Saturday, December 27, 2008

A slice of our Christmas day...with "the girls"

12.27.08: This little video shows our girls (dogs) on Christmas day with their Stockings and their gifts. They're so sweet. When the tree goes up, and gifts are under it--they sniff around, cause they know there is a gift for them. But they don't touch it until Christmas day. I usually don't put their toys in their stocking until Christmas night, because I didn't want to tease them with them. But this year, I thought, why not..so when Dan brought home their new toys, I gathered them together to put them in the stockings..the girls went wild and thought they were going to get them right away. But as soon as I put them in their stockings they stopped whining and were totally fine. Until Christmas Morning..when Dan told them Santa had come. This video is of that time--we share with them every morning. They are such a joy. Enjoy...we do EVERY Year, we feel so very blessed.

Dreams Really Do Come True....

12.27.08:o I know so many have prayed for us--your prayers are being heard. And we are moving through our journey, in the perfect way--and it truly feels perfect. Where do I begin. Thankfully, we have video to document this amazing blessed holiday for our family. But, it's too personal and emotional to share here. But, I do want to share it from my heart to Izabella.

What a whirlwind Christmas this has been. Christmas Eve Day, as you know we applied for the Waiting Children Program the first of many blessings and then Christmas Eve, Dan got home later than expected (darn snow), so our nice home cooked dinner plan was scratched and we just got ready and rushed off to the 6pm Christmas Eve Candle Light Ceremony at HOPE.

Christmas Eve Service that moves me to tears--OK--every service moves me to tears...so this one was no different. It was especially moving--as the message was, "what a shame if we end our Christmas message in the manger with Jesus as a baby". His life was an amazing story of miracles and so they took us through the tombs, the Jewish temple, and even to the prisons of "Hanoi Hilton" (we have a parishioner at our church that was held captive and tortured for 7 years at the Hanoi Hilton) he told the story about how his faith and the fellowship with fellow prisoners, singing songs and praying together gave him the strength he needed to keep going. He even told how his captors relaxed their treatment of the prisoners during the Christmas holiday. It was extremely moving...and then ended at the foot of this amazing 30 ft Cross in our church! Tears just streamed down my face with the joy of knowing what an amazing gift He was to us--amazing. They sang one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Mary did you know..." Do you know that one--it's precious. They also sang a new song--I never heard before that talked about "hold on, he is coming" How poignant was that? They also fed my creative soul--by inviting a parishioner that is an artist. He paints with his fingers. And did a painting that evolved during the service. It he started with a simple black cross on a white canvas. The next time I looked--it was the face of Jesus! Oh my--it was moving. So...it was a beautiful service...I love our church. It so fills my soul. It reminds me of the church I miss so much, that I attended 3 times a week when I lived in California--called Maranatha Chapel, and we don't go regular enough. We need to work on that this next year.


Lisa's Dream Un-folds in the most perfect way--
Our plan was to go to GI (about a 4 hour drive), like we always do, Christmas Day afternoon, for dinner with Dan's family at 4pm. I love this tradition--cause it is like living out the song "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house we go"....it's a great way to spend our afternoon. We had one of the most beautiful Christmas day's...truly. We finished our tree gifts, called my mom while we opened our gifts from her--and when we hung up--I said, "Dan we forgot about our stockings." So, Dan put my stocking in front of me. After pulling out "two tubs of Body Butter-on my list" and "little white socks" also on my list, at the the bottom, in the toe of the stocking, was an itty-bitty, beautiful little blue box with a white ribbon. I had already gotten my "sparkly" so I was shocked to find another small box. I carefully opened it--and it was a beautiful Anglo box. When I opened it--it was a beautiful gold heart--with "IZABELLA" engraved on it. I was bawling, un-controllably-I couldn't speak. Tears streaming down my face, my heart was going 80 miles an hour, and my head was reeling. Then Dan says, what is it? (he was video taping this whole thing), so I told him what I saw. He said, "It's a birthstone heart!" I said with a puzzled look, "it is?", as I strain to see the stone, that I can't see it very well, as my eyes are so full with tears of joy. Then the meaning of this beautiful, so deeply thoughtful gift sinks in. Again, I can barely speak. And Dan says, "we can put her birthstone in there when we know what her birthday is"....my heart was in a puddle on the floor. Each year my husband buys me what we affectionately call a "sparkly". I'm not a big jewelry person, but I love wearing special jewelry he buys for me. It was his first gift to me when we were dating (a valentine heart necklace) and he melted my heart that day too--telling me "I had his heart forever". That moment was a memorable one for me, and one that endeared me to him even more--if that was possible.

So, when I put my list together--it was long before the agency merger, and I was feeling like maybe I'd never be a mom. So, my top of my list item, was that my "sparkly" this year would be a reminder that "I WILL BE A MOM SOMEDAY." So, this gift--oh my--I can't tell you how deeply moved I was. I don't ever remember feeling this way--maybe the day Dan asked me to marry him. But even this surpasses that day--which I never thought would be possible. I looked at him and said, "oh my gosh, how sweet is that...so, I guess dreams do really come true huh honey." Then, I just sat there and let the moment pour over me. It makes me cry to even write about it and I can't watch the video, it moves me to tears. I can wear it around my neck, near to my heart, it's a visual symbol that no matter how tough it gets, no matter what turns this journey takes, I will be a MOM, that there is a little girll, that's growing in my heart and has for over 35 years, her name is Izabella Danielle, we have not met her yet, but she lives half way around the world in the ancient country called China and we will meet her soon, in God's perfect timing. It's sooooo amazing. And the missing birthstone--is so perfect--as it is the place in my heart waiting for her to fill. It's beyond perfect.

Truly the best Christmas Ever! And only one to be surpassed by our first Christmas with her here with us. So, this Best Christmas Ever,very well could be our last Christmas as a couple without children, as one of my sweet friends so perfectly pointed out to me on Christmas afternoon. And if you had asked me that even a few weeks ago--I would never have dreamed that even a possibility.

We still have lots of decisions to make, lots of things to do, before she will be with us. But, this all gives me renewed strength and inspiration to continue on this journey of a lifetime.

God is good, God is soooo very Good.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Live Life Today...in all it's glory...don't wait another second....

12.24.08:

First, I want to share some sage advice from my friend Chris--she said, "Just live life today, in all it's glory, it is what life is all about..just do it and soak it all up! It will all be fine, better than fine." Thank you Chris...for your friendship and your wisdom.

I woke up this morning--made "yummy stickie buns" for Dan's work party, and settled in for my morning ritual coffee and catching up on blogs and emails. I was crusing through the tabs opened--and when I hit the one of which is the AWAA Waiting Children Application, my heart went a flutter and I got butterflys in my stomach. Mind you--I've had this tab/page open on my browser for weeks now--and visit it daily, researching the medical conditions and trying to decide what to do. So, this feeling was so strong, yup today is the day, that we complete this application and move forward. We had completed most of the questions, it was a matter of "when" we'd hit the submit button. So, we completed our application for the Waiting Children Program at AWAA today--Christmas eve day...It's in God's Hands once again and I am so happy for that. Well, it's always in His hands, but I mean, that we have done what He has layed on our hearts to do. And now, I have a lump in my throat and a joyful tear in my eye and a warm heart, in anticipation of what is in-store for us next on this very magical carpet ride--what a blessing this journey has been.

Merry Christmas Izabella. :) I pray someone is holding you, caring for you and protecting your health and well being. That you would know tonight--in your heart that a child was born in a distant land that we could come to call our Savior, the Son of God, Jesus Christ (that you would know his story--and that He too was adopted by his Earthly Father Joesph, just like you) and most of all that He is with you--and that you can be at peace in knowing that. And that He will guide you to the perfect place that He has prepared for you. That He will lay upon your heart that He did not create you to be abandoned, but that He has prepared a place for you as a result. And that you will know that place in His perfect time. That until then, He gives you great patience, strength and courage to hang in there. My precious one, I believe your soul knows many things we can not imagine--that you instinctively know that all will be ok--and that peace my little one is called the loving spirit of our God. God Bless you this Blessed night and every night until we meet. Love, Mom

Another Blessing....

12.24.08: I contacted our insurance company today to ask about medical coverage for our little Izabella and I just got the reply. My concern was it would be considered a pre-exisiting condition...but here is the reply...it's like music to my ears.

"THANK YOU FOR YOUR INQUIRY. PER YOUR BENEFITS PRE EXISTING EXCLUSION PERIODS DO NOT APPLY SO IT SHOULD NOT EFFECT OR LIMIT THE DEPENDENT'S COVERAGE AT ALL."

So, one more un-answered question answered in God's perfect way! Hee, Hee...:) God is so good!

Lisa

Monday, December 22, 2008

Making a Difference in the lives of people...

12.23.08: I am reminded tonight--after a very deep discussion with my husband--of the days when I was alone. Hoping to find someone to spend the rest of my life with, someone to build a family with. There were many, many times that I wondered if it would ever happen for me. I could always visualize things in my life--but there were times I used to think and confide with mom-that I couldn't see it happening, it scared me. So, I decided there and then, that I had to decide to do something else with my life incase that never did happen. I feared I would walk this precious life I had been given, and when it was the end of my walk, that there would be nothing left to say I had done with my walk. So, I decided, if there was one thing I'd like to leave behind, it would be to make a difference in peoples lives. Not any one organization, or in a formal way, just in my every day. Funny thing is, it is me that others made a difference in. Families from Vermont to NYC to North Carolina to Arkansas to California and Iowa, opened their homes and their lives to me on holidays, and on just an ordinary evening after work for dinner. I have spent more holidays with other families than with my own. But, I never felt very far from home. If I could I'd find a way to shout from the top of the tallest mountains and hope they'd all, each and everyone of them, how cherished they all are to me....but truly, even if I could, I don't know if there are words. So, after I met my sweet Danny, I realized I was really home, and I was safe, and that now, with all the beautiful lessons and love of those many, many friends and families, I could make a family of my own...and hopefully invite someone to my home..someone that needed a place to be loved and not alone. I think that time has come. And it trully is the biggest, and most amazing thing I will ever do in my life. I can't wait to get started. Every day that goes by, every step, I can visualize her in our lives. My head is whirling with all the things we'll do together, and share together. Thank-you God, you always knew my heart, and you have been preparing me for this moment all my life.

Whew--that was a dump from the deepest part of my heart...so it probably didn't make a lot of sense to anyone but myself. It's truly the best Christmas I've ever had--next to the Christmas we had nothing but handmade gifts as a child. :)--posted earlier. That one will always remain top of the list and precious. This one is at a whole different level.

Merry Christmas everyone--I truly wish everyone a deeply moving and touching Christmas.

* This post is dedicated to my sweet, sweet mom who has never left my side in this journey--who knows how to let go. And how to hold you so safe and tight at the same time--who never gives up on me--even when I doubt myself--and a special note to my dear friend Chris--who so wisely told me--to go for it--be alive--live life in all it's scarey moments and worries--it's means you're a live. Live it! Thank you for being there so solidly.You are wise beyond your years. And my friend Annette for the most amazing "girl time" I've had in a very long time--it was good for the soul--I can't wait for Izabella to meet you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It is "magical" how your heart knows the way...

12.19.08: Big "special needs" conference call today, I say "big" , but just as I say that--I realize it's just an informational meeting. The big part is to see if the information answers enough questions for us to make a decision and move on this program. If this is the plan for our family. I have to tell you--I get more and more inclined to do this everyday.This program has always peeked my interest--but never considered seriously, as we did not have a program available to us to pursue. So with the merger--it started our as an option to investigate that was new to us, like we thought a couple other options were too. But of late, it's more about how, it has been how God has laid on my heart that it's possible I have always been up to this task, that this is my destiny really. At 13 I decided I wanted to give a child a home, that wouldn't otherwise have a home and family--and said that as an alternative to having my own (bio kids). And it's clear to me--the kids without special needs in China will most certainly have homes. Or so I hope. Certainly the youngest ones-and in China being older and orphaned is a special need. What's perfect about SN program--as it relates to that profound teenage moment in my life--is that these kids just might never have a home, if it weren't for us. Now that's perfect to my heart. And, I've also realized--we have our own special need--that she too would be meeting--that of an older couple--wanting a family--and too old to have one. So...I think it's pretty neat. The perfect messing of two lives to make a perfect life for all. In our own definition of "perfect". We'll see how this journey unfolds God has a plan..that as you know, I am positive about...so..this magic carpet ride is pretty sweet...and I'm anxious to find out. AND we might even get some financial assistance if we do special needs vs. non-special needs through grants provided to families willing to adopt a special needs child. Which would be a blessing also-if we should be blessed with that kind of gift to our family.

Just FYI--I use the words "special need" but they call the program and the children "waiting children program" and waiting children.I like that terminology better. But, whatever the label, they are waiting and they are special.

AND a sweet thing--my friend has a daughter--who I never in my wildest dreams thought of as a special needs child that has a birth defect that is similar to one listed on the needs list for children in China. She is perfect in every way--trust me a true blessing. In corresponding with my dear friend, I realized that if a child with a medical complication has a family--obviously the medical need is addressed with available quality medical care immediately--so it's never labeled as such. It's only when the child was abandoned, sometimes because the parents couldn't provide the medical they needed--that the label is attached. My point is--there are millions of special needs people in our society--and we think of them and they lead very normal and often phenomenal lives as "normal" without any labels. For instance, my friends mother has a disease that's on the list ( a minor case of it yes ), but she's lived a full life without that label. I'm sure we can all think of may people in our lives that are similar. Or...am I just looking at life through rose colored glasses. If so, so be it...I like these glasses. There's enough reality to keep us in reality. Seen without a choice.

Blessings to all this holiday--we're seeing our share of blessing and are so deeply and profoundly appreciative for them all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Cause you have a big heart..."

12.18.08:My husband isn't much of a talker. Oh he loves to tell a good story, or will chat forever with someone about football. But he rarely talks much about what he feels. But the day I met my sweet Danny, I took one look in his eyes, just knew he had a heart of gold and was a salt of the earth kind of soul. I could tell what his heart is feeling without words. Mind you, this is the complete opposite of me. This is why we are so good for each other. In the over10 years of knowing him, I have learned to be quiet and still, a lot more. I have learned to keep my feelings to myself, until the time is perfect for sharing. I won't tell you I've learned practice this new found skill all the time, but, more than ever before in my life. On the other hand, I have taught him to open up more, especially to those you love and care about. To reach out to them, instead of sitting and waiting for them to call you. I've taught him to say "I love you" before he hangs up the phone with someone he loves. And as a way silly little thing I do, when I'm in need of hearing from him and his heart--I ask, "why do you love me?" And he tickles my soul and my heart with his answers.

After a long week of bad weather and only seeing him about 6 hours all week, I really needed to hang with him. Especially with our meeting tomorrow-I needed to be near him. But, he has to go to work at 2 am and the ice is the most treterous of all storms for snowplow operators. I worry all the time, but nights like tonight I worry a lot! So, after dinner he headed up to bed, I finished cleaning up the kitchen and made his lunch for tomorrow--and then headed up to hang with him. Normally, I don't like to bother him--cause if I go in the bedroom he wakes and there is precious little time to sleep, so I stay out. But I broke all the rules and went over and curled up with him. There are so many things I want to say. About the meeting tomorrow, about our decision, about our little Izabella, but something told me to be still. As we laid there, I prayed, and I thought of Izabella home with us, of the day we have her in our arms. This whole time, Dan's arms are wrapped around me so sweetly, I feel so safe. And I so want Izabella to feel his safe warm arms around her too. It's hard to explain his touch, his non-verbal way of telling you you're special. lI almost fell asleep. Dan rustled and I woke, and I said, "I love you so much." Of course he replied, "I love you too honey." Then I said, "Why do you love me?" I didn't ask because I didn't feel loved, I asked because I knew there was something really cool going on in his heart that I wanted to know. I wanted to hear it. He said, (and he's said this before) "Because you have a Big Heart." I said, "You do to, you just don't show it, but I knew it the day I met you. I even wrote it in my first love note I wrote to you after I met you."

This was special to me. It occured to me, with two big hearts like ours, it seems to me we can handle whatver little one God has planned for us. She doesn't have to be perfect, cause we aren't perfect either. She just needs to be ours and we need to be hers...forever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I-171H Renewed Today--Our 17th Month Anniversary

12.17.07: Today is our 17th Month LID (Log-in Date) Anniversary. For those of you who don't know what the Log-in Date is--it's the day our "Arndt Family Paperwork" arrived and posted rec'd by the China Center for Adoption Affairs Office in China. It's the day we truly became "paper pregnant". It's funny, cause I don't usually pay attention to the day of the month--but as you know from previous post--I've been especially aware of this month's anniversary day. Since I don't believe in conincidences, and I do believe God stirs my soul and focus' my attention when needed to things I need to pay attention to. I believe this was all meant to be. Cause you see--on January 3, 2009 our I-171H (Advanced Adoption Petition to Adopt Approval) we applied for and was approved for 18 months ago will expire. Therefore, we have to re-apply for a renewal of this document every 18 months. Without we could not accept a referral of a child. So..it's a huge deal. We also had to renew our fingerprint clearance first and get approval for that--then comes the I-171H. So, this is my anniversary to patiently waiting gift. It's a relief. Thank you GOD!

Can I also say--"I am so happy with our New Agency". I loved GOL and still do. But this new agency has been responsive, helpful and timely in all correspondence. I can't thank them enough. What I thought could be a very scary move--has turned into a huge blessing.

Thank you again to all those friends and family that continue to offer us up for prayer. Today is our agencies Wednesday Prayer Meeting Day. And I know there are families out there that prayed just last night for our family. It's special beyond words.

Izabella--the journey continues. Hold on--we're doing all we can. I pray you are safe, feeling the touch of someone who cares, and are warm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simple, but so true...

12.16.08: My post today comes from a woman in our Yahoo July 07 LIDr's Group. I love it...and it sums up how I'm feeling right now.

"It's not the ticket that I purchased, but it's the trip I'm going to take."


Yes, I will. And willingly so. God has blessed me over and over again and sometimes with things and a path I wasn't sure was going to work out. So why shouldn't I take it and go with it?

PS--there is a conference call for our GOL families that just merged over to AWAA on Wednesday. Apparently there is lots of interest and they want to get all the questions answered in a group setting as much as possible. So we'll see what comes of this. I'm anxious to know more about it. Still no family coordinator meeting set up--but this too is in God's time. So when it happens it will be perfect timing..I'm sure of it. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 15, 2008

12.15.08: Just two days now to our 17th month of waiting--and this was posted to our agency web blog, by another waiting mom. It was so perfect--I wanted to share:

She says: God knows the struggles of my heart and His timing is always perfect (I have said this a million times in our blog--lisa). It's about waiting on God's promises and the things you can do while you wait.

"There is a great lesson that comes to those who have spent the good part of a lifetime waiting. Sometimes you have all your papers and necessary credentials, you are in exactly the right line at exactly the right time, but you still have to wait. An agonizing wait. An I-wonder-if-I'm-in-the-right-line wait. A much longer wait than you had expected. All the time, you may be in the right place facing the right direction, but it's not your turn yet."—Wallflowers Dance, by Angela Thomas

Blessings--and praying for patience while God shows us the way to His Perfect Timing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My girls are so sweet...


12.14.08: Only the dog lovers out there will appreciate this post. Our girls continue to give us the most amazing unconditional love. And they teach us daily the meaning of that. It's something you can't describe until you experience it. Every day they do things that are funny, cute, sweet and down right funny sometimes. We love every minute. Yesterday morning--we were reading the morning paper and enjoying a cup of coffee when our oldest, and talker (Montana the one on the right) let us know-she always gets a "chew bone" when we do this. So, Dad gave in and got them one. this is a ritual of sorts. So I wanted to post it, as our girls are getting old, and lately I worry they won't be around much longer. Every moment is precious...and this one is one of those. They tails waggin' go and laydown on the kitchen rug..side-by-side and happily chew. I love how they are so good together, no fighting, no food wars...nothing. They will often sleep on top of each other even. Poor Montana gets the worse end of that deal. I have a hard time capturing those times, as if I get up to get the camera, they wake up and move..and it's all over. So, these pics show a couple things I love. One is my Montana's pretty "graying" face. A few years back she had a complete liver colored face, then she started to get gray over her eyes, I said she had "eye shadow", now she has a "full face foundation" on. I love the little look on her face...it's so her. Hard to capture that face. And then, I love, love, love the way she holds her bone with those little paws. Too cute. And the funniest part--is typical Sadie fashion--nothing disturbs her--she just keeps chewin', and chewin'...Enjoy...we do..everyday. I hope they live long enough to meet and be friends with our Izabella. She would be so blessed to know them--and them her.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Speaks of my heart..."Merry Christmas"

12:12.08: OK..I've posted more today than I have in months. Another dear new friend had this on her blog and I had to share it here. It's in perfect harmony with my last few posts and exactly where my heart is.
First--watch this introduction by Brad Avery of Third Day (the adoptive dad and songwriter)introduce this touching song he wrote called "Merry Christmas". He explains how he wrote this to capture the feelings that go with knowing there is a little girl that you have made a home for in your heart--out there somewhere--and you can't see, know or hold her yet. It's beautiful and speaks to my heart in a way that I find impossibly perfect.



Then watch his song here.

But, insert our faces, insert montana and sadie where they have children (yes our dogs have their own stockings and Santa does visit them each year--he loves their orphan souls too), our families, and our Izabella where ever she is--and you have our story this Christmas. Merry Christmas Izabella--whereever you are.

Gifts..they come in all shapes and sizes...

12.12.08: I love Christmas--we share so many memories and reflect on the past year and in some cases the past YEARS gone by. The economy forces us to see things in such a different way. I just got off the phone with my mom--I love her so dearly--as you probably all know by now--I talk about her so much. But we were visiting about Christmas, she's wanted me to know there is a package coming and to look for it. We won't be together for Christmas. I've only had a handful of Christmas' with my extended family since i left home to start out on my own for college in 1977. So sending a box full of gifts to my family is a ritual of sorts. I actually got mine in the mail EARLY this year--no express postage--see the economy changes how we look at things and how we DO things. :) In the end, we had a beautiful conversation--I reminded her she didn't need to send gifts..ok, but her gifts are often my most meaningful ones...so I love them..just didn't want her to spend money she doesn't have on anything. I shared with her the Christmas Memories post from earlier, and she shared how all of us refer to that Christmas as the best Christmas ever. And that we all LOVE Christmas and it's not the gifts part for any of us. I told her--how ironic--the trauma of Christmas for you as a child--you have managed to turn into the best time of year for all of us. Now that's "breaking the chain" if I ever saw it. Funny thing--until today--I don't think she got it--that it's not about the gifts. That's her lesson to us--we learned it. Now it was her turn. She said, "ok, I get it...we'll start that next year." I love it! I love her!

In a conversation about this very topic with a new and very wise friend--I had some thoughts about this subject I wanted to share and again save for Izabella.

My mom always said--my kids are happier playing with the pots and pans out of my cupboard as they are all the toys in their toy box. And she was so right. I remember mom used to give us the Sears and Roebuck Catalog and tell us to circle the things we wanted most and put our names next to it. I can so clearly see that marked up copy with all our circles and carefully pen-ed names throughout. As promised, we always got "just one" of the items we wanted. And I always remember thinking it looked "way cooler" when it was a dream and in the catalog--than when we got it for "real" under the tree. It was the gifts that we could use together--like the HUGE toboggan my grandmother got for us one year. I can still see it standing there in the corner by the tree on Christmas morning and we have so many incredible memories of using it--all four of us could ride on it together down our big hill out back. And we'd take turns who had to "go in the front" and get snow in the face! The ones behind hid our faces from the flying snow behind the person in front of us. My dad actually put a stiff hitch on it--so we could pull it behind the snow machine, and we used it to haul wood to heat our home.

Sounds like a 60's/70's style little house on the prairie-it was of sorts. But, I think we often under estimate the ability of our children to want and need the "together-ness" toys. We start to believe the commercials and the media in all it's hype of the latest craze. All kids really want is to have fun--open a few fun gifts--and spend the day doing things together. I know it's different these days--with all the technology and the way kids are so flooded with all the "things". But, we didn't have much as kids, and honestly, I never remember feeling that way. I always thought there were people much worse off than us. And that was true. I

Surely kids understand how to make something beautiful out of nothing. Funny thing is--I think they're actually naturally that way. It's adulthood that transforms us. I think sometimes it's our own guilt about making sure our kids have everything that causes more upset than anything. Don't get me wrong. There were lots of things other kids had that I didn't--but I was able to get a job and work to pay for those things myself. Sometimes, I thought it wasn't fair that others got those things given to them. And when I told my mom that--she said, "You say that now, but wait til you grow up, you'll be glad you had to earn your way." AND walla--she was so right.

This post is dedicated to my new friend Kelly who inspires me and touches me with her heart felt love, compassion and concern for all who encounter her, including abandoned and injured animals.

A Christmas Story Inspired Moment....

12:12:08--I rec'd an email from our agency today and I was moved by it to write this:
Here is the verse that was in that email:

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.”

—Luke 1: 39-49


It is simply beautiful and very poignant for where we are right now. Many say that Christmas is a hard time to be waiting. For me—it’s a comforting time. The air is full of the “magic” of the holy spirit, the volume love and prayers, fellowship and worship is over the top, and that always summons a powerful air around the world (I wish it was like this all year!), and all those important things we need to focus on come home—like “believe—have faith”, and “forgiveness—it’s a new day” and “sacrafice and giving”. I could go on and on. So at this time of “just believe” I say—rejoice! He will provide. You only need to look, ask for his guidance and pay attention to what he lays on your heart and in front of you.

As you all know we are new to the AWAA family and feel very much like we were lead there by the Lord. With that comes our new challenges and decisions. Like most families adopting--no matter the program or country--we started this journey 2 years ago to start our family (although for me it is a lifetime journey from the day I understood at the young age of 13 that there were children in the world that needed homes—I knew I wanted to make a home for one of them someday). We have been patiently waiting and thoroughly enjoying this journey—even with the extended wait time—we saw it as an opportunity to prepare for our child—prepare our marriage—our home—our work lives for the addition of this precious child. However, a couple weeks before the merger happened we started to feel a stirring of restlessness (similar to what Mary feeling Jesus stirring in her womb), one we couldn’t explain. I just knew I needed to be doing something, something to move us closer to building our family. Yet, what? What could we do—I’d already asked about all our options and we were right where we should be—but I’ll ask again. So I called Beth at GOL—and visited with her again about our options--seeked her guidance on a couple things. She couldn’t tell me anything at the time—but she assured me God had a plan and it would all be ok. And in fact, God was preparing us for the next section of our journey—just a few short 5 days later, we rec’d the news that our beautiful GOL would be merging with AWAA. The opportunities that opened up for us are such a gift. (Thank you GOL and AWAA for taking such good care of us). I sensed a change in our journey—still do. But don’t know what that should be. We have been in prayer for guidance about this. We are considering several options—and can’t wait to meet with our new AWAA family coordinator to discuss all of them and get her valuable input and guidance at our first family meeting. But as we approach that meeting—I pray and would ask anyone reading this blog to pray--That God would guide us and show us the right decision. That we would make the decision that is “HIS” perfect plan, in “HIS” perfect timing—not ours. That He grant us the wisdom to know what is His will. And that He grant us the courage and strength to pursue whatever avenue He has chosen.

Thank you in advance for your prayer--I’m sure it’s not a unique prayer—there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of families needing that very same prayer. Anytime anyone takes the time out of their busy, busy day to offer up a prayer for anyone is such a precious gift. A truly precious one. That alone is comforting. Thank you.

And may the spirit of Christmas move your heart, and rock your world to amazing new levels!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's a new look...

12.10.08: It's time for a face lift on our blog. It's been just one week shy of 17 months of waiting since our Log-in-Date and as you know from previous post, our magic carpet ride made a few swoops and swishes of late. All is good, all is going to be just fine...just as it should be. All kinds of things are flying around us, opportunities we didn't know existed and some we did and didn't know were available to us. God sure is working hard for us out there. And all our friends prayers are working overtime too. So, tonight I was compelled to give our blog a little swoosh, swish change. And, I finally figured out how to create my own blog designs. So I'm going to try my hand at that next. I'd love to start a little blog design studio--as a fundraiser for our adoption. Some of the options available to us will require some serious funds. And this is something I've been contemplating for awhile. My design studio mission and tagline is "meaningful design" and this little fundraiser would maintain that consistent design mission. Who knows what it will bring. Or if I can even pull it off. But today's facelift was the first step. Happy Days! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our AWAA Paperwork signed and off via Fedex

12.9.08--We signed the paperwork and sent it off to AWAA yesterday (12.08.08). Next step is our meeting with our new family coordinator. In the meantime, Dan and I are still discussing and considering the options. I want you all to know--I am much more at peace with it all. In essence, without getting into too much detail. I don't believe this merger was a coincidence-I don't believe in conincidence--everything is part of God's master plan for us. And that in this merger lies the answer to how we will grow our family. We just need to move through this process with love and thoughtful consideration and much prayer for direction. I know it will be ok. So, we'll await our next meeting with much prayer for answers and guidance. Thank you for all you out there that I know have prayed for us. I can't tell you how much that means to me. And how much it makes a difference in our lives--everyday.

Christmas Memories

12.9.08--I was emailed a story today from a friend, of a single mom with 7 children. I forwarded it along to some of my close friends and was compelled to share my own story that was similar. So I thought I"d post this for Izabella.

I know we all have experienced hard times or been very sad at Christmas time, for one reason or another. Me too. But, I have to say, the hard times often bring us the most JOY. My own mother was raised by a single mom from age 9, the oldest of 6 she never really had a chance to be a kid, she was too busy helping her mom care for her 5 younger siblings. Her father died at age 9, leaving her mother to raise, her and 5 siblings between age 9 and 2. I don’t remember my mom sharing a traditional Christmas memory. So one day I asked her. She would only say “the fire department” brought our Christmas gifts Lisa. This explained why she tried so hard to be sure we had a wonderful Christmas. She created some traditions that are just ours and will always be our family treasures. Including one Christmas we will all remember for ever and is SO VERY DEAR to us. It was 1965, I was 6, my brother 7, my sister was 4. Dad was a Vermont State Trooper and Mom was a secretary. We had a warm home, a VW bus van and a dog “Gerty”. It really was a good time, but I guess we didn’t have any extra. So Christmas was going to be well—handmade. We went to bed Christmas eve with our letter to Santa, cookies and all. In the wee hours of the morning, I heard something down stairs, thinking it was Santa, I had to go check it out. So I creeped down the stairs, into the living room, no Santa, then I peered into the dining room, and there at the dining room table sat my Dad, folding paper airplanes! Wow, that’s cool! There had to be 100 of them on that table! Un-Discovered, I headed back to bed. The next morning, there was a bike my dad had refurbished a used bike into a shiny new one for my brother, along with the 100+ paper airplanes. There was a little table, he had built and painted with a marble formica top, with brown carefully painted trim and the coolest little stool type chairs that he had designed himself. On the little table was two placemats, designed by my mom with artex fabric paint—one said “Lisa” the other said “Shelly”. Under the tree were gifts that were wrapped. They were all handmade. My mom had taken old coffee cans and painted them with fun drawings on the side—and when we asked what they were for, she said, “it’s like getting new toys, these cans will hold all the toys that you already have, and never play with that are at the bottom of your toy box. Now you’ll have them to play with if you put them in these cans.”

I had to share this story with you. Cause it was and continues to be the best Christmas my family ever had. My parents gave us the gift of Family. It was my parents battle cry of sorts, “family is everything!”, that Christmas we learned, if you have each other, it’s all you need—that and a little ingeniuity. :) Christmas to this day has never been about the gifts. And it’s always a struggle to write a list of things I want for Christmas. I never need anything...I have so much to be thankful for. Each year, I receive one gift that moves me to tears. It’s always a gift that was handmade or holds special meaning. Now that gift I always anxiously await.

Happy Holidays to everyone. I bet you can all guess what was on my list this year. A family of my own--to build and make Christmas memories with. Dan and I have traditions of our own. But, every Christmas--although it does not dominate my day--I am so grateful to have Dan and our ever loving girls (monatna and sadie)--I so wish we had a child in our family. So, anything to do with her--would rock my world. I know Santa can't bring her to me on Christmas Morning. But I know that Miracles happen because Christ was born, and it's a time to believe in the magic of his birth and that we all feel so much during this very special holiday. So, with that said, I pray everyone experiences whatever miracles "big or small" in their lives that go beyond a package, somewhere deep in their heart. And that our hearts are open enough to recognize and appreciate them when they happen.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I just don't know anymore....

11.19.08: My heart is up in my throat, tears are on the verge of dropping, and I'm lost. I pray, and pray and will continue to pray. I am trying to leave this at the feet of the God that has been so good to me. I hesitated to write this-I don't want everyone to worry about me. Really. But I wanted to post my heart this morning for Izabella. I want her to know how much I want to find her, the one that is meant for our family. But today--a day after our conference call with both agencies--I'm struggling. What do we do? I so want it to be the right thing--the decision that is from God and what is so perfect. Even if it's not the most perfect for everyone else, I just want it to be our perfect. That it follows our plan, the one that's in our hearts. Heck, I'm even doubting whether we should have started this journey--it feels so uncertain right now. All along this journey so far, I've had such confidence and faith that it would all just happen, the way it should, all we had to do was hold on to the edges of this beautiful magic carpet, and do our part to get things done that must be done. It was such a beautiful place, even in it's immense uncertainty. But now--I'm just don't know anymore. What path do we take? Of course we don't know what the paths are yet--we've still to have our meeting with or family coordinator--to access those options. And God knows I don't understand all that's involved in any of the options in front of us. So maybe that's where the lost is. I need more information from people I can trust. I almost feel like we're at the beginning of this journey--deciding which way to go to grow our family. Or if growing our family is not for us. OK--I'm sure all this sounds skitso (is that a word)? But it's how I'm feeling. I went to bed last night and like always--prayed for Izabella, I see her sweet face in my mind and fall to sleep. But, as clear as her face is in my mind and my heart, I don't for the life of me right now know how to find her. God, please help me. I pray for your infiniate wisdom and guidance.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is it possible.....

11.14.08: Is it possible the date my heart told me something would happen for us and our Izabella could be our time? I have always felt July of 2009 was a date that would change our lives on this journey. Now as I do the math, it seems IF (and I say IF) we switch to the SN program, and the timelines for an SN referral hold true, we could have a referral next summer--July 2009.

And as long as I'm dreaming...which as a cautious waiting mom--I don't let myself do this often, especially with the uncertainty of the China Program of late--but, is it possible my little sister, Shelly, one of two women in my life I treasure more than any other and her husband, Christopher, would be here for that event? They visit every July for the 4th. As fate (God) would have it--she was with us when the call came in that we were "Logged-in"! We were shopping at Wal-Mart and my phone rang. If I remember right we were eye-ing the Double Blueberry Muffin Mix. It was a milestone for sure--and one I was so grateful to have her here with me to share. God willing, she might be with me on referral day too! I don't want to get ahead of myself, but, I wanted to share these thoughts this morning before I start my day.

As I contemplate that possiblility--it shifts my attention to all the work we still have to do to prepare for her. We need to finance this adoption--in a bad economy--I have some ideas about how to manage my Studio business when she gets here--but I need to get a more detailed plan together. Those two things are the biggies--I might be missing something--but if I can manage those things--all the other stuff will fall in place.

Only God knows. Until then--we continue to prepare our hearts, our marriage, our home, our lives. We continue to pray that Izabella is safe, warm and strong, that someone is there to hold her, even for just a moment each day, that she feels in her heart that feeling that we have, that her day will come, and she will be with us--just as it should be. We continue to look forward to the Joy, Laughter and Love she'll touch our lives with. We just plain HOPE for a new day and appreciate today.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This magic carpet ride shifts gears and takes a turn....

11.13.08: Dear Izabella: I've been restless and had a hard time concentrating on anything. Seems our magic carpet ride to you, was changing without knowing. And would prove to be just the beginnings of a stirring of my soul--that often happens before something happens in my life. Last week, I was so distracted, I even called our agency and talked to Beth. My restlessness needed assurance and some informed counsel. Beth our CW and Agency Program Coordinator is always so good for great advice and counsel. She knows Dan and I--sometimes I think better than our own family knows us. I asked her about other countries we might qualify for, if this wait for China doesn't get better, I asked her about India--it's a program I researched and discovered we qualified age limit wise and one that intrigued me and stirred my heart in way that is not explained in words--but it was not a program offered by our agency. She didn't know a lot about India. I asked about Guatemala--not available at the time. I also asked if they had a sister company we could go to. She was so wonderfully supportive--and told me that the agency was working on something that would open up other opportunities for the GOL families. She said more information would be coming soon, within the next couple months. Well, today my dear Izabella we got a letter. GOL is merging with America World Adoptions out of McLean VA, and all China Program family contracts are moving to the McLean Office to finish our journey to you. This news was bitter sweet, as it's good as opportunities are opening up that GOD willing will lead us to you, but it means we will leave the comfort of the beautiful and so confident hands of GOL and our Beth. That bought tears to my heart...so very sad...what will I do with out Beth? She has been with us since DAY 1. Which was years before we actually got to the application to GOL. So, your Dad and I talked about it, we cried...for the loss of something we knew, and we had grown to love...and we were scared, our magic carpet ride just got a new driver. And it's a complete stranger...or is it? We were so blessed with the wonderful care of GOL, and now, as God would have it, we are now in the hands of complete strangers, half way across the country, that we probably would never meet. How will it work, what will happen? Your Grammy says, "it will be fine, you'll get to know them. Beth wouldn't let you go with someone not good for you." She is right. But it's such a big thing, finding you, bring you home, we were so careful. OK--deep breath--God has a way--ALWAYS--telling me, in little ways, like little winks, that it's all ok...and we're on the right path. Several have happened in the short 2 hours since opening that letter. One is, I headed to the store for milk, when I returned, your Dad was watching a new channel, commercial free, and guess what was on...a group of people were making a trip around the world, and the episode on they were in India. India my dear, is a program that our new agency is just developing--not many agencies have this program, so perhaps this is where you are..are you in India? Then, it occured to me, that maybe, just maybe one of the families in our sweet loving group of July LID'r was with this new agency--and maybe, just maybe, we'd be traveling with them...after dinner, I jumped on line to check the database--and scrolled away...as I scrolled it was like looking for hope....and you won't believe it, but there IS A FAMILY in our group, NOT just one FAMILY there are 3 FAMILIES. OH my and God would have it, they are 3 of the sweetest most wonderful families. And ones that I God has given me to prepare me for this moment. It's so obvious to me, that he has truly done what I have been saying all along, preparing us, every single day, every step of the way...AND as God would have it, his last wink is that one of the families that is with our NEW Agency--just got their referral to their daughter Caroline approval to adopt TODAY. Yes TODAY. I couldn't make up all this amazing work of God. The other family is by far one of my favorites, they are so much like Dan and I and she is so fun, I just love watching their family do LIFE, her blog has brought me so much joy and hope and inspiration. AND they too have been referred to their second child (their first child is from China adopted a couple years ago) and it's a BOY--they named Aaron. They are waiting approval to adopt from China--then they too will be traveling. AND finally, a family with 4 boys, they wanted a girl, they are the family with the same LID date as ours--which I felt bonded to from the start of the group--our journey--and she is an inspiration to me. All of them are such faithful christian women, who have taught me so much along this journey, so strong, so wise, so full of life, so compassionate. I watched them move to the SN program and go to China and bring home their sweet little Maggie, while we waited, she gave me hope. I had wished we had the options available through their agency. And now, my dear, our beautiful God has made those options available to us. Are you out there now, with a special need that we can take care of for you? I don't know the answer to those questions. But I can promise you, we will figure it out my sweet little brown eyed girl. We'll find you, wherever you are, and I know when I see you if it is you..if it is you that is meant to be with us..and if not, I will know that too... Hang on, be strong, have faith, our day will come. God would not abandon you or us on this journey of good and love and life. He would not. This I am sure of. I love you Izabella Danielle. Your mom, finding her way to you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Utah vs AFA Game--9.20.08



9.20.08: I have to post this movie I made for my nephew. Dan and I went to see him play for the AFA Falcon in mid September. We are so proud of him. Unfortunately, as we were driving there--he called to tell us he wouldn't be playing, his coaches benched him because of a shoulder injury--so he'd have to have surgery on it the following week. But of course we went anyway. We wanted to see him, and we had a great time. He's a great host, and the experience of a AFA football game is like no other college game I've ever attended. It moves you in ways you never knew. It always strikes me when we go there--these are the future leaders of our country. It's so special. This is my favorite shot of the day--it's my nephew driving us around the base/campus, with his Uncle (and what he loves to tell everyone--his God Father) Dan. He's such a great kid.

Enjoy--it's posted on YouTube at this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrRQ73f88ko

My dogs are spoiled...




10.5.08: Izabella, your Cousin Katie--who can't wait to meet you, stopped by on her way to Colordado to start a new life. She didn't go half way around the world, but she did go 1/2 way across our country. And she's starting a new life...we're so excited for her. She stayed with us a few days, she took a ride with Uncle Dan on a Harley Motorcycle, she spent a day using my camera with a Macro Lens (her favorite kind of shots--close ups), we went shopping, we set up a computer for her to work with me at my studio, we went for a Dairy Queen soft serve (we call them creme's back East).So, as you can see from these photos, our dogs are little beggers. But they're polite beggers. :) They love to lick off the cone--Dan started this bad habit on our first date--with Montana. I loved it then--a guy that will share his cone with my dog is alright with me.

Iowa State vs. Nebraska Game





10.20.08: This is a late post. But we had such a great time. I wanted to share a couple pictures. AND hey our HUSKERS won too! It was a great game, but it was so much fun to spend time with our firends (and reference families for or adoption) Shayna and Matt. They are so dear to us--we treasure our time with them.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Millions Spoke..and the light of American Shined Bright Again...

11.8.08:I haven't gotten into politics on my blog much--don't want to offend anyone. I believe everyone has a right to feel the way they do. But this is a time in our history, in Izabella's history, that I don't want her to not know. So I want share with her my heart on this historic time in our country.

I am a proud decendant of President John Adams, and President John Quincy Adams. I remember the day my grandmother discoved this in her geneology research. I was so very proud. . Life in America has been less than desirable of late. In fact to put it bluntly, it's been rather embarrassing at times. No matter your religion, or your political party, or the color of your skin, let's face it we have not been at our best lately. Listening to President Bush during both the 2000 and 2004 elections (and I'm a political junkie of sorts..not just this year..always have been), I remember his promises, and his promises scared me. Especially his willingness to go to war. Funny thing is, that is the very reason most folks voted for him, only they called in "tough on security--keeping us safe". I didn't like what he said then, and I knew in the deepest part of my heart, he would lead us down a very scarey path. Those that know me...know this. I told them, I begged them to not vote for him. But, that's what democracy is all about, and I really had no choice but to see it through. Hoping that our founding fathers had put enough checks and balances in place to keep him in check to some degree, so we wouldn't completely lose. But I have to tell you, my heart drops when I see we've lost almost 1/2 million jobs in 6 months and they say we'll lose another 1/2 million before the end of the year! I can't imagine what all those families are doing right now. I cry and my heart breaks everytime our boys go off to war, I have so much respect for them, but my heart bleeds for them that we couldn't find a peaceful way to conduct ourselves that wouldn't require sending them in harms way. I have 4 nephews in the military right now, they make me so proud.

But this week, I witnessed what was the most amazing event. It was 2 years of hard work, and movement that rose from the grass roots of our country. I am so proud of our country. That we can have two parties that disagree and after it's over not kill each other, we actually come together. What a shining light that is for other courntries to follow, not just in electrions but in living day to day with those you don't agree with on all things.
OK, I cried, immediately after I was in shock, and holding my breath thinking it wasn't true, that maybe like last year the networks made a mistake...when they announce our next president would be Barak Obama. I wasn't crying because he was the first black president, I was crying because we finally had a young, thoughful, careful, compssionate, alive, passionate, articulate, and intelligent person running our country. We need that so badly. A leader that wants to bring people together, all the best minds, no matter their party, race or religion. We needed someone that would make all those really smart americans out there working in the private industry to WANT use their skills to serve our country! Thank God.

But I have to go one step further--this week I was speaking with our agency about our paperwork renewal and the status of the China Program. My heart tells me we're on the right path, but at the same time, I feel a need to keep our eyes open on this journey--my faith is HUGE, but I can not hear if I don't ask questions. While chatting with her, she pointed out, the state of international adoptions really mirrors our standing internationally as a country. Of course. She didn't go into detail. Just made the observation--in the hopes to give me "HOPE" that with our new president--our relationships with other countries would improve and hence our journey would pick up the pace. I can only "HOPE". But it drives home for me, how very much we're all intangled together. This election hits home for me in so many ways--some I didn't realize. Restoring our standing around the world effects how "safe" we'll be, enables us to talk instead of going to war, and yes, it just might bring our Izabella home sooner.

One final note. Dan and I went to dinner tonight and then browsed through Best Buy. I was standing in a narrow aisle looking at the "Wii" games, when a family crowded politely by me. They stopped to talk a minute--when this little girl stopped in front of me and turned to her father and begged for a "cookin mama" Wii game. She spoke a foreign language at first, it was so sweet, then she spoke the most beautiful english. To make a long story short, I engaged in a conversation with them. They were Muslim, from Pakistan, had been in the US just 1.5 years, and were very happy to be here. I asked them about the election. They said they couldn't vote, but that they had made phone calls for Obama's campaign and that they were planning on voting in the next election, by then they hoped to be citizens of the US. I think they were as proud of our country as I was. As we talked, the little girl (9 years old mind you), said, "We hope this new president will bring world peace. Cause it's not good that people are killing other people. That's not right." She went on to share, similar comments over the next 10 minutes or so. I wondered, how did this 9 year old get to be so wise, and learn such good english in just 1.5 years in the US? She was so very bright. Her father said she'd be bored with the "cookin mama" game before the end of the night. But he would get it for her anyway. She said she researched it online with a friend, and they concluded it was a really good Wii. So cute..so smart. I was completely impressed with this family. I learned so much in the 10 minutes we shared. And before they walked away, the mother looked me right in the eye and said "Thank-you, thank-you so much..." I knew what she was thanking me for without her saying it..and she leaned towards me to give me a hug, which I was happy to return. It was a sweet moment. That is what we're all about here in the US. To learn from our differences from each other. To welcome diversity in all kinds and ways. To smile and embrace a stranger, because you had a kind exchange, that warmed your heart. I think that's what Barak Obama is going to do for our country, he will let us be ourselves again. We'll feell safer, yet more open, we'll be comfortable in our skin again, and others will be comfortable with us for it, he will set our enemies at ease without them even knowing what's happening to them. He really does give us "HOPE". And my favorite saying is "It is better to HOPE than to EXPECT for in Hoping we invite surprise, and in expecting we only invite disappointment.

Did you know Michigan elected the first Muslim to congress this week? And to top it off she was a woman. I have a sneaking suspicion--that little girl I met tonight could very well serve our country someday.

One final note--to my Izabella, wherever you are my dear, I want you to know, in your home here with us, you will welcomed with open hearts, of course. But also, thanks to millions of Americans, you will blend in with our blended country, just like you were always here with us, in America, and your Chinese culture will be fasinating not taboo. I can't tell you how precious that is.

God Bless America. I am so proud to be an American.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good Causes, Blessings and Rocking Harley Motorcyles...

10.8.08--Last weekend was the 1st Annual Ride for the Cure--for the Susan B. Komen Foundation. I was approached by one of my clients to do the marketing materials design work for this fundraiser. It was a great opportunity for me and the studio to get a high profile of my work and possibly grow my business, it was an opportunity to help out a client in need, and last and most importantly it was a GREAT cause. I'm approached quite often to do work like this, and as a one person studio, I have approach these opportunities with caution--getting involved in causes that touch my heart, and frankly, this one was more about the coordinators passion, excitement and dedication than anything else. Her energy and enthusiasm for this event and cause was contagious and I wanted to be a part. In the end I feel so blessed by this project...over and over again. It's an amazing experience, beyond my wildest dreams. She had never coordinated an event like this before, so she was incredibly passionate, dedicated and motivated..that inspired me...and although everyone was cautioning her and trying to dampen her expectations to normal levels, I encouraged her to expect to fly with the eagles and not let them discourage her--I was sure she'd do VERY well. The na-sayers thought we'd be lucky to get 300 bikes in the 1st Annual ride--well she proved them wrong--4 fold--there were 1200 bikes and it was a very emotional day.

Dan and I were able to rent a Harley and be one of the 1200 bikes riding to fight breast cancer--all together, riding from Big Barn Harley Davidson to the Newton Speedway. I can't tell you how emotional that ride was. We rode with over 300 other bikes, the police had every intersection blocked off for us to go through without stopping (I was wondering how that would work at intersections) and all along the journey, through many small communities, people stopped on the side of the road, came out of their homes and waved to us. It was if, they knew something big was going on, and when they saw the pink bandana's and pink scarves (it was very cool that morning) and in a couple cases pink bikes (I want one of those) they knew what was happening. We were riding to support the fight against breast cancer. Many of the riders/bikers were survivors of breast cancer, and all riders were touched in one way or another personally by this horrible disease. When the motorcycles started their engines the rumble moved me to tears. As did the people along the way that came out to wave with their support. All I could do was pray, pray for all the people fighting cancer, and for my new friend's sister Tammy who is in the fight now (more on this later). I wish I could have captured that spiritual ride in a bottle and share it with you all, it was phenomenal. As we were riding, so were 800 riders from different locations all over the state of Iowa, to the Speedway. We then took a ride a couple laps around the speedway, went on to 2 other pit stop locations and ended at the Val-Air Ballroom for a buffet, live-and silent auction and dance.

The week I agreed to do the design work for the ride--I was at my bank, and shared the ride with him, as I know he has a Harley and thought he might be interested in riding with Dan and I that day. He was infact, his sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer (in both breasts) and would be in her final stages of chemo at the time of the ride. I suggested we pull a group of her friends and family together and all ride in honor of her that day--and that she should ride with him! Surely, that would lift her spirits at a tough time. He agreed. About 12 family and friends joined us to ride that day, and another 10 non-biker family and friends met up with us at the Val-Air Ballroom to support her. We made t-shirts commemorating the day and honoring her too. She was moved to tears when she saw it. After the lap around the race track, she shared her story with me, her fight, her worries, her good days and her bad days, I was touched and inspired. Then it was time to move on to the next stop, her brother asked her if he should take her home to rest? She said, "you know, I'm feel surprisingly good, infact, I have to say, I feel better than I've felt in weeks!". OK, tears filled my eyes and my heart swelled with the blessing. Later that evening, I told my friend, the fact that this ride touched and helped her so much was so special to me. He said, "This ride helped us all Lisa." How profound. We often forget how this disease puts a huge stress and burden on the family and friends of the breast cancer patient too. He was so right--sooo many blessings. Wow. In the collage above is a beautiful picture of Tammy and her mom and a couple other pictures of her and her brother at the ride.

Then something special happened. One of the live auction items was an adorable rocking Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I couldn't stand it, it was so adorable. I told Dan I wanted it for Christmas. He rolled his eyes like—"are you kidding me?" I said, "no I'm not, if you want a Harley (which he does in the worse way--always been a dream of his), Izabella has to have one too." So, I'll be darned if he didn't bid on it for Izzy. And after a very exciting round of bidding won it for her! It was the most exciting round of bidding of the evening. When we won the bid, I literally jumped in the air and threw my arms around Dan, with tears in my eyes and said, "thank you honey, thank-you". Of course everyone there had no idea what was going on--or why I was so excited. So we looked like idiots...but I didn't care..not one bit. So we are now the proud owners of a "harley-davidson motorcyle rocker". I can't wait for Izzy to play on it! AND as an added benefit--the money went to a good cause to boot! It took me over an hour to calm down—what fun—it even "roars' like the rumble of a motorcycle engine!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My dear, sweet friends May & Wade's wedding day...


Oh my--we went to a wedding of a two sweet friends of mine--it was especially special, because I consider them both my friends. I'm not sure I've ever been to a wedding where I could say that. Infact, they were my friends before they got together. I was privledged to be on the front end of it in a very small way--and I'm soooo happy for them. She is from Thailand--and is now officially a US citizen...and our country is a better place for it. She is the most precious person I know. Her spirit is so pure and so beautiful. As I mentioned earlier--I am most happy to say, I was on the pre-wade & may side of things when Wade was smitten with May--and May had a steady boyfriend from Thailand. One night while attending a design conference in Chicago (we're all designers and all were at the conference). He asked for a little help--as May and I we were rooming together at a design conference in Chicago--so of course I had to oblige. Cause it was clear to me they were of the same beautiful spirit and the I'm sorry to say the boyfriend at the time was tarnishing and hurting our beautiful May's spirit. She was often sharing hurt, frustration and disappointment in him...he's a good guy..they just weren't good for each other. So...5 years ago they got together--I warned May that Wade was a "committment phob" and that it wouldn't be a challenge to get him to love and adore her--but it would be a challenge to get him to settle down. But if anyone could do it, it would be her. I knew this from our sweet conversation that night and from what I knew about Wade from the hours of conversations before that night. And yesterday, they became man and wife, in a tear-jerking ceremony in a little country chapel here in Iowa...it was precious...truly. I video taped their ceremony--and tears of joy flowed down my face--as they said their vows. And no kleenex to boot--but my friend Shayna--always prepared was at my rescue. I'm posting here a little movie I made of their vows and the images I captured of the rest of the celebration. They wrote they're own vows. It's was so moving. Listen carefully--it's hard to hear--but it's soooo sweet. She was gorgeous and he was so handsome and beaming. Bless you my friends..."...and the greatest of these is Love—1 corinthians" ...I am so excited that Izabella will get to have May in her life. How special is that...:) so many blessings for one little girl...:)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A visit with our sweet little zophia....

8.30.08-Dan and I visited a couple very good friends of ours this evening. We were able to rent a motorcycle, wanted to take a ride and thought it was a good opportunity to see our friends.  We had a wonderful evening.  I captured this video of zoey laughing...so hard...you can't help but smile "big" and maybe even giggle yourself a little. I love it when kids laught like this...I love it when I can laugh like this.  But especially special because Dan is being how I see him time and time again with all the kids in his life. He has such a wonderful way with them...I can see him doing this very same silly game with our Izabella someday. Can't wait to capture these kinds of moments and share them..of him and Izabella. :) Someday...until then, we are blessed, so blessed to have Zophia in our lives...she's such a sweetie..Enjoy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer 08...and A very special day....


First of all I wanted to say--I'm sorry for not posting for such a very long time. This summer has been so busy. And I am so grateful for that. We traveled to Colorado Springs to my nephews graduation from the Air Force Academy, which quite frankly was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was so touched by the brilliant, kind, respectful young men our nephews (one graduated the other is a sophmore this year) have grown up to be. I was moved by their ability to make an old aunt and uncle feel so loved and appreciated. I was impressed with their respect, their ability to express themselves, their confidence and their compassion. I was equally impressed with their deep, deep love, respect and appreciation for their parents. I was amazed by their parents ability to have raised such amazing young men. And then have the courage to not just let them go into the world--but to let them go off to defend our country in this very perilous time in our countries history. Their entire family--makes me so proud that their ours..and inspires me infinately. This is by far my favorite picture of Jake and his Mom after the parade of cadets--a civil war formation drill--that at the end moves the seniors out of their ranks and onto the rest of their careers. A send off of sorts from their academy commrades and commanders. Very moving. This photo tells it all--you can imagine what she (his mom) is whispering in his ear. Words of pride, of love...something only he and she will ever know--but my camera thankfully captured for us to peek in on something truly special.

We also had another wonderful week with my sister and favorite brother-in-laws annual July 4th visit. When they visit--I realize how much I miss having my sister close. I realize how much they mean to me in a way that's not possible from a distance. They are thinking about moving here from Vermont--so their visit is always filled with looking for real estate and dreaming of the day we will be close again. Oh how Izabella will love her "Aunt Shelly"....wow wouldn't that be a blessing. We'll see. There was an "ut-oh" moment when I backed into her car--in our driveway. But it was as if, God was saying--slow down, relax and stop stressing out. Funny now, not so much then. The picture here is of my them--the day they left--I entitled it "I love you too honey." I love it cause it captures how they adore each other. It's the thing I love most about my brother-in-law. Of course, while looking for real estate for them--Dan and I look too--we've always wanted a ranch--we have a beautiful home--but it's a two-story and a ranch would be better for elderly parents that visit and we'd be more comfortable too. I fell down the stairs this summer with my brand new Mac Laptop...both survived the fall...but gives me added incentive..to build a ranch. So in addition to everything else--we have been working through the possiblity of building a home--banking paperwork, realtors that don't want to do a thing but get paid big bucks, and a developer that's equally as 'aloof". In the end--we got approved--but decided the difficulty with the developer and the realtors was a sure sign--it was not in our plan. So...we're sitting tight--for now--waiting for what God has planned in this area. Keep our ears to His and our hearts and our eyes on Him for any and all clues.

Then Dan, finally realized a dream, I surprised him with a rental harley davidson bike rental for 1-week to ride to Texas (from Iowa) to spend some time with his nephews on break from the AFA and before Jake deployed to officer training/pilot school. He was so happy--we missed each other--and I wish I could have gone with him--but I was deathly afraid of motorcycles--and my studio was smak dab in the middle of a huge 236 page book going to print. So, he went alone--and had a wonderful time. Then when he returned he took me for a ride--I was panic'd, but, all I can say is, I love being that close to my husband, cuddled up behind him, and when he pulled into the driveway to let me off to follow him to drop off the bike--he said, "ok, get off now." I said, "no". He said,"you have to we have to bring the bike back." I said, "I don't want to." That says it all. So we're now in the process of selling our boat to buy a harley. :) We'll see how that goes.

Then--I went, without Dan, to Patagonia Arizona to my nieces wedding. It's a long story, but they are young--and I don't think they really understood all that was involved in putting a wedding on. When we arrived, my niece immediately said, "ok Aunt Lisa, what are we doing with the reception hall?" Ahhhh....you don't have that decided yet. Ahhh...ok...let's go see it. It was a very OLD fair grounds hall--very dirty--and definately not very romantic. But between Thursday at 4 pm (our arrival) and Saturday at Noon (wedding at 3pm) we transformed that hall into my "arizona romance themed" room. We were in a small town, just 18 miles north of the border, so decorating materials were minimal to say the least. My arizona romance vision required LOTS of fabric, of which there were no fabric stores, in the U.S. within a hours drive, so, after looking fruitlessly all over that area--I looked at my mom and sister and said, "well ladies, we're going to mexico." We had been told there was a huge fabric store just 500 yards over the border--and living in SD, CA for years--I knew if we could get through customs/immigration--we'd be able to get a heck of a deal on it. We had a rented car without Mexico Insurance--so we had to walk over the border--with my 75 year old mother in tow--who we suggested stay home that day to rest, but she insisted on riding along and didn't want to miss a thing--and after paying a hungry man $3 to help us find the store--and after lots of mexican women and men in the fabric store looking at us over and over again like, "these senrarita's are loco"...when we asked them to give us a price for what was on the "roll"...ok 3 rolls of fabric we wanted. Yup...over 200 yards of material later--and a call to the bank for the latest exchange rate--to figure out what it would cost--we hauled the fabric out of mexico on our backs (my sister and I) like pack mules (my mom carrying the purses), hoping to get back through immigration...we weren't prepared..no passports, no birth certificates, just our DL's..but, surely they could see by the 200 yards of fabric and my 75 year old mother, we were innocent enough--and let us back into the U.S.--we consulted our family before going over and they cautioned us--we'd have a hard time getting back--but what are a couple loving Aunts trying to make their nieces day special to do...:) Be adventurous right. We made it over without issue--yet again--Angels were watching over us. The wedding--my mother taught me as a young girl--after attending my first wedding--at a cabin in the mountains of vermont--where the bridesmaids wore white peasant blouses and red gingham skirts. She said, "that was a absolutely beautiful wedding Lisa. Do you know why? Because this wedding was a true reflection of the couple. It was unique to them, and that's the way it should be." So, with that said, my nieces wedding as "beautiful" as crazy as it was, it truly took a village to pull it off, and what a beautiful day it was. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And to top it all off, I was honored to read "1 corinthians 1-13" at the ceremony. Which was more special than anything I remember doing for a very long time. Thank you Jess and Jon--I'm so proud of you, and know you will have a lifetime together full of laughter, love and joy. My brother ( my neices father) was so proud--it warmed my heart. I know he loves his girls more than life itself, and this day was a day he'd dreamed of since the day she was born. I was moved by him, and his love for her, and at a moment when everything was done and the celebration was in full swing, as my brother thanked me from the bottom of his heart for what I did to make this day perfect for his daughter--I told him, "that's ok, I know you'd do the same for my daughter--and I so want a daughter." I sooo pray God has that in His plan for me. All I can do is do everything in my power to make it so. Until then, I am blessed to be a special part of my siblings children, which in some ways are like my children too.

I am prompted to give this update--by something that happened on Wednesday of this week. It is a very special moment for Izabella--and I was reminded by a dear friend that I should document it for her--since it is the stuff of her Dad's heart.

It's preceeded by several "God's Wink" moments, that I will cherish forever. Small, simple and so precious.

Dan and I have been preparing for Izabella all our lives--but we have been preparing for her arrival from China since that fateful day in January 2007 after a Jane Pauly news story about China changing the adoptive parent requirements for chinese adoptions. AND officially preparing for her in Chinese Government terms since our LID--July 17, 2007. That means we've been officially in the cue for a referral to our Izabella for over a year--which means the U.S. Government requires us to renew our paperwork--which starts with having our fingerprints taken again--and a another FBI background check done--and then we apply again for another petition to adopt application--So, Wednesday Dan took off early from work to head down to the Federal Bldg. to do our fingerprints again---we arrived at the office at 3:45pm, I was told they were open til 5--but, when we arrived, they told us they were closed down for the day! You can imagine my surprise, disappointment--Dan had taken off early from work--and he wasn't exactly excited about doing it anyhow--so now what...our prints expire on the 6th, so we had just one more Wed to get it done--and frankly I wasn't sure Dan would take off again. As you all know he's the cookie cutter version of "reluctant husband". I looked at the lady and asked if she'd be so kind, to just run us through...I could see she was struggling with her decision. Then the security guard blurted out, "no, we're closed for the day!" I could see her still looking at my distraught husband--headed out the door saying, "Great, just Great.." I'm telling you it was all moving in slow motion--it was as if an angel was whispering in her ear, and I knew to stay quiet and let her decide. Then she said the most beautiful words, "ok, fill out the paperwork, I'll stop my reports and relaunch the system." Wow...I couldn't believe it. You would have thought I was on the million dollar question and just won a million dollars. I wanted to cry right there. I was so moved by her compassion for us. I was thinking if it didn't happen maybe it was a sign our journey was at an end. And as you all know, I'm so open to whatever God's plan is--whatever it is for us. So--we got our fingerprints, she gave us a customer service survey--and I was sure to get her name, intending to write a letter on her behalf for going above and beyond. But she handed us a customer survey--so Dan and I both proceeded to write a heartfelt thank-you to Evonne. In my note, I wanted her and her superiors to know the impact she just had on our lives. I shared with her--that there are so many bumps and challenges in this journey--many completely unexpected--and this day could have been yet another disappointment--but instead, she will be a special part of our Izabellas life. In a small but meaningful way--she gave our magic carpet a nudge and sent us on our way. Dan and I were smiling all the way down the elevator. Yup, Dan was smiling too--and said, "you goof ball, no government agency is open until 5pm, you should have known that, you're something else" he said with a twinkle in his eye. I was supposed to go back to my Studio to finish up a couple projects--but instead, Dan took us to a Chinese restaurant--where I found the most gorgeous prints I just have to have in my house. Where we got fortune cookies that taught us how to say "my brothers" and "my sisters" in Chinese. Where the waitress' were both from China--spoke very little English and helped us with the pronunciation of these praises...and my big Dan and I sat there repeating them to each other the best we could. It was another special moment.

But the grand finale for the evening was a blessing most would not recognize. I must preface this by saying--I have always believed, knowing my husband, that he was as on board with this adoption as I am, and that this adoption is special to him too, but he is not a risk-taker, he's a planner, he's a follower, and everyone around us has already raised their children and is planning for retirement, not planning to start a family. So I think his reluctance is grounded in his fear of being disappointed, the fear of not being there for her when she needs him, the fear of things not falling in place and we never see her...so he, as far as I know, has never shared this adoption journey with anyone. He keeps it to himself, and thinks I should too, what if it never happens..it will hurt too bad.

So with all that said, back to the Chinese restaurant. Dan went to pay the bill, I was busy checking my studio mail on my phone, as I approached the checkout register, one of the beautiful Chinese women that waited on us said to me with a big smile, "you want to adopt from China?" I thought, "ok who told you that?" As I looked at my husband leaning over the counter signing the bill--with a big smile on his face. I said, "We ARE adopting from China, but the wait is very long." She was puzzled by the wait, she couldn't believe the process was so slow. My husband begins to explain the reasons for the wait...etc. As I stood there with the biggest smile on my face, watching him, explain the 1-child policy to this woman from China, and how the babies are abandoned, the government fines...etc. Yes, she already knew all that, but he was "sharing our journey". A remarkable landmark on this magic carpet ride. Just before we left, the woman asked, "you can adopt me!". My husband said, "ok." with a big smile. He said, how old are you? She said I'm 17, will be 18 in just 4 months, we probably have to do it before I become 18 right?" She was so sweet, I told her when we get Izabella home, we surely will bring her in to meet her. She said, "oh yes, you must." I think she would love her.

It was as if you could see his heart OPEN like a beautiful flower. Just to give this moment even more perspective--Just a few days earlier, he said to me after chatting with some new friends about our journey, "why do you have to tell people about that?", I said, "why not? It's a very important part of our lives...and I want to share it." He said nothing. Then this. It's such a precious transformation I see, before my eyes. It's slow, it's like a turtle it moves very slowly and purposefully, who pokes his head out to see if it's safe, and then gets scared again and retreats to his shell. My husband has the biggest heart--a heart of gold--a salt of the earth kind of guy--from Nebraska--that I'm sure never expected to be on a journey to China to start his family. I on the other hand have always know this was my destiny--the only way for me to build a family. So--I understand his reluctance--and I love him for his heart of gold--that he shows with caution and very tepedly.

I don't know how all this is going to be taken by everyone. I don't know if there are others that have reluctant spouses out there in the adoption community reading this entry. I'm sure there is a certain amount of reluctance in all of us--the un-certainty of this journey--certainly is flirting with disappointment. But for anyone who has a 'reluctant spouse"--you don't need to share that--I know that's a difficult thing to share that can be taken the wrong way. Mind you--my husband will love and cherish every inch of Izabella from the moment he lays eyes on her. And I have a feeling his heart will be a little less cautious and tedpid with her around--she'll expose it with all she is.

It's amazing how God works in our lives, His amazing ability to transform people's hearts and open lives to things they could only dream about. This is for everyone who ever wanted something so bad--and was met with such adversity--and disappointment in getting there. There is hope, have faith, and never, ever give up on your dreams.

Here's to a referral soon. :)

I love you little Izabella--you give me reason to keep going at times I want to give up on the most important things in my life. This journey to you have given feet to my rambling life--and purpose to life--and it has shown me--my dreams are just as important as anyone elses. The thoughts I have of who you will be, what you will become and everything you are--are such wonderful thoughts..they warm my heart and give my life hope and purpose. I can't wait to meet you, hold you, listen to your dreams and your desires, cry with you, laugh with you, and sit quiet with you. Soon my dear, soon. My sister, my mom tell me "it will happen, don't you worry Lisa, it will happen." To you--thank you for sticking by me through all this--thank you for not judging me--and sticking me in that ordinary box--letting me be me--understanding my destiny and who I am--loving me un-conditionally--and never letting me down. I love you with all my heart.

Love to all,
Izabella's Mom--(hee,hee that's me...!) xxoo