Friday, June 22, 2012

Our Adoption Fund

We officially started our adoption fund in the spring of 2010.  My husband was just about to begin his vicarage (Lutheran term for pastoral internship), and we were going to have two incomes for the very first time in our marriage (Previously I was the breadwinner, working full-time to put him through Seminary).  It was agreed that we would live on his stipend, while most of the money I earned from my part-time job at the church preschool would be put into an adoption fund.  After the 13-month internship, my husband graduated and received an appointment as a pastor.  We moved, I got another job (education aide, full-time while school is in session), and we continued to pour nearly all of my salary (exceptions are tithe, taxes, and extra/unexpected living expenses) into our adoption fund.

After my last paycheck for this school year was deposited in mid-June 2012, we had $16,268.72 in our adoption fund.  BLESSED!

At this point, we are strongly leaning toward an international adoption from South Korea.  From what I have researched, the cost of this program will be between $28,000 and $32,000 (gulp!).  We strongly avoid debt, so taking out loans is not an option for us.  There are grants available, but they generally require at least a completed homestudy; more often, an accepted referral.  We have yet to submit a pre-application, though that may happen later this summer.  Ideally, we would have closer to $20,000 saved before technically beginning.  The waiting period from start to finish is approximately two years, so we feel $20,000 is a very acceptable starting point, considering I make about $10,000 in a school year.

Recently I wrote about how God led me away from an opportunity to earn around $600 this summer.  HE is so good!  The Lord is giving us ways to add to our adoption fund this summer with no “real” income.  Here is how we have been blessed this week:
$40 – payment for being church organist last week
$18.30 - from my very first Lilla Rose commission check!
$50 – We had an iPod that no one had used since my husband upgraded to an iPhone last summer.  I sold it to a friend.  It had a minor defect, so I was hoping to get $25 for it, but she offered $50!

New total: $16,377.02 (!!!)

In the near future I hope to write up a post on other creative ways to ‘find’ money.  I know I have a few other things laying around that house that I could probably sell for a small profit!

Keeping it in Perspective

My husband I have struggled with infertility for the entirety of our five-and-half year marriage.  For the last two years, we have been living on his income and saving all of mine (minus tithe and taxes) for an adoption.

I work as an education aide in our local public school district, which means I get summers off.  I cherish my summer vacation, but it also means no adoption savings over the summer.  We briefly considered me looking of a summer job, but nixed the idea because after taxes and commuting costs there wouldn’t be a whole lot of extra money coming in (we live in a teeny tiny farming town that is a 18-mile drive from any decent-sized city with job prospects) .  We also wanted to be able to follow through with plans that we had already made for the summer (family visits, VBS, etc.) without the inflexibility of an extra work schedule.

Then the gas station in our town was hiring.  It’s literally two blocks from our home, making commute a non-issue,  so I thought maybe this would be God’s way of adding to our adoption fund over the summer.  I applied and got an interview.  During the interview, the manager outlined the duties involved.  The job certainly did not sound like fun.  It consisted of 10-hour shifts every other Saturday and Sunday.  There would be a lot of very busy time on my feet and working by myself involved.

As I waiting to hear back, I prayed that God would offer me the job if this was His will for me, and for me to not get the job if it wasn’t His will.  During the two-day wait, my husband sat down with me and explained that he would really rather I didn’t take the job.  He thought that I needed the summer break, that it would be difficult to work around some plans we already had in place, and he didn’t like the idea of me working there by myself at night.  He didn’t tell me, “no”, but made it clear that he’d rather I didn't take it.

The next day, I was offered the position via voicemail and asked to give a response in 24 hours.

I thought, prayed, talked with my mother-in-law (who is a tremendous source of spiritual wisdom and counsel to me), then finally called to decline the offer.

Here’s my point:  Infertility is tough and painful, adoption is expensive.  God wants us to be parents (I truly believe this), and I should be doing something to earn the money to make that happen.  However, it is important to keep things in perspective.  None of those are worth going against my husband's wishes.  I respected his wishes, submitted, and feel better for it. (And I sure am enjoying my work-free summer!)

I hope to start documenting our progress with our adoption fund shortly, so you can see how God is blessing us, without a summer job, to make it happen!

I am linking to Modest Mondays

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Summer of SAHW-hood

This is my very first summer of stay-at-home wife-hood.
I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  The break is welcome and was much-needed; I’m not going to underestimate that.  However, I’m a person that thrives on a schedule, routine, and structure.  Thus, working as an aide in our local public school district is a great professional fit for me right now (which is ironic, as I’ve never attended public school and wouldn’t send any future children to one).  Now that I have no set time that I need to leave the house in the morning, I’m having a hard time finding a balance between being productive and finding some time to relax. 
The largest, most specific struggle is my sleep schedule.  Ugh.  Oh insomnia, will you torment me forever?  I’m afraid it just might.  It’s taking me longer to fall asleep again, and with no pressing reason to get up at a reasonable hour, it’s extremely difficult to make myself commit to a consistent wake time, which makes it tough to fall asleep at a decent hour…it’s a vicious cycle.  Last night I finally got a somewhat normal night of sleep from about midnight to eight a.m.  I hope I can build on that!  I also ordered a sleep complex and some valerian root from Vitacost the other day, since the melatonin just isn’t cutting it right now and I am tossing my Trazadone (psychiatric meds don’t look good on international adoption applications, even if it’s for an off-label use).
I am also a little sad that summer means three months of no money being added to our adoption fund, but I can make peace with that.  Some day this wait won’t seem like it was anything….right?
Don’t get me wrong, there are abundant advantages to this J  I feel re-charged, mentally.  I have more time to spend in God’s Word and am reading my Bible more often.  I am practicing organ almost every day and am scheduled to play this Sunday.  I hope to play for at least two other services this summer, and continue to accompany once or twice a month during the school year.  Along with that, I’ve been playing piano at home for fun – trying to get some of my old songs back and such.  Piano-playing is a tremendous blessing to my heart and mind! Finally, since my husband (my pastor J) does not have a secretary, I’ve also been able to help him out by folding bulletins, proofreading, that type of thing.  They’re just little things, but it’s a service the church needs nonetheless.
Last month I started a little side job as an independent consultant for Lilla Rose.  As it turns out, the timing was perfect, because I have time to watch the training videos, study the products, and learn how to do scary things (for me) like design business cards (Side Note: Paint and I do NOT get along.  At ALL).  I have a couple people interested in home parties already, and summer is obviously going to be the best time for me to do things like that. 
And our health!  Is it self-centered to say I’m impressed with how much more attention we are able to give to healthy habits when I am home full-time?  My husband has a salad for lunch almost every day now (instead of the crap-tastic frozen dinners!) because I am home to make it for him.  I even got him to eat kale.  KALE!  This is for the guy who refuses to touch broccoli or spinach.  I am able to make fruit and yogurt smoothies for our breakfasts, in place of the store-bought granola bars.  I have always enjoyed making things from scratch, but now I have the time and energy to prepare ALL of our snack bars, bread, and tortillas from scratch.  I’m proud of this!  And of course, I don’t have excuses not to exercise now (except for the migraine I had today L).  There is plenty of time and energy for me to do so, sometimes twice a day.
I have also been able to re-read some adoption books and attend a few free online webinars on adoption topics.  I worried a little that doing so would make me antsy, but it hasn’t.  I think it’s helped stabilize my perspective on it, helping me see what will be possible, what won’t be a good fit for us, and what we need to research more – that type of thing.  We might be scheduling a face-to-face with a local agency in the next month or two, to figure out if we are financially ready to begin now (as opposed to waiting until next spring).  Might.  It is really hard to not get my hopes up on this!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Health...of the Weighty Variety

My husband and I decided over Christmas that we would try to eat better and be more diligent about regular exercise this year.

I am really, really proud of our results thus far.

On January 1st I weighed in at 171.2 lbs.  The ‘healthy’ range for my height (I’m 5’10”) tops off at around 174, so this was alarming to me.  For the first couple months, I simply counted calories and did my best to consume no more than 1500/day.  This helped me lose a few pounds, but nothing to write home about.  I knew I needed to exercise; specifically, I needed to start doing a workout DVD in my living room.  I HATE working out in my living room, but with no money for a gym membership (and no gyms within 15 miles of us) no room or money for a treadmill, and the fact that it was the end of February and we live in the upper Midwest (meaning I couldn’t run or walk outside due to the cold and ice), I gritted my teeth and starting doing the Power90 workouts by Beachbody.  (This is the slightly older and easier version of P90X).

Roughly 12 weeks later, I am amazed.  I feel so firm, toned, and strong, compared to my previous flabby softness.  I can see muscles defined in places I didn’t know muscles existed.  I can do 10 ‘real’ push-ups and another 40 “girl” push-ups in one workout. 

Even with all this new muscle (which weighs more than fat) I weighed in at 160.2 this morning – exactly 11 lbs. lost!  I am hoping to reach 150 by the end of 2012.

Praise the Lord for granting me the disciple and strength to get this far.  In Him I can do ALL THINGS!