Saturday, July 4, 2015

Joelle's Bedroom

When I first posted pictures of Joelle's room in July of 2012, I thought she was coming home just a few months after rushing to put her room together!  Little did we know that God had a different plan, and it would be 8 months until little Miss made her debut!  Since coming home she has grown up quite a bit and we have moved houses!  While her room still has the same feel and most of the same decorations in place, I thought I'd give a little update!

Her room is quite a bit larger in our new house.  If she actually played with toys while she was upstairs, she would have plenty of room, ha!
 Her bedding and decor here is all the same.  We just added a quilt that we had made with fabrics that we bought in the Congo while picking her up.  I also added a fabric banner that I made for her 4th birthday :)  Oh, and she needed a little table so that we could house her alarm... sister wakes up every school morning with her alarm!  I don't even have to go upstairs to make sure she is up!!  My plan is to paint this little table, but that hasn't happened yet!
 I added a little hanging display that I found on Jane.com a while back.  All of those prints were free finds from several different blogs!  You can find those HERE and HERE
 We found that turquoise dresser at First Monday in Canton.  It matched her other little wardrobe perfectly and didn't even need to be painted!  She has a bathroom and closet attached to her bedroom... it's quite the space up there.
 This little wardrobe is still one of my favorite pieces, although now it has a more practical use than before.  Jared originally made it with the intent of housing dress-up items, but Joelle grew out of that phase pretty quickly.  Now we use it for skirts, headbands, hats, etc!  The Sunshine decor is from Linen and Lace!
 I bought quite a few things from Hobby Lobby and Home Goods for her new room.  And, of course, every little girl needs a place for her picture with Cinderella :)
 Joelle really does love her space even though she doesn't spend just a ton of time in her room.  She sleeps and reads in there, but would prefer to be downstairs for most of the day.  It's definitely nice to have all of the kid stuff upstairs when she has her friends over to play!  The majority of her toys stay in her playroom.  So that helps keep things nice and clean in her bedroom :)
While I did pick up the space so that I could take pictures of it, Joelle does a really good job of keeping it clean.  I don't expect it to be perfect all of the time, but I do want to raise her so that when she has her own place she will take pride in it.  I don't take the fact that I'm raising a future-mommy and wife lightly.  Sometimes it would be so much faster for me to clean things up and put them away, but if I don't teach her how to do those things, then who will??!!  Now, her closet... that's another story, ha!!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Life Lately.

It has been a slow couple of months over in our adoption world.  Progress is being made but it is S-L-O-W and *kind of* steady.  If I'm just going to be honest, I try not to dwell on it too much. Dwelling leads to worrying... worrying leads to sadness... sadness leads to tears... and ain't nobody got time to cry in the summer!  People often say, "I don't know how you do it!  How can you be so patient??"  Well, folks, the one and only reason we are able to make it day-to-day without any major meltdowns (coming from me, of course) is by the grace of God.  He provides us with comfort and peace that we could definitely not get from anyone or anywhere else.  He led us to our adoption journey, so who are we to NOT trust Him??!!  I'm not saying it is easy, but when the days get hard, and the wait gets long, it brings so much peace to know that my Heavenly Father can see my two boys, He can meet their needs, and He cares about them.

He also provides unexpected blessings... today we found out that "I" (our littlest) is 33 inches tall and weighs 28 pounds.  We got brand-spankin' new pictures of him.  He's being well taken care of, loved on, and nurtured by one of the sweetest foster families.  Bless their hearts... they probably get to listen to this annoying car we gave him no less than 100 times a day!!!  
We may not have gotten the BIG adoption news that we had hoped for today, but God continues to give us His peace.
And, don't you worry, as soon as I can blow up social media, the blogosphere, and the world with pictures of my little ones... I will be all over it!  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Beginning of the End.....We Hope

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think....." (Ephesians 3: 20)

I'm working on a message for this Sunday morning at church over this text, and I've been searching for that perfect illustration to really drive this verse home....as if I need to illustrate God's Word to make it better.  We have so many things to be thankful for, as a family and as a church, but when's the last time God really did some far beyond anything you ever dreamed of?  It probably happens every day and God's goodness has numbed us in a way, but today it happened....and when we say it happened....IT HAPPENED.

For the past two years we've been wading through red tape to try to bring home our sons from Africa.  Most of you know we had the chance to travel and meet one of our boys just a few weeks ago, and it was an incredible experience.  We have been getting incredibly close to bringing one of them home, but no children have been allowed to legally leave the country for over 600 days.  By legally I mean that people with integrity have submitted to government authorities and chosen not to find 'alternate' ways of bringing home their adopted children.....let's not get into that.

The past few months have been full of promises that felt empty, and not a lot of movement.  Just a few days ago we received a phone call that said it looked like children would be coming home soon.  Joelle still has friends she lived with that are stuck and have not come home to be with their families.  I'm not sure we can ever understand how blessed we were to bring her home two years ago just before this suspension began!  But even after the phone call, promises felt a little empty and it seemed like the same old story.  We've been told to hang in there more times than I'd like to count.  We smile and tell our story over and over every Sunday to friends and family in the community and at church.  We know people care about us, pray for us, and love us.....but telling the story gets old and living it out weighs a lot.

Back track a few years....we actually started the adoption of our first son after the suspension began.  We stepped out in faith, not knowing how long it would last.  We were the crazy people that began an adoption when adoptions were not being completed.  We felt like the Lord was leading us to push through and trust in Him....so that's what we did.  Almost two years....over 600 days.....and this morning, the news finally hit the press!

The suspension is over....adoptions are being completed.....and kids may come home as soon as next week!  You learn to take everything with a grain of salt.  We could still be in this process for a while longer depending on how long it takes to clear over 1,000 cases.  But I've also learned that God is more than able to do abundantly more than anything I could ever ask for or think of.  There's not much more to say than God is good.  When He leads you to the door of an opportunity, He's always faithful to walk through the door with you....and sometimes drag you through it.  It's been a long wait for so many families.  There have been many times we wondered at what point we will have to move our family to join our sons.  I've wondered what today would be like....do you strip down like David and dance in the streets?  Do you sit and cry and hope it's true?  Would the day ever actually happen?  And I can honestly tell you, when I finally woke up and realized what was going on, the only thought that came to my mind was God is so good!

Even through the waiting.  Even through the hurt.  Even in leaving our son in one of the most impoverished countries on earth just a few weeks ago....hoping we'd see him again.  God has been so good to us.

I'm not really sure what you're asking God for today.  Hopefully it's something with some eternal value.  I can tell you we lived through Ephesians 3:20, and are clinging to hope that He has done just that.  I can promise that whatever you're praying for today is so small compared to what God is able to do.  The journey isn't over....but we're praying it won't be long.

Join us in praying for over 1,000 kids that may soon get to travel home for the first time.  There's so much anxiety with all of the momma's out there today....pray that God would work swiftly, and break through all of the barriers that adoption can build.  Pray that God would do much more than just bring our kids home....He's capable of far more than that!

Hopefully we'll have a family picture to publicly post in the next few months....you'd have a hard time understanding just how beautiful my family is without seeing it for yourself!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Where do we go from here?

It feels like it was weeks ago that we left our son to come back home.  The 28 hour journey home really makes you lose track of time.  As we were unpacking, starting our laundry, and trying to get our house in order for the upcoming week I kept going back to one single thought, "How do I go about acting/feeling/appearing normal when I just experienced something so beautiful just a few days ago?  How do I go about my daily business after being able to hug, kiss, bathe, care for, read to, play with, feed, and love on my little boy when I'm now not able to do those things any longer."  

And I think that's where I'm stuck right now.  I'm so thankful and feel tremendously blessed for our week in the DRC.  My heart bursts when I see how well Joelle is doing.  The fact that she is home is such a HUGE blessing because she could still be there today.  I'm also comforted in knowing that our littlest guy is in a great foster home where he is being loved, cared for, taken to church, and fed.  I hold to the fact that God called us to adopt and cares for my children way greater than I ever could.  I cling to His faithfulness and how He has always been so good to my family.  

So, even though it's tough...real tough...leaving our brother bear thousands of miles away, I want to reflect on the good things.  I wish I could show him off and flaunt pictures of his flashy smile and chubby cheeks.  I can't wait for the day to be able to do that.  For now, I'm going to recap some of the blessings...

Joelle:
Joelle did AWESOME on this trip.  She slept on the planes, ate like a champ, and had the best attitude for traveling so much in such a little amount of time.  She was a trooper when we had to show little brother more attention than her.  Did she get jealous?  Absolutely.  We kept reaffirming her that she is loved, she is beautiful, and she's the best thing that has ever happened to our family.  Let me tell you... little brother will never have to do a thing on his own.  She was there to pick him up, hold a hand, wait on him hand and foot, and play with cars even though she'd rather not.  She cleaned up after him, fetched his toys when they would roll under the bed, and helped with his clothes/shoes whenever she had the chance.  That little girl is going to be one heck of a mama one day.  She's just a natural. 

Jared took Joelle on a little date to the fabric market.  They stopped by the hotel room we stayed in when we brought her home.  I love that Jared thought of that... how special to remind her of those precious days!
Traveling:
We had the best seats on all six of our flights.  On a row of four, we always had an extra seat, giving us plenty  of room to stretch out.  There were hardly no delays, no need to rush from plane to plane, and no set backs in around 60 hours of traveling.  Besides just being tired and achey, we are all good to go!  

Brother Bear:
Goodness, he's a sweet little mess, y'all.  He cried/moped for about an hour after we first met him.  He was scared, in shock, and just unsure of what was going on.  You have to remember there is a HUGE language barrier.  He knows NO English, so we couldn't explain what was happening or defend ourselves in any way.  After about an hour, some food, a nap and a bath he really warmed up to us.  When he woke up from that first nap it was like he was a new little man!  He and Joelle played with cars, kicked/threw the ball back and forth, watched some movies, and played a lot of tickle monster.  I think Jared said it best when he said something along the lines of... everyone wants interaction and relationships.  It's so true!  We just had to get from wanting to watch, hold, and observe his every little move so that we could interact, get down on his level, and do silly things to make him comfortable.  
Here are some things we learned about him:

He is an incredible eater... messy, but incredible.  He will try anything.  In our time together he ate pizza, hamburgers, fries, spaghetti, powdered donuts (his favorite!!), chocolate pudding, applesauce, muffins, crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, and lots more junk food... ha!  We will work on being healthy later on ;)

He wears his snot, food, and spit on his shirt at all times.  

He covers his eyes when he is upset or sleepy.

He doesn't like dogs... and swats at them to go away (Sorry, Marley!!)

He learned to love brushing his teeth and would stick out his tongue for me after a few tries.

During his last shower he was all smiles and tried to use a loofah on his own.  He got the hang of things really fast!

He has great fine motor skills.  I think he will be right-handed, but he still uses both to color, throw, complete tasks.

He wears diapers, which is nice because he can't communicate potty procedures just yet!

He prefers to be clothed with his shoes on, but doesn't get upset if you undress him either.

He would reach his arms up to us to be held.  He took well to all three of us... didn't prefer on over the other.

We brought several cars for him and he was always willing to share with Joelle even if she didn't ask.  He would just hand her an extra when they were playing.

He will definitely follow every move Joelle makes.  He observed her every little action.  And, let's face it, she loved every minute of it!!

The only time he would whine was when his car would go under the bed or if we told him no (he wanted to throw his cars on people's head and for some reason we wouldn't let him, ha!).  He responded well to us correcting him even if it took him a few minutes.

He's quite the sleeper!  He slept between 10-12 hours each night and took 1-2 hour naps during the day.  If you wake him up early he will cry for a minute, but give him a snack and your his  best friend again ;)

He doesn't have to be entertained at all times.  He sat patiently at the Embassy for over 2 hours while we waited to file paperwork.

He will sit on the floor and play with a ball or his cars for long periods of time.  This is HUGE!  It took Joelle over a year to be able to do this, and still prefers to be with people rather than play by herself.  

He didn't cry when we left but he definitely shut down when he saw his foster mom.  He loves that lady to pieces so for him to have adjusted to us in such a short amount of time was a great thing!  We left him with pictures, clothes, toys, snacks, etc so that he could be reminded of us.  We are praying that when we are reunited he remembers that he can trust us and knows we will take care of him.  Of course... he is two... so that could all be forgotten by then!!!

I could go on and on and on and on, but I won't bore you with every little detail.  I've been asked a lot about his age/size.  He is 2 1/2 (birthday is October 13), and wears a 2T although that's still a little big for him.  I brought a pair of 3T shorts and they literally fell right off his body!

Oh, and we have no idea when he is coming home.  Best case scenario would be this summer, but there are no certainties  when it comes to adoption.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for our trip and our little guy.  I'll post about our other little guy later and why we didn't get to see him also.  That's a whole different story for a different blog post :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Courts, Planes, a Boy Room, and More Luggage than a Family Should Carry

At this point I almost feel like a broken record....we have another IMPORTANT court date tomorrow morning (Monday) that could possibly put an end to a lot of the drama going on with one of our adoptions.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out our last blog post for a little more info.  And the Lemons' family is just 7 days away from leavin' on a jet plane to meet our boys!
{{Starting to get packed and ready to go!  We have boy things, lots of meds, tons of snack foods, dispersed clothes, and care packages/vitamins for over 50 kids!!}}
We've been waiting a few weeks for our court date in the appeals court, and we feel really good about where we stand.  We aren't sure how long it will take, but we're praying hard that tomorrow morning brings an end to a lot of unnecessary drama and court dates.  If everything works out, next Tuesday we'll be holding both of our boys in our arms.  And if court continues to linger, we'll be grateful for the time we get to spend with one of our boys next week, but it'll be pretty tough being half way across the world, just a few minutes from our son, and unable to even make contact with him.

So calling all folks with faith:  join us in prayer that God would move mountains in our court case tomorrow so our son can clearly see that he has a family that loves him, cares for him, and is coming to get him soon.  That's probably our biggest desire right now.  We're praying for the judge, our lawyer, the people that are doing wrong, and most of all,  our son!

We're also really excited that we may have some big news later this week to share.  We're not really at a point where we can share this yet, but I can tell you God hears our words, and He is good!  As we continue to pray for the hundreds of children who are just one piece of paper away from joining their families in the United States, we're believing that God will move in a big way to make that happen....and we know it's possible right now!

Did you know that Joelle has a few friends she lived with 3 years ago, that are still waiting to come home to their forever families?  Can you imagine the pain, frustration, and anticipation of waiting, every day, for a phone call that you can join your child and give him/her a forever family?  We are asking God to finish it all this week!

For those of you that have been on the journey with us, and have asked us and listened, even when we rambled on and on...thank you so much for your support.  We are so close, and still feel so far away.  The prayer, support, and encouragement have been such a huge blessing to our family.  And it's been such an incredible illustration of how big and good our God is to our daughter.
_________________________________________________________________________________

We will leave you with some pictures of the bedroom for our littlest boy.  I {Amy now} was very reluctant at first to get started because I'm so used to pink, frills, and all things girly!  Once I started it was hard to press the pause button, but we have been doing a little at a time over the last few months.  We finally pulled the plug and finished up today.  I must say that my favorite spots in our home are all of our kid areas.  I find great joy in picking things out for each of them, piecing it together, and making a special place for each little individual.  I've also found great solitude many evenings as I pray by their bedside asking the Lord for miracle after miracle.  He has been so faithful to care for, protect, and move mountains for all three of my children.  I can't wait for the day when we are able to all five join hands before bedtime and pray as a family.

{I made these prints using clipart from Etsy.  The chain was from Jane.com a while back}

  
{Table from First Monday in Canton, animal bins from Amazon, A-Z art and white dog from Home Goods, I and Looney Tunes art from Hobby Lobby}
{Yellow Beanbag, Robot/Rocket Art, and Shelf from Target, Robot Pillow from HomeGoods}
{Bedding from Target, Accent Pillows from Land of Nod, Dresser from First Monday in Canton}

  
{Giraffe Hanging from Hobby Lobby, Plush Deer Mount from Bass Pro}
{Nightstand is a trashcan from Lowe's :), Lamp from Amazon}

Now all we need is a chubby-cheeked little boy running around messing everything up!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Adoption/Prayer Update from the Lemons'

I have a tendency to say too much...which could mean this blog post won't stay up long.  I'm not really sure what I can say and what I'm suppose to keep quiet, but honestly, we're asking the Lord for favor and hope you'll join us.  For quite some time Amy and I have been asking our family, friends, and church to join us in praying for a lingering court case in one of our adoptions.  We're asking for prayer again today, but wanted to let you in on what's going on....at least partially.

Our adoption with 'I' is going quickly and smoothly so far.  God has been so faithful to walk us through.  He's legally ours, and we are hoping to travel next month to meet him and file some paperwork with immigration.  He can't come home yet, but we are getting close.  We'd definitely appreciate prayers as that journey begins to unfold.  To meet our son for the first time, and turn and leave him half way across the globe will not be an easy task, but we really believe it's a step we need to take.  We're just waiting on an Embassy appointment!

Our other adoption hasn't been quite as smooth.  We have been in process with 'A' for about a year and a half now, and it's still not completed.  Last year our agency allowed us to move him into a different orphanage for a transition period.  And for just a moment, let me say how incredible our adoption agency is!  They have more integrity in their pinky finger than I've seen in most agencies through and through.  They've walked with us, been transparent when we've all made mistakes, and have even stopped taking money until things are settled.  One of our ladies in particular has become what I would consider a close friend.  Joelle talks about her often, and we are so grateful for her.

The transition was a decision we (Amy and I) made on our own.  When 'A' was sent into this orphanage it seemed like a huge blessing from heaven.  We were getting updates, and a few families were contributing to really make this a great home for our kids.  We were committed to doing everything within our power to make this home a safe place for children for years to come, even after our boys were home.  Since that moment we've had a person that has come in and done everything she can to wreck our adoption.  She's made false claims about our son that have resulted in a court battle.  Without going into a lot of detail, tomorrow is supposedly our last court date where the court will make a final decision.

I want to make sure skeptics fully understand that we understand adoption.  Adoption was never the plan of Creation.  Adoption is a beautiful redemption from the fall of sin.  The fact that a child cannot stay with his/her biological family was never in God's plan.....it's a pretty good reminder of what sin has done to the beauty God created.  Adoption is redemption from brokenness.  I remember standing with Joelle's biological father two years ago.  He was a good man.  He was a good father that sacrificed everything so his child could live.  He's not a bad man.  We pray for him.  We talk about him and his family.  He sacrificed his own desires for the life of his child.  It was messy, ugly, and wasn't the highlight of his life...adoption is sacrifice.  It's sacrifice for everyone involved....especially our children.  If a child has a biological family member capable of caring for him/her, Amy and I will always 100% support them!  But our children's families can't, and have made very clear that their situations were dire without adoption.  A's biological family has made very clear what their desires are, and we are a part of them.

So we are asking our family and friends to join us in powerful prayer today/tonight as a judge we've never met sits in a court we've never seen, and rules on a case that will ultimately change our lives forever, one way or the other.  If court goes our way, the plan is to hold both of our boys on our trip next month.  If it doesn't we're not really sure where it leaves us, because we don't have access to A.

This has all been a beautiful reminder of how out of control our lives are.  That's good to remember from time to time.  God is good....really good.  And we trust 100% that regardless of the decision made tomorrow, or even if it is put off for the millionth time, God's plan is always best.  But we also know that a God that created all ex nihilo (out of nothing) is more than capable os squashing the enemy and showing us favor tomorrow.  We believe that God is capable of redeeming the people that have caused us the most heartache over the past six months.

And that's what we'd ask.  Pray for those that are doing wrong.  Pray that the Lord would grab their hearts and show grace in a way that draws them to His goodness.  So many moments I've wanted to pray destruction and evil on them....but God has shown me that even our enemies need grace.  I'm praying for her today.  If she's reading this, know that our family is praying that God would show you His grace!  Pray that the courts would do what's right tomorrow....we believe we've been very transparent and done exactly what God has called us to.  We, and our agency, have shown integrity and refused to lower our morals/ethics.  We have done right.  Pray that He would reveal this tomorrow and we'd get closure.

And last....pray for the hundreds of children that are stuck right now and unable to come to the United States.  The reason is really not important.  One of our families lost their son last week due to preventable causes, and we believe enough is enough.  We're hoping the red tape will be cut this week, and we'll gain a few hundred beautiful new citizens!

Lots to pray about, and we hope you'll join us as we rely on the true Judge that doesn't needs courts and governments to get things done!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Life Lately

Well, I am just going to throw this out there... I'm terrible at updating this little blog.  Unfortunately, time just gets the best of me and Instagram/Facebook is so much quicker than writing out a blog post.  BUT, for the sake of memories, I decided to do a "what's been going on lately" write-up!  So, in no particular order, here's what life has been like in 2015 so far!

1.  We have had some CRAZY weather here in North Texas this winter.  The snow/ice kept us home for three different snow days.  It was great to spend some extra time as a family.  This particular day brought us lots of puffy snow, and we lasted all of 15 minutes outside playing in it!  As much as Joelle loves the thought of snow, she would still prefer to stay inside and just look at it from afar!

We did the typical "we never get any snow so we are going to cram everything possible in 10 minutes" thing... snow ice cream, snow angels, mini-snowmen, snowball fights!
 So glad she has a daddy like Jared because I could hardly step foot out of the garage in fear of getting too cold!
2.  Joelle's still rockin' the Kindergarten thing!  She's become quite the little reader... and is now reading on a level 12!  That's about a mid-year 1st grade reading level :))  (Need I remind you that she has only known English for TWO years??!!) We couldn't be more proud!
 The best part is she LOVES everything about school.  She prayed and prayed that we wouldn't have to stay home on those snow days.  She just loves her teacher, working, and the little friends that she has made!  I know it won't always be like that, so I'm cherishing every moment!
3.  We've been trying out different hairstyles!  My goal was to learn how to braid, but it's just not happening right now.  Thankfully we found a lovely lady about 10 minutes away that will try any of my ideas!  AND, she's super fast!  This hairstyle took about 45 minutes and will last for 2 weeks.  I still really love the puffs, and the braids back to puffs gives it a new, fun look!
4.  We also celebrated Joelle's 2nd Gotcha Day!  We bought fabric while picking up Joelle in the Congo.  Jared met a sweet lady in town that is a wonderful quilter!  She turned the fabric into a beautiful quilt!
 To celebrate her gotcha day we did a few things... Medieval Times, ice skating, and ate at her favorite restaurant!  It was a fun weekend until I got sick as a dog!
 5.  For Valentine's Day this year we decided on a family date rather than just going out as a couple.  We knew that we would be taking an anniversary trip not too long after, so we wanted to include Joelle in on the Valentine's festivities!  
 6.  Speaking of anniversaries... Jared and I celebrated TEN years of marriage on March 12th!  Jared planned the PERFECT vacation to Turks and Caicos.  We had such a great time together, and it was just as beautiful as can be!  I even got BACK in the water to snorkel after Jared saw a shark just a few feet away from me.  I call that conquering a pretty large fear of mine!
We are taking Joelle there in June, so we went to the location where we will be staying and gave her a little FaceTime tour.  We can't wait to go back!
 BUT, we missed Joelle quite a bit, so we let her sleep on our floor when we got home!  We also went a little crazy buying every stuffed animal we found.  I mean, every girl needs a huge lobster, whale, and stingray from the Turks, right?!
7.  We are still persevering with adopting our two little boys.  We've had quite a bit of movement, and I hope to update that whole process on here very soon.  Until then, we appreciate all of your prayers!