Fasting and prayer

These last couple months have been, by far, the most difficult regarding our adoption process. It seems we are "stuck" in the process. Things have pretty much come to a halt. In March we were given the OK to travel despite not having a court date. We would travel to meet our babies and have our POA in Ghana would attend court for us when the time came. Plane tickets were bought and all arrangements made. Then came a devastating email from our agency. The regional director in Ghana said we could not travel. Now, he does not actually have the power to say whether or not we can travel to Ghana but he does have the power over our adoption process. So, needless to say, we cancelled our plans.  We were confused, frustrated, and angry! None of this made any sense but there wasn't anything our agency could do about it. UGH!!! Again, we wait.

For the first time in my Christian walk I was questioning God. Why is this taking so long? What is His will in all this? When will our children come home? Will our children come home?  Silence.  That is what I was getting.  Day after day we have thought about just walking away. The tears, the heart ache, the frustration...it is weighing heavy on all of our hearts.  The only thing I keep hearing from the Lord is...WAIT.  *SIGH*

I have felt myself slowly drifting away from the Lord. My prayers became few and far between, my Bible reading almost non existent, my church attendance was beginning to wane.  On Sunday, I chose to stay home rather than attend church with my family. The thought of fellowshipping and answering questions about our adoption was just overwhelming to me. I turned on live stream and listened to the sermon while cleaning.  It was definitely a time of healing for me. The real blessing came later. First a sweet text from a new friend checking on me and letting me know she is praying for me. Then, later in the evening, a Facebook message from another friend. The one statement from her that sticks in my mind is "Draw nigh my sister in Christ". Yeah, exactly what I wasn't doing! The following day another dear friend texted me and asked if she could pray with me. Wow! The Lord was sending in His army to rescue me from my despair. I got the message and I am grateful for those amazing friends and the rest of my church family for their prayers, encouragement, and support throughout this whole process. I am blessed beyond measure. A special thank you to Melissa, Ashley, and LaSonya. Your words and prayers were a balm to my heart. I love you all dearly!  A special thank you as well to my wonderful husband. He is my rock...always steady, always there to bring me back to earth. I love you babe!

So, here I am, feeling convicted in so many ways. Something needs to change and that something is me! By turning away from God I opened up a big ole door for the enemy and, let me tell you, he let himself right on in! My whole family is being attacked. The devil is tempting us and without God we are falling prey to that temptation. NO MORE! It stops today. Our family will be doing a media fast.  For me that means no Facebook and no Hulu. These are my two biggest downfalls when I am feeling bad. So, my goal is every time I feel the urge to pick up my phone to look at Facebook, instead I will pick up my Bible and read a Psalm. Every time I feel the urge to hide in my bedroom and watch a TV show on Hulu (we don't have cable), instead I will turn on a Hymn and allow God to minister to my heart through song. The kids will also be fasting from electronics. My hope and my prayer is that we will turn to God in our times of distress rather than to the world. That we will draw strength from him. 

James 4:8 says:  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

My dear friends, I ask for your prayers during this time of cleansing for my family. I also ask that you specifically be in prayer for our adoption process from May 5-May 13 which is when the director or our agency will be traveling. We will be doing a media fast until we hear news from Ghana. Please join me in praying that God will hear our plea for a court date and that this will be the news we hear in May.  Thank you!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9


Nissan NV passenger van review

Approximately 18 months ago The General and I started discussing larger vehicles.  We have an 8 passenger Chevy Venture.  This will fit our family.  With 3 car seats, it is tight!  We also can't take any extra people along.  Our second vehicle was a 7 passenger Dodge Durango which we just weren't happy with for many reasons.  So, the search began.

Ford's and Chevy's seemed to be our only options.  The safety options were less than desirable.  No head rests to help prevent whiplash in children who were taller than the seat.  No air bags for those in the back.  Another issue is cargo room.  In a 12 passenger there is VERY LITTLE cargo room behind the last row.  Many families I have talked to recommend getting the 15 passenger and taking out the last row.  Other cons...these vans are loud and hard to work on without taking into a shop.  And, let's be honest, they are not the most attractive vehicle on the road!  Not that important in the grand scheme of things, I know, but a fact none the less.

Fast forward to just before Thanksgiving.  I am browsing Craigslist for vans in our area.  Since we live in a high tourist state, 12 and 15 passenger vans are pretty easy to find.  During my browsing session I came across an odd looking vehicle claiming to be a 12 passenger van.  As I googled this vehicle, I was very impressed.  Click here and check it out!  When my husband came home I showed him what I had found.  He was just as impressed. 

Let the research begin!

The safety standards on this vehicle are top notch.  Each seat has a head rest and its own seat belt.  The curtain side air bags run the full length of the van.  These are unparalleled in a vehicle of this class.

To top it off, it is kind of cool looking too!

Let's talk cargo.  There is definitely more space in the back than it's competitors.
Yesterday I bought about $100 in groceries and they fit fine in the back with room to spare.  Now I don't plan to use this vehicle when I do a large grocery store run.  I will take the little van for that since I can fold the seats down.  But I was happy with the amount I could get back here.  I just stood the stroller up.  There is quite a bit of clearance under those seats!  Oh, and these back doors unlatch and swing all the way open to the side.  They are held there by a magnet!
The really awesome thing about these vehicles is that the seats can be configured 324 ways!!!  Crazy!!!  You see the split in those back seats?  Each row has that split so you can take out, rearrange, whatever suits you.  We like taking road trips and plan to do plenty once we are back on the mainland.  When we do that we will be taking out half of the back row.  That still gives us 8 seats in the back for 6 kids.  And it will give us plenty of cargo room for our stuff. 
Now, we didn't get all crazy and get the top of the line model they show on the website.  We have the 3500 SV with the V6 engine.  We discussed the V8 because we do plan to pull a camper at some point.  After some research we feel the V6 will perform just fine and save us on gas. The seats are cloth, not leather, but they are not the type of cloth you see in a "regular" vehicle.  These seem very easy to wipe down and I get the idea that they wouldn't stain easy.  Haven't tested that theory out yet but I am sure I will in the future.   We did get the tech package.  I definitely recommend this.  My biggest fear with a large van was backing up.  With the tech package you get a back up camera.  LOVE THIS! 
As you can see above, we chose to take out the head rests in the middle.  This will be where the car seats go so they are not necessary at this time. (Side note:  there are 5 seats with the tethering system for car seats.  The middle seats have the anchor on the back of the seat and the anchors on each side of the seat.)  With the head rests in there is zero visibility out of the rear window.  Now, the side mirrors more than compensate for this but I am a creature of habit and I like to use my rear view mirror. 

Love that each seat has it's own seat belt rather than stretching from the roof across to the seat.  Also, the two seats you see in the above picture are "single" seats and can be removed to make a bigger isle.
Tons of space up front.  Since the engine is all out front there is more leg room and the cabin area stays cooler.  That center console you see...it is HUGE.  I am pretty sure my 2 year old could sit in there!
I also recommend checking out this blog.  She gives a great review and pictures of the inside with lots of car seats. 
Overall, I feel this van doesn't even compare to the Ford and Chevy.  It seems to be in a class of its own.  I highly recommend this for large families...at least those who don't need more than 12 seats! :-)

Vehicles, vacations, and adoption

I have debated doing this post for a few days now. 

When we first started the adoption process I must have read 100 or more blogs.  I was "friending" other adoptive mamas on facebook and creating a community of like minded people. 

On occasion I would read a blog or a post about a family going on vacation or making a large purchase and I would wonder, how can they do that while trying to save for an adoption?  I would judge.  I would assume they had tons of money.  I was being human...but wrong.

Many of you saw my facebook post a few days ago about buying a new vehicle.  Some of you may have even looked up this vehicle (because it is unique and you were just curious) and saw that it is not cheap.  Some of you may have wondered how we are doing this.  Some of you may have even thought, "is this where my money is going that I have donated to this family?"  Now, I could be wrong about all of this but the truth is, we are all human. 

My first thought was that it was not any of your business.  Then I realized that is not entirely true.  In the past year and a half we have done fundraisers and asked for you donations.  Right now, our finances are your business.  So, let me tell you a little about our decision.

My husband and I have been discussing vehicles since we started the adoption process.  Once we decided to adopt siblings we realized that a 12 or 15 passenger van was probably in our future.  We had been researching Chevy's and Ford's for a very long time.  Comparing prices, safety features, and other options.  My husband is in the military so he has seen many large passenger vans.  He was less than thrilled with the idea of owning one.  He agreed that it would be nice to have the space but just didn't like the vans.  We discussed large SUV's.  I had been researching on Craigslist here and in the different states that we may get stationed when we leave here.  We planned to buy an older used van and hopefully pay cash.  One day, as I was browsing Craigslist for the umpteenth time, I came across a vehicle that looked kind of like an SUV.  I started just to scroll by it when I saw the words 12 PASSENGER underneath.  I clicked on the picture and saw a Nissan NV 12 passenger van.  I googled this van and showed my husband that night.  He was very impressed and actually excited about this prospect.  The only negative...it is a new vehicle.  We didn't have the option to buy used.  We discussed, researched, test drove, discussed more.  After a few weeks we decided this was the best option for our family.

Now for the financial part.  Currently we have an older Chevy minivan that we bought here in Hawaii.  We also had a Dodge Durango that we bought a few years ago and regretted doing so shortly after.  We were still paying on the Durango and it wouldn't even fit our family once our Ghana kids come home.  So, we traded it in.  We did not have a down payment (due to every extra penny going towards the adoption).  We were able to get 100% financing, our Durango paid off, and keep our payments in an affordable range.  We are also quite fortunate, due to being military, that we can get a waiver of sorts for the registration fee.  So rather than almost $500 we only pay $25.  So, as you can see, very little out of pocket expense and once the adoption is paid we plan to make large payments to get this vehicle paid off ASAP.

Rest assured that any money donated to us goes to adoption related fees.  We wouldn't dream of using it for other purposes.  And, quite honestly, life must go on.  I don't think families should completely drop everything in order to adopt.

Hope this clears up any questions some of you may have had.  Now, if you are in the market for a passenger van, stay tuned.  I plan to write a review about our vehicle very soon!


3 months...

Do you ever open up your email and get butterflies every time you see a certain name?  Right now that is what happens whenever I see the name K***** M*****, our social worker.  Now, she doesn't always bring good news but it still brings a smile to my face, my heart skips a beat, and those butterflies kick in when I see her name in my inbox.  You see, when you have been waiting this long to bring home a child/ren you have never touched, hugged, kissed, or talked to...every bit of news is exciting.  Today, I received 2 emails.  The first one was letting me know KM had received the rest of the paperwork we needed to complete our dossier.  And, just to show you how awesome our SW is....the next email, a couple hours later said this:  "And it's off to Ghana!"
The pic of our dossier KM sent with her last email. :-)

It is an amazing thing when 5 simple words can completely make my day, can make me smile every time I think of them, give me butterflies every time I think of what they mean.
So, you may be thinking, what do they mean?  Simply put, I get to see my babies soon!  The more complex answer...this packet of papers, a biography of sorts, is on it's way to our POA in Ghana.  Our POA will take this packet to the regional director (have no idea who this guy, or girl, is!) in Volta, which is the region of Ghana our children are in.  This director person will process everything (whatever that means) and issue us a court date.  At that time our agency will call or email us to see if the court date will work for us.  If it will (I can't imagine it won't), then we start making our travel arrangements!  Unfortunately there is no clear timeline for this process(HA!  Like that is a shock!).  It can be anywhere from 2 to 3 months with 3 months being more the average.   So, prayerfully, we will be traveling to Ghana to see our precious little ones sometime in January, maybe sooner!  That may seem far away to many of you but after 18 months of excitement, tears, road blocks, detours, tears, joy, fear...3 months is a balm to my heart.  In 3 months I will see this amazing country my children were born in.  In 3 months I will smell, taste, and live their culture.  In 3 months I will look into two sets of dark brown eyes.  I will breathe in the sent of two precious beings the Lord has brought to our family.  I will touch, hug, squeeze two little people who have lived far too long without a mother or father.  In 3 months our family of 6 will grow to a family of 8.  *SIGH*  3 months....

"Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the earth hear HIS voice, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father through Jesus the Son and give HIM the GLORY, great things HE hath done!"


Out with the old...

...In with the new!

With the anticipation of our 2 newest members arriving in the next 6 months or so I have been cleaning, organizing, simplifying, re-organizing and just trying to get our house in order before our world gets turned upside down.  We had a yard sale and got rid of most our stuff. Today I am cleaning out the school room and we are getting some new curriculum so I am listing LOTS of great curriculum.  Here it is:

CLE Reading 1
I Wonder book, Light Units 101-105 ***No marks, new***

CLE Language Arts 3
Teachers Guide and Light Units 306-310. No markings in these at all.

CLE Language Arts 4
Answer keys, Light Units 402-410 ***I have doubles of units 406-410*** Unit 402 has been slightly used. I have either erased or used white out on most of it but may have missed some. This is only on the first few lessons. It is also missing the first list of spelling words that can be cut out from the back. I am still searching for the quizzes and test...I know they are around here somewhere!

CLE Reading 4
Bridges Beyond book, answer key, and Light Units 404 and 405. I also have the quizzes and test for unit 3 that I will throw in.

CLE Social Studies 4
Into All the World text book, student map pack (for 2 students) in a 3 ring binder, 2 copies of the Teacher's Guide, Light Units 401-410 (2 copies of each unit), one copy of the answer keys. ***Both copies of units 401-2 have been lightly used. Lessons 1-15 for 401 have been written in with pencil, but 402 is clear. The books also have my children's names on the front.***

CLE Bible Elective I-Acts Through Revelation
Teachers Guide and Light Unit 5

CLE Reading 5
Open Windows book, answer key, Light Units 504 and 505 ***no writing or other marks***

CLE Bible 5
Teachers Guide and Light Unit 505 ***no writing or other marks***

CLE Language Arts 5
Answer keys and Light Units 502-510. ***Unit 502 has writing in the first two lessons, pencil only. I may or may not remember to have my oldest erase it. ***

CLE Research Paper I and II ***no writing or marks***

CLE Science 6
Answer keys, Light Units 601-610 ***I have duplicates of all the Light Units. The first few pages in both Light Units 601 have writing in pen and/or pencil. It is very minimal and can be erased or whited (is that a word?) out***

CLE Bible 7
Answer Keys, Light Units 710-710 ***Light Unit 701 does have writing, pen, in the first few lessons and is missing the test.***

God's Design For Life science series
The Human Body, The Animal Kingdom, and The World of Plants ***There are some pencil marks in 2 of the books, very minor.***

Math U See:

Beta-Instruction manual (spiral bound), DVD, and Test booklet (has all tests)
Gamma-Instruction manual (spiral bound), DVD, and Test booklet (missing tests 1-6)
Delta-Instruction manual (newer version, not spiral bound), DVD, and Test booklet (has all tests)
Epsilon-Instruction manual (newer version, not spiral bound), DVD, test booklet, and Student Text (missing 2 or 3 lsns for 1-12, starting in 13 all lessons are there)

Mystery of History
Volume I text, CD Audio set, Through the Ages timeline book (Beautiful!!! Has some figures already glued and minimal writing), Through the Ages timeline packet (over 250 black and white timeline figures with name, date, and descriptive text), CD Printable Reproducibles, 3 ring binder of multiple copies of maps printed out, Folder book (lap book) figures printed on card stock in triplicates. I used to have the Folder book CD but I seem to have just the case right now. If I find the CD I will ship it out no extra charge. This is a great set and much of the work has been done for you!!!

HOD-Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory
I also have the following resources to go with this: God's Wonderful Works (Science), American Pioneers and Patriots, Stories of the Pilgrims, Boys and Girls of Colonial Days. ***No marks, new***

Leave a comment or message me on facebook for prices!  Thanks for looking!


Financial Disclosure

We have had many questions about the cost of adoption lately.  That is understandable.  When you donate to something you want to know where your money is going.  To the right you will see different pages.  Click on the one that says financial disclosure.  I tried to break down the fees to show you exactly where the money is going.  Hope this helps but if you have any questions feel free to ask!

God is in the details!

So much has happened in the last few days regarding adoption finances.  As mentioned in a previous post, our agency was requiring us to pay $9500 before they would send our dossier to Ghana.  We have been desperately trying to raise this money to get our process moving again.  A couple days ago I emailed our agency letting them know we would be sending $6000 this week and asking if that was enough to get our dossier sent.  Later that same day a dear friend (and adoptive mama) called me with an offer.  After talking to her husband they decided to loan us the rest of the money to get our dossier in the mail!  I was shocked and in tears.  Normally we would not consider taking a loan from friends but at this point we were just so desperate to get things moving and get our babies home.  Now, I mentioned there was a small contingency.  They needed to sell their mini van first.  Once that happened they would send the money to our agency.  Praise God, He moved that mountain!  But wait, there is more....
Yesterday I received an email back from our agency.  They were willing to accept the $6000 and send off our dossier.  Another concern we had was that the rest of our fees, equaling $14,000, were going to be due before the first trip.  YIKES!  Once again, God had this the whole time.  We were told that those fees wouldn't be due until the last trip.  WHEW!  A huge burden has been lifted.  (Needless to say, we will not be taking a loan from our friends but we are very grateful to them for the offer!)
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22
Now we can focus on getting the money for travel, which will happen approximately 2-3 months after our dossier is sent.  For this first trip I am estimating we will need about $6000. This covers round trip flights from Turkey (planning to get there free via space a flights with the military), hotels in Ghana, food, transportation, visa fees for the kids, and spending money. Our goal is to have $10,000 by the time we travel.  $6000 for us and the rest towards agency fees. So, how can you help?  Well, over the next few months we will have a couple things going on.  We will continue to promote our puzzle fundraiser and would greatly appreciate it if you would share it with others as well. In November I will be hosting another Thirty One party and my consultant has, once again, offered to give all profit to our adoption fund.  Most importantly, as cliche as this may sound, we need and covet your prayers!
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.  1 John 5:14