Honduras here we come!

The days are zooming past. Two weeks ago I had all these deep, reflective thoughts I wanted to share about our trip to Honduras. But, I didn’t write them down and now I’m almost out of time.

Alas, iPhone blogging will have to do.

We are excited about our trip! The packing, planning, and prepping is almost complete. I think of a million tasks that still need to be done as soon as my head hits the pillow. Overall, though, things have come together.

We have almost 100 pairs of crocs to bring, a guitar, a pressure washer, 27 soccer balls, frisbees, bubbles, Spanish children’s bibles, craft supplies, English lesson supplies, gifts, and so much more. I have no idea how it will all fit in our luggage, but James assures me it will.

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My prayer last week was that we would live to return after reading an article about the crime in our arrival country. This week I am letting go of fear and praying the love of Jesus shines through all we do. That is the reason we are going. We love Jesus and want to love people like Jesus does.

I will leave you with the words received in a card from a friend that sums up a lot of what I am feeling and thinking as we prepare to leave.

“You are just a few days away from hoping on a plane and flying down to Honduras. Your emotions are no doubt all over the place – from excitement to the fear of the unknown, the sadness of leaving your previous children behind, to the God- given longing to hold and love on some other of God’s children.

 

I want you to know that I will be praying for you each and everyday you are gone and this is part if my prayer:

‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things, at all times, you may abound in every good work’ 2 Cor 9:8

That you will ‘abound in every good work!’

 

Your going and doing is what LOVE DOES *. May your heart be broken for that which breaks our Lord’s heart. But may the hope and joy of our saving Lord not let your heart be troubled, but take heart, he has overcome the world, the poverty, the injustice, the unloved…

 

I’m proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and loving with a deep, selfless love. I pray The Lord ‘interrupts’ you time and time again with divine appointments and you will come home with many ‘Hallelujah Jesus’ stories to share!”

 

* Our small group has been reading Love Does. I highly recommend it. Our motto for this trip comes from the book…”Just say YES!” and “Why not?” We are saying YES! and praying God uses this time to do his work.

Everything must go, except that darling blonde boy!

 

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Making dreams come true

It’s the county fair week and after sitting it out the past two years, we caved and bought tickets. Two years changes things. Junior man can now go on rides, although he prefers the tamest ones. MissE on the other hand has grown into a full-blown dare devil. She went on all the crazy, big kid rides while I sat on the sidelines and tried to keep breathing. Dreams came true for my dear husband, too. After years of wanting to ride the camel, he finally got his chance.

We had agreed that if we did the county fair we would not go to the state fair. But as MissE was whipping and spinning on the rides we got a call that she had won state fair tickets from the library. Looks like we get to do this all over again in a few weeks! Dreams coming true :)

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A Good Story

I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller when we flew out for Carmen’s wedding. After getting over MIller’s somewhat annoying bloggish writing style, I really enjoyed the book. He talked a lot about  the aspects of a good story and how the same pieces that apply to a good novel or movie also apply to living a good story.

The main theme was that in every good story there has to be conflict. It is not an option. There has to be some inciting event that the main character must work through or overcome.

“humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or forced to sign up for a marathon.  A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.”

It was a timely book and as I watched Carmen and Finley approach their wedding day, I couldn’t help but smile at what a great story they were living. They had personally overcome difficulties and God had brought them together at just the right moment for their friendship to turn into marriage.

I was pondering my little family’s story. I was feeling a bit boring. (I know, because obviously pursuing an international adoption is a boring life event). It’s just our adoption is at a standstill and other than that, life felt overly predictable.

While we were visiting with people that wedding week, the comment kept being made that we are such a great family. I couldn’t help but think that our life had become a bit too cookie cutter for my taste. I mean look at us.

We are the poster family for the American Dream. Two kids. One girl. One boy.

Well God sure has a sense of humor because we didn’t have to wait long for our ‘inciting’ event.

We came home from the wedding feeling stressed and overwhelmed with what needed to be done to close on our new house and prepare our townhome for renters. We had just returned from buying our appliances for the new place when James decided to quick run to the clinic to have something checked. Neither of us where really concerned, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. In fact, while he was at the doctor I called my mom and cried about how frustrated I was with the lack of adoption progress. Then he came home and said the doctor mentioned it could be one of three options. He listed them off, but again, neither of us were concerned.

Later that day the doctor called and when James got off the phone he told me the doctor said it was option three. I said, ‘uhm, remind me what option three was?’

Cancer.

One word. So much emotion.

“The more difficult the event, the better the story. The reason the story is better when the ambition is difficult, is because there is more risk and more risk makes the story question more interesting.”

So, enter doctors appointments, blood draws, surgery, scans, follow-up appointments, and more scans/blood draws. Oh, and a move. November was a tad busy.

“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought…They go looking for an easier story.”

 

“It’s conflict that changes a person. Part of me wonders if stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life”

 

This wasn’t at all what we were expecting for this fall. I felt completely unprepared to handle cancer and I am probably the worse wife ever to have a sick husband. I went into survival mode. I just kept repeating, “It’s going to be fine.” On top of being worried about my husband’s health, I also had a fear about what this would mean for our adoption.

“People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

Praise be to God! We are now on the other side of this ‘conflict.’. James is recovering. Our adoption goes on (or stalls on) as usual. We are fully moved and settling into our new home. There will continue to be some doctor visits/blood draws/scans, but we are moving on in confidence of full health.

Today is our eight year wedding anniversary.

Eight years ago we stood in front of a church and promised to love one another no matter the circumstances. There has been a lot of normal ups and downs in our marriage, but the past month tested us like none other.

“It’s interesting that in the bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It’s as though God is saying, “Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help.”

Today I am ever so thankful to be walking this life alongside my husband. Our story is a good one. It has had conflict. It has had inciting events. It has had love and friendship and humor and most importantly, we have shared a love for God. We believe God will continue to write our family’s story, to be a good story… not just an easy life.

And to my husband -  thanks for taking me with you. My life story is better because you are in it. Thanks for buying the ring, taking the leap, and inviting me on the ride. I love you more today than ever!

 

All quotes from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

 

 

I will come to you

My sweet friend, Kelly, just gave me this glass ornament (with the map of Honduras of course). It was so nice of her to think of me and really encouraging to me in this long waiting phase. I can’t wait to get our tree up and have this reminder hanging there. I fully believe that God called us to adopt and also fully believe that he will one day bring a child into our home.

Camp

We spent the past week at my home church’s summer camp. My husband was the main camp speaker.

I taught the 8 year old class and helped Renae lead worship.

This is proof for Darla. We did sing ‘With Jesus in the Boat’. :)

It was a fun week!

At the beginning of the week I sat MissE down and explained to her that she would be largely on her own. I needed to trust that should would do her best to make good choices. Overall, she did great!

I had the same chat with Junior. He responded by getting into as much mischief as possible.

He melted the hearts of all the girls at camp, young and old.

Camp was over the 4th of July, so we had our own little mini-parade. Here is our family all ready to go!

It was really fun to serve at camp with my family and alongside those from my home church. I recognize more and more how fortunate I was to grow up in such a loving church body.

I am especially thankful for my youth pastor, Steve, and his wife, Darla. They have been serving faithfully at my home church for almost two decades and continue to be an encouragement to me!

My all time favorite part of camp, though, was that there were at least five adopted kids in attendance. I tried not to be a creeper, but it was fun and encouraging to watch the different kids.

One family just got back from a three week trip to Vietnam to visit the birth places of their children. Talking with the dad, he said his favorite part of the trip was visiting the orphanages and seeing how happy the kids were considering how little they had.

MissE became good friends with another little girl that had been adopted domestically. I talked with the girl about adoption and how we were adopting. She was very excited for us! She said she hoped we would adopt a brown baby, because she loves brown. So precious!

Serving Together

We ended our small group for the year by serving together. We (along with the kids that were old enough) went to Feed My Starving Children to pack food for hungry/malnourished kids. The food we packed was being sent to Haiti. The leader talked about how mothers there feed their children Haitian biscuits made of mud, water, and a little oil/salt to help ease their hunger so they can sleep at night.

It is so difficult to grasp that type of hunger when we have such an overabundance of food.

Here is MissE with some of her small group friends, ready to serve! They did such a great job of scooping rice, measuring veggies, and filling bags.

By the end of the night our entire group had packed 40 boxes, enough food to feed 24 children for an entire year!

The world-wide orphan crisis is largely fueled by poverty and taking steps to help parents/communities feed children is one way we can actively be part of the solution. We look forward to packing meals regularly as a family. It was a great experience for MissE and she came home eager to brainstorm more ideas/way to help raise money to care for orphans and starving children around the world.

Stay tuned for one of her great ideas!!

El Yunque Rainforest and Luquillo Beach

My favorite day in Puerto Rico was our rainforest/beach excursion.

Here is our little family by a waterfall. We climbed the rocks to the top, which just about stopped this mother’s heart.

Here we are at a lookout tower.

When we lived in Virginia, I loved the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the close proximity to the ocean. This view was way better!

There, in the distance, is the beach we went to after the rainforest.

Playing at the beach is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. This was easily Junior’s favorite beach activity.

They found a hole and continued to dig for lost treasure. Carmen told us that the last Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed in PR. The mountains in the background was where we had just been.

It was a beautiful place to run and play.

There was a part of me that wished we could have had an adults only day at the beach to just sit back, relax, and drink piña coladas.

Instead we shared piragua with the kids while we chased them down the beach.

But, the longer I’m a mom, the more I find joy in being with my children and watching them have fun together.

My dad has told me this before, too, that he finds great joy in watching his now adult kids spend time together.

I would not have traded the moments of shared laughter and beach exploration for anything.

This picture melts my heart. Such a treasure!

Celebratory Date Night

We already had a date night booked, but after receiving good news we were even more excited for a night out.

We dropped the kids at uncle Ryan and aunt Katie’s.

It turns out Junior and Katie have the same taste in clothes.

The kids had a fantastic evening that included a trip to the park, pizza, a movie, and tormenting their cat.  I also heard a rumor that Ryan actually read an entire Kirsten book to MissE.

Meanwhile, we headed downtown to catch a pro hockey game. I haven’t been to a hockey game in a long time after getting more than my fill in high school. It was a fun time! It made me excited to watch my nephews play hockey as they get older.

 

Weekend Happenings

My man went away for the weekend with the men. They bonded over deep, insightful activities like basketball and the realization they are no longer 17 and probably some spiritual stuff, too.

He came limping through the door yesterday evening with a smile on his face.

Meanwhile, the kids and I had exciting adventures like eating lunch at McDonald’s and braving Ikea on a Saturday.

I made the rookie mistake of having a movie night without thinking through the movie choice. I got The Lion King from the library, remembering it fondly from two decades ago when I last watched it.

Spoiler Alert: The dad dies.

 

Yup, I didn’t think about that part.

My tender-hearted, MissE sat on the couch with tears streaming down her face. Probably not the best movie to watch while her daddy was gone.

All and all, though, we had a nice weekend.

Daddy brought home presents for everyone.

Junior got a t-shirt that says, “I love you!” and “I love you S’more!”

MissE got a t-shirt that will fit her when she is a tween.

I got Swedish Fish, which have already been devoured.

 

And, today is lazy Monday, brought on by a case of Strep throat for MissE.