USCIS & I-800A! What the heck is that!?! Funny you should ask because I really don't know either! All I know is we received an email yesterday saying our home study has been approved! YAY!!! In the same email was a note from our agency stating when we receive our home study in the mail, we need to fill out a few more papers and mail it to the United State Government. If we send it all in before the 23rd of this month, we would be saving $75. Ok, that sounds good. We love a discount! Here was the catch, we received the email on the afternoon of the 20th. Our home study agency was mailing us the home study packet that day. That did not give us much time to get the packet, fill out the papers and send it all in BEFORE the 23rd. So today, Jason met our social worker at her office in Murfreesboro (about 45 minutes out of the way) to get our home study packet. He then ran that to me at my office we both signed everything and he drove to the nearest Fed Ex to drop it off. If we got it there before 6:00 pm tonight, it would reach the USCIS by tomorrow! Fingers crossed! We made the 6:00 deadline and are now praying it gets to it's designated arrival before the 23rd! Come on, Christmas Miracle!
We were excited, but scrambling too! Hoping this gets out in time and makes it before the 23rd. Yes, $75 isn't ALL that much money in the grand scheme of this, but we also feel like we need to be good stewards of our funds, and if that means working extra hard and making a special trip then it was worth it.
Here is the mailer going into the Fed Ex overnight shipping station. With this mailer, next comes a few appointments and paperwork that will take at most about 90 days. After this we will be officially "logged in". The timeline is still a bit fuzzy, but we hope to be logged in by March. After that we will just be waiting to be matched with our little one. It seems this is moving quickly and it's so exciting! Even our agency consultant today said our process is moving a lot quicker than normal. I can only credit that to the Lord. I have no doubt our child is waiting in China right now and God is protecting him/her and giving that little one peace while he/she waits on Mom & Dad to come.
Soon little one!! We are working on it as hard as we can! I'm praying this is our last Christmas without our 4th member and the last Christmas you have to spend without your family.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!!
"Where are you in the process? When will you get your child?" Those are questions that I get asked it seems daily. In short, we are waiting. We hurried and scurried to gather documents and paperwork and my daily lunch hours were filled with errands and scrambling...and now we wait. We still have more paperwork to do to be officially "on the list", but for now we wait. This hurry up and wait is a tough business. Seems I do much better when I have a list to check off and I am the one to check those things off. But this is where I have to pass the baton. Like Hebrews 6:15 says "Having waited....I realized and obtained what God has promised" I paraphrazed, of course, but just knowing that patience is going to be rewarded with our precious little child, is something I can deal with. The only way to deal with it, really. We know God designed this entire plan and had His hand on it from the very beginning, even before we realized what His plan was! And now we wait on Him and His timing. There is beauty in the waiting.
Last Thursday evening I sent off our first mailer. You can read about that here. It was exciting, obviously. After I sent it off I felt a big relief. That part, that had taken me 2 months to complete, was taken care of. WHEW! That was last Thursday. More than a week later, on Saturday morning, at 4:00 a.m. I woke up and realized I never heard if the mailer made it! Our agency said they would let me know they received it, it was supposed to be there in two days, I heard nothing. I was wide awake. I laid there and tried to sleep. Thoughts and anxieties were creeping up on me. The "what if's" kept running through my head. "What if it didn't get there? What if it's still sitting in the FedEx box never having been delivered? What if I have to do all that paperwork over again? What if it ended up in Russia or something?" Yeah, that last one was not even a bit logical, but I was anxious and thoughts were spinning! I got up finally about 6:30 and emailed our agency, even though I knew they were closed for the weekend and I more than likely wouldn't hear back until Monday morning.
So what did I do with all this anxiety?! First, I panicked. Not a good idea. I did however put it to good use because I cleaned out my dresser drawers. I have been needing to do that for a while and what better time than at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning! Before coffee!!! That is how much energy I had! Crazy!
Then once that was complete I realized where I really needed to lay my anxiety down, at the feet of Jesus. I texted some friends who I know are close to Jesus and asked them to pray. They all did. I prayed and read some verses that was sent to me and did my daily quiet time with Him. I felt a peace wash over me. It was calming, relaxing and I felt free. Free from the bondage of fear, anxiety, nervous energy and worry it all just fell right off. I was at peace. I knew God had taken care of that packet and He personally delivered it to where it was supposed to be.
That peace was truly a gift. I had an extremely busy weekend and I knew I didn't need for this to cloud my mind. That picture was sent to me from a new friend and it really helped. God gave me that gift of peace. Saturday passed.....Sunday passed. I hardly thought of my "terrible, awful, horrible" situation. The one that woke me up at 4:00 a.m. straight out of bed on a SATURDAY! The day I get to sleep in! God had taken it away so much that I didn't even remember it until last night at church a friend who I had asked to pray about it brought it up to me. I had forgotten about this thing that consumed me all Saturday morning! Thank you, Jesus that it no longer consumed me!
I let His peace rule over me and through me and all over me. Not saying this happens every time I feel anxious or worried, but this weekend was a win!
This morning, I received an email at 7:54 a.m. from our adoption agency saying they had received our packet and had already started the certification process. Thank You Lord!! You are the Prince of Peace and as my friend reminded me, Job 42:2 says:
I have no doubt this adoption is His plan for our family and no one or thing can prevent that from taking place. Not even a FedEx packet.
That is a HUGE relief to even type. Mailer one is in the mail! That just means the last two months of gathering documents, going to the sheriff's office for a background check, going to the doctor for a complete physical, calling and ordering new birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, getting all of these said documents notarized, dated & completely filled out to perfection is done! WHEW! That is one check that I will gladly mark off the list. There were 29 documents in this packet and our blood, sweat & tears were on each one. Thankfully not literally because China would reject it, but figuratively...most definitely!
Now this doesn't mean we are finished with our Dossier. It just means step one is done. We have 2 other "mailers" we will need to send out and those luckily aren't as extensive as the first. Mostly just our home study papers and some other Chinese forms that are needed. Still highly important documents needed...but not so much on the errand end. Which let's be honest, took up most of our time!
This is me...loading our first mailer into our local Fed Ex box...praying everything gets to it's intended destination! You should have seen my face. There's a reason I didn't take a picture of it, and it's not just because I was trying to do some cool photo op with one hand and actually taking the picture with the other. (Mostly) But my face had one thousand emotions on it. Excitement, worry, anxiety, thrill, joy, impatience and annoyance! Mostly the annoyance was because we have no local Fed Ex pick up place with an actual person...and there was no way I was waiting any longer to mail this very important packet than I had to and Jason taking it to Nashville on MONDAY wasn't cutting it. Also because daylight savings time is dumb. This was 5:30 in the evening, people, it looks like MIDNIGHT! Come on!
But nonetheless, it was sent and prayed over and I have fully trusted God with our little labor of love packet. God is in control of everything, our country, our states, our communities, our families and our little packet that I so want to arrive in one beautiful piece. God is in control.
Now on to mailer 2!
I really don't like talking about money. It's just not my favorite subject. It's awkward and personal. That being said, we wanted to be as transparent as possible when it came to the fundraising and "money" part of this adoption. So many of you have supported us financially and we felt it only right to update on where we are with our goal.
So far we have done two big fundraisers. A HUGE yard sale the day before my birthday, October 1st and a t-shirt fundraiser that just closed up. Both of which were very successful. It was amazing to see people dropping off items to donate and people we didn't even know donating items! It was incredibly humbling. My bosses allowed me to use our parking lot for the sale, which made it an even bigger success because we are on the main street through town. We had everything including a kitchen sink! It was overwhelming. Some shoppers even donated their change to our adoption when purchasing. I keep saying it was humbling and it really was. Even still, just now, when I'm thinking about it I have tears, because of all the generosity of folks from our town and beyond, we were able to pay for our entire home study and our first two payments to our agency. It was incredible!
This day, according to my Fit Bit I walked 10,000 steps before 8:00 AM! It was a very tiring but hugely successful day!
We had friends who helped sort during the week and price items. They also showed up at 4:00 am on Saturday to help us get everything set up. We will forever be grateful to those people.
Our next fundraiser just finished. Oh my...what another huge blessing it was! We sold 134 of these t-shirts!!! I couldn't believe it! That is awesome!! Everyone who bought a shirt...THANK YOU!! Jason and I designed these shirts and we are so humbled by the response. God has truly blessed in this effort. We both thought this verse fit in so many aspects. We also are adopted by God, if you are a believer. He came for us. Now in His timing, we will go for our sweet China baby. We will come. We will not leave that child as an orphan. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for not leaving us as orphans! (No..I won't preach...but I could!) :-)
We aren't done yet, obviously, we have a ways to go! But, so far we have raised about 35% of our total goal which is $35,000. And we have had to pay about 20% of that total so far, for some "main" things, which includes agency & home study payments and such. That total doesn't include all the documents needed that we have had to order, passports and various expenses that we have taken care of. Luckily, it is not all due at one time and we are really working hard to do this debt free. We are feverishly saving money and cutting corners. Once our home study is complete, which we are hoping by the end of the month it will be, we can start applying for grants. We are working hard to be good stewards of our money, time, gifts and donations. Every penny donated is going towards bringing our little China baby home. People have already asked us, "Why does it cost so much?" The simple answer is that all babies cost a lot. But one thing we've reminded ourselves is that we are not "buying a baby" we are paying the people to help us get a baby. The agency, the home study, the Chinese Consulate, the orphanage, everything involved and every paper we have to sign costs. That is just the way this works. And our biggest comfort is knowing this is what God has called us to. We are reminded everyday that "He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 And He has already proven that to us.
Our hearts are so full!! THANK YOU! xiè xie - 谢谢
Several people have asked us, "What made you want to adopt and why China and how's it coming?" I started this blog a year ago thinking this would just be a cool place to post some of our little projects we like to do. Little did I know, that this would be the place I would share my heart and our story of love, loss and a new direction for our family.
Jason and I always knew we wanted more children. Tucker is absolutely amazing, obviously, he's ours and we are a little bias. We figured once he got to be around 4 we would start trying again for another little one. With Tucker's pregnancy I had an "issue" in the very beginning where I had to go to the ER in the middle of the night. It was horrific. I was 8 weeks pregnant and started bleeding heavily. We rushed to the ER, which was my first time to ever go to the emergency room, and waited there all night. We got there around 11:00 pm and finally got home around 7:00 am. After all that waiting we had no idea if our sweet little baby inside me was even alive. Finally they told us the baby was fine. They weren't sure what caused all the bleeding, but I had to be watched carefully. For the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy I felt like I was on pins and needles every time I went to the doctor. I wasn't sure what they would hear, if anything. Fast forward 4 years later and he's here, he's healthy and he is so loved. We now know what caused the bleeding was a miscarriage of his twin.
So fall of 2015 we decided Tucker needed to be a big brother. We had tried for 4 months with no luck. I prayed and prayed and it just wasn't happening. Finally, one morning, the test read positive! AHHH! So excited!! A bit apprehensive, but still this is what I had been dreaming of. Jason & I were thrilled. I was going to have an October baby! October is my favorite month, it's not only my birthday month, but it's just the best month. I mean, come on, leaves changing, pumpkins, crisp mornings, beautiful colors! Yeah, I was so excited to be having my own little pumpkin in October. We couldn't wait to tell our families we were going to be a party of 4! So we did! We told them at 8 weeks. We felt like with the issues early on in Tucker's pregnancy, we could use all the prayers we could get. They were so excited!! And we felt their prayers.
That following week I had a doctor's appointment. They said it looked like I wasn't as far along as I thought. I thought to myself, "I don't think you understand, I've been tracking everything, so I'm spot on!" After some more tests, they found out I had a miscarriage early on in this pregnancy. The baby just stopped growing at about 5 weeks. I know you mothers out there can relate, it doesn't matter if you are 9 days pregnant or 9 months, once that stick says positive, that is YOUR child and you are instantly in love. I was in love with this child growing inside me. When I heard those words, "miscarriage" I was heart broken. I lost a child I never got to meet. It was a very hard time, but I'm so thankful for a Good, Good Father who wrapped His loving arms around me and held me close during that time.
After a month of treatments, due to a doctor that is no longer my doctor, I finally had a D & C and could hopefully try again soon.
Once the healing took place, both physically and emotionally, the thought of having another child naturally just didn't feel right. It seemed like God just didn't have that in His plans for us. I had been in a bible study by Jen Hatmaker (if you don't know her, you need to. She loves Jesus and strives to be His hands and feet) and during that study I just became totally convicted. Her prayer was for God to give her a holy passion and I began praying that same thing. "God, give me a holy passion. Help me be your hands and feet. Show me how you want me to live." And through that, adoption came into my heart...very heavily. I mentioned it to Jason...his immediate response was "NO", not because he's against adoption, but just because it seemed like such a far reach for us and pretty much impossible. So I began praying for his heart and for mine to be sure this was coming from God and not just me. I've always wanted to adopt, especially internationally, but I never thought it would be possible. It's expensive, it's non-traditional, it's time consuming, it's expensive. Yes, I said expensive twice, because ya'll it is! But I began praying, seeking God and learning how to discern His voice above the rest.
Months passed and we were still praying.
We were able to visit our best friends over Labor Day weekend. They had just brought their daughter home from China in July. We were able to talk to them about the process. On the way up there for the visit Jason and I talked about adopting. He was still a no, because of all those reasons I said, oh and did I mention it's expensive!? Yes, well that was his biggest reason. Again, I prayed. And I didn't pray for God to change Jason's heart, I prayed that whatever God wants for us that Jason and I would be on the same page. We both would agree to the answer God has chosen for us. We both prayed that prayer. We both wanted what God has for us. And we both prayed that God would reveal Himself to us in His timing and in His way on what His plans for us were.
I like to think a miracle happened in that weekend. On Friday when we left for the visit, Jason was sayig, "No, I just don't think we can adopt, I will pray about it, but I don't think we can." On Monday, on our way back home, he was saying, "Yes, this is what God wants for us." So immediately I thanked God for answering our prayer and I began researching adoption agencies.
We both felt called to China. Once I felt God calling us to adopt, I began researching different countries, including domestic, and Jason and I knew God was saying China. I won't get into all the details of the China program, but it suited our family and we both feel like our child is in that country.
We prayed and found a wonderful agency to use and our home study agency was a God send as well. We have seen God's hand over this entire process. It's been miraculous already and we are just in the beginning stages. We still have a long while to go before we travel, and right now we are getting all of our documents in order for the Dossier. That is all the important papers the US and China need to have in order for us to be in their system and we can be "logged in". We ask for continued prayers as we journey on. Thank you all for your support! I will keep you posted...until then...I'll say,用爱和祈祷 (Yòng ài hé qídǎo) which means with love and prayers in Chinese.
Harmon Party of 4
This project was one of those, think it & do it kind of things. I literally had this thought, and by that evening, it was complete! I love it & I love my husband for having all materials on hand & having the willingness to do it!
Here you see pallet wood & 1/4" plywood, smooth plywood. He cut the wood down to size and I painted the plywood with chalk paint.
And here it is! Chalk Board! I love love love it! This was just what we needed for the back entry way wall.
We completed this project just before Easter, so I thought this verse was very fitting for the season.
I'm "chalking" this project up as a success! HA! See what I did there! :-)
More to come.....just wait!
In case I haven't mentioned it before, our house was built in 1979. I say that because I feel like for it to be built in the midst of typical ranch style homes - it really has an open feel. It has elements that are ahead of it's time, which was great for us. The closet in the master was one of those elements. It was actually really big! However, having a big closet and having a functional closet are two totally different things. It originally had a metal closet organizer in there. Which in all reality was not organizational at all. It left a lot of dead space. I'll not bore you with a ton of closet pictures, as that is not what this blog is all about. If you would like to see the entire closet before & after ...send me a message. I'll be happy to show you.
This is why we have come here today. This embarrassing, unorganized, waste of space in my closet. However, on a good day, the hamper tends to reside in that cubby, but let's be honest, most days he's waiting on me to unload him in the laundry room. Sigh...
So what should we do with this dead space?! How do I get it organized!? Yeah - that's a tough one. Until we stumbled upon these.
Hubs was helping some friends move and they were giving these away! Yes FOR FREE! It was the best day!
Now to the untrained eye, these may look like typical school lockers, but for professionals like myself (and by "professionals" I mean those that can search Pinterest like a crazy person) these were the perfect closet storage accessory.
We painted of course. That's pretty much my favorite thing to do. (Side note: I called my Dad this weekend and first thing he asked me before I could even say anything was "What are you painting?" HA! I said "How'd you know?" He said, "It's a Saturday and you're home." True - very true. And he was right. I was painting the foyer, but that's a later post)
The lockers did need a few layers of paint, so hubs, being the excellent man he is, painted those. We just used a typical white spray paint. He also taped off the numbers to each locker!
They are slowing coming together. We cut off the bottom legs and let them dry. They were ready. I was so excited.
It is perfect! Tons of storage & even space left over! What do you guys think?
School is back in session at the Harmon House!
This past weekend we did a little antiquing around town. I wasn't looking for anything in particular (which is the best kind of looking) and I stumbled upon this gem.
Gem? I think so. My family wasn't seeing it...but I did. It was in the back part of this particular store, in the sale section...or the a.k.a "been here so long no one wants me so I'm practically free" section. I scored this gem for $10! Now the only question was if it worked!
I started out by taking the plastic pieces out. Lucky for me they just clipped in!
I hung this from a tree and covered the light fixtures with painters tape. Then I spray painted it with this spectacular product! It seriously worked better than I imagined! (Cute model..right!? Yeah - he's a professional)
Coming together....right?! Are you seeing it now?!
I decided I didn't care for the middle "bars" that went around the fixture...so hubby removed them. No clue what sort of tool it was..but it was awesome. Removed & a little touch up paint later and voila!!
We put this light in our dining room. Although our fixture before was ...ok...nothing wrong with it...it just didn't have personality or uniqueness. Here's what we had before....
I love how this turned out! Even the hubs said "it's pretty cool" which is HUGE for him! Ha.
Now onto the next project! Lots of things in store folks, so stick around!
The laundry room is typically not my most favorite place to be. The room itself means work. Washing, drying, folding, ironing...it never ends. Our laundry room was definitely not a favorite room in the house, nor was the storage that was in there. The house was built in the 70's which means there are quite a few 70's elements we are slowing but surely updating/replacing. One of those elements was the laundry room storage. There were several shelves hung on the walls, (sorry for the lack of pictures) which meant all laundry & cleaning supplies were scattered about willy-nilly and it drove me crazy! There was no organization and definitely no sense of "style". We removed the shelves, painted the laundry room a beautiful gray, which is quickly becoming a favorite color of mine, and were left with clean walls, but nowhere to store all of the said laundry & cleaning supplies. Creativity has commenced.
We knew we needed some sort of closed cabinet, and something we could either DIY or repurpose. We like the unusual. The key to this process is patience. We spent many Saturdays scouring antique stores & many evenings on Craigslist looking for just the right thing at just the right price. Then we found this gem.......
As soon as I saw it I knew it was the one. Solid wood...and TONS of potential. We found it at a local antique store for $80. It was perfect. I couldn't wait to get it home & work some magic.
With a little help, off we went. I first took the top "shelving" unit off. Sanded the cabinet a bit to help it grab the paint. Removed all hardware and went to painting. I used an old can of paint/primer we had here. Solid white. After I was finished with that, I thought it needed a little something else. (Again, sorry for the lack of pictures) So I got out my trusty sanding pad & began distressing the cabinet. It worked pretty well. Then I got really brave & tried this....
This stuff is AMAZING! It was so easy to do! (I feel this needs a disclaimer so here goes - *I am in no way being paid to endorse this product, I'm just a satisfied customer.*) I put this on after painting. I mixed a small amount of this with my white paint. Brushed it on and then took a rag and wiped it clean. It was so easy & I loved the results! Here are the after photos ....what I know everyone was waiting on. ;-)
I just loved how distressed it looked after using the antiquing glaze! I had the knobs leftover from a previous project, so they were perfect for this.
OH! And here's here's the best part....the top is an ironing board! Yes, that's right! We put batting under there and can now use that for our ironing board! Two birds...one stone! Ha - no pun intended! Love it! The hubby came up with that idea and I was quite impressed!
So that's it. That's our new storage for the laundry room and I could not be happier. It literally just took a day to do too!
Now...I think I'll go catch up on my ironing....maybe.