Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013

One year ago, a few days before Christmas, I was mustering up the strength to Skype home to my mom and Logan, and tell them we weren't coming home for Christmas.  We were stuck in Peru bringing home our 5 newest additions and I was weary and heartbroken.  I couldn't explain the stress the weeks had brought or articulate the strange tug and pull it had done on my faith.  Weary is the best word to explain it.  And I so badly needed Logan and my mom not to break down.  
They didn't, I did.  And we did Christmas, Scott and I, the 5 Peruvians and Laney while Scott and our families waited on Christmas til we got home.  We ate Kraft macaroni and cheese in a hotel breakfast area, Paneton (a Peruvian sweet bread), and whatever else we could throw together to get by.  
A year later, I can hardly believe we are those same people!  We have lived together for a year Saturday.  We brought them home to a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house and lived as 9 there for a couple months.  We started school, got acclimated at church, moved in February, started sports teams....and that's not even counting that I was working when we got back and Scott has been doing 2 jobs.  Whew!  This year has been crazy!  We have people who think we don't have any fun.  That we welcomed complete chaos into our lives and they don't understand why.  What's funny though, and maybe it's because I am demented now, is that I look back at this year so differently.  I look at my husband as less stressed and a better example of a man to our kids than before.  And I didn't even think he needed improvement! I look at our life as peaceful and fairly organized.  It doesn't sound like complete chaos and as long as I write things down, I am not complete chaos.  I see our Peruvians as well adjusted and a part of our family that seems like it has always been there.  And I see God as the greatest writer of stories because I could have never dreamt this up!
I'm a realist too.  I've seen the areas that Scott and I have had to improve on as parents.  I've seen how dependent I am on God to know how to parent these individual kids.  I've seen a deeper glimpse into the pain that my kids brought with them and have tried to learn how to help them through that.  We've seen that a year isn't a magical marker where all the healing that is needed takes place and we can go forward without it.  
BUT, that's all part of redemption.  Making me new new.  Making Scott and I new.  Making my kids new.  Jesus-newness is the only way this story works.  And one year does mark that we survived.  It marks a Christmas where we were all in the same house, an incredible house for us.  It marks Gerson's birthday today at home!  It marks change and the incredible comfort that time has brought to our family of 9.  Our family of 9 for a few more months anyway! Ha!  We like to keep things interesting.
If you're wondering about the redemption pieces or just struggling with the faith stuff, I encourage you to go back and read some like "Watching Gerson Heal" or "New Life".  Or even the posts from when we were in Peru a year ago.  I think our story will encourage you if nothing else.  And it makes me believe again, things I've forgotten or ignored.  Because only God could write the Sterlings Crazy Story.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Watching Gerson Heal

Up to this point, I've been careful about the information I give regarding Gerson.  At least about some things.  I never wanted to make a spectacle of him.  Or draw attention to pieces that really didn't make up Gerson to us.
But I got permission to share this great story!  Here's some background info first:  When we met Gerson, we learned that he had been suffering with some unidentified physical issues since he was a small kid.  He said he had no pain, but he often walked with struggle, especially late in the day.  When we arrived in Peru, it was actually worse than we thought.  In old blog entries, we talk about Scott carrying him when we were there.  Doctors in Peru had tested for many things and had decided that it was psychological.  When we first saw him, we knew that wasn't the case.  As the day would go on, his muscles would get tighter and tighter.  If he touched his back, you would feel him shaking from the fatigue in his flexed muscles from shoulder to toe.
We saw muscle, nerve, and cerebral palsy specialists of all kinds when we got back in the U.S.  He had a perfectly "normal" MRI of both brain and spine.  We did physical therapy up to 3 times a week.  We were wearing him out with little to no progress and still no valid diagnosis.  I even started to wonder if trauma had been the cause and not something physical.  And really, Gerson had resolved to this being his life.  We were just trying to see if there were avenues to make things easier for the day to day.
I've watched the 15 year old be crushed that he can't play soccer.  Laugh about falling at school.  But cry when he stresses about starting a new semester and having to be so different, once again, and not understanding why.
Last week though, we got sent to the geneticist for the first time.  Honestly, I thought it was just a silly formality and was doing it only because Children Mercy said so.  We had even received the genetics blood work and knew it was normal before we went.  Waste of time, I thought.  But this appointment was different!  The Dr. had read his file extensively before we got there.  Then, she did something no other Doctor had completely done.  She listened.  She pieced together things from his file with things that I said we had observed in the year we've been together.  And she had a diagnosis!  It was surreal.  She walked in, introduced herself, and said "I believe he has dopa responsive dystonia".  Basically, she believed his brain wasn't making enough dopamine to send the proper messages to his muscles and it explained his symptoms.  The onset of this is usually around 6 years old, you have more energy and muscle control in the mornings and struggle late in the day, untreated it causes stunted growth....I could go on and on.  It described Gerson!  And no one had ever mentioned this before.
I left in a whirlwind, not wanting to do the cartwheel that seemed to want to come, for fear that she could be wrong and Gerson would be so disappointed.  But we filled the synthetic dopamine prescription that night and he started the next day.  And I kid you not, there was a difference when he came home after school that day!  After only 1 pill!  When I realized he knew it too and could control his hands and feet differently, I practically tackled him on a bean bag crying!  It was a miracle!  A kid, whose muscles have been essentially frozen for 10 years, is walking flat footed.  His neck and face are so much more relaxed, he almost looks like a different kid.  We watched him try on shoes for Homecoming, standing on one foot, and not holding onto anything.  In the evening!  I wish I could convey how huge this is!  We're a week into medicine and Gerson is talking about what professional sports he might play!  We saw the geneticist again today and even she is floored at the progress.  She had documented that he had clubbed feet and his toes crossed over each other, but no more!
We're still working out dosage and Gerson has to take it a bit slow to teach his muscles how to do things they haven't done before.  But we have truly witnessed a miracle in our house!  God has been so good to Gerson.  He could have written his story differently and that would have been okay.  But He didn't!  We are so grateful!
(Gerson-15 in the blue, Jhonny-17 in the purple)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What's New-The Craziness has Returned!

Wow, June!  Sorry to the three people who read!  I can't believe it's been June since I last wrote.  But I guess it makes sense.  June was summer and summer was bliss! The 2 older boys were in an in-depth language immersion class at Avila all summer.  And me and the 4 littles got to play, do swim lessons, go to library, and just chill while they were gone.  We had a handful of birthdays, got to take the girls to a Taylor Swift concert, and just thoroughly enjoyed each other! People kept asking me if I was ready for school and the structure of life to begin again.  Um....no.  Because with school and structure means immunizations and dentist appointments and soccer, oh lots of soccer.  And a very full planner and living in fear that I'm going to take the wrong kid to the wrong place on the wrong day.
All that to say, a fun season has begun!  And it really is fun!  I have a Varsity soccer player, a youth competitive player, one that wants into gymnastics, and homework coming out of our ears!  I am clearly not smarter than a fourth grader and some days homework is more stressful for me than it is for them!  We have a couple of weeks under our belt, though, and we are finding our groove.  Homework doesn't make me want to yell (most days), soccer schedule is pretty down, and my planner is my best friend!

Summer recap:  The 2 older boys did really well with Avila.  I could hear a big difference in their English and am so grateful for ALL that Avila has done for us!
My four littles loved swim lessons; in fact, Betsi took a second section and the coach was begging her to do a swim team.  She definitely found something she is great at!  In addition to many other things!
Logan enjoyed a summer free of school and went on a mission trip, a vacation, and camp with our youth from church!  It was a good break before a tough semester for her now!

Now, we have a college sophomore, high school senior, high school sophomore, a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader and preschooler!  2 days a week, I have ZERO children at home for 4 1/2 hours! May not sound like a lot but the things you can do without a 3 year old are endless!
This fall, I am looking forward to much: showing the kids the changing leaves in Missouri, getting family pictures done, doing Halloween together (especially my 3 and 10 year old) and even Thanksgiving!  I'm trying not to jump too far ahead into the holidays but I am just so excited!  I can't believe we are approaching Thanksgiving...a year from when we left for Peru.  Wow, time is seriously flying!  I'm also anxious to decorate our new house for Christmas.  But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy the regular things of life.  And I'll try to blog about the real life things.  I so badly want more people to be inspired to adopt or foster older children and I want to be honest about our experience.  Hopefully, those writings are to come! 



Saturday, June 8, 2013

Teaching Your Kids to Follow Jesus

This week, I was in the car with 2 of my kids and for some reason, we were talking about Laney's eyes.  Laney has incredibly dark eyes for her fair skin.  Like darker than some of my Peruvians' eyes.  And the kids are intrigued.  I was explaining to them that the only person in our family I know of with eyes as dark as Laney's was my grandma.  My Grandma Dolores had black eyes that were so pretty and could practically read your soul.  I told them how badly I wished they had known her and how much she would have loved them.  She was one of my favorite people on this planet.  She was strong and opinionated.  She would doubt your decisions until you could show her you had good solid facts and discernment.  Which forced me to be confident in my decisions before I would tell her.  But most importantly, she loved Jesus and knew His Word.  Before she died, letters and cards flooded their living room from people she had influenced...at the bank where she worked, at church, in Sunday School.  Everyone who knew her knew she was a follower of Christ.  And some of the last words on her lips were Scripture.  Encouragement to us grandkids.  Words telling us she wasn't scared.

As I talked, my 2 boys could feel how much I loved her and could see how passionately she loved God.  My oldest blurted out "Man, I want to know God like that......but I can't".  What?  I always wonder if there's a misunderstanding with an accent or something.  Can or Cannot?  The younger one chimed in as if he knew exactly what Jhonny was thinking.  "Can't".  
He went on to explain that He doesn't think He can know God like that.  Aside from the fact that he sees the Bible as boring (which is a common opinion among young people....and maybe old), when he reads it his days following are terrible!  Hmmmmm, that my son is called spiritual warfare.  So there we sat in the car trying to Spanglish hash out spiritual warfare and how there is a fight for their hearts.  A fight to keep them from being productive for God.  A fight to keep them lazy, or arrogant, or prideful, or self doubting.  Whatever it is to keep your feet in cement.
I'm not entirely sure they understood everything we talked about.  Could be the language.  Could be the teenager-ness.  But I will say they didn't move a muscle.  We sat in the car, even once it hit the garage.  And it has kept me thinking for days.
How do you teach your kids to follow hard after God?  I know a lot of the answers.  You model it.  You take them to church where they're presented with good theology and fellowship.  But is there a need for balance?  Is it possible to cram it too far down their throats?  Is my life demonstrating a real follower of Christ?  Or a church-goer American Christian without fruit or passion?  And how will I know before they're 35?  Not sure I know how to answer all these questions.  But today I'm keenly aware of my need to figure it out!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Flip Flops

In the busyness of our every day life, I had an idea that I waited too long to do in it's completion.  See, I wanted to do something special for our 19 year old before she goes to Jamaica on a mission trip (she leaves Sunday).  It didn't exactly happen so I will try to honor her this way instead.

In 2008, Scott and I went to Jamaica for our 2nd time.  By this time we were dating, ending our 27 years of friendship (slight exaggeration) and Logan went too.  One night, walking back from a visit with a local in Harmons, Jamaica, one of our friends noticed Logan was barefoot.  Which is a normal summer thing here...and probably in Harmons too.  But this time, it was a long walk, on dirty gravel down a road and our friend was positive Logan had gone with shoes.  When she asked Logan where they were, she replied that the girl they were visiting needed them more than she did.  She noticed hers were broken so Logan took hers off, then and there, and walked back barefoot without saying a word.

I bought Logan 10 or more pairs of flip flops to take with her to Jamaica this year.   Not only because there is always a need for shoes.  But to remind her of that day when she so clearly heard from God and responded.  It chokes me up this many years later.  What a strong 19 year old chica!  And a strong 14 year old she was then.   She is a confident girl, a great sister and friend, and our family would not be the same without her!
I intended to do something cute and creative with a pair for her to keep but....that's where I got busy.  Several pairs of flip flops are still making it to Jamaica so C'est la vie. :)  

My prayer for Logan is Psalm 17:5 --- My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. That she would hang on to God harder than anything or anyone else.  And that she would hear his voice every day just like she did that day in Harmons.  Then and only then will her feet not slip.  

Our church's team will be leaving for Jamaica Sunday morning and will build houses, work in a greenhouse, and love on a community every day for a week.  Please pray for them as well as Logan!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day-by-Day Faith

I know Christians say and do stupid things sometimes.  I am one and I have been the guilty party.  But there is something supernatural (literally) about what happens when God's people hear from Him and respond, that is just unmatched.  This week we received an anonymous gift that immediately made me cry.  Good tears.  Overwhelmed, humbled tears.  Humbled that God saw our need and made it known to someone else.  Humbled that the someone else responded precisely and just in time.  And disappointed that I had even for a moment doubted or worried.  
I think I thought that the crazy faith journey somehow ended when we got home from Peru with all my kiddos safely tucked in.  But I'm thinking the Lord is not going to let Scott and I get very far from the day-by-day trusting Him.  Which duh, I guess.  That's what faith is.  But it's different than my former way of living a yo-yo: I'm in control, God's in control and repeat.  The problem is it is just so uncomfortable to be in the day to day trust.  It's just so against what I think I know, in my Lauren-ness.  I used to think I knew things.   (Some of you are nodding because you knew me in my most know-it-all days.  Give a girl room to grow! :)  I thought I knew how to fix things, problem solve, take care of myself.  Even though I was a follower of Christ, there were still things I could do myself.  But our life now, not even just that we adopted, is continually reminding me I know very little.  I don't know what God is going to ask of our family, how He will ask us to do ministry, and/or what that will look like for us.  The way my job works now, I literally have no idea when or if I will get to financially contribute to our family.  I know I'm not a "normal" girl but that matters to me.  So it's like surprise paychecks I suppose! :)  I don't know how to parent 7 uniquely different kids with different stories.  Sometimes I don't even know how to pray for them.  My reliance on God has never been so firm.  I find myself standing with all my weight on Him, sometimes because I don't know where else to stand.  And everything else looks like a lily pad in the raging ocean yet, He is solid.  
So here we stand.  God is so gracious to give us connection and moments that are so sweet: 
I walked outside this week to find Joel trying to teach Laney how to tie her shoes.  I'm not sure she's quite there yet but he tried. :)

And sometimes I find doodles like this one that just make you smile.  
The kids refuse to let me put on tennis shoes without jumping on bikes and wanting to walk with me.  Our oldest busts out random water balloon fights in her spare time. 
Right now, we watch a lot of soccer, eat a lot of meals together, and laugh every day.  Even if it's at each other.  :)  Being right in the center of day-by-day trust is the scariest, most exhilarating, awesome place I've ever been.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

FĂștbol Has Begun

At right about three months home, like clockwork, the exciting newness was wearing off and my boys specifically started to struggle.  They're doing great in school and do everything we ask--homework, tutor, church, etc.  And without much complaint!  But you can tell there's a little bit of discomfort.  Unease finding their place.  My oldest Peruvian shows it the most in his face.  

More than just about anything, the boys talk about how hard it is to not be able to play soccer outside everyday.  We've had some great weather days...and some not-so-great days and the inconsistency is annoying!
So competitive soccer means a whole new kind of crazy!  But it's needed for their sanity.  They say "it's in their blood".  Not to mention it's good for my boys to run and get worn out and compete!  
The first game had quite the fan club!  In addition to the fact that our own family is a clan of groupies, we had my parents and friends come to cheer with us too!

 JHONNY

 SUPERFAN
So now I drive the minivan and am the literal soccer mom!  It's still tons of fun, even in just normal moments like now--helping with homework, rice in the cooker, and boys playing outside.  Spirits are lifting!  If you're praying for us, pray for my Peruvians to continue to feel at home here (and Peru of course), to make friends that help them be themselves, and that they would learn that the only person who can truly be the confidant and friend they need is Christ.  Pray for us to continue to ask God to teach us how to do family in this capacity.  And that God would have His way with us. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Daffy and Her Sister

My three year old is into this family tree thing--who is that? What is her daughter's names? What are him's parent's names?  She is obsessed with my grandparents and their parents.  But last week, she kept talking about Daffy.  Daffy is a girl that we met in Peru when we met our kids for the first time.  Daffy isn't even close to her name by the way.  I'm not sure why Laney calls her that; her name doesn't even sound like Daffy!  But anyway....Daffy and her sister were around quite a bit in the few days we spent with our kids on their turf.  At soccer games, at the orphanage.  And I watched as Daffy and her sister asked our attorneys if they would find them a family too!  Heart wrenching.
I honestly have no idea why this week, Laney moved from family tree to Daffy.  (And now back to who is whose daughter, etc).  But I felt like God was helping to keep the girls in our minds.  My kids adore these kids.  One of my boys wants to make clear that a Sterling doesn't need to adopt them because well, then they would be his cousins and you can imagine why he wouldn't want that! :)
Acting on the prompting (and checking with our attorneys to see that the girls are interested, available, etc.), I thought I would tell you about them.  If you have an inkling of interest in more information, please email me at laurensterling9@gmail.com.  I don't use their real names here so as to not appear to exploit them in any way.  



Daffy and her sister are 2 beautiful girls that live in Peru in the same orphanage our kids grew up in.  They are 15 and 13 I believe.  The story we were told is that they were dropped off by parents that were separating.  The girls were convinced that someone would be returning for them soon.  Time passed and the parents separated and began separate lives.  No one returned.  It took the girls years to decide that their family was not coming back and that they wanted a family.  The story kind of reminds me of Annie, which we watch about 1000 times a week at our house.  Annie thinks her parents are returning with the other half of the locket.  Meanwhile, they actually pass away and no one tells her.  But then, Daddy Warbucks to the rescue!?  And who doesn't want to be Daddy Warbucks!?  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Life

Easter has always been very special for us.  Pivotal to our faith, of course.  Plus, Scott and I got engaged very, very late on Easter Sunday in 2008.  New life for us began that day in so many ways.  So appropriate for Easter Sunday. Then Easter Sunday 2 years ago, Scott said "I'm willing" to moving forward on this crazy journey to 5 Peruvians.  So this Easter Sunday was pretty special.  New life.... and they live in my house!!!  Nuts!
So I'm not a fan of making every holiday about gifts and we certainly don't have cash growing on our trees...but Easter Sunday is special.  We talked about La Dia de la Resurreccion a lot beforehand.  Peru celebrates Holy Week in some capacity and our kids know about Jesus and the resurrection. But I'm not sure they understood why we make a big deal out of these days (like being out of school Good Friday) so it required a lot of conversation.
It was fun to give a small gift and let the kids try American Easter candy.  I bought things I don't even like, including Peeps, just so they would understand what their friends were talking about with Easter baskets, jelly beans, and cadbury eggs.
Then that evening, the kids had a fabulous surprise!  St. Mary's, a hospital in Blue Springs, contacted me a few weeks earlier and wanted to adopt our kiddos for Easter.  I tried to give a few different options for the kids of different $ values unsure of what they were wanting to do.  They did more than I could have imagined!
Each kid had a basket full of something specifically fun for them---fishing poles and tackle, itunes gift cards and an iHome, chess book, other books... I could go on and on!  Laney has been wearing her princess garb for days!  And to top it off, they received 3 bikes.  2 were specifically chosen for 2 of the kids and 1 that I'm sure we will all share!  They truly went above and beyond! We even received a family gift for all 9 of us to go to a Sporting KC game (which I'm super excited about because the boys have been :) AND an individual family got me a sweet gift.  We felt truly loved and blessed!




"And He who was sitting on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new....Write this down for these things are trustworthy and true'. "
Revelation 21:5  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Who am I?

Sometimes parenting seems like a Science that even if I had taken a lot more science classes, I would still be such an amateur at!  I've said before that we do a lot of 'live and learn'.  We learned quickly that not doing homework right after school turned into an evening nightmare.  So Day 2, we changed the routine and now we're good.  
But sitting in the car after physical therapy with a teenager that is really unhappy with their selected treatment.....isn't quite as easy as perfecting our routine.  I mean, how do I know what is best for a 15 year old in this situation?  I'm not a Doctor or a Physical Therapist.  Or even a mom who has been here before. So as he tears up, I find myself arguing the Doctor's case.  They're PT's recommended by the best of the best in Kansas City, blah blah.  I blindly trust them.  But he doesn't.  And I get that.  So over the days, I too start to question....How do I know what's best?  Who am I?  

Then a day later, we have a minor lost-in-translation moment that makes all 5 kids look at me like I had betrayed them.  You want to shout "I have told you every day this week what was going to be happening!! "  It's as simple as You are and We are.  Or Before and After.   One word can make you feel like a parenting failure!  And those faces are horrendous! 

I don't really have a nice, pretty bow to tie up these situations with.  I still don't know what to do about PT or if my son is going to hate me until he is 30.  And we will still have lost in translation moments. I feel like we try to communicate so well, so specifically.  But we will still have them.  So we just keep walking.  And fortunately, we recover quickly.  We laugh with and at each other.  We enjoy lazy Saturdays and now a snowed in Sunday.  And we learn the dance of communicating with each other.  And parenting 7 very different kids.  Who am I is the best question I can ask.  Because it isn't about me.  And if I don't pray that God would love on, teach, direct, comfort, and speak to my kids, then that's the biggest failure I can make.  Because I am not enough for them.  I do not know all the answers.  But our God knows what He's doing.  Phew!  Good thing!  'Cause sometimes I don't have a clue! 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works so that no one can boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9

I'm so grateful...for the gift for me and for my kids.  Ultimately, I have to lead them to Him.  The rest is His to deal with.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Answers Part 1

I didn't get a ton of questions or comments to the post regarding our process and the questions it creates.   But I got enough that I feel a responsibility to answer.  I'll answer them separately so today is Question 1:
How did we know we were doing the right thing when the door kept getting closed at the beginning?

For us, we are big about discernment.  We are careful not to make big decisions without pretty clear discernment.  And are super careful not to call something what "God said" unless we're are pretty stinkin' sure He said it.
That being said, I felt called to our 5 kids before my husband did.  If you've read the history posts, I don't want to bore anyone.  But I was pretty wrecked after a trip to Guatemala and had a burning desire to do something substantial.  Over time, I started talking about our kids and felt more and more at peace.
My husband on the other hand had more of an "intercom" moment with God.  Logan and I were already on board when God told Scott to quit worrying about the kids.  "I didn't ask you about the kids, I asked if you were willing".  And we were.

Over the year and a half process, we hit many roadblocks.  We were told no early on while we were still very zealous.  So at that point, you fight because you have fresh energy to do so.  You know that God asked us to defend the cause of the fatherless and we were going to do that until God said otherwise.  By the last no, the unexpected, most heartbreaking one.....we were fighting for our kids.  Because we were fighting rules and authorities that were required to have rules and ridiculous procedures.  Sometimes someone would present a next step for Scott and I to try.  Sometimes, our agency or attorneys would just start the next step on their own.  

More than all of that though, we were standing on what God had said.  Much like a comment from Mandy Feichner said, it wasn't God closing the doors.  And each time we hit a block, we took a few steps back (after crying and grieving, don't get me wrong) and asked God what He was doing and what He wanted from us.  And each time, we kept walking even when it felt like in mud.  With boots up to our thighs.  Uphill.  We kept walking.

For us, it was never really a no.  It was just a crazy process.  For others, it may not look like ours.  But God is still the same.  When it's yes or when it's no.  When it's so different than we would have designed.  And in the craziest moments, THAT is what I had to stand on.  With all my weight.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Keepin' it in Perspective

Yesterday was not one of my favorite days on the planet.  I woke up and got 5 kids off to school.  Annnnd one very late college student up to go to work.  Just me and Laney and I heard a loud popping sound.  I tiptoed to the laundry room, half covering my face because I thought something might blow up.  How sad if my new dryer was about to explode!?!  Instead, I found water dripping from multiple points in the ceiling, loudly hitting the sink in the laundry room and water flowing down the wall in 2 places.  I'm not sure how long it had been doing this but long enough to bubble up the dry wall and warp the window frame.  I started to panic!  Turned water off and waited for the plumber.  Yikes!
Only $75 later and a drying wall that maybe doesn't need to be replaced, I feel somewhat better!  

But in the midst of the chaos, I started playing the movie forward.  How much it was going to cost to replace the wall and ceiling, how we don't have it right now, how I would much prefer to spend "extra" money (whatever that is) on painting my bedroom that has a stripped border and Kilz stripes decorating it now....etc.  All that does is give a person a migraine!  And it was somewhat unnecessary.  Plumbing is minor.  And didn't cost the fortune I had dreamed up in my mind.  Big picture, we are good.  I love the sound of lots going on.  Kids helping each other with homework.  One doing tricks with his bike outside.  Another helping her sister get her socks on without being asked.  I don't even hate homework time or getting dinner ready anymore.  We have found our groove.  And I'm sure we will have to find it again.  And again and again.  But for now, we are really good.  Scott and I still talk, even amidst 7 kids and 3 jobs. We laugh and still like each other. I have to keep that in perspective, so that next time something is dripping or not working, I don't lose my mind!  
(Do not worry today about tomorrow....each day has enough trouble of it's own! Matt. 6:34) 

Funny sidenote, last night, the kids were saying "Mom the toilet, the toilet!" and I'm like oh my gosh, again!?!  I run downstairs and am pointing to the bathroom trying to figure out what they're saying.  And they were saying "Mom, Twilight, Twilight....." They couldn't get the new movie to work in the DVD player!  Twilight--Toilet.  Same thing. Sheesh!!  Language barrier much??  Just a pronunciation thing! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Many Questions

We have gotten some incredible opportunities.  Radio stations, tv, and the like have asked us great questions about how we got to our kids, etc.  We have so enjoyed the cool things God has done!  In the midst of our 15 minutes of fame, a lot of questions came out that didn't get asked directly to us.  Comments to news articles.  Questions to other people but not to us.  And some of them are just highly unintelligent.  So I don't want to address those.  None of you have hateful questions like that, I'm sure.  But I thought I should open up the discussion to some questions that are important.  If you are out there and have questions that are keeping you from being obedient to God in some way.  Or even just slowing the process of obedience up.  Let's have a comment discussion board about it.  I'll even give you some question suggestions and if one of your questions is listed here, I'll address it.  If you have others, I'll do my best to answer those too.  Any help from the seasoned adoptive community are welcome! 

How did we know we were doing the right thing when the door kept getting closed at the beginning?

How do we feel our decision to adopt affects our biological kids?  
Did we discuss it with them?
Is it fair to them?

How do you pay for an international adoption?

Why did we adopt internationally when there are so many kids locally that want/need families?


And any others that might help you...even if it isn't necessarily adoption related.  
Ours is a story of faith and listening to God in a big way.  And really about Him talking to us and allowing us to be a part of a bigger story than we could have written for ourselves.  What God is asking you may be different.  I want to help you find out what that is if I can. 





Whole New Level of Crazy

(written yesterday)  Wow!  So many things have gone crazy since I wrote last.  We knew we were moving obviously.  But we moved out a little faster than planned.  Like in about 30 hours.  Psycho.  Moving is supposed to be one of the biggest stressors.  Moving 9 humans in that short amount of time.... I might have needed to be committed.  Don't ask my family.  While people were packing my house for me, another crew was at the new house, furiously peeling wallpaper and painting.  I hope to never move again!  But little by little, it is starting to feel like we are supposed to live there and not just squatting. :)  Between that and snow days, today seems like a very strange Monday.  But it's Thursday which means one of my kids needs to be at PT today...I digress.  I'll be honest, I thought I was going to be Superwoman with this move and crazy life combination.  But after I hit my car on 2 different things....my husband's truck and our new garage....I realized I need to slow down and am not exactly sure how.
Today is feeling much more normal.  People are all at school.  Laney is playing at the McDonald's playplace while I use WiFi because we still don't have it, and dinner is thawing at home.  I think we just might make it!  And while I'd like to be sitting in this chair reading a book every day, maybe someday...


(Ignore the mauve shade; it will be exiting:)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Back to Normal

Whatever that is! We had a great time in New York!  A crazy whirlwind trip....we got up at 3:30am on Tuesday morning to fly out at 6. We got to start playing in New York around 11 and took the subway to Times Square.  The kids knew all about the Twin Towers for some reason so they were very interested in that.  Much of New York that we all know from movies, history, etc. is completely foreign to them though.  New York pizza in an old church, Toys R Us with a ferris wheel inside, stores full of M&M's and Hershey's chocolate filled our day.  We were tired early!

We got up Wednesday and had to get 9 people ready to be on t.v!  I don't think we even knew enough to be too nervous.  None of us had ever done anything like this before.  The Fox thing doesn't count; Scott and I were alone in a room with a cameraman and a camera with people talking in our ear.  Truly the hardest "speaking engagement" I've ever done!  I knew when that was over that anything was going to be easier than that!
We got to The View and got taken to a dressing room with 'The Sterling Family' on the door.  Kris Jenner was sitting across the hall in her dressing room and Hunter Haye's band was wandering around. I'm not really one to get starstruck but it was definitely interesting to run into people like that in the hall!  Very surreal.  The producers showed us the set to explain how things would go that day, did some of our hair and makeup and we waited.  We actually had a ton of fun!  And I need to just say that Procter & Gamble and Avila were both fabulous!  They were both extremely genuine and interested in our story.  The President of Avila had read much of this silly blog and was invested in our story.  We feel extremely blessed that The View's producers went to great lengths to not only surprise us at all, but to research the best school to meet our needs.




We flew home Wednesday and couldn't believe it was back to school for Thursday.  Fast trip!  The kids enjoyed themselves but kept saying 'I love Missouri'.  Which is good.  They've seen cities in Peru and in New York and are starting to form an opinion about what feels like home. :)  Many of them felt famous at school Thursday, one specifically with the ladies. :)  
One of the nights this week as we were getting back into the groove of normal, we had interesting dinner conversation.   Food was cleared away and 4 of the Peruvians stayed at the table talking.  We learned things about their childhood, their family, their memories that we had never heard before.  It was awesome for many reasons.  1. They felt comfortable to share and 2. There is so much more to their past than we realized.  It's amazing how much we are going to learn over the years, I think. There's so much there to unfold. Fun and scary all at once.  Our kids have been through a lot for their ages!  Have had to make hard decisions for themselves. And are tough, amazing kids because of it!  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Immeasurably More

Our story has become, well....known.  And I've thought for several days how to post, if I should post.  Even the blog has had it's 15 minutes of fame.  But I feel the need to address what's been going on.
I think it started with Klove. Someone notified them about our story.  And they called the house while I was in the restroom.  Glamorous, I know.  Not a soul was here but me.  Which is ultra uncommon but I was reading resumes while our house was being inspected.  So they were stuck with a few minutes of me.  That short interview was done weeks before it aired so I really kind of forgot about it.  We started school and were getting into the groove of real life.  While at the health department (dealing with the fact that someone gave my children the wrong immunizations..that's a whole different story!), Fox was getting in touch with me.  Apparently Klove led to Fox which led to CRAZY!
I'll be honest, I find it funny!  I mean, you have to laugh when the words "Uh babe, Good Morning America called today" come out of your mouth.  We are just normal people.  Like really normal.  So this stuff makes me laugh.
It is also extremely humbling.  I am receiving comments from all over the world from people just like us--normal people who adopted siblings.  Or foster and are adopting.  I've said many times that we are not the only people who have ever done this.  In fact, there are many who have done harder, more admirable things.  
So why is all this craziness happening?  I honestly don't know.  But we have decided to allow some of it for some reasons I wanted to talk about.  1. The kids are good with it.  That was extremely important to us.  They don't completely understand why we are receiving this attention of course.  To them, this life feels as normal as they know.  They are intrigued.  2. Scott and I and the kids all think that this may be some awesome outlet for God to do some really cool things.  
If I have learned anything in the last several months....it's that my timeline and my ways are NOT God's.  I would have done things differently in Peru.  But God knew what He was doing.  Often I would do things faster, but then things go exactly the way God wants and it's better.  I have a very new and different understanding of "immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20) because I could not dream up the way this story is going!!  
We are praying that God is glorified and that He uses us.  Whatever that looks like.  I may never know. But if one person chooses to act in faith on something they were afraid of, it's worth it.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thrown to the Wolves

Usually, I drink my coffee slowly and thoughtfully, requiring me to microwave it several times because I get distracted.  This morning, I am chugging my coffee as I drive around to the parade of schools, desperately needing it to wake me up and not wanting to miss a drop.  An IV would be easier!  I am the kind of anxious-tired that I can only relate to those first few weeks when you bring your infant home and you keep thinking, "I can't ruin him/her" :)  Good pressure.  I also feel that early baby joy when you can't believe they are yours and you marvel at the gift.  I cannot imagine a better situation with 5 new kids.  I mean it, these kids are fabulous.  And God has created an incredible sense of family that only He could create.  You can't manufacture this stuff!

We started school this week: 2 in elementary, 1 in middle school, 1 at the freshman center and one in the high school.  I never thought that driving away from a 17 year old would be tough.  But I felt like I was truly throwing him to the wolves--High school in the U.S., teachers that don't speak his language, profanity he has never been around, PDA at every corner.  I think it's different when you spend years raising her younger kids; they're differently prepared for public high school.  Not to say that I loved that Logan was exposed to all kind of nastiness but I knew she was equipped and ready to be a Christian at school.  And she was a rock star!  My Peruvians have such an innocence that made it feel weird to push them out and say "Go survive! I hope you figure it out!"  All week, I keep thinking about how in Genesis 16, Hagar calls God the God who sees me.  My prayer is that our kids would feel seen and loved by that personal God.  That God would fill in the gaps that Scott and I can't fill or don't even know there is a need to fill.  God sees them, at their school, in our house, in their head.  I am so grateful He meets them where they are and meets their needs.

Fortunately, no one fought me on going back the second day.  My middle schooler in fact, is rating her days at 9's and 10's on a scale with 10 being the best day of her life.  So I guess she's enjoying it! 
Some of them come home with their brains hurting.  Which I totally get because Peru made my brain hurt.  (Not to mention that I now can't speak Spanish OR English well because I'm so language confused in my house! But that's another story)

So we've almost survived our first week of school.  I'm pretty sure I am more excited to sleep in tomorrow than they are!  The 3 year old had better cooperate! :)  Laney turned 3 this week which is unbelievable.  Our college student started class this week.  That girl, by the way...I am so grateful for! She cleans, baths Laney, does laundry...before I've even thought it needed to be done.  My husband is constantly asking me what he can do...and it's not like he doesn't work 2 jobs or wear 5,000 hats.  I have cooked 2 meals this week that someone else prepared so that all I had to do was throw them in a crock pot.  We have received more than 1 anonymous gift in the mail. We have friends bringing one kid home from school.  We have cousins loving on the kids and making them feel like there is someone in this world that they don't sound stupid to when speaking English.  I could go on and on...  It takes a village--and I LOVE my village! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Well, it feels like we've been back a month and it hasn't even been 2 weeks yet!  We are doing extremely well.  We had a Christmas extravaganza as soon as we got back, introducing the kids to the clan of Sterlings that now totals 26 and the smaller group of Malones.  The kids were overwhelmed by piles of gifts which they have never experienced before.  But they smiled and goofed around with cousins and handled things very well!  We spent the following week sleeping in, meeting friends, playing in the snow, and eating meals together.  It was truly fabulous.  Christmas vacation at it's best.  Logan and her boyfriend choose to be around more than we would ever expect and the kids adore them!  Pearce just trash talks his way to their hearts.  And the girls have loved Logan from the very moment they saw her!  God has been very good weaving this family together.
Meanwhile,  in a crazy, only-written-by-God story, we have a buyer for our house and are buying another.  NEITHER house is on the market!  So nothing like introducing kids to the U.S. and then moving!  Fortunately, we are starting school where the new house is so that we don't have to switch schools.  Lots of change happening in our household.  The kids are sweet and really love our cramped house we are in right now.  When we explained the new house and the whole buying/selling situation, their biggest concerns were about whether or not the TV's go too.  Oh, and if we get to take the carpet.  Conversations you didn't expect to have: that carpet is stapled down and that we can get new in the new place.  Funny!
Vacation is about to end and a new school routine is beginning.  We are spending this week getting enrolled and assessed for school.  School supplies and many frustrations are to follow, I think. We've been told to give the kids a couple weeks.  And after visiting all of the buildings, I can see how it will be chaotic and frustrating to the kiddos!  Lots of English, lots of new faces, and many new expectations.  They are smart and have great attitudes so I know they will do well!  Not to mention the many fabulous principals and teachers from church or from the past that have helped tremendously!  Just gotta ride the bumps out in the beginning.  Prayers appreciated! :)
I will keep posting as we walk this new journey.  Maybe some for myself.  But more than anything, I want it to be known that when God asks things that seem too big or too uncommon, that HE makes things possible.  It may not be Peru and it probably isn't 5 kids, but God has BIG plans for you too.  And if my ramblings help you say Yes, then ramble more I will! :)  A Ginny Owens song that I LOVE (and sang often in Peru) says "He never said it would be easy, He only said I'd never go alone".  He has been so good to us and blesses us continually.