Friday, April 25, 2008

Homestudy Visit Recap

Well our first visit went well! We covered genograms today, which are like family trees but focus on relationships and dynamics and not biology. So that was interesting. Todd and I didn't really think we really learned anything new (which is OK because I don't think that was the purpose) but we do think that it helped our caseworker get a better understanding of who we are which will ultimately make this process as relevant as it can be.

Our first class was fun. There are 8 other couples so it's a large group. The class is very dynamic and diverse. It's amazing to see how many different walks of life are brought together in a journey like this. We're looking forward to the rest of the classes. This first one was a lot of housekeeping and nuts and bolts, and an overview of adoption law, which unfortunately doesn't pertain to us, but I understand that the rest of the sessions are much more relational and educational about the true dynamics of adoption and I'm really excited about that.

I just got a google alert. I guess The Focus on the Family story came out today. I was surprised because she shared with me on the phone that she wasn't sure when it would come out so I wasn't even looking for it and didn't know it had been released until I just received that email. I actually just sent a quick update to some friends asking that they pray for the upcoming article!

They only used a small sound byte but that's okay. I don't care if I wouldn't have been included at all--as long as her article can help promote Embryo Adoption Awareness and save little lives, she could quote the man in the moon and that would be okay with me!

But if you're interested, the transcript is here. If you want to hear the actual sound clip, you can listen here. The EA story starts at 3:34 in to the broadcast.

We ask for your prayers for wisdom. We have some potentially exciting news and a big decision to make, but out of respect for the others involved, we'll refrain from posting the details here. We'd ask that you join us in praying for wisdom for all of the parties involved as a decision is made!

Quick Update

Just scooting off to bed. Our first Homestudy Visit for our Embryo Adoption is tomorrow morning. (Diana made the good point that I need to fully type out the word occasionally in order to show up in google and since I want to raise awareness about Embryo Adoption / Snowflake Adoption, then I DO want to show up in google, so I need to type it out more often ;)

Anyway, our first visit is tomorrow morning. I'm scooting off to bed soon but I wanted to post this off topic info in case anyone is interested.

I'm purging a lot of my scrapbook stuff to free up space and funds so I'm having a huge scrapbook garage sale this Saturday.

Here is a link to the ad containing all the details in case any of you readers are local and interested!

I'll update more after the sale is over about our first class, the Homestudy Visit, etc.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Very cool!

I've been contacted twice this week about doing an interview about our IF/EA experience! I was interviewed today by a lady from Focus on the Family! It was neat to get to tell a little part of our story and we're very grateful for the opportunity to share about God's goodness. I have yet to hear back from the lady from the other organization yet but I'm looking forward to it too. I'll be sure to share the article(s) when it/they come(s) out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tonight Tonight Tonight!

I'm so excited. Our classes start tonight! Another couple in our church has taken the same classes from this organization and speaks very highly of the series. I'm really looking forward to learning more, and to meeting and interacting with other Adoptive Parents. Then our visit this Friday is exciting too! I was so bummed when I found out that our meeting would be a month after we turned in the paperwork but now that it's here it feels like the time has flown by!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

All finished!

I threw my best friend's baby shower today. I had a lot of fun in the actual party-planning process and the guests seemed to enjoy themselves (at least I hope they did!) In my former life I was an event planner, and I LOVED it, so this was a nice outlet for my otherwise largely-repressed skills and enjoyments.

But it's all over now, which means baby's coming soon!

Here are some pics from the day. Not very good photography, but I was rushed to take a few pictures as guests were arriving-no time for art (it takes me like 10 tries to get 1 good shot and that just wasn't happening today!)

First, my Edible Arrangement. I was tickled pink with how this turned out because I'd never attempted it before. People seemed to enjoy it. The fruit tasted good and I had a chocolate fountain next to it so people took a skewer and then dipped it in chocolate--yummy!

Half of the spread

These were the adorable cupcakes and cake. Sadly, I wish I could say I had this kind of talent, but I do not. They were made by the super fabulous Diana. I ask her for a cake, she says "they aren't my specialty, but sure" and she comes up with THIS! Isn't she amazing? I'd love to see what her "specialty" work looks like!

Then my blue punch! My Sister in Law sent me a recipe for some and I couldn't find the main ingredient anywhere, and I didn't like another main ingredient, so I scratched it and made my own. It actually turned out pretty well!

Our adoption stuff gets in to full swing this week. Our adoption education starts on Tuesday and our first Homestudy visit is this Friday.

Then on Saturday I'm doing a major garage sale to make room for baby.

A few days after that we leave for Jon's wedding in Michigan. Then we come home just in time for my mentor/dear friend C's son's wedding, which I'm doing a few things for. Then we leave for Michigan again, for my oldest friend's wedding.

We think we'll be able to breath come June! =)


Thursday, April 17, 2008


If you've watched my friend list ---> over there, you may have noticed that the number of asterisks beside the names continues to increase. When I first started blogging in December, I had almost no starry friends! Now I have lots. Happiest congratulations to all of you, my friends!

Sorry for the ho-hum posts the last couple days! I finally got some decent sleep last night and my perspective is definitely better. I get so weepy when I'm overly tired. However, though it hasn't been fun to feel crummy this week, I'm so grateful for the continued pruning and revelation God is doing in my soul and I appreciate the things I have learned this week!

God is good my friends. Even in the midst of heartache, we always have cause to rejoice!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

To Everything there is a Season

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Grief, infertility and adoption can cause a sort of identity crisis in a woman.

I started down this journey as a starry-eyed bride, full of hopes and dreams about what was to be in our life, and I pontificated with all the earnestness afforded by innocent ignorance and lack of life experience, about wifery, marriage, and parenting. I couldn't wait to be that SUV-driving soccer mom with a car full of kids, and I thought it not only my Christian duty, but the duty of every Christian wife, to stay at home and raise kids for Jesus. Praise God that His glory is not hinged on our biology!

As we continued, I found myself in a job I loved, but always afraid to love it too much, because it was just an in-between place while we waited on God's timing. I found myself wholeheartedly believing that pregnancy would come in the right time, and thanking God that He gave me something else to enjoy in the mean time.

As time wore on and no baby came, I struggled with the notion that everything I had professed about faith and trust in God's timing was a Christianese facade. If I really believed those things, why did my heart ache so badly? I began to rail against the Christian culture that put the suburbian family with 2.4 children and a dog up on a pedestal as the "highest calling" and scorned those starry eyed lovers as "small minded" and limiting of God, despite the fact that I myself had been one of them and longed for that place of ignorance where one can just assume that bodies work correctly and babies come easily. I resented the Christian culture and then resented myself for resenting it. I felt betrayed by everything I had believed about God's plan for my life, by my friends and family who couldn't understand, and by my own dark heart.

I decided that it wasn't the starry-eyed lovers who were in the wrong. After all, God had seen fit to bless them with children while withholding them from me, so I must be the problem. I threw myself in to soul searching and prayer, thinking that if I could just uncover that rock and expose the cobwebs and spiders and put my God-slot machine coin in and say "here, Lord, I give it up!" and He would reward us with baby.

That didn't work either. I began to feel guilty and believe that my soul must be really dark and if I had worked so hard and still couldn't figure out what was disqualifying me from entering the Parenthood Party. I was consumed with guilt and shame and fear, dreading entering the courts of my God for lack of anything to give Him. I felt nervous in my own skin, unsure of how to fit in a culture that DOES praise motherhood. Gradually, I developed a spiritual hunch. I skulked in the shadows of the Temple, feeling more like a leper than a princess. I hid myself as best I could, offering what meager remnants of my broken spirit remained, and ashamed to keep company with those who walked upright and full of grace.

Slowly, it all turned to grief, as I really began to mourn all that had been lost. I'd lost a dream, I'd lost a sense of self, I'd lost my understanding of my place in God's kingdom, I lost my knowledge of my identity in Him, I lost the will to Hope, and to believe in God's loving kindness. I cried and cried and cried, and asked the questions I'd been to afraid to ask, and uprooted the bitter root that had taken foot in my soul.

I'd tried everything I could to fix the situation, and to make myself a better Christian for it, wanting desperately to prove that I could accept God's sovereignty in any situation, and yet it was only in my brokenness that He began to heal me. This shouldn't have come as a surprise to a life-long Christian, but it did. He began to teach me that I am not the bride, the bitter, the betrayed, the broken, or even the barren. I am Jennifer, daughter of the most High God. All of these things were a chapter in the story of my life that He has written for His glory.

I began to appreciate the chapters. Instead of skipping through them to get to a better one, I hung on every word. And carefully, slowly, exquisitely, He continued writing.

Now, as God has filled my heart with a new dream, and has begun a new chapter, I understand how much He has used the past to equip my heart for this new journey. I was and am all of those things and yet none of them. Before teaching me the role of mother, He has taught me the role of daughter!

Now in this new chapter, the canvas on top is blank, yet I can still see the layers underneath of works gone by. I find myself pausing when grief still catches me by surprise, and pausing when it doesn't. I am not a mom yet, but I am a mom in my heart. I no longer identify myself entirely as "Primary Infertility" and yet I still occasionally grapple with the fact that I will never have a biological child. And I've realized that this grief will always be a part of my story, because like all seasons, it has its time and place. God does not deal in selective amnesia (though how wonderful is it that He himself forgets our sins!) But sometimes it does feel a bit like he deals in schizophrenia. ;) Here I am, the barren and the mom-to-be, the grieved and the joyful, the full and the broken, all fearfully and wonderfully knit together in the same soul. The lover of my soul Has excited my passion in ways I have never known before, and has stilled my spirit with the knowledge that I was never out of His hand nor far from His heart.

How grateful I am for the marvelous ways He has done all of this to prepare my heart for this new journey and for the children that may one day result from it. I look back on who I was when we first longed for a baby, and who He has made to be now, and I am grateful that His plan is so much greater than ours. Anxious I am to meet our child, but God through this grief has brought me full circle and with my whole heart I say "yes, Lord, in Thy divine timing!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

EA Awareness Video

A few more videos were released today.

I have to confess that these videos don't really resonate with me. I find them a tad too "cutesy" and cliche and even a little hokey. (I feel really guilty saying that because I have really developed a love for the organization that created them!)

BUT, I appreciate them for what they are as vehicles to raise EA Awareness. I think the videos are sincere and endearing in their efforts and I pray that they are successful in their venture to expand awareness.

So, without further ado, here is one of 3 newly released videos. It explains a little about where the embryos come from. We've been asked on occasion if the embryos are created for us. The answer is yes, and no. Yes, insofar as we believe that God has chosen specific embryos for us, but no, in that these embryos were not created by the lab and their genetic parents specifically for us. We didn't call up and say "we'd like 3 embryos please-get to working on it!" What we love about Embryo Adoption is that it is a life-saving measure for embryos (little lives!) that have already been created and would otherwise have little chance at survival.

God is Generous!

Dearest friends and family!

We are so excited to share with you our prayers of Thanksgiving and song! God has been so merciful and generous to us. As of today, we have 100% of all of our adoption money! This includes the money for the Arizona Agency (already paid in full), the Home Improvements (everything purchased already is paid in full), Nightlight's fees, and the Frozen Embryo Transfer fees, as well as a discretionary fund for small expenses like Fed Exing documents (and the actual embryos!), court fees, etc.

I wish I could begin to tell the story of all the miraculous ways God has provided. I've tried to share some here but if I gave you the full details, we would be here for hours! The long and short of the story is that the methods have been so miraculous, so unexpected, and so improbable, that it is undeniable that the provision has been from the generous Hand of God alone. To Him alone be the glory and honor and praise! We sit at His feet, humbled again that He has lavished so much upon us, after giving us so much already! God indeed is unique in that even after giving His Son for the sins of the world, He has seen fit in this season to spill our cups over with His gifts of generosity, provision, and happiness!!

What this means for us is that as soon as the Court certifies our Homestudy, we can immediately turn it in to Nightlight (whereas before we were expecting a gap as we saved the remaining money) and then have our interview with them, at which time we'll enter the matching process. So, this does not hasten or change this current part of the process, but honestly, wrapping my head around everything He has already seen fit to give us is enough!

Thank you for rejoicing with us!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pool Fence!

DH and my brother installed our pool fence this weekend! It went up so quickly! It's so neat to have something else checked off the list!

This was our yard when we bought the house. It looked this way until about a year ago, when we landscaped it.

This is the after. (Forgive the fact that we need to do a little edging/weeding! We've had other things on our minds ;) )

I'm so grateful that my brother has worked in construction and in landscaping. The combination of him and DH saved us a lot of money!

And way over in the far corner, we have a planter that has my Angel Face Rose Trees in it. My grandma had Angel Face Roses in her garden so I think of her when I see them.

My trees are COVERED in blooms. I must have 30 or 40 between the 3 plants!

Embryo Adoption Awareness

The Nightlight Christian Adoptions and the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign have released some videos to raise Embryo Adoption Awareness. Please click the "Play" button in the middle of each video to watch it. Each video is about 2 minutes long.

Video 1: "Special Moments"
See pictures of many of the Snowflake children already born!

Video 2: "Embryos Become Babies"

Video 3: "Difficult Decisions"
Hear from a genetic family about their decision to place embryos through Embryo Adoption

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Great is Thy Faithfulness!

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100

We have so much joy in this journey, and at every turn we can see the Lord's loving kindness lavished upon us! We had major purchases to make at Lo.wes and for pool fencing supplies, as well as the supplies to fix the bathroom windows (also governed under pool fence laws since technically if we had an acrobat midget child, they could climb through the bathroom window and in to the pool). Also, the glass in the window in the baby's room is cracked and we've never before seen the need to fix it since the room (currently the guest room) is only used sporadically, but for if and when it's to be a nursery, we wanted it fixed. We decided to do it now while it's cool and my brother (a Mr. Fixit Wizard) has the time to help us. Since we're replacing that, we decided to replace the other two windows on the front of the house so that they were visually uniform.

All that to say, our pockets are much lighter tonight after those two trips! Last week we went on ebay and bought gift cards for both stores for about 90% of their face value. I guess people get them through those credit card reward programs and those point redemption programs. Other sellers receive them as gifts and don't want them and some get them when making merchandise returns. In all those scenarios, it works well for both the seller with the unwanted gift card and the buyer looking to save a bit.

We were nervous but did a lot of research in to the sellers and they all came with a long list of positive feedback for similar transactions. We thought about it a long time, prayed about it and made the purchases and held our breath! One of them also came with a 10% off coupon to the store, and we were able to find a coupon for 10% off to the other store. The Gift Cards came this weekend and we took them to the stores tonight. 100% of the gift cards and the coupons worked flawlessly! We were grateful for God's protection! We also got 1% in rebates back on the card purchases using a rebates program we have. Not much, but every little bit counts, right?

When we ordered the windows, the gentleman helping us was so friendly and knowledgeable. And it turns out that they were running a promo this week where Low-E (energy saver) was free! This was not a promo when we got the quotes 10 days ago, and was not published anywhere, so the prices were less than we expected! Plus the Low-E is a tax credit for next year!

I told him we had some other purchases to make but we only had one coupon so we wanted to check out all at once so I asked him if we should bring our other items to him or our windows order to the front. He said that he'd enter in the 10% discount on the windows in to the computer and then we could just call it up at the front at check out and then they'd confiscate the coupon there after applying it to the other items in our cart. We paid, used the gift cards and coupons successfully and went out to the truck. I sat in the truck while DH and the store employee loaded the back and I pulled out our windows order and the receipt to make sure everything had been called up correctly. I noticed at this time that the windows were priced at far less than 90% of the original quoted price. We did some number crunching and the best we could figure was that the Window Guy adjusted the prices 10% at his computer, and then when we checked out, they took another 10% off of everything, including the windows.

We went back inside and explained that we thought we'd received more of a discount than we were entitled to. The manager asked me to show him an example so I showed him the quote/contract, and our receipt and the math demonstrating a more than 10% difference between the two. We told him what we thought had happened, and he just said "It all looks fine to me! Have a good night!" So bam, right there, an unexpected significant discount, on top of the discount we'd received with the free Low-E!

It seems like at every turn, God is providing us with resources and blessings as we continue. Some may think it's silly to claim that what is likely a cashier-register error is the hand of God but we file it in our "God Sightings" experiences and utter prayers of gratitude for his Cosmic R.A.Ks (Random Acts of Kindness!) It takes on a particularly emphatic appearance when considered in light of all of the other ways He has consistently been ministering to us through both little and large moments! Each act alone excites our gratitude but when we consider everything together, we marvel.

We'd ask you to rejoice with us and praise God for His provision and generosity.

Switching gears a little bit...

We purchased a life insurance policy for DH last fall. We paid a long time ago and signed all the forms so we thought everything was in order. Today we got word that DH did not qualify for the Top-Best rating, but for the second best. This means that the policy is 50% more expensive than we thought. We're really not concerned about that--what worries us is the reason for the demotion in rating. They said that his bloodwork came back showing high cholesterol. He's never had a doctor tell him that, ever. In the general medical profession's defense, it's also been a very long time since he's had a full blood panel done, but in an otherwise healthy, young man, we just wouldn't have expected to need it (as opposed to me--I get full blood panels every year because of my medications). This blood panel was done before he was diagnosed with his condition and therefore before he was taking any medication other than occasional allergy medication so we can't attribute it to that. We don't think it's strictly dietary because mine has never even been remotely high and since I make most of our meals, most of the time we are eating the same things (though we do know bodies process things differently).

We're not sure if "high" means "2 points above the maximum for the top bracket" or if it means "really really high-danger Will Robinson." I also don't know if the policy increase amount is any indicator of the degree of elevation or if it would increase the same amount whether he was 2 points or 20 points too high. We'll go back to our doctor and ask for some answers, but needless to say we were surprised and a bit alarmed by the news. We'd sure love your prayers that we get some solid answers soon so we can get things under control and get him back to where he should be. Given the fact that he is otherwise healthy, and the fact that whatever this was only knocked him down 1 bracket, we're not terribly alarmed, but we were still concerned and I think we'll both feel better when we have some more information. Thank you!

We're grateful for the fact that we were clued in now because realistically, it could have been a while til he had a blood panel where they check for this type of thing. Again, God has lavished His kindness and generosity of information and timing on us! We are grateful!