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.