Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Introducing....

Munni Grae !
I LOVE THIS LITTLE PEANUT!!!  And she's missing her front tooth :) !

I was cleaning my house and had my playlist up REAL LOUD because how else is cleaning fun?  Well, the hummingbird feeder was on my countertop because I had washed it yesterday so I decided to make more food.  I put 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in the pan and turned it to boil.  While I was doing this, a Soundgarden song was playing and I thought to myself, "that doesn't sound like part of the song?"  so I went and checked my phone and sure enough, there was a missed call from my caseworker.  I listened to her voicemail and she told me that she had some very important information that she needed to tell me.  Remember, JUST YESTERDAY she told me to expect to wait several months for the NOC so I was thinking that they needed more information from me or something like that.  I went out to my front porch and called her.  She answered and said, "Are you sitting down?"  And just like in the movies, I sat down and she proceeded to tell me that I got my NOC today!!!!!   I was FLOORED!!!  I started bawling and couldn't stop!!  We talked about a bunch of details and then I heard this "WOOOOOO, WOOOOOO, WOOOOOOO," from inside my house.  I opened the front door and my house was full of smoke and the smoke alarm was going off!  I totally forgot about the boiling sugar water on the stove!  I told my caseworker, "I promise I'm really responsible!  This never happens!!"  She assured me that for a week after she got her NOC that she was a complete flake!  Thank goodness she understood!  My pan on the other hand is best friends with the garbage can!

I immediately went to the post office to overnight Munni's family book to my agency so they can send it to India.  I tried to call everyone I know and NO ONE WAS ANSWERING!!  UGH!!  I wanted to share this moment!!  I then went to the mall to pick up my ring from the jeweler and as I was standing there, I could feel myself getting emotional.  The lady asked me how my day was going and I told her, "REALLY, REALLY great!!"  I also had tears in my eyes but who cares.  As I was walking to my car, my friend Jen called me back and I told her.  She told me to come over to celebrate.  When I got to her house and walked in, as soon as I saw her we hugged and I was SOBBING. The kind that comes from deep within.  And then Jen starts sobbing.  Then Murphy the dog comes in to make sure everything was O.K.  I think that to know that Munni is really going to be my daughter after all the ups and downs, well, I was completely overwhelmed.  I had spent many nights at Jen's crying and praying and hoping so to break down in her arms it just seemed natural.

My agency got the notice today so that means her orphanage got it at least yesterday.  I don't know for sure yet if they have told Munni but I do know that FOR SURE by the end of the week Munni will know SHE HAS A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!

Jen and I had two glasses of wine at 4 in the afternoon....can you think of a better reason to celebrate??!!!

So rewind to June 16, 2011.  This is the face I fell in love with:
THOSE EYES.  They get me EVERY. TIME.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE sweet Munni and I can't wait to have her in my arms!!!

Now for some even better news!!  My caseworker told me to file for my visa right away!  She fully expects me to make the first trip by the end of September/ early October!!  I will be in Hyderabad for about 3 days and then I have to leave.  Since I will be on a travel visa, I am not allowed to re-enter India until 60 days after my first departure.  Here's where a snag could occur.  Once I go on the first trip, I will have the adoption decree.  Then, I will be waiting for India to issue her passport.  I am PRAYING that it won't take longer than the 60 days.

Remember the Christmas Miracle?  Well here is the picture my caseworker emailed me.  Her daughter is in front with the heart over her face.  Munni had only been in the orphanage 4 months when this picture was taken.  And do you know what's crazy?  It just might work out that my caseworker and I are in Hyderabad at the SAME TIME for our court hearings!!!

I am so completely OVERJOYED!!!!!  And when I was driving in my car, crying tears of joy, I heard the Lord whisper to me yet again, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
Can I get a witness??!!  AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got it today!!!! AND, it was 10 days today! Yep that's all it took!! My caseworker JUST told me yesterday to expect to wait several months to receive it. I guess God had other plans! I was a mess because all I kept thinking is that my daughter knows she had a mama!!!!!

I have a lot of info to share in the next post......



Saturday, July 28, 2012

Life Lessons From Barkley

I've figured out that God sent Barkley to me as an answer to my prayers.  I know, how is a dog an answer to prayer?  When I started on this adoption journey, I  prayed and prayed and prayed that God would prepare my heart so that I could be the best mom I could possibly be for my daughter (and later for my baby boy).  When I first started out, I thought I would be getting a *perfect* baby.  I am so thankful that the Lord changed my heart and opened my vision to who he had in store for me!  As I've said before, M. had a traumatic past and with that, there are some things that I have no idea how they may manifest themselves later.  My constant prayer is that God will give me wisdom, patience, and understanding as we navigate her new world together.  I've read all kinds of books on parenting children with traumatic pasts, children who grieve, and children who have attachment disorders.  Adoption is a wonderful thing but it is also bittersweet because it is founded in loss.  So even if she didn't have the experiences she had, she is still experiencing the loss of her birth family.

About 2 weeks ago, God brought Barkley into my life.  As you know, Barkley spent his life up to the point of his rescue on a chain that was staked in the ground.  He had about a 15 foot radius that was his comfort zone.  Over the last 2 weeks I've seen how hard he's tried when I ask him to move outside of his safety zone.  Sometimes he has great success and sometimes there's no progress and he absolutely refuses.  But every single time there is always high stress, panting, drooling, darting eyes, and a wrinkled forehead from worry.

When I first met Barkley on his chain, he wouldn't even come to me.  His tailnub was wagging but it was too scary to approach me.  It took about 20 minutes and some assistance for him to finally let me pet him.  Now, he can't get enough hugs and kisses!  This was a huge step forward.

This week he finally made it down into the basement.  It took 30 minutes of me moving his legs, one at a time, and supporting his body down the stairs.  The basement is a happy place for my other dogs because that's where they get fed!  When I say, "Ready?" Simon runs to the basement door, jumps to the first landing (over 5 steps) and then runs excitedly down the rest of the stairs.  The other two act somewhat the same, minus the flying leap.  Up until 2 days ago, when the other dogs ran happily into the basement, Barkley would just stand at the top, waiting and drooling, trying to figure out what was going on down there.  But he couldn't bring himself to take those steps outside his safety zone and find out for himself.  Once we made it to the bottom and he saw it wasn't anything scary, he goes up and down those steps now with no problem.  You would never know that it was such an anxiety producing event.

Last weekend, I had some friends come and pick me up for a ball game.  They came in to meet Barkley and do you know what he did?  He ran away and hid.  It was too scary for him to meet new people.  He's familiar with me and my family but anyone outside of that freaked him out.  I coaxed him over to me so they could pet him.  I know it was scary for him but he is learning that it's O.K. to let people give him attention.  If you are familiar with the Boxer breed at all, you know that they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE people!!  So to see Barkley missing out on this part of what is bred into him, is just sad.  He shows me that excitement when I come home, but I can't wait until it's natural for him to spread his Boxer love to anyone who comes into my house.

Every day, there is a new experience that shows me that it's 2 steps forward and 3 steps back.   We are still making progress but there isn't a timeline and some days are really great and other days aren't so great.  It can be easy to forget that he still has a long way to go because in his safety zone, he acts completely normal.

When I think about sweet, precious M and all that is coming her way, I get this feeling that I don't know how to explain.  It's sad but in a weird way.  This little girl has been in an orphanage since she was about 2.5 years old.  Her ENTIRE world is about to be completely changed, and in a way, taken out from under her.  I know and everyone else knows that being in a family is WAY better than growing up in an orphanage, but HOW SCARY is it going to be for her??  I look different, sound different, dress differently, and act different from the women who've cared for her so far.  I probably smell different too.  In her first two weeks of life out of her safety zone (the orphanage) she is going to experience so many new things that I'm sure will be completely overwhelming.  Simple things to us like wearing shoes, car rides, sleeping in a bed, are all going to be new experiences to her.  She will also tackle bigger things like airplane rides (A LOT!) and dogs who are almost her size.  Even the basic things that we aren't in tune with so much like the difference in weather, food, smells, noise, etc.  I'm sure she will be on sensory overload.  We don't speak the same language so I can't even explain to her the things that are going to happen before they do.  Yes, she's getting her family book and she will be familiar with my picture but still, I am a stranger to her and she is leaving everything familiar.

Barkley has been a great life lesson in preparing me for M.s' adjustment away from her safety zone.  There may be days when she makes great progress.  There may be days when for whatever reasons, she regresses.  There may be days when she reaches her limit in that moment and it's O.K.  It's a reminder that things won't go as planned and a reminder that I don't have to stick to a plan.

When I think of her new life here, I am filled with hope.  There have been two verses that always seem to come up when I pray for her and her adjustment.

The first one is from 2 Corinthians 5:17-
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

I love the hope we have in Jesus.  M has a new life coming her way and I know that God has an amazing plan for her life.

The other verse is from Joel 2:25-
"The LORD says, 'I will give you back what you lost.'"

I can't even put into words HOW MUCH I wish I could have found M sooner and that we could have been able to spend her early childhood together.  I am trusting that God will redeem her and our relationship as mother and daughter, and by doing so, will give back what we have lost- both separately and together.

Probably the biggest lesson Barkley has made clear to me is that when M and I do finally meet, even though she may be happy to see me, I'm sure she will be somewhat scared.  It may take 10, 15, 30 or 45 minutes for her to let me touch her.  And I, I will be praying for supernatural strength to keep myself from hugging and kissing her to pieces!!!  





Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hoping....

In the last week I've heard of two families who received their NOC in record time.  One family received theirs in 10 days and another received theirs in, wait for it..... 2 DAYS!!!!

I am HOPING and PRAYING that I receive my NOC SOON!!!  I want SO BADLY for M to know that she HAS A FAMILY!!!  Once I receive my NOC, they will tell her.  It feels like torture.  I know, all who are following her story knows, my agency knows, her orphanage knows.... everyone knows except her.  I WANT HER TO KNOW!!!!  I can't even express in words how much I want her to have that comfort to know that she is PRECIOUS and CHOSEN!  UGH!  Please pray that her sweet little heart would have so much hope about getting a family.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby J update

I just got off the phone with the facilitator in Africa.  I *think* we may have found an attorney who is willing to take on my case with my limitations and requirements.  Please pray for clarity and peace of mind if this is the one God wants me to use.  There are some questions that still need to be answered (I'm asking EVERY TINY DETAIL) so once I get those back, pray about it, I should have a better idea.  It's looking promising so far.  I don't anticipate having all of my questions answered until next week.

Any and all prayers are VERY much appreciated!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Barkley rehab week 1

Barkley has been living unchained for one week today.  Every day he is making progress and it's awesome to see this sweet puppy dog's personality coming out more and more each day.  He's had a lot of firsts this week, some scary and some not so scary:

He had his first car ride (SCARY), his first bath (LOVED), his first toy (LOVE, LOVE), his first taste of peanut butter (BEYOND LOVE!!), his first comfy bed to sleep on (LOVE), his first time running freely (LOVE), first experience with cats (NOT SURE), with the vacuum cleaner (SCARY), the doorbell, (KINDA SCARY- why's everyone barking?), hairdryer (SCARY), long walk on a leash (KINDA SCARY), and many more.  Simon, Rollie, and Lola have been really great showing him the ropes.  There were some issues of dominance with Simon and Barkley involving two things:  me and the squeaky toy.  Once Barkley was neutered however, the competition has faded.  Also, he hasn't had one single accident in the house!

It's a powerful experience to watch this dog trying so hard to overcome his fear.  He has made great strides within the house and the backyard.  But when he is in a new environment or I ask him to do something new, he reverts right back to the fearful dog he was a week ago when he was first unchained.  It's difficult to see how much fear he has but in spite of that, you can really see him trying.  When he gets in these states of being, he starts puffing out his jowls and he gets these two r-e-a-l-l-y long drool hangers from each side of his mouth.  They never drop on the floor but they've gotten at least 10 inches in length!  You can see from the videos I posted below just how hard it is for him to step out of his comfort zone.  These were taken on Monday, the day I dropped him off at the vet to be neutered.  I finally figured that maybe if I'm out of sight, it will encourage him to come to me.  I ended up going out on the front porch, out of his line of vision.  Watch for a super cute Barkley move around the 1:00 mark:
In the next video, you can really see him moving WAY outside his comfort zone.  His eyes are darting all around and the wrinkles on his forehead are all scrunched up with worry:
 I was so proud of him!  I know that was really challenging for him!

I picked him up the next day from the vet and boy was he happy to see me!  He didn't like the car ride home though and burrowed himself on the floorboards in the back seat.  Poor Barkley :(

The first night home after the vet, he slept on the fleecy bed I have for him at the end of my bed.  The next morning, one of my feet was sticking out from under the covers and I awoke to the softest little Barkley kisses on my toes!  When I went into the living room, this is what I found.  Apparently during the night, he took it upon himself to explore the toy basket!


Wednesday night there was a terrible thunderstorm in our area.  The kind of storm that when it thunders, you are literally waiting for your journey to the center of the earth because it feels like the planet is going to split in half.  I was so sad for Barkley.  I kept thinking about all of the storms he lived through on that chain and how terrified he must have been.  He had a really tough time with the storm even though he was inside.  He would not leave my side and was panting so heavily.  When it was time to go to bed, he noticed that Simon was ON my bed so he thought he should be too.  They are both sacked out and snoring!


Last night we went for a walk for the first time.  Since he has such trepidation with the front door (every time so far, the front door has meant a ride in the car = SCARY) I decided that group therapy would be best.  I always walk my other 3 dogs all at the same time so last night I added one more into the mix.  He did a really great job!  He still struggles with cars though as they are SCARY.  At first he would freeze every time a car passed us.  As we progressed on our walk, I coaxed him through each car passing and made him keep walking with the rest of the gang.  I wanted him to see that when we walk, he is safe from cars.  Simon, Rollie, and Lola are excellent leash walkers- we've got our system down- so I think it was easy for Barkley to fall in line and see what they were doing and copy it.  The pack mentality is so strong!

This morning, I woke to this:


He LOVES his squeaky lamb toy.  Me?  not so much early in the morning...

Each day more and more of his personality is coming out and it's really fun to have two wiggly boxer butts in the house.  They have a sense of joy that is just different from other dogs.  You can't help but laugh when you see them do their boxer wiggle dance and kidney bean move!

I'm excited to see the progress he makes in this coming week.  I've been working on getting him to learn his name and other basic commands like sit, down, and stay.  Thank goodness I took my other dogs to the K-9 Academy.  Even though it was expensive at the time (I took Rollie and Lola) it's paid off because I've been able to use what I learned with Simon and now Mr. Barkley.

As you can see from the photo below, for Barkley, life just keeps getting better!



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ARTICLE 5 BABY!!!!!!!

HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess what was in my inbox this morning??  Yep the precious ARTICLE 5!!

I haven't read anything sweeter in a lonnnggg time!!

"We have mailed the original Article 5 letter to CARA here in Delhi, and you may now proceed to the next step and obtain your court order.   
Let us know when you obtain the court order and M.'s passport, and we will then advise you of the next steps."

OH MY GOODNESS am I SOOOO HAPPY!!!!!!

This is going to be a great day :) First I'm going to the pool with my sister, then I get to pick up Barkley from the vet, and for dinner I'm *catching up* (ha!) with a sweet friend!  AHH!!  Simon and I are dancing around in circles, Rollie is barking cheering us on, and Lola is just watching us wagging her tail!

Another really great thing is that my awesome friend J who is also adopting from India, just received her NOC last week.  The significance in this is that C*RA followed the new guidelines for special needs cases and issued hers in the 15 day time limit they set!!!  So, let's do the math...15 business days from July 17th (the date on the letter) would mean that I'm praying that I receive her NOC on

AUGUST 7th

Please, pretty please pray they adhere to this timeline!!!

Oh and one more thing.  The homemade laundry detergent is safe for HE washers :)))

I'm about to put on my favorite praise playlist and give the glory to the Lord!!  Raise the roof!!
Genesis 18:14!!!!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lost files, airing out my laundry and a dog rescue

Last week my caseworker informed me that they lost misplaced my file.  Somehow, the Embassy in Delhi didn't receive it.  My letter from the Bureau of Consular Affairs was dated June 26th.  I should have had my Article 5 by now.  Luckily, my caseworker is on it and emailed them my approved I-800 and copies of all the other paperwork I had to fill out.  Supposedly they are trying to figure out where my file is- somewhere between New Hampshire and New Delhi.  There was a slight moment during all of this when I thought of the movie Zoolander....


Anyway, to appease my frustration and in the spirit of staying positive, I decided to work on some summer projects.  The first is homemade laundry detergent.  I've been waiting for my supply to run out so that I could finally try it!  I've been interested in this for awhile and have been doing tons of research on it.  I finally came up with a recipe I thought would work for me and then I ordered all of my goodies off of Amazon.  It's very, very basic.

First off, I used 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda


Then I grated 1/2 a bar of Fels-Naptha heavy duty laundry bar soap


And I also grated 1/2 a bar of Goat's Milk Soap because I'm obsessed with it!  The recipe I found calls for 1 bar grated soap, but I chose to do half of each.


After I grated the bar soap, I poured in the Borax and Washing Soda.  The picture is only of half the amount of the Borax and Washing Soda, as I wanted to make sure the grated soap was thoroughly mixed in.

Then, I poured it in one of my old coffee containers to keep it fresh

But the best part of this project is the essential oils sampler kit I bought

These babies are SUPER concentrated so it only take 3-4 drops PER LOAD and man do my clothes smell amazing!!!

A couple of things that are different with this recipe compared to store bought detergent:  first of all you only use 1 TBS per load.  If your clothes are really dirty, then use 2 but even then its less than half those scoops that come with the detergent.  Secondly, the water won't suds up the way commercial brands do BUT that doesn't mean your clothes aren't getting clean!  My clothes not only smelled great from the essential oils, but they looked great too!

I bought everything except the goat's milk soap off of Amazon.  The essential oils were the most expensive at $23 but they will last me years!  Be sure to keep them in a dark place to extend their longevity.  I've also been combining the essential oils with a cup of white vinegar for homemade fabric softener.  I bought the goat's milk off of Etsy and that was $6.  My total cost was $54.  The batch I made yields 32 oz.  I have no idea how many TBS are in 32 ounces but I know it's a lot :)  And I still have tons of the Borax and Washing Soda left.  After I make my next batch, which I'm assuming will be in a couple of months, all I will need to buy are the bars of soap.  Again, I didn't have to splurge on the Goat's Milk soap but I did.

My next project came as a surprise.  I am a DOG LOVER.  You probably couldn't tell.  I love everything about them and even though I've cleaned up tons of poop and vomit, lost countless shoes, my Ray Bans, and my passport to chew fests, uncovered $28 in Simon's poop in my backyard, I wouldn't trade them for the world.  There is just something about a dog's love that is, well, unconditional.

So when I find out about a dog being abused or is suffering, my b*tch switch flips on and I go all Jason Bourne.  Last Friday, my good friend Jen and I completed Mission: Boxer Rescue.  I found out about this sweet guy from a website I subscribe to and something about his face just broke my heart.  Turns out he is an AKC pup and his previous owner was using him for breeding purposes.
If you look closely, you can see the blur by where is little nub is wagging like crazy.  This doggy has spent his life on a chain.  He has NEVER been off of that chain since he left his mama.  When my friend and I finally arrived at the house, we were so far out in the country I was a little nervous that we would be reenacting a scene from Deliverance.  When we went around the back of the house, my heart broke.  There was this guy up front, staked to the ground.  Then behind him were as far as I could count at least 10 other female dogs who were also chained.  There was some sort of structure so we couldn't see behind it but we could hear dogs barking.  It seriously looked like a scene from when they raid dog fighting kennels.  They only had these tiny plastic dog houses that looked like kitty litter covers.  Jen started the Spanish Inquisition while I tried to get him to come close to me.  When he finally approached me, he cowered so low he was crawling on the ground.  Jen found out that they never leave their chains- they are there through wind, storms, oppressive heat, freezing cold, snow and ice.  It truly was heart-breaking.  Jen also saw that when the owner approached him, he cowered very low.  It's one thing to cower to me, a stranger, but another to cower to the owner who feeds him every day.  She has a new Euro male she is going to breed so she doesn't have any use for this guy anymore.  When we finally got him off of the chain, he was so timid walking.  It took both of us to lift him into the car because he wasn't havin' it.  The poor guy was so scared.
He was so nervous that he got off of the seat and wedged himself on the floorboards between the back seat and the passenger seat.  If he could have made himself disappear, he would have.

I've been working with him, trying to help him regain his confidence and to understand his freedom off of the chain.  He is now feeling comfortable in my house and the back yard.  The first day I scrubbed him down 4 times to get all of the dirt and grime off of him.  The look he gave me when I was scrubbing behind his ears was so sad.  You could tell that no one had ever done that.  After the bath he was like a magnet to me!  Simon was so cute with him.  There are 4 steps from my kitchen to the landing to go out the back door.  All the dogs ran out but he just stood at the top, looking down and panting.  Simon ran back in, nosed him, and then ran back outside.  This scenario repeated itself 4 times until finally he followed Simon out the door.  He was completely exhausted after this and actually was falling asleep sitting up.  Poor fellow!
He still has a LONG way to go before he is a normal dog.  I took him to my mom's and my sister and I were using positive reinforcement  to help him acclimate to the new surroundings.  He's not food motivated at all, only affection motivated.  It makes complete and total sense.  The one thing that was withheld from him is what he craves the most.

Tonight he is at the vet getting neutered.  It was a production leaving through the front door.  He is comfortable with the back door and inside the house, but trying to get him to leave through the front door and to walk down the stone pathway and steps brought him right back to how fearful he was when he was first taken off of the chain.
You can see that he won't let his back legs off of that step!  I felt bad because he was panting very heavily.  We took it very slow (25 minutes from the door to the car!) and I praised him with every step he took.

I can't wait to pick him up tomorrow.  It's very easy for me to love on him and to help him.  There is something about dogs that just come naturally to me so it is completely joyful for me to be able to help this sweet guy.

My sister came up with a new name for him and I think it is most fitting.  It is one that I can already tell he will do justice.  So, introducing....
Barkley

I'm so excited to see the transformation in this love bug!!  If you know of a dog that is living its' life on a chain and you are not sure what to do, PLEASE contact Dogs Deserve Better.  They can help.  You can do this anonymously in the event that you don't want to cause problems with someone you know.  The psychological damage a dog endures living on a chain is devastating and no dog deserves that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Great Morning!

This morning Miss M's book arrived!! I LOVE IT!!! I have been imagining her looking through it again and again!
I used the website mixbook and am thrilled with how it turned out.  I chose to do a blank canvas so that I could completely customize her book. They have so many choices it was awesome!! I chose vibrant, rich colors that remind me of her homeland :)
Here are a few of the pages:






And yes, each puppy dog got their own page ;)
If you have a special occasion that you want to be remembered in a book format, I suggest you check them out! I know shutterfly has them as well but the artistic side of me was more impressed with what mixbook had to offer.
Now if only my Article 5 would come this week!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sweet, Amazing, Answered Prayer!!!

Back in January after I was officially registered on C*ARA's website, I put my nose to the grindstone and filled out every grant application that was available to me (a total of 4...single woman are really discriminated against when it comes to grants!).  At that time I was also reading a book on George Mueller and all of the amazing things he accomplished in England with providing for orphans.  If you don't know anything about him or his organization, it is quite amazing.  The most amazing thing about it is that they NEVER asked for any money... and yet EVERY need that they prayed for was provided.  He had a small inner circle of friends who were committed to answering the call to care for the orphan in their distress.  Over the course of his life and through PRAYER alone, he obtained from God over 7.5 million dollars.  With that money he was able to care and provide for over 10,000 orphans.  The key to his answered prayers he said was that they were in secret.

As I was filling out these applications, I prayed about whether God wanted me to ask for prayer for the fulfillment of these grants.  I felt that He wanted me to keep it a secret.  So I did.  I've been praying about it since January.  Do you know what I found out today?  The Gift of Adoption has awarded me a grant!!!!!  And, they awarded me the full amount that I had requested!!

$7500

I SOBBED for 20 minutes after opening the email.  The amount of love that I felt from the Lord was BEYOND overwhelming!!  I think my dogs thought something was wrong because they all came and gave me kisses :)

This is enough to pay for my travel and lodging when I go to get Sweet Miss M.!!!

I wanted to share this answer to prayer publicly for 2 reasons:

1)  To give honor and glory to the Lord!!!

2)  To encourage anyone who is adopting or is thinking of adopting- PLEASE don't let money be what keeps you from pursuing adoption if the Lord has laid it upon your heart.  The  LORD WILL PROVIDE!!! 

Adoption is in line with his will as in James 1:27-

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

I am beaming with excitement and joy!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy Saturday Mail!!

Yesterday my caseworker sent me an email telling me that she put a status check into the Embassy about my case.  She said she won't know anything until Monday, if there is anything to know.

But just about 5 minutes ago my boxer, Simon, started sniffing at the front door.  He only does that if someone is there or the cat wants in.  So I opened the door and there was the mailwoman!  She had a letter from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.  It was dated June 26, 2012 and told me that my petition has been forwarded to the visa issuing post where my adoption interview will take place in New Delhi.  So another Indian adoptive mom and I figured out based on her timeline, that I should receive my Article 5 next week!!  What that means is that I will get the notice saying the Embassy has approved and issued the Article 5 and sent it CARA.  And here's where my forever hopeful side is hoping against hope that I will receive my NOC 15 days after that notice :)  Nothing wrong with being hopeful?  I do realize that it is more unlikely that the 15 day timeline won't be adhered to but I'm still praying for a miracle!!

And what's even more fitting is that I just finished M.'s photo book!!  I can't even begin to tell you what an overwhelming experience that was.  I don't think I fully grasped the magnitude of it until I sat down and tried to write the first page introducing myself.  It was very awkward.  I have SO MUCH love for this little girl and have been praying for her since last year.  But she is just barely finding out about me so it's a gentle line of trying to express how much I love her but also not freaking her out!  I also put a lot of pressure on myself because she will have this book for THE REST OF HER LIFE. Yeah.  And then there are the guidelines....I want to say enough without saying too much.  I also picture her looking at this book over and over until I get there, so I wanted it to be VERY special.  I am so pleased with the way it turned it out!  I cried several times while making it but it was a good cry.  At the end I wrote her a little letter.  Again, I didn't want to overwhelm her but I also want her to be excited about starting her new life with me and all that we are going to do.  Here's a picture of the cover.  Obviously in real life her name and face aren't blocked out!


Also, way back in 1997 I stumbled upon the cutest stuffed elephant.  There was something about it that I just loved.  I wanted to buy it for my future daughter but at the time I wasn't even close to becoming a mom.  I left the store but when I got to my car, my gut was telling me to go back and buy it.  I've kept it in the same bag, all wrapped up, ready for my little girl.  I took of picture of it and on the very last page of her book, I put the picture and told her how special this elephant is.  I told her that I have been saving it for a very long time and that when I finally get to go to India to get her, this will be the very first present I ever give her.

Isn't he adorable?
Lastly, I got some new ink :)  I've been wanting this for two years and now that things have really been moving forward, I committed.  By now, you know I have a thing for elephants.  My house is full of them from all the places I've traveled.


It's only fitting, I mean, she is from the land of elephants and the Lord has shown me that nothing is too hard for him to accomplish!



Monday, July 2, 2012

Out of the Boat...And Sinking

I'm in that really uncomfortable place where I have to truly trust in the Lord.  You would think after visiting this place so often, I would get used to it.  It is not fun.  At. all.  Every day feels like a battle to surrender and trust.  It was very, very difficult to cut ties with my agency when I was in the #1 spot for a referral.  Even though I know the Lord was pressing on my heart to leave, it doesn't make it any easier.  All of this waiting, the ups and downs, takes it toll.

A number of families also left my agency because of the same concerns I had.  It's been a blessing to be able to communicate, complain, encourage, and vent to one another because we know exactly what everyone is going through.  But at the same time, it has made me super anxious because all of these families, who are also using the same facilitator as I am, are receiving referrals.  Granted, their referrals are for older children but it still leaves me with a panicky feeling.  I play these scenarios in my head and wonder if I've been skipped over?  Did she forget about me and my referral request?  It's crazy I know, but it's still a daily struggle.  And then there are all of the pictures of the newly home Congolese children and babies.  That sends me into another tailspin of, I wonder how old Joaquin will be?  What will he look like?  Will he be healthy?  What if he turns out to be HIV + ?  And the crazy train continues.

A few days ago, I was listening to my cleaning playlist (yep!  anything to make it enjoyable!) and a couple of U2 songs came on.  I was a HUGE U2 fan back in the day before they were mainstream, as in, I thought I was SO COOL for loving an alternative band that was still considered "underground."  I was such a dork.  I mailed my sophomore school picture to Bono and even wrote a message to him on the back of it.  That in and of itself is enough to lose cool points for life, but what's more is that I fully expected him to write me back!  Anyway, I was cleaning, praying, and listening to music.  I was telling God just how spent I felt.  Completely strung out.  And then two songs came on back to back.  The first is called Drowning Man off the War album.  At the end of the song, he sings the verse from Isaiah 40:31 -

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and will not faint."

In the song he sings, "Rise up rise up.  With wings like eagles, you run, you run, you run and not grow weary.  Hold on and hold on tightly to this love lasts forever."

I stopped and thought about how much God really loves me.  His love lasts forever.  And in that moment he spoke to me what I needed to hear.  But he wasn't finished because he followed it up with "40," which is also on the War album.  This little number is straight from Psalm 40.

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  May will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him."

So I've been pondering these verses the last couple of days, trying to keep my focus on him.  I know that I could never do this on my own and his strength has completely sustained me.  This morning when I was reading my bible, he gave me another nugget of encouragement.  I was reading in Matthew when Jesus walks on the water to them in the middle of the night.  Peter says to Jesus that if it's really him, can he walk too?

"So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind and waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  'Save me, Lord!' he shouted.  Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  'You have so little faith,' Jesus said.  'Why did you doubt me?'  When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped." - Matthew 14:29-32

The things I took away from this are:

1)  Faith is a mind-set that expects God to act.  When Peter stepped out of the boat, he fully expected that Jesus would make him walk on water.
2)  When in the midst of a storm, I NEED to keep my eyes focused on Jesus- not the wind and waves around me, or else I WILL SINK!
3)  When I do start sinking (let's be honest, I will!)  Jesus will immediately reach out and grab me.  He will sustain me and encourage me.
4)  I should never, never, never, never, never doubt Jesus. :)
5)  When I am taking steps of faith is when I will encounter the storm.  That's also when I will encounter Jesus' power.


I have absolutely NO IDEA when I will receive a referral for Baby Joaquin.  I don't have any inkling how it will happen either.  But, I am trying really hard to keep my focus on Jesus, reminding myself that he is the one who called me on this journey, and however it turns out, he knew all along.