Monday, June 30, 2014

Tech-savvy tools for adoption

{NOTE: Last Friday I reported that we are FULLY FUNDED for our adoption....YAY! After remembering that I left out a HUGE donation from almost a year ago and then going back to my timeline for specific numbers, I have redone the math and shared more accurate figures over there.}

My house might not indicate it right now, but I love to organize and one of my favorite things to be is productive. (Hence the excitement over PlannerPurchaseDay.)

Adoption can throw some pretty wild kinks in anyone's hopes of productivity or precise planning, and the paperwork is enough to drive even myself a bit crazy (not to mention the adoption grant application paperwork).

But I've found a few techy tools that have been extremely helpful in organizing and saving adoption paperwork, and I'm here to suggest two of them if you're not already using them. (You probably are...I'm usually behind in the times regarding technology.)

1. Dropbox.

I cannot even tell you how much this cloud storage system has changed my life. You can get a Dropbox account for free and install it on your mobile device and a couple of different computers. Then, if you have a document you'd like to have access to on a different computer or in a mobile device, you simply save it in your Dropbox folder and you will have access to it anywhere. It will automatically update saved files in that folder to the newest version on every computer or device on which its installed, and it even allows you to have access to those files from any computer that is connected to the internet when you go to the Dropbox website.

I LOVE the fact that it automatically updates your files to the newest versions everywhere. I used to have to save files on a thumb drive from school, take it home, work on it, save it again, then take it back to school and physically re-save the latest version of the document onto my computer. This technique left me with ALL sorts of versions of documents left on my computers, making it hard for me to find the most recent one. 

My other "tech-savvy" method was to email myself my latest document version if I thought I'd need it in another location. This technique left me with about 55 new emails in my box every day--63 of which were my own. 

Dropbox takes all of that labor (and the forethought of taking home the thumb drive or emailing) out of the confusing equation, leaving you with a SIMPLE and easy process.

I have a TON of adoption papers in my Dropbox folder, as it allows me to have quick and easy access to those files, even if I'm at the park and my coordinator needs some information within minutes. You can even organize your folders into different categories, upload pictures from your camera, etc. just like you would in a regular computer hard drive storage system. You can use my referral code  to get a bit more space than usual and get started for free. I still use the free version, by the way. It has never asked me for a credit card number or anything crazy, and I still have space. (Barely...I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures in there, though. I need to move them out.)

2. Genuis Scan (an iPhone app)


Having Genius Scan installed on your phone is like having a tiny portable scanner in your pocket. In fact, it's even easier to use than a scanner, in my opinion, because it has email built in. Our Congolese dossier required tons of official documents like our passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, physicals and pictures. Luckily, they didn't have to have the real thing; just a scan of those items would work. This is where Genius Scan is awesome.

You use it like the camera of your phone to take a picture of the document you want to scan. Then you use little cropping tools to get the scan cropped to the size of the original document, save it in Genius Scan (the app digitizes the scan for you, and you can choose color or black and white), then you email or even send it to your Dropbox folder if you' like. This was SO HELPFUL because our agency often needed a specific document quickly or I didn't have the patience to wait to get home to scan a document we'd just gotten, so I'd just do it with my phone and send it in. Plus, it saved the documents in case they needed to be sent somewhere else (which was often the case, as documents are often needed for home studies as well as dossiers, which were handled by two different people).


There you have it, two techy things that have changed my life for the better. Do you use these tools for something special? Do you use other tech-tools that you think I should be using? Please share! I'm always up for making something easy!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

doing the math {adoption math, that is}

Here I am, back with an adoption grant chart and some happy numbers for you. We are incredibly grateful for the grants we have received from such wonderful organizations. 

Click to enlarge, or I can email you this chart if you'd like a closer look. 
Here's the math on what we've received and how much we have left to pay:


We have already paid $11,443 (including some outrageous medical fees, expensive vaccinations, etc. that aren't included in the estimated total cost). Because we haven't been billed for anything recently--as our case seems to be at an absolute standstill--all of the grant monies are still undispersed, waiting to be used, and the other donated money is still in third-party organizations such as AdoptTogether and Lifesong for Orphans.

But look up there closely! What?!? I guess you could say we are fully funded!!! Stop sending us money, people! I know you probably wanted to, but we don't need it. (However, I have a feeling we will have to spend more than $5K on travel, sooo...) :o)

Anyway, doing a happy dance over here and sending encouragement to people who think they can't adopt because they don't have enough money. People, we have absolutely AMAZING friends who have jumped alongside us so often we can't even keep track of everything they've done!!

Now, we just wait and pray that we can get through court ASAP. My bags are packed to go visit!

(For our adoption timeline, go here. For details about how we planned and executed our adoption dinner fundraising info, go here and here. For grant info, go here.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stitch Fixed

I got my first ever Stitch Fix to our front porch yesterday, and it was pretty thrilling for Brody...Until he found out the box wasn't for him, and it contained clothes. Poor kid.

I, on the other hand, was over the moon when I learned via email that it had been dropped off. If you don't know, Stitch Fix allows you to create a personality and fashion profile and then has someone "shop" for you and send clothes. You try them on and choose what you want to keep or send back. It costs $20, but you can apply that toward anything you buy (brilliant). I kind of see the $20 shipping fee as payment for a form of entertainment. Who doesn't like to get stuff delivered to their front door?

(Confession: I don't like to admit it, but I really like to shop. I just think it's fun. However, I don't buy much and I don't do it often because my kids just can't handle it yet. Brecken somehow ALWAYS poos when I enter a store, and he needs his space when he is pooing, so he gets VERY active and can't be held. I recently read that trying to hold a toddler who doesn't want to be held is like trying to hold a break-dancer who can't stop dancing. SO TRUE. Brody just wants to touch everything, and I don't need to buy a broken vase I never wanted in the first place.)

Anyway, it came in a box like this:


And it contained the following items:

I rock the iPhone photo. Not the best quality but the most efficient.
Daniella Blue Cinch Waist Blouse ($38)
Kassidy Open Lattice Tank ($48)
Crista 3/4 Sleeve Lace Shirt (along with a white tank top that I am guessing goes with it, because this top is truly see-through) ($48)
Elliot Cargo Pocket Shorts ($68)
Gem Stone Long Necklace ($36)
A personalized card to explain why "my stylist" chose specific items for me and pictures that show me how to wear the items (GENIUS)


I have to admit, I liked EVERYTHING they sent. They aren't necessarily items I would have picked out in a store (and part of the reason for that is the price), but I did think they were pretty cute. I'm not saying they all looked good on me, but just looking at them...pretty cute stuff! They used my Pinterest board (to which I included a link with my profile) to see what I liked, by the way. This just goes to show that my conceptual style is not awful; it's my physical style that gets me hung up a bit.

So here are my pics...

Disclaimer: These were terribly awkward and slightly painful for me to have taken and they are hard to post. I don't post selfies, and no one needs to see this many pictures of me. However, I need some input besides that of my three-year-old, which I have included here. I have until Saturday to decide what to keep and what goes back.

First up, the blue blouse:

Forgive the goofy grin. This is the sort of smile you give your three-year-old.

I asked Brody if he liked it and he responded with "No, it's too big for you. You need to try on something else." He's not lacking on opinions, people.

I like it, but it does feel a bit baggy. Maybe it's supposed to fit like that...this is where I have problems in discernment. :o)

Next up, the pink tank, which I liked from the get-go when I saw it in the styling guide:



Brody: "Yeah! Mommy, that's really nice! You can sleep in it every night. That's really nice." This was a hit with him.

It's a hit with me, too. I especially like the open back with the button closure up-top.

Next, the coral lace shirt:


That's my back. It looks very similar to my front. What can I say...? Weird. Freaky weird.

Brody: "I like the pink one, Mommy." (Clearly, he knows me well.)

I kind of liked this one, and I especially liked the zipper in back (my pic would not work with me) and the lower back, but I'm not sure about the fringy bottom or the short white tank underneath. Doesn't look very cohesive. Or something.

Next, the cargo shorts (pictured with the long necklace and a cute three-year-old):


Brody: "I want to wear those. Do they have those in little boy sizes?"

I liked them, too, but I can't justify the $68 price tag. I feel the weight of accountability for money we spend because of all of the adoption fundraising we've done. Nearly 100 bucks for a pair of shorts--cute as they are--just doesn't sit well with me. (Side note: For a quick glimpse into our current adoption, go here and here. For adoption fundraising ideas go here, and for adoption grant info, click here.)

Lastly, the necklace. I really like this one, but it's not a $36-type of 'like.' My boys like to play in my jewelry, crafting belts out of wrap bracelets and big earrings into hats for the cat, so it's best to keep my purchases in the five-and-under realm. I'm pretty sure our duct work has a hefty collection of earrings.

Consider:


Nothing in our house is safe or sacred, people.

Sooo, any input on this Stitch Fix? The pieces are a bit expensive for my taste, considering I shop at places like Target, Old Navy, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx. However, since I already paid $20 for the shipment and it can be applied to anything I buy, I don't want to "waste" it by not getting something to keep. (Irrational, I know. I'm okay with it today.) To be fair, Stitch Fix did state from the beginning that most pieces would be in the $60 range.

I should also mention that if you want to try it you can follow this link to do so, and it will give me a $25 credit with them. Again, genius. Or you can go here to give my friend a $25 credit. She's an adoptive mama, too. We adoptive mamas will take any credit we can get. :o)

Want to know what I kept and what I sent back? See my post here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

granted

We have some happy adoption news to report, in contrast to my long and rambling post about the wait yesterday. Oh, the roller coaster ride of emotions and situations...

Last Friday was the postmark deadline for our Hand in Hand matching grant donations, and we are so very happy and humbled to say that we met the goal (with a few very timely and sizable donations)! This means that donors--our friends and family--sent $3,5000 to Hand in Hand, which HnH then matched, doubling the total amount raised for our adoption to $7,000. Thank you soo soo much to those of you who made this happen. We did nothing but fill out paperwork, and our friends and family (along with HnH, of course) did the rest. You all are amazing, and we can't wait to tell C about the love and support you've given to bring her into our family.

But that's not all. On Friday, we ALSO received a $500 check from Families Outreach, a grant-making organization based in Jonesboro, Arkansas.Yippee, and THANK YOU to them!

Do you know what this means? This means we are almost fully funded!! I haven't done the math in a while, but the last time I checked we were within a few thousand dollars of our goal (barring extra travel, longer stays in DRC, etc).

This also means my bags are basically packed and ready for me to go meet Sweet C and get our paperwork filed. Bring on that day! (Please, Lord, I'm begging you.)

(More adoption grant info here. I will need to update the chart to indicate a few more received grants. I'm not opposed to that!)

hopeful waiting

Last week I announced some serious changes in our household, and I have to admit it feels good to finally spill the beans, so to speak. The process of waiting is a hard one in and of itself, but the process of waiting and not being able to share much about it is even tougher.

I think it's safe to say we are both glad that wait is over. But there's another wait we are trudging through, and it's getting pretty long and monotonous, with the bright point coming about every two weeks, which is when we usually get new pictures of Sweet C (and she is as sweet as ever, let me tell you). Bear with me as I ramble through this post. I think it will do my soul some good.

First I will reiterate this fact: I love adoption. I will always love it and be so profoundly thankful for its ability to open my eyes to a different perspective of the gospel that I'd never fully understood before, as well as the gift it has given our family.

But lately, it's been hard to think about our adoption. We have been waiting to pass court for almost 9 months, and it was "supposed" to take 3-8 months. I don't even know where we are in the process anymore, but I thought we were in the last leg of the court process in late May. However, the courts have slowed down quite a bit since the suspension of Exit Letters. (And by the way, it is not a "shutdown of adoption," as many people have called it. It's a suspension of Exit Letters, which isn't even really a part of the adoption process, since it takes place AFTER a legal adoption has already occurred. Just had to clear that up because it gets frustrating to read stories about the "shutdown of adoptions" in DRC, which hasn't happened.)

I had hoped we'd pass court by Spring Break, way back in March. Didn't happen. Then I hoped to pass by June. Now I hope to pass in a generic "soon" time frame, but I can't even put another mental deadline on it for fear that if we pass another hoped-for date I'll flip my lid. I had it in my head that I'd like to visit C on her first birthday, which is July 25, just four days after Brecken's second birthday. That is looking unlikely, as I was going to visit her in DRC and submit required post-court documents to the US Embassy in Kinshasa.

I hate thinking about the fact that I am missing so many milestones--not to mention the fact that I haven't even met her yet--and it's almost been a year. If I don't get to travel and see her on her first birthday, I have a coping plan: I'll just have to get a tattoo on July 25 instead. (You think I'm kidding? It's all planned out. It's a backup plan to my first choice of traveling, of course, but I have to have something "exciting" to look forward to if travel is impossible at that time. Sorry Parents...I know tattoos are not your thing. However, please revert back to this post about being relevant to help soften the blow. Also note that I have considered this for a year, so that's something.)

On top of the waiting we are experiencing in bringing C home, we seem to have another slight problem. DRC has this law that says international adoptive parents cannot adopt children from DRC if they already have more than two children in their home. This kind of messed me up in my head, because somewhere in the midst of the six years Brad and I have been married, our ideas about family have swapped places and I have found myself wanting a ton of kids. As in, by now I wanted to already be preparing our home for ANOTHER child after C came home. So we find ourselves not only waiting for C to come home but also waiting to bring more children into our home. And it doesn't even matter if we bring them home via biology or adoption--except that I keep sending Brad these sweet pictures of children who need a family and he puts on the brakes and says, "Focus on one at a time, woman."

Case in point: I sent him this boy's profile two weeks ago and asked how he felt about it. I might have sent it to him twice, actually. He said simply, "Brakes." However, when I told him my leadfoot would win out in the end, he admitted he already knew that. And the good news is, in case you didn't notice in the link above, that boy now has a family. (It's not us, by the way, but we are thrilled!)

Back to C...We have been waiting about 9 months to pass court, and court isn't even the lengthiest process in DRC adoption. The lengthy part is our government's investigation into the orphan status of adopted children, which may or may not be needed but definitely does not need to take as long as our government is taking. In short, our government's inability to perform a should-be-simple investigation within a 10-month time period is dampening my sense of hope at having C home any time soon, and also my sense of hope at having an ever-expanding family. However, I will say that I know God is completely in control and will place the absolute perfect number of children and perfect specific children in our family when the time comes. I just wanted it all to happen sooner rather than later.

Several families are headed to DC today to discuss the US's role and error in DRC adoptions. DOS has been extremely discouraging and even rude when communicating with adoptive parents, as have a few people at our Embassy in Kinshasa. Stacks of paperwork sit on desks and wait for who-knows-what before US workers will begin working on them. Little-to-no help has been offered to adoptive parents who are seeking to bring their stuck children home. This is unacceptable, and I am praying for strength and changed hearts as these families meet with Senators and Representatives in DC tomorrow and Wednesday.

Please pray with me to this end, and light a candle at 6 PM on Tuesday to show your support for the children who are stuck in DRC. It's not that DRC, specifically, is a bad place. In fact, it is beautiful. However, any place where a child doesn't have a family can be and is bad for that child.

In addition, please pray for softened hearts in DRC on Wednesday, as some specific adoption files will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if children will be given Exit Letters. This is movement, and we need it to continue.

On another adoption note, please pray for the Pilgreen family and K. The Pilgreens have been praying to adopt K for YEARS now. Their case has hit a pivotal moment, and they need our prayers and support! Go here for more info.

OUR HOPE::

Proverbs 5:3-5 -- Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

ch-ch-changes

Several weeks ago Brad had a job interview. It was for an assistant principal position in a good school district in our area, and it was his first job interview since his first job out of college, where he spent ten years.

He left the interview feeling pretty good about it, although he didn't know if he would get the job. Later that day, he talked to a few people who "know people." They seemed to think Brad had good chances and was at least in the top two choices. In fact, from what people were telling Brad that evening, the administration and interview committee really liked Brad, and his chances were good.

The last conversation of Brad's night led him to believe he would get a phone call with a job offer the next day. We laid our heads to pillows believing he would the great phone call early next morning. The job was good, and the pay was even better, thus alleviating some of the financial stress I had been feeling about being without gainful employment the next year.

The next morning dragged on and on, until eventually it was noon and I hadn't heard anything. I resisted the urge to text Brad and ask if he'd heard anything for a while, but by early afternoon I couldn't wait any longer. Of course he hadn't heard anything; if he had, I would have heard from him right after. Why would he not have heard anything by now? He was the man! At least, that's what we were told.

Eventually, he got a phone call and a message from the school administrator. He didn't get the job.

Disappointment and fear crept into my little faithless heart. How could he have come so close, yet come out with no offer? We would later find out.

That same day Brad was supposed to get "the phone call that changed everything," a pastor had stepped down from our church to pursue a different opportunity in another state. His resignation led to an amicable departure from our church; he just had an opportunity that came up--almost out of nowhere--and he felt called to take it. (Side note: The pastor who left has been tremendously encouraging to Brad and I. TREMENDOUS.)

Over the next few days and weeks, Brad's name began being thrown around in the mix of people who might join our church's staff. This was never something Brad pursued with his own volition; however, he has enjoyed working with the college ministry at our church for over five years, and I believe people saw the "product" of his work there and his leadership capabilities.

As the weeks went by, the possibility of Brad joining the church staff became more and more promising. Noticed that I said WEEKS, and really, maybe I should say months. I believe this all started in April. This is a slow process--as any big decision should be--and at times it looked like an absolute impossibility. However, Brad had some very important and wise people urging church leadership to take a serious look into hiring him, and he had some very long and important conversations with friends, mentors and himself about whether or not this was something he felt called to do. 

I will spare you the play-by-play. Last Sunday, our church voted to have him join the staff as the "Discipleship Minister" and promoted our friend Daniel to "Leadership Pastor."

I am absolutely thrilled for my husband and our little family. When Brad was looking into jobs in administration and even looking into getting back into coaching baseball, he knew he would have to give up the time and energy he has been putting into discipleship and meeting with young adults to focus on his job. He has been meeting with people several nights a week already, and a job as an administrator or head coach would have taken up even more after-school time. He wasn't looking forward to giving up time in ministry, but he understood the time commitments of a new role in leadership. I worried he would try to continue taking on a ton of commitments in addition to ministry work because he loves it so much. I wasn't a huge fan

When it looked as though he was going to get a job in administration, I had mixed emotions. First of all, I was a bit relieved because of the decrease in stress that a bigger paycheck would allow us. (Administrator pay compared to teacher pay sometimes has a pretty huge differential.) I was happy for Brad because he was born to lead. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. However, I was worried I wouldn't see my husband very often, and I was sad for the boys because they adore their dad and would have missed him terribly. If I'm completely honest, I may have even been a little worried that I'd go a little bit bonkers with children by myself for 18-20 hours a day.

This new job is a completely and perfectly answered prayer, but it came about in an absolutely unexpected way, a way that far exceeded our prayers about it. Brad is a leader of leaders and passionate about reproducing and training up spiritual believers (as I mentioned here), and this position will allow him to do everything possible to do just that. He will work with a friend and under the wise counsel of great leaders, and he will have a flexible schedule that will allow him to be with his family when needed. In addition, it will allow him to pursue that passion without being gone every night, and it will even pay him to do it. In fact, he will earn almost as much as what he would have gotten as a result of the congratulatory phone call we expected but never got. (And I plan to help as much as possible with my limited talents but recently-increased amount of flexible time.)

So today I am thanking God for answering prayers we weren't even bold enough to pray.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

father's faith

The day after my third birthday, my house caught on fire after a propane tank explosion. I was in the living room of that house my parents had built watching Scooby Doo and playing with a new toy when I felt the entire house and its foundation shake. I heard the biggest BOOM imaginable and watched as the walls were literally uprooted from their foundations and previously hanging paintings crashed to the ground, shattering around the room. My mom ran down the stairs in her bare feet, whisked me into her arms, and ran out the door to find help.

It felt like a bomb, and while we didn't know what had happened, my mom knew we just had to get out. The fire demolished many parts of our house, and to this day the smell of ashes still reminds me of that day.

Last week, I learned a new detail from that day in September. I had always known my dad wasn't at the house when it blew, but I didn't remember where he was. He was an engineer who worked extremely hard--later starting his own company--so I guess I assumed he was working.

He was actually on his way to work, but he made a personal stop to meet someone before he got there.

Mickey Mantle was my dad's hero, and my dad stood in an insanely long line to meet him in Springfield that morning. But he didn't just want to meet him; he wanted to share something with him. My dad took him a long letter. In it, he told Mantle that he (Mantle) had experienced many victories; he had appeared in 12 World Series and his team had won 7 World Championships, to name a few. However, my dad said, "I wanted to tell him about the greatest Victory of all." My dad had learned that Mantle was sick, and he wanted to make sure he knew about Jesus Christ.

He could have just shook Mantle's hand, taken a picture and moved on. Instead, he took some time to write him a personal letter detailing the greatest victory of all time and the way Mantle could be a part of it. It might have actually insulted Mantle at the time...but years later, before Mantle passed away, he became a Christian. (Cool story about that here.)

No, I'm not telling you that Mantle became a Christian because of my dad. I'm not even telling you that Mantle read the letter. I'm just telling you that you never know when something seemingly small will become something insanely big to someone else, even if that person doesn't care at the time.

In fact, one of my dad's friends from waaay back contacted him several years ago to tell my dad he'd become a Christian and that he always remembered the way my dad honored God in word and deed on the baseball field.

And that is why my dad is my hero. It's also why my husband is my hero. Both have a reputation for reproducing spiritual believers. I wish I were half as good as them in that department. (I guess we will just have to adopt more so I can reproduce spiritual believers in our home, right Brad?)

Happy Father's Day (late, I know)!

Friday, June 13, 2014

a lullaby

Life is wonderful. I am living it up with my boys, the sun is out, the house is getting progressively more clean, and I am getting caught up on everything in which I was once so very far behind. There's just one thing missing, and it's a real gut-punch when I think about the DRC adoption situation.

For the record, I am extremely hopeful that Sweet C will come home to us; however, I had hoped to be her legal parents by now, and I had REALLY hoped to be able to visit her on or before her first birthday, which is July 25th. With no adoption decree, that doesn't look likely. So I'll keep praying. Please pray with me for softened hearts in DRC, an Act of Adoption (quickly), and for the hearts of thousands of parents and children who are waiting to be united.

(If you'd like to see a happy adoption story, visit my friend's blog. They just met their son!!)

For now...for you, Sweet C. Because I love this song, and I love you:


(If you don't see the video, go here.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

endless summer

Oh, summer...despite the constant (and uncharacteristic) rain, it's feeling good. This is my first "real" summer since becoming a teacher 7 years ago. All of my other summers were filled with volleyball camps, open gyms, and morning conditioning programs, not to mention classes for my master's degree and summer training and stressing for my teaching gigs (back when I was an English teacher).

I bought my monthly planner the other day (PlannerPurchaseDay is one of my favorite days of the year) and was THRILLED to look at a wide open summer.


I was even more thrilled to look into the Fall months without having a slight panic attack. No rosters to get done, no 5 AM practices, no 12(+)-hour days, no boys' missed bedtimes, no sick kids who need Mommy (who couldn't come home from work). Just Fall...waiting to be filled with Little Lotz cuddles, fire-red leaves, brisk hayrides, and the warmth of home. (If my homebodiness isn't showing up in this post, I don't know what is...)

Of course I loved those volleyball girls...I will miss them even more than I originally thought, but I always missed happy times with my own family in the middle of the season, too. Several people have asked how I decided I should stay home; most ask because they have considered it themselves and can't decide what to do. In short, I just knew; however, here are three of the biggest reasons I chose to stay home next year.

First of all, I hope to bring home Sweet C within the next school year. That would have been the third child-related "crisis"/crazy scenario in my four years as a head coach. That's too much. Not to mention the fact that she'll need more bonding time after being in a foster home for so long. (Side note: It breaks my heart every time I read that she has a strong bond with her foster mother, for I know that the bond will have to be broken in order for her to join our family, and I will have to be the one to do it. Although I know it will be far better in the long run, I worry the short-term heartbreak will be excruciating.)

Secondly, in case you've somehow missed it, I am an introvert who likes to do instead of relate. This doesn't just mean I am quiet; it means that being around people (furthermore, leading people) 12+ hours a day was extremely exhausting for me. By the end of the year, even some of the friendly visits of students--whom I loved--at the end of the day got challenging for me. Part of that is my own sin problem: Jenny wants what Jenny wants (usually, that means personal space). God is working on me about that, and I have seen some improvements. But the other part of that has always been my personality, and I'm trying to determine if it's a vice or a virtue: I'd rather do than talk. That makes me sound like an awful woman (or a guy...guys don't tend to be all that relational), but I'm hoping someone understands. In the end, I realized volleyball seasons didn't allow for time to recharge by myself, which I desperately needed. Most importantly, my kids needed it, too, as I am not the most fun person to be around when I'm worn to the bone and just need to be alone for five minutes. (And, yes, I realize I will have the same situation at home at times: Kids who need attention and myself who wants to do my own thing in silence. However, I'm ready for this new challenge, and I think we will all be better off because at least I can keep the house somewhat clean. That's a big deal to my neat-freak self, as even a dirty kitchen could wreak havoc on my fatigued self.)

Third, I couldn't fake the intense love for volleyball anymore. Adoption changed me. It broke my heart. It continues to break my heart. Orphans need families who are crazy enough to be crazy about them. I can't wait to be that family for C, and I hope to be more involved in adoption/advocacy as I enter this new phase of life. But volleyball--for all of the fun it's offered me over the decades--is not in my heart anymore, and my players needed it to be there. For all the fun it provided me (and still provides me, when I dare to get my old self on the court), it just didn't seem important anymore, and it needed to be important for me to keep coaching it.

And yes, I could have just given up volleyball and taught English. But it wasn't right. For a thousand reasons, it wasn't. There are other important things out there and--at least for now--those other things are the things on which I need to focus.

But seriously, how sweet are those vb girls? LOVED this note.
(And the key..."because you always sent me to find your keys!")
Wonder how long it will be before Brody asks if I can please go back to school?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chained in

As we await more news from the Congolese adoption front, I want to share Both Ends Burning's investigation into halted adoptions in Nepal. It's a very interesting situation, particularly in my world, now that I better understand the US Department of State's role in international adoption from other countries. Points 3, 4, 5 and 6 from the above link are particularly interesting, shameful and exceedingly sad for the orphaned children of Nepal, who would otherwise have a chance to be placed in families rather than in institutionalized care.

(In case you're not familiar with the effects that long-term institutionalized care has on children, please read Orphan Justice or check out this link from CHIFF.

And consider this (image from CHIFF website, above):



Somebody's got to be absolutely crazy about a child for him or her to have a chance at normal development. (As a mom of a couple of toddlers, I assure you that I am always crazy about my children but not always crazy about the wild ride of their emotions we all must ride together some days. Think about it: What would happen if your children did not have someone to crazy-love them the way you do?)

The children in Nepal had families who were crazy about them, although they may never have met. (I know the feeling...so tired of waiting to hold Sweet C!!) They had hopes for them. They had rooms for them with monogrammed wall art and baseball gloves and tutus. They had books to read them and hugs to share. But it was all taken away by our government without proper justification.

Need a visual to help you see the problem? Here you go. It might break your heart. And I kind of hope it does.