Saturday, December 17, 2011

Paperwork: Expenses

Me: Well, that looks like it leaves us with "Other"

LK: What do they want there?

Me: Dunno. I guess other are our monthly financial commitments that aren't covered in the categories of utilities, groceries, fuel, child care, and tithing.

LK (Looking over his list of "others"): So then I have home insurance, pet expenses, HOA, coffee, medical...

Me: Did you just list coffee?

LK: You asked for monthly financial commitments not covered under the first few categories, and our budget has coffee as it's own category.

I love that I'm married to a man who fully understands the importance of good coffee.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Game On

For those of you keeping score-- we're back to a "Game On" stance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Heal Thy Self

I once sat with a friend as she, in complete frustration, was discussing her ministry. She told me how this was the ministry she felt God was leading her to do. She knew in her heart that this was where she needed to be. She told me she had prayed and how she had asked other to pray that God show her how to go. And yet... it seemed like every door closed in her face as she tried year after year to make her way down the road she thought she was suppose to be on.

Tired and confused she asked me- if this is where she's suppose to be, why isn't anything working.

I just sat there unable to say the thoughts that were really in my mind. Unable to look her in the face and tell her that maybe if you've prayed for guidance and asked others to pray for you so you can have wisdom in the decision as well and it's all that difficult, maybe you're not really suppose to be on this road. Maybe these road blocks are here for a reason.

I don't mean that it's time to give up at the first sign of rough roads ahead, or the first time there's a bump. But I wanted to tell her maybe the road blocks are there to answer her request for guidance.  To answer her question of how to go about it.  Maybe the road blocks are telling her where to go and she doesn't want to listen.

Maybe this time, I'm guilty of the same thing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Piano Recital

This one is really for the grandparents and those who want to oooo and aaaaa over the boys playing their piano pieces.
Actually, for ISH only having started in September, I'm pretty impressed with his willingness to hop up there and play. Geo gave him some good coaching on how to not be nervous.
I was proud of how well both of them did. Good on ya boys.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was way better at blogging then I am now. But then this last year wasn't exactly what I had expected it to be. ... But I guess to understand what I expected from 2011, you have to understand 2010.

The beginning of 2010 found me in a "me" period. While I was still working and growing my business, and while I was still a full time mom and wife and involved in church ministries, the beginning of 2010 came with lots of extra time. Maybe it was that I had reached that lovely age with my children where they could get Pop Tarts on Saturday and hang out with cartoons by themselves, that age where they could dress themselves and help out around the house -- leaving a little more time for me each day.

Or maybe it was like a mentor of mine once told me that these times are gifts from God- periods of peace that he gives us before "it" comes. And while we can't ever know what "it" will be- she once encouraged me to use these times and enjoy the gift.

And so I started to learn guitar. I began taking classes in aerial silks. I started cooking more and hosting more friends in our home. I spent two weeks traveling in South East Asia … It was an enjoyable time of peace.

But while talking with my dad one day he said the words that would forever change it all. He said he was glad I was having all this time on my hands and glad that I'm enjoying it. After all, he is a strong believer that God wants us to enjoy what he give us. But then he encouraged me to ask God if perhaps there is more he would also like me to be doing with this time.

And so I did.

And soon God began to stir within me the desire to have more children in my life. But strangely, he didn't simultaneously stir the desire for them to be biologically mine. This desire for children clearly came with a lack of wanting to carry or deliver anything.

In June we sat in church holding a friend's one year old little girl. And from out of nowhere, I commented to LK, "well, you know, we could always adopt." With this comment, this one little phrase, a deeper conversation began between LK and me. Would we not take a child if someone left it on our door? Yes! And in that we realized there hundreds children waiting to be taken- they just don't know where our door is.

Within a week we were on the phone with Christian Services. We decided that perhaps jumping head first into adoption might be a bit much, but fostering, and interim fostering- the people who care for babies that are in the phase of no longer being with their biological family but not yet with their forever family- that would be the best way to test the waters.

Then a foster family told us that their foster child would soon be available for adoption and that because the child was going to have to be placed with a sibling, they could not do it.  Yet again, another phrase that lead to 500 conversations.  Could our home be the place for them? 

These conversations led us to put our house, the house we deeply loved (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) but that would not hold two more children, on the market and move in to a house that would better suit the growing family we felt we could soon have.

The entire process with these children was a difficult situation and our lack of having any say in anything that happened stirred up within me the need for control I thought I had conquered.  And one day in August as I was ranting to God asking why on earth would he put this desire in my heart only to have me not get to do ANY OF IT!  I felt him call me to a time with him.

I can't explain it in words that don't sound like some crazy out of body experience- but I know, in that moment, the God who Sees, was asking me to ask him- seek him.  And so on August 3 I committed to the Lord to have 40 days of prayer with him.  To wake up early and spend 30 minutes in the morning seeking him and asking for his direction.

There were several stops and starts.  Surely God would understand that I am tired, that I am traveling, that I was up late with a sick kids, etc. Surely he's okay with me sleeping in today.

November 1, 2010 the gloves came off and I decided for real this time- no excuses- I needed to carry out my commitment to the Lord.  And so for 40 days I got up early and spent time with the Lord.  Asking him to show me what he see for me this all of this.   I began with a study of Ecclesiastes then Proverbs, and ending my 40 days in Job, asking that I can know the Lord, and be known by him.

As I ended my 40 days we had moved into a new house, but still had the old one and the sale of it was quickly falling apart.  Four days after I ended it the contract fell apart.  And we were left with two house, 10 days before Christmas.  One staged with all of our furniture and the other with card tables and blow up mattresses.

Twelve days after I finished my 40 days, I received an email about a teenage girl who had no where to go and said the one thing she wanted in life was to have a family.

LK looked at me and said- we need to do this.

We were certified interim-foster-parents but no children had been in need yet.  And while our heart was still pulling towards the sibling pair, that situation wasn't moving at all.  And so we made the call- and learned that if she could come, it would at the end of January.

As we learned more, I began to pray.  I first began to pray that God help our house sell.  I told the Lord I can't have DHS come into a home with no furniture and try to convince them this is a suitable place for anyone to live.

Our house went back on the market right before Christmas, the time when no one looks at let alone buys a house.  Between Christmas and New Year we had one showing if not more almost every day and the Monday after New Years we had three offers on the table all eager to have our house.  In a down market, in the winter the Lord delivered full price, no closing costs and close at the end of the month.  He had kept his end of the bargain and now it was my turn to keep mine.  And so my prayers became:

"Lord! We may have a [teenager] come to live with us.  Be with her.  Thank you Father for all the situations in my life that you have given me up to know that have me fully capable to minister to someone like her.  Be with her and bless her."

"Lord, I see clearly how all that happened before can be of good use now.  In ALL THINGS.  Thank you for times of trial.  Thank you for redeeming me when I've fallen so I can show the same love and redemption to another."

Our furniture arrived January 26.  C moved in January 28.  And through God's power she was baptized on March 23.  Fully becoming a member of the family of God.
And I would love to stop here and tell you everything since then has been wonderful.  But that's not life.

Throughout the remainder of 2011 we pushed for the siblings only loose them over the summer... as if they were ever really ours.

And in September, C moved out- deciding she no longer wanted the life we were offering.

It felt confusing and sad.

But I believe God had us in the lives of the sibling set in a way that is hard to explain in a venue like this.  But trust me, things happened, God and moved.  And while we showed up thinking we knew how God was moving-- he ... well to quote a good friend of mine... he said "Gee.  Thanks for showing up.  Now, let me try to explain what I'm really trying to do here."

And I believe that God sees C.  That he has his spirit in her life now and if she was with us for no other reason than that, I am thankful for the role we could play.  And I know he is still interweaving her story in with others.  I know he is there for her, should she want to accept that.

The day C moved out we received a call about a two-year-old girl who needed a foster home.

C being with us allowed us to move quickly into full on DHS foster care and so, C moved out on Friday and A moved in on Saturday.

She stayed for four days when DHS called and said she was moving to a kinship home and oh by the way could be take a six-day-old.  S moved in as they were picking A up.

S lived with us two and a half days before moving on to her kinship home.  (And on my but that is a blog post in itself.  God was so visibly at work there and it was beautiful).

We had what ISH would call "our four-person family" from Saturday to Tuesday and then R (age 4) and J (13 months) moved in.

From there the months blur- by Friday my grandmother was dying and within 10 days of R and J coming, we had closed our home to DHS and R and J were being placed elsewhere so that I could be with my family following my grandmother's passing.

I know- it doesn't make sense and believe me it didn't really then either.  But it- them being with us- foster care- all of it.  It wasn't right.  In a way I couldn't put my finger on at the time, but it. just. wasn't. right.

Again I stood there confused.  What did God want from me?  I asked him what he wanted me to be doing with all of this time and I felt the call of more children.  I felt the call that my family wasn't yet "done."  And there was interim care... but that wasn't the answer.  And there were the siblings... but that wasn't the answer.  And there was C... but that wasn't the answer.  And there was DHS foster care... but that didn't seem like answer either.  And now 18 months removed from that prayer I was more upside down in what I was "suppose" to be doing than ever before.

I tried to make myself want to get pregnant.  That would be the easiest answer (well easy in one sense at least).  But, well to keep from getting to medical, let's just say that in 2009 certain steps were taken to make that not really something that could just "happen" like it had with the boys, and when I thought about having to undo that.  And when I thought about being pregnant and giving birth and the biological aspect of it all... I just really didn't want to be pregnant.

And so by the end of October I looked at my dad and said- I don't get it.  I prayed and I feel lost.  I feel like I am in a fog.

"Ah" he said.  "Maybe that's where God wanted you.  Maybe now he can lead."

And so one year later and several hundred blogs short of 2010, I can't really say where the next year is going.  In some ways I feel like I'm seeing some sort of a path through the fog.  In some ways it seems like the path of formal adoption is opening for us-- but so much of that remains out of our control.

And maybe being "out of my control" is just where God wants me to be.