Friday, September 27, 2013

the road ahead

You may or may not have noticed that "What's Happening Wednesday" has gone by the wayside. As I mentioned earlier this week, we are both coaching in-season high school sports right now, and there's really no time for that.

But I will have periodic updates for you as I'm able. Today, I'll share a bit more information from my phone call last night with our Congo adoption coordinator. For safety reasons, I will not share all info, but here's a bit of what we learned.

We will probably get more pictures and/or information after Sunday or in about 2 weeks. People are traveling to the orphanage at that time, so we hope they can provide some more details about, well, everything.

Our agency's attorney is traveling to Congo in about 3 weeks to begin the court phase of our adoption process. This phase is usually 2-5 months out, but we will HOPEFULLY (barring any problems...ah-hem) get it done in 3 weeks!

After the court phase is over, our agency will receive birth certificates and judgment/act of adoption documents. This will then allow us to fill out our I-600, which begins the investigation process wherein the Embassy attempts to confirm the children are, in fact, orphans. We are HOPING and PRAYING the birth father can travel to the investigation site to testify in that regard. If not, there will have to be a more thorough investigation that would require officials to travel to the orphanage and search down information.

This whole investigation process usually takes 3-9 months, after which we can go get our kids!! However, the waiting time could be knocked down by about 6-8 weeks if one of us travels to Kinshasaa to file our I-600 in person. (It kind of eliminates the middleman, in short.) This trip would cost an EXTRA $5,000 and we really can't pull that off, BUT if we feel that conditions are worsening in the orphanage (thus putting our kids in danger) we might have to do something absolutely drastic in order to drop the 6-8 weeks from the wait time and get them safely home. As with most things in adoption, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

We also learned last night that dysentery is spreading around the region, and that can be EXTREMELY dangerous to the little ones. This might be reason for us to attempt to file the I-600 in person. PLEASE pray with us for these kids' health and safety.

And there you have it!

PS -- I updated the DRC Twins Adoption page.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After the call...

Welp, we are still breathing in and out from the after-effects of our big announcement yesterday. The "nannies" didn't know about the referral until yesterday when I posted the blog, so upon finding out they and Brody did some running around and yelling with excitement in the yard and making chocolate-covered waffles to celebrate while Brad and I were at school.

Then I got this picture from one of them: 


Brad got me a new wall map (made of county flags) for my birthday. He is great at taking hints. The map came in handy, as Brody was able to point to where his brother and sister lived (with help, of course). 

We had nearly 1,000 views on the blog yesterday. We are so thankful for the support and encouragement of our friends and family. I did a little re-calculating based on TWINS (!!) and some new fees that have been added to our agency's Congo program due to significant changes in adoption proceedings in DRC. 

Uhhh...


Honestly, this looks undoable. Incomprehensible. Impossible. Ridiculous. CRAZY. 

At this point I have to remind myself of this: "But God."

It looks impossible, BUT GOD. 

So we are TRUSTING that He will provide. 

At this point I should also tell you more about the process: We aren't really sure when we will get these babies home with us, but from what I understand it will be about a year before we can go get them. We do know that they need your prayers for HEALTH and safety. I know of too many heartbreaking situations where children have died for minor health conditions that are absolutely treatable in the States but can be life-threatening in Congo. With that in particular in mind, the waiting process will be extremely difficult. 

So, here are some ways you can support us in this journey:

1 -- Pray. Pray for health and safety for our son and daughter, and for the health and safety of the others in the orphanage. Pray for MIRACLES that would allow them to come home to us sooner rather than later. Pray for wisdom and strength as we continue through this process. It could be a LONG process. We cannot do it alone. Please continue to pray for us when this is complete, because adoptions definitely don't end with the Gotcha Day. There are adjustment periods, and we have heard of some TOUGH adjustment periods. Also, our family has some HUGE decisions to make that relate to us after the adoption, and we need wisdom to make those decisions, too. 

2 -- Encourage. We are on a high right now. We have just learned of our new son and daughter, and I would like to go out and buy those cute little matching outfits that every set of twins is obligated to wear at least once. We are PUMPED! But, there will be days in the coming weeks and months when this process will seem very burdensome and difficult. We will be tired of the wait. We will need your encouragement and your understanding as we go through it. We've never done this before (internationally), so we have only heard of the heartache involved in waiting, but we know it will be rough. We need some smiles and some "You KNOW this is God's plan and He will provide what you need" talks. 

3 -- Give. We obviously have a lot of bills to pay at this point. I added up at least $28,000 that is technically due RIGHT NOW. Oh my. We need monetary donations as well as item and service donations for our event and silent auction. If you know anyone who might be able to donate anything that might help, please contact me! If you would like to make a monetary donation, please hold off on it for a second as I research matching grants and tax-deductible donations. (And if you know anything about either one of those options, please shoot me a message as well. We want to be as efficient and cost-effective with money as possible. I haven't had time recently to do much research to find sibling/matching grants; we are right in the middle of coaching two high school sports seasons and trying to sell a former rental house! Oh, Lord, your timing is hilarious...)

PS -- More details to come regarding the big live music and fresh food event. Just be sure to save the date for December 2!!

HINT: 





Tuesday, September 24, 2013

This CRAZY Dream -- It's Reality (AKA "Our Referral!")

Brad's dream? It was reality. We really did get a phone call Saturday night. We actually got two phone calls, a Facebook message and a few important emails from our coordinator.

We missed the calls while putting the boys to bed, and when we listened to the phone message it was this: "Jenny, this is (adoption coordinator). Call me back."

Uh.

Brad rushed to the living room and made the call. "Hey, this is Brad...Yes...uh, well, here's the deal...how old are they?" (We had recently been talking about how we probably need to tell our agency we really would like to be considered for children who are younger than Brody.) "Really? Ok, ok...oh yes. Yes...send it to either email address...uh yes...Thank you!"

My mind was racing. Was this "the call?!"

He got off the phone.

Me: "And?!"

"TWINS." Yes, TWINS!!

"How old?"

"Two months."

"Boys or girls? Or both?"

"I forgot to ask." (ha!)

So of course we took bets about the genders while we anxiously awaited the email (which obviously seemed to take forever).

We finally got the email, opened it, and found the picture of a beautiful boy and a precious girl. They were definitely fearfully and wonderfully made. They look older than two months and very well-fed!

Then we sat in stunned silence for a while. (But why would we be stunned after all our talk about our passion orphans?)

This is Brody looking at his brother and sister on Saturday night after we received the call.


Brody then proceeded to spill our secret to people at church the next day. (Silly boy!! Good thing no one knew he was being serious and he actually understood--in context--that he had a new brother and sister!) He even drew this picture of his "sister," who he has been talking about for a while now (before we even got the referral). This was his Sunday School drawing. Again, talking about his sister that no one knew he had. Ha! (We are all excited about the brother, too! Brody has just never had a sister before, so it's all new to him.)


Obviously, I would LOVE to show you a picture, but we must take certain safety precautions and that involves not sharing pictures online. If I know you in person, I can definitely show you, so please ask if you'd like to see. 

We realize that, to most of you, we seem like CRAZY FOOLS for 1) adopting again; 2) adopting from DRC; 3) adopting twins when we already have two under 3; 4) adopting on teaching salaries; 5) adopting after our first heart-wrenching adoption; 6) trying to raise about $30,000. 

We know it sounds nuts, and we know we have a long way to go and a ton of details to figure out. 

But, God...

Those two words change things, you know. (To see the extent of changes God orchestrated through these two words in the Bible, go here.) We CANNOT do this on our own, but God can do this and we are trusting him to finish this work. 

We might be crazy, but we feel the call to adopt; this is our mission. As Brad explained it the other day, it seems crazy to us that people we know are missionaries in Lebanon. (Lebanon!) But they were called to that--as crazy as it may seem to us--just as we are called to this. 

Right now we have a lot of questions we'd like God to answer. A LOT. But we know that He will. 

Again: "In order to achieve the impossible through God, you must first put yourself into that circumstance.”

Right now this seems impossible. But God... 

Monday, September 23, 2013

This Crazy Dream

Remember that time when I shared this made-up conversation (here):

Us: "We are, um, kind of...praying for God to provide a way."

Dave (Ramsey): "Hmm. I suggest that you hold off on this and save your money for a while so that you will be financially secure when the time comes."

Us: "But we feel that the time is now."


How about this (here):

"Most people think we are absolutely nuts for saying we will adopt more than one child at a time, but we always reiterate that the chances of that happening are slim, considering the fact that not many adoptions out of the Congo are sibling groups. That said, here are reasons we are open to a sibling group:

First of all, not many couples are open to adopting multiple children at one time. That's not to say that it's never done, but there are definitely more people who want to adopt just one child at a time, and that's why we are open to more than one if need be. We might only get one child, but we don't want immediately say no when there is a sibling group that shouldn't have to be separated. Those kids have already been through enough, so we'd hate to see families separated when we could do something to keep them together. Now, as a disclaimer, this could go nuts in several ways, leaving us with an overwhelmingly expensive adoption and multiple new mouths to feed, but we are open to learning about sibling groups even if we ultimately decide it's not what's best for our family.
..but it does seem to be the year of multiple births, so we aren't throwing that option out.
Secondly, we really think it would be good to adopt at least two children from the same place so they will be with someone familiar to them through the adoption process and later in life as they learn about their home country. I touched on this in my last post, but when a child is adopted it's not all smooth sailing ahead. There are some serious adjustment and attachment "issues" which must be dealt with, and I am of the opinion that it might be better for the children if they have a sibling/friend alongside them who can relate. I haven't really done much research in that area, so I probably will do that in the future. However, as of right now, we have told our agency we are open to siblings, and if the time comes and we have a referral for siblings we will do some intense investigating and Truth-seeking to determine what's best. As I have said, the chances are pretty slim that we will get a referral for siblings, but crazier things have happened, and we seem to be the asterisk in most situations, so we shall see."

Or this: (Regarding our adoption shirts) We thought "Dream Big" was appropriate. :o)


Brad woke up Sunday morning saying this: "I had this crazy dream last night. We got a phone call...."

I will not divulge the rest of that conversation or the events of Saturday night, but I will tell you this: We have a lot to pray about. We ask that you would pray with us and for us. You may not know exactly what you are praying about, but God does.

I also read this quote today from another blog: "in order to achieve the impossible through God, you must first put yourself into that circumstance.”
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MEETING THE NEEDS // Adoption Funds

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We see Adoption Funds as a "Win-Win-Win" solution: the local church is actively involved on behalf of orphans, the financial roadblock for families is removed, the orphan child is adopted into a permanent Christian family...all with minimal administrative burden for the church.

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ALWAYS WITH YOU // Adoption Fund Story

Cameron and Sarah experienced the love of their church family through their adoption journey. His Kids Our Homes Adoption Fund, at North County Christ the King Church have blessed this family and others as children are brought into forever families. Listen in on their journey...

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Bringing Churches Around Adoptive Families - Dave and Carrie, directors of His Kids - Our Homes (Lynden, WA) share how they have experienced the blessing of having a Lifesong Adoption Fund.  Watch Video

"God Worked to Bring Them Home" - Scott and Kathy bring two more children into their home through adoption with the help from TAMBA adoption fund. Read more

God's Revealing Love - Sam and Maria share how God continued to reveal His love for them and their 7 children, through their local church, North County Christ the King. Watch Video

Adoption Fund Testimonials - Hear what Adoption Fund partners have to say about their experience with Lifesong Adoption Funds.  Watch Video

Thursday, September 19, 2013

my quibble with dave ramsey

My brother is a Dave Ramsey fanatic. F-A-N-A-T-I-C (Insert Lecrae's famous Fanatic song here.) My brother is such a fan that the long-standing joke in my family was to make sure everyone coming in contact with him had been saved by Dave. If not, we knew that person would be thrown a few copies of Total Money Makeover and enlisted into Baby Step 1 by the end of the day. If nothing else, those people were given the opportunity to be saved by Dave, and they had my brother to thank for that.

I, too, am a fan of Dave, but I don't have the moneybags to purchase a book for every person with whom I come into contact. (Did you think I was over-exaggerating about my brother's book-giving? Because I definitely wasn't.) Dave's advice has helped Brad and I make a lot of solid decisions to get ourselves on a decent financial track, despite the fact that we chose teaching as a career. We save, save, save and don't purchase items on credit that doesn't get paid (but I do love my Discover card points, so I still use my card...whatev). We have eliminated a ton of student debt in the last 5 years, and we are pretty proud of ourselves for doing that in a short amount of time. We try to stick to a budget (although we don't have much time for planning that right now, so you know...it hasn't worked as well as of late. We just try to use our brains.). We use a lot of Dave's financial tools, we listen to his talk show when possible, and we feel pretty good about it. We even save $70 a month on our mortgage after taking his advice to remove our PMI.

But I do have one little area of disagreement with Dave. Call it a quibble, if you will.

I'm going to be honest here: A large motivating factor in writing this was the opportunity to use the word "quibble" in a blog post.

But another motivating factor was this: orphans.

Because who can budget "giving an orphan a home and forever family" into their weekly "beans and rice" budget? Not many people I know. In fact, if we were to call Dave up on his radio show and ask him whether or not to adopt right now, he would almost definitely ask us if we had the full $30,000-$40,000 saved up to complete the whole thing.

I can picture our stuttering answer..."Um, well, not exactly."

Dave: "Well, how are you going to fund this?"

Us: "We are, um, kind of...praying for God to provide a way."

Dave: "Hmm. I suggest that you hold off on this and save your money for a while so that you will be financially secure when the time comes."

Us: "But we feel that the time is now."

Dave would probably tisk his tongue and shake his head in disapproval. We are not planning for our future very well, nor are we setting ourselves up to retire well and pay off the house. Dave is a Christian man with Godly principles, so I'm not saying he wouldn't understand our decision, but he would definitely not ADVISE us to adopt right now. No way, no how.

But we are rebels. (Or at least we are wannabe rebels...)

So quibble or quabble, we're doing our best to use the money we do have to glorify God, God is using our friends and family to glorify himself through their selfless acts, we are trusting that He will fully "fund what he favors," and all of this together will be used to change the life of an orphan or two (or three or four, right Brad?) forever.

That's money invested well.

(I reread this post a few hours after posting and realized my sarcasm might not have been effectively communicated. Please understand that I love my brother and am only speaking in jest about his Dave-obsession. He and his fam are extremely giving people and might have even started this blog a few years back to document unselfish giving.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

fundraising mode

Adoption-related goodness:

We are still #13 on the list, just to get that tidbit out on the table.

However, we are officially in fundraising mode. I cannot give you details until things are a bit more solid, but we met with a great group of people on Sunday after church to go over initial planning details (after which I'm certain most of the group members went home asking, "Why are they adopting another kid? Their first two are crazy enough as it is!")

I will tell you this: Keep your calendars open for early December. We think we are going to have an event you'll truly enjoy, not just in that "It wasn't really all that fun but it was for a good cause" type of way.

Here's what I'm asking YOU to help me with: We need products, service vouchers, and possible food and/or drink donations for this event. If you make something cool, sell something awesome (31 Bags, anyone?), take professional photographs, manage a store, style hair, or have connections to anyone who does, PLEASE let me know via email (lotzfam@att.net). We would love to share your goods and services with a large audience and give you credit where it's due. Who knows, this might even give you a bit of extra business (maybe??). We would like to put together some amazing gift baskets for our event.

That's all I have for now, but come back later in the week for more details!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Teeter totters

Way back in first grade my friends and I at PV Elementary (holla, Bluejays!) used to play on this specific piece of playground equipment. Back then we called it a seesaw or a teeter-totter, but today I'm pretty sure they call it a lawsuit waiting to happen, as I rarely see them on school playgrounds anymore. Some silly elementary kids must have ruined it for everyone.

Anyway, the teeter totter is like a huge balance (you know, like the balance in science class) with seats on each end. My friends and I used to take turns trying to get the teeter totter so off-balance that we would either flip over the handle bar and smash our faces on the metal lever or get rocked so high off the seat and into the air that it's a wonder some of my male friends are having kids at this point. Again, we don't see many of these toys anymore because some stupid kids must have acted like fools on them way back when. 

Even though I rarely see these relics on playgrounds anymore, the teeter totter keeps coming to mind lately, as I've felt a bit like my life is getting slammed out of balance with my body flying over the handles and my face up against the metal rails more often than I'd like. I'd choose the physical version of the teeter totter over the proverbial one any day. At least you can get off that ride. 

What am I trying to say? Well, if you remember this post from a while back about finding the balance in spending and saving for an adoption, I might have alluded to the fact one of the trickiest things in life is finding the balance in all realms. And I'm having a hard time with that. I like to sort my feelings out on paper, so that's really what I plan to do in this post (because I also love to publicly open myself up to more even more ridicule than I already get as a coach).

Here I'll discuss some of the areas in which I find balance hard to attain, and maybe it's because balance isn't meant to be found in some areas. Maybe I should be living with reckless abandon in some areas, but which ones?!

The home/work balance: This is a huge daily battle for me, as I feel like a truly cruddy mom when I'm gone for camps (and, consequently, not planning bday parties until the morning of), gone from 6 am until 11 pm for school and volleyball games, and stressing about volleyball in the middle of the night when I should be resting so I can give more (happy) time to my kids an husband the next day. As I've told some people in the last few days, I became a teacher because I wanted to help and serve kids, but also because I wanted to be home in the summers with my own kids.

Problem is, that's not happening. I spend a LOT of time at school and on the volleyball court at various events during the summer, which isn't exactly what I had in mind. I have a great job. I love it, I work with some incredible high school girls in an amazing district with great leaders, and I get to (try to) be good role model to countless high school students throughout the day. But what about my own kids? And why do I spend so much time thinking about parents who despise me??

The problem on the other side of this balance act is that I truly felt God calling me to teach, at least for a season, because I wanted to shine a light (hello, first-year teacher idealism), and I feel like I should keep working to help fund this adoption. I see NO WAY that we could afford to adopt (let alone feed and clothe three or more kids) without my earning money, and my district pays teachers well. So it's hard to give that up. But what's most important? Spending plenty of (unstressed and unhurried) time with my current kids or working to make money to give other kids a family and HOPE, as well as continuing to try to shine a light in dark places. Or can I do both?

That's the balancing act I have yet to master, and I might take a few smacks on the face before I find it, if ever I do.

thanks for the reminder

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

beautiful endings

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."   (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Late last week we received an email from our Congo adoption coordinator explaining a few changes in Congo, as well as a few changes with our agency and the children it places. We are so very thankful for the honesty and heartfelt message it conveyed, but we are even more thankful that our agency's coordinators care so deeply for the children of Congo.

The email reiterated that, due to the extreme instability and lack of organization in the Congolese government, every finalized adoption is an absolute miracle that should not be taken for granted. There are huge hurdles to finalizing an adoption in general (as you might have noticed from our blog in 2011), but even more so in the Congo where communication systems are limited and protocol is still rocky at best. BUT there are TONS of kids there who need families, and that is why it is so important for you to pray with us through this.

Along with the above message, the email detailed the following changes in Congo:

1. Investigations within Congo will now take longer than in the past. Before the change we could expect to wait about 6-9 months before traveling to get our child(ren), but now we should expect to wait 9-15 months. We know this will be a hard wait, but we obviously won't feel the pain of this change until after we receive a referral with pictures of a child or children with hands to hold and tears to wipe and hair to stroke.

2. Both parents must now travel to get the child(ren), and that trip is expected to last 3-4 weeks (as opposed to 1.5-4 originally). This one hurts a bit, too, as we have our two little guys at home and I worry about them in that long time period away from both of us. I refuse to dwell on that part too long for now, but we will for sure need your prayers (and possible babysitting skills, if you live nearby) when it happens.

3. Our agency is heading in the direction of a new partnership with an orphanage in a different and slightly more dangerous area of Congo. The road to the orphanage is extremely dangerous, as is flight travel within the region, so the children who are adopted from there will have to be brought to the capital city to meet their parents. The dangerous trip to the orphanage and its remote location also make the test for sickle cell anemia extremely difficult, so at referral time (if we are refereed a child or children from the orphanage) no one will know whether or not the children are affected by the disease. However, this orphanage currently has 46 children in need of families (which will still need to be investigated and confirmed before most children can be considered "adoptable"), and although I want all of our children to be healthy, I do not want to say no to a child who is obviously going to be hurting anyway. Children with sickle cell will have it no matter what, but that doesn't mean those kids shouldn't have families just because we don't want to deal with their illness. For those kids, it would be better to have families to love them through an illness and provide better medical care, so we have told our agency we would consider a referral from the orphanage, risks included. There are some illnesses we do not feel we have the time or resources to handle, but we have prayed about it and believe that God will place in our arms the child(ren) He wants us to have.

And that is where we stand right now. There is a bit of uncertainty as we move through this phase, but we are praying our way through it.

The addition of our first two children into our family (one adopted, one biological) didn't come without a fair amount of struggle. We didn't get the super-cute "Gotcha Day" video or the sweet newborn-in-our-arms pic that most people get when they add a child to the family. That's ok. Adding a little one to a family is more than a cute moment; it is beautiful beginning. And God says this adoption--despite the ups and downs we've come to expect--will be beautiful in the end.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

the preemie life

My friend is pregnant with twins and recently got put on strict bed rest due to the fact that her baby girl is trying to get outta there. She called me for a little perspective on the whole bed rest, preemie baby, NICU thing.

In the midst of talking to her I realized that now that the whole thing is over and Brecken is a thriving one-year-old who doesn't have much to say, that ten days on bed rest was nothing. In the midst if it, though, it was killer. Being forced to lie in an uncomfortable bed in a hospital room, let people serve me, not taking a shower, and, well, allowing people to clean out my bedpan (I begged and begged to do it myself to no avail...); all of ut was rotten. On top of that, there was all of this "stuff" to get done. Vb stuff, buying a crib and getting a baby room--a portion of the master bedroom, really--ready, laundry and dishes at home. It all had me going crazy.

But here's what I should have been doing: resting. Yes, because after that baby (or BABIES in my friend's case) were born, there would be no time for that. 

Because the preemie life is hard. First of all, the neonatologist comes to come to you while you're helplessly in the middle of preterm labor (which sometimes lasts weeks!) and he gives you the huge list of EVERY POSSIBLE THING that might happen to your baby as a result of premature birth. Their heads are more fragile, making brain damage a slight possibility, their lungs haven't had the benefit of 40 weeks of development, so the baby might no breathe properly at birth or ever. There might be physical deformities or speech problems or huge developmental delays. The list goes on and on, with him listing off the worst-case scenario in every situation because he has to, and you pray your way through it because you know that is the only thing to do. He tells you that "One day of bed rest is equal to three days in the NICU, so keep that baby in there." All in all,  he spends about 45 minutes laying all of this out to you and then asks if you have any questions. (Um, yes: Why is this happening to us?) But you don't ask him that because you know only one knows the answer to that question, and He probably won't tell you exactly what His purposes are. You just know that the Bible says He will make all things beautiful (Ecc. 3:11).

Then the baby is on his way, and the preemie life gets harder. Instead of the three people you wanted in the room with you during delivery, you and 85 of your closest doctor and nurse friends are hanging out in a room the size of a Nicaraguan hut and all eyes are on you from a rather awkward vantage point. You don't have much time to worry about the worst-case scenarios; you push hard and fast because you want that baby out quickly and with no harm. The next thing you know, he's out and you don't get to see him. The neonatologist whisks him away to check for the 497 problems he might have due to prematurity. You watch helplessly from your bed and wonder what's going on over there: tubes, stethoscopes, a breathing apparatus, a doctor and 12 nurses, all dedicated to your very tiny baby with a lot of fight. Finally you're given an update: Baby is fine, breathing on his own, but they will have to do some further tests to make sure he doesn't have the infection that caused your labor (preterm labor, if it lasts long enough, almost always ends with an infection in the womb).

They push his baby cart near you before whisking him out of the door, but--in one of the worst moments of premature birth--you can't hold your baby like you see new moms doing in all of those movies and Facebook photos. He's already out the door to the NICU. You finish up with a few pushes afterward and then get rewarded with a power-snack, since you've probably not eaten for several hours.

As you are pushed out of the delivery room, you are wheeled into the NICU to see your baby again. AND THEN ONE OF THE SMALL JOYS: You MIGHT get to hold your baby. He is TEENY TINY but still cute (mother-eyes see only the beauty), and he cuddles into you like he belongs there. But he won't get to be there very much for the first weeks of life.

Then comes the long road: NICU. You will get released from the hospital a few days later--after you have regained the strength in your legs to walk on your own for a longer period of time, because while on bed rest you lost all of the muscle you ever had. Your baby, however, will stay in the NICU for weeks. You will have to build your schedule around the three-hour increments when you can visit, and if you have a job you will have to decide whether or not to take sick days now and forgo them later when he comes home or go back to work, visit late at night and then have some sick days left later when he comes home from NICU. (I went back to school for a few weeks, 7 am-6 pm for the school day and volleyball practice, then drove 45 minutes back to Springfun to visit Brecken in the hospital during his feeding time, feeling like a bad mom the whole time for not being around the NICU to see him all day and also because I drove right past our house where our 16-month-old was without being able to see him some days.) You will rejoice over every ounce gained and every day gone by without an alert about him forgetting to breathe, and you will get ready to bring him home, which will inevitably take longer than you originally guess. You might even get psyched when you believe he will come home with you on a certain day, then learn that he has had an "episode" of forgetting to breathe for a few seconds, so he can't come home. You might cry in the NICU when they tell you "he can't come home today," but even while tears come down your face you will completely understand and be at ease about the decision because you don't want him to forget to breathe at home with you by yourself.

And then the day comes. After he passes the "carseat test" and proves he can remember to breathe for 24 hours straight, baby can come home. It is a big deal, and you spend the ENTIRE drive home looking over the seat to make sure he doesn't look blue and to be sure his apnea monitor is properly connected.

Then that baby (or babies, friend) is home, and life begins to seem more somewhat normal, or as normal as it can be with a new baby. And you realize that the time you spent on bed rest were nothing, and you would do it all again--if you really had to--for this sort of joy.

video

(Video is of Brecken's first day of taking steps, a bit behind the "milestone" marker but well worth the wait.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Closer to Congo

Last night I was looking at some stats from the blog. We hit 401 readers yesterday, which is absolutely nuts to me, but crazy-awesome. I think probably half of those people are reading because we have such amazing parenting methods (scoff, scoff...).


Or maybe they are checking in to see an uodated pic of Breckie's vampire teeth. (Yeah, whoa.)


Or, it's possible people are reading to see how cute (and tough, obviously) this kid is:


But it's probably more likely that people are reading because of the Congolese adoption. 

And now I have proof. This is a map indicating the countries of the blog readers. Do you see which one is now green? Yep, Congo! It's like that world over there exists more concretely in my mind, and I'm even more connected to it now. And the people who are reading the blog from there MIGHT have a direct connection to our future Little(s)! THAT is amazing. 

It's a big world, but it gets smaller and smaller every day, and I'm okay with that. 


Also, since we're on the topic of the world, I wouldn't hate to have this wall decal (from decoryiurwall/Etsy) in my house. Isn't it COOL?! I just know we want our kids to have a global perspective, so this might make it into the Lotz home at some point. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

at the end of the day

At the end of the day, Brad and I usually have about 15-30 minutes with or without the boys to discuss its happenings. Last Friday I was telling Brad about my particularly annoying and long Friday, in which I re-did a tournament schedule for the third time due to continually changing circumstances and I also experienced several other annoying situations that just come with work (I get it...things just get crazy wherever you work, so although I work at what I believe to be the best school district with the best leaders in SW MO, possibly all of Missouri, I still experience one of "those days" every now and then.) This day was so particularly frustrating that I actually had a nightmare about it Saturday night. Goodness.

So, we got home Friday night after eating out (no food in the house...shocking, I know), put Brecken to bed, started straightening out the crazy-unorganized house, and opened the mail. I opened what I thought to be a card of some sort from our friends. And it was. It was a really cool card that was painted in Africa.

But it was also a check. For $7,500. Yes, you read the number of digits correctly. If that number seems familiar, it might be from this post last week.

WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD!?

It came with this explanation. I will not include names because I know they don't do this sort of thing for recognition; they do it because God has blessed them to be a blessing.

"We just wanted to encourage you to keep 'Dreaming Big' and let you know we are praying for you and your newest family member(s)! Tuesday night I was reading your blog and updating (husband) on your #15 status...and new expense. I thought immediately after I read it like God was telling me we needed to help and (husband) said, 'I was just praying yesterday about who/where we should give!' So there you have it. God is funding what He favors. He always shows up, doesn't he?"

So then I started crying. Just a few tears, you know. (I'm not really a crier, people, so I feel the need to fess up here. Also, PS: We are now at #13 on the list!)

We were shocked and amazed. Speechless even. The thing is, this isn't even the first time these people have shown up in such a grand way. They passed their blessings on to us during our first adoption, too, and we couldn't have been more thankful then, nor could we be more thankful now. So thank you, friends. Thank you to those special friends who gave in such a grand way, and thank you to everyone else who is giving and who have given in their own seemingly smaller but equally as grand ways. We are continually in awe of the people God has in our lives and what he does through them. 

Our friends understand the sacrifices--financial or otherwise--involved in adoption, and they support us in any way they are able. Not all of our friends can write us a check for $7,500, and that is definitely not what we expect, but those who can't do that have been amazing prayer warriors, emotional supporters, and givers of time, money and resources. We know some people can't afford to give us anything, and that is okay, but that is also what's so truly touching about their gifts. They trust God that this is what He's asked them (and us) to do. To our amazing friends: We are so thankful for all of you, and we recognize the sacrifices you've made for us and our children. (This thanks goes to our nannies, too, who have had to work a bit more to allow us to work a bit more.)

At the end of the day, the frustration I had felt for hours seemed completely irrelevant in light of all God had in store for us that night. 

Please let me encourage you: If you are blessed, it is for a purpose. (The same is true if you are not blessed, financially speaking, but that's not where I'm going with this for now). Have a little extra? Pray about what God wants you to do with it. Our friends could have added on to their house, taken an amazing trip, or bought a new toy with that amount of money, but they allowed God to use them to show up in a grand way for us and what He's called us to do. We will not be able to repay our friends and families for their amazing gifts and support, BUT we will be praying about where to give in the midst of this adoption--if we are asked to do so--as well as after we complete this adoption (or possibly another two or three, right Brad?). 

I do not say all of this in hopes that you'll give to us; I say it because our friends have an eternal purpose at heart and, at the end of the day, that is life-changing in more ways than one.