Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter Fun

Always maintain a kind of Summer, even in the middle of Winter. - Thoreau



















Last weekend it actually got above 20 degrees, so we headed to the park for some fun! Everyone was getting a bit cagey, and whiney, and hormonal (the list goes on and on), so it was great to get out. To me, February is the worst month in Ohio, so we are soaking up the sunshine while we can. Happy last day of January!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tagged

I've been tagged. The topic? Post seven random facts about myself.

1. I used to event horses when I was in junior high and high school. I owned two.

2. When I was younger, I wanted to marry a pig farmer. I married a basketball coach instead. He dislikes pigs.

3. I dislike elevators. I got stuck in one three years ago, and have not gotten in one since (except to bring Kate home from the hospital). I always take the stairs. Always. Even when I was in labor and delivery was on the eighth floor. Even when my husband surprised me with a night at a hotel in the city....with a room on the seventeenth floor. Silly Boss. He thought I'd make an exception.

4. I snore when I sleep. Or so I'm told.

5. I like peanut butter and crunchy cheeto sandwiches.

6. I want six kids. Boss wants three. I'm fighting for four.

7. I traveled to Australia when I was thirteen years old. By myself. To visit my friend, Sarah. What were my parents thinking? People were so trusting back then. The trip was awesome!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Parable of the Big Red Barn

I have always loved the idea of living in the country. When I was a young girl, I loved to visit my grandparents who lived in Mexia, Texas. Small town, farm country. I loved that their mailbox was at the front of their yard, and I loved that it was an actual black metal mailbox! Not a huge silver box at the front of the neighborhood. At Granny's, the mailman actually walked from house to house. Imagine that! I loved the pecan trees that lined their yard, that people drove around in pickup trucks, and that over all, life just seemed simpler. I decided at a young age that country life was for me. So, you can imagine my delight when we drove out to interview at Mid Western and found that it sat on one hundred plus acres, surrounded by corn fields, smack in the middle of nowhere. My dream of living in the country was going to come true.

My favorite thing about the country has been the view. Now that I am responsible for feeding eight peoplethree meals a day, every single day, a large majority of my time is spent in the kitchen. There are many dishes to be washed! Thankfully, I have triple sinks, and above them sits a huge picture window with the most gorgeous view of the corn fields across the way. I never would have believed I could have found corn fields gorgeous, but I did. I loved to see the sunlight pouring over the stalks, turning them brilliant shades of gold. I loved peering out at the clear skies and all of the stars at night. I loved my view.

Therefore, you can imagine my disappointment when they started harvesting the corn last fall. I was sad they were taking away my view. I was worried that without the corn, it would simply be a huge, empty field. Each day the workers would harvest a bit more, and a bit more of my view would slip away. One Sunday morning we were leaving for church, and I knew that by the time we returned, all of the corn would be gone. My view would never be the same. I braced myself to see a huge, empty field as we returned home to our property. But look what I found instead!

















A beautiful big red barn! The corn had grown so high, that I never even knew this barn existed.

Isn't that the way it is with life? We get so comfortable with what we know, and we are afraid for things to change. We simply cannot imagine that our Heavenly Father might have something even more beautiful waiting for us, just beyond our view. The corn fields were gorgeous, but the barn is exquisite! What a beautiful reminder to not get so comfortable in life that we miss the bigger blessings just around the corner. Because you never know. Beyond the corn fields might be an exquisite big red barn! Waiting just for you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Quotes For My Children

Among the world's most treasured gifts, among its most precious pearls, God smiles upon the earth, and gives us little girls.





















And For Baby Z Number Three - We're Waiting For You!

Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute, you didn't grow under my heart, But in it!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prayers Please

My sweet Grandpa is 88 years old, and last night my family got a call that he had gone missing with my cousins ten year old daughter, Breanna. They left for church last night at 6:30 pm, but never arrived. The church is only two miles from Grandpa's house, and no accidents were reported, so our family had no idea where they were. An APB was put out, but it wasn't until this morning (twelve hours later) that they were found about thirty minutes from Grandpa's home. They were safe and unharmed, thank goodness! However, Grandpa had no idea where he was or how he got there. So scary! He had been driving for 12 hours straight and had basically gone nowhere. Breanna was frightened to see this change in Grandpa. While we are thankful that everything is okay, please pray for my family as we enter this new stage with Grandpa. Some decisions will have to be made, and we live so far away (Grandpa lives in Texas). Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Bump in the Adoption Road

I knew the road to adoption would be a long and bumpy journey, but I never expected to encounter a bump during the very first month. Much less the first week! The bump came when I began to get things in place for a home study. The agency we are looking at using to facilitate our adoption is not in our state, so I was told that I needed to find a licensed agency in the state of Ohio to conduct our home study. After the home study was complete, the results could then be mailed to our adoption agency. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong!

I started with calling some county caseworkers that I work with for my job, and was told that the county was required to do my home study if I wanted one, but that if I was not interested in adopting a child from that same county, then I would be at the bottom of the list (meaning that it could take months to get to me). There is so much waiting that happens during the adoption process, and I didn't want to have to wait to get the paperwork going, too Next, I begged my boss to allow Mid Western's adoption caseworker to do my home study, but was told that was a conflict of interest. I understand, but you can't blame me for trying. As a last option, I began calling private agencies here in Ohio to see if one of them would do our home study. The problem with a private agency, was that nobody could understand what we do for a living and nobody liked to hear that we had teenagers with behavior problems in our home. They all told me to mail in the application (and fee!,) and then they would see if they could complete the home study for our family. However, I didn't want to send in the money if it did not even sound promising on the phone. I was beginning to worry that the road to this adoption was closed before we even got started.

Then, last Thursday, the road smoothed out a bit. The counselor who sees the teens in my care came to campus for her weekly sessions. It turns out she is an adoptive mom four times over! She gave me the name of the agency who did all four of her home studies, and she even made a personal call to tell the caseworker she worked with about our living situation, and she verified with that agency that the girls in my care would not pose a threat to an infant being brought into our home. Insert huge sigh of relief and answered prayer.

I am now waiting for the caseworker of that agency to call me back and tell me exactly what would be involved with a home study like ours, and she should get back to me this week. They will have to interview the girls in my care (which might be scary!), and I will have to pay a home study addendum fee for every girl that comes and goes during this entire process (which could add up!), but at least she is willing to work with us. She said that even though our case is more complicated, it is definitely doable! So, hopefully we can get started with the process next week. I finally feel as though we are getting somewhere. I didn't realize that getting everything organized in the beginning can be a full time job! But it is so worth it. We know there is a baby out there that is meant to be a part of our family.

We have not decided fully on whether we will choose domestic or international adoption, but to be honest, right now my heart is drawn to domestic. I don't know why, but it just is. However, I am open to wherever God leads us! We are hanging in there. This is just the beginning. I can already tell that this whole process is going to grow my patience in a mighty way! While I could talk about adoption every single day, I plan on doing a couple of posts each month to let you know how things are progressing. I am still hopeful that we could be holding our tiny bundle by the end of the year!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What We Do and Why We Do It

I don't believe I have ever done an actual post on this subject, so here goes! If you have known me for any amount of time, or have been reading my blog for even a month, then you must have noticed some random pictures of teenagers thrown into posts here and there. (For privacy reasons, those pictures have been removed.) And you must have been thinking, she is too young to be their mother! Who are those kids? The simple answer is that those kids are a pain in my neck and a piece of my heart. But let me start with how those kids became a part of my life.

When I was in college, for a short while I was part of a campus ministry called Aggies For Christ. Over school breaks, groups of Aggies would head out to children's homes to do week long mission trips. I loved going on those trips! They remain some of my favorite college memories. On one particular trip to Tipton Children's Home in Oklahoma, I got to know the houseparents that I was staying with, and the idea to houseparent started growing in my heart.

Fast forward three years. Boss and I had only been married for two years, we had already moved two different times, and Boss was working on his second career. He was in retail when we married, and after a year of never seeing one another and our first baby on the way, Boss decided to get his emergency teachers certification and jump into the more family friendly world of education. Boss was an excellent teacher, but he was unhappy in the particular work environment he currently found himself in, so we were once more searching for our calling in this life. I timidly broached the subject of houseparenting, and surprisingly Boss jumped on board. We prayed about the idea, and eventually wound up applying at a children's home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We served there for a year and a half.

There were many great things about our time in Albuquerque. Boss did not work outside of the home, so for eighteen months, our little family spent a lot of time together! That was the very best part. We made wonderful friendships with the other houseparents we served with, and we able to grow as a family during that time. While there, we had a total of 15 children walk through our doors. Some of them were there because their parents were ill. Others were there because their parents were in prison. And sadly, some kids were there because their parents were simply too busy with their own lives and relationships to take care of them. I am not sure we truly changed the lives of any of the kids we served during that time, but we did clothe them, feed them, show them what a healthy family was supposed to look like, and most importantly, we were able to introduce them to the love of Jesus. Seeds were planted, and I am trusting that the Father will continue to work in their lives. It was a wonderful time in our lives, however, things started to change in the staffing at ACCH, and for many reasons we decided it was time to move on.

This picture is of Boss and another house dad with some of the brothers that were in our care.
















In February of 2007, we moved our family to Ohio, so that we could be close to family. I knew that my parents would follow, and I wanted my children to grow up with their cousins, and seasons, and all that Ohio had to offer. I love living here, and I am so glad that we made this choice. For our first six months here, Boss was back in retail, and his frustrations of working for the world came back stronger than ever. I, too, was struggling. I loved raising my daughters, but I missed my days of working at the children's home. However, our family was tired of moving, and we wanted to find a place to belong. We began praying earnestly that God would lead us home. In August of 2007, a friend from church told us about a children's home 45 minutes from where we were currently living, so we decided to interview. On the day that we interviewed, the Christian school on campus also offered Boss the position of Athletic Director at the school there. His dream job. I have only seen my husband cry five times in almost five years of marriage. The fifth time he cried was the day we accepted the position at Mid Western Children's Home. It seemed that every choice we had made in our marriage had led up to this opportunity. We felt so blessed, and we knew that God was answeing our prayers.

So, here we are. We live in a seven bedroom, four bathroom home on one hundred plus acres. My girls love growing up in the country, and my husband loves his role as Athletic Director. As for me, I am loving being a mama. My family is just like any other family, only at this time we have four teenage girls who are living with us. It is not always easy, and there are often times that my tiny daughters hear things I wish they did not have to hear. However, my daughters also have compassion and understanding that is beyond their years, because of the girls that live with us. My daughters think that all families are made up of different races, and they are learning daily about making good choices. I am so proud of who my children are becoming.

The girls I work with are very special young ladies. I learn something from each one of them, and I hope that they learn something from me. As I stated earlier, they are often a pain in my neck, but they also each hold a piece of my heart. In less than five years of marriage, Boss and I have had exactly 20 kids walk through our doors (not counting our own two), and we are forever changed because of each one. I am not sure how long we will continue to do this work, but I hope it is for a very long time.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Birthday





















Today is Boss' birthday, and I want him to know how much his girls love and appreciate him! Last year, turning thirty was a bit hard for him, so I hope that this birthday is a bit easier! Boss, thank you for all that you are and all that you do. I hope your day is a special one. I love you to moons on sticks and back again! Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Journey Begins















On January 1st, 2008, Boss and I began what will be one of the most important journeys in our lifetime. The journey to our third child! And while I am not carrying a child inside of my womb, our entire family is carrying this child in their hearts. It is the most amazing feeling!

I am not sure when my desire to adopt began, but I believe that it has been growing in my heart for a very long time. I have always loved Lifetime movies, and the ones about adoption were always my favorite. When I was in high school,l I decided I wanted to be an adoption caseworker when I grew up. And while I am not an adoption caseworker at this point in my life, I do work with adopted children every day, and beginning this journey to my own child is like nothing I have ever experienced before!

Boss honestly says that he never really thought much about adoption until he married me. He also never thought he would be a houseparent, and look how AWESOME he is at it now! I think his dream of adoption grew very slowly, but nevertheless he is as ready as I am to hold our baby! I feel so blessed to have a Godly husband who desires the same type of family life that I have always dreamed of.

We talked about adoption shortly after we had Emma, and we even went to a couple of adoption fairs, but at that point in our live,s I was either too young or we did not have the financial means to adopt a child. So we patiently began waiting until the time was right. We tried again to start the adoption process after Emma turned one, but the day we were going to mail in our application was the day we found out that Kate was on her way. So we decided to enjoy the two miracles God had given us, and the subject of adoption went on hold again.

Yet here we are a year and a half later, and the time finally feels right. We began talking seriously about adoption and researching agencies a few months ago, but I was waiting for Boss to take the lead. He did this in a very romantic way! We had been talking about trading in our two cars for a 12 passenger van, and on the night we were driving our new van home he said, You know what this means, don't you? The time is right. Now you can fill this van full of babies! Okay, he didn't really say we could fill it full of babies, but he did say we could start the process for number three. I'm telling you...it was better than a proposal! He just asked that we wait until the first of the year. So, I filled out our basic information form and left it on my desk until after New Years Eve.Then bright and early on January 1st, I marched over and faxed in our very first adoption form to our agency of choice! I smiled all the way to the fax machine! Since then we have found an agency to do our home study and we are being mailed the actual application to begin the program.

Adoption can be quite a lengthy process, and I know we have only just begun, but I am already thinking of our new little one daily. At this point we don't care if our baby is a boy or girl, or if he or she is red, yellow, black, or white. Emma wants rainbow! We are completely open to whatever baby God has for our family! Though this journey will be a long one and I am sure we will encounter many bumps along the way, I am positive that when we hold that little miracle in our arms it will all be worth it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Holidays Are Over

























The holidays are over and we are back to our regular school and work schedules. The Christmas decorations are packed away, the sweets are almost gone, and I am trying desperately to unspoil my children after a month of too many presents! Life is good. We enjoyed having my brother and his wife visit from Texas, and these last few pictures are from things we did during their visit. We had several game nights, went to the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights, and had a smashing New Years Eve party. We had a great time, but this mama is ready to settle down and catch her breath!

Holiday Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Holidays! The holiday season has come to an end, and we hope that you are enjoying the beginning of a brand new year! This year was a first for us, as we got to celebrate with ALL of our immidiate family members (on both sides!), and a good time was had by all. Our girls are growing and changing every day and 2007 was full of wonderful moments that we will remember for years to come.

In January, we took a trip to Colorado with Kendra's family, where we enjoyed many wintery outdoor activities. We loved every minute of it, and that is a good thing, because we had no idea that it would be our last vacation for a very long time!

In February, we loaded up a U-Haul (again). This time, we left the children's home in Albuquerque and headed for Miamisburg, Ohio, where Boss had accepted a management position with Golf Galaxy. Little did we know that this would be his first of three new jobs this year! Due to financial reasons, Boss left Golf Galaxy after the first month and began working as a manager for Lady Foot Locker. While Foot Locker paid the bills, Boss was unhappy, and for the next five months we prayed fervently that the Lord would lead him to a better career path. While times were definitely hard during those months, there were some good times, too!

At the end of June we celebrated Emma's third and Kate's first birthday. We had a JoJo's circus party and they both had a wonderful time. I can't believe how big my babies are getting!

In August, our prayers were answered. We heard through the grapevine at church that Village Christian School was looking to hire a PE teacher. Boss really wanted to interview, but we knew private schools did not pay enough to support our family. So, we prayed about it, and decided that Boss should at least go interview. During the interview, after talking with him and looking at his resume, the administrator of the school offered Boss the PE position, AS WELL AS the position of Athletic Director....Boss' dream job! Boss really wanted the job, but we were still unsure of the financial aspects. A few days later, we were told there were also positions open for houseparents at the children's home under the same umbrella as the school, and everything fell into place after that! September first, we loaded up another U-Haul and moved out to begin another new chapter in our lives at the children's home in Pleasant Plain.

Things did not go the way that we planned this year, but many frusterated tears and prayers later, they have turned out better than we could have ever imagined. We have a cozy home in the country and Boss loves every minute of his job. Emma is a very smart and beautiful three and a half year old who loves ballet and Dora the Explorer. She will be starting pre school this year! Kate is an ornery, yet adorable, eighteen month old who keeps our family laughing. I am learning what it means to be the keeper of the home, and I am actually enjoying myself! I enjoy working with the foster girls in our care, and I have found great purpose in our work here. God is good and we are very thankful for the lessons we have learned along the way! May God bless each of you in 2008. Thank you for sharing in our journey!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, Friends. I hope you ended 2007 on a good note, and are ready to begin 2008! At our home, we are ready for this new year and fresh start. We are excited about many things (to be shared in a later post) and are thankful for the wonderful year that we had.  Last night, my parents and my brother and his wife came over to celebrate New Years Eve. The girls prepared a feast in the kitchen, while the boys watched the children and the television screen. After a delicious dinner, we played games and talked. We had our traditional New Years ice cream sundaes (a tradition started in my mom's family when she was a girl), and at midnight we toasted with sparkling punch. My dad read a toast that he wrote (shared below). He included all of the foster girls who live our my house, as well as my family, so you might not recognize some of the names, but it was funny and we had a great time. Blessings to you in 2008!

A Farewell to 2007 and Booyah to 2008!

Twas New Year’s Eve and in a corner of the house,
Miss Kendra was hugging Mr. Ben, her main squeeze and spouse.
And April was screaming loudly for she’d just seen a mouse.
When all of a sudden they heard such a clatter,
Da had fallen off the roof and landed with a splatter.

Kat was sitting in the living room all sad and alone,
Wishing her boyfriend would call her on the telephone.
Grammy was in the kitchen working a crossword puzzle,
While Sarah was busy repairing Grace’s Xmas muzzle.

Emma was playing Barbie’s and talking up a storm,
While Kate was break-dancing, which seemed quite the norm.
Justin and Claudia were having some sort of medical discussion,
While Claire was wondering how to say “Happy New Year” . . . in classical Russian.

Yes, it was quite a year for the E’s and the Z’s,
We all moved from Albuquerque, which wasn’t a breeze.
And dear Claudia who had her appendix removed,
But not by Justin, who was in his 3rd year of Medical School.

Ben started new jobs, 1 . . . 2 . . . and . . . 3,
He likes Village Christian and is their brand new A. D.
Emma took ballet, and Kate woke up at 4:00,
While Franki lived in the basement and whined at the door.

Kendra took up quilting and knitting, but only longed for her warm bed,
But, had four different girl’s schedules to deal with instead.

Now the hour has come, it’s no longer New Year’s Eve,
It’s New Year’s Day, and our hosts wish we would leave.
So we bid you adieu, the party was great,
Sayonara 2007 . . . Bienvenidos 2008!