Monday, September 29, 2014

The one with Jeremiah & the t-shirt

So we're hoping to travel in the next few months to get our sweet boys.  We have no official update yet, but please continue praying!

Today's verses from YouVersion--an amazing website/app-- are Jeremiah 33:1-3 NLT

"While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: 'This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.'"

Wow, this one nailed me in the heart like a 2x4 to the face!  A few thoughts: 1) Jeremiah was in jail. JAIL. EEK. 2) He was still seeking the Lord despite his earthly circumstances. 3) He could hear the Lord's voice 4) God promises if we ask, He will answer.

As we wait on the Lord, we find ourselves in the position to live this scripture to its fullest.  We know God has a magnificent plan our lives & our boy's lives; & we know He loves them more than we ever could.  What our souls know & our minds wrestle with are often pinned against each other in stark contrast & sometimes it's tough to see the story God is writing.

So we have "mustard seed" days:  days where we are waiting & we cannot see the plan unfolding.  Days when we know what He's called us to & we cling to His promises because it's all we have.  Days when there is nothing left to do except wait on Him--& the Chinese government--& pray.

Today is a "mustard seed" day.  Honestly, I fear we may be in for a "mustard seed" week.  But that's ok.  We know & trust the journey as God has revealed to us so far, & we are clinging to our mustard seed as we ask Him to show us the "remarkable secrets we do not know about things to come."

As you know from previous stories, God has abundantly blessed us in this journey of adoption.  In addition to the details in this post, we've had friends provide the funds for Chosen Charlotte  advertising materials & the prayer support we've had is incredibly amazing!

We are so blessed.

There are many families that use creative methods for fundraising for their adoption.  After much prayer & consideration, Jonathan & I decided to sell t-shirts to raise money to support our upcoming travel expenses.

We've actually worked on it for several months now, & the we think the result is pretty AMAZING:

Jonathan & I have drawn great strength & encouragement from Matthew 17:20--the "mustard seed" scripture.  This is the inspiration of the t-shirt. 

The Chinese characters represent "faith in God" & the word "faith" & the scripture reference is written by our 7 year old son, Jayson.  

Our dear friend, Ryan Morris, is massively talented & has worked relentlessly to help create the final product. We are very grateful to him & his wife Alexis for how they have helped us & loved on us!

The colors for the design of the shirt were chosen because of what they symbolize in Chinese tradition: the color red represents good luck, celebration, happiness, joy, vitality, & long life.  The color black is the traditional color for young boys (who will continue the family/ ancestor lineages); also represents stability, knowledge, trust, adaptability, will, & emotional protection.  The color orange indicates change, adaptability, spontaneity, & strengthens concentration.

This truly has been an act of love & we are so excited for each of you to have the opportunity to purchase one!  We will profit $9.50 from each shirt sold, & there are kid's, women's slimfit, long-sleeved, & hoodie sizes available in addition to the standard unisex t-shirt!

If you're planning on joining us for our airport homecoming---when we arrive back in the US from China with our boys (there is not a specific date yet & ALL are welcome)--we'd LOVE for you to purchase one so we can see the sea of red, Faith in God when we return home!!


Thank you all for your love & support, we will keep you posted~

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The one with emails, mandatory unemployment, & goats in Guatemala


Today we'll start with emails.  Ahh, emails.  In the process of adoption, every email that comes through could be "the one we've been waiting for."  You know, the one that provides an update on our child or our paperwork.  The one saying the government, immigration, or some other important entity has approved our most recent request.  The one confirming that we've been legally matched to our son.

Those emails look something like these:

And sometimes, emails that come do so to inform us of the next payment due in the process.  For numerous reasons, international adoption can be very expensive--this is different than adopting from the US foster care system which typically requires very little expense on the adopting family's part-- & This blog post from Show Hope does a great job of explaining the expenses involved.  

So sometimes when the chime on my phone signals a new email it's wonderful news, & sometimes it's a new opportunity for us to put our money where our faith is & trust God with His plan!

[By the way, the agency we're working with for our China adoption has been FANTASTIC when it comes to giving us the cost estimate up-front & I'd be glad to discuss this part of it with anyone that is earnestly interested in learning!]

If you've read previous posts, you know my amazing hubby Jonathan--whom I like to brag about publicly--recently graduated & was given a mandatory 8 weeks off between graduation & starting his new job.  This was precious time for us as a family & a couple, but it meant we had no income for that 8 week period.  

So we prayed.  And we planned.  And we saved.  And we pinched pennies to ensure we could finance our everyday life while in the midst of an international adoption. 

You see, up to this point, we have been blessed to have paid for all our adoption costs out of pocket, but we knew this hiatus & the timing of our paperwork could be tricky.  

But as with every story that God writes, He had a plan to show up & show off during this time, despite our best planning efforts!

We knew what the costs were going to be that were associated with sending our paperwork to China, & we knew we were looking at a substantial amount in fees as our paperwork moved.  Honestly, the best plan we could come up with was to wait until Jonathan got his first paycheck--which would include a sign-on bonus--to use that money to move forward.  This would have resulted in an approximate 8 week delay in our paperwork, but we saw no other choice at the time.  

So God showed up & showed us His plan. 

I have to tell you that we have this INCREDIBLE community of adoptive families in our lives.  They are nothing short of AMAZING & it is such a blessing to do life with people that get it.  People that get the joys & sorrows of stepping into this world & recklessly pursuing the Father's heart in this way.  They are truly a blessing from God!  If you're a foster or adoptive family & you don't have a community of support, FIND one!  Right now, go!  Or call me if you get stumped & we'll find you one!  It's that important.

Back to the story: One summer afternoon we spent some time with one of the families & as we were leaving, they handed us an envelope.  We didn't open it until we got home, but the amount of the check they gave us to support our adoption nearly knocked me off my feet.  $2,000.

Of course we tried to give it back, & they wouldn't take it.  

The following week we were advised by our agency that we needed to pay $1,950 to send our paperwork to China.  With no income.  But we had a $2,000 check from friends that love like the Lord does.  So we paid the bill & our paperwork inched forward.  

Chills up & down my spine FOR REAL!  Our friends had no idea, we had no idea [we knew that payment was coming but didn't know when & we hadn't discussed it with anyone].  It was simply what they felt led to give--only God can do that y'all!

Ready for the "goats in Guatemala part?"  

So I have this friend whom I've only met once in person. She too is an adoptive mama & has had her eyes opened to the plight of women living in poverty around the world & how that directly contributes to the global orphan crisis.  She has since partnered with an amazing company that allows women to make jewelry, accessories, & home decor to be sold in the US.  These are women living in areas of the world where they would otherwise be unemployable.  Amazing stuff, truly!

So she emailed me & asked me if I wanted to do a Facebook fundraiser for our adoption.  We would partner together, she would virtually "host" a show, & she would donate her entire commission to our adoption.  Raising awareness & support for women around the world while fundraising AND our supporters would walk away with incredible gifts that would tell the story again &!!

And one of the coolest parts of it all is that this particular company--in addition to having a superb business model--picks a charitable organization each month & provides donations to said charity as incentive for the entrepreneurs to sell more items.  So during the month of August, for every $600 sold during a show, the company agreed to donate a goat to a family in Guatemala.  Each goat provides sustainability & income for these families.  Whew, I'm getting chills just writing about it almost 6 weeks later!  YAY!

It was the first effort by my friend to partner with an adoptive family & raise money.

Y'all ready for this: our little FB party sold just over $1,200 in goods, so we earned 3 GOATS for GUATEMALA!!  EEK!!  3 GOATS--1 for each of our sons!!

All together, the company donated 98 goats to families in Guatemala, Haiti, & Costa Rica because the Guatemala program didn't need all 98!!  

And the amazingness continues:  our partnership resulted in $450 commission which my friend graciously gave to us to support our adoption adventure. 

Guess how much the next week's email told us we needed to pay?  Remember we are still "unemployed" & income-less.  

$360 translation fee.  EEK!! 

And God shows off yet again!!  Seriously.....I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!

Y'all for real: God will show up.  He always does.  He keeps His promises that when He asks you to do something, He will faithfully walk the journey with you.  It doesn't always look like what I want it to in my life, & Lord knows His timing & mine are not always in sync, but He is always there, waiting & wanting to show how much He cares about you!

This week our pastor said, "We all want a miracle, we just don't want to put ourselves in a position to need one."  

I challenge you to put yourself in the position to need one.  Most likely it will be hard & it will get messy--hey, He might even turn your world completely upside down--but it is worth it y'all!  Worth the heartache, worth the tears, worth the struggles to get to see His hand at work in your own life. 

It's worth it. 


To check out the company I referenced above, you can find JJ Roberson on FB at JJ Roberson Trades of Hope S. Florida or online here.  It's a great way to educate yourself & support our sisters around the world!

Plus their stuff is BEAUTIFUL!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The one with integrity, envy, & my dirty feet

Let's start with integrity, which is not in & of itself a bad thing.

In May, I graduated from my dream graduate program from my dream school & in June, I received my dream certification:

& I officially became DeAnna H. Patterson, MSN, BSN, RN, CPNP!!

Then God said "no."  

No for real: after 3 years, thousands of dollars, & what felt like millions of miles later....God said "No DeAnna, the answer is no."

And He said "no" in a very clear manner. 

Like most new grads, following graduation, I prepped my CV, ironed my interview clothes, dusted off my "I-can-do-anything" pointy-toed black pumps & started applying for jobs. 

I sent out CVs & conducted follow-up phone calls as I prayed for God to make it clear what He has planned for this chapter of my life.  

As it turns out, He had been working in my heart for over a year, prepping me for His "no."  

Being in the process of adopting is much like interviewing for a job when you're 7 months pregnant--only there's no "baby bump" to give your secret away.  People don't necessarily wait for you to cross the parking lot or hold the door open as you waddle through; they also don't know that you're going to need the equivalent of a maternity leave sometime in the next few months.  

But what isn't different is the anticipation of your family growing & the personal knowledge that your life & family is about to be forever changed. 

When I began interviewing, JP & I prayed for clarity & wisdom regarding how & if I should present our family circumstances to my interviewers.  For us it was a no-brainer.  

I will always live & die by my faith, my love for my husband/children/family & friends, & my integrity.  And sometimes, maybe there's just too much integrity for my own good.  I'm a hard worker.  I am smart (in regards to a few things).  I love my profession.  I want to be a good employee.  I give 100% to everything I do.  I am a team player.  I value diversity in all aspects of life.  I want to learn from others.  So why wouldn't someone want to hire me? 

The truth that God has been pressing into my soul over the past 2 years is that while yes, I do believe I can be a heck of a PNP, now is not the time for me to do that. 

The Bible teaches us that there is a time for everything under Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3) & that God uses all things for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).  He loves each of us & has a plan for each of our futures as we run after Him (Jeremiah 29: 11-14).  

But what He doesn't promise is that this journey called life will look like what we think it does!

Enter "envy."

I know many women who dream of being a stay-at-home Mama [SAHM] & I respectfully share that I am not one of these women.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with this dream, it just hasn't been mine (& quite frankly it still isn't).  I want to be working.  I want to be using what God has given me in the means of my brains, my education, & my passion to leave my community & my part of the world a little better than I found it.  I want to make money to contribute to our family's finances.  I want to be a PNP for Pete's sake!  

But the reality is that I do not want any of these things more than I want to chase after the Lord & the plan He has for my life.  I do not want any of these things more than I want to love my husband to the best of my ability or more than I want to be the Mama my feisty little boys need me to be.  These dreams trump any professional dream I could have, & what I hear the Lord speaking to my heart is not "no," but instead, "not right now."  

Now is the time I get to focus on my family, our family, & the magnificent story God is writing in our lives!  I don't have to do this, but I get to!
But that doesn't mean I don't struggle.  I still fight the envy my flesh feels.  My heart & soul know that I am doing everything I can to run after God, but my flesh wants the things of this world.  This is the ultimate battle.  

As my girlfriends get jobs & I see Mamas "doing it all,"--& doing it well I might add--I fight the envy that says "but I want that! I want what she has!"  (picture me whining...ha.)  And this, my friends, is a battle worth fighting.  

And now for my dirty feet. 

In the past 24 hours, I have seen God's hand at work; I have seen why He's said "no" for now & how He's revealing more of Himself to me:

Yesterday a dear friend picked me up from the mechanic shop & chauffeured me around town as we canvassed our town telling folks about Chosen Charlotte & why we're supporting the event.  We didn't ask for money, we just asked for the opportunity to share why the event is happening & why we're a part of it.  We spent 6 hours in our quaint little town & had endless conversations with people about adoption.  We met adoptive adults, people who knew someone who had adopted, & handed out over 200 informative flyers.  It was an exhaustingly wonderful day! 

Later that night, I was sharing with JP the stories of the day when I realized just how tired I was & how dirty I felt.  Thanks to my wonderful hubby, I proceeded to head upstairs to soak my tired legs in a hot bath.  It was then that I noticed just how filthy my feet were.  The weather yesterday was overcast & mild, but in true NC fashion, it was extremely humid.  I wore flip flops & a maxi skirt for our trek around town, & I honestly didn't realize how dirty my feet had gotten.  They were so filthy the bathwater immediately turned a light gray when I stepped in.  Yuck.

As I proceeded to scrub my feet, I couldn't help but think about what the Bible says about dirty feet. I was completely humbled as I recalled the Scripture that reads:

"How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns!"  (Isaiah 52:7 NLT)

We all know the prophets weren't tromping around Jerusalem in their sneakers; neither was Christ or His disciples.  History tells us they wore sandals--if anything at all.  Just before His betrayal, Jesus demonstrates humility, service, & love when He washes the feet of His own disciples (John 13).  That can't have been a glamorous event.  

I always thought this particular Scripture, Isaiah 52:7, to be in reference to missionaries.  You know the ones: the people that hear "the call," sell all their American possessions, kiss their families goodbye, & take off to the African Bush to tell unreached souls about Christ's love.  That's who the Scriptures are referring to right?

Probably so, but maybe there's a modern-day, pertinent lesson to learn here. 

So there I sat, scrubbing the dirty of the day off my tired feet.  And God took that moment to speak to the depths of my soul & remind me that "the feet that bring the good news that God reigns are beautiful."  Woa.  I sure didn't feel pretty, but as I recalled conversations of the day, I smiled at the opportunities we were given to dirty our feet as we obediently stepped out in to our community to share with them a modern-day cause that is near & dear to our Heavenly Father's heart.  

Integrity, envy, & dirty feet.  I am not perfect but Heaven knows I am trying. And I will continue to clumsily run towards Him as I store treasures in Heaven because that's where my heart ultimately longs to be.  My prayer for you is that you would see His hand in your journey & that you will have many opportunities to get your feet dirty!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The one with aaalllll of August!

So it's been over a month since I've written anything--well that's not entirely true because I've started posts I can't seem to find the words to finish.  Maybe I've lost my knack for writing. Maybe.

I digress.

August 2014, what a month!  This month started with a (slightly) therapeutic shopping trip where I purchased our boys matching tees.  

#chinamama #waitingmama #boymomtimesthree

Then we celebrated Jayson's last week at Primrose with the annual summer musical. Our little guy looked so grown & so handsome!

Next came my birthday. My 31st to be exact.  And I felt the need for a new 'do so bangs it is.  And I'm still rockin' them!

I cannot believe I don't have a picture, but on my birthday, our UH-MAZING community group from church coordinated many of our local friends/family like friends for a birthday & dual graduation cookout for JP & me!  It was a complete surprise & neither of us knew they were doing it.  It was AWESOME!

Next, JP & I dropped our kiddo with Gamme & Papa for the week while we took off to California. We headed west to celebrate the wedding of one of his college buddies, & during the planning phase (over a year ago), we had NO idea we'd be in the midst of a dual international adoption.  So like all good parents do, we planned to drop the kiddo & take a few extra days to ourselves rompin' up the west coast.  And we did.

We started off in Long Beach where we stayed on the Queen Mary (a very old, Titanic-esc boat)

We busted out 5 miles together the morning after. So fun!

We rented a convertible (for $1/day thanks to my frugal husband) & cruised up to the wedding in Woodland Village, CA.

It was a beautiful celebration & we had a wonderful time!

After the wedding we hopped in the car & cruised up the Pacific Coast Highway--if you get the chance to do it, do!  It was beautiful!  We saw Malibu, quaint fishing villages, sunbathing elephant seals, & a beautiful sunset.

The hardest part of this leg was standing by the ocean knowing our boys are just on the other side.  So close, but so far away.

Then we set off to explore the San Francisco area for 2 days.  We saw the Redwood Forest, Coit Tower, Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, & Fisherman's Wharf.  We rode trolleys!  We ate amazing food & hiked the hills of San Fran till our feet hurt!

Oh August, there's more.

2 weeks into the month boy my boys took off on their latest adventures: JP started his first job as an attending & Jayson started the 1st grade!

Because all things superhero helped our superhero not be afraid

gosh my men are handsome & ready to take on the world

Took the first day of 1st grade like a champ!

So we celebrated with an age-old Fritz Family tradition (w/a twist):
ice cream cone @McDonald's after the first day of school

And our little guy now loves reading because--according to Mrs. Beers--he "reads like a grown-up

Houie, however, has been slightly depressed & waits for them to come home everyday, poor baby

And you think that would be enough to keep us busy for a month, but there is more:

7 years old. By the end of the month, our J turned an amazing 7 years old & while birthdays are FABULOUSLY fun, they bring hard stuff too.  Like chats about his bio family, & the very natural questions he has about why he's not celebrating with them.  Tough stuff.  But that's a post for another day.

There is plenty of oh-so-amazingly fun stuff too: like his very first friend-oriented birthday party. In a pool, Complete with ice cream superhero cake, cupcakes, watermelon, cheese puffs, & a chaotic but wonderful shower of gifts!.  There were wannabe pancake-crepe things for breakfast--made better with Nutella--& mac & cheese from Bojangles for lunch & Cracker Barrel for dinner.  All his favorite things.

As for China: our paperwork was officially logged in to China's system on 7/30/14 which means we are now waiting for China to send us the all important LOA.  This will trigger the final paperwork chase prior to traveling.  Our hopes remain to travel between Thanksgiving & Christmas. We are also continuing to wait for the file of the 5 year old boy that started this whole thing to begin with :)  Rumor has it that we should be hearing something official soon, so we appreciate each & every one of your prayers!

And that is where we bring August 2014 to a close.  Life is great, we are wildly blessed, & my boys are off to amazing new adventures where they will grow, be challenged, & make a difference in their worlds.

And I am off to nest as we wait for our newest boys to arrive :-)