Friday, September 26, 2014

Oceans



I've been playing Oceans on repeat tonight.  John has a dinner meeting and the kids are already asleep and I'm caught up on everything.  And I just feel lost.  I want to understand where God is leading me.

For two years now, I've felt very clearly that God is calling us to adoption.  We've been in the process for almost a year.  And though we are much closer, we are not there.  Where is God calling?  What is He asking of us right now?

A few months ago we discussed abandoning domestic foster adoption in order to host 1 or 2 students from Rwanda.  Ultimately we felt God saying to stay the initial course.  Those students are now in the U.S.; they are someone else's children.

We've prayed for children by name and dreamed that they might one day be a part of our family.  Some of them have found other families.

Psalm 68:6 says that God places the lonely in families.  I'm filled with thanksgiving that these children we have prayed for have been placed in families.  But it is bitter sweet.  When will God place someone in our family?

And what does He want from me now?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Generosity

When we had our home study visit (eons ago, it seems!), our social worker spent much of the time trying to understand our finances.  We make very little money (grad student stipend!) and yet live a comfortable life and are able to still put some away in savings.  How do we do it?  Well, certainly we are thrifty in pretty much every area of our lives, but it goes beyond that - it's really about the generosity of others.

I used to be one of those people who would say no to an offer of help practically before the person had even finished offering.  I didn't need help.  I was plenty capable of doing or obtaining whatever it was on my own.  I also used to be pretty stingy about giving help.  I was quick to say no to requests because I felt I was so busy or I didn't want to lend something because it might come back to me damaged or not at all.

But things have changed since moving here to South Bend.  I was pregnant when we arrived and was about to start my stint as a full-time stay-at-home-mom.  It started with a baby shower from our Christian community.  At first I said no.  I didn't want strangers spending money on me and making me the center of attention.  But then I realized that I was actually offending people by saying no.  They wanted to be generous.  They wanted to share with me.  They wanted to share things, but more importantly, they wanted to share life.  They wanted to be connected with me and our family, interwoven into our joy and our struggles and our successes.  Some gave words of wisdom, some spent a fortune on baby stuff, and some gave gifts of used items from their own houses.  All was given generously and that started me on the path of learning to accept generosity.

And it didn't stop with the shower.  People continued to give us things.  We haven't bought clothing for our children since moving to South Bend.  We haven't bought any shoes.  We have bought very limited toys and games.  Last Christmas our presents to the kids were mostly from things given to us.  People's overwhelming generosity allows us to live well.  And it's not just generosity from people in our Christian community.  We've gotten bags full of clothes and outdoor toys from our next-door neighbor's daughter's family. We got a free Pottery Barn crib, mattress and sheets from a woman on Craigslist who saw my "Want to Buy" post.

The concept of "pay it forward" is based on this idea that generosity is contagious.  The more generous people were to me, the more I started to become generous.  I've given away nearly all of my baby supplies.  Mostly to friends, but also to strangers.  None of my friends needed my crib mattress, so I listed it on Craigslist.  A woman came over to buy it and told us all about how they were adopting and were home study approved and hoping to be matched with an infant in the near future.  I asked her what else she could use for the baby and gave her a baby bathtub, stroller, car seat, blanket, and activity mat.  All for the $20 for the mattress.  The old me would never have done that.  The new me didn't hesitate.

I'm also generous with my time.  If you ask me to do something, I no longer shoot back a quick no.  Most of the time I'm going to say yes.  I'm also quick to volunteer for things I'm good at.  Does it involve students?  I'm in.  Organization?  I'm your girl!

In Matthew 5:42, Jesus says, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."  And there's also one of my all time favorite parables from Matthew 25 with the sheep and the goats where Jesus says that whatever we do for others, we are doing for Him.  I've used that passage to explain why we are adopting, but it's not just applicable in the big choices of life.  I believe that God is just as concerned with our generosity in little, everyday, commonplace things.

I want to end with a passage from my favorite book of the bible - Hebrews.  In the first of his concluding paragraphs, the author says:
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Let us always be generous and hospitable and outward focused.  Let us see with God's eyes.


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On a somewhat related note, I want to share a blog post written by my cousin-in-law about giving to everyone who asks.  He looks into the biblical arguments for giving cash to those who beg on the street.  I strongly encourage you to click here and read it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Losing Faith

Every month its a new reason why our home study isn't complete and approved.  Over the summer it was paperwork that hadn't come in from Kansas.  In August we heard, it's finally the time!  You are definitely on the docket.  Then we weren't.  But don't worry, we have plenty of time to be prepared for the September meeting.  But then the September meeting wasn't accepting new approvals, just revisiting previous cases.  Now it's October.  I'm losing faith.

I'm losing faith.  Ugh.  I hate to admit that, but it's true.  I told this to John this morning.  He responded later with a verse.  Hebrews 6:10-12.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
I'm trying to remind myself of God's truths.  Trying to remind myself that he is faithful.  Trying to be patient.

John also encouraged me to think of this as a glimpse into how our child feels.  He or she has likely been waiting longer than we have.  He or she is also at the mercy of the broken system.  My frustration and my sadness and my loss of hope is likely only a fraction of what my child feels.

It's so very hard.  Please join us in prayer for our social worker, for the process, for our faith, and especially for our future child and all the children out there waiting for families.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Work Fashion: Sound of Music Style!


Sound of Music is probably my all time favorite movie.  It's certainly the movie I have watched the most times.  Growing up I always wanted to have one of those dresses that Maria makes out of the curtains.  I loved the pattern and the green color.  Fast forward to now... I was browsing Twice when I saw a green and white paisley skirt from J.Crew.  I immediately thought, Sound of Music!  I must have that!  The green color is a bit brighter than the movie and the pattern is not quite as fun, but it makes me happy never the less :)

And, look, my kids are even "popping out to say cuckoo"!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Game Day Work Fashion!

Tonight the Steelers take on the Ravens on Thursday Night Football.  Although I can't wear my jersey to teach, I can wear black and gold!  I wore an Ann Taylor Loft black tweed skirt with a J.Crew yellow and white stripped button down.  But the jersey came out as soon as I got home ;-)


        

GO STEELERS!

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As I mentioned previously, I'm starting a series of posts on work fashion.  Most of the clothes I am featuring come from the online resale shop, Twice (this is a referral link which will get us both $10 off!).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Work Fashion: Monday Pop of Color!

As I mentioned previously, I'm starting a series of posts on work fashion.  Most of the clothes I am featuring come from the online resale shop, Twice (this is a referral link which will get us both $10 off!).


Happy Monday!  I don't know about you, but I have a hard time dragging myself out of bed on a Monday morning!  Saturday and Sunday we let the kids watch tv first thing so we can take a few extra moments of rest.  So glorious.  But that makes Monday quite an abrupt start!  And now that the days are getting shorter, we're all waking up before the sun!  So to counteract my dragging nature on Monday mornings, I put on my newest skirt.  It's a basic cotton skirt from J.Crew in a happy coral color.  It also happens to be one of my biggest steals - only $7 from Twice thanks to a promo they have for getting 50% off your first order through their new Android app!  I paired it with a classic white button down from Ann Taylor and some super comfy shoes from Easy Spirit that I've had since college!

It was still a crazy morning of teaching even with my stellar outfit, but I made it through and even got to eat a meal worm that one of my students brought in as part of a presentation about edible insects!  Never a dull moment with 8th grade boys!  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Work Fashion & Being Observed

So I've been really slacking around here with my work fashion posts!  All last week I was too tired and frazzled to even remember to take pictures.  This week I'm still pretty tired, but did get in a picture yesterday.

But before we get to that, I just want to say how much I hate being observed!  I mean, I'm observed by lots of students each day and that doesn't bother me, but I cannot stand getting observed by outsiders.  I got a bit more comfortable with it at my last job because visitors were so frequent to my classes then, but now I'm out of practice.  I got an email yesterday afternoon from my principal telling me that he would be coming in today for an observation.  Ever since that email I've been so nervous.  I couldn't even fall asleep last night because I was so nervous!

Now I am a bit consoled to know that my extreme nervousness is actually a typical characteristic of a highly sensitive nature.  One of the questions on the self-test reads, "When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise."  Yes, that is me perfectly.  Today I messed up a math problem on the board.  An easy one.  Terribly messed it up.  And I called my class of all girls, "you guys".  And I nearly ran out of time.  None of which is typical for me.  And I still haven't met with the principal to discuss his observation... who knows what else he will point out?!

But enough about that.  What did I wear for all this?  Today I wore the red dress that I blogged about previously.  I paired it with a navy cardigan because it was chilly this morning.  I know cardigans ruin an outfit, but I haven't invested in a nice blazer yet!  Blazers are a tricky fit on my build, so I haven't felt comfortable ordering one from my usual place - Twice*.  No photo from today, though, too many nerves!  I was out the door way early!

But I do have a photo from yesterday.  I wore one of my new J.Crew button downs and new black tweed skirt.  When I say new, I really mean new-to-me from Twice*.  The skirt is not my favorite, but it has pockets and was less than $15, and when you are building a work wardrobe from scratch, that is good enough!


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* This is a referral link that will get you $10 off!  And if you place an order, I get $10 off as well, which I greatly appreciate :-)