Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday: Use Somebody

There are some songs that generate that warm sappy feeling in you.  This is not one of them.

I love this song.  I really do.  But...

You know, music is the soundtrack of our lives.  And the particular day that this played in the background of my life was one of the hardest days of my life.  Our life. 

Three years ago...the day after my birthday.  Adam had been gone for 3 months.  Basic training (grumble, grumble, stinkin' Army--more on that later). 

We had just spent the most amazing (and fast!) 36 hours together.  Happy birthday to me!  And then I had to leave...

Dropping him off and driving away.  Which feels so wrong and against everything my heart wanted.

Crying Bawling my guts out the whole way back to the hotel room.  Alone.

You know I could use somebody, somebody like you

Friday, February 24, 2012

If We Only Had More...

The day after the Super Bowl, I came across an interesting interaction on Facebook.  It all started with this.  Someone posted something to the effect of, "Did we seriously just give a guy who gets paid $2 million a game plus (about $15 million a year on endorsements) a new car?"  For real?  (Whhhyyy?  Anyone know how much that car cost?  $72,000.  I just threw up a little.)

In response to the above post that someone put on Facebook, someone commented and said that, last year, he spent $200,000 on vehicles and his wife spent $4,000 on shoes.

We live in a country where our priorities are JACKED UP! 

Last year, the pastor at our church gave a great sermon that basically came down to the point that we all feel like we would DO more, BE more, HELP more if we only HAD more.  No.  No.  NO!  God wants to know what we're doing with what we've got.  With what we've been given.  Why would He (or anyone, really?) choose to bless us with more if we are foolishly squandering what we've already been given?!

I'm going to just do some quick calculations based on the $72,000 cost of the car that Mr. Manning got.  Mostly because I'm not good at "big math" and I'm not sure that I can face the results of what I'm about to tell you.

With $72,000, we could...

Build 12 wells to provide fresh water to people in Zambia
Build 24 wells to provide fresh water to folks in Haiti

Buy 4500 chickens for families (thus providing meat and eggs)

Buy 720 cows for families (providing meat and milk)

 Provide formula to 300 babies for one year

Buy 7200 mosquito nets, to help prevent malaria

Provide 1384 children with vaccinations up to age 5

I could go on and on and on.  With tears streaming down my face.  And guilt in my heart.  And, I know, some of you will say, "Yeah, that's great.  But I don't have $72,000."  Yeah.  Me neither.

But how many times have I purchased a $4 cup of coffee?
How much does it cost to get my hair highlighted?
How much have we spent on a "nice" dinner out?


This week, I encourage you to take a close look at your priorities.  Where are you spending your time, your money, and your attention?  We could all do more.  With what we already have.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Love Never Fails

I'd heard it before at weddings.  It always made me cringe.  In fact, I think I heard it at every wedding I'd ever been to.  You've heard it too..."Love is patient, love is kind, blah, blah, yada, ya."  It always seemed so...sappy.  Like, so sweet that maybe you might have to throw up in your mouth a little.  I had always said that I would never have someone read or say this at my wedding.

God is funny.

When Adam was at basic training for 4 months, we got to talk on the phone for, I think, a grand total of 45 minutes.  Yup, you read that right.  45.  Minutes.  Most of which was the highlights of my disasterous life back home...where the heat went out (with a wind chill of 20 below) and my car battery died (because of the cold) and someone crashed into his car (then there was an ice storm).  All conversations take place where it sounds like my beloved is in the bottom of a tin can.  A tin can full of about a hundred other people.  Fun.

We usually talk every day.  We talk about everything.  We talk about nothing.  But we talk.  We check in.  We send cutesy little texts. 

We had to learn a different way.  Which, in the end, was a little fun.  Not my preference.  But a different kind of fun. 

One of the things I did for the Valentine's Day when he was gone was that I wrote out the entire verse of I Corinthians 13:4-8a.  Yup, the one that made me figuratively puke in my mouth.  As I was reading it, there were something that stuck out for me.  A lot of things that stuck out for me.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Did you catch that? ALWAYS protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Always. And I'm pretty sure that God's idea of ALWAYS is a bit more vast than what I can even comprehened! Wait, that last NEVER fails. Whoa. Big stuff. Profound stuff. Life-changing stuff. Love-changing stuff. 

The only problem was that I wrote it on an index card in red Sharpie marker.  Not knowing that, for a very long time during basic training, Adam would only have a red flashlight to read his mail at night. 

Red flashlight + red Sharpie = invisible ink.  Dang it.

He called one night and said, "Why did you send me a blank index card?" 

On our wedding day, I gave all of my bridesmaids necklaces that said, "Love never fails" on them. 

And here is my best friend, Jessica, reading the verse at our wedding.

God is funny.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lurkers, Identify Yourself!

According to Wikipedia, a lurker is "a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, chatroom, file sharing, social networking site, listening to people on Skype or Ventrilo or other interactive system, but rarely or never participates actively.  Did you know that lurkers make up about 90% of all online groups?  Wikipedia also cites "lack of trust" as the reason why more people don't participate in these groups. 

This makes me sad.

In the roughly 6 weeks since the start of our blog, it has been viewed almost 500 times!  I've only had about 10 comments, and I only have 5 followers.  Weird.  Because, unless those same 5 people are reading my blog over and over and over....that means....that other people MUST be reading it! 

So come out!  Identify yourself!  Your comments and questions about life and adoption are welcome!  Leave a message on my FB page (since I think that's how most of you are finding the blog)!  Let me know who you are! 

Music Monday: Better Together

But there is not enough time,
And there is no, no song I could sing
And there is no combination of words I could say
But I will still tell you one thing
We're better together.

Crunchy, fall leaves.  Driving in the car.  Our first real date.  Falling in love. 

And knowing...we're better together.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Big Easy

I had the distinct pleasure of being the recipient of a grant that allowed me to go to New Orleans for a two-day national school social work conference.  The grant covered my hotel, rental car, and conference registration.  Pretty amazing, really.

The best part was that Adam was able to go with me.  So we got to spend four whole days together, touring New Orleans. 

Here are some highlights:

Eating and drinking our lunch at Pat O'Brien's.  The weather was amazing (high 60s), so we sat outside in the sun.  Adam had Crawfish Etouffee and I had homemade Crawfish Cakes.  YUM!  Of course, we both had a famous Pat O'Brien's hurricane.  And then stumbled back on to the street again.  (I hope I never get over the LOVE of seeing Adam wearing a wedding ring...dreamy sigh.)

Hanging out in the sun...checking out art vendors.  People native to New Orleans were bundled up in coats and sweaters.  I think it was like 35 degrees when we left Indiana, so we were loving the weather!

Adam was concerned about the size of his head in proportion to mine in the previous picture.  We were trying to balance out the size of our heads in this picture.  (He'll be thrilled that I shared this with you.)

Across the street from Cafe Du Monde

Waiting in the epic line for beignets at Cafe Du Monde.  Well worth the wait!  ('Cause, seriously, who doesn't LOVE freshly made doughnut-like creations covered in powdered sugar!)

Finally at a table!  Ready for beignets!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Soy Ashley

This is Ashley.  She's amazing.  (And stunning, dontcha think?) 
She's the very first vegetarian that I ever met. 
I've known her a long time.  And seen her once. 
Weird, huh?

This is Ashley and her fiance, John. 
Can you tell that this is the day they got engaged?

Ashley supports adoption. 
She was the first person to donate to our adoption using the PayPal link on our blog.
Ashley has been one of my biggest cheerleaders in the journey towards our "brown babies." 

A little introduction to Ashley...from Ashley:

My name is Ashley Schulze, and I am in my third year at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. (Did you catch that?  She's on her way to being a DOCTOR!)  I speak Spanish and hope to put it to good use by working with Latino patient populations, probably in family medicine, once I graduate. (I told you she was amazing...what an awesome, giving heart!)  I am engaged to be married in August 2012. I love dancing. And I have a pet fish named Mika.

Tell us, Ashley, where do you currently live?:
Seattle, Washington, althought I'm currently in Othello, Washington on my family medicine rotation for 6 weeks.

Any particular reason that you just gave a donation instead of purchasing Loaves of Love bread?:

I actually didn’t get any bread, because I’m gluten free.  I think bread is wonderful. I miss eating it, so I’m living vicariously through those who are able to enjoy bread in celebration of Lacey and Adam’s desire to adopt.  If I had bought some, I could have given it to my fiancĂ©, but I wanted to save the Millers the postage money that they would have spent mailing it all the way to Seattle. I just donated to the worthy cause!

Why do you support adoption?:

Why NOT support adoption? There are more precious children in this world than there are parents to take care of them, so more power to those noble souls who choose to open their homes to needy kids. Adoptive parents provide safe, happy homes to children that are equally deserving and who have the potential to grow into adults who will have untold impacts on the future. By adopting, parents can ensure that these kids are given the chance to fulfill their greatest potential and, in doing so, make the world a better place. (Amen, sistah.)
How did we meet, Ashley?:
I met Lacey through one of HOBY Leadership's  summer trips to Israel and Jordan in 2000.  We have been faithful pen pals ever since! 
What kind of parents do you think Adam and I will be?:
Lacey is a marvelous person, and I know she will make a phenomenal role model and parent. I deeply respect her morals and values and especially the fact that she always stands up for what is right. She is a hard worker, a dear friend, and is so considerate of others. I haven’t met Adam yet, but by Lacey’s standards, he must be one awesome guy, and I can’t wait to meet him. Together, the Millers will raise some outstanding children!
(Boy, this girl is good for the self-esteem!)
Ashley, thank you so much for your financial and emotional support of our adoption of our brown babies.  I am blessed and honored to call you "friend."  You inspire me to be a better person.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It Takes a Village

Adoption is a team effort. 

I have been continuously amazed by people who love us, love our babies, and want to help.  Here are some ways to help:

1.  Get the word out!  Tell people about us.  Tell others about our goal.  I have been shocked and awed by how many people are connected to adoption!

2.  Share our blog with others.  Link to us on your blog or your Facebook page.

3.  Subscribe to our blog.  If you have a Gmail account, you should be able to subscribe.  If you don't have a Google ID...get one!   

4.  Are you crafty?  We're hoping to set up an Etsy store in the near future to help with fundraising.  Donations would be welcome!

5.  We would like, again, at some point, to be able to have an online auction.  Have items that you would like to donate?  Have connections to businesses who might want to donate?

6.  Pray for us.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart.  Pray for God's provision for finances, protection (for us and our babies), guidance, wisdom, you name it...we probably need it.

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."  ~John Lennon

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Monday: I Will Wait for You There

I feel like I spend a lot of time waiting. 

Waiting to finish school.  Waiting to start my own business.  Waiting to get married.  Waiting to buy a house.  Waiting to start our family.  Waiting for Adam to leave.  Waiting to start school again.  Waiting for Adam to get home.  Waiting for our babies who are on the other side of the world.

I heard this song a few months back and it just really hit my heart.  The waiting in the song refers to being able to meet God in that place of worship.  And it made me think of all the other forms of waiting. 

I will wait for long as I have life....

For my husband. For my babies. For the waiting.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Say What?

I was watching the news several weeks ago.  Our local news station featured a very heartwarming and tear-inducing story about several families who were in the process of adopting from Vietnam.  Unfortunately, due to many different circumstances, it took almost 3 years to complete the adoption and bring these babies home to their families.  As they were interviewing one of the mommas, she said, "His birth mom gave him up, and I won't do that.  I won't give up." 

And I stoppped.  Frozen.  Horrified.  Gave him up.  Ick.  My heart ached as I heard those words.  Adoption is born out of tragedy.  The circumstances that lead to adoption are heartbreaking.  Every.  Single.  Doggone.  Time. 

So, I share the following post from American Adoptions:

A New Year's Resolution: Using Positive Adoption Language
It's that time of year. You've committed to that diet. This will be the year you stop drying laundry on the treadmill and start running on it. And you're going to start paying more attention to recycling. But how about a new year's resolution related to adoption?
Words can be very powerful things. Although you may not know it, some of the adoption language commonly heard today can actually have a very negative effect on adoption, as well as adopted children, adoptive families and birth parents.
The way we speak about adoption helps others form their opinion of adoption. It can also impact how an adopted child feels about their adoption and identity. For example, referring to your child as your "adopted son" or "adopted daughter" could make them feel as if they don't truly belong to your family, a feeling that could greatly impact a child's self-esteem.
In addition, one very commonly used phrase regarding birth parents is that they "gave up" or "gave away" their child for adoption. This negative term implies that the birth parents didn't care about their child - when, in reality, birth parents choose adoption out of nothing but love for their child. Instead of this negative language, say that a birth parent "placed their child for adoption" or that they "made an adoption plan." This positive language more accurately reflects the situation, without painting a negative picture of birth parents.
According the U.S. Census, 1 in 25 households with children has at least one adopted child. An even greater ratio of people have certainly been touched by adoption through friends and extended families.

That's why we're promoting the use of positive adoption language as a new year's resolution. It's up to us to change the conversation among our friends and families and in our schools and communities. Below is a list of some commonly used negative adoption language and the positive phrases that should be used in their place:
Negative: Real parent
Positive: Birth parent, birth mother, birth father
Negative: Give up/give away child for adoption
Positive: Place child for adoption, make an adoption plan
Negative: To keep
Positive: To parent
Negative: Unwanted child
Positive: Child placed for adoption
Negative: Is adopted
Positive: Was adopted
Negative: Adoptive parent
Positive: Parent
Negative: Handicapped
Positive: Child with special needs
Negative: Illegitimate
Positive: Born to unmarried parents
Your words have power.  Use them wisely.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Say, Why Are You Doing That Anyway?

I love kids.  I am surrounded by kids most of my working hours.  And then I come home to my kittens.  Who, if any of you have had the distinct pleasure to meet Hazel, Luna, and Klara, you know how very much they are like kids.  Kids who potty in a box, but kids nonetheless.  But I digress. 

Once a week, I have the honor to work in a school.  It's a small school.  With good kids.  And great teachers.  And awesome families.  I love it.  I want my kids to go to this school.  I want YOUR kids to go to this school. 

My particular school has started a school-wide program that highlights family values.  One of the topics is about how God creates different kinds of families.  Which includes adoption (yippee!).  Several weeks ago, one of the teachers asked if she could mention to the kids that Adam (referred to at school as "Mr. Miller") and I were planning to adopt.  I said, "Absolutely!"  I love being able to share this story and start the conversation with anyone who will you are well aware.  It's a chance to educate.

Fast forward a few weeks.  I was working with a particular class and, before I leave, I always tell them when I'll be back to see them.  Due to schedules, it was going to be about a month in between visits.  This classroom has a child in it with some special needs, one of which elminates a good portion of his mental filter (combined with being a kid...and we all know that kids have generally malfunctioning mental filters, as it is).  And he said, "Is that when you're going to be gone to adopt your other child?"  He caught me off guard.  I didn't know that this particular class knew about the adoption.  And what's this mention of our "other child?"  (Maybe he's heard rumors about the kittens!)  I got my bearings about me and said, "No, that's just when I'll be back to see you."  Then he asked, "When are you going to adopt your other child?"  And I honestly replied, "You know, we don't know.  But it'll be a while.  And we'll let you know when we do." 

Then the Million Dollar Question.  "Say, why are you doing that anyway?"  Absolute silence in the classroom.  Mrs. Miller (my teacher name) on the spot.  All ears listening.  A bazillion reasons go through my head.  I quickly sift through them to come up with one that is easy for kids to understand.  And I just said, "Well, Mr. Miller and I just want to be a Mom and Dad for a kid that doesn't have a Mom and a Dad.  Do you think that's a good idea?" 

A classroom full of little heads nod "yes."  Murmurs of approval.  Sigh of relief from Mrs. Miller. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Killing a Conversation

I have not found a better way to kill a conversation than to tell someone else that my husband is getting deployed.  There.  I said it.  Deployed.  I also have not found a word that, when I say it, makes me feel like I've been punched in the stomach, can't breath, and need to vomit.  Deployed. 

Someone asked me what our timeline for adoption is.  Hhhmm...good question.  I know what MY timeline is.  I also know that the Army doesn't usually never asks what my schedule looks like when they schedule things like deployments.  Or weddings. 

I remember when Adam enlisted.  I had just finished graduate school and was looking forward to settling in, relaxing, taking it easy.  (Excuse me, while I laugh myself silly at this point.  Just give me a minute.  I'll be fine.)  Adam came home from work one day and said, "What do you think about me joining the National Guard?"  I was reading something at the time.  I took a brief minute and, looking over my magazine, said, ""  When he sat down on the couch and said, "I think this is something that I really need to do," my first thought was, "Oh, shit.  We're really gonna do this, huh?" 

Because, the reality is that this what relationships are all about.  You support me when I do crazy things (suggest we spend money we don't have and fly clear across the world to bring children into our family) and I'll support you when you do crazy things (like join the Army).  That's life.  That's our commitment to each other. 

So, when people ask, "When is Adam deploying?" the short answer is, "Heck if I know!"  Right now, it's looking like probably sometime this summer.  To where, you may ask?  Either Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, or "somewhere in Africa."  (If you're anything like me, when you hear the words "somewhere in Africa," you may be thinking, "Well, see if he can pick up a baby on the way home!")  How long will be gone?  Probably, about a year, give or take 6 months on either side.  See where this whole "adoption timeline" thing is a bit t-ricky? 

Deployment has it's benefits.  Number one, it's what Adam wants to do.  Number two, it's what Adam's been trained to do.  Number three, we get adoption benefits ($2,000 per adoption) if he deploys.  Number four, it gives us the opportunity to save a lot of money while he's gone (for adoption).  The risks, though few, are overwhelming and take my breath away. 

So, if you ask me, our adoption timeline--including a 12-month deployment and the purchase of our first home--is that we will have a Miller baby in our house sometime by 2014.  But check wtih the Army and see what they have in mind.