Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19: I'm thankful for fresh pineapple!

I know... This one seems kind of silly and insignificant compared to most things I have posted this month. 


But one thing I have learned is to be thankful for the big and small things. Fresh pineapple is a small thing but it reminds me of big things. 

It reminds me of when I first truly fell in love with pineapple. My first trip to Nigeria in 2005... When I first fell in love with the Nigerian people. So many fond memories from my time there in 2005 and again in 2007. I told Okike, the missionary there, that fresh pineapple needed to be the 6th love language. 

November 18: I'm thankful for simple reminders, simple truth!

Yesterday was not the day I would win best teacher for. It was not the day I want to remember for long. It was just not the day any teacher wants to have. It was not horrible. It was not the worst day I ever had, but it was far from the best. 

I was grumbling and complaining. I was feeling crummy and not liking my job. I came across this on Instagram. 
This was the truth I needed yesterday. My job is a blessing even when it stinks because I need God to do it! I fail when I try to do it on my own and in my own strength. Truth. Hard truth at times. Needed truth at that very moment in time. Thanks Emily Jensen for posting it! 

November 17: I'm thankful Mandy's house sold!

This picture was taken the day Mandy and I went to close on her house when she bought it. This Friday I will go to sign the papers on the closing for the sell of her house. Lots of good memories and laughs were had here, but now that Mandy is living in India it is a blessing that her house has sold. Sunday we went and got the final things out of her house. It is crazy how quickly time flies. It seems like we were just there scrapping wall paper and painting all the walls. 

November 16: I'm thankful for seeing former students.

I was out doing some errands on Saturday and meeting a friend at Panera. This happens often when I am out and about, but I was blessed to see 3 former students. Two young ladies were having lunch at Panera. It was a surprise to see them and a joy as well. They were happy to see me and said they missed me. It is good to know you are missed... You know? I ran into another student at Lowes while he was shopping with his family. He greeted me with a hug. It was good to hear briefly how college was going for him. 

I'm grateful to know these young people and to have played a small role in their lives. It is such an encouragement each time I run into them!

November 15: I'm thankful for my sister!

This blog post could be one of the longest I write but a lot of what I'm thankful for about my sister is summed up well in these pictures. 

She would kill me if I told the whole story beind them. We will keep that between her and I but here is why I depict why I'm most thankful for her...

1.) She knows how to know, love and care for people well. 

2.) She can make me laugh and help me see another side of a situation if wouldn't consider. (Can you guess which pic this mighty refer to??)

3.) She and I got to work together for 7 years, just one hallway away from each other. We had many laughs, cries and vent sessions about our job but it was a great 7 years to work so closely together. 

I could say so much more but simply stated she is my sister. She knows me better than most. She is one of my best friends. She will be around for the long haul. 

November 14: I'm thankful for good vision!

In January of 2005, my parents blessed me by paying for LASIK eye surgery. I have never regretted getting it done. I have seen 20/20 since then. No contacts. No glasses. 

In Thursday, actually on November 24, I went for my yearly eye check. My eye doctor asks each time, "Are you still glad you did it?" Each time I reply, "Yep!"

The cool part about this yearly appointment is that my eye doctor goes to the same church and I had one of his sons in math at Southeast so we always spend more time catching up and talking about school, Kstate, etc. This year we chatted about his oldest son's recent engagement to another former student of mine. I love the small world I live in!

This hymn is a reminder of the vision that The Lord needs to be in my life. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13: I'm thankful for hymns of truth!

I grew up singing hymns. They speak so much truth. 

November 12: I'm thankful for my parents!

I've come to realize in recent years my upbringing was far from status quo. Though as I grew up, I didn't know this. I didn't know that families didn't all eat homemade meals together with the TV off. I didn't know that all families didn't all go to church together every Sunday. I didn't know that parents didn't go to all their kids games, programs, events, etc. I didn't know that all families didn't pray together. I didn't know that all kids weren't raised to work hard regardless of the praise they may or may not receive. I didn't know that all kids weren't in more trouble at home when they got in trouble at school. I didn't know that all kids weren't expected to get good grades and get to college. I didn't know that all families do not have two hard working, college educated parents. I didn't know that some people never made food from scratch. I didn't know that some people hired someone else to fix their cars, repair their house, or now their yard. 

The list could go on and on. But I do know how privileged and blessed I am to have been given these parents. 

November 11: I'm thankful for their service!

I'm a few days late as usual, but I'm grateful for the men and women who have given their time, service and many their lives for the freedoms I enjoy in this great country. 

It saddens my heart to see so many take the sacrifice of our veterans for granted. I'm privileged that both my grandpas served our country in the military and lived to tell about it. It was one of the things my late Grandpa Call talked about most frequently. Luckily before he passed, my dad and him got to go to Washington DC on a honor flight for WWII vets to see the memorial there. 

This picture is of a veteran I get to work with everyday! He is one of the best bosses I have! I'm grateful for his military service and that he is my "battle buddy" in the public schools. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10: I'm thankful for lessons on Biblical submission!

Our pastor has been preaching through Ephesians and came to the passage for husbands and wives. However, it is started in the previous verse. "Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

This verse was shared with me while I was working at a camp one summer in college. It was a difficult summer, mainly because of my direct boss. He wasn't really leading well and in my opinion, he wasn't deserving of my submission. One of my dear coworkers shared and encouraged me with this verse in the midst of our joint frustration with him. We were called to submit to his authority over us because of our reverence and walk with Christ.

Easier said than done. 

A lesson I reflect on often...


November 9: I'm thankful for rest!

I'm thankful for the rest The Lord provides. I'm thankful for weekends to relax, recuperate and rejuvenate.  Thankful for a king-sized bed that provides good rest!

By the way... Isn't the quilt beautiful?!?! My mom and I sewed it and she quilted it!

November 8: I'm thankful for the technology to connect!

We use technology so seemlessly now. At times it is an idol or distraction. For those reasons, I'm not always thankful for it

However, I'm thankful that it allows me to keep in lose contact with my sister in India. 

I'm thankful it allows me to communicate with friends and family near and far. 

I'm thankful it allows me to watch a former student play in their first D1 basketball game. 

I'm thankful it allows me to text Philip or a friend while at work when I'm having a rough day. 

Without it, these things would not be impossible but they would not happen as easily. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7: I'm thankful for good friends/former colleagues!

Today was a pretty rough day. 
Students were rude. 
I felt under attack.
It seemed nothing was working. 

I sent an email to a former colleague. 
He knew I was having a rough day by my short email. 
He asked what I was doing. 
It was my plan time. 
Next thing I know he and another friend were here bringing me a Frosty while they ate their lunch. 
Timing worked that their plan time at another school and mine overlapped today. 

We all used to teach in the same hallway and see each other everyday. 
This year I am at a new school. 
Our friendship is still there and even stronger now. 

Good friends, former colleagues, who know me well and still care for me well are what I am thankful for today. 

30 minutes with them today was encouraging. 
I am blessed!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6: I'm thankful for our neighbors!

Every weekday since school started this year our neighbor, Mindy and her boys come over to let Lucy out once or twice during the day while we are both at school. She offered and we couldn't refuse. We hadn't decided how we were going to deal with letting Lucy out when school started but her offer came before we had to decide. They often play and run around with Lucy which the boys and Lucy love to do. 

They have been a huge blessing to us and today the boys gave us these pictures they colored for us! Our refrigerator know is a bit more interesting to look at!

November 5: I'm thankful for a "man and his dog."

Philip is an incredible husband and I'm so grateful for him! He serves, loves, cares and leads me so well. There are days where I would absolutely crumble under the stress or frustration and he lovingly listens and helps in any way he can. I am confident I am better with him than without him. He is my better half. 

Oh and the furry creature... Lucy! I'm thankful for her addition to our house. To be honest, there are days (and nights) where I am not thankful for her. But she is always joyful, always happy to see us come home and a pretty good dog (most of the time).



November 4: I'm thankful for my heritage!

You might be looking at the picture wondering how cookies demonstrate heritage...


Here's how... My heritage is from a family who loves the Lord and serves others well! These cookies are one small glimpse. My mom has shared her love and talent for cooking with so many people. She is gifted in hospitality. People love to come to her house for a meal as they know the food will be good, the conversation will be encouraging and they will be able to just sit for a while. 

She has learned and inherited these gifts from my grandma and great grandma who did these so well. Some of my fondest memories were spent at my great grandma's house after pre-school when we would make sugar cookies (the only kind of sugar cookies I like).  After we were done, we would take a few to each of her neighbors and sit and chat. As a 4 year old, I hated the sitting and chatting because I got bored easily. However, my great grandma was really good at knowing people, loving people and caring for people. 

There are many other pieces of my heritage I could talk about as this is one small glimpse of why I am who I am. 

Side note: my mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies and has the best recipe! I can only hope mine are as good as hers. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3: Our Adoption into God's Family

Today, on Orphan Sunday in November which is also Adoption Awareness month, I am grateful for my adoption into God's family. Without it, I have no hope. With it, I am coheirs with Christ. My heritage is with the saints in heaven.

November 2: Thankful for the Church

I am thankful for the Church!

Even though this post is a day late and Saturday is not the day I spend time at our church, First Free, yesterday was a Saturday where I was reminded of the impact and ministry of the church in my life. I spent part of my morning with some incredible women celebrating the birthday of one of our pastor's wife. Even though we were there to celebrate and encourage her, I walked away encouraged and blessed by her as well as the other women there.

Yesterday afternoon I got to sit down for an hour with Maggie Black. She has 6 kids and a busy life, but yet carved out time to chat with me yesterday.

Today in church, we were given an incredible sermon about God's glory being manifested when we meet in church as a body of believers to sing and worship together which edifies and builds up the body of Christ, his church.

Philip and I have attended First Free since we moved to Wichita in the summer of 2006 and we are so grateful for the body of believers we are a part of and the good ministry of God's Word that happens there each and every week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1: I am Thankful for...

The Sovereignty of God

This will be my first time posting something I am thankful for each day of the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving. I am (hopefully) going to post a picture with a short blog post each day.

This picture is not the obvious depiction of what I am thankful for today, God's sovereignty. However, if you've been following along with our lives the past year, you might realize this is a graph of the numbers we have received each month as to where we are on the wait list.

Some might look at this graph negatively because as you can see over the past 4 months there has been little movement (only one spot actually this month).

I see this graph as a perfect depiction of God's sovereignty because it is reminding me that he knows the child(ren) that we will adopt and it is in his perfect timing that our family will be brought together through adoption. Yes, I would love to see those numbers drop quickly. As a math person, I know a flat line means little to no progress.

God, in his sovereignty, adopted us as sons.
God, in his sovereignty, brought us together as a married couple.
God, in his sovereignty, started us on the journey of adoption in 2012.
God, in his sovereignty, knows the number of hairs (gray and dark brown) on my head.
God, in his sovereignty, knew us before the foundation of the earth.
God, in his sovereignty, created us as his workmanship to do good works which he planned for us.
God, in his sovereignty, knows the number we will get via email before it is sent.
God, in his sovereignty, knows.
God, in his sovereignty, creates.
God, in his sovereignty, saves.
God, in his sovereignty, loves.
God, in his sovereignty, gave his only Son to die on the cross for MY sins so I might believe in him and have eternal life.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Year + One Month

It dawned on me a few weeks ago that we have been on this journey to adopt for just over a year and a month. You can read more about all the details and timing of the journey on this post.

As we have talked about our first year on this journey, we are both surprised and grateful for how quickly it has gone.

Even though our journey on this road of adoption has been a large part of the last 13 months, our lives have been marked by other highlights... a few are recounted below:

1.) We both changed jobs at the start of this school year. Philip has left the role of a classroom teacher and serves as the Behavior Interventionist at the same school. This role keeps him very busy during the school day, but he enjoys interacting with more students and staff. He is also gaining great experience to help him move toward a principal job someday. I changed schools from Southeast to South. I was telling a few folks this week that I really could not have asked for a smoother transition. I'm still teaching math (algebra 1 all day) and working on completing my master's field experience.

2.) In June, we brought a little chocolate lab named Lucy into our lives. Much of our daily routine has now changed as we have adjusted to having a high-energy, four legged creature live with us. She is now 5 1/2 months old and quickly approaching 50 lbs. I actually think she gets bigger each day while we are gone to school. Owning a puppy has definitely had its high and low points, but we have learned a lot about ourselves, patience and puppy behavior.

3.) My sister moved to India in August to help start a school.

4.) In early September, we helped to launch and lead a young adult small group ministry on Sunday evenings.

5.) My classes are finished for my master's and we have thankfully paid for each class as I've gone through so that when my master's is finished we will have no school debt from it.

6.) Philip got to do some to do some traveling for free. In September 2013, he won us a free trip (all expenses paid except food) to the Desiring God Conference which included airfare, hotel and conference registration for both of us. In July, he went to Portland for a week to a conference on positive behavior support to train him for his new position.

7.) On the adoption scale, I'd like to think we are 50% of the way there, but we do not really know. We are well over 50% of the way through the paperwork. We have probably paid close to 50% of the total fees and expenses. Time will tell how long we will wait.

That is a very quick year in review... maybe it is true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Being a Parent

When you google the definition of parent, it says the following...

1.) a father or mother
2.) be or act as a mother or father to (someone)

Another definition that struck me said...

"a guardian, a proctector"
"to act as a parent to; to raise and nurture"

Wikipedia says..

"Parenting (or child rearing) is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotion, social and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship."

I know my sources probably are not the best or most reliable but I would doubt that I would find definitions or descriptions that would be far from the ones above.

As we have begun this journey of adoption with the end goal of starting a family by bringing children into our home and family, I have spent significant time thinking about "being a parent." I think most parents would tell us that you are never really ready to be a parent and you just learn as you do it. My mom likes to say that babies do not come with an owner's manual. 

We are taking the non-traditional route to becoming parents in the world's eyes but in God's eyes it is the route in which he parents us so adoption is the deepest rooted path to a family established by the creator of the universe. 

I could make a pretty long list of the training and requirements we have already gone through on this path to being parents, but do any these really train or qualify us to parent? Sure, they have been helpful an educational on what to expect and what to not expect. They have alerted us on the realities of bringing a child into your home who has only known the walls of an international orphanage as home. They have bluntly prepped us for potential medical, emotional and psychological issues that are present in many, if not most, internationally adopted children. These realities alone were enough to really cause us to pause and ask ourselves if we really are ready for this. Are we sure? Are we parent-material?

In the midst of asking these questions throughout this past year, God has brought to mind the ways he acts as our father. He has also shown and reminded me of the opportunities he has placed on our path to deepen our understanding and desire to be parents.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10

Recently our pastor began a series on Ephesians and this verse was the conclusion of the passage he was preaching through one Sunday. However, you must read Ephesians 2:1-9 to really grasp the emphasis in this verse. It is GOD who prepare these good works (like parenting) for us to walk into. He is glorified as we obediently walk in these good works. He gives us the gift of faith through grace to follow him obediently. 

This truth as well as so many others has been an encouragement to me in the midst of questioning if we are ready, if we are sure, if we really can and will be parents... Good parents. 

The Lord has also put so many opportunities for us to "practice" parenting. Since we are both teachers, we have had countless opportunities to, in a small way, be a parent-role in the lives of some of students. The amazing part of these opportunities is that the Lord has used those students to teach and shape us more than we probably influence the students. We had the opportunity to host a college student for the summer. My sister called him our "summer son." It was a great chance for us to learn how to support and encourage a student heading off to college out of state. The more we interacted with him, the more we found ourselves invested in his success. I am sure we only had a small glimpse of what parents go through as they send their children off to college.

There are so many faces and names of students who have impacted the parents we will be someday. Sebastian. Thao. Josh. Tram. Kaheem. Courtney. D'Avonte. Jeremiah. Kikelomo. Teya. Donald. Steven. Alex. Joe. Tyana. Rebecca. Mineka. Jay. Austin. Richard. Ryan. EJ. Amy. Antoine. Halston. and countless more could be added to this list.

And the more recent parenting training has been the newest addition to 2469 S Linden... Lucy, our chocolate lab. We brought her home in early June when she was just over 6 weeks old and barely more than 9 lbs. Now she is 5 months old weighing 43 lbs. (those stats are not exaggerated!) She has revamped and rescheduled our lives in many ways, most for the good. She isn't a perfect puppy, but she loves us unconditionally and forgives quickly. Yes she is a dog, but we learn a lot about ourselves from having her around. We learn that having something so small rely on us for everything is taxing and rewarding at the same time. We learn that functioning off little sleep is difficult. We learn that sometimes you get a good routine established just for it to get upset and you have to start over again. We learn that we have to communicate so that she is taken care of. We are reminded even though it would be easier at times to not have her around that sometimes the easy route is not the most rewarding or most beneficial.

Does all of that mean we are ready and prepared to be good parents? Probably not. We really have no hope apart from God's grace guiding us through it day by day. His grace is what has show us these lessons through these experiences. All we can strive for is that he gets the glory out of our lives as singles, young marrieds and someday parents.

Luke 12:48b "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." We have been given so much in all areas of life, but especially in the area of family and the parents who have raised us. We pray that we will be good stewards of these good gifts when our opportunity arises.


 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Timing of Everything (Adoption timing, that is):

**newest info will always be at the top**

Next up... We will get our September update to our number on September 3 as many members of the Ethiopia team will be traveling. A few extra days wait shouldn't be too bad.

August 1 - 86!! We could hardly believe how much movement we had this month. 16 spots! We were so excited that we moved so much but also that 16 more families were referred to their soon to be adopted child(ren). 19 children were placed with families this month!

July 1 - 102! We moved 7 places this month. Praise the Lord. This was very encouraging.

June 1 - 109 is the new wait list number. We hoped for more movement than just two places, but any movement is good.

May 1 - We received our first wait list number. 113. It was higher than we hoped, but we know God is in control. See blog post "The Weight of the Wait"

April 22, 2013 - We are officially DTC! Dossier to Country!

Once West Sands receives our dossier, they will review it to ensure it meets the criteria necessary and then they will send it to be authenticated by the State of Utah (where West Sands is located) then onto the US Embassy and Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. for final authentication. It will then be sent back to West Sands and they will mail it to Ethiopia. Sarah said this process usually takes 3-4 weeks so our dossier should be in Ethiopia by mid-April. We will then be on the wait list from West Sands. We will receive a monthly email (our first coming in May) with the number we are on the wait list.

Monday, March 18 - We got a call from Sarah (Ethiopia adoption caseworker in Kentucky) that they received our payment and documents and that she was taking our entire set of dossier documents to Fedex that day to be mailed to West Sands (agency that Lifeline partners with to place children from Ethiopia). She also asked for what our preference was that the agency will use when determining a referral for us as we are on the wait list. This is the wording we sent her: "We would like to adopt two children with the oldest not being more than 4 years old. We do not have a gender preference. We are interested in adopting twins under the age of 4 if available. If one child is available, we would want them to be 2 years or younger at the time of referral."

Thursday, March 14 - We received our I-171H which is the approval from USCIS for our I-600A application. This is the LAST document needed to complete and finalize our dossier!! We mailed this along with our last agency payment to Lifeline on Thursday as well.

Wednesday, February 27 - we both got our biometric fingerprinting completed!

Thursday, February 21 - Wichita was in the middle of a pretty large snow storm that ended up accumulating 14+ inches of snow, but we got up early so we could brave the weather and snow packed streets to get to the USCIS office prior to our appt at 8 am. With only getting stopped once and needing a push to get moving again, we made it down there to find out they weren't open due to the snow storm (there is no phone number that we could call to find this out... love government offices!). The sign on the door said we could come back on any Wednesday to get our finger printing done so our plan is to go this upcoming Wednesday to get this taken care of.

Wednesday, February 20 - mailed all of the dossier documents into Lifeline to be reviewed. Once we receive the approval from USCIS, this will complete the dossier and all the documents will be sent to Ethiopia via a few offices in the US for final approval.

Saturday, February 16 - received a notice from the USCIS that they could not continue to process our I-600A approval as there was a request for further evidence stating in our home study that we had neither been rejected for a previous adoption or had been given an unfavorable home study in the past. This was alarming to us, but once we were able to talk to Lifeline and our social worker we found out the request for evidence is not that uncommon. Our social worker has amended the home study and submitted the new home study to USCIS.

Early February- We received our biometric finger printing appointment scheduled for February 21st @ 8:00 at the USCIS office in Wichita. We were very grateful that our appointment was scheduled for the Wichita office and that we won't have to drive to Kansas City to get this done.

Friday, January 18 - mailed I-600A application with home study, copies of birth certificates, marriage license and application fee to USCIS for approval from immigration to make a petition to adopt an international orphan. 

Thursday, January 17 - received notarized and finalized home study in the mail.

Monday, January 7 - clearances from KBI and FBI came through.

Saturday, December 15 - we met with Sharon for our fourth and final home study meeting in Topeka as we were on our way to Philip's parents for Christmas that weekend. Sharon had sent us a draft of the home study document so we had proofread that and made a few slight tweaks. We also completed a checklist of medical and birth conditions that we were willing to accept in a referral of our adoptive child which Sharon will be adding to the home study document.

Monday, December 10 - Philip completed physical and blood work.

Wednesday, November 28 - Holly completed physical and blood work.

Saturday, November 17 - this was our third home study meeting. We discussed different aspects of the online training and readings we had completed. The main objective of this meeting was outlining the remaining pieces of paperwork that needed to be completed to wrap up our home study (financial worksheet, physicals with blood work, etc).

Friday, November 16 - went to the Police Training center to get our fingerprinting done for KBI and FBI clearances.

Monday, November 12 - Sharon came at 2 pm for our second home study appointment. We discussed different aspects from the training we had completed. Sharon also talked with both Philip and I individually. These individual conversations were mainly to determine if we were both on the same page in the adoption process as well as to get to know us better as individuals. She also gave us some more steps for us to pursue to check off the list. Some of these pieces are required for our home study and others are documents that will be included in our home study as well as the dossier.

We have both made appointments with our family doctor for physicals with lab work to ensure we are in good enough health to care for a child (these physicals have to be notarized). We have signed and mailed a clearance form to go to SRS/Child Abuse & Neglect Services to prove we have no criminal history related to child abuse. We will both go get fingerprints to be sent to KBI and FBI to receive clearance from those government agencies. We have contacted our employers to get a notarized letter verifying our employment and their expectation to keep us employed. We have contacted our insurance company to find out what percentage our insurance covers for any therapy (PT, OT, speech, etc) that our child may need as well as contacted the elementary in our neighborhood to see what services are offered there as well and all this info had to be filled out on a form for our home study. We also contacted the international adoption clinic at Children's Mercy in Kansas City for a form on what their fees are for an evaluation once we bring our child home. (The nurse I talked to was really nice!)

End of October - Early November - We have been working on completing the four pieces of our training for the education credits required as part of our home study. We have completed both online trainings as well as the online readings about the country of Ethiopia and now we are reading through the Connected Child book. All the training has been very beneficial. 

Saturday, October 21 - Sharon arrived around 10:15 and we spent the next 2+ hours sitting and chatting with her. This was not nerve wracking or stressful at all. We were not worried about it, but there was some anxiety about it being the first meeting and the first time we met with Sharon. However, we quickly warmed up to her and she to us and we all laughed often throughout our conversation.

Friday, October 19 - we spent about 2 1/2 hours getting our house picked up and cleaned up for our first home study appointment Saturday morning. I know this really isn't all that noteworthy, but we felt good about it and felt prepared to have our home judged as to its suitability to bring a child into it.

Monday, October 15 - talked on the phone with Sharon, our social worker from Topeka. She outlined a few details that we would be doing throughout the home study as well as scheduled our first home study appointment for the following Saturday at 10:30 am. She apparently has dealt with many families similar to us that want to keep the process moving and feel better if there are things we can be working to accomplish so she gave us the following list of education training and reading for us to begin working with that are required as part of the home study or required for the dossier. These included (1) buying and reading the book, The Connected Child, (we got it in the mail this weekend) (2) registering and paying for online training for 10 education credits from the National Council for Adoption (we both have to individually complete this and it involves about 10 modules that includes reading, articles and some video interviews with adoption experts, social workers and famillies who have previously adopted), (3) registering and paying for an online webinar training from Lifeline and (4) readings on the country of Ethiopia from the Department of State and Travel Authority websites.

We also both had to complete about a 7 page autobiography answering questions about our families, our childhood, our relationship, our values, etc. It was very detailed and somewhat time consuming, but we know that it too is part of the process for the agency and government of Ethiopia to find us suitable for adoption. BUT we both got it completed this week so that is checked off the list.

Monday, October 1 @ 8 PM - we had a phone orientation interview with Sarah (Ethiopia program caseworker). The phone interview consisted of brief questions for her to get to know us better, a quick run down of the timeline and requirements of the Ethiopia program (she called it drinking from a fire hose... but she did assure us that all the info would be shared with us more than once as we go through each step of the program) and then the required questions she had to ask each of us individually that thankfully we answered No to all the questions that needed a no response (I had to say Yes to the question on any traffic violations... Philip laughed at me!) and then we had the opportunity to ask any questions we had for her. 

The one thing she emphasized over and over again is that Lifeline is walking with us on this journey and they are there to serve us and answer our questions. This was reassuring to us and we are grateful for beginning to get to know Sarah and feel comfortable with the agency.

Our next step is to begin working with our Kansas social worker to set up the 4 appointments of our home study.

Thursday, September 27 - received a call from Sarah who is our Ethiopia caseworker that she had received our first set of documents and payment. 

Tuesday, September 25 - mailed in first set of documents to our Ethiopia program coordinator at the Lifeline office in Kentucky with the first agency payment. Once Lifeline receives these documents, they will schedule our orientation interview with our program coordinator that will be over the phone since she is in Kentucky and we are in Kansas. :)

Monday, September 17 - received email confirmation from Lifeline Children's Services that  we were accepted by them and will be contacted by one of their social workers to begin the process of the home study. Also, received two manuals (100 pages and 28 pages long) that outline the steps we will take to adopt. These were slightly overwhelming.

Friday, September 14 - received a call from Lifeline that they received our application in the mail.

Tuesday, September 11 - mailed Adoption Application, Doctrinal Statement & Christian Questionnaire and application fee to Lifeline Children's Services in Birmingham, AL. If you are curious what their application or doctrinal statement look like, you can find them here.

Late August - Early September - We narrowed down the agencies we were considering to three and chose Lifeline Children's Services because there is a branch office in Topeka which means they can also complete our home study. (If we chose an agency that was not in Kansas, we would have to find another Kansas agency to do the home study. We decided sticking with one agency for everything would be easier in the long run for us. However, many people use an agency outside of their home state and have no difficulty doing this.) The staff we contacted at Lifeline with questions was incredibly helpful and they returned our phone calls and emails very quickly. Their quick communication was a big plus for us.

Late July - August - We began researching international adoption as thoroughly as we knew how. We contacted friends who had gone through or are currently in the process of adopting internationally. We researched MANY agencies (Christian and not) that did international adoption from Africa. This website was a great starting point. We also contacted families who had used different agencies for their international adoption. (This was SO helpful!) We talked with family and close friends for feedback and advice.
      When we began our search, we were not sure about many things except we were sure we both wanted to adopt from Africa. We knew the cost to adopt internationally was immense so we also began researching supplemental funding options for adoption.

Late July 2012 - while driving home from dinner one night, I turned to Philip and said, "If we aren't pregnant by the end of this school, I think we should start the process to adopt."
Philip replied, "I think we should start now."
    As we talked about this further, we both realized we had been praying, researching and thinking A LOT about adoption and just had not talked with the other one yet. Philip did not want me to feel bad that we had yet to get pregnant and I was not sure if Philip was as ready as I was to begin the process. God was working in our hearts individually to bring us to a point where we were both ready to take the step together, as a couple... as a family.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

August

Tomorrow is August. 

Nothing exciting typically about the start of a month but August is usually a big month. This August... Well... It is pretty significant. 

It is the beginning...
... Of my 8th year of teaching. Time has flown by!
... Of my job at a new school.
... Of meeting 120+ new students and meeting 120+ new co-workers. 
... Of teaching my first online and my first college math course!
... Of forging new paths with new friends and new experiences!
... Of my sister's incredible, God organized career and address change to the other side of the world. 
... Of re-establishing who I am as a teacher with new colleagues, students and administration. 
... Of learning to connect well with close friends and my sister that are now far away in proximity. 
... Of some of my favorite students' journey into adulthood as they head of to college! (I'm so privileged to know and have taught some incredible students in the SEHS Class of '13!)
... Of 2 digit numbers on our adoption wait list number. 
... Of my final year of my 20s... I'm excited to fully embrace being 29 and ending my 20s well in the next year!

It is the end...
... Of my summer.
... Of an era, where my first place of employment at my first "real" job ends. 
... Of working 7 years just around the corner from my sister. 
... Of working with people and students who knew me for me and respected me. 
... Of seeing dear friends and my sister on a daily basis!
... Of 3 digit numbers for our adoptions wait list number! (Really hoping here!)

August is going to bring about some pretty big changes in what has been normal and comfortable or me but I know all these changes are for the good for what God has for me as well as others in my life!

Let this whirlwind of a month begin! Bring on August. There is no turning back no!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Weight of the Wait

We received a number today.

It was bigger than I wanted it to be.

I will admit that I did cry on my way home thinking about the reality, weight and wait of this number.

This number means so many things and could be interpreted a thousand ways, but in the end, it is one number.

113. It is prime (yes, the math teacher comes out quickly to analyze this number). It isn't a pretty number that is perfectly factorable or has a square root or even has some great significance.

Today though on May 1, 2013 it is the number we received.

What does this number mean?

112 + 1 = 113

That 112 children (more actually counting siblings) will be placed with their forever families and be orphans no more when we receive our referral.

That 112 families who have been on this journey longer than we have will have seen God's sovereign hand of provision by placing their newly adopted child into their family.

That 112 other families and children will be joined together through God's plan of adoption when God brings our number to the top of the list.

When I think of those meanings of 113, I can focus on God's sovereign plan and that this wait is worth it.

But before I go much further, I confess that the first thoughts that came to my mind on what this number means were, well, different than those above.

113 meant that though I wanted this number to be only a two digit number it wasn't.

113 meant that my perfectly planned timeline for the next 12-16 months may not be what actually works out.

113 meant that though we knew the stories of the wait time in adoption was difficult, that our story may also be the same and that this was maybe longer than I bargained for.

Yep. It is true. My first thoughts were all about me and my plans and the way I wanted things to work out.

As the tears came again unexpectedly, I decided to read Psalm 113.

Praise the Lord that The Word of God is living and active!

This word today, at this time, and even this specific numerical chapter out of His Word was exactly what my heart needed to hear.

I will let it speak for itself.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Miss Mustard Seed Milkpaint class from Abbé Doll

Yesterday I took my very first furniture painting & repurposing class from Abbé Doll.

I took a wooden chair that we got from my Grandpa Call's farmhouse.

I first painted it with French Enamel Blue. I used hemp oil so that the top coat would resist and create a chippy and worn look. I then applied the top coat of Luckette green.

We let the chair dry outside as well as used a hair dryer in some places. We then used a power sander to buff off some of the chipping paint as well as reveal some of the wood.

I finished it by brushing on a thin coat of furniture wax!

I had a blast learning from Abbé and hope to conquer a dresser soon!













Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Adoption Funding

As our dossier is being shipped across the country to be "authenticated" which is the last step before it will be sent to Ethiopia, we have begun to look into options to fund our adoption so we can continue this process, by God's grace, without debt.

There are two ways you can all help us in this endeavor.

If you love coffee as much as my husband does, you can order coffee from Just Love Coffee and a % of your coffee purchase will go toward our adoption. Just click here!

The second way is for any of you who order from Amazon. If you will click this link and order through the window that opens, a % of your purchase will go toward our adoption!

So read lots of books and drink lots of coffee!!! Thanks!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chevron!

If you have noticed the background of this blog, you can surely tell that I LOVE the chevron pattern!

My mom asked me the other day if I knew a theme or how I wanted to decorate a kids room. I have some ideas floating around, but do not feel I can settle one a decorating scheme (I like this wording better than theme!) until we know the age and gender of the kid/kiddos who will be joining our family sometime in the year 2014 (hopefully)!

One thing I do know for sure... is that CHEVRON will make it's appearance in this room and this video has me inspired!


Anyone want to help me out??

I love the idea of one line of the chevron continuning around the whole room while just having one wall of the room being the full chevron pattern.

I am planning to do more a two tone pattern similar to these pics below. I'm not quite bold enough to do the rainbow scheme shown in the video. I am interested in anyone's opinion if I should do a steep pattern like the middle picture or a pattern that isn't as steep like the top and bottom picture. Please feel free to offer me your advice/opinion!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reminders from The Blizzard of Oz

We have had a very mild winters as far as Kansas winters can go, but this winter did not end without a typically unpredictable snow storm which has now been named The Blizzard Of Oz!

This blizzard has afforded me four days off of work and has brought some important reminders that I had forgotten recently. So here are the top 10 things I was reminded of...

10. Unexpected extra time off of work is ALWAYS a blessing and God seems to know exactly when I need this time even when I do not know it myself.

9. It is ok to not be busy all the time. It is ok to spend a day without being productive.

8. I really enjoy cooking and baking! In the midst of the busyness of the school year, I do not take time to cook or bake for enjoyment. I was able to do this and not have to hurry! Pics below!
Made soup from a recipe book from my favorite lunch spot, Tanya's Soup Kitchen!
Homemade chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms! These were the best batch I've ever made!
Chicken Tortilla Soup is the best soup and so EASY to make! Yum!
7. I need to blog more regularly. It is kind of theraputic for me. I am not a great writer, but since I am both an internal and external processor (meet my parents so you understand why I am both), blogging is a way for me to accomplish both ways of processing. I have a few blog posts circling around in my head... hopefully I will make a point to blog a bit more often as things slow down in the next few weeks.

6. This winter has been really busy with working on my master's, working at basketball games two nights a week and working through the adoption paperwork so I am looking forward to the spring more than normal. It took this Blizzard of Oz for me to look back at this winter and realize just how fast it has gone and how much I have been doing. God has been good to sustain me during this time!

5. I am an extrovert, but not as much as I used to be. I'm sure you've all done some kind of personality test to see if you are an extrovert or introvert. I always score as an extrovert but not as extremely as I did in high school or college. It has been nice to be at home and not do much through these snow days, but after a few days I got a bit stir crazy and needed some social interaction.

4. I get the privilege of working with some incredible students. I am so blessed to get to work with high school students and see them grow up and mature. A few of my favorite students stopped by today and "decorated" my yard! They bring a smile to my face!
Making Betty the Baker snow-woman! Amy & Mandy were supervising!

3. I do really LOVE my job. This time away has caused me to actually miss it. At times of great frustration and disappointment at work, it is hard for me to not get lost in the things that minimize why I am there. Being away from my job for these four snow days but six days total has allowed me time to refocus and rejuvenate. I work with some great people and teach some great students (see #4 above)! As a colleague reminds me often, I can't let other people's WHAT keep me from accomplishing my WHY in what I do each day.

2. My husband is a ROCKSTAR! He shoveled our driveway probably six or more times in the course of this Blizzard of Oz and never complained. Aside from his snow shoveling powers, he is a great person to be "stuck" at home with, but it never feels like we are stuck actually. He is patient and understanding as he deals with my many quirks. As we walk this long road through the adoption process, I am grateful he is the one on this journey with me. We have learned much already, have accomplished much, but still have much to learn and a long wait ahead. He makes waiting a bit easier. He is going to be a really good dad too!

1. Snow is beautiful and WHITE! Changes the scenery from dingy brown, dry winter to a beautiful snowy winter wonderland! What a great picture of what Christ's sacrifice does to cover our sins!  Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Do you Just Love Coffee?

Any coffee lovers out there? Or do you know someone who loves coffee? If so keep reading!

There is a great organization called Just Love Coffee that has set up a way for adoptive families to raise money to help fund their adoption and it is so simple!

We have set up our own online coffee store through their website called The Ingram's Ethiopian Adoption. If you'd like to buy some coffee to help us out, please visit justlovecoffee.com/ingramadoption or you can click on the coffee bean picture on the right hand panel of our blog. All the details are there as well as far as the percentage of the proceeds that will go toward our adoption and how the store works, etc if you are curious.

We thank you for any coffee you drink on behalf of family!