his part

about that huge God and him miraculously providing...

i was sitting on the sofa in a quiet house this morning. still in my pj's and minding my own business (aka watching price is right) while eric had the kids at the doctor for their tb screening (check that off the list!) the phone rang and i debated about whether to answer it. but i walked on over and said hello and was startled to hear a voice on the other end that i am sure has never called our house before. my first thought was that someone had died. when else does a random friend/acquaintance call you and say, "i wanted to call and tell you something."

no one died. but someone will be getting a better life in part because of that phone call! this wonderful friend went on to tell me that they had sent in $2000 to our adoption agency to help with our expenses.

$2000. that's a lot of money.

that's a nice vacation. a really cool TV. some great furniture. that's a whole lot of things i can think of and instead they gave it to us.

thank you.

that's about all that could come out of my mouth. i didn't know what else to say. we had prayed for God's provision of $2000 as that is the amount of money we have to give to the agency at this point in time. and here it was. God provided. in the most unusual of ways. from someone i would never have imagined. God's ideas are fabulous!

i found it interesting that our friend mentioned he had meant to give it in the summer but had put it off until the last minute. you know what? i'm so glad he did - because it allowed us the opportunity to pray for a specific request from God and see him answer it as specifically as we prayed for it. and that is a gift. it is those situations that prompt great leaps in our faith and i treasure every one i can get my hands on. this journey is taking every piece of faith i have!

and there is no doubt in my mind that the conversation i had with God last night about my target storage cube was perfect timing.

"you take care of your part and i'll take care of mine."

got it. i hear you loud and clear God. i'm taking care of my part and watching in wonder as you take care of yours.

happy new year! may 2010 be a year when we see God's faithfulness in new ways as he brings home our sweet sarahjoy. (so i really wanted her name to be sarahleigh, you know...ashLEIGH...but i thought that might be a bit much. we'll stick with sarahjoy!)

thanks for praying with us and walking this journey with us. i can't wait to see what happens next. as for the next prayer item, we are looking at another $2000 bill here in a couple of months. may God's provisions be bright and bold!!!

huge God

in honor of our new little one on the way, the blog will be getting a new look! i am SO excited. stay tuned!


we are deep in the middle of paperwork. i had forgotten how much there was! sort of like labor - if you ever remembered what it was really like, no one would ever have a second child. likewise in the adoption world. here's one for you - we have to reorder all of our birth certificates and marriage certificate so that they will have been certified within the last 6 months. because, of course, my birth has changed a lot within the past couple of years. and then there is the form that needs to be accompanied by a money order (errand #1), which requires cash from the bank (errand #2), then needs to be notarized (errand #3), followed by a trip to the post office to mail and track it (errand #4). one piece of paper. four errands. oh, and i forgot one. it all needs to be copied before being mailed (errand #5). exhibit A on why you will hear every adoptive family talk about the piles of paperwork. it is unbelievable.


so we are knee deep in paperwork and neck deep in leaning into God for his financial provisions. i hate to keep talking about it - i actually find great pride in how we have managed our finances throughout our married life. which is probably why it is so uncomfortable to talk about being in such a 'chaotic' state of affairs. so out of our control and what we would normally feel comfortable with. but we continue on. and God continues to say to me, "you do your part and i will do mine." which is hard. that's about all i have to say about that! hard stuff. i love watching God provide. when it affects me, not so much love going on. it is difficult. there are things i want, things that i could easily argue we need, but God is loudly and firmly saying to me that we are going to have to do without. don't worry, we aren't eating mac 'n cheese every night. and yet, that very idea is what makes it so difficult at times. what is the wisest thing to do with the money we do have? is everyone who follows our journey going to be watching how we spend every penny? are they going to formulate opinions when my kids have on their gap clothes (which i most certainly bought on bottom dollar clearance!) or when they see us going out to eat for new years eve (on a gift card, no doubt)? it is a funny place to be.

as i was laying in bed tonight i was thinking about this piece of furniture i really want. well, a $40 storage cube from target, if you can call that furniture. i REALLY want it. i am chomping at the bit to have some of the kids things in a more organized fashion - i have been talking about it for months and when we took down the christmas tree and rearranged there is a perfect spot for it in my den. i had plans to go get it tomorrow (it's on sale!). but as i lay there wondering how God is going to pull this adoption off, he brought to mind that purchase. and i know in my heart it isn't what he wants me to do. BUT I WANT TO DO IT ANYWAY. so... i don't think i am going. instead, i'm going to pray that God provides a way for us to organize without spending that money. or give me a peace to spend the money at some point. but those are the day to day fights i have within myself about money. is a $40 purchase going to provide for our adoption? no. but obedience to God will. and in this case, obedience means staying home with my wallet.

so that's where i stand. some days i am invigorated by the challenge. other days, i am exhausted with trying to obey (do my kids feel like that?) and then there are the days when i just want to do what i want to do and ask for forgiveness (they probably definitely feel like that!) i mean really, how bad can a $40 storage cube from target be?


in other news, our daughter has a new name! sarahjoy. we threw leah out with the trash even though i love, love, love the name and have always wanted a leah. but leah and lydia sounded way too much alike. and we can't have two L's. there is way too much organization in this house that is based on first initial (you think i am kidding, but i'm not) and we wanted a double name and couldn't figure out anything to go with leah. so there you go...sarahjoy it is. love it. can't wait to see what she looks like!


and finally, our sweet lydia, the brown sugar princess, is 4! i can hardly believe it. her birthday was december 28th and i spent the day laying in bed ready to cut my throat out of my body. a few doses of amoxicillan later, we are much better, and she is 4. we will be celebrating in january. january 22nd to be exact. which is a very special date for me and lyds. more on that later. suffice it to say that God has a way of joining hearts across the ocean.

and with that, i am resting in the knowledge that God is a HUGE God. able to join hearts across the ocean, able to provide miraculously.



well, well, well. it's been quite a while. but things are beginning to stir around this house and lest the newest addition feel left out, she deserves a well-documented journey too! it used to be that the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th kid didn't get as many pictures. i suppose in 2010 it's that they don't get as much blog time!

which brings me to the lovely re-announcement that we are beginning our quest for leah in january. i have the paperwork ready to be filled out (at least the 1st of 207 rounds) and i am anxiously awaiting getting the process started. we had thought we would start this past july but neither eric or i had a peace about that when it came time to sign papers so we committed to waiting and praying for some more guidance. i think in these last 6 months God has solidified his plan for our family and given us an even greater confidence that leah is waiting for us. so, i would have to agree with God on the whole waiting thing. amazing that he knows what he's talking about all the stinkin' time. gracious.

as we embark on this journey there is a much different sense in my heart. no doubt that we definitely felt the pangs of the financial aspect of lydia's adoption, but we entered it with a more than decent nest egg in our savings account, a bit of hopeful ignorance, and knowledge that even if we had to use a home equity line it wouldn't be for an unreasonable amount (due to said nest egg as well as a bit more play in our monthly budget). it was doable.

this time...another story. to be blatantly honest, as of november 28th we have finally paid off all of our 'lydia loan' which we are thrilled about, but because of our quest to be debt free we have nada, nunka, zilcho, zip-te-do-da in our savings account. that's right - one single number that looks like this...0. and that, my friends, is a frightening place to be. i tend not to think about it too much - it gets me way stressed out and the truth is there is nothing i can do about it. i know that God is calling us to leah but wow, this is a big faith jump for us.

i honestly have no idea how we are going to pay for this. $30,000. that ain't no chump change! but i do have a confidence in God and i feel like he has spoken as clearly to me about leah's expenses as he did about lydia's person (remember the vision of a chubby two year old with pony tails on top of her head?) that He will provide. and yet i strongly sense that it is going to be one bit at a time. not a huge chunk that would tempt us to minimize our dependence on Him, but a little piece here and there so that HE is proven faithful. so that leah's story becomes just as miraculous as lydia's.

i am committed to documenting every last way that God provides for this journey. the first came this past week. we received a gift of $1000 for leah's adoption. and guess how much we need to pay by january 10th for our homestudy? $675. and guess how much we need for paperwork and fingerprints and any number of random expenses that come with gathering the ridiculous amount of documents needed for said homestudy? oh, about $325. yeah, God's going to provide. and it's going to be so crazy cool to watch it happen. of course, i feel just about as stupid saying that as i did when i declared in february of 2008 that we would have a child by the end of the year, as we stood in a line that was 5 years long. but hey, we got proof that God can do MIRACLES!!!! (and she is really cute!)

so leah, we love you already and can't wait to meet you. God will show himself faithful and we will bring you home, debt free. may you be loved and cared for as you wait. we pray blessings on your china mommy and daddy, your caregivers, your doctors. hold tight and know in your sweet heart that your family is coming for you.



today we headed to richmond. the not so humongous but nevertheless big capital of the great state of virginia, and, more importantly if you ask some certain peeps - the capital of the old confederacy.

it was a superb summer day - hot, but not humid, a lot of sun, a bit of clouds. fabulous day for a road trip to see uncle matt. aka uncle giant. or, as some around richmond know him, the prolific composer and director of Fight the Big Bull. (and the fact that i even used caps should communicate the importance of that band)

i love my brother. seven years younger than me, we have always had a great relationship. well, maybe not always but you get my drift. we don't need to bring up the incident at home depot when he may or may not have incited me to such anger due to his inability to talk to a stranger that i let forth in speech similar to that of a sailor at which point he decided he would be so kind as to alert the parentals of my vocabulary and therefore see me banished to my room for such a length of time that i had ample opportunity to plot revenge.

however, due to an amazing ability of mine to forgive the utmost grievances, i do still love him and thankfully we live close enough to see each other fairly regularly. i wish he would be so kind as to make the 1.5 hour drive to teach AC piano lessons each week, but so far my amazing cooking talents are not convincing him to do so. have to work on that.

but we made the drive and landed in richmond for the day. moe's for lunch (best chips, ever.) to start the adventures. and then we headed to some sort of park thing. super random - in the middle of the big city is this huge piece of land with animals all over it. half zoo, half park. but not really a zoo. i don't know. great place, just random. for instance, we trot down to see two black bears playing with each other just feet from us. in a safe area, but close. see, it's random. then up the hill to the petting zoo where there were no animals, so back down the hill to the japanese gardens. see, random. japanese gardens? next to black bears? with a bald eagle thrown in the middle? and urban row houses surrounding it all. random.

now it was beautiful and peaceful. or at least would have been had every five seconds not been interrupted by, i'm tiiiired spoken with incredible emotion by the boy with the big brown eyes.

but nevertheless, very nice. i do have to confess that at one point i thought to myself, "now, why would anyone choose to do this? i am hot. i am sticky. i am tired. i would like some air conditioning please. and a cold drink. but instead, i am tromping through a random park, sweating, watching black bears (whom i could see very nicely on the discovery channel, if i in fact had cable) and looking at bamboo gardens (which i am sure they also have on the tv. somewhere. if i was interested.)"

it fascinates me. do people actually enjoy doing things like that? i mean don't get me wrong. great day with uncle giant. love seeing him. love having time with the kids where not an electronic item is in sight. i personally prefer the outlet mall, or a couch and a diet coke (with a 72 degree thermostat close by). but seriously, there are people in this world that get energized with a day like that. me - well, i think it went sort of like this...

"come on, micah! you can do it. keep walking and then we'll go get ice cream."

"ICE CREAM! really? why?"

"cause mommy needs some."

and so, we capped our lovely day off with some yummy ice cream from a very trendy place in the ubber cool capital of va. i got mint chocolate chip, wished i had gotten black raspberry. you know, to go with the black bears. or maybe i should have gotten coconut brownie. cause that's seriously random.

a day like today makes me thankful for many things. a great little brother for one. and that he lives close. and that he loves my kids. and doesn't mind spending 5 hours with us with maybe 30 minutes of adult conversation thrown in the mix. he is patient and kind. and single. (however, there are explicit requirements of any new sister-in-laws which i will go over before the 3rd date)

i am also thankful for great kids. who are healthy. and can walk. and talk. and eat ice cream. and enjoy random black bears in the big city of richmond.

i am thankful for a superb husband. who loves my brother, and our kids. he initiates time with them and loves having fun. he doesn't care about hot and sticky. he knows we are making memories. and he forgives me when i correct his driving (even though he did almost maul a brand new black mustang)

and i am so thankful for air conditioning. and a comfortable place to lay my head. for great memories. and dreams to replay them.

thanks God. what a great day.


a little game

i wish that i were not so critical. i wish i could turn off the part of my brain that silently commentates on way too many things. i wish i could just love people and not imagine the conversation i would have if they asked, "what do you think?" (of course, i would never actually tell them because i don't talk; but i might use them as an illustration in my book...) i wish i could not be so arrogant as to think i can possibly understand the situations people find themselves in. i wish i could truly believe that i might not have the best answer. because let's face it, most of the time i think i have a pretty good one.

just for fun, so you can rest easy knowing that ashleigh has a long way to go in her righteousness, we'll play a game. you know, because i love to be real.

let's play a game of get-in-ashleigh's-brain. (warning: explicit thought life revealed)

situation #1 - talking with someone and they mention that they do not have enough money for a (fairly inexpensive) plane ticket for a once in a lifetime family experience.

my silent commentary, the pastor's wife version - really? you don't have enough money? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? you both work, you have good paying jobs, you have no kids at home? you are telling me that with a double-income-no-children family you cannot come up with enough money for a plane ticket? do you know how much money my husband makes? do you know that i don't work? do you know that we have 4 kids? and i could come up with money for a plane ticket.

my silent commentary, unedited - what the hell are you doing with all of your money? you have not one crap of a second to complain about not having money. try managing it.

situation #2 - a lovely round-bellied woman agonizes over how uncomfortable she is. pregnancy is horrible, she says. and she can't wait for it to be over.

edited commentary from ashleigh's brain - you have nerve, my friend. you, the one with the miracle being performed within your body, right this very second. do you know how many women, many who stand silent around you, would give anything to be in your shoes? do you know how many tens of thousands of dollars couples have spent to be where you are? do you know the pain that infertility brings upon lives and the havoc it wreaks on marriages? just close your mouth. just be quiet. cause you don't have one single excuse for your complaints.

unedited version - you selfish jerk (okay, that's still a little edited). how could you be so heartless? how could you even think about complaining about a miracle? so what, you're uncomfortable. so are a lot of people in this world. and their discomfort doesn't end in new life and cute smiles. nope, they just suffer. how can you be so focused on your self that despite knowing the pain of infertility is present around you, you continue to frown and groan of the awfulness of the miraculous. just shut up. don't even open your mouth. your self-absorption and insensitivity make me want to vomit.

nice, huh? you never knew i was filled with such graciousness and mercy.

i don't know. part of me wants to hold on to my commentaries. i find them true and honest. i mean seriously, take those two very real scenarios in my life and tell me how i am not supposed to have an opinion?

and yet, i wrestle with knowing that a critical spirit is not what God wants from me. and i would love to replace criticism with joy and be one of those people that is so full of happiness you walk away wondering what magic pill they put in their fruit loops. you won't find me being accused of strange amounts of happiness anytime soon.

is it who God made me to be, maybe an unrefined part of discernment or compassion? a good thing that hasn't quite been perfected? or is it a nasty part of my soul that needs gutting.

i don't know. i feel like i am not comfortable in who i am, but don't know who i am supposed to be. i'm conflicted. i'm frustrated that negativity and criticism are my most faithful friends.

sometimes i want to crawl in a hole and not be around anyone. maybe then i could turn off the brain, leave the commentary on pause, and just be. just be.



wow. so...it's been awhile.

no, i haven't been on an exotic hawaiian vacation (but will take one if you are offering giveaways)

nor have i been feverishly cleaning and reorganizing my house (but would like to, more than i can describe)

i'm not exactly sure what i have been doing.
which leads me to exactly what i have been doing.
which what i have been doing feels like what i haven't been doing.
and so i'm not sure what in fact i am doing.

i'm dizzy.

i am waiting for the carousel music to end so i can get off and at least get my bearings straight. you know, make life right again. like having the bathroom smell slightly less odiferous than the BP station in the middle of western virginia. or maybe actually put the laundry away before the next laundry day (which, seeing that i only do laundry once a week or less, that gives me 7-10 days to get the folded laundry from the basket to the drawer...seems like that's not too much to ask)(and yes, my kids have lots of underwear)

yep, i'm waiting. the carousel isn't stopping though. even when i scream at the stupid man in charge. it still keeps going.

my options...........(one) enjoy the ride. or (two) keep screaming.

depends on the day which one i do.

some days i am able to grab a little perspective and enjoy the ride. the kids will not be small forever. i will not always hear my name called every 37.6 seconds. they will soon be independent. they will not care about magic shows at the oceanfront or swimming in the pool. they won't get excited about free summer movies or VBS, they will want to be with their friends and i will have to beg them to just call me for 15 seconds to let me know they are okay.

but then there are days when i would be more than happy to not hear from them. i don't care whether they are okay or not - just don't call me. leave me alone. if it's an emergency, leave a message.

take this morning.

wake up. everyone get dressed. i close my door to get dressed (which, i think, after josiah's unannounced entrance into my room the other day, knocking will now be a bit more of a priority). not once, not twice, nor three or four times. within the span of 12 minutes, i had someone calling my name 18 times. i'm not kidding. 18. do you know how grumpy that can make someone? try it. allow someone to get engaged in a task. and then, at 45 second intervals call their name. and then when you call their name, you need to take at least 15 seconds to communicate what you need. and then it's only 30 seconds later before you call again. the second time, maybe ask a different question. but the third time, you need to repeat the first question. keep going. for 12 minutes. don't stop. and then, you need to run. fast. because at that point you will have driven someone so crazy that they will be more than willing to cause you bodily harm.

the carousel. it won't stop. i keep waking up to this insanity.

and here's the kicker.

wake up.
get dressed and put on some make-up (we're not talking beauty pageant folks...just the basics)
make sure everyone has breakfast, sort of. survival of the quickest.
maybe clean up a little but definitely not the whole kitchen. no time for that.
find shoes. 5 pairs. ones that match, preferably. although yesterday 1 out of 4 went barefooted because we couldn't find shoes, at all.
answer 8 questions regarding which toy is available for taking in the van. the answer remains the same...none. but the question is still asked. 8 times.
get to the van.
enter the van by age order. oldest to youngest. don't deviate or loud screaming will ensue.
get buckled. this can take 10 minutes. trust me on this one.
go to the bank.
get lollipops.
oops, i need another one.
yes, i really do have 4 kids in one van.
and yes, they really are all mine.
pick up a friend.
drop one off.
go to the movies.
30 minutes early. so we can get 5 seats together. it's free. yay.
no. we are not getting popcorn. repeat 17 times.
kitt kittredge - the american girl. very cute movie. super morals. age-appropriate. love it.
head to the van.
no, you may not go to the bathroom. or get a drink. or get popcorn. suck it up chili dog. the train is leaving.
get in the van. in age order, remember. we are getting good at this.
stop screaming. you can sing, don't scream. quit bothering your brother. keep your hands to yourself. no, we are not eating at wendy's. sit up. your seatbelt isn't tight enough. sit back. talk nice. be kind.
drop friend off.
pick one up.
get out of the van...and into the house. which one would think could be accomplished in less than 4 minutes.
fix lunch.
try and remember what they like on their hotdog.
how can 4 people in the same family come up with 4 different ways of enjoying a hot dog?
eat. no, you have to eat what i fixed. no, you may not have more chips. no, you cannot have my diet coke. EAT.
go to rest time.
yes, all four. i will go down kicking and screaming before giving up rest time.
yes, you have to go. do we need to ask this every day?
oh, i'm starving. never had breakfast.
eat something that sort of resembles lunch - some would call it scraps. sort of like a dog. you know, finish what is on everyone's plate.
lay down.
my back's killing me.
i can't even pull the top off of the yogurt
doctor tomorrow. with 4. should be fun. when does school start?
catch up on email (the necessary kind)
NO. you may not come down yet.
at 4:00. do we have to go over this again?
can we go see the magic show at the beach tonight?
that would require thinking about dinner.
which i hate.
it's the end of the month. we have no food in the house.
i'm not kidding.
it's bare bones.
i can eek out hamburgers and sweet potato fries.
start the process.
send everyone back up to their rooms to clean up. FOR THE LOVE, do we have to go over this every.single.day. pick.up.before.descending.stairs.
oh my gosh. shoot me now.
it's 5:45. where did the day go?
i have accomplished nothing.
begin crying.
my back's killing me.
that doesn't help perspective.
husband arrives home.
we eat.
relatively peacefully.
it's time for magic.
find shoes. 12 of them. guaranteed to have at least 10% missing.
10 minutes go by. still looking for shoes (and yes, we keep them all in one place, theoretically)
get in the van...oldest first...good...excellent job...no screaming.
be the all-american family - minus the dog. which we will NEVER have. i promise. see me in 20 years and i'll prove it to you.
drive home. with unending music and singing ('she moves in mysterious ways...yeah, yeah, yeah...')
they want a sleepover.
all 4. one room.
they really do love each other.
and i really do love them.
its bedtime.
and nothing has been accomplished.

happy children. that's about it for today.

i want to cry.

for lots of reasons.

i do cry.

and get in bed.

the carousel is still spinning.

and i am dizzy.


anyone, anyone?

i have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by others lately. i don't understand how there can be so many people who sit idly by and wait for someone else to get the work done. now i get that there are those who are gifted with organization or administration and that not everyone is cut out to be a 'leader' or make things happen; but seriously, can people not do something?

case in point...(which just typing it makes me incredibly annoyed)...micah played on a U4 soccer team this spring. normally, we would not have signed up a 3 year old for soccer but the little guy is constantly being left out of things the big kids get to do so it is nice for him to finally be able to do something of his own. granted, he only kicks the ball if it hits his foot, but nevertheless it is worth the $75 to give him a sense of belonging and identity. he is the text book case of the lost middle child (the subject of another post altogether).

anyway......eric was the coach to 7 little kids. 7 families. 14 people who could do something. at the beginning of the season, eric asked if someone would be willing to make up a snack rotation and send it out over email. nope, not a soul would do it. wouldn't even do it after the obligatory silence that comes before someone (usually) says, "okay, i'll do it." nope, nothing, nada. not one person would volunteer.

fast forward to the end of the year. no one offered, ever, to organize snacks. and generally there were about 3 children at practice, maybe 4 for games. not exactly the most committed team around. so we (the coach and his lovely wife) made the decision to forgo the standard trophies and party. mostly because i sure wasn't getting screwed ordering trophies and never getting paid for them. and i wasn't about to plan a party for a team who couldn't seem to show up for anything. and lord knows i wasn't going to get any help. so no party, no trophies. it's fine. they're three and four. give them something to look forward to.

"so, are we going to have a party or something?"

"if a parent would like to plan it, that would be wonderful."

silence. definitely no volunteer of the year award being offered.

last game of the season...
"so, i guess the kids aren't getting trophies or having a party?" the SAME parent said with hidden frustration. (enter the small detail that this family has one child. not that i'm judging. but one child is a lot less than four, or three, or two. one child. two parents.)

"well," i said with not-so-hidden annoyance, "based on the commitment level of the parents i don't think so."

end of conversation.

do you think it ever occurred to anyone to do anything other than sit on their rear ends? i don't get it. really, i don't. eric is supposed to run practice, run the games, organize the snack list, order trophies and plan a party? (and i forgot to mention that he coaches anna claire's team too) where are the rest of the parents?

it infuriates me. because i end up doing the work and picking up the pieces that no one else will pick up. and i am tired. i am maxxed out. i run a household of six, i do not need to run everything else in the world.

so what to do? eric will coach again in the fall. do you keep asking for a volunteer for snacks? do i make up a list (that would take all of 5 minutes) and hand it out and once again take charge? do i plan the parties and order the trophies? if it was only confined to U4 soccer, i know the answer. no, i am not doing it. they can live without trophies, a party, or a snack.

but it's an epidemic.

i am continually at the helm because no one else will step up. i took care of trophies for ac's team. i set up for the party. (i do have to say that someone else helped organize once i came up with the plan.) i am planning the class party. i am collecting money for a teacher's gift. i am heading up the preschool ministry. i am leading meetings. i am directing vbs. i am leading more meetings. i am so done with being in charge.

my management capacities are full. a household of six is maxxing me out and all of the peripheral tasks are just about to sink me. i don't even have time for my own friends. which of course catapults me back to the thought of adding one more, and before even adding her, just getting the reams of paperwork completed. that is a part-time job in itself.

i remember hearing a mother of four say a few years back (when i didn't have four) that she had no time for relationships outside her family. she was too busy trying to build relationships with her husband and her kids. i filed that in my head and have never forgotten it. i'm almost there. we are talking serious sacrifice when being a mom and wife actually takes up all of your time and there is nothing else.

i want to be there. i don't want to be there. it is a fight within me to figure out what to do, how to balance.

teter toter. teter toter.



today i sent out our first leah email. during our lydia journey we had several hundred people who followed our email updates and prayed for us. beings that the majority of those folks are not of the blogging generation, i sent my last post out on the email chain. announcing the insanity.

as the news went 'public' (as if a blog and facebook are not enough) i could feel the tension. satan. God. battle. who was going to win today? i spent the majority of the afternoon with a pit in my stomach. what are we doing? how are we going to pay for this? are we digging ourselves into a hole we will never get out of? is this the stupidest thing on the planet? are we maxxed out with kids? am i going to look at leah and wonder if we have made the wrong decision? what does this decision look like long term? is this a selfish decision? or is it God? are we really doing what is right? how does the burden of paying for this thing affect our everyday life? could we just rewind a minute and go over what in the world brought us here? i am sick.

literally, a pit in my stomach. thankfully, eric wasn't here so i could be in my silent world, mulling it all over. tigger and spiderman were not privy to the whirling of emotions going on inside my brain - buzz lightyear had their rapt attention (don't let anyone ever tell you that a good movie isn't a great babysitter). it is so big. it seems so much bigger this time.

i indulged the kids in a ridiculous snack - two waffles with chocolate chips and whip cream in between (that would be the first sign that i am losing my mind) - and headed to karate. full of pit-ness. ugh. i hate this part of figuring out what God wants. could we have some writing on the wall please? and by the way, we just ANNOUNCED it. why the fog now?

"no writing," He spoke, "but how about some music."

and cutting through the fog (and raucous noise of 4 kids in one van) came these lyrics...

strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles
okay. message received. wait upon the Lord. am i going to know today, or this week, or anytime soon how we are going to pay for this thing? wait. am i going to know what special need we are going to be dealing with? wait. am i going to know how our other kids will handle a new sibling? wait. am i going to know how i will manage 5 children? wait. am i going to know what life is going to be like with 5 teenagers? wait.

He reigns forever.

He does not faint.

He does not grow weary.

Wait upon the Lord.

He will defend me.

He will comfort me.

He will lift me up.

Wait up on the Lord.

wait. got it.

it's so hard. the unknowns can consume me. and satan is fighting to have them victorious over me. i can feel it. there is a spiritual battle going on in my heart and mind.

the pit is still there. i wish a great reminder from the Lord could remove all of it but i would be lying if i said that it had. probably part of that is because we just heard bad news from our dear babysitter who is fighting cancer. a reminder that life is not always easy and doesn't always go as planned. a reminder that just because we are following God's leading does not mean it is going to be a road paved with flowers and mint chocolate chip ice cream (now that would have been a good addition to my insane snack idea). enter the pit zone. what is this all going to look like?




I have started and restarted this a dozen times. I’m not sure why it has been so difficult to figure out what I want to say. Maybe because I find myself in a place that is a bit uncomfortable and I’m not real sure what the reaction is going to be. Actually, I am sure. Seventy-five percent of you will think that we are crazy, with about half of you letting us know and the other half keeping it to yourself. I’m not sure which is worse – having to try and explain your seeming unwise choices or knowing that crazy is the silent assumption and having no opportunity to argue otherwise. Either way, it is an uncomfortable situation, one for which I am not altogether ready to embrace.

But here we are.

God never promises to make sense and certainly does not always call us to do what is wise in the eyes of the world. I know that, but it is a scary place. a place I really rather watch other people be in.

After a year of thought and prayer, and countless conversations, we have begun the adoption process to bring home another sweet princess from China. Deep in our souls we are filled with unspeakable joy that we get to love another child. And the miracle of adoption is one that we can’t wait to experience again. However…we are humbly terrified.

While there are several terrifying aspects of adopting our 5th child, primary in our focus right now is the financial aspect of adoption. Because of course, that's what comes first - like in a month! From start to finish, the cost to bring home Leah will be close to $30,000. The first time around that seemed like a whole lot of money, but it was softened by the fact that we had a savings account to draw on for a significant portion of the cost. This time, that savings account is gone – having been spent on Lydia’s adoption - and we are staring at a huge expenditure and we have no idea where the money is going to come from. Some would call it unwise. And before God broke our hearts for the orphans and called us into the world of adoption, I would probably have been one of those people (actually, I’m sure I would have been).

I understand that to many, it seems completely ridiculous – for the financial aspect as well as many other reasons (with five little kids we are almost ready for our own TV show!) Which is why this is such an uncomfortable place for me. I don’t enjoy being the freak that is doing something “God told me to” – how many times have we heard that phrase attached to the insane? But…well…you see, that’s pretty much what we’re saying. God’s calling, and we’re obeying. We’re excited, we’re scared, we’re super thrilled, we’re super terrified.

We know that we will need the prayers of our friends as well as your encouragement - we can’t walk this road alone. We also know that we are going to witness a God-sized miracle all wrapped up in a little bitty China girl named Leah and we don’t want to keep that miracle to ourselves! There is no doubt in our minds that He is going to prove Himself faithful. And in case we need a reminder (which I will, tomorrow, and the next day and pretty much for the next 18 years), there is an adorable little Chinese sweetheart who sleeps in my house, calls me Mommy, and is every bit a miracle straight from heaven.


picture of purpose

i feel obligated to follow up last night's post. i would never want people to draw conclusions from what they learned yesterday. and certainly should lydia ever read this blog (which is WAY weird to think about although it was started for that purpose), i want to set the record straight.

God works in mysterious ways. we know that, we've all heard that, and most of us have experienced it in some capacity. and the creation of our family is no exception. i can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that God's hand has woven us together. and that's great news. some day, lydia is going to have to wrestle with the why's of adoption. and there will be a lot that i can't answer for her. but what i will always be able to do, is point her back to Jesus, and together run our fingertips through his footprints that are so clearly visible in her journey to our family.

the story starts about 14 years ago when eric and i were first dating. like all newly dating couples, we talked about children and what we would want to name them (what? you didn't discuss that? i'm shocked.) we picked the names josiah, abby, and micah. and we stuck to them for the most part - abby got nixed when it became the most popular girls name ever. we've always dreamed of having children and while i cannot point to a specific time, the idea of adopting a little girl from china was always a part of the conversation. no details, just a mention here and there.

josiah came...then anna claire...

we waited while the ultrasound tech looked around. "it's a boy," she mentioned. eric looked at me and i smiled at him. "yes!" he said, "one more wedding that we won't be paying for!" i laughed. "perfect! we can adopt a little girl from china and have two boys and two girls!"
a little bit of unintended foreshadowing...

and oh sweet micah. what a ride he took us on. to sum it up, exactly 5 days after that uneventful ultrasound we found ourselves in the situation of a lifetime...3 months of bedrest, 2 months in the hospital, an emergency c-section. the details, well, let's just say it was a BIG God-story. however, before we leave the subject, i do feel obligated to interject that i can count myself among those who have endured major surgery without proper anesthesia. uh yeah...i would HIGHLY recommend being numb prior to being cut on.

it was the journey of that pregnancy that led eric and i to begin to contemplate closing up the fertility shop. it was debatable whether i should become pregnant again, and after so much stuff neither of us was certain it would be a chance we wanted to take. we prayed. and we prayed. and we prayed. i knew it was a big decision, although there was no way to grasp how big it really was. it was one of those times you blindly follow God's leading and do what you know to be right. if i had stopped to think of what i was actually doing, well...

the tubes were tied. i came home. i was REALLY sore. laying in the bed for 3 months does a number on the body. and i was REALLY sad. i knew within weeks that our family was not complete. someone was still missing. i cried, and i cried, and i cried. i felt like someone had ripped my child away from me and there was no way i would ever see them again. how could we have done this? how could we have made the decision to end our family when there was still room for somebody else? i pleaded with God. i prayed for a miracle pregnancy (which would have been a miracle on SEVERAL accounts). i begged God to just undo it all.

i was angry. how could God have led us to the decision of a tubal ligation and then send me home only to have a heart that longed for another baby? that was cruel. oh, i was angry. i had a whole new empathy for the infertile. to long for a child and be completely unable to conceive...oh, what pain. i was crushed.

i had a whole lot of conversations with God. well, they weren't necessarily conversations, more a SCREAMING IN YOUR FACE BECAUSE I AM SO ANGRY WITH YOU!!!!

but one day, he answered me.
"here," he said gently, "this is who you long for and who i have created just for your family."
now i have never had a vision before, but i am here to say i had a vision. before me stood a little chunky chinese girl, wrapped in big puffy winter clothes that didn't match one twit. her short little body stood outside my front storm door and knocked. her sweet face looked like that of a two year old, with little black ponytails sticking up on top of her head. she was solemn and didn't say a word, but i could read her big almond eyes. they communicated everything they needed to.
"bring me home."

that was july (micah was born may 24) and for the next two months i wrestled with what i had seen. adoption? i knew we had talked about it and entertained the idea but we hadn't ever reallylooked into it. but with each passing day i was more and more convinced that this little girl was the longing of my heart. i mentioned it to eric. he laughed. i mentioned it again. he laughed a little less. i decided not to mention it again.

we went away just the two of us in september to the beach. and i brought my vision with me. my stomach physically ached with longing. i finally gathered up enough courage to ask eric, "will you please pray? maybe this is really God?"

well, folks, the rest is history.

three years later we sat on that same beach in september. this time, we had our lydia.

adoption was not our answer to infertility. adoption was God's calling on our family. and i am convinced, that God had to lead us to the place of ending our fertility in order to get us to see that calling. there is not a chance in this world that i would have, of my own volition, chosen to fill an agonizing three years with paperwork and silent waiting, and spend $30,000 that i didn't have. i am way too practical and stubborn. God was going to have to force me to take that exit off the highway.

so is there pain? yes. absolutely. and yet in the midst of the pain i can see that there is purpose. i wouldn't trade our adoption journey for anything. it is a mistake to think that God's purposes don't involve pain. but it is a bigger mistake to think that pain doesn't involve God's purpose. God always has a purpose.

and i'm lucky. everyday His purpose is staring me in the face. her cute chubby self, complete with ponytails sticking up on top of her head. and yes, she was two, and yes, she had puffy winter clothes that didn't match one twit. and yes, she is short and sweet with big almond eyes. she will forever be not only the embodiment of the miraculous to those who witnessed her journey home, but the picture of purpose to this stubborn soul.


fat laughs

i think i am starting to know what people mean when they say they finally get themselves figured out by the time they are 40. it seems this VERY short amount of time i have had in my 30's (let's just say i am closer to 30 than i am to 40) keeps bringing me face to face with me. and the me that is buried deep in there is not who i thought she was. she's far more complicated than originally thought...and not nearly as all-together as was once believed.

a humongously obese comedian - that's who i am. (i'll pause while you go check the pictures.) i am that person. those people who laugh at the very thing that is the most painful part of their being. that person that uses humor to distract from the torture and goes to great lengths never to let anyone know what is buried deep down in there. the person who claims they are completely happy but can't actually talk about it with anyone because the tears prevent any semblance of a normal conversation.

that's me. i hide. i distract. i move people away from my pain. sometimes its with a funny line, a lot of time its just silence (i am shy, so i can get away with being quiet). and much of the time its because if i actually opened my mouth nothing would come out that resembled anything anyone could understand (think blubbering tears, unintelligible sounds)

often people make a comment about our kids. it's my life, so i don't think it's weird, but evidently having four children in a span of 5 years is not necessarily the usual. even having four children - they think its crazy. people, it wasn't that long ago that families always had four and five and six kids. and it isn't the end of the world if i can't go on a disney vacation every year! THIS hits my passion button; however, for now i am figuring out myself, not the american culture.

anyway, it never fails that someone makes a crack about me being pregnant and i automatically make some joke about how that would be the most awful thing ever. could you imagine? pregnant? yeah right, i would die. at least that's what i tell people. the truth...i would do almost anything to be pregnant. after prayerfully making the decision to end our fertility after micah's difficult pregnancy, i suddenly have found myself in the realm of the infertile. the world where people would do almost anything to experience the miracle of life within them. unless you've been there, you don't get it (and take my advice, don't try and get it if you haven't been there). it is one of the most deeply felt emotions i have ever experienced. it is a longing that is almost unbearable when i dwell on it, that makes me fight back the tears when i hold a new baby, a pain that for the most part stays hidden but occasionally, when i let it escape, comes forth with weeping and questioning and wondering why. i'm the big fat guy whose always making a joke. but inside i am dying. i am being crushed and the pain digs itself deeper and deeper to places in my soul i didn't even know existed. (and if we keep finding new places in the soul, it is going to take me longer than 40 to figure myself out)

why? why can't i just look in their eyes and say, 'gosh, that would be wonderful. i would be thrilled!'

i don't really know. it seems easy enough. and it would for sure shut them up really fast. and make for some good moments when people stare at you and don't know what to say and feel really awkward. ...........because to admit that would be to admit the pain, the hurt, the unresolved questions. and i certainly don't want everyone seeing my pain. i am pretty real, but that's really real.

and i guess that's what i am figuring out. that as much as i am real (i was actually called "raw and real" today, not sure if that is a compliment or what...) i am not. i hide the tenderest parts of me. even from myself. sometimes they stay so hidden i think they're gone until i suddenly find myself with uncontrollable tears and irrational frustrations. and then, i remember, that yes...it's there.

it's at this point that i say, "but God is healing me and bringing me wholeness and there is no journey i would rather be on than this one."

ahem, hold the presses. cause that ain't what i'm saying.

deep gutteral longings unmet by life's circumstances are not so easily resolved. and even more so, the isolation that comes with the pain is not a place i enjoy. i'm discovering, and God's going to have to hand me over a treasure map to get to the gold part. cause right now, i'm on the dirty, stinking pirate trail just digging up a bunch of clues. (i may have been reading a bit too much about somalia while doing the digging)

but you know, i've got 7 more years. it's a journey. maybe when the 4-0 comes around i will have at least figured myself out. ...then i can move on to figuring everybody else out.

step away from the 40 year old.


the body

this is why i love friends...
i really don't have words. some things just make my heart quiet. our friend (really, i should say eric's friend because i have spoken maybe 10 words to ray; however, when someone prays for your children that aren't even your children yet...they are most certainly OUR friend, which is what in part makes it so amazing to me) recently ran a marathon and each time he runs he has things that he specifically prays for during the 26 miles. this time it was the sanzones. for 26 miles - which i think was only a few hours for him but certainly would have been at least 6 for me - ray prayed for wisdom in our adoption journey. and as is his custom, he has a tatoo (it's temporary, don't worry, the sanzones won't forever be emblazoned on his guns) to prove it (i'm not sure why the picture is so small but you get the idea)(how many parentheses can you put in a row?)

i dare say God heard his prayers as we are feeling very peaceful about a decision. which actually, it is just as i write this that i am realizing just how much peace has come over us since mid-march, when ray dedicated his 7th marathon to our newest daughter. hmmm...there God goes again proving himself to this stubborn soul. amazing that he keeps me on the team. seriously. sometimes i wonder.

i love when i can see the body of Christ in action. it gives me hope that maybe this Jesus thing is for real. and i have an inkling that this journey to our sweet daughter is going to be just as full of God stories as the first one. my hope is simple - that as much as lydia is the embodiment of the miraculous, our next little girl can be the embodiment of faithfulness. i have no idea what that means. it just came out of my mouth. which is dangerous - it has me thinking already - but generally it means something. generally my fingers somehow interpret my head.

and while i'm on the subject of fingers, here's the latest title for my book...motherhood, the blessed monotony. i am figuring that might open more doors than the previous title, what the hell was i thinking, and others honest thoughts of motherhood. although, that most definitely is going to be a chapter title. its just too perfect to leave completely on the side of the road. but all those christian bookstores would have a hard time stocking the previous title. and for sure i would not be asked to speak with pat robertson.

okay, so i don't really care about christian bookstores and pat robertson, but my husband is a pastor...and i wouldn't want him to lose his job over his ill-mouthed wife...although i did put it to the test in the church foyer last week...and his paycheck was direct-deposited this week...so i guess i didn't do too much damage. i like to say it's my ministry - being real. not so real as to show up on sunday with no make-up (again, we want eric to keep his job), but real enough that sometimes, i feel more at home with the sailors than with the church folk.

oh jesus, do you really want this broken soul?



The house is silent and still
but my heart is not.
The chaotic evidence of life, once ruling floors, tables, couches, counters,
now subdued, now conquered;
yet my heart
has eluded capture,
has dodged detention,
has evaded the preferable prison of Peace.

I know You have woven rest into the rhythm of life.
But I am restless,
disturbed by demands,
Ungrateful for unceasing dictates from those under my care.

I am weary, Lord.
Weary, once again.

Weary to the point of wanting nothing.
Nothing at all.
Or so my heart deceives me.
So weary, that I contemplate servitude
to the master of ME.
I have served her before and found her incessance
more tiresome than my tasks.

Why do I rage against the very thing I know I need the most?
Why not exchange my weighty parcel of monotony from the mundane
for refreshment from your Righteousness?

I am most free when shackled by Your Truth.

Yoked by Your gentleness and humility,
desirable beyond description,
I drink from the Water that breathes Life.
And in that simple act of surrender,
Acknowledging my thirst,
I find my weariness displaced by the weight of Grace,
My striving, sanctified by serenity.

Gratitude engulfs me in a wave of rest.
I am still.
You are God.


“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
- Jesus Christ, Matthew 11:28


i think God is chuckling at himself - he's so daggone clever. its sort of not fair that he gets to control everything in order to get his point across. like the kid who yells 'timeout' every time he is about to be tagged. ...not playing by the rules.

but i'll take it. it kind of makes me laugh except that i am stubborn enough to NOT crack a smile. this is serious, GOD. at least 5 times since i last wrote have i encountered an experience specifically addressing my thoughts in the last post. i went to church and guess what the sermon was about...trusting God. i know. almost laughable except that i am not cracking a smile, remember? and then during one of my workouts at the gym last week i randomly dialed (or whatever you do with an ipod) to a podcast which was about...God's sovereignty in the midst of tragedy. ha! see if i ever choose a podcast again over my very hip playlist of avril, rihanna and beyonce.

i can't remember the other moments right now - let's just say God was having a good time throwing them in whenever i turned around. however, sunday night was the pinnacle. if i didn't clue into God then i think i might have had a reason to file for social security based on a severe hearing disability.

eric and i had the enormous privilege of helping with the steven curtis chapman/michael w. smith concert. we worked with steven's new project, Show Hope, to tell people about orphan sponsorship. it was a great time and seeing so many people have soft hearts to the orphans made me smile. i wished i could have done it for his whole tour - one of those purely uplifting experiences that you think, WOW, i could live on this mountaintop! anyway, a bonus was that we also were able to attend the concert - for free! we weren't sure if we would be able to, but God knew i needed to be in there.

i never realized how many of scc's songs were about the sovereignty of God. one after another was a cry to God proclaiming faithfulness in the midst of the mystery that is faith. and to hear him sing that and then talk of the horrible tragedy with his daughter maria... he was able to say, over and over and over, that even though he couldn't understand why God would allow what he did, he couldn't let that tragedy overwhelm the truth. that God is STILL faithful, he is STILL in control, he is STILL good, he is STILL holy, he is STILL right. what was true before may 21st is true after may 21st. do i get that? no. and that is where it gets complicated because i can't explain it. and i want to be able to reason with God and understand why he does things. WHY. HOW IS THIS GOOD?

tragedy is not good. christians try so hard to seek the good from tragedy. we have the "God works all things together for good..." syndrome. we can't allow ourselves to sit in the moment and say, "this is tragedy. there is nothing good about this. it is hell." but guess what? this earth is full of hell. God promises suffering and hurt. why can't we allow ourselves to feel it? why are we so uncomfortable with the idea that life can be full of devastation. why do we feel a need to wrap it in a pretty bow. hell is not one bit pretty nor are those things that are brought by its master.

God promises to orchestrate good from circumstances, that somewhere in the master tapestry the flawed and broken threads will be woven into the goodness that is our created life. but those threads are still flawed and broken. let's say it. let's live there for a bit. life affords tragedy and it is not good. cancer is horrible. infertility is heart-wrenching. tragic accidents are devastating. sick mama's and dying children are not good. and i don't believe that God asks us to feel that they are good. he only asks to believe that HE IS GOOD.

what i am learning is that my heart can feel the tragedy of circumstances. the weight and heaviness of hell personified. and that's okay. in fact, i would argue that a few of us need to sit there more often. to allow ourselves to be overcome with the tragedy that befalls us and those we love. but while my heart is feeling, i need to lean into the truth. to borrow a line from scc,

"God is God and i am not, i can only see a part of the picture he's painting"
and when we can embrace that we are not God, and that he is in control, and that despite the hell which God assures us will enter into our lives in some way, he is good...that is when we can live life with fullness and as God intended. we can grieve alongside the losses, we can rejoice with those we see triumph, we can live every moment with all the emotion that comes with our frail, and yet God-created, human nature. all the while, leaning into the arms of a God who can see the whole canvas.



the past couple of months have brought about a ridiculous amount of untimely deaths. at least i would call them untimely. more spiritual people would say that God's plans are perfect. one of josiah's soccer buddies...dad gone leaving behind 3 small children. a friend from middle school...cancer at age 30 leaving a husband and their 5 children between 6 months and 9. a church acquaintance...single mom overtaken by cancer leaving her 2 adopted girls orphaned for the second time. two pregnant women...husbands gone in the flash of a car accident. another woman...husband dead leaving her and her two little boys. i don't get it. and if i am honest, it scares me to death.

it frightens me to my core. it frightens me that i would ever be put in a position of saying goodbye to my children. what an awful way to leave this world. it literally gives me a pit in my stomach to even imagine the scenario. i will never understand how it could be better for a child to go visit a grave then be snuggled in a mother's arms. what is God thinking?

it terrifies me. i have always said that dying early is my greatest fear. and people most often look at me and chuckle - what a ridiculous fear. right. it happens all the time. you may think it is never going to happen. but my life has been filled with funerals of friends. who am i to think it won't happen to me. why would i think that i would never have to face my greatest fear? in fact, it would probably be right up God's alley to force me to face it. seems like that's just about what he would want to do. after all, a God who steals a mother from her own children is someone who would force me to say goodbye to mine.

and i suppose that is what frightens me more. that right now God is a jerk. he put us on this earth to lead a life full of heartache and frustration only to take us out at the most inopportune time leaving myriads of people behind to grieve (hopefully). what's the point? really.

the point is so that in whatever years we have on this earth we can bring him glory. and it is right here that i tie this up in a neat little bow and sign it with a smile. but i can't. my heart isn't there. i think maybe for the first time in my life i am wrestling with what the hell i am on this earth for. as the years tick by, life seems to get harder. and maybe it is those difficulties that bring a forced evaluation of what exactly i am doing.

i know i look good on the outside - pastor's wife, adoptive mom, director of preschool ministry. i have my ducks in a row. but inside i am scrambling to figure this all out. i wake up and honestly wonder, what in the world am i doing here? and if you put me in a doctor's office and told me i had a few months, i am fairly sure the anger and rage that would overcome me would be the ugliest you have seen. there would be no spiritual stories written about my attitude. my ability to embrace God's plan. nope. none of that. no sermon illustrations here. i would be angry. i would be livid. my true colors would show. and that is what scares me the most. that despite my incessant efforts to be honest, i am afraid people don't know the fear that lurks behind closed doors. and just maybe, if i am ever asked to walk that road, that my children and husband would watch while i crumble. that those who look to me as a spiritual person would see that inside i am as fragile as the wind.

eric was talking last night as we were laying in bed. and he was reviewing a book he is reading that basically makes the point that when we hit mid-life we realize, more intensely before, that all the things that have been propping up our purposes are fading. looks - don't have to stare in the mirror too long before i realize those aren't going anywhere positive. career - that went out the door about 8 years ago. possessions - the older i get the farther i find myself behind the jones's. those things that once brought security are dimming, even at the ripe old age of 33. and what remains is my relationship with Jesus. which, at best, is crappy.

so where does that leave me? i'm not sure. i know a few things. it leaves me with a husband whom i often feel unworthy to be his wife. and find myself having trouble even engaging him in conversation as our spiritual journeys are about as different as it gets. it leaves me with kids who are trusting a mom who can lead and guide them in truth and yet i have no idea what exactly that truth is. it leaves me with friends who have no idea who i really am. it leaves me with a church body who i am supposed to be leading in several areas of ministry and yet if you asked me if i was excited about church i would have to say no. it leaves me with not many, but nevertheless a few, people who don't know Jesus and will never know him based on their interactions with me. and its a few only because i don't get out much, not because the rest of them have been brought to their knees in repentance.

my heart is being wrenched. is this God getting my attention? is this Satan staging an attack? i don't even know anymore. sometimes they feel like the same entity.

it hasn't always been like this. this time last year i felt God. i felt him move. i know he brought us lydia. it was an intensely spiritual time. but now there are so many questions. so much doubt. so much emptiness. sometimes i think i could walk away from it all and be just fine. give me a credit card and a roof over my head and i could be running down the empty path of material pleasure in a heartbeat. faith seems so far away. and so useless.

and by the way, we are supposed to be praying about adopting another little one. how in the world do we figure that out? God...are you there?


the how of it all

one thing i did during lydia's adoption journey was try to record the times i felt like God was speaking. it is so easy to forget if it isn't written down and then i start to wonder if God is being silent. no, he's not, i just have a bad memory. time and again i looked back at the promises God had given us for Lydia and they were an encouragement every time. and they still are.

i haven't been so good about that with this one. God is definitely moving, i'm not sure where exactly, but he is taking us to a point located outside of the comfort zone! i need to record it. i was just saying to a friend the other day that i need God to be C-L-E-A-R...i think part of that is me not only listening, but recording his voice.

so i was sitting in bible study today - we are doing beth moore's esther along with the rest of the country. the lecture today was quite academic and i was struggling to follow. but towards the end was one of those moments where i heard God. loud and clear. beth brought to our attention, "it is not our responsibility to figure out the how of our circumstances, but to simply act in obedience."

i don't know that anything would have addressed our latest thoughts on adoption better unless it included writing in the sky. as eric and i continue to pray about ethiopian adoption, both of us are very nervous about raising a black child. we have no idea how to do that. it is a HUGE undertaking. it would be silly to think otherwise. but this morning, i felt like God saying, "don't worry about the how's of it, just obey". really? don't i need to be a little concerned when i bring home a sweet cherub and have no idea how to raise her to be a whole, well-adjusted, Godly young woman? knowing that our family will encounter all sorts of challenges, don't i need to know just a little bit how to do that? seriously, i don't even know how to do her hair!

that's where my flesh leads me. i need to get some answers before we do this thing! but maybe God just needs our obedience. maybe i don't have to feel comfortable, or even have my big toe sort of crossing into the comfort zone. maybe it's okay to not have any answers.

of course, as soon as i write this, i already hear voices in my head (some of people i dearly love and respect) who say that is a really foolish way to live life. you don't just do things and hope for the best. you can't run out and buy a car and let God figure out how you are going to pay for it! and you can't bring a black child into a VERY caucasian family and just expect it to work out. i know. that's what i think too. which is why God is teaching me and prodding me to listen to him, not my own carnal thoughts and wisdom. it seems his way is always backwards from our way.

obedience. without the how's. that's a big calling. not sure i am ready for that.



i know. it's been a long time. mostly because every time i begin to think in blogese there are multiple children needing my attention and when the small monsters are finally tucked safely away to hibernate for the night, my brain does not function. or maybe, it might function only when staring at hugh laurie, simon cowell, or jeff probst.

gosh, God is weird. i wonder if my christian journey is similar to others. it goes in these huge waves. for the past few months i have felt like i was in idle. nothing big, nothing to speak of. just living the ins and outs of life. pretty much since lydia came home. of course, one cannot live on the miracle train forever. i don't think. i ponder a lot of things, and if i had the ability to blog while straightening the house, i would have a lot more posts. but really, i feel like we are just laying low. enjoying the days.

and then, God throws a HUGE curveball as if to say, "hello...(spoken in a robin williams voice)...here i am and we are turning up the heat. the pot is getting ready to boil and you just hang on."

the other day i get an email. as i do at least 50 times a day, every day. an adoption email which is nothing out of the ordinary. for whatever reason i am on about 1000 different adoption lists. i think they must scan northwest airlines passenger list for all families traveling from guangzhou to detroit with 3 people who have mildly caucasian names. so...i get this email. all about ethiopian adoption. nothing new, african adoption is something we are familiar with but have never felt called to. but something tugged on my heart and i clicked on the button for more information. mind you, eric was out of town for the weekend, so i was left to frolic in my emotions and wind my heartstrings around whatever was behind the magic button.

and there it went. my heart flew to a faraway land, to a continent on the opposite side of the ocean. i can't really explain it - believe me, i have tried to communicate all of these goings-ons with eric and i can't. he just sits and nods his head and lets me muse (which is what he did when we first talked about china...) i began to explore ethiopian adoption and to my surprise, it had all of the 'practical' things we talk about - cost, travel time, healthy children, time frame. i suddenly felt the same way as i did with china when we were journeying to lydia. i was attached in some weird, unspeakable sense. it caught me off guard - because though we are sure that God has a fifth child for our future, i have repeatedly said that my heart didn't feel the same way. i chalked it up to 'been there, done that' and something is never as 'exciting' the second go round as it is the first. but maybe, my heart is not wrapped around china, because it belongs somewhere else.

and so the pot begins to boil. suddenly, what seemed like a settled decision is anything but settled in my mind. what in the past seemed like an absolute no, is now an option on the table. it is amazingly similar to our journey through special needs adoption. we were adamant that God was not leading us into special needs, and then in a matter of a weekend (when eric was gone and i was playing on the computer...) our hearts were turned.

so whether we pursue an adoption from ethiopia, i don't know. but God has turned me on my head and i am flipped up in the pot of boiling water! if we are open to the adoption of a black child, then why not a domestic adoption? or a biracial child? the options are overwhelming.

God is in the boiling process. and he is the one who turned up the heat. that i am sure off. what i am not sure of is where this journey is going to end. and i don't like that feeling. i want to KNOW what is going on. i want to be SURE. i do not like the idea of being tussled in the pot for a time before God reveals the master plan. that scares me. the whole thing scares me. i would much prefer to fall asleep at night imagining the sounds and smells of china as we go back and do what we have already done. there is comfort there (gross food, but comfort nonetheless)and peace in knowing the steps before us. but now there is NONE of that. there is no peace in my soul. there is nothing but unanswered questions.

grrrr. i don't like this.



so i guess what you are saying is that owning more than 10 pairs of jeans is a lot. i didn't think i was that abnormal, but alas i am. hmmm. not sure what to do now that i know that. and yes, they all fit and they are all different. i already got rid of my 21's (that is, jeans that were worn when i was but a mere child and my body resembled more of a child's)

is there such a thing as jean gluttony?



what we received in the mail today was something i thought would never happen. i actually thought it was impossible. really. as in out of the realm of possibility.

eric came home as usual and grabbed the mail on his way in. i did not venture outside today due to Operation Clean-Out. 10 trash bags later, the kids' rooms are clean. and i am not a pack-rat. and i clean out regularly. where does all this stuff come from? ...........lest i digress, i hear eric say from the kitchen as i am fantastically beating josiah in mario olympics rowing (which i might add is a ridiculously hard workout for your arms)..."you will never believe what came in the mail!"


"a letter from lydia's sister."


"a letter from china. from lydia's sister!"


i abandoned my sculling endeavors and rushed to see, to my amazement, an amazingly well-written english letter mailed from china. "dear mr. and mrs. sanzone," it began, "i am jishan's sister." enclosed were four pictures - 3 of lydia and 1 of her and her mother and 2 sisters - and a birthday card, along with the letter that was in an envelope decorated for christmas.

upon further investigation i realized it was not her birth sister as i had initially thought. in the first moments i had imagined another adoptive family somehow finding out that their daughter and lydia were related. but the letter was from (at least i think) her foster sister and the pictures were of the foster mom and the 2 sisters.

i love that this young girl (12 years old) considers lydia her sister. it is a simple confirmation to what we imagined had been the case - that lydia was loved and cherished by a special family in china. a family that we will forever be grateful to and now i can TELL THEM! i can say THANK YOU for giving us the greatest gift you could ever have given us. this family took in a little girl who was terribly malnourished and underdeveloped and when they gave her to us she was a healthy girl who had obviously been doted on (remember the empress syndrome?) and loved beyond measure.

and it would be selfish of me to think only of our end of things. i can read love in the lines of the letter. there is a family a half a world away who poured themselves into a sweet cherub only to have to give her to a stranger who they knew would take her far away forever. i hope that i can bring them sweet joy through pictures and letters of how lydia is growing and thriving. i dream of the day we could meet them and have a family reunion.

from the beginning of our adoption journey we have prayed for lydia's china family - both her birth family and her foster family. specifically we have prayed that somehow and in some way they would be comforted by the Lord. i have no idea if this family knows our God, but i wouldn't doubt it given the answers to prayers we have seen thus far in lydia's life. and if they don't, what an opportunity we have just received.

i am stunned.

never in a million years did we ever think we would know who cared for our sweet princess. it never even crossed our minds. when we were in china we asked about the foster family but were not given any contact with them nor any information. we were thankful to just have a video and some pictures of the orphanage where she spent a portion of her time. but to now have the ability to communicate with the family who nurtured our little girl to health and loved her and saved her...i am speechless.

i do not have a photo scanner or i would post the pictures. i will have to go to my parent's house and scan them in so you can see. they are precious. what a gift we have been given. and lydia has been given. for her to be able to know details about her first 2 1/2 years is priceless.

i have emailed our agency just to make sure that there is nothing we should be cautioned about. assuming we get the green light, i will be sending a letter to china as soon as i can! with some pictures and a whole lot of thankfulness.

as my dear friend said, "the miracle continues..."

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sanzone,

Hi! I am Jishan's Chinese sister. My name is Yingtong Fan. I am twelve years old. I am at a middle school. I live with my parents in China. They are from Guangzhou. My father is a driver. My mother is a cook in my family. I have a younger sister. Her name is Yingyu Fan. She is seven years old. Jishan is beautiful, clever and kind. So I love her very much. I want to make friend with you. Do you want to make friend with me?

Here is some photo of Jishan. And one of the photo is my family. The first girl on the left is my sister. The second person from the left is my mother. And Jishan is sit on my mother. The first girl on the right is me.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanzone please tell me of yourself and your family. And Christmas is coming. Merry Christmas to your family. I hope every body in your family both happy every.

Best wish
Fan Yingtong