Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Again, I sadly don't have a lot of time to post, but I wanted to thank everyone profusely for your prayers regarding our Christmas travel plans! As of 2pm today, we FINALLY have permission to travel to see my family with the boys. We are all thrilled, but we have much to do before we head out tomorrow. Nothing like the last minute :) As we all prepare for Christmas, I want to share some really special moments we've had with K-man recently.

He's begun to pray, and pray often.  We realize that mostly he is parroting what he hears, but it's been interesting to watch the Holy Spirit slowly connect the dots regarding when to pray, what to pray about, and how to pray. Tonight, I asked him if he wanted to start and I would finish. I offered this, because usually he really wants to pray and then he'll say, "Dear God..." and all will be silent. Tonight, he took me by surprise when he said, "Dear God, we just thank you for (and he mentioned everyone in his family by name as well as my name and my husband's), and we just thank you for loving us and thank you for your son, Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen." I kid you not. That is what came out of the child's mouth. I had nothing to add, so I just chimed in, "Amen!" and gave him a huge hug as my heart was so full.

Speaking of prayer, a few nights ago, B-boy was exceptionally fussy. As always, K-man wanted to be right by my side through it all. I was trying to calm B-boy down when I felt a tap on my leg and heard K-man whisper, "Mrs. __________, Mrs. ______________!! I have an idea. Let's pray for B-boy." He held out his tiny hands, and we knelt down beside the crib and prayed. I wish I could say that B-boy instantly stopped crying, and it was an amazing miracle...haha...that was not the case, but again, I am in awe as I watch the Holy Spirit at work in K-man's heart, connecting new dots every day.

The other day, my husband's uncle was ringing the Salvation Army bell at Wal-mart, so we took K-man to "help." All morning, we talked with him about the money people put in the big red bucket. We told him how some people don't have food to eat, beds to sleep in, clothes to wear, or toys to play with, and we told him that we were going to give some of the money God had given us and use it to help other people have food, clothes, etc. Somehow, through the ensuing 3-year-old interrogation, this turned into K-man giving money so that some other kids could have peanut butter sandwiches (his favorite), because otherwise they would never get them. We rolled with it, put 4 quarters in his wallet and headed to Wal-mart. As we rode in the car, K-man started to ask questions that indicated he was starting to understand the idea that this was going to be a bit of a sacrifice. "I'm not going to have any money left in my wallet?" Ultimately, the realization hit home, "I'm not going to share." We were prepared not to force the issue, but we kept encouraging him to see how good it was to share and to give to others in need. We were quite surprised when K-man walked right up to the red bucket, pulled out his 4 quarters and dropped them in. We were so proud of him, but then he proceeded to open his wallet further and pulled out the one dollar bill he had been holding onto since his first visit with his brothers. He struggled to pull it out, but then without hesitation, he dropped it in the bucket. I have never heard him complain. Even when he saw things in the store that he wanted, I never heard him complain about giving his dollar bill away. I don't live under the illusion that he deeply understood what he was doing, but on some level, he did. He even talked on the way home about how "those kids are going to have a peanut butter sandwich." In a small way, this was a very big act of generosity for this little man.

On the same theme of generosity, we took a trip to the dollar store to let K-man shop for gifts. We explained all day that on Christmas, we give gifts to the people we love. We've been really trying to teach that lately as he's been receiving gifts. "What does this mean, K-man?" "It means they love me." "That's right." Anyway, he again, had a slight internal struggle on the way to the store. He wasn't quite sure about buying everyone else presents and none for himself, but we pressed on. When we got to the store, I showed him all of the toys and all of the Christmas aisles, and then I asked, "Who's someone you love, K-man?" The kid who often replies, "I don't know," was very thoughtful and one-by-one, very meticulously chose presents for me, my husband, my brother who visited recently, his brothers, his momma, and his grandma. Again, despite the several things he saw that he wanted, he never threw a fit and was really delighted about the idea of giving gifts this year.

B-boy has had his share of fun moments recently as well. A pretty regular occurrence these days, B-boy will be lying on his back, flip to his tummy, get up on all fours and rock violently forward and backward, looking back occasionally and giggling (just to make sure we're all watching this exciting new skill). He's going to be another Zizi...I can just see it...a speedy, busy crawler any day now, and I'm not sure I'm ready for it!! As if things are not exciting enough over here!

Attachment with these boys is coming quickly. I sincerely miss them both when they are away, and my heart is full to overflowing when they are around. We are so looking forward to Christmas. Please pray that we would continue to be intentional and that receiving presents would only point K-man even more toward our love for him which ultimately comes from God's love for us. Please also pray that K-man would not be overwhelmed by the number of family members he will be meeting on Christmas day. Sometimes this can prove a bit troubling for him. Pray that he will be well-prepared and will become acclimated quickly.


"And this is eternal life, 
that they know you the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
John 17:3

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Joy...J-O-Y

...a very appropriate word we've been learning this week with K-man.

As I'm sure you suspect, quite a lot has transpired since my last post. My husband and I find ourselves in a very different place than we were a few weeks ago - a much better place. I almost tear up tonight as I am finally able to write about the indescribable joy we have been given in our new little family.

First, let me try to reflect on our first few rough weeks and see if there is any wisdom I can share having come through this difficult spell (which is not to say that it's over, but it's certainly in a lull at this point).
  1. Take care of yourself, and be honest about your emotions. As guilty as I felt at times about my ugly selfishness, I am so thankful for the time I had to get away and take time to gain perspective on the situation. I wish I had given myself even more grace in those first few weeks.
  2. Accept the help of others...gladly!! I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for my family and many, many dear friends who literally pulled me through the last few weeks. If you're wondering how to help a friend or family member who is in this transition, find a way to fold yourself into their life! I was mostly craving distraction - craving adult friends to come hang out with me, craving play dates for K-man, just craving time with friends and other moms of whom I could ask the million questions I had!
  3. Grace, grace, grace. So you don't have dinner on the table. So you don't have a squeaky clean house. So you aren't able to get to the laundry. So you don't look your best. Life will not look like this forever! You will find a new normal, but it will take time. We're still a work in progress over here after almost a month, but we're doing much, much better.
  4. Pray for the fruit of the Spirit. And have others pray for you. I have, daily, had to ask the Holy Spirit to produce this in me - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
  5. Have somewhere to go...or at least have some kind of structured activity. The first few weeks, especially, were very difficult to endure when sitting at home, playing the same games, counting down the minutes to nap time, sensing the walls closing in around me and these two boys. I have had far better days now that we have begun making memories each day, and I've learned that that doesn't take much with a 3-year-old (at least not this 3-year-old)! Some days we go to the church down the street and look at the Christmas trees. Some days we ride around in the car spotting American flags. Some days we bake cookies and take them to someone...anyone...haha. It helps to get out and do something.
  6. Give grace to the kids. My spirit was in panic mode at the beginning. Now that I'm getting to know K-man on a really deep level, I'm able to see such a distinct difference between his behavior in the beginning and his behavior now. Intellectually, we knew that he is being affected by his circumstance, but I think we still failed to give him the grace that we should have when he acted out in the beginning. The Lord was sovereign through it all, but deep down, I think we were blinded by his occasional outburst in the beginning - often failing to search out what was truly in his heart and give grace where needed.
  7. Pray hard, and give it time. In the end, three weeks is such a tiny blip on the radar...especially when reflecting on eternity, but in the midst of it all, ever minute seems to last an eternity. How humbling it is to see what little faith we had...having great difficulty waiting patiently on the Lord for just three weeks! And now, here we are, falling in love with these boys minute by minute.
Our most recent obstacle has been canceled visitation. This is something we heard a lot about in training but haven't seen much in action. It's been especially difficult for two reasons. First, in the beginning, those visitation times were a lifeline for me...4 hours to myself?? Yes, please!!! Hope of those 4 hours was shamefully my supreme concern for a while in the beginning. Second, a canceled visit not only ruined my (ever-so-important) plans, they more importantly shattered the emotional well-being of the three-year-old living under my care. 

Unfortunately, we usually haven't found out about the canceled visits until a few minutes before the boys were supposed to be picked up. Often, this has came after I preparing K-man all morning for his visit with mom in the afternoon...sometimes writing cards for her, drawing pictures, picking out our best outfit. Usually, I have been able to just let him wake up from his nap like normal, and we've been able to gloss over it and do something fun instead. Unfortunately, this past Sunday he had a visit with mom scheduled that was canceled while we were in the car on our way to meet the transporter. I looked in the backseat and broke the news, "K-man, I am really sad to have to tell you this, but you're not going to see your momma this morning after all." K-man (previously joking around), looked serious and said, "But I want to." No matter what I said, that was his response over and over. 

When we got to the church, we were laughing and joking all the way inside. He held the door for me and B-boy. B-Boy and I proceeded down the aisle of the sanctuary, and I turned around to find that K-man was not following. He had stopped in the foyer. Assuming that he was still playing games, I went to get him. Sadly, as I got closer to him, I saw tears streaming down his face. I scooped him up and held him in my lap for several minutes. When he calmed down, I asked, "What's wrong, sweet boy?" to which he replied, "I miss my mommy." By the end of the morning, he was his usual self again, but he's made some strange comments since then. I can't even begin to imagine what is going on in his little heart these days. He has been rapidly learning truths like, "God made me," "God loves me," "God made everyone and everything," "God is with me wherever I go," and he's begun to really get into the idea of praying and talking to God. Please pray that the Lord would help him over the course of his life to connect the dots and make sense of the fact that even when he feels unloved and alone, God treasures him and walks with him.

I'll close with a few of many things that are beginning to bring joy these days:
  • completely random hugs and kisses from K-man, and the occasional "I love you."
  • regular belly laughter from B-boy and the most adorable crooked smile you've ever seen!
  • B-boy started sleeping through the night after about 4 nights with us, and has never gone back...HUGE praise!!
  • We're starting to really understand K-man's little language, which is fun, because it's often not intuitive.
  • K-man will now regularly call us to prayer. Tonight, he even bowed his head, folded his hands, and started, "Dear God, thank you for B-boy, my momma, [and a bunch of names I can't type here, but just a sweet, sweet list to hear]."
  • Tonight, my husband had to run to the store in the middle of bath time to pick up some lotion and be back before prayers and bed time. K-man had a hard time understanding that he would be back to tuck him in and was looking really, really concerned about the whole thing. I was chuckling and reassuring him that he would be back and not to worry when all of a sudden, K-man looked at me with very serious eyes and said, "but I love Mr. ________." I about lost it.
And here is where it is tempting to equate the Lord's faithfulness with pleasant days. On the contrary, my husband and I have a deeper faith than ever before, and it is thanks to our most difficult days these past few weeks. The Lord has been faithful and loving to point out our hidden selfishness that was much easier to hide when life was mostly all about us, and He has been faithful to show us His amazing grace in the sacrifice of His Son that covers all of it...humbling, to say the least.

This is shaping up to be one of my longest posts ever, so I'll stop here and TRY to post more regularly in the future. Here are a few specifics to pray for us:
  • Pray for visits to be more predictable, and pray for wisdom as we determine how to mediate situations when they are canceled.
  • I've been praying about how I might show radical love to K-man and B-boy's momma. Pray that the Lord would give me some clear direction there.
  • Pray that I would not be complacent, but that I would take every opportunity to pour the gospel into K-man and B-boy's lives.
  • Pray that our Christmas travel plans would be approved. We're still waiting on a final verdict, and I've been told troubling news that their biological mom might have the final say on this (and she's not our biggest fan).
"Trust in the LORD, and do good; 
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, 
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him."
Psalm 37:3-7a

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How fast can I blog??

This is the question I've been asking for quite some time now as I've tried to squeeze in the time, but tonight I just figured I better hunker down and get it done.

Days in our house right now are...livable, at best. We have moments of greatness, but they seem to be quickly dashed by moments of emotional downpours. The boys are doing great. My husband and I, on the other hand, are a big mess. For the sake of honesty, I am going to, yet again, give a pretty raw description of what's been going on at our house.

I'd say every night at about 8pm, after the boys have gone to bed and I've had time to think, I have a slight breakdown. I have found myself daily grasping at any piece of scripture I can read, but feeling like I come up empty. My thoughts are such a jumbled mess that I don't even know how to express them all in words, but here are things I have said most frequently while venting to dear friends (and my mom!).

I have yet to find joy in this situation. I'm learning how much easier it is to attach to babies than 3-year-olds. Even when K-man is being a great kid, he doesn't feel like my kid. I'm not sure he ever will, so often my time spent playing with him gets really, really old, and I feel like I'm babysitting - perpetually. It's especially difficult when he is able and often does say things like, "I'm gonna tell my momma on you." or "I'm not gonna stay here." I never feel hurt by these comments, but it just further establishes the wall between us that, honestly, makes this so much of a chore right now.

I also struggle with my minimal attachment to B-boy. He's an easy baby, so I feel guilty at the end of the day for the tiny amount of attention I've paid him all along the way. I had to be honest with my husband the other night and say, "I struggle with the feeling that I almost don't feel like I even care about him." He's here, and we're feeding him, bathing him, letting him sleep, but we're hardly interacting with him and hardly getting to know him...mostly driven by how overwhelmed we feel in caring for the K-man.

I got into this as a ministry alongside my husband, but since he's only home for about 1 hour of the day before bedtime, I end up feeling really lonely and overwhelmed at the end of the day. I know this is a standard "mom" feeling, but I think the added layer of emotion mentioned above makes this even more difficult. I also find it difficult, because my husband isn't getting to know these kids quite like I do, so even when he is home and in my corner, he's often 5 steps behind me in the adjustment period, feeling potentially even more intimidated than I do.

We keep getting laundry lists of ridiculous complaints from their mother. She is a master at taking the spotlight that should be on her poor parenting and projecting it onto us and onto our agency. I am often very angry about the amount of time I spend defending myself each day against the accusations of a mother who has lost the right to raise her own children.

My poor dog does not have much permission at this point to be inside during the day. Being a large puppy, a rambunctious 3-year-old who is slightly afraid of dogs is not a good match. I spend much of my day feeling terribly guilty about leaving her outside, in the garage, or in her crate for hours on end, when I know all she wants to do is be part of the family again.

Probably the biggest shift for us has been how much more our lives are daily affected. With a baby, if I was overwhelmed at the end of the day, Ricky would come home, I would cry right then, we would tag-team the rest of the day, and all was well. Now, when I'm overwhelmed, I have to bottle it in and life often seems to revolve around the boys until the coveted 7:30 bed time when I can finally break down openly :) Then, we have the daily decision of..."Do we spend good quality time together, or do we get some much-needed things done around the house?"

Again, I know that a lot of this is probably par for the course in parenting an older child, but it's been magnified a great deal by the fact that these kids have just fallen into our laps at these ages. It's a much different ballgame, and we're just really praying that the joy will come in time.

Tonight at church I was reminded that it was not easy for Jesus to go to the cross. I was reminded of his final plea, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and I took great comfort in it. Obedience does not often feel natural...certainly not easy, but I will pray that the Holy Spirit will produce in me "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." I would appreciate your prayers on this also, and I'm sure my husband would ask the same.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Struggling a bit

I feel the need to blog tonight, but I'm going to try to make it quick. Tonight has been a really, really, really rough night. I'm not completely sure why...I just have hit rock bottom all over again. I'm going to do my best to put words to our struggles.

It started right around bed time, when I just couldn't hold the tears back any longer. I stepped out of the room for a minute, pulled myself together, composed myself for bedtime prayers and then raced downstairs to call a friend and vent. All of a sudden, I am just overwhelmed with a sense that my life is not my own anymore, and I desperately miss my husband. We are both completely petrified of this 3-year-old melting down (an irrational fear, we know), and have fallen into working hard to entertain the K-man and make sure that said meltdown doesn't happen. The result is a very fun relationship with this little guy that takes a lot of careful hard work and attention, and ultimately makes me feel like my entire world is revolving around him. I know this is a normal feeling of many moms, but it's extremely uncomfortable for me seeing as this child is not my own and doesn't even feel like my own. I love him, I do, and we've made many sweet memories, but in the back of my head, it's sometimes difficult not to resent him for pulling me away from my husband, who IS my family. Wow...I can't believe I'm really putting this in black and white, but I need to be honest, because I want those who are traveling this road with me to understand that I, too, am struggling deeply at times.

Top all of that with a layer of exhaustion, sickness (for me and B-Boy), TONS of appointments, hardly any time to spend with the Lord, and an upcoming holiday for which our plans are all potentially on the fritz, and I'm just feeling very lonely and overwhelmed all over again. I have a hard time going to bed at night, because I don't want to end my only real quality time with my husband and I'm not quite ready to start another hard, lonely day. So glad to be embarking on a holiday weekend with my sweet husband by my side. So thankful for the fun I am sure we will have celebrating Thanksgiving and decorating for Christmas. So thankful for a dear friend who KNOWS how this feels and is willing to sit and cry with me on the phone when I need it (and many others who I know I could call!!). Mostly thankful that my God is still seated on His throne, in complete control of the seeming chaos that surrounds me. So thankful to know that His plans are ALWAYS for my good and for His glory - He never compromises one or the other.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Enter K-man and B-boy

Wow...this might be a long one...haha. I can't even hardly begin to encompass the last 48 hours in 1 post. Buckle your seat belts...here we go!

We got the phone call we were waiting for on Thursday morning (my birthday!) that 3-year-old, K-man, and 5-month-old, B-Boy (not their real names), would be coming to stay with us that night. I'd say we pretty immediately had an overwhelming sense of fear, but it got progressively worse as the day went on, culminating in a night of some uncontrollable tears on my part. It's hard for me to even describe the fear that overcame me. I was literally shaking on the way to pick up the boys on Thursday night. Who knew the power that a 3-year-old would have over 2 normally well-composed adults?? We met them at the office, heard a really difficult report of the situation they had been pulled from, signed all of the initial paperwork (cried a little bit as I did so), got some encouragement from our amazing agency case workers (they've pretty much become family at this point), and started to load the car. Then, all of a sudden, it hit K-man that we were going to our house and not to his own. He started to cry, and my sweet agency case worker rocked him and calmed him down, carried him to our car, and we started to drive home. He was terrified. We were terrified. He didn't know about us. We didn't quite know about him. It was just a tough drive home.

When we got home, he had settled down for the most part. It was really late, but we had to do baths. Let me tell you how difficult it is to ask a 3-year-old boy who is already terrified of his current situation to take his clothes off and try to bathe him. Thankfully, my inner fear and anxiety was completely covered by the Holy Spirit, who gave both my husband and I gentle, soft voices, filled with nurturing words we didn't even know we had. In the end, I sat and rocked K-man for a good, long while. We all prayed, and we calmed down. K-man grabbed 2 trains, his stuffed bunny, and his new blanket, crawled into bed, and fell right to sleep. Adorable side note...I have always had 4 pillows on both the top and bottom bunks in our kids' room. My husband has always teased me for that, so we laughed when I asked K-man if he wanted all of his pillows or just one, and he said he wanted all of them. Since then, he has repeatedly (quite enthusiastically) commented that, "I have lots of pillows on my bed!" So thankful that the Lord led me to put 4 pillows on his bed...haha...ok, maybe that's a stretch...

B-boy, sadly, is kind of along for the ride at this point. He's extremely happy and interactive, which is a fun contrast to Emmy when she came to us at 4 months with very few smiles. We're trying hard to establish a routine with him, but we're having to spend a lot more of our time working with K-man at this point. We're just giving ourselves a lot of grace on B-boy at this point, and he seems to be just fine.

Since then, both my husband and I have had our share of highs and lows, but I cannot tell you how faithful the Lord has been to quiet our fears and give us a deeper understanding of His love for us along the way. Here are some slightly embarrassing thoughts I need you to know that went through my head during these first 48 hours...

  • Can they go back tomorrow? I hope they go back tomorrow. I at least hope they don't stay very long.
  • I've made a huge mistake. The Lord is not in this.
  • I don't FEEL at peace, so He must not be walking with me.
  • I am going to dread this every single morning...I just know it.
  • I just want to go back in time and be back to our comfortable life we had settled into lately.
Unless you've been there, it's just hard to explain the emotions involved in caring for children to whom you are not yet attached. For me, it always seems to evoke a sense of panic. Even if the week before I was REVELLING in the Lord's faithfulness in all things, I still panic. Forgive me, Lord, for my short memory. 

On top of all of this, on Thursday night, as I was feeding B-boy his bottle, I had a wave of nostalgia that made me miss Emmy and miss her bad. I knew it would come, and there it was...hit me like a rock! But thankfully it doesn't end there. My sweet mom, Bebe, came to the rescue on Thursday night and was with me all day Friday and will stay through Tuesday morning. Yes, I have thanked her profusely! Yes, I know very well how lucky I am! To give a glimpse of how things have been turning around, I'll just share some specifics of our last few days:
  • Last night, as my husband, myself, and K-man were saying our prayers before bed, I thanked God for bring K-man and his brother to our house, and about 3 times during the prayer, K-man made a soft, sweet, "Mmhmm."
  • K-man has not brushed his teeth before arriving here Thursday night, and again, it broke our hearts to see his fear. Since then, we've had 2 very successful teeth-brushings with enthusiasm! He's even enjoying brushing his own teeth!
  • K-man is learning to say "Excuse me" when he burps, and he's doing quite well.
  • K-man gave my husband a huge hug on Friday without prompting when he said he had to leave for work.
  • My father-in-law, Poppy was at a birthday party with all of us today. K-man was pretty petrified at first when we walked into the party, and he was very reserved for a long time at the beginning...not smiling much at all. All of a sudden, he picked up a book off the floor and said with a big grin, "I'm going to give this to Poppy!" and he did! He walked right over, sat in his lap and had him read him a story. I almost lost it.
  • K-man gives sweet hugs and kisses to his baby brother. He LOVES his brother and is really sweet with him.
  • K-man also gives sweet hugs to a few lucky friends of ours from time to time, and he says "Thank you" very well usually.
  • Tonight, K-man finally met Layla face-to-face. We've been easing him into it, because he was pretty scared at first, but slowly he started to be intrigued, laughing at her in the yard, and wanting to give her toys whenever he saw her. We all went on a walk tonight, and Layla and the K-man were fast friends. When we got home, K-man fed her almost her entire dinner out of his hands, laughing with glee at the wet tongue on the palm of his hand. I know this may gross out some of you who aren't dog people, but we thought it was about the sweetest thing we've ever seen. He now talks to her all the time and calls her his friend :)
  • Bebe and the K-man have shared many sweet, sweet moments of shared, "I love you"s :) He has a very tender heart.
I could just go on and on, but I won't. I'll share more as things settle, but I just had to share with you guys yet again how faithful the Lord is when we walk in obedience. He won't cover all of our emotions. Our sinful selves will always be at odds with our faith in Him, but I can stand fully forgiven for my lack of faith these past few days and praise His name for gently restoring my faith, and yes...even deepening it!! Before I close, I will leave you with the words of the song that came on my iPod as I took my first step on my run this afternoon (a great time of healing and renewal for my faith)...I don't make this stuff up!!!!!!

I once was fatherless,

a stranger with no hope;
Your kindness awakened me,
Awakened me, from my sleep

Your love it beckons deeply, 
a call to come and die.
By grace now I will come 
And take this life, take your life.

Sin has lost it's power,
death has lost it's sting.
From the grave you've risen
VICTORIOUSLY!

Into marvelous light I'm running,
Out of darkness, out of shame.
By the cross you are the truth,
You are the life, you are the way

My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I'm free. now I'm free!

I have to look at these boys and see a reflection of the Father's love for me. Though I don't feel it all the time yet, and though I hear phrases like, "I'm gonna tell my momma on you" fairly regularly, I'm struck by my heavenly Father's love for me when I did nothing but reject Him. 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Phone Rang...

Ill need to give some background here. After Emmy left last week, we sat down with our agency and had a conversation that was frightening, but it was a conversation we really felt led to have. Our agency requires foster children to be at least 3 years younger than your youngest child. For that reason, most families within the agency are only able to take babies and toddlers. There are also several families who are looking to adopt, and their parameters are even a bit more narrow - considering gender, race, background, etc. My husband and I are in a unique position in that we have no other kids to consider. We have no one to protect, so there really is no external reason that we could not push ourselves just an inch more outside of our comfort zone.

Our agency helped us think through and process our best options as best we could. Because I am at home full-time, they encouraged us to continue to focus on children who are not yet in school, but they also encouraged us to consider taking a sibling set. Terrified by the prospect, we've been waiting to see what the Lord might bring to our doorstep.

And here I sat a few moments ago when the phone rang...and I would be lying if I didn't say that terror shot through my entire body. I was literally shaking for a good half-hour as I considered the children they had presented us with. I can't give specifics, but this is a 3-year-old boy and his 4-month-old brother (both boys...yikes!!). We had a conference call - myself, my husband, and our agency, and they proceeded to call DFACS for a few more details. When they called us back, they reported that DFACS was not going to be able to get these children today, and they might not be able to get them at all. Hearing the details of where these kids are living, my heart is just breaking as I think about them spending even one more night there.

  • Please pray for these 2 boys - that the Lord would protect them tonight, and that He would bring them out of their current situation and bring them to safety, wherever that may be.
  • Pray for their biological mother - that the Lord would begin to reveal Himself to her - to open her eyes and bring redemption.
  • Pray for my husband and I as we seek clarity in the midst of our overwhelming fears. Pray that we would be obedient and that the Lord would guide our steps and hold our hands.
We may get another phone call about these kids tomorrow, and we will have to give an answer at that time. We may never get another phone call about them again. We will keep you posted as best we can. Just pray with us if you will. Thank you.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
   and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
1 Peter 3:12

Monday, November 14, 2011

What We Miss About Emmy

  • dancing!
  • clapping!
  • waving...she had just learned to wave a few days before she left :)
  • that adorable laugh that blossomed during her time here
  • "da, da, da, da, da"
  • her new language she had just grasped with much more inflection as though she was trying to ask questions and say real sentences
  • the way she would whisper back to us when we whispered to her
  • that elated squeal that would surprise us from time to time!
  • her chipmunk sound that had just started to come out...always when she really wanted something...adorable :)
  • HUGE smiles when we got her out of her crib
  • the sound of the crib rattling violently - often our only indication that she was awake!
  • the way she pulled her little hands up to her face when she was falling asleep - from day one :)
  • her sweet whine as she was falling asleep - especially when we bounced her
  • watching her come out of her shell
  • her curiosity and intense study of things and people
  • her love for other children
  • her involuntary response to music :) She would instantly start nodding her head or moving those hips regardless of where she was, what she was doing, or how loud the music was
  • the strange sideways contortion she would always get in when she played on her play mat and couldn't yet roll over
  • tickling and giggling!
  • watching her play with Layla - her paws, her tail, her nose, feeding her from her high chair and laughing
  • Her unpredictable "Oh no!" hands - sometimes on the sides of her face, sometimes smooshing her nose, sometimes missing her head completely
  • Her captivation and gentleness with her stuffed animals and baby dolls
  • the way she was mesmerized by metal spoons at restaurants, and her kleptomania in the process :)
  • BATH TIME! Man...that girl could splash some water, and we just laughed and laughed!
  • her attraction to eyeglasses and jewelry
  • her love for books
  • chuckles when we would throw her in the air
  • hilarious faces when we were first introducing textured foods
  • that big lip that came out and gave plenty of warning before a major meltdown...poor thing!
  • Our sore muscles after holding her for extended periods of time... ;o)
Emmy, you were such a treasure in our home and in our lives. We have delighted in you and in the unique way that the Lord created you. We miss you terribly but will remember you always! We are so thankful that the Lord used you to reveal to us His care and sovereignty. We will pray fervently that there will come a day when we will be together once again in heaven - rejoicing over His amazing provision in your life and His faithfulness to our prayers and the prayers of so many who have loved you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Indescribable

Well, yesterday was the day that Emmy went to live with her permanent family. There were several teary moments on Wednesday as we packed and had a lot of "lasts"...last visit to church...last visit with Meme & Poppy...last Skype with Bebe...last meal time with our little family of four (including Layla who is very much a part of that time, cleaning up stray peas and Cheerios)...last prayer time before bed...last bath...last time to put her in her crib. She was a little sick, so we didn't put her in the nursery at church. Instead, she snuggled up with me and slept through Bible study...such a sweet time. Then, we came home and finished the final details of packing. For those of you who are curious, here is what went home with Emmy:


  • Suitcase (complements of a dear friend)
    • coat
    • maybe 4 or 5 outfits that always remind me of Emmy
    • her Hilton Head shirt from my parents, way too small now, but it's hers!
    • shoes
    • 2 metal spoons that she stole from restaurants while she was with us. If you spent any time at a restaurant with us, you know how magical the metal spoons were!
    • stuffed monkey, Henrietta the Hippo, Thumper, and Nala
    • DVD of her Blessing Service that came from her first foster family
    • 5 CDs with all of the photos we have of her
    • 2 of the only pacifiers she will take
  • Beach pail and shovel from our agency filled with goodies that they've given her along the way, including her beach towel with her name embroidered on it.
  • grocery bags with all of the food and formula we have from WIC this month, including the WIC folder they'll need in order to continue the program
  • 10 or so outfits on hangers, including an outfit from Bebe, a couple of dresses we had gotten for Christmas, and a birthday outfit (12/29/10!)
  • file folder with Emmy's medical information
  • Gift bag of TREASURES (which we spoke about in detail with Emmy's new family)
    • handmade knit sweater - made with a lot of time and love by Meme
    • handmade knit shawl from Emmy's 10-year-old church friend, Rachel
    • picture colored for her by her 6-year-old church friend, Olivia
    • Jesus Storybook Bible with Audio CDs
    • "What's in the Bible?" DVD
    • Her very own Bible with scripture highlighted throughout from dear friends who've been praying for her all across the country
    • Piggy Bank with a few coins from her Meme & Poppy. They brought it back from Colorado for her earlier this year.
    • A very special letter to Emmy's grandparents from my mom, Bebe
    • A special blessing for Emmy, written by my dear, dear friend, Terry - taken from Psalm 139

And then came Thursday. We woke up, loaded the car, dressed Emmy in her finest dress (the one that Meme and I made for her, of course!), and got on the road for our 1 hour journey to the family team meeting.

Here's where it's going to start getting difficult to describe. We walked in the room with a warm, exuberant welcome from Emmy's grandparents. They played with her for a good while in the beginning, very attentive to her and sweet to watch. Eventually, she started fussing, and I took her and got her to fall asleep in my arms again, where she stayed for a good portion of the meeting. There are a few specifics I would like to note.

First, Emmy's biological mother was on speakerphone since she was unable to be physically present in the meeting. Emmy's biological mother is not very well-loved by anyone I've spoken with. It's always broken my heart to hear people describe her to me. She seems to be a difficult person to love. That being said, when her daddy spoke with her, his tone was loving, patient, gentle, sweet. You could tell that even though she had taken him through the wringer for a long time, his heart broke for his daughter and he loved her. I got a little teary over that.

Second, when they asked Emmy's mom, who had not said much up until this point, if she had anything to say, she started to cry and said, "I just want to thank my daddy for taking care of my daughter and doing what I can't do right now." It was a poignant moment.

Third, Emmy's CASA was amazing. She asked all of the right questions. She had really done her homework. She was not partial to any one person in the room except for Emmy, and all the while, she exuded love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I will sorely miss her. The Lord really used her yesterday to provide clarity and to bring out truth for all to see.



Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation, who orders our steps and makes straight the paths before us, and thank you, Lord, for your Holy Spirit who gives us peace that surpasses understanding. It is nothing short of a miracle that my husband and I have smiles on our faces today, and that our hearts are even now beginning to prepare for the next addition to our family.

Thank you, friends, for praying, and for loving this precious girl with us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family Team Meeting Scheduled!

We just got word that the family team meeting is scheduled for this Thursday morning, November 10 at 9am. Unfortunately, my husband has a work commitment. Please pray that the calendar will shuffle and he will be able to be there with me and Emmy. What we hear is that Emmy will go home with her grandparents after the meeting. Continue to pray that everything will come into the light during the meeting and that final decisions made will be wise ones!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Emmy's Grandparents

Since I last updated everyone, we have had many more days of gear shifts and new developments. The basic gist is that it all led us to Thursday when we met Emmy's grandparents for the very first time.

Before we talk about our impressions during that first encounter, let me give a little background. Emmy had a weekend visit last weekend with her grandparents. She has a transporter who picks her up and takes her to her grandparent's house. As I have shared in previous posts, every time the transporter has picked Emmy up, Emmy has melted down. If you know Emmy, you know how out of character this is! We've always chalked it up to Emmy's overall struggle with the newness of this situation, but there may have actually been a bit more to it.

Last weekend was the worst ever, as Emmy clung to me for dear life each time I attempted to put her in the transporter's car seat. I finally took Emmy inside and was able to calm her down before putting her in the car seat, sending her on her way, (and crying like a baby once she was out of sight!) Shortly after Emmy returned home that Sunday, her grandparents called her CASA to report the same strange behavior on their end when giving Emmy to the transporter. On top of all of this, we had also discovered upon her return that Emmy's car seat had not been buckled! The plastic part was fastened, but the most important metal piece was wide open.

I write these things here for two reasons. First, I write this in order to encourage other foster moms who might be reading this to stay alert and examine closely the behavior and circumstances surrounding your transporters!! Especially our babies and children who can't yet speak up, we need to make sure that we watch carefully and take seriously their strange behavior. We never know what might be behind those responses. Second, I think it gives a wonderful insight into our first impression of Emmy's grandparents. Before we ever spoke to them in person, we heard that they had reported their concern about the transporter and their desire not to use her anymore. They even offered to pick Emmy up from our house, which is a solid hour from their house. What an amazing encouragement!!! They have had very little time with Emmy, but they have been getting to know her deeply, and they are in-tune with her enough to take note that this is not a typical Emmy response to strangers. Not only that, but they were bold and sacrificial in protecting Emmy, offering to go far out of their way to ensure her safety and security. I can't tell you how encouraging this was.

Needless to say, we didn't want them to have to drive a full hour to pick Emmy up, but we also didn't want to ever put her in a car with that transporter again. At the suggestion of our foster agency, we called the grandparents and had a truly amazing conversation. They spent several minutes on the phone individually thanking each of us for our care, concern, and investment in Emmy's life thus far. We were overwhelmed and tried over and over to give credit where credit is due - to a mighty heavenly father who compels us and equips us to do His work on this earth. In the end, arrangements were made for another weekend visit. We would meet on Thursday afternoon to transfer Emmy to them and pick her up again Sunday.

So...how did it go?? Was it awkward? Did we get any uncomfortable vibes? Were we sad to see them all together? No, no, no! Quite the opposite! They gave us a warm welcome...Emmy smiled from ear to ear! They spoke as if they were beginning to really know Emmy, and know her deeply! They were kind, joyful, young, vibrant, loving, gentle, and they were very excited to take Emmy to church with them for the first time on Sunday! We had peace like I cannot explain in words as we drove away, and the Lord has somehow brought me to a point today where I am rejoicing over the fact that Emmy might be in their family permanently!

Now, I can't help but look back in time and remember where our hearts were a couple of weeks ago. The faithfulness of God, and His care for us has been overwhelming. I am cautious as I walk through this situation and reflect on God's faithfulness, because I realize that the Lord is good and faithful regardless of how this situation may have turned out. I have seen foster parent friends walk through situations that were terribly unclear and seemingly impossible to endure. We were in a much more difficult place when Miss M left, and we are certain to be in more difficult places in the future. I am thankful, however, that in the beginning of our journey here, the Lord is painting us a clear picture of His provision and His sovereignty that we will be able to cling to in times that seem much less certain and less kind.

Thank you for your prayers thus far. It goes without saying that we have felt them and that we have seen the Lord respond to them over the past few weeks. Here's how you can pray going forward:

  • The Family Team Meeting should be scheduled any day, and there is still much clarification that needs to happen there regarding Emmy's permanent home. Pray that decisions would be made based on clear understanding of the situation at hand. At this point, the emotion of it all is going to be difficult to wade through. Pray that if hard decisions need to be made, that they will be made, and that my husband and I will exude grace in that time.
  • Continue to pray that we will have warning before Emmy permanently leaves us. We would like to have a day or two in order to collect her memories to send with her. We're working on it now, but we don't want to wrap things up prematurely.
  • Pray that the Family Team Meeting is scheduled at a time when my husband can attend. It will be during the workday, so pray that it won't interfere with any significant work obligations.
  • Continue to pray for us and for our extended families as we all grieve.
  • Emmy has a lot of dear friends, many of whom are young children. Pray for their hearts as they are saying goodbye to Emmy and trying to make sense of all of this. Pray that even this would lead them to a deeper understanding of the gospel. Pray that they would ask questions of us and of their parents that would provide opportunity to point to Christ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Things He Has Done

Wow...I can't post often enough to even keep everyone in the loop! Things are constantly changing over here, and we keep having to shift gears.

First, let me share with you how faithful the Lord has been to our prayers and your prayers on Emmy's behalf these past few days:

  • Pray for good memories to be made this weekend.

We had the best time this weekend! Emmy was her normal, adorable, easy-going self. I got to rock her to sleep Saturday night. She napped on my husband's chest for about half an hour Sunday. Such sweet, sweet moments. I had a great run and met my sweet baby girl and my amazing husband at the finish line. In many ways, it was a spiritual experience for me.

  • Pray for my extended family as they surely grieve with us.

My dad came in town for an impromptu visit with Emmy last weekend. My brother had planned to be in town this weekend, so he was able to see her as well. My mom came in town Sunday night and kept Emmy for me while I taught a class Monday morning. My husband's family lives in town and have all seen Emmy within the last few days. When my mom journeyed home yesterday, so called to tell me how much better she was feeling about Emmy. The time she had to play with her, hold her, and pray over her, really gave her a sense of peace that things were all going to turn out fine. As I reflect on all of this, I'm completely overwhelmed at the Lord's care and concern for our grief.


  • Pray for the Lord's strength to help me be at peace for Emmy's sake on Monday.
  • Pray for the lawyers and case workers who are working together to make this the best transition possible.
  • Pray for time to pack and collect memories to send with Emmy.

Well, this brings me to the most important update we have. Without divulging all of the details, let me just say that Emmy's lawyers and our agency case workers have really gone to bat for us and for Emmy. As of Friday, the plan was that we would have a Family Team Meeting sometime this week, possibly a couple of overnight visits for Emmy at her grandparents' house, and that Emmy wouldn't go to live with them until those things had been done. We were so pleased with this transition plan. Since then, we've spoken with Emmy's CASA, and Emmy's CASA called and got a very different story from Emmy's grandfather. We are anxious to see what will transpire at the Family Team Meeting, because the outcome could be quite different than anyone has anticipated - due to a terrible lack of communication from Emmy's case worker. Please continue to pray that the truth will prevail and that Emmy's best interest will be protected throughout this chaotic process.

  • Pray that we will find ways to make an eternal impact in Emmy's life over these next few days.

We've bought Emmy a Jesus Storybook Bible to send with her as well as this big girl English Standard Version Bible. Then, because it was free from the store, we went ahead and picked up this What's In the Bible DVD from Phil Vischer. (If you haven't seen these, they are so fun. Wish I could watch Emmy watch them one day when she's old enough!) We're hoping to have a going away party for her soon, but if that doesn't happen, we still have big plans for this Bible we'd like to send home with her. We'd like for everyone who knows or has been praying for Emmy to highlight scripture verses that they'd like Emmy to stumble upon as she is (we pray) reading her Bible as a young child/teenager/adult. If you'd like to participate, you can comment on the blog or e-mail me with a passage or passages that you'd like for me to highlight. I'll be so happy to highlight them for you. Otherwise, feel free to come by sometime or stop me if you see me around and highlight it yourself. I am so excited about how the Lord could use this to impact Emmy's future in our absence.

So...as you can see, the Lord has shown such care for us and for Emmy these past few days. I know that so much of this is thanks to prayer support like we have never seen before. Thank you for loving Emmy. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for lifting us up!

Emmy should return any moment now from her first overnight visit with her grandparents. She left yesterday at 1:30pm. I just got a call from the transporter and heard Emmy screaming in the background. My heart is just breaking. I cannot wait to hold that girl. Please pray that we'll have a nice, easy night and that Emmy will once again feel safe and secure. Pray, also, that her grandparents will have clarity in the direction they'd like to go.

No Family Team Meeting on the books yet. I'll let you know when that is scheduled. I'll keep everyone updated as often as I can, although it is getting rather tricky these days. To God be the glory...great things He has done!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weeping

"Jesus wept." - John 11:35

At this moment, I find no greater comfort in all of scripture than this passage.

Just a few weeks ago, a dear friend shared with me this devotion from Focus on the Family, and I have reflected on it over and over and over again since reading it the first time:

"In the final analysis, God does not answer the problem of unjust human suffering by explaining it. Instead, He enters into it. In the person of Jesus Christ He experiences what it is like to be unfairly accused, arrested, tried, condemned, beaten, reviled, spit upon and put to death. An innocent Man, He bears the penalty while Barabbas, a criminal and an assassin, goes free. He takes upon Himself the burden of our anguish and pain. He drinks the cup to its dregs without murmur or complaint. In so doing, He demonstrates His love for us and sends us this unmistakable message: the answer to the problem of suffering can't be discovered by means of theological rationalization. The answer to the problem is Jesus."

The sorrow and anguish that I'm feeling is not foreign to God. He has experienced this and more...all on account of my sin. Oh, the grace.

But, I digress...at 11:30am today, I received a voice mail from Emmy's case worker asking me to call her back. The fact that she didn't say anything in her message made me slightly nervous, so I braced myself and dialed the phone.

"Mrs. _________? Yeah...the [name] family's home study has come back approved, so we're looking to move Emmy as soon as possible. All they need to do is get a crib, and they said they're getting one today, so we'll probably move Emmy tomorrow."

...and then it started. Uncontrollable sobbing. Fortunately, by the time I talked to her, I had arrived at the church to teach a fitness class, so I ran upstairs to cry with dear friends in the children's ministry office (as I have done so often before). I hardly said anything on the phone. I just said "ok" a lot and that was that.

Later, she called back and said they were going to wait until Monday to move her, so as it stands right now, Emmy will be leaving us on Monday. I can hardly even put words together, but I wanted to let everyone know what's going on. This weekend will be filled with tears, packing, printing pictures, and trying to write down everything we can possibly remember to tell Emmy's new parents about her life thus far.

I'm not sure I've shared on here, but I have been training for a half marathon taking place this weekend. We planned for Emmy to stay with someone else Saturday night before my race on Sunday in a different town. We've reconsidered that, and Emmy will be staying with us this weekend after all. I cannot tell you how many references to perseverance have been made in my presence lately and about "running the race set before us" (Heb. 12:1). Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and on and on. I have chuckled from time to time as people have made parallels between between training for a race and living a life for Christ. It's all very real to me at this moment. I can hardly wait to get my feet on the pavement Sunday and run that race with every fiber of my being, as an act of worship, believing every step of the way that it is but a small thing compared to The race that lies before me every morning that I wake up...believing even more that the most important race I run is not run by my own strength or stamina, but by God who, by grace, gives me just what I need to endure.

I'll try to post more later when I'm a bit more coherent, but this will help you know how to pray:
  • Pray for good memories to be made this weekend.
  • Pray for the Lord's strength to help me be at peace for Emmy's sake on Monday.
  • Pray for my extended family as they surely grieve with us.
  • Pray for the lawyers and case workers who are working together to make this the best transition possible.
  • Pray for time to pack and collect memories to send with Emmy.
  • Pray that we will find ways to make an eternal impact in Emmy's life over these next few days.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;  
they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;  
they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,
but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable."
1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

His Living Word

Emmy had visitation again on Friday, and all reports were great again. Her grandparents even sent a note home this time! It said, with perfect spelling and grammar:

"Thank you for your letters. We really appreciate them. We really enjoy our time with Emmy. She truly is a joy to be with. Thank you so much for taking great care of her. If it is at all possible we would like to have the visit a little early on 10/28/11. We will notify Emmy's case worker of the time. May God bless you and your family."

Monday after the visit, I received a phone call from Emmy's case worker saying that her grandparents have, in fact, changed their minds about adoption. They signed the papers yesterday to move forward with adoption. Nothing is final yet, but the reality hit me like a ton of bricks that Emmy might leave us...soon. No matter how hard I try to keep things in perspective. No matter how diligent I am in conversation to reiterate that everything can change in an instant, guarding my heart is a difficult thing. While I knew this was a possibility, my heart secretly hoped it wasn't. Ultimately, my husband and I realize that this could be just the answer to prayer we were looking for. Sometimes, however, God's answers to our prayers are difficult to stomach.

I've always said that one benefit of foster parenting is that you face, daily, a reality that many parents don't realize they face daily as well - the reality that none of us is promised tomorrow with our children. Today and yesterday, we have enjoyed Emmy immensely - soaking up every laugh, every babble, every smile - knowing that we may not have as many ahead of us as we anticipated.

My husband and I have started reading a Psalm to Emmy each night before bed. I'll leave you with the Psalm we read Sunday night before we received this news on Monday.


Psalm 10

 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
   Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
   let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
   and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
   all his thoughts are, "There is no God."
His ways prosper at all times;
   your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
   as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, "I shall not be moved;
   throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity."
 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
   in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
   he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down,
   and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, "God has forgotten,
   he has hidden his face, he will never see it."

  Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
    forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God
   and say in his heart, "You will not call to account"?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
   that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
   you have been the helper of the fatherless.
 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
    call his wickedness to account till you find none.


  The LORD is king forever and ever;
   the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
   you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
   so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.


And in addition to that, here is a passage on which our pastor preached on Sunday. I have been repeating to myself this powerful notion all day. "I can [insert your own, personal, struggle] care for children as my own only to watch them walk away, because I know that one day, the Lord is creating a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more tears, no more injustice, no more fear, and no more orphans."

Isaiah 65:17-25



"For behold, I create new heavens
   and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
   or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
   in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
   and her people to be a gladness.
 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
   and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
   and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
   an infant who lives but a few days,
   or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
   and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
   they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
 They shall not build and another inhabit;
   they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
   and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
 They shall not labor in vain
    or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,
   and their descendants with them.
 Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
   the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
   and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
   in all my holy mountain,"
                 says the LORD.

What a mighty God we serve, and how thankful I am to be guided by His holy, living Word that meets me right where I am and pours out wisdom at every juncture. Pray for us in the coming days. Also, pray for our extended family who have fallen in love with Emmy as well. Pray for judges and lawyers. Pray for Emmy's grandparents. Pray for Emmy, as this could turn out to be a roller-coaster for her, since they are discussing the potential of offering overnight visits with her grandparents. Pray, more than anything else, that we would remain faithful to the gospel throughout this potentially difficult process, and that the Lord would be glorified through it all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Visitation

Emmy visited with her grandparents last Friday (September 30), and I can't believe I haven't updated the blog since then!! Here's how the day went:

My mother-in-law was kind enough to stay at our house on Thursday night so that I could take my husband in for knee surgery in the morning while she stayed home with little Emmy. We intended to go to bed early in preparation for our full Friday, but true to form, we didn't turn in until 11 or 12 at night.

At 4am, Emmy decided she would randomly wake up and cry for no reason. This never happens anymore, so I could think of no good reason other than teething pain. I tried to help her fall asleep for about an hour to no avail. She would be fine in my arms but cry when I put her down. This is not at all Emmy's typical behavior, so I knew something was up. She was sad or scared or uncomfortable and wanted a buddy. For the first time ever, I grabbed the nearest stuffed animal, her pink hippopotamus, put him in the crib with her, walked out, and never heard a peep...who knew?

At that point, it was 5am. My alarm was set to go off at 5:15. (Gee thanks, Emmy ;o) My husband and I got ready and got to the hospital at 6am. Surgery went well, and by 11am or so we were on our way home! We came home and relaxed while I called Emmy's case worker and transporter to try to figure out exactly what the timing of this visit was and where Emmy would be going. Emmy's grandparents are allotted 4 hours of visitation, but if they wanted to leave early, they could. Unfortunately, that meant that there was no clear answer about when she'd be coming home.

I packed her for the long haul - 2 meals, lots of toys, pacifier, etc. The transporter arrived at 2pm to pick her up. I combed her hair and dressed her in one of her most precious little dresses. I handed her over to the transporter (the same transporter who drove her to visits with her mom during the first 4 months of her life), and she looked petrified. If you know Emmy, you know that she is a really happy-go-lucky kid without so much as a hint of separation anxiety. As I shared in my last post, I really think this girl internalizes everything. She analyzes situations and she knows when things are not quite right. She kept looking at the transporter, looking at me, looking at the transporter, sticking her lip out, on and on until finally she started to really cry...and my heart just broke. I was able to soothe her a little bit, but ultimately I had to put her in her car seat and send her on her way...tears and all. Thank the Lord that He had prepared my heart, and I was able to rest in the knowledge that He was holding that baby in my absence.

My husband and I had a few hours to spend some quality time together sleep before Emmy came home. The transporter assured me 5 or 6 times today that she would call me as she was leaving to give me a 45-minute warning of when she would bring Emmy home. Counting on this, I started working on dinner around 6pm. I had chicken on the stove, green beans steaming, and sauce boiling when all of a sudden, but not surprisingly, my doorbell rang. There I was, food I couldn't abandon, a husband laid out on the couch, a dog running around the house who would certainly bolt out of the front door the second I opened it. I turned off the stove, put Layla outside, and finally got to the door, where I could hear Emmy screaming from her car seat.

I got Emmy, moved the car seat, got all of her stuff, and finally got her inside around 6:30. She usually eats at 6, but they had been on the road. I got some food in her, gave her a bottle, tried to play, but she wasn't having it, so I went to put her down. When I put her down, she screamed like crazy. I think she was hopelessly confused about what was going on in her little life. She snuggled with dad for a long while watching his oh-so-appropriate selection - Veggie Tales "Where's God When I'm Scared." I finally finished dinner. Around 8:30 or 9, Emmy finally let me put her in her crib peacefully, and we ate dinner.

The reports I have received from the transporter as well as the case worker are that Emmy's grandparents adored their time with Emmy. Grandfather got on the floor with her the second she arrived and didn't get up until it was time for her to go home. They marveled at how smart she was. We had also written a letter. I'll post that soon. We're always a little anxious to hear how our letters are received, but the transporter said they adored the letter and could not stop talking about it. We were so encouraged! We are still being told that they definitely do not want to adopt, but things could change any day.

Please pray this coming Friday as Emmy goes for her second visit with them.

  • Pray that her grandparents would continue to have clarity about whether or not they are the permanent family for Emmy. 
  • Pray that the Lord would continue to guard our hearts here as we miss her while she's away and as we walk this tight-rope thinking about the potential to adopt Emmy. 
  • Pray that logistics will go a bit more smoothly and that Emmy won't be quite so rattled this time. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's New??

Well, I'll let this video speak for itself. This is what's new at our house these days!

video


Things are getting more and more exciting around here by the minute! Within the last week or so, Emmy just decided it was time to start scooting around, sometimes legitimately crawling, feeding herself her own bottle, sitting up all on her own, going from sitting to crawling, mimicking a whole lot more of what we say and do, and much, much more! Life has been full over here, and we are just overjoyed to have this precious life unfolding before our eyes!!

In other news, Emmy also had an unexpected court date on Monday at which we found out that she will begin visiting with her maternal grandparents every other week for 2 hours. Most likely, these visits will be in the evening, because of work schedules. Are you ready for this visitation schedule? They will most likely pick Emmy up at our house around 5pm, she'll have visitation from 6pm-8pm, and they'll bring her home at 9pm. Could any idea be worse than this?? Haha...I'm not so sure! But it's potentially the only thing that will work out. We'll see! All-in-all, we're trying to look at the positives. After speaking with everyone involved with the case, I do think that these visits will be a good thing for both Emmy and her grandparents. My husband and I will so enjoy any opportunity we have to be Christ's hands and feet for them. AND...looks like we'll have a nice date night to look forward to every other week! Please pray that the Lord's hand is on these visitation times.

  • Pray that my husband and I will communicate well with these people, and that they would be comforted to know that Emmy is being loved and well cared for. 
  • Pray that Emmy would be a trooper as usual and not too rattled by these potential late-night visits. 
  • Also, if you know Emmy, you know that she process situations very deeply. She usually does great in new situations, but she very seriously examines things before she lets loose. Looking back on our difficult first weeks together, I think she was very aware and troubled by the circumstances surrounding her transfer to our home. She easily picked up on the emotion circling around her. I just think she internalizes things deeply, and I would appreciate your prayers for her as she makes sense of whatever emotion her grandparents bring to the table. Pray that the Lord would give her a spirit of peace no matter how strange this situation might feel to her at first. (I hope that makes sense to anyone other than me!)
  • Pray that these visits will provide clarity for Emmy's grandparents regarding their own potential for adoption. Pray that they would be moved toward a firm decision and would have peace in that decision.
  • Pray that my husband and I would take full advantage of these hours we will have every other week to invest in each other. Pray that we will not squander those moments - that we would use those times to grow closer together and that the Lord would use that time to bring us closer to a clear decision about what our future holds with Emmy.