Friday, March 6, 2015

For when I am weak...

No title to this post at the moment.

I will just put my fingers to the keys, pour out my heart and see what it becomes.

This is one of those posts that I don't even know if I will be brave enough to click that daunting little button that reads "publish".

There has been so much piling on my heart lately and I know I can hide within the walls of our little home with the outside world looking in with their rose colored glasses or I can bridge the gap from "special" to "just like you".

I don't know, maybe I'm supposed to let everyone think that we have it all together. Maybe that makes people more willing to support us. Maybe people want to think that we are superhuman and therefore a worthy cause to invest in.... I don't know. But what I do know is that I HATE being up on a pedestal. It's not only a lonely place to be, but a scary place for me because I hate feeling like we're deceiving people and I never want that to become okay.

So this is my attempt to bridge the gap.

If you want to continue thinking that we are something really special you should probably stop reading now and go find a different blog to follow.

I have always been transparent with all of you and I'm not about to stop now that our story is becoming more known.

This adoption has been much different than our adoption with Ivan. I guess our story is more powerful this time because we aren't going in blind. People see us and think wow, so they chose that once, they must realize how difficult and crazy their life is because of it, why would they choose it again?

Last month we were asked to do a news interview.  Ryan and I are both pretty introverted, we are homebodies, we like to keep our world small so this request was extremely challenging and stressful for us.

I battled because everything in me didn't want to put our family out there for the world to see. Ryan and I work hard to instill in our children that although they may face challenges they are capable of anything and although we parent them differently because of their special needs we refuse to give them "special treatment". We don't want the world to give them special treatment and we certainly don't want special treatment because of our children. Support is different than special treatment in my book. We will accept all the support and encouragement we can get, but we don't want to be looked at or treated differently.

We ended up doing the news report and it was fine, God used it in some great ways, but ever since that it has just been one struggle after another.

With a larger platform comes more chance for God's glory which I'm assuming satan sees as a threat.

In the past couple weeks Ryan and I have both been sick and are still not back to 100%. We're tired and weary and the battle just never stops. Unexpected bills have discouraged us, time and energy to get necessary things done has been nonexistent.

This has been a real season of weakness for me.

The hardest part is that the weakness I feel just doesn't match up to the strength that everyone sees when they look at us.

So the purpose I'm writing this post is to remind each of you where that strength comes from, whether you're a believer in Jesus Christ of not, I just want you to know that the things that inspire you about us are the things that are "not us".

"Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG. (I guess I found that title) 2 Corinthians 12:6-10

You see adoption is amazing and it does take a special strength to raise children with special needs, but it takes a weak kind of strength. A strength that will get up everyday and choose to believe that God's strength will be enough because you just have no strength of your own.

Before bringing Ivan home I really believed that on the hard days, God would give me the strength that I needed to get through and he absolutely HAS, but what I didn't know then was that the strength I NEED is much different than the strength I WANT.

I want God's strength to help me never lose it with my kids.

I want His strength to help me always have the dishes and the laundry done.

I want His strength to help me make a wonderful healthy meal for my family every night.

I want His strength to meet me as soon as my alarm goes off so I can wake up at 5am to have my quiet time and exercise before the kids wake up.

I want His strength to help me reassure Ivan that it is okay when he has an accident and I want that strength to miraculously make cleaning up my seven year old's pee a delight to my heart.

But what I have found is that the strength I NEED often looks like humbling myself to my two year old and admitting that mama was wrong when she yelled at him, asking for His forgiveness, and praying with him so that he grows up knowing where true strength comes from.

The strength I NEED often looks like taking a nap with the kids and letting the dishes and laundry pile up another day.

Lately the strength I have NEEDED has been Ryan bringing home fast food for an effortless dinner.

The strength I NEED often looks like only getting half my Bible study complete each day because I snoozed my alarm and now the kids are awake and our schedule is full.

The strength I NEED often looks like realizing I have some real ugly selfishness dwelling inside of me because I can get so easily angered over the accidents of my children.

Is it okay to admit those things? Is it okay to believe that God would call imperfect people to parent His amazing children?

Like I said, this past month has been HARD. I have struggled with feeling like we were just faking it. We aren't the perfect parents everyone thinks we are so maybe we're fooling ourselves. Maybe we heard God wrong. If we're messing things up with the two kids we have, how will we handle two more?

Then last week a stranger brought us a meal one night and told us that God wanted us to know that He loves what we're doing and He's so proud of us. Then she gave us a check for $500.

The money was an incredible blessing, but her words meant even more.

She had no idea how much I needed to hear them, but God did.

The God who sees when I lose it with Landon or struggle with Ivan. The God who sees me break down on an almost daily basis, the God who sees the ugly selfishness in my heart, is still pleased with us.

The God who doesn't just read my blog or watch our little news report, but whose Spirit lives within our home, is proud of us.

How can this be? Doesn't He see us blowing it... why us?

Maybe because we realize our weakness.

Maybe because He knows I hate life on His rightful pedestal.

Maybe because He knows our hearts and how deep our humanly imperfect love is and He can work with it.

Ya know, I don't know why He has chosen us for this life, but I want you to know that He's chosen you for a crazy life too. It just takes letting go...

letting go of what you think happiness looks like...

embracing your mistakes and realizing that God loves you right where you are.

We make a huge mistake when we continue to wait for the strength we feel is necessary to do what God is calling us to do.

Maybe that is why so few of those who call themselves Christians are living lives that resemble Christ. We keep waiting for the strength we want when God just wants us at our weakest.

I haven't said all of this so that you never encourage us again, but I just want to give glory where glory is due.

Because you see, I'm just like you fellow mama :)

I may not live within your walls, but I know that you probably feel like you're blowing it a lot as well.

I believe that God wanted me to humble myself and write this post so that I could pass on the encouragement.

He knows where you stumble

He knows how your children can drive you to do things you regret.

He knows how weak and insignificant you feel...

and He wants you to know that He loves what you're doing and He is so very proud of you.

Let's let that truth free us to embrace our weakness for only then is his power made perfect in us.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Hands Full Life

Every time I go anywhere with the boys, I get the comment, "you've got your hands full." Some people add a "wow" in there somewhere or phrase it a little differently, but it always hits me the same way.

I just don't know how to answer it so I usually smile, nod my head, or if I'm feeling bold I'll say yep. but there's never a dull moment." with an awkward chuckle.

There are days when I don't want to tell others that we're in the process of adding two more to our clan because I just can't take one more look of pity or confused shock.

I wonder when did things change...

When did a parent having his/her hands full become a negative thing?

When did we stop seeing children as a blessing and start seeing them as a nuisance?

Clearly, I realize that our life looks differently than most.

Using my body to prop open a door while holding the hand of a rambunctious two year old while also trying to coax my other child who is in a wheelchair through said door is guaranteed to get me this comment and in reality I know... it's true.

I realize that YES, my hands are always full, but what are my other options?

 I've come up with 3

Firstly, my hands could be idle?

The difinition of idle is: not active or in use. Without purpose or effect; pointless.

To be perfectly honest, that definition sends chills up my spine. the last thing I want is to have nothing for my hands to find purpose in.


My hands may be full, but that means there's always a hand to hold.

That means there's always a tear to wipe.

There's always a loved one to serve.

There's always a face to gently cherish.

There's always a belly that needs tickling, a book that needs to be read to little ears,  and there's always food, snacks, and endless glasses of milk to be prepared.

I could do without my hands being full of laundry and dishes, but when it comes to my family I pray my hands would always be busy serving, loving, and cherishing every precious second.

The second option I've realized is my hands could be empty.

Please hear my heart on this, because I do not say these things lightly. I know the pain of loss, I've watched the face of a mother as she was torn from her child so he could be resuscitated back to life.

Even now the tears well up because there is just no antidote for that kind of pain and fear.

I've felt the gut wrenching empty feeling that overcomes your entire being when you have to hand your child over not knowing if he will be handed back alive.

I've experienced what it's like to have your womb be full of life one moment and empty the next.

I know mothers who have driven home to hauntingly empty homes that were once full of a child's laughter.

It is my experience that empty is the nightmare of every mother. We may be stressed out and exhausted in every way, but we would never choose empty or wish it on anyone else.

Every time I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself because my life is FULL I think of the many mama's out there that would give anything to be driven crazy by their child for just one more moment.... to have their hands filled again.

And then lastly, I think there's a place in between FULL and empty. It's the place that most of us end up and even strive to get to and we'll just call this place "comfortable"

I think this is the most dangerous place of all because it can sometimes appear to be full. We drive ourselves crazy with so many little things every day. We work to ensure a "comfortable" future for our families.

We die on the molehills before we ever reach the mountains that make life worth living.

I know, as moms, it's so hard to see our lives as having meaning and eternal purpose, but the role of a parent is the most influential of all.

Everyday as we go through the hard routines of motherhood we don't realize that those "full" hands are making lasting impressions on our children's hearts and souls.

A mother's hands are full not only of the mundane tasks that come with caring for children, but every second of everyday those hands of yours are building a legacy.

So fellow stress FILLED mama, take heart, and thank God for FULL hands, because someday all of the little things that weigh our hearts down today will fade into memory, but the cherished memories of the precious lives that we get the privilege of raising will be the things that fill our hearts and bring us joy unspeakable.

So maybe next time your tempted to tell an already exhausted, guilt ridden, mama that she has her hands full, why not stop and choose your words a little differently?

Tell her she's strong and her children are beautiful.

Tell her she is blessed to have her hands so full.

Tell her that someday she'll look back fondly on this season of life.

Please, lets stop feeding into the constant whispers of our culture that having a life filled with family is a burden because that is a lie that Satan is using to destroy us.

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?  
The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrow,  
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,  
with your quivers full of children!
Psalm 127:5 (MSG)



So that was what's been on my heart a lot lately, but now for a little adoption update!!

Our goal was to be done with our dossier by Valentines day and although we are not completely done we are only waiting on a couple more documents.

I think it's safe to say that we will have it sent over to our babies country by the end of this month. After it's sent, it will be translated then "submitted".

Once we are submitted we'll be traveling in 6 to 8 weeks.

SOOOOO CRAZY!!!!

This adoption is going insanely fast and dare I say it, really smoothly!!

All glory to God for we know this is all because of Him!!

For those of you who didn't notice, our thermometer has taken a large leap thanks to the breathtaking support of our church and community.

We are so blessed to share life with so many selfless people who truly demonstrate God's love in amazing ways.

We are trusting and believing that every needed penny, God will provide.

How are we doing emotionally?

This has been a roller coaster of an experience. It's going so fast we feel like we barely have time to process it and yet when we lay in bed at night all we talk about is how much we want them home. We dream of meeting them for the first time. For that day, I'm just holding my breath.

I can't wait!!

We have a private facebook group set up where we will be sharing the details of our adoption. For privacy reasons, we will not be sharing very much on this blog until we have our babies safe in our arms on American soil.

We would love for you to follow our journey to bringing our precious kiddos home. You can find me on facebook and just send me a quick message asking to be added to our adoption group.


How are the boys doing?

Ivan continues to amaze us. He's been using a stander at therapy and even bearing weight on his legs without the help of the stander. We just got the call today that his personal stander is now in! With a stander to use at home we can only imagine how our boy will continue to progress :)

We're SO proud of our boy! We can't believe the changes in him. He has grown so much in every way since bringing him home. He's proof that adoption is redemption.

His anxiety has decreased dramatically and his communication is exploding.

A conversation we had the other day

Ivan- I'm really tired, I need a nap.
Me-okay, you want to go back to bed?
Ivan- NO, I nap after pt!!

LOL he is such a smart kid. We can't imagine life without the joy he brings.

He is now registered to go to kindergarten this coming fall.

This has been a hard decision as I've loved home schooling him. We know that homeschooling was best for him this past year, but with two more kiddos I just don't feel I can give him the focus he deserves while also giving the two newest Maxwell babes the attention they will desperately NEED. It will be painful to let him go, but we're hoping and praying that this change will be awesome for him. We will play it by ear and do what we feel is best for our precious little man.


At the therapy clinic, pushing up out of the chair with a little help from his awesome pt.

Using the stander


When did my baby become such a big handsome boy?!?

Hamming it up!


Hanging out in what will be baby sisters room.
Since we are now in a house we were able to bring our dog home this Christmas. He's been living with my parents for the past 3 1/2 years. Landon has a new best friend and we couldn't have asked for a better buddy for our kiddos!
 Landon is still our little ball of energy. He keeps us on our toes that's for sure! He has gotten so talkative and will carry on hilarious conversations. He tells me everyday "brother and sister come home mama? In the Summer mama. Not today.... ahhhh (sad face)." He is very excited to have another brother to play with, but more than anything he talks about baby sister and being a big brother.

As hard as it will be to leave the boys, we are so blessed that they have great relationships with their grandparents and are SO looking forward to staying with them while we're gone. It also helps that they have each other. They are inseparable at home so I know as long as they're together they will be just fine.



A family selfie as we waited to get our fingerprints done for the third and final time this adoption!




 So there's a look at what life looks like for us, hands full and about to get even more FULL!








Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My thoughts on being "saints" and an adoption update

I apologize for not writing in so long.

To say we've been busy is vastly understated.

We have been blown away by God's provision, but let me tell you, we have not been sitting on our bums praying for the money to come in the mail.

Yes, we've been praying like crazy, but we get up off our knees and WORK.

Sometimes when I tell people we're fundraising for our adoption, they give me this blank stare and I can tell they're trying to process what the heck an adoption has to do with fundraising.

People fund raise for causes, not when they want to grow their family.

They usually get out an awkward "congratulations" and we part ways.

I understand that this takes some processing and change of perspective to understand.

For starters, adoption isn't just a means by which we've decided to grow our family. Believe me, we know there's much cheaper, safer ways to grow our family. After my miscarriage last Summer we met with multiple doctors and each of them told us there was no reason why we wouldn't be able to have more biological children.

With that said, God didn't lead us down that route...

He has called us once again to risk everything and make the sacrifices necessary to rescue HIS children.

A Father to the fatherless; a defender of widows, is God in His Holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5

Let me just say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with fundrasing to adopt because you want to grow your family. God gives us that desire. The ability to love one who is not biologically your own, is Holy in and of itself, but for a lot of us adoptive families, adoption is something we feel is a calling on our lives, just like people who are called to fight for the cause of children battling cancer, or those who feel called to join the army, peace corps, or those who commit their lives to overseas missions.

Everyone is not called to adopt... but we are.

And with any lofty calling, comes the need to unify and seek the help of others.

I had this nagging thought our last adoption and it's been rearing it's head once again... why doesn't God call those who HAVE the funds needed to rescue these amazing children.

I know they're out there, those people that have 25k sitting in a bank account somewhere.

It would be simply a drop in the bucket for so many...

But, strangly what I have found is that the majority of people God calls to adopt, are just average joes making an average income, some even living pay check to pay check.

We get called "saints" all the time. People see us and our lives don't make sense. They don't understand why we would "choose" this; why we would choose Ivan and why we would choose these two children, but the truth is simple.

We didn't choose them, God did.

and I believe that God chose us to adopt them, not because we are "saints" and have it all together, but because we are the least likely. We fall in the catagory of weak, young, irresponsible, nieve, in way OVER our heads, but that is exactly the kind of people God loves to use.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; (check) not many were influential (check); not many were of noble birth (and... check) But God CHOSE the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things (I can't help but picture all the precious children around the world labled worthless to this world because of their special needs, Jesus sees THEM. Jesus chooses THEM.) and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who have become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

So you see, we're not saints, we're far from wealthy, and we're definetly no where close to ready for this next journey God is calling us to.

We're just an average young family that truly believe that because we call ourselves Christians, our lives should resemble Jesus' life. Our hearts should break for the things that break the heart of God, and we should risk everything so God can be glorified through our weakness.

With all that said, time to do a little boasting!!

When we first began this adoption journey I had some doubts that we would be able to fundraise enough in such a short amount of time, but after seeing God move this month we are now confidently trusting that God WILL make a way.

Since announcing our adoption, we have had an out pour of support and love from others, some already close friends, some complete strangers, but now forever friends, and some people who have chosen to remain anonymous (You know who you are, THANK YOU!!)

This past month we have had a t-shirt fundraiser, jewelry party, I've sold dozens of burlap wreaths, hot cocoa and Russian tea jars, and just a couple days ago we had an awesome event at Dunn Bros, not to mention, the fundraisers the Gathering Family has had going to help with our adoption!!

It has been a full month! On top of all that, I've been working a lot to help cover our home study fees.

It's been crazy and this mama is TIRED!!

We are ready to go home for Christmas to refresh and relax as a family.

We wont be planning quite as many fundraisers next month since we'll be focusing on completing our dossier (a ton of paperwork that will get sent to our children's country), but I still have some awesome ones up my sleeve so stay tuned :)

Now for some numbers!! I know you've all been waiting for me to update our thermometer!


Our FSP is now at 2,117.65 (it seems to have gone up a little or a lot each time I check it!!)

Baby girl is on Reece's Rainbow's angel tree this year! The purpose of angel tree is to get each child's grant up to $1,000. She is clearly loved because angel tree has raised $430.20 for her adoption. with what she already had, her grant is now at 506.70

Reno had $103.50 in his grant. We will recieve both children's grant money when we are ready to travel.

We raised $274.58 from our awesome t-shirts!!

$305.65 from selling our wreaths and jars!!

We had such a beautiful day for our event at Dunn Bros. Everyone had a great time and we raised $1,160!! Which includes alot of wreath orders :)

So our grand total raised during the month of December is

$4,468.08

To God be the glory!!

Thank you to everyone who donated even one penny to our adoption. You are being used by God in such an incredible way to change the lives of His dearest ones... the ones that are so often overlooked, neglected, and abused by this world.

Thank you for standing in the gap for them and declaring through your giving that their lives DO matter.

We love you all and thank God daily for your support. 

Praying each of you have a merry Christmas and Happy New Year in the days to come!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

All I want for Christmas...


This song came on the radio this morning and I've been a mess ever since.

We are in such a good place as a family. Ivan is a completely different child than the terrified, traumatized little boy we brought into our home last year. This Christmas his eyes sparkle with the joy and wonder that every child should have this time of year.

The ability to rest in the love and security of a family is the greatest gift we can give a child.


Ivan is one life that has been changed forever, but there are so many more... and we feel it this year. In every precious moment we share as a family, Ryan and I can sense it, that all to familiar feeling that something... someone is missing.

It's the feeling that keeps me awake at night, praying for the little ones who will one day make our home and heart even fuller.

Adoption is hard...

I hear it all the time,

"We would love to adopt, but it's just so expensive."

Yes, yes it is expensive.

The financial cost is great, but the financial cost is nothing comapared to what adoption cost you.

Adoption will change you.

It will wreak havoc on your heart like nothing you ever imagined.

You will be an emotional basket case during the entire adoption process and it will only get worse once you finally get your child home and you have to battle your selfish desires everyday and even fight off the nagging feeling that you've made a terrible mistake.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm glad it is so expensive to adopt.

Adoption is something that has to cost us absolutely "everything".

If we are not willing to spend greatly for the sake of a child, there is no way we will make it when the dream becomes a reality and our lives and hearts are left in shambles.

I will be honest with you, I hate fundraising.

I hate admitting that we don't have the money we NEED to be able to ransom these children on our own.

But you see, this is just another lesson we need to learn before we bring these precious ones home.

Just as we cannot ransom our babies on our own, we cannot be what they will need us to be by ourselves.

We will need your prayers, your encouragement, your support on the hard days when we wont want to get out of bed.

I am reminded of all of the people that came alongside us to help us bring Ivan home.

I hope that as you read each of his monthly updates you realized that the reviving of his life couldn't have been possible without your support.

And now we're asking again....

Not because we want to mooch off of your generosity, but because we know it takes more than a village to raise a prior orphan.

We want you to experience the joy that comes with investing into the redemption of these precious ones who are extra dear to the Fathers heart.

We want you to play a role in making a little boy and a baby girl's unspoken wish for a family come true.

Please, help us make this, the last Christmas that these precious children spend alone.

I'm working on making some wreaths to sell and should have pictures up in the next couple days, but we still have our t-shirt fundraiser!!

We only have a week left and we need at least 10 shirts sold for them to print!

I realize that there's so many great organizations and causes to support this time of year, but please know that anything you can do to help us bring our precious little lovies home is so appreciated and makes such an eternal difference.

The proof is in the pictures!!


Thanksgiving Day last year. He was shell shocked by his first holiday. Snuggled with his daddy, but stiff as a board, not able to relax.

So much sadness and fear in those eyes. It breaks my heart to remember.
This Thanksgiving there was no trace of fear in his big brown eyes! Only the joy and wonder of a child who is loved beyond measure!!


Can you imagine his face a year after knowing that kind of love??


And I know it's hard to imagine this face any cuter, but just wait till she is HOME!!



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ready, set, go!! (Maxwell adoption t-shirts, the sequel)

Time to let the fundraising commence people!!

We will be getting a thermometer on our blog again soon so we can track our progress, but right now we need roughly 25,000 to bring our babies home!!

That is a LOT of moola, believe me, I know.

But we've seen God provide before and we know He will be faithful again.

We are so blessed to have such an amazing group of friends, family, adopted family, and complete strangers who are also complete family because they have joined us on this mission to rescue and love the least of these.

We cannot do this alone.

Please pray about joining us in the plight of the orphan and help us bring two precious children into their forever family.


Almost right after announcing our adoption, Kelsie, from Gathering families, messaged me. She started her message with "this is going to be a very exciting email!" She didn't disappoint! She went on to share about how she has been waiting to find out who Reno's family was because she felt strongly that she was supposed to help them bring him home. She explained that her ministry chooses two adopting families at a time to help raise funds for. "I pledge to you that I will raise you $5,000 or fund raise for you all the way up until Reno and Darah are home - whichever one comes first."

I lost it people! We had just announced our adoption the day prior and I woke up the next morning to find her message.

It was such an encouragement and confirmation from God.

Kelsie is an amazing woman with an amazing heart for orphans and adoption, and God is using her ministry in incredible ways. We are so honored to be chosen as one of two of the families that she is fundraising for right now.

She has tons of fun things to purchase! There are T-shirt sales, cookie clubs, an ongoing online auction/store with donated items, a commissioned knitting project option, and so much more!

So go check it out!

 www.gatheringfamily.org 

We also are launching our adoption t-shirt fundraiser on Booster today!! We have two weeks to reach our goal of selling 100 shirts.  These super awesome t's were designed by my very best friend who also just happens to be the most handsome and talented husband in the world! They turned out pretty sweet so please go check them out and don't forget to buy extra with Christmas coming up (wink wink)


I think it goes without saying again, but I have to say it none the less. We appreciate your prayers and support more than I could ever blog and surely more than I could ever fumble to describe in person. 

Words will never be enough to express the depth and weight of what it means to bring a child out of a life of purely "existing" into a home where they truly "belong". 

I pray God fills your hearts with the joy that your support brings to ours! 



Monday, November 24, 2014

Miracles (Just enough, just in time)

We have been keeping an exciting secret for months now, always waiting on one more miracle to happen...

Well I'm thrilled to share that as of Nov. 20th...







AGAIN!!!

The beginning of this process has been much different than Ivan's. With Ivan's adoption, God called us to special needs adoption, we said yes, saw Ivan's picture, and began the process right away.

This time was quite different...

After our miscarriage we were disoriented, confused, angry at God. We felt like God was leading us in a certain direction (growing our family) and then in an instant our future and our dreams were stolen from us.

We grieved....

hard....

But we sought God in our grief and found healing in knowing that God's ways are so much higher than ours.

We knew God gave us Dawson for a reason.

Before I found out I was pregnant we had a plan. It involved working and saving for a house so we could move out of our apartment. We were both in agreement that after Ivan had been home for a year and we were in a house, we would start praying about growing our family again in whatever way God saw fit.

When we found out I was pregnant, Ryan began looking for a new job and we began house hunting and dreaming a new plan for our family. It is hard to explain, but in the instant we found out about Dawson, none of our old plans mattered. Growing our family now felt like the best thing in the world. We were filled with a joy and hope unlike anything I've felt before in my life. Those short three weeks we knew of our precious baby were precious and cherished beyond what I can explain.

So after my miscarriage Ryan and I both knew that we wanted to grow our family sooner rather than later. Our old plan was out the window and we began to seek God with open hearts. We truly thought we would have another biological child, but after a couple months of trying to get pregnant again, God began stirring our hearts for adoption.

Then came a season of wrestling with God. We told him every reason why now was not a good time for us to adopt again.

We just didn't feel ready...

But, as usual, God was persistent, in his obvious but tender way, and we eventually threw up our hands in surrender.

Okay Lord, if you want us to adopt again then You need to get us into a house by the end of Oct. (when our lease ended) and extend our USCIS approval before it expires.

Both of those things looked impossible to us. At the time we made God that challenge we only had a couple months until our lease would end.

Right away we began taking steps out in faith. We believed that if God wanted us to adopt then we WOULD be able to buy a house and update our approval. So I emailed our facilitator from our last adoption and asked her what was necessary for us to update our adoption approval.

Because we were approved to adopt two children last time and only brought home Ivan our case file was still open at USCIS (The division of the US government that grants approval for a family to adopt a child from a different country). In order for us to update our approval we would need to update our FBI fingerprints, get a home study update done, and send it to USCIS before our prior approval expired.

We were on a MAJOR time crunch!!

 I was shocked to find out that our needed fingerprint update would expire the coming Monday. It was Thurs. so I hurried up and sent in our request to update our fingerprints and it was received the next day!!

JUST IN TIME!!


Quick picture before putting it in the mail, still not knowing if this would ever end up in a future adoption journal

 At this point, we were walking blind. Just going about our lives, but still taking whatever steps we could and trusting God with the outcome.

Also around this time, I laid my eyes on an updated picture of a little boy with a heart defect that I have loved since before bringing Ivan home. Reno was a little boy I had advocated for on many occasions. I found out that a family had tried to adopt him, but were unable to because his paperwork wasn't ready. I reached out to the woman who had met him and she told me how sweet and amazing he is and how much he wants a family of his own.

My heart melted.

Here was a little boy almost exactly one year older than Landon, also with a special heart and all he wants is the love of a family.

She also told me that if a family does want to adopt him they should do it soon because he is doing so well there's a chance his medical condition may not be considered severe enough to qualify him for international adoption if they were to update his medical record any time soon.


Could this precious little boy be the reason God is stirring our hearts again?? I wondered

Ryan and I began praying about him and God filled our hearts with a great peace in the midst of the raging storm of unknowns we were facing.

We were scared... we had decided that if we ever adopted again we would pursue a baby girl with down synrdome. We felt strongly about that and assumed that was a desire God had placed on our hearts. So this...

This didn't make sense!

We definetly did not think we would pursue another boy, let along an older child.

But God...

His ways are higher than our ways and His plans are increasingly more wonderful than anything in our wildest dreams.

So we committed to Reno (not his real name), but nothing could be public because we didn't have a new address to write on our commitment forms.

Telling Reece's Rainbow we wanted to pursue adopting him was just another blind step of faith we felt we needed to take.

So now this was beginning to feel real. We had a face, but we were trying to hold back our hearts from falling in love with this little boy because everything still looked so impossible.

The next hurdle would be updating our home study, which is impossible to do until you are in the home that you will be bringing your adopted children into.

But I reached out to our past home study social worker and she told me that she no longer travels to do home studies.

Another huge hurdle....

Long story short, after a lot of time passing, prayer, and God moving and opening doors, our social worker made an exception and agreed to updating our home study!!

Now we just needed a house...

We had looked at a few homes here and there, but every door we tried to open came slamming shut in our faces.

I was getting very discouraged!

I wish I could tell you we never doubted.

I wish I could tell you that we prayed without ceasing and our faith was unwavering, but I can't.

The truth is, I didn't see how it would come together. We didn't have the money for a down payment and we just couldn't seem to afford anything in this crazy housing market.

Aren't you glad that even when we're faithless, God remains faithful!!  2 Timothy 2:13

We had less than a month until our lease would end.

We had basically come to terms with the idea of renewing our lease and "maybe" pursuing adoption later, when we got a call from our realtor saying that there was a new house on the market that she wanted to show us.

We went and looked at it that night.

Made an offer the next day.

Received our down payment almost right AFTER putting in the offer. (Yes, you read that right!!)

JUST ENOUGH, JUST IN TIME

The sellers accepted our offer the next day!!

Our closing date was set for Nov. 14th, but miraculously got moved up to Oct. 29th.

We moved into our new home two days before our lease ended!!

God came through!!

JUST IN TIME!!

In front of our gift from God

So now all we needed was our home study update done and our documents and request for our extension sent to USCIS by Nov. 20th.

If we didn't get our stuff to them on time we would have to start over from scratch due to some changes in adoption laws since our last adoption. But if we got our stuff there on time we would be grandfathered in, meaning our process would be MUCH FASTER!!!

I was consumed with anxiety when we found out we wouldn't be able to have our home study visit until Nov. 11th. that would give us just a little over a week to get our update written, corrected, and sent in to USCIS.

Truthfully it looked pretty impossible.

I sent our beloved package out on Nov. 15th, but I missed the time of pickup so it didn't actually get sent out until Nov. 17th.

I will never forget how I felt driving home from my mad dash to the UPS store. I made it there at 3:42 and they closed at 4, but it ended up not mattering since pickup had already taken place.

You would think a woman who had just been handed a house from God wouldn't struggle with doubts, but again, I found myself angry and scared.

Everything was out of our hands now all we could do is pray for a miracle.... and wait.

Fast forward through the agonizing wait to Thurs (Nov. 20th), I knew that our package had made it to USCIS, but their systems were down so they couldn't transfer me to our case officer (same person we had for Ivan's adoption).

I received an email from Reece's Rainbow telling me they had received all of our commitment forms and asking if we were ready to make our adoption public? Ryan and I discussed it and he gave me the go ahead, but I was still hesitant.

Lord, I really wish I had absolute confirmation that our file made it to our officer.

Just then my phone alerted me that I had a new voicemail.

I stopped writing my reply, clicked listen, and held my breath.

It was our case officer, she informed me that our file had made it to her desk THAT MORNING AND WAS BEING PROCESSED!!!!

I promise you I'm not making this up!! It got to her on the very day it expired!!

JUST IN TIME!!

Ryan and I screamed our heads off and jumped up and down we were so excited!!

Months and months of praying and fighting doubt had paid off.

God of miracles!!

With tears of joy I pressed send on my email and an hour later our adoption was made public for all to see!!



So I saved one of the best parts of our adoption story for last since it is just too beautiful for words.

Not long after committing to Reno in our hearts, I found myself drawn to a baby girl on Reece's Rainbow. I'd frequented her profile and couldn't believe that such a gorgeous baby hadn't been committed to yet... then I did something crazy.

I contacted a women who is known as one of the best at finding out where children are located. I asked her if she could find out where baby girl was and in my heart I knew it would be a miracle if she was in the same region as Reno

Yep, she was!!


We now know that her and Reno are not only in the same region, but the same orphanage!! Only God could write this story!!

I showed Ryan her picture and it didn't take long for us to agree that if God would make a way, we had to try to adopt her as well.

We didn't even know if we qualified financially to bring two more children into our home, but with Ryan's new job we make...

you guessed it, JUST ENOUGH :)

Looking back I am in awe of how God works.

He used a precious unborn baby, one that we will never hold this side of Heaven, to change our hearts and redirect the entire path of our family. If it wasn't for Dawson Ryan wouldn't have his new job, we wouldn't be in this perfect little house, and we wouldn't be fighting to save two more precious lives.
 
I hope everyone who reads this can see that we are not above doubt and fear, but our hope is that through sharing our crazy journey, God is highlighted in every aspect of our brokenness.

He will always be just enough for you and His timing, although sometimes annoyingly precise, is always abundantly perfect.

We would be honored and blessed if you would support us through this journey again.

Above everything, we need prayer. Prayer is what moves the mountains and breaks down any barrier standing in our way.

Right now, our biggest mountain is money. This process could go extremely fast this time. It's not unrealistic to think that we could have the children home in 6 months.

Obviously this means we need to come up with a lot of money FAST.

It looks like an impossible mountain, but we know it is nothing for God.

Please be on the look out for upcoming fundraisers and if you feel led you can donate through our family Sponsorship page on Reece's Rainbow

We love you all!!

Here we go again!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One year Deeper

So much has changed in a year, but I never want to forget where we've come from.

I never want to forget how scared I was when I finally got Ivan out of the orphanage and had him in my care.

I remember calling Ryan, sobbing on the phone, and telling him that I didn't know how we were going to do this. "I know we expect this to be hard, but this is going to be so much harder than we could of imagined."

I was so scared... so scared of what my life was going to look like now with this little boy, whom we had fought to call son.

I haven't written about it ever on here, but the week we stayed in Kiev before flying home, was by far our hardest time. I was alone and exhausted and Ivan was scared out of his mind and grieving losing everything that he once knew.

I remember counting down the minutes each day, reminding myself that if we could make it home, maybe things would get better, at least I wouldn't be alone anymore.

At that time, if I wasn't holding Ivan, all he wanted to do was slam doors or bang his head on anything he could find. His way of self soothing was banging his head or biting himself incessantly. This was the only stimulation he had while he laid in a crib for years, when one is so starved of sensory input, even harmful behaviors can bring a false sense of comfort. If I stopped him from self harming, he would bite, pinch, scratch me. I remember how my arms were full of bruises when we finally made it onto American soil.

I clung to the words that someone said to me somewhere along our journey, "nothing starts until you get home."

So I just prayed my way through each day. I felt lost and disoriented, but I continued to trust that God had a plan in this.

Eventually I did find something that would keep Ivan busy and didn't require any loud banging. We would go into the tiny bathroom, shut the door, and I would hold him while he played in the sink.... for hours. If I felt extra strong, I would fill the bath and sit in there with him. He would splash, laugh hysterically, and pour water all over his face and head. He was so starved for sensory input, but he was so overwhelmed by life outside of the orphanage.

I remember how I would put spotify on my phone and listen to "oceans" by Hillsong United over and over and over and over again.

I let the words cover me, not unlike my new child was doing with the water in front of him. I was desperate for comfort. Desperate to find any hope I could cling to...

I would belt out the words with tears pouring down my face...

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
let me walk upon the waters
wherever you would call me.
take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
where my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior.

I will call upon your name
keep my eyes above the waves
my soul will rest in your embrace
I am yours and You are mine.

I would close my eyes as I sang and when I opened them I would see this child who was requiring such a deep kind of love from me.

Could I love deep enough

Could I keep my eyes above the waves and trust that God could redeem even this kind of hard.

Yes, I never want to forget who I was in those moments. I was so desperate for God... every second.


We are one year deeper now...

One year deeper into this love that requires everything of us.

We have learned so much and come so far, but God's love is deeper than the oceans and we plan to keep on diving.

Somewhere along the way I realized that this journey wasn't just about Ivan finding love and his life being spared and redeemed, but maybe even more so, it has been about Ryan and I discovering a "deeper" love than we ever imagined and our lives being spared and redeemed.


This past Sunday was Orphan Sunday, the day set aside for the world to unite for the cause of the orphan. Thousands of churches around the world joined in prayer and advocacy for these precious children.

I was nervous because at the end of the service, I would be sharing, briefly, our adoption story. I was stressed out from our move just a couple days prior, but I was trying to reflect and worship.

When the worship band began playing... you guessed it... "oceans", I couldn't hold in the tears. I stood there, eyes closed, belting out the words, meaning them just as much today as I did a year prior when I was alone and desperate in a tiny bathroom in Kiev, Ukraine.

I was in awe of God's goodness, His constant faithfulness, and how far we truly have come.

As the song came to an end, I opened up my tear filled eyes to see my son, the one whom I was so scared of only a year ago, with his little hands raised up as high as he can reach, praising the God of healing and true and perfect comfort.

We are one year deeper now... people ask us if it was worth it.... if we will ever do it again... I'll let you decide ;)


Father thank You for Your redemption and grace. Thank you for choosing the most unlikely young couple and calling us out of our boat of comfort into the deep waters of your unfailing, unconditional love. Thank You for using this adoption journey to change Ivan forever and THANK YOU for using this adoption to change Ryan and I FOREVER. We believed before in the deepness of your love, but now we have experienced the beauty of the plunge and we never want to stop diving.

Thank You for filling in every place where we have failed to love like You. Thank you for your continual redemption of this precious life. He is all ready our world changer and I know You will continue to use him to soften hearts and lead others to Your deep love.

To you be every drop of the glory Father!!