Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mowing in my Snow Boots

Last night I mowed the lawn in my snow boots because I couldn't find my "old" shoes. As I walked outside in my shorts and snow boots, my 8 year old daughter had a terrified look on her face. I can only imagine the thoughts running through her head. My mom used to torture me as a kid and now I am doing the same to my daughter. Funny how that works.

I remember some of things my mom did when my brothers and I were growing up. I can remember on long road trips my mom would tell us to look for a certain kind of tree. It was usually those really tall and skinny pine trees. She told us that elves lived in those tress and if we yelled loud enough when we passed by they would give us treats, but we had to be quiet while "looking" for the trees. Sure enough, we would spot the said trees and begin yelling "ELFY! ELFY!" My mom would then say "I think I see one over there, look!" We would turn our heads and out of nowhere candy was being thrown into the back seat of the car. We would then wait patiently until the next tree was found. One time, three cans of soda were hurled into the back seat. Amazing. This was all fun and I must say it passed the time. However, I discovered that not EVERYBODY looked for elves while in the car. I was traveling with a friend and when I saw a tall skinny pine tree I began to yell "ELFY, ELFY." My friends' family just stared at me. I was embarrassed and never yelled for elves again.

I grew up in Pella and we made many trips to Des Moines. The trip was about an hour which as a kid seemed like a LONG time. To get to Des Moines we had to pass through this tiny town called Otley. There were no stop lights or stop signs but there was a speed limit of 35 mph. When we got close to the town of Otley my mom, in her best pilot voice, would say "Pilot to co-pilot, we are approaching Otley." Whoever was in the passenger side of the car was the co-pilot. (That was before airbags) My mom would then turn on the windshield wipers, the hazard lights, turn up the radio, and punch the gas. We had to roll the windows down (even in the winter). Instead of slowing down through Otley, we would "fly" through Otley. She would swerve a little. The co-pilot had to make sure the runway was clear and the backseat passengers were okay. Once we were out of Otley, the windows were rolled up, the hazards were turned off, and the wipers stopped. I always wondered what would happen if we got pulled over. I think my mom would just say that we were flying through Otley. We never did get pulled over.

My mom was, and still is, a little kooky. She even embarrassed me a little, okay, A LOT. I have more stories about my mom and perhaps they will surface another day. Mostly I remember having a lot of fun with my mom. I hope my kids are having a lot of fun with me. Sure, I might embarrass them a little here and there, but hopefully the fun far outweighs the embarrassment. I might just mow the yard every time in my snow boots.

What embarrassing or fun stories do you have from your childhood?

Monday, May 17, 2010


I tried the links in my latest post, they don't work. I think one of them does. I am just not tech savvy so give me some patience here. If you want to hear the songs, go to You Tube and type in the title or artist. I am so sorry. :(

Knock My Socks Off Music

Anyone who knows me just a little or really well knows that I am a fan of music. I like listening to it, I like playing it, and I like teaching it. You know the question: "If you could have thing on a desert island what would it be?" Of course my Bible would probably be the winner, however, my keyboard would be right up there along with my Ipod.

The last couple of weeks I have heard three songs that have given me some much needed encouragement. These three songs have stopped me dead in my tracks and have literally brought me prayerfully to my knees in tears. They speak right to my heart. I listen to them over and over.

I have been struggling lately with lonliness. I have been questioning why we moved here. I have also been struggling with our adoption process. Why so many roadblocks? We recently learned that Josie will need to have a painful hip surgery. I left the doctors appointment upset and grieving for Josie. Why her? Hasn't she been through enough? What I wouldn't do to make her pain go away.

The first song, "Our God" by Chris Tomlin I first heard on the radio. The very first line of the song talks about Jesus healing the blind. We all are blind, spiritually. But since having a daughter who is blind, this reference speaks right to Josie's situation. Since having Josie all the references in Scripture and in songs about being blind speak directly to my heart. In the middle of the song is a bridge and the words are "If God is with us then who can stand against us" We are the middle of an adoption nightmare. We have hit roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. It feels like we are taking on the country of Haiti and that is a pretty daunting task. Needless to say, it is over my head and beyond anything I can do. However, I strongly believe that God is with my family on this and NO ONE or NOTHING is going to stand against us. I needed to hear that song. It gives me hope. Here is the link to the song if you want to hear it.

The second song, "The Power of Your Name" by Lincoln Brewster I heard just last week on the radio on my to Orange City to go to the Tulip Festival. It speaks to all the pain in this world. Oh, how I long for God's Kingdom to come. It is so hard to wait. However, while we are waiting we can be the hands of feet of Jesus and show His compassion to others. This song reminds me why we have Josie in our house. Sometimes I don't understand why we moved here. It has been hard. In my struggle I need to reach out to those around me, no matter where I am. Please take a listen, you will be blessed.

And finally the third song. (Sigh) This song literally brings me to tears everytime I hear it. When I give talks to groups about Josie's story I hope to use this song in some way. Pretty much the whole song speaks to my heart. It talks about heaven. It talks about no more weeping. It talks about no more pain. It talks about no more darkness. It talks about no sick or lame. Wow! I so long for that for everybody, but I can't help but think about Josie's days in heaven! She will no longer be in darkness. She will not wail anymore. She will be dancing and singing with the one who created her. Her days on earth are so difficult but she will ultimately be healed. Knowing that she will one day be in heaven is sometimes what gets me through the difficult days . I am kind of at a loss for words because words can't describe what I am feeling. That is okay. The song is called "You Hold Me Now" by Hillsong United. Let me know what you think!

Your turn - What are some of your favorite songs? Drop me a comment and I will listen to your favorites!

Monday, May 10, 2010

From One Mom to Another

I had a great Mother's Day weekend. My husband and kids bought me an outfit earlier in the week. This was a 2 for 1 gift. I liked the outfit PLUS I got to enjoy 1-1/2 hours at home by MYSELF while they were out shopping - priceless. We went to Pella for Tulip Time and despite the cold weather we still had a good time. On Sunday, three of my kids and I went to Pella to spend the day with family from near and far. Jon stayed home with Josie and when I returned later that night, the entire house was picked up and clean! Jon also did 6+ loads of laundry! I have a great family, great kids, and a great husband!

There was one woman I thought about regularly throughout the weekend. I do not know this woman's name. I do not know where she lives. I do not know how old she is. I do not know what she looks like. I do not know how many kids she has. I do not even know if she is alive. This woman and I are linked together and we share one thing in common. We both share the title of "Josie's Mom." There are many things I would like to know about the woman who carried and birthed Josie. She has be to a beautiful woman because her daughter sure is. She must be strong, determined, and perhaps a bit stubborn because her daughter sure is. I do not know why she abandoned Josie. I would like to think it was because she was scared and couldn't provide for Josie and didn't know what else to do. Perhaps her motives were something else. I don't know.

I would like to tell her this: Josie has brought joy to so many. Josie has a new mommy who loves her dearly. Josie is the strongest person I know. Josie is the happiest person I know. Josie has the best daddy ever. Josie's laugh and smile can light up a room. Josie has the loudest cry I have ever heard. Josie is a fighter. Josie gives me strength and courage to make it through each day. Josie is a child of God and will one day be healed completely! I hope you will be reunited with Josie in heaven. I would like to thank this woman for the gift of Josie. Happy Mother's Day to Josie's Mom!

*On a technical note, I tried to get the picture on the top to the bottom of this post. For some reason it will not move, and I am tired of messing with it. So - scroll to the top to see a picture of Josie and me dancing. Photo courtesy of the Campbells from Wisconsin! :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Connections

On Tuesday, I was one of many panelists for an AEA (area education agency) Lunch and Learn here in Johnston. The topic was Diverse Family Structures. To the right of me at the table was another adoptive mom, a caucasion woman married to an African American man and she has African American step children, a lesbian woman who has a wife and two adopted sons, a woman who worked for the Fatherhood initiative, an African American single dad who is raising his 4 year old son and 1 year old nephew, and an African American woman who works for Children and Families of Iowa and she adopted a caucasion daughter. The five people to the left me of me at the table have probably forever changed my life. On my immediate left was a single woman in her early 20s trying to raise two or three kids. Next to hear was an 18 year old girl who is pregnant and all alone. Further down the table was a 16 year old boy who was going to be a daddy. His girlfriend is 15. And next to him was a teenage girl who has dropped out of school so she can raise her brothers two kids. The woman responsible for bringing these four people had a story of her own that I am not going to get into.

We were there to talk about the stuggles and joys of having a diverse family structure. We were also asked what support and services we found useful and how educators can help and add more support. However, much more was going on in that room. God was at work and His Spirit was moving. I sensed this and I started to pay attention. The man who is a single father made a connection with the boy that was going to be a daddy. They are going to meet and I think good things will happen.

The discussion was quite heavy at times so to lighten things up a bit, I shared that one of my struggles with Josie is her hair! I got some smiles and nods of affirmation. Afterwards, somebody came up to me and offered to buy some hair product that she uses and to come to my house and show me how to care for Josie's hair and skin. If Josie's hair is long enough she is going to braid it! I made a new friend that I know I wouldn't have made if I didn't have Josie!

The girl that was two chairs down from me - she is pregnant and all alone. I felt led to talk to her afterwards. I asked her name. I asked her where she went to school. Nothing major, but I talked with her. Her responses were short, she was very quiet. We ate our sandwiches together. She didn't ask, but I told her a little about myself. She then looked at me and asked me if I was that lady on the news. She said I looked really familiar. I told her I was and that she had one good memory. She laughed and told me that she can remember a lot of things. She then looked at me and told me I was a good person. I didn't know what to say. I think I told her thank you and that she was a good person too.

I needed to get going and so I left. First of all, NEVER in my 34 years have I been in one room with such different people as me. I loved it! I found it fascinating. I have so much to learn from people. Everbody on that panel had gone though some kind of pain or struggle. Even though my pain and struggle was different than theirs, I came away knowing that I am not alone. Secondly, I felt led to pursue or perhaps mentor the young lady that I met that day. I contacted the woman that brought her. The woman emailed back and said YES, this young lady needs help. For those of you who know me, this is way out of my comfort zone. I would much rather work with kids. I don't know where this relationship will go, but I am confident that God will be at work. I have tried to call this young lady, but so far no answer. I will keep trying! For now I ask that you pray for my new friend. And pray for me as I try to reach out to her.

On another note - our insurance company decided to allow Josie to continue on our medical insurance. This is a huge answer to prayer, so I thank all of you who are out there praying!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Nelson Family Update

If you read my last post, thank you. Last week was a rough week and things are looking up again this week. We are still in the process of adopting Josie from the country of Haiti. I was hoping that the earthquke would speed things up a bit, but I was wrong. Horribly wrong. We were told a couple of weeks ago that we must complete our adoption in Haiti. This means starting over. It has been three years since we entered this process. I was devastated. We have renewed our paperwork several times now and it all comes with renewal fees. Our adoption agency told us this could on for YEARS! Too make a long story short, I contacted Iowa's senators and represenatives. Our story got on the local news. I felt like our story was heard, but nobody could help or knew how to do anything about it.

Last week, Jon was informed that our medical insurance was going to drop her. Another hard blow. We have had to stop therapies that Josie desperately needs because we can't afford it. It breaks this mommy's heart to not be able to help her the way that she needs. We had to postpone a surgery she needs because the recover period is difficult and we don't have adequate support (home health care, physical therapy, respite, etc.) Josie is in her developmental years and each day that passes by is a missed opportunity. It is extremely frustrating to just sit and wait and not be able to do anything.

I finally broke. I began to question why we were doing this. I began to wonder why God would put this child in our home if this adoption were never to be completed. I faced the reality of Josie going back to Haiti. We could no longer help her until her adoption is finalized. I needed help. I was hopeless and scared. I wondered where God was in all of this. This is not a fun place to be. My strength was gone.

Amazing things happen when my strength is gone because that is when God's strength takes over. My husband began making phone calls and things started moving again. We now have a lawyer that is going to plea our case before a judge and try to finalize this adoption domestically. He has done it before and thinks he can do it again. It is not a guarantee but it is worth giving it a shot. There are people praying for a miracle and for God to move mountains on Josie's behalf. I have hope again. This is far from over and I ask anyone who is reading this to pray for the following....

1. Josie's status - we are applying for TPS (temporary protected status). We have been applying for medical visas - those expire after 6 months and are very expensive to renew. TPS would give her a status and she won't be deported.
2. We need Josie's birth certificate. Her original is in the Haitian civil court. It was there when the earthquake hit and could have been destroyed. We have a copy of it and are hoping that will be good enough to present in court in the US.
3. We need to get Josie back on our medical insurance.
4. Pray for our lawyer - he is advocating big time for Josie. We praise God for leading us to him.
5. Pray for the judge that will hear Josie's case. We are presenting her case without all the necessay paperwork. Pray that the judge will overlook this and do what is best for Josie.
6. Pray for my family and my marriage. I believe that in my moments of doubt that the evil one creeps in. Satan really doesn't want this adoption to happen. Pray for protection of my family.
7. Pray for a miracle. Pray that Josie's adoption will be finalized domestically.
8. Pray for all of the orphans around the world. Pray for the people advocating for them. Pray for the orphanages. Pray for the countries they are in and their governments. Pray for those in the process of international adoption.

Thank you for reading. I truly appreciate all of you.