Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweet Lil' Emme Girl

Little Emme is one today!! We think she's getting a great birthday present too.. our family!! And, how fun is it that her birthay is the day after mine?? Or is it???

I'll admit it. I am not always the sharpest tool in the tool box. My brothers used to tell jokes or say things around their friends that I just didn't get. On more than one occassion, I'd see them lean in to their friends and whisper, "She's really blond."

My father-in-reminded me yesterday China is 12 hours ahead of us. There's a real possibility that, on USA time, she WAS born on my birthday. So, what would you do?? Give her her own birthday or should we have the same birthday? I know some of you have never left a comment... so now is your chance. I've asked your opinion.

I really, really wanted to have Emme before her first birthday. It didn't happen so I'll just keep trusting that God's timing is best. And, it is my prayer that she would never spend another birthday without her family.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to me!!!

I know one shouldn't really wish themselves a happy birthday. But, hey... how many people do you know that get to go to China for their birthday?? And, then, in China, that same lucky person gets handed a beautiful baby girl all wrapped up on a pink bow. Well, alright... maybe not the pink bow. The Chinese aren't much into fashion. Have you seen the outfits those babies come in? Wow! is about all one can say about that!!

I'm gonna go have a great day!!

P. S. My husband and oldest daughter are on a government field trip. They are going to watch John McCain announce his running And guess what... IT'S HIS BIRTHDAY TOO!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Battle

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
                                                                                                     Ephesians 6:12

     I believe when God sets desires in peoples hearts and sets them on a mission, the army of the enemy prepares for battle.  He doesn't wait long to attack.

     If you know me, it is no secret that I have battled depression and anxiety attacks since I was about 19 years old.  I am very open about it, it's not a secret.  It's not an everyday issue.  It usually rears it's ugly head in very stressful times.  I have had terrible bouts about 5 times.  I believe that I will have complete victory over this one day.  I serve a living, powerful, healing God.  And, he sent Jesus, so that I might live life and live it fully.  To me, that means being victorious over weaknesses.  However, I will always have an enemy.  That enemy studies my weaknesses and strikes there every time.  
    It's like on the movie Karate Kid.  (Don't act like you didn't love this movie!)  Daniel LaRusso is fighting in the championship of a karate tournament.  He's fighting against the bully who has beat him up and tormented him.  Daniel's leg is hurt and the master of the other team knows this.  He orders the boy to strike Daniel's leg.

     That's what the enemy of this world does to us.  To me specifically, he preys upon this weak area of my life.  

     In February of 2006, when we were in the paperchase part of the adoption, he hit me hard.  I started having panic attacks which in turn makes me depressed.  I wanted to concede defeat and forget the adoption.  However, the Lord was faithful.  He keeps teaching me how to fight.

     This past spring, Satan took a different approach.  I wish that I had written down the attacks that took place in the month of May.  Although, I doubt many people would believe that all the things that happened could happen to one person in such a short amount of time.  At one point, I WAS TOTALLY convinced that Candid Camera was lurking around every corner.  I was just waiting for someone to jump out and say, "Smile!  Your on Candid Camera!"

     I thought for all of you who follow along with this story, I'd at least give you a play by play of the first weekend of May.  Plus, Emme has to have a record of this.  I want her to know that we were fighting... fighting for her!

     May 1, looked like one of the happiest days on record.  At approximately 12:30, we had an unsolicited, surprise call from Maury at FTIA announcing our LOA had arrived.  And, it was only 6 days after receiving word we had received our PA.  If you are adopting SN from China, then you know this is like a miracle.  We were so excited!  She gave us instructions that our LOA would be overnight Fedexed to us.  We would receive it on Friday morning and we were to send it back, Fedex, overnight,  on the same day. 

      It arrived on Friday morning, just like it was supposed to.  I signed it, filled out the travel sheets, made some copies and prepared to send it back.  While I was making copies, since my copier is in my laundry room, I threw in a load of laundry.  

     You should also know, that I had a garage sale going on outside and it was Jackson's 5th birthday.   Hardly anything going on at the Isaascs' house! Ha!

     At one point, I came back in to throw the wet clothes into the dryer.  I walked into the laundry room to find water all over the floor.  For some odd reason, our washer empties into a sink.  Our washer doesn't dump the water into some magic hole in the wall, like most people's washers.  It goes into a sink and the sink had decided not to accept any more water so it spewed it all over my floor.  We had to call someone right away because there was so much laundry that it was going to start revolting if it didn't get washed.  It was fix it fast or I was quitting!

     So, a guy came over to fix the problem about 2 pm.  About 3 pm, I left to run to Fedex to overnight the papers back.  While I was there, I had a few color copies made that would only copy well by Fedex, etc... Of course, those trips always take longer than expected. 
      I flew home to grab Gracie to take her to gymnastics while a mighty wind was whipping up a storm.  I helped Paul throw some of the garage sale stuff into the garage and somehow in that small amount of time, we got into an argument.  It is important to note that, we are one of those odd couples who rarely fight.  I don't even know what the fight was about.   I threw Gracie in the car and drove in the driving rain to her class.  When I arrived, I grabbed my copies of the paperwork to look over while I was inside.  I am not sure why I did this, but I did.  
     While inside looking over the paperwork, I realize that Paul didn't even sign the LOA.  I panicked, called Fedex and begged them to dig out my envelope.  They fished it out but told me to get there by 6 pm so it could go out on time.   I ran home to get Paul.  And, guess what??  3 hours later, the guy is STILL fixing the sink in our laundry room.  It is now 5 pm .  I had one hour to get to Fedex.  At, 5:55 pm, 4 HOURS of fixing one pipe in our laundry sink, the guy finally finishes and we race to Fedex.  
     Please, keep in mind, it is Jackson's birthday.  At this point, he has reminded us many times it has not been a good birthday.  We do our business at Fedex.  We went to dinner at a place Jackson made sure to tell us he didn't like.  We went home, joyfully sang Happy Birthday, ate cake and sent the kids to bed.
     I went down to throw in a load of laundry and went to bed... happy.  NOT!!!!
     In the morning, I went straight to the laundry room to put the clothes into dry because Shelby's uniform was in the wash and she had a soccer game at 11 am.  I also had a baby shower for a very dear, wonderful friend at 10 am. 
     I walked into the Ohio River.... in my laundry room.  That river that I walked into made the previous days flood look like a small rain puddle.  The water had come out into the family room and it had gone under the wall into the bedroom next to it.
     I ran upstairs.  I announced to Paul that the idiot that fixed the sink for 4 HOURS the day before didn't really fix the sink at all!  He very calmly looked at me.  HE thought for a moment and then....he had the nerve to say to me, "Did you put the hose back in the tub?"  I said, "WHAT???!!!"  
"Did you put the hose back in the tub?"

    To clarify, the water didn't just BACK UP.  The water from the washing and the RINSING, all 400 gallons, poured onto my floor.  

   You don't need to hear the rest of the conversation.  And, my dear friend, who has done more for me than I could ever write.......  I didn't make it to her shower.

     Sunday, I went my laundry room to make some copies.  I love, love, LOVED that copier.  Yes, I said LOVED.  The copier that I used everyday, because A) I am adopting and if you adopt, you need a copier and B) I homeschool.  Everyday....EVERYDAT I used that copier.  The great flood... it ruined the power pack.
      So, on Monday morning, I got up and at 8:30 I called HP to order a new power pack cord.  I had the part number ready.
     Of course, you know the drill.  It takes 10 minutes to get to a live person.  After 10 minutes, I start to order the part. 
     The live person I was talking to....  I am pretty sure he lived in India.

Me:  "Um, yes, I need to order a new cord for my printer.  The part # is  RW456 876 45TS.  "

    For the next 15 minutes, I read that guy every part # on the cord, the printer, the phone book.  You name it!
    Finally, I think we have the part.
    At this point, it is 9:15 and I have to be at a Kindergarten screening at 9:30 am.  My hair is not fixed, my teeth not brushed.  I only have on the t-shirt I slept.  And, I am violently motioning my children to get dressed.

The Indian Man (dot not feather) (please use the accent when you read): Could I have your name?
Me: April Isaacs.  I-S-A-A-C-S
The Indian Man: your address
Me:  ( I have to spell my street, 3 times!)
The Indian Man:  Zip code
Me: 35359

Keyboard clicking

Indian man: That is not a valid zip code.
Me: 3 5 3 5 9

Keyboard clicking

Indian Man:  That is not a valid zip code.
Me: Sir, I get mail here everyday.  I have lived here for 5 years.  That is my zip code.

Me Ok.  Change it from (small town I live in) to (close big city)

Indian Man:  That is not a valid zip code

Keyboard clicking

Me: I sit and breathe in and breath out and count to 10.  I say nothing.

Indian Man:  Miss, if you do not give me valid zip code, I can not order your part.

ME:  ( I am normally calm, rarely raise my voice.)  (My voice was very raised, very raised!)  SIR, DO YOU THINK THAT I WOULD SIT HERE ON THE PHONE FOR ALMOST AN HOUR TO GET A PART SO THAT WHEN I FINALLY GET TO THE PART WHERE I CAN GET THE PART, I CAN GIVE YOU AN INVALID ZIP CODE?????????????

Indian man:  I need a valid zip code.

     I hung up... without ordering the part.  I had no choice.  I had to leave.

    Candid camera did not reveal themselves.  

     I got dressed, went to the Kindergarten screening.  A few days later, I got a new copier.

     If you have made it this far, WOW, you should get an award!!  

     Sometimes, the enemy attacks and attacks and attacks.  He can do it in multiple small ways like he did to me in May.  Desperately trying to wear me down.  Or, he can drop the nuclear bomb and go for my mind.  I believe that over the last, almost 3 years, he has tried  whatever it would take to keep a little girl out of this home.  He knew, when we succeeded, that precious little girl would hear about Jesus everyday.  He's going to lose.  We leave in 7 days!

     The Lord has taught me how to use his word to fight.  He has also taught me that over and over and over again in the scriptures, praising and worshipping him brings defeat.  Check it out for yourself.  When the Israelites when out to fight, they sent the tribe that sang songs about the victory God would win, AHEAD of the people who would do the physical battle.  In the New Testament, when someone wanted healing, they worshipped him first.  When he was not worshipped first, he confronted the faith of the individual.  (See Matthew 15:22-28)  In that passage,  the woman's miracle did not come until two things had been established: 1) that she had faith , and 2)that she was going to worship God.
     2 Chronicles 20:21
     When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise him in their holy garments as the WENT OUT BEFORE the army saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for his mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!!

     Will you go before us and praise God and pray for our protection against the enemy???



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

People, Packing, Papers and Pandemonium

     The people are the children living in my home... right now.  Have I mentioned that in 14 days I am going to pick up another child?  In China!!!  I think I mentioned it briefly on another post somewhere.

     In the meantime, the other "people" have to get an education.  I sent the smallest of the three off to his first day of Kindergarten.  Of course when he got off the bus, I attacked the poor fellow. " How was your day?  Was it fun?  Did you eat your snack?  Did you like your teacher?  Did you get to play on the playground?  Did you know anyone in your class besides Michael?"  He walks by me one the driveway like he's so cool.  He's got this little smirk on his face because he knows he has information I want.  

   Over the course of the next several HOURS, I get a few questions answered, but they make no sense to me.  I have to piece the puzzle together.  "Jackson, why didn't you eat all your cheese?
  His reply, "Because the teacher clapped her hands."  
Me:  "Did you play outside?"
Jackson:  "No."
Me: "Why?"
J:   "Because we had a sheezhule."  ( I translated this into schedule.) 
Me:  "Did you learn anything?"
J:  "No."
Me:  "Well, what did you do?"
J:  "Nothing."
Me:  "You really didn't play outside today?
J:  "No."
Me: " Can I call your teacher and ask her?"
J:  "Yeah."

Now, I'm not a rocket scientist but what kindergarten teacher wouldn't give a recess?  Is she the Kindergarten Nazi???  I mean it's 87 degrees and beautiful.  A letter was sent home saying they would go out if it was above 20 degrees, so dress for the weather.  But, they don't go out when it's sunny and 87???  

Please... read on.

     I have been married 12 years in October.  I am married to an extreme extrovert.  And, if they (whoever 'they' are) say woman speak an average of 20,000 words per day, my husband (God love him) speaks 19,999.  HOWEVER, if he walks in the door after some sort of big meeting or something really important.  I'll barrage him with questions. 

How was the meeting with Jim?  What did he say?  Why?  How's the family?  What did he say about...?  When did he say he'd let you know?, etc, etc, etc....  

Now, I get SOME answers.  But, what I find is, over the coarse of the next MONTH,  my dear husband saying periodically,  "Did I tell you about Jim's dad's brother's wife's cousin?  
Me:  No
DH: (dear husband) (gasp) I can't BELIEVE I didn't tell you that?

A few days later...

DH:  Did I tell you that when I met with Jim last week that Susie's expecting her 10th child???
Me:  Thinking in my head.... No!!  How in the world could you forget that!!!???  I never heard about 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.

A week later.  Comes in.  Drops his bag on the floor.  Opens eyes wide.  Stares at me like he has something huge to tell me and he wants me to die in anticipation.  (Which I do, but I act like I don't care.)

I CAN NOT BELIEVE I FORGOT TO TELL YOU THIS!!  Jim and Susie are moving to the Rain
 Forest to be missionaries!!!  Can you believe that?
Me:  I just stare at him.  With my eyes open wide.  A puzzled look on my face.  I don't even know how to talk to him.   How can he forget these things??

(BTW, that was a fictional story.)

     I in no way want to make fun of my wonderful husband, because he really is wonderful.  Men and woman just communicate differently.

     Tomorrow morning, I'll ask Jackson if he went outside and he will probably look at me like I am an idiot and say, "Yes." 
     And then I will say something like, " Well, yesterday you said you didn't."  To which he will reply, "Ohhhh... I just didn't go down the slide."

Meanwhile, the girls stay home with me for their education.  I know.  Scary!  I spend a lot of the day listening to 40,000 + 40,000 words.  (Hey, they said 20,000 was an average!)  ISN'T THERE A HAPPY MEDIUM???

After the educational portion of our day, I spent from 3pm until 10pm doing paperwork for the adoption and for the Kindergartener.   Throw in laundry, dinner, a clogged toilet, 5 neighborhood kids in my house working on a play (I don't ask) and there you have it... pandemonium.

Did I mention I am going to China??  In 14 days!!!  

And, SOMEONE, tell me the adoption paperwork ends.

Just for fun... a picture of the packing... if that's what you want to call it.  That's all for Emme.  The mess drives Paul crazy! (It's in the basement.  He doesn't have to look!)  Plus, I gotta get him back for taking MONTHS to tell stories.
P.S  The story about The Beacon... it's gonna have to wait.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Let the countdown begin

      T minus 19

    Our plane tickets have been purchased, our hotels have been reserved, our guides have been scheduled and our Panda phone has been ordered.

     We leave on Thursday, Sept 4- late morning.  We will arrive in Beijing on FRIDAY NIGHT.  Yes I said NIGHT!!!  And, you did catch that we were leaving late THURSDAY MORNING. If you do the math, that's almost 24 hours of traveling. I'm not going to lie.  I am afraid  that I am going to gouge my eyes out on the flight from Detroit to Tokeyo.  I can't imagine what one does on a plane for that amount of time.   Then, they want me to get off the plane and get back on for a 4+ hour plane ride to Beijing.  I think Paul is going to have to sedate me and call security to get me on that plane!   Oh boy!  This is going to be a long trip!

Sept 6-7  Tours are being arranged for us to tour the Great Wall, Summer Palace and the Forbidden City.  We will also see an acrobatic show.  (I know this is what Paul is looking forward to the most!  HaHa!!!)

Sept 8 - Morning-  Fly to Nanning
                AFTERNOON- Go to the Civil Affairs Bureau of Guangxi Province TO GET EMME!!!!!

Sept 9-  Civil affairs to complete adoption registration procedure.  Go to Notary Office to complete notarization procedure.

Sept 10-11  Tour may be arranged and will be optional.  Free time available if not touring.  Pick up all notarized paperwork except the passport for Emme.

Sept 12- Pick up passport for Emme

Sept 13- Morning- Fly to Guangzhou

Sept 14- 8am- GO ON A MAD SEARCH TO FIND THE OSU vs. USC GAME (see previous post)
Tour may be arranged and will be optional.  Free time available if not touring.

Sept 15- Have visa picture taken and medical exam performed for Emme.

Sept 16- Our guide submits the visa application document for us to the U.S. Consulate

Sept 17- Group oath taken at the U.S. Consulate.  Receive Emme's visa.

Sept 18-  Morning- fly home wrestling a baby for 24+ hours, touchdown in the good ol' USA!!  Yeehaw!!

There you have it!  

P.S.  A Panda phone is a phone we rented so our kids could call us and we could call them.  It's at the hotel when we arrive and we leave it at our last hotel.

P.S.S.  The picture at the top- The Beacon will be my next post.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Poor Paul

     Well, if you know anything about our adoption and how it has gone, then it shouldn't surprise you (or me. But it still did.) that we didn't get our first or second choice for a consulate appointment.   We are not traveling with the group leaving on the 27th of August.  So, we thought we were leaving on Sept 3.  HOWEVER, today we got to chose from 3 different flight options and the 3rd was not one of the choices.  So, OFFICIALLY, because we have already paid for it, (Why is it that when "they" ask us to something WE have to do it immediately!!!  But we have to wait and wait and wait for them to do something???) we are leaving Sept 4 and we will return on Sept 18.

   I am not complaining!  God has really been trying to teach me about how things are really out of my control.  He has a plan.  And, I believe He is always orchestrating things for my good!  I am pretty sure that we couldn't travel with a group because....  I think God is going to bump us up to first class all the way to China and all the way back.  What???  God has something good in store for us!!    I can't begin to tell you how great it feels to have a plan!  Yippee!!!  Now, the final thing we will receive is our inside China itinerary.  This will tell us the day we will receive Emme!

     Now, I have entitled this post Poor Paul because he has been waiting for about 4 years for THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY to play the University of Southern California.  It was hard for me to explain why, so I copied it from another site.  It says it perfectly!  I feel like I have heard these words verbatim MANY times.

Here we are, one month from the opening kickoff of the 2008-'09 College Football season. The preseason magazines are being released, camps are about to open, and everybody has their own opinion about the upcoming year. Heisman contenders, conference champs, and hypothetical BCS bids are being tossed around.

But through it all, there seems to be one consensus among all College Football fans: The Game of the Year (capitalized for extra effect) is Ohio State going out west to play USC on September 13.

In what will surely be a battle of two top five (possibly top three or top two, if the voters really get excited) teams, the big bad Buckeyes play longtime Pac-10 foe USC in a game of the two most prolific programs of the past decade.

Though these two teams haven't played each other in 18 years, they do have a nice little rivalry through the years, with USC leading the series 11-9-1. Both teams are loaded for the '08 season, and whoever wins will surely have the inside track to the National Championship.

Any way you look at it (and trust me, there are many different angles from which to digest this matchup), this is College Football's most important game of the year. As for the reigning Pac-10 champs, who have Oregon and Arizona State at home (though in back-to-back weeks), it can be said with confidence that this is the Trojans' most important game of the year.

     So, technically, he has been waiting longer for this game than he has for our adoption  No question about which he ranks in importance.  But, I do understand and sympathize with him.  I was having a fit when I thought I might have to miss the American Idol concert.  I was going to see it SOMEWHERE if I missed it back in July.  The game, yes, I know he can see it taped, but we all know that's not the same!  Saturday night, September 13, at 8pm, we will probably be in Nanning or Guangzhou.  In Nanning or in Guangzhou, 8pm USA time will be 8am, China time.  Paul will get up early and hunt down a place to watch the game.  It should be interesting!!! :-)  But, even if he doesn't find it, we will have Emme.  And, that's all that really matters!

P.S  Brutus Buckeye's sister is a manager at our pool!!:-)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Please sing the words Hallelujah as sung in the chorus of Handel's Messiah!!! 

Because, guess what???


2 years, 7 months, 7 days, trip after trip to FedEx, 
lots of prayer, buckets of tears, and hundreds of phone calls later.... we finally got to hear the words we've have dreamed about... your travel approval is here!!!!!!!  You can go get your daughter!

The dates still need to be confirmed but it looks like we will leave about August 27. Approximately 24 hours later, we will seeBeijing, China

We will tour there for a couple of days.  Then we will fly very south to Nanning in the Guangxi province (it borders Vietnam).

It is there that a stranger will hand us one of the four most precious gifts we have ever been given!
Then, we will fly to Guangzhou where everything will culminate in an oath at the US Consulate on September 8.  Bringing us back to the good ol' USA about September the 10th.  When that plane touches US soil, Emme will be citizen of the United States of America!

I have very few other words at this point.  I am overwhelmed with God's goodness.  3 years ago this was a dream that, to be honest, I thought it would always be a dream.  God has so far provided every single penny we needed.  When we started, we barely scraped together the application fee.  And, although through some of the last few months God seemed absent, he really had me in the palm of His hand protecting me.  From what, I don't know.  I may never know this side of Heaven.  But, as I watch things come together now, he was taking all my desires and putting them in a beautiful package.  Sometime soon, I'll unwrap it for you.

Until then, I'll give you a sneak peak.  

Adoption draws together people who are on the same journey.  I have been blessed to have been given several friends to encourage me. Friends I have never met in person, just communicated with online.  One of those dear people has been a lady named Sharla.  I want Sharla to be my neighbor and my REALLY good friend.  I'd settle for just having her in the same city.  Or, heck, the same state would be okay too!  Anyway, I just wanted to share the email she sent me tonight.  She always makes me cry when she writes.  I followed her on her journey to pick up her precious daughter, Abby just a couple of weeks ago.  (Followed her online.  I wasn't stalking her.)  I cried for two weeks reading her posts!   To me, she has been a glimpse of heaven on earth.

Hi E-mail, wish you were near, friend!

I was SO EXCITED to see your announcement on RQ! What wonderful news!! I can’t wait to follow your journey, I know it’s going to be amazing because the “enemy” has tried so hard to de-rail it. God must have something incredible in store for you and your family and this precious child.

I love Habakkuk 1:5, “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

I can’t wait to watch and be utterly amazed!


Monday, August 4, 2008

New news

This morning our agency said that our TA should be here this week or that they ARE sending it this week. They have to have it in hand before they can make our consulate appointment. They anticipate being able to get us in with the next group. That means we would travel Aug 27-Sept 10!!! Right when we were supposed to get a paid vacation with Paul's parents to the beach. I am not complaining. It is just crazy how this has gone. I feel like we are in a constant battle. Also, let's not forget that the TA actually has to show up this week!

Friday, August 1, 2008

No words

There are no words to describe how we feel right now! Everyone else at our agency received their TA's today... except us...again. Crying!