Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lady lovebug's first Christmas presents 2011

It was so sweet on Christmas morning. Joshua and my mom bought two gifts for Lauren and had me open them. One is a children's Bible, from Joshua who said, "look mommy, it's just like mine - only hers came with a CD so she can learn the language". I was so touched that he would ask my mom, while in the Christian bookstore to get her a bible. He loves his Bible, and even though he's not quite reading all on his own, he's beginning... but he loves to read the stories through the pictures. He already thinks of her as his sister :) and I absolutely love that! The other gift from mom was something every Kentucky girls needs....... a Wildcat outfit :) This little dress is so cute - with "UK" embroidered and "paws" on the bloomers. You kindof have to be from Kentucky to really get this... we LOVE our University of Kentucky WILDCATS ... basketball team :)No doubt! The other item in the picture is a light switch cover that Joshua and Brad painted for me for my birthday, which was right before Christmas. I love it and think it will look great in Lauren's room. It's a castle design if you can't tell... with multiple colors perfect for her room. :) So there you have it little one... Christmas presents before you even arrive home :)








C-A-T-S.....CATS, CATS, CATS !! Goooooo....... CATS!


On other Christmas ramblings.... I'm not a big "after Christmas shopper". I don't really like all the crowd, lines, etc. And there is really nothing that I need however, this year ... right before Christmas I found myself shopping late and working hard to find ornaments that hold a photograph, because many were sold out. This is somewhat of a tradition because Brad's mom has collected for years Christmas ornaments with the grandkids' pictures in them. It is so much fun looking at her tree with all the kids and how they have changed through the years. Her family is the love of her life -- so even though we didn't travel to Rockford this year - I always try to mail her a photo. I finally found an ornament and got it off in the mail right before Christmas. During a last minute trip to Michael's craft supply... what did I see?? Really cute ornaments with photos in them.... so I registered it away...and thought, ok that's one place I will venture out to after Christmas for 1/2 price sale (so I'll already be set for Christmas 2012). ... So on Dec. 26th mom and I went to do a little shopping. I'm standing in Michael's going through ornaments and counting ...one for Nana, one for Grandma, and one for us.... oh wait!! I will have TWO children next Christmas!!! Two for Nana, two for Grandma, and two for us!! It was an amazing, yet surreal feeling.... visualizing her sweet little face in this picture at the top of the Christmas stocking ornament. Oh.... I can't even tell you how excited I am for that day to come!! We love you little Lauren...our Lady Lovebug... and we're counting days until "spring" when we anticipate coming to get you. You are loved!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas - a time of anticipation

It is such a beautiful time of the year, full of anticipation of the celebration of our Christ's birth. I'm so looking forward to spending our first Christmas Eve at our new church tonight. I look forward to the peace and calm of that moment. In our world of busyness and materialism, there is something so sweet about a candlelight service that reminds us of the night Jesus was born, with likely only the bright star and radiant angel lighting the moment. We reflect on the important things in life, like family, our faith, our friends...and our Lord.... and are we following His will...are we on His path? I pray that our desire to please Him does in fact please Him and that we always strive to follow His will.
Merry Christmas to all - for those we don't have your mailing address: Here was our Christmas card this year (yep, it had a picture of our feet):)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
During this season of anticipation, we continue to pray for Lauren's arrival in 2012.
Brad, Renae, and Joshua.





I can't help this Christmas, though, thinking ahead to next Christmas when our little Lauren will be home. As the date nears, our anticipation grows with great excitement. We are ready here at our house for that day. The only thing we lack is a high chair, bottles, (and I'm sure things on our packing list from our agency)... but basically, we have everything! I'm still focusing hard on my diet -- and have lost 30 lbs. -why I bring this up - some may think is silly, but I've been blessed with good health all my life, and still healthy now... but I want to ramp up my health with fabulous eating habits and exercise to clear my mind, be the physical person God wants me to be, "Crave God - not food" (which is the title of a book I'm reading), and be ready with extraordinary energy and vigor to face whatever challenges may come when we bring our little Lauren home. So I'm building new healthy habits involving limiting sugar (to zero), limiting unhealthy carbs, and adding exercise. I feel great! Having a birthday two days ago - was also another reminder raising a little one at 46 may be different than late thirties :) -- so I'm putting the finishing touches on this aspect of my life - building lasting routines all for the benefit of me, my family, and how my life may be of use to the Lord. This sounds so selfish, but I'm learning if we don't take care of ourselves, we dishonor the Lord....so I'm getting there.

As we seek Jesus this season, may it be foremost in our heart and mind every day of the year! Merry Christmas to all, especially our little Lauren in India (momma and daddy are coming soon)...and Happy Birthday, Jesus.
Love-Renae

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Settling in for a long winter's nap -- new update on adoption

We had a great talk with our agency rep (we LOVE them!!)- who shared with us that the region that Lauren comes from usually takes a little longer to process. So court will likely take up to 5 months, and then the VISA process 6-8 weeks.. this puts us somewhere around May/June timeframe...maybe April. I know God's timing is perfect, so I trust in him that when the time is right, we will travel. So I say, "I'm settling in for a long winter's nap, while visions of my sugar plum dance in my head" :)

One thing about the experience of adoption - a "general known" is so much better that a "no idea whatsoever", or even an "optimistic timeframe"... things happen...that's international adoption - but for me, it's always easier when I hear "at least count on this" - because then I settle my heart and live in the moment, knowing that if I focus too much on the process every day it would be so much harder. I don't forget about little Lauren - I just don't dwell on the timeframe.

So for now, I'm thankful for getting NOC - and hopeful her case is making its way through the court all in good time. I'm looking forward to next summer so very much! Meanwhile, bundle up, honey it's cold outside!
~Renae.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NOC !!!

Here is how this evening played out. We went to our small group - (Brad and I) and Joshua went to his small group at the church. We all had a great time of sharing life and shared prayer requests. I had two personal prayer requests -- daily exercise as a habit and word on NOC. Came home, Brad went to the computer and waiting for us was an email from our adoption agency saying.....drumroll.... YES, NOC has been issued and little Miss has her case filed in court! I looked at Brad as we read out loud the email and joy covered his face, as he laughed out loud, with a huge smile, saying, "yes!" For me, I'm sortof in shock -- but so very happy and relieved to be moving to the next step.

Someone told me that for men (the prospective adoptive daddy)...the nearer to the time of travel, the more excited they get ....while us girls have been excited all along and experience the roller coaster of emotions, while the men patiently wait. My husband has been such a calming steady force in this whole process.... he is so made for me... God knew what He was doing when He matched me with my Brad. But how fun was it tonight to see him get the news and react! I won't forget the look on his face; this made me so happy. I know he already loves her too - which I certainly haven't ever doubted ...but tonight, I got to see it in full force :)

So now what, we wait for court approval and VISA (I believe), then we get travel approval and we're there! It will still be 2012 - but that is totally ok.

Thank you Jesus for giving us this call...and seeing it through.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What is Love? Love is sacrifice - tribute to orphan caregivers.

In reading a friend's adoption post I was struck by the depth of love the caregivers must have for orphan children around the world. Just think of it, these women caring for these children day in and day out - doing all they can for them - loving them, feeding them, clothing them - providing all the basic needs - sprinkled with love and nuture on top. And then one day, a forever family comes to pick up a child and the caregiver lovingly turns the child over to the family. Now that is a depth of love that we can only imagine. These women knowing the child will have a better life in a forever family instead of being raised in an orphanage, which otherwise would surely impact the child. These ladies love - and then they send love off to live their lives, like a wounded bird that is healed and allowed to fly.

I'm reminded of Abraham in the Bible when God tells him to sacrifice his son Isaac - now certainly the story isn't the same, I know! We are not sacrificing children as the story suggests in the Bible -- but really the sacrifice was a test of Abraham's love and faithfulness. I can't help but think these caregivers love these children just as Abraham loved Isaac - but they still remain faithful in their call from God to care for these orphans, and then let them go. So they live this life, loving children, raising children, to one day see them off - never or rarely to be seen again. What sacrificial love they have - it brings tears to my eyes thinking of their hearts.

I pray I can handle our trip to India - I pray I show honor and respect to the people of India - hopefully without being a bundle of pouring tears. I am a BIG crier - I cry at church when a song hits me, I often cry reading adoption blogs, I cry when people are hurting, and I cry when people experience joy. On our trip to Kenya - I cried often - sometimes out of sadness of seeing children digging through garbage for food on our trip to the village - other times when meeting people in the village or talking to the children. My emotions seem to always be "out there" -- so I'm sure I will cry in India - I pray it doesn't offend anyone.

How do we ever express gratitude to these caregivers of our orphan children? This I pray that God will give me the words, so that when I am there I can show them how much we appreciate their sacrifice and their love for our children; for this, I am ever grateful.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Great Thanksgiving Day

First time ever making a turkey - and it really turned out pretty good. My mom found a recipe in a magazine that used brown sugar, apple juice, apples, onions, and carrots. It was one BIG bird, and it all got done and was very good. I watched my diet as close as possible - eating mostly turkey, but did sneak in a few bites of sweet potato - only because I've always said I didn't like it -- but these were no ordinary sweet potatoes. Also had a couple of bites of chocolate wonder - and that's it! We had our friends over from the Congo - and also a friend from our new church. It was a great time.









Our friends from the Congo have a little baby girl who is almost two -- oh my, is she adorable! She's gotten so big since we last saw her - and she was trying to do all the things her brother David, and Joshua were doing. They had a great time with trains, and played some outside. I couldn't help but think about next year when Lauren will be home - and she and Daniella will likely be about the same size - and will have so much fun together. We ended the day with Uno attack, (Joshua won 2 out of 3 games!), then he played for a good long time with his cars... I love hearing him play alone, as he talks to his objects, hums a tune, etc. He gets so into his play....it's as if he's the only one around... I love to watch that! More than anything, I loved watching him today with little Daniella -- words can't describe how sweet they are together -- she thinks he's pretty neat and he takes such care of her during play time, teaching her, giving her turns, and watching out for her safety - as they circle the rooms with trains. He's going to be a great big brother. I pray his patience endures when Lauren is here 24/7 -- you know, sometimes I wonder if he's so good with Daniella because he knows she's a guest. Only time will tell...but I think he will have good days and bad days with Lauren, like any sibling would. He will have to give up some attention, sacrifice for her, and give her space to learn things on her own. Now for the rest of the evening, I'm thinking of getting into PJ's and looking for some light reading before bed. Tomorrow - just might do a small, easy family hike to work off today's extra calories. We are so blessed and thankful for so many things -- we try to often give thanks to our family members and friends. Meanwhile, here are my "funny" top 10 things I'm thankful for on this very day:
10.) That I was able to send most of the left overs with other people today.
9.) That it hasn't snowed yet - you know this weather has become a crazy thing, you never know.
8.) That tomorrow really isn't Sunday already (so the weekend isn't over just yet!) -- it so feels like Saturday
7.) That I don't have company planned for tomorrow - toys are everywhere and that's totally ok with me!
6.) That Joshua hasn't thought about putting up the Christmas tree just yet this weekend - I do it, but it's not my favorite thing - I'd skip decorating all together if it weren't for him.
5.) That I don't have to weigh in until Tuesday - ugh, the little food I did eat seems to be sitting right on my stomach - fasting ahead for a few days actually sounds appealing.
4.) That I have a frozen carrot cake in the freezer for Sunday's church event, meaning -- I don't have to bake anything this weekend!
3.) That gas stations were open today - so I could get my diet coke!
2.) That the store was open today so Brad could run for disposable containers -- see item 10.) above.
1.) That there is NOTHING I need so badly that I have to do any shopping tomorrow - seems so crazy to me to sleep in a tent outside Best Buy to keep your place in line, really?

oh, one thing I am seriously thankful for this year...is an adoption blog-girlfriend being in India to pick up their little girl! Now THAT is something to be thankful for. Can't wait to meet our little one.

Have a blessed weekend!
Renae.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Still no news for us....but we know of someone leaving for India very soon!

No news yet on our NOC - but there is some great news for another family. A "blog-girlfriend" is leaving very soon and will spend Thanksgiving in India to pick up their daughter! This is so exciting, we can't wait to hear about it and see pictures.

We did get to meet our agency face to face at the adoption event recently. That was great fun meeting and talking about India. She just spent most of October in India. We got updated pictures of Lauren. She looks so good and healthy. She wasn't smiling in the pictures, and I'm wondering what she is thinking, is she scared to get her picture taken... what is going on in that little mind? She looked so sweet in both pictures - they had two very cute little dresses on her - and even with a slight frown on her face...she is absolutely beautiful :)

I'm trying to keep my emotion in check -- because if I allow it, they would be spinning out of control wondering when we will pass the next stage. After NOC, is court, then travel! So it feels close, but I'm preparing my heart for spring of 2012. Adoption wait is hard, that's for sure. We can handle that wait in several ways... we can ignore it and live our life as if it's not there (NOT possible for me), we can share in adoption community with friends (this helps a lot and I love it), we can prepare (but at some point, it becomes all consuming and unnecessary fear seems to creep in), or we can talk to God (settle in with Him) - allow him to lead, ask for his mercies in controlling our mind, anxiety, fears, and sense of time (I go for this option as often as I can - when I'm reminded, often when prompted from the Holy Spirit). Oh, and I forgot one more thing, we can share adoption with people we know in hopes that more children can one day find a home. This gives us great pleasure in knowing we are on a mission - one God honors - that hopefully will draw more people to adoption. We LOVE telling our adoption story, sharing what we've learned, and learning from others. It's a special kind of community, that until you are in it -- it's hard to understand. For all our adoption friends -- we are blessed to know you -- for those we discussed adoption with, remain in prayer for God's confirmation and guidance on next steps :) -- and call us anytime!
Renae.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday...11/6/2011

Little Miss Lauren-
Today is orphans Sunday...and my head and heart is focused on you. In addition to you...the other 140+ million of orphans around the globe. An event today at a local church could make such a difference in the lives of some of those children. The need is so great, but we know that our God cares for "the individual"...and that each one matters. So I'm praying not only for your quick trip home into our lives....but I'm also praying that a community of orphan children continue to grow and find forever families in our midst. We are so blessed to live in a diverse community that cares for children, orphans, and foster children. Our support group is also a huge blessing in our lives.... God is ever good and faithful.

We also are building relationships with those around us. Not merely surface relationships - but real indepth relationships of sharing life together. This brings us great joy - has been a long-standing prayer, and we are finding that God is blessing us and fulfilling this desire. More than anything he wants us in relationship -- with each other as the body of Christ, but also in relationship with Him!

As we venture out in our journey today, I pray we share it humbly, boldly, and graciously. I pray all glory goes to the our Lord and I pray hearts are moved to action -- and God's plan is set in force to care for more and more orphans. We love you, little Miss beyond words.
Mommy, Daddy, and Joshua.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It was a great fall evening.....

We are so blessed to have a great church and a great neighborhood. This year Halloween covered TWO evenings! First our church had an "open to the public" chilli cookoff and trunk or treat. It was awesome to see people come for a bite to eat and experience the love of our church. It was truly an outreach to the community - and they showed up, ready for fun, dressed up, and hungry. In typical God-style.... we had just enough food to feed all that arrived. Trunk or treat was fun too... first time experienced that..we enjoyed giving out candy. Joshua made a few rounds himself in his fireman's outfit from last year, then gave out candy too.



Then last night - our neighbors had chilli, hotdogs, sides... and after everyone ate, kids went trick or treating. We are so blessed by such kind neighbors, who really enjoy being together. We had a great night. Joshua was in heaven, he got to see his "new best friend" Trey -- his neighbor boys -- AND got lots of candy. He was so sweet, he even got to spend the last 1/2 handing out candy at our house. Best of all, the weather was absolutely wonderful!!





Had a blast....but couldn't help wonder how next year will be different with our little Lauren. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

I have some crazy dreams sometimes....

Each night when I go to bed - I pray on Lauren. Pray for her safety, health, happiness and for us to have her soon. Last night after I was long asleep, I began dreaming of the day we were to pick her up... it was a beautiful dream, gone a little nutty.... (as mine usually do)... we got to the orphanage...and someone said, "oh, she went home with someone else"...oh, it was terrible... then they said, "but we have this little girl for you".... and handed me this 5 year old girl that I could hardly hold in my arms ...not only was she heavy, but she didn't want me to hold her...she was terribly cute and a wonderful child of God, but she wasn't our Lauren. I pulled out our picture of Lauren and said, "there must be some mistake... she is ours, God planned HER for us"...and I began my momma bear fight (not really a fight...just proclaiming) for you. There is no turning back.... you are ours and we are yours. And we looked around the room, and there sat this little girl with shoulder length curly hair...and they said, "we're so sorry, she IS here.... we got confused". We were filled with joy of finding you. We proceeded to sit on the floor and play with the children, Brad and I, as they surrounded us laughing and playing...almost overtaking us. Isn't that the craziest dream? One thing I know...is these orphanages KNOW their children, so this would NEVER happen...but I think this is my own stress and fears of something happening and not getting to you. We are longing to get to you....and we will continue to wait patiently and do whatever it takes for you. And I won't quit praying for you...even right before bed..even if I end up with these crazy dreams.... because you are ours and we love you with our whole heart.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Southland Christian Chruch Adoption and Orphan Event

November 6, 2011 - 1:00 to 4:00 Southland Christian Church is having an adoption event. This would be a great time for anyone considering adoption to check it out. This church has a great adoption support group -we don't attend church here - but the people we meet in the group are so welcoming and loving.... and really educated on adoption matters, issues with children, treatments and therapies. Finding this group and connecting with them has been one of the greatest gifts in this whole process.

I'm glad we have these types of things to do to help us pass the time as we wait for word on Lauren. We also LOVE talking about India adoption and our agency.... we really see it as a ministry to spread the love for orphans and give families hope that if God calls them to adopt...He will provide all they need through the process. He is just that good!

Wondering if our adoption rep was able to see little Lauren, wondering if she got our family photo book, wondering if she sleeps with it (it's a baby photo album that is cloth)...or carries it around. Wonder what is going on in that little being and what she's thinking of her new family. Can't wait to see updated pictures - praying the visit was possible and we hear soon. Meanwhile, we wait patiently, because we know God's timing is perfect.

Loving you, little one.
Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Today is Joshua's 6th Birthday

My sweet Joshua - how did I ever deserve you? You are the sweetest, kindest, young boy - with a great heart. Your curiousity for learning, your natural mechanical abilities are both qualities that God has given you, and I wonder how in life you will use them. I know one thing, You are going to make a great big brother! We love you with our whole heart!

Seems like only yesterday you had that baby natural mohawk and that great toothless smile.




Loving you today and always. ~Moma and Daddy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I really need some news

This certainly sounds like a whine, but I really need some news on Lauren. This part of our wait has been the most challenging...and I just want to hear something. We race home to check email every day.... we go to the mailbox in full anticipation of news....anything... Our agency is in country, and I know very busy with meetings and seeing children for many, many families, etc... but I'm feeling so selfish at the moment and just want to hear about our baby girl.

I think it's partly that I'm tired, we've been so busy at work...and stress is kicking in ... so all emotions on deck, and I really could use some good news. News for our baby girl, or someone else we know too.... anything just something positive. Praying for you little one (along with some other kiddos on their way home too, just stuck a bit in the procees)... every day... and daddy is too!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Embracing imperfection, being real, being who we were meant to be

Brad and I watched the movie Legendary tonight, while Joshua got to spend the evening with his Nana. It was a really good movie about wrestling of all things. But more importantly it was a movie about forgiveness, family, accepting defeat, and being yourself. It got me thinking, in our society so many people strive for perfection .... and funny thing is sometimes people have said to me, "you're a perfectionist"..... that makes me laugh. If you could only see my house and piles of laundry! My office at work is a mess ... etc. I'm hardly a perfectionist. One thing I have learned over time though is that a career is not more important than family. A sport is not more important than family (or piano lessons, swimming lessons)...etc. Our kids like activities, but it's really the parent's responsibility to determine when it's too much....and I'd say most kids are overbooked, and under-nurtured.

I'm not sure how to teach imperfection or failure... you see, sometimes there is a fire in our belly that believes if you try hard enough you will succeed, it you work hard enough things will always be ok. I confess, I have that fire at times. I have to remember that God is the driver and I'm the passenger...things usually work better in my life when that's the case. But what about teaching our kids????

This week at soccer practice, Joshua had a great time with his coach and friends...but after practice, a friend from his school was over kicking in balls into the net.... practice was well over. I want to foster the relationship with this kid and Joshua, so I go over and "pretend" to be Beckham (sp?) and take a shot for myself. That's all it took and before you know it I'm playing soccer with two 5 year olds. They loved it when I was the goalie because I cheered them on with "ok, kiddos....let's see whatcha got"..... Joshua kicked many times...rarely made a goal (because I could stop his)... but his friend (who is the same age)...had that real natural athletic look and mannerisms...and he could KICK.... zoomed right past me several times. They giggled and had a great time "buzzing" mommy. Until finally I had to count them down to a few more tries, because we needed to get home. Phillip, Joshua's friend and his dad ...also needed to leave...so they went off walking together....and Joshua came up to me and started crying. I was shocked, "what is it J-man" and he replied, "I didn't get any goals"... wow, in my playing with both boys it didn't even occur to me that none of his kicks made it to the goal...and most of his friend's kicks did. Wow, what do you say to a 5 year old that is crying. So I played some more and allowed his ball to make it past me....I know, I know.. I shouldn't have "let" him get goals, but it broke my heart. He is terribly competitive, he always has been... I need help in teaching him to fail. He's terribly smart...but just not all that athletic (which is fine by me).... but his heart wants to be like his friends. If anyone has any tips...would love to hear them. He's learning a lot about God and Jesus ... but it's hard when these life situations happen. In the games previously, he did get goals (but that was before we moved up to this age bracket and now we have a goalie)... so we've been praising him for his defense, which he is really good at...and he can run like crazy! How to you teach a child less of self and more for others, sacrifice your goal to be that good defender or passer of the ball .... my heart's cry for him is that he doesn't get into always wanting something different than how God designed him. He loves soccer, and this league is a church league that is not competitive at all, which is good...but what happens as he gets older and realizes, he just might not be talented enough for it? Ideas? Ideas..??

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bittersweet adoption news - break my heart for what breaks yours

We learned this week that India is not accepting new dossiers until the end of the year - they were planning on beginning again in October, but that has been moved back 3 months. This is so bittersweet for me because we've been told we are one of 550 files currently in process that will be priority, but that means others in the adoption world that are anxiously awaiting, some likely are those which I blog back and forth with.... will be put "on hold". I feel so conflicted by this... it's hard to celebrate knowing our file will likely be processed soon, when so many others are waiting :(

At church this week our pastor used a visual of a child in Sudan dying of hunger with a vulture near by....it's a famous photo by a man named Carter, it won him acclaim and prize (you can google it). This photo has been with me every since, as I cry out to God why doesn't He just bring RAIN? The people of Africa need water for food. Our world is in such need....as are our orphans. What repentance must occur to bring relief to Africa, or is there some other work that must be done.... why do you hold out rain, Oh, Sovereign Lord?

I am thankful, because every update we get from our agency indicates that the children of India are very well cared for.... but my mind is drawn to the street kids and those without an orphanage. I have friends that spend many weeks a year serving in a village in Kenya, Africa and I've been to Africa twice and seen street kids without shoes and very little to eat digging through garbage for just a small morsel... and I ask our God, "why won't you just bring rain?".... what is holding back this blessing? As we wait for answers of many of life's questions... God, what in me do you want to change? Refine me Lord, mold me... make me ALL yours. Meanwhile, save the innocent children.... break our hearts for what breaks yours.... call us to action to support the cause of famine, show us things in our local community that breaks your heart too. Bring special needs children home to have better access to medical care they so desperately need. Bring aging orphans home to begin the healing of not having a family of their own when they were younger. Heal the sick, the wounded, the hurting Lord... all for your glory, because we know with faith that you have a plan and we trust in you, we humbly ask that you hear our prayer for the needy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Drinking from a Fire Hydrant"

Brad and I had the privilege of attending an adoption seminar put on my Empowered to Connect (ETC) in Nashville this last weekend. It was wonderful, scary, inspiring, and truly enriching. ETC was started by Dr. Karyn Purvis and she is absolutely wonderful at working with at-risk children...she calls them "children from the hard places"....wow and does she know how to love. Her number one goal is to make sure children know that they are each precious. Her patience and talent is truly inspiring. Her knowledge is beyond understanding... her calling from God is clear. We learned about nutrition, play therapy, brain development....and so much more. We heard inspiring stories of families getting through deep challenges, and we heard heart wrenching stories of children that had an adoption disruption - but now are placed in the right environment and there is hope. Behind all the challenges....and there will be challenges... there is always hope. Most of all, we learned the importance of reaching out to others early in the process to seek help when struggles come up. We are SOOOO thankful for the insightfulness and dedication of our adoption agency, that actually required a VERY extensive service plan that required us to already seek these type of resources (therapists, doctors, etc)…so we have all that lined up and we are already building relationships with those folks…because it is so important to know them well, and for them to fully know our kids when they come for an appointment. (When I say, know our kids…what I mean is know the plight of a child from an orphanage, know the possibilities of deficiencies, understand sensory issues, etc.) . One of our therapists was at the conference…and a big support group that we are involved with had lunch with her.

I must confess… on the drive home from the conference…I had a raging headache…but I think it was the release of stress and tension… I mean, these two days were INTENSE! But we were both so very thankful. Plus we also found two new friends that live near us… had an opportunity to have dinner with them…and they shared their story. Now really, how often are people in this day and age emotionally able to have dinner with two strangers and bare their soul on their adoption story … which was a heart-breaker. But God is good…and he has performed miracles in their lives…just as he has ours… so their story ended good. Get this…in a huge auditorium… I can’t even imagine the number of people that attended…but clearly in the 1000’s …maybe about 1/4 of a typical Wildcat game …. And guess who sits right next to Brad…but this couple..and they remembered us from a very brief parenting meeting we attended…and said, “aren’t you guys from Lexington”…we were like… “yes!”… from there on…fast friends. This was truly a divine appointment to find this couple. I pray we give to these relationships as they have so richly given to us… and we have a life shared in adoption.

Above all, I’m continuing to learn to set aside expectations, trust in God more and more, and grow in determination that we can handle (with God) anything that Lauren throws our way. Per the Queen of Bubblegum (Purvis), kids will test us, just to be sure that we can handle them. The key is handling them always with the mind-set that they are precious children… not bad behavior, just natural God-given instincts of survival….and at the end of the day, even the most challenged child wants to be loved, and wants relationship… after all – relationship is part of God’s divine creation. BTW: drinking from the fire hydrant was Purvis' phrase at the end of the two days, she asked, "so now that you feel like you've been drinking from a fire hydrant...what questions do we have!!"... :) Really, now where do we begin... LOL...
We are ready for you Miss Lauren….no matter what.
http://empoweredtoconnect.org/ --- check our their free videos online on insights for parents.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Oh where, oh where has our little NOC gone?

Ok, so it's probably not a good idea to give me timeframes..... our Article 5 letter was received July 15th -- we've been told NOC takes 60 days from Article 5... easy math says... what's up? I know it's only the 19th! But this is kindof like Christmas for a kid... it's past Dec 25th, and for some reason, the presents haven't appeared yet under the tree. So instead of sulking, complaining... let's make it fun!

Oh where oh where has our little NOC gone,
Oh where oh where can it be?
Our paperwork is there all nice in a bow
So why no NOC issued for me?

LOL -- this waiting does make us a little kooky at times! Sorry, if this song is now stuck in your head for the day.... :) Love you, little Lauren... praying you home every day.
Mommy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Praying for our children - blog girlfriends

Being connected through adoption blogs is one of the best things in our adoption life. It started with a committment to pray for one little special girl for a "blog-girlfriend". That started a burning desire in me to begin praying for these children daily....by name. God has been so faithful to provide His words of comfort and assurance during my prayer time. Of course on these blogs we don't share real names of our children until they are ours and at home...as to not expose them in any way... (as a result you can see in an earlier post -- our daughter's birth name is not "Lauren" -- it is something else). Well tonight, I'm here to share the initial of her birthname... it's "A".... you'll see why in a minute that I share this :) Well, praying for our children is really growing in my heart -- and it's hard to remember all their "names / initials"... so I've come up with the following..this helps me remember to pray for 4 little ones every day during my quiet daily commute to work. It truly has been a blessing. I really can't wait to hear news about any of these children!

"C" -- Christ
"A" -- Already
"V" -- Victorious
"R" -- Rejoice

These initials represent 4 precious children that families are waiting for! I know there are many more families waiting for news of their child, and we continue to pray for India in general as well. It is an honor to share such a personal life story with blog-girlfriends.... thanks to all of you for the encouragement... where two or more are gathered Christ is surely there. XOXOX - Renae.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rise and Shine Birthday Girl

In a few hours in India - it will be "Lauren's" 2 year old birthday. We only wish we could be there with her to celebrate. We plan on having a small little party with our family .... making cookies and praying for her. We pray she's healthy, happy, and heart-filled with anticipation of her new family. We mailed our photo books to our adoption agency and they loved them. I wish I could be there when our agency representative travels next month to visit her and present the photo books to her. Her child study report said she likes jovial play... so we can't wait to experience precisely what that means for her. I imagine her to be curious, insightful, and intrigued by her surroundings. In her photos you can also see the inside of her little soul. I know one thing, she is strong and has an internal spirit for survival...as I like to call it at work, "a fire in the belly"... meaning the strength to endure even the toughest challenge. I really think that's our little girl -- we'll see if I have her pegged correctly when we meet, but my mother's instinct says... she's one strong little girl. Happy Birthday - sweet baby girl... mommy is praying for you today :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Great Weekend at Papa's House

We had a great time visiting Brad's parents this weekend. Joshua was in heaven spending time with his Papa. There was an airplane show at the airport that Brad's dad keeps his plane...so we got to see planes, antique cars, tractors, and helicopters....and of course Joshua got to spend lots of time downstairs in the basement with Papa running trains. So we call this the Planes, Trains, and Automobile weekend.... auto comes in because it was the first time we drove to Rockford, instead of flying. The airline tickets have gotten pricey -- and the bus ride from Chicago to Rockford has also gotten more complicated....so we drove... and split the trip in two days.. really worked out well. Joshua also tried rock climbing for the first time (it was his idea..and given the harness, etc. it was safe, so thought we'd let him try).... I was so proud of him, he did great... I think we have a climber in the making for sure. We also got to pick raspberries and visit Aunt Betsy's house to see dogs and horses.. no pics, because camera battery was dead at this point...but was really a great family weekend. Joshua is already planning next summer's visit....although we're hoping to have an addition to the family by then :)
We are so thankful for our family. And one icing on the cake was.... when we got home, my mom had surprised us with a clean house! How cool is that! Now back to reality and our weekly routines :)











Saturday, August 27, 2011

Longing for Lauren

I am longing, longing, longing for little "Lauren". The waiting is hard, and we're so ready to have her home. How big will she be, what will she be like, will she like our food, how will that LONG plane ride be, should I bring winter or summer clothes, will she cry and cry for her care givers? There are so many things unknown..... and the wait is so very hard.

We saw a Chinese little girl today....tiny, weighs 22 lbs, and wears 18 month clothes (with the back of the pants pinned together):) .... don't recall her exact age, but she's tiny for her age. She was running around this fabric store as cute as can be. It makes me think that all the clothes I have for Lauren are going to be huge for her -- I have very few 12 months clothes, mostly start at 18 months...but that's all in summer clothes.... her winter stuff is mostly 24 months and 2T (if we get her in January.... someone is going to have to do some fast shopping while we're gone, (if she smaller than 24 months in size). I'm hoping to have internet access at least once while we're on our trip - so maybe can communicate with Joshua and my mom ---I'm sure she and Joshua would love to shop for little Lauren while we're away. I'm hesitant to buy 12 month stuff now... because she might be bigger than that...so again, we wait to see :) I can't even imagine what it will be like to be in India -- I know I have certain expectations, but really most of them I've set aside - but I'm sure things will be different than what my imagination can come up with. I know it will be a very special God-time though .... just like our time in Kenya .... we worried (well I should say "I" worried and worried).. but once on the ground in Kenya and at our guest house, it felt so right.... and our trip to the village...felt so right...our time with the children was perfect...and I knew that God has called us (Brad and I) to a very special mission for a very special moment in time.... that's the kind of special God-time that I know He has in store for us in India. Can't wait to see you .... sweet girl. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rise and Shine Little Lauren

I love having India time on our blog -- I go there just to check on the time and wonder what you're doing... little Lauren. Now it's early morning on Sunday - I wonder if the streets are busy even on Sunday there in India -- or if you find Sundays are a day of peace and quiet around the orphange.

Brad and I had a great talk about you, life, our Christian walk, and the community we are in sharing all of this together. It is wonderful having a community of people to share life with... although when you come home, Miss Lauren -- your community will be initially VERY small... everyone tells us.. no parties, no fanfare...for at least 30 days...and some say 6 months! I can't wait to have you home. Even on a day like today, where our family spent a big part of the day home, cleaning, everyone pitching in...then a fun few hours at the local "Art Fair" in the park. It was a great day... longing for you to share it with. Gotta go -- need to get to bed to be able to get up for church :)

For you, Little Lauren... I hope your Sunday is filled with laughter, fun, and even a few surprises from those around you that love and care so much for you.

Night-Night.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Discovery - Groovy Girls Dolls

At our church consignment sale I posted about previously, I picked up this little brown skinned soft doll -- she was cute, had what looked like a white lab coat on...and in the bag was also a stuffed parrot in a cage. Ok, I know this sounds weird, but honestly, I just thought the doll was cute, toddler safe, and I loved her brown skin, long hair (which is nearly impossible to find in dolls for children of color)...so I could see this being something a little girl from India would like, if not as a toddler, certainly as a little girl. Well, little did I know... I accidently discovered some of the cutest ethnic dolls made by Groovy Girls owned by Manhattan Toys...which is one of our favorite brands. These dolls celebrate diversity and everyone's unique self / style / personality. I just love the idea of this...not so sure about the "groovy" part - as I think our society is obsessed with exterior looks...but certainly the celebration and validation of diversity and who one is on the inside is worth the shout out....so yes, I'm likin' the Groovy Girl dolls for sure. Check out their website -- and I promise if you listen to the song a few times it will become a favorite too :) http://groovygirls.com/


Whether our little "Lauren" wants to stand out as her own unique individual, wear bright colors, and show her own style ...or just wants to blend in and is quiet and shy.... I'm sure she'll be our little groovy girl....and we will be over the top in love with her for who she is inside and out! (And if she doesn't like dolls....there's always an upcoming Lil Lambs sale). :)

For all the groovy girl PAPs out there -- Happy Friday.
Renae

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Joshua's First Day of Kindergarten

J-man had a great first day of all day school. Last year he went to the same school for transitional kindergarten - for 1/2 day -- so this year - first day was a breeze. He loved it... although he did say when I picked him up and asked how was your day...his reply, "rules, rules, rules"... favorite part of the day..."recess outside".... I guess he's normal :) We have such a great, loving, Christian school.... it is fabulous and doesn't lack one bit in educational content. We are blessed that he loves to learn. See pics of our big boy.
He loves his Superman lunch box.




Yep backpack is as big as he is.... I love that he and little "Lauren" will be at the same school together one day... I'm sure he will show her the ropes....look out for her... and protect her :)


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Day at Holiday World

Well, yesterday was a huge hit for Brad, Nana (my mom), and Joshua... they got home late last night -- tired and all smiles after a great day on water rides, slides, and such. Joshua got my mom on about every water slide, tube, raft, and log ride available. My mom is the ever trooper - especially when it comes to her grandson. They met a family at the park with a daughter adopted from India -- it was one of the blessings of their day. This family was so sweet - and mom said this 4 yr. old little girl was precious and so very tiny....I consider these moments a love note from God saying...."keep hanging on...she's on her way home, all in good time" :) Brad asked for their best advice -- they said, "six month home alone with this little one -- not a lot of visitors, just quiet, intentional family time...and she really bonded well with them" -- I have to confess... I'm the type of gal that loves to shout from the mountains my joy -- about my God-- and about this little girl we will bring home...so staying home for six months alone, really???...without family and friend celebrations, really??...no parties??, not sharing her with church... with neighbors...with strangers at the grocery... I'm that all outgoing passionate mom (I don't do quiet very well)... so, looks like God might have a lesson for me to learn in this one... sometimes I just hate His lessons :) (but I know they are good..because it's less of me and more of Him). Stay tuned on how all that turns out... I'm sure it will be ever present in my thoughts when the time comes :)

Today, Josh and I are off to meet his new teacher, see his room, and take in school supplies. It's crazy when the list of supplies is so large now that you have to take the bags the day before school starts, because clearly they would never fit in the kid's backpack. Oh well, it's a sign of the times, I say.... everything is financially tight, especially schools. So glad my treasures are in heaven....although I do need to remind myself of that from time to time.

We have a count-down going in our imaginary clock for our NOC approval - hoping by mid-September - so we're looking at just about one month. Time is going by so quickly... it will be winter before we know it.... would love nothing better than spending a few weeks this winter in a warm environment - say INDIA???

All for now... the sun is shining and this is my last day with J-man before school starts tomorrow....making it a great day! ~Renae

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thankful for a full life

The last few days of summer before school starts -- our little Joshua goes to Kindergarten. It's really not that big of a deal, since he went to Transitional Kindergarten last year - and it's the same school. Although this year he's going all day. Today is open house - but I'll be going alone. Joshua, Nana (my mom), and Brad are off today on one last summer outing to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana - amusement park and splash park - great fun... we were there over 4th of July...see pics below. Praying for a fun day for them - and safe arrival home :)







Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little heart longing for his sister

Joshua amazes me sometimes...... how he shows signs of really longing for his little sister to be home .... of course we've been getting Lauren's room ready -- and along the way, buying toddler toys (or getting out some of his old ones that had been stored away)... so of course he wants to play in her room -- but next, he alphabetizes her books on her shelf... and runs across a lullaby CD... brings in the small CD player into her room and proceeds to "listen to some nice baby music".... as he's playing and organizing. I too am working in her room, along with daddy helping sort books... while Joshua is humming along to the lullaby music. Really a great moment, just our family working in our little girl's future room. On other days he practices made up stories with the Little People airplane, school bus, and dollhouse.. of stories he plans to tell "Lauren". It's such an interesting thing... he doesn't ask all the time, "when will Lauren be home", but I know he's always thinking about her - just like we are... it's different than going on vacation and saying, "are we there yet"... or "when is christmas"...or "how many days until my birthday"... this is a different kind of quiet anticipation that we all feel... and this little "almost" 6 year old is right there with us.. quietly waiting. At the moment... praying for NOC in next 30 days :) ~Renae

CARA reviews on hold for India adoptions

Another blog I follow indicated CARA is on hold for reviewing dossiers until their new procedures are put in place and worked out. When I asked our agency, they said for those currently in the process, this won't impact us. I pray that's the case. With international adoption you never know. We all so badly want our little ones home. We are at the NOC stage - so I'm hoping that is close or past the stage of where the files are being put on hold. One positive note to consider - India seems very consistent with their adoption processing - both domestic and international. Kids do come into families each year - so it really seems that they will move files as soon as they possibly can. Pray for those families with children referred and in the process, that it continues on while these changes in procedures are happening for new files. I have such a peace about this, however, because I know that God's timing is perfect - He is sovern over all the earth - and only He knows the perfect time, place, and events that will accomplish His plan. For this I am thankful that He's in the driver's seat. Have a blessed day! ~Renae

Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting a blog facelift

Hi everyone - so what do you think so far about the new look of our blog. A friend is working on it for us --- and so far we love it. I love to see what time it is in India and the temperature! It helps me focus on little Lauren as we're always wondering what she's up to. No word yet on NOC approval -- but we're still ever hopeful. Had a great time this weekend shopping at the largest church children's consignment sale in Lexington - called Lil Lambs -- unbelievable really! Check out photos on their link - it was so much fun buying some winter stuff for Lauren and great prices :)

http://www.lillambscloset.com/photos.shtml

Like everyone else, we're getting ready for back to school - Joshua's school wears uniforms - so it really makes "back to school" much easier! We are very excited to see his new classroom - and he's excited to meet new friends. He'll be going to Kindergarten - all day -- and has a new Superman Lunch box -- that even has a cape! Never thought a kid would be so excited about packing a lunch. Fall soccer starts soon - we love this league we're in -- it's easy going - everyone plays, and everyone loves and encourages each other... and it's a pretty short season...just enough to be ready to be done when it's over.

Of course, we're waiting patiently for word on Lauren....and continue to prepare. At the consignment sale I found a small dollhouse, little people, etc... and Joshua spent over an hour in her room setting it up for her... he's going to make a great big brother -- and we can tell he's really wanting her home as much as we are.

Thank you so much for keeping her in your prayers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the cusp - it's been almost 15 days :)

Well, almost 15 days since our Article 5 letter - (not that anyone is counting)....so we're on the cusp of whether or not we get CARA approval to proceed....or if we need to provide more or updated information. The earliest timeframe is 15 days ....but this stage could take a few months. I pray they have everything they need....and we get this approval very soon. We are soooo ready for our little girl to come home. A few weeks ago, we took our friends to the zoo and they have a little girl about 1 1/2 years old. She rode in the stoller most of the time and Joshua "helped" push her around - he was so sweet - I could totally imagine him pushing little Lauren in a stroller. He's going to be a great big brother. Before we left for the zoo - he hopped out of the car, ran inside and grabbed a few toys and say, "Daniella will need toys to play with in the car ride to the zoo"... sometimes he has such a sweet thoughtful heart. Don't get me wrong...he has his challenging days... but when it comes to loving others -- he's usually surprisingly sweet. It goes to show, we were made to be relational beings -- true joy is through connecting with one another (and our Lord). Yesterday at the YMCA during swimming lessons, an Indian family sat right next to us on the bench...and of course they have two beautiful little girls with matching swim suits ... one about the age of Lauren, then other maybe closer to Joshua's age. We started talking to the mom.... who was so kind. Her younger child looked so similar to Lauren's picture with her little pixie hair cut... it brought me great joy just to see them and talk to them. She said sometimes in India parents will shave their babies head to make the hair grow back in thick... I found that interesting... these little girls had thick and beautifully black hair. She also said in the winter months Dec-March-- it is a little cooler in India (except for Mumbai...she said is an island, so it very hot and tropical). When swim lessons were over, I showed Joshua the little girl and he seemed very excited, .. his comment, "you know, she doesn't have very much height". LOL (she was tiny). You know I will post for sure if we hear anything from CARA - meanwhile... we wait "patiently" - the motto of adoption. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What great way to start the day -- Article 5 letter!!

I couldn't sleep last night - so I got up and read the news. I'm saddened to hear Mumbai experienced what is being called a terrorist attack. The whole city is on high alert - and I'm sure the people are filled with fear and uncertainty. Of course I prayed for Mumbai and the children at BalAsha and caregivers - to lean heavily on each other for comfort and strength and to rely on God for hope.

Then this morning I awoke to our Article 5 letter from New Delhi in our email inbox! And I'm reminded that when God is at work .... things happen. We are thrilled to have this step completed, like all other steps before this because it brings us one step closer to Lauren.

At this point documents go to Cara (the Central agency for adoptions) and we await other documents and court - I think a 5-6 month process in total. Then I think after that, we travel in about 3 weeks later... these are rough estimates, but this is generally the timeline. I believe if all is in order - Cara can issue their document within 15 days - but it is said that rarely happens and they often ask questions or require further information.... that's ok, we trust they do their job well for all orphans, so whatever it takes we'll provide.

Pray for the people of India. Pray that Lauren remains safe and healthy... and can come home soon.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's "Lauren" up to????

Woke up this morning to either a dream / or thought... that Lauren was getting a bath... Indian style. I saw a video clip once of a child in India at an orphanage getting his bath - basically they wash from head to toe while the child stood there - then they poured water over his head and rinsed him off. He didn't seem to mind - and the caregiver was talking and having fun while pouring over the water. It was cute. But this serves as a reminder that little Lauren's world is going to be so different... even something as small as a bath. I hope she likes the water.. and of course, the added bath toys will likely make a difference.

We play this game as a family ... Brad, Joshua, and I take turns saying what we think Lauren is up to.... it's starts with... well, what time is it in India right now? Then we each take a turn saying what we thing...usually it's "waking up eating cereal", "playing with her friends", "being held by her caregiver"... things like that. It's a great way to talk to Joshua about Lauren and also connect with this little one so far around the world. (Joshua likes to show people on the globe where she lives...it's so cute - they he goes into the flight path that his daddy showed him that we will take when we pick her up)... too funny.

I still race to the mailbox - and now also to the email - looking for our next step (Article 5 letter)!! Expecting this sometime before July is up!! ~Renae

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When God is at work.......

I find it interesting how this year of adoption processing has quickly went by.... but when God is at work....things happen.

I find it amazing that after a fund raiser designed to help us finish with our adoption fees and travel costs, we raised JUST the amount of funds we need to complete the adoption from this point forward....but when God is at work....things happen.

I stand in awe that in searching for the perfect part-time daycare for little "Lauren" when I eventually have to return to work a few days a week, that we found a location we loved and THEN found out her teacher is Indian...but when God is at work....things happen.

I'm intrigued when our son... you know the only child who has been in the center of our world since he was born...has a growing and loving heart for a sister he doesn't know....but when God is at work....things happen.

I am ever convinced she's ours when her little face pops into my mind each night before bed as a reminder to pray for her health and safety....but when God is at work....things happen.

I am stunned that we've been given a referral of a child so young, and so healthy even though we opened our heart to whatever God would give us...even up to an older age...but when God is at work...things happen.

I'm blessed that our friends and family understand our desires to raise a child so different from us...yet fully support and vow to love her unconditionally....but when God is at work...things happen.

I am privileged to be able to adopt because it not only expands our family, but it also gives us opportunity to testify for the Lord...but when God is at work....things happen.

I am blessed to continue to meet families and build relationships with others who care as much about adoption and we do....but when God is at work...things happen.

I am amazed to learn that our small private school has an Indian Art teacher in middle school...just the perfect timeframe she may need someone Indian to provide support for her questions of identity...but when God is at work...things happen.

I am impressed with the level of experts on adoption, bonding, attachment, medical issues, etc. for children of international adoption right in our own town and region...but when God is at work...things happen.

I stand in wonder how a woman can yearn for a child that is not of her blood, how a woman can nest in preparation of this child, and how love woven in her heart is so strong that at times the process seems unreal and the joy may just cause her to burst...but when God is at work...things happen.

With all these blessings.... I wonder why at times I just don't "take my hands off the wheel"..... His plans are better, His provision is greater, and His timing is perfect. We are coming sweet baby girl...when God says it's time.... we are coming. ~Mommy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Received I800 approval today!

We are so excited... today in the mail we received our I800 approval from Homeland Security to bring "Lauren" home. We are thrilled to have moved one more step towards our little girl. We pray for her often and wonder what she's doing, if she's happy and healthy. We are ready for her to be home, we have clothes and shoes of multiple sizes...toys.... and her room is all set. We don't allow ourselves to really think she'll be home yet this year.... since we've been told it will likely be Jan, Feb, or March of next year... but wow what a great Christmas gift that would be. Our agency is making a trip, I believe in Sept...so we might get updated pictures... can't wait for that!

Well, gotta go...need to pack for our little weekend trip to a wedding and Holiday World.... Joshua can't wait...the water slides are great, we hear. If I don't go soon.... Joshua will have every game and puzzle he owns stacked up ready to be loaded in the van... so I need to supervise his choices for things to take along :) He's so cute... this kid LOVES vacation and staying in hotels with mommy and daddy... swimming in hotel pools... and really just experiencing travel and places he hasn't been before. Here's hoping Lauren is as good a traveler as he is.... really gotta go... Joshua just asked, "mommy are these good choices as he's stacked up several puzzles"... good thing we have a van.

Renae.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Last of the Paperwork

On Wed. June 1st we sent off our last paperwork - I800, I864, and DS230 - all forms accepting our referral and asking for approval to bring her to the U.S. - also VISA application. It felt great to get all the paperwork done! Now the waiting continues...they say still another 8 months - 10 months to travel, but we're praying for sooner. Either way, it's going to be a great 2012! We are so ready -- her room is ready, we have some clothes for her, toys, and books.

We have also been blessed by our fund raising project. We are blown away by the generosity of people... we are well on our way to funding all remaining expenses. We just can't believe it sometimes.

For now, this summer...Renae plans to take off as much vacation time as possible spending it with Joshua at the pool, park, and play-time. This will be his last summer before going into all-day school -- so we want him to get lots of rest and fun before the fall. He's a great kid, no doubt.. we are blessed. We aren't taking a "real vacation" this year - saving for adoption, etc...but we are doing a few small weekend trips. One is 4th of July! A college friend is getting married -- so we can't wait to attend the wedding -- should be a great time...catching up with all my BFFs. What's great about those kind of friends... is that when you do see them, it's like you were together just the day before.... time and distance doesn't change a thing. So looking forward to that.

Well..off to do some cleaning ...and then to enjoy this beautiful Kentucky weather. all for now... keep praying for our little Lauren.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fundraising, Overall Update...and a wild dream :)

We have been so blessed by the donations we've received from our Lifesong letter. So far we are at $1280 - which is almost a plane ticket! We are well on our way to our $8000 goal. But time is running out - since our deadline is mid-June :) We so appreciate the prayer too.... they are sustaining, for sure.

On the paperwork front, we received our ORIGINAL child study and paperwork for the referral. We hope to wrap that up this week and then also get I800, I864, I864A, and DS230 -- I THINK when those thing are done... the paperwork ends and the waiting begins ... this is the waiting in which you can't do a thing about it but merely....wait. Of course that has been the case throughout the process, but we always knew there were many steps ahead that we would have to participate in.... once this stuff is done, I think our only final step is travel to pick up our little girl! I pray for her every night -- think of her often -- her picture is my screen saver at work - so I see her cute little face every day...often :) We can't wait to meet her! Even dreaming strange dreams too.......

Last night in my dreams I was checking out daycares...and nothing seemed right ... Brad and I went to one and all the babies were in little barn food troughs! They were painted light blue and there were rows of tiny babies all line up -- and then a cat sat at the end in one keeping watch and there were no care givers.... it was the weirdest dream... AND then the most interesting part of the dream... I looked down and a Christmas Nativity Set was displayed at the end of the row of babies. Wow, what a dream. I felt great relief for all those babies, in my dream, because I knew Jesus was watching over them.... ok, I know, I have some weird dreams...but what do you suppose this one means? On a more funny note... I remember thinking, "well, if it was good enough for Jesus...it's good enough for our babies" -- Crazy dream huh? I chose to believe that little Miss Lauren is being very well taken care of in India :)

Gotta go - J-man is hungry for breakfast.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Longing for Lauren

In all the hustle and bustle of life, we still continue to pray and long for our daughter. We are so very thankful we have Joshua and have a busy life - it allows time to go by quickly... we can't believe we've been in this process for almost a year this June -- in the adoption world that is very short - but it doesn't make the waiting any easier. Each day our little girl is there, we're wondering what she's doing...is she ok, (not sick)...is she happy, playing with others, is she content?

I ran across a blog of someone who has already adopted from the identical orphanage that Lauren is coming from. It seems like an amazing place, where they are well taken care of and loved well. The children transition very well and are attached....thereby making that new transition of attachment possible for the adoptive family. We are SOOO thankful for this place and our agency that has such a good reputation in India. They both love these children very much!

We are also thankful for all the training we've been getting through our agency, books, seminars, and our new support group. All of this is better equipping us for the day we bring Lauren home. In a book recently, it described the experience that all moms go through is the moment when the child asks if they came out of her adoptive parent's tummy. I find this particularly intriguing, because Joshua asked me about 3 weeks ago if Lauren would be coming out of my tummy. I was shocked, but I explained that Lauren has a different tummy mommy in India. So of course when I read this scenario in the book, it made total sense that a child of toddler (or even the age of J-man at 5) would ask such an innocent, but curious question. See we talk about adoption alot in daily life, but children don't fully comprehend it until it's really explained that children are in their birth mommy's tummy, but parented by a different mommy. What I got out of all this was just this..... these books and all we're going through for our service plan, seminars, etc... are really equipping us well... I find great confidence in this. I am certain there will be surprises and challenges.. but this equipping is really lining up resources for us to turn to for guidance. I know we will also rely on Jesus and our God given instincts, but sometimes we might just need some well researched practical direction -- and we choose to believe that God is behind putting these people in our path. He is providing in places we didn't know we'd even need....and we're not sure we will need all of them, but hey...if certain issues comes up.. we are prepared. {But I'm banking on the fact that God's plan is alive and well...and if we're meeting them now... we'll be needing them in the future}...as someone said at the seminar..."That's just how God rolls".

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Summit

Brad and I just spent two days in Louisville at the Summit Conference sponsored by the Christian Alliance for Orphans. It was held at Southeast church, and wow...was it amazing. First of all the church is absolutely huge! The people, greeters, hosts were awesome, friendly helpful...top-notch. The speakers at the conference were equally amazing. We learned so many techniques and even heard from a panel of adult adoptees ... that was really good to get their perspective on being adopted. Of course God was at work and we ran into certain people we were hoping to find in the sea of thousands of people -- and we even ran into a few surprises that we were not expecting, but God knows our every need. I'm finding this is the theme of our days lately..... he is providing our needs even before we know that we need them! He is one amazing God! All for now -- missed our J-man and have soccer game this morning and who knows what this afternoon has in store. Stay tuned..... continue to pray for our little Lauren so far away.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Great Mother's Day

Had a great mother's day yesterday... enjoyed time with my church, my family, and then a trip to the park. At the park, there were several Indian families from the neighborhood there enjoying the beautiful sunshine and playing with their children. I loved watching the little ones go down a slide or take a swing in the baby swings there at the park. I could see little Lauren in their faces....and I really longed for her. But I also know this was a love note from God, saying, "I know you are thinking of her, and one day she will be playing here right along with many other people that look like her"...

Joshua had a great time riding his bike, playing chase with daddy, and also playing hide-n-seek. This was all at the park...after he already spent a few hours outside with his neighbor friends. They play together so well, and love each other. I am ever thankful for such great neighbors with such great kids. Capped the park trip off with a visit to our other neighbors who have a new puppy....so cute, words can't describe.

It was a great day :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What a blessing from Lifesong - Fundraising for Lauren

We have been blessed that Lifesong will provide to us an adoption grant for some of the remaining fees and adoption expenses incurred in order to bring Lauren home. Here is how this works... friends and family make a tax deductible donation to Lifesong for Orphans and follow these steps:

Check payable to Lifesong for Orphans
On the memo line write "preference Blunt #1973 adoption"
Mail check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St.
Gridley, IL 61744

Deadline is June 15, 2011. Money received by Lifesong will be passed on to us in the form of a grant... and you will receive a tax write-off for the donation.

We are trying to raise approximately $8000 - this is the remaining expense that has not been paid to finalize the adoption. We know that not everyone will be financially able to donate... and we're asking for your prayers! We cherish your prayers, because we know through intercession God listens and responds according to His will. Thank you all so much for partnering with us in our adoption.
Blessings~
Brad, Renae, and Joshua

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Joining an adoption support group

We are so excited...we've found an adoption support group in our home town and we're attending our first meeting this Thursday night. God has placed this in our path....so we're really looking forward to see what He has planned.

We also will be attending an adoption seminar for two days next week... this too we are excited about - listening to national experts on adoptions, having discussions with other families, etc... should be a great time.

We're still waiting for our original referral paperwork... I know it takes time, so we're patiently waiting. Our hopes for traveling this year are diminishing...but that's ok... we'll get her... when we get her. We just can't wait, we're so very excited.

Joshua shared her picture with his classmates this week at school for show and tell... the children were very interested and the teacher got the globe and showed them where India is located... I wish I could have seen Joshua's presentation of her...his teacher said it went very well :)

All for now... making dinner
Renae.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's in a Name???

Throughout this blog you will see us refer to our Indian daughter as "Lauren". I thought it might make sense as to why that is the case. Before we had Joshua, Brad and I picked out the name Lauren if he was to be a girl. We even went as far as to say it would be Lauren Elizabeth (Elizabeth because of Brad's sister, and also because my life long best friend's middle name is also Elizabeth)...so any daughter of ours is sure to be named Lauren.......

But now we find ourselves reading many adoption books and find that a child's name means sooo much more to them - it's the one thing that most often the birth mother gave them... it's something for them to hold on to from their birth mother. A child recognizes their own name as early as 4 months, according to one source!! So for now our blog will continue to refer to her as "Lauren"...mainly at this point to protect her identity since the blog is such a public forum....but we will likely name her "Lauren {insert birth name}.... and call her both for a period....decide later what fits..... not focus too much on our immediate desire, but see how it goes... she will be adopted with all her paperwork in India with her birth name... changing a name occurs, if it happens in the US adoption process...so we have time to decide. Just to let you know...her real name is.... {a beautiful name} :) and has a specific Indian meaning.

As for the meaning of "Lauren".... I've never researched it until today.... and I find it has a lovely meaning. It is of Latin origin, and its meaning is "the bay, or laurel plant". Not to share too much, but our "Lauren" lives in a city along the sea :)... so "the bay" could be a deliberate connection to her birth location.... and "laurel plant" is an evergreen and fragrant plant. Its leaves and young branches were woven into a crown and rewarded to the winner of the Olympic games. Although the laurel plant is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to made many times. The laurel crown is perishable, but the true believers shall receive the crown of glory which will never fade away. Here are two verses in particular: 1 Peter 5: 4, 1 Corinthians 9:25

1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

I love this verse, because it speaks to self-discipline, which is something we all need. I pray my steadfast focus is on Christ-like behavior as I live this life on earth. I pray for disciplines that will honor His name above all. I love this connection to the Laurel tree and how this branch was used as a crown...as a glorious crown, but we are reminded that this earthly crown will fade.... and our holy crown in Christ is where our treasures are. For now, our eyes are clearly fixed on bringing "Lauren" home... we pray for her daily, her health, her caregivers, her feelings and emotions, her development.... we are very disciplined in keeping her in our prayers. Our prayers are she is adorned with all the things that matter eternally.... our love, our respect for her and who SHE is, our patience, our understanding, our care, her family, her trust, her sweet heart, her grief, her loss, her transition, her attachment, her inside beauty.... her belonging in our family. One thing for certain..... a Blunt she will be. :)

~Renae

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Great Indian Saturday

Last Saturday, Brad, Joshua, and I had the greatest day!  We dedicated the day to experiencing and learning more about India.  We started with lunch at an Indian restaurant.....wow, the food was fabulous.  Of course, we told our waitress about "Lauren" and shared a picture.  She was Indian and also born in Mumbai.  We learned that Mumbai used to be called Bombay.  She was really fun to talk to and learn about India in between waiting on tables.  We purchased a cookbook from them, and marked some of the favorite things we ate at the buffet that day....the greatest thing about a buffet...you get to try many things. 

After lunch, we went to an Indian market here in Lexington.  We purchased some food to be able to cook.  The store owner was equally loving and gracious as we shared our story and told him we wanted to try to make an Indian meal ourselves.  We also discussed a cultural center that is located here in Lexington that I found online.... interestingly enough, the center's picture was on the back of the cookbook, with certain proceeds going toward support of the center.  It seems the center is quite open and welcoming to all people.  The store owner informed us about some of the protocol for visitors, but was really great...so this is something we can see ourselves visiting at some point.  We bought a few things ..... and we were off to plan our evening meal.

We read more of our books for our service plan, talked alot about Lauren with Joshua.... he was so sweet.. he LOVED the Indian food and informed us that, "we will have to go eat there a lot when Lauren comes, because that is the food she will like."  We're hoping so...because we loved it too.  This will be one way that we will deliberately honor her culture and make "being Indian" a part of our family.

It was a great day! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nesting...a little too early, but effective none the less

They say that when a woman is pregnant during the later parts of her pregnancy she begins to go crazy around the house "nesting".  This would include cleaning and getting the baby's room ready.  Nesting is doing all the things to prepare for the new arrival of the baby. 

Well, Renae has been nesting....like crazy......clearly a little too early, but none the less, she's a planner and LOVES to check things off the list.  Not so much the cleaning part -- we do have a 5 year old after all, but the getting the baby's room ready is really coming along.  I have been buying SOME clothes (still don't know what size she will need)...and also buying baby toys.  We can't wait to bring her home, get on the floor, and play with these toddler toys.  Some of these are the same toys that Joshua had...others are new. Her room is so cute...we are so excited.  Now if I can just get to the cleaning / nesting part.  Don't get me wrong, we do try our best to keep the house picked up.... but it certainly has brought about the realization that all of Joshua's little toys and pieces of play sets will need to be picked up consistently.  I do think with all her toys, hopefully she'll be more interested in those than anything Joshua may have.... yea, right!  She's going to be intrigued with EVERYTHING he has too :)  It's gonna be great watching them interact and play together.  He's already planning on teaching her all kinds of things like colors and shapes, numbers, and math. 

On another note - as we walk this path, we continue to learn and reflect.  One thing I found particularly interesting is how few toys there are of children of color in playsets.  I did find some - but this was a profound reality to me as I shopped two large well known baby stores.  In a country that will soon have Caucasians in the minority, I find this sad and intriguing that toys and books are not more widely diverse. I'm not sure what to do with this, if anything...just a reflection. I remember as a young girl collecting Madam Alexander's "Country" dolls, in which collectible dolls were placed on a stand on a shelf for the mere idea of collecting and viewing.  These were great dolls, all with culturally appropriate dress and hair... I loved these dolls from all around the world.  (Unfortunately, we sold them at some point), but in reflecting it seems so global looking back, such a world view that this little girl that grew up in a small town in Illinois, that had dolls reflecting multiple countries will one day have a little angel from India.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What is it about adoptive parents that love each other so much?

I just read a post from a family that has been in Ethiopia for 85 days waiting for their adoption to become final.  On a daily basis I anxiously come home to check their blog to see the news of the day...some days they posted...others I'm sure were busy...some days they were upbeat...other days very sad about their long stay away from home.  But all the while, they shared and loved on their baby twins and waited as patient as possible to get the news they had VISAs to come home.  Well today, the news was posted....they have the VISAs and can come home!!! 

Here is the thing I find amazing, I've never met this couple, they live in Lexington...and we were connected through email gosh... probably almost two years ago when we were both considering the Nepal program.  We lost connection when we left that program ...and then later when I checked on their post I learned they moved to the Ethiopia program.  ....so for now, we've only connected through her blog, and stories, and my comments on her blog. 

What is it that bonds people through adoption?  Is it the ups and downs, the waiting, the deep desire to have someone to go through this process with (other than your family).. it's great to share stories and know that we're not alone.  Adoption can be so challenging and trying...it's not for the weak heart, that's for sure.  It takes determination, patience, and a lot of faith!  But we know this....God loves orphans. 

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families. Psalms 68:5-6

We are so thankful to God for bringing this family home.  We know in all things there is a pupose, and we are thankful for his protection and provision for this family.  We also thank him for this time they have had to bond....wow, bringing home twins!  I can't imagine how hard that will be to have TWO little ones at the same time!  But we know God is good -- and we're so happy for the Mullins. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Working on our Service Plan - Praying for Chiffon Curtains.

We have a significant project called a Service Plan.  It is lengthy with all kinds of things to read, research, and write strategies, etc. for adding our daughter into our daily life.  I'm currently reading Inside Transracial Adoption - one of the required books. .... and ran across a quote in the book that is so very much worth repeating... I love it so much.

Quoted from Inside Transracial Adoption by Steinberg and Hall. 
"Relationships are made of one at a time, in tiny links, experiences joined together end to end to make a chain… trying to become part of something we don’t know much about may at first feel like pushing against a heavy wooden door, but, after time when you begin to connect to people one by one, the door becomes lighter and lighter, until eventually it is like pushing aside a soft chiffon curtain." 

I immediately think of some of our friends, our friends from the Congo, our friends in our Sunday School class at church, our neighbors.... these are all relationships we love very much...but I do remember at times feeling very awkward with them, not knowing what to say... how to relate... and with our Congo friends trying to converse even though their English is limited..... wow, we've come so far in this last year with friendships.... we're around people we love and that love us.... we are free to be ourselves, and are validated by our friends for who we are.  We share things in honesty, in caring for each other, and in brotherly love.

So I'm learning that this is exactly how our little girl will feel from India.  She will work hard at being accepted by her family, she will be out of sorts in a new environment, she doesn't know what a car seat will be like (this is something our agency mentioned), our foods will be different than what she's used to, we will look different, she will be exposed to many new sights and sounds, AND she will experience a 20+ hour airplane ride - that even to this day I'm amazed with.  We will be going through changes too....but our changes will all be in the comfort and surrounding love and arms of our environment and our friends (you chiffon curtains out there)...... SHE will on the other hand have nothing of comfort but perhaps a toy or familiar piece of clothing from India {home}.  Is is possible to love her soooo much that she won't feel the pain or discomfort?  Is it possible that she's too young to notice these differences.... I think not, we know 2 year olds, just because they may not speak in full coherent sentences doesn't mean they are not taking it all in.  We vow to do all we can to make her feel accepted and at home...to belong with us... but I know this will take some Divine Intervention to fill some of the holes in her heart for the losses she will experience.  I pray with certainty that all of you, our friends and family, will work hard to bring our little one into the chiffon curtain relationships that we share.  She will need all our love....

~Renae.