Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Marina!

Holy smoly we survived Christmas and ten thousand questions on when we get to open presents by Evan the un-weary warrior. I tried to talk a bit about whose birthday it is we celebrate and why but conceded that he is 4 and a foundation is different from a finished construction...feeling that the foundation is the most important step this year. Our oldest dog died Christmas eve, and I found Pita Christmas day under the shed after a hard rain. I told Evan that God must have given Caylyn the dog for Christmas and although he cried, he was ok with that. somehow after explaining it to him I felt alot better too. We are currently in Florida on our yearly trek to seek out sunshine since Caylyn moved on. Christmas was a bit more festive this year and we found ourselves celebrating more than beating down the conflict of grief with celebrating, whereas last year I think grief won out by a landslide. I personally would be lost without the cirlce of family and friends that join hands and prayers for us and realize one day too that you will know I prayed for you all as well. In that regard we keep each other standing and moving through life.

Tomorrow is Marina's birthday and there is nothing she needs more than us at this point (so no socks and underwear just yet:). She will have spent 5 years of her life in an orphanage with no idea of a mom and dad and brother. I want to request something that will take about 5 minutes for you to do. I heard about this cool idea the other day and it is called 5&5...I am going to ask for a 5 dollar donation for Marina for her birthday through our sponsorship link then can you forward it to at least 5 people who you truly believe will also donate 5.00 for her adoption fund...and see if they can forward it to 5 people they will truly believe will donate. Guys, we are 9000.00 away from bringing her home. 5 bucks is a cup of coffee to you and me, and a golden ticket to a family for Marina. Please pray this turns into a birthday miracle for her. And for us as well. Then we can all know that we invested just a little bit but as a team it will bring her home. Thank you thank you thank you. Cathy Tully and Evan

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Counting down Christmas

Evan is getting to be quite the little walking calendar and since he can now read his name he is able to keep a tally of what is his upcoming gifts under the tree...which, to date, is all of them! His enthusiasm is a catalyst to move us forward and although it still feels raw to celebrate much, his encouragement is working its magic. Christmas is coming and Evan is the grand announcer! He planned the raising of the tree, and the lights on the bushes and we complied. Yesterday the three oversized kittens that were napping under the tree were not enough to simply look warm and festive. Evan wrapped his own sneakers and some toys in some confiscated gift bags and begged us to come see!! I have to say he has a real flair for merchandising. This weekend we will actually start wrapping gifts and raising the excitement level up a notch or two. It does not hurt that the weather report has said snow and freezing rain every nine minutes tonight. Festive is creeping in through the segway of a 4 year old little boy. Evan commandeered Tully on a must do shopping trip the other night. Evan went into his room and got down his bank and stated he had to buy his friends gifts that very minute, especially since Jenna Kate was his girlfriend and she needed a gift. (Sigh) Tully took the roll of chauffer and the pair went out to dinner at Mcdonalds and a "the sky is the limit" shopping journey through Dollar tree. They had a blast and Evan did all the decision making, which was totally impressive when he was able to share with me his chosen gifts. He really has good taste and decided all by himself who would get what. He is still proud about that! Personally so am I that he thought of his friends in such an independent manner.

Elsewhere in the world hope is seeping in through the segway of a little girl who does not know she waits for us. Our home study has been sent to Social services for committee review. I assume it will take way longer than I hope but it is completely out of my hands at this point. Tomorrow morning I will take a gamble and put the I-600a immigration request in the mailbox as well. Logical thinkers tell me to wait until I hear from DSS in case they turn us down. The warrior in me knows I will take them to task if they turn us down so I will go ahead and file for our fingerprint appointment and see if we cannot shave some time off of our wait. I have that goal of February 1 outlined in sunlight in my heart as the day we hope to submit our completed everything to Ukraine. This is becoming more and more of a reality every day and it takes my breath away. It is the day the Ukrainian State Department of Adoption reopens for the year and we have worked hard to get the right to stand in that line.
Tully and I spoke a little last night about upcoming events. He remembers the conversation regarding deciding to help Marina much differently than I do. I found it very interesting that we can tell this same story so differently. I think our fears and memories get hazy in order to propel us forward sometimes. In short, he thinks it was me pushing us forward and I felt that the lead was his (even if only temporarily:) "She" that completes thousands of documents is ultimately in charge of motion, at least to a certain degree. I think that God simply used us for each other to take steps forward that we might otherwise have been afraid to make.
We are in still in need of prayers through the holidays. It is still difficult. I wonder that it will be that way forever, even though we have fun in between the hard times. And yet this year is so different from last in that we have come a long way. God's grace is sufficient for us. God has Caylyn and that is sufficient for us. God gave us Jesus as the ultimate lamb, perfect and sacrificial. The more I learn about that kind of love, the more I want to learn. May we learn by doing.
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Overload week

This has been one of the most emotional weeks I can remember going through since Caylyn left us. Long term little warrior David Wilkerson relocated to heaven this past week and in all seriousness I always believed him to be the alternate ending to what we experienced but with all the best choices and hard fight that family went through, the ending was a sad surprise to those of us still on the planet earth. His relapse manifested as tumors and went undetected in his bloodwork. So by the time the family discovered the life altering problem, there was not one decision to make regarding his care. I went to his life celebration and out of that great big church I realized I was sitting one row over from the third family group of our "club" ...The Kain family. Little Julia also has DS and has battled Leukemia. She was there and looking so precious I almost had trouble focusing on the event at hand. As I greeted them after the service it was blatantly obvious that they are the sole survivor of our group. Seeing Julia (age 3) was such a journey back to that wonderful age with Caylyn. You cannot believe how much kids with DS remind you of each other, despite how infinitely different they are. Anyhow as I was crumbling inside suddenly Julia reaches for me and is in my arms before I can fully appreciate the moment. Then she wraps her little arms around my neck and lays her head on my shoulder. I have never fought tears so hard and lost that battle so quickly for as long as I can remember. I layed my head back on her little shoulder and my tears fell as I remembered how yummy those hugs are. They are soul hugs, and you must believe me when I tell you that they encompass the heart completely. I looked up and her dad had tears running down his face. Then Julia went back to her sister. Over in mere seconds but one of those fine kodak memories that somehow remain timeless in a thirsty soul.
At some point this last week I dreamed of Marina. That she was sweet and could repeat what we were saying to her. Which means I could hear her voice. This was the first time I have dreamed of her and it was enchanting. For the last few months I have believed her to be in various institutions. Yesterday I received this email that came via Ukraine.

Cathy, Marina was transferred to an older child orphanage for all typical children. So she is doing very well and is NOT at the institution. He has spoken with her parents and they are very glad for her to be adopted by your family.
So he reiterated what I told can request only Marina upfront, visit her, know her, and decide at that time if you'd like to consider a 2nd child. You would have to request a 2nd appt at the SDA, go back to Kiev, etc to get thr 2nd child's official referral....
He says she is a beautiful child, easy, calm and affectionate.
There are no other children at her new orphanage with Down syndrome at this time.

This news was welcomed with tears of joy. I was so surprised at how deeply this affected me. She is doing better than I had imagined and my intensity for seeing her is not driven by fear for her well being as it is simply because I am growing to love her more and more every day. Today she is especially real to me and I cannot wait to see her. Evan was completely enchanting when I told him that God was looking out especially well for Marina and that she was doing well. He jumped out of his chair and ran and hugged me, telling me this was wonderful! I did not see that coming! He understands so much for a 4 year old. And he is looking forward to being her brother, asking me many questions that I have no answer for. I now have two peices of information on Marina. One is her photo, that is old. The other is this update as to where she is. Not too much I can share with Evan that is not speculation.

Our home study is nearly ready to go to DSS for their final approval. I have finished all my information finding and returned it to our social worker. Then it goes to immigration for processing. Pray for speed and precision for God's timing and reasoning for this rocky journey. Evan is sleeping next to me as i type this, having gotten up to see if it has snowed at 7 am, which it has not. But the day is cold and grey, something we do not usually see until February here in the south. Love, Cathy

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Clarity Hilarity"

Ok lets see if I can explain this with a straight face. We have waited three weeks for DSS to give us the go ahead with their blessing to continue this road of adoption since receiving the official state pardon. I finally sent a short letter asking what in the world we were waiting on...which I never received a personal response to. Instead within a day or two of my letter the higher ups and lawyers of DSS contacted my home study coordinator and said she could go ahead and do our home study and take our 1600.00 but they still reserve the right to deny our request. Now, I ask you, how straight is your face right now? The only thing I can come to a conclusion over is that we are a one has ever actually bothered with getting the requested pardon so DSS has no protocol to go by in figuring out what to do with us. They do not want the responsibility of being wrong but will acknowledge their kudos when they are right, in the end. There is no road map for us to go get Marina. We blaze the trail, off-roading with Jesus once again. I don't know about you but it feels like there are land mines everywhere I step. Why is this so insidiously difficult for people to see this as not our mission but one from a much higher authority? We didn't get here by ourselves and we sure won't get there on our own merit either. Getting in God's way will glorify Him in the end because He will triumph but I am only human and I am totally going to look war torn by the time we open our arms to this small child. I can see it now...Hi Marina, I will be serving as your earthly mother should I last through the roadtrip to get you...
And speaking of Hi Marina...I went to church by myself this morning because Tully stayed home with Evan who was coughing his head off...and as I was listening to the music I got so caught up in realizing that one day she really will be here, God willing. I really will hold her little hand and watch her as the music flows through her from head to toe. The tears began to well and then fall. The sermon was on Love. The only change I think I could make to 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is should say that love is fierce. I find that my love is not very patient with the space that is between us. It is the same sort of determination that I feel when I know I will see Caylyn again and throw my arms around her too. Mother love. The kind that can make you crazy insane to keep harm from your little one, protecting at all costs. Mother bears insight a sort of connotation for a reason...Then there is Jesus love. The kind of love that can make you crazy insane to understand that someone loves you that much...enough to die for me and you and prepare a place for me and you, and my children, and your children...for all those that love Him too. What an honor to be loved by the King of the Universe. What an humble honor. May we be fiercely full of love and grace and thanksgiving as we celebrate a day of being thankful for all that we are, no matter where we are. Our opportunities are boundless when they are backed by God Himself.
Plowing forward. This is our journey with the breathe of God at our back.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why do we wait?

I was up early this morning and have found my way to another persons' blog that I find totally captivating. I actually found it last night but after four hours at Chucky cheese on a Friday night, I was unable to see out of both eyes, having been blinded by the shrill screams and sheer joy of a sea of children. Anything other than "see Jane Run" would have been over my head. Anyhow this blog is about this girl who just turned 21 and is....uh, I stop for the right words here, and they do not come. She is so much of an example of what I would love to see myself as comprehending in this world. She is simply amazingly full of obedient love that is way more authentic than Hollywood love (an oxymoron as no one in Hollywood ever seems to get it right). She is Jesus Love. Yeah, that is the right wording. the Journey
Anyhow I found this exerpt from her blog this morning and wanted to share it just a little further...

Francis Chan wrote, "How we live our days, is how we live our lives." I had to read it several times as I let it soak in. Because it is true. So often we find ourselves waiting for a specific moment, a specific call, something special. For what? How we spend our days... that will be our LIFE. Because today could be it. If Jesus came back today and said, "Let's go!" would we be ready? Would we be doing what we want to be doing when we meet Jesus? People say to me often, "You are so lucky that you found your calling, that you know your purpose in life." This statement boggles my mind. I AM so blessed to live the life that I do. But it isn't rocket science. God did NOT part the sky and shout out to me, "Katie! Serve my people." I read it in His word. You can too. We can all see as plain as day that Jesus says the number one commandment is to love the Lord and love your neighbor.

Wow. That is profoundly simple. Until you read it again. And widen the understanding. I want to do more and better than I did yesterday. Or the day before that. But in order to do that, I can only accomplish that when I let go of me. Because I am not big enough to do God size things. But God is big enough to do God size things through me when I let Him. And letting Him in feels like sunrise on my face. I saw a book title the other day while perusing Amazon and the title was a one sentence Whammy. "Deliver me from Me-ville". What else can I say? I did not even have to buy the book-(at least not yet:). The title alone was extremely loud in the way it pointed a finger. The apostle Paul talks about how every day he has to die to self. It sounds like we are giving something up that we need. But we are not. We are giving up smallville for a Grand Plan. Life is hard most days. What makes life hard is that we are often waiting for something that we have focused on as a goal. So we end up losing the days that we do have our hands on.
Today is a new day. Be thoughtful how you spend it because you exchange one day of your finite life for it. Leave something good that makes a difference where today is. I personally have succombed to the enemy of stolen opportunity many times. "where did the day go?" "Wow time flies"....Time never seems to just walk in sync with me. It either flies or crawls...and in clarity here, it does both at the same time. Wow this was a long day, but it sure flew by! What will today bring in opportunity to serve, to give? To share a kind word, a soft smile, a chance to make a difference in someone's day? I learned recently that church is not where your own ministry is. It might be, but the Church provides opportunities. Not ALL opportunities, but some. A few, really. But I am exposed to the Heart desires of God all the time. These are my own personal opportunities to serve. And I have probably blown it a million times. Conservatively speaking.
Grace from God gives today a new chance to be tomorrows yesterday with results. This is a lot like saying "play nice" and "don't run with scissors". We know these things and yet we allow the enemy to steal our days anyway, as we don't play nice and sometimes run with scissors when no one is looking. The next thing we know, we are in time out, and bleeding. Waiting on something we know in our souls will not look like the painting we have crafted. And the potential for it to be way better than our childish version is always there when we let it go. Trading finite wisdom for infinite. So Lord, I let go of the day and offer it to you. I know you know me. I know You love us all. Talk with me in my times of floundering and frustration, when I do not understand that you are indeed creating the most amazing tapestry of our wildest imaginations, if we would just stop pulling the threads and let you work.

If you did not know from the subject matter here, we are still waiting on approval from the next level of DSS. Slowly our dossier (french word for "your soul on paper") which is complete, is beginning to get un-complete as the time frame for said documents withers by the calendar of constriction--nothing can be over 6 months old, not even the ten year old marriage license--the notary on it has to be recent when it is submitted. The notary license has to be NOT expiring for a year after we submit. In blind faith I will re-order the documents. And the notary stamp has been reapplied for. Perhaps we will travel in the spring now. But I know it is not my plan to force. We can only be obedient to doing our part. Thanks for prayers. And I have finally wisened up and stopped asking God to teach me patience:). Now I just ask for it as a gift. Give me patience. I resist the obvious faux pas to tack on the word "Now".:)

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I cannot exactly figure out why we go camping. We compose lists of items not to be forgotten, (only to forget the flashlight), we listen to the relentless question from our 4 year old "Today? is today when we go camping?" This is the replacement question for "can we go camping at the beach?" It has been a quest-song for nearly 2 months. Writing that, now I remember why we are going camping. We were honed down as logical thinkers from months of rhetorical questions. I have let a 4 year old convince me it would be fun.
Yesterday we loaded up the Durango with tent, 2 blow up mattresses, 2 camp chairs, toys, clothes, bedding and bath items, small coffee pot, cookware, food for a week and no flashlight. We are going camping for 2 days. Never think an item is too obvious to put on the list.

My husband takes on the driving as it gives him radio control privileges. I cannot hear anything whatsoever because I have a new book and have been transported on page 11 into the story. Our son is settled in to the back seat with various items designed to keep "Are we there yet?" to a minimum for our 4.5 hour trip. All is well and the book is pretty good. I look up at the first "are we there yet"? so I can give a truthful answer. what I see is a big blue sign that says "Welcome to Georgia". Since we are camping in Murrells Inlet in Myrtle Beach this sign is not so welcome. We are almost 2 hours the wrong direction on I-20. There is no shortcut back. I will spare the details but Thank God Almighty for nap times for 4 year olds. When he awoke we were exactly back to the point we got off track, two and a half hours prior. There is no one in the car I do not feel sorry for. No, we are not there yet.

It is dusk going dark when we pull up to Huntington Island state park. Again we are greeted by a welcome sign that is nearly covered over by the no vacancy sign. This is not so welcome either. Seriously I begin to doubt my husbands salvation as I hear non christian verbage (and nounage) coming from his mouth. Twenty more minutes in the car is torture now but we break up the monotony with a victory cry when the illumination of the Dollar General sign looms ahead on Hwy 17 Garden City Beach. 3 flashlights and some tylenol and a pack of gum and socks later we are excited to be in the final 10 minutes of our prison on wheels. It starts to sprinkle small drops of rain.

we check in to a nearly packed ginormica camp ground and are given a sight near the bathroom. This sounds both great and logical as I sign the paperwork. As we find the sight, having circled the dark ginormica campground three times in search of "our" sight I realize the bathroom is lit up as a lighthouse beacon simulating daylight for all. It begins a steady rain. I walk back to the camp store to renegotiate our space. She kindly gives us the darkest on in the entire campground. At that point all the rangers have gathered around the glow of the weather radar screen. One pinpoint green dot of precipitation. Over the campground. I feel conspicuous now. I know it is over me. Rolling my eyes and blowing rain out of my dripping hair I mutter "Go figure" and nonchalantly head back out to traipse through the green dot effect. I get BACK in the car. We circle the campground entirely 2 more times to the irritation of those already asleep. We locate our pitch black hole and i am temporarily afraid that we will be sucked in to the dark never to return. I forget about this possible out to this impossible day as it begins to torrentially downpour. My laughter, not driven by joy, borders on maniacal. Having borrowed the tent, there is no familiar feel to the wet metal bars that fall into the mud. Luckily there is a picture of what it is supposed to look like and that has to suffice for instructions. I cannot wait for the rain to stop because I cannot stand sitting in the car for one more second. Our son deliriously cries that we are here! we are here!. It is too dark to know exactly where here is but yes, here we are none the less. In 30 minutes the tent is up thanks to the help of the head lights gracing 1/3 of the entire section of the campground we have been allotted between two large winnebagos. At 9:15 pm there is no way to start a campfire out of green wet wood. We eat cold hot dogs and tortilla chips, bananas and gogurts. Our 4 year old bounces in joy and says it is the best supper ever. I love him to pieces for carrying his positive outlook for this long. I now vow to stay with him on this. Tomorrow is indeed in sight.
The air mattress is also new as I bought it off craigslist just yesterday for fifteen dollars. It is awesome and actually the height of a regular bed with box springs. As I join my son in the tent for our dry cold dinner by flashlight I sit on the edge of the bed. Never do this unless you are in the circus. I realize too late that I have sat on air with a full plate of food. Seconds later I recover to squeals of delight from my son. My plate is semi-intact. My dignity far from it. "Do it again mom, that was funny!". Lucky for me my husband is still out muttering in the dark amidst the soft rain, trying to make a ham salad sandwich from memory, since he cannot see his hands.

Finally we are physically ready to release the day. Mentally it was gone hours ago. At 5 am I realize that the entire campground IS the flight pattern for the Myrtle Beach airport, now supporting jumbo jets bright and early...bright may be too optimistic there.

I lay in the soft darkness, remembering my prayer list and lifting up those I love and some I am not sure about but feel their burden, to the high court of powerful appeals. The soft breathing of both my husband and my son are the only sounds that filter through the air. Seamlessly the sun rises up the most beautiful morning. Coffee is brewed. Hot chocolate next. Fire brings about eggs and bacon, blueberry bagels, juice and yogurt. Our RV neighbors do not hate us as much as I had imagined the night before. The light of the day reveals that we are only 3 camp sight blocks to the beach...which we drive. We are not lazy but a 50 pound tired 4 year old will be heavy later on. The sky is a true Caribbean turquoise and it is 80*. We pile out of the car and our son hits 50 miles per hour on legs, failing to stop even due to the 65* water and the waves are screaming riptide. Actually I am screaming stop, riptide. He does and now I remember why we go camping. This beautiful day is why. The ocean is bigger than us and reminds us of God --wild and unpredictably predictable, and always there. "Look mom, magic shells!!" I agree, then back up and ask why they are magic...the answer is simply because they are so beautiful he says. I look at the beaten broken shells in his sandy wet hand. They are beautiful. I think they might be a lot like us. They became magic when they were noticed and appreciated.

With that thought wafting through my mind, my husband lays a perfect albeit lifeless monarch butterfly on these little pages of this now documented journey. The day may be fleeting but it is ours. Yesterday must have been the caterpillar. Today the beauty of a Monarch is laid in my lap.

I wrote this a couple weeks ago on our camping trip. I am sharing it here to remind me that sometimes even the worst part of a journey has its purpose. We are currently under review in the highest offices of DSS investigations. They do not make exception to their rule very often. I imagine very few people ask them to consider this request. I have a little more paperwork to gather tomorrow. Maybe that will be it. In the meantime we pray for Marina to remain healthy and patient and well out of harms way. I would hate for her to ever get to miss this family idea of a vacation:)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Major Hurdle -- CLEAR!

There is no leading up to a grandiose announcement--Tully got his pardon today and all pertinent papers have been delivered to the investigations division of DSS in Columbia. It should hit the head office at some point tomorrow. I can hardly believe it!
Now for the details...of course we were late due to a 15 car fender bender mess on I-26. I seriously wonder how those people ever get to work on time that live there. Traffic is hideous. The pardon started around 9 and Tully and I went in and faced the Pardon board members. They opened up the affair by asking various questions. Tully of course did not get a peep out of me to help but those board members seemed to want to hear from him mostly, and any of you that watch us in conversation know that it is a bad habit of mine to offer him my words when his might tumble around on his tongue...but not today. I tried to sit still and not bawl...the adrenaline is wicked in that sort of pressure. Getting up at 5 a.m. and consuming half a pot of coffee does not help. But it was only minutes later and we were escorted back to where my mom had Evan in the lobby. And we waited for their verdict. The NICEST woman came in to tell us his pardon was granted. I fought back the urge to bawl and the big boulder rolled off my chest. They even knew we needed our certificate of freedom right then and did what they could to provide it in about 15 minutes. That was it. I realized on the way there this morning that Evan thought we were actually getting Marina today but other than that it went much better than anything I could have expected. It has been a long exhausting busy day and tired is an understatement so I close with thanks to everyone who prayed and wrote letters and made phone calls on our behalf, which is really Marina's behalf. Life got a lot brighter for her today I think. Once we are approved through DSS which I expect soon, we can send off our information to request permission from immigration (USCIS). This will be the most difficult time frame. I must go finish some dossier paperwork now and research the immigration process since it changed 9 days ago. This must all be approved and notified back to us by Nov. 20th. Exactly 3 weeks. Or no travel date until the spring. Don't stop praying now!! Thanks fervently all of you, Cath

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Hearing

Well our pardon date is upon us! How quickly the time has crawled by. For those of you who have asked for information regarding this the hearings begin at 8:30 a.m. at 2221 Devine st. Suite 404 Columbia SC on Wednesday October 28th. I ask for prayers that all will go smooth sailings through this thing. I imagine Tully is nervous but he has not mentioned it so I am speculating as one who has known him for 15 years. Ultimately it is still not us who is most impacted so we view this as a preliminary adoption hearing because it is Marina that is in the balance here. Which brings me to another request. If you are so inclined and have not already written a letter of support, we could use a few to send to Dept of Social services to support our ability to be decent parents. They are the dept. standing right behind department of corrections who will next consider us as potential adoptive parents. I am hoping many things will take place by Halloween that will set us on the course to being cleared in a timely fashion by immigration. Our email address is for supportive parent letters. It does not have to be fancy or long. Just honest and "diplomatic".:)

We are heading out to go camping for a couple of days with Evan who has been on a "lets go camping at the beach" quest for a couple of months now. I checked the weather and it looks like either now or we will likely head to Hunting Island this weekend and see if it is as relaxing as it looks in the pictures on their web sight. We are really looking forward to this but no one as much as Evan who is binging off the walls with this dream come true. I love the child enthusiasm. It is totally to the edge and quite infectios as well--I wish we were more like that in our life quest but we tend to slow down on our hurrahs and our level of excitement gets stuck a little closer to the middle of the my prayer for you today is that we all find something that kickstarts our hearts and puts a smile all over us- and we invade someone else with it--someone else who is stuck in the middle of the road. What a neat goal to share with someone, as the sun is cresting over the horizon. And as our sun comes up, little Marina is heading for bed on the other side of the world....

Friday, October 16, 2009

From the outside in...

"After being on RR for a few months now, and reading about all of your lives, I have come to a new understanding about DS. First of all, I realize I knew very little about it in the first place. I have had 6 children and have never been tested for DS in pregnancy because, well... why?, I would love whomever God gave me. That said, I didn't really think much about down syndrome, haven't known anyone personally with it, and it seemed sort of like a 'scary unknown'.

But after peeking into all of your lives and especially 'getting to know' all the sweet children on RR, I have evolved into feeling like it is me who is missing out by NOT having a DS child. I feel like they represent pure love in it's most innocent form. I have mentioned to relatives that I think our next adoption will be a child with DS, and they look at me like I have two heads! But, they just haven't

'seen' yet. When I think of the Bible verse "let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these" I especially think of a child with DS, with their joy and innocence. And I thank all of you, and especially Andrea with her passion and love for these children, for opening my eyes and my heart to the beauty and potential of each child that the Lord has created with that special 'extra something' called down syndrome."


This was a recent post on our adoption chat group. I thought it was so amazing and it reminded me of how many people do not choose to follow through with a special needs birth because society convinces them that not perfect is not good enough. It also reminded me that sooo many people do not know that there is such joy in this life amongst the struggles. It is why we are adopting Marina. Because God loved us so much that He trusted us with Caylyn and knew that we would learn to live through Cay's life and ultimately through her death. I wonder that He held his breath as he waited for us to know that it would be a good thing to commit to more chaos and love in our lives. Loving is scary. Releasing someone you love to the arms of God is even scarier. To say you will do it again, well, that is either brave, loony...or we are being held to the standard that was the hopes for us in the first place. To get back up when gale force storms completely knock you out. To realize that Christ is standing behind you in a life changing game of trust--just fall back and don't even look. Now that is faith. Of course God has never dropped me, but he sure has scared me half to death a few times. He has a dramatic side.

Orphan sunday is coming up in November and if you ever thought that you were destined to do something big in your life consider that these kids are sitting on a shelf, already cast aside and waiting for something that they do not even know exists. A family. Consider sponsoring an adopting family, or become one. Life is meant to be lived. and you just have no idea what you are missing:)

We are doing everything possible to beat the clock on our dossier submission. The USCIS clearance requirements have been relocated to a central location in Texas. I have every suspician that this will not shorten the process. However my God is bigger than (even) our own government so if we are to travel then it will happen. It will happen easier with prayer. Maybe the difference is you. Please lift Marina for safe keeping? Thank you so much. Cathy

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jeremiah 33:3

Is it true, if you call to God that He will answer you? When is the last time that you did so with true expectations in your heart? I saw a sign once that asked why someone would expect a million dollar answer to a ten cent prayer and it really stuck with me. Is our God too small? A sky genie vending machine where we take our paltry requests? As Jonathan, our preacher asked us to consider today, how much time do we devote to talking with God? Time is His gift to us, and our gift back to Him. Ten percent tithe is the biblical request of our incoming funds, but what about ten percent of our time? Doesn't sound like much does it? But would you stop to consider it is 2 hours and 40 minutes a day? We often feel great if we remember to say our prayers going out the door in the morning, and as our head hits the pillow at night. And yet this is the most important relationship of all time. There is not a single issue that has not been addressed in some manner in the bible. Not one. He has given us so many words that address our heart. Our head, too. So I press this to you, seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God. Listen for his sacred echo, his Holy Spirit whispering softly to you. The answer is there. John tells us in 1 John 5:14 & 15 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him." The more time we spend seeking God's will, the more aligned we are to hear his voice and open up to the great and mighty things He would share with us. It is also how we will know what to ask that is of His will.

Tully and I are scheduled for his pardon hearing on October 28th at 8:30 a.m. so if you are in the Columbia SC neighborhood of the pardon and parole board, drop by in support. I am still trying to figure out how we are going to get there at that hour:) In addition I have written a request to the Department of Social Services to meet with their investigations board for a review of our request as well on the same day. It is ultimately them that we need to appease. I have yet to hear back but they likely have not had time to consider my request to meet with them so will post when we hear from them next. After that we will submit our 1-600 to INS, the immigration board who will consider our international request. We are moving as fast as we can, but it is not us who is leading this motion, or we would have been there already. As of last night we have indeed been informed that the Ukraine State Department of Adoptions will stop accepting dossiers (the entire compilation of US on paper) as of November 30, 2009. We have precious little time to manage this effort before Marina falls through the cracks. I ask that you please pray with us to conquer the walls between us and her. I do not believe this can be done without prayer. Prayer is what has gotten us to this point so I see no reason to slack on it now! :)

In addition to all of our own fundraising I have felt lead to assist another little girl who does NOT have a family as of yet. Reeces Rainbow utilizes the Christmas season to fund raise for their noncommitted children who have Down Syndrome in an effort to increase the grants for future families. This is how Marina came to have 5000 dollars in her grant before we committed to her. The focus of our Christmas child is Sophia who will be 2 in February of 2010. She is relatively young for a Ukrainian orphan and we hope to really make an impact with her fund raising. If you have any indiviual or group interest in assisting us with Sophia's grant raising please contact me at I will have bracelets available for her and also Christmas ornaments for her to commemorate that she is not forgotten.

Sophia will be 2 in February and has a mild heart defect and Down Syndrome. It is possible that her heart defect has healed, which is often the case with orphans checked at birth and then again years later. I will post more details of the fund raising as the opportunity solidifies. Thank you for remembering us and these beautiful children who have mistakenly been set on a shelf. Cathy

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pray for speed...

As of late I can only hear the echo of James, "You have not because you ask not." Please help us as we pray for the efforts to clear our past and our paperwork to plow forward at breakneck speed. We want Marina home before Christmas. With rumors of an Israeli preemptive strike in December and so many other grumblings in the world, I desperately want to get our family together and back on American ground. Craziness is brewing and I do not want her lost in the cracks of the earth. I wish they could all be safe somewhere, a place to call home that is lavished with love. "I cannot save all the starfish but I will make a difference to this one."

Russian Pressure is Growing in Ukraine

MOSCOW - Is the Obama Administration, busy pushing the “reset button” with Russia is about to suffer a geopolitical setback in Ukraine ? When talking to the security experts here, it sure looks like it.

Ukraine is the key to making Russia an empire and, some here believe, a superpower once again.

In the run up to Ukrainian presidential elections in January 2010, the Kremlin has been ratcheting up pressure on President Victor Yushchenko, which Moscow regularly vilifies as pro-American and anti-Russian. .

Ties between the two countries have increasingly frayed following the 2004 Orange Revolution, the 2006 and 2009 gas conflicts, and the war in Georgia last August. The relations have reached their lowest point in recent weeks, and there is a buzz in the Moscow policy elite of further mischief to come.

The current tensions between the two countries were starkly illustrated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent letter to the Ukrainian leadership.

Medvedev accused Preisdent Yushchenko of a litany of anti- Russian abuses, including arms supplies to Georgia before the 2008 war. Medvedev has announced withholding the appointment of the new Russian Ambassador to Ukraine until more “positive dynamics” are reached in bilateral relations after the elections.

A similar message was ominously conveyed in Medvedev’s presidential video blog. Standing on the balcony of his Black Sea residence in Sochi , with a war ship in the background, Medvedev delivered a stern message that resembled a threat of a war to come.

This letter and the video address were clearly intended to undermine pro-Western forces in Ukraine and offer support to pro-Russian politicians and separatists, especially in the Crimea, a majority-Russian speaking peninsula in the Black Sea .

The Russian leadership and Kremlin strategists believe that there is much at stake in the coming presidential election. Many of these issues are strategic, and after the lukewarm response by the West to the Georgian war and Russian-instigated secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Ukraine may be the next target.

The anti-Ukrainian rhetoric in Moscow resembles the invective against Georgia before and after the last war.

Ukrainian politicians call the Medvedev’s letter a blatant interference in Kyiv’s internal affairs. The anti-Ukrainian campaign is in synch with Russia ’s aspirations to secure the “privileged sphere of interests” President Medvedev called for after the Georgian war and many time since. It surely starts to look like an “strategic information campaign” before a massive political intervention — or worse.

Moscow has a number of goals in Ukraine . Foremost, Russia is determined to maintain its Black Sea Fleet base in the port of Sevastopol , beyond the expiration of the current naval basing agreement in 2017. Russian tactics to achieve this objective include distribution of Russian passports in Crimea; a campaign to change the procedure of appointing the mayor of Sevastopol, and the loud encouragement of separatism by prominent Russian politicians such as Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, and Konstantin Zatulin, a loudmouth nationalist MP.

Secondly, Medvedev’s message contained a pointed criticism of the recent EU-Ukraine agreement on pipeline modernization. Ukraine is a key energy transit state for Russia . Around 80 percent of Europe’s gas imports from Russia travel through its pipelines.

Ukraine ’s importance to gas transit will be undermined when Russia finally bypasses it by building Nord Stream pipeline to Germany in the Baltic Sea and possibly the South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria , Romania , Hungary and Austria .

Lastly, it is clear that Russia is heavily committed to persuading Ukraine to abandon its road to NATO and the EU. Russia ’s information campaign is also focused on defeating support for the European Neighborhood Policy; making Russian the second official language:; and on bringing about a “favorable” result in the presidential elections.

Russians would like to see Victor Yanukovich as the next president. He is the leader of the Party of Regions, who was defeated in the past by both Yushchenko and (in the parliamentary elections) by Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

Moscow may “swallow” a Timoshenko victory, although the relationship may be a rocky one.

The danger is that, as Europe and US are asleep at the wheel, Moscow may encourage separatism, seriously destabilize the Crimea or even Eastern Ukraine if one of the candidates fails to concede the elections.

Ukraine is emerging as a flash point in relations between Russia and the West. 2010 may be the Year of Ukraine — and it may not be a pretty sight.

The author wants to thank Owen B. Graham, Research Assistant at the Davis Insitute and Khrystyna Kushnir, a Fullbright Scholar from Ukraine , for help preparing of this blog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


You know, just about the time I think we are getting to a point of "rolling" I find out we are still going uphill. It is hard to get up speed going that direction but it is the direction we must move, nevertheless. I know things are in the works but if you are not familiar with God and his divine sense of drama, then this sort of activity is not for you. Some days I wonder if it is for me, but I have never seen the ramp that says "Exit Here". Living on earth does not afford the view that lets me see the insiders view of the whole picture. I want to know where we are in the process but I simply cannot. I am mortal. So I can only carry the ball when I have it and right now, I do not. But by golly, we are in the game and that says alot I think.
I spoke with the Deputy in Chief of the Governors office today. She is a remarkably nice person and took more time than she should have to listen to my story. Even the part where I repeat that time is of the essence. She asked me if I wanted her to make a follow up call to see where we are. Dragging in a deep breath, I answer yes, and I am hopeful that I do not assist in aggravating those in charge of this crazy circus hoop that we must jump through called a pardon. This is not my dwelling ground and I do not exactly know the protocol for how much is too much with the Pardon and Parole Board. But God can manage the world without me worrying about every step so today I pray that I represented His will in the course of events. May He use this next phone call to nudge it even closer to allowing us to really begin to roll.
I have spent the evening painting sugar cookies we made in the shape of the letter A. The cookies are Evan's calling card because every time we are in charge of the cookies, we always paint them blue with the best powdered sugar icing around. This week the letter is "A" and we make the snack for 5 days to represent said letter. Monday was applesauce, tuesday was fresh apples in agave, tomorrow is blue A sugar cookies. With the two days after that I am contemplating artichokes, anchovies and apricots. So far no recipe is stepping forth to accommodate me. as you can see life with a 4 year old can be thought provoking. While I am making cookies, he is riding home from daycare with his dad at the wheel. Evan says he wants to get sick so he can die and go to heaven to play with Caylyn. Today at school they learn the "sign" for "Play". We have known this for years because Caylyn taught us. No wonder heaven looks like a good idea today... anyhow I think Tully responded sweetly when he explained that we would all go when God invited us but we have a job here as a family and we have alot to do to get ready for Marina who needs us to be here when she gets here. Then a long time from now, we would get to see Cay and Jesus too. Man, and I thought the cookies were giving me a hard time....
Last week it was a year and a half that Caylyn has been gone from our care. It hardly seems possible that it has been that long. Which just goes to show how weird time is. When you want to hold something forever it can slip away. Then it holds you forever in a state of want. In the meantime the world surely must be picking up speed because time is flying by, except on the days it is standing still. At this point you are thinking, time is not the weird thing here...

I got my passport back, and Tully and I will complete our health tests on Friday (his is done but results in 2 weeks). I will next acquire payroll information and documents regarding our home and the square feet and how many bathrooms it has. I honestly think people do not adopt because it is insanely tedious and ridiculous in some of the intensity of the questions. Followed by making sure you have a notary person in your pocket for emergency notifications which is every single peice of paper.

It is time to put Evan to bed. I think his heart rate is back to normal now that he has watched a little tv--earlier he had turned on the whirl pool jets while taking a nice bath and there was only enough water in the tub to certify the jets as weapons. He was screaming like a madman and it was really hard to look concerned while inwardly trying to contain peels of laughter. I cannot wait to see what all he teaches Marina when she finally does get here! His skills are mindblowing:)

PS I wonder that it is a coincidence that Evan's bible verse he has memorized this week is Proverbs 2:6? Only the Lord gives wisdom. Knowledge and understanding come from Him.
i haev heard it 50 thousand times this week and it gets more reassuring everytime I hear it. Especially since I do not believe in coincidences.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day Shift

Something seems to be shifting, the winds of change are stirring both inside and out. The crisp little hint that autumn is on the way as the garden is winding down and the end of summer's flowers bake face down on the browning stalks. Good sleeping weather invites open night time windows. It has been a good summer. We have made some huge decisions and tackled the walls of our personal Berlin, wanting desperately what is on the other side. Perseverance has begun to move walls, as God has arranged events to line up according to a better outcome than we were originally facing.
Usually my own view of autumns breathe in a sense of slowly dying but not this one. This one is a fighting season, one dressed with armor to defeat the clock of allowing Marina to sit in her own cold winter without us. I wonder if her winds of change have begun to blow internally? What has God whispered in Marina's dreams the way He did for Caylyn to take away the fear of her change?
Yes, Tully and I talked about how we both feel a new zeal brewing internally. By the way, the Governor's phone call has moved mountains and someone was placing appropriate calls to those who wrote character letters on behalf of Tully. Working right up to the 5 oclock hour on a holiday weekend from a government office. If we can just get everything together for them by wednesday of this week, maybe we can make that deadline to actually filing our dossier by October for a winter travel date. Otherwise we wait for the spring and too much sitting and hand wringing will be accomplished with that--besides her windows of opportunity will slide a little further towards closed. Institutional life can be life depleting from all I can process about it. So much to do, so little time.
Evan has learned his first bible verse this week through his soccer team devotional time. Proverbs 2:6 "Only the Lord gives wisdom. Knowledge and understanding come from him." May each of us be granted the wisdom He is lavishing, may we know and understand that His ways are the most appropriate for the path we walk, and the love we seek. Then may we trust it for all it is worth. Which is everything.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baby steps

With the passing days I learn patience and perseverance, along with the fact that there is always something I can be working on to get a little closer to that beautiful little girl. I sent my passport off to update my married name on it-missing the deadline to do that for free by 4 months--oh well. Live and learn-I seem to do that as a constant approach! The dossier is in the works and we have to get more health tests for clearance. We have received a response to our request for help from the governor. He made a phone call on our behalf with a noted interest in the process. I have written back and suggested he take a more direct approach to helping us since I am not entirely convinced that the person he talked to was separated from the effects of the Governors indiscretions and perhaps tossed that post-it note in the trash. He stated he "hoped" it helped. I stated he was capable of making sure it helped and that hope I had when I went in to see him. I felt I had nothing to lose and so much to gain.

The bracelets have really taken off and I have a thousand dollars to send in to Reece's Rainbow for Marina this week when we get back home from Pennsylvania as we are here to celebrate Sue's big birthday (Tully's mom). I won't say which big birthday but it sure was fun and great to see so many family here--the food, friends and family were plentiful. It has been a great week and the weather has been incredibly accommodating, though fall is definitely hinting with the breezes that it is on the way. This breeds a new sense of urgency with the speed at which fall is arriving. I so truly do not want Marina in the Ukraine through Christmas unless we are with her. Please pray for the time line to work in her favor. Every day matters.

I really want to thank my niece Chelsea Callais for re-designing this websight--it is so amazing and NOTHING that I could have come up with in this millenium. What an amazing sight now, and thanks for the grand work. For those who need this done, she is also available for hire for a nominal charge. Obviously she has some skills and I might add too, speed!

I would just like to add that we need many prayers to get through the process so if we come to mind, take a moment and ask God's favor for Marina. If definitely takes a village to raise a child...and I believe it takes Prayer warriors to protect her from the things that are set to doing harm. Thank you if you are a warrior.

One last note, I am going to be published for the second time in Rejoice Magazine this next issue. I am grateful to share the gift I have been given through such a wonderful venue.

Happy birthday to Sue!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

time line

For what has felt like a long stagnant season of moments that did nothing to bring me Closer to Marina, it appears I was somewhat wrong. The wheels have been grinding towards movement even in the most unnoticeable manner. The letters I sent to the Governor, the phone calls I made in order to find out I missed seeing the governor, (inadvertently getting to know his staff) and then the day came when the phone call came with it. We were to meet with the Governor that afternoon. For the first time in our lives my husband and I were on time. It is hard to impress your entire life's needs in a five minute span while trying to explain to a man of importance that his own broken life has a purpose beyond what he could imagine. That is where the holy spirit takes the lead. And I have to trust that enough was said to release those points into the air of conversation. In 6 1/2 years the Governor of SC has not pardoned anyone. But he said he would be willing to re-evaluate his position on this fact, based on his own life's activities of late. I felt bad for him and I so want him to know that in time this will make him a new creature with a clarity on hope that is deeper than his wildest imagination. But only God can take the two thorns of wrong and allow for a lesson on love. I breathlessly await the day we know for sure what he decides...but we got a most encouraging letter that was short and to the point that he would look into our request...and then handwritten in the bottom was one sentence..." I was impressed with both of you" Wow. God shone through if that was Sanfords handwritten opinion of us. That was ultimately God's plan all along--for He knows the plans he has for us, not to harm us but to give us hope and a future. I am humbled that it was not thwarted by my own bullish efforts to take the reins.

As for Marina, she has been transferred to an institution but I am told that is ok for the moment and it will be easier to gather her into our world. I know it motivates me to get busy on her paperwork-I took a hiatus from it after spending 8 hours organizing it. Tully's heart is beginning to awaken to her coming again. I know he had shut down on the dauting fact that we had alot of hurdles to overcome. And he had shut her out because it is painful to entertain losing another child, even if it is one you have never had. But he is working harder on the playground he is building and mentions how he has made consessions for a ramp if the ladder is too much for Marina. Hope has a voice now even if it is small.

The other moving motivator is that the Ukrainian State Department of Adoption will close down in November for a 3 month holiday. If they do not have the dossier in October it could easily be february before we see her...and she will be 5 and she will have lived in an institution for way too long. So today I reassess our paperwork and see if I cannot align a few paper stars. Just in case.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nothing new...but all is ok.

I just wanted to give some insight into something I have had brought to my attention lately. I just finished a beautiful study by Margaret Feinberg regarding the Sacred Echo. In relation to hearing the voice of God, He often has to repeat Himself in order that my density will allow it to penetrate my heart. He does this by sticking to a theme. But I want to go a step further with this idea and say that I think He speaks in a very personal theme, one that is so individualized to each of us that it should take our breath away. I believe he has a life message for each of us. One that shows up in scripture or random conversations or the same reoccuring dream....whatever method it is, it is special and full of the message of hope. Mine, I realized today, is OK. Not the sort of ok that is just better than not ok. But a solid message of OK! It is a kind of promise that has a special meaning not only because of the message, but because of the timing of the message and the portals it has come through on so many occasions. It is His voice to me speaking peace inside a randomly not always ok world. I wish I could explain this better. I wish I had an easier message to offer, although you cannot get much easier than OK when you are trying to put it on paper... It is the final difference in when I get to go forth on issues. I remember thinking one other little girl would be good for our family before we found Marina...even though I wanted to go forward , it was not ok at the time. When things are ok for us and we are in sinc with the creator, life is good even if it is going horribly. I find that we are on the right side of OK. It is hard to shake a joy when that joy has take up residence in the temple of you...and that is why this life is ok even when by earthly standards it is full of frustrations and waiting and answers we do not care to hear. I do know that no matter what, Ipersonally will be okay, because I have the promise that I belong to something more grand and beautiful than the here and now. Even the waiting for this little Marina, is taking on a beautiful anticipation that is building into some wonderful plan. It is all on God's clock. I have work to do here before we are ready to bring her here...and only God himself knows what all I need to accomplish before he makes her way clear to our doorstep...So I patiently seek the voice of God. I bend his ear and wonder that He can keep track of all of our movements, from plodding blindly into quicksand or danger to taking such timid steps that we appear to be stalling. Nudge me, Lord, prepare me as a field. (I admit I am not fond of the tilling). Make me a beautiful garden where life is a good reflection of an eden to come for all who know me and hopefull see you. May my own essence of life be a sweet message to return to heaven as I gratefully thank you for your being. Thank you as you teach me patience, the one thing that I will need excess abundance of as this life ticks around, day after day, minute after minute, closer to the plan you have prepared for me and those I love. Give me the clarity to be faithful to what I need to do as soon as you are able so Marina can come home here on this side of our earth to a life of hope as well. I know you work for the good of your glory and I thank you for giving me the brave heart to want to be a part of such a glorious story. Amazing. Amazing not only that you should consider me a foot soldier for you, but that you could find anything redemptive in our selfish existance that could materialize into glory. How much more ok can we get? I feel sure you will show us...
Give sweet hugs to Cay for us. We miss her so much. What a lesson in love and diligence you sent. Wow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

through much prayer

and contemplation I realize that God is in charge and to be impatient only lengthens my days. I made a conscientious decision to turn loose of my (lack of) control and have noticed significant peace flood my heart. I know, too that Marina has a guardian angel as do all the children. Once we trust in our beautiful God, we know He is in complete control of our situations. Granted, He does not think quite as we do...and I interject with a note that I am glad about that fact! He is not controlled by time and panic, quite unlike life on earth. I look forward to Heaven because of the endless joy and release from planning and hoping, among many other reasons. Anyhow today is the day that peace has finally invaded my story and our stoic attempts to bring Marina home. In Gods will and in His time. I also have released the anxiety of living in these troubled times in the United states. My comfort is only guaranteed under the wings of my Lord, and that is where I take my refuge. And when and if the United states falls apart, it was His plan in the first place. He sets leaders on thrones and he deposes leaders...

Habakkuk 2:3 tells me that the vision is for an appointed time...though it tarries, wait for it because it will surely come.
How many of the Psalms ask me to wait upon the Lord? just about every one I have read seems to mention this important task. And so I relinquish my hold on the plans I know he has for me, plans for hope and a future, plans not to harm me but to prosper me. (Jer 29:11) I let God by God, and I will simply be me. It is a good fit and I am grateful that the world is not my responsibility today. I am also grateful for his promises and his instruction book. what would we do without them?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Missing the girls...

Today is a heavy day. It is filled with anxiety for Marina and how I long for her to be rallying the cats in our house to be her friends...and I miss what I do not even know. What if she does not like cats? Or us? What, God forbid, if she does not ever come to live here? I miss what I have never known. A longing for a family, that might resemble one we used to have. 2 kids are noisier than one, and as a side bar I may want to rethink the craziness I am aiming for here:) But I love the crazy sounds and nervewracking questions and needs that constantly arise. I know because I am missing Caylyn too, who showed me the fun that we are capable of. and the love we are capable of. And we just need more I think. More kids, more nuttiness, more crazy is the heart of what makes a family. I bet Marina could use a brother to stick up for her, a mom to run to when she needs a mommy and most importantly, a dad who will swing her high and make her giggle. Then set her safely on the ground despite the pleadings of another turn. Please God, Please. Even if it does not look like I think it will, I know you will be there and make it true life. Adventurous as always. and good. Thanks that we are now the sort of people that would even consider this. How can I tell this story? Will you help me finish the first one? It is so hard you know. The hardest part is knowing how it ends up to now and having no idea what Caylyn is really up to today, anymore than I know what Marina had for breakfast 3000 miles away. Help me to be strong in my faith and patient in our waiting. I know you are in charge, can you just whisper what comes next? love, cathy

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Unwavering Intensity of Desire

I am haunted by the stories of people who make the summit of Everest. Such incredible devotion is required, such total focus of body, soul, and spirit. Reaching the top of the world’s tallest mountain becomes for those who try the central driving force of their lives. The goal is so remarkable and the journey so uncertain. Many climbers have been lost on the mountain. Those who reach the summit and return safely are among a rare and elite group of mountaineers in the world. Why do they do it? How do they do it?

John Krakauer recounted the desperate tale of the ill-fated ’96 expedition in his book Into Thin Air: “There were many, many fine reasons not to go, but attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act—a triumph of desire over sensibility.” It is a feat begun in desire that can be accomplished only through desire. Krakauer explained how one of his climbing partners attained the summit: “Yasuko had been propelled up the mountain by the unwavering intensity of her desire.”

Desire—it’s the only way you will ever make it. Take marriage, for instance. Or singleness. Either makes for a far more difficult and arduous ascent than Everest, in large part because it does not seem so. The struggles are not heightened and focused into one month of do or die; rather, they stretch on across a lifetime. So it is with any act of faith or of hope—anything, in other words, that makes a life worth living. How can we possibly sustain such an intrinsically irrational act as love if we’ve killed our desire?

(Desire , 18–19)

This is the way I feel about getting through to bring Marina home. It is an unwavering intensity of desire to touch her with my hand to her little face, to bring her face a little smile, to seal her heart with the hope of Love, where she may know none. Caylyn is the one who delivered the message that love is alive and well in our home. It has been resuscitated and rescued from absolute death, a revival the likes that anyone who knew us would have to see to believe. Of course, the orchestration by the graceful sway of God's hand creating our beginner's song of life is the true songwriter of our ability to love. Trusting Him in his message is seen as daring in a society that demands perfection, that proverbial carrot we chase. His rules of creation though, include rules that we have been taught ought not to apply to us--we cannot embrace defective children, surely you don't ask that of us? I promise you His economics of design are not bound by what we think we can and cannot have, do or be subjected to. And yet can you imagine for a moment that I know many families who are jumping at the chance to bring home a child such as that society deems damaged. Why do you suppose that is? Could there be something to the giving rule of love? Love is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or proud or rude....Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. If that is what Love can be here on earth, imagine this..."No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9) I admit I am a novice at Love but I do know that the more true love you give, the bigger it gets. Hitching our hearts to the creator of love seems like an insurmountable explosion of Great Love....perhaps that is the real Big Bang theory?! Like we would be so blown away by the reality of what God is creating for us on the plains of heaven! Makes me want to go see now, but I have committed to loving these children and bringing hope to their hearts first. I have prayed since Evan was a small baby that he would rise up to be a mighty warrior. My position as his teacher and mother to his life here on earth is not finished yet and I shudder to think of him unprepared because of anything I failed to help him with. Yes, our days are filled with busy and crazy, the two sidekicks that seek to make us insane, but under it all there is an order to this plan that boggles the mind heart and soul of mere man. That the spirit has the tenure to whisper it into our hearts nonstop is a comfort on its' own.

In the Message Psalms 51:17 reads "Heart shattered lives ready for love don't for a minute escape God's notice".

Chutes and ladders

There is a kid's game called Chutes and Ladders. I have played it as a kid and played it with my kids. The idea is that is a path and at the end of the path, is the fact that you win if you get there (preferably first, but at all would be good). Along the path, there are ladders that shorten the game by allowing the player to climb the shortcut. Also along the path are chutes that basically derail the moves forward by sliding you backwards and putting you further behind. You are always in play, but it is not always your turn (very important detail). At the very beginning of the game is a really big ladder that is maybe 6 blocks into playing but takes you immediately to the top and allows you to win. I think hitting that ladder would be a long shot but some are lucky. I think our lives are like chutes and ladders. We would like to finish well but the ladders and backsliding chutes are so busy remaking who we are that sometimes the goal is just to catch up with those we are in "play"with or encourage those that fell behind. I remember when our daughter Caylyn hit that early block with the big ladder and went straight to heaven. It was hard to celebrate her win for a while. But eventually we had to wake up to the awareness that we were still on the board. A board filled with chutes. Occasionally I get a ladder, but am finding it hard to trust that extra boost, figuring I am destined for the chutes because the enemy whispers in my ear, that chutes are what I deserve. Despite my discouragement some days I know that I will win the game. I have been promised the ultimate reward just for having played and trusted....that my reward is with my Maker. As for the chutes, I have to realize that perhaps there is something in there that is not about me, but that someone "back a few spaces" may need my encouragement. Perhaps there is something new to learn critical to the next move. And the chutes are designed to make the gift of the game last longer...which believe me, it definitely at least FEELS longer on those nerve-wracking challenges. I know that God can use the side tracking to his accomplishments. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." I trust it because He says it. I feel it as a peace inside my soul, that my life heads toward the will of God, even amongst what feels like downward slides. Just as I misinterpreted that there could be joy of our child's departure to glory, I surely misinterpret what looks like derailing in my every day life. Psalms 32:8 gives me this message from the Lord "I will guide you along the best pathway for your Life. I will advise you and watch over you." Just one of a zillion promises to care for the steps we take when we seek His will.

Lord, give me the wisdom to be patient to your rules. It is your "game" and I am only in it because you created me in the first place. I want to find the joy and excitement in knowing you are indeed guiding me. And honestly, I cannot wait to see you at the end of this life. Congratulating me on finding my way, catching me as I run, a winner, into your kingdom. In the meantime, allow my life to be an example to others in the game, so that they too, may be a part of the happy ending. Protect this wild journey with surprise twists and turns, never a surprise to you. Chutes and ladders is not a game for sissies and whiners, is it?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Prayer warrior power...

Today I went to the final study from Chip Ingram on Spiritual Warfare and this last chapter is on how to combat this stuff. It exists whether you thing it is hogwash or whether you blame it for all the things you do you don't want to take responsibility for....because the devil made you do it. All the methods for getting out from under this heinously irritating and scary influence filter back to trusting God and knowing what His word says. It grants us power as believers to banish these attacks in Jesus name. Needless to say I have been under significant defeat and abnormal weight of failure because our adoption process is being sidetracked. As this beautiful group of everyday women bowed their heads and lifted up various prayers that were laid on their hearts, I was humbled to be a part of a princess warrior circle. Soft voices cracked out passion filled burdens. And then someone lifted this family up and I felt our needs being set at the feet of the Throne of Creation. Humble can be mighty enough to qualify as an oxymoron....I began to cry as the prayer filled the cracks of my heart. Then my mother prayed for friends who would lift our family up as their concern. The sniffles circled the room. It is amazing to be cared for by strangers and friends as one. Love has a power that cannot be disguised as the real thing when it is not. And that was love's arms open for Marina today. I saw it. I felt it. And as if to add a mystical moment here, my phone rang in my pocket on vibrate. I checked it to see who called and all it said was 905. I tried to call it back later, no known number. Tully wondered later if it was September 5th. We will have to see. I was so caught up in the moment of heaven's power that I cannot argue against the fact that it was an interruption to the moment. We will see if there is any more to come of it. I bought a book today called the Sacred Echo. Hearing God's voice in everyday themes and whispers. Poor Elijah, exhausted and hunted, the last prophet, hiding in a cave and God asks him "So what are you doing here?" Elijah needs help--he is discouraged and tired and slam burned out...instead of being the perfect sky Genie, and granting answers to these issues, God brings him a hurricane, an earthquake and a blazing forest fire. On top of that, God isn't even in these things, but creates these things. Then He does something amazing. He whispers to Elijah. He is in Elijah's heart. The renewal begins and Elijah is able to find all he needs from that encounter to move forward. Just knowing God has a moment all for you is all the breath we need to return to the battle at hand.
I believe God whispered today. I also think he whispered to Marina to be patient. Things are happening she cannot imagine. In that light I believe things are happening that I cannot imagine either. I am grateful for the faith that has carried me daily. I am blown away by the support for years by my friends and family. I am humbled that God ever chose me in the first place. I would love to be remembered because I answered His whisper and was obedient to His calling. and the One I want to remember me is only Him.
Hang on Marina, someone is coming. You are special. We are all special but most importantly, we are each special. Listen....

In our hearts but out of our hands...

Yesterday we had a family outing of a most unusual nature. We got up, finished compiling last minute letters of recommendation and pleas, drove an hour and a half to our state capital and dropped off our formal request to be forgiven by the state for crimes against each other nearly 15 years ago. Then, in keeping with the theme, we went to the zoo. Thoughts of anxiety were pushed down, compacted somewhere and replanted with prayers to expedite, do the right thing, forgive us, let us be free to bring Marina home. We watched the animals as they were pacing in the heat with nowhere to go, little Meerkats guarding cement tunnels of family. Defenseless, but on guard and ready to sound the alarm. They remind me of us and the world around us. We burrow and tunnel and get ourselves into all sorts of tight spots. We count on someone to watch over and keep us out of trouble as we burrow deeper. Should the alarm of danger sound, where do we go? What do we do? Humanity seems to dig faster. We do not know how to count on our friends and family anymore as we build secret lives that envelope the dark...
Then there is the example of us. I am gratefeul we have indeed been rescued just for the asking. Well, just for the asking and believing. Man that seems so incredibly impossible for some folks. And yet I used to top that list. The miserable one in charge. My heart was a wreck so many years ago. It is nothing that the police could have captured on paper. It was not Tully's fault, though his heart looked like mine. Socially broken. Emotionally windblown. Years of healing, Jesus working daily, by the minute, by the nanosecond. See us now? We are better beyond our wildest expectations. Lightyears from perfect but lightyears from where we have been. Now we stand in our zoo-box, being examined to see if we might still be wild by people who do not know us. We would like to think we can stand up straighter or brush our hair and wear the right thing to pass the test. But they are hopefully looking at our hearts. That is where the real opportunity to see us lies to see the taming of the broken and the re-release of a new creature, capable of love as it has been taught to us by the great Teacher. The decision is weighing on our hearts but we know it is in the hands of the beautiful God who patiently molds us. He will take us where we are needed. We really hope it is to Marina. Another adventure of a lifetime sitting in a zoo-box across the sea.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Dance

I am a terrible dancer for the most part. I like to lead. I do not really have to know the steps and most often make them up as I go. This is my battle with Christ. I so desperately want to dance with Him, and in about 5 seconds I am trying to lead Him around the room. I might even change the music. He patiently waits as I gyrate out of sync. The rhythm is off. It is no longer fun and romantic. Joy wains. But I thought I knew what He was planning! I could see his next step! Or was it mine? (Be still, and know that I am GOD.) Safe, forgiven, breathing deeply, I put my arms up again. Teach me to dance with you Oh my Lord. The skill is there, the patience is missing. Always I feel driven to do your will by a time clock.

especially now. My desperation to bring Marina home is mounting out of sync with your plan. The injustice of waiting is like rocket fuel to my angst. The more I must ask for help from outside my "christian" circle the more I realize the world can be so hateful and ugly. And I am brought back to Esther. She waited even the one extra day when the rest of us would have crooked our fingers at the enemy and cackled like the hens we are. I hate to ask this because I am sure it will hurt. But I really do want to be patient and peace filled. I want to believe you are Good. Caylyn is in heaven and that is good! I know she is happy and totally ok. I do not believe this at all about Marina. I am afraid she will fall between the cracks and life will drain out of her, joyless and full of bad things as memories in a world she will never understand. And I am afraid you will ask me to be a prayer partner only for her. It does not feel like enough. The power of prayer is visually hard to track most days. Especially for someone who is not so patient. And love afar is really hard to share. Do you struggle with that too? I bet you do. Help her. Help us. Love us from afar! And yet I find that you are right here, struggling to teach a bull how to dance.
Oh God, you are God and I am not. Please take the lead. I know this, that You, with a penchant for drama will continue that theme. Orchestrate the biggest waltz to her safe arrival and invite the lost and unconvinced to the party. Let me flatter you and not embarrass you along the way as a jr. hich girl at her first dance might.

Today we practice Dancing with God. Let me hear the symphony of your music, not the cacophony of mine. Let us dance to the same song. As in the movie "Dirty Dancing", remind me to watch your eyes and not our feet. The step of trust begins here. I trust you as my teacher. You lead as Lord of My Dance.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What am I doing wrong?

This is the question I face a hundred times a day. Is there something I am missing? Am I supposed to be looking harder or doing "better"? God, are you mad at me? I thought you loved the orphans, and that we were supposed to as well? Why is this so dang hard? I am standing firm on your promises but so often I do not understand their application to my life. I have faith that your plans are not to harm me but to give me hope. But I have to tell you here, I am running thin in the Hope department. I cannot do this by myself. If you do not want us to have Marina, why plant her in our hearts? The pain is too much to think of not bringing her home and the alternative she will face. Please? Make a way. Part the seas of government interference and governor infidelities. Change the laws to help us, find a loophole to allow us through. (Soon if we dare ask this!) Instead every loophole is a noose. I pray for you to connect the dots for us as you place the stars in the sky to guide the sojourners. The signs are there, predictable to give direction. Your Word is my star. Mark my path and open the gates that are slammed between us and her. Something that would be so simple for you to orchestrate, and yet it cannot be done by me at all. I am grateful that you made the gate of heaven so much in a way that it simply swings open for those of us who seek to enter. We too, are orphans in a crazy world. I sought first my Kingdom of God, now I seek to make the world a better place in your name. Please protect me from the falling arrows of the destroyer. I temporarily share this world with them, and I could use your protection while I am in enemy territory. Thank you that I belong to you and that will last forever. The fairy tale of "and they lived happily ever after" awaits in my room in my father's house. And it is not a fairy tale but the promise of where Jesus is right now. But until I get there, will you give me this child to love and teach? Let us reach many children, who are the least of these. Release their beauty into the hearts of those who need them as I did once upon a time 7 years ago. Like butterflies, set them free to land in the hearts of the lonely and broken. There, love can begin to heal the injustices of this world, of telling a child they are simply unworthy of a family who will love them. In your own son's name I ask this. Amen. And even so, come Lord favorite verse in Revelation.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The inner fight, and the bigger fight

To Lose Hope

The Arrows strike at the most vital places in our hearts, the things we care most about. The deepest questions we ever ask are directly related to our hearts’ greatest needs and the answers life gives us shape our images of ourselves, of life, and of God. Who am I? The Romance whispers that we are someone special, that our heart is good because it is made for someone good; the Arrows tell us we are a dime a dozen, worthless, even dark and twisted, dirty. Where is life to be found? The Romance tells us life will flourish when we give it away in love and heroic sacrifice. The Arrows tell us that we must arrange for what little life there may be, manipulating our world and all the while watching our backs. “God is good,” the Romance tells us. “You can release the wellbeing of your heart to him.” The Arrows strike back, “Don’t ever let life out of your control,” and they seem to impale with such authority, unlike the gentle urges of the Romance, that in the end we are driven to find some way to contain them. The only way seems to be to kill our longing for the Romance, much in the same way we harden our heart to someone who hurts us. If I don’t want so much, we believe, I won’t be so vulnerable. Instead of dealing with the Arrows, we silence the longing. That seems to be our only hope. And so we lose heart.

Which is the truer message? If we try to hang on to the Romance, what are we to do with our wounds and the awful tragedies of life? How can we keep our heart alive in the face of such deadly Arrows? How many losses can a heart take? If we deny the wounds or try to minimize them, we deny a part of our heart and end up living a shallow optimism that frequently becomes a demand that the world be better than it is. On the other hand, if we embrace the Arrows as the final word on life, we despair, which is another way to lose heart. To lose hope has the same effect on our heart as it would be to stop breathing.

(The Sacred Romance , 32–33)

This is why she is in an orphanage in the first place. This is why we struggle to maintain the way through hellish conditions to gather her into our hearts and arms. Someone believed the lie that she was less than good enough, less than God's plan. We know by experience and faith that these children are so much more than meets the superficial world eye.

I learned last night that Marina is in the Krivoy Rog baby orphanage in Dnepropetrovsk oblast, Ukraine. Tsurupy str., 30. Just to know this seems to pinpoint that exactly somewhere in this world, there she is. The "exactly" seems to make is so much more real. And today the fight to get closer to her continues. Today we begin the chase to the Governor of SC. I am glad my God is in charge. I have seen him part waters and build bridges in ways no human has ever done. I will call to him and he will show me great and mighty things that I do not know. He knows the desires of my heart. He wrote me a note in John 15 last night. I have begun to put on my full armor. And then I will stand.
When we release our hold on this world, we gain the next one, as well as this one. When we make our small dreams here, we give up everything. God Almighty, Today is yours!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Breaking hearts are exhausting!

I cannot believe how exhausted I become these days. I am as tired as I ever was when Cay was in the hospital. This fight to bring Marina home is incredibly intense. I have run circles around a very large wall trying to find our way into her world, to save her and bring her home. But this punishment for a silly little fight is too much. If I knew then what I know now I would not ever call 911 if I even truly needed them. I simply don't trust the government to make judgements about me and my family based solely on old paperwork. That is ridiculous to say that something that happened 10 and 14 years ago has more weight than who we are now....and who we have spent ten years becoming. The punishment is way out of whack on this. I agree that people need guidelines and checkpoints, but there has to be a better system of reading them. Lives are at stake and I will not rest until this is settled to a better way. How many mean people in this world that are dumb enough to be documented on it, are conning their friends into giving them thousands of dollars to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine? That is what the state of SC has basically mandated...that we are not fit, as judged by strangers and that we are fit as judged by those who know us and love us. I am going insane trying to find the justice and logic in this situation. I am going to change that law. Good morning Marina! It is 6:15 a.m. your time and I wonder what you will do today? It is time for me to go to sleep. I am thinking of you and praying you will have a beautiful day. I know God is making a way from here to there....I hope you will wait for us and I hope you dream of a family that is us. I love you. I am sure of that. Good night from here little "Kit".

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The waiting is the hardest part...

That old Tom Petty song just lingers on in my head. It started as I was sitting in the hospital for months waiting for Caylyn to get better from Leukemia, relapse and the ultimate cell-slamming chemotherapy. She did get better but not by my standards. Jesus came by on the 8th of March 2008 and asked her to join Him. We took the liberty of sending her off in the sunset as she was on life support, a corner we originally swore never to get backed in to. 5:16. Some things you will never ever go hazy in your mind over. The death of an angel is just such a thing. And yet in so many ways she lives on, in her story and in the path her passing has pointed us towards. We find ourselves in the trenches of paperwork to petition for a little girl named Marina who currently lives in the Ukrainian Orphanage system. But for Caylyn relocating we never would have known these kids exist. Anyhow Marina started out as a prayer project. Without a family committing to bringing her home, there is no hope that she will not spend the rest of her life in a mental institution. We never intended to adopt as far as I knew. I will never replace my Caylyn, it is utterly ridiculously impossible to even consider because it will not or cannot be done. She is a one of a kind deal. But within 48 hours of a good cry over Marina's plight to my husband, he stated that we were her family. Something like that anyway. Trust me, he probably said we would talk about it. I heard something about "let's do this thing". That is a privilege of marriage, you know what someone is thinking when they say only part of it. It took about a week to realize we were indeed heading her way. I felt joy the first time in over a year. I had something to look forward to and a reason to make plans on this planet. I found hope in reaching this child and throwing my arms around her, brushing her hair, introducing bubble baths. And these thoughts were just the beginning of the avalanche. Did she know what a pool was? the beach? Peanut butter? Was she allergic to anything? Did she have a good day? Was anyone mean to her (heaven help them!)? And why did it have to take so long??? I should have seen the scythe coming to take us down at the knees. I forgot we used to be stupid selfish people so long ago. As the trauma of the past began to surface, I realized what we had done. We had rebuilt the Berlin Wall to this child with something in our past that was ever so indicative of our idiocy. 13 years ago, we drank and we fought. When I got tired of the fight I picked up the phone and called 911. A hideous way to self manage a losing battle. The second mistake we made was paying the fine and thinking that was the end of it. The quickest way out never will be the end of anything. The third mistake we made was doing this again, 4 years later. The records of our inability to personally manage ourselves with the brains God gave us indicates we are problem people. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus has left a legacy that we dearly embrace in a way that could never have been expected by the former us. Having Caylyn drop in as a 6 year post-it note from God on Unconditional Love was the U-turn. She changed everything and He knew she would. Everything but the paperwork trail.
In an effort to move forward I have sent the Attorney General a package reflecting most of the thoughts here. Scathing honesty in the hands of a politician could leave burn marks, I know. But I think he is different. And I think He can help. It was the path I was lead down. I have learned that with God, paths rarely show up in a linear fashion, but rather serpentine all over the place. I am prepared to follow the journey to this Child. And if it means petitioning every crazy politician in the state of SC to help me, I have nothing but time to devote to bringing Marina Home. I don't see the point in taking No for an answer. We need her and she needs us. For some reason she is the one. I know it. Pray for us as we seek the break in the wall that will unite us and bring her home.