Saturday, June 30, 2012

the story isn't over yet or how Jesus cares about my first world problems

When my phone was stolen, I was venting and processing and crying and whining about it (a LOT and to anyone who would listen) and my dad said, "Kelsey, the story isn't over yet."  I just hate it when he says things like that.  Because do you know what that sort of thing means?  It calls to mind that promise that Jesus gave us, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world."  And you have to re-read that and realize that he was talking in past tense.  I like to think that the whole "overcoming the world" thing is something to look forward to.  And it is.  But the reality is the Resurrection isn't just a ticket into Heaven.  The Resurrection also means the opportunity for a redeemed and healed and hopeful life NOW.  Which means I need to stop wallowing and start looking for the ways the story will be redeemed.  And sometimes, well...I don't WANT TO.  I just want to feel like the victim sometimes, okay?

But being the victim is only satisfying for so long and it's really not all it's cracked up to be.  So, I know I promised the full story of our stolen iPhone and you'll get it, but to be honest, the theft itself is becoming less and less important to me.  In fact, the details of how it was stolen have sort of gone from center stage to backdrop in the emerging story.  Okay, fine.  So my dad was right.  Again.  Big surprise.

**I should interject here and say that this whole phone debacle definitely falls in the category of "first-world problems."  I am and have been the first to remind myself of that.  I think every other thought over the last week has been, "It's just a phone, Kelsey!  Get over it!"  So, I hope you will be gracious with me as I share this story and acknowledge the beauty of the reality that Jesus loves us and therefore he cares about the things that matter to us.  And so if he cares about me, he cares that my first world problems still matter to me, even if they shouldn't.**

So, today, I'm going to tell you the real story.  Or at least part of it.  And tomorrow or the next day, maybe I'll post the story of how the phone was stolen - the prologue, I suppose.  

We have these friends.  I've known her since 5th grade and we've known her husband for about three years.  They have been among the most supportive friends in our adoption journey.  From financial gifts, to encouragement in decisions we've made, to being physically present and supportive with our fundraisers, these friends have been all in with us from the beginning.  And when they found out that my phone was stolen at our garage sale, they were outraged on our behalf.  He was probably more mad than we were, in fact.  And they immediately started talking about how they could help right the wrong.

At this point, you need a bit of back story.  Several weeks ago, these friends were at the mall and were approached by a group of people who were there to "pay it forward."  My friend was given a Pandora bracelet and told to keep it or pass it on to bless someone else.  Our friends went home and decided to put the bracelet up on Ebay and then hold on to money while they tried to figure out what to do with it.  When my phone was stolen, they started talking about offering us the money toward a new phone.  The day after the garage sale, they were having lunch with her parents and told them about my phone and their idea to give us the money they had from the sale of the bracelet.  Her parents, who have known me for 20 years, said that if our friends chose to do that, they would match the gift.  The combined gifts would be just enough for a new iPhone.

Now, when we chose to adopt, part of that choosing required that we would have to make ourselves accustomed to accepting the generosity of others.  We knew we couldn't do this without the support of our community.  (And I mean that word support in the most 3D sense of the word - Emotional, Spiritual, Financial.)  But I will admit that there are times when I can't rid myself of that nagging feeling of indebtedness.  Someone gives generously to our adoption fund and I find myself worrying, "Did I say thank you well enough?  Do I spend enough time with them?  Do they feel like their gift was given the credit and the acknowledgement that it deserves?  Do they feel used by me?"  I try my best to keep these thoughts in check, but insecurity and the desire to please or to protect myself from criticism kind of simmers in the recesses of my heart.  I don't want people to think badly of me.  I don't want to be misunderstood.  I want to be loved.  I want to be liked.  At its root, this is an identity crisis for me.  But that, my friends, is another post entirely.

Anyway, when our friends first offered to buy us a new phone, we told them we would think about it.  I started searching my heart for those nagging thoughts, "How can we repay them?  How can we make this worth it to them?  How can I even the score?  I don't want them to feel like it's an uneven relationship.  don't want to feel like it's an uneven relationship."  But as I thought about it, the more I was completely unable to conjure up any amount of shame or embarrassment or indebtedness or guilt in response to their offer.  The lack of those emotions is nothing other than a testament to their character and sincere generosity.  It is a testament of a gift given with the same parameters of the gifts given by Christ.  A gift given out of love.  A gift without a price tag.  No repayment necessary.  Only a truly generous person could offer something like that and convey in their offering that the gift doesn't do anything to tip the scales.  In fact, only someone a lot like Jesus could do that.

So the long and short of it is, we accepted their offer.  And we are so grateful.  For the phone, yes.  But more so for the friendship.  I hope each and every one of you has at least one friend like them.  We don't deserve them.

When my friend and I talked about the phone, she said, "I know this won't fix everything.  I know that it's more than just a phone."  And she was right.  It was a multi-layered loss.  Sure, the financial hit was a big one (did you know the apple store charges $650 to replace a phone!?!), but the loss of pictures of Lila, all my contacts, my calendar, my texts and emails, not to mention the loss of the feeling of security  (it's an unnerving thing to know a complete stranger, someone who has proven himself to be dishonest at the very least, could be looking at photos of your young daughter, reading through old emails and texts, examining the bits of your life that were stored on your phone). 

But, I resigned myself to the reality that we probably wouldn't get any of those things back.  And I was truly grateful to have one thing taken off that list of loss by the gift of a new phone.  We waited a few days to activate the new phone, still holding out hope that my original phone might be recovered.  When we finally decided to activate the new one, I was overwhelmed all over again by how much I had lost as I tried to remember what was missing on this new, fresh phone.

Until I plugged the phone into my computer.  This beautiful little box popped up asking me something to the effect of, "Would you like to restore your new phone to the previous settings of your old phone?"  With a gasp, I clicked "yes" thinking maybe, miraculously, iTunes had perhaps stored at least my contacts or my calendar.  After several minutes of transferring data, my new phone reset itself and when it came back on, I was greeted with this most miraculous sight:

The welcome screen with the photo of Lila I had saved on my old phone.  Now, I don't mean to be melodramatic when I say that with shaky fingers and butterflies in my tummy I unlocked the phone and began to search my calendar, my apps, my contacts, my photos, my texts, my emails to find that, with the exception of the ten days between my last sync on June 5th and the day the phone was stolen, everything was there.  EVERYTHING. 

Suddenly, that list of loss was much, much shorter.  And the gift given by our sweet friends had been amplified five-fold.  I nearly cried.  Okay, I did cry.  But just a little.  And it began to sink in that the only things truly lost were 10 days worth of photos and texts.  Yes, there's still that nagging fear that my phone is in the hands of someone untrustworthy.  But that is truly out of my control.  And that fear is just one of many on the pile of worries in my mommy heart.  All of which deserve to be turned over in full to the trustworthy and nail-marked hands of the Lord - He who has overcome all the evils of the world.  

And so, the story, which I thought was titled, "How My iPhone Was Stolen and My Life Ruined" has taken on a new name, "How Jesus Always Does What He Promises."  And I just know that this is only the first chapter of many in that book.  Perhaps only the first page.

So, my friends, tell me, what stories could you add to that book?

Monday, June 18, 2012

giveaway winner, garage sale final numbers and the story of a stolen iPhone

First off, the giveaway winner is Paige - who definitely earned her title of Garage Sale Queen this weekend.  Paige and her kiddos were here all day Thursday to help us price and set up, all day Friday to help us man the sale and even stopped by in the morning on Saturday to cheer us on.  Plus, she Craigslisted the heck out of our sale and even stood out on the corner of our street with a sign waving people to come by our sale! knows what it's doing - this lady deserved the win!  Paige, you can pick up your gift card when you come by to pick up your bins!

Our garage sale was a huge success!  We are beyond grateful to everyone who donated things, stopped by to shop, spread the word, and helped us with the set up and tear down three days in a row!

Special thanks go to the Husband, Paige, Holly, Janell, Laurisa, Angela, Hannah, the Totsches, Mallory, Jordanne, Sara B. and my parents.  I hope I didn't miss anyone in that list.  You all were life savers and I truly, truly could not have pulled this off without you.  There's no way.  And most of you were here multiple days and with babies in tow.  And one of you I met last Monday! (You know who you are!)  Seriously, it is overwhelming to have such wonderful, generous, supportive friends.  Community is the greatest.  Thursday night - the eve of the sale - after sorting, labeling, sweating and fretting over the fickle rain forecast all day, I said to the Husband as I collapsed into bed, "I have never felt so exhausted, stressed, and loved all at once."

I measure the success of the sale in three ways:
Weather - all weekend there was a "chance of rain" so I was constantly watching the clouds, ordering them to pass quickly or retreat and mentally making a plan to bring in the most valuable and vulnerable items in first.  But the most rain we got was a 30 second misting on Friday afternoon.  Thank you, Lord!  There's no way I could have gotten everything inside in time had it started to rain.

Items Sold - after we closed shop on Friday, I was thrilled that everything fit back in the garage (Thursday night, our garage and living room were stacked to shoulder height) and Saturday night we were able to fit everything leftover on two tables in our garage.  THAT, my friends, is a miracle.

Money Made - Lila and I met Eric for lunch today and stopped by the bank to deposit our earnings into our adoption account.  The grand total was $1,266.  Let me say that again, one thousand, two hundred and sixty-six dollars.  My conservative goal was $500, with a hopeful goal of $1000 so to make a cent over $1000 is jaw-dropping.  I just can't believe it.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We are now over a quarter of the way to having our referral fee covered!  Wahoooooooooo!

I so wish this post could be full of pictures documenting the weekend, but I was so busy/stressed trying to pull everything together that I didn't take any pictures.  Not that it would have mattered anyway since my phone was stolen during our sale on Saturday.

Which brings me to the only disappointment of the sale.  My iPhone was stolen Saturday morning.  We noticed it was missing soon after a big group of people left the sale, and when Eric called it, it had been turned off.  I had checked the time on it a few minutes before so the fact that it was turned off was our first cause for alarm.  After a frantic search of the house and tables, we began to think back about when it could have been taken.  There was one person who had stood out to me for a variety of reasons and in hindsight, we thought that his actions were suspicious.  I'll share the full story later, but the short of it is, we were right.  We know who did it, where he lives and have proof that it was in his house as recent as Sunday morning, but we still have been unable to get it back for a variety of reasons.

We still have a few ideas to try to get it back, and I'll share the full story soon once we have exhausted our options.  But for now, we are trying to figure out what to do in the meantime.  We would appreciate your prayers for a miracle.  I feel so vulnerable to have a stranger have access to the bits of my life that are stored on that phone - old emails, texts, pictures of Lila.  The financial loss pales in comparison to the emotional strain and frustration of losing the information on the phone.  In the meantime, I can be reached on Eric's phone.  If you don't have that number, email me for it and while you're at it, send me your number, too so I can start compiling my contacts again in case we don't get it back.

On another note, Anonymous, I owe you a bit of an apology for my snippy response to your comment on the previous post.  I was lacking coping skills yesterday with the stress of my phone being stolen when I saw your comment and did not appreciate the snap judgement you seemed to make about me - that I would accuse someone of stealing my phone if I didn't truly know it was stolen.  But I also know that some people (hi, Mom) can't figure out how to sign in to leave a comment so their comments come across as "Anonymous."  So, if you are one of those people who leave unintentional anonymous comments, I sincerely apologize.  However, I do think intentionally anonymous comments are really lame.  I think as a general rule, people should think about what they're writing and if they aren't willing to put their name on it, it probably shouldn't be said.  To be honest, if you had left your name, I probably wouldn't have taken as much offense to the comment.  And to be more honest, if I hadn't been really, really exhausted from the weekend and really, really stressed about not having my phone, I probably would have just brushed it off.  Also, I don't actually think you stole my phone.  I know who stole my phone and I don't think he reads this blog.  So, I apologize for that reactionary accusation - it wasn't sincere, I was trying to prove a point that one snap judgement tempts another.

Anyway, I don't want to end on a sour note, because all-in-all the weekend was a huge, exhausting, emotional, success!  The Bible says that Satan (the enemy of God and His people) comes to "kill, steal and destroy" and I don't want to allow him to kill our moods, steal our joy in a successful sale and destroy the good work the Lord is doing in us and toward our adoption.  So I'm going to end with this:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening...
You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.
o Lord, what great works you do!  - Psalm 92:1-5

We are thrilled with everything the Lord has done for us.  What joy to be a part of his beautiful plan!

Oh, and we moved another spot on the waiting list!  We are now number 94!!  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

to the person who stole my iPhone today at our garage sale

Please give it back.  Please, please, please.  I have lots of pictures of my kiddo on there.  And my calendar.   And lots of other things I don't like having in the hands of a stranger.  Not to mention that I don't want to have to buy a new phone.

So, if you could just drop it in the mailbox tonight, that would be great.  No harm, no foul.

Thank you.

the lady whose phone you stole

P.S. Anonymous, we know it was stolen because when we noticed it missing we called it and it had been turned off.  And we have a good idea when/how it happened.  And I KNOW, but I can't say how yet.

P.P.S. Intentionally leaving anonymous comments is possibly the lamest thing on the internet.  If you aren't willing to own your words, you probably shouldn't be saying typing them.

P.P.S.S. Anonymous, did you steal my iPhone?  Please give it back.  It's killing me that I may not get all those pictures of Lila back.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Garage Sale and T-shirt and Chipotle Gift Card Giveaway!!

Garage Sale Info:
TOMORROW, Thursday June 14 - Last Day for Donations
We will be working all day sorting, organizing and pricing, so bring by any gently used toys, furniture, home decor, etc to add to our sale!

FRIDAY, June 15 9am - 6pm
SATURDAY, June 16 8am - 4pm

Here's an idea of what we have:
Tons of kid toys (toddler scooters, sit and spin, baby doll bed and changing table, play kitchen, toddler car, games, crafts, etc)
Home decor (mirrors, picture frames, vases, wall art, faux flowers, lamps, table clothes, curtains, bedding, etc)
Electronics (receiver and CD player, small TVs, DVD player, speakers, etc)
Exercise equipment (weights, exercise bike)
Furniture (desk, book shelf, portable TV stand, chairs, queen bed frame and headboard/footboard, etc)
Kitchen items (toaster, silverware, plates, mugs, nesting bowls, mixing bowls, spatulas, etc)
Books, CDs, DVDs
Men's, Women's, some maternity and kid clothes

And so much more!

We'll also be selling our T-Shirts and Puzzle Pieces and taking donations.  EVERY PENNY earned from this sale will go straight into our adoption account.  (For a reminder on our fundraising philosophy, click here.)

We will accept cash and all major credit cards (using the SQUARE).

Now for the giveaway!  

We need your help spreading the word!  Go here to download the flyer and link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc about our sale and then leave a comment telling us where and how you spread the word!  Each place you shared the info will earn you a chance to win your choice of one of our T-shirts AND a $15 Chipotle gift card.  The more you share, the more times your name will be entered.  (Sorry, this giveaway is only available to Kansas City area residents.)  We will announce the winner on Monday!  Good luck!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bedtime conversations and an Adoption UPDATE!

Our bedtime routine these days usually begins with Eric rocking Lila so he can get some good snuggle time and then I come in and tuck her in, pat her back, sing her a song and kiss her goodnight.  Tonight, I came into the dark room (Sunday nights are always a later bedtime because our church meets in the evening) and started in on our routine.

Me: Do you want me to tuck you?
Lila: Does Fwanny have hands?
Me: (trying not to laugh because I don't want to encourage her and get her all riled up) Nope.  Franny has paws.
Lila: What's paws?
Me: Paws are what doggies have instead of hands and feet.  Franny has four paws.
Lila: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven...
Me: Okay, how about we sing a song?
Lila: nonsense babbling
Me: What song do you want Mommy to sing?
Lila: Beautiful Tings.
Me: Okay-
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us
Lila: No, no, no. You sing da WHOLE song!  You sing da other words!
Me: You want me to sing the whole song?
Lila: Yeah.
Me: (sighing, because this girl is going for the gold in stalling) Okay.

And then I sang the whole song.  Like a sucker.

Last week was exhausting parenting-wise.
Her face says it all.
I'm hoping this week will be better despite the fact that we are FINALLY HAVING OUR GARAGE SALE!  That's right, next weekend!

Please help us spread the word!!  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever else you crazy kids are doing these days - please help us make this sale a success!

As for a quick adoption update, we are currently number 95 so we've moved up four slots!  There has only been one referral though, so maybe other families went a different route through a different program or agency - it's really anyone's guess.  I only specify because the movement, while encouraging, does not necessarily indicate an increase in referrals which is ultimately what will give us a better idea of just how long this wait will be.

In the meantime, as I mentioned in this post a few months ago, we are considering our options to try to ensure that our children are close-ish in age.  How are we doing that?  Well, we are trying to get pregnant.  I can't believe I just typed that on the internet, but there you have it. Back in February, we emailed our adoption consultant to ask "what if" and we were pleased to find that our agency is very supportive of the idea.  And even better, a pregnancy wouldn't necessarily affect our wait time for our Ethiopian child.  If we were to get pregnant, we would continue to "ride" down the list as referrals were given throughout the pregnancy and the baby's first year.  If we were to hit the number one slot before our new baby turned a year (our agency requires that our youngest be at least a year older than the child we adopt), they would put us on hold at that spot and then slide us back onto the list once our baby turned a year old.  It kind of seems like the best of both worlds to me: Lila gets a sibling closer in age and the two year wait won't seem quite so agonizing.  Assuming we can get pregnant.  We have no reason to believe we can't, but it did take longer than I thought it would to get pregnant with Lila so I'm trying to keep my expectations in check.

In the meantime, we are also considering adopting a waiting child.  Waiting children are adoptable orphans who are more difficult to place because of age or a health issue.  Because of Lila's age, we don't have a lot of wiggle room to consider an older child, but there may be some medical needs that we would feel comfortable and equipped to parent.  We are on a few email lists which send us brief profiles of children who are available for adoption and if we were to come across a child whose needs we felt we could meet in a healthy way, we could request more information on that child.  I have thought a lot about this and I think some day will have a lot to say about it (this being adopting a child with special needs), but for now I will say this: we are being very cautious.  Open, but cautious.

So I guess you could say (and I have said it, in fact), that we have our "eggs" in several baskets!  It's kind of exciting to not know whether our next child will be a waiting child, an Ethiopian baby, or a biological baby!  It just goes to show that even when you feel like the Lord let you in on at least a part of the plan for your life, it doesn't always go as you envisioned it going.

Silly me.  When does it ever go the way it seems it should?  Take Abraham and Sarah, Joseph (Jacob's son), even Jesus himself.  All three are examples of the Lord making a promise, his people assuming it would go one way and then God pulling it off in a much more dramatic and redeeming fashion!  Abraham and Sarah were told that their descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky and yet the Lord didn't bless them with a child until they were in their nineties!  The Lord gave Joseph dreams of him as king, ruling over his brothers and it took being sold into slavery, falsely accused and thrown in jail and a famine before those dreams came to fruition.  And Jesus - the Redeemer, the Rescuer, the promised Savior - was supposed to be a King, for Heaven's sake!  No one expected him to be born amongst the cattle to an unwed teenager!  But God's way is always the best way.  He always does things in the way that the most might be saved.

So as long as I'm doing everything I can, I feel at peace about how our family grows.  I know that if I allow him full reign over my life, he will bring redemption and purpose and beauty to our story.  It's just what he does.  Am I right?

(Okay, go right now and tweet about our garage sale!  Ready...GO!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We had a fancy lunch today

When one is entertaining a Fairy Princess, one must pull out all the stops to please her.
her wings aren't visible in this picture, unfortunately
So we spread her little table with her choice of table cloth, cloth napkins and special plates.

Her Teddy Bear was an honored guest.
We took intermittent dance breaks as necessary.

She chose the music - "The Baby Girl Song" (Belle and Sebastian's You're Just a Baby, Babygirl) and
"Doo-Doo" (Brooke Fraser's Something in the Water).

On the menu:
turkey dog
carrots and hummus
Why so blurry, iPhone?
The Fairy Princess' mommy had a yummy sandwich and carrots and strawberries.

"You eat a stwabewwy, now I eat a stwabewwy! You eat a cawwot, now I eat a cawwot!"

Then, the Fairy Princess earned herself a special cookie (leftover from Cousin Suzannah's wedding) because she ate a great lunch and helped Mommy empty the dishwasher.

Days like this have a special kind of magic to them.  Even if emotional meltdowns bookended the magic.  In 20 years, it's the Fairy Princess Fancy Lunch that we'll remember and not the many (MANY) meltdowns of the day.  I hope.

So, did any princesses join you for lunch today?

P.S. An adoption update is coming!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yay, Chicken Nugget!

Every night, we put Lila to bed around 8:00pm and every night she sings and talks and babbles and flops around until 9:15pm.  That's an hour and fifteen minutes every night of the Lila Show, put on only for her own benefit.  And maybe Lambie's.  Sometimes Lambie's name is mentioned, but usually because Lambie is doing something unsatisfactory:

"No Lambie! Dat's MY suggle!"

This probably means she needs to get rid of her nap soon, but I'm in denial. 

Tonight, the Show included a cheerleading segment of some sort:

"Yay, Ernie!
Yay, Telly!
Yay, Cookie Monster!
Yay, Chicken nugget!
Yay, Carrot!
Yay, Banana!"

The show is a little different every night, but it's on every night from 8:00-9:15pm.   

When we were in Florida with my parents, my dad would sit next to the monitor, leaned in, listening to the entertainment.  My mom made the comment that if she didn't hear it every night, she wouldn't believe it if we told her.  

It's now 9:10, so we're rounding out the episode with a rendition of Ring Around the Rosie:

"Wing awound da wosie,
pocket full of posies,
asses, asses we all fall DOWN!

(No, I did not teach my daughter to say "ass," that's how she says ashes okay?)

At least she's not crying, right?


Also, I just want you to know, I'm training Lila up right:
You guys! Stop looking in my messy closet!
We spent about 45 minutes post-nap today watching YouTube clips of Wicked and Les Miserables.  Mostly Lila wanted to watch Cosette sing Castle on a Cloud 100 times.  She WILL watch musicals with me.  She WILL.