Monday, May 21, 2007


I'm not sure that I can fully process through the last's been really full. Are you ready?

Last Sunday, Josh went to Indiana to pick up his mom and bring her back to Lexington. She's decided to move out here and we are happy to have her. (She loves to clean...says it's theraputic. Who am I to stand in the way of therapy?) My brother's been living with us since December (He does not love to clean. He loves to make a mess.), my mother in law came in on Sunday...but somehow it all works and everyone's doing well. We've been trying to help Mona (my MIL) get situated here. Josh found a cool apartment for her near downtown and I found her two cats on CraigsList. (She really wanted a cat.) Mona's been coming with us to church at The Rock and she even went to a women's group on Tuesday. We think The Rock is an amazing place to be and it's been encouraging to see how excited Mona has been about being there too!

On Tuesday, our pastor's wife died. She had leukemia but that was in remission...she had other complications. It all happened so fast. She was only 36 years old and Aaron and Melissa have two young boys who are 6 and 4. I've just been really sad and I'm feeling a bit ripped off that we didn't get to know her because she's been so sick and weak over the year while Aaron's been at the church. I know I would have liked her and I know she would have loved working with our neighborhood kids. The thing that has truly brought comfort in all of this is that she loved Jesus wholeheartedly and I know that she is now in heaven and she isn't sick or weak anymore. I just hope I can be a good pastor and friend to John and Joseph (their boys.)

The thing that's been great to see is the reaction of all of the people...old and young, rich and poor, African, Hispanic, from the neighborhood...people have truly been saddened, concerned, wanting to help in any way. Aaron really has spent so much time trying to build bridges, have conversations, be present in the neighborhood. And the result is that people really do care about and respect him and they feel a piece of his loss with him now.

We had a fiesta tonight at the church. There were a bunch of people taking spanish classes and this party was a chance for them to interact with some of our spanish speaking church members. We ate ice cream. The kids played. People mingled. Hannah (she's 7) painted my face. Joanna spilled bubbles all over me. Graham wanted me to catch him on the slide. Aliya gave me a hug. Jared said he would be good (I think this was his way of apologizing for his behavior on Wednesday.) I'm starting to connect with the kids. They make me laugh. They are so full of life. They experience things with all of themselves. They don't hold back. They are so quick to give love. Wouldn't it be great if we didn't lose those qualities as we grew older.

Maggie Rogers was baptized today. It really was a beautiful baptism. She's getting so big. She's REALLY cute. I look at her and know that Katelyn will most likely be about Maggie's age. I pray that she's safe. I pray that the nanny's are drawn to her and give her extra love and care. I pray we can go and bring her home soon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

All Consuming

Througout this adoption process, I feel like I've done a pretty good job of keeping things in perspective and going with the flow. I mean really, what else can we do? I really believe that God has given me peace that at the end of this journey there is a little girl who will be just the right fit for our family.

But I must admit that in the last couple of months I think I've let my guard down a bit and the wait has just become all consuming and almost unbearable. There are a ton of people who had their paperwork logged-in in China in October and November of 2005 (we're December 27th) so it took four months to get through all of the October people (They've gotten through November 1st so far) and it's projected to take three or four months to get through the rest of November. So we're thinking October or November of this year for our referral now...But really, how many times have we moved that "projected" date out already? It takes 6-8 weeks to travel after getting a referral so is it possible that the adoption won't be complete before Christmas? I can hardly think of that possibility.

My heart is tired of waiting. At this point our baby really is born already and I know that she's in an orphanage somewhere half a world away and my heart aches to bring her home. I've discovered that adoption is not for the faint of heart. We thought that at this point we'd be getting ready to turn in paperwork for a second child already....But no...we still wait. It just doesn't seem like it should take so long. So many children in orphanages...hundreds of thousands and we just want one.

It's such a strange thing. I don't think an hour goes by where I don't think about the baby in some capacity. And really how do you share that with other people, because there's virtually no information that I have to report.

Josh and I have decided that we'll paint the nursery this summer but we won't get all of the furniture put together and decorations up until after we get a referral. We just don't want everything done until we know for sure that there's a child coming soon.

Okay...we can do this....16 1/2 months down!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Maybe I'm a little ADD...and maybe that's okay!

So I've been working at the church for a couple of weeks now and I have this really flexible schedule and kind of plan out my own week. I'm realizing that I might have a touch of attention deficit in me. You have to understand that there wasn't a full-time person in this position before me, so now I'm sitting here a bit overwhelmed and not quite sure where to start because there's lots to be done!

Last week I went to a couple of the Christian book stores to look through some different children's ministry curriculum and today I spent some time finding it online for as cheap as possible (because I'm frugal like that). In the middle of that I remembered that I needed to reply to a couple of e-mails so I did that... the whole time I'm conscious of the fact that it's 75 degrees and BEAUTIFUL outside so I decided that I "needed" to take a walk to see exactly where the church's community garden is going in, walk around Castlewood Park to see where everything was out there and think about things we could do with the kids at the park this summer and then walk down Devonia Ave. on my way back to the church because we have a couple of families that live on that street and I was hoping someone would be around. (I felt a bit like one of those Family Circle cartoons where you have the crazy dotted line that shows where little Billy has been all day.)

But this is why my ADD is a good thing (or okay at least). Sometimes it's easy for me to get focused on the tasks at hand and my to-do list and I lose track of what's most important. I walked by the house on Devonia where six of our kids live (siblings and cousins) and they were all outside playing...even mom and dad were on the porch. Little Aliya (3 years old) was so excited to see me and couldn't believe that her "teacher" was at her house. Kaitlin came out to the porch and said, "Miss Melissa, what are you doing here?" Cliff and Tonya (the mom and dad) were asking more questions about what will be going on for the kids this summer and they said they were glad I stopped by and could come by any time. My little walk ended up being the most valuable part of my day and I was so glad that I got to spend 15 minutes chatting with this family. I'm praying that I'll get lots of opportunities to get to know them better. (I think I just have to make sure that I'm outside on beautiful days!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Neighborhood kids

What does it mean to work with kids that have most things going against them? They're high risk from day one. Some have parents that aren't involved. Most are living at or below the federal poverty line I would guess. They've learned that violence and verbal aggression are the way to solve problems. Some have been neglected. Some have never gone very far outside of this neighborhood. Some spent the early years of their lives in refugee camps in Africa as their families worked hard to flee from civil war, famine and disease so they could have a shot at a better life.

In one respect our kids are easy to work with simply because I realize just how badly they need people in their lives who will support them, cheer them on, listen to what's important, lead them to Jesus...Some of them don't have that anywhere else in their life but here at the church. On the other hand, it's tough to work with our kids. A creative, fun program isn't enough. We have to invest in the whole kid for any of this to make a difference. Most of our kids are on the free lunch program at school. So what happens in the summer? Will they still get a nutritious meal in the middle of the day? What should we do as a church to care for their physical needs? If we have kids that are constant "trouble makers" starting fights and disrupting our program what should we do? Do we send them home or is that just perpetuating the problem? We need a lot of adults helping to make this work. Do we really have enough people who are willing to spend time with kids consistenly every week...even when they've had a long day and are tired? Because the reality is, a handful of us cannot do this alone.

I've decided that this summer we'll have the family fun nights and the week long vacation bible school. We'll partner with Athletes in Action and have kids attend the week long basketball camp at the local park. But then I'm not planning big kids events to the ball game or to the pool. I'm going to take a few kids at a time out to do things. I'm gong to get other adults excited about doing the same thing. I want to get to know these kids. I want them to learn that I'm a safe person they can trust. I want to really invest in them in smaller groups so that this children's ministry is built on a solid foundation. I pray this will open doors for me to interact with their parents.

Then there's Josh. Whenever he doesn't have to work on Wednesday nights he's here at the church helping with the middle school boys. They love him! He's such a natural with these kids. He's fun and goofy and then serious and to the point when he needs to be. I love watching him interact with the kids. I'm glad that it's something we both are passionate about.

Our society has really failed kids. The church has failed kids. It's time for that to change...and although I can't be part of that change everywhere, I can in this neighborhood in Lexington, KY.