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

When “Jesus Loves Me” is Hard to Sing

Two weeks ago we were going through the most difficult trial we have experienced as a family. Our sweet Little E started having seizures one morning, no fever, no fall, no issues, she just started seizing. Her first seizure happened here at home, she began to turn blue and her breathing was very labored. We called 911 and the Firemen and Paramedics came. We rushed to the nearest hospital, where she went on to have two more seizures. Nurses flooded the room, oxygen was put on, her pajamas were cut off of her, shots were given, doctors were paged and all Dirk and I could do was stand back and watch her tiny little body convulse on the bed.

Little-E-2We were transferred to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where she had another seizure. More meds were given, and while the meds stopped the seizures, the anti-epileptic medication turned Little E into a raging monster. She had extreme strength, it took every ounce of our strength to hold her thrashing body. Finally Dirk had to just lay her in the crib and lay across her to hold her down and keep her from harming herself. As he did this I would lay my head next to her’s, stroke her hair and try to sing to her. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” Simple lyrics that I had learned myself as a toddler, now became one of the most difficult songs for me to sing, not because I didn’t believe those words but because never before had I believed them so strongly. It’s easy each morning to sit at my desk with my Bible and journal and say, “Yes, I will follow you Jesus.” “Yes, I will do whatever it takes.” “Yes, I trust in You.” But when crisis hits we have a choice to either cling to Him and trust in Him or to turn our backs and curse God.

There were so many uncertainties but one thing was certain, God is good and we clung to that. Never before in my life had my prayers been so raw or so real. Often I was just crying out, “God we can’t be doing this, please help! Please bring my baby back!” There was no format to follow, no list to pray from, no journal to write in, just real, raw communication with God. And meanwhile, while our prayers were being shot up to God and we were in this constant communion with Him, emails and texts and FB messages were pouring in from friends and family, and even strangers, who were praying.  I was getting texts from people praying all throughout the night. When sleep was scary, but so necessary, we knew that we could rest, even for just a few minutes, knowing that people were lifting up our baby girl when we couldn’t. It was in this that I realized the true power of the body of Christ and how important each person is. I am still brought to tears as I think of the people who were praying for us, standing with us when we were feeling so weak.

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As time dragged on, and hope was starting to feel difficult, I would often play over and over Little E’s sweet smile, her infectious laugh, her silly dance moves, wondering if we would ever see them again, praying that this monstrous behavior would cease. I watched Dirk sleeping on the bed, Little E finally asleep on his chest after a 40 minute battle with her, and started thinking of just 15 months earlier when he was in the same position, in a hospital bed, loving our brand new baby girl. I remembered how perfect her tiny little self was and how over the top in love I was. I remembered how I feared Big Sis’ reaction to having a new baby in the house but now I worried that their sweet relationship would be severed by a new illness.

I had recently watched a documentary on seizure disorders so of course my mind kept coming back to those kids and the devastated lives their families were living. Then I remembered something a good friend had recently told me, remember what you know to be true about God and cling to that. These circumstances don’t change who God is. Every time a “what if” came into my head I would repeat over and over, the truths of God, mostly, “God, I know you are good.”

 

I’ve had trials in my life that were really really hard, life altering even, and through each of these times I clung to the Lord and He has revealed Himself to me, but never have I been so real and so raw with Him. Never before have I felt His presence so strong. I wasn’t always at peace, in fact I was in turmoil for much of the time, but I was constantly hurling that turmoil up to God, remembering to cast my cares upon the Lord for He cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7) Through this I realized how much He really does love us, how much I really do believe Him and how much I really do love and trust Him.

We have had two seizure-free weeks and I am confident that Little E is healed BUT I also know, that if something else comes up, as horribly difficult as it is, that God is with us and that HE is GOOD.

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To each of you who have prayed for us, brought us meals, sent us cards, flowers, gifts, etc. Thank you! And thank you to those of you who have let us know that you are continuing to pray for Little E. We will continue to meet with a neurologist and monitor her, and your prayers each day are so encouraging. I know I’ve told most of you thank you already, but really thank you doesn’t begin to tell you how we feel. Dirk and I are so humbled and so blessed to have so many people supporting us. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of each of you and think of God’s faithfulness through you. We love you all so much and I wish that I could give each of you a giant hug and let you know how very much we appreciate you. Thank you for walking this journey with us.

Fourteen Years

His red truck pulled up next to my house, I remember taking one last look in the mirror and then hanging out in the kitchen while my brothers were carving pumpkins, pretending like I hadn’t been waiting for him to get there. I was 17, Dirk was 18. He came in the house and chatted with my brothers about carving pumpkins and then we headed out to coffee.

“It’s not a date, just coffee.” I kept telling my mom this but she knew better. I was wearing black dress pants and a light blue button up dress shirt, I hadn’t bothered to change from the office clothes I had worn to work, I didn’t want to make a big deal of this. I was adamant about guarding myself from any feelings that so many of my friends had fallen into prematurely. This was just coffee…with a friend…who was a guy…that I reeeeally liked…ah! No time for thoughts like that, stay focused.

We went into Starbucks, Dirk made a call to a friend because he couldn’t remember what drink he liked from there. He ordered a caramel Frappuccino, still his favorite fourteen years later, and I ordered a caramel apple cider. We sat in cushy chairs facing each other. I have no idea how the conversation started, but I do know that during this time we basically told each other that we “liked” each other, so awkward haha. Dirk made it very clear that he wanted to be very cautious, he told me that he wanted to do this right. We both had read many Christian dating books, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” “I Gave Dating a Chance” “He’s Hot, She’s Hot” and my personal favorite “Passion and Purity.” We had read it all and we were more than prepared, perhaps too prepared. Dirk shared Psalm 37:4 with me “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” He shared that while we knew the desire of our hearts, we needed to spend time focused on the Lord and let him guide us. We decided to take things slow….REALLY slow.

Motherhood in the Trenches

This pic cracks me up. We went to homecoming with a group of friends just a few weeks before our Starbucks “date.”

Sometimes I take myself back to that day. I think of all the butterflies and excitement. I think of the fear, which was greater after our meeting than before. I think of the 7 months that went by before we made things “official.” I think of the next 7 years before we got married.  I think of how I lived my life then. What would I tell 17 year old me, sitting in that cushy chair in Starbucks?

First of all, I would tell myself to find true love in God alone, it would have saved me a lot of heartache. To find satisfaction in no man, no friend, but in God alone. I would tell myself to serve. To use the excessive amount of free time I had to serve others, to get involved somewhere meaningful, to make a difference, instead I wasted years of my life idling. I would tell myself that fairy tales aren’t real and while some dreams may be shattered along the way, and life gets harder than you could have ever imagined, true love is so much deeper and so much richer than any fairy tale romance.

I am so thankful for my husband and so thankful for that day, fourteen years ago that changed our lives. It feels like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. Here’s to many more! I love you Dirk Dallas!

Hosting: Isn’t it Cruel?

We have had some friends and family ask us, “Isn’t it cruel to bring this child here, love on her, and then send her back?” It was this question that kept Dirk and I from signing up early on but as we researched it, and talked with previous host families and prayed over it, here’s what God has shown us…

First of all, before coming here, these kids are just a number in a system. They are not seen or recognized as individuals, they are not held when they hurt, listened to when they need to talk, they are alone. The stats for crime, prostitution and suicide are staggering for Eastern European orphans, absolutely heart breaking. Between the ages of 15 &18 these kids will “age out” and be left on their own. Can you imagine going through life having never truly loved or been loved? Hosting gives us the opportunity to speak life into these kids, to let them know that they are worth more than the statistics, that they are loved unconditionally.

During L’s time here, we will provide for her, but we are not here to give her “stuff.” We are here to love her, even when she tries to push us away, even when she tries to put up her guard. We are here to hug her when she is angry and doesn’t know how to respond. We are here to pour into her.

After the five weeks, we will hopefully be able to keep in touch with L via Skype and email and may even be able to host her again this summer. We will hopefully be able to keep a lifelong connection with her, it’s not just a “love her and leave her” situation. Will saying goodbye be heartbreaking on everyone? Absolutely, love does hurt but the fact that she is even able to feel something is BIG. We often look at hurt and sadness as a bad thing but some of these kids have learned not to feel at all and so to know that they love enough to miss someone is making major steps of progress. These are life skills that she can take with her in her future relationships.

If you have the time, check out this blog post by my coordinator from New Horizons about how hosting changed one young man’s life and his decisions. The words spoken from one of his host families resonated with him throughout his life and then another host family that he met years later has now become his family even as an adult. I’m not defending what we’re doing because I know God is calling us to this and no defense is needed. I just hope that through this you too can see the value of hosting and if your heart is burdened for the orphan maybe you too will have a chance to host someday. 

http://www.hexagonalpeg.com/2014/10/a-tale-of-two-boys/
I’m no expert but I’d love to answer any questions that you have.