Our Journey

This blog is a small peek inside our family's first adventure into the world of adoption. We welcome your encouragement & financial support, but most importantly we appreciate your prayer covering as we climb the mountains & wander the valleys of this incredibly crazy, yet exciting journey God is leading our family on. We also ask for your prayer covering over our new children, wherever & whoever they are, that they will sense God's loving presence as He snuggles them for us, & for protection from satan's evil schemes toward each of us. Though we may be on opposite sides of the globe, or just a few miles apart, we trust God has already been preparing all of us for each other as our family grows again. May all the Glory in this journey go to our Heavenly Father, who adopted each of us as His own beloved sons & daughters.

About Us

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Now I Know What They Meant...

I now understand, first hand, how adoptive parents can say that when they left their child(ren)'s orphanage, they left part of their heart there, and just wanted to take every one of those orphans home.

Today, our whole family, along with other church friends, spent the afternoon at an American orphanage, just interacting with children in transition... playing games, doing crafts projects, and eating pizza with them, being there to brighten their day. When we first walked in, our teenage children initially felt awkward, wondering what to say, and how to act. I just told them to interact with the children like it's just Sunday School or VBS, except that these children might express stronger emotions in a given situation due to the circumstances of their life stories.

It wasn't long until our children realized that children in transition are no different than them, they've just missed out on stable family life like our children have grown up with. But they still laugh and giggle. They still cry. They still get their feelings hurt. They still have the same questions and curiosities. They still want to give and receive hugs (or maybe not). They still want to give and receive love, even if they aren't sure how to express that.

At some point in the day, each of our children shared with me how much fun they were having, how they hoped we could come back again to spend more time there with these children, and even pointing out which children they'd really clicked with and wanted to tuck in their back pocket to bring home with us.

We had ten extra seat belts in the van we could have filled when we left, had the adoption process been that easy. The hard part would have been choosing which ten to bring home. Leaving behind children who were crying that we had to leave, asking us if they could come home with us, asking if we could pick them up tomorrow to take them to church with us... Oh the heartbreak!!! So hard not to just lose it right there and bawl my eyes out in front of the children!!

We could not take photos to document our day (understandably, but such a disappointment for someone like me who hardly goes anywhere without a camera in hand), and I can't share more specific details about our day than I have here, but I can tell you this much... We WILL be back!! And thankfully, we won't even have to raise thousands of dollars in funds to make the trip each time, like a trip to an international orphanage would cost! I can honestly say, I think today was incredibly bittersweet; the most torturous day, and yet the happiest and very best day I've had since we moved to Texas. Today was truly life-changing for our whole family.

And now I know what they meant when they said they left part of their heart in an orphanage when they walked out, and they just want to go back again to bring home more children.

If you don't know what they meant, you should find the opportunity to understand it too.
It will change your life!

You won't ever be the same!

I dare you!!

~ Michelle

Kings and Queens ~ By Audio Adrenaline

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Refusing To Be A Settler

It has been said that we should wait to adopt until our life has settled down for awhile. I've been trying to figure out even one season of our 20 yr marriage that life has been "settled" long enough to have completed an adoption...

If that is the qualifier, I can't think of a single season we'd have ever come close to qualifying. The fact is, dreamers & visionaries simply do not wait for life to settle before they pursue their dreams. Those who choose to be settled before pursuing what God has put before them to do, are the folks who got too comfortable in their settled season, they remain on the couch still waiting for life to settle more. We are a family of big dreamers. Big huge God size dreams. Because if a dream is small enough to fulfill it without God, then God is not in it. God likes to give impossible dreams for us to accomplish so as the dream is being fulfilled, He can say "This is the 'I'm Possible' dream!"

Last night as I was putting leftovers away (after signing off of FB), I noticed a quote on our fridge that has slowly been edged out by chore charts, coupons, and other miscellaneous items stuck over top of it. It says, "Go Confidently In The Direction Of Your Dreams". That is when God spoke, "If you're 'settling', you're not going anywhere. If you're 'GO-ing', you're not going to live like a settler." I needed that boost to be able to go to bed last night not feeling as discouraged as when I woke up yesterday. We're not quitters. And we're not settlers. I refuse to wear a label that says otherwise.

Off to continue to pursue big things... 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

One Small Step...

One small step for orphans... One giant leap for our family today...

We're in the process of completing our homestudy in Texas now, with a specific profile in mind. That's about all I can say at the moment, and we've been non-stop here since our last post, but we will try to fill in the gaps leading up to now (from the last few months) as soon as we can. I just don't have the spare time today to do a long update.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We're Back Online Again!!!

We're back online!!! 

The internet hook-up guy just left, and we have internet in our new home, finally!

I'm a happy girl to have a real keyboard under my fingertips again after four and a half looooonnnnng months of transition between N. Idaho and W. Texas.

And my eyes are loving that I don't have to view everything on my little bitty phone screen anymore. 

And I'm thrilled that I FINALLY have access to the author side of our blog again. (For some reason, my "smart" phone would allow me to VIEW our blog, but would not allow me to POST here. I don't think it's as "smart" as it thinks it is!)

We're pretty swamped with life in general this week, but we just wanted to let everyone know that we will do our best to get an update (or two... or twelve...) written in the coming week or so to catch you up on our crazy family life since our last post in January. 

Thank you all for your patience with us, and supporting us even during the quiet times when you haven't heard from us. Many of you have followed us on Facebook (which I WAS thankfully able to access during our move), and we want to thank you for all your prayers along the way as we jumped each speed bump these past few months. You have blessed us!

~ Michelle

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Roller Coaster Plunge...

In our last post, we left you clinging to the safety bars of the roller coaster, waiting anxiously at the top of the plunge... right where we were a week ago today. 

But let me step back a bit before I tell you about last Tuesday.

As many of you know, once we shut our computer down and packed it up around the beginning of December, I've been out of the loop completely on what was being posted in the blog world. And for the past several weeks I had no access to our own blog, emails, or my personal Facebook page. I was doing good to figure out how to access our adoption Facebook page from my phone. I think God preplanned this, as He knew my plate was as full as it could possibly get for a few weeks. And I am grateful for the somewhat blissfully ignorant month we had from mid-December to mid-January while we dealt with all the other things we shared in the last 3 posts (plus other stressful situations that I won't go into here, but add up to the total stress we were dealing with just the same). He protected us from the news that was to come until a better time. He waited for a time that my overall burden was a bit lighter, and our children were well again (mostly), and things were going a bit more smoothly with securing a home in Texas. His timing is perfect. Even when it doesn't seem like it.

So... a week ago yesterday (Monday, January 16th), I was able to jump onto our adoption Facebook page for a few minutes, and I saw a post in my newsfeed from our dear friend Adeye, an adoptive mother herself, who is committed to helping other families whose hearts are open to adoption. I clicked on the link going back to her blog. In that day's post, she asked for twenty families who urgently needed to raise funds to post a link to their respective blogs so she could help raise awareness and support for their fundraising efforts. I posted our blog link information for her, knowing that as soon as we received the keys to our new home, we were going to need to move through the remainder of our adoption approval process as rapidly as possibly (and still raise funds for each step of the process) because our girls would be aging out of their baby/preschool orphanages shortly, and their futures were unknown and likely to not be positive ones if not brought home in time. Yes, I knew there were many families further in the adoption process than we were who also needed to raise funds to finish the race, but also hoping that our family's fundraising needs would qualify as urgent enough to be one of Adeye's featured families. 

As I was about to log off of the computer, I thought about how we'd received a couple of inquiries over the past weeks (when our blog activity was almost non-existent) asking if we were still intending to adopt. I thought I'd post a brief update on our adoption Facebook page letting everyone know that we were still in pursuit of our girls, Olivia and Aliza. Just because we were in the middle of a cross-country move, and hadn't posted any blog updates, it didn't mean we were any less committed to bringing our girls home a single minute later than we had to. We just weren't being able to blog about it during that time. So I hoped to reassure and satisfy our readers' curiosity with an update on our Facebook page. 

And then I was offline again.

The following day (a week ago today), Adeye contacted us saying that she'd received inquiries regarding our family. She had readers wondering why she was featuring our family for urgent fundraising if our girls were no longer available anyway. So she was contacting us to try to sort out the confusion so she knew whether to continue to feature our family on her blog at this time or not.

Needless to say, I was completely puzzled by her statement/question, as we'd heard nothing of the sort. Was someone confusing our family with another? As far as we knew, our girls were both still available. We'd heard nothing to the contrary. No one had posted anything on our adoption Facebook wall. We'd heard nothing even hinting to that. So as far as we knew, there was no change. What she was saying was new news to us, but we completely understood the position she was in, and how she needed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on before she continued to feature our family. If I were in her position, I'd want to know for sure too. 

I knew I had to figure out what was going on and sort out the confusion for myself too. So off I went on a scavenger hunt for the truth about our girls' statuses, although I wasn't even quite sure where to start.

I began with looking at the website where we first found our Olivia, one which had photolistings of children still available for adoption, as well as those who had a family somewhere in the process of working to bring them home. Nothing had changed that I could tell. Both of our girls were still marked as they had been: "Being adopted outside of (the agency)". 

Maybe someone was wrong. They're both likely still available or surely that photolisting site would have been updated already. Someone must've just been mistaken when they contacted my friend to say we had no children to pursue. Somehow we'd get this all sorted out, discover that our girls are still waiting for us, and my dear friend Adeye can go back to featuring our family on her list.

Just to be sure, I jumped back onto our adoption Facebook page and asked anyone with any information about this unavailability claim to contact us. I got little response, other than posts of prayers and support.

Then I switched my attention to the adoption blog circles. Maybe I could figure out where someone mistook information posted somewhere. Surely one or more of my blogging friends could help me clear this up. I browsed several of the blogs written by people who had, at one point or another in the past, featured our family. At first I could find nothing because when looking up a blog on the internet, you'll usually be directed to the most recent post, which would be mid-January for many of them. 

Of course, I had no clue how far back I needed to dig. I searched a few days back. Then a week back. Then two weeks back. What am I supposed to be looking for anyway? Who holds this information? What do they know? Do my blogging friends even know anything? Is there even anything TO KNOW? Maybe we're all in the dark about this. 

Surely someone must have mixed us up with someone else. I know I sometimes confuse one blog with another, or forget which family is pursuing which child. Especially with all the photolisting code names floating around with all the real names that are known, as well as names an adoptive family intends to rename a child once they come home. Half of these children mentioned in various blogs have two or three names they are known by. It gets confusing sometimes. Even with my memory for those little minute details, I still often confuse these things. Surely this is what the case is with someone thinking our girls have been adopted by someone else. They're not even in the same region. It's not likely they were both adopted at the same time anyway? 

But at least I can rule it out by poking around a handful of blogs to see what information is floating around out there. We'll certainly get this cleared up shortly. 

After reading the posts going back a full two weeks on each blog, I decided to just start reading these various bloggers' posts beginning from the day I'd last had our computer up and running back in Idaho to the present. This brought the information I didn't want to even search for to my fingertips much quicker. 

After reading one blogger's post, then another, then another, and yet another, the roller coaster I was now on was sending me plunging downward faster and faster. 

I wanted off. NOW!!! 

No, this can't possibly be true. 

I wanted to barf. 

I wanted to scream. 

I just wanted to go back to standing on the ground watching others ride this plummeting course ahead of them, and feeling sad for them instead of it being us on this nerve-wrecking ride.

So after blog hopping for quite awhile, and attempting to put my heart back where it belonged, instead of in the pit of my stomach, I had enough credible information to believe that our Aliza was most likely never going to be our daughter, living in our home, loved by so many who already love her, snuggled under a blanket on the couch with the rest of our children watching cartoons or reading books, or giggling with delight when her daddy tickles her tummy before kissing her goodnight. My arms would likely never bring reassurance to her after getting a boo-boo on her finger, or waking up to a frightening dream. She was gone. 

Just gone. 

But still not with a family like she should be. 

That would have been easier to comprehend. If she had been adopted by a family, I could be thrilled for her, even in my personal grief. But she wasn't. She is still in an orphanage. A different one. At least it's a better one. 

But still, it's an orphanage. Orphanages don't have real mommies and daddies, and brothers and sisters, and cousins, and aunts and uncles, and grandparents. She's still an orphan. Only now, she's no longer legally available for adoption. At least not for another year, at the earliest. And certainly not likely to us, an American family. 

I'll do my best to give you the gist of her current situation since each bloggers' post reflects slightly varying details. The basic information I've gleaned is this:

A priest from an Orthodox Catholic church, having strong political connections and influence in Aliza's country, runs a "private" orphanage (despite it being government funded). He was recently given funds to significantly increase his bed count, and was given the authority to choose which ever children he wanted to have guardianship over. I'm sure he has the best intentions and believes he is helping these children. His facility is reportedly a "state of the art facility" with a great staff to orphan ratio. 

But still... it is an orphanage. Still these children have no parents. Still they have no family of their own. Still... they are orphans. 

He says he will make them available for adoption after at least a year, BUT, being a "patriotic" man, he will only make them available to citizens of their own country. That means our family, being American, has very little chance of ever being able to adopt from his facility. Which doesn't make any sense to me, knowing the statistics reflect that children with special needs are rarely adopted within their country compared to children with no physical or mental challenges or delays. 

This priest took guardianship of dozens and dozens of orphans. Names I recognized. Orphans who had families working hard to bring them home. Lots of American families. Lots of my blogging friends. Our precious Aliza was just one of dozens and dozens of children he chose for his new facility. 

So at the same time I learned that our Aliza was gone, I learned I had friends who were grieving too. I just didn't know it. I'd been out of the blogging loop for the past month or so. I am not the only parent grieving. There are others who can relate to this roller coaster ride I'm on. There are other parents with knots in their stomachs, and tears in their eyes right now too.  

Then I realized that all of this occurred back in the middle of December, right at the exact time we were wrapping up the final details in Idaho, packing up our covered wagon, and leaving for the wild west. I am grieving with this news. I know I'm not alone in my grief. It's just that all these other parents are a month ahead of me in their shock and grief. The sting for them is not as new now as it is to us. They've had a month to process this. They've had a month to regroup. They've had a month to pray and ask God where to go from here. Yes, I was grateful last week for God's mercy in delaying our awareness of Aliza's fate for a month. My plate was just. too. full. at that time to handle. one. more. thing.

But still... 

I was shocked. I was confused. I was angry. I was weepy. I was hurting. This is just so wrong! How could this happen? Why God? Why are You letting this happen? What am I supposed to tell Rick? Aliza was HIS girl! She stole his heart. He was already wrapped around her little finger, and she didn't even know it yet. What am I supposed to tell our children? They're going to be devastated. She was supposed to be our daughter! She was their sister in their minds. We've been preparing a place for her. We've looked into all aspects of the care she'd likely need. We chose a home that was ready to accommodate her specific physical needs. God, why did you let us love her so much, only to let her be taken away? I couldn't understand. 

I still don't understand. 

I may never understand. 

I am not even sure I want to try to understand, because, knowing me, I'd probably still try to argue it with God anyway! 

I don't know exactly what His purposes are for her now (and for us at this point), except that He promises that His purposes for each of us are for good, and not for evil, to bring hope, to bring life, life abundantly, and a future. That was all I could hang on to. He hadn't let go of her. And He hadn't let go of us. 

That, and the fact that Olivia was not included on the priest's round up list. 

But why are people saying she's no longer available either? There were no blogs to check. Our Olivia is one of those unseen orphans. The kind that no one blogged about, unless they were blogging about our family specifically. I searched the remainder of the day for her. I googled her photolisting code name, her real name, and any other info I had about her. I left no known stone unturned. 


No blogs about her. 

No changes on any of the sites that had featured her at some point. 

Just nothing. 

In her case, no news was good news. 

No news was great news! 

At least I could tell my family that we'd only lost one of our two girls.

We've already picked out girly bedspreads and curtains for them! We've already picked out stuffies for them to love on. I'd even been checking into various curricula to use after they came home and had time to settle in a little. At least one of them could still enjoy these things. At least one of our girls could still join our family. It was joy and heartbreak all in one shot. How can the human heart have that capacity to feel both at the same time?

I shared the news with Rick first. We grieved together. At least as much as you can grieve together while separated by hundreds of miles, hearing each other's voices, but having no body language to read, no ability to read each other's eyes. No ability to reach out and hold each other. I knew Rick wanted to be with me, and I wanted to be with him. We both needed that hug that begins to heal a broken heart. I wanted to grieve our loss TOGETHER. This being apart, well frankly, it sucks. Sorry if you don't like that word. But it's true. Grieve sucks your heart dry for a season. 

My thoughts flashed back to the night my dad passed away unexpectedly two and a half years ago. We were apart then too. It sucked then too. My dad would have loved these girls. My dad was a sucker for grandchildren snuggling on his lap. My dad was as sure enjoyed all his "shuggas". I was his "sugar plum". My children (well, all of his grandchildren) were his "shuggas". I grieve that loss too. Aliza and Olivia would have been his "shuggas" too if he'd been here to snuggle them. I missed him all the more. The loss feels the same to the heart.  

It was hard to grieve when you know you still have to share the awful news with your children too. When you know you have to be the one who console them, to comfort them, to bear them up... when your own love tank has just been sliced open from one end to the other, allowing all your strength and resilience to leak out. I couldn't do it. Not yet. 

My children had been sick the whole past week. I wasn't feeling so well myself, even before I learned of this gut wrenching event. Now I just felt like puking. I waited to share the news with our children. I needed time to digest it more myself. We've been through so much lately, I needed an armor-bearer myself. Anyone. I felt so alone. On top of the cabin fever. 

I couldn't cry. I just couldn't let myself cry yet. It was all I could do to keep it together in our little "glamping" site, with no privacy from children. Children who read me well. Children who just know when something in their mother's world just isn't "right". I needed just a bit more time. Time to pray. Time to find the positive in this. Even if there wasn't any to be found yet. I wasn't feeling very positive at the moment. I try to follow the "Thumper Rule" and not say anything at all if I can't say something nice! And I had nothing "nice" to say at the time. 

It took me all day. I finally told our children that evening. They were devastated. We cried together. We held each other. I reassured them that it still appeared that our Olivia was ours. I had no reason to believe she was gone too. We clung to that as we went to bed that night.

The morning brought more news we didn't want to hear. A dear friend back home (who graciously came and helped us pack boxes late into the night, even though we'd never met before then!) gently told me that she had a blogging friend who was currently in Ukraine completing her adoption at the same orphanage as Olivia. This friend had confirmed for her that indeed, Olivia was being adopted by an Italian family. The Ukrainian judge had already signed all the paperwork, and she would be going home with them in just a few days.

Square One, do you understand how much I loathe you???

My heart sank into that familiar place in my stomach. And I wanted to throw up again. 

I wanted to ask God "why?". 

I didn't bother. 

I'd asked it the day before. 

I got no answer. At least none that satisfied my selfish desire for my girls. All He said yesterday was "I work all things together for your good, and theirs." 

That's not what I really wanted to hear then. I wanted to hear "Oops. Sorry, I messed that one up! I'll get right on top of that and get it resolved for you as quickly as possible."

Okay, not really. But if you've worn these shoes, you know what I mean. You understand the blisters. 

The only thing certain at that point was that now I had to update Adeye. I had to update Rick. Then I had to wake my children up with this devastating news. I did not enjoy being a mother that day. At least that part of it. I knew it wouldn't be an easy morning. Spilled milk would have been a welcome mess to clean up! I was thankful though that Rick's extended family had invited us over for the day, and children were finally well enough to be able to get out of the house. I was eager to get out of the house. I was eager for something else to focus on for the day. 

We'd had a double loss in less than 24 hours. Double the broken dreams. Double the emptiness. Double the tears. Double the questions in their eyes that I couldn't answer. I'm sure God looked in mine and saw the same questions. I'm sure at some point, He'll explain it in a way I can't understand now but will make more sense down the road. I still, a week later, ponder the quote "God's strategic delay is for your greater good!" It made sense with the other speed bumps. Why isn't it making sense now? 

I cannot say what is next for us. It's not because I don't want to. It's because I don't know. 

What I know is this:

I know my heart is still drawn to adoption. (We both are.) 

I know my heart is still drawn to the former Soviet region. 

I know we have no specific children identified to pursue right now. (And even if we did, we probably wouldn't be ready to say we did. But we don't.)

I know we aren't giving up the God-given dream.

I know we are praying for a God-fearing family for Aliza. (And we are still committed to adopting her should she become available to an American family in the future.)

I know I am grateful that Olivia in no longer an orphan. (Even if she isn't ours.)

I know we are praying about the next step in God's plan.

I know we will continue to raise the funds necessary to pursue adoption, since there are plenty of expenses required in the adoption process before a family is required to select a specific child.

I know we are willing to follow God's leading, on whatever path He wants us to walk.

And I know I prayed for an adventure. (Okay, really I complained to God about having a boring life.)

I know I've about had my fill of adventure for the past few weeks. 

Or was it for the past few months? 

No, it's been an adventure for years. 

It's been an adventure my whole life!

Yes, it's been an adventurous life! 

I should not have complained!

I know I'm about ready for a somewhat boring life again... At least for the next few weeks until we get the keys to our new home. 

I know my heart needs time to process a little more of this grief. 

And then I'll be ready to jump back into this adventure. 

I think. 

And I know I'm (mostly) ready to say "Yes, Lord." when He asks me to go with Him into the next adventure.

Even though it scares the snot out of me!

It seems He really rather enjoys those roller coasters.

I have to remind myself that the dips and plunges are no further down than the length of the climb to new heights. 

And He is there to put His protective, trustworthy hands over mine when things get too unsure and scary for me. 

That's just how my Daddy God is! 

~ Michelle  

Update: Because both "Olivia" and "Aliza" are no longer available for adoption, we felt it was best to remove the photos we had posted of them from our blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Since We Packed Up The Computer... (Pt. 3)

Picking up where I left off in Part 2... 

"God's strategic delay is for your greater good!"

Rick and I had heard this comment somewhere many years ago (I couldn't even begin to tell you who said it to us), but it's stuck with us all this time. This thought came to me again when Rick called me to say we did not get that home we wanted. (The umpteenth one...) It was as if God was saying, "Juuuuust trrrruuuuussst meeee!!" Even when we don't understand what He's doing, He still desires our complete trust. I was just struggling to continue giving it to Him.

But God is faithful! Right at the time that Rick was going to have no place to sleep, he found favor with his company and they offered him another month of corporate housing because they had originally told him we'd be living in Oklahoma, so he'd spent much of his original days of corporate housing looking for homes in Oklahoma before they settled on his final work location remaining in Texas. So they offered him housing until the end of January. What a blessing that was!!

Still it's been a challenge to not be discouraged at times. After being out-bid on another home, Rick and his realtor went in search of more homes to drive by. After several days of running from one side of town to the other looking at places, he found one that he REALLY liked. He sent me a text saying "Babe, I think you're going to fall in love with this home!" Knowing that if we put an offer on the table for a house, I'd likely not even get to see it until it was ours, I began to panic just a little on the inside. It's smaller than our last home, and yet our family will be expanding! How are we going to make it work? What if we've been apart so long, he can't remember what little things are important to me, like the window over my kitchen sink, or that I prefer a real laundry room, not a laundry closet? What if I really DON'T like it when we arrive? 
Panic... yeah, it's just another result of distrust. (Oh the doubts I should not have doubted!!) And on Rick's end, he was fearing I wouldn't like this particular home he kept coming back to day after day. After Rick told me this, God reminded me that my husband DOES know my heart's desires (we've only known each other for 23 years after all!), that my husband has trusted ME to pick out two other homes for our family by myself in the past and never once complained or been negative about them, and that if I'd just ask Him, He could cause me to fall in love with this home as much as any other home I could have chosen myself. It was a gentle swat on the rear! So I did just that. I began to pray that God would cause me to fall in love with this home and see it as a peaceful refuge, not as a "best he could find" house. I have yet to actually see it in person, but the longer I starred at those pictures online day after day, the more I have begun to fall in love with this home! So on January 8th, I told Rick I was "good" with putting in a written offer on the home. So he met the realtor at the house once again, and they prayed together over the house and our offer on it. And then they submitted our offer. He received a call from his realtor just a few hours later saying the buyers had verbally accepted our offer and would sign the papers in the morning.

Our celebration time was cut short first thing in the morning when she received another call from their agent apologizing that the sellers had received an even higher offer overnight (ours was already above their asking price), and they were going to accept that offer instead. Frankly, I was mad! Mad about losing a house I originally thought I wouldn't like! Mad that things were looking like we were going to be back to square one AGAIN!! Mad that things seemed to be crumbling around us. We prayed about the house together on the phone. And we took a deep breath, and put in another offer for just a small bit higher than our first offer. And we decided that if they accepted it, we would move forward on it. But if they didn't, that was going to be our final offer, and we were going to look elsewhere. I did not sleep well that night! I just wanted this part of the adventure to be over with! I wanted a place to call home. And I wanted to get on with our adoption process. 

Since we arrived in Oklahoma over a month ago, the children and I have been "squatting" (Rick calls it "Glamping", short for "Glamour Camping") in a borrowed very tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath home without basic furnishings or any of the normal comforts of home. For those readers who are familiar with my childhood home in the hills of West Virginia, you need no further description of the home we've been staying in, only that we at least have running water in our current place and we're in town, instead of an hour from civilization. Although we're extremely grateful for the use of this little dwelling, without the joys of being able to visit with Rick's extended family while we're here, the past month would've been a really rough character development project to find the good in the day to day waiting. There have been days of frustration with waking up sore from a restless night of trying to sleep on the cold, hard floors to not being able to work in the kitchen as usual, such as the time we finished prepping grilled cheese sandwiches, only to realize I had no skillet to cook them in!  Many mornings in the last month, I've pulled the blanket tighter around myself, shivering and thinking about how orphans must feel. Cold. Hungry. Displaced. Lonely. Forgotten. Incomplete. Homeless. No place to call home. Minimal things to call their own. Missing out on the comforts of a real home. Wondering if today might just be the day they find out they will have a home to go to soon. I could relate. And it made me really want to get on with life and get to our girls as soon as possible. I wanted a home for them to call their own, as much as I wanted that for myself too.

Further discouragement came when we were told that our storage unit fees were going to be almost as much as what we were paying each month for our last home. And again a few days later when we were hit with the news that they were wrong about that... our storage facility fees were not going to be what we were first quoted, but nearly THREE times what we'd been quoted!! We simply could not afford that, even without trying to buy a home! We prayed for favor with Rick's company, asking God to move on the hearts of those with the golden stamp. We prayed that in the same way they'd extended Rick's company housing, they'd also extend their coverage of our storage facility fees. (They originally said they'd only pay for one month.) 

Then we get the call that the sellers of this home Rick loved had accepted our second offer, and they would have it in writing shortly. Then we would have 24 hrs after that to sign the papers as well to put the home under an official contract. More panic. How are we going to get several thousands of dollars together for our down payment on the house, pay for two more months of storage fees while we wait for closing, and still feed our family in the meantime? We started to second guess our decision to purchase this home, even though we knew alternate options were simply out of the question. More forgetfulness on our part about faithfulness on God's part.

God is so creative in His reminders though. I flipped on the radio out of boredom, and found a local Christian radio station that came in somewhat fuzzy but clear enough to tolerate. I don't even know what program was being aired when I flipped it on, but God knew exactly what we needed to hear. I couldn't get it written down fast enough to quote him word-for-word, but the preacher basically said, "Don't spend time taking counsel from your fears when doing what God has called you to. Reverence allows you to go forth in faith, but fear only allows you to look back in paralysis." I sent Rick a text as quick as I could with what I'd just heard to share that with him (he was at work at the time so I couldn't call). He signed the papers to proceed with the purchase, and plunked the first required check down on the table. Oh so exciting!! We're going to be homeowners again!! We finally have an address to share with family and friends!! What a sigh of relief!

Then another glitch a few days later. The mortgage lender needed actual documentation as to the date of our foreclosure several years ago, because if it was less than 5 yrs ago, they were reluctant to approve our home loan. A heaviness set upon my heart as I informed Rick that all the documentation related that particular home had been sent with the movers to the storage facility. Without a home, they wouldn't deliver our stuff. Without our stuff, we may not be able to buy a home. This was not looking so good. The original lender on that mortgage had gone out of business. Where else might we be able to track down this information? I was at a loss for where to begin. I prayed that God would show us if there was any other way to get this documentation we needed. As I got up from praying, I thought about a box I'd brought with us of various documentation I knew we'd likely need for our adoption of Aliza and Olivia, including past years of tax returns. I grabbed that box and practically ripped it open with the joyful expectation of a child on Christmas morning opening a gift they hope is the one they really wanted, but still not certain if they'll really get it. After an hour or so of flipping through tax paperwork, I found nothing that I thought would help. With a heavy sigh and a tear of discouragement welling up in my eye, I tossed the stack of tax folders on my blanket. One of them slid off the pile, and as it did, a loose sheet of paper began to slip out. I picked the folder up, opened it to the spot where the paper was loose, and began to tuck it back in again. In the corner of the paper under it, I spotted the words "Acquisition or Abandonment of Secured Property", and thought to myself, "What's this paper for?" As I scanned it over, I realized it had the address of the home that was foreclosed on. I looked for a date. Just guess what the date was!!! EXACTLY FIVE YEARS AGO... TO THE DATE!!!  As I snapped a photo of it to send to Rick, I realized something... had our offer on any home we wanted been accepted sooner than it finally was, we most likely would not have been approved. And we would have been back to square one. 

"God's strategic delay is for your greater good!"

Later that day, I received a text message from Rick saying that his company had approved an extension on them paying for our storage fees because it was due to their change of assignment location that Rick had less than two weeks to find and secure housing for us in Texas (instead of Oklahoma) before we moved out of our home in Idaho. And they weren't just offering to pay our storage fees for an additional month, but all the way until the absolute latest date that we could possibly go to closing on our new home (so two additional months)!!! 
"God's strategic delay is for your greater good!"

We needed this good news. At the time, the children and I were well into a long stretch of passing a strange illness from person to person, keeping us home-bound for days without any anticipated end in sight. (It's no fun to have a child ask for a puke bucket, only to realize the best thing you have available at the moment for them to puke in is the empty kitty litter bag headed for the alley trash!) With so little to do while being cooped up, our children begged me to let them unpack their schoolwork, even though we'd intended to take a break from it during the trip! We finally went on a "scavenger hunt" at the first thrift store we could find in town, and bought up a stack of books, a nearly new DVD player, a short stack of used DVDs, and some very mix-matched basic kitchen supplies and bedding. During our "quarantine" time, we browsed the phone book for a few places in town we could go to for "field trips" once children were on the mend again. That has helped with the cabin fever too! But having that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel knowing we have a home to go to soon was such joyful news to us!! Despite a few more days of prolonged illnesses and quarantine, there was a sense of excitement in the air again. 

And then the biggest plunge on this roller coaster ride so far hit our family very unexpectedly... 

You know what I'm talking about... 

That plunge that you already know could possibly be part of any roller coaster ride...

The big one that sneaks up on you after several smaller dips and turns are already behind you... 

The one you think you are big enough to handle without grabbing for the safety bars... 

That plunge where your stomach detaches itself from where God created it to be and you just feel like you're going to throw up your lunch on everyone...

And your heart pounds faster than it should... 

And you begin to scream for someone to stop the ride NOW because you just want off...  

And you ask yourself why you ever got on this ride in the first place...

And you swear to yourself that you'll never ride this roller coaster again...

Even though you know you don't really mean it...


I know you're gonna be upset at me for this but... you'll have to stay tuned in a few days to hear the next part of the story. I'm on a borrowed computer, and I need to let the computer's owner get her family to bed, and I really should get our children back "home" to bed for the night too. I hope to return to our update in a few days (but I know it won't be able to be tomorrow). Sorry! 

~ Michelle 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Since We Packed Up The Computer... (Pt. 2)

I just went out to our van to grab my little raspberry log book from our trip. Yes, I'd probably be voted "Most Likely To Document That" in my family, (remember my devastation to discover my camera had been packed up by the movers?). And yes, I did in fact make note of every stop, what time (and in what time zone), what exit or town, for how long, if we took any photos there, etc. I knew with the sleep deprivation of driving straight through (other than the half-night in the hotel after the accident), we'd likely forget what exactly happened when on our trip, or when and where a photo was really taken. So my handy-dandy raspberry colored log is my lifesaver in giving you accurate details of our journey to Texas! Or Oklahoma! (That's a tidbit for those of you who don't know the current details of story yet!)   

So, picking up where I left off in Part 1... 

The accident was just after midnight on Sunday evening (okay, technically Monday morning, for my friends who prefer preciseness!), about 30 miles west of Butte, Montana. To spare you the boring details of my log book, we FINALLY arrived in Denver, Colorado around noon on Tuesday!! This stop was the highlight of our trip. We were blessed to be able to meet for the first time our friends, Jonathan and Jessica, whom we've been in ministry with online for the past couple of years! We shared a joyous, delicious lunch with them (except for the child of ours who asked if we could ask the waiter for a puke bucket!) and enjoyed an impromptu "homeschool field trip" at a major outdoor sporting goods store together! (I wish I could post pics of our trip, but I don't know how to pull pictures off of our new camera's memory card without completely emptying it onto this borrowed computer.) We parted ways around sundown, wishing we could have spent a week together instead of just a few hours. 

To continue to make a long story short-er (because I don't think I was created to make a long story just plain short), we finally rolled into Rick's parents' driveway in NE Oklahoma on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 21st), ready for a long winter's nap! The next day I was able to get in to see a chiropractor in Oklahoma and he agreed with the diagnosis from the chiropractor I'd been to during the week prior to our trip. What I hadn't known previously was that one of my hips was significantly lower than the other, thus all the excruciating back pain during the moving process. With a few strategic adjustments, the majority of my pain decreased significantly. Even more so than with the adjustment back home. What a relief!! (I've been continuing the adjustments as needed since then.) We enjoyed spending the next few days over Christmas weekend with Rick's extended family before Rick had to return to work in Texas. 

Early on Monday, December 26th, Rick and I hit the road for our new hometown in Texas (without the children) to finalize details for securing a home for our family. We had papers all drawn up and signed, ready to submit for a house there. When we arrived Monday evening and met the agent so Rick could see the home for the 2nd time and show the home to me, we discovered things that really concerned us. We both felt a strong caution in our spirits against signing papers on that home. But that left us in a real predicament as his corporate housing had expired the weekend he arrived in the Northwest to begin our trip. So he had no place to stay, and the children and I had no place to finish moving to. I had planned on "dropping him off" in Texas, and making the return trip to Oklahoma the following morning when he resumed work. Suddenly being without any housing plans for our family, arrangements were made for extended family to care for our children (and pets), and with little more than my toothbrush, I stayed in our new hometown in Texas with Rick for the remainder of the week to search for a home while he was at work each day. Thankfully, one of his new co-workers took pity on us and loaned us their temporarily spare bedroom for a few nights before their new roommates moved in. We looked high and low, and every home was a "no-go", either due to details that would not accommodate our family needs (and we'd lowered our "standards" significantly already), or potential landlords with major attitudes against larger families. And there were precious few homes to check out to begin with. We literally scanned the online ads all day long, and jumped at a moment's notice to view them because homes that did become available were usually gone before the end of the day. There were days we (the co-worker's wife and I) just drove block after block after block looking for homes that had signs or just looked empty from the street. We thought for sure we'd be able to find a home before I returned to Oklahoma to retrieve children. No such luck.

The final night I was to be in Texas (since I needed to release relatives from caring for the children), we went out for dinner, and the restaurant owner told us of a home for sale or rent by one of his regular customers. We drove straight there and loved the place! We called that night, and again the next morning (New Year's Eve) until we finally found a realtor who was willing to show us the home on a holiday, and before I needed to hit the road. We submitted an application to rent (temporarily, until we could familiarize ourselves with the idiosyncrasies of the home and decide whether to purchase it in the future). And I headed back to Oklahoma pretty certain that we had a home to go to. Like Rick said "I felt like part of me was amputated." in having to part ways again, knowing that there was no certainty as to how long we'd be apart again. We hadn't realized how much he and I really needed that alone time together (not that it was exactly a romantic getaway or anything).

We waited nearly a week for an answer from the homeowner on whether our application to rent would be accepted. And then we were told they decided not to rent, but to sell instead. We put in a full price offer on the home to purchase it. And still we were "out-offered". So they chose the higher offer, and we were once again at the beginning of a search for a place to call home. Sigh. 

Do you know how much I hate being shown back to first base again and again? It stinks. For once, I just wanted to finally make it to home plate! 

Why wasn't God letting the puzzle pieces fall into place so we could be together as a family again? 

Why wasn't He providing a home for us? 

What purpose is there for all this delay and frustration in securing a home? 

If YOU brought us here, why aren't YOU working things out for us?

There are many times in this journey that Satan began to whisper, planting those seeds of doubt on whether we were even where we were supposed to be or doing what we were supposed to be doing. There were times (even now sometimes) that it was easy to feel like we just wanted to double check with God for that reassurance that we were still on the same path. That we had heard Him right. Wanting to know that we remained in His will as we understood it. As Rick muttered at one point, "God, can we buy a vowel?" 

It gets discouraging when you begin to decrease placing all your trust in God's plan and attempt to walk in your own plans, even with the best intentions to let Him be in control. If we had known what the details were behind the scenes when it came to housing, it would've been easy to just wait on God's timing and not stress about finding a home. 

I'll leave you with this thought, and then I'll end for tonight:

"God's strategic delay is for your greater good!"

I'll try to post the continuation of our update in a "Part 3" tomorrow. Until then...

~ Michelle 

Since We Packed Up The Computer... (Pt. 1)

Hello! Just in case you've forgotten who we are, let us reintroduce ourselves... (Just kidding!) We know it's been 6 weeks since we packed up the computer for our southern migration and you're all sitting patiently on the edges of your seats awaiting an update. Or maybe you got tired of waiting, or wondered if we're ever coming back, and you've moved on to another activity besides waiting for our update to pop up on your screen. If so, YOU CAN COME BACK NOW!!!! ;-) (I have temporary use of a borrowed computer today, so I will post as much of an update as I can. There's a lot to update you on so it will likely take several posts!!)

So we left you sitting there at the beginning of December pondering obedience. (I didn't mean to leave you all sitting there in "time out" for so long! Sorry about that!) 

Obedience with the right attitude. And obedience without delay. And the difference between unwilling compliance and a heart of joyfulobedience despite our own plans and desires or the temporary circumstances we see in our limited human understanding. Yes, it's been on my mind a lot the past month or so too! And my excitement for getting to Texas and getting settled has increased the more I've prayed for a willing heart to obey God's leading there. But it hasn't been easy. There's been a lot to be discouraged by, and a lot to rattle our willingness to "journey on". So let me begin where we left off...

Within a few hours after posting our last entry here, I began to feel quite ill. I was running a mild temp which kept steadily rising with each new day, and just didn't feel quite up to par (that's putting it very mildly). The movers were in our home that whole week packing and loading up our junque (much of the time with little care for what condition our items may likely be in at the other end of the move), and frankly, giving me lots of grief about it. Things I had set aside to take WITH US (like our camera and personal address book, etc), they packed up and refuse to locate and unpack again for me when I discovered they were missing. And things I wanted THEM to take on the moving truck got left behind (like an entire bathroom they missed). It was a week of sheer chaos!! I would have rather packed it all myself if I'd had a choice in the matter. But we really needed the help. We were out of time and I was in constant excruciating pain and could barely stand on my own feet for more than a few minutes at a time despite my usual higher pain tolerance levels. But only my family knew that I was in such extreme pain. I had to carry on. I had no choice. The work had to get done by a specific time, come hell or high water. By the time the movers pulled out of our driveway, I was wrung out emotionally and physically, and I dropped to my knees on the floor alone in my kitchen and bawled my eyes out while everyone was elsewhere in the house. Shortly thereafter, one of our small group leaders from church walked in and gathered those who, unbeknownst to me, had "bottle-necked" in the doorway to watch, and they prayed over me. The weepiness didn't stop, but the emotional weight on my shoulders at that moment lightened up and I was given a supernatural endurance to push through to the end of the project a week later, despite my rising temperature and decreasing ability to function physically. For an entire week after the movers were gone, we were working until the wee hours of the night, catching brief cat naps on the floor when we could go on no longer, and surviving on as much coffee as we could consume! When we finally reached the point of completion about 8am on December 14th, I climbed into a bed at my mom's house, shivering and weak. My body said "Enough is enough!!" and it shut down on me. Although I didn't realize it at the time, she later told me I'd slept for the next 20 hours straight! The following day, she took me to a chiropractor to find out why my back and feet had been in such excruciating pain, knowing I was not fit to make the trip south a few days later without some kind of medical attention first. The doc said that my back was "all jacked up back there". After a lengthy chiropractic treatment, and switching from my old worn out tennis shoes into a brand new pair of professional running sneakers a friend gave me (Thanks Traci!), I was feeling somewhat better and a bit more confident that I could make the trip, if we allowed for frequent stops to stretch and move around. Although the pain in my back and feet had been significantly reduced, I was still running a temp, and feeling very ill when Rick arrived in our home town late in the evening on the 16th. So much for making him the center of my attention after 13 VERY LONG weeks apart! 

On December 17th, we ran all those necessary last minute errands, loaded up the remainder of our belongings into our van and a rented "haul-it-yourself" trailer, then celebrated Christmas with my side of the family. Knowing how grieved I was with the realization that we would not be able to take any pictures on our trip, my side of the family surprised us with a new camera and two new memory cards with lots of space!! I bawled my eyes out again!! It was a blessing I was not expecting at all! (We've taken over a thousand high resolution pictures since then, and have yet to fill up the first memory card!!)

On Sunday, the 18th, we said goodbye to loved ones, prayed for continued manifestation of healing in my body, and a peaceful, safe journey. And we hit the open road.  

Little did we know what lie ahead of us! I can't honestly say that I would've been able to obey willingly or joyfully if I had known. At the very least, I would have struggled. At times I still have to remind myself that obedience with a bad attitude is still disobedience. The last five weeks have not been so easy.

The day we left the Pacific Northwest, somewhere around midnight, in the middle of nowhere Montana, I turned the driver's seat back over to Rick so I could get some sleep after a lengthy stretch of white-knuckle driving (it was my first time ever pulling a trailer and I was, quite frankly, scared out of my mind to attempt it!). 
The roads and weather were wonderfully clear when I fell asleep, but I was awakened a short time later to the motion of our van and trailer fishtailing several times from one side of the road to the other as Rick tried to regain control after unexpectedly hitting a patch of black ice. He just about had everything brought back under control again when our trailer suddenly jack-knifed, spinning our van so we were then facing the traffic originally behind us, and we began sliding backwards down the highway toward the center median. Our children were awakened, dazed and disoriented, to the sounds of their father speaking a language quite foreign to them; a language which reportedly many truckers, sailors, and construction crews are fluent in. ;-) (My apologies for the stereotyping to the innocent employed in those industries!) Having been in a roll-over accident as a child, I instinctively knew that we were most likely doomed to take a frightening rollercoaster ride in the median, and all I could do was THINK the word "Jesus" repeatedly in my mind. In my sleepiness, I couldn't even get it out of my mouth! (Thank goodness God's thoughts are higher than ours, but He still understands and honors our silent prayers anyway!) Our trailer pulled our van backwards down into the median, and back up the other side before gravity (and God) intervened, and the tail end of the trailer began to slide sideways back down toward the lowest point of the median. After coming to a rest, we checked to make sure our children were safe and okay before Rick got out to check on the condition of our van and trailer. The chiropractic adjustment done on my back a few days prior was undone in the accident. But otherwise, we were all fine. And our animals hardly noticed anything was wrong. Our big lovable dog looked up from her napping spot on the van floor, looking at us as if to say, "What's all the commotion for?", and promptly laid her head back down on her paws and returned to her blissful rest. When Rick returned to the driver's seat, he informed me that a tire on the trailer was bent sideways & we could not proceed with the trip until it was repaired, but we also knew we could not just sit there in the middle of nowhere waiting for the sun to rise, hoping to be rescued. So Rick hit the gas pedal and hobble-hot-rodded us out of median before we became a sitting target for other vehicles that might become another victim of the invisible ice. We got ourselves safely to the other side of the road, heading east again, and called the rental company's customer service department. We were told to get ourselves to the next town and they'd send someone out to look at it in the morning. So we crawled along at a snail's pace on the side of the highway for the next who-knows-how-many-miles until we reached the lights of civilization again. Thankfully there was a motel night manager there who had sympathy on our plight and allowed us to sneak our dog and three cats into our room so they wouldn't freeze in the van overnight. By the time our heads hit the pillows, it was nearing 4am. The trailer company guy was due to arrive shortly after sunrise. It was the soundest short night of sleep we'd had in awhile! When we awakened to the new day, and had the chance to see the damage to our van in daylight, we realized just how protected we were from what could have been. At some point in the accident, the front corner of our trailer had swung around far enough to put a large vertical dent in the side of our van EXACTLY where one of our daughters had been sleeping with her head nestled in a pillow against the window. Had the trailer hit with any more force than it did, it would have shattered the window she was sleeping against. She never even felt the impact there. If angels get bruises, they sure got some that night from working overtime to protect us during our accident!! Throughout the remainder of our trip, we saw more deserted remains of roll-over accidents than we cared to count, as well as several accidents with emergency service providers still on the scene. Without a doubt, God was certainly answering prayers for protection on our behalf that night. 

I will post this much for now, and continue to update in additional posts. There is so much to share about how God has been working behind the scenes! Stay tuned for more after this commercial break...

~ Michelle

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


As I was sorting through a box of paper in preparation for repacking it properly for our move, I came across a paper we used to have hanging in our kitchen at the last house for our children, but I hadn't found again since living here. I want to share what's on this paper for two reasons: 1) In case it goes missing again before we get to our new home, and 2) because, darn it, it stinks to be convicted alone! LOL

Obedience + Delay = Disobedience
___ Do I have to be reminded several times before I do a job?
___ Do I say "I will" then take my time before I finally get around to doing it?
___ Do I answer, "I will, but not right now" or "Later"?
___ Do I fail to meet deadlines?

Obedience + Murmuring/Complaining = Disobedience
___ Do I do what I am told, but pout as I do it?
___ Do I complain about the things expected of me?
___ Do I make sure others feel sorry for me as I do the work I've been asked or instructed to do?

Obedience + My Methods = Disobedience
___ Do I do what I am told, but not in the way I am told?
___ If i cannot do the job my own way, do I leave it undone or do it halfheartedly?
___ Am I sneaky about the shortcuts I take because my parents would not approve of them?
___ Do I insist that my parents explain why they want something done in the manner they've specified before I will complete he task?

Obedience + The Desire To Have People Praise Me = Disobedience___ Do I do the things my parents have asked of me just so people will praise me?
___ If no one praises me for what I've done, do I stop doing it or do it halfheartedly?

Obedience + Letter of the Law - Spirit of the Law = Disobedience
___ Do I obey my parents, yet continually look for how close I can come to disobedience without actually being accused of it?
___ Do I tell only a portion of the story so the complete situation is not fully understood by my parents?

"LISTEN to your father's instruction & do not forsake your mother's teaching." (Proverbs 1:8)
"Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this is right." (Ephesians 6:1)
"For even a child is KNOWN by his actions, whether his conduct be pure & right." (Proverbs 20:11)
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
OUCH!!! This is not just applicable to young children under a parent's authority. This applies to us big children under our Heavenly Father's authority.

Reading through this paper when I found it yesterday really convicted me of my "obedience + murmuring/complaining" in moving to the land of tumbleweeds and Texas stars. As obedient as I thought I was, it was still DISOBEDIENCE in God's eyes. 
I think I need to hang this paper up in the new home, not just on the fridge for the sake of the children, but somewhere where I will see it frequently too.

It's all too easy to fall into disobedience when the action and the attitude are not united. I don't want to be found "obeying on the outside, but disobeying on the inside". I want to be in complete obedience.

After that good swift swat on the rear yesterday (and a full night of sleep after too many brief winks), I'm finding myself today beginning to look forward to our new life in Texas.

~ Michelle