Friday, July 29, 2011

One down, one to go!

My new motto has been "If I build it, he will come".  In doing so, we had to start by kicking out moving out, two precious girls from the room Levi would go into and move them into our "play room".
Before doing that though, we had to make our play room fit for two princesses.

We've made progress ... a little at a time ... in between mission trips to Ethiopia, an entire season of select baseball, gymnastics, horse lessons, tbarm camps, chef's camps, dance recitals, homework, running two business's and well ... life.  You get the picture.  I suppose I should have initiated this process some time ago.  Perhaps it's my fault we're still waiting.  The Lord must have known that we are dreadfully


So, this week, I officially started Levi's painting in his room (and it looks oh, so cute!)  But as I was doing so, I realized that I never posted the "after's" of our other project NOW COMPLETE!

Here it is before:
Once just a space to play ... in the SIMPLEST form!

Now a bedroom fit for two precious girls!  
Thank you Daddy for 2 closets, one door, bookshelves and fun paint!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exciting Adventures Ahead ...

O.K. all my orphan loving friends.  It's time to get busy and get GOING!

On June 17, my husband's coffee company, Ground to Cup coffee launched the official partnership of G2C with Children's HopeChest, in taking on and loving a CarePoint community in Awassa, Ethiopia called "Warancha".  Our role is to gather our community together to sponsor 150 plus children (giving them education, medical/dental care, discipleship) and begin to effect change in their community through capital projects and more.  To add, GOING would be an opportunity for anyone interested each year.  Little did we know, the Lord would say "GO" so quickly.

Through a stream of incredible events, my sweet hubby will be leading the first ever Children's HopeChest/Visiting Orphans  mission trip into, count em', FOUR CarePoints (including the opportunity at ours) in Awassa, Ethiopia.
The team will also spend the first few days in Addis Ababa loving some precious kids in orphanages there.

This trip is sure to be incredible as the team will get to see first hand the difference sponsorship makes on a community and the children within it.  Each CarePoint is at different phases of it's sponsorship, capital projects including the possibility of spending time in OURS ... Warancha ... which is brand new.
We have many children yet to sponsor in this community (so please contact me if that interests you ... I'll get you all set up) so the team will also get to meet the sweet faces of those children who still yearn the hope of a sponsor family.  AND ... for those who have already activated their own sponsorships, you can meet your sweet children in person!

Time is of the essence in sign ups for this trip and so I would LOVE for any of your help.   FIRST, sign up yourself if you can go.  It will be life changing.  Next, promote it on your FB pages and blogs Please oh Please!  We want to fill this team and love big these children!

Go to Visiting Orphans  and click on "Mission trips".  Click on "Africa", "Ethiopia" and then "2011".  You can read more about the trip there under "October 6-16".  You can fill out your application right there online and then, fasten your seatbelt for 10 days that will completely wreck your world and arrest your heart forever!

Some of the sweet faces of "Warancha"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life without rose colored glasses

I have read and read and read ... adoption books that is;  "The connected child", ""A passage to the Heart", "Becoming a family", "Loved by Choice", "Adoption parenting" and more.

I have read and read and read ... all sorts of parenting books; "Creative Correction", "Shepherding a Child's Heart", "Dare to Discipline", "Making Children Mind without Loosing Yours" and more.

But the reality is, not one of these books, nothing anyone can say ever prepares a Mommy for the moment that your child breaks into an epic tantrum in the middle of a store.  In those moments, I swear, I think every paragraph and every word read disappears from it's pages and your child's behavior becomes a mystery waiting to be solved.

That was my day today.  With joy we dropped off one big sister for an exciting afternoon with a friend.  Brother was off with Daddy and now, it was "our" 3 special hours alone ... just me and Maliah.  As a Mommy of 3, it's always a huge blessing when you get just one on one time with one of your kiddos.  Soaking in every moment, I relish in getting to have that solidarity with them.  To give them the individualized attention they deserve and to just get to look into their little eyes and listen to their little stories - uninterrupted.  Today, we had 3 hours for a date to play with puppy's at the pet store, ice cream treats or whatever else we could find to fit into our day.  Or so I thought.

BUT ... life isn't always full of rose colored glass.  Today, it seemed Maliah had other plans.

As we walked into Wal Mart, the fun began.  "Maliah hold my hand" I asked.  Looking at me with a stubborn defiance she pulled her hand away and tucks it behind her back "no".  "Maliah, please hold Mommy's hand (putting out my hand to her nicely).  "No" (as she retracted hers back again).

just great ... here we go, one of those moments when her stubborn control meets my stubborn control.

"Maliah, please hold my hand".  "No".
Grabbing her hand firmly with my mine, I began to walk towards the isle we needed to go.  This was not going to be our day!!

screaming and yelling commenced 

"Your hurting me, your hurting me" she yelled

dropping her hand I look down and say firmly while I put my hand out in invitation

"Please hold my hand, Maliah, and I won't have to firmly hold yours if you hold mine"

tucking her hand behind her back (of the one I am asking for), she hands me her other hand.
Indeed, another moment she works to control everything around her ... including me!
The reality is, this is the epic adoption battle we deal with in our home.  This is the epic stronghold and wound that hangs over our heads in this thing we call Adoption.  This is the thing that rears it's ugly head over and over and over - her need for CONTROL!  Oh, for some on the outside, it looks so simple.  Why not just take her other hand (the hand SHE offers) they all ask?  Why is that such an issue?  Well, what about when the control goes far past just what hand she'll lend?  What then ... do you give in to that too?  Where you do you draw the line?  Where is it necessary to actually win the battle so that one day we can win this war!   No, really I am asking ... where is it?  Those books don't seem to tell me.  Nothing seems to really and truly prepare me for the amount of anger and frustration that begins to brew up inside me when I have to stop everything I am doing and physically carry my screaming daughter to the car (with the world watching on) all because of her desire to control one thing ...  No book seems to prepare me for the moment when I have to physically put her in her car seat, kicking me and screaming at the top of her lungs.  This time I ask:

"Put on your seat belt please"

The screaming continues and she jumps out of the car seat.  In defiance, she'll control this too.  So, do I give in to that?  I mean, for those who say, "just take the hand she's given".  What now?  You can't exactly drive down the road with a tantruming 5 year old in the backseat unstrapped in,  can you?  What do I do now?

I stop ... everything ... get in the front seat and close the door.
I put on my own seat belt and don't say another word.  Through my frustration, tears and anger I think "What now?  What did all those books say to do now"? What do all those books say to do when you are caught somewhere between wanting to sob your eyes out in the middle of a Wal Mart parking lot or completely loose it on your 5 year old daughter"?

Driving away I just pray she'll get in her seat and fasten her belt.  Have I called her bluff long enough?  Will she try to control this the whole way home or will she finally give in?  The reality is, I could have sat on her in her car seat, in the middle of that parking lot and forced that seat belt on her but then what?  I would have been the lady caught on the camera and on the 6 o'clock news.  The headlines would have read "Crazy woman caught abusing adopted child in the parking lot of Wal Mart".  Oh it would have read that, but would everyone watching also go back and watch the video to see her thrashing about in the car and refusing to put her seat belt on just 2 minutes prior?  Would the article say something else if instead, I let her ride home not in a car seat, not in a seat belt and screaming and jumping all over the car?Probably not.  I still would have been the negligent, abusing Mom.

The tantrum continued the entire 15 minute drive home.  She yelled at the top of her lungs (though she did finally get in that seat and strap herself in ... was that a victory of one battle?) and I prayed with all I had in me for the answers from those books (and the one book that matters ... the bible).
We arrived home and I asked her to go to her room.  Of course, she wouldn't give into that either.  After several times of asking, I physically picked her up and put her in her bed (without speaking a word).  4 times she ran after me screaming and kicking and 4 times, I repeated that drill.

Finally, she stayed in her bed ... screaming.

I went down the stairs and sobbed!

Quiet finally settles into my home.  Tiptoeing upstairs I dare to peak to see what she is doing.  Sleeping ... like an angel, she is sleeping.

This time it is finally over!

Oh you can read all the books on adoption and you can read all the books on creative correction and discipline.  But the reality is, a life without rose colored glasses may look a lot like this.

Don't take one more step into this world of adoption with them on.  You will be sorry you did.

*(I have decided to blog the reality of this day as I hope that somewhere in my frustrations, the Lord will use it to teach me something ... perhaps through something you can share ... or encourage you, in the event that you too have shared in a moment/day like this.  Obviously, I adore and love my Maliah but, I cannot walk the road of adoption and paint a beautiful portrayal of it's story without sharing that on some days, it's hard and on some days, the reality is, adoption is the fruit of brokenness, rejection and abandonment.  With those 3 things comes a multitude of issues to pray and work through.  With those realities also comes the reality of what brokenness looks like.  This just happens to be our picture today)*

One for One

In February of this year, my Visiting Orphans team had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a TOMS shoe distribution in Ethiopia.  It was a day I will never forget and a honor I am sure I was never worthy to receive.  To fit the feet of so many precious lives was incredible.  To be the Lords hands and feet to the orphan, widow and foreigner among us ... was life changing!!  I love TOMS but will admit that until yesterday, I have never owned a pair.  TOMS, I love your "One for One" campaign, but this frugal Momma saving for a second adoption doesn't lend itself to such treats.
But, Granny loves to bless ... and well
Gifting me these 

Reminded me of the day
I got to gift these

"Serve one another in love." - Galations 5:13

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I give!

O.K. so while I was admittedly throwing a 2 year old tantrum the other day about the wait time, it seems the Lord still has so much for me to learn ... in multiple areas of my life.

"To Live is Christ, to die is Gain"

Oh how hard that is, right?  And to be honest, he's working on this exact thing in every place of our lives in our family.  As my precious hubby moves ahead bold and confident, following the Lord in obedience with 2 businesses, we wait and trust that his hard work will produce fruit and blessings.  We wait ... is this my theme?  We wait and wait and wait in every place of our lives.  Dying to self is a concept we're seeing across all areas of lives.  So. Hard.  

I sent a text to a few sweet friends and asked them to pray on Tuesday.  Tuesday was so so hard.  All I knew to do was to drop to my knees and well, honestly, I knew my knees were not enough that day.  Encouragement and other's needed.  Hmmm mmmm.  
I got such sweet responses.  Community!

One sweet friend shared a sweet text of encouragement ... a friend that is also walking this long journey and has waited for his promises revealed.  In her note she talked of dying to expectations.  Hmmm mmmm, there we go again, that whole die to self concept. Argh!

Another sweet friend sent me a text late in the evening.  This gal is a prayer warrior like I have never known.  I love to hear her pray, I love to know she is praying for me and I know that when she says she's storming the gates ... she has drawn in for a battle and the enemy is terrified!  So, my text from her was a sweet one.  She said she was praying that God would bring Levi and I together in my dreams.  That he would connect our spirits across time and space so that I may be encouraged and he may be encouraged until the day draws in that he is in our arms.  Oh how I love this prayer.  I have begun to pray this for myself.  As I read these words my thoughts immediately went to the days long before we actually began this journey when the Lord gave me several dreams of a small child, of chocolate skin, wearing a blue shirt.  I know in my dreams now that that was my Levi ... could the Lord then have already been knitting us together in our dreams ... across time and space?  

So today, my perspective is slowly changing.  Still it is hard to think we could wait and wait and wait some more.  But as I wait, I am encouraged and in his word reminded by a sweet community of his promise.  In the end, I give in.  I can kick and scream like a two year old which to be honest, I am sure I'll do again somewhere in this journey or I can put on my big girl panties and do this like a big girl.  

Habakkuk 2:3 "But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I just lost my lunch

Today felt just like this rollercoaster ... nose dive!  I went from preparation mode and feeling so sure that with passing up 7 months of DTE that we were just around the bend to that long awaited day ... REFERRAL DAY!  


NOPE ... not gonna happen ... not for a while!

I was siting in the middle of a meeting for Ground to Cup when I heard an e-mail come in on my phone.  Sneaking a peek I see that it's from my family coordinator, Jennifer.  
Hmmmmm ... wonder what it says?

As your family is in the waiting stage of the adoption process, we are writing to inform you of a change to our predicted timeframes between dossier submission and referral.     

The wait for an infant male referral is now predicted to be between 10 and 16 months.  The wait for an infant female referral is now predicted to be between 11 and 18 months.  Wait times currently show a trend of increasing.

There are many factors that contribute to wait times. Each child’s case can vary in the amount of time it takes to be ready to be referred to a family.  America World thoroughly investigates each case and it can take weeks, and at times months, to clear referrals with medical or documentation issues, or to obtain necessary governmental documents/clearances/etc. that are needed before he or she can be referred. 

While we know this news is disappointing, we are encouraged to share that MOWCYA has increased the number of recommendation letters they write to 15 per day. We will continue to apprise your family of any other changes that occur, and we are praying for your family and all families in the various stages of the adoption process.  Please feel free to let me know if you have any follow up-questions.

UGH!  There went my lunch.  Just like that, I went from sitting at the top of the roller coaster to taking a plunging and gut wrenching fall.  

Of course.  Lucky me, I was amidst others so I bravely held back the tears and forced a smile the next several hours...
until the drive home
GUSH!  Sob!  
What does this mean?  7 months isn't even close to "our day"!  Our wait just got 
Oh, I trust the Lord.  I know what you want to say to me "His timing is perfect".   Believe me, I know it is!  I know he is faithful and I know his timing is perfection ...But frankly, I just have to be totally honest and say that Today.Felt. AWFUL!  Today, I got kicked in the gut.  Today, someone let the air out of my tires.  Today, I nose dived down a roller coaster - and I don't even like roller coasters - and threw up on my way down.  Simply put.
Today ...THIS SUCKS!  

So, we wait and wait and wait some more.  Yep, that's what you do when the Lord calls you to something ... you trust and you wait.  And sometimes, in the middle of it all, you 


And even when your done crying, 
you praise him!  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Field of Dreams

One of my favorite movie's is "Field of Dreams".  Remember how the character, Kevin Costner, keeps hearing "if you build it, they will come"?  And indeed, he does ... and they do!  A field of greats appear in his once, corn field, made into a spectacular baseball field when he does just that ... prepares a place for them!

Or how about just like Jesus tells us?  He tells us in John 14:2 "In my Father's House are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am 

We don't know what heaven looks like or feels like.  We can't "see" our father preparing that place but we know by his word that he is!  Just think,  just like our room for Levi ... your Father is preparing a room for you!  Let that sink in!

So, in thinking about our 7 month anniversary today for our Levi, I realized that I too am preparing a place for him.  And like Jesus will do for us, we indeed will fill that space one day!  The problem is, most of our preparation (though not at all a bad thing) has been of the heart and emotions.  We pray and talk of him OFTEN.  I have read and continue to read a gazillion books on adoption to the point that I am starting to diagnose every kid I meet with an "issue".  But, the one thing I haven't done yet was to prepare his physical place.

Right now, poor sweet Levi's room is nothing more than a junk room.  What was once our girl's bedroom (oooh, see, I have prepared ... I moved them out so he could move in) has since become a place for all the stuff we haven't yet decided what to do with.  A T.V sits on the floor surrounded by bean bags for playing the play station that sprawls across the floor.  The walls are still yellow and still adorn the words "Dakota" and "Maliah" where their beds once were.  Curtains complete with cute little lady bugs dangling off them hang from the window.  A modge podge of "stuff" ... but not necessarily his fills his space.  I do have to give us some credit!  A closet FULL of toys do await our Levi ... match box cars, train tracks, GI Joe figures and a huge TeePee.  Courtesy of one awesome big brother who graciously made us aware on his 11th birthday just a few short weeks ago, that it was time for the pass down, the closet is full.  Levi, you may not have a bed ... and you might have yellow walls with lady bugs ... but Canyon has got you covered in boy toys!

SO, we have decided

"If we build it, he will come".  

Made that first step today and purchased the bedding I have been looking at.  And lucky me ... perhaps the number 7 is lucky ... because it had gone on SALE!  

Want to see his bedding?  It's super cute!  And, because we won't know what he likes/dislikes, we decided to go with something without a "theme" and add to it as we see what he loves.  Of course, our bedding doesn't have "Ryder" monogrammed on the pillow.  After much discussion between Dakota and I, we also decided to not do monogramming because as Dakota said "what if Levi decides he doesn't want to be Levi after all" GASP!  What if, we actually love his given name?  We just might!

And, just like the awesome movie, "Field of Dreams" ... I am certain once we build it, our space will also be eventually filled with someone GREAT!

Is 7 really a lucky number?

7 month DTEaversary.  7 months since our paperwork arrived in Ethiopia.  
Will 7 be the "lucky" 7?  Only the Lord knows ....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dear Friday,

Dear Friday,
Each week you come and well, it's not your fault that I have learned to dread you.  Saturday and Sunday, I know your great ... but really ... Monday through Friday these days are my favorite. They are the days of possibilities!  They are the days that bring promises and answered prayers for the many who await them.   But, don't fear Friday (or Sat. or Sunday), one day I'll return again to loving you ... just as soon as my home is filled with the promise HE gave!

Yep ... here comes the weekend ... and with it, here it comes ... the official "7" months of waiting.  I've always loved the number 7 and while I don't believe in "luck", perhaps somewhere amidst the 7 month mark we'll have a little "luck" of our own.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cross on over with us!

On June 17th we were blessed to have an awesome event, "The No Double Yellow Line" where my husband's coffee company, Ground to Cup Coffee officially launched our CarePoint Sponsorship "Warancha" in Awassa, Ethiopia.  We partnered our evening with my bestie and the oh so talented and incredible Cindy Foote as she debuted her new EP release of "No Double Yellow Line" that features 7 songs on adoption and orphan care.  (Go on over and get yourself a copy ... my adoption friends, you will be so encouraged by her songs while you wait!)

The night was more than we hoped or imagined as Cindy blew our socks off and brought the guests to both tears and laughter as she shared the world of adoption through her own lens ... 3 times over.

Michael Vinson of Children's HopeChest , shared the vision of why we are doing what we are doing ... working to get 150 children of Awassa, Ethiopia sponsored and spurred us each to action as he shared the heartbeat of their amazing ministry ... YOU!  HopeChest couldn't do what they do to provide Hope for so many lives without each family who gives of their heart and time to a child sponsor.

Doug Martine, (my amazing hubby) of Ground to Cup called us from a place of complacency to action and asked us each to get involved.   The Ground to Cup team is so excited about this partnership with HopeChest and this CarePoint and truly we feel like our motto "bringing other's a Hope and Future" is exemplified through each family who joins us to love big this community.

I shared my heart for the orphan and personal testimonies of seeing first hand stories of children who have been sponsored in Ethiopia from my trip in February.  I shared the reality of what life for a child might look like when their is no hope for an education, meals, discipleship and medical care.  With a badge of honor, each child hold's your family, their sponsor family, close to their hearts.  Even from afar, your relationship is valued and worth far more to each child than any other worldly possession!

An impromptu time of prayer over the Ethiopia program and families had me in tears at the end.  Cindy called ET families to the front and as the spirit led, friends (and strangers) from the crowd came to the front to lay hands on those of us in this program ... and prayed on behalf of our families and on behalf of the Ethiopia program at large.  As well, during Cindy's song "Bring our Children Home", she asked each adopting family in the audience to stand (wowie, there were LOTS!) and as she sang, she asked those near each family to lay hands on the standing families and sing this song over each of them as a prayer and blessing over their journey and child.  Tears!  (go check out the song and the lyrics).

25 families picked up sponsor packets that night and so far around 13 of those families have followed up and activated those sponsorships.  There is many many more children looking for that hope that you can give.  Just think for $1 a day, you can change the future of a child forever.

So, come on, join us as we embark on this new adventure.  We're learning it all with you and excited to see what is in store.  For sure .... trips to love our children will be on the future horizon!  For all my Ethiopia adoption loving friends, you can continue loving the kids of Ethiopia long past the day of bringing your own home.  What an awesome opportunity to give your child to bless his/her birth country ... and even one day return with us to love these kids big!

*If you are interested in sponsoring a child ($34/month), leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I will get in touch with you*  

Special Thank You's for the night cannot go unnoticed.  Without these folks, this event would have never happened!

  • Crossbridge Community Church - your willingness to step up and open your beautiful facility to us was a blessing!  Thank you Debbie Ashton for all you did!
  • David and Billie Gill, Debbie and Paul Graff, Evelyn Demelio, Janet and Bill Gonser - the catering and kitchen team who cooked and served all 220 people that night!  Your hands of service were amazing!  
  • Evelyn Demelio - your yummy cakes!  Thank you!
  • Ground to Cup Coffee - Briskets, coffee, coordination of the event
  • Billy and Cindy Foote and their amazing band!  Thank you to each of you for coming all this way to make this night a huge success
  • Jennifer Verme - the amazing centerpieces that adorned each and every table.  You are talented beyond our imagination!
  • Michael Vinson and Children's HopeChest for the opportunity to partner with you in Ethiopia!
  • Our community; friends and family who joined the night and made it fabulous!
  • Those who have said "yes" to sponsorship!  This is only the beginning to the rest of the story! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

"In case you think we're all a bit crazy ...

I get the question often,"how much longer until you know who Levi is"?  On Leno's top 10 questions of the year, it should be this question ... and not just for me ... but for MANY of my friends in this thing we call "the adoption community".  If I knew this answer, life would be, well, predictable and then that would just be too easy for international adoption!  So, on our yahoo group we keep an "unofficial" DTE list of all our families by date.  Why unofficial?  Well, because our agency doesn't actually just give us this list because that too would make things more predictable ... and who needs that?  There may be families out there whom have never joined our "group" - gasp!  But if they have, then they have also, like me, added their DTE (Day to Ethiopia - as in the day your paperwork went off), their preference on age/gender etc to this "list".  And because well, we're all a bit crazy over the unknowns ... we try to give ourselves some sort of idea by knowing who is before us so by some random chance we can predict the unpredictable.  As referrals come to those families we take them off this list below and add them to a list we call a "NAG" (needs at a glance) where we pray them through their court date, embassy clearance and scheduled arrival home.  Yep, we're big brother to one another ... we know where we all are. HAHA

So, if you look at this list, you'll find my family down there under "DTE 12/9/10".  And yes, on the list there are many families whose paperwork went off before ours did ... BUT ... then you can also see the age/gender request for each family and see that most families request an infant.  We are what AWAA calls "The no trend history" fam.  I thought I'd throw one more way to be unpredictable in to my life.   Not many folks request this group of kids and yes, we have a #2 by our name ... which recently was moved from a #1 by our name (to which we had been for a loong time).  But , LOOK AGAIN ... the family in #1 is seeking a girl of our age group so that would "officially" on the "unofficial" list make us #1 - STILL.

But in the end, in case you think we're all a bit crazy for all this tracking and work we do to find one bit of shred of a guess or idea on our timeframe, we are.  But, the good news is as you can see from just the beginning of this list ... because there are many families after me and before me... that I am not alone! 

And so, when you ask "How long until you know who Levi is?".  The only thing I can do is check "this list" and try to predict the unpredictable ... because truly the only one who knows officially, is the Lord who created him, called us, and will finish this!   

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