Monday, December 9, 2013


We are so happy to report that our long-awaited matching approval occurred just about a month ago.  As of 11/12/2013, JKL is OURS to adopt!

The estimate we were given is that travel usually takes place 5-7 months after matching approval, which puts us at mid-April to mid-June.  So much waiting.  We are praying that it is on the early side!

We have been busy busy busy with paperwork!
There has been more government paperwork to file with USCIS, and we have been working on grant applications.

If you would like to help us bring our son home, my Lilla Rose business has helped us raise funds to this point.  They make the greatest hair jewelry:  flexi-clips, hairbands, bobby pins, hair sticks, flexi-ohs, and you-pins.  The clips can also be worn as scarf pins! Everything I make goes to help fund our adoption.  Click on the graphic below to do some Christmas shopping!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lilla Rose Sale!

One of the ways we've saved for our adoption is through my direct-sales work as an independent consultant for Lilla Rose, Inc.

Right now, everything at Lilla Rose is on sale through Sunday!  Everything is 10% off, and some select items are 15% off.  Additionally, if you are new to Lilla Rose and order at least three items, I will get you a fourth item of your choice (up to $16 value) for free!

You can shop at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PAP (Prospective Adoptive Parent) Waiting Questionnaire

Becca over at Milk & Honey Living has been posting this ‘Waiting Questionnaire for the Adoptive Mother’.  I thought it was great, and I’d like to do this here once a month or so!

How long have you been waiting? Our home study was completed on March 28th, we identified and committed to a specific waiting child on April 23rd, shipped our dossier to Hong Kong on May 31st.  And we’ve been married almost seven years and hoping for children the whole time.  I guess we’ve been waiting anywhere between four and a half months and 6 years 10 months, depending on how you look at it.

How do you feel this week? Honestly, I have been really antsy and getting frustrated.  We were told that the official matching approval would come within two to four months after the dossier was sent, and that Hong Kong's process was consistently within that time frame.  It has now been four and a half months.

What’s been on your mind? I’m thinking on where to get training on g-tube feedings and supplemental oxygen for our little guy, since he requires those for the time being.  Once the match occurs, we’ll contact our county public health department and go from there.  I also wonder if our little one is a morning person or a night owl, and how our dog will adjust to a child in the home.

What are your prayers for this baby? I have been praying daily that he is safe, his needs are being met, and that we will be matched and travel SOON.

What are you doing to prepare? I’ve been de-cluttering the house to prepare for the influx of baby/toddler gear!  I’ve started a pile of things for our future son (baskets and blankets) in the guest bedroom, which we’ll covert to our child’s bedroom.

How are you taking care of yourself this week? I’m trying to get back into working out five days per week.  I did Rip’t Circuit yesterday and Speed 2.0 today.

Nervous about anything? Yes, I’m nervous about why this match is taking so long.

Dreaming about/Looking forward to this week:  I am praying that this match is coming any day now!

New Baby Items:  I haven’t bought anything lately.  Over the summer I got an ERGO carrier and a Seven sling, plus an adorable and hilarious t-shirt that I just couldn’t pass up!  I was also nice and got him a Colts hat, on behalf of my hubby the Colts fans.  Now I need to look for a Packer something for our little dude.

What is your number one recommendation for those in waiting? Pray and read Scripture. Find things to do and keep busy! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

One Year Ago....

It's about to be October and the early days of autumn.  The weather is what I consider ideal - breezy, sunny, with highs in the high 70s and low 80s and very low humidity.  Fall is a time to remember.  I often ponder the "Seasons of Life" when the seasons change.

Right now, I'm remembering this time last year.  It was excruciatingly, painfully emotional.  Within a week, a friend of ours died, I got terrible news about my extended family that resulted in my uncle going to jail, I got correspondence from the final agency in our state that placed adoptions from South Korea and learned we would not be able to adopt from them.  My heart broke, and I ran to our bedroom to cry and kick and scream.  I thought that was the end of any possibility to adopt.  Did I mention that my husband was gone at a conference and that I got strep throat at the end of the week?  Honestly, it was the worst week of my life.

Then, a friend of mine  posted a portion of Matthew 16:24 as his Facebook status: "If anyone would come after Me, let Him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."  And, well, that ceased any thoughts of anger or hatred towards God.  I was hurt and struggling and felt so spiritually weak, but I knew we were doing the right thing.

How far we have come in a year - from deciding to give domestic adoption a try a few weeks after that terrible week, to returning to international adoption through a completely different plan, to finally deciding on Hong Kong despite our agency's hesitation, to committing to a special needs child, to now - waiting for matching approval that looks like it will come any day now (we got word last week that it is being written, along with some updates on the child we have committed to).

That being said, my message today is:  Don't give up.  Don't think a pursuit or a dream is ended when all doors seem to be shut.  Never doubt that our God is greater and more powerful than all things of this world, and He can use the most desperate and dark of situations to let His glory shine though our lives.

Psalm 71:20 has long been my favorite Scripture:  "Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up."


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Frugality: Living on One Income

Recently, I came across this article.  It says that having a parent (but this could apply to one spouse if a couple is childless) stay at home while one works will either work really well or it will fail.  He then goes on to say that the stay-at-home parent/spouse must be doing money-saving activities during their time at home in order to make it on one income.  I would say that these activities are simply part of a frugal, financially responsible lifestyle, but maybe that’s just me.

At any rate, we have lived on one income for the majority of our marriage.  For the first three and a half years, I worked while my husband attended (tuition-free) Seminary and studied for hours after class.  After that we moved for his vicarage.  During that time, our rent and utilities were covered by the church, and our health insurance premiums were covered by the Seminary.  I worked part-time at the church preschool.  After tithing and taxes, all of my salary went into our adoption fund. Now, he is a pastor and I work part-time (I worked full-time as school was in session for the past two years).  We have continued to live on his salary while saving all of mine.

With this method, we have saved over $25,000 over the past three years.  Our adoption costs are estimated to add up to about that much, so now we are saving all my salary towards our next car (mine will need to be replaced in the next few years).

Here are “money-saving tips”, or simple frugal practices, that have worked for us over the years:
-Budgeting.  My DH is SO GOOD at this.  He sets a budget and we both stick to it.
-Home haircuts for DH.
-Home haircuts for me, or very minimal salon cuts (by minimal I mean like twice a year trims).  No extras like highlights (I did get them once as a birthday present) on a regular basis.
-Making homemade laundry soap and other homemade cleaning products.
-I make my own deodorant now. 
-I use shampoo/conditioner every second or third day, and alternate with baking soda/vinegar or a homemade dry shampoo mix.
-Asking for new clothes or gift cards to buy new clothes for birthdays and Christmas.
-Minimal vacations, except to see family.
-Not getting alcohol on a regular basis, whether from the store or when out to eat.
-Minimal eating out.
-Making meal plans and grocery lists.
-Buying simple food – we eat lots of chicken and eggs.  I have never bought steak or anything luxurious like that.  I guess it helps that we’re allergic to shellfish.
-Baking things from scratch.
-We generally use our credit card for everything.  This is an easy way for my husband to track our spending and making sure we are staying within our monthly budget.  Plus, we get rewards points, which are a nice bonus!  I know there are mixed opinions out there on credit cards and stewardship, but it works for us because we have literally never had a balance or late payments.  We have always been able to stay on budget using plastic.
-Buying used vehicles (I admit, our parents helped out a bit here) that we could pay cash for.
-Utilizing cheap entertainment – we like watching a movie, going for walks or hikes, and reading books.
-Avoiding a gym membership by getting workout DVDs that can be used over and over again.
-I’ve sewed or crafted lots of Christmas and birthday presents.
-Only going to the doctor if we are seriously ill, i.e. a sliced hand, strep throat, or when DH had a nasty -flu and ended up rather dehydrated and needing IV fluids.

What We Haven’t Done
(Disclaimer:  I include these methods, not to knock them or those who use them, but to help demonstrate that what works for one family doesn't work for everyone.)
-Coupons.  For quite awhile we couldn’t even afford a Sunday paper subscription to cut coupons.  When I was able to get ahold of one, it seemed like I would just buy stuff that was a good deal, and not because we needed it.  I ended up wasting money on things that weren’t good for us, that we didn’t use or didn’t need.  Our grocery bills were lower when we didn’t coupon.
-“Get paid to shop” apps.  I have a couple friends that do eBates or iBotta, etc, but I just haven’t.  Again, it feels like I would spend money to get money back, which isn’t good stewardship. 
-Cut certain extras.  We do have internet (which I consider a necessity as we live six hours away from our closest family and don’t have friends in this area) and cable.  I would love to try dropping the cable, but DH refuses.  As long as we can afford it....
-Government assistance.  We may have qualified at some point, but we sure don’t now.  We would have to be pretty desperate to go down this road.

What frugal tips do you have for saving money?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Whole30 – Long-Overdue Update!

So much for updating along the way with our Whole30 challenge!  We finished several weeks ago, went back to eating forbidden foods (on a very limited basis) for a little over a week, and now are back on Whole30 with a few exceptions.

My goals, and reflections are listed below:

1.  Cut out the cravings for sugar and grease.
This was the biggest change that I noticed.  I still long for fat and sweets; however, when I did indulge afterward they tasted completely different.  Coca-Cola was disgustingly metallic, my oatmeal peanut butter snack bars were overly rich, and a brownie in a mug was grossly sweet.

2.  Cleanse!
Yeah.  Eat ground flax meal on a regular basis and you will be cleansed.  We added a tablespoon of flax to our smoothies, and I rolled chicken or tilapia in flax, then cooked the meat in coconut or olive oil.  Delicious and very high in fiber!

3. To identify any other dietary headache triggers that one or both of us may have. (I have already identified MSG, aspartame, and excessive food coloring such as in Skittles as my migraine triggers)
I didn’t find any other triggers, and still got headaches.  This revelation was frustrating, but at the same time, it’s good to know that I can’t do any more, diet-wise, to reduce my migraines.  I hypothesize that the remainder of my headaches are due to things like weather (barometric pressure/humidity) and hormone cycles.  Unfortunately, these cannot be controlled.

4.  Segway into a healthier way of eating.  We pretty much eat a standard American diet, save for avoiding the items I listed above in number three.  I think we each manage about one vegetable and one-two fruits per day, and I want to do better than that.

Done.  My cart at the grocery store is now loaded with fresh produce, meat, frozen fruit, and eggs.  I use almond milk instead of cow’s milk for cooking.  I will eat cheese once or twice per week, but it’s a small amount, and way less than pre-challenge.  We don’t buy soda, flour, or sugar anymore.

5. Get better sleep.  I've testimonials of other people that have conquered this challenge and said they slept much better on this diet.  Since I still struggle with insomnia now and then, that'd be nice.
I saw no change in my sleep.  Disappointing, but again, I guess it’s good to know that I can’t do anything else with my diet to fix my insomnia.

One unexpected quality that I gained from this challenge is confidence in the kitchen.  I’ve been less afraid to experiment in the kitchen, and have had to force myself to learn how to work with unfamiliar ingredients such as flax seed, coconut flour, etc.

Our workout challenge (Focus T25) is going great!  I feel so strong and am really seeing better muscle tone.  We are on week seven of ten.  I’m both looking forward to the end and worrying about how to continue this level of fitness.

Between the two challenges, I lost eight and a half pounds during the first week and about two more in following weeks.  I gained a few during our week off and am still working on getting back to that initial number I lost, plus lose more!

Adoption Update: Waiting to be Matched

I feel like I need to apologize for the lack of updating.  At the same time, apologizing seems silly because there really hasn’t been much to update anyone one. 

We did receive “supplemental questions for matching approval” from the Hong Kong government’s adoption unit on August 2nd.  They wanted more information, such as photos of the inside of our home; a picture of our dog, how big she is, and how she handles children; more information about our community, etc.  I think we received it on a Friday, I tackled it over the weekend and our Hong Kong worker had it by Monday morning.  The good news is, our paperwork is being processed, and hopefully we have an answer soon.

Obviously, it is hard to wait.  I don’t feel nervous 24/7, but my heart does a little jump every time the phone rings, and every time I check e-mail I’m hoping for a message from our agency’s Hong Kong worker.  Matching could happen any day now….

While we wait, I am praying.  I pray that ‘our’ little one will be matched with us SOON, that he is safe, and that his needs are being met. 

In other news…I’m back to work. Thankfully, my request to be part-time this year was honored!  I go in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I love that I have plenty of time to prepare healthy food, clean, work out, bond with our little beagle, etc.  The time has even been found to play piano and read for fun. I need to turn off the TV more often and make time for those hobbies.  My husband is just keeping busy with two churches.  His busy season (school year) is about to start, so we are trying to lay low and conserve our energy.

In closing, I have been reflecting on Ecclesiastes 3:11 lately - "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hows and Whys of Whole30

I briefly mentioned in my last post that my husband and I are embarking on a Whole30 Challenge starting today.  I feel like I have already learned quite a bit and identified what the greatest challenges will be for us on this journey.  But first, let me explain what it is and why we're doing this.

Whole30 seems to be a combination of the whole foods and paleo diets.  Sugars, grains, gluten, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, dairy, additives, and probably a few other things that I'm forgetting ;)  are not allowed.  I first read about it on another blog, desired to try it, but didn't think my husband would be up for it.  I know from past experience that it just does not work for us to be eating two completely different ways.  It's too hard for me to watch him eat something I can't have, takes too much time to cook two different meals, and it's usually double the dishes (and we do not have a dishwasher).

However, we had previously agreed to do the Focus T25 exercise challenge by Beachbody to try and lose our vacation weight and tone up.  DH mentioned that he would like to try some kind of healthy, cleansing diet during the workout challenge, I showed him the Whole30 page, and here we are!

Our goals for this dietary challenge are not just weight loss - besides, it probably wouldn't be accurate as we're doing the exercise challenge at the same time.  We are hoping to:

1.  Cut out the cravings for sugar and grease.

2.  Cleanse!

3. To identify any other dietary headache triggers that one or both of us may have. (I have already identified MSG, aspartame, and excessive food coloring such as in Skittles as my migraine triggers)

4.  Segway into a healthier way of eating.  We pretty much eat a standard American diet, save for avoiding the items I listed above in number three.  I think we each manage about one vegetable and one-two fruits per day, and I want to do better than that.

5. Get better sleep.  I've testimonials of other people that have conquered this challenge and said they slept much better on this diet.  Since I still struggle with insomnia now and then, that'd be nice.

I think the hardest thing for me to give up is cheese (I'm from Wisconsin, what can I say?) :)  For my hubby, it's soda.  I also got a sudden, strong craving for hot, fresh homemade bread smothered with butter in the middle of church today... :)

Reflections from Day One - I feel good, actually.  I've eaten about 1200 calories worth of fruit, veggies, eggs, and meat.  The challenges of this are going to be that it's expensive, the planning and prep required for every meal and snack, and there are more dishes to do.

I hope to post updates along the way, and share the end results!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Yummy Recipes

Today's post will be a light-hearted, fun deviation from the norm around here :)

Thursdays are my 'cleaning day', so I tackled that this morning.  This afternoon, I decided to try a new pie recipe for dessert.  I had originally planned to make this on Sunday, but we're starting a Whole30 challenge on Monday, and I didn't want to have to throw away any leftovers.  I had my favorite dinner planned for tonight, and figured this would be an excellent follow-up.

First, the meal.  Chicken enchiladas.  I'm not a fan of the typical red enchilada sauce, but these don't call for any.  I stumbled across this in one of my church cookbooks awhile ago, and it's been a favorite ever since!

Chicken Enchiladas
3/4 cup shredded cooked chicken
2 T (or more) green chiles
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C milk
4 flour tortillas (I make mine from scratch)
Optional:  sour cream
Combine chicken, chiles, and cream cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Put 1/3 C of mixture on each tortilla and wrap up.  Place in greased 9x9 glass dish, seam side down.  Pour milk over tortillas and cover with cheese.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Top with sour cream before serving, if desired.  Note:  This can easily be doubled and made in a 9x13 glass dish.  Today, I actually threw these in the Crock-pot on high for one hour, then on low for an additional hour.  It was just too hot to turn the oven on, and it worked great!

For dessert I made cream pie and tossed some partially thawed frozen berries on top right before serving.  I've never worked with gelatin before, and it's been years since I had to whip cream.  I was a bit nervous about this turning out, but it tasted great!  DH went back for seconds, so I'm assuming he really liked it as well :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our Milestone Blessing

I continued to be so humbled and amazed by how God is aligning all the steps for us to adopt.  After so many dark, lonely, and painful years, we see the light!

            If you’ve been following on our journey (I doubt many have, as I struggle to update this blog often!)  you know that we’ve been saving for several years to begin this journey.  We started work on a homestudy in November 2012, had an approved homestudy by March 2013, identified ‘our’ waiting child in April, and our dossier was shipped to Hong Kong on May 31st.  Currently, we are waiting to be officially matched with this child, and then take the steps to secure a travel date (!).

            In early June, we met a savings goal for this adoption - $25,000 total saved, which should more or less cover all adoption expenses (including fees we have already paid).

            I am still astounded as to how that happened…but I’ll do my best to explain how we accomplished that.

            We didn’t fundraise, ask people for money, or apply for grants.  Not that we think there is anything wrong with that, but our area and situation wasn’t conducive to fundraising, we weren’t comfortable asking people for money, and by the time we were able to look at grants it was clear that we didn’t need them.

            We did: Live on one income (my husband’s) while saving mine (minus tithe and taxes) for three years.  The first year, I was working around 20-25 hours per week; the next two years it was a full 40 with the exception of summer and vacations. We saved part or all of any money we were given as gifts.  I signed up to be a consultant for Lilla Rose, started playing organ for church on occasion, and put those earnings into our adoption fund. 

            It doesn’t sound like much, and I amazed by God’s blessing and provision to make everything fall in place.  To Him be the glory, honor, and praise, both now and forevermore!

I am linking up with:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

I'm sure I've mentioned previously that my husband is a pastor.  Today, as he was greeting our congregation leaving the sanctuary  one sweet little boy wished him, "Happy Father's Day."

My heart flipped over just a little, and I smiled.

Happy Father's Day to fathers, father-to-be, and those who long to be a father.

I continue to pray daily for the little one overseas that we have requested to make our child.  I pray that he is safe, that his needs are being met, and that we may be matched and united with him soon.

To our heavenly Father, God, be the glory, great things He has done!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Catching Up and Random Thoughts

First things first: Adoption update.  Last I posted, I was joyfully reporting that DH and I had identified a child that would like to proceed with adopting.  Since then, we have received a request from the overseas partner agency to explain why we wanted to adopt this child (and fulfilled their request), gotten our biometrics fingerprints done, received our USCIS approval ONE WEEK after getting the fingerprints done, scrambled to assemble the dossier and line up a final reference letter, and sent our dossier to our agency.  Our dossier was shipped to Hong Kong on May 31st!

It is just short of a miracle that our USCIS approval came as quickly as it did.  The timeframe we were given was five to eight weeks between fingerprints and approval.  I never dared dream the government would be so efficient!  I am still is joyful shock about that.  Praise God!

Now, we wait.  We need to be approved by the Hong Kong government to adopt a child, and to be approved by the overseas agency to adopt this specific child.  At that point we will be officially matched with this child.  We've been told that will take two to four months from the dossier submission.  Then we will wait for a court order and travel dates, which will likely take place either late winter or early spring.  I am praying that we will travel in early March at the latest.  "Our" child turns two around that time and I would love for him to celebrate his birthday with his mom and dad :), plus we will save ourselves the fees and hassle of updating our homestudy.

Finally, my random thought: You know you're a pre-adoptive parent if the first thing you grab to take to the basement during a tornado warning is the expandable file with copies of your homestudy and dossier.  ;)

Monday, May 6, 2013

April 23rd

Oh, my.  Oh, Lord – You are too good to us.  Your works are wonderful!  Truly, You know the plans you have for us!


I NEVER expected this to happen so quickly and as easily as it did.  Let me tell the wonderful story….

One week ago today (April 16th),  my car was in the shop for some minor repairs and routine maintenance. My husband was taking that day (a Tuesday) off instead of his usual Monday due to some schedule changes, so he picked me up from work, took me to a doctor appointment for a manipulation on my neck and upper back, then drove us to pick up my car and get some dinner.  On the way to the auto shop, I checked my e-mail on my phone and saw that we had a message in our private online adoption “portal” with the subject title “Waiting Child”.  This intrigued me…What about a waiting child, I wondered?  It was hard to wait to get home and see the actual message. 

When I was able to access it, this is what I read:
“Hi D and K,
We received a new referral through our partner in Hong Kong, and thought of your family. I wondered if you may want to take a look? If so, I am posting [child’s] referral here, [your social worker] is aware of this as well. Let me know your thoughts.”

Then I looked at the child study.  This is a more in-depth summary of a child than you would find in a photolisting, but not a complete medical report.  In this case, I learned this child’s gender, birthdate, medical diagnoses, and birth family background.  We didn’t have a preference on the gender.  I did review the birth family background, but honestly, it doesn’t have any bearing on our decision to consider a particular child or not.  The list of medical diagnoses was tricky – Hong Kong uses lots of British English medical terms that are tricky to ‘translate’, so there were several things we were unsure about, but we weren’t alarmed by any of the medical information.  The birth date was significant – I’ll get to that in a bit.

After taking a couple days to research things to the best of our ability, I called our doctor’s office to make an appointment to discuss this child’s file on Thursday (the 18th). 

We met with our doctor on Monday the 22nd and were encouraged.  Lots of the things we couldn’t figure out were not a big deal, just variations of normal.  He did say that this little guy looks “syndromic’, meaning he has the look and several anomalies that point to a possible genetic disorder.  I felt compelled to move forward. 

My husband kept asking me if I was ‘sure’.  I couldn’t say a certain ‘yes’.  I mean, it seems that in my (overly-realistic?  pessimistic?) mind that I can never give a certain answer.  There is always a shred of doubt that holds me back.  It was there when I chose a college, when I declared a major both times, on my wedding day, with job changes, etc.  And that ever-present little shred of doubt was still there, even though I wanted so badly to leap forward shouting, “Yes!”  We decided it would be wise to sleep on it at least one night before contacting our agency with an answer.

The next morning (Tuesday the 23rd), I awoke at 5 a.m. thanks to our very active sump pump.  I had fallen asleep thinking about this child, and my thought was, “I want to say yes.”
I shared that with my husband when I arrived home from work, and he agreed.  We sent our agency the glorious message, “We would like to proceed!”

Our little one is a boy, just over a year old.  We are awaiting our USCIS approval so we can send in our dossier.  Our estimated time from dossier submission to being formally matched is 2-4 months (he is not "officially" ours until then), and we will travel 7-12 months after that.  Urgh – more waiting!  It is going to be so hard to know he is growing without us.  Ideally, we’d travel in January.  I am going to pray that we travel by early March at the latest, as that would save us the hassle and fee to update our home study.

And his birthdate…I just cannot go without mentioning this vignette that demonstrates how my God does all things well.  I had often heard from adoptive mamas that there was some special ESP about the day their child was born.  I basically considered that to be an exaggeration.  But God! 

The day our child was born, I was despairing.  I had been having a very strange period that week.  It came on time, but was extremely light and remained that way for 4-5 days.  I was going crazy wondering if it was implantation bleeding from a pregnancy.  I both did and didn’t want to be pregnant. I wanted to be a mother in whatever way God saw fit to answer my prayers, but I was also so sure we were going to adopt at that point.  I knew if I was pregnant, I would need to grieve again, this time for the adopted child we wouldn’t have at the time.  I went back and forth all week, debating to test or not to test, wondering what to pray for, struggling between hope and dread for conception and adoption alike.  I got two hours of sleep a night for three days straight and ended up leaving work early on that third day because I felt terrible, but picking up a pregnancy test on my way home.

I tested the next morning.  Negative.  And I wept for both relief and sorrow, pain and peace.  I both thanked God and was angry at him.  My full flow, of course, began later that day (and continued for 8 days afterward)….

…and halfway around the world, our son was born.

Oh Lord.  Who knows what He was trying to do with that lining up of events.  Perhaps it was a final test of my faith in the midst of infertility, or to prepare my heart for the rocky road of international adoption, or simply to strengthen me.  One thing is certain – He worked out for the best and for His glory.

As all great gifts from heaven do.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Clean Sweep!

When I first saw the introduction to the “Clean Sweep” series over on Caroline’s blog, I was intrigued, but not motivated.  I thought that surely I didn’t have the time and evergy while working full-time (and burning out fast as the end of the school year approaches!).

Then I saw her first challenge of creating a morning routine, and thought, ‘I could use that.”  Then I saw her organization of her boys’ bedrooms and thought, “Maybe I could learn how to spring clean from this challenge.”

So, consider me counted in!

Morning Routine
Eat breakfast
Brush teeth
Shower or wash face
Get dressed, makeup (except Saturday)
Walk the dog
Make bed

I tried this for the first time today and I thought it worked well!  Hopefully that can continue!
I would also like to set an evening routine, as that is the time I have a lot to get done and it’s easy to forget things.  Here’s the blueprint I followed last night, and am working on tonight:

Walk dog
Prepare/eat dinner
Dishes and general kitchen clean-up
Make a lunch (Sun – Thurs)
One hour of free time for computer, TV, or ‘fun’ reading
Power90 workout (5 days per week Monday through Saturday)
Snack, take vitamins
Shower & brush/floss teeth
Lay out clothes for tomorrow
Bible reading
Take dog out if my husband hasn’t
Free time until I crash :)

I will strive to post weekly updates here.  I will share a general list of things I’d like to do this month, and get done what I can as well as whatever else I think needs doing.  

My general goal is to get one cleaning/organizing task done per day (except Sundays and the last two Saturdays of this month when we will be otherwise occupied).  This will be in addition to regular daily and weekly cleaning duties.  My spiritual goals will be 1) to read 3-5 chapters of Scripture daily (save for Sundays) and to read a chapter of Church Fellowship by John Brug each week.  This is the book we are working through in Bible Study, and I'd love to keep up in the study.

Yesterday, I went through the refrigerator and threw out old yucky items.  Thankfully, there weren’t many, but I did toss some homemade Italian dressing from awhile back, a green smoothie that got hidden back in…January…(I know, ICK!), and ¾ of a jar of salsa that neither of us liked.

Today, I actually washed out the inside of the fridge and cleaned out the freezer!  I tossed three things that were over a year old (freezer pickles from summer 2011, bread crumbs, and something else that was in a Ziploc bag).

Other things that I would love to get accomplished this month:
Dog poop clean-up in the yard
Wash curtains
Wash bedding
Go through clothes…and actually take them to Goodwill
Put more mulch in the flowerbed
Sweep out and straighten up the garage
De-clutter movie shelf
Re-arrange the living room furniture
Figure out a better system for shoes and coats in the entryway and front closet
De-clutter cabinet in guest bedroom
De-clutter storage boxes under the bed

I think that’s a good start!
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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Draining, Rejoicing, Thanking

The past few weeks have been draining.

It’s Lent, so my husband has two sermons to write and memorize each week instead of one.  I fill in as organist more often to relieve the burden on our one regular church organist.  Our church has received a request to form a dual parish with another church of our fellowship (located 30 miles away), so there’s been a lot of conversation on that. Work has been just exhausting for me.  The kids have been SO wired and loud and crazy.  Finally, of course, there is adoption paperwork.  We thought we were ‘done’ with the home study, only to have our social worker request scans of certain dossier documents before she wrote it.  Understandable, but hard for us to do in this busy season, in which we are struggling to find time to sit down together and get any sort of serious decisions made.

We may be changing our country choice, which would mean switching to another agency for placement after our home study is done and in our hands.  I don’t know what our home study (current) agency will think or do about that, but we have to do what’s right for us.  We never were ‘decided’ on country choice (just ‘declared’), can’t see how any of their country programs are going to work for us, and they have been questioning our declaration since we made it, encouraging us to continue elsewhere.  No decisions have been made – at this point, the goal is to simply get the home study done and go from there.  But it’s something needing to be carefully thought over, something else to consider amidst this very mentally full schedule of ours.

It was a wonderful day for some special friends of ours and the adoption of their baby girl was finalized in court today.  Yesterday was a grand day for the sister of an online acquaintance, as they received word that they will soon be parents of twin 3-year-old boys.  I admit, my first, knee-jerk reaction was to cry out of pure selfishness.  What wasn’t it OUR turn?  WE’ve been waiting for over six years for children; these couples had only been waiting about four years each.  When, Lord, will it be MY time?

Yes, selfish.

My struggle today is to rejoice in their triumphs.  And as both couples praise God for answered prayers, I look to focus on my prayers that have been answered, instead of whining about the big one that hasn’t yet received my desired answer.

I prayed long and hard for a significant other…boyfriend or fiancĂ© or husband…and was blessed with my wonderful man, with whom I went from dating to engaged to married in less than ten months.  Many times, while working long, stressful hours to support my husband through Seminary, I pleaded with God that it would end.  It did.  I asked my Heavenly Father for my husband’s vicarage (internship) to be someplace warm, and his first Call to be somewhere back in the Midwest.  YES on both counts, and oh my, what joyful days those were! 

There has also been an unexpected blessing that I never asked for when we decided, rather suddenly, to get a dog last November.  I cannot even begin to express the joy she has brought us!  She has been such a loving, nurturing, healing balm to my hurting heart over the last several months.  We have asked ourselves several times, “Why did we wait so long to get a dog?” only to realize that, if we hadn’t waited, we wouldn’t have this one.

What a fitting prelude to our future adoption.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Song

(The title of this post is borrowed from the lovely Josh Groban work, "February Song.")

Oh, February.  I think it's always been my least favorite month.  First off, there's the weather.  Gray, cloudy, slushy, muddy, and cold.  It really depresses me, to the point that I bought a therapy lamp last year.  Also, growing up, I hated Valentine's Day because I had no Valentine.  Of course, that changed when I got married.  My husband also happens to have a February birthday, which is something to look forward to.  In 2010-2011 we spent a year in the subtropics and I found I LOVED February.  The weather was absolutely beautiful.  It was quite the contrast to February in the upper Midwest, which we are now back to.  Gloom, gray, and cold.

It's kind of a fitting picture.  While it feels much better to be actually 'in-process' with adoption, it still feels stagnant.  We put so much work and time into the home study, only to move on to the more intensive dossier.  We declared a country (Hong Kong), only to still feel completely undecided about where we are adopting from.  As our social worker and the country representative have continued to constantly remind us, it is a program that only has children with moderate-major, lifelong special needs available.  I think we are both afraid of moving one step forward, only to take two steps back.

The point of my post here was to provide a bit of an update on our adoption status, as well as our mental and emotional states.  I guess I've done that.  You can see that things are moving, but we are as uncertain and fearful as ever.

God is in control, and He knows what He is doing.  His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.  I can rest in that.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Well, it's 2013.

Every time the date changes, it's a struggle for me.  We married in very late 2006 with the intention of not using birth control, thinking that we surely would have a baby or be expecting by our one-year anniversary.

I very clearly remember being on my knees, in tears, at my in-laws' house during Christmas 2007.  I so desperately wanted a child and we had not received that blessing, despite being open to receive it as soon as God would give it.  Meantime, my brother-in-law and his wife were at that Christmas celebration with their baby girl...let's just say it hurt.

It's five years later....Five years in which I thought, SURELY, we would be able to conceive and have a child at some point.  This has not been the case.  Adoptions usually take place in less than five years; unfortunately, we were not able to start that until just this past year due to all the moving around we'd have to do.

Holidays work like that changing date - a glaring reminder that time has passed, and that desire of my heart is still not mine.  I find the period after Christmas to be especially tough.  We've had time with family, trying to save face when people hint about 'why we don't have kids yet', the year changes shortly after Christmas, and then there's the post-holiday withdrawal from the season, from family time, along with the scramble of unpacking/laundry/finding homes for gifts/cleaning/getting back to work.

This year, we're having an extra-difficult time with (STILL) trying to choose a child/country.  To make me feel even worse, that same brother-in-law and his wife had their second child this morning.  It hurts. I realize I'm being sinful and selfish, but I want to share my feelings here.  Their two children are nearly six years apart in age - the same amount of time we've been married - and it's a very obvious reminder of our failure to become parents (either by birth or adoption) in that time.  I saw pictures of the baby being held my his grandparents - my husband's parents - on Facebook, and my heart broke.  They are the joy and center of my mother-in-law's life, and I completely fail to add to her joy.

I realize this isn't a happy post :( Please forgive me.  Please keep us in your prayers, that we may soon have a decision and some direction, and that some day I will be able to read this and think, "It was worth it."