Well, where to start? Most of our friends and family members know that Tim lost his job this past year. It was a struggle to say the least, but we are so thankful for the love support of family and friends through that time. Something like a job loss really helps in teaching you humility. God's lesson #1. When you have to pull out a Medicaid card at the doctor's office for your child's appointment because you don't have regular insurance anymore, it will knock you down a few notches to say the least. But you know what, that's ok. It reminded me to be even more grateful for the privileges I have when things are going well-- like insurance-- something many do not have or can't afford and something we all take for granted.
And I think I have posted on here about how Tim's unemployment came to an end right? It was when we decided to take a leap of faith and try to commit to adopting a new son from China-- our soon-to-be son Gideon. Tim was thinking right about that time that he might just have to be self-employed for awhile, but 4 days after we called the agency and told them we would like to try and move forward with an adoption, Tim received a call offering him the job he had really wanted, but had applied for FOUR months prior. Coincidence? I personally don't think so. After seeing clearly how the hand of God has continued to work in this adoption since that time, I think that was just the first of many divine interventions with God showing us clearly that He was in control and that He was laying out the path before us.
Jump back to the summertime-- we were on our way to visit my husband's parents at the beach for our annual Jersey Shore vacation. NC to NJ is a llllloooooooonnnnnngggggg trip.... about 12 hours with stops. Well, our Suburban picks THIS time to decide to quit. Not just run poorly. Not blow a tire. Not just run out of gas, no. It out and out quit. Something was wrong with the electrical system and the car just shut down. But you know what the miracle was?? We didn't break down on the highway, we didn't break down halfway there. We broke down on a small road in Jersey only about an hour from the beach house, and right across the street from a pizza parlor! The Chevy dealer, as it turned out, was only about 10 minutes away and thanks to Tim's mom's annual gift of AAA we were able to get our car towed there for free. To top all this off, the guy who owned the pizza place was a Christian who let us stay at his restaurant way past closing time-- like until midnight!!-- until Tim's brother and father could get there to get us. He said he just couldn't go to church the next day (it was Saturday night when this happened) and have a clear conscience if he left us alone out in the parking lot. Again, praise God for His grace and mercy!
Then of course, we have my husband's little softball mishap. Poor Tim ended up breaking his leg while playing softball this past September with our church's team. He slid into home plate but unfortunately his foot did not slide with him the way it should have do to muddy conditions on the field. He ended up breaking his tibia and fibula and having to have surgery where they placed a metal rod the length of the bones into his lower leg. That turned out to be a blessing too though in comparison to him having to have worn a full leg cast for the next three months. He ended up recovering much more quickly I think than he would have with the cast and is now back to walking 3 miles a day at a good speed and contemplating another marathon in about a year.
God blessed us in this situation, and abundantly so again. He gave us friends who brought us meals, and showed us the love of Christian brethren through people we did not even know-- some from other churches softball teams-- sending him cards with well wishes, and some even with money because they found out that his new insurance from his new job had not kicked in yet. People we had never met sent him hundreds of dollars to help out with his medical bills! And thankfully most of those bills ended up being covered in the end. God was watching out for us. In the middle of this crisis, He had it all covered for our sake.
Of course, we have also been in the midst of two adoptions this year, the finalization of Kierstyn's and the start of Gideon's. Neither one of these have been easy peasy. Kierstyn was adopted through the foster care system, and anyone who has dealt with that knows the ups and downs of how all that works. There were troubles to take care of with her biological family, court appointments to attend and appeals to be heard. But in the end, it all worked out as we had hoped and we were allowed to finalize her adoption. We feel so blessed to be her family!
Gideon's adoption from China was something that I think most people thought we could never accomplish... we had so many strikes against us! First Tim's unemployment, then the lack of time because Gideon is aging out in January when he turns 14, then the general lack of money to start, let alone complete, an adoption. But God has proved them wrong. He put this overwhelming desire to help this specific child in my heart and would not let it go. Others tried to keep us from moving forward, but we would not give in. We weren't just going to roll over and die because some person said it couldn't be done. I knew deep in my heart that God wanted us to do this. And it is only through Him that it has been made possible. After our first social worker did not work out, we went and found a social worker who has been an absolute angel and got our homestudy done in a matter of weeks! In addition, our agency has also been excellent working their fingers to the bone to power through and get the paperwork done, our USCIS officer Nina has been an INCREDIBLE blessing helping us move forward faster than we though possible and encouraging us every step of the way, two different grant agencies awarded us grants to help us fund the adoption, countless people-- both friends and those unknown-- have donated to our adoption to enable us to continue to move forward, some friends from our church bought our plane tickets for us outright as their part in helping bring our son home, I could go on and on and on and on!
And yesterday, we received our Letter Seeking Confirmation from China!!!! China has approved us, and so we take another baby step forward!! I cannot believe it is just TWO WEEKS until we travel to get the newest member of our family. I know I sound like a broken record, but we really are so blessed.
God has shown His face to us in each of these trials. And you might be thinking.... whew, what a year it has been for them! Well you know what, that isn't even all.
The day after Christmas, at 1:30 am, there was a fire in our home. Luckily I woke..... silly me, it wasn't luck! Again, God was watching out for our family and I woke to the faint smell of smoke. I was almost tempted to ignore it and go back to sleep. I was so comfy and so tired from the past couple days of festivities. But this smoke smelled different. And we had burned a fire in the fireplace the night before, so what if an ember had shot out and lit the carpet on fire?? So I got out of bed, walked to the living room and looked around. Nothing. Then I walked to the office where the fireplace is. Still I saw nothing in the dark, but the smell was stronger. I saw my 7 year old still lying on the daybed next to the fireplace where he had fallen asleep the night before while we had all hung out in there reading and playing with Christmas toys. I thought, I better turn on the light just to be sure, and boy am I glad that I did. What I saw was thick dark smoke billowing out from the chimney and heading straight up to the ceiling. There is a peaked ceiling in that room and the smoke was filling the top third of the room. I rushed back to our bedroom and told my husband he better come take a look. By the time we got back the smoke was down about another 3 feet. I scooped up our son and moved him to the living room while Tim tried shooting the fire extinguisher up the chimney. We thought the chimney had caught on fire inside. The extinguisher did nothing so I called up to our eldest son and told him to gather the girls together and get shoes and coats on, (it was about 16 degrees out) and I called 911. Everything that happened from the time I got out of bed until then took only about 3 minutes and by that time the entire room was filled with smoke. Praise God that I woke when I did and that our youngest son did not inhale any of the smoke. Who knows what might have happened to him if I had been even a few minutes later! I shudder to think about it.
The kids were awesome, including my friend's little girl who had slept over the previous night. They followed our practiced drill perfectly and got themselves, and all our animals, out of the home and to the top of the driveway. I grabbed a jacket and our firesafe box as well as my adoption file folder and jetted out of there. I for sure was not going to leave our passports and all our adoption info in the house!
Neighbors up the drive from us took us in out of the cold. The poor kids were freezing out there, and even though we were allowed to sit in a police officer's car, it would have been hard to keep them and the dogs in there for the next 4 hours until all the fire crew left. And even then we could not have gone back in because all the power to the house was cut and it smelled horribly! Those people were so kind to us, bringing Tim coffee outside while he watched the firefighters and waited. They made cocoa for the kids and set up sleeping bags for them in their bonus room. They stayed up all night with us and then had to go into work in the morning!! And again, these were people we had only ever waved to before, not friends. They were just doing what God would have them to do as they said, and loving their neighbor. We are so thankful to them!!
Luckily, to make a long story short, the firefighters found that it was an electrical fire under the crawlspace that had caused all the smoke. They were able to put it out without much damage to our home, with the exception of that office. Our fireplace had to be torn apart and the floor and carpet will have to be replaced, but that is so minimal in comparison to what could have happened, and most importantly our family all survived.
So what is the blessing from this latest catastrophe you ask? Well, because of smoke damage our entire house is getting a good cleaning. Everything, and I mean everything, in the house is being washed, scrubbed, mopped or vacuumed. All the clothes, shoes, blankets, purses, etc were brought out for specially cleaning. All the furniture, rugs and drapes are being cleaned. My house will be cleaner now than the day we moved in and if that is not a blessing then I don't know what is!! Gideon will come home to a supremely clean and fresh home in a few weeks. Boy I hope he doesn't get any funny ideas and think it is that way ALL the time! :)
We have to be out of our home for about the next week or so while they do all this, which is a blessing in disguise as well. We are getting a little mini-vacation at a local hotel. We are all enjoying a scrumptious breakfast buffet every morning and the kids are loving the pool (and not having to make their own beds). I am enjoying a break from cooking and cleaning as well and using this time to rest up before our long trip to China. And luckily for us, all this is covered under our insurance. We have also had some loving friends sign up to cook us meals or take us out for dinner.
So what is the over all lesson from this terribly long rant about our family's last year of life?? God's blessings oftentimes come disguised in the craziest of ways-- turmoil, trials, tribulations, accidents..... they all offer a way for Him to show us that He indeed will provide. That He is the master of all things, not us. That He will take care of us and carry us through the darkest of storms. That He will use his people to bring His blessings to us. That He is an Awesome God!
So here is to a more uneventful 2011, but yet another year filled with God's love!!