Friday, September 28, 2012

Our new normal

So now that life has calmed down from all the craziness of the summer and school has started I'm struggling to find "normal" again. In some ways I feel like everything we have just gone through has sort of shaken my world so much that I just can't seem to settle back into a routine. It's really difficult to explain, but I guess I just sort of feel like there is now good way to go through something big and emotionally draining like that and not come out as a different person. That's kind of where I'm at now. Just trying to discover exactly who I am, what I am supposed to be doing with my life.

A year ago I imagined that by now we would have added at least one more child to our family. It's almost surreal to me that I have been doing this blog thing for 14 months now. When I started chronicling our journey this way it was mostly because we had a feeling that we were heading toward adoption. Now I honestly have no idea where we are heading, but as usual I am going to try to enjoy this crazy ride.

It's been a challenging couple of weeks around here. Thank goodness, not challenging in the way that this adoption business has been challenging. I don't think I could handle much more of that! No, instead I have just been feeling so attacked. Which isn't unusual at all during deployments, but boy am I glad that all of this stuff waited until AFTER the situation with V was over. Praise Jesus for miracles like that!

Anyway, lately it just seems like everything is falling apart. And I do mean that literally. I think that the first thing was that my lawn mower decided not to work. Argh. At least it hasn't rained and the grass is dead and I have the most AWESOME neighbors that took care of one final mowing for me.

Then the truck died. Oh, the truck. Let me preface this by saying that Ben's truck and I have a love-hate relationship. Except that it's mostly just hate. Ha!  But seriously, this truck and I just don't get along very well and so the prospect of caring for it while Ben was gone was quite a daunting task for me. In case you haven't seen this thing, let me try to explain a little better. The truck (a.k.a. Brutus) was once a 1999 Toyota 4runner. Now it's part 4runner, part monster truck and mostly a big pain that requires a whole lotta maintenance. I've been taking Brutus for a drive once a week just to keep him running and all of that. When I went to drive him a week or two ago he didn't start. At all. It's times like this that I am so grateful that Ben has learned so much about vehicles and my dad is a guru as well. After running some diagnostics (and feeling quite impressed with myself that I could test the alternator, check for shorts in the wires AND replace and recharge the battery) I still had no idea. Let me also mention that in order to even open the hood I have to get up on the ladder. Pretty sure my neighbors all think that I am nuts since I have been standing on a ladder, rummaging under the hood of this crazy truck for the past week or so. After mustering up all my vehicle knowledge I convinced Autozone to replace the battery for me since it is under warranty still. So far it seems that fixed the problem. Woohoo!

Next it was the washing machine. It's making crazy noises. One swift kick and the noises miraculously stopped! Yay! Me - 1, Washing Machine - 0. I'm hoping that it was just unbalanced and will remain better now. I guess only time will tell!

Then Ben's computer crashed. Completely dead. So now we have to use calling cards to talk, or he can go and use the phones that the Army provides, but you only get 10 minutes and it just makes it hard to even talk when you're just waiting for the little voice to come on and say, "this call will end in 30 seconds." We knew his computer was having some issues but we were really hoping that it would just hang on through this deployment. Sigh...

Imagine my surprise when I pulled out of my driveway this afternoon and noticed that Brutus had a super flat tire. Really, the truck hates me. This evening I managed to get it filled up to about 15 psi and tomorrow I will see if it has held any of the air. If it has I'll fight with it to see if I can get it to fill up the rest of the way. I have no idea what was going on with it tonight but the air compressor seemed to be running on fumes (which is impossible since it's electric!)

I can't wait to see what surprises are in store for me next week!

Sometimes it's really hard being the one who has to take care of everything while Ben is away. Oh, who am I kidding, it's ALWAYS hard. I can't wait for my hubby to get back. I'm sure things break just as often when he's here but it just somehow seems so much more manageable when I'm not the only one who can take care of it.

And just so you don't think that I'm completely whining, let me wrap this up by saying that I love this life. It's a mess, and it's hard, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am so incredibly proud of my husband and what he does. He is amazing and I am so proud to be an Army wife! It is an honor to serve beside him and I wouldn't want it any other way! HOOAH!

Love you all!

B, E & H

P.S. I should have also mentioned that I am sooooooooo grateful for the opportunity to miss my hubby and to really appreciate what he does for our family! Love that man!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where does the time go?

Well friends, since my last post we have just been muddling through life, trying to enjoy everything that we can and count down the days until my sweet hubby gets to be back home with us! It's hard to believe that it has only been two months since he left. The past couple of months have felt like an eternity. I am so incredibly grateful that this is only a 4 month deployment, I don't think that my heart could handle much more than that.

One thing that I am grateful during this time is that it has really been such a time for growth, both for Ben and I. We certainly have been tried and tested and I feel like I have come away from all of this as a much stronger person. That's not to say that I would like to do it over, but at least I can see that there has been a positive change. One thing that I really have been thinking about the past few days is that this has helped me to get over myself (so to speak). Oh, that's not to say that I won't have plenty of selfish moments still. We are all human and it's so natural for us to be self-absorbed. But what I mean is that this has helped me to really see beyond my own little world into the world of those around me. Yes, this has been a difficult season. Yes, I wish my husband was home and that this sweet child were a part of our family. BUT, it could be worse. It could always be worse. And I am so overjoyed to know that there is hope for a future with no suffering. I long for heaven in a way that I have never longed for it before.

Part of this realization is also a friendship that I have developed over the past few months. Really, I can't chalk this up to anything other than divine intervention. Hunter and I were at the park about a month before Ben deployed and Hunter began playing with a couple other little boys there. The mother of these boys struck up a conversation with me (I had already noticed that she was wearing an adoption shirt) and through the course of that conversation I found out that she was the widow of one of the helicopter pilots that was killed here at Fort Lewis in December of this year. That particular night Ben's Company had been the responders that helped secure the crash site, so although I didn't know what was happening that night, I had been praying for her family from the time that Ben got a call, threw on his uniform and disappeared out the front door. This family had just finalized an adoption of a little boy with some severe medical issues and days later lost their father. Wow. Anyway, the point of telling you this is that she has been such an inspiration to me. It's really hard to feel sorry for yourself over something like my own experience when clearly it is trivial compared to a loss like theirs. Which is not to say that she is in anyway asking for pity. Oh, no! It's quite the opposite. Instead she is choosing to do just what I have been wanting so badly. She is creating beauty out of those ashes and she is using her story to help others. I am so honored to be helping her do this and I would love if you would join us as well. The organization that she is starting is called LiveYourLoveLoud and the mission is basically just to help those who can't help themselves - specifically widows and orphans. We are still working out kinks and trying to figure out how to get a webpage going, etc but for this month the funds raised will go toward putting a roof on a clinic in Bugabo, Africa. If you would be interested in helping do this please check out my friend's blog (and read her story while you are there. She is an AMAZING writer!) Here's the link: Holding Fast

Thank you for all the support you have given us so far. Honestly, it has been just amazing to have so many people behind us. It makes all the difference in the world.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have to tend to a dead truck. I tell ya, if it's not one thing it's another around here! At least the truck had the decency to wait to die until life had become a little calmer. Ha!

Oh, and one more thing! Here's a little "kindergarten cuteness" for you!

B, E & H


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hard things

This morning, while I was talking to Ben on my cell phone, the house phone rang. Usually it's just some sort of advertisement or my university trying to coerce me into signing up for more classes (seriously, they called every day for a week and when I tried to sign up we discovered that none of the classes offered in the obscure mid-semester that they were trying to recruit me for fit into my line of study, sheesh!) so I decided to ignore the phone under the assumption that if it was someone important they would leave a message. Besides, talking to my hubby is pretty darn important!

Naturally, it was the CASA (court appointed special advocate) wanting to talk about V. You know, it has been a full month since anyone has called me about him? I digress... After I got off the phone with Ben I called her back right away to see what she needed although I already had a pretty good idea what she was about to ask. She wanted to know if we would consider taking V in and waiting out this situation.

It's times like this that I am extraordinarily grateful that Ben and I have been able to talk a lot during this deployment. Because of his job and because communications are getting a lot better we have been able to chat almost daily and it has been such a lifesaver since there has been so much craziness since he left. We had anticipated this call coming at some point so we had already talked through what we should do if/when it happened. Boy am I grateful for that. But, it sure didn't make it any easier.

I had to say no.

Trust me, I wanted to say yes. But there are soooooooooo many variables in this case that just make it so messy and so difficult. First, we said from the beginning that we wanted no part in dealing with "the state" and "the system." It was never our desire to fight to take a child from their parents. We wanted it to be cleaner than that and we wanted a child who had already been legally freed from any and all parental ties. That was not all what we were dealing with here. Instead we had numerous people fighting to gain control of this child and it sure was messy. Another huge red flag is the timeline. There is a very very small chance that things could go to court next month, parent's rights could be terminated and we could finalize an adoption six months after that. However, there is a very real possibility that this could continue to drag out for many more months and that we could end up moving before we ever had a chance to even talk about adoption. I don't see how that scenario could possibly be a benefit to any of us involved. Finally, this is so much harder to do alone than I ever imagined it would be. I've been a single parent before, but I've never been a single parent to a child that I don't know how to parent. Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever done, but doing it alone makes it so much harder. And parenting a child with special needs and traumas... wow. The combination was far more difficult than I thought it would be and I just don't know if I can do it for a couple of months alone. Plus, trying to bring in another parent and going through all of that adjustment will also make things difficult. Because of all of these things and many more we agreed that until V is legally free and Ben is home we can't say yes to taking him, or any other child, into our home.

Please understand that this decision has been meticulously thought through, prayed over and reevaluated numerous times. That doesn't mean that it was easy for me to say no. I've been pretty distraught over it all morning and more than anything I wish I could talk to Ben about it. It is so hard to turn down something that we have desired for so long now, but I know that it was the right decision for all of us. This situation was not a positive situation for V, for Hunter, for Ben and I... Now I am praying that God will put V into an amazing home and that he will have the opportunity to be loved and feel wanted and go on to do great things. It breaks my heart to know that we will probably never know what happens to him. Wow. But I know that his journey isn't over, and neither is ours.

I'm still content. Sad, but content. God has great plans for us and for V. I hope that you can understand our decision, and if not, please trust that we did not make this decision lightly.

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 
'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.'
Jeremiah 29:11-13

I'm clinging to the hope and future that God has for us. This situation felt much more like calamity than it felt like hope. I want to rest in God and rest in His hope.

Love you all,

B, E & H

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Here's a confession. I am one of those people. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that are always trying to be perfect, control freak, over-achieve at everything, never satisfied with anything. That's me.

Here's another confession... I don't want to be like that anymore. It's amazing how much this incredibly crazy journey toward adoption has changed my view of life in general. In many ways I don't even feel like the same person that started this ride 18 months ago. There have been soooooooooo many lessons that Ben and I have both learned along the way, but the biggest lesson, the one that I needed so desperately is this:


Not just settle for whatever you are handed. Not just make due with what you have been given. No. Instead, really, truly, with every fiber of your being learn to embrace and love the life that you have been given. 

We have made so many mistakes along this road so far, but the mistake that we need to correct the most is that we need to be content. Stop searching for something that will "fill a void" or "make us complete." We already have that. Christ has already given us everything we could ever ask for. We need to set aside all selfishness and greed and rest in His abundance which He pours out for us daily. What a concept, huh?

I had already been mulling over this idea when lo and behold our pastor preached an entire sermon today on this very topic. God sure knows how to meet us right where we are. A few things that were said today really caught my attention and I would love to pass them along to you. First, discontentment is about ignoring the beauty of what you do have while fixating on what you don't have. Ouch! My mind is racing back through all of my thoughts, actions, blog posts... I am pretty certain that I have not done very well at this. I am so incredibly blessed with an amazing, heroic, selfless husband and the most adorable, caring son. We have a wonderful marriage and lack for nothing. And yet, here I am focusing on the fact that we would love to bring another child in to our home (certainly not a crime) while completely overlooking the beautiful family that God has so graciously provided me with. What a reality check. My desire to grow our family is in no way wrong, but the way that I was viewing what I had been given already was completely out of line.

A second thing that really struck a chord with me is that contentment is learned. Now stick with me here for a moment. Can it be true? Are we really naturally discontent? I'd have to say that the answer (unfortunately!) is yes! Wow. It's so sad that here we live in the richest country in the world, and have so much and yet we find ourselves always wanting more and more. I want to break out of that. I want to learn to be content with what I have. I want to learn the secret of being content in any situation, no matter how bleak the outcome may look.

Finally, contentment is not a lack of ambition. There is a difference between laziness and contentment. Laziness is apathy toward your situation. Contentment is finding the joy in what you have. There is room to be excited, to be ambitious, but yet be content.

So, what now? For me, the answer is just enjoy life. I want to relish every moment I have with my family. I want to spend more time playing with Hunter. I want to go on dates with my husband and not talk about the future, or adoption, but just enjoy being together and living in the moment. I want to know what true contentment feels like. Want to know what the most encouraging thing about contentment is? The thing that really gets me excited? Being content gives me permission to give God all the control and know that He is good and he will take care of me. It lets me break out of the mindset that I have to be perfect. Instead, I can rest in His perfection. Oh happy day!!!

It's funny. You'd think that after all of the craziness that we have gone through in the past couple months that I would be at a peak of discontentment, but I'm not. At first I was pretty discouraged, but strangely that discouragement slowly morphed into a newfound freedom and excitement. A sense that for the first time in a long time I could focus on what I enjoy and what makes me happy. Now that I didn't have to focus on paperwork, reading books on how to care for children who have been broken down by the world, frantically finishing up classes, juggling social workers, you get the idea... Now that I was relieved of some of that I felt free to be myself and for the first time in a long time I felt content. I'm excited to see what God has in store for us next!

I have no idea what the future will hold. I don't know if we will have to move shortly after Ben gets back from Afghanistan, I don't know if and when we will be adding more kids into our family. I don't even know what we are having for dinner tomorrow! But I do know this much: God is good. And I can rely on Him no matter what happens. This, and this alone, is what makes me content.

Love you all,

B, E & H

I have learned that in whatever situation I am to be content. 
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. 
In any and every circumstance,
 I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, 
abundance and need. 
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Phillipians 4:11b-13