Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlight Reel

I was feeling overwhelmed...and I said it, "Ugh. 2012. I hope next year is better. This has NOT been a fun year."

My friend agreed. She knew what all I'd been through.

Then a silly thing happened. I clicked on Facebook's "review of 2012" and I laughed as I remembered some great times.


So, I went on a hunt. Through my Instagram pics and our regular camera shots and I've put together a little rather lengthy highlight reel of this past year.

I discovered, to my delight, that this was a really good year!

True, a lot of hardship took place.

Like way more than is due in one year. Some things are too personal to share, but some appear below.

But...there were some great things that happened too--and I do NOT want to miss out on rehearsing those, because this year can go down however I want it to.

And since life is 90% attitude and only 10% what happens to you, then I am claiming this as a good year.

Here we go:

We had some AMAZING adoption things happen:

We witnessed the amazing progression of Zeb learning to live in a family.

We went from being Zeb's legal guardians to his full fledged mommy and daddy!

Just a few weeks later, we said YES the God about adopting this special needs baby in China!!!

At 1 year
At 18 months

 Then, we learned that HE COULD WALK!!!!! (We fully expected wheelchair and multiple surgeries and years of therapy before he would walk!)
Just before his 2nd birthday
And we have watched God do the AMAZING thing of bringing in EVERY SINGLE PENNY as we need it to bring him home too! (When we said YES to the Lord we had absolutely no money for another adoption!) We still need to raise $11,000 but this is our Adopt Together account at the present moment!

We all had birthdays too:

In March...

In May...

In July...

In August...
In spite of dear hubby's planning, this is the only shot we have of my 40th birthday cake. Doesn't matter. Nope.
Oh and please ignore that whining child hanging on my arm. ;)

In October...

And we had a wonderful string of "firsts" too...

First trip to the ocean!

Not to be outdone...Zeb followed in his older brother's footsteps:

My girls made front page news with our amazing mailman:

Zeb's first time going to school:

My mom turned 70! (her first time ever!) hee hee:

The girls showed calves at the local county fair for the first time:

Oliver went fishing in Lake Erie for the first time: (but doesn't he look like he's been at it for years?)

I got to attend the Ohio State vs. Michigan game with my dad for the first time! (...and we won! And happily that was NOT the first time!)

And a few other things happened that we wish didn't:

I got sick with a parasite that plagued me for 4 months. Dry cheerios was a staple.

Anneli broke her arm. Again. (3rd time! But at least it was the other arm!)

Zeb had his tonsils and adenoids removed. Happy boy before surgery. Not so happy boy for two weeks after!
Another round of croup for our littlest one: (she looks quite happy, but it wasn't really the case!)

And the coup de gras, Brian's lung spontaneously collapsed putting him out of work for weeks, in two hospitals for 10 days and enduring painful chest tubes and a surgery. It was the first time in 16 years he had ever taken off his wedding ring.

But as I choose to memorialize this year, I want to remember these kind of moments:

They were abundant and so sweet.

Sweet times with precious friends.

Yes, all these kids with just two mothers!

Finding the beauty all around:

Okay, you are right, this isn't around our neck of the woods...but the beauty from that morning on the beach was unparalleled!

 Making memories.

Being a family. Delighting in one another.

And as I look back now, this year was jam packed full of highs as well as lows. I would be remiss to want "rid" of 2012. I choose to remember this as a VERY GOOD YEAR. We are made strong by our adversities and our character grows and deepens. Hallelujah!

Wishing you all the best in the New Year and hoping you see the hand of God move in your lives!

And I leave you with this image to guide your heart into praise for our amazing God:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our Christmas Miracle!

We have some news!!

Friday we found out we have...

Jensi, Anneli and Oliver spell out "LOA" for "Letter of Acceptance"

This is our next GIANT step toward bringing Toby home! We anticipated the LOA to come anywhere from late February to early March!

SHOCKING!! To say the least!

The Letter of Acceptance is the official approval from the CCCWA (Chinese adoption authority) that we are specifically able to adopt Toby from China.

The letter is a very fancy, official looking paper that we sign and courier back to China.

We got so excited that we nearly forgot to check, "We accept the adoptee mentioned above," and what a mistake that would have been!

We at one time believed we would travel to adopt him in June...

...but now with this CHRISTMAS MIRACLE...

...we are anticipating traveling in MARCH!!!!!


Hold everything.

While this is INDEED amazing news for our family...I hesitated to share.


Because I have been on the other side.

I've been the one waiting.

The one watching others get what they pray for.

Been the one in tears while others are dancing.

I held our news in (and I was about to burst!) because of the fellow adoptive mothers I know who ACHE to hear some good news.

To know a month when they might travel to meet or finally adopt the beloved children God has grown in their hearts.

To finally get a picture, a name and a story of the child they've been praying for.

To hear that they've finally been chosen by a birth mother.

I've held off for those whose hearts might be crushed by our advancing adoption.

Dear one, if this is you, I've been praying for you. I've been praying you would be filled with the grace that comes when we are forced to wait far, far beyond what we ever dreamed we would be forced to. The ability to hold on to hope. To hang on to faith when Jesus doesn't do what we expect Him to do.

Yes, I've prayed that you might find the ability to rejoice as you wait.

And in that spirit, I pray that you will keep your eyes on Jesus Himself. He has the perfect plan for each family. For us, it has included losing three babies. And now, it includes a second adoption that runs jumps and skips ahead of planned timelines and man's forethought.

We don't write our scripts, He does. Although we have choices that impact our lives the ultimate control is in the hands of our God.

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." 
Proverbs 16:9

And so, we forge ahead!

We work on a final approval from immigration...the one that is called "Permission to classify an orphan as an immediate relative," the form title that threw my heart into shock last time!

And then we work on visas and plane tickets and a few other approvals!

Please pray for us as we adjust to this big TIME JUMP! I feel like I found out I'm in my 3rd trimester rather than my 2nd! AH!

Please pray for our fundraising. We still need to raise $17,000 between now and go time. That's huge. That's gonna be another miracle.

And so because of the God who writes our stories and is in the business of redeeming hearts and lives...

Merry Christmas!!

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