Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Midsummer update and a few more photos of our son

This space has gotten quite quiet for the last several months.  Life is happening and as much as I love this space, I find little time to document all that is happening.

The summer has been busy with many fun and crazy things happening.

9 months ago THIS happened . . .

October 2015


July 2015 


It is so hard to believe that it has already been 9 months!  Felicity is doing amazingly well!  She had her palate surgery in January and is currently going through speech therapy.  She is saying more and more, but I think we may be the only ones who truly understand what she is saying!



The boys are doing well. We have had fun adventures in Harpers Ferry and vacation in Cape Cod.  They all swam on the swim team and Andrew made his first B meet!!



In June we were rear ended (badly), our van was totalled. Thankfully, the worst of the injuries seem to be me, but thankfully Physical Therapy is helping a bunch.  Thanks to my father who spent countless hours looking for a vehicle for us and found us a new (to us) Town and Country!  We love it.



On the adoption front . . .



We are getting so close to being done with our home study.  We really thought the process would go more quickly this time, but it is not.  It looks like we will probably travel in March, which will be great.  My one struggle with this adoption was that it was not on my timeline (because, you know, my timing is more perfect than God's  . . . . )  I had really hoped that we would get matched with a child late summer/early fall so that we would travel over the summer and it would not interfere with the boys' school.  Yes, we do homeschool and are flexible, even with being a part of a tutorial.  But, I really did not want that for the boys school year to be disrupted again this year.  But, as our process with Thomas gets longer and longer, there is a high likelihood that we will travel right around Easter which would be perfect as the tutorial we are a part of does not meet for three weeks around Easter!

Just two weeks ago, a family from AL, who adopted a little boy from Felicity and Thomas' orphanage, were in China to get their son.  They took a care package from us to Thomas and were able to get a bunch of photos!  We think he is just the cutest and cannot wait to get him home!


Now that there is a paperwork lull, I am beginning to work on fundraisers.  I will be honest, this adoption is tough in many ways.  First. we walked into this adoption knowing we could not pay for it, but knew that God was calling us to it.  Second, truthfully, I am burned out from fundraising for Felicity's adoption.  Add on to that that I have a toddler in the home that takes up 98% of the time I used last time for fundraisers and you get one adoptive mom who is not totally prepared to handle fundraising $30,000 (because the second adoption is no less expensive than the first!).





Right now, I have  a few smaller fundraisers planned.  I am making bracelets which will be sold on my Facebook page.  I you are interested, please like this page  or follow me on Instagram @runningwithboysandagirl for more details.  Some of the bracelets have really beautiful crucifixes and medals.  I have loved making these because I do not get a lot of time to do something creative, and this has been a great outlet.


After that, we will be hosting a virtual run called Run for One(less).  This will be in place of the Run for the Little Flowers (the run for LF will be back next year, there is just no way I can take on raising money for LF this year, when we have our own mountain to move).  I will post details about that in a few weeks.

Beyond that we have nothing definite planned.  We have talked about a fundraising dinner and/or pancake breakfast, but those are still just in the "thought" stage.  Surprisingly, I am fairly at peace with it all.  I have NO IDEA where all the money will come from for this adoption, but God is calling me to a deeper trust and I am working and praying hard to walk in that trust as we walk this road and as the larger checks will need to get written.

Have a happy week everyone!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

An open letter to my son

Dear Joshua,

You know I watch you.  Watch you as you swim each stroke.  And I see the dissapointment in your eyes as you hop out of the pool; hitting the wall after others.  And I want you to know something my wonderful son.

I see you dive in, swim the pull out effortlessly.  You come up and begin the breaststroke.  And watching you, it truly is a thing of beauty.  My eyes well with tears as I watch you swim.  You are beautiful to watch in the water.  You know that I think that.  It is not just because I am your mom, but because, as I see you swim, swim against others that are faster, I see the care that you put in each pull, in each glide of the stroke. Not all swimmers have the beauty and grace you do in the water as you swim breaststroke, even if they get to the finish line faster.

I want you to know that it matters. What you do, how you do it.  It matters.  This is your art and the beauty with which you complete each stroke, is giving glory to God.  And it not only makes me smile, but it puts a smile on the face of God as well.

If I could help you understand one thing right now Joshua, it would be this.  Winning is great.  But pushing yourself to be your best is better, and fully doing whatever you are doing with care and precision, well, that is your art, and when you live out your art, that is the best.  It is ok to not be the fastest or strongest.  It is ok to not be the first to cross the finish line.  Ultimately, I hope that as you swim lap after lap, that you recognize how all of these things apply to the spiritual life.  That, ultimately, God does not want you to muscle through and finish first for your glory, but He is calling you, all of us, to grow in virtue, to do everything we do with prayer, with intention, no matter how we do in the eyes of the world.  When we do that, we become stronger on the journey toward heaven  And when we do that, what we are doing becomes a thing of beauty.  And it gives Him glory and you joy.

May you feel that joy, dear son, because you certainly bring me joy each and every day.

Love,
Your Mom


Friday, July 17, 2015

A reflection on the year

Last year
We are on vacation this week. Being in Cape Cod usually makes me wax poetic and reflect a lot.  This year is no different.  I have been thinking about the last year. Being here, at this moment, has brought up a great deal of memories.  Last year at this time, two days into our vacation, we got a call that our agency had gotten the hard copy of our LOA.  That is the moment in the adoption process where time finally seems to speed up and you are literally on the fast track to China.  Just a few more steps and a few more documents and you are boarding a plane to China.  For me, it was when the yearning to just get Felicity home got worse and I just wanted to be on the other end of those documents.  So, when we sat on  the same beach that I wrote LOA in the sand and posted for the world to see, the flood of emotions came back; but this time Felicity was right there with me. Smiling and swimming and falling asleep in my arms.  There was a full circle sort of sweetness and joy to it all.

This year

But it hasn’t been just remembering the events of our last vacation; I have been reflecting a lot on the whole year since our LOA.  The travel, bringing Felicity home, and her becoming a part of our family.  This year has been oh, so easy and natural, yet very unnatural and hard.  It has been one of the most tiring of my life and my emotions have seemed to reach new highs and lows.  I cannot quite put into words all that has happened this year in me, personally and spiritually, yet I feel I could write a book on all that God has shown me in all of the sweet and hard moments from the year. From the outside, I hope it all looks simple and seemless, yet this year is not what it seems on the surface.  Do not misunderstand me, most of the time, I would not say adoption and this past year have been hard.  For much of it, I think we have taken it in stride; all of the changes thanks to heaping amounts of grace and prayer warriors that have carried us through.  Yet, when I have sat and reflected on this past year over the last few days, I have realized just how tired and challenging, in an oh so beautiful, get ready for God to rock your world and an incredible amount of growth to come your way sort of way.


For the first time I think I am grieving what we gave up.  Our little family of 5 had hit the “sweet spot”.  The boys were older.  All were potty trained and naps were a distant memory.  We could pick up and go on a whim. The house, for the most part could be cleaned in moments, as there were no toddlers around to knock games off shelves, or rummage through the pantry and get food all over.  Dates with the boys were regular occurences.  I could get my workouts in with ease and run on the treadmill during the middle of the day if I wanted to.  I could call friends or stop by a friend’s house for a play date for the kids and much needed mommy chat time for me. 


Now, there is an oh-so-cute, yet oh-so-needy toddler who needs attention.  Who needs momma to lay with her at nap and bed time.  A little girl that goes on date nights with my husband and I still because we both have not left her yet, at the same time, and which, we know will be a challenge for her.  Toys and games and you name it get thrown around the home. She is a girl who has decided it is necessary to scream anytime mommy gets on the phone.  I have had to be much more careful about our schedule, or lack of, how much time we spend with lots of people.  I have had to watch Felicity's cues carefully and I have learned not to get too set with plans.  I want to do this parenting an adopted child well and not mess up too badly.  There are nights I stare at her while she is asleep and am so thankful to be her mom, but so saddened by that same fact.  Because, I shouldn’t be you know.  There is a woman who gave birth to my daughter that should be be the one who gets to hold her to sleep.  But we live in a fallen world.  And so, I do the best I can for the sweet girl whose life was forever altered three days after she was born.
2014

2015 - Still not complete
As I sat on the steps in the warm sun today, listening to the boys playing a sophisticated game of cops and robbers, I realized all that we have gained and lost in the past year.  This year has been full of growing pains for the whole family and just when we started to exhale and breathe deep all that has been this year, we begin the process again.  Those pictures I took last year in this same place, and said “Next year, this picture will be complete.”  Well, it isn’t.  And that same nagging feeling of having a child across the world that should be with us now, but is not, is still here.  And we are in this beauty of the fulfillment of God’s promise of Felicity and this emptiness of missing Thomas all at the same time.  And I still hear myself saying, next year we will all be here. We will all be together. 

I wonder how we will all do with two years of the same growth and craziness. The same cocooning, and sleepless toddlers, and doctor’s appointments. The wonder and worry of attachment and bonding and another child being melded into our family.  I may not have the answers to all of those questions, but I do know one thing . . . . it will be worth it.  The sacrifice, the growing pains, the sleepless nights, the work for attachment, the conversations missed.  It will all be worth it.  Because there will be one less orphan in the world.  One more member of our family. One more smile to wake up to in the morning.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What is He asking you?

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” 
“No,” they answered. 
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said,
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”   Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.
Then he said to him, “Follow me!” 
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:1-17)



                Shortly after Easter, about a month before we felt God was calling us to pursue adopting Thomas Joseph, the above scripture would come to mind frequently when I prayed.  I felt like I was in Peter's place; in the boat, fishing all night and not recognizing Jesus when He asked me to cast my nets again.  I doubt, just as I am sure Peter did.  Why? Who are you to tell me what to do?  I have been fishing all night and caught nothing?  I begrudgingly throw my nets in the water.  And they are filled.  And then I see. It is the  Lord.

And then, just like Peter, I am beside Christ at the fire.  I can smell the burning wood. hear the crackling fire.  And Jesus asks me a question, but a different one than Peter's . . .

"Katie, do you TRUST Me?"

And, I admit, that I stammer in my answer.  My answer is somewhat timid.

"Yes"

I mean, of course I trust Him.  But I am asked again.

"Do you trust Me?"

Don't we all trust Him?  But, I search my own heart in prayer and my trust is not really complete.  I live a somewhat safe life.  Even Felicity's adoption, which took much trust in Him, was still fairly safe as far as adoption goes.  He is asking of me total abandonment.  To walk blindly in faith in the direction He is calling.  And TRUST.

And through this time, He has reminded me that He is trustworthy. I mean, total, abandon all to Him, trustworthy.

"He is not here, for He has risen JUST AS HE SAID." Matthew 28:6

This Easter I was reminded, in a deeper way, that His words are true.  Gosh, I type this and it seems so simplistic.  Of course, He is trustworthy. Of course His words are true.  But, have I really been living with total trust and dependence on Him?

And that is why I am asked again . . .

"Katie, do you trust Me?"

And through this happening so many times during prayer, I realize something.  I do trust Him. Totally.  And I do not want to live a safe life anymore.  I want to abandon all for Him.

So, when we put Thomas Joseph's file on hold and there were signs along the way to show that this is God's will, I knew why God was questioning my trust.  This adoption had far more questions, than answers supplied.  On paper, it does not make sense. How is TJ's heart really?  How will Felicity adjust? How in the world will we be able to fund this adoption?  Will our boys adjust well with another adoption; another year of craziness and upheaval?

Jesus does not call us to live safe, to live the comfortable.  He calls us to trust and walk with Him for His glory and for our benefit.

And so I answer Him.

Yes, Lord.  I trust you because your are worthy of my trust.  You have shown us again and again through scripture that your words are true.  You rose from the dead.  Why shouldn't we be willing to abandon the safe and the comfortable for you?

"Follow me."

And in the moment, I wish I could say that I am holier than the first Pope, but I am just like him.

I look behind me . . . "What about them Lord?"  And I compare,  If You are calling us to this, what is their calling?  (Because it sure better be just as difficult.)

Jesus redirects me. It isn't about what others are doing or not doing and what their callings are.  This is about us.  Our family and following Him. That is it.

The question Christ asked me was about trust, but I think He asks each of us a different question.  What is the one thing that holds you back from following him with abandon, leaving fear behind? The answer lies in the question He asks each one of us.

What is He asking you?





Thursday, June 4, 2015

His name (and a picture too)!

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post called "Her name (and a picture too)!"  If someone would have told me that I would be writing a similar post in a year, I would have laughed at them.  It is all too fitting that my morning devotional started with the She Reads Truth Bible Study: Women in the Bible and I read about Sarah.  Oh, how we all often laugh in disbelief at God's promises.

It took us a while to figure out a name for our little guy.  Here we had pictures, videos and the certainty that God was calling us to adopt him, but we had no name. No idea of a name.  He was born right around the Feast of Pope St. John Paul.  A great man, and amazing saint.  But, everyone has a John Paul and as much as I love the saint, I was not too thrilled about naming one of my children after him (it is a character flaw, I rarely like to do what "everyone else is doing").  He was found on the Feat of All Saints (November 1st), an incredible feast day and one of our signs that God was saying yes, he is your son, but it does not really help in the naming process when it opens you up to the whole Communion of Saints! So, we procrastinated and just called him "little boy" for a while.

We had settled on a middle name fairly easily.  Joseph.  My mom had mentioned it in a phone conversation.  It is a family name.  My grandfather was a Joseph, and it is my father's and Pete's middle names.  But a first name eluded us. So I do what I do best, I pulled out a boy's saint name book and started calling out names one Saturday afternoon.  I read name after name and we would pause at a few.  We got to Thomas.  Pete, claimed his love for the name.  I wanted a biblical name, so it fit what I was looking for.  Plus, Thomas the Apostle and Thomas Beckett, two great Saints, were martyrs, so it would match Felicity's name.  I immediately identified with Thomas' doubt and through this adoption discernment, I doubted, but God was calling me to complete trust.  And then I turned to the page Thomas was on to look up the meaning of the name (I am really big into meanings).  It means  . . .

Twin

 . . . and I laughed!

At that moment I knew that he was meant to be a Thomas and he was meant to be ours.  He was meant to be Felicity's brother . . . because, so often, I said "it will be like having twins."  And I wanted twins.  Ever since a friend mentioned these twins at an orphanage in Papua New Guinea years ago.  Many of you may remember I wanted to adopt precious boy twins that were cared for by Little Flower Projects.  I prayed to adopt twins.

And a few days before we found his name, I was talking to a good friend. She said, "Well, Katie, you always wanted twins.  This is God's way of giving them to you."

So, yes Thomas Joseph is so fitting for our son.  Felicity's "twin".

We are beyond excited to bring him home.

May I introduce you to, Thomas Joseph . . .