Sunday, December 23, 2012

Am I Turning Into A Hipster?

I own skinny jeans.

I own TOMS shoes.

I own Teva sandals.

I own V neck t-shirts.

I own whatever these kind of sunglasses are called.

I seriously considered owning some "little house on the prairie" boots.

I own a Volvo...and a Subaru.

RUH ROH!  Am I on the brink of full blown granola??

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cute Homemade Gift Tags

Instructions for cute homemade gift tags for Christmas or any time:

Buy cardstock

Cut cardstock to desired size and punch a hole in two corners

Cut a piece of yarn or ribbon and string it through the two holes

Tie a bow

Address it


Zoom out and admit that your craft desk is not as neat as it appears in the above pictures

The end

Why Foster Care?

When Trent and I walked into the Bair Foundation office in mid August for our initial info gathering appointment with the Intake Director, we thought we were just covering all the bases, learning about foster care and adoption through foster care just so we could say we did.   It sounded waaay too hard and waaay out of our league.

Taking care of a child and then possibly letting them go...not knowing whether they would be our first forever child...possible physical and sexual abuse...neglect...court dates...birth parent visits...behavior problems...medical, so many unknowns...

We thought "There's no way God is leading us to this, maybe in several years when we've actually done a bit of parenting."

Well, funny thing about God...

Trent and I walked out of the Bair office after talking with Melanie for an hour about the system, the kids, the process.   We got in my car and I turned it on but we didn't go anywhere for a few minutes, even though we both needed to get back to work.

Trent said "That felt really, really normal to sit there and talk about all that."

I said "I know."

The feelings from June came back, and it felt exactly the same, a strange mixture in my heart and in my gut of both peace and fear.  It was "yes, this is right" mixed with "you have got to be kidding me."  And I began to cry.  Partly because that is just what I do in lots of situations because I am Anna, but mostly because tears seem to automatically accompany those feelings from June.  We talked during the ten or so minute drive from Bair back to my office where Trent had left the motorcycle, me staring wide eyed over the steering wheel with tears on my cheeks and Trent staring wide eyed at me.

Then we went back to work.

We decided to allow ourselves ample time to simply sit on this idea, to see how we felt about it, to see if it fizzled like our other possible routes, to talk and pray and search ourselves and figure out if we really felt up to this.  We told ourselves that if we decided this route was too scary, too much for us to handle emotionally or too early to embark on, we'd just go back to the domestic infant adoption idea. Well, it is indeed pretty scary, it'll be a whole lot to handle emotionally and we have gathered that we are indeed on the younger end of the foster parent age range.  But we realized after a little while that there was no point in sitting on the idea any longer when we already knew in our hearts what we were supposed to do.

So we emailed Melanie and told her "We're in".

Then we attended 8 hours of orientation, spent a lot of time pulling various paperwork items together and jumped full force into our checklist of things we had to provide or do in order to be licensed.  Then Melanie went back to school and a lady from the Austin Bair office sort of covered for Melanie's Waco duties. Then we were told that the Waco Bair office is closing and we found ourselves more or less back to square one.  Here we are in this state of limbo, not knowing what is ahead or what we need to do yet, lots of unknowns and frustration, lots of different voices talking at us from Bair and DFPS as we try to get back on track.

Hmm...limbo, unknowns, frustration, lots of social workers?  That kind of sounds like foster care itself...   

The phrases "It will all work together for good" or "It's all part of God's plan" are kind of annoying to hear when you are still surrounded by the bad and are still trying to figure out what the heck God's plan is.  But, I will begrudgingly admit that those things are true in this situation.  As I stated in my first blog post about all this, "God is calling the shots here."  And that's why we're not running away with our tail between our legs, just because our first set of plans fell through. If we do that now, there is no way in heck we'll be able to handle the craziness of foster care itself. 

For now, we are back to asking and seeking. We are learning patience and trust by the truckload and we still have God on speed dial.   We're not sure what direction this will take: another agency, DFPS itself, some other crazy curve ball God hasn't thrown our way yet?  We don't know.

But we do know that there are children right here around us, in our own city, county and state, that need safety and love.  Lots and lots of them.  Maybe some will come and go.  Maybe some will stay with us forever.  But they are out there.  And we want to love them.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Not Regular Domestic Or International Adoption?

Trent and I made the decision to pursue adoption on July 1st of this past summer. We had talked about it as a possibility at random times for over a year but during the month of June prior to this decision, I repeatedly ran into what I truly believe were God signs pointing us in this direction (which I might write about another time).  Also during that month, Trent was gone to two camps and a mission trip.  So I was stuck at home by myself having lots of tearful conversations with God while Trent was not there.  He got home.  I gave him a day to rest up.  Then I told him all about the month of June.  And there in our living room, the evening of July 1st, we decided to pursue adoption.

I don't think I slept a wink that night.

And so began our journey of educating ourselves, figuring out what paths to adoption were available and what each would involve, praying about which way we should go.

First we looked into domestic infant adoption.
Trent and I are the type that want to serve our next door neighbors, those in need right here in our own community.  There are folks who are wired for international mission or international adoption and we believe that is so good and so needed and they have our full support in it.  But that's not really us.  So at the beginning of all this we figured we'd find ourselves adopting via an agency assisted domestic infant adoption.  This is where you sign on with an agency who does your homestudy and approves you, then works to match you with an expectant birth mother who is choosing for her child to be adopted.  This is how Trent and his sister were adopted.  We even started by researching the Edna Gladney Center For Adoption, the agency they were both adopted through, but quickly gave up on that idea when we saw that it would cost us $34,000 to adopt through them.   After some more research, we landed on Generations Adoptions, an agency here in Waco.  We met with the director to get to know the agency better and we really, really liked it.  Plus the $17,500 fee was much less scary.

Then some time passed. And we became less and less convinced that this was the route for us to take.  You see...that system is doing just fine without us.  They've got hopeful adoptive parents waiting up to three years before they are matched with a birth mother and therefore matched with their future child.  Most of these parents are turning to this agency assisted adoption as their only way to have children and build a family, due to infertility or other complications that prevent them from having biological children.   We realized we might do more to clog this system than help.  We did not decide to adopt based on our own need but rather to help fill a need.  We do believe that if God was indeed leading us to this form of domestic adoption, the child he would lead us to would be meant for us and not for someone else.  And if he put a different situation in our path where we could adopt a child here that didn't come to us through a private agency, we'd be open to that. But for the time being, he wasn't leading us to domestic infant adoption...

So we looked briefly into international adoption.
We have a place in our hearts for Haiti.  Partly because Mission Waco has a very strong tie to Haiti through mission work it does there and we have a very strong tie to Mission Waco now, since Trent's second job is there.  Partly because Haiti is right there so close to us.  Mostly because there is so much hurt and need there.  When we realized that domestic infant adoption was probably not the right route for us, we wondered if God was indeed pushing us outside of our country and this pull towards Haiti was part of that.   So we began to research adoption from Haiti.  It took all of about 5 minutes to discover that at least one of us has to be age 35 before we can adopt from Haiti.  Door >> slam.  So we have to tuck this idea away for now but who knows...maybe in 7 or 8 years we'll revisit it.

Then we looked into foster care...and God met us there.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My New Baby Computer

I'd like to introduce you to my new gadget.  He is an Asus Eee PC Netbook and his name is George.  I name everything, remember?

But Anna, don't you and Trent already have a nice HP laptop?   We have an HP laptop, that part is correct. And it does indeed look very spiffy and nice.  But it has been a pain in the booty since we got it.  If we run Windows on it, it often randomly freezes for about a minute, especially when I would try to upload photos to anywhere.  Trent exhausted his ideas for trying to fix it and Best Buy told us we couldn't swap it out, so my techy husband set it up to dual boot. Now we can run Ubuntu on it as well as Windows.  Blah blah blah tech language...the point is it made the freezing go away.  But it still gives me an error of death when I try to upload photos.

Our HP laptop hates photos.
Anna Pie loves photos.
Therefore, Anna Pie hates our HP laptop.

Ok, maybe that isn't correct logic, but you get the point.  It was time for a change and it was time for a splurge (gasp!).  So my techy husband set up searches on Ebay and found George for $113.  (In their short prime, Netbooks retailed for at least $250.)   These things are itty bitty laptops that were in stores for only a short while and are nowhere to be found anymore besides the internet.   Tablets have taken over.  But I already have a tablet and I wanted a working laptop, with an actual keyboard and screen and mouse.  And I wanted an itty bitty one.  10.1 inches to be exact.

I'm in love with George.  Wait, no, that's not right...I'm in love with Trent.  But I reeeeeally like my new baby computer.  It's so small, lightweight, portable and handy.  I could even put it in my purse!  Perfect for blogging or picture posting or budget spreadsheet tweaking or autobiography-for-foster-care writing at a coffee shop or at the kitchen table or in bed or in the car or...

I'm a girl on the move and my new baby computer can move right along with me as I try to capture memories and tidbits of life wisdom.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Neighbor Kids

Our neighbor kids next door play in our front yard regularly.  They ride their bikes all over it, play football across both yards for more space and play in our sprinklers sometimes.  They also scooter, skip and skate all along the sidewalk and sometimes take a spill into our yard.  Sometimes a little girl from down the street joins in.   We certainly don't mind.  It's not like we have pretty grass they are going to trample...  They also have super awesome games of Hide And Seek meets Lord Of The Rings Elf Battle meets Space Invasion which involve the entire perimeter of their house and some of the bushes on the side of ours.

Our neighbor kids across the street just moved in and are absolutely hilarious.  It's two brothers and a little bitty sister.   Trent once heard one brother tell the other "You're a lame-o!"  I mean, come on, who calls someone a lame-o anymore?  Lost art.  Trent had a good giggle and went on with his grilling.  One time I got home from work and saw big brother carrying little brother around by the waist...upside down.  Just toting him around.  No idea why.  Another time big brother was poking around by the street picking up pecans and little brother was very, very busy keeping little bitty sister a safe distance from the road, under the pretense of hiding behind their trash can and peeking around it.  If she tried to get out he would herd her back behind it and say "ssshhh" as if they were spies. The other day when I tried to go jogging, I went past their house and little brother gave me a very friendly "Hi!" from their front porch.

Our neighbor kids caddy corner to our back yard are two little girls, either sisters or our neighbor and her friend.  These little girls have such creative minds when it comes to the games they play.  When I was outside in the back yard painting the shelves for our laundry room remodel a while back, I was so, so amused and impressed by how well they played together, outside, in a back yard with no playground or toys or tv screens.  "Such and such is chasing us, we have to run and hide behind that bush as fast as we can!"  "Guess what animal I am.  Ok now you be an animal and I'll guess what you are."   "Ok let's both jump up and down and see who can jump up and down the longest."   And the giggles, oh the giggles.

We are surrounded by cute, creative, playful children and I am so excited about that.  Pretty soon we'll also have small children in our home and I hope our kids can fit right in with these funny, fun, creative neighbor kids.  I have SUCH fond childhood memories of playing with the kids next door on the 30 acres next to our 30 acres...playing house and school and war and spies, hosing each other off after dancing in mud puddles, swaying in the tippy tops of cedar trees, dodging snakes at the creek, throwing tennis balls over the roof to each other, having Thumbs Up Club meetings in the chicken house and Nasse Creek Gang meetings in the barn attic, playing hide and seek in the front field of newly baled hay, saving little fishies that got stuck in puddles when Pirate Swamp across the fence overflowed after a good rain...

Trent and I don't have 30 acres, the neighbors next to us don't either, and the neighbors next to them don't have a Pirate Swamp.  But we've got a front yard that we'd love for a passel of our kids and neighbor kids to trample.  We've got a shed they can use for Thumbs Up Club II meetings.   And if they want to throw tennis balls over the roof, Trent can help them take that game up a few coolness notches and whip out his air canon.

Yeehaw! Bring on the kiddos!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Money Saver - Fred The Radiator Heater

Confession: Trent and I live like Eskimos in the winter time.

Our house is big and heating all of it for the whole winter would be really expensive, and somewhat pointless because we really aren't there a whole lot anyway.   So we don't.  If it's going to be reeeeeal cold, we of course turn on the furnace enough to avoid busted pipes and seeing our own breath inside our house. And duh, we turn on the heater at least on Sundays when our Bible study group comes over.  But for the most part, ole furnace stays pretty bored in the winter and we just bundle up in slippers and sweatshirts and robes and quilts, sometimes all at the same time! 

There is one room in our house, however, that is Toasty McToasterson for the whole winter: our bedroom.  Watching tv or cooking dinner in the cold is doable, but sleeping in the cold is terrible.  So we took a page out of my parents' book and bought ourselves an oil filled radiator heater the first winter we were in our house.  I named it Fred, because I have to name everything, much to Trent's amusement annoyance.  Fred came from Home Depot and cost us about $60.

It plugs into the wall in our bedroom and the oil inside heats up and starts to flow around in those ridges, therefore radiating heat.  There's no blower or fan, no exposed orangey glow.  You probably wouldn't want to give it a hug but if you had to poke it around to move it (it has wheels!) you could without getting burned.  You can simply set it to a constant low, medium, or high heat, or use the thermostat feature which means it turns on and off to keep the room at a certain temperature.  Because it radiates heat instead of blowing heated air around, it takes a little while to heat up a room in the first place but give it a bit of time and, like I said: Toasty McToasterson.

I have no clue how much money we have saved using this method as opposed to heating our whole house, but I'm sure it's at least enough to cover the $60 cost of buying Fred originally.

Disclaimer - This furnace boycott will of course come to an end when we have children living in our house that need to be kept warm and cozy. But as long as it is just us there, we prefer our money saving Eskimo lifestyle.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Keep Calm And Carry On

We have gotten a lot of encouraging words from some of y'all on facebook and in real life about our recent developments in the foster care world, aka, our agency's Waco office closing down.  My mom's jaw dropped when we filled my family in last night and she said "but I have a whole lot more kid books on hand!" I assured her they will still be able to be used and loved.

I just wanted to post a quick blurb before heading out to the ranch for Sauer Christmas and say that I think we are done with freaking out, some of which did happen. And though we are still indeed pretty frustrated at having to back track, we're ready to figure out how to move forward and indeed we are moving forward.  This is a setback but it is by no means squishing our plans to become foster parents.  We really feel like this is something we are supposed to do.

We'll see what we learn and figure out in the next couple weeks.  Our eyes and ears are open to see what path we are supposed to take.  Another agency?  Work directly with DFPS?  Some different version of caring for children in need of a safe home and family?  We'll see what God has in store and we'd appreciate your prayers as we learn and discern.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When Your Foster Agency Drops Out From Under You

We've hit a speed bump.  Well, actually, for now it feels more like we've run into a brick wall...

We were told yesterday that the Waco office of our foster care agency, the Bair Foundation, is closing down.   We don't know why and apparently it is a new development.  We dropped off a bunch of completed paperwork at lunch yesterday and asked the secretary if the January training schedule is out yet.  She was pretty wishy washy about it but said it was not.  Later in the day I emailed the director a random question and he responded by telling us that the office is closing.  I did not like that answer to my question... 

So, now what do we do?

Option 1:  There is another agency in town called Arrow Child & Family Ministries that has agreed to take on Bair's foster families, but it looks like Arrow specializes in higher level of care kids, "those that have suffered the most abuse" as their website says.  We're not sure that we're ready for that. Those kids need experienced foster parents or maybe even a stay at home parent.  But all we know about Arrow is based on a few brief, frantic trips to their website, so we'll of course dig deeper than that.

Option 2:  We can work directly with the state's Department of Family Protective Services and not have an agency.  This is not uncommon and we are not immediately opposed to the idea, though we liked the idea of having an agency as a Christian network of support and a middle man between us and the state. 

Option 3:  Ok God, did you shut this door in our face on purpose? Are you nudging us in a different direction?

The Bair director told us that the paperwork and training we have completed so far likely will not transfer to another agency or the state, since everyone has their own version of paperwork.  I have kept copies of everything we have turned in so far, so I guess we could kind of regurgitate the information onto someone else's similar forms from that. But a lot of hours of work will have to be repeated.  We will likely have to call on family, friends and employers once again to repeat the reference packets they already graciously spent time on once.  We canceled our doctor appointments for physicals tomorrow. We erased TB tests at the Health District from our immediate to do list.  I halted my research on how to get FBI fingerprints.  We'll have to start over with a new checklist and a new timeline. 

We are frustrated.  We know we'll figure it out somehow, but we are frustrated.  We were rocking and rolling on our paperwork and making a big push this month to get a lot done, our hearts were really getting on board with this idea and we were beginning to feel emotionally ready to have children in our home.    But now we are taking steps backwards instead.  Right now we feel like we are back to square one.

We knew we were signing up for crazy, but we didn't expect our agency to suddenly drop out from under us...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Be The Change

I don't own a lot of jewelry.  With the exception of a few pieces that were purchased at some point to match a certain outfit or dress, my jewelry collection consists of special items that were given to me as gifts or purchased on special occasions.  I love getting special jewelry as gifts, but it's extremely rare that I buy jewelry for myself.   

However, I do have a ring that is very special to me, that I bought for myself, for no occasion at all.  It was $16.99 at Target and caught my eye one day then tugged at my heart for a week or two before I went back and bought it.  It's just a sterling silver ring with a swirl in the band on one side.  But it was the words engraved on it that caught me. 

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

I think this quote is commonly attributed to Ghandi, but it doesn't much matter to me who said it originally. This cheap little ring has become a staple in my jewelry collection and I wear it all the time, sometimes stacked with my mission trip wife ring.

This ring is a reminder and a challenge, for me, for us, for our faith, for our life.

It's a reminder and challenge when I get into a selfish whiny fit about being so busy with all this youth ministry going on in our life.  We can be friends and teachers to these young people that God has placed in our life. 

It's a reminder and challenge when I get totally overwhelmed by the idea of becoming foster parents and wonder what the heck we are thinking.  We can be a stable home for children who need one, even if just for a short time.

It's a reminder and a challenge when I look over our budget spreadsheet and feel bad that we can't give much money to worthy causes.  The Kingdom of God doesn't just need money, it also needs hands and feet and willing hearts.  We can be those hands and feet and willing hearts.

What breaks your heart is this world?  Where do you wish to see change?  I challenge you to be that change. 

Don't just talk about it.  Don't just be sad about it.  Don't just throw money at it.  

Live it. Do it. Be it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Money Saver - Drink Water

I've got a really, really easy money saver for you today: when you go out to eat, order water.   

I have really gotten in the habit of this over the past couple years as we have been trying to control spending and knock down debt and it's basically a no brainer for me these days.  Now, if we're grabbing something quick and a drink is part of a combo deal, I'll go for a Coke or Sprite.  Or if we go somewhere that has irresistible tea like McAlister's, then I will order it (unsweet and put Splenda in it...their sweet tea is over 300 calories a glass!).  But for the most part, my drink order is "I'll just have water please."    Not only is it healthier than soda or sweet tea, but the savings add up. 

Assume you had the opportunity to choose water over another drink about three times a week.  That's probably a reasonable average: Sunday lunch after church, a busy evening with no time to make dinner, and a date night out.  Honestly, a lot of folks out there could probably up this to four, including us. 

Assume a drink at a restaurant averages to about $2.00 each among various restaurants.

$2 per drink x 3 per week x 52 weeks = $312 per year

If we wanted to get real technical, we could factor in the fact that you probably paid a tip on most of those drinks too...but I think I've sufficiently made my point already.

Makes you think about that measly 2 bucks a little differently when you look at it over a year huh?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How I Edit Photos

Here is how I edit photos:

I don't really know if I'm very good at it, but that site is where I give it a whirl.  It's free.  Go try it.





Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do You And Your Spouse Talk To Each Other?

Do you and your spouse talk to each other?

"Um, duh Anna, we're married..." 

No, I don't mean conversations about who needs to pick up the kids or when such and such purchase can fit into the budget or how this and that chore needs to be tackled.   Those are good things to talk about too, but I'm talking about real, deep, big deal conversations

How you want to build a family and when
How you'll discipline your kids
A master plan for knocking out debt
What you need from each other to feel loved
Your dream jobs
Your love life
The future
God's calling on your life and your marriage

Do you talk about these things with your spouse?

I recently posted on facebook: "Trent and I are not short on conversation topics these days. I love that we so enjoy talking to each other about anything and everything."

It's true.  We have been talking each others' ears off lately.  I'm sure that is partly due to the fact that we are in the process of figuring out answers to in depth questions on paperwork and preparing our hearts and home for foster children.  Ya think?  But it's more than that.  We're talkin' nitty gritty daily stuff up to big picture what-is-God's-call-for-our-life stuff and everything in between.  A few months ago we stayed up until about 1:30 am on a weeknight...just talking.  For anyone who is familiar with our "early to bed, early to rise" routine which usually finds us in bed by 10:00, that is crazy bonkers nutso late for us. 

Do you want to know a really, really good way to feel close to your spouse, to feel like you are one unit, in it together, on the same page, headed for the same goals, maintaining the same priorities in life, looking at the same big beautiful picture? 

Talk to each other.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Foster Care & Adoption Are Scriptural

God is a fan of adoption

Psalm 68:6
God sets the lonely in families.

Ephesians 1:4-6
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves.

Luke 9:48
Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me."

We, Trent and Anna, are called to this

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Genesis 33:5
Then Esau looked around and saw the women and children: "And who are these with you?" Jacob said, "The children that God saw fit to bless me with."

We, as Christians, are called to this

Luke 12:48
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

Isaiah 58:6-7
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cord of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Matthew 25:31-40
          When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
          Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
          Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
          The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

We CAN do this

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Tried To Go Jogging

Yesterday towards the end of the work day I decided I wanted to exercise, but didn't want to spend the whole hour at Jazzercise.  I figured since I can hang with a Jazzercise class for an entire hour just fine, maybe my running abilities would have magically improved as well.  So...I decided to go for a jog.

It was a dumb idea.

It was murder.

I still stink at running.

I still don't like running.

I don't know what possessed me.

I'll stick to my Jazzercise classes from now on...

Monday, November 26, 2012

How's Foster Stuff Going? ...It's Not

Some of y'all have asked me lately how our foster care paperwork is going and I have responded by beating around the bush and saying things like "oh pretty good" and "chipping away at it" and "slowly but surely."  


The correct response to "how is your foster stuff coming?" should be "...It's not."

Truth is, we haven't tackled a single item on our verification checklist since the very beginning of this month.  Truth is, it ended up on a back burner as we tried to maintain sanity and actually see each other some this month.  Truth is, it's hard to fill out foster parent paperwork from church camp during a retreat or a Dallas conference room during a seminar.

But you know what?  The earliest we would be open for a placement of a child or children with us would be in April after tax season.  We've got plenty of time.

And you know what else?  This month has not been a waste.  This process has indeed moved forward...because seven reference packets were sent out by Bair this month and reached seven important recipients that we named on our initial application.  I've already heard back from one of them who said he already took the time to fill out the rather in-depth questionnaire asking why we will or will not make good foster parents.  I've heard from others that they have received theirs and will get on it.  Even as we have unexpectedly stalled, there are other important players that are keeping this thing rolling for us, and we are so grateful.

Trent and I are going to have a short family meeting tonight to regroup, look at the list, bust out the red folder and update our organization station in the kitchen.   December is going to be a much calmer month (yes, even with Christmas in there) and so will January.  We've got plenty of time.  We've got two calm months ahead of us.

Rock and roll.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Zoe - The Kingdom Of God In A Preschooler

I have had a sweet little girl on my mind for the last few days.  Her name is Zoe and she is the daughter of Josh and Danielle, founders of Galveston Urban Ministries. We took our church youth group there for the first time for our mission trip last summer and Trent took them again this past spring break. Trent took the Mission Waco youth group on a mini mission trip down to Galveston last weekend and told me all about it when he came back.   At one point he mentioned that Zoe tagged along with them for some parts of it.  "She is so cute.  Oh my goodness she is so cute."  That put cute Zoe on my mind.  Then we actually got to see Zoe, her little brother Zane, and Josh and Danielle at the Mission Waco Thanksgiving lunch for the homeless where we volunteered yesterday, since they were back home for the holiday.  So that made me think about sweet Zoe even more. 

I thought about Zoe's life, the experiences she will have and the things she will learn as she grows up as the child of two parents in full time urban ministry.  

Zoe will understand the meaning of hard work, and lots of work, because she has watched her dad work with his own hands alongside others to restore the hurricane damaged buildings that GUM purchased to be their program facilities.

Zoe will learn that getting off at a certain time and having regular days off aren't on the top of the list in a Kingdom of God centered life, because she has seen her dad prioritize any little chunks of time he can with his family even as he goes 27 days straight without a true day off...and still have God given energy to continue.  She will see that committing to furthering the Kingdom is not a day job, it is your whole lifestyle, your whole being.

Zoe will not be wary of the rough side of town, because she and her family purposefully live in the rough side of town.

Zoe will not be enamored with worldly possessions because her family lives on a Kingdom of God budget.  She will remember the time their lawnmower got stolen as the time their lawnmower got "donated to the neighborhood", because her dad shrugged his shoulders and moved on.

Zoe will not see color.  She will not see race.  She will not see class.  She will simply see other children, other adults, neighbors, playmates, children of God who are fearfully and wonderfully made, some of whom are doing just fine and some of whom need a helping hand and an assurance that God loves them.


I am pretty confident of these things because almost thirty years ago Zoe's dad, Josh, was being brought up as a small child just like he and Danielle are now bringing up Zoe.  Josh's parents, Jimmy and Janet, purposefully moved into a rough part of town, planted a new ministry and devoted their life to furthering the Kingdom of God in Waco, Tx.   

Jimmy and Janet planted and grew Mission Waco.  

Josh and Danielle planted and are growing Galveston Urban Ministries.  

I wonder where sweet Zoe will be planted when she is grown.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Thankful

I am thankful for our funny old house, even with all its different siding, fruity wallpaper, unfinished dining room and yards that don't want to grow grass.

I am thankful for my sweet little kitty cat who is soft and cute and will always be my cat baby.

I am thankful or our crazylicious hound dog and the many, many laughs we have had since we brought her home from across the street.

I am thankful for my job and the good people I work with.

I am thankful for Trent's jobs and the good people he works with.

I am thankful for our youth group kids, for the opportunity to live a bit of life with them and watch them learn and grow.

I am thankful for whatever future foster, adopted or biological kids God sees fit to set in our family, even if they are still just a twinkle in their Heavenly Father's eye right now.

I am thankful for my two families.

I am thankful for my loving, hardworking, Kingdom of God minded husband, who loves me, encourages me, challenges me, and tells me I'm beautiful every chance he can get.

I am thankful for our busy, full, abundant life, where every day offers an experience, a ministry, a lesson or a way to grow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Have Two Families

A while back I was talking to someone who doesn't have the best relationship with their mother-in-law and who was looking for empathy.  I'm afraid I didn't have much to offer because I responded with "Nah, my mother-in-law and I are buds."

A few days ago I was telling someone that I had a few Christmas gift ideas for people but still needed to decide what to get for "my moms".  I thought about correcting myself to " mom and mother-in-law" but left it alone.

I recently asked Trent if he had "any ideas for what to get Daddy."

Yesterday I thought to myself "I really want the next few weeks to hurry up so I can see my families for Christmas."

Then it dawned on me...

I have two families. 

Technically they are the family I was born into...

Sauer Christmas 2010

...and the family I married into.

Campering Trip July 2012

But really, nowadays, I just consider myself to have two families.  Forget the technicalities.  

What a blessing.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flashback to College - Piñata Therapy

Once upon a time, I went to college.  And it was kind of scary at first.  I was 17, shy, from a little town, and had never had my heart broken.  I still claim that I have never had my heart broken, since I met my handsome prince at age 18, but I came pretty close in between.  Seven and a half years later, the hurt is long gone and if I had had the confidence then that I do now I would have said "You're a jerk, bye", but at the huuuuuurt.  And not just me!  He hurt me and Rach pretty much simultaneously (see? jerk) and then proceeded to hurt Sarah (college friend, not my sister).   We all survived, ditched him, ditched the rifts he had put between us girls, and Rach, Sarah and I ended up living together junior year, along with Steph, who was a listening ear, confidante and adviser to each of us in different ways during the stupid mess. (Also provider of walls to paint while spilling the whole story).

To protect the innocent not-so-innocent, we'll call the almost breaker of my heart..."George".

Sometime during that year we ended up with a piñata in our apartment.  I don't know who bought it, if it just showed up (piñatas randomly showed up on multiple occasions there...) or if it was bought for this specific purpose.  But we put it to good use.  Actually we put it to terrible use if you look at this episode from the "love your enemies and pray for those who almost break your heart" standpoint.  Fail.  But let's just not look at it from that standpoint.  We didn't back then.  We had a lovely evening of piñata therapy.

We named the piñata...George. 

Sarah, Me, Rach and "George"...what was left of him...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Good And Bad Locations For Crying

Good locations for crying:

The shower - tears wash right down the drain and showers are usually followed by either a) putting on make up and freshening up so it doesn't look like you were crying or b) going to bed where it doesn't matter what you look like.

Husband's arms - no explanation needed

Recently discovered bad location for crying:  In the thick of Dallas traffic.

I don't recommend it.  It complicates an already complicated endeavor.  So I stifled it, since nothing was particularly wrong.

I was just feeling like a little country girl speck trying to weasel my way through the giant maze of giant Dallas.

I was shaken from a strange encounter with a fella minutes before that began with "Are you married?"

I was tired and my brain was freshly turned to mush from trying to absorb three days of interstate tax knowledge.

I was mad at myself for forgetting to call my dad on his birthday yesterday.

I was so wanting to get home after being gone for most of the week but...

I was sad that Trent was leaving home again for a few days about the time I was starting towards it.

I was wishing some time would hurry by so this crazy bonkers month can be over and we can breathe a little.

Recently discovered good location for crying:  The open roads through Waxahachie...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goin' Through The Big D And Do Mean Dallas

Lunch break blog post!

I'm headed to Dallas for a few days for a continuing professional education seminar on interstate taxation.  That may sound like death to you but I am actually rather excited about the knowledge I am soon to glean. Don't judge.  I'm also excited because I get to go with a girl coworker this year.  All my previous Dallas CPE trips happened to have been with boy coworkers.  This time, Kristin and I are going to hit up the Galleria, the Cheesecake Factory...the Galleria again...   Plus I get to see Steph one of the evenings, as is our tradition when I make my annual trek up to her big city.  You remember Steph.   College roomie, my MOH, her life task is to remind me to eat and breathe, and we have conversations like this:

Steph: I'm more worried about the logistics of moving than selling it right now.
Me: Want me to come help?  I will be husbandless for the next three weekends...I can stand there and make you pack like I did for Rach in 2008.
Steph: Naw. Packing is my superpower, remember?
Me: I thought showering was...
Steph: That too.
Me: You have TWO?  Not fair.
Steph: I'm sorry?
Me: I guess if you are the one who assigns them then you can give yourself two.
Steph: I thought you had multiple too.
Me: Sleeping...that's all that I am aware of.
Steph: And taxes.
Me: That has been my superpower this whole time??  Gee, thanks for just now telling me.  I coulda made partner by now.
Steph: I didn't want you abusing it.
Me: Because I'm so into trampling people to get to the top.
Steph: That's only because I didn't tell you all of your superpowers. You're welcome.

We are awesome.  Nuff said.

So I'll be on a blogging hiatus for a few days while I fill my brain with info on nexus, unitary business groups and apportionment factors...  Bye bye.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Little Engine That Could - A Gift From My Mom

When my mom attends baby showers, she only ever gives two things: diapers and books.  That is her thing.  Well, she extended that habit to us and sent us a sweet package a few weeks ago. 

At first I smiled and teared up a little.  My mom, who treasures books and read so, so, so many to us as children, had given us the beginning of our kids' library.   It is special.  It is surreal.  And then I thought about this particular little book a bit more.  And I began to cry.   I don't know if Mom picked this one out for this reason, but how appropriate is this title and this story for our situation?

For those of you who don't know the story (which is a tragedy), a train full of toys and good food is trying to make it over a mountain so that the toys can be delivered to children on the other side, but the train breaks down. Several engines pass by and the toys ask them to help them over the mountain, but these engines come up with all kinds of excuses and don't help them. Too important, too busy, too tired, too unsure whether they could even do it.  A little blue engine comes along and they ask her to help them get over the mountain.  It's a lot to ask since she is small and it's a big mountain.  But the little engine gives it a try and perseveres..."I think I can. I think I can."  And you know what?  She is successful.

We can put ourselves in the tracks of the little blue engine.    I think I can tackle this paperwork.  I think I can handle the hard issues that we'll encounter.  I think I can be a good parent.  I think I can deal with the unknowns. I think I can...I think I can...

Our future foster children or forever children can put themselves in her tracks as well.  I think I can persevere through this rocky time.  I think I can trust this foster family.  I think I can...I think I can...

I so hope Trent and I can emerge on the other side of our first placement or two and be able to say "We thought we could.  We thought we could."  It probably won't be easy.  It may be a hard struggle to get up the mountain.   But we want to be the Little Couple That Could.

I also hope so much that whatever children come into our home can emerge and think "I thought I could. I thought I could."  I hope we are able to give them the help and security they need, for whatever time frame that may be, to help them climb the scary mountain looming in front of them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Red Folder

We received all our foster care verification paperwork in a regular red folder from the Bair Foundation.  All the papers were oh so conveniently hole punched already so I quickly transferred them to a three ring binder leftover from my CPA study days.  So everything is nicely stored in there now, but that red folder has stuck around.

This folder has become the spot for the current paperwork items we are working on.   Each week we pull out the one, two, or three (if we are feeling adventurous) items that we have decided to tackle that week and put those pages in the red folder.  If additional support is needed, it goes in the red folder too once it is gathered, printed or copied.  Examples for this week: driver's licenses, auto insurance, marriage license, our past five years of tax returns, etc.  This stuff hangs out in here until we have completed those few items and they are ready to be dropped off at the Bair office.

We have only made one trip to the Bair office so far to drop anything off. We made a lunch date out of it and ate lunch near the Bair office, then went to turn in our Criminal Record Check form and initial application to Betty, the sweet grandma secretary lady there who knows more about all this than some social workers do.  This next one will be a doozy trip though and we'll be able to check several items off our list that took a bit of digging and printing and a few trips to Kwiker Sticker and O'Reilly's to get our ole truck to actually pass inspection...

So, it's just a red folder.  But it is an important red folder.  If you see it at our house with papers in it or see one of us toting it around, that means things are movin' right along.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Few Things Our Youth Have Taught Us About Prayer

Trent and I love being in youth ministry.  We love mentoring, having fun with and attempting to teach these kids some things about God, life, the world...  But we absolutely love it when our youth end up teaching us.

Our group has taught us a few things about prayer.  Now, there is not one "correct" way to pray and how people go about it often varies and depends on what brings them closer to God.  But we have ended up settling into some habits that are pretty universal in Christianity, like closing our eyes and bowing our heads, beginning with "Dear God" or "Dear Lord" and ending with "Amen".    Well, our kids have thrown these habits out the window.

One of our 6th graders asked the question before a prayer one time "Why do we bow our heads and look at the floor when God isn't down there, he's up above us in heaven?"  He also asked "And why do we close our eyes?  Then we can't see anything and might want to fall asleep.  I like to pray looking up with my eyes open because God hangs out up there."   Rather than getting into a discussion about bowing in reverence to the Almighty God and closing our eyes in order to remain focused on Him...we were impressed that he had thought this through so well and we just rolled with it.   Now, most of our youth don't actually bow their heads.  Some still close their eyes, but a lot of them turn their face upward toward their God.

One of our high school girls once shared how she doesn't like to say "Dear Lord" or "Dear God".   She said it seems really fancy and not like real conversation.  Again, we nixed the tradition of reverence that  I'm sure this stems from and now our prayers at the end of each youth group night, led by a different youth each time, often begin with phrases like "Hey man, what's kickin' in heaven?", "Hi God, how's it going?", "Hola, it's me again."

I don't know which of our kids actually started this last one but there was pretty widespread agreement once the question was voiced: "Saying 'Amen' always feels like saying goodbye or putting an end to your prayer.  But I don't like saying Amen at the end because shouldn't we be always talking to God?"   We explained that Amen doesn't really mean goodbye, it means "so be it", etc, etc but once again...we rolled with it.  Now the same prayers that begin with "Hey dude" usually end with phrases like "alrighty, well, I'll catch ya later" and "later man".

Do you notice a theme here?  Our youth have turned the spiritual discipline of prayer, which can sometimes feel forced, stuffy and routine, into something that is real and comfortable to them.  When they pray to their Lord it's more like they are chatting with a BFF, face to face, no stuffy language that some ancient person said they should say.  They've made it their own.  And I think that is SO cool.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sometimes Having A Blog Is Weird

I really love having a blog.  It is a great way for loved ones to keep up with our life.  I so enjoy the planning, brainstorming and actual writing.  There are times when I'm sitting with the laptop and Trent asks me why I'm giggling to myself and I throw my hands onto my hips and squeal "I'm being funny!" which means I've come up with what I at least think is an entertaining paragraph or post.

But there are some times when having a blog is weird...

When I pass by one of my bosses at my professional office and he says "I enjoy reading your blog", then I realize the most recent post he could have seen was this one which showed me dressed up as a punk teenager headed to a themed birthday party with blue hair and fake tattoos.

When I write a post about my red high heels and then every time I actually wear my red high heels everybody comments on them as if they are famous.  They're just shoes.  They are fabulous shoes.  But they are just shoes.

When I post my new year's resolution at the beginning of the year and then sadly realize months later that I'm not going to have much success to post about at the close of the year.

When I post witty instructions about the proper attire for a youth lock-in and then later wonder if it was appropriate to talk about sports bras on my blog.

When I find myself feeling the need to take pictures of totally random things as I live life that I otherwise would never take a picture of.  But there's a chance it could end up in a blog post or even a plan already hatched for it to end up in a blog post.  Sometimes Trent says I get too wrapped up with taking pictures in order to preserve memories that I don't actually make the memories.  Hmm. 

When I look at my page view stats and see that a post about Pinterest got 30 views and a post about my favorite scripture got...6.   Priorities I guess...

When I post some of the biggest news of our life thus far and then I stop and truly realize the huge number of people that suddenly are getting an inside look into one of the most exciting and most frightening times in our life.

Oh well.  I'm not going anywhere.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Biker Birthday Present For Trent

Trent recently turned 27.  Omg, remind me when exactly it was that we grew up?   Anyway, I hatched a fun idea for what I wanted to do for his birthday present.   Since we are selling the motorcycle, I thought Trent would like to have some really good photos of it before we truly launch into this new stage of foster parenthood, during which we will exclusively drive actual cars.  

Well, I couldn't really take any good pictures of the bike in its current spot in our crowded driveway...

...and I certainly can't move that beast or ride it anywhere.   So I enlisted the sneaky help of our friend Caleb, who also rides.   This is Caleb:  

Don't worry, he doesn't ride like that in real life, only at the track.  

Anyway...Caleb came over a couple days before Trent's birthday while Trent was still at Mission Waco and rode the bike to a piece of road/driveway/alley behind our church building that has some tall fence that I figured would be a cool backdrop.  

I snapped a bunch of pictures and he helped take some too.  I don't really know how to best photograph a motorcycle but I was pleased with what we came up with.  After a few minutes of picture taking, he put the bike back where it belongs in our crowded driveway and headed home.   Meanwhile, Trent had no clue it even moved.

I edited a few of the pictures that night and here are the winning photos:

I had these printed and got some frames for them.  Trent really liked them!  He's not sure yet where he wants to hang them, but he suggested the den so it can feel like a "man cave".   Fine with me!

This photo was a runner-up, but I didn't end up using it because you can't see all of the bike.  Still fun though.

And now for a shameless sales plug:  if, after reading this post, you or someone you know might be interested in purchasing the super fine lookin' motorcycle pictured above, please let me know.  Specs: 2007 Honda VTX 1300C, 14,000 miles, 12K of which have been put on by Trent himself, very well taken care of, custom drilled out pipes, detachable windshield.   You know you want it...