"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Monday, January 21, 2013

True Story

My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.

Derek Loux

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lord its now…

This is a very important prayer request.

I know if you read my blog, you know about the Russian-American adoption ban… or I am sure that you have read about it in the news.

Everyone in the adoption community is devastated.  These are children lives that are being used as political pawns. Children who deserve a hope and a future.  Children who if they have any kind of special need, will live out there short, unhappy lives in an adult mental institution… and if they are healthy, will probably end up on the streets on drugs or involved in crime or prostitution.

As you can imagine the families committed to children or who were working toward bringing children home are even more devastated and uncertain.  In their hearts, they believe these children are THEIRS.  They love them as if they were their own.  Could you imagine if that were your child left far away with no hope and a future?

Today I am asking you to pray for one such family.  It’s a family that is working to bring Suzanne and Daphne HOME, although they are not far enough along in the process to be officially “matched” to the girls.

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Its no coincidence that I included them in my Angel Tree fundraiser.  I have been in contact with this mama for several months, and she has the sweetest, kindest heart.  She summed up the situation on the treatment Eastern European and Russian children with special needs perfectly – “I can’t believe anyone would treat children like that.”

Yesterday I received this email from that mama -

Stori,

Really needing your prayers.  My husband's faith is failing about
Daphne and Suzanne.  Everything going on in Russia is disheartening.
We aren't sure how to move forward.  Signing on with the adoption
agency portion, and losing out of $2,250 of initial costs, is scary.
He isn't comfortable taking donations or fundraising for something
that might not be able to go towards an actual adoption.  Please pray.
He's talking about adopting from Bulgaria or Latvia.   My heart is
with these girls!  [My husband] says maybe it's just to pray for them or help someone else raise the money.  He's praying someone in Russia adopt them.  I know it's possible, but highly unlikely.

Adoption is a gut wrenching, difficult process.  This is a wonderful family that has no other motives than to save the lives of two little girls.  One, my precious Suzanne who I have loved for a long time has been transferred.  I can promise you she doesn’t look like the above photo anymore.  Her head has been shaved, and she’s probably lost weight.  And Daphne, who I had never noticed before this, an older child that has not been transferred for some reason. No body ever seems to want the older children Sad smile, but this family does!  They are amazing.

Can you join me in praying for this family?

  • Please pray for them to receive wisdom and discernment from the LORD.  That they would know His will for them in the adoption process.
  • Please pray that by some miracle they would be allowed to adopt the children who have grown in their hearts – Suzanne and Daphne!  I don’t want to see the girls left behind either when they are so close to a family!
  • Pray that they would be in complete agreement as husband and wife when they do move forward.

And please pray for Russia in general -

  • Please, please continue to pray that the ban be lifted COMPLETELY.  Its barbaric.
  • Please continue to pray that the adoption culture in Russia GROWS.  That Russian begin adopting Russians, especially those with special needs.
  • Please pray that parents of children with special needs stop giving them up!  That they fight for their children's health and ability to be included in society.

You know, I know God’s heart is for the orphan and adoption is part of His plan to redeem the lives of the orphans. I know He wants us to care for the least of these.  I know that He never, ever promises us that obedience is easy!  Some things about Christianity are a bitter pill - it’s the truth, its not always supposed to be easy for us to understand nor are we always to expect perfect blessings.  The LORD has the ability to fix everything and make things happen so easily, and yet He so often doesn’t… Instead He invites us to trust Him, to pray and engage Him, to give Him the chance to prove that He is a mighty God… so that we can see and fully understand His glory.

I can promise you, I have tasted and SEEN that the LORD is GOOD!  His will will be done, and His glory will shine through this!

Please, please, pray with me for these children, Daphne and Suzanne, for the family that loves them, and for orphans all over Russia!  God does listen, and He does move on our behalf – your prayers do matter to Him.

“And everything you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” Matthew 21:22

Last Update on Two Baby and Prayer Requests

So I have another prayer request that I would like to share later, and its so much more important than this one so I am sharing it second.  That way it will be on top on the blog!

Truthfully I hadn’t even planned on asking for prayer requests for myself until Monday, but we had some changes last night.  They are probably minor and no big deal, but definitely being 33/34 weeks pregnant in a different city that’s a two hour flight away from my OB Doctor that is a 13 hour flight away from the city where I will deliver has me a little paranoid. Selfishly, I covet your prayers this morning.

Other than the heartburn, most of this pregnancy has been pretty easy.  In fact our company Doctor in Novo came by yesterday to deliver some probiotics that the Doctor in Moscow had recommended for me, I told her I didn’t even feel pregnant! I even had plans to go bowling this afternoon.

Yesterday was not even a strenuous day for me.  I picked up the house and did laundry and that was it.  Starting yesterday afternoon I started to have a fairly strong back pain/ache in my lower back that extended down all the way to my feet.  I haven’t had any back pain this pregnancy, and since I hadn’t done anything strenuous I was surprised by it.  I was even more surprised when it stuck around to today.  Last night it was so uncomfortable that I had to get up and take a warm bath to make it feel better, and today it feels a little worse.

I made the mistake of Googling my symptoms, not just regular back pains, but sustained back pains and they were the first sign of preterm labor! How did I freak myself out before Google???

Needless to say, I called our company Doctor this morning, who is here in Novo to tell her about it, and she called my Doctor in Moscow.  Thankfully she doesn’t think that it is anything to do with early labor – just the baby moving into just the right position to make me very uncomfortable.  But still, the pain has gotten worse as the day has gone on; starts in my lower back and goes all the way down to my feet.  My head hurts too, but that could just be from lack of sleep last night.  Wresting with my active, strong, lately-naughty toddler hasn’t helped much either.  I don’t know what it is about her, but she does not listen – she just smiles and does whatever the heck she wants!  And its not funny, especially not to me right now. I’ve never felt more helpless as a parent; I feel like she’s out of control.

So with everything going on, I decided to get my requests out there early.  I hope you will understand. Please pray for me in the following:

TRAVEL PRAYER REQUESTS

  • That this pain in my back subsides, especially for the traveling part of the trip.  This could make holding/lifting Isla and/or sitting for long periods of time very uncomfortable.
  • That nothing prevents me from traveling next Thursday.  My Doctor’s clearance in Moscow checks out and I make it on the plane without trouble – that includes navigating the WORST AIRPORT EVER – Domodedovo.
  • That Isla would behave on the plane and that I can quickly meet her needs and keep her entertained without getting too exhausted myself.  Because we leave early in the morning, she doesn’t really sleep much since its during her day time, so its 12.5 to 13.5 hours of keeping her busy in a confined space. Fun.
  • I’ll just throw in here that Isla would sleep for longer than usual!
  • That Singapore Air does not forget to bring my stroller to the gate in Houston.  Its have 2 out of 4 times I’ve traveled and both times it resulted in me having to wait with my cranky/tired toddler for over 30 minutes while they figured out their mistake and brought it back from baggage claim.  Bush Intercontinental is way too huge to carry or walk through with Isla as jetlagged as she is… not to mention keeping her still during passport control.
  • That we would get in a good line in passport control.  Some lines goes fast – some lines go slow!  I need a fast one.
  • That someone would help me with my bags in baggage claim.
  • That I find my parents quickly when we get out.  Normally my mom is waiting for me, but with her broken foot, I will just have to wait outside until my parents drive around at the right time – which could take a while.  The airport won’t let you park and wait.
  • Oh and maybe that I don’t go into labor on the plane – that’s the top one.

We have had some great news!  First, Nick will be with me in Moscow and will see me to the airport, which is HUGE.  We thought he might not be able to make it.  Secondly, one of Nick’s colleagues who I know and like very much will be on the same plane – even better, he really likes Isla!  He will be in business class and I will be in economy, but still, its nice to know that someone I know will be on the plane in case something goes wrong.

HOME PRAYER REQUESTS

  • That nothing happens that prevents Nick from being at the birth.  It’s a scheduled c-section, but things can change very quickly with a baby’s delivery!  Pray that we will have enough time to change his flight should Two Baby need to come any earlier.
  • That we won’t miss Nick too much.  I hate that we will be apart for over  month.  Two Baby is SO WORTH IT, but it will be hard.  This is the best way to break up my time in the states.  I think I will be there for 2.5 to 3 months AT LEAST, and if he can travel as close to the birth as possible that means that he not only will get to spend the most time with Two Baby, but also the less time we will have to spend apart in general after he leaves.
  • My mom is normally a HUGE help when I go home, but unfortunately she is on bed rest still for her shattered heel at least until February 1st!  And I don’t think she’ll be able to help much after that.  My dad will be gone a lot too traveling to India… so I will essentially be a VERY PREGNANT single mother for the next month until Nick arrives.  I think I can do it, but I think it will be very challenging, looking after Isla, being so big (and possibly in pain if my back doesn’t stop this), and also helping my mom as much as I can!
  • That we get Two Baby’s paperwork together quickly – we need birth certificate, passport and Russian visa in that order.  That could be one limiting factor for return to Russia quickly, hopefully everything will flow smoothly and we can get them in order quickly.
  • That Two Baby and I get clearance to fly in a timely fashion from our Doctor’s.  I will need at least 6 weeks recovery after a c-section, pray that it heals well, and I don’t know how old Two Baby should be before he or she flies. I will leave that one up to his or her pediatrician.
  • That we figure out how I will get back to Russia.  I don’t think I will be ready to fly by myself with two kids (and Nick agrees), and originally my mom was supposed to come, but now she won’t be able to.  Probably it will be Nick, but we’ll see how it goes.

GENERAL PRAYER REQUESTS

  • Right now there is so much uncertainty in our future and its making me very anxious.  I just ask that you pray for me to trust God more and not worry about tomorrow – as He says, it has enough trouble of its own.

“He makes the barren woman to keep house and be a JOYFUL mother of children!” Psalm 113:9

joyful mothr

In spite of my anxiety, I am joyful and thankful for my children.  In spite of Isla’s naughtiness, I am joyful. I love her little happy, but strong willed personality.  People LOVE her.  And in spite of all the difficulties, I am so thankful for Two Baby.  Two Baby’s delivery was never going to be easy – but never has there ever been anything more worth doing! We love you Two Baby, and we can’t wait to meet you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Little Two-Baby Update

So… I am finally getting around to sharing about how our Doctor’s appointment in Moscow went.  Only two weeks late!

Before we even went into the appointment, we learned that Dr French would not be in Moscow that particular week so if we wanted a Doctor’s appointment we would have to meet with someone else… a different Doctor than that little meanie man?  Gee, let me think… um, ok, yes please, sign me up! That put me in good spirits, so I was very excited to be able to see a new Doctor.  I would never have asked to switch on my own, but this worked out very well.

My friend Margie, whose husband works with Nick in Novo was in Moscow and staying at the same hotel as us and she offered to watch Isla while we went to the Doctor.  That was such a huge help!  I normally don’t take people up on offers to help for free – I’m saddled with a little too much American independence, but I just couldn’t resist this one.  Isla is usually wild at the Doctor’s office.  She’s not misbehaving just very interested in everything that is going on, and she has such a hard time sitting still.  She is a little naughty in that she also always interrupts us so its hard to ask the Doctor questions or have a good conversation with the Doctor.  This makes figuring out the regular Doctor’s French accent even more difficult.

Anyway, we got to go the Doctor without Isla, just Nick and I… reminds me of the days when I was pregnant with… well Isla!  Nick was at every single one of her appointments.  This time he has only been able to make one of my appointments in the states, although he has been at all of the visits in Moscow.  Its so nice to have him with me supporting me, getting excited with me, and asking questions!

First let me tell you about the Doctor I met with, she is a Russia woman, and if you EVER have the choice between a Russian female OBGYN and a French male OBGYN – go with the former!  I had told my Doctor here in Novo to just pick whichever one, which is how I ended up with Dr French.  I told him I had had male OBs and female OBs – a male had delivered Isla and I LOVED him so I didn’t care.  But I should have specified nationality! 

My new Dr, a lady I like to call Doctor Babushka was soooo sweet.  I loved her.  She was so nice and personable, just like a Russian babushka, and instead of trying to communicate in English she relied on her interpreter.  That has been a huge source of frustration with Dr French because his accent is so thick, but refuses to use his nurse, who has excellent, perfect English.  Dr Babushka understands all English, but she is more comfortable letting her interpreter speak for her.

She fussed over me like a babushka.  She listened to me.  And then it came time for the ultrasound!!!

AND WOW!!!!!

She spend 45 minutes thoroughly examining Two Baby and showing us every little detail about Two Baby insides!  She explained everything she was doing, she even tested the blood oxygen levels to the brain to show us that Two Baby was so healthy!  Praise God.  I would praise God for Two Baby – healthy or not, but I am thankful that he or she isn’t showing any major health problems.  The Doctor also assured me that Two Baby was head down and the umbilical cord was in a good location. Smile

And she spent forever trying to get us a shot of Two Baby’s little face.  The umbilical cord was right in front of the mouth so it looks a little fuzzy in the pictures, and no matter how she manipulated things she couldn’t get it, but that’s ok.

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Nick and I were just in awe the entire time over how beautiful he or she is.  I cried, and Nick was so happy.  Little Two Baby is loved for sure!  I always laugh a little at my friends who are First Borns – they suffer from a case of what I like to call First Born Narcissism (its ok because I have my Baby Narcissisms too!), but every single one is sooo worried about whether or not they will love their second child as much as their first… and SHOCKER, when they actually give birth, they do love their second child just as much!  Since Nick and I are both the youngest in our families, we’ve never really had that fear since we never felt like we were loved less than our older siblings.

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I just love that little face!!!  We never did 4-D with Isla, and we wouldn’t have with Two Baby either if it wasn’t already part of the Doctor’s routine, but I am definitely doing it again if I get pregnant with a third.  It was so special.

When we got back to the hotel, Margie assured us that Isla was so good, which I knew she would be!  She’s only naughty for her Mama and Daddy – other than that, she is very charming Smile.  We had a lot of fun showing Isla the pictures of Two Baby (we have so many!), and she in turn has had a lot of fun Facetiming our parents and showing the pictures of the baby to them.

Two Baby better beware though!  Isla has taken to flipping through the ultrasound pictures, muttering angry sounding, unintelligible things at them and then banging her fists on them, Mussolini-style… we may have to watch this girl!

Although today I found her chattering happily at the pictures, and when I asked her to return to the table to finish her apple, she told me “I’m just talking to the brother in my belly and the baby in your belly.”  It was pretty cute, so I made sure to get pictures of it, and of course I let her talk longer.

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By the way, when asked if she’s going to have a brother or a sister she will inform you that there is a “Brother in my belly and a sister in Mommy’s belly.” Very cute.

And we have some BIG DATES that are on the official schedule!

  • Last Doctor’s visit in Moscow to get clearance to fly to the USA – January 23rd.
  • Return trip to the USA – January 24th.
  • C-section – February 25th at noon!

As we get closer to my return date, I am going to post some prayer requests because I admit that I have some anxiety about not being able to travel for some reason and also the flight itself since it will be just Isla and me.

In general I am doing well.  Very little heartburn (YAY!), but still super hot feet – so hot in fact, that soaking them in the bucket of cold water by my bed hasn’t been helping.  It affects my sleep, but other than that, everything is good.  I have started getting more tired, a little more achy and a little more emotional, but that is to be expected.  I am just trying to take it easy and not push myself… at all, actually. Smile

Here are Isla and I before our church’s Christmas Eve service on Sunday – you can tell I am starting to get puffy!!!  She of course is as beautiful as always Smile.

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Also, ONCE AGAIN, we still don’t have names picked out, and that is a huge source of stress for me.  I don’t want this baby to be 10 hours old and unnamed like Isla… so that’s a little selfish prayer request from me.  I am tempted to do a blog post on why its so hard for us, but then you would KNOW how crazy we are, instead of just probably assuming it!

I am looking forward to each milestone that brings me one step closer to meeting our newest little love!  Really, we are so blessed.

And one final unrelated picture that’s just for the grandparents – Nick took it of Isla and I love it!  He is much better at photography than I am.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Angel Tree Reprieve

So on New Year’s Eve… we didn’t get all of our babies over the $1000 wall! Sad smile

BUT, in honor of Russian Orthodox Christmas we have been given ONE FINAL SHOT to get all of our babies to their goal!!!

There are only 9 kids left and we need less than $2400 to get them ALL to goal!

Just look at these sweet faces???

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Can you spare a few dollars to get them a little bit closer to their goal?  No donation is too small!

We only have a few hours (about 10) and I would be so eternally grateful!

Click HERE to donate to one of the 9 babies still under $1000!!!! Or here - http://static.reecesrainbow.org/angeltree2012/.

Thank you!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our (Almost) Perfect Christmas

So, I was a Scrooge McGrinch in the last Christmas post, and I admit that I went into our delayed Christmas feeling a little bit negative… but there’s just something about celebrating Christmas with your loved ones that puts you in a good mood!

First, you need a few Christmas decorations! Since I documented my last purchase of decorations ad nauseam HERE and HERE 3 years ago, I decided to at least capture my new purchases this year.  I didn’t get many, but I can’t wait to get serious about adding to them a little at a time each year. Also, I left all of my other Christmas decoration in the storage, and I wish that I had just brought them.  Lesson learned for the next move!

First I bought an advent calendar – which we didn’t use.  Actually we tried to do it, but it was too much temptation for Little Frances… maybe next year she will have a little more self control.

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I needlepoint and I have stocking patterns that I have started.  That’s my excuse for never buying stockings before, however its been years since I started them and I figured I better get some other ones in the meantime.  I love these!  They are fun (not even remotely elegant) for the age that we are at and with small kids.  We put Two Baby’s stocking up Smile, and we’ll monogram it later. The store than monogrammed the other three did the WORST job – I need to see if I can get it redone.  On our “mantle” is the German Pyramid that I bought while in Bruges this past February, a little Christmas tree that Agnessa gave us, and Nativity set that I bought from Brookwood in Old Town Spring!  If you don’t know anything about Brookwood, please take a minute to read about it HERE.  I want to do a post on it in the future.  I love my Nativity set, and the fact that it was made by adults with special needs makes me love it even more!

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We bought a fake Christmas tree.  Yes, it is definitely leaning.  Nick says that its because its Russian made and has nothing to do with assembly… hrmm.  I bought a few ornaments in Texas and Canada when we were there in November, and the rest are just cheap bulbs.

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I also bought a red Christmas throw and special Christmas pillows.  I kind want to get a cheap red rug from Overstock or IKEA just for Christmas time, but that will have to wait. I love red and brown together!

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We weren’t sure when to celebrate Christmas, but we decided to go ahead and do it the night we came back from Moscow.  We could have waited 2 weeks for Russian Christmas… but I guess I hate waiting for Christmas! Smile  I wanted to make it happen ASAP.

Since we didn’t back until late at night we stopped off and McDonald’s to pick up our perfect Christmas feast!

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Then we let Isla open her Christmas presents.  We really cut back this year, but she seems like everything she got.  Every single one of my presents was educational, which I didn’t realize until she opened them, and I felt kind of bad.  That’s ok.  She got a lot of fun presents from the Grandparents.

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Isla and Nick got to playing with them right away!  They have actually been playing more with the toys together in the week since which is awesome.  I am so impressed by how quickly she figures them out when they play together.  When she and I play with her toys, she says “I can’t do it, mommy YOU do it” a lot, but she jumps right in when it is her and Nick.  This is very different for them too, usually they play chase and rough house!

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Nick and I… it was late after a long day of traveling.  That’s why you’re only getting a small picture of me.

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Then it was time to set out cookies for Santa Clause.  I let Isla do something she had always wanted to do, which was pour the milk for the cookies into a glass.  After we readied the cookies and milk, I think she misunderstood and thought we said “cookies IN milk” because she then proceeded to dump the glass of milk over the cookies!

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We decided to set them out, as is Smile.

Santa left two presents.  One was a tent.  Upon assembly, Santa noticed that one of the joints in the rod was broken… which set Mrs. Claus crying and bawling over how Christmas was once again ruined (she may be a tad hormonal these days).

Thankfully Santa was able to use some cardboard and tape to smooth out the bed, although you can still see the jag in the pictures below.  The great thing is that Isla is too young to notice and she loved the tent!

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She also got candy in her stocking, which she loved.  She kept reminding me that it was all hers.

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And Santa left Isla a little note on Mama’s stationary, reminding her to be a good girl and to say hi to Two Baby when he or she arrived.  And on the back was a little reminder…

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It says “I love you… but JESUS loves you most of all!”

So a little bit of back ground.  Nick and I were going back and forth on whether or not to do Santa.  We were afraid that it would detract from the real reason for the season, although we are completely fine with everyone else doing it!  No judgment – promise.

Ultimately Isla decided that Santa would come.  We don’t know how she heard about Santa, but in October she asked me to tell her about Santa.  Shocked I stammered “Well, he comes to visit in on Christmas and brings you presents.”

I immediately inwardly cursed myself because I knew she would latch onto the word “presents” and she did!  She immediately said “He’s going to bring me a big present and he’s going to bring you a little present.”  And after that she went on and on and on about Santa.  I also checked with anyone and everyone, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all swear they didn’t tell her about Santa.

And Nick had really wanted to do Santa all along, and I know that Santa’s visits as a child certainly didn’t stop me from loving Jesus, so we decided to go ahead and do it.  Also, I really don’t want Isla to be THAT child, the one who tells everyone else that Santa isn’t real.

So decided to celebrate Santa.  And my WORST nightmares have become a reality.  ALL on her OWN she has started praying to Santa to send her angels.  At night we have a ritual where we go through everyone who loves her and at the end we ask her “But Isla, who loves you most of all?” To which she is SUPPOSED to reply “Jesus loves me most of all!”

However a few weeks ago, she started saying “Santa loves me most of all!”  When we try to correct her, she says “No Santa, he loves me and he’ll send me presents and angels.”

Sigh.  We are the worst Christian parents EVER.

But I know one day she will get everything straight, and this will be a good story Smile.  Still, I feel like a failure when other kid’s know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, a fact that she has been told but likes to forget!

Anyway, our Christmas celebration ended up being really wonderful, even if it was on the wrong day, and I am so thankful for my wonderful family and I’m thankful for the birth of Jesus, the one who made peace between God and man.

Looking forward to Christmas 2013 as a family of FOUR!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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