Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The story Continues...

The first moment I saw Julia.
 A special prompting from my girl friend to finish Julia's story on the blog...so where did we end up? Oh yes, I had a phone call that changed our life. A daughter had been born. A baby girl. Did I mention that Clara prayed. She prayed. Every.Single.Day.For.A.Sister.  I still cry when I think about God's great mercy and lavish love on us in this small detail. Agh! A sister for my daughter. A gift I could not guarantee! But God in His great love designed this for Clara. (and for us).  Back to the story. I ran around the house screaming "It's a girl!!" I may have scared the kids. I also tried to get things ready, packed and organized but I had no order in my brain. I tried to make plans.
I tried to organize babysitting for the kids. I found myself starting one thing, like packing my bag, only to stop half way through to pack the kids bags.

Making "plans" in adoption is not recommended. Whatever you plan is going to change. And change quickly.  We went from slowly making our way to the hospital by the evening (giving Owen time to get home from work and getting the kids off to sitters) to us needing to be at the hospital immediately. Owen had moved onto mowing lawns (a side job--have I mentioned that my husband is the energizer bunny?) I called him about 12 times to no avail--but did manage to get myself a babysitter (thank you Jessica) and out the door to the hospital. I cried the minute I saw the case worker. Although I was trying to be strong and not become attached to a child that was not yet mine, my heart was already wrapped up with this baby.

I walked into the L&D ward and signed paper work where all the nurses were giving me "that look" that means they know who I am and what I am doing. More tears. I walked into the nursery and there were several babies--which one was mine? That was the weirdest feeling. ever. I walked to a corner to a very agitated baby. And they told me this was her. "Where can I wash my hands so I can hold her?" You can't hold her yet...she is being observed. Talk about ripping my heart out. I stood there with that ache. You know that ache to comfort. To rock. To shush. To hold. To love. It was awkward. I tried to win the nurses over just so I could hold her. To tell her that I was her mommy. That I would love her all my days. They did not budge. Baby girl needed to be moved to the NICU step down unit for observation. Gather my things and go to the main lobby--Owen finally figured out I was at the hospital so he high tailed it there too.

This waiting period for us to be able to hold her was also God's mercy. I was crazy thinking I would meet our child before Owen.  When in fact God already designed for us to have our first really intimate moments with her together. When Owen got to the hospital we went to the NICU. When we walked into that room the nurses and doctors treated us like we were already Julia's parents...we chose not to call her the name we had picked in the hospital--not until papers were signed!

The doctors and nurses gave us a prognosis and expectation to be in the hospital for at least six weeks.  Although I understood what they were saying, I know the God we serve and I chose to cling to the hope he had put in my heart. I told every doctor and nurse that we had 100's of people praying for this sweet little baby and that we would not be here that long...
Owen holding Julia for the first time...he looks so long--kinda like a first time daddy--but not. See the finger holding the paci in the mouth? That's an old trick of the trade!
 Regardless of time frames, I saw our time in the NICU as a honeymoon of sorts. It was not going to be just me and Julia when we got home! I soaked up every moment I could with just the two of us. We are so grateful for the friends and family who watched our kids during our stay.
Although the plan was for me to just stay for the evening, I could not stand the thought of leaving her...so I stayed. I left periodically to allow for our birth mom to come and visit on her own time by herself. We texted regularly in the hospital.
First bottle from mommy. Little did I know how much this babe liked to eat!
 Our first morning together was so sweet. I was able to meet the staff and then they set up a massage for Julia. Learning the things that would bring great comfort to her was my mission. We had some scary moments in the hospital--our birth family understandably had some doubts about letting go of this precious gift. Details are not important--and really they are private just for our families--but God had a perfect plan for peace for both  of our families.
 On Saturday morning, we had a fantastic nurse named Debbi. I will never forget her even if I never see her again. On Saturday despite some uncertainty, we decided to have Clara, Judah and Wesley come in and meet their new baby sister. The second that nurse met the other kids, she said she was going to advocate for us to get home ASAP. I could have jumped on her like a sack of potatoes and cried and hugged her! She did her job for sure. On Monday, when Debbie happed to be on shift again, the doctor walked in and said we were being discharged later that afternoon. God of wonders! Prayers were answered. God used a nurse. God used Julia to declare his Great Name!
we are outta here!
Our birth family came back to the hospital after their release and had their time of goodbye for Julia. We were blessed enough to be able to share in some of that time with them and we were able to take pictures too. I cherish those, but wont be sharing those publically.
Our physician came in and encouraged me to put this time behind me...to forget that Julia ever needed a time in the NICU...I heed that warning in some ways, but I also disregard it in others...there is no mother who forgets the details of the first days. Each time I woke in the night to feed her, comfort her, the first time she pooped, the first cry I heard, the first time I was able to comfort her as her mommy, her first bath...no I'm not going to forget that. The last time her birthparents gave her back to us...no I will NEVER forget that.

We hopped in the car and went to pick up the boys at our friends home not far from the hospital. Then we went home to meet up with Clara and introduce Julia to all the cousins. Such joy and disbelief. It's hard to put it all into words.
Julia has over come so much already in her short life. Knowing her story--the details that may never be shared--make me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was created before the dawn of time to be a part of our family. She was created to be a Maurer. She has a purpose. She is a gift. She is treasured. She is a sister. She is a daughter. She is loved.
There is more to come from this tiny girl. Cant wait to share it here...
Meanwhile outside of our welcoming baby mode, we have had a fantastic wedding, a funeral (that was the most beautiful funeral ever) and a broken leg. There's never a dull moment at the Maurer house!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

One Month In...

Wow. What a whirl wind. I can hardly believe we have already had Julia in our family for 1 month! How fast this time flies. Every child we have added, I have felt their newness flee quicker and quicker and this is no exception. She changes every day and each day becomes more and more grafted into our family. It really is a beautiful thing.

This sweet baby girl has an amazing story--at some point I believe I will be able to share more but now is not the time. What we can share is God's great mercy, provision and grace throughout this whole situation. I have written several times about the way that God has provided for this adoption and the finalization was a GRAND FINALLY.

My previous post was about how we had gotten a house and how God had really moved to make all the ends meet and timing work out to move etc. What I chose not to mention in that post was that the day before we moved, we got a phone call about a birth mom that the agency wanted to show our profile.  We said yes--knowing very little information. The next day (moving day) I received a phone call from Life Song for Orphans (our funding agency) and they were calling to say that they had re-reviewed our profile and they decided to give us a matching grant. The amount finished out our entire account. That means our adoption was ENTIRELY funded. The day after we got a phone call about a potential birth mom--hmmm. Why would God do that?

Meeting Noni for the first time--Noni drove with Puff all night long to meet her!
I am so grateful that we were VERY busy moving that weekend so my mind was somewhat preoccupied with all the projects we were doing. I was exhausted. After 4 days of major overhaul, we were settled in the new house. Pictures to come. I promise. All through the move and the craziness that is moving a family of 5 into a new house I had a sense that we were going to be a family of 6 very soon. Talk about motivating us to get settled!

Meeting Grandma for the first time. 
Wednesday I was dying to hear from a case worker--any case worker. At the very end of the day I got a call from a blocked number--I knew. The words that would bring peace and fear. Joy and anxiety. Excitement and nervousness. "Hi Emily, I am calling to tell you that ________________ has chosen you and Owen to raise her baby."  Insert hyperventilation here. Although I knew that this call was preliminary, we still had to have a meeting and formally agree, I knew in my heart that this was going to happen.

We met our wonderful, beautiful, birth mom five days later. It was a very tender hour. It is a time I will hold in my heart to share with Julia for all my days. Oh if we could convey the deep love we have for this young woman and the heartache we have for her. Too much for words. She confirmed in our meeting that she was 100% sure that we were the ones for her child--gender yet unknown.

Meeting great Grandma for the first time (Great Grand baby #13)
Fast forward 2 1/2 weeks--we had on and off communication with our birth mom--Although I had some anxiety, I had overwhelming peace too. It's weird to be battling things in my mind/heart that I have dealt with my whole life (control and anxiety) and then be blanketed with such a peace from God that those things were made minimal.

meeting Great Grandpa for the first time. 
Thursday September 19, I received a text from our birth mom (the first after several days) asking me to call her in a few minutes. Of course I called right away at the appointed time and there was no answer. A friend showed up and found me in a very anxious state and in obedience to the Lord she prayed with me. She left and another friend showed up and helped entertain the kids and make lunch etc. One of our pastors from church called to check in and said he felt lead to pray for us and our adoption so we did over the phone. About 10 minutes later the case worker called.  "Emily, I have some news. ___________________ went into labor and had a baby girl yesterday evening."

Words that changed our lives forever.

 More to come...yes we are tired. But we are in love. she is definitely attaching into our family. God's mercy is so rich.

Friday, September 27, 2013

She is Here. She is Ours.

SURPRISE! We welcomed a daughter into our family this week! 
Julia Renee Maurer was born on September 18 at 5:58 pm. We learned about her the next morning. Oh we are in love. 
 Clara is more excited than I can express on the blog--look at her eyes in this picture. I have NEVER seen that look in them. God was so gracious to give her exactly what she has prayed for every.single.day for the last 1 1/2 years. Talk about a great lesson for her.
 We had a 5 day stay in the NICU--our care was FANTASTIC. Seriously. The nurses, staff and doctors were so respectful of us and our birth family. It really was a beautiful scenario. Although it was a great place to be cared for, we were thrilled to be leaving and get home to being a family of 6.
 Wesley is the only one who is "still on the fence" about this little peanut de-throning his long reign as the baby of the family.
 Judah is in love.
 She is beautiful and has a dimple. Gah! I LOVE.
We are adjusting well to being a family of 6 so far. Please continue to pray for us as we welcome this precious gift into our family. Please also keep the birth family in your hearts and prayers. They love this little girl so so much. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

We're Moving--Only God could do it like this!

If you haven't heard this story--read it as a reminder that God has all things in His hand. If you have heard it, read it again as a reminder that God has ALL things in His hands.

Since we moved into Tom and Joy's home, I have had an MLS listing open. We have a dear friend who happens to be a Realtor and so she agreed to open an account for me. In the almost 2 years that I have had the MLS open, there have been 3 houses that we've "looked at" with any sort of interest. Owen and I had a list of things that we needed and a list of things that we wanted in a home. Just to be clear, these were not things like granite counter tops, stainless appliances, upgrades throughout, or beautiful decor--these were things like square footage, storage options, yard space and hosting capabilities and enough bedrooms for our babies.

I regularly showed Owen photos of homes that were interesting or absolutely atrocious. He got annoyed. He got really annoyed this summer and told me flat out to not send him one more stinkin' home until November. So I kept looking but nothing was coming up. We went on vacation and the same 67 homes were still there when I got back and nothing new came up. Then on a whim after a week of not checking the listing I pulled it up...I saw a detached garage that I knew Owen would love, read the details of the house and called him at work--he was annoyed. He was not able to pull up the link I sent him. He was more annoyed. I begged him to look it up on google maps. He did.

Our conversation went like this:
Me: Did you look at the house?
Owen: Yeah, I'm looking at it on the maps right now--we could have Alice meet us there this afternoon maybe it would be worth it.
Me: OK. That sounds good.
Owen: Actually--I am going to take a half day. I will meet you and Alice there at noon.

Fast forward: I pull up to the house and I have goosebumps all over my body. It was like the Holy Spirit was whispering to me that this was our future home. I get out of the car with the kids (trying not to cry because who cries when you go and see a house that you know you might not get?) and Owen was already there--he told Alice to write a full price offer without even seeing the inside of the house. Ahh I love my decisive husband.

Needless to say we love everything about the house and we rush home to get the paperwork started. We  called our loan guy and he flat out tells us we don't qualify--Devastation. Confusion. Working every angle. We talked for the next 48 hours about how we could make this loan work, talked about selling our other property and then we finally realized our loan officer was looking at our old tax records.

You may think that we would be frustrated by this--but really we saw this as the Lord's great protection on us from rushing into this decision--remember we are decisive. After looking at the local market comps, driving around the neighborhood and thinking & praying a lot, we decided we would offer significantly lower than the asking price. Additionally I wrote an appeal letter to the seller to let them know how much we LOVED their property.

Monday came and our loan officer let us know that he was looking at the wrong records and that we did in fact qualify to make a full price offer. We told him we were planning to make an under asking price offer and so we proceeded with the paperwork. We also learned that there was one full price offer and one offer significantly higher than ours. We waited for 2 days. Wednesday came and I got a call from our Realtor--she had her very calm voice on. She told us that the seller accepted our offer and just LOVED that she would be selling to a young family. She had raise her 5 children in that home and wanted to see the home she loved entrusted to another family. Who does that?

I'll tell you who does that--God! I truly believe that God had already hand picked this home out for our family. We have said all along when folks would ask that we know that God has the perfect home for us and He will bring it to us in the perfect timing. I fully believe that God placed a strong desire in the sellers heart to sell her home to a family--this home was designed by God to be ours.

God used the loan officers oversight to help us not rush into the purchase of the home at full price. God used the time it took for us to see the oversight for us to take a deep breath and calm down and decide what would be a more reasonable price for us. God provided us with a home that not only has all of our needs met, but also ALL of our wants...If you could have heard our conversations about what this house would need to be according to Owen and I, you would be laughing at how perfect this home is for us and our family.

Although I am preaching so much of this to myself these days (oh if you only knew how many times I have questioned if God was really going to provide for me...again) I want you to be encouraged knowing that whatever it is that is in front of you--He has a design and a plan that is so good. Trust Him that He has those circumstances in His hands. He cares about the details. He cares about the big picture. He cares about you and loves you more than you know. We are basking in that love this weekend as we move into our new home. We can't wait to invite you over!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Declaring His Faithfulness

So I'm not gonna lie...this has been a difficult season for the me personally--overall life is going fantastic, however, going through this adoption process has been challenging to me personally on many levels. Instead of continuing to stay where I have been the past several months, I am determined to declare God's faithfulness in this process! I record the "bullet points" below to help me remember all of the things that God has orchestrated just in this process--If you had told me two and a half years ago that we would be here (not physically, but emotionally & spiritually) I would not have believed you!

"I AM THE LORD. Is there anything too difficult for me?" Jeremiah 32:27

  • Providing an open door for our family to have more space. 2 years ago we decided we were out of space in our previous home. The bank told us we had no other options. But God had already planned for Tom and Joy's home to be 'relatively' vacant and of course He knew that Tom would continue to receive out of town job offers. He's provided me with the best in-laws ever who have opened their home to us, their grown children --and their grand children. It has been a blessing for us. 
  • A shift in thinking. After we decided to move, the relief of tight quarters and tight finances got our silly minds off of ourselves and more on the wonderful way that God had blessed us and showed us that we had more and more love to give to our children and to others. We determined that what we have (our family, our time, our treasures, our talents) are not just for us. 
  • An open heart to adoption. I think it's safe to say that 2 years ago when we barely had another housing option, adoption was a pipe dream. Removing the strain of needing more space and the vast ability to save money during this time freed our hearts and mind to draw closer to those who are closest to Jesus' heart (the orphan, the poor, the widow). 
  • A vehicle. After we decided to open our hearts to adoption and follow God's leading, we knew one of our first hurdles would be a new vehicle... God provided a giant car for us that will adequately fit several more children...for only $800. out of pocket. 
  • Adoption funds. Adoption is expensive and it's hard to wrap our minds around that. We originally committed our budget to save "first" for the adoption and second for the house. After much prodding by some close friends & the adoption agency, our hearts were more open to asking our friends and family to help us with our costs. We asked for half of what we needed to fund the adoption. God provided double what we asked. Talk about confirmation for our obedience! (some day I'll write a post just about this)
  • Changing of hearts. There have been some folks whom we love dearly that were confused about our choice of asking for our community to help fund our adoption. It's completely understandable! Unbeknownst to us, they struggled and struggled with this issue to the point that they were feeling a wedge between us...One day during their prayer/devotion time they said it was like a lightening bolt hit their house and their hearts did a complete 180 and they gave generously and with joy. Furthermore, they confessed their struggle to Owen and I and restored the relationship which is more valuable than anything! 
  • Uniting our family. Something that is such a blessing has happened over the past 14 months--our family, both Owen and I and the children are united in our hearts. It's something supernatural happening that our hearts are drawn together to pray for one common thing (our baby) every.single.day. The kids do it. I do it and most days I remind Owen to do it (he get's a pass on this one ya'll). My children have seriously prayed for this baby and hopefully any day now we can say to our kids, "Look! This is the baby that you have prayed for! God has answered your prayer". Talk about a hands on lesson. 
These are AMAZING things. What blows my mind is that this baby we long for is not even born yet (that we know of)...we do not know if this baby is even conceived (but pray daily that s/he is!) But God is already using all of these things to Declare His Faithfulness. He is already using this baby's story to shape our hearts and the hearts of those around us. Some may say that these things are just circumstances and just the way that things worked out--but I have had too many miraculous instances similar to these in my life to throw this to happenstance. God has a plan. He has a purpose. He is Sovereign over all of these tiny details and orchestrates every aspect of our lives. 

This waiting aspect of adoption is very hard. Through my crying out to God (literally) my heart has been turned to another mama that's on the other side of the waiting. As our waiting time draws to a close (hopefully), there is a birth mom who is agonizing during this time for another reason...her days with her child are quickly speeding away. My heart aches for this. There are no words to describe the conflict and silliness of my waiting when I consider her waiting. Please pray for our birth mom during this time! We pray that in the months to come we can learn our birth mom's story and help her Declare His Faithfulness during this difficult time in her life (albeit confidentially!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The post with a lot of pictures...

Our family went to Sacramento this past month to enjoy some time away from the heat...only it was the hottest week on record in Sacramento in a long time...haha for us. 

We drove which was another special thing. The trip there was fine...driving home was painful. We made it though and it was fun all in all

Here are the photo highlights. 
Hanging with the cousins

My dad trying to pass on his addiction to CamoGear! 

Hanging out with my dad in his beautiful backyard celebrating his retirement! 

My dad's handy work

Strike a pose.

This is my favorite picture of the week.

 This picture is special...I haven't seen my grandpa in about 2 years...I don't know that I have seen him as I remember him since I got married. He has dementia. He kept telling me how much he loved me--he had never told me that before. I soaked it all up. He also kept asking me, "Now which one of those children is named 'Clara'?" I told him it was my daughter. He'd say, "That's my mom's name." I would tell him that I knew that and that is who she is named after--to which he would reply, "that's the sweetest thing I've ever heard.". I will treasure that.
 I also go to see my junior high and early high school youth pastor. We had kept in contact through college, but I lost touch with her after I got married. This woman does not age. She looks exactly the same and of course sounds the same too. I love it. It was sweet to catch up.
 We visited my elementary school. Above is a colorful USA painted map on the playground where I played as a child. Below is me at the door of my kindergarten classroom.

Playing at noni's local park
 Three generations of Burkham women in a backyard where I spent much of my late elementary, Junior High and High School days.
 On the way home, as a way to give the kids an opportunity to get some energy out before we did the big long drive, we stopped at the Santa Monica beach. It was a perfect day and a great way to end our trip!

I have a lot of thoughts jumping around in my thoughts and a lot of things stirring in our life...all of which I will save for another post. But at least now our vacation of 2013 has been documented! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

9 Years

 9 years. I love Owen more now than I did then...He was a good man then, I just didn't know how good. I thought I was good then, but didn't know really how sinful & selfish I was--Owen never told me as much, but just loved me so good that I saw myself for who I really was...and although I have a long way to go, I have to believe that the way that Owen has loved me in a Godly way, he has opened my heart for God to do some major changing work in me. I love you babe! Thanks for loving me AND for making me more loveable


Waiting sucks. There I said it. Each day I walk a balance beam between being completely present for my kids and longing for one that we don't know. It's hard. We've been waiting for 7 months...average wait is 9-12 months so I anticipate that we have at least several more waiting months to go...but man it is more of a challenge than I anticipated.

We started waiting in November--to be honest the first 3 months flew by. It was Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years then I ran the half marathon. I also had a 2 year old that needed to be potty trained (read still needs to be completely potty trained)...I had a handle on the waiting and knowing that I had things to accomplish. But once all was "accomplished" the waiting has become this little thing that eats at my heart a little each day...I do all the things that need to get done each day, loving kids, cleaning, cooking, teaching, correcting, but it's with this little bit of (ok lot a bit) of longing. Owen and I exchange a text each morning that says, "pray that today is the day."

We are grateful for the waiting--we have had some very difficult things going on in our circle that we have needed to be 100% available for...obviously we have rejoiced that God has given us this waiting period without a newborn to be able to be there for those who have needed us. I was able to finish my first official year of homeschooling without interruption for which I am extremely thankful. It's so neat watching Clara flourish as a homeschooler (for the time being) and know that I was able to be 100% focused on her lessons. It's been fantastic to have a level of spontaneity in our schedule to just pack up and go somewhere without too much worry about napping schedules, feeding routines and all that a newborn baby can bring with it...we are grateful for this waiting time. I need to remind myself of that on a daily basis!

We have had a long time to talk with our children about waiting, praying and knowing that Jesus' plans are best. They totally get it! As we have prayed at meal time and bed time it blesses my heart to see my children ask the Lord in faith for a baby that they already love so much. They are praying for the birth mom to have peace in her difficult time...they are praying that they would learn how to love our "new baby"...they also have some qualifications for this new baby that makes us laugh!

Yes we are grateful for this time...even though it's hard. We know that God has not forgotten His promise to us, our desire to be obedient to Him and the longings of our hearts.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Living Life

Sista time away from children, Rach and I hung out by the pool, ate out dinner without kids which as happened  never in our entire remembrance, grabbed a chocolate flowerless cake from TJ's and ate an ungodly amount of it. We talked, laughed, cried and read...it was a sweet sweet time I will keep in my heart. 
 The past month and a half have been filled to the fullest...So much said, accomplished, completed, worked out, taught, learned, and life lived. Too much to keep an on-going regular blog at the moment. But I am thankful for INSTAGRAM (I know, I know, late freight party for 1). Here is a bevvy of pictured moments...
Snuggle time after naps. Me & her have exclusive time for about 30 minutes until the boys wake up. Learning how to play on the phone & read at the same time. 

Being home base for this crazy jumper at Flip Dunk...I love being home base for him and my two other little ones.  Every once in a while in the midst of the fun they are all having, they come and get a hug and then run off...I love knowing that they find security just in a quick embrace--never know when it will be the last time they do that before they grow out of the need. 

Homegrown yellow grape tomatoes. I am kind of glad my kids don't like them! 

Weekend trip up to Flagstaff AZ. Stayed at Uncle Roy & Aunt Lynn's house and had sweet (and slightly obnoxious) snuggle time in the morning. whenwillmychildrenlearnthejoyofsleepingin?

My new favorite picture. Gha! I love these kiddos. Hiking. Cooler weather, head lamps and lots of sticks (that are also called dicks). Tucking memories like this away. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

God can make me new...

We went to the butterfly Exhibit at the Arizona Botanical Gardens a few weekends ago. We have been studying the life cycle of butterflies--and the paralelles of how God changes our hearts from being lumpy, unattractive and self serving (like a caterpillar) into something that is beautiful & full of life (like a butterfly) by the changing power of the Holy Spirit. It's been a fantastic lesson for the kids and a wonderful timely reminder for me.
 OK--yes I realize this first photo is not of butterflies...we had our 100th day of school some time in april so I am just trying to commemorate it. Yes, I forced my children to pose in the 100 position so I could get this photo--no they did not like it.

 My little butterflies!

If you have not experienced the changing work of Jesus Christ in your life. Please leave a comment and I would love to talk with you via e-mail about that!