A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Monday, May 23, 2011

Progress continues!!! And so does spring!!!!!

Hi all!
Just got an update from our international agency, and we were told that other than a few small tweaks, our dossier is just about ready to go to Ethiopia this Friday - if I can get it all done by then!  I will be working on that rapidly!!!!! 

This is much sooner than we had been fearing, so we are hopeful again to see things actively moving forward!!!  We are so anxious to get our girls home!  Scared and thrilled and all of that!  Totally thrilled overall!  Anyway, if you know of anyone who would like Vine Candles, Seroogy chocolates or puzzle pieces (see puzzle piece post about that!) please let me know!  And we have farm fresh eggs!!!!  The dossier fee is $1000 and we have part of that set away, and we will sit down tonight with payroll and bills and see if we can squeeze the rest out.  This came faster than we had thought - thankfully! What a great problem to have!  We could have our dossier in Ethiopia before the end of MAY!!!!!  Praising God!!!!  Don't know what that might mean for a court date, that is very up in the air, but each step gets us closer!

And it is spring on the farm - baby animals - soccer - gardening - training horses, we generally have lots to keep us busy!  The older boys are working at an internship at a auto mechanics/body shop.  They will get three high school credits for the automotive portion by the time they are done!  And they are loving it!  A great experience for them overall!  So, things are busy as always.  I am trying to get lots of outside work done when the weather is good and lots of inside when it isn't.  And when it is I set my timer so I do stints of inside work before I beat it to the outside!!!!  And schooling outside!!!!  Lots of science going on, in the real world work, but also it is just more fun to read and work outside - if the winds allow! 

I will figure out how to get new photos off the camera and onto my blog!  I can only find old ones stored on the computer right now!!!  Grrrr.....

"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, May 22, 2011

A nonsense post...

Okay, so maybe it isn't nonsense, but it my Sunday night recap of life!

So, on the adoption front, we have assembled the papers for our dossier, minus the items that are still in process.  Our social worker will review them tomorrow and let us know if anything needs fixing.  I don't know if that means that we can send what we have over to Ethiopia for translation, or if we have to wait for the other documents to catch up.

I do know that today I am aching for our little girls.  It is a good thing I teach the three year olds at church as I really got to lavish love on them - loving on a toddler/preschooler is a bit different than my older kids to say the least!  I could use some serious baby snuggles though.

We also now have two sixteen year olds in the house now - Zeri turned sixteen this weekend!  He had a great bonfire party at home with quite a few friends.  It was fun, loud, and no one got hurt - even playing football in a field!  I think he enjoyed himself!  So, the current rundown of ages in our home is 16, 16, 15, 14, 12, 11, 11, and 11.  One more birthday coming up shortly!  Then we will have two 12 year olds and two 11 year olds until fall.  It is so funny to say all the ages to folks - they try to figure out how many twins or triplets we have!  But seriously, the kids are all enjoying that spring is here, that we can be outside, that soccer season started last week, that horse show season is here.  Needless to say, it will be a busy summer, as always. 

Tonight I am looking over more items as we renovate the upstairs - we are sorting books from up there, and most are school related books.  Those are harder to get rid of!  I have several new ideas for us for this week, based on what we pulled out.  Love homeschooling, we all learn so much!

I have borage drying in my pantry - it will serve several functions as a herb.  I am learning lots about whole foods, natural health and all.  Taking it small bits at a time, but using what we have.  This weekend I started two batches of dandelion wine.  I always wondered about it (who hasn't who has a yard full of dandelions!), but got to taste some last week, and it reminded me of my husband's homemade honey mead (a honey wine, absolutely delicious, and basically needing to be sipped).  So, I gave it a try - sent several kids out to pick dandelion flowers from my garden - no herbicides or anything on that, so it should be good.  Turns out the medicinal qualities of dandelions are pretty amazing.  Hey, worth a try!  We pulled the yellow parts of the dandelion flowers - needed six quarts of the yellow to make what we wanted to.  I figure if I am going to do something labor intensive, it better have a good yield!  I got to watch a good movie while I plucked and various family members joined in with me as I did it!  A tedious task, but made better by conversation, a good movie and good company!  I completely understand how settlers got by with all their work!  We actually end up having quite a good time doing these kind of things!

I am hoping that things are dry enough now so I can get some more things planted in the garden.  I have some of the root crops in, but need to get more going, and get our beans and tomatoes in.  I would like to can a great deal, and the kids are already requesting that we make apple butter again this year.  I am learning how to manage herbs, and the medicinal properties.  I love teas, and am learning to dry leaves to make some things of mine.  It is very simple, very very simple things that I am trying to do.  I have a friend who is quite accomplished and very good with whole foods too, so I am learning, but she really encourages people to just try what you can, don't be overwhelmed, and that any positive change is positive change.  So, that is what I am working on.  I do love my time in the garden though! 

We have found a loving home for four of the equines we rescued last fall.  They are very sweet, and this is the best home ever for them that they are going to!  I am so pleased!  We never really planned on keeping them indefinitely, but would only let them go if we found a phenomenal home for them.  God has provided that and I am so glad!  So, hopefully this week I will be driving them to their new home!  Though we are taking a six year old paint gelding in trade!  But it still puts us down three head of horses overall!  We have gotten to play with the animals more since the weather has been nice, and it is amazing how each individual horse learns differently, has a very different personality from another, and generally loves to learn.  We have been able to open up some more pastures, and divide up the horses more, and it balances things out better. 

Summer time means building time on the farm as well as planting time.  We are renovating our horse barn this year and maybe the summer kitchen.  We are big on using what we have, so we aren't really putting too much money or materials in it, just doing a lot of rebuilding, and then adding in things.  I cannot believe all that we learn! 

Well, this mama is tired after a long weekend of celebrating Zeri!

Remember, we are still doing our puzzle fundraiser, puzzle pieces are $2 a piece, your name is placed on the back, and when the puzzle is done, we will put it between plexiglass and frame it to hang on the little girls' wall - a true example of how loving people were "part of the puzzle" to bring to orphaned girls to a loving home.  We have a chip in button on the side bar here.  We have about $400 more than is listed there - I cannot figure out how to add donations that we have been handed to the chip in bar!!!!  But it is there!  Our goal is to get to the last document we need to send to Ethiopia - the puzzle pieces totally cover that amount, and then our next goal is $1000 to send the dossier over to Ethiopia for translation and processing!  Getting ready for court!

I am working two full days a week, and three shorter stints on other days, to help cover all this.  It all adds in!  We have been blessed to sell some items (generally small, but every dollar helps!), and keep working!  God is so good and keeps us going with reminders that this is the path he has set us on, that these two girls are HIS children first, and we are excited to be able to parent them.  Of course, I want to be there TODAY, but that won't be, so we keep going with working on getting there, and loving our life here.  It isn't simple, it is hard work, but it is wonderful.  To see our children thriving, growing, learning and loving.  To enjoy so much the gifts of our family.  It is challenging - seriously, we have four teenagers!!!  But teenagers aren't the horror that they are made out to be.  They need the same intensity of guidance as our toddlers did, but at an intellectual level as we balance getting them to be more and more independent, making good choices, being grounded in faith and good values.  We cannot stop parenting - it is way, way too soon!  But it is different also.  They are all so amazing in their own ways.  Some days I swear they will turn my whole head grey, and then the next day I am totally laughing constantly.  That is life! 

Anyway, now I am really rambling, so I am heading to bed!  Hugs to you all, thanks for reading my ramble, I hope it spoke something to you somehow - even if it is just brutal honesty about the day to day challenges of raising kids, walking the adoption road, raising a large brood, living in a rural area, all of that!
God bless you!

"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, May 9, 2011

Wow, I'm tired!

What a day!

We spent last week revamping the house - just a secret - if you want to help me in organization, remodeling and decluttering, just plan to visit me and make sure I know that you are planning to visit me!  Makes it much more rewarding to make all that progress and then be able to show it off!  I cannot believe the progress we made on projects we had planned to do for so long!  Just took the motivation and the reward!  So, plan to come visit me, okay?  Makes it all so much more fun.

Then Friday night we started the horse event part of the weekend!  Kiley rode in Horse A Rama on Saturday and Sunday (her birthday was Sunday also), so that meant that our entire weekend revolved around it - which is great fun for this horse loving mama!  After seeing the length of the day on Saturday, we decided to cut the non-horse loving members of the family some slack and not require that they attend the very long day on Sunday.  Generally we all go to support a member of the family in an event, but it seemed that the length of time (and boredom) for the kids who didn't adore all things horse related was just unreasonable and would make the ones of us who did want to attend (and had a job to do) miserable.  So, we decided to divide and conquer.  It all turned out great, but we were sore and tired by the time we got home Sunday night.  At least it was close enough so we could be at home each evening, so it was just long days.  Kiley did wonderfully, you would never know that she has only been training in hunt seat (a form of English riding) since October.  She looked great, rode great and had a good time!  I ended up sunburned - we finally saw sun here!  And very sore from the physical work.  But it was great and we learned a lot - I even got a chance to see hippotherapy and therapeutic riding in action, which definitely has this speech therapist very interested!

Today I hauled Kiley to her job at the stable, ended up staying and helping, and then brought her home.  Where I promptly had Alex hook the trailer to the van and we began hauling hay.  That started about 12:30.  We got home from the last load around 7.  I have been sweeping, pitchforking and throwing hay all day basically.  Now, I would say that my body feels it.  I am in bed with my laptop writing this and am enjoying taking the weight off.  I figure if I keep this up several times a week, I should lose some serious weight - LOL!!!!!  Steve (thankfully) made dinner, while I took time to do what I had told myself all day that I would do as my reward - play with horses!  We got our Baskur Curly gelding out and saddled him for the first time since we have gotten him.  He did really well, needs some continued training, but is more than green broke, so we are very happy.

So, it has been a good, productive day on the farm.  Long, hard work, but good healthy work.  And Zeri is now going to be able to work with a fellow who has an auto body shop - something Zeri is very interested in - turns out the guy that has the place where we get some of our hay does all that and could use some help -and Zeri is VERY interested in all things cars, but particularly body work!  This guy works by himself and could use some help - so he will apprentice Zeri!!!!  He is so excited!  He and the other two older boys will go help out tomorrow so we shall see how it goes.  I am so excited because this is something Zeri has been wanting for quite a while.  He is such a hard worker and will do so well with this, just the chance to try it out is fabulous!  And this is such a godly man too, I am so grateful!  What an opportunity!  So, at this point we have two kids with internships in their special interest areas, and another supposed to start soon!  Praise God!  What an opportunity for them all!

Well, this tired  body is going to go to sleep.  I would love to think the weight will shed right off, but I am too old for that.  Oh, well.

"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

Saturday, May 7, 2011

222 pieces sold!!!!

Just wanted to do a quick post before I totally crash for the night, or is it morning yet?

We had our homestudy appointment, and it went very well this afternoon.  The kids really came out of their shells and enjoyed talking to the social workers - sometimes they aren't comfortable being interviewed and thy know that this visit really counts to help their sisters come home.  We were all very nervous anyway.  But it all went well, We have the plans in place for the room remodel and it is all approved!  Yay!  Making progress, but I stress so much about all of this, that it feels wonderful to have this part done!!!

And on another note, as you see above, 222 pieces of the 1000 piece puzzle for our fundraiser for adoption fees for the girls!  We are asking a $2 donation for each piece, and your name is put on the back of a piece.  We are going to assemble all the pieces after they are all sold, and then the puzzle will be shellacked and framed, with plexiglass on both sides so they can see all the wonderful folks who helped to bring them home!  So, that means we have 778 left to sell!  Every little bit helps!  There is a "chip in" button on the left where you can connect to a way to donate online!  When you do that, we get an email that we have funds, and can get it placed into an account for payments to be issued to the agency!  I will be sending thank you notes!!!!  We are so very thankful, and because of your assistance, today we were able to make a payment toward the total we owe the adoption agency for the homestudy.  Thank you so very much!!!

I sat down tonight - after a very long couple days, and put names on the back of puzzle pieces!  Hooray!  I sorted out the edges first, put names on all of those and then started on the inside.
Thank you again!  I just wanted to be able to post the progress!

And now for something totally different!
Baby goats, playing in the sunshine!  On the left is Fiddle, and on the right is Fiona.  This is an "F" year - we name baby goats by theme, a different one each year to make it easier to remember how old they are!  Baby girls, disbudded, and very healthy!  They are so funny and it is a joy to have them bouncing around!

Well, it is after midnight and I am so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open.  We are going to Horse A Rama in Manitowoc tomorrow - Kiley is riding twice tomorrow and twice on Sunday.  I am very excited for this - we have wanted to attend before, but it never quite worked out!  Yay!

Good night all, and God bless - and, if you want to see a great play, go see "The Curious Savage" at St. Norbert's College - you can purchase tickets on their website.  Steve and I went to see it tonight - it worked out perfectly for when we had to be in Green Bay anyway to get kids to events.  What a great show!  I loved it!  We realized it is the first show we have sat through together for , in which we didn't know the play inside and out - usually we are watching a show the kids are in, and know the script by heart.  We had a blast!  Impromptu date night!!!

"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 29:1es

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quick update!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  We have another 100 puzzle pieces sold!!!!!  Thank you!  Not all of it is coming up on the chip in, as we have been handed some puzzle purchases!!!!  Thank you!  It was a rough day yesterday, and to have that occur literally brought me to tears!  I had just put on all my makeup for church (I generally don't wear much if any!) and I so didn't want to wreck it, but it was just wonderful.  It was wonderful to have this lovely couple say they wished they could hand us all of it (and this amount was wonderful!!!!), and we could share how we dream of someday doing something significant for an adoptive family - not that they need to know that it was us, but to know the amazing blessing it is - because it is the gift of life and a child, not just cash.  The cash is to get us to the child.  Honestly, at this point, money is nothing more than paper to me.  A means to an end.  Anyway, thank you so much!  So, of our 1000 piece puzzle, I will double check tomorrow, but I think we have186 pieces sold!  My fun tomorrow night is laying out all the pieces and labeling the sold ones and beginning assembling!!!

On a fun note, I am going to try to post some photos!  My favorite time of year is spring, and I am literally reveling in it!  Spring on the farm is so fun!  We so enjoy the spring, the warmth, the joy of being outside again!  I am sitting here at the computer, listening to Steve and a couple of the big boys putting up the ping pong table in the basement, and the other kids taking a break, sitting at the table chatting.  Happy noises!  Even with some rain! 
This is Chief, our Baskir Curly gelding - he is about five.  He is so sweet, and gentle!  We haven't ridden him as of yet (just got him a couple weeks ago - before the last snowstorm), but his ground manners are amazing and he is so gentle to handle!  We know he has had training, but isn't he cute!!!!

This photo is one the kids let me take for the first article I sold!!!  (Tsion, Ben, Faith and Solomon - my fab four - more than half of the year they are all the same age!)  My first magazine article!  And I just got word that another one sold!  Whoo-hoo!  I am a published author!  I am so excited!  I keep writing short ones for a local magazine that I like the content of, and I have a couple that I want to submit to Adoptive Families, and have two books in the works!  But how exciting anyway!  I have always dreamed of being an author!!!  I get to write about what matters to me - kids, family life, adoption, attitude and what not!  Yay!  Not that I expect it to be a career, but wouldn't that be cool? 

And the lovely Levi - what a change for this rescued gelding!  We have no idea what he really is, at least breed wise, but he is about 15 hands high or so, stocky like a draft horse, and was not treated well before he came here.  He is now approachable, even cuddly sometimes, and rules the herd along with Kiley's saddle mare Onyx!  Who would have thought it given how shy he was when he came home.  With warmer weather, we plan to try and see if our suspicions are correct and he has been trained to ride.  I think so, given his responses on the ground, but he was so scared for so long that it is hard to tell.  But he is an amazing animal!

Well, I just wanted to share some photos!  I love spring on the farm!  I am hoping to get to the garden somewhat, but that might have to wait for Monday, in between the kids schoolwork (recess break = Mom in the garden) - Kiley is at Horse A Rama this weekend - in Manitowoc - she is riding in the Parade of Breeds and then with an exhibition with a trainer just after that - her first starts at 12:30 and then she is back on about 2 I think, done around 3 or 4.  I told her that we can wait on buying her birthday presents (Sunday) until she goes to the vendors/used tack sale at Horse A Rama!  She loves the idea.  Now if she doesn't find what she is looking for there (we always always buy used) then we as parents are given two days grace to get her the remainder of what is on our list for her - if I go shopping now, I won't have any funds if she finds what she needs at Horse A Rama - she loves that deal!

I am keeping life sort of in boxes right now - basically around events - right now we are in the adoption work phase - until late tomorrow afternoon - pray for favor for tomorrow, though I am sure our visit will go well.  Then as of tomorrow night, I am in Horse A Rama box, and then come Sunday night, after collapsing for a while, I can be back in homeschooling mama phase.  I was able to pick up a couple extra hours next week, and that will be good, but not too overwhelming.  I hope the weather keeps picking up.  I love the warmer days, and longer days!  I am hoping to end every evening with a ride on one of the horses, or training time with one, but we shall see.  Soccer starts soon, but we haven't gotten that call as of yet!

Hope you can keep your chin up this weekend!  Remember, what you choose to feel or value is your choice!  Someone just asked me how I can be so upbeat.  I had to think about it, and my thought really was, well, I could choose NOT to be, but then I would be frustrated or mad, or envious, and that doesn't sound like a good time.  So, I have to choose to look at the good.  There is good in everything!  Even the chores we do are for a good reason - laundry, cooking, cleaning, all are for good reasons.  I had the best time cleaning the bathroom with Faith today!  She decided to have fun cleaning the tub and shower stall while I cleaned the floor, put things away, etc.  She was hysterical, cleaning the tub with her feet, cleaning solution and a rag.  We got the bathroom clean, had fun together, and spent time together.  I cleaned the stove with another child - we were cooking dinner, wiping around and having a great chat as we did it together.  The way I see it, I could be grumpy about doing a crummy job - because it is you know - or I could enjoy doing it - maybe not the job, but the company or whatever!  Some days this is easier than others, and actually, I am better at doing this at home than going to work or out and about.  I would rather be home!  But, if I don't have a choice, can I make it fun or make it beneficial and fun at the same time?  Life isn't intended to be misery, though certainly it can be!  Put it this way, we had a river in the basement for over a month with the thaw and rain.  We have NEVER had that before.  Stinks.  Three to four inches in the basement.  Ugh.  Upside.  Well, we only keep things in the basement for storage, and the things at floor level are in plastic tubs because it is damp down there.  If things got wrecked, well, they weren't important generally.  So, it helped us declutter.  And really, as it turned out, we were able to totally scrub out our very old basement, simply BECAUSE of the water down there!  We actually were able to turn a part into an area for the bigger kids to keep some activities that were appropriate (I am still hiding the drums!!!!).  The kids and I were so proud of how good it looks, we got Dad to help us move the pingpong table down there - up on blocks of course.  But either it had to go (the place it was is becoming a bedroom area for the little girls) or it went down there.  Nine of us got a lot done in two hours!  Unbelievable!  We are so proud!  Steve was so pleased to see what we did.  Talk about teamwork and family values!  So, what could have been a tragedy, a flooded basement, has turned out to really help us (and even cleaned out from the chicks being brooded down there until two weeks ago).  If I kept a negative attitude, what would it do, except really make us miserable, make the kids miserable, and make life unpleasant, and we would miss the gifts.  I chose the gifts.  Sometimes they hide really well.  Really, really well.  But, the only control I have over some things is how I react to them, and I won't allow anyone or anything to rob me of any of my joy, my pleasure in my family, or take away my family time.  If I let circumstances make me sad or bitter, well, it takes away my time with my family.  I only have so much time with my children.  They will grow up fast, I intend to relish every single second.  So, that is why I chose an upbeat attitude.  Because otherwise, it is draining and takes away my life!  LOL!

"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, May 3, 2011

Thank you!!!!!!

I just wanted to blast out a thank you post to the folks that have bought puzzle pieces!!!!  So far, 86 are claimed!!!!!  We are putting names on them Friday night (we are focused on getting ready for our homestudy appointment on Friday) and working to start assembling!!!!  I don't know if I should share names, but can I say that I know who you are, and I know that every penny means something from your budget!  I know that it is a sacrifice!  Thank you so very much!!!  Literally, every bit helps!  Literally!

I keep counseling other adoptive parents to just take it all one bill at a time, not to look at the whole thing all at once.  It is too daunting!  Right now we are focusing on that final payment on the homestudy - because then the dossier can go to Ethiopia, and we can apply for grants!  And in the meantime, we do everything that we can!  We are selling eggs as our chickens are wonderfully prolific, I am working as much as I can and grateful for it.  Steve busts his butt to be productive - they do get bonuses for it, even though he doesn't always have control over it!  I cannot thank you enough.

I got new photos of our girls today, again.  It has been a banner few weeks - we have gotten to see more and more of their sweet faces and personalities!  I so want to post them, but just cannot until we get them home.  Just know that they are well cared for in their care center, and that we are so anxious to get to them.  I know that this time I have more peace about it than I did with other adoptions, but maybe that is because I know the ropes, or maybe because I know that it will all just come as it should.

On another, fun front!  We have had a blast watching the two week old little filly run around the pastures!  Those long legs are just amazing.  She tries to do little bucks but isn't quite coordinated enough to do it yet.  But her mama is calming down and has given up on trying to keep up with her - exhausting herself chasing all over the pastures!  It seems that every evening she takes some wild runs all over, even to the point of chasing the pony mule all over (Jill must be part shetland pony in addition to donkey - we have her mom on the property, so we at least know that part for sure).  Just to watch that little bundle of energy and joy is so much fun!  I will try to post pictures over the weekend.

I am looking forward to a warmer day tomorrow!  Spring doesn't quite feel like it has really come yet.  I kind of compartmentalize parts of my life, mostly by the tasks or events that go on.  Like right now, I am a bit crazed, over-cleaning the house in preparation for Friday's appointment.  Honestly, we have had so many social workers in here, between having been foster parents, to all the pre-adoption work and all the post adoption works.  You would think it wouldn't make me nervous, but so much rides on it, and I just get nervous, so I putter.  Or repaint (like last time!), or totally declutter/reorganize/revamp.  It is really all that I can do to feel like I can make a difference.  The kids love it as we end up with the house looking pretty different, and a couple of my "organizer" type kiddos really love it.  We do our own home makeover and it feels great!  We are really enjoying spring cleaning and feel like it has a bigger purpose!  So, that is one compartment - that is just about all that I can think about until Friday afternoon is done.

Then we shift gears to a horse show weekend!  Kiley is riding in basically an exhibition at Horse A Rama with her trainer.  It is a great experience, and lower stress because it isn't a competitive event.  But, I am sure she will be nervous, and she has to be in full show gear, and we will be there most of the weekend!  So, my next focus is the horse show - and it is her birthday on Sunday!  Oh, yeah, and Mother's Day.  I will do something for my mom, but I know that my Mother's Day will be all about family and the horse show.  And honestly, I love horses and all, so it really is a good event for me too!  Mother's Day to me is just being with my family anyway, so I get what I wanted!

And then I can start thinking about getting the dossier assembled and out to our agency.  I will work a couple days (thankful hubby can work from home some days).  And putting in some parts of my garden - potatoes and carrots and some lettuce.

See how it works?  Compartmentalize so I can focus on one thing at a time!  LOL!  It makes it make sense to me and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by all that is going on.  I love life!  Some days it is a lot going on, but that is great!  Well, I am going to try to get some sleep before tomorrow's events: cleaning, reorganizing, time with the kiddos doing something fun, getting two kids to babysitting, helping at a nursing home church service, running some errands, quick dinner, and church!  Love it!!!!!

Thank you all those who bought puzzle pieces!  The encouragement is priceless and the contribution gets us closer and closer.  Thank you so much!!!!!!  God Bless!!!

"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, May 2, 2011

Just to clarify things....

You know, in life you get hurtful things said by people who try to tell you that they are saying things kindly, but generally are just not being kind, but being judgmental, uniformed and critical. Everyone faces it, everyone gets to deal with it.  But when it comes from a place you didn't expect, it hurts.

Well, today I got one such experience, by someone totally uniformed on our lives, and woefully inaccurate in their understanding of things.  In my attempt to deal with my own discomfort in this experience, I wanted to fire off something to clarify this.  It is honestly not for any reader necessarily, but for my own need to put it out there and process it myself.

We have had a few posts lately about our puzzle fundraiser.  To clarify - this is our fundraiser to go directly to adoption fees, and adoption fees only.  That is it.  We are doing fundraisers because people have asked us how to help and expressed dismay at the cost of adoption.  So, we are letting people know.  If you are not spoken to by God about contributing, please don't.  Please don't.  These funds go directly into our "adoption jar" which pays directly only to our adoption fees.  Adoption is costly.  It is wonderful, it is needed, it is a huge blessing.  But it is costly.  We figure to adopt the two girls who need us it will run around $25,000.  So far we are more than a third of the way into paying that.  The majority of that we have paid out of our own pockets.  We HAVE gotten some donations, one very nice one, and every single penny helps!  We are very thankful for each person who has come alongside us in this.  We have been told - "I wish I could do what you are doing, but I can't" for a variety of reasons.  Age, health, spousal wishes, on and on.  I completely get it.  We are all called to be there for the widow and the orphan.  It is very clearly stated in the Bible.  I can give you a long list of scriptures if you would like.  But, I know that there are many things in this life that I CANNOT do, or actually, I could try, but you really wouldn't want me to.  You wouldn't like the end result.  It isn't my gifting or what I have patience for.  I get it if this isn't your gifting.  It is no criticism on you that it isn't, just as it isn't a criticism of me that I am not a Wall Street bank tycoon or something. 

The fundraising is not for day to day living expenses or additions to the house, or the remodeling that we are doing to fix the bedroom situation.  We can afford to raise our children, feed our children, pay our bills, and do what we do on a daily basis.  Our children are well rounded, well experienced, well loved and doted upon.  We are grateful for blessings like hand me downs or whatever that stretches our budget, but what family isn't?  A bummer that gas is so costly, so we are paring down our trips to accommodate that.  It is LIVING WITHIN a BUDGET.  None of any donations to the adoption fund goes to living expenses.  It goes directly to payments to the adoption agencies.  If you do not feel like this is a good idea, please entirely disregard it. If you do, feel free to help, or simply send prayers.  I feel every one of those prayers! 

I know many people would disagree with how we choose to spend our lives.  I get it.  It isn't about proving anything to anyone or saving the world.  It is about doing what we can, loving what we do.  It is about loving each blessing in our lives.  No, we won't drive new cars, we won't have a fancy house, we won't go on fancy vacations to lovely places.  But I wouldn't trade it for the morning I had with my kids this morning.  With knowing that my kids are growing healthy and strong.  I cannot imagine life without any one of them.  I won't have a fancy retirement, fancy furniture, or what not.  I honestly don't care.  That isn't what I want.  At the end of my life, I know that I mattered to each one that lived in my home.  I know that my life stood for something - loving those God has placed in my life.  At the end of the day, if everything I owned in the world were to disappear tonight, but each member of my family was safe and intact, I would not shed a single tear.  Yes, we could "do much better" if we didn't have so many dependents.  If you consider that "doing better".  I don't.  I don't criticize those who do. 

In the meantime, we are moving forward.  I found a way to juggle and work two full days a week, with an entire half of that going to our adoption fees.  It makes a difference.  How quickly or slowly we go in this process depends upon this.  We are budgeting, selling, fundraising, working, and enjoying life.  At this point, I am so hurt by the comments that I got that it makes me just want to dig in my heels and go back to saying "never mind, we will do it entirely ourselves".  Maybe that is the way to go.  Except the person who said it has never seen our home that we have been at for nearly five years, has seen our family maybe twice a year in the past few years, and probably wouldn't recognize any of the kids if they passed on the street on the street (the homegrown as well as the adopted).  Okay, that is my mean comment.  I am finding it hard to take comments as valid from people with that little perspective. 

So, just to clarify, if God moves in your heart to help with the adoption fees, I want you to know that any bit of donation goes directly to the adoption fees.  We aren't even to the point of looking at travel fees.  We are hoping by then our tax return will be in.  The adoption tax credit will be great - if it ever arrives.  At this point, we are moving forward without it.  We have to.  We were hoping it would be here by now to cover these fees, and it should have been, given when we filed.  Sigh, that is another frustration, but there is nothing we can do about that.  God must have a reason for that too.

Thanks for letting me vent, if you made it this far. 

There are some days that we notice that not only are a "conspicuous family", and a "large family", but in other ways considered "not normal".  Yes, my kids don't all look like me.  Yes, some of them had hard starts.  But each one is a child of God, deserving of a family and a good life.  I am so grateful for each and every one of them.  I DO realize that with this adoption, we will have ten children, way over what is considered "normal".  That is OK. I honestly cannot imagine adopting again.  I cannot imagine it.  But you know what, when I look at each precious face, when I see them developing into the amazing people they were created to be, there is no counting the cost.  A week on a beach?  That is what we need for the homestudy or for travel expenses.  I would gladly trade.  Not for the beach.  That gives me a week of selfish comfort.  I will take these young lives instead.

Someone asked me once when it was "enough".  At this moment, I am convinced that it is "enough" when the girls get home.  I cannot imagine what would convince us to do this again - even if we had all the money in the world.  We laugh and say that our dream someday is to know of another adoptive family, working their way towards bringing their kids home, and handing them all the money they need.  Anonymously, but I well know the joy.  It isn't that the money is what counts - it is what it means for a child's life.  I am convinced that we will have reached our limit with these girls.  Who knows what God will say later?  There is so much need in the world.  When we cannot raise any more children, there are so many things we can do to make a difference.  We CHOSE to adopt these two little girls because we wanted one more go round with little ones, because we knew that we had something special to offer them, and because NOW was the time as we feel we need twenty strong years to raise these children.  Someone who interviewed us finally got it.  He looked at us and said, "This is your ministry, your children are your ministry.".  I will never forget looking in his eyes and feeling like there was finally someone who "got us".  He understood it.  This is our joy, our passion, our love, and our skill.  God has placed each member of our family here and we are doing the best possible for each and every one - and that doesn't mean spoiling them!

I know that our time of raising children is going to be done one day.  I adore each and every one of my kids.  This is our life now.  I don't want any other.  I don't want "me time".  I want to be with my family every minute that I can.  But I also know that when God determines that our mission should move to something else, He will tell us.  He has so clearly aligned all this, that we cannot say no.  And knowing the blessings even when it doesn't seem like it should be a blessing - well, it convinces me to go ahead even if it doesn't make sense to others.  I will take the laughter around my table.  I will take all the chores to keep us going.  I will take finding unique ways to raise the funds to adopt the girls - more than I usually make in a year.  It is just money.  Our budget does not include adoption fees, but every bit that it gets stretched allows something else to be poured back into the adoption fund.  Our family budget provides for our day to day expenses.  Soccer shoes, horse show entrances, music time, all of that, but not the extensive addition of adoption fees.  That we are creative about coming up with - selling items that aren't used, bartering time, starting businesses, being of service, working extra hours.  We know that we will get there.  We will.  If you want to help us along, please do, we are so grateful, you have no idea.  If you don't want to or cannot, please, be blessed.  I don't expect everyone or anyone to agree with us.  But I have eight proofs of the richness of life, of the extravagant blessings of life.  How would you choose which one to not have here?  I cannot.  First I could not imagine them, then I worked to imagine them as possible family members, then I worked to imagine them are real people, and then I met them as real people, real honest to goodness children of God who are such a part of my soul I cannot describe.  That is the gift of God.  That each member of our family is so rich.  So amazing.  So real.  So who they actually are.  The days I think that adopting strangers again is the craziest thing ever, all I end up doing is looking at these delightful young people in my home who I never knew existed a few years ago.  And now I cannot imagine life without them.  That is maybe what carries me on when I get scared.  I remember being scared before each of my homegrown children were born - what if I didn't love the new one like I loved the other?  It is the same here.  I worry about that - but I live with the proof.  Maybe that is the difference this time.  I live with the proof times five.  I cannot pretend that this kind of life is impossible.  That it is impossible for children without a family to have and accept the gift of a family, and for a family to have and accept the gift of a child.  This is possible, and lovely and wonderful and challenging, and amazing.  I would never be who I am now without them.  I never saw this coming, would never have thought that this would be my life.  And I wouldn't change a thing. 

Thanks for letting me talk it out.  I know many people don't understand and never will, but they also have never spent a day in our home.  Somehow writing it out has let me let it go.  I am so blessed.  I am so blessed and grateful, and whatever may come, it will be good.  These girls will add to the tapestry of our lives, we will add to theirs, and we will give them a home and a forever family, two parents and eight siblings who will love them for the rest of their lives!  I don't need anyone else to understand.  I do, my husband does.  That is all that matters when you are a family, isn't it?

Love always!  Life is too short!  Love richly, love wildly, and love fully!
"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

Puzzle progress!

Just wanted to update that we have 56 pieces of the puzzle claimed!  I am putting names on the pieces and will be working to start any places we can assemble!  I think we are starting with the edges!  It is the way I was taught (thanks Mom), so it is the way I do it!

I just want to ask folks to think about God's call for the orphan and how you can be part of it.  I know that we are asking for assistance, but there are also so many other ways you can be involved!  With us or with other families or children.  Sponsor a child, offer help, bring a meal, pass down outgrown clothes, etc.  Be a kind smile to a frazzled looking mom or dad.  It all helps!  We know that we need to complete this puzzle to get to the next step, in which we are able to apply for adoption grants.  There are options out there once we get this part done.  And then, there are other things that we are looking at:  remodeling the upstairs - putting up two new walls, and taking down two old ones. Reframing three doorways, plastering and painting. 

I always know that when I know someone needs financial help, I have so little to offer.  But I have energy and muscles.  And that is of value too.  So, if you feel a call to help with those things, please know that this is much appreciated too.  We had been planning that our tax return would come in any day now, but got word that it likely will not come until some time in July.  That puts the finances back on us, rather than using the tax return as we had planned.  We need to move things forward to get these little girls home.  They both are very small for their ages.  K, the year old, is very tiny and the last medical report lists her as "stunted" and "malnourished", and that is after gaining four pounds in three months of good care in the orphanage!!!  So, needless to say, I am very anxious to get them both home and to good medical care. 

Please consider if you can be part of this puzzle.  I will keep you posted on the progress.

"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