Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a....

MINNESOTA CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to several people who are helping us get home, Caleb and I will (Lord willing) be flying to MN the last few days of November and spending the month of December with family and friends in the States!!  I could not be more excited - it has been a year and half since we were back last.  Caleb was 17 months the last time he was around family or in the States...and has changed so much in that time!  

Caleb with Auntie Renee & cousins Summer 2011
This will also be his first Christmas with family.  The plan is for Steve to join us around the end of December and stay 10 days, flying back with us to Korea.

The reason we are headed back is especially exciting:  Our sister Renee is getting married December 21!   Congratulations again, Renee and Chris! We received your wedding invitation yesterday and can not wait to celebrate with you!

For several weeks I've been thinking of all the people I can't wait to catch up with, all the places I can't wait to go, things to do and restaurants to eat at! There are a lot of people and things we miss about Minnesota and I'm not sure we can cram it all in in only 5 short weeks but we're going to try!

I think seeing family, going to the wedding and spending Christmas with everyone is for sure at the very top of my list of things I'm excited about....seeing friends and our former small group is also at the top of the list...as far as things to do, I can't wait to SHOP AT TARGET!!!!! Oh my goodness I can't wait to shop at Target. GO TO BETHLEHEM BAPTIST CHURCH AGAIN!!! Be able to ask for anything I want in English!! Go to the grocery store and read all the labels and be able to find everything! Chop down a real Christmas tree with Caleb and my family, try to go to the Bethel Christmas concert, the Macy's exhibit, the Macy's parade, go to Mall of America, go to Rosedale Mall, walk into William Sanoma and take a deep breath of  nummy smells, have a DECAF coffee at a coffee shop, go to Panera Bread, go to Caribou, eat at Ruby Tuesday's salad bar, go to Herman's bakery with my parents, Albertville Mall, go to some big thrift stores, get bagels at Brueggers, visit the Copper Dome and our old neighborhood, walk down memory lane with Steve at the Egg and I (where we met every Friday morning while we were dating to have a Bible study over breakfast before work), eat our mom's home cooked meals.....If you want to join me in doing any of these exciting things, please let me know! I would love to have some company!  :)  

I can't wait to see many of you in, Lord willing, TWO SHORT WEEKS!!!!!! Please be in prayer everything works out smoothly (we will be trying to fly standby) and for safety as we travel (I'll be traveling alone at 31 weeks pregnant with an almost 3 year old...I'm more worried about the pregnant and flying part than the toddler part, I think Caleb is going to LOVE flying, unlike his  mommy who HATES it).  And a HUGE thank you to the people who helped make it possible for us to fly home, those who got us stand by tickets and those who paid for them - it really means more than you know!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Moving Week!

We found out on Saturday that we are moving THIS Thursday!  We were able to go see the new apartment so we can at least picture where we will be living, which is nice.  It is about a 10-15 minute walk from our current apartment, a little closer to Church than we are now.  It seemed a little newer than our current apartment, which is nice (and we hope that  means less mold!).  It is actually fairly similar to our apartment now but a little bit smaller (especially the master bedroom) and has one bathroom instead of two. We are really thankful it has a bathtub though (!!!!) because not all apartments do...it also has a really big (Korean style) closed in porch which will be nice during nice weather and an open layout similar to our apartment now. We hope to go back and be able to measure to see if we can fit all our furniture in the new apartment or if we will need to be getting rid of some and if so, what.  Caleb's room is an odd shape (long and narrow) so we're hoping it can fit a bunkbed at some point.  We really didn't get a lot of time to look around so we are really hoping we can get back in tomorrow (Tuesday) to get a better feel for things and decide where to put things and then hoping we can get in Wednesday to clean before we move all our things in.

The Church is hiring a moving company for us, which is really, really nice and a huge blessing.  We have been told that they will "pack everything for us and move it" so hoping that is the case.  We are going through a lot of stuff and packing all our breakables and valuables ourselves, also trying to organize and throw things out.  Since the new place is a little smaller, we are trying to consolidate - plus moving is just a great opportunity to get rid of clutter and junk anyway!

It feels really overwhelming to go through everything in a short amount of time and also to decide what furniture to take and what to not take etc so we would love your prayers for energy, focus, and peace in this time!  The move in general has been really hard for me to handle...I think pregnancy probably just makes it feel even worse than it is.  It is hard to have no control over having to move out of your home. It is hard to have no choice in where you are moving TO or what your new home is like.  It is especially hard to be moving at 7+ months pregnant when the only thing I want to do is hunker down in my home and nest....moving to a new home just feels really hard because, well, this (old) apartment is our home and it is where I want to stay!  Trying to trust that the Lord has our best in this and would love your prayers in that area.  Also, just prayers to be able to surrender "control" of life over to the Lord instead of trying to cling so hard to it.  And, of course, prayers that we can get everything done and organized in an efficient and timely way, as well as for the unpacking and settling IN process to go well!  Caleb is fairly unsettled about it all too and is asking a lot of questions (mostly worried that all of his stuff will come with us!) and saying he doesn't want to move....so if you could pray for his little heart and mind to be excited about it and not worry and that he would adjust quickly and well to his new home (and that Mommy's emotions wouldn't show through but that I could convey and model excitement and trust to him).  We are hoping we can get all settled in and that it will start feeling like "home" before we leave for the States (Lord willing Nov. 30!).

We would really value your prayers this week and in the weeks to come for all of these areas, both practical and emotional, and all the logistics of the move itself.  We'll try to report back soon and maybe have a few pictures of our new home!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2nd Trimester Baby Bump


We are nearing the end of our second trimester with Baby Girl.  So far, second trimester has been harder than first so here's to hoping third trimester is the easiest yet! 


As is to be expected, this pregnancy is flying by (much faster than Caleb's!) and it is hard to believe we are almost into the third trimester already. Baby is fairly active (although not as constant as Caleb was), I'm starting to crave sweets for the first time since becoming pregnant (they were making me sick previously) and I'm definitely starting to feel big. I'm fairly confident she is in a horrible position right now so am working to get her to move!!  I'm not too worried about it though, she still has time to get her act together!.  We have our 4th prenatal appointment next week and we will do the glucose testing and hopefully get a letter from the doctor clearing me to fly through beginning of January.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We're Moving

We found out last week that we are moving...or rather, we are being moved.  Not by choice and the news came with much tears from this over-emotional-pregnant-with-a-girl mama.  The Landlord who owns our current apartment has decided to sell our apartment so we really have no choice in the matter.  We have lived in this apartment for almost two years (in a few weeks) and we have really liked it. There were a number of things that were really hard moving over here and a number of things that were not as we expected them to be but again and again the past two years we have said "at least we like our apartment!"  Despite things like our purple toilet and the mold and the goofy wallpaper, we have been thrilled to have a bathtub (many apartments here don't), to have an open layout that is conducive to all the people we host in our home and an over-active two year old (most apartments are not very open) , to have three bedrooms, to have a lot of porch space, a kitchen that is nicer than many Korean apartments with lots of cupboards, an oven (not all apartments have one) and a lot of sunshine throughout the day.  We've been spoiled. And our apartment has come to be home to us.

I know in the big scheme of things, a new apartment really isn't a big deal (hey- we have a place to live, right?) but this has felt hard and I am praying the Lord gives me the ability to fully trust Him in this and trust that He will provide and care for us. Will you pray for my heart to trust Him in this?  It is incredibly hard to have no/little say over where you live and where "home" will be.  Will you pray the Church is able to find us a comparable apartment? Will you pray that I can accept wherever we are moved with a good attitude and that we can settle in quickly? Will you pray for all the logistics and timing and for peace in moving (I get really overwhelmed by moving and all it entails). 

The move also comes at a hard time - we are supposed to leave to travel to the States in a little over a month to spend 5 weeks with family. We will return a little over a month from our due date.  It's hard to think about needing to move our whole apartment and get settled into a new one somewhere in that time frame.  The Church does not have a new place for us yet (they are looking) so the ideal (in our minds) I guess would be to find a place and move in the next few weeks - I would really rather not be moved while we are gone OR come home in January and need to move in the coldest month of the year, weeks before bringing a new baby home and needing to arrange everything, unpack and settle in.  And I really, really, don't want to move in February or March!

Your prayers would mean so much in this and are greatly needed!  We are all called to trust the Lord with an uncertain future but sometimes living overseas you realize just how uncertain (and uncontrollable) it is more than you  might Stateside!


Friday, October 12, 2012

God's Provision



I can not think of a time in my life I have felt more tired. All. The. Time. Tired.  Baby Number two is making her presence known that is for sure.  And thus the reason for my lack of blogs.

BUT I did want to write a quick note to share some exciting news:  Steve and I have been wanting to submit our application to adopt to the USCIS in order to get our approval and move forward with our dossier...An approximate $750 step in the adoption process.  We have our homestudy complete and in hand but didn't have the funds and were stalling to make our appointment at the embassy. Just last night we were talking (trying not to stress) over how we could raise this next fee and quick so we could move ahead in the process.

We woke up this morning to an email that 3 people donated this week - to the almost EXACT amount we needed ($725)!!!  The funds were ALREADY IN.  The Lord had provided without us needing to do anything.  We are rejoicing today for His perfect provision and timing.  Also, thanking Him for these 3 donors and for all those who have given already to get us this far.  You will also note that we have passed the $8,000 mark on the thermometer!!  That  means many of you have given in huge ways already.  Thank you really doesn't seem adequate - and isn't! - but we thank you for all the ways you are supporting us and behind us in this.  It really is humbling and exciting to watch the Lord at work through many of you.  Thank you.  We literally could not fund this adoption without you and your support.  Thanks for joining us on this journey!

Korean Family Caricature


Drawn by one of Steve's elementary students he teaches English to on Thursday nights....Complete with baby girl in my tummy and Steve's facial hair.  Made us laugh last night.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Micah!

Happy Birthday to my all time favorite brother and one of the Very Important Men in my life!  I love you more than you know, always will.  I miss you.  And I pray for you daily.  I hope you know how dearly we love you and are wishing you the happiest of birthdays this year - May it be the best year yet!

At the Zoo, Summer 2011 (Caleb 16 months)





Monday, October 1, 2012

Where are we at with our Adoption?



It is October! Can you believe it? I can't! But I am certainly enjoying the beautiful Korean weather.  October is probably the nicest month out of the whole year here - chilly nights, cool mornings and evenings, bright warm but not hot sunshine during the afternoon, blue skies, few clouds, colorful leaves....It is wonderful.

But time ticks on and we have a baby waiting in Ethiopia!  We have been (actively) in the adoption process 8 months already!! So, where are we at with things?  This week we are going to be re-fingerprinted (the first ones did not work) and then our hope is to head up to the U.S. Embassy this Friday or early next week to apply for our USCIS approval.  We need the U.S. Government to approve us to bring a child into the U.S. and into our family.  They will basically run a background check with our fingerprints, review our home study report and decide if we are "fit" to become parents.  One prayer request specifically with this is that our finances would not be an issue.  Once we hear back from USCIS and are approved, we can submit our dossier to Ethiopia for their review!!

But, WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!  With all your help, we have raised just over $7,000 towards our adoption.  This is HUGE and we are SO THANKFUL for this generosity!  We have truly felt overwhelmed by generosity that has poured in, by your support and often brought to tears at the way the Lord is at work!  However, we have already spent all of this on our homestudy ($2500) and our agency fee ($6,000).  As you can see, we actually now owe our agency some money.  In addition to this, we will need to pay $750 when we apply for approval with the USCIS this week or next.  Once our approval goes through, we will need to pay half of the country fee ($6,000) to submit our dossier and the other half ($6,000) upon accepting our referral.  YIKES! This means we have some prayers to pray, funds to raise and trusting the Lord to do!  This feels overwhelming but I know the Lord can and will do it!  We are praying for these finances to come in quickly so we can move ahead without delaying our process and bring this next baby home to our family.

Will you consider joining us on this journey?  Will you consider financially supporting us in this adoption?  If you have given already but feel the Lord has blessed you with excess, will you consider giving again? Would you also consider sharing our need on your own personal blog, on your facebook, with your friends or family who might be interested in supporting adoption?  For donating information, please click HERE or check out our "Donate" page above.  If you have any questions or concerns at all, please feel free to contact us.  And please, please, be in prayer on our (and our Ethiopian baby's) behalf!  I know the Lord will supply all our needs in this adoption and that if this is His plan for our family, He will accomplish!

Our Lil Sweet Pea!

A short little sneak peak at our little sweet pea....everything looked healthy at our appointment, she was measuring right on target for a February birthday, they counted 10 fingers, 10 toes, two eyes, one nose and one mouth with  no sign of cleft palate (they are BIG into checking that out in Korea), a strong beating heart, lots of "eating/swollowing" motions and a lot of other movement too.  We praise the Lord for this little life He is adding to our family; may that little heart one day know and love Him.

video

Please pray for a safe remainder of our pregnancy and a healthy baby and mom!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We Survived!

The past 9 days while Steve was in China were some of the hardest parenting days I have been through  in the 2.5 years I have enjoyed being a mom....I'm sure I'll have worse days ahead but it was a trying week for us!  Steve left on Sunday, Sept. 16 and the picture below says it better than I ever could!



If that is not one of the saddest pictures of  my son that I have ever seen, I'm not sure what is.  He was absolutely distraught saying good bye to Steve. It was a mixture of tears, yelling, angry words, empty threats and to top it all off "DADDY, I'm too yittle to take care of mommy all by myself, I NEED YOU!!!"  It was pitiful and I'm so glad I did not see this picture until after Steve got home!

Caleb cried off and on throughout the days following....and also hit one of the most rebellious stages of his two years of life at the same time.  I was really thankful for some good friends and community who stepped in to help - thank you Ross and Renee, Michelle, Marty and Holzman family specifically - couldn't have done it without you!


Needless to say, we were THRILLED this past Monday when Steve arrived home in time for dinner!!



It has been such a relief to have daddy/husband home, to have someone else to talk to and bounce ideas off of, to have someone to "tag team" the difficult moments and ask how to handle things!  Welcome back, hunnie! You were so very, very missed around here!!  

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and for Steve while he was gone! The trip went really well and Steve really enjoyed China!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Missin' Dad

We heard from Steve, he made it safely and is doing well.  He has really enjoyed his trip so far and says the part of China they are hiking and traveling is beautiful (he says he is bringing us with next trip!) and he is enjoying the other guys on the trip a lot too. Things are going well so far and they are having a great time.

We are missing daddy a lot - this trip has been harder than India.  Caleb cries for him frequently and doesn't understand the concept of "7 more days" very well. The time seems to be going slowly but we've had some great offers to hang out with friends this week.  I have a birth that I will be supporting tomorrow and Caleb will stay over with Michelle, which he is really looking forward to.  He has been a little under the weather so we've been trying to pump the vitamin C in every form we can and drink plenty of fluids.  I'm trying to as well so I don't get anything from him!



We can't wait to have our daddy home but it was good to hear from him and know he is having a good time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

20 Weeks!

Our little tummy baby turned 20 weeks some time in the past few days, according to the tracker on my phone.  This pregnancy really is going fast and it is hard to think that if you believe in due dates (which we don't) we are almost "half way" to a baby in our arms!

"Showing my toys to the baby" - C

So, is it a girl or a boy? That's the big question everyone wants to know these days!  We had hoped to do a 20 week ultrasound this past week but the birthing center that I really, really hope I am able to give birth at (hinging on if we can get a discount there or not) up in Seoul was booked until the end of September so we are going to wait until after Steve gets back. We have an appointment for end of September to do the "big" ultrasound.

What do we think?  The first month of pregnancy, I was pretty convinced it was another boy.  Everyone seems to share that girl pregnancies and boy pregnancies are very different and judging by the first weeks, they seemed the same.  I was blessed again to not be extremely sick (mostly just tired and not hungry) and it reminded me a lot of Caleb's pregnancy.  But as time has gone on, there have been more differences.  I get a lot of headaches with this one, I seem to have zero memory this time around (something I never experienced with Caleb!)., I have worse acne, I'm more emotional, all I wanted to eat the first 12 weeks was junk food (not like me, although Steve enjoyed having chips in the house again! All I wanted with Caleb was citrus fruit), and probably the biggest difference I started noticing was that I am carrying really, really high.  The way my belly is growing is so different than Caleb (who was always very low). So if there is any validity to the old wives tail that boys are carried low and girls carry high then this is definitely a girl. Another difference is that with Caleb I felt him moving earlier, with this one I think I am just now starting to feel baby moving for certain...and not nearly as much as Caleb.  But that could just be a personality thing....at this point, it'd be pretty nice to have a quieter child...Caleb is all movement, high volume and activity right now...we could use a little chill baby around this house!

I'm overall feeling pretty good. I'm really tired but I'm also really low on iron so now that I'm working on that, maybe my energy will start to pick back up.  I am still not very hungry throughout the day (although not nauseous so that's a plus).  To be honest, I don't think about this pregnancy or baby a whole lot.  Life is so busy, Caleb is reaching new heights of energy, volume, activity level and power struggles, the adoption takes a lot of mental energy and we continue to delve into all we have to learn about before our Ethiopian baby joins the family and the weeks go by quickly.  I need to make the time to stop and think of this next little one and focus on this pregnancy before it is done and over!  I have enjoyed that I'm now able to feel some movement occasionally and that has brought little smiles to my face and little reminders that there really is a baby growing inside!  Baby movements have got to be up there on the list of wonderful things in life.

Baby  sucking thumb at 12 weeks, our last appointment





Friday, September 14, 2012

A favorite place






This summer I felt like we became official citizens of Songtan:  We got library cards!!!

I have known for a while the building on the corner about two blocks from our house was a library but just assumed all the books were in Korean.  We even went in a few times, stayed on the main level in the "baby room" and looked at pictures in all the Korean kids books.  But this summer we ventured upstairs exploring and discovered 3 small bookshelves (pictured below) of English kids books!

 

Then it took us a while to go up to the front desk to ask about a card...see we figured there would be a big process and a form to fill out and well, we don't speak a lot of Korean so we weren't sure how that would go over.  But one day, we got up the nerve and they go the idea what we were asking about.  Turns out, they just needed our names, snapped a picture and made us a card!  We have been back a number of times and it is one of our favorite places.  Caleb literally could stay for hours (and we do) and then he begs not to leave...it's only with the promise that we can bring 3 books home with us to check out, that he reluctantly picks his three and heads downstairs.








I love that he shares our love for books and for reading and for libraries.  If you remember a while back I posted that one of the top ten things I miss about the States is libraries.  While this does not fully embody everything I miss about libraries back home, it certainly helps!  And gives us a little more reading material than we have at home.



And makes for a great morning activity with Caleb!

Hello Seoul!



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Small Prayer Request & Some Praises

Prayer ~ The past few weeks I have been having horrible allergy attacks at night, typically around 1am-5am that are keeping me up for several hours a night, sneezing, coughing and trying to breath.  I think this is the worst they have ever been. They seem to improve significantly during the day (although not always completely).  I can't take any medications right now although a few nights I have just given up and taken half a claritin (half dose) and that has really helped (but I hate doing that and do so sparingly).  So I'm asking you to pray for this if you think of it!  It is really wearing on me to miss so much sleep every night and I find myself exhausted throughout the day...I would really appreciate your prayers for this (somewhat minor but annoying) prayer request.  If you think of it to pray during your afternoon (around 1pm-4pm your time in the States), that should be about the time it is really keeping me up.  Thank you for your prayers in this!



If you know any good natural remedies that might help, feel free to comment! I feel like I'm doing almost all I know to do!

Praise ~ We made it through our week without Steve while he was in India....He leaves in 7 days for China!

Praise ~ On a very happy note, the weather has finally cooled down and is absolutely beautiful right now. We are enjoying cooler evenings and mornings, can turn the fans off and wear a light sheet at night, can put jeans back on (thankfully I'm still fitting into non maternity so able to wear those a little longer while I figure out some maternity pants), and enjoying mostly gorgeous sunny (some rainy) warm (but not hot) afternoons. It has been great - I hardly want to be inside and try to find every excuse possible to be out and about soaking it up!  Praise the Lord for surviving the heat this summer with no air conditioning and without overheating!

Praise ~ And an even happier note, did you check out that thermometer on the right hand side?  It went up!! We passed the $7,000 mark - Praise the Lord!! So exciting! We had been sitting at *almost* $7,000 for so long, it feels great to make it past and to be just about one fourth of the way to our adoption funding need.  So happy - and so thankful to each of you who have (and are) donating and blessed us financially on this journey.  Praise the Lord for generous hearts, those who donated and those who will donate - I know He will bring in everything we need to bring this child home!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sweet Surprises

Several weeks ago I started receiving books...and notes....from friends.  Mostly friends back home. Friends who I miss a lot.  I'm told there are a few more on their way so if yours isn't pictured, don't worry!!  My sweet husband arranged with a number of my friends, to have them each send a favorite book for a "summer reading list" surprise.  And what a sweet surprise it was!!






I love to read and I miss many of my dear friends back home so this combination was perfect:  I felt so loved by each of you and it will be special to read books that you (for one reason or another) really enjoyed or recently read yourself.

Living overseas for an extended period of time, it is easy to begin to "feel" forgotten about...Not that you necessarily ARE but the feeling creeps in.  When you first move, you hear a lot from people (and you communicate a lot); you feel connected.  But as time goes by, you get busy with your new ministry, community and field and your friends get busy with their lives back home.  And time goes by.  It gets longer between emails (on both ends) and skype dates and life happens, things change, families grow.  It isn't bad or wrong, that's just life.  But it is easy to start to feel disconnected.  And to miss the friendships and people you used to enjoy.  These little surprises were a great way to feel "remembered" and in a small way connected.  Thank you to each of you who took the time to think of a book, buy one and send it my way.  And thank you especially for some of the sweet and thoughtful notes that came a long with them; I think those were my favorite part!  And a special thanks to that sweet and thoughtful husband of mine - he can't be beat!!

Looking forward to some great reading time ahead - and thinking of each of you; missing you and thankful for you and the ways you have been (and continue to be) a part of my life.  You are dear to me!  Love, Sarah


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More on India


The Church showered them with gifts
Steve and Nelson are back and recuperating from their trip to India...It has been so nice to have Steve home and we are thoroughly enjoying daddy time. We had a great day yesterday (his first day back) just enjoying time as a family and hanging out at home.  Today he went back to the office all day but we still enjoyed waking up with him home, eating breakfast as a family, playing at the park before dinner and having daddy home for dinner before youth group.  We've heard lots of India stories and many ways Steve was impacted by the trip and things he did and saw.  They had over 200 pastors attend the conference and enjoyed spending time with other men serious about studying the Word and growing.


Steve teaching

Pastor Nelson teaching

   

They also had some down time to spend together and sight seeing.

Steve blogged some of his thoughts and additional pictures on his blog - check it out!

Stay tuned for his next trip to a neighboring country coming up September 17!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

He's BAAAAACK!!!





Steve arrived safely home!  Thank you to many of you who were praying for him while he was away - I know your prayers were answered!

We went with Michelle up to the airport to surprise our men and pick them up - they were expecting to take the bus home from the airport.
Watching for daddy to walk through the doors!


Love!!!

Okay, so I knew Caleb missed Steve a lot but I didn't realize just HOW much he missed him or how sweet it would be to see him "reunite" with his daddy.  He clung to him for the longest time, insisted that dad sit next to him on the drive home and then the whole hour and half drive home kept saying things like "I missed you so much daddy."  "I need you, I love you, I care for you, Daddy!"  And then this morning, first thing he asks: "Is daddy still home mommy?!?" He has been all about everything "Dad" all day and has thoroughly enjoyed the rough housing and "guy time."  It's been so sweet.

We are thrilled to have Steve back and it has been fun to hear about his adventures and all the Lord is doing in India, as well as see all his pictures and video!  I hope he blogs about it soon and when he does, I'll send you his way!

For now, a few pictures from his time away:




Thank you for your prayers during his time away!  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Adoption Fundraiser




Today our Church attended a local military yard sale as an adoption fundraiser.  Members of our Church donated items over the past two months so everything sold went directly to the adoption fund our Church recently began to help couples within the Church who are adopting and in need of financial assistance.  It is really exciting right now because there are now three couples (including us) who are pursuing adoption and there are a few others who have been starting to talk about the idea.


We had a lot of things donated and some really generous items too!  We had several families come out to help and several "little helpers" pictured above.

Kayla and Caleb taking a break from the heat

The weather had cooled down considerably but the past few days it has been warm again (although NOTHING like it was earlier this summer, thankfully!).  Today was another hot day and I think we all came away dehydrated and a little sunburned.



Of course Caleb found a lot of things he "really wanted" and it was hard for him to understand that no, we can't take them home with us!!   He also went around telling everyone who stopped by that he was "selling all these things for his adoption." 

We felt really blessed by all the things that were donated and people who helped support this event.  We raised almost $950 to begin the adoption fund at our Church and I think that is fantastic for one yard sale.  Looking forward to all the Lord will do with our Church in this area!  

*If you would like more information on donating to this adoption fund, please contact us and we can direct you to the appropriate person. If you would like information on donating directly to our personal family, please check out our "Donate" page.  Thank you for considering partnering with us!


Friday, August 31, 2012

Totally Crazy, And Excited.

In case you are sitting at your computer thinking we are crazy for moving ahead with our adoption, despite finding out we are pregnant, please rest assured you are not alone.  I join you whole-heartily in your assessment.  Please do not think we entered into this decision flippantly, without counsel and prayer or without understanding the implications of it.

No, we will never fully understand all that adoption entails pre-adoption....truth is, we have never adopted before, we are new to all of it and I'm convinced we have a road full of surprises and hardship awaiting us that we can not even imagine, having never been through it.   We really don't know what we are getting ourselves into besides the books we have read, the adoptive families we have talked to and the blog posts we subscribe to....we have a vague understanding that adopting is going to be an incredibly challenging part of our lives and that the first year will be very, very rough.  All of (the very little) we know, makes us realize that adoption in and of itself (without another little bio baby in the picture) would be enough to rock our world, our marriage, our family and our lives.  That said, the thought of doing all of that in addition to another small child who still needs constant care and assistance is daunting to say the very least.

This is something we have talked about. And talked about. And talked about. This has been (and continues to be) an area of prayer frequently prayed over.  This is something we have talked to numerous "older and wiser" people in our lives about and sought their opinion on the wisdom of continuing with the adoption, in light of the pregnancy.  I think we understand (to the best of our ability having never done it before) that likely the next two years will be some of the hardest years we have ever been through - that our marriage, our faith, our family and our parenting inability will be greatly challenged and tested.  This is something that, frankly, terrifies me.

There have been (and will continue to be, I'm sure) many times that I don't feel we are up to the task at hand.  I often think it would be easier and wiser to put the adoption on hold, put it on the back burner, enjoy this pregnancy and this next little one (you know, be normal!) and think about adoption again in a year or two...the famous "someday."

But again and again, we don't have peace with doing that.  I can't let go of it.  We feel so strongly that this is what the Lord has called us to and He has told us "Now."  Not Someday.  Not back burner.  Not "after this one."  Not "when life is a little easier" or "when finances aren't as tight" or "when we live closer to family who can help" or "when I figure this parenting thing out a little better."  Now.

The thing that keeps coming to mind is that the Lord doesn't call us to the easy. He doesn't call us to do what everyone else is doing or what is "wise" in the world's eyes or what makes logical sense.  He doesn't call us to do the things that we can do on our own....because if we are doing them on our own, why do we need Him?  What makes our lives any different if they are easily accomplished in our own strength?  Why do we need a Daddy if we can do it all by our self?

I think often the Lord calls us to things beyond ourselves so that we will be forced to need Him and see Him work. He hates our sin of pride and self-reliance. He wants to be seen for His Greatness. He wants us to trust and lean on Him and Him alone.  Not us + Him.  Not Us alone. Him Alone.  In a life where our income is more than sufficient, our routine is set, our job secure, our health adequate, our needs are met and our daily life doesn't require a lot of faith, it is easy to fall into the trap of self-sufficiency and the facade of control.  We go to God with the little things.  We remember to pray before meals and go to church but we don't live a life of utter dependence. We're doing just fine.

I fight hard against this.  I think the Lord has slowly been pulling me further and further away from my realm of "controlling my life" and "self sufficiency" and pride.....leaving well paying jobs and a double income, moving around the world, leaving family, leaving good friends, going into full time ministry, living in a culture not our own and without much of the conveniences and nice things we love about the States, giving up the dream of owning a home, going dumpster diving for our furniture, living without a car....He has slowly been peeling back layers of "self" and increasing my realization of my NEED for Him and Him alone.

And now this.  Calling us to something so far beyond our realm of control, our ability, our comfort zone, our gifting, into something completely unfamiliar and incredibly hard.  Adoption alone felt overwhelming and like a huge leap of faith....but adopting in the midst of also having a very young bio child (think 2 children under 15 months, one of which with incredible need to learn to attach and bond and both with the incredible needs that come with that age)....Impossible is the word that comes to mind, personally.    

What are you doing, Lord?

But He knows what He is doing.

I trust whole-heartily that He intends to see us through.  Not in our own strength but with His.  Not because of our own ability but because He is sufficient.  Not because we are equipped but because He plans to equip. Not because we are ready but precisely because we aren't.

In the words of a blog post I read recently, "You don't have to be a miracle worker; that has always been God's territory.  You just have to be the ordinary disciple that says yes.....In Him you can do this.  He is enough for us all."

Please don't sit back and critique our "craziness,"  shaking your head over our naivety.  Please join in prayer for us instead, we'll need it.  Please don't wait for failure to say "I knew it", there will be enough of that I can assure you.  Please think instead how you can come along side us and help and how you can encourage us towards the Lord and finding success in that.  Please don't judge this decision as being made thoughtlessly or without understanding.  Know, instead, that this has been an incredibly hard decision to make and one we don't enter in lightly.

And please, please, please don't mistake all of these thoughts to mean we aren't THRILLED over these two lives entering our family.  WE TOTALLY ARE!!!  We pray for these two souls constantly throughout our days and look forward to the day we can pray over them physically.  We think and daydream of them both often, wondering what they will be like and who the Lord is forming for our family and thinking of the joys that lie ahead.  We can't believe the blessing that is being poured out on us in the form of not one but TWO children coming into our family!!! We can't wait to meet each of them and hold them in our arms and be their mommy and daddy for always.

We do not move ahead without trembling, but we also press on with excitement and joy. We aren't entering this upcoming phase of our life blind to the obstacles we will be facing but neither do we move ahead without   great anticipation.

We know the Lord is at work - He is at work in us, He is at work in our family, He is at work in you.  He is doing big things and He has never promised the things He calls us to do to be easy...He calls us to suffer.  But He also calls us to Joy.

I have never heard someone say 'the deepest and most rarest and most satisfying joys of my life have come in times of extended ease and earthly comfort.' Nobody says that. It isn't true. As Spurgeon said: 'They who dive deep in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls." --Pastor John

Taj Mahal



Michelle was able to FaceTime with Nelson today from India (and Steve was in the room so she got to see him as well) and they are doing well - thank you for your prayers!  They finished their conference and sounded very positive about it.  Nelson preached 5 sermons through the book of Jonah and Steve preached 4 sermons on The Attributes of God.  They are now doing some tourism and tomorrow will be visiting the Taj Mahal. They then fly out and should arrive here in Korea (Lord willing) late Monday evening.  We can't wait!!
File:Taj Mahal 2012.jpg
Photo Credit

Steve also had a little bit of time to write a brief blog post, you can read his thoughts from India here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our Week without Steve

Tristan Turned One!


In case you are wondering, we survived our typhoon and tropical storm.  Neither hit very bad or were much trouble.  The tropical storm today actually really cooled things down and it felt great!  I hope it stays this nice!  We are loving it.

I heard from Steve earlier this week via facebook that they made it safely to India, after a lovely boat tour in Thailand on their 7 hour layover (*so jealous*).  It sounded from his note that he had already been impacted by a lot that he had seen and experienced in traveling and his partial day in India so that is great. He sounded encouraged and really excited to start teaching.  I haven't heard anything since so hopefully they are having a great (and safe) week.

Caleb is missing Steve a lot - or in his words, "Alex the Lion (the character he pretends to be most often right now) really misses Zumba (that's daddy's character).  Zumba is off in India catching chickens for Alex the Lion (because, of course, lions eat chickens) and India has better chicken than Korea."  Yes, these are the kinds of things that come out of our 2.5 year old's imagination.  Keeps life interesting!  I (of course) really miss Steve too and it makes me appreciate him all the more...we are pretty blessed to have an incredible daddy and husband!

Overall, we have been having a fantastic week and really enjoying each other. I am convinced it is the Lord's grace and your prayers!! We have felt blessed by a number of friends reaching out to us as well, thankful for a community around us.  Today was the hardest day of all, Caleb really tested boundaries and was overall just exhausting to be around.  He didn't take a very long nap either and really fought bedtime tonight.  He is asleep now and I'm hoping some good rest for both of us will get us back on track for tomorrow!

A dear friend's little boy turned 1 year old today, so that was a fun outing and a great (much needed) diversion from our day.  We braved the tropical storm and walked over to their house.  I always enjoy seeing lots of little kids all together and the kids had a great time doing a craft, singing happy birthday, listening to a Dr. Seuss story (that was the theme), dancing around, eating cupcakes and being crazy.  The moms enjoyed the great food and adults to talk to!

I'm hoping I hear from Steve sometime soon and if I do, I will update you!  Please be in prayer for him and Pastor Nelson!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Typhoon Bolaven

Update to this post:  The typhoon hit today and absolutely did not live up to all the hype we have been hearing!  I have seen worse thunder storms than this typhoon - we basically had some stronger winds than usual and a few short, light scattered rainfall.  We are OKAY and the typhoon really wasn't bad at all.  Thank you for your prayers!

I have really never dealt with a typhoon before - this just isn't the type of weather one experiences in Minnesota!  But apparently we have a big one headed our way tonight and tomorrow.  It has been all over the news and facebook on this side of the world and is reportedly one of the biggest expected typhoons in over a decade.  We'll see.  My trust in weather-people is a little low (sorry Brian Nuss!) but hopefully it is not nearly as bad as they have been warning, this would be a good time for them to be wrong.  We did go ahead and cancel our camping trip for today, tomorrow and Wednesday that we were hoping to go on, which was disappointing but I suppose better to be on the safe side than experience a tree being uprooted or a mudslide!  Please be in prayer for safety for Japan, the Koreas and China in this large-scale storm!  You can read a news article here and watch a clip of the storm hitting Okinawa.  Please don't worry (MOMS AND GRANDMAS!!) - I really think we'll be fine (we are more mainland, away from the ocean, and only on the third floor of our apartment...additionally, reports from Jeju and Okinawa haven't been that bad, just a big storm with strong winds).


 I will keep you updated on how it goes - Glad Steve and Nelson made it out before the storms.  They are happily touring Thailand on their seven hour layover to India as I type (rough trip, I know!).

Update:  This is what the radar looks like this morning!

Picture from HERE

Picture from HERE

India-Bound



Michelle, Caleb and I dropped Steve and Pastor Nelson off at the airport this morning around 7am - they are headed for India and a week of teaching!  Please be in prayer for them - that they would have safe travels, stay healthy and a fruitful, productive time teaching at the conference they are leading!  

Please pray for Caleb and I too as we are home without daddy!  We have a great community around us, which helps a lot, but we will of course miss Steve (and do already!).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Joyful Additions


Are you ready for some exciting news?!?



We are expecting TWO joyful additions to our family:  One has been growing in our hearts through the means of adoption for 6 months and is expected to arrive in our arms {Lord willing} sometime 2014....The second one has been growing in my belly for 17 weeks and is expected to arrive in our arms {Lord willing}sometime winter 2013!  We are overjoyed to be pregnant and adopting!



Your prayers, encouragement and support are greatly needed and appreciated as we pursue adding to our family in these two beautiful, God-orchestrated ways.

Please check out our post over on Steve's blog that gives more detail to this exciting news and our decision that we do not feel pregnancy is a reason for us to interrupt our adoption, instead we feel the Lord is growing our family in big ways and blessing us with two special additions.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Southern Korea!

As promised and long overdue, here are some pictures from our recent and much needed mini family get-a-way.  We took a train down South, enjoyed mountainous countryside, the small farms and the lack of sky scrapers along the way....met up with some friends of ours who acted as our tour guides and found us a free place to stay for the 2 nights we were there (meaning we basically just paid for our train tickets, such a blessing!) and enjoyed their now almost 5 month old baby girl (I had the joy of attending her birth so I will always have a special little soft spot for her but seriously, she's adorable, I think you'll agree)....and got to take in some beautiful beach time, while also touring Busan, a large and famous city in Korea.

Leaving the station

On the passenger train - South Bound!

Vacation R&R








Arrived late Sunday night

Slept in until 9:30 Monday morning!!!!


Any time you can have mountains and ocean in the same picture, you are in a good place!



I'm really enjoying no painted toes right now - I know, very un-girly of me!

The Dads 

Cute Baby Alert


So. Cute.



Highrise meet ocean, mountains and blue sky











Koreans love little kids and blonde hair in Korea is a novelty.  Caleb attracts doting attention wherever we go.  That afternoon he was brought hot chocolate to warm up with after swimming, grapes, crackers and given a spot under a front row umbrella so he could play in the sand and in the shade. He also had a crowd of on lookers for quite some time.  I think he got tired of answering "what's your name?" and "where are you from?" and "how old are you?" and "can we take your picture?"  Towards the end of the day someone asked his name and he looked at them, smiled and replied "Mickey Mouse!" Then burst out laughing.  

The Moms






Headed Home


The "Cafe" car on the train...!!!




Arcade games, computers and noribong in the cafe car!
I wish airplanes had these!

Home again!