Tell me what it is you want to do with your one wild and precious life? -mary oliver

Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Waste Your Life

 I love happy endings, fairytales and celebrations.  The following story shows how love, faith, and celebrating daily the small things make every day count.  How one woman ran the race set before her, persevering daily.

Around the time of Nella's ONEder Fund postings, Kelle Hampton wrote about an inspiring family that joined their birthday party, Libby Ryder.  Libby is married to a wonderful man, Justin, mother to beautiful Ava, learned she had cancer last July.  Libby began writing her story on a blog, became followed by many across the U.S., and last week she learned she was CANCER FREE!!!  She wrote about every treatment, every thought, every chemo, everything.  Her story resonated with many across the country and now a groupof runners, called Team Libby, are running a half-marathon in Nashville, Tennessee to share Libby's story, a woman they have never met. To share how she ran with reckless abandonment and perseverance the race set before her. 

Her story was written in their hometown newspaper Here. She continues to daily write her story, her thoughts, and her celebrations at Don't Waste Your Cancer or Your Life.

Check it out.  It's beautiful and Amazing!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Letter to Sarah

Dear Sweet Sarah,

       You are loved, you are cherished, and you have a family waiting for you, oceans away.  Today, all the paperwork we need has arrived in your country, waiting to be translated and submitted to court.  Our petition to let your country know we are waiting to come for you.  We've left no stone unturned in our quest to become your family.    Six months to the day we committed to you.    I can hardly believe the moment is here.  There have been challenges and miracles, paving the way on our journey to you.

      July 24, 2010, Our family went to dinner and began our conversation about adoption, special needs, and Down Syndrome.  Neither one of us knew whether it was a path we would take at that moment, but God did.

    August 24, 2010, we made a commitment to Reece's Rainbow, to our families, to God, and to you, Sarah, that we would do everything in our power to become your forever family.  We see you, as the beautiful little girl you are.  We see your potential to change the world, to make a difference.  We see.

   The next six months, we chased paper after paper that we needed to become your forever family.

    October 22, 2010, you turned 3, alone and in an orphanage.  You did not blow out candles, or eat birthday cake, nor open presents.  But, sweet Sarah, this will be  the last birthday you will ever spend alone.  In 2011, you will have the biggest, rockin', birthday bash extravaganza ever.  We will celebrate, we will rock the house out, we will laugh, and we will LOVE you.

    November 25, 2010, it was Thanksgiving in our country.  A time to give thanks, a time to count our blessings, a time to celebrate love, life, and family.  As our family circled before the meal, giving thanks, I thought how blessed we would be when you become a part of the rich traditions of our family, the legacy that began over 40 years ago. 

    December 28, 2010, we saw a modern-day burning bush miracle.  The journey thus far had its ups and downs, frustrations, joys, and excitement.  No matter how discouraged we got, a footprint was placed in our path to encourage us along.  Our burning bush was when we found a receipt dated July 24, 2010, the night our family began talking about adoption.  Sarah, our server's name that evening was SARAH, spelled exactly how we have chosen the name for you.  We didn't know whether this would be our path to take, our journey.  But, God did.

    February 11, 2011, we saw a modern-day parting of the Red Sea, another miracle.  We had been trying to get updates from USCIS (immigration), so that we could send our paperwork to your country.  This day, we received the most discouraging news ever.  It could be 45-60 days until we are approved.  If that held true, our paperwork would expire and we'd need to begin again.  We called, emailed, and posted pleas on Facebook all Friday evening.  Saturday morning at 10am, an email came from USCIS.  Not only had an officer been assigned to our case, but it was reviewed, and recommended for approval.  All within 8 hours!!! 

    February 19, 2011, we sent our dossier (all the paperwork we would need) over to your country and received a video of you from another Reece's Rainbow family.  How special to see you walking, dancing, and do your own thing at a celebration in your country.  You are so beautiful!!  We shared it with everyone we knew, to see the new blossom in our family garden.

    February 23, 2011, it arrived and is being translated for court.  Six months to the day when we committed to becoming your forever family.

    Sarah, you have a family anxiously waiting for your arrival.  Your grandparents are gathering gifts for you.  Your family is preparing your room, and your future brother and sister have been praying for you daily since September.  Sarah, we can only pray that it won't be too long before we see your face, see you smile like you did as a baby, to hold you, to kiss you, and to love and cherish you.

    For now, we wait, my Princess. Waiting for an invitation to travel the seas to meet you face-to-face.

    All my love

Andy's fortune from dinner this week...

You will soon emerge victorious from the maze you've been traveling in!

Soon, baby girl, soon....

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Precious Gift

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.
Sometimes we are moved, spoken to, and touched in the most unique places.  Saturday morning after our dossier was sent, I was in Hobby Lobby looking at wall decor and I stopped...I listened to the song playing...and my eyes welled up with tears.  I began crying.   Tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of happiness...all the frustration, the heartache, the excitement, the miracles we've experienced,  all the emotions of the past six months came flowing freely and released.  Our red thread to Sarah is inching closer than ever.

Sarah, from My Name is Sarah, was interviewed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.    Check out her story HERE.  She is our Sarah's namesake and  a common thread in our story.  She is showing the world that everyone can make a difference.   She's part of the One Million Pillowcase Challenge, donating them to families.  I printed her story off, and will be placing it in Sarah's keepsake box.  Her inspiration...

Lastly, Friday evening we received a most precious gift.  In September, a family sent us pictures of Sarah in a red tutu and we were so very grateful.  Friday evening, she could not remember if she sent us video of Sarah, and so she "resent" it.  So for you viewing pleasure, our Princess Sarah!!! (she's the one going "kerplunk" two times.  Graceful, like me:)

Thanks, Nance and Emma.  Filled with gratitude...

When you com to the edge of all the light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen:
  either there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly.

We're flying high in our home these days!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Beautiful Day

It is finished.  The dossier is sent.  It will be in Sarah's country Thursday and this is what almost six months of gathering looks like when complete.  AMAZING!!!

 Andy was up until 1am, proofreading and placing in the perfect order and today the kids went with him to send it off.  Even now, tears flood my eyes when I think of the ride we've been on to get us to this point. 

This past week was the biggest nail-biter of all as we anxiously awaited these last two papers.  Friday morning, Andy intercepted the last one at our post office, I met him at the bank to notarize it at lunch, and he had another drama episode at the county office. (of which, I almost fainted when he told me the story that evening:(  But, it is complete and we celebrated last evening at dinner.  Addy and Austin took turns with my camera.  They, too, understand that we'll be meeting her soon.

During his travels this week, Andy sent me this email:

Think Spring
…or maybe it’s better to think summer!
 I just submitted our  Pool registration for this year. Added one extra member to our family.

Made me smile to think she'll soon have her family.
I received an email from a fellow adoptive mom, VIDEO of our sweet girl.  HOW AMAZING is that!!! The night we finished our dossier, we received video of her.  Another God thing, I'm sure.  
That my friends is for another post, but a celebration indeed!!
Yes, my glass is always HALF FULL!!
Once the weekend hits, my dates are always off.  It should say 2-19-11:)
There are only two ways to live your life.  One as if nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though every day is a miracle.  Albert Einstein

We are proof that every day is a miracle...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Go BIG or GO home

We went BIG.  Friday, we hit rock bottom, so to speak, after we learned our case continued to be without an officer and it could be another month before approval.  Like chugging all the way up that first hill on a roller coaster, getting almost to the top, seeing the view,  and then the car rolls back to the starting gate:(  Between 3-5pm, we called in favors from as many people we knew with political ties to help us expedite our file.  Andy and I were up till midnight emailing congressman, senators, and posting pleas on Facebook for help from anyone with federal connections.  Saturday morning, friends were contacting everyone they knew and praying for our need.

We started early drafting more emails when at 9:51am on a SATURDAY, no less, an email showed up from USCIS.  An officer, not only was assigned, but reviewed our case and recommended us for approval within an 8 hour time frame.  We should have the very CHERISHED piece of paper in our hands shortly.

Astonishment filled our hearts, and we kept rereading so that we truly were understanding what it said, and not making assumptions.  Andy said,"Better call off the dogs..." so I posted an updated praise on Facebook.

We do not know how our status changed so quickly, nor do we care.  All we can do is thank everyone for their prayers, their calls, their help, and be filled with gratitude that we will soon see Sarah.

Kristen, this is for you, no socks:)
These feet will be traveling across the globe very soon to make a difference and change the world for one little girl.  What a joyous day that will be!!
Filled with gratitude...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Restless Souls

Restless Souls...the chapter title of a book I'm reading and could not have been more poignant to my state of mind this week.  So fitting, when I read it Wednesday evening.  There was even the word ADOPTION in the chapter.  That alone isn't special, but our restlessness had to deal with our adoption process, so for me it hit home.  Sorry, Grandma and Grandpa, I couldn't write until tonight.  I needed to breathe, to look at the small things, to celebrate little moments.

Surprising my kids at their Valentine Party.  Being a teacher, I am unable to visit their class parties.  Today, I used a personal half-day to attend.  They were surprised and excited.  Austin kept that lollipop throughout the party.  Every picture I have, it's in his hand.

You may enjoy the cold weather, Kristen from NC, but we are ready for a thaw and the SUN.  I wore my fun wellies today, in honor of Valentine's Day.  They make me so happy:)

Andy and Addy are off to the Second Grade Sock Hop.  In total honor of the 50's, they dressed the part, leather jacket and all!!!
Even Addy is licking a lollipop.  Betcha Sarah will follow the kids' lead!!!

Earlier, our friends traveled their own journey of faith to Boston.  Their daughter has spent the last 1 1/2 years in pain, seen numerous specialists, and tried many therapies.  The hospital in Boston has a 98% success rate for her diagnosis, so they traveled with many unanswered questions.  Many prayers traveled with them on their journey.  
Celebration, Praise, Tears of Joy:  she has been accepted into the program!!  Steve, Tracy, Janie and family, we are so excited for you on this journey of faith.  

On our adoption process, we've hit a wall.  USCIS received our paperwork in January, fingerprints are completed, and we still do not have an officer assigned to our case.  Every day we have called, we get an answer of 45-60 days or worse timelines.    We've called our congressman to help us and they received the same answer.  If it is 60 days, some of our paperwork will have expired.  So today, I reached my breaking point and needed to shed some tears.  
Had my meltdown, all better:)
Now GO BIG or GO HOME, and we ain't quitting.  Friends of ours put in personal calls to their political contacts, but we're lacking someone federal.  We've sent multiple emails to offices, and will continue to do so daily!! 

TIDBIT for INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS:  Andy did some research on USCIS(for my completely balanced husband, he's beyond frustrated!!).  They track their completion files and progress.  USCIS's goal is for a 2 1/2 month turn-around on processing files.  For us in the international adoption process, this information is vitally important.  Especially for countries who require dated signatures within a 6 month period.  

That puts us into mid-March and many of our dossier papers will expire, especially our medicals and tests.  We'd need to pay for them since insurance already paid for one set.  
So we are GOING BIG to get our file expedited as quickly as possible.  
If anyone has any other ideas, send them.  We are willing to try anything.  Thanks Lisa, for listening via email and ideas.  Already sent and called!!

RESTLESSNESS, put into place so we do not become complacent.   I pulled out the big guns and called my family in Florida to get their friends storming the heavens in prayer for our adoption.  My mother's wise words, "God doesn't leave us on the mountaintop for long because we'll forget to rely on him."  A few more days with the mountaintop high would have been good...

I'm just sayin'


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter Wonders

We've been a hibernatin' and lovin' wearin pajamas all day, crafting mailboxes, reading, playing games, baking... School was closed for two days because of Iceaggedan (thanks for the idea, Elizabeth!), and our power went out for around 8 hours through the night on Tuesday/Wednesday morning. 

Love the Target Dollar Aisle for great craft supplies and ideas.

Opening up the new Mousetrap game from Christmas, it took as long to play as to set-up!!!  Even though the heat turned on, they were still cold and wanted to wear their coats.

Love when I get emails from Grandma in Florida.  They make me so happy and I smile, envisioning them biking around their place, walking in the SUN, and listening to their everyday happenings in Florida. Here's a little snipet from Grandma:

Greetings from warm sunny Fla. (finally!)

Hi Shelly,  notice  my “Subject “ title?  ha!   From what we have been seeing on television and hearing from Jola,  the weather is downright nasty for all of  you up north.
However, I was looking at your blog this evening, and I really did enjoy the winter scenes. 
Grandpa and I went on a bike ride through the park this evening, and it was soooo nice out.  Today was a beautiful sunny day.  Grandpa was over at the pool. 
I think your dad went golfing.  He usually does on Wed.  Its Bible Study in the mornings, then the four of us go to Wendy’s and hardly ever spend over $3.00. ha!  
 Take care
Keep warm and good night.  Love you,  Grandpa and Grandma
 Another Wintry storm is bearing down on us today. Ice balls are falling from the sky.  

From our front porch this morning...

A pot of chili simmering on the stove, the fireplace going, and fun projects happenin'.  I found this cool headband idea from Little Miss Momma.  Very "shelly" proof and easy!!!

There are so many cool, crafty mama's sharing their ideas on the web, and we're all making a difference in our own way:)
Andy was a "Mystery Scientist" in Addy's class during Science Experiment Week.  He was a hit with the kids and teachers.  They loved it and he prepared for it like he does for his work presentations.  His comment, "They deserve my best, too!"  Love him!!  He is always making a difference in our kids' lives and other children.

On the adoption process, we are waiting for our "Golden Ticket" and then we'll send everything over to Sarah's country.  We've done everything, received everything, except for this piece.  We are all getting excited, and the kids are discussing what we need for when she comes home.  I've begun picking up a few things for her, guesstimating her size.  Have to do something:)    It won't be long now till we see her smile, her face...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice Walk

For my snowbird family in Florida and other warm places, wishing you were here...