"Okay, what's up?" I practiced my nonchalant-I'm-not-waiting-on-pins-and-needles-for-you-to-call-me-back-in-a-couple-hours-with-important-details-at-all voice.

"Are you ready for pink and tutus?"

Y'all! I WAS SO PREPARED FOR HER TO TELL ME IT WAS A BOY! SO PREPARED. (A boy with an oversized part, even.) So I said, "Whhhhhyyyy?" Because, like, what if she was being overly optimistic? What if she just really needed to know if I support the ballet? The mother's appointment wasn't scheduled for another two hours, after all.

"It's a girl!" she said.

And there I was in the mall with the doofiest grin you'd ever have seen and Troy was sitting on a bench with his head in his hands because he'd seen my grin and, surely, he was thinking of shot guns and weddings and being broke forevermore. AND I WAS WITH MY HUSBAND WHEN I GOT THE CALL BECAUSE SHE'D GONE IN EARLY!

"IS SHE HEALTHY?" Troy finally stammered from his place of wondering why his little finger was already starting to hurt.

And, yes, according to the doctor SHE is a "perfectly healthy baby girl."

(FYI: I cannot handle her adorable little crossed legs. They are the cutest things that have ever happened to the world. Tied, of course, with Garrett's little toddler rump and Matthew's ears.)

She told me that they would show our letter to the mother and get back to me when they knew anything. I thought, maybe, it could be a few days. An hour later my phone rang again.

She'd said yes to us right away!

I can't stress enough the inherent risks associated with adoption. We would never fault a mother for deciding to keep her child and this could all end with our family looking exactly like it does now. THAT REALLY COULD HAPPEN and we'd cry and mourn and learn lessons and praise God in the storm. But so far, doors have flown open. The weeks have been fast and crazy. We did not go looking for this. We were looking for an inexpensive waiting child adoption. Not a crazy lot of money infant adoption. When God opens doors, I have learned to trust Him and walk through them. We do not have this money. We don't. I've been telling people that we estimate this to be about 30K and we have NoK. We wouldn't have gone looking for another expensive adoption without securing funding. But this, quite literally, dropped into my inbox. I prayed for God to bring her to us, never dreaming of it happening in quite such a dramatic way. We're going to apply for grants and go into super fundraising mode. But Gideon defeated the Midianites with 300 men, pitchers, torches and trumpets. So we can defeat this seemingly insurmountable amount of money--because God would not call us to it if He didn't intend to show Himself in a mighty way.

Will you pray? Will you join us on this journey? Will you help us bring our daughter home?

Stay tuned...

Monday, November 10, 2014

On Becoming Psychopants

The next day, I fasted and prayed that my email would be received in the spirit in which it was intended. I was worried sick and, at one point, I laid myself face down on the floor and prayed. I asked for the Lord's will and, though I'm only now disclosing this to even my own spouse, I felt the presence of the Lord. "They will wait..." I will confess, I was so afraid that I was making it up because it's what I wanted. Suddenly. Desperately. I wanted to kiss tiny fingers and smell a teensy head and cuddle three. I pictured my boys, softened by a baby. I imagined all the good things.

Suddenly, though, a peace washed over me. I knew, regardless of what happened, if we truly sought the Lord's will, doors would open and close clearly. 

The next morning, I still hadn't heard anything back. And I was becoming a legit psychopants. (Also, I might rename this blog. Ramblings of a legit psychopants.) I was driving myself nuts with the frequency at which I was checking my email. I decided that while my prayer and fasting the day before was biblical and good, it was time to stop my own madness. I went on an Internet fast. I checked my phone before I took the boys to school and I refused to look at it until I picked Matthew up from kindergarten. It was very big of me. Several hours without checking my email!!! You have no idea the sacrifice. Every time I thought of picking up my phone or opening the computer, I prayed. (Let me tell you, I think of email a lot more than I think of food. I'm sure that's not a good thing but it is what it is.)

Once I arrived home with Matthew, I sat in the garage and checked my email. THE DIRECTOR HAD READ MY EMAIL AND WANTED TO TALK TO ME! I held my breath for a few hours. She called me later that day and completely understood our hearts and where we were coming from! They were willing to wait until after the mother had an ultrasound!!! I felt a huge sense of relief rush over me. I knew that God would show us our answer.

Several days passed.

I found out that the ultrasound was scheduled for Thursday, November 6. However would I wait that long? I was thinking about it, dreaming about it, focusing on it so much. I very much believed that God had called me, that day long ago, to a daughter and I hoped this baby was a girl and that her mother would want to choose us. I mentally prepared myself, to the best of my ability, to hear either gender. We waited...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

More Than Anything

On October 18, our boys had soccer games. When they were over, we headed to the rec center to register them for a session of indoor. As we waited in line, we were talking with one of the dads of a girl on Matthew's team. Somehow, the conversation turned to babies. His youngest is three and we discussed the joys of being done with the baby/toddler/dependent/tied down/diaper/sleepless night/non verbal/stage. I might have said something about being SO thrilled to be out of that season of life. Because of course I did.

That night, I received an email.

It was from our social worker and was titled, Infant Situation.

She told us that there was a birth mother, due March 20, seeking a Christian family who already had an African American or biracial child. That's us! I thought excitedly. Because, apparently, it is not a huge jump from SO DONE WITH BABIES to HEY LET'S HAVE ONE!

I quickly read over it and, when I got to the "gender unknown" part I paused. When I got to the 24K plus legal fees part I clicked on the box to delete the email. My finger hovered over the button that would send the email to the trash can. This wasn't for us. Sure, we fit the demographic she was looking for. Sure, babies are cuddly. But we didn't have 30,000 dollars (give or take a few thousand dollars) lying around and I thought God had specifically said "daughter" and OUR BABY SHIP SAILED NEARLY SIX YEARS AGO!

But some(One)thing stopped me from tossing the email away. I should at least pray about it. And I should probably just mention it to Troy before I delete it. I set my phone down and I prayed. Then I padded my way down to the office where Troy was reviewing his sermon for the next day. I leaned against the desk chair and faced him. Then I casually read the email. "So I should just delete this, right?"

And I think you can guess what he said. "It won't hurt to inquire."

But. But. But. THE MONEY?

He's always much more faithful than I. "If God calls us to something, He'll provide the money."

So I emailed our social worker. She responded right away, even though it was after 10:00 pm. Then I contacted the person connected with the ministry that is facilitating that adoption. She responded right away, even though she lives on the east coast so it was REALLY late in her neck of the woods. As we type-chatted, I found out that this baby and the parents are in southern California. I casually mentioned that Matthew was born in Long Beach. I dropped the name of our CA attorney.

Guess what? He happens to be the attorney they use. Because of course my Utah based social worker would connect me with an east coast based woman who would work with my California lawyer. The world is big. And so small.

We decided to go ahead and draw up a dear birth mother letter and send a copy of our home study. Because, after all, what could it hurt? By the 22nd, we'd already had a conference call with the director and our contact person. The director asked us to pray about the situation and let them know. I asked how long we had to pray, thinking, oh, three or four weeks.

"Take a day, day and a half," was the response. Of course. Our lives might be forever changed but time is of the essence and we had a day and a half to discern the will of God.

We got off the phone and we STRAIGHT UP MADE A LIST OF PROS AND CONS. DID YOU HEAR ME? WE MADE A LIST OF PROS AND CONS ABOUT A BABY! And, when I say "we" I totally mean me. We really wanted to make sure that, as far as could be seen on an ultrasound, this baby was healthy. Yes, of course, we'd never abandon our child in the delivery room if there were complications. And we'd NEVER not take care of our children if they developed special needs. But, given our ministry and health insurance, we would have serious reservations if a baby had severe special needs.

So, on the list, there was a column for pros and a column for cons and all the cons were GOOD reasons. But they just weren't God reasons. All that really matters is if He's in it.

I wrote an email, expressing our feelings. I said we needed more time. I explained that I understood if they couldn't wait for a 20 week ultrasound for us to decide. I prayed over that letter and then I pushed send. Rushing over me came an overwhelming sense of dread and doom. Because, it turns out, I WANTED THIS BABY TO BE HEALTHY. I DID REALLY WANT IT TO BE A GIRL AND I WANTED THEM TO WAIT ON US UNTIL THE ULTRASOUND.

More than anything.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Do You Wanna Buy the Story?

I've been linking to this series on my Facebook page. People are going crazy and I've received offers to sell the story. If any of you truly don't feel like you can wait until Tuesday for the rest of the story, I'm willing to offer you the same deal I'm offering to my friends on Facebook.

I will email you the final three installments for a donation of $20. I promise that the money will go to a good cause and I really feel that you'll agree. If you want to save your money--you'll know the full story by Tuesday. If you would like to donate to a great cause, I'll email you the story.

Comment on this blog with your email and I will contact you. I will not post the comments that have personal information in them.

This offer will be valid until Tuesday morning but an installment will be posted each morning between now and then so you'll get more for your money if you do it sooner. ;-)

Another Saturday

I fell in love with their picture on the Internet and Troy, for the first time, said what he's now told me at least ten times. "It doesn't hurt to inquire." And so I inquired on them. Weeks later, we were contacted and asked to send our home study in by the end of February.

The thing was, we didn't have a home study completed. And they aren't cheap. We knew that, because these girls were featured on the Internet, there were dozens if not hundreds of perspective adoptive parents inquiring about them. We knew it was an enormous long shot. Was it even worth it to spend all that money to have a home study completed? Could it even be accomplished in the short amount of time we had? We prayed and, in the end, we had a social worker put a mad dash crazy rush on completing a home study for us.

We sent it in just days before it was due and received information that there were many, many interested families and the top five would be selected to move on to the next stage.

We never heard another thing about those girls. Troy discovered, through a separate Internet search, maybe a month later, that they had an adoption pending. Our hearts were so happy, knowing that those girls would not be left to float through the system, tossed and tumbled by circumstances they could never have changed.

We sent inquiries on dozens of children. Some sibling sets with one brother and one sister. Some sets with two sisters. Sometimes just one little girl who stared at me from behind eyes too old for her years. We heard back on a few of them. There was one girl who needed to be placed in a home where she would be an only child. There was another who had a history of extreme violence toward other children. When we told our social worker that we thought we needed to protect the two children God has already entrusted us with, she said she understood completely, but that any of the legally free children we found on the Internet would likely have similar concerns. She encouraged us to think about foster care.

For the record, I would love to provide foster care for a child. But, at this point, we think Matthew is too young to process his own security in our family while foster sisters might come and go. The goal of foster care is reunification and adoption is always the second choice. I'm not sure our family is in a place where our boys can understand that adoption was the first choice for Matthew but wouldn't be for a child that came to us through the system.

Our social worker told us that waiting children might be a very difficult avenue for us to pursue. At least, given our current situation and the ages of our boys. That was near the beginning of summer. Over the warm months, I occasionally looked at the websites and I inquired on several children, never hearing anything back. It was easy to distract myself with vacations and the pool and popsicles. Then the boys started school and I busied myself with getting back into the flow of their routines.

I prayed.

In September, I started thinking about overseas adoption. International adoption has always been something Troy and I have valued. My recent hesitancy has been related to the high costs. My brain started to think--which is always a problem--about ways to raise money and maybe, one day, bring home a daughter from another country. I also wondered if our family was complete and that the word I'd heard from God was concerning a different type of mother/daughter relationship altogether. At the same time, my boys were playing soccer with the most beautiful family. Their oldest son, Garrett's age, is Latino. Their daughter, Matthew's age, is from Africa. During the soccer season, they took their entire family to China to bring home their newest member. He's been toddling around soccer games ever since. My adoption heart beats a little stronger when I see them.

Could we do it?

Could we raise approximately 30,000 dollars to adopt a child from overseas?

And how would I know God was leading? My prayer all along has been that He would open a door that was so obvious, there was simply nothing left to do but walk through it.

On my dad's birthday, October 18, I woke up. It was just another Saturday...

Or was it?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Two Sisters

Last November, after our trip to Israel but just before Thanksgiving, we were able to open our home to a couple traveling here from Alabama to await the birth of their daughter. They were wonderful people who, in the end, wrote us a card about how they would never be able to thank us enough for letting them stay with us. But, truly, the pleasure had been entirely ours. They'd brought that pink bundle to our home and we'd held her and snuggled her and fallen in love with adoption all over again. My oldest son was just crazy about that baby and, when their Christmas card came in the mail, he confiscated it off the kitchen counter, and, for several days, slept with it bent tightly in his hand. Eventually, it made its way to the bulletin board in the playroom. It still hangs there, displaying a picture of that darling family.

Garrett asked if we could adopt a sister.

A baby sister.

But while God's words to me still hung like a banner on my heart, we had never even considered the possibility of a baby. The list of reasons, a mile long. Filled with things like sleep deprivation and old age. Things that sound silly one at a time but, when added together, form a very important list.

Troy and I had been talking about various options to pursue. I felt a great deal of hesitancy because, on the one hand, I didn't want to force my agenda or my own timing but on the other hand, I knew that an orphan wasn't going to knock on my door and ask me to be her mother. Steps have to be taken. Home studies need to be completed. Attempting to live in the gray area of being ready but not orchestrating anything myself was a difficult tight rope to walk.

We landed on the idea of considering the adoption of an older, waiting child. A child who was legally free and needed parents that were going to love her for who she was, where she'd been, and what she'd seen. I started checking waiting child websites. Every few weeks I'd pop onto one of the sites and see if there were any kids who might fit into our family.

In January, I found two sisters...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In His Time

If I started at the beginning, I'd have to tell you about the time I was deep in prayer, praising and confessing and petitioning and suddenly, very strongly, felt God impress upon my heart, "You will have a daughter." It was startling because I wasn't praying about children. In fact, at that moment, it came so out of left field that my eyes flew open and I furrowed my brow and goosebumps crept up all over my arms and I had to fight the urge to sprint out of the room. My ears pounded and I started to sweat. I didn't run. I thought of young Samuel and Eli telling him to answer the Lord the next time he heard his name being called. I switched the focus of my prayer completely to what I thought I'd heard. But less out of obedience and more because what I thought I'd heard wasn't even what I wanted.

I mean, yes, tea parties sound like fun.

Pink ad nauseam is fantastic right up to the ad nauseam part at which point one switches her daughter into a football jersey.

Hair bows.

The mall.

But what I wanted was to feed only TWO TEENAGE BOYS WHO WILL EAT LIKE HUNGRY LONG HAUL TRUCK DRIVERS and not also have to feed their sister. What I wanted was to figure out how to stop yelling at the two kids I already have and maybe not add anymore bodies into the mix. Because the good Lord knows there is a list of patient and amazing mothers out there and I am NOT ON IT. That scene in Mom's Night Out where Allison has eye make up everywhere and the paper towel dispenser won't work and she has a confrontation with it, well, that scene was taken straight from my life.

So I didn't really want that thing that I felt God tell me. I asked him for clarification. I covered all my journalism bases with the WHO and the WHAT and the WHERE and the WHEN and the WHY and the HOW and do you know what? He did not answer. It just hung, right there in my prayer closet. "You will have a daughter." No explanation. No clarification. Nothing more and nothing less.

I did what any reasonable pastor's wife would do with that information. I zipped my lip and said NOTHING. I returned to it in prayer, begging for more information and receiving nothing. And so I took that one sentence and I turned it over again and again on my tongue and it began to take root and I treasured it in my heart. Because in this life there are all the long hours of frustration and correction and redirection but there are also the moments full of smiles and joy and dreams come true and it is not a giant leap from content to being willing to give all that I am, runny eye make up and all, to another child.

I pondered this. I did not speak it. I prayerfully considered it for a very long time. And then I opened my mouth and I shared it with my husband. I confessed that I didn't know what it meant. It could be an overseas adoption. It could be a spiritual daughter or a daughter-in-law. It could be ten years from now when we adopt a waiting teenager. Or two years from now. I had no earthly idea. I just thought it was finally time that he knew.

The only thing that truly mattered to me was the will of God and I did not want to try to rush it or push my own agenda. In His time, He would reveal it to me and I would see His fingerprints all over the situation and be content to move forward.

In. His. Time.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Funny Kids

My kids are hilarious.

Matthew: Can I go play outside?
Me: Sure.
Matthew: Great! I'm going to play with Beck. We're going to play "Doggies" and that means we are going to pretend to be dogs.

But. Er. Um. Beck IS a dog. So, in this game, I suppose that the part of the golden retriever is going to be played by...the golden retriever?

And then, this morning, Garrett was cleaning toilets. I told him to make sure he was using a lot of elbow grease. He had no idea what that was so I explained it. He came upstairs a few minutes later and said, "Mom, I was just using so much arm grease!"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Competitive

If you know me in person, and not just through a screen, you know that I am super competitive. I do not like to do anything if I don't think I can do it well. I love all manner of competition. And I am constantly setting short term goals for myself. IF I clean the bathroom, THEN I can eat five of the candy corns my mom sent in the mail because she loves me. For example.

This also extends to utterly ridiculous things like, let's see if I can correctly guess the number of gallons of gas I will need to fill my tank today. And, yes, there is let down if/when I cannot.

The most recent, ridiculous competition I set is between me and my heater. God bless Mother Nature this year because it is October 30 and we have not had any snow. This is the way fall should be. Still, in true fall tradition, the temperatures have been getting chilly. On the heels of being warm all summer, what will feel tremendously warm in the spring feels downright freezing in October. Several weeks ago, I decided to compete with my heater. NO HEAT TIL NOVEMBER is what we're calling this particular challenge.

Lest you think that the inanimate heater could not have possibly won, I assure you it could have. If it had snowed, say. If the fish bowl had frozen over. If the hot blooded husband had asked. But, it does look as though I'm going to pull out the win.

But not without sacrifice. The past two mornings have been brutal. It's so warm and cozy IN my bed and so not warm OUT of my bed. I almost folded. But, alas, competition runs deep in these veins and I refuse to let the heater win. At least, not without a fight.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Yes

Off and on I've been reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. The nature of the read is that you can put it down and pick it up weeks or even months later. I picked up the book, ran a bubble bath and climbed in. It should be noted that I was out of bubbles and had to improvise by stealing some from the kids. Now I smell like wacky watermelon.

When I'd last opened the book, I was in the middle of a chapter. I read a few pages and stumbled upon the following quote.

"To the Enfleshed Yes who said yes to this moment and yes to last year's illness and yes to the cracks of my childhood and yes to the nail and yes to my name in the Book of Life, hear me say YES! Not 'I'm worried.' Not 'I'm stressed out.' Not 'I'm anxious.' Not 'I'm too afraid.' Hear me say thank you. Hear me say YES! Watch me live a life of yes. To all that was and is and is to come. The power of sin and death and fear-from-the-Enemy are forever ended because we can trust in the bridge even if it's caving, in God even when it's black, in manna-nourishment even when we don't know what it is. The God whom we thank for fulfilling the promises of the past will fulfill His promises again. In Christ, the answer to the questions of every moment is always Yes."

Sometimes we have a decision to make and maybe we even write a list of pros and cons and all the reasons on one side are GOOD reasons. But maybe they aren't GOD reasons. Maybe we're gun shy and the whys are real and obvious. Still, we are not called to live a life of fear. Sometimes we entertain ideas that make no earthly sense to us and certainly not to those around us. Still, May the Almighty hear me say thank you and yes!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Germs

This past Tuesday my husband came home from work in the afternoon. He has to be back to the church around 6:00 pm because he's teaching a webinar for CBMatrix. He teaches for roughly an hour, takes a break and then teaches for about another hour. When he got home, he wasn't feeling well. He took a nap. When he woke up, I was getting ready to head out the door to get the boys their flu vaccination. I kissed Troy and he WAS BURNING UP.

That fever, 101.5 when I shoved the thermometer into his ear a minute after feeling ALL the HEAT, did not break until yesterday. It was almost a full 48 hours of 101. It would dive, temporarily, down to a high 99 when he took Ibuprofen but then it would shoot back up again. He was miserable.

Yesterday, he woke up, still burning, and informed me that he was throwing in the towel. It was time to bring in the big guns. And by the big guns, I mean, a physician. I asked if he had any other symptoms and he said that his head hurt horribly.

"Does your throat hurt?" I asked. "Maybe it's strep."

"I've never had strep in my entire life," he reminded me. Just before I left to take the boys to school he took his temperature again. I asked him if his fever was down at all. "It's 100," he told me. Then he switched the thermometer to the other ear. "Wait. Maybe not. It's 105."

"A HUNDRED AND FIVE?!?!" I howled. Because I think my temperature was 104 or 105 when I was two years old and I can vividly remember all the terrible hallucinations I saw on that horrid night. And I was a child. I feel like 105 for an adult would be, maybe, mostly dead. I kid not, my mind had already thrown my kids in the car and used super human strength to lift my husband from the bed, stuck him in the car, thrown cold, wet towels on his head and floored it to the ER before he ever had the time to shake his head. "No. Sorry. 101 POINT 5."

Whew. That's, just, a lot better.

I insisted on driving him to the doctor because, in his feverish state, I didn't want him hallucinating an open lane where really there was a bus. The doctor asked him if his throat hurt. "Not really, Maybe just a little." He pointed a flashlight into Troy's throat and nearly recoiled.

"Oh. Okay. Wow. So your throat is really red and there's white pockets on your tonsils and I'm pretty sure it's strep."

So there's a first time for everything.

He took an antibiotic and he's on the mend. But, apparently, strep really doesn't agree with my husband because I have never seen him sicker than he was over these last few days. I wanted to love him and take care of him and will him to feel better all while simultaneously staying several feet away from him and his highly contagious germs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunglasses

I recently had to send someone some pictures. It was specifically requested that we not be wearing sunglasses. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND PICTURES OF MY FAMILY WHERE MY HUSBAND IS NOT WEARING SUNGLASSES?

I wanted to send some pictures from our Israel trip a year ago. EXCEPT THERE WERE NONE. I could not find a single picture of our family that was both GOOD and SUNGLASSES FREE. In fairness, we spent the majority of our time outside and it was bright. So, I was pretty much wearing sunglasses the entire time too.

So I went back in time to our Maui trip from 2012. I found ONE picture where my husband wasn't sporting his shades. Obviously, this wasn't it.


Neither was this.


The pictures from all of our Tahoe trips look like this...


And, alright, so these aren't sunglasses but I couldn't resist posting this shot. I married him because he is reserved and proper. Clearly.


He even takes a picture in front of the door to a bed and breakfast. Sunglasses.


It's like he doesn't even have eyes. You wouldn't know that he actually does. And that they are the bluest blue you've maybe ever seen. You wouldn't know that I get lost in them. Maybe that's the thing. Maybe he has to wear them so that I can properly function.