Friday, August 31, 2007

September news on China referrals

Well, it's "big" news to me. Referrals for the past eight months have been coming in very small numbers. Last month (August), China referred LID's (log-in-dates) of Nov. 14-21. That's ONE WEEK of referrals which, to me, is SNAIL paced. This month, rumors are that referrals will go into December. While that's not HUGE, it's bigger than normal. CCAA is also telling people that in 2008 they will go back to referring two weeks of LID's at a time (basically it will take 2 months to get through 1 month). This is somewhat of a speed-up and I will gladly take it. I'm still going to keep praying, however, for a HUGE speed up of referring a month's worth of LID's at a time.

We are LID 12/25/06 so even at 2 week referrals at a time, we are looking at 24 more months -- that's a LONG time folks! Pray, pray, pray for a speed up -- not just for me, but for all those families waiting in front of us as well.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Better Day -- Photos of the Boys

Since yesterday was such a bust, we all went to bed last night around 8:30. Josh and I slept until about 9:30 this morning. I'm not sure, but I think Bryce might have slept until 8:30 or 9:00 himself.

I was much more awake today and took some photos of the boys at the beach. There was a lady at the beach who spent the day building sand castles. I'll post some of her photos in another post.
This is Josh "body surfing" -- ie., throwing himself in the surf.

This is Bryce who had just found a shell

More photos in another post!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Not Exactly the Vacation I Had Planned

My friend Lisa and her son Bryce asked Joshua and I to go to Florida with them. Lisa had a conference to work at and she said that if I would go and watch Bryce while she worked, we'd have a free trip. It was all set up that we would leave Saturday after Josh and Bryce's football jamboree and then drive to Destin.

We arrived in Destin a little before midnight. Once we got to our room and unloaded, we all headed to bed. The condo was really nice with two bedrooms, two baths a full kitchen and living area. Best of all, it was situated directly on the beach.

At 2:00 a.m. I awoke thinking I might be sick or have a virus. By 2:30, I had a wet rag wiping cold sweats from my face and thinking, "WHAT is wrong with me?" Shortly after, I woke Lisa up. It got worse quickly with incredible stomach pains radiating to my back. She ended up calling 911 and the paramedics an ambulance arrived very quickly. I was hooked up to an IV (which I don't remember) and hauled off to the hospital. I don't remember a lot of that either. I was receiving fluids and the EMT told me she thought it was an ectopic pregnancy. I remember thinking, "GREAT!" along with a few other thoughts. When I finally came "to" myself a little to ask where I was, I was told that I was at Sacred Heart Hospital. They took urine samples, blood samples and a CT scan and told me that I was dehydrated, severely potassium deficient and had a UTI. Lisa, Josh and Bryce came in around 4:00 and I sent them back to the room and told them to go get some sleep. I do remember that much. The nurse gave me some pain meds (which I begged her not to give me as I knew I would be OUT the rest of the day) to which I remember saying, "Wow, my body feels really heavy" and then I was out. For the next two hours I received potassium and a really good nap.

Imagine my surprise when I realized I only had Joshua's cell phone (which they had left me) and no way to call Lisa to pick me up as her number was in my other cell phone. I called Kevin but he didn't have her number either. My cell phone at the room was set on vibrate and no one was answering it. Finally, Kevin managed to get Joshua to answer my phone and the message was conveyed that I was ready for "pick up." Poor Josh had never gone back to sleep as he was so worried. Finally at 6:00, he asked Lisa if it was time to go get his mom. Bless his heart.

We drove through McDonalds and I came back and immediately took a nap. I was very nauseous. At 11:00, we went to the store to get my prescription filled and some food for the boys for the day. I was still just so incredibly "out of it."

The rest of the day I spent alternately trying to stay awake and making sure the boys didn't drown in either the pool or the ocean.

To say the least, this trip did not start out the way I had hoped or planned.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Joelton Vikings - Jamboree

Joshua had weigh-in and the football jamboree today at Beech High School in Hendersonville. It was BOILING hot outside so I didn't complain at all when I got there and found that I had left my camera batteries at home and had to go home to get them. We had to be there at 12:15; weigh in was 1:00 and the game at 2:00 so I had plenty of time.

His team played Station Camp and won 7-0. Josh got in on some good tackles. Here he is helping tackle the kid with the ball. Josh is # 74.

After their game, we waited for Bryce to finish his game as we were leaving with them to go to Florida for several days. Josh and I waited in the car as I thought I got just a little TOO hot out on the field taking the photos.

It was a good game -- Joshua played very well. I can't wait for the rest of the season. I hope their team goes all the way to the Super Bowl this year. Next week -- Greenbrier.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Today, while I was supposed to be working, I went "junking". Now, let me preface this by saying, I had worked -- some. I just didn't finish the day I had originally planned.

And, let me also say that I went "junking" in an antique store. One cannot call what I did antique shopping because I had no plans to buy any antiques. I just wanted to ramble through some old "stuff" (aka - junk).

Imagine my surprise and delight over finding tons of things to rifle through in my first store. I came away with the most wonderful (and yet awful at the same time) things that I'm going to give to other people. Here are some of my "finds":
  1. Sheet music to the Disney score for Zip-a-dee-doo-dah
  2. Original sheet music from White Christmas
  3. A University of Tennessee Engineering Problem book from 1947 (HAD to get that for Kevin to share around the office)
  4. A Better Homes and Gardens magazine from 1956 (this has been my treasure as I have truly enjoyed looking at the ads and articles from then)
  5. Another woman's type magazine that slips my mind right now
  6. Someone from East High School in Nashville's Home Economics notebook. It is beautifully written and I can't wait to share some of the contents on here. I love it. I can't wait to share it with Ellie some day.
  7. A Hee-Haw cast photo from 1989 (to share with my friend Stoney who collects Opryland memorbilia -- yes, yes, I know, it's not really Opryland, but it's close).
  8. A wrapper from some razor blade product that has a photo of some cartoon man shaving and talking about how you'll never get a better shave. I'm going to use this on a scrapbook page with photos I have of Joshua and his friend Bryce "shaving" when they were about 6 and 7.
  9. Someone's "dream" book. Now, I bought this for no real reason. I was just drawn to it -- maybe because I used to cut out things from the Sears and JCPenney catalogs and dream that they would be my family some day. This one was obviously made in the 1950s. It has cut out photos of things labeled, "This is what God made" and photos of families, houses, husbands and wives, etc. It was so touching and I was so sad that someone's dream book ended up in a junk pile in the back of an antique shop. So, I bought it. It was an entire $.50. Inexpensive for a book of dreams, I'd say.
  10. A 1950 National Geographic map of China. I thought this might be nice to hang in Ellie's room. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but it seemed crazy to find it in an antique store. Another $.50
  11. A 1966 Helen Steiner Rice poetry book for Kevin's mom. I didn't get it because she likes poetry so much as the fact that this was inscribed inside, "To Mom, Love, Steve". Kevin's brother's name is Steve, so I thought this would be cool for her to have.
  12. Some sort of farm book with all kinds of home remedies in it. Loved it too.
  13. A couple of small recipe booklets (by the way, apparently people in the 50s and 60s really liked Jello and Spam -- lots of recipes involving those items).
  14. A piece of sheet music about being in Kentucky -- for our pastor, Brother David, who is from Kentucky

I got a few other paper products at this store as well, but don't remember right off. All I know is, the saddest thing I found was a box of old photos. There were professional photos from studios all over the country as well as snapshots of families, women holding babies, families around the dinner table and individual portraits. All tossed into a box and being sold for five and ten cents a piece. How sad!! None had names on the backs and so those treasured family photos are lost forever to the people who would truly have enjoyed having them.

I also got my mother a wonderful Christmas present at the next store I went to, but I can't write what it is -- just in case she reads this. I found several lovely handkerchiefs, table runners and linen towels that were hand embroidered. I got them for Ellie's room. One of them, oddly enough, has an Asian themed design on it!! How cool!

The one thing I came away from these stores with is that life truly is a vapor. I felt this as I walked through the isles of these stores and saw the toys, appliances, furniture, hats, aprons, postcards, record albums and china that each had a story to tell of people who play with them, wore them, wrote them, listened to them and ate off them. Yes, they are inanimate objects, but each piece represented a small part of someone's life. It made the brevity of life here on earth and all the material things seem so meaningless. One day, all the things I hold dear and treasure will end up in some "antique" junk store for others to peruse through and purchase. Really puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Memory: Scat Latham 1998 - August 20, 2007

I remember the first time I saw Scat. He was a scrawny little yellow cat sitting on the porch of Joshua's first babysitter's house. I don't remember if she said he was a baby of one of her cats or a stray. I think he was the kitten to one of her cats. All I know is he was eat up with fleas and just tiny, tiny. I offered, one day, to take him to the vet to get his shots and be de-wormed and de-flea'd. She allowed me to and off we went. Mind you, at this time, I had four cats of my own, but being an animal lover, I couldn't resist.

Scat started to fill out a little each day, but was still pretty small. One Monday morning, I showed up and asked where he was. I was told he had likely been run over by one of the cars pulling out of the babysitters on Friday and wasn't doing well. I asked her why she hadn't called me -- I would have taken him to the vet. She said she didn't think to. I scooped him up and took him straightaway to the vet's office. The accident had partially neutered him and done some damage to his backside/pelvis area. It took almost a week (and I'm sure several hundred dollars) to get him ready to leave. I remember Dr. Danny saying to me that he was a runt and that he probably wouldn't live a very long life. I scoffed. At this point, I told the babysitter I had fallen in love with him and was taking him to my house.

And, thus, Scat became a Latham.

The years were pretty good to Scat. He had a nice warm house, loving scratches, a belly full of food, playmates and a big yard to explore. He grew into this large, fluffy orange cat with light yellow highlights. He was a handsome fellow.

Looking back, the start of the end for Scat was when I came outside to find a neighbor's cat fighting with him, standing over him and Scat unable to get up. Apparently, this fight did nerve damage to Scat's backside and his legs. There was one rear leg that never really healed up from this. We thought this might be the end for Scat as he was unable to walk for a couple of weeks. But that Scat, he's a fighter and he came back. He learned how to use the legs he had to jump and run -- a sweet little crooked run -- and got along fine for a little while longer.

Then, we noticed the huge amounts of urine in the litter box.

A trip to the vet confirmed he had diabetes. At which point, we considered this might be the end for him, again. But, it wasn't. Kevin and I learned how to give insulin twice a day and tried, really hard, to feed him a different diet. We regulated the insulin dosage over several months and a lot of visits to the vet's office. And the fellow whose hair had become ungroomed and who drank too frequently and went to the litterbox too much became ok again. We continued this regimine for a couple of years.

And then, miracle of miracles, we went on vacation and left Scat at the Kitty Spa (aka Pleasant View Animal Hospital) and they discovered, through routine glucose tests, that Scat did not have diabetes any more! Praise the Lord!! No more needles and buying insulin. What a blessing.

That blessing soon turned to a curse as we realized that something was wrong with Scat -- again. He would stand in the litter box, or outside, and try to go, but nothing other than pee was coming out. Off we go, again, to the vet. Constipated -- multiple times. The vet discovered that the nerves that make the colon function were now not working. So, we started a regimine of cysapride and lactalose twice a day to help move things along. We were back on the routine, and Scat HATED the taste of this medicine. No matter which flavor we tried, it apparently was very bitter as he would squint up his eyes, back up and after getting it, smack his lips and stick his tongue out. Poor thing!!! But it was a must. Several months ago, he had to have a procedure that I think is called an obstination. It was where they had to surgically go in and removed impacted fecal matter from his colon. In retrospect, it would have been better to have not done that and just put him out of his misery then. But, hope is a hard carrot on a stick to let go by. After that, we continued on the medicine regimine and tried some different diet options. None of this really worked. Several times he had to go back in for enemas -- the last time being just this past Monday.

But, for all the medical maladies that beset Scat, there are so many things I will remember him for.
  • He was a gentle soul. He rarely EVER hissed at another cat in the house and was the peaceful cat.
  • He never, that I can remember, pee'd anywhere he wasn't supposed to. Toward the end, he might miss the edge of the box and it spill out, but he was always conscientious of being a clean cat.
  • He LOVED to come into the bathroom with you and rub your legs and hope for some petting time.
  • He loved to have under his chin scratched. This would really get him purring.
  • He was loved by the folks at our vet's office. Unfortunately, he spent a lot of time there and they got to know and love him as their own, I think.
  • He was as big and fluffy as our neighbor's Pomeranian, Chewy. When Chewy would get out, from a distance, they looked a lot alike.
  • Scat loved to lay under the deck. If you couldn't find him, chances are great he would be way up in under the shortest part of the deck. He was also found of the closet and under the bed if he thought he was going to the vet's office.
  • He loved to lay on the coffee table -- sprawled out in the middle of it.
  • He liked to lay on the couch beside me while I worked. He didn't mind if I reached over and rubbed his tummy either.
  • He LOVED feather toys and would run and leap and jump at them -- even later on when his leg got messed up, he would still do it.
  • If he wanted out or in, he would stand at the door, on his hind legs, "running" his front paws over the glass until you let him in or out. This didn't happen after his run in with the other cat as he couldn't stand on his back legs them. He also really liked to scratch the front door trim up this way. Kevin replaced the weather stripping countless times because of this. Come to think of it, we had problems with the wallpaper on the kitchen wall corner for this reason as well.
  • Scat had one black whisker in with all his other white whiskers. I told him that this made him special.
  • He liked to lay under the bush at the corner of the house and under the van too. We could usually find him in one of those places. Kevin chose to bury him under the tree at the corner

I have a lovely picture of him, when he was very healthy, in the yard in a field of purple flowers. I had it just the other day. I will attempt to scan and post it here really soon.

He was a good cat and a good friend. He will be missed by us all.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Our Scat Cat

Tomrrow I will have to take Scattie-Rattie-Pattie-Boombalattie, aka Scatty “P” Ratty, aka “P”, aka “Scitty Scatty Pitty Patty’ aka “Scat” to the vet to have him put to sleep. He has had such a hard, hard life interspersed with the good years he’s had with us. He was run over by a car at Joshua’s babysitters when he was a kitten, effectively neutering him. After pulling through this, his came to our house and life went along uneventfully for a while until he was attacked by a neighbor’s cat and lost full use of two of his legs. After this, he became diabetic, having shots daily for two years. He “spontaneously” cured of that which somehow managed to cause his colon to stop working properly. He had one surgery to “clean him out” and we were told early on with this that this malady would likely be the one that would end it for Scat, but he had done well for quite a while on medicines twice daily.

Tonight has been bad. He went in early this week and saw the vet who indicated it might be getting close to “time”. I’m not certain he has gone “poop” since then. Tonight he is in real pain. I have just cried and cried because I can’t do anything until in the morning. I hate to take him to the emergency vet to have him put to sleep.

We have explained to Joshua what is happening and that we will be taking him to the vet in the morning and he will probably have to be put to sleep. He’s done well with it, I think. He wants to know if we will do it while he’s at school and when we will bury him. It’s his first death. Prayers are likely in order for him as well. I’m not sure how he will do.

I so wish we had a vet that could be contacted on the weekend. I would have taken him in tonight and taken care of this so that Scat doesn’t have to be in such pain.

He is around 10 years old. He has had a hard life, but it has been a good one with us and we love him. He will forever be a part of our hearts and our family.

I hope I can do this.

Friday, August 17, 2007

And, last, but not least, life update for the week ...

It has been so incredibly HOT here in Tennessee these past few weeks. We almost broke the all time high (107) yesterday when it was 106*. We are in the midst of a drought and everything is a funky shade of pale yellow (envision, dry, dead and crunchy). Kevin, poor man, has had no air on his truck for several months due to some problem that I'm not smart enough to understand. Truth is, I probably wasn't listening well when he told me -- that darn ADHD stuff. :-) Anyway, he finally found time that we could take his truck and get it fixed so he is sporting A/C again. I just couldn't STAND the thoughts of him with no air. How miserable. We are so spoiled.

Tonight was the PREMIERE of High School Musical II on Disney and as our neighbor, Carson said when he came over to watch it with Joshua, "I'll bet all of Tennessee is watching this tonight." I, personally, didn't find it very exciting. I really liked the first HSM (well, the first 45 times I saw it, that is). This one seemed to lack a real plot. There was no REAL problem to be solved and I found myself wishing it would SOON be over.

One of the nice things I have found about Josh going back to public school is the abundance of children back in our house again. *big smile* Josh never invited anyone over from PVCS. There is always a child coming over or him asking if someone can come by these days. After some of the stories I've heard from these children this week, however, I'd MUCH rather have them here than to have Josh riding his bike to their homes. At least, if they are hear, I can monitor what is coming out of all their collective mouths, what stories they are telling, what their interests are and how they are behaving. I can also use these opportunities to share godly messages to them and provide (hopefully) some help to guide them along the right path, instead of just allowing them to choose whatever path they want to take. I'm amazed, daily, at the lack of supervision and interaction children this young have.

My mom had her stint removed today. She said it did hurt, but it wasn't as bad as she had imagined it would be. That's a blessing, right there!! We met back up with Daddy who took her home. I called a bit ago and she was asleep.

Mr. Scatty Ratty "P" Ratty, aka, Scat, our cat had to go back to the vet this week. His, ummm... constipation issue flared up again. I don't know how much longer we will have Mr. P around. He has been our miracle cat. He was run over as a kitten at the babysitters', which is how I managed to end up with him (after taking him to the vet); he was attacked by a neighbor's cat and lost the feeling in two of his legs and subsequently became diabetic; he "spontaneously" cured himself of that and now has this serious constipation issue where his colon doesn't always push things along like they should -- yuk!! I don't want him to suffer any more. He is such a sweet, sweet boy.

Josh's football team scrimmaged St. Joseph's last night. Imagine my surprise when one of the coaches was Sidney Jarreau, "first boyfriend" from a hundred years ago. :-) One of his sons is in 5th grade there. I didn't get a chance to say hello as he was on the field, but it would be nice to say hi to him next week when we are supposed to scrimmage him again.

The outside of our house has been overtaken by garden spiders. I say HAS because Kevin and Joshua got out there tonight and killed them with some spider spray. Even though I LOATHE spiders, I felt kind of bad for them. I had gotten used to the two on the porch. They were always there when I came home and when I left in the morning -- hanging upside down. I kept waiting for the message in the web, "AWESOME WOMAN" but I guess I'm certain to not get that now. My understanding is there were SEVEN garden spiders around the front of the house and 3 "regular" spiders. What are they???? Now, there are none.

Joshua brought home a PILE of papers and grades today. I'm just AMAZED at the level and quantity of work they are doing in school. No wonder he's not getting in trouble -- he's too busy. And, of course, I still see the same grade patterns -- lots of 100's and then the lone F. Lots of regular A's and B's and then a C or D thrown in. There is no rhyme or reason to it; it is not just one subject. It's the times when his mind just chooses to go somewhere else. Overall, he is doing really well. This is likely the "norm" for him, and it is fine. He will manage to pull out A's and B's all year long, I think. I am proud of how well he has done with subjects that the other kids worked on last year and he didn't -- thinks like adjectives and adverbs, "real" science -- and he's doing pretty well. I think, over time, he will do really well.

Message from God Through My Friend Tessa

I went to my friend, Tessa's (coolest kid on earth, BTW) alternate blog and found the following post. I think God knew that I needed to read something JUST like this today.

And yes, I still believe in God even when He is silent. But.... if we listen closely, He will remind us, ever so simply, that He is still here. Read the last line of Tessa's post.

I was at a concert, and they sang a song with this chorus:

I believe in the sun,
Even when it's not shining.
I believe in love,
Even when I don't feel it.
I believe in God,
Even when He is silent.

Then, they told a story about these words. These were found on a wall in Germany. A man had carved them into the wall. He was a prisoner in a concentration camp. Even when death looked him in the face, he was still optimistic. He still had faith. He had probably lost his family, all he owned, and he had probably lost his dignity. He had been stripped of all his happiness, and still had faith that God would deliver him. We don't know what happened to him, but I'm sure he probably saw his family again, including his Heavenly Father.


That's an example if you needed one.

Dizzying Rollercoaster we call "Life"

I don't like rollercoasters. I never have. I also don't like those rides that you spin around in. Both of these have always given me a headache. I remember when Opryland used to be in Nashville and they had the Wabash Cannonball rollercoaster. Everyone thought it was SO cool, and it was -- way back in "the day". But I hated it -- my head got jerked around and when I got off I was both dizzy and my head hurt.

Life feels a lot like that these days.

Some days I want to yell, "Stop the ride; I want to get off!"

I want a kiddie ride. I'd like a day (or month or year) on the swings where you soar through the air, wind blowing in your air, floating, taking it easy.

I felt the longing -- the absolute ache -- in my heart again yesterday for Ellie. It hits at the most unexpected times. I had gone into the Once Upon a Child store in Clarksville to see if there were any summer clearances. I heard a woman say to the lady working in the store, "I'm leaving next week to go get my baby." I stopped -- cold. I walked over to her (because I'm a little nosy sometimes) and said, "I'm sorry I just overheard you say you were going to get your baby next week. Are you adopting?" She told me yes, that she was leaving to go to Guatemala to get her daughter. I told her I was adopting from China. She innocently said, "So do you have a picture of your daughter yet?" I replied No, that it would likely be two more years. I got the "Poor you" look and she left and I bought a stuffed lion and left.

The rest of the day and today has been consumed with feelings of wanting to go to Taiwan. I looked at all the angles, figured the money, thought of all the ifs/and/buts/maybes. Kevin and I considered every scenario. I made calls to three agencies. One -- again -- did not return my call (for the second time). I will not use them even if we do go to Taiwan. Another, I left a message with and did not hear back and the third was closed. A message, I suppose. When I got home, I got responses from several folks I had queried on a Taiwan adoption yahoo group. Turns out, the wait for Taiwan is creeping quickly up to 18-24 months. If I'm going to wait that long, I'll just stay in the "China-lina" :-) I'll stay seated on my slow boat to China.

I can't begin to tell you how unbearably hard the wait is some days. I'll go trudging along for several months and then WHAM, I'm hit by this desire so strong that it feels like a physical manifestation of my heart's pain.

I talked with my mom about it today and she said she knew -- she had been there as well. They went through big agencies, through individuals, through it all before they got me. She said, "It had been almost eight years and I was ready to just give up. And then you came." I'm there -- I feel like every line we get in just stops. What is the lesson? Am I being told to drop the dream? To develop more patience? To let God continue to work in me until I'm ready for this challenge? I don't know. I continue to struggle. This struggle has been the longest one as I can't seem to get the peace I need. I get it one day and it is stolen from me the next day. It's like the horrible, non-ending rollercoaster. And it's making me sick to my stomach and making my head hurt. It shouldn't be so hard to give a child a home when there are SO MANY who need a home. My mom did also remind me that at least I had one child already. I know I am SO blessed to have Joshua, and my desire for Ellie in no way reflects on my unappreciation for the blessing of him. I just feel like we are all getting older -- so fast -- and we just want to all be able to enjoy our Ellie.

I continue to pour my heart's desire out to God. I know He is the only one who could possibly speed up the China process at this point. I am reminded that if I

"Delight yourself in the ways of the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalms 37:4 (NIV)
Young's literal translation says this:
And delight thyself on Jehovah, And He giveth to thee the petitions of thy heart.
I like the words "Petitions of thy heart". That's exactly what I feel my heart is doing - continually petitioning God.
I know, in my heart, that He has promised me this child. I just don't know when. :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Telling "Lemilemily" about Jesus' Love

What a blessing today to get to share the love of Jesus with my sweet little five-year-old friend, Emily. Emily's dog recently was put to sleep, and she told me he was in dog heaven. I told her that I was certain Jesus needed a good dog like Bear up in heaven to walk around with him.

I asked her if she knew who Jesus was and she replied, "Yes, he's the guy in the sky." :-) We spent a long time talking about how Jesus was the son of God; how God created her and me and everything on the earth (except buildings, she pointed out, because man made those); how we all do bad things and they are called "sins". She told me she never did things like hit her brother or be hateful to anyone. :-) Since I had seen her whack her brother on the head just a little while before, I suspected this was a bit of an untruth. :-)

We discussed how perfect God was and how we couldn't go live in heaven with him if we were sinners -- and that we all were. She told me about a movie she had seen one time where they killed Jesus and she wanted to know why. We talked about why Jesus had to die and how he died.

We talked about what the Bible was, and I invited her to come to AWANA in a few weeks. I told her that we run and play and read the Bible and memorize the things God tells us to do to be happy in life. She said she would need a "little" Bible, because she is little. I told her I would get her one.

I love my little "Lemily" so much. I want to make sure I give her every opportunity to come to AWANA and learn about Jesus and how wonderful He is and how much He loves her. God blessed me so much to allow me to be the persons who shared that information with her. I hope I can continue to share that with her in the years to come and that she will choose Jesus as her Savior in the future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Happy Photos

Here are a couple of happy photos from today's trip up to Clarksville. Remember, the premise behind "happy photos" is that I take photos of things through my day that make me happy. I keep thm in a folder called "Happy Photos" and when I go back through them, I am happy all over again. It's a great thing. Most of the time I still remember all the details about them, where they were, what time of year it was, if there was a story. But most of all, they make me smile all over again.

The first ones are of my friend I met. His name is Stuart. When his "non-owner"(she said he was dropped at her house, but continued on to tell me how he rides around on her shoulder!!!) told me his name, I asked, "Like, as in Stuart Little?" She smiled broadly and I knew we were kindred souls. I realized immediately, his look reminded me a bit of Stuart Little. Well, if you can get past that whole thing about how he is a CAT and the other one is a MOUSE.

Anyway, he let me photograph him and posed a few times, and then his "non-owner" came out and thought I was crazy and we talked some more and I left. I really liked Stuart.

These are the Boston terrier puppies I came upon in a man's backyard. There were four or five of them. They had obviously just had a bath. One was shivering and backed up to the wall like I was going to kill her. The other, a typical boy, ran right over and threw himself down at my feet with this belly up for scritches. The photo is of him. He moved really quickly, though, and it was hard to get a good one.

Steve and Angie are COMING HOME!!

Kevin's younger brother, Steve, and his wife, Angie are in the military -- the Air Force. They are currently serving in Germany, where they have been for three years. They are COMING HOME -- yay!! -- next week. Prior to Germany, they were in Texas, and we didn't get to see them there either. It's been a LONG time since they have been close enough to visit and they are moving to Dayton, Ohio. We are SO EXCITED that we will be within driving distance of them and our three BEAUTIFUL nieces (see photos below), Danielle, Lauren and Emily. Lauren and Joshua are only a few weeks apart in age. Hopefully, we can travel to see them during fall break this year!

Here are my beautiful nieces:
Danielle (who I'm certain gained her love for cats from her Aunt Maria!):

Lauren (Joshua's closest in age cousin) who looks just like her mom:

And sweet little Emily (who's now SEVEN!!!). She gets two photos since it was just her birthday:

And let me just say -- Steve and Angie went to Paris this year and I am officially JEALOUS! :-) These are some pictures of them there.

Can't WAIT to see you all again. Love you!

For My Brother - Ricky

Ok, so my sister, Rhonda, calls last night and says that my brother, Ricky, is there and wants to talk to me. I am a bit surprised because I haven't talked to him in close to a year. Yes, I KNOW that's a long time, but, according to him, telephones don't run from Florida to Tennessee. Apparently, it's a genetic thing too, because my brother, Robert, never calls either. I have to find out about them from Rhonda. Nonetheless, though, I told him I would give him my blog address so he could keep up with what's going on with us. He, apparently, is moving down towards Miami for a new job. So.... Rhonda tells me he will get mad because there is nothing about him in it. :-) This must also be genetic. You can read between the lines however you want to on this one. SO.... this post is for Ricky. I am including a picture of him, a picture of Robert and a picture of Rhonda catching some monster fish in the Atlantic Ocean. I don't think I have one on my computer of our brother, Derek, who died in Sept 2005 (I still REALLY miss him). So, Ricky, now you can read the blog, because there is something about YOU on it. Keep checking in; you never know when I might reveal some deep, dark secret about you. :-)

This is Robert, he's the next youngest, other than me.

This is Ricky. He's the OLDEST -- ahem, the senior member of the group. :-)

And, last, but not least, this is Rhonda. I'm still thinking she bought the fish at the fish market and just posed for this, but *SSSHHHH* don't tell her I said so.

Stay tuned for pictures of Kevin's brothers and their families in a post soon!

It's "That" Time of Year Again

I think because of the dry weather and really bad air quality my lovely sinus/allergy/asthma-like condition has returned with a vengeance. Tuesday, I got up feeling quite badly. I had gone to bed early on Monday (very unlike me). After packing Joshua's lunch, backpack and snacks and sending he and Kevin on their way, I had every intention of going out to work. It was 7:30 and I thought I'd just lie down for a few minutes before showering and leaving. Imagine my surprise when I awakened FOUR HOURS later. I had the craziest dreams during that time and remember dreaming that I was awake and couldn't sleep. Today, I thought I felt better, but I've had this funky headache all day and have been dizzy and sick to my stomach. YUCK. I can't find any of my pseudoephedrine, which is the only medicine I can take and not feel crazier than ever. So, tomorrow, I'll head out to the store and pick up my annual box. I'll take it for a week or two and hopefully dry up this GUNK that's going on. It needs to rain.

Glimpses of a Young Man

It strikes me at the oddest times.

I remember it struck me one night when he was a baby -- in the middle of the night as I rocked him back to sleep.
This time, he was walking across the floor, wearing a towel around his waist with water dripping from his hair -- having just gotten out of the pool.

I see it, taking a while to look at all the sports photos and Christmas cards of him through the years that are permanently posted on the refrigerator. The smile is the same in all of them; only the face, body and hair style changes from year to year.

"It" is the most brief glimpse I get of what Joshua will be like as a man. I can see how handsome he is going to be, what his face will mature to be, how casual and laid back he will be about things -- a lot like his dad -- as well as how fired up he will be about other things -- a lot like his mom and how caring he will be -- like his heavenly Father.

I wonder what his life will be like? I pray only the best for him, of course. I pray for him a good, calm, Christian wife. I pray for him a good job that allows him to take care of his family, LOTS of children (*slightly wicked smile*), good friends, happiness with whatever his lot in life is, and peace. I hope he gets to travel and see things all over the world. I hope he gets the chance to go to college and experience the excitement of living on his own -- and is able to do it successfully. I hope he makes good choices. I hope he finds a good church family and that he learns to serve God instead of wanting to be served. I hope he goes on a mission trip. I hope he laughs, a lot. I hope he plays sports because he loves them so much. I hope whatever he dreams to be, he is able to achieve it. I hope he is just so "stinking" (my favorite word as of late) cute and smart and happy that the best woman in the world loves him like no one, other than his mother of course (*smile*), will ever love him. I hope she thinks he is the best thing in her life for all her life. I hope his heart never gets broken, but I know, at some point, it will.
It's rare and it comes at the most odd moments, but occasionally, God grants me those little glimpses. What a blessing!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Good News All Around

Got a few good news updates from friends lately that should be shared as a reminder that God is so good.

1. Jeff and Abbey Land got news from their agency that they could be traveling in just a few weeks to pick up Reed. YAY!!!!!!
2. Danny and Michelle Davidson, who have two daughters and are expecting their third child, just found out that it's a boy, which is what they wanted. HALLELUJAH!!!
3. My mom had her kidney stone lasered into pieces on Friday. While she's still in quite a bit of pain, she is through it and on the better side of it now. She returns Friday to have the stint removed. Yuck!!
4. Joshua is doing well in school for the first week. He made a B on his spelling, an A+ on his math and an A on his vocabularly this week. I continue to pray everyday that he will continue to do well and to have good behavior in school.
5. China referred families with Log-In-Dates through November 21, 2005. This puts us 56 weeks out (around 13 months). Wow -- at a week per month, that's less than five years (haha!). Seriously, though, there is always hope that China will speed up, especially after the Olympics next summer. November was a HUGE month for log-in's. March 2006 is another large month. Estimations are that China will finish December 2005 by December 2007. If I had to guess, right now, I would say that China will complete through June in 2008 and we MIGHT get our referral by the end of 2009. We will continue to pray for God to speed up things there so we can bring Ellie home sooner.

Promises of Ellie

I love how God speaks to us through music. We had a sweet girl sing at church today, Briana Campbell, who sang Martina McBride's song, Anyway. Here are the lyrics (so I can refresh my memory of them when I'm feeling all down about things):

You can spend your whole life building
something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway
You can chase a dream
that seems so out of reach
and you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway
Chorus: God is great,
but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray
it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway,
I do it anyway
This world's gone crazy and it's hard to believe
that tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart,
for all the right reasons,
and in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway
You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in
that tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway, yeah sing it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love, anyway

So God says to me, "Hey, just because you were praying for this Taiwan adoption to pan out, it just couldn't. I know why. You have to trust me. You have to continue on with the dream of Ellie. She is in China. She will come. You will have to wait." This was shortly after He revealed, from His Word, the following (this was on the way to church -- it preceded the verse we were supposed to study for our class),

. . . which your fathers did not know
that He might humble you and that He might test you
to do you good in the end . . .
~ Deuteronomy 8:16
I feel that we are being tried and tested for our good in the end. I remember a verse God sent me one day during our early wait in the domestic program. It came in an email devotional the day I had said to a friend, "I'd just like God to send me an email." While this verse was to Habakkuk who questioned when the wicked would be justly punished, I felt, that day, that it was so appropriate to how I was feeling.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
~ Habakkuk 2:3
And while I'm writing about these verses, here are others that continue to help during the wait.
Delight yourself in the joys of the Lord
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalms 37:4
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
~ Isaiah 43:5

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Red Sox Baseball Party

Today we had the honor of hosting Joshua's Red Sox baseball team party at our house. Eight of the 10 players were here so it was a great turnout. The boys had a great time swimming, eating and getting presents. I will say, I never knew that our inflatable slide could hold up the weight it did. Now, I'm not saying anyone is big -- don't go there. BUT... the weight limit on this thing says like 100 pounds. Well.... six boys, average, say 75-125 pounds each -- well, you can do the math. There were several times I thought there was no way it was not going to pop!!!

We had several parents get buckets of water dumped on them and sprayed with water guns, but, praise the Lord, no one got hurt and no cell phones got ruined. I guess that's the mark of a good party, when no one goes to the emergency room. :-)

We had SO much food that it was ridiculous. I think if I start walking now and don't stop until next Saturday I'll still be carrying some of it. Of course, I'm NOT going to do that. So... here are a few pictures from the day's event.

OH -- lest, I forget, I got the COOLEST basket of goodies from the parents for taking pictures this season. You mean I get PRESENTS for doing something I love??? Man, it doesn't get better than that. I got a basket with two Trapp candles, a Trapp home fragrance spray and a cool pair of earrings that I can't wait to wear.

This is the best $100 I ever spent. This slide has been through two years of INTENSE use. If it pops tomorrow, it was a good one. However, I can't imagine it's going to. The kids threw it, drug it, carried it, piled up on it, did cartwheels off it (Sssshhhh...don't tell our insurance folks!) and jumped on it repeatedly.

This is another picture of the infamous slide ...

This was our cake. I was worried it wouldn't be big enough. It was -- most of the kids were more interested in swimming than in cake. Even Joshua didn't eat any during the party.

This is our fearless leader, Coach Jeff Wood.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 2 of School, Adoption Update and Mom's Stone

Thanks to all who have continued to pray for God's clear voice in our decision about whether to adopt from Taiwan. God has apparently closed that door (where's the window???). I called our SW again today to see if they had talked about their policy and researched whether or not it truly is a CCAA rule that we cannot have concurrent adoptions. My response went something like this, "Well, yes, I have read the information you shared with me, and I personally agree with you that I couldn't find a rule like that. However, they have said that it doesn't matter if the rule is in writing or is "implied" from CCAA that they don't allow concurrent adoptions, it is their understanding that CCAA doesn't like this to happen and because we receive such a large number of referrals from China, we are not willing to risk taking that chance or making that exception for anyone." Hmmm.... translated, here's what that really means, "We made this rule up based on what we think CCAA wants, but we have nothing to back up the statement we issued that says it is CCAA policy. We aren't willing to admit that so we are just going to say that's the rule -- live with it or drop out." Bad attitude on my part -- yeah, a little. But, the reality is that I can either play by their rules or be kicked out of the program and loose a LOT of money and STILL not have a child. So, it really doesn't matter if I like or agree with the rule, I'm backed up against the wall and have to go along with them. FAIR? Not really. I'll do another post sometime soon about all the things I think are wrong with adoption in the world today. I'll need a lot of time and a lot of space for that. So -- ELLIE, we are coming to China to get you -- I don't know when, but I strongly suspect LATE 2009 or early 2010. WOW -- that was hard to type and think.

I will say that regardless of how unfair I feel this is, I do feel a peace about it. I feel that God answered my prayers in a way that was clear and that I could fully understand. I'm not sure "why" still and even though it is not the decision I wanted, it is what He thinks is best, and I KNOW that He has our family's best interests at heart. I know He is going to bless up beyond measure with Ellie and any other children He wants to. I will wait -- until He is ready.

On to BETTER things. God HAS already blessed me with my "little man" and so I do have something to keep me REALLY busy while I wait.

Joshua had a good second day of school. He said his teacher said he was really being good today. He tested in reading and math to determine what group he falls into. I'm really hoping he falls into the "middle" group because being advanced requires too much homework!! :-) I told my friend, Lisa, today that I wasn't ready for anything advanced and that "medium" was really a good place for me (haha!). The reading groups are all reading "Winn Dixie". Josh and I read that together last summer before the movie came out. We both enjoyed it and I think it will be nice for him to start out with something he is familiar with. I worry for him about how he is going to do academically back in public school. I truly think he regressed the past two years, academically, during his stint in private school. When he left ECES after 1st grade, he was reading at a 2nd grade level. I'm not sure where the testing came out, but we were reading a 3.4 level book (3rd grade, 4th month) this weekend and he was struggling with some of the words. Hopefully, we will gain ground again. Tonight, when I found out that his friend Braiden is in the same reading group, Josh was really excited. He even made the statement, "I'm really glad I got Ms. Dozier. She's a really cool teacher." I can't remember the last time he thought ANYTHING was cool about school.

Mom went back to the doctor today about her kidney stone. Seems as if it has grown in the past two weeks. She says the pain is getting much worse. The doctor has decided to remove it on Friday morning. She has to be in at 7:00 in the morning so extra prayers for her until then are appreciated. As if that weren't bad enough, she called when they got there and daddy's truck had had a flat tire. Kevin was going to go out to help them, but a kind man at the doctor's office offered to help and they got the tire changed. After the doctor's office, they had to go get new tires. When it rains, it pours, and it seems to be pouring on them.

And, last, but not least, since I never seem to post anything about Kevin. Here's a list of really nice things he has done lately that I want to brag on!!

1. He went last night after Josh went to bed and filled my car up with gas so I would not have to do that this morning.
2. He takes the trash off so I don't have to.
3. He supports my working by always telling me he will do whatever he can to help.
4. He washes dishes, clothes and sweeps and vaccuums floors -- what more could a woman ask for???
5. He goes to church regularly and loves God.
6. He makes sure the bills get paid -- and on time!! yeah!!!
7. He goes to work every day so that we will have the money we need as a family.
8. He fixes dirt bikes, replaces light bulbs, gives medicine to the cats, sweeps the deck, takes Joshua to football practice, vaccuums the pool, mows the yard and changes the oil in my truck.
9. He is a great father to Joshua. He went to back to school night AND the first day of school -- lugging in supplies with me.
10. He never complains that I don't cook dinner every night :-) and will eat whatever I cook without complaining.

I love him!!! He is another blessing from God that I don't know how I could live without.

The following folks are on my prayer list right now:

1. Jeff and Abbey Land. They are awaiting news that they can travel to Taiwan to pick up Reed. It has been a long wait and I would LOVE for them to hear something really soon.
2. Steve and Angie Latham. They are moving back to the states from Germany. They will physically be back here Sept 1. The girls will be late starting school and they will be a bit rushed to find a new home to live in. Prayer for their safe return and finding a good home, neighborhood and school are on the list for them.
3. My mom - see above.
4. Robbie Mattox and family. They are adopting a little girl, Ellie, from China. She was a "Child of Promise" who had a menogele removed from her back. We had considered applying for her. They have waited 8 months to get travel arrangements and they have still not come from China. Robbie is starting to get depressed. Lifting her up in prayer for peace, acceptance, and a quick answer from China about when she can travel.
5. Ronnie and Sandy Felts, our Sunday School teachers, who are dealing with aging parents and their placements in nursing homes. This would also apply to my mom.
6. Our pastor, David Royalty, a general "overall" prayer and his wife, Linda Carroll, who has just lost her father.
7. Our children's minister's wife who just lost her mother.
8. My friend, Dianne. God knows why.
9. Joshua's continued good will toward school, the abilities he needs to focus and concentrate and do well. His teachers and peers acceptance of him as he is, and his ability to accept them as they are and to get along and only say positive things about them (the same for his mother!!)
10. Prayers for my birth family that they stay safe, happy, healthy and can all get along with one another.
11. Sarah Hampton, one of "my girls" from church, who broke her arm.

Monday, August 6, 2007

First Day of School

Apparently, the day went well. I got a small telephone update from Josh, but since he and Kevin were headed out to golf, he was more interested in that than telling me what happened. Basically, I was told it was fun -- they had snacks, went to the bathroom and did some "other" fun stuff. Maybe I will get more details tonight.