Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Serving Others Together...

First, let me preface this by saying that even the title of this blog post sounds a bit euphoric... So... let me set the record straight... What I'm about to say is all true... BUT is mixed in with tantrums, poor choices, and complete chaos...

Since reading Radical... I've been praying about ways to serve the poor in our community alongside my kids. Our evenings are very full, and the days that aren't are that way intentionally, so I knew I needed something to fit us during the day. Just last week, some gals in our small group at church mentioned that they are going to do MOPS at the Housing Authority in the town where we live. BUT they needed someone to keep the Moms kids occupied while they met. Hmmm... I started to think that we could actually do that! So... today was our first day! We finished our school work before 9:30, the kids played for a while... and then we headed out the door with a BIG O' BAG of some of our favorite toys and games to play. We had about 4 other kids that joined us there... and for 2 hours we just played with them! They were all GREAT! Bubbles, coloring sheets, parachute play, singing, bowling and snacks! It was fun to give our time away like that together.

I used to think that I was in a "stage" of my life that I "couldn't" serve the poor... especially WITH my kids DURING THE DAY! But, I really believe that we can teach our kids all day long within our 4 walls... send them to church every Sunday and Wednesday... but until they learn to interact with people different that themselves, show them love, share their toys, and be in an environment that isn't "their everyday"... our Christianity becomes about us instead of what Jesus really intended it to be about... OTHERS.
My favorite part (we always talk about our favorite parts of our experience or day at home) was seeing my kids play with the other kids and there really wasn't any difference...and they didn't notice any differences. I love that. So... in 2 weeks, we go back and do it again... 3 hours of our time 2xs a month. Small impact, but it offers a BIG experience for us all!

Z's favorite part: "Playing balloons with the other kids."
KG's favorite part: "Playing with the kids, and the kids, and the kids." :)
E's favorite part: "bubbles."

So, before you think anything that you shouldn't... please know that this definitely WASNT easy! It was right during lunch and nap time... the kids were on the edge... my house is a wreck from running out and in so quickly... and again... tantrums occurred, the need to be reminded of sharing occurred, my own frustration...the whole bit... NO EUPHORIA, but well worth the time! I just want my kids to know how to relate to and love many... and honestly... those kids are so lovable this should be a pretty easy one!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The day everything changed...

‎"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." David Platt

I read this... and it just shook me... and took me back to the time when I couldn't name ONE orphan by name- When I didn't want to think about all the fatherless children, their conditions, and their need.... I remember a time that it was so overwhelming that I wanted to stick plugs in my ears to block out their cries. I ALSO remember the first time I stood face to face with an orphan. I was nervous, unsure of what to say (especially since my "spanglish" was a little off), and didn't know what to even do with them. I was in Nicaragua and I was 19 years old. I spent more time painting a room than I did loving the kids.. because I just wasn't sure. Yet, I knew in my heart... "I need more of this."

21 years old... and I find myself standing in one of the largest orphanages in Guatemala. It's night, and I'm sitting in the middle of what would be filled with soccer balls and kids during the day... yet it is completely silent. And I lay, looking up at the sky... and in the complete darkness, I saw the MOST beautiful stars I've ever seen. It was THAT moment that I knew my life would be changed FOREVER. Because in the complete darkness of the stories...horrific ones... I saw the most beautiful children...the stars of THE FATHER's eyes. I saw Jesus transform children from darkness to light... from ashes to beauty... and I felt Jesus inviting me to be a part of THAT! It was that trip, November 2000, that I knew their names, their stories, held the child no one wanted to because they were covered in lice, scabies, and HIV+... It was THEN that I became "Gloriously Ruined" for the sake of HIS children. How could I ever forget the things I had seen? How could I forget the 50 2year olds putting themselves to bed and crying to sleep? How could I forget the nightmares they had a night with no one to calm them? How could I forget the stories of restoration? I COULD NOT FORGET THEM! What once was something SO uncomfortable...now was literally a part of my oxygen... I can't STOP loving orphans. I can't DO ENOUGH. And I DIDNT do this... God did... He changed my heart with some pretty amazing little children... who are now beautifully grown teenagers. And the Why is always JESUS.

Do you know an orphan by name? Can you remember holding them and feeling the ache of leaving them behind? If not, GO. There are SO MANY wonderful ways to GO. GO AND PRAY. GO AND LOVE DEEPLY. GO AND BE CHANGED. I DARE U 2. (shout out FBC McKinney)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Conversations I REALLY want...

There are so many conversations that take place surrounding adoption. I think most adoptive moms (especially those who have children that "look" different) would agree that a warm conversation surrounding adoption is always welcome. In addition, even one of "those" conversations often isn't meant out of harm. AND while I write about the crazy conversations, we have positive conversations almost daily with families desiring or curious about adoption.... and not only that, have had NOTHING but positive support from our family and friends. But I am often taken back by the lack of tact or wording that often comes my way. I truly want to believe it isn't what is in their heart... but rather the lack of understanding how to phrase things. So, I thought I would make a list of what is OFTEN said, and what we REALLY want to hear. So... hear it goes... and other adoptive moms... feel free to add to my list! :)

1. "Are all those kids yours?"
*Rephrase (as I often say to my kids...haha) "Wow, your kids are so cute/full of energy/wonderful...pick ANYTHING..." We would rather someone ASSUME they are ALL MINE rather than ASSUME they aren't. This just really puts so much negativity onto the child who is "different." Eventually our kids will figure out "oh... they are asking that because E has brown skin and ours is white." No thanks on making him feel different in a negative way. AND if they "aren't" all mine, I'll just say ... "Actually these 3 are mine and these 2 are my neighbors kids." No harm is done and it really isn't offensive to assume they are mine. If nothing else, the mom who IS ACTUALLY babysitting may just get a little laugh.

2. "Where's his real mom?"
*Rephrase: Well, there is no rephrase. My answer would be "you're looking at her you big..." ok... but really? 1. I'm his REAL mom. If you mean "biological mother", then use that phrasing. BUT 2. Don't ask. Adoptive parents are usually encouraged to protect a story that isn't theirs to begin with. So, if they wanted you to know... you would know. I think it is ok to ask what the childs story is... and the adoptive parent will be prepared with a story that is appropriate for the person asking. AGAIN: NEVER ask this in front of the child or other children!

3. "Are you going to have any more of your own?"
*Rephrase: "Do you think you will have more biological children? Why did you choose to grow your family through adoption?" This phrasing allows for a family to actually share their story and what God has done and is doing in their lives through adoption. However, the first question immediately places the conversation focus on defending the phrasing of "own children" instead of being positively focused on our choices to build our family through adoption.

4. "That's such a wonderful thing you are doing."
* Rephrase: "You are so blessed to have all of your children." What I think is so crazy is that NO ONE EVER says to a pregnant lady or a lady that just had a baby "That's so good of you to do." It just DOESNT MAKE SENSE. To adoptive families, the statement of elevation MAKES NO SENSE. It is NOT something GREAT we are doing. We are growing our families in the way God has called us to... we aren't rescuing... but instead we are the ultimate receivers of the blessing of life. Children are a blessing from the Lord, regardless of how they became a part of a family. What is interesting is that the idea that I "did something great" by adopting our children suggests that they are NOT a blessing.... it's in our language when discussing with others their biological children... but for some reason it just doesn't transfer to adopted children in people's minds. TRANSFER it to your mind. We are nothing... we are not doing a wonderful thing... we are being blessed beyond belief. It's actually kinda selfish. ha.

Those are some of the main statements that I get. Don't feel like you have to tip-toe around me... I'm fairly gracious... but as my children age... I really want to make efforts to educate others on their weight of communication choices. :) And... I'm praying God prepares me for responses that are powerful when E gets to the point that he "gets" what others are saying...
Until then, I'll just gently re-direct, rephrase, and try my best to be filled with grace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

one of THOSE conversations...

I just have to share my conversations, in part to process and in part to just hope that some other adoptive mom out there who is having the SAME conversations in her life will not feel as weird or crazy... it just seems to be the way it goes.

Yesterday I was having a conversation on the phone with a close friend. She was asking about "if we still only have 3 kids or if we have 4 yet" (she is close in that we have been friends for a LONG time, but not always up to date with each other) I said that we are getting closer to 4 every day! Then the short conversation took place "Well that's great, then you can have another one of your own and have 5" Me: "They are ALL my own, you know." friend: "Yeah, I know, but you are going to have another one, right?" me: "Why would I?" friend: "It would just be special." REALLY? I do NOT even KNOW what that means? me: "well, to me, they are ALL so special, and pregnancy was NO MORE special than adoption. We have no intentions of having any more biological children. OF all the ways we could add to our family, biological is on the bottom. I wouldn't be devastated if God surprised us, it is just not the way we are choosing to build our family. " silence...subject change. :)

I guess this is the first time we have been asked if we will "HAVE" any more children biologically. I guess people are wondering as we continue to add through adoption. So, let me just air my laundry here... No, there are NO plans. When I see my future... here is what I see (and who knows what God sees) I see lots of kids... We have a heart for special needs children, we love Africa... we love foster care... we love minority domestic adoption... so when I stack up my desire to get pregnant with those passions and callings... it's at the bottom. I truly do not believe pregnancy is the "first choice" and adoption is "second." In our family... we view BOTH as being equally viable, beautiful, blessings... and they have been EQUALLY fulfilling for our family. There is not one part of me that feels like I am "sacrificing" by not having any more biological children so that I can adopt children. Being a mom to both biological children and adopted children is the BIGGEST BLESSING OF MY LIFE. And at the end of the day... I forget that I didn't "have" E.... because I love him as if I did.

So... I don't know if this is helpful to read in preparation of questions you may get one day... questions you have towards a family like ours... or you have had the same experience. I just want to say... Adoption is no consolation prize... it's the real deal... and one of the biggest privileges of our lives that we could have missed out on...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

USCIS news....

Well friends... I've had a productive am thanks to my God-send Ms. M for helping me a couple of mornings a month! I have mailed off documents for authentication in Austin (because I have no time to drive there myself+3) and I spoke with USCIS. I got the sweetest lady on the phone, Praise God, and she was looking up our case. We aren't in the system yet because the Dallas office was 6 weeks LATE on mailing the stuff to the NBC. (National Benefits Center, not the TV station..ha) BUT this lady was so sweet and looked for 20 minutes. She FINALLY found my request and said that she would amend the 171h to special needs TODAY and get it in the mail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY JESUS!!! This is the LAST document missing from the dossier. SO, it looks like my prayer of getting my dossier to Ethiopia by court re-opening is going to happen! YAY! AJ.. we are coming!!!!!! I can't say how great that makes me feel... to be honest, I haven't spent a ton of emotional energy in the adoption process to this point because so many things have been out of my control. (lesson learned from adoption #1)... This has freed me up to be available for my 3 at home. I say this because I don't find myself with a "lot of extra" to give... so I'm excited to be excited!

I was asked the other day (I get asked a lot of questions)... if we were going to hault our adoption or change to a healthy infant if E tested positive for CF (October 5th...pray). I have to be honest, Mr. McB and I have prayed about this. We want to be CERTAIN that we are still moving in the direction that God wants us to go. AND as CRAZY as it seems, God has given us great peace that we are moving in the RIGHT direction. Although, HE assured that HE is setting the pace of this adoption and it may NOT be the pace I WANT, but that I NEED. So... we move forward, trusting God's timing. If E has CF, then we will just have 2 children with chronic illnesses. BUT, E has asthma so severe, that the treatment wouldn't be that different, from my understanding. The difference would be the long term outcome... and THAT I'm NOT dwelling on right now. No need to "borrow trouble" as my friend said...

God is Good... He gives us what we need... He equips us for the calling... He gives joy... speaking of joy.. please look at these and LAUGH with me!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweet AJ....

Well, our little girl is now affectionately called A.J. and I think it is perfect! This next week promises movement... I just feel it! I am getting all our documents authenticated and praying our updated 171 comes back! This is doable, right?

While this is happening, I am developing this crazy feeling inside... like I'm going to meet my little A.J sooner than later. I don't know, maybe she is being born this week... or something significant is going on... maybe it's just that my paperwork is FINALLY getting ready to be out of my hands and this frees up some emotions for other things... so.. I just wanted to write my little AJ a note....

My AJ Angel...

Half way around the world... there is a family waiting for you... praying for you... for your health...for your protection... and for all that surrounds you. You are precious... and eagerly anticipated! Your big sister.. KG is BESIDE HERSELF to share her room with you and to paint your fingernails "all by myself" she says...
I'm finding myself wondering what it will feel like to hold you close. As I have learned already... lucky for you you aren't the guinea pig here... God's timing is perfect and He will hold you FOREVER.... that includes now... while we aren't there. We love you... you are loved... God has an amazing plan for your life... and for ours as we move together as a family. miss you! WHERE ARE YOU FOR GOODNESS SAKES?

love... your mommy....

Friday, September 17, 2010

When life isn't what you expected...

When I expected ease... I found perseverance

When I expected good behavior... I found grace

When I expected a clean house... I found the need for a pure heart

When I expected feelings of happiness... I found contentment

When I expected sleep... I found rest

When I expected quiet... I found peace in chaos

When I expected perfection... I found the perfecter...

When I expected fun... I found the meaning of true joy

When I expected bliss... I found commitment

When I expected health... I found sovereignty

When I expected love... I found it in abundance....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When I say Finger...you say Prints!

Woot!!! Ok, I thought the pictures above really demonstrate my excitement! ha! We got our fingerprints yesterday! YAY! So, hopefully by the end of this month our dossier will be in Ethiopia!!! That would be amazing to say the least! We shall see. We are waiting on our updated I171H to be changed to special needs, and then we are good to go for sending the dossier! Can I get a WOOT!!!!???!?!?!?!?!
So, what happens next? Yeah, not sure. We are waiting for the amended 171h and then send the dossier. THEN we will be officially ready for a match... which not sure how long the wait will be...??? We are indeed requesting an infant 0-12mos because I don't think this mama can take another 2 year old AT THIS MOMENT...ha.
We really really REALLY want a girl, but are NOT closed to a boy either. So, we will just wait and see. Hopefully by the end of the year, we will know our baby! Here's to hoping! cheers!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

God's always preparing us....

Well, there has been SO much excitement at our house over the last week! A visit from Uncle Dan, followed by KG's Pixie Dust at Dusk birthday party, tail gated by Zs first soccer game on Saturday (18-4, btw) and ended with a visit from Will and Trey Haun...cattle drive and fountain play! whew.... All this to say.. it has been MORE THAN FUN!

IN the midst of all the fun our family is having was a conversation with our pulmonologist's nurse about E. For those of you who don't know, E has severe asthma. Since the recent hospitalization, we have been discussing with the doctors about triggers and prevention. Last week they tested him for allergies and immuno-deficiencies. The nurse called back and told me all his tests were normal. Not only that, but he is not even likely to be allergic because his IGE (?) or something of that nature is very low... which is good. So we started talking about other possible triggers. That's when I asked about the possibility for testing him for Cystic Fibrosis. The nurses at the hospital recommended that I ask about that, but I had not done that yet...hoping that he actually tested positive for allergies and we would have our answer.
Anyway, when I mentioned this to the nurse, she stated that they would normally test for it, but because it is so uncommon in African American kids they had not. I kindly stated that he is not African American, per say, He is Ethiopian... and there is virtually no way of saying what the CF rate is in Ethiopia. She agreed that this raises some concern and possible need for further genetic testing. Not sure what that means. However, the nurse state that he has many of the symptoms and will be talking to the doctor about scheduling a test. Now we are waiting... and NOT reading any more about it online. I've read enough to scare me, and so I'm calling it a day on that... thank you very much. ;)

I was asked the other day if We would have adopted E if we had known he had asthma... and now possibly something even more severe.... I don't even have to think about the answer. YES.
Why wouldn't I? Yes, I spend many days dragging my kids to Drs appointments. Yes, we watch more TV that I would like because we have 4 breathing treatments a day (and that's maintenance), and yes we spend a ton of money on Drs, hospitals, and 7 daily meds. But I can honestly say I have NEVER thought about "if he were healthy...like we asked" ... what I can say is this... God was preparing us... and still is preparing us... equipping us for His purposes. I wouldn't have thought I could have done this at this point (which is why we didn't specify special needs on his adoption)... but GOD knew otherwise... and I'm grateful for that.
I'm trusting in His power, knowledge, and grace. E is one amazing kid... can't imagine NOT loving him....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"God is Gracious"

John means "God is Gracious"... John is our next child to pray for. He is 14 years old and like most boys his age loves sports, food, and video games. He is doing very well in school, and is on the honor roll. He cares about his appearance and has a great disposition. He is waiting for a family. John is FULL of potential. He will indeed rise above his circumstances, I believe. BUT, wouldn't it be amazing to see him share this potential with a forever family?

"God, I'm praying right now for John. I pray you bless His school work, his mind, and protect his heart from hurt. I pray you continue to bless him with charisma and give him an abundance of opportunities. God, I ask that you indeed show grace to John. I'm asking that you provide for him a family to share his life with, so that He may experience you to the fullest... and that the family may in turn experience you in a deeper way. Thanks for encouraging me through John, and the courage and effort he is clearly showing in life despite circumstances. AMEN."

*You know the drill.. pray this week for John. If you or someone you know is interested, let me know!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Project Life Tuesday... only it's Wednesday and...

...I don't even do Project Life! BUT, I'm trialing (is that even a word?) it to see if I can actually keep up. I'm not particularly organized... so here our week is... in reverse... in no particular order... yeah, this project will totally work...pahahaha

This is us making Mr. McBs birthday cake tonight!

Puzzle cakes from Wilton... It makes a train, rocket, or dump truck! Genius!

This was posted in the ladies room at Babes Chicken... if you know me and diet coke...

Celebrating the Mr.'s Birthday dinner....

Asthma ain't stopping this boy from gettin' his party on!

This week was full of "firsts"... This is Z's first Soccer practice. Dad is the coach! (yes that is E running towards the team... can't keep that kid loose for a second!)

This is our first day of "school"... we started a K curriculum for Z and the other 2 love doing toddler/preschool projects!

The kids started piling toys on top of Dad... and this is where that went...

Ok, really? Every single toy we own? awesomeness... convenient for Mr. McB... He was UNDER the pile... guess who headed up the clean up?