Immeasurably More

Ephesians 3:20-21 says...
     Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever.  Amen!

In my last post, I mentioned that we had 2 open doors to choose from, and that I would have some good news to share soon.  But I have so much more than that to share!  The Lord has done immeasurably more than we could have even thought to ask for!  More than we could have hoped for or expected.  I will say it again--He is always good.  And what He is doing right now is for His glory because it's certainly not because of anything we've done, and it's in spite of things we've tried to do.



This part of our story has been unfolding very slowly over the past 2 months.  I know that 2 months isn't a long time, but there were moments of uncertainty during those months that felt like they were lasting forever!  But all the while, God was going before us, paving the way for something new, something specific, something we weren't ready for 3-4 months ago.  Something beautiful and almost impossible.  Something He actually showed me over a year ago, but I didn't understand at the time...

In order for this story to make sense at all, I'm going to have to time travel a bit, so bear with me!  So, first, I have to revisit October 2012.  During the first week of October, we discovered that we were country-less.  The Colombia program at our agency changed, and we could no longer adopt younger children.  We did some research into other agency's Colombia programs and found that this is becoming an issue with Colombia itself and is not specific to the agency we were working with.  The young, healthier children are finding homes within Colombia, and there aren't as many young orphans in need of homes.  It was hard to be upset about Colombia not having enough young orphans in need...That's a good "problem" to have!

The agency we were working with had 4 Latin American country programs, so we figured that we would be able to find one that fit our family.  Since our trip to Guatemala, Michael has felt strongly about adopting from Central America.  The agency has 2 South American programs and 2 Central American programs. God has been speaking to me about Latin America in general!  I'd go to any one of those countries if that's where our kiddos are!  So, with this in mind, we started having several conversations with various people within the agency in an effort to nail down a country , and the bottom line we were given was this:  We needed to change the characteristics of the children we were willing to adopt.  The majority of the children who are in need of homes in Latin American countries are in the WIC program.  WIC stands for Waiting International Children.  In order for a child to be on the WIC list, they must have moderate-significant medical/developmental needs, be 8+ years old, or be part of a sibling group of 3 or more children who need to be placed together.  The characteristics of any of the kids on the WIC list are very different from the characteristics of the kids we had set out to adopt.  So, we prayed...a lot.  And God answered.

God started giving us a heart for waiting sibling groups almost right away.  We had been praying about adopting 2 siblings all along.  We began praying about the idea of being willing to open our hearts and our home to 3.  And God began to give us a heart for kids who are older.  Children with pasts.  Children who remember what life was like before the orphanage.  Children who have been hurt by the people who were supposed to take care of them and love them.  



So, I started looking at our agency's WIC list.  There are so many children all over the world who are considered "less adoptable" than relatively healthy, young children.  It's heartbreaking and overwhelming to scroll through some of these lists.  There are just so many kids waiting...  Because the agency that we were working with had 4 different Latin American country programs, they had a pretty long list of WIC to consider.  As I scrolled through the list, I read about little toddlers with HIV, older kids who are healthy (some of them born while I was still in high school!), and a few sibling groups of 3.  And as I read each little profile, my heart hurt for the kids in the blurred-out photos, but I just couldn't picture us bringing any of them home.  I wasn't even sure yet if this was what the Lord was calling us to do.  I just knew He was asking us to be open to it.

And then I saw them.  A sibling group of 3.  Two boys and a girl with black hair and blurred-out faces.  Their ages were listed as 9, 7 and almost 3.  Their first initials were the only identifying information available.  There was a short paragraph telling a few details about each child, and as I read through the profile, I had this nagging sense that this moment was somehow significant--that something was about to start happening.  And as I read and re-read their profile, I started to picture the faces of these children--in particular, the face of the girl.  In my head, she looked a whole lot like someone I'd seen before--someone I'd spoken to in a real crazy dream last summer.  Someone who even had the same first initial as the girl in my dream.  But it was more than that, even.  The girl in my dream had 2 brothers, one older, one younger.  When I wrote about the dream, I attempted to guess the ages of the kids that I saw, and they were very similar.  They were the ages that these kids will be next year.   (And I'm so glad I wrote a blog post about this dream because I had to go back to it to remember some of the details...  Read about it here.)

When I first had that dream, I knew it wasn't an ordinary dream, but I don't think that I ever, for one second, considered the possibility that the kids I saw were real and alive and waiting somewhere.  At the time, we were planning to adopt a baby or 2 very young kids. The idea of 3 kids who were older had never crossed my mind as even a remote option.  And I'm pretty sure it made Michael's list of "Things I Never Want to Have to Consider."

But consider it, we did.  With all of the crazy, specific details that lined up with this group of 3 (most of which I can't share because of confidentiality), I started asking Michael, "What if?"  What if they were real?  What if they are the same kids?  What if we pursue this?  Or what if we ignore it?  And it all boiled down to this:  We believe that God's ways are higher than ours, and that He leads in ways that don't always make sense to the world...or to us, for that matter.  And we believe that God speaks to people today in many different ways.  He spoke to us about adoption.  And so it was entirely possible that He spoke to me in a dream about these kids.

We started praying for clear direction.  I tried very hard not to become attached to these children in the meantime.  Whenever I prayed for them and about them, I literally held my hands open in front of me as a reminder to myself not to hold onto them too tightly.  But every time I prayed about what to do, I felt the Lord leading in this direction.  I think I was terrified that I'd fall in love with them while God was doing something completely different, and I think Michael was worried that God might be asking us to actually do this.  

 So, we decided to start asking questions.  Since the whole waiting children thing was rather new to us, we inquired about the process.  The agency we were working with has a strict policy against adopting out of birth order and a policy against what they call "artificial twinning," which in this case, means adopting a child who is within 12 months in age of one of the children already in the family.  Because we have a 4 and 7 year old, we really weren't expecting them to agree to even allowing us to consider this type of adoption.  But, they did...

We talked to our social worker and the director of our home study agency.  They were both a little surprised that we were considering older children, but they agreed to approve it and amend our home study.  Then, the agency decided to have a meeting to determine whether or not they would make an exception to their policies and allow us to pursue the adoption of these 3 kids.  So many unexpected doors had opened already...

I waited eagerly for this meeting to happen.  The agency wouldn't give us any details on the kids beyond what was in the vague online profile until this meeting took place.  We really just wanted to know their names--especially the girl's!  As we waited for news, I just kept praying and praying that God would make it really clear if these kids were not ours.  My heart was so heavy and full of expectation.  I would stop several times a day and ask God for peace, and I would ask Him to move--to cause someone from the agency to give us answers so that we would know what our next step is.  But the day we were supposed to hear back about the outcome of this important meeting, I got an email saying that the meeting didn't happen because the lady working on our case was sick.  

So, more waiting.  I think the week that followed felt like it lasted a lifetime.  I had already had so many battles in my head and heart about these kids.  I just wanted an answer so that I could either let myself love them or let them go.  I was literally checking my email every 15 minutes.  One afternoon, I felt particularly beat up by all the waiting and wondering, and I stopped to beg God for a phone call or an email.  And in that moment, I felt like the Lord told me to stop.  And I felt like He said to me, "  You're asking all the wrong questions.  Why are you begging me to move and cause people to give you answers that I already have.  I've already decided this."  So, after processing that for a minute, I asked God to reveal His plans for us and for these kids to me.  And in that moment, I felt like His response was this:  "Yes, this is exactly what I'm doing."

I felt joy and relief and excitement!  God had spoken!  He really was doing this, and I wasn't crazy for thinking so!  A few days later, the phone call from the agency finally came!  And they said no.

They said no.  They gave very little explanation.  They gave us no details on the kids.  They just said that it would be "hard" for our daughter because she is almost the same age as the girl in the sibling group.  They said they won't allow us to artificially-twin, and that adopting out-of-birth-order is "difficult."  They implied that it was wrong and awful, and that what we were asking to do would permanently ruin the lives of our biological children.  They implied that we did not have our children's best interests at heart.  They never once mentioned the well-being of the 3 waiting children as being a factor.  They told us that we should adopt from China or Russia.  When we told them (for the 3rd time) that we had a heart for Latin America, they told us we had to be willing to adopt a child with HIV or down syndrome.  They said if we wouldn't take a special needs child, then we couldn't adopt from Latin America at all.  We said, "But there are kids with minor needs--needs we feel capable of attending to--who are waiting just because they're older."  They said, "Yeah, but you can't adopt any of them."


I was literally heart-broken.  I cried for days.  Not just because of the 3 children that God had laid on my heart, but for all the kids who are older and waiting.  At one point, Michael worriedly asked me, "Are you ok?"  And all I could squeak out in between tears was, "I'm just so incredibly sad."  There are something like 163 million orphans on this planet.  Most of them are older.  And yet agencies have policies that prevent them from being adopted to families who want them and will love them and help them heal.  I just can't wrap my head around it.  And to top it off, their policies aren't even based on imperical research or evidence.  They're based on people's opinions and selected "bad experiences."  (Eventually, I will mount my soapbox and blog about the extensive research that my mom and I have done on the subjects of artificial twinning and birth order, and I'll explain why I'm now against such policies.)  My biological kids have me to advocate for their well-being.  So, who is advocating for the orphans, if not the agency?  There's something so very wrong about all of it, and I have to think that because God's heart is for the orphan, that this whole thing breaks His heart, too.  

It was blatantly obvious that we were at an impasse with the agency, and so we started talking to our social worker and exploring our options.  At first, I searched for those kids.  I found every agency in the US that works with Costa Rica, and I applied for their waiting children passwords so that I could scour their lists for these kids that God had laid on my heart.  I found a real, non-blurry photo of them, which broke my heart all over again.  But the only agency that had a photolisting for them was the agency that refused to let us consider adopting them.  And so, I let them go.  I told God that I trusted Him, and that if all of this was just so I would find out more about twinning and birth order so that we would be prepared for another group of kids, then I was ok with that.  And surprisingly, I really was ok with it.  

 We found a couple of agencies with promising Latin American programs that work with waiting siblings and do not have policies against twinning and birth order.  We narrowed it down to 2 countries: Peru or Costa Rica.  The one agency we were talking to has a ridiculously long list of waiting kids in Peru, and they have some sibling groups of 3 with younger kids in them.  And we also found a Christian agency with 5 Latin American country programs--2 of those being Peru and Costa Rica.  And for a week or so, I was really leaning towards Peru.  I had given those 3 precious Ticos (nickname for Costaricans) back to the Lord, and I was ready to move forward wherever.  But this was a big decision because we truly believe that God has specific children waiting for us, so this isn't something we felt we could decide with a coin toss.  So we prayed some more.  Talked it over a couple of times.  And one day, I told Michael that I felt 50/50 about it, and that if he was feeling led in one direction, then that's the direction I think we're supposed to go in.  He said, "Costa Rica," without hesitation.  So, Costa Rica it is.  This meant that we would be going with the Christian agency that we had found.

I had already been in contact with one of the ladies who is in charge of some of the Latin American programs at the agency, and she's amazing!  She genuinely wanted to hear our story and all about how God had been leading us to adopt waiting children.  When we chose Costa Rica, she put us in contact with another lady at the agency who runs both the CR and Peru programs.  And she has already been more incredible and helpful than we could have hoped for!  She has a heart for waiting children, like us, and she understands our calling, which for us, is critical.  And I still haven't even come to the best part yet!!!

So, she and I emailed back and forth for probably about a week about the CR program details. And I explained that we are looking to adopt a sibling group of 3.  I gave her the age range we were thinking, 2-10.  She explained that Costa Rica is really supportive of families adopting siblings because there are so many of them who need homes.  Then she offered to send me the agency's most current list of waiting siblings.  I was eager to find out what our options might look like, and hoping that we would find a group that was a perfect fit.  So, as I opened the pdf file last Thursday night, I immediately dove right in and started reading the profiles.  The first group of kiddos was a little older than we were hoping for, but I was trying to be open.  God could easily course-correct us again!  And then I got to the second group.  I started reading their profile, and after 2 sentences, my hands started shaking so violently that I could barely hold my iPhone still enough to read the tiny text.  It was them!  My heart almost exploded.  For real.  The first initials were the same, the ages were the same, and the descriptions were identical except this profile had more details!  And I felt like the Lord said, "I told you what I was doing..."  Michael was trying to go to sleep (because it was past midnight), but I made him stay up long enough to listen to me breathlessly and shakily read the descriptions to him.

We found them when we stopped searching!  And at that point, we hadn't even committed to sign on with that agency!  God had gone before us and paved the way and basically put up giant road signs saying, "Turn here!"  I let them go.  I was ready to go to Peru.  But all along, God was doing what He had said He was doing.  I emailed our contact at the agency and told her the story of the 3 kids and how God had laid them on our hearts, but how our old agency had said no.  I actually think her excitement almost matched mine, and that's saying something!  She sent me a photo to confirm their identities, and sure enough--it's them!  Now, we can't stake our "claim" on them until CR approves our dossier, which we have to put together and send--which could take a couple of months.  So, there is a chance that someone else could try to adopt them between now and then, but I am trusting the Lord in this.  He has already gone before us to get us to this point, and I truly believe that this is what He is doing.  I am trusting that He who began a good work in us (and in those little Ticos) will be faithful to complete it.

So, please, please, please pray for us!  We officially applied to the new agency today.  Our paperwork is being processed.  Our home study is 99% done.  We're so close to being ready for the dossier step!  Pray that things move quickly and smoothly and without errors or major roadblocks.  And pray for our funds!  If this all goes the way we think it might, we will be traveling to Costa Rica much sooner than expected, which means we have about $30,000 to raise/come up with!!  Yikes!  Pray for our kiddos here at home, as we work to prepare their hearts to accept 3 new siblings who have had a completely different life experience.  And pray for the Ticos, that God will begin to heal their hearts even now in preparation for a new start and a new family.  Jesus is the Redeemer--He can make anything new.  Pray that He'll do just that!  And pray for Michael and I, too, as we navigate this process while trying to prepare our own hearts for what's to come.  Pray, too, that if for some reason, these kids get adopted before we can get our papers to Costa Rica, that God will sustain us and gently redirect our path.  But I believe that God has already staked a claim on these kids on our behalf!  He is always good!

Here we were, thinking our exciting news for this blog post would be that we found an agency and picked a country!  God has done so much more than we could have imagined!  We wait in expectation for what He will do next!



He is Always Good

I've decided that international adoption is not for the faint-of-heart.  Were it not for my strong-willed, stubborn, kid-loving heart, and were it not for Jesus, I think I'd  be in pieces right now.  Literally.  There have been times when I've felt like I was in pieces, but somehow, because of His goodness, my heart is still intact.

As I look back at the very beginning of this journey, I'm amazed at how it's changed so much--how the path we've traveled has had so many more bends and u-turns than I expected.  Some of these bumps and curves have thrown us.   Most of the unexpected changes to our plans haven't been easy to take.  But we belong to a God who is good.  And although it's taken me awhile to see it, God has been in each and every redirection.  Each roadblock has been a gentle course-correction that is meant to lead us to the children that He has chosen for our family.  And when I think back to the day that God first spoke to me about adoption, I'm thankful that He didn't show me the whole plan all at once.  Because I think I would have run for the hills!  But my Father knows my heart, and He knows what it can and cannot handle.  And in His mercy, He has only given me small pieces of the puzzle to process.  I've learned not to get too attached to any one idea of what this adoption will finally look like when it's all said and done.  God is always course-correcting.  He is always guiding--even when things seem so messed up that it's hard to believe that He's in it at all.  But there has been purpose in every tiny detail of this.  He is always good.

Over the past two months, I've spent a lot of time asking God what in the world He is doing and trying to determine what I know to be absolutely true.  My heart gets too easily attached to my dreams.  And sometimes I'm afraid that I can't trust it to steer me in the right direction.  So, right now, this is what I know to be true: 1. God called us to adopt.  2. God has given us a heart for Latin America.  

Right now, we are still technically country-less, but I know that won't last for much longer.  God is moving.  He's opening new doors even now.  He is always good.  

When we started this, we assumed we would adopt a baby or 2 siblings under 4.  It "fit" with our family.  It "fit" with our dreams.  And that's why we felt God leading us to Colombia.  It was the only Latin American country where younger children were available for adoption.  It just fit.  But all along, God has been doing something vastly different.  He has been slowly shaping our hearts for something new--something we couldn't have handled 6 months ago.  He is calling us to adopt waiting children.  Waiting siblings, to be exact.  Probably 3 of them.  Maybe 2.  But probably 3.  One of them might be around Asher's age.  One or 2 of them may be slightly older than or close in age to Landyn.  But they will not be babies.  They will be children.

If God had revealed this to me that first day in April 2011, my heart could not have taken it.  My heart wanted a baby.  In a lot of ways, it still wants a baby, but God is gently taking that desire and replacing it with an irrational, wreckless love for His children who are alone and hurting.  This is not what I signed up for!  But over the past 6 weeks, God has been remaking my heart.  I  have felt like I was going to break almost every day.  I have ugly-cried...a lot.  And I have been holding my hands out, open, before the God who called us to this, asking Him to take from me anything that isn't of Him.  And He is good.  Always good.  When He takes something, He fills up that empty space with something from Himself.  And then, somehow, I end up wondering how I ever lived at all without the parts of me that He has made new.  He makes beautiful things...

And, in His goodness, God hasn't left me alone in this.  He's been remaking Michael's heart, too.  He's given me a husband who is willing to obey God even when it scares him.  He's given me a husband who remains calm and prays for me even when I scare him...with my ugly-crying.  He has given me a husband who is an amazing father to our kids, and who, when the time comes, will be a beautiful example of Abba to our new children who will desperately need to know God as their Father and Healer.  God has also given me 2 precious kids who love God and who are incredibly flexible.  They didn't even blink when I told them we won't be getting younger baby siblings.  He has given us extended family who are super supportive and a church family who prays for us constantly. 

So, right now, we have 2 doors that are open.  We are waiting to see which door God leads us through.  I'll have a whole lot more to share once a few more things have been decided.  And I have some pretty controversial issues to write about, like birth order and artificial twinning...Let's just say, we're getting ready to break some pretty big rules in the adoption world.  But that's a post for another day!

For today, I'm gathering and packing up all of our baby stuff to give to a friend who needs it more than I do.  Although I've known for awhile that a baby isn't in the plans for us, I haven't been able to part with most of my baby gear.  There are so many memories attached to each and every object and outfit.  And giving it away means facing the fact that the baby chapter has come and gone for our family.  So, it wasn't without tears that I scrubbed the high chair and the swing clean and gathered the scattered pieces of Asher's favorite jungle mobile from various parts of the house.  But we have to make room...both in our house and in our hearts, for who God is adding to our family.  And this is a good place to start.

Esperar

I love the Spanish language.  I plan to be fluent one day.  Hopefully sooner than later.  Sometimes, I like to read the Bible in Spanish on my YouVersion Bible app.  I discovered something beautiful the other day when I was reading Psalm 27:13-14 (which God put in my face 3 times in one day this week)...

Psalm 27:13-14
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord 
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD; 
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

(Note the theme: waiting.  Not once, but twice.)  That word, "wait," doesn't have a very positive connotation for me.  I tend to wait with impatience and anxiousness.  Oh, waiting.  Despite our best efforts, we're forced to do it all the time.  We have to wait at stop lights when we're running late.  We have to wait in line at the store when we have several other "TO DO's" on our lists.  We have to wait for results from the doctor.  And the list could go on forever...Good things come to those who wait, right?  But in our culture of instant gratification, we feel like we HAVE TO wait.  When do we choose to wait?  I know for me, waiting would never be a choice if I had any say in it.  But God calls us to wait for Him.  And He lets us decide what that waiting time looks like.  We can wait begrudgingly and impatiently.  We can despair over the length of our waiting time.  We can even be angry about it.  We don't like to wait.  But I don't think that "wait" was supposed to be a four-letter word (figuratively...clearly it's a four-letter word in English...).  If God commands us to do it, then He intends it for good.  There's hope in that...literally.

My Spanish name in high school was Esperanza.  Hope.  Verse 14 in Spanish says, "Espera en el Señor....pon tu esperanza en el Señor."  Wait for the Lord....put your hope in the Lord.  That verb, "esperar, " means "to wait."  It also means, "to hope."  In Spanish, waiting and hoping are the same.  Why do they feel like different ideas in my heart?  

I want to wait with hope.  Not with a despairing and anxious heart.  I need a daily reminder to wait with hope.  I think I found the inspiration for my first tattoo...



Country-less

I'm pretty sure that we could win some kind of record for "World's Slowest Home Study Paperwork Completers."  Our summer was so busy and went by so quickly. We've had little time to sit down and do paperwork.  So, yeah, we're still not done.  Our poor social worker.  She's been gracious toward us.  In a little while, I'm going to try to coerce Michael into doing a few more chapters of our homework.  Wish me luck.

And in the midst of adjusting to our new homeschool schedule and my Guatemala hangover (as a friend nicknamed it), our hearts have been doing some shifting.  After Guatemala, we felt the need to reevaluate the "where."  Michael never had a strong feeling beyond Latin America.  I believe that God directed us to Colombia from the start for some purpose, but my heart felt less certain about it being the birthplace of our future children.  

I used to have this little Colombia icon on my phone and laptop wallpaper.  It always made my heart leap with hope to see it pop up on the screen.  After Guatemala, I realized that I really didn't feel that anymore.  But I also knew that coming down from the spiritual highs of an amazing missions trip is not a good place to be making big decisions in.  To make a long story short, Michael and I talked about it and realized that we both felt our hearts being drawn to Central America.  Unfortunately, Guatemala is not currently an option.  Google "Guatemala adoption" and the word "scandal" and you'll find out why.  Guatemala won't reopen for years at this rate.  I know it would be our first choice, but right now, that door's not just closed--it's a door with about 47 deadbolts on it!

Our agency also happens to have a pilot program for Honduras.  We looked into it.  We prayed that God would open that door if that's where He wanted us to go.  For a few weeks, it looked really promising.  Almost too good to be true....because it was.  For all intents and purposes, that door is now closed.  

So, we were back to Colombia.  And honestly, none of this adoption stuff was ever our plan.  It's the Lord's.  And so, we went into this with no preference whatsoever about the "where."  So, if God tells us Colombia, then let's go to Colombia!  So, I began to reconcile myself with the idea that it was still Colombia.  My heart warmed to the idea again, yet I felt the need to stay open to God's leading.  I actually told a friend last Friday, "We're planning to adopt from Colombia, but we're asking God to change that if He has somewhere else in mind..."

Well, apparently, He does.  Last night, I accidentally discovered that our agency's Colombia program requirements have changed, and we no longer qualify.  They are only working with adoptive parents of Colombian descent and parents who are willing to take children with severe special needs, children over 8 (which they won't allow us to do anyway because of birth order), and large sibling groups.  And after some research, it looks like other agencies are doing something similar.  Colombia is no longer the go-to country for adopting younger children.

Where does that leave us?  I've emailed our contact at the agency asking that very question.  But for the time-being, we're country-less.  That doesn't sit well with me.  I like to have a plan.  When I asked God to close the door to Colombia if it wasn't the right path, I assumed that He'd show us another open door first.  

So what will we do?  I'm not sure.  Our agency also has a Costa Rica pilot program.  The website says they have sibling groups with children as young as 2.  That has potential.  And they announced yesterday that they received a license to work with Ecuador.  They have yet to post the requirements, but it definitely sounds like it's worth looking into.  Actually, about a year ago, I felt God laying Ecuador on my heart, but I thought it was about something completely unrelated to the adoption process....maybe I was wrong.  I've been begging God to speak.  He keeps telling me to wait.  So, like everything else in the adoption process, we'll be doing some more waiting...

Please pray for my hair to stop turning gray.  I'm going to look like an abuela by the time this is all said and done.  :)

Guate

So, it's been awhile.  Too long, in fact.  And Guatemala is largely to blame.  It's not that I've been in Guatemala all this time, although that would've been fine with me!  It's that Guatemala wrecked my heart in ways that I didn't think were possible.  I could write for days about what I experienced there.  It's taken me 2 months to even begin to process all of it.  I'll do my best to summarize...
This was my 7th missions trip.  I've seen need and poverty before.  I've fallen in love with little kids whose skin tones are much more beautiful than mine.  I've left a piece of my heart in every place I've served in, but I've always been able to come back and be comfortable in my life at home.  This trip was different.

The school where we worked in Xenacoj.

We stayed in a town called Santo Domingo Xenacoj in the mountains about an hour west and slightly north of Guatemala City.  Words won't adequately describe its beauty.  I fell in love with the Mayan people, the simplicity of their lifestyle, the mountaintop views, the bumpy van rides on terrible dirt roads, the missionary family we worked with, our AIM team leaders, and a little girl named Florecita.  Wanna know what it was like?  Go listen to the song, "Mountaintop," by the City Harmonic.  "We've been to the mountaintop. We've seen the glory of our God.  HE IS HERE!"  That's the only way I know to accurately describe what happened there.  God showed up.  We were ready.  Hungry people were fed.  Widows were blessed.  75 little souls found Jesus.  Many more were loved on.  Sick children were healed.  And people who were desperate learned that our God is El Roi, the God who sees.



Me and precious Florecita.

God broke my heart for the things that break His...in a way that I can't really come back from without being completely remade.  I've experienced so much joy and so much pain.  I left more than a piece of my heart there.  And I'm still trying to figure out how to live without that part...

So, what does that have to do with our adoption?  I'm still trying to work through that. But this is what I do know... Before this trip, I was adamant about adopting an infant.  It was a dealbreaker.  And as much as I'd still love to adopt a precious little baby with big brown eyes, God spoke to me as I sat on a dirty sidewalk holding a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl in my lap and crying my eyes out.  I don't need a baby.  After 5 days, I already loved that little girl like she was my own.  God showed me that I could just as easily love an older child.  My heart still hurts for her.  Literally hurts...for her and others like her.  Every single day.  I don't know what the Lord has in store for Flor, but I am holding onto the hope that I will someday get to hug her again.  One day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with grief, I cried out to God to show me what I'm supposed to do with the heavy burden in my heart.  He gave me Micah 7:7, which says, "But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."  I know He hears me.  I know He didn't break my heart without purpose....great purpose.  So, for now, I watch in hope for Him to reveal what's next...

¡Muchas gracias!

This post is long overdue!  I had intended to share the fantastic results of our Trash to Treasure sale right after it ended...yeah, that was a month ago already!  Our lives are crazy--mostly in a good way!  In addition to all this adoption paperwork, online training, fundraising, and home studying, I'm planning our church's VBS (with help from some amazing teenagers and college students), working on homeschooling stuff for and with my kids, and Michael and I are getting ready to leave for Guatemala this week for a 10-day short term missions trip!  So, all that to say, I have some valid excuses for taking so long to post, but now it's time to get caught up before I get too far behind! 


 Our Trash to Treasure sale was AMAZING because our church family is AMAZING!  When I first envisioned how this fundraiser would go down, I pictured a decent amount of stuff filling our church multi-purpose room.  But I never dreamed that so many people (including total strangers!) would donate so much nice stuff to our cause!  All I can say is that our church family is awesome beyond words!  When I originally mentioned the idea of a rummage/garage sale as a fundraiser, a lady from our church named Lisa contacted me and said that God had laid it on her heart to help coordinate the event.  I was like, "Great!  I love it!"  But she ended up doing so much more than coordinating!  Lisa poured her whole heart into this event to ensure that we raised as much money as possible for this adoption!  She gave up an entire week of her life!  She was literally at the church every day and some nights until midnight!  She had volunteers scheduled in shifts to work different areas of the sale and she made sure everything went as smoothly as possible.  I honestly don't think it would have been nearly as successful without her!  We are eternally grateful, Lisa!  :)






And the donations...all I can say is WOW!  I couldn't even take a photo that included everything in it.  And this picture was taken when we only had about 2/3 of the stuff collected!  I forgot to take another one right before the sale!  The amount of stuff was just overwhelming!  And we are so grateful to everyone who donated: the people in our church family, our own family members (my parents, Michael's mom, my grandparents, my cousin, Dawn), friends from college who I hadn't seen in 9 years, random strangers...  ¡Muchas gracias!



And then there were the volunteers who sorted and priced EVERYTHING!  There were so many people who came and gave up their evenings to stack the thousands of baby clothing items by size and price all of the tiny knick knacks!  And some of those people even volunteered during the sale, too!  To all of you, we say, "¡Muchas gracias!"


We also had a "Cupcakes for Colombia" bake sale!  And 2 ladies from church baked hundreds of ridiculously delicious and adorable cupcakes for us!  And some of my children's ministry girls from church volunteered all weekend to sell cupcakes for our adoption!  They were awesome at it, too!  They made us almost $200!

In the end, we made a grand total of $3852!!!  That will get us a long way!  It will pay for the rest of our home study and our training.  And it will pay for our next placing agency fee, as well!  In the beginning, I had hoped for $2000.  But God did immeasurably more than I ever could have asked for!  

So, the next step for us is to finish our home study.  We've had some delays in wrapping it up because we were having trouble getting scheduled for training at our recommending agency.  But, we got that all worked out, and we have training and hopefully another meeting with our social worker the week after we get back from Guatemala.  We had our fire inspection, which we passed with flying colors!  I was a nervous wreck right before it, but the guy doing the inspection was super nice and laid-back, which made it a pleasant experience for everyone!  


We apparently have to get our well water tested, and then finish up some paperwork, and hopefully we will wrap up our home study toward the end of summer...Then, we do more paperwork.  And a little more paperwork.  And a lot more paperwork.  Then our paperwork gets bundled together and translated and sent to Colombia!  From what I understand, once our dossier is in-country, the ICBF (the government agency that handles international adoptions) has to approve our dossier.  That could happen in a week...or it could take 6 months.  Then, once it's approved, we get put on the waiting list.  And we wait between 6 and 24 months for a referral call!


We are praying for smooth sailing all the way through!  We're asking God to do what should be impossible--no hiccups with 2 adoption agencies working together to send documents back and forth between 2 government agencies...asking for 2 kids under 4, which I was told is unlikely.  But God is bigger than government agencies and paperwork and statistics!  So, please pray with us that God will go before us and work all of the tiny details out!



Home Study Visit #1 Done!

This week has been kind of a disaster.  Let's see....where to start?  Well, let's start with last Friday.  I was running around like a crazy person trying to get everything ready for our last Super Saturday (a children's ministry event at church).  Then, I took my kids to my parents' house for our usual Friday night downtime.  We were all hanging out in the yard...my kids asked my mom to take them for a ride in the ranger, which is like a gator-a small off road vehicle that has a big bucket in the back to haul stuff...  I was minding my own business, swinging on a swing, checking FB on my phone when my kids asked if I would drive them in the ranger.  Sure, why not?  So I took them for a few spins around the yard.  Then, I hit the fence post and totally demolished the front right wheel and all that was connected to it rendering the beloved ranger completely useless.  Great.

Then, on Saturday, Landyn started complaining of a sore spot on her gums.  We checked it out, didn't see much, told her we'd keep an eye on it, and moved right along with our busy weekend.  

Sunday rolls around, and we go through our usual routine with a few Mother's Day extras.  Sunday evening, Landyn complained about her gums again.  We peeked around at her mouth and didn't find anything major.  Now, at 9pm when Landyn went to bed by herself without any books or snuggling, I should've known something was off.  At around 10, she started crying...but she was still asleep.  I kept trying to rouse her so she could tell me what was wrong, but she was incoherent.  She settled down and slept for a bit, but she was thrashing around and whimpering.  Landyn woke up 3 or 4 more times crying, but couldn't seem to tell us what was wrong.  It was unsettling.

I couldn't sleep that night because I just had this weird feeling of dread.  I kept checking on Landyn, but she seemed ok.  No fever.  No sickness.  More thrashing and whimpering.  

Monday morning, I woke Landyn up for school.  As soon as she sat up, I knew something was terribly wrong.  The whole right side of her face was more than twice its usual size.  Michael and I checked her mouth and discovered that she had 2 canker sores on the left side, but nothing obvious on the right.  She was still complaining about her gums....To make a very long story somewhat short, after seeing our pediatrician, who basically said, "I don't know.  Let's see what happens," and an emergency trip to the dentist (since I wasn't down with "waiting and seeing" what would happen to my daughter's ridiculously swollen face), we discovered she had an infected tooth. We were told to pick up an antibiotic and schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist.  (We've had really bad ped. dentist experiences, so this was not good news...)  OH, and did I mention that Monday was one of my 3 days set aside to get ready for the home study visit?  Yeah, so clearly I got nothing done for that...

Tuesday, I called the ped dentist first thing and explained her symptoms.  The receptionist said, "Get here now."  Not what I wanted to hear, but what I kind of expected.  The tooth wasn't just infected, it was severely abscessed and wasn't draining and the infection was spreading into her face.  By late Tuesday morning, her right eye was starting to swell...  They had to do a semi-emergency tooth extraction, and Landyn actually did wonderfully!  No tears!  (I can't say the same for me.)  Well, that ate up all of Tuesday, which is the one day of the week that I work by myself in my office to prep for Wednesday night programs. 

Wednesday, Landyn felt well enough to go back to school, so I started attacking the clutter in our house in attempt to be somewhat prepared for our home study visit.  I didn't get much done-maybe 1/3 of the things on my 3.5 page list.  Not so good.

Then, I had Wednesday night kids' programs, which I was totally unprepared for.  I'm never unprepared.  It didn't go very well.  Plus I was super distracted and exhausted for my all-day cleaning spree.  

Thursday: The big day!  I got up at 7:15, got Landyn ready and out the door (after she missed her bus due to a meltdown over her wardrobe), and started working on my Home Study Prep To-Do List (which was still about 3 pages long).  And finally, things started getting done.  I was able to check entire rooms off of the list.  I even made the beds in our house, which never happens.  And when I told Asher that we were going to make his bed, he said, "Make it what??" Ha!  Oh, and I took down all of the blinds and soaked the dust off of them in the tub.  I'm sad to say that was the first time the blinds have been washed in 7 years of living in this house.  I'm not exactly a neat freak.  Don't get me wrong...I like things clean, but I don't like having to actually clean them.  My house was super clean.  And my mother-in-law even rode her mower over and started mowing the back...until she ran over the dog's chain (which I forgot to warn her about in my distractedness)...So, she had to push mow our super-tall backyard, which was exhausting.  I seriously felt bad. This week has been such a weird mix of good and bad. 

Side note: Here's our super-clean living room!  For those of you who have been to our house at all since we started remodeling the kitchen back in November, this room is probably now unrecognizable to you without all the kitchen clutter!


And wait for it....Made beds.  This is a rarity in our house!

And did I mention that in a moment of insanity, I decided it was absolutely necessary to paint Asher's room before the home study?  Yeah.  But at least it's done!
 

Nevertheless, we made it to 6 pm with a few minutes to spare.  I was able to check every single to-do item off of my ridiculous OCD list, and I even fed the kids some dinner before our social worker got here!  

The home study visit itself was actually an enjoyable experience!  We really enjoyed chatting with our social worker, M.  She is super easy to talk to, which made the whole visit seem like more like socialization than an evaluation.  Plus, our kids were very well-behaved last night!  During the first half hour, Asher crawled up between Michael and I and fell asleep.  And Landyn quietly played on the iPad and read books in her room.  I'm not going to lie--I kind of felt like SuperMom because my kids were so good!  Even the safety audit part wasn't nearly as intimidating as I expected.  

So, first one's done!  Now we have lots of training and paperwork to do before we meet again!  As rough as this week started out, it seems to be ending on a high note!  I'm relieved to be past this first part and now I'm excited to keep moving forward in our journey!  And if you want to know what's next in our journey, it's our Trash to Treasure fundraiser garage sale!  Check out my next blog post for more details on that!  As always, we appreciate your prayers for our family!  

Moving Right Along...

Well, our home study is scheduled!  At least the first meeting!  It's May 14!  I guess I hadn't expected it to happen so fast.  I figured it would be at least summer before we started this part of the process.  But here we are!  


I'm going a little crazy now trying to look at our house through the eyes of a stranger who is supposed to be analyzing every detail!  And I'm seeing flaws in our home that I hadn't noticed or given too much attention to before...Like the spot where our old dog (now my mom's dog), Rosa, chewed a small portion of the woodwork on the steps.  Or the stain in the ugly blue living room carpet that I can't seem to steam clean out (probably an apple juice stain).  Or Asher's room in general: newer dinosaur themed bedding with the old nursery "under the sea" theme still painted on the walls.  Oh, and the serious clutter of crap on our dresser!  I just need a dumpster for that!  And then there's the kitchen remodel stuff still piled in random corners...thankfully, there's less and less of that every day.  And our garage!  Oh, we cleaned and organized it, but it's full of garage sale stuff!  We are going to look like hoarders!


But our social worker said she expected our house to look "lived in." So, I'm trying not to freak out too much about the little stuff.  We've got about a month to get this under control.  Declutter.  Organize.  It's stuff that needed to get done anyway!


On another note, we had to change something on our application regarding our kids' education...Wait for it....We had to uncheck the "public education" box because we are going to be homeschooling next year!  I know, it's something I swore I would never, ever do.  But like this adoption, it's something that I felt God calling us to do earlier this school year.  And I tried to ignore it.  Tried to fight it off.  But the calling just got stronger.  I haven't had peace about Landyn's situation at school--both emotionally and academically.  Literally, there was a 2 week period where she came home crying every day.  And there are some major safety issues in her building that are not being addressed.  I have disliked this school year on so many levels.  So, after much frustration and even more prayer, we decided to do it!  And we got our letter from the county yesterday saying they approved my curriculum plan for 2012-2013!  


Thankfully, our kids are super excited about this!  (Which is also a huge answer to prayer!)  And the dormant teacher who's been living inside me since I left my first grade classroom to stay home with Landyn is thrilled!  I will actually get some use of the 12 totes of teacher stuff in our crawl space!  And I get to teach my kids how to love to learn...not just how to take a standardized test.  (I've now met my set limit for jabs at our public education system, and I shall complain no more.)


Also, this will make it very simple for us to pack up and take our kids with us to Colombia at a moment's notice!  When the time comes... And part of our curriculum is learning Spanish, which will help my kids communicate and relate to their little sibs...if we get a toddler or preschooler who is already speaking Spanish.  


All in all, things are moving right along!  Once the home study is complete, we finish up our dossier (which will take months, from what I understand), and then it goes to Colombia!  And then we wait...some more.  But I've got homeschooling to keep me busy in the meantime!  So, I won't have time to be anxious!

Trims for the Tiptons

We had our first big fundraiser event today, called Trims for the Tiptons, and it was awesome!  One of our friends from church, who is a hair stylist who is currently staying at home with her 3 precious boys, volunteered to cut hair to raise money for our adoption!  And from there, the ideas kept coming...  It ended up being a mini-spa day with massages, manicures (with awesome hand massages), facials, and hair cuts!  In the end, we raised more than $400!


Earlier this week, we mailed our home study application to the local agency we are working with!  And before we can schedule our home study, we have to pay half up-front ($600).  Over the past month (after a friend prayed that God would provide money that we don't expect), we received $300 from mostly anonymous sources!  And with our $431 today, that puts us over the top!  So, we are on to the home study phase (as soon as we clean up this kitchen remodeling mess and declutter)!  


I'm just feeling really blessed right now!  And now we're onto the next fundraising event: the giant garage sale!  We've received a few donations of stuff so far, and we're pretty much out of space at our house!  Thank God for our church family and church staff for allowing us to use people's basements and the church building for this!  Otherwise we'd be buried in stuff before this thing's all said and done!


But just because we're out of space at our little house (with no basement) doesn't mean that we don't need more stuff!!  As you're spring cleaning, please consider sending your "stuff" our way! We would greatly appreciate it!


Today at the event, we were talking about how even when we feel overwhelmed by things, that God is never overwhelmed.  He's already gone before us and prepared the way.  He's got a plan even when we have no idea what to do next.  And what God favors, He funds...(stole that from a friend), and He's definitely doing that for us!  This journey's starting to get pretty fun!



Well, it's been more than a month since I've posted anything at all...and that's mostly because there's not a whole lot happening on the adoption front.  And most of the time, I'm ok with this slow, steady pace!  We have so much going on in our lives right now that stuff often distracts me from the ache I have for those babies.  I don't usually feel overly anxious about rushing through this lengthy process....


But then I talk to other adopting families.  Families who started the process at the same time or even after us who are done with their home studies and awaiting or getting referrals for their babies!  And then I wonder if we're moving too slowly.  Should we have started fundraising earlier? Should we have already applied to our home study agency?  Should we have already worked through the online workbook that our agency sent us?  Isn't there something we should be doing right now other than waiting?


Ah, but then I remember that we can't do much without funds.  That home study is not going to pay for itself.  And even if we did hurry up and get the home study done, we have to raise more money for the step after that...and the one after that...and so on.  And for whatever reason, God has given us enough money to get this thing started, and now we have to rely on Him for the rest.  (And "the rest" is a whole lot!)


And so I've concluded that we're right where we're supposed to be.  Even if I don't understand why other people's journeys are shorter, quicker, cheaper...  Our journey is unique...and apparently a slow and steady one.  And I'm mostly ok with that.  Every once in awhile, I'm not.  But mostly, it's good.


So, in the meantime, we're fundraising!  One of our lovely friends from church is a talented hair stylist (who is now a stay-at-home mom of a toddler and twin baby boys), and she's doing a haircut fundraiser for us in a couple weeks!  And we have friends doing nails, facials, etc.  Girly stuff.  I guess we could almost call it a Spa Day, but went with Trims for the Tiptons.  :)  Anyway, that's taking place March 24 from 9:30-5ish.  And in the last few weeks, we've received $300 in donations...$200 of those were anonymous!!!  So, that's half of our home study app fee!


We're also gearing up for our big adoption fundraiser rummage sale!  It's going to be at our church on June 2, and we're getting some awesome donations coming in!  I'm hoping to at least have our fundraiser T-shirts done for that event...and maybe a few other little fundraisers.  I'm thinking about having my kids do a bake sale.  Honestly, I don't think anyone with a soul could say no to my son, Asher, if he asked, "Would you wike a ba-wonie??"  (In case you don't speak 3-year-old boy, that's: "Would you like a brownie?")  It's something to consider....


So, that's where things stand right now.  I guess we really are moving...it's just a very slow and steady pace!  Sometimes I think about the total amount of $ we have to raise to do this, and it seems impossibly huge!  But I've heard it said that where God guides, He provides.  So, I'm going to hold on to that!

Under Fire

Well, do you want the good news or the bad news first?  How about the good news?  According to usps.com, our paperwork did indeed make it to Minnesota at 6:32 am!  The bad news:  Everything else in my life has gone haywire today...


I shouldn't be surprised, actually.  I did blog yesterday about trusting God's sovereignty--trusting that He is in all things and holds all things together.  And now I feel like that is being tested in every way possible.  And it's funny...I can look at the paperwork fiasco and laugh.  It was frustrating and moderately irritating at the time, but I never felt like God wasn't in control of that situation.  I trusted Him to work out the details.  I trust Him with our Colombian children.  But why is it so hard to trust Him with my kids at home?  Why is it so easy to trust Him some days, and so difficult on others?


If this process has shown me anything, it's shown me that our enemy is real.  And he has truly come to steal, kill and destroy.  He certainly knows my weak spots.  And he's working overtime on me today.  Today, he has been working hard to steal my peace, kill my joy and destroy my hope.  Normally, I can bounce a few attacks like this off with minimal effort.  Being in ministry, spiritual warfare is not a new concept for me and my family.  And following God's calling to adopt certainly puts a bigger target on our backs.  But days like this--days when the devil bombards me with what seems like every possible arrow in his arsenal--days like this just suck.


Weak spot #1: My kids.  The devil knows that if he really wants to get at me, he can do that best through my kids.  Landyn missed 3 days of school this week--her first sick days all year.  Now, Asher came down with her strange fever/fatigue virus.  But of course, his neck hurts, which scares the heck out of me.  (However, chances are, his neck hurts because of the somersaults he was doing off of the couch last night...I hope.)  My brain tells me he just has the same mild virus that Landyn just got over.  But the enemy starts squeezing his doubts into my heart...What if it's not?  Should I call the doctor?  How long should I let him sleep?  What if it's something terrible?  My peace: gone.


Weak spot #2: My job.  Early this morning, I had a dream that I went to church Sunday morning completely unprepared for Sunday School, Kids' Worship, and the month of February in general.  And I woke up with a sense of panic--like I needed to go to church right away and get this stuff done so I don't forget.  And with Asher being sick, I haven't been able to get much of anything done, which makes me feel even more panicky about it!  I get so much joy from my job.  But not today.


Weak spot #3: My time.  I've been seriously struggling with time management lately.  I like to think it's because my paper calendar is missing since we tore the kitchen apart.  I like to blame it on the fact that my house is a giant, hot mess because of our remodeling.  But it's mostly just me being a bad steward of the time God has given me.  I've let the stuff going on around me become an excuse for not being organized at home...which has caused me to miss more than one important event in the past couple of months.  Today, I was supposed to meet with a wonderful lady from church who has offered to coordinate our entire garage sale fundraising event.  With Asher being sick and my life being chaotic, I completely forgot.  And I feel so bad for making her clean her house and sit around and waste her day off work while I was sitting at home worrying my day away.  


Today, I feel like things are just spiraling out of control one-by-one, and I'm powerless to stop it.  And feeling completely powerless makes me feel hopeless.  So, I'm trying to remember that on my own, I am powerless.  But HE is not.  So that is where my hope will come from today.  It's not a coincidence that my verse of the day just popped up and says this:  


Psalm 59:16
But I will sing about your strength, my God, and I will celebrate because of your love.  You are my fortress and my place of protection in times of trouble.


As much as I'd love to rewind and restart today, I know there's a purpose for it, and that God can somehow use it for good.  As followers of Jesus, we are under fire.  Some days it's worse than others.  But in the end, it burns our doubt away.  Jesus never said that following Him would be easy.  And for every time that God was about to do something beautiful in or through me, I've experienced huge push-back from the enemy.  So, this song comes to mind today...check it out:





And here's another song that's getting me through today...




I could definitely use some prayer today...

Technology Hates Me

Really, it does!  My kids at church are always teasing me about not touching the laptop that we use for Kids' Worship every Sunday because something will inevitably go wrong if I do!  And someone else can push the exact same buttons in the same order, and get wonderful results...and when I do the same thing....epic fail.  Not every time, but more often than not. 


So, it should come as no surprise that everything went wonky when I attempted to send our first stack of major paperwork to our agency via technology.  Ugh.  Where to begin.  Well, first, we got this paperwork back in October after we were officially approved to work with our agency.  At first, we didn't have the money for the fee that went with this batch of paperwork, so we took our sweet time filling it out.  But, thanks to some awesome family and friends, we got exactly what we needed for the first fee at Christmas time!


And still, we didn't feel an urgent need to send in our paperwork.  I was feeling remarkably calm about the process, and I didn't feel like we needed to rush.  So, in early January, I finished up the 15 pages of seriously detailed information about our lives, signed my portion, and set it out for Michael to proofread and sign.  


For those of you who don't know, Michael has been remodeling (read: destroying, gutting, rewiring and totally remaking) our kitchen.  And it has pretty much consumed his free time (what little he has to begin with).  So, those papers just sat unsigned for a few weeks. In mid-January,  I was finally able to steal 5 minutes from the kitchen, and the paperwork was officially complete and ready to go!


And still, I didn't feel a sense of urgency.  I didn't feel like I needed to get it to Minnesota ASAP.  So, our paperwork sat in its blue folder on top of our kids' toy chest for awhile longer.  And then suddenly, last weekend, I felt like we needed to send it.  Now.  It's time to get things moving!  I'm really trying to trust in God's sovereignty and timing for this crazy process, and I believe that He has our babies chosen and waiting for us...whether they're born yet or not.  He knows.  And He also knows exactly when which paperwork needs to be here or there.  And so I'm trying to stay out of the way so that He can work things out in His time, and not mine.  I believe that sense of urgency was from Him.  It was time to take the next step...


Well, our sending options were as follows: fax, email, or snail mail.  So, I opted for what I assumed was the quickest and simplest way to send it: email.  Now, I'm only computer-literate enough to be a little dangerous.  That's why I married a programmer.  :)  I'm sure he loves all of the tech questions I text him during his work day!  So, I asked Michael what I'd need to do to email this mass of paper, and he told me to scan it on our new printer/scanner/copier thing.  So, I did.  (All by myself!)  But then, I couldn't figure out how to save it as a PDF file on our old desktop with XP.  I'm a Windows 7 girl, after all!  (Whatever that means....)  So, I had to wait on Michael to help with that part.


But then, we went out-of-town with friends for the weekend, and those .jpeg files sat unsent on Michael's work laptop for another weekend.  So, Sunday night, we looked at them, and Michael said the quality might be too grainy....  Of course.  Because I touched them.


So, on Monday, I considered just taking the stack to the post office.  But that takes too long!  We have a fax machine at church, and I work on Tuesdays, so I convinced myself to hold out one more day...  Tuesday rolls around.  I take my stack of paper (which is now a little crinkly around the edges) and ask our office administrator, Steve, for a quick tutorial on using the fax machine.  (Something I've never done in my life...ever.)  Steve warns me that the fax machine is a little quirky sometimes.  But for some insane reason, I assume that it will work properly for me!  I kept thinking, "This will be so fast!  Our paperwork will be there in minutes!"  Eh...not so much.  The fax machine would only send the first 4 pages.  I tried 3 times!  


So, I begrudgingly gave up on the fax machine (after I mentally cursed it several times).  I texted Michael and told him the faxing idea had failed and asked if he thought the PDF files were a possibility.  He said it was worth a try and that he'd email them to me.  


In the meantime, our contact at the agency emailed me and politely asked why I sent only 4 of the 15 pages.  And this was just the beginning of a 12-email conversation we had on Tuesday.  All I know is that she is very patient and polite...and that she probably thinks I'm completely crazy!  I won't bore you with all of the different technology issues that we ran into...suffice it to say that between firewalls, large PDF files, password protected internet links, and just plain evil forces, none of the emails that we sent actually worked.  Our paperwork was still in Ohio.  


Yesterday, on February 1, almost 4 months since we received this paperwork, I finally gave in and chose the route that was supposed to take the longest...snail mail.  And if I had used the good old postal services from the beginning, our paperwork would already be at our agency.  But alas, today, at 2:55 am, it was somewhere in Pennsylvania...which is weird because it appears to be going east instead of west.  (I paid $.75 extra so I could track it...you never know what could go wrong at this point!  I wouldn't be surprised if it spontaneously combusted or just vanished into thin air at this point!)  But www.usps.com tells me it should reach Minnesota by tomorrow, praise the Lord!  Unless a tornado sucks up the mail truck...  


All this to say...our first stack of paperwork is on its way, and this process should start moving along soon!  We've been collecting garage sale donations (much to my husband's dismay) in our garage for the big event in May!  And I have a wonderful lady at our church who is going to coordinate the whole thing for us!  I feel so blessed by the response from our friends and family! We are definitely not in this alone!  We have so many people who want to help us bring our babies home, and I absolutely love that!  Also, we have most of the songs for our CD picked out and we've figured out how to get permission to record all of them for a small price!  And once our kitchen is complete and our house is back in order, we can finish our home study agency app and get that part moving along!  


I think I'll be sending that home study app via snail mail.  The people at the post office are going to know me by name when this is all said and done!