29 December 2013

DRC Update

This is not a big update, but I wanted to write it anyway. The State Department has issued another alert suggesting that even the grandfathered-in cases will proceed slowly because people have been forging documents. The emotionally violent part of me wants to go BEAT some sense into these people! I know you're desperate to bring your child home and I don't blame you for your feelings, but give a single moment's thought to the hundreds or thousands of families you're affecting by further damaging the United States' relationship with the Congo.

Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

It is possible that, because of you, we won't be able to bring H home. It's horribly selfish, which is a terrible way to start your parenting of a hurt child. It also makes you look just like a trafficker. Just fyi. </disdain> </rant>
Termites.















Okay, I'm not talking to them any longer. Frankly, their selfishness will incur wrath more frightening than my own, for who loves orphans more than the Most Holy God? Who placed in mothers the fierceness of protection? Children are literally dying every day in the Congo for want of aid and protection, and these people are making it worse. It will be a dreadful thing on that day.

Honestly, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to do whatever it took to get H here. But then I think about having to tell her, eventually, that she was smuggled here. That she was, essentially, trafficked. It's no good. Besides, H isn't the only child in the DRC who needs a family. How could I live with myself if my actions caused a country to close down its international adoption program? I sure hope anyone realizes this, and I desperately hope they feel the same way.

Katanga region. Rainy season. Beautiful.

In the same alert, the DRC also warned that the suspension of issuing exit visas may last past the original term of one year, so things aren't looking any better for us. But hope does not disappoint, and I believe steadfastly that the Lord will use our adoption to advance the Gospel, just like He used Paul's imprisonment, from where he wrote the epistle of Philippians.

18 December 2013

On Fear

A few weeks ago, I started having stress dreams again. It takes me a while to recognize that that's what they are, but at some point the light bulb goes on and I realize, "oh, I'm afraid."

This round, the dreams were about losing Ezra (sometimes physically, sometimes to CPS, always with the threat looming but never fully realized. When the light bulb goes on, that's when I realize how hard our adoption process has been. My subconscious is scared, like a rabbit in the deep dark woods or something. In some ways, this adoption has felt like several miscarriages; there have been several paths we were sure would lead to our child being home with us, only to have the door close and the path cut off.

I have dealt with those losses individually, but I guess not with the point of view of the future. But I cannot deny that a small part of me is terrified (sobbing, crazy-eyed frantic) about us losing H. That she will be an example to our community and the world of a child who isn't "chosen" (even though she is), who doesn't have the dream come true, who is left on her own. What if our story is one of "we wanted her and weren't allowed"? What if that's the testimony, that things need to change, that children are often run over by governments and powers-that-be?

I can't. I don't know if I can handle it. So God invites me to walk in the garden with him, and my breaking heart is comforted on his shoulder. We probably won't know for months. I need his strength and his hope, because I have none of my own.

09 December 2013

Adoption Update

I should have written this like 2 weeks ago, but this semester has kicked my tail. So tired.

Those of you who've been following our adoption closely (I mean, if you're here, I'm assuming that's you) know the halt with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So we've decided to wait to pursue adopting H. Our DRC adoption program director thinks the suspension is likely to last the whole year (so until the end of September, 2014) and that the Congo will likely introduce more legislation on their process to adopt internationally. So, if we were to continue the process now, it is possible we would adopt H legally and never be able to bring her home, which would be devastating emotionally and crippling financially.

So, we're going to wait and see how it goes. We will reassess in April or May to see if they've made changes to the laws or if changes seem "in the works." If the DRC lifts the suspension early, we will probably continue the process immediately. We don't want her waiting longer than she needs to, but we cannot afford to have a child living in a different country.

This could end poorly for us: the DRC has plenty of rules already in place; it is entirely possible that they will add a requirement we simply cannot meet (in-country residency, being a national, specific income amount). But we remain hopeful that the Lord's favor will be upon H and our family.

02 December 2013

Water

Ezra started saying water yesterday.

I mean, he'd say "wawa" before, and technically he says it "wataaaaa" now, but the point is he's so proud! Yesterday he ran around the house yelling "WAAAATAAAAA! WAAAATAAAAA!" and would ask for it a lot (though of course it always turned out he wanted juice).

I'm sure it's nice to have a child that hits all developmental targets on time, but, honestly, I love that Ezra's been behind in language. It makes every word more precious. It makes every time he tries more special. It makes me even prouder that he works on it even though he isn't currently "gifted" linguistically.

It also makes for some hilarious sounds, like how he says milk "malt" or "molt." So the scenario plays out like this:

Me: Ezra, you can't have juice right now, but you can have water or milk.
E: WATAAAA!
Me: You want water?
E: Molt!
Me: Okay, you want milk?
E: Uhhuh MALT!

[Yes, he does yell that much.] But really, I'm glad to have the opportunity so early to learn to let him show me how he learns, to let him develop on his own pace, and to be okay that he's not above average at everything. And to figure out how much prodding is too much for him (hint: almost any is too much).

25 November 2013

On Contentment

I'm not inclined to be content. I mean, I'm a human. But even more than just a shared aspect of my species, I am particularly inclined to want. I'd say my husband can be inclined to be too content (and so would he; I'm not tattling), comfortable with the way things are as long as they're not bad. But I'm NEVER content when I'm not actively abiding in the Lord. I always want things to be better, or sometimes even just different.

So it was exciting to me when, in passing a recent-model Volvo sedan, I realized I no longer wanted a Volvo. I could not have said that two years ago. I wanted one; I'd pine every time I saw one. They're pretty and sturdy and dependable and nice. Man, what a work of the Lord that I don't anymore! I'm content with our car-and-a-half (it's half a car; trust me). They work well enough to be legal and not leave us stranded.

Well, our nicer car sometimes locks itself when you try to open the driver door, which locked Ezra inside the car twice this summer before I finally stuck the habit of always ALWAYS having another door open before I open the driver door. As I was waiting for the people-who-charge-you-60-bucks-to-unlock-a-door, there was a young girl and her grandmother waiting in the car next to me. The little girl asked (several minutes into our conversation), "why don't you just get a new car?" I was nice enough to say, "Well, we're saving our money to adopt our next child from Africa" but I really wanted to just say "We can't afford a nicer car, and that's okay." But I'm not her parent (or grandparent). We could not possibly afford a new or used Volvo, and it's okay with me. I'm content with what we've been given, and it's absolutely enough.

In case you ever wonder if christians' lives are changed, or what the Holy Spirit does, it can be things as small and monumental as this. I haven't been "working on" being content; I've been being worked on!


17 November 2013

Heartbreak?

We received a terrible email today from the program director of our adoption agency. Please pray for our adoption to be an exception, for us to be able to adopt our little H, and that God will miraculously change the hearts of the leaders of the Congo. Many lives are at stake.

Ugh that sounds obnoxiously dramatic, but it's unfortunately true. Most orphans and orphanages do not have resources from which to draw in the Congo. Those who care for them are forced to endure inadequate resources constantly. It's just not what it should be like.

I will update you more after we speak personally with our agency and figure out what our director thinks we should do. Please pray that God will give us clarity and conviction, and that we will be faithful to present our requests to God with thanksgiving, and in doing so, receive His promised peace.

03 November 2013

Discipline from the Lord

This Summer I received what I would call a hint from the Lord, in the form of a book I reread. The author is a mother of four very young children, and she wrote a short bit about striking the word "overwhelmed" from her vocabulary. The idea is that you cannot be overwhelmed by your daily life; you just need to live it. Sometimes we hide behind words, or we give them more power than they ever should have.

I was inspired by the idea. I feel like our generation has caught some sort of "overwhelmed" virus and suffer from the effects almost constantly in every area of our lives. I think this should not be. So I took the hint and decided not to allow myself to be overwhelmed anymore.

lol.

Turns out I'm sneakier than I thought. This morning I received a much-needed talking-to from God about what I'd been doing instead of telling myself I was overwhelmed: complaining. Ugh! complaining about good things from the Lord... No no Michelle! That's no no.

This week will be full. There is a lot more to do than I want to. BUT. I should not be complaining about gifts from the Lord! Crazy child! I need to lean into the Lord, to hold His hand and be with Him, not busy myself while muttering over and over all the things I need to do and how I don't really want to do them.

That's all. <3

01 November 2013

Ramping Back Up (and Fundraising Friday)

First of all, praise God for nap time, amiright? I mean, I understand the biological reasons little ones need to nap, but I think it's also the grace of God so we don't hurt them get some productive time. There simply  aren't enough hours in the day [read: ways to distract my child] to do all the things I need to get done.

And I don't mean like keep my house well maintained, or get dinner prep going so the 5 o' clock hour won't be crazy. I mean, I'm sure someone does that. Go them. But no, my house is always a disaster (not a three-toys-on-the-floor "disaster") because I am working in campus ministry and a full-time stay-at-homer and fundraising for a seriously expensive adoption. Praise the Lord I have low homemaking standards.

Speaking of which (the adoption, not the standards), we are moving forward with our adoption of little H. The suspension of exit visas has not been lifted, but we believe that God will move in good time to let us bring her home. Truthfully, I can't not try. We have to do our best for my heart her.
We can't show her face, but trust me, she's adorable.

So. On November 9th, we're hosting a talent show at Brazos Christian School at 7:30pm. There will be singing and dancing and funny videos. There will be free kettle corn and limeade. There will also be hot chocolate for sale, as well as deeeeelicious homemade desserts. There will also also be jewelry, crafts, and art for sale, all made by friends. There is a $5 suggested donation cover charge.

I'm also in the middle of organizing a 5k run in the Spring to benefit our adoption. Whew, it is a TON of work! But mark your calendars for March 22nd - we'll be running* to bring home our daughter.





*I won't be running in the race because I'll be running THE race, and also because nothing deadly will be chasing me. Probably.

15 October 2013

How I am

So, you know when something happens, and you surprise yourself, and then you think, "self, you should know this about you by now."? Is that a thing other people do? It is, right?

I tend to think of myself as someone who handles her emotions. I can be pretty volatile, so I have lots of opportunities to train in processing emotions without them taking the wheel and driving me into a ditch or running people over or something. [letting your emotions drive never ends well, amiright?]

But when I get a really big emotion, a big sad one, I don't handle it. I don't know how. It's so big it's scary, so I lock my heart up and tell it to be quiet because I don't know what will happen if I do let it out.

Truth is, I'm super scared for little H. And I'm super scared I'm going to lose her. With a quavering voice, I have called her "daughter" in my heart. My arms are already stretched out to receive her. And if the Congo closes, there won't be anyone behind us to adopt her. In 2006, 95% of the Congolese population lived on less than $2 per day. Two dollars. I struggle to feed our family what I want to feed them on $12! And that's just food! The Congolese do not have the resources to care for Helen. To keep her alive.

Yesterday, my feelings finally got control of the wheel enough to force me to deal with them. And God was kind enough to give me a picture of what my heart looks like right now. I won't share it with you because it was kind of graphic. It was kind of Him because He validated that I wasn't being histrionic; it makes sense that my heart would be crushed for these children who are just like mine.

So, really, I'm not great, but that's okay. Please be praying for the children (and nation) of the Congo.

12 October 2013

Adoption Updates

Well, we got the news on Wednesday that our case will not be grandfathered in (which we expected anyway). Now we really have some questions for the Lord to answer. We just need Him to tell us if H is our daughter or not. NBD, amiright?

Perhaps I am learning perseverance? I'm not sure. This hasn't (yet) rocked my world, and I praise God for that. I'm not sure if perseverance looks like this or something a little cleaner and more smiley. I'm not smiley, but I'm not hopeless. And that's a step I'm assuming is in the right direction.

Although I wish this was an announcement coupled with some significant step (we should've had our homestudy updated by now, but that would come with a $5,500 fee we're not confident of paying yet), but oh well. New items are available in the Etsy shop! I'm desperately in love with a lot of these pieces.

Okay, I've run out of energy. It feels like life is trying to run me over these days, and Stephen and I keep adding to our list of serious, important things we need to spend a lot of time thinking through, talking out, and praying over. Stephen hasn't had 2 days off in a single week for a month. Maybe more. Lord, sustain us, give us grace, and be merciful to us!

30 September 2013

The Wringer

Today we got yet another possibly-life-changing email. The Congo has suspended issuing any ext visas for adopted children traveling to their new home with their parents, effectively shutting down international adoptions for those not living in the Congo.

Y'all, I'm so tired.

Our lawyer in Kinshasa is trying to see if we can be grandfathered in, but I have little confidence that that will happen, since we have no documents in the Congo that identify us as prospective adoptive parents. I have some hope that the suspension will be lifted by the time we'd actually travel, but for now, we will wait and see.

I'm doing better than I could be doing, just waiting to see what the Lord is doing and what move He wants us to make. I suppose I am learning something through all of this craziness, but I do wonder how much longer we will be put through the wringer before we wear completely out.

God, we need YOU to sustain us. to guide us. to give us peace and hope and confidence that You will complete what You chose for us to start. We affirm that You are good and Your plans are good.

27 September 2013

Fundraising Friday!

Okay, I'm hoping to be able to share our final adoption costs breakdown! I know you're excited.

Assets:
Amount in our Lifesong account: $3,782.65
Amount in our adoption checking account: $3,335.97
Amount we're taking out of our home equity (which is all): $8,000
Total amount we have: $15,118.62

Fees and costs:
*Adoption agency, dossier translation, lawyer, and in-country escort fees: $18,600
*Home study update fee: $500
*Dossier authentication fee: $100
*Dossier shipping fee: ~$100
Vaccination costs: $350
Congo plane tickets:  $2,500 (Why so low? because my dad is awesome and has a lot of airline miles)
Lodging in Kinshasa for 10 days: $1,000
Food for 4 for 12 days: $300
Transport in Kinshasa: $500
US Visa for H: $230
Visa medical exam: $100
Congo visas for Stephen, Ezra, and me: $345
Finalizing our adoption in the US: $1,200
Total costs: $25,825

The expenses that are starred are due before our dossier will be sent to the Congo. The total for those is $19,300! So, we need $4,180 to come in before we can move forward with our adoption.

It's a little strange-feeling, because we'll only have $6,525 left to raise after that, and at least 3 months to raise it. We also won't hear back from the grants we've applied for until after we submit our dossier (or I sure hope we'll be able to submit it before, since most grants have at least 6 weeks between). So, it's possible we won't have to fundraise any more after this. But who knows what will happen?

Well, God does. Please join with me in praying that He will guide us as to how to bring in the money for our adoption and that funds will come in according to his good will.

IF you feel God is leading you to give to our adoption, you can give online here. Our family number is 3243. Other than the credit card fee, Lifesong doesn't take one cent from your donation for administrative fees!



26 September 2013

Homestudy Update

We're having to update our homestudy to align is with DRC's requirements. It will involve another homestudy and updating our information on our assets and incomes. When we receive that update, we'll be able to send our dossier to be apostilled, translated, and begin the process of legally adopting little miss H in the Congo.

I'll include a more thorough breakdown of costs for the first ever in quite a while Fundraising Friday, but please be praying that this process will move quickly, but also that the finances will come in as we need them., and that we will have an understanding of how God wants to provide, since almost all of the fees and expenses will be in the next 4-6 weeks, and we do not have all the funds at present.

On a spiritual note, I'm feeling so much hope and confidence that H is our daughter and that God wants to bless our family by adding her specifically to it. My faith and confidence on how I'll do as a parent of a very active and spirited preschooler (3 is preschooler, right?) and a toddler who has experienced profound loss(es) in her short and precious life, well, that's not as strong. If you'd like to join me in praying that God will prepare me to mother this miracle of God's love, provision, and mercy, I'd really appreciate it.

17 September 2013

Room in my heart

Just a little lyric from a little song: "I make room in my heart, God."

Singing it on Sunday morning, I got a clear picture from the Lord. Opening my heart (my claymation heart, I dunno, but that was the look), stretching it to see its contents, and finding that the room I was making in my heart was filled with junk: sawdust, cotton batting, bits of string.

I've never had to oust anything from my heart to make room for God. In fact, every time I've opened more of my heart to God, he has enlarged it. My heart holds to much more, so much closer, than when I first believed.

Honestly, I may still be the most selfish person you ever meet (I make neither promises nor threats in that department), but God has done a miracle with my heart, that it could even have room for anyone else in any capacity.

09 September 2013

Worldly Sorrow

If you know me IRL, you'd probably nod your head in agreement that I'm not the type of person to beat myself up about things I've done wrong. It's just not part of my personality to think of myself as a "bad person," and it took a long time (and a pretty serious downwardly-spiraling life) for me to realize I couldn't just do my thang in life and be okay.

And most of the time, I don't even mind that part of my personality - I married someone who's definitely the opposite in this area, and man, it just seems tiring to be wondering all the time if you're violating your inner conscience. I tend to think, look, if I do, I'm sure it'll tell me, amiright?

Which is why motherhood kind of threw me for a loop. Yesterday morning, Steve, one of our pastors, spoke on repentance. One point he highlighted was on godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow, and the Holy Spirit pretty much opened my chest and strung out the last two years before me, a huge pile of worldly sorrow accumulating mass every day.

I have been beaten down my worldly sorrow for my inability to be the parent I want to be for Ezra. I have been paralyzed by it, drowned in it. I have not repented nearly often enough for my lack of reliance on the Holy Spirit to make me more like Jesus. This worldly sorrow has robbed me of so much hope that God is able to do more than I can even hope for in my and my son's lives. Ugh, I'm so done with it.



Epilogue: It's kind of nice, isn't it? Eight years after my first real experience with repentance, I'm still plumbing the depths of God's grace and sufficiency and our relationship. I hope it never ends, exploring His love and letting Him in. He is so, so good to me.

07 September 2013

Shampoo-less Hair Care Update


Wow, I didn't realize what a difference not using shampoo to wash my hair was making until I stopped for two weeks. My hair was dry and frizzy, and my scalp was SO ANGRY. So angry. 

So I've gone back to my beautiful baking soda (with a drop or two of lavender oil to add some pretty smell) and my apple cider vinegar. I doubt I'll go back, but now I have to figure out how to travel for more than two days with this set up.

That's it.

05 September 2013

Upon the Waters

If I could tell you how many nights I chew the skin off my lips, rub my eyes until I see stars, and tell God I just can't. I can't do this anymore.

Stephen was gracious enough to help me understand that it's a Peter thing. I see what Jesus is doing, I step out on the waters, and realize HOLEY CRAP I'M TRYING TO STAND ON WATER. And I fall.

And usually, somehow, I end up pointing my bony finger at God and accusing Him, as if He is only a voice leading me in the dark, in a world full of predators lurking just beyond my periphery. As if He doesn't cradle me in His hand. As if it would even be best for me to get what I want when I want. As if He isn't good.

This song is beautiful and I love it, and I want to sing it with confidence. God knows I'm a fickle follower and cannot promise tomorrow. But tonight, I will rest, knowing He will complete our adoption in His perfect timing, and I'll continue fashioning my ebenezer stone to plant at His feet, a testament to His faithfulness.



19 August 2013

Update

Oh, I'm so boring these days. I mean to do updates on things: washing my hair without using shampoo, moving back to Texas after a summer in Colorado, Ezra, the start of the semester. But I have a really hard time mustering up the energy when I feel so maxed. I'm not actually busy; I mean, my husband is totally busy, and there are a number of events in the next few weeks that I need to work around for his schedule.

But (surely I'm not the only one? right? anybody?) when I get stressed out, it's like I can't do anything. Or absolutely anything seems overwhelming. I forget to do basic things (like cook dinner), and even the thought of texting someone I really enjoy feels like too much.

So, we got little H's blood work back, a current picture, and her parental status. Good and bad and good but still a leap of faith. I think a good bit of the stress is that Stephen hasn't made up his mind that this is what we should do. I cannot imagine being the type of person who calmly mulls a huge decision over in the course of a week. It sounds amazing and horrible. How do you wait that long to do ANYTHING? How do you stay calm about something that will change your life? Like "choosing" a child? HOW DO YOU DO THAT?!? [Introverts, if you want to take a pause to distance yourself from my hare-like mania, now's an appropriate time. Stephen does it too, and it doesn't offend me.]

I absolutely do appreciate that I'm partnered with someone who does not just decide to plow through life like he's being chased by a tiger. But being "in the decision-making process" feels like the TIGER IS GOING TO GET US HURRY RUUUUUUUUUNNN!

[Please don't read that Stephen and I are in a fight; we totally are not even a little. This is just what it's like to be balanced by your spouse in an area where you're both way off-center.] I know for a fact Stephen often feels like we make decisions precipitously. But we like never ever do; we just have to decide SOMETHING at SOME point. So we make a good, but very uncomfortable, team.

Also, the thought of all the paperwork we will need to do when we do decide is SO overwhelming because I have to request several documents all over again, have them translated (which I'm not sure I can do myself, and I'm not sure how much it will cost), and have them notarized, AND THEN have them apostilled (notarizing on steroids).

All at the beginning of the Fall semester, so like the busiest month of our entire year.

Truth be told, once the decision is made, I will have a fire lit under my bum that burns so ardently for my daughter that I'll show these documents who's Mom in this house and they won't even know who retrieved them and had them translated and notarized and apostilled. But we're not there yet, so I'm deflated and tired and stressed out to the point of being nearly immobilized. Really, it's only my belief that I'd have to have some other quirks and shortcomings that keeps me from getting irritated at God for giving me this personality. I certainly wouldn't rather be Stephen. He works so hard!

11 July 2013

A Call to Prayer

Dear friends,

I am asking for your prayers on our behalf today. We have identified a child who could possibly be our daughter (whose file is being "held" for us pending her blood work). I cannot give you details except that she is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We could really use prayers for guidance, peace, and clarity of vision while we wait for her medical report. I'm trying to not get too excited and to submit this decision before the Lord. I don't know when we'll get her blood work back, but I will certainly let you all know!

Financially, it's a little unclear how much we'd need. We have a little over $8,000 right now, but we haven't received an itemized list of fees, nor the schedule at what time they're due, just a rough estimate. So it's hard to know what we need and when. But, if this little one is meant for us, God will light the way in finances as well.

Much love.

19 June 2013

Cooperation

For Pete's sake, I am bound and determined to cooperate with God on whatever He's wanting to do in this whole adoption thing.

[As an aside, I have been so blessed this summer to have my husband let me go to each Tuesday LT service. I can't ever go on Thursdays because he's leading worship; but he could totally say he needed to go on Tuesdays for work. But he doesn't. :) and man, each service has been just like a great bath in the Word and Spirit. I come out feeling like my spiritual skin has had a good scrubbing, and my head full of ponderings.]

Anyway, this very nice guy (and the Collegiate pastor at Ohio State), Jon Shah, was teaching last night out of Hebrews 12, and it was a very loving and gentle kick in the pants. I know God is using our adoption to grow me and mold me and refine me, but I don't know how, and I'm certain I've been fighting him on it.

But beyond just not fighting him tooth and nail (which is the only way I know how to fight), how do I actually cooperate with what he's wanting to do? The thing about LT is that it brings up a host of character flaws and lies and things that need sharpening. I sat down last night and listed a dozen things that have been brought up in my heart over the past four weeks.

So, if you'd like to pray, please pray that I'll hear clearly from the Lord what he actually wants to work on right now, and to stuff deep down lay aside the things he doesn't want to deal with right now.

kthanxbai

09 June 2013

I will NOT call it "No 'Poo"

But I've ditched my shampoo in favor of a more "crunchy" (and cheap) method of washing my hair. Seriously, I don't understand how people can say "no 'poo" with a straight face. And also, people not initiated into the crunchy lifestyle are going to get very wild ideas in their heads before you explain yourself. Perhaps people just like to be a little shocking? I don't know.

Basically, I'm trying this new method because I have very dry hair (or a very dry scalp), and I've kind of given up on finding a shampoo that I love and my scalp loves too. My scalp is always itchy and flaking, regardless of what shampoo and conditioner I use, how often I wash my hair, what time of year it is, etc. And I'm not quite ready to go to a dermatologist about it. I'm an American; I only get help when I absolutely cannot fix it myself.

So I'm washing my hair every few days with a watered down baking soda mixture (1 tablespoon soda per cup of water), and conditioning it with watered down apple cider vinegar (3 tablespoons per 2 cups water). You can easily google many pro no 'poo sites that will tell you how and why and blahblah. I mainly referenced this blog.

I've only washed it twice, and so far no problems. My roots are definitely more oily-feeling than I'm used to right out of the shower, but not to where I can see any difference. My ends haven't (yet) been dry or frizzled, so who knows? My hair pretty much looks like my hair (with some frizz control product in it). Maybe I'll keep doing this. It sure is cheaper than the really nice stuff I've been using (my curl control stuff is $40! But it's lasted 3 years. I probably shouldn't still be using it, right?). I'll give you another report in a couple of weeks. Most people who seem to try this have oily hair, so I felt it incumbent upon me to put my experiment out there, having very dry and sensitive skin in general.

Who knows, if this works out, maybe I'll try making my own deodorant, or washing my face with honey, or some other crazy, pseudo-embarrassing-but-possibly-wonderful nonsense.

06 June 2013

Dreams

I don't remember many of my dreams, but usually the ones I do remember are the stress dreams. I had so many when Ezra started walking quickly: he'd be right next to me, and I'd look up to answer someone's question, and look right back to see him jumping off a cliff or into a swimming pool (filled with jellyfish!).

Last night (early this morning, rather) I had a different sort of dream. So, my mom, my brother (Matt), and I were digging in the ground (for some logical reason I've forgotten) kind of near a bank (not the river kind, the fiduciary kind). All of a sudden, we start digging up people's wallets, I mean twenty or thirty wallets. In one wallet, we found a $20,000 bill. Incredulous, we brought the wallets into the bank to turn them in. The teller and the manager went through and discovered that the owners of the wallets were dead, which somehow meant that the cash (it was all bills, no checks or anything) belonged to us now: a total of a little over $30,000. My mom looked at me with a smile and said, "Well, what do you want to do with it?"

And, in the dream, I started crying, because it meant we could adopt now, the way we wanted, and not have to worry about fundraising, or scrimping to save, or getting to a point in the process and not having enough money to go forward, or having to stop because expenses were higher than projected. I felt unburdened, free! We could commit to a specific child, our child, the very next day.

It was a good dream. But not real. But it was a good reminder that I can trust God, even though the money aspect of our adoption is not working the way I'd want it to. I let God control the outcome of my efforts in many other areas, but I haven't surrendered my children enough to be unburdened by the process of bringing one of them home.

I suppose I'll work on that.

31 May 2013

New Jewelry! Fundraising Friday!

Check out my friends n my skillz, y'all:

Owlated Necklace
Nacre Moon Earrings
Whirled Peas Earrings
Skipping Stones Necklace
Triple Teal Necklace
Jet Shell Triple Necklace
Dirigible Earrings
Milky Way Necklace
Starry Night Necklace
Black Bean Earrings
Happy Wrap Bracelet
Stone Drop Earrings in Caramel


I mean, come on! For even more (like, so much more), visit Mrs Muenich MADE. There's another sneak peek up today, and everything will be up tomorrow

30 May 2013

FINISHED!

Y'all. Finally, I'm feeling hopeful again. The Lord is gracious in our sadness; He gives me time to grieve-pout, then grieve-rage, then actually grieve-mourn, then (finally) accept His comfort and hope. He's so good.

It took me long enough, but I'm finally feeling like we will adopt at some point, that we're not running on a treadmill, and that God isn't withholding our deep (and godly) desires like a bully putting stiff-arming your forehead. I know, sometimes I believe crazy things about God, but He's so gentle in guiding me back to what I know to be true about Him.

Are we for sure about our direction? No. Not at all. I really wish I could say, "THIS way is THE way!" But I cannot. I really, really wish money wasn't the only thing holding us back from moving forward tomorrow, but it is. But, finally, I believe again that God will provide in His good time.

In the meantime, I've been at work. First it was a little desperate, like I must keep swimming or I'll shark-die! But now that I've remembered that it's good to have God in control, I'm just glad there are things my hands can do to help.

Y'all know I make jewelry. Honestly, I do it for fun, because pretty! But I want to sell it to raise funds for our adoption. So Jenni Olowo of Jenni O Photo was gracious enough to lend her photographic prowess to photograph two of my friends wearing my jewelry. Then Jenni sent me ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY THREE photos of FORTY EIGHT different pieces. It was a lot of work! But I finished YAY today I finished!

Stay tuned for a sneak peek on tomorrow's Fundraising Friday!

21 May 2013

Colorado

I'm writing this post from chilly Estes Park, Colorado! Ezra's napping, Stephen's at his LT orientation, and we're alllmost settled into the Rainbow duplex. Perhaps I'll take some pictures and post 'em. Y'all, it's rustic. But I think it'll be a great little home for us for the next 11 weeks. Boys have already taken over our house in College Station (prayers for our a/c are appreciated), and the summer is officially underway.

Do you ever feel like you've been telling yourself to "just make it to [insert point in time here]" for a long time? Man, I've been doing that for SERIOUSLY months now. It would be nice to know if things really will slow down, or if I need to somehow just make a change to this being my new normal.

I don't have an actual update for our adoption because we've been cleaning and organizing our whole house, packing what we need to live somewhere else for 11 weeks into our Ford Focus, and driving across the country. Also, we currently don't have the funds to act on a decision (probably), even if we'd made one. So I'm focusing on getting this little "house" in order and trying to start processing my feelings again (because it's been a "just keep swimming" past few weeks).

10 May 2013

Update

Well there's no big news or something like that, but I will give you a lil adoption update. Since we're most likely parting with our current program, the fundraising countdown doesn't really apply anymore. :(

But we've pretty much narrowed our focus down to adopting from Democratic Republic of the Congo or Hong Kong. There are positives and negatives with both; I can tell you we'd rather adopt from DRC. There are children (lots of children) waiting who have no special need (and some are infants; many are toddlers). As soon as we collect the money, we could move forward.

Man, what a bitter pill to swallow, that the only thing keeping us from adding to our family is money. It rankles. [that's what I say now when I want to say something sucks]. You know what's a similar word and also a great one? Fester. Just sayin'.

Where was I? Oh yes, festering. I'm sure this is me being whatever personality I am [ENFP], but I really dislike that something as arbitrary as money is what's holding us back. Then again, I've never had much respect for it. I'm not sure how healthy it is; money just feels like tennis shoes. Sure, there are a number of things you can do without tennis shoes, but there are things you just can't without an athletic shoe, and there's no real getting around that. And I'm sure some people are desperate for and in love with athletic shoes, but I cannot whip myself into any sort of excitement over tennis shoe shopping. They never fit perfectly and I'm often not enjoying myself when I'm wearing them. Money. Tennis shoes. I mean, who gets giddy over paying bills (or fees, as it is)? Who adores keeping the budget? It's tidy, but it's not fun like a good cute pair of sandals. Is all I'm sayin'.

Anyway, if you'd be praying for us (for money to rain down from the sky, or for a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night to guide us in the direction He wants us to go), we'd really appreciate that. In the mean time, I've been working up some new jewelry to Etsify hopefully in a little over a week. I'll share that when it's done.

27 April 2013

Direction Change?

So, you may have noticed that there's been no movement whatsoever on our waiting list since January. We got news on Thursday that the main orphanage our agency works with is not making referrals for international adoption until October. The main reason is that our Western understanding of adoption is not the way adoption is viewed or usually done in Africa. Their plan is to make a documentary of how Ugandan children thrive in their American homes, in hopes that it will change hearts toward our process of adopting. Which is great, honestly; I hope desperately that it works.

However, our vision for adopting was just as much about bringing home a child who has little chance of thriving without being adopted as it is about the joy of adding to our family. We never intended to sit on a waiting list; we were okay with it not because there were so many families and so few orphans, but because the process is slow slow slow in Africa (as viewed through our Western eyes, lol!).

So, we're seriously considering a change in plan, possibly even in country. I cannot express to you in blogwords how rocked our world has been. But, after a day of "why me?" the Lord successfully gave me a kick-in-the-pants-slash-pep-talk, and I'm back. Back to having hope that He knows where our child is and that we will bring him/her home, with His help.

His heart is for orphans, more than mine. His heart is for my child, more than mine. He knows what He's doing, and I am choosing to trust that. If you'd like, we'd love prayer for direction as far as what to do from this point (please, speak loudly and clearly, Lord!), and for increased financial provision, as we will almost assuredly have significantly more than $7,500 left to raise, with the change in plans.

04 April 2013

Hi. My name is Michelle

And I'm addicted to sugar. Like, the-same-as-I-was-addicted-to-cigarettes addicted. If you've never been addicted to something other than food, you may think this is kind of silly. But I remember quitting smoking, and this is just like that.

[An aside: sometimes I feel like I'm airing out my dirty laundry on my blog, but, truth be told, food addiction is pretty tame laundry, even though it's wrapped in shame.]

You know, I limited myself to one or two cigarettes for months before I was able to completely kick the habit. Months. Miserable months. I just didn't know how to let go of that sweet, sweet nicotine. [Stephen laughed when I used that phrase earlier this evening. He just doesn't know.] Honestly, I was only able to quit because of the patch and a big reward for being smoke-free for a month. I still had a few slips since then.

I even tried a cigarette a while ago (it had been years since my last slip), and the hunger to smoke again returned, almost fiercely. Man, something in me is set to addiction mode.

So I really am that kind of addicted to sugar. The hide the goods, be controlled in all other areas, contain it as much as you can, that kind of addiction. It's open-and-shut; I need to get rid of this. I can't contain it. I don't have the self-control. I have to go cold turkey and be okay with maybe never being able to have sugar again. Oh sugar, I love you! How can I leave you?!? There is something wrong with me.

Jesus, here's my mess. I just can't even anymore.

22 March 2013

Fundraising Friday

We got ANOTHER $1,100 donated to Lifesong for Orphans toward our account (#3243)! That brings the total amount down to a little over $8,000!

Our garage sale is April 6th. Please pray that it will bring in at least $1,000. I'm asking the Lord for at least $1,500.

15 March 2013

Fundraising Friday

Hey y'all. Look at me! Two weeks in a row. So proud of myself.

So far, our Lifesong for Orphans account is at $2,432.65! So great. Also (as I mentioned earlier this week), Stephen's songs have brought in $30.67 (after fees)! So wonderful and special of our friends.

So just this week, we are almost $200 closer to our goal! Only $9,287 to go!

13 March 2013

Adoption Processing

Sometimes I miss the hurryhurryhurryhurry of the first part of adoption. I miss going to check the mail, thinking that something exciting might be there. I suppose I miss tangible progress, perhaps. I'm not sure.

I am glad our adoption isn't all-consuming this semester. And it's nice to have the most disappointing thing be that I forgot stamps AGAIN. [seriously, how many times can you forget to look at the list you've just been using Michelle how many times.]

But the hardest thing is that I can't make this process go any faster at this point. Of course I have our dossier all ready to go when we need it. And I have everything we need to travel (except the rest of our immunizations and Ezra's passport) when it's time. But we're #13 on the list; time won't be now anytime soon. And I am glad to have the opportunity to keep checking in with the Lord. You know, "Is this the right path? Is there a better one?" I'd love for Him to say, "Yes! Here's the child you should go adopt right now!" And I'd so welcome that. But I wonder if God will keep us on the waiting list because it is good to wait. I've always been terrible at delaying gratification. I know this is growing me in ways I'd rather not have to.

Well, even though it doesn't bring us closer to our child any faster, here's what we have going in terms of fundraising events soon:

* up now: Stephen's songs available to stream for free and download to benefit our adoption.
* up now: our Lifesong for Orphans fundraiser is chugging along.
* April 6th: our next (perhaps last?) garage sale fundraiser! Both of our previous garage sales raised $1,000. I'm praying for $1,500 from this one!
* April 27th-ish: our fancy-dancy craft/art bazaar and silent auction. I haven't figured out what day/time/place we'll have it, but definitely that weekend. If you have something you'd like to donate, contact me! mmmraowATgmailDOTcom : D

12 March 2013

New Music!

The day finally arrived (yesterday)! Stephen put two songs online to stream and download. I know I'm biased and I married him partially because he makes great music. Still. It's fantastic (for a home recording).

The proceeds go toward our adoption, so that's helpful. But I'm most excited for people to hear what music Stephen can make recording in a closet and using free samples. :)

http://walksproject.bandcamp.com/track/words
http://walksproject.bandcamp.com/track/sunrise

08 March 2013

Fundraising Friday

What can I say? God's people are awesome. This week we had another $890 come in at Lifesong on our behalf. Some people have given extravagantly. We've had a couple give almost $1000! And a very small business donate $500! And one of my close friends gave us $250 for her birthday (I mean, I don't think it technically was for her birthday, but it was on her birthday, so I'm counting it). We've had family give, and people we barely know give. What a salve to my gifts-loving heart.

Sooooo, $10,375 - $890 = ... $9,485! We're in the thousands (not ten-thousands? the four-digits? quarter-digits? How does that work?)!!!!!

We're nailing down dates to have our next garage sale AND our big exciting craft / art bazaar this weekend. Man, April will be just as busy as the rest of the semester! It's nice, honestly, to have to fundraise, even apart from all the good things it does for my heart, just to give me something to do. My hope is so flimsy and feeble; I do struggle with having two months of being the same number on the waiting list. Stupid #13. Wanting to ask again, "Lord, is this the right path? Did we err?" Watching Ezra enjoy playing with other toddlers and waiting for a sibling for him. Holding a friend's baby and wondering if anyone is holding mine. Man. I don't like it! But I believe my heart can be guarded by the peace that passes understanding, as I present these fears and requests and hopes and disappointments and yearnings to Him. In the meantime, we'll just keep chipping away at that number up there!

07 March 2013

Art and March

Y'all. I hate March. I know for sure I've said it before on here, but when the seasons change, I just about can't take it. I get so restless and wild-eyed. I desperately struggle with impulses while driving to get on the highway and just go. anywhere. Anywhere that's awaaaaay from here! But I also like the being trapped part (yes, my favorite people in the world trap me, in the best way), because it allows things my heart yearns for to bubble up to the surface. Things I usually just hush up.

Almost a decade ago, I started making art. It wasn't very good, but it was exactly what I needed. I can't make a picture look like the thing it's supposed to represent to save my life (seriously, someone should make a torture movie where the victim's lover will be shot if the victim can't draw a dog that couldn't also be a horse or an octopus. I mean, I wouldn't watch it, but still, you're welcome, creepy Hollywood execs.) But I love to put the way I feel in color. And to have to do it layer by layer for like a month.

Man, art supplies are expensive. I put everything I wanted to make a few pieces that are burning a hole in my brain, and, wouldn't you know, $150!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So. I bought supplies to make one piece. You will almost assuredly never see anything I make. But, just know, I've decided to not need to make things that are mind-blowingly wonderful in order to enjoy making. So there, part of me that can't handle not being immediately good at something. Take that! You won't quash my creativity under the weight of shame any longer. Also, you're a poopyhead and we're breaking up.

[It's actually more likely that we'll just drift apart.]

01 March 2013

YAWL!!! Fundraising Friday Edition

Exciting news to report! As of 2/25, people have donated $1,375 to Lifesong for Orphans on behalf of our adoption!

I have to confess, I've started a post a couple of times to address my fundraising fears. It's one thing to do things like garage sales and bake sales (where you provide a good or service). I doubt anyone reasonable would have a problem with fundraising those ways. But outright fundraising? Another story.

There are people whom I love and respect (and whose respect I'd enjoy having) who do not think it's right to fundraise for an adoption. And I understand a lot of the reasons behind it. I feel especially vulnerable giving letters to people I care about and not knowing if they'll think less of me for having done so. It's painfully clear to me that I don't have $12,000 laying around to pay for our adoption ourselves. It's also clear to me that, due to the nature of our job, it's probably not wise to take out a loan to repay that sum over time (besides, my husband reacts to debt as if he has a fatal allergy; I know there would be no way to convince him it was wise to borrow money for pretty much anything except our house). So, although we will do whatever needs to be done to raise the amount we need to bring home our child, here I am, little envelopes in hand, a bundle of nerves.

So, as you can see, at least some people aren't offended by our letters! Yay! It's so... humbling. and overwhelming. Honestly. Here's my train of thought. I know what kind of mom I am: a normal one. I do some things well; I struggle in other areas. No supermom in this house! But to have people who know me believe in our ability to parent a child well enough to give money entrusted to them by God in order to make that happen? Crazy. Crazy. Srsly.

Also, generosity. My heart is whelmed. As my friend Macie says, "melty heart!" I have melty heart for my friends' sacrificial giving to make our dream come true.

So, $11,750 - $1,375 = $10,375! So close to being in the single thousands! ...the not-ten-thousands? the four-digits? Ah, you get it.

27 February 2013

Women's Retreat Recipes

Here are the recipe's I used for the food at the women's retreat:

Buttermilk cupcakes (for the nutella cupcakes; also minus the sprinkles, obvs)

Nutella frosting

Spice cupcakes

Buttercream frosting (I added 1.5 teaspoons peppermint extract)

The apple pie filling was a family recipe I'm not allowed to share, but here's the recipe for the gluten-free crust I made (I used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose)

The Slow-Cooker spiced steel-cut oatmeal

Smoked paprika vinaigrette

Cilantro-lime ranch

Sunrise punch

I didn't do dinner, so you're on your own with that one.

The breakfast casserole is 12 eggs, 1/2 bag tater tots, a sprinkle of black pepper, and a covering of cheddar cheese. Throw it in a 9x13 and stick it in the oven at 350 for ~45 minutes. Easiest peasiest.

That's it! :)




26 February 2013

Eep!

Sorry for the dead airwaves, friends. Doing the food for our church's women's retreat had my schedule full beyond reason. Last week I did nothing but take care of mine and Ezra's basic needs (Stephen fended for himself!) and food planning and prep for a weekend of feeding 125 women.

I want to tell you some things I learned.

I learned that, if you consider your service as a gift, it can be hard to not be offended when people don't receive it that way (like asking for something more, like hot chocolate, when you literally made over 100 cupcakes, 3 apple pies, gluten-free brownies, and gluten-free lemon bars).

I learned just how emptied I can be. Praise God, I came to the end of myself. Because, for heaven's sake, I needed to know.

I learned how carefully I must watch my thoughts when I'm tired. Of course a college girl's "worst night of sleep in [her] life" involves going to bed at 11 and waking up every 2 hours until 8am. She doesn't know that I never ever get a night of unbroken sleep, and that I just got kind-of-five-hours of sleep so I could get up and make breakfast for her. I shouldn't expect her to know that, and I shouldn't be bitter that she's a college student and not an exhausted mother who's overextended.

I learned that it really is sad when I refrain from speaking love and blessing in my friends' lives because it makes me vulnerable to them. I never have had super-close friends, and I think this is a big reason. I love having close friends, but I honestly believe no one would want me as a best friend. And I really am okay almost all the time with all my friends having closer friends than me.

I learned that there is still joy to be had when you have nothing left.

I learned that, when the rubber meets the road, the Holy Spirit is there to help me not be a horrible person to others (even as the battle rages inside).

I learned that people really like to eat breakfast casserole with ketchup, and people will come ask you even though 3/4 of the women have already gone through the line and surely someone would have asked before, right? RIGHT?

See what I mean up there? I have no grace. I mean, okay, I have a very teeeeeensy amount. Just enough to not be snotty out loud. I suppose that really can be summed up in that I learned that college students just don't realize that the woman who's been in the kitchen LITERALLY FOREVER (I went there) probably doesn't need another person coming and asking for something. Eat your casserole and you're welcome.


BUT

I learned that some people will come help you even though it isn't their turn to help or they're stressed about getting back and studying.

Some people will go out of their way to compliment your cooking and ask for the recipe.

Some people will tell you it makes them feel loved (happy day!) and give you a hug.

Most of all, I learned that women really, REALLY like liquid creamer. ;)

29 January 2013

Weaned!

And, just like that, after a week of not nursing, Ezra doesn't remember how to anymore. It's bittersweet; I really enjoyed nursing a toddler - our last-resort calming tool, our night-time sleep aid - all the benefits of nursing without the difficulties of him being breastfed only. Oh well. Ezra's officially a little boy now!

WotY

Finally, I found my Word of the Year (WotY)! Last year's word was freedom. Did I grow in freedom? Probably. I think, though, mostly I grew in my awareness of my own self-preservation. I wall myself in so no one can hurt me; but then I can't get out either. To stretch the metaphor, there are so many layers I've added to my fortress over my lifetime that one year isn't nearly enough time for me to say, "Ta-da! Healed! Wall down, moat filled in, barbed wire and electric fence and attack dogs all neutralized." But you know God. He tells us the same Story over and over, and it's better every time.

Anyway, I've been wandering all over my mind asking the Lord, "This word? This one? Oh, this is a good one! Is it that one?" But none of them were right. But finally it clicked.
Thankful.
I need a thankful heart like I need oxygen. This semester has me working 3-4 times what we'd planned for me to work (all with Ezra). On top of that, there are one-time things, like planning the food (and a breakout session) for our women's retreat, doing our taxes, selling our car and buying a new one, planning our Spring Break trip, fundraising for our adoption, etc. Ezra's definitely acting like a two year old (my darling fallen son). I've started a new workout routine and a new way of eating. And really I don't feel like I have a handle on a single one of those things. But they're all here, so I have to find a way to deal with them that isn't me losing it on the most important people to me. I run to things to bring me comfort; I try to escape for a while; I take it out on my husband who just doesn't understand and my son who really doesn't understand. But what I need is a thankful heart.

I have such a beautiful life. Do I wish every part of it were the way it is right now? No, duh, this is actual life. Actual life is refining. I'm so glad God uses actual life, because I'm sure not going to refine myself. Instead of being cranky at the situations God is giving me to learn and grow in, I want to be thankful. 

[*note: God, this is not an invitation to heap more things on. Love, m]

23 January 2013

I don't know how to say this.

Because I've been there. And I mean actually there, making the decision that only a wee percentage of people have had to make compared with those who talk about the implications of that decision.

On Sunday, my birthson M turned 7. SEVEN! Time flies. Oddly enough, Sunday was also "Sanctity of Human Life" Sunday. Now, listen, I'm not going to get "preachy," because, as I said earlier, I've been there. I've been at the moment when your world goes for a swim in front of you, and everything gets kind of floaty, and time really does slow down because holy $h!t you're pregnant. [look, I'm just saying what I did when I found out. I don't say that word now.]

I'm so glad I had people in my life who told me as a teen that, if I decided to have sex, I needed to know what I would do if I were to get pregnant. I'm so glad I was raised to believe that a fetus is a person. But I'm most glad that I had given my life to Jesus two weeks earlier, so I had the Holy Spirit to help me.

I don't know if there was one factor that was more important than others or what, but I just never thought that abortion would "make it all go away." But, now that he's older, I can't help but wonder if people know how it's the same thing to kill M now as to have killed him when I was 8 weeks pregnant. It cannot be anything other than the same thing, because that fetus is now M. He has food preferences and big blue eyes and a wonderful personality. It would be a travesty for him to die. And I wish there was some way to lovingly communicate this to girls and guys who are there right now. That a person's a person, no matter how small. Let this person live. They will be beautiful and uniquely themselves and will add to the world.

It's hard to lose your life for a while. It's hard to let your body change and have people give you looks and feel such pain for someone you don't know. It's hard. But the opposite of that is not giving that person a chance to live at all. M deserved to have life. I know that my need for justice is showing, but it's only fair. I don't get to take a person's life because they've drastically changed mine. It's not my right. And I know because I was there seven years ago.

I think of seven years ago and the old cracks in my heart open a little. I so desperately wanted to keep him. I was so not ready to be a parent. I held him in the hospital all night my last night there, mourning. But I did the right thing for my situation, and I have no regrets.

If you've had an abortion, please understand that I don't judge you at all. That time is so intense it's almost an alternate reality. I believe it as much as I believe in the air I'm breathing: God can redeem anything. Jesus died so we could be forgiven of everything, and He really does forgive everything.

14 January 2013

Welp.

Well, we didn't get the matching grant we were hoping for. We haven't received any outright grants or matching grants. We still have two left to apply for (once we have accepted the referral of our child).

I just got the news an hour ago, so I'm still a little discouraged, but I know it'll be okay. I'm glad that there are so many people adopting that there aren't enough grants to go around, you know?

Anyway, we'll still be fundraising through Lifesong for Orphans; they're great because they don't take out any administrative fees (except for credit card fees). That means every dollar you give will go towards an adoption (so, even on the off-chance more than the amount we need is raised, they will put it towards other adoption funding).

An important note: since we also raise our GCM support for work, we are not allowed to fundraise to supporters for our adoption (as in it's illegal!). So, if you support us financially through GCM, we cannot contact you. I will have a link to the Lifesong Paypal account when our support letter is approved, and you can also email me at [myname]@gmail.com if you'd like to receive a letter.

We will have other ways to support our adoption, but some people like to just give money (or receive a tax benefit from donating), while others like to buy things in support. We definitely have a few more things up our sleeves in that respect: our craft fair/silent auction, which will happen later in the Spring, and Stephen's finishing up a couple of songs he's written and recorded to sell for our adoption.

Stay tuned!

06 January 2013

Sundraising (that's fundraising on a Sunday)

Financially, things are looking good: we have $3,333 in the bank for our adoption and should be hearing soon about a matching grant opportunity - hopefully next week!  Big shout-out to Stephen and Ray for a partial roofing job that brought in $500! David and Ben helped out too (they definitely shaved at least a whole day off the job). Roofing a house during your winter break is an obvious sign of love and devotion. We have good family.

My mother and I have started working on something that should become a craft fair/silent auction of sorts, so if you have something to contribute, give me a shout! We'll also be doing another garage sale around the beginning of March. :-)

Another good bit of news is that the adoption tax credit has been made permanent. It's not a refundable credit, so you essentially stop paying taxes from your paychecks, and the amount you owe the government at tax-time is subtracted from the credit. Oddly, I feel better about this way of "getting something" from the government, as we're not receiving a pre-allotted amount of money -- we're just not paying taxes during the year we adopt. It also frees us to put that money towards our adoption at the time the costs are incurred, rather than paying it all and being "reimbursed" during the next tax year. We won't use the full credit, just for the expenses we cover out of our own pocket. Sound fair?

I have an overdeveloped need for fairness. I was, indeed repeatedly, told that life isn't fair. But oh well. We will continue to pay our regular tax amount for the next few months to get a better grasp on how likely we are to adopt this year.

Also some greatly-needed news is that my father will most likely have enough frequent flier miles to get all of us to Uganda and back!!! Talk about a load off! Apparently tickets to Uganda are not many more "miles" than tickets to Chicago... ? Companies are so weird. I've still included a one-way ticket for baby A, since we may or may not need to buy it - you don't always get a nice, long amount of time between when you receive your court date and when your court date actually is, which greatly affects the number of miles needed per ticket.

So here's where we stand:

Agency fees left: $3,500
Lawyer and court fee: $2,500
Orphanage services/humanitarian aid: $2,250
Baby A's visa: $230 (the Department of State lowered this fee by $174!)
In-country medical exam (required for visa): $100
Document mailing US-Uganda-US-Uganda, etc: $300
Immunizations: $400 (only a couple are expensive, but boy are they!)
Airfare estimate: $1,500 (one way for baby A)
Ugandan visas for 3: $150
Lodging for 30 days: $1,800 (we'll be there 3-5 weeks)
Food estimate: $300
Car service estimate: $1,000 (seems crazy expensive! but what are you gonna do with two little ones?)
Court report for re-adoption in the US: $500
Citizenship certificate: $550

Less our $3,330, we have $11,750 left to raise! [for reference; just 5 months ago, we had over $19,000 left to raise!!!] And remember, we still don't need any money until we receive the referral of our child (except for immunizations, which we obviously have the funds to cover). So nothing is terribly urgent; we're just slowly building up the pile, since, once we need it, we will use the whole $11,000 in just a couple of months' time! I CAN'T WAAAAIIIIIT! :D

05 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Howdy howdy howdy! [yes, we watched Toy Story today. Stephen's out of town and E woke up at 5:45, so today was about survival.]

It's 2013! I think this will be a doozy [really? "doozy" isn't a word?] of a year. Hopefully we'll bring home baby A this year! I admit, I had a hard time over Christmas, thinking it could very well be another Christmas before we have our child in our arms. And just missing our next child and feeling helpless to speed up the process. And the news of Russia legislating an abrupt end to adoptions from the US... my little, flimsy hope was faltering. But, just as I was starting to freefall, the Lord scooped me up and puffed some life back into my piddly hope. What a weak thing it is! But ever growing - you have to work something out for it to get stronger; I'm glad I'll end this year with better hoping muscles.

Our agency has also told us they've began to seek the Lord about partnering with another orphanage baby's home in Kampala. Please pray God would make it clear what His will is (of course, we'd love for it to end up being His will so more kids would be adopted in the same amount of time, AND we would bring home our kiddo faster!).

I think that's all the news for now! Tomorrow will bring a fundraising update. Your favorite, I know!

Oh my goodness! I forgot to tell you: we're #14 on the waiting list! So 10/1 was #18; 1/1 #14 (there were numbers in between; I just like that it's at the start of the month. Nice and clean.]