Tuesday, December 16, 2008


That is about all I can say. Today we got a packet in the mail marked "special handling" from USCIS. I expected that we'd get our approval before Christmas, but 3 business days after our prints? All I have to say is "Merry Christmas to us!"

We received:
Notice of Favorable Disposition Concerning Application for Advance Processing of orphan Petition
Notice of Approval of Relative Immigrant Visa Petition for Kim, Jeong Wook
Standard certificate that we hear was wired to Seoul, S. Korea

That means we are DONE with paperwork and all that is left now the final medical exam and for the Korean government to issue a passport and travel visa. It could be anywhere from as soon as 7 or as many as 12 weeks from now that we receive our travel call...only time will tell. I really have NO idea why it takes so long to do those things. But, I do know that Mrs. Kim is counting down the days of her last snuggles with him - and we are counting down the days we get to hold him in our arms forever. As much as we'd like him today, we wish for this time for Mrs. Kim to be very, very sweet.

The hardest part about the process now, is that we won't receive much info until we get that travel call, which comes about 48 hours before Levi will arrive (I know - not much time to prepare!). We'll pick him up at JFK airport in NYC. Many people have asked about our travel plans. We have a temporary arrangement that includes driving with our 2 kids, but I know LOTS of people that change that when they find out the dates & times.

After the holidays, we have LOTS of work to do. We have to assemble the crib, fill in his wardrobe, install the carseat. We'll stay very busy...for a while.

I'm finally headed to bed, but I haven't been sleeping so well lately...I wonder why? :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

A lot to report

We've had SO much going on in the last few days:

December 11: Fingerprinted in Boston! Yea! Are we EVER glad that it is done electronically! Steve's prints took about 4 tries each finger to get it right! He has such dry skin, the computer rejected the first of many, many tries! On a positive note - I was done in about 5 minutes! :) We are hoping to receive our I-797C soon. In short, this just means that we will be done on this side of the ocean and everything will hopefully be in Seoul before Christmas.

December 12 - 13: Traveled to Glens Falls, NY to go to the opening of a museum that Steve has been working on for that last 2 1/2 years. It was beautiful! I'd post pictures, but Steve downloaded them and deleted them off our camera before I could get them. I'll post soon! We stayed at a hotel with an indoor water park! (Didn't even know these existed before now - how cool!) We loved our time there. We have great memories!

December 14: Ben's 8th birthday! We had such a fun time celebrating. We took cupcakes to church, he opened his presents (K'nex and Lego Indiana Jones) and we had FONDUE (his request) for dinner. His "party" this year is a sleepover with 2 friends on 12/26, so we kept this day for our family. We had so much fun! Thanks for a great idea, Ben. :)

December 15th: Happy 8 months Levi! We hope you are home very, very soon. We'll keep you posted on any news....

Our Christmas Card Photo:

If you didn't get one and would like one, just email or post a comment! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fingerprinting and other news

We received news last week of our fingerprints being rescheduled. This time, for a date we can make - this Thursday, 12/11 at 9:00 a.m. in Boston. I breathed a sigh of relief when we got the date because our family is attending a library opening in Glens Falls, NY on 12/12. It's a big project that Steve's been working on and we are all excited about going - and I was nervous that it would conflict, setting us even farther behind. But no...we got a date we can make! Whew. One step closer!

I went to an adoption "meet and greet" time this past week. It was fun to meet other couples in the process and to talk with other waiting families. It's great to hear their stories about coming home, adjusting and enjoying their children. It helps us SO much. We hope to be a support to other adoptive families as we process through Levi's adoption.

In other news: We decorated our tree. The kids enjoyed it TWICE as much because we didn't put up a tree last year since we were in Bolivia for 3 weeks over the holidays. I love how kids ooo and ahh over every ornament before the put them on the tree. Funny thing is that I remember loving that when I was a kid!!! And Ella tried SO hard to reach the very, very highest she could...There were a few time I thought she might topple the tree over. The kids and I also decorated a gingerbread house to celebrate the start of the advent season. It turned out SO cute! Lest you think I'm crafty - it was a kit from Trader Joe's! :)

We had a really nice time in Philadelphia, PA for Thanksgiving with Steve's brothers. I'm WAY too tired to write more, so I'm just going to post photos. I'll let you know when we have more news!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Longing for Levi

First, the good news: We were told by our agency that we could send 2 items for Levi. A soft photo album and a lovey. Pictures are attached of the lovey & the front and back of the album. Another praise - our fingerprints have been scheduled! Unfortunately, it was for Nov. 28th - the day after thanksgiving, when we will be away, so we will mail a petition to change the date tomorrow. As you can imagine, a small part of me wanted to cancel our thanksgiving plans to make the appointment, so we can bring our little Levi home sooner - but we know that a the time with our family is precious. You can pray for a speedy rescheduling.

Honestly, if you've never been there, you can't understand. Those of you who are APs or waiting parents with us - I know that you know how hard it is. We've taken turns sleeping with the lovey each night, having sweet dreams of our little Levi. I also mentioned to the kids that when we send it to Korea, it would have a little "scent" of each of us in the lovey, and that might help Levi bond with us. Ella started the sleeping process 2 nights ago. She woke up the next morning, crying, absolutely beside herself. When I asked her why, she said, sobbing... "Because...the blanet...fell...out....of my...bed...and it won't smell....like me..." (picture her SOBBING through this WHOLE thing). We figured out a solution (she is with the lovey now, but I get it before heading to bed :)!!!). But because of this, I realized that there is pain in the waiting for Ben & Ella as well. I don't feel anxious...I just miss having him here with me. I thought the holidays would distract us, but as they get closer, we wish we could be celebrating with him. Each day is precious to us. We are not wasting a minute. But - please pray that God would comfort our hearts. We long for our little Levi.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I love everyday miracles. We've seen so many of them in our lives, and yet we don't often recognize them as such. Here is one for the record books...

On Monday, I tracked our package to the USINS to make sure it arrived. (You remember...the paperwork that has ALREADY been returned once!!?) When I saw the status, my heart sank. "Out for re-delivery." WHAT?? I remembered Jean mentioning something about checking the little box that says "no signature required", but somehow it never really made it into my brain. People...it's being delivered to a POST OFFICE box. There is NO ONE standing at the post office boxes ready to sign for packages?? I pretty much figured we'd be getting that darn package back in the mail. The status indicated that it would redeliver the package up to 4 times until it got a signature...and then return it to us if it failed. Let's see..mailed on Sat, delivered on Monday...then the holiday... We should be receiving the package on about Fri or Sat only to turn around and redeliver WITH box checked to arrive on Mon. or Tues. next week We lost a whole week..grr...or so I thought...

I logged on Tues to check and see how many additional delivery attempts were made, I saw this message... "Your item was delivered at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2008 in BOSTON, MA 02114. The item was signed for by E S."

Again...WHAT? I'm am not complaining, but HOW did that happen? I'm still scratching my head. When I spoke to Jean about it last night...she just kept remarking "Angie, it was meant to be..." She told me, in her 20 years of doing this, that has n-e-v-e-r happened. "They always come back," she told me. I'm feeling very, very grateful tonight. Hitting road blocks doesn't mean something isn't meant to be." I can't consent that life is going to be handed to us on a platter...but sometimes, we just get a break. Thank you God for this everyday miracle. And thank you E.S. for your signature.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One additional picture. By: Ella

Ella can't wait for her baby brother.


We got a 5 x 7 envelope today from Love the Children! I called everyone into the kitchen and all three additional family members came running! Here are the new photos! We got a total of 12 photos + the report that you see! He sounds to us like a DREAM baby! To do the conversions, he is 16.5 lbs and 25.3 inches. Well done, Levi & Ms. Kim! We are praying for Ms. Kim, Levi's foster mom. We are praying that God would bless her many times over for caring for our sweet little Levi and that He would heal her brokenness when Levi leaves Korea to fulfill our heart's desire - bringing Levi home.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Moving forward...oops, I mean back!

I was SO excited yesterday morning to find in our mail a package from the USINS (United States Immigration and Naturalization Service)! I couldn't believe how fast they were...or so I thought. I opened the package only to find that it was the entire contents that had been mailed to them with a note saying that we owe them an additional fee. Argh! It was disheartening to say the least. I was burdened with the feelings that we may have just cost ourselves some time in bringing Levi home. So I called our social worker, Jean, who once again, reassured us that we are still on track. She encouraged us to get a cashier's check with the additional funds, and express mail the application back to Boston today. She noted that our documents really only took a little over a week to be reviewed (to see that this error was made) and that - she said was "very" good news. She was also excited to tell me that Levi's documents are IN the states, and are ready to be filed as soon as that paperwork processes. So - it appears that we are still on track...in the words of Jean, we are onto step #2. So, I went to bed feeling more relaxed and dreaming of holding our son. We should have more pictures to share next week. Stay tuned...

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's the latest?? Any News??

Any word on the baby? What are the next steps? Will you hear more about him soon? When will you hear something?

We get questions like this all the time...and we never get tired of knowing that there are many, many people waiting with us. Problem is...there hasn't been much new, a lot of "nope...nothing new" or "we'll let you know." Mostly, it's hurry up and wait for us. We have all the paperwork in that we should. We should be receiving a letter in the mail soon about having our fingerprints made for the USINS paperwork. But it hasn't arrived yet.

Waiting is hard, but we are confident in this: Levi will be with us the rest of his life. So though 4 months is hard, life is very full. We will be in Philly (home of the World Series champs - congrats!) for Thanksgiving and here (hopefully with my parents) for Christmas and New Years. We have Ben's birthday (12/14) to plan and are already thinking about the Marathon, Levi's and Ella's birthdays in April! And there is all the collecting! I'm REALLY wishing I hadn't given away ALL our baby things! :) I just bought several shirts, 2 pair of pants, and a jacket for Levi today. A couple of them were 2T, so not for right away...but soon enough! Later this evening, Ben called me over to the stairs and tossed a shirt down. "What's this for?" I asked. Ben said "It's for the baby". When I questioned, he said the sleeves were too short, so he thought it was ready to pass on. I thought it was so cute that he's so excited about passing his clothes down to Levi.

Whenever people ask about how many kids I have, I can't pass up the opportunity to say "Three. An almost 8 year old, a 5 year old and we're expecting our 3rd in late Feb or Early March." If I'm feeling particularly ornery, I leave it at that! I ignore the stares at my seemingly un-pregnant belly and act as though I don't notice. :)

We are also anxiously awaiting our director, Cecelia to come back from Korea. We've been told that she'll have updated photos of Levi and a full report. She'll have visited him a couple of time while she's there. About 80% of me can't wait! I can't wait to see and hear about how big he is NOW. But the other 20% of me is sad. Sad that she is seeing him and holding him - and we are still so far away from holding him ourselves. There is already a little part of us that lives in him. We think about him every day. An ancient Chinese proverb talks of “an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet. The thread may tangle or stretch but it will never break.” I believe that we were meant to be Levi's forever family. It's complicated to believe this, because I would have never chosen for these to be his roots or for him to have such a difficult history. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but because it rings true....my other two children grew in my womb - Levi is growing in my heart.

We'll post photos as soon as we get them. We promise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's up with the "throne"?

So, this is probably the #1 question I'm getting when I show the pictures of Levi to everyone. I do know that every baby that I've seen from Eastern Social Welfare is shown in this chair for their referral. I suspected that there was a deeper meaning, but I didn't know more than that.

Jean, our social worker called today. She stated with (think frantic sounding voice) "I just got your referral in the mail and I couldn't believe it!" I wasn't exactly sure what she was talking about and as I started to worry, she said "He is SO beautiful. He looks incredibly healthy. Can you believe what a sweet, amazing boy he is? Angie, he's perfect!" Relief set over me. I know Jean says this to every family, but somehow I feel she really means it. Someday, I want her job - calling people and telling them what cute babies they have. I could be good at that. Sorry...moving on.

We took care of business, like getting our I600 filed ASAP (I told you there would be a lot of number/letter combination documents!), and how to record his name. Then I asked her the question about the chair. Does it have a special significance? I have to admit that I expected her to give me some really great answer about some age-old Korean tradition. Nope. She said..."No, there is no significance, other than that all the children who are adopted through Eastern are photographed in that chair. We refer to it as the adoption chair." She went on to tell me that the Love the Children's main office walls are wallpapered in photos of all the children that they've matched in their 30+ years...ALL of them sitting in the adoption chair. She said that much of the warehouse-like space is covered in those photos. It sounds both intriguing and bizarre.

So - that's the deal with the throne. Don't you feel better knowing that?? I sure do. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More about our son, Levi.

We've finally given this little guy a name so that we can call him something besides "this little guy." Introducing....Levi Jeong- Wook Gerrard. We really liked the name Levi, but when I looked it up in the baby book and found that it means "United as one" - we felt it was meant to be. We ARE praying this for our son. We are praying to be united with him as his "forever family."

We were talking about names around the dinner table and we were tossing up a couple of names - one of them being "Levi". An old friend of Steve's called to congratulate us on our new addition, and the kids and I continued with our dinner talk while he was distracted. Ben decided that we should take a vote on names. (He's been learning about elections at school!) Ben and I voted for Levi and Ella voted for the other name, Gabriel. "I know that Daddy would vote for Gabriel." I said. Ella realized that it meant it was tied 2 - 2. She said "If I switch my vote to Levi, that means the baby's name is Levi?? Then I switch it to Levi, 3 - 1, Levi wins!!" While I told the kids that daddy and I would discuss and make the final call, they were already calling him Levi!

Many of you have asked the following questions - and we know there will be many more.

1) Do you know anything about Levi besides his name & stats?
Well, we know that he's very, very cute! :) But fortunately...we do know more. We know his background, both social and medical. We will receive up to date photos and reports in a couple of weeks. We are told that he is a good sleeper (Yeah!), and although we are uncertain about his eating patterns, we know that he has been steadily gaining weight - which is a great sign. We also know that he was born in the city of Incheon, the 3rd largest city in S. Korea. We've attached a map so you can see where it is. His Korean name (Jeong Wook) means "to grow up brightly, firm of character, like the morning sun." We've read all of his development as of months, and it seems to be perfectly on target. On 8/14, at 4 months he weighed a whopping 14 lbs!

2) Do you plan on keeping his Korean heritage?
Yes! In the same way that we embrace our Argentinian heritage, we will embrace our new Korean heritage as well. We are cannot help ourselves, but to learn all about Korea! As we learn about Korea, we learn about our son. Ben & Ella think it's awesome that Korean's show gratitude by burping at the end of the meal! They would like to bring in that part of Levi's culture...but we have overruled them on that one. It has been fun and interesting to explore a new culture, and we are grateful for the opportunity. We are also keeping his Korean name as his middle name. We feel that is important, since it will have been his name for his first 10 - 11 months.

3) Will you travel to Korea to meet Levi?
No. Levi will travel with an escort here to JFK airport in NYC where we will meet him. He will have been traveling for 30+ hours when he gets here, as well as will have a 13 hour time difference (so night is day and day is night). We are thankful that we will be rested and able to give him careful attention those first few days and nights. We will receive a "travel call" about 48 hours before he will arrive. At this time, we expect for our entire family to travel to NYC (with a friend to care for our other kids and take photos), but we know that many people make last minute changes. We are open to changing once we know information. Please pray that this goes as smoothly as possible. We hear from others who have made this trip, that it is a crazy, overwhelming and amazing process.

4) Will Steve take time off of work?
Most definitely. Our biggest challenge those first few weeks will be bonding with Levi. This is no small task, and it will take hard work. We are under strict orders to keep Levi out of crowds and away from visitors for about 2 weeks. Steve or I will need to provide for his needs those 2 weeks so that he begins to trust us as his providers. Steve faces unique challenges, as many Korean children are not used to being cared for by men, so he will have to make extra efforts to spend time bonding with Levi in that precious first week. So - this would be a great time to tell you to PLEASE not be offended if we limit our time with you in those first days and weeks. We understand that there will be a lot of people who want to meet him, and we promise to make him available to you as soon as we can, but we are boldly asking to have the freedom to do what we hope will bring long term benefits.

5) Why adoption from Korea?
Adoption is a personal choice. A calling. Once we started down the road of adopting, we have felt without question, that this is
our calling. How we discovered that calling is another blog altogether, but we already cannot imagine life without our little Levi in our hearts, and we know that we will feel that way even more when home with us...

We found Korea quite by accident and we have fallen in love with this adoption program. The babies from Korea live with loving foster families (instead of in orphanages), and they get great medical care. We considered other programs, and kept ruling them out, one by one, either because we didn't meet the age requirements (when I say we - I do mean Steve) :), we couldn't make the travel commitment (for some countries, it was as much as 8 weeks), or the wait times were very long. We found out about Love the Children through a friend of a friend...and we knew right away that we had found the right agency for us.

6)How is your process so short?
We feel very, very blessed. When we started the process, we thought if we had an adopted child in a year, we'd consider ourselves very lucky. But, when we discovered Love the Children, we began to hear that their wait times were much shorter. Feeling that this was "too good to be true", I inquired about it. Love the Children, we realized is more than just an adoption agency. In fact, with it's small staff, it minimal advertising and it's no hassle process, it doesn't seem like an agency at all. They have kept to a minimum their administrative costs for the placement of children so that all possible funds, donations and contributions are directed toward the support of Eastern Child Welfare Center. Eastern Social Welfare Society is in Seoul, and not only places adopted children, but has facilities for expectant mothers, handicapped children and schools with grades kindergarten through high school. Love the children, together with the support of their generous contributors, have been able to aid Eastern in building the Love the Children Hospital and Esther's House (home for unwed mothers) and have also provided supplies, medicines, vans, medical and other equipment. Love the Children, in this way, becomes more of an extension of the Korean agency. Since 1978, Love the Children has placed over 4,000 children from Korea in US homes. We are honored to be one of them.

More to come...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One day of well-wishers - thank you dear friends!

My precious son - you are but one day in our hearts and your "fan club" awaits. :) You ARE loved by many, my sweet boy and we can't wait to bring you home. Below are just a sampling of the many, many emails we recieved today, in addition to the comments posted - just ONE day after your unveiling! (I tried to include them all - but there were SOO many!) We can hardly wait to share these amazing friends with you. Come home soon...

Oh my goodness! That is such exciting news! We can't to meet him!

Lizzie and Bryan

Congratulations!!!! What a beautiful baby...we look forward to meeting him soon.
Tony and Talia

Oh my, Angie, he is absolutely perfect! Just gorgeous! Congratulations! Can't wait to hear more about your process!
Jackie B.

Dear Angie

I was just talking about you – last night! Unbelievable to hear from you today- and to hear this news. This is such wonderful news- congratulations to all of you.

Susan Solomont

We're rejoicing with you. We are so excited for you and so glad to be a witness to your journey. Love you!


He looks like a Gerrard alright :) Melvyn

Congratulations Angie,

I hope all works out for you. You and Steve will be wonderful parents to your second son.


Crying at his picture, ang. he's beautiful!! oh, i just want you to have him now. i can't imagine how this must be testing your patience and trust.

just beautiful. no other words.
much love, aim

Congratulations! I am so excited for you! I can't wait to follow along your story and hear how things progress. Keep us on the update.
May God continue to bless your family,

Oh, my gosh! He is soooo adorable! Now we all have to wait! AAGGGHHH! But it’ll be such joy when he finally does arrive. We are so happy for all of you!


The Alberts

WOW we are so excited for all of you!! This is so cool! I cant wait to meet the new nephew!!



Love the pictures and we are so excited for you! (hope you can get the throne)


angie and steve,
that is AWESOME!!
i'm excited for you!

Katrina M.

Angie, He is so beautiful! I am so happy for you and for your new son. What a blessing you all will be to one another. Love - Annelise

Congratulations! Wow, I'm not normally a crier, but I must admit, my eyes started welling up when I saw his picture. Brings back a lot of great memories. He's very blessed to have you as parents.


Our prayers will be with you. There is a little man just waiting for your hugs!! Praise God!


Dear Angie,
Congratulations! He is so very cute! Phil and I are really thrilled for you all and we can't wait to hear more as the story unfolds. Ben and Ella will be a great big brother and sister for the little guy!


So Happy for your family...Will be praying.
Carol Ann and Jeff

Wonderful news! Congratulations to you and your family! If there's anything I can do to help, please feel free to ask.
- Barbara Wester

Oh, Ang...
Weeping with joy for you at this happy and expectant time!
God is so good!

He is SOOOOOOO cute! That throne picture cracks me up! It's precious.

Love it, love it, love it!

I am soooo excited for you!

Right on! Congratulations Gerrards! Ed Fraher

So happy for y'all! Rebecca


Congrats, Angie!! so excited for you all! Heather

Congratulations on the news about your baby boy! He's beautiful!! Many prayers to you guys and your little one! Melissa F.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

We can't stop looking at the pictures of our beautiful baby! We are rejoicing at this wonderful news and we can't wait to bring him home late Feb/early March. Initial acceptance paperwork was sent back to to LTC today and will be taken to Korea with Cecelia...it's official! Please pray that all our next steps go smoothly. Picture # 1 is at 2 months, and picture #2 is 4 months. We'll hopefully have more in a couple of weeks! Oh, and many have asked if we will change his name. We will, but we we'll keep part of his Korean name as well. We'll update the blog soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Are you ready to be a Gerrard, little man???

I talked to Jean (our social worker) over the weekend and she indicated that we might hear something early this week, or not until Cecilia (director of LTC) got back from Korea (about 2 weeks). I thought to myself..."OK, I can wait 2 weeks." I mean, what are the CHANCES she's calling before she leave on Thurs?

WE GOT THE CALL! We have a boy! Kim, Jeong Wook (meaning straight and son in the morning) was born on 4/15/08 - 6 lbs, at 39 weeks. He has very little hair and Cecilia kept telling me "You won't believe it - I kept looking at he and Ben together and they look like brothers?" THAT one made me cry. She said it's the shape of his face. Brothers? Wow...brothers. He is one day shy of ELLA'S birthday.

He's growing like a weed! On 8/14 (last recorded medicals - we'll be getting more in the next couple of weeks), he was 14.3 lbs and 23.3 inches. He is in great health. We told the kids when we were all together. They are SO excited. I've been most sensitive to Ella - since she is loosing her "baby of the family" status. We were talking about it - and I asked her more and mentioned that she would be the only girl. "The princess" I said. "No, queen." she replied. She is probably right. ;)

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We're approved!! Now what?

So we are officially approved to adopt, as of 10/9. (We didn't even need the final visit!) Jean told us that we should expect that our home study would be sent to Korea this week or next and then we'll get a referral. The referral will be the information about our son or daughter which will tell us gender, medical information and background and everything else they can document.

So - we are officially "waiting". We know that our agency Love the Children, is known for their short wait times, which is thrilling for us. However, I have to admit that I didn't picture that the waiting would be this difficult. Every day feels a little like an eternity. Once you know there is a baby out there, somewhere, that is born and will be with you forever, you can't help but want to hold that baby in your arms. We know our child is loved by their foster mom, but we just can't wait to welcome him/her home. We hope to share very good news with you soon...

Meanwhile, the kids did a great mural on our playroom door. We love everything about it except the nauseating smell of tempera paint that it left behind! :) Take a look!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where we've come from and where we are headed...

Well, if you had any doubt that Steve and I loved each other, we now EACH of 4 - 6 page autobiographies to prove that we do! :) Here is a timeline of our process...not because you care so much, but because I want our son or daughter to be able to read the intimate details from the time we first learned that God was blessing us with a third child. You may read them too - if you'd like. :)

Sometime in the last 9 years up until 9/8/2008: we decide we want to adopt. More specifically in August and September, we did some checking around and saw that Korea seems like the right place for us. Our hearts were drawn to the Asian cultures, more specifically to China, but for various reasons, we decided not to pursue China, and instead - discovered Korea. We are THRILLED about this.
9/8: Called Love the Children Adoption agency for an application
9/11: Application arrived. We got right to work on the "list" of items they need and spent the weekend writing our life stories...really.
9/18: LTC confirmed that they received the application. I talked to the Social worker (Jean) who is a godsend, and she answered all of my many, many questions
9/26: We scheduled our home study appointment (after a return phone call because I'm schedule impaired)...and finally...
10/7, 10/9 & 10/14: Our home study.
From here on out: We estimate that we will have a referral by mid-November and have a baby HOME in the spring of 2009.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And then there were 3....

We should probably update you on our lives. It's been a while since I've updated this blog, but I assure you, we've been quite busy. So busy, in fact, that we've decided to make a major change in our family. We are adopting. Or at least that is our heart's desire. Our family is very excited about this. We are communicating with Love the Children in Quakertown, PA. This organization does a lot for Korean ophans and we are thrilled to be working with such a fantastic organization. So, yes, this does mean we are pursuing a Korean adoption. Right now we are working on TONS of paperwork. At first I was amazed by the paperwork, but let's face it - you are applying for a child...it should be extensive. Steve and I have spent the weekend writing our 4 - 6 page autobiography and they are in pretty good shape. We are collecting tax returns, birth certifacates, marriage liscences and lots of legal documents that contain the combination of letter and numbers that we don't yet understand. We'll keep you posted on this blog about the process. We expect that we'll be welcoming our child home in the nexy 6 - 9 months, so I'm sure a lot will be happening. Our child will arrive home when he or she is 6 - 12 months old. Of course, as in any adoption process, any of these things can change quickly....

We can't wait to share this journey with you! Stay tuned...

Monday, May 5, 2008

20 miles, and Still a Long Way to Go

I'm finally dried out from the walk for Hunger yesterday. Actually, today, when I pulled money out of my bag to pay for Ella's Dr.'s visit, I had to apologize that it was wet - so not TOTALLY dry :). But, I'm more grateful for a hot shower, warm food, and a good nights sleep than I ever thought I could be.

Walking 20 miles is tough. But when it starts pouring (and I do mean POURING) at mile 5, you begin reviewing the mass transit map in your head to see if the next stop might get you safely back to your warm, dry car. However, there are signs, volunteers, police staff and supporters at every mile and at every intersection, reminding you that you are walking for an incredible cause. And we certainly had plenty of company. While it's hard to believe that exchanging my comfortable, dry, pain-free life for the sogginess I was enduring could bring help to many who are hungry...we pressed on for that reason. The group of 5 of us who started that morning all finished. And there were many, many more who were doing the same.

At the end of the 20 miles, I ran ahead a little bit (quite by accident) and found myself being asked for money by a man who was likely homeless, but certainly in need. (Ironic, isn't it??) He asked me for some spare change. I didn't have any to give him and I found myself pulling away as I said "I don't have any change." Which was very, very true. "Why not?" he asked me. I didn't have an answer for him. I thought to myself - "I'm still learning about what it's like to be you. What it's like to love someone who's needs are so complex. I'm still learning about how someone like me can help someone like you."

A couple of months ago, when the Boston Rescue Mission invited us to come down and see their program, I honestly dreaded the thought of having to give up my "precious" time. All I could think of was the hassle...and it didn't end up being easy. The childcare fell through, the parking cost a lot, and it took much longer to get there than we anticipated. When I mentioned to Steve that I sort of pictured that we'd just do the benefit and that would be the end of it - he said "You mean, you want to pay your dues and earn a little money so that you can feel good about yourself, and then be done?" Ugh...yep, that's what I wanted. I wish I could tell you I had an instantaneous heart-change, but it's more work that that. But I can honestly say that God is working in my heart - As I think about the next steps, little by little, I'm gaining the desire to really be involved in the process...to be engaged with the PEOPLE that these program benefit. To learn how to love people in need just as Jesus did. Project Bread and the Boston Rescue Mission have made huge strides in changing my mind about the poor, but only God can change my heart. And I believe in time, He will. Someday I will be able to look at that man asking for spare change and see what God sees. I really can't wait for that day.

Today, I'm feeling grateful. Grateful for a body healthy enough to go the distance. Grateful for support from all of you across the country for this crazy adventure. Grateful for friends who would walk anywhere with me (even 20 miles in the pouring rain!!!). And grateful that my pain and discomfort were temporary...for I know that others, it is not. May the miles I've tread penetrate my heart for changing hunger and homelessness in my community...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tales of a Broken Thermos

For those of you who got the short version of this this morning (yes - that WAS the short version!!), here's the full story.

It all started because I thought I needed a "real" sugar and creamer set for the marathon party Benefit I was hosting last Monday. It was a party for roughly 100 of my closest friends. :) And if you read my former post about my hermit-like nature, you'll know that this is certainly said tongue-in-cheek. Back to the creamer set...I don't own one. And I saw this as a good excuse to make the "investment". As I was browsing the creamer & sugar set isle of my local Home Goods, I quickly determined that I didn't need a creamer & sugar set for this party. I have a 55 cup coffeemaker cranking out coffee. A creamer pitcher ready to accommodate a generous, say, 5 cups of coffee would have to be refilled about 10 times during the party. I recalled having just gotten my cup o' brew at the local, ahem, gas station and they had that thermos with the lever that pops up on top, dispensing half & half. I think to myself - I need one of those! Push that lever and it dispenses the perfect amount of steaming (or cold) beverage into the cup. I run over to Target to find this nifty device. The package says that it will keep my creamer cold for 24 hours. Yipee! I took my thermos home and dreamed of all the ways I'll put this amazing purchase to use. I carefully pulled it out of the corrugated box. I popped up the lever on the top and watched with amazement. I wondered how someone could invent such an ingenious product. I began unscrew the top to this mysterious contraption, only to find that the "insulated glass interior lining" was crushed into a million pieces. To be frank, I was disappointed. So - I did what any respectable adult does when faced with this kind of adversity. I sat down and cried like a baby. If my kids had been watching me at that very moment, they would have suggested something like "Mom, just return it to the store...they'll give you a new one!" I know this, so I realize that this cry was for more than a broken thermos. When I opened that thermos, I realized that it looked like me on the inside. I had been burning the candle at both ends and within the safe package of "busy-ness" I appeared to be flawless. You see - I do and accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. And I truly feel okay for a while. Then, all of the sudden...as if out of nowhere...it hits me. I feel overwhelmed. I feel hopeless and despairing. I feel like I want to go to bed and not wake up until my "crisis" is over. I'm wondering why I seem to be taking care of everyone else and "no one" is taking care of me. I'm in a bad place. What's funny about me is that I have the ability to take a lot. But when I hit the lows...they are usually very, very low. And to be honest, my meltdowns can be quite a bit unpredictable, which drives my family crazy. Clearly, this is not ideal for me either.

As I amazingly cried over a broken thermos, my tears evolved to crying over my broken heart. Those words, "Mommy...you can just return it," kept ringing in my head. And so, with all my pieces in hand, I opened the Word of God and I read. I gave him my broken pieces and asked if I could exchange it for a new, unbroken Spirit. As I searched for joy in the pages I found hope in the midst of despair. I read these words from 2 Corinthians 9:12-15 "The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" Little by little throughout that night and into the next day, I could feel the strength to pursue the tasks ahead of me.

Looking back, I can't believe that I didn't give that thermos a shake on the way to the checkout and hear all those broken pieces tumbling around inside. I don't know how God works in these things, but maybe He closed my ears to hearing those shattered pieces because he had something to say to my heart. I'm grateful for the lesson that God taught me. I'm happy to report that both the thermos and my heart were returned and replaced for new, unbroken versions. And the benefit was a huge success. As an ending "lesson learned" side note...if you ever find yourself wondering if you need a large thermos of half & half for 55 cups of coffee - You don't. It's a little overkill! :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

She had a dream...

My 5 year old is a typically developing child in most area. She's not a virtuoso singer, or has giftedness in athletics that we can see at the moment. But she does have one trait that stands out - her sense of humor. She's funnier than most adults I know. Combine that with the filters of a 5 year old and you get conversations like this one I had with her today...to the best of my recollection.

Setting: The car
Who: Just my daughter and I
Conversation starter: My daughter burped.

"Excuse you." I said.

She burped a second time and excused herself. "Mom!" she said. "I burped twice in this place. Did you know I dreamed of doing that!"

"What honey?" I asked, now becoming more interested in the conversation. I'm wondering if I heard her correctly.

"I always wanted to burp in this place. Two times. It's my dream."

"Really? On the bridge?" I asked wondering what "this place" was referring to...not that it mattered much.

"Yep. And now I did it" she says, quite pleased with herself.

I honestly can't believe we are having this conversation, and I'm truly enjoying it. "Honey, I'm glad you accomplished a dream. And I very glad to have been present when you attained this mark-ed moment."


"Yes honey?"

"Did you have a dream of burping two times on the bridge too?"

"No honey, I have not had that dream."

"You should mommy."

"Okay honey, I'll think about it."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Has anyone seen the tooth fairy?

Last Sunday my 7 year old son lost his tooth! It wasn't his first lost tooth, but it was his first upper FRONT tooth, so he has officially begun that 5 - 7 year period lovingly known as the "awkward years." Now, being his mother, I think the missing front tooth is absolutely adorable, but if my son is anything like me, he'll look back at photographs of himself at this period of time and just shake his head. Truth is, he might be looking at the rest of our family and shaking his head too - who knows?

Anyway - the lost tooth. At our house we're careful not to play up Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Although we haven't been dwelling on their "un-realness", we try to capture the true meaning of the holidays instead of these traditions. HOWEVER, the tooth fairy is part of my kids lives and she is real, living, takes used teeth and leaves money in it's place. She is little and flys and somehow enters into our house summer or winter. I don't know why they are so convinced that the tooth fairy is real, or why we perpetuate this myth, but it's what happens, and we all play along. So, Sunday was a big day! Another tooth, another $1 in the piggy bank. (I know, inflation has hit since MY tooth fairy came too!) This is a monumental event in my child's life - probably the highlight of his week. I kept reminding myself throughout the day that the tooth fairy needed to "visit" that night. And guess what? Yep, I forgot.

I'm taking a shower on Monday morning, when I hear knock on the bathroom door. "Who is it?" I ask. My son yells his name, and immediately I remember what I have not done. "Come in!" I say, feeling all the guilt you can possibly feel standing in the shower. "Mommy, I found my tooth box with my tooth inside and there's no money." I am in the shower, and I can HEAR the distress my child is feeling. So, I say to him..."Let me finish my shower and dry off, and then I'll help you out." I mean, come on, what was I supposed to do while I'm halfway through rinsing out my hair? Plus, I need time to make a plan. I can either:

a) Explain that the tooth fairy had a former commitment and that she'll come tonight.
b) Somehow sneak the $1 into the bed and convince my son that he had missed it.
c) Come clean. Not shower clean. Confession Clean.

I'm mulling over my choices in the shower when I realize that all of our money is downstairs, so option b, which I was leaning towards, is no longer an option. Sadly, option c never really crosses my mind as a REAL option because I don't feel like explaining such in-depth matters to a 5 & 7 year old at 7 a.m. Plus, I LIKE the tooth fairy. So, I finish showering, dry off and escape to my room. I'm still trying to figure out exactly HOW I have some kind of knowledge of the tooth fairies whereabouts when I see it. I see the answer to my dilemma. Praise God! My husband had left a crisp dollar bill on the dresser that night, after emptying the contents of his pockets. Option B might work after all. I get dressed, stuff the bill into my pocket and head to my son's room.

"Let me take a look here - are you sure you didn't miss it?" He's pretty sure, but has also noticed that his tooth box is broken. It wasn't that way BEFORE he went to bed. Hmm...When I asked where he found it, he said on the floor. I thought maybe the tooth fairy had a struggle? He's thinking about it and coming up with a few ideas of his own. PERFECT! Now I just have to get the bill into the bed without him seeing it. I haven't actually climbed into the top bunk of a bed for a while - which is where my son sleeps, but in order to pull this off I knew that I was going to have to root around. As I'm doing this, my son says "Mommy - I think you are too heavy to go up there." I didn't say what I was thinking (you know something to the tune of...Kid, if you want this $1, you'd better can it!). Instead, I just replied "Honey, it's ok - it's just for a moment." I spend a few seconds reaching into the cracks and crevices of the bed (After all, I want it to seem real) when I finally slip the dollar under his stuffed webkinz penguin sitting on the side of the bed. I tell him I've found it and too look under the penguin. He switches places with me, finds the dollar and his faith in the tooth fairy is restored. AND she is quite clever for hiding the $1 under the penguin! I only feel a little bad about passing blame off to Penguino. :) Someday, when my kids have children of their own, I'll tell them this story. For now, I'm the hero - and I kind of like it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hell, yes!

The other day at dinner, we were wrapping up and my energetic husband who can't sit still begins leafing through his mail. Apparently the stories of puppet shows, lunch menus and book reports were not interesting enough for him! Ahem, moving on...

Anyway, he picks up the latest copy of Architectural Record that had arrived for him that day and starts flipping through. If you are not familiar with the magazine, its a magazine of buildings. Lots and lots of them...with the occasional interview of an architect therorizing about buildings. Let's just say, it's not something that I thought I would need to screen for my kids. But -this particular day Steve was reading some article and my 7 year old son looks over his shoulder. "Daddy" he asks, "What does that say? - Hell, yes?" he says, proud and confident that he can finally read.

"WHAT?" I scream across the table. "What are you reading?" He shows me this building photo and on the front is a piece of big, bright sculptural art that says "Hell, yes!". While it's not really funny, my husband and I burst into laughter because we can't believe what is happening! My husband then begins attempts to explain the concept of "bad" words to my confused son...who at this point wishes he'd never learned to read in the first place. And if it's so bad, why are mommy and daddy laughing hysterically? We don't know, and we can't stop.

Later that evening, my husband wonders aloud if it's too much to ask to drive him to the train station for his early meeting tomorrow. Are you kidding? At 7:00 a.m., with two kids getting ready for school? I barely got the words out before he started laughing..."Hell, yes!"

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A little time off brings a lot of learning.

I don't like uncertainty, and I don't like change. I never have and I have to fight the urge to control things every day. And yes, that DOES make me a control freak. Well, not a "freak" exactly, because I hide it well. I PRETEND that I don't mind if the service repair man will come anywhere between 9 and 4:30, but I'd really like to schedule an actual TIME that he can come. But these are the ways of the world and like it or not, I have to adapt to it.

Can you even imagine how much this affects how I relate to God? If you're like me, all too well! I like certainty. I like stability. Sometimes, that's not what God chooses for me. Recently, I took a sabbatical from my volunteer ministry to regroup. I assured people before I left that I wasn't going under or "burning out", but if I'd been really honest with myself, I wasn't sure I was coming back.

About 3 weeks ago when I was praying with some friends they asked about my recent sabbatical. I told them: "God has given me two messages while on sabbatical. 1) Live in
the moment (today) and don't borrow trouble and 2) STOP COMPLAINING." God's words were direct and powerful. It became clear to me that if I obeyed, there would be freedom. If I didn't, ministry would be over for me.

When it comes to complaining, I have huge obsticles to overcome. I have embraced this sin, feeling that it's my "right" to complain when I feel that there's injustice. I'd manufactured
this grid that, over time, wouldn't let me see anything good about ministry. I would clean up from the program on Sunday and feel depressed that there was no hope for our church. But God has so much more for me, and for Beacon, and for the Lighthouse. Some dear friends reminded me that so much good has come from the work that's been done...and I realized that God is not
confined by our weakness (in fact - isn't he made perfect in it!!?).

These last 2 weeks, for the first time in a LONG time, I've allowed God to give me the freedom he's always offered and it's been WONDERFUL!!!! I now know what I was missing, and I don't want to go back. Now that I don't let myself gripe and complain about what's NOT there, I see a lot of things that are. I know there's a lot of work ahead. But, I'm over the top
that God has chosen to redeem me...I wasn't honestly sure that it was
going to happen, or that it COULD happen.

To add another twist to the story - Every day for me is about living in t-o-d-a-y. It's about keeping your head in the game and not thinking about whats next. Word came to me last week that someone has anonomously donated money as a salary for the minstry that I do. It's taken a whole week to sink in. I'm on my knees in praise and humility. God is in control and I HAVE to stop believing that I own my future. It's times like these that I realize I wouldn't want to be in control even if I could. I'm elated of course about the possibility of being able to be undivided in the time I devote to ministry, but also realize that there are challenges with it. But I love even more that God was patient with me to find the right answer, before I found the "fix". I had been pining before taking this sabatical about what I might do when I have to choose between ministry and paid work. This choice is coming up in several months. The "fix" of stability and certainty through being paid for the ministry I do could have carried me for a while, but God knew that my time "off" held answers that would sustain me for eternity.

I love what I do. I've found my calling. I'm filled to the brim. And I believe that growing children up in real relationship with Jesus Christ is worth sticking around for.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Visiting churches...

So, I haven't had a chance to share this story very much, but it's worth a go...

I decided that while I was on Sabbatical, it would be wise for me to visit a church in a prominent location in our town to see if we'd have potential for connection. In reality, we are very much in need of space, and their location was absolutely a dream for us. I'd heard the stories of this church. It was rumored that with the exception of 1 or 2 people, everyone there would be 30 years my senior. I packed up my 2 children, donned my nicest church-going clothing (we're a much more casual church), and warmed up my hymn singing voice as I got ready to go. About 3 minutes before I exited the door, I got cold feet. I'm sure you can tell that I coerced myself into going or this would be the boringist blog ever. But I promise...I went, and it's good.

So, I arrived at the church at 9:40 a.m. with the service to start at 9:45. Now, let me explain something to you. At my church we are very late and very loud. 50% of our congregation is kids, so you can imagine how that affects both of those things. I arrived 5 minutes early, and I thought I might be the first because I didn't hear anyone, but I realized that it was one of those quiet churches. The kind that make you wish you hadn't worn corduroys. Anyway...

I am keenly aware that there is no one my age there, and there are no children except my darling little angels. Turns out the people at church notice this too. As soon as I arrive, I notice lots of stares. But, I am prepared for this, so I keep walking. I have to admit, that I KIND of thought they'd be thrilled to see me. And yes, I am THAT vain. I thought they'd jump for joy over this young woman with two beautiful kids who wanted to worship with them. I thought it would bring out their "inner-grandparent" instincts. But they weren't and it didn't. Many of these people were VERY aged. Some were in need of physical assistance, some had breathing apparatuses, and quite a few had enlarged hymn handouts that they needed because they couldn't read the 12 point text of the hymnal. I was not prepared for that reality. I thought it would be a group of 50 grandmas and grandpas ready to eat my kids alive - Turns out that most of them weren't the kid-loving type. At least my kids weren't bombarded with hugs and kisses. There's a silver lining.

The other thing that I was very confused by, is that there were people only sitting on one side of the church. Not wanting to impose my young family on some unsuspecting bystander, I chose to sit on the vacant side. Plus, I thought there were probably more people coming anyway, since I was a WHOLE 5 minutes early! I promptly picked seats on the other side of the church. As the service begins, I realized that while we are clearly set apart in age, we are also literally set apart in the sanctuary. Hmm... About midway through the service - at the fellowship time - I'm told by the pastor that they use space heaters to heat only half the sanctuary since much of their congregation is "older" and feels the sanctuary is too cold. She gives me the option to move or to stay. Being that I've settled in 2 children with our coats, belongings and bag of tricks, I opt to stay. Besides, by this time, I kind of like having 1/2 the church to myself.

The service begins. My kids have come prepared with a bag of activities to help entertain them. My daughter is coloring her fairy book and my son begins to color his velvet art. As he starts I hear "squeak, squeak, squeak" as the marker brushes against the cardboard. I look at him and he looks at me. As a very perceptive 7 year old, he knows that this sound is making a lot of noise for this "quiet" church and he wants my guidance. I look at him, shrug, and nod for him to keep coloring. "Squeak, squeak, squeak" he continues. At this point, I'm having a hard time containing the laughter. As my 4 year old daughter leans over to whisper something to me I am simultaneously realizing that I've never actually successfully taught her how to whisper. "Mommy? My underwear is bothering me." At this point, I'm hurting as I hold back the laughter. If you go there, you can remind them that I'm the smiley mom with the loud kids.

All in all, I have to say that my kids were AMAZING. I rewarded them with Wendy's of course! I couldn't help but think - we are a fairly quiet, reserved family- And we felt SO conspicuous! It would be interesting to see a non-quiet family darken those doors. I wonder if they'd stay?

Being fair, the service had it's moments. And I did talk to the pastor at the end. I made the connection, she apologized about not having a children's ministry. She said she could refer me to churches that do. I told her I lead a children's ministry and would be glad to be refereed by her to other families that come. She gave me a kind smile, but she didn't ask me for my name.

Well...I tried. I walked out my front door and into the church. It wasn't walking on the moon, but for me it was a big step towards both connection and breaking down the walls that divide churches. After all, we're all on the same team, right? Who knows what God will do. Maybe it just makes for a good story...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In the beginning...

I know you're probably wondering why I chose the title "Natural Brick". Or maybe you don't care. Either way, here's the story. When my sister was in college, she was in a band called Natural Brick. I thought it was a great name for a band and it stuck. To be honest, the name has far outlasted any song I remember them playing. However, if you knew my sister now, you'd find it hard to believe she could ever have played in a rock band. I find it funny. A great name for a band that no longer exists, staring my sister who no longer seems like the type to be in a band. Hmm...

Today, I took my daughter to her Kindergarten screening. We started by sitting down with the school psychologist who asked a few simple questions of my daughter. Now, to be fair, my daughter HATES to be put on the spot on most days, but today she was painfully shy. At each question, I was resisting being the hovering-mother by answering the questions for her. And the school pschologist would not be considered chatty under any circumstances...so you can imagine this scene. "What do you like to do in preschool?" he asked. And no answer is given. My daughter puts on the thinking face. So we waited...and waited...and waited. A full minute must have gone by. Which is a LONG time under the circumstances. Finally, my daughter says in a voice that was barely audible: "choice time." CHOICE TIME? How about puzzles or games or dolls? Something that didn't lead to another question!!! As I was wondering if I should ask her to repeat it louder, the psychologist asks the anticipated "What do you do in choice time?" Oh good grief. This scenario repeats itself a few painful times before we were finally released.

Upon reflecting on this time, I realize that because I'm all grown up, I've learned to answer questions that are asked of me. She will someday too. But we are both scared. We are both on the verge of starting a new chapter of life. She will be entering school, which she has only heard about from her big brother. But it is a new adventure. And I now have to share BOTH of my children with the school system. It's something I'm both anticipating and dreading. I imagine she feels the same way. I'm just better at hiding it. Now - would you like to know what I like to do while my daughter is in preschool?? :)