The Loss of Hosting

She’s gone. Our spunky, sassy, fireball of a girl is headed back to her home. There were a few rough days but there were some really great days, especially toward the end, as she started opening up and sharing with us her life, most of it just random stories, but it was a glimpse into who she is. And just as we all started settling in, she’s gone.

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There’s an empty place at our dinner table, one cup of coffee to make instead of two. No more ridicule from her as I leave the house with my hair in a top knot and she laughs saying, “Alicia, your hair, you go to shops? Your hair!” No more telling her to be nice to Makenzie or hugging her goodnight, no more hearing her ask Eisley over and over if she is her best friend, no more belly laughing from the hilarious things she says or smiling as she mocks Americans, “My car is nice. I am nice. Take my pee-ture.” I miss her accent and her contagious smile that she often tries to hide.

I have had quite a few people say to me, “I could never do this because I would love the kid too much to send them back.” I’m not one to get offended easily but that offends me. First of all, that statement is flawed because you assume that every child wants to be adopted, that every child wants to stay in America with a loving family. You may be surprised to know that you are wrong. International adoption is so great and I am not downplaying it by any means, it is amazing, but it’s not for everyone, not for every family and not for every orphan, especially these older ones. In this hosting I have learned that orphans do not need “saving” they need unconditional love, they need family, they need Jesus. Sometimes an orphan is willing to leave everything that they know and love to come to live with a loving family in America but here is where hosting is so amazing…sometimes an older orphan does not want to be adopted in America, they love their culture and their friends, their school and their lives. American culture does not save orphans. Through hosting we had the opportunity to show L the love of a family, to love her unconditionally and now we get to support her from afar, pouring into her and loving her the best we can from this distance.

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So while you may think that you could never love a child and then let them go, ponder this… God enabled our family to love L so much that we were willing to pour into her day in and day out and then say goodbye. He enabled us to love her so much that we are willing to continue to give her our all, knowing that we may get nothing in return. He enabled us to love her enough to watch our four year old sob as her “big sister” walked away from her, not sure if we will have an opportunity to see her again. He enabled us to love her enough that we “volunteered” for this heartache. We loved her BIG and we will continue to. We did all of this, knowing that she cannot be adopted and knowing now that she loves her home and right now doesn’t necessarily want to live in America forever. This wasn’t of us, this was of God, it was God’s love working in us. God taught us so much through this process and I know that as we take time to process this and to seek Him for our “next steps” that I will have more to share.
If you are thinking that you would like to host and are thinking that you couldn’t say goodbye, then I would encourage you to pray about where your heart is and ask God what He would have for you, because maybe you are the one who needs to learn a lesson in big love, just as we did. Today has been a rough day, and our hearts ache for L, not knowing what her future is and wanting the absolute best for her, but every heartache, every tired day, every dollar spent was so worth it!

Heavy Love

I am feeling the weight of this love, this deep and heavy love. It is not a burden, it is a privilege, but it is heavy. It comes with great responsibility and concern. To know that we have not had long enough to pour into her what she needs for the life that awaits her. To worry that she may doubt our love, our faithfulness and in turn doubt God’s love and God’s faithfulness. To know that while she returns to a “home” where there are people who love her and support her, that she’s left to navigate this world alone. Hoping that our arms can reach across the thousands of miles to hold her hand as she navigates this world. Praying that we will continue to have opportunities to pour into her.

This crazy love. Love that goes beyond blood, and beyond what the world has said, a love that not even I can fully comprehend. It’s a love I’ve never experienced before. It wasn’t instant like it was with my babies, it’s not full of emotion like it was when I first met Dirk, it wasn’t as natural as loving my parents or siblings. It was fairly slow coming but it is deep and it makes my heart heavy like it never has been before.

This road hasn’t been smooth and easy, it’s not all Disneyland and happy days, in fact, most days were pretty mundane and sometimes overwhelming but the deep moments and the moments of connection were great. As I say goodbye I will turn my back with a heavy heart, a piece of me flying across the oceans, unsure of what the future holds and uncertain if we will see her again but knowing that in all things God works for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and I trust that for both us and her. I pray that we have helped strengthened her wings enough in these four weeks that she can return home and fly with strength.

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Here’s to you our spunky girl. May you never forget the love of the Savior and the family here in America that loves you so.

 

 

Hosting L – An Update

It’s been almost 2 weeks now that L has been with us. I had every intention of updating the blog at least once a week but with the holidays and trying to be extra present for all three girls, it just hasn’t happened.

We picked up L from the airport on December 14th. It was such a nerve wracking day. I was SO excited and SO nervous. She walked out of the elevator as a stranger, someone we knew only by face but already loved so much. It’s amazing how God can give you love for someone you don’t even know. We awkwardly hugged and she looked us in the eye and said, “Hello, my name is L (except that she really said her name, heh)” It was like she had rehearsed it over and over during her 24 hour trip to get to America. We all looked at her and said, “Hi! You know some English!” She smiled big and said, “Yes, I know a little English.” We were thrilled! When we later asked her what she was thinking that day she said that she was surprised to see us so excited and with a big welcome sign and she thought we looked like teenagers…haha! I’ll take that compliment sweet girl.

Hosting L - Week One | Motherhood in the Trenches

L is so bright and can be so bubbly. Her English is good and is getting better every day. The constant charades in our house are quite funny but we’ve found that it is a great bonding experience, I mean charades 24/7 how can you not love that, ha! Big Sis often forgets that L doesn’t understand all that we say so she just talks and talks and talks. Poor L gets so weary after awhile but luckily L has headphones and an Mp3 player to help her tune out for a bit when she needs to.

L has shared with us much about her country and the city she lives in. She’s told us of trips to the zoo and museum and what life is like in her country.  She showed us pictures on her Facebook telling us about her friends and family. She relayed visions of a good life in a great place. As days have passed and topics come up that we’ve talked about before, we see the facade begin to crumble and the embellished stories begin to change into something more real, more raw, more painful. Things aren’t as peachy for our kiddo as she was making them seem. When she first arrived she appeared to be a gilr who needed nothing and no one and now as each day passes we see more of her needs and more of her reality.

Hosting L - Week One | Motherhood in the Trenches

The burning question that everyone seems to have is “How’s it going?” I don’t have any grand stories to tell you. I can tell you it’s going really well. We have all fallen in love with this girl and she’s let us know that she’s pretty fond of us too. Each day is just about living life as we normally would. Sharing Christ with her just as we do with Big Sis and Little E. Loving L, letting her know that she is special, speaking words of affirmation to her. She is such a fun girl. She can be so silly and so funny. My favorite times are when she lets her guard down and acts like a young girl should. She’s silly and awkward and likes fun girl things. Sometimes we forget how young she is because she seems to be mature for her age but when she lets her guard down, she’s just a young girl looking for attention, affirmation and a good time.

Hosting L - Week One | Motherhood in the Trenches

We have made great strides in her trust toward us. Her barriers slowly crumble as she watches us interact with Big Sis and Little E. When new people enter the scene, she pulls away from us, testing our loyalty to her. As soon as she sees that our loyalty is always to her (and Big Sis and Little E) first, the headphones go away and she opens up to the new people knowing that she has a special place with us that no one else can take from her.

We started out with an awkwardly aloof goodnight hug but that has now become a warm embrace. Darting eyes now look back at mine and smile a warm smile. Her eyes close as we pray and she says, “Amen” with the rest of us. She jokes with Dirk, loves on Little E and plays so well with Big Sis. Her bedroom door, once closed to go to sleep, now remains open each night. “Iss open, iss good.” A dentist visit full of nerves, her making jokes the whole way there until finally she asks, “You, uh, come dentist?” Yes, sweet girl, I will be there with you. Trust building each minute, love being shown every chance we get, words of encouragement spoken and two little “sisters” who can’t get enough of her. Big strides this girl is making. She is brave, she is strong and she is amazing.

Hosting L - Week One | Motherhood in the Trenches

Everything has gone really smoothly. There were so many fears going into this but they have all been dispelled. As scary as it is, I have been praying for things to go just a bit awry. That probably sounds strange to say but I don’t think that she can truly see how much we love her unless she sees us loving her at her worst. It’s easy to love when things are going well, not as easy when things aren’t going well. I pray that God will give us the opportunity to let her know that we will love her unconditionally through the good and the bad.

For those of you who have been praying for us, thank you! To each of you who have texted us and let us know you’re thinking of us, thank you! I’m sorry if we are slow to respond but please know that we are so thankful and so encouraged by each person who has reached out to us. We are being very mindful of our time and being as present in each moment as we possibly can be. We often do not have our phones on us and by the time we finally sit down for the night we are taking care of as much business as we can before practically falling in bed.  We are having an amazing time but we are also very tired. :)

Some of you have asked for specific ways to pray for us. Here are a few prayer requests:

Pray for health, we are still battling viruses over here and it’s driving me bonkers! I’m ready for everyone to just be healthy. Also pray for us to get sleep. Little E has suddenly decided that sleep is overrated and is waking up at least twice a night and staying up for extended periods of time leaving me exhausted and the rest of the household a bit sleep deprived. Also, please continue to pray that we can make breakthroughs with L and let her know that we love her and MOST importantly that she would learn that God loves her so deeply.

Thank you our dear friends for sharing God’s love with us and supporting us in this journey. We love you!

2 Days!!!

Folding clothes, clothes that a precious girl will fill soon. Toiletries put in a basket in the bathroom. The kitchen fully stocked with sour cream, yogurt, rye bread, sausages and the ingredients to make borscht.  A kindergartener’s bedroom turned into a teen room. Getting everything just right.

I feel a lot like we are getting ready for a new baby. The emotions are raw. In one second I am so excited to throw my arms around L’s neck and then the next minute I’m so nervous and can’t believe she’s already almost here. It was the same way during the weeks leading up to the birth of my girls. You know you can’t take it back, and deep down you don’t want to, but gosh it’s scary! I’m so excited and so nervous, although as each day passes the nervousness is starting to cease.

We’ve gone through a lot of trials this past month, some that I thought might stop hosting all together, not by choice but by the circumstances that were seeming to present themselves. Through each trial we prayed, “Lord, please don’t let this be as bad as we think it i,” and each time it wasn’t. God has been so faithful to show us time and time again that THIS is exactly what He has for us. I haven’t felt this sure of God’s plan for us since Dirk and I got married over 7 1/2 years ago.

L will be here in TWO days! On paper we’re as prepared as we could be. We’ve gone to training, read the parent manual, had our home visit, and read a handful of books. Despite being “ready” I know that nothing can prepare us for this journey ahead. I am ready and prepared to live moment to moment following the Holy Spirit’s guiding. I don’t know what’s in store for us but one thing I do know is that God has a plan for these next four weeks and I am most excited to see Him working through us and in us. Thank you to each of you have come alongside us in this journey. Through helping us become fully funded, to donating items for our garage sale, or donating items for L, to your prayers and words of encouragment. We are so thankful to have so much support. Please keep praying for us as we finish up our final preparations and pray for the 171 orphans who will be flying to America in just a couple days!

I will be keep you all updated as often as I can without disrupting our time with our THREE girls. Eeee! So exciting. Until next time…

Dallas Family Photo Shoots…in real life

So a few days ago I blew up my Facebook feed with fall pics from the pumpkin patch and Halloween (we were a bit behind in sharing our October.) Taking pics of kids is hard. While we usually post the top 5-10 pics, what people don’t see are the other 590 pics that I had to go through to get those 10 pics…Oye!

The thing with our girls, especially Little E, is that Dirk basically has to hold down the trigger button and hope and pray he’s getting something good cuz that girl is nutso.

As I was going through the 1200 pics of the pumpkin patch and Halloween, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the outtakes. This is real life people…

Here’s our Little E coming down the path at the pumpkin patch cute as can be, such a cooperative little darling…

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

Wait, what?
This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

Yeah, that’s a super unflattering picture of me running out of a shot. This is just the beginning…

On Halloween we thought we’d try out a few studio shots of the girls before heading out for our festivities…

Yep, there I am running out of the picture again. Big Sis is making that face because she just barely saved her hand from being bitten by ferocious Little E. (Since we’ve been back from the hospital Little E has been showing her disapproval for situations by biting. Thankfully Big Sis has quick reflexes)
This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

“Dad, let me do some moves for you…”

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

I’ve got mad ninja skills

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

Oh yeah…uh-huh…Go Big Sis

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

Watch out or I’ll freeze you with my hair.

ME: “Big Sis, hold Little E’s hand.”
LITTLE E: Chomp!
BIG SIS: I am NEVER holding her hand again!
ME: ::FACE PALM::

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches
There I am, running out of the shot again…

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

Mom, you’re interrupting my singing…

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

I must sing like the opera singing princess that I am… (I seriously laughed for a good five minutes after seeing this picture.)

She totally reminds me of Amy Adams in Enchanted, singing her heart out with her princess hands…
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So that’s the behind the scenes of our photo shoots. Here are few cute ones, just to prove that we do get a few good pics. ;)

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This is Real Life | Motherhood in the Trenches