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The truth comes out: I really came here for vacation BUT…

Today might have been one of the longest days of my life. Not kidding. Wait–have I already said that a few times this summer? Okay, well–today was a close tie to all those others:)

Started our day with babysitter Karissa arriving at 9am. Today was dentist day for Princess T–and we were heading down town about 45 minutes away to see Rico Suave’s dear friend who said he’d give us a discount. I had a good feeling we’d need one after the initial exam. Our days are quite expensive over here because I knew we’d be there all day too–so on top of dentist work…we’d need a sitter to help with some of the littles. I rarely leave more than 2 with a sitter, especially on Mondays when Frank has his swim lessons (Did you know he’s Olympic bound?? If not…that’s just extra. He got moved up again–go Frankie baby–and little 3 year old will be learning the butterfly and breast stroke now. Watch out Michael Phelps.) Soooo…Carissa took Frankie to swim while P-man cheered little brother on. I took ITY and Laney with me to give them mommy time in the waiting room while Princess T got her dental exam.

We helped get Frankie baby off for swim…gave kisses…goodbyes–and “You know how much I wish mommy could be there to watch you today–but T needs mommy today too!”…and off we went…

Princess T complained the whole way down to the dentist–can’t blame her…but my momma heart has to confess I struggled because dying to self isn’t easy…especially when a sitter is getting to be where your heart longs to be too. The show must go on…

We arrived at 11am appointment. We got called back at 11:30. Princess T was brave enough to go back by herself–praise JESUS! I really was hoping for time to love on ITY and Loo…so it worked well. Isaac had us, the staff and waiting patients holding our side as he asked the gorgeous African American receptionist over and over and over for her email. I’m in big trouble on day ladies. The boy is a charmer!

The doc called me back about 45 minutes later…AKA: this is just a checkup to tell us what we need to do–and we are starving now and need to eat. He proceeded to fill me in (no pun intended) that girly girl needs 5 fillings. YIKES. We had to talk about her willingness, costs, etc–and then we decided to go for it within a few days after seeing how much he could go ahead and get done right then. (So much for lunch.) We exited the office 4 hours later…yes 4 hours later…and unfortunately he wasn’t even able to finish half of them as one of the cavities was quite large. Working with someone who is unable to communicate with you and who won’t let you know if they are in pain or can fill anything or not also poses some risks–so he was super careful and really wanted to take his time. Sooooo…instead of an hour of waiting room bonding–we had 4 hours…and with a 2 year old who really needed his nap…it wasn’t the afternoon bonding experience that I had dreamed of. I was jumping around entertaining trying to keep the littlest from screaming (he is a stinker when he is tired).

Finally Princess T came out–and she was very upset about having to get fillings. We got in the car…momma felt like she could pass out–and for the next 30 minutes Princess T did charades with drills and teeth cleaning and in her own way told me how awful it was and complained all the way home. I pulled into a drive thru to give her a milkshake…it got turned down…and starving Loo bear in the back willingly took it instead. I wish my heart wanted to continue singing…but it really wanted to cry. I wished that she could see our hearts…the sacrifices we were making…how this was hard for me–but that’s make this about ME. And it’s not. This is dying to self. This is where service begins. Where there are no thank you’s. There is complaining about your serving. Your other children are missing you–they start crying in the back because they are tired…and she rolls her eyes and complains of their crying. (And I just recovered from yesterday…her complaining because she didn’t sleep well at the beach. Mom piled all 4 loves in her bed so Princess could have a private room all to herself. This part of serving is hard…but it is not about me or thankfulness. Something happens in your heart when you continue to serve someone who doesn’t seem to care.)

And that’s when mom decided–right now…no matter where you are…you are my daughter. I felt like I was doing a disservice–“When Helping Hurts” if I was not honest. So here goes. Pull out translator on iPhone…and out comes mom’s authenticity. This is very hard for me too. I know you are sad I took you to get your teeth checked. The way you are looking at me tells me how you feel about me right now. We know it was frustrating to spend all day there–we understand–we were there too… ON and on and on I shared…and Princess T did the stare where girly girl leans over and gives me a full stare down…enough to make even a strong momma nervous. But this momma now sees right through it. I told her she was not allowed to look at me that way–and we’d finish this conversation when we got home over google translate.

I checked my voicemail to hear someone asking if our family would be interested in bringing home an older child locally…the needs in the world are great. We drove home with Isaac crying because he missed his nap, Laney drinking a milkshake, T with folded arms up front–and me thinking…WHAT IF EVERY FAMILY JUST DECIDED TO HELP JUST ONE…JUST ONE…JUST ONE…THINK OF WHAT THAT WOULD DO? Why call me? We are crazy. But what if EVERY family just took care of ONE. They don’t have to adopt. They can host. They can foster. They can send a child that doesn’t have family to college and look after them across the world. What would the world look like if EVERY family just took care of ONE…JUST ONE?! Scripture calls us to care for orphans. That is for sure plural. But what if we decided to start with JUST ONE???

It is NOT just my calling. It is the calling of EVERY believer. It’s for sure plural. But what if we all just cared for ONE??? If we kept just one out of sex trafficking? Just one off of drugs? Just one from prostitution? Because these orphans–they become adults. And many of them…without wanting too will add to the orphan crisis. ONE FAMILY–ONE ORPHAN…just think of how the world would change!

So by 4pm we get home. LONG SAY. I mean LONG DAY…see–I can’t even type.

While I wanted to run to the littles and catch up on their days–I knew we really needed to mend hearts. So for the next 2 (almost 3) hours we had to sit behind google translate. If I tried to start something else sweet girl would call my name–and I just knew I needed to stop everything again and go there. I’m thankful I did.

We had some things we needed to work through…because T knows Jesus…and to be a good momma to her now I must point her to scripture and work through our feelings and actions. We talked about complaining…how to be thankful…we talked about how the Lord was showing Himself to both of us…we talked about things we needed to stop–the stink eye, etc. We talked about what it looked like to love…how allowing love in was a hard thing for her to do–it was a choice.

We went from heavy to light…she told me things she needed. I told her some things I wanted to share with her from a mommy to daughter…how to be a lady—like no more spitting out of the car, how we want her to sit with us at dinner (she usually finishes her plate before all of us can even sit down and then she leaves the table), how she needs to help clean up some after herself as even the littles do this. It was good. (And it actually worked because after dinner tonight she wanted to help!)

Then she had some things she wanted to tell me. Sweet girl told me that until I shared how it was for me–that she really just saw this as her vacation. She told me that she goes to a boarding school and doesn’t live at the orphanage–and how she’ll go to a trade school next year. How this was really vacation for her and that is why she didn’t help at all before. She shared some very hard, personal things–that explain much of why this girly girl is the way she is. She hasn’t had a momma to influence her-and only bad views of them…so I think much of her frustration has been taken out on me for that reason. She told me she saw me as her momma. Then she asked me if it was okay to call me that.

She shared her heart on aging out–how she has a dear aunt who visits her and shares Jesus with her. We talked about fears and hopes and dreams. She promised me things she would never do–and for the first time she said she wanted us to help her in some way. I told her I would twist Papa’s arm and make him come for a visit with me in Ukraine, and we’d do what it takes to make sure she is where she will thrive. We talked about her dream to cook…opening a restaurant one day…and how she now thinks she likes America as much as Ukraine…because she now has 2 families…one there and one here. There was much shared–and she really opened up for the first time. And I think in the last 3 hours she has successfully figured out a way to slide the word Mama into every English word she can say a million times…Done mama! Bye bye mama! Hi mama! Night night mama! All the while the kids sitting there taking it all in…not asking a question or saying a word.

In just 7 days–our sweet girl forever ages out of the system. Many like her will age out and be on their own. But I really believe the Lord has big plans for our hosting experience and relationship and this is not the end for our sweet girl–but the beginning of something new and beautiful. I really believe that. And now…I think she does too. She’s been walking around the house singing and humming.

Before she went to bed, I told her if anyone ever asks her if she has parents–she can now say YES. If they don’t believe her–they can call me and I told her I’d set them straight.

Soooooo…all of that happened before daddy got home from work tonight. You can imagine that momma wanted off duty the minute he walked in. BUT I saw a little 6 year old princess that needed some TLC tonight after a long day. I called Rico and told him he had a very important date tonight. I suited the littlest princess up and sent her off on a much needed date with her daddy…while the other 4 had dinner with momma. She was well loved tonight over dinner and then a trip to the ice cream parlor!

LAST but not least–our beach fun!!! It was really a great trip for T. My parents, whom she ADORES, joined us which was huge because Rich couldn’t join us because of work and a golf tournament (he won!!! yay Rico!). Not sure if you remember the first picture of T when she got here in June but you have to look at it and THEN watch this slideshow from our beach trip. MY how love has opened up this girl’s personality and heart!!! Amazing what the Lord can do even in a hosting summer!

T in June…

And just 4 weeks later…

Yes–that is the same girl!

Enjoy the slideshow of our crazy…(and you must know the older couple in some of these are my precious grandparents who I grew up just next door to! They are amazing–and live in Fairhope…so it’s just a stone throw away from my sister’s in law’s beach house. AND THANK YOU CARLCOCKS for letting us enjoy your amazing place!!! It was such fun!)

This summer has truly been an eye-opening adventure for our family. Thousands upon thousands of children age out of the system every year–and now this hits our home in a completely different way. While we did not feel the Lord leading us to grow through adoption in this situation, we also knew it was really impossible as USCIS approval had to received before the 30th. Trust me, my heart has ached and wrestled and called the agency and social workers…we’ve done it even though we haven’t felt the Lord saying move forward…our parents have done it…and while it is so hard we know the Lord has a plan–and He has to be opening our eyes to other ways to help kids just like our love.

Not every family can adopt. But every family CAN do something. What if every family loved an orphan deep and wide…and in their love…that child became no longer an orphan? Adoption will not be the plan for every child, but every child does need a family to love them and look after them in some capacity. Sure sponsoring a child through Compassion or Wiphan or this organization or that is great–but what might it look like to get REALLY involved in the life of a child who needs a family? What if the Lord wanted to use your family in the life of just ONE in a big, real, lasting way??? Will you pray about reaching out–being available–and for Him to show you just ONE??

Jennifer - July 23, 2012 - 11:59 pm

Beautiful Post!
You explain the details so well.

Traci - July 24, 2012 - 7:28 am

Absolutely beautiful!

Rory - July 24, 2012 - 11:15 am

Love you Andrea and your big beautiful heart! There are so many things I want to say in response to this post because just about every sentence ministered to me, and I know it is doing the same for others. You’re right! We can ALL do something to change the world for just ONE! I love that in your obedience, saying YES to God this summer you have shown all of us just one more way that can be done. This is the real stuff!!

cindy - July 24, 2012 - 2:04 pm

Andrea…have been following your journey with T especially! We are welcoming Alyona (14 year old orphan from Ukraine!) into our home SATURDAY! We were a ‘last minute host’ as her host family fell thru. It has taken me too long to tell you that God used your posting of your world to prep me to say ‘yes’ quickly when this opportunity came. We adopted 2 boys from ET a year ago and had an 18 year old drop in for a year before. What you have reminded me so well is that God does not call us to love because it’s EASY. If that were the case, we wouldn’t even begin to ‘taste and see’ that the Lord is good. I’m grateful for you taking the time to share. I don’t know how I will when there will be 3 teens in my house and 3 youngers too. Regardless I have to believe and hope for a family for her. More importantly I pray for the LOVE of Jesus to somehow change her AND go home with her. I believe you’ve shown Jesus’ love to T. I’m grateful. I already ache at the thought of your T and my Alyona going back on that plane. God can and will see fit to meet them …maybe through a family..but definitely through His son. Thank you!!! May Jesus’ presence be the biggest blessing you’ve experienced in all this! p.s. It was thru healing of my Lymes disease that God led us to adopt;p go figure!

Rachel Goode - July 25, 2012 - 4:01 pm

Yay! Breakthrough! Love it!