Wednesday, May 25, 2011

She's back

The mom and the kids showed up at the adoption agency again. She is ready to move forward with her adoption plan. Again.

We used to get excited when the adoption agency would call with this news, but now we are a bit jaded because of her disappearing acts. If only we could look around the corner!

But since we are blinded to tomorrow, we take things one step at a time. In faith, we move forward. Not knowing where we are going - but knowing Who we are following.

The Holder of tomorrow is also the Holder of our hearts, and so we can take that step, even if we have no clue where the path will lead us. God knows what tomorrow will bring - and that's what matters most. We trust Him. We know He doesn't make mistakes. Even when things look all messed up, we know He is still working. We don't know what He is working on, but trust that He is using this situation for good, no matter how it ends up.

And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him - Romans 8:28

And so another visit has been set up. For this weekend. An extended weekend, actually. We should have the kids from Friday through Tuesday. During this time, we'll love on the kids and share our family life with them.

These types of visits are encouraged by the State with older child foster/adoptions. I suppose it gives us all a taste of what could be. The mom can see if she can really do this - and so can we. Ideally, these visits would have happened all along, but with her disappearing acts that has been impossible to do.

Nothing is set in stone yet. She still needs to decide. So do we. We all want what's best for the kids - for all 4 kids. We are weighing very heavily how bringing two more kids into our family will affect Luke and Emma. She is weighing very heavily what is best for her and the kids. The social workers have their input as well. No one is being forced to do anything that isn't 100% agreed upon by all parties.

We will all take as long as we need to make this life-changing decision. No matter what tomorrow holds, there are a lot of things to consider for everyone. We have had lots of thoughts, prayers, conversations and tears through all this.

And so we hold onto our faith, thankful this decision isn't just up to us humans! God's going to get us all in the "right place" for the best decision to be made. For all of us.

And that is the one thing I am 100% sure of.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm convinced Toy Story is real

When I was a little girl, I was convinced that all my toys came alive at night. So I'd put them away just so, with their faces facing up. After all, I wanted them to be able to breathe :)

When Toy Story first came out, I thought, 'How cute. Someone has the same imagination I did.'

Then I had kids. And then I realized it's not my imagination. I mean, how else can you explain the green army men I find in the strangest places? They are always all by themselves, standing guard. I once found one standing up on top of the magic kit box in the toybox. How is that even possible??? I mean, the toybox is a wreck - and this little toy is going to be standing on top of something?

And what about Ken? I realize he is the only male in the Barbie house. But I am constantly throwing him out on the Barbie house porch, that dirty dog.

But yesterday, I found a toy that took the cake. I went into Luke's room to change his sheets on his loft bed. A stuffed Spiderman - no magnets or anything - was stuck to his metal bed. I mean - STUCK there. Not shoved in between the bars or anything. I have no idea how he was not falling off. The only explanation is that he was holding on when he got busted climbing up Luke's bed as I walked into the room :)

A closer look... Unbelievable. ha.

You're busted, Spidey. And all of your toy friends, too. I'm onto all of you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who is "everyone else"?

My kids are very concerned with everyone else. I was too, as a kid. I thought it was just me - but maybe it is everyone?? Do all kids struggle with what everyone else is doing? Or are my kids just so much like me...????

Now that I am a parent I am so over this. "But everyone else does it!" Oh. My. Goodness. Do I really care that everyone else stays up until 11:00, even on test night? Do I care that everyone else drinks pop and eats hotdogs for dinner, like every night? Do I care that everyone else wears a certain kind of clothing? Or that everyone else talks that way, walks that way, or acts that way?

Who sets these standards anyway?!?

Usually I try to take the parental approach and explain that everyone is different. And how boring it would be if we were all the same. They obviously don't buy it.

Tonight I tried a new approach. I had it up to here with the everyone else comments. So I told Luke, "Congratulations, it's your lucky night. You can stay up until 11:00! Go get a Coke out of the fridge and turn on the TV." He just stared at me. "What are you waiting for? Go ahead!" "No, mommy!" "Oh, you don't want to watch TV? How about your DS? Do you want to play your DS for 2 hours straight? Oh, make it 3 or 4, then you can stay up until midnight!" "Mommy, stop it!" "But everyone else does it, Luke." "I don't care what everyone else does, mommy!" And he started to cry.

Oh, really??? Since when don't you care what everyone else does??

So then I tried my new found parenting trick on Emma. "Guess what, Emma? Tonight is going to be a great night. Throw away your new toothbrush." She just stared at me. (Must be contagious!) "Go ahead, throw it away." "Why, mommy? Why?" "Because you won't need it anymore. I realized I'm the only mean mom on the planet who makes her kids brush their teeth. I know how badly you hate brushing your teeth, and how no one else has to brush their teeth, so we're going to be like everyone else. Throw it away." "No, mommy, no!" as she got out her toothpaste and started brushing like mad.

Huh. Maybe "everyone else" isn't so appealing after all... Until tomorrow, of course.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Can you hear it?

I think I just heard a pin drop.

Things have been quiet. Really quiet. Not a peep from the kids' mom. I have no idea if she's changed her mind or if she'll be back again. The adoption agency sent her a letter and now we wait to see when - if - she contacts them again.

Sometimes silence is deafening.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My life is a toilet

Just when I think I'm actually going to do something productive today - like dust my now-gray furniture, I'm reminded that my *real* job is much more exciting than that. I get to clean bathrooms, like totally nonstop! Yahooey!

I'm not sure why I clean the bathrooms, actually. They're just going to get dirty again in 5 minutes anyway. Can they even be considered sanitary if they're only clean for 5 minutes - tops?

I have two things going against my wanna be clean bathrooms: an 8 year old boy and an almost 14 year old dog. I am learning about this boy gene - but seriously, is it really that hard to actually aim?!?!

And the dog. My poor, old, "first born". She is starting to have accidents in the house. And they're always in the bathroom. Go figure. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad she goes where it's easy to clean, but does she seriously forget to go outside??

Not to mention the amount of snot I wipe in a day. Or someone wet their bed - again. Or someone's nose / arm / foot / finger is bleeding. Again. Or someone stepped in dog poop - outside of course ;) (So far we haven't had any casualities of stepping in dog poop in the house - yet!) Or a dog threw up. Or someone needs a butt wiped. Or someone spilled a juice box - or a whole box of snacks. Yes, sometimes in the bathroom. How does that happen?!?!? Or someone didn't make it to the bathroom. Again. It just comes out so fast sometimes, you know! Or someone assumingly rolled in a mud puddle, including getting every strand of hair muddy - but they don't know how it happened! I promise! Dog or child. Yes, the dogs give me excuses too. Just look at those puppy dog eyes... both on the furballs and the kids.

And yet although my life is a toilet, I have never been happier. I love being a mom. I have no brain cells left - I promise I have a B.S. degree - and not that kind!!! I say the same thing 20 times a day, the laundry is never ending, and the sweeper gets a daily workout - unlike me. I'm lucky if I dry my hair most days.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I actually got a compliment the other day. A good friend asked my why I was "all done up" that day. I had my hair twisted in an updo, with a claw clip. If I would've let it down, it would probably still be wet under there. I think she was just flattering me because she's a mom too - but she said she wasn't.

I guess I wear this mom thing okay :)

Well, maybe it was the makeup or the shoes - it really is amazing what lipstick and sassy shoes will do to my day - but seriously, wet hair in a claw clip?

I can think of worse things.... like 20 years from now when my house is cleaned in 10 minutes flat, but there are no boo-boos to kiss or messes to clean.

Yeah, I'll take wet hair and a messy bathroom anyday.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Deja vu all over again

It's been a quiet week. The adoption agency hasn't heard a peep from the kids' mom. This is quite typical - we've been here before. She moves forward with her adoption plan, things begin to progress, and then we don't hear from her for awhile.

So I'm not surprised we're here again, even though this was the most the adoption plan had ever progressed.

The adoption agency tried to call her this week and they got a message that she was out of minutes for her cell phone. So they went to her apartment - twice - and she wasn't home. So now their only option is to send a certified letter.

In this final attempt to contact her, they are going to ask her if she's changed her mind with her adoption plan. If she has - I just wish she'd tell us instead of just disappearing. It's been an emotional roller coaster of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

I know it's been an emotional roller coaster for her, too. This is difficult no matter how you look at it.

I have a peace that what is meant to happen, will. I don't know what that is - but God does. Despite the free will God has given us all, His plans ultimately prevail. And He already knows the plans He has for these kids, for their mom, and for us.

God never makes mistakes. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother's Day to Remember

I'm usually not one to get all gaga about holidays. I used to - but Joe's not one to go over the top with these things. So I've gotten used to the more low key side of holidays. But this year - God had a BIG surprise in store for my Mother's Day celebration.

My Mother's Day was doubly blessed. We had the joy of fostering two children this weekend. Now joy and fostering are not two words that I ever thought to put together. Neither have I ever thought that word would be put to practice in this house. I always thought it would be too hard on the kids (and us) to bring a child into our family and then to let that child go away again.

But God is full of surprises! He never fails to knock my socks off - and life is never quite what I expect. Ironically, it's always better than I imagine. Way better.

Let me back up. 15 months ago, we decided to pursue newborn adoption. Here in the United States this time. Adopting here is way different than adopting internationally. Adopting internationally is a matter of WHEN. Adopting here is a matter of IF. There are no guarantees we'd ever get a baby. Typically, the birthmother chooses adoptive families and if we never got chosen - well, we'd never get chosen.

So there was no point in telling people we were adopting again since it might never happen.

4 months ago, our adoption agency called. We had been chosen! But wait. It wasn't a pregnancy situation. They have never had this situation before - there was a mother who was thinking of placing her 4 year old and her less than 1 year old for adoption. She wasn't sure she could do it, but she wanted to talk with us. Were we open to this?

We said we were - we are always firm believers that God will shut doors - so we moved forward in faith. I talked with her on the phone and we made arrangements for us all to meet.

It was very awkward. When we first met Luke and Emma, they were ready to be adopted. When we met these kids, they were with their mom. There really are no words to describe it all.

After that initial meeting, we met a few more times. Then they disappeared. The mom wasn't showing up for her appointments and wasn't returning the adoption agency's calls. We all assumed she changed her mind. We weren't surprised, which is why we didn't tell many people about our "plans" - we just didn't think it would happen. And then when it didn't happen, we were glad we hadn't told many people. Kind of like an adoption miscarriage, I guess.

We thought the door had closed.

But then she came back. Weeks later, she came back. She surprised everyone. We never thought we'd hear from her again. But she walked right back into the adoption agency saying she wanted to go through with the adoption. So the legal ball started rolling again.

But then she disappeared again.

Last week, she showed up again. She again told the adoption agency she wanted to move forward with the adoption again. So the adoption agency suggested a foster care arrangement, where we could both see if this might work.

And this time she didn't walk away. 3 days after she came back to the adoption agency, we went to the agency - and our lives changed forever. She kissed them goodbye and we buckled them into carseats in our van, took them home, and fostered them this past weekend.

Our lives will never be the same.

These children are troubled children. Their mom is doing the best she can, but she is single and is stuck in a cycle of poverty and missed opportunity. She admits that herself. She loves them but wants a better life for them, which is why she struggles so much with this decision.

But all those troubles aside, we took them in and loved them this weekend. We shared our family with them, we tucked them in at night, and I even kissed a boo-boo. We got a few hugs and a few smiles. We had some conflict and we had some joy. We had some confusion and we had some peace.

It was amazing.

Now they are back with their mom and I can't imagine what she is thinking. This has got to be very hard for her.

I don't know what we're thinking either. Yes, we have taken ourselves to the place where this could turn into a potential adoption for us. The kids all got along amazingly. Luke and Emma miss them like crazy already. Don't get me wrong - there were some issues that will need to be worked out as we all get adjusted. But the instant bond they all shared was really something. Having 4 wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. We honestly had a lot of fun!

But then the other side of me wonders - could we do this? Could we bring these children into our family? How difficult would the adjustment period be? How will two more kids impact Luke and Emma? They are our first priority since they are already here - we've got to protect them first and foremost.

Not to mention what their mom is thinking. Could she really walk away and place their futures in our hands??

This is all very complicated emotionally.

But I am so thrilled to have had this opportunity - even if it was only for a moment.

And God will definitely let us know if it is meant to be a lifetime.

In the meantime, I am having sweet memories of the pittar patter of 8 little feet around here. These cute stinky yummy little feet.

And I'm wondering if Emma's room will ever be the same again. ha.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stuck in a revolving door

There have been many times in my life when I feel out of control. This is one of those times. I kid myself to think that I am actually in control - ever! - of my life. I mean, really. If I claim Christ as my Savior and I've given my life to Him, isn't He now in control of my life? Yes. But.... that sinful human nature of wanting to be in charge is still there.

And so I control what time my kids go to bed. I control what they eat for breakfast. I control when the house gets cleaned, how the money gets spent. Where we go on vacation.

Of course there are things I can't control. But that doesn't stop me from bellyaching about these things in an "if I controlled the world" kind of way. All the rain we've been getting. Gas prices. World peace. (Or lack thereof.)

And then sometimes there is a real potential life-changing zinger that gets thrown my way and I'm just left feeling completely out of control.

It happened all those years ago when we wanted to start a family and couldn't. The world started to spin uncontrollably as we watched every one else in the world have babies. I was the only one in the world barely hanging on by the tips of my fingernails as everyone else went along their merry way diapering their newborns.

We had a momentary derailment in Russia while we were adopting Luke. Before we met Luke, we had met another child who we knew was not meant to be our child. All the white coats in the orphanage knew it too - but they just talked a lot of Russian words we didn't understand as they looked at us pitifully. Although we again felt like we were barely hanging on - God resolved that situation quite quickly and the rest is history....

When Emma was 15 months old, she got sick. Really sick. When we were in the ER and I heard them say, "The life flight is not available, we've called an ambulance to transfer her" I thought I was going to have a heart attack right there. I couldn't breathe. Again, I was barely holding on.

The good news is - when I can barely hold on, I am thankful to know that the Holder of Tomorrow IS holding on. Holding onto tomorrow - but more importantly, holding onto us.

I am so, so thankful for Jesus!

I am once again at a point in my life when I am way out of control. We have been working on a potential adoption situation for 4 months now. I am fondly calling it my revolving door. It is the strangest situation. One that I never would've thought of, dreamed of, asked for.

At times it looks like the adoption is going to work out. As quickly as we think that, it looks like it won't work out. I give up hope that it will, and then a spark of hope reignites that it might.

Round and round we go. And then around again.

I often wish I could have a glimpse of the future. But if God would've told me this ahead of time - I probably wouldn't have chosen this route. But He did choose this for us. And miraculously, we are walking with faith steps. Not having a clue where we are going. But not being scared, because although we don't have a clue where we are going to end up - He does. And we definitely trust Him.

Sometimes God calls us to walk a road that is windy and doesn't make sense. And the end of that road might not be what we ever expected or imagined. Yet He promises to bless our socks off if we follow Him.

And so we follow. Wherever this journey ends up, I believe with all my heart that we are meant to be on this journey right now. Even if it means the adoption doesn't work out, it means He was working *something* out. And He used us to do so.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

Times like these I can live those words. I hope that I am.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Head vs. Heart Fight

I struggle with contentment. There. I said it. I wish I had this contentment thing mastered. I've studied Scripture. I know that I should have contentment in God alone. But I get so distracted with the ways of the world, so caught up in the materialism whirlwind that our society has created.

And I admit, I fall prey.

I shouldn't. In my 15 years as a financial advisor, I saw people struggle. I saw the way the world spends money. I saw the way debt overcame people, how it became such a normal way of life that it didn't matter that they were up to their eyeballs in debt and didn't know how to get out.

On the other hand, I've seen people with money. They have the big house. The fancy cars. They could get everything their hearts desired. And yet they were still missing something. All that money couldn't fill up the hole in their hearts that only God can fill.

In Scripture I see people who have nothing. Nothing but God. And yet they are content. Even Soloman in all his splendor - in all his wealth - realized that all that was meaningless and all he needed was God.

I know all that in my head - yet I still struggle with it in my heart.

Joe drives a 1996 Ford Taurus. It is time for a new car. Or is it? It still drives. It isn't in the greatest shape but it works. Do I really want to drop $20,000+ just because it is a 1996?

We're getting crowded in this house. I have a bad habit: looking at bigger houses. I look online. Go to open houses. Do I really want to spend how many tens of thousands of dollars because we're getting a bit comfy here?? Maybe we should just cuddle instead. :)

So then I think maybe we should build an addition. Or at least a patio. That would give us more living space. But again - we'd probably face a debt of bookoo bucks.

What about a new lawn mower? Ours is really old. A shed would help with the storage problems around here. New furniture would be nice.

Can't I just be content???

Is it okay to want to make the best of what we've been given? But at what cost??

Should I be content with the 1996 car that has lasted longer than it should? Is our old furniture fine? How old is too old for a mower? A patio would be nice....

I know we are all faced with financial decisions every day. We've got to balance our needs, our wants and our over-the-tops with the amount of money we've saved. Yes, I do save money for these kind of things - but I certainly can't afford everything I think about!

Because the bottom line is: God has given us all a certain portion to manage for Him. It's all His money anyway. I don't have the money tree in the backyard that I can just go pick when I want something. I've got to balance our wants, our needs and our over-the-tops.

What's most important, I guess???

I honestly believe when we make financial decisions that are pleasing to God, He will provide. I teach others that; yet I struggle with it myself.

Kind of reminds me of an episode of Hoarders. A woman was an inspirational speaker and spoke on how to make your life less stressful. Then she went home to a stressful MESS.

Interesting how easy it is to tell others what to do, but yet we struggle to listen ourselves.... I suppose we could ALL do a better job of making God-pleasing decisions. The world pulls us one way but God tells us there's a better way.

I'm thankful that although I struggle with financial contentment I am able to take a step back before I act. And I rarely do act out. Praise God. I realize a sin is a sin is a sin - even if my sins are in my head. But I am thankful beyond belief that in my weak moments I don't overspend and put us in debt.

I'm thankful for my financial advisor background where I could see the ways of the world and the damage those ways cause first-hand. I'm thankful for my Bible study background where I have raked over the Scriptures to see what they say about money. And I'm thankful that God has blessed me with enough self-control to not act on my thoughts.

But if I could just clear my head of this nonsense, that would be great. Maybe the first step is to cuddle with my family or take a drive in the 1996 ride.

No... probably not the 2nd option. ha.
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