Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Last Memorial Day we were BBQing and had friends over to swim in the pool.

My poor girlies

A few tears shed by our 2 littlest girls

I miss my boy so much!

Papa misses his little side kick.

Me with my 2 men I love dearly.

There's a beautiful pond in the distance with geese.

Brandon would have thrown something at these guys and laughed.

My babies

Little Haley asked if we could "dig him up" so she could hug him one more time.

A view of his grave and the pond from a distance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Over It

I decided that I would be brilliant this 2nd time around in our adoption and drive 1 1/2 hours to Raleigh to have our dossier documents authenticated in person.  Last time I was completely stressed out with mailing documents back and forth to Raleigh, waiting 5 to 7 business to receive them back and worrying that the post man would lose them.  (I'm sure our post man is relieved that I will not be stalking him for the next few weeks as I wait for my authenticated documents to come in the mail.)

How did today go? Well, let's just say I had an hour and a half drive home this morning to think, pray and get "over it."  I am over the fact that I took a day off work, drove an hour and a half and came back with NOTHING--over it.  The fact that 4 documents were DECLINED and needed to be REDONE--over it.  The fact that I had to walk A MILE in downtown Raleigh, in my heels, in the sprinkling RAIN to redo two documents--over it.  The fact that the local Sheriff's department does NOT store copies of our fingerprints in a database, nor does the FBI that does our adoption background screening--over it. This is the 21st Century--why are our fingerprints not stored in some sort of electronic format??!!!--over it. The fact that I did ALL of that only to find out they WILL NOT do 40 documents on the same day.  They only do 30 documents on the same day and there is NO BENDING that rule--over it.  The fact that I got a $20 parking ticket for being 1 minute late, when I specifically put my debit card in the parking meter TWO times for TWO hours of parking--over it.  BTW, had I worn my lovely tennis shoes with my skirt, I would have definitely made it a mile and back in the RAIN in under an hour. Had I been able to J-walk in the city without my conscience tearing me apart, I would not have gotten the ticket.  Over it. If I had not had the losing discussion  with the authentication office regarding the difference in meaning between "attached" and "enclosed," I would have been back before I received a ticket.  Over it.   The fact that by the time I receive all my documents and am able to mail the whole package out to Ukraine it will OF COURSE be a holiday because any time I need to do something very important all government offices are closed.  Over it.  (I am already a holiday SCROOGE because of the 3 holidays and 6 day delay and inconvenience on our trip to Ukraine last year.  Really, I'm over that too.)  The fact that I got lost on my way home, in my own town that I've lived in for 6 years...while using a GPS system (really, I'm special)--Over it.

One of the positve results of going through an actual BIG trial in life is it makes me a bit more patient.  I don't sweat these minor irritations like I may have a few years ago.  I definitely don't have it all under control, my emotions or my behavior, but I do know that God in in control.  His eye is watching.  His hand is moving.  He has been so unbelievable in allowing the majority of this adoption to go SO smooth and stress free. (Honestly, for the record, it was so much better driving up to Raleigh than waiting on the postal service).  I can rest in knowing that this minor delay today and irritation was ordained by God.  There is a reason that He wanted us to be delayed.  I'm okay with this delay.  I'm over it. I will go beyond that and say that I am joyful that God has blessed us tremendously with the opportunity to adopt (hopefully a boy currently named Nestor) in the next few months.  Psalm 5:11 "But let all those that put their trust in YOU rejoice: let them ever shout for JOY, because YOU defend them; let them also that love YOUR name be JOYFUL in YOU." 

And I wanted to add that it is JUST LIKE GOD to add JOY and ENCOURAGEMENT to a day like today with a sweet card from some dear friends of ours and a donation towards the adoption that was THE EXACT AMOUNT that I spent today on authenticating the 40 documents.  Thank you, Friends, and THANK YOU Dear, Heavenly Father for Your goodness and grace and love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Universal Struggles

I’ve recognized lately that struggles are universal.  No one can get away from pain or suffering on this earth.  How many of you are hurting or grieving?  How many of you know someone who is?  I know several who are hurting.  I have a friend who has had at least 8 different types of cancer and is currently undergoing 12 weeks of chemotherapy.  On top of all that pain and agony she has mountains of hospital bills even after insurance has kicked in.  I have another friend who just learned both her children have terminal diseases and trips to hospitals and specialists are part of her normal daily routine.  I have at least 10 friends who have lost their babies and are struggling to get pregnant again.  I have a friend who just adopted a 2-year-old and found out that sweet, baby girl sustained trauma to her brain causing permanent damage.  The little girl will be dependent upon her parents for the rest of her life.  Another friend lost her 10-year-old daughter in a car accident around the same time we lost our Brandon in his bike accident.  Our missionary friends have a little boy who is chronically sick.  This list could go on and on for miles.

I’d like to share with those of you who are hurting a few things that have helped me through my daily struggles following Brandon’s unexpected death.  I hope some of these things will encourage you and perhaps help you in your own journey through your life and through the Universal Struggles.

Keep a prayer journal.  Back when I was a new mom, I attended a class designed for older, wiser ladies in my church.  There were no young ladies in my church after the church split, so I crashed the older, wiser ladies Bible Study on Tuesday mornings and dragged my infant Katie along for the ride (they didn’t SEEM to mind…wink, wink).  I gleaned a whole lot of knowledge in that class, one of which was keeping a prayer journal. God “keeps track of our every tear” (Ps 56:8).  Why not keep track of your every tear in a journal?   Admittedly I have not kept up my prayer journal well over the last 10 years, at least not until sweet Brandon’s accident.  It’s fun to look back over the years when I did put an entry and see how God answered each request so specifically and perfectly and in PERFECT timing!  I’ll share a few of my more recent entries.

 PRAYER REQUEST: I’m sick this week with a giant goiter on my head from an infected bug bite. I’m SO sad, so lonely and so discouraged and do not feel I want to or have the strength to go through another adoption.  PRAYER ANSWERED: Tim was such an encouragement to me with words, my parents gave us a sizable donation toward the adoption, we got another donation from a “You don’t know me, but…” person and our state tax refund came in the mail. I believe it was God encouraging me to move forward with the adoption through His people.

PRAYER REQUEST: I’m really missing Brandon.  A year ago I was bonding with him in Ukraine, today I’m struggling with energy and joy in life in general.  PRAYER ANSWERED: The school presented a yearbook to our family with pictures inside that Brandon had drawn and a page that was dedicated to him.  My friend, Melissa, also stopped by that afternoon and gave us a scrap book with poems, pictures and kind words several people had written to us.  No one knew I was sad or down.  God knew, and it just so “happened” that He showed His love, yet again, through His people exactly when I needed it.

PRAYER REQUEST: Sunday (Mother’s Day) and Monday (May 14th—Brandon’s anniversary of arriving in the US).  I am SO down and SO discouraged.  I am SO sad.  PRAYER ANSWERED!! Pastor Sean sent an encouraging email.  The girls were encouraging and gave lots of hugs and love.  We enjoyed a celebration together with Krispie Kreme doughnuts. Tim was understanding and accommodating to my needs. I received an email with TWO new pictures of Nestor.  God knows exactly what to send my way to cheer me up!

Rest. Sleep can make the whole world look differently!!  I learned that first when our girls were young.  I had three children ages 3 years old and down and at times rest was scarce.  It was amazing to me how much a nap, or a shower alone would help my mood, and change my entire outlook on life.  If you are tired, by all means sleep—do NOT cover up your tiredness with coffee or eating large amounts of “comfort food!” If you FEEL tired, your body NEEDS sleep.  It’s BEGGING YOU to rest.  It is worth the money to pay a babysitter. Better yet, request help from a friend.  Any friend would be more than willing to watch your little ones so you can get rest. It is good for your body and it boosts your immune system.  Stress wears on a body, but rest rejuvenates your body.  Do something to make your bedroom “pretty.” Buy a new comforter.  Find a new painting.  Light some scented candles and take a bath.  Play some music you enjoy and REST!  Mark 6:31, “And he (Jesus Christ) said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and REST a while’.”

Surround yourself with positive.  Do not, I REPEAT, do NOT watch CNN, FOX News, or anything NEGATIVE for crying out loud!!! We know this world is wretched, okay? You do not need to add to your own personal stress and grief by watching the corruption of the entire world (and the exaggerated, dramatized version of the story at that).  Also, hang out with great friends that make you laugh.  Funny people ROCK!  I love being around my husband.  I recall the day following Brandon’s death, walking over with Tim to where Brandon used to sit at dinner and kissing each other—just because it would have GROSSED BRANDON OUT  and because it made us laugh.  Laughter is not only good for your spirit, but it is also good for your body as well. Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  I’ve also mentioned many times, to listen to good, uplifting music.  One last thought the Bible says, “Whatsoever things are pure, lovely, and of good report, think on these things”….and CNN, FOX News, negative friends or influences (including secular music or depressing movies), etc. are not pure, lovely or good!!  Run for your life from negativity!!!

Pray.  Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray! PRAY!!!!  Pray not only for your own needs, but for the needs of others.  You will be amazed at how your spirit is lifted if you look away from yourself and your own struggles and pray for others!  I pray for all the people I mentioned above regularly and sometimes all throughout the day.  Many times I will wake up in the middle of the night and these people are on my heart and mind.  I immediately begin praying for them.  I believe it is GOD that wakes believers up sometimes in the middle of the night and when HE places a name on your heart, that is the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you.  In our bathroom at the church where I work there is a painting on the wall that says this, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-9).  Prayer works!  God promises to answer prayer. 

Universal struggles are unavoidable because of the Fall of Man.  We are all hurting in one way or another or will at some point in life.  Prayer journals, resting, positive influences and prayer sure beat being down in the dumps all the time or depressed!  I’d encourage you to give it a try!  You just might smile if you do.  Praise God Universal Struggles are not forever!  Those of us who have repented and trusted Christ have an eternity full of joy and peace waiting for us in God’s presence!!  I CANNOT WAIT….In the meantime….while the girls are watching that movie…..I think I’ll take a nap. J

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Have you ever experienced something that was so great that it changed who you are and how you live each day?  I’m talking about one or more of those moments in life that you knew you had been touched by eternity?  I have.  A year ago when Brandon and I drove away from his orphanage forever was one of those moments for me. 

Matthew 25:40 became a way of life to me after that moment.  “I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me” (NET).  Earlier in that passage it says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me” (NET Matt 25:34&35). I can see how this passage pictures the state of an orphan and someone reaching out to that orphan.

I will be honest, and it’s a little hard to describe, but many times as I cared for Brandon I would pause and look deep into his face because I literally felt like I was serving God directly and not simply a little boy named Brandon.  What made it feel different between serving our biological daughters and serving Brandon?  I’m not sure.  I served all 4 children the same way. 

Perhaps it had more to do with the fact that the girls were never considered “one of the least” of society.  They have always been loved from the moment we knew they existed.  I experienced God’s heart for the orphaned because I saw firsthand that he was someone who was truly needy.  I learned compassion like never before.

Now in his death, I’ve comprehended compassion on a whole new level.  I am more tender toward people.  I hurt deeper in my soul than I ever have before when I see a need.  This past week our pastor had the courage to stand up for God’s word and call homosexuality sin.  Word got out to LGBT communities all over our nation and the world.   The story was on CNN and on many other news stations all over America.  Since I’m on staff at the church and my email was public on the church website, I was bombarded all week.  I could not believe the volume of hate mail that poured in to my inbox and how the phone at the church rang off the hook all week with threats and cursing. 

Where normally, I would be callus toward what they were saying and how they were acting, instead I felt a small dose of the misery Jesus Christ experienced as He wept in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Christ knew there would be many who would reject Him and die and go to Hell forever.  It dawned on me and hit me to the core that these people who hate my pastor and everyone who supports or attends our church are lost.  They are “the least of these.”  They are hopelessly helpless and in need of a Savior.  Apart from Christ, they are destined to spend eternity in Hell.  Yet they do not see it.  Their eyes are not open.  It makes me so sad.

I was in that state before I repented and placed my trust in Christ.  I am SO thankful that God saw fit to open my eyes and show me the hopeless state I was in.  Even more so since Brandon briefly came into my life and left it for a season, I am committed to serve Christ even when it hurts and when it’s downright uncomfortable. 

I find incredible joy in knowing that God has called us to serve another orphaned boy from Ukraine.  I am again afraid of all the “unknowns” and surprises that come with International Adoption.  However, I’m choosing to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.  I’m determined to not grow weary or lose heart (read all of Hebrews 12).  I’m thankful for the compassion God is growing inside of me because of Brandon’s life and death, but most of all, I am thankful for my hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ.