Sunday, June 26, 2011

Still Alive! Pictures to prove it!

Yes, I'm still alive! I feel like it's been forever since I've been able to sit down and blog! I feel the need to reintroduce myself... Hi, my name is Hilary and I've been crazy busy! Wanna know what we've been up to?!

The busy hoopla has all been good stuff, fun stuff, and family bonding stuff- so the kind of busy I'm grateful for! We just got back from spending a week in the beautiful East TN mountains at Doe River Gorge (the camp we used to work at, pre-Jude days).  We kicked off the visit by celebrating with my dear friend, and gorgeous bride,  Lauren, on her wedding day! Joshua and I found ourselves smiling, having flashbacks to our big day over 6 years ago, where we were married at DRG as well, and I'm tellin' ya folks, it's the perfect setting for a fairy tail wedding! It was a such joy to share in Lauren and Josh's special day and we pray God's blessings of adventure and joy on their marriage! May He write great stories in your life Lauren and Josh!
Jude saw Lauren from a distance and told daddy, "There she is!"... and wanted to go see her up close! 
Me and my sweet friend and lovely bride! 
Some of the girls house girls I had the privilege to live with before getting married- I've built some of my favorite memories in life with these girls and love each one of them so much!

We decided since we were coming in town for the wedding, we might as well just spend the following week out at the gorge and soak in the outdoors! Joshua decided to volunteer as SWAT (servants with a testimony- they set up all the high adventure activities) for the week of camp while Jude and I took it easy and visited with friends! Jude had the time of his life, from the freedom of wide open spaces to run, to a unimog ride, to a speeder train ride, to hanging out with the horses, to swimming in the lake, to hiking back into the gorge on the tracks, to splashing in rain puddles, to playing with the staff kids, to all of the attention from the college summer staff (Raquel was by far his favorite there- a summer staff from Costa Rica who he called his "girlfriend"), I mean honestly... does life get any better for a 4 year old boy?! Truly, it was our little man's heaven on earth!
Hiking back in the gorge and trying not to soak our shoes in the process! 

Mama (hanging on tight) to Jude at Pardee Point
Jude and his salamander buddy he found while exploring!
Daddy teaching Jude how to skip rocks down by the river
River rock face painting with daddy
Family hike 
Jude's choice of vehicle- the unimog! 
Fun at the lake with his new buddies!
Playing after dinner with some more buddies!
Jude got to tag along with daddy and his group of boys on the unimog ride, he laughed the whole time!
My boys checking out King David, daddy's favorite horse.

It was such a blessing to have enriched conversations with old friends that are near and dear to my heart! I cherished each visit and am forever grateful for the time I was able to catch up with everyone!  I was also able to swing over to Kingsport to see some of my dad's side of the family that I hadn't seen in several years.  There was a sense of "home" with everyone we were able to spend time with and it made my heart smile!
Grateful for my time spent with the Smythe's! Thank you Pam for all our talks! 

Me and my sweet cousin Christy
My Aunt Jane, cousin Cindy, Jude and I visiting Cindy at her work. Thank you Aunt Jane for your hospitality and generosity! I love you! 
My dear friend Julie (she was my camp counselor when I was in high school!)  drove from South Carolina with her kiddo's to spend the day with us! We took the kids on a speeder ride back into the gorge! 

Jules and I before they headed back out. Thank you so much Julie for coming out! I'm so grateful and love you so much!
Our boy tuckered out from a full week of fun on the car ride home!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My ungrateful self... and our June wait list #

So can you tell that Jude is a fan of his new "water slide" in our backyard?! I'm just not sure his crazy screaming face gives it away?! Seriously, I'm amazed at how much fun the kid has climbing up the ladder, going down the slide, landing in a kiddy pool... over and over again! My cheeks hurt after watching him play back there because I'm unknowingly smiling the entire time! It just goes to prove that there isn't much in life that tops watching your kid have a blast! Truly, as a parent, when you're able to offer your child something that you know they're going to love- there's nothing better!

As I sat in the backyard the other night, watching Jude, catching myself laughing and smiling at all of his joyous facial expressions, I got to thinking. Here I sat like a proud mama, happy that my kid was happy... I bet God is like that too! He looks at us, His children, and longs for us to be happy, to enjoy what He's offered us, and when we do- I'm sure His heart wells up with a big smile! But I wonder how often I don't react like Jude, with an over the top happy squeal and instead, I either don't notice what God is offering or I don't seem to care. What a huge disappointment it would have been if we got this play set thing all set up and brought Jude in the backyard to reveal what awesome parents we were (o; ... only to have him be like, "Eh, okay." and turn and walk back inside! I seriously would have been ticked off and had a firm little chat with the boy about being grateful and appreciative, followed by being totally disappointed and heart broken that he didn't like what we were sure he would love!

Here's the deal though... how often am I the girl with the ungrateful reaction to the amazing Texas sunset's, to the refreshing coolness of water on a hot summer day, to the soft green grass in between my toes, to the yumminess of fresh strawberries, to the blessings of family and friendships, to all the beautiful and intricate details in life that God has laid before me?!?! How many disappointing, "blah" reactions must I give to God's incredible gifts every day! Just thinking about it, makes me what to go have a firm little chat with myself about being appreciative! Sigh.

I was reminded of my tendency to lean on the ungrateful side of things again today as I opened the email from our case worker, that I knew contained our official June wait list number. I was so excited to see how many Africa #'s we could flip over (on our count down wall)... only to find out that indeed we were one number HIGHER then I had thought! "Boo!" I literally said out loud. We're now officially #36 for June but according to our list serve, we were #35- so I was hoping for even lower then that. Our May number was #38... so we did move down two spots- but to Ms. Unappreciative Hilary, clearly that was not good enough!

I wonder if God is up in heaven thinking, "Hilary, oh Hilary... you don't know all that I know. You don't know all the beautiful details I am orchestrating so that Isa joins your family at just the perfect time. I wish you would have noticed the mountains I moved for the TWO OTHER fatherless children of mine that were placed with their forever families! My heart longs for you to appreciate and revel in the goodness of all I offer... even my perfect timing!"

With that being said, it's with a grateful spirit, I would like to announce that our official June wait list number on the boys list is #36!!! Wahoo!!! I praise you God for this beautiful number and all the incredible ways you are work in this journey we are on! I want to make you smile God with my reactions in life- may I take this lesson from Jude and learn from it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Dance!!!

So check this out!... Late last week I decided on a whim to check in with Lifesong on our Matching Grant account just to make sure there weren't any last minute donations that had trickled in after the March 31st deadline that I didn't know about (that being said, they have told me that we are in fact still allowed to have tax deductible donations sent to that account for however long we need!) I opened up the PDF document that lists the names and amounts of donations and, low and behold, there sat two donations I had not accounted for!!! One in the amount of $25 and the other for $50! Just yesterday we were $73 shy of our goal and now... Do you know what this means?!!?!....

We have met our $28,000 goal!!!!  AHHHH!!!! I sit here in disbelief that we are at this point in our journey! What seemed to be the daunting task of trying to tackle freaking $28,000 has surprisingly been the most amazing and humbling "daunting task" I have ever taken on in my life! God truly is an amazing God who funds His callings! To the world it looked foolish to take on such a financial hurdle and yet to the God who spoke the world into existence... easy-peasy! I've said it before, but I have no doubt that God uses the unlikely people and circumstances to get-r-done (yes I have a 4 year old that is a fan of Mater) in life so that we can point to no one else but Him for the amazing ways He pulls things off! He gets all the credit here folks! He accomplished His work through people like you! Wow... how our faith has been strengthened! If God is calling you to bigger things that seem outlandish and maybe even foolish, but your confident that it's a burden from the Holy Spirit (look to scripture & pray for clarity)... I beg of you to live radically for His name's sake! The life He's called us to as Christians isn't comfortable or what the world screams at us... it means loving "the least of these" even when $28K is staring you in the face and you KNOW there is no way, as a teacher and a stay at home, you're going to be able to pull it off! JUMP and TRUST! Bust butt and pray that God blesses your efforts along the way!

Okay, so some of you might be wondering where this leaves us financially and the fees that are left for us to pay. Here's the gist of it...

Upon referral - with completed referral packet:
A check to our agency for $4550. This is made up of a $1500 Post-Adoption Translation & Administration Fee, $100 Translation of Final Documents, $100 Medical Check Up, $350 HIV PCR Testing Fee, and $2500 Care of the Child which covers up to 5 months of care at Hannah's Hope.
In-Country Travel & Accommodation Expenses:
Airfare (per person) round trip $1500-$2000 x 2 because the both of us will be traveling over there twice, hopefully not too much over $8,000 in airfare. Travel Visa (per person) $20, Transportation/Travel Coordination $200, Food (per person) $20-$35, Immigrant Visa $400, Lodging (per night) $100.
Other Expenses:
Child Medical Review (varies?), Travel shots for the hubs and I (I don't know what this is going to cost us, I know it's a good chunk of money, I'll let you know!).

We currently have $12,648.13 total in savings either in our Lifesong account or our adoption savings account. So... if you do the math, it's going to be cutting it close... we're praying the cost of airfare goes down by the time we travel! All that being said, we are totally comfortable with exceeding our $28,000 goal! (o; So, even though we've reached the "finish line" in a sense, we would rather have some cushion in the account so if unexpected expenses come up, we're good to go!  The majority of adopting families bank on everything costing $30K, but considering our home study saved us a huge chunk of money, I think we'll be under that amount. That being said, if the Lord so leads, and you're still wanting to join this story God is writing and help with the adoption fund... keep in mind that you can still make tax deductible donations to our Lifesong account! You can click HERE  if you're interested, just be sure to indicate you want it to go towards Joshua and Hilary Helms Adoption. As always, no pressure or obligation- just throwing it out there! (o;

So isn't this just awesome ya'll?!?! Ahhh, it makes me want to get up and do the happy dance! Okay... I just totally got up and did it and it looked absolutely ridiculous, I'm such a horrible dancer- but God's not picky about happy dance technique, at least I hope not! (o;