Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is this real life?

So, let's just talk about how behind I am in the whole world of blogging.. Okay, now that's over with, let me update you on my crazy beautiful life. This may take awhile.....

Where do I even begin? The last time I wrote I updated you about plans to move S in our home. Tuesday April 23rd we received a call that the process of moving S here was going to be terminated and unless we could get everything completed by the end of the month then they would have to find some where else to place her. After spending two months with her and bringing her into our home for visits and mostly the fact that I knew God had planned this entire thing I just wasn't going to let that be the final answer. So, I cried and complained for about 10 minutes in Andy's office at work.

(Timeout: most women when receiving news like this just want their husbands to hug them and let them cry and say everything's gonna be fine. Not my husband, not this day. He sat at his desk, didn't hug me, and said something along the lines of "Kristin, are you seriously gonna let them tell you no? All we have to do is pray and make some phone calls" This is not the response most women want, but it made me toughen up and do what I had to do instead of whining about my situation.)

We prayed about it together right then and let it be. I knew I had done everything I could do, I was literally leaving the whole thing up to God more than I ever have with any other situation. Literally one week later exactly and about two hours later I was in Andy's office (seriously, I do not go there very often which made it kind of crazy how it happened) we were about to go to lunch and I get a phone call. It's S's social worker and she said "I am going to pick S up today or tomorrow and we will meet you at your home, I'll call when we're almost there" Okay, hold on. Yes exactly a week later our prayer was answered. Were we finished with our folders of paperwork? Or our 27 hours of training? Not even close. But those are minor details in the eyes of our Lord. He wanted S in our house and He is the only way she got here.

On April 30th, we got a call that afternoon that we could go pick S up from the girls home. We were to help her pack and bring her home and the SW would meet us there. When we think of packing, we think of boxes. And loads. And multiple trips. We get to the girls home to "pack" and walk into her room and there is one medium sized box and a duffel bag. Literally all of her clothes were in one bag and everything else she owned was in the box. Of course after looking around we found a few items she had forgotten but I think that was just one more box. To think that her "whole life" of belongings would fit in one large box just really surprised me at the time. I know I should've expected something like that but you really don't believe it until you experience it yourself.

After S moved in she was still made to attend school in Hernando which is about 15-20 minutes away from here. So making that drive twice a day for 3 weeks was fun, but thankfully that is over. Since then her days consist of eating and resting mostly. It's hard enough to be pregnant, but she is only 13 and it's summer! We found out that S is having a BOY! Andy won that bet :) We had a fun little reveal party with some friends and I think she is getting excited about it being a boy now. Except when we're out and she sees a really cute baby girl with big hair and then she gets a little sad lol.

But to be honest...

I've had a 9 hour spine surgery with pain that still affects me to this day. I've gone through numerous heartbreaks whether that be with family, friends, or past relationships. Within three months I got married, turned 21, and became a pastor's wife and then moved to a new state a few months after that. And I've also completed three years of nursing school at one of the top schools in Memphis.
I can honestly say this [fostering] is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. Period.

One of my biggest pet peeves (for lack of a better term) is that 95% of adoption/foster stories that I hear are all butterflies and rainbows. Now, in real life experiences that I've shared with friends that have done one or both of these that is not the case. But I feel that our country glamorizes adoption to  just be "the new thing" or "the cool thing to do". Let me tell you, there is nothing glamorous about it. It's rewarding in that I know I am in the will of God himself but to be honest, that's really the only "happy" feeling I get. This may sound completely selfish to some but it's just the truth of my life lately which I feel is the purpose of a blog. When you pour your heart and soul out to one person and give up numerous aspects of your life, risking things that could determine your families future and then they look at you and say things like "I didn't beg you to take me in" during the heat of a discussion its not "fun" at all. I don't say that to down S, I say that because the truth is that our lives and relationships have been really really hard and frustrating lately. Does this mean that every day is bad? Not at all. S can be very sweet and thoughtful but for anyone that has gone through the things she has and what she still is going through they're going to have some bad days.
My favorite questions are "Why did yall do that?" and "Where did you find her??" and "What made you want to be parents?" Actually I'm laughing right now replaying questions I've heard people ask me. But my favorite answer is "You know its really kind of funny, God just told me to." For one, it's the truth and two, I didn't "look" for her. I also didn't exactly want to be a parent at 22 while I'm still in school. And to answer the question of why we did this.. (Warning: This may sound harsh) I do not honestly think you can be a true believer of Christ and born again child of God and not have a heart for orphans. That doesn't mean adopt five of them, that means have true compassion and do what you can with what you have been given. Did I have all the free time in the world, or money to provide everything for a child? Absolutely not. But I did have two extra rooms in my home, an empty bed, an extra spot at the dinner table and a faith big enough to know that God would work out the details. That doesn't mean you have to foster either. There are children's homes all over our cities. Go find one. Volunteer. Spend time with them because I promise all they want is to know someone cares. I'm not at all saying this to "lift myself up" those of you who know me know that is not at all my intention. My point in saying all of this and really the purpose for this blog is to open up your eyes and bring light on children that don't have any hope. I've always had a heart for adoption but I thought my only choice was to wait until I was 25, start the paperwork process, wait a year for a match and then fly to Africa or China and bring my new child home. That is SO closed minded but that's how I thought I could "help the orphans" Now that the Lord has literally given me this opportunity and basically laid it in my lap I have researched and learned and asked questions and want nothing more than to help the masses. Not just one child or even two. Yes I want to adopt and yes I have a passion for that aspect but more than anything I want to help other people understand the importance of this issue. You don't have to go to Africa, or Haiti, or China. We have thousands of orphans in the U.S. I only had to drive 15 minutes to pick up S. And there is a house full of girls waiting to be fostered in the home she came from.
If nothing else comes from me sharing my story I hope it has at least opened eyes and hearts that were once closed about adoption or orphans in general. Here are some numbers to think about. If this doesn't hurt your heart a little then you may want to check your pulse

In the U.S. 400,540 children are living without permanent families
in the foster care system.  115,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 40% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted.

Source: AFCARS Report, No. 19

Around the world, there are an estimated 153 million orphans
who have lost one parent.  There are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development.  These children are at risk for disease, malnutrition, and death.

I've also read that there are around 5,000 children orphaned each day around the world. This is so shocking and I cannot keep quiet about it. Yes i want to fix everything for every child but we know that's not possible. I hope these numbers stay in your head and remind you to at least pray for these hurting children. I know some of you may think I sound like the sad commercials we all hate watching on TV asking for money just for food and water. But honestly, until you have a child in your home that has lived on the streets and has gone to jail for stealing food to feed her siblings it's hard to comprehend that this is reality for many kids. I can remember a number of times when S first got here. I would open up the microwave and there would be her plate with like two bites of food left. She always saved her food. She would eat half of a brownie and put the rest in her bag. I've never gone to bed hungry so I can't empathize with her but it's a sad reality to see happening in your home of an old habit that use to be a way of survival. 

I know this has been the longest post ever but that's what happens when you don't write for 3 months! Okay, on to prayer requests for the here and now.

-Pray for hearts. All of the hearts in this home because they're all struggling in some way. We do not know what the future holds for S or baby J but we know either way and whatever happens is going to be difficult and painful.
-Pray for decisions to be made. We need to go to court which was suppose to be the first week of May. It still hasn't happened. S has to decide what she is going to do. September is quickly approaching and we do not have a plan as far as her keeping him, or adoption, or who knows. It's hard to think you may have a baby in your home in 2 months or you may not. (Especially for a woman like me that needs to plan EVERYTHING. Yeah I'm getting over that slowly but surely.)
-Pray for S with the last stage of this pregnancy. She is 31 weeks. We're so close. I feel like I'm about to have a baby. I go to the doctor every two weeks, I remind her everyday about her meds, and I try to feed her as well as I can with her select food options lol.
-Pray for Andy and I as a couple. Fostering is hard on a marriage. I mean he has rehearsals, meetings, trips, and everything else that comes a long with being a worship pastor. I have school four days a week, doctors appts every two weeks, visits with S's family which is an hour away, as well as the everyday duties of a wife. We're so busy that I feel like I've neglected most of the people close to me because there are literally not enough hours in the day. And I apologize for that. It's hard to balance and prioritize a million different things with so many people relying on you and I'm doing my best. As far as Andy and I, we really do not have the money but we are determined we're going on a vacation in August after school. We are so looking forward to some time together and away from the stress of life. This will be such a great time for us to regroup and recharge before starting a busy fall schedule as well as having a newborn on the way! My phone will be off! :) Off topic, but we have been married for almost two years already! I can't believe it.

I just want to say thank you to everyone that has been praying so far. Things are hard but they're good. God has really shown off lately with the way He has perfectly planned so many things. I know everything will work out for my good and HIS glory! I will really try my best to be dedicated to updating everyone. As you see it is almost 2am but it's quiet and no one is around so it's a perfect time to stay focused. Please keep praying and know that they are truly appreciated!!


The diva's room :)

 Easter basket, complete with hot chips, pickle, pickled sausage and candy ;)

 It's a BOY! Cupcakes opened at the gender reveal party.

Baby stuff! We have a car seat, stroller, pack and play and some clothes. That should be enough right?? Not really. We still need a lot and I've had people asking for the registry so i'll post a link!

This ultrasound was at like 21 weeks? We got one two weeks ago. Baby J has HUGE feet! Basketball player in the making?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Update with S!

" Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3

This is my verse for the year. I just knew that this year was going to be hard but amazing and this is the verse He gave me to get through it. I honestly think of it daily especially when issues come up with S which seems to be daily. Being a foster parent is not what I had planned at all and its harder than I ever imagined but if we don't fight for her then who will?

This might be a long one so just be prepared. I haven't written an update in a while so here it goes!

       So life with S in our life has been a change for sure. She is not officially here yet but we see her about every other day or so. We recently had a DNOW at our church and she got to be apart of it which was really good to kind of open her eyes to the Lord and that church isn't just a routine, being a follower of Christ is a daily opportunity and choice. Andy and I have recently just realized like oh my word she came from poverty basically raising her self on the streets to being in a pastor's home. Big, huge change and to be honest she's doing better than I could hope for.
     We also had S here for Easter which was really fun. I kind of joked about it because getting her Easter basket ready was not what I am use to. For example, we had hot chips, pickles, pickled sausage etc in our basket haha. Made me laugh for sure. I love that life is so crazy right now and so not what I had "planned"

School: So the plan for school is to home school as soon as we can. Right now the kids are picking on her and she isn't able to concentrate like she needs to. We had a meeting today which went well in that she is no longer being "targeted" for having discipline problems. She is also on track and her grades are good enough that she won't have to continue school through the summer. The plan is for her teacher to come to our home twice a week to test her, see her progress, and help in her problem areas while I keep her on track and do whatever I need to do throughout the week. We go to speak to her doctor tomorrow to try and get a letter recommending that she be home schooled to help with nutrition and rest as well as her emotional well being.
Prayers: That we can get her home school started as soon as possible even if she is not living here full time yet. Also that bullying at school will stop (this "momma" is tired of seeing her cry).

Baby: So we went to the doctor last week and she is measuring well but she is still not eating enough. She has lost 3 lbs since she got pregnant which we all know is not that great. We go again on May 2nd for her next check up and ultrasound so hopefully we will find out what she's having. Which she is very ready for. S is praying for a girl by the way! She is now almost 18 weeks so we're getting to the half way point.
Prayers: Weight gain. Calm nerves (she gets very nervous every time we have an appt. as every 13 year old would if they had to go to the "girl doctor")

Andy and I: Today we finally got our resource worker. This is a big deal in that we now have someone on our side that can help with the process and someone to talk to and ask questions. Finding a nice human being in the state to deal with has been an all around challenge so I am incredibly thankful that we have a very kind resource worker. This is a huge blessing since she is the one that we are depending on to get us to the next point. For those of you who don't know, she is the person that keeps us informed of what paperwork we need to get done, where classes will be, getting us prepped for our home study, and whatever else needs to be done and when. The list of papers we have to get together is CRAZY! As well as 27 hours of classes that are only available an hour away. But I know that we can do this and I trust that the Lord will get us through. Also I start back to school on May 6th so I need to get as much done in the next couple of weeks as I can just so I don't have to completely stress out when nursing school starts taking over my life.
Prayers: We need things to move as fast as possible! We need classes to be available. We need paperwork to go smoothly. We also need to have a great relationship and attitude with everyone involved. I have to admit I get frustrated when 5 different people from all over MS are calling asking a million questions.

As you can tell the Lord is going to have to provide many things in order for this to get done in a timely manner. I know HE can do all things I'm just going to need help remembering that and staying patient is hard for me. Prayer is honestly the most important thing that anyone can do to help us right now. I've had many people ask what we need and what we're gonna have to buy for the baby and the truth is that babies need lots of things! So when the time gets closer we will make a list of needs for baby s. I am going to take her soon to register for necessities at Target or Wal-mart and when I do then I'll post it and if you want to help in that way it would be amazing. The only thing we HAVE to have for the home study is a crib so if anybody has one of knows of someone getting rid of theirs please let me know. Other than that we just need prayers and lots of them! Thanks so much for the support and it means so much to hear kind words of encouragement because this is anything but easy but I know it's part of His plan which makes it worth it.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Manicures and Taco Bell

Wow, things have been crazy and busy lately. Just want to update on our whole fostering process because I've had a lot of people asking questions. Since my last post we have seen S three times.

Our first visit was to take her clothes shopping and to eat. We told her she could pick anywhere in Southaven that she wanted to eat and the sweet girl picked Taco Bell. So we take her and tell her to order whatever she wants, this results in her ordering one taco. So we get our food and sit down and after a little bit of small talk there was a pause and out pours the stories. Stories that I didn't really want to hear but needed to just so I could know her heart and what shes been through. She began to talk about how she's never met her father and that her mom just went to jail. She shared stories of how she had been abused along with her younger brother. And then out of no where she looked up and said "I just want to be your color" (chill bumps immediately appeared). How do you respond to that? So I asked her why she wanted to be my color and she said "Black people just fight and argue and white people like peace" As we know that is not at all the norm for either race but in her eyes that's what she has been taught through her experiences. She also seemed completely shocked when she found out Andy and I were married. She asked me "why did you do that?" and said "I hate weddings". Through many questions and explaining a lot of things she started to understand but the fact that the concept of marriage was so foreign to her was an eye opener. We truly come from a completely different culture than S and I need to remember that. She also told me that I was a copy cat; I asked her why and she said "Because I wanted to be a nurse first!" Needless to say it was a good night and we learned a lot about each other. It was also a great night because it was the first time Andy and I tried a pickled sausage ;)

Our next visit was this past Saturday, we were meeting the girls at Chick fil a in Olive Branch. Let me just say, I have a brand new respect for this company and will be supporting them more than I did before. They were serving lunch to the girls in the home S is from and Andy and I were invited. They had set up a table with flowers and a table cloth and had menu's. They let the girls pick anything they wanted to eat and even had a "waitress" at the table to bring them things. They also got a gift bag when they left which they all loved. We got to speak to the director of marketing for over an hour and she was so sweet and thoughtful with the girls. One of the girls even said "This is the best day ever!" They really enjoyed it and so did we. After this we took S to get her nails done. (After we stopped at the gas station and grabbed a pickled sausage of course) It was so much fun just to get to do something with her other than just dinner. She of course chose pink and said her's looked cuter than mine did :) Andy was a trooper and sat in the nail salon while his girls got pampered.
Yes we had fun Saturday but it felt different. It felt like she was actually a part of our little family and that we all fit together. Every where we went she was right beside me and even followed me to the bathroom at the nail salon. She's getting attached. Which is wonderful and scary all at the same time. I wasn't expecting it so soon at least from her side. I loved her the moment I met her but that was because I knew God had placed her in my life. But for her, I thought it would take months for her to be able to trust me and get close.
Sunday she got to come to church and I see her as soon as I walked in and Cathy (her house mom) says "Don't let her fool you, shes been looking for you since we got here" So she came and sat by me and as soon as Andy got on stage she said "look there's Andy!" The service started off like any other, small talk and us sharing some candy but then we had a guest preacher who spoke on loving the "outcast" and "the least of these" Listening to that sermon with S right beside me brought things to a whole different level. It reminded me of the responsibility God has trusted me with in helping to shape and teach this precious child and to always love her like He loves me.
In the middle of the service I glance over and see her holding her hand out looking at her nails, so I hold mine beside hers and she just looks up at me with the biggest smile. A moment that seems so small but it was huge to us. It was a reminder of the time we shared together and the fun we had that previous day.

Things are moving slowly in our process of getting her here full time but that's okay. We see her on the weekends and we love the time we have together. I'm praying that everything works out for her good and I know that will happen, I just have to remember to trust the Lord every single day that this is His plan and it's not on my timing which is emotionally challenging. Sometimes I just want her here. Especially last week when she was sick, I just wanted to be her "mom" and to love on her.

This next week is her birthday and Andy's so it's gonna be a party in this house ;) We also have a doctor's appt coming up next week so if you could all pray about that, I know S is nervous. I guess that's all the updates for now, thanks so much for all of the prayers!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Love never fails

So I found myself sitting in my kitchen floor last night staring up at our new refrigerator piece. The first ultrasound photo on our fridge and it's not mine. As I thought about the journey we are starting it brought me to tears, I just sat and asked God, "What am I doing? I cannot do this." And it's true, I cannot! But with Him I can; along with help from friends and family as well as our wonderful church family. WE can do this! No sooner than I could get that prayer from my lips I noticed the magnet I just so happened to quickly grab without thinking, and the tears came again.
Love never fails. And as my wonderful friend Kim says "Love just works"

So you're probably all wondering where this random ultrasound came from and in fact it is not random at all. There is a wonderful and precious little girl that God has placed directly in our paths and we are going to have the privilege of welcoming her into our home for however long the Lord see's fit. She is 12 years old and this is her ultrasound photo that she received yesterday. You can only imagine the pain she has gone through in her short life that would encourage a decision such as this. Andy and I know we do not have the right answers as to why but we do know that she needs the love of Jesus and the love of 2 people as parent figures in her life to guide her.
February 7th will always be a great day to us. It's the day we got to meet "S" and start our journey together. We still do not have every detail worked out as you can imagine but there are a few things that we do know. As of next week we will start the transition process of bringing her into our home. This will include shopping trips with S and I, dinner dates as the three of us together, and then overnight and weekend visits. If all goes well then she will be moved in by the end of this month. Just to give you a small recap of our day yesterday..

We get to the girls home she stays in now and load up to go pick her up from school. As we pull up, Nikki one of her house moms goes inside to check her out. Andy and I are sitting in the van anxiously awaiting a sweet young girl to walk out the front doors. After seeing numerous kids walk out and Andy shouting "Oh I think that's her" and "Look that might be her" Finally out walks Nikki with S, our hearts are pounding and it felt just like the moment I had always pictured in my mind while daydreaming about adoption/fostering. Hearts are pounding and here she comes, "Will she like us?" "What should we say?" "Should we have brought a gift?" "I just hope she likes us!" All of these thoughts running through my mind as S climbs in the car and crosses her arms. We had a doctor appt about 15 minutes away from school and the entire ride there she sat in silence with her arms crossed. Of course more thoughts run through my mind as I wonder what's running through hers. We get to the doctor and shes still very uncomfortable as any 12 year old would be at the "girl doctor" and I get to go back with her for the ultrasound and the doctors consult. More thoughts "What am I doing? After today, I will be the one taking her to every doctors appt. What questions should I ask? I have to be "mom" for her, she's 12 and has no idea what's going on." While waiting for the doctor finally words came from her, and a comment I would've never guessed. "I want a pickled sausage" Okay, just so you all know I have no idea what this is! lol. And I really have no idea where to find one of these but it has become my goal before she gets here to find these things! Of all things in the world, our first bonding moment was about a pickled sausage, whatever that may be. But I thank the Lord for it because it gave us something to laugh about together. As we leave the doctor and head back to the girls home she seems to open up more around the other girls and we all have a few laughs as all the girls beg us to stay for dinner as well as ask Andy to give guitar lessons to everyone as soon as possible! I think we also had an invite to a science fair. Needless to say, these girls are begging for our attention. But I notice sweet S sitting in the corner smiling every time I look over. As we get ready to leave I ask her what her favorite color is and she excitedly answered PINK! I told her I was going to get her room ready and it would be very pink with a pickled sausage waiting for her. She laughed and said okay. As much as I wanted to hug her I tried to give her some space and not be crazy but a feeling of love for her has already taken over inside of me. I love her. Not because I feel sorry for her and her situation but because I feel God himself has planned this entire thing and he has prepared me for this moment for a long time. I love her because He has given her to us. Not to spoil, not to feed, but to love her with the love He gives us and share His love with her as much as humanly possible.
I do not think it's a mistake that I took a semester off even though I had everyone telling me I shouldn't. I prayed about it a lot and felt God was telling me himself that it's the right choice. Now I see what he had planned. And some may disagree with my choice and that's okay, but I know I'm doing what God as called me as a woman to do and there is no greater joy.

What can you do for us? PRAY! We are fostering a child that comes from third world country conditions. She has never had a doll, never had a Christmas tree, and has never been able to be a child. She also is a little behind in school, she has 9 weeks left for this year and most likely once she moves in I will start homeschooling her myself with a teacher coming in twice a week to help along the way. Big changes are coming our way and we really pray that our friends and family support us 100%. I am starting today to get her room ready which will be our guest room (also known as the room where we throw everything) so there is lots of work to do. Just a couple of big things we need as far as the room goes is a headboard for a full sized bed and a shelf for her school books. If anybody knows of one that would be great! As for me, it's time to get everything pink! The Williams' have a girl on the way and we cannot wait!