Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Princess Turns "3" (Months, that is)

Even though it is 10:00 p.m., here in the states, it is tomorrow in Krygyzstan and our Ellie has just turned three months old -- legally able to go to court now. I spend a lot of time wondering about her and today is no different. At her two month birthday, Kevin took video of Josh and I singing Happy Birthday to her. Today, there will be no one to sing to her. We will also miss the four month birthday singing as well. Our comfort is in knowing that hopefully we will not miss anymore of them.

So, as I sit here, I sing a quiet version of Happy Birthday to Ellie-belly, The Princess and hope that today there is a breeze to cool her sweat, a warm bottle to fill her tummy, someone to hold her and possibly take her for a walk outside, someone to sing to her, someone to change her when she is wet or dirty, a pacifier to soothe her and a moment in her heart where God reminds her that the wait time is drawing shorter and soon -- very, very soon -- her mommy and daddy will be back to get her.

Josh Is Learning to Work

Today's post is a "guest" post from an email I received from my mom. Josh went over to her house on Thursday to do some yard work. He is trying to earn money to buy a cell phone. Now, keep in mind, he has an cell phone that uses when he goes to someone's house to spend the night, or if we're out (in case we get separated), so he doesn't NEED a cell phone at all. He has seen a cell phone that he wants. When we got to the store to get it, they had changed the style and he no longer wants that kind. We have debated about the price on another one he wants and I told him that if he wants it, he'll need to pay for it himself. We thought each of our lines got a $100 credit at the end of two years. Turns out only the main line (mine) gets that credit. Because I only get that credit once every two years, I told him that I couldn't give it to him because this is my work phone and that if something happens to it, I'll need to use it to get another phone for me. So, he is working to earn the money to buy this phone he wants. Amazingly enough, the one he wants has changed several times now that he has some of the money. He has earned $30 working for MeeMee. DeeDee gave him a "donation" of $50. He earned $5 for working really hard to clean his room. He gets allowance and has $10 of that. So, we are sitting at $95. Plenty for a phone, but the "FANCY" one he wants is more than that. It remains to be seen how this will all turn out, but, I know that if he has to pay for it, he'll take much better care of it and appreciate it. So, on with the "guest post" from my mom:

I thought you would have blogged about his first big job of cutting down a tree in the hot sun all by himself. He worked very hard all day to buy something he wanted really bad. This was very important to him and he would love to read about it some day in your blog. I know he will never forget how hard he worked. He told me that he wanted to be a landscaper when he grows up that he liked to do this type of work. Even as hard as he worked, he said he had fun and that he had never cut a tree down before. He was so proud of himself when the two trees fell over. I cautioned him how dangerous it is doing that type of work and if you don't pay attention you can get hurt very badly. I remembered my daddy teaching me how to do the same thing I was teaching him to do. I told him that I liked doing that type of work too and maybe I should have been a boy instead of a girl. He kept telling me how good it was looking, and when we finished the fence row I watched him stand back and look at it and then he said how much better it looked. I could see how proud he was of what he had done. He is very smart and can figure things out on his own and has some good ideas on landscaping. He wanted us to set some flowers and I told him I would get some and we could set them later, and yes, that would give what he had done some color. Yesterday I saw a little boy growing into a young man thinking things out for himself and knowing what looks good and what doesn't and even though it was hard work he loved it.

DeeDee got them a new wheelbarrow to carry their limbs in

I asked him why he didn't have a shirt on. He said, "It was HOT!"

Cutting the limbs down to put on "the pile".

Cleaned out fence row

The end of the day pile

Friday, June 27, 2008

Court (and a Bikini)

Can you tell I'm doing a lot of combining topics for posts? I've just got a lot going on so if I can save time ... well, I'm all for that.

I called Brent at our agency today and we played voice mail tag before I finally got him "in person" to ask, again, about our court date and if we could possibly be included in the July 8th or 9th court date that is coming up. Apparently, he knows that it was mentioned to the judge while he was here, but the judge didn't say anything. My understanding from him is that we won't know anything until Ludmilla (the in-country coordinator) returns to Kyrgyzstan on July 7. Well, by my calculations that is only the day or two days before court. *sigh* I asked Brent if he doesn't ever get frustrated about how hard it is to get information. He said that he does, but that he has learned that it is the way things work there. I suppose we are just used to a different way. My mother reminds me that it is God's timing, not mine and that I need to be patient. I just don't DO patient. God keeps trying; I keep arguing. My understanding is He will continue to teach me until I learn. Wouldn't it JUST be easier to give in on it? *smile* I feel like a ten-year-old boy I know.

I continue to remind myself that no matter when we go back each day brings us a little closer to her. I think of her EVERY morning when I first awaken. I calculate what time it is there throughout the day and try to think what she might be doing. I hope she's not just laying in her crib. I hope SOMEONE is taking her outside for sunshine and to hear the birds. I hope that someone is holding and talking to her and giving her a pacifier to suck on. I wonder every day if she is healthy. What is she is sick? How would I ever know? All I DO know right now is that God is holding her close to Him. She is His and was His before there was a me to be concerned. He will care for her better than I ever can. I have faith in Him.

I'm praying each day that God's will will be to have her court date with the others so we can return to get her in August. I'll wait another week. I'll be busy most of next week fretting over the little man who is HERE and having his tonsils out.

Today, after our trip to the movies, I stopped into the Gymboree (conveniently located across the street!) to see if they still had bathing suits. I'm thinking it will still be warm enough in August and September to swim. I'm SO hoping Ellie will like the water. We did find a bathing suit -- the only one in a 3-6 month size -- and I snapped it up. It was on clearance, which is EVEN better since I don't know if it will get much use. Here's a photo of it. It's too cute and All-American!! The hanger doesn't quite do it justice as it's not very "cute" at all.

Wall*E (Walmart Spoof??)

Today I took Joshua and his friend Braiden to see Wall*E, the new Disney/Pixar movie. We all left agreeing it was a bit slow but enjoyable. It is a very earth-friendly show, with a not-so-subtle message about all the garage we are creating and how it could take over. The "big business", named Buy N Large could easily be a spoof of Wal-Mart. Do you think there is any connection to the downfall of the world being too many people "BUYING LARGE?" and creating so much waste? And, the "clean up guy" being called Wall*E? Anyone else talk about going to "Wally-world"?? And his "co-star" if you will, Eve, first woman, pure earth??? So, that's my movie review, short and sweet. It was cute -- worth seeing, but not worth a second viewing unless it's on DVD.
It did remind me that we all have to do our part to keep our earth's landfills from continuing to fill up. To that end, our family has chosen to go CLOTH DIAPERS. I ordered them and they arrived today. Here are some reasons we are choosing this route:
  • In 1988, over 18 billion diapers were sold and consumed in the United States that year. Based on calculations it is estimated that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are consumed every year in the U.S.
  • Over 92% of all single-use diapers end up in a landfill.
  • In 1988, nearly $300 million dollars were spent annually just to discard disposable diapers.
  • No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.
  • Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.
  • The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.
  • Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feed stocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.
  • Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S..
  • Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) - a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
  • Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  • The figure, of course, depends on the number of diaper changes a day and the age at toilet training. But assuming an average two and a half-year diapering period, and an average of eight to ten diaper changes a day (based on every hour for newborns, every two hours for toddlers) this translates to 7,000 to 9,000 diapers over the diapering period. At an average price of $.24 per disposable diaper (premium diapers cost closer to $.33 apiece), the price tag for disposable diapering is around $2,000.
Home diapering, on the other hand, can be done for as little as $400, or as much as $1,200, depending on the type of products you buy. (With what we plan to buy, it will be around $400). Figuring in detergents and energy costs of about $.60 per load, the average parent will spend well under $1,000--usually more like $500--for home diapering.
We anticipate saving around $1,000 in diapering expenses as well not adding diapers to the landfills of the earth AND not putting potentially harmful chemicals on Ellie's bum.

We have ordered 12 diapers initially. I think we'll get a few more right before we go to pick her up. We went with BumGenius. Another adoptive mom that just came home with her little one is using these and I got good feedback from her about them. They came in the mail today -- I have to say the company, CottonBabies are on the ball with their shipping department. We chose to go with the One Size variety and they will fit "The Princess" up to 35 pounds. They are the CUTEST things (for diapers, that is). I'm sure they won't be "so" cute when we are getting the "used" version of them. *smile*

Now, I'm not saying there won't be some occasions when we won't use disposables, but I think, overall, we are going to try to be as environmentally conscious as we can be.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

18 Months - LID for China

Today marks our 18 month wait since we were logged in for China. Will we continue with this process after Ellie is home? I don't know. I remember a funny story with my grandmother one time. She had been told in the hospital that she had colon cancer and had to decide if she wanted to have surgery or not. As she lay in the hospital bed, we asked her what she had decided. She said, "I don't know, I'll have to ask the Lord." Later we asked again and she said, "I don't know. He hasn't answered." That's pretty much where I am right now. I think we will know if/when it's time to throw in the towel on that process. My understanding is they are still doing referrals for families logged in during January 2006 and have been doing this month for the ENTIRE 2008 year. That's pitiful. If that continues, no, we will not be able to continue -- we'll be too old!! That does not preclude other avenues with China, but as we have to wait until we are home a year with Ellie, it is not a decision we will need to make. To be real honest right now, I'm tired of adoption -- it has taken over our lives for SO long that I am ready to be done. Not that I don't KNOW that Ellie will be worth it, that's not what I'm saying -- I'm just tired of the roller coaster ride. I got my ticket's worth and I'm ready to step off the ride onto more solid ground.

So, happy anniversary China. You are still in our hearts.

Tonsillectomy - Scheduled (again)

After two previous unsuccessful attempts (Fall Break and then Christmas break), we have scheduled Joshua's tonsillectomy. I became quite concerned yesterday when I called and was told they had NO openings because some doctor had left the practice. She "hmmmm'd" and "wellllll'd" until finally I couldn't stand it and I said, "He HAS to have these tonsils out before we go back to Kyrgyzstan to pick up his sister in August!" Now, no, I do not KNOW that we will go back in August, but the power of positive thinking has to count for SOMETHING. Then, we spent a while talking about "all that" and she said, "I have a note that there is a family who wants to re-schedule on July 9. I will call them tomorrow and see and call you back." I told her I would take whatever she could get for us.

When she called today she said, "How about Wednesday (you know, like a WEEK from today??)?" I said, "That will be fantastic." I didn't check the calendar; I don't care. He HAS to have them out. While he was at camp, he thought he had an ear infection. The doctor who looked in his ears said he did not, but that it was "awfully tight" in there and that he needed to get those tonsils and adenoids out. Yes, we've heard that before -- several times.

So, I've not told Joshua. Any suggestions on when to tell him? I'm thinking Tuesday. *smile*. He is a worrier and a fretter and if I tell him now, he'll just spend the next week worrying, alternately crying that he doesn't want to have this done, and then worrying some more. Am I doing him a disservice by telling him the day before?

I'm just glad we'll have this behind us -- another big thing marked off our list and a little man who can sleep well, not be so tired from sleeping poorly and have fewer ear and throat issues. This is not to say I won't be a wreck that day, but ..... I'm just a mom.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Crazy Things About Me ...

I thought I might veer away from adoption for a bit (although, I'm certain there will be an update at the bottom of this post) and talk about some of the things about me that are just crazy! :-) Now, those who know me well will tell you there are a LOT of things about me that are crazy, but even they might not know some of these.

  1. I like to eat canned asparagus straight out of the can. I LOVE it and can eat the whole can.

  2. I'm addicted to The Young and the Restless and tape it to watch. While Kevin and Josh were away at camp, I watched the two weeks' worth I missed while in Kyrgyzstan.

  3. My car is attracted to mailboxes and I have hit (read: TAKEN OUT) two this year alone. My insurance company thinks I'm crazy.

  4. I used to eat Lima bean sandwiches when I was little.

  5. I failed "White Gloves and Party Manners" and had to re-take it when I was a little girl. Technically, I suppose I didn't fail, but I guess I didn't "get it" so my mom signed me up for another session. I still don't have a clue where the fork and knives go and have a photo/cheat sheet in my utensils drawer.

  6. I love office supplies and remember as a kid that I LOVED going back to school just to get new office supplies. When I worked in a "public" job, my favorite thing to do was to go to the office supply store and buy things.

  7. I like the smell of bookstores.

  8. I don't "understand" north/south/east/west. I get the concept but if you were to put me in my yard and say, "Point north" -- I couldn't.

  9. I loose something almost every day. It's ridiculous.

  10. I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up.

So, there you go, ten crazy things about me. If you are a blogger, why not write 10 crazy things about yourself?

And, as promised, an adoption update. We still don't know about our court date. I've sent another email to our agency, who truly has promised they will let me know as soon as they know. Patience is not one of my strong suits -- I guess that's why God has made me wait so long -- hoping to improve that area of my life. *smile* I have the name of a local pediatrician and I'm going to call them tomorrow to see if he has openings. While we have a pediatrician for Josh, we just feel that because Ellie is a preemie and because she is an international adoptee, we might need someone who specializes in those areas more than our doctor does. We LOVE her for Josh so it's not about that. My friend Jennifer is coming over Tuesday afternoon to help me go through the piles of clothes I've bought through the years and find out what I actually have that will fit The Princess. I suspect it will be embarrassingly little as I NEVER thought she would be a) this young or b) this small. We are going to put the clothes in storage containers based on size so that I'll be able to get them out as she grows into them.

I have ordered a Peanut Shell sling. I liked the look of Gen's from her blog and she recommended it. I love the color. I got the pink/brown reversible microfleece. Now, if I looked like this MODEL, we'd be in business. In my mind, I do!! That might be another one of those crazy things about me, I'm not sure.

BEST NEWS of the day: Kevin and Joshua have returned from Centri-kid church camp. Both of them are really tired. Several days of 7:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. have exhausted them both. I'm so glad they are home so my life can be back to normal -- it's odd not having them around. Josh couldn't wait to watch Camp Rock that he taped while he was gone, so as I post, he is watching. I really thought he'd be asleep by now. I know I'd like to be.

Here are photos of Josh and his cousins on the day we went to the movies and the park. The other photos are "Golfer Josh" on that same afternoon when we went to the golf course for him to hit a bucket of balls.

These photos are from the day Josh and Kevin left for Centri-kid church camp. Can you tell I'm a LITTLE behind in uploading photos? Note Kevin's Twizzlers. That's another crazy thing about me -- I HATE chewy candy like that. Must be a texture thing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Princess Ellie has her own book series

A friend I met through adoption, Julie, emailed me tonight to let me know that "The Princess" apparently has her own book series. It is a series written by Diana Kimpton, a British author, who wrote the Pony Mad Princess series. In the U.S., the series is called the Pony Crazed Princess. It includes such books as:

Princess Ellie's Snowy Ride
Princess Ellie's Summer Vacation
Princess Ellie's Treasure Hunt
Princess Ellie to the Rescue
Princess Ellie's Camping Trip (oh, I hope hers was better than my last one!!)
Princess Ellie Takes Charge (I can see this happening!!)
Princess Ellie Solves a Mystery
Princess Ellie's Royal Jamboree
Princess Ellie's Secret Pony
Princess Ellie's Starlight Adventure
A Surprise for Princess Ellie
Princess Ellie's Christmas
Princess Ellie's Secret
Puzzle for Princess Ellie
Princess Ellie and the Moonlight Mystery
Princess Ellie's Summer Vacation (Holiday in UK)
Princess Ellie and the Enchanted Fawn

Apparently, the Princess has an exciting life. However, titles that might be more relevant to what we might experience might be:

Princess Ellie Keeps Her Parents Up all Night
Princess Ellie Throws up on her Brother
Princess Ellie Pulls the Cat's Tail
Princess Ellie Exhausted from Trying on So Many Clothes
Princess Ellie Hates Carrots
Princess Ellie Runs on the Football Field during the Game
Princess Ellie Throws a Fit in Church

You know -- some reality based books. *smile*

While I was looking at these books, I noticed the following sign:

Since I guess she's not going to be DRIVING anytime soon, I suppose we won't need this. Thank goodness!

Tomorrow "MY BOYS" come home. I have missed them terribly. Josh sounded SO tired on the phone tonight when I talked to him. Kevin says they are all so tired that if you look at them wrong, they'll cry. Oh, Joy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Baby Ellie Presents

Yesterday when I returned home from taking my Punchie (the cat) to the vet (she has a hematoma on her ear that has to be removed Monday), I saw a box on my front porch. My friend, Terri, had told me she was sending a gift for Ellie, and this was sent out before we knew that OUR ELLIE was coming home. What perfect timing!!

I got in and ripped it open like a mad woman and found a treasure-trove of goodies. Terri (from WAY back in high school) recently bought an embroidery sewing machine and she had embroidered a diaper bag, a bib, two wash cloths and a blanket. I wish I could describe for you how soft the blanket is. I found myself rubbing it against my face, envisioning her wrapped in it and just began to cry. It's just all been so emotional and now that it's all decided and good, it was just too much. However, you women know what a good cry can do for you, so I was much better afterwards! Here are some photos of the WONDERFUL gifts she sent. I'm so happy to have them; they are all just beautiful and I can't wait to use them!!

Terri and I were re-connected about a year and a half or two years ago when we "found" each other on an adoption board as we were both adopting from China. Imagine our surprise!! She has since brought her baby, Teagan, home. She has been such a source of support for me during the last few years! I'm so glad we found each other again!!

Thank you, Terri!!!!

Isn't it all beautiful?

I can't WAIT until I can show you all photos of Ellie aka "The Princess". I just printed several of them today and she is SO CUTE!!!! I am so hopeful to get some new pictures of her in July when several families are traveling to visit or pick up their little ones.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"The Princess" is NOT sick and is coming HOME!

Do you know how WONDERFUL it feels to write that title???

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His loving kindness is everlasting.
I Chronicles 16:34 and Psalms 118:1 and Psalms 118:29 and Jeremiah 33:11

As I was researching to find the verse that fit how GOOD our God is, I found it interesting that in three places in the Bible the SAME words are used to convey the goodness of God. I think it should be no surprise that this statement should be written by people through the ages and I am so glad to be able to share that information with you all today. For those of you who have shared with me (and there have been many) that your faith is not my faith, I do not make light of your faith and your belief, but let me share that the God that I serve, love and worship is ONE MIGHTY BIG GOD who loves me a whole lot. My wish is that everyone could experience the magnitude, the love and the grace of my God.
As you all know and have followed along, we were given a referral of a BEAUTIFUL little one and travelled to Tokmok to visit with her and came to find out that she allegedly had a medical condition that we felt was way beyond our ability to handle. Through prayer and soul searching and with great heartbreak, we decided to turn down our referral and wait for another one. We came home and began moving on with our lives. And, actually, I had a conversation with my preacher that I was a bit disturbed that I wasn't more upset about this than I was.

On Wednesday this week, I was out with my son, my two nieces and my mother-in-law after we had taken the kids to see the free movies in Nashville. We had stopped at McDonalds and gone to the park. I noticed I had a voicemail on my phone and checked to see who it was. It was our agency calling and asking me to call back. I was a bit taken aback as I was not expecting to hear from them until after July 7. I called back and talked with Brent who told me that they had had the records reviewed by a very well-known, well-respected doctor who specializes in that medical condition and who is an international adoption doctor and that she said our little one did not have this issue. I stood, silenced for a bit. I asked if we could have an international adoption doctor from our area review the files and conference with the agency and orphanage doctor (who is in town, luckily) and he said he would facilitate making that happen if I could get it together by Thursday or Friday (no pressure -- one day!). The conversation with the agency was a long one and I walked away with wounds ripped back open and the pain all fresh and new. I called Kevin, who was out in the field behind a drill rig and unreachable -- JUST MY LUCK.

After I got home, I managed to make contact with Vanderbilt's International Adoption Clinic, told my story, explained our situation and the urgency of quickness. Josh asked if we could go to the golf course for him to hit balls and I agreed so I could have some quiet time to ponder this information. I will not say that I was able to accept, agree or process this information right away. It was just too -- odd. I called and left a message with the doctor that our agency had talked with and asked if she would call me back as well.

I got NO calls back on Wednesday. Probably best as I was still just in a state of shock and confusion (as can be evidenced by the post that night). I didn't believe it and thought there must be some mistake. The waiting and soul and mind searching were so incredibly hard. To be back in this place I thought I was past and had left was really hard.

On Thursday, Josh had a doctor's appointment and we were getting our hair cut. I got calls back from the Vanderbilt doctor and got the conference call set up. She spent about 30 minutes going over the information I had sent her and about the condition and possibilities. After that, she was scheduled to make the conference call. While I was getting my hair cut (great timing, eh?) I got calls back from both the Vanderbilt doctor and the specialist. I spent at least an hour on the phone with the specialist and about 30-45 minutes on the phone with Vanderbilt with them both explaining everything in her file and how they both came to the same conclusions -- independently -- that she did not have the medical condition we were concerned about. They were, in fact, both more concerned with her prematurity and small size and growth than anything else. That is something that just doesn't concern me at all -- when she is home, she will be "fluffy" like the rest of us, I'm certain. However, we were asked to get new measurements to see if the little peanut was growing.

I didn't expect to get the new measurements until next week, but on Friday, I got a call from the agency with new measurements. I immediately called Vanderbilt to share them as I was expecting an additional call back from them between 1-2 after they had reviewed her photos. After that phone call with her and the information she shared, both Kevin and I agreed that we had no reservations accepting her referral.

SO..... long story short -- we are back in the adoption process!! We don't know exactly when we will return to pick her up. I know there are those who are returning mid-August and I am hopeful to be able to return with them. I am still waiting to see if they will be able to get the paperwork done in time for her to go to court the week the staff returns to Kyrgyzstan.

So much to do now -- arghhh!! :-) But, we are SO excited. God has returned our joy to us; He has given us back our daughter. What an incredible blessing -- what a miracle.
"The Princess" is coming home. Thank you, God!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stay Tuned . . .

Tomorrow, when I'm not so sleepy, there will be an exciting news post for all you wonderful readers!!!
Joshua 3:5
Then Joshua addressed the people:
"Sanctify yourselves.
Tomorrow God will work miracle-wonders among you."
Psalm 136:4
Give thanks to Him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday's Thoughts

Thank you again to all who have commented and emailed on the "Odd Day" post from yesterday. It has been a busy, emotional day with us trying to work through some information we were given yesterday.

In addition, Josh and I went to get our hair cuts. I got a LOT of hair cut off and I just feel summery now. :-) I needed a change. Josh got a lot of hair cut off to, but next week it will be long again. That hair and those fingernails grow SO fast on that boy.

And, tomorrow, Kevin and Josh leave at 6:30 for Centri-Kid church camp. I will get five days to "ponder life, leave dishes in the sink (yeah, right!), sleep late (haha), eat bonbons and watch soap operas. That sentence is too funny to even think about. :-)

In all honesty, I need to finish stenciling the nursery, work in the field, enter as much work as I can, review as much work as I can, go to Jennifer's Friday night for a jewelry party, put together the year-end baseball book and re-write a grant application. It's not like I'm going to be laying around taking naps, I suppose. I will miss them SO MUCH!!! They are all packed and I just have to get them to the bus in the morning.

BIG congratulations to my online buddy, Betsy, who has been SO supportive of me during this adoption process from Kryg. She and hubby, Bryan, received their referral of a sweet little boy today. I am so happy for them. Betsy is such a sweet person!!

Odd Day ....

So many things happened today that I'm just not a liberty to post right now -- so many things "in the works" that may, or may not, come to pass. And while I can't share details, I can share some rambling thoughts. After all, it's my blog and it's where I come to sort through all those things running around in my head and try to sort them out, finger through them, move them around and try them in different locations to see if they "fit" better another way.

I'm confused. I don't know what God is telling me and I don't know why some things are happening the way they are. I'll say not a lot that God asks me to do anymore surprises me. There is little that will stop me in my tracks. Today I was stopped.

I called and asked my friend Iris today, "Where is He? What is He doing here?" I can't seem to get a bead on where He wants me. Of course, He is in my heart; I know He's here. Jesus told us when he left this earth [John 14:1 - Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.] that he left us both peace [John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.] and a Comforter (the Holy Spirit) [see John 14:15-21 below] and so my heart and mind know where He is, but He's being oddly silent right now. I am reminded - again - that He tells us His ways are not our ways. [Deuteronomy 32:4 -- He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.] Of this I am certain.

The only thing that has come to me in my heart today was a verse that I had on a sticker in my car for years, "Be still ...... and know that I am God." [Psalm 46:10] And so, I've done the things that are in my control and I am waiting -- and wondering and asking, "What are You thinking?" I'm turning so many things around in my head and trying to find the path that I'm supposed to take -- but I just don't KNOW. My pastor prayed with me tonight and I shared this situation with some very close friends at church, my parents and my friend Iris. No one has given me the magic words or the right answer. I know no one can, but I need them. I fear making a decision about things that will change my life and the lives of so many forever. Even worse, I fear not having the faith to make a decision that might be right. Life is hard.

And so I read the Bible and I pray and I wait. I know what peace in a decision feels like now -- I will know it again when the time is right. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on YOUR OWN understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. You've seen this verse here a lot lately. It continues to pop up frequently and it literally is carrying me through it all.

I told someone today that I think I understand how Mary must have felt when the Angel visited her and told her what all was going to happen -- and, no, I'm not pregnant -- and her absolute amazement, uncertainty, confusion and awe. I imagine she stood there with her mouth open saying, "Could you repeat what you just said to me? I'm not sure I understand you. You want me to do WHAT?" I'm sure she walked around in the daze that I've found myself in all day.

And so, again, I ask for prayers -- specific prayers that the next few days will reveal to Kevin and I the answers to the questions we are asking; that we are brave enough to make the right decisions in our lives and that God is glorified in those decisions because they are where He wants our family; prayers for undoubted answers and overwhelming peace. We surely would appreciate it.

And to think the day was so ordinary -- movies with Josh, my two nieces and my mother-in-law. McDonalds taken to the park. Swings and laughter and good conversation. Josh hitting buckets of balls at the golf course while I watched clouds roll by and pondered. But, yet, not the day I had expected at all.

I wonder if Mary thought that about the day that changed her future -- if she was washing clothes, carrying water, cooking, thinking about Joseph -- all the regular things of her day -- and then it turned into something she never could have imagined? Interesting.

Do your best, prepare for the worst --
then trust God to bring the victory.
Proverbs 21:31 (The Message)
"Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you.
You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus."
Luke 1:30-31 (The Message)
Yes, I see it all now. I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve
Let it be with me just as you say.
Luke 1: 38 (The Message)
And Mary said,
"I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me and look what happened --
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth.
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others."
Luke 1: 46-49 (The Message)
"If you love me, you will obey what I command.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--
the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him,
because it neither sees him nor knows him.
But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore,
but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I am in you.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them,
he is the one who loves me. He who loves me
will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him
and show myself to him."
Luke 14:15-21

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fireflies and Bare Feet

There are few things about summertime that can bring memories of childhood flashing back like chasing fireflies. Tonight, Josh came out and said he "Needed a jar". Since it was dusk and a few days ago I had seen the first fireflies, I suspected what it might be for. When I got him a Mason jar, I asked if he would be needing holes in the top. He said yes and we poked some holes in it for "air" and headed outside. I had been cleaning my car (which could have been used as alternately a garbage dump or feeding source for third world countries) and he asked if I would "help him". I told him I didn't think I could help, but I'd come and watch. I was still wearing my clothes from the day, including some heels and it just seemed perfect to take them off and walk through the dew-laden grass. It was wonderful! I can't tell you when I've done that. It reminded me that the simple things in life are what are so important -- watching that full moon tonight while my little man ran through the yard chasing lightning bugs. He caught one. They aren't quite so plentiful yet. The cat had fun chasing him. The dog had fun running through the yard and I -- well, I had fun just being ... watching.

I've enjoyed watching Kevin and Josh working in the yard the past few nights. Josh has really enjoyed helping Kevin by mowing the yard this year. This is his first year to be allowed to use the riding mower and he does such a nice job to be learning. He helped Kevin pick up the raked piles of grass and clean the shed out. It's nice to watch Kevin teaching him how to be a man. It makes me a bit sad, to watch him growing up, but it's such a blessing to see his dad teaching him. I've seen him turn more toward Kevin in the last year -- preferring to be with him over me. That's as it should be, I suppose -- he's learning to become the man he will one day be. I'm glad he has a good role model.

I've tried to make my life, our lives, a bit less hectic since our return. I am back to work, yes, but I make sure there is time for other things. I've spent time cleaning the house, cleaning the car, chasing fireflies, loving the kitties. Tonight, Josh wanted to take the dog for a walk and I told him it was ok. Keep in mind the dog is a 115 pound lab/Rottie mix who get so excited to go for a walk he can barely contain himself from jumping and running and generally going crazy. It was funny, as soon as he came out, the doors to the car were open (remember, I'm cleaning) and he JUMPS in and sits down in the back seat. Josh and I finally had to ride him around the block, wind blowing through his snout, Josh laughing hysterically, before the dog would get out. I thought, while I was driving the dog and listening to the laughter -- THIS is what it's all about. The blessing of our trip to Kyrgyzstan has been seeing the importance of what is right now instead of what will be. We are not guaranteed a will be. We have a now. Living in the moment -- that's what's important, I think.

Fireflies, dogs, laughter, full moons, time to clean and cook, walking bare-footed through the dew -- those are what's important.

Job 8:21:
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Psalm 29:11:
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Adoption News

For those of you who are following along for adoption news in our family, we wanted to share with you that because we did not hear any referral news by this past Friday, we will not hear anything until at least the week of July 7. The in-country staff are in the U.S. meeting with our agency and attending the annual agency picnic. They will have some additional vacation time after this trip and will return to work on July 7.

Hopefully, after that date, we will hear news about our new referral. We have had conversations with our agency about the little girl who was our first referral and we understand that her files were being brought over for review by an IA doctor who is a specialist in infectious disease. I continue to pray for her every day that they will be able to get her the help she will need and that she will find a forever family.

During our wait for our next referral, I hope to finish her room -- I still have some stenciling to complete and the wall trim needs to be painted. We also hope to begin to purchase some of the things we know we will need for her when she comes home -- car seats, strollers, diapers -- the list goes on and on, doesn't it?

I watched a video last night of a family who compiled their photos from their time in Kyrgyzstan and put it on their blog. Ironically, I think they stayed in the same hotel room as us. It was a good thing to watch and gave a part of the excitement back for me. I know we have to have time to grieve this loss, but I so want to be excited about our adoption, about this little girl. I know we will look back on all of this and forget most of the pain -- I want to be there. As it is now, with her birth in June (as we anticipate), we will not travel back to pick her up until the first weeks of November. Wouldn't it be funny if her Gotcha Day were the same as mine? November 6. We'll see, I suppose. I guess it will be nice to see Kyrgyzstan with snow.

Thank you again, for all of your kind words. We are going to take a respite for the next three weeks while we wait for their return and continue living our normal lives.

And, in an effort to be even more prepared, I made a visit to the Once Upon a Child store and bought a few items in the 0-3 and 3-6 month sizes. This has sealed the fate that I will receive a child who is fluffy and not tiny. :-) It doesn't matter to me, though!!! I feel pretty certain we will get some wear out of them. And, while it might seem odd that I'm buying clothes for another baby so soon after losing this little one, know that I know in my heart that this baby was not mine and I have to move on. I can choose to spend a lot of time grieving for something that God didn't have planned for me, or I can choose to embrace what He does have in store. I'm choosing to move forward and not dwell on the loss. Buying a few things for our little one was healing in a way. Here are some of my bargains. OUAC has a "frequent buyer" club where they punch your card for every $10 worth of purchases and when your card is full, you get an additional 20% off regularly priced merchandise. I used my 20% off card this time as well for additional discounts!

OshKosh Circus theme denim jumper -Half off - Final Price $2.25

Fleecy frog themed one-piece from Little Me - New with tags - Half off - Final price $2.25

Carter's convertible one-piece to sleeper, new with tags - $2.00

Children's place knitted/sweater one piece with sweater and hat - new with tags $6.80

Child of Mine two piece jogging suit - $2.80

Baby Okie Dokie one piece with bib - Half off - $2.75

Carter's shirt and overall set - Half off - Final Price - $2.25

Koala Baby footed one piece, jacket and headband, new with tags - $4.40

Small Wonders onesie, pants and hat set - Half Off - Final Price $2.25
I didn't buy ALL these shoes at OUAC. They've just sort of morphed into a collection over the past few years. I don't think I've paid more than $1.50 for any of them -- which is good because she will grow out of them faster than you can blink, I'm sure. We have all sorts of sizes to pick from. I did get a few pair during this trip to OUAC -- the black patent leather with bows in the back and some red patent leather (you can't see them in this photo) as well. Each pair was $1.50.

And on a separate note: CONGRATULATIONS to my friend, Mayme and her family, who have received the referral of their daughter Emma, from China. It has been a long wait, my friend, and I am SO happy for you!!

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my husband and my daddy!! Yes, I'm a bit late on the post, but that's pretty much standard for me. I'm also behind on posting about the family reunion so I'll get to that too in another post.

Josh spent the night with Nana and his cousins on Saturday night. I reminded him that the next day was Father's Day and of our tradition to serve breakfast in bed. It didn't matter. He explained that he never got to see his cousins. So we relented and he stayed with the understanding that Uncle Mike and Aunt Ann would drop him off on Sunday on their way back home.

Kevin still got breakfast in bed -- a might nice one too (I can say this as I made it *smile*) -- of crescent rolls, bacon, strawberries and coffee. I even sacrificed some of my flowers so he could have some in a vase on his bed tray.

After breakfast, we got ready for church and I went to Sunday school and came back home to get Josh. We made it back for about half the service and Josh was happy because he and I sat in the balcony.

After church Kevin and Josh agreed that Matzatlan (the local Mexican restaurant) was where they wanted to go. I had suggested Outback where we had a gift card, but we were afraid it would be too busy. I had called my daddy earlier as we were going to do Father's Day with him as well, but my mom is sick and he didn't want to leave her. We agreed to do Father's Day later with him. We all commented on how much we had wanted to go to Matzatlan while we were in Kyrgyzstan, which reminded me that only a week ago we were leaving there. In some ways, it seems like an eternity ago.

We came back home after lunch and Kevin got showered with his Father's Day cards and presents. We did something absolutely unheard of at our house afterwards -- we all rested and watched a movie together. It was really nice. And... here are photos of Kevin opening his gifts. Note the cat who always has to be in the middle of everything.

Kevin got a Swiss Army flashlight that he'd been wanting, a wooden pen that says "World's Best Father" (he loves pens), two frames that have Bible verses on them: one with Father and Son and one with Father and Daughter. Neither frame has photos yet, but we will most definitely have them filled before the next Father's Day (note, again, my procrastination). He also got two books: Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength and a book called How to Hit a Curve ball, Grill the Perfect Steak and Become a Real Man (learning what our fathers never taught us). And so when Kevin saw it he laughed and said, "I thought I already was a real man." But... the back of the book has this interesting teaser that made me think he might want to read it: But what if being an authentic man has nothing to do with mastering the mechanics of daily life? What if authenticity has more to do with courageously tackling the hidden questions of your heart, digging deep into your soul and discovering who you were really made to be? So... it was an impulse pick up. I think he'll like it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kevin's Family Reunion

Every year, Kevin's mom's family has a family reunion at the Jefferson Davis Monument in Fairview, Kentucky. At Thanksgiving, all of Kevin's brothers and their families agreed that we would all attend this year as it might be the last time we'd all be together for a while as Ben is entering the Navy in the fall.
All the grandchildren - June 2008
Steve (L) and Kevin (R) -- We called Kevin "grumpy" here
So, we all packed up our food and went to the park on Saturday. I managed, somehow, to get photos of everyone except Kevin's brother Mike and his wife Ann , Angie-- and, of course myself as I didn't really want any of me. I would have liked to have had photos of the other three.

We had a great lunch and then everyone (except Mike and Ann and Nana) went up into the Jefferson Davis Monument. Here's your historical tidbit on this monument:

At 351 feet tall, it is the largest [unreinforced] concrete obelisk in the world, and the fifth tallest monument in the United States. The top four are St. Louis's Gateway Arch, 630 feet tall; San Jacinto (Texas) Monument, 570 feet (built to the peoples who created an independent country -- just like the Confederates); the Washington Monument, 555 feet; and the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put in Bay, Ohio, which, at 352 feet, nudges its way past the Davis obelisk by a mere extra 12 inches.

We paid $4.00 per adult and $1.00 per child to ride in an elevator to the top where there were two windows (with bars) that they would open for you to look out. wow. Notice, there weren't even capital letters or an exclamation point? That was on purpose. So now I can add that to my list of things "done" and tall things I've gone up in. Barana Tower was better.

The "twins" Ben and David brought their girlfriends. That was freaky as I still remember them as the almost-seven-year-olds who were the ring bearers in our wedding. Yes, I see them and know they've grown up, but girlfriends?? Oy. Danielle, my first baby niece is a teenager now. She is constantly worried about herself and I keep telling her I'd kill to be as skinny and pretty as she is. I remember those days, though. Teenage years are some hard stuff. And then Caitlin, Lauren, Emily, Sarah Ann and Joshua are still our little ones who like to play on the playground
and with one another. It's so good to see them all together playing.

Ben and Courtney

David and Ashley



Emily (back) and Caitlin

Joshua, Sarah Ann and Lauren

Lauren trying on the bonnets in the JDM gift shop

Joshua and Emily trying out the "costumes" in the JDM gift shop
Touring the JDM museum

Touring the JDM museum

After the reunion we all went to the Dairy MART in Elkton and had ice cream.

Josh spent the night at Nana's to play more with "his cousins" and David, Ben, Courtney and Ashley spent the night at our house so they could leave early to get the girls back to Father's Day activities with their fathers.

It was a nice day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Comings and Goings

We have slowly begun to settle into what is our "normal" life again. Josh has been spending mornings at VBS - "Outrigger Island". I'll try to take some photos tonight of their "blowout" they have on the last night. I've been in the field working the last couple of days trying to get back on track. Kevin has been back at work as well. He spent a few days saying he was very dizzy, nauseous and breaking out into sweats. Finally, my mom told him he needed to go to the doctor as it could be his blood pressure. I had told him I thought it was ear infections and my friends had given him some medicine for inner-ear (Meinere's disease). Yes, I know, you aren't supposed to share meds - blah, blah. :-) Anyway, it turns out he had a double ear infection so he got meds, 14 hours of sleep and is feeling some better now.

Last night we went to see the new Indiana Jones movie. Harrison Ford still looks as good as ever, but the movie was just ok to me. Now, it might have been that I was tired, so I will give it that. It scared Josh in several places so in retrospect I might should have read about it first. He didn't have nightmares last night though or come climbing in our bed. That might still be due to the fact that he's really tired. We've kept him very busy since we've returned as he needed to be burning energy and spending time with friends. VBS has been great for that. Next week, on Friday, he and Kevin leave for Centi-Kid camp so he will stay busy then as well.

This weekend is Kevin's family's reunion. His brothers and their family are all coming in and it will be SO GOOD to see them again. While they are within driving distance in Georgia and Ohio, we don't see them as much as we'd like. Thanksgiving was our last get-together. It will be short and quick, but fun!!

So, our lives go on. I continue to pray for a little one in an orphanage on the other side of the world and for another baby who is either just born or about to be any time. If we don't hear of a referral today, it will be after July 7 when the in-country staff return from their vacations and trip to the States. Either way is fine. It will buy us a little more time to fundraise for an additional trip to Kyrgyzstan that we had not budgeted. We are certain God has this under control and will provide for us when we need it.

I read other blogs and see photos from the orphanage and there is a little twinge, a little heartache. We continue to see those who ask, "How are you?" and "What happened?". We understand their concern and curiosity, but after telling the story so many times, we feel tired from it. It's like re-living it every time. We just continue to walk through where we need to go and continue to point to God as the one who is in charge. I've enjoyed my "quiet time" in the car, working, where I can listen to our local Christian radio station, The Fish. There is something music does to soothe my soul when I hurt, bring the tears and bring the healing. Music is such a blessing from God.

A shout-out of appreciation to "my" friends (yes, apparently Kevin thinks they are "his" friends too!!) Iris, Dianne and Dawn, who brought dinner our second night home: pot roast, corn bread, pinto beans, deviled eggs, coleslaw, rolls and pie. MAN! What a shame that when they arrived I had fallen out in bed with a tummy ache and did not awaken until the next morning. Apparently, we also got several phone calls that night (including one from my sister), a visit from our pastor and I NEVER awoke to any of it. MAN!! Jet lag is rough. We are so thankful to those who have shared our pain, ministered to us and loved us during this time.

Today, after Bible School, we are OFF to find the perfect Father's Day gifts. I'll let you know how that goes.

AND, my sincere appreciation to Jeff over at LandLife (this is sarcasm, by the way - *smile*) for getting me hooked on CVS and ECBs. I'm in some sort of state waiting on Sunday's sale paper. Kevin did get some lovely razors and facial products this week though. I know he thanks you!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Resist Discouragement

As many of you have been reading exerpts from my daily devotional The Purpose Driven Life, I wanted to share this with everyone who is waiting during their adoption process, for those of you who are praying for something that might not have come to pass yet and for those of you who ask, "Why?" these recent events have happened to us. We are certain in God's timing. This only serves to reinforce that certainty. I hope this can help you as well.

Resist Discouragement
by Rick Warren

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:36-37 (NIV)

If you’re discouraged because of God’s delay in answering your prayers, understand the delay is NOT a denial. Just because the answer or the miracle hasn’t come – yet – that doesn’t mean God isn’t going to answer, or that he’s forgotten you, or that he doesn’t care about you. It simply means “not yet!”

Spiritual maturity is knowing the difference between “No” and “Not yet,” between a denial and a delay. The Bible tells us, “He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37 NIV).
The delay may be a test of your patience. Anybody can be patient once. And, anybody can be patient twice. And, just about anybody can be patient three times. So God tests you patience over and over and over.

Why? To see how patient you are?

No, he does it to show you how patient you are. So you’ll know what’s inside of you, and you’ll be able to know your level of commitment. God tests you so that you can know he is faithful, even if the answers you seek are delayed.If you’re discouraged, turn it around by remembering God teaches you patience during delay. Ask him to transform your discouragement into patience.

You may be going through difficult times right now and feel like dropping off the planet. You’re discouraged because the situation you face seems unmanageable, unreasonable, or unfair.
It may seem unbearable and inside you’re basically saying, “God, I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t take it anymore!”

But you can.

You can stay with it longer because God is with you. He’ll enable you to press on. Remember, you are never a failure until you quit.

Don’t quit. Resist discouragement and finish the race God has set before you.

If you would like to subscribe to this devotional, you can click HERE.


It's 5:00 a.m. and I've been up since about 3:30 -- giving my spot in the bed to Josh who "couldn't sleep" and getting up to feed and let the dogs and kitties out to ramble. I decided to read and answer emails (there have been so many kind words) and read my blogs that I have on feed.

The final one I read was my husbands blog: A Dad's Adoption Story. It was the thing that broke me. I am sitting here in tears. If you have time, click over and read it.

What a wonderful man I married -- what a great father and what a man after God's heart. I am amazed, in awe and in love. I so pray that God gives him this baby girl he dreams of -- that our entire family dreams of. What better father could she have. In all his and my imperfections as people and parents, a child can never say that we don't offer never-ending love.

Speaking of dreams, I suppose all the emotion of this journey and adoption came out subconsciously last night as I dreamed about our daughter. The last dream I had about a daughter was the night our first little referral was born. It remains to be seen if this is the case this time.

My appreciation to "my friend" (Kevin jokes that they are "his friends" too), Sharon, who brought the remainder of our dinner last night -- dessert and drinks. I'm eating one of her cookies right now -- YUM, comfort food. The lasagna "my friend" Jennifer brought was MOST excellent and we are looking forward to finishing it off today for lunch. THANK YOU!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008


We arrived home today around 11:00. A hearty thank you to our friend Jennifer who took the day off work to come pick us up and offered to run any errands we needed. She is also bringing dinner tonight. I have the BEST friends in the world. As I write, I am just exhausted, but am pushing myself to stay awake until after dinner and my parents come visit. We know we will go to bed VERY early tonight, but want to try to get back on a regular schedule as soon as possible.

We were so glad to be back in the United States. Last night, we had a layover in Washington, D.C. and got a hotel room there. It was amazing how we all ran around the room like it was the finest hotel we'd ever seen in the world. We all went on and on about how great the room was, how soft the beds were, how great it was to have water we could use to brush our teeth, a microwave and air conditioning.

We are so thankful for our country after being away for these past 16 days. When you get up each morning, take a moment to be thankful for the things we take for granted. Be happy you have a place to live that has a roof that doesn't leak. Be thankful every time your stomach is full. When you go to that job you say you don't like -- be glad you have it. The average YEARLY income in Kyrgyzstan is $1500. I'm guessing you make that a month. When you fill that car up with $4 a gallon gas, be glad you have a way to go places and don't have to walk everywhere you go. When you turn your water on and it's clean enough to brush your teeth, drink and cook with, be thankful. When you want to complain about the government making rules, remember, many times they are for our own good. Lines on the road and speed limits are not bad things. When it's so hot outside you can't stand it, be happy that air conditioning is the rule, not the exception here. When you complain about laundry, be glad you don't have to walk several miles to get the water in a bucket, wash your clothes out in a tub and hang them on a line to dry. When you complain about having to cut the grass, remember, it could be with a scythe or you could have animals tied in your yard to just eat the lawn down. We are such a privileged nation and as a nation we are so ungrateful much of the time. It's very sad to me. I'm so happy that our family got a chance to see another way of life. I hope we never forget it -- I fear, most of all, that we will and will become a family of complainers again.

It was hard to come home and find photos of the baby on the refrigerator and in frames sitting around the house. I've taken the down as the reminder of how excited we were before we left is too hard. And while we don't expect to hear any news of a new referral soon (our in-country staff is visiting the U.S. and won't return to work until after the first week of July), we think it's best to give ourselves the time to be sad before we receive another referral.

Our trip home was long and a bit hard at times. United is NOT the best airline I've ever flown, to say the least. The last part of our flight was delayed about 1.5 hours. We were on the plane a large part of that time with NO AIR. When we arrived in Nashville, we waited 45 minutes before our luggage came out. Several other things occurred on our flight from London to Washington, D.C. If there are other options that are similarly priced for the next trip, I suspect I will investigate other options.

The doggies and kitties were ALL glad to see us and we were glad to see them. Once the laundry is done and things are put back where they belong, we can get on with our lives. Barbie, our new friend we met in Bishkek gave me some good advice the Friday before we left, "Give yourself time and give yourself grace." We are going to do that.

I received another "WOW" moment in my inbox today. Years ago when we first started our adoption journey, I was struggling with our wait times (domestic) and I said, "I wish God would just send me an email." In some email I got that day, a verse from Habakkuk 2:3 came. I wrote the verse down and taped it to my computer where it stayed for a long time (until I got a laptop). TODAY, I got my Purpose Driven Life daily devotional and it was, again, on Resisting Discouragement. The verse for today's devotional was Habakkuk 2:3. It was so moving, I wanted to share some of it here.

In Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT), God says, “These things I plan [for your life] 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.”

We can fight discouragement. Here's a tip to help: When you get discouraged, focus somewhere else. Say to yourself, I don't have time to be discouraged right now. I'm too busy fulfilling my life mission.”

This doesn't mean you should be a Pollyanna and pretend everything is okay. You can be realistic, but you also need to be optimistic because you are a Christian: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NIV). God says, Lo, I am with you always. (Matthew 28:20 KJV). He will help you and he will strengthen you. Faith starts with optimism.

Some of you have been praying for something specific and you haven't yet gotten the answer Just be patient. The answer you're waiting for will not be overdue a single day. God's timing is always perfect.

So God continues to meet me where I am and use the promises He has given me all during this adoption process to re-affirm to me that things are going to be ok -- that He's taking care of it. He reminds me using verses that are familiar to me and through people who love me that I'm going to be fine and that my daughter is out there and will come to our family in God's timing.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Last Post from Bishkek -- For a While

Our Internet will "cut-off" here at 6:30 p.m. so we have another two and a half hours before we are "incommunicado". I leave this country with a renewed appreciation of the United States. I am amazed at how we can all exist on this planet with such inequity.

I will walk away forever changed for more reasons than I can say. I will no longer see the photos of children in foreign countries and think of them as an "abstract". They now have a face in my mind, a place in my heart. I've looked at the two calendars we bought while here -- photos by Andrew Chen. If you get a chance, check out his website at: He's a local photographer who takes breathtaking photos of the beautiful nature in this country. I wish he were my "tour guide" and could take me all over this country and show me these sights in person. Since I don't anticipate having this happen, I can live vicariously through his photos.

And so we leave, for now. I know there will be other trips here -- but none exactly the same as this first one. I will never have these first experiences that I have had on this trip. I hope the sights of poverty and need never become so "normal" to me that I am not shocked and moved.

I pray each day for the child of ours that we know has not been born yet. Is she the daughter of the pregnant woman we saw out the window when we first arrived, washing clothes in tubs? Is she the daughter of a nomadic woman living in a yurt in the middle of the mountains and valleys of the Naryn valley? Is she the daughter of a city woman living in a Bishkek apartment? Of this, I do not know and may never know. I am saddened by the fact that this mother is going to have to make a choice soon -- I know the pain of choices, the questions, the heartache. I wrestle with reconciling my desires for a daughter with the pain of a mother who will make a heartbreaking choice. This imperfect world we live in is impossible to reconcile from a human standpoint.

I finally downloaded the photos from our last day at the orphanage in Tokmok -- the day we spent before we knew. I thought it would be harder. It was hard to look at them for sure, but I know she is not our daughter. It doesn't make me care for her any less. She is still a tiny baby, a human life, an orphan and those things alone make my heart ache for and love her. I'm glad to know that she will get help and I will continue to pray for a family for her.

My blessings to Suzanne and Ann B who we will likely "pass" in the air as they are both on their way here to meet their daughters.

Our hotel bill (and internet) is paid. For those who plan to stay at the Silk Road, we used the internet A LOT everyday and it came out to be about $14.25 a day. You are "given" 60 MB a day free. I had a lot of photos to upload for work and the boys played a lot of games online so we thought that wasn't too bad. It was high speed and worked about 95% of the time we were here.
The next time I write, I will be back home and so thankful. Would it be inappropriate to kiss the ground?? :-)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Packing to Go Home

We are currently packing up to go home. And while there is peace about our decision, it seems really strange to be packing up souvenirs bought for a daughter that we no longer have. We know there is another daughter out there for us and that these souvenirs will also be of her heritage as well -- they will be used and enjoyed, but the reminders of excitement we had while purchasing them are somehow ... lost or different. There doesn't seem to be a word to describe how I feel -- like there is something missing.

I'll be fine for a while and then I just get an empty feeling in my stomach. I know it is normal to grieve but much like Joshua I want to just "forget about it" and "not talk about it" anymore. Sadly, I know that's not a healthy way to deal with it and that as one song says, "You must go through the valley to stand on the mountain." We expected to be sad today because we would be leaving our daughter for some two months. Now, we are sad because, as it turns out, she wasn't our daughter.

Today we are going over for our last "Metro" fix, a trip to the Beta (for yet a few more souvenirs for some people back home), and Josh wants to go by the HUGE soccer stadium and take a picture to show his friend Braiden.

We are all at a loss about what to do with both his and Kevin's blog. What do we do about all the pictures on our private blog? What do we do with the pictures we have of this little girl? What do we call her now that she's not Ellie? Hmmm... lots of questions to sort through and find peace with. I suppose, in time, we'll be able to make those decisions.

We were happy to find out that our agency told us they are sending her information off to specialists to determine exactly what issues she is dealing with and what treatment options she needs. We feel a peace about that and think that maybe our "mission" was to come, love and help get her the medical intervention she needs. We remind ourselves that we wanted to help missionaries while we were here -- never knowing that we might just be on a mission of our own. How like God to surprise us. :-)

And speaking of surprises, I delivered a package for a family on our Krygyzstan yahoo list to some missionary friends here in Bishkek. She called today to check on us and it was so sweet to be able to share our story with someone here who shares our faith. She was so supportive and has offered, when I return, to block some time out to take me to the mountains. She says it's so nice to sit by the river in the mountains and just talk. I can't wait for that. The friends we have made along this journey have been absolutely amazing.

This might be our last post before going home -- I'm unsure. I find that writing is healing and I know that there are others who might, somehow, benefit from our experience, so I feel a need to share what we can.

We are ready to go home.

So Much Support

We want to thank you so much for the kind words of support. I can't tell you how encouraging you've been and how much you have helped us. There have been several things we've gotten that have struck such a chord for us.

Our friend Renna sent us a piece written by a friend of hers that said, "So may I ask this question of you, “Who is in charge of your life?” While you may just blurt out that God is. Take a step back and evaluate the truth. When you are mad, do you consider God’s Ways? When you are happy, do you thank God? When you are broken and sad, do you praise Him for His presence and strength?" We want everyone to know that God is in charge of our lives and while we were down, we know that ultimately our lives are His and we are willing to go and do what He bids us to do and that sometimes those things will cause us some pain.

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave your nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" Deuteronomy 31:8

Our friend Hilary directed us to a website for Proverbs 31 ministries on Deep Grief. In it, the writer says, "But sometimes a loss cuts into your heart so viciously that it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call “deep grief.” The kind that strains against everything you've ever believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday, could possibly stand up under the weight of enormous sadness today." Yesterday was that kind of day today. However, even in our grief, today has been better. The writer goes on to talk about how to recover and says, "It takes prayer. It takes making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective." We may never understand what this was about, but we are ok with that.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

We received our Purpose Driven Life devotional today and enjoyed sharing it as a family. God uses this devotional to provide comfort to me on a regular basis and I was not surprised to read today's topic was on Resisting Discouragement. Rick Warren writes:

There are many things that work to keep us from completing our life-missions. Over the years, I have debated whether the worst enemy is procrastination or discouragement. If Satan can’t get us to put off our life missions, then he’ll try to get us to quit altogether.

If you’re discouraged, don’t give up without a fight. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and energy.

When an artist starts to create a sculpture, he has to keep chipping away. He does not hit the chisel with the hammer once, and suddenly all the excess stone falls away revealing a beautiful masterpiece. He keeps hitting it and hitting it, chipping away at the stone.

And that’s true of life, too: Nothing really worthwhile ever comes easy in life. You keep hitting it and going after it, and little-by-little your life becomes a masterpiece of God’s grace.

The fact is, great people are really just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. Great people don’t know how to quit.

So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Galatians 6:9

I want our family to be that kind of GREAT -- Great in God. The kind who know that this journey is worthwhile and that God is creating a masterpiece and is chiseling at it day by day. NOTHING WORTHWHILE EVER COMES EASY. She will be so worthwhile (because she surely has not been easy to come by).

Our agency and in-country staff have assured us they are looking for us a referral. We do not anticipate receiving that referral before we leave the country. That's ok too. We think we'll either get a referral this week or not until the second week of July when the in-country staff return from their trips out of country. Either way, it's fine -- it's more waiting, but we've become an excellent family of "waiters".

In the meantime, our hearts stay with a little baby in this country that our hearts will always love. We hope that our input (and we will continue that on her behalf once we return stateside) can help her get the care she needs and that a family who walks into her life more prepared than we were to handle her condition might find it in their hearts to be her forever family. We will pray for her and ask you to remember her in your prayers as well.

Thank you to those who have sent email, left comments, listened to us sob on the phone (well, you know, via Skype), prayed with us, lifted us up in prayer and for our friends Elizabeth and Bill here in country who have offered to do anything we needed during this time. Thank you to our parents who have cried with us and worried about us, our pastor who has prayed with us from across the world, for our Sunday school teachers who offer such words of comfort that make us feel so loved, for "The Girls" who have formed a network of support for me that I have felt thousands of miles from them. I know, without any words, of their love and prayers. Iris literally just let me cry which is what I needed. I hope that none of you are ever in such a place, but if you are, we hope that we can be as supportive to you as you have been to us. I suspect all of this will make the day we bring our daughter home even more precious and special to all of us.

This experience has reminded us of the blessing of having friends. It reminds me of the verses in Ecclessiastes 4:9-10 that says:
Two are better than one
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

Blessings to each of you. Thank you for helping us up.
Kevin, Maria and Josh