Monday, January 31, 2011

Sharing our journey...: "Gifts of Love" & "Getaway Giveaway"

Please visit the link below.  This is a family that we have gotten to know and are very thankful for!  They have been so helpful and supportive to us during our own process.  Please consider helping them through theirs!

Sharing our journey...: "Gifts of Love" & "Getaway Giveaway": "About this 'Getaway-Giveaway!' Here's the deal... The Mr. and I aren't necessarily 'blog-savvy' or embedded in the blog world. &nb..."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What is strength?

My friends love me and tell me that I am strong.  I say thank you and it makes me feel good to know that they think that way.  And when I am all myself...I question that.  Am I strong???  Why do I cry when things get hard?  Why do I feel like a failure after a really tough day of behavior issues when I have yelled too much?  That isn't strength...
So, I find myself asking...WHAT is strength?  What makes someone strong?  I think that I have figured out what I consider "strong" to be.  And it is TRUST.  Trusting God.  Knowing that he is in control and that he will take care of me.  And of mine - what I consider to be the most valued part of my life here:  my loved ones. That he will give Owen the ability to overcome the emotion mess...that he will heal Gracie even though it seems to be getting worse and protect her while she is taking scary medicine.  That he will heal our niece from cancer.  That he will be with Josh and I...and our marriage and thoughts as we go through all of this together.
I do think it is OK to cry.  To wonder and to question things...including myself.  But, I am just so thankful that when I am done with all of that...I don't have to question God.  I truly trust him.  And when I remind myself of that, I find peace.  And with that peace...I find strength in the next moment.  I really hope that everyone reading this (and those who aren't) know this strength, peace, and trust.
So, NO I am NOT strong.  I have really hard days and I cry...and I yell...and I wonder.  BUT (I love when there is a but), my God is ALWAYS strong.  ALWAYS trustworthy.  ALWAYS in control.  ALWAYS knows what is coming next.  I CAN TRUST HIM.  And that is ALL I NEED.  All Joshua needs.  All Gracie needs.  All Owen needs.  And they have it.  We all do.

To our sweet Owen,
You are really overcoming so much.  I am so proud of you.  You inspire me to let go and let God.  You inspire me to move forward and see what God has in the next moment.  I love you, our family, and this life God has blessed us with more than I can say.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

People find Owen to be fascinating.  They really do.  I am surprised how much attention he gets...and I think it is because people (even strangers) want to know his story.  They see us together and smile and talk and compliment on how beautiful my family is.  Some people ask questions and some people don't, but you can tell they want to.  Those of you who know me, know that I am pretty much an open book.  Unless sharing information is going to hurt someone, I am happy to share it.  If it is about us, of course.  :)
I feel like we have been through so much in our lives...our "family" lives.  That is, since Josh and I married.  God has MOVED in our lives and I just can't help but want to share that with others.  Josh and I both agree that if we don't share our stories, then we aren't allowing God to be glorified or showing how amazing he has been in our lives.  This is, of course, not for everyone.  And that is just fine.  Not everyone shares as much as we do.  It IS for us though.  Probably even TMI at times...but it is who we are!  Right? thinking of that, I realize that most people ask the same questions.  Typically, these questions don't offend me one bit.  It would take a lot to offend me...and the couple times that has happened since we've been home...I have chosen to brush it off and call it lack of understanding or knowledge.  I can appreciate people asking shows that they care, that they find it interesting, or maybe God is using that time to show someone something.  Seeing and hearing of other people's adoption stories made a big impact on my own and if I can do that for someone else...I would be honored.
For those of you who want to respect boundaries, be careful not to offend, or slip and say something "wrong" - here they are!  The questions most people ask me.  I thank these people for their consideration and kindness.  And hope you enjoy MY OPINION on the answers.  That's right...I'm not always right and don't always say the right thing.  Please keep in mind that these are MY answers and may not be answers for another adoptive family.  We are all different, you know?

Why Uganda?
This is the easiest question.  We adopted from Uganda because that is where our son was.  We prayed for a long time before deciding to adopt.  We asked God to show us the child that he had for us...boy, girl, black, white, brown, toddler, baby...just bring us together.  And he made it VERY clear that our child was in Uganda.  And then he lead us straight to Owen.

Will you go back with Owen to Uganda?
We really do hope to go back with our whole family one day.  We would love to go together and do some mission work.  We will most likely wait several years and go when all of our children are older.  Between now and then...Josh and I do plan on as many trips there as God will allow.  We both feel VERY lead to go back and be the hands and feet of God.  We have both fallen in love with Uganda and the people there.

Will you adopt again?
We have both given up on planning things.  But, we do both feel like God may have plans for us to adopt again.  And we are prayerful about it.  We don't think that this will be for a few years, but who knows!

Is Owen healthy?
Yes!  Praise the Lord!  He is so healthy that I consider it nothing short of a miracle!  We did not find out until we got to Uganda that Owen is HIV-, does not have active TB, does not have asthma, does not even have parasites, and does not have anything else that we are aware of for that matter.  We thank and praise God for it!  He did contract Malaria before we got to him, but he also overcame it before we got to him.

Would you have still adopted Owen if he was HIV+?
Absolutely without a doubt.  We both talked about it and decided to go forward regardless of his HIV status.  This also forced us to research the topic and we found the following facts:  There has NEVER been a case of one child getting HIV from another child in the U.S.  NOT ONE.  HIV can only be transmitted by blood and sometimes breastfeeding.  So, not by kissing, hugging, vomit, poop, or touching of any kind.  Also, with the amazing meds we have in the country, a child who is HIV+ can actually go into a kind of remission and no longer have the active virus in their blood.  We know of several people who have adopted children who are HIV+, and we have seen this happen.  These children most likely would have died before seeing their toddler years in Africa.  And now, it is likely that they can die of old age.

How is Gracie transitioning?
She is taking it about how she would have taken a younger sibling had I been pregnant.  Of course, this younger sibling doesn't sleep all the time, likes to take her toys, and wants more attention.  She wasn't too thrilled with sharing her toys and space...and still isn't very happy about that.  But, she loves Owen and he loves her.  They share a very cool bond that I am noticing to be stronger and stronger.  If one of them is in a crowded room and the other cries...they come running.  They protect one another and show love to one another.  They do also bicker like any sibling would. It is loud at our house...VERY loud.  And I am told that this will probably not change.  And I am starting to accept it.  :)

Is it OK to say he is "black"?
This isn't something that we talk about often.  It just doesn't really come up at home...simply because it isn't really of huge importance in our day to day life.  Other than the fact that he needs to be rubbed down with lotion daily, it makes no difference to us.  With that said, he IS black.  Just like Gracie IS white.  And we love that about both of them.  Owen is so very handsome and we love him the way God made him.  So, nope...doesn't bother me one bit.  We love that he is Ugandan and will include that in all of our lives.  I LOVE that Gracie's skin is so white and that his is so black.  One of my favorite pictures of all time is one of their hands touching.  God is the most amazing artist, sculptor, and creator, isn't he???

How much did it cost?
When it was all said and done, our adoption ended up costing us around 15,000-16,000 US dollars.  God provided every penny of it.  Through donations, shirt sales, garage sales, and friends and family.  We had nothing when we started and everything when we finished.

Do you think Gracie will be upset she doesn't have a blog?
No.  Gracie has tons of things from her first 2 years of life.  She has notes (I write her handwritten notes regularly through out the year), some bloggage (is that a word?), tons of saved keepsakes, baby pics, footprints and handprints, Christmas ornaments, and lots of other things.  From the time she was born to now.  I will probably be writing notes for their lunch boxes well into their high school years (like my Mommy did).  :)

That is all I can think of for now.  I would be happy to answer any others.  One thing I request is that you not ask the questions in front of the kiddos.  A question that doesn't bother me may not be a good question for our kids to hear.  People often say what a lucky little boy Owen is.  That just isn't true.  WE are BLESSED far beyond what we could have ever dreamed by becoming Owen and Gracie's parents.  God knew that he had this in store for us from the time we were in our own parents wombs.  And we are so thankful for that.

I'll leave you with a few of our favorite family pics.  God bless!

To our sweet Owen,
You are getting so big!  You are really catching up...size 2T pants today and size 9 shoe already!  You are speaking more and more.  And the random "I love ya Mom" moments that we share melt me.  Your personality cracks me up.  Your sense of humor is so much like your Daddy's.  We look forward to what each day holds with you in it.  You are also becoming very protective of me and Gracie.  It is like you want to take care of us already.  Your heart is so big...and your smile is even bigger.  Anyone who hears you laugh can't help but smile too.  
Love you more,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our God is Greater....Our God is Stronger

Sometimes things happen on this this life...and I just don't get it.  I find myself wanting to be angry and asking God why???  Why would he do this?  What good could come of it???  How could he give a 13 year old, sweet little girl...growing into becoming a woman...cancer?  And give so many people fear?  And doubt?  And sadness?  WHY???
I know other people who have also felt many people have gone through this struggle and others with loved ones and endured times that I can't imagine.  Some have been through it themselves wondering how their life will turn out.  Some of them have done it with peace and complete trust and faith in the Lord.  Some of them have come out of situations that ended the worst way...and they STILL trust our amazing God.
Perhaps it is because they know that even death doesn't seperate us as believers.  Perhaps it is because God gave them peace that surpasses all understanding.  Perhaps they just DID IT...without knowing how or why, but they just DID...because God did it FOR them.
You see...our God is greater than cancer.  He is greater than death.  Greater than life.  Greater than fear.  Than doubt.  Than money.  Than worry.  Than anything really.  We just have to trust him.
SO...I am going to trust God.  I am going to trust that he is going to HEAL OUR SWEET NIECE, ELENA.  That he is going to use this opportunity to draw others nearer to him and show us all what he is capable of.  He sees the big picture.  I think we are can agree that we just don't.
Please join me in prayer for Elena.  Prayer is power.  Prayer changes things.  I have seen God move mountains with prayer.  Please pray for peace, health, healing, and comfort for Elena and her loved ones.  Please follow along with their blog: .
Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My new normal...

I think I'm figuring something out. I'll list a few below, but the main thing I've figured out is this: my new "normal" is that there isn't a "normal" if you live day by day and go with God's "flow".
I also have figures these out:
1. Siblings fight...adopted or biological.
2. I can do this.
3. Life is matter what.
4. Living for God isn't easy.
5. Guilt is pointless...but difficult to shake.
6. God is in control. I am NOT. And that's hard to remember.
7. Gods not done with us.
8. He will never be done with us.
9. Amazing grace has got to be the most beautiful song. Ever.
10. I wouldn't be able to handle life without my faith.
11. I know some amazing people.
The other day, I was sitting outside with the kids. I was don't feel overwhelmed. I am finding my groove. Awesome!
That afternoon we got a call that Josh's niece was very sick. The next day Owen tested positive for the flu. Gracie and I started tamiflu ($50 each). That was a 231.00 pharmacy bill. Yikes! Gracie had to be sedated for a procedure that turned out to be a bigger deal than we originally thought. We are now headed to Tulsa. Things are crazy. There are major thoughts and emotions. BUT, I still have peace. And it's only because of my God. His peace. His grace. His love. His presence. His people.
I'm not going to find my normal. And I'm ok with it. Most people I talk to have told me this. And now I get it. Our hope is that we don't find our normal. Because then we may not be growing like God wants us to. I am so thankful that I get to go through this with my best friend. Josh inspires me daily...and makes me laugh pretty regularly.
Life isn't easy...but it is A. M. A. Z. I. N. G.
Here are a few pics! God bless!

The little Mister before the bug hit.

And after...I know the double booger bubbles are gross, but I was impressed. And he thought it was funny.

Gracie before her successful cortisone injection.

Proud Daddy after Gracie finished

Thats right. They are playing together! Woo hoo!

To our sweet Owen,
You are so tough. You didn't even seem sick and you had the flu. Welcome to America! I guess it's better than malaria. Though I just found out that it can recur...makes for a nervous mommy. But don't worry...your daddy is cool as a cucumber. He and I and Gracie can't explain the love we have for you. You are also so funny! You get it from your daddy.
Love you more,

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reflecting on 2010

Well, if you are reading looks like God has blessed you with another year - like me!  That is great news, right?  I've never been real big on resolutions - though I do like the fresh new start that comes with another year. It feels almost like a do-over.  Another opportunity to be better at what I am every aspect of my life.  I often try so hard...and then feel bad that I didn't succeed as much as I thought I was supposed to.  This year is a little bit different.  I still like the fresh, new start we get with another new year.  In fact...I am going to embrace it. However, this year, more than ever, I am also going to look back at the year that was 2010.  WHAT A YEAR. I had no idea where it would take us last January.  And look at where we are!!!  God is so incredibly amazing...and I am a fool if I think that I can even begin to figure out what and where and who I will be in December of 2011.  So, with this fresh, new start...I am going to try REALLY hard NOT TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT.  I am going to REALLY try to live one day at a time.  Appreciate that day.  Challenges and all.

Reflecting on the past year, I have learned the following lessons about myself (of course this is just a few of many):
1.  I don't know much of anything.
2.  I LOVE my daily shower.  I love to let the water drip into my mouth and flood it and spit it out.  LOVE it.
3.  I have too much stuff.
4.  I have too short of  a fuse.
5.  I am uncomfortable.
6.  I am changing...growing...being molded.
7.  I am learning who God wants me to be.
8.  I am appreciating that this life is only temporary.  And praise God for his son and the fact that I get eternity in heaven.
9.  I have the most amazing children.  REALLY.  They are so...inspiring...determined....smiley...beautiful...everything I want to be.
10.  I have an incredible husband - who is the head of our household...and I am happy about it.
11.  I have been blessed with an open minded, accepting, loving, beautiful family that I wouldn't change for anything.
12.  I am rich.
13.  I REALLY love coffee.  A LOT.  Ok...maybe I already knew that, but I am reminded over and over!
14.  My friends are more like family.
15.  People love us so much.  They loved us enough to help us bring our son home.  That is A LOT of love. And time.  And donations.  And PRAYER.  People made a difference in our lives.   They did things they didn't have to do.   Went out of their way.  Made a WORLD of difference to us.  They are and will always be a part of our family.
As you can see...some of these lessons have been BIG ones and some have been smaller.  Some have impacted my life forever and some have always been an impact on my life.  Perhaps the biggest thing I have learned and come to appreciate was toward the end of this year and it is this:  GOD DID NOT PUT ME HERE TO BE HAPPY OR CONTENT.  I can't find peace in this world.  I am not going to feel "accomplished" or like I have gotten where he wants me to be.  And I don't need to.  But, what I CAN rest in is the fact that if I am uncomfortable...feeling stretched at all ends...almost desperate...then I am right where my amazing God wants me to be.  THIS IS WHERE I GROW THE MOST.  I get lost in the day to day.  In the easy stuff.  Where I am FORCED to find peace in God is at the times where I can't handle it on my own.
When I first realized this it kinda freaked me who wants to live the rest of their life in strife?  Isn't there really an easy button?  But, now I really can kind of feel great about it.  God is using me.  THAT IS WHAT THIS LIFE IS ABOUT.  I am not always sure what he is using me for...but he is with me always.  And HE IS ALL I NEED.  When I live life for HIM...I am able to really appreciate the blessings that come with every day.  And instead of living happy...I get to LIVE.  Really...LIVE.  It is so different.  And so much better.
I like who I am today. Wife.  Stressed.  Mom.  Flawed.  Daughter.  Overwhelmed.  Sister.  Laughing.  Friend.  Loving.  Person.  Caring.  I have the rest of my life to work on me - or rather to let God have his way with me.  I know that He has big plans for the rest of the years to come.  I am so excited about it.  I hope every person reading this (and those who aren't), realize that God has GREAT PLANS FOR YOU TOO.  You may have NO IDEA what kind of things he is planning on doing with you in 2011.  Please let me know if I can pray for anything specific.  My email is to the right of my posts.
I would love to leave you with pics...but our computer is a bit of a mess right now and I can't download them.  So...hang tight...more to come soon!
Happy New Year!  May your  2011 be as wrecked and beautiful as our 2010 was!  God bless!

To Our Sweet Owen,
Son, you have opened my eyes to a whole new world.  I thank you for that.  I love you for you.  Your little legs are getting chubby.  Your in the 47th percentile for your weight.  Still need to catch up on your height.  But, your head is in the 97th!  You are SO must need room for that giant brain.  You are learning new things every day.  You tell me you love me without being prompted.  And I melt.  You and your sister have this crazy connection - you bicker and fight like any siblings would.  But, when we are out and the other needs come running.  It is this cool bond you have formed - and I marvel in it. You are more of a blessing to us than we could have ever imagined.  I thank God daily that 2ish years ago, he made you in another woman's womb...for us.  You are perfect.  Happy New Year Baby Boy!
Love you more,