Monday, December 30, 2013

What Wall?

And the wall came tumbling down.

You know the huge wall of expenses staring at us 28 months ago.

I can't believe I am writing these words, and I'm absolutely giddy with the joy of it!  We are 100% FULLY funded for our trip to Thailand....let me type that again...We are 100% FULLY funded for our trip to Thailand.

Over the weekend Village to Village (back in 2012 we placed our family profile on their website where tax deductible donations could be made to them for us, and they then pay expenses on our behalf  i.e. our agency, travel agency, etc.--money does not come directly to us.  When we received our referral fee expenses we had been blessed with monies, which they sent into Holt.  I had not looked at our profile since then)  We received a message stating they believed the remainder of the expense money we needed had probably been taken care of...and that we should take a look at our profile to see what happened.  I can't tell you what a shock it was to open it and see that an additional $4000 had been donated, anonymously (whoever you are out there we pray God will pour His blessings out on you until your cup runneth over), to our family.  WOW.  I mean WOW.  God just knows how to blow us away. We will now have the funds to take care of the small loan we took out to cover earlier expenses. And more importantly, this means we have the monies we need to travel, and take the boys (a secret they are still not in on cause we weren't sure about affording the plane tickets) with No questions and No worries.  After months of saving, months of fundraisers, months of paperwork it is COMPLETED!

Not only did God take care of the wall, he got rid of it.  What a testament to the fact that when something is right, and God calls you to it, do not be afraid, He will provide.  What a blessing, no blessings, we would have missed out on if we would have let that wall intimidate us.  To Him be all glory and honor, and praise.

Now...Let's go to Thailand. We are coming Isabel.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Isabel, Birthday Letter Age 2

On November 30, 2013, halfway around the world you turned two years old.  On that day we celebrated that you were happy, healthy, and loved.  Loved by people in Thailand and loved by people in the United States.  We haven't met you yet so it's difficult to write all the characteristics of who you are at this age.  In the updates we know you are a happy, talkative, two year old.  We are so anxious to get to know you better, but know this today you were celebrated and loved.  Can't wait for all the birthdays to come.

Love,
Mom

We sent balloons to Thailand with love.
Just as I was getting all teary eyed, one of them got stuck in a tree just past the house.  Your daddy said,"well that one's not making it to Thailand."  We all started grinning and laughing a little.  It was the perfect moment.  A little sad, a little silly, and a little wishful.  Next year we will celebrate together with more balloons, laughter, and silliness, oh and maybe a cake too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Early Christmas Gift


December has fallen upon us.  Since Halloween we have been ultra busy, with no time in this girl's life to even think about blogging.  However, it is December and along with all the Christmas festivities it also happens to be an update month.  We were told not to expect it till mid month, but the excitement started yesterday as other adoptive families we are connected with revealed the reports had started to trickle in!  Every notification beep my phone made today caused me to jump, until at last Holt's email popped up.  What a fabulous Christmas present...which could only be topped by news that we have long awaited first approval (NO...we are still waiting, I hold my breath for a few days after the twice a month meetings.  Holt still estimates we will not receive approval until early next year.)  Today, I'm not letting anything take away the joy of seeing this beautiful face.


She is darling, no?  Her beautiful pouty lips, and big brown eyes.  The update held all the important stuff, how much she is growing or should I say not growing!  She is still no bigger than a peanut.  At the check up in October she weighed all of 23 lbs and measured at 2 feet 7 in tall.  According to US percentage charts she is in the ninth percentile for weight and third for height.  It also sounds like somebody is a picky eater, and because she has a new baby foster sister in the house wants a bottle just like the little one!  I'm glad there is a new foster sister.  I hope that eases the transition for her foster mother.  As I look at this picture of them together, this woman who has loved and cared for a total of 9 foster children and does her best to prepare them for their adoptive families, I feel a profound sense of obligation that I have no idea how to repay.  We will take the family gifts when we go, but what gift says the thank you I have in my heart to this woman who is being a mother to my child until I can be...
The reports states she is very attached to her foster mother, and very silent and wary of people she does not know.  In just a few short months we will be "those" people.  My heart hurts that taking her away from all she knows and loves is a necessary part of this process of her coming to our family.  I am already praying for wisdom, extra doses of patience, and that somehow she feels secure with us.  



She looks like she is a little mischievous here, so cute.  I can't wait to get a huge bow on that girl!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ian: Birthday Letter at Age 9

To my baby boy (sorry but you are still mommas baby boy;)

On September 19, you turned nine years old.  Yes, I am a month late writing your birthday letter too, I had to keep things fair. Nine years ago you made your entrance, very quickly and 2 weeks early at that, as if you were impatient to meet us.  You are the baby, currently and have made it very clear that you are ready to hand that title off to your little sister.

Here is just a little of you at Nine:

You love sports. Any kind.  But you are never without a baseball or football in your hands.  Even just sitting you subconsciously are throwing one ball or the other in the air, over and over.  Nothing has been broken yet, and I have given up on "No balls in the house", I found myself repeating it every five minutes.  So now the rule is "no throwing the ball in the house".  I'm anxiously waiting to see what is going to get broken first...

You are always on the go.  Unless you are sleeping you are moving.  Although I love this about you and your dad, sometimes it just wears me out.

You collect baseball and football cards.

School is not your favorite, but it's ok because of P.E. And you pick out your clothes every night.  This is surprisingly important to you.  You are very adamant about what looks good together.  but ironically would wear nothing but shorts (as in no shirt, no socks, no shoes) if I let you, even if it was 10 degrees outside.

You do still want to be babied in the morning.  (sorry it's true)  You want to climb in my lap and fall back asleep, and if we don't have time you are a bit of a bear!

We love you to the moon and back.  We hope we have the energy to keep up with you as you explore life with such passion.
 Birthday Wake Up Rolls


Birthday Party Fun with friends


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Post Office Blues

This. Is. Really. Hard.

I mailed Isabel's care package #3.  I pulled into the post office parking lot, reached over and grabbed the little package and wham, tears just started to poor.  Yep, sitting in the parking lot, I held the package close to my chest, and just cried.  Blah.  I didn't mean to cry, and where the emotions came from is completely beyond me.  It took me a good five minutes to collect myself enough to walk in the doors, looking like a hot mess at that.  Those who have been through this process can verify how crazy and unexpected some of these emotions are.  I find it difficult to put into words.  We desperately love this child, worlds away...who doesn't even know us.  But we love her.  

Climbing back into my car, I gripped the steering wheel and prayed for peace.  Words from the book of Jeremiah flooded my mind, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."  God gently whispered into my soul, I loved you before you knew ME.  The love you hold for this child that I have placed in your heart, is just a small measure of the love I have for her, and of the love I have for you.  How does one understand the love of God?  We can't.  It's impossible because our emotions rise and fall, based on circumstance and the essence of our humanity.  God's love is constant.  It is the same, Yesterday, Today, and Forever.  He loved us when we didn't know him, at the times when we kicked and screamed with rage against him, at the times when we doubted and turned away, at the times we couldn't understand how the experiences we were going through would make us stronger in the end.  He must ache sometimes.  Ache the way I do to hold my child, only even more than I can fathom.  Ache when we reject His love.  Peace did settle over my heart, as I prayed, that God would help us to be a mirror of that love.  For Isabel surely, when she perhaps rejects us at first because she can't possibly know or understand our love, but also for those we encounter from day to day.  Those who don't yet know the love of my Jesus, who already loves them and patiently waits with arms open wide for them to come into the shelter He has built for them.

God is teaching us so many things along this journey.  But I still ache.  I still love her with the exact same fierce passion I feel when I look into the eyes of my sons.  I so long to be near her, perhaps explaining why I burst into tears while staring at the cold red brick of the Post Office.  It's just too much at times.

This. Is. Really. Hard.


Care Package #3: For our little princess:  I made an album with our pictures and hers throughout, maybe seeing us all together will help things click.  I put a few shiny bracelets and a pink dress inside a little back pack from Brave (my fave Princess flick!) Yes it all fit flat in the ziploc...I just forgot to take a pic of it!  



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Across the Ocean

We received our update on little sister...after days of obsessively checking my email!  Opening those emails is like Christmas, they are the one link we have to our little girl.  We of course looked at the pictures first so here they are.  These pics were taken in June at 18 months old.

 
Hoping we are just posing on this and not going for a ride!
Yes this look will get me anything I want
Look at all those teeth

pouty lips!
So sweet, don't you just love the shoes!
Love this girl


Our beautiful daughter.

My heart leapt a little when I saw she was wearing the little dress we sent in the first care package. Isn't she an absolute doll, the only thing missing is a huge bow which of course would not fit flat in a gallon ziploc bag! Then I cried.  Seriously, look how big she is getting.  She is growing up in these pictures and it makes me acutely aware of how much we are missing.  In the next six months if everything goes smoothly (crossing our fingers, toes, eyes as well as saying a prayer or a 100), we will bring her home.  She now has our pictures too.  I am praying God is preparing her little heart and that somehow she is forming a bond with the people smiling back at her in that little pink album.  

Her update reports she is a talkative child.  Haha!  I mean is anyone surprised?  She is my daughter, no?  We also learned little miss still does not like to drink out of a cup thank you, and insists on wearing a little pearl necklace everyday.  She loves to wear dresses:) and take a walk with her foster family during which she stops to talk to everyone she meets along the way.  After measuring long at birth and fairly tall for a one year old she has slowed down and now isn't much more than a minute gaining only 1 pound, weighing a whopping 22.5 pounds and standing at 2 feet 6 1/2 inches.  She ranks in the 10-25% for her age in weight and height.  

Our agency recently estimated we should get first approval between Nov and Jan, and travel between Jan and March depending on first approval.  My prayer was to have her home by her birthday in November, which at this point would be a miracle.  I'm a believer though, God has already worked numerous miracles to get us where we are.  Therefore, if He says the time is right it Will happen.  So we wait, we pray, and we blow kisses in the wind to our little girl across the ocean.
  







Friday, August 2, 2013

Running for Isabel

In May we were so blessed to be sponsored by a local chapter of Room for One More.  The fundraiser Running for One More, and we are SO thankful for the team of people who coordinated the 5K/10K walk/run.  We helped get sponsors and people to sign up for the race, and a portion of the funds will come back to us as a grant.  Two other families were being sponsored as well, and we had the chance to meet with them and others involved in advocating for adoption. 

I confess, I am not much of a runner.  Okay, truth, I HATE to run.  Aerobics, Pilates, Body Pump, bring it: run...ugh.  So, me running a 5K marks a significant milestone in my life.  With so many friends and family members coming to run and walk to support us, I was determined to finish as well as I could.   Obviously I survived (in 36 min no less, not bad for this anti-runner), but emotions I hadn't prepared for hit me when I crossed the finish line. Tears started streaming down my face, and my worried husband (who finished a good 10 minutes before) kept saying, "Are you okay, you need to walk it off".  For several minutes I was too overcome, or maybe just too out of breath, to respond to him.  I finally managed to pant out, "I'm just being emotional!"  He just grinned and pulled me into a (very sweaty) hug. Fact: I would gladly run 5K every day to bring our girl home.

Our team did great! Ian placed first in his age division, and 10th overall finishing in 25 minutes.  Peyton placed 2nd in his age division and 18th overall finishing in 27 min! Way to go Big Brothers!  Uncle Travis and Uncle Dakota both medaled as well, and our friend (a.k.a. Travis' girlfriend;) also brought home the gold!  My friend Cindy ran the 10 K (whew) and placed first in her age division.
A group of adoptive moms from around the world.
 
Our support from our family was so special.
Starting out

Emy, a fellow therapist and friend ran with me the whole race and kept me going!

Cindy Drewett, long time friend, kicked butt in the 10 K
Peyton came to run with us for the final lap!
                                      The devoted walkers                  Big Brothers, so proud
 

 It was such a joyful moment, albeit an emotional one crossing the finish line.  (On a side note how does he look so good after doing all that running?)

Many others bought T-shirts to help support us.  The grant will be sent to Holt and I can't wait to decrease those numbers even more over there on the side column.  We are getting soooo close, both financially and in actuality of travel.  Soooo close it's a little nerve racking to say the least. 

We are coming baby girl, we are coming!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I'm Here...You're There. No Fair!

Three Months have passed since receiving our referral of S.  Three months that have flown and crept by at the same time.  Many have asked me what is next, so here is what we are currently waiting for. 

After referral, our information is given to the Social Worker in Thailand assigned to Holt's cases.  She then reviews the information and will present it at a Board Meeting with the Thai Dept of Social Welfare. Holt will be notified when this is done, and will call us with what is known as First Approval.  Thailand will then issue our Article 16, formal paper work to file with the United States who will issue our I800 to allow Isabel to immigrate to the U.S. Article 16 will also include court dates to appear in Thailand, which are approximately 2 months after receiving First Approval. These meetings take place twice a month and unfortunately Holt has no way of knowing when our case will be presented, and recent cases have seen wait times of 7-11 months.  Which means we could receive approval as early as October and travel in Nov/Dec or receive first approval as late as Feb of 2014 and travel in April of 2014.  We of course are praying and hoping for as soon as possible.  With changes and staff shortages in Thailand our agency has basically told us to expect a long wait...sigh, sigh, sigh...

Since it has been three months we were able to send another care package.  Again having to weigh no more than a pound and fit flat in a gallon Ziploc.  We sent a recordable book, You Are My Sunshine.  We each read a page, and then one all together.  I hope getting to hear our voices makes things a little more comforting later.  Rocky actually picked out a dress to send this time:)  I think Daddy is finally starting to get a little antsy about seeing his baby girl! The boys found the perfect metallic pink card with little monkeys on it captioned, I'm here...You're there...No fair, which we stuffed with more pics of us. 




I am also excited to post about God's continuing provision.  After our last grant we looked at the monies left and felt confident we could meet them.  God however keeps confirming that He has this in control and is going to provide all our needs removing any question of who is making this all possible.  I was in the middle of applying for another grant when when we received our JSC funds (they have asked us not to mention the specific amount).  I almost didn't complete it because we felt we could "handle the rest", but decided to go ahead.  When I opened my mail last Saturday I was a bit shocked to see a $1000 check slip out from the letter.  We have been blessed with another $1000, and if that wasn't enough my good friend at work sponsored a a surprise Pampered Chef fundraiser and with help from friends all over the hospital blessed us with $300!  I am simply blown away.  As I wrote in one one of our grant apps that wanted to know why they should consider our family for a grant, We have worked extra, created fundraisers, applied to every grant available (and have had the paper cuts to prove it), prayed and believed and have just asked to be prayerfully considered so that one day we can tell Isabel how God moved mountains for her!  And He is, He has, I'm just so overcome with the joy of it all.  And so I testify here and to everybody I talk to of how God is providing! 

However, she is still there and we are here, and it is NO FAIR:)  So we continue to pray for her and stay busy with our lives, enjoying our moments with just the four of us, yet anxiously awaiting the addition to our family.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Headline News: Update on Isabel

After days of compulsively checking my email, we received our update on Isabel.  They only do updates every four months so I'm feeling a little spoiled that we received our referral info last month and an update this month, but the joy of it all has me feeling a bit giddy right now.  The info is so precious to us, but I promise not to be offended if you just scroll down to the pictures:)

The update is actually from February 14...a month before we had seen her little face.  Here's what we know about Isabel (S) at 14 months:  she weighs 9.5 kg or 21 lbs, she is 76 cm/2 ft 6 in tall, her head and chest circumference are both 47 cm, she is walking well and likes to climb, she is potty trained (uh huh doing a little dance! although they prepared us she may regress), she still takes 4 8oz bottles a day, naps every day at 10 for three hours, she now has 4 teeth on bottom and 4 on top. 

As thrilled as I was to learn about all of that, I absolutely ate up all the info they gave me about "her".  Her foster mother says she is a cheerful little girl, and always in a good mood.  She demonstrates a stubborn side too, they are trying to train her to drink from a cup which apparently she doesn't like so she refuses to do it, but if given the straw she insists on she has no trouble at all.  She likes to play with her foster brother and sister, who are older one is 13/14 the other 11/12, which Peyton and Ian are excited about.  They reported that she likes music, and to play peek a boo, and "cell phone"!  I know, what?!  Thinking the older kiddos have something to do with this.  The social worker commented that she loved having her picture taken, so we may have a diva on our hands.

Such a sweetie
The pouty face
I just can't wait to get to know her, and for her to know us.  First approval please please come soon.
Such gorgeous eyes
Diva!
 Pictures of the first care package we sent.  It had to weigh less than one pound and fit flat in a gallon ziploc bag.  I did manage to squeeze in a head band and ruffly white hat at the last minute.  The sparkly pink album is pictures of our family, hopefully she will start to be familiar with our faces.  We can't send another one till the end of June (sigh, sigh, sigh...)






Friday, April 26, 2013

Peyton: Birthday Letter at 12

To my first born, my brilliant, gorgeous 12 year old boy, 

It's actually been a month (March 26) since we celebrated your twelfth birthday.  I'm still having trouble grasping the fact that it has been twelve years since you were born.  There are so many perks to being the first born, and so many, well what shall we call them...experiments.  I mean let's face we were kinda still kids ourselves when we brought you into the world and everything has been tried on you first, from foods to discipline to going to the doctor whenever you sneezed. There is so much you have actually taught us, and considering how amazing you are I guess we could say your handling our parenting experiments pretty well! 

Here is just a little glimpse of what we see of you a 12:

You read, ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, if you get in trouble at school it's because you have a book in your text book and are worlds away.  You love Greek Mythology, anything about Star Wars, and anything with scientific information.  (This is a shared love from Mom:)

You are a living breathing encyclopedia of Star Wars information.  Ask you any question about any ship or creature, or planet and you rattle it off like it's truth.  This makes your Dad and Papa very very proud.

You love to watch, How it's Made, The History Channel, and the extra DVD that tells you how the movie or cartoon was created (your little brother luvs this, and I quote, "Mom make him let me watch the reeeal movie")

You make straight A's...you never study.  We are in awe of how intelligent you are, a gift from God, surely, because ya didn't get it from either of us!

You like baseball and golf most, and spend a lot of time analyzing your golf shot. 

You collect coins, and have books and folders full of them.

You always have something to say, you always know something about everything...and 99% of the time your right!  You soak up information like a sponge!

(not to embarrass you But..) You still won't go to bed without giving me hugs and kisses, a fact I cherish and hope you never grow out of.

We are both so proud of you and the young man you are turning out to be.  Your future is open bright in front of you and we can't wait to see what you do with it!
Birthday Celebration Bazooka Ball





Saturday, April 6, 2013

Circles and Squares

God has heard our prayers, he has answered.

"If you have faith...you can say to this mountain, 'go throw yourself in the sea' and it will be done."


Here is a copied portion of a June 2012 post, where we asked for prayer.  Pray for provision. The largest obstacle has always been the expense. We knew from the get go we could not do this without God or the support of others. (Thank you for all the support you have already given as we came before you, almost begging, with requests of financial support.) God has already blessed us in so many ways, and every time we have needed funds they have been there. Pray our faith will continue to hold as God helps us move this mountain as he supplies all our needs according to his glory.

Around this same time I read a book, The Circle Maker, and because of it I "circled" our financial adoption needs.  I circled them in prayer, I circled them on paper, I circled them while reading The Word.  I circled and circled.  However, when we were invoiced 2 weeks ago for the remaining country fees and finalization my circles squared up.  I suddenly saw straight lines and angles that had to be addressed.  I experienced some doubt.  I took a deep breath and started planning garage sales, and planned on working even more extra shifts, and started considering putting everything and the kitchen sink up for sale. My husband and I both knew WE could make this happen, we were ready to work even harder, to do whatever it took.  We still are. 

BUT, God had not forgotten about my circles.  He did not see the huge mountain in front of our eyes.  (are you ready for the climax yet...I mean I know right...get to the point already!)
We are rejoicing.  In the past two weeks we have received unexpected funds and donations equaling up to ...guess what....yep the monies we needed to pay our program fees and finalization. 

God is so amazing.  I know this already, but can't help to be amazed anyways.  One day we are going to be able to share this story with our little girl.  One day she will see God moved mountains for her! 

I am overwhelmed with His goodness, His grace, His provision, and His love.

Thank you to everyone, for your prayers and support.  God has heard our cry.  He has seen our circles!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Really?! Our Love Day

I'm not sure if I'll be able to put into words how unbelievable it felt, after 18 months of waiting, to get a call saying "I have a referral for you." 

When we started the process the director of the agency made it clear that we could have up to a three year wait.  At the time, we hadn't yet survived the mountain of paperwork involved to actually get on "the list", and it was impossible to know how long three years would feel.  The excitement of making the decision and starting the process kept us busy and gave us necessary work required to get our daughter home. Looking back on those countless late nights filling out forms, running to doctor appointments, more forms, getting fingerprinted, more forms, home study visits, more forms, trips to the post office, more forms, trips to a notary, more forms...I can't believe we have so much of it behind us.  Then came the waiting period.  Once our dossier was sent to Thailand in Jan. of 2012, all we could do was wait.  Although we were busy, having a few fundraisers, applying for grants, and just with our lives it seemed almost surreal that we were going to adopt.  As the months dragged on and on, as I have written about, my emotions would roller coaster and I would get frustrated with wanting things to happen immediately.  Oh the lessons I am learning, lessons on patience, on giving, on generosity, on parenting, on...well let's just say God has been preparing our entire family during this wait.

But now, part of the wait is over.  On March 20, 2013 at 1:32 p.m., while I was playing the piano, my phone rang.   Let me just say here that if phones could be made to ring by sheer will power alone, mine would have rung a thousand times.  During every referral month, even the early ones, I couldn't stand to be away from my phone, "just in case" it would ring.  When  I finally saw the caller ID, I said out loud, "there it is".  I knew it was "our" call.  I started shaking and had to sit down, letting the phone ring a few times as if to make sure I wasn't imagining it.  When I finally did, the assistant of the Thailand program (who has become my email friend!)  simply said, "I'm so excited to tell you, I have a referral for you.   She is healthy, 16 months old, and simply adorable."  My brilliant response back... "Really?!"  She kind of laughed and said, "Really.  Would you like me to send you her file?"  I, of course, had tears streaming down my face despite the smile that was permanently fixed, as I managed to squeal out a very excited "YES!"

I called Rocky immediately informing him he needed to get home asap, in other words "grow wings and fly buddy".  We had agreed to open the file together so we could see her face for the first time together.  Those last 10 minutes of waiting for him to get home, knowing seeing my daughter's face was just a click away, were almost the most agonizing of the last 18 months.  I did manage to call my mother to share the news.

After what seemed like hours he finally arrived.  We hit the button and saw the most darling little girl.  It took a second to connect the dots...as we slowly made it through the pictures, without saying a word. I realized we were both crying.  "She's beautiful" I said.  We were both speechless for a minute, I think we both were in awe that God had chosen us to be the parents of THIS child.  A child we had loved and prayed for, a child we so desperately wanted for our own, now didn't seem like a dream anymore.  Her face is now the one we look at, the one we see when we close our eyes and pray.  I now know and understand, what every one said all along, "the right child at the right time".  She is without question the daughter chosen for us and we are her family.  What an amazing gift, a blessing to great to put into words. 

Love Day, Letter to Isabel

My very precious daughter,

In August of 2011 you were born in our hearts as we made the decision to adopt. On November 30, 2011, weighing in at 6lbs 2 oz and 18.5 inches tall, you made your entrance into the world! And quoting from Nancy Tillman, On the Night You Were Born, "Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born." 

Since I can't whisper these words in your ear, just yet, I write this letter to you because it is another very special day.  It is your Love Day.  March 20, 2013 at 1:32 p.m.  we received a phone call.  A phone call telling us about the little girl who had been growing in our hearts for 18 months...You.  How we laughed and cried.  Your Dad and I were simply speechless as we looked at the pictures of your face, the most beautiful little girl we had ever seen.  How my heart rejoiced, but my arms ached.  Ached to hold you close, safe, and loved in my arms. 

You are so special baby girl.  So special.  We can't wait to bring you home to celebrate Love Days, Gotcha Days, Birthdays, and to be with you every day.  Until then I'm blowing you kisses and sending angels to watch over you.  

Loving You Beyond Words,

Mom

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Girl

 
Because the video won't always work! 
Isn't she gorgeous!
 
 
 
I promise to write how it all happened soon!  I'm busy filling out official acceptance paperwork and putting together a care package so it can all be sent to Thailand!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Introducing Isabel Siriphon Strand

Our Love Day Has Arrived:  March 20,2013

(push play and wait about 30 seconds...or more...)

video
 
If you have trouble try moving the play circle back to the beginning..or just clicking randomly like I do until it decides to play!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The latest...

Yes. I realize it has been a month and a half since I wrote anything.  I could pretend it's because the holiday season got away with me and I just haven't had the time.  But that's not entirely true.  We did have a wonderful Christmas, and have been very busy, but the truth is I'm just so ready to write THE post.  You know, the post where I announce to the world that we have a daughter.  I had little hopes for December, but it was not meant to be, and so here we are waiting for a March group.  My heart is aching at the fact that it may still not be the group matching us with our daughter.  Honestly, I have moments when I wonder if it really is going to happen.  Normal, I hear, but painful moments none the less.  Of course it will all happen at the perfect moment, and we will bring her home at the perfect time...words I say at least once a day.  Every moment the thought of her is in the back of my mind, the intensity of those thoughts makes my heart hurt.  Intensity I am coping with, as I'm sure it will magnify once I see her little face and we continue to wait for the proper paper work to go through the proper channels.  And so, that is why I haven't blogged.

A bit of excitement.  I of course have applied to several grants.  And by several I mean I forget how many.  Many of the grant apps are extremely lengthy and detailed, but I figure it's worth it to apply.  Many are swamped with applicants, and obviously not everyone can be awarded.  We did receive the grant from Show Hope I've discussed before, and I have received a lot of 'we regret to inform you' letters.  I thought we had heard back from every one we submitted to, but January 5th I opened the mail to find a check for $1000 from an organization called Families Outreach in Arkansas.  I of course cried and jumped up and down, and called all the necessary people who I knew would cry and jump with me.  My husband, who did not cry or jump:), stated very calmly, "And the doors just keep opening." I assure you I cried and jumped enough for us both!  Mountains are moving people.  Check out those numbers on our timeline.  A year ago they seemed insurmountable, and now look at all those COMPLETED. It is of course not lost on me that in our prayers for direction and provision we have to be patient for God to Direct and to Provide.  Which really is what helps me get through the moments when I am just "so done" waiting. 

We became affiliates with Ordinary Hero recently.  The ordinary hero storefront has everything from apparel to jewelry, to donations for kids around the world, and if TeamStrand is selected at checkout we receive 40% of the proceeds, these funds are mailed directly to our agency.  Check it out at www.ordinaryhero.org  We will probably be promoting it more once we receive our referral.  Or you can just donate directly at www.grouprev.com/isabelstrand

In other news, we really have been busy.  Peyton and Ian started upward basketball, which is a GREAT program.  They have practice once a week with a bible study and verse learning included, and one game where we pray with the refs to start the game, and listen to testimonies at half time.  All the kids get to play regardless of skill.  It's very positive and one of my favorite activities they are involved in. 

We are busy at church trying to plan activities for our youth group and fulfill our roles in praise and worship.  I want to take a moment to say how much we love our church and all the people in it.  We have great leadership and friends in our Pastor Darrell Faire and his wife Sheila.  They are such huge supporters and have written so many recommendation letters for all those grants.  We are blessed to serve and grow under their ministry and vision. 

 
We took the boys to a ski lodge in St. Louis over the weekend.  Rocky grew up skiing and makes it look effortless.  I have been with him several times over the past 14 years but can never quite seem to master my fear enough to make the skis do what they should.  I am happy to say I learned how to stop correctly, instead of snow plowing the entire way, an enormous accomplishment if you know me at all and my lack of coordination.  We had fun 'family time', the boys had a blast and we came away without any broken bones!  I will not comment on the state of our muscles however!
 



No other news I can think of, oh except we did move up on the list to number 5, after an unexpected referral in early January.  One number at a time.