What A Week

Sunrise-and-Clouds

Last Friday night we took a ginormous leap for our family and submitted our preliminary application for a baby girl that Kelley found out about through an organization that helps match parents with waiting children who have Down syndrome. You can read a little more about that here. Saturday morning we woke up with plans to go to Busch Gardens with some friends, excited to share the news of this baby girl. I looked out the second-floor window as I was getting some clothes for the kids and realized that our car was missing. I ran downstairs thinking maybe I’d parked it down the street and just forgot. I got outside to realize that indeed our family car had been stolen. We had both sets of keys in the house and our car was gone. Kelley and I both looked at each other because we had no words. I called the police. I called the insurance company. I called the bank. We texted some friends. And then I sent a message to a couple of friends of our who are police officers in our city.

I’ve really had to fight back being angry at this thief. I haven’t done a great job at it. What really got to me was what he took from our kids; their security and safety in our home. They felt fearful.  “Why would somebody do this,” they’d ask. We don’t know. But, what we can say is that when we let these things distract us — fear, worry, anger — specifically anger over replaceable, temporary things, those things begin to control the conversation. We knew we couldn’t let the gloomy story of our car getting stolen overshadow the beautiful, bright story unfolding with baby Adina.

All weekend we wanted to point the conversation to this little girl. Stay focused on praying for her. The police and others involved will take care of the car. We need to focus on Adina. We prayed for her all weekend that God’s presence would be tangible wherever Adina was. That she would feel God’s loving presence. That He would guide her caregivers, the nurses and doctors, and that this little girl would know she is loved and wanted, and we prayed that we’d hear from the agency on Monday.

Monday came and went with several automated responses from the agency. We were granted log in authorization and were able to view more pictures of this beautiful baby girl as well as her limited medical records. But, we never spoke with a live person and waited eagerly to hear specific news of Adina. We received several phone calls Tuesday. The first from our local agency office, calling to invite us to meet with them next week and they gave us an overview of the process. We were also given more forms to fill out. Later in the day Kelley received a call from someone on the ‘China 180’ team. She (enthusiastically) reviewed the information we already had and promised to be in touch with additional documents we needed to sign and return to her ASAP. Kelley and the kids were in the middle of a tea party when she was copied on an email sent to the ‘China 180′ team. In the email our intake coordinator shared that she’ d spoken with Kelley and that Adina was still available!

So what now? We passed the preliminary application and were invited to fill out the formal application (which will be completed in the next hour and submitted to the agency). There’s still lots to do and we’ll do our best to keep you updated here and on Twitter and Facebook. But what we want you to know is that the most important thing we ask of you is to pray, because prayer connects us to each other in ways that we can’t always know or perceive. Specifically, we are praying that her medical issues are stable until she can receive specialized care and that we can move through this process quickly, because if Adina is in fact the baby God has for us, we want to bring her home NOW. It’s painfully difficult to think that our baby is in another country and we can’t see her, talk to her, hold her, care for her…  So please pray!

We believe that the family is a picture of what it’s like to live with God – to be nurtured and cared for, provided for and protected by God. Our prayer is that every child has this. We are grateful for good families that loved us, loved each other and loved God. We don’t take that for granted. God has called us to define family as more than just biology and to open our arms and hearts, just as He did for us.

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The Ant Saga, Part V

He hasn’t come back. It’s Saturday today. A whole week has gone by without a word as to when he expects to come finish.

And to add a little cherry on top, a few days ago we discovered evidence of a mouse in our oven drawer. Will this ever end? I’m going to get a bag full of mouse traps and send the little varmint to his grave.

We’re in Raleigh for a few days and I’m hoping that we’ll come home to find a new backyard. Anybody wanna put odds on that?

The Ant Saga, Part IV

Alright, well… I guess we’re making progress but I’m a little put out.

The landlord came out on Sunday afternoon to clean up the yard. I told him what the exterminator said but he kinda scoffed at it. I don’t get the attitude really. I mean, this is his property that has gotten overrun with pests that both make it unsafe for his tenants and is causing physical damage to his property. This was an issue he should have taken up with his previous tenants. An issue that existed in the months between their leaving and our moving in. I don’t really understand why it didn’t get taken care of while he was trying to get the property rented. And now he’s gonna give me grief about trying to make it safe and habitable for my family?

He worked for about four hours and moved some branches to the street for pickup. But there’s still so much left. He said he’ll be back but it won’t be until later next week because he’s gotta go out of town for work. I don’t have a lot of faith that he’s coming back. I really need to find some teenagers who are looking for some Summer work and get this taken care of. It’s ridiculous to have a backyard that you can’t use and a perfectly good backyard playground that my kids can’t take advantage of because of the infestation.

But inside the house we’re continually fighting the ant battle. I mean, you’d think that ants would simply go away. But no. They keep showing up. And it’s not just one or two or five or twenty. It’s hundreds. Almost every other day at this point. It’s a little better than it was. We were having hundreds a day that we’d have to kill. Now it’s down to every other day. But it does no good to try to bomb their habitat in the backyard when the place is overgrown. It’s a harboring ground.

And in the past few weeks, I’ll bet we’ve killed over two thousand ants in almost every room of the house. The kitchen. The pantry. The dishwasher. The laundry. The living room. The dining room. The bathroom. Every bedroom. Closets. The only room that hasn’t seen them is the office and the stairwell. It’s absurd, really. It’s impossible to feel at home here right now.

I’m taking to Facebook to find some help.

The Ant Saga, Part II

So, as I mentioned previously, we are being invaded by the thing I fear the most – ants. I had a traumatic experience with ants on a vacation in the South and I’ve never been the same. The Orkin man showed up today and painted quite a grim picture. Because the backyard had been allowed to rule itself, it grew a vine that poked its way through the siding of our house under the kitchen window and, in the words of the Orkin man, became an “ant highway.” He told us the ants were probably all inside the walls of the house at this point. And what’s more is that the overgrowth has become a haven for ticks, mice, mosquitos, ants (obviously) and possibly even snakes.

This is ridiculous. There’s a beautiful playset out back (or at least I think there is) that we’d love to be able to let the kids play on but there’s no way on earth I’m sending them back there with all the other inhabitants. The Orkin man, Erik is his name, said he’d come back as soon as the backyard was cleared and he’d bomb it and we’d have no more problems with the little vermin. I called our landlord and reminded him of his commitment to get the yard in better shape, which still hasn’t happened. And made him aware that because the yard had gotten so out of control, now the house was infested with ants and the backyard was more than an eyesore, it is now a danger to my children. This was not what we’d shaken on and I need him to make good on his word.

Erik (the Orkin man) is scheduled to arrive on Thursday morning at 7AM to bomb the place and the backyard needs to be done by then. The landlord says he’s gonna try to find somebody. Wednesday is the 4th of July so I think it’s gonna be a challenge.

300 Miles to Go, Part I

Man, it’s been a long journey.

We started in August, talking about the idea of launching back out into full-time ministry. It’s been three years and I got really hurt last time. But we both knew the timing was right. I remember sitting on the couch at our house one evening and Kelley asking, “When do we consider this a real possibility?” I couldn’t believe she’d just said that. I’d been resistant before but the timing of her question couldn’t have been more divine.

For awhile I’d been feeling the tug to rejoin the path I’d left a few years back. I knew this could be a big risk. I kept thinking, “Not only is there the pain of past experiences but now I have a family that I’ll cast into this and only God knows where we’ll have to move.”

We talked off and on for the next few days about our options. I pulled out my resume. Added some new experiences to it and posted it to a couple of church job websites. Within a week we had half a dozen promising prospects.

Not a single one of them in Birmingham.

Before too long, three job options began to emerge that we wanted to pursue.

Seattle. Huntsville. North Carolina.

The one in Seattle seemed so exciting and we were convinced we’d be moving our family across the continent. That was a hard idea to stomach but it was a very electrifying prospect. They are a very large Christian resource publisher and I was being considered to write their training curriculum. A couple of interviews later and I received a gracious letter from them to let me know they had chosen another candidate.

We’d been talking (really emailing) the churches in Huntsville and North Carolina to try and setup conversations, possibly even visits if/when the timing was right. These emails and conversations went at a slow but rhythmically predictable pace. We had been at this with a goal of knowing where we’d be placed by Thanksgiving 2009. We had a couple of opportunities to visit with one church and spend an extended amount of time on the phone with the other and started to really get the sense that both of these places were involved in some really spectacular work.

All the while, we knew we needed to get our houses ready to sell (remember, Kelley bought a townhouse before we started dating and after we were married we began renting out). We’d asked a real estate agent we knew to help us sell the townhouse.

We got nowhere.

So, for our house we turned to our good friend, Social Networking. We posted on Craigslist, facebook, Oodle and our own personal website and by the afternoon we had record-interested buyers. We had the pitfalls of some scammers, too, causing us a little bit of chaos and aggravation. Thankfully, we were quickly able to squash them and keep moving ahead. We just knew that with the housing sales still in the crapper, we had to generate some quick interest that would stand out from the other houses on the market in our neighborhood and turn our house around fast.

As most of you may remember, during this time Rosie had been admitted to Children’s Hospital for more than a week, Christmas was only days away and the new year was quickly approaching. This was not a calm stretch of weeks for us. This Holiday season was a little bit busier than others in the past had been. Add to that the stress of not knowing where we’d live once we finally sold – or rented – or leased – our house.

Our plan was to move into the townhouse and live out of our luggage until we knew what direction we’d be heading with these job prospects. Sometime mid-January just before we were heading up for another visit with one of the prospective churches, we signed the lease to our house with the new family moving in February 1. As we were traveling, our agent called to tell us that someone was interested in purchasing our townhouse.

Guess when she wanted to close…

Yep. February 1.

There goes our plan for living at the townhouse. Looks like we’re piling in with Kelley’s folks. Gonna be a tight fit. But hey, saves us lots of money. Still living out of a suitcase, though.

In light of the way God seemed to be working things out, I laughingly told Kelley that I expected to hear from one or both of the churches on February 1.

Meanwhile, we ordered a POD to begin packing up our things to make room for the new family moving into our house. We submitted the order to have it delivered on Thursday. But sovereignly, early Tuesday morning, we were awakened to repeated rings of the doorbell. I threw on clothes and went to the door to find a large 16’ container being dropped off in our driveway. Earlier than we were prepared for but it would turn out in our favor, having two extra days for packing. It’s amazing how our 1500 square foot house fit into such a small space; and humbling to realize that all our earthly possessions are in a little box that is half the size of our garage.

After the final walk-through we said goodbye to the house of all our family memories to date. We were married at this house. We brought our babies home to this house. We celebrated Eli’s adoption here.

Birthdays. Baptisms. Lots of firsts.

It was hard to now see this house so empty after leaving us so full.

We said our farewells, recalled some fond memories and drove away. We needed some rest anyway. “There’s too much limbo in our lives right now. It’d be nice just to have some direction,” we constantly thought. A couple of days later we headed up to West Virginia for a few days of skiing.

Kelley and I finally got a chance to ski together. As we were taking the lift she said, “I wish we just had something concrete. Wish we could make some plans.” And I wished I could give her some answers.

But for now, there’s a long blue run down a snowy mountain calling our names.

We’d only been back to the condo a few minutes when the phone rang. This was it. Could this be the call we were waiting on? Could this be the answer to all our searching? After the conversation played out, we couldn’t have been more excited.

A little scared but really excited.