Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sneak Attack Emotional Day

Have you ever just had one of those sneak attack emotional days creep up on you? And asked yourself, "Where the heck did that come from?!" This past week, completely unexpected, I was just overcome with a wave of emotions over our adoption process, consumed with thoughts about Isa and his birth mom. I'm not sure if it was the accumulation of finding myself emotionally invested in several friend's adoption process's (one of which I posted below that traveled to ET to meet their son this week) or maybe it was just good ole' PMS (just throwing that out there, because it's a darn good possibility)- but this past Tuesday was a doozy on my heart!

I found myself questioning whether we were crazy for even being on this unpredictable roller coaster of a journey (which I actually do often if I'm being honest here- but it's normally my late night anxiety that will trigger those thoughts- this was a middle of the day legitimate freak out moment). Fears and doubts that this whole adoption process is actually going to pan out consumed me. All the unknowns with the Ethiopia program were exaggerated in my head and I questioned whether or not we were foolish to stay the course. I broke down in tears over the fact that I have NO IDEA if Isa is even born yet and the gut wrenching reality, that if he is, I can't help him at this point. To be completely real, I was tired of praying for a faceless child, that I know nothing about, I just felt stuck. God's timing and mine were not jiving on Tuesday, that's for sure! I cried and had a little chat with God letting Him know I wasn't a fan of waiting and I wasn't super thrilled about all the unknowns of this process either. I love that my God is big enough to hear me whine. My mom always told me growing up, "God's a big God, He can handle your anger/frustration/fears!" (o;

My little "chat" with God was good for me. I think too often my gut reaction is to try to hash through my feelings on my own or call up a friend and talk about it. I wonder how often God is just waiting on me to hash it out with Him first? For pete's sake Hilary, He listens and cares more then anyone else in the world! So after laying out the ugly emotions that were consuming me, I felt a strange sense of peace. I felt God nudging me to remember, to remember how He's so perfectly orchestrated all the details so far. To hang on the truth that He's at work, in the unseen. He's got this. Isa is His child. He loves Isa more then I do. He knows where Isa is this very moment. He knows the perfect time that Isa will join our family. He's at work. Remember His faithfulness.

I say all of this, because I want to be transparent and real. Not to scare off any potential adopting family, that's for sure! But I'll shoot you straight... There are crappy days where the adoption process flat out sucks (sorry if that's a bad word in your house, and no, we don't say it in front of Jude (o:) ! BUT I want to be very clear in saying that... the good days FAR OUTWAY the crazy emotional ones! It's those crazy emotional days, like I had on Tuesday, that draw you back to remembering God's goodness and faithfulness! Remembering God's goodness, leads to praising God for His goodness, and praising Him puts everything back into perspective! Quite honestly, it makes my doubts look flat out silly when I compare them with all the amazing ways God has had His hand on our lives over the past year!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A good day- Airport Drop off

Today was a good day. Today richly blessed me! I was privileged to witness God's handy work coming together for a couple that goes to our church (I won't mention their names, because I haven't had the chance to ask them if that's cool with them or not, and normally I'm the kind of person who doesn't think of that until after the matter, so I'm trying to think ahead and not kick myself in the butt!)

Jude and I pulled into this couple's driveway and as I put the car into park,  I looked back at Jude and said, "Today is a BIG day for our friends bud! Today we're taking them to the airport!" to which I was expecting him to ask, "Where are they going?!"... but to a 4 year old, I guess going to the airport is exciting enough in itself! So he just said, "Yahoo!" as if that was the BIG news! I smiled to myself, realizing I needed to explain more clearly, "Jude, we're taking them to the airport because they're traveling to Ethiopia to meet their son for the very first time!" It was like the word Ethiopia registered with him and he proudly said, "Isa lives there Mama!" (Too bad when he's asked where his brother is going to be from he leaves the "Ethi" part off the word and just shouts, "Opia!" which reminds me of the drug opium! We're working on his pronunciation!).

I unloaded Jude out of the car and as we were walking up to the front door, I felt this excitement welling up inside of me. We knocked and I could see the blurred image of their beautiful little girl (who they adopted from China several years ago) through the decorative glass on the front door. She slowly opened it and shyly looked down at her feet. For just a split second, the vision of her being a big sister, and the excitement of it all, came flooding to the forefront of my mind and almost brought me to tears. I managed to keep my composure and quickly had my thoughts shift as I noticed her mama coming around the corner. I looked up at my friend and smiled, my heart was full of all sorts of fluttering goodness! It was one of those moments where I was truly joyous on her behalf! As a waiting mama myself, longing for my day to head the airport, I related with her on an unspoken level! Again, I could feel my eyes welling up with tears of happiness, but I took a deep breath and kept it together. You could physically feel the excitement in the air as the entry way filled with grandma, grandpa, and daddy too- all smiling ear to ear! We chatted for a bit and then realized it was that time, time to head out! The luggage was packed and sitting by the front door and after a last minute check to make sure they had everything they needed, we loaded up my car. I knew good byes were coming to grandma and grandpa and their precious little girl who was thrilled of course to have her grandparents in town watching her! We all stood in the driveway, loaded up and ready to go, and then the hugs started- which means that the flood of emotions started too! Watching mommy and daddy kiss their little girl goodbye, I could feel the tug of their hearts for their little girl here and their little boy they would soon meet in Ethiopia! I flashed forward to when our day will come where we'll be standing in the driveway saying bye to Jude when we go to meet Isa and I got that ache in my throat, here comes the cry feeling, creep up on me. I blinked my eyes like crazy, looked away, and quickly climbed into the driver seat, desperately trying to not break out into the ugly cry! (I swear, I'm such an empathic crier though- so catching a glimpse of these proud grandparents tear up, did me in for!). Isn't it funny though, that once you become parents, leaving your kids, even if it's just for a week, can tug on your emotions? Throw in the fact that you'll be traveling half way across the world and the distance alone makes everything intensified! You just love them so darn much, it's hard to leave 'em!

We pulled out of the driveway and I was as gitty as could be! I knew they were too! They kept saying, "I just can't believe we're actually doing this! I can't believe we're really headed to the airport! The day is here! Ahhh!!!!" The next 40 minute drive to the airport was filled with anticipation, laughter, and rich conversation. We talked about how God has been woven in every detail of this crazy, long, journey for them (it's been a 3 year process, originally they were signed up with the Nepal program, but when Nepal shut it doors, they had to switch programs to ET). We all agreed that God's timing doesn't always match up with ours- often times it even hurts and leaves us confused... but in the end, He truly knows best! There were times over the past three years that they thought this day would never come, yet God knew all along that May 22nd was going to be a good day for them!

As we pulled into the entrance of airport, I was sure to tell them to soak in the sounds, the smells, and sights of Ethiopia and share them with me when they come back! The idea that they'll be in the same city where Isa, is or will be (if he isn't born yet) is almost surreal to me! I wish I could have somehow snuck into their suitcases (that totally would have put them over their weight limit, dang it!), and tagged along! We pulled into their terminal and as we unloaded their luggage, I'm pretty sure I felt the presence of heaven smiling down on this family, blessing all their diligent work/time/effort/heartache/love! It was a privilege to see them off  and know that God has an amazing week ahead for them! Moments that will forever change their life and the life of their precious little boy! I can't wait to hear the stories when the return! I'm earnestly praying for all this week entails, their safe travel, their meetings with their son through out the week, their meeting his birth mother, their court date on May 27th, the emotions of it all, and that God would be ever present- just as he has been all along!

Today was a good day. Today blessed me in deep ways.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Operation "No More Tears!"

For Jude's 4th birthday this year when asked by his Grams to give any ideas of things that he wanted, I knew his answer would undoubtedly be anything super hero related! So I of course suggested that, because as a good mom there is an unspoken obligation, but then I also suggested the Jesus Storybook Bible, because I had heard a ton of great things about it! Jude is totally into reading before nap and bedtime and he's always been keenly in tune with anything relating to Jesus. There have for real been times that I'm almost a little freaked out by how sensitive he is to spiritual matters. That being said, there have also been times where I clearly was way off. For instants, without fail, for the longest time ever, he would always say with excitement as we were leaving church, "Mom! I saw Jesus at church today!". To which I would smile and take mental note of yet another time my boy was clearly able to see Jesus in a way I wasn't! Until one day as we were walking out into the lobby Jude started tugging on my hand, jumping up and down, and pointing across the sea of people loudly whispering, "There he is mama! There he is!". "There who is?" I said, and with utter confidence Jude yelled, "Jesus!" as he pointed to our worship leader Warren! OH MY GOODNESS, for months my child thought that the cool lookin' hip dude on stage leading worship was Jesus himself! So yeah, there are times I'm way off! Regardless, that being said, I thought this Jesus Storybook Bible would be something that Jude would really enjoy, and so Grams bought it for him for his birthday... along with many super hero related toys as well!

Okay, can I just stop here and say for a minute, seriously... this is the best book EVER! I AM LOVING IT!!! I don't know who is more into it, me or Jude?! I wanted to share what we read last night because it's so well written and I love how it captures the simplicity of God's rescue plan!

Operation "No More Tears!"
The Rescuer will come: prophecies from 
Isaiah 9,11,40,50,53,55,60

"DO YOU KNOW what your name means? Well, there was once a man called Isaiah, and his name meant "God to the rescue!" That might sound like a bit of a funny name to you, but it was just the right name for Isaiah because God had a special job for Isaiah. You see, Isaiah's job was to listen to God and then tell people what he heard. Now, God let Isaiah know a secret. God showed Isaiah his Secret Rescue Plan: Operation "No More Tears!" This is the message God gave Isaiah (it was like a letter God wrote to his children)...

Dear Little Flock, 

You're all wandering away from me, like sheep in an open field. You have always been running away from me. And now you're lost. You can't find your way back. 
But I can't stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home to me. 
You've been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine! It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine. 
A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mommy will be a young girl who doesn't have a husband. His name will be Emmanuel, which means "God has come to live with us." He is one of King Davids' children's children's children. 
The Prince of Peace.
Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you! But he won't be who anyone expects. 
He will be a King! But he won't live in a palace. And he won't have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a Servant. But this King will heal the whole world.
He will be a Hero! He will fight for his people, and rescue them from their enemies. But he won't have big armies, and he won't fight with swords. He will make the blind see, he will make the lame leap like deer! He will make everything the way it was always meant to be. But people will hate him, and they won't listen to him. He will be like a Lamb- he will suffer and die. 
It's the Secret Rescue Plan we made- from before the beginning of the world! 
It's the only way to get you back. 
But he won't stay dead- I will make him alive again! 
And, one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth- as the waters cover the sea! Everything sad sill come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye. 
Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come! 
I promise. 

Love, God

Poor Isaiah. He read God's letter over and over to God's people, but no one listened to him- at all. Ever. They didn't want to hear God's promise. They didn't believe it.
Did it sound maybe too good to be true? A story that ends happily ever after? Well, it does sound like a fairy tale, doesn't it? And, as anyone will quickly tell you, fairly tales aren't true.
Or are they?

Isn't that so good?! The simplicity of God's love for us written all through scripture, the bible truly is one big love story and rescue plan! Apparently having it written out for me in the form of a children's bible book speaks to my heart all the more clearly! No surprise there, I'm a simple girl! (o;

Anyway, I just wanted to share a little of what we've been reading with Jude lately and suggest it to any other's out there that are looking for a great way to introduce God's truths to their lives!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crazy Amazing and The Wait...

Wanna hear something crazy amazing, humbling, knock your socks off, totally God's faithfulness, good?!?!... Have you checked out our fundraiser meter thingy on the right hand side of the blog lately?!?! Seriously, we ONLY have $211 to go before we are FULLY FUNDED towards bringing Isa home!!!!!! It was last May that we sent out our very first letter to friends and family letting them know we were jumping into this crazy journey of adoption! We had no idea how it was going to be funded, but we knew God said to jump, so we trusted that He would provide! In ONE YEARS time God has provided $27,789 through people like YOU! This is HUGE and almost too much for me to wrap my mind around! It is so true that God funds His callings and moves mountains to accomplish His work! Clearly He is passionate about orphans and determined to not let anything get in the way of making sure they are placed with families! Each and every penny of this journey has been documented and is attached to a name written in RED on our calendars- the above photo is of our May 2010 and May 2011 calendars that have been hanging in our kitchen. If you were to flip through the pages of both, you would find a years worth of God's story chalked full of names of dear friends, family, and complete strangers that have each been used by God in one way or another to accomplish His plan of bringing Isa home! I'm humbled and forever grateful every time I break out the RED pen and scribble a name in that dated little square box! 

The wait. I've had several people ask me lately, "How much longer do you think it'll be before you'll bring Isa home?". Heck, Jude has been asking me the same thing here lately! Fair question... just wish I had the answer! I actually just spoke with our AGCI case worker today, "K" (who, by the way, I love and is quite possibly the sweetest person ever to chat with on the phone! I kind of wonder if the polite folks at Chick-fil-a that always smile and say, "My pleasure" and the case workers from our agency, all go to the same training school?!). She was just calling to check in to see how we were doing and keep us up to date with how things are coming along in Ethiopia.

As you might recall, in March, the Government of Ethiopia's Ministry of Women's Affair issued THIS statement that they would be processing only 5 cases per day. In essence, this would be cutting the number of adoptions by nearly 90%, which in turn makes this mama's heart sink! Since then, the head of MOWA has been terminated and there is entirely new staff in place (which is a good thing from what I can gather). That being said, MOWA has yet to reissue a new statement to counter the one issued in March. You can read the latest update HERE from the Department of State website. So as it stands, the Ethiopian government is still only processing 5 cases a day. Here's the catch though- the movement and cases actually being processed would suggest differently. As of yet, we've seen no significant delay and families are still passing court (PS, I'm so excited for all the families that passed court this week!). So... the issued statement and what we're seeing actually happen aren't really matching up... BUT, I'm totally cool with their actions not backing up what they're saying, as long as it means- we're still moving forward! Regardless, we're still in this weird phase of wait and see, and time really will tell how this is all going to pan out. With the uncertainty of it all, our agency has upped the time frame from dossier acceptance until referral of a child to up to 18 months. However, current families on the list that have recently received referrals waited between 11-12 months. So.... in a nutshell, there is no real way to nail down a timeframe for when we could expect to see Isa's sweet face! Trust me, I hate that answer more than you do! We went on the wait list back in October, so... I guess anywhere between this October and next April we could get our referral call?!?! Talk about making me appreciate pregnancy with Jude and knowing that after 9 months, it was a sure fire deal that he would be here!

So there you have it folks! The most vague answer ever! But hopefully it gives you a better idea of where we're at in this journey!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Letting go of my contingencies

We received our monthly email from our case worker, K, late last week with our new official May wait list number.... #38!!! I'm glad to be in the 30's and will be even more glad to be in the 20's and then the teens! Well if I'm going down that road, heck... I'm ready for a referral call TODAY, but I'm hanging on His perfect timing of it all and I trust that #38 is exactly where we're suppose to be for this month! But notice all those Africa's flipped over to hearts?!?! Each one represents a child's life that has been forever changed and given a forever family! Each heart is one less orphan in the Ethiopia! It truly helps keep things in perspective for me, to know that while we wait, God is at work, giving kiddo's mommy's and daddy's and one day it will be Isa's turn- but until then, there is work to be done! Praise God for all those hearts! (On a side note, there are only three more numbers on the bottom line to flip and I'm so ready to tackle the top row of numbers! It'll just make me feel more accomplished for some reason! Come on June numbers... be in the low 30's!!!)

I made an exciting purchase for Isa's room the other day of a canvas world map that I had been eyeing for months from IKEA. I'd like to thank Izzy (the dog/pony from across the street) for this purchase, because I was able to save up my dog sitting money to buy this bad boy! We're going with a map/globe/Africa theme for Isa's room and I thought this piece was perfect to center everything around for the "look" that we're going for! It was a total bonus too that it ended up matching the wall color because I painted Isa's room awhile back with this random "oops paint color"at Home Depot (which, P.S. I would highly recommend to anyone to save a good chunk of money on paint if you're not super particular about the color you're going for! Just look on the backside of the paint counter and there will be all the paint that's already been mixed and for one reason or another someone didn't want it. So I paid $5 for a premixed kaki color gallon of Behr Primer Plus when normally it's like $25-$30 a gallon!). Voila! It matched! Once we get the computer out of his room and fill it with his furniture, I think it'll really pop off the wall and look cool!

Oh, I've totally been meaning to share about an awesome/nerve racking opportunity Joshua and I had a couple weeks ago! We were approached by our church and asked to share a little bit of our story at the quarterly Partnership Meeting (it's similar to a membership meeting). Now you see, while this may not be a big deal to most, to me... I am genuinely scared to death to talk in front of people!  Small groups of like 10-15 people, I can handle- but like 100 plus people.... TERRIFIED!  So when Joshua came to me and cautiously informed me that we were asked to do this, I think I literally froze in my chair- knowing that my answer should be an enthusiastic yes, but  feeling the fear creep up inside of me and scream no way! Here's the deal, I genuinely WANT to share all that God is doing in our lives- and I WANT to take advantage of opportunities just like this- but my flesh looks at a crowed of people, a stage, and microphone and cringes! That being said, I heard this whisper reminding me that God has been showing me over and over again that He likes my dependency in Him, especially when I'm feeling inadequate, so I took a deep breath and told Joshua to tell them "Yep, we'll do it!". We had a week to prepare (or stress, however you look at it), and I can't tell you how many times I looked at Joshua and said, "Seriously?! You're not nervous at all?!?!" (I guess it's a perk to being a teacher, you get plenty of practice speaking in front of people) It's like it almost annoyed me that he wasn't feeling what I was feeling, apparently misery loves company! Oh but I could hardly imagine what I would have done had he been equally as scared... at the same time I was annoyed, I was so grateful for his confidence, he couldn't win! To make a long story short, when the church asked Joshua if we would share, they mentioned that I could read a blog post if I wanted. Well, ding! ding! ding!... that sounded great to me! Less chance of me completely drawing a blank and having the dreaded long awkward silence! So, I jumped all over that option and let Joshua do the free-style talking! (My focus then became making it up the stage stairs without tripping- and I'll have you folks know- I made it, both up and down the stairs! Wahoo!) Here's the deal- at the end of the night, even though I kept my eyes glued to the paper, and probably talked too fast, and no doubt made speech teachers shake their heads in frustration, GOD STILL SHOWED UP! God was able to use scared, nervous, inadequate Hilary, and make HIS name known! It may not have been pretty- but I'm learning to let go of the contingencies I want to put on how God can and will use my life! If I truly say, my life is yours God, use it... then that means even when I'm scared, uncomfortable, and nervous- USE MY LIFE GOD, IT'S YOURS!  I'm so grateful that I didn't let fear rule my decision and miss out on the humbling opportunity to share with other's all the amazing ways God is working in our lives! I refuse to let fear get in the way of what God can do in and through my life! How about you?

My sister played me this song over a month ago and I loved it- and ever since then I feel like every time I'm in the car it comes on the radio and then today they played it at church! The lyrics to this song shout where my heart is right now!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not simply a gift

Uganda. Three weeks time. God has provided $2,152.85 towards the $3,300 goal! Speechless.

The supply of our needs are being met by heaven. We don't see the generous gifts simply coming from individuals, but from God- using those individuals to accomplish His work. A few weeks ago in my women's bible study we were talking about how, as believers, we are to live here on earth as a "little colony of heaven", talking like Him and acting like Him. For those who have joined in the story God is writing with our adoption and now this Uganda trip- I truly do feel like we're surrounded by a little colony of heaven! Thank you!

We're simply amazed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Busy as a bee!

This time every year is super busy, yet I always seem surprised for some reason! From Joshua's longer work days due to tutoring for the upcoming AP exams, to his annual soccer banquet, to a visit from Grams (Joshua's mom), to Jude's birthday party, to Mother's Day, and fundraising for the Uganda trip this summer, and, and, and, yadda, yadda, yadda... point being, I feel like blogging gets scootched to the bottom of the to do list.

So in an effort to be productive with my precious Jude napping time... I'm going to make this a photo heavy post to capture what all has been going on! ...

Joshua and I rarely get dressed up (so we make a point to take a picture just for proof that it happened!) but the MHS Soccer Banquet provides a great excuse! The banquet consists of the coaches handing out awards to players and a send off video for the seniors who are headed off to college. I pray God's direction and wisdom on each of these students as they are still learning who they are and are searching for who they put their faith in! It's a joy to be the coaches wife and have a little glimpse into the lives of these high school students. I'm proud of the impact my hubs has on his players and I'm proud of these kids too!
For the past 4 years it's worked out perfectly that the banquet always falls during the exact same time as when Grams is in town from Atlanta! Jude is always thrilled to haver her babysit and we're grateful too for her help!
Grams is one of Jude's most favorite people in the world, so he is thrilled when she comes into town for his birthday!
Our little Super Hero Jude turned 4 years old! Grams makes awesome birthday cakes for Jude every year and this year was no exception with a Super Hero themed rice crispy cake! He was thrilled!

All three of us in our Super Hero tee's for Jude's 4th birthday party! We're cool like that... or not so much! (o;  This kid is growing up crazy fast and it I'm searching for the slow down button in life, but can't seem to find it! We're so ridiculously blessed and grateful for Jude and the amazing 4 years he's been alive! 

I mean, seriously?! Could these super hero's get anymore cute?!

On Mother's Day we headed to the small downtown we live in and took some pics. I'm hoping that next year this photo will include a cute little chocolate colored babe in my arms as well! I told Jude that night, "Thanks so much for making me a mommy! I love my job!" to which he replied, "Sure thing! I love you mom!".... what a kid!  

I wouldn't trade my life as Jude's mommy for anything in the world! Seriously it's the most challenging YET rewarding job ever! I'm so grateful to be a mom and I'm so grateful to have a stellar mom in my life who is the epitome of motherhood and what I strive to be like!  
Okay, that's all I have time for for now! But there is more to share here soon on how Joshua's Uganda support raising is coming along... it's good stuff, you don't want to miss it!