Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is a long one, people

So all of a sudden my life is out of control.  September isn't even here yet and I already have no room on my calendar to add anything without sacrificing a small slice of sanity.  And because I've learned my lesson on overbooking our lives and because I'm trying to practice a little thing called the rhythm of rest, I realized through a conversation with dear friends that something had to go.  And that something is our garage sale.  I just can't pull it off.  Scratch that, I just can't pull it off well.  So we will be postponing our garage sale until the spring.  Whew.  I feel better already.

The only thing that makes me a little hesitant is that I was counting on our garage sale to make a significant dent in our upcoming dossier fee (4,100 big ones due in December when we hopefully turn in our completed dossier), but God has been ridiculously faithful and you have been ridiculously generous so I'm not too worried.

We are in full blown home study mode.  We've turned in a huge chunk of our paper work and we have our interviews on the calendar (one of the things that got dumped on my unwitting September calendar).  Eric and I will each have 1.5 hour individual interviews, followed by a joint 2 hour interview and a 1 hour home visit during which our social worker will visit our home (duh) and meet Lila.
Maybe I can recreate something this charming for our home visit.  Who could give us a bad report when this cuteness is happening in our home?  I ask you.
In the meantime, we are gathering the rest of our paperwork.  Unfortunately the easy stuff is done.  Of course, it's easy to do the simple paperwork first: budgets, references, contact info, etc.  The difficult paperwork is things like the "Issues to Consider" questionnaire with questions like "How will you help your child develop his or her own racial identity?" and "Do you as parents feel ready to prepare your child for the prejudices he/she will encounter as a black person in a society where race relations are sometimes strained?"  Eek.  Those are good but hard questions.  They are questions I don't have good answers to, but fortunately were designed to spark discussion and thoughts, not to judge us on our transracial parenting abilities.  Before these questions, I think I thought, "I won't care if my child is black or white!  I'll love them just the same."  It never occurred to me that parenting a child of a different race is much more than just my own ability to see past his or her skin color.  It's about equipping them to know who they are and what to say or do when other people can't see past their skin color.

As challenging as that questionnaire was, even more difficult has been the sheet titled "Profile of the Child to be Adopted."  I think a more apt title would be "Eliminating All the Children You Won't Adopt."  The sheet is a basic checklist of medical and physical conditions (everything from Down's Syndrome to HIV to heart problems to facial birthmarks).  We have to go through and check Yes, No or Will Consider for each condition.  With every "no" I check, I am haunted by the faces of unknown children who may never find a forever family because they are not the much-desired "healthy infant."  There is something that just feels wrong about being able to choose the kind of child you want (like something out of Gattaca).  After all, if I were to give birth to our next child and he or she had a deformity or a medical problem, surely there wouldn't be a box to check on our hospital discharge papers that said, "Yes, I will consider parenting this child."

But in the case of our next baby, we have choices.  Like it or not.  And the reality is that if we check "yes" on a box, the likelihood of receiving a referral for a child with that medical issue is very high for the simple reason that most people check "no."  So it's not as simple as playing the genetic lottery as we would with a biological baby.  And we have to consider what we are equipped to handle and the kind of life we are choosing for Lila by checking "yes" on even one of those boxes.

Can you see why we have been procrastinating this form?  It's heartbreaking.  But we cannot proceed without filling it out.  We have to make these decisions.  We have discussed and prayed and thought and researched and in the end, we have decided, like many other adoptive parents, to ask for a healthy infant.  It's painful to write those words.  I don't know how much of that pain is from the aforementioned reality that saying "yes" to a healthy infant means denying a sick child yet another chance at a mommy and daddy.  Or maybe a part of that pain is pride.  I think I'd much rather say proudly that we checked "yes" on every box - of course we'll adopt the most unwanted!  Of course we'll care for the child whose needs overwhelm most people.  Of course!  But when it comes down to it, is self-righteous pride any reason to make a decision that will affect not only our life, but the life of our daughter?

For us a healthy infant is a safe beginning.  We figure we don't even know what having an adopted child is like.  We are still unfamiliar with the unique struggles and difficulties of a transracial family.  Heck, we still don't know what it's like to have more than one kid!!  In the end, one of the things that helped us to make the decision to request a healthy infant is that we don't think this adoption will be our last adoption.  I know it's premature to say this, being in such an early stage of this adoption, but we hope to give our adopted child an Ethiopian brother or sister.  Our hope is that, once we understand a sort of baseline experience of a "normal" adopted child, we will have a better grasp on any other factors we might be able to add to that. We may find that a transracial, adoptive family is excitement enough for us and again decide to request a healthy infant.  Or, we may decide that we feel called and equipped to adopt a child with special needs.  Or perhaps an older child.  The thought of that is a small way for me to feel at peace about saying no to the hundreds or thousands of children who may not ever have a family.

In the end, it's still possible that we would request a healthy infant and get him or her home to discover an undiagnosed medical problem.  In which case, we would remain delighted to be his or her parents and trust God to equip us with the grace and mercy needed to provide health and happiness for our baby.  It would be our honor to follow in the footsteps of our friends Dan and Laurisa, who continue to amaze me each day with the perseverance and faith they show as they adjust to their new normal with Baby Emmaus.

As a quick update, Emmaus has continued to have anywhere from 7-15 seizures a day.  The doctors have advised Dan and Laurisa to allow the seizures to happen so they can figure out what a "baseline" is for their daughter.  Meaning, "normal" for Emmaus might be 20 seizures a day.  They need to figure out what normal is so that they can know what abnormal looks like.  Dan and Laurisa calmly comfort and protect their daughter as her body seizes, timing the seizures, riding them out.  I can't help but think of Little Sister's reports of Laurisa in labor (she was in the room for much of Laurisa's labor with Emmaus). She described Laurisa as calm, serene, quiet.  (None of those adjectives would accurately describe me during my labor, by the way!)  Jess said when a contraction would hit, Laurisa would close her eyes and breath softly, waiting for it to pass.  I watched Laurisa do much the same thing with Emmaus' seizures.  She leans in and calmly rides the waves of the storm in Emmaus' brain.  I know that she doesn't feel calm all the time.  I know that she is heartbroken and disappointed and angry and exhausted.  But Laurisa has said, "I know we're covered."  She has testified to the mercy of God stepping in at just the right time to give them a reprieve.  And she says, "I still think God will heal her."

You might be thinking,"But what if He doesn't?" and Laurisa has an answer for that, too.

"It's not my job to protect myself from being disappointed.  It's my job to have faith in God being who He says He is."

Friends, it is an honor to walk alongside people like this.  And because of Laurisa's faith, I can say that I, too, believe that God will heal Emmaus.  We got to gather together as a community and pray for Emmaus on Sunday night.  The result of which was 18 hours seizure-free for Emmaus.  We are believing that God's just hinting at what He can do.
I don't know who took this.  Stole it from Laurisa's blog.
So the Kautzi family continues to pray for a miraculous healing for a sweet baby girl.  Lila's prayers have been so sweet.  She loves "Baby 'Maus."  Today at nap, she wanted to "talk to Jesus" about Emmaus.  So I prayed and then I asked her if she wanted to talk to Jesus, too.  Here's what I overheard of that conversation:

"Jesus? 'Maus.  All better."

Couldn't have said it better myself.  Will you pray that with me, tonight?  Tomorrow, Emmaus goes in for an EEG to see if or what damage might have been done to her brain and development as a result of these seizures.  Seizures at such a young age essentially stop development, so the reality of multiple seizures a day is not good.  Please pray with us as we ask that Emmaus' brain is protected from these seizures and that the tumors in her heart and brain would simply disappear.  We hope to some day be able to look at the images from her MRI and see a before shot of a tiny brain cluttered with tumors and an after shot of a healthy brain clean of any trace of tumor.  It would be a miracle, but as Laurisa says, we're just trusting that God is who He says He is.  And He says He is a healer.

Jehovah Rapha, You have given yourself the name of Healer.  We ask that you would heal Emmaus as only you can, in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Updates

First, an Emmaus update:
My disclaimer is that I am in no way a medical expert.  I will do my best to explain my understanding of what's going on with this sweet peanut, but I may have to back track or give corrections if I realize I've misunderstood something! You can read Laurisa's blog (Emmaus' mama) for more accurate information. 
Emmaus is on anti-seizure medications that are doing their job at this point.  She and her mama and daddy were discharged today and get to spend the night at home.

The renal ultrasound revealed no tumors in her kidneys - this is a HUGE answer to prayer.  I don't know medicine, but Nurse Little Sister informs me that kidney problems are no good.  We are grateful for one piece of good news!

The MRI revealed several tumors in her brain which were the cause of her seizures.  This was no surprise, but we were hoping for a miraculously clear MRI...oh well, there's still time for those miracles.  These tumors are not cancerous and neither grow nor shrink over time.  As long as these tumors exist, the possibility for seizures exists.  Our prayer is that the Lord would zap those tumors gone!  In the meantime, we are praying that the anti-seizure medication continues to be effective.

The MRI also revealed several "spots" in her brain's ventricles.  These spots could potentially cause or grow into tumors which could lead to pressure/fluid on her brain.  We are praying that these spots, too would miraculously disappear and that no tumors would form from them.


If you are so inclined, please join us in these prayers for this wee one.  Here's a pic her mama posted on her blog.  Her words were, "No daughter of mine is going to be seen around the hospital looking like a boy!"
isn't she remarkable?  there's not a more perfect kiddo out there. Lila excluded of course!
We are believing in a God who is big and mighty to work a miracle for this sweet girl.  Join us in our prayers for a miracle healing and buy some cuteness from Laurisa's Etsy shop: SaSa Blue Design.  They are using the income from her shop to help pay for the mounting medical bills.  I think the photo above is reason enough to buy from Laurisa - only a wildly creative and talented person could whip up a cute little gauze bow like that, am I right?

And now for an adoption update:
We have turned in our first round of paperwork for our home study and are getting our interviews scheduled over the next few weeks.  We also made our first home study payment (thanks to you guys!) and are well on our way to meeting our next fundraising goal.  Wahoo!

The home study step is a two month process involving interviews, a home visit, paperwork, background checks and fingerprinting, and gathering a bunch of official documents (birth certificates, passports, etc).  In short, not very exciting.  But it will feel so good to get that done because it's a huge part of our dossier and a completed home study will allow us to apply for adoption grants! 

We are about a week behind "schedule" (I wanted to have turned in our initial home study stuff by August 15th and it didn't get turned in until this Monday, the 22nd), but that's okay.  Ultimately, we trust the Lord's timing in all of this.

One change we are making is the age of the child we are adopting.  We initially had said boy or girl under two years old, but we are changing that to boy or girl under 12 months old.  This was a very difficult decision to make.  We are so aware that the older a child gets, the less likely he or she is to be adopted because most people want to adopt an infant.  That alone is what influenced us to initially request a child up to two years of age, thinking that would give us about a year between Lila and her sibling (since we hope to have our baby home by the end of 2012).

But then we started doing the math and realized that the age is the age at the time of referral, not the age at the time we would bring the child home.  We realized that requesting a two year old could mean that the child we were referred may end up being only six months younger than Lila.  And, we have been warned that many of the children's birthdays are estimates so the child we are referred may be several months older or younger than the paperwork suggests (in other words, we might end up with twins!).  When we looked at all that, we decided that it would be best for our adopted child and for Lila to have at least a year apart.  Basically, we think there's a reason God's design is that the closest biological children can be in age is 10 months!  We want to create the best possible family environment for our kids and for us, that means allowing for a good gap between our first born and her adopted sibling.

So that's what we know so far.  Thanks for your prayers for baby Emmaus and for walking with us on our adoption journey.  We'll continue to keep you updated on both!

I don't know how to end this post so...... over and out?

Didn't our hearts burn within us?

That same day two of Jesus' followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him. 
He asked them, "What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?"
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.  Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, "You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn't heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days." 
"What things?" Jesus asked. 
"The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth," they said. "He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.  But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.  We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.  This all happened three days ago. 
"Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report.  They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive!  Some of our men rain out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said." 
Then Jesus said to them, "You foolish people!  You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.  Wasn't it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?"  Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scripture the things concerning himself.  
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey.  Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, "Stay the night with us, since it is getting late."  So he went home with them.  As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it.  Then he broke it and gave it to them.  Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.  And at that moment he disappeared! 
They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?"  And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem.

We have some friends whose daughter was born with a genetic disease called TSC.  The disease is a deletion in the gene that stops tumors from growing.  Basically, there's nothing in her body to stop tumors from growing in her heart, her brain, her kidneys.  She is a perfect baby.  Beautiful.  But her body is broken.  There is something missing from it, needed to keep her body working properly.  So far they have found tumors in her heart, and a few characteristic pigments on her arm and legs.  When she was born, our friends were warned that if tumors develop in her brain they can cause seizures.  She's eight weeks old.  And today she had her first seizure followed by several more throughout the day.  Tonight she is at Children's Mercy - a sobering place, all too familiar to my friend because she is a nurse there.

My friend and her husband are amazing parents with an astounding outlook on their circumstances.  They are positive, hopeful, and realistic all at once.  They believe that God will heal their baby.  And so do I.  Tonight I sat in a room with five other people (while at least that many more joined us from their homes) and we prayed for that healing.  We confessed our unbelief, our doubts, our fears and we asked the Lord to help our unbelief and come in His power and heal this baby girl.

Tomorrow, our friends will watch their wee one endure a day full of tests that will give them a better understanding of what is going on in their daughter's body.  My prayer is that those tests reveal that what is happening in her body is a miraculous healing.  I am praying that her EEG will show nothing more or less than normal brain activity.  I am praying that her MRI is clear as day (even though the CT scan today showed multiple large spots on her brain).  I am praying that the renal ultrasound (checking for tumors in her kidneys) is clear.  I am praying that a healing work is done in that baby and that my friends can see that their prayers were heard and answered as they hoped.  I am praying that they can see in hindsight that Jesus was walking alongside them all along, telling them truths about himself and what the reality of His resurrection means for us.

Oh, yeah.  This baby?  Her name is Emmaus.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Again?

Jesus, bright as the Morning Star
Jesus, how can I tell you how beautiful you are to me?
My Jesus, Song that the angels sing
Jesus, dearer to my heart than anything
Sweeter than springtime, purer than sunshine, ever my song will be:
Jesus, you're beautiful to me.

Thursday night when I was trying to get Lila back to sleep after our Thunderstorm Adventure, she was frightened and kept requesting that I talk to Jesus about the thunder.  After about five prayers that sounded pretty much the same, I told her, "How about we sing a song to Jesus?"

I tried to think of a song that said his name a lot and the first that came to mind was Sara Groves' "Jesus, You're Beautiful."  I sang it to her a few times and then I told her it was time to go back to sleep.


Well, every night since Thursday, Lila has insisted we talk to Jesus about the thunder even though it hasn't been raining when she's gone to bed the last three nights.  When she was adamant again tonight ("Jesus - Nuh nuh!") I again suggested we sing to Jesus.  That seemed to satisfy her, so I sang "Jesus, You're Beautiful" again.  When I finished, she said in a sleepy voice, "Agah." Again.  I sang it again.  "Agah." And again.  "Agah." And again. "Agah."  Okay, last time.  I sang it again. "Agah." Okay, but this is really the last time.  I sang it again. "Agah." So I sang it three or four more times each time she requested it.

Am I a sucker? Probably, but my daughter's ability to manipulate me wasn't what was at work here tonight.  You see, as I sang that song again for the 2nd attempt at the last time, I realized something.  If my daughter wants me to sing the name of Jesus to her over and over and over again, why wouldn't I?  I want her to know Him.  I want her to understand that He loves her and wants what's best for her.  I want her to trust Him to care for her in His perfect ways.  I want His name to be often in our conversations so that it will be often in hers.  I want Him to be "dearer to her heart than anything." I want her to know that there's never a time to stop singing His name.

So I sang it each time she asked me to and eventually she was satisfied.  But I would have sung it 100 more times if she had asked me to.  Because I'll never reach a point when I have sung Jesus' name "enough" times to my daughter.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

thanks for NOTHING, KCP&L

I don't like weather.  Wait, that's weird.  I don't like severe weather.  So when my dad called my mom and I last night as we were heading home from helping a family friend to tell us a storm was heading our way, I had to talk my pulse rate down a bit.  We ended up getting off the highway early because the debris and wind were making us a little nervous and we pulled into my driveway just as the heavens unleashed the torrents.  About a block before that, my dad had called again and said, "Mom should probably stay at your house until the front passes - it looks like it's moving quicker than they initially thought."

As I ran inside to make sure Eric was dressed appropriately for a visit from his mother-in-law, the power snapped and flickered and then everything went dark and silent.  There's something eerie about all the rumblings and murmurings of your house being quieted in an instant while a storm approaches.  The thunder was crashing, the wind was picking up, the rain was pouring down and worst of all - Lila's white noise (a fan and a humidifier) had been shut off with the rest of the power.  Oh no.  Forget the fact that our garage is too full of garage sale donations to pull our car in out of the hail.  Forget the fact that the trees are swaying ominously.  The real worry here is that Lila's going to wake up.  Sure enough five minutes later, we heard a little voice, "Nuh-nuh? Yeah! Nuh-nuh!" (Translation: "Thunder? Yeah! Thunder!")  Great.  I gave her a few minutes, but the next crash was the prelude to a little more nervous-sounding, "Nuh-nuh? Mommy?"  

So in the pitch blackness - I fumbled into Lila's room and got her out of bed thinking this was turning into an absolute nightmare.  She, of course, was delighted with the unexpected midnight party that she had been invited to.  Nanny!  Doggy!  Daddy!  Mommy!  Nuh-nuh!  

The worst of the storm passed and my mom drove home, but the power was still out.  Eric lit candles, I called KCP&L for the 8th time, "We are aware of your outage, thank you for your patience." Stupid robot lady.  My favorite recorded message was when they informed me that there was a map online that showed the areas that were experiencing outages if I would like to see where they were working.  I'm sure that would be really helpful and informative.  You know, if I had power and could use the internet.  Thanks for NOTHING.  (By the way, "thanks for nothing" is kind of an inside joke between the Husband and me, but I'll let you in on it: a few years ago when we were late getting on the Lost bandwagon, we were catching up and watching the first three seasons in a month.  I guess Lost was on the brain and I had a dream one night that Eric had watched several episodes without me.  When I found out, I was furious and I stormed off saying, "Thanks a lot! Thanks for NOTHING!" Apparently my psyche can come up with some really brilliant zingers in an argument.)

Anyway, back to this story.  To get her back to sleep, I rocked Lila for a long, long time.  Every time I thought she might be fading, the thunder would crash and her head would pop up and she would suggest through her bink, "Mommy?  Jesus - nuh-nuh."  

"You want Mommy to talk to Jesus about the thunder?"
"Yeah."
"Okay. 'Dear Jesus, help Lila to remember the story we read tonight about when you told the wind and the waves to be still and they listened to you because they knew your voice.  Help her to remember what you told the disciples - that there was no need to be afraid if you were with them.  Help her to know that you are with her right now and that you are bigger and stronger than the thunder and the rain.  Please turn off the thunder.  Help Lila to feel safe.  We love you so much, Amen.'"

BOOM!

"Mommy? Jesus?  Nuh-nuh?"
"Okay. 'Dear Jesus...'"

Finally I told her we would sing one song and then it was time for her to go back to sleep.  I told her she was safe and that Jesus was with her.  "Yeah," she said softly as though she wasn't entirely convinced.

When I left her room, she let out one wail and was quiet.  However, the power was still out and it was getting really stuffy and humid in our house.  And I was getting more and more irrationally angry at the fact that our power has gone out about five times this summer.  I was muttering things like, "$150 bill this month...they should prorate it...don't pay them to sit in a sticky house...they should reimburse me the cost of all my Costco groceries I bought today that are now going bad in the fridge...$150 bill!" 

We ended up deciding to open our windows to try to cool the house down and go to sleep.  I kept expecting to wake up to the sound of the white noise of the monitor back on, but instead I kept waking up to imaginary moans and whimperings of Lila (I was a little paranoid that I wouldn't be able to hear her without the monitor so my subconscious kept waking me up thinking I heard her crying) and the fact that my body was stuck to the sheets with the humidity. 

From one of my 8 phone calls to KCP&L I learned that the human beings come in at 7:30am so at 7:31 I called and talked to the poor woman who happened to answer my now even-more-irrational-and-moody-after-"sleeping"-in-a-sauna-all-night phone call.  She was kind, but entirely unhelpful.  "I'm sorry, Ma'am I don't know when your power will be back on.  Maybe you should buy some dry ice to keep your food cool."  Yeah, right.  I'm going to drag my toddler to the store to buy dry ice for my groceries and risk getting home to my power flickering back on as I step inside.

I kept thinking it would come on any minute, but at 9:30 it was still out so Lila and I packed up the car with what I considered a reasonable amount of groceries and went to my mom's house.  Again, Lila was perfectly delighted with this unplanned adventure and babbled happily all the way to Nanny's house.  "Hi Mailman! Big truck! Doggy! Mommy, Elmo! Big truck! Train!"

And because I'm not entirely heartless, I brought the dumb dog with me thinking our hot house might not be safe for her.  But I forgot that my dog would rather paw and bark at the sliding door than run around in a backyard like most normal canines.  When she finally did explore the yard a bit, she found something to roll in and came back to the door looking like she had just gotten back from an Ash Wednesday service.  

She may look innocent, but the dog is naughty.
Like a moron, I explained to her that she had lost her inside privileges because of her choice to roll around in something.  That rational explanation went over well and we finally let her in because she wore us down with her obnoxious barking.  Lila was imitating my irritated growls at the dog for the rest of the day.  Ahhh, it's so self-revealing to have a toddler that repeats everything you say/growl.

Meanwhile, Eric was diligently checking the online map I mentioned earlier and he updated me every half hour or so as every neighborhood but ours was getting their power restored.  Honestly, I'm not exaggerating.  He said when he first checked it in the morning, most of the map was "in the red" (meaning there were 1000-4999 homes without power in that neighborhood) and by lunch time only our neighborhood was still red.  Finally, 12.5 hours later, our power was restored and we got home just in time for Lila to take her nap.  Whew.

Needless to say, I required a Dr. Pepper by the end of the day.  One grumpy mama over here.  But also one mama thankful to have air conditioning and internet again.  And I have forgiven the power company.  Mostly.  I still think they should prorate my bill for the hours spent without power.  That's probably a lost cause, though.  Thanks a lot, KCP&L.  Thanks for NOTHING!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fundraising Update

Just a quick fundraising update for you.  We have been humbled and honored by your generosity and we are THRILLED to say that we have the money to begin our home study and then some!  YAHOOOOOO!

In fact, you may notice we have a new thermometer on our blog (although I thought it would be fun to see our other thermometer completed so I kept it on at the bottom of the side bar) that will be tracking our next goal due mid-October or whenever our home study is complete.

With our completed home study we will be paying $600 for the remainder of the home study fee, $900 to pre-pay for post-adoption visits, and $890 to send our home study on to Immigration totaling $2,390.  We will also have several fees in the meantime for fingerprinting ($110) and background checks ($20) and probably ordering copies of birth certificates and other official documents ($??) so I went ahead and rounded up to $2,500 for this next goal.  Again, because of your generosity and support we are so excited to begin this next phase with nearly $800 already on the thermometer!  That feels SO good! 

To help us reach our next goal, we will continue our current fundraisers and we have a garage sale planned for September 23rd and 24th (Friday and Saturday).  If you have any items you would be willing to donate, please email me (makewayfortheawesomekid[at]gmail[dot]com) and let me know and we will arrange to pick it up!  We are hoping that this garage sale will provide a good chunk of the remaining $1,700 we need by mid-October.  More details to come!

We also have two friends who are offering portions of their business profits toward our adoption!

Katy's Avon Store - 50% of the profits will be given to our adoption with at least 10 buyers.  Make sure you send her a message (katykinney[at]everestkc[dot]net) telling her you're purchasing toward our adoption fund. Here are a few of my favorite products:

Laurisa's Etsy Shop - 50% of the profits will be given to our adoption.  If you buy at least two items, she'll cover shipping costs, too! Cute headbands, hair clips, and other fun fashion items - all handmade by my sweet friend, Laurisa! She can also make them with elastic bands for babies - so cute! UPDATE: the other 50% of the profits from these purchases go to help Laurisa and her hubby cover medical bills they are incurring as a result of a genetic disease with which their sweet daughter has just been diagnosed. Read here for more info. And again, a few of my faves:

And just a reminder, we still have our other fundraisers happening:



Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your support!

Dear Lila,

I missed you today.  I had a meeting this morning and you were asleep for your nap by the time I got home.  We had to be at church early tonight at 5:30 for another meeting so we only had about an hour to play after your nap before we had to leave for church.  Then I was invited to go to a movie with our friend Jordanne so Daddy took you home from church and put you to bed without me.  


There was a little girl in the movie who looked like you.  When she was sad in the movie, I cried because I thought about you being sad.  When I came home, I told Daddy that I missed you and I wanted to hold you.  Then I did.

I snuck in your room and picked you up.  You wrapped your little arms around my neck and one hand played softly with my hair.  I held you tight and listened to your steady breaths.  I prayed for you and I cried softly, wiping the tears off my face before they dropped onto your bare arm.  I held you for a long time.  I didn't want to put you back in bed.  Every time I adjusted you in my arms, your grip around my neck tightened slightly for a second before you relaxed back into my arms.

When I finally put you back in bed and snuck back out of your room, you cried.  Which made me want to go back in there and hold you some more.  I told myself to count to 30 and you were back asleep before I got past 20.

Sometimes it terrifies me how much I love you.

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, August 11, 2011

and now, everything changes...again!

A few weeks ago at church, I congratulated a newly-pregnant friend and she responded with "Congrats to you, too!"  She was, of course, referring to our newly announced news that we are adopting.  But in the context of pregnancy congratulations, it took me aback because, well, I don't feel pregnant.  I'm not throwing up or exhausted or peeing every ten minutes.  But I suppose I'm as pregnant as I'll ever be for this baby.  That has me thinking about how many things will be different in this "pregnancy."

We have many of the same emotions: excited, nervous, anxious, thrilled, hopeful, thankful, etc.  But this time there's no book to read, no doctor's appointments to make sure everything's progressing normally, no growing belly, no excuses for eating entire Totino's Party Pizzas by myself.  There's no reason for strangers to ask when we're due. There's no absolute timeline.  We could wait a year for our baby or we could wait two or more years.

And the reality of the differences between this pregnancy and my pregnancy with Lila also has me wondering about how our experience as the parents of our Ethiopian baby will be different from our experience as Lila's parents.  Some are obvious: I won't get the bond of carrying, birthing and nursing this baby.  We won't have those conversations of whose eyes he or she has.  At this point, we don't even know how much of our baby's infancy we will miss out on.

But much will be the same.  I have faith that the Lord will give us ways to bond and feel connected to our Small One across the world.  After all, he's done that for other people.  I'm excited to see the ways he blesses us with a parental connection to our baby even before we know who he or she is.  In a lot of ways, I am learning to embrace that whole thing about "treasuring things in my heart."  Because unless I want to break out the button that says, "Ask me about my Ethiopian baby!" I think this pregnancy will be a bit more private than my pregnancy with Lila.

The better word for it is expecting.  You know, that old-fashioned term from the I Love Lucy era where husbands and wives weren't even allowed to sleep in the same bed on camera?  In fact, when Lucille Ball's pregnancy was written into the show, network sensors wouldn't let them use the word pregnant, but "expecting" was permissible.  (Why do I know this?  Because I was obsessed with I Love Lucy when I was in middle school.  Lucy and the Beatles.  I was convinced I was born in the wrong decade. Just a little Kelsey tidbit.)  

So we are expecting.  Expecting to be patient, to wait, to hope, to be discouraged and to be encouraged.  Expecting to be surprised and taken off guard by the good and the bad.  We are expecting to be terrified by how much we love him or her - just as we were with Lila.  We're expecting for things to be blissful and things to be hard.  We are expecting to wonder what in the world we are doing and we are expecting God to fill in the gaps.

We started this blog when I first found out I was pregnant with Lila.  I asked the Husband what to call it and without hesitation he said, "Make way for the awesome kid."  So that's what we called it.  And now we find ourselves "making way" again, but I'm beginning to realize just how different the way will be.

Because this time, I'm not pregnant.  I'm expecting.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

make way: the story behind a name


This is what the LORD says -
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters...
"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland...
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise."

As I began to write out our journey to adoption, I called it our "New Story" on impulse.  Each time I wrote those words, a verse would run through my mind.  I couldn't remember where it was in the Bible, all I remembered was "I'm doing a new thing!  Don't you see it?" (my paraphrase).  I thought that was so fitting for the way I feel about our journey to this point.  As I mentioned in this post, one of the things I realized in hindsight is that God started this story long before I recognized it for what it was.  And when I finally started to clue in, it was as though he was saying, "I'm doing something new for your family.  Don't you see it yet?"  So I searched for the reference for that scripture and can you guess where it is?  Isaiah 43.

Isaiah 43 is very significant to us.  If you have been following our blog for any length of time, you've probably read one of my favorite posts: the story of Lila's name.  And you may know that we pray Isaiah 43:1-3 over Lila every night before she goes to sleep.


The funny thing is, we've always left off the second half of the third verse and verse 4 because, well, it says this:

I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

Yep, the Lord sacrificed Ethiopia in exchange for his people.  Do you see why we've left that part off of Lila's night-time prayers?  It kind of bothered me so I just pretended that it didn't happen that way.  (Oof - there's an uneasy revelation about my heart.  How often do I ignore the uncomfortable parts of God's holiness?  Do I not think he'll have a good answer when I ask him why he would do that?)  But now I'm imagining our own little Ethiopian Small One reading this in his or her Bible one day and asking me why God did that to his or her ancestors.  

So I decided to confront it.  I looked up every time Ethiopia was mentioned in Scriptures and evidently Ethiopia was naughty back then.  In fact, most of the time Ethiopia is mentioned in Scripture, it's not in a very positive light.  And what I know about God is that he's in the business of protecting and fighting for his people. So if Ethiopia got in the way, he was ready to trade their lives for the lives of his children.  The important thing is to look at the whole story.  Because a few hundred years later, God finally got to fulfill the plan he had had all along: to adopt everyone - not just Israel - into his family through his son, Jesus (see Ephesians 1:4,5).

But I digress.  Back to Isaiah 43.  The next verses are (by the way, I'm cheating and changing the translation of these verses.  The ones above are New Living Translation, these are New International Version):

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth - 
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."

A few verses later are the words I included at the beginning of this post: The Lord, who has a habit of making a way where there is no way, is telling a new story.

When I started to read through the whole chapter in light of our own story, I began to feel more and more connections to it:

  • The fact that Ethiopia is mentioned. Although not a happy mentioning, it's still significant to me.
  • The verses where God promises to gather our children from the east and west and bring the sons and daughters back from the ends of the earth. Ethiopia certainly feels like the ends of the earth - that plane ride is BRUTAL!
  • The idea of a new thing being done. I like to interpret that new thing as rescuing Ethiopia rather than sacrificing her (hmmm, "her?"...are countries feminine like boats?)
  • The words "make way" appearing a few times. Because as you know, Make Way has been the title of our blog from the beginning.

So when it comes to naming our adoption journey, it seems only fitting that we use these verses in Isaiah 43 and the words "make way."  I love the verses that talk about God making a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters.  I envision the Atlantic Ocean opening up the way the Red Sea did when Moses lifted his staff.  I envision a highway paved from Kansas to Ethiopia, a safe road laid down for us, making a way for us to gather our next Awesome Kid from the east.

Lila's Jesus Storybook Bible calls the story of Moses and the Red Sea, "God Makes a Way."  My favorite part is the end of the story where it says this:
When there had been no way out, God had made a way.   
Many years later, once again, God was going to make a way where there was no way.   
From the beginning, God's children had been running from him and hiding.  God knew his children could never be happy without him.  But they couldn't get back to him by themselves - they were lost, they didn't know the way back. But God knew the way.  And one day he would show them.
Our baby is in Ethiopia - our next Awesome Kid - and although it seems that there is no way we'll get everything done on time or have the money to write each check, we have a God who has a habit of making a way when there is no way.  We don't know the way, but God knows the way.  And he will show us.

To the mounds of paperwork ahead of us: MAKE WAY!
To the miles of ocean between us: MAKE WAY!
To the courts and government offices and red tape: MAKE WAY!
To the looming financial improbabilities: MAKE WAY!

MAKE WAY for the Awesome Kid!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

t-shirts, t-shirts, la-la-la-la, t-shirts

We have a few FUNdraising announcements (oh yeah, I just did that).  I didn't want to taint our celebration earlier this week with the tasks and next steps that are already looming, but as you can see by our incomplete thermometer on the right there, we are still a couple hundred short of our first goal.  It might be more accurate to say that the $900 we were celebrating on Monday was actually our first mini-goal.  Our first goal that the thermometer is tracking includes the $900 plus the money we will need to begin our home study ($600) which is the next leg of the race.


Yesterday, we mailed off our first big check (thanks to you all!) along with our first round of paperwork!  Hooray!  So here's what we've got left of our first 6 months (from application to dossier):
There are a few things that are different from the first cost breakdown we shared with you.  A significant one is the "Post Adoption Support" that we didn't factor in (because I only just now noticed it's pre-paid).  Eeek!  And I think there will be a couple hundred dollars worth of random fees for copies of birth certificates, fingerprinting, doctor's appointments, etc that we'll be forking out as we get started on our home study and dossier.  The general feeling when it comes to the time and cost associated with adoption is: it always takes longer than you expect and it always costs more than you think.  That is really hard for my structured brain to cope with, but I just remind myself that the return on investment will be immeasurable.  When it comes down to it, any amount of time and money spent to have our baby home with us is worth it!

Anyway, as the title of this post alluded to, we're going into the t-shirt business for our next round of fundraising!  We have TWO t-shirt endeavors happening to support our adoption.  The first is still in the works as we are working with our new friend and fellow adoptive mama, Heather, on a design for our very own t-shirts.  More to come on that in a week or so!


The second is one that we totally lucked into!  Our sweet friend, Dan and his awesome wifey, Kandace, donated the leftover shirts from Dan's t-shirt business he used to share with his brother.  So we have 4 t-shirt designs to offer you and 100% of the money will go toward our adoption because Dan and Kandace just gave them to us outright!  Are they the best or what?  And one of the designs is very relevant to our adoption!  How convenient is that??


Here's the skinny:
  • All shirts are $15 (or 2 for $20!)
  • All the moo-lah goes toward our adoption
  • We have limited sizes of each shirt because they're leftovers
  • The designs are printed on Alternative Apparel's tees (Africa designs) or American Apparel tees (all other designs) and the tees run, in my opinion, VERY small
  • To order a shirt, go to the t-shirt tab for more instructions


Here are the options (for detail pics, check out the t-shirt tab):

Go check 'em out!  Heck, 15 bucks for an American Apparel tee is a steal of a deal anyway!  Thanks Dan and Kandace! You guys are the best!

And don't forget about our Puzzle Fundraiser - we still have over 400 pieces yet to be sponsored!  Maybe one has your name on it - literally!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lila's pink step stool

Lila has a little pink stool that she loves to stand on and peek out the window.  She has eagle eyes to spot birdies, the mailman, trucks driving by, any visitors, and Daddy coming home.  Recently, Franny has taken to utilizing the stool, too which is usually met by a severe scolding from Lila, "No-no-no-no-no-no, Doggie!" 

Today however, Franny spotted the mailman before Lila did and was on high alert (I think it had something to do with the fact that he was not our usual mailman and he had what appeared to be a wet towel on his head under his hat - I assume to combat the ridiculous heat we've had).  Franny's tense barking clued Lila in and she joined the Doggie on her perch.  It was pretty cute:

And yes, once again, she's not wearing pants.  Because, what's the point?  It's 109 degrees out.  We are NOT leaving this house.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I scored that stool on Black Friday for $6.50 and every time I see it in Target  for $16.99, I remind Eric of my shrewd bargain-hunting skills.  "See, Honey!  $16.99!  And I got it for $6.50!" He's always very impressed and never counters with, "I know.  You've told me."

Still, $6.50!  And look at all the cuteness that's come out of it!

Monday, August 1, 2011

We met our first goal!

I'm happy to announce that we have met our first goal of $900 ON SCHEDULE!  Thanks to each of you who sponsored a puzzle piece, we were able to write the check for our first major payment toward our adoption!  I can't tell you how wonderful that feels and how grateful we are.  


In January, when we began to take some serious steps toward adoption, we invited a few friends who have walked through the last few years with us to be a part of the prayer, processing and discernment that went into our decision making.  A few weeks ago, I sent those friends an email asking for prayer in light of the emotional, financial and relational mountains we felt like we were climbing.  In response, one of those friends sent me this story - an excerpt from George Muller's biography - and I wanted to share it with you:


Towards the end of November, 1857, it was found that a serious leak in the boiler of the heating apparatus of house No. 1 would make repairs at once necessary, and as the boilers were encased in bricks and a new boiler might be required, such repairs must consume time.  Meanwhile how could three hundred children, some of them very young and tender, be kept warm?  Even if gas-stoves could be temporarily set up, chimneys would be needful to carry off the impure air; and no way of heating was available during the repairs, even if a hundred pounds were expended to prevent risk of cold.  
Again Mr. Muller turned to the Living God, and, trusting in Him, decided to have the repairs begun.  A day or so before the fires had to be put out, a bleak north wind set in.  The work could no longer be delayed; yet weather, prematurely cold for the season, threatened these hundreds of children with hurtful exposure.  The Lord was boldly appealed to.  "Lord, these are Thy orphans:  be pleased to change this north wind into a south wind, and give the workmen a mind to work that the job may be speedily done."
The evening before the repairs actually began, the cold blast was still blowing; but on that day a south wind blew, and the weather was so mild that no fire was needful!  Not only so, but, as Mr. Muller went into the cellar with the overseer of the work, to see whether the repairs could in no way be expedited, he heard him say, in the hearing of the men, "They will work late this evening, and come very early again tomorrow."
"We would rather, sir," was the reply, "work all night."  
And so, within about thirty hours, the fire was again burning to heat the water in the boiler; and, until the apparatus was again in order, that merciful soft south wind had continued to blow.

Isn't that beautiful?  I remind myself time and again that our Ethiopian child is His child - he or she is THY orphan, Lord - and surely it will please Him to keep our baby safe and bring him or her home to us soon - or rather make it possible that "the job may be speedily done!"

Thank you, friends for your help in this.  You are the workmen who chose to work into the night for the sake of the children.  We can't do this without you and we are so grateful to have a community who loves us, loves the Lord and loves His orphans!