And the waiting continues

Seeming as it's almost tomorrow, I'm going to officially say that we are on DAY 30 of our LOA wait! THIRTY!!! 3-0! Whew, it's been the longest, quickest 30 days of my life. Ha!
I feel like I've been doing pretty well with this last-unknown-duration wait. Plenty of things have been occupying our time, like getting a Kindergartener and a First grader ready for school (eek!!!), building a new princess bed for Oakley's new bedroom, and getting the room for the boys ready. None of that is completely finished, which means I should have plenty of 'stuff' to keep me busy for the next few weeks of wait.
There have been a few rough days, where it feels like there is this hole in my mama-heart just waiting for our little guy to fill. So many emotions...nerves, excitement, worry, love, fear, joy... kind of like the movie Inside Out, with ALL of the emotions going nuts at the drivers seat AT. THE. SAME. TIME.
With all of that being said, I am sincerely trying to live each day, experience each day the Lord has blessed me with, and enjoy every minute of this process. I know it's true that the next three months will go by in the blink of an eye, and before you know it, we'll be a united family of five.

Prayer Requests:
-As always, Z. His preparation, transition, and knowledge of his new family and new life
-Our LOA. This is the Letter of Acceptance from the Chinese government. We'd love to have this by mid-August, which would let us travel in November. After we get our LOA, we'll begin the private Facebook page where we'll be able to share much more information about Z.
-My friend, Gina. We'd love to travel together! As selfish as it is, I want our paperwork to stick together like glue so we can finish this great process together.
-Finances - the need hasn't changed, but the date has gotten closer. HE is always in control, and I'm still trusting that!

Thank you for going down this road with our family!!


An amazing heartbreak

Folks, last night I witnessed an amazing, heart wrenching, tear-jerking, jealousy invoking experience.

You see, this adoption world that I find myself in is so much more than I thought it would be. There are several dozens of other mamas out there going through the same parts of the process that we are, and thanks to social media, we have a place to connect, share, cry, rejoice, and bond on such a special level. Don't get me wrong, I call my Mama with every piece of new news there is. She gets excited with me, frustrated along side me, and she might get just as emotional as I get at times, but there's nothing like going along side another person who's walking in the same pair of shoes you are...which leads me to last night.

A friend named Stephanie, who happens to work at the same hospital I do, has also been going through this adoption process. Through a mutual friend and social media, she's graciously become one of my greatest sounding boards, giving me direction, advice, and words of experience (since she's BTDT: been there, done that!). She, along with her husband and one of her daughters, set off to bring her son home about two weeks ago. What an amazing journey they've had! I consider myself blessed to have been able to witness it with the perspective of another mama with a longing heart.

I might add that before the airport last night, Stephanie and I had never actually met in person! We'd chatted so many times in messages, but with the hustle and bustle of the life, we hadn't found a time to meet up.

Seeing their family come into the baggage area was pretty surreal. The joy in their faces, in the faces of their friends and family...it was overwhelming. The moment that I saw their son, I completely lost it. It escalated from a few tears to ugly crying in about 3.2 seconds. I thought I'd prepared myself pretty well, but the water works is hereditary (thanks, Mom). It was such a mixture of emotions, and one that I wasn't expecting to pop in there was jealousy. Seeing their family, mixed with the longing for Z in my heart, I couldn't help but want to be in their places. I wanted it to be November (or December...whenever it will happen) already. I wanted to be coming off of that plane completing my family.

It's amazing the bond and longing you can have for a child that you've not even met. I am willing to *literally* cross oceans to get to Z. I don't care if I'm in debt for the next twenty years, every penny is worth it...because he is worth it. I'm not sure that anyone's ever told him that he is worth it

So for now, I wait. I look (and look, and look again) at the same pictures of him every day, wondering if he's ok. Wondering if he's warm, or scared, or lonely, or afraid... 
but my comfort is in knowing that my God, the one who made you and me, is here with us, as well as holding Z in the palm of His hand. He's protecting him, comforting him, and preparing him for his forever family. That is where I find my peace. 


Canvases for Z!

Are you loving this new look!? I kind of did it on accident last night, but the page was in great need of a makeover, anyhow. 

As you may know, getting crafty is one of my favorite outlets. Give me a canvas, some paints, paper and other whatnots, and I'm in relaxation heaven. It clears my head. I could seriously get lost for hours working away on a canvas.
Recently, I made these two canvases with no real purpose for them, except to get some of my crazy out.

First of all, I'm the biggest critique of my own work. I hate the thought of something I made being rejected!
Second, how in the world do people price their own work?! Never again. I swear not to. Period.
That being said, I'm giving these another go. For any donation amount, one of these little ladies could be yours! I'm also up for doing customized pieces, if you have a specific color theme or look you're wanting.

Comment on this post if you're interested, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!


The closest thing

A few months ago, a friend and talented photographer volunteered to do a family photo shoot for images needed for our dossier. Somehow, I managed to not do a post about them!! Consider this my 'paper pregnancy brain', forgive the delay, and take a gander at her talent :)

All 5 of us. This is the closest thing we can get to a family picture right now.
There's a peace knowing that the next time we have pictures taken, Z will be right in there with us - in person, not in a picture!

Can you see Oakley? She snuck a clover bud in the picture. Typical Sissy!!

She definitely went above and beyond!! The photos worked perfectly in our book. Be sure to head over to her Facebook page and leave her some love!!


When Updates...well, aren't.

This adopting thing is hard. Rewarding? Yes. Worth it? YES. There are a few lights that sustain you along the waiting journey, and child updates are one of those lights along the path. A new picture of your child, updated measurements, and some questions answered.
The papers at the top are our dossier that was sent to China.
The colored pictures, stuffed animal, photo book and coloring book are Z's transition items that he should be getting any day!

4 weeks ago, we submitted a short list of questions to Z's orphanage through our adoption agency. Updates usually take 2-4 weeks to come back, and yesterday, we received the answers we'd been waiting for.

Well, kind of.

Two of the questions we asked had something lost in translation on one end or the other, and the 'answers' made little sense. Our agency is getting clarification on those.

The updated measurements / weight did little good, seeming as multiple measurements were the same numbers we were given six months ago.

Onto some helpful news, we did find out that he is currently attending Kindergarten!! This is great news, because we're hoping he'll have a more natural transition to American schools if he's been exposed to that type of environment before. I'm not quite sure what's typically expected of Kindergarteners in the Chinese school systems, but the person writing this update seemed quite impressed that he could not only write his name (in Chinese characters), but he could also write 0-50, several simple characters, and was also able to write other school children's names, too.
He also chooses his own clothing and dresses himself, and can also make his bed (better than my kiddos here do!). He helps younger children around the orphanage in eating, dressing, and washing their faces.
We keep seeing how the Lord has hand picked our family for him, because his favorite animals are said to be chickens and ducks (check, and check!). They also mentioned pigs, but I think having two out of three favorites here at the house will suffice!

In Z's original file, the photos included were priceless. He was smiling, happy, and playing; he seemed really comfortable with the people around him. To be candid, I struggled a little bit yesterday looking at his updated photos. We were provided with three new photos that appear to have been taken this past Monday, and he looked so incredibly sad. In one picture, it even looks like he had just stopped (or was just about to start) crying...which made me cry.
I find it simply amazing how God has weaved him  into our hearts so early in this process to the point that we would do anything to get to him just to love him!!

With all of that being said, here is a new list of prayer requests:
  1. Prayers for Z.     In my heart I realize how hard this whole thing will be for him, and Dan and I, two strangers, are going to be the only ones there to comfort him. Pray for his courage, an open mind and a heart that's ready for a family.
  2. Prayers for paperwork: Our papers are in translation in China. After translation, they'll go to the match review process. These two steps can take 8-10 weeks. We're being bold in our faith and praying for 6-7 weeks. This would potentially put us traveling in November.
  3. Prayers for families: You guys, there are so many people going through this process right along side us right now. Thanks to Facebook groups, we've connected, bonded, and are truly in this together. I can already tell that some of these people will be friends for life. Specifically, a friend named Gina is on an identical timeline as us. Prayers not only for their little guy and his transition, but that our paperwork would stick together like glue through this process, so we could end up traveling together and finish this process we've started -- together!!
  4. Prayers for finances: Thanks to your help, we continue to make progress along the financial lines, but we still have a HUGE mountain ahead of us. Even if you're not able to physically or financially assist right now, please be sure to 'like' and 'share' our Facebook posts for fundraisers. The more people who 'like' and 'share' our posts, the more other people can see the events, too!
    We're planning on launching a T-shirt fundraiser very soon. These will be able to be shipped directly to you, so you can contribute no matter where you are! Keep an eye on BringingHomeZ for the latest on that.
The time will be coming very soon when we'll be making a private Facebook group for our travel. This is where I'll *finally* feel comfortable to share his real name, his pictures, and specific information about our travel plans. That group will be formed once we get our LOA (Letter of Approval) in 8-10 (or 6-7!) weeks.

Friends, THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We've really seen what an amazing support group we have in this life by your prayers, your actions, and your presence. Thank you for being the Lord's hands and feet for us!!



Called Upon the Water

Oakley wasn't feeling too well yesterday morning, so we missed going to church this Palm Sunday. It seems that it whether or not I attended a service, God had a message to get to me, and I heard it, loud and clear.

Our adoption social worker keeps Sunday office hours, it seems. We got an email yesterday from her with a rough draft of our home study. Keep in mind, I was expecting it by today, but it still caught me off guard. It's almost like I have dual angels on my shoulders, one shouting and dancing with each step in progress (because progress is good! Getting closer to having Z home!!), and the other angel menacingly whispering that each step means that money, our biggest obstacle in this journey, will be due that much sooner. As I was thinking about the upcoming deadlines, I started to think about Matthew 14.

I've already addressed Matthew 14 previously in our adoption process (loaves and fishes, remember?), but the Lord drew me to the next few verses today:
The disciples were in a boat, and in the mist of the morning, Jesus walked toward them, standing on the water. The guys thought He was a ghost, and they kind of freaked out a bit, but Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter (the brave little soul) said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” Jesus said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind, there went the faith, and he started to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Without even going into Peter's story, I feel like there are a few things we can tell about him from this:
 -He loves and follows Jesus: The loaves and fishes thing happened at dinner the night before. Jesus sent the disciples onto the boat while He sent the crowd away (bellies full, no less!). Jesus didn't come to them on the water until sunrise the next morning, meaning they waited all night on the boat for his return. I sure wouldn't wait all night on a boat for something I wasn't passionate about!
 -He trusts Jesus: Thinking Jesus was a ghost, they were probably wondering if they stood better chances going overboard or confronting the spirit. When Peter questions Him, he wants the impossible proved to know it is Him. I mean, who else could enable him to walk on water?? When Jesus says, "Come," it doesn't say that Peter hesitated and thought about it for a minute, or waited for Jesus to get closer to get a better look at the figure of Him; he stepped out the boat. Confident in who Jesus was, he stepped out of the boat, just as if he were getting out of bed in the morning, or standing up from a chair and walking across the room. That. Takes. Trust.

So this is where things get interesting. Here's Jesus, in all the morning mist, hair glistening, I'm sure, standing on the water, and then there's Peter, making his way towards Him. Putting myself in Peter's shoes (or possibly lack thereof), I get it! You're taking a literal huge step of faith, this Jesus knows, and you think you're fully trusting Him! Eyes locked on Him, you take step after step closer to Him...and then comes the wind. Peter saw the wind, or the strength of the wind, and became frightened. He took his eyes off the prize of Jesus. He lost focus of his goal, and started to sink. He let the strength of the wind, which Jesus made, in and through, sway him. When it was calm, it was easy. It's when his faith was tested that he wavered.

As Jesus does, he was teaching Peter, and us...He is teaching me, a lesson. 

Right now, folks, I feel like I'm in the boat. I'm Peter, being a good disciple of Jesus, waiting for Him to return. Our family is responding in obedience to God's call on our lives for adoption. We've said yes, and we're waiting in the boat.
I look into the dawn, and I'm scared of what I see, until I recognize that it's Jesus. Wanting to be sure, ask if I can trust Him, and of course, He says, "Come." We looked into the eyes of a little boy who is a world away, and knew he was our son. 
But Lord, are you sure? We can't afford adoption. Jesus said, "Come."

"You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Though Jesus has given us no reason to doubt His promises, our minds are full of BUT JESUS....BUT WHAT IF.... all the while, He asks, "Why do you doubt?"

I know the path to where He's calling us won't be without wind. I fully expect the wind. So far, our 'wind' is people telling me that my choices don't make a any sense. Our 'wind' is someone telling me that this will never work, and we'll never get the support we need to make this happen. 

But let me tell you, we're keeping our eyes on Jesus. We're keeping our focus on the One who's called us to this task. When Peter faltered and called for help, Jesus immediately caught him, and immediately, He'll catch us. Through the seas of paperwork, the mountains of waiting, and the winds of finances, He will immediately come to our aid.

So, in a little bit more than a nutshell, that's what came to me, in one instant, while curled up on the couch with my little girl. I am by no means cut out to be a preacher or professional writer (that much might already be evident), but I hope that, by getting these thoughts out there, our focus will stay straight, and our travel will come quickly.


It's Not About the Number.

It used to always be about the number.

The scale was the boss of me. It determined what I ate, and more importantly, what I didn't eat. I don't have to greatest track record of getting fit in a healthy way, I'll be the first to admit that.

My New Year's resolution for 2014 was to get back into shape, the right way. I began attending trampoline aerobics, which is AWESOME. Going to a group class has not only given me accountability, but I've made some great friends in the process, too! In the first six months, full of hard work and dedication, I managed to loose 30 pounds, which I'm extremely proud of.

The next six months, I continued to change...I could tell in the way my clothes fit, for sure. The dreaded scale, however, didn't budge. For six months. Talk about throwing the stupid thing out the window!!!

I'm obviously not looking for a quick pop-a-pill fix, but I knew I needed to switch things up somewhere. Looking at my meals, I'm quite the snacker. Eating small meals through the day is great, but I ate three typical meals, with several snacks in between. Mostly chocolate snacks...

Enter CocoaLean.

So I start my morning with a CocoaLean tablet (shaped like a vitamin, tastes like chocolate. I'll take it.), followed by my normal breakfast. Instead of packing a baggie of sugary cereal or pretzels (or both), I chew one or two CocoaLean chews between meals (think chewy chocolate caramel type), and one more tablet before lunch.

I'm still on my trampoline class kick, still eating pretty healthy meals, but I'm also over my dreaded scale plateau! I'm snacking less, and not missing it at all.

If you're see me around, ask me for a chew! They're usually in my pocket at all times! Check them out here, too.

#CompleteNutrition #SuccessStartsHere