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So I was listening to a Mike Bickle sermon yesterday…nothing like a Mike Bickle sermon to turn your life upside down in a way that needed to be done.  I heard him say something that I’ve heard him say at least a hundred times.  He said when people he knew 20 years ago come to visit IHOP, they often say, “Wow Mike.  Your dream finally came true,” to which he always responds, “IHOP isn’t my dream.  IHOP is my calling.  A rich life in God is my dream.”  He said that’s what he daydreams about–getting closer to God, knowing Him better.  He said that if he approached IHOP as if it were his dream–his goal in life–then he would burn out very quickly.

Like I said, I’ve heard him say that a hundred times before, but this time it struck me like an arrow of truth flung straight into my heart.  I have been confusing my calling with my dream.  The source of this mix up goes back several years.  See, for many years I longed very deeply to be married and have a family, and I mourned almost daily because I wasn’t sure if that would was possible because of some personal matters.  Those who know me well already know what I am talking about.  Then, as God began to put the desire for adoption on my heart, I grieved even more deeply because I didn’t know at the time that these desires were coming from Him and I didn’t know if they would ever be fulfilled.   Therefore, these desires of my heart that were placed there by God began to feel like the dreams of my heart.  God was placing His calling for me on my heart and I confused that calling with personal dreams and desires.

Because of this history, from the time I married Ed I have felt like my dreams were finally coming true.  And that worked for awhile.  However, with this upcoming adoption, I have begun to feel severely overwhelmed.  Check out my previous posts for evidence.  I even began my business with the idea that I had to work hard to make my dreams come true.

I was wrong.  Adoption isn’t my dream.  Being a wife and a mother is not my dream.  These things have never been my dream.  They are my calling.  My dream has always been a deep, satisfying life in God.  That’s why I’ve made the decisions in life that I have made–decisions that seemed foolish and wrong to those around me–tough decisions–risky decisions.  This beautiful life in God is my dream…and if I never adopt a single child…if Daniela is the only child I ever have…my dream is still being fulfilled.  I will pursue my dream with all my heart.  It’s up to God to fulfill my calling.

Whew!  I feel like somebody just lifted a weight off of my shoulders!  This is so much better.  I can breathe again.

So what now?  We’re still pursuing adotion.  We’re still planning to buy a house and a car.  The Funky Lamp isn’t going anywhere, but I am considering some changes concerning my business.

Having priorities in order is so liberating!

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Facing undetected expectations

As we grow closer to adoption…though it doesn’t feel like we’re any closer at all to getting the paperwork done…I am forced to face head on some fears and issues that have been shoved to the background since Ed and I made the decision in our dating days that ours would be an adoptive family.  I should warn you early on that this entry is a mental release of thoughts, fear and emotions.  It may not present solutions to the problems stated herein but is a definite vehicle to finding those solutions.  As I solidify and process these thoughts, my brain will become more organized to pursue solutions to said problems.  Now that the disclaimer is complete, let’s get on with it.

I know that adoption is one of the most difficult things that a family can undertake.  Inherent with adoption is loss, tragedy and grief on the part of the child.  This can also be true on the part of the parents if infertility has led to adoption; however, that is not the case with us.  We have come to adoption as a result of our faith, as a result of our desire to take in those who have no one and love them as our own–to love them in the way that God has loved us.  Just as is the case with us and our adoption with God, these children will come to my home with significant trauma in their past and even their present.  Though their past may have included abuse and neglect (to put it mildly) these children still love their birth parents.  Their dysfunctional home is the only home they have known.  Coming into my home–as healthy of a home as it may be–and calling my husband and me “Mom” and “Dad” will be an extremely difficult adjustment for them.  These children will need significant emotional and psychological healing.  On top of that, Ed and I plan to adopt a child with special needs–a child with either a mental disability or a physical disability.   To say the least, this will not be any easy time for our family.

Because we know that this will be a difficult process, we have been doing research on adoption to help make the transition as smooth as possible.  We have been learning what to expect and what are the best methods for parenting children from the hard places.  In my research, I recently learned a startling statistic:

  • 1/3 of adoptive families have a relatively seamless transition.
  • 1/3 of adoptive families have significant challenges but are able to deal with them and/or overcome them.
  • 1/3 of adoptive families face such difficult circumstances that the family collapses.*

1/3 of adoptive families collapse?!  That is an absolutely HUGE number!  I knew this process was difficult.  I never considered that it would cause my family to collapse.  I think I just had this underlying expectation that since I was doing God’s will, though the process may be difficult for a while, it would ultimately be successful and we would be one big happy family.  I never even considered that might not happen.  I know that being armed with information and being connected with those who have done this before, as well as being connected with professionals, increases our chances of being in the 2/3 of families with successful adoptions, but the chance of being in that bottom 1/3 still remains.  How will this affect my other children?  Will my daughter, Daniela, grow up to resent her parents because we brought in a child who destroyed the family?  Will I grow to resent that child and I feel that he or she ruined our lives?  I know, I know.  That’s a horrible thing to think and most people would never even say it, but I have to be honest with myself.  I am a fallen human being and I am capable of these sorts of thoughts and emotions.

On the flip side, God is able to love all of His children unconditionally–regardless of how we behave.  Something the Lord has been teaching me for the last several years is that I have to depend on Him for literally EVERYTHING!  He can give me the ability to love this child.  Furthermore, I have to look at the benefits my family would receive from adoption.  These children will teach us all about the strength and vitality that God has created within the human race.  They will give us an opportunity to serve selflessly and to love someone the way that God loves us.  They will give us the opportunity to experience greater depths of the love of God, as God loves the “little ones” with a ferocity we can not imagine. And I’m sure there are a thousand other things I’m not thinking of right now.

All in all, I still think adoption is worth it, but before we bring a child home, I need to come to terms with the risks I am taking and trust God as if my life depends on it (because it actually does!)

*Statistics courtesy of Dr. Karyn Purvis, Empowered to Connect.

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Yesterday was a discouraging day.  I know, I know, everybody has them, but when I have them I feel like I’m the only one.  I guess it’s because we have so many things going at once.  To name a few…we are in the process of adoption, we need to sell our VW Beetle and purchase a mini van, we are looking to buy a house in the upcoming months, and we are planning a trip to Brazil to visit my husband’s elderly grandparents.  They have not yet met me or Daniela.  Besides the near impossible task of coordinating all of these things into an already busy schedule, we are struggling to allocate finances for all of these things.  And in the midst of all of this, I am attempting to start a small business to provide extra finances so we can successfully expand our family the way we want to.  Geesh!  Are you tired yet?

Believe it or not, a seemingly simple online clothing business takes up a lot of time.  I feel like I never have enough time to spend on it, and therefore, it is not taking off the way I would like it to.  On top of the already arduous task of buying, making, photographing and listing items, I need to get my name out there via, twitter, facebook, and this blog.  So, yesterday, I looked at my small little shop with only one sale, my pitiful neglected twitter and wordpress accounts and felt that all was lost.  Eeek!

This is a confession between me and my wonderful little readership.  I am discouraged and overwhelmed.  And I don’t know where to begin to make things better.  Do I spend time and money looking for and making items to include in my shop that most likely won’t get seen?  Or do I invest in a smartphone so that I can more easily publicize to get more people in my tiny little shop where there aren’t many options?

I know, this is a sad little pity party.  Ugh!  But every morning I wake up with the aforementioned options and feel paralyzed.  I don’t know what to do so I end up doing nothing. Maybe I should invest in the smartphone to free up some time for me to work on creating items?  Would it really free up time?  I dunno.  What do you think?

Ok.  Enough with the cry fest.  Now for something that will make us all happy!

I know.  She’s adorable.  She and her future siblings are worth a million of these headaches!

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In the process of opening The Funky Lamp shop, I have realized that opening a small business is a SLOW process.  I’ve been open for about a month and only have 13 items listed.  There are a few factors that I can pinpoint that are contributing to this.  The main one is the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom…or maybe I should correct myself…a work-at-home mom.  The “mom” part is my top priority, so I’m ok with that slowing my business progress.  Another factor I have discovered is photography.  I can have new products all day long but if I can’t find the time to dress up while the sun is still out and my husband is home, find a good place to snap the shots, and find time to edit them, then I can’t sell them.

While I think taking photos on a real person with a full outfit is preferable, I decided that it is not always possible, and therefore, not profitable.  Furthermore, since I am trying to get this business off the ground with as little start-up cost as possible, I decided to make a mannequin on which to display clothing.  Besides the fact that making one is more cost effective, it also gives me the opportunity to creatively style my mannequin to match the unique look of The Funky Lamp.

So, what do you do when you want to do something that you don’t know how to do?  Google it, of course.  After thorough googling, I decided that a duct-tape dummy was the way to go.  There are literally hundreds of sites with instructions on how to do this.  However, my duct-tape dummy ended up resembling Quasimodo with lumpy breasts.

Yeah…not pretty.

Not sure what happened.  I guess my husband and I just don’t have the duct tape gift.

So…back to the drawing board.

I had a vague memory of reading a blog where someone made a dummy for her daughter out of batting and a blanket.  After more googling, I located this lovely blog: Tea Rose Home.

Taking my own spin on her directions, I began my work.  I took a piece of wood we had laying around and I duct-taped an apple juice carton to the top.  On top of that, I duct-taped an empty water bottle lying sideways.  Then, I duct-taped a wire hanger to the water bottle.  Really scientific, huh?  Next, I wrapped some fluffy fabric that I had gotten in a lot and had no plans to ever use around it.  Then, I put a put a bra on it and stuffed it.  After that, I wrapped an old hoodie around the waist to give her hips.  Here’s what she looked like at that point:

Next, I glued a light socket with a light bulb screwed in  to the top, to give her some Funky Lamp charm.  Then I covered her in fleece to make everything smooth:

That’s an old washcloth sticking out at the top.  I used it to construct the neck.

All that was left was to cover her in fabric.  I know you’re supposed to use a plain, neutral color for these things, but that wouldn’t we very Funky Lamp-ish, would it?

I introduce to you…Stella.  Why Stella?  Not sure.  I just like it and that’s reason enough for me.

I really like the light bulb head.

There she is folks.  She’s not technically perfect, but she’s perfect to me. 🙂

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My husband and I begin our foster care training this evening.  We are so very excited about bringing a little one in need into our home.  I was reading an article this morning here: http://fostersurvivor.netfirms.com/statistics.shtml (I have no idea why the layout of the article is so messed up!) and found some disturbing statistics.  I won’t go into details…you can read the article for that… but here are a few of the more startling ones:

  • A recent study has found that 12-18 months after leaving foster care:
    27% of the males and 10% of the females had been incarcerated
    33% were receiving public assistance
    37% had not finished high school
    50% were unemployed
  • 80 percent of prison inmates have been through the foster care system.
  • Children are 11 times more likely to be abused in State care than they are in their own homes.
  • Children died as a result of abuse in foster care 5.25 times more often than children in the general population.

Something I found interesting was the fact that the article began, “A few pieces of information that really bring home the point that CPS is not taking care of their charges.”  Now, I’m not here to defend CPS.  I’m not here to make any sort of statement about CPS, but I don’t think we can lay the blame solely on their shoulders.  I think we all bear a portion of that blame.

I’m reminded of a famous quote from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I think that is certainly true here.  Where are all of the non-abusive families willing to take children in?  We know that abusive families are certainly a minority, so why do they account for the majority of foster families?  Because good people are doing nothing. Because good people aren’t taking these children in, so virtually all that’s left are the dysfunctional families who will do it for the reimbursement check.

Well, I’m determined to break the cycle. My family is going to do something.  We are going to take these children in.  Who’s with me?

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The start of this blog marks a new venture in my life.  Contrary to everyone’s predictions about my “big news,” I am not pregnant.  However, it does concern my future children.  For several years I have thought, “If I ever get to be a stay-at-home mom, I’d like to open an online vintage clothing store.”  I always thought that it was something I would be good at and that it would be a great way to provide additional income for my family.  Fast forward a few years and Ed (my husband) and I are talking about our future as a family.  We know that our destiny is to be an ever-expanding family–bringing in orphans from this country and abroad.  We feel that while it is good to support orphanages, it is better to bring those children into a family.  Every child deserves more than three meals a day and a roof over their head.  Each child that is born into this world is a gift to all of us and they deserve a real family.  A mom and a dad who care for them, nurture them and guide them.  Siblings to love them, grow up with them, argue with them, and stand at their wedding.  Every child deserves to love and be loved.  So, Ed and I have decided to make our home a safe place for children.  We will be biological, adoptive and foster parents, but to the children we will simply be Mom and Dad.

Anyway, as we were discussing our future, we have decided that this year would be a good time for us to buy a home.  We currently live in a 2-bedroom apartment which limits our options for foster care and adoption.  We would love to have a home where we can settle in and allow our family to grow.  My husband has been blessed with a great job as a science teacher in a great school district, but in order to really do all that we want to do we need some additional income.  We had been pondering this for a few weeks when my lovely sister-in-law, Emily, called.  She asked me if I had ever considered selling the things I crochet.  She said a friend of hers makes a good amount of money every month doing that.  I told her I thought it would be too stressful.  Then we had a very nice conversation about other things.

Later that day, I just couldn’t get her suggestion out of my head.  Then I remembered my vintage shop idea.  Bingo!  I had honestly forgotten all about that idea.  So, thanks to Emily, I will be opening “The Funky Lamp” where I will sell one-of-a-kind and handmade fashion and home decor items.  I know it won’t be easy and the competition is fierce, but I’ve just got a feeling about this.  Keep on the lookout for my little store to open next week…and encourage me please!  This is so exciting!  …and intimidating.

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