Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pray your hearts out, people

We received hopeful news today. Nothing official, nothing set in stone, BUT things seem to be moving in a good direction to get Clementine home sooner rather than later.

Today, in-country reps picked up her visa and submitted it to the office that reviews files and issues exit letters. They seemed optimistic after dropping off the paperwork.

We need your prayers for exit letters tomorrow. Yes, letters with an "s."

I can explain later. 

Please pray your hearts out, people. Tomorrow is a big day.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A visa

Clementine's visa has been issued! We have been waiting almost three weeks for this specific bit of great news, and we are so thankful to finally hear it. (I did some extra emailing and calling early this morning. Maybe all that begging helped, maybe it didn't.) 

Our reps in DRC can pick up the visa tomorrow, and we are praying when they drop it off the officials will see fit for her to receive a medical exit letter as well. 

There are a few other details that need to be worked out to get her home quickly. Please pray that she receives the promise of an exit letter and that God will work out details to bring her to us VERY SOON. 

We are in awe of our prayer warrior friends and family and of our great God's answers to prayer. He is in our midst, and we are so thankful.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Life is messy

I guess you could say that life is a bit busy these days.

More accurately, one could describe it as messy.

After a completely booked past two weeks, we are now on our way to our third family Christmas celebration in three days. Oaklee has had hives, been goopy-eyed and now has croup, Brody and I have had a cough for two weeks, and with all of these body aches I feel like I've been hit by a small truck. 

I'm in a battle with our non-insurance insurance company from Oaklee's delivery, and Brecken is still recovering from an accident that sent us to the ER with a split-wide-open tongue. I cannot even accurately describe how deeply his tongue was split open. We are talking flapping tongue parts from a huge gash on the back of his tongue. (I can't wait to get the bill for that trip. At least we got a stuffed panda out of it.)

By now you may have heard that my husband and I, along with two of our friends and a decent-sized group of people in our community, are planting a church. I fought against this idea hard and strong for a while there, but finally God showed me the light and made it pretty clear this is what we are supposed to be doing now. I've dropped my sadness, fear, and grief over our future at our current church in exchange for excitement. I can see that God is at work, so I have resigned to his better plan. 

We have been in the process of naming the church...I'm pushing hard for "4 Him & U2" but no one else has jumped on that bandwagon yet. They will all come around one of these days. 

So there's that. It's a bit stressful knowing that the comforts of a big church and the familiarity of the many of the people we have joined arms with over the last seven years will no longer surround us, but if I've learned anything at all in our adoption and baby journeys, it's that the Lord sustains. He will be in our midst, so I don't have to be afraid of where He leads us.

That said, since I "write good English" I have been designated as church by-law author and let me tell you, it's just thrilling work. Besides, I have nothing else going on...life is super slow and boring, so I might as well fill my time with by-laws about elders, non-profits, rules, church discipline and voting quarums. Those 57 loads of laundry can wait. :o)

Then there's this adoption. The Embassy finally has a medical document corrected and back in their possession, but we are still waiting for them to issue a visa. Once that visa is issued our paperwork will be complete at DGM and they can make a determination on Clementine's medical exit letter. We PRAY they see fit for her to receive one to get medical care in the States and join our family VERY SOON. Please pray that she receives a visa early this week and then get cleared for a medical exit upon submission of her paperwork. We are praying God will work out some details (and I'll be making some more phone calls to DRC at 2 am to get a visa status check).

We have also begun working with City Sessions Bentonville and Pure Charity to start City Sessions Springfield. City Sessions  are monthly live music events that raise money for a cause. Our cause is Help One Now, which mobilizes local leaders and communities to create real change to address the orphan crisis, poverty, contaminated drinking water, and a myriad of other debilitating issues in the community. Help One Now will begin working in DRC this year, and we are excited to jump in and see how God uses us and our tribe in their endeavors.

And we have a teenager staying in our basement. He is a great kid who has endured a lot of disappointments, and the way he holds his head up and manages to be good at what he does is astounding. We aren't sure how long he'll be around, but he has brought even more life to our family and light to our basement. Our boys have asked him approximately 5,788 questions since he's been here. Poor guy! He didn't know what he was getting into with us!

So yes, our life is messy and continues to get messier. I feel like our house needs to be fumigated to rid it of the germs, and although I always enjoy Christmas and all that it reminds us of, I'm excited to pack up the Christmas stuff, sort and purge our everyday items, and buy ourselves a bit more space and a lot more "normal." 

Because we are so normal.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

That sermon Sunday

Guys, some of you who read this nonsense blog go to our church. That means you may have heard Brad teach on Sunday. You may have also seen him "looking like he came straight out of Hudson Hawk," (He looked fresh, people. Daniel should not be jealous just because he has no hairs to get cut at Hudson Hawk.)

I need to clue you in on a few things regarding what you heard and saw on Sunday. (This pastor's wife gig has me all sorts of weirded out and awkward. I guess I might as well see what the future "church planter's wife" gig does to me. At least I'm one step closer to Jen Hatmaker status: four kids, adoptive mom, writer (ish), "Jen," sarcastic, and now CHURCH PLANTER.) 

Just so you know, I have the urge to clear up things Brad says on stage every time he gets up there. I might make it a thing. 

1--I think he looks GOOD in that vest and his cool kid jeans. It almost makes the ridiculous bushyness of his beard ok. In fact, I think it makes his beard look hot. Don't you dare tell him I said that. (That beard, though, really...I'd settle for a trim, if nothing else.)

2--"Don't judge me." Yes, this is a go-to phrase around the Lotz house. Yes, he DID buy a bag of frozen burritos Saturday night. Yes, he did eat them at 11 PM. (Side note: Yes, we DID already have a Sam's-sized bag of the same burritos in our freezer. Dear future dinner guests, do you like burritos?)

Also, he went to Wal-Mart last night for hair gel. This is so out of the ordinary for him that I don't even know what to say about it. I guess he has to keep me on my toes.

And yes, he did get a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in his Wal-Greens trip Friday night. It was absolutely annihilated by 8:05 am Saturday morning, just ten minutes after the boys found it.

I requested a carton of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food on his trip last night. That carton has two bites remaining. Don't judge me. 

3--To me, the fact that he loves God's Word is the most attractive thing in the world. God's Word, and even Brad's love for God's Word in and of itself, has revolutionized our marriage. It has been the standard by which we have discerned our actions, our reactions, our opinions, and our thoughts. Brad has been the guiding light on that standard, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

4--I sometimes worry that his intensity--mixed with his black beard and furrowed brows--frightens people to the point of no return. In all honesty, he could smile more but it would just be weird. 

5--When he says words like "crap" in a service I quietly cringe and shake my head from my seat in the back row. But then I laugh because I can't help myself. I just love him. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

A prayer post

Clementine's medical documents have been submitted. We have an important appointment on Wednesday. We have reason to be *oh so cautiously* excited and hopeful, but our daughter will not come home (and get the important medical treatment she now needs) without God's hand in this. 

Once again, we ask for your prayers this week. Please pray for favor and compassion from officials reviewing her paperwork (resulting in a medical exit letter) and a smooth appointment on Wednesday that results in a visa for her.

(No idea what I'm talking about? Please see previous posts and follow links as needed. I have zero time to put links in this post.) :o)

Bless you all for joining us in this journey!

Friday, December 4, 2015

One more thing

A quick post as an update from yesterday's adoption news. We found out after posting yesterday that Clementine has an appointment with the embassy next week. 

The embassy medical evaluation that she has to have done to get a visa has been completed, so we are **hoping** and **praying** that this appointment leads to the issuance of a visa for her.

That would leave us with only one thing left: the elusive exit letter. We are pursuing an emergency medical exit letter so she can be treated here ASAP. 

You have prayed with us before...please join us again in prayer, this time for a Christmas miracle. God has already done so much! We are praying big for compassion, favor, mercy, and a rapid, favorable decision for her to receive medical care AND join her family here. In other words, we are praying for a medical exit letter ASAP!

(It is so very hard to stay sober-minded right now as we continue to see evidence of progress being made!)


Thursday, December 3, 2015

adoption news

Ok, guys...a bonus post for a quick adoption update.

Because we finally have some things to update you on.

1. We have a passport for Clementine. HALLELUJAH!! Now all we need is a visa and that elusive Exit Letter.

2. We have been pursuing a medical exit letter for Clementine. We put her name on a list with the Embassy and then were asked to submit documents to DGM (the office that gives Exit Letters). Documents included our original dossier (official paperwork), passport, visa, and three medical opinions that state that she is sick and her condition cannot be treated in DRC. We knew it was a LONG SHOT that TB would be considered untreatable there, but it truly isn't treated well there and we have seen a few stories of children coming home with severely grave symptoms only to discover it was TB. She also had a severe case of tremors when she came into care that we want to get checked out through neurological exams to make sure there isn't a long-term problem.

We had been waiting for the medical letters for several weeks, but we finally got copies of them Monday. Our great friend translated them for us, and it turns out she also has a disease that affects her kidneys (as I learned from a quick google search), and she needs surgery that cannot be performed there. The doctors recommend that she be transferred to an equipped hospital outside of DRC.

All of this means we are praying & praying & praying she will receive an exit letter so she can be treated here. As you can imagine, have mixed emotions about this news of another medical issue. I hate that she has it but I hope and pray good will come of it.

3. We were told that the rep in DRC who works for our adoption agency will turn her medical reports in sometime this week. We haven't heard anything yet, and I am all sorts of anxious while trying to keep my cool in the wait. We are praying they truly are turned in this week (AND SOON), that the workers who review her case will have compassion, and that all of this leads to an exit that will allow her to be treated here with us, her family.

We covet your prayers as we await news.

(A few families have received medical exit letters lately. We hope and pray this is the beginning of great things for everyone.)

ugly laughing

In a complete diversion from the norm on Tuesdays, I spent my Tuesday morning laughing my tail off.

I was late for Mom's group because A) I had to feed Joanna; B) I had to feed Oaklee; C) one child who shall remain nameless had a terrible morning and did not want to 1) take a shower; 2) get out of the shower once in it; 3) wear clothes; 4) act rationally. 

It was such a special morning.

By the time I got to the group (20 minutes late), I needed something. I wasn't sure what I needed, but I needed it so badly it almost hurt. Maybe I needed a swift kick in the rear, a reminder that I should be full of grace, or a slap on the hand. Or maybe I needed a back and shoulder rub from THE LOAD of stress that seems to settle there.

Our current study deals with marriage and as I headed into the session I wondered how our marriage could be any better, considering the fact that we don't have time or energy to create problems. We just L-I-V-E without a huge extent of drama. But the lesson did not disappoint and reminded me that we can't just L-I-V-E mindlessly without purpose, even with our own spouses.

The video lesson can be summed up with "love loves to love." I know, that sounds a bit cheesy, but it really was excellent. I love Brad, but do I seek out ways to love him well? Do I love to love him in the very best ways that are tailored to his loves and preferences? Probably not.

The lesson served as a great reminder of that one time long ago when I decided I'd become a student of my husband and learn as much about him as I could in order to love him well. I even had a notebook for note-taking. (How cute and idealistic of me.) I abandoned that cause somewhere along the way, maybe somewhere around the second child...I'm not sure. I told myself I'd continue to take notes in my brain, but have you ever looked into the brain of a mom with four kids, one of which is thousands of miles away? It's not good in there. Lots of thoughts floating around in semi/pseudo organized fashion. I can't access the data that quickly. So, lesson learned. Take more notes, Jenny. (This explains why I am currently wearing a pink camo shirt that he gave me a long time ago. I know he likes it--or is at least trying to convert me to being a hunter with it--so I'm wearing it. Because I love to love him.)

Anyway, I digress. I was late, so I sat at a back table in a corner with two others. When discussion time came, my friend (who happens to be my husband's boyfriend's wife) and I chose to sit in on "the rowdy table," as we have affectionately named it. You know that table...the blunt, loud, laughing ladies you might secretly wish you were more like than not. 

They did not disappoint. My face hurt from laughing hard for one hour straight. Favorite terms included, "Don't I just deserve to relax on Facebook for an hour or more in the afternoon?" and, "Honey, I've been praying about it, and I think you should..." There was also a solid story about poop (punny?), as well as some actual gagging.

I cannot even begin to tell you what that hour did for my soul. I didn't ugly cry at all on Tuesday...I ugly laughed. It was bliss. (I don't remember the last time I laughed like a little kid, do you?)

Laughter is what I needed, and laughter is what I got. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

winning online

My mom and I braved the cold and rain early Friday morning to get some of our holiday shopping done, and I must say, we killed it. Tons of deals. (Belk for the win. No kidding...Belk! Tons of big-impact toys for small budgets.)

No children came with us, no lines at the checkouts, no fights. AND I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping. I think we can thank the rain. It poured and poured here, and most people probably chose to stay inside instead of braving the elements in search of good deals.

That said, I have a few more people for which I need to buy gifts, and I'll probably do that online. For one, it is no fun shopping with three young kids. ("Can I put this on my Christmas list?" is only cute for so long.)

Secondly, Ebates is knocking my socks off.

Let me tell you why it's so great:

1. Ebates has a registry of coupon codes, and in one click it will run every one of them through the code box at your checkout. If one coupon works, great! You've saved money! If two work, even better! If one works better than another and you can only apply one code, Ebates does the math for you and applies the best code to maximize saved cash money. So easy.

2. Ebates offers you cash back when you purchase items from online retailers (Old Navy, Target, Etsy, Walmart, Kohls, Tom's, etc.). All you have to do is choose your retailer through the Ebates app, the Ebates site, or through the installed and activated browser button. (All you have to do is click on the browser button to activate your Ebates account when you get to a page where you'll be doing some shopping. The button even changes colors to indicate when cash back and/or coupons are available.

3. Black Friday/Cyber Monday cash back percentages are HUGE this time of year, as well as at other random times of the year. 12% at Nike, 4% at Walmart, 6% at Kohl's, 10% at Groupon. It's kind of outrageous. I don't do a ton of online shopping, but when I do I try to use Ebates so that I get a percentage of the price of stuff I would already be buying comes right back to me via an actual check in the mail. Neat, huh? (Carter's is killing me with cuteness for Oaklee clothes, so if I order something I automatically get a small fraction back. Of course, I don't use this to legitimize my Carter's purchases or anything...)

4. There's even an Ebates app. Yep. It's easy.

Most people are probably already using Ebates, but if you're not I highly encourage you to try it. It can earn you lots of money. I have gotten checks for over $80 in the course of a year or so, and I don't even shop online that much. I am on a low-frills budget (Carter's makes this oh-so hard), so that amount of money came back to me from purchases I would be making even if I didn't have Ebates.

Full disclosure: You can earn $100 by referring 3 friends. Of course, I'd love to get $100 straight to my pocket because three people reading this used the links provided to sign up, BUT mostly I am sharing this because it's so free and easy and automatically earns money for things I'd be buying anyway.

Happy Cyber Monday-shopping!! Let's all get all of the shopping done early so we can enjoy the season, mmmkay?

As we say in our house, it's a win-win-win.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving thanks

This time of year is particularly bittersweet for me as we surpass family get-togethers, special events, and holidays I never thought we'd see before having Clementine home with us. Last Thanksgiving, I said to myself, "Surely she will be home for this next year."

Surely she would get to wear the clothes I unwrapped for her from her MeMaw and PaPaw two years ago at Christmas. Surely we'd be celebrating her first Christmas with us in 2014. When that didn't happen, SURELY I thought it would be in 2015. Surely she'd get to hang her own stocking this year.

I silently scoffed at my husband when he prayed, on January 1, 2015, that she would be home "this year." Why not pray big and ask for her to be home in January 2015I thought. A 2015 homecoming should be an easy prayer for God to answer. God will have a whole year to answer that prayer! (And I literally thought I wouldn't be able to handle it if we were still waiting now. I thought I would surely implode.)

Yet, here we are. I haven't imploded, but there have been times when my emotions have exploded. I haven't died, but there have been times I've been enslaved by my my anxiety and stress in the wait. I haven't lost it, but I have lost my temper due to a combo of more bad news and tiny missteps of my kids who are at home.

Yet, here I am, and there she is, WAY OVER THERE on the other side of the world. And I'm still standing, often lacking in grace and abundant in hopelessness.

But He remains. I don't understand any of this...why He called us to adopt and then not said a simple word that would let Clementine join our family; why He would allow children to die while waiting; why we are waiting so long when I think I know what's best. 

But He remains. He is constant. He adores us as we wait, and He adores her, too. He is teaching us. He is pouring out His grace over us. He is not surprised by anything here, nor is this situation out of his grasp. He is refining us. He is allowing us to be thankful, despite the trial. He is faithful. He is good. 

So while my heart may ache a bit when I thank God for family, I have plenty of things to count as blessings. (Here, a general list:)

Family--Bradlee, Brody, Brecken, Clementine, and Oaklee. Parents. Grandparents (all still living). Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. All are special to me for so many reasons.

Friends, who are also amazing prayer warriors.

Clean water--Because we will never forget those two precious children we lost due to contaminated water.

My new community of Congo mamas--We understand and encourage one another in ways others simply cannot.

Chocolate--my constant companion

This wait--It has not always been pretty, nor has it been fun, but it has taught me SO MUCH. It has strengthened my faith in our great God, helped me decipher between "important" and "trivial" and "need" and "want." I truly am thankful for it; I'm just ready for it to end.

God's Word--His continual reminder of his goodness and grace.

I could go on and on about God's goodness and the ways He displays it, but I think this sums it up: 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

joanna

I'm working a few post for www.loveforcongo.blogspot.com today, but I've got a short thought or two to write about (between my obsessive email-checking and prayers for Clementine).

We got a baby girl cow last week. We are so dumb. But she's cute right now so that helps us feel slightly good about the decision.




And doesn't my husband look handsome in his dress shirt and overalls? Like a farmer who dabbles in manly man modeling.


We finally convinced the boys to name the poor heifer. You know what they chose? JOANNA. YOu want to know where that came from? Here's a hint:

Image from http://magnoliahomes.net/about/
Image from http://woty.com/recipients/chip-and-joanna-gaines/
ARE THEY NOT THE CUTEST? That is Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. I might be slightly obsessed with the show, and I might have watched back-to-back episodes on Netflix like it was my job as a coping mechanism while waiting for important adoption info last week. (Chocolate has failed me. I think I have eaten so much it has lost its effect. I did not even know that was possible.)

So, yes, I believe my kids have named our heifer after Joanna. Sorry, Joanna. It's really a compliment. It proves that (A) I have watched the show nonstop for quite some time, and (B) my four-year-old likely thinks you're "beautiful."

Let me tell you, thought, Fixer Upper is the very best house show ever, and Chip and Joanna are the cutest couple ever. (And they are just good, genuine, Christ-following people, too.)

Furthermore, I have convinced Brad that we need to be more like them (even though he says they're probably faking their sweetness for TV...I think not). We are trying out the nickname "baby" to see if it'll stick. So far, it's extremely awkward, like calling your dog "Daisy" when her real name is "Pat." But we'll get there, right?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

my husband's boyfriend

It's hunting season. You know what that means...husbands across the nation got tons of stuff checked off of their honey-do lists in September to "earn" themselves the right to leave their families for a while. That shelf you wanted hung in September? He might be more likely to do it now. That basement stench you wanted him to check into in May? He's on it. That loose spindle on the stairs? It's now solidly in place.

In the past, I have struggled to be happy for my husband's hunting trips because OY VEY, I was at home by myself with two wild boys after being at work all day while he enjoyed himself and slept. (Insert feelings of anger, jealousy, bewilderment, resentment, etc. All of which were wrong, by the way.)

This year and last, hunting season hasn't been as taxing because my volleyball season hadn't just ended (leaving me exhausted in every way) and I haven't had to go and be "on" at work while also being overwhelmed and tired at home. Not to mention the fact that we have a new baby in the house and she keeps me swooning over her cuteness. Cuteness covers a multitude of sins. (Not that she has many, as you may have read yesterday.)

That said, this year I was jealous of something else that I never would have suspected: Brad's boyfriend. 

You heard me. I have used the term "boyfriend" to (ah-hem) affectionately refer to Brad's hunting buddy. 

Please allow me to explain the term before also explaining that I have toned it down a bit on my terminology for his friend. Here's why this situation is VERY SIMILAR to two dating teenagers:

1. When he calls, several things happen. First of all, immediate smile the size of a 12-pointer. Then he gets a shiny, sparkling glint in his eye, as if he is already anticipating the punch line to a joke or a harrowing hunting story. It's similar to the sparkle you might find in the eyes of a 17-year-old girl who looks down at her ringing phone to see that "Blue Eyes and Dimples" or "Bae" (I'm gagging over this terminology) is calling. He also starts moving around to work off the excited energy, and the volume of his voice increases while talking about plots and ruts and moon phases. (It's an entirely different language, I tell you.)

2. Nightly phone calls and hourly texts.

3. Their relationship seems to be built on a profuse amount of inside jokes, sarcasm and an irrational love of something that's irrelevant to most people. (In this case, it's bowhunting.)

His boyfriend's wife also noticed these weird relationship quirks, so I don't think I was WAAAY off base in joking about their relationship. 

However, beneath all my jokes was also a bit of hurt and jealousy. Does he get that glint in his eye when I call him? No. Because I'm calling to tell him that so-and-so has just peed the bed AGAIN or that such-and-such is broken. Do we talk this much about hobbies and fun stuff? No. Because newborn exhaustion is in full effect and we had to talk about real stuff like, "Let's pay that hospital bill. YAY!" and "What do we have going on tonight?" (We sometimes could not even think about what was happening tomorrow night because we couldn't keep up with today.) Do we have any jokes? No. Nothing is funny when you have a newborn in the house, two crazies jumping on the couch while you're trying to talk, and a daughter who is not allowed to join your family.

I was jealous, feeling hurt and left out because I was at home with three kids while he was going to breakfasts and lunches with his buddy (a few buddies, really). This also happened to take place at one of the busiest times in the life of a church, which was extremely unfortunate, because I just missed my husband. Period.

But then I went to a meeting at church and learned two things that took the sting out of his relationship.  

1. Most men are struggling to be authentic with other men. It's hard for men (all of us, really) to admit when they're having problems with their kids, their marriages, and their jobs. 

2. Most men do not have other men in their lives to "spur one another on toward love and good works." (Hebrews 10:24). 

Lucky for him--and for me--Brad had the sort of relationship with this hunting buddy/buddies in which he could share his struggles as a dad, husband (I am often hard to love. Shocking, I know.), church leader and Christ follower. His buddies could listen and understand his struggles in ways I never could, and in turn they could help him through them. He could even say, "My wife is a crazy person," and his buddies would understand, nod their heads and say, "I'm sorry, man." I am certain that his buddy/buddies would also point out areas where Brad is lacking grace, wisdom, humility, and discipline (or a myriad of other things) in order to spur him on to love and good works. 

So after getting over my own jealousy of his great relationship with someone else and realizing the hidden perks of my husband having a "boyfriend," I dropped the terminology like a bad habit and thanked God that Brad has people who will listen and understand, then speak up because Christ's love compels them to do so.

In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, our marriage is probably even stronger and better because of their relationship. Because, really, Brad is a pretty cool guy and I love being married to him, and I'm not as crazy as I may seem on the blog and I think he's not mad about being married to me, either. 

(But seriously, back off my man, Travis.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

she's so dreamy

(We are praying huge prayers these days. I'm going to pretend to distract myself between those prayers by writing some of the posts I've had in my head for a long time but haven't had time to write.)

First up for the week, please excuse me while I absolutely GUSH about this girl. She is the sweetest, dreamiest, happiest baby ever.


I have to admit it was touch-and-go there for a little while around weeks 5-6. Everything was seriously awesome about her except for bedtime, which is when it is so important for things to be awesome. By 9 or 10 PM I was exhausted and ready to be sleeping and Oaklee would be like, "Hey, time to play!" or "I'm grumpy," or "Feed me." I really never knew which of those it was, so I tried a variety of remedies for all of the above and she still wasn't thrilled about life and at that point neither was I.

Then two amazing things happened:

1 -- She found her thumb, which is oh-so cute right now. (I realize it will not be so cute when she is four or five. We will cross that bridge when we get to it, but we need it right now.) That thumb changed our lives. Before the thumb, she acted repulsed by pacifiers, which meant I spent a most of my evenings nursing to comfort her because I thought that's what she wanted. After she found the thumb, I found that I could put her down in her bassinet and she would take a little while to find it BUT THEN SHE WAS GOLDEN.


 2 -- I figured out that she just likes to be put down when she's tired. I'm sure the thumb-sucking helped with this situation, but it's also possible I was trying too hard to get her to sleep at night. When I held her, she seemed to want to nurse, BUT I think if I would have just put her down in most instances she would have been happy to go to sleep. It's mildly depressing to think about how much sleep I lost because of this, but this scenario is rocking my face off now. Now when she starts looking tired or overstimulated I put her in bed and leave her alone. (I think this is the way people should deal with me.) She sometimes likes to snuggle and I do so gladly, but when I know she's tired the very best way to make her happy is to leave her and let her cute little thumb do its thing.

"Make the world go away." - Oaklee (and myself)

I know I'm not supposed to compare kids, but Brecken was not like this. He needed to be touched and moving ALWAYS, and he could tell the altitude difference between sitting and standing. (Brecken has many fine qualities. His sleep habits from age 0-1 were not among them. Sometimes his sleep habits at age 3 are not among them.) And we pretty much snuggled Brody any chance we got because we weren't sure until several months into his life that he would be ours forever. He is still quite a little snuggle-bug.

I should also mention that her cry is the daintiest little thing you'll ever hear. When she's tired or hungry, she usually lets us know with a little whimper-squeal. I am not joking. It's the cutest. She doesn't even cry in the middle of the night when she's hungry. In the past few weeks, I would just wake up to her cute little ambitious sucking noises and feed her, then put her back in bed, where she'd continue to sleep. She is so DREAMY! Last night, I didn't get her up for a feeding; she slept from 8:30-6:30. 10 hours!! (Try Babywise, people. We used it with Brody and Brecken, but I didn't have a ton of control over what happened when I was working.)

Some people say we deserved an easy baby with all the crazy baby stuff we've endured (and are currently enduring waiting for Clementine). I'm not sure if I could have handled a high-stress baby and a high-stress adoption at the same time, but God has always poured out his grace for us in circumstances we thought would be overwhelming, so I'm sure he would have done so again.

I just hope and pray that all of this current laid-back awesomeness doesn't come back as drama-drama-drama and bite us in the rear when she enters the tween years. If that's the case, we will require plenty of grace. Lord, help us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

worth the wait

First, an apology: For last week, when I was definitely not sober-minded. Crying in my kitchen floor was clearly not an indicator that I trust God with all of the details of Clementine's life. (But I do!) It was just that one day, but it was a rough one.

So thankful that He knows. (Image from this amazing shop!)

Here is what you need to know about the current situation in DRC:

Fourteen legal Exit Letters were awarded to Americans out of nearly 300 waiting cases. That's a very small fraction of waiting children who will be joining their families in America. (FYI: 72 of around 1,000 total international cases will receive Exit Letters.) It's small win, so we celebrate it. It's a HUGE win for those families who have waited so long to be together, so we celebrate their togetherness even more. In fact, one family that will receive an Exit Letter lives in Missouri, and we plan to meet them at the airport to celebrate their forever family unification! That will be SO FUN!!! We don't even know them, but when you travel down the same road of waiting together for so long, you really do grow to love people as family. We are so happy their family is together at last.

We still don't know much about what the future holds for the rest of us who wait to bring kids home, but we know it will be worth it. Clementine--and every one of these kids for which we are waiting--is worth it! They all deserve families; it's just so hard to wait!

(PS--I bought her a shirt this summer that says, "Worth the Wait." (It's similar to the onesies pictured below.) It's a size 2T. I hope it still fits her when she comes home!!!

From this cute Etsy shop.
For now, we pray that none of us have to wait for new laws in DRC before we get Exit Letters. We pray for wisdom. We pray for discernment regarding decisions surrounding Clementine's medical status (more on this later). We pray for doctors who will see her and review her medical files. We pray for favor. We pray that families are united before Christmas. These are all HUGE prayers. We know we have HUGE prayer warriors out there and an even HUGER (not a word...whatev) God who is ABLE.

Thank you all for your prayers. I believe they lifted me out of the pit last week. I see hope again. There's just more waiting...


ALSO, check out the blog we--parents who are waiting for children from DRC--have created to display our love for our children and their birth country: Love for Congo! We will be talking about adoption, birth family love, DRC love, culture, Congolese recipes, and supporting DRC and/or DRC adoptive parents.

You can even buy this sweet shirt here. It's a fundraiser for an organization that works with vulnerable orphans in DRC.

Available in all styles.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

hope to cope

I mentioned yesterday that we got some crummy news Monday evening. The day took me for a loop because early Monday morning there were indications that the DRC adoption crisis was coming to an end. We had hopes up, then they were dashed. 

So I wallowed in self-pity for a bit on Tuesday then pulled myself together with the help of songs, God's Word, good friends, and even a Facebook post or two. 

I'm back to share some of the things that kept me out of a full-on self-pity fest. Hopefully these can help someone who is traveling on a difficult road like we are now. 

First, this quote, which happened upon my Facebook feed as I was losing it: 

"If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in his dealings with us. Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy our individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? It will mean not knowing why God is taking us that way, because knowing would make us spiritually proud. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize — God has strengthened me and I didn't even know it!" ~ Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

As things continue to unfold badly, my temptation is to ask, "Why, God? Why have you called us into this?" We may never know why this has been such a hard (LONG) journey, but we don't need to know. We are on it, and He will use us because of it. 

God's Word: 
Zephaniah 3:17 -- 

"The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

**This has become an absolute favorite. I never understood this verse until I had kids and knew what it meant to rejoice over them with gladness, quiet them with my love, and rejoice over them with singing. So reassuring to know God does this over his children and over our children near and far. He is in our midst with the power to save!

Psalm 3 -- So good. (Thanks Shannon!) Full chapter here.

I feel you, verses 3 & 4...
"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill."

Psalm 27:14 -- "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
From Etsy 

From here
From Etsy

(Many of these images are from my dedicated waiting-for-Clementine Pinterest board, which keeps me sane in these times of waiting.)

Songs (Titles are linked to YouTube videos): 
"If You Want Me To" (Ginny Owens)
**Relevant lyrics (Um, they are all relevant): "The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear. I don't know the reason why you've brought me here. But just because you love me the way that you do, I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to. Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step, and I'm clinging to the promise that you're not through with me yet. So if all of these trials bring me closer to you, then I will go through the fire, if you want me to."

"Where You Are" (Mandi Mapes)
**"I love you more than you can say. When you're sleeping I'm awake, tears on my pillow. Only one thing matters in this life. Will you make it to the other side? And do you believe in bridges?" 
**"I've been there myself, put my faith in a manmade god." (umm, DRC and US governments)
**"When the waters rise and the stars fall from the skies, I will not be alone."

"Oceans" (Hillsong United)
**"You've never failed, and you won't start now." (And this whole song...a reminder that we ASKED for this. We asked to be led to a place where we couldn't understand it all and where we'd have to truly trust God with everything. Here we are, learning to fully trust. Be careful what you sing about...do you really mean it?)

Hallelujah (Bethany Dillon)

And there you have it. These truths are helping to keep me together in peace. Hope some of them helped you if you are weary. (Of course there are dozens more...)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tuesday--true to form

Yesterday was one for the books.

Let me try to situate this story. Saturday brought with it hope that it was the beginning of the end of the Exit Letter Suspension. Our Embassy reported that DGM had called them Saturday morning to request information for medically fragile adopted children. Our Embassy needed that info by 11 am our time. I scrambled to send an email for Clementine, since she had TB that was untreated for some time along with a few other issues since being brought into care as an infant. (I took the opinions and situations of others into consideration when submitting her info and was given the green light. I did not want to take time and consideration away from children who were deathly ill.)

We hoped this request from DGM was the beginning of a turnaround to get children home in some way. We hoped the medically fragile children would be considered and brought home, then the next batch of homecomings would occur.

Monday came, and with it came AMAZING news. 72 children from around the world will be granted Exit Letters, thus allowing them to join their families very soon. We rejoiced. This was great news. (Article here.)

But the article in which we read the amazing news also contained some concerning news: Around 1,000 children will remain stuck in DRC until new adoption laws are drafted, approved and implemented.

We have been told for over a year that they are working on new adoption laws. We have also been told that those new laws will not be retroactive, meaning they will not affect adoptions that have already been finalized. It can take YEARS to created and implement new laws. YEARS. And we have already waited two years. (Some have known of and been waiting for their children for 3-4 years.)

Senator Blunt's amazing staffer held an informal conference call with us Monday evening. Brad and I listened while driving to Arkansas. The news was not good. DRC does not want to hear about adoption anymore. They have dissolved the commission that was supposed to be reviewing over 1,000 dossiers of finalized adoptions (after only reviewing 99 and telling us since June that they were working on it and then telling us later that they had reviewed all of them).

They are shutting the door on us and sending the problem to Parliament, where they will supposedly vote on new adoption laws.

We hopped off the conference call to attend a meeting in Arkansas. The timing could not have been better (or worse) for our reeling emotions. We stuffed those aside to be present with this huge community of people is coming together to serve DRC well. Our new friends are banding with others as a tribe to do BIG AMAZING THINGS for Congolese people. (I hope to return soon to describe this in greater detail.) We placed our concerns behind us as we learned about everything these people are doing to help others in DRC. It was a healing salve over our hurting hearts.

Tuesday morning came, and with it, a conference call with our State Department. I didn't listen to the call because those calls often feel futile, but I watched as comments flew onto a Facebook wall of the group of parents who are working to get our kids home. It wasn't good.

NO HOPE. There was no hope.

Our Department of State basically feels as if it has been sucker punched. They didn't answer our questions well. They are going to work with DRC's Parliament to create the new laws, which tells me we have a VERY LONG TIME to wait for our children. At times, it seems possible that we will not be bringing Clementine home--EVER--despite the fact that she is our daughter, legally and otherwise.

Needless to say, I spent much of yesterday crying (in true Tuesday form). Bawling, really. My despair was palpable in our home. My kids felt it. They were difficult to handle. They were emotional. They were on edge. (All three of these also described me.) We were all out of sorts, including Oaklee who has been, until yesterday, the easiest Lotz baby ever.

I listened to music that reminded me of God's promises for His people. Of His love for His people. Of the beauty in the mess. Of hurts that are part of His greater plan. Friends and family rallied to send encouragement my way, reminding me of God's love for orphans and His promises to set the lonely in families and His ability to turn impossible situations around in mere moments. (I am SO incredibly thankful for these people--MY PEOPLE--who, at one point, I didn't even think I needed. I used to think I could be the only person on Earth who could be an island.)

He has a plan. I don't necessarily love what He's doing right now, but I love how He loves us. He has us in this valley for a reason and He is teaching us moment by moment to trust Him. (I'll be back tomorrow with some of the verses, songs and reminders that are helping to turn my broken heart around.)

Later in the evening, as I was thinking it was time to give up on the day and turn in for the night (at 7:30 PM because of the horrendous day), God literally brought a teenaged orphan of another sort to my doorstep.

(Oh, Lord, your timing...)

Oh sure, he has family members in the area, but they are not FOR him the way a family should be supporting a member. Brad brought him into our home to meet me and tell him he was welcome here any time he needed help, an escape from his situation, a clean and comfy bed, or a warm meal. (I don't cook well. We would order him a nice hot pizza.) I won't tell you his whole situation, but suffice it to say he has it much worse than we do and he isn't crying in his kitchen floor about it.

He needs a family just badly as Clementine needs a family. Just as Clementine needs a family to fight for her and cry over her and lavish her with love, he needs a family to fight for him, cry over him, and lavish him with love.

I'm not certain what will happen with him in the future, nor am I certain how long it will be before Clementine can physically join our family. However, we will approach the throne on his behalf, just as many are doing for our daughter across the world. They are both worth it, and today that seems like all we can do. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

i only cry on tuesdays

On Tuesdays, I go to "Moms' Group" (yet another thing I once mocked but now thoroughly enjoy).

It's quite an amazing group of ladies from our area who meet in order to learn how to better train up our children and serve our husbands. I have already learned a lifetime of information, and I haven't even been going for a full year.

Furthermore, the community that has been built with this like-minded group as our foundation is amazing. They have been meeting for years, and I have been welcomes as their own with such warmth that I truly feel like I've been with them all along. We learn together, laugh together, and cry together. We share deeply personal (and not-so-personal) struggles, and we often storm heaven with prayers for the sake of others. These ladies are amazing, and they are truly bearing one another's burdens.

Which is why I cry every Tuesday.

You see, I go about my days busily, hopping from one activity to the next. Laundry, folding clothes, dishes, cooking (eh...or not cooking), nursing a baby, working on letters with the boys, officiating scuffles, tying shoelaces, sweeping up crumbs, wiping pee from several places that are not the toilet bowl, picking up clothes, running errands, attempting to exercise, etc.

You get the idea. The list goes on and on, and I'm never truly finished.

I do it and don't really mind doing all of it because it keeps me busy. But in the back of my head there is this one thing: Clementine. She is always on my mind, but I have to place her back there because if I were to actively think of her every second, I surely wouldn't get anything done for all the crying.

But on Tuesdays, these amazing women ask how they can pray for me. Most know about Clementine and automatically ask about her. I don't mind them asking. She's my daughter, (Clementine Kaleo LOTZ, for crying out loud) and I love to talk about her. But when they ask, I have to move her from the back to the front of my mind, and that's extremely painful.

So then I start talking. I can usually get her name out: "Clementine. Please pray for Clementine." But it all goes downhill from there. The chin quiver comes and my eyes fill up and my nose automatically become a leaky dripping faucet. (Why can't I be a beautiful crier like Teri Roy??)

Suddenly, I'm undone.

These ladies are gracious enough to allow me to stumble through simultaneous sniffs and explanations of the latest news. (Usually, we have come off of a conference call or email from our Department of State saying that DRC said kids will be home "soon," which has been said since April and might just be why I am a crazy person right now.)

I usually put her in the back of my mind for six days of the week in order to be strong, be present with my kids who are here, and to get things done. But on Tuesdays, the tears always come.

I am so grateful that I am allowed to do that with these ladies and that they understand that I'm not a crazy person who cries constantly. I hate being vulnerable, and the crying is not only painful because of our long wait for Clementine but also because it is a kick to my pride.

I want people to think I have it all together, for goodness' sake.

But I don't, and I am so thankful that they care deeply and want to be able to pray for us well.

This wait for Clementine is the longest and hardest road I've ever been on, but I'm grateful I'm not crying alone.

Monday, October 19, 2015

the act of mercy that broke our hearts

We are near the two-year anniversary of the loss of "our" twins to dysentery in DRC, and I'm thinking new thoughts about "our" loss.

First of all, "our" twins is such a loose term.

They were never ours biologically. They were never officially ours through adoption. In fact, they were never fully anyone's except for God's. They were God's kids, just as "our" Brody, Brecken, Clementine and Oaklee are really God's kids.

We only knew of them for a month, but we already loved them like our own kids. And as hard as it is to imagine, He loves them--and the kids who are currently in our family--even more than we do.

Which is why I believe I am beginning to make some sense of their seemingly senseless deaths, even though the whole matter is a mystery too great for my brain to comprehend.)

In case you don't remember, dysentery is caused by unclean drinking water. Contaminated drinking water should never be a problem for anyone in the 21st Century, yet it wiped out almost an entire orphanage and the majority of a village. (33 of 52 kids in the orphanage died in this instance. You can learn more about it here.)

We tried to help. I wrote often of the need for clean water solutions. I spent days calling different organizations around the nation to gather information about water purification techniques and costs. Our agency gathered information, as well, and they collected thousands and thousands of dollars of assistance to combat the tragic situation. (Read more about this here and here.)

It was a tricky situation, with multiple children's lives at stake, as well as an entire village of people who were without clean drinking water. Adding to the issue of urgency was the issue of logistics. The village was in a region of DRC that was so elusive that only a plane ride was said to get you there. That plane trip, we were told, was only 90% successful, meaning 1 in 10 planes went down en route. Adding to and compounding the logical issues was the issue of cost. Plane rides cost money. Clean water systems cost plenty of money. Sustainable solutions cost an extraordinary amount of money.

Money, equipment and personnel were sent to assist the orphanage staff in providing clean water to the remaining children. They were sleeping on the floor. They were peeing and pooping on the floor. They were wearing shreds of old cloth as clothing.

The solutions our agency provided--through the help of multiple donors, experts, and thousands of dollars--could still only do so much. They provided clean water solutions with as much sustainability as humanly possible. They provided fresh mattresses and abundant cleaning supplies to wipe out the nasty germs of contamination. They provided formula and extra money to buy food to fill bellies that were bloated with emptiness.

We later learned that the orphanage was a terrible place for children, not only because of the health problems but also because of the way the children were treated. Older children--as young as six years old--were expected to act as mothers to younger children because orphanage workers were either so overloaded or so jaded they couldn't attend to all children's needs. Children were HUNGRY.

The orphanage continued to be dirty and debilitating for children, who were also at the mercy of unsafe conditions outside the orphanage's high walls. (High walls because of the instability of the situation outside its walls. Rioting and violence were commonplace right outside the doors.)

And there was and is nothing our agency can do about any of it. They tried. We tried. The situation kept getting worse. It was no place for children.

So as we approach the two-year-mark of the loss of "our" twins, I am still sad that they died so soon and without the embrace and care of parents. However, I am approaching thankfulness that God spared them the future they would face in that orphanage. With the Exit Letter Suspension--which was supposed to end on September 25, 2014--still in place without an indication of an end-date, there's no telling what they would have had to endure in that orphanage in that region.

We have been waiting for Clementine a long time, but it comforts our weary hearts to know sheis being cared for well in her foster home.

God loves his kids, and like most parents, He knows what's best for them, even if we may not understand it.

I surely don't understand why people have to endure such hardships, why unclean drinking water is still a problem, why moms die in labor, why children are being held oceans away from loving parents and families who could lavish love upon them, why children die in the womb, or why parents don't care for the children they have.

But sometimes--sometimes--I think God allows apparent tragedies as an outpouring of His mercy. Those twins were spared at least two years of abundantly difficult and love-starved life, possibly more. They didn't have to endure hungry belly rumblings and the dire need for affection and the stench of other dying children and the pain of life without a family to value and protect their little lives.

Although I still grieve for the loss of those precious lives from this Earth, I think their deaths due to dysentery were an act of His mercy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

that time i met my bff



Two weeks ago was my birthday. Let's not talk about how old I am. It's irrelevant. It's depressing.

Enough of that.

On my birthday, I got to listen to Jen Hatmaker speak at the D6 Conference. She, of course, spoke hard truths without mincing words: Stop being a consumer in church; Serve the marginalized; Let's stop putting on a show in our churches; Down with over-programing; Pleated Dockers are a no-go; etc.

Our church's Family Equipping Minister had never heard Jen (of course we're on a first-name basis) speak before. She was knocked out of her socks, proclaiming that Jen should have done an altar call when she was done. (Several people would have relented wearing pleated Dockers that night, that's for sure.)

But really, Jen spoke the truth that we all need to hear. Some of us (myself) need to hear it daily. Stop putting on a show. Serve people who can never repay you. Love people deeply. Community is key.

That stuff sounds awesome, but it's oh-so hard to do. It requires constant questions: Do I have time? Money? Resources? Energy? Knowledge? (The answer is almost always yes, but we often don't want to ask the questions, so we don't. Instead, we ignore them and carry on in our own happiness, ignorant of the joy that could come when we lay our own desires aside.)

For example, Jen even offered up her church's strategy for small groups: Meet two nights a month, serve together once a month, invite others (to build relationships) to your own home once a week. Flexible, service-oriented, evangelism and discipleship focused, relationship-driven. (Side note: Brad and I liked it, and we're already trying it in our new Disciple-Making Group.)

But back to my main point: Jen is my new bff.

I knew I would be meeting her, which caused me to experience some adverse symptoms similar to those you might experience on a first date: sweaty palms, overthinking my wardrobe, playing out several conversation starters in my mind, imagining myself rattling off multiple pithy comments in a row and making her face hurt from laughing, worrying about whether or not I smelled like breast milk. (Ok, that last one wasn't something I ever worried about on a first date.)

Because of the symptoms listed above, I had nearly chickened out of speaking to her by the time I was supposed to go meet her. In fact, I had talked myself out of attempting to approach her altogether. You see, I like to admire things from a distance, to fantasize about my perfection in handling a meeting with of one of my heroes, to pretend THEY are lucky to be meeting me. If I were to actually meet one of them, I would surely mess it up. (See my explanation here.)

My friend even had to send me a pep talk via text: "Go get it, Lotz."

I was lucky Brad was there, because that man fears no one. He would jump at the chance to talk religion with the Pope, football with Brett Favre, or hunting with Ted Nugent. He has never been embarrassed, and "shy" isn't even on his descriptive radar.

I, on the other hand, would honestly rather watch everything unfold while hiding under my cardigan in a corner somewhere in the distance.

The great news: She was actually a normal person. I expected nothing but authenticity from her, but STILL, she is a superstar so you never really know.

Did she order special towels from the conference to keep her complexion spotless and glowing? Did she require 15 escorts to and from her limo upon arrival? Did she set a time limit on smalltalk?

No, no, no.

When she spread her arms wide for a hug, I (even my non-hug-loving self) actually reached in happily to receive one (until I began obsessing about the fact that I probably smelled like breast milk, which is oh-so-unfortunate-but-highly-feasible).

She spoke to Brad about her husband and Hugh Halter and told Brad she'd be praying for our church and the important decisions to be made. She then oohed and ahhed over Oaklee, kissing her on her tiny toes and holding her close, then apologizing for having zero personal boundaries. (Who cares that the Pope kissed that Pope Baby...Jen Hatmaker basically anointed my baby. That's a Top Ten Life Moment right there.)

"The anointing"
Pretty sure she's saying "for the Love..." right here.
Here's the kicker: She is a real person. A very real person. When she said she'd pray about our church, I truly believed her. When she reached out for a hug, she squeezed me as a friend. Her smile: Truly warm. She isn't just writing and saying pretty words that sound wonderful and make her seem like a superhero to the nations. She's doing it.

Serving the poor? She's doing it. Welcoming strangers into her house in the name of Jesus? She's doing it. Living uncomfortably to become more aware of the struggles of others and the holiness of God? She's doing that, too.

Sharing about the struggles of living with teenagers and hating on high-wasted jean shorts and complimenting her grandma's boobs and detailing the struggles of pastors and the church...she's doing that, too.

And all of this together--proof of her authenticity--adds to my love of her and the Truth she shares.

So of course, we're bff's. (Have we talked since? Of course [via Twitter].)

I have included proof below for those of you who don't believe me. BFF's, I tell you.








Monday, September 28, 2015

confessions

Occasionally, I feel the need to share confessions for the entire earth to read (in theory), just in case someone out there thinks I'm cool or a good wife or a good mother, or even a good person in general.

Here we go...

1. My sweet and perfect little boys poured an entire tub of cat food onto our back deck yesterday, and I about lost it. (While trekking through the kitchen, they dropped a few pieces at a time with each trip from the storage tub in the garage to the back. Grand total on the kitchen floor: 2 cups. I told them to clean up every bit of it (unreasonable, considering half of it was stuck in the cracks between boards of the deck). When they got distracted and started sweeping the concrete below the deck, then started catching bugs, I was so full of anger and annoyance I had to force myself back inside to take a "moment" to get myself together. It was not a pretty Tuesday afternoon.

2. Our cat was probably thrilled with the boys' activities, because it has been weeks since someone actually took the time to put cat food in his bowl on the deck. (He is usually forced to a life hacking it in the woods or bending his head awkwardly into the rubbermaid where the food is kept in the garage. Poor Banjo has dropped significantly on the list of "important inhabitants" in the Lotz household.

3. I have eaten warmed cookie dough with ice cream and chocolate syrup on top as a lunch dessert every day for the last 6 days (at the very least).

4. No one has ever accused me of having a clean house. No one. It might (sometimes) be "picked up," but it has never even sniffed the term "clean" (unless Brad and I go out of town for a bit and my mom sneaks in and cleans, probably because she is appalled).

5. I have had one million thoughts in my head to write about but only one hand to write with, as Oaklee prefers being snuggled, and I'm not going to deny her of that just yet.

6. On a similar note, I am a terrible mom because I allow her to sleep on my chest in the night. (Co-sleeping for the win. I can't help it. I like sleep and she likes to snuggle.)

7. I have, in fact, resented my husband for 1) placing a baby inside of me and forcing me to be pregnant, then endure labor (which wasn't even that bad); and 2) not being able to breastfeed a baby so she didn't need to be virtually attached to me 24/7. I'm working past it now.

8. One of our children is having some serious meltdowns lately. He will remain nameless.

9. I would hate for anyone to see my google history. Not that I'm looking up things that I should not be looking up, but more because I have been having some pretty odd questions about life, babies, toddlers, child development, etc.

10. Oaklee grunts more than a pug. For real.

11. Air fresheners are covering a multitude of sins in this house.

12. I have had to have a fake conversation between my irrational self and my rational self regarding the furniture in our house. Our couches are getting old, stained and smelly (oh-so-smally), and my irrational self would love to go buy new ones. However, my rational self has to intercede and talk irrational self out of doing so because these tiny humans would destroy new couches almost immediately.

13. A minivan is calling my name. I am now excited about looking for a minivan. I actually drool and imagine a more enjoyable and less cluttered life in my future when one drives by me. Yes, I am coveting minivans. I don't even know myself anymore.

I must leave you there. My cuddle-monster needs to be reaffirmed that she is loved.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A birthday post

A quick update for you...(typing on my phone with only my thumb so give me a little grace).

I am at the D6 Conference in Louisville. 

We rode here in a rented 2015 minivan. 

Jen Hatmaker is here, too, and I am now her BFF. No, actually we've never met. I don't even know if I want to meet her in person, because I'm awkward enough in normal life without someone's fame and general awesomeness hovering over me to steal my words and delete any trace of knowledge and wit from my brain.

I'll just admire from afar. (Your creep-o-meter register is jumping off the charts right now, I'm sure.)

It's my birthday, and I'm avoiding the magnifying mirror in the hotel bathroom like the plague. Who even uses those things? Probably the same type of person who enjoys watching people break femurs in football games or that weird channel on TV that shows surgeons making initial cuts into skin for heart surgeries. Gross. 

This hotel has plentiful pillows, cable and A/C for which I won't be billed. That means I may or may not actually make it out of my room to attend all sessions of the conference. (Oaklee needs to nurse, you know, and Property Brothers may conveniently be scheduled to air while she does so). 

However, I did just attend a session in which the speaker said boys' development leads them to act extra lovingly beginning around age 5. That means there is HOPE for those of us with boys age 4 and younger. If hope for crazy families is a constant theme, I need to attend all sessions. 

Also, Clementine's visa interview went well yesterday, meaning we are officially STUCK in the adoption process while DRC specifies when and how to issue Exit Letters gain.(Two-year anniversary of the suspension is next Friday. This is continual heartbreak.) 

I am asking for a minivan for my birthday. New lifetime low. 

Carry on. Pray for Clementine.