Sunday, October 26, 2008

Craft Fair Update ~

We had a good time at the craft fair at our church yesterday. We did feel a little "underdressed" with our layout. Some of the tables were exquisite (as you can see in the background of the first picture) and we were obviously the "amateurs" of the group! But we were certainly blessed to be a part of it. We got there bright and early and got set up, and then the boys settled in for the first shift. Don't they look thrilled?

On our table we had our cookbooks (complete with a little explanation of what they were for), ...

some baked goods, ...

and a few handpainted glass plates to pair with the goodies.

In all we were able to sell about 24 of our cookbooks and over half of the other things we had so we certainly count it as a SUCCESS!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here we go!

Good morning! We'd appreciate your prayers as we head off to our church's annual Holiday Craft Fair this morning. It's put on every year by our youth ministry and this year we've rented a table to sell our cookbooks, several types of baked goods and fruit, and some crafts to try to raise money for our adoption fund. Hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Story Time - Chapter Thirteen

And continue on, privately and without interruption, we did. It was the most amazing weekend of my life. Everyone who was there seemed to have a unique perspective of not taking anything for granted...and we had one heck of a party!

Story Time - Chapter Twelve

Over the next several hours we made our way back to my parents' house where the crowd I had left many hours earlier had only GROWN. It was like a full-blown pool and patio party at Coop's. It was great!

We ate and talked and laughed and relayed our various experiences over the last couple of days. We discussed the wedding and what all this chaos would do to the plans, to which
I promptly declared the trip to the Bahamas was OFF. You can forget it; I'll get married right here in the back yard; instead of heading to the airport in the morning we can just go to the courthouse and get the license; I'm good right here, thanks. Most everyone just smiled and nodded and I, of course, changed my mind.

The phones were ringing like crazy with news reporters wanting to come over and film and wanting to know about the wedding. Even the next morning as I was trying to frantically pack everything in two hours and make it to the airport on time the phone would not stop. Can we come over and film you packing? Can we meet you at the airport? Can we film your wedding? I got tired of juggling the phone with my packing so I stopped answering it. Every so often a friend would yell "so and so wants to film such and such". It became like a bad joke. We were so thrilled to finally get to the airport and on the plane -- no phones!

The arrival in the Bahamas was another emotional flood. There we greeted a whole other group of people who'd lived through this experience with us. When we finally made it to the hotel we had barely settled our luggage and ourselves into our respective rooms when I answered the phone on the nightstand to find CBS on the other end - sheesh! That's some kind of investigative reporting!! I scanned my memory banks trying remember what the heck Early Morning was all about (hey, what can I say? I was a Today girl...) as I told the voice on the other end of the phone that we just needed some space, please. A few calls later I was telling a very nice lady from CNN that I truly was flattered that they would like to film our wedding for us but this has been a very emotional few days and we would like to proceed with our wedding privately and without interruption. I told her if they had any interest in anything else, we would be back in the States in a couple of weeks and would consider it then, fully expecting to never hear from her again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

As things go, it could be MUCH worse.

I found out from our agency today that the Secretary of State made an error on two of our dossier documents so I have to get them corrected before we can submit our dossier to Colombia. I have made an appointment for Tuesday morning to do my part so hopefully we'll have a completed dossier ready to go in a couple of weeks.

While 100% completion on the first try would have been nice, I am glad they are relatively easy fixes. Every little step takes us one step closer!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Story Time - Chapter Eleven

I don't think in all my life I have ever been as happy to hear my father's voice on the other end of the phone. I asked him how he was and, in his typical manner, he responded, "Well I'm okay; probably a lot better than you are, I bet you didn't have fresh tuna yesterday?" He gave me the Cliff's Notes version of what had taken place and told me that one of Bill's best friends had been admitted into the hospital and Bill was one of the three left on the boat but that everyone - all five - were okay. Then I passed the phone to my Mom.

When she got off the phone she left pretty quickly to head to the hospital to pick up Dad and I continued to get ready to leave for the Coast Guard station. A few hours later, just as my girlfriend and I were loading the car to leave, Mom pulled in to the driveway with Dad. I gave him a huge hug, told him I loved him, and my girlfriend and I left to go get the rest of the guys and bring them home! My girlfriend was driving and we had probably driven about 45 minutes or so when I screamed (probably startled her pretty good with that one!) and grabbed my cellular phone. I dialed my parents' telephone number and asked to speak to my dad. It had just occurred to me as we were driving that it was July 23. It was my father's birthday.

Finally we arrived at Port Canaveral, and our friends met us and took us to the marina where the boat would be towed. I couldn't believe it when a news reporter showed up and tried to interview me. I can admit I wasn't entirely pleasant with her. We found an out of the way spot and asked her nicely and then again not quite as nicely to please give us some space. And we waited. And waited. And waited. We waited for almost 4 hours when we finally saw the boat coming towards us. I ran to the seawall and cried and waved when I saw Bill and his two friends waving back at me. The news cameras caught the moment on video but I was too thrilled to be annoyed. Even when our faces- his, sunburned and weary after almost 56 hours at sea, and mine, pale, puffy and dark-circled after two days of tears and no sleep - were plastered all over the TV news. (It was a special treat when I later learned that an attorney friend of mine had seen the news clip from his hotel room in San Francisco that week.) Now over six years later I'm kind of glad those cameras were there to preserve that memory for me, but don't tell anyone.

Story Time - Chapter Ten

So, they found them. As I would later learn, they had reached a point of approximately 10 miles of the coast of the Bahamas and encountered engine problems. The radio was malfunctioning to the point that they could hear but could not transmit. They heard all the reports and knew we were looking for them but were powerless to respond and were drifting, rather rapidly at that, up the gulf stream. That second night they had spotted a plane flying a search pattern and signaled to it using a flash light and Morse code. (Thank God for my father's military experience!)

Back at home, when I had actually processed the fact that the Coast Guard had located my father's boat, I started making phone calls. When I finally spoke to someone at the Coast Guard station they told me that the boat was located and there were three men on the boat who appeared to be in relatively good health and they would be towed to the Coast Guard station at Port Canaveral, some 140 miles north of where they should have been. Wow, that's a long way to drift. Wait, did you three men?? Bill, Dad, and three groomsmen. What about the other two men? I asked questions without answers for several minutes before I started to panic again. That's when we learned that two of the men had gone overboard and had been airlifted to a trauma hospital about an hour and a half north of us. But we didn't know who, and we didn't know if they were okay or not.

Having gleaned all the information possible from the Coast Guard, I calculated the distance to the Coast Guard station and figured out how long it would take to get there and prepared for the drive. Not too long after that the phone rang again. I picked up the phone on the first ring and said hello. When the voice on the other end said "Well, hello..." I collapsed into the nearest chair and thanked God. My Daddy was on the phone!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What? You mean you want to know what's going on with the ADOPTION?

Tiring of story time all the time? Want to hear what's been going on in the paper chase? No worries; I'm here to help you.

We have compiled all the documents that we believe are needed for our complete dossier and have sent them to our agency for review. We hope to hear from them in the near future with regard to what kind of a timeline to expect from here. God willing, we will not have to redo anything and we haven't missed anything. We could be getting very close to having our dossier submitted to Colombia.

While it's pretty clear that our newest family members won't be home for Christmas this year, we are praying that we are getting close to bringing them home! Fingers crossed everybody!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Story Time - Chapter Nine

You have to understand that I am relaying this story from my perspective, as only one of the core group of people who were truly there through it all. While there are things I'll probably never forget, there are as many things that are likely lost from my memory forever, just as there are things that I am simply not including. It doesn't change the reality of those days or the way the story plays out. This is the part where it starts to get hazy for me. I hadn't slept or eaten and after 36 hours of it my nerves and emotions were RAW.

Sitting on that patio for a second night was very much like the first except that I had become numb to the ringing of the phone and barely noticed when it would ring anymore. At some point that night - I think it was nearing midnight but I really had lost all track of time - my girlfriend asked if we wanted her to show us how to pray the rosary. We weren't raised Catholic but my sister and I agreed and we went back to my old bedroom and sat on the bed to pray. I can feel the tears in the back of my throat as I recall the memory and remember not knowing what else to say or how else to pray but to ask God to please, no matter what happens, keep them warm, don't let them be hungry or scared, and remind them how much we all love them. We had to call her mom to complete the last prayer of the rosary that night; I guess we figured we weren't sleeping, why should she?

The girls went back outside and I went to sit on the couch for a little while. I honestly can't say how long it had been after we finished praying when my friend came back through the door but she'll tell you it was about 15-20 minutes later. All I remember is her bursting through the back door calling my name. I could see her lips moving but I couldn't register what she was saying. Finally she grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me dead in the eye and said it again - "Jenn, they found them!!!!"

Story Time - Chapter Eight

We were all supposed to go to work on Monday morning to get in the last few hours before we left for the Bahamas on Wednesday. Clearly, that didn't happen. None of us had slept and we still had no idea what was going on with the guys on the boat.

The news started to spread through our family and friends and people started showing up. Everytime the phone rang we would jump, hoping for good news from the Coast Guard or BASRA. Nothing. My best friend from kindergarten was flying in with her son for the wedding so I made arrangements for her to be picked up by a friend. I was relieved when she got there, not only for my sake but for Kyle's. The boys are 5 months apart and have been friends since birth. It really helped to have someone there for Kyle to play. At 4 1/2 I decided he didn't need to know what was going on but I'm sure he was wondering something. It was a nice afternoon and the boys were playing in the little pool. I'll never forget overhearing their conversation. "Kyle, where's Bill?" And in his sweet little voice he responded, "Huh? Oh! He's on the boat with Papaw; they'll be back on Friday." Simple enough and they moved on, but oh how those words stung.

Somehow on Monday a friend of a friend notified the local news affiliate of what was going on. Apparently, they were going to run a story on the news that night in case any boaters had seen or heard anything, all we asked was that they not give out our names. Later that night I was watching cartoons with the little boys while the big girls sat in Mom's room to watch the news. All of a sudden I heard one loud unanimous gasp. I went back to the bedroom to confirm my suspicion. Yep. So much for not using our names. Physically and emotionally exhausted after what now worked out to be close to 36 hours all we could do was cry. (And, well, I guess there was a little yelling too...)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

STORY TIME - Chapter Seven

My oh my, where was I? I hadn't realized it had been nearly a week since I'd posted Chapter Six. I also hadn't realized how difficult putting the next part of the story into words would be. I have never actually written it out before now. That said, I'll get on with it and just hope it all makes sense.

The girls converged on Mom's house that evening, July 21, 2002 to be precise, for the season opener of Sex in the City (season five). I didn't realize until I googled it today looking for a [family friendly] clip or something that the title of this particular episode is "Anchors Away". Oh the irony. Anyway, we watched our show, cracked our jokes, and sipped our cosmos but we still hadn't heard from the guys and I was positively ill just thinking about it. We had spent the afternoon brushing it off with "they must've lost track of time fishing," or "they got there and started drinking beer with the boys and lost track of time," but now it was after 10:00pm - fifteen hours after they pushed off from my parents dock and made their way towards the blue water of the Atlantic - and not only had Bill not called me but Dad hadn't called Mom either.

The trash TV high could only take us so far. We finally made contact with our friend in the Bahamas, who was as worried as we were since they hadn't checked in with her either. It's funny now how the flashes of memory are so clear. She put us in contact with the head of BASRA, Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association, who ran me through their search and rescue plans and at the sound of his voice all of a sudden I went from a jittery bride-to-be to a completely panicked girl-who-hoped-she-was-still-a-bride-to-be and daughter wondering where her father and her fiance and his friends could possibly be.

Sometime around midnight I decided I need to find some more to help. I called a family friend who was in the Coast Guard at the time (I'm sure he appreciated the late night wake up call) and he put me in touch with the people who handled "this sort of thing" whatever this sort of thing was. As my Mom, my sister, my girlfriend and I sat around the patio table watching the minutes creep by on the clock my thoughts were practically incoherent. I remember the occasion comment "it's been 16 1/2 hours now;" then "eighteen hours;" and sometime well before daybreak I remember us joining hands and Mom leading us in a prayer for their safety.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sometimes someone finds just the right words...

and today I found them when I linked through this family's blog to this post. Enjoy them for yourself:

Every call has a beginning
A quiet moment when God whispers a promise to a mother’s heart
A holy place where a father bows and faithfully accepts the journey set before him.
A miraculous morning that unexpectedly dawns…casting its first light on a chosen threshold.
A gentle knock..a closed door opens.
A sacred invitation sent by the Father..Leads to the other side of the world.
Where lonely hearts stare out orphanage windows
Praying for someone to care..
And then one morning,
On an ordinary day an orphan’s life changes...
God sends them a second chance...Through you.
--author unknown

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Story Time - Chapter Six

So the next few weeks and months flew by and all of a sudden it was the weekend before the wedding. I had a million last minute errands to do (which included having my legs waxed but that's a dramatic tale for another day!) and spent every moment of my Saturday doing SOMETHING. Saturday evening, Bill went to the airport to pick up his friend from Connecticut who was flying in to take the boat over with the guys and I finished up last minute laundry and stuff at home.

Before it was even bright and early on Sunday morning, Bill and his friend walked from the apartment to my parents' house less than two blocks away to get ready to start their cruise to the Bahamas. I grudgingly got up to wave at them as they walked down the sidewalk and then went back to bed until a decent hour. I had more errands to do on Sunday morning so I got up and got to them. By late morning I made it to my parents' house and settled in for the afternoon. Mom told me the guys had pushed off right around 7:00am or so, the boat packed to the gills with junk food and refreshments.

A bunch of us had a standing date night back then. Every Sunday night we'd meet at someone's house to watch Sex in the City and drink cosmopolitans. Naturally, tonight would be at Mom's. Believe it or not the details of the day have faded a bit in the last six and a half years (for which I am actually quite thankful) but I do know that somewhere amid doing laundry and confirming the plans for the upcoming week and the wedding I started to get an uneasy feeling in the early afternoon. I continued with preparing for the evening's festivities anyway and intermittently checked the cell phone for missed calls.

Finally when I couldn't take it anymore I sent an instant message to my girlfriend that said something to the effect of "hmmmm...they left at seven and I still haven't heard from Bill. Shouldn't they be there by now?" After a couple of messages back and forth she decided to come over a little early to help me get ready for the Sex in the City night and to help calm my obvious pre-wedding jitters. A cosmo or two would do the trick just fine!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Story Time - Chapter Five

So we had the to pick the date. We decided pretty quickly that we'd get married on the date we had first visited the beach at East End and that we'd do it the following summer. So July 27, 2002 it is. That was easy. And all decided before the end of the evening.

Over the next few days we decided who we'd like to be in the wedding and how we wanted to go about getting it planned. Through the holidays and into the beginning of the next year, with LOTS of help, we picked flowers and dresses and music and favors. We hired a friend in the Bahamas to be our wedding coordinator on the island and spent a lot of time talking with her to figure out the logistics of how to pull this off. We picked hotel rooms and flights and arranged for air travel for our wedding party and all of our guests, as well as transportation to and from the airport.

Then the guys had a great idea. What if they all climbed on my dad's boat the weekend before and cruised to the Bahamas to do the bachelor party there before the rest of us arrive? They could fish, and do guy things and have a great time; Bill's other best friend and groomsman who lives in the Bahamas could be involved in all the fun and festivities; it would be fantastic! So that was the plan.

Over the next several months we tied up all the loose ends in wedding planning and got ready for the big day. We had a few bumps in the road and a few things didn't really go quite as planned but over all things were going very smoothly. I drove my sister (my maid of honor) and another bridesmaid friend crazy by dragging them to store after store dress shopping before deciding in the end that the very first dress I tried on, and continued to try on at every store we visited, was the perfect one. We worked long hours tying tulle around bubbles for the reception that very nearly got left at home. You know, the usual wedding planning chaos.

Story Time - Chapter Four

So, we came home from the Bahamas with every intention of going back some day, be it for a wedding or otherwise, and life went on. Soon enough, Kyle and Bill started to get to know each other too. One day when Kyle and I came home from work and pre-school. Bill was in the kitchen of the apartment cooking dinner for all of us. Excited to see him, Kyle burst through the door and said "Daddy, look what I did at school today!" That stopped both me and Bill right in our tracks. Later that night after Kyle went to bed Bill and I had our first conversation about Bill's desire to adopt Kyle. We hadn't even seriously talked about marriage...yet.

Later in the fall, Bill started making preparations to propose. Working full time and going to school several nights a week I can admit that I was oblivious. Bill took a family heirloom and had it made in to the most beautiful one-of-a-kind engagement ring. He decided he'd propose on Christmas. When the ring was finished in mid-November, he showed his parents and discussed his plans with them. And decided maybe Thanksgiving would be a better time to pop the question. Then one night - November 20, 2001 to be exact - while I was in school he drove to my parents house and talked to my Mom and Dad. He had to make sure he had their blessing because "Hey, Tuesday's good!"

I came home from school in a foul mood and didn't feel much like playing along when Bill tried to guide me through the steps he'd planned. When he started the conversation with "I think we need to talk about our relationship..." I thought surely there was a problem. When he told me to close my eyes and I opened them to a proposal I couldn't stop shaking. I can't remember if I ever actually said "Yes" or if I just hugged him and kissed him but from that moment the planning began for "a wedding no one would ever forget."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Story Time - Chapter Three

Now, seven and a half years after our blind date, we can agree that it was pretty obvious to both of us pretty fast that this was it. Ironic for two people who had always said "NEVER. Not me." But, anyway, after our blind date we started spending a lot of time together. Bill worked long hours and would come over to my apartment every night after work (after making sure Kyle was asleep) and we would talk and laugh and such, basically just getting to know each other.

Bill had a "guys' trip" planned for that summer to the Bahamas, where one of his best friends lives, and at the last minute changed his plans so that he could go with the guys for 10 days and then come back, pick me up and take me to the Bahamas for the weekend as a birthday gift. We had a fantastic time. How could you not? It's the Bahamas, after all.

While we were there for that long weekend our friend toted us around the island showing us all the local hotspots and the places the tourists rarely see (which is the ONLY way to travel if you ask me. Touristy spots are the same everywhere, you have to get into where the locals like to be if you want to really experience someplace.) The beaches were gorgeous. All of them. But we especially fell in love with the beach at the east end of the island. It is the home of a former US Military Missle Base and when we made the drive all the way out there we were the only three people on the beach. It was positively stunning. Postcard perfect with hundreds of feet of perfect soft sandy beach reaching out to meet the ocean. We stayed and watched the tide bring the water all the way up to meet us. Then we came back the next day. By the end of the weekend Bill told me, "one day I want to marry you on that beach."

Story Time - Chapter Two

Where were we? Oh, yes, the blind date. (By the way, I'm going to drop the fairytale metaphor, if you don't mind, so as to not send readers retching to the loo.) So, here we are, two completely disinterested adults being set up on a blind date by my very close friends, who are husband and wife. Bill worked with the husband and didn't know him very well at the time.

Thankfully, since neither of us really wanted to go in the first place, we arranged the date to be a double date with our friends one Saturday evening. After a couple of cancellations we finally made it to dinner on March 31. I had a babysitter for Kyle, who was 3 1/2 years old, and a built-in "I'm so sorry, but I am going to have to go. That was the sitter and Kyle's not feeling well" call to my cell phone scheduled for about an hour or so into the evening. Bill had another date set to go out for drinks with a lady friend a couple of hours after dinner. (Hey, I told you neither of us was really interested in going.)

So, anyway, half way through appetizers I am kicking my girlfriend under the table and giving her a look; an hour and a half into the evening I am ignoring the "emergency" call; and after dessert we are still not ready to go home. We decided to continue our evening over drinks at a local hole-in-the-wall. Like girls do, my friend and I made a bee-line to the bathroom as soon as we got there. She took one look at me and said "You're going to marry him;" to which I gave a girlish squeal before telling her to shut her trap before she throws a jinx on the whole thing! Somewhere in here, unbeknownst to me, Bill had called to cancel his back-up date. Our foursome settled into a quiet booth and proceeded to have a great time chatting over a glass of red wine. Before we knew it, it was closing time.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gather 'round now and I'll tell you a little story...

there was a little girl who dreamed of a handsome prince. She looked and looked for her Prince Charming. And then she grew up and decided all men were toads - and she really hated kissing toads - so she stopped searching for her prince.

Meanwhile, in a land far, far away was a young prince who dreamed of becoming a king. He worked very long and very hard and started to build his kingdom. He noticed the maidens in the land, but only in passing. He decided kings don’t need queens and kept working and working toward his goal.

One day while going about their very opposite lives, the not-so-little-anymore girl and the not-so-young-anymore prince were set up on a blind date by two well-meaning friends.

[ wanted to hear the middle too? I guess I should elaborate! Chapter Two coming soon.]

Umm, okay, a little help here?

I need some help from my Yahoo sistas (and anyone else who would like to weigh in on this). The last piece of the dossier puzzle is the set of photo pages that will be given to our children when we accept an assignment and are getting ready to travel. These pictures are supposed to be our children's very first introduction to us, their forever family. Can I just say I'm feeling a little anxiety over these pages? Anyone have any suggestions? How did you do yours? How do you plan to do yours?

It's hard to convey stunned silence in a blog post.

The only way I could figure out how to do it is by not writing anything. And, well, that just looks like there's no blog post, especially when I had already posted the Reminders, Updates and Announcements post yesterday. However, that's not the case. Yesterday was a BIG day and I am still trying to process the magnitude of it all.

Remember I told you I had sent all the rest of our documents for the dossier to be apostilled? Well, I checked the delivery confirmation Thursday afternoon and learned it was received in Tallahassee on Wednesday morning. I was relieved it had made it but didn't dare formulate a guess on when to expect the documents back. See where I'm going with this? Yep, you guessed it. Yesterday afternoon I went to check our Post Office Box and had a package back from the Secretary of State with ALL OF OUR APOSTILLED DOCUMENTS IN IT!

So what this means is that I finally have in my possession all the documents that we need to complete our dossier. We just have a few more loose ends to tie up.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Reminders, Updates and Announcements

I've previously mentioned (here and here, to be exact) my Streams in the Desert devotional which I received as a gift. Well, as part of my post for today I am including another reference to this devotional because it just seems so appropriate. Today as I read the devotional I was struck by this passage:

Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make "all things work together," but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,

"In His own world He is content
To play a losing game."

So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you.

Sound familiar? It did to me. Remember that Joni Eareckson Tada quote that I told you got our ball rolling? In case you are going on link-overload, I'll put it for you here:

"Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future... It's simply taking God at His word and taking the next step." ~ Joni Eareckson Tada

Sounds a little like I was needing a reminder, doesn't it? Got it.

So what has been happening in the last week or so? In terms of a quick update we are making TONS of progress over here. We have sent what I believe could very well be the last of the dossier documents to Tallahassee to be apostilled. (This is a HUGE step for us; it signals we are nearing the end of the document gathering phase of the adoption!) When I get these documents back I will be providing them to our agency to prepare and send to Colombia for their review and, God willing, approval of our application to adopt a sibling group. Once approved, we will be placed on a waiting list to be matched with our children. I told my sister the other day that for as long as this process has taken it seems to be wrapping itself up pretty quickly...almost too quickly. It is allowing a lot of fears to crop up as to how we are going to be able to pull together everything else we need in time. Bill is constantly reminding me that with God nothing is impossible and I know he's right. God will show us the way. And, I have to admit, 'tis pretty exciting that He may be showing us the way sooner rather than later now!

Now hear this! I have had a request to post more about the hub-bub surrounding our wedding so I will be breaking our wedding story up in to a couple of posts over the next several days, weeks, or months [I can never be sure how long it will take me to do these things, so I want to make sure I am as accurate as possible here.] so if you're interested in hearing about it, keep an eye out.