Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mission

Ultimately, after revisiting it with fervor for approximately two and half days in which I vacillated between being almost sure that we were going to become parents again in September to being positive that we're never going to have another child, we decided not to have our profile shown. It was an agonizing decision and my thoughts swayed--pendulum style--roughly 1.7 million times in 60 hours. I imagined pulling the crib mattress out from under my bed and hanging girly pictures on the wall in the playroom turned nursery turned library, turning it back into a nursery once again. Just as quickly I would spin my mind's wheels trying to figure out loan options and how we would begin to accomplish the getting of such a large amount of money so fast and I would feel restless and without peace or direction.

My brother's baby was overdue. I knew we had to decide before that baby was born. I knew my judgement would be even cloudier once she was here. (Turns out THAT was a good call.) Every time I prayed I felt more confused than before. There just wasn't a clear answer. In the absence of direction, does one move forward when a little life is on the line? Or does one close her eyes and say, "I will wait on you, Lord."

When we said no, we agreed that our time may never come. I know that sounds pessimistic and negative--defeatist, even. It isn't meant to. In February, we decided to move forward in anticipation of another adoption because, independently of each other, the Lord gave us her name very soon after we lost Kate. It's not a name we ever would have considered if God hadn't whispered it to both of us. He's never spoken any of our other children's names into our hearts. But that is a story for another time...perhaps. I won't share the name. I'm presently much too busy treasuring it in my own heart. Even then, though, holding her name on the tip of our tongues, we were never certain that He would bring us another child--much less that He would bring one we have the privilege of naming. We both trust that He told us. We just know that it could have been the dream He gave us to keep us moving. And so, we had to accept that there was an opportunity in front of us and another one might not come.

We decided to wait on the Lord.

For what is to come or what may not come.

It was not an easy choice. And, once made, I still wondered if we'd chosen wisely. One week later, through a strange set of circumstances, the Lord spoke clear and perfect confirmation to me. The details are not important. But the Lord works in utterly mysterious ways. He also began a convicting work in me.

While on earth, my job is to draw near to Him and make Him known to others. (For the record, I fail this mission every, single day.) I've been living in limbo since January. I suppose in some ways it's to be expected. The grief process has been real and encompassing and while I've tried to pick myself up and walk on in public, my husband can attest to the grittier side of things. (I'd be lost without him. He deserves some kind of medallion or a constellation in his honor for the way he has loved me in these past nine months. Truly, no one will ever know the way he has held this messy, grieving family together. But seriously. I should reward him with a belt buckle or something.) The back and forth between grieving and waiting has been exhausting. One minute it's excitement and longing. The next minute it's crying and pain.

The convicting work has been this. I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO DIE WAITING. Especially when no official promise was ever made. I'm supposed to draw near to Him and share Him and whatever He chooses to bless me with along the way is just a whole lot of icing on the cake. Don't get me wrong, we are still waiting with hope and eager anticipation for what He might have for us. I just don't want to waste my life wondering if the phone is going to ring.

Last night, Matthew woke up crying. He called out for me. He'd had a scary dream and wanted to stay with me on the couch. I pulled him onto me and he snuggled in. After he fell back into sleep, I thought about it. These two boys are (usually) a pretty intense delight. I don't know what earthly good I've done to deserve them. But I remember waiting for them and wondering if they'd ever live and breathe and grow up big enough to call me Mom.

I kissed his nose and ran my fingers over his back. Another one would be an amazing and welcomed addition. But the blessings He has bestowed upon me are more than enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Meeting My Niece

Does anyone remember the fact that I used to blog here?

Yeah. Me neither. It's been SOOOO long.

I have an excuse for the past few days though. On Sunday afternoon, my parents flew me to San Diego so that I could meet my niece!!! We planned it a couple of days before she was actually born, bought the airfare the day after she was born, and I got to spend three days (off and on, of course) with her! I just got back yesterday and I'm not actively working on a formula that will allow me to clone myself so that I can live in two places at one time.

We completely surprised my brother and sister-in-law which ended up being SUPER HILARIOUS. They live in a town home (condo?) and so my parents dropped me off a handful of doors away. They went in and the plan was for me knock on the door several minutes later. My brother had been out running an errand and we wanted to make sure he was there. My mom texted me that he was but I wanted to wait another minute. Then I replied with something or other about how I was on my way.

"Wait!!!" was her reply. I had no earthly reason why and was afraid my brother was walking outside. As I was already almost to his door, I dove into some bushes, directly in front of someone else's house. Crouching there, I texted back, "I'm hiding in a Bush. What am I waiting for?" (Yes, regular "bush" autocorrected to a former president.) As it turns out, they'd gone upstairs and they quickly decided to sneak me in and just have me sitting there when they came back down.

Heather's grandparents, parents and sister were there. My parents were there. So it was quite a party of people. Maybe that explains why my brother looks directly at me and just keeps living his life for a solid nine seconds. It was pretty great.

video

Then I held her and hugged her and promised to take her to a Broadway show.

And, BLOG WORLD, my brother somehow ordered the world's best baby. She ALMOST NEVER CRIES and when she does it's because someone has dared to change her dirty diaper or because she'd like something in her tummy. 

I am so glad that Troy is officiating Heather's sister's wedding in a month so that we have an excuse to go to California. And also even though I still hate year round school, the boys are off in October and you'd better believe that that baby is going to be spending some serious time in my arms again. And then, Troy is leaving on a mission trip to Haiti on Thanksgiving day and, well, I feel like I should maybe just go to San Diego because cooking Thanksgiving for three does not sound like my idea of a good time. Right?

Also, short of kidnapping my niece (which my sister-in-law already informed me is not really a good option) frequent trips are really my only option. Maybe I need to start a "Visit My Niece Monthly" Go Fund Me page to help support my habit.

Okay. Not really. But almost.

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Lil Gert

Early on Thursday my brother became a dad.

I was all set to announce my niece's name and post a picture of her but I haven't asked them if they're ok with me doing those things on my blog and since they've slept, like, negative hours in the past two days, I'm not going to burden them with it right now.

I will say that I got to virtually meet her tonight and it was super but NOT NEARLY AS SUPER AS MEETING HER IN PERSON WILL BE SOME DAY. Because I live in Utah and she does not. Which, if you ask me, is a complete travesty.

I will also say that it doesn't altogether matter what her name is. They didn't give her one until this afternoon and, in the meantime, I started calling her Gert. My brother refers to my children more often than not as G-Money and M-Cat. It's just...his uncle thing. So when they didn't give her name, I threw out Gert as an option. Entirely from the episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica get married and Ross switches his table number and ends up at the kids' table and dances with little girls all night. One little girl's name is Gert and she is enormous--both in stature and in girth. She towers over the rest of the children. I threw it out, obviously, as a complete joke but pointed out that it's a family name.

My great grandmother's name was Gertrude.

I continued joking about it and my mom voiced her concern that it might stick. The damage was done. It stuck for me. I mean, at least as a joke. G-Money, M-Cat and Gerty Girl.

I've also long said that I am going to be the aunt who always has gum so it would seem we're going with a Friends motif. Even though, by the time she's old enough for her parents to allow her to watch friends, it'll be so ridiculously dated that she'll think we're all old and lame. 

My niece actually has a beautiful name that I love and plan to use often. She's totally adorable. I want to reach through the computer screen, pull her into my arms and tell my brother and sister-in-law to take a break. Take a nap. Take a shower. Take 18 years, give or take.

Gert and I have got this. Together. For the rest of my life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First & Third

I have something important to say. I am not much of a public crier. Really. Seriously. Please don't hold it against me if don't cry at your funeral. I will probably cry buckets in the privacy of my own bedroom but they will not come out at your funeral. I also find it irrational when people cry at things like weddings and first birthday parties. And, for being a theatrical kind of person, I am also a very rational person who is often confused by irrational people.

I don't cry when my kids start preschool and kindergarten. PLEASE. What's the alternative? That they died young? That they have some kind of developmental delay that keeps them from school? BRING ON SCHOOL! It means they are growing and healthy and ready for the next important milestone. I LOVE HAVING MY KIDS WITH ME but I am not going to cry over things like preschool. Come on, mamas. SAVE YOUR TEARS.

Ahem. In light of the above mentioned information, I'm going to schedule a neuro consult immediately. Something is very wrong with me. I didn't cry when my oldest boy started kindergarten and I didn't cry when my baby started either. I snapped a few pictures and internally rolled my eyes at all those mommies who were shedding tears and begging for one more hug and generally being snively and obnoxious. COME ON, MOMMIES! IT IS KINDERGARTEN! YOU WILL SEE HER IN THREE HOURS.

Unless your child is in full day kindergarten which is precisely where I'm going with this post. MY BABY'S FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE ALMOST KILLED ME DEAD. I walked him up and stood with all the other moms. The kids lined up, already old pros at this school gig what with having an entire year of half day school under their collective belts. They looked older and wiser than they did six weeks ago. Moms chatted and kids looked excited and anxious all at once.

Suddenly. Out of NOWHERE. What? What was happening? Something must have flown into my eye. Could it have been allergies? What in the world? Why was there a lump forming in my throat? WHY WAS MATTHEW'S LITTLE LIFE FLASHING BEFORE MY EYES?

His birth. His baby laugh. His chubby hands. His cuddles. His first day of preschool. His first day of kindergarten. How did we get here? How did all those memories string together until we managed to make it to SIX AND A HALF AND FIRST GRADE?

I swallowed my tears back down my throat, hugged him, and watched him walk through the big first grade doors. He was so ready. So happy. So big.


It hasn't been this quiet in my house since 2005. TEN YEARS OF NOISE! I walk around in it and the walls echo with silence. I clean it and...it stays that way! I play with the puppy and work on Bible studies and HAVE A FRIEND OVER FOR LUNCH AND WE ACTUALLY GET TO TALK! 

I have grand plans for my life. Plans that involve substitute teaching more, catching up on Bible studies, being a better pastor's wife, keeping a clean house and waiting anxiously for a phone call telling me that we're a perfect match for another baby so that my house won't be so quiet anymore.

Because I love being a mom. I'm not the best one and I'm not the most patient one. I'm not the quietest or the friendliest or the most athletic one. But I love those boys and I love the noise they make, the living they do between these walls and I miss them when they're gone. I can't believe they've already done so much growing. I don't know know how I have a first grader.

And I really don't know how I have a third grader. 



Saturday, August 15, 2015

When the Only Hurdle is a Huge Amount of Money

Several days ago, I was contacted by our adoption facilitator at Adoption Center of Hope. She told me about a situation that sounded perfect. It's a little girl, due next month. If the little girl's mother would so choose for us to raise her child, it would be a fantastic situation for us.

Except that it's $30,000 on top of what we already have sitting at ACOH. We prayed hard. We know that God uses our children and possible adoption situations to test our faith. But we couldn't decide exactly which test this was. Were we being called to wait on His perfect timing for a perfect situation and this wasn't it because of finances we don't have? (I mean it. We have exactly $6,975 dollars to put toward adoption costs and that is only because so many people were so generous last winter and we put that money aside in an adoption account.) Or were we being called to trust that He would provide the funds?

Ultimately, we decided to pass on the situation because 15K needs to be secured before our profile can even be shown to this mom and the rest of it would need to be available within just a few weeks. We considered the loan option. But, even if someone had 20-25K lying around, we wouldn't be able to pay it back without me working A LOT. I have no desire to add to my family again so that I have to work nearly full time to pay for that addition. If we adopt again, I want our baby to have my full attention just as my boys did. So I felt at peace knowing that, since there would be no way to pay off such a loan, this couldn't be what God had for us.

Then, last night, they posted the details of the situation on social media.

*💥*URGENT*💥*
Family Needed:
-Homestudy MUST BE Completed and Not Expired
Expectant Mother Prefers:
-Born Again Christian Family
-Active & Athletic
---Situation Information---
Appoximate Due Date: Mid September 2015
State: California
Gender: Girl
Expectant Mother Race: Caucasian
Expectant Father Race: Unknown (Possible Race-African American, Hispanic or Caucasian)
Insurance: Medi-Cal
Drug Exposure: Clean
Alcohol Use: None
Open Adoption: Pictures & Updates
Approximate fees $35k plus
(Includes California legal fees and valid, necessary and legally allowable living expenses)
🌟To be consider for the above situation you must meet the listed criteria AND be prepared to provide a PDF version of your profile and home study.🌟

Suddenly, I wasn't sure. Because if that number was smaller I'd be begging them to show her our profile immediately. I laid in my bed last night and sobbed. Not having this exorbitant amount of money at my fingertips is a reality that I cannot get around. But it isn't this baby girl's fault that the whole thing costs so bloody much.

And we are SO READY to be matched.

In the middle of my tears I told myself something I've said time and time again since I started coming out of the fog of grief I lived in when we lost Kate. IF GOD WANTS IT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED IT WILL BE. We are not going to accidentally miss our daughter. If we pass on a situation, He isn't going to scratch His head and say, "Well, shoot. Now what?" We're also not going to end up with a child He doesn't want here. He is in control. He knows what He's doing.

If this is meant to be our child, He will work it out. (Although it sure would need to happen fast.) If this is not meant to be our child, she will be placed in the family that God has hand picked for her. But I would love prayer on this one. You've been with us through thick and thin this year and I trust your happy thoughts and prayers will be sent our way.

Maybe you know someone who fits this description perfectly. Pass it on and help this little one find her forever family. Maybe you know someone who needs a $20,000 tax write off. Well, for the record, I wouldn't turn that down.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why I Chose My Husband

Yesterday was my 12th anniversary. That is crazy talk because I cannot possibly be a day over 25. And I did not get married when I was 13. If for no other reason than the fact that my husband is 10 years older than me. This year was, maybe, not the best. But we weathered through and we're better for it. For better for worse and all that. I'm so blessed to have him by my side.

As a pastor's wife, I have the opportunity to listen as women tell me the things they love and adore about their spouses and, sometimes, the things they are struggling with. I pray for women with stories of addiction, anger issues, unfaithfulness. I rejoice in "atta boys" when husbands are promoted, get raises, or break free from sin. Often, I am able to get a glimpse into what she was looking for when she chose her husband in the first place. Sometimes it's because he was hilarious or he knew how to fix things or he was a hard worker. Sometimes a guy was chosen for his strapping good looks or because he made her feel beautiful. It's often a combination of a lot of things, of course.

I chose my husband for one reason only. 

I "grew up" in the middle of a relationship with my first fiance. We started dating when I was 18 and I broke up with him when I was 21. He shared my faith but, among many other things that led to my ending our relationship, he was not a spiritual leader. I couldn't see my faith growing or ministry opportunities developing as a result of marrying him. At 18, I didn't think to consider that. At 21, with our marriage looming in the not-so-distant future, I realized that it was all that I should have cared about.

In Troy, I found a man who would walk with God and challenge me in my own walk. I knew he would teach me and, from the very beginning, he would lead our children spiritually and point them toward our Creator. If I break down my entire marriage, absolutely nothing else matters to me. This world is fleeting. It is but a moment. Everything points us toward eternity. I wanted a spiritual leader. A man who would open the Word with me and explain it when I was confused. A man who would share his knowledge and opinion but one who would listen if I came to a different conclusion. A man who would debate with me as his equal, pray with me, and grow old with me as we waited for what was to come. Not to get stuck in this life, but to look ahead to the next. 

It's an added bonus that he makes me laugh and puts food on the table and that he's patient and kind and honest.

The cards we've been dealt haven't always been stellar hands. We lost our home when we moved to Utah, we went into incredible amounts of debt to gain the privilege of adopting our son, and we buried our daughter. More than 13% of our monthly income goes to our medical insurance premium. We rent our home and we'll probably have to work until we die. To name just a few of our card games.

Such is life.

Through all of that, I'm proud to have this man beside me, pointing me toward eternity. I'm amazed at the way he teaches our boys about our God and about biblical principles. I love the way he has changed me and the way we have grown together. When I pray for my children's future spouses, I ask for one thing only.

She doesn't need to be able to cook or clean well. She doesn't have to be beautiful or wealthy or smart or have a strong set of child bearing hips. I just want her to love Jesus and dedicate her life to following Him. And that's ultimately all I want for my boys as well.

That is why I chose my husband. Because, above all else, that is what matters. And because, when we, as a couple, love Jesus with our whole hearts, we can trust that He will bring us through whatever He puts in our path. No, this year hasn't been easy. But at least I had him holding my hand through it all.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

TessieMonster

Dear Mom and Dad,

I'm under the impression that life is a never ending joy ride. I've packed more living into my first four weeks with my new people than a lot of doggies do in a lifetime.


I love the water but I strongly dislike the foamy white stuff that rushes at me, toppling over itself in a sort of circular motion. I swim like a champ. I'm learning something commonly referred to as "fetch" and I love it. I also like to turn this game into something I call "keep away" which is splendid fun for me. I know how to sit. I'm learning to "stay" and "leave it" and I definitely know my name but find it pure genius when I pretend not to. These people keep saying this one word to me that I just don't understand. Maybe you can help me out with it. They yell, "Come!" What earthly purpose does this word have? For the life of me, I simply cannot understand it.

The people say that in the past week I have turned a corner. I'm not a baby anymore. They are likening me to a toddler. Whatever that is. I don't sleep as much and I am, apparently, very curious and into everything. The littlest one, is, I think, a two legged dog. He plays "Puppy" with me and so I try the normal things like attacking him, chewing on him, and, occasionally, attempting to assert dominance in the traditional (but, apparently, inappropriate canine way. These things are all met with what I can only imagine is disapproval from the people. Perhaps this youngest one is a person after all? If so, he ought to stop behaving like a dog during all of our encounters.

I really love it here. When I hear my people, I run to them with my ears flying. They make me happy. I have met many new people. One of them is named Grandpa and he is splendid fun. He's a big softy which, I am told, is not the way it always was. Once upon a time he had dogs the toed a straight and narrow line. He doesn't make me do it though. In fact, my mommy-person explained that I'm not allowed in Grandpa's ice plant but I don't feel like listening to this rule and have, in fact, chosen this vegetation as my toilet of choice. Grandpa hasn't gotten mad at me even one time for that.

Grandma is also a fun one. She likes to snuggle me a lot. And she says I'm a really good puppy. Given this statement, I have decided that she is an easy-to-fool kind of lady. I have sweet chocolatey eyes and soft fuzzy fur but under all that, I'm almost certain I'm a beast. Grandma sometimes calls me Tessaress which is added to my long list of nicknames which include Tess, Tessers and TessieMonster (that last one was given to me by my mommy-person and happens to be the reason I believe that I am actually a small monster masquerading as a rapidly growing golden retriever).

Among many other people, I also met my aunt and uncle and my doggie cousin, Kona. The aunt and uncle seem to be patient people who did not get upset with me when I continually went potty on their floor. Kona is a MOST FUN dog who plays endlessly with me. I would like to be best friends and see her every day. Unfortunately, my mommy-person says I have to go back to my own house soon. I guess I'm okay with that because my daddy-person already had to go back there and, just as children need rules and boundaries, I need my Alpha.

Anyway. I'm going to go now because my attention span was maxed out about three minutes ago and I need to chase a fly, chew an antler and squeak a toy. But just know that I am happy, healthy, and sometimes psychotic. What a fun adventure all this living has been!

Love,
Tessie

Monday, August 3, 2015

Surf's Up

I know I haven't been around lately.

It's because of this...


Happy Summer!