Thursday, April 29, 2010

Finances & Popsicles from the Schwan's Man

OK so I want to be REAL about finances. We didn't share much before about our journey with Naomi, because we know that sometimes public blogs - well we didn't feel comfortable. So now that the saga is over goes.

The ridiculous reason we were rejected by US C*S for Naomi's adoption - was because our income is not big enough on it's own to meet poverty guidelines. However, we get FREE housing in our 5 bed, 3 bath, nice home, we also get all of our utilities paid- all electrics, all water, all phone, all internet, you get the idea. On top of which we do receive a subsidy for some of our children whom we adopted through the foster care system. Of course there is a tiny little clause that - they "caught" this time to not allow us to use that. Hmmm....funny how that didn't come up during our adoption of Jonathan- huh?

When we presented plenty of information about our benefits - what they are worth etc. The governm*nt chose to ignore it, and deny us anyway. Now we also happen to know through our SW that this lady has issues (and she is the only person who does adoption - through the New Orleans office). Like skin color, large family- hate issues. So there you have it. We will continue to pray for her & others.

So anyway- on with finances. Since we technically pulled out of our adoption through All God's Children International, and it really was not their fault anyway- we LOST a LOT OF MONEY! We had paid for everything except travel. Hasta la vista $20,000 ish give or take. We DO NOT harbor bad feelings about this, because 1) it wouldn't help & WE LOVE AGCI!!!!!!!!!! 2) we know it is not a fight against flesh & blood 3) it is only money. I know most of you are saying- WHAT? Only money???? Yes, and it is NOT OURS! It is God's! So we choose to leave that in God's hands- not ours!

We had already started saving for whatever God was going to provide for our next adoption. Which covered all the travel expenses and the fee we paid to Christian Adoption Consultants. So what does that leave us with? Well.....debt, and as I posted in my last post- it is the only debt that is REALLY WORTH IT!

I am going to be real- we have 20,000 to pay off. We have again saved, and cut out, and today in the mail we got a letter from AGCI. Stating that the post placement report money that they were holding as security in return for the reports- yep you got it- we are getting that refunded! Wohooo! So that takes us down to $15,500 to go.

I will be changing our adoption funds thermometer at the side. Now you all know, and the truth is out there. To those who have already been soooo gracious and donated- WE CAN NOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH WE APPRECIATE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are thrilled that we have had so much support. To encourage you, although we were not able to bring Naomi home (not her real name- that was the name we were going to give her) she is coming home & her family is flying over- now!!!!!! Isn't that AWESOME!!!!!

Now you say- what about the popsicles from the Schwan's man?? Well, I like to think about all the wonderful gifts that we have been given over the years- gifts from God. Things like how we have been handed money from strangers, church members, etc. Sometimes someone has said why don't you buy all your kids some ice cream, or this is for your meal (out- which is very rare), or this is for something for your kids, or this is for your adoption.....Many Blessings! So today we were on a walk down our mile long road to get to the camp & back. The Schwan's men were doing a delivery to our neighbor (the only neighbor on our road here in the out back country) and stopped- got out, and said would your kids like some popsicles? Would they? Now that is a silly question :) So yes all 7 of our older children (sorry Joanna no popsicles for you yet) and myself even got a bomb pop. It was cool and delicious! Thank you God for your wonderful provision - for random acts of kindness!

**Please continue to pray for Chrissie & Abby & Sarah , and so many others blogs that I follow. I adore them all, and these BLESSED children remind me so much of my miracle life. I just know that God is watching over them all!!!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PRAYING & Honesty

PRAYING RIGHT NOW- PLEASE PRAY WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK so this award says I have to say 10 things honestly about myself....hmmm......

1) I Love being in control- he he he- that is honest, but not always good.

2) I LOVE TO TALK- again not really rocket science, but very very true!

3) I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!! Wow, that was not a shocker either- sorry.....not really wowing anyone am I? Being a mommy is my favorite thing and is a great act of worship as well :)

4) I have at least 4 lists going at all times! Prayer list, family to do list, things to buy list (grocery etc.), and work to do list. I am a list person. It is how I try to keep sane :)

5) I love Mt. Dew & candy!!! I can't help it. I have stopped my addiction before, but I really don't want to so I don't long term. Hey, I don't do this is my caffeine fix :)

6) I pray that God will give us as many children as HE thinks we can handle. However more that may be???? Can't wait to find out.

7) I am the kind of person to say what I think. Again, not really a stretch if you have ever met me ;) It gets me into lots of trouble, but there you go.

8) I love talking about God, miracles, adoption, knowing Christ, children, my husband (who is the BESTEST EVER!), camp, and ministries in general! I will speak in front of large groups, small groups, or individuals!

9) I am a financial controller- I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with money. Right now - personally - not stressed, but hate having a loan. We did this for Joanna's adoption. I HATE doing loans, but if I could think of any reason to have one- it would be a child! They never depreciate, they always gain interest, and ALWAYS WORTH WAY MORE THAN the loan price :)

10) I love the blog world. No surprise there- have said this before, but the support we feel. The love sent over the computer world.....BLESS us more than you can imagine, unless of course you feel the same. It has inspired, uplifted, held us in prayer, helped us survive hard times, and surrounded us when we needed it. Some of you have said thanks for leaving a comment or supporting us, etc.- but there is nothing that tops a community of believers that stick together!!! Thank You ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So 10 more to be tagged......later- need to hold the baby :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Camera & some of my favorite baby things

OK - so this is one thing most babes can't live without, but Joanna doesn't seem to really enjoy it very much....yet. What I really love is the clip for it. It is a MAM, but any pacifier is good to me. It just depends on what your baby likes :)
I love the floating socks that you find in the oddest of places?
Awwww.....they just look so cute!
I love our little bottle basket thing. Not sure what it is called, but you can buy one at W*l-Mart or Targ*t. They are nifty and you don't have to worry about them getting all over your dishwasher.
I love the giant infant formula cans at S*m's Club. This family is all about the bulk buying. Thank goodness the regular formula agrees with our angel. I love the VentAir* bottles (we also have some of the Playt*x disposibles for trips out (saves on clean up- not good for trash I get it.) The "baby gas x" also known as gas relief for babies. Definitely good for helping babies get rid of some of the gas. I also love our bottle brush- makes me smile to have some of these things in our home again There is even a pull out little one in the bottom for the nipple brush. Ohhhhh baby stuff!
Love our little swing :) I think she likes it too, but the other kids every time she is in it - surround her :) he he he he It is sometimes good for fussy times, but to be honest I like holding her a bit to much for her to be in the swing that much. :)
See- this is where she belongs! With me (and yes daddy has one too, but not a baby blue with brown hearts one). YES- this one is safe. It is a breathable material, and when she is in it her face can be seen. And yes when she is in it - I am always massaging her, holding her, looking at her (hello she is gorgeous!!!), and making sure she is fine. This is a Hot Sling!!! LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!
A cheap find at Wally world.....makes it simpler to give a bath in a sink or tub and very inexpensive. It's like a lounge chair for babies :)
Her bassinet of course is adorable. It plays music, the little lambs can spin, and there is a night light. Now most of the time - we only use the features during the day. At night she goes to bed pretty well for the most part. She did sleep in bed with us for the first few weeks. Now she has her own (most of the time) :)
Her little cuddle U which is great if you have to set her down - anywhere for a few seconds or minutes. Like I said she is usually in my lap or sling. It is also great for your children when they are holding her or feeding her because it lifts them up a bit. So it is definitely useful. Also great for tummy time rather than rolling up towels or blankets.
This is her newest fun thing- It is called Swaddle Me!!! LOVE IT!!! Besides my sling- it is my favorite! It is helpful for making baby feel safe & cuddled at night! HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!!! It is recommended by pediatric doctors to help prevent SIDS because it is a light breathable material that helps your child go to sleep better and stay asleep as well. TRY IT!!!!!! Only around $10.
Awww... pink car seat! When our other children were younger they didn't have the gender specific seats. So we are loving the pink things!!!!
The all important diaper bag- and not that it is really important, but it matches my sling :) Lots of compartments :)
I love seeing all of this beside my sink! I love having baby things around my home again!!!!

Don't get me wrong - I love toddlers that have stolen my heart as well, and look forward to a day that we welcome older sibling groups to our home as well. But, babies are cute. It's good too for when they wake you up at all hours of the night!

So if you wonder why I haven't blogged as much lately - well this is April/May time and for our work it is the busiest time of the year - getting ready for summer camps. Once summer hits we have lots of staff help, up until then- it's all on us. So that is part of it, but mostly because I just love staring a LOT at Joanna. It's true! I just can't help myself.

I love seeing & feeling her whispy, soft as down feathers hair. I love seeing her tiny toes. I love holding her tiny fingers. I love seeing her BEAUTIFUL FACE! I love watching her move. I love watching as she holds up her head (seriously at a few days she was already starting to hold up her own head!). I love seeing her eyes full of wonder as she constantly looks around. I love meeting her needs - before she even cries most of the time. I love hearing her new gurgles and squeaky baby sounds. I love listening to her breathing.

SHE IS A MIRACLE! I mean- for God to create this tiny girl and then give her to us to raise for HIM! How much more could we need?

I also REALLY LOVE to see the kids oohhhh & awwww over her! It is soooo cute to see them Love on her ALL the time! I also love to talk to her & so does the rest of the family. You know a lot of people worry...I mean we have a larger family.....will she get the attention she needs? Will she receive enough love? Will she still be spoiled like a baby should be? YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Probably even more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So - I will try to get back to doing more blogging, but just know I still am reading your blogs as much as possible, but I have this tiny miracle that I AM SOOO IN LOVE WITH!!!

**My sermon for some reason has not been put on the website yet???
***I am doing a book review & head up I LOVE IT and will be posting about it soon. If you want more info- stay tuned :)
****Oh yeah the new camera- is a Cannon Power Shot SX120 IS We like it so far, and it isn't too expensive.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Working Weekend

Hi there - this is Jason making one of my rare posts on our family's blog. A couple of things to share with you:

  1. If you ever read our blog you will no doubt by now have been uplifted and encouraged by Dawn's words. She has a gift to share a message the Lord has given her and put it into words that touch your heart! Last Sunday, right in the midst of the spiritual battle we were going through, she gave the message at our church. We had a "Camp Sunday", and so Dawn and I led the worship music and Dawn gave the message. In fact just minutes before starting the service was when a huge spiritual attack happened - imagine that, right before Dawn was going to share the truth of God's Word!!! I guess she must have been doing something right for Satan to have been that awful to us. Praise God that our God's power is stronger, and "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Normally the sermons are recorded and uploaded to our church's website, but Dawn's is not there yet! I so wanted to share that with you. When it's there we will let you know, so you can visit and listen. Take this as a "teaser", so you will check back soon and click the link to listen!!!!
  2. This weekend is our Counselor-In-Training weekend (CIT) at our camp. This is where young people who are 14 or older this summer who want to volunteer their time at camp come and receive some training on what's involved and how to lead others. It's a busy time with me cooking the meals, Dawn leading parts of the training and so on, so we do some trading off and "tag team" with work and the kids. The kids have been helping me in the kitchen, one at a time, having Daddy time in the kitchen. It's been fun, and they've been doing an awesome job! I wanted to share this picture with you. It's obviously Dawn in a rare photographic appearance on our blog, with Joanna at the door ready to go do "check in" for the kids coming to camp this weekend, and lead some activities. This is what I call a working mom. And, Dawn reported when she got home that Joanna slept the whole time. Who wouldn't sleep snuggled next to Mommy for a few hours! She slept right through the "jump up and down" songs and everything! Enjoy!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spiritual Warfare pics right now- our camera well let's just say with several little hands sometimes things happen and um....yeah it's time to go shopping to get another. Ooooppsss.

So yesterday & Saturday & throughout the nights......we have been facing something. Something not normal everyday. Or at least not what most people think of as everyday. We have been facing Spiritual Warfare. What is that- you ask????

Well I do not pretend to be a great theologian. I have never gone to seminary......but I do know that there are times and situations in our lives that are not of God. Not that God is not present - guarding, and protecting, but there are times when we are attacked. Well we have been attacked. Without going into too much detail- it was from people we thought were on our side. That always makes it harder when the attack comes from friends- people that are supposed to have your back. People that say one thing and do another.

It has to do specifically with the camp. For those of you who don't know Jason and I are camp directors of a Christian Camp. It is great! WE live and work at the camp. We host retreats all year long on most weekends. We train summer staff and get to sort of play temporary mommy and daddy to these wonderful young people who are seeking God with all their hearts. We get to lead worship all summer, and lead staff bible studies, and lead campers to a walk with Christ or a closer walk with HIM! I mean- how does it get any better than that?

There are some issues when you are fighting for those that are lost. Wanting to show Christ to as many as possible! Wanting the whole world to see HIM in a much closer and deeper way! That is- it is a FIGHT! It doesn't come easy. WE have been in the camping ministry for over 10 years full time and were both summer staff for many years before that. We have experienced many times, battles over what God was going to be using later for HIS GLORY!

So the key is really that when things happen- don't just think it is no big deal- the opposite is true. It is a BIG DEAL, because it can either go terribly wrong on your part or it can be turned around- by GOD ONLY! HOW? Well, if you let these things bug you and take over your time, your every thought, your time with God, your attitude- then you are letting the enemy win.

When you surrender every thought that is taking your mind off of what it needs- Christ, prayer time, Scripture time, focusing on your husband/wife, children, you are giving those things literally to your FATHER & letting HIM deal with your enemy. When you try to do it on your own YOU WILL FAIL! You will sink into depression, you will start having bad attitudes, you will forget your closeness with Christ, you will make up excuses as to why you can't make time for what is most important....and therefore fall flat.

It is a real battle for our minds. Therefore scripture gives us some clear guidance as to the truth & the TRUTH is we should never be afraid of Spritual Warfare- why?

1 John 4:4 "You, dear Children, are from God and have overcome them, because the ONE who is IN YOU is GREATER than the one who is in the world."

Ephesians 6:12-13 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armore of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stnad your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Philipians 4:4-9 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or recieved or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

When satan tries to attack you- make you think you are weak (we are all weak, but not with the power of GOD!), make you think that God has forgotten about you, tries to whisper all kinds of ridiculous things in your ear......PRAY, fast, read HIS WORD, get on your knees, go before HIS THRONE, and know that OUR GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANYTHING - ANY LIES whispered in your ears.

If we are God's then our lives have been bought with a price- God's OWN BLOOD shed for our sins. Our short falls have been cancelled. Our sins erased time and time again- and forgotten. When someone tries to tell you otherwise- RUN TO HIM!!! Rest in HIS ARMS and KNOW that HE ALONE can GIVE YOU REST! When the darts start flying- know your ARMOR!!!

Praying for all to KNOW HIM!

Friday, April 16, 2010

What does it feel like to adopt?

Enjoy these beautiful pictures of Joanna Faith Wright- taken by Dorean Beattie while she was hosting the 2 of us. The wait until Pennsylvania gave the ok to leave. They were so wonderful in taking great care of us. Including the fact that she is a photographer and captured these great shots of our sweetie!!!!

Oh so tiny :)
Who says babies don't smile? Ours does!

So what does it feel like to adopt? Well- it is LOVE in action. You know most people say I just don't know if I could love an adopted child like I love my own.

First- your child is your child whether they are adopted or born to you. Just a clarification.

The difference if there is any- is that your adopted children may come to you at hours old or at 12 years old or even older. They may know of their history....which may or may not be hard to deal with. They may have special medical needs or not. They may have special emotional needs or may not. the way I see it- they are really VERY MUCH LIKE having biological children. Sometimes you think- what in the world? Other times you jump for joy at the progress they have made. They are a source of sheer joy & sheer pain. Sometimes it is frustrating, sometimes it is completely wonderful!

Adoption is a choice - a conscientious vision that parents have for their family. What makes people make that choice? A CALLING! From Christ. A calling that says those crazy things that you may have to do to help your child. Those moments of all the WAITING that drive you crazy- you deal with. Why- because it is a choice to love even when you personally may not even have met your child/ren yet.

It is similar to marriage. It is a forever agreement. It doesn't mean it is always easy. You don't always feel like dealing with that other person. You may not even always feel a deep love for them. You may feel at times like you want to break that commitment. You may feel like it just isn't working. (**disclaimer I know there are some reasons an adoption may have to be dissolved, but I believe that it should be taken very very seriously- just like marriage should be!) BUT if you believe that God is the ultimate healer then you have hope for them- NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!!!

So what does it feel like- it is the hardest, most joyful, painful, wonderfully sweet, agonizing, prayerful, difficult, and yet so worth it experience EVER! If you have never considered adoption. I pray you do. I pray that you don't let any negative stories on tv land change a deep sense of calling that God lays on your heart. I pray that you will never let anyone stand in your way. Whether it be because people say you don't earn enough, or that you already have too many children, or that it will be hard (hello everything in life worth anything is hard work :).

Encourage you all to pray about it for yourselves, and if you have adopted how can you encourage others around you?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coming Home to Louisiana!!!

Guess what we were doing when we got - The Call to COME HOME to Louisiana??? Well Baby Girl was sleeping in her car seat. Yes, she was out of my arms for more than 15 minutes- VERY RARE!!! We got the call around 2pm ish last Wednesday........
The kids- playing....
Hanging around the van......
Plane Spotting- yep- if you have a husband who is a fanatic about planes this is what you do for fun. So the kids were watching & daddy too the planes coming in. At the Houston's George Bush Airport plane spotters area- you can almost be underneath the planes. The kids loved it and squealed every time they spotted a new one coming. Daddy was telling them which size etc they were- of course.
Some of Joanna's first pics home with mommy....
Welcome home baby girl...
Daddy's surprise for me a little bassinet/rocker. It was a fun surprise, and it matched perfectly with our new comforter we bought while in England in November. Of course Jason admitted he didn't even think of it. He he he- yep probably not, but it matches perfectly in our room anyway!
There is always a crowd around Joanna staring at her beauty in our home! REALLY! The kids all adore her, and love her soo much. Even Jonathan!

Daddy says- look baby this is your new forever home!
Daddy- I am a little tired....
Our welcome home posters from the kids & Big Sarah (the young lady who works with us year round at the camp- who lives a few hundred yards from our home on the camp).

This amazing young lady - who took care of all 7 (that were at home) children for all of Friday, Saturday, & Sunday- THANK YOU!!!!!! We couldn't have done this without you Big Sarah!
She was trying to give us our space on Thursday when we came home and wasn't going to bug us....but I knew she couldn't WAIT to hold this precious we went to her house around lunch time to surprise her! As you can see- she is very very very happy!!!!
OK - so of course we had to go get some more baby stuff right?? So here is Joanna showing off her Cuddle U- (same as a Boppie).
This looks hilarious like a big diaper, but is supposed to hold the baby so they don't wiggle out....she of course makes it look cute!!!!
So on Friday we took a trip to a state park about an hour away to an arboretum. Went on a few miles hiking fun. See how Jonathan looks at Joanna. All the kids are constantly looking after her. In fact they often ask- Where is Joanna? Most of the time - with mommy or daddy!!! :)
Saturday we went to the zoo. Like the matching shirts? Unfortunately Joanna doesn't have one that she is still pretty in pink instead.
Daddy holding Joanna during the elephant show.
That is one big seat!!!

Here is baby girl in the bath- well actually in our sink. Saying- well screaming actually- get me out!!!! She does NOT like bath time, but sorry sweetie- has to be done anyway.
Ahhhh---- this is much better- cuddle time in a towel afterward.......
Trying to tell her I love her and am moving quickly- she is NOT convinced. mommy's arms where she should be!

So things since coming home have been going really well!!! Except the sleeping.....she has her days and nights confused!!! She sleeps all day, and is up all night!!!! The worst to date- she woke ever 30-45 minutes one night during my watch. As I sat there praying for strength I remember thinking this is not fun, but she is healthy, home, and a blessing- NO MATTER WHAT! I do have to say lack of sleep is really really hard for me. It is a miracle I am still surviving.

Jason and I do take turns- wonderful part of bottle feeding. So usually she gets up about 20 minutes after we go to bed, eats, then stays awake for a few hours, then sleeps for a few hours, wakes up again, sleeps for another few hours.....then we are all up. So as you can see the sleeping needs some work.

She is an easy baby though besides that- she rarely fusses at all!!!! AMAZING!!!!!

People keep asking so I will post it here: Joanna is not the first newborn for us- Matthew came home to us from the hospital as a preemie, Andrew came to us at 7 weeks, & Elizabeth came at 5 1/2 months....all the others were toddlers.

I just can't believe the miracle!!!! If you have read all 3 parts to Joanna's miracle story go back a few posts- it still blows my mind!!!!!