A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Friday, January 28, 2011

Things keep moving forward

One advantage of having done this before, this whole adoption thing, is that to a certain extent we know what is going to come.

And that could be a good thing and a bad thing.

On one hand, I am now very good at organizing papers, and sort of know the routine and have a system down for managing the huge amount of paperwork and procedure that goes into it.

But I also know what it takes to do it.

At this point our paperwork for our homestudy update is going in on Monday (Steve wants the weekend to get his portion done so I don't think it will be ready to go out yet tomorrow).  That also means that we have gotten the first packet from our international agency - and they had paperwork that has to go to our homestudy social worker!  Whoo-hoo!  All in the same envelope!!!!  That means that now we wait to hear from the social worker who gets to come and visit the house.  We have one of those visits and they collect some information and documents and hopefully we can then be done with what it takes to get our domestic homestudy to an international one.  We have to get some medical letters done, so I am making all those calls on Monday.  Ugh.  Ten of us.  Ugh.  We may just camp out there.  Ugh.  But, we also need medicals for the international portion, so I am going to make sure and have all the needed documents with us at one time!!!  Somewhat streamlining things!

Once the homestudy is updated, then it can be sent to us, who then send it in with our I600A to Immigration in Texas.  I have the documents all filled out, the copies of birth certificates, marriage decrees and all already in the packets.  So, once we have the homestudy, then that can do in and then we wait for the fingerprinting appointments.  Yep, we go back down to Homeland Security in Milwaukee and Steve and I get fingerprinted again.  If they pass us then they issue another document that clears us to travel to adopt internationally and bring home our soon to be adopted children.

So, those things are needing to be as timely as possible.

Some of that I have control over and some of it I don't.

So, while we are waiting, once I have done what I needed to for the things listed above, then I will keep myself busy assembling everything for our dossier.  My plan is to have it ready to go as soon as we get the letter from Homeland Security.  Once that is all together, our agency can get it to Ethiopia for translation and then really get the ball rolling.

I have no idea how long things will take.  Obviously the sooner we do what we need to, the sooner things can go.  Honestly the hardest part may be getting both Steve and I together to get things notarized.  I am hoping that we might have a friend at church who is a notary who could do it for us on a Sunday!  LOL!  Wouldn't that be funny????

Anyway, that is the adoption update.  I so wish I could share photos.  Our little girls are so cute and beautiful and I know I am gushing, but we are so over the moon in love!  I dreamt about them this morning.

I am very blessed to have been asked to be a Mentor Mom for our church MOPS group and am really enjoying it.  There are such neat ladies in it and it is a great group.  I am finding that I have things to offer them as a mom, and from other life experiences.  I haven't ever been involved in a group like this before.  What a blessing, even after being a mom for more than 16 years!

This weekend is a little calmer, before the wild one coming up with the SUPER BOWL!!!!!!  Yeah Green Bay Packers!!!  The last time they went to the Super Bowl, Kiley wasn't even a year old, and the last time they won I was pregnant with her!!!  There is just great excitement here over that, I have promised the kids a Super Bowl party here with yummy snacks while we lose our voices for our favorite team!!!!

Well, goodnight all.  I will try to post more often, but don't just want to blab on about the boring old process.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can I finally share?????

Yep, I can!

After all the ups and downs of the last year, all the preparations of adoptions that did not happen, well, it is now signed on the dotted line!!!

We are going back to Ethiopia!  Hopefully sometime in the next six months.

We are adding two little girls to our family, to be loved on by all of us who are so excited!  The girls are sisters, the older one has Down Syndrome and is said to be two.  After looking at her photos and her walking, we think she is older than that.  The little one is six to twelve months, probably closer to twelve months.  We are so excited! 

God has moved in amazing ways, has made it totally clear and everyone is on board!  This time Steve and I will travel together - there is NO WAY I can manage two toddlers, immigration, luggage, customs and changing planes and all that by myself!  Ethiopia has changed their rules, and we will need to take two trips, one short one to meet the girls before court and one for visas and to bring them home!

Our application is in, that is all signed, the homestudy is being updated to an international one rather than a domestic one, and we are doing all our education work and all that.  I have more papers to fill out, documents to collect and all sorts of stuff to do.  Time to make some energy tea!

I am working on decluttering - having toddlers again will be something we need to be ready for, and we need to simplify life a little.  We are selling some of our ponies (the kids are too big for them anyway, but we also need less to care for), downsizing our goat herd some, and totally getting things organized!  The consignment store, and donation stores are our best friends! 

I am being totally smart and taking it one step at a time.  We know that we are working towards the next payment for the next step, one piece at a time.  I have seen God do amazing miracles and am sure that He will continue the good work that He has begun.  If you want to chip in, feel free - there should be a button on the sidebar to connect to our paypal for adoption fees.  If you look through posts, we are also making ceramic initial bears, handmade by the kids for their little sisters' adoption fund!  Feel free to leave an order, or send our link on to anyone who might be interested.  We are doing all sorts of ideas for fundraising! 

We are excited and totally in awe of this new direction!  I wish I could post photos of the girls, but we cannot until they are totally ours, and likely won't until they arrive home with us, just to avoid any difficulties!  I so wish I could share, they are so cute!!!!!  I guarantee that when we get home from Ethiopia with them we will post tons of photos!!!!

I had to laugh, because shortly after this all started, I realized that I have alternated between praying for a "baby" and praying for a "child with Down Syndrome" to add to our family.  In my heart, I meant ONE child, the same child.  God got the last laugh and gave me BOTH, but in two packages!!!!  He has SUCH a sense of humor!

Honestly, I have to let you know that the adoption journey and all the unknown cycles between the extreme highs and joy and the total fears and worries.  I have never met these kids, honestly don't even really know how old they actually are, or what we might face with them.  But, we didn't know what might come with any of our birth kids either.  I find that some days are up and some days are down.  Some days I wonder if I am absolutely nuts or if it is the best thing ever!  I know from past experience it will be better than I could ever imagine, will stretch me in ways I could never even imagine, and will be beyond belief.  I know that God will use this for more than I could ever imagine.  But in reality, the next year will be a wild ride.  So, bear with me if I am a little freaked out some days.  I will try to be transparent and honest, with the hopes that someone can glean something from our lives.  (And it may simply be "what not to do")  I just want God to use this for whatever He has in mind. 

Well, the kids have been helping me with sorting things out, getting stuff out to the van to be delivered, advertising what we are trying to sell, and generally being supportive.  So, I am going to make them pancakes!!!!!

Blessings to anyone who happens to stumble across this!!!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prayers requested.

If I could ask the favor of prayer today, I would really appreciate it.

Maybe it is just the weather - we are now entering the longest and greyest part of the winter - which is hard for me, someone who thrives on sunshine, but I am very discouraged this morning. 

Did you ever get where you felt like you just weren't getting done what you needed to get done?  No matter where you turn?  Today I feel that way.

I am waiting on God to speak to someone else, and waiting.  I know where we are to go, I know what we are to do, and yet we sit here.  So that is frustrating, because time is ticking away.

I have been trying so hard to declutter, downsize and all of that, and it seems that for each step forward, there are two or more backwards.  I keep saying "I just want three days at home, going nowhere" and yet it cannot occur.  That is the life of a mom - one kiddo working at a stable, getting ready for upcoming horse show season, several more hopefully in a play (which is just the greatest thing ever!), ceramics once a week - which is helping me keep my sanity during the dreary winter - what with all the beauty and fun we are having with it, hubby's singing commitments and all - one of the greatest joys of my life and his ministry, and working part time - several bills are being totally paid off with this - it is a huge joy to see that happen.  So, needless to say, I am not getting a lot done on the homefront.  And today is a day that I will spend nearly totally in the van.  We compromised on my work schedule for this month to make a big impact, and I have a full day - but I work two hours away from home, helping out another building up there!!!!  And then to run one kid to the stable, another to a band jam with a nearby friend, and a third to choir practice where he will meet up with dad. 

It is all good!  It is all what they all need to grow!

But today it is overwhelming, and where normally I just take it in stride, today I am sad.  I think it is a combination of two things.  One, I am waiting for a signature on a paper, that might never come, but the clock is ticking and it must be either signed or released.  Two, it is grey!!!!

Though on the upside - we got at least four inches of snow yesterday - while we were running to stables and ceramics and play tryouts!  Okay, so that wasn't exactly the upside, but when we got home, Alex offered to start the chopping for dinner and get it going (and Faith too!).  So, I went outside to start shoveling.  It was relatively warm, the snow was fluffy, and I need the exercise, as well as it needed to be done!  I started out by myself, and in a few minutes, here comes one of my boys to work alongside me.  We chatted and found the edges of the sidewalk and just kept going.  Then another one, and another one and pretty soon all the kids except the ones cooking our dinner were outside helping me shovel us out some!  We gave the horses extra hay for a snack, several kids made snow angels, there were threats of a snowball fight (with warnings that Mom was NOT going to be involved!  I DON'T like getting cold!), and general cheeriness.  The best picture in my mind, was early on - all my "ethiopian born" boys were shoveling with me, and started looking up, into the snow coming gently but heavily down from the dark sky.  And they were entranced!  It was beautiful.  Yes the snow was certainly, but to see these boys, to think of how far we have all come, to see their joy in the experience.  That was the greatest gift.  I so love all these kids!  Even when we have a "bad day".  It is just a day, overshadowed by so many others.

And on that note, I feel uplifted, which is probably why I write.  Just for me.  If I am the only one who ever reads this, well, that is OK.  But if you read it and enjoy it, or have something to say, please do! 

Please pray that God moves today.  Things so often seem beyond our economy, though not beyond God's, as I have seen.  The best decisions we have ever made in our lives have been the ones that seemed to "not make sense" to many folks or by other people's standards.  And yet, I see these living breathing miracles, and they remind me that my frustrations over cleaning are so minor compared to these kids who are growing up knowing they are loved, they are valued, they are claimed.  That God loves them, listens to them.  Long ago I gave up my dream of a picture perfect house (though I keep trying!).  I traded it for one that fits active kids, tolerates dirt, art projects, dreams and lots of energy.  Our school desks have had to be traded in for a ping pong table that doubles as a large school table.  But it fits us.  I cannot imagine if we had missed out on one of these lives.  I know that while I may not be wealthy by the world's standards, my life is so rich.  I wondered when we had one child how I could love another as much.  I really worried about that.  And then we had another and I discovered that my love multiplied.  My love and peace has multiplied with each child.  It is a true miracle of the heart, that God has placed.  My heart lives in this home, with these kids, with my dearest man.  This is exactly what I live and breathe for.

Thanks for uplifting me, I feel so much better - and will head off to work cheerfully - cannot wait to pay down stuff with this paycheck.  That is the blessing - making some stress disappear!!!!!  Yay!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Priceless truly is!

I was blessed to finish reading Priceless by Tom Davis and published by David C. Cook publishing.  Truly a riveting read, and one that will haunt me for quite some time.  It is one of those that you are left with the intense knowledge that you now know that you must actively do something.

It is a fictionalized account of a Russian orphan trapped in the sex trade and the people who reach out to help.  First of all, it was wonderfully written - and I am a very, very avid reader.  I have to admit that I was somewhat skeptical at what this book might be like.  I have read Tom Davis's non-fiction book Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds, which was immensely convicting and really got me thinking about how we live out our faith and what it means.  I wasn't sure what I would think of his fiction work.  I knew that he was faith-filled, that his scriptural grounding was great, and that from that perspective it would be quality.  But, it got me right from the first couple pages and never let me go.  You can ask my hubby, I read it in two days.  Two days flat.  I grabbed every moment possible to read it - even back and forth from church, in the van while hubby drove.

To top it off, I am left a bit changed by this, to say the least.  It is hard to imagine that what is depicted is truly out there - not that we don't believe it, but we don't WANT to.  Like lots of things, it is easier for us to NOT think about it, than to think about it and then know that because we KNOW it, we really MUST DO something.  I don't know what we personally will do, certainly we will look for a way for us to be of assistance, to be involved.  At the very least, I am praying heavily.  Praying for the people who are so in need, that I feel so helpless to know how to reach.  But I can pray.  I certainly can.  And will.  And I will loan out this book to everyone who asks!  So, if you would like to read it, please drop me a comment with an email address and I will contact you to get it sent out to you.  If more than one asks for it, I will ask the person I send it to to send it on to the next person.  Eventually, I hope it is read by many.  Even better, go to your local bookstore, order it from Amazon or whatever, but buy it!

Tom Davis does amazing work, is truly doing great work for God and for people in need.  Please check out his charity http://www.hopechest.org/.  I keep exploring what Children's Hope Chest does and looking for ways to support them.  Maybe just buy his books!  Think about it!  The book is amazing.  I have his other novel now Scared.  I may pull that out as my next read!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preparing the way.....

If anyone has read my blog very long, you know that this is our strangest adoption journey ever, and also sort of the most typical for many people.  And full of strange surprises that are typical for OUR adoption journeys.

We have a completed homestudy.  Done first now, waiting for a referral.  Our profile has been shown several times - with great excitement by us - and no child.  That is fine, I am glad that families have choices for their child!!!  Very.  Wish they chose us, but I know that God has a plan for each and every one of us - the birth families, the child and our entire family.

We don't have all the funds, but it is very hard to tell how much we might need.  In fact, as of the moment, we don't have much set aside - difficulties with the furnace, gas lines, and what not have depleted our "cushion".  However, tax return time is soon, and I have in my heart that I want some of that to be put away for an adoption.

But, as you might have realized, waiting is VERY difficult for me.  To be at this point, just sitting still, waiting to move forward, seems fairly pointless to me.

I am decluttering, getting our excess out of the house, schooling the kids, organizing, and now even PAINTING in an effort to keep my sanity.

So, while I know that it is entirely possible that we MIGHT get all the funds we need for an adoption through our tax return, I also know that there are updates that we want to do on our home and land to make life a bit easier.  The goats got a barn this last year, next year it would be amazing to have a better henhouse (more eggs through more of the year), and I would like horse stalls in one area.  We aren't extravagant, we live simply.

We are considering whether we should go overseas - here, we are waiting to be chosen, one of many.  There, there are children dying for families.  Children who are malnourished and in need of loving families!  Here we have things like Medicaid, social security, foster care (not the first choice, obviously), and other supports.  There, not.

God has led us a wild ride, and I don't know where he is taking us.  But, in my intense need for action, to feel like we are getting ready, doing something to be ready to go whenever we are called, we are starting something new.

The kids and I have been taking ceramics classes as part of our arts program - and a way to pass the long winter!  So, what we would like to do, is offer items for purchase/order/donation, whatever you call it.

Several of the kids have been making these "initial bears".  We can make them with ANY letter (English letter anyway!!), any color requested.  If you would like to order one, special made for your order, please email me at mommyturtle@tm.net.  We figured that costs us about $4 to make one.  We would suggest a donation of $15 (if you don't feel that is appropriate, any donation is wonderful!).  I can send you our address.

I have also made two items that just appealed to my fancy.  The pig bank was very complex but lots of fun.  It was just too neat a project.  The costs for this one were about $10 or so, so a suggested donation of $20 would be helpful.

And an elephant to match the pig was just too cute.  The cost for this one were about $8, so a suggested donation of about $16 seems reasonable?

I can make more like these, in a variety of colors if anyone is interested.

I will post more soon, including handmade slippers that I knit myself (8 for the kids for Christmas, so I have the pattern down pat now!!!!).  Suggested donation of $20 given the cost for yarn and the amount of time it takes to make them.  I can make to specifications and will take photos of the yarns I have available.  I can make children's sizes, teenager sizes and adult sizes - if you let me know what size you need, I can get it to about that!

I have this thing about fundraising:  I want YOU to get some benefit from it too.  And maybe it will give you a reminder to pray for kids in need of families.  We have been so very blessed through these last few years. So many people have just handed us funds to help towards some of the needs.  We are so grateful for that.  So very grateful!  But that has been a hard thing to learn to accept.

We are hard working people.  Pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of people.  Earn your own way and all of that.  We value that.  We know that everyone works hard for their funds.  That is part of the reason I share our life - to show folks who helped what they have done for these kids - they have truly invested into their lives!!!

The kids also are very inspired to be part of this, and have helped with each and every thing that we have done to raise funds to adopt.  And for them to be able to help too, well, that is priceless.

So, drop us a note, place an order, whatever.  I know that it must mean also that I am asking you to trust us, that we will use the funds as we say we will.  That is a level of trust that humbles me.  And that is EXACTLY what we do with any funds that come in intended for adoption needs.  And if for some reason God turns us away from adoption, I can promise that those funds will be handed to another family to help them to adopt a child in need.

Thanks for putting up with my "need to do something".

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11