Wednesday, August 16, 2017
I was sitting on a swivel chair at the local bowling alley with Hannah and 3 of her friends chaperoning the big, end of year fifth grade field trip. I had gotten my phone out to take a picture of the girls (that came out horrible due to the bad bowling alley lighting) when I noticed a new email from our adoption agency. I considered not looking at it right away in the name of being fully engaged in life, but the girls were busy ignoring me, so I clicked on the email titled "Special Treasure." Our agency was, as they have frequently, advocating for a child that needed a family but was difficult to place due to her health history. I read her bio as Brittany Spears played in the background and then I scrolled down to come eye to eye with the largest brown eyes I have ever seen on a 2 year old. My first thought was, "she is absolutely adorable!" And then my stomach twisted into knots. I quickly turned off my phone and put it away.
A couple of hours later, I met Shad at our house so we could head to the school together for Bethany's kindergarten graduation. (Yes! I said KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION! How is she a first grader???) As we pulled out of our neighborhood I asked him if he saw the email from our agency. Our conversation went like this:
Me: "Did you see that email from our agency?"
Me: "Did you just want to stick her in your pocket and bring her home with you?" (This is a term of endearment that I learned back in my nursing days.)
It got very quiet in the car.
Shad: "What do we do about that?"
Me: "Well, I guess we need to call our case worker to get more information."
Five minutes later I was standing outside the school gym leaving a voicemail for our caseworker.
The seven weeks since that phone call have been a whirlwind. I have counted over 70 emails between our caseworker and me. There have been conference calls with a doctor that specializes in internationally adopted kids and their special needs. We've filled out pages and pages of paper work, including an application that was sent to Bulgaria asking them to match this little girl with our family. 2 weeks later they said YES! After 3 years and 2 months of waiting for them to match us with a child that is 0-2 years old and a boy or girl, we ended up finding our girl in an email.
We are so, SO excited that we are very close to traveling to Bulgaria to meet our little girl. And we are also nervous. I want to be real about this. It's not going to be easy. First of all, just the transition of bringing this little girl out of her world and into ours will be trying and challenging for us and devastating for her. What will be a happy and exciting day for us will be a confusing and scary day for her! I pray for her fragile little heart frequently and I would love to ask you to join me in that prayer. Secondly, she has a pretty complex medical diagnosis. What we have been learning about our little girl is that she is going to need specialists and a lot of testing before we know exactly what she is going to need medically speaking. We already have her lined up with a specialist at the local children's hospital. (I am not trying to sound mysterious by not just flat out saying what her medical needs are. We just aren't quite ready to make a big announcement about it yet. Just trust me when I say, we are praying that we can get her here as soon as possible so that we can get her whatever tests and treatment she needs.)
Where do we go from here? We are waiting for US Immigration to process some paperwork and get our fingerprints done. Once we have their approval, we will start planning to travel on our first trip to Bulgaria. It is a two trip process. On the first trip, Shad and I will travel to the city where she lives and spend 4 or 5 days with her, getting to know her and her getting to know us. Before we head home, we will submit some adoption paperwork in Bulgaria. And then, we leave her and come home to wait (which will feel like an eternity!). Paperwork in Bulgaria and the US will be processed and eventually a judge in Bulgaria will sign off on the adoption making her legally our daughter! Then we will be invited to travel back to Bulgaria to get our girl and bring her home. We predict we will be traveling on our first trip next month or October at the latest. And we should be bringing our girl home around the new year. After so much waiting, it is still a bit surreal that this is actually happening!
I would like to say that the big kids are all very excited about their new little sister. We do not underestimate the changes that are ahead for them and we talk to them about it frequently. Josh was a little disappointed that he was going to have "another little sister." When I showed him one of her videos where she is interacting with her caregiver, I watched his face slowly melt into a smile and then he said, "OK. She is adorable!"
I wish I could show you her picture here on the blog, but I can't. Not until she is legally our daughter. If you would like to see her big brown eyes, meet me for coffee and I'll be happy to whip out the picture on my phone that Bethany hugs, kissed and says, "Oh my little sissy" to all the time. We would love your prayers and support as we continue to move forward with her adoption. I would ask specifically that you pray for God to prepare her little heart for the HUGE life change that is coming her way, for her caregiver's heart as she has cared for our girl her whole 2 years of life, for Shad, the kids and I as we prepare to care for and love this little girl and for her health to hold steady as she remains in Bulgaria. We cannot wait for everyone to meet our new family member!
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:4-6
When did I forget that you’ll always be the King of the world?
How could I make you so small, when you’re the One that holds it all?
When did I forget that you’ll always be the King of the world?*
Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel. Isaiah 46:3-4, 12-13
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles .
For who can stop the Lord Almighty?
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain. For the sins of the world, His blood breaks the chains.
For who can stop the Lord Almighty?**
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain. For the sins of the world, HIS BLOOD BREAKS THE CHAINS!
And every knee will bow before Him.
Want to know more? Leave me a comment.
*Lyrics by Natalie Grant, King of the World
**Lyric by Big Daddy Weave, Lion and the Lamb
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
This is the day we said “I do”
Twenty years ago, is it really true?
Standing in front of God and Man
Declaring our vows
Hand in hand
As she sang to words “God Bless Our Love”
We lit a candle to symbolize we are one
You kissed me fervently
Then up the aisle we went
We cried as we hugged our family and friends
Hoping the joy of the day
Would never end
They blew bubbles as we departed
For the life that we were eager to get started
So much time has passed since our wedding day
Growing up with you keeps getting better and better
Wouldn’t you say?
Happy anniversary, Shad
You are the man of my life
I’m so thankful that I get to be your wife!
Friday, March 25, 2016
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Yesterday I had my last follow-up appointment with my Radiation/Oncology doctor that treated my Skin Lymphoma 4 years ago this month. I have been on yearly check ups for the last few years with him. I didn't know it was going to be my last appointment, but I definitely walked out of that place fighting back tears. Every time I see an appointment with him pop up on my calendar, I go back to that time and feel all the yucky feelings I was experiencing when I was going through radiation treatment. I get nervous and anxious and start to think about that spot on my left cheek (butt, that is). After not looking at it or thinking about for the last year, I get out my hand mirror, twist into the light and give it a good hard look. I see red, dry spots that aren't there and wonder if it's coming back. I stress over it for a few days, get mad at myself for obsessing over it and then I look at it again. And all the while, I know the truth. I know that there are no red, dry spots. I know that the area looks EXACTLY the same as it has for the last 3 1/2 years. I know that there are no cancer cells there because it was biopsied 1 1/2 years ago to be sure. Yet, every time I see that appointment on my calendar, that is where my mind wants to go. So when the doctor said, "I don't think I need to see you anymore," I felt so much relief and gratitude.
I told the nurse at the clinic, when I was leaving, "I am so glad you all are here, but I really hope I never have to see you again." She laughed and agreed. I am sure she hears that all the time. I know patients used to say that to me back in my nursing days. I never took offense. I was so happy to see patients get better and go home. Sitting in my car, stared at this sign:
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Because Shad and I enjoy dumb funny movies and because of the family that I grew up in, movie quotes have become a regular part of our normal, every day conversation. They mostly come from my mouth, but Shad and the kids have some of their favorites too. Who knew that our affinity for movie quotes would cause one to become our family motto for the year? I am almost ashamed to say that one of our favorite, and most frequently quoted movie lines is from the movie Dodgeball. Yes, it's sad. Even our kids go around saying this line. **Please note: they have never seen the movie, they just hear their parents say it and they know we think it's funny, so they think it's funny.** So, what is our family motto for 2016?
We're grabbing the bull by the horns in 2016!
Cambridge Dictionary defines "taking the bull by the horns" as: to do something difficult in a brave and determined way. We have discussed this metaphor with the kids and we have all agreed that is what we are going to do this year. We are going to be brave and determined in all that we do and we are all going to try new things this year. For our family, trying new things is a big deal. We are all somewhat reserved when it comes to putting ourselves out there or doing things we aren't necessarily comfortable doing. I know for some folks that's not such a big deal, but for us it is. Here we are only 13 days into the new year and we have all already started "grabbing the bull by the horns."
Today Josh became the only tuba player in the fifth grade band. He has blown us away with his enthusiasm for band. Since school started in the fall, he has been playing the baritone horn. His band teacher told him he is doing so well on the baritone that he wants him to try the tuba. Josh stepped up to the plate and gave it a go. It is safe to say that Josh is the most hesitant to try new things in this family. He has always been cautious about new things and it is exciting to see him take this head on.
Hannah is getting ready to start rehearsals for the Easter Bow the Knee production that is put on in our community each year. She did this last year and blew us away! She initiated the whole thing. She walked into a church where she knew no one and interviewed to be in the kids choir. She got up early each Saturday morning and gave up her Sunday afternoons and her Wednesday evenings for rehearsals. She did 4 performances on stage in front of 1500-2600 people each evening. This year she has decided to step it up a notch and try out for a solo! I feel so nervous for her, but I will never tell her that! She has been practicing and will be ready for her audition next month.
Speaking of Bow the Knee: I am taking the bull by the horns by joining the choir also. I feel inadequate and a little stupid, but I am doing it! I went to the informational meeting on Sunday with the intention of getting information. I walked away with an envelope full of music and a listening CD. I even ignored my desire to run and run fast! when they said that after the meeting, the choir would stay for an hour and rehearse! I stayed. I rehearsed. I sat in a room full of good singers and I sang with them. I do not think I am a good singer, but I can carry an OK tune. I was so intimidated. Only like 25 more rehearsals and 5 performances to go...
I have also been learning how to step up my game at home. It is very easy for me to sit back and let Shad do all the big stuff and ultimately make most of the big decisions. He is such a decisive person that I have learned to let him do it. We have discussed this many times over the last 6 months. He informed me that he is overwhelmed and needs my help. He wants me to make more decisions for our family. So, I am learning how to do it. I have been taking better charge of our household and the details of it. I have stopped waiting for Shad's input on every decision that has to be made, put on my big girl panties and started making decisions on my own. I have also been voicing my opinion more on the decisions that we need to make together. One task I have taken on is planning our Maui vacation.
Because I am stepping it up at home, Shad is learning how to back down. He has always been confident and good at making decisions. He is learning how to wait and let me take charge of things he would normally just step up and do. This is a big shift for our family. Shad is so supportive of me and I really appreciate him. He has my back and helps me along the way. He is also learning how to day trade stocks. He takes it on as a challenge and challenging it has been. Because he does not back down from a challenge, I am confident he will get it figured out.
For Bethany, confidence and grabbing the bull by the horns is not a problem. We call her our little spitfire for a reason. She is full of it. Fire, I mean. She will continue with her gymnastics that she totally rocks! She has already been asked to join the pre-team girls which would put her at the gym for 6 hours a week! We are not quite ready for that level of commitment for our almost 5 year old. But we will continue to encourage her to thrive at her one hour per week gymnastics class and enjoy watching her do it. She is also doing great at preschool. She is learning her letters and their sounds and can spell her name on her own. And I know she will not stop cracking us up along the way.
For our family, to "do something difficult in brave and determined way" is a big change. It is not something we can say we are going to do and then do it. For most of us, it would be easy to say we are going to do it and then just let it go by the wayside. The best way we can stick with this motto for 2016 is to rely on God to help us stay determined. We pray together as a family and ask Him to give us the courage to do these new things. We also feel like these changes are from Him so we know He will help us accomplish our goals. I know that He is the only way I will be able to show up for each rehearsal and sing...with other people being able to hear me sing. And I have no doubt that we are being prepped for the HUGE step we will be taking when we get on a plane and fly to Bulgaria to bring our little one home someday.