Sunday, May 29, 2011

Auction Coming Soon!

Team Chase 4 and Counting

Our Adoption Auction begins this Friday.  Please keep this fundraiser in your prayers this week and please help us spread the word!

There are so many amazing items that have been donated to the auction and we really need it to be successful to financially help us bring our little one(s) home.  So, if you know ANYONE who would be willing to support our adoption by bidding on items from our auction, please let them know to check here Friday, June 3rd to Friday, June 10th.

Thanks, friends, for your prayers and support!

A Week of Changes

One week ago today, my life was very different.  So many things have happened around me that, to be honest, I am having a hard time processing everything.  So, this post is really just a journal...a way for me to begin to process all of the events of the last week.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
It started out as an ordinary Sunday, really.  The kids and I went to church and then to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese while Trevor finished building Camden's bunk bed.  I commented to the other mommies that the weekend had felt very busy, yet unproductive.  We got home around 4:00 to prepare for the other members of our home group to come over so that we could discuss the fourth chapter of David Platt's Radical.  That conversation never took place. 
Four of the six families in our home group met at our house at 5:00.  The weather was questionable and we kept the t.v. on while the kids went downstairs with the sitter to watch a movie.  It was probably about 5:30 when we decided we all needed to head down to the basement {well, the moms headed downstairs while the dads stayed up and watched the weather on the t.v.}.  It got pretty eerie outside and then it was a little better, so we headed back upstairs.  At that time, we did not realize the extent of damage that had taken place just south of us.  The cell service on all eight of our phones was sketchy at best, but when we could get a call or text, we all had concerned parents, siblings, and friends asking if we were ok.  Some of them were from other states watching coverage we hadn't even seen. 
We quickly figured out that we could get on where a storm chaser was just blocks away from St. John's hospital.  That was our first glimpse into images that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.  We all frantically tried to reach our loved ones, turning to facebook since our phones were basically worthless.  One of the families in our home group was concerned about their house since we were hearing reports that much of Joplin had been leveled and they live in the middle of the city.  Everyone was on their phones posting on facebook to try to find out if any of their Joplin-dwelling friends had been hurt or worse.
Joplin's graduation had been held that afternoon and it occurred to me that my cousin would have been there.  Had she been hurt?  Had my grandma {who lives in Joplin and whose house sustained damage} been at home?  Was she at my cousins graduation party?  Who was I not thinking of?  Was everyone safe?  There were so many questions and as we watched the images of a demolished hospital, a street of sticks where there used to be homes, and cars resting upside down, crumpled and destroyed from debris, I felt this strange feeling.  Shock, maybe, horror, maybe, disbelief, maybe.  A mix of emotions came over me and as our friends left our house to assess the damage and make sure that all their loved ones were safe, I thanked God that we were alive and well, that we had been spared, and asked for His protection and comfort for the people who had been so tragically effected by this horrible act of nature.
Once all our family and friends had been accounted for, we went to bed, knowing that our lives would be forever changed and that when we woke up, there would be so much work ahead.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011
I woke up hoping that what I'd seen the day before was all a bad dream and realized quickly that it was not.  We listened to the radio as we got ready for work {like we always do}, but the airwaves were much different than normal.  Uplifting songs had been replaced with frantic voices, reporting on the devastation, taking phone calls from some people looking for missing loved ones and others ready to spring into action to find out what they could do for those effected by the storm.
I was sad that I was headed to work, sure that there was somewhere I could be used more than as a counselor at the Junior High.  I quickly realized, though, that Carl Junction Junior High was exactly where I was needed.  Many students were effected by the storm and I began to see one student after the next after the next in my office, trying to process what had just happened.  Some lost their homes since our school district runs all the way down the west side of Joplin.  Many were in stores that suffered damage or were visiting friends or family in the heart of the tornado when it hit.  Miraculously, none of our 526 students in 7th and 8th grade were injured, but many of them had family or friends who lost everything and a few lost family members.
To top it off, more severe weather was in our forecast and we were on edge.  Around 8:30 a.m., our central office called for us to take shelter, so we took our place in the hall, waiting for another disaster that{fortunately} didn't happen.  Towards the end of the school day, it was looking bad again, so we held the students an additional 15 minutes in hopes that it would pass.  Before that round, I'd had enough and went to get Camden and bring him to the school with me.  I felt he was safer at the Junior High than at his pre-school.

I also got some sad news from one of our CHI adoptive buddies.  She and her husband had just accepted a referral for a precious 3 year old boy a couple of weeks ago.  Well, they received a phone call from their adoption consultant who informed them that there was an issue with their little guy's paperwork and he was no longer available for adoption.  I cannot imagine their heartbreak!  I'm definitely praying for them and this situation has really weighed heavily on my heart.

I came home mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Tuesday at school held more of the same {minus the extreme weather}.  Lots of processing and stories.

That evening, Melia had an awards night and got her Kindergarten diploma.  It was so precious, but because of the threat of *more* severe weather, we were all on edge and Mrs. Schmidt kept the program shorter than normal.  The kids didn't really seem to mind, though! :)

Melia with Mrs. Schmidt

Receiving her "diploma"

Bailey, Melia, Jaylin, and Ashlyn

Melia and Hannah
After the "ceremony", we got home and got the kids in bed in just enough time for them to fall asleep so we could yank them out of bed and rush them downstairs as the tornado sirens wailed down the street.  We quickly pulled a mattress over to the storage area and surveyed the area.  After seeing the mass destruction in Joplin, we weren't taking any chances.  We noticed that we were too close to the hot water heater, so we quickly shifted some things around so we were next to the interior wall.  We were there for about an hour before we decided it was safe to head back to bed.

Oh, yeah, and we moved up on our waiting list!  We are now number 19 {with six of those asking for siblings only and twelve asking for a single child}.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
After eight hours of more stories and counseling, I needed some therapy for myself.  I had my parents watch the kids after school and I headed over to our church, which had been turned into a major distribution center.  My therapy came in the form of toothbrushes and toothpaste.  I spent three hours organizing these commodities getting them ready for distribution while people walked through and shopped in the halls of the church. 

Though I had come to terms with the fact that I was right where I needed to be at work each day {without our staff, the 500+ students' parents would not have been able to go into the community and help with the mass destruction}, this hands-on task was exactly what I needed to feel like I was doing a small part of the relief effort.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011
The stories began to get more personal on this day.  Bodies were being identified and stories were being told of their lives {and deaths}.  It was hard to hear all of it.  One of my students in foster care had not heard from his estranged birth mother.  He knew he wasn't allowed to talk with her, but was struggling not getting to hear her voice. 

My therapy this time came in the form of baking.  I needed to prepare meals for my family, meals for my co-worker who had just left for MD Anderson to find out what to do about her newly-discovered cancer, and baked goods for the workers at church.  So, I baked.

Friday, May 27th, 2011
With all the craziness of the week, I hadn't thought much about Friday until it was here.  Friday was a day filled with a lot of lasts:
Melia's last day of Kindergarten

Camden's last day at the Learning Center 

My parents' last day as teachers
{They are now RETIREES!} 

My last day as a Junior High school counselor
{please ignore Melia's chocolaty smile!} 

Nana's last day to walk Melia to school 

Yes, a lot of lasts.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011
I finally saw it.  The destruction that I'd been watching virtually non-stop on t.v. became a reality in my mind when we drove into Joplin down two of the major streets that were devastated by the tornado almost a week prior.  We went to get our little friend, Clara, so that her parents could work kid-free on their damaged home, so this was the route we took.  The kids didn't know what to think, and, quite frankly, neither did I.  Melia just kept saying "OH MY!" and, honestly, that's about all I can say, too.

Sunday, May 29th, 2011
We had church this morning.  I had the opportunity to serve in Toddler Town leading singing with the precious gifts God gives us in the form of Toddlers.  We then took our friends, Kinley and Hunter, home with us so their parents could go to the memorial service that was lead by President Obama, Governor Nixon, and three local pastors {including our pastor, Randy Garris!!}.  On our way home, we stopped across the street from the airport and saw this fly in:

Air Force One!

Kinley, Camden, Hunter, and Melia wait for the President's plane to land

We then had the opportunity to fellowship with our home group as a "going away" thing for our friends who are preparing to go teach in Korea.  One more good bye for the week.

Whew!  Lots to process.  A week of lots of downs and a few ups.  But, we will get through it.  I will process and move on.  We have so much to be thankful for!

Praising Him in the storm,


Monday, May 23, 2011

You're All My Heart Needs Original Matted Art

“You’re all my heart needs!”
Large Original Pencil drawing with Mat
Depicts a cry for more in our lives and to draw closer to God

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Good vs. Evil Print


Small Print of Painting
“Good vs. Evil”
Signed by the Artist

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Out of the Pit Original Matted Art

Large Original Pencil Drawing with Mat 
"Out of the pit”
Represents how a person overcomes many obstacles in life with God

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Wake Up Matted Print

Large Print of Painting with Mat
"Wake Up"
Signed by the Artist

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Auction Postponed

Hi, friends.

Due to the devastation in our community, I am postponing our Summer Adoption Auction one week.  I will definitely need help spreading the word...I have some {like 85!} amazing donations, but I feel like my efforts this week could be better spent elsewhere.  Here is my new button:

Team Chase 4 and Counting


Yesterday in Joplin, Missouri:

20,000 more people had electricity

People went to work at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, St. John's Hospital, IHOP, Chic-Fil-A, Academy Sports, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, Payless Shoes, McAllisters, Walgreens

Teachers and students planned to go to school for two more weeks to finish the school year

People were scared {but not terrified} about tornados

5,000 more people had damage-free homes

People were not clamoring for missing relatives

There was no need for the help of FEMA or the National Guard

116 more people were alive

Our community is shocked and devastated at the sense of loss we are feeling after an EF4 tornado ripped through the heart of the town, destroying everything in its path with its 198 mile an hour winds.

We are fine, many are not.

Please pray for our community.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Just Being Real

Last night I got a rare Girls' Night with some of my best girlfriends in the whole world!  God has placed so many amazing women in my life...such a blessing!!

Anyway, while we were talking about some of the things God has taught me through this adoption process, one of them asked me if I'd written them down.  If you know me at all, you know that while I mean well and strive to get things done in a ridiculously organized fashion, when it comes to "journaling," I come up short every time!  So, I decided I needed to take some time to just share what's been going on in my heart.

First of all, let me just say that I do NOT want this to be a discouraging post.  This adoption journey is one that God has given us as an opportunity to grow and stretch beyond what we would have thought possible even a year and a half ago when we really began to pursue it.  We have learned so much, and that's what I want to share here.

What I've learned the last 15 months:

1. Patience
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
~Psalm 40:1
 This is an obvious one.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that when we embarked on this journey, it was going to be a huge test of patience.  We've learned patience in many different times in our lives...waiting to graduate high school, college, college, and college again, waiting to get married, waiting to get pregnant, waiting to have our babies {out of my belly}, waiting to hear about a job, and then in this journey waiting on paperwork, waiting on approvals, waiting for our referral.  Yes, the waiting on various things has certainly taught us patience.  Could I use more?  Umm, probably....

2. Reliance on God.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
~Psalm 59:17
  I feel like a pretty fortunate person.  I am surrounded by supportive people, have a great family, an awesome church, a job I love, no major health issues.  In many ways, things have sort of "fallen into place" easily and I really think, looking back on the last 31 years, that I have not had any situations that I have felt like I had full reliance on God.  YIKES!  That's really a scary thing to say {type} out loud!  But, it's true...I'm just striving to be transparent here. 
Now, don't get me wrong; in every situation I have sought His guidance and would like to think that I have listened and been obedient to His voice.  But to be in this situation where I have to totally trust God to not only give us the children that He has for our family in His timing and to trust that they are in His hands while they cannot be in THAT is reliance!

3. It's Not About Me. 
All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
~2 Thessalonians 1:5

 I once read a book by Max Lucado with this title and thought "what a nice book", a good reminder that the maker of Heaven and the Earth is WAY bigger than me.  I had no idea what an impact that book {that idea} would have on me several years later as we embarked on a journey to complete our family by adopting kids from across the globe.  Because the truth is, nothing is about me.  It's all about Him and furthering His kingdom and using the people, abilities, opportunities and talents that He gives us to do so!  WOW!  That concept is a LOT to take in and gives me a totally different perception of life as I know it. 
But, you know, with 147 Million orphans,'s not about me, is it?!

4. The Power of Prayer. 
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you   ~Matthew 7:6-8
This truth has never been more evident to me than it has been on this journey.  It is amazing to me the amount of times that I have really felt down about finances {an incredible stressor in adoption} and someone will randomly hand us a check for a couple of hundred dollars from their garage sale or I'll reach in my purse and find an envelope with $50 marked with the words "Adoption Fund" with no indication of who it's from.  And, it's not just been about money. 
The last few weeks have been hard; very hard!  Emotionally, I have been drained.  I wait for a phone call telling us that our referral for our 2 1/2 year old boy is in our E-mail inbox and the call just doesn't come.  Well, last week at our home group, we all went around and talked about what each of us was struggling with and prayed for each other {an awesome time of prayer}.  The next day {Monday}, it was like a huge burden was gone.  My perspective changed...I was looking at the bigger picture and I shifted my expectations to waiting for others' referrals so that we could get closer to the top of the list.  And what an amazing week it was!  Plus, it was at the exact time that I needed it.  One of the four referrals given this week was for a 2 year old boy and he was not ours.  But, I was not even bothered by this.  In fact, I was truly rejoicing for the family and for the little boy.  Oh, the power of prayer!

There is more, so much more, that I have learned and am learning about myself, about Him, about His kingdom, about my role, that I would never have known without this journey.

The journey is difficult, it stretches me in every aspect, but it is SO worth it.  Not just because of the end result {which I look forward to with great hope}, but because of what I am learning along the way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Four Steps Closer

Four waiting families received their referrals yesterday!!  Woo hoo!! 

Our new number is

AND, three of the families with referrals received a very timely court date.  It was a great day for the CHI Ethiopia program.

Getting closer and closer to our next sweet child!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pineapple Princess

I took this idea from Crazy 8:
Added this idea from icandy

And made this for Miss L:
{The top is much more pink than it really does match the ric-rac:)}

Happy Birthday, Miss L!  Can't wait to see you in your Pineapple Princess outfit! :)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Appreciating Melia's Teacher

Last week was teacher appreciation.  Melia and I planned to do two things for her AMAZING teacher, Mrs. Schmidt, shown here with Miss Melia:

However, Miss M thwarted our plans when she got Mrs. Schmidt a gift without my permission on Monday.  Here's how it went down...

I dropped her off at her Nana and Papa's house just like I do every morning.  Knowing that it was Teacher Appreciation Week and she had nothing for her teacher and that her teacher LOVES chocolate, she asked her Nana if she had any chocolate that she could give Mrs. Schmidt. 

Now, anyone that knows my mother knows that she also is a lover of all things chocolate, so for every holiday, her students give her pounds and pounds of chocolate...some of which she eats/shares and some of which she puts in her freezer for emergencies.  This was an emergency.  So, she opened her freezer and let Melia pick out a piece of chocolate.  What does our little reader pick?  A huge Hershey Kiss with the words #1 Teacher across the package.

When I heard that she'd brought her a present on Monday, I just decided it would be best to get her something every day.  So, the list of Teacher Appreciation Gifts 2011 was born:

Giant Hershey Kiss

Gerbera Daisy
With the words "Thank you for helping me bloom.  Love, Melia"

$10 iTunes Gift Card
In a card that Melia wrote "Thank you for filling my Kindergarten days with music."


A Tray of Homemade Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Packaged in Cupcake Liners on a Sandwich Tray

With a card that read "Thank you BERRY much for everything."

It was so much fun, I think I may have a new favorite week!! :)

Mothers Day 2011

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Prov 31:28

Mothers Day this year was wonderful!

I started the morning with three gifts from my hubby and kiddos:

A Flower Pillow from my boy

A "Chocolate-covered Strawberry" from my girl

And My Ssekos!! 

Then, we went to see the African Children's Choir
It was awesome!!  I thought it might be a little hard to see such sweet little kiddos from the same continent as our children that we are waiting so {im}patiently for, but honestly, it was so good for my heart!

We then went to Trevor's parents' house for lunch {we celebrated with my mom the week before} and then home for a NAP!!  Yep, you read correctly...I got to take a nap.  I had one kiddo on each side of me, even though I was the only one who slept.  It was heavenly! :)

I am so, so thankful for the mothers in my life.  I really spent the day reflecting on how blessed I am to have such an amazing mom and mother-in-law and to have the opportunity to raise my two sweet, beautiful kids.  In addition, I love having the opportunity to do this stage of life with so many supportive friends {and my sister and sisters-in-law} who also have the same struggles and wins with their kids and who help keep me accountable for being the best mom I can be. 
Thank you, Jesus, for always placing the right people in my life at just the right time!